5 ways to convert digital customers to a sale this Black Friday (and every day)

black friday sales

black friday salesWith many brick-and-mortar stores closed this Black Friday, businesses are gearing up for a digital shopping weekend unlike any in previous years. 

Black Friday holds additional pressure—and opportunity—this year after the challenges many small businesses have experienced due to the pandemic. Traffic to the top 100 shopping sites increased by 137 percent on 2019 Black Friday and companies will be looking to capitalise on this surge in traffic and convert customers to make a sale.

To help firms make the most of Black Friday this year, Andy Bojko, director at Hidepark Leather, shares five tips for how businesses can convert customers to a sale for the all-important Black Friday on Friday 27 November. 

1. Identify your unique selling point—and then amplify it

Your business must have a unique selling point to set your brand apart from competitors and retailing giants like Amazon. For smaller firms, Black Friday is a fantastic opportunity to remind your customers that you have a unique ability to directly serve the local community and are more in tune with their needs and wants.

As a smaller business, you have the ability to meet the local needs of customers, a factor that helps your business to stand out. With the pandemic putting many businesses at risk, consumers are looking to help out local firms so you should ensure that your business is on the radar of the local community.

Providing vouchers or discounts to these customers can be a great way to ensure you are instilling loyalty and can help convert this audience to make a sale.

If you’re short on time before the big day, do this today: Assess your landing page to make certain it features language about your local connection and your unique selling point. 

2. Analyse historic data to make decisions

Analyse analytics data from previous years. Doing so will provide insight into which of your product pages are particularly popular amongst customers.

This data can be used to feed your stock forecasting but also contribute to planning your Black Friday marketing campaigns. Understanding which products your customers were most interested in during previous years will allow you to focus resources into these areas and maximise sales for these categories.

3. Target your marketing efforts to suit your target audience

Many businesses fail to prepare in advance for Black Friday and will simply send out an email to their customer base the day before the event. 

Although Black Friday itself is the main event, activity and preparation for this day must begin for businesses in advance. Inboxes will become crowded in the days leading up to the event, so businesses need to successfully capture and maintain the attention of customers with valuable information in order to stand out from the sea of emails they are receiving.

Using email marketing is a great way to build anticipation with customers, offering sneak-peaks, VIP discounts, limited-time offers—all designed to drum up interest and encourage consumers to seek out your emails.

You must take the time to personalise your content to the customer base you are targeting rather than sending a generic email to every customer. Using browsing and purchasing history information can be an effective way to target customers in time for Black Friday, providing insight into what these customers are particularly interested in from your brand.

If you’re short on time before the big day, do this today: Review any email marketing scheduled to deliver in the next few days. Does it market your unique, local assets? Is it laser focused to your ideal consumer?

4. Make your customers journey as easy as possible

If customers find your website difficult to use, they will quickly move to another site. The user’s journey should be at the core of your website design. When businesses prioritise the user journey in their content and design, their website automatically becomes more user-friendly. To ensure your business is in the best position to secure sales on Black Friday—and every day—your website must provide an easy user experience for consumers in order to persuade them to convert to a sale.

Having strong calls to action on your site can also ensure users are not lost along their journey and that they can check out efficiently. Your website should also have clear contact details or a contact form so that customers can easily get in touch with any queries.

If you’re short on time before the big day, do this today: Sit down with a friend who is not familiar with your site. Walk through your site’s buying process. Are there any glitches or obstacles in the process? 

5. Focus on supporting trust payment methods

Consumers need to feel safe with their online security when shopping on your website, especially if your business is new to them. To ensure customers feel comfortable when using your site, make certain you have the latest secure financial technology to help reassure customers that their payment details will be safe.

Also consider adding a section to the site, perhaps in the header or footer which shows the payment options available to consumers. This can act as a trust signal and help users to feel comfortable proceeding to the checkout to convert to that all-important sale.

If you’re short on time before the big day, do this today: If you don’t yet have it, add a footer that lists payment options and highlights your security tech.

For more insights and inspiration from today’s leading entrepreneurs, check out EO on Inc. and more articles from the EO blog

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from THE BLOG https://blog.eonetwork.org/2020/11/5-ways-to-convert-digital-customers-to-a-sale-this-black-friday-and-every-day/

Will vs trust: Which option is right for you?

Contributed by Noelle Fauver, community outreach manager for Trust & Will. This post originally appeared on the Trust & Will website and has been modified here with permission.

You’ve heard the terms “will” and “trust” from an estate planning perspective, but do you understand the difference between each? And, do you know which plan will best protect your family and assets?

Let’s break down what you need to know about wills and trusts in estate planning.

Will vs. Trust

While wills and trusts have overlap, there are also critical differences between the two. Ultimately, both methods specify who will receive your assets. They just do it in different ways, each with advantages and disadvantages. One big difference is in how and when they take effect. Wills don’t go into effect until you pass away, whereas a trust is effective immediately upon signing and funding it.

