The 8 DON’T’s of Resigning from Your Job

Before you decide to resign from your current place of employment, there are a few things you should think about and consider.  (Two weeks notice would be really nice and professional) 

WARNING: If you are leaving to start your own business, my hat is off to you and I wish you nothing but the absolute best as you enter entrepreneurship. As a word of warning, read my post about Double Employment. Still ready to start your business? Let’s go!

1. No venting allowed.
I know. You hate your boss. You hate your job. You hate that company. Quitting is the best thing that ever happened to you. Keep it gracious and professional. Your resignation letter will be in your employment file and it can always peek its head when you least expect it. Don’t write about how much your boss was terrible. Don’t write about how much you did and nobody ever appreciated you. Gracefully submit your resignation and wait out your time.  

Side Tip:  If they ask for an exit interview, grant it.  Be positive.  Maintain the bridge.  

2. Don’t steal that pen!
A pen, who cares right? You don’t want to be known as that former employee who walked away with the pen, the stapler, the hole puncher, the wireless keyboard & mouse, and the box of free folders. I know, this one might be out of line. It is just a friendly reminder to keep you honest and thinking about the big picture.

3. Turn the negatives into positives.
Surly, you have to tell a few of your co-workers about your resignation. Don’t get into the gossip trap of talking bad about the company, your boss, or your co-workers. Nothing good can come out of you bad-mouthing the entire family tree of the company. Instead, tell your co-workers what a rewarding experience it has been for you to work there. You never know when one of these co-workers will leave and call on you to join their new company. Leaving on good terms is critical.

4. Nobody cares about your new job.
I know. You went from the absolute worst job in the world to the absolute best job in the world. Nobody cares. Count your blessings and move on. No need to rub it into others faces or gloat about your new found luck. Maintain relationships as you leave.  

5. Mind your manners. Say goodbye.
It is perfectly acceptable for you to send a goodbye e-mail message to all of your co-workers letting them know you are moving on. Remember to include contact information so they can stay in touch. You never know where your next big opportunity will come from. (It might even come from your former company, since you left on such positive vibes)

6. Keep working. For two more weeks.
You hand in your two weeks’ notice – translation: I can now sit here for the next two weeks and wait. WRONG. Do not be that employee who forgot that down the road, you might actually need a letter of recommendation from these people. Your willingness to train your replacement or tie up loose ends before you leave a company will go a long way in helping you maintain that bridge between you and the company.

7. Don’t tell Facebook or Twitter too soon.
Make sure your manager or your boss is aware of your resigning before going public with it. There is nothing worse than having to explain a leaked social media story about your resignation before the powers that be actually know about it.

8. Don’t resign unless you mean it.
Weak threats to get what you want. If you threaten to resign, do it. Don’t be the guy who talks big and doesn’t act on words. Have a plan. Make sure you have money in the bank. Make sure you have a solid written offer from your new company. Make sure you have the support of your friends who are starting your new company with you. Just make sure. And make sure again. Now resign.

Related Articles: 
The Top 7 Tips for Starting Your Own Business
4 Secrets to Building Better Business Relationships

6 Must Have Tools to Start Your Startup

 

Business Startups

So you want to start a startup. You have been thinking about all the logistics and all the everyday challenges that you might face in your new endeavor.

There are certain tools out there that will make your life as a startup entrepreneur much more manageable. All of these are all tools that we have used at some point in our startup lives. Some have withstood the pressure of growth and others were just a stepping stone to move onto better things.

Here is our list, in no particular order:

1.  Stripe (www.stripe.com)
In today’s market, every customer wants to pay by using a credit card. Some accounting firms will actually go out on a limb and say that you might lose up to 60% of potential business if you are not accepting credit cards. Enter Stripe. Stripe is an online payment collection portal that directly competes with PayPal. It boasts features such as: Invoicing, refunds, coupon codes, prorated charges, monthly re-occurring charges, etc.

