Do You Have What It Takes?

Jeff Cochran


Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Successful Entrepreneur?

A fresh take on things is necessary for successful entrepreneurs, but those independent spirits who really make it in the business world definitely have some major personality traits in common. Of course, hard work, good timing, and just a little bit of luck help, too.

If the following apply to you, you might have just the right personality for making your business dream a reality.


Confidence In Your Success

Entrepreneurs don’t succeed by not being entirely sure about their ideas. In fact, building a business venture from the ground up requires jumping over plenty of hurdles that can stop you right in your tracks if you don’t have faith in your ability to scale them.


A Little Humility

That said, being overconfident can bring you down just as quickly. The most successful entrepreneurs keep an open mind and have a commitment to constant growth and learning. Humbly seeking out mentors and peers is an important part of making it all work, as is giving credit where credit is due.


Dedication and Tenacity 

Starting from the bottom isn’t easy. Your first business venture may fail, an economic downturn could put a wrench in your plans, or a competitor may simply outdo you. Successful entrepreneurs get back on their feet and dust themselves off when things don’t go according to plan, and they’re always ready to learn from their mistakes and do better next time.


Serious Self-Motivation

As an entrepreneur, you’re not going to have anyone telling you what to do, when to come into the office, or when you can do better. Successful entrepreneurs have a fire under their feet that they feed themselves.


A Penchant for Rule-Breaking

Paradigm shifts and game changing ideas come from an ability to defy convention. Detractors may claim ideas are crazy or impossible to achieve, but successful entrepreneurs know that such claims mean that they’re on the right track.


Willingness to Take a Risk (Within Reason)

Entrepreneurship requires a good deal of risk-taking, from financial investments to innovations that present the world with something a little bit unfamiliar. A recent study actually found that successful entrepreneurs engaged in more risky activity in their youths than unsuccessful ones! Of course, the key to success is to take calculated risks.


An Eye for Opportunity

Finally, successful entrepreneurs know how to spot gaps that they can fill with their own ideas, and the most successful ones can spot those gaps across multiple industries. Richard Branson, for instance, has managed to grow successful business ventures ranging from transportation to communications.

Strengthen Your Company

Jeff Cochran


Strengthen Your Company with These Building Blocks of Corporate Culture

Successful businesses across numerous industries are all finding the same thing: a strong company culture can go a long way. Zappo’s, for example, credits their corporate culture for a 5% employee turnover rate and a 75% customer return rate. Tech startup SumAll credits their culture for a massive talent application pool, which allows them to cherry-pick new hires with the experience, skills, and personality necessary for success. Hospital call center experts BerylHealth used their corporate culture to situate themselves as a premium provider, drumming up increased business and profits.

Beyond the measurable effects of strong corporate culture, there are more personal benefits, too. A strong identity can help employees feel like a part of a larger, meaningful organization, and can reduce the feelings of alienation, stagnation, and frustration that can often occur from spending one’s days in an office environment. And of course, when employees feel better about where they work, they tend to be more productive.

Growing Your Corporate Culture

Looking to build your company culture, but not sure where to start? These building blocks provide a strong foundation to expand upon.

  • Define yourself. The first step to building a corporate culture is deciding exactly what you want that culture to look like. Identify your priorities and values, figure out how your business model fits into your desired culture, and strategize ways that you can turn abstract culture into actual practice.
  • Encourage open communication.Culture is only possible when the whole company comes together to create it, and one of the best ways to foster this togetherness is to value each person’s input. Transparent management also goes a long way toward keeping everyone in the loop and ensuring that even entry-level employees feel like part of the decision-making process.
  • Celebrate success. Positivity is one of the shared traits of many of the successful start-ups (and some more established companies) noted for their strong company cultures. Take every opportunity to praise employees, turn every mistake into a teachable moment, and reward hard work and results.
  • Hire for your culture. Personality is often overlooked during the hiring process, but you can’t build a culture without employees who support it! Search for talent with the skills and experience you need and a shared sense of values.
  • Have some fun. Some companies are known for the break room air hockey tables and on-staff massage therapists. While you don’t necessarily need to take those routes, make sure that your employees have opportunities throughout the day to relax and take breaks. Performance goes up when employees feel positively about their environment!

Corporate cultures don’t just spring up out of nowhere – they take innovation, effort, and a willingness to shake things up to truly work. But if you’re willing to invest in the spirit of your company, you may be pleasantly shocked at the results!

Smart Teamwork: Building the Best Team for the Job

Jeff Cochran


Teamwork is the cornerstone of creativity, innovation, and problem solving. While one person might be limited by the constraints of their own experience or mode of thinking, a whole group of team members working in conjunction can come up with and implement far more solutions to the problem at hand.

On a more qualitative scale, team building is crucial to maximizing employee satisfaction and engagement. Employees who have positive relationships with their coworkers and feel like they are contributing to a greater whole tend to be happier – and employees who are happier tend to be more productive. This is true of both a business in general and smaller work teams created for the purpose of taking on specific projects.

That said, putting together a work team isn’t as simple as throwing a few employees together and telling them to get to work. A poorly constructed team can lead to interpersonal conflict, unclear objectives, and decreased productivity. Looking to build work teams that achieve goals rather than hamper your success? These tips can help.