It may be easier to think of a will as a “simple” document. Wills allow you to:
• Name guardians for kids and pets
• Designate where your assets go
• Specify final arrangements

While it is an easier process, the simplicity of a will comes with drawbacks.

For example, wills offer somewhat limited control over the distribution of assets. They also most likely have to go through some sort of probate process after you pass away.

A trust is a bit more complicated, but can provide great benefits. Trusts:
• Offer greater control over when and how your assets are distributed
• Apply to any assets you hold inside the trust
• Come in many different forms and types

Keep in mind that after you create a trust, you must fund it by transferring assets to it, making the trust the owner. This does make trusts a little more complex to set up, but trusts have one major benefit over Wills: They’re often used to minimize or avoid probate entirely, which can be a huge plus for some people and may justify the additional complexity of setting up a trust.

Can You Have Both a Will and a Living Trust?

Short answer: Yes, because they do two different things. Trusts provide for the management and distribution of your assets during lifetime and after death. A will, on the other hand, enables you to do things like name guardians for your children, appoint an executor for your estate, and declare your final wishes. So what’s actually more crucial to understand is the type of will to have with a living trust to create a comprehensive estate plan.

Let’s say you have both a last will and a living trust. This is not necessarily recommended and here’s why: The assets that are included only in your last will likely have to go through an extensive probate process. Also, last wills are public documents. Conversely, assets included in a trust are typically protected from probate court.

Enter: The Pour Over Will

Most revocable living trusts include what’s called a “pour over will,” which is a type of will designed to work in conjunction with your trust. With a pour over will, anything a person owns outside of their trust—as well as anything that is subject to their last will—will be paid to their trust at the time of their death.

Pour over wills essentially act as a backup plan to ensure all of your assets go under your trust.

Note that a living will is also different from a last will and a pour over will (yes, the names can get confusing). A living will refers to a set of documents related to an individual’s medical decisions, including:

• Medical Power of Attorney
• Advanced Health Care Directive
• HIPAA Authorization Form

Do Wills Require Probate?

Just because you take the time to create a will, it doesn’t mean your estate will avoid probate. Probate is the process your estate goes through after you pass away if you haven’t done proper or comprehensive estate planning. It is a court-supervised proceeding, and can be costly and take a long time.

However, there are ways to simplify, or even eliminate, the probate process. One highly effective way is by creating a trust. Anything you put inside your trust can be passed down, avoiding probate. A big benefit to a trust is that distribution of assets remains private, whereas distributing assets through a will and probate are public.

Wills After Death

Your last will and testament takes effect once you pass. At that time, someone must notify the court to begin the probate process. Settling your estate and distributing property and assets can be a lengthy, costly process.

Another significant consideration is that since your will only takes effect after you pass away, if you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions, you have no recourse or plan as directed by your will. On its own, a will is essentially useless while you’re alive. This means a will, on its own, is not an effective end-of-life planning tool.

Trusts Impact Life and Death

Because a trust instantly takes effect as soon as you sign it, it can simplify the process for those around you. Unlike a will, your trust not only plans for after you die—it’s a document intended to have an impact while you’re still alive. A trust can set provisions for things like what you want to have happen if you become mentally or physically incapacitated. Most importantly, a trust makes your wishes known, both during your lifetime and when it ends, which can eliminate a great deal of stress both for you and your family.

Planning for the future is important on so many levels. There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle, and too often people think “I’ll get to it later.” That’s risky. If you become unable to make decisions, and you haven’t put a plan into place, the burden and stress will fall on your loved ones. Creating an estate plan is a true gift to yourself, your family and friends.

The peace you’ll gain from setting up your future is worth it. Get started today, worry less tomorrow. 

For more insights and inspiration from today’s leading entrepreneurs, check out EO on Inc. and more articles from the EO blog

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from THE BLOG https://blog.eonetwork.org/2020/11/will-vs-trust-which-option-is-right-for-you/

Celebrating Wonder women

womens entrepreneur day

womens entrepreneur dayAt EO, we celebrate entrepreneurs every day. But with Women’s Entrepreneurship Day taking place this week, we’re directing our applause to all the entrepreneurs who are women! What better way to recognize these hard-working innovators than by showcasing female founders who have been featured on EO’s Wonder podcast?

Host and EO member Kalika Yap launched the podcast as a way to share stories that empower women entrepreneurs to change the world. At the very core of Kalika’s work is the belief that empowered women empower women.

Her guests include the women driving innovation, evolution and revolution in every industry imaginable—including IT, fitness, marketing, nutrition, finance and fashion.

Check out our top five Wonder women, and get ready to be empowered!

1. Lauren Messiah: This Los Angeles­–based EO member has built a robust business at the intersection of personal development and personal style. Lauren believes the way you dress is more than the clothes you’re wearing. Discover—and own—your style and you’ll realize an unparalleled level of self-confidence and empowerment. In her interview on Wonder, she talks about racism in all of its forms, her experience as a black female founder and how she’s using her position to make a difference. Listen here.

