April 2024

6 Guiding Principles Behind Every Successful Company

6 Guiding Principles Behind Every Successful Company

6 Guiding Principles Behind Every Successful Company


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

A search for “formula for company success” on Amazon yields almost a thousand results, primarily consisting of self-help books. While I don’t claim that I have discovered the elusive formula, I believe certain characteristics can aid in achieving success, which I identified after analyzing the top companies currently active in the market.

I’m the founder of a deep tech company that is trying to push the limits of what is possible in the field of computers. For me, following these principles is crucial to achieving this ambitious goal. Yet, I’m sure these principles are not exclusive to any one field or industry and can be applied to any business willing to prioritize and use them as tools for development.

Related: 5 Key Leadership Principles for Driving Growth

Elegance

Elegance goes beyond mere aesthetics; it is the embodiment of beauty in every facet of a company. What does beauty consist of? Honestly, everything. If the founder wants to ensure the elegance of their product, they should pay attention to the structure that should be observed in every process of interaction with their company. Those may range from the way your employees present themselves at networking events or in-store to the speed with which your support team assists customers. Not only will this provide your brand with consistency, but it will also become more appealing because, after all, humans are aesthetic creatures.

When you think of elegant products or packaging, I’m sure one of the brand names that comes to mind is Apple. From the logo to the in-store decor, elegance is evident in every aspect of the brand’s efforts. In your business, the aspects of elegance are definitely different from theirs, but their role is the same.

Focus on goals and values

Focusing on the result is especially important for tech companies, particularly those developing new tech, as it allows them to deliver on their promises to both themselves and their customers. Most importantly, it allows them to focus on only those aspects that are truly important and relevant to their ultimate goal. To achieve this, detailed planning is required, where the most optimal path is selected from thousands of possible options. Moreover, prior to any action taken, it should involve thousands of hours of research, hypothesis testing, and more, but it all must contribute to the company’s goals.

According to Gartner’s 2019 Product Manager Survey, only 55% of new products are launched on time, and the other 45% are delayed by at least a month. This underscores the importance of the founders not only setting realistic goals but also communicating them clearly both to your customers and employees. Additionally, the company should not stray from its original purpose and should always keep its eye on the end goal. In order to stay on track, some things should be prioritized, such as good time management, both in your life and in your business, or for example, preparing contingency plans in advance. You can use these tools to ensure proactive and adaptive responses to unforeseen obstacles to ensure a smooth, or at least stable, ride to success.

Initiating and igniting

While it is important to keep up with the market and its latest developments, it is crucial to use this information to create new trends instead of simply following the existing ones. To follow this approach, business owners should create and keep in mind a clear picture of how their businesses differentiate themselves from their competitors, allowing them to have a shot at becoming industry leaders. The problem with utilizing trends as a foundation for a company is that the trend cycle inevitably leads to obsolescence.

Netflix is a prime example of this. It originated as a DVD-by-mail service in 1998, just one year after DVD players were introduced in the U.S. before they became an essential part of every household. The company not only competed against Blockbuster, the largest rental chain at the time, but also revolutionized the rental process by introducing a new way for consumers to interact with their services, introducing a subscription model in 1999. Netflix entered the year 2000 with only 300,000 subscribers, now this number is up to 247.2 million. Why? Because they were able to come up with an idea for a truly unique service.

Pursuit of excellence

One of the greatest enemies of any entrepreneur’s long-term success is these three words: “That will do.” This phrase not only affects you as an entrepreneur, undermining your abilities and limiting your potential success, but it also affects every single facet of your business. The pursuit of excellence doesn’t entail that you shouldn’t attempt to release anything until everything is perfect, but it does suggest that whatever you can do should be done to the best quality possible.

The strive for perfection, or rather the lack of it, is the reason the above-mentioned DVD rental chain now has only one store left in the U.S. When the market began expanding and Netflix entered the game, Blockbuster had the opportunity to acquire it, but passed on it arguing that Netflix was a too-niche business. Blockbuster’s opposition to online streaming and the fact that it was stagnant and content with the unchanged while an entirely new industry was evolving prevented it from innovating.

Related: 5 Key Leadership Principles for Driving Growth

Embracing challenges

Given that technology has advanced more in the past two centuries than at any other time in human history, the possibilities for further development and creation are endless. It is not uncommon to encounter a myriad of problems when creating something new, especially in the beginning. However, a business owner shouldn’t avoid working on a unique product or service simply because of the issues it may present and to search for innovative solutions.

As obvious as it may seem, the easiest way to approach a challenge is through hypothesis testing. Whenever you are faced with seemingly impossible problems, it is of utmost importance not to be intimidated by them, as this can lead to stagnation or the inability to deliver the promised product or service. By using hypothesis testing, one can generate and test dozens of possible solutions to avoid stagnation and initiate progress. Not only does this expand the range of feasible solutions, but it also allows the company to create a truly great product or service because you will be able to accomplish something no one has ever done.

Positive impact

In the 21st century, it is essential to prioritize more than just profit, especially at a time when we are experiencing such a rapid escalation of climate change and other worrying events. We are at the pinnacle of technological development, and it would be irresponsible not to use it to improve the world around us or at least try to preserve it for future generations.

As a founder of a tech company, I often pay attention to this detail and believe that a positive impact is essential when it comes to running such a company and that those who have a genuine urge to make the world a better and safer place have a real chance of creating a thriving business. Of course, this principle is not exclusive to one industry only; for example, food delivery and ride-hailing services have a better chance of succeeding if they are inclusive and convenient to all. Remember, if you have an opportunity to impact the world with your business, there are hundreds if not thousands of options available, especially today.



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This Set of Chef’s Knives Is Nearly 0 Off

This Set of Chef’s Knives Is Nearly $300 Off

This Set of Chef’s Knives Is Nearly 0 Off


Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

Cooking at home can be great for busy professionals because it’s budget-friendly, easier to stay healthy, and meditative. Whether you’re a home cook or an entrepreneur on the hunt for a unique gift that could stand out to a colleague, potential business partner, or friend, this limited-time deal is well worth checking out.

