What’s one word or phrase that you should never use when pitching an investor?

public-speakingPitching your idea to investors can be nerve-racking. Even with lots of practice, it’s easy to find yourself clamoring for the right words. That being said, certain mistakes can mean the end for you and your business. 

1. “We Just Need X Percent of Y Industry”

“It’s easy to say, ‘If we just get X percent of this $Y billion industry then we’ll make Z.’ If the intent is to demonstrate your potential, you should identify your total market potential based on customer data and then carve out your target customer and their estimated population. You’ll be left with a more accurate representation of your potential while demonstrating that you know your customers and did your homework.” ~ Andrew ThomasSkyBell Technologies, Inc.

2. “No Competition”

“Making the statement that your company has no competition while pitching an investor can imply that your product or service has no market. The statement can also bring them to question whether you did any market research before pitching your idea. Either way, it’s not a good idea to make that statement.” ~ Phil ChenSystems Watch

3. “If I Pitched This to Mark Cuban…”

“Get rid of this phrase because it’s so overused it has become a cliché. This phrase turns investors off and has lost its power.” ~ Joshua LeeStandOut Authority

4. “No Brainer”

“Using the phrase “no brainer” makes you come off as extremely arrogant. While it’s good to have confidence in your idea, you need to remain humbled in your pitch to investors.” ~Josh WeissBluegala

5. “Conservative”

“Lots of entrepreneurs want the investor to know that their numbers are “conservative” and that they’ve discounted the possibilities. This is used all the time and they’ve seen “conservative” numbers not get hit again and again or just not make any sense. It’s better to express projections as worst, likely and best case scenarios and leave conservative out of the discussion. Keep the worst and best in the appendix and use the likely.” ~ Brian FrittonPatch of Land

6. “First-Mover Advantage”

“Digital development moves at a hyper-speed pace, which means there is almost no such thing as a first-mover advantage. It’s a phrase that entrepreneurs pitching to investors should leave out in their presentations, and instead focus on what differentiates them from the intense competition.” ~ Brett FarmiloeMarkitors

7. “Guaranteed”

“Never say you can guarantee a return or guarantee anything. It creates suspicion and makes you look very amateur. Everyone knows the only things you can guarantee in life are that we are all going to die and we all pay taxes. Nothing else is ensured and when you suggest that it is, you will raise suspicion.” ~ Raoul DavisAscendant Group

The Seven Steps of the Sales Process

crowdfunding1. Product Knowledge

This step is fairly straight forward, but it is also the great undoing of many a technical expert turned sales person. When one is extremely well versed in a particular product especially a technical one, it is easy to get caught up in a monologue of all the great features it provides.

The technical expert turned sales person is so eager to explain how the product works or why it’s unique that the benefits to the customer are left out of the discussion. Never assume that a prospect will easily link a feature to a benefit. That relationship must be stated clearly (something done in the presentation step 4, after the needs assessment step 5). The acquiring of product knowledge for a “technician” therefore, is less about the features of the product itself, and more about how the customer will benefit from those features. When discussing product, the technicians mantra should be; “So what?” Consider those two words to be what the prospect thinks every time a feature is mentioned, and re-learn your product from that perspective.

2. Prospecting
Prospecting, just as the word implies, is about searching for new customers. Like product knowledge, this step may seem fairly straight forward but upon closer examination it becomes more complex. The key to prospecting effectively is knowing where to dig and what to look for. It’s also important to distinguish between a lead, a prospect, and a qualified prospect. The most important element in this step is to create a profile of existing customers. This may have been done at your company, but have approach tactics (step3) been tailored to match each profile. For instance, you may have identified the following major market segments: State Governments, County Governments, Consulting Firms, Federal Agencies, Utilities, Universities, but have you fully profiled each of these in order to adjust marketing tactics appropriately? A direct mail, seminar invitation might work well to generate State Government leads, but will it be effective in developing Consulting Firm leads? For each market segment do you really know what the ideal customer looks like? These questions should be answered fully in the “Tactics” portion of a marketing plan.

In the broadest sense, prospecting is an ongoing process that everyone in the company (particularly the sales force) should be involved in. This simply means everyone should have their “prospecting radar” up when they are out and about in the world. Very often, a great lead turned customer was first discovered after being heard or seen in the news at a party, or event, etc.

