63 search results for “AJ Agrawal”

Ever Wonder What Famous People Did for Work Before Making It Big? Read This

Ever Wonder What Famous People Did for Work Before Making It Big? Read This

Famous people weren’t always famous. Some of them were average people just like you. Many of the celebrities you see today came from humble backgrounds. For some of them, these were eye-opening experiences that helped them to reconcile themselves with their place in the world. Others just never expected to leave those jobs.

The following celebrities are just some of the famous people who had to grind and build like everyone else before they made it big.

President Obama – Ice Cream Seller

It’s hard to believe that the current president of the United States worked an unglamorous job as an ice cream seller at Baskin-Robbins, but that’s exactly what he did. For the whole summer he just scooped ice cream. He credits it not for his future career but for what it did for his jump shot in basketball. 

President Obama later wrote that his first job mattered because it taught him about the world of work and that these low ladder jobs can be harder than they look. Now President Obama looks back on his former job with fondness.

Mariah Carey – Hat Checker

Mariah Carey is like a lot of rising celebrities in that she worked a lot of jobs before she made it big. One of her stranger jobs involved her being a hat checker. She said that she didn’t manage to stay in this job, or any job, long before getting fired.

Carey was one celebrity who always wanted to get where she was today, which is why she only worked these jobs purely for the money. Most of her jobs fired her for a lack of concentration due to the fact that she was spending all her time working on becoming a singer and mixing demo tapes. 

Gerard Butler – Civil Lawyer 

Sometimes failure can turn into great success. Gerard Butler may never have become the mega star that he is today if it wasn’t for his failure as a lawyer. 

He started out working as a trainee civil lawyer. Like every other legal position, you get the job based on the assumption that you are going to pass the exams and become fully qualified. Butler was unable to pass the exams and was subsequently fired. He never tried to become a success in the legal profession again.

Kayne West – The GAP

The GAP is not exactly befitting the lifestyle of someone like Kayne West. A man who spends huge amounts of money on creating his own clothing line surely didn’t work at the GAP during his youth? And yet that’s exactly what happened.

The rapper most certainly isn’t ashamed of it because he references it in the song The College Dropout. The lyrics do make references to stealing. Although West acknowledges he used to work there, he didn’t reveal whether the stealing part was based on a true story or not. 

Conclusion – Humble Beginnings 

It’s important to mention that these celebrities weren’t necessarily following a path of rags to riches. Some of them were, but men like President Obama were gifted in the sense that they had great grades to go along with their humble beginnings. Others came from broken backgrounds, whereas others were from stable families.

The goal behind displaying such a diverse cross-section of big names is to demonstrate that it doesn’t matter where you come from. Unemployment is down 4.7% so you have every chance of success!

About the Author

I am a regular writer for Forbes, Inc., Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Media (among others), as well as CEO and Chairman of Alumnify Inc. Proud alum from 500 Startups and The University of San Diego. Follow me on Twitter @ajalumnify

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The Evolving State of Marketing Technology

The Evolving State of Marketing Technology

Marketing technology, or “martech” if you’re all about buzzwords, isn’t static. It’s constantly evolving, and this year there are some major changes happening. Right now, martech is proving to be just as crazy as the past few years, which means marketers need to hustle to keep the pace. As there are more and more martech vendors entering the market (they doubled since last year and now we have about 2,000!), with no sign of slowing, there might be more confusion than ever. How can we figure out the best strategy for us, how do we know when the “right time” is to blend the marketing and tech departments, and is martech really a necessity for all businesses anyway?

One of the biggest shifts is the fact that the decisions we have to make around martech—like the questions above—are getting more complex. There’s no way to really guess how many martech vendors will be around even by the close of the year. Technology that predicts customer demands, such as Amazon Echo and Siri, showcase the preference for how more customers want their interface and marketers have to figure out a way to make these artificially intelligence-driven devices recommend their brands, products, and services. As if marketing to humans wasn’t challenging enough!

Luckily, there are more and more guides designed for the non-techies. You can take classes, check out seminars, or simply scroll through bullet-point riddled tutorials to learn the latest about martech. Choose lessons based on your type of business, goals and more. Increasingly, the laymen is getting (mar)tech savvy.

