5 Simple Steps to Increase Your Average Sale Size

It’s happening everywhere in consumer sales. Have you ever added fries to your lunch order at the suggestion of the cashier, or bought five accessories to complement your new camera or phone because there was a great “limited time offer“? If so, you’ve experienced the receiving end of a successful upsell. While it’s commonplace for products and goods, increasing your average sale size for software and services is a different ball game.  

As an entrepreneur or business owner, increasing average orders is gravy: it allows you to work less, grow your revenue faster, or increase your margins. However, many professionals think that doubling their average sale size is impossible, or so difficult it isn’t worth it. So, they spend all their efforts trying to increase the sheer volume of clients.

Doubling your average deal size is possible. Like those fast food companies and retail stores, it’s really about perfecting the timing, the offer and the value derived from it (think ROI). At my current company, we’ve implemented some simple tactics that helped us increase our deal size by 180 percent in the past three months.

The path to perfecting the upsell in any industry is really understanding your customers as a whole, and then personalizing the message to the individual. Once you understand their motivations, struggles and the value they derive from your product, you’ll have all the information you need to consistently increase your average sale size.

1. Understand The Decision Process

To find the perfect upsell for your customers, you’ll need to invest in learning about not only who they are, but also what value they get from your company and the frame of mind they’re in when interacting with you and your sales team. Start by exploring what your product does for them: is the problem it solves urgent, or is it a long-term investment? Is your product a “must-have” or a “nice-to-have”? Is it a product that needs to be adopted by the entire organization or can a small group start using it as a pilot? What level of management is making the final purchase decision?

2. Talk To The Right People

There are few things more frustrating than delivering a great sales presentation and forming a relationship with someone you think is a lead, only to find out that they aren’t the final decision maker. Yes, you’ve developed rapport and trust between your brand and someone at that company, but you’ll have to exert nearly as much effort to convince a second – or even third – person before you can close the sale. Worst, in some situations, the person you’ve pitched will go pitch their boss, the actual decision-maker, but leave out important details or make errors in their description — and your chances of closing a big deal are likely down the drain.

To find out who you should talk to at the organization you’re targeting, start by looking at the deals you’ve closed in the past, or deals that your colleagues have closed. What job title or seniority were the decision makers? If you’re not sure who the right person is, don’t be afraid to ask your lead if they are the decision maker or if they can introduce you to them.

For example, with my team, we’ve looked at the decision makers of our current clients by industry and by company size. At small advertising agencies, we may target the Managing Partner, whereas as, at medium-sized technology startups, the decision maker is more likely the VP of Sales.

You can also invest in a lead generation tool that includes a lead scoring function. It will help you programmatically analyze your customers and point to who you should target at organizations you haven’t yet contacted, which will save you a lot of time and confusion in the future.

3. Nurture With Personalization and Precision

Once you’ve identified who you should target, you should make sure you reach out to them with a very customized message. If you aren’t personalizing your messaging to leads, you’re significantly lowering your chances of a positive response. Using an outbound automation software that allows you to segment your leads will save you a lot of time.

One of the most effective ways we’ve found to personalize the messaging is to use merge tags in email sequences. These tags allow you to dynamically add content that is different in each email. For example, you can customize the first name, company name, industry and so on. 

4. Sell Your Unique Value

Value-based selling means creating a sales relationship that starts with a “discovery” stage in which you explore what problems your lead has that your product may be able to solve for (commonly referred as “pain-points”). Next, you help them realize how valuable it would be to solve that problem. And finally, explain the role your product would play in fixing the problem.

By following this formula, in this order, your lead will end up telling you why they need your product.This will not only make them more likely to buy, but also trust that your brand has their best interests in mind — which will make them more receptive to repeat and increased orders.

You’ll likely be able to group some of your customers around the unique value you’re delivering to them. For example, my team and I have split our clients into 3 main groups, for which we have a different value proposition:

  • Entrepreneurs Agencies. They typically do sales themselves and so we help them automate the outreach process.

  • Small and Medium Businesses. They typically have several sales reps and their goal is to increase revenue fast. We help them build a repeatable and scalable process.

  • Large Organizations. They typically have a large team, lots of (usually bad) data. We help them identify who they should target next and how to implement account-based sales efficiently.

5. Leverage Your Existing Connections and Clients

When you close a large contract with a big organization, you’ve likely developed a strong rapport with the decision makers. Don’t be shy about asking them for leads. A referral from a trusted source can often double the speed at which a lead gets through your sales funnel, and smooths the entire journey, as less trust needs to be developed from scratch.

