The Most Important Skill Every Successful Leader Must Have Arielle | April 28th, 2016

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Many young entrepreneurs and business owners think that innovation, marketing and financial know-how are the keys to the success of a business. Those are all important factors, but there is a single, more important factor.

Entrepreneurs and business owners spend a majority of their time talking to people: explaining ideas, directing others, helping, listening, speaking, networking, and taking advice. However, even though everyone talks, not everyone is a good communicator. Plato famously said: “Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.”

When you look around at successful entrepreneurs and successful people generally, you typically discover that the best leaders are also terrific communicators. In fact, strong communication is a key to the success of both individuals and teams. (If you want to read more about building great teams and the importance of communication, I recommend you read: The New Science of Building Great Teams in the Harvard Business Review).

Brian Tracy, a successful author, speaker, and CEO of Brian Tracy International, says, “Your ability to communicate with others will account for fully 85% of your success in your business and in your life.” Tracy built his platform of helping other business owners succeed based on the idea that effective communicators are more successful because they are able to be more persuasive, take advice, build relationships, manage and lead better, and just overall be more effective in the role they have in their companies.

Research conducted at the Carnegie Institute of Technology showed that only a mere 15% of financial success came from technical skills or actual knowledge. The rest (85%) came from the ability to effectively communicate with others, both when speaking and listening. Award winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman agrees:

People would rather do business with a person they like and trust rather than someone they don’t, even if the likeable person is offering a lower quality product or service at a higher price.

Why are some people great communicators, and others are ineffective?

The secret lies in how the person with whom you’re communicating perceives you. In one of his seminars, Dr. John Lund talks about the three most important things the other person wants to know in a conversation:

  1. Is this conversation going to be painful?
  2. How long is this conversation going to take?
  3. What do you want from me?

 

Sound familiar? It probably does – because these are the same questions you ask yourself before the start of a conversation – especially in business where everyone seems to want something. Once you understand that the other person is mainly concerned about these three things, you become a good communicator when you address them right away. By getting those questions answered, the other person can focus on the conversation and it becomes a productive use of time.

For the first question, check your tone and medium of communication. After all, there are varying levels of conversation intimacy. Much like body language, the medium you choose to use tells the other person a lot about what they should expect. For example, if you’re using email or are speaking in a stiff manner when you’re usually relaxed, the other person will expect that the conversation will be painful. You also should anticipate the other person’s views and feelings. Doing so will help you to put them at ease.

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Fresh from the SPRING: depmod Audree | April 26th, 2016

When perusing our galleries here on crowdSPRING, we see some amazing work submitted in the projects. Today, we noticed this gem submitted in this logo project.

Let us start the slow clap for depmod. Check out more great work on depmod’s profile page.

Nicely done, depmod, nicely done!

FFTS-depmod

 

Fight of Flight: The Science Of Business Success and Failure Arielle | April 20th, 2016

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According to Walter Cannon, a renowned physiologist, humans have two pre-programmed responses to stress: fight or flight. Cannon’s extensive research of people in stressful situations revealed two distinct patterns in how people chose to deal with stress. Some of the people he studied “fled” from stress, doing their best to avoid it in hopes of it going away, while others chose to “fight” the problem- seeking out and trying solutions in order to face and overcome stress.

Much like the people that Cannon studied, entrepreneurs and small business owners face daily stress, probably even more so than the average working person. Melinda Emerson, a leading small business expert, emphasizes that people must develop ways to manage stress for their business to succeed.

In a small company or startup, a lot is at stake, and there is much to lose. Reputation, money, trust, confidence – these are all things that entrepreneur value, but all are constantly at risk when running a startup or small business. So when stressful situations come up, such as a website completely crashing,  a major customer or key employee leaving, or not having enough capital, entrepreneurs and small business owners are faced with the same dilemma: fight or flight.

Is fight or flight a real choice or  simply a response from our lizard brain? If it’s a real choice, which should an entrepreneur choose?

While some may argue that either fight or flight could be an appropriate response, depending on the situation, the most successful CEOs and entrepreneurs’ actions reveal a very different trend. For the most part, successful people know that the flight response is almost never the best way to deal with a stress or a challenge in a company. Steve Jobs, the late CEO of Apple, agreed that fight is the best choice an entrepreneur can make when battling stress:

I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.

Judging by Apple’s success, particularly after he returned to Apple after a long absence, Jobs’s theory was accurate. As much as we hope they would, challenges and problems rarely go away on their own. Sure, as entrepreneurs we could pretend that tomorrow the website will be magically working again without any intervention, or that money will suddenly fall from the sky, but that never happens. Even Silicon Valley unicorns and their leaders – the darlings of the startup world – go through many difficult moments.