Too Much of a Good Thing

The more hands there are in the vendor pot, the more complicated things can be for marketers. There are more people making decisions, including executives like the CMO and CDO (that’s digital officer for those who are behind in their acronyms). These leaders are straddling their roles between management, marketing reps, and IT department, which can result in quite the messy situation if not done well. It’s estimated by the Walker Sands State of Marketing Technology 2016 report that about 66 percent of marketers are able to give input in the buying decisions for products they use. In fact, over half of even entry-level marketers have played a major role in a purchase decision since 2013.

Of course, the “rise of the robots” and digital PAs like Google Now come with a slew of new obstacles. With AI and voice-based PAs predicting what customers want, marketers have to look at marketing innovations that mix messaging and AI this year. Add in the Internet of Things (IoT), which is offering up more data to process than ever, and things can really get sticky. The IoT is tossing a ton of customer data at marketers, but big data is pointless if it isn’t analyzed and put to use. According to Gartner, 30 billion “things” are going to be linked to the internet by 2020.

Planning Ahead

If wielded well, the IoT can give marketers a major advantage—or it can drown marketers who aren’t ready for the data influx. The year ahead will have marketers facing a lot of decisions, innovative technology, a confused market, and a slew of vendors. Catching up can be a challenge, but it’s a must if you want to compete. Where are you in the martech game?

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You Need to Know About These Social Media Tools

You Need to Know About These Social Media Tools


Last year there was a 10% growth in the number of social media users. It only demonstrates that if you have yet to create a social media strategy that works you are falling behind. By using tools to develop your social media marketing strategy, you can save a lot of time and effort.

Becoming more efficient in this way will lead to better results and allow you to get more done in a shorter period of time. This guide is going to show you some of the best social media tools you need to know about.

1. Facebook Marketing Tool from Real Geeks

Real Geeks came up with a Facebook marketing tool designed to take much of the frustration and intimidation out of proceedings. You already know that there’s a lot of value to be had from here. Initially designed for realtors, this tool brings together your website and your ad campaign on Facebook

It pulls out the data from your website in order to generate ads that deliver results. You can still tweak these ads as much as you like, which you should already be doing. The tool comes with a range of reporting features so you can easily monitor the performance of your ads.

2. SocialOomph

The reason why SocialOomph made this list is because of its functionality and nothing else. It gives you a central dashboard where you can link your social media profiles. It’s easy to manage all your social media activities from here, such as the scheduling of posts and bulk updating your profiles. 

If you’re focusing on content marketing and social media marketing, which you absolutely should be, this is a tool you are going to get a lot out of. It’s one of the more affordable tools on this list, so you are going to get a lot of bang for your buck.

3. Sprout Social

The chances are you have heard of Sprout Social before because it’s one of the most popular social media tools on the market today. Its main competitor is Hootsuite, but we decided to name Sprout Social on this list because it edges out Hootsuite through its superior functionality.

It works alongside practically any social media platform you can think of. You can easily schedule posts, monitor performance, track points of engagement, and receive reports for how your various pieces of content are performing.

What makes it more than a mere dashboard is that you can conduct content topic research from it. By listening in to the conversations people are having on social media, you can write content that people actually want to read.

It isn’t a free tool, but it is definitely worth the investment because it combines the features that marketers have to purchase multiple tools for into one.

A Word on Using Tools

There’s no doubt that social media tools can make it easier to manage campaigns. But there’s a dark side to using tools. Automating everything and downloading too many tools can make you completely reliant on them.

You need to remember that social media is about building real human relationships. Fail to do this because you’ve automated everything and you are not going to get the results you want.

What do you think is the best tool for managing social media?

About the Author

I am a regular writer for Forbes, Inc., Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Media (among others), as well as CEO and Chairman of Alumnify Inc. Proud alum from 500 Startups and The University of San Diego. Follow me on Twitter @ajalumnify

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10 Habits of Incredibly Successful Entrepreneurs

10 Habits of Incredibly Successful Entrepreneurs

We all want to be the most successful version of ourselves, whether it be a top athlete, business owner or a good mother. The most successful people have one thing in common: good habits. Bad habits cause stagnation and a sense of dissatisfaction, whereas good habits can help create a life that is full of purpose and accomplishment.

While having good habits will not make you perfect, because, let’s face it, no one is, practicing them will get you closer to your goals more than anything else.

