The key to attracting millennial talents is first and foremost to offer candidates a flexible work environment where they have the option to work during their most productive hours and in an environment that fosters creativity. Other incentives that millennials look for in a startup are: opportunities for training and development that will advance their position; an office culture of teamwork and nurture; mentorship; and a sense of purpose that appeals to this socially aware generation.
Whether you’re pitching a product, service or yourself, there are three essential steps: stimulating interest, transitioning that interest, and sharing a vision. Of the three, the first is the most important as time constraints (hence the well-known “elevator pitch” nomenclature) may limit you to stimulating interest. If you’re successful doing so, then a second opportunity to transition from making an emotional connection to a logical one may present itself. After accomplishing the transition, you need to share your vision by clearly and confidently stating the value you bring to the table and the value you’re seeking in return.
Currently, only 6% of venture capitalists and 20% of angel investors are women. Toronto-based Highline BETA, a startup co-creation and new venture development company, is looking to change that. In July of last year, the company acquired Female Funders Angel Academy, a program designed to accelerate the learning curve for the next generation of female corporate and technology investors. The program’s relaunch will be attended by several changes, one of the more significant of which is that in the year following its completion, Academy members will have the opportunity to write their first investment cheques and co-invest alongside Highline BETA.
Meetings are often a source of dread, and for good reason: over the past 50 years they’ve gone from taking less than 10 hours a week to nearly 23. Your company’s meetings can be reenergized if you learn to recognize their most important minutes and then set up a system that fosters more of them. How? The senior vice president and general manager of communications and collaboration for LogMeIn suggests looking for both verbal and nonverbal cues, creating a culture of collaboration, having a flexible meeting agenda, and capturing the “gold” by recording when attendees are engaged.
The reaction to the lows in business better defines the long-term success of a business. Here are five tips to help high-growth businesses deal with their growing pains and then scale:
- Hiring and retention: In the growth phase, it’s essential to balance the need to rapidly staff key roles with the candidates’ fit with the company culture.
- Focus on one vertical first and perhaps even a niche: Go deep within your own vertical before expanding into related horizontal spaces.
- Growth and cash management: Getting a product market fit and per unit economics intact before and during scaling through high growth phases can help stabilize and reconcile growth with cash management.
- Key metrics: The alignment of department goals with key unit economic metrics provides greater accountability and understanding among department heads, allowing for a more productive dialogue around how to improve the business.
- Keeping your cool: There are going to be difficult times, but short-term failures can build a more successful company in the longer term if you stay focused on fixing and measuring factors that are in your control.
Considering breaking into an established industry? Don’t feel like you have to pursue a set strategy “because that’s the way it’s always been done.” Here are five tips from the co-founder and co-CEO of Third Love, Heidi Zak, for effectively competing with the big boys: Do your research, but be ready for surprises; build a brand to pitch your product; leverage new technology; build a better product – and spend on it; and finally, be scrappy.
As the owner of an online store, it’s essential you know the latest trends in the products you already carry or are considering. And because trends can be a flash in the pan, you need to capitalize on them as soon as possible. Here are seven ways to find product trends, which the author recommends you combine for a more comprehensive understanding of trends and to determine whether they’re products you should carry:
- Check best-selling products on Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and AliExpress;
- Read trend reports from e-commerce sources such as Trendhunter;
- Follow social media influencers, being mindful of #ad and #sponsored hashtags to determine post intent;
- Use industry analytics tools to discover best-selling product ideas and an in-depth view of top selling items;
- Use Google Trends to get a feel for the conversations around product trends;
- Browse consumer and hobby magazines for the latest featured items; and
- Attend trade expos and exhibitions.
New hires have made a big bet on joining your company’s team, and it’s up to you to let them know that it was a smart one. Here are four onboarding practices you can easily implement to “short-circuit those awkward moments of second-guessing – and send new hires home from their first day smiling”: Get paperwork squared away before they walk in the door; set up their desk (with more than just a computer); help them make friends; and send them home with a gift for their partner or a friend.
According to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report, only about one third of employees feel like owners. Another 50% are “job renters” who are essentially there only to collect their paycheck, and the remainder are “actively disengaged.” So how can business leaders and entrepreneurs provide incentive for their team members and employees move closer to an owner mentality, where they take ownership of their work? The father-son co-authors of the newly released book Counter Mentor Leadership outline seven recommendations:
- Clearly communicate the big picture, and current reality
- Give every employee the necessary degrees of freedom
- Make employees owners with stock options, and actions like quality control tags
- Give advancement priority to initiative rather than experience per se
- Provide employee feedback and coaching in real time
- Flatten the hierarchical management structure
- Fix mismatches and commitment problems quickly
The Muse, a women-owned startup that provides online job listings and career advice for over 5 million millennials, has experienced explosive growth since its 2011 launch. One of its co-founders, Alex Cavoulacos, shares three tips on raising venture capital, and she should know: according to Venture Beat, the company has raised almost $30 million. So what strategies does she advise?
Pitch big: “If you are looking for an investor to put in a large sum of capital in your high growth start up, you need to speak about the huge revenue and growth potential” rather than conservative forecasts that lowers the value of your concept.
Rejection is okay: “You need to manage your own psychology as an entrepreneur and every founder encounters the word ‘no’ numerous times when raising capital.” Don’t let rejection stop you. You’re going to face multiple rejections before you finally hear “yes.”
Own your vision: Investors may advise you to change your ideas, but remember it’s your vison. “You should only make changes based on what you believe is useful…Make sure you test your concept and own the vision.”