Rachel Beider in INC: Advice on Hiring a Coach

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If you're looking to take the next step in your entrepreneurial growth, one of the best investments you can make is in a business coach. Whether you want to increase your sales or improve your hiring strategy, this person can act as an invaluable resource.

Like any professional relationship, you'll want to find a coach with whom you feel a strong connection and rapport. More importantly, you should seek out someone who understands the industry you're in and the unique challenges you're facing. If you're in the market for a business coach, follow these tips from eight seasoned entrepreneurs.

Article seen on INC

Consider virtual coaches as well as local ones.

A local coach you can meet with face to face may sound like the best approach, but it can be restrictive when it comes to scheduling, according to Blair Thomas, co-founder of eMerchantBroker. "By finding a coach that is available online, such as via video conferencing, you are opening yourself up to a wider pool of individuals," he says. 

"Video conferencing can be just as energetic and beneficial as meeting face to face," Thomas notes. As well, when you are not bound by location, you can find a coach who specializes in a certain industry or has some other attribute that works best for your needs.

Make sure you feel comfortable opening up.

Rachel Beider, CEO of Massage Outpost, reveals that a great business coach should push your boundaries and help you get out of your own way.

"Feeling vulnerable and comfortable with your coach will help you establish a real connection, where you can feel good about being brutally honest about your fears," she says. "I have worked with a phenomenal business coach who helped me level up by pushing me hard and providing support."

Ask for details about how they work.

Anyone can call themselves a business coach. That's why Vik Patel, CEO of Future Hosting, recommends finding out some details about the coach's process, their past successes and their industry experience before hiring them.

"Get specific," he advises. "The job title 'business coach' covers a lot of ground, and you need to be sure that your aims for your business match with the coach's skill set and processes."

Find someone who shares your long-term vision.

One of the most important things to look for in a business coach is a shared long-term vision, according to Sunny Desai of Desai Hotel Group.

"It helps to make sure that every decision you are trying to make is aligned with your end goal," says Desai. "Start with discussing how they would approach your current situation to see if there is true alignment."

Look at their track record. 

Michael Hsu, founder and CEO of DeepSky, believes that it's crucial to find a coach who practices what they preach.

"Knowing what to do and doing what must be done are two very different things," he explains. "A coach who eats their own dog food will understand the little nuisances and how to deal with them when life gets in the way."

Seek similar industry experience.

To truly learn from someone, you want to know that they've experienced a similar path of development as you have, and that they'll understand the specific areas in which you need support, says Stanley Meytin, CEO of True Film Production

"A coach who has been where you are can give personal advice on how to thrive moving forward and won't waste time trying to understand you," he adds.

Find a coach whose values align with yours.

While your business coach doesn't need to share your exact mindset, Angela Ruth of Calendar believes they should be similar enough to understand what you respond to, your learning style and your overall value system.

"I need someone who understands how I think and approach things," she says. 

Avoid hiring a clone of yourself.

On the flip side, Dan Golden, co-founder of BFO (Be Found Online), doesn't think you should look for a coach who is too similar to yourself.

"Focus on someone you think you would respect and listen to," says Golden. "Often there's a tendency to find someone who's like yourself, but what you really need is a different perspective and a different style to make that breakthrough you desire."

PUBLISHED ON: OCT 8, 2018

Expert Panel: Nine Pitching Tips To Make You Appear More Trustworthy And Credible

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1. Get the timing right.

One thing a lot of companies don't factor in sufficiently when raising money is timing. Even if you don't immediately need the capital, raise money when things are going well. You're going to be more confident and you'll portray that confidence to investors. You're also going to be more excited, and excitement is contagious. Additionally, you'll be able to be completely honest about everything with the business. Even if you've hit some speed bumps in the past, it's much easier to discuss them when you're looking back on them and the road ahead looks bright. A huge part of raising money and building a business is yourpersonal confidence in what you're doing. Don't raise money without it, and always be transparent with investors -- many tend to invest more than once. - Carlo CiscoSELECT

2. Provide concrete examples of real results with real data.

We go over the top in our pitches to include case studies relevant to the prospective client, based on their specific cohort criteria like industry, size, scope and campaign goals. We then take it further by providing links to many more case studies. The goal is not to be overwhelming but to demonstrate our capabilities and expertise through results. One of the most effective things we do to build trust and confidence is recommend that prospects get in touch with current and past clients to speak to them personally. The fact that past clients are happy to speak to their experience with us goes a long way to show the kinds of partnerships we seek out with clients and how we manage those relationships. - Nick EubanksFrom The Future

3. Be vulnerable and honest.

Both at work and in life, coming across as trustworthy means being your vulnerable, honest self. Vulnerability can mean talking through your weaker points or areas where you need help and being honest about your struggles and successes. Authenticity is key in winning people over, and they are much more likely to trust someone who is human and acknowledges their shortcomings than someone who is overly confident or "perfect." We don't trust perfection because it doesn't exist. - Rachel BeiderMassage Outpost