Here are 10 of the most important habits of successful people. (You’ll notice that none of them are expensive or require drastic life changes, but when done together can result in big payoffs toward your goals.)

1. Be Specific with Your Goals

The way you describe your goals is going to have an impact on how successful you are at reaching them. Saying “I want to be happy” or “I want to be rich” is too vague. Successful people are not afraid to dig deep. Try asking yourself “Who? What? When? Where? Why” questions about your goals to help improve their specificity.

 2. Be Persistent with Your Actions

Successful people fail. A lot. Success is not inevitable. Failure is. The more you can anticipate it, plan for it, and learn from it the more likely you are to keep going, which is the only way to succeed at anything.

 3. Be Positive in Your Day

Cynicism is easy, especially in today’s world. But, successful people practice positivity and the result is that more people want to work with them.

4. Be an Excellent Listener

Successful people listen more than they speak in an effort to continue learning about the people around them, instead of using conversations as a way of reiterating their self-worth. Try filling any awkward silences with a question, instead of a personal anecdote.

 5. Be Willing to Go Above and Beyond

If you want to meet your goals, whether it’s in business or your personal life, you’ve got to be willing to exceed expectations; go the extra mile. Thomas Edison once said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

6. Be Diligent with Your Sleep Habits

Research has found that the human brain can only be at its best after a good night’s sleep. Bad sleep habits can cause our bodies to wear out. We also can suffer memory lapses and cognitive delays, become irritable and moody, and even resort to substance abuse. There are numerous ways to get a better night’s sleep. The best place to start is to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.

 7. Be Still

Studies have shown that meditation, when done properly, can alleviate depression, anxiety, and even pain. It can also improve the ability to focus and not get overwhelmed which is a common obstacle people face when moving toward their goals.

8. Be a Bookworm

Everyone from Bill Gates to Oprah Winfrey recommends reading to increase the likelihood of success. In 2015, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg pledged to read a book each week. No time for a trip to the library? Many have digital lending programs that allow you to check out books for free that can be read across a variety of digital devices.

9. Be a Planner

Set weekly and daily goals. Write them down and cross them off. Don’t get bogged down if you get behind, just keep going. Perfection is not the goal. Consistency is. Do the hardest things when you are at peak energy and focus, which for most means in the morning right after the coffee kicks in. 

10. Be Active

Successful people from President Obama to Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour look at exercise as a way to increase focus, attention, and alertness, among numerous other benefits. They prioritize exercise by scheduling it into their day, oftentimes first thing in the morning. (See #9.) 

Not a morning person. No problem. It doesn’t matter when you exercise, what matters is that you do it consistently several times every week.

Most people will read this, get excited, and try doing all of these at once. Then they will get discouraged and give up, because it’s impossible to implement 10 new things simultaneously. The best way to achieve success at changing habits (after you’ve clearly defined what your goal is) is to implement them, one at a time, then build on it. Goal stacking, if you will.

For example, pick a goal from the list, like #6 “Be Diligent About Your Sleep Habits.” Let’s say you’ve decided to start waking up at 6 AM every day. Once you feel like you’ve mastered that - it takes three weeks or more - try stacking another goal on top of it, such as exercise, eating a healthy breakfast, or meditation.

Bottom line – It’s common to get frustrated at all that needs to be done to reach any large goal. If you focus on building good habits every day, you have a much better chance at success. Use these 10 habits to build whatever success means to you.

About the Author

I am a regular writer for Forbes, Inc., Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Media (among others), as well as CEO and Chairman of Alumnify Inc. Proud alum from 500 Startups and The University of San Diego. Follow me on Twitter @ajalumnify

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10 Habits of Persuasive People

10 Habits of Persuasive People

Persuasive individuals possess an uncanny ability to incline one’s thinking. They have the upper hand since they can use their persuasiveness for their success or happiness.

Persuasiveness has become crucial for any career or business. In fact, it has become a managerial tool in business today.

Persuasive people can get you to like their ideas and to like them, all at the same time. Here are some of the habits that persuasive people possess:

They are bold in their position

People prefer advice from a confident source, and when a speaker is able to stand behind his/her position. He/she will naturally persuade the masses.