In the past couple of months, we started to systematically ask our clients if they knew any other companies that would be a good fit. Referrals now represent about 20 percent of new business – our fastest growing acquisition channel. 

Increasing your deal size for your software or services might not be as simple as asking customers at checkout if they want to add fries, but it is within reach for every company. With a careful analysis of your customers and their decision process, as well as a strategic approach to engaging with the decision maker, you’ll be on track to double your deal size in 2018.

How to Keep Three Generations Happy in Your Modern Office

A topic that often goes unnoticed among HR departments and executive teams is the challenge of providing an office space that meets the needs of employees who span across multiple generations. While many young start-ups often hire a workforce that reflects themselves, the need for a more diverse workplace is growing, and this includes hiring across multiple age ranges.

Right now, there are three significantly different generations in the workforce: Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials. Let’s take a look at what office design and amenities each generation may require, and how you can implement some easy upgrades to your workplace layout  and functionality to keep all your employees happy.

Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964. The oldest of the 79 million Baby Boomers reached age 65 in 2011, and the youngest will arrive there by 2029. Because they heard often from their parents (the Traditionalist generation) about economic hardship, war, and right versus wrong ethics, this generation was instilled with a strong work ethic, desire to achieve with visible productivity, and clear goals and benefits. Baby Boomers are work-centric, goal-oriented, independent, and self-actualized. They thrive on security and team meetings that don’t waste their time. This group can build and maintain an unwavering company backbone, and they love friendly competition to spur everyone on to a greater goal. But they don’t like distractions or disconnection.

For the Boomers in your office, provide quiet offices and keep the music to a distraction-free and pleasant channel. Satisfy their competitive side with quarterly profit sharing, Employee of the Month awards, and team sports or outings. Boomers crave face to face time, so collaborative office spaces and modular work stations will suit them well. Don’t introduce too much Slack or video conferencing–it starts to wear thin.

Generation X

According to Time Magazine: “By 2019, Generation X — that relatively small cohort born from 1965 to 1978 — will have spent nearly two decades bumping up against a gray ceiling of boomers in senior decision-making jobs.”

Generation X, also referred to as Gen Xers, are also hard workers like Boomers and have most likely spent a large part of their career focused on one industry or even in one company. They apply themselves to move up the ladder while (perhaps disdainfully) observing their Millennial counterparts job-hopping and “following their bliss.”

Gen Xers appreciate nostalgia and remember the time before the Internet, so some offline work and unplugged meetings are appreciated and will stimulate creativity. However, they love and appreciate innovative technology, such as integrated hardware and data cables, invisible wiring, adjustable height desks, and spaces that contribute to their productivity. Give them comfortable furniture so they can be effective team leaders and move efficiently up the corporate ladder to get what they deserve.

Gen X also saw the rise of Reduce-Reuse-Recycle, so recycled materials workstations, office greenery, recycling and compost efforts in employee lounges, as well as “Bike to Work” days will be appreciated by this group.

Millennials

Generation Y, better known to the entire universe as Millennials, have ushered in sustainability as a required benefit in the new modern office. Fond of implementing water features, living walls, solar panels, and green tech and paperless offices, Millennials want their company office to not only benefit the individual but benefit the greater good.

They’ve been raised almost entirely in a world of technology, so learning new tech or embracing flexibility is easy for them. In fact, don’t be surprised if many Millennials request to have a part-time minimalist commuter workspace so they can work virtually, or if they forgo their assigned cubicle to work on their Mac laptop in the employee lounge (closer to the coffee, of course).

Millennials basically relaunched the concept of the open office and their desire for light, minimal and fun spaces has been tarnished by the “ugh, ping pong tables?” think pieces in media. But Millennials can encourage work-centric Boomers to take breaks, give positive feedback to Gen Xer’s leadership, and will happily tweet about their work experience to build the brand. They are team players who are introducing equity as a higher standard of equality. They’ll love communal work tables, bright and bold offices, and conference rooms that break the mold.

While it may be nearly impossible to provide an age-neutral office, you can provide each employee with an age-neutral personal workspace and a limited to budget to personalize it as they see fit. We live in the age of flexible workstations and modular layouts as well as innovative office accessories. This could lead to stronger talent loyalty, fostering a personalized company culture, and a happier and more creative staff. 

Facebook Wants Your Data and Is Launching Their Home Device ‘Portal’ This Year to Compete

Our habits, especially in the home are about to change. Or at least Facebook is betting on that. Facebook is joining Amazon, Google and Apple in a crowded battle for who can create the most convenient and indispensable home device. 

