Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Things To Watch Out For While Working Remotely

Over the past several months, we’ve published a number of lifestyle posts encouraging people to try working remotely, or even to embrace a nomadic lifestyle. We are a distributed team, and our day-to-day operations involve a lot of online communication between people in different time zones, working from home offices, co-working spaces, or holiday spots. We’re living proof that remote work, for lack of a better word, works.

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Sunday, April 2, 2017

Preparations For Successful Networking

When you are considering attending a networking event, especially if the community is new to you, there are certain things you might want to consider to better prepare yourself and get the most out of the event.
Is It A Professional Networking- Or Social Networking-Event?
When looking into what kind of event you are considering the question of whether it is a professional or a social one will be important. Many events might look like professional events but in reality there are professionals who are socializing with each other rather than people networking for professional reasons and your expectations should be set accordingly. It is usually much easier to get to the point regarding a professionally related topic at a clearly stated professionally event but on the other hand you are usually able to build a much stronger relationship with professionals when you meet them socially.
What Are Your Reasons For Networking?
Finding your way to the right networking event and have a good and prosperous time at that networking event of course depends on your reasons for networking in the first place and why networking is important for you.
Here some brutal honesty is in place. Do you plan to network because you need it for your business or career, or is it your boss who has told you to go and that’s it? Maybe you attend networking events under a disguise of professionalism while in reality your core reasons are entirely social – you want to make and meet friends, have a good time in general and have no problem staying on for that extra hour or even continue the night down town?
The honest answers to these questions should be factored in when you decide which events to attend and also how you act at these events. Otherwise you might miss your target altogether and doing so under a cloud of general boredom.
Who Is Coming To The Event?
This question is rather easy to answer today as social media and previous events are widely published and might also present you with the opportunity to introduce yourself to other guests before actually meeting them. Then you have the advantage of being remembered more easily when you actually do meet them, which is a key success-factor when networking.
If you cannot find the appropriate event information online you can of course place an email or a call to the organizers even though they most likely will pimp-up the seniority of the expected guests somewhat.

If you know some of the expected guests it might of course be a good idea to meet up prior to the event and have a little pre chat where you also have the opportunity to meet some other newcomers in a relaxed setting.
Where Does The Event Take Place?
The venue matters in many ways for networking. It is not just about finding the way there; it is also about what is around. Are there other venues in the area that can be used for pre-drinks, dinner, relaxed after-talks, do you know somebody working at the venue? Have you been there before, where can you park your car, can you eat there, are there several rooms, loud music, an opportunity to stay on after the event is over?
Community Cuture
The community culture can be a challenge for newcomers. Sometimes events are attended by a tight-nit community where everybody at least appears to know each other inside out and then it might feel like an obstacle to break into conversations and finding ones way at the event. Sometimes the appearance of a tight-nit community is only a fiction as people act like they known each other since childhood but in reality they have just seen each other before a few times. This is very hard for you to know in advance though.
The same challenge is presented by the professional cultures at various events. Industry oriented events might feel very introvert and the guests are happy using their most extreme jargon to further emphasize how important and special they are. If you realise the event is such an event and you are not a party to the industry in question you might just call it a day and leave instead of bouncing your head against the wall while looking like a fool.
Other cultural factors are age, strictness, mono- or multi-culture and gender division. Sometimes you will unfortunately find that some events are near fake as they might market themselves as for “senior management” while in reality all those seniors have sent their assistants in their place and whoever you speak with will have almost no decision making power at their company. 

The Host

Special consideration should be given to the event host. Try to find out who is the host of the event and connect with him or her prior to the event. The host is most likely the most networked person at the event and therefore a key person to reach out to and say a few words to so he or she remember you. Also, and few people do this so you will stick out, approach the host before leaving and say a few words of thank you. Then you will surely be remembered.

Is There A Dress Code?

Appearance matters so make sure you look good and is well groomed but do have a look at photos from previous events and factor in the style of the audience; you want to stick out in a good way but not appear like you are from galaxy far, far away.