4. Acknowledge that you're not always the perfect fit.

Even though our company has developed an automated and scalable solution to address a huge problem, I also recognize an automated process isn't ideal for all clinical scenarios. When I acknowledge this point to potential customers or investors, I visibly see their guards come down. By being transparent about the limitations of automation in healthcare, our time can be spent determining the possibility of a viable partnership. Inviting discussion about the areas we can't appropriately address clearly demonstrates our commitment to excellence. I want to build a company that provides optimal solutions for the long term, not just a quick fix. Lasting partnerships require a high-level of trust and respect that only comes when you put your partner's best interests before your own. - Amanda ElmsMetis Genetics, LLC

5. Share the mistakes with the successes.

Honesty is a core value for our company. One method to demonstrate this is by sharing our mistakes with the successes. Mistakes get a bad rap, as we are trained to avoid them at all costs, but in business they are used to hone the approach to reach a customer. We want to understand what doesn't work just as much as we want to know what does work. Creating a series of experiments, including some you actually think will fail, is a healthy approach to test your assumptions. You are going to learn something new while validating those core assumptions. Sharing any pitch is loaded with assumptions. Your job is to help them understand how you reached those assumptions so they can agree with your conclusions, and explaining the messy road through testing is the perfect way to do it. - Charles NickThird Wave Water

6. Pay attention to your body language.

Your body language plays a vital role in how others perceive you. For instance, an easy way to appear more trustworthy is by making eye contact with people when you talk. However, don’t end up staring relentlessly as it indicates hostility. Facing people you’re interacting with is imperative, as it gives them the impression that you’re interested in them and that they have your attention. Looking away or turning your body to the side, on the other hand, might be indicative of you having something to hide. Crossing your arms or legs while talking gets a big "no," as this can also come off as you wanting to hide something. If you use your hands while you speak, continue doing so. Gesturing and nodding help others feel that you’re listening, which in turn helps build trustworthiness. - Derek RobinsonTop Notch Dezigns

7. Show that you care about them as an individual.

Genuinely care for the person you're speaking to. Care more about them as an individual than them as a customer. This may mean opening up and being vulnerable if it enables you to relate to them better. It may mean sharing a personal story that might challenge or encourage them. When meeting with potential clients, I sometimes find myself coaching them through different problems they're facing with their business. Because it's a sales meeting, I know I'm not going to get paid for that time. I'm doing it because I care about people and don't want to miss an opportunity to add value to someone's life. If what I share enables them to be more successful, that means they'll be able to make a bigger impact on their family, employees and community. That's what matters, even if they don't buy. - Bryan CitrinChiropractic Advertising

8. Just be human.

Sales tactics make us all nauseous. Stick to your humanity and the basics: Be good, be brief and be gone. While you are pitching, focus on what is in it for your audience. This is where you show how youropportunity can solve not simply a problem, but their problem. You do this by talking like a human, not a robot. Practice how'd you explain this to your mom, your grandma or someone on the street until the language flows just like a "hello" would. Lastly, people trust people they like, so share that personality of yours. If you say "y'all" in life, say it in the pitch. If you love sports, weave that in. Make the pitch natural to you, so it will be natural to them. Show who you are -- people just may like you.  - Codie SanchezWww.CodieSanchez.com

9. Trust yourself.

Two things investors and potential customers are looking for are confidence and extensive knowledge of your product. Luckily those often come hand in hand, so preparation is key. Like they always say on Shark Tank, you need to know your numbers. If you have an amazing and innovative product, it can speak for itself; however, you need to put it in a position to do so. Sometimes even more than the product, investors invest in people. If you are the person who is very passionate about solving XYZ and know where you are going, you could still potentially receive an investment even if your current product isn’t perfect. So let your passion and persistence shine through and show that you are ready to tackle consumers’ biggest problems. - Zohar Steinbergtoken payments

The Power of Positivity: 11 Ways to Boost Your Business With a Good Attitude

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1. Believe in Your Ability to Achieve Your Goals

A positive attitude increases productivity, which is a benefit in your personal and business life. When you have a positive attitude, you believe in your abilities and you are able to achieve your goals. Being able to accomplish things on a regular basis not only is steeped in a positive attitude, but it enhances one. – Blair ThomaseMerchantBroker

2. Focus on Where You Want to Go

When learning to ride a motorcycle, they tell you not to look at the obstacles you are trying to avoid because where your eyes and body are focused is where you will end up going. The same is true in business. If you spend your time focused on negative outcomes, then you will eventually go there. Being positive and encouraging your team to do the same will take you where you want to go. – Tony ScherbaYeti

3. Ask Yourself, ‘What’s Great About This?’

When challenging situations arrive, instead of asking yourself, “why is this happening to me?” consider, “why is this happening for me?” I take it a step further by questioning what’s good or even great about this? It helps me stay grounded in positivity and gratitude. – Rachel BeiderMassage Outpost

4. Look for the Good in a Situation First

It’s not possible or desirable to be positive all the time. Criticism and negative feedback are essential to learning, but relentless negativity doesn’t help anyone. I try to look for what is good first and preface my comments with positivity. It’s best to look at any negative comments as teachable moments and remember that people learn best from those they trust. – Vik PatelFuture Hosting