This Seido Japanese Master Chef’s 8-Piece Knife Set comes with a gift box and is on sale for $109.97 (reg. $429). These high-quality knives are made with very durable and strong high-carbon stainless steel. Their forged construction incorporates a sloped bolster and acute 15° angles (compared to the typical 25° seen more commonly with Western knives).

This set includes the following knives:

  • 8″ chef’s knife
  • 8″ slicing knife
  • 8″ bread knife
  • 7″ cleaver
  • 7″ Santoku knife
  • 5″ Santoku knife
  • 6″ boning knife
  • 3.5″ paring knife

To add an air of high-class presentation to this deal, it also comes with a stylish gift box that can securely store the knives for travel or passing on to a business partner.

This set has an impressive 4.6/5 star average rating among verified purchasers. One recent perfect five-out-of-five star review reads, “Affordable price. Excellent workmanship. Fast shipment. Overall, great product that’s hard to beat.”

Discover the quality of a high-end set of knives to improve your home cooking, or gift them to someone you work with.

This Seido™ Japanese Master Chef’s 8-Piece Knife Set comes with a gift box and is on sale for $109.97 (reg. $429).

StackSocial prices subject to change.



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Stay Locked In and Accessible with These Open-Ear Headphones, Marked Down

Stay Locked In and Accessible with These Open-Ear Headphones, Marked Down $40

Stay Locked In and Accessible with These Open-Ear Headphones, Marked Down


Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

Plenty of business leaders and entrepreneurs rely on headphones to zone in with music and take calls throughout a given workday. At the same time, if you’re totally inaccessible with noise-canceling over-ear headphones, that might not make your employees or colleagues feel like they can access you when they need to.

There’s a different type of headphone technology that could be a good middle ground. For a limited time only, you can get these Mercato Open-Ear Bluetooth Headphones for $39.95 (reg. $69) with code GET10.

This is the best price online for these headphones. They work by sitting on top of the ear, allowing the user to hear and interact with the outside world while also saving their inner ears from noise damage. Designed to provide pain-free listening and lasting comfort, the Mercato Open-Ear Bluetooth Headphones have an ergonomic design that loops over the ear.

While an unusual and seemingly indirect design, the Mercatos promise to deliver premium sound with a deep base and a wide range. They’re great for workouts and running outside, so you can stay attuned to the fast-changing environment around you. An IPX5 water-resistant build also makes these headphones ideal for the outdoor adventurer.

Great for wearing at the office and on business trips, the headphones have a lengthy battery life of six hours per full charge. And while they do allow you to access the outside world, they also have dual noise-canceling mics to keep your calls professional and clean.

Don’t forget that you can get these Mercato Open-Ear Bluetooth Headphones for $39.95 (reg. $69) with code GET10.

StackSocial prices subject to change.



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Gear up for Summer Camping with  Off This Power Bank Flashlight

Gear up for Summer Camping with $22 Off This Power Bank Flashlight

Gear up for Summer Camping with  Off This Power Bank Flashlight


Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

Summer is almost here and spending time outdoors is known to ease stress and anxiety and enhance cognition. If you plan on spending some time in the great outdoors with clients, employees, or family, you should make sure you have the right tools. We’re not talking about tents and camping stoves; we’re talking about emergency tools, like this Outdoor Flashlight with Flame Simulator & 2400mAh Power Bank.

This light can keep your devices powered up, which keeps you reachable and able to handle any potential work emergencies. It also has a cool LED screen that simulates a campfire to add to the fun.

Most importantly, this outdoor flashlight provides ultra-bright LED lighting to give you visibility at night. The fireplace simulator mode also adds some light, with an adjustable flame setting that helps set the ambiance and provides some additional visibility while mimicking a real fire.

The durable flashlight is made with COB technology to provide a bright and even light output and is rechargeable via a USB-C charger or via solar panels during the day. It can last for up to 24 hours on a single charge and is built to withstand all weather conditions.

And perhaps best of all, it features a compact, portable design that makes it easy to pack in your car or carry in your backpack. Whether you’re going fully off the grid or just spending a night in the backyard with the family, it will come in handy.

Gear up for summer entertaining and fun.

Right now, you can get this Outdoor Flashlight with Flame Simulator and 2400mAh Power Bank for just $39.99, a 36% savings from the original price of $62.

StackSocial prices subject to change.



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Get This Powerful Refurbished Lenovo Mini Desktop for Just 0 Through April 30

Get This Powerful Refurbished Lenovo Mini Desktop for Just $180 Through April 30

Get This Powerful Refurbished Lenovo Mini Desktop for Just 0 Through April 30


Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

Many small-business owners consider lack of capital and cash flow their biggest concern. Buying refurbished products in good condition can go a long way to mitigating both of those problems, and one of the best moves is to get a powerful business computer at almost half its original cost. Right now, the price of an A-grade refurbished Lenovo ThinkCentre M900 mini desktop has dropped to $179.97 through 11:59 PM PT on April 30, with no coupon required.

This M900 Tiny has a 2.2GHz Intel® Core™ i5-6500T processor and 16GB RAM, which means you can keep multiple applications running simultaneously without lagging. The 256GB SSD is big enough to store all the office and media files you need and fast enough to access them quickly.

Windows 10 Pro is already installed, so you can access any program you want without any complications. The M900 also comes with Lenovo Smart Meeting Room Solution and Intel Unite, so you can wirelessly connect securely to a meeting room display with either your laptop or a tablet without having to hunt for the right connector.

