20 Signs That You’re a Success in Your Industry

industry success

Running a small business can be confusing and the path forward is often unclear. Many small business owners are hanging on the brink of being just successful enough to not go out of business.  In otherwords, many are just getting by.

If that’s the case, should you keep the business open in hopes of future success or just close up shop? And on the flip side, what if your business is doing well and profiting? What is that moment of truth that tells you, as a small business owner, that your company is a success in your industry? Below are 20 signs that you’ve got something beyond mere survival.

20 Signs That You’re an Industry Success

1. Your Company Earns Money While You’re on Vacation

Going on vacation and earning money at the same time means you have built a company, not just a job. This means that your business is at the level where, during your absence, it just doesn’t survive, but thrives.

2. You Show Up on the First Page of Search Results

The new main streets for the digital age are search engines like Bing and Google. Some business owners feel that when they organically show up on the first page of their favorite search engine, they have made it. And there’s truth to that, because it means you have risen to the top when it comes to SEO (search engine optimization).

3. You Change a Customer’s Life

Many small business owners seek to make a difference in the world through their businesses. When a customer writes or visits the office to tell you the difference you have made in their life, it’s one of those moments you know that you are unstoppable.

4. Clients Find You

When people you do not know and have never contacted start purchasing from your business, then you can be sure that you’ve developed your reach. In fact, your product may have become such that people cannot do without it, hence the avalanche of patronage.

5. You Know You’re Not Alone

A time will come when you finally realize that many other small business owners share the same problems as you. It is at this time, when you have become a success in your industry, where competitors start copying your strategies and principles. It’s at this point that you’re sure of progress.

6. Customers Refer You

The highest compliment is when one of your customers refers another person to your business. Customers will freely recommend your product when they know that you have what it takes to satisfy your customers. This could be a sign that your business is booming.

7. You Bounce Back

When you go through bad times and you are able to bounce back to success, this means you’ve attained a good level of resilience. Successful companies can recover despite economic recessions. This should be your goal.

8. News Media Take Notice

A news article publishes your brand and helps to get the word out, and it flushes out other “believers” besides you. This means that one advertisement can greatly increase your company’s visibility, enticing clients from all walks of life to buy into your brand, thus boosting business.

9. You Fire Customers

When your business is successful enough, it can let go of customers that are unprofitable. Your business can get to a stage where you cannot deal with all the customers you have. Therefore, focusing on customers that can contribute more to your income can make your business more profitable.

10. You Achieve Positive Cash Flow

This implies that the business has recorded success, whereby it can reinvest its profits for future growth. Here, your business has grown so much that you gain high paying clients. When this happens, reinvesting in your business becomes easy.

11. A Publisher Asks You to Write a Book

Even in the digital age, when you write a book you instantly add to your company’s expertise. Publishers will want to woo you to write a book that has to do with your industry because you have become an expert. This increases your online reputation and what follows is nothing other than more clients.

12. Demand From Customers is in Abundance

The time has come when customers all over the globe are now demanding your product. When there is very a high rate of demand, this means that they are getting their money’s worth from your brand.

13. Partnership

You’ve arrived when you are able to sponsor grand projects in your community, state or country. You can now attract smaller brands that will come under the umbrella of your brand by partnering with you.

14.You Have an Exceptional Team

There is a point when you realize your employees are exceptional and that your partners are selling your products in abundance. This means that your hiring choices were on point, which is why your company is yielding great results.

15.Playing As a Team or Sharing and Collaborating With Other Lines of Business

You ensure that sales intelligence is available to other functions within the company, like marketing, customer service and operations. When all departments of a company are armed with the same information, it allows for a much more cohesive unit and a more highly functioning machine.

16. Accountability Via Goal Setting and Milestone Achievement

You never toy with accountability. Smart sales teams define sales milestones, including the use of available sales intelligence data. Good business intelligence has been proven to be valuable and effective, so you are taking full advantage of it.

