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7 Success Hacks for Budding Entrepreneurs

7 Success Hacks for Budding Entrepreneurs

Being your own boss can be both fun and rewarding but don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t hard work. Several years back I started my very first business, and the memories are still as vivid today as when it happened.

Indeed, I can recall the feeling that I had after filing my articles of incorporation with the Secretary of State. It was like, ‘So now that it’s official, what do I do now?’ Fortunately, I was very lucky to have made mistakes early enough to catch them and make my corrections. But it wasn’t easy. However, the good news is that today I’m going to let you know everything I wish I’d known then about what to do after starting a business. Let’s get started!

After you officially launch your business, it won’t be long before you find yourself wondering what to do next. If your launch is anything like mine, the weird thing about trying to map out a game plan isn’t necessarily that you don’t have anything to do. You might even find that there’s so much that just trying to decide what to do first triggers analysis paralysis.

If I could do it all over again here’s how I’d tackle my new business checklist.

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1. Ready Yourself for Growth and Success

While on the face of it managing growth might either

a) seem like a great problem to have or

b) like the type of problem that you only worry about when you’re actually facing it.

Nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, the irony of it is that quick, unexpected sales growth could be just as detrimental to your business as no revenues at all! If it all sounds a bit far-fetched, consider this news from one of the most widely recognized business publications in the world – the Harvard Business Review – which cited the inability to handle growth as one of the biggest problems faced by new businesses. To support this observation, they referenced several examples of startups who hurt themselves by not responding adequately to the unexpected growth.

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Here’s what you need to know about growth hacking for the unexpected.

If you haven’t already done so, you’ll want to be 100% certain that your method of production can be scaled; this applies both to companies who supply products or services. One way you can tell if you’re sufficiently capable of handling rapid growth is to ask yourself if your current production process could withstand 100 more orders – should they come in right now. If the answer is no, then you know that you need to scale your production procedure.

2. Have a Sales Team in Place

If you run a sales driven company, it’s critical that you find ways to generate sales – day in and day out. Without a doubt having a knowledgeable sales force in place to close deals is one of the best ways to achieve regular sales.

3. Become an Expert in Your Market

If you have a sound understanding of the fundamentals that drive sales for your industry, you’ll be in a position to stay a step ahead of the competition. One way to do this is to stay plugged into what’s going on in the industry. Of course, if you have an internet connection, it is remarkably easy to follow the trends that matter.

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While not everyone wants to prepare themselves to be ready for the worst, so many new companies go out of business because they weren’t ready to experience success.

4. Don’t Over-Rely on Your Company Launch for Sales

It’s so easy to adopt the mindset that your launch buzz will follow you into the post-launch phase. However, remember that this does not have to be the case and it usually isn’t. In fact, after that first round of PR wears off, you should prepare yourself to fight for every second or word of publicity that you receive.

Sadly, that initial buzz will wear off quicker than you think, so be ready. Another thing is that the sooner you internalize your new business’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP), the faster you can position yourself for long-term growth. Here are some things you can do to keep the sales rolling in longer after your initial launch.

Hire a professional sales person. Thanks to sites like Upwork and Freelancer, finding top sales talent is closer within reach than you probably thought. Nonetheless, it’s critical that you remember ever to be on the lookout for good talent in this area, as you never know when you may need to hire another sales person. Upon finding your sales pro, be prepared to train and equip them with a realistic quota.

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5. Maintain a Positive Outlook

Once you fully transition from being a startup to being a full-fledged business with a track record under your belt, it’s important that you maintain your enthusiasm. Why? There will be days where things simply don’t go your way and when they come it’s essential that you meet them head on.

6. Consistently Seek New Networking Opportunities

While you may have a core of customers that keeps the gears churning for your business, you never want to rely on them as you never know when they might disappear. The key to not being too dependent on long-standing customers is to acquire new customers on a regular basis.

So let this be a reminder always to be selling. But it won’t happen unless you make sales the focus of your business. And remember, it doesn’t matter how much success you’ve already achieved, so long as you intend to stay in business, you should always be bringing new customers onboard.

7. Additional Considerations for Your Startup

  • Connect with Like-minded People Online: Building a business can get lonely sometimes. Things can get so quiet that if you’re not careful, you could find yourself drifting into depression. One way to offset this is to find a community of others in your field that you can reach out to when you want to talk. An added benefit of employing this strategy is that it can sometimes help you find new customers as every now and then you may stumble across someone who refers you business because they’re too busy to take on new work.
  • Banking: Banking is something that you want to establish even before you start your business. If you haven’t already had an opportunity to build a banking relationship, now is the time to do so.
  • Decide Whether an Office is Necessary: Unlike years past where not having an office meant that you might not be taken seriously, in the present day and age, many businesses opt for a virtual presence. So depending on your market, a physical presence may not be necessary. However, if you work in an industry where your audience expects you to have a storefront or physical location, just know that there are options. For example, if you’re on a shoe-string budget, you can rent a shared space or something similar.
  • Establish a Web Presence. If you’re still using a free email provider for your email address, please stop as this is one of the best ways to brand yourself as a newcomer. Instead, get a branded email. They are now easier than ever to get and are often very affordable. The same can be said of your website. If you don’t already have a site, go ahead and build or order one now. In fact, even if you’re low on funds and don’t possess web design experience, starting a website has never been easier as most website builder platforms allow you to drag and drop.

