Posts Tagged "startup news"

The wholesale shopping chain posted disappointing earnings on Friday.

3 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The U.S. economy still appears to be humming, but slowing growth in the rest of the world dragged down stock prices today.

U.S. core retail sales (excluding food, gas and automobiles), were up 0.9 percent in November about twice the median estimate. However, lower industrial output and retail sales in China along with weak economic data from the Eurozone sparked fears of a slowing global economy. All three major stock indexes were down with the Nasdaq composite index — off 2.26 percent — falling furthest.

The Entrepreneur Index™ fell 2.44 percent today with just eight of 60 stocks posting gains on the day.

Costco Wholesale Group had the biggest decline on the index, falling 8.59 percent after reporting earnings this morning. The retailer beat revenue estimates but missed on earnings by a penny. It blamed increased competition from the likes of Walmart and — particularly in the grocery business — for shrinking margins. The stock is still up 11 percent for the year.

Universal Health Services, which operates acute care health facilities, also got hammered after a Goldman Sachs analyst downgraded the stock from neutral to sell today. It dropped 8.2 percent. Universal’s stock soared through most of November, but is down 13 percent so far in December.

Technology stocks were down sharply, with (-4.01 percent) and Netflix (-3.33 percent) posting some of the biggest declines. Adobe Systems Inc. fell hardest in the sector, sliding 7.29 percent today. The software maker reported strong financial results yesterday but analysts are concerned about its ability to integrate the large acquisition of Marketo announced in September.

All segments of the market were weak today. Cosmetics maker Estee Lauder Companies, with a strong and growing business in Asia, was down 3.53 percent. Medical device manufacturer Boston Scientific Corp. declined 3.19 percent and investment bank Jefferies Financial Group was down 4.23 percent. Restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill fell 3.15 percent.

Even Tesla, up 40 percent in the last two months, fell today. Despite an exuberant tweet earlier this week from CEO Elon Musk about the possibility of a Tesla pick-up truck coming to market soon, it was down 2.94 percent today.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals was one of the few stocks to post a gain on the day, rising 0.70 percent after a Goldman Sachs analyst upgraded the stock to “buy,” citing the company’s strong product pipeline. Fellow drug-maker Alexion Pharmaceuticals was down 2.67 percent.

Under Armour Inc. after falling precipitously over the last two days, was up 1.17 percent. The biggest gain on the Entrepreneur Index™ was posted by specialty retailer Bed Bath & Beyond. After setting a 52-week low this morning, the stock bounced 1.38 percent. It’s down 47 percent on the year.

Other gains on the index included Dollar Tree Inc. (0.95 percent), Ford Motor Co. (0.24 percent) and REITs Essex Property Trust (0.21 percent), Kimco Realty Corp. (0.61 percent) and Apartment Investment and Management Co. (0.47 percent).

The Entrepreneur Index™ collects the top 60 publicly traded companies founded and run by entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurial spirit is a valuable asset for any business, and this index recognizes its importance, no matter how much a company has grown. These inspirational businesses can be tracked in real time on

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Side hustles grow into full-time businesses because of strategy and the right mindset.

5 min read

This story originally appeared on Due

There are very few feelings in the world as discouraging as side hustling and seeing hardly any growth over months or years. Even if you started side hustling just to supplement your full-time income, you’re probably hoping the side work will someday overtake your full-time income so you can ride off into the entrepreneurial sunset.

Here’s the hard truth: Side hustles stay side hustles and don’t turn into legit businesses for reasons. Here are a few reasons why your side hustle isn’t growing:

Reason 1: You’re a master of none.

Side hustling and running a business are two different animals. The purpose of side hustling is to make as much as possible however you can. Maybe your main hustle is freelancing but you rideshare a few days during the week and tutor other days of the week as well. If you want your main business to be freelancing or consulting, you need to specialize in it. You need to become a go-to person who does a specific thing, and not a hustle generalist. Doing a bunch of different hustles means you spread yourself thin and cannot devote the time necessary to turn one of your hustles into a legitimate business.

How to move forward: Choose one of your side hustles to focus on. Give yourself a time frame where you will dedicate all of your energy to growing this one hustle. Focus can do wonders. Rosemarie Groner, founder of the Busy Budgeter blog, decided she wanted to give up running an home-based daycare business and focused solely on growing her blog for one year. The result was exponential growth. She started off making a few thousand dollars per month from her blog. Now she’s had months where her blog earned close to six figures.

Reason 2: You’re grasping at straws. 

It’s difficult to grow a business when you have no idea what need you fulfill in the marketplace. I’m of the belief that not everyone needs a full-fledged 100-page business plan to make their business work. However, you do need to establish what you do, why you do it, your business model, who your target market is and what’s your unique edge. It’s also a good idea to picture where you see your business six months, one year and five years from now. If you focus on day to day activities, you’re not doing the forward thinking that’s necessary to grow your side hustle into a full-time business.

How to move forward: Put together an abbreviated business plan if you need one. Don’t fall into analysis paralysis thinking it needs to be perfect. You don’t have to feel trapped by your business plan. You can change directions as you’re operating. Another planning exercise you can do is think about how many people you want to serve and why. For example, “I want to write website copy for 50 mom-and-pop small businesses this year because I want to help them reach a wider audience.” This exercise gives you a direction and purpose other than money that will eventually lead to dollars.

Reason 3: You’re playing small.

