Skills Insight of the Day #11 Hugging at Work

Should you hug, high five, or fist bump your coworker?

Hugging is a personal preference. Some people are huggers, while others prefer not to hug anyone who is not a close friend or family member.

Not sure about what your coworker prefers? Ask for permission or pay close attention to clues. For example, your coworker extends a hand for a handshake, holds an object but doesn’t put it down, or turns their body slightly the other way. These people are saying they prefer not to hug.

It is vital not to hug those you manage. In a boss-employee relationship, the employee may feel uncomfortable saying they don’t want to hug for fear of repercussions.

You may not know a person’s history. They might have experienced physical or sexual abuse and feel uncomfortable with contact.

You may not be aware of their cultural beliefs. In some cultures, hugging outside of the family is not welcome. In other cases, men hugging women is not permitted.

If you prefer not to hug someone at work, greet them warmly with a smile, offer a handshake, or tell them you have a cold. Telling someone you want to protect their health may not work if you see them regularly. Another option is just to say that you aren’t a hugger.

The person who will receive the hug is the one to decide if a hug is appropriate. If you’re the one who wants to give a hug, pay attention to how the other person reacts. Pay attention to cues, and if you’re not sure, stick with a handshake.

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How to Find the Perfect Mentor

When you’re busy building a business while juggling family and social life, it’s hard to find time for career-related training. One way to improve your business knowledge is by taking a course or program. Another is to read many books. However, one of the most effective ways is to learn from a mentor who has already built a successful business. Finding the perfect mentor is not easy, but there are some tips you can follow to find the right one for you.

Determine your mentor’s teaching style

To learn from someone who has celebrity status (worldwide or local), start with an online search. Follow this person on their social media platforms, watch their videos, or subscribe to their newsletters. If they have free seminars or workshops, sign up for them. Your purpose is to learn more about their teaching style, as well as what they teach. You want to choose a mentor whose style resonates well with you.

If your mentor is not a celebrity with hundreds or thousands of followers, the same idea applies. For example, you might have attended a coworker’s presentation and realized you would like to learn more from them. Or you might have gone for coffee with a friend and realized you want to learn more from their experiences.

Whether your mentor is a well-known celebrity such as Tony Robbins or someone you know personally, ask yourself if your mentor challenges you. For example, if you just became an entrepreneur and your potential mentor started a business six months ago, your mentor may not be able to guide you. However, if your potential mentor has owned a successful business for ten years, you have a greater distance to climb to catch up to that same point.

Take action after you choose a mentor

When you’ve found someone you like as a mentor, ask yourself if your mentor can motivate you to get results.

Your mentor should inspire you to take action when you watch their YouTube video or teach you about a new concept. Their message should excite you so much that you want to learn and change. They should also be approachable. For example, you should feel comfortable having dinner with them without feeling nervous.

Their mentorship should have you thirsting for more knowledge about the same topic or have you madly scribbling notes. You should be excited about applying what they are trying to teach you as soon as possible.

To get the best results from working with a mentor, have some goals in mind. The worst scenario is to be too general about what you want your mentor to teach you. If your mentor posts a lot of learning material online, focus on one topic at a time, not getting your hands on everything they have ever published. If your mentor wants to help you improve your skills, don’t set a general goal, such as, “I want to get better at my career.” Set specific goals and share these with your mentor.

Choose a mentor who chooses you

Getting feedback from your mentor is important. I’ve taken online courses from experts and gurus who I respect as mentors. I understand their lessons, but I’m unsure whether I’m interpreting their learning points correctly.

At a workshop or live webinar, choose a mentor who answers questions and provides feedback to participants. This style helps you to gauge if you understand what they teach.

If you can schedule an hour with your mentor, have your hour planned in advance. Prepare questions to ask your mentor, or list what you’d like to improve on before your meeting. Set clear expectations and outcomes to show your mentor that you respect their time.

For example, if you want to improve your presentation skills, ask your mentor if they can give you some pointers and feedback on the way you speak at a presentation. Be prepared to show them part of your presentation so they can provide you with specific tips and feedback.