Unlike PayPal, they don’t hold on to your money. You charge a credit card and the money is transferred to your bank account within 2 days. The online portal to charge cards is super easy to use. If you are a website developer you can integrate Stripe into your website as your payment portal.

Cost? 2.9% of the total amount plus .30 per successful charge.

2.  Google Apps for Work (www.google.com/Business)
E-Mail perception is everything. If you are already this deep into your startup then you need to forego the free e-mail address and get professional. You know that one friend of yours who is a plumber and his email address is perfectplumber@yahoo.com or thebestplumber@gmail.com – don’t be that business.

Google Apps for Work allows you to have your professional e-mail address: mike@perfectplumber.com – see the difference? Professional. Credible. Trustworthy.
With your professional email account, you also receive: 30GB of storage, freedom to work from anywhere utilizing the gmail interface, business grade security and spam filtering, and many more features.

Cost? $5 per month. Totally worth the investment.

3.  Asana (www.asana.com)
The tagline here is “Teamwork without email”. We use Asana for projects that we have going on and need more than one person to collaborate with. This web based project management tool allows you to create multiple projects and invite multiple team members to join specific projects. Easily allows you to create, assign, and comment on tasks. Now you always know who is doing what and at what stage of the project.

You don’t always have your laptop with you. Sometimes, ideas or tasks strike in the middle of a ball-game or in the middle of dinner. Asana has developed mobile apps for all of your devices that sync seamlessly with the cloud to always give you and your team the knowledge edge you need to stay working.

Cost? Less than 14 team members? Free!

4.  Dropbox (www.dropbox.com)
Think of it as your server on the cloud. It’s a perfect spot for you to put your photos, docs, videos, and files. Dropbox syncs across all computers and mobile devices. I start off working on a document at the office and save it to Dropbox. I continue working on it from home and save it back to Dropbox. On my way to work, I remember I forgot to send it – log in and send it via iPhone. (I know, what a fantastic scenario … right?)

Additionally, Dropbox allows you to share specific folders with specific friends, clients, or co-workers. Example: My business partner and I have an Excel sheet that tracks new unforeseen expenses. We share an Excel sheet in the Dropbox folder that we both have access to; which allows either one of us to make changes and edits. Once we save, it is almost like we saved it on each other’s computers.

Computer meltdown? Phone went for a swim? Latte all over laptop? Don’t worry – everything is on the cloud!

Cost? 2GB of storage… Free!

5.  Google Analytics (www.google.com/analytics/)
Running a new business means keeping tabs on the numbers. Does your new website generate enough traffic? Where does the majority of the traffic come from? What are the demographics of your visitors? These are all questions that you, as the new business owner, must be able to answer.

Google Analytics uses all sorts of reporting and charting features to give you the power to make decisions based on your results.

Cost? Free!

6.  MailChimp (www.mailchimp.com)
Email marketing. Without the marketing budget. Any business you start will require you to get the word out and get it out fast! MailChimp allows you to email the right person at the right time. You can send automated emails based on your clients and their preferences. MailChimp even recommends the best send time within 24 hours of your selected delivery date, determined by your specific list’s engagement data.

Busy on the go? No problem! MailChimp is available on your mobile devices. Now you can send anytime, anywhere, to anyone. No more e-mail marketing excuses. Get those newsletters out!

Cost? 12,000 e-mails to 2,000 subscribers …. Free!

Related Business Startup Articles: 
Why Instagram is Essential for Your Business Marketing Strategy
The Top 7 Tips for Starting Your Own Business

Why Instagram is Essential for Your Business Marketing Strategy

instagram-business

In 2011, Instagram had fewer than 4.9 million users. In 2014, Instagram now boasts 200 million users. As a small business owner, or a new business owner, the thought of getting the attention of 200 million users might be overwhelming. Here are 4 tips to help you begin on your Instagram marketing strategy.

