A look into the opportunities available for minority-owned businesses to engage with state and local governments.

4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

There has never been a better time in recent history for minority-owned businesses to seek government contracting opportunities than now. To put this into its proper context, we must first understand that federal, state and local governments have laws and provisions in place that requires agencies and departments to allocate a portion of their budgets to minority-owned businesses.

But what defines a minority-owned business? According to the Small Business Administration, a minority-owned business is classified as a business that is owned by individuals that are a part of a “disadvantaged community”.

Laws and provisions to provide better access to opportunities for minority-owned businesses have been on the books for decades. However, in practice, the access to opportunities were not always as readily available or apparent as they might seem, especially when it came to government contracting. High-cost barriers to entry (ex. hiring the right consultants and legal advisors to assist the business) made it difficult for most minority businesses to gain access to opportunities due to the lack of adequate capital resources available to them and the difficulty they have had in securing credit facilities from financial institutions at market rates.

Thankfully, the sociological dynamics has shifted dramatically since the times that these laws, policies and provisions were initially brought to fruition. In today’s climate, governments from the federal level to the local level are more interested and motivated than ever to assist minority-owned businesses in successfully gaining access to contracting opportunities with them. Large, institutional shareholders across the board have been demanding better, more robust, actionable Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) methodologies that produce tangible results. Companies who did not take these demands seriously paid the price by way of their share prices plummeting in the wake of large shareholder divestitures.

The demonstration of large shareholders to exit companies that were not implementing strong DEI methodologies forced companies to take notice, pivot and adapt to the change in investor sentiment. Not only do shareholders require the company to have a strong DEI methodology in place, but they require that the company hold its supply chain, major business association and affiliations to the same standards. In order for politicians to continue to enjoy the generous contributions of corporations, they had to develop even more robust programs and initiatives at the federal, state, and local levels to ensure that not only were the opportunities available, but that access was attainable for the average minority business.

Related: 3 Ways to Support Minority-Owned Businesses

Colorado: an example

A great example of how governments have rolled out the red carpet for minority businesses in the contracting space is Colorado. I spoke extensively with Wael Khalifa, who is currently a special aide to the mayor of Denver. In his capacities within the government of Colorado, he has worked extensively on Colorado’s DEI framework and implementation.

Wael shared with me that Colorado’s Minority Business Office (MBO) provides free one-on-one consulting services as well as an online learning platform to help minority business owners understand and attain the different types of certifications available to them. For minority contractors, the office even educates them on the process of selecting, writing and submitting bid proposals to the state. The MBO also has an advisory council which is designed to provide a forum for which the perspectives of minority business owners can be brought to the attention of the state. In addition, the MBO also maintains a comprehensive database of all minority businesses that are certified as such with the state.

Related: The Government Wants You to Become an Entrepreneur

The state of Colorado also hosts the Advance Colorado Procurement Expo, which is a day-long event designed for businesses to showcase their products and services to state and local governments, attend workshops and network. Finally, in 2020, the state legislature passed SB20B-001 – COVID-19 Relief Small And Minority Businesses Arts Organizations in which the Colorado legislature allocated an additional $4 million to the MBO to provide direct relief payments, grants, loans, technical assistance and consulting support to minority-owned business.

Colorado is just one example of how states are strongly encouraging engagement with minority-owned businesses through legislation, regulation, guidance and funding to provide measurable access to opportunity at an unprecedented level as a part of their deepening DEI initiatives. Because many states are currently doing similar things to support minority businesses, the possibilities and opportunities for minority-owned businesses are limitless.

Related: These City Programs Are Giving Minority- and Women-Owned Businesses Access to Capital

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6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The biggest mistake most first-time marketers make is attempting a “one-size fits all” approach to their marketing efforts. They launch one campaign, sent with the same message, to all people. That may work for something that has mass appeal, across all demographics (e.g., promoting ice cream). But, for most of us, we are trying to laser into a very specific target customer. Or, more likely, target customers (plural), each with a different focus. That is when you need to build different target customer personas, segment your lists and customize your marketing messaging to each of those different sub-segments. Allow me to explain in these two examples, one for a B2C business and the other for a B2B business.

A B2C persona-building case study

Let’s say you are a manufacturer of mattresses and you offer three different tiers of quality, the basic product from $499, the medium grade from $1,299 and the higher grade from $1,999 for a queen size mattress. One marketing option is to market all of your mattresses to all potential buyers and hope for success. A better option is to build a unique persona for each tier.

Perhaps the basic product appeals to lower-income demographics or students needing a cheap mattress for their dorm room, and the middle-grade product appeals to someone in their 30s that is furnishing their first home on a tight budget. The higher-end product most appeals to people in their 50s that place a high premium on comfort and getting a good night’s sleep to help resolve their lower back pain. These are three distinct personas, and you need to segment your customer lists and customize your messaging to each one, separately.