2. Heidi Zak: Meet the woman who turned the bra industry upside down. Heidi Zak launched ThirdLove with Ra’el Cohen in 2013 with the (revolutionary) core belief: Every woman deserves to be comfortable and confident. Little did she know that inventing half cup sizes would lead to a whole, empowering movement. Heidi talks brand, innovation, fundraising, financing and the myth of balance. Listen here.

3. Debbie Goodman-Bhyat: How do you find yourself studying law while pursuing a career in dance at one moment and then becoming a serial entrepreneur focused on talent acquisition and executive coaching the next? You say yes, says Debbie Goodman-Bhyat. This EO member shares her unique journey and emphasizes the power of taking risks in her conversation with Kalika. Listen here.

4. Kathy David: From waitress to bank manager to CEO of her own IT security company—Kathy’s journey is a lesson in perseverance. In her conversation with Kalika, she describes making the leap from working at a bank to co-founding an IT solutions business. Listen here.

5. Heidi Golledge: As a child, Heid Golledge was determined to make money to help her family. She decided that learning computer coding and practicing her sales abilities were two steps toward that. Those skills serve her well to this day in her role as founder and CEO at Jobot—a career platform that connects AI and experienced recruiters to fill jobs. What can you learn about hiring, raising capita and employee engagement from this award-winning entrepreneur? Listen here.

For more insights and inspiration from today’s leading entrepreneurs, check out EO on Inc. and more articles from the EO blog

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from THE BLOG https://blog.eonetwork.org/2020/11/celebrating-wonder-women/

5 ways to keep your team connected with split working

remote work split work
remote work split work

Contributed by Sam Hill, head of people and culture at BizSpace

With British employees back to working from home during the second lockdown in 2020, businesses once again face the challenge of employees being split across locations.

Although technology has permitted teams to stay connected over the past few months, this lockdown presents a second obstacle, as employees battle with the anxiety and worry which this lockdown brings. Teams typically speak less frequently when working remotely, so small businesses must ensure that their employees do not feel isolated and that they stay connected whilst working remotely in this period.

Even for small businesses with just a few members of staff, employees need to feel valued and connected to other members of their team. How do you help your staff avoid isolation while split working? 

1. Take advantage of technology

By now, many employees feel exhausted by video calls. Even so, it is imperative that businesses continue to use technology to connect their teams.

Within small businesses, it’s easy to dismiss daily or weekly video calls if there is not much of an update to provide to the team. However, doing so can add to the feeling of isolation for remote working employees.

Continue to host daily or weekly team meetings via video conferencing, where employees can catch up and share what they are working on. This will ensure all employees continue to build connections and celebrate their achievements.

2. Encourage team work wherever possible

It’s easy for employees working in separate locations to feel detached and lonely. To resolve this, encourage teamwork wherever possible. Encourage the group to solve issues together and meet targets in a more efficient and effective manner.

Employees working remotely often struggle to speak up when they face challenges since they cannot turn to the desk next to them for quick advice.  Teamwork combats this issue, with employees connecting to their peers and opening the door to new lines of communication.

3. Reinforce your company culture

As a leader, make sure you are proactive in nurturing and reinforcing the company culture, since healthy company cultures have a direct impact on the performance of teams.

Take the time to reinforce the organizations’ vision and values to employees. This approach not only helps your team feel connected to the larger picture, but it can reenforce loyalty and calm. Keep lines of communciatoin open relating to shifts in goals.

Uncertainty is detrimental to the morale of a team, so any communication should be as clear and certain as possible.

4. Introduce lunch and learns

Regardless of the size of a business, lunch and learn sessions are a great way to ensure employees are actively engaging with each other and the company. These talks are typically informal. They offer employees opportunities to deliver talks on a variety of topics, ask questions and build community.

For employees working remotely, this is a perfect way to ensure they are still able to engage in training, with video and audio conferencing opening up the ability for remote workers to tune in wherever they are.

5. Don’t dismiss virtual social events

Although the use of Zoom quizzes and calls quickly became tiresome for many employees during the national lockdown, the use of virtual social events should not be dismissed.

For employees working remotely, these social events are a direct replacement for the usual social events and informal drinks after work which they would have otherwise attended.

Social events are an easy way to create natural conversation opportunities and bring employees together on a far more personal level. They also contribute to the success of the business by boosting morale, which can increase productivity and satisfaction in teams.

This, in turn, can boost the company culture as employees feel a higher sense of loyalty to the organisation, even from their remote locations.

Contributed by Samantha Hill, head of people and culture at BizSpace.

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from THE BLOG https://blog.eonetwork.org/2020/11/5-ways-to-keep-your-team-connected-with-split-working/

Why healthy conflict is important to your business

healthy conflict
healthy conflict

By Julia Langkraehr, a member of EO London and founder of Bold Clarity.
This post first appeared on Bold Clarity’s blog and has been reposted here with permission.

Do you remember the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes, by Hans Christian Andersen? When all his courtiers are too afraid to tell him that he’s naked for fear of being labelled stupid?

