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These 5 Affirmations Are Proven to Change Your Life

February 22, 2021 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Creating an ideal life for ourselves takes time, effort, and consistency. In the book, Let’s Do This! 100 Powerful Messages to Help You Take Action, Kevin Ngo tells us this, “If you don’t make the time to work on creating the life you want, you’re eventually going to be forced to spend a lot of time dealing with a life you don’t want.” We don’t wake up one day and have everything around us suddenly evolve into a life we could only dream of; we must be willing to work diligently at it. Not solely on our careers, well-being, or filling our bank accounts, but the bigger picture we desire for our lives. Becoming a master of our life’s circumstances begins in the mind. We can then turn those beliefs that bubble to the surface when we are alone in our thoughts into action. The action is where real change takes place. Before the masterpiece comes the mindset. Here are five daily reminders we all need to tell ourselves:
1. “I can do hard things.”
If you had to describe life in one word (or two) what, would it be? I’ll go first. Chaos. A rollercoaster. Perhaps you’re an optimist and went with wonderful. Or a pessimist and decided on stressful. Whatever word you chose, it has truth to it. The lens from which we view our life has validity. Life for each of us is so different, yet very much the same. We can have a few good days, and then like a ton of bricks, we are faced with hardships like divorce, job loss, and illness, amongst many other things. Life is not always pleasant; it’s filled with the mundane, chores, taxes, and unfiltered moments of reality. Life requires that many times we do things that we think we are not capable of doing. Yet, here we are; we have survived. Each of us has found a way to make it through because we can do hard things in our lives. The more we can remind ourselves, “I am capable of doing hard things,” the more resilient we can become.
Related: Are you a Leader or a Follower?
2. “I am a leader.”
When you hear the word leader, what comes to mind? Typically, when we think of a leader, we may think of someone who inspires us, inspires others to be better, and helps guide us in our decision-making or purpose. But when was the last time you thought of yourself as a leader? Each of us in charge of ourselves, and we are responsible for most things that happen in our lives. Therefore, who is to say we aren’t all leaders? How could your life change if you woke up every day and reminded yourself, “I am a leader?” We must always take ownership, and when we think of ourselves as a leader, we may just become better at being one.
3. “I am capable.”
When we start a new job, tackle a new conquest, or a new business venture, we are bound to run into moments of doubt, unchartered territory, and may find ourselves questioning our abilities. When the future is unknown, and we don’t know what lies ahead, everything surrounding us can feel like one big question mark. Many times, we have no idea what we are doing. Be respectful of the fear life has for you. There is strength, opportunity, and knowledge that comes from a place of fear. Remind yourself that you are capable; this mindset can help supercharge your life’s batteries for success.
Related: 6 Thoughts on Why Facing Your Fears Could Help You Achieve Massive Success
4. “I have one body, and I will treat it well.”
It can hinder our success if we try to place our well-being on the back burner. We must focus on the non-negotiables of self-care: sleep, water, movement, and nutritious eating.•    Remember, strive to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night, and while you’re at it, skip the snooze button; this habit won’t do you any favors.•    Drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day, and don’t skimp on the vegetables; they are a powerhouse.•    Aim for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day, and don’t take for granted short exercise breaks amid your hectic schedule.•    Focus on consuming whole foods that are less processed. Take the time to read labels and become knowledgeable about the ingredients found in the foods you eat.
Related: Why You Need More Exercise as an Entrepreneur (and 7 Creative Strategies for Getting It)
5. “I am a problem solver.”
At any given moment, we can come to a roadblock in our lives, either professionally and personally, or sometimes when we are “lucky,” both. These hang-ups can slow us down tremendously. I saw this happen most recently to my grandfather, who refuses to learn how to use his new cell phone. The problem with avoidance, being skeptical, or instilling an unwillingness to learn or be proactive can delay our success. Procrastination does not do you any favors. It is essential to seek out the tools and develop the habits you need to succeed. Whether it be learning new technology or a new program, take the time to self-educate. With the help of the online world, YouTube, books, podcasts, and free online webinars, there are plenty of tools to help your success. Be sure to have an open mind and a willingness to work with the tools once you discover them.

13 Crucial Roles You Should Consider Hiring First When Building a Marketing Department

Marketing is a crucial element of any successful business, and even small business startups will need to begin building their marketing department as soon as possible. However, some marketing roles are more critical to your business’s success than others. To help you determine which role you need to hire for first, 13 experts from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) answer the following question:
“When building a marketing division for your company, what’s one important role/position you should hire first, and why?”
Consider their suggestions to help determine the right first marketing hire for your company.

