Ways Active Listening Can Improve Your Leadership

November 14th, 2018 by The Franchise Development Team

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While it may seem like common sense to point out that listening skills are important in the workplace, many leaders do not make enough of an effort to use their active listening skills. According to some studies, the average manager only listens attentively for 35-40% of the time and even then only remembers half of what was said. This has the effect of creating serious disconnects in the workplace that can negatively impact employee engagement and leave leaders struggling to utilize influencing strategies effectively.

Communication in the Workplace

Communication is not a one-way transmission of information, but rather a two-way street that is affected by individual perceptions, personal styles, and culture. It can take place over a variety of channels (e.g., face-to-face, telephone, video, and email), some of which may be more appropriate for specific situations than others. Knowing which channel to use and how to tailor the message for the audience is an important starting point for any communication process. Many communication strategies go awry when one side fails to take into consideration that there are different perceptions of a situation or how style and culture can impact how messages are sent and received.

Listening is a vital aspect of any communication process. Since conversations involve a two-way exchange of messages and responses, failure to listen on either side can render even the most carefully crafted message completely ineffective. Active listening incorporates a blend of specific skills that help to demonstrate attentiveness and avoid misunderstandings.

The four primary active listening skills are:

  1. Paraphrasing: A summary of what someone has said in the listener’s own words, paraphrasing focuses on the content of the message and is useful when verifying or clarifying meaning. It shows that the listener understands what’s being said, even if they don’t necessarily agree with it. Paraphrasing forces the listener to consider what was said and understand the other person’s point of view rather than simply preparing a rebuttal.
  2. Empathizing: Although similar to paraphrasing, empathizing is more focused on demonstrating an understanding of how the other person feels about something than what they think about it. Empathizing is valuable when someone expresses concerns or is in an emotional state. Spotting nonverbal cues and identifying when those cues are inconsistent with the verbal message is a key aspect of this skill. Patience and lack of judgement are essential because empathizing is less about offering solutions than giving people the opportunity to be heard.
  3. Questioning: While paraphrasing and empathizing are effective skills for letting someone know they’ve been heard and understood, questioning focuses on providing more context and information for the listener. By asking open-ended questions to draw out specific details, the listener can engage the other person in a two-way conversation. Questioning also helps to guide the conversation in a collaborative fashion that allows the speaker to contribute to working toward a solution.
  4. Balanced Response: Once key issues have been identified, effective leaders can use a balanced response to provide constructive feedback about a proposal or performance without being confrontational or diminishing anyone’s self-esteem. This can be especially effective when leaders need to overcome concerns or modify potential ideas. A balanced response emphasizes the strengths of an idea or proposal and highlights points of agreement without letting its weaknesses or concerns undermine problem solving.

Benefits of Active Listening

Active listening skills provide an excellent foundation for the effective use of most other leadership skills. As an information gathering strategy, it helps leaders to better understand their teams and creates opportunities to involve team members in developing solutions collaboratively. Although active listening may seem like a very “basic” skill, it has a very high impact on leader effectiveness. With more and more organizations making use of virtual teams, learning to communicate effectively with people who are not co-located is especially critical.

Practicing active listening is essential for leaders who want to build trust and inspire their teams. When people feel like their feelings and concerns are understood and that they are able to participate in solving problems through two-way conversations, they are more likely to be engaged and committed to their work. Since low levels of engagement generally lead to diminished productivity and employee retention, learning to listen effectively should be a vital competency for any leadership position.

Active listening is also a crucial component of emotional intelligence, so working on these skills can help improve a trait that is strongly linked to job performance. Emotional intelligence emphasizes using observation, reflection, and proactive communication to help people understand their own emotions and those of others.

Trust is the bedrock of any effective workplace. Team members need to know that they can count on others to complete their tasks and provide assistance when needed to help the team accomplish its goals. While there are a variety of methods for building trust, few of them will get very far without effective communication. Active listening can help leaders connect with team members and demonstrate that they understand their value, which makes it easier for people to trust that they’ll be treated fairly and valued for who they are, not just for what they do.

This article originally appeared in 21st Century Leadership Insights.

 

This article was written by Rick Lepsinger from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

How to Add Freedom and Flexibility to Your Weekends

November 14th, 2018 by The Franchise Development Team

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When you become an entrepreneur, TGIF may not hold the same meaning it once had when you had a 9-5. Many business owners find themselves working weekends in order to keep up or get ahead.

Running a business can be rewarding but also stressful and time-consuming especially if you have a lot of responsibilities on your plate. I’ll admit, I used to use weekends to keep my business afloat by catching up on assignments and working on side projects that were on my long to-do list.

Working every day can lead to serious burnout after a while. Plus, if you are your own boss you should be able to enjoy the freedom or setting your own scheduling and taking time off to relax and refuel.

Here are a few things you can do to manage your time better manage your time and workload so you can add more freedom and flexibility to your weekends.

Wake Up 1 Hour Earlier During the Week

It’s no secret that waking up earlier can do wonders for your productivity. Simply said, it’s a sure way to have more time in the day to get stuff done.

You can kick off your morning routine earlier and be ready to crank out work by the time you would normally just be waking up. If you want to work fewer hours over the weekend, this is one of the best solutions to try although it may not be easiest at first.

If you get up one hour early Monday – Friday, you’ll be adding 5 hours back into your work week. This will likely make you less stressed and overwhelmed by the time Friday afternoon rolls around.

