Style of Business - Page 2

New! SOB Episode with Artist/Musician & Producer Nkenge 1X

I had a great time speaking with the very talented Nkenge in this latest episode. We discuss Nkenge’s musical background, his passion for creating new material, his single and upcoming album. We also talk about how he’s taken his career into his hands and created opportunities for himself.

You can check out his single “Wayment” on Spotify or connect with him on Twitter @nkenge1xmusic

Branding Mistakes You Might be Making Right Now

brandmistakes Not every branding idea you come up with is going to be a winner – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Branding swings and misses can teach you very valuable business lessons, and that’s something you should take away from all of your mistakes. Whether your sales are slowing down or you royally flub up a marketing opportunity, take the positive out of the negative: at least now you know what not to do.

That being said, this is only completely true if you know what you’ve done wrong. For instance, your sales numbers are indeed going down – but why? Without knowing this critical component of the problem, you’re still stuck at square one. This is why identifying these common yet devastating branding mistakes is crucial to your overall success in marketing.

Your brand is purposeless.

A sloppy brand indicates a sloppy business. While many assume that marketing is the cornerstone of every business, it’s actually the brand image – this image should be present in all aspects of the business, from every piece of content tweeted to every mock advertising graphic made in Photoshop.

Because of this, a brand is supposed to have purpose and be easily definable. If you can’t easily come up with a two-to-three sentence long statement about your business’ brand identity, you’re doing it really, really wrong.

There’s no set voice to your brand.

Think about your favorite character on television or from a film. You can identify them by their voice – which is to say, both how they speak and the things they say. Now imagine a completely different voice coming out of their mouth. It’s kind of jarring, isn’t it?

Consumers identify businesses in a very similar way, which is based on how they sound and the way they say what they’re trying to convey. This isn’t necessarily about getting the same voice actor for every commercial either – do you think the same voices have been featured in every Coca Cola add for the past 50 years? No – but the brand image has a certain style to it that’s consistent. That’s the voice.

All of your content and marketing should carry this voice throughout. Without a consistent brand voice, your ship is sunk.

You aren’t investing capital.

New entrepreneurs with new businesses are often squeamish about spending money – and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing in and of itself. It’s good to be conscious of your budget, but remember the old adage? You have to spend money to make money? Sometimes it’s true.

While it might be a lot cheaper to come up with your branding ideas in your garage over a couple beverages with friends, let’s be real – the best branding ideas likely aren’t just going to fall out of the sky and onto the hood of your car or kitchen counter. Spending money on expert branding advice can be critical to establishing your brand as a whole.

It’s unnecessary to pour your life’s savings into branding, but consider this – you get what you pay for, so why not spring for a branding consultant who’s worth the money?

Female Entrepreneur Blogs to Start Following Immediately


It isn’t exactly a man’s world anymore. Though many sectors are still dominated by male presence, it’s becoming more and more common for women in the workplace to take over positions of power.

However, women who are just getting started on their career paths often find it hard to thrive in an environment that has been filled with roadblocks for so long. Even though the overall business culture is changing, it’s still common that they’ll run into misogyny in the workplace.

In cases like these, it’s important that female entrepreneurs and career women have someone to look up to – an example of female success. Here are a few blogs run by female entrepreneurs and businesswomen worth looking into.

Marie Forleo

Born and raised in New Jersey, Marie Forleo graduated from Seton Hall University in 1997. She held a degree in business finance which helped her secure a job as a trading assistant in the New York Stock Exchange. From there she moved on to work for the magazines “Gourmet” and “Mademoiselle” where she began to branch out into the world of branding and began to create her own image for herself.

You may recognize her as the author of the famous book “Make Every Man Want You: How to Be So Irresistible You’ll Barely Keep from Dating Yourself!” Forleo is currently running her blog and works as owner of Marie Forleo International, as well as the companies B-School and MarieTV.

