In Business, Times of Uncertainty Call for Leaders, Not Managers—Which One Are You?

By Stuart Hayes

No doubt about it, there is a humanitarian disaster unfolding of a magnitude not seen for generations. It is brutal. It is personal. It is heartbreaking.

There is also associated economic disruption, and this is causing hardship in other ways. Businesses are impacted, people are displaced, and money is tight. It is a crisis in every sense.

Throughout this period, you as a leader are most likely frantic. Your focus is being pulled across a range of subjects and threats, both real and potential. Is your business eligible for government support? How can you optimize this? Are you facing terminal cash flow problems? And, all the while, you are also adjusting to a new paradigm in which all of your people are working from home.

But what about you? What about your business? Your team? Your future? Are you positioned to emerge stronger?

Leaders may succeed during the COVID-19 crisis, but managers will fail

Above everything else that defines a crisis (and COVID-19 is no different), uncertainty is the single, consistent dynamic that always exists, and it demands you operate differently and learn to adapt. This is where leaders step in.

Harvard professor John Kotter defines leaders as those who move and guide us through change or toward somewhere new. This is in contrast to managers, who use their authority, processes, and controls to ensure we always do things consistently. Opposing, yet complementary forces.

But what happens when the paradigm shifts, like it has now? What if the processes and controls no longer work? What happens when change is happening so fast, business just can’t keep up?

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, not the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change”—Charles Darwin

Leaders who embrace change as their COVID “modus operandi” will thrive. At the best of times, leaders have neither the luxury of time to pause and redevelop strategy, nor the luxury of moving forward in haste and risk moving in the wrong direction. Unfortunately, this dilemma is magnified during a crisis, and then magnified even further for smaller businesses that are less resilient in the first place.

So how will successful businesses operate during this crisis? How will they emerge stronger than anyone else? The secret is change itself.

Will you emerge from COVID-19 with more or fewer clients?

Once upon a time, business leaders adopted the “command and control” model perfected by the military and government. Many of you may remember this model from the early stages of your career. I certainly do.

Within the command and control model, the ultimate leader or leadership group forms an alpha pack and decides everything. The problem is this style of leadership doesn’t resonate with people a whole lot these days, and in a crisis like COVID-19, it is completely and utterly misplaced.

In short, people want more from life than to be micromanaged, and many actually resist being told what to do. What this means is that ultimately the command and control model impinges team buy-in, loyalty, and engagement, and restricts your team’s ability to evolve fast enough to keep up with well-led rivals, let alone lead markets.

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Consider how various governments have responded differently to COVID-19. What level of trust was gained by leaders who transparently shared data early, with all its imperfections, versus those who kept it hidden? And then think about how this impacted the respective leaders’ ability to control the narrative and shift objectives as COVID-19 itself required?

It’s a tricky balance, of course, ensuring direction rather than giving direction. A point illustrated even in New Zealand, the media’s darling of crisis response, where the country’s Health Ministry boss, Ashley Bloomfield, observed how frontline teams who embraced the autonomy he provided them were significantly more effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19 than those who sought direction and even complained there should be higher levels of control.

The bottom line is that in a crisis like COVID-19, if you are doing anything but organizing yourself in these ways, you had better change. And fast.

The most important task you can do right now

Do you already lead in this way? Are you already facilitating change and growth in your practice continuously? If you were a river boat captain who suddenly found the river had ended, and that you had sailed into the open sea for the first time, would you cut the bow line and move with the current, empowering your crew and embarking on an adventure into the unknown … or would you desperately try to find the river once again?

If you’re not sure, here’s a four-question survey to help you plan an effective course for strategy:

1. Would you be prepared to articulate adjusted three-month objectives for your team, every three months? During COVID-19, and particularly with a remote team, you can no longer assume your people actually understand your most important priorities and are aligning towards them.

2. Can you get comfortable with a high level of transparency? Transparency leads to trust, and trust is not only the cornerstone of effective leadership, but an imperative in a modern “real-time adjusting” business.

3. Are you okay empowering your people to achieve outcomes their way? If you say you are unsure, chances are you are not okay with this, but you need to be. You must be comfortable with actually allowing your team to achieve outcomes their way and empower them to remove whatever gets in their way.

4. Are you open to what might result if things start happening differently? Again, if you are dismissing this question too quickly, beware. I know it can be hard, but if you can’t allow things to flow unchecked, or if you are ever known to utter, “I told you so,” chances are your desire for control and to be “the expert in the room” will kill the golden goose before it lays its first egg.

RELATED: Leading Your Business From Home: 5 Way to Effectively Manage Your Team Remotely

About the Author

Post by: Stuart Hayes

Between 1998 and 2012, Stuart Hayes was parachuted to rescue ailing businesses in Asia, Australia, and the UK, while working as a change CEO specialist with multinational service organizations including Deloitte, KPMG, and Andersen. In 2013 Stuart stepped away from the CEO world and now guides teams and leaders to achieve extraordinary outcomes, irrespective of circumstances through his leadership consultancy, Stuart Hayes Leadership.

Company: Stuart Hayes Leadership
Website: www.leadershipcoach.melbourne
Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

The post In Business, Times of Uncertainty Call for Leaders, Not Managers—Which One Are You? appeared first on AllBusiness.com. Click for more information about Guest Post. Copyright 2020 by AllBusiness.com. All rights reserved. The content and images contained in this RSS feed may only be used through an RSS reader and may not be reproduced on another website without the express written permission of the owner of AllBusiness.com.

Should Your Business Entity Pivot to a Certified B Corporation?

Would you like to be the best business in the world or be the best business for the world?

Look closely at the two options. The key differentiators are in italics. A company that wishes to be the best business in the world ultimately does not share the same outlook as the one that wants to be the best for the world. These latter companies use business as a force for good. They are known as B Corporations: purpose-driven corporations that create benefit for all stakeholders.

What’s a B Corporation?

Incorporating as a B Corporation means following a slightly different process than that of forming a limited liability company (LLC) or a general corporation.

B Corporations are considered to be a hybrid of a standard corporation and nonprofit. This entity allows B Corps to earn a profit, and holds their entity accountable to higher social and environmental performance standards. Further, many B Corporations choose to earn their B Corp Certification with the help of nonprofit group B Lab. Businesses effectively alter their corporate DNA to balance profit with purpose once they make the shift to become a Certified B Corp.

This unprecedented time may present small businesses with the opportunity to switch to a Certified B Corp. If this sounds like the right entity for your business and its purpose, here’s what you need to know before making the pivot.

1. Ask yourself if you could sign “The B Corp Declaration of Interdependence”

This is a document B Corps sign at the end of their B Corporation certification. Before you begin the process, however, it’s a good idea to figure out if you’re capable of being in a B Corp leadership role.

As mentioned earlier, B Corporations balance profit with purpose. The B Corp Declaration of Interdependence states that those in B Corp leadership positions “envision a global economy that uses business as a force for good.”

If you got into business with the sole intention of making money, it’s not in your best interest to form a Certified B Corp. This entity is best left to those individuals that may be able to do the following with their businesses:

  • Act as and be the change they wish to see in the world.
  • Turn a profit while providing offerings and services that do no harm and benefit one and all.
  • Understand that their companies must be able to adopt specific standards of purpose, accountability, and transparency.

Once you know you’re able to sign this document and fulfill its final step, you’re ready to begin the certification process.