Related: 3 Marketing Tactics Entrepreneurs Should Implement to Improve Their Return on Investment

A B2B persona-building case study

The same holds true in the B2B world. Let’s say you are a call center software business that provides workflow tools for call center reps to use, including a reporting and analytics package to optimize performance. The first persona is the call center rep, teaching them how your product is going to make their lives easier. The second persona is the call center manager, teaching them how you are going to simplify the management of their team and cross-filter best practices between the call center reps. The third persona could be someone like a COO or CFO, impressing them with the fact that your clients typically see a 20% increase in revenues and a 10% reduction in payroll costs by using your software. Again, each of these personas would be segmented into three separate groups and marketed to with messaging specific to their needs.

The above example is relatively simply, resulting in three personas. I saw one business selling 10 products into 10 industries to 10 roles within the company across 10 different languages as an international seller. Holy moly, that is a lot! 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 equals 10,000 unique personas that needs distinct messaging. What a chore that would be for the marketing department, having to build 10,000 variations of every campaign that goes out. So, maybe in this case, my first question for the company would be: Do you really need to be doing all of this, or can you better focus your efforts around your best sellers?

The other thing to think about with B2B: Where are they in the marketing funnel and sales cycle? Are they upper funnel — just starting to research their needs? Are they middle funnel — starting to assess various vendors? Are they lower funnel — comparing features and prices immediately prior to purchase? 

In this example, those are three separate personas that get unique messaging. The upper funnel may be speaking to your brand reputation and awards, the middle funnel may be speaking to your best of breed features and functionalities versus the competition, and the lower funnel may be speaking to save 10% if you book by the end of the month. Therefore, the call center software company with three personas discussed above really has nine different personas when you layer on these upper, middle and lower funnel status assumptions.

How to segment your lists

There are a few ways to tag your prospects and segment your lists. The first way is to simply ask your customers to self-identify themselves through customer surveys or online forms. The second way is to estimate which segment they are in based on their user behavior (e.g., the person looking at the $1,999 mattress on your website gets tagged as the higher-end buyer looking for comfort). The third way is to actually purchase prospect lists with the parameters you think are most desired for that persona (e.g., a list of CFOs to pitch cost savings advantages from your product).

Once the lists are created, they need to be stored in your CRM in separate “silos” sothat  they each can be sent unique messaging. The lists need to be updated over time for accuracy, and they also need to be grown over time for new customer additions to your database. So having someone on your marketing team that understands CRM and database management would be helpful here.

Related: 3 Crucial Ways to Measure Social Media’s Impact on Your Business

How to customize your campaigns

Now comes the fun part — customizing campaigns to each of your personas. In the example with the $1,999 mattress, the copy needs to speak to quality and comfort and the creatives need to have images of people in their 50s. It is just the opposite for your $499 mattress — that would pound home your price advantages, showing the image of a college kid in his dorm room. In the end, we are talking about unique copy, unique images and unique offers by persona. The more personas you have, the more creative work your team needs to do. Where you can, keep it simple.

Concluding thoughts

The emphasis point of this piece: Stop doing “one-size fits all” marketing. The more you segment your lists and customize the messaging by persona, the higher your conversion rates will increase. Yes, this will require more work and labor costs for creatives, but the resulting increase in conversion rates will more than offset these costs. Let’s say you are a $5MM business with a 1% conversion rate and one creative designer costing $50K. If adding two more designers for an additional $100K can increase your conversion rate to 2%, you are now a $10MM business. You just got a 50x return on that additional staff investment. As you can see, persona development, list segmentation, and campaign customization is really important for maximizing your return on investment. Good luck taking your marketing efforts to the next level. If you need help, just let me know.


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6 min read

This story originally appeared on StockMarket

4 Top Health Care Stocks To Watch In The Stock Market Now

Health care stocks stand amongst the largest sectors in today’s stock market. It comprises companies that sell medical supplies, medical services, and even those that offer medical insurances. As some would say, “The greatest wealth is health“. Many people compromise health in pursuit of wealth in their youth, only to then rely on wealth to nurse their health as they age. Whether it is for prevention or to treat a certain disease, the health care industry will always be relevant. 

For instance, health care companies such as CVS Health Corp (NYSE: CVS) play a major role in rolling out vaccinations to combat COVID-19. The company has administered well over 17 million doses and allows walk-in vaccination. CVS stock is currently looking at gains of over 20% year-to-date. For one thing, health care stocks will likely continue to grow once we’ve overcome the pandemic. No matter how you slice it, health care will likely remain essential regardless of the state of the world. With all that in mind, do you have a list of top health care stocks to buy in the stock market now? 

