Tips to Clone Your Best Employee

Do you have an amazing, incredible employee who stands out from the rest of your staff? You may have a problem.
It doesn’t sound like a problem, of course. You wanted to hire someone incredible, and you did. But if you’ve ever wondered what you would do without them, you can start to see your potential crisis. If you have an employee you consider virtually indispensable, and that employee quits or retires, you don’t want to be in a position of having your company crumble around you.
In other words, you should be doing everything you can to clone your employee. Here are some tips to help you do just that.
Have your best employees train new employees.
You might feel you should do all the training, or that a middle-range or lesser performing employee should be breaking in someone new, while the best employees keep the company running.
But that would be a huge mistake, claims Kathy Stokes, who co-owns a PostNet franchise in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, with her husband, Terry. The Stokeses have six full-time employees and have owned their franchise for 18 years. Her first employee, Karlyn Wagner, still works for her, and whenever Stokes makes a new hire, Wagner is the primary trainer.
“You want to create a culture in your business where everyone is encouraged to have good staff behaviors,” Stokes says, adding that she has found that “as long as I have those one or two rockstars who get it, and really understand what the business is about, then we can always train the new ones coming in.”
Let the subpar employees go.
Obviously, you should give employees a chance, in a culture where people can be free to make the occasional mistake without fear of reprisal.
“Working and business should be fun. Many employees are not being paid enough, but they will stick around a quality work environment,” says Bruce Brown, who owns Brown Marketing Consulting and is a consultant in Los Angeles specializing in sales training.
But at the same time, if some of your employees turn out to be hateful and are bringing down the business with their negativity or poor performance, it’s important to not let them hang on for too long.
“If you allow sour grapes into the environment and people who don’t follow the company’s culture, then that’s what the new employees will learn. Pretty soon, you’ll have a new culture, one that you don’t necessarily want,” Stokes says.
Be careful about singling out your star.
It’s one thing if you have a small staff and your model employee has been around for years. They’re likely going to expect that longtime employee to be, for lack of a better phrase, “teacher’s pet.” But if your star employee hasn’t been around awhile, holding that person up as someone to emulate may backfire.
“My suggestion is, don’t hold one employee up as a model. That will cause resentments and break down team relationships,” says Kelly Drake, who owns Resolve, a conflict and workplace mediation company in Charleston, South Carolina.
Jonathan Ceballos, human resources director at USB Memory Direct, a Cooper City, Florida-based company that creates custom USB flash drives and has 23 employees, agrees that you should tread carefully here. He explains that one of the company’s star employees now trains the new hires, but before she did, Ceballos made sure everyone knew the employee was going to go through her own training program.
“Since she herself had to go through our training on how to train others, it made it feel like everyone was on the same boat and so we also never ran into any employee resentment problems,” he says.
Even though the star employee’s training was different—she was trained on how to train people—going that route “makes it clear to everyone that no one is above anybody else and that this is something that is going to help everybody out,” Ceballos says.
Michael Lastoria, CEO of &Pizza, which has 11 restaurants in the Washington, DC, area, recommends that if your star employee is training other staff, they use the word “we,” not “I.”
The word “we,” Lastoria says, “encourages camaraderie among the tribe and helps drive success by making it about the shop and not the individual.”
Reward employees.
If you have a fairly large and unmotivated staff, Brown agrees there may be a danger in highlighting someone as the best and making everyone resent their fellow coworker—but not if you do it in a way that rewards everyone for following your model employee. In other words, make the focus on rewarding good behavior and work habits, rather than on one employee being more skilled than the others.
“I always suggest bribes of some sort,” Brown says. That could mean an extra day off with pay, a gift card or a free lunch of somebody’s choice every Friday for a month, “or any number of possible pay-offs.”
And if you think your employees shouldn’t be rewarded for doing something they should be doing anyway, Brown argues, “bite the bullet and give them a bribe that does not cost more than the savings or additional profits gained from the cooperation.”
Keep your star employee happy.
You could find that your star employee resents everyone else, or you, if you’re constantly rewarding everyone else. Wagner at PostNet has “been here 18 years. She can work whatever hours she wants,” Stokes says. “If she needs time off, she gets it. She works remotely when she wants to. Now that she has kids in middle school, that helps greatly with her.”
Stokes also says that the raises are built on a bonus system, and she offers a paid vacation and other benefits.
“We’re a small business, but we try to give our employees a reason to stay a good long while,” she says.
Lastoria agrees with the notion that you should give back to the employees who give their all to your company. He says that particularly when it comes to their employees who demonstrate a stellar work ethic, he and his leadership team “are constantly listening to feedback and doing what we can to encourage their growth and development.”
And it seems to be working. “Our strongest performers, our best cultural fits, those people who we really felt had the most potential, have not left,” he says.
And if you do that, you may find that even if your star employees do eventually leave, you’ll get far more advance notice than the standard two weeks, Stokes says.
“When we hire people, we make them understand that we know some people won’t stay, that this is just part of the path of their life,” she says. “We let them know that because they’re such a valuable employee when they decide to go, the more notice they can give us so we can collectively find a replacement for them, the better.”

