3 WAYS TO BE THE CEO OF YOUR OWN LIFE

3 WAYS TO BE THE CEO OF YOUR OWN LIFE

I’m the CEO of a leading digital marketing company with over 800 employees in 21 offices worldwide, but that’s not my most important role. My most important role is something more personal: being the CEO of my own life.

You have as much control over your own life and success as a CEO has over the success of his or her company — often even more. You have the ability and power to make decisions in every area of your life. You are responsible for your happiness, your friendships, and your job. If you don’t like them and want to change them — you can.

Often, people do not take as much of a conscious, organized approach when it comes to managing their personal lives as they do their professional lives. They let others control their life, success, and happiness. This is a missed opportunity.

The most important skill I use as CEO (the most important skill for any CEO) is the ability to execute and get things done. You need to master this same skill as CEO of your own life. In life, as in business, I have to base my actions on my vision for the future. Here are three ways to make yourself the CEO of your own life and to master execution.

1. Define Your Vision

Having a clear vision not only determines how you act, but it also gives those actions meaning. While executives understand that organizations need a vision and a purpose, many people don’t realize that their own lives require the same driving factors.

While details like your career and your relationship may reflect aspects of your personality, they don’t make up your vision for your life. One of the reasons some people have difficulty when they retire or change careers is that they feel lost and struggle to find their identities.

Understanding your vision of yourself and your purpose is vital. Once you determine your vision, it’s much easier to determine the actions you must take to fulfill that vision. If, for example, your vision is to serve your community, you will view the other facets of your life through that lens, from how you spend your time to how you spend your money.

2. Take Action

Once your vision has been firmly established, it will guide your actions in a meaningful way. If you’re going to get anywhere, you’ve got to take that first step.

Taking action is not easy; you will have to overcome fear, doubt, and quite possibly rejection. To successfully execute and be the CEO of your own life, you must have the ability to feel fear and do it anyway.

It can be simple and straightforward: It just needs to be a step. There is no wrong action as long as it moves you closer to your vision. If you want to be an artist, take an art class. If you want to start a business, go do the research. If you want to write a book, write the first sentence.

The only way you will ever realize your vision is to take action. And the more you relate your actions to your vision, the more fulfilled you will feel. While it’s more comfortable to take the easy path and put your dreams on hold, don’t hide in the safety of settling. Great things can happen only when you step outside your comfort zone.

When I lost my first job in my early 20s, it would certainly have been easier to seek security as an employee at another tech company. But my vision was to create a life with freedom and control. After feeling unable to control my own destiny when my first company went bankrupt, this vision drove me to become an entrepreneur and allowed me to overcome my fears about doing so. I moved to Hawaii, where I worked at my kitchen table until all hours of the night and built a company that grew to over $100 million in annual revenue. My vision not only dictated my actions, but it also gave them the meaning that carried me through long hours and myriad doubts.

3. Audit Your Life

CEOs have to pay attention to all aspects of their businesses, and being the CEO of your life is no different. You need to evaluate all facets of your life and make changes where necessary. One of the most important factors contributing to your success or failure is the people you surround yourself with.

To be successful, you must build healthy, inspiring, and supportive relationships. Life is a team sport — you cannot do it alone. And who wants to? I would not be where I am today without all the people who have helped and supported me along the way. Building these relationships is not just a cornerstone to execution: It’s an integral part of success on all fronts of life.

The more you surround yourself with people who drain your energy or foster doubt, the less you are called to step into your true potential. The more you surround yourself with amazing people, the more you’re called to step into your greatness. I consciously make a point of spending more time with people who challenge, motivate, inspire, and support me and less time with people who drain my energy.

An organization is only as good as the people in it, and the same is true for your personal life. Other people influence us more than we like to imagine; their ideas, attitudes, and beliefs affect us both consciously and unconsciously.

Just as in a corporate team, surrounding yourself with the wrong people can mean the difference between success and failure. Build a personal culture of support, learning, and authenticity, just as you would do when creating a company culture. Jim Rohn famously said we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with, and I agree wholeheartedly.

Every year, I conduct an audit of the people in my life and who I am spending the most time with. Are they beneficial or detrimental? Are they neutral? Then I optimize my time to spend more of it with the positive influences and minimize my association with the negative influences. As the CEO of your own life, you have the ability to promote or demote the people you surround yourself with. This one action has had a huge impact on my success and my ability to continually execute.

Taking control of your life and making sure that your actions reflect your vision is necessary in the fast-paced, distraction-filled world we live in. Become the CEO of your life, and create the life you dream of.

