Seven Ways Your Employees Could Unintentionally Compromise Your Business’s Cyber Security

Entrepreneur’s Organization is a global network of over 13,000 business owners. Learn how EO New Jersey helps over 100 business owners grow.

Written for EO by Annie Button.

Humans are often cited by businesses as a weak link in the cybersecurity chain. And while some people tend to focus on the threat posed by malicious hackers or bitter insiders, it is actually unintentional mistakes and compromises that are a much bigger issue.

Check out these seven ways that your employees could unwittingly compromise your organization’s cybersecurity, as well as some of the measures you can put in place to mitigate the risk.

1. Using personal devices
The rise of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) means that more employees are using their own devices to read company emails and access sensitive business information. Unlike business-owned devices, which can be easily audited and controlled by your IT team, personal devices may not have antivirus software installed, and could have a huge range of other exploitable weaknesses.

A recent report from Verizon revealed that 79 percent of companies consider their own employees a “significant threat,” and that some of the riskiest behaviors for employees using BYODs included downloading mobile apps and visiting questionable websites.

2. Connecting to public Wi-Fi hotspots
A huge number of workers use wi-fi hotspots in order to send and receive work emails, or even to access company files and information. Whilst being able to work on the go might be good for employee productivity, using public wi-fi is not without cybersecurity risks. Most notably, public wi-fi networks can be used by cybercriminals to eavesdrop on communications, steal files and distribute malware.

3. Surfing the web
Cybercriminals will often look for ways to compromise reputable and popular websites in order to distribute malware or intercept communications. Employees browsing the web need to be extremely careful and avoid sharing details with sites that don’t display a padlock, which indicates connections to the site are encrypted.

In so-called watering hole attacks, hackers will purposely seek to compromise websites that an organization’s employees are known to visit regularly. NotPetya, ransomware believed to have originated in the Ukraine and spread via a compromised government website, is one major example of this.

Check out more on cybersecurity from Octane.

4. Downloading unsafe content
Employees need to take serious care when they download files or applications. The issue here is not only that downloads can contain malware, but they can also unintentionally introduce new vulnerabilities that attackers may seek to exploit. Open-source software can be particularly vulnerable to compromise owing to the fact that it is widely used and that cybersecurity is often not a high priority of developers.

5. Practicing poor password security
Despite constant warnings about the risks of poor password security, employees are still routinely failing to practice strong hygiene in this area. There are actually many reasons for this—and it’s not just because users are lazy or have too many accounts to manage. In some instances, businesses are actually encouraging poor practices by asking employees to share credentials, in order to reduce the need to purchase additional licenses for software.

6. Falling foul of phishing scams
Unfortunately, it is still common for individuals to fall for phishing emails. Recent statistics reveal that 1 in every 99 emails is a phishing attack which makes them a real danger to businesses. If employees aren’t able to recognize phishing attempts, they can end up inadvertently disclosing sensitive information, transferring payments for goods and services to unintended recipients, and installing malware.

7. Collating Dark Data
Dark data is information that is collected by businesses, but is forgotten about and now has a clear owner. Such information could include old emails, versions of documents, meeting minutes and customer or supplier information.

Dark data can be extremely valuable to cybercriminals. Some employee practices, such as CCing too many people on emails, are actually contributing to the problem of businesses being able to secure and manage it.

How to mitigate employee security risks
To mitigate the security risks and challenges posed by employees to your business, it’s important to foster a strong security culture. Educate staff about maintaining good cyber hygiene as well as how to spot the latest phishing scams

It’s also important to take practical steps to protectively monitor networks and endpoints. Mistakes will happen so having people and technology to swiftly detect and respond before they can develop can be extremely important. If your organization lacks security resources, then a 24/7 outsourced managed detection and response service is a great option to quickly bolster the protection of your business.

Entrepreneur’s Organization is a global network of over 13,000 business owners. Learn how EO New Jersey helps over 100 business owners grow.

Annie Button is a writer who specializes in business growth and development. Annie shares her experiences and knowledge through blog posts in a variety of publications. 

This post was originally published on the EO Global Octane Blog.

7 Tips for Incorporating New Business Development into Your Busy Schedule

Entrepreneur’s Organization is a global network of over 13,000 business owners. Learn how EO New Jersey helps over 100 business owners grow.

By Caryn Kopp, an EO New Jersey member and Chief Door Opener of Kopp Consulting. A version of this article originally appeared on the website of Kopp Consulting

Finding time for new business development can be difficult for many entrepreneurs. There always seems to be another priority or a pressing task. Not making the time to pursue new business, however, is a sure-fire way to an empty pipeline and slow sales.

Don’t stall your growth. Here are 10 tips for fitting new business development into your busy schedule.

1. Schedule a time for new business on your calendar. Next, go one step further and consider that time as firm as a meeting with a new prospect. You would never cancel one of those! First thing in the morning is best, before you check your e-mail or listen to voicemail. It can be difficult to break away later on.

2. End your workday an hour early two times a week to allow for business development tasks during that time.

3. As you focus on business development tasks and research, set your phone to “do not disturb.” Post a “do not disturb” sign on your door to ward off interruptions. Turn off your e-mail and your cell phone. Treat this precious time as you would a meeting.

