Lagging Behind? Here’s How To Bring Your Business Into The 21st Century

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Let’s be honest, business now is a lot different to how it was a few decades ago. Technology has taken the world – and businesses – by storm, and there are many pressing issues now that simply weren’t discussed previously. But how do you say goodbye to the ghosts of business past, and embrace a new way of working that is more in line with 21st century ideals?

There are plenty of ways to do so, whether you’re a small business owner or you’ve climbed the ladder into large business leadership. But what are they, and how do you do it?

Embrace intersectionality

In the modern world, intersectionality is everything. For too long, the office has been the stomping ground of the rich white man, and many women and minority groups are fighting back and making their claims to the roles that they deserve. Sure, there is still a lot of work to be done, but hiring people based upon their merits – rather than archaic ideas – will be what helps your business to move forward.

Remove the hierarchy

Millennials in business have a different approach to leadership now, and it’s one that seems to be working pretty well. Instead of having a rigid hierarchy, many startups that put everybody on an equal footing are coming together, so that ideas can be shared and utilized more efficiently. Needless to say, this works a lot better than one person making all of the decisions, so spread the authority a little!

Use social media well

Social media is one of those things that almost everybody uses on a day-to-day basis. If you want to be able to stay in the game as a business, then you need to use social media wisely (and well). If you can pull this off, then it will really help to cement your reputation as a serious, modern business. Why, you ask? Because many people’s first port of call will be your Facebook and Instagram pages.

Break conventions

Business in the 21st century is all about breaking conventions. People are really pushing the boundaries in many fields, and seeing what actually works instead of toeing the same old line. Don’t be afraid to try out something new, and to revolutionize the way that your business functions. Whether it’s going to a marijuana business conference or shaking up leadership, you’ll see a difference.

Allow working from home

Although we’ve been stuck in those inflexible working patterns for the past few decades, working from home is now seen as one of the best ways to improve the happiness and productivity of your team. Allow them to stay at home for a day or two a week, and you’ll immediately see the difference in your office vibe. This is a huge trust exercise, but it almost always pays off in the end.

So, if you want to bring your old-fashioned business into the modern day, then try to implement some of these ideas in your office. Good luck, and have fun embracing the 21st century!

Saving The Planet- It’s Our Responsibility as Millennials

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As millennials, unfortunately the earth we inherited hasn’t been left to us in the best shape. A hole in the ozone layer, deforestation, acid rain, hundreds of thousands of animal species extinct and entire ‘islands’ of plastic washing up in the ocean highlight just some of the issues. While much of this was down to greed and irresponsibility, a lot of it also came about due to lack of understanding and education- now we know more it’s up to us to put this into practice. It really is our responsibility as millennials- now we know what the issues are (and how to halt/ reverse them) to do what we can to help the planet. Thankfully, there are lots of things that each of us can do that take very little effort but add up in a big way. Here are some ideas.

Use less water

Water is one of our most valuable resources. Diamonds and precious metals like gold are worthless in comparison, we absolutely need water to be able to survive as a species. The problem is that most of us waste too much of it, and the cleaning process is damaging as it uses fossil fuels. Start getting showers instead of baths, turn off the tap when you’re brushing your teeth and stop using tap water on your garden! Get yourself a rainwater tank from a company like National Poly Industries, let it fill and use this on your lawn and plants during dry spells.

Reduce your plastic waste

Plastic is causing massive, massive damage to the environment. It’s reached the stage now where it’s entering the human food chain, having devastating impacts that we can’t even truly predict right now. It’s difficult to be perfect when it comes to plastic as so many of the products we need are packaged in the wasteful, single use stuff but do what you can. Switch to a milk delivery service that uses (and reuses) glass bottles. Stop buying single use products like pens, razors and ink cartridges. Make sure any plastic you do use is being recycled correctly, recycling isn’t the answer unfortunately although it’s definitely better than nothing. As time goes on, we can expect companies to be producing less single use plastic and more eco friendly options which does make our lives easier as consumers.

Keep food waste down

Most of us as kids probably heard ‘eat your dinner, there are children in the world starving’ at one time or another. While the sentiment might be there (and reducing food waste is crucial) we all know the thinking behind this isn’t quite right. The reason we need to reduce food waste is twofold. First, the resources use to create food damage the environment. Plants and animals need water, and animals also need food which takes time and space to grow. Farm machinery such as ploughs and other harvesting devices all produce their own emissions and pollution. Disposing of food waste is also damaging, and filling up landfill and incinerators to get rid of it also has detrimental effects on the environment. Get organized so you’re only buying what you need. Get into the habit of freezing or preserving food before it goes off, and anything that does spoil, put into your own personal compost heap in your garden.

