Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Video Marketing Advantage

Content marketers are claiming 2016 to be the year of the video. As marketing strategies continue to embrace the hot new trends in the online community, video marketing has risen above the fray in terms of reach and impact on target markets.  Videos can be used in a multitude of ways – from comedy to educational, to reach customers at critical points along the buying life cycle and build ongoing relationships with users. In addition to this, there are many other reasons why video marketing can be beneficial to your business.

The Age of Information Overload

These days, most people who frequent the internet are bombarded with information from social media, and mixed in with it is advertisers trying to cut through the noise to get their products and
services noticed. With the rise of 140 character tweets and 10 second Snap Chats, it’s hard to get users to pay attention to anything for any length of time. Videos are way to get your information out there in short bursts so that users get relevant information without too much effort on their part. It’s easier for brains to consume and process visual content rather than taking in a wall of text, so making a video visually appealing with audio enhancements will take your message to the next level. Your videos can range from customer testimonials and product demonstrations, to funny and creative ads that showcase your business.

Social Media Reach

Most internet users have at least one social media account that they check regularly, so social media is the best place to be for advertisers online.  While YouTube is the most well-known website for video watchers, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have enhanced the way videos are watched on their apps and websites to keep up with the video trend by enabling videos to be played directly in news feeds so users can easily watch without being directed away from the platform.

Posting videos on social media pages can reach thousands, and potentially millions, of people and it costs nothing to do so. If you’re a small business with only a small social media following, paid social media campaigns can broaden your reach very inexpensively. You’ll get more people watching your videos, which can translate into more followers and, potentially, more business.

The Viral Potential

We’ve all seen the work of viral videos – they appear seemingly out of the blue on your Facebook timeline and subsequently get continuously shared across all social media platforms. There’s no magic potion in making a video go viral, most times it’s just a mix of creativity, engaging content, and luck. But the potential is there for anyone to make a video that catches on and becomes a trending topic and, even if it only lasts for a day, a viral video can do wonders for your business. Users are more likely to share a video over any other content on social media, so it’s a great tool to get your business noticed.

While you may have to invest some time and money into video production, the result are videos that highlight your business and can be shared across social media, and have a permanent place on YouTube and your website as a way for users to get quick insight into what makes your business special. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Minding Your Business with a Business Plan

“By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be." Mark Victor Hansen could not have spoken truer words. The idea of writing down thoughts, goals, and dreams, is a transcendental one. In fact this very practice has materialized to a standard requirement in the world of business, formally known as a business plan. It is the vital blueprint for any startup and entrepreneurs are recognizing just how drastic business can change positively, with written foundations. So why are business plans so important?


If you were traveling somewhere you’ve never been before, would you go without a map? Probably not, so why would you embark on a business venture, where the risk is far greater, without having a blueprint? Your business plan functions as a map—your big picture. Before you start any business your only tool is your idea. As you begin to think about it more and more, ideas develop and a plan emerges. You start to consider factors like your target audience, market research, funding, staff/ employees, business registration, and the list goes on, but they still just classify as ideas in your head.

Documenting this information is what keeps your vision alive. It is your way of stepping outside of yourself to allow your vision to materialize. Further, organizing your ideas by formulating them in a business plan helps you build effectively and remove information that may be detrimental to your business as a whole. This inherent editing and buffering allows you to keep your vision in mind; the more you work on the plan, the realer your entrepreneurship becomes. Simply put, creating your business plan takes you from a dreamer to a doer.


Your ability to transition from the phase of a dreamer to a doer often determines how serious you are about your startup. Creating a business plan requires work and research and this investigative nature of the process keeps you accountable in more ways than one. Firstly, your business plan makes you accountable for your own actions. When you make a plan and write it down you are more likely to follow through on that plan than if you had simply stored it away in your mind. Your business plan is your personal correctional officer, ensuring that you are working towards the fulfillment of your startup. 

