business education en-US 3 Ways to Get a Legit Business Education Online <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/3-ways-to-get-a-legit-business-education-online" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="businessman computer" title="businessman computer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="145" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Business majors are in demand. A recent survey by Millennial Branding and found that <a href="">18% of companies are interested in hiring business majors</a> &mdash; second only to the 27% of companies looking to hire engineering and computer majors.</p> <p>There's a need for people with business degrees, or at least business skills. And the Internet offers a dizzying number of flexible, low-cost options for learning the ways of business. (See also: <a href="">8 Cheap Ways to Continue Your Education Without Going Back to School</a>)</p> <p>Here are three approaches to getting a quality business education online.</p> <h2>1. Earn a Degree</h2> <p>A growing number of schools that offer traditional undergrad and graduate degrees in business now offer completely or mostly online options for obtaining a degree. Such programs typically have admissions requirements that are just as rigorous as their on-campus degree programs, although some offer open admissions, meaning all you need is a high school degree or a GED. Participating in a degree program is, by far, the most expensive route toward an online business education. Still, if it's an actual degree you're after, online programs are less expensive than on-campus programs.</p> <p>To help sort through the various online degree offerings, a few organizations list, rank, or help you search for programs that meet your needs or interests:</p> <ul> <li><a href="">U.S. News &amp; World Report</a> ranks online programs in general (not by program) and graduate business programs, using criteria such as faculty credentials, student services, and student engagement (opportunities for interaction with other students and teachers).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href=""></a> offers various online program rankings, from the 20 Best Online <a href="">Bachelor's in Business Management Degree</a> Programs to the 20 Best Online <a href="">Bachelor's in Marketing Degree</a> Programs. Its criteria includes academic excellence, return on investment, and &quot;incidental benefit&quot; (student satisfaction, graduation rates, campus safety, and more).</li> </ul> <p>Of course, if there's a particular school you're interested in, just search on the name of the school and &quot;online business degree&quot; to find out if it offers such a program.</p> <p>At the early stages, though, the below examples ought to give you a sense of how some school's online programs match up to there on-campus counterparts.</p> <h3>Penn State</h3> <p>Penn State offers numerous online undergrad and graduate business degrees through its <a href="">World Campus</a>. Tuition costs $518 to $559 per credit &mdash; almost 25% less than the in-state on-campus tuition. Compared to the out-of-state tuition, the online costs are less than half the price.</p> <h3>Indiana University</h3> <p>Indiana University's well-regarded <a href="">Kelley School of Business</a>, likewise, offers an online MBA (students need to spend one week on campus in Bloomington, IN for an &quot;intense introduction to the program&quot;). Tuition costs $1,175 per credit hour. With 51 credit hours required, that comes to nearly $60,000 plus about $100 per course for books and other course materials. By contrast, the school's on-campus two-year MBA program costs $104,000 for in-state students and $143,000 for out-of-state students, including tuition, fees, and room and board.</p> <h3>Northwestern University</h3> <p>At Northwestern University, you can't get an online MBA, but you can get an online Master's Degree in <a href="">Integrated Marketing Communications</a>. It costs $3,744 per class (13 classes required), $115 technology fee per class, and a $500 deposit for a total of a bit over $50,000. By comparison, the five-term, full-time on-campus Integrated Marketing Communications program costs over $130,000, including tuition, room and board, health insurance, books, and everything else.</p> <h3>University of Phoenix</h3> <p>And finally, a lower cost option is to obtain a degree from the <a href="">University of Phoenix</a>, which has been providing online learning for 20 years and is the nation's largest for-profit college. Beware, though, according to <a href="">an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education</a>, this school came under fire last year over questions about retention and graduation rates, some of its educational processes, and other issues. Ultimately, it was re-accredited, but told that it needs to make certain improvements.</p> <h2>2. Earn a Credential</h2> <p>If you don't need a full-fledged degree, but still want some type of credential to show for your efforts, there are several options.</p> <h3>Harvard CORe</h3> <p>Harvard just introduced a $1,500 online <a href="">HBX CORe program</a> (Credential of Readiness) consisting of three business courses: business analytics, economics for managers, and financial accounting. It's designed for undergrad students who want some business knowledge, non-business grad students, and those early in their careers. Right now, the program is limited to students who live in Massachusetts, but eventually the school plans to introduce additional business classes and make them available to students worldwide.</p> <h3>Extension Programs</h3> <p>Many schools offer certificate programs through their extension or continuing education programs. For example, <a href="">UCLA</a> offers numerous online business certificate programs, such as a Business Administration Certificate With Concentration in Finance for a total of just under $11,000.</p> <h3>MOOCs</h3> <p>Online platforms such as <a href="">Coursera</a>, <a href="">NovoEd</a>, <a href="">edX</a>, the Open University on <a href="">iTunes U</a>, and <a href="">Udacity</a> offer a huge number business classes, some of which offer the option to obtain a certificate for an additional fee.</p> <p>The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania now makes its first-year MBA classes, such as <a href="">An Introduction to Financial Accounting</a>, available for free through Coursera, including a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructor and issued by Coursera.</p> <p>Coursera and other online platforms also offer higher-level certificates that are issued by the platform and the partner university. For example, you can take a class from Vanderbilt through Coursera called <a href="">Leading Strategic Innovation in Organizations</a>. The course may be taken for free. Or, if you want a Verified Certificate, that costs $49. While such certificates don't represent college credit, they may provide stronger proof that you successfully completed the course, a bit more prestige, and perhaps more help in obtaining tuition reimbursement from an employer.