As a business leader, do you ever feel that sometimes your team might be trying to tell you something but can’t?

This is the result of a culture where a team is afraid to be open and honest. It’s a culture that makes them fearful of telling their colleagues and leaders (like you) the truth. Even if the truth is hurting your business.A lack of openness and honesty gets to the heart of dysfunction in companies—and one of the root causes is conflict avoidance.

What is healthy conflict?

Healthy conflict is a good thing when orchestrated in the right way and when there is no negative consequence to sharing an opinion or a view.
However, founders who have taken all the risk and who own all the responsibility can be intimidating figures, particularly if something goes wrong. Founders crave certainty (predicting the future) and by the nature of the beast, need to feel like there is a semblance of order and control.
Think about the characteristics of founders and entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs often want to run fast—faster than those who surround them. The risk is that, when you move so quickly, you may not get alignment from your partners, your senior leadership team and the rest of the organization.

I have seen and experienced diversity of culture on my journey to implement a business operating system in over 50 businesses. I have seen companies where a culture of personality clashes or toxic politics has developed—and even flourished.

That’s not “healthy conflict.” As part of the process of implementing a business operating system such as the Entrepreneurial Operating System, you’ll adopt tools and techniques to identify, discuss and resolve issues in an open and honest environment.

Some companies find that they have a “terrorist” or ‘’maverick’’ character in their midst, who performs well but doesn’t match the company values, thus negatively impacting on the morale and the culture of the company. As leaders, we find ourselves trying to justify whether their performance compensates for the cultural impact.

This person is typically doing more damage than good. In our operating system, it’s what we call the “wrong person in the right seat.”

Leaders can’t blame their staff if there’s an unhealthy culture. In America, there is a saying that “a fish stinks from the head down.”

How open and honest works

What businesses need to do is develop a culture where there is team trust, and people are able to be open and honest. That begins by the example we set as leaders, owners and entrepreneurs.

Teams that have built trust are able to enjoy healthy discussions, where they challenge assumptions, engage in productive debates, are free to share what they think and say what needs to be said when it needs to be said.
If teams are able to do this, they are far more likely to develop the best solutions to the issues preventing progress, and move forward aligned and unified.

Walk the walk

While it’s very easy to say that you want to encourage an open and honest culture, it’s not so easy to do.

Open and honest is more than simply an act or behavior; it’s a tool which teams can use.

“Open” is ensuring you are open to new ideas, open to new approaches and open to changes in the status quo. Examples include being open to automation or open to outsourcing.

“Honest” is being prepared to say what’s in your head, sharing your perspective, your fears, your concerns, your hesitancy, and also sharing your dream. It’s both positive and negative: When people don’t know what team members are thinking, they imagine what they’re thinking instead. That can lead to miscommunications and misalignment.

When implementing EOS, we work first to get the leadership team using the concept of open and honest. By doing so, leadership sets the culture, which filters down to the rest of the organization.

When you foster an open and honest environment, and you get a team really listening to each other and understanding each other’s perspectives, you’ll see powerful results.

EO london Julia LangkraehrJulia Langkraehr, founder of Bold Clarity, became the first Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS) Implementer in the UK in 2014 and has helped over 50 businesses implement the tools with great results.

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from THE BLOG https://blog.eonetwork.org/2020/11/why-healthy-conflict-is-important-to-your-business/

Real leaders embrace their weakness

leadership weakness

leadership weaknessContributed by J. Douglas (Doug) Holladay, the founder and CEO of PathNorth, a former White House advisor, and a professor at Georgetown University. Doug is also the author of Rethinking Success: Eight Essential Practices for Finding Meaning in Work and Life.

Years ago, my close friend Steve Case, cofounder of AOL, and I flew down to Asheville, North Carolina, for a private visit with Billy Graham. Graham’s health had been failing, and Steve wanted to spend as much time with this remarkable figure and friend as possible. Graham’s influence in the world was beyond measure. He had spoken to more people
than anyone in history!

When we arrive, we found Graham fragile, relying on a walker. Although he was obviously quite frail, I was impressed by his endurance and lucidity. We spoke for hours. He graciously allowed me to ask question after question, ranging from Graham’s relationship with JFK and the Mormon hotel magnate Willard Marriott to his view of Muslims and their spiritual destiny.

Graham’s humility and lack of rigidity and judgment were striking. His thinking had clearly evolved. He patiently and with utter candor answered all inquiries until a certain moment abruptly altered the rhythm of our exchange. He took a bead on me with those steel-blue penetrating eyes.

“Doug, you have asked me questions all day. Could I ask you one? I need your advice.” I gulped and nodded, panic gripping me.

“As you can see, I am much diminished. I use a walker and am extremely weary and spent. I am in my 80s but am getting calls from news networks around the world to be interviewed about my life and the state of the world.” Then came the showstopper: “Do you think that the public should see me in my weakened state, or should they remember me as the firebrand of old?”

