Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Making a Good First Impression

It’s very hard to give a presentation so good that it overcomes a bad first impression


You finally got that initial meeting scheduled with your dream client. You’ve prepared your presentation and you’re ready to walk in the door.

But you will blow it without even knowing it if you inadvertently make a bad first impression. According to Dr. Albert Mehrabian’s 7%-38%-55% Rule, only 7 percent of your communicating is what you say, while 38 percent is how you sound and 55 percent is visual.

Your client begins forming his or her opinion of you long before you start your presentation. Here is how you can make a great first impression from the get-go. Continue reading

The Fallacy of Multitasking

Ever tried to wash dishes and clothes at the same time? Multitasking in the entrepreneurial realm is a bit like that.


What is multitasking? Does it even really exist? Or is it all in our heads?

Take an example from the domestic realm: Have you ever tried to wash dishes and clothes at the same time? If so, you probably found it nearly impossible to manually do both at the same time. That’s why washing machines and dish washing machines were invented. What used to be a physical task has become a mechanical one. Continue reading

7 Ways to Better Networking

Be the kind of person you want to add to your own business and social circles.


Many people (including me) offer advice on what it takes to be better at networking. One thing often is left out of that equation, however: Networking involves interacting with others, so it’s worth asking what the average person believes it takes to become great. If we want to make the kind of impression that works to build a powerful personal network, we must be cognizant of others’ expectations and adjust our behavior accordingly.

I recently gathered nearly 3,400 survey responses from business people around the world. I listed roughly 20 different characteristics and asked respondents to pick the behaviors they’d most like to see in a great networker. From this sample, I’ve identified the seven top characteristics and ranked them in order, according to survey answers. Continue reading

Chart Goals to Create a Road Map to Your Success


Many people suffer from being rational dreamers. They want to achieve a big dream but hold themselves back by being risk averse. They don’t want to disrupt the status quo and play things safe.

To coax themselves out of their comfort zones, people learn to set goals. I consider the process of goal setting to be like arranging checkpoints along the way to a desired end. Setting and meeting small goals can serve as a thermometer check on progress, measuring advancement and indicating an overall plan’s viability. Continue reading

Are You Psychologically Strong Enough to Be an Entrepreneur?

Here are six tests you’ll have to face to make the grade.


When most people think about entrepreneurial potential, they tend to gravitate toward intellectual categories of thought: How much business knowledge or acumen do you have? How much experience have you held in this particular industry? Are you creative enough to come up with innovative new approaches?

The answers to these questions are important, but they ignore an entire realm of entrepreneurial traits attached to psychological and emotional health. Entrepreneurship is a demanding gig, and if you aren’t mentally ready for the challenge, it might do more than ruin your attempts to succeed in business — it could negatively impact your life.

Do you have what it takes — mentally and emotionally — to be an entrepreneur? Here are six tests you’d better be ready to face if you want to become an entrepreneur:

Continue reading

U.K. Claims Its New Pound Is the ‘Most Secure’ Coin in the World

For security purposes, the Royal Mint has revamped its one pound coin.


The U.K. pound has gotten a makeover. But it’s not because the country thought it needed a new look — the one pound coin got a revamp to combat counterfeits. The Royal Mint claims it’s the “most secure” coin in the world due to features such as a non-symmetrical shape and two metals in its makeup. Continue reading

3 Crucial Questions to ‘Fail Proof’ Your New Business Idea

Risk is inherent but minimizing it is pretty much common sense, when you stop to think about it.


Starting a successful business is hard, but let’s not presume that entrepreneurship itself is intrinsically riskier than other things that popular culture deems as “acceptable.”

You’ll never be able to completely avoid risk, either in your personal or professional life, but you can mitigate it significantly by having a solid game plan in place. You need a proven system that will help you determine which ideas are worth pursuing so that you don’t become a statistic of America, Inc. Continue reading

Focusing Like a Laser Will Increase Your Odds of Success

Focus is the only solution when your company’s future gets fuzzy.


Do you remember the image during the credits of the movie Forrest Gump, where a feather is floating through the sky, being carried in whatever direction the wind would take it? That is a perfect visual of what not to do, when trying to build a business.

Business success requires an almost religious level of focus on the goal at hand, while not letting the whims or pet projects of our customers, investors or employees blow us in different directions. The entrepreneur that can keep the team focused and not easily distracted is the one that will most successfully get to the finish line. Continue reading

In-House or Outsourced? How Do You Decide?

Outsourcing your website design could save you countless hours pushing pixels. But any aspect of your business that could be automated should stay in house.


Because the internet has connected people worldwide, the outsourcing industry has grown by leaps and bounds over the past two decades. Another reason for this growth: Outsourcing gives entrepreneurs access to a greater pool of talent and low-cost labor. Their ability to delegate responsibilities helps them free up more time.

But outsourcing is not always the best option: Many business owners, in fact, are starting to figure out that not all work should be outsourced. In some categories, like customer service, outsourcing can even make a bad impression with customers. Continue reading

The Best Thing to Do When You Get Knocked Down Flat on Your Face


Imagine reaching the top of your profession after dreaming about it since you were a child, then all of a sudden have it completely taken away from you in an instant.

