legendary entrepreneur quotes

15 legendary entrepreneur quotes that will inspire any business pro

Featuring Emily Clark, Guest Contributor

Every entrepreneur’s success, big or small, begins with a brilliant idea. If worries or anxieties held back the world’s top business people, we would have missed out on incredible things like the personal computer, Facebook, the iPhone and even Harry Potter.

If fear of failure has ever held you back from running your own small business, don’t worry – you’re not alone. 40% of entrepreneurs share that sentiment, and it can roadblock from taking on new challenges in their professional lives.

We hear time and again how many top entrepreneurs succeeded only after failing – often over and over on multiple projects. Remember that failure is the first step towards success. Instead of being intimidated, you can use that feeling as personal motivation. The key for these top entrepreneurs was to keep their nerves strong throughout the hard times, be calm and battle through.

When you’re in a tense situation and fear is staring you down, it’s worth imitating the pros who have walked a mile before you. Take the famous example of Steve Jobs, who converted his failures into a rebirth of Apple, launching the iPod to become the most successful and arguably adored person in the tech world.

In the following infographic, “45 Legendary quotes from successful entrepreneurs” brought to you by Total Processing, see how notable entrepreneurs like Jobs, Bezos, Huffington and Beyoncé have viewed their golden journeys and stared down this fear of failure. These legends are experts in their fields, and their inspirational quotes will surely provide motivation to take on any fear and define your own legacy.

Legendary entrepreneur quotes

 

Up Next: Get the “Podcast Hit List” for successful business owners and entrepreneurs.

crowdfunding advantages

Is crowdfunding the best option for raising capital?

crowdfunding advantages

If you’re considering launching a new product, solution or next-gen business idea, you might have heard that crowdfunding could be a unique way to garner attention and raise capital. But is crowdfunding the most effective way to get you the necessary funds, and are there potential shortcomings that you should know about in advance?

How crowdfunding works

 

Put plainly, crowdfunding is a way to collect a bunch of financial contributions instead of looking for just one large investment — commonly achieved via websites such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo. These sites often highlight innovative ideas that are brand new to the market — launching to a wider audience and getting exposure that would have been time-consuming and much more costly through traditional methods.

Most crowdfunding platforms use a rewards model, allowing would-be entrepreneurs to provide incentives in order to get the crowd to fund their concept.

The most common incentive is providing the product or service when it’s ready, without additional charge. Some entrepreneurs utilize a tiered structure, where a small contribution preorders the product while a larger one garners additional perks, such as a special edition item or even a chance to collaborate with the developers on its final design. For early adopter consumers, getting in on the ground floor for a new product would have a great appeal.

Once the incentive structure is in place, most sites set a time limit on the idea’s profile. Nobody wants to look through abandoned ideas, so the time limit ensures that investors are only seeing active projects whenever they look for something to back.

That said, not all crowdfunding sites require a rewards model be in place.

GoFundMe is one example of a popular crowdfunding platform with no incentive structure. Instead, backers pledge their support for causes that they believe in. Patreon is another platform that allows artists, musicians and other content creators to solicit monthly contributions to support their work, rather than a specific project. There are also a few sites that allow investors to purchase a tiny equity stake in the idea they are backing, turning the process into a more traditional investment.

Advantages of crowdfunding over other financing

crowdfunding

The biggest advantage of crowdfunding is that entrepreneurs are generally allowed to hold on to their equity. Backers get a product in exchange for their contribution, leaving full control of the idea to the original developer. If the idea ends up being worth millions, this can prove to be very significant. It also allows entrepreneurs to maintain unquestioned control over their company’s day-to-day operations.

Crowdfunding also creates an instant customer base with a vested interest in a given concept. Backers pick projects to support because they think they’re cool — meaning that they want to have it first. They’ll often go to great lengths to help promote the idea to their friends, family and anyone else who might listen on social media. After all, if an idea fails to resonate with the masses the way backers expected, they lose this cool factor.

Consumers are increasingly looking for products online, so an active digital presence can really help grow your brand, build awareness, positive sentiment and make consumers more likely to choose you in the future. And since crowdfunding is generally conducted entirely online, entrepreneurs can foster a meaningful relationship with their audience via multiple channels in creative ways that don’t have to cost an arm and a leg.

Disadvantages of crowdfunding over other financing

The time limit is essential for crowdfunding platforms to maintain a fresh inventory of ideas, but many of the downsides are tied to this restriction. Most platforms utilize an ‘all or nothing’ model that prevents entrepreneurs from keeping any of the money they collect if they fail to reach their stated goal. Failing to meet your goals can turn the entire endeavor into a costly waste of time.

Underestimating the capital needed can prove even more disastrous. Once an entrepreneur keeps a backer’s money, they are legally and ethically obligated to provide whatever incentive was promised in exchange. If they’re unable to deliver, the resulting litigation is likely to prevent the company from ever getting off the ground.