I paused and pondered what I could possibly offer this giant figure. But then I had a thought. “If Pope John Paul II has taught us anything, it has been the power of his genuine humanity in the face of decline. Despite a serious stroke that left him partially paralyzed, the pope travels and shows that his weakness and infirmity are not a limitation, but are inevitable as we age and decline.”

“Weakness need not be feared and despised, even in a culture that prizes and elevates youth and beauty.”

“Weakness need not be feared and despised, even in a culture that prizes and elevates youth and beauty.” I urged Graham to allow the world to experience him in decline. This too would be inspirational, perhaps even more so than his earlier labors.

Graham was humble, asking for guidance mainly because he so desperately desired to finish well and to please the right audience.

Most of us want to present a story to others that highlights only the achievements and wins. Yet far more interesting and valuable are those failures and low points where we started paying attention to what matters.

Everyone can identify with brokenness and setback; after all, it is reality, if you live long enough.

Dale Jones was asked to take the helm of a global executive-search firm based in Philadelphia. Dale shared with me this piece of advice he was given at the start of his tenure: “When you are interviewing CEO candidates for new job opportunities, ask them about the ‘failed rungs’ on their ladder. If they can’t tell you some, run for the hills.”

Real leaders don’t run from weakness; they embrace and incorporate it into their authentic leadership style.

Everyone, if they are honest, has experienced setback and limitations. Real leaders don’t run from weakness; they embrace and incorporate it into their authentic leadership style.

No doubt exposing our limitations and failures is risky. We are taught from day one to project strength, to be unflappable. So much that occurs in our lives shapes our stories in unexpected ways and can easily derail us through discouragement and setback. Yet the questing for purpose is all about becoming whole, embracing all facets of who we are.

Author Richard Rohr understands the difference between circumstances and our real lives: “Most people confuse their life situation with their actual life, which is an underlying flow beneath the everyday events.”

It’s important to consider who you are, the real story that drives you, not the fake one you learn to project. You aren’t simply the sum of your achievements and failures. You aren’t defined by the status associated with powerful individuals you just met, the job you just lost, or the raise you just received. You are a complex being who has been influenced by people and circumstances that existed long before you did and those that will exist long after you pass.

One way to develop a deeper understanding of your story is to become your own audience. Remove yourself from your story and tell it. Are you inspired by the person at the helm in that narrative? Do you feel that this person is engaging with others authentically? Is this person motivated by personal beliefs or others’ definitions of success? Is this person desperate to appear strong, even when feeling powerless? Do you admire him or her?

It is both illuminating and chilling to understand this map in its entirety. Yet once you fully accept your truth— truly embrace it—you will then have choices. You can live the story of your peers and family or you can value your own story and find your own path. For in the end, to be healthy and the best version of yourself, there must be separation. You and I must differentiate ourselves from our past, letting go of the patterns that continually sabotage our lives in the present. Listen to the audience that truly matters: the audience of one.

We all have an audience, perhaps multiple. And we all have a story. It is vital to reflect upon our initial questions if we are to move forward living the story true to ourselves. “Have you embraced your unique life story and identified your audience?” It is a critically important question to consider, for it is the doorway to a life of meaning.

For more insights and inspiration from today’s leading entrepreneurs, check out EO on Inc. and more articles from the EO blog

The post Real leaders embrace their weakness appeared first on THE BLOG.

from THE BLOG https://blog.eonetwork.org/2020/11/real-leaders-embrace-their-weakness/

How to build a pandemic-proof business plan for 2021

business planning

business planningContributed by Alexis Maness, contributing editor at 365businesstips.com.

Nearly 100,000 businesses have permanently closed due to COVID-19. And with no end in sight for returning to business as usual, that number can be intimidating to anyone who’s considering opening their own business or entrepreneurs hoping to survive the next year.

If there’s one thing that the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, it’s that you can’t predict the future but a little preparation can go a long way

So, what do you need to include in your business plan in order to make it pandemic proof? We’ll cover the essentials in this post, but first, here are some key elements you need to keep in mind when creating your business plan. The most important characteristics of a good business plan include:

  • Flexibility
  • Practicality
  • Clear definitions
  • Actionable items
  • Well-researched

Make a plan for transitioning to remote

One of the biggest hurdles businesses have had to address is moving their business operations from in-office to remote. While some industries (like tech-based businesses) have been able to adapt fairly easily, others have struggled.

When you assess your business or your startup idea, ask yourself how you can plan to go virtual. Consider safety measures and employee health. Your team should remain just as effective working remotely as they would working in the office—with the exception of a few industries such as restaurants and certain stores.

So, how do you make certain that’s the case moving forward? First, establish the steps needed to transition remote. Next, identify official processes and protocal for remote work to ensure work-from-home success. For example, are you set up with the right collaboration tools and file-sharing platforms? Will you require employees use video conferencing applications?

With the right remote work plan in place, you can even offer work-from-home opportunities as rewards for hard work or as a company-wide benefit. After all, the option to work remotely is one of the most desired work perks.