3 Tips for Millennials Who Want to Become Entrepreneurs

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Millennials get a bad rap for a number of reasons, some of them justified, others less so.

Among some of the less flattering stereotypes of millennials that exist out there, is the idea that they are entitled, undisciplined, and lack the ambition required to achieve great things in business.

Of course, there’s no reason why millennials can’t become successful entrepreneurs – and, in fact, many are spearheading the charge into the new and exciting world of web-based, location-independent work.

All the same, there are various tips that might be useful for millennials who want to become entrepreneurs, without living out some of the worst stereotypes of their generation.

Here are a few of those tips.

Aim to work smart and hard, in a balanced way – not just to work smart

One trend that commonly repeats on millennial-centered blogs and websites, regarding entrepreneurial work, is the desire to find ways to “work smart” instead of just “working hard.”

This desire to find efficient ways to get more done, in less time, with less effort, is often quite closely connected to the desire to travel the world while working remotely, and living a life of adventure. It’s in stark contradiction to the old idea of an entrepreneur as someone in a suit who never leaves the office, and who doesn’t have a personal life.

Of course, balance is important. Doing nothing but work is not likely to be fulfilling for many people, on a deeper level.

And, it’s also true that finding ways to “work smart” is important in order to maintain peak efficiency, and allow for proper work-life balance.

Don’t, however, fall into the trap of aiming to work “smart” and not work “hard” at all. Instead, aim to work smart and hard, while maintaining balance.

All entrepreneurs have to work hard if they want to be successful. If you don’t, be sure that your competitors will, anyway.

Get the basic infrastructure in place, get started as soon as you can, and stick with it

 

 

Often, people are daunted by the idea of setting out on an entrepreneurial path, and are good at procrastinating, making excuses, and drawing the process out forever.

If you actually want to become a successful entrepreneur, though, it’s important to get started as soon as you can, and to dedicate yourself to a process of iterative improvement, done consistently, over the mid and long-term.

If your business needs ATM equipment, buy it. But then, get started, and iron out the kinks as you go along.

Action builds momentum, and provides plenty of learning opportunities. And action combined with endurance can go a long way.

Become your own manager – get used to holding yourself to a schedule and routine

 

 

Associated with the general stereotype that millennials don’t like being constrained in their professional lives, is the idea that being an entrepreneur allows you to be completely intuitive and spontaneous with how you structure your time.

Realistically, though, it’s important for you to view the entrepreneur’s life as an injunction to become your own manager, and to hold yourself to a schedule and routine, and not as an excuse to do what you want, when you want.

It’s always much easier to actually achieve things when you have some order in your life.

 

 

5 Modern Networking Tools For Millennials to Get Ahead

As a millennial, take advantage of the fact that you love trying out new methods, apps, and technologies for just about everything, especially for your career and professional life. Let’s face it, we spend a majority of our lives working, so we might as well utilize new technologies that let us work in creative ways and make our professional lives simpler.

Networking is a great opportunity to use new technology that will help you connect with professionals easier and stand out against the stack of resumes they’re digging through. The goal of networking is to connect with others, offer value, and see if you can create a win-win situation with your potential business partner. This will always be the goal no matter what happens with technology.

What we care about is HOW to connect with colleagues in a modern, unique, fun, but still professional way. Here are 5 underutilized tools to make you stand out as a young professional and network effectively.

1. Instagram

I already know what you’re thinking… “Instagram? You mean just try to get followers or follow professionals?”… Not exactly.

As of right now, you can direct message any person on Instagram without having to follow or send a request ahead of time. Reaching out to someone you want to build a relationship with on Instagram direct messaging shows them that you are up to date with modern technologies and different. A nice little personalized message to get your foot in the door would more likely get noticed than another email in a sea of unopened emails.

Here are some more tips for how to network with Instagram from Gary Vaynerchuk, an industry leader in digital and social media marketing.

2. Linkedin

I’m sure you already know the importance of Linkedin. Build an amazing profile, show off your talents, experience, and credentials, and then build your network. Linkedin is essentially today’s version of a resume, and it’s much easier to point to your Linkedin page instead of having to tailor a bunch of different resumes for different people with different needs.

Start connecting with people in your industry on Linkedin to learn more about their work, interests, and educational history. That way, when you reach out to message them, you have plenty of talking points from their profile.