Confident speakers have the ability to convince even the most skeptical person, sometimes to the extent where their poor track record is overlooked. They know they have the ideas and tools to take a position.

They connect

They will let people know the kind of person they are before conveying their message. In a study that required students to reach an agreement in class, 55% of them reached an agreement without instruction. However, after the students interacted (shared their background and introduced themselves), 90% of them agreed successfully.

Persuasive people try as much to connect to the person they are speaking to. After all, the person that you need to talk to is not your enemy.

They know their audience

They have an extensive understanding of their audience, and they use this knowledge to speak to their audience in the right language.

They know when they need to tone down their assertiveness or when they need to be aggressive.

Choosing the right medium will win you more trust. According to research, women tend to focus on relationships, and in-person communication is effective for them. However, men tend to feel competitive in person and can turn a conversation into a contest.

Therefore, if your audience consists of men, you need to tread careful or look at other options.

They employ a positive body language

You need to be aware of your expressions, gestures, and tone of voice if you are looking to engage people with your arguments.

Persuasive people will maintain eye contact, use a positive tone, and uncross their arms as a way of winning their listeners. A positive body language convinces your audience that whatever you are saying is genuine.

How they say it is more important than what they say.

They acknowledge other points of view

Admitting other people’s point of view is a powerful tactic for winning their trust. Persuasive people agree that their arguments are not perfect, hinting that they are open minded and ready to make adjustments.

Sticking to your position means you do not have your audiences interest at heart and you are forcing your ideas on them. Persuasive people allow other parties to share their opinions and treat those opinions as valid. It is also a way of showing respect and encouraging others to talk.

Persuasive people understand that pushing their ideas without concern will make their points less likely to be accepted.

Make others feel important

Persuasive people will make others people feel important as a way of winning their trust. If you can show others that they are equally important, they are more likely to be persuaded by your arguments.

They are genuine

Everyone hates fake, and people are more inclined towards genuine people because they can be trusted. People will believe you if they know who you really are and how you feel.

Persuasive people understand themselves and are comfortable in their position. For this reason, they are perceived as trustworthy.

They are motivated

Persuasive individuals tend to be self-motivated and resilient. Since their mission is to convince others in what they believe in, they strive to be better every day. They are determined to fight for what is right.

Apart from being motivated, they are determined and prepare beforehand to fight any adversity or negativity.

They communicate clearly

They know what they are talking about and they are good at explaining in a way that is easy to grasp. They do not just speak without a clear message.

They share both the positives and the negatives

Daniel O’Keefe, University of Illinois professor, revealed that sharing opposing views is more persuasive than sticking to a single argument.

Persuasive people talk about the things that their audiences are already considering (bad or good). They will discuss all the negatives and advise on how to overcome them.


Persuasive people do these ten things, and they do them on a regular basis. If you start practicing these principles, you will become persuasive over time and your conclusions will be irreproachable.

About the Author

I am a regular writer for Forbes, Inc., Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Media (among others), as well as CEO and Chairman of Alumnify Inc. Proud alum from 500 Startups and The University of San Diego. Follow me on Twitter @ajalumnify

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10 Persuasive Words to Use in Crucial Conversations

10 Persuasive Words to Use in Crucial Conversations

In business, you have to know how to persuade your customers, your competition, and those you have other business relationships with. You have to be able to tell people why they need to buy from you or why they have to work with your company. The number one thing you need to remember, always answer the “why” of things.

You can use an approach similar to “Why is our product top of the line? We use [insert reason here]” and in that reason, include a powerful keyword to draw in the attention of your audience.

1. Because

The word because generates context that answers the “why” in conversations. A study showed that 93-percent of participants responded positively to context including the word because. You are providing a reason, which takes out part of the guessing of your audience.

2. Free

The word free, in general, is persuasive. Using it in business conversations tells your audience that they will be spending money; there is something they will obtain at no cost. Society likes free things and some consider anything free to be better simply because it was free. The actual value is psychologically increased in an individual’s mind because it was a zero-cost expense.

3. Fact

Using the word fact in conversations can help you get what that you want. Saying something is a fact solidifies that what is being said is truthful. Consumers, and businesspersons alike, prefer information. Statistics and facts are common deciding factors in regards to forming business relationships and generating sales.

