Category: Business and Finance (Page 1 of 2)

3 Ways to Make Peace with Making Mistakes

Mikus Kins

As Albert Einstein once said, “a person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” This adage is certainly true, especially in business, but taking it to heart can be far easier said than done, especially in a society where we are taught from childhood that failure and shame are deeply and inextricably intertwined.

The fact of the matter is, if you really want to achieve entrepreneurial success, you absolutely must teach yourself to view your mistakes as opportunities for growth, and nothing more. Here are 3 meaningful steps you can take to reframe the way you think about failure so that you can achieve greater success throughout your career.

  1. Realize that every mistake is a lesson in disguise. Instead of viewing the errors you make as being indicative of ineptitude, weakness, or a character flaw, take the time to remind yourself that there is intrinsic educational value to each and every mistake you make. Simply put, you must make mistakes if you truly want to learn what works and what doesn’t, both in business and in life. Long-term success requires you to take risks; even if a risk does not pay off, you’ll still end up learning from the experience.
  2. Start taking ownership of your mistakes. While your instinctive response to making a mistake may be to distance yourself from it or explain it away, this behavior is extremely counterproductive when it comes to professional growth. Instead, make a point of owning your mistakes by taking accountability and responsibility for the decisions you make and the actions you take. By admitting your errors in a frank and pragmatic way to yourself and to your colleagues, you will learn how to view your own behavior through an analytical lens, instead of an emotional one, and this will be tremendous boon to your entrepreneurial success in the long run.
  3. Don’t let your pride get in the way. It’s important to have a healthy sense of pride, but be careful not to let your pride prevent you from asking for assistance or advice when you need it. Being able to admit when you need help correcting a mistake you’ve made is a skill that will serve you well in all your interpersonal relationships, and as the saying goes, two heads are always better than one.

If you are hoping to learn how to make peace with making mistakes, I suggest using these 3 pieces of advice as your professional mantras for the next week – and if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.

The Importance of Leadership and Communication at the Workplace

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Leadership is a compelling intellectual trade that moves people to action. It requires an individual to go beyond the standards of their day-to-day and seek various opportunities that challenges the overall status quo for the betterment of their company. But in order to inspire, in order to motivate, you as a business leader need to establish and foster a strong line of communication. That foundation will set an overall precedence for the goals you are looking to achieve each and everyday.

Now to further understand this trade in the most efficient and effective manner, you need to define your own personal and professional leadership by understanding yourself. By having a deeper internalization of your vision, goals, beliefs, and strengths, you will be able to communicate every task on a stronger and deeper level. For all business leaders, this type of skill is transferable. The real challenge is what you can do with it to help further accomplish your objective on a consistent basis. To accomplish this, you need to, of course, take responsibility for the process. Make sure you understand the ins-and-outs of your business and the variety of different departments and people you will be interacting with throughout the course of a week. In addition, be sure to ask probing questions to your group and listen to their answers. This will allow you to take action and spark progress either individually or within a framework of a team. But to take this on the next level, it is important that you demonstrate a strong level of consistency to your commitment. Small talk and networking is a fine practice, but communicating in a way that meets the wants and needs of an individual will push you to the path of success.

Once you have developed that keen external awareness for those people around you, you as a business leader will have to build a sense cohesive thinking in order to execute at the highest level. Just take a look at some of the world’s greatest leaders. They are not just exceptional communicators by trade. Instead, they are also leaders that can sympathize their vision and goals in a more open forum. If your message is unclear in any manner, you will be unable to deep root your message with your audience. Remember, the objective of communicating at the highest level is for your audience to internalize and understand your goals and aspirations. Any type of derivation or misunderstanding can lead to extreme unfavorable results.

To help prevent any type of miscommunication, I have highlighted several types of interactions you should practice consistently throughout the office. These principles are meant to aid you so that you can educate, inform, and inspire your employees on a daily basis. Keep in mind that everyone perceived the world differently. Your job is to bridge that gap.  

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Know what you are Talking about

We have all heard that infamous saying that, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it.” While there is some truth to that, I am telling you that what you say does matter to your audience. Yes, you may be in a position of power, but that does not mean you have all of the answer. Some successful people have little interest in specific topics, but try to force their two-cents into the conversation just to hear themselves speak. While it is great to get involved, not adding anything of value does not put you in a better position. Instead, for situations like this, make sure you know what you are talking about. The more value you can add, the better. Remember, the underlying goal of a strong and effective line of communication is to educate and inform. Do not allow your ego to jump ahead. This can only lead to a negative attachment to your overall image.

