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How to Hire Better Employees in Less Time for a Fraction of the Cost

Quick Bit: Hiring great employees usually takes a long time. And time is money.
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great employees takes a long time. In fact, it takes 36 days on average to hire any employee. And time is money.

Each day, each call, each email correspondence is another day without an active employee generating a return for your .

And each day spent with back and forth conversations pulls you away from daily tasks that your business needs to thrive.

Here’s how you can hire better employees in less time for a fraction of the cost in three simple steps.

1. Specific job boards

My main company has 12 employees including myself and my co-founder. Our software company has half a dozen more.

We’ve hired and fired countless people over the last few years, making every mistake in the book.

One of the biggest keys to finding better employees is starting with a better job board.

Places like Indeed or cast a wide net, which means more time sifting through thousands of irrelevant or low-quality submissions.

Indeed alone has 250 million unique visits monthly, making it a very large and saturated marketplace.

Use these as a last resort. Instead, focus on job boards that are specific to your niche to attract very high quality candidates.

Need a growth marketer? Utilize places like MarketerHire, ProBlogger and more. They are designed specifically for a given niche and can help you narrow down your efforts to more targeted groups of people.

Some platforms will even act as a recruiter on your behalf (free of charge) to match you with potentially effective candidates.

Do a simple Google search for “[niche] job board.”

Start there. They are often cheaper to list and generate much more targeted submissions than broad marketplaces.

Related: If You’re Not Hiring Ahead, You’ve Already Fallen Behind

2. Automated filtering

Job boards will generate tons of submissions, which can be both good and bad.

Good because your candidate pool contains a diverse mix of incredible people itching to work with you.

Bad because 42% of the candidates simply aren’t qualified, and spending your time reviewing them is costing you thousands of dollars, if not more.

To combat this, a great solution is using automated filters to narrow down your total submission pool, saving you both time and money.

Using tools like Zapier, Gravity Forms or any of the like, you can filter the responses you get by various triggers.

For example, we set automations that disqualify any candidates who don’t follow all instructions, like uploading a PDF of their resume or including a LinkedIn profile URL.

Why? If people won’t take 20 seconds to upload a PDF or paste their LinkedIn profile, they won’t follow detailed processes on the job.

These leading indicators are great predictors of attention to detail and true interest in working at your company.

Automations can help you filter these candidates and save thousands of hours and dollars reviewing.

They are highly customizable and can be tailored to any niche need you might have. Use them at the forefront of your job-candidate collection process as an initial filter. This ensures you are not reading resumes or cover letters that don’t align with your minimum qualifications.

Related: How to Hire Like a Pro

3. Paid test projects

How many interviews and calls do you have before a candidate is hired? Two? Three? Five? The average is three, with each interview taking 30-90 minutes. And on average, interviewers speak to around 10 candidates. This time and money add up fast, especially if you are a lean startup looking to expand fast.

That’s where paid test projects start to shine.

They benefit you by saving manual labor time and seeing the exact work someone will be able to produce before you onboard him or her and spend countless more dollars.

Paid test projects give you direct insights into how potential employees work both in their style and delivery.

Not only does it benefit you, but it also benefits the future employee.

He or she gets to see if his or her potential job is a good long-term fit and if he or she enjoys the work.

If the employee does, your hiring process is virtually seamless, and you can better understand the projects he or she might enjoy further down the road.

So, how do you structure these paid test projects, and how much do you pay?

As a general guideline, we don’t like to give overwhelming projects, and we don’t like free test projects. Respecting your candidate’s time is critical to building a healthy relationship from the start.

Test projects should take no more than three to four hours to complete on average.

When paying candidates, simply take the general or hourly rate average and utilize that, benchmarked against the total maximum time for the project.

With your test projects, don’t look for perfectly pristine finished products. Look for people with a learning mindset and the drive to solve difficult problems. This isn’t a test, but rather a way to understand if the candidate has the drive, passion and willingness to learn and problem solve on the fly.

Cut down your phone calls.
Cut down your manual reviews.
Cut down your time, labor and inputs.

Focus on specific job boards, and paid test projects. You’ll hire people in a fraction of the time that are a better fit.

Related: 4 Reasons Employees Need to Be Involved in Your Hiring Process

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Top 10 Hiring Platforms for Small Business

Quick Bit: Hiring new employees is an exciting opportunity to bring fresh ideas and valuable experience to a growing small business-and leveraging hiring platforms can make it easier.

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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.

Finding and the people that your business depends on is no trivial task. Whether you’re hiring for a standard role, a specialist, or a contract position, quickly closing on a top-tier candidate is essential. Small businesses with limited resources need to find efficiencies wherever possible. When it comes to bringing on new talent, hiring platforms can help you make better hiring decisions and close hires fast.

Not only are hiring platforms an incredible tool for increasing visibility and ensuring you find the right candidate for your goals and culture, but they also create a seamless hiring process that is apparent to applicants. Delivering a stellar candidate experience leaves a positive, lasting impression on job seekers, and hiring platforms can keep your scaling business organized while saving you money.

Here are 10 hiring platforms that can create a competitive advantage for finding the best talent for your small business.

ZipRecruiter–Best Overall Package for Small Businesses

ZipRecruiter simplifies finding top-tier talent for small businesses. Job posting templates allow you to post your first listing to more than 100 job sites for free in minutes. Once your post is live, ZipRecruiter‘s powerful matching technology searches through thousands of resumes, locates the best candidates for your role and invites them to apply–which means more quality hires and reduced hiring times. With more than 25 million job seekers visiting ZipRecruiter each month, there is a network of full-time, remote freelancers and contractors that are ready to make a positive impact on your small business.

Jobvite

You can help streamline your hiring process with Jobvite. This end-to-end talent acquisition site helps small businesses attract, engage, recruit, and hire all on one platform. Screen and rank candidates automatically and forecast time-to-fill with referral capabilities coupled with candidate matching. Jobvite‘s branded career pages let you create a strong employer brand that produces a seamless candidate experience.