3. The Approach
This is where the rubber meets the road in the sales process. For our present purposes lets consider the approach in the context of a sales call rather than lead generation (i.e. the difference between a mass mailing and a telephone call). This is the step where you begin to build a relationship and the intelligence gathering continues (it started with prospecting). A good approach is crucial to sales success because it will either identify you as a bothersome salesperson and cause a prospect’s guard to go up, or it will identify you as an obliging salesperson with something of value to offer. (There is probably a middle road too, but you get the idea.). Consider the example of tele-marketers selling a seminar:

Their product is a seminar, about which they presumably have sufficient knowledge. They prospect by scanning the house lists for appropriately titled leads, (generated by earlier prospecting efforts). They approach by saying “I’m Jay from XYZ and I’m calling to follow up on an invitation to a seminar that we mailed to you last week. Do you recall receiving it?” Then the dialog begins, often it’s perfunctory, other times however it can be extremely informative. The difference more often than not depends on how astute and articulate the caller is. What do you think is good about this approach? What do you think is bad?”

Quite often the type of call one makes is a follow up to some action i.e. seminar attendance, brochure mailed, etc. Technically these calls are part of follow up step 7, but let us address them in the context of a sales approach. What would be a good approach for each of the above follow up actions? Think about eliciting information and advancing the sale (closing, step 6). What would be a good approach for a cold call?

Additional Note on recording information: Regardless of the type of call or the results, it is important to take detailed call notes and schedule a subsequent action item, no matter what it is be it a week, a month, or a year down the road. (One can invent a system of abbreviations to make this easier i.e. LVM = left voice mail.) History notes are important for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is tracking where a prospect is in the sales process, including what follow up is necessary and when. Noting that “packet was mailed” or “attended seminar” or “inquired about model” is only half the information and not the most important. Why?

4. The Needs Assessment
This is arguably the most important step of the sales process because it allows you to determine how you can truly be of service. To be a highly effective salesperson, that is to sell to the prospect’s needs, you first have to understand what those needs are. This means you must think in terms of solving a prospects problem. The only way to do that is by asking lots of questions. Does a health practitioner prescribe remedies before a thorough exam? Asking good questions will not only help you determine what will best suit the prospects needs, but it builds confidence, trust, and will very often help the prospect consider issues they may never have thought of. This last point is powerful because it provides an opportunity to showcase features, which the prospects answers led you to. What questions would you ask to illustrate how your product is different/better than a competitor’s. Although intelligence gathering occurs throughout the sales process, it is at step four where it happens in earnest. What other information would be important to gather at this stage? (hint: who’s who, referrals).

5. The Presentation
Remember the discussion in step one, focus on benefits rather than features? If you consider your product/service in terms of how it benefits the customer, your presentation will be a focused and relevant dialogue rather than a self aggrandizing monologue. Nothing is worse than a sales presentation which proceeds from the sellers perspective. This is why the needs assessment is so important and why it will ideally flow in and out of this step. A good needs assessment allows you to tailor your presentation to your audience, and keep it interactive.

6. The Close
Eighty percent of sales are lost because a salesperson fails to close. Closing is about advancing the sales process to ultimately get an order. What you are trying to sell at each stage may be different. For example, a close early in the sales process may be to get an appointment to discuss your product/service, in that case you are selling an appointment not a widget. In a later stage you might need to meet with a committee, in that case what you are selling is a meeting. Seeing the sale process in this light takes a little pressure off of each encounter and makes things a bit more manageable. But don’t be lulled into complacency, you must ultimately ask for the order and no sales conversation should ever end without an agreement to some next step. Do not be satisfied with “we’ll get back to you”, where is the agreement in that? What could you say in response to such a remark in order to advance the sale?

In large part, closing is about discovering obstacles. Have you heard these before: “I’ll need to think about it.”, “It’s too expensive.”, “Let me run it buy some other people.” “Sounds good but I’ve already got one.” What could you say to overcome these objections?

There are lots of ways to close, indeed closing a sale has become a science unto itself. Books have been written on this topic alone. But there is one elemental truth – if you don’t ask you don’t get. Just for fun, following is a sampling of a few closing techniques from among the many:

 The Ask For It Close. “What do we need to do to get this model into your organization?”
 The If-Then Close. “If I could demonstrate how an XYZ model provides you with, (things you know are important based on the prospect needs assessment) then would you be willing to… demo, rent, buy, switch, etc.”
 The Process Of Elimination Close. “So you like the model, you have use for it, it’s not too expensive!”
 The Either Or Close. “Will that be cash or charge?”
 The Lost Puppy Close. “I guess I didn’t do my job very well.”

Additional note: The question “How much does it cost?” Is a great buying signal yet it is a question you want to avoid early in the sales process. What could you say to defer that question politely? When you do mention price, don’t be afraid that they are too high, say it with pride. Don’t forget to ask for the referral.

7. Follow-up
Good follow up will double your closing ratio. When a sales person makes contact with a prospect a relationship has been built, and follow up is how it is nurtured. Staying at the forefront of a prospect’s mind requires persistence and should not be confused with being bothersome. This is why it’s important to get agreement on some next step each time there is contact. Follow up therefore should never end. The pace may slow but it will never end. When a sale is made, then a new type of follow up begins.