2. Take the B Impact Assessment (BIA) test

Your company is prepped to “B the change,” but first you’ll need to take and pass the B Impact Assessment test.

What’s the BIA? This is a free, confidential tool that helps measure the social and environmental impact of your business. The BIA consists of three steps:

1. Assess. The BIA walks test takers through questions that help them learn what it takes to build a better business. You may view sample questions on the website for a clear understanding of what will be asked during the BIA. The test itself is administered in two formats: snapshot and full impact. In a little under 30 minutes, you may receive a quick snapshot of your test results.

This snapshot will allow you to review the areas your business excels at and where it may need improvements. The full impact report takes about two to three hours to complete. Most individuals who want to form a Certified B Corporation will take the full report and examine their results holistically afterwards.

2. Compare. During this time, you may compare your score to thousands of other (anonymous) businesses. This allows you to see how other business owners responded to the same topic.

3. Improve. In order to pass the BIA, test takers must receive a minimum of 80 points out of a possible 200 points. If you did not pass, there are ways you may improve your score. BIA offers the ability to create a customized improvement plan for your business. This plan may be implemented with the help of their free best practice guides.

If you did score high enough to pass the BIA, you’ll move on to the next step.

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3. Schedule a virtual assessment review

Upon passing the BIA, a member of the B Lab staff will schedule a virtual assessment review with you. During this time, you may be asked to submit materials that detail how your business will commit to the general public benefit. These documents must be reviewed with a B Lab staff member.

4. Meet the legal requirements

Upon completion of your virtual assessment review, your business needs to meet necessary legal requirements. B Lab offers a free legal requirement tool that allows you to understand how your company can meet its legal requirement for B Corp certification. Depending on your state of incorporation and entity structure, you may need to fulfill the following items:

  • Adopt a benefit corporation status to reincorporate the business.
  • Amend current governing documents, such as updating articles of incorporation, in an approved Certified B Corp language.
  • Clearly communicate how adopting legal changes and making the B Corp shift is useful for business, if your company has investors or board members.

5. Sign the B Corp Declaration of Interdependence

You’re almost there! All you need to do is sign the B Corp Declaration of Interdependence and Term Sheet, and pay your annual certification fees.

Congratulations: you have officially joined the ranks of more than 2,100 Certified B Corporations!

Your Certified B Corporation may focus on its triple bottom line of people, profit, and planet—which works to benefit countless individuals everywhere during unprecedented and prosperous times alike.

RELATED: Business Entity Types 101: Is It Time to Rethink Your Business Structure?

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Loan Forgiveness Under the PPP and SBA EIDL Programs: 10 Things Small Businesses Need to Know

If you were one of the lucky businesses to receive a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan as provided under the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act, you currently have eight weeks to use the funds appropriately to meet the criteria for loan forgiveness or face repayment.

There is still some PPP money available from Round 2 of Congressional relief, so if you haven’t yet applied and still need the money, do so immediately. There was approximately $90 billion remaining as of May 6, largely because most loans in this second round have been much smaller than in Round 1 and many larger companies have returned their loans. You will likely have better luck receiving a loan by applying through a smaller community bank as opposed to a large national bank.

In addition, the regulations around both the PPP loan program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program have been changing constantly since the CARES Act was passed and will likely continue to do so. It is important to track these regulations closely. Already, leading trade associations including the American Bankers Association, the Consumer Bankers Association, and the Independent Community Bankers Association have written to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asking for changes to the PPP, mainly around the criteria for forgiveness.

The intent of Congress and the Trump Administration when passing the PPP loans was twofold: First, give small business the funding necessary to survive the Coronavirus shutdown, which the federal government estimated would last two months. That is why the loan amount was based on your average 2019 monthly payroll multiplied by 2.5%, and forgiveness is largely based on two months of payroll. Second, to keep workers employed and on payrolls instead of sending them to the unemployment line.

While these two reasons behind the loans were well meaning, they were misguided from the start and are now causing heartache for many small business owners. From day one, it was clear that forcing small business owners to keep workers on the payroll when they were effectively shut down with little or no revenue put them in the position of the unemployment office. The unemployment benefits program was also enhanced in the CARES Act to cover workers, and while no business ever wants to lay off good employees, there simply are times when that is necessary for survival.

While every American hoped the shutdown would be short-lived, there is a well-known saying in business that “Hope is not a strategy.” Clearly, now we know that even with some states relaxing business shutdown restrictions, it is not sufficient to make up for lost revenue, to generate enough revenue with social distancing restrictions, or to rule out a second shutdown if we see a spike in new Coronavirus cases.

Many small business owners still have questions about both obtaining the PPP and EIDL loans as well as how the forgiveness works. A good start in answering your questions is to look at the Treasury guidance issued May 5 and then talk to your banker.

The following are the top 10 most frequently asked questions about loan forgiveness starting with the most pressing one about borrower liability:

1. What is my liability exposure around the loans and forgiveness?

As you likely saw reported in the media, some major brands applied for and received PPP loans. These brands included the LA Lakers, Shake Shack, Sweetgreen, and even Harvard University. While all the companies and organizations met the criteria for the PPP loan, the Trump Administration and the court of public opinion determined they did not meet the “spirit of the law,” and many returned the funds. The CARES Act offered loopholes for borrowers who have more than 500 employees and waived the “Credit Elsewhere” test (with typical SBA 7(a) loans, borrowers must document they can’t access capital from other sources). The PPP loans did not require this documentation, but put the onus on the borrower to show “good faith” that they needed the loans despite access to other sources of capital.

The answer to Question 31 in the May 5 Treasury guidelines stated the following:

Specifically, before submitting a PPP application, all borrowers should review carefully the required certification that “[c]urrent economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the Applicant.” Borrowers must make this certification in good faith, taking into account their current business activity and their ability to access other sources of liquidity sufficient to support their ongoing operations in a manner that is not significantly detrimental to the business.

This somewhat ambiguous standard has made many small businesses nervous that they will not meet this “good faith” test, and will have to repay the loan or worse, suffer penalties—perhaps even criminal penalties. So, what should you be worried about with the “good faith” standard?

First, the stern warning from Secretary Mnuchin about audits and liability were aimed at large companies, many of whom are public, that do have other sources of capital; it was not directed at small, independently owned companies. The guidance further explains that companies that have received over $2 million in loans will be automatically audited by the SBA and Treasury to determine if this standard was met.

If your business obtained under $500,000 or perhaps even under $1,000,000 in PPP loans, it is highly unlikely this audit will occur and you will face any liability. It is important to remember, it is your lender who will review documentation after 8 weeks to determine forgiveness based on use of funds; 75% for payroll and 25% for rent, utilities, and interest payments. Lenders are working towards an easy mechanism to approve forgiveness of most loans “at the push of button” and forsake lengthy reviews.

Furthermore, while this “good faith” standard does need further clarification, the fact remains that the government instituted the shutdown that every American business had to abide by. This forced closure of our economy made the future uncertain and, as we are now seeing, that remains so. Therefore, even if your business had other sources of capital like a line of credit, it will be extremely difficult for your bank or the government to determine under those circumstances that the average business was not acting in “good faith” when showing the need for a PPP loan.