Indeed

This comprehensive search engine for jobs allows small businesses to identify top candidates fast. With an option for paid sponsored job listings, Indeed gives you flexibility and control over your campaigns. You can adjust your budget at any time or pause or delete a posting. No commitments or long-term fees, so you’ll only pay when Indeed works for you.

LinkedIn Talent Solutions

Job seekers are already on LinkedIn for its professional networking platform. They also use the site to search for jobs and share that they’re looking for a new one. When you post a new job, LinkedIn uses data and insights to find candidates that match the job criteria and makes it easier for that person to apply. Their desktop and mobile dashboard let you review and prioritize candidates.

SmartRecruiters

Gain exposure on multiple job sites with SmartRecruiters‘ intuitive candidate management tool. This cost-effective talent acquisition suite lets companies to attract, select and hire candidates all on one cloud-based platform. Recruiters can effortlessly personalize messages to applicants and engage with passive candidates. Use SmartRecruiters to advertise on job boards and track performance to ensure faster hires.

ClearCompany

ClearCompany helps small businesses win at remote hiring with innovative means of connecting with candidates. This digital, candidate-centric recruiting tool features a mobile-friendly interface that enables job seekers to apply right from their phones. Interview scorecards assist your hiring team in conducting compelling interviews that find the right candidate for your organization.

Freshteam

Leverage everything you need throughout the hiring process at an affordable rate with Freshteam. Their modern applicant tracking software allows you to create custom workflow stages for every job posting and gives you a professional-looking career site with ease. Freshteam has a free service and offers a free 21-day premium trial without taking credit card information.

CareerBuilder.com

CareerBuilder.com saves small businesses time and money with its integrated hiring systems. Their AI technology can optimize job postings, and discovering qualified candidates gets a boost from automated matching. Other notable features include direct and automated candidate communications, a career site and virtual and in-person hiring events that all support recruitment strategies. Try a free trial of their talent acquisition suite or find a monthly or annual plan that fits your needs.

Workable

Attract and screen candidates with Workable‘s easy-to-use platform. One-click job posting to over 200 job sites, Gmail and Outlook integration for simplified scheduling and gamified employee referrals create a smooth user experience. Hiring teams can meet candidates faster with native one-way video interviews and live video integrations. Fast global support and easy onboarding are other noteworthy benefits of Workable.

Zoho Recruit

Zoho Recruit combines sourcing, tracking, and hiring management into one simple platform. The service includes an assessment feature that allows you to store and maintain a list of questions and feedback for applicants. Set up automatic replies, alerts, and notifications in advance for process efficiency. After your free 15-day trial, Standard, Professional and Enterprise tiers range from $25 to $90 per month.

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An Ant Colony Is the Perfect Metaphor for the Economy. Here’s What Else You Need to Know.

Quick Bit: New ways of thinking about the economy can help us understand how it evolves — and how public policy can influence it.
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Ants are fascinating creatures. Far more than a simple picnic pest or inspiring hero moving a rubber tree plant, ants are complex creatures that demonstrate the value of teamwork, networks and cooperation. Scientists are only now starting to learn just how complex an ant colony really is and how incredibly intricate and mysterious ant communication is.

And the ant colony is a perfect metaphor for what humans call “the .”

Unfortunately, when most of us refer to the economy, we refer to it as a single, monolithic creature — almost like it has a central decision-making mechanism and a single state of being. We talk about the economy being in good or bad shape. We use terms like bull and bear in reference to stock markets. Academics refer to the desired state of the economy being “in equilibrium.” All of these are poor ways to think about the economy because the economy is not one single thing.

Related: How the Rise of the Gig Economy Influences the Workforce

Human economic activity involves hundreds of millions of independent actions made each second

Rather, the economy is far more like an ant colony, where thousands of ants act both independently yet collectively at the same time. Human economic activity is even larger, involving hundreds of millions of independent actions made each second by businesses, governments and individual consumers. The economy is the result of what happens in the aggregate, and it’s never the same from one minute to the next.

Understanding this is key to understanding how policies will affect — or not affect — the result of the millions of economic decisions each minute. And when we think about the efficacy of governments’ , it’s important to keep in mind a few main principles of how ants — oops, I mean humans — make decisions.

Three critical decision-making principles

The first is that no economic decision is made in a vacuum. The current environment in which businesses and consumers find themselves will shape and influence decisions. No example is clearer and more timely than the Covid-19 pandemic. But other examples such as prevailing interest rates, climate-change realities and geo-political backdrops come to mind as well.

The second is that the past informs the present. Choices are influenced by historical, cultural and institutional contexts, and these contexts vary widely even across single national economies. In the United States, for example, what shapes a good economic decision will differ between Savannah and Seattle, given these two cities’ very different historical and cultural lenses. What is logical in one setting is very different from another. Unlike what neoclassical economists might have assumed, human decision-makers are anything but predictable and rational.

The third principle is the future and our expectations of what is to come. These too can vary tremendously between businesses and individual consumers and are shaped by media, governments and public institutions. If we expect interest rates to rise, for example, we alter our borrowing decisions in the present. This is where fear and uncertainty can hinder good decision-making, especially when that fear morphs into anger.

Related: How to Help a Business Thrive During an Economic Recession

Good public policy should create better, safer and more sustainable jobs

This brings us back to the efficacy of public policy to shape and direct the economy in a desirable direction. I’ve always believed we give governments both too much credit and too much blame for the results we see in the economy. Generally speaking, no government policy in any modern democratically governed nation is likely to single-handedly save or destroy an economy. (Even extreme actions, such as the BREXIT in the U.K., can be disruptive, but for the most part, the lives of Britons today are not fundamentally different than they were pre-referendum).