Follow up conversations are best handled by the salesperson who started the relationship. Who else can better gauge a prospect’s “willingness to buy”, or pick up where “we last left off”. This means that detailed notes must be kept on each prospect with particular emphasis on their “state of mind”. It is unwise and ineffective to keep track of this information anywhere other than a centralized database.

Additional note: It’s important to hold some follow up ammunition in reserve. Overwhelming your prospects with every piece of information you possess on their first request hampers your ability to stay in touch. Having a stable of collateral materials gives you reason to follow up.

Wearable Tech and Business

We can all agree that we live in the future – growing up, I was dreaming of the day I can use a device that would fit in the palm of my hand to see what’s going on in the faraway countries, as it happens, live. Or who did not want to communicate with people through wireless gadgets? Talk to computer? Scan things to see what’s inside? It is only a matter of time before Scotty beams us up…So I wanted to share some resources that will keep you up with the latest developments in wearable technologies.

How Wearable Technology Affects Us

According to The Human Cloud: Wearable Technology from Novelty to Productivity, A social study into the impact of wearable technology performed by Rackspace across UK and US  and published in June of 2013:

  • 81% of UK respondents and 87% of US respondents claim that wearable technology has boosted their personal abilities
  • 61% of wearable technology users felt more informed
  • 47%  British and Americans felt more intelligent
  • 37% stated that wearable technology helped with career development
  • 61% claimed that their personal efficiency improved.

Wearable_Devices wearabledevice

That is according to personal impressions. Wearable Technologies are on the rise – and so is their use by consumers and businesses, as manufacturing is expected to be in demand, and so is the use by specific industries, such as healthcare industry (I will avoid the military use topic for our purposes).

Challenges to business will include integration into the daily business operations, transition between devices and apps generations, and security of the collected data, with magnitude. Consider this:  it is estimated that when it comes to dollars wearable tech in medical field to go over $2.9 billion by year 2016; ABI Research predicts that more then 100 million medical devices will be sold annually.

Wearable medical technology is becoming a hot commodity. As these devices come to market, they have the potential to help both patients and clinicians monitor vital signs and symptoms. That’s where the fun for the IT companies will begin – issues such as HIPAA compliance for medical practitioners and safety of patient records, especially when considering devices that utilize wireless technology. It is a very interesting topic and we definitely plan to keep up with it in the near future.

Wearable devices are demanding development frameworks for new features and monetization models. When I think about the world that we are now living, I have to think about open source technologies, open source frameworks and products such good that became excellent platforms to build your own disrupting software, or board.  We are living the same situation with wearable devices, in such a way that I am inclined to think about all of this stuff and easily identify a cyclic, predictable behavior. Once a technology or a concept starts to become part of the traditional software (and hardware) stack, suddenly clones begin to appear; and there’s a strong chance that the first to appear (as the first clone, or even the original product) is open source. Why? Well, because the well-tested open workflow allows hardware and software producers to rapidly iterate around a platform that has been already built from the ground up, and this enables the team to focus strongly on the product.

Wearable technologies are exactly like that: after we saw pretty nice things like Jawbone, Fitbit and Autographer that literally conquered the international market, many players entered this segment producing their own brand-related wearable stuff. Listening to rumors about Apple’s next step into the technology landscape, they will make an iWatch, as Samsung did with their Galaxy Gear. Google itself answered this kind of new trend with a particular and wonderful release of an Android Wear sneak preview. Once (some years ago), a friend of mine was driving while we were together on a trip; he said “you know what? Soon pluggable devices for our smartphone will be so popular, and we’ll have to carry a toolbox for all our phone-related stuff”. Luckily, the industry insisted less on pluggable devices, while it developed a strong focus on our body and sensors measuring our life. In a way, our own body became our toolbox.

We were talking about new technologies and open ecosystems growing up rapidly around new needs and new product types: let’s see some examples regarding hardware and software platforms to build awesome products – why not – with a considerably little effort.


The ingredients for persuasion? Ethos, Pathos and Logos.

When asked to make a presentation, the first thing that often runs through the panic-stricken mind of the “unprofessional” speaker is, “What am I going to say?”

The first step in the presentation process, before a word has been put to paper, is to determine the purpose of the presentation-it’s goals and objectives.

Most presentations take one of three forms, as illustrated by Aristotle’s “Appeals”:

  • Ethos - the purpose is to inform or instruct, as one would as an instructional course leader, and is based on thought processes.
  • Logos - the purpose is to persuade or motivate to action, as would a politician, clergyman or salesman, and is based on behavior modification.
  • Pathos - the purpose is to inspire, entertain or otherwise elicit feelings and emotions, as would a motivational speaker or stand-up comic, and is based on changing attitudes.