After receiving feedback, take some time to reflect on what you’ve learned. Was the feedback valuable? Can you use the feedback to make improvements? Did your mentor seem genuinely invested in you? A mentor who is genuinely invested will encourage you, tell you what progress you’ve made, be honest in their critique, and help you set goals for next steps.

Keep moving forward

Finding the right mentor is like an investment. You want someone who is approachable, excited about what you want to learn, and honest when mentoring you. It will feel uncomfortable and even painful to be told that you aren’t doing something well. However, if you only spend time doing things that you already do well, you will not grow as a person.

Embrace change and getting uncomfortable. You may find yourself looking for a new mentor in the future for various reasons. In my case, I had a business mentor for two years. As I developed my business knowledge, I started to change my goals for my business strategy. I realized I needed a new mentor who could help me improve my new approach to doing business. I found a new mentor, but I keep in touch with my previous one.

In life, the best direction to keep moving in is forward. After you reach one milestone in the road, aim for a new one. Always keep challenging yourself and you will grow as a person.

Key takeaways

Finding the perfect mentor is a search for a two-way relationship. Your mentor should be someone you are inspired to learn from, but also someone who is excited about seeing your business grow.

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8 Tips for Launching a Successful Startup Company

Garages and basements, not tall glass buildings, are are the birthplaces of business legends like Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Apple. Startups may have humble beginnings, but they have the potential to grow into multimillion-dollar corporations with the right combination of people, goals, and financing.

If you’re starting a startup company, you’ll need to consider these eight tips to increase your chances of launching a successful business. First, let’s begin with defining what a startup company is.

What is a startup?

A startup is a company in its beginning stages. It’s founded by entrepreneurs and funded by banks, grants, the company founder, and possibly the entrepreneur’s families and friends.  

Unlike a small business, a startup’s goal is to grow fast because there is a large market for its product. Many startups are tech companies for this reason.

It’s not surprising for startups to begin in someone’s basement or garage, with boxes of products stacked in the home and the CEO’s desk in the garage.

One of the key ingredients that will take a company from this humble beginning to rapid growth is leadership.

Startup Tip 1: Strong Leadership

Having strong leadership and a talented team are two of the most important ingredients in a startup. The CEO and the management team develop the company’s mission and vision and inspire the team to keep going, even in the darkest times. In the beginning, a startup will experience some rough ups and downs.

The leader is responsible for ensuring that roles and responsibilities are assigned to team members, and everyone is held accountable for their tasks. The leader also sets team goals and clarifies what will happen if those goals are not met. For example, will they need new goals if the original deadlines were not realistic?

Having strong leadership is key to a startup’s success. Without a clear vision for the company, a startup could drift like a lost ship blown from one direction to another, achieving little.

Startup Tip 2: Talented Team

A talented team will take the startup to the next level.  What roles will each person have? Each team member should be assigned roles and responsibilities depending on their skills and expertise.

If someone has accounting experience, they can recommend the best software at an affordable price to begin tracking financial transactions, for example. Someone with HR experience can begin formalizing work contracts and policies for benefits and work hours.

The upside of a startup is the vast expanse of unexplored territory. Company rules have not been established, and decisions need to be finalized about software and communications systems. The team can choose how the company is managed.

The downside is that if the team doesn’t make these decisions to organize how the company is run, chaos and frustration can set in quickly, and team members will quit.

When finding people for a startup, choose talented people who can help get the company organized and running efficiently as quickly as possible. It’s their job to spot what needs to be done to help the leaders and the team to reach company goals.

Related: Working for a Startup

Startup Tip 3: Clear Plan

The management team absolutely must clarify the plan for the company.  What are the goals for the first month? How about goals for the second and third months? Without a clear plan, the startup is like a group of people showing up at a vacation spot with no idea what they want to do there.

After time has passed for a milestone, the company needs to assess whether the goal was met or missed. If the team fails to achieve the goal, such as having $1000 in sales for month 1, then the team needs to assess what could have gone wrong. What do they need to do differently? How could they improve?

When the team has a plan and clear goals, it’s easy to tell if they were on track with their goals or if they need to change direction to meet objectives.