This doesn’t mean the role of public policy is unimportant. But rather than thinking about policy as a means of dictating an outcome, good policy makers need to understand their role is one of influencing, even seducing, the collective decision-making process in a desirable direction.

The goal of good policy should be to create better, safer and more sustainable jobs. It’s also to ensure our collective ant hill (aka the economy) is one that affords good opportunities for all. But these goals can only be achieved if policy makers understand the nature of the ever-changing, morphing and mutating economy.

Related: How to Prepare Your Business for Economic Downturn

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10 Must-Have Traits for All Successful Entrepreneurs

Quick Bit: I’ve helped thousands of business owners — here’s what I learned.
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have a vision, focus and determination that will take them anywhere they want to go. They also have strong skills and know-how to motivate others around them.

Every great entrepreneur shares ten critical attributes, which I’ve witnessed during my time helping thousands of business leaders succeed. When , these key components should be at the forefront of your mind as they pertain directly to success.

1. Problem-solving

First up on our list is a trait that is often taken for granted. In fact, it’s so important to have the ability to problem-solve and think critically about issues at hand no matter what comes up in your line of work! If you are always looking to get the job done, you must possess this skill set to circumvent any situation life throws your way. The most successful entrepreneurs go outside of their comfort zone to find solutions while keeping calm under pressure.

2. Impeccable communication

As an entrepreneur, you can accomplish little to nothing if you lack communication skills. Expressing oneself clearly and concisely can often be the difference between an average professional and someone who excels. This applies to your day-to-day interactions and the way you communicate on paper and email.

Related: 3 Ways to Become an ‘Overnight Success’

3. Determination to excel

This next trait is something that only those who know what it feels like to fail can genuinely appreciate: determination! Successful entrepreneurs don’t let anything stop them from getting where they want to be, including failure. Life doesn’t always go according to plan, but there are still ways of achieving desired results so long as one has perseverance.

It doesn’t matter how often the entrepreneur fails; the determination to succeed makes each new failure seem like a minor setback. In fact, this crucial trait can mean that one learns from those setbacks and tries even harder.

4. Calculated risk-taking

If not used properly, this trait can be a weakness; however, taking risks and making calculated decisions have helped many entrepreneurs succeed. For example, an entrepreneur might risk not expanding his or her product line when sales are on the rise. If calculated risk-taking weren’t present in the entrepreneur’s skill set, he or she wouldn’t be able to make that decision quickly.

5. Learning continuously

There is always more you can learn and new tools that will help your business grow. Be sure to check out trends in your niche and network with like-minded individuals. Take some time each week to reflect on how you learned something new about the business industry. Then, decide if there is a way you can implement this new piece of knowledge into your business to help move forward. Finally, make continuous learning part of your daily routine. You will never know everything, but continuous learning will get you closer to understanding everything.

6. Strong leadership skills

While leadership attributes are essential for everyone, they become even more critical when running your own business. If you don’t have leadership skills, your team will not be able to work together effectively with the same vision and understanding of your entrepreneurial goals. In addition, without leadership skills, there won’t be any clear direction or motivation within the company.

7. Passion and ambition

Passion is the flicker of excitement in your eyes when you get asked about your business, or for some, it’s practically their life. Ambition is what drives entrepreneurs to do what they do every day.

It might be that passion that led them into because starting a business can be scary and uncertain, not for the faint-hearted. Entrepreneurs have an innate drive to achieve success, which could have stemmed from being passionate about their idea. They are relentless in their pursuit of success, and this mentality needs to be fueled by ambition so it doesn’t run out along the way.

Related: Richard Branson’s 8 Keys to Happiness and Success

8. Open-mindedness

As an entrepreneur, creating and launching a product involves extensive research on what customers want and need. This process requires disregarding assumptions about what currently exists in the market and seeking new ways to meet customer needs instead of trying to fulfill old ones (reactive versus proactive). In order to create such innovative products, entrepreneurs must be willing to experience something new, even if it means subjecting their current beliefs and assumptions about the market to scrutiny.

9. Work-life balance

There seems to be a never-ending debate about whether entrepreneurs need a work-life balance. For many, the discussion is debatable because they believe entrepreneurs are too busy scaling their business to have much time for anything else. However, this can have significant consequences for entrepreneurs and the businesses that depend on them.

The entrepreneur’s life has always been full of challenges and sacrifices, but that doesn’t mean entrepreneurs should cut out family, friends and health from their lives completely. Entrepreneurs are humans with needs, just like everyone else. They have personal goals they want to accomplish outside of work, families who rely on them and friends they enjoy spending time with.

10. Team player

Managing a business requires a wide variety of skills, and a good entrepreneur needs to navigate the landscape full of the diverse people they will work with. This means pushing past strengths in their own knowledge base and taking on responsibility from other areas and professionals as well.

Being a team player also helps entrepreneurs stay connected with their employees and colleagues and keep up on industry news. In addition, an entrepreneur looking to build a larger team will understand how to delegate tasks and how an individual’s day-to-day tasks fit into the overall scheme of things.

Related: 8 Ways to Structure Your Daily Grind for Success

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Face failure and learn from your successes in 7 steps

Quick Bit: Pau Garcia-Mila’s career has not been without “skinny cows”, discover his advice.

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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.

This article was updated on October 16, 2021

Tech entrepreneurship is perhaps one of the most complicated. Not only is precise knowledge required for projects, but it must be combined with offering a benefit that the client considers of value.

When faced with the problem of promotion, many doubts arise. How should a technology entrepreneur behave? How to make your brand, your company and even them known as leaders in the sector without dying in the attempt? What happens if I fail?

For Pau Garcia-Mila , entrepreneurship is something he saw as a child when his parents, architects, decided to set up a pizzeria in the face of a real estate crisis that left them without income, so he grew up in the family business. At 17 he founded his first of three companies, eyeOS, which in 2014 he sold to Telefonica.