Be Personal

Some of the most passionate conversations and speeches are those that connect with their audience, and rightfully so. The more personal and engaging your conversations can be, the better. Many business leaders are able to leverage this style of empathetic communication. Communicating on that deeper level will help display a strong level of authenticity and transparency that can help establish a sense of trust between you and the prospective party.

Be Specific

Some of the biggest flaws for many managers and business leaders within the office are that they are a bit too ambiguous with what they are saying. Make sure you are as specific as possible. Learning to communicate with that type of clarity and conciseness will help nullify any type of confusions or misunderstandings in the future. On a side note, try to keep things as short as possible. As much as you want to be specific, you also want to avoid the opportunity of overstating things on a granular level.  

Listen and Stay Open-minded

To be a strong and effective communicator, it is imperative that you create a safe and secure space for open dialog. When another person is talking to you, make sure you are listening. This type of engagement between parties is something that can help challenge and develop new ideas for the betterment of your company. In addition, this type of open forum communication can establish a meaningful trust and respect between you and your workers, which can inevitably benefit you later on in the future.

Why Branding is Important for your Company

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Regardless of what field you are in, branding will always be the theme and essence of your company. While the rest of the world may adhere the term to marketing, branding, in itself is its own entity. In fact, the overall concept and field will always play an integral role within the overall success of your business. But before I go further of how to best brand your business and organization, I have to address the million-dollar question: What is branding?

When we think about branding, many businesses and organizations usually associate it within the realms of marketing. While they are not inherently wrong for thinking that, the general public needs to understand the vision and goals between the two completely different sectors. When we are talking about marketing, we are ultimately talking about the strategy and promotion of a company’s products and services with the goal to grab the attention of the general public and sell them on said-product and/or services. This intent to sell is, at the end of the day, what makes marketing a necessary need in the financial aspect of your business. It also represents the single defining difference from its counterpart, branding. For branding, the overall concept revolved around the identity of your company. It is that identity that represents the vision, goals, beliefs, and future growth that your business looks to accomplish each and everyday.

Now, while branding may utilize similar business tactics that are often found in marketing, the overall story and end goal is to highlight the essence of the company. It tells the intended market what your beliefs are, what your plans are for the future, how you differentiate from your competitors, and most importantly what your customers can expect from your products and services. These logos and phrases are, in themselves, the name and face of your business. That type of representation is something that is everlasting with your business. Just think about the great logos and phrases that are out there and how we automatically think of various themes and niches that fit their profile. For example, when we think of Under Armour, we think of the performance, athletics, action, and sports. In comparison, when we think of Apple, we think of creativity, technology, music, computers, and entertainment. With just that simple brand, you are able to capture the principle that represents what you and your company stand for.

So how do you create a brand that is representative of your company and their ideals? What logos and phrase can be associated with your brand to show the growth, development, and overall vision of your company?

To create a brand, you have to first and foremost understand that this process does take time. Apple’s “Think Differently” and Nike’s “Just Do It” slogans did not automatically attach themselves with the general public. Instead, both companies had to foster their mentality and products to associate themselves with bigger concepts that are now known today. But, during their creative process, they did have an underlying idea of what they wanted. When creating a brand for your company, you want to make sure you are aligning all of the ideas under one theme. It is that theme that will represent those overarching questions of what your business stands for and what you are looking to accomplish. To do this effectively, make sure you come up with a list of characteristics and adjectives that represent your company. These concepts will help identify the right message and image you will want to associate with your brand.

To help with this process, try setting up various controlled studies. Go even as far as to seek specific feedback in whether or not your brand is representative of the ideas and concepts it is trying to achieve and sell. Remember, at the end of the day, your brand wants to highlight a particular message. If you are finding that the response is not hitting what you are looking for, regroup, strategize, and redesign.

Now before you publish your prototype, try comparing your logo against your competitors within your field. For many of these companies, they have already perfected a specific idea and message that has reached the general public in the best possible way. Now I am not saying to replicate or refurbish their logo. Instead, analyze and understand how their logos and phrases were able to capture their market and how representative it is to their company values. This may give you some insight on how to better improve your logo in the most marketable way possible.

