Worried About Regulation? How to Prep Your Business Early for Lifelong Compliance

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 Jim Moran, founder and managing partner of ValueStreet Equity Partners.

Shortly after the European Union enacted its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), France’s regulators fined Google $57 million for violating the privacy law. That fine might not be a huge deal for a company the size of Google, but the message to the world was loud and clear: All companies will be held accountable for compliance.

GDPR only affects companies that do business within the EU, but it isn’t the only regulation that organizations need to worry about. When I ran an advertising business in the U.S., we faced just as much scrutiny for our advertising programs—and we paid a nominal fine for not knowing the applicable laws ahead of time.

We also faced tax regulations from different state authorities that believed we owed them. Any internet brand that sells across state lines must grapple with this issue until the federal government standardizes digital taxation. We got our feet under us eventually; more importantly, we learned how to succeed in environments designed to regulate most of what we do.

The Biggest Regulation Challenges Come Early

Compliance is essential at any stage of your business’s development, but learning how to comply is most important in the early stages. You don’t know what you don’t know, and it’s easy to get stuck in a difficult situation. Even if you achieve compliance, most regulatory bodies can still hold you accountable for past incidents of noncompliance.

On top of legal requirements, compliance is in high demand. According to a 2018 Axios poll, more than 55 percent of Americans worry that the government will not do enough to regulate tech companies. Despite this fear, companies that do business in more than one state already have to submit reports to each of those states.

As more companies move online, regulators will continue to crack down on standardizing how these businesses sell products, store information, and tax their customers. The ability to navigate this tangled web of regulations will be an important skill moving forward, and these three tips can help you get started:

1. Hit the legal books.
To be in full compliance, you must first fully understand the laws that govern your industry. Get ahead of regulatory scrutiny by studying the guidelines you should be abiding by. If you own an online business, that means advertising law, privacy law, and any other laws specific to your industry.

2. Document everything.
If you do come under scrutiny, the best remedy will be documented proof of your efforts. Document every measure you take to meet regulations as well as procedures you’ve implemented for dealing with issues. This is especially important if you store customer data and experience a breach.

3. Keep an ear to the ground.
Avoiding fines and violations is the key to compliance, but it isn’t the only measure of success. Monitor how the public perceives your business—especially in the case of bad press and negative reviews. Get ahead of the negativity early and set the record straight, but adjust your policies whenever negative feedback is valid.

You have enough on your plate as an entrepreneur that you shouldn’t have to worry about losing it all because of an unintentional rule violation. Regulations can be intense, but learning which ones matter to your business and how to successfully meet them is one of the most important skills for you to sharpen.

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

Jim Moran is the founder and managing partner of ValueStreet Equity Partners, a San Diego-based firm investing exclusively in small businesses. He lives in San Diego with his wife and son.

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

Should You Fear Outsourcing Your Software Development?

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

Yes. But only if you are not clear on how to make the correct partner selection. Written by Mike Scott, co-founder and CEO of NONA, a software development studio based in South Africa.

Software development is still a ‘dark art’ for many founders, executives and business decision-makers, and yet it can be absolutely critical to the success of your business.

Finding the right software developer is analogous to working with a car mechanic who we simply have to trust because we just don’t know enough about fixing cars.

There are countless horror stories of companies getting badly burnt by outsourced partners, but the reality is that many of those worst-case scenarios are avoidable if you’re deliberate during your assessment. I’ve created a list of the top concerns I’ve noticed—plus how to address them to give yourself a better chance of selecting the right partner.

Fear: I won’t have control of the process.

Ask for a detailed explanation of the processes that are used. Don’t accept vague answers or jargon.

Look specifically for:

How much visibility is provided into the process?
If needed, our organization will provide our clients access to our project management tools (Jira, in our case) so that they may see what tasks are moving through the system and how quickly. Transparency is key to a strong relationship, and this is an area that you should feel comfortable in before you make a partner selection.

How are communications are handled?
In some cases, we have a standup with our client every day, but never less than weekly. This is critical to working in an agile, engaged manner. Our company believes deeply in the need for a remote workforce—in fact, I am a remote CEO—but humans require a measure of face-to-face interaction so make sure that your partner builds at least some travel into the plan to invest in a more personal relationship. At the end of the day, software development is just people engaging with other people toward the common goal of building amazing things together!