Some entrepreneurs see crowdfunding as a shortcut, but be warned it will take just as much (or more) preparation, business planning and effort to convince your backers. The digital-savvy and hyper-selective audiences demand a complete business plan detailing what their money will be used for regardless of how much they invest.

The online component of crowdfunding also requires business owners to live online and build support for the duration of the campaign, leaving little time for other duties. There are professional agencies that help manage crowdfunding campaigns, but using them adds to the costs that crowdfunding platforms already deduct from the money raised.

Not for everyone

Crowdfunding is a relatively new and potentially thrilling way for would-be entrepreneurs to raise money, but it’s not right for everybody.

Before you get started, look at all your funding options to determine if you have the right resources in place (time, money, expertise) to venture into a crowdfunding model. Talk to other business owners who have had successful (or unsuccessful) online campaigns and ask them for tips on getting started. Investigate the various crowdfunding sites and learn which ones will give you the appropriate platform to connect with your audience.

This process is just a starting point, and it can get a lot more complicated — so it pays to do your homework before jumping in headfirst. Once you’ve made an initial assessment, it’s time to get deeper into your analysis to choose a platform, crunch numbers and treat the crowdfunding just as seriously as you would any other business lending opportunity.

startup mistakes

10 Avoidable Mistakes That Could Doom Your Startup

startup mistakes

90% of startups fail. It’s a new world of business, and only the strongest new companies will survive. So how do you avoid startup doom?

Sometimes failure comes down to sheer bad luck or influences beyond an entrepreneur’s control, but in many cases, it can come down to the same simple mistakes that companies make time and time again.

Here are 10 common errors to avoid if you want your business to last the distance.

1. Inadequate Market Research

It doesn’t matter how remarkable you think your product is if the market doesn’t agree with you. Very few startups offer an innovation that can truly revolutionize a space, so before you spend significant money on development and marketing, be sure your market research is up to scratch. Don’t waste time and resources on a white elephant with no demand.

2. Insufficient Startup Funding

All startups need to have a realistic plan for how they’ll operate until revenue starts to flow reliably. Almost always, this means having sufficient initial funding in place to see you through the first lean months or years, whether that’s through your own investment or via a third party funding partner.

3. Unsuitable Partner Choice

As vital as funding is, it’s a mistake to go into business with a partner just because of the capital they can inject. For long-term success, you also need to have a matching vision, common aims, and complementary skill sets.

4. Poor Customer Care

If gaining and retaining customers isn’t your number one aim, your company will struggle to develop any momentum. Providing great customer care and an excellent experience is a non-negotiable requirement for success.

5. Ignoring Revenue Needs

Especially in tech sectors, it seems fashionable for startups to focus on building a product range and a user base while leaving revenue worries until later. This rarely works out well. If you don’t have a strong, actionable idea about how you’ll generate revenue as you grow, gaining more customers could actually be a fast route to failure as your costs quickly outstrip your income.

6. Poor Budget Control

Never let costs get out of control in your quest for growth. Losing sight of the importance of healthy cash flow is a big mistake — no matter how many other metrics you use to measure success. Unless you have investors with extremely deep pockets (who aren’t focused on ROI), you need to keep a steady eye on the bottom line.

7. Getting Overly Enthusiastic

Hopefully, your startup will be a rapid success, but it’s all too common for entrepreneurs to become too enthusiastic at the first signs of substantial profit. It’s important to keep a level head, press on with your strategy, and continue making sensible business decisions rather than letting that enthusiasm get the better of you.

8. Poor Hiring or Collaboration

There is a common image of a lone wolf or maverick entrepreneur, but the truth is that any successful business relies on hiring high-quality staff and working with skilled third parties when necessary. Trying to do everything yourself isn’t the best use of your entrepreneurial talents.

On the flip side, if it’s not working out with a staff member or third party relationship, you should have no qualms about rectifying the situation before too much damage is done.

9. Fear of Delegation

Once you have high-caliber staff in place, you need to trust them to do their jobs. Many driven entrepreneurs struggle with delegation, but it’s essential for serious growth. If you constantly micromanage your staff, expansion is limited by the number of hours you can put in personally.

10. Lack of IP Protection

Lastly, in the rush for growth, many businesses fail to properly protect their intellectual property. Patents, trademarks and copyrights are all essential. If others can replicate the core aspects of your business without any legal barriers, you can be sure that someone with deeper pockets or a larger existing customer base will eventually move into your space.

 

If you have the entrepreneurial frame of mind and a winning business idea, it can be tempting to go full throttle towards growth and success. However, it’s vital to learn from the mistakes of others and take a little care along the way. Avoid these common errors and you’ll stand a much better chance of being in business for the long haul.

bitcoin business

Should I Accept Bitcoin in My Business? (Part 2)

Cryptocurrency & Blockchain: Hype or the New Reality? (Part 2)

bitcoin business

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are based on the underlying blockchain technology that comes with safety, anonymity, and a lot of confusion. Read Part 1 of this story to learn what blockchain is all about.