Once you have done your research and created your first prototype, continue to test your brand with another controlled group. Remember, the more feedback you have, the better information you can utilize in created the most representative trademark, symbol and phrase for your company.

The Importance of Business Ethics

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Several factors play a role in the overall success of a company. As much as we can look directly at the finances, financial statements alone are not enough to represent the overall health of a business. Instead, we have to look at a variety of different factors such as organizational culture, company goals, company philosophy, work culture, and most importantly the organization’s business ethics. In the grand scheme of things, business ethics is the pinnacle point in developing the vision, beliefs, and goals of a company. Without it, the purpose for success is no more than just making a quick buck.

For entrepreneurs, they are incredibly unique in the business world because, more often than not, they put a stronger investment in the values and beliefs of their company ahead of their monetary gain. While financial gain is always a great evaluator, many businesses, especially the titans we see today like Google or Apple, are built with a philosophy in creating products and services that can benefit the everyday person. In fact, this type of ethical mentality shapes not just how customers and users view businesses, but how businesses view themselves.

Because of this, it is imperative that you as a business leader are able to foster and establish a strong sense of morals within your company. Before we continue, let’s understand what business ethics really means. By definition, business ethics are the moral principles that guide the way a business behaves. In fact, this type of mentality and approach helps cultivates the personality, culture, and work ethic passion that drives your employees each and every day. In addition, business ethics also dictates those overarching decisions by dichotomizing various actions as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ for the customer. Having this type of clear and precise mindset not only improves work culture productivity, but also customer client satisfaction.

To explore this further, let’s look at how business ethics impacts a company in three different stages:

  • Ethics in the Product and Service
  • Ethics with Leadership and Management
  • Ethics with Employee Work Culture

By exploring these three avenues, you will be able to internalize and comprehend the importance of having a strong sense of business ethics within your company.

Ethics in the Product and Service

In any successful business, the product and service of a company is not just simply to sell. Instead, the overall mantra is to create a transitive change in how we see world. As an entrepreneur, you want to make sure that your product and services represent the wants and needs of their customers. Just take a look at Apple. Under Steve Jobs leadership, he felt that no matter what product they made, they can always and forever make it better. That business ethics of ‘for the customer’ than  ‘for the customer’s money’ is what helped set them apart from the rest of the herd. To help aid with your endeavors, go back to your vision and goals. Ask yourself those ‘why’ questions and internalize them. Once you are able to answer them, begin shaping that mentality for what it can do for the rest of the public.

Ethics with Leadership and Management

Management is not just the act of micromanaging a group of people. Instead, management helps to set the tone for an entire company’s day-to-day. To help enhance and perfect the logistics within your company, it is absolutely vital that you establish a strong and prevailing management philosophy for your team. This ethical practice and behavior will help shape those individuals of your organization as direct leaders and examples within the workplace. In addition, your business philosophy will be able to help attract and retain highly talented individuals to build and maintain your positive reputation so that you can reach your future endeavors.

Ethics with Employees

In most cases, your employees are usually at the front of the lines engaging and interacting with your customers. Because of this, it is absolutely important that you are able to instill the vision, goals, and ethical belief that your company has in each and every one of your workers. In many studies, employees who work for a company that demands a high standard of business ethics in all facets are more than likely to both perform their job duties and stay at a particular company. The reason why is simple. Many people want to know they are making a difference. By establishing that sense of value, your employees will be able to see the higher purpose of their work each and every day.

TedTalk: Alexa von Tobel and the Five Money Principles

Alexa von Tobel is the founder and CEO of LearnVest.com which she has been developing and growing since 2006. LearnVest is the leading personal finance and lifestyle website that brings financial literacy to women. Since launching LearnVest, Alexa has been widely quoted as a personal finance expert and entrepreneur in top tier business and consumer publications including: New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, New York Post, BusinessWeek, and Forbes Woman.

In this particular TedTalk, Alexa discusses her five money principles:

  1. Follow a budget and live beneath your means
  2. Be debt free and pay your cards in full
  3. Have an emergency savings account
  4. Negotiate for a higher salary
  5. Save for your future retirement

She does so by providing her audience with a specific yet relatable story that hinges on the idea of smart and strategic saving. Alexa believes that if we utilize her tips, we will be able to prepare ourselves for a long, fruitful, and secure future.