Facebook’s new “Portal” will cost $499 and be available in the second half of this year. It’s intended to build off of Amazon’s Echo Show–which costs half the price and allows users to perform assistant tasks as well as chat via video on a small screen. 

Portal will be an audio/video device with a laptop sized screen that may ambitiously be intended to replace the family iPad. It will provide instant video calling to anyone in your Facebook feed, work with all streaming services, connect to apps and respond to voice commands. 

The price may be an issue.

Facebook may be willing to lower the price before launch date but reportedly Mark Zuckerberg isn’t concerned if this device makes a profit or not. And that shouldn’t sound crazy to you. 

The biggest theme to watch in 2018 will be products that don’t need to make money in an obvious way. Amazon, Google and Apple haven’t created home AI devices so you can have a better speaker in your kitchen. 

They want your data. Not in a bad way. Your microwave isn’t trying to kill you. But every company in 2018 wants your data. That’s how AI gets better. And as we shift further and further to audio search rather than click-based search it threatens the existing duopoly that exists for Google and Facebook. 

They can’t afford to lose ground in search but they also know the landscape has changed. The new key to search–and the very lucrative advertising around it–is convenience via these home AI devices.

How data is changing competition.

Uber’s new credit card isn’t a play to get in the financial space. They want your restaurant data and they are willing to give you 4 percent cash back to get it. Why? So they can know what you like and create “ghost kitchens” for Uber Eats. Uber can create dozens of pop-up restaurants on the app to serve people using one commercial kitchen and a couple chefs. Cutting down on overhead it’s a potential game-changer in 2018 and beyond. 

Target bought Meijer’s grocery delivery service Shipt last month for $550 milllion. Shipt isn’t intended to be profitable. Shipt users pay $100 a year to get their groceries and household items delivered. The goods are marked up slightly in some cases but after paying a driver $15 an hour to collect and deliver the items it’s basically a break-even. 

So why so much interest in Shipt? Because it creates loyalty. Target is betting that you’ll choose convenience first every time. And don’t be surprised if Amazon, which now owns Whole Foods, eyes Target this year for acquisition. 

Original content is key if you want to compete.

If you run a startup–or are startup curious– you may look at this data collection by industry giants and wonder how on earth you’ll be able to compete. But every action has a reaction. When Apple launched the App Store it created room for Instagram and thousands of others to thrive. 

There’s nothing stopping you right now from creating a ghost kitchen. And Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple are all trying to differentiate in the home market. They will need help in creating tools, widgets and items that help create an edge. Any good startup mentor will tell you to identify not where companies put their budget but where they are about to put their budget.

While people may talk about the booming industries of marijuana and medical wearables–and they are not wrong–original digital content may be just as big. Digital content is causing Silicon Valley, telecom and network television to blend. As that content goes further and further to mobile and other devices, Facebook, Amazon and more are making plays in original programming. Apple is investing $1 billion this year in original content. 

At the end of the day, the consumer may choose a home device or a wireless provider based on what original content it has access to and therein lies the opportunity as a startup. This war will be fought over content and exclusives, not bells and whistles. 

Go make that content. 

3 Leadership Techniques You Can Learn From Oprah’s Speech at the Golden Globes

This past Sunday, at the Golden Globes Oprah, gave a phenomenal speech. If you didn’t see it, you’ve definitely heard about it. While speaking she made all of us feel heard.

It’s no news that Oprah knows all the secret sauces to success.

What she said that night was extraordinary and strong, and it displayed her immedicable leadership ability. So much so, that many are left wondering if she’ll be running for President of the United States in the next election.

But it wasn’t just what she said, it was how she said it.

There’s so much to learn from Oprah Winfrey, this week she gave us three simple but brilliant tools to being a better leader.

1.  Legitimize yourself as a leader.

When receiving Cecil B. de Mile Awrard at the 75th annual Golden Globes, Oprah hardly talked about her career and the work she’d done to make it to that stage. Instead, Oprah used this opportunity as a platform to encourage, and to lead.

She built herself up, without bragging.

Oprah explained that she had seen the Sidney Poitier win a Golden Globe and how it had impacted her life. She explained how much it meant for her to see a black man being celebrated. And while displaying the gravity of that situation she let her audience know that it was an honor to be in similar position.

 “In 1982, Sidney received the Cecil B. DeMille award right here at the Golden Globes and it is not lost on me that at this moment, there are some little girls watching as I become the first black woman to be given this same award.”

She gave weight to this moment, and let her audience share the magnitude of it. Oprah wasn’t shy to point out that she was making history.

