How Entrepreneurs Can Leverage LinkedIn to Grow Their Business

How Entrepreneurs Can Leverage LinkedIn to Grow Their Business

Whether you are a budding entrepreneur or small business owner, it’s important for your company to have a social media presence. If utilized correctly, social media can take your business to the next level. From entrepreneurs to marketers, right from day one, LinkedIn always has been the go-to source for building a professional network online. Through the platform, you can also ask your connections to write a recommendation of your work that you can display on your profile. And, if you are looking for funding then voila, it will boost your chances of getting your business noticed by an investor.

Entrepreneur India lists out few useful tips for entrepreneurs to grow a successful business using LinkedIn :

Develop an Action Plan :

LinkedIn is a powerful source of quality sales intelligence for entrepreneurs. You can raise your firm’s visibility, build business relationships, secure clients, and convert them into loyal customers. According to Neena Dasgupta CEO & Director at Zirca Digital Solutions, entrepreneurs must always have an action plan with LinkedIn.

“Always remember to spend time making a list of people you would want to do business with in the future. These could be clients, investors, and potential partners. Next, create a highly-personalized note for each person and send them requests. When you’re opening up this dialogue, don’t forget to avoid hard-selling, and instead focus on how you can build a relationship,” shared Dasgupta.

She also recommended that one must secure LinkedIn Endorsements from people they’ve worked with before, especially clients.

Share Your Professional Stories:

For Chetan Asher, Founder & CEO, Tonic Worldwide, the key tip for entrepreneurs is to not use LinkedIn as a networking or job platform and approach it as a platform to tell professional stories.

“Using the platform to talk about milestones, challenges and learning from their entrepreneurial stories will go a long way in building deeper connections and grow business,” he said

LinkedIn is Different from Facebook(Connect to Relevant People) :

Often people confuse LinkedIn with Facebook. Aashish Kalra, Chairman of Cambridge Technology Enterprises advises entrepreneurs to not use LinkedIn as a social media site.

“Focus on connecting with the relevant people, specifically people who will gain from knowing you.  Try sending them a newsletter and relevant content.  Don’t be afraid to invite people who you don’t know,” said Kalra.

But Not Without  a Background Check :

Prasad Vanga, Founder & CEO, Anthill Ventures emphasized that LinkedIn enables entrepreneurs unprecedented ability to locate and associate with a wide variety of stakeholders – investors, employees, partners, etc. By cutting down the ‘search cost’ for these activities to near zero, it also helps unleash a new wave of productivity.

“For entrepreneurs, LinkedIn can serve as an implicit background check before conducting an interaction thereby helping them become smarter at these interactions, “said Vanga

How This Woman’s Life Completely Changed After She Posted a Beauty Tutorial for Brown-Skinned Women on YouTube

In this series, YouTube Icon, Entrepreneur speaks with the individuals behind popular YouTube channels to find out the secrets of their success.

When Deepica Mutyala’s second YouTube video went viral in 2015 — a beauty tutorial about how to hide under-eye dark circles with red lipstick — the Today Show contacted her and asked her to do an on-air segment. That day, she quit her job at Birchbox, but she didn’t tell her parents, who are Indian immigrants.

Given her background, she says always felt pressured to pursue medicine, law, engineering or business. She’d selected the latter, but gravitated toward beauty. Since she was 16, she had dreamt of one day developing and selling beauty products for South Asian women. She’d even made it a case study project in college at the University of Texas at Austin, where she studied business administration and marketing.

When Mutyala, then 25, went home to Texas for a visit shortly after her spot on national TV, her father told her he’d found out about her career decision. Instead of expressing disappointment, he handed her a check to help her get her YouTube career off the ground.

“He just wanted to show me that he supported me,” Mutyala, now 28, tells Entrepreneur. “I didn’t take the check, but that gave me a mental greenlight that I could do this.”

For the past three years, Mutyala has been building her brand as a YouTube personality and beauty expert full time. Although she never even watched beauty tutorials on YouTube before she started posting her own, her channel now has 151,987 subscribers, and the red lipstick video alone has nearly 10.5 million views. Initially, she’d thought she would be too late to the YouTube game, starting in 2015. But she found her niche as a brown-skinned woman in the beauty space.

