Google is about to kick off a major redesign process aimed at rejuvenating the AdWords interface:

Google is completely redesigning AdWords: Offers first peek

The now-legacy platform will be undergoing a redesign process to make it easier to navigate and use.

The 10 Most Destructive Lies Business Owners Tell Themselves

lies business owners tell

We talk to ourselves constantly. Okay, maybe not literally, but the psychological phenomenon of self-talk is real and it can have a major bearing on your life, moods and even your professional performance. Self-talk can manifest as reactions to certain events and situations. For example, you might think “that was a dumb mistake” or “this is going to be awesome,” and these thoughts generally have an effect on how you perceive the event in question. They can also manifest as assumptions, in the short-term or long-term, about different aspects of your life and business.

There’s no question that business owners lie to themselves, often knowingly, but some lies are innocuous. Others, like these 10, are destructive and should be avoided at all costs.

Lies Business Owners Tell

My Customers are Going to Love This

This lie stems from your own personal biases. You came up with the idea for your business (or product), so of course you’re going to love it! That doesn’t mean everyone else in your target audience is going to, and assuming that’s the case may set you up for failure. If you don’t have any objective data backing this statement, you’re lying to yourself.

Everything Will Work Out

It won’t. Not if you allow things to continue as they are. There’s this persistent myth that businesses succeed because they had a good idea and a good system. Then they just waited for everything else to fall in place. This isn’t true. Successful businesses have to experiment, tinker, and evolve constantly. You have to put in the effort if you want to succeed.

I Can Always Change This Later

This can be true, depending on the context, but it’s not a line of thinking you want to apply to many areas of your business. Assuming you’ll be able to change something later gives you a lower threshold for quality, meaning you’ll start off with a weaker strategy. And thanks to procrastination, you’ll probably end up never changing it anyway. Start strong if you want to finish strong.

I Don’t Have to Worry About This Yet

There are many reasons for procrastination, and some of them are actually pretty good. However, when you delay a task, the indefiniteness of “I’ll worry about that later” can set you up for a perpetual cycle of delay. Instead, if you don’t have time to do something, either schedule a concrete time to do it in the future, or delegate it to someone else.

I Have to Do This Myself

Entrepreneurs love to get their hands dirty, and many take it as a point of pride. You might convince yourself that you’re the only one with the skill set or experience to handle a certain task, or that if you don’t do this yourself, you’ll lose control of your business. However, it’s unlikely that these things are true. Learn to let go, and trust your teammates to help you out.

I Don’t Have Time

Entrepreneurship is demanding. It takes a heavy investment of time and effort to see any progress, so many business owners end up putting off or ignoring other aspects of their life — like family, friends and leisure time. Trust me, you need to make time for these things, or you’ll regret it later.

I Just Have to Work Harder

Working harder isn’t always the best approach, just like hitting your head against a brick wall with more force isn’t going to help you tear it down. Instead, opt for smarter, more innovative solutions to your problems. Putting in more hours with a “brute force” style will leave you burned out and frustrated.

This Could Never Work

This lie often stems from preconceived notions about different strategies. You might hear an idea for the first time and immediately write it off as impractical or useless, or you might be presented with a strategy that didn’t work out well for you in the past and assume it could never work out. It’s important to be open to new ideas, especially since many strategies can be feasible as long as you use the right approach.

All I Need Is _____

Businesses are ridiculously complicated, and even to the most seasoned, successful entrepreneurs in the world, they’re somewhat unpredictable. There are too many variables for you to definitively boil down any problem to a single factor. If you give yourself this problem-solving tunnel vision, you could wind up ignoring the factors that are actually responsible for your predicament. Know that every problem is complex, and no one fix will solve everything.

No One Understands

Entrepreneurship can be painfully lonely. Because you’re working long hours, you’re in an isolated position, and you have to put on a “brave” face for your employees and clients, you might find yourself thinking that nobody understands the stresses you’re dealing with. This weighs heavily on the mind. But don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re alone. Connect with other entrepreneurs and open up about your experiences.

Don’t feel ashamed if you lie to yourself. In fact, if you don’t, you’re in the minority. Some lies are important to reframe your expectations, help you think more positively and direct your line of thought to something more productive. However, don’t let yourself get caught in a trap of unproductive self-deception. Keep your thoughts and assumptions in check by remaining as objective as possible in your business.