Digital currency prices are even more temperamental than the stock market. They can increase or decrease unpredictably over a short period of time due to their young economy, novel nature and often-illiquid markets.

But if you invest or accept crypto at the right time, you can see huge gains.

Like any other investment, you should do your homework before purchasing any cryptocurrency. The same goes for accepting Bitcoin or other crypto for goods and services.

If you don’t know much about this new currency model, then educate yourself until you are certain that it’s a valuable trade for your business. And make sure your business can stay afloat even if you lost all of that cryptocurrency. 

Be warned that many “experts” who provide crypto advice are more concerned with enriching themselves than helping beginners, so it’s best to stick to unbiased data until you really know what you are doing. To start, CoinMarketCap.com is a great unbiased source for nearly any token’s price, historical value and planned circulation. You can learn a lot by following these trends online.

Should I buy or receive crypto?

bitcoin business checklist

Before jumping into cryptocurrency, keep a few points in mind:

  1. Never keep your business savings in cryptocurrency. View it like you would a high-risk asset.
  2. If you receive payments, you’ll probably want to quickly convert them to your local currency to avoid any unpredictability with the market.
  3. If you keep your currency in crypto, know that there are risks — don’t keep anything in these digital wallets that you aren’t willing to lose.
  4. Transactions cannot be reversed. According to Bitcoin.org, transactions can only be refunded by the person receiving the funds. “This means you should take care to do business with people and organizations you know and trust, or who have an established reputation.”
  5. Cryptocurrency is still not an officially recognized currency. “Most jurisdictions still require you to pay income, sales, payroll, and capital gains taxes on anything that has value, including bitcoins.”

How do I open a digital wallet?

bitcoin business digital wallet

If you’re still interested in owning cryptocurrency or accepting it in your business, you first need a “wallet” — which is your account.

Crypto wallets consist of two random strings of characters. The first identifies your account on the public blockchain, making it a username of sorts. The second is your “private key” — a password that must be inputted before any transaction to ensure that you are the only one who can use your account. Experts generally advise keeping your private key a secret to limit unauthorized use of your account.

Once you have a wallet, you need to choose an “exchange” to facilitate your crypto purchase.

An exchange is like your cryptocurrency trading site — a place where you can buy, sell and trade digital currencies. Many exchanges are online sites, but some can also be brick-and-mortar locations.

CoinBase is a popular online choice for beginners due to its intuitive interface and the ability to fund your purchases with a credit card or bank account. Its selection is limited, so many crypto enthusiasts ultimately graduate to another platform such as Bittrex or Kraken.

The future of blockchain

bitcoin business future

Digital currencies are a complicated subject that can fill many textbooks, blogs, forums and conference agendas for years to come, so don’t rush into any decision just to jump on a bandwagon. You may miss a bit of the ride, but at least you’ll know what route you’ll be taking.

Only time will tell if crypto will change the financial landscape as we know it…

Missed part one of the story? Read it here.

Cryptocurrency blockchain

Cryptocurrency & Blockchain: Hype or the New Reality? (Part 1)

Cryptocurrency blockchain

Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum have been on a wild ride in the past couple years, famously reaching sky-high growth and then plummeting without much warning. No doubt, there are skeptics of this novel currency — but there are also countless stories of rich crypto lovers and modern businesses that have taken a chance on the digital trend. Is this just a fad, or should all companies start adopting a crypto strategy?

A confusing currency for business

Cryptocurrency blockchain confusion

It’s a non-stop rollercoaster in the digital currency world, and the only sure thing seems to be how confused it’s made the would-be investors and businesses that are considering getting on board.

It’s understandable. Many people don’t understand how any commodity can vary so dramatically in price, especially something with no intrinsic value.

Yet experts predict that cryptocurrency is here to stay for the long haul. If that is the case, most business professionals will need to learn the basics of digital currency and this emerging technology.

The sooner, the better — and potentially, the more profitable.

What is blockchain?

Cryptocurrency blockchain safety

Any discussion about crypto has to start with its underlying technology: blockchain.

Simply put, a blockchain is a public ledger that automatically records every transaction that happens on the network.

For instance, if you collect 10 Bitcoin from a customer, then a “block” on the Bitcoin blockchain will record that transaction.

If you’re thinking that it sounds easy to tamper with, think again.

Is blockchain safe?

Cryptocurrency blockchain mining

The blockchain has checks and balances for added protection. To start, every transaction on the blockchain is verified by “miners” who are individuals using powerful computers to crunch the numbers. These miners make sure that every single block is compatible with all the others that came before it. Any effort to tamper with the blockchain would need to edit multiple blocks simultaneously to ensure constant agreement — a task that’s almost impossible to do.