Keep in mind that many, if not most, presentations incorporate more than one facet of each of these “appeals.” For example, Winston Churchill used both pathos and logos, Zig Ziglar focuses on pathos and ethos, Brian Tracy on logos and ethos, and so forth. Also, you can be effective using whichever “appeal” best fits the situation or your personal style.

One other observation regarding the situation in which you are speaking, and one of the most common mistakes made by “unprofessional” speakers…remember to ALWAYS finish on time.

Meanings of Ethos, Pathos and Logos


Examples of Ethos, Pathos and Logos

Ethos Pathos Logos

Appeals to Ethos

  • “As a doctor, I am qualified to tell you that this course of treatment will likely generate the best results.”
  • “My three decades of experience in public service, my tireless commitment to the people of this community, and my willingness to reach across the aisle and cooperate with the opposition, make me the ideal candidate for your mayor.”
  • “The veterinarian says that an Australian shepherd will be the perfect match for our active lifestyle.”
  • “If his years as a Marine taught him anything, it’s that caution is the best policy in this sort of situation.”
  • “You know me – I’ve taught Sunday School at your church for years, babysat your children, and served as a playground director for many summers.”
  • “Our expertise in roofing contracting is evidenced not only by our 100 years in the business and our staff of qualified technicians, but in the decades of satisfied customers who have come to expect nothing but the best.”
  • “He is a forensics and ballistics expert for the federal government – if anyone’s qualified to determine the murder weapon, it’s him.”
  • “Based on the dozens of archaeological expeditions I’ve made all over the world, I am confident that those potsherds are Mesopotamian in origin.”
  • “If my age doesn’t convince you that my opinion matters, at least consider that I am your grandfather and I love you dearly.”
  • “Doctors all over the world recommend this type of treatment.”
  • “If you’re still unsure, please consider that my advanced degree and field work speak for themselves.”

Appeals to Pathos

  • “If we don’t move soon, we’re all going to die! Can’t you see how dangerous it would be to stay?”
  • “I’m not just invested in this community – I love every building, every business, every hard-working member of this town.”
  • “There’s no price that can be placed on peace of mind. Our advanced security systems will protect the well-being of your family so that you can sleep soundly at night.”
  • “Where would we be without this tradition? Ever since our forefathers landed at Plymouth Rock, we’ve celebrated Thanksgiving without fail, making more than cherished recipes. We’ve made memories.”
  • “They’ve worked against everything we’ve worked so hard to build, and they don’t care who gets hurt in the process. Make no mistake, they’re the enemy, and they won’t stop until we’re all destroyed.”
  • “Don’t be the last person on the block to have their lawn treated – you don’t want to be the laughing stock of your community!”
  • “You should consider another route. I heard that that street is far more dangerous and ominous at night than during the daytime.”
  • “You’ll make the right decision because you have something that not many people do: you have heart.”
  • “After years of this type of disrespect from your boss, countless hours wasted, birthdays missed… it’s time that you took a stand.”
  • “Better men than us have fought and died to preserve this great nation. Now is our turn to return the favor. For God and country, gentlemen!”
  • “You will never be satisfied in life if you don’t seize this opportunity. Do you want to live the rest of your years yearning to know what would have happened if you just jumped when you had the chance?”

Appeals to Logos

  • “The data is perfectly clear: this investment has consistently turned a profit year-over-year, even in spite of market declines in other areas.”
  • “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: we have not only the fingerprints, the lack of an alibi, a clear motive, and an expressed desire to commit the robbery… We also have video of the suspect breaking in. The case could not be more open and shut.”
  • “It’s a matter of common sense that people deserve to be treated equally. The Constitution calls it ‘self-evident.’ Why, then, should I have been denied a seat because of my disability?”
  • “More than one hundred peer-reviewed studies have been conducted over the past decade, and none of them suggests that this is an effective treatment for hair loss.”
  • “History has shown time and again that absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
  • “Private demand for the product has tapered off for the past three years, and this year’s sales figures are at an all-time low. It’s time to research other options.”
  • “The algorithms have been run in a thousand different ways, and the math continues to check out.”
  • “In 25 years of driving the same route, I haven’t seen a single deer.”
  • “He has a track record of success with this company, culminating in some of our most acclaimed architecture to date and earning us Firm of the Year nine times in a row.”
  • “You don’t need to jump off a bridge to know that it’s a bad idea. Why then would you need to try drugs to know if they’re damaging? That’s plain nonsense.”
  • “Research compiled by analysts from NASA, as well as organizations from five other nations with space programs, suggests that a moon colony is viable with international support.”

With these examples and when you construct your own arguments or appeals, you can give them the appropriate name in the future.


