Category Archives: Biz Tips

How to Host a Successful Work Retreat

Sometimes, a startup is only as good as the team you’ve built. In honor of the team and the dreaded team-building exercises, today we talk about how to host a successful work retreat.

1. Gauge and/or excite your team’s interest

When you mention “work retreat,” many people start to figure out their excuses on how to get out of it. While that may not always be the case, before you start planning a work retreat, mention it around the office. Find out what kind of work retreat people would actually want to go on. If you open up a dialogue about the possibilities rather than dictate what is going to happen, your team will already start to feel the excitement.

Remember, you want your retreat to improve morale, not destroy it.

2. Bring good food

This may sound odd, but you want to get a good food spread. It’s important to keep you team fueled and fueled in a way that they want. Get some stuff for the health nuts as well as the food junkies. Make sure the coffee flows free. This isn’t a seminar or a conference, this is supposed to be a time for you and your team to get to know one another. They will congregate around the food table.

And, on that note:

3. Encourage social time

A work retreat is not a lecture.

Read that again.

You don’t have a work retreat to lecture your team. You can lecture your team at any time. Make the retreat something different. Throughout the day, have times planned when people can sit down, relax, and socialize. Lunch is obviously a big opportunity for socializing, but also try to think of other times when you can break for some social time.

4. Make an agenda

Of course, you want to know what you’re doing at your work retreat. You should make out a schedule to determine what you’ll be doing and when. But, don’t be afraid to throw out the agenda. If something is going well and people are connecting, let them lead you where you want to go. You can always pick up the other stuff later.

What are your tips on throwing a positive work retreat? Do you have a great work retreat story? Share in the comments!

3 Ways to Become a Better Speaker

Entrepreneurs need to have a big skill set. You’re going to be running a business, with employees and investors and your own furniture and office space. You may not have to be an expert in all areas of entrepreneurship, but you should definitely hone your business skills before you get started. You’re going to be up in front of people, pitching, motivating, and explaining.

Here are our three ways to become a better speaker:

1. Ask a question that can’t be answered

Asking the audience a question can sometimes be a cheap gimmick. Is your audience supposed to yell out the answer? Are you going to answer your own question if they just wait? Who is this person and why do they want this information? But, if you ask an unanswerable question and admit you also don’t have the answer, it makes you more human. And, it might help you get your point across if you are seeking to answer the unanswerable.

2. Pause

The timing of pauses is an art form. If a pause is too short, it seems like you forgot something. Holding a pause for a long time shows it was intentional. Stop talking and hold that pause. It will make people pay attention. If they were distracted, you’ll reel them back in. It also gives you a bonus air of confidence.

3. You don’t have to always be closing

 Not every speech or talk you make is a sale. Of course, when you’re pitching, that’s a different story, but even then, you don’t have to be dragging the conversation by the nose back to your product. Before you get into your sales pitch, make a different point. Find a human connection. If people like you as a person, they’ll probably like you as a business. Getting the sale isn’t the only thing in the world. It’s good to remember that every once in awhile.

What are your tips on becoming a better speaker? Share in the comments below!

5 Apps for Entrepreneurs

It‘s here. The iPhone 6 (and bendable iPhone 6 Plus!) are taking the world by storm. Now that you have the hardware upgrade, it’s time to bring your apps up to date. Here are our top 5 apps for entrepreneurs.

1. TrackMaven

TrackMaven lets you monitor your competition. TrackMaven analyzes the data from your marketing content. It also lets you analyze your competitors marketing efforts. This helps you identify what you customers (or competitors customers) are looking for. You can this use the data to better target your audience.

2. Free Wi-fi Finder

That’s right. And app that finds free wi-fi. You never know when you’re going to need a strong, fast, reliable connection, so be prepared.

3. Uber

Sure, there’s been a lot of talk about Uber lately. Will the government shut them down? Well, we’re not sure yet, but while it’s still legal, you should make use of it. Whether you’re visiting a city or you live in one, Uber is a reliable way to get around. Don’t ever hail a cab again.

4. Mint

Where’s the money going? Mint helps you keep track of your personal finances. As an entrepreneur, you want to keep an eye on your cash flow. Mint can pull in all your data from bank statements to auto insurance and mortgage costs. You can also monitor your investments.

5. Unroll.me

Unroll.me is an app for your email. It lets you target all the junk and get rid of it in one click. Not only does it delete the emails, it also gives you the option of unsubscribing without having to go through all the rigamarole that unsubscribing requires. So, if you’re tired of hearing about every sale that Yankee Candle has, Unroll.me is for you.

Bonus!

