How Not to Screw Up a New Business Relationship

By Perks |

by Lauren Perkins

Business

Building professional relationships can be treacherous, and you always hope to put your best foot forward when meeting new colleagues, clients and partners. Luckily, this phase is similar to the initial process of dating — it’s the time when the precedent is set for months and years to come.

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Are You a Good Business Date? 4 Ways to Manage Expectations

By Perks |

Getting to know someone new can be daunting, especially when you don’t know the other person’s intentions. It takes time to peel back the many layers that may reveal a sweet heart or rotten core, alike. Many of us have learned — the hard way — to keep our guard up and set realistic expectations for a first date. And when it comes to business, being ready for a first date is equally important as it is in a romantic setting.

This article was originally published on Forbes.com. To view the full article, click here


How to Prioritize When Everything is a Priority: 5 Tips

By Perks |

It’s easy to be overwhelmed when the to-do list gets too long. Here’s how to cut things down to size.

I’m sure you know the feeling of getting up for work in the morning with the feeling of having so much to do that you don’t know where to start. Oftentimes, everything that you have to do seems like a priority, which makes it tough to figure out where to begin.

First things first! In order to move the ball forward you need to start somewhere. Here are some planning tactics that I’ve found helpful when you need to set your mind on immediate execution. Although long-term prioritization and planning is also essential, these techniques help me to make progress on the micro-level, day-to-day basis.

This was originally published on Inc.com by Lauren Perkins. To view the full article, click here


Stop Procrastinating Now. Here’s How.

By Lauren |

It’s great that entrepreneurs are always looking for bright new ideas. But how do you stay focused on the projects you’ve already got going?

 

“Procrastination is opportunity’s natural assassin.” -Victor Kiam

Do you have a lot of great ideas, but find yourself constantly pulled in multiple directions by new opportunities? As entrepreneurs, it’s in our very nature to be always looking for the next new thing — before finishing what we’re already working on.

This was originally published on Inc.com by Lauren Perkins. To view the full article, click here


Being a Good Date: The Governing Principles of Relationship Building

By Lauren |

This was originally published on Forbes.com by Lauren Perkins. You can view the original here

Building professional relationships can be treacherous, and you always hope to put your best foot forward when meeting new colleagues, clients and partners. Luckily, this phase is similar to the initial process of dating — it’s the time when the precedent is set for months and years to come.

This article will give you the skinny on the governing principles of how to use tried and true dating principles to help building personable and lasting relationships in the workplace. The next several articles in this monthly column will take a deep dive on each principle, to cover in greater detail and with real world examples to help you put your dating smarts to work.

Whether dating someone new or pursuing a business relationship, there are three governing principles to keep in mind: expectations, communication, and timing. Stick to these three tenets to navigate that early “get to know each other” phase:

  1. Expectations. In the early stages of a relationship, it’s very important to establish expectations. One easy way to do so is to discuss objectives and determine what each person is anticipating from the business deal or the relationship. In order to avoid potential “snafus,” it’s a good idea to make sure expectations are clear from the very beginning.
  2. Communication. We all know how important communication is in dating! Nobody is a mind reader, and you can’t expect someone to know what you’re thinking if you don’t tell them. It’s also a good idea to feel out how frequent and what types of communication you should use with a new relationship. Nobody likes an over-communicator, but you want to let the person know that you’re interested in taking the relationship further.
  3. Timing. Just as in dating, the timing of a new business relationship must be right. Have you ever met someone you thought was fantastic but the pace was just too fast or slow? Admit it, you have. Given the fast pace of today’s business environment, timing is just as key to building professional relationships as it is with personal ones. From the professional side of relationships, this is the most important of the three governing principles because you can’t prepare for communication needs or think about fulfilling expectations if you don’t know the intended timing.

Knowing expectations, leveraging communication, and confirming timing are all essential to relationship success. If you put these core principles to work from the beginning of any new relationship, you’ll be well prepared to build fulfilling, mutually beneficial relationships.

