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Leadership Lessons From Beth Comstock for Businesses of All Sizes

I recently had the good fortune to interview Beth Comstock, a former GE executive, for Salesforce’s Leading Edge series. She’s an inspirational leader, the best-selling author of Imagine It Forward, and a true #girlboss! Although Beth spent much of her career at one of the world’s largest and best known companies, her advice is relevant to leaders of businesses of all sizes. Here are a few of the things I learned from Beth about how to be a great leader in today’s rapidly changing world.

Embrace digital transformation

There’s a lot of fear out there about the future of work. Many jobs as we know them today are going away, which is scary for a lot of people. Digital transformation isn’t about eliminating jobs, though — it’s about a new way of working. If you look at automation as a simple way to free you up from mundane and repetitive tasks, you’ll find that it enables you to be more human and to do what you like to do.

Make room for creative problem solving

We can’t solve the new problems that are emerging every day as digitization takes over with the same old tools. Creative problem solving isn’t about putting on a beret and hanging around with a paint palette (although that’s fine if you want to do it!), It’s about stepping back and giving ourselves space to think strategically and find new ways to solve our problems. It’s also important to learn from partners and customers; the “I can do it all myself” days are over — so finding creative ways to work with partners may be the best way to solve your problems.

Look for the weird

What may seem strange and new today may be disrupting your industry in a decade, so it’s important to keep your eye out for the trends. When Beth worked at GE, she looked at Korean pop bands because she wanted to understand that trend’s effect on consumer thinking. Or consider cannabis. Ten years ago, medical marijuana may have made sense, but legalized cannabis was unthinkable. And yet here it is in many parts of the country. She suggests that businesses of any size can keep employees thinking ahead with a program like “field trip Fridays.” Take an afternoon once a quarter to see a retail concept that just started, talk to an emerging startup, or even look at a new art or musical trend. Small businesses often have a huge advantage in this area.

Practice social courage

This means being willing to show your true self even at the risk of social disapproval or punishment. When you’re running a business, you need to realize that you don’t have all the answers and to be okay with sharing that. Have the courage to recognize that you may need to partner in some areas and find someone to help you do something better. In today’s hyperconnected, social media intensive world, there’s a lot of shouting “see me, see me.” That makes it even more urgent that we practice social courage, ask for help when we need it, or offer assistance to others when we can.

Give permission slips

To be successful in a rapidly changing world, you need to give people permission to try new things. (At a reasonable scale of course!) The old way of management, when you told people exactly what to do, doesn’t work today. You need to set a vision and let your people figure out how to get there. All businesses, even small and nimble ones, have gatekeepers — people that are threatened by creative problem solving. You need to give everyone in your company the permission to defy those gatekeepers.

Welcome feedback

Feedback can be uncomfortable for many people, and in today’s digital world you can get a lot of it. But you’ll be a better leader if you are able to adapt yourself to getting it, and even seeking it out. One way to practice is to tell your co-workers “Tell me something I don’t want to hear.” You might be surprised at what you learn.

You can watch the complete conversation with Beth, and hear even more leadership inspiration here.

Photo via Salesforce

This article, “Leadership Lessons From Beth Comstock for Businesses of All Sizes” was first published on Small Business Trends

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What’s your best advice for deciding how much time to spend on creating your own brand vs. monitoring the competition?

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.

1. Focus on What’s Best for Your Brand

The most important thing about building a personal brand is to build the right one for you and your business. I wouldn’t worry about competitors or even other entrepreneurs as every person and company is different. If you see someone do something really smart or see them continually collecting speaking engagements, etc., perhaps then look at mirroring success, but overall, focus on you. – Carlo Cisco, SELECT

2. Lead — Don’t Follow

If you spend too much time investigating what others are doing, you’ll end up following their lead. People with great personal brands didn’t build them by spending all day watching other people’s social media. They observed the world, thought and then created content from an authentic position. Spend your time creating worthwhile content that justifies its own existence. – Justin Blanchard, ServerMania Inc.

3. Create a Comparison List

Create a comparison list with your top few competitors so you know your strengths and weaknesses. Be thorough and include every feature, big and small. Once you have your list, there’s no need to spend more time comparing, because you can now focus on your strengths to continue widening the gap and fill in any holes you’ve found. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

4. Make a List of Questions

Monitoring your competition will eat up less of your time if you can streamline exactly what information is pertinent to you and what you’re seeking to gain from said information. Making a list of questions to ask yourself as a standardized guideline should provide you with a model that allows you to predict and plan how much time you need and want to dedicate to your competitive research.  – Matthew Podolsky, Florida Law Advisers, P.A.