She legitimized herself as a leader, but she didn’t shove the concept down her audiences throat. She led them to that conclusion with a relatable personal experience, and historical facts.

2.  Empower your audience.

Oprah’s speech made her audience feel powerful. She applauded their ability to create change and encouraged their opportunities to keep progressing.

“Speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have”

It’s not about a truth, or even the truth, Oprah makes it about a personal truth. She makes even the most general statement personal, which makes it even more compelling. 

She gives power to her entire audience by empowering each and every individual.

She points to the incredibly powerful stories of Rosa Parks, and Recy Taylor to promote her point: individuals are powerful.

3. Include everybody.

Throughout her speech Oprah referenced the #MeToo movement. When discussing this movement fueled by men in power harassing women, she empowers both men and women.

“For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up… and it’s here with every woman who chooses to say, “Me too.” And every man — every man who chooses to listen.”

Beyond empowering genders, Oprah empowers communities. She shows magnificent signs of leadership  by not leaving anybody out.

“But it’s not just a story affecting the entertainment industry. It’s one that transcends any culture, geography, race, religion, politics, or workplace…They’re the women whose names we’ll never know. They are domestic workers and farm workers. They are working in factories and they work in restaurants and they’re in academia, engineering, medicine, and science. They’re part of the world of tech and politics and business. They’re our athletes in the Olympics and they’re our soldiers in the military.”

In about 9 minutes Oprah has gone from walking on stage to uniting the entire world. She includes everybody, and this is one of the most important qualities in a leader. The best leaders understand that there is power in numbers. So instead of diving groups, they combine them.

Through legitimizing herself, empowering and including her audience, she united them, which is what every leader should be trying to do.

What the Rise of Hip Hop Culture in Korea Can Teach Us About Cultural Relevancy and Sensitivity

We’ve all had our taste of Korean culture, whether it be our fair share of listening to the K-Pop hit “Gangam Style”, or watching the immensely popular and global sensation K-Drama “The Descendants of the Sun” or even visiting the popular K-Con convention in L.A. and New York. Yet, nothing quite peaks our interest like the 2015 Rap Hit “It G Ma” by Keith Ape.

What makes this song so special is not the obvious. What it actually does is borrow the flow from OG Maco’s satirical “U Guessed It”. What is really great is that Keith Ape has the courage to not only bring Japanese rappers like KOHH on the track, but also U.S. based Hip-Hop vets like A$AP Ferg and Waka Flocka Flame to an already multicultural cast (Note: Remix Version Includes U.S. rappers mentioned above). So, the question stands, is this cultural appropriation, even though black rappers have jumped on the track? Before we answer the question, let’s look at different aspects of Korean entertainment, starting with K-Dramas. Contrary to popular belief, K-Dramas are a global sensation, watched not only by Koreans or other Asian groups, but also popular among Latin Americans, North Americans and Europeans.

Consumers have a plethora of legal and illegal ways of consuming this content, with providers like Viki and Drama Fever leading the charge. Outside of the popularity, these K-Dramas also have a huge effect on consumer shopping behaviors. After being shown on various K-Dramas, a simple Google search of “Product Featured in K-Drama” will bring up multiple listings of beauty products, fashion accessories, books, and even foods that are all selling out.

Product placement is not a new tactic, in fact it has been used since the nineteenth century by esteemed French novelist Jules Verne in his novel “Around the World in Eighty Days” where the success of the novel led to transport and shipping companies lobbying to be mentioned in his story. In 2006, marketing research firm PQ Media, estimated that $3.36 billion in revenue was generated worldwide through product placement, a figure that continues to grow today.

So why do we not see more American based products featured in K-Dramas? One potential challenge American brands might see is the fact that Korean entertainment has to first overcome its long history of unintentionally misunderstanding other cultures. From its blackface blunders by the Korean Mamamoo band to wearing Nazi inspired outfits in K-Pop videos by the all-female Korean band called Pritz.

So what makes the Keith Ape song “It G Ma” so different? According to OG Maco’s since deleted tweet, this was in fact cultural appropriation and blatant stealing of his IP. So, the question we should be asking from marketers is, “how do we avoid appropriating culture moving forward?” First and foremost, the following answer should not be taken as gospel but more as topics for discussion.

Bring multiple perspectives

When creating content that seeks to pay homage to another culture it is always important to bring multiple sides of the spectrum to the conversation. Having singular thoughts coming from a predominantly homogenous group always spells trouble. Does anyone remember Pepsi trying to borrow the Black Lives Matter movement and making it into a message of “unity, peace and understanding”? One word to describe this mess, FAIL. Prior to releasing this spot, it would’ve been beneficial for Pepsi to bring BLM advocates to the table to discuss issues surrounding Black Americans and appropriate ways of depicting the movement without assumptions.