This being said, it is probably a good idea to document the state of your business and your need on or around the date you applied for the PPP loan. If you are a retailer or restaurant, the simple fact of being shut down should suffice, and for any business, the reality of lost future sales, canceled orders, and uncertainty about the length of the shutdown should suffice to show “good faith.” Just remember, the government and the banks want these loans forgiven, so presuming you used the funds appropriately, that should be the case.

2. When do I have to start tracking the use of the PPP funds?

At this point, the use of funds must begin upon receipt and extend out eight weeks in order for the loan to be forgiven. You cannot sit on the money. It is a common complaint about the program that businesses don’t want to use the funds to pay their employees to do nothing and want to wait until they reopen or have further certainty about the shutdown. This is a valid concern that makes sense, but this requirement can only change with an act of Congress, which is unlikely to occur. Use the money upon receipt.

3. Do I have to use at least 75% of the PPP loan on payroll?

Yes. As outlined above, for better or for worse, the intent of the PPP program was to keep workers on the payroll and off unemployment. Business owners should have the freedom to use the funds as they see fit on other major expenses like rent, but Congress opted for payroll. While business groups and associations are lobbying to reduce the percentage used on payroll to 50%, you can’t count on that and should assume the status quo. For complete forgiveness, ensure you are using at least 75% of the funds on payroll.

4. If I laid off workers, do I need to rehire the same employees to meet the payroll requirement?

No. Your bank will not check to see if you hired the same employee back, but simply that your payroll amount is the same or greater than the 2019 average upon which the loan amount was based. If you do extend an offer to an employee who rejects it, you may want to ensure the correspondence is in writing for future reference. But, even if that employee rejects your offer for reemployment, your obligation to use the PPP funds on payroll remains based on the 2019 numbers.

5. Do I need to hire the same position or keep employees in the same jobs?

No. Again, your lender will be looking at the amount you spent on payroll, not who fills what job. This is a good way to make use of the funds in a positive way. For example, instead of rehiring that sales rep, you could hire a web developer to revamp your website. Or you could shift roles and responsibilities of existing employees to meet the needs of your changing business model. Just note that the position must be a full-time employee and not a contractor in order to count towards forgiveness.

6. What if I’m still nervous and want to give my loan back?

The recent Treasury guidelines extended the date to return the funds with no questions asked until May 14.

7. What if I don’t use the funds for payroll or rent, utilities, or interest payments?

While many groups are lobbying to change the allocations for how the funds should be used, it is best to assume those rules will not change. The rules allow for some variance between the approved and non-approved expenses due to miscalculations or an unforeseen issue, such as an employee quitting. That variance will be converted into the two-year note at 1% interest with a six-month deferral of the first payment. But, the borrower is certifying on the PPP loan application that they will use at least 75% on payroll and the other 25% on rent, utilities, and interest payments. So, if you do not use the funds accordingly, it will raise questions from your lender and potentially from the SBA and Treasury as well, something that you do want to avoid.

8. What documentation should I use with my lender to show the money was spent according to the regulations?

The easiest solution would be to reach out to your payroll provider, such as ADP, to prepare reports showing the funds were used for payroll. It should be as simple as that. In addition, provide bills and canceled checks for your rent, mortgage, utilities, or interest payments if you used the funds for those purposes. If you don’t use a payroll company, then follow the outline of a Schedule C form with backup documentation to show how the money was spent. This can include canceled checks, bank transfers, and the payment of acceptable expenses. You should reach out to your payroll provider now and start documenting these expenses. If possible, it is also advisable to keep PPP funds in a separate bank account and make all forgivable expenses out of this dedicated account.

9. When can I apply for forgiveness?

Most lenders will begin processing forgiveness applications at seven weeks from fund disbursement. It is advisable to reach out to your banker now to confirm this and to double-check on what documentation your particular lender will want to see. Again, the lender will make the decision on forgiveness.

10. What is the status of the EIDL loan program?

The EIDL program is still processing applications already received. However, they are not accepting any new applications except from agricultural companies. The EIDL grant program was reduced from $10,000 per company to $1,000 per employee up to 10 employees. This grant is an advance on any potential loan and does not have to be repaid. It has been reported in the media that the maximum loan amount was reduced from $2 million to $150,000 per applicant, but the SBA has yet to publicly confirm that. The EIDL loan must be repaid over up to a 30-year term at 3.75% interest for businesses and 2.75% for nonprofits, with a one-year deferment on the first payment.

Conclusion

While some regulatory clarification and changes to the PPP program are still needed, the overall requirements and structure of the program are straightforward and are unlikely to change. For most businesses, the need for the funds is clear and if the money is used on payroll as intended, it will be forgiven without any liability concerns. It is by no means the perfect system, but for those companies receiving the funds, it should be a good source of capital in the short term. It is time, however, for all companies to start thinking about additional sources of capital as the pandemic continues to impact our economy.

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Laid Off? 10 Lessons I Learned From My Job Search

By Leslie King

I was laid off from my job a year ago with no warning due to a company-wide reduction-in-force. I had only been at that startup company for six months, and so had just recently gone through the job search experience. With all the layoffs happening right now in the era of COVID-19, I wanted to share some of the lessons I learned at the time, along with helpful tips for searching for a new job.

Being suddenly laid off certainly came as a shock, and it affected me emotionally. I recommend that anyone experiencing a layoff give themselves some time to clear their head and find ways to de-stress. Try finding a hobby or something enjoyable you can split your job hunting time with. Job searching and interviewing all day, every day really wears on you, so making time for yourself is important. When I was laid off, I decided to learn how to sew, and it was a great way to balance the draining effects of job hunting with a new pastime I was excited about and helped me to feel calm.

While I recognize that the current situation we are faced with has its own special set of circumstances and challenges that make job hunting right now especially hard, I hope that some of what I learned may be helpful to others.

1. Update your LinkedIn profile

The first thing you should do is review, update and enhance your LinkedIn profile:

  • Add bullet points that describe your roles and responsibilities at each of your previous companies.
  • Ensure your job titles and dates are correct.
  • Make sure your tagline is updated.
  • Update the summary section to include what you’ve done. If you’re openly looking (not currently employed), add what you’re looking for in your next opportunity.
  • Turn on the “Let recruiters know you’re open” feature by visiting “Jobs > Career Interests” and add a note to recruiters about what you’re looking for.

2. Build your network

While it’s a good practice to focus on building your network throughout your career, you can use LinkedIn to expand your network. LinkedIn is most useful when you can leverage your network and that means everyone you are connected to, since you are now a 2nd-degree connection to everyone they are connected to as well.

Search through and invite as many LinkedIn connections as possible from past coworkers. Also add personal contacts. This can even mean people you went to school with and haven’t talked to in many years as long as they’re someone you might be comfortable reaching out to and asking for an introduction. Anyone you know that works in your industry/field or works in your city can be helpful. Especially in these tough times, it is safe to assume most connections are willing to help out, as everyone understands the struggle of being laid off during this pandemic.

3. Purchase and use LinkedIn Premium

I know it sounds irritating to spend $60 a month on LinkedIn; however, it was the single most useful tool I used to help me find a job. Ideally, you’ll only need it for a few months and then you’ll get a job. Think of it as an investment in yourself.

