The good, the bad and the ugly of entrepreneur life. Are you up for it?

The good, the bad and the ugly of entrepreneur life. Are you up for it?

Everyone wants the entrepreneur life. Wear hoodies to the office (when you go to the office), which will be equipped with game rooms and cafeterias that serve ice cream and churros (mmm). Your work isn’t for a punch clock or manager, or even a paycheck. You set your hours. You assemble your team. You work really hard on something you love and ultimately build a company that changes the world. Then, you just live on top of the world getting profiled by magazines, signing book deals, getting paid enormous amounts for speaking engagements, and maybe best of all, living it up on your private island with former presidents. Hell yes. Entrepreneurship is good.

Except when it’s not. Companies–most of them–collapse. Money is lost, sometimes millions (sometimes more). Years are lost. After years of devotion to an idea, you have nothing to show for it. Or, your company does great! It’s top of the world–and then the iPhone comes along.

But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Most entrepreneurs aren’t Jeff Bezos or Mark Zuckerberg. Most entrepreneurs run much smaller businesses. You may not be dealing deals worth hundreds of millions or the collapse of enormous companies, but you will still experience the same hardships, setbacks, wins, and losses.

It’s the entrepreneur life.

The Good.

Do we need to talk about the good? Setting your own schedule. Owning an island and starting your day kitesurfing. Traveling to 20 countries a year. Wearing hoodies (or shirts made just for you). Being the youngest self-made female billionaire in America. The excitement, challenge, and satisfaction of growing your own company. There is no ceiling to what you can do.

The Bad.

Stress. You basically die to everything else in your life so that you can devote all your time energy and focus to building this business. Fear. Oh the fear. The cost to personal relationships. Failure.

The Ugly

The highs and lows of entrepreneurship are greater than with any other job. The ugly parts are uglier, too. Tim Ferriss has talked about his struggles with depression, suicide and burnout.

The ugliest thing, though, may be just the intensity of the scary feelings. Not having a boss means you’re not responsible to anyone–except your entire company, which can include the board, the shareholders, investors, and not just employees but the family who depend on them. The stakes are so high. It’s wonderful when it goes well, and utterly brutal when it doesn’t.

Even if you don’t have a board and investors to think about, it’s your company. It’s an extension of you, and you have people counting on you to succeed. You’re counting on you to succeed. You’ll work harder than you’ve ever worked in your life and your body and mind pay the price.

As an entrepreneur, you’ve got to be prepared to experience all the good, the bad, and the ugly. Success demands dedication to your work, and all the good and bad that comes with that. You know you’re up for the good, but there’s a hell of a lot of bad and ugly that comes with it. Are you up for it?

Read two more takes on the good, the bad and the ugly of entrepreneurship here and here.

How to Create a Provable ROI in Social Media

How to Create a Provable ROI in Social Media

How do you measure the return on investment from social media? Understanding the value of social media is important but really comes down to experimentation. I mean honestly, it’s hard to tell how much revenue a Tweet you sent out last week brought in, or if your last Instagram post boosted your bottom line. Many businesses are struggling to grasp the financial impact social media marketing is having for them.

You track your return from the quantitative data you receive from experimenting. That’s right, this will help your businesses determine what works best for their brands. We’ve broken down the process and listed a few simple steps to follow.

1.   Set Social Media Goals

Before you can get into measuring your return, you need to set goals! Your goals should be quantifiable and linked to a specific campaign. Why? This will allow you to track individual links that you share on Twitter, Facebook or other social media channels. Also, to ensure you get the most accurate number, you really want to set your goals based on actions that convert a casual browser to a lead, and ultimately a paying customer.

2. Track Your Goals

Once your goals are defined, the next step is to track them. Tracking is an extremely important part!

3.  Measure Your Social Media Expenses

In order to figure out whether you’re getting a positive or negative ROI for social media campaigns, you have to measure how much you’re spending. This includes; man hours, content, social media tools and ad costs. After all your time is valuable and expenses add up.

As you can see, tracking your social media ROI isn’t impossible. You just have to take a planned and strategic approach. Happy experimenting!