How are different time zones handled?
We have clients all over the world and staff in varying time zones. Make sure that how the work is organized supports rich communication regardless of timezone differences. This doesn’t mean that 24-hour access is required, but it does mean that communication needs to be predictable.

Fear: Outsourcing equals poor quality.

There is a massive range of quality and cost in the outsourced market, and this is not necessarily a bad thing. What is most important is to be very clear about what you are looking for. If you are looking for a quickly bashed together prototype, then it’s probably fine to go with a low-cost outsourced dev team with large culture and language gaps. If, on the other hand, you are building something that forms part of your core business or product, then you want to be more selective and can expect to pay more. Consider the following:

How is the team contracted and composed?
We believe that team culture is essential when building high-performing software teams and we don’t believe that a strong culture can be achieved using freelancers or contract workers. It makes a big difference on the work culture to have every staff member a full-time employee, regardless of where in the world they might be.

Review the partner’s technical capabilities thoroughly.
Whether it’s a member of your team or a consultant, be sure to have a qualified individual assess the potential partner’s work. The review should include:

  • Technical interviews
  • Code sample reviews
  • Design / UX reviews
  • Examples of software that the partner has built that are already live and in use
  • Security and documentation principles and processes
  • Quality assurance
  • Continuous integration and deployment processes

This assessment doesn’t need to be drawn out and exhaustive, but it is very important that it happens. It’s easy for us to talk about how good we are, but we need to be able to provide objective proof and examples of that. This process will also give you a window into the communication style of the partner and how well they address and discuss complex topics.

Fear: How do I know that I will get the return on investment?

Continuous improvement and learning are essential and cost a lot.

Supporting developers and designers to stay on top of trends requires deliberate action. Find out what the partner is doing to ensure that their teams are continuously improving, learning and being the best at their craft.

At NONA, one of the things we do is to build in dedicated learning days. This culture of continuous improvement and knowledge-sharing results in improved team retention and higher team engagement. As you assess a potential, these are details you should care about because they translate into better developers and designers and therefore better quality product for you.

Building, leading, optimizing and retaining great software teams is very difficult.

You do have the option of building your own team in the early stages of your project and in some cases this can make sense but this is a very difficult thing to do well, here is why:

Good software developers are in huge demand and are very difficult and expensive to attract and retain. Make sure that you understand what the partner is doing to create the kind of culture and working environment to suit the kind of people that you want working on your project.

If you select the right partner, you will get far more value than just the knowledge of the team dedicated to your project. In our case, we deliberately create an environment for the knowledge to be shared between everyone which you benefit from as a client. In effect, clients are getting access to a very deep knowledge pool but without having to pay for and nurture the same.

Ask the partner how they go about cultivating knowledge sharing within their teams and how that translates to value for your project.

Fear: I’m worried that my application will be built and then I will be locked into that partner with no chance of taking this over internally, ever.

This does happen, but it shouldn’t.

It is wise to ask this question directly and to expect a solid and well-constructed answer.

We build software as well if not better than most internal teams, but we also acknowledge that there comes a time where our costs don’t make sense anymore. This is why we are very particular about the technologies that we use, making certain that we aren’t unintentionally binding a client to our organization.

When the time is right, we guide the client on building an internal team to take over from us. This has included helping with recruitment, interviews and, in some cases, playing the role of CTO for as long as required.

The point is that you want to find a partner that understands the business value of the different stages in the process and keeps your business needs in mind all the way through. Again, don’t take anyone’s word for it. Get references and case studies for objective proof.

So, working with an outsource software development partner can be a terrible idea—unless that partner is vetted thoroughly and carefully selected!

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

Mike Scott is a member of the EO Adelaide chapter and the co-founder of NONA. A serial entrepreneur, he is also a father, a blockchain enthusiast and an avid mountain biker, swimmer and trail runner. The original version of this article appeared on Medium.com

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

5 Critical Steps to Solving Your Business Problems for Good

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 Todd Smart, an experienced entrepreneur, the co-founder at Traction® Tools and an EO member since 1992. 