Related: Pro YouTubers Explain How to Succeed on the Video Platform in 2018

Mutyala admits that she’s not a makeup artist by trade, and there are other girls who look like her out there doing better tutorials. In May 2017, after struggling for a while to keep up, she took a step back and reevaluated what drove her to start posting videos in the first place. She posted her first vlog that summer, in which she talked about the mental health challenges and career pressures she’d been facing, despite the taboo of these subjects in her family’s culture. She didn’t wear makeup for the video. At the end, she announced she was leaving New York after five years and moving to L.A.

Her audience responded well, and it led her to realize that speaking to her followers as friends and sharing her vulnerabilities could be a new way to set herself apart on YouTube while being more genuine.

“I go back and remind myself, what niche are you serving?” Mutyala says. “What is the message to tell the world that nobody else is?”

In February 2018, Mutyala launched Tinted, an online platform where people whose skin tones “fall into ‘all the shades in between’” can find a community and tell stories. But YouTube remains her main focus, as well as the springboard for her various projects and partnerships. Read on to discover what she’s learned about how to succeed on YouTube.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

1. How did you get your start with YouTube?
I had a college internship at L’Oreal, and during that time, I saw Michelle Phan starting off. I remember thinking, “Wow, that is so something I could do,” and I wanted to explore the idea, but I had this mental block that I, as a South Asian woman, was not supposed to go and be a YouTuber. If I wasn’t going to be a doctor, lawyer or engineer, then I had to be on the business side of the beauty industry.

I remember thinking there was nobody who looked like me on YouTube. YouTube was growing to billions and billions of views, India has more than a billion people and the beauty industry is worth billions of dollars. But there was no connect between those three different verticals.

I decided to get out of my own head and just start. In January of 2015, I picked up my phone, held it vertically instead of horizontally, which is terrible production, and shot a video using red lipstick under my eyes to hide dark circles. It got picked up by BuzzFeed. When it got to 10,000 views, I freaked. Once it hit 100,000, I had this moment of like, “Oh my God, it’s going to hit a million.” And now it has 10 million views. It’s pretty crazy.

When the video hit 4 million views on YouTube, I got an email from the Today show to come on and do a segment. I was like, “Oh my God, I’m going to be the next Hoda, this is incredible!” I quit my job that day — I kind of took it as a sign that I could do this full time. I could take that 15 minutes of fame and turn it into my dream career.

2. How much of your time do you spend on a video and what does that entail?
It definitely varies, depending on if it’s a vlog vs. a tutorial. What used to make it take up so much time was the prepping — actually getting things set up. I’m not a production person. I don’t know what I’m doing! It’s not my thing. And so, I would find myself feeling so defeated because of that. If I allocated three hours to filming, there were periods where I even went to the YouTube Space because I was like, “I don’t have good lighting. I live in a New York City dungeon,” and it was so dark in the concrete jungle. But I found myself getting more frustrated with that, because the complication of all the equipment just took away from the actual content itself.

Editing took me, I’m not even kidding, 12 hours, minimum. I got smarter about how I was taking the footage, but generally speaking, it took me too long. It goes back to a mental health thing. At least with the filming part, there are some parts of it that feel a little more extrovert friendly. But I would go crazy and get so down on just sitting there and staring at a computer, editing, that I was like, “This isn’t worth it.” Now that I’ve gotten to a point in my career where I can afford to have an editor help do it, I recognize that to be able to scale and grow your business, and do it in a healthy way, you have to outsource the things that aren’t your strengths.

The tutorial itself is like, an hour. But it’s all of the prep around it that makes it go into multiple hours. Now that I’ve moved to L.A., I have enough space where it’s just permanently set up, and I can focus on the product itself. Now, in general, I always allocate three hours per video for filming, getting it all set up and dumping the footage. And of course, vlogs are very different, because gathering the footage could take a week.  

There are definitely days when I bulk film. When I don’t have to be ready, I’m so not ready. It feels so nice to not have makeup on, because I have to have it on so often. The ideal scenario is that I film a couple of videos at once. With travel and other meetings that happen, it just becomes tough.

3. What’s your content strategy? How do you decide what and when to post?
Every month, I always do a monthly favorites, because it’s the best way for me to, all at once, share some of my favorite product pics with my followers in a really honest way, where I’m not just trying to throw things in each month into each video.

As far as the other videos, I don’t really have a regimented sort of thing. I am trying to be more creative with my videos now more than ever, and not feeling like I have to do it a specific certain way. I always have at least one beauty tutorial. I got a lot of advice from people that I should get  more regimented. The only thing is I now do two videos a week, no matter what. I generally do every Thursday and Sunday. But if I don’t do it on Thursday and I do on Friday, it’s because I knew the video would be better. I don’t sweat it as much anymore. I think doing it consistently, as far as doing two a week, is more important than sticking to, “I have to do XYZ thing.”