At 7″ x 7.2″ x 1.4″, this ThinkCentre M900 has an exceptionally small footprint, so it will take up very little of your workspace. However, it also has support for mounts if you’d prefer it out of the way. There are ten ports: two for displays, six USB 3.0, a VGA, and a LAN. In addition to the M900, you’ll get a keyboard, mouse, AC adapter, and Wi-Fi dongle.

This 2015 ThinkCentre M900 refurbished grade “A” means it’s in near-mint condition, with only very minimal to zero scuffing on its case. Plus, you get the reassurance of a third-party one-year aftermarket parts and labor warranty. Also, remember that buying refurbished products is eco-friendly, so you’re helping the planet and your business.

Get this refurbished Lenovo ThinkCentre M900 Tiny Core for $179.97 (reg. $349) through 11:59 PM PT on April 30.

StackSocial prices subject to change.



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Your Clients Could Be Using AI to Clone Your Business Without Your Consent — Wiping Out Your Business in Minutes

Your Clients Could Be Using AI to Clone Your Business Without Your Consent — Wiping Out Your Business in Minutes

Your Clients Could Be Using AI to Clone Your Business Without Your Consent — Wiping Out Your Business in Minutes


Tackle AI’s toughest questions with Ben Angel, mapping the business terrain for 20 years. Master the AI landscape and reach peak productivity and profits with insights from his latest work, “The Wolf is at The Door — How to Survive and Thrive in an AI-Driven World.” Click here to download your ‘Free AI Success Kit‘ and get your free chapter from his latest book today.



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Elon Musk Defines Ultra-Hard Work While Building a Company

Elon Musk Defines Ultra-Hard Work While Building a Company

Elon Musk Defines Ultra-Hard Work While Building a Company


Elon Musk founded Tesla, SpaceX, xAI, Neuralink and other companies and consistently ranks among the top three richest people in the world. But his recent conversation with another powerful CEO shows the price Musk had to pay to achieve wealth — and the management and mindset strategies he employs now to build successful companies.

Musk explained how he defined ultra-hard work to Nicolai Tangen, CEO of $1.6 trillion Norges Bank, the world’s largest wealth fund, on an April episode of Tangen’s podcast, In Good Company.

Ultra-hard work happens when “you’re basically just working every waking hour,” Musk said.

When asked how long he could do that, Musk replied that he’d done it “continuously” for a few years at a time.

Elon Musk. Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

“I’ve done many, many stretches of 100-hour weeks, where roughly six hours per day is sleeping,” Musk said. “I would not recommend that. That’s for emergencies.”

Musk put in those 100-hour weeks during difficult times at Tesla and in the early days of some of his startups, when he said he slept under his desk and worked seven days a week.

Related: ‘Americans Just Work Harder’ Than Europeans, Says the CEO of Norges Bank, the World’s Largest Wealth Fund

Musk also discussed overseeing hard workers on the podcast, stating that smart people tend to manage themselves and can work anywhere. His strategy is to outline a common goal and ask them if they agree with it. If they do, they can get it done.

When Tangen asked how Musk balanced micromanagement with delegation, he claimed he wouldn’t call his style “micromanagement.”

“It’s just insisting on attention to detail,” Musk said. “If you’re trying to make a perfect product, attention to detail is essential.”

Related: Elon Musk Says Remote Workers Have ‘Marie Antoinette Vibes’

Musk’s last tactic for building successful companies might be his mindset toward his own impact.

When asked how he would want to be remembered, Musk said he doesn’t mind if his legacy is inaccurate as long as he feels like he’s “done the right thing for the future of consciousness.”

Musk is the CEO of Tesla, which he stated this week is on track to produce new, more affordable electric cars even as revenue dipped year over year.

Related: Elon Musk Tells Investors Cheaper Tesla Electric Cars Should Arrive Ahead of Schedule



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Why It’s More Productive to Have Fewer Meetings

Why It’s More Productive to Have Fewer Meetings

Why It’s More Productive to Have Fewer Meetings


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Many people who have heard the adage ‘work smart, not hard’ may think my claim here is tip-toeing around this idea and echoing this sentiment, but they would be wrong. As the nature of work continues to undergo intense scrutiny, primarily focused on the ‘where,’ debates surrounding the frequency and necessity of workplace meetings have also surged. This topic is now discussed in significant volume, and rightly so. In 2024, we have many opportunities to change productivity, creativity and employee satisfaction. There is a compelling case for working teams to have far fewer meetings, which I buy into heavily. Let me tell you why.

Related: 5 Ways to Make Sure Your Meetings Are Worth Attending

The cost of excessive meetings

The cost of putting people through excessive meetings is first up. At the core of most working teams, leaders and bosses are usually quite tentative about the set-up of teams and the expenses they incur. Having meetings is something that most see as a productive, progressive task, and therefore, often slips under the radar when it comes to culling unnecessary and costly activities. However, current research and personal experience tell me that it should not. Research highlights a trend where excessive meetings can detract significantly from productivity. Specifically, a study conducted by Harvard Business Review found a pretty substantial increase of 71% in employee productivity and satisfaction when meeting frequencies were reduced by 40%.

So, not only do you boost your team’s output when you reduce meetings, but you also get more bang for your buck with your personnel. It is extremely common that not every meeting section will apply to every attendee and their workflow, and therefore, people find themselves twiddling their thumbs and listening to colleagues present work out of politeness to them and the meeting leader.

Could this time be spent better elsewhere? Almost certainly. Could the information be delivered in a better, more targeted manner? Definitely.

As mentioned at the start, there are opportunities to deliver information more efficiently than within a meeting, arising with new technologies, such as Slack, Notion or Bubbles. Don’t waste the time of your colleagues in inapplicable meetings and the money you spend on their salaries. Instead, discuss what needs to be discussed in the meeting, and continue that meeting conversation asynchronously with a tool like the aforementioned, keeping the details and context of the information delivered, but in a more efficient way.