Are you a small business entrepreneur whose leadership team lacks cohesion or focus? Or maybe you’re running a start-up that can’t reach your next revenue goal? Is your company’s leadership team constantly seeing the same issues popping up?

You’re not alone! But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are best practices you can put into place to solve your toughest business problems—and solve them for good.

Ready to quit solving and re-solving the problems in your company? Follow these five steps and you’ll see a lasting change that can help take your company to the next level of growth.

1. Get to the Root Cause

Problems create pain, but the pain is just a symptom. Most leadership teams react to the pain and solve the symptom. They don’t take time to dig down and explore the real issues at root that are causing the pain.

Root cause analysis can be painful in itself, because you might discover dysfunctions or systemic issues that are messy and complicated. But solving those issues—really addressing the root causes—will end your pain and solve your problems for good.

2. Get Everyone’s Input

It’s not always easy to get to the root cause of an issue—especially if you have members of leadership that are hesitant to speak up. They may have an insight into the problem or the solution that no one else is considering.

People don’t speak up for a number of reasons: they aren’t confident, they don’t want to rock the boat or they don’t realize they have valuable insight.

Go around the room. Get everyone’s opinion before making a final decision.

3. Make It Safe to Speak

Before everyone speaks up, they need to feel like it’s safe to be open and honest. The team needs to trust one another enough to be vulnerable with dissenting opinions or criticisms. This means purposefully fostering a culture that makes it safe to speak—and walking the talk at every meeting.

Respect every opinion, thank people for their contributions, and always treat each opinion with thoughtful consideration.

4. Agree to the Agreement

Establish an agreement on your team, and hold each other accountable to it: agree to an agreement. In other words, you won’t always get 100 percent agreement on a solution, but you can all agree to support the decision that’s made. Make an upfront commitment that all of your leadership team members will stick together and be united in the agreements that are made to solve your company’s problems.

If you have a silent dissenter who doesn’t buy into a solution, you’re just asking for trouble later on—especially if the solution has a consequence. Your company can’t succeed if your leadership team is made up of individual kingdoms and agendas.

5. Use a Proven System

At our organization, we use a simple, holistic system—an operating system for our business—that helps us identify, discuss and solve issues for good. Our system is called the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS), but there are other business systems as well—such as Gazelles, Strategic Coach and Tony Robbins Business Results Training.

What’s most important is to find a proven system that fits your company—and stick to it! You don’t have to keep dealing with the same problems time and time again.

Start implementing these steps at your next leadership team meeting. Establish the ground rules, list your issues and dig in until you’ve solved the root cause. And start enjoying fewer business problems!

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

Todd Smart has been a founder, co-founder or partner in eight businesses since 1991. He is currently an EOS Implementer as well as a co-founder for Traction Tools software for EOS and a partner in OSM SolutionsFirst. Todd joined EO in 1992 as part of the founding group in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He later transferred to the Chicago chapter. 

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

Work On Your Business, Not In 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.

David Cusimano shares how he worked through the stages of hearing and actually doing a key piece of advice for business owners. 

If you’re like most business owners who often search for opportunities and business advice at odd hours of the night, you’ve probably come across the advice that you should spend more time “working on your business, not in your business.”

Hearing this advice, accepting it and actually living it are three distinct stages.

I hope my story of working through these stages can assist others in their quests to create scalable businesses they will one day be able to sell and, in turn, create a legacy for their families.

Within a few months of starting my first business (a flight training business), I was regularly working six to seven days per week and often ten to twelve hours per day.

Success was within reach, and like most young entrepreneurs, I thought if I could just squeeze another few hours into a week, I would obtain it. I fell into the E-Myth trap, as described in Michael Gerber’s book by the same name.

Fortunately, I had a client who had successfully navigated the same entrepreneurial journey I was embarking on. He was one of my flight students who had started his business from scratch and had grown it to over 50 locations in several states.

I’ll never forget our conversation spurred by my usual small business owner complaints. He asked, “David, do you want to be a flight instructor or do you want to grow a business?”

Puzzled as to why these would be mutually exclusive I answered, “I want to grow a business.”

“Stop flying airplanes and work every day to ensure you’re offering compelling value to the community in a way your competitors will have trouble duplicating. Take a week off and make sure your model is profitable and scalable before wasting any more time.”