Adjust Your Daily Schedule

Your to-do list isn’t a schedule. It’s simply a list of stuff you have to get done. You create a schedule when you organize those tasks effectively. Smart business owners create clear and realistic schedules to follow each day. If you’re looking to add more freedom and flexibility to your weekends, you’ll likely need to adjust your schedule to accommodate that. This often means becoming more efficient so more gets accomplished during the week.

Determine how much time you have to work on your business during the week and what amount of limited hours you’d like to put in on weekends if any. Then, consider block scheduling tasks or knocking out the most mentally challenging tasks on your list during the work week.

If you only have to do something small like social media posts or sending follow-ups for an hour on Saturday morning, it probably won’t really ruin your entire weekend and you’ll still have the freedom to take a step back from your business.

Start Being Unavailable For Business Tasks During the Weekend

Have better control over your calendar and set expectations with customers and clients that your availability will be limited during weekends. This way, no one is expecting you to respond to their email they sent on Friday or Sunday afternoon.

I always set my calendar as unavailable during weekends and specific days. You would think most people wouldn’t be doing business on those weekends anyway but you’d be surprised. I try not to agree to specific deadlines for tasks that fall on weekend days either because it’s better that I don’t have anything business-related scheduled and can just work if and when I please.

One of the most common reasons why business owners end up working and adhering to strict schedules on weekends is because they fail to determine a stop time for their work. It’s great to love what you do but working and sticking to a schedule 24/7 won’t help you out as much as you think in the long run.

It’s important to dedicate time to unplug and scale back especially if you have an online business as it’s often so easy to just log on and start working anywhere and at any time.

Theme Your Weekends

You’re likely reading this because you want to have more freedom and flexibility to do what you want to do on weekends instead of just tending to your business. Creating a loose theme around what you truly want to do during weekends can help seal the deal.

Just like you set goals for your business and create themes, theme your weekend based on what you truly want to spend your time doing whether that’s spending time with family, catching up with friends, taking day trips etc. It’s simple to do but it really works.

Sometimes, any free time we have can get spent doing unproductive work that doesn’t add any value to our lives. Just like you want to schedule important meetings and deadlines, schedule family days or time to read or plan. Establishing a loose theme will provide direction but also leave you with the freedom and flexibility to divvy up your time.

Weekends can fly by quickly and if you don’t manage your time and priorities well during the week, you’ll pay for it during the time when you truly want to relax and unplug.

The best thing an entrepreneur can do is put themselves on a schedule and set boundaries. Having a schedule doesn’t mean being glued to work 24/7. You should be sure to schedule in downtime and theme your weekends so you don’t let the opportunity to create memorable moments outside of work pass you by.

How do you create more freedom and flexibility during weekends?

This article originally appeared in Calendar.

 

This article was written by Choncé Maddox from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

4 Ways Managers Can Keep Their Top Performers From Quitting

November 7th, 2018 by The Franchise Development Team

If you’re reading this article, congratulations! You must have an awesome team. Managing them must be easy, right?

In fact, contrary to popular belief, managing high-performers doesn’t mean you don’t have to do anything. While you could just let them fly solo for a long time, even the best employees will need support from their managers to continue thriving at work. While high performers do show a stronger tendency than other employees to direct their own learning, a Harvard Business Review article says they expect their managers to help them grow, too.

And the help you provide must be differentiated from how you might support a lower performer because their challenges, needs, and aspirations are also different.

Here are a few quick tips that should stop them from quitting:

 

1. Show Them They’re Valued (in the Way They Prefer)

Some people like getting feedback privately, others publicly. Some prefer it via email, others in-person. And some care little about words and more about actions of thanks: bonuses, bigger projects, or leadership opportunities.

In a study on what high-performing employees value at work, compensation, bonuses, and recognition from higher-ups all fall in the top 10.

If your employee’s doing great work, make sure they know their work is valued and appreciated. And if you don’t know how they like to receive positive feedback, ask.

 

2. Let Them Lean Into What They’re Good At

Too often, we insist employees check every single rung on the skills ladder. We wrongly believe that the only way for them to advance in their career is to be good at everything all the time.

But the truth is, just as you rarely find a candidate that matches 100% of your hiring criteria, it’s rare to find an employee that truly excels in every facet of the job. And yet we focus on their deficiencies—the checkboxes left unchecked—rather than sharpening their strongest assets.

So, give your highest performers a chance to continue to excel at their strengths, and the tools they need to become an expert in their field. If they find themselves getting bored, then you can work with them to find other skills they’d like to improve upon.

 

3. Encourage Them to Be Teachers

When you have amazing employees, one of the best things you can do to keep them engaged is encourage them to teach others. Teaching helps them hone their skills even further, and validates their expertise.

There are many ways to “teach,” whether it’s in the form of an employee mentorship program, a presentation to the team, or even authoring a publication. Encourage them to share their knowledge and flex their expertise, and leave the format to them to decide.

 

4. Actively Solicit Feedback

No manager is perfect. Regularly ask for feedback on what you can do better to support their career, and be prepared to take action as a result. As their manager, you may be able to unblock them, elevate them, and support them in ways no other person in the company can.

As the saying goes, employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers. So do everything in your power to make sure they are supported, and ask for feedback to ensure you are on the right track in your efforts.

Some questions include:

  • What can I do to make working with me easier?
  • What can I do to better support you?
  • What’s one thing I should start, stop, or continue doing for you?

If you have a high performer on your team, get ready to do the hard work of keeping them engaged. Don’t let them be the one in five who report being likely to leave their company in the next six months. Sure, it’ll take more effort on your end—but think how much effort it’ll take to replace them.