But that’s me personally. I know other people feel like they have to do a series of like, every Monday they do this, every Tuesday they do this. When I started to do that, I started to get crazed by sticking to that, and I’d lose the fun of it. The part that’s the most important with a YouTube career is to keep the fun, or you will go cray.

Related: 20 Things You Should Know About What It’s Really Like to Be a YouTuber

4. How do you leverage your YouTube channels and to what extent do you monetize them?
YouTube has 100 percent been the reason that I have a living as an entrepreneur. It’s the core of my entire business. I do Instagram stuff, I do events and I get brand partnerships and become an ambassador to create content for their channels, but it all stems from the fact that I’m a YouTuber and I have my own channel that has an audience.

It’s so easy with all of the outreach that people get these days to get sucked into the money and wanting to do all of them, because it’s almost like a high. But I feel it’s important for your long-term career on YouTube — don’t partner with a brand unless you do use them. There are other ways to be honest about it if you haven’t. Say that to your audience. I actually did that with a brand in the past. SK-II reached out and asked me to do a 90-challenge with them. We made it so the contract and deal was, if I don’t like the product, I don’t have to do it.

I’m also doing partnerships with brands outside of beauty. It’s cool that it’s across different categories and price points. I do things with Neutrogena, but I’ve also done things with Mac, and all the way up to Shiseido. Also, it’s really exciting to see a brown girl in these campaigns. I know my audience gets excited for me. Why wouldn’t I do it?

With Tinted, right now, my focus is not the revenue side of things. A great partnership I have coming up is with Cover FX, and the partnership is with me, but it’s such a natural fit to have Tinted involved, because of what the brand stands for. We’re doing an event together. We’re not at a size where it makes sense for brands to pay for additional partnerships with Tinted, but the eventual goal is of course, to get money and sponsorships. Down the road, the dream is creating products, whatever form that may be — merch, beauty. But there’s too much excitement and hype around the community side of it to think about that right now.

5. What advice do you have for other people who want to build brands on the platform?
The first thing I would say is not to get caught up in all the intricacies and just start. Pick up the phone, the camera, whatever you have in front of you. Get in front of a window, go outside if you need to, and just start and get comfortable. Posting that first video is the first hurdle to get over. If you just start, don’t overthink, don’t be strategic about it and see where it takes you, you’ll figure out your style, your rhythm.

As far as getting brands involved, a lot of people get so caught up in how to get the sponsorships. A lot of these people, it’s their full-time jobs, and they want brands to notice them. I spent the first month of doing this YouTube thing reaching out to brands left and right. I was like, “This is my full-time job. I have to be making money off this.” But instead of focusing on doing the outreach, I should have focused on the content itself and mentioning the brands that I already used.

Don’t think about the strategic side of what brands will want to work with you. Just be so real in your videos that, even if that brand is not mentioned, they might want to work with you because they love your personality. But tag brands — put them in the description, title or keywords, because that helps with SEO.

6. What’s a misconception many people have about YouTube?
I don’t think that people really understand the hard work that goes into it. I never get offended or hurt when somebody says, “That makeup tutorial was bad,” or “You’re ugly,” or “You’re fat.” I have enough confidence in myself. But when people say things about my character, or the comments are like, “You’re not working hard enough,” or, “Did you just post this video and do it so quickly?” When someone attacks your character or work ethic, that really hurts.

The misconception of YouTube is that it’s a fluff career. Nobody gets how much goes into these videos. I was one of those people who had those misconceptions. That’s why I didn’t want to be known as a YouTuber at first. Now, I’m really proud of it, and I think people should own it, because it’s actually the most powerful thing in marketing and media right now.

Can Automation Take Care of the Aged?

Can Automation Take Care of the Aged?

According to a PwC report, robots will replace people in 30% of the jobs in the UK by 2030. This is just a rough estimate of the most advanced automation technology available. Currently, IoT, AI, Machine learning have already reduced the importance of humans in various jobs.

The ones who are at no or marginal risk are the aged care sector, workers. In 2016 Deloitte published a report on the economic contributions and future directions of the Australian aged care sector.

The report explains how automation is shifting humans from jobs that need muscle work to the ones that require care. It further quotes Renee Leon, Secretary for the Department of Employment;

“Over the next five years, there will be tens of thousands, probably hundreds of thousands, of jobs created in the caring sectors around community services, and aged care and health care. This was creating personal care jobs that cannot be off-shored or automated and that will provide many entry-level, and medium-skilled jobs for the workforces of the future.”