1. Data Analyst
“The first important position that I would hire for my marketing team is a data analyst. This position is like the core of the marketing department and can help us gather insights into the current marketing scenario. Knowing this will help us understand what’s happening in the marketing world and come up with a more powerful strategy to combat our competitors.” ~ Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster
2. SEO Analyst
“For my marketing team, I would definitely hire an SEO analyst first. This is one important position that can work closely with the rest of the team to get our business to the top search results of Google and bring in more traffic to our websites.” ~ Josh Kohlbach, Wholesale Suite
3. Graphic Designer
“All roles within marketing represent an important element to starting the process effectively. However, a graphic designer would be my first choice, because that is who will give shape to the main ideas that you have for the development of a brand. Later, hire a person who will be in charge of the content. These are two basic aspects of marketing and they must be perfectly combined to achieve success.” ~ Kevin Leyes, Leyes Media & VVS, by Leyes Empire
4. Product Manager
“A product manager is a useful position to hire first for your marketing department. A product manager is in charge of product strategy, including vision and development. They work with other departments to ensure that the products your brand creates have market demand and will do well with customers.” ~ Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms
5. Branding Expert
“I think that one of the first people to hire for a marketing department is someone with solid branding experience. A person who understands how branding works can take your goals and clearly but broadly inform the direction your brand takes. Then, when you hire content writers, social media specialists and others, they’ll have guidelines that direct their work and also keep them consistent.” ~ Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
6. Creative Lead
“I suggest hiring a creative lead to help you chart the direction of your marketing. This role is essential to fill first because you might not need as many people in your marketing division as you thought. A creative lead can help you figure out how many people you’ll need to turn your marketing plan into a reality, which makes filling other positions easier.” ~ Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights
7. Editorial Director
“It’s important to have an editorial director on board as the head of content. An editorial director ensures that your brand has a content plan that will boost traffic, grow your email list and produce sales, among other things. Hiring them first allows your company to start from the top and work its way down.” ~ Jared Atchison, WPForms
8. Content Marketing Expert
“If you are running a bootstrapped startup, your first marketing hire should be a content marketing and organic promotions expert. You want someone who is an amazing storyteller. You want someone great at earning free press. If, on the other hand, you have a bigger budget and ambitious goals to match, you want to hire someone who has proven they can build, manage and lead a team.” ~ Ben Landers, Blue Corona
9. Demand Generation Marketer
“The first marketing hire any business should make is a demand generation marketer. Demand gen marketers understand that marketing needs to carry a bag and deliver revenue to the bottom line. The first marketing hire sets the tone between the marketing and sales teams, and a demand gen professional will set the role of marketing appropriately — to drive leads that convert to the bottom line.” ~ Kara Brown, LeadCoverage
10. Marketing Generalist
“Your first marketing hire should be a marketing generalist, someone who knows their way around all the marketing channels. They don’t need to be an expert in a specific channel, but someone who can at least operate in those channels. As you continue to grow, then you can hire specialists who can optimize those specific channels.” ~ Jared Brown, Hubstaff Tasks
11. Marketing Strategist
“One important role or position to hire first when building a marketing division is a marketing strategist. It’s important to have a very clear target audience for your business, channels of communication that will be used and key messages. From then on, you can build a team around the marketing strategist so you can build what you and your team have planned.” ~ Alfredo Atanacio, Uassist.ME
12. Marketer With Sales Experience
“Hire a marketer who knows how to sell and can think backward from the close. Effective marketing is about understanding and reverse-engineering the customer journey toward your product or service, and then generating awareness and opportunity pathways to that end. Any cornerstone marketing position must balance and build both brand growth and sales activation initiatives.” ~ Magnus Simonarson, Consultwebs
13. Marketing Director With Management Experience
“I would look to hire a marketing director with previous experience managing a team. Make sure they have hands-on experience with the areas you want them to focus on. For example, if you are going to focus on paid media to grow, then hire someone with previous experience managing large budgets on Google Ads and Facebook Ads. Then task this person with hiring the team, with your input and involvement.” ~ David Boehl, GoLastMinute
Image: Depositphotos

Here Are 3 Pieces of Life Advice I'd Give My Younger Self, Inspired By My Conversation With Grammy-Winning Producer Hit-Boy

February 22, 2021 7 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
I’ve been an entrepreneur for as long as I can remember. I’d organize my family’s garage sales as a kid, from posting up signs and placing ads in the newspaper, to pricing items and selling them outside with my parents all day. 
During the summer, I’d wash cars, pull weeds, you name it. In middle school, while kids sold chocolate candy for fundraisers, seeing a gap in the market, I sold the fruit kind until the administrators shut my operation down. This eventually led me to taking an entrepreneurship elective course in high school. 
I never forgot the advice of my instructor, Ms. Berman, which she told me after school one day. To paraphrase her: “Never sign anything you haven’t read — and understand — fully. And if you don’t understand it, find someone who does.” 
Most teenagers don’t know much about contracts. I was one of them. And, like many teenagers, I had a lot of dreams. One was a rap career (largely due to the influence of Hit-Boy and his collaborators like Nas, but more on that later). I didn’t get far, but I did get one recording contract offered to me. It wasn’t a major deal — far from it — but the contract had major consequences. 
I was told that their lawyers said it was a great deal. It might as well have been written in Swahili to me. I was eager to sign, because this was my dream after all. But, heeding my instructor’s advice, I took the little money I had and paid a lawyer of my own to review it anyway. 
It was a fateful decision. I walked away from it, because it was far from a great deal — at least for me. At the time, the experience left me feeling down. What luck, I thought. I didn’t know it then, but I wasn’t unlucky because I got a bad contract, rather, I was lucky I had someone in my life who gave me the advice not to sign one.
Life has a funny way of coming full circle sometimes. Fast forward to 2021, and I had the opportunity to sit down with Hit-Boy, the very same producer who played a large part in my decision to want to rap way back when. Hearing his story made me reflect on what advice I’d give my younger self if I was in that same position again. 
In addition to my instructor’s advice, here’s what I’d tell myself.
Related: 4 Lessons Multiplatinum Producer Tainy and Music Exec Lex Borrero Taught Me About Success
1. Don’t confuse success with integrity
Once upon a time I worked for a company led by people I looked up to. They were successful and running their own business, a position I aspired to be in one day, too. So I did what they asked of me, never questioning their motives or intentions. It was only in hindsight that I realized it was an exploitative relationship disguised as an “opportunity.” 
The biggest hurdle of Hit-Boy’s career has been the contract he signed when he was still a teenager. He’s a grown man in his thirties now, over a decade removed from the day he signed on the dotted line. Yet it’s still affecting him to this day. That’s because he trusted the people around him because they were successful, not realizing that they didn’t have his best interests in mind. 
The takeaway here is that success doesn’t equal integrity. Just because someone is doing well, doesn’t mean they’re doing right. It’s natural to trust people in a position you aspire to be in, but that doesn’t make them good people. Regularly assess the value of what you’re bringing to the table, and push back against anyone trying to take advantage of you, regardless of your position in relation to theirs. 
Related: 4 Lessons UFC Champion Israel Adesanya Taught Me About Success
2. Make good decisions, not rushed ones
“Gurus” love to talk about decisiveness and making big decisions at warp speed. Don’t be misled by the so-called experts. Good decisions aren’t always hasty ones. In fact, decision speed is often tied to regret, even when the decision is a good one. Always sleep on big decisions, and never let anyone pressure you into making a decision on the spot. 
During my conversation with Hit-Boy I asked him what advice he’d give to his younger self. “Trust yourself, number one,” he told me. “Even if you don’t have all the information, that’ll come. You can get the information. You can meet different people, but don’t rush into anything because somebody tells you this is what you have to do right now.”
The takeaway here is to trust your gut, and put some space between yourself and any big decision when you’re unsure. Never let the other party, or your own excitement, get the best of you. Best case scenario, you’ll regret some part of it, and worst case scenario, you’ll create an avalanche of unnecessarily problems for yourself in the future.
Related: 4 Lessons Boxing Champion Gervonta Davis Taught Me About Success
3. Relationships are everything
“It’s because ‘so-and-so’ knows someone” is a common crutch people lean on in an effort to excuse their own lack of progress. What these people need to understand, my younger self included, is that people don’t just meet other people and get what they want (unless they demand it at gunpoint). Like a garden, relationships take hard work, patience and maintenance. 
Relationships are what make us human. They’re dynamic, alive and always evolving, and they can be developed in an infinite number of ways. A mutual friendship. A shared struggle or experience. By accident, or after being sought out with a specific intention. 
Many of my most valued relationships have been made by chance encounters that, had I not taken the initiative to simply introduce myself, never would have materialized. In Hit-Boy’s case, he started off on the traditional route, handing out his CDs to people outside of record label offices. Now he regularly collaborates with artists like Nas, Big Sean, Benny The Butcher and others. It’s the relationships that have sustained him over the years despite his contractual woes. 
The same is true of my own relationships. During my low points, the people closest to me were the only ones there to lend a rope for me to climb out of, or a light for me to see my way through. And the same will be true for you. No matter how you cultivate them, protect them with your life. Because in the end, it’s your relationships that can change your life — or save it. 
You can watch my interview with Hit-Boy in full below:
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Are Your Irrational Fears Holding Back Your Customer And Employee Experience Efforts?