You think you want success, but you’re subconsciously holding yourself back. Playing small leads to small growth. People play small in different ways. Maybe you haven’t yet set up business systems to take on more clients because you’re subconsciously scared of getting too busy. Perhaps there are clients you want to pitch but you’re scared of rejection so you procrastinate by doing useless tasks like tweaking your social media bios.

How to move forward: When you’re stuck, start asking yourself some of the hard questions. Why are you scared of taking on more work? Why are you scared to pitch new clients? Confront your fears so you can push forward and grow. If you’re scared of getting too busy, it may be time to raise your prices so you can do less work for more money. Fear of rejection is common when pitching. Practice your pitch and try to make cold leads warmer so you can feel confident.

Final word

Side hustles grow into full-time businesses because of strategy and the right mindset. Take some time to sit down and think through what area of business you want to specialize in, what your purpose is and how to up your game. Nothing in business happens miraculously. Success happens through intentional steps and learning experiences. Stay focused on where you can offer the most value to customers and you should be able to successfully turn your side hustle income into a full-time income.

(By Taylor Gordon)

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As the company has grown past the startup phase, I now find myself being called on to perform the duties of an executive far more than those of an entrepreneur.

7 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Earlier this quarter, Product2Market cracked the 100-employee mark for the first time since we launched the company. I’m incredibly proud of the company’s success to date, but as with all growth, there were some pains involved.

Related: 50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

While that certainly applies to the organization as a whole, it also applies to me personally. As CEO and founder of the company, I feel like the team hitting 100 members is truly a watershed moment, and I find myself acutely aware of how our new size is changing my own role within the company.

As the company has grown past the startup phase, I now find myself being called on to perform the duties of an executive far more than those of an entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur at heart, I’d be lying if I said that transition didn’t come with some challenges.

I know I’m certainly not alone in facing this change, so for you other entrepreneurs out there who are approaching the point where it’s time for your role to grow with your company, here are some of the most significant ways I’ve personally felt this big change in action.

I’m no longer as intimately involved in the who.

At Product2Market’s current size, it’s no longer practical for me to be involved in most of the hiring decisions. That’s a big change for me for a couple of reasons.

First and foremost, it’s completely new. When we were smaller, I was accustomed to being involved in almost all hiring decisions, which meant I could be 100 percent certain that the people I was bringing on board were the right fit for both the positions and the culture I was trying to build.

Now, I’ve had to delegate that responsibility to my team and delegating something I always considered such a core part of my responsibility as founder can be hard. Luckily, I have an unbelievable management team that understands my vision for our culture as if it were their own.

Related: 15 Ways to Lead With Effective Communication

Secondly, I’m a people person. I always loved the fact that I knew everyone that worked for me on a first-name basis and could strike up a chat over the proverbial water cooler with anyone. But, now, at 100 people, I find that I occasionally get LinkedIn requests from people I don’t even realize are members of my own team! That’s unavoidable with size, but it’s startling none the less.

The solution to dealing with that new paradigm is to accept that as a company grows bigger, it becomes impossible for the top levels of management to know everyone on a deeply personal basis, but to strive for that goal anyway.

I might not know the names of the new hire’s kids on Day One, but by maintaining my people-centric focus and trying to continue making those connections, I can make myself a better, more approachable executive.

I have to sacrifice tactics for strategy.

In the military, there is a concept called “mission command,” which is a model for decentralizing decision-making. The idea is that it isn’t practical or possible for a general or other officers in high command positions to be responsible for every mission and every decision. Instead, that commanding officer thinks only about overall strategy, providing an intent to their subordinates. Those junior officers are then trusted to make the actual tactical-level decisions to meet that command intent.

The business world works the same way — or at least it should. As Product2Market has grown, I’ve found that my role has rapidly shifted away from the hands-on CEO of our startup days to that of a strategic planner.

Related: 22 Qualities That Make a Great Leader

In an extensive study of CEO leadership styles, Harvard Business Review identified this style as “the strategy approach.” Embracing this new leadership approach has been a bit of a tough change for me because I so enjoy being immersed in the day-to-day operation of the business, but from an organizational standpoint, it would be disastrous for the company if I didn’t embrace my new role.

Managers and executives who can’t let go of tactical-level decision-making — the dreaded micromanagers — smother their subordinates. And even well-intentioned smothering is still smothering! Not only will micromanagement eventually break down an organization, but it also severely stunts the growth of the employees who should be doing the day-to-day tactical decision-making, robbing them of the chance to grow into the strong, well-rounded managers that the company needs them to be.

The key here is for executives to imagine themselves as the generals in the mission command model and to shift away from details and toward intent. In the business world, a better term to choose might be vision. Embrace the fact that your job is now to guide the big picture and then enable, and, most importantly, trust your staff with the authority and responsibility to turn your vision into a reality.

I have to accept a less customer-facing role.

When I started Product2Market, I was involved in every single aspect of every single client relationship. Customer-focus was one of the ways we differentiated ourselves, and I always went out of my way to ensure that our clients knew that I, as the CEO, was both accessible to them and personally focused on their needs.

As we’ve grown, I’ve increasingly had to turn away from that customer-facing role and toward an organizational focus instead. At the size we’re currently at, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day for me to both immerse myself in the client-side of things and meet my responsibilities as the captain of the overall ship.

In another HBR study, Harvard researchers found that the average CEO spends just 3 percent of her time with customers. That’s shockingly low, and a mark I personally hope never to fall to, but it’s a clear demonstrator of how priorities have to shift away from constant customer contact as a business grows.