 

 

 


3 WAYS TO MAKE YOUR RELATIONSHIPS THE BEST THEY CAN BE

3 WAYS TO MAKE YOUR RELATIONSHIPS THE BEST THEY CAN BE

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” —Jim Rohn

We are much more influenced by the people we hang out with than we imagine. Others don’t just give us ideas and feedback about ourselves; they can affect our energy, too.

Because of this, I take stock of the people in my life every year, sometimes reflecting on my relationships in the moment as well. I categorize them according to who lifts me up, who brings me down and who does neither. I make a conscious point to spend more time with the people who inspire me and less time with the people who either hold me back or don’t positively impact me.

Related: 
That doesn’t mean you have to stop hanging out with anyone who isn’t a Nobel Prize winner—inspiration and positivity come in a variety of forms. I was very inspired by my Uber driver the other day, for example. He told me that he was working 14 hours a day in the military while driving for Uber on the side. His above-and-beyond work ethic inspired me.

It’s crucial to be curious about other people and to try to understand what makes them tick. Find other people who are passionate about life and what they do, and always stay open to new relationships by being curious about people.

Seeking out new connections inevitably means reducing time spent with some of the older ones. You don’t need to cut ties completely unless they’re truly toxic. The key is to understand the value of each of your relationships. You certainly don’t need to be spending time with people who drain your energy or seed doubt in your ability to execute. The more you surround yourself with amazing people, the more you’re called to step into greatness.

The law of averages tells us that in order to increase your wins, you have to increase your losses. This theory fits perfectly with the practice of taking stock of your relationships. Think about it: You have to meet many people in order to find the ones who have a truly positive influence on your life. The more people you meet, the more likely you are to find those influential relationships, personal and professional. It involves putting yourself out there and engaging with some people who might offer you nothing.

I call this process of evaluating existing relationships a “personal audit.” If a relationship isn’t helping you grow or making you happy, it might be better to significantly reduce your contact or even sever ties completely. My personal audits help me identify who’s a positive influence. Making a conscious effort to consider my relationships has been extremely rewarding.

I am constantly evaluating who’s emotionally draining me and who’s giving me energy. If you aren’t motivated, inspired or challenged by the people you spend time with, it’s harder to be successful and happy. Being with people who believe in you and provide the strength you need to turn your dreams into reality is critical because wherever they’re going, you’re going, too. These audits help me better understand my relationships and the roles different people have in my life, as well as my role in the lives of others.

Related:

Start with three key steps to make your personal and professional relationships the best they can be:

1. Proactively seek new relationships.

You should seek out those who inspire you at work and spend time with them. Build relationships with them apart from your job. Send a note, ask them to coffee or simply approach them at a work event. Connect with new people outside of work, too. Attend industrywide events and explore personal hobbies. After all, to surround yourself with inspiring people, you have to connect with them first.

2. Associate with people who are different from you. 

Find people who succeed where you fail and try to learn from their journeys. Chances are you have something to offer them, too. Although our instinct is to surround ourselves with people who are similar to us, it’s also important to branch out and converse with people who might have a different approach.

3. Keep your standards high. 

Remember, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. As new people enter your life, ask yourself who strengthens you and who drains you. Who helps you succeed and who highlights your failures? Does the idea of spending time with a person excite your spirit or sap your energy? Decide who’s worth your time and who isn’t. Time is your most valuable asset, so use what you do have on the people who bring out the positive in you.

At first, the idea of removing people from your life or limiting your interactions with them might seem ruthless. It might sound like the coldhearted behavior of someone who doesn’t care about people, but it’s actually a heart-centered process that allows you to create healthy relationships. Through it, you can create a more productive, inspiring and emotionally fulfilling life.

 


HOW WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS CAN USE EXECUTION FOR STARTUP SUCCESS

HOW WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS CAN USE EXECUTION FOR STARTUP SUCCESS

Women still receive only 7 percent of U.S. venture capital funding, but there’s one tool at their disposal they must master to be successful.

Women are making huge strides in the workplace. Although only has created massive opportunities that shove gender bias aside, by empowering and enabling all entrepreneurs (especially the female segment) to do what they’re passionate about. The sharing economy, the freelance “gig” economy, the emergence of “solopreneurs”: this is the future. But women have to act on it.

Related: 5 Powerful Rules for Women Entrepreneurs to Live By

In that regard, I’ve found that, as a female entrepreneur, I have a particular skill that has helped me overcome gender bias and act on these opportunities: execution.

Throughout 15 years as a female founder, investor in more than 60 startups and CEO, I’ve learned that execution is the one skill every entrepreneur has to master to be successful. Here’s how you can master it, too:

1. Set goals to maintain your focus.

When the going gets tough, focus on a specific goal for motivation. Visualization is one powerful tool that works here. Before I sold my business in 2014, I wrote down my sales-date goal and some ideas on who would acquire us, and taped it to my bathroom mirror.