The most effective way to get interviews at companies is by receiving an internal referral from a current employee. Here’s my strategy for that: Start by using Google to look up job postings; for example:  “Events Manager Jobs in San Francisco.” Google will pull results from all the job boards on the internet. Once you have found a job you are interested in, do the following using LinkedIn Premium:

  • Look up the company on LinkedIn, click on “See all XX number of employees that work here,” and filter results by 1st- and 2nd-degree connections. You need LinkedIn Premium to do this, because without it, only the first few people at the company will be shown and you’ll get a message saying, “You need to upgrade to premium to view the rest”
  • Once you have seen a job posting on an external site, visit the “careers” page of that company and make sure you see the job posting there, too. That’s where you’ll find the most accurate information. Unfortunately, many companies leave old job postings up even after they have been filled. When searching, I often filter by jobs posted in the last week to get the most current listings.
  • If you have any 1st-degree connections on LinkedIn, contact them and ask them to refer you to the job. Always include a link to the job description. It is best to wait until they reply before you send a resume, unless it’s someone you know well and are certain their answer will be yes. (Sample message: “Jim, I’m interested in applying to the [insert job title and link to job posting] role I saw listed at [insert company name]. Would you be willing to refer me for this position? I can send along my resume. Thanks!”)
  • If you don’t have any 1st-degree connections, but you have some 2nd-degree connections, that’s where the networking begins. Depending on how well you know the person you’re connected to, you can send a message to the connection asking for an introduction. (Sample message: “Hey Tina, how well do you know [2nd-degree connection name] over at [company name]? I see a job posting there I am interested in applying to and I’m wondering if you know her/him well enough that you’d be willing to make an introduction or pass along my resume.”)
  • Then you wait for a reply. Don’t wait more than 24 hours before moving on to the next 2nd-degree connection if you have more than one. If it’s a job you really want, send 2-3 messages at once and go with whoever replies first.
  • If you don’t know your connection very well and don’t feel like reaching out for an introduction, this is where “InMail” comes in. InMail is a LinkedIn Premium feature that allows you to send a message to someone you are not already connected to. The way InMail works is that you are charged one InMail to message someone you aren’t connected to, but if they respond at all (regardless of what they say) you get that credit back. LinkedIn Premium comes with 30 InMails a month.
  • Here’s a sample InMail message to someone I was 2nd-degree connected to: “Hi, Molly. I came across your profile as I was looking at a job posting for [job title and link] at [company name]. I noticed we have many connections to people I attended school with, so I thought I’d reach out and see if you’d be willing to chat about the company and maybe pass along my resume as well. Thanks so much!”
  • In my experience, almost everyone who responds (not all did, but most do) is really willing to help. Everyone knows the struggle of looking for a new job and most people are happy to lend a hand. Additionally, many companies now offer referral bonuses, which is a great incentive for connections to refer you.
  • Leverage this person if they seem willing. If you get a first interview with the company, send them a thank you message updating them but also asking if they’d be willing to chat on the phone for 10 minutes while you ask them some questions about the company. Insider perspective is very valuable! Anything you don’t understand about the company, or questions about top competitors/customers are great.
  • You will also want to use the feature in LinkedIn that allows you to see who has viewed your profile (although some people decide to remain anonymous). The reason this is a useful tool only available with LinkedIn Premium is that if you’ve clicked on a ton of 2nd-degree connections at a company, and then you get notified that one of them has “viewed” you back, this is the perfect opportunity to send that person an InMail since it’s basically an invitation to explain why you were viewing their profile.
  • Another helpful LinkedIn Premium feature is its suggested jobs based on what you’ve searched. This is helpful because sometimes the job title is a little different than what you’ve been searching for, but the job description is spot on.

4. Be active on LinkedIn

It’s important to be active on LinkedIn. Good practices include the following:

  • Comment/message people when they update a new job or share an article.
  • “Like” or comment on an article that is posted.
  • Post articles or blog posts you may have written or that you think will be helpful or interesting to your network.
  • If you’re openly seeking a new job, you can make a post with relevant hashtags that encapsulates what you’re looking for. Some good hashtags to include are: #hiring #recruiting #startups #laidoff #marketingjobs #jobs
  • Here’s a photo of my LinkedIn post for reference. This was the single most popular thing I have ever posted on the internet, with thousands of people messaging me about jobs for myself or my colleagues. After all was said and done, the job that I ultimately landed at Databricks stemmed from someone tagging the department head of events in this post.

leslie king linkedin post

5. Revamp your resume

I learned that it’s important to revamp your resume. Here are some suggestions:

  • Look at the descriptions of your top 10 dream jobs and then use these words to describe what you do as much as possible. Recruiters often scan for keywords so try to be as close of a match as you can.
  • Try to keep bullet points to one line whenever you can—it’s easier to read.
  • Start each bullet with an action word.
  • Get someone to give you solid resume feedback, ideally a professional. My friend Asis Campos did my resume design and helped a lot with the action item editing (he’s now open to doing this for a small fee—contact him at asis.campos@gmail.com if interested).
  • Get someone outside the industry to read your resume. This can help you eliminate needless jargon and make it more readable
  • If going for jobs that are even slightly different from your background, write a cover letter, connecting the dots of past experience and how it’s relevant to this job.

6. Prepare for the interview

If you are fortunate enough to get an interview, you must thoroughly prepare for it. Here are some suggestions:

Research the company extensively even before a call with the recruiter 

  • Look them up on Crunchbase, Glassdoor, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn
  • Write down the names of the leadership team for the company and the department you are interviewing for. Make notes about the company’s fundraising, mission, etc.
  • Read the company’s website thoroughly: blog, event pages, etc. Try to understand its products and target audience.
  • Watch YouTube videos the company has produced, especially ones explaining the product, but also any videos that might feature the CEO at speaking engagements.
  • If you can find someone you know who has used the company’s product, contact them and ask them questions. What do they like? What problems is it solving for them? Are their pain points being solved? Are thereproduct features they wish would be created? Use these answers when you are asked the question “Why are you interested in this company?” It’s very impressive to show you’ve gone above and beyond to talk to a customer.

Prepare tailored answers to questions you will likely get

  • Nail down the “tell me about your background” question. Figure out the best examples of things you’ve done at past companies that will be most relevant for this job.
  • Here’s an example of the type of details you should provide: “When I started at PlanGrid, they’d done two branded happy hours. After I joined and became the program manager, my roles included training and enabling sales to produce these events with minimal involvement from Marketing. Additionally, I would help with venue search, catering, Marketo campaigns, and ordering of swag. By the time I left PlanGrid, we had scaled dramatically and were producing over 10 of these events per month worldwide.”
  • Always have an answer prepared for the “Why are you interested in this company?” question.
    • Read the company’s mission statement and try to tie in some of its language to your answer.
    • Make your stated reasons for wanting to join the company as personal as possible. Instead of talking about why the company’s product or business are good, talk about your personal relationship with it. If it’s an app, use it and talk about that. For example: “I used your app in my last job, and I loved these aspects of it, which made my job very easy. I also thought these aspects could get better, and I can help the whole product and company get better.”
  • If you are able to speak to a customer, use their answers to your advantage.
  • Read this article that lists the The 40 Most Frequently Asked Job Interview Questions and think about how you might answer them.
  • A common question is “Tell me about a time when things didn’t go as planned and how you overcame that.” Make sure you come up with a few relevant stories based on past experiences.

