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The Challenges of being an Online Entrepreneur

The Challenges of being an Online Entrepreneur
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Being an online entrepreneur requires more than just a website or blog where you gain revenue from ads. If you want to grow your business, you have to be ready for anything. This means being ready for small victories and huge setbacks. This also means having to focus on tasks like branding your business and finding ways to fulfill orders. As an online entrepreneur, you will be faced with decisions that involve building your market, expanding your connections, and making yourself more accessible to customers. If you’re ready to meet these challenges head on, then you’ll be successful as an online entrepreneur.

  1. You may win some, and you may lose some

Starting and building a business from the ground up are difficult endeavors, full of challenges along the way that you might not have ever expected. These challenges require decisions, and these decisions sometimes involve a dilemma, where a win-win outcome is not immediately recognizable.

When faced with a decision where none the choices appear to have a clear or foreseeable advantage, many entrepreneurs find it necessary to do some soul searching and self-reflection from a company standpoint. One of the hardest things is to analyze your business objectively, candidly identifying the flaws and problem areas that are holding you back.

Sometimes it helps to gain some outside perspective. Hiring a human resources company or efficiency expert to help streamline your operations may be helpful in finding out what your true strengths are. Do you have the appropriate company culture? It’s important that from the top down, the work environment reflects the results you want. How well do you understand the market you serve? You need to know your product and niche market inside and out, and a lot of the time, this comes with trial and error. Some of the decisions you need to make will be based on limited information at best, so being flexible will help you survive.

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2. Incorporating Data To Track Performance

Incorporating data simply means doing the math and crunching the numbers, and making a habit out of it. The numbers can be conversion rates, bounce rates, traffic percentage breakdowns and other pertinent, technical analysis. It can be a tedious job, but one of the most important tasks to internalize.

Online entrepreneurs that analyze the pertinent data, get insights from analytics, and act accordingly are the ones that perform well and ultimately become successful. Checking the metrics to focus on your business growth is what separates the successful from their failed comrades.

Track your data on a spreadsheet or whiteboard, showing a week-by-week difference in performance. This gives you some perspective of time, helping you and your team to understand what to prioritize.

3. Learning To Market Properly Online, Making Your Brand Cool As Hell

Be enthusiastic and passionate about your brand, products, and services. Your products reflect the energy that you’ve put into your work, and in turn, this fuels your energy to be more productive. For example, you may not notice it, but using the right fonts for your brand logo really helps when it comes to attracting your target customers. Keep an eye when it comes to details.

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Marketing and advertising tasks take a lot of time for research, so manage your time wisely. Research is a crucial step—get to know the other players in your niche industry, and see what they’re doing right as well as what they’re struggling with.

When the time comes, choose the right platform for your online business, one that offers the features you need while giving you access to the market that can most benefit from your offerings.

Be sure to promote your brand, engaging in paid advertising as needed, and keep tabs on whether doing this actually increases profits, or amounts to an unnecessary expense.

Get to know your market, its demographics, and their associated and outside interests. Appeal to them at several different levels to win them over.

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4. Competition and Choosing Your Allies

Because of low entry barriers and relatively easy access to funds, competition among online entrepreneurs is tougher than ever.

Many online entrepreneurs have a great idea in their heads, only to discover that someone has already beaten them to the punch. Hopefully, you’re the one dishing it out, not taking the blow. There will be others trying to reverse engineer your product and sell their product to your potential market. This is your chance to outshine them.

By complementing existing products of other companies, you position yourself as a partner or a collaborator, rather than a rival. This means choosing your battles wisely, which allows you to thrive, especially when dealing with someone in your industry who has a far greater following than you’ve got.

5. Security And Computer Knowledge (Or Lack Thereof)

Let’s be frank, if computer literacy is not your strong point, do something about it fast. Internet technology is showing no signs of letting up. Software is becoming even more sophisticated, and waiting around is not an option. At the very least, learn some online skills, or work with an IT professional to get up to speed.

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Security is essential for running an e-commerce site, meaning you need to monitor your security measures round the clock, and invest in reliable servers and networking hardware. One slip-up can spell disaster for your company’s credibility, so be vigilant.

6. Driving and Converting Traffic

There are many ways to drive traffic to your website, from promoting it via Google Adwords and Pay-Per-Click advertising, and writing natural, organic content. Of course, this requires time, just like many of the other challenges that you face as an online entrepreneur.

Converting traffic into cash is tricky, mostly because your customers, readers and website visitors might not be looking to buy. Integrate the commercial aspect of your website as naturally and unobtrusively as you can. Get to know what your visitors and readers really want by seeing what pages they visit, and which links they follow. Adapt accordingly.

To succeed as an entrepreneur online or as a brick-and-mortar establishment, it’s important to have drive. Learn as much as you can, and develop perseverance to get through the hardships. By overcoming obstacles, you can make it as a successful online entrepreneur.

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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