Related: 10 Books Every Leader Should Read to Be Successful

Failing to make this change is a big trap a lot of entrepreneurs fall into, probably second only to micromanagement. Most entrepreneurs thrive on the interpersonal side of things, and we all appreciate the importance of customer relationships, but misdirecting time and energy away from ensuring the entire machine is moving in the right direction is a sure-fire way to hamstring future success.

As different as entrepreneurs are as individuals, there are some qualities we all have in common. One is that we almost all dream of starting a company from scratch and nurturing that small seed of a startup into something big. Another is that we almost all face a certain level of difficulty letting go of the reigns once we start to realize that goal.

The most successful among us are the ones that make the transition from entrepreneur to executive seamlessly, allowing growth to continue unhindered and embracing their role as a shepherd rather than a sheepdog. Unfortunately, there are also many of us that can’t or won’t accept that transition, and those entrepreneurs almost always end up standing in the way of future growth rather than guiding it.

The key to avoiding that pitfall is to remember that even if your company started with you as the sole employee, as it grows bigger and bigger, it becomes bigger than you, too. It belongs as much to the employees — new and old — that operate it as it does to you. Fail to trust those people, and the company will slowly die. But, trust them with your baby, and enable them with responsibility, and they’ll almost always rise to the challenge, driving growth and helping you accomplish the dream you set out to achieve on day one.

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Routinely sleeping more than six to eight hours a night ups your risk of a cardiovascular problem or even death, says a new European study.

3 min read

Warning! Scuttle your plans to sleep in ’til noon Sunday! Forget today’s power nap! Cancel your membership to sleep cafes like Nap York!

The reason: Too much sleep could kill you, according to scientists.

A global study released by the European Heart Journal reports that sleeping more than the recommended six to eight hours a night increased subjects’ risk of stroke, heart failure and other cardiovascular problems, as well as death, by as much as 41 percent. The study attracted attention because of its scope: data came from 116,613 people, ages 35 to 70, from 21 countries. Over a period of 7.8 years, 4,381 deaths and 4,365 major cardiovascular events were reported.

Related: Why Entrepreneurs are Not Able to Sleep Well

The results, the researchers said, “showed [that] both shorter (less than 6 hours a day) and longer (more than 8 hours a day) estimated total sleep durations were associated with an increased risk of the composite outcome when adjusted for age and sex.”

If you fit into that category, don’t get in a total panic just yet. The researchers acknowledged that the study left unanswered questions such as whether subjects’ underlying conditions could be the reason they slept longer, and thus the reason behind that increased incidence of heart problems and even death. In addition, the sleep duration reports were self-reported and therefore possibly flawed.

And there was good news for those subjects who — like so many entrepreneurs — tended to undersleep. Naps can save your life! “A daytime nap seemed to compensate for the lack of sleep at night and to mitigate the risks,” research leader Chuangshi Wang told CNN.

Although the results “don’t prove cause and effect,” says Julie Ward, a cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, told CNN, the study will likely to lead to further research because, well, all of us sleep; and all of us are likely to worry when scientists warn that a little shut-eye could lead to prematurely permanent naps.

Then there’s the continuing concern over too little sleep: The Centers for Disease Control received extensive media attention for a report that said that sleeping less than seven hours a day was associated with an increased risk of developing chronic conditions like obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and frequent bouts of “mental distress.”

Related: The Billion-Dollar Reason You Should Get More Sleep

“Lifestyle changes such as going to bed at the same time each night; rising at the same time each morning; and turning off or removing televisions, computers, mobile devices from the bedroom, can help people get the healthy sleep they need,” Wayne Giles, M.D., director of CDC’s Division of Population Health, said at the time.

“As a nation, we are not getting enough sleep,” Giles also said — an observation that might elicit a friendly “Duh!” from most entrepreneurs. Just don’t get too much.

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Here are five things to consider when you set the price for your product.

6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Pricing your product is one of the most important decisions you’ll make when launching a business — yet it’s also one of the most neglected. All too often entrepreneurs spend hundreds of hours designing their products, and not enough on the nuts and bolts of the economics involved.

Related: 10 Psychological Tricks to Boost Your Website’s Sales

It may seem like a straightforward process, but the business impact is critical. Price affects everything in your business from profit margin to cash flow to hiring, so it’s vital to put in some serious thought. It may sound easier to slap on a number and fix it later, but shooting out of the gate with improper pricing can lead to poor margins, future challenges and even failure.

There’s no simple formula for getting it right, so be sure to review some proven pricing strategies to see what’s out there. Here are five things to consider when you set the price for your product.

1. Understand the value of your product.

The best way to learn the perceived value of your product is to do some market analysis, aka speak directly with customers via focus groups or online surveys. There are two different paths to take — and you’ll want to try both. The first is an aided question, something like: “What would you think if we charged X amount?” The second is an unaided question like: “What would you be willing to pay for this?” You can reconcile the two sets of answers to get closer to a target price.

Over time your customers will also speak with their wallets. Apple is a great example of this — its newest iPhone models incorporate popular features at a lower entry price point than the previous generation, yet the top-of-the-line models are more expensive than last year. Apple clearly believes, based on its data, that its customers will pay more for those innovations.

