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15 Ice Breakers That Instantly Connect You with Anyone at Work and Party

15 Ice Breakers That Instantly Connect You with Anyone at Work and Party

We’ve all faced being the “newbie” one time or another. New to school, new in college, new at work or even moving into a new neighborhood – or simply being a new face leading or moderating a session. Whilst we may be great talkers with our friends, introducing ourselves to new faces and basically trying to “belong” into a group can end up making most nervous.

We are afraid of saying the wrong thing and making really awful first impressions so more often than not we dither and feel awkward, especially if the group you want to have a conversation with seems tight knit. The solution: try some tested and trusted ice breakers.

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When Would You need Ice Breakers?

Think of all the situations you’ve ever been in when you were the one needing to introduce yourself to a group or just some new faces. It could have been at school or college, at work or in a gym, at a conference or a training session, at a meeting or even at the PTA meeting – standing in one corner and feeling awkward never helped, did it? But a smile and a witty opening often did – and so ice breakers come in handy anytime you want people to feel comfortable with you and listen to you, or have a conversation with you.

In large groups like meetings and training sessions, ice breakers help people engage with each other and get cracking [1]. Ice breakers are supposed to do multiple things:

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  • Thaw the ice: The ice is usually the fact that the people in the group (including you) haven’t met and interacted with each other.
  • Turn the participants into contributors: Be it a training session or just a conversation, ice breakers are meant to draw people out of their shells and contribute their bit to the interaction.
  • Create commonality and connection: Ice breakers should basically use a common factor that all the people in the group share – think of common things that could warm up the group and get them excited and involved, as a group.

15 Ice Breakers That Truly Thaw the Chill

Ice breakers can be categorized in various ways – suited to smaller groups or larger audiences, or ice breakers that are activity based, interest based, party based or simple introductory ones as well [2]. So now that you know the basics of icebreakers, let’s list out 15 tried, trusted and tested ice breakers that many public speakers and experts often use, as and when needed.

At Work: Introductory Ice Breakers For Sessions and Training

These are used when an oddball mix of a group comes together, and most are strangers to each other. Introductory ice breakers set the ball rolling, so as to speak and help shake off that awkward “I don’t know you from Adam” feeling..

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  • A Little Known Fact: Suitable for groups ranging from 10 to 20. In this introductory ice breaker, you ask each group member to list out their names, departments, years or service, what they do and one little known fact about themselves – usually, this incites many a laugh since people do try and be funny about their “facts”.
  • In One Word: Another way to get the ball rolling is by introducing a pertinent subject and then asking all the members of the group, to state their feelings about it in just one word, one by one. You will see a few smiles, some head shakes and plenty nods in this one.
  • Try Something Fun: Ice breakers don’t always have to be relevant for the meet/session afterwards, they are just there to get some laughs out and get the attention on you, the speaker. So to make a training session (that most participants might be dreading in all honesty) fun, start with a wacky question that gets people laughing even before the question. Like which animal/vegetable/Transformer/Barbie/GoT character would you be and why, if you were one! [3].
  • Twinkly, Shiny Work Moments: Ask each member of the group to stand up, introduce themselves and what they do, and then talk about the three best work movements they ever had. Invariably people will mention an award or achievement, a brainstorm moment they had and often, a time when everybody else pitched in to help him or her and proved that people can be friends at workplaces too.
  • Five of Anything: You can use ice breakers like these to spilt large groups into more manageable groups of three to five, to get the conversation started. But remember, get the participants to switch places – maybe one of each department in each group so as to get actual interaction rather than friends sitting with friends. Then ask each member to talk about five of anything to the others, till each member has had a turn. It could be anything, best novels, worst movies, favorite flowers, the best/worst things about the workplace… Finally one volunteer from each group will take notes and then read out everything to the whole group – generating plenty of laughs along the way [4].
  • Pass The Toilet Paper: So bathroom humor never gets old, no matter how old you get. To play this game, pass a roll of toilet paper around a group sitting in a circle telling them to take as much as they need. Everyone laughs at the amount people take, and once the roll is finished and everyone has had a go, you drop the bomb. For each piece of toilet paper taken, the person has to tell the group something about himself or herself that the others don’t know.
  • If I Could: Ask people to think about a situation – something they read, they saw – and talk about it for 2 minutes, and basically share their dreams, possible or impossible, with the group.

At A Party: Ice Breakers That Double Up As Hilarious Games

Getting a group of people together at a party often means a group of varied ages, interests, backgrounds and such, so the best way to get the party started, so as to speak, is get in a few of these ice breakers [5].

  • Groups That Draw Together: Get people to form random groups (every one wearing red, or all who love Johnny Depp) of equal numbers. Now hand each group a sheet of paper, a pencil and some colors and ask them to draw something, together. Each group can be given the same subject to draw on. Each member gets 60 seconds to draw something and then passes the same sheet to the next who continues the drawing, and so on and so forth. The group that finishes first, wins!
  • Doctor, I Have A Strange Disease: This game can either be played in one group of 10-15 people, or split into groups of 4-5 if there’s more of a crowd. One person acts out, in a silly and over the top manner, as a person with an illness, and the others have to guess the illness
  • My Other Half: This works well for large groups with people who don’t know much about each other. Make couple cards (think Adam & Eve, Romeo & Juliet, Bonnie & Clyde, etc) – write one name on each card with no repeats. Hand each guest one card – the game is that they have to find their other half by asking other guests yes or no questions only. The first couple to “complete themselves” wins.
  • Tell Us A Story: Draw a large grid square on a sheet of paper and in the four quadrants, write four fun topics: your worst date, the worst work day, the time you were most embarrassed and a vacation gone wrong. Guests line up and toss a coin at the quadrant, and then have to recite a story about the topic they “chose”. The funnier the better.
  • Do You Have? You can split a large group of guests into teams and then give each team a pre-prepared list of things to produce from their purses and pockets (think coins, $100 dollar bill, a baby picture, bifocals, a condom). Limited time and the team with everything or almost wins.
  • Animal Sounds: Each guest is handed one of a pair of cards, with an animal’s name on it, and on random and in secret, another guest is handed a duplicate of the same. Guests walk around making the sounds and doing the actions of those animals till they find their partner.
  • Nutty Questions, Nuttier Answers: Write zany questions on separate chits of paper – things like “Do you like potatoes?” Then on separate chits of paper, write equally zany answers like, “I have only one dream, and that’s it”. Stack the piles on each side of a table and split the group into two. One participant from the question group picks a chit and reads it, while one participant from the answer groups reads an answer – making for some really zany conversation!
  • Who Am I? Simple, easy but fun to do. Write the names of cartoon character on chits of paper, fold them and put them into a bowl. Now ask people to fish out chits one by one and then try and enact that character (think Goofy, Donald Duck, Betty Boop, Spock, Captain Jack Sparrow), while the others have to guess the name. Make the characters as funny and colorful as possible for some hilarious fun.

