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Your Startup Is Like a Jigsaw Puzzle. Here’s How to Add New Pieces.

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5 min read

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In a year dominated by Covid-19, stay-at-home orders fuelled worldwide demand for an unexpected item: jigsaw puzzles. The interlocking tiles were a hot commodity throughout 2020, as people of all ages sought engaging ways to pass the time.

“There’s a global shortage of puzzles..,” Brian Way, co-owner of Puzzle Warehouse told NPR in November. “There’s not a factory on the planet that is not months behind on production.”

Game manufacturer Ravensburger told CNBC that its U.S. puzzle sales were up 370% in early April, and the company expected to sell, on average, 20 puzzles per minute in North America through the end of the year. That’s over 10.5 million puzzles in one region alone.   

The resurgence of this analog activity makes sense, especially during a global pandemic. My father and I love doing puzzles with my two young sons. Puzzles cross generations, and they’re both relaxing and absorbing.

Building and growing a business is also a puzzle. Only, startups don’t have pre-set corners. You can’t spot the 90-degree pieces to connect the frame; you have to build these corners for yourself. The good news? Every new product, feature or release locks in another piece, and over time, a clear image begins to emerge. That’s just one reason why entrepreneurship is so rewarding.

After 15 years in business, JotForm has well-defined edges and much of the puzzle has taken shape. However, we’re still building it out. That process never ends — and even if we did fill in all the pieces, we’d simply expand the puzzle. 

Whether you’re just starting or you’ve been working on your company for years, here are my tips for staying focused on the big picture.

Build from the center

At every stage of a business, it’s easy to lose track of your core mission. The early days are wildly distracting because you have seemingly endless details to juggle. As your venture becomes more established, it’s tempting to seek greener pastures. Maybe you’ve achieved your original vision, or you’re bored with the day-to-day work of running the company.

Instead of shifting focus, zoom in and reinforce what matters most to your customers. What is the essential fabric of your product or service? For us, it’s the Form Builder. Almost all of our 15,000 new daily signups lead to the builder. That’s our core, so it deserves continual improvement, and there are three key ways to strengthen the center of your puzzle.

1. Improve the design

Legendary designer and architect Charles Eames once said, “the role of the designer is that of a good, thoughtful host anticipating the needs of his guest.” Beyond colors, graphics, photos or illustrations, the design is a massive differentiator. It enhances brand recognition, evokes emotion, and as Eames said so eloquently, the good design ensures a better experience for everyone you serve.

2. Enhance the usability

Time has always been our most precious commodity, but the competing demands of modern life heighten its value. Anything you can do to make your offering faster, easier, less complicated, and more intuitive is time well spent. If your company is young and you can’t hire dedicated UI and UX staff, try working with a consultant — even on a limited basis. Usability is essential, because customers will quickly turn elsewhere if your product is even slightly complicated or frustrating.

3. Evolve the core offering

It’s both good news and bad that your product is never “done.” The puzzle is always incomplete, because new technologies, customer needs, social and cultural shifts, and economic realities are always emerging. Constant innovation is essential for survival. However, remember that evolution can take many different forms. Your job is to find the best version for your company, whether that means exploring AI or stripping a core process down to the absolute basics.

Establish meaningful metrics

A successful jigsaw puzzle is a complete image. Success in business, however, is far more subjective. We all know founders who are obsessed with vanity metrics, and while it’s critical to track your data, sometimes success is an action or a change. For example, we measure how many new users actually build a form. Did they use our product to successfully create and release a form? And did they receive submissions on that form? That’s what matters to our customers – not bounce rates or acquisition costs. Of course, companies need to monitor a wide range of internal data, but don’t prioritize flashy growth statistics or KPIs over more meaningful numbers.

Relish the empty space

Unlike a puzzle, your goal is not to complete all the pieces of your business. As we noted above, not only is the finish line imaginary, but creating something from nothing is what makes most founders feel alive. There’s no need to rush it. 

Empty spaces are also a chance to listen closely to your customers. Find different ways to learn what they want and need — and how those needs change over time. Open space is an opportunity; seize it and keep building. We all love puzzles, and there’s no better feeling than locking in a new piece and watching your company grow.   

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Frustrated With a Colleague? Expectations May Be Why.

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6 min read

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I recently celebrated my 51st birthday and reflected on the many things I’ve learned since my first startup. 

Most of my learning has come from two places—the wisdom of others intended to help me avoid mistakes and the many mistakes I made despite all their wisdom. The opportunity to practice resiliency that comes from overcoming mistakes is priceless. I’ve seen firsthand that the most challenging mistakes are the ones that involve other people.

My experience is that solving most big problems requires a team of people rallying together to figure out how to both imagine and execute solutions. The execution is often where challenges begin between people, even those dedicated and committed to the mission.The greatest anxiety, frustration and stress often come down to one thing: expectations.