3. Shapr

Shapr is the Tinder of networking. Yes, you heard me right. Shapr connects you with professionals in your area based on location, common interests, and fields of work. Check out their profile and swipe right to “meet” the person or left to pass. If you both swipe right, you can start a conversation right in the app.

It’s really easy to sign up because you can link your account to your Linkedin profile. Once the account is linked, just add a short bio and choose a few interests, skills, and industry keywords to find relevant matches looking for you!

4. Email Hunter/GMass

Even if a lot of professional people’s inboxes get loaded with messages, networking through email can still be effective. Now that Gmail categorizes our mail with spam, promotions, and social, there’s a lot more room in the inbox for your message to at least be seen. And almost everyone checks their email daily.

Use GMass and Email Hunter chrome extensions to dominate and automate the email process. Email Hunter is a nifty little tool that scrubs someone’s website for an email address, and shows you the sources where they found the email address. The best strategy is to use the extension on your future partner’s Linkedin page.

Then once you have a nice list of email addresses to reach out to, use GMass to schedule and mail merge emails that will get their attention.

You can effortlessly integrate GMass with Gmail, Google sheets, docs and Google Drive. Set up emails as either a brand new email or as a reply to a previous thread, and draft up to 8 automatic follow-ups that you can set and forget. It is an incredible tool that can save you time, energy, and stress!

5. Vistaprint

No matter how advanced we get with networking technologies, nothing will ever beat the personal touch of strong eye contact and a firm handshake. You should always be planning to go to networking events, even if you are still new in your field.

Vistaprint is a great place to make clean, well-designed and professional-looking business cards. They have plenty of templates and designs to choose from, or you can start with your logo, upload a design for them to print, or let their designers take over for you. In addition to business cards, you can also get marketing materials like flyers, brochures, and door hangers, or larger signs like banners, yard signs, and posters. It’s definitely the one stop shop for putting your designs on paper.

Be Above the Herd

With so much competition for people’s attention in today’s world, it’s important that you are staying ahead of the pack to stand out and be noticed. These tools are a great for building your professional network, finding a new job, or getting your first client.

What are some of your favorite online tools that make your life easier in all areas?

Drew Klebine: Content Marketer, Tech Writer, Philosopher, Musician

Drew Klebine is a Content Marketer, Tech Writer, Philosopher, and Musician from Pittsburgh, PA. His writings focus on modern marketing practices, software reviews, upcoming technologies, brand and product promotion, health, self-actualization, religion, and existential philosophy.

Lead writer and co-owner of uxax.org, writer and marketer for Inspectlet, InMotion, and HER Realtors.

3 Signs It’s Time To Quit Your Job

In today’s job market securing a position before leaving is crucial and job-hopping is the new norm.

But how do you know it’s time to start looking elsewhere when the grass isn’t always greener on the other side?

Financial need should be one of the main criteria, but logic aside, here are some telltale signs the end is near:

1. You Dread Going To Work

Emotions are like the check engine light on your car dashboard. They indicate when something is wrong. For some lack of alignment with the vision of the company can be the deal breaker, while passion is the widely used qualitative measurement (on a scale of 1 – 10 how much do you love the company you work for?) As I wrote in an earlier post, you either drink the Kool-Aid or you don’t. If you score a 6 or below it may be a matter of when, not if you leave.

2. You Don’t Feel Valued

Value comes in different forms: respect, appreciation, compensation, etc. Being fairly paid is self-explanatory (and normally tied to your self-worth), but the “feeling” is tied to your direct manager. People leave managers, not companies. True story.

You may interact with your co-workers more frequently, but how you are treated by your boss is the thermometer. Feeling respected is being heard. Don’t expect all your ideas to be implemented, but if they’re all discarded you simply stop caring. Using the car analogy, value is the emotional fuel you run on at work.

When full, it’s easy to brush off apparent challenges.

When running on empty, minor offenses can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Value determines longevity.

3. No Growth Opportunities 

Professional development ranked higher than pay for Millennials in job surveys. That’s because the corporate ladder has been turned sideways where lateral movement to another company can be more attractive than promotion.

Culture is the driver for individual growth. Using Zappos as an example, it’s the core values that shape behaviors, not mission statements. Investment in employees can be risky because they can leave, but without it you have little chance of people staying past a year. Smart companies use both internal and external resources to champion this cause. If Human Resources is overloaded, hiring an outside trainer or consultant who specializes in learning and development can be the better route. Establishing a connection then challenging comfort zones is the intersection of growth.