4. Before canceling your biz-dev time for an “emergency,” ask yourself if this new priority truly needs to be handled by you right now. Can it wait for 60 minutes? Can it be addressed by one of your team members? If the answer is no and you must handle the emergency, reschedule a time for biz dev promptly.

5. Aim for 60 minutes, two times a week. If that seems impossible, begin with 30 minutes. Or even 15 minutes. If even 10 minutes seems impossible, refer to number seven below.

6. Limit your prospect list. Pick 10 of your most promising contacts and focus on them. Replace each one as you get through to them.

7. If you try to incorporate these tips and find it impossible, you might want to rethink your desire to earn money and run a company. Business development is the lifeline of an organization and worth your regular attention.

Entrepreneur’s Organization is a global network of over 13,000 business owners. Learn how EO New Jersey helps over 100 business owners grow.

Caryn Kopp is the Managing Director and Chief Door Opener of Kopp Consulting, LLC. Her company’s Door Opener Service helps clients secure initial meetings with high-level, hard-to-reach decision-makers. Caryn’s team also helps clients prepare for important prospect meetings and close sales sooner. Kopp is the author of The Path To The Cash.

This post was originally published on the EO Global Octane Blog.

How Do You Create a Best Place to Work?

Entrepreneur’s Organization is a global network of over 13,000 business owners. Learn how EO New Jersey helps over 100 business owners grow.

Robert Glazer is a member of EO Boston and the CEO of Acceleration Partners, a leading independent affiliate management agency with 160 employees.

The company was honored with Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Award, recognizing the Best Places to Work in 2019. The Employees’ Choice Awards program relies solely on the input of employees, who elect to provide feedback on their jobs, work environments and companies via Glassdoor.

We recently asked Bob Glazer about the award and what contributes to making a “Best Place to Work.”
What is most striking about the Glassdoor acknowledgment is that it comes from employees. Can you tell us what it means to you?

We love hearing from our employees and really value their feedback which makes this acknowledgment all the more special. This honor affirms the company culture we’ve created and is made possible by our team that works day in and day out to make Acceleration Partners an amazing place to work.

In too many growing organizations, growth and financial success come at the cost of culture and employee satisfaction. Can you identify a few keys to balancing both aspects of a business? 

Acceleration Partners’ core values drive our company culture; they help determine who we hire, who we partner with, and how we conduct our daily business. In combination with our strong set of core values, we offer employees flexibility to pursue both meaningful work and the people and activities they find fulfilling in their personal lives. With 160 remote workers around the world, we’ve made work-life integration a priority. We believe this is key to creating a high-performing and relationship-oriented workforce that is motivated both inside and outside of work. It’s a framework we call Capacity Building.

Can you identify the essential ingredients for being a “Best Place to Work”?

First and foremost, what makes Acceleration Partners a best place to work great is our people. They truly exemplify our culture and are a big reason why people are drawn to work here.

One of the most important aspects of our culture is authenticity. In far too many companies today, there is a disconnect between what is talked about and the reality of their day to day work and that starts with the leader. We try to create alignment between what we think, what we say, and what we do at Acceleration Partners and find people who share our values and vision. We have a differentiated point of view and realize that we can’t be all things to all people.

The people who love working here feel that alignment and integrity. Acceleration Partners is not for everyone, but I think anyone who realized it wasn’t the right choice would say that we are consistent and it just wasn’t the right place for them. I actually hope that why people love Acceleration Partners or find it not a fit are actually one and the same.

What kind of organizational structures or programs do you have in place to support employee satisfaction and culture?

One of our key cultural programs is our annual Acceleration Partners Summit, a four-day event filled with learning, socializing, team building activities and celebration for all we’ve accomplished as individuals and as a company throughout the year.

Prior to the last two Summits, we asked employees about their dreams and goals. I read every submission and surprised a group of people each year by making those dreams come true. These included making a financial contribution to a team member’s family to help him and his spouse realize their dream of adopting a child to reconnecting a team member living in London with a close cousin who had moved to Australia by flying her over to the UK for a visit.

How do you measure employee engagement or satisfaction? 

Every week we send out a question to team members via TINYpulse to receive anonymous feedback on a variety of topics. TINYpulse makes it easy to assess how our team feels about everything from their job and team members to what they’d like to see from the company’s leadership team as well as express any concerns they might have. This allows our leadership team to be in touch with the pulse of the organization and stay abreast of any issues.

We also measure an annual employee net promoter score and host regular town halls and team meetings where we ask for questions and feedback.

Because the Glassdoor award comes from employees’ reviews, we also asked Acceleration Partners’ staff to share what makes the company a great place to work.

“Acceleration Partners has a positive and collaborative work environment. Leadership is transparent and trusts its employees. There is a great amount of flexibility and great work-life balance.”

“The organization is growing exponentially and there’s a lot of opportunity for advancement and growth within positions. You’re encouraged to challenge yourself daily and be uncomfortable at times, knowing these challenges are helping you excel. I’ve discovered a passion that I didn’t know I had and would not have been given the opportunity to discover if it had not been for my position here.”

“Transparent leadership, strong work/life integration, a trustworthy community who care about your career growth.”