Further, Bloomberg estimates the chances of automation risk in various jobs and for aged care sector employees it is as low as 0.35% (healthcare social workers).

This is, of course, a relief for people who are looking out for employment opportunities. The pace at which the global population is aging, workers can be assured of aged care jobs. But is it a relief for our seniors as well?

Now, this question might sound strange, because why would our seniors want robots or machine run devices to do their work rather than caring and compassionate people.

But there are some heart-wrenching reasons why they might prefer hands of steel over warm human hands to provide them with the support they need in their old age. The most significant reason being neglect and abuse.

The cases of neglect by aged care homes and the workers have been rising dramatically. The Walton Law Firm has shared several real stories of their clients who suffered because of the carelessness of senior homes and workers.

Sadly, same is the case with abuse as almost 1 out of 10 seniors is vulnerable to experiencing elderly abuse.

Is this how we want our parents and grandparent to age? This is not how they brought us up. They took every pain they could to help us lead a better life. They would have been ready to forego their dreams for our happiness. They nurtured us like we were a part of their own soul.

And today, they are aging in a world that lacks compassion and humanity.

Now it might seem that an automated world could be a better place for our seniors as it will have precision and efficiency. So, the cases of neglect could reduce. It also completely eliminates the chance of abuse.

But then why are all the global leaders pointing out that aged care jobs will rise and are at the least risk of getting displaced by automation?

That is because our seniors deserve not only attentive support and an abuse-free world but also human love, care, support, and companionship.

The number of seniors who are dealing with depression has been rising, and a primary contributor is social isolation. As high as 40% seniors in Greece and Hungary are affected by lack of social contact and emotional support.

So, what’s the future?

We can’t have robots taking care, and we don’t have compassionate or responsible workers. This seems like a dead end. Thankfully, it’s not.

All that we need is someone to take responsibility for training and guiding aged care workers. Till the time a job in this sector seems like an ‘easy option,’ no one will be able to change how our seniors are treated.

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With the rising population, the demand for aged care sector will rise, putting senior homes and workers on a pedestal. However, they must prove themselves to reach there.

Further, there should be a transparent scoring mechanism for all aged care services. When we have improved the quality of almost every product and service that exists today with a rating and review mechanism, then why not do the same with this sector.

Further, we might not be able to replace workers with robots, but the processes can be automated. The process of hiring workers, renting equipment, choosing or scoring an aged care home can be made largely ‘smart.’

This will put an end to the ‘anything is fine’ attitude that has been ruling the aged care sector.

Shifting Patterns: The Future of Logistics Industry in India

Shifting Patterns: The Future of Logistics Industry in India

The sweeping wave of digitization has been transforming the world as we know it. With the advent of new and innovative technologies, the world stands poised to not just be disrupted, but greatly transformed, being ushered into an age of high-performance, visibility and efficiency. The emergence and mainstreaming of advanced technology has created strong ripples across the country, and the logistics sector has not remained isolated from the same.

Technical innovations so far have the potential to remove most of the frictions in logistics world, however the adaptation of technology in the logistics sector has been a long overdue. Lately  with the increasing penetration of technology right into our everyday lives, the logistics sector is also experiencing a metamorphosis. The transformation is focused at equipping the sector to resolve a number of challenges and bottle-necks, whilst attaining new-found efficiency and agility.

In times to come, technology is set to act as strong bedrock for logistics industry, helping it shift redundant patterns, whilst scaling newer heights. Standing at the precipice of such immense growth, let us take a keen look at the tech-driven future of logistics.

IoT to spell the future of Logistics

Internet of Things has been touted to be one of the most ground-breaking and definitive technologies of the present era. While the technology has been vividly utilized in the wearable tech, the same holds the potential of bringing about significant overhauls in the logistics sector. The prime benefit of IoT is real-time alerts and notifications, automated data collections from different machines, without requiring human intervention or interaction of any kind.

The same can define the future of logistics, by automating critical functions like automatic inventory management and asset tracking. For instance, with the help of IoT, companies can easily track what orders need to be fulfilled, how certain items are performing, or what other items needs to be replenished. By its extension, IoT can help companies gain better visibility in cargo shipments, if the same has been delivered carefully as desired, has it been opened etc. Furthermore, with IoT, logistics companies can also provide safer delivering, regulating the temperature, other environmental factors, etc. Thus, from fleet and warehouse management to shipment and delivery, IoT is going to have a positive impact on the overall logistics sector.