Moving on has more to do with how you feel treated than it does anything rational. Life is too short to settle for mediocrity. If you care about making an impact you’ll look outside your current organization for more attractive options. Remember, the best candidates are employed and there’s never anything wrong with looking for something better.

Why Kool Aid Determines Your Career Path

Your career situation lies on one question: do you drink the Kool Aid or not?

kool_aid_man_wavingThere are two groups of people at every company: those who drink the Kool and those who don’t.

Translation: you’re either “sold out” (all-in) or not.

There are exceptions; those who may not fully engage in the vision, but are satisfied enough to take the good with the bad. To me, that sounds like complacency, but to everyone their own.

In order to stay at a company for a long period of time you have to believe in the mission. Purpose is still a magnetic trait that companies have. If you don’t bleed for what a company stands for it’s not a matter of if, but when you exit.

For those who reject the Kool Aid, it’s revealed in the language they use.

Mainly “I” vs. “We.” Subtle, but very powerful.

“I” statements separate from the greater whole, while “we” statements identify with the organization.

It’s not as simple as making a language change…

The determining factor is how much you buy-in. That doesn’t mean you agree with every detail or decision made, but you’re willing to associate with the team more than your opinion.

Some say entrepreneurs escape Corporate America for freedom, but most do it for a dream.

Business comes down to two types of dreams: yours and others.

Owning a business supports yours and working for a company supports theirs.

Your job is to choose whose dream you’re on board with.

Millennials in particular live for making a greater impact. Job hopping is as much about identifying with a greater mission as it is about getting bored. Adding value is as much feeling valued as it is contributing to it.

In your current role, you will eventually have to make the same decision sooner or later: do you drink the Kool Aid or not?

It may not be as simple as “yes” and “no” when it becomes part of your financial livelihood, but the bigger question is how long can you deny it?

Life is too short to support a dream you’re not in agreement with. Social impact draws new followers daily because of alignment of personal and corporate values.

If a company has a high turnover rate it’s probably a Kool Aid issue.

So in your current position do you drink the Kool Aid or not?

The answer to that question shapes your career path.

Keeping Your Millennial Workforce Happy

Guest post by Faith MacAnas

hi-five

One of the key features of the millennial generation is their focus on job satisfaction and life fulfillment is a lot higher than their predecessors. Happier employees have a better and higher quality output; this has made the necessity for employee satisfaction strategies more important than ever. These following examples are just a few areas where adjustments can be made that will motivate your millennial workforce and optimize your business.

• Flexibility

For the first time, young workers are prioritizing their work-life balance over their paycheck. They want to be able to travel, balance their family and social life or pick up side projects. While full remote working conditions are inadvisable, providing some level of flexibility is a great tactic. This offer could come in the form of career breaks or simply the opportunity to work alternate hours from home on occasion.

student-with-mentor-on-computer

    Crisp Technology

Millennials have grown up at the forefront of technology; they have always had the latest editions and expect their technology to be in good working order. Companies that can’t afford the latest pieces now allow staff members to work on their own devices. While this can save money, it does also require ensuring the security of confidential company data on machines that will leave the office. You can guarantee protection by investing in a company-wide Virtual Private Network program for all staff members to use or by creating an internal system where work can be shared exclusively.

    Career Paths

Today’s young workers live in a shaky economy, and they know it. While they worry about the promise of work, they also will quickly jump ship if their jobs don’t appear to provide them with the opportunity to progress. Give your millennial workforce a voice; allow them input into innovation ideas and company policy. Ensure feedback channels are open, and offer opportunities for training courses or department transfers. Show that you are willing to invest in them, and they are much more likely to invest in you and your company.

woman-holding-money

    Cash Incentives

If all else fails, then there’s one language everyone speaks: cash. Nothing gets motivation going like the promise of a bonus, and there are none who don’t relish the opportunity to make more money. However, there are both pros and cons to this strategy. If, for example, you set a goal for workers to achieve to secure the bonus, and they do not succeed, it’s possible to disenfranchise them further. It’s wise to set goals that are both realistic and progressive.

Millenials are some of most forward-thinking workers around today. They naturally possess crucial knowledge and hold to the key to the future. If you haven’t already implemented strategies to ensure you keep them motivated and dedicated, then now is the time to start doing so!

About the Author: Faith is a blogger and marketing and strategy expert. She specializes in internet security. She enjoys sharing what she’s learned with other business owners online.