“Acceleration Partners is led by an honest and transparent leadership team, held together by awesome and amazingly talented people, and offers a flexible as well as an empowering work environment.”

“It is truly an honor to work with a leader whose vision is to not only encourage and inspire the digital marketing industry to be performance-based but who also wants to change the work-life paradigm so employees can feel fulfilled both inside and outside of work.”

Entrepreneur’s Organization is a global network of over 13,000 business owners. Learn how EO New Jersey helps over 100 business owners grow.

This post was originally published on the EO Global Octane Blog.

How to Give Back Through Your Business

Entrepreneur’s Organization is a global network of over 13,000 business owners. Learn how EO New Jersey helps over 100 business owners grow.

Have you ever wished for a way to give back that’s integrated with your life and your work?

EO Oklahoma City member Piyush Patel has figured out how to do just this. He has managed to seamlessly weave charity into his life and businesses through social entrepreneurship, employee volunteer programs and much more.

Piyush offers these tips on how to prioritize and embrace giving during the course of your entrepreneurial journey.

1. Identify the issue you are passionate about—and be open to unexpected opportunities to fulfill your giving goals

Piyush’s background is in elementary education. So, he has three areas of focus for giving: education, children and mothers. In fact, as the keynote speaker at the University of Oklahoma graduation in 2017, Piyush paid off one of the graduate’s student debts.

“When I joined EO almost 10 years ago, my Forum did an activity around bucket lists. We had different categories and one was philanthropy. I wrote down, ‘Put a stranger through college.’ I had no idea how I was going to even do something like that. However, when I was asked to give the commencement speech, just a few days before the speech I walked out of the shower and told my wife this would be a perfect time to accomplish that bucket list item.”

2. Create sustainable giving through social entrepreneurship

One-off giving opportunities make a mark, but ongoing giving amplifies your impact. You can even create self-sustaining giving. Consider Piyush’s Conclusion Wine company, a social entrepreneurial venture that just keeps giving.

“I was lucky enough to sell my previous company for a large exit and instead of moving to the beach we decided to start a number of new companies. The winery is our social venture where we craft an amazing wine that is then sold at a high price and instead of keeping the money we donate all of it to a non-profit each year,” he explains.

Piyush suggests you can also make giving part of an existing company through the work you are doing, “My previous company, Digital-Tutors, provided advanced technical education to many countries where this education was not even imaginable.”

3. Acknowledge how giving benefits you

Giving is good for you, and it’s OK to admit it. Piyush explains that charity fulfills his deep need to be part of something bigger, bonds our employees and is simply the right thing to do.

4. Lead by example

Make your impact grow exponentially by cultivating a giving culture in your business. How? Lead by example.

“It has to start with you, the leader,” Piyush says. “I wove giving into my company with things like volunteering the day before the Christmas holiday (after all, no work is getting done on that day anyway), creating a supply drive to get school supplies for kids (I would match all donations), or packing food at the food bank as a team-building exercise.”

Not only are you and your team fulfilling a charitable goal, you’re also supporting team growth. Piyush explains, “In my experience, creating these shared experiences outside of the office has a huge impact in how people treat each other in the office. They see their roles as bigger than themselves and see how their impact in the community matters.”

Piyush’s book, Lead Your Tribe, Love Your Work: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Creating a Culture that Matters, reinforces how to lead by example by giving to your employees.

“The book—as well as my speaking events—are really focused on how to transform the lives of your employees. I want to teach other leaders and founders how to not only reach your business goals but also transform the lives of the people who you trust the most to reach those goals. I feel we have a duty to create belonging, affirmation and meaning for our employees and I love teaching others how to do this,” he says.

5. Revisit your inspiration

It can be challenging to stay motivated in your giving, especially if like Piyush, you have been actively participating in charity from a very young age. He began his giving efforts as a teen, as the only male candy striper at a local hospital.

Wherever you find your inspiration, make sure it is a place or person that you can always look back on. Refer back to it when you need to replenish your giving tank.

6. Start small, as long as you start

Still not sure where to start? Piyush also reminds us that charity exists in small and simple everyday acts of kindness.

“In each of our wine bottles, the cork features a message with a random act of kindness. One day, the one I had in my pocket was ‘Buy a Stranger a Cup of Coffee.’ I was getting a Starbucks coffee and while waiting in line, a guy cut to the front and then looked at me since I was next. You could cut the tension. Who would go next?

“I stepped up, put in my order and then turned around to ask him what he was drinking. I paid for his coffee and he looked at me with a weird look on his face. Here he was cutting in front of me and now I’m buying his coffee? I gave him my cork and told him to pass it on to the next person. Not only did he shake my hand and say sorry, but when he left he made it a point to say goodbye. I know this is super simple, but in that moment he transformed from a rushed, unhappy person to a thankful and grateful person. I have to think he had a better day because of that small act.”

Entrepreneur’s Organization is a global network of over 13,000 business owners. Learn how EO New Jersey helps over 100 business owners grow.

Piyush Patel‘s commitment to sustainable giving and advancing educational opportunities for all has earned him a nomination for EO Global Citizen of the Year.

This post was originally published on the EO Global Octane Blog.

Considering Expanding Your Business? 3 Tips on How to Approach It

Entrepreneur’s Organization is a global network of over 13,000 business owners. Learn how EO New Jersey helps over 100 business owners grow.