Health Care Stocks To Buy [Or Sell] In June

Veeva Systems Inc

First, we have one of the leading providers of cloud-based software solutions for the global life sciences industry, Veeva. Its solution enables companies to realize the benefits of modern cloud-based architecture and mobile applications for their business functions. In short, it helps companies to bring products to the market faster and more efficiently. VEEV stock has been up by over 30% over the past year. 

top health care stocks (VEEV stock)

Last week, the company reported an impressive earnings report. Its revenue came in at $433.57 million, up by 29% year-over-year. Out of which, subscription revenue climbed by 26%. Furthermore, its adjusted earnings grew by 37.9%. This is impressive as it exceeded the expectations of analysts. Besides, Veeva also saw the addition of 59 new customers, taking the total count to more than 1000 customers.

On April 15, the company and leading clinical research organization Parexel announced a strategic collaboration. This collaboration involves Parexel standardizing Veeva’s suite of clinical operations applications to streamline operations. Besides, Parexel will have early access and provide input into Veeva’s clinical products. In a world where tech plays a huge factor in health care, it puts the company in an ideal position moving forward. All things considered, would you buy VEEV stock?

[Read More] Best Stocks To Invest In Right Now? 4 Cybersecurity Stocks To Consider

Johnson & Johnson

Next, we have one of the leading health care companies in the world, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ). It engages in the research and development, manufacturing, and sale of a range of products in the health care field. In the past year, the company has been making headlines due to its production of COVID-19 vaccines. JNJ stock has been trending upwards since the start of the year, up by almost 10% during this period. 

biotech stocks to buy now (JNJ stock)

On Monday, Denmark’s government asked the country’s health authorities to reconsider the decision to exclude JNJ and AstraZeneca’s (NASDAQ: AZN) COVID-19 shots from its vaccination program. It appears there has been a delay in the country’s vaccination program due to the delivery of fewer Moderna (NASDAQ: MRNA) and CureVac (NASDAQ: CVAC) vaccines than expected. 

In addition, South Korea will be getting 1 million doses of JNJ’s vaccine this week mainly to inoculate military personnel. The country has reported a lower death toll compared to many developed countries from COVID-19. There may have been some hiccups along the way with claims of side effects associated with JNJ’s vaccine. However, most of it has been cleared and the need for vaccination far exceeds the minute chance of side effects. With that in mind, would JNJ stock be a viable investment now?

Read More

Cigna Corp

Cigna Corp is a health services company that offers medical, dental insurance, and related products and services. With approximately 190 million customers and patient relationships in more than 30 countries, the company is able to harness actionable insights that address whole-person health and drive better health outcomes. The company stock has been on a healthy incline this year. It has risen over 25% year-over-year.

best health care stocks (CI stock)

In May, the company along with Oscar Health, Inc (NYSE: OSCR) announced that Cigna Administered by Oscar small group health insurance will be available to Arizona employers. Small businesses throughout Arizona continue to struggle from the impact brought on by the pandemic. Hence, it is important that small businesses are getting aid to get back on their feet and keep their doors open. Thus, Cigna Administered by Oscar meets those needs by offering affordable health plans for small businesses.

Financially, the company reported earnings of $4.73 per share in its latest first-quarter earnings report. This is mostly attributed to higher pharmacy revenues, fees, and other income. Also, it reported revenues of $41 billion, up by 6.5% year-over-year. Given how health care is in the limelight over the past year, the company’s products and services are in high demand. So, would you say that CI stock is worth investing in now?

[Read More] Best Growth Stocks To Buy Now? 5 Electric Vehicle Stocks To Watch

Sanofi SA

To sum up the list, we have the French health care company, Sanofi. Essentially, the company focuses on the research, development, manufacturing, and marketing of therapeutic solutions. Its three operating segments are Pharmaceuticals, Consumer Health Care (CHC), and Vaccines. Despite trading sideways for the past year, it appears that SNY stock has been trending upwards since March. 

best health care stocks to buy now (SNY stock)

Just last week, the company along with GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) started enrollment in their Phase 3 clinical study to assess the safety, efficacy, and immunogenicity of their COVID-19 vaccine candidate. The primary endpoint of the study is the prevention of symptomatic COVID-19 in adults, with secondary endpoints being the prevention of severe COVID-19 disease and the prevention of asymptomatic infection. Should this be successful, it would serve as a boost to both companies as we strive to fight against the global pandemic. 

Earlier in May, Sanofi also entered into a three-year research collaboration with Stanford University School of Medicine. Together, the two organizations will work to advance the understanding of immunology and inflammation through open scientific exchange. In the field of science and health care, research is always ongoing and is the foundation of new groundbreaking discoveries. Hence, would you take a bet with SNY stock at this point in time?

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Avoid common mistakes and make iron-clad models for your business.