How to Optimize your Professional Network

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Whether you are trying to enhance your business or bolster your professional status, optimizing your network will always be a vital role for your professional success. To do this, you have to understand that networking is very much a behind the scenes type of task. While you of course want to produce quality work at your office, connecting with people throughout a variety of businesses and departments will help establish the resources you need to thrive in the future.

Let’s begin by understand the concept of networking and what it can do for you professionally. When we talk about networking, especially within the workplace, we are talking about building relationships, sharing information, and leveraging sources of support. Oftentimes, people make the mistake of playing it safe and staying within their comfort zone bubble. While it can be intimidating to go beyond your comfort zone, you have to comprehending the importance of building your contacts. It is these individuals who can make the difference in getting you that much closer to your personal and professional goals.

So how do you do this?

There are a variety of ways to go about expanding your network. The most important thing you need to know is that you have to go into each meeting with the mentality of building and fostering a strong and viable relationship, regardless of their title. This type of outlook and mindset will help calm those jitters so that you can establish a rich and organic conversation. Below, I have provided some tips that highlight the best way to network yourself or your business in the most optimal manner.

Utilize your Immediate Resources

Start off by connecting within your company and organizations. This is what we call easy wins. Having these automatic channels will make those first few interactions smooth and seamless. As much as you can talk about the day-to-day operations of your workplace, you also want to go into that conversation with a goal in mind, especially if you are talking to an administrator or a partner. As you talk to them, make sure they have a deeper understanding of your objectives and goals for the company and for the future. In addition, discuss how you can aid and support them for future projects so that you can stay on their radar.

Connect with a Leader or Mentor who Shares your Goals

For many people, building a network starts with an overall end-goal. Some people do this to push their careers in a specific direction. Others do it for graduate school goals. Whatever is the case, try and utilize your own goals and ideas by connect with coworkers who share the same interest. Better yet, try and connect with those who have already succeeded with your career path. Their advice and insight of how to achieve your goal can help you alter or optimize your plans for the future. To do this effectively, start by simply listening. Pick their brains about how they got there and what they had to do to get to that particular position. Then try and internalize what steps you have made and what you can change to learn from their experience. If you can, try and utilize this person as a long-term resource. Many people in the professional field call them mentors. See if they have the time to help shape you in reaching your personal and professional goals.

Utilize your Alumni Network

Alumni chapters are a great platform in expanding your network outside of your own company. While some members may come from different fields and majors, try and utilize that group to its fullest. Engage with people you do not normally interact with. Share your interest, work profession, and goals. Who knows, they may have a friend or a coworker that can help you get to that next level.

Attend Professional Events

Because of how vital networking is to everyone’s career, you can oftentimes find various professional hosting events or happy hour sessions close to your location. To find them, start by searching online either through Google’s search results or through the professional networking site, LinkedIn. Similar to the information mentioned above, go into each even with your professional goals in mind. At the same time, do not be too serious. These events are more for you to mingle and converse. If you happen to find the right connection, be sure to provide them with a business card or your personal information.

 

Business 101: Corporate Company Culture

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Corporate company culture encompasses quite a few variables ranging from the physical office environment to the fun perks communicated through your colleagues and managers. With the world at a constant state of change and fluctuation, many companies and firms today are beginning to find that success is not simply dictated or based on the overall talent, but keeping the talent at the work place. Because of this, company culture or work culture has become a prevalent theme in many businesses. The antiquated sense of cutthroat business is no longer looked as the incentive of growing and developing individuals. Instead, young professionals, especially millennials, are looking for businesses and firms that value them as professionals and people.

For company culture, the most basic way to describe and define this concept is that it is the personality and character of an overall organization. In simpler terms, it is how the office operates internally and externally for all of their employees. We have all heard the horror stories of working at the big banking firms with the 80+ hour workweeks or the classic ‘three meals at your desk.’ While this may have been seen as a red badge of courage into the business work, this systemic approach has become more problematic, especially how the world works today.