That’s exactly what happened to me when I got hurt in my first game as an NFL player for the Chicago Bears. I was depressed and didn’t talk to any friends or family members for at least two weeks. My life changed forever though when I reluctantly agreed to speak at a leadership event after I received the news that I was going to be out for nine months and reached an injury settlement with the Bears. Continue reading

4 Bad Money Habits That Have Left Millionaires Broke

The fundamental mistake newly-rich people often make is to think they have so much money they can’t blow it all.


Millionaires are known for having habits like carefully planning and spending their money wisely, constantly educating themselves, waking-up early, and especially for taking care of their health.

But, we have all seen the millionaires who don’t have those self-control habits. Those millionaires who connect-up with a spouse or partner who hasn’t had money before and doesn’t know that money has to be taken care of. The millionaire who just plain do the opposite of what it takes to make and keep money — and they have bad habits that ultimately leave them broke.

Here are four of those most common habits of millionaires who have gone broke: Continue reading

What Successful Businesses Have in Common

These 14 traits show up again and again when examining the reasons behind business success.


How does a small company become successful? Despite the bad news we so often hear about the number of small businesses closing or moving, the news really isn’t all that bad: Thousands of small businesses startup every year, and a good percentage of those companies have learned what it really takes to survive the early startup years and become successful enterprises.

After working with dozens of small companies, I discovered that the successful ones share some common traits. Here, then, are the 14 qualities I’ve witnessed in many of the thriving small businesses I’ve worked with: Continue reading

A Guide to Goal Setting

Transforming resolutions into results comes with being realistic.


Do you make resolutions at the beginning of every year? Resolutions can be powerful tools. In fact, they can help you take your business to the next level. The catch is, once you make a resolution, you have to work to make it come true.

If you want action, you need an action plan. Goal setting is the best way I know to transform lofty resolutions into bottom-line results. Research shows that when entrepreneurs set measurable goals for themselves, they’re more like to achieve them. Continue reading

How to Keep Your Investors Happy

Four tips on effective investor relations for startups


While you’re raising money for your business, it’s easy to forget what it’ll take to keep your investors happy after you have their money. How will they react if you don’t meet your financial projections? What happens if your business model needs to change after you’ve sold them on your original idea? Particularly during the startup stage, while your business is unproven, it can be difficult to keep your investors satisfied with your progress. And when you have more than one or two investors, the task can be downright daunting.

Here’s the secret: keep in touch. You owe your investors updates on your progress, and they can probably provide good advice on occasion. Most importantly, if they don’t hear from you, they’ll get worried. The best way to prevent worried and nagging investors is to keep them well informed. This article provides some tips for entrepreneurs who have raised money from angel investors, friends, relatives and other private individuals and now need to keep those folks happy. Continue reading

Protecting Your Business Against Embezzlement

Implementing these 9 easy steps will help guard your business against a less-than-honest employee.


Ever read those stories about embezzlement and think to yourself, “Wow! What fools. How could they not have known their employee was stealing money from them?” Unfortunately, situations like this happen all too often, and most of the time, the crime’s committed by someone you’d never suspect. While we all like to think the best of our employees, it’s critical that you be very savvy about the way you handle your money and don’t be unnecessarily irresponsible. If you don’t have proper controls in place, you’re just inviting trouble.

So what should you do to ensure that you have controls in place to minimize the opportunity for embezzlement at your company? Here are some tips: Continue reading

From Business Owner to Business Leader

Have you made the transition yet? With a few tips from this leadership expert, you can learn to become a great business leader.


Long before you became an entrepreneur, I bet you remember saying to yourself, “One day, I’ll own my own business!” People around the world have been saying those same words, some as early as 10 years old and others well into their 80s, with both excitement in their voice and a sparkle in their eye.

But when you thought of owning your own business, my guess is, your thoughts probably centered on the type of business you’d be starting. You dreamed of launching your own restaurant or construction company or taking over the family insurance company. You thought about how to make money and how to survive while ramping up. And how to run the business better and faster than your competition. Your first thoughts were probably not focused on the people that would be working for you or what type of leader you’d be. Continue reading

Market Research 101

Ready to get your invention in the hands of customers? Before you start producing it, learn everything you need to know about researching your target market.


Before McDonald’s introduces a new sandwich, before Clinique launches a new perfume, and before Fisher Price offers a new toy, all these companies do some serious homework. It’s called market research. And although they may believe wholeheartedly that their newly developed product simply won’t miss in the marketplace, they also realize that consumers are fickle–and that to avoid financial disaster they’d better get the facts first. Continue reading

Why You Need an Accountant

accountant.jpgQ: Should I hire an accountant? Also, how can I make the most of this business relationship?

A: One aspect of running a small business that few people give a lot of thought to is the way they deal with professional vendors such as bankers, lawyers, accountants and so on. Most entrepreneurs just dive right into their businesses without giving a second thought to how these professionals should be treated, what they can do for you and what they in turn look for in clients. With a little thought and effort, you can ensure that you get the most from these relationships.