5. Be Present When Communicating With Others

People can expect a positive person when I answer their phone call or email, making it easy for them to decide to communicate with me. Naturally, people seek to surround themselves with positive people, including in business. When you’re dealing with an issue, enjoy a moment of conversation with someone new or the exciting opportunity to present yourself. You might even get a solution out of it. – Codie Sanchezwww.CodieSanchez.com

6. Hold Yourself Accountable

I try to hold everything I say and do as a leader accountable to the “How would you feel if this was published on the first page of the New York Times?” question. As a leader, you should never say or do anything that you wouldn’t feel comfortable being made public. Hold yourself to a high standard of behavior, especially when you’re making decisions that will affect the company as a whole. – Roger LeeHuman Interest 401(k)

7. Use Positivity to Build Trust and Credibility

Negative people are hard to trust, and many find they lack credibility because negativity is a defensive behavior. Being positive is welcoming and opens others up to want to know you more, trust what you say, and be around you. Positive speaking and actions send good vibes to others, which help you stay top of mind for making them feel good. – John RamptonCalendar

8. Carefully Consider Your Language Choices

Having a positive outlook is easier said than done, but when I’m able to achieve it, I find that the best people always want to work with me and stick around. To achieve this mindfulness, I’ve tried to always use positive sentences instead of negative ones; for instance, I say, “it’ll be challenging” instead of, “it won’t be easy.” The language we use shapes our thoughts and those around us. – Turgay BirandEditionGuard

9. Keep Discussions Focused on Solutions

In many instances, you have the choice of whether to focus on the problem or the solution. Talking too much about problems isn’t helpful for coming up with solutions, and it can cause discouragement. Keeping a positive attitude helps to spark creativity and optimism. I like to approach difficult situations with the assumption that there’s always a way to make it work in my favor. – Kalin KassabovProTexting

10. Send Out Positive Vibes to Attract Like-Minded People

In my 10-plus years as a business owner, I have found the sentiment “your vibe attracts your tribe” to be true. Having a positive and gracious attitude attracts others with that like-mindedness. I find working with these people to be more inspiring, invigorating, and productive. When dealing with issues, keep the big picture in mind: Don’t sweat the small stuff. – Leila LewisBe Inspired PR

11. Plan for the Best-Case Scenario

An easy way to stay positive is to reframe our approach and the questions we ask ourselves. At most companies, major emphasis is placed on, “what if it doesn’t work out?” While this is important, rarely do leaders and teams ask, “what if it does work out?” Those two questions approach work from two different angles — one pessimistic, and the other optimistic. – Antonio NevesTHINQACTION Inc.

Pre-Order My New Book: Press Here, Massage for Beginners

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I have a new book coming out in January called “Press Here: Massage For Beginners“. I wrote it so that a wide audience could learn how to give an amazing, relaxing massage at home to their friends and loved ones. It discusses everything from pain-relief techniques, to using the perfect amount of pressure, as well as helpful self-care tips and stretches. PRE-ORDER on Amazon or Barnes and Noble!

Nine Women Share The Biggest Career Risks They Ever Took (And Why They Paid Off)

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From an expert panel of women, originally seen in FORBES

1. Founding My Own Startup

The biggest risk I’ve ever taken was to found my own startup, GiftStarter. I put in my own money, took out a second mortgage and took seed funding from investors. I ultimately decided to close the business, a platform to buy group gifts, last May. It was my biggest risk by far because it required so much. I have many battle scars from the endeavor that showcase all of the hard-learned lessons that I now implement daily in my current role as president and COO of Storm. - Arry YuTenta Browser

2. Starting A Business During The Great Recession

The biggest career risk that I have taken is starting a service-based business (without any IP to differentiate myself) during the Great Recession. I had lost my cushy corporate consulting position and was left without any safety net. After losing my job, I decided to start a low-cost business without much financial risk. Although it seemed crazy to my friends and family at the time, I was able to build a solid pipeline of loyal clients. - Kristin Kimberly MarquetCreative Development Agency, LLC

3. Dropping Everything To Take A Sabbatical

I started my first startup my freshman year. I loved it so much that it took over my life. I always told myself that I'd start traveling and working remotely when I graduated but my senior year I jumped straight into a new business idea. After a year and a half, I was feeling a little burned out. It seemed like I was just doing things that fit society's definition of success. That's when I knew something was wrong. I left it all behind to start traveling and get to know myself better. Sometimes we get so caught up chasing after things that we forget to take a break and reanalyze things. While I had no idea what would come from leaving, it turned out to be the best decision. I started a travel app and learned a lot about myself. - Adelaida Sofia Diaz-RoaNomo FOMO

4. Taking Maternity Leave From My Startup

I had twins after hiring our fourth person and while we were launching websites and big SEO projects. My business partner and I were in the thick of the day to day. Neither of us had taken paternity or maternity leave and did not know what to expect. I came back after two months. I used the first four weeks to get up to speed, then went full-time. I have zero regrets for having children or taking maternity leave. We should have done better in setting my business partner up for success with an operations manager or account director. I should have taken the full three months instead of trying to come back a few weeks early. My business partner is male and I felt like I had to prove I could do it all, when, in reality, I had to set new boundaries both at home and at work. - Kerry GuardMKG Marketing