Warehousing operations to get a robotics makeover

Warehouse automation is often touted to be one of the most significant overhauls to look forward to. With the rise of online shopping across the globe, there has been a massive stress on logistics and especially, warehouse operations to be fastidious and quick. To the same end, several e-commerce giants are revamping the warehousing operations with robotics. In fact, back in 2016 that marked the onset of this trend, the market for logistics robotics had only accrued revenues worth USD 1.9 billion. However, as per the recent reports, the same is expected to rise to a whopping USD 22.4 billion.

Currently, several advancements are being made in getting robots to automate and fast-track a wide gamut of warehousing functions. This includes programming the robots to pick and pack, load and unload, perhaps also deliver the same. The use of robotics not only fast-tracks the processes, data collection, record keeping and inventory management, but also eradicates the scope for human error in the equation.

Blockchain tech in logistics management

Blockchain technology piqued to mainstream prominence with the growth of crypto-currencies like Bitcoin etc. As a distributed ledger, blockchain tech offers secured record keeping, traceability and transparency in transactions. In times to come, different industries will adopt the blockchain wave, and the logistics sector is no different. With blockchain, logistics firms will be able to provide their customers with better transparency and visibility into shipment, while avoiding any data counterfeiting, leaks or breaches.

In essence, logistics has been regarded as the backbone of the economy. In order for India to thrive and emerge as a global superpower, we need to develop this sector, equip it with innovative technologies, as mentioned above. A private and public sector partnership, along with favourable policies would definitely help usher India in an age of fast-tracked, efficient, and cost-effective operations.

Did You Start a Business to Do Something Significant, or to Feel Significant?

Did You Start a Business to Do Something Significant, or to Feel Significant?

Do you remember why you left your comfortable job to start your own business?

You must have had a good reason, because nobody hops on the entrepreneurial roller coaster for kicks. It’s tough, it’s a grind and it isn’t for the fainthearted.

Related: Why You Can’t Be a Perfectionist and Be an Entrepreneur

In my own experience (after setting up multiple seven-figure businesses), and after working with dozens of other successful entrepreneurs, I’ve found one of the biggest factors why people create a new business is because of their need for significance.

  • You have a desire to feel significant to yourself.
  • You want to feel significant to those you love.
  • You care about what strangers think of you, and you want to be significant to them.

Significance is a double-edged sword.

On the one hand it’s powerful, driving you to innovate and do what nobody else will. It’s a fundamental part of building something great, because if you feel significant (and you’re doing something significant), you push the boundaries and go “all in.”

Yet, significance also has the power to create great turmoil in your life, because if things don’t go according to plan, you “feel” it. It gets under your skin and you can soon slip into depression, because you want to be significant, but don’t feel you are.

Related: Successful Entrepreneurs Beat Imposter Syndrome by Doing the Work Anyway

The truth is, a lot of what we create as entrepreneurs is to make ourselves feel significant. We create content, build products and commit to new projects not because it provides genuine significance to others, but rather it helps us feel more significant within.

This is your ego, and it’s the dark side of significance that prevents you from moving to the next level. The problem is, we cannot escape the importance of significance, because it’s something each person needs.

Significance is one of the six human needs.

As a human being, you need significance. Tony Robbins talks about how we each need to meet six core needs in order to build a meaningful life of happiness and abundance:

  1. Certainty: assurances to help you avoid pain and other dangers
  2. Uncertainty/variety: your need for new, fresh challenges
  3. Significance: your need to feel unique, special and important
  4. Connection/love: your need to feel loved, and be part of a community
  5. Growth: your drive to progress and continue to get bigger and better
  6. Contribution: your need to feel like you’re helping other people, and contributing to society

In business and life, you need to cater to these six aspects before you can feel happy and content. Whether you agree with all six of these doesn’t matter, as the point is that significance is an important human trait.

Related: Why a Big Ego Isn’t Always Bad

It has the power to drive you toward creating something special. Yet, when you lack it, you spiral into a state of depression and lose control over what you’re building. This is why it’s a double-edged sword, and why it’s capable of both making and breaking your business.

The thing is …

It isn’t about control — it’s about letting go.

Many entrepreneurs (you may be one of them) left their job to create a business because they hated the idea of not feeling significant. Your drive toward significance literally drove you into entrepreneurship, because with your own business you feel important and in control.