“You’re crazy. I can’t take a week off. I’ll lose customers. You don’t understand.” I was telling the successful millionaire entrepreneur he was the one who didn’t understand!

He didn’t give up and beat this message into me for months.

Finally, after several months, I realized he was right. There weren’t any more hours in the day for me to work. While I had been flying airplanes every day in a business that had grown only slightly, my competitors (some of whom weren’t even pilots) had been busy growing businesses that were surpassing mine.

Even this epiphany didn’t drive me to immediate action. Entrusting all frontline client interactions to employees was terrifying to me.

But I finally did it. One momentous day I felt I was playing Russian roulette and removed myself from our list of active flight instructors.

It was the single most transformative day of my career. While our revenue and my personal income did take a hit for a few months, I quickly adjusted to my new, more valuable role and our business began an upward trajectory.

Several years later I reflect back on that experience. Creating a growing business is different than being a professional in a particular field. Both are equally noble career paths, but the daily work of each is drastically different.

Frustration arises if we attempt to continue the normal tasks of working in our field while we fool ourselves into thinking we are growing a business that will create value that lives beyond us. While industry knowledge and expertise are certainly valuable in excelling in a particular industry, unless we spend our days finding unique ways to organize our resources into a scalable platform for delivering compelling value for our customers, we’ve created a job-with-no-boss-and-a-few-employees for ourselves in our chosen field, not an independently valuable business.

Even those who have created organizations generating several tens of millions of dollars can have trouble selling for a desired price if they haven’t realized which path they are actually on. There is nothing wrong with this. Successful doctors, lawyers, plumbers and electricians do it all the time. They have rewarding careers and build nice retirements. But we must recognize that this is a different path from one on which we work “on our business” and create scalable value beyond ourselves that we will be able to realize upon an eventual exit from our 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.

David Cusimano has spent years working with small and middle-market private companies in capacities ranging from entrepreneur to an investment banker and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) advisor. His business advisory firm, Emerge Dynamics, is on a mission to improve the lives of business owners and their employees by increasing the market value and wealth transfer-ability of the private middle market around the world.

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

3 Ways to Apply an Agile Mindset

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 Sarah Fruy, director of online marketing at Pantheon Platform.

I admit it. I was a traditionalist. For a long time, I followed a one-step-at-a-time approach to project management.

All my efforts went to seeing the end product through—not knowing whether it would even be successful after launch. I would spend lengthy cycles working toward a goal. I found it difficult to say no when new projects came across my desk, and my timelines would get derailed. If the project succeeded, it made a tremendous impact. But if the big idea failed, my whole quarter was ruined. Clearly, something needed to change.

Shawn Livermon, director of product management at my company, had seen great success running his division using an iterative approach and felt that roles outside of his department could benefit as well. With his encouragement, our entire marketing team and several colleagues from other departments enrolled to become certified facilitators of the agile mindset.

Having an agile mindset means working through an implement-measure-learn feedback cycle. It requires constant testing and reworking to get the end product just right. An agile mindset should have a dedication to experimentation and learning, a willingness to collaborate, decisiveness, adaptability and a desire to deliver results.

The Impact of an Agile Mindset

Having an agile mindset means being fluid enough to make adjustments to a changing situation. An agile mindset breaks down a major project into measurable tasks: Present the concept, refine the idea with a few rounds of testing and then move to the next iteration.

I immediately saw the impact of going agile. When stakeholders had new requests, I could point them to my to-do list within the workflow and then prioritize their new initiatives. A workflow chart allowed me to update project statuses for real-time viewing. This streamlined communication and alleviated the need for unnecessary and costly project update meetings.

As we further integrated the agile mindset, I saw other benefits as well. I was no longer focused on having a fully functional program ready for a single launch. I had the ability to test, measure and iterate my marketing programs, and my competitive nature pushed me to find improvements with every new launch. I also developed a better understanding of the amount of work my team can handle at any given time.

3 Ways to Apply an Agile Mindset to Achieve Success

There are multiple ways you can use an agile mindset to improve your personal and professional lives:

1. Never consider a project finished.
Once you have completed a project, adopt an analytical mindset. Continue testing ways to optimize the user experience. Continually improve and extend those insights to other initiatives.