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Please take a moment and cast your mind back to how many people and businesses used to talk about ideas and practices before becoming commonplace. 
Can you remember a time when money-back guarantees were not that common? Before their widespread adoption, many brands and leaders resisted their introduction, fearing that if they put them in place, then that would lead to a torrent of their customers knocking on their front door asking for their money back.
Now, the idea that a large number of customers would come rushing to the front door looking for their money back on the introduction of a ‘money-back guarantee’ is patently ridiculous. It assumes that customers are stupid and routinely make silly spending decisions. And, we know that this is simply not true.

Man looking stressed and nervous .

Money-back guarantees, once introduced, held companies to higher standards and more consistent practices. In turn, they have also helped build trust in the minds of customers all over the world.
This is just one historical example of how an irrational fear, or as some would describe them False Expectations Appearing Real, held back the betterment of the customer’s experience.
The problem is that this is not an isolated incident.

In fact, it could be argued that the same situation arose before the widespread introduction of asking customers and employees for feedback. In both cases, many leaders feared that asking for feedback would unleash a tidal wave of abuse and negative feedback from customers and employees.
Again this is patently ridiculous and has not proved to be true. Asking for feedback from customers and employees has become one of the foundational elements in both customer and employee experience. 
But, these fears do not just exist in the past. Some are very present in the here and now.
Here are a few examples of how irrational fears could be undermining both the customer and employee experience.
Making it easy for customers to complain
Things go wrong and sometimes badly. So, why do some companies make it hard for customers to complain? Is it because they fear that if they make the process easier and more visible, it will invite a massive increase in complaints, forcing them to confront some ugly truths and take part in some difficult conversations? 
Making it easy for customers to call 
Why do some companies make it hard for customers to call them or even find their phone number when they need help? Is it because they fear there will be a massive surge in phone calls from customers seeking help?
Allowing customers to easily cancel their subscriptions
Dharmesh Shah, HubSpot’s co-founder, has a great saying which goes: “We want to make it emotionally difficult for our customers to leave, but procedurally easy”. I think that is a great sentiment and one that every subscription-based business should aspire to. But, that’s not always the case. Why is that? Is it because they fear that if they made it easy to cancel, they would see a massive spike in cancellations that would undermine their economics, business plan, and bonuses?
Trusting employees to do a good job, particularly when they are working remotely 
Many organizations use employee performance monitoring and analytics software to help them manage workloads and improve performance. And, that’s great. However, many others go much further and take a much more draconian approach whereby they track and monitor their employees to within an inch of their lives. With many workers working remotely, we have seen a spike in this behaviour since the start of the pandemic. Is this because many organizations don’t trust their employees and fear that if they don’t keep a constant eye on them, they’ll mess about and won’t get their work done?
These are only four instances, and I am sure there are others. However, none of them stand up under scrutiny.
But, what they do is have an adverse effect on the customer and employee experience that organizations want to deliver.
These irrational fears exist. They impact our decision-making and undermine efforts to improve the customer and the employee experience.
It’s our job to become aware of them and root them out because they do not help us, our employees or our customers.

Eight Lesser-Known Ways To Encourage Brand Engagement

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Encouraging and maintaining a high level of audience engagement is critical for any brand keen on building a loyal following and a tight-knit community of reliable customers. Engagement serves as a foundational pillar to growing a business’s presence in the broader market, and those happy customers are often your best form of advertisement.
However, building a loyal community is only possible if the brand is strong enough and forges a robust relationship with its customers. To offer guidance on how to achieve this goal, eight members of Young Entrepreneur Council discuss a few lesser-known ways brands can encourage engagement and why those methods are so successful.