Amber Rae

Amber Rae’s entrepreneurial attitude began at a young age. She sold candy to her neighbors, leaving notes on cars as a form of marketing and documented the entire journey in her journal. Now she works with hundreds of different creative and entrepreneurs. At 11, Rae launched an e-zine for teenage girls and she hasn’t stopped creating since.

Clients Rae has worked with include Apple and The Future Project, and her work has been featured in outlets such as The New York Times and Forbes. Her blog covers her journey and life experiences that have led her to the current points in her life.

Kristi Hines

Since 2008, Kristi Hines has been writing about marketing and business. If you need to know anything about a marketing topic, Hines is the person you should go to before anyone else. She’s the owner of marketing curation blog Kikolani and you’ve likely seen her post work to other big marketing blogs – Search Engine Watch and Social Media Examiner to name two. Hines has also worked with big marketing companies like KISSmetrics and Sprout Social. Hines has written over 1.5 million words across 1,000 blog posts.

Maren Kate

If there was ever a business “Jack of all trades,” it would be Maren Kate. After dropping out of University of Nevada at Reno, Kate found herself needing to find a way to make ends meet. She picked up odd jobs, like selling jewelry on eBay and working as a social media guru for “The Pawn Stars,” just to name a few of her entrepreneurial gigs.

Kate’s claim to fame is Zirtual, a company that helps to connect entrepreneurs to virtual assistants. Now Kate has left that company and is back to escaping the 9 to 5, much like her new book suggests.

5 Quick Lifehacks for Getting Motivated Every Single Day

5 Quick Lifehacks for Getting Motivated
Not every day is one where you’ll wake up and feel bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and ready to take on the day. No, we’ve all had days where we slump out of bed, wish we could sleep another 12 hours and slog through our day, hoping to just crawl back into bed at the end of the day.

Being motivated can be hard at times, especially when you’re exhausted and work-weary. Don’t worry – there are ways to fix you up to be more motivated, even when you’re not feeling your best. These quick and simple lifehacks can be used every single day in order to motivate yourself to be the best you that you can be, no matter how you’re feeling right now.

Little Reminders Everywhere You Go

All you need for this motivational lifehack is a typing program, a printer, some scissors and tape. Go online and find some of your favorite motivation quotes, song lyrics or words. Paste them into your typing program and print out one or two copies. Cut the quotes into strips, then tape them up in areas you know you’ll see them daily. Next to the coffee pot, at the top of your computer – everywhere you look you’ll see something that makes you smile.

Find a Motivation Partner

When you only have yourself to rely on, it can be easy to shirk your responsibilities. However, partnering with others can give you a motivational boost that you can’t achieve on your own. Even if it’s just a couple text messages every day or a five minute phone call, check in with a buddy who also has a goal they’re trying to achieve. Update each other and give each other reassurance that you will succeed.

Commit to Journaling

Sometimes just writing down what you have to do will get you pumped to actually go out and do it. You don’t have to write down every inner most thought you have in your journal – actually, don’t write for very long at all. If you force yourself to write for long periods of time, you’ll get bored and tired of the routine.

Instead, write a couple of short sentences about your goals for the day. This lists your major to-do list items and helps you clear your head for the day.

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

One of the best ways to motivate yourself is to put your money on the line. Think about this challenge: complete your entire to-do list or else you’ll have to put a $100 bill in the blender.

Maybe this is a bit of an extreme when it comes to motivation, but the smartphone app Pact asks for your credit card information in order to help motivate you. If you complete your goals? You’ll be given cash. Skip out on a few? The app will take cash from you. Better not let that hard-earned money go to waste.

Gifts are Great Too

Don’t be afraid to get a little Kindergarten now and again. When you complete a task, give yourself a gift – nothing major, but a little dollar object that makes you happy. Go to your local dollar store and stock up on small trinkets – lotions, soaps, small gadgets and other small gifts that are all $1-$2 dollars. At the end of the month, if you’ve completed a majority of your goals, reward yourself with something a little more expensive as a treat.