17. Know Your Opponent or Keep Your Sales Intelligence Intelligent

You don’t just do reconnaissance on future opponents at the beginning of the season. It’s a constant process, with scouts posted all over the country, reporting back constantly, and the analysis never ends. If a team is working with outdated information, that’s trouble.

18. You Keep Your Data Organized and in One Place

Your most effective sales teams capture sales intelligence on their prospects, customers and markets and organize all of the data in one place, like a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) solution. This makes it accessible to everyone who needs it.

19. You Operate on an International Level

You do not operate on just a national level. This means that your business has transcended into a global one. Your branches are spread throughout the world. This shows that you have a universal vision for your business.

20. Your Team is Second to None

Your employees are unbeatable wherever they go, because you invest a whole lot in their personal development. Plus, you don’t overlook their training on business development. This shows that providing customers with top notch service is your priority.

Now think about your company; does it have the characteristics of a winning team? If so, great, but there are probably areas where you think there can be improvement.

If not, there’s no magic bullet that will make everything fall into place. But you can take steps to become a champion and a success in your industry.

Crystal Ball Photo via Shutterstock

The post 20 Signs That You’re a Success in Your Industry appeared first on Small Business Trends.

5 Little Changes that Can Take Your Small Business to the Next Level

Take Your Small Business to the Next LevelData from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has revealed that “49 percent of establishments survive 5 years or more; 34 percent survive 10 years or more; and 26 percent survive 15 years or more”.

In other words, the probability of your business surviving the next 5 year is less than its probability of failing and this is no different online. If you’re not careful, your business will most probably not last 2 years.

How can you change this? From an individual level to the business level, there are a lot of things you can do to ensure your business not only survives the test of time but that it is also very profitable; here are 5 little changes that can take your small business to the next level:

1. Have a Clearly Defined USP

According to Entrepreneur.com, a Unique Selling Proposition or USP is “The factor or consideration presented by a seller as the reason that one product or service is different from and better than that of the competition”.

In simple terms, your USP is what separates your business or makes it better than that of a competitor; one major reason why most businesses fail is because they don’t have a clearly defined USP. They just open like every other business and they fail just like every other business.

In fact, 2009 data from the SBA has revealed that more small businesses close every year than are opened every year and this only makes sense when we consider the tens of millions of small businesses that exist and the hundreds of thousands of new businesses that are created every year. Without clear differentiation, your business won’t go forward.

You can take your business to the next level by having a clear USP that makes your business appropriate to a select group of people who will be your fans and customers and who will keep your business profitable on the long-term.

This post on ThinkTraffic.net gives some great examples of good USPs.

2. Your Selling is Weak

It’s important to understand that for the purpose of this article, “marketing” and “selling” are two different things.

Most small businesses fail because they do a lot of marketing and little selling; it’s all about increasing the budget, getting more traffic, paying for ads, paying for exposure, doing this and that without actual effort to ensure a significant portion of people coming as a result of their marketing becomes buyers.

Some very effective ways to sell to potential customers are by:

  • Effectively using scarcity in your copy; people won’t buy what they can get tomorrow today, and “tomorrow” will never come. A little scarcity in your copy can go a long way.
  • Effectively use social proof in your copy; it’s how we’re wired. We’re more likely to do something everyone else is doing because there’s less risk involved and also because it’s usually a good sign it is working.  Make it clear that other people are using your product and you’ll make more sales.
  • Eliminate every objections potential buyers will have, this includes their fear of whether your product will work for them, whether your site is secure and whether you can be trusted. You can overcome these fears by offering a money-back guarantee, offering unlimited support until they get the hang of your product and letting people know that your site can be trusted by telling them you use a reliable payment processor as well as advance security techniques.

3. Your Marketing is Weak

For the purpose of this article, “marketing” is the process of advertising your services to people who have never heard about it before with the goal of getting them to check you out and possibly becoming customers.