In addition, whoever owns the computers that successfully verify a transaction will be rewarded with brand new cryptocurrency (Bitcoin, in the example above). This provides an impressive incentive structure to keep the miners ahead of the hackers.

Blockchains also have an added security. Every single token is traceable through every account it has ever been in.

How are various crypto tokens different?

Cryptocurrency blockchain tokens

Each individual crypto token has its own blockchain, some of which operate differently.

For example, Ethereum’s blockchain is programmable, allowing for the development of “smart contracts” that automatically fulfill themselves once set conditions are met. Bitcoin’s blockchain lacks this functionality.

Likewise, various blockchains have different processing speeds, with Ethereum generally moving more quickly than Bitcoin. Of course, actual processing speeds are always variable depending on the number and quality of miners verifying the transactions at any given moment.

Supply and demand

Cryptocurrency blockchain supply and demand

There are many different types of cryptocurrency coins, and each has a differently planned circulation — or how much of it is available to the marketplace. Coins with lower planned circulations, such as Bitcoin’s 21,000,000 BTC, tend to be favored by investors since the limited supply translates into a higher price if demand is also high.

By contrast, Ripple’s planned circulation of 100,000,000,000 XRP means that any single XRP can’t be worth that much — no matter how high demand climbs.

However, a very large supply is a prerequisite for any coin hoping to compete with traditional currencies for everyday transactions, such as the U.S. Dollar. The most ardent blockchain supporters tend to favor large circulating supplies as a result.

So should you accept Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies in your business? And if so, how do you get started. Read Part 2 to learn the answers.

factoring vs bank loans

Need a Bank Loan? 16 Ways Factoring is Better

factoring vs bank loans

If you own or operate a company, you probably know the challenges of finding business funding. Relationships with banks are important, but sometimes bank loans don’t work out. That’s where alternative financing options like factoring, also known as accounts receivable financing, come in handy.

Factoring allows you to access cash against your existing and ongoing customer invoices. You’ll work with a factoring partner who will provide you working capital and take over the collections of those accounts receivable in return for a professional services fee.

When a company needs cash flow, factoring can be the quick and reliable solution to keep your business heading in the right direction. Here are the additional bonuses to using factoring that you may have never considered:

1. Get faster funding

If you need to urgently buy supplies, order product, make payroll or repair key equipment, factoring can be easier and quicker to secure than traditional loans – sometimes as quickly as 24 hours after submitting your invoices. Unlike a traditional loan, you don’t need to submit tax returns, detailed financial statements, business plans or your financial projections – saving you a lot of time and hassle. Banks can also take longer to approve your requests, potentially making you wait for fiscal year end or the results of an audit. Instead, your factoring partner will perform an initial underwriting process to approve your application – then you’re all set.

2. Flexibility – Borrow more when needed

The amount your company can borrow will actually grow the more you sell. As your business grows, you’ll need even more cash flow to pay for supplies as you wait for customers to pay their invoices. So factoring gives you the immediate ability to borrow more, and keep the growth going. Compared to traditional banks, you will never outgrow your line of credit, as a big enough factoring company can accommodate all your growth needs.

3. No other assets required

Factoring only requires that you have customer accounts receivable to secure your funding. You don’t need other assets like real estate, equipment or inventory to apply. That means your personal home or property doesn’t have to be offered up as collateral, which may sometimes be the case with traditional bank loans. (If you do have those other assets, you can also qualify for additional funding options like Asset-Based Loans).

4. Cash flow boost when you need it – now or ongoing

Whether you need a longer-term solution or a temporary boost in cash flow, factoring can help you out of a tricky working capital dilemma. Every business will eventually run into the need for more cash on hand – so with factoring, as soon as new orders are invoiced you can have cash released into your business account. This gives you the chance to take advantage of growth opportunities that require more consistent cash flow.

5. Get larger funding than banks

Unlimited funding sounds amazing. With factoring, lending power is dependent upon the size of your accounts receivable – so an abundance of working capital is possible. Banks qualify you based on your business credit strength, whereas your factoring partner looks to your accounts receivable and your customer credit strength. If you’re selling goods or services to financially strong customers and have ongoing invoices, you can get substantially more financing than you’d qualify for with a traditional bank lender.

6. Grow your business the way you want

Instant cash means you can accelerate your growth strategy. Some companies need to hire more sales people to secure new accounts. Others will need additional equipment to manufacture their product. Still others may need working capital for marketing and advertising, office upgrades or new project development. Whatever the need, you’ll have the working capital to execute and grow the business.

Related: How high-growth companies can get unlimited cash flow

7. Take advantage of supplier discounts

Volume discounts, early payment discounts or special supplier offers are attractive options – but only if you have the capital available at that moment in time. Traditional bank loans are often not fast enough to allow you to take advantage of these discounts. But now, you can factor invoices quickly and free up cash flow to jump at the opportunities when they present themselves.