Does The Event Have A Program
Is there a program for the event and certain activities that will take place? The event schedule can have an impact on when you should arrive. What if you are there to meet people but arrive at a time when casual conversations are obstructed by a program? Try to find out as much as possible before the event and ask the organisers – they surely know the flow of the event regardless whether it has an official program or not.
What Are The Languages Spoken At The Event?
It is naturally not very easy to attend an event where you don’t master the language spoken. If you need – bring a friend or a colleague that manages the event language. Surely some people speak some of the more international languages though but who they are and which international language they speak might be harder to find out. One advantage of being the odd alien is that you are likely to attract attention and might even be specially taken care of by other guests or the host. Most event organisers like to boast that their events are international.
Always Have a Good Time
Don’t get stuck being tense or over-focused. Try to relax, smile and have a good time. Whatever your reason with networking is your attitude will have an impact on your chances of achieving your goal – and of just having a good time at the event.
Anders Östlund
Founder of Fryday, an international network of professionals
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Saturday, April 1, 2017

Six Things To Consider When Paying For Internet Traffic!

Online marketing is key to success for most companies nowadays, long gone are the days when only web shops paid for Internet traffic. To be successful with online advertisement and make sure your money spent creates a good return on investment there are some things you really have to get your head around, some of them fun and proactive and some to avoid disaster.
Why Do You Want to Achieve With Paid-For Online Marketing?
To be successful with online marketing there are many aspects to consider to achieving success; figuring out your overall objective should be at the top of the list and it is not always as easy as it sounds.
The best goal for paid traffic is of course a monetary one you pay $1 for traffic that gives you sales of $2. That is an easy to understand and obvious goal.
If you don’t sell on your website you might want to gain new subscribers to your free newsletter or attract users to other activities that you believe might generate money in the longer term. Those goals are much harder to measure in the short term though but in the long-term you might learn how many paid-for clicks you need to increase the value of your business with a certain amount.
If you live off advertisement on your site it is most likely very hard to make money from paid for traffic, as then you need to get traffic cheaper than the income per view you get from your own advertisement. It might work but it is probably a fish dead in the water.
What Is Your Message To Attract Users?
Is your target audience young, old, academic, sporty or have some other distinct characteristic? You should adapt your message, style and visuals accordingly. Is it text, photo, video or maybe a combination of those? What language should it be? You need to test various styles and you will learn.
Develop A Good Landing Page
A landing page is the page on your site to which the user comes after clicking on one of your ads on the Internet. There is an abundance of examples of how companies get it wrong with landing pages. Some drive traffic to pages not even remotely connected with the message they have or the goal they have with their Internet campaigns.
To get it right you should consider your page design and its usability together with making sure you have clear and visible Calls To Action – the thing you want the users to do such as buying, registering, watching a video or something else.   

You might even need to create multiple landing pages, each one adapted for a single ad in your campaign.
What Are The Best Media For Internet Traffic?
The most common and sources of Internet traffic are – in order of strength – search engine ads, social media marketing, advertisement networks and email marketing,
Each one has its own advantages; some are good for traffic, some are better for brand building, some are cheaper, some are easier to target at a specific audience. Which one is good for you is something you will find out through trial and error.
For example Google search ads has proven strong for customers who know what they want to buy but not from whom, Facebook has a much higher average user age than many people think, advertisement networks are strong for brand building but be careful so your ads are not displayed on sites whose message goes against the values you have and email marketing is a good tool to resell to customers you already have.
What Content To Use To Attract Internet Traffic?
Every detail of your online marketing has its own aspects to consider. Your texts must include the keywords people use when they search on the Internet, your photos must be beautiful but yet easy to understand and your videos long enough to convey your message but short enough not to bore your audience.
Keywords can easily be tested and found by using search engine tools. Type in a few terms related to your product or service and the search engine will present keywords based on their user data but watch out for generic terms that are very expensive such as “buy a car”, better to use “buy a used Volvo in Chicago” if that is what you sell and that’s where you are.
Worth mentioning is that video is a media that is growing very fast in popularity among Internet users and is also being used by more and more Internet sites to share their content which are two good reasons to try video marketing even if it appears more complicated than text and images. 
Analyze Your Internet Campaigns
There are plenty of risks involved in online marketing, your success in one area can become a disaster in another. What if your ads are great and you get an enormous traffic – which you pay for per click – but your landing page is not good enough so none of all those clicks are converted into business? There are even examples of small companies that have made bankruptcy after losing track of their advertisement spending on the Internet.
That is why you should measure, analyze and adapt your advertisement campaigns very frequently. By using the tools provided by the advertisement platforms you use together with proper web analytics – the art of tracking and improving traffic and conversion on your own site – you can avoid the pitfalls and instead enjoy the money making machine successful online advertisement should be.
Anders Östlund
Founder of Fryday, an international network of professionals
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Friday, March 31, 2017