When asked why you left/are leaving a previous company, always put a positive spin on it

  • Never disclose that you were unhappy with a boss or team member.
  • Use phrases like “it’s a great opportunity to pursue ___”

Conduct a mock interview

Consider doing a practice interview with friends or family members (especially if they have experience interviewing employees themselves). The practice will be helpful and give you more confidence. Ask for feedback on your answers, your body language, and your preparedness. Have the mock interviewer ask both common questions as well as offbeat ones to see how well you can think on your feet.

If/when you are first talking to a recruiter

Have a list of questions to ask about the company. Here’s some examples of questions you should always ask:

  • How many people are in the company?
  • How many people are on the team specifically?
  • Whom does the role report to?
  • Is this a new role or is it replacing someone?
  • What is the compensation range?
  • If the company is a startup, how well financed is it?

7. Find a way to stand out during your interview

It’s important to differentiate yourself from all the other candidates. For me, this meant creating a two-page, double-sided document that outlined different ideas for how to improve the company, along with creative ideas for events at the top, middle, and bottom of the marketing funnel. On the back side of the page, I outlined my strategy for my first 30 days at the company. I found that bringing something I’d prepared that I wasn’t asked to prepare beforehand helped me look well organized and particularly interested in the role.

8. Prepare smart questions for your interview

For in-person interviews, look up the people on LinkedIn who will be interviewing you, and prepare specific questions tailored to each of them. Here are some sample generic questions to ask:

  • Who do you view as your company’s most threatening competitor?
  • Is there opportunity for growth within this position? How do you foresee the team growing?
  • Tell me about the structure of the team.
  • What is the cadence of communication/meetings?
  • Tell me about your customer profile. Whom do you target? What are their specific titles?
  • How do you see the headcount growing within the next year?
  • What are some challenges you’ve faced marketing to this target audience?
  • What do you like most about working for the company?
  • What do you see as the most challenging aspect of this job?
  • How is the success of the person in this role to be measured?
  • Where are the key areas where you see us working together/where you need support?
  • What are some pain points you’ve seen as the company has scaled?
  • Where do you think the biggest room for improvement is, both within the marketing team and the company?
  • Tell me about the onboarding process—what is it like getting up to speed with the product/space?

9. Approach the salary issue carefully

Be prepared to talk about salary, but try to avoid saying a number or range first. If the recruiter asks you for your range, respond with something along these lines:

  • “To me, it’s most important that I find a role and a company that I’m excited about. Maybe you could give me an idea of the salary range for this role and I can let you know if that’s in line with what I’ve been seeing elsewhere.”
  • Only if the salary range they share is lower than what you’ve been making, or lower than what other companies are offering, should you disclose numbers. If it’s a company you’re really excited about, but the salary is a little low, disclose the number you were making/had received as an offer and try to pre-negotiate to see if it’s possible to get something closer to your desired salary.

10. Don’t be shy about asking for help

Here’s what I would do differently if I was job hunting right now:

  • Check out this list of different companies and their current hiring status—hiring, laying people off or implementing a hiring freeze.
  • Look for local Facebook groups in your area that post job listings and referrals, and perhaps also offer a mentoring partner pairing program. Here’s the group I like for the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • Tell everyone you know that you are looking for a new job, and share with them the type of companies and titles you are most interested in. Make public posts on all your social media accounts as well as individually reaching out to people. Now is not the time to be shy—it is the time for people to band together and help each other out. People can’t help you if you don’t ask for help, and this includes giving them information about what you’re looking for.

Related Articles:

About the Author

Leslie King is a Senior Events Specialist at Databricks, a software, data, and AI company in San Francisco. Databricks helps organizations make their data ready for analytics, empowers data science and data-driven decisions, and rapidly adopt machine learning. Leslie’s experience includes live and virtual events and conferences, advertising, branding, e-commerce, and marketing. She is a graduate of the University of San Francisco with a degree in Advertising. She can be reached on LinkedIn and would be happy to refer to any open roles from the Databricks career page (currently hiring globally across multiple departments).

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Leadership Changes: 12 Ways to Reassure Employees

Big internal transitions can have a challenging impact on businesses, especially when leadership is changing. In order to ensure a seamless transition if you are bringing in a new leader, it’s important to proactively ease any concerns and be available to answer questions your team may have about the new manager.

To find out more, we asked the members of Young Entrepreneur Council for their insights on this question:

Transition can be hard on teams, particularly if leadership is changing. What is the best way to help employees and ease concerns when there is a leadership transition?

1. Craft an internal communications plan

Craft a communications plan early in the process and commit to communicating with transparency. Develop supporting materials for leaders like talking points, FAQs, updated org charts, etc. Address the questions at the forefront of employees’ minds—e.g., what does this mean for me and my job? Encourage questions and answer as openly as possible. —Traci Beach, Craft Impact

 

2. Set clear post-transition expectations

The most significant concern an employee has during leadership transitions is whether their jobs are safe. It’s vital to create a post-transition plan where roles and expectations are clearly defined. Sharing this information will go a long way to ease concerns during a leadership transition. —Blair Williams, MemberPress

 

3. Make yourself available and ask for feedback

We’ve had a change in leadership this year at my company, and I found that being entirely transparent and over-communicating helped my team with the transition in a way that made everyone feel more comfortable and less anxious. Having extra office hours and asking for lots of feedback can also help. It’s also vital to introduce leaders in a way that helps them connect with each team member. —Rachel Beider, PRESS Modern Massage

4. Have a succession plan

The only time a change in leadership would be particularly hard on a team is if they didn’t expect it. Having a succession plan ensures employees that the company has set goals and objectives that were set by previous leaders as well. A succession plan eases their worry and establishes confidence in the future of your company. —Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

 

5. Establish priorities for certain tasks

When leaders change and good executives leave, employees may find themselves struggling without their trusted mentors and with more work than usual. Communicate with your employees about the most important tasks that need to be completed during the transition period. That way they have a means to focus and to complete their projects in a timely fashion. —Riccardo Conte, Virtus Flow

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6. Acknowledge the discomfort

Be authentic and acknowledge that times of transition are inherently uncomfortable. Assure your team that you will share information as you are able to and will support them in this time of change. At the same time, keep focused on your goals and provide steady guidance to the team as you weather the transition together. —Stan Garber, Scout RFP

 

7. Hold 1:1 meetings with team members

During times of leadership transition, you should get together with your team members for 1:1 meetings. During these meetings, your employees can comfortably address their concerns or ask any questions they have. Doing this will help you get to know your employees better and you can make each of them more comfortable with the transition, based on their individual needs. —Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster

8. Remind them you’re still focused on the mission

People hate change, even though it can be a good thing. Everyone on our team buys into our overall mission. The mission doesn’t change when there are personnel changes. When there is management instability, it’s the perfect time to reiterate that we’re still focused on the bigger task at hand and that the vision is still the same. —Joel Mathew, Fortress Consulting

 

9. Be confidently transparent in real time

Uncertainty leads to unnecessary questions, worry, and rumors. Let employees know what’s going on, why it’s happening, and what that means for them moving forward before the questions start being asked. Only then can you beat the rumor mill. Confident transparency is a proactive solution that lets your employees know they are your priority during any transition. —Sasha Rowe, Rivvly

10. Ease into the transition

Although it’s not possible to slow down every aspect of a leadership transition, it is helpful to gently ease into one new change at a time. Give your employees the chance to adjust and also ask them for their feedback. Their feedback can actually help you do a better job. Ease into leadership transitions and give your employees the time to get used to new changes. —Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

 

11. Explain the “why”

The key to healthy transitions of leadership is to overcommunicate and consistently explain the “why” behind your decisions. We recently went through a lot of leadership changes, and the team was excited because there were no questions as to what was happening or why—instead they were all excited for those being promoted! —Kelsey Raymond, Influence & Co.