2 min read

Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

Businesses need money. Crazy idea, right? Well, when you’re planning for the future of your business, it helps to use financial models to understand exactly where your money is coming and going — especially if you’re hoping to attract investors. But it’s easy to make mistakes on financial models, or just feel way over your head. Financial Modeling for Beginners in Excel aims to help you overcome the challenges and start making perfect financial models in Excel, no matter what your skill level.

Bryan Hong (4.3/5-star instructor rating) leads this quick-hitting, four-hour course. Hong is the author of the 101 Excel Series paperback books and has been an IT Software Developer for more than ten years. He holds several Microsoft certifications, including Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD): Web Developer, Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS): Windows Applications, Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE), and Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA).

Regardless of your skill level, Hong will use this course to give you all the must-know information about how to build a financial model in Excel. You’ll increase your knowledge and become an advanced financial modeler in just a matter of hours. You’ll see exactly how a financial model is used with real-life examples, become more productive using Excel’s tools, and create your own financial model from scratch that you can use as a foundation to build from. By the end of the course, you’ll know how to avoid the most common mistakes and make the best financial models possible for your business. Potential investors, partners, and other team members will thank you.

Start making better financial models in Excel without overhauling your process. Normally $200, you can get Financial Modeling for Beginners in Excel for 90 percent off at just $19.99 for a limited time.

Prices subject to change.

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Go off the grid without really going off the grid.

2 min read

Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

Summer is just about here and you’ve earned yourself a vacation. The business will be fine if you head away for a few days so go find the rest and relaxation you need. However, if you are going off the grid, it’s still important to stay safe. That means having a way to stay in contact with the civilized world, especially if you’re going off on your own. Whether you’re traveling to a distant beach or heading to the mountains for a few days, make sure you have a Radacat C2 Messenger: Off-Grid GPS Tracker with you.

The Radacat C2 Messenger is an off-grid messenger that might just save your life one day. It’s a mini GPS tracking device that doubles as a messenger and a tracker by connecting to your mobile phone. Even if you’re way off-grid with no cell service, Radacat allows you to use offline GPS, send text and voice messages, and provides real-time locations to other Radacat C2 users. (They come in a two-pack so you’ll always have someone you know on the other end.)

The Radacat C2 requires no cell signal, monthly fees, or WiFi. It’s compact and easy to carry with you anywhere and offers more than 36 hours of continuous working time on a single charge. (More if you only turn it on when you’re fully off the grid.) It has up to a six-mile range, depending on obstructions and interference. Perfect for hiking, skiing, cycling, international travel, and more, the Radacat C2 is a smart way to stay safe this summer.

Don’t go fully off the grid. Normally $289, you can get a Radacat C2 Messenger: Off-Grid GPS Tracker two-pack for 20 percent off at just $230 today.

Prices subject to change.

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5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

If you’re like most modern companies, you’ve at least flirted with the idea of starting a search engine optimization (SEO) campaign. Maybe SEO has allowed you to capture a massive stream of inbound traffic and currently represents the most successful element of your marketing strategy. Or maybe you’re somewhere in between. 

The appeal of SEO is pretty obvious. Rank higher in search engines, and you’ll get more inbound traffic. More inbound traffic leads to more revenue. And because SEO is relatively inexpensive, the return on investment (ROI) is often favorable even in merely decent campaigns.  

That said, there are some important downsides to SEO that you must consider. Notably, SEO takes a long time to develop and show its true results.  

So what are you supposed to do if you’re not seeing results? Should you keep investing, waiting and hoping for the best? Or do you withdraw and cut your losses? And if you must withdraw, when’s the best time to do it? 

The SEO dilemma 

This leads us to the central SEO dilemma. For SEO to work long-term, you have to keep investing in it for months — and sometimes years — despite seeing little to no results early on. In other words, you have to have faith in the strategy and keep pushing for further development. Considering the near-universal value of SEO, this is worth pushing for.  

At the same time, it makes no sense to remain complacent with a strategy that isn’t bringing value to your organization. If you invested in SEO for 10 years with no results, most people would consider it a bad financial move.  

So where do you draw the line? At what point do you consider calling it quits?  

Reasonable timeframes for SEO 

Before we can answer that question, we need to establish expectations for the timeline of SEO. How long should it take for a “normal” SEO campaign to develop?  

This question is hard to answer, since it depends on so many variables. Campaigns may take longer or shorter depending on their budget, the industry, the quality of the SEO campaign and other factors. For our purposes, we’ll consider an experienced SEO campaign manager with a mid-sized business in a competitive (but not ridiculously so) industry). Additionally, the budget is neither restrictive nor indulgent. 

Related: Why You’re Hurting Your Bottom Line If You Only Care About the Bottom Line

Realistically, you should start to see some momentum within a few weeks of starting your campaign, and definitely within the first two months. You’ll notice your domain authority ticking upward (especially if you haven’t done any work on this yet), you’ll see measurable traffic increases and you should start climbing the search engine results pages (SERPs) for your target phrases. If you don’t see any measurable progress after two months, that’s a bad sign.  