Cannon’s research suggests that one of these reactions – fight or flight – are inherently programmed into our character. So if you are I are by default flight type people, how can we ever expect to be as successful as Jobs?

Fortunately, scientific research has allowed us to see deeper into the biological and chemical activity of fight or flight responses and stress reactions. These studies have revealed that we can actually train ourselves out of the learned helplessness that stems from a flight response. The answer boils down to dealing with stress and challenges in an explanatory style.

There are two basic types of explanatory style, just as there are two distinct reactions to stress. The types can be categorized as optimistic or pessimistic points of views. Usually, the flight response correlates to a pessimistic point of view because that person has learned that they are unable to resolve the issue at hand. A pessimistic attitude causes someone to not believe in themselves, therefore believing that they cannot solve the problem because it is the worst problem in the world.

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Why Follow Your Passion is Bad Advice For Entrepreneurs Arielle | April 13th, 2016

passion

Aspiring entrepreneurs are often told to start a business by following their passion. Richard Branson of Virgin agrees that passion is the fundamental reason behind his company’s success:

When you believe in something the force of your convictions will spark other people’s interest and motivate them to help you achieve your goals. This is essential to success.

Richard Branson has been immensely successful and it’s natural for you to respect what he says about entrepreneurship. In theory, following your passion appears to be a great foundation for a successful business. The reality for most aspiring entrepreneurs is quite different.

Most people do not feel true passion. Sure, many feel the need to be passionate and to speak passionately about their ideas and startups. But there’s a very important difference between feeling the need to be passionate and actually being passionate about an idea. Richard Branson WAS passionate and has continued to inject his passion into every business he started. But, even his passion hasn’t fail-proofed his startups. There have been plenty of failures along the way.

Passion is exciting, contagious and interesting. We celebrate people who appear passionate – and we should. But passion can also be fleeting. Here are three reasons why passion might not be enough, in the long run, to help you launch and sustain a successful business:

1. Passion does not compensate for no expertise.

I could be very passionate about building passenger rockets. It could be my dream to launch a company that can send people to space – much like airlines do across the world. But not matter how much I am interested in passenger rockets, that doesn’t mean that I know the technical, financial, or logistical aspects. There are billions of people in the world and many are passionate about space. Who other than Elon Musk is converting their passion into an a for-profit company looking to solve the space travel problem?

Lack of expertise leads many aspiring entrepreneurs to believe that their product is great. Reality can be harsh. Too many aspiring entrepreneurs fall in love with their idea and ignore the problem. Ideas are shiny, new and interesting. But often, they don’t solve an actual problem.

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Fresh from the SPRING: arsOrum Audree | April 12th, 2016

When perusing our galleries here on crowdSPRING, we see some amazing work submitted in the projects. Today, we noticed this gem submitted in this logo project.

Let us start the slow clap for arsOrum. Check out more great work on arsOrum’s profile page.

Nicely done, arsOrum, nicely done!

FFTS-asOrum

The Science of Bad Decisions and How You Can Avoid Making Them Arielle | April 6th, 2016

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If you’ve recently made a bad decision (or a baker’s dozen of them), you are not alone. Not a single person is immune from making bad decisions.

Humans make mistakes. Let’s face it, even though we often deny it, we have inherently imperfect judgement. Anxiety, stress and fear can easily distort our choices. In fact, in the competitive and strenuous world of small businesses and startups, it’s much too easy to make bad decisions. Often, we don’t even know whether the decision we are making is good or bad. This is because the aggregate total of the decisions we make throughout the day impacts our ability to clearly see the upsides and downsides of some of the decisions we must make. Plainly put: the more decisions we must make, the more likely we’ll make bad decisions.

Realistically, not all bad decisions end up being detrimental and crazy, but it is in our best interest to make smarter decisions. After all, we don’t always learn from our mistakes.

With such high stakes, why aren’t people more careful and make smarter decisions?

A recent study, Decision Fatigue Exhausts Self-Regulatory Resources — But So Does Accommodating to Unchosen Alternatives,  highlights the importance of being selective when making decisions.

In five studies, participants who made a series of choices regarding consumer products, college courses, or course materials subsequently showed poorer self-regulation (measured in terms of task persistence, task performance, and pain tolerance), as compared to people who viewed or rated similar options without making choices.

Essentially, the researchers confirmed that the more choices, or decisions people had to make in a short amount of time, the worse their future decision-making and general productivity became.

 

Blogger James Clear echoes these sentiments in a blog post for his blog where he explores several case studies on this subject:

In fact, you may be surprised just how much small daily decisions impact the willpower you have for important choices. And most importantly, it turns out there are simple choices you can make that will help you master your willpower and make better decisions on a more consistent basis.