Create a strong budget

Another one of the challenges that businesses have faced is financial instability throughout the pandemic. So much so that many businesses—both small and large—have shuttered their doors forever. In fact, according to Yelp data, approximately 60 percent of businesses that closed in response to the pandemic, have permanently shuttered.

What can you learn from these businesses? You want to do whatever you can to prevent the same financial crisis from happening to your company in the case of future pandemic, natural disaster or other emergency economic situation.

The first thing to do is to get your budget in order and determine what you need in your emergency fund. During the pandemic, business leaders who understood that cash is king survived.

According to Jody Grunden, Summit CPA Group, businesses should save 10 percent to 30 percent of annualized revenue, or about three to six month’s worth of expenses. Having a cushion of cash to fall back on can be the difference between being able to cover your operational costs and ending up like another statistic.

While financial planning is a key component of any business plan, it’s even more critical as we come out of the pandemic and prepare for the future to make sure we can withstand something similar in the future.

Have a future-focused mindset

As always, when you’re creating a business plan, you want to consider the future, not just the year you’re planning for. So, as you work on your plan for 2021, don’t fall into tunnel vision. Keep in mind the effect your moves could have on your business for the next five or even 10 years.

When setting your vision, initiatives and strategy for 2021, keeping your business open and finding creative ways to bring in revenue will be essential. That said, you also want to make sure you’re not making moves that are going to completely derail your long-term business goals and stability.

As you make decisions based on your company’s current position and the pandemic-affected economy, take steps that will help your business get back on track—whether that’s providing incentives to get customers back through the door or restructuring certain departments. How will you recoup losses, get your staff back up to normal capacity, transition employees back to the office, and so on?

Answering these questions will help you make the best decisions for your business now and in the future. Additionally, make sure you pay attention to trends in both your regional economy and the global economy. Major changes in the world economy and consumer behavior can be good indicators of what to expect.

Creating a well-thought-out business plan for 2021 is the first step to making your company pandemic-proof in the coming years. Keep in mind, however, that a plan is never set in stone. Be ready to pivot as needed and make adjustment as the year unfolds. 

Contributed by Alexis Maness, contributing editor at 365businesstips.com.

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from THE BLOG https://blog.eonetwork.org/2020/11/how-to-build-a-pandemic-proof-business-plan-for-2021/

Inc. 5000 company founders share how being a member of EO has fueled their success

Inc 5000
Inc 5000

A total of 233 EO-member companies were named to the 2020 Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest growing, privately held companies. We asked these elite leaders how being a member of EO has impacted their success.

We spotted a common theme in many answers: learning—whether it’s incidental learning among peers or formal education at events. Learning to improve your leadership, your business practices, your focus, your relationships is a hallmark of EO’s benefits and a significant driver in the success of any business.

Here’s what our members say about learning through EO.

“EO has been a great resource for me—getting input or best practices from other members right when I need it is wonderful. I’ve also learned a great deal from the courses that are provided.” – Lynda Stafford, EO Southeast Virginia, founder and CEO, RMGS, Inc., No. 4,694 on 2020 Inc. 5000

“EO has been a life-changing experience for me for a lot of reasons. Having a local network of growth-minded business owners, pushes me to be better, provides different models of success, and gives me people I can bounce ideas off of. Five hours a month in our Forum meetings and three days per year on our retreat allow me to step back, reset my mindset, and look at the totality of my business. It also gives me a sense of being part of group, and not being alone in my issues. Going to the international events opens my eyes to the unlimited opportunities that exist around the world, and how many of these entrepreneurs are doing business around the world. I’m not sure I can put into words the difference it has made in my life, but I can say that I am not only a better business person, but a better husband, father and person.” – David Singer, EO St. Louis, founder and CEO, Warehouse of Fixtures, No. 3,091 on 2020 Inc. 5000

“The learning events have been very impactful in stretching my thinking. My Forum mates have been a very helpful sounding board for me—personally and professionally.” – Gregg Smith, EO St. Louis, founder and CEO, Pearl Solutions Group, No. 3,467 on 2020 Inc. 5000

“I am so fortunate to get to know and learn from the hundreds of EO members who I have met over the years, from all over the world. One common thread among the EO members who I really admire is understanding the importance of taking a step back from the day to day of running a business and running a life in order to reflect on what is important. I don’t see myself as a “success” in terms of reaching a quantitative goal. I think success is the ability to look in the mirror and to ask myself “Was I a good person today? Did I do my best to leave the world better than I found it today?” If I can answer “yes” to both of those questions, then that day was a success. But I have to do it again tomorrow. If I keep answering yes to those 2 questions, then in the long run, success will follow.” – Jeff Becker, EO San Diego, founder and CEO, Pegasus Cleanroom Services, No. 3,901 on 2020 Inc. 5000

“Being an EO member has made my leadership learning curve a lot smaller. By nature of the people that I surround myself with in EO, I’m always picking up leadership hacks, tips, and experience shares. This has allowed me to step out and lead the orchestra instead of playing in the orchestra.” – Anthony Ramirez, EO Chicago, founder and CEO, Lincoln Security Services, No. 2,463 on 2020 Inc. 5000