Secondly, a business plan keeps you accountable to your potential investors, sponsors, and banks (when you apply for a business loan).  At some point you will realize that your startup is less about you and more about what service you are capable of bringing to the table. Investors and those alike, want to ensure that you are worth the investment: a) is there a market for your idea b) is it lucrative, and c) how big is the return on investment. Additionally, they want to be able to trust you and your abilities. In most cases, the primary source of endorsement is a well-orchestrated and thought-out business plan.

To Answer the Question: Should you really be starting a business?

A common mistake entrepreneurs make is underestimating how much work actually goes into starting and running a business. A business plan is one of the primary tools to weed out the weak from the strong, the able from the disabled, and the determined from the desolate. As mentioned above, your business plan is where the evolution of your idea takes place. As you comb through each category of the plan and consider your place in the entrepreneurial world, things can become overwhelming. It is at this point that you must reason with yourself. Consider whether this is a journey you should embark on now or, alternatively, if you would benefit by waiting a while. 

You might also reflect on whether you should partner with someone or work individually. How much time would you have to invest daily, especially if you’re pursuing a startup while working a full time job? At the very least, your business plan is your platform for evaluation; don’t take it lightly.

We’ve shared some of the most fundamental reasons for using a business plan for your startup and we encourage you to consider them before your next venture.  If you’ve been working on a business plan tell us why it’s an important starting point for you!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Mentorship: The Secret Weapon to Becoming a Successful Entrepreneur

 At the forefront of every entrepreneurial venture are two certainties: the conception of an idea and the desire for seamless execution. Everything else is a mere combination of fear, inexperience, ignorance, and zeal.  Although this disposition can be unforgiving, it is a part of the courageous discourse of entrepreneurship that every entrepreneur encounters and often overcomes. For example, entrepreneurship is theoretically equivalent to preparing for war; you know you want to fight, the foreseeable outcome is winning, but executing that victory is jumbled in your lack of experience as a fighter, the fear that it may kill you, and jumping head first into a situation with inadequate preparation. Fortunately, proactive and preventative resources exist to minimize the risk of failure when taking on the battle of business. More specifically, mentorship is a key weapon capable of optimizing success in the realm of entrepreneurship.  

Mentorship, although commonly undermined and underestimated, places you in a position of observation (and in some instances, participation), allowing you to become more familiar with the craft or career of your choosing. Consider this: having a single conversation with an individual who has soldiered through the trenches of entrepreneurship can spark myriad ideas and transform the way you approach your own business. Imagine then, what magnitude a series of conversations throughout your journey can yield when you answer the call into the world of start-ups. In fact, don’t just imagine; having a mentor should be attached to any business idea that you intend to pursue, so much so, that the idea should be impossible to fulfill without one. 

The benefit of being a protégé to a professional who can enlighten you far outweighs the cost of seeking the right mentor (it can be an intimidating and daunting process finding the right person who is willing to work with you as much as you are willing to work with them). In a 2003 study conducted by Jackson et al., it was reported that mentoring relationships are key to developing productive careers and yield personal satisfaction for both the mentor and the protégé. The ability to have someone who can critique your ideas, give you constructive criticism, and encourage you along the way can eliminate potential setbacks that derive from error. This is not to say that you won’t make mistakes, because you will. However, there is a safety net the works both proactively and retroactively to activate damage control. “Mentors provide a safe, secure culture in which protégés can develop ideas/innovations, ensuring that they receive the recognition their efforts deserve”.

Once you’ve come to terms with the necessity of a mentor/mentee relationship for any startup or entrepreneurial endeavor, “the search” must commence. The search is simply finding someone who is adequate enough to lead you and humble enough to be challenged. Equally important is your connection—how well your personality gels—with the professional. Research suggests that mentor relationships are best formed in unprofessional environments.  Perhaps find common interests and build on those first. Finally, seek someone that can contribute effectively to the circle of inspiration; you inspire him and he inspires you. Mentors gravitate towards rising stars, so show why you deserve to be among and even transcend them.

Entrepreneurship will never be easy, but if you’re prepared you can handle whatever it throws in your direction. Look at it this way: You would never show up to war without your weapon and expect a victory, let alone an easy one, so don’t show up for business without the right tools expecting success to fall in your lap.