There you have it. While this list certainly wasn’t meant to be comprehensive, it at least covers the key areas. Armed with this list of ‘to dos’ you should now have a clear idea of what to do next.

Featured photo credit: readbrightly.com via readbrightly.com

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Last Updated on November 5, 2019

5 Learning Management Systems (LMS) for Effective Learning

5 Learning Management Systems (LMS) for Effective Learning

Businesses rely on talent to generate and sell value. Without skilled people to create its products, manage its operations and execute its strategies, a business would inevitably fizzle out of the game and leave better-staffed competitors to take the field.

This is the reason why ambitious companies go great lengths to attract top talent,[1] shelling out millions of dollars in the process and bending traditional work policies just to bring highly skilled but demanding candidates into the fold.

Clearly, the contours of business are changing. But so are the demographics of work.

Millennials have become the dominant generation in the job market in terms of population, and some have already transitioned into leadership roles. Most millennials consider opportunity to learn and grow more important than overall compensation.[2]

Companies also today expect employees to come equipped with razor sharp business acumen.[3] Unfortunately, there is an alarming discrepancy between the actual skills businesses need and those currently possessed by job candidates.

To stay in the game, employers need to continually upgrade their training and skills development strategies to cover the entire employee lifecycle.

What are Learning Management Systems (LMS)?

Learning management systems are software-based solutions for authoring, presenting, consuming, storing, and tracking educational content and training materials. These systems aim to centralize all instructional content (e.g., lessons, training modules, instructional videos, presentation slides, worksheets, online quizzes, ebooks, takeaway notes, etc.) in one place.

LMS enable instructors to design and deliver learning experiences to students, with the added capability of evaluating the effectiveness of the instructional materials and grading the learning progress of students.

On the other side of the equation, learners use LMS to develop skills and acquire new knowledge virtually anytime and anywhere via the different channels and content formats made possible by digital technology.

Over the years, a wide range of features and technologies have been integrated into learning management systems to help enhance the experience of training designers, instructors, and learners. These include cloud and mobile technology, artificial intelligence, responsive design, scheduling, gamification, data analytics, and interoperability with other applications.

5 Best All-Purpose Learning Management Systems

There are dozens of LMS vendors catering to the general market or to specific segments such as K-12 learning, higher education, and corporate training.

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With so many options available, selecting the right LMS solution for your needs can be complicated and costly, especially when you end up adopting a platform that doesn’t exactly match your goals or requirements.

Short of conducting a comprehensive audit of your needs and finalizing a learning roadmap, the safest bet would be to adopt full-featured but affordable LMS solutions.

Based on user reviews, here are the 5 best LMS to help people gain knowledge, build skills, and achieve mastery:

1. Canvas Network

Launched by Instructure as an open source software in 2011, Canvas is an end-to-end cloud-based service originally engineered for the education sector.

Widely adopted for K-12 and Higher Ed learning, Canvas can be repurposed for anything that involves an instructor, a subject matter, and a student.

Used around the world by people of all ages and organizations of all types, Canvas arguably has the largest learning and support community in its class. It works on desktop computers, tablets and mobile phones.

To get a glimpse of the platform’s fresh interfaces, you can visit the Canvas Network, a learning community that provides educational and instructional materials created by colleges, universities, corporate businesses, independent course developers, and other knowledge-sharing entities around the world.

Hosting hundreds of interesting topics from data science to horticulture, the learning network also serves as evidence to the scope, capabilities, and popularity of the Canvas LMS platform.

Canvas is hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure, which enhances the platform’s reliability, speed, scalability, and overall online performance.

Additionally, platform adopters enjoy a low-risk environment since cloud-based solutions require no hard stops for version updates, upgrades, or system migrations.

The Canvas website does not show a price matrix but says the service adopts a simple formula for computing fees: a one-time implementation fee and an annual subscription fee based on total number of users. It also promises free basic services for teachers who want to use the platform.

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In addition to Canvas, Instructure also offers Bridge (an LMS designed for corporate environments), Arc (a video platform for online learning), and Gauge (an assessment management system).

Check out this video if you want to learn more about Canvas Network:

2. Google Classroom

This free service from Google aims to improve the teaching and learning process using cloud technology, web apps, workflow simplification, and seamless communication between students and instructors.

Using Classroom, educators can easily create and schedule classes, distribute assignments, send feedback, and grade quizzes all in one place. By streamlining processes, Classroom helps teachers save time and organize classes more effectively. Both students and teachers can also work using any device anytime and anywhere.

Classroom works perfectly with other Google tools, having been launched initially as part of Google’s G Suite for Education. This LMS solution taps Google Drive for content storage and distribution, as well as Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides for the creation and sharing of instructional materials. Meanwhile it integrates Google Calendar for scheduling and Gmail for communication.