2. Research the competition.

Value isn’t the whole package. You also have to know what your competition is doing. After all, how much they charge can also impact your prices. So look at your competitors; what do they charge and how are their products different? Their prices can provide a baseline for how much you charge your customers. You might set your prices lower to try to attract some of their customers, or if you consider yourself a luxury brand, you might set your prices higher to signal elevated quality and status.

As you evaluate competitors, don’t forget to look at close substitutes. For example, if your company is Uber, Lyft is your competition, but the bus plays in as a close substitute — one that shouldn’t be overlooked when considering your price point.

Related: How to Choose a Pricing Strategy for Your SaaS Business

3. Determine your costs.

Before you price your product, you need to know how much you spend to create it. That means calculating every cost that goes into manufacturing or acquiring each item. If you purchase products and resell them, add up the costs of buying and shipping the items. If you make the products yourself, include creation costs like materials, development, manufacturing and overhead.

Once you know how much you spend on products, you have your break-even cost, or the minimum amount you must sell the products for to earn back the money you’ve invested in them.

4. Build a basic price model.

Before you set a price, it’s wise to put some basic numbers behind it so you can see how various factors contribute to your bottom line. A basic pricing model looks like this:

(Price – cost) x quantity = profit

So let’s say you want to sell custom hats. Your hats cost $10 to make, and you’re not sure whether to sell them for $15 or $20. Plug in the numbers for each option:

  • ($15 – $10) X Quantity (20) = 100
  • ($20 – $10) X Quantity (10) = 100

Looking at those two options, you’d have to sell twice as many of the $15 hats to achieve the same profit as the $20 hats. In other words, decreasing prices just 25 percent (from $20 to $15) means you’d need a 100 percent increase — or a doubling — of the number of hats you sell. That’s a big difference, even with our small sample quantities. Do you think you can sell that many? Is the effort involved worth it? Yes, you can charge a lower price to gain users, but then you trade profit and still have to attract more buyers.

Related: When the Customer Fixates on Price It’s Probably Not About the Money

5. Move to behavior numbers.

Finally, once you have a price range, use your intuition and move to “behavior numbers” like $99 or $10 to finalize pricing. That means pay attention to round numbers and not underestimating the left-digit effect: Consumers, who read from left to right, pay more attention to the first digit they see. When you see the first digit is a 1, then the overall price of the item seems much less than if the first digit were a 2, even if the price is only one penny or one dollar apart. The overall effect of rounding up to an even amount makes the item seem more expensive.

Economics and the power of price

Product pricing can make or break your small business. If you set prices higher than what customers are willing to spend, you’ll lose sales. But, if you set prices too low, you won’t earn at as much as you could. The right price point will fall somewhere in the middle to generate the most revenue — but finding the right balance is tough. It’s important not to price yourself into a corner. Flexibility is critical; otherwise you might find yourself at a competitive disadvantage and unable to react quickly. Putting it all together is an art form, but once you’ve done it well, you’ll have a masterpiece for your small business.

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When starting up as a new entrepreneur, the first thing to do is avoid making constant business blunders, no matter how insignificant they seem.

5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Most new entrepreneurs make terrible, dumb mistakes that crash their businesses before they can even get started.

They make these grave mistakes not because they are unintelligent, have low IQs or possess little experience. New entrepreneurs allow these blunders because they don’t see them as issues. Thus, they fail to invest their resources into fixing the problems until the problems bulldoze their companies.

Related: 10 Ways Leaders Fix Mistakes Without Making It Worse

Here are the top three dumb mistakes new entrepreneurs make, and a lasting solution to each oversight.

1. Superficiality

We live in a world of superficiality — shallowness, no attention to detail, not focusing on satisfying our customers.

In a world of 140 characters, many of us build products fast and hope for quick cash. The focus is more on “build and sell fast” than on quality and originality. Many entrepreneurs, especially the newbies, fall into this superficiality trap.

These would-be entrepreneurs refuse to sharpen their skills, ship broken products and provide terrible customer experience. That’s why many startups don’t see the light of day. What’s the solution?

Customer obsession. Your startup exists to serve your customers. Be obsessed with always pleasing them with your product.

Obsessive attention to detail. Before you build or ship any product, check every tiny detail with care. Don’t settle. Don’t let your team rest until you have completed the project to above-standard quality.

Constant learning. Knowledge is the antidote of superficiality. Keep learning, so you can satisfy your customers with unstoppable value and become the go-to person in your industry.

In the end, dumping the superficiality habit requires a change in mindset. You can get rid of it with constant practice and obsession with quality. That means focusing on getting good at one thing, before moving on to something else.

Let’s talk about that next.

Related: 3 Marketing Mistakes That Kill Tech Startups

2. Chasing two rabbits at a time

Amateur founders are quick to craft multiple ideas, bloating their online stores with a vast array of products and constantly rewriting their missions to accommodate their offerings. But, is that the brilliant idea they think it is? No, it’s not.

A friend of mine who is a freelance web designer recently told me that he had added copywriting on top of his web design services. “I want to increase my income, you know,” he excitedly told me.

I told him not to do that. I told him to focus instead on his design services so that he would become known as an expert in that category. But, he didn’t take my advice. The last time I checked, he had quit his freelancing career altogether.

Obviously, he was frustrated because he was chasing more than one rabbit at a time. As Confucius beautifully said, “Man who chases two rabbits catches neither.” Don’t offer two services or products at a time.

What you need as a new entrepreneur is credibility, not money. And the only way to establish yourself as credible is to focus on refining and improving your skill set, your product, and your offering. Only then can your customers regard you as the best provider of a particular product or service.