12. Define the future

Everyone asks a similar question during times of transition: “What does this mean for me?” Employees want to know how they fit into the objectives of a company’s changing leadership. Address this point upfront. Describe the future and what it looks like. Let them know the company’s mission isn’t changing, and define their new role. This will ease their concerns and excite them for the future. —Jordan Conrad, Writing Explained

RELATED: Failure to Communicate: How to Keep Stress Down When Managing People

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What Are the Benefits of Using CBD Oil?

What Are the Benefits of Using CBD Oil?

Written by: peterkim10110

CBD stands for cannabidiol, which is an extract of the cannabis plant. It is non-psychoactive meaning it will not make you feel high. That is one of the reasons why it is gaining popularity all over the world. The component is available in different forms such as oil, capsules, and creams. Note that your body has an endocannabinoid system already that regulates several functions such as mood, appetite, and immunity. CBD interacts with this system to cause valuable benefits in your organs. If you are not yet using cannabidiol oil, continue reading to find out some of the benefits it has to offer you.

Relieves anxiety

As one of the CBD oil benefits, this extract has links to anxiety reduction. It does so through communicating’ with receptors in the brain, allowing you to relax. Many situations in life require you to be calm such as waiting for an urgent call or meeting unfriendly people. CBD can help with that. It interacts with your brain to tell your body that everything will be fine and there is no need to be anxious.

Alleviates pain

The other benefit of CBD oil is relieving pain. Perhaps you are feeling pain in your back or neck. Cannabidiol can be helpful, considering it has anti-inflammatory properties. If you are struggling with arthritis, it is time to try CBD if medications have not been as effective. You can vape the oil to reduce pain.

Improves cardiovascular health

Stress causes various disorders, including hypertension. Studies show that CBD can aid in managing stress-related high blood pressure. Work and personal life can weigh you down so much that you cannot help but stress yourself. It becomes hard not to think about your issues all the time. Meditation, yoga, and other healthy suggestions cannot help you stop. CBD assists you curb stress for a healthier life. If you are a stress-eating individual, cannabidiol goes a long way in preventing you from gaining extra weight due to overeating. You will not crave to eat more even, as it helps reduce stress.

Promotes healthy, attractive skin

Note that CBD is anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial. Inflammation is one of the causes of acne. CBD oil counters its effects by preventing it from happening in the first place. This way, it assists in preventing the formation of pimples, which worsen acne. The face is the mostly acne affected body part because we tend to touch it maybe when yawning, thinking, or removing food particles. Our hands transfer dirt and bacteria to the face making it prone to breakouts. CBD reduces acne-causing bacteria.   CBD oil has anti-aging properties as well; therefore, it improves the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, leaving you with youthful, attractive skin. It also has moisturizing properties and fosters cell repair and balance oil secretion in the skin. Cannabidiol harbors antioxidant elements; therefore, it prevents inflammation, consequently barring cell death.

Elevates mood

It is possible that you are not stressed or depressed. Perhaps you are tired or bored. You have woken up in a bad mood. CBD is a great mood booster. It promotes the secretion of serotonin; therefore, improving your mood.

Enhances sleep quality

Stress, anxiety, and depression contribute to poor sleep quality. When you consume CBD oil, you stand a chance to improve and sleep better as the oil is fundamental in reducing stress and anxiety. Sleep determines how productive you are. When you get a good night sleep, you wake up in an excellent mood, feeling energized to run errands and become productive.

CBD oil has links to many other health benefits such as aiding digestion, fostering immunity, promoting healthy blood sugar levels, boosting energy levels, encouraging cell regeneration, and boosting healthy hair growth.

The oil is also great for animals too. Do you have a dog as a pet? Consider giving it CBD chew treats, as they will keep it active and prevent anxiety. Use oral sprays and drops to boost your loyal friend’s mood and CBD shampoo to rejuvenate its skin and fur.

Are you looking for a CBD products dealer? CTFO is a credible online platform that allows you to shop for various items and gives you a chance to become an associate.

Why CTFO (Changing the Future Outcome)?

We are a leading CBD business offering CBD and health products. Our establishment provides you with a wide range of items (more than 70 products) to purchase, including CBD oil, drops, cheesecake, Ze-rub, Roll-on pain rub, and pain cream. Whatever kind of CBD oil form you are looking be it drops or cream, we have it.

Visit our website for a detailed look at what we are offering. We have a 60-day money back guarantee. If you are not satisfied with the products, we ship to you, you can always return them within the stipulated time for a refund.

CTFO is not only about you making purchases, but you can also become our associate. You get to work from the comfort of your home sharing with others about our business. How? It is easy. Once you sign up on our site as an associate, we give you your own website free, which you will use to spread the word about our company and get a commission.

Joining our CTFO Associates Program is free. You do not pay a dime to sign up, nor do we charge website fees. Besides, you will not need to create, maintain, or update the website. That is on us. Your work is to log in, reach out to people, push our products, and earn cash for your efforts.  The sign-up process is simple. Fill in your name, email address, phone number, address, city, country, state, post/ZIP code, and a password then submit the details.

CBD has proven to help users with various health issues such as stress, pain, anxiety, hypertension, acne, cell repair, and immunity. Despite the need for more research about its potential, it is worth trying since there are positive reports about its health benefits. It is crucial that before using CBD oil, you speak with your doctor to gauge whether it is safe for you to use or not. As you utilize CBD for discomforts such as pain and acne, you can also give it to your dog and increase its energy levels, reduce anxiety, and excite it.

10 Procrastination Traps That Ensnare Home-Based Business Owners—Here’s How to Break Free

Running a business from the comfort of your own home has many benefits—a flexible work schedule and zero commute, for example. Yet, working from home also has its fair share of time-wasting traps.

That’s why we asked entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council the following question:

Q. What is one way people waste time running a business from home and how can they can be more productive?

1. Going through the motions

Working from home takes discipline and efficiency. You might feel additional pressure to “put the hours in,” but you can also get stuck in a rut of simply going through the motions, without actually being focused on accomplishing specific tasks. When focusing on accomplishing specific tasks, progress takes place. Simply going through the motions pretending to be busy is wasted time. —Shawn Schulze, HomeArea.com

2. Task management

It’s easy to be distracted at home. You’re working on something and then Amazon delivers a package, or you try to watch a show in the background, or your kids are running around. Ironically, people lose focus at home, so I recommend getting out of the house and setting up “remotely” for a day. Being around other people, even at a coffee shop, can be helpful to stay on top of your tasks. —Joel Mathew, Fortress Consulting

3. No clear boundaries

As someone who runs her business from home, it’s seriously easy for projects to take a lot of time or procrastination to happen if there aren’t clear boundaries. I often schedule myself a specific date and time allotment for a project, to make certain it gets done (versus just having it as an item on a to-do list for an abstract period of time). Knowing I need to do something at 3 p.m. for an hour helps. —Rachel Beider, PRESS Modern Massage

