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Essential Podcasts for Entrepreneurs

jason-kulpa-podcastsBusiness owners, both new and established, should be constantly learning and innovating; this is an obvious fact within entrepreneurship, one that must be embraced and applied quickly to ensure success in a rapidly changing business landscape.

Today, podcasts stand as an increasingly popular and efficient way to absorb new information about countless topics, and this is especially true of entrepreneurship and its spectrum of subtopics — from the dissection of managerial ideologies to the latest tools and tactics employed by rising names and entities.

If you are interested in adding podcasts to your arsenal of knowledge, here are several great programs to get you started.

“Unconventional Life”

As mentioned before, entrepreneurship is changing; it always has been. In a modern context, this change is now synonymous with the unconventional — that is, new and non-traditional ways to approach business and potentially carve new experimental niches. Jules Schroder’s “Unconventional Life” uses this notion as its thematic foundation, highlighting budding new entrepreneurs — most of them under 30 — to extract the unique and exciting ways they are shaking up their respective markets. If your ambitions lie in changing the world on your own terms, this show is a great starting point for inspiration.

“Entrepreneurs on Fire”

Hosted by John Lee Dumas, “Entrepreneurs on Fire” has for several years focused on the transparent, honest approach in entrepreneurship, all the way down to the financial details of its host (Dumas regularly reveals his own earnings, including how much he has made since the show’s 2012 inception). The intent here, according Dumas, is to “emulate success” and subsequently help listeners avoid failure. This show is a dual benefit, as it is both an insightful reference point and a strong example of entrepreneurial decency.

“Legends and Losers”

Though many would rather avoid the topic all together, failure is unfortunately a common part of entrepreneurship. For every entrepreneurial legend, there are many more “losers” who come up short of their goals, hence the name of the “Legends and Losers” podcast. Though the title’s latter group may come off as a bit harsh, the concept of “losing” is handled as a learning opportunity rather than an irreparable defeat. Host Christopher Lochhead aims to “spark your spirit, stoke your perseverance, make you love your failures, and for your inner legend all while keeping you laughing –” a healthy, constructive approach that keeps a sensitive topic accessible.

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Five Management Styles and Why They Work (Pt. 2)

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Effective business management is subjective in that every managed employee is different, therefore requiring a unique approach in terms of their productivity, adherence to office structure and policy, and overall learning pace. For example, some employees may hate to be micromanaged while others may hinge on it to maintain weekly organization, and these two approaches alone can be subdivided and personalized depending on the expectations and demands of the company at large.

To get the most out of your direct reports, you will need to identify and leverage an appropriate management style that will foster their strengths and mitigate their weaknesses. Bad management costs businesses billions of dollars each year, so it is imperative that you put your best foot forward as a leader and maintain a healthy management culture.

That said, there are several effective management styles commonly observed in offices spanning countless industries. I already covered a few of these styles in a previous blog, but here now are two more that may work for you.

Affiliative management

Affiliative managers are focused primarily on harmony within their respective teams, which they typically lean on to mitigate problems before the fact — and if they do, the team will be ready to meet it head-on in unison. This strong sense of foresight is applicable to any management scenario, as managers are, at times, responsible for seeing the big picture before others. Pair this with a knack for communal problem solving, and you are left with a management style that should all but guarantee order and organization, even if you only apply certain aspects of it.

Authoritative management

Many of today’s managers tend to forgo the authoritative management approach — at least at first — as it tends to come with a negative connotation in most professional circles. However, there are constructive and healthy ways to assume the authoritative role without damaging working relationships or souring yourself in the eyes of your peers. Put simply, some workplace situations simply require a firm leader to take charge and lay down the plan in its entirety — especially those that involve a chaotic or unorganized structure. This approach can be temporary to address a problem or it can become the norm to ensure such a culture never resurfaces, but either way, the best rule of thumb is to remain composed and polite in your authoritarian role; no one is saying you have to be rude, scary, or otherwise unpleasant. A manager/employee should always be as humanized as possible.