Young Entrepreneur Council members discuss how business leaders can encourage audience engagement.
Photos courtesy of the individual members.
1. Offer Real-Time Feedback
One way that I’ve built up a community of consulting clients is by offering real-time feedback of their work via Loom. I asked them on social media to drop their websites in the comments if they’d like ideas on how to optimize and improve their homepages, and then immediately gave video feedback on each comment. – Rachel Beider, PRESS Modern Massage

2. Send Customers A Text
SMS campaigns have significantly higher open and click rates than email, which often get buried. Given the lightweight messaging medium, you’ll find customers are much more receptive to hearing tidbits of news and receiving special offers via text than through any other channel, especially since their inboxes and social media feeds have become so crowded. Customers also know they’re in control with SMS, so with easy opt-out solutions they welcome engaging messages but will also unsubscribe if your messages are irrelevant to them. – Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep Mattress
3. Answer Negative Questions
Some of us focus on getting positive reviews and putting them at the forefront of our social media pages and websites. One lesser-known way of getting more engagement is answering the negative queries. Spend a good amount of time on research and discussion on how to tackle negative feedback and the steps that you need to take in order to turn that negative into a positive. These reviews have a chance to represent your company in a local community and spread the good word-of-mouth from then on. – Maria Thimothy, OneIMS

4. Personalize What And How You Share
Not all of your content is equally relevant to your entire audience and neither is its delivery method. A good tip to increase brand engagement is to personalize what you share and how you share it with audience members based on their previous interactions. If you have users who continue to engage with your video content but not your long-form blog content, stop showing those users blog content, even if it covers the exact same topic. Determine what you show each viewer based on their past engagements. By linking what they see with their prior behavior, you create much more relevant and memorable interactions with your customers that will boost your engagement across the board. – Jordan Conrad, Writing Explained
5. Visibly Celebrate Loyal Customers
Businesses need to visibly celebrate their community of loyal customers. Not only should clients be featured, but their loyalty should be celebrated on a personal level. Your blog and social media are perfect places to display your customers. Ask to take photos of your clients either using your product or after a “win.” If you find images inappropriate for your brand, offer events and contests to allow clients to be featured. For example, no matter what industry you are in, have a toy or food drive and announce who made the biggest contribution. Everyone has a bit of vanity. By showcasing a customer, they’re likely to share your celebration. Your client will feel more loyal to you and also promote your business by word-of-mouth or social media. – Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design
6. Include Clients In The Development Process
Bring your customers’ voices into the future products and services you offer. Bring customers into the development process by asking what they want, what they don’t like and what they want to see change. When you ask for audience feedback and then incorporate it into new products or updates, they will feel far more loyal to you. The key here is to show how their input was implemented retroactively. Once you launch, give them a shoutout or send them a product to gain their approval. – Matthew Podolsky, Florida Law Advisers, P.A.
7. Become The Go-To Source Of Information
Become the expert in your area and the go-to place for information. Flood your customers with tips, words of wisdom, little giveaways and tons of information. This will keep them coming back and engaging. Customers want to continue to be part of the “family.” Once they purchase something from you, make sure you can still offer value to them. Let them know your website, social media page or blog post, etc. is the place they should visit regularly to get information. Through these pages, offer value and ways for customers to engage with you and other customers. This is also a great way to get reviews and testimonials from customers to use for future selling! – Lisa Collum, Top Score Writing
8. Organize Interactive Events
Interactive events such as webinars and livestreams can be effective for getting customers engaged with your brand. Social media stories can also perform this function. The key is to present material that’s interesting and entertaining and not merely promotional. Simply reaching out to your audience with questions and invitations to express their opinions goes a long way. For example, if you’re leading a webinar or any kind of virtual event, ask as many questions as possible. Even questions not related to your product, such as where people are from, how they’re celebrating a holiday or anything timely can boost engagement. You should use this principle with all of your content. Look at communication as a two-way street, not just you broadcasting your message. – Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting

4 Problem-Solving Reasons to Develop Core Values for Your Business

We entrepreneurs crave competitive advantages. #amiright? That’s why I want to talk about developing core values for your business, and four problems they can solve.
Competitive advantages allow our small businesses to get a toehold in an industry. They allow our work to begin to make a difference consistent with our mission and vision. And they allow our companies to survive the early stage and “make it” through to later stages of maturity, growth, and prosperity.

On the surface, core values may not look like competitive advantages. But they are.

Core values bring much about your business into sharper focus. The opposite of focus—vagueness, randomness, lack of discipline, generality—gets many small businesses into trouble. Creating, launching, and emphasizing your core values mitigates those risks and allows benefits to bloom . . . as we’ll soon discover.
Various business problems can be solved, in whole or in part, by introducing core values. Here are four common problems that entrepreneurs and small business owners struggle with, and how core values can address them:
1. You suspect there’s something off with your brand positioning
Are you a service professional who isn’t quite sure why more prospective clients aren’t saying yes to your proposals? Or, perhaps you’re building a brand within a competitive market/niche and aren’t attracting the levels of traffic and audience growth you expect. And maybe these trends have been real for a while, leading you to think there’s something a bit off with how you’re positioning yourself.
If you’re having that feeling, trust it. Founders and entrepreneurs need to develop a credible sixth sense about their small businesses. This “Spidey sense” is a powerful ally in the struggle against all manner of operational and growth problems.
The problem here may be that your brand positioning just isn’t differentiated enough from others in your market. That’s where core values come in. Well-conceived core values add depth to your brand. They make you and your brand more authentic, original, and approachable. Ultimately, they serve as magnets that attract and captivate your intended “avatar”—the person you exist to serve and support—by sending clear signals that allow those individuals to match themselves with you.
A word of caution: Don’t only develop core values as a brand positioning booster. That risks creating shallow values that look and smell like a marketing gimmick. As we’ll see later in this article, core values serve to solve a range of business challenges, many—if not most—of which are internal. An internal focus is good; it speaks to the true essence of core values—what your company believes and how it chooses to conduct itself. That’s where the magic of authenticity and originality come from.
Speaking of internal challenges, one of the most common is getting on the same page with your business partner.
2. You’re struggling to maintain alignment with your business partner
If you have a business partner, you know the saying is true: a business partnership is much like a marriage. It’s filled with hopes and dreams for the future as well as the messy realities of figuring out how to realize those aspirations.
The “figuring it out” demands of a business partnership are bumpy and unavoidable terrain. You will encounter differences of opinion. You will hit decision-making roadblocks. You will not always be on the same page. The goal, therefore, in nurturing a strong and successful relationship with your business partner is to be explicit and intentional about how the relationship will navigate those bumps when you encounter them.
Core values offer a way across such troublesome terrain. They establish a set of shared principles for how to think and behave. They provide common ground to inform decision-making. They clarify the priorities of the business if and when such clarity gets lost in the fog of running the business.

