Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Bird Sitting on a Tree

"A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because her trust is not on the branch but on its own wings. Always believe in yourself." --- Unknown

This couldn't be more true in business. There is a tendency to worry about every little aspect of your business. And, as the founder (and sometimes sole employee) you SHOULD worry about all aspects of your business. But, you also need to have faith. It isn't the deal falling through that will kill your business. It isn't the employee who doesn't live up to your expectations that will make you falter. It isn't even the legal snafu that will destroy you.

It is your inability to react to these things that will keep your business from succeeding. Sometimes, branches break. You have to be able to fly when it happens.

There is a second meaning to this saying. Never stop learning! It is your ability to fly that will save you from a thousand different problems that arise.

Keep learning and have faith in yourself, and you...like the bird...will land on your feet no matter how many branches fall from beneath your feet. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Don't Be the Cause of Email Overload!

I can speak from experience. Long-winded emails are the stuff of horror stories...and in this case it is I who am the perpetrator! Ask my partners. They will gladly tell you.

And, of course, in the blame game I would have pointed the finger at them. "You guys didn't read the email I sent! It was packed full of information!"

The key here is "packed." Even I don't want to go back and read them for some tidbit of information. In the end, it all came down to me.

But, I've learned my lesson. Behold! The end of causing email overload!

1) Keep them short 
There are a number of issues with email these days, but the biggest issue is size. There are quite a few reasons for this, but I believe the biggest is that we use email to solve issues. Not only do we try to solve problems with email, but we often use email to call attention to a problem that only we are aware of!

This is counter-productive. For one reason, communication is not what you say, but what the other person perceives. And for anyone to perceive what you're throwing, they need to actually read it. Let's be honest: How many of you read those half page emails you get? I see that my partners are not raising their hands. Truth is, neither am I. Even with the best intentions, what usually happens is that I promise to read it later and then I never get to it. In the meantime, I will read about 40 Twitter posts!

So, keep your email short. Really short. Two to five sentences short! There's no reason for anyone to skim a short email. It's SHORT! People will read an email with a couple lines in it. And if those lines are important (and if they aren't, you shouldn't send the email) then you are more likely to get your point across.

2) Titles matter 
Title your emails and people will have less trouble finding something that they need to refer to. A friend of mine has most of her information in the title of her emails.

To: Geraud Staton
From: Laura Harnish
Subject: Let's get a drink on Tuesday the 24th
Body: You free?

Just like that. And if I ever need to to remember when we scheduled drinks, I can just type in a search for "drinks" in the subject line.

It's the same in business. If you need to schedule a meeting, put the title in the subject line of the email. Everyone will know what they are about to read, and everyone will actually read it.

3) Keep it to one topic 
Notice that I'm not telling you to limit the number of emails you send. Just the breadth of them. That means that if you have 3 topics to broach, then keep them separate. The more topics in an email, the larger it's going to get and the less likely your target is going to read it. If you need to find out about a due date, give information about the company meeting, and introduce the new employee, then do it in 3 separate, short emails. They will all more likely get read and your team will actually be more informed!

Got any other tips? We'd love to hear them

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

3 Ways to Keep Your Meetings Short

Unless you are a sole proprietor, most startups hold a lot of meetings. Everyone needs to stay on page with one another, there are a thousand things that need to be done and reviewed, and there are a lot of decisions to make. In the business world, communication is key!

Sometimes, unfortunately, communication gets muddied. Meetings are often ineffective. Yet, we don't have many choices. It's still the best way to communicate, and there are few things more important than communication.

So, how can you make your meetings more effective? How do you limit "death by meetings" that so many employees and managers go through? Here are a few simple tips that may help:

1) Keep Meetings Short...Even if it Means Having More of Them 
If you can keep your meetings short, then you force yourself to get to the point. Set a time at the outset of your meeting and be sure to stick to it. The best amount of time depends on what you need to discuss and where people are coming from.