It’s very simple, you can’t expect to have customers when nobody has heard about your business. Of course, the situation is always different for every business and there’ll be cases where you don’t even have the budget your competitors have for marketing. In that case, do the work yourself. There are a lot of businesses and individuals who have done it successfully and some great examples are:

  • Leo Widrich of Bufferapp.com was able to grow the startup to its first 100,000 users in its first 9 months by guest blogging.
  • Kissmetrics.com was able to grow its blog to over 1 million visitors in 10 months without paid traffic; the blog now constantly gets hundreds of thousands of visitors monthly.
  • The American Express blog now gets millions of visitors yearly and this has impacted the growth of their business.

While the above are some notable examples, unless you’re ready to work for most part of the day it might be difficult to pull it off; you might need to invest some money or do the work yourself.

4. Your Broadband Internet is now “Slowband” Internet

Since we’re talking about business here, how does broadband internet come into the equation?

The key to building a successful business is not just about your website/business but about you as a person; if we’re being honest, your entire business success will depend on you.

If there’s one thing you can invest on to get great results for your business, it is better broadband and internet.

Here are some reasons you need a better broadband to take your business to the next level:

  • It makes connecting with those who can help your business easier; sometimes, you’ll have to get on Skype and have a video call. A high quality internet connection makes this easy.
  • It makes it easier to market your business.  The web now relies to a great extent on multimedia content that can be better produced with quality internet.
  • It makes learning extremely easy.  With quality resources like Lynda.com and the Khan Academy, learning new skills to improve as an entrepreneur has never been easier.

5. Be Realistic

Now, while all the above are great changes that can help your business grow; the best change you can make is to change your mindset…

Yes, your business is your baby and you want it to succeed at all cost but having unnecessary hope will only lead to you losing motivation and failing; look at your business nature and industry to see what is happening and what it takes to grow. Make sure your hopes aren’t too high; that way, you can focus for a long time without much worries. However, you’ll also be surprised if you suddenly experience exponential growth.

Joseph is a professional marketer with years of business experience; he writes for Woosh, a reliable broadband and internet services provider.

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

Michael Jordan Files Countersuit Against Alleged Baby Mama

Michael Jordan is  suing the alleged baby mama, Pamela Smith, who hit him with a paternity suit and who claimed he got her pregnant in 1995 demanding a DNA test to prove he was the father of her 16-year-old son, TMZ reports.

Jordan denied the child was his and the suit was dismissed.

But now Jordan  has filed legal documents to keep the case open for a counter claim against Smith so she can cover his court costs and “whatever other sanctions a judge deems necessary.”

 

Woman Covered Up Aunt’s Death to Live in $287 a Month Apartment

be newsA Brooklyn woman allegedly fooled her dead aunt’s co-op board into thinking the woman was still alive, to keep living in the rent-stabilized apartment for $287 a month, the NY Post reports.

For four years Brenda Williams, 55, gave neighbors regular health updates on Debbie Vaughan long after the woman died at age 93 in 2007 — and kept board members at the Prospect Park building from trying to contact the woman, according to a lawsuit filed.

Williams claimed “her aunt was paranoid and senile and if we knocked on the door, she would have a heart attack,” said the co-op board’s president, Diana Hansen-Young.

Read more at the NY Post

 

 

 

Reddit Founder Tells ‘Fellow Geeks’ to Stop Being Sexist

be newsPenning a post titled “Dear Fellow Geeks: WTF?”, Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian speaks out on his blog against the sexism on Reddit, particularly in response to the recent Adria Richards scandal, Huffington Post reports.

While attending a tech conference, Richards tweeted a photo of men sitting behind her whom she said were making sexist comments. One of those men was subsequently fired from his job, and Richards was fired from her position at SendGrid.

The situation started a backlash against Richards. This bothered Ohanian. In his blog post he writes:

The comments (and support for them) I’ve seen over the past few days have really disappointed me and I really hope this is a chance for us to reflect on how we use these tools to foster the tech community. This isn’t “political correctness,” this is you having the courage to use your words to create an environment that promotes an open exchange of ideas — not alienate people and certainly not terrorize them.

Read more at Huffington Post

Cultivating Your Concept

Idea InnovationSome entrepreneurs are lucky. Carrying a natural flair for the eureka moment, bright ideas light up their mind like Einstein.