Want To Be Successful Entrepreneurs You Must Never Do These 7 Things

In a business person’s day, there are always more tasks than hours. The key to being successful is not to do more multitasking in an effort to cram more into each day. It’s not to work harder with longer hours to get everything done. What separates very successful people from the rest of the pack is not what they do, but actually what they never ever do. For example:
– Never Hold on to the Past
Successful people don’t let the future get shaped by what happened in the past. They don’t hold a grudge. They evaluate results of their success or failure, let go of it and move on within 24 hours of any event. Successful people realize that there is more opportunity in the future than the past.
– Never Make Big Decisions
They never bet the company all on one action. They prevent this by making small incremental choices. Successful people test every result and then make another small decision to get to where the business needs to go.
– Never Focus on Perfection
It costs too much to achieve and there is that constant nagging feeling of failure. They would rather be done than have the job be perfect so they can learn from the results. This doesn’t mean successful people ever do a bad job, but rather, they do 100% and then move on to the next opportunity.
– Never Do it All Themselves
Successful people know that small business is truly a team sport. They know how to leverage each opportunity using other people and outside resources to accomplish their goal. Successful people realize that this is the key to building a company that is not just about them.
– Never Say Yes to Every Customer Request
They know what their company is good at and carefully choose the problems they solve for their customers that will show the most value. As a result, they are able to honor existing commitments. In addition, successful people do not work with every interested customer and fire the ones that don’t match their culture.
– Never Multi-Task
Successful people know that multitasking only gets more things done poorly. They focus on the tactic at hand and then move on to the next one. They know how to block out common distractions like email and social media notifications. Successful people can intensely focus for short periods of time.
– Never Hang Out with “Negative Nellies”
Successful people don’t keep company with other folks that are constantly telling them why something can’t get done. They don’t feed the neurosis of complainers who always want to say that the sky is always failing. Instead, successful people work with a team that has a can-do attitude where anything is possible.

Things to Consider When Starting a White Label App Business

White label goods and services have been around for decades. In every industry you could imagine, businesses create products which are rebranded by their partners to sell as their own.
The technology industry, and the app sector in particular, is no exception. As consumers go mobile in their tens of millions, digital agencies and entrepreneurs are rushing to catch up, and cash in.
Digital agencies have to make decisions about their mobile offerings to their small business customers: do they want to create custom apps or create apps with a white labeled app builder? Often the cost differential is persuasive as white label app builders dramatically cut down development time and cost, but before making a decision there are a few questions you should ask yourself.

Things to Think About Before Opening a White Label App Business
Is it Your Strategic Focus?
Are you turning to white label app builder because it’s the market you want to serve, or do you think white labeling your app would enable you to diversity income?
App developers often turn to white label when their original strategy to build their own platform struggles, or they’re running out of money. The white label market is littered with apps that attempted to diversity income streams, but found the time, money and effort required to make it successful damaged their core business.
If your heart isn’t in it, if you haven’t oriented every part of your development to white labeling including sales and customer support, then the chances of success aren’t good. Everything needs to be oriented to your new business proposition, from the functionality of your app to marketing.
That’s a lot of work, and a time suck with no guarantee of success. If it is genuinely a great strategic opportunity, then go for it. But if you’re reacting to external pressures on your original strategy and you just want out, then maybe it’s not the way to go.