After three to six months, you should see much more progress. Even in a competitive industry, you should see yourself become a formidable player. If you’re still seeing minimal progress after six months of work, something is seriously wrong.  

Alternatives to quitting 

Here’s something else to consider: Abandoning the SEO campaign isn’t the only option available to you. If you’ve spent several months optimizing for search engines with not much to show for it, you could instead make adjustments to your strategy. If you’re targeting the wrong keyword phrases or if you’re competing on a national, instead of local level, you can make some strategic changes to see faster momentum.  

Related: 7 Tips for Cold-Calling Success

If you’re doing the work all in-house or if you’re doing the work yourself, consider hiring an expert to take over the campaign. They can help you figure out what you’re doing wrong, correct the issues and ultimately prime you for better results.  

Variables to consider  

If you’re questioning whether your SEO strategy is working, or whether you should quit, be careful not to make any impulsive decisions. Instead, consider the variables that could be influencing this position, such as:  

  • Standing penalties. Violations of Google’s terms of service can lead to penalties, which are very hard to recover from in some cases.  

  • Content quality. Bad content or adherence to questionable practices can stymie your momentum.  

  • Pace of work. Your budget and drive will dictate how much progress you make; if you’re only investing the bare minimum, you shouldn’t expect fast results.  

SEO is a long-term strategy, and for the most part, you shouldn’t let your impatience get the better of you. Momentum builds slowly and is often imperceptible at first, gradually building to incredible heights. However, there are many ways a campaign can go wrong, and it’s not a good idea to continue pursuing a campaign that simply isn’t working. Keep a critical, analyzing eye on your campaign, and if it’s not generating results after a few months, be ready to change it or cut it loose.  

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Find out how these types of people nurture, motivate and inspire all employees, even if they have different personalities.

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Every once in a while, even though the room is full of experienced and successful people , you meet a leader who stands out. You can know in an instant that they act, think and guide differently than any other leader.

But those individuals did not become great leaders overnight. Although some were born with certain aptitudes to be it, the reality is that they are formed through training, experience and a healthy dose of introspection to make quick and correct decisions. They learn to work with different personalities. They discover how to nurture, motivate and inspire.

Do you want to become a great leader? Work hard to achieve it in a natural, automatic and instinctive way. Start by cultivating these eight habits:

1. They turn to praise. It’s easy to see when an acknowledgment is simply a pretext for assigning a long list of tasks. We have all been around people who occasionally shake hands. No matter how much they want to fake it, their dishonesty is evident (tell me if you haven’t had at least one boss like that).

Praise is almost like breathing for an effective leader: natural, aromatic, frequent, and most of all, genuine and sincere.

2. They decide. Ideas are great, but implementation is everything. Great leaders measure, evaluate and decide almost immediately, this because decision and action gives them confidence and momentum. So bad decisions are better than no decisions at all. Errors can almost always be corrected.

3. They accept responsibility. We all make bad decisions. What matters is what we do after we make those mistakes. Great leaders are the first to say “I was wrong” or “I made the wrong decision; we need to change course ”. They hold themselves accountable and desperately want to build a culture where mistakes are challenges to overcome, not opportunities to point fingers and blame someone.

4. They communicate. Business is full of “what”: what to implement, what to execute, what to say, and sometimes what to feel. What is missing is a “why”. This is why many projects, processes and tasks fail.

Managers stipulate. Great leaders explain and then listen, because the most effective communication happens when we listen, not when we speak.

5. They set the example. Imagine that you are walking through the factory with the plant manager and there is a piece of garbage on the floor. There are two types of people in this situation:

  • One who sees it, stops, takes it, walks 20 steps to the garbage can and throws it away. He picked up the trash but also gave a message.
  • The other sees it, picks it up and keeps the garbage until he sees that a garbage can is nearby. He is not thinking of giving a message. He only saw some trash and picked it up without thinking.

Why is this important to employees? When you’re in charge, everyone sees what you do. The difference is how you do it and what that says about you. Great leaders do that because it is important to them.

6. Give feedback. We all want to improve: to be more skilled and successful. This is why we need constructive feedback. Because they care about their employees, not just as workers, but as people. Great leaders go to the one with problems and say “I know you can do that and I will help you.” Great leaders naturally try to change their lives because they care.

7. They seek help. At some point, many people in a leadership position avoid showing vulnerability . After all, you are in charge, so you are supposed to know everything. Of course that’s impossible. Great leaders don’t claim to know everything (in fact they must hire people who know more than they do) so they instinctively ask questions and automatically ask for help. In that process they show vulnerability, respect for the knowledge and skills of others and the willingness to listen, all great qualities of a leader.