 

This article was written by Ximena Vengoechea from The Daily Muse and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

20 Ways to Effectively Promote Referral Programs

November 1st, 2018 by The Franchise Development Team

Referral programs are a great way to organically spread the word about products and services, but you have to let happy customers know that they can benefit from your program.

Whether you show off the program on your website’s homepage, send out an email to tell your customers, or find an influencer to spread the word, you have to promote your referral program in order to see success.

“It’s important to promote your referral program,” says Rob Edell, founder of Servy, an app that helps restaurants increase customer satisfaction. “Too many companies hide the refer feature in a sub-menu when referrals are one of the most important growth drivers.”

Don’t be left wondering how to get people to use your referral link. You may think that the referral program incentive is the most important part of a referral program. That’s only partially right. Think about it… If happy customers don’t know about your referral program, then how can they take advantage of it? Here are some ways to effectively promote a new or existing referral program

1. Targeted Emails
2. Social Sharing
3. Strategic Placement
4. Call Outs
5. Referral Page
6. Add Reminders
7. Email Signatures
8. Social Bios
9. Create CTAs
10. Find Influencers
11. Paid Campaigns
12. Confirmation Pages
13. Continual Promotion
14. Automate Promotion
15. Other Campaigns
16. Early Release
17. Use NPS
18. Past Customers
19. Try SMS
20. Use Video

1. Use targeted email marketing

Email is one of the best ways to get in touch with your customers. When you introduce a new referral program or want to get fresh eyes on an existing one, send a well-designed email to your customer base that focuses on the deal.

promote referral program by email

If you want to be especially successful with this method, target those who’ve actually bought your products and services, as opposed to those who simply email subscribers. For example, if you buy a Kindle Paperwhite from Amazon, the eCommerce giant will soon encourage you to buy a case for your new device. This highly-targeted tactic can do wonders when you’re selling products or promoting a referral program.

2. Build social sharing into the referral program (aka create social proof)

It’s a lot of work to promote a referral program, so ideally you want to create a program that encourages customers to promote the program for you. You want to build social sharing into the referral program. This is another way to build up your social proof.

Stitch Fix, a clothing subscription service, does a great job of this in their customer portal. They encourage customers to share a referral link on whatever social media site works best for them.

use social sharing to promote referral program

The result is that Stitch Fix customers share their referral link on social media, acting as promoters for the program. Note: you can also use your social media bios! Add a link to your program in your bio – it’s quite effective (see #8 below).

3. Strategically place it on your homepage

Many brands have referral programs in place, but they’re so hidden on the website that customers don’t know about it. In order to effectively promote a referral program, you should strategically place it on your homepage. That way, when a customer visits your website, they’ll see the program front and center.

For example, Premier Estates Wine, a U.K.-based wine retailer, has a rotating carousel on its homepage, and one of the images promotes the referral program.

Make Your Referral Program Visable

When customers come to the site, they see the referral program immediately, ensuring that it’s top of mind. If you don’t want it permanently on your homepage, add it as a homepage pop-up.

4. Make call outs for the referral program on product or sign up pages

When someone is checking out a particular product, they’re more interested in that product than anything else on your site. Most likely, they care more about the product itself than your brand. Because of this, you should make call outs for your referral program on product and sign up pages.

According to Friend Buy, product page sharing usually represents about 51% of referral revenue for companies who have social sharing buttons on those pages. Even if you don’t promote your referral program directly on your product page, you must have social sharing buttons to make it easy for customers to share particular products with their friends.

5. Create a special and unique referral program page

If you have a robust referral program, it’s worth creating a special and unique referral program page. This page not only serves to promote the program but can also help explain the terms and additions to your current customers, as well as those they refer. Use this opportunity to explain the benefit of joining the program too as they will be able to see their potential earnings.

HubSpot’s referral program page is a great example. The page explains the referral program and encourages customers to share their happiness on social media sites.

Referral Program Page

If customers don’t want to share HubSpot’s products on their own social media pages, HubSpot steps in and offers to “do the talking,” providing a referral form for customers to fill out.

6. Add a reminder into user accounts

Your current customers may spend a lot of time in their user account on your site, making it a perfect place to promote your referral program. Every time they log in, they’ll see they have the option to recommend your products and services. If they are already a referral program member, that’s even better. You can simply remind the customer of their referral codes and ask them to do a referral link share.

I use FreshBooks as my small business accounting solution, and when I log in, I’m presented with a tab that says “Recommend FreshBooks.” When I click the tab, I’m given information about the referral program, as well as some social sharing options to help me share it.

Referral Program Reminder

7. Promote the program in email signatures

Most brands have email signatures attached to each email a team member sends, so why not include a link to your referral program in your email signature? This tactic works especially well for those that interact with customers over email, such as support staff. It’s not too in your face, but customers will know exactly how to find the program when they are ready to sign up.

8. Remind in your social media bios

If you’re trying to promote a referral program, you want to get it in as many places as possible. One of the easiest best practices for promoting your referral program is to add information about your campaign into your social media bios. Honestly, if it’s not included in your social media bio, you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities.

For example, if we added information about Referral Rock’s referral program onto our Twitter bio, it would be visible every time someone visited our Twitter account, reminding them that they can refer Referral Rock at any time.

Promote referral program with social media bio

9. Create Call-to-Actions on your blog posts

If you have an active blog and content marketing strategy, then it’s a good idea to add calls-to-actions (CTAs) for your referral program into your blog posts.