11 years later, in addition to running his startup, Ideafoster, he has given conferences in other countries and has published four books, however, he prefers to be recognized as an entrepreneur.

“People get ‘CEO’ or ‘director’ and I try to run away from executive positions. I have founded several companies and in the last one I am a partner. ”

However, his career has not been without and lean times. From the learning that good and bad times leave, he has managed to take it to the field of his personal brand in the following way.

1. Overcome barriers

When he announced at home that he was going to undertake, his parents warned him to be careful. Even friends and family told him it could be risky.

“I think that in an attempt to protect you, they try to stop you. They told me ‘you will do it in a few years’ but I realize that there is no good time to undertake, that being 17 years old you have nothing to lose, you can try everything, but you have no experience. With 25 years the same and you know something, you have studied, but you are starting to think about having a family and you are more afraid. At 40 you already have your family and you have your children and you don’t want to risk it. So there is never an ideal time. I think that regardless of the moment, the important thing is that you are sure of what you are doing. “

In the same way, the first 6 years of the company people told them that it was going to fail until they received their first large investors.

“At the company level we had nothing. Every month we were close to having to close the company because we had to kill ourselves to make ends meet but at the project level we did something that was important. ”

At the age of nine, something unusual for a startup, she was sold to the most important telephone company in Spain.

“It was fun because we were a very small company but we did a very nice job but very important on a technological level.”

2. Learn from failures without holding on to them

Pau’s second company, Bananity, was founded in 2011. It was a social network based on the big data of passions, that is, the user put places, movies or songs that they liked and the site analyzed them with data from other users to suggest things that you might also like, by making a match. It closed in 2014, after several attempts to keep it afloat.

“It was perhaps one of the failures that hurt me the most because I put not only a part of the savings but the illusion that there could be something here and it closed, it didn’t work for us.”

However, he believes that failure is necessary and even healthy in the process.

“It doesn’t hurt to talk about failures. It hurts me to fail because I know I have not done well, but when it is done I explain it. For me it is very important to explain it, it is like a therapy. After a month I am already thinking about the following, because if something called ‘analysis paralysis’ does not come and it is terrible. “

Like every loss, analyzing it allows you to move on to the next thing but it is important not to hold on.

“I think it is important to close the cycles, turn the page and there are people who do not, but not spend a year trying to learn things. Now it is very easy to say it looking back, because you analyze and say that you were wrong here. In the end nothing happens, it is healthy that a company does not go well and closes. Did we rob someone? No! Did we do something wrong? No! We just made bad decisions that did not go well and it is not a crime. Fortunately, it is nothing that cannot be recovered. It is not health. “

Interestingly, that same year he had, in a period of six months, the experience of selling his first company and closing the second.

“I experienced the best and the worst situation of an entrepreneur: a company was acquired and another had to close, and then in 2014 I founded Ideafoster, which fortunately is growing a lot.”

3. Don’t be afraid to communicate and share it

“In Spain we are educated not to be entrepreneurs but to be workers and civil servants. There is very little entrepreneurial vocation. When I began to speak in favor of people having to start and found companies, there was a part of the people who hated me for that. They don’t like someone young to tell them ‘everyone can be an entrepreneur and it’s good to start companies’ “

However, his taste for communicating, which he brought since he was a child when he wanted to dedicate himself to radio broadcasting, made it easier for him to make the leap to speaker and author, especially in Latin America.

“The attitude in countries like Mexico and Colombia is one of ‘I want to achieve things, I want to earn my living,’ and entrepreneurship there is much to say. Above all, explain from my experiences of and failure what can be learned from them. ”

Pau has published four books: It is all to be done (2008) that he wrote at the age of 20 and was a bestseller, Optimismamente (2011) that spoke of optimism in times of crisis and was not well received, You have an idea (but still you don’t know) (2012) that opened the doors to Mexico and Latin America as an advisor and speaker, and recently You are a great communicator (but you still don’t know it) (2015).

“It was from the idea of mixing what he wanted to do and what he knew how to do.”

4. Capitalize on success

At the time that Pau received the award for “Entrepreneur of the Year” in 2011, they began to call him to talk about innovation, at the age of 23.

“I realized that if I took care of this personal brand, they opened the doors to something that I was passionate about and I started writing a blog but I have always thought that this is temporary. Failure and nobody calls me, triumph and they call me. I have a great time but the day to day is here, in the office. ”

In the same way, Ideafoster has allowed him to go back to basics, which he finds fun. From having an already developed company to returning to a small office planning from scratch has allowed him to return to his beginnings as an entrepreneur. They currently have more clients outside of Spain than inside.

“We are dedicated to working with large companies, especially multinationals, to create projects within them. In other words, we help them innovate in technological projects as if they were startups. We have a network of 39 companies with which we collaborate that are specialists in many subjects, to develop these projects. We are between a strategic and a project accelerator. “

5. That communicating does not prevent you from undertaking

Many entrepreneurs claim that they are too busy to give lectures and write books on their success stories and they are right. That is why Pau has set limits.

“I try to make sure that this part does not occupy more than a third of my time. The problem is that going to Mexico for a conference takes four days, so I do crazy things like a 24-hour lightning flight or keep the Spanish schedule to work. ”

However, communicating is not an impediment to entrepreneurship, but the free expression of ideas allows the entrepreneur to find allies and support from people to whom those ideas may be of interest.

“The place where there are more ideas in the world is in the cemetery. People who died with their ideas. Of course there is a possibility that the idea will be stolen but it is a scale. Is it better to tell a thousand people and one wants to steal it or not tell it and no one helps me? If I tell a thousand, maybe there will be 200 who want to help me. If I don’t tell it, nobody helps me. “

6. Don’t trust luck

For Pau, effort is key to the success of a company. Believing in the project and fighting for it to succeed has allowed him to undertake time and time again, but he knows that the approach from the outside is different, like when he sold eyeOS.