4. Believe

Believe is a bit trickier to implement into crucial conversations in a persuasive way. You can tell your audience that you believe in a product and believe in your company. This persuades the audience to consider working with your company, or you exclusively, because you have pride and stand behind what you are describing to them.

5. Limited

Limited is a very special word. It means that something is obscure, small quantity, or is not intended to last. This immediately draws attention to the product, service, or brand. In business discussions, using terminology regarding a product being limited to one exclusive company only is likely to start a contract bidding war. This can help your company achieve large sales numbers and increased client opportunities.

The use of the word limited helps you get more people to say yes more often as they see the product as more in-demand with a smaller supply.

6. Simple

The word simple tells an audience that the process to use, construct, or install a product or service can be done by anyone. The word simple works into sneaky strategy speak to make sales, helping consumers become informed, and generating more interest in a specific product.

7. Save

Every consumer and every company likes to hear the word save. Saving time and/or money are both important. Spending less money on your product or service with the same features/performance as the competition helps consumers make informed decisions. It can also help you generate more business relationships as company owners learn that your product/service can reduce spending overall.

8. Guaranteed

Guarantees sell items. When consumers notice that something comes with a guarantee for performance, durability, or overall use, they are more likely to listen to information about it. The word guaranteed can get your company more sales as it comes across as a limited risk.

9. Now

Now generates action. It tells people that they need to make a decision now, rather than later. A missed opportunity comes from waiting too long to make a decision. The word now is a powerful word that almost instantly gets you what you want. When society is commanded to take action, most will at least make the effort to look into what you have to offer.

10. Open

Open is a persuasive word that can be used in several different methods. First, it can be directed to tell people to open a pamphlet or presentation. A command is persuasive because the entire group will follow suit. It also tells your audience, when used in alternate context, that your brand is “open” for business, accepting new clients, and is approachable. It also displays the character of an open-minded person.

Closing Thoughts

Some of these persuasive words can be highlight in written speeches or presentation notes as keywords. These keywords should be used more than once if you really want to reel in your audience. Do not stuff your presentation full of these persuasive words. It will leave your audience feeling hoodwinked and it may actually work against you. The art of persuasion is learning how far is too far without crossing the line.

About the Author

I am a regular writer for Forbes, Inc., Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Media (among others), as well as CEO and Chairman of Alumnify Inc. Proud alum from 500 Startups and The University of San Diego. Follow me on Twitter @ajalumnify


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11 Ways to Become a Better Blogger Now

11 Ways to Become a Better Blogger Now

Blogging can be a full-time job that can come with a lucrative income. It takes time to get to this point, of course, but you can get started now by making a few changes to your current blogging strategy. The eleven tips here will help you rethink your strategy and create content that grows audiences.

1. Start an Ideas List

If you want to become a better blogger, you need to have a list of topics available. You need to start an ideas list if you do not have one already. When you are drawing a blank, visit your list and come up with a content strategy for that specific topic.

2. Create a Content Calendar

A content calendar will help you organize your posts for a week or month at a time. If you have a specific topic that you need to publish on a specific day, complete it ahead of time and schedule it. A content calendar helps you keep your blog updated routinely and will help you stay on top of important topics.

3. Be Consistent

Some bloggers like to throw in a random post every now and then. This is not the best thing to do. Readers expect consistency. Your voice, all of the time.

About 54-percent of bloggers spend less than 2 hours creating their content. This can lead to inconsistencies in voice, presentation, and blog theme.

4. Schedule Posts for the Right Time

Part of becoming a better blogger is changing some of your posting habits. The time of day that you post matters. It is important to know when the majority of your audience is online and viewing social media networks. Run a test with two important topics. Post one before 8 a.m. and another around 7 p.m. See which post performs better.

5. Be Unique

You cannot attempt to compete with or copy another blogger. Your blog has to be unique, so you should have at least one feature that sets you apart from other bloggers to increase your readership. It is important to work on creating a unique voice and a unique way of delivering your content.

6. Build your Audience

Building an audience takes time, but you need to work at it. This means that you will want to encourage your readers to share content. You could also create a contest and reward the user that brings the most followers with a small gift too.

7. Pay Attention to Topic Selection

You may have a great idea for a blog post, but what do you do if it doesn’t fit your theme? Network, and consider trading posts with another blogger while giving credit to each other on your respective blogs. If you go off-theme, it may confuse your audience and may cause some of them to stop following you.