For example, Last Pass, a password database software, uses this CTA on some of their customer-oriented blog posts. Each time customers read a blog post, they’re reminded to refer their friends.

Use CTAs to promote a referral program

10. Find an influencer or happy customer to spread the word

The best people to promote your referral program are those who already love what you do. They’re not just happy customers– they’re ambassadors. Finding out how to promote a referral link on Facebook is key. Newsflash, influencers will spread the word, for you.

ClassPass, a nationwide fitness service, offers an Ambassador program, which is basically an advanced referral program. It’s the ClassPass Ambassadors‘ job to promote ClassPass, as well as the referral program they’re a part of.

Use an influencer to promote

Referral program promotion done by an influencer

11. Run a paid social media campaign to target loyal customers

Paid social media, such as Facebook Ads or Promoted Tweets, are a great way to promote content, products, and even referral campaigns. The best part of these networks is that they’re highly targeted, so you can promote the program exclusively to existing customers by uploading a list of email addresses.

referral promoted tweet

Surprisingly, advertising on social media is inexpensive. You can test out a promotion for as little as $100 to see if you get results. Even small businesses can benefit from these paid promotions on social media.

12. Add it to your thank you or confirmation page

After someone makes a purchase, they’re usually super excited about what they’ve bought. This makes thank you or confirmation pages the perfect place to pitch your referral program. After someone buys a product or service, encourage them to let their friends know.

13. Continue to promote referral programs well after the launch

When you launch a new referral program, you’ll dedicate a ton of time and energy into making sure your customers know about it. You might come up with an email marketing campaign to promote the program immediately, for example.

However, if you want your referral program to be successful, you need to promote it well after the program launches. Whether this means sending out periodic emails, finding new places to promote the program on your web page, or coming up with an automated system, you need to promote your referral program long after you launch.

14. Automate promotion of the referral program

Automation is one of the best ways to guarantee that your referral program gets in front of customers who are most likely to share with their friends. Rather than manually emailing everyone in your system, set up an automated referral program.

For example, after someone buys signs up for your service, they might get an automated email thirty days later that encourages them to share with their friends.

By having an automated program you are boosting your referral campaign in a variety of ways. Automation can automatically promote your program, sync with your sales process, and even send rewards and incentives based off of specific triggers. Meaning you don’t have to worry about doing all of those processes yourself.

15. Promote the referral campaign in other marketing campaigns

If you launch a marketing campaign, such as a funny video, use the opportunity to remind existing customers that you have a referral program. Simply adding the words “Refer a Friend for $20 Off” can make a huge difference in encouraging customers to promote your products and services.

16. Early Release

Perhaps you can create a hype for your program before it’s even released to the public. Take a few of your top advocates and let them test drive the referral program. You can start getting the feel for how the program will work, and you can create a smooth running program all thanks to your top advocates. Plus, these early release people will feel like they are on an exclusive VIP list, and they will truly feel like they are part of the team.

17. NPS

Why not ask your customers how willing they’d be to refer a friend? Using a Net Promotor Score (NPS) which measures how willing a customer is to recommend your product or service could be a great way for you to not only promote your referral campaign but to also get people participating. Perhaps you send the survey before you officially invite your customers to join. You can sift through and invite the ones who mentioned that they are highly willing. You can also ask and score customers on other aspects of the referral program like incentives. This way you can build a program that truly fits your business and customers.

use NPS to see who will use your referral campaign

18. Talk to past customers

It’s imperative to keep open communication with your past customers. Whether you sell a one-time type of service or if you’re an eCommerce store who has a lot of repeat shoppers. Because whether you want to admit it or not, past customers are the ones who will refer you new business. Simply talking to customers and keeping them in the loop can not only turn a shopper into a loyal advocate, but it can make it incredibly easy when it comes to asking for referrals.

Past customers are the best because they know you, and your product. So fill them in with the details of your referral program too. Becuase even if they decide not join your referral campaign, they will know it exists. Plus, it helps you stay top of their mind. And, at the very least, this can help keep those past customers coming back.

19. Try out SMS

If your customers opt-in to receive text message alerts form you, use that to promote your referral program. People always have their phones on hand, so it makes sense to use that to your advantage. Many businesses use SMS to connect with customers because it works.

With that being said, there are a few things you need to consider.

  1. Even if you have a customers phone number, it doesn’t mean they have consented to receive text messages from you. You need to get their permission, no if, and’s, or buts.
  2. Don’t send too frequently. Daily texts from brands can be really annoying… and people can end up blocking you. So find a frequency that works, without being too pushy. If you’re using SMS for other marketing strategies, you may have to work out a schedule to promote your referral program at a different time… But remember too many texts can have the opposite effect – so don’t send marketing campaigns back to back.
  3. Be sure to send your disclaimer! You know the whole “message & data rates may apply” thing? Well, be sure to show this message first before you begin your SMS campaign.
  4. Offer a way out. Obvious you don’t want people to unsubscribe, but if you keep sending them the same message to sign up for your referral program… even after they have already signed up and started referring, you again make yourself seem annoying. At least change the messaging from ‘sign up’ to ‘don’t forget’, that way it looks like you are keeping track and in the know about what people are doing in your program. You can even text them a ‘thank you’ after certain events, to further fuel referring to occur.