Written by Justin Song, a senior research analyst at LendingTree where he has experience covering topics such as personal loans and small business lending.

Making smart decisions for your company is both your privilege and responsibility as a business owner. Chances are, when everything is running smoothly, you still see room for growth and want to explore how you can do so with as little risk to your current processes as possible. Knowing when to be in growth mode and when to hold back is a skill you develop as you become a seasoned entrepreneur. Below are some items to consider when deciding if an expansion if worthwhile.

1. Do you have enough cash?

One problem with many businesses is that they are cash poor. Even if business is booming, if you’re over-extended to business creditors and your debt payments are eating into your cash reserves, then you could be headed into the red even as sales soar.

You definitely don’t want this to happen to you, but there are usually ways to correct this course. First, lower your fixed expenses wherever possible. Do you need a fancy office, or can you get into a cheaper lease somewhere else?

Next, examine your debt: Are you paying too much interest? Is your debt negatively impacting your credit score to the point that you might be denied funding in the future (for reference, a credit score of 660 and above will give you the best chance to qualify for a loan).

Make sure you compare business loan terms before taking on any new business debt. Also, be sure to collect on any outstanding invoices. Consider shortening your due dates to a net-30 or net-15 to make sure you have more cash on hand.

2. Where in the business lifecycle are you?

Businesses often grow on an S-curve and there are three general stages of development—startup, midsize and full grown. Within these stages, you can group companies in different categories based on the number of employees, revenue or both. In between growth stages can be the most challenging time for expansion — say when a company is moving from three to eight employees. Another key growth stage is moving from a company of 12 to 40 employees.

These changes represent such fundamental shifts in how companies operate that business leaders often can’t navigate the challenges. So, before you start growing, you need to consider the size of your company, where you are in the life cycle, and how you’re going to efficiently get from point A to point B without suffering in between.

Perhaps most important of all, as your organization grows to each new stage in the life cycle, it’s your job as a leader to communicate those changes to everyone inside the organization, which can be more difficult to do the more employees you have Data show that 45.6 percent of employees ignore emails at work, so make sure before you start growing that you have a scalable communications plan in place to take all your employees along for the ride with you.

3. Can you handle new business costs?

Do you foresee new costs that you’ll have to budget for? Think about overhead costs such as salaries and office space as well as any regulatory costs for new markets or the cost of research and development of a new product.

Because you don’t want to burn through your cash while trying to grow your business, you need to handle the expense considerations of scaling carefully. Improve your processes to shorten the cycle of your business so that you can make cash faster. If it normally takes you two months to find a prospect, land a customer, invoice, and collect payment, look at every step along the way and try to find ways to shorten each time period.

Doing this will help you have more cash on hand at any given time so that you can handle the expenses of growth. You’ll need to grow with your industry, which is why you can get really left behind if you find yourself in a position in which your competitors can handle the cost of pursuing new business opportunities and you can’t.

Entrepreneur’s Organization is a global network of over 13,000 business owners. Learn how EO New Jersey helps over 100 business owners grow.

This post was originally published on the EO Global Octane Blog.

Here Are Five Ways to Make Your Organizational Chart More Useful

Entrepreneur’s Organization is a global network of over 13,000 business owners. Learn how EO New Jersey helps over 100 business owners grow.

Most organizational charts end up taped to break room walls and forgotten. Bruce Eckfeldt shares how to make yours a valuable tool for everyone in your company.

Every employee manual I’ve seen contains an org chart that shows who is in charge and who reports to whom. Usually, the names of executive employees and managers are in boxes with connectors cascading down to the front lines of the organization.

Many of those charts are out of date. There may be names that have changed or reporting lines that are no longer relevant. There could even be entire departments that have been removed or added.

The problem with these charts is that they are trying to capture the wrong information and are not being used correctly. Here are six things that I focus on when coaching leadership teams on creating organizational charts in order to make them a useful and productive tool for everyone in the company.

1. Focus on functions.

The main purpose of an organizational chart is to show the functional divisions of a company and how they work together. Your organizational chart is a map for how to navigate your business. A good chart will tell employees who needs to be aware of specific issues and information.

At a basic level, a good chart shows the vertical divisions between departmental functions and horizontal levels of reporting and management structure. An organizational chart will clarify questions like “is shipping part of operations or customer service?” and “do the software developers report to head of product or head of technology?”

Done well, a chart should clearly indicate who is on the executive team, who the middle managers are, and who is handling the front line execution.

2. Ditch the names.

I always suggest erasing all of the names on the chart. It is more important to see the functional roles and how they report and relate to one another. Names change quickly, but roles do not.

If you prefer to use names, make a separate table listing names and contact information by role or put the name in small print under the functional role. I suggest you include a phone number or email and the date they took on the role. Pro tip: it is great to see a history of the roles a person has filled and when they began each.

3. Support the business.

A well-designed organization and well-written organizational chart should show how the employees support the business operations. The departments and role names should relate to the nature of the business and operational model.

For example, a manufacturer will have departments and roles in supply management, manufacturing, facilities, and shipping. A technology SAS company will have marketing, product design, software development, and dev-ops. Don’t just copy a generic organizational chart from a textbook. It is important to design one that truly supports your business model and operations.