For the majority of us though, it’s a little tougher. Not as blessed as Branson, building new ideas can be a struggle, inspiration almost impossible to come by.

It’s amongst the biggest challenges facing the aspiring entrepreneur; how can they establish an innovative idea that’ll shake up markets?

Well, unfortunately there’s no definitive answer to that, but there are steps you can take to get your creative juices flowing.

Experiencing entrepreneurial inertia? Then start by doing some of the following…

Consider your strengths and ponder your passions

Commonsensical, this, but it’s something aspiring entrepreneurs can fail to do.

Whilst certain markets can look lucrative, if you enter them without the adequate expertise you’ll be in no place to succeed. Instead, consider your strengths and think about how best you can apply these.

Elsewhere, pondering your passions can exacerbate creativity as by knowing a product, issue or industry inside out, you’ll know better how it can be improved.

Find a problem and think about how you can fix it

Pondering things you’re passionate about will help you identify problems, but just looking around you you’ll see that the world is ripe with staid products and industries ready to be improved.

Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos is perhaps the greatest example of this sort of disruptive innovation. He’s dramatically altered the worlds of retail and publishing, addressing problems facing consumers.

Fixing problems for customers is Amazon’s raison d’etre and as a net worth of $24 billion dollars illustrates, Jeff Bezos’s philosophy is one worth abiding by.

Look, listen and learn

If you’re struggling to identify problems yourself, seek them out.

Speak to friends and family, trawl internet forums, keep your eyes and ears open wherever you go. People like to moan (well here in the UK they do anyway) so think how you can address their problems.

Inspiration can come in many shapes and guises. By looking, listening and learning, you’ll help instigate the creative process.

Do some crystal ball gazing

I don’t mean literally of course, unless that’s your thing.

Considering the future can help creatively though, examining trends and technological developments helping to shape your business ideas. Look at the early dot.com entrepreneurs, they foresaw a growing trend, took a risk and many received huge rewards.

None of us are Nostradamus, so sift through the stats and studies, and see where the opportunities lie.

Lastly, never underestimate the power of cutting costs

Even after taking all these steps innovative ideas can still be had be hard to come by. Don’t be defeated though.

By merely cutting costs, you’ll draw customers’ in. If you can increase quality whilst doing so, even better. In today’s tumultuous economy, price is paramount and people will flock to your product if you can better competitors.

The success of retail chain Primark is a clear example of the power of cutting costs. Yet to expand to the US, it’s caused quite a commotion in Europe, so much so a mini riot ensued at its opening down London’s Oxford Street.

Mimicking the styles and designs of their pricier competitors, they offer a cheaper version of similar quality. Clearly then, you don’t always need to innovate like Apple.

Mark James is an in-house Writer for UK based small business accountants Crunch and limited company formations site, Go Limited.

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

Amazon Acquires Goodreads: Impact and Alternatives

Bookselling giant Amazon announced late last week that it is acquiring Goodreads.  The purchase price was not revealed. The transaction is expected to close later this year.

Book lovers know Goodreads as the large and increasingly popular book-review site with a strong  social element.  At Goodreads you can review books, discuss books, and connect with other readers based on mutual interests. Goodreads says on its website that it is  “the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations.”  Based in San Francisco, Goodreads has 16 million members and 23 million book reviews.

One of the plans is to make Goodreads integrate with Kindle.  Goodreads CEO Otis Chandler will report to Amazon’s Vice President of Kindle content, Russ Grandinetti — a telling clue to where Goodreads fits in the overall Amazon strategy.

Goodreads Autonomy Not Assured

Goodreads will be run as a separate subsidiary of Amazon, much like Zappos.  A concern among Goodreads users is whether the review site can maintain neutrality toward other retailers, once it is part of the Amazon family.

I logged on this morning to my Goodreads account and noticed that one of my 700+ friends there posted this message – she’s clearly not happy with the Amazon takeover:

Goodreads defector

While some will surely make similar gestures, the announcement is unlikely to cause a mass defection immediately.  People don’t like to switch apps, and as I point out below, there aren’t many Goodreads alternatives that offer the same social community and ecommerce-platform independence.  The real impact will depend on what Amazon does with Goodreads over the medium and long term.