20. Use your videos

It’s no secret that video content can catch the eye, and we can all agree it helps get the point or message across. This is exactly why you should consider utilizing all of your resources, including video content. The thing is, we live in a content-filled world, and video content is striving. Which is exactly why most businesses nowadays choose to utilize video in some shape or form. Whether it be an explainer video, educational video, or simply a product promotion video.

IBM runs an employee referral program and has a dedicated video explained how to refer. Notice the ending is a simple link to the referral program. You can use this last bit in any of your existing videos, as an easy way to promote your program.

But how do promote referral programs in a video? Well, the easiest way would be to use your existing videos. For example, let’s say you already have a product explainer video on your homepage. Go ahead and add a line about your referral program at the end. Whether you incorporate it into the scenes or simply add an ending slide with a little bit of the program information. Either way, you have just successfully promoted your program to whoever watches that video.

Additionally, you can make yourself a fresh video. One that is specific to your program. Then you can add that video to all your existing marketing campaigns, share on your social sites, and even embed it at the end of your emails or newsletters. This video can really be shared anywhere that we have mentioned you promote your referral program!

The Bottom Line… You Need To Promote Referral Programs

Referral programs can bring huge wins for businesses large and small, but you must make sure your customers know they can benefit by telling their friends about your brand. Try out these tactics, and let us know which ones work best for your brand.

This article originally appeared in Referral Rock Software.

 

This article was written by Megan Mosley from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

popes

 

Establishing a legacy is important. Three generations of Goddard School franchisees, Don O’Brian, his daughter, Anne Pope, and her oldest son, Taylor Pope, know this all too well. This is why they have opened two Goddard Schools and are in the process of opening a third. Here are seven reasons why they believe The Goddard School is a terrific multigenerational business.

 

  1. It’s a high-quality preschool with a stellar reputation. When her youngest son was born, Anne had trouble finding childcare in her area that met her expectations. Upon visiting a Goddard School for the first time, though, it was a completely different story. “The first time I walked into a School, I was extremely impressed,” she said. “Very secure, very clean. Big, bright classrooms. The children were all engaged and happy. Beautiful playgrounds.” This experience led Anne to open a School of her own.
  2. It’s a business for families, by families. A big reason that Anne opened The Goddard School of Chesapeake, VA with Don is because it allowed her to spend time with her family and still earn a comfortable living. “The business is great if you want to raise a family,” she said. “I’ve been able to balance work and life very, very easily.”
  3. It gives your children an attractive career option. Anne and Don, Goddard franchisees since 2005, have had such a good experience that they are in the process of opening The Goddard School of Washington, D.C. with Taylor, who previously worked in property management after graduating from Marymount University with a bachelor’s degree in business. “You want the best for your kids, so a School seemed best for Taylor,” Anne said. She added that she wanted him to have the same opportunities and advantages she had.
  4. It’s a business model that works. When you invest in a Goddard School, you invest in a proven system. “When potential franchisees call us about our experience, we tell them that, at the end of the day, Goddard’s been doing this a very long time, and they’ve developed a recipe for success,” said Don. “The best advice we can give is follow the recipe and trust it.”
  5. It’s a sustainable business model. The Goddard School model has been implemented successfully hundreds of times over the course of 30 years. Goddard plans to open its 500th School later this year. Now that Taylor is becoming a franchisee, he sees no reason not to open more Schools as his career grows with the system. “I’d like to open more Schools,” he said. “Arlington [Virginia] is booming, it needs more childcare. The market is growing.”
  6. It has the feel of a family business but is backed by the resources of the leader in early childhood education. With 30 years of experience in franchising, education and business, The Goddard School is a recognized, successful brand with a system in place to support your various business needs, from marketing to IT and more. In other words, with Goddard, you go into business for yourself, not by yourself. “Our experience with Goddard has been outstanding,” Don said. “The support is phenomenal and immediate, and it’s been an excellent experience.”
  7. It’s supported by a handpicked team of leading experts who are on the cutting edge of the latest trends and research in early childhood education and development. The Goddard School’s Educational Advisory Board (EAB), comprised of acknowledged experts in various fields of early childhood education, contributes to the development of Goddard’s play-based learning program. “The EAB is a huge asset in keeping Goddard on the cutting edge,” said Don. “They make a presentation at each [franchisee] convention. Franchisees can talk to them, and it’s absolutely fascinating. It’s been such a revelation. The EAB constantly enhances programs and information available to parents. It’s extremely useful.”

13 Finance Terms You Should Know as a Business Owner

August 15th, 2018 by The Franchise Development Team

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Entrepreneurs bring all sorts of skill-sets to their venture, such as the ability to sell, or to organize activity, or to raise funding. Some might have a business background, but others might need to learn the ways of business while on the job. Here are 14 terms you and every entrepreneur should know, because they involve central concepts that affect your business.

Accounts receivable:

Money owed to your business by clients. Typically, you invoice a client and receive payment some time later. An account is receivable until it is paid.

Assets:

Economic resources your business owns. Current assets are items like cash, receivables and inventory. Long-term assets include equipment, buildings, vehicles, furniture and patents. You utilize assets to generate income.

Capital:

These are the total resources available to your business, and is equal to your equity and debt. Working capital is equal to current assets minus current liabilities, and represents the resources available to run day-to-day operations.

Cash flow:

The movement of money into, through and out of your business. Inflows bring in money and include collections of sales revenues, tax refunds, and interest earned. Outflows are expenditures of cash and include payment of expenses and acquisition of assets.

Depreciation:

The decrease in the value of long-term assets due to the passage of time. Depreciation is a tax-deductible expense that spans a set number of years.