Related: Get the Most Out of Remote Meetings and Avoid Meeting Burn Out

The psychological and operational impact

Not everything is about cost, and in fact, many bosses would prioritize operational brilliance over some extra spending. Therefore, we must look at how this claim sits within the operational side of things. I want to dig deeper into the statistics just covered to question whether this is just an anomaly and the preference of a select few or whether the vast majority believe reduced meetings will positively affect their workplace operations.

I have noticed and heard from my team members that meeting less allows them to feel more autonomous and less micromanaged, meaning they hold themselves more accountable for getting work done.

We experience that working alone boosts the possibility of deep focus too, something essential in creative roles. We find that tuning in for a team meeting to discuss a larger chunk of either completed or blocked work means that we operate at optimal efficiency with increased output. As I claimed, this is about making the right decisions with the technologies available to us in 2024.

That was most operational, so let’s deep dive into the psychology. Meetings often lead to what is known as “Meeting Recovery Syndrome,” which is where employees need time to regather their thoughts and mentally recover after frequent, long or chaotic meetings.

Related: Meetings Suck. Here Are 5 Ways to Make Them Suck Less.

Strategic meeting reduction techniques

Now that we have more clarity, let’s look at how your business can optimize their meeting practices:

  • No-Meeting Days: Allow that deep work to take place. Have days where interruptions rarely happen, and let workflows thrive with concentration.
  • Prioritize Agenda-Driven Meetings: Don’t meet if you don’t know why you’re meeting. Annette Catino, CEO of QualCare Alliance Network, put this nicely: “Give me an agenda or else I’m not going to sit there.” Meet better, not more often.
  • Limit Meeting Duration and Size: Amazon uses a two-pizza rule — don’t invite more people than two pizzas can feed. Don’t flood the room and overrun, and you will get more thoughtful input and outcomes.
  • Embrace Technology: Integrate AI tools, meeting management tools and platforms that can automate parts of meetings to maximize efficiency. Don’t waste time doing silly, mundane tasks.

Just like that, you will arrive at the future of meetings. They are set to become more strategic, and instead of being the default communicative method, teams (the good ones) will adopt a more thoughtful approach where they assess the real need for each meeting and the potential value it holds. Don’t fall behind the curve, and from now on, create a culture of meetings being made better, not busier, regardless of whether you are in-person or remote.



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How to Make Money with SEO in 2024

How to Make Money with SEO in 2024

How to Make Money with SEO in 2024


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a crucial part of modern digital marketing and a great skill to learn if you’re trying to make extra money and grow your reputation online. Almost 50% of online shoppers start with a search engine query, which means a business’s search engine position can make or break the company’s bottom line. Even if a store has a brick-and-mortar location, local SEO is important. With 78% of local searches on mobile resulting in an offline purchase, every business today should include local SEO in their strategy.

Once you gain SEO expertise, you can put your skills to work by joining an agency full-time that focuses on SEO, launching your own consulting service, or using your knowledge to take a business’s digital marketing efforts to the next level. In each of these cases, you’ll find great opportunities to make a living.
Many factors determine your income as an SEO expert: education, certifications, work experience and additional skills. However, if you invest the time to become a pro at driving traffic online, you can easily net more than $100,000 annually. So, here’s a look at the ways you can earn money from SEO.

1. Work for an SEO agency

By working at an SEO agency, you’ll not only learn technical skills like website analytics, you’ll also be exposed to business structures that help you develop valuable skills like time management, client pitching and more. You’ll also have an opportunity to learn from senior team members and work with multiple clients. However, drawbacks may include the inability to select your own clients and a more rigid 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule rather than choosing your own hours.

2. Create an ecommerce website and sell products

If you have deep knowledge of ecommerce SEO, you can use search engine optimization to sell physical products through an online marketplace. According to U.S. Census data, ecommerce sales in the U.S. grew by nearly 8% in 2023 compared to the previous year. This trend is expected to continue in 2024.

Start by picking your niche and determining the product you’ll be selling. You can do that by conducting keyword and audience research to understand which terms online shoppers are using and what goods they’re most likely to buy.

For instance, if you find the phrase “stainless steel pasta maker” gets a lot of traction but there aren’t enough companies selling this product, it could be an opportunity to fill that gap. By determining the demand for a particular product or a vacancy in the market, you can reap the benefits.

Make sure you also perform an in-depth SEO competitor analysis, which is how you’ll know what it will take to rank highest for your target keywords. The ecommerce market is booming, which means it could provide meaningful income. But there’s always an element of unpredictability as you look for customers or try to scale your business.

Best practices for ecommerce SEO in 2024

  • Optimize for mobile: Most searches now take place on mobile devices, so optimizing your website and content for mobile users is important. This includes ensuring the website has a responsive design, fast-loading pages and easy navigation.
  • Improve page speed: Page speed is critical to providing a great user experience and improving SEO rankings. The faster the page loads, the higher it will rank.
  • Leverage long-tail keywords: Long-tail keywords are more specific search terms with lower search volumes but higher conversion rates. For example, “buy affordable sneakers online” is more specific than just “sneakers.” Optimizing for these keywords can help businesses reach their target audience.

Monitor metrics regularly: To understand how your SEO strategy is performing, businesses need to monitor their metrics regularly. This includes tracking page views as well as bounce and click-through rates (CTR). The more data businesses have on their website performance, the better they can refine their SEO tactics.

3. Dropshipping other products on your website

Say you’ve launched an ecommerce website and it’s doing well, but now your customers are seeking additional products. Consider dropshipping, in which a third party handles manufacturing, storing inventory and fulfilling orders, most of which are at a wholesale price.

With dropshipping, an individual places an order on your website and you share the order information with your dropshipper. Once the order information is received, the dropshipper fulfills the order and mails the package to the customer.

Dropshipping allows anyone to set up an ecommerce business and focus on marketing and scaling rather than shipping and inventory logistics. It allows you to focus on what you do best: Attracting online customers to make a purchase. However, there are some drawbacks, including lower profit margins, no control over inventory, no control over shipping errors and fewer opportunities to customize or brand your products.