Clear uses the analogy of willpower in decision making to be similar to a muscle – too much use and it will become very tired and have difficulty recovering, but too little use and it will be rusty and out of shape. He suggests that when the decision-making muscle gets tired, we are more likely to make bad decisions, just as a fatigued muscle is more prone to injury than a healthily worked one.

Importantly, the art of avoiding a bad decision lies in the art of avoiding decision fatigue.

But how can you avoid decision fatigue?

Fortunately, there are a couple of ways to avoid decision fatigue, just as there are ways to prepare your muscles and train them to not become fatigued as quickly.

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Successful Entrepreneurs Know That Failure Is Rarely Permanent Ross | April 5th, 2016

If you do something that carries more risk, you are more likely to fail. That’s one reason so many people fear failure. But if you risk nothing, you risk everything. The most successful entrepreneurs take calculated risks and are always willing to fail.

The question isn’t whether you will fail – everyone fails at something. The question is what you do after you fail.

I’m not suggesting – as some do – that failure is good. After all, not every failure is a learning experience. Success is often a better teacher. As I wrote previously:

Knowing what not to do helps you focus and avoid setbacks, but doesn’t help you adapt to changes. You know what didn’t work — does that help you next time when you need to figure out what will work? If you ask successful entrepreneurs whether they would rather hire someone who has failed or someone who has succeeded, I suspect most would prefer to hire the person who has succeeded. This is not surprising — scientific research shows that we learn more from success than from failure.

Here’s a wonderful short video showing why failure is rarely permanent. Michal Marosi was racing in a mountain bike race. He was in the lead and made a risky move on an aerial descent that got him into trouble. He could have easily stopped racing. Instead, despite the big setback, Michal got back on his bike and executed an absolutely incredible passing move that was even more risky than the one that caused him to fall.

It’s a great reminder that failure is rarely permanent. Your attitude can turn even catastrophic failure into success.

Fresh from the SPRING:
 Cleio Audree | April 5th, 2016

When perusing our galleries here on crowdSPRING, we see some amazing work submitted in the projects. Today, we noticed this gem submitted in this logo project.

Let us start the slow clap for Cleio. Check out more great work on Cleio’s profile page.

Nicely done, Cleio, nicely done!

FFTS-Cleio

How The Cloud Is Reshaping Small Business Productivity And Profits Arielle | March 30th, 2016

I am not listening

The business world changes frequently and quickly, making it difficult for small businesses and entrepreneurs to keep up with new trends. But if small business owners and entrepreneurs fail to keep up with these trends, they will be left behind in the dust as the technology, organization, and marketing techniques in their industries change.

A 2014 study from Emergent Research revealed that there are four main forces currently driving the development of the next generation of small businesses: socioeconomics, customer needs, platforms and ecosystem, and technology and infrastructure. These driving forces have caused both new and old companies to adopt and emerge with cloud based technology, one of the newest and most prevalent trends in the small business world over the past few years. Emergent Research partner Steve King commented on this change for Talkin’ Cloud:

Today, the U.S. and global economy is going through a series of shifts and changes that are reshaping the economic landscape. In this new landscape, many people are using the power of the cloud to re-imagine the idea of small business and create new, innovative models that work for their needs.

Cloud based technology, or cloud computing, allows companies to deliver information, services, and more via the internet, rather than locally through information stored on your own computer or on a local server.

Given the speed with which cloud technology is spreading and high adoption rates by businesses, it’s clear that cloud based technology is here to stay. At the conclusion of the Emergent Research study, researchers predicted that 78% of small business will fully adapt to the cloud by 2020. The US Small & Medium Business cloud computing and services market will grow from $43 billion to $55 billion over the course of one year- from 2015-2016.

How does cloud computing affect you and your business?

If you aren’t yet using cloud based services or offering such services, it is inevitable that your future will involve the cloud. Here are three reasons of why your small business should consider cloud technology for your business:

1. Lower expenses.

Most people assume that cloud computing services can be cheaper to use as you scale your business. This is true. For example, many of you already use Google Apps for email, documents, presentations and more. Some of you use Office 365. Both of those are cloud-based services, as are Dropbox, Slack, MailChimp, and many other useful products.

Cloud-based products are also useful because you don’t need to make capital investments in the products. They cost little when you use them, and have small marginal costs when you don’t use them. Joe Weinman, author of Cloudonomics: The Business Value of Cloud Computing, explains: “In effect, it doesn’t matter that much what you pay when you use cloud services, the key cost reduction driver is what you pay when you don’t use them: zero.

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Fresh from the SPRING: loginstudio Audree | March 29th, 2016

When perusing our galleries here on crowdSPRING, we see some amazing work submitted in the projects. Today, we noticed this gem submitted in this logo project.

Let us start the slow clap for loginstudio. Check out more great work on loginstudio’s profile page.

Nicely done, loginstudio, nicely done!

FFTS-loginstudio

 

 

 

 

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