4. Indicate performance metrics.

I like to add performance metrics to each of the key roles in an organizational chart. I look at one to three of the core measures of success and suggest one leading indicator and one lagging indicator. The leading indicator measures the activities and tasks and the lagging indicator measures the outputs and outcomes.

For example, for a director of sales, I will list metrics such as pitch meetings or proposals for leading indicators, and metrics such as conversion rates and closed sales dollars per week as indicators of output.

5. Align your core processes.

In addition to functional divisions between departments, you can also map out your core processes across the horizontal access and indicate who is accountable and involved in each process. The goal here is to recognize that some processes cut across the functional division of the company and someone needs to be responsible for aligning and coordinating activities to ensure the process is successful.

Safety is a great example of a cross-cutting process. HR must ensure people are trained properly, facilities need to make sure that the physical environment is safe, and operations must ensure that safety measures are backed into the standard operating procedures.

6. Define your terms.

Your organizational chart is a map of your business. It is a tool that any employee can use to learn who to go to with questions, key information, and concerns. In order to do this well, people need to use the same language to refer to roles and departments.

For example, if some people call it lead generation and others call it marketing it will get confusing. Also, you want to make sure that your titles are consistent between departments. Don’t label someone as director of product development and call them sales director in another department.

These suggestions will help make your organizational chart a living, breathing tool for helping people understand and manage the company structure. Most importantly, keep your organizational chart updated frequently and make sure everyone has access to the most current version.

Entrepreneur’s Organization is a global network of over 13,000 business owners. Learn how EO New Jersey helps over 100 business owners grow.

Bruce Eckfeldt is the founder of  Eckfeldt & Associates. A version of this article originally appeared on his blog.  

EO is a collection of like-minded entrepreneurs focused on business growth, personal development and community engagement. Learn what 14,000+ entrepreneurs are experiencing as members of EO.

This post was originally published on the EO Global Octane Blog.

Top 10 Tips for Business Instagram Accounts

Entrepreneur’s Organization is a global network of over 13,000 business owners. Learn how EO New Jersey helps over 100 business owners grow.

Instagram has become a staple in the marketing toolkit for businesses. To make the most of your Instagram presence, we’re sharing tips from The Bradford Group, EO member Jeff Bradford’s marketing agency.

1. Set SMART goals.

Instagram goals are a crucial component of success. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Set SMART goals to consistently generate traffic and website clicks.

2. Create a BUSINESS profile.

Establish your Instagram as a business profile to define yourself as a company. Plus, it provided the ability to use Instagram’s analytics and ads. Business profiles also allow a connection to your Facebook business page, which completes your online presence.

3. Use ALL of Instagram’s features.

Instagram allows you to use highlight reels, IGTV, stories and posts on your feed. Integrate all of these features to ensure you are ranking high on the platform’s algorithm. Together, they establish a complete profile that looks authentic and professional.

4. Hashtags are #ESSENTIAL.

Hashtags are crucial for reaching new audience members in your company’s niche. For example: marketing professionals may use hashtags like #NashvilleMarketing and #SocialMediaMarketing to reach their community, or business professionals may search those hashtags when looking for a marketing team. The hashtags can lead potential clients to the related Instagram profile so the prospects can learn more about the company.

5. Stay ACTIVE and schedule posts.

Instagram can often get put on the back-burner for a company, and it can be challenging to stay active on your account. Use a program like Hootsuite to bulk-schedule your posts and relieve the pressure of taking time to post 3-5 times per week. Once your content is uploaded, this program handles the post for you!

6. ENGAGE with your followers and build a community.

Comment and like others’ posts to engage and connect with your followers and your community. This will not only help you gain new followers, but you will also gain loyalty from your current ones.

7. SEARCH for influencers and similar brands.

Identify influencers who can help advertise and endorse your products. Research similar brands on Instagram to help you find your particular niche and determine the most logical way for your company to capitalize on social media.

8. Post at peak ENGAGEMENT hour.

Post at the correct time to help your company generate the highest level of engagement and likes for your social media content.

9. Use a CALL TO ACTION that leads to website clicks.

A call to action (CTA) will direct your reader to perform a specific task, such as visiting your website or filling out a form. CTAs can take your audience from being social media viewers to blog readers, which will eventually lead them to the product or service you offer. Instagram allows only one link per profile so, plug a Linktree into your bio to properly optimize your CTAs.

10. Analyze your ANALYTICS.

Last, but definitely not least, monitor analytics and readjust. Adapt your post schedule, ad campaigns and types of posts to gain Instagram traction. In order to continue your growth, track your current engagement to see what’s most effective. Instagram business profiles have a discovery section that shows your most popular to your least popular post. Discover what is most successful and create more of this kind of content.

Don’t let the endless features of Instagram overwhelm you. Used wisely, it can be a powerful tool to build your brand, showcase your value and connect with potential customers. By curating your content and following our top ten tips you are bound for Instagram success. Now, what are you waiting for? Start snapping and sharing!

Entrepreneur’s Organization is a global network of over 13,000 business owners. Learn how EO New Jersey helps over 100 business owners grow.

This post was originally published on the EO Global Octane Blog.