How Successful People Do More in 24 Hours Than the Rest of Us Do in a Week

Have you ever noticed how successful people do so much? Maybe that seems a little redundant or silly. Of course they do a lot – they’re successful, aren’t they? But have you ever sat back and thought about the correlation there? Successful people don’t get a lot accomplished because they are successful. They became successful because they were productive in the first place.

CEOs and entrepreneurs didn’t get to the position they’re in now without being productivity gurus. The good news? Everyone can get on their level. Adjust your thinking – don’t think that people are born productive and successful. Anyone can learn some simple skills and lifehacks that can make them more productive than the common man.

The following are a smattering of mental adjustments and tips you can start thinking about every time you look at your to-do list. The more you utilize and internalize them, the further you step onto your path towards success.

  • First, start being more positive. Negativity can be what stifles you more than anything. Start thinking that you WILL succeed and you’ll be amazed by how much more you’ll get one in a day.
  • Start getting organized. This is super basic – but it’s also something that many people don’t do. Spend a day clearing out your desk and setting up an organization system. You’ll thank yourself for it.
  • Scheduling is a big part of being successful. When you set up certain periods of time each day for each of your tasks, you’re more likely to accomplish all of them.
  • How do successful people do it? They have people to help them out. You may not make enough to have five personal assistants, but you do have family and friends to keep you on task. Set up a system that gives you a productivity buddy or two. When you have someone there to help make sure you’re following through, you’re more likely to be productive.
  • Successful people also utilize technology to help them succeed. Whether it’s through a calendar service or apps that help them plan and optimize their day, start saying yes to technology throughout your day – just don’t get succeed into time sink sites and apps.
  • Another trait that successful people have is they’re goal-oriented. While it’s good to be productive just based on principal, you have a better chance at overall success if you have a reason for being productive to begin with. Whether it’s a business venture or a more personal goal, have a reason for your productivity in order to drive yourself to commit to your good habits.
  • Stop being afraid of failure. Successful people have all experienced a bump or two in the road – but does that get them down? No! This may seem a little cheesy, but it’s true. Your probably don’t realize it, but you’re likely afraid of fear and get harder on yourself when you don’t live up to your own standards. Accept failure, learn from it and make the experience something to reflect upon instead.
  • Lastly, successful people stay ahead of the curve. Don’t be afraid to be innovative or try new things. One of the best ways to be successful and productive at the same time is to always look for a new way to optimize your day.

6 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Master the Skill of Leadership

There are a lot of traits every entrepreneur must have to be successful. Productive, confident, critical and innovative. All of these character traits make an entrepreneur who they are – a strong businessperson who knows what they’re doing and exudes that quality to everyone they know.

But what if you’re an entrepreneur who isn’t exactly a leader? Not all entrepreneurs automatically come equipped with a strong knack for leadership. This is something fixable, though. Keep these six methods in mind in order to start better honing your leader skills.

Always be willing to listen.

One of the greatest skills an entrepreneur can master is learning to listen. In a boss role, it’s easy for entrepreneurs to get into a “my way or the highway” mentality. Break this habit and hold regular employee, staff and/or team meetings.

When you learn what sort of input those beneath you in the ranks have to give, this helps you in two ways. One, you’ll learn about the inner workings of your business. Two, your employees will respect you more because you’re willing to put them on the same plane as you.


Get on top of your deadlines.

There’s no such thing as a good leader who’s late. It’s not uncommon for office workers to push deadlines or forget an assignment – it’s not a good thing, but it’s certainly not uncommon. Leaders, however, have an example to set. When they miss their deadlines, they show that they aren’t organized or serious about success.

When you fix both of these problems, you show that you’re a good leader because you’re willing to go the extra mile to make sure things get done. Conquer your deadlines and become the leader you want to be.


Communicate constantly.