Understand before depicting

With the ever-increasing globalization of cultures, thanks in part to the internet, it’s probably smart for marketers to do research on both the culture they are targeting with their advertising as well as the culture they are referencing. Remember the long-forgotten Groupon commercials of 2011 that depicted Timothy Hutton discussing human rights abuses in Tibet and shortly after raving about deals he got at restaurants. Another obvious fail that tried to play off of current political and social issues in the wrong way. The right thing to do in this case would be for Groupon to develop a PR campaign that addressed social issues separately from their bottom line.

Dig deeper

3. Education, Education, Education … a key pillar that is consistently overlooked, yet should be the foundation to any marketing initiative your brand is exploring as it relates to multicultural audiences. Educating yourself is the difference between making a beautiful and culturally appropriate spot like the 2014, America the Beautiful spot by Coca Cola, or like the Chinese detergent commercial that depicted a black male being washed and coming out as a white Asian male.

So, what does this all mean? For one, regardless if it’s Korean culture, Black culture, or Latin culture we need to make sure that when we borrow certain elements from these cultures, that we are bringing people to the table who live and breathe it day in and day out. Cultural perspective from these people are the difference between successfully recognizing a culture or appropriating it.

This article was co-authored by Boris Litvinov @GravityMediaLLC

Have These 6 Key Traits? Then Now Is The Time For You to Quit Your Job

Elon Musk is headed to Mars. Lady Gaga keeps going platinum. Whatever Richard Branson touches, seems to turn into gold (or red).

Why do some people become successful entrepreneurs while others never escape their 9-5?

It all boils down to 6 key traits that you must have to find success as an entrepreneur.

But do you really know what it takes to be an entrepreneur?

We have good news and bad news.

The good news: You can be an entrepreneur.

The bad news: Though it has never been easier to become an entrepreneur, not everyone should be one.

The current state of the startup

Entrepreneurship is on the rise and shows no signs of slowing. With the cost of setting up a business at record lows, and the abundance of venture capital soaring high, many savvy professionals are capitalizing on this by making their mark and starting their own businesses.

But the reality that not everyone wants to talk about is that while we all can be entrepreneurs, not everyone should be one.

The difference between “can” and “should” is seldom discussed, but it’s a conversation that we feel is crucial for anyone considering starting their own company.

There are 6 traits that are essential for any entrepreneur. If you have these six traits, quitting your job might be a good career move.

Let’s get started.

1. You have to be optimistic.

Every entrepreneur will be dealt blows that knock down their business one way or the other. But for successful founders, it’s not about how many times you’re knocked down, but how you feel about the next challenge that might knock you down again.

You must be able to look at a situation that appears bleak in the short-term and stay firm in your belief that, long-term, things will pan out. We call this being “long-term greedy,” and it’s exactly the attitude we had when we co-founded VEEV, a sustainable liquor startup in 2007.

We had to make several tough decisions on our journey, but we knew that we were following our purpose and not the route laid out in front of us. We were prepared to take some detours, even if it yielded losses in the short-term, for gains in the future.

When we ordered our first shipment of vodka, we were informed that all 50,000 bottles were stranded after the ship they were on crashed into an iceberg. A real iceberg!

Could you imagine our stress??

If we couldn’t get our shipment as planned, our vendors would back out of the deals we had in place and the investment we made into our products would sink to the bottom of the ocean, literally.

In times like this, it is easy to feel scared and start to panic, but we stayed optimistic. We stayed hopeful and communicated with our vendors, letting them know what delays were happening. This communication was not the easiest to deliver. But because we were optimistic, we had the courage to call our vendors and tell them the truth.

In order to succeed in the world of entrepreneurship, you must understand that things will go wrong. But if you are optimistic, it will help to carry you through the hard times.

Do you have the mindset to succeed?

Think back to the last tragic event that occurred in your life. How did it make you feel? If you can think of circumstances where you wanted to just run away and hide, entrepreneurship may not be the right path for you. However, if you have braved through most situations, then you may have the optimism you need to achieve success as an entrepreneur.

2. You have to be energetic

While a high level of optimism is necessary for success, you must have matching stamina levels to make things happen. Building a startup is like running a marathon. You have to pace yourself for the long term. But at times you must also push yourself and have the energy to sprint during the marathon. What some first-time entrepreneurs might not fully understand is how important good health and stamina are to maintaining the energy needed to start and scale a successful venture.