Equity:

Your ownership interest in your company. It is equal to your assets minus your liabilities. Equity is evidences by stock shares distributed to owners based on their percentage of ownership.

Expenses:

The costs of running your business, including rent, salaries, legal costs, advertising, taxes paid, and utilities. A good business tries to minimize expenses while not skimping on essentials.

Financial statements:

Highly structured reports that indicate your business’ financial condition. They include the balance sheet (a snapshot of assets, liabilities and equity), income statement (revenues and expenses for a given period), and cash flow statement (inflows and outflows for a given period).

Liabilities:

Debt owed by your business. Current liabilities are due within one year and include obligations to pay credit-card balances, invoices from suppliers, taxes due, and wages earned but not yet paid. Long-term liabilities include mortgages and loans that mature in more than one year.

Losses:

Negative net income, created when your costs exceed your revenues. If you have too many losses, the chances are that your business will fail unless you have other sources of funds.

Profits:

Also called net income or the bottom line, these are revenues minus costs for a given period. Profits can be drawn off by owners or accumulated in an account called retained earnings. You can use profits to expand your company.

Revenues:

Also called gross income and sales, this is the money you earn from operations. You direct your marketing and sales activities to generate revenues.

Valuation:

A number representing how much your business is worth. Valuation is important when you are seeking funding from investors.

You don’t need to be a financial expert to have a successful business, but knowing basic financial terms will help you communicate with other stakeholders. For those wanting to broaden their knowledge, the Internet is loaded with learning resources, and many colleges offer continuing education courses that might be useful.

This article originally appeared in IOU Financial.

 

This article was written by Robert Gloer from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Great Business Leaders All Share These 7 Qualities

August 9th, 2018 by The Franchise Development Team

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Leadership can be defined in many ways. Regardless how you define it, a true leader will be the difference maker between success and failure of a business. In this post, we’ll take a look at seven qualities all great business leaders have in common. That way, you’ll know what separates the good leaders from the bad ones.

They take initiative

Great business leaders are self starters. They don’t wait around for others to get the job done. Especially if the task means creating value for themselves or the organization they belong to.

Just because you hold a high ranking position doesn’t mean you’re above trivial tasks. For example, the co-founders of Lyft uphold a tradition where they drive passengers as if they were one of the thousands of Lyft drivers supporting the business they built. They do this because they want to constantly improve the experience for both riders and drivers.

Could they have asked members of their internal team to drive and gather feedback? Of course they could have, but instead they took the initiative to take care of it themselves. This shows great leadership at the highest level of business.

They have vision

In business there will be tough days. There will be months where the company is barely getting by. During these tough times your team needs to dig deep and truly understand the bigger picture. As a leader it’s up to you to help them see that vision.

The vision needs to be big enough so you can inspire others, but also broad so your team can feel personally included. This way everyone in your organization knows the importance of their own role and the effect it has on bringing that grand vision to a reality.

They are resilient

Building a company is probably the least straightforward path you can pursue in life. Ask any successful entrepreneur about their journey. The majority of them will tell you about the countless times they’ve failed before they found that one success. The reason they finally made it? Resilience.

The workplace is full of challenges and unexpected changes. The individuals who have resilience have the ability to take good risks and are welcome to change.

They have a high emotional intelligence (EQ)

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. If you’re able to understand, manage, and navigate not only your own emotions but those of others, you have the makings of a great leader.

Let’s take sports for example. Think about the coaches and managers of world-class professional sports teams. With a team full of star-studded athletes how much coaching of the game do you think they need? Aside from basic strategy and tactics it really comes down to managing and navigating your teams’ emotions. More specifically their egos. If you took a group of the best coaches and managers of all time, I can almost guarantee they all have a high emotional intelligence.

As a leader in business it’s extremely important to develop and improve your emotional intelligence. You need to make an effort to understand reasons behind an employee’s behavior. Let’s say their productivity has been slowing down. Are they losing interest in the job? Do they feel like they aren’t being challenged? Are they angry at the company or another member of the team? The more you can understand them on an emotional level the easier it’ll be to engage with them and resolve the issue.

They are confident in their decision-making

If you don’t like being the decision maker then you don’t belong in a leadership role. That may sound harsh but it’s the truth. Leaders make countless decisions throughout the day. Some hold little weight, and others may decide the fate of their entire company.

The ability to make a decision and stand behind it, is a quality that is shared amongst all great business leaders. And by stand behind it, I mean take responsibility for the decision they made regardless of the outcome.

They are truly enthusiastic about their business

True and authentic enthusiasm for a business, it’s products, and overall mission is not something that can be easily faked. Especially for the amount of time it typically takes for a business to be built. Your employees will be able to instantly recognize whether or not you’re truly passionate and enthusiastic about what you’re trying to build.

Let’s take our real-life Tony Stark for example. Who might that be? You guessed it – Elon Musk. Think about his track record. Disrupting the payments landscape with PayPal. Reducing our dependencies on fossil fuels through clean energy and transportation with Solar City and Tesla . Then he decided to go shoot rockets into space with SpaceX.

The greatest trait about Musk is that he’s truly enthusiastic about what he’s building. He’s so sincere, that he’s even willing to put the vast majority of his own money behind his companies. With all that said, you can only imagine the effect that has on those who work with him.

They have great communication skills

As a leader you need to be able to motivate, discipline, and instruct the people you are in charge of. If you lack communication skills you won’t be able to accomplish any of those things.