Do You Have Competitive Advantage?
The white label market is maturing quickly, and new entrants are flooding many market segments. Large white label app businesses with a ready-made platform, extensive templates and a wide reaching reseller market are waiting to take care of your while labeling needs. They have first mover advantage and the benefit of an established reputation.
If you are starting from scratch as a white label business, do your research in the various markets. Some of the most popular market segments are already maturing such as conference apps, online dating, directories, and loyalty apps.
If you already have an app you want to white label, or, if you’re still in the development stage and are testing various ideas for white label apps to launch, consider the following:
1. Who is your competition in your chosen market segment?
2. What is the value of the market?
3. How does your competitors’ functionality compare to yours?
4. How price sensitive is the market?

If your app is delivering superior functionality and is sufficiently differentiated from your competitors, if the market is undeveloped (or developing) and there is potential for growth, then you may have a business opportunity.

What is Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?
What is unique about your white label offering and is it something your potential customers and the end users will value?
If you are offering a ‘me-too’ product, and competing with competitors already in the market, it will be difficult to gain any traction. Markets are not kind to followers no matter what product they’re selling. There are established companies in the white label market that are already reaping the rewards of first mover advantage.
To have any success in a competitive market you have to be offering a genuinely disruptive app that delivers a leap in functionality, service, and/or design. Incremental improvements in functionality won’t cut it, especially if that functionality can be easily replicated and can’t be protected by a patent.
Entering a market segment with less competition will make it easier to differentiate your app and offer greater opportunity to build market share. If you already have an app and you are serving a market segment that is already competitive in the white label sector, such as conference apps, it will be difficult to build significant market share.

What Do Your Customers Need?
Your customers are resellers, often web developers or web designers, advertising or marketing agencies. These resellers, your partners, use your white label app and rebrand it for their customers, often businesses who serve consumers.
The white label app business is a business to business (B2B) market and, as such, your app must serve the needs of several participants:
– Your resellers’ needs – they need to decide it’s worth buying from you and be convinced their clients would buy your solution off them. It has to have a great user experience at the back end, so it’s easy for your reseller to create an app for their clients.
– The needs of your reseller’s client – they need to be prepared to pay for an app to launch under their company name. Does your app provide them with a business opportunity, will their customers (the end users) use it?
– The end user – your app has to appeal to them. Why should they use it? What does it offer them?

If your app has the functionality and user experience the participants need, your app has the potential to be successful.

Your Service Proposition
You have a great product, its serving a market segment that has lots of sales potential, and it serves the needs of all decision makers from reseller to the end-user. Congratulations, it’s a great start. But there’s more you need to consider.
In the white label app businesss, you can’t just upload your app to an app store and promote it. You need to offer services as well, as a minimum you need to provide training to your resellers and ongoing support.
It’s important you really consider the nuts and bolts of your reseller agreement. An innocuous clause offering unlimited support may seem like a no-brainer, but white label apps often find the after sales process is a huge drain on resources.
Consider what are you going to offer as standard, what rights are your resellers buying, what is a custom add on, and how does this compare with your competition? Seek out reseller agreements with other white label app providers (you may need to be resourceful to get your hands on them) and do your homework.
Remember, you may also find yourself competing with your own customers. If you are marketing your own branded app and using white label sales as an income stream, your customers/partners will be in the same market. Consider how you are going to handle that, can limitations in your reseller agreement help you avoid this situation? For example, if your market focus is in North America, could you limit your resellers to other territories such as the Far East?

The Sales Cycle
When a B2B buyer sources a product for their clients, they are putting their reputation on the line. They are badging your product as their own, and they are usually extremely risk averse when making a decision to back a white label app.
As a result the sale will probably have a long lead time, and the higher the cost of your app, the longer the lead time will be. The fact is, you will be doing a lot of work to achieve a sale with no guarantee of a return. Your potential buyer has no obligation to purchase your white label app even if they have made you jump through expensive hoops to demonstrate how great it is.
You will need to invest considerable resources into closing sales, and be prepared for the costs to build up before you even achieve a sale. Factor in the cost of developing a professional sales pitch that demonstrates the value of your app, developing sales materials, and bringing in personnel with the sales skills (if your team aren’t good at direct sales) capable of closing the deal.