Humans of New York: A Case Study in Social Media Viral Content

Humans of New York: A Case Study in Social Media Viral Content

Humans of New York began in 2010 as a project by Brandon Stanton to take 10,000 photos of New Yorkers. In the beginning, the point of each photo was visual storytelling. Every photo was beautifully composed, colorful, vivid. His first book, published in 2013, was a collection of these photos, but even while it was being published, his style had already begun to shift.

Instead of the photography taking center stage, he focused on individuals. He would ask, while taking their picture, about their biggest fears, regrets, loss. Humans of New York became a series of portraits both photographic and literary. His second book was published in 2015 focused on these stories. Sometimes they were a sentence and sometimes a page, but no longer were they merely visual.

Stanton wasn’t a professional photographer, at least not in the beginning. He had worked as a bond trader in Chicago. When he was fired, he bought a camera and moved to New York to take 10,000 photos of its people.

And so another guy moved to New York to pursue his art. It’s not a remarkable story and it’s likely it would have never been anything but some obscure guy’s hobby that we would never have come to know–except that he shared his work on Facebook.

He began photographing in late 2010, and in two years garnered 60,000 likes. That was a good number, especially in 2012, but it’s nothing to what he has today: 18.2 million. He’s traveled with the UN, to the Met Gala, to the White House to interview to President Obama himself.  Both of his books have been #1 New York TImes Bestsellers.

For a jobless, broke New York transplant, he’s done pretty well for himself.

But once again his creativity has shifted, and this time his audience has not followed along.

In early Fall 2017 he launched Humans of New York: The Series, a weekly Facebook video series (I can’t quite call it a TV show) that tells longer versions of New Yorkers’ stories through video. It is, of course, beautifully shot and produced. The stories are evocative, funny, and personal, just like his photo series. Really, fans of his Facebook page should be thrilled by this development, right? Even more stories! Followers always want to know more about the people whose stories he shares. Now we get know quite a bit more.

And yet, the Series page has only 906k likes. (Just for the sake of comparison, his Instagram account has over 7 million followers.)

Why is that? He’s years into this work with millions of followers around the world and more than a dozen who were inspired to carry out HONY projects in their own cities.

I think HONY is a masterclass in human connection. That is, HONY didn’t gain millions of followers by sharing gorgeous pictures or telling good stories. It gained millions by giving his followers something to connect over. Each photo gets thousands of comments, most of them quite compassionate. And the reason the commenters are kind and empathetic–instead of ugly internet trolls–is that the stories are just specific enough to be universal. Every follower reads a story about him or herself. It’s not about the subject. It’s about me.

The Series is packed with beautiful stories. I’ve never watched a disappointing episode. And yet, they lack that magical quality that the photos have. I see the person telling the story and i’m touched or I laugh. But I don’t see myself, not quite. And with 30 minutes of stories, there isn’t an easy entrance point to a conversation via thread. You can’t name the person in the film (there are no names), and it’s weird to mention time markers. What stuck out to me may not be what what you remember.

If you want your content to be shared, it must be creating connections, building a community. THat’s what great content does: connects you to a greater whole.

How to Set Awesome 2018 Marketing Goals That You’ll Actually Stick With

How to Set Awesome 2018 Marketing Goals That You’ll Actually Stick With

Everybody has big goals for the new year. You want growth, revenue, influence, more customers, bigger campaigns, better awards–setting the goals is the easy part. Achieving them? That’s a whole different ball game.

Conventional advice tells you to set SMART goals, goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, results-focused, time-bound. Instead of saying, I want to make more money in 2018, you say, I want to increase profit 10% in the first quarter.

Experts also advise breaking it down into small pieces so you don’t get overwhelmed. Break it into steps and pieces and achieve it one task at a time.

Conventional advice earned its place on the front pages of google: it works. Setting SMART goals and working toward them little by little is a great way to achieve a goal.

Unless you’re me because that just sounds so boring I just want to quit right now.