Farewell Old School Web Design

phoneshoutTrends come and go, especially in the fast-paced world of web design. It’s time to say goodbye to design trends which have rightfully gone out of fashion. Web design is always changing, and if you cling to old trends, you’ll soon find your shop left in the dust. The web design industry is constantly moving forward. Holding on to old trends can only place you behind the competition. Here are the new design elements taking their place:

Farewell To Mobile Versions of Websites

Instead of building mobile-switched sites (i.e. m.websitename.com), the innovative designers and developers are now focusing on responsive design. Mobile users are looking for a more fully integrated experience. With 55% of Internet usage in the U.S. coming through mobile devices, the best shops are doing mobile-first design and treating desktop and laptop design as secondary. Responsive design allows the layout to adjust based on the contextual experience of users. This means site designs need to be built so they respond to the width of the device, regardless of the gadget type. In more extreme cases, functionality itself can even switch, providing an even more contextually optimized experience.

Google is encouraging responsive design to improve the SEO for your site, as it reduces the necessity for multiple subdomains and duplicated content. Mobile versions of websites are a trend of the past.

Farewell To Text-Heavy Sites

Text has been cut down to the essentials, while visuals are increasingly employed to impart important information.  Instead of telling your story in a paragraph or block of text, the trend now is to invest in more visual storytelling.

Now, websites are better integrating text with visual components to give users a more immersive and interactive experience. Combining content and visuals to tell a story can help hold the attention of even the Internet’s most impatient users.

Farewell To SEO Copywriting

It’s time to say goodbye to SEO copywriting and start developing keyword informed and user-centric content instead. Just like in marketing 101, you need to develop easily understood copy with which your target market will emotionally connect. It’s also important to keep your content on message and use copywriting to build up your brand, instead of focusing on SEO exclusively. Essentially, when it comes to copywriting, you should be embracing a back-to-basics approach.

Farewell To Pay-Per-Click

The old style pay-per-click is practically obsolete, since tools utilizing new mediums and new targeting capabilities can help you find your exact consumer.

It’s now possible to target people who watch certain television shows in certain geographical areas. It’s possible to target ads to exact age ranges, favorite clothing brands, and even target based on Facebook relationship status. There’s now a wealth of information consumers are self-supplying on the Internet, and this information can help you to pinpoint with more specificity and offer a more tailored advertising experience for your market.

Farewell To Flat Design

Instead of using gradients and shadows for a more three-dimensional look, most design is now adopting a flat user interface. It’s time to ditch the gradient and embrace a more clean and simplified design palate.


Make It Memorable

Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 7.58.32 AMIn every persuasion event, there are two parts to the audience: its rational calculator and its intuitive decision maker. You must present arguments and evidence to the former, but unless you also make your ideas easily accessible to and actionable by the latter, you will lose the sale.  There are eight specific pathways that lead to the intuitive decision maker techniques for grabbing your audience’s attention and keeping it firmly focused on your idea.

Pathway No. 1: Make it vivid.

Vividness can trigger belief even when no proof is available.Before grabbing just any visual image,make sure it is an image your audience will respond to in the way you intend.

Pathway No. 2: Use demonstrations and symbolic actions.

Nothing is more vivid than an object your audience can see and touch,oran experience they can feel.

Pathway No. 3:Put your heart into it.

People will be more inclined to believe your arguments if you show that you believe in them yourself.What convinces is conviction, especially if that conviction is backed by genuine feeling.

Pathway No. 4: Tell a story.

When you tell a good story, the audience starts wondering what plot twists lie ahead. If you have integrated your idea pitch into the story in a compelling way,the intuitive decision maker will be listening.

Pathway No. 5: Personalize it.

Talk about specific things a customer or employee shared with you about the problem your idea addresses. Give people names, and place the story in a specific location.

Pathway No. 6: Make it a puzzle.

Look for puzzles embedded within the problems you are trying to help solve.The puzzle device works best when the solution is exactly what you want the audience to remember about the idea you are selling.

Pathway No. 7: Build bridges with analogies and metaphors.

When you are talking about something the audience does not know much about, you need to start with something it does know. The simpler and more widely understood the image,the greater its hold on the imagination.

Pathway No. 8: Force your audience to think.

You can get people thinking about old issues in new ways when you question the obvious.Ask your audience to consider what an upside-down world might look like. Make a radical assumption and get the audience to explore what the world might look like if it were true. Ask the audience to rethink the purpose or mission as part of your idea sale.

The new business model for success? Gamification

Fitbit-DashboardI don’t mean we sit here playing TempleRun or CrushCandy; we think about “gaming” as it relates to getting users to interact with content or brand. In a more literal sense, gamification is defined as:

“the process of using game concepts and mechanics to engage users and change behavior.”

If content is supposed to entertain and inform, a “gamified” content is the ideal means of delivery, and major brands are jumping on the bandwagon. We’ve seen companies like Chevrolet entice users to upload their own content on why they deserve to win a car, all while educating them on driver safety. Starwood Hotels and Resorts injected gaming and a relationship with Foursquare into their loyalty program, as are many of the airlines. And Nike, FitBit and Runkeeper are combining wellness and gaming with great success.