Why Entrepreneurs Must Harness the Power of Sleep

Entrepreneur’s Organization is a global network of over 13,000 business owners. Learn how EO New Jersey helps over 100 business owners grow.

Contributed by Giles Watkins, coach, mentor and author of Positive Sleep: A Holistic Approach To Resolve Sleep Issues and Transform Your Life

The words “sleep” and “entrepreneur” may seem like strange bedfellows unless you are running a start-up in areas such as making mattresses or developing a new Sleep app. However sleep is a wonderful, natural and free resource that anyone starting or running a business must draw on optimally to be the best they can be for their customers, colleagues, stakeholders and loved ones.

Way too often, in my opinion, there is an emphasis on the downside of not getting enough quality sleep. Surely it’s far better to emphasize the many benefits of getting enough sleep. So whilst I share the agony of a decade of my own sleeping problems in my book Positive Sleep, my emphasis is more on the life-changing effects of getting the sleep you need.

So what is enough sleep? How can sleep help you? Are there any tips that can really help you sleep better? Sleep science itself is really only about 100 years old, and multiple studies over that time show that the vast majority of us need 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. This need not necessarily be in one go, so the opportunity for a nap (NASA recommends 26 minutes!), ideally before 3 pm can truly help us catch up on our rest during the day.

One part of us that disproportionately benefits from being well-rested is the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which directs our executive functions—areas such as problem-solving, reasoning, organization, planning and carrying out plans.

How Sleep Benefits Your Professional Performance

Four qualities an entrepreneur needs which are especially enhanced by good sleep are:

  • Results orientation: Critically linked to attention and concentration, this requires the ability to both stay focused on the details and also see the bigger picture.
  • Solving problems effectively: The mental capacities supporting this and strongly affected by sleep are creativity, development of insight and pattern recognition. A good night’s sleep is especially useful in helping spot shortcuts to solving problems.
  • Seeking different perspectives: The mental capacities of learning (and willingness to learn), memory and decision-making all require quality and a good quantity of sleep to enable you to seek different perspectives. Weighing options, plus avoiding tunnel vision and bias, are vital to making the best decisions possible.
  • Supporting others: This vital ability requires you first have some understanding of the other person. Non-verbal queues through facial expressions or tone of voice are key. When sleep-deprived, we are more likely to misread these cues.

And it’s not just the mental side of running a business that can be boosted by being better rested. We physically need the regeneration that getting enough sleep provides. Entrepreneurs can learn a lot from performance athletes in this regard. For example:

  • Improved reaction times: Research has shown that properly rested people getting an average of 7.5 hours of sleep a day can have reaction times two to three times faster than the sleep-deprived.
  • Longer careers: Roger Federer is famous for sleeping about 9 hours a night, even hiring a separate house for his family at Wimbledon so he’s not woken up by the kids. And a study of Major League Baseball showed an almost linear correlation between regular and plentiful sleep to performance and career length.
  • Better accuracy and faster sprint times: This has been observed in basketball, swimming plus tennis among other sports. And maybe cheetahs can teach us something, too. Among the fastest animals on the planet, traveling from 0-60 mph in about three seconds, they typically sleep 18 hours a day.
How to Sleep Better Every Night

So what can busy entrepreneurs do about getting more sleep? Here are five suggestions that have worked for me in my own “busyness” life and helped to transform the way I feel every day.

  1. Carefully manage (or quit) the caffeine! I was a seven-espressos-a-day man when I quit in 2015. And what I realized after I quit was how much coffee had interfered with my sleep. Caffeine can be found in all black and green teas and many energy drinks. Remember also that “decaffeinated” merely means less caffeine, not no caffeine! Cutting down how much you take in and avoiding it after 2 pm typically helps people sleep better.
  2. Exercise. Fitting in some form of exercise regularly has been shown to help you sleep better. Finding ways to introduce more walking into your daily routine can really help. And tracking what you do via an app provides a great sense of satisfaction to many.
  3. “Bookend” your night. Give yourself enough time (ideally one hour at least) at the start and end of the day to tidy up, relax, wash, read and chat. Allowing yourself to “let the day out” and wind down helps to quiet your mind. By the same token, it takes our brains some time to warm up in the morning so try respecting this.
  4. Avoid smartphones and electronic tablets. Late at night and early in the morning it’s a great idea to avoid the blue light from (and contents of) these screens. Linked to number 3 above, you give yourself a much better chance of sleep this way.
  5. Take magnesium. This element has many properties, one of which is to support better sleep. We don’t generate it naturally in our bodies so need to ingest magnesium in some way. Whilst this can be through magnesium tablets or foods such as broccoli, the most efficient way is through the skin. Magnesium spray is available if a bath in Epsom salts or bath oil rich in magnesium is not available.

I’ll leave the last word to a former colleague of mine, Tanya Kabalin. Tanya hails from a family of business owners and founded her own, Olakira, after heading up Shell’s Downstream business in South Africa. She writes, “I believe the leaders who make the greatest impact are those who consciously create time, space and energy to master the art of managing the immediate pressures of ‘now’ whilst imagining and building the ‘new.’ And this can’t be done without good health and enough rest. Great leaders know this and work deliberately hard to achieve it.”