4. Not separating family and work time

Task switching is incredibly expensive. Going to an office lets you physically go somewhere else during your work time, so you have easier work-life balance. Working from home requires you to do that in your own way, which I have seen many people do poorly. They usually work too much, because there is no separator between home life and work. —James Guldan, Vision Tech Team

5. Inefficient communication

When running a business from home you can communicate with employees and customers by phone, email, text, instant messaging—the list goes on. If you don’t have a communication plan in place, you’ll be sending communications through all of these platforms and checking all of these platforms throughout the day, too, which can be a big time waster. Instead, choose one communication method that works best for everyone. —Blair Williams, MemberPress

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6. Business admin

Admin is a necessary evil. But there are many ways to streamline and reduce admin time by outsourcing. If you run a business from home, chances are you do a lot of everything, instead of focusing on growth activities. If you outsource admin, then you can focus your time on growth activities that are going to pay off in the long term. It’s well worth exploring. —Baruch Labunski, Rank Secure

7. Too many breaks

It’s extremely easy to get comfortable when working from home and lose track of how many breaks you may have taken to do tasks around the house. Keep yourself disciplined by following a schedule of breaks, and give your breaks a specific purpose, versus walking away from your desk whenever you want to. Putting scheduled breaks on your calendar will ensure you don’t waste any time throughout the day. —Roger Lee, Human Interest

8. Social media and chores

Nobody has a cleaner home then a procrastinator who works remotely! It’s really important to make a schedule and stick with it when you work from home. If you don’t define your working hours, then other demands are going to define you. And, of course, stay off Facebook! —Nicole Munoz, Nicole Munoz Consulting

9. Lack of accountability

If you are in an office surrounded by people that you pay, there is an incentive to work as hard and efficiently as possible. If you are working from a desk in your house with no one around, the sense of urgency disappears. You have to be good about creating deadlines and goals for yourself that you can adhere to. —Zach Binder, Bell + Ivy

10. Loose schedules

One of the perks of working remotely is you get to create your own schedule. But that’s the problem, many remote workers don’t actually create a schedule for themselves. They sit down and work for a bit, then think, “Oh, I’ll finish this later,” and come back hours later. This isn’t good for productivity. Instead, create a schedule for yourself and stick to it. —John Turner, SeedProd

RELATED: 101 Secrets to Running a Successful Home-Based Business

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How to Create High-Performing Marketing Videos for Your Business

By Lilach Bullock

The importance of using video to promote your business cannot be understated. With 82% of Twitter users consuming video content via the app, and close to half (45%) of individuals devouring over an hour of visual content on either Facebook or YouTube each and every week, the expectations of modern audiences is rather obvious: they crave video, and if you won’t give it to them, your competitor(s) almost certainly will.

Crafting quality video content for your social media channels, as well as for your blogs, product and landing pages, and email blasts, is a no-brainer. But getting it right is also an art form. Providing the content is visually stimulating and the audio clear; however, videos will certainly yield results, reliably increasing the length of time people spend on your page and giving you a better opportunity to convey your USP. If you elect to star in the video yourself or put one or more of your underlings front and centre, you’ll enhance the trust factor into the bargain. We like to know who we are buying from, after all.

Keen to learn how to get started with video marketing? In this blog post, I’m going to show you how to create high-performing marketing videos for your business.

Where can you best leverage videos?

Before we get into how you can actually craft impactful videos and tools that may help with this, it’s good to have an idea of where you’ll be posting your content once it’s ready. After all, while it’s easy to see why customers desire video, it requires some mental gymnastics to envision where best to deploy them.

The fact is, there are many areas of your business wherein you can make improvements with video content. Indeed, you probably already use videos as part of your staff training. However, for the purposes of this article we are going to focus on marketing—using videos to both widen your audience and engage more fruitfully with existing followers.

There are a few key areas which virtually every business could strengthen with the addition of video. These are:

On social media channels: Over 500 million Facebook users watch videos on the platform every day. That’s right: Every. Single. Day. If that lone stat doesn’t compel you to make videos a mainstay of your online marketing strategy, nothing will.

Keep social video short (no more than a minute), incorporate captions and on-screen text highlights, provide value without being “salesy,” and most importantly, don’t omit a call to action. It’s awesome getting people to watch till the end, but you’re probably not in the business of racking up views with no firm goal in mind. You’ll want to get the viewer off Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and, ideally, over to your website.

Using short, easy-to-digest videos on social is a great way to improve engagement, create a buzz, and win more followers. Needless to say, you should post a variety of video types (stories, explainers, office tours, product demos, etc.) to maintain your followers’ interest.

In email marketing campaigns: If you’re going to the trouble of creating slick videos, why on earth wouldn’t you put them in emails for readers to enjoy? By integrating video into your marketing campaign, research shows you will boost the all-important open rate; you’ll also be able to get people onto your pages or content and drive more traffic, if that is the goal, as well as increase the likelihood readers will resonate with your message so they take action

On product and landing pages: Videos work especially well on product and landing pages, because they represent a passive engagement medium, improve trust in your brand, and increase the amount of time people will spend on your landing pages. While some products or services may necessitate a more detailed video, others will be better suited to a 15- or 30-second slot. Just remember to use directional cues within landing page videos, directing the viewer to your conversion goal.

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Top tips for creating videos yourself

Unless you’re a videographer who’s au fait with the particulars of the profession, you’d better heed the following tips.

  • Use a tripod. While you can film quality footage with an inexpensive digital camera, or even your smartphone, nervous hands make for amateurish footage. Get a tripod and avoid unwanted camera motion.
  • Ensure good lighting. If filming outdoors, you’ll need to monitor the sun’s position to get the best shots; position whomever you’re filming so they’re facing the sun and it’s at your back. If capturing footage indoors, adding lights is a wise idea with the standard three-light setup usually a good bet. Trial and error might be the way to go here, although you’ll find plenty of lighting tips from seasoned videographers online.
  • Optimise for different platforms. Different platforms have different expectations with regards to video format. Don’t worry, though, the following tools will let you share videos in a variety of formats.

Tools for creating high-impact videos

Here are three super easy to use video creation tools to get you started:

Wave.video

Wave.video is one of the top online video makers around, as it’s very easy to use and features numerous features which are highly relevant to businesses and marketers. Whether you’re a small business owner, multi-project entrepreneur ,or social media marketing manager, you’ll benefit from a choice of 200 million stock videos and images, customizable templates which let you add your personal touch, plus the ability to watermark your videos. You can also share videos direct to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Dropbox, and even CRMs like HubSpot.

Vyond

Vyond lets you embrace the power of online video, even if you’ve no prior knowledge. A clever web-based tool built for people of all skill levels in all industries, Vyond distinguishes itself by letting you create groovy whiteboard animations as well as animated gifs, 2D cartoons, video infographics, and more. Nifty features like royalty-free audio effects, character lip-sync, and a collaborative video plan make this tool a winner.

Adobe Spark

You’ll almost certainly be familiar with the name Adobe, one of the world’s great multinational software companies. That sterling reputation is upheld by Spark, a free tool which lets you craft custom videos in a matter of minutes. Just follow the simple drag-and-drop interface, upload your footage, add music, and type captions. It might not be as sophisticated as the other options, but it’s a great place to start.