More than nine months later, the deal closed, and I sold my company for $235 million. Not everyone uses a note on a mirror, but people like Jim Carrey and the late Muhammad Ali have been famous proponents of visualization. The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors has noted that 82 percent of small business owners who use visual goal-setting tools from the outset of their businesses achieve more than half of those initial goals.

Other evidence exists that writing goals down works: Cartoonist Scott Adams repeatedly wrote his career goal down 15 consecutive times a day for months until he reached it. And to-do list trends, like that of keeping a bullet journal (using paper and pen instead of online tools) are gaining steam among those who find visualizing their workloads helpful. Notebook company Moleskine, whose products are used for bullet journals, is bringing in profits double what the company saw just five years ago.

2. Embrace sacrifice and rejection.

Success comes only if the idea is worth suffering for. Entrepreneurs work extreme hours and spend huge swaths of their finances just to get their ideas off the ground. Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, faced rejection after rejection when she started her company, but after two years of talking to department store customers, saw her business take off. She’s now a billionaire.

According to Gallup, is worth sacrificing for. After setting simple, clearly defined goals, start making moves.

Take one action, no matter how small. Once the ball is rolling, you’ll find it easier to reach the ultimate goal.

Related: Why Women Entrepreneurs Have a Harder Time Finding Funding

3. Turn hardships into opportunities for resilience.

Any successful person knows success is built on failure. She (or he) can ramble off a dozen times things that higher levels of estrogen in the female brain make it better able to deal with chronic stress.

The first year I started my own company, we couldn’t afford an automated backup system for our database of clients; one weekend, the entire database got erased. I was mortified but eventually recovered all the missing data from every one of our clients and invested in a backup plan.

Women also tend to be more humble about their achievements: NPR reported on a research collaboration between professors from the University of North Carolina and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. The research estimated that if women had the same level of confidence as men, the number of projects they would launch after an initial failure would increase by 33 percent.

4. Form relationships that demand your best.

Never underestimate the potential of being around someone who demands your very best. The late motivational speaker Jim Rohn said: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” So, invest in people and relationships that offer motivation, inspiration, productive challenge and support.

Spend time with positive people who are hard-working, inquisitive and able to dream big. These are the 85 percent of the success of an average person who’s “made it” in terms of monetary success is owing to his or her people skills. Only 15 percent can be attributed to technical skills.

Related: Dear Everyone, Let’s Kill the Phrase ‘Women Entrepreneurs’

As women strive to gain more funding and start their own businesses, execution is what separates the dreamers from the doers. Being a woman shouldn’t determine whether a startup succeeds or fails: Use these skills to set goals, overcome stereotypes and succeed.

 

 


WHY ENTREPRENEURS SHOULD AIM TO FAIL — THAT’S RIGHT. THEY SHOULD ACTIVELY SEEK IT.

WHY ENTREPRENEURS SHOULD AIM TO FAIL — THAT’S RIGHT. THEY SHOULD ACTIVELY SEEK IT.

WHY ENTREPRENEURS SHOULD AIM TO FAIL — THAT’S RIGHT. THEY SHOULD ACTIVELY SEEK IT.

When you come out of a tough situation and realize you weren’t crushed by it, you’ll be stronger.

Here’s a viewpoint that might cause you to do a double take: Activelyseeking rejection means you’re learning, adapting and getting that much closer to your destination.

Before you click away, just think about this a moment: Entrepreneurs are innovators: They defy conventional wisdom to find ways to improve it, and they challenge assumptions to approach a given industry or need from a unique perspective. They live at the intersection of innovation and practicality. For them, failure is a necessity to reach success.

So, maybe failure’s “teachable moments” are actually worth striving for because they help you attain that innovation.

Two entrepreneurs in Michigan have recently explored this idea. And, as a result, they’ve taken the embrace of failure to the next level: Jordan O’Neil and Jonathan Williams co-founded Failure Lab, an event that actually encourages participants to share stories of their biggest failures in their personal, academic and professional lives. The two men emphasize that the event isn’t just about comparing failures — it’s an exercise in learning from them and becoming more resilient after them.

Each failure an entrepreneur encounters is a lesson; it’s a learning experience to help grow and succeed on the next attempt — and the attempt after that. Accepting failures as a critical element of doing business is essential for entrepreneurs on the path to success. Here are the steps to take on that path:

Actively seek rejection.