“After 10 years of not sleeping and crushing me, they told me ‘you’ve won the lottery, you’ve been lucky’ and I tell them: ‘where have you seen luck?’ to keep the company because I believe in it. But when you fail, everyone tells you: ‘I told you, you should have listened to me.’ It’s his favorite word. “

Therefore, the duty of the entrepreneur to take responsibility for his successes and failures instead of leaving them to chance allows him to take charge of the situation, learn when he has failed and know how to communicate the keys to success.

7. Value family

The trips, conferences and interviews gave Pau an opportunity to take a “time out” and forget about the routine, but with the arrival of fatherhood, his priorities are different.

“Before I gave it a lot of importance. Now my life is my baby. Since I was a father, in the end it is a matter of being happy with what you have and since I am a father I no longer need moments to disconnect, I am half an hour with my son and I am happy. ”

His childhood experiences with his parents leaving the architectural firm taught him a lesson about family.

“I have a technology company but if it goes wrong I have a family to support, so I go to work in a cafeteria or I will change things. Sometimes things don’t go our way and we have to adapt. He who adapts survives and he who does not, dies. ”

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Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Trademarks

Quick Bit: There’s a ton of value in registering one for your business.

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are a type of intellectual property that has a commercial purpose. Intellectual property is a business asset that includes “intangible” creations of the human mind — in other words, assets that you cannot feel or touch. There are four types of intellectual property that are recognized in the United States: trademarks, , and trade secrets.

Trademarks are logos, catch-words, slogans, images or even smells that help a business stand out in the market, avoid confusion with similar brands and help the consumer instantly identify a business. In short, they are highly valuable business assets that can be identified and registered with the government to deter copycats, distinguish a brand and, to a certain level, even control the behavior of competitors.

Well-publicized trademarks, like the Nike “check” or the McDonald’s “M”, are so powerful that consumers instantly think of those brands just by looking at a symbol or logo. Large corporations invest millions, if not billions, to develop, register and protect their intellectual property to ensure they gain or maintain their market share and competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Related: Supreme Court Rules in Google’s Favor in Oracle Copyright Case

2. What can you trademark?

You can trademark:

The name of a brand (example: Nike)

A logo of a brand (example: The swoosh logo)

A slogan (example: “Just Do It”)

A small (example: “Flowery Musk Scent” in Verizon stores)

3. What can’t your trademark?

You cannot trademark:

A book, song, film or other creative and original works (those are protected by copyrights)

An invention of a machine, manufactured good or a chemical formula (those are protected by patents)

Business assets like your vendor list, customer list, industry secrets, marketing secrets, pricing or sales techniques (those are “trade secrets” and can be captured and protected through contracts)

4. How to register a trademark?

It’s important to first research whether or not you can actually trademark your business name, logo or slogan even before starting a trademark application, which is regulated by the United States Patent And Trademark Office (USPTO) in the United States.

The USPTO is a federal agency that grants patents and trademarks in the United States. All patent and trademark applications have to be registered through their official website to be recognized and protected at a national level.

You can read more about trademark law from the USPTO’s website.

Related: Copyright, Elon Musk and the Farting Unicorns of Doom

5. What are the steps in registering a trademark?

1. Research the USPTO’s trademark electronic search system (TESS) to ensure no one else has already registered the mark.

2. If you do not find anyone using the mark in your specific industry, register the mark with the USPTO (Note: Trademark law is highly specific and technical, and hiring an attorney who understands trademarks will help you avoid making mistakes in the filing process).

3. Once you file your trademark application, the registration will be assigned to a trademark examination attorney (an attorney who checks the technical requirements on behalf of the USPTO). They will research the mark, corroborate the evidence you have provided and ensure that you have the rights to that mark.

4. After the initial review of your application, the examination attorney will either request more information from you to proceed further, inform you that someone filed an objection to your registration or proceed to process your application by advertising your mark in their publication magazine, The Trademark Gazette.

5. If someone objects to your mark, the examination attorney will provide you the opportunity to defend your mark or provide evidence of why you should be allowed to register the mark.

6. The trademark registration process takes anywhere from 3-6 months, or longer if there are objections or missing pieces of information, to get approved.

7. Once approved, you will receive a Certificate to Authenticate your trademark from the USPTO (that’s when you can use the (R) symbol to let others know that you own that mark).

Tips of trademarks: You cannot use the (R) symbol until your registration has been approved. However, you probably should use the (TM) sign in your logos, phrases, or slogans to give others notice that you are claiming that mark under a “Common Law Trademark” (a more informal way of using your mark) or that you intend to register the mark.

6. Why is a trademark important?

There are a plethora of advantages of registering your trademark with the USPTO as opposed to relying on the “Common Law Trademark” rules. Here are a few of them:

1. A trademark helps you launch and grow your business with more confidence. Once your trademark has been approved, you will own the exclusive rights to your brand name, slogans and/or logos (depending on what you have trademarked) and have the exclusive right to use that in your business.

2. Registering a trademark also stops copycats and enables you to control your mark. It helps you gain trustworthiness and authority in your market and helps you distinguish your brand from other competitors in your industry.

3. Acquiring a trademark helps you monetize your mark in several different ways. You can license your trademark, you can advertise with more confidence, you can sue copycats for damages and you can issue “cease and desist” letters to stop another business from infringing your trademark.

Is it worth registering your trademark?

If you believe that your business has commercial assets that are worth protecting, it might be a good idea to pursue a formal USPTO trademark registration as opposed to only relying on the common law trademark laws to protect your brand.

Related: YouTube Starts Checking for Copyright Violations as Videos Upload

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5 Steps You Can Take to Start a Small Town Business

Quick Bit: It can be hard to figure out where to start with a small-town business idea.

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There are many different kinds of entrepreneurs. Some are drawn to a just because of an innate passion for what they are doing, some are bred into it and others discovered a problem and want to create a solution for that problem in the marketplace. For those who want to start a business in the small-town communities — how can you make sure you do it right?