Where Can You Find Good Business Ideas?

Cases where people came up with a unique business idea all by themselves are extremely rare if they exist at all. If you think about it most businesses are working with services and products that existed before but are done better and more efficient now or they solve the same or a similar challenge for clients. You might object and say that airplanes, cell phones and computers were total novelties when they came around but actually they were furthering needs that humans had throughout history: Transportation, communication and calculation. The new ways of solving these challenges were just better.

Where Should I Look For Good Business Ideas?
First, you can hit the Internet and search for “good business ideas”. This is of course an obvious answer to a complicated question but nevertheless a good way to go about it.

Second, you can look for company statistics and try to find companies that are growing fast, are working in new ways, and are extremely good at marketing, sales or other core parts of any business.

Third, look up success stories and try to find out how those companies started and what was their initial advantage. Companies that are already huge are looked upon with aw but how did they really take off? Did they take off by themselves or did they get help from government regulations, monopolies or other “cheats”. If you can identify companies that took off in a way you identify as possible for you that is a great comfort.

Fourth, the simplest way to find a good business idea is to copy somebody else’s business and do it better.

Fifth, travel to foreign countries and look at the society there. What do they buy? How do they live? What is important for people there in terms of comfort and status? Can any of these observations be translated into business in your home country?

Sixth, find companies in your own market that are doing good or bad. What might be the reasons these companies are doing good or bad? Can you do it better?

How To Analyze The Business Idea?
When you have some good business ideas you need to analyze them to see if they fit you and your market.

What are the actual challenges faced by people and companies where you are located? Can you provide certain goods or services cheaper? Will some of the business ideas you have bring something entirely new to the market? Is there are craving for luxury goods? Are people actually willing to pay more for goods and services they already have because they are better or more comfortable? Can you produce something in your home country and be competitive on a foreign market due to quality or price?

How much do you have to spend to produce the new product or service? Do you need a business partner? How will you find a good business partner? Will it take forever to develop the product and cost more than you can possibly afford or get investors for? Are you willing to live like a Spartan for years while bootstrapping your company? Are you bringing something onto the market that will require enormous marketing to change the behavior and feelings amongst your presumptive customers? Some things that work well in one country can be a total disaster in another market as people might not have the spending power, knowledge or there is a lack of infrastructure. It is hard to sell sand in Sahara so to say.

Finally and often forgotten when looking at business ideas: How do you really earn money from this business? You are not creating a business for charity after all but should be able to make a living from it, pay employees and deliver profit to the owners. Starting a company is rather easy, develop the product or service harder, finding clients much harder and making profit from this complicated system of organization, product development, marketing and sales is by far the hardest part. Every single detail has to be in place and it has to be in place every day for a long time.

It is great fun to be in business and it is a great feeling to dream about success. Waking up on a Monday morning and spend your week trying to solve what appears to be unsolvable problems while at the same time being haunted by grumpy employees and customers is, on the other hand, something that can drain anybody.