Entrepreneur’s Organization is a global network of over 13,000 business owners. Learn how EO New Jersey helps over 100 business owners grow.

Giles Watkins, author of Positive Sleep: A Holistic Approach To Resolve Sleep Issues and Transform Your Life, is a coach and mentor with both Aberkyn and Vistage. Watkins has over 30 years of global business and general management experience in enabling decision-makers to solve problems, achieve balance, deliver superior results and sleep better at night. For more information please visit

This post was originally published on the EO Global Octane Blog.

How to Launch a Podcast: Advice for Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneur’s Organization is a global network of over 13,000 business owners. Learn how EO New Jersey helps over 100 business owners grow.

In the second article in our series about podcasts, we talk more with two EO members who launched online audio shows in 2019. In part one, we covered three questions to answer before you launch

Sarah Bartholomeusz is a member of the EO Adelaide chapter and founder of You Legal, a law firm that provides tailored corporate and commercial legal solutions. Her podcast, Accountants on Purpose, features interviews with accounting industry professionals.

Erik Olson is a member of EO Southeast Virginia and the founder and CEO of Array Digital, a website design and digital marketing agency. He launched his daily Journey to $100 Million podcast in early 2019.


You may be surprised to learn that the first podcast dates back to 2004, when former MTV video jockey Adam Curry and software developer Dave Winer developed what is largely considered the first podcast. According to at least one version of the story, Curry created a program called iPodder. It let him download Internet radio broadcasts to his iPod.

In the last three years, however, podcasting has taken over the digital content sphere and become a marketing mainstay for many organizations.

Erik Olson, founder and CEO of Array Digital and cohost of the Journey to $100 Million podcast credits the popularity of podcasts to three elements:

  1. An increased library of great content. There is something for everyone in every genre.
  2. iPhones have come built-in with podcasting apps for years. Additionally, Android phones are starting to ship with podcasting apps by default. That makes it easier than ever to discover podcasts.
  3. Technology has come a long way. As bandwidth on mobile devices become faster and cheaper, it is now easier and more convenient to stream a podcast while on the go. Additionally, connecting your mobile device to your car has become simpler. Plus, cordless earbuds, which only became prominent in the marketplace a few years ago, make it more convenient to listen while exercising.

Sarah Bartholomeusz, founder of You Legal and host of Accountants on Purpose, says, “be prepared to dedicate a lot of time to a project like this. It takes a lot of work to produce a show and to keep it going. There are a lot of elements to consider and a lot of moving parts. If you are up to the challenge though, I say go for it!”

Olson advises, “Don’t hesitate. If you’ve been thinking about launching a podcast for a while, then stop thinking about it and start recording. Be sure to pick a topic that you’re passionate about. You’ll be talking about it a lot, so you don’t want to fake passion if it’s not there.”


Not every smart and accomplished person will make for a great podcast. If you opt for an interview-style podcast, be sure to thoroughly vet your guests.

Beyond essential competency, you’ll want to be sure the person can technically connect with you—either in your studio or remotely.

Most importantly, look for chemistry in your conversation. While you don’t have to share the same outlook or opinions, you should be able to have a respectful, engaging and informed conversation.

“I like to think I am in touch with the Australian business community and as such, I already had a long list of people that I felt would be the perfect fit for the show,” Bartholomeusz shares. “I have seen these people in action and I know what they have contributed to the business world, their clients and the world in general.”


Give yourself plenty of time to plan, prep and practice.

“The first episode I recorded was very awkward, and it never got released,” shares Olson. “While recording that episode I realized I needed to refine the concept. I still didn’t know exactly what I would talk about in the whole series, or why anyone would listen. From that first test recording I also realized that I did not want to talk about marketing as much as I wanted to talk about entrepreneurialism.”

Olson adds another p-word to his tips: promote. “Keep in mind how you will market your podcast. You likely won’t have the bandwidth or desire to do it all yourself. Have someone on your current team do it, or hire an agency to help you. But know that you have to promote it or it will be very slow to gain traction. Simply being on the podcasting platforms is not enough.”

Bartholomeusz agrees that preparation is key. “The unexpected challenge was how much is actually involved in getting the production right and actually going live.” Before setting your go-live date, run through the planning, recording, production and posting process.

Entrepreneur’s Organization is a global network of over 13,000 business owners. Learn how EO New Jersey helps over 100 business owners grow.

This post was originally published on the EO Global Octane Blog.

B2B Game Changers: How to Discover a Distinct Advantage and Become a Market Leader

Entrepreneur’s Organization is a global network of over 13,000 business owners. Learn how EO New Jersey helps over 100 business owners grow.

Tim Hamilton, an EO member in Austin, is founder and CEO of Praxent, a custom software and web app development firm that has been named for three consecutive years to the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in the US, most recently as #2,118 on the 2019 list.

In part 1 of this article, Tim discussed the false assumptions driving B2B innovations that failIn this post, Tim offers B2B companies a strategy for creating digital products around customer experience gaps in their industries:

B2B companies today have a strong desire to create better digital solutions for their buyers, recognizing innovative customer experience (CX) as a key ingredient to success in current markets. While the desire and intention to create disruptive digital customer experiences grows, however, the majority of B2B companies struggle to deliver.