8. Market Everything You Post

A good tip for part-time bloggers is do not forget to market your own content. This means that you should be using social media advertising opportunities and should promote/boost your posts. Doing so helps you build your audience and improve your blogger reputation.

9. Become an Influencer

Consider becoming an online influencer to transform your blog. There are several angles to take, as you could be a niche influencer, trend influencer, or industry-expert influencer. Audiences are more likely to follow those that are considered to be influencers than simple bloggers.

10. Use One Display Avatar

Whatever profile picture you use on your main blog, should be used on all channels where your content is published. For serious, full-time bloggers, this should be your logo. Your logo is part of your online identity.

When you have your display images created, make sure to request a thumbnail size file to use on social media profiles for consistency while posting on multiple networks. Using larger images may cause your logo to stretch or distort making it unrecognizable to your audience.

11. Branding

If your blog does not have a logo or other visual identifier, it may hurt you if you are trying to survive an economic recession when sponsors are spending less money. Your brand should be identified by one logo across all channels, including letterhead or contracts. Your audience and potential sponsors should be able to look at your logo and immediately recognise you.

Final Thoughts

You must realise that focusing your blog on a single niche or topic is necessary. Too many different topics leave audiences confused as to who you are. If you aren’t a great self-editor, hire one because a human editor is always better than a program. Take your time on your content and make sure it delivers the message you need or want it to.

About the Author

I am a regular writer for Forbes, Inc., Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Media (among others), as well as CEO and Chairman of Alumnify Inc. Proud alum from 500 Startups and The University of San Diego. Follow me on Twitter @ajalumnify

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3 Business Skills They Don't Teach in College

3 Business Skills They Don't Teach in College

College is a place where you can learn a lot of things, but business isn’t something that falls into that category. On the contrary, it’s something that you’re least likely to learn in college. Look at a lot of successful CEOs and you will see that they started their first businesses in college.

What you may also notice is that they didn’t learn those skills in the college itself. This guide is going to show you some of the key skills every successful entrepreneur must master, but isn’t taught in the college environment.

1. Communication Skills

Entrepreneurs often have the problem of trying to communicate their ideas. They have to make sense of the jumble inside their heads. That’s what will carry a startup to high levels of funding. Knowing when to communicate and when not to communicate is the difference between a business that succeeds and a business that fails.

College is one place where you are unlikely to learn this. It’s the ultimate soft skill that will build your confidence and help you to bring together your team. Some people just seem to be charismatic in this way, but it’s also something that you can learn over time. 

But for one moment you need to think back to what it is to be an entrepreneur. Communication isn’t about running over people and talking over them. It’s about listening to them in equal measure. The best entrepreneurs tend to listen more than they speak, and that’s why when they do speak people tend to listen.

2. For Better or For Worse – Multitasking 

There are lots of views on multitasking and whether you should be multitasking, with some studies saying that 40% productivity is lost every week. Some people believe that it’s better to concentrate on one task, whereas others believe it’s better to try to do multiple things at once. Regardless of where you stand on this issue, it’s useful to have this skill at your disposal.

Entrepreneurs have to be everything all at once, so usually this is something that’s thrust upon them. Until you grow into a large company, you will wear many hats.

Again, this is something you’re never going to learn at college because you are one thing and one thing only. In the beginning, it may be overwhelming to try to take on everything at once. You have to be able to take on so much at the same time. You have no choice in the matter, so you best get good at it fast.

The easiest way to train yourself to multitask is to start at home. Get your own life in order. Make sure that you’re able to pay your bills, keep your clothes clean, and eat right. Stop relying on any parental support and learn to stand on your own two feet. Life is all about multitasking! 

3. Paying Attention to the Little Details

The details are what separates a successful company from a failing company. Managing details is absolutely crucial, and if you fail to do it you’re going to pay the price. People who are weak in business tend to ignore the little details because they believe their business idea is enough to carry the day.

This is a huge mistake because what they don’t realize is that it’s getting harder and harder to stand out as a startup. There are already lots of people who have the same idea as you, and the chances are they are doing it better. Missing out on the details can add up, and soon that can add up to huge problems. 