Good leaders communicate all the time – whether it’s to their team or their partners, they constantly have to be talking about their ideas, their plans and making sure everyone in their business is on the same page.

Just like you need to be able to listen, you have to be able to speak about the things you think, know and hear as an entrepreneur. When you master this skill, you show you have what it takes to lead.


Hone your cooperation and personal skills.

With all this listening and talking going on within your business, you should have developed some good interpersonal skills. However, there have been many leaders who know how to listen and communicate, but they don’t know to actually make connections with people.

A good leader is someone who knows how to cooperate with others, is a personable boss and colleague, and they also have a knack for connecting with others as a person, not just a business associate.


Learn to come second.

You won’t be coming in first every time. As a leader, sometimes your needs aren’t what need to be met at the moment. If you need to take a pay cut in order to pay your employees, so be it. Good leaders are people who understand that they might be the boss, but employees come first.


Have a way with words.

Consider a good leader. They’re confident, right? This confidence comes through in how they speak with people – both in personal and business settings.

Confidence isn’t just about thinking you’re great. It’s about being able to speak to others in any situation and show that you don’t just think you’re great – you ARE great, and it shows.

Effective Strategies for Testing New Branding Ideas

So you have to come up with new brand strategies. How do you test if it works?

There’s a certain art to effectively testing out branding strategies that you’re unsure of, and it’s definitely an art that takes a lot of practice to master. Marketing in general is something of a science – there’s a lot of psychology and numbers involved that makes it somehow both subjective and scientific at the same time. Branding and advertising have certain standards, but if every brand formula was so simple, there’d never be a failed advertising scheme or bankrupt business.

No matter how you test out your branding strategies, it’s imperative that they work. The only way to truly see your branding strategy’s success in action is to use testing methods that give you accurate results that you can visualize.

The following strategies can give you the data you need to make sure your recent branding venture is on point.

  • Social Media Competition – Pick two brand marketing ideas you want to try out on social media. Put both up in two different tweets. See which one does the best with your target audience. Don’t just go off of retweets and likes, either – your true analytics data should be what you go off of first and foremost.
  • Ask Outside Sources – Sometimes you get too absorbed in being a boss and worker that you forget to think like a customer. Sure, the obvious solution is to do blind studies with strangers in a controlled setting, and this is indeed an effective method of market testing. However, also get up close and personal with your ideas – ask your family. Don’t go straight to the family member you know will be easy on you either. Go for that brother or sister who points out your flaws and gets on your nerves. They honest and biting critique can actually serve you well when it comes to branding criticism.
  • Go Undercover – Try your branding out on your own coworkers and staff. If you’re a nutrition company, set up a faux bake sale stand near the front of the office. Get someone to say they’re trying to help their kid out with a bake sale or experiment and ask if they can help buy the products so they can meet the set out goal. Offer up several samples – mock ups of your own branding ideas – and keep track of who chooses what, as well as which gets chosen the most. Adapt the method to whatever your company produces and get creative with it.
  • Do a Blind Vote – Sometimes, even in the most tightknit office, people aren’t willing to speak their mind about their criticisms. When you’re testing out a branding idea, don’t ask for anyone to give their opinion directly. Instead, hand out index cards and ask for your coworkers to write their most biting thoughts on their cards – anonymously. Gather and shuffle the cards, then read them aloud for others to comment on the criticisms. This way you can honestly see what works and what doesn’t in a safe way.

10 Minutes of Fitness Can Make You More Productive

You’re sitting all day at the office. Sitting to work, sitting to eat, sitting on the way home. You probably get to your house, sit on the couch, and then sit in bed before you lay down. When you work a lot, you become really sedentary, and this isn’t the answer to a healthy and happy life.

There’s also another problem happening here – when you sit and sit all day, you aren’t operating at your best. When you’re at work you should be firing on all cylinders, not slumping through each day wishing it was over. When you sit and don’t move, you aren’t as productive as you could be.

