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Friday, 23 November 2012 08:00
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Can't get enough Shark Tank? We take a closer look at the facts and figures about the popular business show.

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Friday, 23 November 2012 01:21
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Significantly fewer start-ups are launched by immigrants today than in 2005. Author and entrepreneur Vivek Wadhwa explains how it happened.

Small businesses are great. Just ask any politician. They do everything an official loves to boast about: They create jobs, drive innovation and bolster the middle class. So why is the government pursuing policies that actively slow down the formation of new companies?

That's what professor and entrepreneur Vivek Wadhwa asked recently on Knowledge@Wharton. In his new book The Immigrant Exodus: Why America Is Losing the Global Race to Capture Entrepreneurial Talent, Wadhwa--himself an immigrant success story--notes that in 2005 immigrants started a massive 52% of all start-ups in Silicon Valley.

Today, that's down to 44%.

Why? Blame the government's shambolic immigration policy, which has highly skilled applicants waiting a decade or more in suspended animation to get a green card.

"When I applied for my green card [in the early 1980s]," Wadwha reports, "there was no backlog, there was no delay in visa processing."

Today the situation is much different, he says:

What happens now is that you decide that you want to become a permanent resident, and your company files for you, and it takes five years, 10 years, 15 years, sometimes 17 or 20 years while you're just stuck in limbo, waiting for that green card. The problem is that, once you have started the process of a green card and you've done the labor certification… you're stuck in that same job. You can't change jobs. In those five, 10, or 15 years, you can't go from being a program analyst to being a project manager. You can't go from being a writer to an editor. You can't change jobs; you're stuck in the same grunt job that you had when you started the process, so people waste their lives in the same tedious jobs that they had before.

Interested in finding out more about the big role immigrants play in American entrepreneurship, exactly how unhelpful the immigration authorities can be, the reverse brain drain of talent out of America, and possible solutions to the problem? Then check out some of Wadhwa's articles for Inc.com here. You can also read Inc.'s series, The Immigrant Edge, here.

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Friday, 23 November 2012 01:05
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For start-ups, especially in the retail space, now is the time to ramp-up sales--not to relax. But that doesn't mean your team can't find time for a little holiday cheer.

The Young Entrepreneur Council asked 12 successful young entrepreneurs for their best tips for keeping a start-up team, especially salespeople, cheerful and sane--even during a big end-of-year holiday sales push. Here are their best answers.

1. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

Preparation is key. We make sure we have everything ready and in place ahead of time, so A) we're ready, and B) our team can relax, knowing we're well-prepared. The holidays are no time to be stressed.
-- Nicolas Gremion, Foboko.com

2. Reward Faster Results

Instead of focusing on hours, focus on results. Make it very clear what needs to be accomplished and then give employees the flexibility to head out early once they accomplish it. This is a great way to direct all of their pent up excited holiday energy toward better results for you and your company. Plus they feel like you gave them a holiday gift with the early end to their work day or workweek. -- Elizabeth Saunders, Real Life E

3. Work (and Relax) Remotely

Historically, we've given a lot of time off during the holiday season. Our business is a 24/7/365 business since all of it happens online, but this means people can work remotely (from home) or log in at odd hours. The work gets done, we just provide greater flexibility and hire people we can trust to not abuse that flexibility. -- Michael Seiman, CPX Interactive

4. Get Personal

Ask them what's going on in their lives. Don't be afraid to open the lines of communication about personal matters. We all have loved ones, hobbies, and activities we spend time on outside of work. Sometimes they're a pleasure, and sometimes they add stress to our lives. Show that you care and encourage employees to do the same for one another. It goes a long way.
-- Anthony Krumeich, Bloodhound

5. Happy Hour!

Everybody likes an office happy hour. It gives people a chance to be in a more enjoyable environment, but still chat about things going on at work. It can also be a huge stress-reliever amidst all the other planned holiday activities.
-- John Hall, Digital Talent Agents

6. Expand the Team

Overworking core team members can lead to low morale and burnout. Plan ahead and hire additional temporary team members if necessary.
-- Lisa Nicole Bell, Inspired Life Media Group