Tips for Team Building:

  • Define your expectations. Teams perform best with clear guidelines and expectations. Make sure that your team members know the purpose of the team, why they were chosen, and finer details such as how much time they have to complete the task and whether there is a chosen leader of the group.
  • Value diversity. If everyone on the team shares the same perspective, they’ll be less likely to generate innovative solutions. Choose team members with a variety of backgrounds and skills to maximize the potential for creativity.
  • Be aware of how team members work. Different people process information in a variety of ways, which can either complement each other or clash in a team setting. One person who thinks out loud may be seen as an annoyance in a team made up entirely of people who generally have a fully developed plan before they speak, whereas a quieter member’s input might get lost in a more assertive group. Know employees’ strengths and weaknesses so that you can best match them.
  • Don’t over-complicate. The old adage “too many cooks spoil the soup” can apply in team settings. Understand which tasks are best suited to teams, and what size team can best accomplish it. Keep an eye out for teams that seem to be going in circles instead of forward.
  • Evaluate and provide feedback. Just like individuals, teams can benefit from an outside observer, and leaders can improve team-building skills from seeing what works and what doesn’t. After every project involving work teams, spend time evaluating what could be improved.

Great work teams not only perform better on individual tasks, but they can also foster positive relationships between coworkers and help individual employees hone their skills, gain leadership experience, and improve communication. What can you do to improve your team building skills?

Smart Leadership Means Nourishing Existing Talent

Jeff Cochran


When you’re seeking out talent to bring your organization to the next level, you generally have two options: go fishing for a new hire, or take a closer look at your existing pool of employees. Leaders might assume that starting the hiring process and recruiting talent from the outside is the simplest option. Smart leaders, however, understand that they already possess the workforce resources that the business needs to succeed. With smart leadership and strong management practices, you can simultaneously avoid the hiring process and grow the talent of the people you already have on board.


Why Nourish Existing Talent?

Simply put, hiring is expensive. Between direct and indirect costs like advertising and a gap in productivity, you could be looking at a few thousand dollars for replacing a low-level employee and over $100,000 to replace or add on an upper-level employee with specialized skills. Expanding talent within your organization generally requires far less financial investment, and comes with little risk. A mis-hire, however, could set you back even further.

Additionally, nourishing existing talent increases the productivity of your organization as a – or the equivalent of hiring an additional 25 employees. Meanwhile, morale is boosted when employees are more engaged and feel like management in invested in their growth.


How Smart Leaders Get the Most From Employees

Clearly, investing in the talent you already have can dramatically strengthen your organization from multiple standpoints. But how can leaders go about helping employees perform their best? These smart leadership practices form the foundation of growing your existing talent…

  • Give employees more freedom. Talent needs room to grow, and providing opportunities for employees to take initiative and develop their own ideas creates that space.
  • Learn from mistakes. People slip up, and at the beginning, giving employees room to grow may result in a few errors. Create teachable moments out of mistakes, and your employees will come closer to finding solutions on their own.
  • Take a hands on approach. All of that said, it’s important to take an active role in nourishing talent. Bring employees on to new projects to see how it’s done, keep an open door for inquiries, and provide regular feedback on performance.
  • Lead by example. Demanding excellence won’t get you very far, but showing employees what excellence is will.
  • Present leadership opportunities for employees. There’s no better way to learn something than by teaching it. When appropriate, allow your talent to take a leading role on a project. Offer advanced leadership training for those with the most potential.

Investing in the talent that you already have takes time, commitment, and leadership savvy, but the return on that investment comes in the form of increased productivity, greater employee satisfaction, and a high bar that you’ll consistently be able to meet. Start nourishing your talent today to begin reaping these benefits, and you may be surprised by just how great your talent can be!

What Does Your Client See in Your Business?

Jeff Cochran


Your prospective clients, like any clients, are bound to see the business world in their own way. Their experiences in the industry will undoubtedly influence their point of view. It all comes down to their understanding of the industry and how their own business or personal needs relate to the products or services they are going to pursue in order to get a leg up in a competitive industry.

These aspects of business give clients a particular outlook on their own business model, as well as the challenges they face and the opportunities available to them. This outlook is a major factor in how your client understands and deals with the concept of value in business – that is to say, just how much products and services are worth in relation to their own needs and objectives.

Breaking it Down: Point of View and Value

It should be a given that you have an intimate knowledge of the industry and of your prospective client’s needs and goals in business. With this in mind, you should be able to create a value that is aligned with the client’s objectives. When the value you generate is in the ballpark with your client’s outlook on value, then making the transaction is easy and doesn’t require any further analysis. This makes for a smooth relationship between you and your client, because they understand the worth of your product or service in much the same way that you do.

Distortions of Outlook

Difficulties arise when the client’s outlook creates a distorted sense of value. For example, if your service has been proven to create much more effective results than those of your competitors, with solid statistics on such fundamental aspects of business as improved ROI and lead conversion, then it should be clear that your service could be an invaluable aspect of any client’s strategy.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Many people opt for lower quality for a lower price, so being the best is not always going to cut it for these clients. If this particular client does not see that your price is lower, then you will not be able to win them over.

What to Do?

What does this mean for you? Well, there are two options: either change your own value, or change your client’s perception of value. Neither of these answers are particularly simple. It may not be worth it to realign your sense of value with your client’s; then again, it may not be worth it to put in the work to change that of your client. Either way, the aforementioned understanding of your client’s needs and goals will be a crucial factor in making the next steps forward.