Here’s a fun fact for you – every year you get older, your brain’s ability to generate brain cells depletes. If you want to help curb this process, exercise is the answer. In the short term, even exercising for 10 minutes a day can help your blood circulate to your brain, keeping you sharper. When your brain is engaged, it’s staying healthy and youthful.

The happier your brain is, the more productive you are as a person. A fully engaged brain is one that is getting things done, which means you could be wasting your potential just sitting in your desk chair for hours on end. Thankfully it’s not hard to get your brain going again, even at work. Those 10 minutes that it takes to get your brain going can be done sporadically throughout the day in short bursts – or you can literally work on them while you’re working!

Not to mention, in general, exercising is good for your body and overall well-being. These exercises are all doable at work, no matter if you reside in a cubicle or the top floor office. What are you waiting for?

  • Leg Lifts – Sit at a desk all day? It’s like that this sedentary position keeps your legs in a near-still state for long periods of time, cutting off circulation. You may shuffle or cross and uncross them occasionally, but that’s not doing much. It may not seem like a lot, but do some leg lifts while you’re sitting down and working. Life one leg from the knee, hold for five seconds, and put it down. Alternate back and forth for as long as you’d like. This extra movement is enough to get your brain back in motion, especially because now it’s working harder to focus on counting and your work at the same time.
  • Dine and Dash – So you’re at work on your lunch break, sitting at your desk or in the break room. Instead of simply sitting through your lunch break, walk around and eat – where it’s polite to, of course. If you can go outside, walk around your building while you enjoy your salad or burrito. Try to keep things healthy (but that’s for another post). Getting out and moving around can get your creative and productive juices flowing again.
  • Work Rewards – Make it into a game. Pick an exercise that’s simple or that you enjoy doing, like toe touches or squats. Tell yourself that after every five minutes you spend fully focused on work, you get up and do your decided upon exercise. Once you’ve done 12 reps in a row, so you’ve worked and exercised for approximately an hour, take a 15-minute work break – if you’re allowed of course. If not, find another way to treat yourself for the accomplishment. When you feel accomplished, you’re more likely to be productive.
  • PE Routine – If you want to get your work workout over with all in one fell swoop, that’s fine. Just wait until your longest break and think back to middle school gym class. Go through about 15-20 reps of the most basic stretches and exercises like high knees, the butterfly position, a jumping jack or two. This can get your circulation going and boosts your productivity after a long and boring afternoon.

How Visually Appealing Goods Trigger Consumer Interest

When you are working up presentation ideas for whatever you want to market under the sun, it’s no secret that people have to like the way your images and appearance look. But there is an entire science that lies beneath just the first few thoughts any marketer has about visually appealing goods. Yes, your models and people can be attractive, but what about the WordPress theme, templates, colors, and text? What we have learned from many of our cohorts in media is that it only takes 1/10 of a second for people to form an opinion about your character, and websites are absolutely no different! We predict that that time frame is only going to get tighter, with some publications and bloggers claiming that web designers only have 50ms to make an impression. Even though that’s not a lot of time, there is plenty of positive news, and a lot of it is regarding the solution to appeal to a wide variety of viewers and tactics you can use.

What the most prominent names in the industry have decided is that the first impression depends on a lot of factors, but can be narrowed down just like any other. Key studies in this arena watched eye movement, how long participants took to focus on certain parts of a URL, and the menu, logo, images, and social media icons were the main focus. Many hours of research show that users spend about 6 seconds on a logo before moving on, the most important part, or “header” of a website. The main navigation menu takes a close second, also capturing an average mean time of about 6 seconds by the browser’s eye. The search bar is also a very important component of your website, where users can quickly look for what it is they are on the detective hunt for. When you are dealing with clothing and items in the fashion realm, also realize that first impressions in the web realm are 94% about design. Whether or not the layout is busy, half of all users surveyed say that typography, font sizes, color schemes are the most important things to them.