It’s no surprise that many founders are health-conscious — they regularly exercise, maintain a clean diet, and get good amounts of sleep. Why? It maximizes your energy, which you’ll need a lot of.

Having a high work rate isn’t just for your productivity. Every second you’re not building gives your competitors more seconds to catch up, or even take you out of business.

Let’s say you spend 30 slow days testing an idea that could’ve been done in a week. 30 years ago that might not have mattered for big businesses. But at today’s speed? Taking those 30 days instead of a week could cause your company to crumble.

As an entrepreneur, you need to make the most of your time by giving 110% every day. And that takes a lot of energy. Bringing high energy to your startup also acts as a virtuous circle. The more abundant your energy, the more it encourages teammates and employees to do the same.

If you have a hard time maintaining a healthy lifestyle and don’t have the energy to keep up with the demands of an entrepreneur in today’s world, you may want to think twice about the leap to starting your own company.

3. You have to take smart risks

It’s no secret that compared to the relatively steady careers offered by the corporate world, startups are fraught with risk. As an entrepreneur, you need to be comfortable both taking risks, and evaluating the risk of every decision you take.

These might be more common than you’d first think. Are you hiring a new developer? Are you considering a round of funding? You’ll be encountering risks on a near-daily basis, and need to assess their impact on your business quickly.

We learned how true this was at VEEV. We left our well-paying, promising careers at Goldman Sachs to found a liquor startup. Naturally, taking this risk left some of our closest friends and family questioning our decision. But the risk paid off in the end, with VEEV making a positive impact towards the planet by becoming the world’s first carbon neutral spirits company. We like to say, “We were just young and stupid enough to become entrepreneurs.”

While at the time you could say it was risky leaving our jobs, it was ultimately the right decision for us.

When’s the last time you took a risk? What was it like? Were you scared?

There are reasons why some people are fine with risk and why others avoid it. The way we look at it, taking risk leads to success. Great opportunities, otherwise unforeseen, often come with taking risk.

To determine whether or not you’re a risk taker, you can do this one simple exercise. Do you think back on all the things you should’ve, could’ve, and would’ve done, or do you just go out there and do them?

If you’re always thinking about the things you should’ve and could’ve done, guess what? Entrepreneurship might not the right thing for you, because you’ll never be happy with it.

4. You have to be resilient

Along with having the optimism and energy to see setbacks in the context of your long-term success, entrepreneurs need to be resilient enough to bounce back from the regular obstacles that come with any startup.

VEEV was no exception. When we first started, our açaí-infused spirit had a slight yellow tint to it. What started as little more than a surprise got worse over the coming weeks, as the color eventually looked more like lemonade than vodka.

Having the resilience to accept that our product was far from perfect, was tough. But in the end, we fixed the issue and kept scaling.

Successful entrepreneurs are able to bounce back quickly from disappointment.

Not sure if you are resilient? here’s a test to find out.

Look back to the last time that you experienced what you would consider a failure. It could be a test that you didn’t pass. It could be a relationship that didn’t go right. It could be a fight that you had with your friends. Ask yourself how long it took you to rebound from that failure. If it took you more than two weeks, you might not have the resiliency needed to bounce back like a true entrepreneur will inevitably have to do many times over.

5. Successful entrepreneurs have to be visionary

Okay, here’s another test. Find a piece of paper and a pen or take out your phone and open up a blank note. Think about an entrepreneur role model. Now write down the top five words that come to mind when you think of that person.

If we were gambling men, which we are, we’d be willing to bet that the words “inspiration” and/or “visionary” are on your list.

That’s because the best founders see something that no one else sees, rally their troops around the vision, and take their teams on a journey that no one else would have imagined could or would be possible.

When it comes to beverages and consumer packaged goods, from KeVita to Krave Jerky, we try to spot opportunities coming and be in a position to capitalize on them. That is how we started VEEV, by seeing an opportunity in the vodka space that no one else saw and jumping on it.

The ability to recognize market trends and to vividly paint a picture of the future is what separates mediocre and/or lucky founders and investors from those who are consistently successful. We once heard Tony Robbins say something about this we liked. We don’t recall the exact words, but the gist is: See the world as it is, not as worse than it is. See the world as you see it; make the world as you see it.

Whether it was Martin Luther King Jr. having a dream of an equal United States, or Elon Musk making us an interplanetary species, every successful entrepreneur must have a vision of the future they want to build.