5. Moving Out Of The Country For A Contract

I left the country and moved to Paris for a year to take an opportunity to work with startups in the Series A phase. This was a huge risk -- there were no guarantees behind their success. There was no telling if they would succeed and I could be out of a contract within three months. My job was to help them scale within two months and raise investor money to grow even further. The early stages were bootstrapped completely -- but I received the reward of helping one of the startups in the healthcare space scale to $1 billion in revenue in a year and a half. This experience was rewarding in itself and if I could go back and repeat it, I would do so in a heartbeat. Make moves, do things alone and reap rewards. - Sweta PatelSilicon Valley Startup Marketing

6. Opening Business Number Two

This past spring, a company purchased some of my curriculum. I had two options -- work on the business that was tried and true or take a leap and start the brick and mortar I had been dreaming about. On a whim, I saw a rental property -- it was gorgeous with absolutely stunning light. A lot of work needed to be done, but the price was right. So instead of experimenting with the business I knew so well, I decided to take the leap and open a collaborative collective and social space for and by women. The name? Fearless. While this might look like a huge risk, it was calculated for me. I had failed, a lot and often, with my other business and I felt I was ready for the next level. And this was it. Take calculated risks, whatever that means for you, and make it happen. Be fearless. - Jen BrownThe Engaging Educator

7. Expanding To Other Locations

The biggest risk I've taken in my career was expanding from one location of my small business to three locations. It required a lot of financial risks, learning new skills, delegation, hiring for key roles and a lot of work and planning. There were financial challenges and it was really scary at times. A few years ago, another entrepreneur told me that the success of my first location was "luck" and not to count on it. I loved proving him wrong! - Rachel BeiderMassage Outpost

8. Having Children As A Solo Business Owner

It was terrifying being in the early stages of running my own business with a baby on the way. I knew I wouldn't get a proper maternity leave, but I also understood that it would be challenging to run things as smoothly as I was able to pre-kids. When my son came into the world, I had serious complications at his birth and nearly died. I spent the next year recovering and running the company remotely from home. I had to shift my expectations for that year. I did not focus on growth but instead focused on stabilizing and streamlining processes in preparation for future growth. The business thrived! We grew a bit that year and nearly tripled our revenue the following year. - Rachel LipsonBlue Balloon Songwriting for Small People

9. Publicly Sharing My Failures

A year ago, I shared a post on LinkedIn about a failure of mine and it accumulated over 20 million views in less than three weeks. It was a story about having to fund my team's salary on my personal credit card. But I was ashamed to tell it because I felt like I was setting myself up for public humiliation. To me, it was a big risk putting myself in such a vulnerable position, especially since my team didn't know about the situation, but the responses were absolutely incredible. People related to the fact that entrepreneurship is not glamorous, but rather a long tough journey with few ups and many rock bottoms. I received support that I would've never imagined. It was life-changing. I began bringing in more business and soon got asked to be a public speaker and special guest on podcasts. - Jinny Hyojin OhWANDR

Entrepreneurs, Make the Most of Your Vacation With These Six Tips

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Learn how to actually disconnect if you want to come back energized and ready for new challenges.

Published in Inc.

As an entrepreneur, you've probably had to shelve your vacation plans on several occasions, when faced with a business emergency or if you simply didn't have anyone to leave in charge and trust to run things smoothly in your absence. The few times you did manage to go on vacation, you found you were unable to completely disconnect, constantly worrying about your business and always checking your phone and email. Under these conditions, time off from work can end up feeling even more stressful instead of allowing you the opportunity to relax and recharge.

These six entrepreneurs explain why leaving work at work is crucial for your health and that of your business, and offer their best tips on how even the busiest entrepreneur can make the most of their vacation.

Disconnect for real.

Truly unplugging has become increasingly difficult when you have instant internet access almost anywhere in the world. Going on vacation in an area without coverage may be the only way to truly disconnect.

"I recently took a five-day trip to an area with no cell service and no Wi-Fi, and it was a more productive time to relax than longer trips where I had my cell by my side," says Rachel Beider, founder of Massage Williamsburg, Massage Greenpoint and Massage Outpost. "Taking a few days to seriously unplug adds so much value to a vacation."

Set a rule to not create more work.

"I love the idea of disconnecting entirely, but I can't," says Passport Co-founder and COO Aaron Schwartz. "So, when I take a vacation, I set a very specific rule and ask my team to hold me to it."

More specifically, Schwartz stays away from creating any new projects while away. "I am allowed to reply to emails and Slack in order to 'unblock' projects. But I'm not allowed to create work for myself or anyone. The team only brings critical work to my attention, and I feel energized because I'm only doing priority work," he explains.

Take more frequent, shorter vacations.

Many entrepreneurs find it difficult to go on vacation longer than a couple of days at a time, so "taking more two- to three-night getaways can be more productive and beneficial than taking one or two extended vacations," believes Shawn Schulze, president of HomeArea.com.