Fingers Crossed Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “The 10 Most Destructive Lies Business Owners Tell Themselves” was first published on Small Business Trends

What to Look for In a Seed Stage Angel

a seedling represents a seed stage angel

Most entrepreneurs make the wrong decision when seeking angel money for the first time. Instead of being selective about their investors, they focus on finding someone, anyone, with a bulging wallet.

That approach is shortsighted and will lead to trouble. Having the wrong investors creates a myriad of problems in a start-up.

Who Should Be Your First Seed Stage Angel?

1. People you like and respect and who like and respect you. Having compatible personalities and having an understanding of the difficulties of what your counterpart is doing are key to a successful entrepreneur-investor relationship.

2. Backers who know what it means to be an angel investor. You don’t want investors who will ask for their money back when the company gets into trouble or who ask you naïve questions. You need investors who realize that they are making high risk, illiquid, investments. And they are okay with it.

3. People who know how to help an entrepreneur. Be wary of angels who seek “coachable” entrepreneurs. While good investors use that term in the way it was intended — to mean that the entrepreneur is not too stubborn to hear advice — others think of the word as a synonym for “malleable.” These angels want to tell entrepreneurs what to do. But the investor’s not the one in charge. They don’t get to make the decisions. Good investors advise; they do not bark orders.

4. Investors who know when and how to give advice. Advising is a very hard skill to learn and most people don’t know how to do it. Good advisors sense when and how an entrepreneur will be receptive to a message, particularly one that is hard to hear. For instance, when valuations drop and the entrepreneur is spinning her wheels trying to raise money at an unrealistic valuation, the good investor says, “Maybe we should talk through your options.”

5. People who know how to teach and mentor. Many successful entrepreneurs make lousy angels because they want to jump in and do things for their portfolio companies rather than help their entrepreneurs think through their problems. Jumping in and doing isn’t helpful because most successful entrepreneurs are ten-plus years past running day-to-day operations. When investors who are operationally a decade out of date tell entrepreneurs that they will redesign a product or rework an ad campaign the outcome isn’t likely to be stellar.

6. Investors who will work their connections to get you potential customers, suppliers, employees and additional money. Connections to investors may be the most important of the package. When entrepreneurs are raising money it distracts them from building their companies. So good investors help their startups raise money from other investors. That doesn’t just mean linking entrepreneurs to the VCs who will do their Series A round. It also means helping them complete their current investment round. Not every start-up’s funding round is immediately oversubscribed. Helpful investors suggest people to contact and get potential investors to look at your pitch deck and take your call today, not next year.

Seedling Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “What to Look for In a Seed Stage Angel” was first published on Small Business Trends

5 Ways to Tackle Scheduling Your Employees

scheduling your employees can be tough!

Everyone has 24 hours in a day, but sometimes as a manager or business owner, you feel like your time is like putting socks in the washing machine. You know you started with 24, but somehow, two or three disappeared right before your eyes.

Scheduling your employees, even if you only have a couple, can be a difficult task that is time-consuming and not pleasant. Optimizing your time is important, because, let’s be honest, you have better things to do than struggle with putting together the monthly schedule and figuring out who is available and who isn’t. The following tips can help you along when you’re at your wit’s end with scheduling.

Scheduling Your Employees

Create a Process

Everything works better when everyone is on the same page. When you establish a set way of creating and distributing your schedule, any employee, regardless of whether they are a ten-year veteran or a new hire, will be able to understand the scheduling process.

Consider creating a set way to accept vacation submissions, paid time off and family leave, as well as developing an easy way to assign work to your employees. It can be as simple as asking your employees to use the same subject line in an email so their requests don’t get buried in the shuffle.

To create a process that works for you, set specific times every week vacation requests have to be turned in. In a perfect world, being proactive would be all you would need, but emergencies occur. Make sure you have a set process in place for when an employee has an emergency and can’t come into work, and inform your employees of what they should do should their co-worker not be able to come in.

Play to Strengths and Weaknesses

We all have our strengths and our weaknesses, and one of the best things you can do is learn to play to them. Some employees will excel at certain tasks while others struggle. If your business has busy seasons, try to schedule your employees in the positions where they do the best.