If you choose to use a dropshipper you’ll want to harness your SEO skills, because with lower profit margins you’ll need to attract an even larger volume of customers. Create original and unique product descriptions (instead of copying the same text from the manufacturer’s website) to make the content stand out and ensure you have the right keywords and a personalized tone.

Related: Dropshipping Businesses: How They Work & Steps to Get Started

4. Offer SEO consulting services

Once you’re an expert, you can make money by opening your own SEO consulting shop. If you can help clients increase traffic to their websites, boost sales and meet their business goals, your services will be in high demand.

Some of the SEO services you’ll provide include keyword research and website auditing as well as implementing technical SEO strategies that can be used on various platforms. As a consultant, you’ll also perform competitor analysis and share detailed plans on how to leverage this data, whether that applies to the content strategy, backlink strategy or particular keywords clients are using. Consultants can also recommend frequent content adjustments to account for new search engine algorithm updates.

While working for yourself may sound intimidating, it can be a very lucrative and enjoyable career, especially for someone who already has experience in an SEO agency. The pros include an opportunity to work with clients and brands of your choice, a flexible schedule and an opportunity to grow your own business. The drawbacks of SEO consulting, however, include the stress of managing clients, difficulty finding new leads and clients and the time it takes to develop experience.

5. Start a blog and monetize through ads and affiliates

If you have a well-established blog and are using SEO to drive significant traffic to the site, you can leverage your digital content by hosting sponsored posts and banner ads on your website. Paid ads allow you to earn money based on the amount of traffic you generate, while sponsored content typically involves featuring a particular brand or service for a predetermined rate.

Starting a blog gives you the freedom to choose your niche, whether it’s technology, beauty, fashion or travel, and you get to infuse the content with your own style while building an online community of like-minded individuals. It also provides flexibility, as you can choose your hours to work, and it gives you a lot of creative freedom to experiment with new forms of content. Starting a blog does, however, require significant time and energy in order to produce quality content, and it may be difficult to regularly create engaging posts. Occasionally, you’ll also have to deal with technical issues on the backend of your site.

SEO and CRO

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the practice of increasing the percentage of users who perform a desired action on a website. This action may range from scrolling through the entire page and filling out a form, to adding a product to a wish list or making a purchase. At the heart of CRO is a meaningful action the marketer wants a user to take.

While SEO increases the traffic to your website, CRO helps by making the visits to your site profitable. For example, SEO may help you rank well for the keyword “buy black jeans,” but a good CRO tactic will help you increase your sales percentages by reducing abandoned carts or bounce rates. Here are seven ways to improve your CRO strategy:

  • Boost page load time: Your site is like a car — if it does not start right away, people will leave you stranded and find something faster. If your page is too slow or clunky, it will turn off potential customers.
  • Utilize neurodesign: Neurodesign harnesses the power of psychology and neuroscience to create visually captivating digital products. It does this by studying people’s responses in different situations, like when they land on a website, and determines what triggers will make them more likely to purchase. Publishers like the New York Times have created “eye tests” to evaluate how people react to the positioning of their content.
  • Use dynamic content: You can personalize your customers’ experience by tailoring the website to the user’s needs. Dynamic content responds based on signals such as in-session behavior, user data (e.g., location) and other similar characteristics to deliver relevant information and products.
  • Leverage visual content: Videos increase time on your website. According to the video marketing platform Wistia, people spend an average of six minutes on pages that contain a video, as compared to about four minutes on pages with no dynamic visual content. Keeping people on your site is key to driving conversions.
  • Create quality content with long-tail keywords: According to Statista, nearly 96% of searches on Google have a query with four words or more. The people who make these kinds of searches tend to have higher levels of buying intent, which makes them perfect for targeting with quality content.
  • Consistently optimize web pages and blogs: More traffic often turns into more leads. So, it’s important to always take user feedback, monitor your web pages and improve them or realign them based on user needs.
  • Add strong and relevant CTAs: A call to action is an essential part of any website, the lack of which could mean losing connection with your customers. Eye-catching and well-written CTAs — whether it’s a prompt to follow, subscribe or purchase — will help optimize CRO and attract more traffic back toward the products being showcased.

6. Using PR and SEO

In the past, many business’s brand teams have considered public relations and SEO separately and left SEO to their digital teams. But as the two disciplines grow closer together, brands are starting to see the benefits of integrating them. Here are just three ways this can happen:

Building your brand: Growing your brand is essential. As more people become aware of your business, it will begin to rank higher in search engines, particularly for keywords related to your goals. But SEO alone won’t grow your brand. Public relations efforts including media outreach and partnerships with other businesses are necessary to build awareness.

Links: Backlinks from high ranking, influential websites can also transform your search engine rankings. So, how can you convince other websites to link to yours? This is where public relations comes into play. Compelling storytelling is a major component of PR, which can help you craft blog posts, case studies, or high-quality video content to attract the attention of target brands. In most cases, you will spend some time building a relationship before others backlink to you.

Thought leadership: Becoming recognized as a thought leader in your industry can be transformative for your SEO, as your name will appear on other websites and will become a part of industry public relations. A comprehensive public relations effort will help you present yourself to others as an expert in your field.

7. Keep UX and SEO in mind

Search engines are shifting focus to human behavior and experience, so improving your website’s rankings means you need to focus on your site’s usability. There are several aspects of UX design integrated with SEO best practices, including fast loading times, mobile-friendly use and easy-to-navigate pages with engaging content.

One of the biggest UX signals that Google can measure is bounce rate, which is when a user visits a site from a Google search, doesn’t find what they are looking for and clicks back to Google without having visited any other pages on that website. It’s a clear sign that users are unable to find what they’re looking for. Websites with lower bounce rates are usually doing a better job of helping users find what they’re searching for and often rank higher, typically on the first page of results.