I’ve seen many scenarios unfold over and over again; here are the top four:  

1. Not setting expectations 

This is the most common culprit of conflict between individuals or teams: not setting expectations in the first place. 

“We met last week about the new campaign. We agreed when the new campaign would kick off. Then today, I got copied on an email to the client, and the date was way earlier. I’m so annoyed.”

Did anyone document what was agreed to? Who circulated expectations to confirm a shared understanding? Were the client communications expectations discussed and documented?

It’s easy to see how this can happen. Two colleagues assumed they were on the same page. But without an actual page, it’s easy for things to go awry.

Related: 8 Unrealistic Expectations That Can Harm You

2. Implied expectations

This one trips me up all the time and comes in two flavors. Let’s look at the leader disruptor version first. 

“The reason I missed this deadline is that our CEO asked me to dig into some metrics on this other project, and it took longer than I expected. I thought an executive’s request was more important and prioritized accordingly.” 

This scenario is the leader’s fault—there’s an implied expectation that because a senior leader made a request, it’s urgent and takes precedence. As leaders, we should clearly set expectations—especially for individual contributors who might not know to ask about priority. I’ve gotten better with this, but it still gets me every so often. 

The other flavor is hyper-accountable vs. accountable-accountable.

“They know how important the project is to the company. I’ve talked about it in meetings every week. I gave them feedback on their draft immediately. They’ve got everything ready to launch, but the program is still not live. I’m so frustrated.”

Are they bought in? How much does this project align with their goals? Are dates set, documented, and acknowledged by everyone involved? How is the team prioritizing other projects against this one? 

The reason I see this as hyper-accountable is that one side is so accountable to everyone around them (an awesome trait) that they assume everyone else is also the same hyper-accountable, and they can’t understand why they are not. The fix is for the hyper-accountable to step back and consider the overall priorities—in addition to what they are most committed to—and adjust their expectations accordingly. 

Related: The Dangers of Overpromising and Under-Delivering

3. Managing expectations

Any project that involves multiple contributors and multiple meetings are likely to change. If expectations have been set and everyone’s agreed to them, things are off to a good start. But then the universe throws a wrench into the mix. 

“They just told me that we’re not going to launch for another month. Apparently, this was decided two weeks ago because of a technical gap, but I’m just finding out about it now. I am so defeated.” 

How to avoid this mistake is obvious when you see it, but unfortunately, it is also so easy to fall into. In a rush to solve a problem, we often forget to manage and reset expectations. 

Are there stakeholders that would benefit from an update? Perhaps a board member who asked a question about a particular project that is now delayed. Are you going to wait a few weeks until the next board meeting, or should you update them sooner?

Related: Tricks to Staying Calm Under Pressure

4. Communicating expectations 

One of my co-founder’s favorite quotes is by George Bernard Shaw: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

We’re all living with information overload constantly. It can be hard to figure out which email, Slack or text message is important and which can wait. Even if you do consume it all, how much are you really retaining—especially if it isn’t immediately relevant to you?

“I sent a long, comprehensive Slack update, shared the slide deck with the team…asked for their review and feedback, but no one got back to me. They’re saying they didn’t know about this policy change and that we never tell them anything. I am perplexed.” 

There’s a combination of problems here, but the biggest is ensuring that what’s communicated is actually being consumed and acknowledged. If you aren’t sure, ask. It’s a bit more work, but it tends to destress the situation. 

How does the team prefer to learn new information or participate in decisions? Do they want to be walked through the change and given the opportunity to ask questions live?

The expectation test 

When I’m observing a conflict unfolding, I do my best to assess with an expectation test. Does everyone have the same set of expectations? How would I—or they—know? If the answer is anything other than a resounding “yes,” it’s time to probe and see where the expectations may not exist, be weak, not be managed or be impacted by a communications issue. If you’re looking to defuse conflict, start with an expectation test and go from there. 

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5 Decisions All Responsible Entrepreneurs Make En Route to Financial Security

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Entrepreneurship inherently involves financial risk. That doesn’t mean, however, that entrepreneurs can’t become financially secure. Remember, your personal finances and business finances are not the same. Responsible entrepreneurs aren’t just focused on making their business succeed. They also take steps to achieve financial security in their personal life.

1. Create true separation between personal and business finances

Failing to separate business and personal accounts can create serious financial trouble in the long run. If the business were to fail, you would lose all the money that is also being used to pay your rent or any other expenses. Even more troublesome, liability issues could leave you on the hook for company debts or legal troubles.

Maintaining separate personal and business accounts ensures that even if your company runs into financial difficulty, your “nest egg” won’t be compromised. Paying yourself a salary from your business account can help increase this sense of separation.

Never use a business account (including credit cards) for personal expenses.

Related: 5 Personal-Finance Mistakes That Kill Promising Companies

2. Clearly define personal finance goals

While you may have established clear growth goals for your business, you can’t afford to let personal finance goals be an afterthought.