You end up doing things that 99 percent of the population are unwilling to do, all because you’re desperate to feel significant. Again, this isn’t bad, as this is where the magic begins. But, the point isn’t to be or feel in control. In fact, true success and growth happens when you let go.

At a certain point, you need to accept that your business isn’t about feeding your own significance. It’s about having an impact on the world, and providing greater significance to those you serve.

  • You need to delegate and let go of a lot of tasks.
  • You need to fire yourself from certain parts of your business, and hire others to take over.
  • You need to let go of being an entrepreneur, and embrace the idea of becoming a CEO.

You need to let go of your business and accept that it’s no longer about you.

Related: To Survive, Sometimes You Have to Let Go of Your Vision — and Ego

Your business is no longer about you.

Significance often drives your initial success, because in the beginning it’s this that drives you to hustle, take risks, push out of your comfort zone and believe in what you’re doing when everyone else thinks you’re insane.

But, there comes a time when your significance gets in the way of you achieving what you can. You cling to control and refuse to let go, not because other people are unwilling or incapable, but because you’re afraid you’ll no longer feel important, worthy or significant.

The thing is, your business isn’t about you, and it never was.

Your business is about other people, and the impact you have on them. Significance still plays a role, but it’s not about how significant you are, rather how significant your business is. You need to move away from it being about you, and make it about your audience, your team and your business as a whole.

This is hard. I see it all the time — successful businesses stalling because the people behind them are afraid to let go. They cling to their old mindset, instead of embracing the entrepreneurial mindset they need to take their initial success to the next level.

Related: The One Thing Holding You Back From Your Dreams

They cling to what was, instead of embracing what comes next.

So, if you’re in the middle of starting a new business, this may not apply to you. Whereas if you’re looking to take your business to the next level, you need to let go and upgrade your mindset. Your future success depends on you finding inner significance elsewhere, outside of your business. You need to look in the mirror and feel happy about the person looking back; to know you’re enough as it is.

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You are not your business, and your business cannotbe you. This is the only way to go from six to seven figures, and it’s the only way you will ever lead a truly successful life.

How We Sold Our Company Without Selling Out

How We Sold Our Company Without Selling Out

It was 1985. My wife, Andrea Barthello, and I were newly married and newly unemployed (by choice). We were disenchanted with the corporate world and had a vision of making a difference for children, so we created ThinkFun from a small basement in Alexandria, Virginia.

We launched ThinkFun with the ambition to become the world’s leading maker of logic puzzles. Our “competitive advantage” was our creative genius family friend, Bill Keister, a retired Bell Labs scientist who invented puzzles as a hobby. Mr. Keister, as well as my father and my brother, who also were Bell Labs scientists, introduced us to a world of highly creative engineers and scientists who called themselves “recreational mathematicians.” This special group of people dedicated themselves to playing and sharing mathematical ideas that often took form as puzzles or games.

Related: Know When and How to Sell Your Business

Our mission statement became: “We find the most brilliant ideas from the wackiest engineers and mathematicians and translate them into toys and games.” Never mind that at the time there was no market demand for this kind of product — STEM(science, technology, engineering and math) was nary an idea. Still, we believed that this was an opportunity for us to become the voice for an entire creative community of playful geniuses and to build market demand from the ground up.

That belief wasn’t always strong in the beginning. We spent the first five years of our business in a constant state of anxiety, culminating in a near-disaster; in 1989 our bank kicked us out and we lost our line of credit. But, in a perfect illustration of how quickly things can change in business and in life, by 1991 we were flying. We doubled in growth from 1991 to 1992.

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But as we learned, even success can be difficult when you’re an entrepreneur. In the early years, we would have parts of our puzzles manufactured and then shipped to us, and we’d bring family and friends over and set up an assembly line in the basement. The problem, of course, was that the more we sold the later we had to stay up assembling and packaging!

More than 30 years after we launched, ThinkFun was acquired by 134-year old Ravensburger – known for making high-quality toys and games for the “hand, head and heart.”  As entrepreneurs, Andrea and I struggled with the decision to share our “first child.” But as mission-driven entrepreneurs, we know that ThinkFun has great potential to grow beyond us.

And like us, Ravensburger is a family-owned company that has thrived for more than a century by staying true to its mission — a belief in the benefits of challenging the mind and the importance of creative play. Those were all checkbox items for us that lessened the risk of sharing the reins for the next chapter of ThinkFun.