</p> <h2>3. Gain Some Knowledge</h2> <p>MIT's <a href="">OpenCourseWare</a> site offers MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) content from over 2,000 of the school's courses, including many undergrad and graduate classes from the Sloan School of Management. While you can't get a degree from completing the courses, they are all free. You can download lecture notes, assignments, exams, and in some cases, video lectures.</p> <p>Many other universities, such as <a href="">Stanford</a>, make many of their courses available in similar fashion.</p> <p>One of the more innovative uses of these free online courses can be seen in the experience of Laurie Pickard. From her home in Rwanda, where she works for the United States Agency for International Development, she's working through a handpicked assortment of free online grad school classes from some of the world's best business schools. While she won't receive an official MBA, she'll have what she considers to be the equivalent. She's chronicling her experience at an appropriately named <a href="">No Pay MBA</a> blog.</p> <p>You'll find countless free online non-credit classes on the platforms mentioned earlier: Coursera, NovoEd, edX, iTunes U, Udacity, and others.</p> <h2>No Shortage of Online Learning Options</h2> <p>Online education is a fast-growing space, with a lot of experimentation going on among schools and platforms. Many questions are emerging along with that growth, such as how much value employers will place on an online degree versus a traditional degree, and how resume-worthy are non-credit or certificate classes. But for students looking for flexible, low-cost learning opportunities, there have never been so many options to choose from.</p> <p><em>Have you taken an online university class? What's been your experience?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Matt Bell</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">7 Times You Should Choose Private School Over Public</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">10 Things You Didn’t Learn in College (but You Should Have)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">7 Things You Need to Know Before Taking Online Classes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">3 Ways Obama&#039;s Free Community College Deal Will Help You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">5 Master&#039;s Degrees That Will Drastically Increase Your Earning Power</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Education & Training Personal Development business education education MBA online classes online college Thu, 26 Jun 2014 21:00:04 +0000 Matt Bell 1149172 at Why You Don't Need a College Degree to Succeed <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/why-you-dont-need-a-college-degree-to-succeed" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="man with ideas" title="man with ideas" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Most people think that a college education is crucial for success in today's working world. However, many people also lament the outrageous cost of tuition these days. In fact, over the past several decades, tuition rates have increased at about <a target="_blank" href="">twice the general inflation rate</a>. (See also: <a target="_blank" href="">12 Business Founders Who Succeeded Without a College Degree</a>)</p> <p>Could there be a way to get started &mdash; and succeed &mdash; in the real world without a college degree? Can you live large without budgeting for college?</p> <p>Absolutely.</p> <p>The fact is, there are tons of jobs available that don't require a degree. A high school diploma is all you really need to get started in the working world.</p> <h2>No Degree Required</h2> <p>As part of my research for this post, I did a broad search on <a target="_blank" href="">CareerBuilder</a> for jobs that only required a high school diploma. Guess how many jobs I found?</p> <p>Over 100,000. That's a significant amount.</p> <p>Now, let me guess what you're probably thinking. &quot;Most of these are just sales jobs or entry-level jobs. I don't want to do those jobs forever! I can't get ahead in those types of roles!&quot;</p> <p>I'll address <a target="_blank" href="">the issue with entry-level jobs</a> later. But first, let's talk about sales jobs.</p> <p>Learning how to sell is a valuable skill. We're <a target="_blank" href="">always selling in some way</a>, shape, or form. In fact, nothing happens in business until a sale is made.</p> <p>We sell ourselves when we're trying to convince a potential employer to hire us. We sell our ideas when we want our colleagues to take a particular course of action. And we sell our products and services so that we have enough revenue to pay our employees' salaries.</p> <p>So it literally pays to learn how to sell. And it doesn't need to be a sleazy profession. Selling can be done ethically.</p> <p>Now, on to the second issue&nbsp;&mdash; moving up from an entry level job.</p> <h2>Career Development Via Tuition Reimbursement</h2> <p>If you think you'll be confined to an entry-level position for the rest of your career, think again. You can gain new skills and further your education <em>after</em> you first get your foot in the door. Better yet, you can do this essentially without any money coming out of your pocket.</p> <p>How?</p> <p>As a <a target="_blank" href="">benefit provided to full-time employees</a>, many companies offer tuition reimbursement. This benefit covers educational programs that provide vocational skill development. Why would they do this?</p> <p>To gain a more effective workforce. The more skills you have, the more valuable you are to the company. And as an added benefit, they also get a tax deduction for this.</p> <p>Currently you can claim reimbursement for $5,250 worth of courses per year, every year. This, like a 401k matching contribution, is like free money that's too good to pass up.</p> <p>Drilling down on the previous CareerBuilder search, I entered the keyword, &quot;tuition reimbursement.&quot; More than 12,000 job openings showed up.</p> <p>So what courses should you take?</p> <p>There are many options, and you can certainly take courses that apply to your current position or likely career path. But I'm going to recommend a somewhat non-traditional class &mdash; <a target="_blank" href="">Dale Carnegie Course: Effective Communications &amp; Human Relations/Skills For Success</a>.