5. Focus on What Motivates You

Does monitoring your competition inspire you and give you great ideas? Great! Do it more often. Does it make you feel discouraged? Limit it, and focus on your own brand instead. It’s really that simple for me. Your motivation, passion and drive are the most important elements of your success, so focus on activities that feed them, and limit activities that drain them. – Amine Rahal, Little Dragon Media

6. Create an 80/20 Rule

It can be tough to balance the time you spend working on your own projects and studying the competition since both are extremely important. My rule is simple: spend 80% of my time actually working and making progress and spend 20% of my time researching competitors. This way, I’m not out of the loop, but I’m also not lagging behind. – Bryce Welker, CPA Exam Guy

7. Learn From Others

Evaluate your personal brand based on a cursory look at the competition. If you think yours is up to snuff, then monitoring the competition shouldn’t take up that much of your time. If you feel that a lot of work is in order, pay more attention, and see what you can learn from those around you. – Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

8. Use Analysis Tools, and Check Them Monthly

I usually check my competition on a monthly basis to see what new campaigns they’ve launched, what market shifts may have occurred or how they’re complying with certain regulations. Checking on your competition on a daily basis is usually counterproductive because you want to be creating your own unique business. – Shu Saito, Godai Soaps

9. Create Google Alerts

Creating Google Alerts for your competition is a good way to monitor their activity without spending too much time searching the web and browsing profiles. You’ll get a Google Alert anytime they post something or are mentioned on the web, and you can quickly check it out instead of taking up too much time doing the digging yourself. – John Turner, SeedProd LLC

10. Pick a Top Five

To avoid spending too much time monitoring the competition, pick a top five. Choose only five of your biggest competitors or your biggest inspirations, and just check in on what they’re doing. This way, you’ll only be watching five relevant personal brands instead of surfing the web and checking out everybody. – Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights

11. Don’t Bother Monitoring Your Competition

When it comes to personal branding, the vast majority of people who spend time on it are doing it wrong, so why would you waste time monitoring them? Ask yourself: Is the competition experiencing significant growth/success as a direct result of their branding? Usually, the answer is no. Assuming it’s no, budget your time exclusively on creating content and finding distribution for it. – Brandon Harris, NuMedia

The post 11 Tips for Creating Your Brand vs. Observing Competitors appeared first on Personal Branding Blog – Stand Out In Your Career.

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Do you dream of quitting your job and becoming your own boss? You’re not alone. According to a survey by YouGov and Volusion, more than half (52%) of Americans have spent time at work thinking or daydreaming about a job or career they would rather pursue; 84% of full-time workers would rather pursue a career tied to one of their passions than their current job. (In fact, 67% of Americans overall and 79% of millennials say that even after winning the lottery, they would still like to work—as long as it was something they’re passionate about.)

There is a way to pursue your passion without quitting your job: Start a side hustle. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of full-time workers in the survey say they want to start such a passion project in addition to their regular job. However, only 37% have actually done so.

Side hustle stumbling blocks

What’s holding the majority of people back from pursuing their passions? Starting a side business has several barriers to entry:

1. Some 37% of survey respondents say lack of money, startup capital, or resources is keeping them from starting a side hustle.

2. One-third (33%) say they don’t have enough time to start one.

3. One in five (20%) admit they are overwhelmed by the steps involved in launching a side business or simply don’t know where to start.

Fortunately, all of these issues are easy for most people to overcome. All you’ve got to do is put your mind to it.

Other Articles From AllBusiness.com:

Starting a side hustle

How can you overcome common challenges and make your side hustle real? Let’s take a look at the obstacles one by one.

Obstacle 1: Lack of money/resources

There are more ways to start a business (especially a side business) on a shoestring than ever before. Look around and see what resources you have. For example, if you have a hobby you want to turn into a side hustle, do you have the equipment and materials you need to get started? Try starting with what you have and then putting your profits back into the business to keep growing. If you have a laptop, there are dozens of businesses you can start with that alone.

Also assess your skills, experience, and talents, and brainstorm ways you can turn these resources into a side hustle. (If your side hustle idea is related to your current job, make sure you aren’t breaking any noncompete clauses or other legal agreements you may have signed with your employer.)

Of course, even a shoestring startup still needs a little bit of startup capital. To find it, go over your budget to see where you can cut costs. Most likely, by reducing spending on “extras” such as streaming subscriptions, eating out, and retail therapy, you can quickly build up a sufficient startup fund. If that’s not enough, consider moving in with a roommate or even moving home with your parents. (Need inspiration? Check out this post on how to finance a startup on minimum wage.)

Obstacle 2: Lack of time

If you want to get your side hustle off the ground, you’ll have to make some sacrifices. Depending on your current job and life situation, that might mean getting up early or staying up late to work on your side business when your kids are asleep, cutting back on your social life and working on your side hustle instead of meeting friends for drinks, or devoting your weekends to your startup.

However, chances are you can find a couple of extra hours in each day simply by giving up social media, watching TV, or mindlessly surfing the internet. Put that time to better use by working on your side hustle instead.