When alignment with your partner starts to feel strained—and it naturally will at times—your core values will help you both return to a cooperative mindset.

The “conceived together” aspect of core values is critical. The effectiveness of core values is immediately and permanently compromised if you and your business partner didn’t conceive them together. You both have to believe in them. You both need to respect them. And in times of difficulty, you both need to defend them. When you and your partner have a common cause for your core values, you’re well-positioned to avoid misalignments that run the risk of undermining the relationship and sabotaging the business.
Core values can also have positive effects on relationships beyond that of you and your business partner. Namely, if you have a team—especially if it’s an in-house employee team—then core values are a phenomenal mechanism for instituting performance expectations and resolving performance-related issues.
3. Some members of your team aren’t performing at the required level
Building a team is equally a paramount joy and hardship of a growing small business.
On the one hand, hiring talented people who bring new perspectives, absorb important responsibilities, and deliver needed results is perhaps the most freeing experience for an entrepreneur. If you’ve reached this moment in your business, then you’re doing many things right. Congratulations!
On the other hand, many founders and entrepreneurs lack the background—and thus instincts and skills—to manage and nurture a team. It’s hard work, far harder than it looks from the outside. Job-specific expectations need to be clear for each role. And company-wide standards need to exist to establish performance consistency across the team. As the business owner or co-owner, it’s your job to maintain performance levels at all times.
What do you do when someone’s performance drops below your expectations? This will inevitably happen. Avoiding the situation because it’s uncomfortable is irresponsible. Browbeating the person in punitive terms is not constructive or admirable. And giving soft and vague feedback because that’s “being nice” is actually unkind because you deprive the person of a valuable learning opportunity they can use to develop and grow.Instead of falling into those traps, lean on your core values to guide your performance feedback.

Hopefully, every team member was exposed to your core values upon joining your team.  Hopefully, they’ve demonstrated a sincere commitment to them. And hopefully, you’ve routinely mentioned and reinforced those core values as a part of regular business operations.

Assuming all of that is true, then your core values allow you to contextualize your performance feedback in terms of the company’s core principles of thinking and behaving. Attitude problems and competency problems alike can be addressed by reflecting them against the established and sacred norms—the core values—of the business. While each person has unique job-level expectations, everyone should be held to the same standards of overall etiquette and performance as established by the core values.
Core values aren’t only useful for addressing performance issues within your team. They can also be instrumental in recruiting and hiring new talent. If you’re struggling to find high-quality candidates for an open position, consider adding your core values into the recruiting mix.
4. You’re not attracting remarkable candidates
Putting yourself out there for others to see and judge is an intimidating experience. That’s as true in business as it is in dating and life. And it’s exactly what awaits you when you reach that wonderfully dreadful moment of recruiting talent for your team.
The intimidation factor is stressful enough. Compounding it is the plausible scenario of not attracting qualified candidates for the position. The What’s wrong with me? question is real and haunting. I’ve known many entrepreneurs who have grown doubtful, even cynical, of recruiting because they’ve struggled time and again to find a solid match for their open positions. I’ve felt that twinge before, too; it’s like dating a lot and never finding that one person you click with.
There are many explanations for why you may not be garnering quality interest in your job. One big one is that the job description doesn’t fully communicate how interesting your company is beyond the tactical details of the job itself. If you describe only the nuts and bolts of the job, you won’t attract remarkable people looking for remarkable careers in remarkable workplaces and cultures. Point is: Your job description needs to illustrate much more than just the job; it needs to show the full breadth of your company’s purpose and spirit.

Core values provide your job description an almost unfair advantage in this context. When you look around at comparable job listings, you’re likely to see a bunch of ho-hum postings void of the company’s core values (or similar pillar cultural elements like a mission and vision statement). Your positioning will quickly stand out from the crowd if you go the extra mile to incorporate your company’s core values and reason for being.

Incorporating core values into your outbound recruiting will attract more serious and qualified candidates. Further, once you begin interviewing those candidates, discussing your company’s core values can help to establish deeper chemistry with them. This can play a significant or even decisive role in convincing a candidate that your company is right for them.
Those four problems are merely the beginning. Once you’ve created your core values and begun gaining confidence in using them, look for other problem areas in your business that may be addressed by applying your values to them.
As you go, remember that integrity is the overarching essence of core values. When that integrity is real and pronounced through your values, you’ll find yourself equipped with a competitive advantage more powerful than just about anything you could hope for to operate and grow your business.