Hashtag. #Hashtags.
You can use hashtags in every Instagram post you create. Hashtags can be a very effective and efficient way to gain exposure. Unlike Twitter, you are not limited to the 140 characters per post. Include hashtags in your caption to allow your new post to be search accessible. (Don’t go hashtag crazy or you will seem desperate and people will fly over you…)

Make sure you include your business name in SOME of your posts. Example: I own Everlook Studios (Twitter: @EverlookStudios), my hashtags would reflect #EverlookStudios on some of my business posts. This strategy not only distinguishes your business posts, but it allows people to view all of your brand in one hashtag search.

Lastly, use general #hashtags to help people find your content. Example: I just created a new brand logo for a client – I will post it on my Instagram account and hashtag: #EverlookStudios #Logo #Branding

Engage.
This is a new buzz word in 2014. Every social media marketing strategy guide starts with the simple term – Engage. Go ahead, sit back, relax, and explore the wonderful world of Instagram by searching for #hashtags (see above). Take note of certain #hashtags that your industry businesses are using. Take note of what your customers and competition is using. See what they like, see what they post, take notes.

Find “experts” (Isn’t everyone a Social Media Expert these days???) in your specific industry and follow them. Engage in conversation with them. Like their photos. If your account comes off interesting or your engagement triggers a mutual interest make sure to engage in a conversation.

Use mentions to show appreciation to your followers, customers, friends, etc.

The majority of your posts should be made with your potential customer in mind. Post about your services. Post about what you sell. Post about your process. Make it worthwhile for a potential customer to follow you on Instagram.

Introduce your employees – this process not only gives the employee the recognition they most likely deserve, but it also humanizes your brand.

Inspire.
Post videos – Instagram has the ability to post short 15 second videos.
Post photos – People have a general curiosity of how things are made or a process of which something happens. Satisfy this need by posting photos of your process. Remember to #hashtag.
Show your creative process – Just the fact that you are on Instagram with your business is a start.
Share “behind-the-scenes” content – Use your Instagram account to share pictures of your process – Don’t post these specific pictures on any other social media site. Give the feeling of exclusivity to your followers.

Be true to your brand. Ensure that your photos and videos clearly define one attitude, personality, and vision for your brand.

Instagram Contests.
Use an Instagram Contest to spread the familiarity of your brand and reach a greater following. Instagram contests are popular because they are easy enough for people to participate in plus the reward to win the contest is usually well worth the time. (The prize of a contest is what gives people motivation to enter. It is the most essential part of your contest)

FTW3

Example:
A business will post a picture of their newest product and make the following rules:
1) Repost this picture and tag it @ftwkreations and #ftwkreations
2) Make sure you follow @ftwkreations
3) Winner will be picked on xx/xx/2014

Include contest rules in the caption of your post. Promote your contest in as many Social Media markets as accessible.

The right prize, the right timing, the right time frame (length of contest) and the right market, your contest can go viral overnight!

Remember the ultimate advertisement is to promote your winner on your and your winners’ Instagram page. Give them the fame they deserve.

Bonus Tips.
Use Google Alerts – Monitor your campaign hashtag mentions by using Google Alerts.
Post consistently.
Determine the best times to post.
Constantly engage.
Stick to your brand.
Show your human side.

How do you use Instagram as a part of your Social Media Marketing Strategy? 

4 SECRETS to Building Better Business Relationships

Many believe that building business relationships revolves around collecting business cards, adding contacts on Linkedin, and sending e-mails.  The real relationship in business is building a network of professionals that can share knowledge, learn from each other, and help each other grow professionally.

Before asking for something offer something.
Be patient. Relationships take time to nurture and grow. Take the time to get to know your potential client. Before you march into the office of the owner and offer your services, take the time to learn about the business.

  1. What do they do?
  2. Who do they sell to?
  3. Who are their target clients?
  4. What solution do they use now? How can you make it better?
  5. How much are they paying for the services that you offer currently?
  6. Can you save them money?  How quickly?

Once you know the answer to all these, you can begin your marketing strategy. Chances are, the owner won’t be interested in what you can provide until the need is dire. Once the need is dire, it is your time to shine!