In many ways, what Tony Robbins said sums up the job and challenge of the entrepreneur: being visionary enough to see a better way of doing something, but grounding that vision in reality enough to make it happen.

This was how we made VEEV. We saw the liquor industry was stagnating as people grew tired of the same 8X distilled vodka. We wanted to give people an alternative with better ingredients, that made better cocktails, which ultimately gave them a better way to drink.

What does the future look like for you? Can you paint it out clearly? Do you know what you want it to look like?

If you do, maybe becoming an entrepreneur is the right path.

6. You must be persuasive

You have probably heard, being an entrepreneur means you have a part-time job as a salesman or saleswoman. To be honest, it’s not really a part-time job–as a founder, you must constantly represent, talk about, and, most importantly, sell your company! You must become your own brand evangelist. Successful startup founders not only believe in their products and services, they become part of their life! At early stages of growth, you have to sell your story, your passion, and your vision every day!

Sales come down to one thing: persuasion. If you can persuade someone to see your point of view, and act on your offer, you’re well on the way to being an entrepreneur.

According to one of our favorite philosophers, Aristotle, there are three pillars of persuasion: ethos, pathos, and logos. Whether you are speaking with investors, employees, or distributors, you should constantly try to get as many people on board by using these pillars.

  • Ethos is an appeal to ethics, and it means convincing someone of your credibility.

  • Pathos involves appealing to the listener’s emotions–creating a feeling response.

  • Logos is persuasion by reason.

With VEEV, we used all three.

  • Ethos: We developed relationships with our vendors and earned trust from our customers.

  • Pathos: We demonstrated goodwill through product demos, and exuded passion and confidence when we shared our vodka.

  • Logos: We would never accept defeat, and kept pushing forward, building our business with sound financials, and sold others on our vision.

When you master these elements and combine them effectively, you will leverage your persuasive potential!

When you go to the movies with your friends, who decides what movie you’re going to see? When you’re at dinner, and the dessert menus are passed out, are you the person to take action and help make the decision, or do you stand by and wait to see what everybody else does?

If, in your life, you are known as the person that helps to make decisions, you may be one step closer to having the sixth and final component needed to be an entrepreneur.

After reading all of this, you’re probably thinking, this is tough. Maybe entrepreneurship isn’t for me?

That’s okay.

Or maybe you realized that you do have all these traits, and you are ready to tap into your inner entrepreneur.

Here’s the thing, take it or leave it entrepreneurship will always be around.

The question you need to think about is not if you can be an entrepreneur, it’s if you should be.

And if you feel like these traits listed above resonate with you, then congratulations, and welcome to the world of entrepreneurship.

But now what?

The challenge that you’re facing right now is what all entrepreneurs face — what to do next. Good thing for you, we’ve been there, done that, and we have a successful portfolio of companies that we help on a daily basis to accelerate their success.

If you want to learn from our journey and our path, we’ve taken the time to lay out every single step. Start with these 6 traits then follow the roadmap that we’ve put together, and shortcut years off of your next startup’s adventure.

Do you think we should add any other traits to this list? We would be interested to hear your ideas! Please share them as comments. 

Open Letter to Aspiring Entrepreneurs: Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

The general public typically has a distorted view of entrepreneurship. They think of visionary leaders who created something no one had ever seen before and became household names in the process.

While it’s true that some figures have achieved this level of notoriety, the reality for 99 percent of entrepreneurs is very different. Their success is based not on creating an earth-shattering new product from scratch, but on learning what their customers want, making user-centric adjustments to existing products or services and providing it for them.

Visionaries redefining the market are few and far between.

It’s likely you can rattle off the names of several legendary entrepreneurs without even thinking about it: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Elon Musk.

You know these names because they created things their respective markets had never seen before: the first computer with a graphical UI; a versatile operating system for the masses; and a zero-emissions car that combines outstanding range and luxury features, and is the first successful new American car company since Ford.

It stands to reason that entrepreneurial successes like these are at least partially tied to the inventiveness of a product or service itself, right? It’s a tidy and compelling narrative, but it’s far from the everyday reality of most successful businesses. One of the primary reasons why you know these names so well is because they are the exceptions and not the rule.

These leaders built their companies and their reputations on the backs of unparalleled product innovation, but that is far from the only path to entrepreneurial success. Assuming otherwise ignores the millions of business owners and the vast majority of brands across the world that have delivered immense value to customers without getting their names in the history books.

There is almost an infinite amount of existing products and services out there today that the market has already proven it demands, in some form or fashion. However, many entrepreneurs ignore the chance to capitalize on ways to simply improve those offerings and deliver better service to customers. In other words, the opportunity to create and capture value is all around us. We are just often blinded by the more glamorous appeal of reinvention.