</p> <p>Many successful people, including billionaire Warren Buffett, have taken and recommend this course. In fact, Mr. Buffett doesn't hang his diplomas from University of Nebraska or Columbia Business School on his office wall. He does, however, keep his Dale Carnegie diploma proudly displayed. &quot;<a target="_blank" href="">It changed my life</a>,&quot; he said.</p> <p>If this course made such a huge difference in the life of one of the world's wealthiest men, what could it do for you and I?</p> <p>You can usually get this course reimbursed if you take it as part of a certificate program. I'm currently completing the program in <a target="_blank" href="">Organizational Leadership</a> [PDF].</p> <h2>Skills That You DO Need</h2> <p>I'm not saying that a formal degree isn't required in all cases. Obviously, if you want to enter a specialized profession, such as medicine or law, you'll need the formal training and education.</p> <p>Many other career paths, however, are not as stringent in their education requirements.</p> <p>If you have the drive, the focus, the commitment, and the self-motivation, you can succeed in the working world without a college degree.</p> <p><em>Have you found success in the working world without a college degree? What worked for you?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Darren Wu</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">8 Tips for Going Back to School as an Adult</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Are You Pursuing an Overcrowded Career Field?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">8 Colleges With the Best Programs to Get You Jobs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">10 Great Jobs for College Students</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">5 Tips for My Career-Clueless College Self</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career Building Education & Training business education college first jobs Wed, 10 Apr 2013 09:48:32 +0000 Darren Wu 971675 at 12 Ways to Improve Your Performance at Work <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/12-ways-to-improve-your-performance-at-work" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="outdoor meeting" title="outdoor meeting" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="193" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>On the New River Trail in Virginia, a business owner taught me a valuable lesson on ways to improve performance.</p> <p>After renting bikes from an employee at her shop, we experienced gearing problems that worsened as we traveled. During a notable struggle, a couple stopped and asked if we were OK. I referenced the mechanical difficulty and the woman (who happened to be the shop owner) recognized the bike as one of her rentals, traded bikes with me, and gave me instructions on what to tell her employee when we returned.</p> <p>Had the owner been inside all day, she would not have seen the gap between the ideal experience and the actual one. Getting out of the office is one way to learn what is happening in the field and quickly solve problems.</p> <p>I am sure you have had similar experiences, noticing actions others could take to improve their performance, whether they own a business or work for an employer.</p> <p>When you are in the midst of day-to-day busyness and occasional work-related chaos, the path to better results may not be immediately obvious.</p> <p>Time spent talking with people about their jobs, dealing with those who struggle, learning from those who excel, and adjusting habits myself have taught me a few ways to improve on-the-job performance. (See also: <a href="" target="_blank">Stupid Reasons Why People Make More Money</a>)</p> <h2>1. Get Out of the Office</h2> <p>If you want to improve your performance, you must see what your employees are doing and how customers are using your products, at least occasionally. Get out of your office and travel to the sales, distribution, or production floor, wherever your people are. Observe how sales and service employees interact with customers, distribution folks organize inventory and fill orders, or production team members set up machines and check quality. And talk with people, employees and customers alike, to allow them to share their perspectives (whether you agree or not).</p> <p>You&rsquo;ll likely discover a few discrepancies between what you expected and what is really happening. Drawing on these observations and conversations, tweak or restyle the environment, workflow, procedures, systems, etc. to assure that you and your employees are able to meet and exceed performance targets.</p> <h2>2. Learn Why, Not Just What and How</h2> <p>Understanding your purpose within the broader context of the company&rsquo;s mission can help you make better decisions faster. When you grasp how your job affects your employer&rsquo;s ability to serve customers, for example, you can act more intentionally and less robotically when quirky requests arise.</p> <p>You definitely need to master the content of your job description first. Otherwise, you&rsquo;ll seem like a lazy, sloppy worker who touts that she gets the &quot;big picture&quot; but can&rsquo;t handle basic duties. But knowing the overarching strategy of your company, team, and job function can help you navigate complicated issues and show others that you are capable of higher level responsibilities.</p> <h2>3. Run a Better Meeting</h2> <p>Conduct meetings that propel you forward, instead of keep you struggling with the same tired predicaments. To get there, you&rsquo;ll need to move beyond the good but incomplete guidance to prepare and stick with an agenda for an effective meeting.</p> <p>Consider adding these requirements to your meeting game plan:</p> <ul type="disc"> <li>Determine what you want to accomplish in the meeting (this step may involve putting together a proposal ahead of time so that you don&rsquo;t simply toss around ideas in the meeting)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Figure out whether you can reach your goals through an email or a face-to-face session with just one or two individuals (and cancel the meeting if you don't really need one)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Provide an agenda along with proposals and status updates before the meeting, and let everyone know what decisions are to be made so that participants can prepare for the session<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Ask for feedback and deal with concerns prior to the meeting, if possible, making sure that discussions are transparent and all who should be involved are part of important decisions<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Start the meeting on time and move through key points, allowing plenty of discussion but preventing side issues from dominating the conversation<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Take immediate action on decisions made at the meeting.