"It's enough time to get away and recharge, but also not so long that you feel overwhelmed when getting back into the swing of things," he says.

Utilize travel time for work.

Another way of making the most of your vacation, but not feeling completely cut off from work, is to use any periods of inactivity to get things done.

"I love to use airplane or other travel time to get work done," says Network Under 40 Founder Darrah Brustein "It frees me up to feel less anxious about not working during my vacation, and I often get into a flow because no one is trying to call or speak to me."

Be in the moment.

Just going away on vacation is not enough if you're not able to let go of your worries and enjoy the moment, according to Zev Herman, sales manager of Superior Lighting. "I find the best way to relax is to do something immersive that forces you to be in the moment. Snorkeling and swimming are great. Being with your family is obviously the most important thing."

Chances are that if you actually stop and take a breath, you will get more creative, interesting ideas than when you're overwhelmed with work in a stuffy office. "If you carry a notebook, you can grab an idea and feel confident you can return to it later," Herman adds.

Make it memorable.

"As an entrepreneur, time away from the office is a precious, way-too-limited resource. Make your vacations count by doing something you're going to look back on fondly," says Brittany Hodak, co-founder of The Superfan Company.

According to Hodak, spending a memorable vacation in a place you enjoy will not only help you relax but also serve as a goal for renewed productivity and hard work when you come back. "When you're back in the grind, you can break out pictures and say, 'That was incredible. I've got to keep plugging away at X so I can go back there soon.' It becomes a reward in the moment and a goal for the future."

Pitching The Press: A Simple Strategy For Small Businesses To Grow With Media Coverage

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

I wrote this article for Forbes, originally published here.

As a small business, getting the press coverage you need to support your company's growth can be frustrating and challenging — especially if you've put out press releases or emailed your favorite publications and heard nothing but radio silence in return. I have found a ton of success in getting press using the following method, which entrepreneurs can utilize to bypass all the noise and get straight to the source.

First, find your angle and what you'd like to talk about. Maybe it's a current event or trend, or something you've noticed about your customers or clients, or an observation about a shift or change in your industry. It could also be common mistakes people make when choosing your service or product, things people may not know about your field or a behind-the-scenes look at the day-to-day of your kind of business. The point of press is to bring traffic to your website, establish yourself as a professional in your industry and give you credibility with your customers. Plus, it provides you with something tangible to share on social media that clients can engage with and be excited about. To be written about, or even just to be quoted in an article, is a win-win all around.

But here's something not everyone knows: Reaching out to magazines directly can be a total waste of time.

Chances are, the people reading your emails to websites or magazines don't know — or perhaps don't care — who you are or what you do. Instead, seek out the writers who have written articles about the topic you're discussing, specifically in the publications or sites that interest you. Contacting writers is the key here because they always need sources and pitches, and they already have sold this topic or concept to the magazine or site before. You can find individual writers by searching for the topic by publication, in the News section of Google. This increases your chances of identifying a writer with a connection to the site or publication.

For example, if I want to establish myself online as a professional by being quoted in a particular newspaper, I might research who's written for that paper on a topic similar to the one I'd like to comment on. You might think that is redundant, but it's actually helpful to reach out regarding something similar because the writer has experience pitching or selling that type of story to their publisher. For massage therapists like me, these search terms might look like, "back pain, anxiety, [newspaper name]." For a gym owner, it could look like a recent fitness trend to comment on in a health magazine. A chiropractor might look for "weight lifting injuries" in the Times. A psychologist might search for who's written about stress or PTSD recently for an industry journal.

After you've identified a writer who has written for the desired publication or site within the last six months, reach out to them directly. Most journalists have a website, a Twitter account or other online presence with a contact form or public email address for tips. When you email them, be sure to mention that you enjoyed a recent article of theirs and that you've noticed this trend in your clients/this industry shift/this mistake people make, etc. Reference the topic that interests you that you'd like to discuss, and be brief and to the point. Your reach-out email should not be longer than four or five sentences. Authenticity is important — try not to be "salesy," as this is a very soft pitch. You don't need to write the article for them. Your goal is to offer your idea and ask if they are interested in researching it further.

If the writer is interested, they may respond to you with lots of questions. It will be helpful to also provide your new contact with other industry leaders they could interview as well. Reach out to different writers at several publications on the same or a similar topic until one bites. Make sure your email includes your name, contact info and website in the signature line, so that the writer can link to you or get in touch for follow-ups. Don't be discouraged if you don't hear back right away; it's a numbers game.

I have successfully used this method to get quotes published — and in turn, generate interest for my business — in various mainstream magazines and newspapers. It truly pays off when you become the go-to person for insider insights about your industry.

Nine Tips For Hiring A COO Who Is The Best Fit For Your Business, from FORBES

If your business has grown substantially since it was founded, you may be contemplating hiring a chief operations officer (COO). If so, congratulations. This is a big step. It's also one that should be taken seriously, as a COO will help run the organization so that you can focus on broader business goals.