Is SEO still worth it?

Business owners can employ many digital marketing strategies, including social media, email marketing, influencer marketing and pay-per-click (PPC) ads. However, SEO is still one of the best places to focus your efforts for three primary reasons:

  • Low barriers to entry: It’s relatively easy to get started with SEO. Most website builders optimize your website for search engine crawlers by default, and you can find many tools to make it easier to plan and execute your strategy.
  • Strategic flexibility: There’s more than one way to practice SEO. In fact, there’s practically unlimited strategic flexibility here. No matter what your goals are, or what challenges await, you can find a way forward.
  • ROI: Return on investment (ROI) is commonly considered the “gold standard” for measuring digital marketing effectiveness.SEO can have a high ROI, particularly because implementing content-level updates can be done for cheap.

How SEO has changed

SEO has changed in many ways in the past several years, which is why experts are constantly recommending tweaks to businesses strategies. These are just some the biggest changes over the past decade:

  • More competition: Back in the 2000s, SEO was a somewhat obscure strategy known only to a few digital marketers. Today, even people completely outside the marketing community are aware of SEO. This has led to a massive surge in competition, which makes the strategy more difficult for everyone to execute effectively.
  • Stricter quality standards: Most people in the SEO community are familiar with Google’s E-A-T guidelines for content quality, which stands for expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. Google has now added another E for experience and has stepped up its quality evaluation efforts, cracking down on questionable content and link-building practices.
  • Localization: SEO practitioners have heavily invested in more localized efforts, optimizing for local keywords and serving local audiences. These searches have become more popular and more powerful in terms of visibility, and it’s a good way to avoid national competitors.
  • Dependence on user data: Searches have also become more individualized, with search results fluctuating based on individual user data. This has made it more difficult to predict the average user’s search experience, though it has made search results more relevant.

SEO tools

The key to building and sustaining organic traffic is knowing the best SEO tools to leverage for your specific needs . Whether you’re a search engine optimization specialist or just starting to learn how Google works, these are some of the best SEO tools for keyword research, link building, traffic analysis and understanding the competition:

  • SEMrush: One of the most popular SEO analysis options on the market, SEMrush allows you to track paid traffic, social media-driven traffic, desktop and mobile traffic, and more. It also offers a popular keyword research tool.
  • Ubersuggest: This free program lets you gather data related to a keyword or domain name, offering a keyword’s volume, the average cost per click, and the rank difficulty. It also suggests related long-tail keywords and shows the top site rankings for different keywords.
  • Keword.io: Another free SEO checker, Keword.io helps conduct keyword research on a number of different platforms including Google, Amazon, Youtube, Alibaba and Wikipedia. If you’re looking for keywords beyond Google, Keyword.io is a useful starting point.
  • Ahrefs: One of the most comprehensive SEO tools for auditing your website, Ahrefs can crawl every page on your website and create reports for you in a matter of hours.
  • Google: Not only is Google the world’s most popular search engine (with more than 80% of all search market share), it has a suite of free products that help you better understand SEO. With Google Keyword Planner, you can compare keyword analytics and see which words within your industry will resonate best. With Google Search Console, you can see how a website appears in a search, including its frequency and highest performing keywords. Using Google Analytics, you can monitor where your traffic is coming from — search, social media, referral, etc. — and make informed decisions about your SEO strategy.



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How to Know When to Hire Your First Employee

How to Know When to Hire Your First Employee

How to Know When to Hire Your First Employee


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

At some point as an entrepreneur, you’ll face a challenging decision: When is it time to hire your first employee? After incubating the idea of your startup. then deploying your resources and making it all happen, at some point you may realize it’s time to bring someone else in to help you achieve your vision and grow the business. It’s exciting, but at the same time, can be daunting. What if the new hire doesn’t work out? What if you hire too many people or too few?

Entrepreneurs are inherently self-starters and ambitious, and shifting responsibilities to new workers can be difficult – but it’s a necessary step for growth. A company needs support to grow and thrive. You can’t do it all on your own, which makes hiring employees — especially the early ones — a crucial step toward entrepreneurial success. Before you do anything, though, ask yourself: Is this the right time to hire?

Knowing when you shouldn’t hire

Before addressing best practices for hiring, it’s vital to recognize common pitfalls entrepreneurs face when starting to grow their workforce – that starts with knowing when not to hire. Similar to making big life decisions, you should avoid hiring employees out of anxiety or uncertainty. Your choices should be deliberate and strategic. Take a step back and reconsider hiring employees if you find yourself in the following situations:

You’re desperate

If you have more work than you can humanly handle and you just need to get another body behind a desk, it’s tempting to find someone right away. However, a hasty decision born of desperation is rarely a good one. Take the time to find the right person for the job.

You don’t have specific responsibilities for an employee

Unless you have a defined set of tasks and expectations for your new hire, do them a favor and don’t hire anyone. A new hire at this stage will rightfully be confused and ineffective. You may need help, but if you don’t know exactly what that help will look like, consider hiring a coach instead of an employee.

You’ll take anyone

If you’re lucky, the first applicant will be an absolute rockstar who can bring your business to the next level – but that’s not the norm. You’ll learn a lot about yourself, the applicant market and your own position by interviewing more candidates. The variety of skill sets on display can also hone your focus for what your future employee will do.

Hiring your first employee

Hire someone too early and you could have cash flow problems, a worker who has nothing to do and the added stress of management. Hire too late, and you could be inundated with work you can’t accomplish, which could lead to missing deadlines and losing out on business.

Finding the right moment to hire, therefore, can make the difference between a failed enterprise and a successful business. But how do you know when the time is right? The following tips can make this process a little less painful and provide options for making that first hire:

Start with a cofounder

If you’re a solopreneur looking to make that next step, bringing on an employee can be intimidating. Instead, hire a cofounder, or at least someone who thinks like one.When making that first hire, look for someone with cofounder potential and traits, such as complementary skills, similar values and vision, teachability, passion, emotional intelligence, flexibility and honesty. Your first employee will hopefully be one of your longest lasting and most knowledgeable.