Related: Who Is an Entrepreneur

Step 1: Create your list

Identifying a gap in a small town is as simple as a Google search followed by taking a walk.

If you live in town, simply walk around. Check out the local businesses and see what their offerings are. When you are there, pay close attention and think about something that you would enjoy but cannot seem to find.

If you don’t live in town but you’re thinking of, spend a weekend there. During your time there, start asking the same question: What would I like to see there?

There might be restaurants, a hardware store and a beauty shop, but what else would you be interested in having there? If you’re looking at a town that has a direct transit connection to a major city, what business could attract people from that city? Is the town located near natural resources that people haven’t thought to use for business yet?

For example, are there hiking trails, mountains, rivers or lakes? If you have a train connection from the city to some hiking trails, what could a possible business be? Maybe there are a lot of urbanites who would love to go hiking, but they don’t want to drive or lug their equipment on a train. Maybe an equipment rental store could provide them with all of their equipment, or maybe even a guide service would be a good business to set up.

Related: How to Come Up With Startup Business Ideas in the Digital Era

Step 2: Create a list from others

So you have your list, but that’s one perspective. That brings us to the next step: Ask the town what it needs. Ask the people of the town what it needs or what are some things people wish they had. Do they have to drive out of town to go to a dry cleaner, for certain entertainment or go to the gym? Don’t just ask a select few people; ask as many people as you can.

Related: 5 Questions You Should Ask to Find Out If You Have a Good Business Idea or a Dud

Find the high traffic areas around town and spend a couple of hours asking and recording answers, identifying which ones keep popping up. Ask people who work for the town, ask organizations around town, ask business owners, ask people at random, just keep asking and you will start to hear the same ideas repeat.

A great resource to ask is the local Chamber of Commerce. The local chamber likely keeps a running tab of business ideas. In addition to keeping a running tab of businesses, they will be an amazing connection to have as time goes on in this business process — which brings us to a bonus point.

Bonus: By simply asking a lot of people questions, you will be able to start building connections and relationships that might come in handy and help speed up the process should you decide to launch your business.

By the end of this gap refinement process, you will have a list of businesses you created and a list of businesses that other people mentioned as well. It’s time to sit down and compare the two — there will be a couple of businesses that overlap from these tests, focus on those.

Related: The New Networking: 8 Strategies for Building Real Relationships

Step 3: Figuring out which gap is best for you

Are there any businesses on that list that make sense for you? Is there a gap that made you think “Wow, I already have everything I need to fill that”?

For example: Have you worked in a ? How about a pastry shop? Both in terms of production and retail? Do you bake on the weekends? Have you created your own recipes? Have you distributed baked goods? Did you start a baking club?

Is it time to open a bakery? It might be, it might not be — the question then becomes is that something you want to do.

Related: Why You Must Really Know Yourself Before Starting a Business

If you know that you don’t want to open a bakery even with your love of pastries, that’s fine — cross it off the list. The objective should be to find something that fits the following 3 criteria:

What does the town need?What am I good at — if I don’t know, what do I enjoy doing?What do I want to do?

Align these 3 things and you’re on your way.

Related: How to Know When a Business Idea Is Worth Pursuing

Step 4: Protect your downside and hedge your bets

By now we have asked a lot of questions that helped build a foundation and identify a business we would like to start. Now, it is time to ask the structural questions to validate the idea.

Figure out how to address challenges before launching a business by using these questions:

Will this business not work because there wouldn’t be enough customers to generate an ROI?Will this business not work because you don’t have certain knowledge you’ll need?Will this business not work because your product or service is not good enough?

Analyzing questions like this will allow you to fill a market gap in the strongest possible way — giving us the highest likelihood of success.

Related: Entrepreneurs Aren’t Risk-Seekers — They Just Handle Risk Better

Is there a way for you to pour your resources into filling that gap slowly? Doing it this way ensures the business strengthens correctly as opposed to filling the gap only to realize that it will soon break.

So, can you start on a smaller scale? Can you sublet some square footage in a commercial space instead of taking over an entire spot yourself? Can you get customers to sign up ahead of time? If you live in town, can you start it out of your home? Or how about, filling a smaller part of the gap to start?

If you find that there there are more challenges than you’re comfortable with taking on, that means one of two things. Either it’s time to start creating a better solution or head back to your list to find another gap. If you have found your gap, addressed why it wouldn’t work and you’re still ready to move forward, that brings us to the next step.

Related: How to Know When That Business Idea Is Good Enough to Pursue

Step 5: Business plan and beyond

You have decided to move forward with your business idea, which means it’s time for a full business plan. The good news is that with all the work you have already done, this can come together fairly quickly.

Related: How to Write a Business Plan

Iron out the business plan and remember it is a dynamic document. You don’t need to follow it to a T as it is meant to serve as a guide. You might find the skills you developed in this process lead you to a better solution or that you could branch out into other gaps – those are all types of possibilities we travel down as entrepreneurs.

Find the gaps, refine the gaps, figure out what’s best for you, manage downside risk, plan and execute.

Related: 5 Tips to Start a Business the Right Way

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Why You Don’t Need to Be a Business Insider in Order to Succeed

Quick Bit: What does it take these days in order to succeed personally and professionally?
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Wherever you’re at on your entrepreneurial journey, it can be all too easy to view success as the preserve of the already connected and wealthy.

The wealthy, after all, are wealthy. They can afford to take a chance on something. They probably hang out with other wealthy and connected friends, who just hand them opportunity after opportunity.

Well, maybe. But does it really matter?

Where we place our energy is what dictates our experience. If you expend your energy and time confecting the scenario whereby it’s all just a rich man’s game, you’ll act as though it’s the truth — regardless of whether it really is or not.