Related: This Is the Biggest Mistake Entrepreneurs Make in Their Finances

3. Ignoring “minor issues”

For new entrepreneurs, a comma splice in their home page copy is not something to worry about. “It’s just a minor issue,” they say. A broken link in their Facebook page is no big deal. “It’s just a minor thing,” they say. One negative customer review? Well, that’s just a “hot-tempered customer,” they say. “It’s just a minor thing.”

But is it? The reality is, these are not minor issues. These are big issues. Remember, all problems start small before they gradually metamorphose into big, uncontrollable setbacks.

That little comma splice on your homepage can lead to a tsunami of credibility issues. An error in spelling will then portray your brand as another fake company in the marketplace. Protect your brand. Don’t leave any tiny issue unresolved. Fix it — fast.

When starting up as a new entrepreneur, the first thing to do is avoid making constant business blunders, no matter how insignificant they seem.

Don’t be superficial in responding to your customers’ inquiries. Take your time to provide them with in-depth answers to their questions. Don’t chase too many opportunities, lest you fall into bloat and overload. Instead, focus on providing one product, and ensure that it stands out from the crowd.

Don’t ignore the small issues. They’ll grow into bigger problems. Nip them in the bud before they destroy your company. Everyone makes mistakes, even veteran entrepreneurs, but learning how to fix these three big blunders will save your little startup from crashing early.

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An authoritative new study finds that regardless of product category, brands with legitimate sustainability claims do better.

5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When we built the Barefoot Wine brand, we lived and died on the latest Nielsen ratings. So if you are in the packaged goods space, you want to pay careful attention to the latest Nielsen report “How and Why Sustainability is Gaining Momentum with Customers.

For the purposes of this report, Nielsen chose to study purchases of three of the most common fast-moving consumer goods, coffee, chocolate and bath products, because of their differences from each other. What they found was that products with sustainability claims generally outperformed the growth rate of total products in their respective categories.

For instance, based on sales for the 52-week period ending 3/24/2018, the weighted average of all three categories showed 3 percent more growth for sustainable products. Sustainable coffee 11 percent more, sustainable chocolate 2 percent more and sustainable bath products 13 percent more than the total of their respective categories.

Related: This Brooklyn Entrepreneur Was Shaken to Her Core by Nepal’s Devastating Earthquake and Did Something Incredible

In the case of coffee, brands advertising environmental sustainability can claim greater retail shelf placement because of increasing demand. Having built a retail brand ourselves, and having had to fight over precious shelf placement, we can attest that this is a very big deal. Better shelf placement generally means better sales.

According to the Nielsen report, “Brands that are able to strategically connect (sustainability) to actual behavior are in a good place to capitalize on increased consumer expectation and demand.” The report adds, that “Sustainability claims on packaging must also reflect how a company operates inside and out.”

In other words, customers want sustainable products from sustainable companies. This includes everything from labor practices to the environmental impact of their production. We caught up with Tim Grosse, who has written extensively on this subject and is the CEO and founder of E Squared Energy Advisors. He says, “This new consumer sustainability report from Nielson reinforces what we have been advocating for in terms of sustainable energy programs and technologies that reduce the planet’s carbon footprint.”

He further states, “This is official validation for how energy and sustainability work together to boost your top-line revenue growth and your profitability at the same time. Your business can ride this tsunami wave by gaining market share from the rapidly growing number of environmentally responsible consumers or your business can lag the market and peers by ignoring this trend.”

Related: 5 Reasons Why Sustainability and Social Issues Attract Customers

For years we have been saying consumers vote with their purchases. It’s nice to see the world’s most respected sales research and analytics company finally prove it and do so in terms that any company can understand, sales! With the rapid increase in climate-related news, damage and hazards to health, this new mega-trend can do nothing but accelerate.

The Fourth National Climate Assessment mandated by Congress a decade ago was just released. According to Tony Barboza of the Los Angeles Times, the report by 13 federal agencies found that climate change is now being felt in communities across the country. “It projects widespread and growing devastation as temperatures and sea levels rise with worsening wildfires and more intense storms bringing cascading harmful effects to our ecosystems infrastructure and society.” The report calls for immediate steps to reduce carbon emissions.

In other words, consumers are already being affected by the purchases they have made in the past. They know they must change their spending habits now for the sake of their own health and that of their children. Oh, and that millennial market that everyone has been trying to crack? Who has the most to lose? The millennials of course! They and the next generations behind them will live the longest in an increasingly compromised environment.

As the Nielson report concludes, “No matter what, sustainability is no longer a niche play: your bottom-line and brand growth depend on it.”

But as Grosse says, “Energy efficient alternatives, such as chiller and HVAC optimization, LED lighting retrofits, and solar energy are a huge piece of the sustainability puzzle. With the recent price shifts, these technologies are very economical as well. In fact, many solutions provide almost immediate positive cash flow while dramatically lowering a company’s carbon footprint.” He adds, “Companies that embrace new energy technologies enjoy a triple-bottom-line win in productivity, profits, and planet.”

Related: What Condoms Can Teach Us About Sustainability

So now, energy efficiency is not only desirable, it’s sustainable, and it’s doable!

The Nielson report says “Unmet consumer needs exist across many categories. Strategically aligning your business and marketing strategy to meet that unmet demand will ensure that the next big sustainability wave is a market win for your brand.”

It’s time to jump on the energy and sustainability bandwagon now … or miss the boat!