1. Define your vision.

Since there is a huge variety in what a COO does, hiring for the position can be tricky. Here are two tactical steps I would take when looking to hire a COO. First, have a vision. COOs should have a defined vision with which to work. COOs can certainly contribute to refining or even reinventing a vision, but it's best to have one predefined by the top leader. Some of the most successful COOs are people who successfully executed on a predefined strategy. Second, think creatively. Understand that a candidate with years of COO experience may not fit your company's culture or know how to effectively engage your organization's operating model. On the other hand, a divergent candidate with the right skills could breathe new life into the leadership suite. - Robert J ChoiRJC & Company Transformation Consultants

2. Identify your needs and compensate well.

Determine if you should look for a COO from within the company or hire someone from outside. While an insider will come with institutional knowledge, an outsider will bring a fresh perspective. Unfortunately, there are instances of both succeeding and failing. Simplify the process by defining your needs at the onset. Visualize where you want your business to be five years from now and look at how a new COO fits into the scheme of things. Create a detailed job description geared toward the future and look for potential candidates accordingly. To attract the best, you will need to offer a competitive salary. Gauge salary norms by going through job listings from competitors and on online platforms such as PayScale.com and Salary.com, or by networking with peers from your industry. - Derek RobinsonTop Notch Dezigns

3. Make a wish list.

When looking for my COO, I made a detailed list of everything I wanted. Through this list, I got very clear on the dynamics and expectations for our relationship. I looked for someone who would honor the experience and passion of our team and be able to find the balance of leveraging their strengths, helping each team member become more successful than they could ever imagine while stepping into leadership. I wanted someone who had shared values around family, passion, equality and tolerance. They needed to be oriented toward growth and results: for themselves, for our team and for the company. Lastly, I wanted someone who was comfortable challenging me and telling me what they really think. - Rachel BeiderMassage Greenpoint, Massage Williamsburg, Massage Outpost

4. Don't wing it.

If you are in a place where you can hire a COO, then that is a good sign for your business. It means your business is more than just operating; it is thriving. When you begin your search, have a plan of attack. A COO is hired to handle daily operations so that the CEO can work on the business’s long-term strategy and goals. A COO is your second in command, which means the person you hire needs to be able think independently and stay in sync with your goals, mission and brand when talking to stakeholders, even if the person disagrees with your thinking in private. With this being understood, clearly outline the duties of the COO. Adding another leader to the mix can cause confusion inside and outside the company, as well as a loss of time and resources, if the position is not clearly defined. Also, determine what type of experiences and skills you want the person in this role to possess. It’s never a good idea to have a carbon copy of yourself. You want someone to challenge your ideas and bring new ones to the table. Now that you know what you want and need, look at the people within your organization to see if anyone fits the bill. This can be a good approach because you already know that you can work with this person effectively. However, this can cause resentment among other employees. Hiring an outside candidate means fresh ideas. Regardless of what route you take, remember that the CEO-COO power structure is difficult, and takes even more finesse to work well in smaller organizations. For this to truly work for your organization, relinquish some control to the COO but make it crystal clear that they must always follow your lead. - Blair ThomaseMerchantBroker

5. Ask how they are qualified.

Any officer you hire is going to be your right hand, and a COO is your go-to person between you and the people running your company. But you have to ask yourself if a resume full of work experience can tell you anything about that person's character, work ethic or desire to succeed. We live in a world of successful business owners and startups, so sometimes your best COO may currently be working. While an unemployed candidate could look enticing, they may not have the drive you need for someone on your board. Create relationships with people who are successful in fields that require traits that you need in an officer, and offer board positions to people who are currently extremely successful at what they do. A chief position is not a job, it is a creative role that requires action. - Jason CriddleJason Criddle and Associates

 

6. Move slowly.

Finding a good COO for your company is, without exaggeration, as important as finding the right spouse. You need to be in a similar mindset when making this decision because both are long-term commitments with extremely high stakes. My recommendation is to take your time finding the proper candidate and thoroughly vet him or her before making the decision. It's a good idea to pick someone who has been working for your company for a long time and understands the way it functions and the way you think. You don't necessarily want someone who thinks the same as you, but you do want someone who can work with you and shares your vision. Do not rush this decision under any circumstances. I cannot stress this enough. You have to take the time to know that he or she will be competent and a good fit. - Bryce WelkerCrush The PM Exam

7. Get referrals and understand their values.

The best employees often come from those we know, as this ensures similar values and brand alignment. When looking for a winning candidate for any job, it’s important to understand both the hard and soft skills needed, as well as the values framework that is best for the business. An example is the thinking that young people are great at entrepreneurial “work all the time” environments, but this is less feasible when they grow up and have families themselves. This doesn’t mean you need to hire a COO that doesn't have the experience you need. What’s important is understanding which values and corresponding actions are required for a successful candidate at different levels of the organization. - Baruch LabunskiRank Secure