</li> </ul> <p>For more discussion on how to run a better meeting, read the book &quot;<a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=1936719169&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20" target="_blank">Read This Before Your Next Meeting</a>.&quot;</p> <h2>4. Automate One Aspect of Your Work</h2> <p>Get more done faster by automating a routine activity. For example, <a href="" target="_blank">create an email template for certain types of inquiries</a>, build a knowledge base that your staff can reference for routine situations, or create an Excel spreadsheet to handle certain types of calculations.</p> <p>Naturally, your efficiency will increase when handling these matters. But more importantly, because you are not using brainpower on mundane tasks, you will be able to tackle more challenging assignments.</p> <h2>5. Learn When to Sprint</h2> <p>Discern when you need to sprint (<a href="" target="_blank">go all out, for a short period of time</a>), instead of pacing yourself steadily for a long race. There are moments when you need to make quick decisions, days that you should go the extra mile, weeks when you need to accelerate your thoughts and actions to beat a deadline, and high-volume seasons when you must work extra hours.</p> <p>You can&rsquo;t go hard all the time. A consistently tired, burned-out employee doesn&rsquo;t perform well.</p> <p>But there are times when you need to apply extra, concentrated effort. Your boss may tell you outright when you are expected to stay late, your colleagues or customers might hint at their needs, or you may recognize situations that could benefit from intense focus. Being able to manage those short bursts and keep them from becoming routine can help you to improve performance at all times.</p> <h2>6. Learn More About Technology</h2> <p>No matter how adept you are at using technology, you can broaden your capabilities. Some knowledge can be put to use immediately for better results. For example, <a href="" target="_blank">you might take 15 minutes to learn how to use an online survey tool</a>, and another few minutes to design and send a survey to a group of customers.</p> <p>But even if you have no urgent need, becoming more skilled in tools you already use or getting familiar with new applications can guide long range planning or prompt ideas about ways to harness technology for a long standing issue.</p> <h2>7. Learn to Upsell</h2> <p>Whatever your take on corporate mandates to encourage add-on sales (that is, asking if the customer wants fries with the burger or an extended warranty for the electronics purchase) or push a higher priced product when the basic one seems fine, <a href="" target="_blank">you can learn to upsell</a> while building great relationships with customers.</p> <p>The highest performing salespeople tend to have a talent for interacting with people and the ability to pinpoint customer needs (and wants). If you&rsquo;ve been struggling with canned pitches that seem to disregard customer relationships and don&rsquo;t deliver results, consider doing the following:</p> <ul type="disc"> <li>Learn and show that you know as much as possible about your company&rsquo;s products and services, marketing position, differentiating features, and real world applications compared to competitive offerings and substitutes.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Gain expertise in how customers use products and services in various scenarios (whether these are manufacturer approved uses or not).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Listen to customers without making assumptions and ask probing questions about their requirements or anticipated usage, preferences, and expectations.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Make a recommendation in a non-pressured way that allows the customer to affirm (and buy!) your selection or give you more information about concerns, needs, etc. so that you can formulate even better advice.</li> </ul> <p>Most people appreciate a tailored approach that clues them into why certain items could be beneficial and why certain features cost more, instead of being offered products indiscriminately.</p> <h2>8. Clean Up Your Space</h2> <p>Einstein&rsquo;s take on a cluttered work space (&quot;If a cluttered desk signs a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?&quot;) may <a href="" target="_blank">inspire you to leave a mess in your office</a>. But you may not be as efficient as you think, even if you know which pile contains what pieces of information. There&rsquo;s a psychic cost to having random stuff around, which may include fear that you&rsquo;ve forgotten something or missed an important deadline.</p> <p>Even if you have high productivity with a messy space, <a href="" target="_blank">most of your coworkers will still consider you unorganized or even lazy</a>. Generally, you&rsquo;ll need their cooperation with small matters and collaboration on major projects, so decluttering can improve internal relationships and win the support needed to achieve performance targets.</p> <h2>9. Improve Your Professional Capabilities</h2> <p>Keep learning.</p> <p>Read books, take classes, participate in industry events, earn certifications, etc. Even if the latest research tells you things you already know, you&rsquo;ll be able expertly articulate your position and increase your credibility among peers, leading to better communication and results. And, even if you disagree with the latest management or leadership techniques, knowing what people are talking about when they mention &quot;<a href="" target="_blank">blue ocean strategies</a>&quot;&nbsp;or tell women to &quot;<a href="" target="_blank">lean in</a>&quot;&nbsp;is useful.</p> <p>More significantly, however, you may learn something new that you can apply to improving performance immediately.</p> <h2>10. Explain Obstacles to Your Boss</h2> <p>Let your boss know about insurmountable obstacles. Just be sure that you&rsquo;ve done your research, experimented with different methods to overcome these challenges, and pinpointed underlying problems. And, ideally, when you talk about obstacles, present a proposal with a solution and the resources required for implementation.</p> <p>There&rsquo;s a line between communicating roadblocks and shirking your job duties because of everyday difficulties. So, when you voice concerns, be sure to display innovative thinking and not tired exasperation. If your boss is reasonable and you&rsquo;re willing to try a fresh approach, you may be able to put an end to pervasive problems and achieve unprecedented outcomes.</p> <h2>11. Close the Feedback Loop</h2> <p>If you&rsquo;ve gotten even a smidgen of negative feedback in the last several months, check to see whether you&rsquo;ve successfully made changes envisioned by your boss or customers. You may have quickly made adjustments that led to obviously superior results. But you could have misinterpreted comments and fixed unrelated issues. Or, you may have dismissed concerns as fleeting grumpiness whereas your boss considered them clearly defined needs for improvement or your customers thought of them as deal-breakers if left unfixed.