According to Accenture, 80 percent of B2B companies try to innovate around CX, but fail to generate a satisfactory return on investment. In all, billions of dollars are wasted on research and development of innovative ideas that never win new business.

What does it take to design innovative digital customer experiences that predictably win? The key is uncovering the false assumptions driving the failure of B2B innovation experiments. Find the truth behind what motivates customers to make purchases in a given industry, then innovate around those foundational realities.

Opportunities to Innovate: Addressing Challenging B2B Customer Experiences through Digital Products

When companies focus innovation primarily around the product or primarily around the customer, they end up creating customer experiences that fail to make much of a difference in people’s lives.

Understanding customers only provides a certain amount of value to the innovation process. While demographics, personas and psychographics may provide helpful information about customer preference, those things alone won’t point to the best opportunities for innovation.

Likewise, simply improving a product for the sake of improvement does not lead to any strategic, industry-altering innovation. The only way to create new products or product improvements that offer customers new and formerly unavailable value is to identify the “job to be done,” then remove friction from the customer experiences surrounding that “job to be done.”

>> Read part one of this article series for more about the “job to be done” paradigm shift and why it’s the key to B2B customer experience innovation.

4 Steps to Create a Digital Product Strategy for B2B CX Innovation

Creating a digital product strategy for innovative B2B customer experiences starts with understanding the “jobs to be done” by your product. From there, analysis will reveal the best opportunities for investing in innovative solutions that pay off both for you and your customers.

Step 1. Identify the Jobs to Be Done

To get started, conduct user interviews to dig deep into the “jobs” customers expect a product to complete. Don’t trust your assumptions about what motivates purchases. Make a list of what characterizes the customer situation before using the product and what would characterize success as a result of using the product. This gaps analysis will reveal one or more “jobs to be done.”

Step 2. List Customer Experience Gaps

Once you know the “jobs to be done,” you are one step closer to defining an innovative product concept that will predictably win. The next step is to create an exhaustive list of customer experience challenges people face as they seek help accomplishing the “job to be done.”

Customers “hire” products to complete jobs for them—their satisfaction is driven by how well the product completes that job, and how easily it does so. Successful CX innovations not only get customers from Point A to Point B, they also remove challenges B2B customers would otherwise experience.

Each “job to be done” from your gaps analysis will usually have three customer experience aspects: functional, emotional and social. Consciously or not, customers will measure satisfaction based on a product’s performance in each of these areas.

For instance, the amount of effort and time customers have to invest in using a product are considerable challenges associated with the functional aspects of a job. Fear of failure may accompany customers as they “hire” products–as may social constraints, such as meeting the expectations of others through the use of the product. These are both examples of emotional and social challenges that can represent friction between customers and the progress they wish to make by hiring a product.

Here are four questions to ask as you create your list of customer experience gaps:

1. What about the current product experience is holding customers back from making the progress they need to make?
2. What are the functional, emotional and social aspects of their goals and the current product experience?
3. What challenges and barriers are associated with the functional, emotional and social aspects of the job?
4. How can the product address these functional, emotional and social challenges throughout the customer journey?

Step 3. Create a Buyer Utility Map

The next step is to identify the innovation opportunities which exist behind every customer experience challenge on your list.

We recommend plotting obstacles and points of friction in a buyer utility map to visually track innovation opportunities along the buyer experience cycle. Simply enter each functional, emotional and social pain point under the stage where it falls in the buyer experience cycle:

● Purchase
● Delivery
● Product use
● Supplemental products
● Maintenance
● Disposal

As you create your buyer utility map, remember to take into account the various types of target customers your B2B company does business with. Each type of customer will have completely different pain points, so you’ll want to create unique buyer utility maps for each. An area for innovation may lie with one type of customer or both.

Step 4. Choose Your Focus

There are usually multiple pain points along a buyer experience cycle, which translate into multiple opportunities for investment.

To create an innovative product that generates a high return on investment, B2B companies will need to make strategic choices on where to focus their energy. This means making the harder choice of where to underperform their competitors. Avoid being decent at addressing all pain points, yet failing to be a market leader.

There may be countless CX challenges your product or service can address. But not all of them represent the best business opportunities. It’s essential to choose where to focus your energy, resources and budget. Ask yourself:

● Which areas are you most capable of addressing?
● In which areas will you choose to underperform?

Assess the results of your buyer utility map, and compare how your industry as a whole is investing in innovation to solve each of the pain points. If most competitors are already addressing certain pain points, it may behoove your company to focus on an opportunity that’s currently being ignored.

Change the B2B Game with Low-Risk Innovation

Innovation is often risky, but it doesn’t have to be. Join the 20 percent of B2B companies that successfully and predictably innovate to create customer experience value. Discover your distinct advantage through “jobs to be done” research, challenge-opportunity analysis, and plenty of first-hand market and user research to validate the concept before sinking money into a development project.

Entrepreneur’s Organization is a global network of over 13,000 business owners. Learn how EO New Jersey helps over 100 business owners grow.

Tim Hamilton is the founder and CEO of Praxent, a custom software and web app development firm. Praxent has been named for three consecutive years to the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in the US. Tim has been an EO member since 2011. Learn why industry leaders like Tim choose EO for their entrepreneurship network. 

This post was originally published on the EO Global Octane Blog.