Related: Richard Branson: I Cried When I Sold Virgin Records

As we look back over the past 33 years, Andrea and I are proud of each step we’ve taken and believe in the importance of always staying true to your brand, but we also believe it is important to adapt, and in some places let go when others can take you to new heights. Moving forward, I have the dream job of any company founder — retaining the parts of my job that give me the most joy, and letting go of the rest. Ravensburger has retained me as ThinkFun’s “chief creative officer,” with a mandate to drive creative development on new products and programs. With the added resources and expertise of Ravensburger and the existing team and its experience here, I can’t wait to see what the future looks like.

10 Powerful Quotes From Hollywood Star, Producer, Philanthropist and Entrepreneur Reese Witherspoon

Move over Elle Woods, Reese Witherspoon has long broken out of her classic role in Legally Blonde and has taken the stage not only as an actress but a producer, an entrepreneur and a voice for women.

Related: 50 Inspirational Quotes to Motivate You

The Oscar-nominated, Golden Globe-winning actress, known for films including Legally BlondeElectionAmerican PsychoWild and more, has an extensive on-camera resume, however she’s just as impressive off-camera too. On top of her success as an actress, Witherspoon also launched a production company, Hello Sunshine, which, according to its website, is “all about shining a light on female authorship and agency.” The company is behind the success of many popular films and series, including Gone Girl, Wild and Big Little Lies.

Related: 10 Inspiring Quotes From Billionaire, Philanthropist and Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen

Outside of Hollywood, Witherspoon started a children’s clothing company, Draper James, which she partnered with Girls Inc. to launch. She also founded Avon Foundation for Women, focused on bringing an end to domestic violence. It’s safe to say, Witherspoon’s not your ordinary Hollywood star and she’s making strides towards a more equal world, inside and outside the entertainment industry.

To learn more from Witherspoon on topics such as success, fame and equality, check out these 10 inspiring quotes.

What It’s Really Like to Work for Elon Musk

What It's Really Like to Work for Elon Musk

Once you get your idea off the ground and start running your company day to day, you want to do everything you can to inspire your employees to do great things.

In conversation at the 2018 TED Conference in Vancouver this week, SpaceX’s President Gwynne Shotwell revealed what SpaceX and Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk is like as a boss.

Related: 25 Weird Things We’ve Learned About Elon Musk

Shotwell has worked with Musk for almost 16 years, and shared that she enjoys her work with him due to his sense of humor and his motivational presence.

She also characterized her role at the company as one that helps her fellow employees get “comfortable” with executing on Musk’s big swings. Shotwell explained that over the decade-plus of her tenure at SpaceX, she’s had to learn that her default position should always be to think bigger.

“When Elon says something, you have to pause and not blurt out ‘Well, that’s impossible,'” Shotwell noted. “You zip it, you think about it, and you find ways to get it done. I’ve always felt like my job was to take these ideas and turn them into company goals, to make them achievable.”

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Branding Boot Camp: The Final Result

Over the last three episodes, I learned how to overcome fragmentation, how to develop a brand strategy and how to build a tactical marketing plan. In my final episode with the founder of Grayce & Co, I share where all of Kathleen Griffith’s advice has directed me. Thank you for following along and doing these assignments with me. I hope Griffith has helped you with your business plans, too.

Related: Branding Boot Camp: How to Build a Tactical Marketing Plan 

Watch more videos from Jessica Abo on her YouTube channel here.

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What Startup Entrepreneurs Need to Know About the Influencer Marketing Landscape

What Startup Entrepreneurs Need to Know About the Influencer Marketing Landscape

Last year, according to a study by Marketing Hub, the term “influencer marketing” showed a 325 percent increase in searches per month, and more than 200 new platforms and influencer marketing-focused agencies joined the market. In the first quarter of 2017, influencer marketing was responsible for 28 percent of online customer-acquisition, and 67 percent of businesses said they planned to increase their influencer marketing budget over the next 12 months.

Every niche you can think of has influencers that direct those who follow them, which is likely part of the reason why startups with aggressive marketing campaigns are going from ground floor to nationally recognized seemingly overnight. But as straightforward as influencer marketing may appear, it can be a complex landscape to navigate, requiring a strategic plan and optimization to make it work.

Related: 5 Ways Most Marketers Misunderstand Influencer Marketing

How many different types of influencers are there?

As noted, there are influencers for every niche you can think of — food, fashion and beauty, video games, fitness, business, finance, direct sales, couponing … the list goes on and on. Within those niches, there are different types of influencers, like celebrities, news personalities, analysts, bloggers and even people who are considered thought leaders or “sensations” (think: YouTube personalities).