</p> <p>Whatever you did after receiving feedback, starting this conversation should help improve your performance. You may discover that adjustments have been well received and your boss or key customer appreciates your initiative, leading to greater connection that helps you work more effectively. And, well, if you totally missed the meaning of the feedback, it&rsquo;s better to find out now, instead of during an annual review or customer meeting.</p> <h2>12. Revisit Performance Objectives</h2> <p>Look at performance goals to refresh your memory, refocus your efforts, and reenergize your resolve to make things happen according to plan. Annual objectives are often developed using ideal circumstances as the norm. But as the year progresses, priorities shift, crises erupt, budgets get slashed, etc. So, even if you think you are doing all that your company requires based on immediate feedback, you should still revisit those documented goals.</p> <p>You could discover that the work habits you formed &mdash; when dealing with temporary setbacks, for example &mdash; have prevented you from meeting performance standards. You might notice that you were supposed to complete a couple of one-off tasks, like attend a professional seminar or develop a short list of alternate vendors for a routine purchase. You may recall that your boss put a high priority on a project, which seems to have stalled since then.</p> <p>Take action to adjust your routine to meet and exceed those standards, get those small but important chores completed, or raise the urgency of the project with your boss.</p> <p>The vision of the business owner I encountered on the bike trail was surely for patrons to enjoy a carefree ride, not struggle with broken equipment. She wasn't perfect, but she made things right as quickly as she noticed a mistake. Like her, pay attention to what's happening around you, and you'll likely find ways to improve your performance at work.</p> <p><em>What have you done to improve your performance at work?</em></p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="//;;description=12%20Ways%20to%20Improve%20Your%20Performance%20at%20Work" data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-config="above" data-pin-color="red" data-pin-height="28"><img src="//" alt="" /></a> </p> <!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><script type="text/javascript" async defer src="//"></script></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="" alt="12 Ways to Improve Your Performance at Work" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Ace Your Next Performance Review With These 7 Tricks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Why You Don&#039;t Need a College Degree to Succeed</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">The 7 Best Free Tools to Improve Your Work Performance</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">12 Ways to Finally Get That Promotion This Year</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">7 Ways to Ace Your Next Performance Review</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career Building business education career advancement performance review work performance Mon, 08 Apr 2013 10:24:41 +0000 Julie Rains 971614 at 27 Real-Life Small Business Mistakes...and What They Learned <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="" target="_blank"></a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/27-real-life-small-business-mistakesand-what-they-learned" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Twenty-seven ways you can mess up in small business means twenty-seven ways you can learn something and do better the next time. You don't build success on success alone; you build success on one failure after another &mdash; if you learn from those failures and move forward. What can you learn from these real-life business mistakes?</p> <p><strong>1. Depending on a single source.</strong></p> <p>Scott Newman, president of <a target="_blank" href="">Massachusetts-based US Markerboard</a>, was depending largely on a single manufacturer for his product. When the manufacturer took on another distributor and wasn't able to meet US Markerboard's product needs, Newman found himself scrambling to find manufacturers, compare products and prices, and fill his orders in the middle of his busiest time of the year.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Don't place your business success in the hands of a single manufacturer, distributor, or other source.</p> <p><strong>2. Not developing supplier relationships soon enough.</strong></p> <p>Newman regrets not beginning to develop supplier relationships long before his need arose, which would have given him the time to do research, compare prices, negotiate terms, and schedule his orders in time to get them delivered when he needed them.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Even if you currently do not need additional supply sources, you should be looking and comparing long before you do. Developing solid relationships takes time, and you don't want to be forced to settle for what's available when the time comes.</p> <p><strong>3. Missing the obvious.</strong></p> <p>Sometimes the thing that will make your business a success is so obvious you miss it. That's what happened to Kirk Ward, a retired accountant who wasted time and money on various Internet marketing ideas, none of them successful, before realizing his business was sitting in a box, in the form of all the marketing materials he had created over the course of his accounting career. Ward turned them into a collection of articles, tools, and online classes for accountants, <a target="_blank" href="">Secrets of Marketing Accounting Services</a>, and started selling what he already knew.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: The newest, biggest, brightest, shiniest product or idea doesn't necessarily become the best business venture. Much of your value as a future business success is in what you already know. Dig into your own experience and expertise first.</p> <p><strong>4. Assuming that a professional product will solve all your problems.</strong></p> <p>Ward's initial success with his marketing-for-accountants website hit a major speed bump when he decided to trade in his &quot;cheaply made custom software&quot; for a professional, packaged, pricier software. Ward's customers started complaining, and Ward found himself losing the business he'd built up and unable to get help from the professional customer service team attached to the software.