Constant iteration means less pressure to be perfect and allows you to focus on what can be accomplished during a given timeframe. You also avoid the drama of a big launch initiative.

I once was tasked with sponsoring a live event to promote a new product. I had little time to research the event, but we were promised press coverage and more than 20,000 attendees, so I took a risk and signed up for a booth. While we got some foot traffic, the attendees were the wrong demographic for us and did not generate the expected sales. With an agile mindset, I could have done more ahead of time to confirm that the event and the potential clients were a good fit for us.

2. Clearly and regularly communicate with your team.
Having an agile mindset is all about efficiency and innovation. You need to regularly evaluate how to do your work better, but this doesn’t require exhausting team meetings that take time and energy away from the projects.

Consider holding weekly stand-ups to keep your team and stakeholders informed on the status and priority of their projects. When run effectively, these meetings reduce the need for other external meetings and free you up for higher-value conversations.

In fact, the top five techniques for an agile mindset, according to the “13th Annual State of Agile Report,” center around communication: 86 percent of companies incorporate daily stand-ups; 80 percent use retrospectives at the end of each iteration; and 80 percent obtain feedback through iteration reviews.

3. Stay focused on your consumer.
Continually ask yourself whether there is a new approach you can take to solve a problem that a consumer has. This might mean a high-profile client in your office or your partner at the dinner table!

The agile mindset allows customers and companies to learn valuable insights. By being customer-centric, you can find the most cost-effective solutions, share the responsibility for launching a successful product that meets consumers’ needs while also being motivated by knowing exactly who your product helps.

The agile mindset allows for teams and customers to follow the project as it progresses, allowing for immediate feedback and multiple iterations. The time to market is faster than other project management methodologies, as you can launch and continue to build upon previous projects. It’s a win-win for all involved.

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

As the director of online marketing, Sarah Fruy leads the strategy, goals and road map for Pantheon’s public-facing website and online programs. Fruy is a certified ScrumMaster.®

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

Cybersecurity for Startups: How to Protect 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.

Large-scale data breaches, such as the Equifax hack, are ubiquitous nowadays. But if you think that breaches only affect high-profile companies, then you are mistaken. In fact, three out of five small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have fallen victim to a cyber attack.

Many small businesses that suffer a cyber attack never recover. Can you imagine all of your hard work getting your startup off the ground going to waste like that? Thus, entrepreneurs must protect their startups with strong cybersecurity measures from the get-go.

Take these steps to ensure maximum protection for your startup:

1. Understand the risks.

The first step is accepting that your startup faces serious threats. Brian Burch, vice president of Symantec, says, “Startups are incredibly vulnerable to cyberattacks in their first 18 months. If a business thinks that it’s too small to matter to cybercriminals, then it’s fooling itself with a false sense of security.”

So, what could you come up against in those first 18 months?

We’ve mentioned data breaches. If your startup stores sensitive data, such as financial information, you could be a target. There’s also the risk of malware, or more specifically a ransomware attack. Hackers lock your files and demand a ransom to get them back. Further disruptions could be caused by a DDoS attack, in which hackers overwhelm your systems, rendering your site or servers inaccessible. Any kind of downtime is expensive for small businesses.

These are by no means the only cyber risks your startup might face, but they are indeed major ones.

2. Invest in cost-effective solutions.

You want to protect your tech, but you don’t have the cyber budget of a large corporation. Sound familiar? Thankfully, there are cost-effective solutions to address this need.

You, of course, need the basic toolkit such as a firewall, antivirus and encryption tools, and in some cases, you can get free versions of the software.

Another option is security as a service (SECaaS). It’s usually subscription-based, so you don’t have to pay a bunch of upfront costs for software. Plus, it’s scalable meaning you can add greater security as your startup grows.

Furthermore, there are technical aspects you can take care of that don’t require any extra costs. For instance, it’s important that you regularly update your existing software as these updates often contain vital security patches.

3. Manage the human element.

Unfortunately, it’s not just tech that can be the downfall of your startup. Employees often make simple mistakes that lead to cybersecurity issuesInsider threats are increasingly putting businesses at risk.