The main thing to remember is that you need a personal relationship with each of these people. They have the ability-sometimes direct, sometimes indirect-to drastically influence the success of your business. Your goal should be to develop a long-term, personal relationship with each of them. If you do that, when you hit a bump in the road, they’ll be there to help you get over it. Continue reading

SWOTT Your Way to Success

Improve your business from the inside out with this acronym for success.


When it comes to running your company, are you like other entrepreneurs who keep their head down and their nose to the grindstone working hour after hour, day after day “in” their business but not spending any time focusing “on” their business? It’s very likely that you are. And even if you understand that spending time working on your business is a smart business practice, you may also be wondering just how you’re going to find the time and where to begin.

One tried-and-true diagnostic tool, better known as “SWOTT,” has helped many entrepreneurs work on their business. SWOTT is a tool that can be used before you launch a venture as well as throughout the life of your company. And while it may sound like you’re trying to kill flies, I promise, it’s better than that. To help you understand just how to SWOTT your business, let’s go over the acronym. Continue reading

What to Do-and Not Do-as a Startup

These seven lessons will help keep you on track during the early stages of your business


Wouldn’t it be great if someone could give you a “to do” list when you were ready to start your company that would guarantee your success? Even better, what about a “to don’t” list of things to avoid at all costs?

Through experience, I’ve found there are no shortcuts to launching a business–you have to do your homework to understand your customers, competitors, market conditions and risks. But there are some principles I’ve found to be very effective for growing both my company and my clients’ businesses whether they are startups or Fortune 500 corporations, whether they sell consumer products, professional services or technology products.

Even though we all start from different places, these seven lessons have certainly served me well over the years: Continue reading

5 Common Budgeting Mistakes

Avoid these errors to avoid financial nightmares.


Q: What are the most common mistakes new business owners make when budgeting, and how can I avoid them?

A: If the past five years have taught us anything, it’s that flashy business and marketing plans mean nothing if they are unaccompanied by a sensible long-term financial strategy. Numbers can lie in the short-term, but the truth almost always comes out in the end. So as we prepare for the real New Economy, how can entrepreneurs learn from the mistakes of their predecessors? Avoiding these five common mistakes will help keep your million-dollar idea from becoming a million-dollar nightmare: Continue reading

Protecting Your Company’s Most Important Assets

Think of your company’s intangible assets as the foundation of your business. Without them, you’ve just got a pile of rubble.


It certainly isn’t news that we now live in the Information Age. But in an economy so dependent on service and technology companies, often the most valuable business assets aren’t the heavy equipment or machinery in the factory, but the intangible assets woven throughout the fabric of the organization.

It’s these intangible and proprietary assets that enable a company to distinguish itself from competitors. Intangible assets such as intellectual property, trade secrets, pricing formulas, customer lists, business plans, recipes and the like are typically the foundation upon which a company is built in a business world full of copycat competitors. After all, every pizza shop has an oven, but not every pizza shop has the secret family recipe for the sauce that was handed down from your grandmother to your father and now to you. Continue reading

The Hidden Pain of Being an Entrepreneur

The tale of entrepreneurship doesn’t always have a happy ending, and raising money isn’t always the answer.


Last week, I got a call from a friend of mine who’s an entrepreneur that was probably one of the hardest calls he’s ever had to make. He was calling to tell me that he hadn’t raised a dime for his fledgling company in six months, hadn’t taken a salary in almost a year and was about to miss his mortgage payment on his house for the third month in a row (after three, the banks tend to begin the foreclosure process).

His call got me thinking about how many more entrepreneurs out there were in exactly the same boat he was in but just either (a) couldn’t bring themselves to make the call or (b) were still in a stage of denial where they didn’t know their ship was sinking. Continue reading

The Difference Between Managing and Leading

Understanding people will help you make the shift from managing to leading a business.


Q: I started my own business this year, making the transition from sales manager to business owner. What’s the difference between leading and managing employees? And what does my role as a leader now encompass?

A: Leaders are the heart of a business. The essence of leadership means inspiring a group to come together for a common goal. Leaders motivate, console and work with people to keep them bonded and eager to move forward. That means setting a direction, communicating it to everyone who will listen (and probably many who won’t) and keeping people psyched when times get tough. Continue reading

3 Simple But Proven Ways to Become More Productive

To truly become a more productive individual and accomplish more of what matters most, you must minimize distractions, instill new habits and have a great deal of self-discipline.

There is absolutely no shortage of time-management practices and experts out there promising to increase your productivity levels. And, certainly, we all aspire to be more productive, feel more accomplished and ultimately achieve greater success than ever before.

Unfortunately, though, simply wanting these things or reading a time-management book by a favorite author is a small part of the equation and will get you only so far.

In order to truly become a more productive individual and accomplish more of what matters most, you must minimize distractions, instill new habits and have a great deal of self-discipline.

Continue reading