Today, one of the biggest problems many companies are facing is the grand fluctuation of turnover at every level of the business. Current consultants are fed up with living their lives at an airport terminal. Bankers are sick of pulling the long hours for a fraction of the pay that their superiors are making. And entry level positions are seen as just a six-month ‘landing pit’ until something new or better comes along. While businesses can handle the change, they have to understand that the success and health of a company comes down to its workers. Financially, hiring a new individual has been stated to be more costly than firing or releasing a current employee due to time, money, and resources needed to train and develop the new individual into that position. To go further into that, more companies are seeing the black hole of negative company culture where businesses enter the vicious cycle of hiring, training, and losing their best talent.

So how do we improve this? What can be done to keep those number one seed picks at the frontline of your business?

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First, start of by being transparent with your employees. Allow them to understand your vision and goals for the business and why you need them to do each individual task. This type of honesty can set various goals for your employees and allow them to assume responsibility of their work. In addition, keeping your employees in the loop gives them a chance to see the business grow and thrive as a whole. Usually, many dissatisfied employees are uncomfortable voicing their opinions about the company and other unwelcoming situations. This honesty talk can allow those employees to open up and set a tone for the better.

Second thing you should do is to provide a sense of autonomy and freedom for your workers at the office. As much as you want to micromanage them when performing a task, you need to be the leader and empower them to take ownership of their work. Instead of providing explicit and detailed directions, provide them with general guidelines. You will see quickly how individuals will assume that leadership role for the better.

Thirdly, make sure there is a strong sense of communication throughout the office. Many people get frustrated at their company because of the lack of communication that is coming from one end of the company to the other. Establish the operational logistics at your work place and improve on what needs to be done. Remember, there is always room for improvement. The only way to do it is by testing things out.

Last but not least, provide company perks. Many of the modern day tech-titans have provided benefits other than financial options to keep their employees happy. Whether it is a trip to a basketball game or a company paid happy hour, try and bring happiness to your employees.

Millennials and their Impact on Company Culture

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“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” In today’s world, the business and corporate sector are in a constant state of change and fluctuation where companies and firms are now beginning to find that success is not simply based on finding the most qualified talent, but keeping the talent in the work place. With that being said, company culture is more important than ever. For the first time in history, millennial have become the largest generational cohort in the United States workforce, with almost 54 million making up the labor force. With those staggering numbers, it is absolutely vital to take into consideration the mentality and mindset of these individuals.

To put it simply, company culture, often referred to ask work culture, is now the highest priority for both businesses and job seekers. Unlike the 80s boomers and notorious Wall Street warriors, the millennial generation does not look at 80+ hour workweeks as a red badge of courage. Instead they see it as a toxic environment only meant as a pit stop for something greater. When it comes down to the numbers, everyone knows that it is more expensive to hire a new employee than keeping and retraining an older one. That type of fact takes into consideration the time, money, and effort it takes to establish a strong and effective employee. But even with that fact, employers and businesses are struggling to keep their talent happy and in-house. But why is this? What is making these millennial constantly change jobs every two to three years?

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One of the biggest reasons is the lack of company culture. Company culture is often defined as the behavior of humans that encompasses the values, actions, and social norms that physically and psychologically represent the environment of an organization. To put it simply, a business’s culture attributes to its holistic and wholesome view where every employee and individual values, believes, and represents the vision and goals of its company. While some businesses still thrive on the negative and competitive antiquated style of a standard office, many however have changed their models and replicated a setting that inspires and stimulates their employees. Take for example Google and Apple. Their non-traditional approach to their employees and work setting in the early 90s has now taken a strong grasp of the ideal work place for 2016. This has even gone as far where recent college graduates are deferring offers from big banking and consulting firms and their financial packages to work for companies that give them that liberated freedom.

As much as people can criticize this somewhat work-movement, the world needs to understand that the change is meant for a reason. At the end of the day, company culture is the business’s personality. It is not something that forces people to work, but rather inspires them to reach their goals. Regardless of how the old ways use to do it, this give-and-take relationship asks businesses to recognize the value of their employees and acknowledge them for their hard work. In doing so, businesses have thrive at their financial goals and product expectations for the future. Remember, a company’s culture is the foundation for future innovation. As a business leader, it is your job to build that foundation and set a sustainable, competitive, and controlled environment for your company to grow and develop each and every day.

Mikus Kins

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