In some cases, employees inadvertently cause damage. For example, they might accidentally click on a malicious link or even fall for a scam. Cybercriminals often trick employees into sharing sensitive information as part of a phishing scam. The solution to accidental damage is to put strict security policies in place and offer continued training.

Remember that cyberattacks affect small companies and startups, as well as large corporations. Your startup may be a target in the early stages. Hence, you must address both the technological and human elements of cybersecurity from the very beginning.

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

Kelly O’Hara is a freelance writer and content marketer who works at Copy Goals. She specializes in SaaS, Marketing and B2B topics. 

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

How to Use a Ghostwriter to Build Your Authority and Generate Sales

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 Nico Prins, a communications consultant who specializes in internet marketing. 

When you read articles by busy CEOs on sites like Forbes or Entrepreneur, you might wonder how they managed to find the time to write the content. After all, if their daily workload is half what you are managing, they’d be struggling to fit in the hours needed to draft a 1,500-word, SEO-optimized article.

And you’d be right in many cases! There’s a good chance that the person who wrote the article is a professional ghostwriter. (I can say this with a high degree of certainty because I’ve written a number of articles for founders and c-suite executives.)

In this article, I’ll share with you how to find a ghostwriter who can build your authority and help you grow your business.

What is a ghostwriter?

First, the basics: A ghostwriter is someone who produces material for others without taking any credit. Ghostwriters are best known in the media for penning books for celebrities and politicians.

Ghostwriters are more commonly used by c-suite executives to:

• Write content for online and offline business publications
• Create content for a company website
• Write blog content, including for social media platforms like LinkedIn

The ghostwriter will create the content under your name. It’s the kind of thing you’d have gotten in trouble for at college.

Why use a ghostwriter?

Building your authority as a thought leader won’t happen overnight. It can take 50-plus articles published across multiple sites before you start to see recognition for your hard work.

Writing takes time. You need not only a few focused hours to craft the article, but you’ll need the bandwidth to pitch ideas to editors and follow up on queries. A good ghostwriter comes up with content ideas, pitches to editors, and writes top-quality content.

Still, even a good ghostwriter benefits from direction and guidance. You need to set aside time to collaborate with your ghostwriter—after all, your name and reputation are on the by-line! The ghostwriter can help you effectively share your experience and knowledge.

How to find a ghostwriter

You want a ghostwriter who can match your tone of voice and is easy to work with. Before you hire a writer, I recommend assigning a test so you can assess the quality of their writing. Don’t rely on already published examples, as those have likely been edited by the publication’s staff.

I use this template when interviewing a ghostwriter for clients.

Also, make sure to review their work. You can find more information on how to hire and manage a ghostwriter in this article on Inc.

Set your strategy with a ghostwriter

When you work with a ghostwriter, you need to set clear business goals. These goals will form the basis of your strategy regarding what publications to target, and the type of content you want to create.

For example, your goals while working with a ghostwriter may include:

  • Generate speaking opportunities at relevant conferences
    Create connections with potential customers to generate sales leads
  • Boost your SEO

Each of these goals requires a slightly different strategy. Let’s explore how to approach each next.

Use a Ghostwriter to Generate Sales

A ghostwriter can help you generate sales by establishing your credibility. Content published with your name in a title like Forbes impresses people. Include links to your articles on your LinkedIn profile. Mention your work in client meetings.

You can also leverage these writing opportunities to develop your relationship with a lead. For example, ask a person you want to connect with to add input on an article. The nice thing about this approach is that it’s not “salesly.” It’s a subtle way to start a conversation and to highlight your expertise.

Use a Ghostwriter to Become a Public Speaker

Getting up on stage in front of your peers at a conference is a proven method for building your authority as a thought leader. A ghostwriter can help you achieve this goal by helping you establish your credibility on a topic and growing your public image. Leverage your articles to reach out to decision-makers at an event you hope to speak at.

Use a Ghostwriter to Boost Your SEO

Backlinks are a vital part of SEO. At the risk of oversimplifying why they matter, the more backlinks your site has, the higher your site will appear on Google search results. Your ghostwriter should naturally start to acquire these links for you.

By working closely with your ghostwriter, you can develop a strategy to help you create links to content you want to rank for. Over time, this can result in an increase in traffic to your site.