8. Shorten your cash cycle

Waiting for customers to make payment is a burden. With factoring, you can significantly shorten your cash cycle. Instead of waiting 30, 60, 90 or more days for traditional payment terms, you can receive that payment from your factoring partner in as little as 24 hours. By the time your original terms would have come due, you could have now been able to purchase more goods, make more sales and earn higher profits.

9. Free up your time

Searching for funding and traditional bank loans is a time-consuming process. Meetings, business plans and applications take up a lot of your valuable schedule that could be spent on other areas of the business. With factoring, you’ll have to complete the application process, but once approved you can regularly factor your credit eligible invoices and save time while improving cash flow.

10. Lower your overhead costs

Since your factoring partner takes over the management of your invoices, including handling customer payment and collections, your costs in these departments will likely lower. This can help offset any fees and makes factoring an even more attractive solution. You won’t get that service at a traditional bank.

11. Focus on new revenue

You and your team likely already spend a lot of time processing customer invoices and collecting payment – maybe too much time. With those duties removed from your to-do list, you can now work on other tasks that will improve your revenue like sales, marketing and building new client relationships.

12. Faster collections

Prompt and professional collections can be a big bonus when you work with the right factoring partner. With a reputable company handling customer collections, the result can be more timely payments (customers don’t want to risk a poor credit report). Once the customer makes their final payments, you’ll also receive your reserve funds from the factoring partner – so on-time collections are important to everyone.

13. Improved credit checks

Your factoring partner will also be responsible for credit-checking your customers. That gives you the advantage of having valuable intelligence about the credit worthiness of your clients, including new customers you may close. That can help improve the quality of accounts you take on, improve your credit decisions and advance your business’ debt security.

14. Less costs than equity investments – and you keep control

Equity investments and venture capital can be alternatives to traditional bank loans, but they can also demand much higher returns than the costs associated with factoring. In addition, you may be required to give up shares in your company, and that dilutes your ownership stake. It may even shift control of your business to the investors. But with factoring, there is no requirement to give up a stake in your business.

15. Protect against bad debt

In certain circumstances, some factoring companies offer non-recourse factoring, which means the factoring partner will take on the risk if any invoices are left unpaid. This type of factoring offers you additional protection against bad debt – a level of protection can be very important to some companies.

16. Improve your balance sheet

Factoring is not the same as receiving a loan. On your books, a loan would get recorded as a “debit,” which is considered a liability. Instead, with factoring there is no debt incurred. Your factoring partner is purchasing your accounts receivable with cash, and that reduces your balance sheet debt. The result will be a lower debt to equity ration, and that can actually improve your financial position on the books.

Ready for help? Turn your open invoices into working capital with Liquid Capital’s Accounts Receivable Factoring Solution.

A working desk with multiple items

Want 97% more links to your website? How to blog for business.

how to blog for business

The stats seem almost unbelievable… Companies that blog receive a staggering 97% more links to their website and marketers can earn 67% more leads just by blogging. What brand wouldn’t want such an incredible boost? With a solid blog strategy and a little bit of guidance getting started in the right direction, you can blow away your competition and connect with new customers like never before.

Your blogging secret weapon doesn’t need months to set up either. Richard Goodwin, the author of How To Start A Blog Online, offers powerful and easy-to-follow blogging tips that have helped many people get their start in online publishing. Having been featured in Forbes, The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur and Inc., he explains that, “Twenty minutes is all you need to start a blog, and you don’t need any knowledge of HTML, coding, or graphics design.”

To get started, Goodwin points to a step-by-step process that can help get you through the initial learning curve. “When you decide to start a blog, and begin to look into everything involved, you may become frustrated or overwhelmed. The best thing to do is start fresh and break up the steps into a more manageable process.”

With that in mind, get answers to eight common blogging questions along with more of Goodwin’s practical advice to get into the groove. You’ll feel like a business blogging pro in no time.

1. How often should I blog?

how to blog for business

You don’t have to blog every day or even every week to get things started. At first, aim for at least one blog post per month, as that will keep your blog active but won’t overwhelm you as a content creator. Once you’re comfortable with that schedule, add another post per month to keep the content funnel going. The important thing is that you create consistent content that is valuable to your reader.

2. What should I write about?

Write about things your customers will be most interested in and that will provide unbeatable value. You are the expert, and your readers should see that in every post. For example, if you regularly answer the same customer questions, your responses could make for perfect blog articles. You can even scan your past emails and turn any client advice you’ve given into an article.

Goodwin also explains the importance of choosing topics that you find fascinating. “Choose a niche you are passionate about. Blogging is to be enjoyed. You know, there’s fulfillment in connecting with others and providing helpful information. You’ll experience this joy, and be able to do it for long if you are passionate about what you blog about. When I finally launched my first blog, I found I was really passionate about writing and publishing. So, I made that my niche and was able to connect with, learn from and impact many nice people. I even made money from it. I was fulfilled.”