Just a few of the most followed influencers of 2018 include: Huda Kattan, a makeup artist and beauty blogger; Zach King, a social media magician; Tai Lopez; an online business self-help leader; Kayla Itsines, a fitness influencer and cofounder of The Bikini Body Training Company; and Deb Perelman, a self-taught home cook. For every niche, hobby, or quirk there’s a slew of influencers already creating content around that subject.

What makes influencer marketing so important?

Thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever to get information out about your product. It’s also easier to publish any information you please, even if it’s not true. Consumers are well aware of the misinformation out there and wary of the content and claims they come across. They put less trust and stock in ads and even use ad blockers en masse, which has dampened the success of many marketing campaigns.

With influencer marketing, you can address all those issues in one. Influencers’ followers trust them and the products they promote. When they help you market your products, you build trust with consumers and get your products in front of them regardless of the ad blockers they may have. In a Collective Bias survey, 30 percent of consumers out of 14,000 respondents reported that they were more likely to purchase a product promoted by a non-celebrity blogger, and almost 40 percent of Twitter users have reported that they’ve made a purchase because of a Tweet from an influencer.

Related: 8 Do’s and Don’ts of Influencer Marketing

The benefits of influencer marketing

You build trust quickly. Influencers’ followers are there for a reason — they view them as an authority in their field and trust what they have to say about the products they recommend. When you use influencer marketing, you build trust with your audience quickly through your influencer(s). In a survey commissioned by Olapic, 44 percent of female respondents reported that seeing the product in use helped them trust an influencer, and 41 percent of males reported that the influencer’s expertise helped them build trust.

You increase brand awareness. Raising brand awareness can be a long-term project, but influencer marketing reaches further and happens more quickly. Anyone who reads your influencer’s blogs or watches his or her videos will at least become familiar with your brand, if not purchase from you at one point or another. Influencers can help you build an army of brand enthusiasts (and repeat customers).

You target the right audience. Influencers are typically specialized; for example, Jaclyn Hill is a YouTube and social media influencer in the beauty space, but her content is focused on makeup rather than hair. Anna Wood is an influencer in the business development space, but she focuses on female empowerment. Influencer marketing allows you to narrow your target audience and reach its members effectively.

You boost your SEO. The point of SEO is to get quality, credible content about your brand on the web to boost your search rankings. With influencer marketing, not only will you appear in the content you generate, but you’ll also see rankings from your influencer’s content, boosting your SEO and getting more engagement, expanded reach and more unique, but credible, links.

You save money. Influencer marketing does come with a price tag, but it’s usually surprisingly budget-friendly and offers a fantastic ROI – A 2015 Tomoson surveyreported that businesses were making $6.50 for every $1 that they spent on influencer marketing at the time, but as influencer marketing has grown in popularity, the ROI is likely higher now in many cases. If you’ve got a small marketing budget, don’t count influencer marketing out — it could be the marketing strategy that brings you the best results.

Common influencer marketing mistakes to avoid

Despite its many benefits, influencer marketing is a complex landscape, and brands often make mistakes that cause them to have setbacks. Here are two of the most common influencer marketing mistakes to you should avoid:

Choosing quantity over quality. Some influencers have a lot more followers than others, but their content may not be the highest quality, or may not be the best fit for your brand. Instead of looking at the number of followers, examine their content and engagement to determine which influencer will give you high-quality results.

In fact, a 2017 HelloSociety study found that micro-influencers, or accounts with less than 30,000 followers, actually drive 60 percent more engagement. Audiences trust that when micro-influencers post content, they deeply care about it and have put time and effort into cultivating the right social post. Additionally, with smaller audiences micro-influencers can spark more personalized interactions, which can also drive the value of engagements up.

Choosing the wrong channels. Although every business should be on Facebook, Facebook may not be the best channel for a B2B business to implement influencer marketing. It’s important to look at all the different channels available and find an influencer who actively uses the same platform your audience is using.

For example, if you’re a blockchain-based startup looking to grow awareness among investors and the crypto community, building up an influencer community on LinkedIn or forums, like Reddit, will allow you to establish deeper ties to your niche audiences.

Related: 5 Reasons Why You Need to Take Advantage of Influencer Marketing

Final thoughts

With consumers turning to influencers they know and trust to give them reliable information, influencer marketing has experienced a dramatic rise in popularity and will continue to be successful. That’s why it’s important for every business, especially startups, to take advantage of the power of influencer marketing — it could be the key to taking your business from humble startup to household name.