Guest Post By Janine Bensouda, President and Founder, Bensouda Consulting via Executive Women
Does a brand need a heartbeat to come alive and connect with its customers? We can all agree that when it comes to delivering a service; doing it with heart is certainly an advantage!
Then again, how can an inanimate, intangible name or object like a ‘brand’ have a heart, let alone one that beats? And more importantly, what for?
Let’s explore some of the reasons why making a brand truly vibrant reaps benefits for all who come in contact with it.
So what exactly is a brand? What is its ‘heartbeat’ and what is the value in all of this?
Picture this: you’ve spent months (years even) plowing all of your energy into your big, brilliant idea and you finally get in front of someone who matters.
You deliver your pitch and… it falls flat. For whatever reason, that potential client, investor or other third party just doesn’t get it.
So, what do you do? First up, it’s natural to feel like the world is closing in on you and you can’t breathe. If you weren’t feeling this way, it’d be fair to say you’re not really passionate about what you’re trying to get up off the ground.
The thing is, rejection is inevitable at some point for all entrepreneurs.
Consider these famous tales:
When it comes to rejection, the real problem lies in our perception of it. Far too often, it stops people dead in their tracks… there’s the embarrassment, the shame, the fear that the saying about ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, is just a myth.
What separates those who succeed from those who fail, is their ability to fall and rise again. The quicker you get back up, the quicker who can continue moving ahead.
If you’ve just experienced a rejection that rocked you to the core, keep these 5 things in mind.
#1 – Not everyone is going to love what you do
This one’s just a fact of life. Think of your favourite movie… not everyone loves it right? Well that’s how you need to think of whatever you’re trying to create business-wise. You’ll have your fans and then you’ll have people who just don’t fit into your target market.
#2 – Ask yourself what you can take away from the rejection
Give yourself a couple of days to allow the emotion to settle. Then, go back to the feedback and consider whether there’s any substance as to what’s being said. In the long run, this will only help you to improve whatever it is you’re trying to do.
#3 – Remember it’s all part of the process
Entrepreneurship is no easy gig. Otherwise, everyone would be doing it. However, remind yourself why you first chose this journey as opposed to having a standard 9am to 5pm job. Anyone who tells you what you’re doing will be easy, is lying. But the rewards are likely to be sweeter in the end.
#4 – Don’t take it personally
If someone has given you their honest feedback, the worst thing you can do is lash out and be unpleasant. Just be polite and remember this: you never know when you may run into someone again. You don’t want to burn bridges unnecessarily.
#5 – Keep going!
If you have faith in whatever you’re trying to create, don’t allow rejection to stop you in your tracks. Keep at it… keep persevering and refining whatever it is you have on your hands.
Most importantly, remember that easy success is very much the exception… keep your eyes forward and focus on the positives. Sure, learn from the negatives but don’t allow yourself to drown in them.
Whether you realise it or not, so much of your life is based around negotiation. But if you’re an entrepreneur and driving your own business, negotiation is critical.
Make no mistake: the most successful of entrepreneurs go in with a game plan. They’re not seeking to be popular or labeled ‘nice’. They’re looking to seal the deal on every occasion.
So, if you know negotiating doesn’t come naturally to you, we’ve put together 5 steps that’ll help to get your negotiation skills where they need to be.
Ask for what you want
In the art of negotiation, there’s no room for skirting around the subject or being tactful. Be assertive without being aggressive, and question anything you need to in the moment. Don’t rely on follow-up emails to do the job for you if you’re a little shy or not all that confident within yourself.
Always be prepared
It’s hard to negotiate with another party if you don’t know anything about them. When you walk into any meeting or catch-up session, knowing your strengths and weaknesses is key. Of course, knowing the other party’s strengths and weaknesses is also highly beneficial so that you can structure your pitch accordingly.
Know what is negotiable on your end
Chances are, you’re going to have some factors that are negotiable and others that just aren’t. Know each of these and remain firm regardless of the events that unfold. There is no room for emotion when it comes to negotiation.
Make sure you listen
One of the biggest flaws people tend to have is that they don’t listen. The best negotiators will ask what they need to and then listen intently. If you do struggle with negotiating, this really works in your favour because you’re allowing the other party to do most of the talking and to steer the conversation. Just make sure you don’t wind up being totally silent – doing so definitely won’t help your cause.
Aim for a win-win for all
Fact: people love talking about themselves and their worries. Remember, when you’re negotiating, you need to consider the other party’s needs as well. It’s not all about you… successful negotiators often have the knack for making others believe what they are suggesting will benefit them immensely.