Obstacle 3: Not knowing where to start

Starting a business—even a part-time side business—can seem overwhelming. Fortunately, there are lots of free and low-cost resources out there to help you. One of my favorites is SCORE.

SCORE is a nationwide network of experienced mentors who provide free advice, consulting and guidance to startup and existing small business owners. SCORE mentors offer services in person at your local SCORE office and host a wide range of events in the community. What makes SCORE ideal for someone starting a side hustle: they offer a full range of online services, including online/email consulting, live and recorded webinars, and online courses in every aspect of starting and running a business.

Other startup resources to check out include the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) network and the SBA.

What are you waiting for?

Almost half (47%) of Americans in the YouGov and Volusion survey say being their own boss would be worth taking a pay cut. Start a side hustle, and maybe you can have the best of both worlds.

(Disclosure: SCORE is a client of my business.)

RELATED: Do What You Love? Entrepreneurs Spill the Truth About Starting and Running Businesses

The post How to Turn Your Side Hustle Idea Into a Real Business appeared first on AllBusiness.com

The post How to Turn Your Side Hustle Idea Into a Real Business appeared first on AllBusiness.com. Click for more information about Rieva Lesonsky.

More tips on having a business, ok?

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What’s your best advice for deciding how much time to spend on creating your own brand vs. monitoring the competition?

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.

1. Focus on What’s Best for Your Brand

The most important thing about building a personal brand is to build the right one for you and your business. I wouldn’t worry about competitors or even other entrepreneurs as every person and company is different. If you see someone do something really smart or see them continually collecting speaking engagements, etc., perhaps then look at mirroring success, but overall, focus on you. – Carlo Cisco, SELECT

2. Lead — Don’t Follow

If you spend too much time investigating what others are doing, you’ll end up following their lead. People with great personal brands didn’t build them by spending all day watching other people’s social media. They observed the world, thought and then created content from an authentic position. Spend your time creating worthwhile content that justifies its own existence. – Justin Blanchard, ServerMania Inc.

3. Create a Comparison List

Create a comparison list with your top few competitors so you know your strengths and weaknesses. Be thorough and include every feature, big and small. Once you have your list, there’s no need to spend more time comparing, because you can now focus on your strengths to continue widening the gap and fill in any holes you’ve found. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

4. Make a List of Questions

Monitoring your competition will eat up less of your time if you can streamline exactly what information is pertinent to you and what you’re seeking to gain from said information. Making a list of questions to ask yourself as a standardized guideline should provide you with a model that allows you to predict and plan how much time you need and want to dedicate to your competitive research.  – Matthew Podolsky, Florida Law Advisers, P.A.

5. Focus on What Motivates You

Does monitoring your competition inspire you and give you great ideas? Great! Do it more often. Does it make you feel discouraged? Limit it, and focus on your own brand instead. It’s really that simple for me. Your motivation, passion and drive are the most important elements of your success, so focus on activities that feed them, and limit activities that drain them. – Amine Rahal, Little Dragon Media

6. Create an 80/20 Rule

It can be tough to balance the time you spend working on your own projects and studying the competition since both are extremely important. My rule is simple: spend 80% of my time actually working and making progress and spend 20% of my time researching competitors. This way, I’m not out of the loop, but I’m also not lagging behind. – Bryce Welker, CPA Exam Guy

7. Learn From Others

Evaluate your personal brand based on a cursory look at the competition. If you think yours is up to snuff, then monitoring the competition shouldn’t take up that much of your time. If you feel that a lot of work is in order, pay more attention, and see what you can learn from those around you. – Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

8. Use Analysis Tools, and Check Them Monthly

I usually check my competition on a monthly basis to see what new campaigns they’ve launched, what market shifts may have occurred or how they’re complying with certain regulations. Checking on your competition on a daily basis is usually counterproductive because you want to be creating your own unique business. – Shu Saito, Godai Soaps

9. Create Google Alerts

Creating Google Alerts for your competition is a good way to monitor their activity without spending too much time searching the web and browsing profiles. You’ll get a Google Alert anytime they post something or are mentioned on the web, and you can quickly check it out instead of taking up too much time doing the digging yourself. – John Turner, SeedProd LLC

10. Pick a Top Five

To avoid spending too much time monitoring the competition, pick a top five. Choose only five of your biggest competitors or your biggest inspirations, and just check in on what they’re doing. This way, you’ll only be watching five relevant personal brands instead of surfing the web and checking out everybody. – Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights

11. Don’t Bother Monitoring Your Competition

When it comes to personal branding, the vast majority of people who spend time on it are doing it wrong, so why would you waste time monitoring them? Ask yourself: Is the competition experiencing significant growth/success as a direct result of their branding? Usually, the answer is no. Assuming it’s no, budget your time exclusively on creating content and finding distribution for it. – Brandon Harris, NuMedia

The post 11 Tips for Creating Your Brand vs. Observing Competitors appeared first on Personal Branding Blog – Stand Out In Your Career.