Startup Tip 4: Established Culture

Establish company culture from the beginning. The management team leads by example in terms of how they treat others. When a team member works hard, do company leaders acknowledge that person’s contribution to the company?

Do company leaders take the time to get to know each team member personally? Do they know the names of a team member’s spouse, pet cat, or favourite ice cream flavour? Or does the startup staff only hear from management if they fail to complete a task?

When the company leaders set a positive and supportive environment, and not a negative one, then the entire team will also follow the example and support each other.

Photo Credit: Priscilla Du Preez

Startup Tip 5: Funding and Financing

How much runway does the startup have? Before getting into business, the founder will have looked for financing from various sources, including company stakeholders or board members. However, how long will the funding last before the startup can no longer afford to keep the lights on? Some companies may have as little as $25,000 to begin the founder’s dream.

The amount of funding will affect how much the startup has to invest in product development, customer fulfillment, marketing, and paying staff salaries. When the funding runs out, what plan does the startup have in place to keep the business going?

Startup Tip 6: Protecting Intellectual Property

Intellectual property is like a vital piece of the company that you cannot give up. Intellectual property could be what makes the company stand out from the competition and what makes its product one-of-a-kind. Having this information stolen would be like losing an arm or a heart.

One way to protect intellectual property is by asking all staff to sign contracts about the use and distribution of this information.

Startup Tip 7: Learning from Mentors and Brands

It is rare – perhaps non-existent – for a startup to be the only one of its kind in the marketplace. The startup could learn from successful companies in the same niche and award-winning brands in the same industry. How are these established companies finding and keeping customers? What is their strategy?

In addition to learning from successful companies, startup team members could learn from a mentor or two. This person has experience with startups and running companies in that industry and functions as an advisor whenever the startup team has questions about running the business.

Startup Tip 8: Networking and Promotion

Any member of the startup team can attend networking events to form relationships with business owners interested in their product or working with their startup. They can also attend events such as conferences and conventions to find opportunities to tell potential customers about their business.

Other ways to promote the startup include creating informative content about its purpose and products on its website and social media, and building relationships with industry leaders. For example, if the startup sells medical devices, they could reach out to leaders in the medical field to tell them about the startup and create awareness of what they have to offer.

Key Takeaways

Running a successful startup depends on many key factors, starting with strong leaders and a talented team. The first year, especially the first few months, will be difficult, with many decisions to make about even the simplest things, such as where the team should hold meetings.

Proper planning is important and expecting the unexpected is crucial. Success won’t happen overnight, but having a clear plan and goals are the first steps.

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Why You Should Charge More to Keep Customers Happy

What should you do when your competitors charge cheaper rates? Should you lower your rates to stay in the game? Charging less may make sense, but it isn’t the best solution. The simple answer is you should charge more

Here’s why. Think about how much money you save by buying a cheap pen at the dollar store. How would you feel if you lost that pen the next day? Most likely, you’ll get another one without a second thought. 

But say you bought a Titanium, 18K limited edition gold pen for $24,000. (Maybe you won’t ever spend that much on a pen, but let’s pretend for a minute that you do.) You bought it to reward yourself for some hard work.

Every so often, you use it to sign only the most important of documents. You invested a considerable sum into it, so you store it in a secure place, and you always know exactly where it is. You will cherish the pen that costs you more money. 

Let’s apply that line of thinking to your clients. How can your business become as valuable to your clients as that gold pen? There’s more to it than just a higher price point. Here are three quick tips on how to charge more while keeping clients satisfied.

Tip 1: Provide Clients with Time

The first reason you should charge more is people value their time. No matter how much or how little money you have, you cannot buy time. Everyone has the same 24 hours a day, and none of us can get that time back when a day has passed.

Exactly how much do people value time? In one marketing experiment involving a lemonade stand, a sign about spending time got twice as much business as a sign about spending money. Another study involving college students and iPods had similar results: time had more value.

If your business provides a service, think about how you can save your client time. For example, what can you do to anticipate your customer’s needs before they make the request? Are there common questions that you can answer while explaining your services?

A survey by Forrester found that “73% of consumers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do when providing customer service.” When you provide the service that they are looking for, then 93% are likely to return to buy from you again.