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Should you hire people into more junior roles than their last role? You can, but here are the potential pitfalls to consider.

6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Our brains have been wired to think about our careers going up the corporate ladder over time. A manager becomes a director, a director becomes a vice president, a vice president becomes a president, etc.

Obviously, there are a lot fewer job positions the further you go up the ladder. A typical company may have 125 managers, 25 directors, five vice presidents and one president. The odds of moving up the ladder aren’t really in your favor, with 80 percent fewer positions at each next level.

But, people need to make a living. What happens when an employee needs to go back down the ladder to find more open positions? Is that a good idea for you as a hiring manager to consider that candidate?

Let’s find out.

Does the candidate have the right skills?

Let’s talk about the sales department as an example. Most “upper ladder” sales managers have been “lower ladder” salespeople at some point in their past careers. It is highly likely and logical that a sales manager has the knowledge and skills required to succeed as a salesperson again but the job of a sales manager is completely different from a salesperson. The salesperson mantains client relationships and closes sales all day. A sales manager manages and mentors the salespersons all day to make sure they are hitting their agreed upon targets. Making that shift back down the ladder really means taking on a completely different job again. You just have to be sure that candidate truly has the appetite for that change.

Related: Why MOD Pizza Loves Hiring Ex-Cons

Is the candidate willing to do the job required?

Continuing this example, once a sales manager gets used to the tasks of being a sales manager (more in the office, less travel, less repetitive tasks, the prestige that comes with the role) it is, for many, really hard to get back into a quota-hitting sales producer role. But, that is a more of a general guidance. There are exceptions to that rule. Maybe a sales manager got promoted, then realized they don’t like managing people — they actually prefer the “thrill of the hunt.” It is really important you ask the right questions during the interview process to ensure that candidate will actually be happy doing the work required in that “lower ladder” position.  Understanding that many will say whatever is required to get the job, so buyer beware.

Does the candidate have the right compensation expectations?

In addition to the role changing, the compensation is typically lower at lower levels. So, let’s say that vice president was making $150,000 and now they are looking at a director level job that makes $80,000. Once a worker gets used to living off a higher salary, it is really hard for them to make ends meet on a much smaller compensation. The only times that works out is if the role is combined with material other incentives (like an aggressive commission plan or equity upside to make up the difference), or if they are further along in their career and, perhaps, are aware of their need to reset their target role and compensation expectation to have a better chance of getting employed.

Related: 3 Signs You Need to Take a Pay Cut

Should you be worried if someone is willing to take a pay cut?

My off-the-cuff answer is yes — someone willing to take a pay cut should certainly trigger a concern but it isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. If other incentives are in place, or there is a logical “story” with this candidate, you may be perfectly fine. Remember, what you gain with an “upper ladder” candidate is all that extra years of experience that comes with that. So, if you can get comfortable with the situation, it is like getting a Porsche for the price of a Toyota. But, buyer beware.

Is the candidate a flight risk just waiting for a better position?

Once somebody gets used to getting paid at a certain level, they are going to try to maintain or exceed those levels in future jobs. If they are taking a job with you at half the compensation, without a matching good “story” or incentives, that opens the door to those candidates continuing to look for new jobs, even after they have accepted yours.

Again, that is a general rule of thumb. That may not be the case in all scenarios, so do your due diligence and make a judgment call. For example, someone looking for their last job before they retire could be perfectly fine and worth the risk.

Related: This Is How to Boost Employee Retention With Lifelong Learning

Do they have the energy for job?

Generally, a person’s energy declines with their age. But, that is not always the case. I have worked with many people in their 60’s whose energy levels exceed that of people in their 20’s. Another way to think about this: older “upper ladder” employees are typically more efficient in how they work. They may lack with energy but offset that with efficiencies they have honed with their prior years of experience.

Can a candidate going down the ladder ever be a good hire?

My colleague Todd Zaugg, CEO at Matrix Achievement, told me “Our company has trained over 40,000 salespeople over the years. I have seen many situations where moving down the corporate ladder has resulted in success and many other situations where it has not. In our experience there is no direct correlation between the previous upper ladder experience and  sales success moving back down into lower ladder positions. It all comes down to the individual and do they or don’t have have the right skill sets, desire and incentives to be successful in that lower ladder role”.

A lot of things have to go right for someone going back down the ladder to result in a good outcome for your business. But, that does not mean you should close the door on that scenario in all cases. You need to assess each candidate on their own merits. What is their “story”? How do they answer your questions? Do you believe they can live on a smaller compensation and have the energy and appetite to be successful in that “lower ladder” job?

This situation is laden with potential pitfalls, but it most certainly can work out for the best. Do your homework!

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You are a smart, talented leader. Unleash your power.

6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Women, it’s time for us to suit up. We need to harness our unique feminine advantages as women to dominate in business. After years of trying to show we are equal to men, we have not made any progress. Why? Women have been playing by the wrong playbook — the male playbook. The rules of that playbook are rigged against us.

Related: How to Address Gender Inequity at Work

We need to start using our own playbook to change things. No more “learning in” or “outmanning the men” or “beating the men at their own game.” It’s time for women to capitalize on our unique advantages as women to succeed and lead in business.