Want to learn more about how to perfect this relationship-building trifecta? I’ll be sharing tips on how to “Be A Good Date” in the business world every month—stay tuned!


Making Sense Of The Application Landscape

By Lauren |

This was originally published on YoungEntrepreneur by Lauren Perkins. You can view the original here.

New year, new toys. Consumer electronics, that is. I’m just getting back and reflecting on CES (Consumer Electronics Show), the largest tech geek kickoff of the year.

This year I got the chance to see the new consumer electronics and tech industry trends from three lenses: that of a journalist, an entrepreneur, and a marketer working with EachScape, an application creation and management platform.

This year’s gadgets and exhibits confirmed the expansion of the tech market as a whole. This results in large opportunities in the application space, which is now trending well beyond smartphones and tablets. The result? The app landscape is becoming increasingly complicated to navigate.

What is “App”lification?
One of this year’s pre-show trend predictions from Shawn DuBravac, research director for the Consumer Electronics Association, was that we’re moving from “Amplification” to “App”lification. Amplification of a company or brand’s message used to be a top KPI (key performance indicator) in the digital space. Now, content creators have the ability to use apps on a number of different screens in their audience’s life to create a robust and interactive user experience to share their story. In other words, “app”lification closes the gaps that historically have fallen between content creators and hardware or product manufacturers, resulting in a frictionless experience that seamlessly integrates with everyday life beyond just mobile phones.

Emerging App Screens
We are seeing the three-screen trifecta of the pre-tablet era disappear with more products being app-enabled than ever before. This year, CES showcased everything from cars to toys to traditional household consumer electronics like refrigerators sporting screen interfaces with built-in apps. With more screens becoming part of the daily user experience, there are an increasing number of creative solutions for entrepreneurs to consider for new products or extensions of existing products.

So what does this mean for entrepreneurs?
Fragmentation. Whether you’re creating an app that is your product and core business or you’re using an app to share content and market your business, you have multiple screens to take into consideration in your mobile and digital planning. You may decide that you need to have an application for every screen or that your target audience is primarily on one or two of the available screens.

“Both on the business and technology front, fragmentation and mobile are two sides of the same coin. Fragmentation has many dimensions – the code (iOS, Android, HTML5 etc.), the type of screen (phone, tablet, TV), and the content format (video, photo, etc.). At EachScape we are trying to help our clients solve the fragmentation problem by allowing them to create and manage across the entire landscape,” explained Ludo Collin, co-founder & CEO of EachScape.

To minimize fragmentation, EachScape lets you create, customize and/or manage apps across multiple platforms. As a marketer and entrepreneur, I found their solution to fragmentation issues to be the gem of their product. EachScape’s platform allows content producers with or without development skills to create highly customized applications that can be configured for the requirements of multiple screens, across iOS, Android, connected TV and HTML5.

Browser Preference and HTML5 Apps
Another emerging trend in the app space that assists with the fragmentation issue is the use of an HTML5 app, as Google opted to do with their iPhone app. They created an iPhone app that has limited functionality but gives the user access to many of their other products (Calendar, Docs, etc.) in their own HTML5 apps. In Google’s case, their iOS app allows users to have all their products in one place and then click a link out to the appropriate HTML5 app. In addition to iOS and Android users, we also see some users that still prefer using web browsers on blackberries and connected TVs. Apple’s operating system upgrade particularly encourages this type of user behavior by allowing you to save a web browser as a badge to your home screen.

The Key Takeaways
Expect to see more industry-wide collaboration and focus on the user interface in 2012. “App”lification is reducing barriers between content creators and manufacturers, creating a wealth of opportunity for entrepreneurs who want to get into or expand their presence in the app space.