That same survey also found that “consumers are willing to spend 17% more on a company that has outstanding customer service.” People will pay more for first-rate treatment.

As a consumer, I’ve returned to a company even if they are more expensive because I know they will get things right the first time. Less time to get something done means less stress and money well spent.

Tip 2: Give Them Value for the Price

Now you know that customers are willing to pay more to save time and get decent service. But what if you just started your business and you’re facing tough competition? Would you charge less to stay competitive?

Times are uncertain these days with unprecedented job losses and talk of a possible recession. However, going cheap won’t help your business. 

An example is a free workshop. You’ve probably seen plenty of them offered on Facebook, meetups, and other sites. A free education can improve your skills or knowledge. However, if you have a scheduling conflict, dropping the workshop is an easy decision. You paid nothing, so you lose nothing by not attending.

It’s a different situation if you paid for the workshop. Let’s say you invested $1000 for the workshop in advance. You believed it would be a gamechanger for your life. You will likely make every effort to attend, even if you had a stressful day or lack sleep.  

It’s about the value. If you bring a quality experience to your new business, or you’re selling a quality product, charge what you’re worth.

Always make this pen analogy. You might think that the Graf von Faber-Castel Pen for $2 thousand is kind of pricey. But, consider this: the Fulgor Nocturnus by Tibaldi has a price tag of $8 million.

For one pen.

At a higher price point, you customer will go out of their way to ensure that they value your product or service. They will take care of that $2 thousand or $4 thousand pen. They will immediately apply what they learn from your $1000 workshop. You get the idea.

Tip 3: Raise Your Value

You might have done this before: stood in front of two products at the store, comparing them, and wondering what exactly you are getting for that price difference. What it comes down to is perceived value.

An example is how Shreddies marketed their square-shaped cereal. They turned the product to the side to look like a diamond instead of a square and called it “Diamond Shreddies.” Some people then thought the product had better taste.

Wine tasting is another example of expecting more value with a higher price tag. Some people wonder if expert wine tasters can actually tell the difference between cheap wine and expensive wine.

In a test where an average bottle of wine was poured into two bottles, one with a superior label and another with an ordinary label, “Forty experts said the wine with the fancy label was worth drinking, while only 12 said the cheap wine was.”

Even expert wine tasters agree: if you pay more, you think you are getting more value. As a business owner with great value to offer in your service or product, don’t be afraid to charge more.

Summary

What do your customers consider as a good product or service? It’s about perception. Understand what they are looking for and what they need. Then provide them with great value at a higher price point. Offer them that gold pen.

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TikTok Personal Finance Influencers that Entrepreneurs Should Know

How much financial knowledge could you learn from a 15 to 60 second TikTok video? You might think that TikTok is an unusual source of financial advice, but it has been growing in popularity recently. This trend does prompt a question: Does it matter where you get your financial education?

Statistics about financial literacy are grim. According to a Global Finance Literacy Excellence Center survey, “Americans have a financial literacy problem: 63% of Americans are financially illiterate.”

Perhaps one approach to learning more about investing, credit, and banking is to start with snapshots of financial advice by watching some videos. After that, follow up with more detailed research from other sources. Here are some finance influencers on TikTok who share their insights on financial literacy.

Personal Finance Influencer: Humphrey Yang

Humphrey Yang (@humphreytalks), 2.1M followers
Background: Previously worked as a financial advisor

What he talks about: Shares valuable insights about investing, budgeting, business, and entrepreneurship. His topics include explaining how Bitcoin works, concepts of budgeting (Should you buy fresh or canned tuna?), and whether you should invest in buying a Tesla.

Advice for entrepreneurs: If you’re thinking of starting a franchise, he has advice for you about the cost and what to consider before opening one. He has also investigated the cost of creating a product such as a Hydroflask, in case you were interested in the profit margin of selling products.

Financial Psychologist Influencer: Dr. Brad Klontz

Dr. Brad Klontz (@Drbradklontz), 309.5K followers
Background: Financial psychologist and author

What he talks about: He educates young people about the reality of acquiring wealth and smashes some common misconceptions. He addresses concepts such as wealth makes people bad, fake it ‘til you have the wealth you claim to have, and money equals happiness. For those misled by unrealistic wealth goals, Klontz shows that flashy lifestyles may not be what they appear to be.  