There’s a bonus! It’s not really an app, but here it is:

An external phone charger.

While cell phone battery life is improving with each new phone, as an entrepreneur, you probably spend more time on the phone than most people. An external phone charger, when charged, should hold at least another 50% of battery life for your cell. Some hold even more than that. Plus, they’re usually around $20, so it won’t break the bank.

What are your essential apps for entrepreneurs? Share in the comments!

Interview: Shane Mac, author of Stop with the BS

Shane Mac is the Director of Product at Zaarly.shane

He’s been featured in The New York Times, Reuters, U.S. News and World and many other press publications discussing new and disruptive ways to get hired. He’s the author of Stop with the BS.

Click here to listen to Shane’s interview. Read the rest of this entry

Inspiration: How To Become A Morning Person [Inforgraphic]

morningperson

4 Business Expenses You Can Reduce Today

pennyBusiness expenses can get out of hand quickly. Sometimes, you forget to budget for things that can add up. We’re here to tell you what four business expenses you can reduce today.

1. Energy costs

Do you work in an office? How old is it? When was the last time the insulation was updated? Do you turn all the lights off when you leave?

As a Texas based company, we know that you can’t get much work done in the heat. But, if you use heating or air-conditioning in your office, you should make sure your air-conditioning and heating units don’t have to work as hard when no one’s there. Turn the thermostat up or down when you leave and adjust it again in the morning when you get it. Make sure you turn off computers and lights when you leave. And, if you’re just starting out an office, think of investing in  energy saving equipment, like more efficient monitors, modems, and even light bulbs.

2. Payroll

As an entrepreneur, you are working with a limited budget. Before you go out and start hiring employees, take a look at the projects you want those employees to handle. Are they all permanent or long term? If not, you might want to hire out on contract rather than having a permanent employee.

3. Research

Small businesses and entrepreneurs get a whole range of tax breaks, deductions, and benefits. We’ve mentioned some on this blog, like hiring your children. But, think about all the business expenses you incur, like travel, or business lunches, or conference fees. Are you making sure those are all reflected in your taxes? Take some time to research the benefits available to you and make sure you’re taking full advantage.

4. Shop around

If you find that you are in need of something for the office, don’t settle on the first price you find. If you’re looking for something like office furniture, you can always buy secondhand. If you need a modem or router, check more than one retailer. With the Internet, it’s easier than ever. You can also look for places that offer small business rewards programs or discounts.

What are some ways you save money around the office? What’s your biggest business expense you forgot to budget for? Share in the comments!

Interview: Christine White, marketing specialist of Infratel and MightyCall

Christine White, marketing specialist at Infratel, talks about MightyCall.

Listen to Chrstine’s interview here. Read the rest of this entry

5 Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Website

We all want more traffic. Especially if you’re an online business. There are plenty of ways to encourage people to come to your website. How many are you doing?

1. Get an email with your domain.

Websites cost money. They cost money to register, they cost money to build, and, sometimes they cost money to maintain. On GoDaddy, you get an email address when you register your domain. So, use it. When you send an email from yourname@yourdomain, your getting your web address out there with every email.

2. Encourage your friends to like and share.

When people like and share your website and content on social media, it becomes more visible on those social sites. And, the more fans you have on your page, the more people will see your content. Think about asking your friends to like and share before you start paying Facebook to boost your post.

3. Pay Facebook to boost your post.

Consider it part of your marketing budget. It may not work 100%, but it will get your content out there. Also, it allows you to pick the audience you want to see your content. Don’t disregard it as a money grab.

4. Email signature

Just like putting your domain name in your email address, you can also put it in your email signature. This helps your exposure, making sure people see your website address twice every email. They just might click through.

5. Tell the social media world where you work.

On your personal Facebook page, tell everyone where you work. There is a spot on Facebook where you can put your Education and Work. You can also put a domain name in your Twitter description. Make sure you have a LinkedIn company profile page that people can click on. Better yet, share your content on LinkedIn just like you would on other social sites. It might not seem like it encourages that behavior, but it’s actually a good place for driving traffic.

How do you drive traffic to your website? What are some things that you’ve tried and have failed? Share in the comments below!

Inspiration: 15 Tools Every Entrepreneur Should Have [INFOGRAPHIC]

15tools

Interview: David Troy, co-founder and CEO of 410 Labs

David Troy, CEO of 410 Labs, talks about their email program Mailstrom and how to get you to inbox 0.

410 Labs, makers of Mailstrom, is a lean product studio founded in 2010 by Dave Troy and Matthew Koll.

Listen to David’s interview here. Read the rest of this entry

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