Be Sure You Can Access Customer Feedback
The success of your white label app, like any app, rests on how attractive it is to the end user. In the white label market you are selling your app through an intermediary, and as a result there is a chance that you will not always get direct feedback on your product. You need to make sure that you choose a company that allows you to gather customer feedback.
The wrong company spearheading your white labeling efforts can wreak havoc on your white label business—particularly within the feedback realm. The continuous development and improvement of your app can become difficult if you are not privy how customers feel about it. The traditional business model when selling direct to the end users is to continually improve the app over time, after evaluating end user requests and feedback.
The loss of this direct relationship will affect your development process, and could affect your market valuation. If you are seeking to white label your app to diversify your income streams, rather than as a strategic direction, then the company you use should be a big consideration in your decision—make sure you have access to customer feedback.

Decide Whether White Label Apps are a Viable Business Opportunity
Deciding to enter the white label app market is a strategic decision that could fundamentally change your business. If you are building your own platform with your app, but want to diversify into white label apps to build an alternative income stream, carefully consider how this decision will affect your core business. Consider whether your app can earn sufficient market share in its niche and whether there is a genuine business opportunity.
If you are a new start up, research your white label app ideas thoroughly, some market segments will already be highly competitive and it will be difficult to build market share in these. Understand the marketplace and consider the needs of every participant in the sales decision when developing your app.
Remember the cost of selling into the white label market can involve significant upfront costs, and your customers will expect ongoing training and support.

Some Easy Ways to Help Streamline Business Meetings

Today’s leaders often recognize the power of smaller and briefer meetings. Shorter meetings are often easier to schedule and fit in to everyone’s calendars. When meetings are disciplined and streamlined, they may also seem less intimidating. People may be less likely to duck them. Shorter meetings often tend not to get bogged down in too much detail or sidetracked by tangents. More gets done.
For those reasons, Strategic Meetings Management Program (SMMP) is an important concept for you to know. In basic terms, SMMP means coming up with a clear plan for managing your business meetings to stay on-task and productive. Once you have a plan, you can communicate it to your team.
Create an SMMP meeting plan incorporating these seven ways to help streamline business meetings and keep them strategic, consistent and productive.
1. Communicate a clear objective in advance.
Require every meeting to have a clearly stated objective.
While the reason may be clear in the mind of the person organizing the meeting, to others it may not be nearly as clear. Instead of a cryptic description, meeting invitations might state the objective in terms of the result expected, such as, “The objective of this meeting is to redesign our company newsletter.”
2. Add an agenda to the calendar invitation.
Outline a brief agenda and include it in the emailed meeting invitation.
Train your team to review agendas in advance and show up prepared. They can think about the agenda topics, look up facts and figures in advance, and come in with suggestions. To access the agenda, people just pull up the meeting invitation—no hunting around for a separate document.
Here’s another tip: If you’d like people to refer to a backgrounder document, consider loading it onto the company’s shared cloud storage (such as Google Drive or One Drive). Then put a link to that document right in the calendar invitation. Everything participants need for the meeting can then be found in one place.
3. Cut the participant list to bare bones.
While it might seem efficient to include everyone in one giant meeting, the opposite is often true. Inviting people who aren’t essential may waste their time, and may make it harder on others who are essential. The more people, the longer a meeting tends to take.
People who are bored and typing emails in the background of a conference call, or responding to instant message pings, may be a distraction to everyone else.
If you need to share information resulting from the meeting with someone, consider calling or emailing the information later.
4. Stick to start and end times.
Meetings should have both start and end times. Start on time. End on time.
To do that, the organizer must often manage the discussion and put limits on each agenda item. For example, if it’s an hour long meeting with six agenda items, the organizer may need to bring discussion to a close on each agenda item after 10 minutes. If you haven’t finished everything for that agenda item in the time allotted, consider scheduling follow-up actions.
One technique that some companies use to keep meetings timely is to hold them standing up. Not ready to go that far? Then how about putting large clocks in your conference rooms? Or do what I do when holding Skype conferences: Use the built-in timer in Skype to stay on time.
5. Have a clear leader.
One of the quickest ways for meetings to get sidetracked is when too many people try to take control, or go off on tangents.
Even if more than one person is sharing information, it typically helps to have one leader—or facilitator—who’s in charge.
Being in charge doesn’t mean monopolizing the conversation. On the contrary, it means making sure everyone who has something to contribute has a say. Team members in your company should be made aware that the leader’s role is to keep the meeting moving. If communicated that way upfront, long-winded participants hopefully won’t take umbrage at being cut short. It’s nothing personal—just process
6. Take notes.
Have you ever been in a strategic planning meeting, and the moment everyone left, they promptly forgot about what was discussed?
Ideally, key decisions, brainstorming “aha moments,” and to-do’s should be captured.
Consider leveraging technology for taking notes. If you’re using a meeting room with a whiteboard or a flip chart, you might snap a picture of the notes with a camera phone. Later, those notes can be transcribed.
Or use a notes app, like Evernote. There are also drawing/handwriting tools that let you take handwritten notes and transform them into text. For instance, Microsoft One Note has a drawing function for drawing graphics and notes. And the Surface Pro 3 keyboard transforms handwritten words into typed text.
If you’re holding the meeting on a conference call, consider doing what we do in my company: take notes on a shared Google Doc or Office 365 document that everyone is logged into. It may be helpful, with this process, to assign a “scribe” at the start of the meeting to capture all key points.
7. Follow up.
After your meeting, participants will hopefully feel confident about what’s expected of them. To be sure you’re on the same page, a simple follow-up email may be effective. Or simply list to-do items and assign responsibilities in a shared cloud document, if that’s what you used to take notes. If a follow-up meeting is required, consider setting it before ending the first meeting, so it doesn’t fall through the cracks.
These seven meeting processes can become part of your company’s strategic meeting management plan. Get your team to understand them and buy in, and hopefully your meetings can become more productive.