3. Do I need to be a good writer?

how to blog for business

Once you’ve knocked your topics out of the park, you don’t need to be a rockstar copywriter to have a successful blog. Instead of trying to write Nobel-worthy articles, focus on making them straightforward and easy to consume. The most important part is that you write in a professional but relatable way – as you would in an email to a client. You want to come across as an expert, but not overly stuffy or academic. Avoid spelling mistakes and poor grammar by using spellcheckers and grammar tools (try Grammarly, for example). And always make sure to proofread your article twice before posting.

Goodwin suggests finding your own personal voice to tell your story, which can make for more relatable content. “This is a skill that will get better with a time, as it has a lot to do with developing your own voice with your writing. … Seek out topics and subjects that interest you, and then add your own personal flair to it! If you’re talking about the latest release of a new smartphone, add your own thoughts on it or your experience with the company who makes the phone. If you’re writing about a new entry in a movie series, tell a story of how that series has had an impact on your life while growing up.”

4. How long should an article be?

Blog posts don’t have to be really long to gain attention. 500-word articles tend to be a good starting length, as they’re lengthy enough to provide value, but aren’t too time-consuming for the reader. If you have more to say, then keep writing. And if you don’t have enough to say, you may want to consider doing some extra research or adjusting your topic.

Eventually, your article length will expand. 1500 word posts have been shown to rank highest in online searches, but save those longer articles for later on in your blogging journey.

5. What makes a good title?

Don’t underestimate the title of your blog post. It will be one of the most important things to capture interest – through social media posts, SEO, email and links. Aim for 70 to 100 characters long at your maximum, and fill the content with the right mix of uncommon, power and emotional words.

It may be helpful to write a list of up to 20 title options at the top of your page until you find one that really fits. To find out how good your headline options stack up, use the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer tool and test them before you hit publish. You may be surprised at which one wins.

Then include at least three sub-headings within the body of your article so that it directs the reader to the relevant points. 43% of people admit to skimming posts, according to HubSpot, so drawing their attention with relevant keywords in the sub-headings is also a great way to keep your reader’s interest as they scroll down the page.

6. Do I need to add images?

how to blog for business

Blog articles with images get 94% more views, and that’s a huge benefit when faced with countless online competition. A great image is paramount to making sure people take interest in the article, especially when you share it online. There are tons of great royalty free image sites and tools online to help with this, such as Pixabay and Canva.

You can also take your blog media strategy a step further by adding the right alt tags (keywords) to each image, and by using embedded video in your posts. Goodwin explains that, “Today, blogging is more than just about writing words. Adding graphics or even videos to the content can realistically help your blog stand out from the rest … Graphics also serve as an important component of the SEO strategy. In fact, most successful blogs often invest a significant amount of resources on their graphics.”

7. Should I use the blog to sell products or services?

Most great blogs teach their readers valuable information rather than direct selling. That means you will offer expert advice and guidance, building trust with your clients and prospects. The important thing is establishing a lasting relationship with your readers.

But you can also add links and prompts to keep the readers interested in your brand, and keep them on your website longer. Include at least one call to action in the body of your article and another one at the end of the article. Calls to action (or CTAs) will help convert your traffic into more meaningful conversations or leads.

For example, you can link people to another article on your blog that they might want to read next. Or you could offer a free consultation at the end of the piece if they’re interested in your services. This is a nice way to show you’re committed to offering exceptional information without a hard sell. When your reader is ready, they’ll come to you for the next step.

Related: Turbo charge your email marketing with these best practices

8. How will people find my blog?

how to blog for business

All great content must get promoted, so make use of your online channels to get more readers to your blog. That includes social media, e-newsletters, your email signature and sending blog links directly out to individual clients who might see value in the article.

“Social media is one of the best ways to advertise your blog, and it only takes the presence on a couple of social networking sites to gain exposure and increase the web traffic to your site. Identify your target demographic for your blog post and then research which social media platforms this demographic is more likely to use,” recommends Goodwin.

Often a new blogger will only use their personal social media accounts to promote content, and that is okay to get started. Goodwin explains further that, “When you’re just starting out with your blog, take to your personal social media account and share links to new content that you’re producing on a frequent yet modest basis. Once you build up a bit of an audience this way, it might be time to take your advertising to the next level.”

 

Up Next: 11 online tools for creative entrepreneurs

Group working at on computers with laptops

6 Simple Ways to Improve Your Company’s Culture

company culture

A great company culture can make a world of difference when it comes to hiring and retaining quality team members. If you’re wondering how to improve your company culture, try the following simple, easy-to-implement tips.

Focus on team building

Employees who work well together do wonders for a company. Employees who haven’t had the chance to bond? Not so much.