(Perfect transition to my next section….)

Be prepared.
The 6-P’s: Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance

You get one shot at this – make sure you are ready. Time and time again, people in this position have a golden opportunity to make a sales pitch, and they freeze up, or they draw a blank.

Be prepared for this moment. Practice for this moment. Don’t stop practicing when you think you got it right, stop practicing when you CAN’T get it wrong!

Keep your word.
There used to be a marketing campaign all over the media: “Absolutely, Positively there by 11AM” Do you think this company would be ok with a delivery at 11:02AM? If the motto is to get it there by 11AM, then get it there by 11AM. Keep your word so you have a chance to keep it again tomorrow.

Don’t over-commit. Under-commit and over-deliver. It is the easiest and quickest way to gain the trust of your clients.

Don’t fake it. If you don’t know, you will gain more respect by telling them you don’t know vs. trying to be quick on your feet and putting your foot in your mouth.

Trust is the most critical aspect of a business relationship. Trust makes anything possible.

Customer Service.
I recently read a story on another blog (Wish I had saved the blog so I could give her credit…sorry!) about a young lady who would constantly shop at Nordstrom. On her last visit, the associate had a hard time swiping her Nordstrom card because the magnetic strip on the back had worn out. The associate had to manually enter the information and told her that she would need a new card. To her surprise, a shiny new card arrived in the mail within a few days of her shopping experience. Clearly, a sales associate willing to go the extra mile to make sure the customer is satisfied. That’s customer service.

What is your #1 business relationship secret?  What can our readers benefit from your experiences?  

The TOP 7 Tips for Starting Your Own Business

The idea of starting your own business seems attractive at first. You begin the process of thinking, pondering, asking questions, note taking, lining ducks, investigating ideas, and convincing your friends. You spend weeks putting everything together, and then you get busy.

You put your business ideas on hold because….. Well because you are busy! Everyone should understand how busy you really are!!

Why?
Really tackle the why. Why do you want to own your own business? Is it because you do not want to work for someone else? Is it because you want to make a difference? Is it because it seems like a good idea? Is it because you want to do whatever you want, whenever you want to do it?  This is the part of the process that I warn you about the time and commitment you would need to invest to make your new business a success.

Where?
Where is this business going to take place? In a retail store? In an office? In your living room? On the internet? It is critical to know what direction you are going to go with the business; even more, look ahead and also figure out where you would want to be in 2 years.

SIDE TIP: Get clients first. If you have clients lined up, it’s easier to justify the start of a new business and answer the Why.

With Who?
Who are you doing business with? Identify your partners. Identify your vendors. Identify your clients and shoppers. Identify your industry. Identify everyone who might have even a .01% chance to interact with your business. The more you identify now, the easier the plan becomes. Don’t do it alone.

Double Employment.
Some people will argue this point.  (They are the ones who have investors and financial backing to start a new business)  Start your business while you are still employed. It might takes a few months, a few few months, or a few years until your business actually makes a profit. Maintaining employment while you are starting your new business allows you to make money while you go through the process of becoming a CEO.

Business Plan.
On my first business startup, I didn’t believe in this process. What a waste of time. Who needs a business plan? If you Google business plan, it looks like a 30 page document of your business blues.

Enter second and third startups – business planned.

You need direction. You need deadlines. You need to be able to look at your business from a bird-eye-view. When you write all of the critical stages and your targets down it makes the goal more real. If you look at your notes and find you need to mail out 1,000 post cards by Monday – you might not plan that weekend get-a-way and actually work on Sunday.

SIDE TIP: Most people spend so much time dotting every “I” and crossing every “t” until their business plan is nearly perfect that they never have time to start the business. It all changes anyway – go ahead and jump in!