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How to Make Yourself Indispensable as a Freelancer

February 22, 2021 7 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
It’s no surprise that the gig economy is skyrocketing. More than one-third of the American workforce turned to freelancing during the pandemic, and not necessarily because they lost their full-time jobs—some workers are simply filling extra time by making extra money, or supplementing their incomes to bridge the gap between stagnant wages and a nationwide rising cost of living. Others are willingly turning to freelancing for flexible hours and less stress. 
The rise of the gig economy dispels the long-held idea that an army of full-time, salaried employees are essential to running a business. In fact, the opposite is true—slim core teams with a wide network of freelancers will likely be the standard business model of the future. 
This world has become possible because technology has democratized what companies can achieve with fewer resources. Affordable SaaS solutions have replaced major infrastructure investments; lightning-fast 5G and fiber internet speeds allows remote teams to work from anywhere. Elon Musk’s Starlink project, for example, will connect users in remote areas around the world. All this underscores the shift toward individual talent without physical barriers. It’s a golden age for freelancing. 
Yet there is a significant trade-off that comes with the relatively lax work-from-anywhere lifestyle: job security. 
Having spent more than two decades as an entrepreneur in the creative industry, I’ve worked with dozens of high-profile clients and hundreds of freelancers. The gold standard, for freelancers and their clients, should be to establish long-term, rewarding, mutually beneficial relationships. For freelancers, steady work means reliable income and easier workflows; for clients, it means less stress, a knowledgeable resource and a motivated ally on your side. 
Transforming gigs from one-offs into recurring work is possible—but only if freelancers make themselves indispensable. Here are a few tips to help do that. 
Always be “on”
While employees can clock in and out of a workday without always putting in 100%, freelancers don’t have that luxury. Freelancers must be their own marketing department, accountant, creative director and client manager—as a one-person business, the stakes are higher, because you don’t have anyone else to blame if business dries up. 
When you’re dependable and your work is good, this pays off. Clients will throw more work your way. You should take it on whenever possible. You want to be there whenever they need someone; when your calendar opens up, drum up new projects. You can’t afford to slow down, especially when building new relationships—and your clients will take notice. 
Related: 11 Best Websites for Freelancers to Find Jobs and Make Money
Understand your client
Freelancers don’t just succeed by doing a job well—the best ones understand their clients’ industries and positions. Know your clients’ market trends and best practices. If you’re new to their field, spend hours researching it; once you’re done with the project, use it in your portfolio to pitch other companies in the same field, or to encourage recurring work with the same client. 
Over time, your relationship with the client may outlast their actual employees. You’ll retain institutional and industrial memory that can be invaluable in your collaboration. Offer your clients more than they ask for. Find ways to save them money. Essentially, you want to act like a model full-time employee, delivering results their own staff couldn’t achieve in-house. 
Market yourself as a collaborative partner
The best freelancers are creative partners and expert consultants. Freelancers should focus on building their own personal brands, which means maintaining a modern website and social media presence, while being experts in their field to back up their claims. 
Personally, in the creative industry, after I’d collaborated with agencies for years, some wound up hiring me as a consultant. This gave me deeper insight into their business, which allowed me to collaborate on new projects and understand their workflow more intimately. 
Be the only one who can get the job done
The most definitive interpretation of “indispensable” is being able to do things no one else can do. What can you, the outsider, offer your client that no one else can?
The standard answer would be to create work they can’t do themselves.
You’ll have to excel in your field and understand their industry deeply. But on a more ambitious level, this also means pitching bold, unsolicited ideas. Leverage your own industry knowledge to find trends you can apply to your clients. Tell them something they don’t already know. Be proactive. Lead with ideas. They won’t always take you up on your offers, but any worthwhile client will notice your personal investment in their company’s success. 
Related: Here are the Advantages of Working as a Freelancer
Be honest with your client
Clients will ask freelancers to handle all sorts of things. If you’re a freelance attorney, they might ask you for advice outside your specialty field. If you’re a photographer, they might assume you also shoot video. If you do shoot video, they could assume you also edit—and so it goes, with clients asking for more, often because you have a great working relationship and they don’t understand your industry as well as you do. 
Sometimes, you will be easily able to manage this extra work. Be flexible at first. (I once hired a camera operator to shoot a project; when he finished, he refused to upload the footage to send to me, because that “wasn’t his job.” Needless to say, I never worked with him again.)
But sometimes, the client will ask for things beyond your capabilities or their budget. Be truthful with them. If you don’t have experience doing what they want, tell them. You can always offer to tackle it regardless, but they should know it’s new to you, so they can set their expectations accordingly.
Other times, honesty means giving feedback on their assignments for you. Remember: you’re the expert. They’re coming to you for help. Make recommendations based on your industry experience—just because they have an assignment for you, doesn’t mean it’s a worthwhile assignment. Even if they’re hesitant, your honesty and knowledge can be more valuable than the work itself. 
Know the right tools
I work in the digital media space, where gig workers comprise the bedrock of every project. A major stumbling block for them is having access to all the same tools. Companies have different workflows, cloud storage platforms, collaborative software and preferred file formats. This is unavoidable—it’s up to the freelancer to understand their clients’ preferences. 
There are two ways around this. One is simply to understand their workflow; the other is to pitch them something else. My company’s field research has shown that, in determining which software to use, slightly fewer than half of all clients prefer to listen to the freelancer—this might surprise freelancers who, by default, follow the client’s lead. In reality, many small and mid-sized businesses are not aware of the best tools in your industry. If you see problems in their workflows, suggest better alternatives. After all, they’re coming to you—and you’re the expert.
Related: Entrepreneurship vs. Freelancing: What’s the Difference?

What Happens if You Don't Accept WhatsApp's New Privacy Policy?