I’m an advisor for several companies and fellow entrepreneurs. Working with entrepreneurs is one of my passions, and as an active angel investor, I speak with startup entrepreneurs and founders regularly. In short, I’ve seen many people — including myself — experience failure.

But that’s not a bad thing: Getting rejected means we’ve taken action to get ourselves closer to our destination and enables us to learn and adapt. Consider this “fail” acronym: Frequent Adaptation Inspires Learning. It’s about changing your perspective and how you see failure.

In his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, whose work in cognitive neuroscience and rationality earned him the Nobel Prize in economics, unraveled human thinking. He described the many “cognitive biases” that people live with; he illuminated how our brains seek to reduce complexities into familiar, simplistic alternatives. While this thinking pattern might be helpful for someone going about a daily routine, it can stifle innovation. When it comes to entrepreneurship, there must be a willingness to experiment.

Failure, in other words, helps inform the thought process behind experimentation. Sometimes, the only way to know how an idea will work out is to try it. If it doesn’t work, that result signals that it’s time for a new approach.

Approach failure like a lesson.

Success requires the ability to execute. Most of the time, the actions required of an entrepreneur make rejection a distinct possibility. Room for failure exists everywhere, from learning something new, to selling products, to asking for venture capital, to taking out a business loan — and even to telling friends and family about a new idea. But the next time you’re facing a meeting or experience that might go downhill, remember these benefits you can take from rejection:

Benefit: You’ll feel the fear but move forward anyway.

Through a mutual acquaintance, I recently connected with an aspiring fashion entrepreneur. She wanted to launch a shoe line and asked me for advice on how to start her business. She confided to me that rejection — failing to sell the shoes she designed — was her biggest fear. My advice to her was simple: Feel the fear, and do it anyway.

Of course, a startup’s beginning stages are a delicate time: In fact, 25 percent fail during that initial year, and 50 percent follow suit within another three years. But it’s important to persevere. While my new acquaintance might not make a sale on her first call, or even on her 50th, she’ll improve her skills and her pitch each time and thus get better at dealing with objections.

“Feel the fear, and do it anyway” is the mantra for my team. No one likes rejection, but you quickly learn that you can survive it — and that most of the time, the outcome isn’t as bad as you imagined. Even Arianna Huffington faced several rejections before she found success: Her book was turned down by about 40 publishers, and her gubernatorial campaign in California netted less than 1 percent of the vote. But soon after that, she launched The Huffington Post, which became one of the most-read news sites online.

All entrepreneurs must master the technique of pushing forward despite their fears. If your fear of rejection immobilizes you, you won’t be successful.

Benefit: You’ll adopt a growth mindset. 

Carol Dweck wrote a popular book called Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, in which she discussed a concept known as the “growth mindset.” A growth mindset requires recognition that you can always improve through a willingness to push yourself beyond what is known and to  master the most important life and business survival skill: adaptation.

The key to using rejection as a tool for adaptation and success is changing your perception. Remember that every rejection and failure brings you closer to success. Experimentation is vital to successful innovation, and failure is a part of experimentation. Milton Hershey, remembered for the massively popular brand of sweets that bears his name, opened three different candy companies before he found the recipe for success with the Hershey Company.

People who aren’t willing to adapt will forever be stuck in one mode of thought. Instead of thinking of failures as just “bad,” focus on the lessons you can learn from each setback — lessons about your process, about what’s working and what isn’t, about thinking. With every rejection and failure, you will learn how to adapt and be successful on your next shot.

Benefit: You’ll become more resilient.

When I started my first business, my team spent more than a year trying to secure a large client that would change the game for us. As a client, that target company was way beyond our scope, but we wanted to sell media on its behalf. We spent that entire year making calls, scheduling meetings and flying to the company’s office, only to repeatedly hear the word “no.”

After being refused at least 25 times, my team and I went to meet the company’s executive team at a conference. Our goal was to secure a 50/50 split contract to share revenue evenly. We spent the entire presentation sweating as the potential client picked apart our entire business. But, guess what? We closed the deal.

If we hadn’t been persistent, despite our numerous failures, we never would have succeeded.

Rejection builds resilience and mental toughness. When you face rejection, push yourself through that place that makes you uncomfortable, and strive to be poised and confident through those stressful calls and pitch meetings. When you come out of a tough situation and realize you weren’t crushed by it, you’ll be stronger as you move toward the next one.

I’ve spent much of my career in digital marketing and technology — a sector where those who don’t push the boundaries or innovate won’t see success. Change moves fast in tech, so failure and rejection are abundant there. But if you seek to create a culture that understands and embraces that brisk forward pace, your failures will lead to adaptation, evolution and, ultimately, success.

 


WHAT MY 3 BIGGEST ENTREPRENEURIAL REGRETS TAUGHT ME ABOUT GROWING.