 

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Fostering Employee Productivity: What Not to Do

jason-kulpa-productivitySuccessful business managers know that there are many ways to accurately and efficiently foster employee productivity, but the best ones also recognize that there are just as many ways to botch this process. Productivity can be a delicate trait to hone at first, and your approach will almost exclusively depend on the unique strengths and weaknesses of the employee in question. Avoiding common pitfalls will make this process much easier — especially if you have just stepped into a managerial position.

That said, here are several mistakes to avoid en route to creating stronger employee productivity.

Being too formal all the time

As a manager, there is a time and place for formality; it is the backbone of your company, the foundation that all workers must adhere, in some capacity, to keep the workplace exactly that: a workplace. That said, too much formality can be detrimental to employee productivity if unhealthily implemented. Make sure you take time to humanize interactions with your direct reports; ask them about their lives, schedule bonding activities when appropriate, and maintain a demeanor that will keep them feeling comfortable and supported. If you can achieve this type of relationship, everything will likely go much smoother for everyone involved. Work is work, but that is not to say work has to be cold and emotionless.

Not being transparent

Perhaps a subsection of the previous point, transparency is a huge variable in any healthy manager/report relationship. By not being forthcoming about important feedback, you jeopardize the growth of your employees while creating an unnecessary divide that may create additional issues in the future. Specifically, be as direct as possible about mistakes, conflicts with office policies, and general areas of improvement; these are the talking points that will make your workers stronger and more cognizant of what it takes to succeed in their role. You will create another layer of approachability along the way, too.

Forgoing individualization

Individualization is one of the most important factors to consider in employee development, so forgoing it essentially chalks up to lazy management. As previously mentioned, the pursuit of employee productivity encircles the process of constantly pushing the envelope and testing employee thresholds. In this same sense, push yourself as a manager to learn as much as you can about your workers, and tailor your development plans based on this information. During new employees’ first weeks of work, schedule one-on-one meetings to tease out immediate strengths, weaknesses, concerns, fears, points of confidence, and any other relevant factors that will help you individualize their work experience. Not only will this approach help with productivity, it will generally help your employees feel supported at a personal level from day one.

 

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Five Management Styles and Why They Work (Pt. 1)

jason-kulpa-stylesEffective business management is subjective in that every managed employee is different, therefore requiring a unique approach in terms of their productivity, adherence to office structure and policy, and overall learning pace. 

To get the most out of your direct reports, you will need to identify and leverage an appropriate management style that will foster their strengths and mitigate their weaknesses. Bad management costs businesses billions of dollars each year, so it is imperative that you put your best foot forward as a leader and maintain a healthy management culture.

That said, here are several effective management styles commonly observed in offices spanning countless industries.

Result-Based Management

All management styles are, in a way, result-based, but some managers embrace the long term as a complete basis for success and failure. In this sense, it is not so much about how things are done, so long as they are done quickly and efficiently. This approach may seem cut-and-dry on the surface, but it actually welcomes quite a bit of experimentation; results-based managers are usually open to new ways for employees to accomplish a task, and this openness keeps both the manager and employee focused on what will streamline the work in front of them. When committed to habit, this subconscious problem solving should prove to be a huge asset to the company as a whole.

Inspirational/Extroverted Management

Though not a required characteristic for good leadership, many successful managers are both extroverted and charismatic. These traits can be infectious to subordinate workers; they help to maintain a warm working relationship while humanizing interactions that may otherwise feel mechanical and by-the-numbers in terms of corporate functionality. You want to foster productivity, but you also want to keep the process accessible and comfortable. This boils down to a healthy injection of compassion and consideration, paired with any opportunity to inspire and rally your workers around a goal. In many cases, these workers will perform better throughout the year.

Example-setting Management

Just like results-based management, example-setting management entails characteristics that should technically be observed in all management scenarios; after all, you cannot hope to lead your peers if you are setting a poor example within the context of company demands. However, example setting can be formed into a full-fledged management style depending on how much of an example you are willing to set. Employees will most likely respond more to examples that are both unconventional and healthily over-the-top — those leaders who continuously push the bar and go above and beyond baseline expectations. As a manager, you should already have a knack for ambition and forward thinking, so fully embrace this trait to set the strongest example possible.

 

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What Does it Take to Start a Tech Business in 2018?