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Don't assume that a professional name, image, or package guarantees a professional performance or a professional, helpful support team. Do your research before you invest in pricier options, get real feedback from real people, and then make your choice based on what you find from that research.</p> <p><strong>5. Staying with something that's not working.</strong></p> <p>For small business owners of all stripes, making a big investment in some sort of professional solution, product innovation, or outsourced help can be a real boon. But if it isn't, and the investment isn't worth the return, many small business owners tend to stay with the investment for too long.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: If you spend money on something that turns out to be a flop, realize it quickly and let it go as fast as you can. You may not be able to recover that investment, but the more time you waste on trying to make something worthless into something worthwhile, the more money you lose in profitability and growth.</p> <p><strong>6. Not checking your URL.</strong></p> <p>Since the Internet is so undeniably a part of commerce, grabbing a business URL and setting up a business website is (or should be) an assumed part of any business marketing plan. URLs can come with a history, however, and not always a good one. In the case of Derrith Lambka, CEO of <a target="_blank" href="">how-to website</a>, his URL came with a blacklist notation. The company which had owned the URL before Lambka had gotten blacklisted by Google; it took petitioning to be recognized as a new company, with a significant delay in building website traffic, before was cleared and able to start growing.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Do your homework on URL purchases before you invest hundreds or thousands of dollars. A formerly blacklisted URL doesn't mean you can't clear it and use it, but far better to know about the problem and start solving it from Day One, while you get a website built and content created, than to figure it out months down the road.</p> <p><strong>7. Not developing a cohesive marketing plan.</strong></p> <p>Even experts can miss important business steps. Leslie Truex, author of <a target="_blank" href="http://www.workathomesuccessbible/"><i>The Work-At-Home Success Bible</i></a>, cites her own failure to develop a marketing plan that was more than &quot;a hodgepodge of tactics that I'd throw together when business dropped.&quot;</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Lack of a marketing plan means you'll be scrambling to come up with some method when business gets tight. To succeed, you need to be marketing consistently, building relationships, developing a cohesive brand and image, and laying the foundation for a business that keeps growing from the first day onward.</p> <p><strong>8. Not marketing on a daily basis.</strong></p> <p>Truex shares that, &quot;it's easier to maintain a steady stream of business if I include marketing in my daily business activities.&quot; Many small business owners make the mistake of marketing only in case of emergency: we're out of funds, we're out of customers, we lost a client, we need cash now. Haphazard marketing will yield only haphazard results.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Market your business daily. Even ten or twenty minutes every day, consistently spent on a good marketing strategy, will build into a steady stream of relationships, referrals, and business growth.</p> <p><strong>9. Assuming that others will do the right thing.</strong></p> <p>While trust is an important part of business relationships, you shouldn't assume that your employees are trustworthy just because you are. Cyndi Finkle was running a successful business catering for television crews when three of her own employees overheard her say that she had no competition. They promptly, and secretly, formed their own business and began contacting Finkle's clients while still working for Finkle's company. &quot;Since I do the right thing, I always believed that others would do the right thing,&quot; says Finkle. &quot;But I learned that not all people have the same work or moral ethic &mdash; and that, when given the opportunity, others will lie and steal and cheat.&quot;</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Paranoia won't serve you well, but awareness of the simple truth that greed is a powerful motivation is important. Finkle, now running <a target="_blank" href="">Art Works studio and classroom</a>, as well as her catering business, puts it this way: &quot;in order to protect yourself, you need to be more careful and less trustworthy &mdash; especially of people you do not know directly.&quot;</p> <p><strong>10. Mistaking a business relationship for a personal relationship.</strong></p> <p>Since small business owners do invest so much personally into their businesses, from home office space to personal finances, in many cases, it's easy for them to invest emotionally in business relationships in the same way they might invest in personal relationships. While business relationships are often as beneficial and long-term as some personal relationships, you can't assume the same level of personal commitment that you would from a family member or close friend.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Business relationships can turn into valued personal relationships, but don't mistake one for the other. Invest in your business relationship, but don't depend on them, and don't approach them with the assumption that you share mutual values and goals.</p> <p><strong>11. Not hiring help soon enough.</strong></p> <p>Moving from one-man shop to small business with employees is a difficult transition. Hana Johnson, owner of <a target="_blank" href="">Hair Flairs LLC</a>, notes that, &quot;once you are overwhelmed, overworked, and stretched too thin, then the hiring process becomes burdensome and becomes a chore in itself.&quot; Johnson's own experience shows that every new hire leads to new business growth, as she can move from doing the daily, detail work of business to focus on marketing and bringing in new customers.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Your ability does not equal your responsibility. Sure, you can do every little thing involved in running your business, but you should be doing the work of the owner, not the work of the $10 an hour employee. Delegating is the best way to help your business grow.</p> <p><strong>12. Delegating too late.</strong></p> <p>Waiting until you're overwhelmed, as Johnson mentioned, to get new help or delegate additional work to current employees, means that the process of delegation will be tougher on everyone involved. You'll be stressed out and feeling like you have no time to adequately train your employee, and your employee will feel unnecessary pressure to do a new job without adequate training, time, or help.