Instead of viewing everything from a developer’s perspective, approach problems from the customer’s point of view.

Over the past decade, the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) industry has exploded. As a result, many new entrepreneurs have backgrounds as trained software developers. These founders often get themselves into trouble when they become overly concerned with creating a product that has “revolutionary” features instead of just responding to their customers’ needs and market realities. They become too consumed with “innovating” and forget to listen to what customers actually want.

Many of them have dreams of being the next Bill Gates, but the odds of that happening are low. However, if they can stop looking at entrepreneurial opportunities solely as inventors and instead focus their energies on solving customer problems, they will have the foundations of a company that can grow sustainably and delivers an outstanding experience to its users.

Over the years, we’ve realized that our customers, at Amerisleep, ultimately want a bed that’s designed and engineered to improve their sleep quality so they wake up feeling refreshed. To do that, we’ve applied research, science and innovative technology to craft a mattress that directly addresses their needs by providing superior support and targeted pressure relief which facilitate a deeper and more restorative sleep.

We’ve also made eco-friendly manufacturing and delivery a core tenet of our business, which allows us to create more sustainable consumption habits and is something our customers highly value. Rather than reinvent the mattress, we made a range of beds that are well-suited for our customers and the environment.

When in doubt, ask.

So, how do you know what it is your customers are looking for?

It turns out that asking them, without a predetermined answer in mind, is a good place to start. This technique is part of a process known as “effectual reasoning,” and it has been the basis of many successful businesses throughout history.

Many serial entrepreneurs get ideas for companies simply by interviewing other business owners or managers. To apply this to your business, ask your peers questions about their processes, needs and struggles. From this exercise, hopefully, you can arrive at some truths about your customers’ pain points you can solve.

If it is feasible, all you have to do is ask the customer if they would be willing to buy a product that eases this pain and what it would be worth to them. If the answer is yes, then your nascent company has made its first informal sale.

4 Key Practices of Digitally Mature Companies

If you are like most people, you think that increasing your digital edge comes down to adding more technology to your business. In reality, digitalization goes far beyond the various technologies that companies use.

Deloitte Digital and MIT Sloan Management Review surveyed global executives and managers to get a better idea of the practices that go into making a company digitally mature. The researchers discovered key practices that digitally mature companies follow. These practices do not involve adding more technology, proving that technology is just one piece of the puzzle. If you’re going to create a digital edge, you need to add these practices to your own business strategy.

Put a Digital Strategy in Place

This might seem like a no-brainer, but in reality, lots of businesses don’t have digital strategies in place. In fact, 50 percent of businesses surveyed by Smart Insights admitted they don’t have a defined digital strategy in place.

These businesses do engage in digital marketing, though. They just don’t have a clear strategy to guide them. That means they can’t get the best results possible.

Your digital strategy needs to be a major component of your overall business strategy. It should be a part of almost everything you do. That will help you reach digital maturity at a much faster pace. If your digital strategy isn’t a part of your company’s DNA, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to make it happen. Then, you will have the foundation you need to create a digital edge.

Get the Best Team

One has to wonder which came first, the talent or the digital edge? In reality, the two go together. The best talent helps companies build a digital edge, and having a digital edge makes it easier to recruit the best talent. Recruit people who are serious about helping your company succeed in the digital world, and have them get to work. Creators and innovators will help you build your digital presence quickly. Then, use your digital edge to recruit more top-notch people. Before long, you will have a company filled with the best talent in the industry.

Think About the Future

Think about how much technology has changed over the years. It seems to change every few months, and digitally mature companies understand that and do their best to predict changes.

You need to have both short-term and long-term strategies in place. Your short-term strategy will focus on the next six months or a year and will include all of the technologies that are readily available. Then, you need to think about the next several years and consider the changes that might occur. The best companies even go beyond that and think 10 or 20 years out.

Some of your predictions might be wrong, but by understanding the changing landscape, you are more likely to make huge strides in your business.

Be Transparent

The digital landscape comes with successes and failures. If you celebrate the successes and hide the failures, you will not be successful. You need to let everyone know when you fail so everyone can work toward a solution together. Then, when you succeed, move quickly to get the most out it. Scale up as needed so you can take that success to the next level.

If you are going to be a major player in the business world, you must create a digital edge. These steps will position your company to dominate in the digital arena. Then, you will be able to reach customers and operate in a more efficient manner. That means you can increase your revenue, as well.