8. Challenge. Most leaders implement their ideas by reinforcing processes and procedures that support their ideas. For employees, commitment and satisfaction are based on autonomy and independence. They care much more when it is their idea, process or responsibility.

Great leaders create standards and guidelines and then challenge their employees to give them the autonomy and independence to work their best. They allow employees to change “theirs” into “ours,” transforming work into an external expression of each person’s unique skills, talents, and experiences.

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7 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In today’s ever-evolving digital landscape, there are dozens — if not hundreds — of digital tools and platforms at your disposal to start growing your business and gain traction from the comfort of your own home. 

One common misconception many budding entrepreneurs have is that scaling their business to seven figures requires encompassing a multitude of fancy tricks or expensive methods. However, this is far from the truth. The following seven strategies can help budding entrepreneurs understand the keys to their own future success.

1. Start with a service 

The best way to reach seven figures from your new home business is to offer a service, rather than a product. Products require more upfront overhead due to the costs of manufacturing, distributing and shipping inventory. While services require human capital, the work can usually be done with a laptop and wifi connection from anywhere in the world. In order to narrow in on which service you want your business to sell, start by researching which services are consistently in high demand and have the potential to provide higher long-term profits and ROIs.

Related: These Young Entrepreneurs Saw Covid Coming and Changed the Way They Serve Their Customers

2. Automate your outbound marketing 

After you’ve settled on which service you want to sell, the next step is to begin automating your outbound marketing and customer engagements. This can include automating any aspect of your business’s outbound marketing such as paid advertisements, emails, cold calls and more. But whatever you choose to automate, it must be scalable.

Begin by scaling your email, LinkedIn, and Instagram marketing and outreach in order to connect with potential clients and customers. This method is similar to “flyering,” but without the bulk of hands-on work that would be required of human employees. Then, group all inbound messages you receive from this automated outbound reach into a designated email inbox that allows you to respond to those messages. You will soon see hundreds of messages coming in each day based on the service you offer.

Related: 8 Lessons in Using Linkedin for Marketing

3. Be able to sell your service 

In order to sell the service your business provides, you need to make sure that you become an all-around master in the service itself. This will require you to understand every aspect of what the service entails and price your service competitively for how you market it to the customers or clients you want to primarily serve. 

For example, your service can scale from $500/month to $5,000/month after you’ve established yourself as a master in the service you provide to customers. If you aren’t sure how to best price out your business’s service, remember that you always need to start pricing to coincide with your own level of expertise. This will let you offer virtually any kind of service you want, so long as you match your price with your expertise. Once you start making sales at that initial price, then you need to start on the next step in the process.

4.  Outsource 

This step in the process is when you need to begin scouting for contractors to perform the hands-on work for your business. After you do the hands-on work yourself a handful of times, you should have enough knowledge and expertise in both the subject matter and the process to train others to do it for you. 

Once you have outsourced a working contractor, you should have a solid method of your sales process, including what it fully entails as far as daily, weekly and monthly tasks and OKRs. The trick here then becomes scaling that one contractor to several in order to handle more work as your business begins growing.

5. Use the contractor model to scale your company’s growth 

After you have tested out your entire sales process with a handful of contractors, the next step is scaling that process up to match your business’s growth. This can include contracting someone to manage your cold email outreach for you or hiring someone to eventually take over the entire sales process for your business. 

If you aren’t sure where or how to start scaling your contractors, you can easily find a multitude of suitable experts on freelancer sites or other platforms where you can find contractors, or even potential clients, depending on the specific service and niche market your business serves.

Once this is complete, the next step towards scaling your business into one that generates seven figures annually is to create a sustainable infrastructure for your company’s internal operations.

6. Build structure into your business 

By the time you reach this step, your business should be employing a larger team. But as your business grows both through its human capital and its customer database, so too does your responsibility in ensuring your employees follow your business’s proven process. This will require you to create a foundation of structure within your business for your employees to follow. 

Begin by building in training courses, modules and documentation for your team to lean on. Utilizing project management software and a CRM software to handle client engagements will help you scale your business and grow a more robust service offering to your customers. Eventually, you will become so familiar with your business’s processes that you will become an expert of your own people, allowing you to identify who on your team is adhering to the process by following certain checkpoints in the process.

From there, you can take the best material your team has generated and use them as case studies to further build out and refine your service pitch. By this point, you may have 10 or more contractors who — like you — are experts in the process. Use their abilities and knowledge to help train others who may be underperforming and bring them up to your level, before heading on to the final step.

7. Hire full-time employees 

This is the last step in scaling your business into one that generates seven figures (or more) in annual revenue. Once your contractors are just as knowledgeable as you in your company’s internal processes and your business has created several examples of best-in-class material documents and case studies, lean on their experience within your company in order to help get your new full-time hires trained.