But with the right spirit and a long-term perspective the dream of freedom, riches, recognition and a brilliant lifestyle make it totally worth going for. And that dream comes closer and closer for every Monday morning you go to work with a big smile and the confidence that you will make it because that’s just the way it is. 

Anders Östlund
Founder of Fryday, an international network of professionals

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Thursday, March 30, 2017

How To Master Small Talk!

Moving from a greeting to a conversation to a relationship is key to forming friendships and relationships related to business or other affairs of life. Small talk is what makes that progress happen.
How To Open Up A Conversation?
Of course you start with introducing yourself. I simple “Hello, my name is [INSERT YOUR NAME], how are you?” is a good start.  
Ask open questions – questions that cannot be answered with a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’. By asking open questions you trigger more of a conversation than with closed question as the other person has to respond in a way that you can follow up on. Try to avoid any matter that can be perceived as sensitive.
Examples of open questions that are soft and non-sensitive:
  • How did you find this event?
  • Where are you from?
  • How is it there (where the person is from)?
  • How often do you come here?  
  • What can you suggest in terms of activities in this city?
Then you listen and ask follow up questions. Listening is very important and everybody enjoy when somebody listen to them.
How To Deal With Rejection
What if that somebody you introduced yourself to stonewalls you or even walks away right then and there? Don’t get bothered by this but consider the rudeness to be the other person's problem. It can also be that the other person has a really bad day, is crazily busy or preoccupied with some serious issues. If you have acted with curtsey and not been too intense you should not let any of this get to you. Just turn around and proceed to the next person.
The Emotional Aspect Of Small Talk
Making somebody feel comfortable when talking with you makes the whole process of getting somewhere in your relationship building much easier than if the other person feel uncomfortable because you rush or are too intense.
Giving positive attention by being a good listener, asking follow up questions and follow the other persons mimic – laugh when they laugh, smile when they smile, lean forward when they do, lean back when they do etc - are good ways to make somebody feel comfortable.
Acting in this way makes it easier for the other person to open up and share more of his or her thoughts and that is when you know you are onto something, then you can also open up more and then you are in the friendship-making territory.
Expanding To Real Friendship
Once you have reached friendship-making territory you are still not friends. You need to follow up and continue to build on the relationship.
Maybe you can suggest having lunch or a coffee? Those are low-key activities that might just be about business but can also be a way towards friendship. The more often you meet the person the better you will know if this is a friend or if you will end up being acquaintances.
Not getting to a real friendship is not the end of the world. Most people you know are probably acquaintances and not friends; you can’t be best friends forever with everybody – that kind of close relationship is probably reserved for a small amount of people.
  • Small talk is an essential part of networking.
  • Bringing a relationship from ‘hello’ to a real relationship – whether it is an acquaintance or a friend – is something everybody can do.
  • It is just about taking that first step, introduce yourself and initiate a real conversation and you are on the way.
  • As with everything else practise makes perfect, you really need to get out there and do it, this is one of those things that cannot be mastered just by reading about it.
  • This article is not a comprehensive guide to how to form relationships, just an outline of some common features of how to get started and how things might proceed.
Anders Östlund
Founder of Fryday, An International Network Of Professionals
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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

What To Look For In A Potential Business Partner?

There are many reasons why having a business partner is a very good thing but there are also plenty of reasons why a business partner might become a disadvantage.
Why Do I Need A Business Partner?
What is it you lack that you need from a partner? Is it money, enormous work capacity, brains, structure, network, creativity or sales experience? Try to map out what it really is you need to succeed with your startup before you approach potential business partners.
Are you willing to give up control over your business and are you able to deal with somebody else always having opinions about the work you do?
If your potential partner has the same characteristics as you – why would you need him?
Why would you give away a piece of your company if you can get that input free of charge or can afford to hire somebody?
How will your relationship work out when put to the test in though times?
A good piece of advice is, as Rhonda Abrams, president of the small-business-book publisher The Planning said:
“Date before you marry.”
What Questions Does The Potential Business Partner Have For Me?
If a potential employee doesn't ask any questions in a job interview, you might be less likely to hire him because of a perceived lack of interest. The same applies to a potential business partner, who should want to know about your character, reliability and expectations before entering any partnership.