Conclusion

Video is not the future; it’s the here and now. Thankfully, going from not creating videos at all to quickly churning them out is much more achievable than it sounds. With a bit of research and minimal investment, you can raise your game in the digital space in no time.

Wondering where to start? We’d say your best bet is to draft up a list of video ideas. Then get filming!

RELATED: Lights, Camera, Action! Simple Ways to Improve On-Camera Performance in Corporate Videos

About the Author

Post by: Lilach Bullock

Highly regarded on the world speaker circuit, Lilach Bullock has graced Forbes and Number 10 Downing Street. She’s a hugely connected and highly influential entrepreneur. She is listed in Forbes as one of the top 20 women social media power influencers, named one of 10 top digital marketers by Brand24, and was crowned the Social Influencer of Europe by Oracle. She is listed as the number one Influencer in the UK by Career Experts and is a recipient for a Global Women Champions Award for her outstanding contribution and leadership in business.

Website: www.lilachbullock.com
Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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Are Small Business Websites Obsolete?

As more and more information appears in search results—from snippets that answer searchers’ questions to maps and how-to videos—it may seem as if the humble business website is just an afterthought. When prospective customers can get directions to your store from opening a map, click to call your business directly from search results, or see your latest promotion on social media, you might be wondering, “What do I need a website for?”

While there are many other ways for prospects and customers to find your business, a website still holds a unique place. Websites continue to be the top marketing channel for small and midsized businesses, according to the Local Search Association (LSA). According to an LSA-sponsored Local Media Tracking Survey, more than seven in 10 U.S. consumers report using a company website in the past month to get local business information.

Going forward, business websites will be just as important—but in order to succeed, your website needs to transform from a static presence into a vital “hub.” That’s the conclusion of Local Data Hub: The Future of SMB Websites by the LSA. Here’s what the report found about why small business websites still matter and what you should do about it.

Small business websites give you control

A website is the only digital asset that your business actually owns. You can make your Google My Business listing or Facebook page as detailed as you want, but if Google or Facebook decide to change how they do things, your efforts could be wiped out. As any small business owner who’s active on social media knows, keeping up with the changing rules and algorithms of various social networking sites is practically a full-time job.

On your website, you have complete control of the content and ownership of the information. As long as you maintain updated registration of your domain name, you don’t have to worry about someone else making changes that will affect how your site looks or what information viewers can see.

One-quarter of consumers reported turning to websites when ready to buy, the highest percentage of the 13 media channels analyzed in the study.

Small business websites have depth of information

While search results, review sites, and social media offer “top-level” data such as your contact information, the hours your business is open, or your address, your website can go much deeper. Surface-level information is important when prospective customers are just deciding which businesses to consider, but for more complex purchases, customers generally need more information. For example, they might want to check your inventory, see testimonials from previous customers, or read about your company history.

The data on your website fuels search engine results. As search engines present users with more and more local information, such as featured snippets or the knowledge panel, remember that most of that information comes from business websites. In other words, even if your customers aren’t directly accessing your site, they’re still benefiting from the content on your website during the search process.

In fact, providing authoritative content to search engines is now a primary function for business websites, the report contends. “Local business data historically meant name, address and phone number,” the authors say. “But the definition of local data has expanded to include products and services, images and video, secondary business attributes and other types of content”—all of which come from business websites.

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Your website can capture customer data

While customers are using your website to learn about your business, you can (and should) use your website to learn more about your customers. Website analytics and performance metrics such as clicks, engagement and form fills can be used to see which advertising campaigns, social media profiles, and online content are most effective at attracting customers. By capturing insights about visitors, such as what pages of your site customers visit most and what products are most popular, you can fine-tune your website to make it more effective.

Add a customer relationship management (CRM) app into the mix, and you can use your website insights to reach out to customers with personalized marketing messages and tailored online experiences. A business website gives you the opportunity to capture the same kinds of data—and use it for the same marketing opportunities—as big companies do.

How to get the most from your business website

So how can you ensure your business website is doing what you need it to do?

  • Keep up to date on search engine optimization (SEO) trends and best practices. The data on your website (especially local data such as address, hours, contact information, etc.) should be properly structured and presented for maximum visibility in search results—both traditional search and voice assisted search.
  • Create high-quality, relevant content tailored for your customers’ needs. Useful content following SEO best practices not only helps your site get found, but also makes it into snippets and other top-level search results.
  • Be a source for local listings. Keep your data up to date and integrate your site with third-party listing management services to get found in local search directories.
  • Keep your site up to par. Stay on top of trends to ensure your site keeps pace with mobile developments and provides a consistent user experience (UX). Make it easy to use with click-to-call functionality, maps, online chat, online scheduling, or whatever will enhance your website visitors’ experience.

The key is to make your small business website more than a static “brochure.” A dynamic “data hub” that enables accurate business information to flow across the internet will help consumers find you. By helping convert prospects to customers, a better website leads to more sales both online and off.

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Five Best Work from Home Online Jobs That Pay Well

Five Best Work from Home Online Jobs That Pay Well

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Working from home has grown to become an industry of its own over the past decade and a half. According to a study done in 2017 by Global Workplace Analytics, the number of people who work remotely at least for half of the time grew by 115 per cent from 1.8 million in 2005 to 3.9 million in 2017. That is exponential growth, and the number has kept increasing.

The popularity of online jobs has mostly been fueled by the convenience they offer, relatively easy entry levels and a high potential for growth as well as the excellent pay. On the other hand, employers too are preferring outsourcing many of their functions and needs, to freelancers thanks to savings they make of labor cost and other resources. The same study found that employers save about $11,000 for every individual who normally works from home at least half of his/her time. If the high demand, convenience, and rewards has got you thinking about work from home options, here are some you should consider.

 


1. Virtual Assistant

Working as a virtual assistant is one of the most rewarding and also broad ways you can make money online. The title covers a lot of things as virtual assistant offer support and services ranging from administrative, creative or technical across all industries. Pick areas you are skilled at and either join a firm or start your own company covering a range of subjects. The pay ranges from $25,000 to $75,000 annually.

 


2. Web Designer/Developer

Web developers and designers are responsible for creating the look and function of a website as well as maintaining it and customizing to its purpose. Thanks to a boom in e-commerce, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the field will grow by 15 %. The median annual pay is $67,990.

 


3. Graphic Designer

Unlike the web designer, the graphic designer is not limited to websites and commercial platforms. Developing skills in this area rewards greatly since the range of clients looking for logos, brochures, T-Shirts, advertisements and much more. The median annual pay is at $48, 700.

 


4. Content Writer/Editor

Content writing and editing have been one of the earliest forms of online jobs as many companies and individuals needed copy for their blogs and business content both online and offline. The demand has kept on rising resulting in lucrative earnings for good writers. Median annual pay is about $61,820

 


5. Teacher or Tutor

Much of the learning nowadays takes place online. Whether it is a new language, DIY skill or professional course, many platforms and individuals are looking for teachers and tutors. Some states have also made it possible for children in public schools to learn online. You can join any of the schools and course platforms or create your own and seek clients from different freelance platforms. You can also go ahead and do your own advertising etc. Median pay depends on the subjects, level, and workload and goes from $50,000 to $80,000. Search for Tutors on Wyzant!

Making money online can be the break you need to achieve work and family balance or break your reliance on a salary as well as chase your entrepreneurial dream. Pick what you love and do not shy off