When scaling your business, some other important factors to consider include:

  • Constant communication: Don’t be afraid to schedule weekly or bi-weekly Zoom meetings with your team and key clients. Be transparent, honest and upfront with them as much as possible to continue building trust internally and externally for your business.

  • Continued training exercises and modules: Even the most renowned subject matter experts falter from time to time. In being consistent with training, employees can not only become better at their job, but they also become more attached to your company and its brand.

  • Networking and events: Never underestimate the power of a positive referral. Networking and attending events for your industry — virtual or otherwise — is vital in creating brand awareness and identity from other experts in your field who may not be familiar with your business.

Scaling any business from zero to seven figures is complicated, but it’s more than possible. While every business and brand is different, there are always going to be other important factors to consider in regards to how you want your business to perform and succeed. Use the strategies listed here, and you will be able to better navigate a complicated process. Best of all, you will build a strong brand from the ground up. 

Related: When to Take Your Freelance Business Full-Time

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5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Scrappiness has come to define startup culture. Startups adopt a relentless and dogged approach to growth that takes setbacks and churns them into successes. As I’ve seen from my own humble small business beginnings, this kind of culture has come to mean more than that for companies looking to scale.

With 56 percent of employees valuing workplace culture over salary, a scrappy atmosphere could mean the difference between a beginning business that fades into obscurity and one that evolves to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

There’s possibility in adversity

A tough culture is critically important to constructing a team that can go the distance. Employees that experience the benefits of a scrappy culture will be more motivated to contribute to a startup’s early growth period and that environment will cultivate a go-getter attitude that multiplies over time.

On the flip side, a toxic culture can gradually eat away at a startup’s trajectory. According to one study, 72 percent of employees said corporate culture influences where they choose to work.

That’s why startups can — and should — maintain that vibe, even as they continue to scale. Scrappiness is about keeping an underdog mentality (and we all know how much humans love Cinderella stories). People routinely vote for underdog candidates and support them in sports because they relate to the challenger. This mentality makes the excitement of the chase more significant and ends up making the eventual victory feel that much better.

Related: Winners Know It’s Always Better to Be the Underdog

I’ve seen firsthand how entrepreneurs can benefit from staying scrappier for longer. The companies I’ve worked with that have maintained this culture manage to appear more authentic to their audiences by stoking this mentality and their employees’ loyalty. A “never satisfied” mentality can help drive your small company over the top.

Keep the chip on your shoulder

A scrappy culture is easier to create at the outset of startup life, when the team is manageable and everyone’s back is against the wall. But the key to scaling successfully is finding ways to maintain this attitude at every stage of your company’s life.

Here are three strategies to deploy, even when you’re moving up in the world.

1. Offer employees their own stake

Encouraging employees to take on new challenges, create new efficiencies and take ownership of their processes is a great way to keep your team motivated.

Certain kinds of leadership can be detrimental to this sense of ownership and the motivation that comes from it. Micromanaging, for example, can make employees feel helpless and uncreative. During his first stint with Apple, Steve Jobs was a notorious micromanager. But when he returned to the helm in 1997, Jobs flipped that mentality by adopting a startup mindset that encouraged employees to act without input from higher-ups.

Create a workplace atmosphere in which creativity and autonomy are celebrated. Tear down silos and snip red tape so your team feels empowered to act and push the company forward.
Related: How to Strike a Balance Between Micromanaging and Under-Managing

2. Don’t shy away from details

Young companies need to manage their expenses carefully because they’re not yet making a profit. Before ShipMonk grew enough to open our Florida headquarters, critical team members — including myself and our chief revenue officer — personally laid down epoxy flooring throughout our office.

We didn’t need to rely on outside contractors. Staying consistent with our bootstrapped origins, we took matters into our own hands and laid the floor ourselves. Who’s to say you can’t keep this mentality as you scale? Just because you’re growing the team and achieving more significant projects doesn’t mean you have to invest in a vast office space or outsource all the handiwork to others.

Think about how you can reuse or re-purpose existing resources to keep your costs low and ambitions high. Encourage current staff to keep an eye out for promising talent, giving them the freedom to find ways to modify and improve existing resources and practices.

For example, perhaps you could reshuffle your existing space to make it more relaxing rather than moving to an office with a nap room? Do recruiting practices and internal policies need to be revisited? Empower your team to tackle internal tasks themselves.

Related: 8 Bulletproof Ways to Bootstrap Your Business

3. Give people their flowers

In the early days of any up-and-coming enterprise, the lows are low — but the highs are exceptionally high. There’s reason to celebrate whenever you make a sale, sign a contract or notice a spike in website traffic. At this time, employees are more likely to feel motivated and rewarded, which keeps them striving toward more.