8. Review their track record.The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Why not let history verify what the candidate tells you? Anyone applying to be COO needs to go through extensive background checks. You’re not just looking for an employee, you’re looking for a partner and someone you can trust to manage your business. The best way to determine the best candidate for this position is to simply look at their track record. What other businesses have they served as COO? How successful was that company under his or her management? Are there any online reviews about that company? Most importantly, what does that company’s financial situation look like? These are all questions you need to ask about the person you're considering to help run your company. Ultimately, that will tell you how they will treat your business. -  Codie Sanchez,  Www.CodieSanchez.com

9. Look for growth and hunger.

Do your research. If there aren't members of your own management team who have shown growth and a well-rounded education, look for qualities like this in similar industries. Pay attention to your competition and the employment pool. The candidates who have grown through departments in their businesses, learning different facets of the same company and rising through the ranks each time, are poised for growth and possess hunger that can be harnessed for moving your business forward. Our COO began in a labor position on the production floor right out of high school, rose to manager, cross-trained to sales and made it to VP of sales before accepting the COO position. He accepted every opportunity for training, education and challenge that we threw his way with astronomical results. - Brandon StapperNonstop Signs

Article published in FORBES

10 Ways to Dazzle Your Customers with an In-Store Experience

Making sure your customers have the best experience when they shop at your brick-and-mortar location will turn them into loyal consumers who return frequently and buy even more from your store.

That’s why we asked 10 successful entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following question:

Q. Brick-and-mortar stores have advantages over their online counterparts. What is one way you can make sure customers have a positive in–store experience they’ll want to repeat?

1. Focus on customer experience

 

For brick and mortar stores to survive in the age of online shopping, they need to focus on what they do best: providing product advice and insider knowledge like online sites never can. Nothing beats this. I browse in-store because it is enjoyable, and when accompanied by knowledgeable salespeople, I’ll take home 10 times more things than I would if I am just looking for a specific item online. —Vanessa NornbergMetal Mafia

2. Offer superior service

 

When you own a brick-and-mortar store, you can provide yourcustomers with high-touch and personalized customer service that they would not be able to get in an online setting. You can show different product demonstrations, offer in–store VIP programs and events, reconnect with old customers, and consider the overall customer experience from their perspective. —Kristin MarquetCreative Development Agency, LLC

3. Take advantage of the face-to-face encounter

 

If customers trust you, they will be loyal to you. That’s why transparency is so important. Keeping information secret and not being honest about your intentions will damage your relationship with customers. With a brick-and-mortar store, you have a chance to genuinely get to know your customers and their needs. Don’t treat them like any other patron. Smile and engage them, then find out their names and what brings them into your store. —Blair ThomaseMerchantBroker

4. Observe, then suggest

 

One thing still missing (even with 24/7 customer service chats and phones) is the ability for a human being to make observations and suggest products. Websites can suggest other products that other customers frequently buy together, but that is not the same as saying, “Hey, I notice your dog is pulling you around the store. Can I offer a suggestion for a training product that might help with that?” —Alisha Navarro2 Hounds Design

5. Be sensitive to customers‘ shopping style

 

My favorite stores have this in common: The staff are attentive but not overly so. They don’t ask me if I need help every two minutes, but when I do need help, they know the stock well enough to respond intelligently. Sensitivity to the customer’s social preferences is key, and it’s something that online retail can’t replicate. —Vik PatelFuture Hosting

 

6. Make eye contact

 

One strong way to make sure customers have a glowingly positive in–store experience is training your staff to make eye contact and to smile. At my massage studio, our goal is to be “the best part of our clients’ day, every day.” —Rachel BeiderMassage Greenpoint

 

7. Be polite and offer free swag

 

We are primarily an online retailer, but we do get local pickup orders and it is essential that we wow them! We carry their items to the car for them and give them a free lanyard of their favorite sports team (Go Miami Heat!). Some customer place pick-up orders just to come see us, even though they know we offer free delivery. —Michael BarnhillSpecialist ID 

 

8. Provide in-store entertainment

 

Apple has done an incredible job with this, providing in–storeentertainment to their customers and making the environment enjoyable. Use digital displays, interactive games, and strong music that appeal to your target audience’s psychographics. As part of entertaining them, make sure you appeal to the five senses, with enticing scents, engaging visuals, and of course, fun music. —Marcela De VivoMulligan Funding

9. Let them test your products

 

Have presentations and demonstrations, or offer free samples of your product. Give people a hands-on experience that the internet can’t give them. No matter how big or small you are, you can take a tip from the big innovators like Apple. An Apple Store is more than a distribution point; it is an experience. To compete with the internet, you need to experiment with creative options. —Zev HermanSuperior Lighting

10. Design a welcoming space

 

In our mattress showrooms, we’ve trained our staff as sleep specialists to educate customers about our products and provide strategies for improving their sleep habits. We encourage customers to come in and take a nap, providing them with a space they can enjoy. For your retail store, design a welcoming space that encourages customers to come in, learn more about yourbrand and products, and simply relax. —Firas KittanehAmerisleep

 

More at: https://www.allbusiness.com/10-ways-to-dazzle-customers-in-store-experience-116438-1.html

Streamlining your Startup - Rachel Beider on Small Business Trends

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Ensuring your business flows effectively is key to the success of your company. In the first few years of any business, it can be difficult to achieve a new level of efficiency that you are comfortable with, and that helps your operations steadily keep up with demand. That’s why we asked 15 entrepreneurs from the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following:

“How can you successfully streamline operations when there’s so much else to focus on in the first few years of business?