Logo.
A Logo will help distinguish your business (your new brand) from its competition. Be clever.
A Logo will help reach a specific audience and identify your new business. Understand your brand.
A Logo may convey the wrong message by using the wrong color. Color is big.
A Logo may consist of two characters. A word a symbol or both.  Choose wisely.
A Logo will take time to gain popularity. Keep it simple and easy. Recognition will come with time.

Go Get Customers!
Nothing else matters if you can’t do this. You will spend the majority of your time and effort focused on a sale or a sales process. Spend time (After business hours) working on your marketing process. Build your pipeline. Build your lead structure. Convert leads into prospects. Convert prospects into clients.

Create a list of leads that might be interested in your goods or service. This list should have 50-60 names with phone numbers. Start making calls and sell your business.  (I hope you have somewhere to write down the outcome of your calls and your newly formed appointment times)

Avoid the Headache Client. (Bonus Tip) 
Entrepreneur Magazine defines the Law of Discounting: The deeper the discount or the more generous the favor we give, the more unrealistic client’s demands will be. The clients who demand and continue to demand discounts will never be happy with your work. They are not worth the time and aggravation.

What are some tips you would like to share about starting your own business?

 

5 CRITICAL Business Lessons That College Forgot to Teach Us

We go to college with aspirations of becoming President & CEO of a company.  We study business.  We study marketing.  We just study, and study, and study.  We all have that one economics class that assigns us that group project to go build a company from scratch and watch it grow over the course of the class.  Eventually, we graduate and go into the world of entrepreneurship.  However, we enter that world unprepared.  

I asked 9 of my closest CEO friends to list their top 5 lessons they would teach if they were to teach a course on Small Business Entrepreneurship.  Here are theirs answers:  

1. Budget.
In college, your budget decisions were spun around food, entertainment, and school supplies. If you had extra money, you splurged; if you were low on money you ate fast food for the next three weeks.

A Business won’t be as forgiving.

The ability to read and understand a balance sheet or a profit and loss sheet is critical. You need the ability to plan for the next 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, and 24 months. During that planning, you need payroll, operating expenses, daily expenses, and unforeseen expenses.
A slight change for managing your college budget…..

2. Customer Service.
College students deal with teachers, counselors, deans, teacher aids, and fellow students. In theory, all of these people are there to help you through the process.

A Business won’t be as helping.

The ability to take a beating from a client and continue to find ways to “make it work” are vital for your business to bloom. How do you react to a customer who will always be wrong and be able to pivot the situation to make it appear as though they are always right?

3. Network. Network. Network.
Your engagement with your dorm buddy, drinking buddy, roommate, or test cheating buddy is not the same as your interaction with the world of business. These people were crucial to your success in college, sadly, they won’t matter when you are struggling with your Business.

A Business is not a college reunion.

As much as we love Joe, the former roommate – he is not right for your new Business. Prepare yourself to create meaningful relationships with the right people who can help move you along the corporate walk. Get the right people in your corner, possibilities become endless.

4. Salesperson(ship)
The only thing you ever sold in college was your used textbooks and that one report about your fictitious business plan and how you plan to become the next Business tycoon.

A Business won’t sell itself until you do.

Here is who you sell to: Everyone.

People need to buy into your company mission. People need to buy into your solution. You sell the ideas and vision to your employees. You sell the vision to your clients. You sell the vision to anyone who will listen. Sell. Sell. Sell. Over time, the experience you gain from this process will allow you to read and anticipate client’s needs in order to get them hooked onto your Business.

5. Time Management. Productivity.
In college, you got to pick that 11:15am class to allow you to sleep in. You got to get off school at 2pm so you could make it to your part time afternoon job.

A Business won’t allow you the luxury of a schedule.

Free time will not exist. You work 24x7x365.

You will have those friends who will make fun of you when you are still working at 10pm while they are out at the bar watching the local baseball team drop another game. You will have friends who will disown you because you are ALWAYS working. It will be completely normal to work on a business proposal or finish one more invoice before you call it a night. Welcome to owning a Business and the title of CEO.

What business lesson would you want to see added to a college curriculum?