Up to now Goodreads has been seen as independent of any particular retailer.  In an interview on Paid Content, Goodreads CEO Otis Chandler reiterated his desire for that retailer-neutral element to remain.

However, that decision will not be up to Chandler alone.  Autonomy has a way of going out the window after a while, in most acquisitions.  Amazon has shown intolerance when it comes to using its data in sites that give visibility to competing retailers.  Goodreads itself discovered that last year, causing it to stop using the Amazon API.

Chandler said that Goodreads would continue to offer its own API.  The API gives third parties access to certain Goodreads data.

Goodreads for Business Books

Entrepreneur authors of business books have caught on to Goodreads as another place to develop an audience for their books.  When I first joined the site two years ago, it had a decided focus on fiction books.  But in the past year I’ve noticed business books being reviewed and discussed more frequently there — and more business authors joining.

Goodreads encourages authors to connect with fans and develop a following, through its Author Program.  Authors can have blogs, and host giveaways and Q&As on the site.  There is a self-serve advertising program — and thousands of book clubs on the site to tap into and connect with.

Goodreads Alternatives

For those concerned about Goodreads becoming part of Amazon, there are some alternatives.

Shelfari is not one of them.  Amazon acquired Shelfari in 2008.  Once promising, Shelfari seems to have been eclipsed by Goodreads.   Of course, Shelfari never had as strong a social element as Goodreads.

LibraryThing is another reader site with an Amazon connection.  Abebooks, which is owned by Amazon, has a 40% stake in LibraryThing. LibraryThing’s website says it has 1.6 million book lovers as members.

Google Books, through Google Play, offers a book app that combines the ability to purchase, store and review books.  The Google Books app on my Nexus 10 tablet has a simple elegant interface. Goodreads reviews are incorporated into Google Books as one review source (along with some other sources).  It’s not clear whether that will continue.  But Google is ramping up its own social review capabilities.  When you leave a review on Google Books it ties in with your Google+ account, so that your connections on Google’s social network can see what you think about a particular book, and vice versa, as the notice below indicates.

Goodgle Books reviews

Bookish, a joint venture of three publishers (Hachette, Penguin Books and Simon & Schuster) was launched just this year.  It is an e-commerce site but also gives users their own book shelves.  As you might imagine with a site owned by publishers, Bookish appears to be focused on presenting and selling books from a publisher’s perspective, and promoting their big-name authors.  The community interaction element seems limited.

Book Crossing, Book Rabbit and Revish are three smaller book-lover community/bookshelf sites.

And then there are dozens of book apps – each seems to offer some different combination of features.  Some are ebook readers tied to specific retailers (like iBooks, Nook and Kindle) that also allow you to keep track of your electronic books that you’ve purchased, but typically offer little in the way of social interaction and discussion around books.

Book Crawler and ReadMill are two iOS book apps independent of any retailer and popular with readers.

Kobo, headquartered in Japan, also has its own bookstore, tablet readers, and free reader apps.

If you know of others, please share in the comments below.

The post Amazon Acquires Goodreads: Impact and Alternatives appeared first on Small Business Trends.

Lil Wayne: ‘I’ve Had a Bunch of Seizures’

lil wayne smilingAccording to Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr., AKA Lil Wayne, his recent health scares are related to him having epilepsy. The rapper recently had 3 seizures in a matter of days and was falsely reported to be near death after his latest one.

As the eclectic artist spoke to DJ Felli Fel of Power 106 in Los Angeles, he explains he has the neurological condition which can cause seizures. ”This isn’t my first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh seizure,” Wayne said. “I’ve had a bunch of seizures. Y’all just never hear about them. But this time, it got real bad because I had three of them in a row.”

He also stated that his team is typically prepared to handle his seizures and after his latest one, his heart rate dropped significantly.

You can read more at Complex

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