Advice for entrepreneurs: His videos talk about automating saving and investing – a goal of entrepreneurs. If your goal is to join the millionaire club, you should know that “rich” is short-term, but “wealthy” is sustainable long-term over generations.

Personal Financial Influencer: Alexa Carlin

Alexa Carlin (@alexarosecarlin), 145K followers
Background: Entrepreneur at the age of 17

What she talks about: Carlin’s goal is to improve people’s lives with her advice on achieving financial freedom through investments or ventures. She is especially interested in helping women become financially independent. Watch her videos for advice on topics such as motivation, becoming more confident, staying focused on your goals, and writing a compelling LinkedIn bio.

Advice for entrepreneurs: She teaches us how to establish a brand by writing a book. Many influencers, coaches, and businesspeople have written a book because it establishes credibility, is a PR opportunity, and positions them as a go-to expert.

Personal Finance Influencer: Keyla Katz

Keyla Katz (@ikeyli), 353K followers
Background: Experience with family budgeting, establishing credit, and generating income

What she talks about: She wants to help others by sharing her own hard-earned lessons with finance. Her family had lived paycheque to paycheque, and she had destroyed her credit at one point. Now she teaches others about money management, budgeting, watching your bank account for overspending, and rebuilding credit.

Advice for entrepreneurs: Katz’s videos teach you about generating extra cash through side hustles such as working for Uber Eats, taking on projects through Fiverr, and making money from YouTube videos.

Related: TikTok Fitness Influencers Entrepreneurs Should Know

Personal Finance Influencer: Zaid Admani

Zaid Admani (@admani_explains), 236K followers
Background: Day trader at 18 years of age, self education about finance

What he talks about: You won’t be overwhelmed by industry jargon when you watch Admani’s videos. His interest in finance is self-taught, so he understands how his audience likes concepts explained. He covers investing in Bitcoin, Ethereum, and crypto, the federal reserve, and the financial goals of companies such as Amazon and Apple.

Advice for entrepreneurs:  Entrepreneurs interested in learning about scaling their business will want to see his videos about Netflix and Disney’s increase in subscriber numbers to beat the competition in the streaming industry. Similarly, if you’re interested in business, you’ll want to watch Uber’s acquisition of Drizly as a step to dominate the delivery industry.

Personal Finance Influencer: Antonette Aquino

Antonette Aquino (@antonetteaquino_), 284.1K followers
Background:  Family breadwinner at 17, training to become financial advisor

What she talks about: Her videos cover setting financial goals (Is it realistic to make $1 million in 5 years?), questions to ask yourself before buying stock, and cashflow versus investing. She wants millennials and Gen Z to learn about finance, financial planning, and investing from an early age. That advice includes finding the right mentor.

Advice for entrepreneurs: For those seeking success in the business world, she has great tips to share. First, to be valued in business, you need to be very skilled at what you do or have social media leverage. Second, if you want to create a positive company culture, you first need to experience the employee perspective before becoming an employer.

Financial Literacy Influencer: Vivian Tu

Vivian Tu (@yourrichbff), 435K followers
Background: Nicknamed Your Rich BFF, worked at Wall Street and traded stocks

What she talks about: Her videos answer questions about personal finance: for example, how to raise your credit score, negotiating your salary at a new job, the importance of time versus money when investing long-term, and saving for retirement. And of course, she also offers tips on trading and how to find the right mentor.

Advice for entrepreneurs: Watch for her insight about side hustles such as reselling high-priced sneakers and joining MLMs (multilevel marketing). Valuable skills for entrepreneurs that she covers are negotiation (how to negotiate your rent and your medical bills) and paying yourself first (so your bills are covered and you have money for savings).

Key Takeaway

TikTok has more to offer than amusing cat videos and dance routines: you can learn about personal finance and improve your financial literacy. A number of TikTok influencers have posted videos with valuable financial advice that you should check out, and each video only takes less than 60 seconds of your time!

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