When the initial buzz wears off, this inspiration can be hard to find. Keep the party going by celebrating large and small wins regularly. According to a SurveyMonkey study, 82 percent of employees are happier when their companies recognize their efforts.

We regularly treat our employees to company outings and activities. We recently rewarded our sales and marketing teams for their work with a team dinner and an ax-throwing outing. This isn’t just a vague morale boost; research shows that celebrating achievement is strongly linked to employee retention.

This is the attitude you need to succeed at any business stage, but it can be particularly valuable as you reach the tricky scaling phase. If you want employees to keep hustling, help them feel ownership over their work and see that they’re making an impact — do so by encouraging their inner scrappers.

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5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You’ve likely walked past your kitchen counter and seen near-rotten bananas and thought to yourself, Oh, I’ll make a smoothie tomorrow with those. Then the next day you see the same bananas and think, Guess it’s time to make banana bread! On the third day, the bananas are collecting flies, and there’s not a smoothie or banana bread in sight.

We do this exact same thing in our businesses, often without even noticing.

We set mile-high goals, to-do lists for days and have ideas that constantly sit at the back of our minds. I think of it like this: When you first think of an idea, it’s green like an un-ripe banana. It’s natural for an idea to mature for a few days — and ripen like a banana. But after awhile, if you don’t act upon those ideas, they begin to rot and take up mental and physical space. 

If we don’t throw out the ideas that never came to be — or the rotten bananas — our business will start to attract flies, rot and slow down. 

Your business might have old bananas like unfinished courses, unpaid invoices and unwritten articles. I call these unclosed loops, but for the purpose of this article, we will continue to call them rotten bananas. Let’s clean them up before we enter into the new year.

Related: 4 Lessons Matthew McConaughey Taught Me About Success

Identifying your old bananas

Ask yourself these four questions:

  1. How many unfinished projects do you currently have floating around? Of these projects, would you rate them a somewhat-rotten smoothie banana or a nearly unusable banana bread banana?
  2. Of these projects, which ones give you energy, and which ones are weighing you down? If you’re not sure, imagine you didn’t have to do one, and see how you feel. If you feel free, it might be OK to sell this idea to someone else or to send it to the graveyard. If you feel passionate, it’s time to add time to the calendar to act on it.
  3. How many unpaid invoices do you have out for your business? Of these invoices, how past due are they? Smoothie or banana bread? Block time to address these today.
  4. How many other unclosed loops are floating around? Contractors to hire, websites to upgrade, office space to purchase, YouTube channel to start? Take about 10 minutes to rate each in order of importance and how long you’ve been sitting on the idea. Then get some time on your schedule with your team to finish these actions so they don’t drag you down.

When that’s done, give yourself some credit. Taking some of these items out to the trash is creating serious mental space and room for new (non-fly-like) clients to head your way.

Related: My Year of Discipline and Determination: How I Read 52 Books, Ran 520 KM, Completed 4 Courses and Started a New Business in 2020

Make a vow to the countertops

Before we move forward, let’s make a vow to eat the bananas when they’re ripe or give them away moving forward. Entrepreneurs are flooded with ideas daily, and some of them are right for us and should be acted on right away, while others are great ideas but not right for the moment. A mentor of mine had a mantra: “Good idea; stay on plan.” It might be wise to hire a coach or an office manager who can keep you on track when these ideas pop up to see if they’re worth adjusting the plan or if you need to stay on course. 

Moving forward for 2021

Now, take a look at your list and decide which items you’ll actually move forward with and which items you’ll toss. Make the smoothie and the banana bread. You’ll want to come up with a detailed plan — including some outsourcing ― to complete these items now. I would suggest one project per quarter and tossing all the other ideas into 2022 land for now. 

You’ll be amazed at how free you feel having chosen two to four big projects to actually focus on and complete next year. For example, next year I plan to launch an author mastermind, run a publishing firm and create journals and content. That’s it! Ahhhh.

Related: Discipline Is What Leads to Success

Chopping up your bananas

Now for our final step, let’s chop up our banana for the rest of 2020. Yes, I’m serious about this metaphor.

You get three slices to dump into your business cereal bowl. Pick the three most important things that will move your business forward by January 1, 2021. No. 1 should be something relatively vital, no. 2 should trail close behind and no. 3 should be something that can be completed in 2021 if necessary.

My three slices include:

1. Processes for operations

2. Finishing my manifestation journal and mini course

3. Launching my my author mastermind in February 2021

When you’re determining your three goals, think about who you’ll need to become to move them forward. You will likely automatically become more responsible, more leadership-driven and be more patient as you eliminate the need for hundreds of micro goals. Resistance is natural here, but this process is essential to help your progress speed up — even if it requires slowing down for the moment. 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to make a smoothie.

Related: Entrepreneurs Need to Train Like Elite Athletes, According to a Former Pro Badminton Player

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