Consider hosting regular events during which employees can socialize and get to know each other. This doesn’t have to mean long nights out — try bowling or paintball instead, or other activities that align with your company’s values. Your employees will appreciate having something fun to do, and they’ll be able to spend quality time with their co-workers in a less restrictive environment than the office. Once they feel they can trust each other, employees will be much more likely to share creative ideas — ultimately benefiting the company.

Reward employees

company culture reward

If an employee does a good job, they should be rewarded for it. It’s easy to single employees out when they’ve made a mistake, but this will cause resentment and low morale. Rewarding employees for their hard work or initiative will encourage them to keep working hard. That can also encourage their co-workers, who will see these rewards and strive for excellence.

As a bonus, your turnover rates will likely decrease, as employees who feel like they’re appreciated tend to stay with the company for longer.

Offer activities during lunch breaks

company culture dance

Don’t encourage your employees to just eat sandwiches at their desks during their lunch hour. Instead, you can offer a little extra to help boost morale, energy and afternoon productivity.

For example, by hosting a fitness class during lunch hour, employees can get their daily exercise during office hours instead of having to squeeze in an hour at the gym after work? You could also encourage a company book club to arrange a weekly get together. Or schedule regular lunch and learn sessions that can feature guest speakers and fun sessions that your employees will find particularly interesting.

Use quality furniture to create unique office zones and meeting spaces

If you’re serious about improving your company’s culture, you might like to – at least partly – move away from the traditional cubicles that are ever-present in offices. Instead, create interesting and comfortable meeting spaces by using furniture that might already be at hand. Perhaps your employees would appreciate collaboration spaces with comfy chairs. Or maybe they’d prefer having a chill-out zone to rest during a break. You know your employees, so work with their personalities and give them access to an environment they’ll enjoy.

Allow employees to work remotely

company culture remote work

Even if it’s not possible every day of the week, giving employees the occasional opportunity to work remotely will likely feel like a serious perk to many. Having time away from the office, even if it’s just one day a week or month, will help to refresh and motivate them. Employees may also be able to focus on a special project without distractions from the workplace. If you can manage it, give remote working a test run.

Encourage taking breaks

Employees will be much more productive if they’re allowed to take regular breaks, and they’ll feel much more positive about their place of employment, too. To this end, be generous about breaks. You don’t have to let your employees run wild – but encourage them not to feel uncomfortable about stepping away from their desks for a short while. This will help both your employees and the company in the long run.

Improving the culture of your company is one of the most important things to consider when thinking about employee productivity and retention. Boost your company culture and not only will you have happier and more productive employees, but you’ll also keep them around longer.

A man listenig to a podcast

Podcast hit list for business owners & entrepreneurs

podcast hit list for business

If you’re not listening to podcasts, you might be missing out.

These online audio shows have become one of the best ways to keep current in the business world — and they’re also entertainingly addictive. Need more proof?

44% of people have listened to podcasts, and about 26% listen regularly. Almost a quarter of people listen in the car, while half listen at home (or maybe even in the gym or at the office). And with over 550,000 podcast shows at your fingertips, you might need a recommendation to shortlist your choices.

how to listen to podcasts

New to podcasts? No problem, it’s easy to start listening. Just follow these quick steps to listen from any device.

With so many options, here is a quick hit list of fantastic business-related podcasts to check out first.

Inside LaunchStreet

Are you ready to innovate? Get inspired by this weekly program that helps you foster your innovation through stories of those that have been in your shoes — and then leaped over tall buildings. The impossible is possible when you have the support and advice to go farther and faster than you ever expected.

Outside In

What are the secrets of the biggest brands in the world? Not their secret recipes or their up-and-coming product launches — but how do they find ways to genuinely connect with their customers? Outside In looks at the best practices to create a “customer-inspired organization.”

Business Wars

Mega-brands like Netflix, HBO, Nike and Adidas are battling everywhere we look — whether it’s for market share, revenue or just pure bragging rights. Learn what drives these companies and their leaders to new heights — and potentially to ruin.

Leaders in the Trenches

“Conversations with leaders for leaders.” Recognized by Inc and Entrepreneur Magazines, this show focused on how the top of the org chart can grow companies with defined cultures, stronger sales and in a way that better serves their teams.

HBR IdeaCast

A must for every new listener, this weekly show from Harvard Business Review explores captivating topics from unconventional startup models to ways that artificial intelligence will change your business.

BizChix

Aimed at high-achieving, entrepreneurial women who are ready to step into the CEO role at their business, this podcast features businesswomen who address challenges you may also experience at your company, along with clear direction on moving forward.

Start with Why

Inspired by the marketing master Simon Sinek, this short-lived podcast features lasting lessons on developing a career that you truly love, and how to harness the power of “why.”

Duct Tape Marketing

You may recognize their catchy name based on years of great articles shared widely in the marketing world, and now you can get their advice in podcast form. Featuring interviews with some of the top personalities in the marketing world, learn about developing the right business idea, using local SEO more effectively and tips on how to stay top of mind.