If you’ve read this list and are feeling intimidated, remember that like everything else, this all gets easier with practice. The best negotiators have spent years honing their skills.
And hey, there’s no harm in asking mentors for advice either.
If you’re an entrepreneur who’s been through this tough journey already, share how you managed to overcome your fears and worries.
Ok this isn't an episode about Ghosts, goblins and Halloween this is about the subject of Ghost writing. Sarah refers to being a ghost-writer as someone who is your 'invisible pen'. Someone who you help you achieve your content strategy goals. Someone who 'gets' your passion and can package up your ideas and your key bullet points into an eloquent way that might be more difficult for you to achieve if you are time deficient, writing isn't your forte or even your English is your second language. In this interview we discover the real truths behind ghost writing, What they can do for you and what are the advantages of using them. Go Sarah........... :) Listen NOW
''I've got a confession to make. And I'm sure it's a confession many other entrepreneurs share with me (go on, admit it...).
I'm a complete control freak.
There, I said it.
Oh, and I like to think that I can do everything by myself from start to finish.
Before dedicating myself to building my own freelance writing business, my corporate career was plagued by my own obsession to have to control and do everything myself.
And while I was very successful, I was also incredibly stressed and not exactly the happiest person alive.
Now that I'm running my own show, I have a choice:
Choice 1: Continue on as a control freak and try to do everything myself. This could possibly lead to a breakdown at some point.
Choice 2: Accept that I don't have to do it all myself and allow others to help me on my entrepreneurial journey.
So far, just by surrounding myself with the right kind of people, I've learnt how much I can learn from others. And in particular, other women who have more life and business experience than I do.
Sometimes, opportunities come your way that are just too good to pass up.
So when women leadership mentor Anoushka Gungadin offered to work with me to help teach me how to run my business properly, I jumped at the chance.
One session in and Anoushka's guidance has already made a massive difference as to how I'm tackling my major goal at the moment: Publishing a kid's book.
I won't lie -- It's confronting to work with a leadership coach initially. The first thing Anoushka got me to do was to fill out a form rating myself on a number of topics.
While it wasn't hard for me to complete the questions that related to my career, it was really confronting to honestly rate myself in areas such as health, peace, fulfillment, fun... The personal stuff!
If you're anything like me, as an entrepreneur, 99 per cent of your time is now dedicated to achieving your goals. Work/life balance isn't really a factor anymore because I legitimately love what I do.
The great thing about working with Anoushka is that she asks me the hard questions.
The kind of things I might not stop to contemplate such as:
What are three things I'm tolerating or putting up with in my life?
Better still, she helps me to focus on one thing at a time as opposed to trying to do everything at once and spreading myself too thinly.
As they say, creative minds are rarely tidy.
Best of all, it's very reassuring to know that I'm not alone in what I'm doing. I've written a lot about being both excited and scared about the road ahead. And it all still applies as I tap away at my laptop now.
Deep down inside, I can feel a certain calmness where there probably should be a lot of stress.
I dream of the day I go to pick up a book off the bookshelf, turn it around and see my name on the cover. I can't think of a better moment as a writer.
I'm sure there will be failure, setbacks and so on, but that's all part of the ride.
And as long as I continue to surround myself with people such as Anoushka, I can't really go wrong.
If you are an entrepreneur and you don't have anyone guiding you and holding your hand, you could already be taking your first step in the wrong direction.
Be brave - It's okay to let go and allow others to help you.
Consider this line from the great T.S. Eliot: Do I dare disturb the universe? I do - How about you?''
If want to contact any of these ladies then please contact Sarah via her website www.sarahcannata.com.au and Caroline via her Website www.moneymindsetcoaching.co.uk
When it comes to entrepreneurial life, anything that makes your world a little easier is really worth its weight in gold.
Meetings, emails, proposals… It can all get a little too much sometimes. We’re sure you’ve had times when you’ve found yourself staring aimlessly at your inbox because you don’t even know where to begin (psst… We’re talking from experience).
Well, the following 4 business tools are a blessing. If you don’t already use them, give them a go and if you do use them, tell us just how much of a difference they make to your days!
#1 – Canva
All of those graphic designers out there will be cringing at this point but let us be clear: Canva is no replacement for a talented graphic designer. It’s an easy tool for any entrepreneur who has no design sense to jump on and create a decent enough looking graphic. It’s especially useful when you’re looking to boost a Facebook ad or sort other simple forms of marketing so that you’re not forced to splash out cash unnecessarily.