With G Suite, other communication channels such as chat messaging, video conferencing, and a dedicated website are enabled.

Easy to set up and manage, Google Classroom is free to use. One of my very first courses was actually hosted on Google Classroom.

Going beyond the classroom environment, Google offers G Suite Enterprise for Education for large institutions. This suite provides enhanced search and analytics capabilities as well as advanced tools for enterprise communications.

3. Moodle (Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment)

If budget and capability equally top your list of LMS adoption criteria, then Moodle might just fit the bill. Which is to say there’s none (i.e., bill).

Moodle is a free and open-source learning solution for distance education, workplace training, flipped classrooms, and other pedagogical environments.

It is also a full-featured LMS supported by a robust community and a thriving developer ecosystem. Not surprisingly, Moodle is used in more than 15 million courses by more than 130 million users in 230+ countries.

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Among other things, Moodle enables administrators and educators to create a dynamic and dedicated website to host organic, easily accessible, and highly customizable courses that can be experienced on desktops and mobile devices anytime and anywhere.

Moodle provides a personalized and intuitive dashboard as well as a host of collaboration tools for content designers, teachers, and learners. A universal calendar, an efficient file management system, an automatic notification system, multimedia integration, and a progress tracking tool all come with the package.

Check out this video if you want to learn more about Moodle:

4. Absorb

This platform recently bagged PC Magazine’s Editors’ Choice Award for Best LMS.

Co-designed and built by former course authors, Absorb takes learning experience to the next level. This turnkey LMS solution is responsive, full-featured, and highly customizable for maximum impact.

Course developers can orchestrate a wide range of experiences depending on audience or learning situation. In addition to surveys, polls, and e-commerce integration, Absorb supports formal online learning and certifications standards such as AICC, SCORM, and Tin Can.

The user interface can also be modified to match the learner’s location, group, or department, allowing for a different look and feel for customers, channel partners, management trainees, and newly hired employees.

Absorb supports all personal computing devices from desktops to mobile phones. There are also native or hybrid apps for iOS and Android.

The only possible drawback to the platform’s powerful feature set is its pricing. The service reportedly implements a flat, one-time setup fee depending on your business and training requirements. According to the site, any plan comes with a dedicated success team for your account.

Although small companies are welcome to try, midsize to enterprise-scale organizations are probably the best segment to readily adopt this LMS solution.

Take a look at some examples of Absorb in this video:

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5. Watershed Collaborative

Created by a group of educators, this nonprofit rethinks the priorities of an LMS, asserting that too many systems miss the most essential elements of what makes learning stick. They promise a better user experience – emphasizing Learning before Management and System.

Watershed aims to support an inquiry-based learning experience through an integrated mix of online and in-person learning strategies and interactions designed expressly for teams – including collaboration, reflection, and dialogue.

While Watershed was founded initially to serve the K-12 education market, the company has since expanded its scope to cater to all types of teachers and learners with its video-rich, state-of-the-art platform.

If you’re a mission-driven educator, content creator, institution, or business, this LMS may be the one for you.

Watershed specializes in assisting you with the instructional design of courses and provides content production services to ensure top-quality video assets with lasting value. Their LMS makes it easy for course creators to continuously update and tailor content to support small and large groups, while ensuring the technology and instructional strategy supports communities of learners.

Pricing varies based on products and services, but revenues support the nonprofit’s ability to make its platform and courses available at little or no cost for high-need educators and educational settings.

Honorable Mentions

There are dozens of LMS vendors in this growing market and the brands included in foregoing list are by no means the only viable options for companies or learning institutions looking to upgrade their learning infrastructure.

Many other excellent services are worth checking out. These include:

  1. Docebo is an LMS designed for hyper-engaging students, employees, customers, and other learners. The system helps organizations identify and resolve competency gaps with strategic learning interventions.
  2. Cornerstone OnDemand is a talent, training, and performance management solution offered as an SaaS (Software-as-a-Service). This service enables learners to create personalized playlists of instructional content.
  3. Lessonly is an LMS solution that makes it easier to recall and reinforce whatever skills or knowledge you have learned through quizzes, coaching, and constant practice.
  4. Skillsoft is an online training and corporate learning platform developed by a two-decade old and billion-dollar company with the same name.
  5. D2L BrightSpace is a learning management system that has all the basics for delivering excellent, rich-media experiences for classroom or workplace training.

Conclusion

There are many ways to learn but some are more effective and meaningful than others. Whether you are a teacher looking to enhance classroom learning or an HR manager creating a long-term talent development plan for employees, the key to impactful learning is to understand and bridge the needs of learners, the goals of your institution, and the actual capabilities of the learning tools you are considering.

Note that using multiple LMS platforms is possible although not recommended. On the other hand, adopting other learning solutions beyond LMS (such as podcasts, mentoring, and onsite in-person workshops) may significantly improve learning outcomes. Always go for products and plugins that seamlessly integrate into your core LMS tool.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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