In a recent phone conversation, Tobi Roberts, co-founder and CEO of City Creek Mortgage explained, “As a business owner, you need to plan out what you’ll do with the salary you pay yourself from your company. After all, a big part of the reason why many people go into business is to support their desired lifestyle.”

Continued Roberts, “Setting clear and meaningful goals will act as a series of guideposts to help you stay on track for reaching that lifestyle. Whether you want to move into a bigger house or buy a boat, setting a savings goal will help you better control what happens after you pay yourself.”

Your personal finance goals (such as retirement or even building an emergency fund) can also affect how you structure your business’s cash flow. You need to find a balance between paying yourself enough to live your desired lifestyle without creating a cash crunch for your company.

3. Create passive income through investments

“Making your money work for you” may sound like a bit of a cliche, but it’s an important to-do for entrepreneurs trying to achieve financial security. Continued investments in the stock market allow your money to grow at a much greater rate than it would if you left it in a checking or savings account.

As Investopedia reports, the more passive, long-term buy and hold strategy averages 12.1 percent returns on small stocks and 9.9 percent returns on large stocks, even when accounting for market crashes.

By simply putting money aside into an investment account each month, your money will compound, giving you an additional revenue stream beyond your salary. You don’t need to chase the latest meme stock to increase your financial standing.

4. Religiously track spending and saving

Managing cash flow is vital for any startup — and it is just as important for your personal finances. If you don’t understand where your money is going, you might find yourself running out of money as you try to attain a lifestyle you can’t quite afford.

Tracking monthly expenses is vital for identifying ways you can better use your money. This can help you identify things you should cut out of your life — like that gym membership you never use. Or, it can put the amount of money you spend on meals at restaurants into perspective.

Writing down how much you spend each month — and what you spent it on — makes it easier to compare your current habits with your long-term financial goals so you can make necessary changes. Quite often, small sacrifices now (like investing $50 toward an investment account instead of daily Starbucks runs) will pay big dividends later.

5. Plan for the unexpected

You never know what life will throw your way. This is just as true in your personal life as it is in the business world. And of course, unexpected negative outcomes for your business can have a tremendous impact on your personal finances.

While times are good, you should prepare for the future by building an emergency savings fund. Financial experts generally recommend that most people have emergency savings that would cover three to six months of living expenses.

Notably, those with a variable income or less stable employment — a category that many entrepreneurs fall in — are advised to have an emergency fund that covers six months or more. Contribute a bit of money to your emergency fund each month. This way, if disaster strikes and you are no longer making any money from your business, you won’t need to liquidate investments or retirement funds to stay afloat.

Related: 5 Tips To Protect Your Company From Legal Liabilities

No matter what your business goals may be, you cannot make finances an afterthought. By taking steps to account for both your business and personal financial standing, you will have much-needed security.

Ultimately, financial security allows you to support the lifestyle you want to live while giving you one less thing to worry about in your hectic entrepreneurial life. Prioritize your finances early on so you can establish good habits that last a lifetime.

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Uber Mexico will give incentives for 710 million pesos to drivers and delivery people

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The Uber Mexico platform seeks to improve the income of its Uber Eats driver and delivery partners, who are generating, on average, 20% more profits than before the pandemic.


3 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.


There is good news for Uber Mexico driver and delivery partners. The platform announced a stimulus plan for 710 million pesos to improve the income of its affiliates

“We want to encourage more people to benefit from the economic opportunities for self -employment and entrepreneurship offered by our platform, especially in a context of economic recovery and reactivation of our cities,” said Gretta González , general director of Shared Rides at Uber, in a statement. in Mexico.

The platform explained that said budget includes discounts in the commission for service for driving partners, as well as multipliers of earnings per trip.

The company reported that partners who used the app at least 20 hours a week to provide Uber and Uber Eats services generated 20% higher average earnings nationally and in Mexico City. This in contrast to those recorded before the lockdowns began.

“Now that cities are reactivated and vaccination campaigns continue to advance, there are more users requesting trips and orders through the Uber and Uber Eats apps, which has contributed to increases in the profits of driver and delivery partners. on the platform, ” said José García-Pimentel , CEO of Uber Eats in Mexico.

The statement clarifies that the cost of these promotions will not affect the rates paid by users of both services. In addition, the bonuses will be available to new drivers and delivery partners as well as to those previously registered on the platform, even if they decided to remain inactive during the last year.

Uber will not only give incentives in Mexico

Uber Mexico’s stimulus plan is aligned with the one announced by the platform for the United States . Last week, the company reported that it would invest about 250 million dollars (about 5 billion Mexican pesos) to offer additional incentives to its US driver partners.

This is because, as the activities suspended by the COVID-19 pandemic resume, the demand for travel exceeds the supply of drivers . Thus, Uber seeks to retain active drivers, motivate the reactivation of those who left and attract new partners.


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