WHAT MY 3 BIGGEST ENTREPRENEURIAL REGRETS TAUGHT ME ABOUT GROWING.

By Kim Reed Perell, a widely recognized entrepreneur, angel investor and CEO of Amobee

At one point almost all of us have thought, “I wish I had known then what I know now.” Think about it: What do you know now that you wish you had known five, 10, or even 20 years ago?

Retrospective self-analysis is a helpful exercise that encourages you to focus on how you have changed and what those changes mean for your career. It’s easy to forget where you started, but examining your younger self can help identify which of your behaviors have outlived their usefulness.

What I Would Tell My Younger Self

When I look back at my younger self, I know exactly what I would tell her. I would say, “Think bigger.” Yes, I followed my vision and became an entrepreneur, but I had lots of doubts.

I was trying to be an expert in every aspect of business—but no one is an expert at everything. I now know to collaborate with people who are experts in areas I am not. No matter how talented you are, there are just some things you won’t be an expert in.

Aside from that, there are three major lessons I would share with my younger self if I could, and other entrepreneurs should take them to heart:

1. Feel your fear—and do it anyway.

As an entrepreneur, you are undoubtedly driven and passionate. But it’s not uncommon for business owners—especially inexperienced ones—to give in to fear. Don’t let fear push you to act more conservatively.

When I was building my first company, my belief in taking action helped me push forward, but I honestly never believed I would be able to grow my kitchen startup to a US$100-million company. Although I achieved success, my fear could have seriously cost me.

2. Stop searching for perfection.

Young entrepreneurs should stop being perfectionists. Doing so is time-consuming and wasteful.

For example, I used to have expectations that I would hire only the perfect candidate, which is an impossible way to scale a business. My highly selective process was slowing the pace of the company’s growth and limiting the scope of my team.

Don’t make that mistake. Focus on finding good people who will do their jobs well. Hiring employees with expertise in complementary areas instead of a handful of geniuses makes it easier to scale processes and leverage talent.

3. Dream bigger.

Thinking back to when I started my first company, I wish I could tell myself to dream bigger. While caution can be a good thing, don’t let it stop you from reaching your full potential. Allow yourself to dream bigger and reach for greater success.

Instead of thinking about writing a book, think about writing a bestseller. Turn your great idea into a business. Thinking about my formerly cautious nature has taught me to dream bigger in every aspect of my life.

So ask yourself: What do you know now that you didn’t know five, 10, or 20 years ago? What lessons would you teach your younger self? Are you dreaming big enough?

Kim Reed Perell has more than a decade of experience in the digital marketing and technology sector. She has overseen multiple high-profile acquisitions and received numerous awards, including AdAge’s 2017 Top 25 Marketing Tech Trailblazers and E&Y’s 2013 Entrepreneur of the Year. Kim currently oversees 800 employees across 21 offices worldwide as CEO of Amobee.

 


SO YOU’VE NAILED THE ELEVATOR PITCH – NOW MASTER THE REAL ONE

SO YOU’VE NAILED THE ELEVATOR PITCH – NOW MASTER THE REAL ONE

Startups led by women are more profitable than those run by men. Of 300 companies seeded between 2005 and 2015, those founded by a woman outperformed those with male founders by 63 percent. And the ROI of women-led tech companies averages 35 percent higher than men in their field.

But there is a discrepancy when it comes to funding. While companies with male leadership received 60 percent more likely to receive funding.

Developing Confidence in Your Ideas

In my experience, the problem stems from the number of women pitching to begin with. Out of 60 companies I have invested in, only a handful are led by women. I’m not the only angel investor who is disappointed by the lack of female entrepreneurs.

I want to tackle the issue at the source: the pitching process.

It makes no difference whether you are a man or a woman; if you have a good idea and know how to execute it, you can succeed. The key is to make sure your confidence is stronger than anyone’s doubt. I have never once thought of myself in terms of my gender. Even when others have doubted me, I’ve committed to doing whatever it took to reach my goals. You must be willing to put yourself out there and network with potential investors and business partners.

I was 23 years old when I started my first company — of course I had doubts! But I had confidence in my knowledge of internet marketing, and, despite the collapse of the dot-com bubble, I knew I could succeed. Everyone thought I was crazy. Starting a company in the worst time in the market at 23? As an entrepreneur, ultimately, your belief in yourself must be stronger than anyone’s doubt.