Is There Any Luggage?
Make a background check before you go into a partnership. There might be things there that you are not aware of. Do the person really have the knowledge he or she states, has the person had any entanglements with the law or with previous business partners?
Would you invest in a company without a proper due diligence? Probably not, so why take in a partner without looking into that persons past? Banks, investors, suppliers and clients might run for cover if they discover that your business partner has a questionable background.
You need to find out before anybody else does or your mistake can cost you dearly and even ruin your business.
What network does your potential partner have? What is his standing in the local community? Are the contacts he brags about real or just persons he shook hands with?
A good way to find out is to speak to others in your community or sphere of business and randomly mention your potential partners name. Surely the person you speak with will react if they know him.
You can also speak with former employees or employers of the person. Always better to speak to former than current associates. The current ones might want to get rid of the person and see you and your business as a perfect dump.

Shared Ambition
Is your potential partner's commitment to the business as strong as yours? Do you share the same work ethic? What if you are willing to work dreadful hours but your potential business partner expect to be home at 5pm? What if your potential partner has a newborn baby at home and another one coming, that might have a profound impact on the time he can commit and also change the potential partners priorities in life altogether. Family men are very admirable but not always the best business partners.
You also need to make sure you share a vision of where the company is going and what needs to be done to get there. Most likely you are both interested in becoming superrich but do you agree on how to get there? Not sharing the objectives can put you toe to toe faster than you think.
These are reasons why you need to be extremely straight forward if you are about to form a partnership. There are so many examples of people who say they are committed, and they might think they are, but when put to the test they quickly run out of steam but when they do they will still hold a share in your company that they are not likely to give up easily.
There are plenty of friends who start businesses together but at some point thereafter their partnership is over and the friendship lost forever.

Endurance And Resilience
All businesses go through tough times and you need to be able to deal with them and so does your partner.
What if your company is short of cash and needs to bootstrap for a longer period? How long can you and your partner go without taking out a salary? What if your partner just bought a huge house and has to meet interest rate payments every month? Or maybe your potential partner has a family that sits on enough money to give you a soft and long credit line? Try to find out before you start.
What if you have to work extreme hours over a longer period of time? Does your partner have the physical and mental capacity to do so or will he hit the wall too early? Everybody has their breaking point but where is it? You can of course not find this out in advance but you should take it into consideration.

Proper Contract
Whatever you agree on with a potential business partner it has to be put on paper and signed in front of witnesses. You need to state what your financial commitments are, what other resources you might add to the venture and – maybe most important – under what circumstances and how you will break up.
It is not very optimistic to go into a partnership with a plan for a breakup but it is nevertheless important. Should you have a passivity clause, a clause stating that your partner has to sell his shares if he stops working? Do you need to have a clause prohibiting the partner to sell, give or in any other way hand his shares over to a third party without you being offered to buy the shares first?
Better to sit down together and map these things out and create a good and thought through agreement when you are still rested and in a good mood than dealing with it when disaster is upon you and the last thing you need is lawyer costs and coming court procedures.

Having a solid business partner is a great thing but as with everything else in life nothing should be taken for granted and we all have dreadful memories of standing in front of the class in school presenting homework we never did.  This time around not doing your homework can cost you dearly.
Anders Östlund
Founder of Fryday, an international network of professionals
Did you enjoy this article? There are plenty of more useful articles on how to succeed in business at Fryday’s Business Blog.
You are also more than welcome to post your articles at Fryday’s Business Blog.
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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Fryday’s Business Blog Accept Guest Bloggers!

Fryday is a worldwide network of professionals with 200k+ members. Fryday’s Business Blog was developed to provide opportunities for Fryday’s members to get access to relevant, business related, knowledge and thereby increase the member’s capability in business. Fryday's Business blog accepts guests posts free of charge but all posts will be moderated.