Those unique feminine advantages have nothing to do with our sexuality. Rather, we have a weapon that is far more potent. Research has shown that emotional intelligence is key for being a successful business leader. Of the 12 competencies researchers have developed as key markers of the emotional intelligence required for leadership, women score higher than men in 11 out of the 12. And on the 12th we’re tied with men. We don’t just excel in the warm and fuzzy skills. We come out ahead of men in hard business skills traditionally associated with men like “driving for results” and “taking initiative.” It’s time for us to transform the gender rules by using these superior leadership skills to advance our careers.

Here’s how to move forward:

1. Suit up using your emotional intelligence.

Combining intelligence, empathy and emotions magnifies our capacity for analysis and our comprehension of interpersonal dynamics. We can use these superior leadership skills to read the emotions and motivations of the people we are dealing with, gauge the situation strategically, choose a nuanced course of action and take control.

Related: Shifting the Paradigm to Embrace Gender Differences

2. Stand up with confidence.

Confidence trumps competence every time. How many times in a meeting has a man, who clearly doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about, speak with the utmost certainty and end up drawing praise and respect from his audience? Why? Study after study shows that success in the business world requires more than competence. Our efforts to demonstrate that we deserve promotion, compensation and success based on merit are misguided because business is not a meritocracy. Confidence beats competence.

The good news is that confidence is a skill, and like any other skill, it can be acquired. Step one is to just do it. Act as if you exude self-confidence. Fake it until you become it. Walk the walk and talk the talk.

3. Shut up that internal critical voice.

Stop self-sabotage. Society has been drilling male supremacy into us since we were little girls, and we’ve internalized it and convinced ourselves to buy into the patriarchy by giving away our power. All too often, we are our own worst enemy. This internal voice sews seeds of self-doubt, fear of failure and the fear of being revealed as a fraud. Ruthlessly target those thoughts, consciously shut them down and replace them with self-affirmative, encouraging talk.

4. Speak up.

If you have an idea or disagree with what’s being said, speak up. Shut down mansplaining and manterrupting and stop allowing men to appropriate your ideas as their own. When you are speaking, do not yield, and call out any man who interrupts you. If necessary, bluntly say “Stop interrupting me and let me finish.”

When you talk, make sure to use empowering language that exudes confidence. Never apologize before you speak. The word “sorry” should be banished from your vocabulary. Similarly, never caveat what you are about to say with prefaces such as “I’m not sure but” or “I might be wrong but.” Use direct, forceful language.

Related: Powerful Women Don’t Need the Limelight to Be Influential. Here’s Why.

Male speech patterns are more assertive, direct and succinct. Women’s speech patterns are perceived as weak, unassertive, and tentative. Use short sentences. This makes it harder for people to interrupt you.

Remember that body language matters. Make your physical presence known: Lean forward at the table, point to the person you’ve chosen to acknowledge for a comment, put the flats of your hands on the table to make a point and look that person squarely in the eye or stand up and walk to the front of the room — whatever it takes.

5. Step up.

Opportunities are rarely handed to you on a plate. Remember that if you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it. How will you ever achieve your goals if you only perform those assignments you are handed? Ask for what you want — plum assignments, leadership roles, salary increases and promotions. Take risks and advocate for yourself. Take the hard job even if it’s a stretch for you. If you don’t, some man will. When you are assigned a major project, dive into it and take charge.

6. Show up.

Reaching a goal is usually a marathon, not a sprint. Demonstrate the tenacity to continuously prove yourself. Seize the next challenge and keep achieving. Push back against those who deny you what you need.

7. Smarten up.

Focus on earning respect, not popularity. As women, we tend to be people-pleasers and hyper-sensitive to nuance. The same emotional sensitivity that gives us our high emotional intelligence also make us wary about displeasing others, risk-averse and bad at dealing with negative feedback. Understand that success is not a popularity contest. Women have to learn to withstand disapproval and criticism and, when necessary, to take hard, contrary positions. The most likable people are not regarded as leaders. Instead, to achieve success be respected, decisive and inspiring.

Let’s get started. Women do not have to put up with male domination any longer. It’s time to stop surrendering control to the men around you, letting them order you around or allowing them to treat you with disrespect as if you are of a lower social status than they are. You are a smart, talented leader. Unleash your power.

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Deciding everything from which pay of socks to wear to which candidate to hire is cumulatively exhausting.

8 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Making decisions, even small, seemly harmless ones, can wear us down over time. Every day we must decide how to spend every waking minute — what we eat and wear, what we work on, what we do with our spare time. By bedtime, the average person has made 35,000 decisions. Every decision requires time and energy, and depletes our willpower.

This is called decision fatigue, and it’s different from physical fatigue. You’re not consciously aware of being tired, but you’re low on mental energy. The more choices you make throughout the day, the harder each one becomes for your brain, and eventually it looks for shortcuts. This may cause you to become reckless in your decision-making, acting impulsively instead of thinking things through. Or you may simply do nothing, which can create bigger problems in the long run.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can keep this from happening. Learn you how can combat decision fatigue, replenish your willpower and boost your productivity during a decision-heavy day with these nine simple steps.

1. Make fewer decisions.

The best way to reduce decision fatigue is to reduce the number of decisions you have to make in a given day. Look for ways to streamline your choices. Avoid random decision-making by using lists throughout your day. To-do lists keep us on track. Shopping lists help us avoid walking up and down grocery aisles trying to decide what to buy.

Plan your meals the night before, so you know what you’re having for breakfast, whether or not you’re going to pack a lunch and what you’ll make for dinner. Stop trying on 10 different outfits in the morning; pick out your clothes ahead of time. Find ways to automate certain decisions, such as signing up for automatic bill pay for the regular bills. Instead of thinking through which route to take when driving somewhere, use a GPS to help you navigate where you need to go.