#2 – SourceBottle
Especially when you’re just starting up, spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on PR and publicity just isn’t going to happen. SourceBottle is a site where journalists, authors, bloggers or anyone really, posts a ‘call-out’ as to what sources they’re looking for (for example, a fitness expert, finance expert and so on). Sign up and you’ll receive a couple of email alerts per day. From there, it’s a matter of simply sifting out what’s relevant to you and responding to an alert before it expires.
#3 – MailChimp
MailChimp is pretty much email marketing made easy for anyone! It’s simple to use in terms of composing and sending emails… It’s all trackable and it really takes your marketing to the next level. Dedicate just an hour of your time to getting your head around it all and you’ll see just how beneficial to your business MailChimp can be.
#4 – Skype
Once upon a time, speaking to someone from overseas, would see you raking up a ridiculous phone bill. These days, you can talk to anyone anywhere with Skype and a working internet connection. This takes the notion of global connectivity to a whole new level… The U.S., the UAE, the UK, Australia, New Zealand… there’s no place that is off limits these days.
So we’ve had our say… What are your favourite business tools?
In the last few months I have interviewed so many lovely women entrepreneurs and shared their stories. I've been bringing Podcasting to this Middle East and encouraging people to take up the opportunity to use podcasts to listen to topics they love aswell as use it as a tool for their business. Podcasting is a great way to learn about a product/service and a great way to share your products/services BUT I know as well that there is a 'learning curve' to this opportunity to I'm going to start to writing about Podcasting in the Middle East and encourage more individuals and aswell companies to adopt the tool as part of their marketing. So, to get the ball rolling Im going to share my 4 reasons why you should start a podcast. Let's begin.....
1. Become THE authority in your field
I was at an event recently at the gentleman at the event really knew his stuff. He shared not only his professional knowledge, but case studies and articles and then answered many individual questions the audience was asking. He was an expert, an authority in his chosen profession. With a podcast show this gentlemen could share this great advise through focused topics each week and even answer questions/case studies he received on a weekly basis which might help other people. Thus developing his reputation and his business as an expert in his field. Now you may think you are parting with your valuable know for free but you are not. One of the key points of selling is being able to share value, show off your services and how informed you are about your product. To do this you need to get in front of your potential customer and possibly give them a sales pitch. Sales pitches are great BUT no great either. Who likes being sold too? I know I don't. BUT with a podcast episode you can share your knowledge and your expertise from a far, while your potential customer is sat at home or in the car or on the treadmill. They are absorbing what you are saying without feeling they are being sold too. This allows your listener (and potentially your lead) the opportunity to get comfortable with you and learn about you and your services from a distance. Wouldn't it be awesome to have your customers feel at ease when you share your products or services. Its kind of like getting a referral in some way as the 'breaking the ice' is already done and the bonus part the customer feels like they know you already.
2. You can Generate new customers, generate new leads & promote your products and services
It is really hard to generate leads, find new customers and promote your products and services. We use social media, blogs, meetings and referrals to help us take potential customers through a sales funnel. A podcast show can help here too because you can use the show to talk about your products and services, add value through sharing pros and cons, share FAQ's and then direct people to your web page or website with clear call to actions. This podcast can be on your website and available for your leads and customers to listen too at their own convenience.
3. Its an inexpensive way to share your knowledge, the latest news in your industry or case studies
Its not expensive to set up at all. Folk think it is but its not. You need a good microphone, a laptop and editing software and then be signed up to a podcast host so they can host and share your podcast. An episode should be about 20 - 30 minutes long which can be uploaded straight away then you use social media, your newsletter, your blog and your website to promote it. Easy! You can start one now. Just brainstorm your topic ideas, find the pain factors that people talk about in your industry and make it happen.
4. Its a convenient way for your audience to consume your content.
Content is King. Creating articles, stories, case studies are all content that you make available to your potential leads and customers to help learn more about you and your products/services. But to get to his information we need to be sat reading it or watching it. Podcasting is an auditory tool so your customers could be listening to you while they drive, while they work or while on the treadmill or running. Its the only activity you can do while you do something else. Its effectively your multitasking partner.
OK.. so there are 4 reasons. I think you should adopt podcasting into your marketing tool collection. Im not the only one saying it though. Podcasting is a very effective way to connect with your audience and many publication and podcast experts out there are encouraging you to take it on and use it as a tool. I love it, its something I'm passionate about and as been an awesome way to share the stories of amazing women entrepreneurs in this region.