The proliferation of the gamified experience is simple. People like to win, achieve, compete and succeed. Presenting consumers with strong content in a model that offers a chance to win or learn fuels engagement.

If you haven’t been paying attention to how gamification could be an asset to your business, and a pivotal strategy in engaging prospects, consider this list of facts from industry leaders (they’re also great points if you’re building a case for management!):

  1. A recent study by Gigya showed that gamification improves engagement by one-third, with online commenting improving by 13%, social media sharing improving by 22%, and content discovery improving by a whopping 68%.
  2. Gartner reports that by next year, more than 70% of Global 2000 organizations will have at least one gamified application.
  3. M2 Research projects that more than $2 billion will be spent on gamification services.
  4. By 2015, 40% of all Global 1000 organizations will be using gamification as the primary mechanism to increase customer engagement, improve employee performance and manage innovation projects better (Gartner).
  5. If you searched on Google for “gamification” 3 years ago, there were fewer than 400 results; today, that same search yields over 1,000,000.
  6. Growing up today, tomorrow’s consumers are steeped in gamification, with the average young person in the US spending over 10,000 hours gaming by the age of 21 (Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World).

If gamification isn’t a space you’re watching, you should be.

The Essential Qualities of Promotable Employees

Here are the major elements great managers want from employees.  In short herein the secret  to getting promoted at work

Displaysconflict Humility

Unlike prideful people who feel like they already know everything, humble people recognize that they have more to learn, and as a result, they have much more potential for growth. They aren’t afraid to ask questions and they will take on any task they are given, believing that nothing is beneath them. In a world filled with people who use every chance they can get to broadcast how awesome they are, being humble definitely gets you noticed, and it makes you appear that much more awesome.

He/She is a Team Players

Most workplaces are collaborative in nature, so it logically follows that if you want to get promoted, you have to play well with others. People who are team players know the individual strengths that different co-workers bring to the table, and they approach tasks and projects in a way that positions the entire team to be successful.

Capable of being Empathetic

Highly promotable people understand the frustration of feeling like your voice goes unheard or is unappreciated. So they empathize with their fellow employees and seek to help them with whatever challenges they’re facing.


Successful companies are always asking: “How can we do things better?” In an effort to make improvements, better policies and procedures must be put in place, and employees must be able to adapt to them quickly. In fact, in an increasingly ‘flat’ world, where we are becoming more interconnected than ever before and new advances in technology are being announced every day, being seen as rigid and inflexible could actually be detrimental to your career.


People who are highly promotable don’t have to be told to do something. They see what needs to be done, and they go ahead and do it. And not only do they do it, but they do it well. It’s one thing to be able to come up with ideas and plans, but quite another to put those ideas and plans into action. Promotable employees know how to execute plans with effectiveness and make changes when necessary.


These people aren’t afraid to voice their opinions. They are knowledgeable and passionate about what they do, and they are eager to share their ideas with others because they have a strong desire for the company as a whole to be successful.

‘Glass Half Full’ Perspective

People who are noticed and get promoted always see the sunny side of things. Rather than viewing setbacks as roadblocks, they see them as challenges that can be used to their advantage. In the face of adversity, they are always trying to find a way to be successful, and more often than not, they will find it.


Today, with more people working from home and other remote locations, it’s absolutely essential that employees possess autonomy. Being able to self-manage and self-direct is crucial to getting projects completed on time and making sure that all criteria are met. Employers have a lot to do without micromanaging their employees, so an employee who can manage his or herself has definite promotion potential.

Focus on What Matters

On a daily basis, employees are bombarded with emails, faxes, phone calls, meetings, conference calls and a thousand other things that demand their time and attention. A truly great employee will be able to prioritize what’s important. They can effectively discern what absolutely needs to get done right away and what can be put on hold until later.

Fred-like Flair

In his book The Fred Factor, Mark Sanborn discusses four principles that he believes will help you approach your career and life in general with creativity, enthusiasm and energy. Those four principles are self-reinvention, making a difference, cultivating relationships, and creating value. People who have the ‘Fred Factor’ are consistently doing those four things because they are passionate about their careers, and they believe their professions infuse their lives with a sense of meaning and purpose.

Ask yourself if you have one or more and if not… is time to make a change



Is your start-up on their list?