Ask yourself: Will these tasks generate money?

It’s been said that the only two purposes of an employee are to: 1) make money for the business, or 2) save money for the business. If you’re confident a new hire will do at least one of those two things, go for it. In the early stage of a company, making money is more important than saving it. Typically, these early roles involve creating products (designers, developers, etc.), marketing products (growth hackers, content marketers, etc.) and supporting products (customer support, help desk, etc.).

Know your desired skill set

Before you search for an employee, you need to know what kind of candidate you’re looking for. It’s not enough to simply know that you “need some help” or “need a developer.” Get specific: You don’t want just a “developer.” You want a Javascript developer with GitHub experience able to create machine learning algorithms with educational applications, for example. The clearer your set of responsibilities are, the more effectively you can hire someone to fulfill those duties r.

Delay the decision by hiring a contractor

You may still be undecided over whether or not it’s time to hire. Don’t sweat it. Instead, test it. Try hiring a contractor with the same set of parameters you’re looking for in a full-time employee. The introductory hassle of onboarding a contractor is relatively low compared to that of hiring an employee. You can create a contract for one month, six months or a year. If it works out, you can transition this person into an official hire or look for a full-time employee.

The differences between hiring freelancers, contractors and employees

The major differences between freelancers, contractors and employees has to do with their relationship with the business owner. Freelancers and contractors are self-employed individuals, while employees are hired by the company. Freelancers and contractors typically set their schedules based on the needs of their clients and work out a payment schedule (typically upon completion of a job).

Employees, on the other hand, work the schedule established by the company and receive a regular paycheck on a schedule set by the company. As a business owner, you’re responsible for tax reporting on your payroll employees. But since freelancers and independent contractors are considered self-employed, they are responsible for reporting their taxes.

So what’s the best decision for your company? It depends on your needs, your resources and your ambitions.

When should you hire a freelancer?

Some people use the terms “freelancer” and “contractor” interchangeably, but there is a difference in the type of professional you are hiring. Freelancers usually work on smaller, short-term projects, while contractors work on larger, more long-term projects.

Freelancers are great options for specific support — for example, bringing on a digital marketer to get your social media up and running. If you’re not financially ready to bring on full-time employees for whom you have to provide employee benefits, a freelance relationship may be a better setup.

When should you hire a contractor?

Contractors generally come with a team of expert professionals who can get you the help you need, whatever it may be. They can handle specialized projects, such as IT, remodels, design and consulting. As your business grows, financial consultants can keep you on track with your financial goals. If you need highly specialized work that requires a team, contracting a company will ensure the job gets done right.

When should you hire an employee?

Not every company needs a large number of employees, but if you hold frequent meetings, rent an office space or interact with customers, you’ll want reliable employees to help support the business. Remember, just because someone looks good on paper doesn’t mean they’re a good fit for your business. They must fit into your company’s culture. Consider bringing on full-time staff if they can make you more money or improve the customer experience.

Why hiring globally might be your best move

The growing popularity of remote work has meant dramatic growth in the pool of available talent. Don’t limit yourself to just domestic workers, though. By hiring workers outside your country, you can save money, increase efficiency and still provide customers with superior service. Consider the following benefits to hiring globally.

A wider talent pool

As unemployment levels drop, the demand for skilled workers rises — especially for roles in software engineering or data science. By looking past your own borders, you can grow your pool of potential employees and have access to a wider swath of workers. For example, Poland, Slovakia and India are renowned for their pool of highly qualified tech professionals available to work remotely for international companies. Tap into this talent network to find the right fit for your company.

Cost efficiencies

Hiring overseas means access to employees who live somewhere with a much lower cost of living, which generally means lower salary expectations. The requirements for compulsory employer contributions and payroll taxes that increase business costs also vary by country. For example, countries like Germany and Japan generally require that employers deduct a certain amount of the employee’s pay for health insurance. But Australia and New Zealand, with public healthcare systems, do not require such employer insurance contributions.

Access to resilient international markets

If you run a growing, ambitious business, you may be eyeing overseas expansion. One of the biggest factors in your success will be having employees familiar with that market. You have a few options for growing an international presence: set up a local entity or subsidiary (abiding by local employment laws) or use an Employer of Record (EOR) solution, in which you designate a third-party company to handle payroll, HR compliance and employee tax withholding.

Compliance benefits

Employer compliance can vary depending on the country, and some are more strict than others. Whether you’re concerned about at-will employment, parental leave allowance or pension contributions, you can hire from countries whose labor laws align with your needs.

24/7 customer support

Customers expect fast and capable support, no matter where they’re based or when they contact the company. With just 9% of customers able to solve business queries on their own, customer service channels are more important than ever. Having staff in multiple international locations and time zones ensures someone will always answer the support line and provide 24/7 support for your customers.

Before you hire globally, though, you should look into any logistical challenges it might create. Despite the many benefits, hiring international talent can lead to internal communication challenges, scheduling conflicts across time zones, cultural differences, and discrepancies in pay scales. While these challenges can be overcome, they’re worth considering before building a continent-spanning workforce.

Related: 10 Pros (and Cons) of Hiring International Employees

Can college students solve your employee needs?

Different hires provide varying solutions for business, and hiring college students can infuse your company with young energy and ambitious workers. Whether you develop an internship program or employ them part time or seasonally, college students are often more affordable to hire than full-time employees and can support your team’s specific needs.

Creating a pipeline between universities and your business could be a worthwhile investment. Students are trying to get their foot in the door, and they can also provide your company with much-needed help. Here are a few benefits of hiring college students:

They bring fresh perspectives and new ideas

College students are at a unique stage in their lives and are just beginning to form professional identities. Eager to develop skill sets and apply classroom lessons in the professional world, they often bring welcome new perspectives to the table. This can be especially valuable in industries that are constantly changing or in need of innovation.