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With technological advances becoming more prevalent in society, more and more businesses have been cropping up to deliver new or better technology products and services to the consumer market. Flourishing tech businesses address growing demands within targeted demographics and find their success in efficiently solving real-life problems in ways that haven’t been addressed, or that are better than solutions the current market offers. Thinking of delving into the industry? Here are five pieces of advice to help you launch your tech business in 2018.

 

Choose a Location

If you’re currently living in the U.S. or have aspirations to move, Silicon Valley may pose an appealing location for establishing your tech business. However, you might want to refrain from buying into the hype too early in the game. Silicon Valley is already saturated with larger, more established tech companies and the cost of living may prove too expensive for business businesses to sustain themselves. Instead, look to other places that boast good soil for high-tech startups and industry talent and that will set your business on a greater trajectory to success.

 

Develop Your Product

While it may appear obvious, among the most important steps in starting a tech business is to actually develop a product that interests people. In the case of most business software tech companies, coding is free, so establishing the foundation of your business is a crucial step that won’t put a dent in your pockets. A product can be an entirely new and innovative product, or one that improves an already existing product or process. Regardless, it’s important to actually begin building up your business before your ambition carries things too far out of your hands.

 

Establish and Source Talent

To supplement your product, ensure you or a partner has the technical knowledge or background to appropriately sustain your business. In the same vein, refrain from outsourcing work and focus your efforts on finding apt talent who will help grow your company.

 

Start Small

When first establishing your business, don’t immediately file to become an LLC or C-Corp if you don’t have a product, customers, or revenue. This will cost you valuable money you might not have or can put to better use to grow your company, such as licensing and hiring quality talent.

 

Advertise

Once you have a finished product, don’t forget to advertise. Starting off, you may not have much money to put toward an advertising campaign, but you can always host your own website using free-to-use sites, or advertise on social media sites such as Facebook or Reddit. If possible, launch your product. While launching your product free-to-use may appear counterintuitive, it may earn you the publicity to begin catching the eyes of organizations or investors.

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Tips for Balancing Business Ownership and Philanthropy (Pt. 2)

 

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There is no question that philanthropic involvement can be both enriching and beneficial to recipients and benefactors alike. By reaching out to a charitable cause, a business leader can expand his or her presence in the community by forging vital new relationships — all while raising awareness for an issue or bringing attention to an individual or entity in need. Now, perhaps more than ever, businesses have shifted paradigms to include a blend of profit and societal impact.

Still, however, it takes a fair amount of organization and tact to successfully balance business ownership with philanthropy. Speaking from experience in my own philanthropic involvement with UE.co, both endeavors must be handled with care so that they may co-exist in a constructive, successful manner. I recently explored this notion in a previous blog post, but here now are several more considerations to keep in mind as you work to effectively your entrepreneurial and philanthropic lifestyles.

 

Utilize smart marketing

Marketing, in most cases, is a crucial component of any successful business strategy. However, many business leaders fail to leverage marketing for their philanthropic programs. This fact is not surprising, as the promotion of any charitable activity can feel uncomfortable and awkward. After all, you don’t want to come off as self-serving in attempt to serve others.

The key is to exercise your marketing with a steady hand, and this means keeping two important points in mind:

  • A successful philanthropic initiative will serve a charitable purpose, but should not be pursued for selfish financial gain and advertisement alone.

  • In many cases, a corporate philanthropy program must garner a considerable audience in order to endure for years to come.

In other words, your marketing campaign should reflect a balance of modesty and promotion. Look at it this way: your best philanthropic intentions will probably be fully realized if your initiative is given healthy exposure. Tip too far in one direction, however, and you run the risk of dooming your cause in terms of longevity and/or public perception.

 

Never stop networking

Given the growing emphasis on social media and widespread interconnectivity at large, it is no shock that networking has become a clear asset to business professionals worldwide. Still, despite this notion, some businesses find themselves lagging on networking in order to focus on other seemingly more important parts of their daily workload.

Instead, networking should sit at the front of every leader’s mind, and this is especially true of those leaders hoping to expand their presence in the philanthropic community. Do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone in meeting new people, establishing new relationships and partnerships, and ultimately laying the roots necessary to bring new and exciting initiatives to fruition. This approach allows for increased efficiency and less redundancy for both organizations and donors alike.

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