Why Work Life Balance Is A Unicorn

unicorn

Work Life Balance is extinct.

Compartmentalization is so last year.

The concept used to be a Venn Diagram with the left circle representing your professional life, the right circle your personal life and the overlap the “balance.”

Now your life is just one big circle, a.k.a. Work Life Integration.

If you’re unhappy at work, you’re unhappy in life (and vice versa).

That doesn’t necessarily mean follow your passion (although nothing’s wrong with it). It means focus on your desired lifestyle and find a career to support it.

Job turnover isn’t just a Millennial thing. It’s reality moving forward.

Admit it. You’re most likely not going to work your current job for the rest of your lifetime (the benefits aren’t that great right?), so job-hopping becomes the norm.

Blame it on the following reasons: Boredom. Multi-Passionate. Uncertainty.

But the biggest reason: Life Stage.

If someone asks me how I feel about entrepreneurship now vs. when I started (almost 10 years ago) my response is: I’m married and have 2 kids.

It doesn’t mean I don’t love being my own boss anymore. It means my family is more important.

So using the lifestyle analogy, I’ll stick with being an entrepreneur as long as it supports me financially enough to control how much time I spend with my family.

Your career (and life too) goes through seasons of change.

Balance isn’t achieved by being proactive.

The tension between battling priorities in your life sharpens your choices.

Choose what’s most important to you based on the most valuable currency: time.

That’s no myth.

The Darkside Of Tech: Why You Should Be A Softie

soft skills

Technology has not only changed the way we live, but also marginalized our skill set.

If you’re older than a Millennial, you’ll remember taking speech in school.

Although a dreaded class, it teaches one of the most crucial skills to succeed in your career: communication.

Ironically in a tech-dominated economy, want to know what employers are looking for more of?

Soft skills.

In fact, this Wall Street Journal article states it’s what’s being searched for on LinkedIn Profiles everywhere.

Schools like General Assembly have wisely capitalized on teaching skills that are actually marketable.

The problem is unless you plan on working in a silo, you need to talk to people. Albeit a stereotype, most engineers can’t communicate better than the average rock. As brilliant as your tech skills may be, there still needs to be conversation taking place within the chain of command (even in a flat organization).

This is great news to people like me, who don’t have the patience or the desire to learn how to code. True, I’ll probably never make as much money as techies, but I can add value in other ways.

Like our economy, shifts in skills that are valued over time fluctuate. When the recession hit in 2008, services like training were stripped because they were deemed as a “luxury.” Guess what? Today, on-boarding, career development and soft skills workshops are rampant.

Why? Because when there is an over-saturation of a particular skill set, it’s what’s different and needed that becomes more valuable.

In an on-demand, instant gratification, push-button world, orators still rule. If you’re lacking in that area start networking, do more public speaking or join toastmasters.

Technology is wonderful. I couldn’t live without it.

But scarcity breeds value. Every tech star out there needs a partner to compliment him/her.

That’s why you should be a softie.

The Unemployed Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur_Shirt

Want to know the real motivation behind current entrepreneurs?

Being broke.

As a business owner each day you wake up needing to sell.

You either make money that day or you don’t.

Nothing is given to you. You have to fight for everything a.k.a. the daily grind.

Signing up as an entrepreneur basically makes you a sales person. Even though you’re the boss, you’re 100% responsible for selling. It’s tough work, not for the faint at heart. In fact, you become so accustomed to rejection you think you’re dating her.

But chasing your dreams does have a tremendous upside. Complete freedom is one of the best feelings you can experience and once you’ve been the boss, it’s tremendously hard to go back to working for someone else. In the right situation it’s possible, but chances are while you’re working, you’re strategizing how you can improve the process on your own.

The reason entrepreneurship is down with Millennials is because it’s too big of a risk. Chasing your dreams doesn’t pay well. If you like supplemental income for travel, dining out and adventures put that on hold. Considering starting a family? One of you better have a stable job with benefits or suffer a drop in quality of lifestyle.

Possibly a larger factor than a big, scalable idea is timing. Forget age, what life stage are you in: single and career driven or in a relationship and starting a family? The answer to that question will give you clarity on whether or not to pursue your dreams. Starting a business takes more of an investment in time than money, so your current level of responsibility will give you clarity on pulling the trigger.

Take it from someone whose priorities changed drastically over the past several years. What was a good decision before, isn’t the best decision now. Pride aside, your life goals change which calls for a life pivot.

Entrepreneurship can be for everyone, but think about the lifestyle you want to maintain and decide from there.