How to Pitch Successfully

The most important factor that inspires me to invest in someone is this: Can you convince me of your ability to execute? Do I believe you will take action, get results, and overcome obstacles? If I’m not certain you can pull it off, I won’t invest. Here are three tips for crafting a pitch no one will turn down:

1. Master your elevator speech.

Make sure you have perfected your “elevator pitch.” That means that you have a quick, easy-to-understand version of your pitch that you can deliver in less time than it takes to ride an elevator.

You should be able to explain your idea to anyone, any time. Staying concise matters during the real deal, too — your first meeting with investors will not be long. The extended version of your pitch should take no more than 20 minutes.

2. Account for every possible question.

Your pitch needs to address every question an investor could have. What is the market need, and who is demanding it? How does your idea solve that need? Use your elevator pitch. How will your idea make both revenue and profit?

You need to really sell your investors — what have other companies in the space sold for? How much capital will you need, and how will you use it? Investors want to know what they will get out of their contribution, so calculate your request by estimating double the time and cost you expect. Plan for the worst-case scenario.

3. Convince investors to believe in you.

Your biggest challenge is convincing investors to believe in your ability to execute, so tell them your story. What have you done that proves you can make this happen? Businesses may change and trends may pivot — investors need to be confident that you can pivot, too.

Surround yourself with a team that supplements any perceived weaknesses, and convey both realism and passion so potential investors can see that you will persevere, no matter what it takes.

Success doesn’t depend on your gender; it depends on your ability to work hard and make others believe in you, too. If you can pitch your idea so that investors are confident in you, success is just around the corner.

Kim Reed Perell, president of Amobee, is a widely recognized entrepreneur, executive, and angel investor.

 


6 PLATFORMS THAT MAKE ENTREPRENEURSHIP EASIER THAN EVER

6 PLATFORMS THAT MAKE ENTREPRENEURSHIP EASIER THAN EVER

Anyone can have an idea, but turning an idea into a functioning business? That’s the key to success.

If you’re launching a startup, you’ll face inevitable obstacles: time, money, and energy, to name three. However, as daunting as starting a business may be, we’ve come a long way in the past few years. Many tools are now available help move the needle without emptying our bank balances.

When I started my first business, there were no smartphones to facilitate working on the go — and there was an inevitable communication lag. There was no WordPress to ease the difficulty of starting a business.

But now, creating a website is easier than ever, and with tools like Venmo, so is managing payments. Plenty of ways exist to connect the idea in your head to the wealth of resources at your fingertips. Here are six platforms to help today’s entrepreneurs create startups that will flourish:

1. Find your audience with social media.

You know this by now: Snapchat can all help a business communicate and grow in seconds. Expensive marketing campaigns may soon become a memory as social influencers continue to gain traction.

Nearly 40 percent of people would purchase on the basis of something they saw on social. Big-name brands like Urban Decay found success by harnessing the power of the internet. Make accounts for your brand on all the major channels and start finding your audience.

2. Develop a unique brand image with 99designs.

Design is beyond important as you start finding your audience. You need a set of aesthetic elements that tell your unique story. And because it takes a person just 2.6 seconds to register a website once it’s loaded, first impressions may be everything.

99designs can help you source designers to come up with the visual basics for your brand, including your logo. This is especially helpful for startups because it allows multiple designers to send you ideas before making a bid on your designer of choice.

3. Jump-start your sales on Etsy.

You won’t know what your product is worth until you start selling it, so try a risk-free launch on Etsy. It’s not only easy, but also financially possible early in your business’s history. Not quite one percent of Etsy sellers needed a loan to launch their online stores.

Designer LeiLei Secor, for example, used Etsy to kick-start her career while paying her way through college so she could get a business degree. Her entrepreneurship earned her a National Federation of Independent Business’ Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

4. Keep everything aboveboard with LegalZoom.

The legal side of starting a business often stops entrepreneurs in their tracks. Make it easy by using a tool like LegalZoom. If you’ve just started, chances are you don’t have the funds to hire a lawyer. LegalZoom helps you draft contracts, register your business, and file for trademark, copyright, and patent protection for a flat annual fee of $300.

5. Create Content with Upwork.

Build up your business’s reputation by creating content with a tool like Upwork. High-quality content attracts seven times the site traffic of sites without it, and businesses with active blogs saw 67 percent of the year’s sales leads.

You can pick from thousands of writers and developers with a wide range of knowledge to help with any content you need, providing you with expert SEO and lead generation tips in the bargain.

6. Use platforms like Fiverr to get things done.

Fiverr offers you the unbeatable ability to “get things done” for your startup beginning at just $5, from business card printing to voiceover recording, without the pain and cost of hiring and systemizing those processes.

There’s never been a better time to be an entrepreneur. You have all the tools you need to beat the odds and turn your idea into the next big thing.