10 Important Business Tips You Should not Overlook

Since there are so many different things that go into running successful businesses, it can be easy to overlook some things. But members of our small business community have learned the importance of those overlooked elements. Here are 10 sometimes-overlooked ways to keep your small business on the right track.
– Learn the Habits of Successful Female Entrepreneurs
Female entrepreneurs have a whole different set of obstacles to overcome than their male counterparts. So if you want to learn the habits of successful female entrepreneurs, it can be beneficial to hear from the experts. This ebook from Well Polished features advice from expert female entrepreneurs including Small Business Trends CEO Anita Campbell.
– Show Employees You’re Thankful for Them
Your employees can make a huge impact on the success of your business. But many business owners still tend to overlook all of the contributions their employees make. That’s why this CorpNet post by Rieva Lesonsky offers some ways you can show your employees how thankful you are for them.
– Find Success in Your Less Successful Content
Not all of your content marketing is going to be successful. But that doesn’t mean you have to just forget about the pieces that don’t perform well. In this Resonance Content Marketing post, Rachel Parker explains how you can benefit from that content. And BizSugar members chime in with their thoughts here.
– Adopt These Hyper-Efficient Marketing Automation Methods
When you’re considering new marketing methods for your business, you might not consider automation to be of the utmost importance. But for small businesses that have limited time and resources, marketing automation can be a huge help. This Right Mix Marketing post by Rohan Ayyar goes into more detail on the subject.
– Generate Creativity in Five Minutes or Less
Creativity is an essential component of many successful businesses. But it can be easy to take it for granted instead of actually working to generate more creativity. This post by Ivan Widjaya of Biz Epic includes some quick tips for generating more creativity.
– Surround Yourself with the Right People
Ideas are certainly important to growing businesses. But if you surround yourself with the right people, then those people can actually be more valuable than ideas, as Martin Zwilling of Startup Professionals Musings points out. The BizSugar community also comments on the post here.
– Use These Security Tools for WordPress Blogs
Security is something you definitely don’t want to overlook when it comes to your blog or website. In this post from Basic Blog Tips, Christopher Jan Benitez shares 15 different security tools you can use to keep your WordPress blogs secure.
– Build a Foundation of Happy Staff Members
Happy staff can be the foundation of any successful business. But employee satisfaction can sometimes be overlooked when considering how to improve service excellence. This post by Itai Elizur on the Smallbiztechnology.com blog details how important a happy staff can be to a business.
– Sell Your Digital Products Online With These Tools
When you think about online sales, your mind probably goes right to physical products. But your business can potentially also benefit from selling digital products online thanks to the tools named in this Social Media Today post by Lilach Bullock. You can also see commentary on the post over on BizSugar.
– Identify Critical Success Factors in Project Management
When it comes to project management, determining success factors is essential to managing effectiveness. This Nutcache post by Sebastien Boyer includes some critical success factors for project management, along with some tips for identifying them.