Odd Lots

How do the paparazzi really get paid? Are algorithms secretly controlling our lives? Get a quirky look into hot topics in the markets, finance and economics with two top Bloomberg hosts.

Back to Work

Overcome common challenges in the workplace with this entertaining look at productivity and communication tools, plus the barriers and constraints that can hold you back.

The $100 MBA Show

This short-format show was awarded as an iTunes Best Podcast featuring “no fluff episodes” that are packed with real-world lessons from some of the business world’s top experts.

Millionaire Interviews

Actionable advice for entrepreneurs, this podcast features the journeys of wildly successful business founders who have been featured on Forbes, Shark Tank and Time Magazine.

Planet Money

Popcorn! Peanuts! Candy apples! From NPR’s finest creative minds, this economic podcast has the knack for dressing up the drab. How do ballpark vendors use strategy to sell snacks? When and why did CEOs start getting incredibly high pay? Get all the fascinating stats and facts.

 

Up Next: 21 effective ways to get more accomplished every day.

A cellphone and a headphone

How to listen to podcasts

how to listen to podcasts

Podcasts are an undeniable trend seeing rapid growth in the business world. Over 42 million people listen to these online shows every week in the United States, and with a 10 to 20 per cent increase in listeners every year, that number is set to skyrocket. Couple that with the over 550,000 podcast options available and you’ve got an incredibly massive ecosystem.

So what exactly is a podcast and how can you start listening?

Think of a podcast as an online radio show that has episodes, hosts, guests and even seasons. Many of these podcasts are highly produced and researched, focusing on virtually any topic you could possibly imagine. From professional development, finance, entrepreneur stories and startup strategies all the way to cars, cooking, comedy and murder mysteries — you name it, there’s a podcast.

There are plenty of ways for you to easily listen to podcasts — all available on any smartphone, tablet or computer (and even some smartwatches) with Internet access. All you need is to open up your podcast app, search for the program name and press play. What’s more, the shows are free — and with a little preparation, you can download your favorite episodes to listen offline when data service isn’t available, such as in airplanes, subways and remote locations.

Here are some easy podcast apps to get started.

Apple Podcasts

For iPhone and iPad users, this is one of the easiest ways to get listening to podcasts. Simply use the pre-installed “Podcasts” app on your device to search for any program. Subscribe to your favorite shows and automatically download episodes as they’re released so you’ve always got the latest program at hand.

Price: Free

Google Play Music

For Android users, this streaming music app also doubles for listening to podcasts. This straightforward app has no fancy bells and whistles like some of the paid options on the market, but you can also use the desktop version to easily listen from your computer.

Price: Free on Android

Spotify

This famous music streaming app has added podcasts to the mix, referring to them simply as “Shows” in the navigation menu. Unlike other podcast services, Spotify curates their list — so you won’t find everything under the sun, but you will get a great list of hand-selected programs. You can also quickly flip between podcasts and your music selections, which is handy if you’re prone to channel-changing. Taking it a step further, Spotify has also added short video shows to the mix, which shows another potential level up in the podcast world.

Price: Free version available or subscribe to Premium for $10/month.

Pocket Casts

If you’re serious about podcast listening, the investment in Pocket Casts could be well worth the minimal price tag. Pocket Casts kicks your listening up a big notch, allowing you to set custom skip and rewind intervals to avoid advertising or easily relisten to parts of the show. You can also make use of their voice boosting and silence trimming feature which will help when you’re listening in a noisy environment (aka coffee shops, public transit or a busy office). And by syncing across all your devices, the listening experience on Pocket Casts is hard to beat.

Price: Free 14 day trial. If you choose to subscribe, it’s a $9 one-time fee.

Overcast (for Apple iOS)

Available on the Apple iOS platform only, Overcast provides some similar features as Pocket Casts — but it’s free! With recent improvements in its latest version release, there’s not much holding it back as a top contender to be Apple users’ number one choice.

Price: Free

Podcast Addict (for Android)

Another option for Android users, Podcast Addict proclaims that it is “the #1 Podcast App on Android with 8+M downloads, 400K reviews, 1 Billion episodes downloaded and an average rating of 4.6/5.” Pretty impressive in such a competitive market, this app offers multiple features while also managing podcasts, radio and audiobooks, plus other formats like Live stream, YouTube, Twitch, SoundCloud channels and RSS News feeds.

Price: Free, and you can purchase the “Donate” version for $4.29 to support the developer.

 

Ready to start listening? Check out our list of fantastic business-related podcasts featuring shows like Outside In, Business Wars, BizChix and Start With Why. There’s a little something for every business owner and entrepreneur looking for inspiring shows to help grow their business strategy.

podcast business hit list

 

Up Next: 11 online tools for creative entrepreneurs.