Amobee, which provides marketing technology solutions for leading brands. In 2016, Amobee was named one of Fortune’s Top 10 Workplaces in Advertising & Marketing and listed as one of Fortune’s 100 Best Medium-Sized Workplaces.

 


3 WAYS THE DARK SIDE OF PASSION CAN HELP YOU GROW YOUR BUSINESS

3 WAYS THE DARK SIDE OF PASSION CAN HELP YOU GROW YOUR BUSINESS

I sold my company while sailing in the British Virgin Islands, negotiating the terms via satellite phone while my husband caught that evening’s lobster with his bare hands. It sounds like the start of a great business story: “Executive Sells $235 Million Company From the Middle of the Ocean, Driven By Passion.” But executives of all stripes, including me, use passion to justify extreme work ethics that prioritize business over all other aspects of our lives.

While it’s not always easy, there are benefits to being obsessively passionate about your business. I’ve learned that when leveraged correctly, the dark side of passion can help you be a better leader and grow your business. Here are three ways to use your all-consuming passion to grow your company:

1. Stick to Your Goals

Loving what you do is one thing, but making a profit from it is another. Just because you can paint doesn’t mean you’ll succeed as an artist. Learn from each rejection. Refine your strategies until you generate demand for your product or service. Identify opportunities to marry your passion with market needs, and then set your goal as your guiding light. Before you settle on an idea, however, ask yourself this: Am I willing to suffer for this company? Figuring out what you love is easy. What you’re willing to suffer for? That’s much harder.

When I moved to Hawaii to build my business, people told me I was crazy. They warned me that there were no jobs, that the digital market was weak, and that I should stay where I had more opportunities. I went anyway. Yes, I worked extreme hours, but I built a $100 million company and loved every minute of it. While other people are going to parties or jetting off on vacation, you’ll be in the office, making one more product adjustment or perfecting the hundredth version of your pitch. When your peers head to happy hour, you’ll be prepping for international calls you have to take well into the night.

2. Say No

Prepare yourself to disappoint people as you decline invitations to attend birthday brunches or join in on weekend getaways to work more. Fortunately, saying “no” becomes easy when you’ve tapped into your truest passion. Connecting to your vision will help you overcome feelings of guilt and doubt when you’ve missed the third New Year’s Eve party in a row. I physically write out my top priorities each week to keep them fresh in my mind. When I’m working toward major goals, I write those down, too, and post them where I can see them each day.

In the months leading up to the sale of my company, I taped that goal to my bathroom mirror so it would be in my face every day and night. I didn’t let myself forget it for a minute, which is why I was able to lovingly ignore my husband’s grumbling and take those calls from our boat.

3. Optimize Your Time

There are only 24 hours in a day. Before diving into the startup process, you need to decide who and what is going to take up those hours. I reserve days off for my close friends and family. I’ll get up early or work late so I can be fully present when I’m home.

Maintaining a million friendships, a family, and a business is impossible. Decide which aspects of your life are priorities, and scale back on the rest. Hand off tasks that drain your energy, and be sure to leave time for essentials like sleep. I advocate for work-life integration instead of work-life separation. If you truly love what you do, it’s not a chore to take a 7 a.m. call on the weekend or devote some of your vacation time to business. The key is to prioritize correctly so that your energy always goes toward people and projects you love.

Finding your passion empowers you to stretch yourself as an entrepreneur and ensure your business’ growth. Passion is a force of nature that can be harnessed for incredible success, as long as you don’t venture too far into the dark side.

 


HOW TO BE RESILIENT AFTER FAILING

HOW TO BE RESILIENT AFTER FAILING

Entrepreneurs know that developing a successful business is an exercise in flexibility — and failure. Entrepreneurship isn’t about being brilliant; it’s about being adaptive and resilient. And the combination of the right emotions and the right mindset is the key to being resilient. There are three strategies to help entrepreneurs develop this prime combination.

When I started my first company, we were operating on a bare-bones budget and hadn’t purchased a backup server. It was too expensive, and there was no such thing as the cloud at this point. I’ll never forget walking through IKEA one weekend when my tech guy called me. He told me that our server had failed and couldn’t be fixed. My heart dropped; I thought it was the end of my company. That one server represented the entirety of the business — the very real possibility of losing the business, too, was terrifying.

Entrepreneurs know about obstacles. Startups fail 90 percent of the time, so determined entrepreneurs know that failure is something they’ll have to confront regularly. Turning a concept into a reality isn’t easy, but true entrepreneurs don’t expect it to be. They know that developing a successful business is an exercise in flexibility — and failure. I know from experience that entrepreneurship isn’t about being brilliant; it’s about being adaptive and resilient.