Communication has many pieces to it. For example, did you know that listening is an integral part of communication? How can you effectively respond to others if you don’t take the time to listen? As a leader you need to listen to the members of your organization at every level. You need to be able to communicate whether it’s a one-on-one conversation or a company-wide keynote to your 10,000 employees. If you can’t develop these skills, you’ll have difficulties inspiring others to follow.

Great leadership qualities aren’t developed overnight. In fact, many of the great business leaders still make mistakes all the time. That said they’re still humble, still learning, and continuing to build their empire.

This article originally appeared in Calendar.

 

This article was written by Angela Ruth from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

4 Ways to Get Some Midday Motivation

July 25th, 2018 by The Franchise Development Team

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Midday can be rough for people. Chances are you’ve been working for a few hours, you just ate some food and all you want is a nap. While some people can nap, I’m not one of them. I either sleep for seven hours or I don’t sleep. Period. Additionally, most people don’t have the luxury of taking a midday nap. The question then becomes, how to we get some midday motivation so we can get over the hump?

Meditate

Meditation is the next best thing to napping. Sometimes are minds just need a quick reset so we can lift the mental fog and refocus. There are some great apps you can use to find guided meditations specifically for focus. One of my favorites is the Calm app which has an entire series on meditations designed to increase focus and concentration.

Move your body

Another way to get some midday motivation is to get out of your chair and move your body. If you have a gym in your building like I do, you can hop in for a quick sweat session. If not, you can always find some fun music on Spotify and shake it out for a little while.

The idea here is that your mind will follow your body. If you give your body a quick jolt then your mind will wake up. While it’s not a long-term strategy, it does help when you’re trying to find some quick midday motivation.

Take a break

Sometimes we really just need a break in order to get some midday motivation. However, I notice that taking a break by watching YouTube videos is not helpful – at least not for me. That’s because I get sucked into a black hole and find it even more difficult to focus.

What does help me is going outside. For example, at the time of writing this, it’s currently a beautiful 70 degrees outside. The sun is also shining. I can take a quick ten-minute break on my balcony and just let the fresh air hit me.

(As a sidebar, sometimes I actually move my laptop out to my balcony. This keeps me awake midday when I’m starting to fall sleepy but know I can’t nap.)

Try the Pomodoro Technique

Some people, like myself, thrive under pressure. If I know I have to finish something by a certain time, it gives me a surge of energy and focus. For example, if I know I have to leave for SoulCyle around 5:45 PM, then I know I have to be done working by 4 PM.

Some days I actually have an appointment or engagement to attend, other days I don’t. For the days that I don’t, I trick myself into thinking I’m on a time crunch by using the Pomodoro Technique. This is when you give yourself 20 minutes to work and then a five-minute break. Each round is a Pomodoro and you continue the process until the task is complete.

Final Thoughts

While the afternoon slump is annoying, it can be overcome by giving yourself a jolt of midday motivation. Use the techniques to give yourself a little jumpstart the next time you find yourself falling asleep at your desk.

This article originally appeared in Calendar.

 

This article was written by Amanda Abella from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

The One-Hour Guide to Organizing Your Inbox if It’s in Shambles

July 3rd, 2018 by The Franchise Development Team

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Chances are your inbox is a lot like that abandoned basket of stuff sitting in the back of your closet. You know it’s dying to be cleaned out (and is housing many hidden surprises), but the thought of tackling such a task is overwhelming. And who has six hours of free time to spare for something like that?

But organizing your emails doesn’t have to take all day—in fact, you can do it in just one hour if you set aside the time for it.

 

Minutes 1 to 10: Clear Out the Junk

Set a time for 10 minutes and just start mass deleting (or archiving) any messages you know you don’t need, like notifications from social media accounts, reminders for past events, confirmations for deliveries you’ve already received, newsletters you already read (or will never read), and emails that are no longer relevant.

You can make this easy by searching your inbox for common senders or subject lines (for example: LinkedIn notifications) and deleting a bunch of stuff at once.

 

Minutes 10 to 30: Create Folders and Labels

Now it’s time to organize the messages left that don’t need any action but that you need or want to keep.

There are as many folder systems as there are email users, but an easy one to try is making a folder for any topic or type of email that have several messages that relate to it. So, that could mean folders like: Receipts, Projects, Trips, and so on. You can always add and adapt folders as you learn what works best for you.

To speed this process along, you can even create a “To File Later” folder for anything that you’re at all unsure about and an “Unsubscribe” folder for anything you don’t want anymore. Tip: Those are great folders to sort through when you have five minutes between meetings.

Oh! And if you want to get even more organized, try some labels (called “categories” by Outlook) to add more info to your messages. You can have multiple labels on one email or even multiple layers of labels. So, that email in your “Trip” folder can have a main label of “New York 2018” and sub-labels of “Flights” and “Monday.”

 

Minutes 30 to 50: Use the Two-Minute Rule or Make a To-Do List for Emails That Need Action

The emails you’re left with now should only be ones that need action. If the action can be completed in less than two minutes, do it now. If you need more time to take care of the message, add it to your to-do list with a notification to remind you to actually do it. Then, archive the email to keep your inbox clear (you’ll still be able to search for it later)

If you’re just not a list maker, you can instead use Gmail’s new snooze feature to have the email show up in your inbox when you’re ready to handle it. Or, if you’re an Outlook user, the follow-up feature lets you do the same.