7. Take a Long Thanksgiving Holiday

As an online retailer, the Monday after Thanksgiving through Christmas Day is going to be crazy! Everyone is going to grind in order to deliver outstanding service to customers. So we're "shutting down" the business over Thanksgiving, and then again after Christmas. December will be the culmination of our 2012 efforts--we will recharge before and afterward!
-- Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

8. Flexible Hours and Package Delivery

We allow employees to set flexible hours for themselves as long as their work doesn't suffer. We also allow our employees to have packages delivered to the office, so that more shopping and holiday prep can be done online, while still maintaining the element of surprise with their families.
-- Robert J. Moore, RJMetrics

9. Plan Fun Holiday Events

I like to intersperse fun, holiday team events throughout December that are pretty low-key and low-cost. This helps my team members unwind and stay focused. And for those who want time off, be flexible. I'm OK with some staff members taking little breaks around the holidays.
-- Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

10. Cover Their Basics

Even when you give your employees time to unwind, it's rarely ever used for that purpose, as so many basic things like doing laundry, cleaning, cooking food all come first in most households. A great way to allow your employees to truly unwind after work is to offer free services during peak times of the year that help employees cover the basics, allowing them to truly take the time they need. -- Derek Johnson, Tatango

11. Set Ambitious Goals--But Leave Schedules Open

We set ambitious sales and output production goals for each member of our team. Then they create their own schedule. It is always communicated that as long as productivity remains high, the rest of the time is yours to unwind.
-- Brian Moran, Get 10,000 Fans

12. Holiday Cheer

Tie success in terms of hitting goals or meeting targets to holiday-themed events, treats, and cheer. It gives rewarding work well done a well-themed twist and keeps things fresh when things get busy!
-- Derek Flanzraich, Greatist

Thursday, 22 November 2012 07:22
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“Your attitude will determine your future…”

It sounds simple, but it is harder to actually do, especially for sales people. Developing and maintaining a positive mental attitude requires determining and controlling your thoughts. There is so much negativity and doom and gloom being discussed it is easy to tune in to that type of thinking. With the downturn in the economy, people losing jobs and money, politicians squabbling and selling their policies, sometimes it is tricky to turn your thinking to a position that is helpful to you rather than destructive.

Here are seven essential steps to a positive attitude.

1) Become solution focused

To change from a negative attitude take a 180 degree spin and start focusing your thoughts on solutions. The longer you think about the problem the longer it will be before you discover your solutions.

You can only think one thought at a time, so it’s important for your success that you make a choice and make it a positive one. So rather than dwelling on the problem of not enough leads coming in, focus on the solution of which networking event you will attend next week.

2) Mind control

Over the centuries thousands of positive quotes and poems have been written on some aspect of positive thinking. Whether it’s Lord Byron about love or Shakespeare with words of wisdom like Make the World Your Oyster…people have been using different forms of mind control.

If your thoughts are negative one of the keys to controlling your mind is to simply read a positive quote, affirmation or book or talk to positive people to stop your mind thinking negatively.

A key attribute of many sales people is that they are right brained: creative, colourful, talkative and enjoy being with people. Visual aids are more appealing so use visual aids. To motivate yourself use a picture of your dream sports car or holiday or write down your target, number of calls, follow ups or phone calls and tick them off your list so you can see and feel what you are achieving.

3) Get out of your rut

My logo is based on the @ sign you see on any keyboard and I see a similarity between this and life. You can stay AT one place in your life, never learning new skills and going around and around in one place repeating the same mistakes, ‘stuck’ in a rut. Or you learn new skills and then move forwards and upwards in your life.

When you learn one skill you integrate that skill into your daily life. You remain at that point in your life for as long as you choose. You either get stuck again or progress forward as you learn another new skill. By learning the next skill needed for your success, you master another challenge and move onwards and upwards in your life again.

With each challenge you overcome, you achieve success and gain momentum in your quest to be who you want to be – the master of your life! Overcome the fear of your rut by trying something new or in a different way or discuss with other people what has worked for them. There are lots of sales courses, books and other successful people to share ideas about your sales pitch that can help you.