The Big Deal
Jim Breyer Accel Partners Facebook
Marc Andreessen Andreessen Horowitz Skype
Reid Hoffman Greylock Partners LinkedIn
David Sze Greylock Partners Facebook
Peter Fenton Benchmark Capital Twitter
Josh Kopelman First Round Capital Linkedin
Paul Madera Meritech Capital Partners Facebook
Peter Thiel Founders Fund Facebook
Kevin Efrusy Accel Partners Facebook
Jeremy Levine Bessemer Venture Partners Yelp
Todd Chaffee Institutional Venture Partners Twitter
John Doerr Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Twitter
Michael Moritz Sequoia Capital Green Dot
Scott Sandell New Enterprise Associates Fusion-io
Ron Conway SV Angel Facebook
Sandy Miller Institutional Venture Partners Zynga
Harry Weller New Enterprise Associates Groupon
Douglas Leone Sequoia Capital Rackspace
Jeff Brody Redpoint Ventures HomeAway
Fred Wilson Union Square Ventures Zynga
Ben Horowitz Andreessen Horowitz Skype
Jay Hoag Technology Crossover Ventures Facebook
Peter Barris New Enterprise Associates Groupon
Neil Shen Sequoia Capital China Qihoo 360 Technology
Aneel Bhusri Greylock Partners Workday
Bing Gordon Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Zynga
Andrew Yan SAIF Partners Giant Interactive Group
Rob Chandra Bessemer Venture Partners Mellanox Technologies
Yuri Milner Digital Sky Technologies Facebook
Jim Goetz Sequoia Capital Jive Software
George Zachary Charles River Ventures Twitter
Mike Maples FLOODGATE Twitter
Sameer Gandhi Accel Partners Quidsi
Vinod Khosla Khosla Ventures SKS Microfinance
Suyang Zhang IDG Accel Tudou Holdings
Neeraj Agrawal Battery Ventures Bazaarvoice
Ben Nye Bain Capital Ventures LinkedIn
Bryan Roberts Venrock Athenahealth
Danny Rimer Index Ventures MySQL
Roger Lee Battery Ventures Groupon
Chase Coleman Tiger Global Facebook
Mary Meeker Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Groupon
John Walecka Redpoint Ventures Fortinet
Bruce Dunlevie Benchmark Capital ServiceSource
Rob Ward Meritech Capital Partners Fortinet
Navin Chaddha Mayfield Fund MakeMyTrip
Bob Goodman Bessemer Venture Partners Millennial Media
Dongliang Lin IDG Accel Dangdang
Ray Rothrock Venrock Imperva
David Yuan Technology Crossover Ventures Renren
Steve Anderson Baseline Ventures Instagram
Ross Jaffe Versant Ventures Acclarent
Rich Levandov Avalon Ventures Zynga
Tim Chang Mayfield Fund Playdom
Chris Sacca Lowercase Capital Twitter
David Weiden Khosla Ventures Opsware
Bijan Sabet Spark Capital Twitter
Ping Li Accel Partners Cloudera
Kevin Harvey Benchmark Capital MySQL
David Chao DCM Renren
Roelof Botha Sequoia Capital Square
Greg Gretsch Sigma Partners EqualLogic
Antoine Papiernik Sofinnova Partners CoreValve
William Ford General Atlantic NYSE
Stephen Jurvetson Draper Fisher Jurvetson Tesla
Thomas Ng GGV Capital Alibaba
Brian Ascher Venrock Vocera
Matt Cohler Benchmark Capital Instagram
Glenn Solomon GGV Capital Pandora
Bruce Golden Accel Partners Qlik Technologies
Ted Schlein Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Jive Software
Rory O’Driscoll Scale Venture Partners ExactTarget
James Slavet Greylock Partners Groupon
Tom Banahan Tenaya Capital MarkLogic
Izhar Armony Charles River Ventures RPX Corp.
Ruby Lu DCM Dangdang
Chris Schaepe Lightspeed Venture Partners Fusion-io
James Barrett New Enterprise Associates Pharmion
Steve Harrick Institutional Venture Partners MySQL
Jeffery Horing Insight Venture Partners SolarWinds
Byron Deeter Bessemer Venture Partners Cornerstone OnDemand
Tom Dyal Redpoint Ventures NextG Networks
Rich Wong Accel Partners Admob
Erhai Liu Legend Capital Renren
Michael Krupka Bain Capital Ventures Liberty Dialysis
Jonathan Silverstein Orbimed Enobia
Warren Weiss Foundation Capital Silver Spring Networks
David Cowan Bessemer Venture Partners LinkedIn
Jeremy Liew Lightspeed Venture Partners Playdom
Gordon Ritter Emergence Capital Veeva Systems
Sean Dalton Highland Capital Partners Starent Networks
Theresia Gouw Ranzetta Accel Partners Imperva
Fred Harman Oak Investment Partners Huffington Post
Jenny Lee GGV Capital 21Vianet
Ajay Agarwal Bain Capital Ventures Kiva Systems
Asheem Chandna Greylock Partners Palo Alto Networks
Adele Oliva Quaker Partners Ascent Healthcare Solutions Inc.
David Hornik August Capital Splunk
Subrata Mitra Accel India Flipkart
Richard Liu Morningside Duowan/YY


crowdfundingRunning a small business requires having the right knowledge and applying self discipline on a daily basis. I recommend you to print them and post them in your work area to review daily while planning for the next days activities.