You don’t need to experiment with having Joe learn how to operate the iced coffee machine on the hottest day of the year when you have a line of caffeine-hungry zombies out the door. However, during your slow season, you should allow employees to try something they want to learn, even if they don’t naturally excel at it.

By giving your employees the time to dabble in something outside of their normal work day, they’ll learn new tasks, which is good for the employee AND your business. Keeping employees driven, engaged and invested in their work can be hard when they do the same thing every day, even if they are amazing at what they normally do. By scheduling them a few hours a week to learn something new, you keep them engaged and present.

Your business will actually benefit, too. Here’s why: Say Susan who runs your iced coffee machine breaks her leg and can’t come to work. She might be the best iced coffee maker you’ve got, but that doesn’t help you if she isn’t able to come to work. If you let Joe learn the basics before a crisis occurs, he’ll be able to keep your business afloat even with zombies at the door, all while feeling great he mastered something new.

Use Technology to Your Advantage

Depending on the size of your company, using technology to keep your scheduling process organized might just mean using a shared calendar, or it could mean investing in workforce management software. You can make the most detailed and beautiful schedule ever seen by mankind, but if you can’t share it with your workforce, it becomes utterly useless.

Sometimes you can kill two birds with one stone. Some workforce management software offers the ability to not just schedule work time but actual tasks. This is helpful because you can track the things that need to get done daily but might be forgotten, such as mopping underneath the coffee machine, not just cleaning it after a shift.

Know the Facts

Here’s a breakdown of facts in a very simple way: Poor Scheduling = Unhappy Employees and High Turnover. According to a recent CAP study, it costs about $3,328 to find, hire and train an employee paid $10 an hour for a retail position.

After investing that money into an employee, most companies would want to keep them for a little while to maximize their profit. However, the Hay Group, which performed another study, found the average turnover rate for part-time retail employees was 67 percent. Ouch. One of the big reasons retail industries have such a high turnover is because of scheduling.

Now, most people who work in retail know they’ll have to work weekends, and guess what. Most are okay with that. The reason people leave is because they are bored, and that’s in any industry, not just retail. There are various reasons for why you could experience high turnover, but chances are, if you’re hiring the right people, there’s something you could do better as an employer to keep employees happy and coming to work.

Bring Incentives on Board

Who doesn’t love a good incentive? Even if you’re the boss at your company or in your department, you still probably love incentives. Want to know who else loves incentives? Employees. Positive reinforcements do wonders for a workplace. Creating a happy atmosphere or a positive culture in your workplace doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive, for that matter.

When it comes to scheduling and attendance, some companies struggle with employees being late to work, especially if it’s an early shift. When people are late, even by five minutes, it impacts the productivity of the company. To incentivize people to not hit snooze and to arrive at work on time, give everyone $25 in monopoly money at the beginning of the month.

For every two minutes they are late in the morning, they have to give you one dollar in monopoly money back. At the end of the month, if they kept all of their money, they receive a $25 bonus on their check. And while that may not seem like much, that’s basically a Planet Fitness gym membership AND Spotify for free. It’s the little things in life, really.

Scheduling isn’t only about making sure you have warm bodies present. It’s about really honing in on what your employees can do, keeping them engaged, and letting them learn new things without getting burned out.

Schedule Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “5 Ways to Tackle Scheduling Your Employees” was first published on Small Business Trends

Carl’s Jr. Flees California Over High Taxes

california business tax

U.S. politicians often profess a desire to champion small businesses — and businesses in general.  The economic development and job creation they bring are important.

But what promotes small businesses often promotes larger ones too — things like lower taxes and fewer regulations. And the reverse is also true. High taxes and too many regulations can cause businesses to flee.

Policy makers who doubt this, need do nothing more than look at the departure of Burger King to Canada. Though, Burger King denies it, the fact that Canada’s corporate tax rate is 15 percent versus 35 percent in the U.S. was probably a factor, reports Slate.

Also, by moving to Canada, Burger King will be able to escape paying U.S. taxes on profits made abroad.

But more recently, another example of a business fleeing — this time from one state to another — should be a reminder to local leaders of how local taxes and regulations can either encourage or discourage businesses, large or small.