A good ghostwriter is like your online assistant. They have the time, experience and skills to help get your name not just online, but seen by others through search results. With their connections, a ghostwriter will publish articles under your name on relevant blogs and publications.

With a clear strategy in place, a ghostwriter can help you achieve your business goals.

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

Nico Prins is a business consultant and the founder of Launch Space. He helps companies make money by sharing strategies that increase sales through content marketing, CRO and email marketing.

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

Should Entrepreneurs Trust Their Gut?

Written for EO by Dr. Gleb Tsipursky, disaster avoidance expert, speaker and author. 

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

Decision-making research shows that many entrepreneurs don’t know when to rely on their gut instincts and when to follow reason. Here’s a pop quiz for you:

Let’s say you’re interviewing a new applicant for a job and the interview feels a little off. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but you’re uncomfortable talking with this person. She says all the right things, her resume is great, she seems like a perfect hire—except your gut tells you otherwise.

Should you go with your gut?

Research indicates that job interviews tend to be poor indicators of future job performance. So, the right answer in this case is to be wary of that gut feeling. Follow the facts.

We are often told to “trust your gut,” and many entrepreneurs trust their guts over their heads too often, giving jobs to people they like—people who they perceive as part of their in-group—rather than to the most qualified applicant.

There are other situations, however, that it makes sense to rely on your gut instinct.

The reactions of our gut are rooted in the more primitive, emotional and intuitive part of our brains that ensured survival in our ancestral environment. Tribal loyalty and immediate recognition of friend or foe were especially useful for thriving in that environment.

In modern society, however, our survival is much less at risk. Our instincts are more likely to compel us to focus on the wrong information as we make decisions in the workplace.

For example, returning to the job candidate we introduced earlier, is she similar to you in race, gender, and socioeconomic background? Even seemingly minor things like clothing choices, speaking style and gestures can make a big difference in determining how you evaluate another person. Our brains tend to fall for a cognitive error known as the halo effect, which causes some characteristics we like and identify with to cast a positive “halo” on the rest of the person. Its opposite is known as the horns effect, where one or two negative traits change how we view the whole.

Yet, just because a person is similar to you does not mean she will be the best employee. The research is clear that often our intuitions don’t serve us well in making the best hiring decisions. Such reliance on intuition is especially harmful if you are trying to establish workplace diversity. It also paves the path to bias in hiring, including in terms of race, disability, gender and sex.

Despite the numerous studies showing that structured interventions are needed to overcome bias in hiring, many business leaders and HR personnel still rely on unstructured interviews and other intuitive decision-making practices. Due to our overconfidence bias, a tendency to evaluate our decision-making abilities as better than they are, leaders often go with their guts on hiring as well as other business decisions rather than using analytical decision-making tools that have demonstrably better outcomes.

One way to get around issues of bias during the hiring process is to list the ways in which the applicant is different from you. Then, give each factor a “positive point.” Another option is standardizing the interviews—establish a list of questions and ask them in the same order to every applicant.

Let’s take a different situation. Say you’ve known a fellow entrepreneur for many years. You’ve collaborated with her on a variety of projects and have an established relationship.

Imagine yourself talking with her about a potential collaboration. For some reason, you feel less comfortable than usual. Most likely, your intuitions are picking up subtle cues.

Maybe it’s nothing. Maybe that person is having a bad day or didn’t get enough sleep the night before.

Do you trust your gut or rely on previous experiences?

This situation is an example of when it makes sense to trust your gut reaction. Signs of being uncomfortable or anxious are indicators for lying, and it’s worth being cautious.

In well-established relationships, then, your gut instinct is a vital part of decision-making.

Generally, when you’re facing a significant decision about your business, trust your head more than your gut in order to make the best decision. When possible, find ways to limit the influence of your gut instinct.

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

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is CEO of the training, coaching and consulting firm Disaster Avoidance Experts, which empowers entrepreneurs to avoid business disasters by addressing potential threats, maximizing unexpected opportunities, and resolving persistent personnel problems. He’s an EO speaker, a EO 360° podcast guest and author of Never Go With Your GutThe Blind Spots Between Us and The Truth Seeker’s Handbook.

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