THE RIGHT MINDSET

Being able to adapt is critical for success. Studies show that learning is most effective when it’s challenging. Your brain literally grows in response to difficulty. From learning as a young child to protecting your brain against aging, challenging yourself is key.

Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck popularized this concept in her 2009 book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.” She states that a successful and fulfilling life comes from a growth mindset, one that constantly seeks a challenge. With a fixed mindset, where everything has to work a certain way (i.e., be perfect), the inevitable setbacks can seem traumatic. With a growth mindset, however, you are prepared to overcome challenges.

We should look at challenges and obstacles, therefore, as opportunities to grow and learn. The loss of our single server was awful, yes, but it also built up my resilience (and taught me to invest in an automated backup). But resilience isn’t simply learning from failure; there’s an emotional component to it. In her book “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance,” Angela Duckworth describes “grit” as the ability to keep going when it would be easier to give in to fear, doubt, and disappointment.

DEVELOPING RESILIENCE

I think of the emotional component of resilience as a person’s “heartset.” It’s the combination of putting the right emotions — the right heartset — with the right mindset that is the key to being resilient. Here are three strategies to help you develop this prime combination:

1. Challenge Yourself

Develop the right mindset to achieve growth and resilience by challenging yourself. In every situation, personal and professional, ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?” How do your experiences and those of your team inform your thinking? In a rapidly changing world, a mindset that encourages growth, no matter the situation, is essential.

2. Develop Strategies Ahead of Time

Improve your heartset by developing strategies to deal with the tough emotions that come along with challenges. We’re not always our best selves in high-stress situations. Emotional control is the key to success; make sure you have the tools in place to help manage your emotions. This can be specific activities like meditation and relaxation or practices such as coaching or mentoring. Having the right person available to you in a crisis can provide helpful perspective and support when you feel on the verge of a meltdown. Ensure you have access to someone (or several people) who can be there for you.

3. Don’t Wait for Obstacles

Develop resilience before obstacles occur. Create challenging scenarios for yourself and your team so the entire organization is constantly practicing and improving its adaptability. If you wait until a crisis arises to practice your collective resilience, you might not fare as well as if you were well-versed in it. There’s a reason fire drills exist. Help your team be prepared to stare down obstacles and emerge unscathed.

The weekend my company lost all of its data was one of the longest weekends of my life — I knew that without that database, the business didn’t exist. We could have folded right there, made an excuse, and run from disaster. But we didn’t.

On Monday, we risked embarrassment and reached out to our clients, telling them what had happened and asking for their support while we rebuilt. We were back up and running in a matter of weeks. It was a tough experience, but it built up my resilience and that of my team. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

What experiences have allowed you and your team to grow more resilient?

 


SNOWSTORMS AND GRIT

SNOWSTORMS AND GRIT

I remember one winter as a young girl in Portland, Oregon; our house was so cold that we layered up until our arms stuck out like ginger-bread men. The old wood fireplace was no match for the storm outside.

Anyway, I remember one night – especially cold – being upset. The cold was getting to me.

It wasn’t fun and it wasn’t fair.

I looked up at my dad, buried in that massive old coat of his. To my dad, an 8-hour day was just half a day at work and he was always working something. Most people probably would have quit if they had faced bankruptcy as many times as he had. They would have given up. But not my dad. He never gave up. He never stopped believing that success was waiting for him, just around the corner.

He looked up from his work and gave me a kind smile. “We’re ok,” he said. “We’re tougher than this.”

I went back to sulking. None of this sounds idyllic, but it’s only really now that I look back that I can see the real value in the upbringing I had.

My parents were both entrepreneurs. They believed in themselves and gave themselves fully to the futures they dreamed of. And they were as hard as nails. If going a winter without heating was the price of success, then they were willing to pay it.

I think this is a potent combo – the ability to dream abundant dreams, and a willingness to put in the hard yards.

I’ve had more than my fair share of set-backs. Ten years ago my company went bankrupt and I was out of a job. Those were hard times. But ask any successful person and they’ll list of a dozen times things just didn’t go their way.

What defines us is our ability to dust ourselves off and keep going. It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up. We’ve got to be tough. We’ve got to be bigger than the challenges that meet us, because there will be challenges. And more than talent, skills, education, connections or inheritance, I believe the key to success is this:

Grit.

Grit is a mindset. It is the passion, perseverance and unwavering determination to pursue your dreams. For me it came through going to work with my dad and spending my weekends on construction sites. It was the typical family dinner conversations not centered around sports or school but on discussing solutions to the everyday business challenges my parents were facing. For me, I never had a choice.

And now that I look back on it, I know that makes me one of the lucky ones.