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Develop a plan to delegate from the earliest days of your business, and start training your employee(s) before you hit a crisis point. You can always stay involved in certain tasks or projects as you are able, but the sooner you delegate what you can, the sooner you can focus on your most important work.</p> <p><strong>13. Not paying attention to your branding.</strong></p> <p>Sometimes good enough is good enough. Sometimes good enough is bad. Melissa Turner, excited to be able to start marketing her company, <a target="_blank" href="">Mainstream Services Inc.</a>, ordered hundreds of dollars of promotional items without first checking their quality and brand consistency. She ended up with a collection of not-nearly-good-enough items: mismatched colors, missing slogans, and unreadable business cards.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: &quot;What I leave behind with networking associates and potential clients can wipe out any positive, professional first impression I may think I made,&quot; says Turner. &quot;Taking the time upfront to check and double check everything that will present my name, image, logo and slogan is priceless in the end.&quot;</p> <p><strong>14. Assuming that a professional image doesn't matter.</strong></p> <p>When you're working with minimal funds, it's easy to decide that a professional image is an option. You wait on branding, a logo, custom graphic design, a decent website, right? You've got a good product. People will recognize that...won't they? Not necessarily. The Internet, with all its multimedia options, has made us more image-conscious as consumers, not less.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Though it's easy enough to throw together a halfway-decent website, some sort of content, and a collection of semi-related marketing materials (<i>Everything is red! It must be cohesive!</i>), a thrown-together look results in the perception that you are an amateur, and your business itself is thrown together.</p> <p><strong>15. Using an unnecessary professional service.</strong></p> <p>A professional image matters, but that doesn't mean that do-it-yourself isn't a valid approach. Depending on your skills, contacts, and past experience, you may be just as capable of professional results as the services you could hire. Joshua Weaver, of <a target="_blank" href=""></a>, found that the huge investment they made in hiring a professional public relations firm was unnecessary. After several months of disappointing results, Weaver and company took their marketing and PR in-house, and were able to save money and make their outreach more targeted, personal, and consistent with the company mission.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Getting a professional job done does not necessarily mean hiring a professional service to do it. Don't be afraid to look into all your options. Define the results you want, then decide if the best way to get them is by outsourcing, hiring, or doing it yourself, or some combination.</p> <p><strong>16. Not doing your research first.</strong></p> <p>When it comes to areas in which small business owners feel inadequate, they are tempted to simply go with the first option available and hope it all works out. The results can be fine; sometimes in a hit-or-miss situation, you get the hit. But you can miss, too, and it can cost you in terms of time, money, and reputation.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: If you feel too busy to do the research into your best options, whether for public relations, a new manufacturer, a supplier relationship, product packaging, or hiring, then delegate the work of research to someone else in your business.</p> <p><strong>17. Failing to look into the future.</strong></p> <p>Not that you need a crystal ball, but you do need to anticipate customer turnover and continuing profit growth. Ian Aronovich, cofounder of <a target="_blank" href=""></a>, says that their initial revenue model of an annual membership fee failed to consider what would happen when the year was up. Though Aronovich had good success in gaining first-year customers, turnover was high when the time came for customers to renew.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: &quot;At that time, we were only thinking in the 'now,'&quot; says Aronovich. &quot;We failed to think about how we would attend to customers after the 365 days was up.&quot; Focusing on current profit is important, but it must be coupled with a clear plan for future profit as well.</p> <p><strong>18. Not making it easy on the customers.</strong></p> <p>Aronovich learned a simple truth that all small business owners must understand: people are lazy. Because customers had to re-enter all their financial information in order to renew their annual membership, many of them simply let the membership expire rather than go through the &quot;work&quot; of renewing it. When Aronovich switched to a revenue model of recurring monthly payments, the company was able to retain current customers as well as gain new ones.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Don't make your customers work in order to buy your service or product. It's your job to do the work. Make purchasing, renewing, updating, and upgrading as simple and easy as you possibly can. Don't try to make people less lazy; make the purchase less difficult.</p> <p><strong>19. Ignoring growth plateaus.</strong></p> <p>Every small business will go through phases of growth and plateau, at least to some degree. However, it's a deadly mistake to assume that you've simply reached the highest level of growth you can achieve and sit back. &quot;If you're not growing, you're dying,&quot; is an adage every business owner should know at gut-level. Growth must continue.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Don't let your business die because you assume a growth plateau is normal. When you reach a point of slow or no growth, go back and examine your revenue model, your customer service, your marketing, your everything. Tweak, test, repeat.</p> <p><strong>20. Letting &quot;small purchases&quot; in discretionary spending go unchecked.</strong></p> <p>The strange dichotomy of small business finances is this: when you bootstrap your way up, or sweat blood and tears for every penny of capital you raise, you value money and guard it ferociously. Then you start making it, and seeing those profits increase, and believing that you will actually succeed, and suddenly...the ferocious guarding of money turns into a little extra spending, a few too many discretionary purchases.