What most demographics that come out clearly in the wash tell us is that if people instantly like your website, they are willing to compensate for a few hiccups or misgivings down the line. The saying that the “above the fold” area is the most important really rings true, as the first second spent on the website is the most important. Bounce rates and subscription numbers are really the key elements to measure how the website is doing, and making things appealing visually are of utmost importance. Many website owners that we have talked to tell us that blue and green colors in web schemes attract browsers to stay, while other genres like the tones of red and black to convey their idea.

When dealing with a website, visual design and usability are the two most key assets, and it can take a few tweaks to get the idea perfect. In the fashion realm, most frames are best conveyed with the typical image that goes full screen when you hover over it or click on it, and shows you a boutique style image with goods for sale displayed. If the goods you are displaying are visually interesting, your target market will more than hover, they will be engaged and intrigued. The task of taking them happily through the shopping cart process and beyond is imperative, but you can do it with the perfect combination of design and above normal caliber engaging content.

Why We All Enjoy Apple’s Unveiling Events

The Art of Anticipation:
Back in the spring, Apple had many people anxiously awaiting their unveiling of the Apple watch, the first brave jump forward in the realm of wearable technology in quite some time. Apple CEO Tim Cook claimed that it was “The most personal device they had created”, and users rave about the useful elements it packs into this tiny wearable device. What is it about this iconic brand that makes it an absolute leader in the art of anticipation? The simple logo, unforgettable command of the market, and way in which the tech crowd truly gets revved up before a release seem unparalleled in the phone and gadget industry.

Before the introduction of the then-so-souped-up 486 processor, Apple’s II C’s were what many used for day to day computing, and users love the fact that the Macintosh did not have a universal language. At times, they were known to be way too expensive, but this trait also fueled consumer desire, as well as the ability to co-exist with XP and Windows Vista with the release of the Mac Book Pro around 2006.

The Excitement of Seeing What’s New: Almost every consumer around the globe wired to the internet knows that with some products, you’re always going to have a line out the door in anticipation. Currently selling three versions of the iPod and with versions of the iPhone seeming to come out more often than your lawn needs to be mowed, it was in January of 2007 that the iPhone was first introduced to a world that was more than anxious for it’s unveiling; the blogs and news wires had been alive for weeks.

Initially coming with an AT & T contract and a choice of 4 or 8 gigs of memory, the capacity was doubled just a year later to 16 Gig memory potential and prices were nearly slashed in half as the world took notice, and they one by one acquired customers that would probably never have a tendency to switch. There are many things different between a Samsung, Droid, and iPhone, but most of the savviest customers on the planet prefer the latter. September 25 is when the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus become available, and we guarantee that many people you know are waiting.

Being One of The First To Hear The News: The success of Apple and the drastically high number of folks who always want to be the first to see what’s cooking in their arena of tech offerings comes at no surprise. This is not quite the same as when America becomes enamored with programs like “Dancing With The Stars,” caught up in the very cultural phenomenon, and talking with everyone on social media to see what they missed. What’s really being cultivated here with great care and prowess is the fact that the apps, gadgets, ability to get email, and take very high-quality photos are right in the palm of your hand. Of course they are also in the same place with Droid and Samsung units, but the mystique and magic carpet element of Apple has always been held in high regard: the iPhone 5 sold two million units in the first day of pre-ordering alone.

Years ago, Apple overtook Nokia as the world’s largest smart phone maker by sheer volume, and the large draw to it’s features and appearance is more epic than ever. Being one of the first to hear what features these hot devices will have, all the specs available, and what will happen with the megapixel capability and more is all part of the visionary ride to anyone obsessed with Apple. Truly more of a brand that was portrayed in movies that really showed us what the future would be like, Apple will always hold the key to many geeks and artist’s hearts; what’s really changed is that the rest of the entire sphere of tangible consumers is now fully, (and quite happily), on board.