Tips for the First Time Business Owner

I write Entrepreneur.com ‘s Young Entrepreneur column because I believe there are far too few resources directly addressing the nonacademic trials and tribulations young entrepreneurs face along their journey. Whenever possible, I encourage up-and-comers and established entrepreneurs to mentor the next generation of dream-seekers; for it is this insight and insider education that will provide the foundation for the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. With that, here are 10 pieces of advice that I wish someone had given to me before I launched my first venture.

– Focus. Focus. Focus.
Many first-time entrepreneurs feel the need to jump at every “opportunity” they come across. Opportunities are often wolves in sheep’s clothing. Avoid getting side-tracked. Juggling multiple ventures will spread you thin and limit both your effectiveness and productivity. Do one thing perfectly, not 10 things poorly. If you feel the need to jump onto another project, that might mean something about your original concept.
– Know what you do. Do what you know.
Don’t start a business simply because it seems sexy or boasts large hypothetical profit margins and returns. Do what you love. Businesses built around your strengths and talents will have a greater chance of success. It’s not only important to create a profitable business, it’s also important that you’re happy managing and growing it day in and day out. If your heart isn’t in it, you will not be successful.
– Say it in 30 seconds or don’t say it at all.
From a chance encounter with an investor to a curious customer, always be ready to pitch your business. State your mission, service and goals in a clear and concise manner. Fit the pitch to the person. Less is always more.
– Know what you know, what you don’t know and who knows what you don’t.
No one knows everything, so don’t come off as a know-it-all. Surround yourself with advisors and mentors who will nurture you to become a better leader and businessman. Find successful, knowledgeable individuals with whom you share common interests and mutual business goals that see value in working with you for the long-term.
– Act like a startup.
Forget about fancy offices, fast cars and fat expense accounts. Your wallet is your company’s life-blood. Practice and perfect the art of being frugal. Watch every dollar and triple-check every expense. Maintain a low overhead and manage your cash flow effectively.
– Learn under fire.
No business book or business plan can predict the future or fully prepare you to become a successful entrepreneur. There is no such thing as the perfect plan. There is no perfect road or one less traveled. Never jump right into a new business without any thought or planning, but don’t spend months or years waiting to execute. You will become a well-rounded entrepreneur when tested under fire. The most important thing you can do is learn from your mistakes–and never make the same mistake twice.
– No one will give you money.
There, I said it. No one will invest in you. If you need large sums of capital to launch your venture, go back to the drawing board. Find a starting point instead of an end point. Scale down pricey plans and grandiose expenditures. Simplify the idea until it’s manageable as an early stage venture. Find ways to prove your business model on a shoestring budget. Demonstrate your worth before seeking investment. If your concept is successful, your chances of raising capital from investors will dramatically improve.
– Be healthy.
No, I’m not your mother. However, I promise that you will be much more productive when you take better care of yourself. Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle, not a 9-to-5 profession. Working to the point of exhaustion will burn you out and make you less productive. Don’t make excuses. Eat right, exercise and find time for yourself.
– Don’t fall victim to your own B.S.
Don’t talk the talk unless you can walk the walk. Impress with action not conversation. Endorse your business enthusiastically, yet tastefully. Avoid exaggerating truths and touting far reaching goals as certainties. In short, put up or shut up.
– Know when to call it quits.
Contrary to popular belief, a smart captain does not go down with the ship. Don’t go on a fool’s errand for the sake of ego. Know when it’s time to walk away. If your idea doesn’t pan out, reflect on what went wrong and the mistakes that were made. Assess what you would have done differently. Determine how you will utilize these hard-learned lessons to better yourself and your future entrepreneurial endeavors. Failure is inevitable, but a true entrepreneur will prevail over adversity.