The little details in business include emailing people with little notes of gratitude, measuring your daily financial report, and the thousand other tasks that come with operating your own business. 

You need to embrace change and reinvent yourself. Too many would-be businesspeople are content to mope and get depressed about the fact that they don’t possess this skill or that skill. If you don’t have the expertise, swallow your pride and ask someone to help.

Hiring a consultant or a life coach may seem like a bad decision at this early stage in your life, but it’s actually the best time to do it. You may not have a lot of money or time, but investing in yourself is the best investment you can make because you know that you are the only person you can rely on 100% of the time.

Start learning about yourself now and start finding the areas that you’re weak in. If you can make yourself a better businessperson now, there’s no telling what you might go on to accomplish.

About the Author

I am a regular writer for Forbes, Inc., Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Media (among others), as well as CEO and Chairman of Alumnify Inc. Proud alum from 500 Startups and The University of San Diego. Follow me on Twitter @ajalumnify

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3 Reasons Why Companies Are Going Remote

3 Reasons Why Companies Are Going Remote

The American job market is in a state of transition. Fewer people want to work in the framework setup by the generations that established the rules. There is a sense of unhappiness when it comes to working 40 hours a week, locked in an office from 9:00 to 5:00 every day. And it goes much deeper than just muttering around the water cooler. It’s estimated that approximately 38% of Americans are working as freelancers – a figure that’s expected to grow

There is a sense of unhappiness when it comes to working 40 hours a week, locked in an office from 9:00 to 5:00 every day. And it goes much deeper than just muttering around the water cooler. It’s estimated that approximately 38% of Americans are working as freelancers – a figure that’s expected to grow to 50% as soon as 2020.

The freelance mind-set has seen unrivalled individual prosperity and a better quality of life for employees who manage to pull it off, but until fairly recently companies seemed hesitant to adapt their thinking. Thankfully there seems to have been a movement to not only embrace remote work, but to adjust corporate and contractual structures so that companies benefit too.

If you’re a business owner, or perhaps an inspired employee looking to convince the powers that be that your company should follow suit and go remote, you should keep reading as we explore 3 reasons why going remote is so much more than a fad – it is the future.

Happy Employees Perform Better

There has always been a fairly obvious connection between the happiness of your staff and their productivity levels, but until recently it was more of a hunch. The great news is that happier employees have been proven to be as much as 20% more productive. But how do you keep people happy when they’re working? The introduction of flexi time, greater benefits and office perks may help, but few initiatives are as impactful as allowing your teams to work remotely.

The idea of working from your favourite coffee shop or on a beach is immensely appealing as it excels the mid-set that you’re actually working. A fresh space can inspire creative solutions to problems, a new perspective and a sense of empowerment that shouldn’t be overestimated.

Keeping your team happy by allowing them to work on their own terms means you’re likely to not only get more work from them, but better work. And that’s just the beginning.

Reduced Overheads

Staff that have the freedom to work remotely have a massive impact on your operational bottom line. They take fewer sick days – a sneaky white lie that costs the American economy an estimated $576 billion. You don’t need to think about the space you need to have your team working, let alone the cost of computers, equipment, electricity and miscellaneous costs like stationery and perishables. Furthermore, you can cancel the company car because your team is ready and willing to work from wherever they are.

While there may be some argument that freelancers cost more when used in the long run, this is not always the case. There is a tendency to offer these hybrid employers contracts as opposed to paying them per hour, meaning salaries become far more manageable.

However you choose to structure payments, the power of remote staff is that you can tailor their skills and times to suit your needs instead of locking yourself in to a permanent agreement with a staff member who does little to contribute to the growth of your operation.

Great Opportunities

Another reason why more and more companies are going remote is that it delivers an array of unexpected communications. Freelancers and remote operators exist in a network that is constantly sharing new ways of working and opportunities. For example, you may use a freelance graphic designer who is based in Beijing. They might have a business of their own that can be linked to your own. As any business owner will tell you, opportunities spring up in the strangest places.

Many freelancers also offer a number of diverse but related services, especially in the creative space. Web designers can write copy, graphics masters can create 3D wonderment, and business consultants often make great trainers. It is in this availability of diverse skills and talents that the greatest opportunities – hybrid creativity is immensely powerful.