If you would like to know more and what to chat about Podcasting, then let me know. I'm listening... :) I've also got a few brilliant courses via Udemy on my resources page you may want to look at if you want to podcast.
I look forward to hearing from you.
The Learning Curve Podcast - THE Podcast for Women Entrepreneurs in the Middle East and North Africa Region: We sat down with Ludmilla Figueiredo, the Business Development Manager for Eureeca to find out more about the concept of Crowd Investing and how Investors and business could benefit from this innovative funding strategy.
How would you like to take your business to the next level? As an entrepreneur have you ever thought about Crowdinvesting? As an investor, looking for opportunities have you ever thought about crowd investing? What is crowdinvesting? Its a process where by businesses raise capital to expand and grow from a crowd of investors in exchange for shares in the business. Nicholla sat down with Ludmilla to find out more about this concept. We explored the opportunity for both businesses and investors and how both parties could benefit from Eureeca's funding strategy. Read More and Listen to this Interview
“Do. Or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda, Jedi Master
We’re channeling the wisdom of Yoda from Star Wars here in order to tackle the first big question in our month long focus on entrepreneurs. That question is…
Can all of us become entrepreneurs?
The answer is… It’s complicated! Fact is, not everyone can be their own boss. Ask any entrepreneur and they’ll tell you that you have to put a lot on the line to be an entrepreneur.
You have to be willing to lose things in order to make way for all of the things the universe is likely to be throwing your way.
Additionally, you need to have drive – The kind of drive that means you’re working into the early hours in the morning instead of sleeping or hitting the party scene with your besties.
Focus, commitment, self-belief and the ability to overcome fear… They’re all key ingredients any successful entrepreneur boasts.
Most importantly, you need to have a mindset in which you’re okay with being outside of your comfort zone. A lot.
This way of life isn’t for everyone: Some people enjoy routines, stability and not having to worry about how they’re going to transform an idea into more.
Some people just aren’t risk takers and that means they’re not cutout to be an entrepreneur. We’re talking about the kind of people who take calculated risks and are willing to back themselves when others wouldn’t.
When you look at the most successful entrepreneurs, they see beyond themselves. They’re big vision people… The kind of people who fail five times and get up six times.
Failure is part of the entrepreneurial journey. Often, what differentiates a successful person from everyone else, is their ability to pick themselves up and continue going when others would give up.
This is harsh but oh so true: It’s not going to get you far just by being ‘good at something.’ An entrepreneur is more than just talented… They have a business brain and while they don’t have all of the answers, they’re good at asking the questions they need to and digging until they find those answers.
They’re the kind of people who don’t just have an ‘idea’ – They’re the kind of people who have an idea, make sure it’s more than just a passing whim and do
whatever they need to in order to determine their ideal client and to make their business profitable.
Not to mention, these days, business is about so much more than making money – Organisations have a social and commercial responsibility and if you look at the most successful entrepreneurs, they always have a vision that’s bigger than themselves. They seek to change lives.
Finally, any entrepreneur needs to be good at networking and communicating. Even the most talented of people get help on their way up… Being able to make people listen to your message and having the ability to think outside yourself and ask how you’re going to help others first, is essential.
Why? Without people, you have no business.
So, let’s answer the question that’s front-and-centre: Can all of us become entrepreneurs?
Yes. Ultimately, anyone can do anything they set their mind to… But that doesn’t mean they should!
Before we go, here’s a 55-point checklist to grading entrepreneurs published on Forbes.com.
And don’t forget to check out our interviews with a selection of female entrepreneurs to discover how they’re making a difference.
What do you think? Can everyone be an entrepreneur (share your thoughts below)?
Got a topic you’d like us to blog about? Click here to tell us now.
I was always love how 'things just happen' and meeting Jenny was kind of like that. I met her to help someone else and quickly learnt about her career and what she did. Dubai is always on the forefront of business starting up in the region and here I was talking to Jenny who has carved a niche for herself as a 'Company Formation Specialist' in Abu Dhabi. I just knew she was someone I had to have an 'entrepreneurial journey story' interview with. Her background is Marketing /Communications and now she helps bridge the gap between company formation in Abu Dhabi and understanding business culture.
A people person at heart and a natural ability to spot a niche market and solve a problem. She is working towards evolving her business into a 'one stop shop' for all things related to business start up 'onshore' not free zone in Abu Dhabi.
------> click here to listen to this interview.
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Share interviews with Arab and Expat women entrepreneurs, sharing their entrepreneurial journey with their top business advise. We blog about knowledge, articles, FAQ on social media and share tools and resources to help us get going in our niche.