“Leading in EO taught me so much about leading virtual teams. Those lessons are paying huge dividends now as I lead our team remotely. I feel the experience of leading in EO and building teams remotely across the globe, gave me a huge leg up as we entered COVID lockdown.” – Brandon Dempsey, EO St. Louis, founder and CEO, goBRANDgo!, No. 4,827 on 2020 Inc. 5000

The post Inc. 5000 company founders share how being a member of EO has fueled their success appeared first on THE BLOG.

from THE BLOG https://blog.eonetwork.org/2020/10/inc-5000-company-founders-share-how-being-a-member-of-eo-has-fueled-their-success/

How getting away from your desk can make you a better leader


leadershipContributed by Jan Bednar , CEO and founder of ShipMonk.

Many business leaders pride themselves on perpetuating the “workaholic” lifestyle. They assume that an always-on, always-available mentality is a prerequisite for success, so they slog through 80-hour workweeks and glue their eyes to their desks, laptops and cellphones.

I take a different leadership approach. Instead of constantly immersing myself in work, I try to take several breaks every day, limit my availability for meetings and make time to travel. This allows me to get in much-needed rest and relaxation. More importantly, it helps me become a better leader and more innovative entrepreneur.

When I unplug from the minutiae of daily business, I develop fresh ideas and perspectives.The line between a business leader’s personal and professional life is growing blurrier and blurrier with each passing day. A 2019 survey revealed that 26 percent of work is done outside of regular working hours. You can be sure that the COVID-19 pandemic and telecommuting have only made matters worse.

If you aren’t vigilant about unplugging from work, you could spend your entire day putting out small fires instead of focusing on the big picture.

These three tips will help you avoid falling into this trap:

1. Build a trustworthy team.

To truly unplug, you need to know that work will continue to get done in your absence. Strive to hire self-motivated individuals who enjoy working autonomously and do not require constant supervision.

Search for people who have led initiatives in the past. During job interviews, ask them to showcase their creative problem-solving skills. Research suggests companies that conduct problem-solving sessions with teams that are at least somewhat fluent in creative tools and resources brainstorm at least 350 percent more ideas than their counterparts—and those concepts are 415 percent more unique.

Leaders must set a good example so that the trust flows both ways. For me, this means empowering my employees to take vacations, refraining from calling and emailing them when they are out of the office and discouraging them from working after hours. I also encourage everyone to turn off their phone notifications from 7 pm to 7 am. If you want your employees to allow you to unplug, you need to return the favor.

2. Structure your day.

Routine and structure can provide the peace of mind needed to maneuver daily tasks with ease. Research finds that structure and routine can lower stress levels, boost productivity and increase focus—all of which can contribute to improved leadership.

I do my best work when my days are structured into time clusters. On a typical day, I will devote two significant chunks of time to my most pressing tasks. I block these clusters out on my calendar so that my team knows I am unavailable, and then I tune out all distractions. I silence my cellphone, close Slack and ignore my email inbox until everything is done.

Outside of these clusters, I make myself available for emails, phone calls and meetings. I also use this time to take breaks, unwind and have a little fun. Sometimes I will shut off for a few hours to watch a movie, spend time with my family or play video games.

Regular clusters help me plan my engagement and focus levels accordingly, ensuring I’m at my best when my team needs me.

3. Step away from time to time.

According to scientific studies, traveling broadens your mind and enhances your creativity. I love to travel—both for work and for fun. I believe that experiencing fresh environments and learning about different cultures helps me refocus my mind and develop new ideas. When I return to work after a trip, I always feel more productive and present.

I try to unplug as much as possible when I travel. On my last trip, for example, I was in the Rocky Mountains without any cellphone reception, so I had a pretty good excuse to not look at my phone. I was traveling with a client, and we talked a lot about work. But because we were both outside of our typical office environment, these conversations felt different and more productive.

It was refreshing to be in the mountains, sitting face to face with an entrepreneur who is absolutely crushing it in his field. We formed a friendship, and we learned so much about each other’s businesses. I must have come up with a half dozen new features for my product in the short time we were together.

Don’t get me wrong: It is important for business leaders to be intimately involved in the day-to-day details of their companies, and sometimes this does mean working crazy hours. But if you make this the norm, you will miss the forest for the trees. Build a team that allows you to step away to recharge your batteries, and you’ll open yourself to new ideas and perspectives that can help your company thrive.

Jan BednarShipMonk is the CEO and founder of ShipMonk, a technology company reimagining third-party shipping logistics. Bednar—a native of the Czech Republic—moved to America to attend Florida Atlantic University, where his entrepreneurial interests piqued enough to start BedaBox, a shipping startup that became the ShipMonk’s predecessor. Bednar lives in Deerfield Beach, Florida.

The post How getting away from your desk can make you a better leader appeared first on THE BLOG.

from THE BLOG https://blog.eonetwork.org/2020/10/how-getting-away-from-your-desk-can-make-you-a-better-leader/

Coronavirus is causing a mental health pandemic

mental health pandeic
mental health pandeic

Contributed by Darren Hockley, managing director of the UK-based e-Learning provider DeltaNet International.