This is where mindfulness comes into play. We have to monitor where we send our creative power. If we liken it to the keys of a car, by complaining about how little power we think we have, all we do is hand the keys to someone else and slide over into the passenger seat.

No matter what anyone tells you, it’s not a zero-sum game. There is abundance out there for everyone. Of course, money becomes concentrated with various people, but wealth-mobility is very real and happening all the time.

We hear people talk about the 1% all the time (often in an effort to paint them as a monolithic, evil, controlling class). What they fail to recognize is that people are constantly moving in and out of the 1% all the time. Some of this is down to inherited wealth, and some is down to hard work — but it’s happening all the time.

What really lies at the heart of this is fear. We abdicate our power to an imagined ruling class because we’re afraid of the unknown. And before you think this is about blaming you: It is our subconscious being unwilling to take the risk that stops us. You have a built-in stowaway in your mind who wants to maintain a status quo. Therefore, any new growth opportunities — while intellectually exciting and appealing — will be met with emotional resistance at some point.

I’m sure you’ve had this happen to you before: You get a new career-changing offer, you do a little dance and head off to celebrate. After all of the endorphins and subside, you find yourself racked with nerves.

Now, I’m sure that you’d persevere anyway, giving scant regard to the nerves and dismissing them as just jitters or whatever. But at some point down the line, something happens. Maybe you run out of steam, maybe the stress gets to you, maybe you’re overwhelmed by the amount of work — but you’re out.

Some would call this self-sabotage, but it’s not. Your mind is a perfect manifesting machine. It will execute whatever program it’s running on flawlessly. You were trying to force a situation on yourself that wasn’t aligned with who you are.

Deep down, subconsciously, you don’t truly desire success. You’re not comfortable with the recognition and responsibility that comes with being rich and notable. Very few are, and those that are have usually had experience in that area before, or have done the internal work necessary, to step into that life effortlessly.

Related: Is Blaming Others Taking Away Your Magical Powers to Manifest Your Dreams?

If we want (or think we want) success in any area, we must take a holistic approach. This is where so many fall, because they don’t think they need to pay attention to their feelings.

You don’t have to be a business insider who already has lots of wealth and opportunity strewn at their feet. But you do have to be mentally and emotionally aligned with that outcome. In essence, you need to live as though you are that person now.

Think about anything you’ve ever successfully executed in your life. It could be getting up to go make a cup of . Now think about what had to be in alignment for you to successfully execute that desire or plan.

It’s the same for literally anything that we want to create in our lives. Ask yourself the following:

What am I feeling and how is that impacting…?What I am thinking, and how is that impacting…?What I am doing?

Align these three things and you will get there. It all starts with our emotional state.

Related: Manifesting Growth

Most people jump straight to the “doing” part of the process, and this is usually why they fail. Firstly, because of subconscious misalignment and resistance. Secondly, because they’re essentially engaging in blindly taken action.

Action is concurrently the most and least important part of the process. It qualifies as the most because without any action, you can’t receive anything. However, action is also the least important because it’s meaningless. Blind action does not serve a deliberate or specific end. You could flail about wildly in the middle of the street, but odds are that won’t help you discover a renewable energy source.

Bringing this back around to our original question: Do you have to be a business insider with lots of money and opportunity to succeed?

The answer is both yes and no.

No, you don’t have to presently be all of those things to succeed. The point is that your present status doesn’t dictate your one. It’s all a matter of your emotional state and the quality of your thoughts. Choose to be a business insider, right here and now. The programming language that your subconscious understands is emotional energy. It predates logic and reason.

It also can’t understand the difference between imagined circumstances and real ones. This is why it is perfectly possible to rehearse your ideal life, over and over in your head. By doing so, you’ll soon convince your subconscious that this is a desirable future.

After that, the execution will be automatic. You will be that person — but only if you let yourself.

Related: 5 Mindset Secrets to Achieve Your Goals Faster

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Podcasters Are the New Influencers

Quick Bit: Hiring an influencer can be expensive, and you only reach people on social media. Being on a podcast allows you to network and be seen across social media and search engines.
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Hiring can get expensive for startups. You pay them and give them free products. They post about it on their social media, and you go on your merry way and hope that their audience sees it and acts.

Most reputable , on the other hand, don’t charge you to be on their show, and if one does ask you for money, nine times out of ten, run! Podcasts typically have a substantial audience comparable to many influencers or micro-influencers. Additionally, your audience and theirs get to learn more about you and your straight from you.

How do podcasts work?

On podcasts, you typically give about 30 minutes of your time interviewing with the host, talking about yourself and your business. The podcaster will post about the episode with a link to you and your business on his or her social media, where it will be available forever, whereas many influencers post a story that disappears after 24 hours. Podcasters also typically publish a short blog about the interview with the interview link or video on their website and backlink to you. This provides you with valuable SEO juice that will allow more organic users to find your website.

You can and should also share this interview on your own website and social media. There’s great creative content for your audience that you don’t have to make or have a team create, which means more time and money saved. This is especially great for B2B companies that are bootstrapping.

Related: How to Attract Sales Leads Through Your Podcast Guest

Perks of being a guest on a podcast

Being on a podcast is an excellent alternative to paying an influencer because not only are you saving the money you’d pay an influencer, but you also get more marketing fodder out of it. You get the basic 360 — SEO, social media and PR — all for the price of being a guest on a podcast. In other words, being a podcast guest is a powerful thing.

Many people think it’s intimidating, but it’s just like the networking conversations so many business owners have. Podcasts are great for networking. Most of the hosts are also business owners, and I’ve even become friends with a lot of the podcast hosts that I’ve talked to. If you have ever been to a card exchange, done a sales call, or spoken to others at a business event, you can speak on a podcast.

Besides, at a business event, there is no edit button, whereas on a podcast, you can usually take solace in the fact that if you stumble, it can always be edited out.

Related: How to Promote Your New Podcast: 10 Effective Strategies to Try

How often should I go on podcasts?