You won’t be able to read or send messages from the app until you accept the new terms.
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February 22, 2021 2 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Two weeks after a new privacy policy was set to take effect, WhatsApp is still scrambling to inform users of their digital rights.
The chat service came under fire last month when it warned folks they had until Feb. 8 to agree to planned changes—which deal primarily with businesses using WhatsApp to send and store consumer texts. Poor communication regarding exactly what the update entails prompted backlash about how much personal data is shared with parent company Facebook. WhatsApp later delayed the rollout to May 15, giving people less than three months to accept the terms or find a new messaging platform.
In an email to one of its merchant partners, intercepted and confirmed by TechCrunch, the firm said it will “slowly ask” uncooperative users to comply “in order to have full functionality of WhatsApp.” Those who refuse consent will, “for a short time” (i.e. a few weeks) still be able to receive calls and notifications, but most important of all, they won’t be able to read or send messages from the app anymore.
According to a new FAQ page, WhatsApp will not begin deleting accounts on May 15. However, inactive accounts are generally expunged after 120 of idleness; content stored locally on a user’s device prior to deletion remains until WhatsApp is removed from the device.
Keep an eye out for an in-app banner emphasizing WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption, which the social network promised will remain in place after its updated privacy policy kicks in. “The first thing, which is the most important to know, is that WhatsApp cannot read your personal messages, and we cannot hear your personal calls,” company head Will Cathcart said in a Thursday video.
The policy, however, can empower Facebook to manage the chats you have with a business on WhatsApp; the social media giant hopes to monetize access by helping firms process chats they have with customers and potentially gain advertising insights from them.

Shoud You Sell Tesla and Buy These 3 Auto Manufacturing Stocks Instead?

February 22, 2021 6 min read
This story originally appeared on StockNews
The electric car juggernaut Tesla, Inc. (TSLA – Get Rating) completed  2020 by delivering robust performance in the face of unforeseen global challenges by rapidly expanding its manufacturing capabilities. However, the stock has lost 7.5% over the past month. It has been  struggling to keep pace with its strong competitors who are making deeper forays into the electric vehicle (EV) space, while trading at relatively lower valuations.
TSLA missed earnings estimates in the last reported quarter. Its adjusted earnings per share for the fourth quarter 2020 came in at $0.80, falling short of the consensus estimate by 22.3%. This, along with its stretched valuation, could result in further price decline for the stock in the near term.
In contrast, General Motors Company (GM – Get Rating), Tata Motors Limited (TTM – Get Rating), and Mazda Motor Corporation (MZDAY – Get Rating) look poised to outperform with their strong long-term earnings prospects and reasonable valuations.
General Motors Company (GM – Get Rating)
Headquartered in Detroit, Michigan, GM designs and sells trucks, crossovers, and automobile parts worldwide. It operates through the following segments: GM North America, GM International, Cruise, and GM Financial. In addition, it provides connected services that comprise mobile applications for electric vehicle owners to locate charging stations.
This month, GM collaborated with OneH2, and Navistar, Inc. to introduce a hydrogen truck ecosystem with hydrogen fuel cell technology. Because hydrogen is the future of zero-emission renewable energy in the heavy truck market, this partnership could help GM advance in a zero-emission long-haul transportation system and stand out in the market.
In January, GM and Cruise teamed with Microsoft (MSFT) to accelerate the commercialization of self-driving vehicles. This should help GM realize even more benefits from cloud computing as it launches 30 new electric vehicles globally by 2025 and creates new businesses and services to drive growth.
GM’s net sales and revenue under GMNA segment has increased 32.9% year-over-year to $30.17 billion in the fourth quarter, ended December 31, 2020. Its net automotive cash provided by operating activities rose 581.8% from its  year-ago value to $5.24 billion. The company reported net income of $2.85 billion, compared to a net loss of $194 million in the prior-year quarter.
A consensus EPS estimate of $0.97 for the current quarter ending March 31, 2021 represents  a 56.5% increase year-over-year. Also, GM has an impressive earnings surprise history; the company beat the Street’s EPS estimates in each of the trailing four quarters. The consensus revenue estimate of $33.5 billion for the current quarter represents a 2.4% increase from the same period last year. The stock has gained 50.5% over the past year.
In terms of its forward non-GAAP p/e ratio, GM is currently trading at 10.09x, which is significantly lower than TSLA’s 186.41x.
GM’s POWR Ratings reflect this promising outlook. The stock has an overall rating of B, which equates to Buy in our proprietary rating system. The POWR Ratings are calculated by considering 118 different factors with each factor weighted to an optimal degree.
GM has a B grade for Growth and Value. Of the 52 stocks in the C-rated Auto & Vehicle Manufacturers industry, GM is ranked #18.
In total, we rate GM on eight different levels. Beyond what we stated above we also have given GM grades for Stability, Sentiment, Momentum, and Quality. Get all the GM ratings here.
Note that GM is one of the few stocks handpicked currently in the Reitmeister Total Return portfolio. Learn more here.
Tata Motors Limited (TTM – Get Rating)
TTM is a designer, manufacturer, and seller of passenger cars, sports utility vehicles, small commercial vehicles and pickup trucks, buses, and heavy commercial vehicles. It operates in India, China, the United States, Europe, and internationally and sells its products under the brand names – Tata, Daewoo, Fiat, Jaguar, and Land Rover.
Jaguar Land Rover, the luxury automotive brand owned by TTM, recently introduced its  “Reimagine” strategy, which will culminate  in the brand becoming an all-electric offering by 2025, with the first all-electric Land Rover model set to debut in 2024. This will create a new benchmark in the global automotive industry that should help the company realize its potential and reinforce the brand’s appeal to its customers.
TTM’s revenue has increased 5.5% year-over-year to ₹75.65K crores in the third quarter, ended December 31, 2020. Its EBITDA rose 540 basis points to 14.8%, while its EBIT rose 450 basis points to 6.4%. The company’s JLR segment sales grew 13.1% sequentially to 128,469 vehicles, and TTM reported a positive free cash flow of ₹2.2K crores under the TML segment.
Analysts expect its EPS to grow at a rate of 6.9% per annum over the next five years. Also, the stock has gained 92.7% over the past year.
In terms of forward ev/sales ratio, TTM is currently trading at 0.73x, which is much lower than TSLA’s 15.48x.
It is no surprise that TTM has an overall rating of B, which translates to a Buy in our POWR Ratings system. TTM has an A grade for Sentiment, and a B grade for Growth and Value. In the same industry, it is ranked #10.
In addition to the POWR Ratings grades I’ve just highlighted, you can see the TTM ratings for Stability, Quality, and Momentum here.
Mazda Motor Corporation (MZDAY – Get Rating)
Headquartered in Hiroshima, Japan, MZDAY is the manufacturer and seller of passenger cars and commercial vehicles in Japan, North America, Europe, China, and internationally. The company’s primary products include four-wheeled vehicles, gasoline engines, diesel engines, and automatic and manual transmissions for vehicles.
MZDAY’s ordinary income has increased 38.3% year-over-year to ¥22.17 billion in the third quarter, ended December 31, 2020. Its gross profit rose 2% from the year-ago value to ¥176.31 billion, while its cash and cash equivalent increased 31.3% from the end of the previous fiscal year to ¥745.6 billion. The company’s extraordinary income rose 152.65 year-over-year to ¥384 million.
A consensus revenue estimate of $27 billion for the current quarter, ending March 31, 2021, represents a 12.2% increase from the same period last year. The stock has gained 2.8% over the past year.
In terms of forward ev/sales ratio, MZDAY is currently trading at 0.26x, which is much lower than TSLA’s 15.48x.
MZDAY’s strong fundamentals are reflected in its POWR Ratings. The stock has an overall rating of B, which translates to a Buy in our POWR Ratings system. MZDAY has a B grade for both Value and Stability. It is ranked #12 among the 52 stocks in the Auto & Vehicle Manufacturers industry.
Click here to see the additional POWR Ratings for MZDAY (Sentiment, Growth, Momentum, and Quality).
The POWR Ratings are calculated by considering 118 different factors with each factor weighted to an optimal degree.
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7 Lessons From Larry King on Straight-Shooting in Life and Business