Are you all in the same building? Then a 15 minute meeting is perfect. You can have two or three meetings per day if you must, but keep them all short and focused.

Do you need to travel in order to meet? You'll be holding fewer meetings, but they can still remain short. Hold a 30 minute meeting.

2) Keep "Catching Up" Until the End
A lot of meetings, especially those between people who don't work in the same office, tend to start with catching up and socializing. This is natural, but it can take quite awhile to get on track. In fact, it can take as long as 23 minutes to get back on track after a typical distraction. And that assumes you only have yourself to worry about. Get 2, 3 or 4 people all distracted with one another and you've got a meeting that will never get started.

Save the socializing until the end of your meeting. It allows you to stay on track and to handle your business faster so that you can socialize without worry.

3) Handle Things BEFORE You Get to the Meeting 
A typical reason for holding meetings is to determine the status of a particular project or task. If that information can be seen before you arrive at the meeting, then time can be saved rather than rehashing it. For example, Helius uses Insightly. Our partners update their projects, tasks and contacts. At any time, we can go through the Project list and review what is happening. Then, the only time we need to discuss the project is when one of us need help with an issue or when we have a decision to make.

By using Google Drive, Insightly, Salesforce, and various other programs, you can easily review where a project lies. Then, you don't have to spend a great deal of time reviewing that.

Can you drop your meetings times? Have other ways of figuring it out? Let us know. We'd like to know.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

3 Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs

There are more entrepreneurs out there than most of us know. Unfortunately, we won't hear about many of them. However, there are traits that differentiate many successful entrepreneurs from the rest of the pack. It takes a lot to be successful out there, but you can't do it without these traits,

1) There is no shut-off valve
If you plan on working until 5 and then turning if off for the day, you may not find the success of many entrepreneurs out there. It isn't that you have to keep your nose in your business day in and day out, but you have to think about it constantly. More importantly, you have to enjoy thinking about it. People don't turn off thinking about their loved ones or enjoying hobbies that they have. Your business is a large part of your life. You chose it. You should love it. If you don't, and you feel that you can only think about it for so many hours in the day, then you won't succeed like the person who loves thinking about their business, even at 11pm.

2) Learn constantly 
There is a lot to know when starting and running a business. The moment you decide to limit anything, including the time you think about your business (see above) you set yourself up to fail. Some would argue that knowledge is even more important than time. You need to be constantly learning about your industry, about your customers, about the role you've chosen within the company...and did I mention learning about your customers?

Because there's no way for you to know it all, you also should surround yourself with smart people. There is no room for pride in this. You do not need to be the smartest person in the room. If you are, odds are good that you aren't growing. Find mentors, interview people who do what you're doing, and read everything you can get your hands on.

3) Rethink what I just said about "pride" 
As an entrepreneur, people are going to question your choices all the time. You have to be confident in what you want and in the business you are creating. It is not uncommon for people to turn away from a course of action when doubters surround you. The hard thing with entrepreneurship is that many people don't understand it. And so, they question. Sometimes aggressively. But, you chose this life for a reason. You chose your business because you knew it could do some good in the world. You have to be secure enough in what you're doing that doubters do not sway you.

This does not mean that you should strive to always be right. There are people you should listen to. That's why you keep smart people around you at all times. But, you also have to know how to stick to your guns. If you can't, you and your business are destined to failure.

Have any more tips on how to be successful with your small business? Share them in the comments. We'd all love to hear them.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Helius is Coming!

We are very proud to announce our upcoming official opening of Helius, LLC. We are currently working closely with Bull City Forward, and UDI Community Development Center to secure a location for our classes and coaching sessions. We're hoping to secure things as soon as possible.

We'll be announcing our grand opening very soon, and we'll be sure to invite as many of you as can make it. Until then, take the time to learn a little more about what we do by going to our website at www.HeliusNC.com

We look forward to serving you.