 

Minutes 50 to 60: Update Your Settings for Easy Maintenance

Congratulations on the world’s most organized inbox! OK, not the world’s most organized inbox—but your best inbox yet.

But don’t let the party go on for too long or you’ll find it filling up again. You can avoid this by setting up filters that’ll automatically sort your incoming messages so you don’t have to.

My favorite filter is for newsletters and offer emails I actually want to read but don’t always have time for right when they come in. Instead, I set up a filter in Gmail which sends them all to a “Read Later” folder. (Outlook has its own version of filters called “rules” that can do some heavy lifting for you.)

You might also consider setting up an auto-reply for your Gmail or Outlook when you won’t be able to reply to emails as quick as you usually would (like if you’re at a conference, working unusual hours, or on vacation)

And, to really fly through your messages, you can enable and learn some keyboard shortcuts for Gmail or Outlook.

After this clean up, you’ll be rid of that nagging feeling that you missed a message or that sinking feeling that you have to face a full inbox every morning. In fact, you might even be ready to move onto more advancing email organization such at taking advantage of the new Gmail, using Chrome extensions, or trying out this Inbox AI tool.

Or, on the flipside, if you find that you still have a lot of work to do—start setting aside 20 minutes every week to tackle these steps one at a time. Do that for a few weeks and you’ll find yourself with an inbox that actually makes your life easier.

 

This article was written by Kelli Smith from The Daily Muse and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Why You Should Prioritize Learning Over Performance

June 12th, 2018 by The Franchise Development Team

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Standards set the bar for achievement, and in business, that bar raises and shifts position. No wonder professionals often burnout — they’re competing in a rat race, never making it out of the maze. Work culture must move from a focus on performance to a focus on learning.

The prioritization of performance over learning persists in education, where the root of the issue lies. Many studies have shown test results are not accurate indicators of student potential, talent and knowledge. Still, the goal remains to get the A and move on to the next score goal, rather than truly learning the material — as if they’re given the time to do so in the first place. When students graduate, this damaging mindset often persists in work culture.

There’s nothing wrong with challenging yourself, but without learning, you continue to fight the same fight. You lose in the end when you burn out and limit your potential as a professional. Prioritize education to achieve improved, sustainable performance over the long-term with these four tips.

  1. Ask for Feedback

Like tests, annual performance reviews rarely get into the nitty-gritty of generating improvement. This once-a-year picture usually fails the employer and employee. Feedback notes feel like a chore for both parties and don’t encourage growth or nurture development of talents.

Feedback must function collaboratively — employees want and deserve better feedback. Of all generations, millennial workers most desire regular feedback, but every worker should frequently seek it out.

CEOs should also seek feedback from their employees. More constructive, transparent and positive feedback opens the door to improved trust, communication and performance. View feedback as a learning opportunity on the road to improved performance.

  1. Focus on Learning Outcomes

Reviews measure how someone performs at a specific time, offering only a snapshot of an employee’s work while a focus on learning stretches the view longitudinally. Regular reviews help track the results of knowledge and provide a more holistic vantage point of learning through time. The focus on both performance and learning outcomes adds value to employee contribution and growth, but a broader lens is needed to nurture success and growth.

Develop a customized feedback process with your supervisor and plan timeframes during which you’ll regularly ask for feedback. Communicate your learning objectives to measure your performance more holistically and get a better view of how on-track you are to achieving your learning outcomes. You’ll feel less stressed and more focused on your professional development.

  1. Participate in Mentoring

Open up mentoring opportunities for yourself to gain knowledge and give back to those rising in the ranks. Do you admire a specific professional or entrepreneur? Arrange a time for a coffee meetup — your treat — to discuss the possibility of a mentorship.

Come to the table with your learning objectives and possible outcomes in mind. Don’t worry if what you have outlined feels abstract — this is part of the learning process. You’re gathering information and developing a pathway to learn and grow professionally.

Senior-level employees who give back usually feel good about passing on their knowledge but could stand to learn more about how they work through the process of exchange. Of Fortune 500 companies, 71 percent offer mentoring programs for employees because they realize the proven link between learning and performance.

Does the company offer mentoring programs? Why not be the first to pitch this as an idea and help set it up? Cultivate something bigger than one employee — an opportunity that benefits you in the long run, too.

  1. Pursue Enrichment Opportunities

Achieving the work-life balance feels like trying to clone a dinosaur — nearly impossible. You must make the time. Build a full life in your personal and professional worlds by pursuing enrichment opportunities.

Enrichment opportunities is a broad term, but one that encompasses endless potential. What opportunities for learning exist on the job and in your personal life? Take advantage of exercise programs, employer tuition reimbursement and stipends for night or online classes. Attend that life drawing or marketing class you always wanted to schedule.

What opportunities might you cultivate by talking to the right people and pitching the right ideas? Speak up.

Research reveals that satisfaction among employees relies on having a fulfilling experience on the job. One study found employers who deepened worker knowledge through enrichment opportunities possessed higher motivated teams and company loyalty. The workers were also more productive and happier due to benefits and programs that promoted recognition, achievement, advancement and responsibility.

It’s possible to achieve the right balance of completing duties and pursuing growth through learning. Open up the lines of communication toward a culture of knowledge and enrichment, and productivity and performance will follow. Honor quality over quantity.

Don’t let your focus on performance hold you back from the wealth of the learning experience. By redirecting your attention to creating learning objectives and outcomes, you can broaden your horizons and improve your performance over time.

This article originally appeared in Personal Branding Blog.

 

This article was written by Personal Branding Blog from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.