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Ed Buchholz of virtual CFO service <a target="_blank" href="">60mo</a> says that new businesses, including his own, can unintentionally &quot;hemorrhage funds for unnecessary dinners, travel, and swag when they don't have a clear budget and insight into their spending. The point of having a budget is to avoid waste.&quot;</p> <p><strong>21. Undervaluing your product.</strong></p> <p>New businesses are especially susceptible to the lure of new customers. You're hungry for business, you're still establishing your costs and timing, and getting that contract matters more than getting an adequate deposit or a decent price. It's a mistake Craig Wolfe, president of <a target="_blank" href="">Celebriducks</a>, made early on by charging an inadequate deposit for what turned out to be a costly customer relationship.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: As Wolfe says, &quot;always know that you are never without options.&quot; Value your product or service adequately, even if you are desperate for customers; remember that once you set the value, it's difficult to raise it. So set it where it should be, produce something high-quality, market, and don't let temporary desperation push you in a deal that isn't a deal at all.</p> <p><strong>22. Not spelling out clear terms of contract.</strong></p> <p>While most small business owners are aware of the need to create appropriate legal documents for their own business structures, they often overlook the need for clearly defined terms when setting up vendor contracts, customer agreements, and even employee descriptions. Lack of clearly defined terms, at best, will lead to confusion for all the people involved; at worst, it can lead to legal liability and significant loss of money and reputation.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Get it in writing. Every time. In every situation. You can get many business templates, customize them to your needs, and have a specialized contract, agreement, or letter ready in a short amount of time. All parties involved should read, sign, and date the document, at the least.</p> <p><strong>23. Going in with the wrong mindset.</strong></p> <p>For <a target="_blank" href="">professional speaker Norma T. Hollis</a>, the switch to small business owner was a difficult one because of her background in non-profit work. &quot;You cannot open a business with a non-profit way of viewing the financial world,&quot; says Hollis. The entrepreneur's life can require, on any given day, that you be ready to promote your business, win your investors, take calculated risks, think creatively, do your own guerilla marketing, network incessantly, take some downtime, listen to new ideas, let go of old methodology, train new employees, answer customer questions, rethink your entire business strategy. An entrepreneurial mindset is different than most others.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Train yourself to break out of thinking like an employee, or assuming that things will be accomplished for you. Cultivate the gift of flexibility. Read the works of entrepreneurs. Be eager to learn.</p> <p><strong>24. Putting yourself in the wrong position.</strong></p> <p>Hollis relates her initial attempt in small business, to establish a speakers' bureau, as a mistake. &quot;Right industry, wrong position in the industry. I really didn't know my gifts and talents and that my best skill is sharing my knowledge and helping other people. As a speakers' bureau the main role is marketing &mdash; lots and lots of marketing and that's not my strength.&quot;</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Hollis switched from running a speakers' bureau to being a professional speaker, a role which fits her strengths and passions. You'll automatically be more successful at what you're good at and what you love to do. Figure out exactly what that is, and adjust your position in the business as needed.</p> <p><strong>25. Not knowing or accommodating your best work style.</strong></p> <p>Some small business owners work best surrounded by people, in high-energy and high-pressure situations. Interaction stimulates their creativity. Others need space, quiet, time. Some work best with a steady daily schedule, others will pull all-nighters to get a project done, crash for a couple of days, and do it all over again. There's no right or wrong style of working; there's just the mistake of trying to make yourself work in a way that, literally, doesn't work for you.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Know thyself. You can't make everything just the way you want it, but if you know the factors that help you become most productive, you can build them into your life consciously, and reduce the situations that diminish your productivity.</p> <p><strong>26. Failing to validate the business model.</strong></p> <p><a target="_blank" href="">Business consultant Michael Zipursky</a> sees a common mistake made in entrepreneurial circles: &quot;The single biggest mistake small business owners make is building without first validating their business model.&quot; You get excited about an idea, you ask a few friends what they think, and then you hit the ground running. Mistake.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: &quot;Small business owners need to ensure that people are willing to pay them real money for whatever it is they are offering,&quot; says Zipursky. &quot;Without that validation... a lot of time and money can be wasted.&quot;</p> <p><strong>27. Failing to identify and use competitive advantage.</strong></p> <p>Competitive advantage is the angle you have which separates you from the competition. It may be unique to your business. It may simply be an advantage that your competitors share but haven't used as an identifying feature. Either way, failing to find a strong competitive advantage and use it in your marketing is a common mistake, and one that can keep you from attracting and retaining customers who see no reason to switch from the competition to you.</p> <p>Lesson Learned: Zipursky again: &quot;Small business owners need to clearly articulate to their market what makes them different and why they are a better alternative to others offering the same products/services.&quot; With a clearly articulated competitive advantage, you're making it easy on customers to choose you rather than your competition.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Annie Mueller</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">10 Smart Ways to Get a Small Business Loan</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">5 Ways to Build Business Credit When You&#039;re Self-Employed</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">12 Ways to Improve Your Performance at Work</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center business education business mistakes common business mistakes learning small business Fri, 27 May 2011 23:13:16 +0000 Annie Mueller 545048 at