Fail Fast: A Guide To Iterative Strategic Planning And Testing

By Lauren |

(Originally posted on Young Entrepreneur, by Lauren Perkins)

As 2011 speeds to its conclusion, now is the time to reflect on your company’s current performance and establish priorities moving into 2012. In order to set the stage for a productive year, it’s important to think about your top objectives as well as some tactical ways that you can test them. These two components should be the foundation for your strategic plan and execution roadmap.

In order to get a startup off its feet, it’s essential to quickly identify and course correct when something isn’t working. This is the core of the #failfast mentality. It can be hard to predict what’s going to evoke a response from your target audience, so why not mix it up and commit to trying new tactics until something works?

Fail Fast is a focused process, for those with a sense of urgency and the need to move swiftly from strategy to execution. You don’t want to continue investing time and money into something that isn’t working for your company. Sometimes you just need to try different things – if one thing doesn’t work or isn’t gaining momentum the way you think it should, then move on and test out your next strategy or tactic.

This tactic sounds simple enough to implement, but in order for it to be effective you must be able to realize when things aren’t working. If you catch a failure early, it’s much less likely to cause detrimental and irreversible damage to your company. If you don’t fail quickly, then congratulations! You’ve gained traction and you’re succeeding. Keep moving forward with the tactic that you tested.

So how can you put the Fail Fast mentality to work in your company? Follow the process below as part of your 2012 strategic planning process.

  • Determine and define your top 3 business objectives for Q1 2012
  • Choose one of the three objectives that will have the biggest, measureable impact on your business performance (awareness, leads, sales, etc)
  • Define Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) for the chosen objective
  • Develop a list of tactics that are specific and easy to implement
  • Prioritize your list of tactics in the order you will deploy them with the tactics that you expect will have the largest and/or fast impact on the chosen objective
  • Begin the #FailFast testing process with the first tactic on your list
  • Track the tactic’s performance against the KPI’s set earlier in the process
    If the tactic proves to have a positive effect on the KPI, look for ways to build this tactic into your regular business practice and repeat.

  • If you are seeing no movement, assess whether the KPI’s you selected were the right benchmarks
  • Adjust the positioning or execution of selected tactic and test again
  • Still no traction? #FailFast and move on to the next tactic in your deployment list

Haven’t started the strategic planning process for 2012? No worries, many of you are probably hustling to close the year out right. This process is great for the procrastinator in all of us or a busy founder that needs to work quickly to reach important business and marketing objectives. If you use this process to plan for the New Year, then you’re setting yourself up for success.

Good luck!


6 Mantras for Business Success

By Lauren |

(Originally from our CEO Lauren Perkin’s article on Inc.)

I’ve founded two companies and co-founded two others, but some days, I still feel like I never know what’s going to hit me next. Luckily, I’ve found a few simple mantras that help me stay steady even when things get ridiculously hairy. Some have more to do with business, and others are more about the personality and mindset I need to bring to the business. They all help me cut through the mental clutter and uncertainty that can come with entrepreneurship.
Try reminding yourself of these mantras when you’re in a bind or have a decision to make. With a little repetition, they will soon become a natural part of your thought process, keeping you on a continual path to success.

Click here to find out more about Lauren’s 6 mantras for business success


2011 Sharing Statistics Holiday Card Infographic

By perksconsulting |

Last year we created a playful video based on How The Grinch Stole Christmas. This year we thought we could still keep that playfulness by incorporating our signature design elements to create a fun and informational holiday greeting. There’s been so much growth in online sharing that we decided to create an infographic about social media network sharing and general online digital sharing statistics. From Facebook and Twitter to Wikipedia and Youtube, online sharing in 2011 has exploded.

We hope our holiday greeting makes you smile and gives you something to think about over your holidays. Seasons Greetings, from the Perks team!

 

2011 Social Digital Online Sharing Statistics Holiday Infographic

2011 Social Digital Online Sharing Statistics Holiday Infographic


End of year round-up: Must-have apps & accessories – The 11 things for your business you didn’t know you couldn’t live without

By Lauren |


(Originally posted on vator.tv)

Most of us have figured out the go-to, day-to-day gadgets we rely on for our work – a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. But the array of accessories and apps out there for the enterprise user can be an overwhelming one.  Here’s a quick list of the on-the-go apps and tech accessories that have now become must-haves in the entrepreneur’s arsenal.