1. Set Specific Goals

Goals must be specific. Saying that you’re going to get more customers is not good enough. How many? By when? What type of customers? These are kind of questions you need to be asking yourself. Put your goals in writing. More than 90% of those people that write down specific, realistic, deadline oriented goals actually achieve their goals! Finally, visualize yourself in the future. Most people think in pictures. As you begin to right down your vision place yourself in the future and make it seem real. You will be amazed at the results.

2. Seek Out Change

Let’s face it change is the only constant. The longer you “do what you’ve always done,” the harder it will be to do something different. It is ideas that bring change about in our world. Nearly every great invention, system or model was born from the idea of a lone entrepreneur. Psychologists are now saying that creativity is a “learned trait.” Experiment with creative ways of doing things. Don’t just settle for the “easy way.” Do this daily and watch you creativity grow and your business soar!

3. Focus on Branding

Branding is not merely for the BIG players. Entrepreneurs and small business owners can also differentiate themselves with this kind of branding strategy. In fact it is even MORE important for smaller organizations to set themselves apart, particularly if they are competing with the BIG GUYS! Remember, your customer’s perceptions of WHO you are is all the matters to them. Often times your reputation is wrapped up in what advertising guru, Bill Bernbach called the Unique Selling Proposition (USP). What sets you apart from the crowd? What do you do that no one else does? This is far more important than the quality or price of your product or service. Everything that we do or say both internally and externally should revolve around this.

4. Be an Influencer NOT a Salesperson

Our goal is not to SELL our customers but rather to influence them. When we SELL them, they move away from us because they are fearful of being coerced into making the wrong decision. Ask more questions. Find out what’s important to them. Find a way to get them to look up to you. We must earn the right to influence customers by aligning ourselves with them in a way that sets us apart as a friend, advisor and confidant. Then we will become the ONLY solution to their needs.

5. Speak in Terms of the Customers Interest

As the great master of human relations, Dale Carnegie said, we must “speak in terms of the other persons interest.” The reason people are running away from you is that you are trying to TAKE. Be willing to give. “What can you give?,” you ask? If nothing else, give them an education. That’s right EDUCATE your prospect and you will create a customer for life! Ask plenty of questions. Show that you really care. You will learn more, build stronger relationships and get more business. Oh yea, you’ll have more fun too.

6. Develop a Practical Sales and Marketing Plan

A sales and marketing plan creates the kind of attention you need to get in front of the right type of organizations. It is what attracts people to you! A good sales and marketing plan implemented cost effectively, efficiently, and consistently, will eliminate the need for “cold calls!” Your marketing plan should also include a sales plan. There’s no other sure way to gage the financial growth and progress of your business. You need a realistic map for where the sales will come from, how they’ll come and from whom.

7. Know Your Customers

Changes in your customers’ preferences and your competitors’ products and services can leave you in the dust unless you get to know your customers well. What is it tat they are looking for today? What will they likely want in the future? What are their buying patterns? How can you be a resource for them even if you don’t have the right products or services for them now!

8. Manage Your Cash Daily

Only cash flow can keep a company alive. No matter how impressive your company’s profits might be, if you run out of cash, it’s over! Learn the importance of aligning performance measurement goals to gross margin. Learn about various pricing strategies, contribution margins and how to stay on top of your cash position every minute of the day if necessary.

9. Be a Leader

Jack Welch, CEO of G.E. loved the small business model so much his first step in turning around G.E. was to break up the giant into 350 smaller companies. He told Business Week Magazine, ” Most small companies are simple informal and grow on good ideas. Think small,” he said. Understand your role as the leader of your organization is to inspire, simplify processes, drive the company toward their vision, spread the gospel and admit your mistakes and keep things ever moving forward..

10. Get Help
Get an advisory board or a mentor! Sounds crazy for a small operation? It’s not! The board can be family members that you trust, or friends. Ask them to be your board of directors and review your business plans and results with them. Having someone to bounce ideas off and get an objective opinion is critical.

11. Communicate Clearly

You might be the key to everything BUT you cannot DO everything and grow at the same time. Even modest success can overwhelm you unless you hire the right staff and delegate responsibility. Good communication skills are the key to winning strong relationships. Learn to listen in an active way. Stop thinking about what you are going to say next and put the focus back on the customer.

12. Don’t Give Up!

Some of the most successful entrepreneurs failed several times before doing extremely well. So, if you’re failing, fail. And fail fast. And learn. And try again, with this new wisdom. Do NOT give up. In a recession such as we are experiencing today, only the persistent will thrive!

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