4) Create your desire

If you are achieving your level of personal success and are happy with your present salary, commission, partner, lifestyle or financial situation, you have no urge to lift yourself to your next level of triumphs. However, if you would like to improve any of the above or rate your happiness level below five out of ten you have a valid reason to have a positive attitude and create more victories in your life. Discover some values-aligned goals and find your urge. Carry your affirmation or goal with you at work about your number of calls or sales. If your desired result misfires quickly change your mindset back to positive. Embrace the words ‘next one please’ or reread your goal on your mobile or blackberry or the old fashioned way, on a piece of paper in your wallet. Display it in your car.

5) Educate yourself

Two famous quotes from Albert Einstein: “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” AND “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Your past has created who you are today. It has been based on the decisions that you have made and for most people some have been good and some not so good. You learn more from the not so good decisions as you create stepping stones to your future. The key now to your future success is to release your past and move onto your future and that means taking your personal development level up the next notch.

As Stephen Covey says – “Sharpen your saw”. While driving in your car educate yourself from the hundreds of educational CD programmes that are available. Your work
may even invest in them for your workplace library.

6) Soul, mind, body aligned

Your goal in life is to create yourself. Not an unhappy you but a happy, fulfilled successful person doing what you want in your life. There are three steps to your success.

Decide what makes your soul happy which means

a) Analysing your feelings. Discover your passions and include them in your values-aligned goals.

b) Use your mind and thoughts to create your values-aligned goals. This is your mind control.

c) Take action by following what your soul (feelings) and mind (thoughts) have determined (action). When your soul, mind and body are aligned you will stop living life
like a three legged stool with every leg out of alignment.

Embrace your soul, mind and body at work by ensuring you feel good. This is an important trait for the sales people and starts on the inner by becoming confident and believing in your ability to make sales. Additionally it shows in your outer in your clothing and personal grooming. Always present yourself well with good posture and looking good. You will feel better!

7) Just DO IT!

All this is possible and all you have to do is choose. Nelson Mandela once said, “Your playing small does not serve the world.” What does that mean? It means don’t live being unhappy and below your potential. You are destined to live a great life!

We all know those people who are positive and optimistic and who can laugh and view the glass half full and not half empty. They are determined to succeed and generally do.

If you’re having a challenging time think of the most positive person you know, pick up the phone now and invite them for coffee. You can also tell them you want to hear how they got successful because twenty years ago, they were probably where you are now. Your goal in life is to create yourself and your life to the great heights you want.

People will help you on your journey and prompt you to success. But first it starts with you believing you are worthy of your own success and keeping a positive mental attitude on your journey. The world is waiting for your best. Don’t delay any longer!

Thursday, 22 November 2012 07:18
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So you’ve decided to get serious by promoting your business with a website?

Domain name registrations are made on a first come first served basis so before you even think about your website it’s worth registering a domain name to secure it for the future.

As well as building your brand with a good domain name, search engines tend to give weight to keywords in a domain name. This increases the importance of considering some SEO strategies when selecting a good domain to promote your business. Google values keywords within a domain name when ranking your business in search engine results.

The key in selecting a domain name is to arrive at the best medium between branding your domain and choosing for SEO alone. To help you, I’ve come up with my top 10 tips:

  1. When coming up with your name, start by listing as many words that relate to your preferred domain name or to the content of your website and industry.
  2. Take your chosen keyword search term for your industry and add another word, for example AlertTaxis, FlightCentre, CheekyMonkeyHosting, MuffinBreak, WarehouseStationery, BurgerKing, etc. These words have excellent SEO rankability because people must use the keyword search term when linking to your domain name. You’ve also managed to retain an element of unique branding in the process!
  3. It’s a good idea to choose a name that reflects your site or business. This will make it easier for people to remember and also to find you.
  4. Brainstorm and come up with several options, as your first choice may not always be available. You can check on the availability of any domain name by carrying out a WHOIS search or by visiting a domain name registrar.
  5. Avoid the use of hyphens in your domain name (or no more than one if you really have to) as they have no branding value.
  6. Choose something descriptive – you want it to describe exactly what you do and relate it to the core of your business.
  7. Make it something memorable.
  8. Try and keep it short if possible, not too hard to spell and easy to pronounce on the phone!
  9. Use a popular domain extension and one that suits your market. For example, .com for international, .co.nz for New Zealand.
  10. Remember to always check your spelling before completing any registration!

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