I don’t want SMART goals! I don’t want steps! I want excitement and spontaneity and the thrill of chasing an impossible goal–and getting lost in the process and discovering something even newer and more exciting along the way!

Or maybe you’re not like me at all, but you still struggle with goals. That’s okay! We can do this together.

Set Awesome Goals

Think you don’t need help with this part?

Wrong.

Your problem is you aren’t thinking big enough! Basketball players don’t train every day for years just so they can sometimes make a shot off the backboard.* They want that slow motion, jumping over the heads of their opponents, put it straight in the basket kind of slam dunk shot.

This is no time to get psyched out by fear. What do you really want with your business?

Running a business isn’t easy. What are you working so hard for? Be brash. Go big.

Only then should you be realistic–but only about achieving it. It’s going to take time and dedication, and probably the achievement of lots of smaller goals as you work your way to it. What are you going to do to achieve those goals? How will you overcome the naysayers? What will you say when your own self-doubt tries to talk you out of it?

Write down your questions, your doubts, all the reasons that pursuing this crazy goal is a stupid waste of time, that you’ll just fail anyway.

Then, one by one, come up with solutions.

See Them Through

Now that you have awesome (!) goals written down (because writing them down is the first step to achieving them), you need a plan for success.

We already talked about SMART goals. We talked about breaking them into mini goals. We have not yet talked about big wins and motivation.

Big wins are when, instead of saving money by cutting back on Starbucks lattes, you negotiate a big raise at work. Focus on big wins instead of little tactics and details. It gets you further, it feels great, and it’s great motivation.

Which is important because motivation won’t get you far. Gretchen Rubin is a researcher who studies happiness, good habits, and human nature. She writes that motivation doesn’t drive behavior:

Instead of thinking about motivation, I argue that we should think about aims, and then concrete, practical, realistic steps to take us closer to our aims.

Instead of thinking, “I want to lose weight so badly,” think instead about the concrete steps to take, “I’ll bring lunch from home.”

She has a quiz to help you figure out what sort of practical, realistic steps will be best for you–or, more specifically, your “tendency”. Each tendency (there are 4) is a different way of responding to expectations. For example, I’m an Obliger, so I respond to outside expectations. If you expect me to meet a goal, I’ll meet it pretty easily. Meeting my own goals, though, requires a system of outer accountability (ie a buddy to help keep me on track). Other tendencies respond to reason (the “why” of a goal) and desire.

You’re setting awesome goals. Set yourself up for success, too.

Wow Your Audience and Improve SEO

Wow Your Audience and Improve SEO

In today’s society, to truly establish yourself as a leader and wow your audience you need to create longer and more in depth content. This will truly help show your audience what you know that benefits them. There are 6 reasons why you want to write longer content that is deeper, offers more facts, and engages your audience in a better way. You can truly delve into a topic with more words than reading longer content or watching longer videos. The first step, start with longer features and higher quality. Secondly, dig deeper include more visuals. There are different types of content that lend themselves to digging deeper.

Feature Articles — A featured article requires more research and has a different format that’s shorter than blog posts have. Often a long article consists of quoting other authorities, books, individuals to further the points being made in the article. To demonstrate your authority, knowledge, and expertise you need to write long articles that will help be useful to you and your audience.

Case Studies — Typically a case study covers so much and the content is usually longer. You must define the problem, offer the solution and share the results via the case studies that you publish. This will certainly keep people reading. People like reading how a solution worked for other people, so case studies are a great choice for longer content.

White Papers —The intent of a white paper is to give authoritative information to guide the readers to answers about an issue that matters to them. A white paper is traditionally used in government and education circles. It will describe benefits, present a set of questions, tips or points about the topic, as well as recommendations and solutions.

Instructional Videos —Videos are known to grab the attention of the audience, and what better way to demonstrate your knowledge and build authority than a long, in depth video tutorial on an important topic for your niche.

If you choose to include longer more in depth content to wow your audience, it needs to be more appealing visually. Make sure to add in images, plenty of bullet points, subheadings, and headers. Also, it’s okay to send people to new pages for the rest of the content it’s essential good for SEO in today’s search engine climate.

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