I’m a big proponent of going on many different podcasts. Personally, I interview on about two podcasts per week. Each show is different. I have gotten so many followers this way. My DA for my business has gone up, and there are many Google results when a potential client searches my name.

I have also gotten many great new clients who have heard me on these podcasts. They hear me on the podcast and say, “I feel like I know you. I love what they do. I am ready to hire you.” I hardly have to tell them anything about my company because they already know it from the show. It happens often — and not just to me. I also have helped dozens of clients secure regular podcast spots and have seen the same results across various niches and industries.

Podcasts have been a game changer for so many people. It could work for business-to-consumer (B2C), but it especially works for (B2B). So if you are a B2B looking to get out there more and inexpensively advertise your product with 360, being on a podcast is the way.

Related: How to Promote Your New Podcast: 10 Effective Strategies to Try

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You Might Not Know That You’re a High-Risk Customer for Mainstream Banks

Quick Bit: Here’s how to improve your bankability if your business is labeled high-risk.
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It may come as a surprise to see your in the high-risk category. Segments of the “new ” like trading cryptocurrency, creating online content, selling legal cannabis or contemporary art, or even building ecommerce platforms, can raise red flags for . You might run into unexpected bumps trying to open a bank account for your business or even for yourself as an individual. How should you approach this challenge?

Traditionally, high-risk used to be a narrow niche of gambling, all things adult-oriented, selling firearms and other marginal activities in so-called gray areas of the law.

Technology has dramatically changed the ways people make and build wealth, creating new disruptive industries almost every day. A few years ago, a professional Twitch streamer was treated as an isolated business case, but today creators have their own economy with a market size of $104 billion. The crypto market will reach $4.94 billion by 2030. Add $347 billion of the gig economy growing by 30% each year, and you won’t be inclined to call it a niche.

It is time to shake off the negative connotation of the term “high-risk” — that same high risk will most certainly drive fintech and traditional banking growth over the next ten years.

Related: Here’s How Automation Has Changed the Face of the Banking

Mainstream banking isn’t ready to embrace the new economy

Most next-generation businesses are labeled as high-risk, which limits their access to banking, sometimes significantly. Traditional banks and payment processors find it too demanding and resource-consuming to work with them. Recent media dramas with adult-entertainment platform OnlyFans and leading cryptocurrency exchange Binance illustrate the trend: Banking partners threaten to break relationships with companies involved in what they perceive as risky business. More and more often, they are following through on their threats by freezing transactions and deposits, closing existing bank accounts without notice, or simply refusing any kind of service without explanation. The problem is that the rejected businesses still need , and they are sometimes forced to look for less traditional alternatives.

This disconnect has already been acknowledged by a few fintech projects targeted at specific audiences. Karat announced it will develop bespoke banking products for creators, and DayLight raised $20 million to build a bank for the LGBT+ community. It may look like a tangible solution, but it’s nothing more than a patch. Seriously, should every community wait until there’s a tailor-made bank for them?

Related: 8 Ways Digital Banking Will Evolve Over the Next 5 Years

It’s all about compliance

A bank’s compliance team is the first to greet you after receiving your application. Their job is to make sure you are who you say you are, you haven’t done anything illegal before, and you won’t do anything suspicious on their platform.

If there’s anything complicated about your line of work, you may face longer onboarding with back-and-forth emailing or even be rejected when opening a bank account. Any of the following can make the onboarding process difficult:

Non-standard operations: unusual, new or non-conventional approach to business.

Complex corporate and ownership structure: multiple legal entities with convoluted affiliation, non-resident owners.

Sophisticated money flows: multileg transactions in multiple jurisdictions and currencies.

Dealing with third-party money: in other words, if your business is B2B2C.

Activity that is restricted in certain jurisdictions or requires licensing or certification.

Cash-heavy operations, especially ATM networks and payment kiosks of all sorts.

Basically, if your ambition is to serve global customers and modern audiences with changing consumption habits, you’d better be prepared to prove that your business is compliant. What does that mean for the practical side of things?

You can help the bank’s compliance teams understand your business inside out. In other words, you need to decompose the risk for them by providing comprehensive and verifiable answers to the following questions.

1. What do you do?

Do not limit the description of your business to a single line. Unlike venture capitalists and startup accelerators who encourage founders to come up with three-word business descriptions, compliance teams won’t be impressed with a one-liner like “Collaborative platform for creators” or “Programmable money solution” in your application. Be specific and elaborate on every aspect of your business. Do not use industry jargon. Your goal is to explain your business with enough details and clarity for an outsider to get a solid understanding of what you do.

2. Who owns your business?

If the ownership of your company is complicated, it is your job to unravel it, layer by layer. Provide documents from relevant business registries about all beneficiaries, investors, shareholders and other affiliated companies and individuals. Include proofs of sources of funds, recent bank statements, and other documents that shine some light on the origin of the money you build your business with.

3. Who are your customers (and your customers’ customers)?

You must explain who exactly you are dealing with and what the nature of your relationship is. It is not enough to describe the audience on a general level. Name your existing and potential customers, send your list of vendors, and share details of your interaction with them.

If you deal with other people’s money, you should persuade your banking partner that you meet KYC (Know Your Customer) standards and that you can expand to KYCC (Know Your Customers’ Customers) if necessary. Having compliance policies in place is not enough. You have to prove that the policies are applied in every single case, your global customers’ identities are verified, and your company has the capacity to detect and prevent fraudulent activity.

Your end game is to help your bank help you. If you take the time to align your application with the regulation requirements, you’ll increase your chances of being accepted by your chosen bank. In turn, the bank won’t spend days trying to connect the dots and figure out important information on its own. You do it for your bank with the expectation that down the road, the bank will be able to explain to regulators that the risk of serving your company is very manageable.

Related: Here’s Why Banking ETFs Are Attractive Investment Bets

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