Accessories

Mophie – for iPhone (case) and PhoneSuit Primo Cube Battery Pack – Android (snap on)

It seems that the better battery life gets on newer devices, the more we use our phones since subconsciously we know we can. To help fight battery drain every entrepreneur should have a quick back up to reach for in their pocket or bag that will allow them to go on and at least finish out the day without needing to run to the nearest Starbucks for an inconvenient power pick-me-up.

No one wants to be caught without any power at a crucial moment – whether trying to pull up an email for reference or finding directions for the next destination.

Square

Not every entrepreneur needs a Square attachment but for those who do need instant payment options for clients and customers, Square is revolutionary.

Think of the time that’s saved not waiting for a check to come in the mail once papers have been signed in person or taking in business for a quick turnaround with deposits in hand instantly.

Square has proven to be fruitful for those needing payment options on site and immediately without the entire setup of a point-of-sale terminal.

 

Mifi and Personal Hotspots – Prepaid plans

If you travel a lot you probably already know that internet service can be spotty at best, and security is a concern when connecting through open wifi access points. A MiFi portable personal wifi access point will wipe these concerns away. Having a monthly plan may not be the most logical depending on your travel frequency but luckily there are a couple of prepaid plans out there with various service providers.

 

Neat Receipt 

Neat Receipt is a fantastic addition for anyone who has to expense or keep track of receipts for tax purposes. It allows you to scan these paper documents and then saves them in a format that is accepted by the IRS. Bonus – your now scanned and digitized information can be imported to Salesforce easily!

 

 

Dockable Keyboard

If you’re going to be doing any sort of writing that goes beyond a myriad of notes then you absolutely need a keyboard that docks your iPad or tablet, essentially turning it into a notebook. Anyone who has tried to type out long documents on the touchscreen knows that our wrists just weren’t built that way. Do yourself a favor and get one.  Fellow Vator.tv writer Krystal Peak shared her favorite one here.

 

 

Applications

Cardmunch

Linkedin recently purchased Cardmunch to further build out their offerings for professionals everywhere. Cardmunch allows you to scan someone’s business card with your smartphone camera and then converts the image to the appropriate text. It automatically searches LinkedIn for their profile in order to connect right away.  What better way to keep in touch than to socially connect on the professional social network? Your new contact will find your follow-up to be refreshing and thoughtful.

Gist & Rapportive

Gist and Rapportive both keep you up to date with all of your contacts’ updates, like a personal CRM tool. The Gmail plugin for Rapportive keeps you in the loop about the person that you’re emailing with. From this sidebar you can find out their latest social network updates, recent email interactions, vital contact info extracted from signatures, and other social network links so you can connect further. Gist offers a similar feed of your address book all at once on a dashboard or organized by your tags and preferences.

 

Evernote & Dropbox

Don’t trust documents and platforms to save your original work? You can use Evernote for syncing your thoughts, ideas and bits of  information. Evernote recently launched Evernote Hello so you can remember those you met and organize the context of how you met them.

For small companies, Dropbox has the added benefit of supporting your hardware server and backup so it is accessible and constantly synced no matter where you are. Besides using Dropbox as cloud storage, documents can be accessed remotely and accidentally deleted items can be restored.

 

QuickOffice Pro

While we wait for the next iteration of the netbook and tablet hybrid to be able to fully compute on-the-go, QuickOffice Pro bridges the divide with the much needed document creator and editor compatible with Microsoft Office.

Investing a little bit of money into this app will go a long way for your business; integrating your mobile experience with the productivity tools offered here frees you from the burden of the laptop.

Think of how much a desktop version of Office costs and then relate that here. It’s well worth it.