Final Word

Although working remotely is not possible in some industries, there is more and more merit in allowing your employees to choose their path. Maximizing their happiness and freedom is risky if you’re dealing with those who aren’t trustworthy it can have truly dire consequences, but selecting remote employees is the same as choosing a permanent on-site staff. Embrace the risk and try it out – you never know whether or not it might be the injection of excitement that your business needs to build its reputation.

About the Author

I am a regular writer for Forbes, Inc., Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Media (among others), as well as CEO and Chairman of Alumnify Inc. Proud alum from 500 Startups and The University of San Diego. Follow me on Twitter @ajalumnify

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3 Things to Ask Yourself Before Starting a Business

3 Things to Ask Yourself Before Starting a Business

In the United States alone, more than half a million businesses are started every month. Depending on whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist, this is either really encouraging or a little scary to say the least. But regardless of how full or empty you believe the glass of opportunity to be, you need to be aware that more businesses close than are opened on a month-to-month basis.

Starting a business is one of the biggest financial, personal, and professional decisions you can make, and regardless of the scale of your plan, you need to be sure that the decision is taken with as much information and objectivity as you can muster.

Problem is that when you start investigating the pros and cons of becoming a business owner, you’ll soon discover that there are mountains of information out there. While it can help to read through everything, what you really need is a list of golden guidelines or absolutely essential considerations that you need to make.

And here they are.

Consideration1: Is There a Market?

If you take a step back and do a high-level analysis of businesses that do well – Apple, Uber, Tesla – they all have one thing in common: they met a need. It may feel overly simplistic, but if you have an idea that you think could become financially viable as a business, then put your consumer hat on and ask yourself the all-important question – Is there a market?

You may instinctively feel that any great innovation could capture the imagination of your target market. But as countless failed business owners will tell you, conducting market research before you invest is absolutely crucial.

Start by asking whether or not your product or service is something that people want, or something they actually need. Needs are always more likely to sell – think of essential items that everyone requires. But in the modern era selling desire may be equally profitable. The trick is to be honest. Not everyone wants your weird invention in their living room.

Remember that a Facebook page of people saying they’re interested in your idea means nothing – you need to dive deeper. Ask people you know, strangers and entrepreneurs, about your market potential.

Consideration 2: Is My Business Sustainable?

Once you’ve established, that there is a market for your potential business you need to start thinking long term, and that means facing up to the question of sustainability.

Thankfully the term itself has taken on a dual meaning that may help guide your eventual decision to go ahead or hold back. The first, and arguably most important, definition of sustainability in the modern business environment refers to ecological impact and longevity. Simply put, if your business idea has a detrimental effect on the world around it, it’s going to fail. Explore an environmentally-friendly avenue if you hope to succeed.

The second definition of sustainability refers to the ability to sustain and grow your enterprise in the long term. The question of business sustainability can be broken down into complex equations around value, profit margins and consumer trend analysis, or simply whether or not there is scope to excel and expand.

While there is obviously a lot of financial acumen required to do the math around long-term projections, there are easier ways to work it out. The simplest? Write down a three-phase approach to how you’re going to set up, stabilize, and expand your operation. If you can’t work it out, you’re not ready.

Consideration 3: What’s The Plan?

Remember that paper where you figured out how sustainable your business could be? Grab it quickly. That’s the foundation of your business plan, and without it your business will fail. Creating a business plan for an enterprise or company that doesn’t exist yet is arguably the best way to decide whether or not to take the plunge.

A basic business plan gives you the framework you need to make an informed final decision. You’ll need realistic information around your current capital, the logistics and costs of starting up as well as some kind of market analysis that you can use to forecast longevity. Remember that business plans that are more conservative or slightly less ambitious will be more realistic and effective in helping you plot a course to success.

Closing Thoughts

Becoming a business owner is one of the most exciting and terrifying decisions you can make. Follow these guiding lines and be honest about your position – there’s no harm in waiting until you’re more stable, or better positioned to succeed. Unless you’ve struck gold, in which case strike while the iron’s hot!

About the Author

I am a regular writer for Forbes, Inc., Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Media (among others), as well as CEO and Chairman of Alumnify Inc. Proud alum from 500 Startups and The University of San Diego. Follow me on Twitter @ajalumnify

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