California Business Tax

California has many pluses for businesses, but the California business tax rate is not one of them. The Tax Foundation ranks the state 48 out of 50 in its State Business Tax Climate Index.

The index ranks states on five areas of taxation that affect businesses.  California has one of the highest tax rates in the country. And businesses are apparently looking for better alternatives.

So the recent announcement that Carl’s Jr., a fast food chain established in the state for more than 70 years, is packing up and moving its headquarters to Nashville should not come as a total surprise. However, the parent company, CKE Restaurants, said the relocation was made because it doesn’t need as much office space and is consolidating its operation with its other brand, Hardee’s.

Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s are basically the same chain, except they operate in different parts of the country, with Carl’s taking up most of the western states and Hardee’s, the Eastern ones. The headquarters of both brands are also in different states, with Carl’s Jr. in California and Hardee’s based in Missouri — until the consolidation moves both headquarters to Nashville, that is.

And the taxes in California may not be the only reason for the move. CKE Restaurants CEO Andy Puzder told the Wall Street Journal in 2013, “California is not interested in having businesses grow.”

The article points out that many factors, including local building regulations, make one community less desirable than another for businesses.

For example, it takes 60 days in Texas, 63 in Shanghai, and 125 in Novosibirsk, Russia for one of CKE’s restaurants to get a building permit after signing a lease. But in Los Angeles, Ca. it takes a whopping 285 days.

Puzder added, “I can open up a restaurant faster on Karl Marx Prospect in Siberia than on Carl Karcher Boulevard in California.” The street in California is ironically named for the restaurant chain’s founder.

California’s labor regulations may also play a role in a company’s desire to seek alternative locations. In that same interview with WSJ, Puzder said his company had spent $20 million in the state over the past eight years on damages and attorney fees related to class-action lawsuits.

So what makes Nashville so attractive? According to Kiplinger, the city is very affordable, and the cost of doing business is also low. The city’s cost of doing business is 5.1 percent below the national average across industries. And for corporations, costs are 13.2 percent below average.

Fast food restaurants don’t have the greatest margin when it comes to profits in the first place. There is fierce competition, and each penny impacts the bottom line. Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s will save a considerable amount by moving to Nashville. With a combined 3,400 restaurants around the world, both have to pursue every opportunity to save money.

Image: Hardee’s Restaurants

This article, “Carl’s Jr. Flees California Over High Taxes” was first published on Small Business Trends

Beyond Periscope: Powerful Live Streaming Platforms From YouTube and Facebook

If you stream live on Periscope, chances are you’ve got a wish list of enhancements you want, and you wanted them yesterday. Small Business Trends spoke with Ryan Steinolfson and took a closer look at YouTube, which already has a number of active new functions available to its live broadcasters, including monetization.

Other YouTube options include inviting others to create streams that appear on your channel live, assigning moderators, adding your best links in real-time into more than one section, and more. Below you’ll also learn what Facebook Live is up to.

* * * * *

Ryan-Steinolfson-YouTube-Periscope-Facebook-Live

Ryan Steinolfson (pictured above and below), also known as “Periscope Ryan”, is a business and branding strategist, digital marketer, public speaker, action sports enthusiast and live streaming “gadget guy.” Small Business Trends first met Steinolfson at the Periscope Community Summit in 2015 (now known as Summit.Live) and chatted again on a video call about what’s coming up and what’s already available in the live streaming world.

Small Business Trends: Let’s talk about YouTube’s live streaming capabilities. You said there are plenty. Are they useful to small businesses?

Ryan Steinolfson: Yes, even right now, there are powerful things a business can do live on YouTube. With a little practice, you can enhance how you communicate with your viewers through customizable overlays, transitions, thumbnails, lower-thirds, and more. When I change a thumbnail, it gives me the power to choose what shows up when someone searches.

Cards on YouTube are very powerful. There are a few types. They’ll actually play on the viewer’s side and can be dropped in at any time. You can have a card take someone directly to your website, or even encourage people to pay you by adding Fan Funding cards.

On YouTube, I can even give other people my server info and private stream key. So we can now have a channel created around a certain topic and invite other people to stream great content into it. And they can do it all through their phones.