Related: Your Clients Have Decision Fatigue, You Caused It and It’s Killing Sales

2. Delegate decisions.

You can delegate decisions the same way you delegate tasks. By giving responsibility for decision-making to other people, you reduce the number of decisions on your plate. Consider your responsibilities in your home life, work and elsewhere. Are there obligations you can delegate to someone else? This means you’ll need to stop micromanaging those around you and have confidence that others will do their part.

Managers can delegate some decisions to employees. Parents can delegate certain things to children. There are times when we can delegate to friends and family. This could be as simple as asking a friend to put together a playlist for a party or asking the person you’re meeting up with to pick the restaurant for dinner. When done right, delegating can empower people and show them that you trust them.

3. Have a process for making decisions.

When you have to make difficult or important decisions and you have several options to weigh, use a decision matrix to help you make the best determination. A decision matrix helps you analyze your choices by listing the options and the factors you need to consider and then scoring it by the importance of each factor you are weighing. This may sound complicated, but once you get the hang of it, a decision matrix can be extremely helpful.

A decision matrix can clear up confusion and remove emotion when you’re faced with multiple choices and countless variables. Unlike a simple list of pros and cons, a decision matrix allows you to place importance on each factor. Here’s one great example of a decision matrix template you can use.

4. Make big decisions in the morning.

Researchers have found that time of day impacts our judgment and our ability to make the best decisions. It might seem to make sense that morning people make their best decisions in the morning and night owls make their best decisions at night, but researchers have found this just isn’t so. For most of us, the best time of day is in the morning — that’s when we make accurate and thoughtful decisions. By afternoon, most people hit a plateau, and in the evening, we start making riskier snap decisions.

According to the study, people tend to change their decision-making policies throughout the day. In the morning, they tend to be more cautious and meticulous in their choices. But as the day wears on and decision fatigue sets in, they start making riskier decisions. So if you have a have a big decision that requires careful consideration, aim to make it in the morning.

Related: This Entrepreneur Shares Her Surprising Secret to Fighting Decision Fatigue

5. Limit your options.

Having too many choices will stress you out. You become mired in your decision-making and start second-guessing yourself. This often happens when we’re making purchases and are faced with endless options and alternatives. Our decision fatigue is heightened by our desire to “shop around” and get the best deal. It all takes up so much energy and overloads the brain.

Try paring down your options, so you have a limited number of choices. Often, the benefit of spending a great deal of time investigating a wide range of choices is negligible — you might save a few dollars, but you’ll end up feeling anxious and overwhelmed. Instead, pick two or three to compare and don’t spend too much time wading through the pros and cons. Make a decision and stick to it.

6. Set deadlines to space out decisions.

Decision fatigue can often occur toward the end of a long, complex project that you’ve been working on over weeks, months or years. As the end of the project looms, there may be many last-minute decisions to make, which you’ve been putting off until now. This is when people start making snap decisions and bad choices because the length and intensity of the project have worn them down.

The solution is to create micro-deadlines that force you to act early and not keep pondering your choices. Don’t set yourself up to make critical decisions at the eleventh hour. Space out these decisions so you’re truly using your best judgment.

7. Simplify your life.

Constantly needing to make decisions can leave you feeling depleted and eat away at your willpower. That’s why, after a busy, exhausting day, we’re tempted to eat junk food, skip our workout and veg out on the couch. Making healthy choices just seems beyond our self-control. If this is you, it’s time to scale back. Find ways to simplify your life. Cut out things that aren’t important.

Hobbies, activities and volunteering are all great and wonderful things to do, but if you’ve reached the point where you’re overwhelmed, it’s time to drop the excess commitments in your life. Having fewer tasks and activities will lead to fewer decisions and will help you feel restored and in control of the choices you do make.

Related: Why You Should Limit Your Number of Daily Decisions

8. Stop second-guessing yourself.

We often get trapped in the mindset that everything we do needs to be perfect, and this puts a lot of pressure on us to make the “right” choice, because a “wrong” choice could somehow ruin something. The truth is, this is rarely the case. Still, we regret our choices and wallow in uncertainty over the selection we made. It’s time to let go and move on.

Stop second-guessing yourself. Stop going back and pondering your choices to see if you like something else better — that will only make you regret all the time you’ve wasted. And most likely, the choice you made to begin with, the path you picked or the selection you opted for, is just as good as any other option out there. Now you need to focus on making it great.

9. Develop daily routines that put less-important tasks on autopilot.

Establish daily routines that minimize and simplify your choices. By having firm habits and a strict routine, you put certain decisions on autopilot. Set a wake-up time and stick with it. Instead of debating whether you should work out or not, have a routine that establishes what days and at what time you exercise.

Eat a variation of the same healthy breakfast every morning. Pack a simple lunch every day. Instead of agonizing over what to wear every morning, have established outfits that you rotate each week. Many successful people have a handful of go-to outfits. President Barack Obama talked about wearing only gray or blue suits while in office so he didn’t have to give too much thought to what he would wear.

Steve Jobs was known for his black turtlenecks and jeans, and Mark Zuckerberg sports his iconic gray Brunello Cucinelli T-shirt. Whatever your preferences, make it a routine. Doing all this will help you waste less time and create consistency in your life so you know exactly what comes next without a lot of thought. It will also help you conserve your willpower and give you self-control.

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