 

How to Streamline Operations at Your Startup

Here’s what YEC community members had to say:

1. Create an Operations Manual and Software

“Streamline your efforts by creating a dynamic manual of operations and by using free management software, such as Podio, to get information out of your head and make it more easily accessible to your growing team. This also helps create generative thinking to problem solve.” ~ Rachel BeiderMassage GreenpointMassage Williamsburg

 

2. Review Processes Often

“When processes aren’t streamlined, your business will be faced with customer complaints, frustrated employees, mistakes, delays and wasted resources. A business, especially a small one or a startup, can’t afford to not streamline processes. A good place to start is with designating an employee to regularly map and analyze processes to avoid inefficiencies, low productivity and poor customer satisfaction. ” ~ Blair ThomaseMerchantBroker

 

3. Process, Document, Train

“The only way to build and scale a company is to create replicable processes and document them. Otherwise, employee turnover will lead to massive brain drain and your team will be re-learning from mistakes that have been made before. Ensure the team has access to these documents, and train new employees during onboarding. Teach people that if a process breaks, they need to fix and document the changes. ” ~ Jonathan GassNomad Financial

4. Implement Automation Technology

“You can implement various platforms and tools that automate tasks for you. This maintains a streamlined organization so you don’t add people just to do very basic, yet time-consuming tasks. ” ~ Serenity GibbonsCalendar.com

5. Make Operations a Priority

“One of your early hires should be a natural operations person, even if that’s not their formal role. What you’re looking for is the type of person that naturally organizes as they go, and if you give them the reins to do that, they will. ” ~ Tim ChavesZipBooks Accounting Software

6. Look for Multifaceted Talent

“Look to bring on talent that can assist in multiple areas or that is willing to learn more skills to do so. This can keep the streamlined effect while allowing you the time to focus on strategy and execution. ” ~ Drew HendricksButtercup

 

7. Have a Mentor

“Use a mentor to help you focus on the process and operations. It helps to have an expert guide your work and show you what you may not see. ” ~ Murray NewlandsChattyPeople

8. Hire the Right People

“There are a lot of processes you can streamline yourself — but there’s nothing like efficient, hard-working employees to make those processes easier for you. If you’re filling your company with out-of-the-box thinkers who believe in the mission of your company, you’re going to see processes streamlining left and right.” ~ Kevin ConnerBroadbandSearch

9. Focus on Systems Over Strategies

“The first thing is to focus on your systems over your strategies in order to streamline the process. How are you going to track your revenue and what systems pertain to helping you track ROI? Those are the systems that need to be set up first so they can support you during the tough times of your business. Your systems will sustain your business and propel it forward.” ~ Sweta PatelSilicon Valley Startup Marketing

10. Find the Bottleneck and Fix It

“Pick the single biggest bottleneck in your company and start there. If you don’t know what this is, consider your activities and determine whether that activity yields the highest value and makes the best use of your time. If your time is wrapped up in a repetitive task, you can choose to delegate this responsibility, automate parts of the process or systematize it to make it as fluid as possible.” ~ David CiccarelliVoices.com

11. Take a Granular Approach

“Take a more granular approach and look for ways to streamline the smaller things involved with running a business. Maybe you find a way that your team can get customers taken care of more quickly and efficiently, as one brief example. Then, move on to the next operational point. That usually will give you the time to focus on all of the other items in the first few years.” ~ Andrew SchrageMoney Crashers Personal Finance

12. Keep Asking What You Don’t Need

“When you keep adding on, whether it’s staff, equipment or any type of tool or system, you’re making things more complicated. Sometimes this is necessary and beneficial, but streamlining requires you to do the opposite. In any process or project, ask what could be cut back and simplified. This often helps you save time and reduce costs. ” ~ Kalin KassabovProTexting

13. Do Constant Research

“Many people have attempted similar business ventures and operations with varying degrees of success. In order to capitalize on this, it’s important to study your peers, rivals and mentors. This is a great way to ascertain what aspects of operations can be streamlined without negative ramifications, almost like a form of A/B testing. If others have attempted similar strategies, learn from them.” ~ Bryce WelkerCPA Exam Guy

14. Start From Day One

“Streamlining and automation is not something you should “start someday,” it is a practice that is best applied when it is implemented from the very beginning and routinely exercised. Streamlining grows increasingly difficult the further you are in your business. Take simple steps to automate your business and make them a routine, you will thank yourself later for starting early in this process.” ~ Diego OrjuelaCables & Sensors

15. Outsource, Outsource, Outsource

“There will be many things that you’re not an expert in, and whether it’s accounting or IT, work with a consultant or agency that knows what they’re doing. You’ll be much more effective in organizing the operations of your business if you’re able to step back and manage several functions and their relative workflows, as opposed to actually learning about and doing all this work yourself. ” ~ Roger LeeCaptain401

 

Article on SmallBizTrends