I’ve redirected RyanS.Live to my Watch Page which will let my followers see me when I go live. They can engage with me by typing comments on the side as they watch. We can now easily turn viewers into moderators where they can oversee real-time chat and respond on my behalf. They can even drop fully clickable links into the chat section. You can even use third-party apps to stream such as Wirecast Go or Live:Air Solo.

Think of YouTube’s Stream Now function as an ongoing conversation that allows a permanent title, categories, keyword optimization, website URL and more. When you Stream Now, you’re using the same pre-set description, title and categories every single time. I’ve actually stopped a Stream and learned that if you don’t save to end it, you can actually jump back in the Stream later on and just continue where you left off. And that’s totally different than what we’re used to doing on Periscope. Keep in mind that Stream Now is still in beta.

Live Streaming Platforms

Small Business Trends: I wasn’t aware YouTube allowed that many options. What about Facebook? I’m certain they’re hoping to make live streaming a mainstream part of daily life. Will Facebook offer something to its users that’s not currently available on Periscope?

Ryan Steinolfson: Keep your eye on Facebook Live’s call-to-action buttons. And at the Mobile World Congress a few weeks ago, Mark Zuckerberg went on stage to say virtual reality will be “the most social” and how it’s quickly evolving. He went on to say that Facebook and Samsung are in a partnership to bring you the ability to stream live along with the Samsung Gear VR headset and the Galaxy S7 flagship smartphone. And I expect to see YouTube giving everyone the ability to live stream in 360 degrees this year. YouTube has been working on this technology for the past two years, quietly behind the scenes.

Small Business Trends: What else are you up to and where can people find out more?

Ryan Steinolfson: I’m helping brands and organizations learn live streaming via a one-day intensive bootcamp with Cathy Hackl in August. You can find out more about that at LiveVideoCampus.com. It will be in San Diego. I’m on Periscope and Twitter as @RyanSteinolfson and I can be found at RyanSteinolfson.com or Accelerateyourmarketing.com.

Live Streaming Platforms

 

Images: Ryan Steinolfson, Katch.me

This article, “Beyond Periscope: Powerful Live Streaming Platforms From YouTube and Facebook” was first published on Small Business Trends

Automotive Insights Report Launched by Bing

Automotive Insights Report

Whether you own a small auto dealership or are trying to sell the company van, there’s no way to ignore online and mobile marketing these days as two critical channels for connecting with customers.

According to the Bing Ads Automotive Insights for Digital Marketers report (PDF) conducted by Accenture, 40 percent of Americans narrow down their choice of cars to one or two based on the information they get online. Only four percent rely solely on a dealer’s recommendations. Meanwhile, 29 percent of automobile buyers do visit a dealer but then do additional Web-based research before making a final decision.

Forty-four percent of these customers research brands, prices and user reviews before ever setting foot in a dealership. Twenty-one percent conduct background checks on used vehicles online too.

Automotive Insights

And what kinds of  automobiles are these online shoppers researching?

Well, the Bing Ads report suggests that the online search for SUVs is the highest, accounting for 45 percent of total automobile queries. Next highest on the list is the search for sedans at 20 percent, the report indicates.

And when consumers look for a vehicle online, where do they start their search? About half the searches for online vehicles are for online marketplaces like Cars.com or Cragslist Cars — so it would help if they could find your listings there too.

It would also help if your listing is mobile friendly, the report indicates. Fourteen percent of shoppers primarily use their smartphones for car research. In fact, the report suggests 7 out of 10 smartphone users shop for vehicles this way. Obviously, this is a huge market to consider.

Other study findings suggest not only the importance of online information during the car purchasing process. It also hints at the form that information should take. Prospective customers say they are interested in getting more tailored information on vehicles when doing online research, the study says. Customers would also like more virtual demonstrations and more sites that provide an opportunity for comparison shopping. Images are also important, the study says.

The report clearly shows the increased importance of digital marketing in the automobile market. The results also point towards the fact that consumers are in complete control of the automobile buying process in the present day.

Car Dealer Lot Photo via Shutterstock

Infographic: Bing Ads

This article, “Automotive Insights Report Launched by Bing” was first published on Small Business Trends