They’re highly motivated and ready to learn

The most ambitious college students are proactive and eager to take on new challenges — both promising traits for future employees. When you empower college workers, they’ll go above and beyond to learn and contribute to your organization. Additionally, young people are generally tech-savvy and comfortable with digital tools and platforms — a huge asset in today’s business landscape.

They’re cost-effective employees

Because school is the main priority, students are often willing to work for less pay than more experienced candidates; they’re also more open to part-time or internship positions, helping small businesses bring in new talent without breaking the bank. These internships can act as trial runs for potential full-time employment.

How to attract and hire the best salespeople

Just about any business needs persuasive salespeople. In order to sustain and grow your company, you need someone who can bring in new clients while you focus on the business itself. No matter what role someone in your company fulfills, everyone does some kind of selling on a regular basis — pitching investors or bankers, selling coworkers on a new project idea or vision, providing customer service, negotiating with vendors, etc.

Ultimately, though, it will be your sales team that drives your company’s growth. If you want to add top-notch talent to this group and increase your revenue, keep these things in mind:

Your mission should be exciting and purposeful

What are you looking to achieve with your business? Most people these days are looking to join a company because of its mission — its goal to change the world in some meaningful way. According to a 2021 McKinsey study, 70% of Americans say work defines their sense of purpose. Your mission doesn’t need to save lives, it just needs to inspire workers and point to a larger goal. Find salespeople who buy into this mindset, and they’ll evangelize the company or product for you.

Be the best salesperson you can be

If you’re looking to hire salespeople, you should also know how to sell. You may get to a point in your business where you’re not the main person bringing in new clients, but you still have ideas you need to sell to investors, journalists or marketers — and your own team. When interviewing a potential candidate, pay attention to your own energy level. Are you charismatic? Are you enthusiastic about the position and the opportunity? When the interview is done, you’ll want the candidate to feel like they’re ready to jump on your bandwagon and get started right away.

Know what else you can offer

If you can’t compete in the market with a high salary, you can at least offer other incentives that attract top talent and keep your business afloat. Many employees are looking for better work-life balance. Can you offer a flexible work schedule? Consider offering profit sharing or a higher commission in the near future. If your product or services are innovative or revolutionary, that can also be an incentive, as employees are eager to join a business that’s about to rapidly expand.

The best recruiting platforms for small business hiring

When it’s time to hire, finding quality candidates doesn’t need to be complicated. Job search sites can help you recruit and retain talent no matter your company’s budget or size. Some companies advertise jobs across a variety of platforms, and the sites you choose will determine who applies for your open roles.

Similar to reaching a target audience, you want to meet candidates where they already are — think industry-specific forums, alumni networks or on social media. But there’s also value in casting a wide net and posting on major job boards with millions of visitors. With so many platforms to choose from, which will best support your mission? Here are some of the top recruiting platforms to consider:

ZipRecruiter

ZipRecruiter allows you to post job openings and receive applications from relevant candidates, as well as organize applicants in a resume database. Applicant tracking tools, including providing candidates with notes and feedback, also help you manage the hiring process.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is particularly effective for recruiting candidates in the business, finance and technology sectors. To help you find and hire top talent in — and outside of — your network, it offers job postings, resume searches and applicant tracking.

Indeed

One of the world’s largest job search websites, Indeed allows you to search for candidates based on their location, experience and skills. It also provides rates for sponsored listings that prioritize your job openings in the search results.

Glassdoor

In addition to job postings, Glassdoor features reviews from people who’ve worked at various companies. By providing insight into a company’s culture and employee satisfaction, the site can help attract candidates to your open positions.

Workable

With affordable pricing plans and an easy-to-use interface, Workable is a recruiting platform that’s particularly effective for small- and medium-size businesses looking to streamline their hiring process. It offers a variety of features, including job postings, applicant tracking and candidate sourcing.

Writing job advertisements to attract remote workers

The pandemic ushered in a widespread adoption of work-from-home policies that may be here to stay. These policies allow for more flexible working situations, and they’re an excellent way for businesses to stay competitive in the job market.

When writing your job advertisements, keep in mind it’s still just a listing, so you need to effectively communicate the benefits of working remotely and the job requirements. Consider the following tips for writing job advertisements to attract remote workers:

Communicate the remote nature of the job

Specify that the job is a remote position and include details about the type of work environment and equipment that will be required. Does this person need to work certain hours or be in a certain time zone? Spell everything out. If the job advertisement doesn’t say remote up front, many people will assume that it’s not.

Highlight the benefits to employees working remotely

Make it clear that the job offers the flexibility and autonomy of working remotely. Mention any perks or benefits that come with the position, such as a flexible schedule or the ability to work from anywhere.

Clearly outline the job requirements

Your job advertisements should clearly state the skills, experience, and qualifications that are required for the position. This will help you attract the right candidates and weed out those who are not a good fit.

Use language that resonates with remote workers

Use language that speaks to the realities of working remotely. For example, mention the ability to work from anywhere or the need for strong self-motivation and discipline. Also mention skills necessary for collaborating remotely, such as clear and concise communication.

Include information about your company culture

Whether in-person or working remotely, employees place a high value on company culture. In fact, this may be even more crucial in a remote environment, where your only coworker interactions are happening in chats and on video calls. Include information about your company’s values and mission in your job advertisements to help attract candidates who are a good fit.

It’s time to start hiring

By following these tips, you can make the most effective hiring decisions for your business. Keep in mind: no two companies are the same. Before you make a hire — or post a job, for that matter — consider the work you need done, the kind of worker you need to complete it, and where that person should be located. By outlining your needs early, you’ll save money (and headaches) in the long run.



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