According to the UK’s Office for Naitonal Statistics, (ONS) almost one in five adults in Great Britain are experiencing some sort of depression during the coronavirus pandemic.

As business leaders, we would be amiss to ignore the impact this will undoubtedly have on our workforce, bearing in mind a staggering 70 million working days are lost each year in the UK due to mental health problems—and all signs point to this figure rising.

More than this, as employers, we shouldn’t forget the duty of care we owe to our employees. Indeed, it’s one of the reasons health and safety training exists: All reasonable steps must be taken to ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of those in our employment—and this includes mental wellbeing.

Mental health

Much has been said about COVID-19’s impact upon our physical health, and without diminishing the devastating physical impact the infection can have, it’s important we also note the widespread feelings of helplessness and anxiety brought about by the pandemic.

As news outlets report further lockdowns, rising infection rates, and more job losses, it very well could be the case that COVID’s second wave includes the advancement of mental illness, not just infection.

For many, the world is no longer safe and predictable. Our employees may be worried about their loved ones, their finances or returning to work amidst a second wave of coronavirus. They may be struggling to stay motivated at work or facing feelings of isolation whilst working remotely.

As business leaders and entrepreneurs, there are steps we can take during these unprecedented times to support our employee’s mental wellbeing and pull our business through the pandemic.

Below are tips to help business leaders encourage positive mental health, maintain productivity and comply with UK laws.

Equality and diversity

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has shone a harsh light on workplace discrimination. Working mothers are 47 percent more likely to have permanently lost their job or quit during the pandemic, and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) issued a warning to employers about unfair treatment of disabled employees during lockdown.

Remember, UK’s Equality Act 2010 is still in force and directs that employers’ decisions in response to COVID-19 must not directly or indirectly discriminate against employees with protected characteristics—and this includes many people with mental health conditions classed as a disability under the law.

Now is a good time for managers to update risk assessments to consider the impact of coronavirus on specific groups of employees, and to mitigate these risks by taking into account the needs of individuals. For instance, scheduling virtual drop-in sessions for remote workers battling isolation and loneliness, or easing anxiety by expanding flextime options to allow vulnerable colleagues to travel when it’s safest for them.

Promote learning

Research proves that learning is good for wellbeing: It increases our self-esteem and feelings of hope and purpose along with it.

In a workplace environment, setting targets and hitting them creates positive feelings of achievement, satisfaction and optimism for employees. This is how learning is linked to business growth—it boosts productivity.

In the current situation, then, learning and development (L&D) can offer a means to help keep members of staff engaged with current trends and industry developments. Whether they’re learning new skills, refreshing compliance knowledge or simply keeping up to date with activities affecting the daily operations of the company, L&D is good for busines as well as advancing your mental health strategy.

Remember, your company can only succeed if you have a motivated workforce.

Involve your employees

Don’t be afraid to involve your employees in the conversation at the moment. Everyone at your organisation benefits from de-stigmatising mental health, and managers ought to set the tone from the top by demonstrating healthy behavior and keeping lines of communication about the pandemic (or any other worries) open.

Consider hosting small, virtual opinion groups or wellbeing committees to help break silence surrounding feelings of stress, depression or anxiety. Some businesses have even trained key members of staff in mental health first aid so employees know who to turn to in times of crisis.

Similar to physical first aiders, mental first aiders act as a first port of call for staff experiencing mental health issues or emotional distress. Trained to listen and communicate non-judgementally, mental health first aiders can spot the warning signs and symptoms for a range of mental health conditions and encourage staff members to seek appropriate professional support if necessary.

Look after yourself

Demands on business leaders have been high since March 2020. The coronavirus pandemic is the greatest economic challenge we’ve faced since World War II, and those at the business helm have had to respond with speed and flexibility in an ever-changing and uncertain landscape.

Pair this with the pressures of industrial slowdown, and it’s all too easy to see how company leaders might have put the needs of the business above their personal needs and wellbeing in the current situation.

However, doing so for prolonged amounts of time won’t help matters much. It’s important that those focused on building their empire don’t ignore the signs of stress, but instead equip themselves with the tools to recognise and manage it effectively.

Doing so will not only model positive behaviour for your staff, but, as head of the ship, it will help keep your vision sharp and your reflexes intact.
Wherever possible, take regular rest breaks and continue to use annual leave days. Putting some time aside for self-care activities or to spend with loved ones will help keep things in perspective, promoting effective leadership and decision-making as we head into winter.

Darren Hockley is the managing director of eLearning provider DeltaNet International. The company develops engaging compliance and health and safety eLearning courses, as well as tailored training solutions, designed to mitigate risks and improve employee performance.

The post Coronavirus is causing a mental health pandemic appeared first on THE BLOG.

from THE BLOG https://blog.eonetwork.org/2020/10/coronavirus-is-causing-a-mental-health-pandemic/