February 22, 2021 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Larry King was a legendary interviewer with a career spanning decades and a list of wives that looks like a roster for a women’s basketball team. He was married eight times.
I’ll always remember watching his 1999 interview with Prince and thinking how comfortable he made Prince look during the interview. His direct questions really got to the heart of the man and his music.
I’ve learned a lot over the years from Larry King and his very successful career as both an entrepreneur and master interviewer. Here are the seven lessons that have stayed with me.
Make other people the star
One of the things that Larry King was known for was making other people the star of his interviews. He tried not to take the spotlight himself and let the people he was interviewing shine. Ora media, which King co-founded, announced at his death, “Larry always viewed his interview subjects as the true stars of his programs, and himself as merely an unbiased conduit between the guest and audience.” 
As an entrepreneur, the ability to put the customer and client’s needs above your own is critical to success in business. It doesn’t matter how much you like your product or service. If your customers don’t like it you won’t make sales.
Related: Larry King Shares 9 Lessons on How to Become a Master …
Ask concise questions to get the answers you want
One of the things that Larry King was well known for was his concise interview style. He asked short questions that got right to the point. And he often got information from people that surprised both them and him.
I’ve found in business that a direct and concise style can often get you much better results than waffling about. People respect people who are direct. They know where they stand with you and they will often do more for someone who is direct about the questions they are asking.
Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t pay to be rude. And Larry King was almost never rude, but directness can set you apart from others who beat around the bush.
Don’t worry too much about people liking you
While being professional is important in business and having a good personality helps, there are times where people aren’t going to like you. Especially your competitors.
You can’t be too bothered by this. If you try to make everyone like you all of the time you are going to have a hard time succeeding in business.
One of King’s most famous quotes is: “I never think of access or good will. I just want a good interview. I want guests to be informative and entertaining. I’ve never been concerned about someone’s liking me tomorrow.”
This is a smart approach to life and business. Approach your work with professionalism and don’t worry too much about people liking you.
Do one thing really well
Larry King had either wives over the course of his life and lots of hobbies, but he did one thing very, very well: interview people.
When you focus and develop your skills to become an expert in one area you can offer your customers and clients unparalleled service and expertise. And everyone wants to do business with an expert in their field.
By becoming an expert, instead of a “jack of all trades,” you can command premium rates for your products and services. It really pays off in the long run.
Related: What 60,000 Interviews Taught Larry King
Be a professional no matter who you’re dealing with
In a Television Academy interview, Larry King said: “I never sat down with a President of the United States or a world leader or head of a country and thought, ‘whew, this is the head of a country — I have to be different!’ I’m still every man. What would a guy in the street say to Chirac of France if you had a chance to talk to him?”
This ability to treat Joe the sandwich maker and the President of the United States the same way is an important trait.
I have a friend in the defense industry who meets with presidents and senators and she feels very much the same way. She treats each person with dignity and respect and tries to give the best possible service to everyone, regardless of their position.
Quantity matters
It’s estimated that Larry King did over 60,000 interviews over the course of his career. That’s a lot, and doing a lot of something is how you get good at things.
When it comes to succeeding in business, being the best gives you an advantage. And you get to be the best by lots and lots of practice. So do what you are good at and hone your skills.
Keep on keeping on
Larry King was determined to keep on working until he died. And he did just that, with his most recent episode premiering just two weeks before his death on his YouTube series.
When you can keep on going through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship you will give yourself an edge and a much, much better chance at success.
Larry King is a legend. He had massive success in an industry that is often fickle. And he did that by being one of the best in the business at interviews and by always putting his client first.
Those are great lessons for any entrepreneur to follow.
Related: 9 Multimillionaires Who Lost It All but Came Back