And you don’t have to limit yourself to just these ideas. If you are the host, think of the most fun you had at a party and take inspiration from there. And if it’s in the office, well, it doesn’t have to be a boring meeting, does it?

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Reference

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Published on December 13, 2018

How to Start a Company from Scratch (A Step-By-Step Guide)

How to Start a Company from Scratch (A Step-By-Step Guide)

If you’ve ever thought about starting and running your own business, you’re not alone. Being your own boss, having flexibility with your schedule and keeping more of the financial rewards that come with business ownership are all good reasons to own your own company.

But as you might expect, it’s not all vacations and fat bank accounts. According to the SBA, 2/3 of businesses survive at least 2 years and approximately 50% survive 5 years.[1] So why is the failure rate so high? At least for the businesses that fail early on, lack of, or poor planning can be a major factor.

So how to start a company?

Starting a business from scratch doesn’t have to be hard or complicated, but it does take planning and work. Here are the first and most important 9 steps to take when your are starting a company from scratch.

1. Do an Honest Evaluation of Yourself

Do you work better in a structured or unstructured environment? Does a daily routine reduce your anxiety? What kinds of things are you good at? Does public speaking or making presentations make you nervous? Are you good at accounting and numbers? Can you handle the rejections you’re bound to get when selling or cold calling?

These are all important questions to ask yourself, in fact it’s a good idea to get other peoples opinion about their perception of you in each of these situations.

Whatever the answers you come up with for your evaluation, remember that’s all it is, an evaluation of where you are now. Think of it as a way to identify both your areas of strength and weaknesses.

You maybe good at public speaking which can help when raising money, but bad at accounting which just means that you’ll need to find some kind of help with that area of the business.

2. Evaluate Your Idea

If your business idea involves a new product or service (or even an enhancement to an existing product or service), it needs to be evaluated. This is technically called market research.

There are firms that specialize in doing market research for new products, but if you are on a tight budget, you can do this yourself.

First, if you can build a prototype for people to use, touch and look at that’s the best option. If a prototype is not possible or it’s a service business, then offer a highly descriptive presentation of the business plan complete with it’s unique benefits and how it’s different from the competition.

Then listen! Remember that this is not about others liking your product, this is not your baby that they are talking about. You want honest market research that gives you the best chance for a successful business. Take notes, when someone tells you that they didn’t like a feature or some aspect of your idea tell them ‘Thank you”.

After several rounds of market research with different groups of people, you should see patterns emerging about things that they both liked and didn’t like. Use this information to tweak your product or service and do another round of market research.

Keep in mind that you’ll never come up with a universally loved product, your job is to produce a product or service that appeals to the broadest range of your target market.

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3. Make a Business Plan

I know, I know this isn’t the “fun” part of starting your own business, but it is an very important step in creating a successful business!

Basically, you can think of a business plan as an outline or blueprint of your business. A good business plan should have the following elements:

  • Executive Summary – This should lay out the businesses product or service and the problem that it solves for the consumer.
  • Market Evaluation – This should talk about the market you are serving. Is it an expanding market, and how does your product better fulfill the consumers in that market.
  • Market Strategies – How are you going to penetrate the market and sell your product.
  • Operational Plan – How will the company run from day to day? Who are the key employees and what are their specific rolls. Do your key players have specific goals set for them in advance?

A final word on making a business plan: while lying is never acceptable especially when you are using the business plan to raise money, it is acceptable to “put your best foot forward”.

Playing up the positives while minimizing the negatives is almost expected in a business plan.

Besides, banks as well as professional investors will both do a more in-depth analysis before investing any money into your idea.

4. Decide on a Business Structure

You have many options here, and discussing them with your accountant or financial adviser is really the only way to know what’s right for you. But just to give you a quick rundown of the types of business entities and their pros and cons we will briefly go through them:

Sole Proprietorship

This is a common way for small businesses to get started.

The pros being:

Relatively low costs to set up (usually a business license and sales tax license).Owners normally do not have to set up a special bank account, they are allowed to use their personal one. Any income earned can be offset by other losses (check with your state!). You as the sole proprietor have complete control over all decision making. 

Finally, sole proprietorship’s are relative easy to dissolve.

The cons of using a sole proprietorship include:

You as the sole proprietor can be held personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the company. Some benefits, such as health insurance premiums, are not directly deductible from business income.

If you need to raise money, you are not allowed to sell an equity stake in the company. In that same vein, hiring key people maybe more difficult because you cannot offer them an equity stake in the company.

Partnership

A partnership is formed when two or more people decide to start a business. Although there is no legal requirement for any documentation to form a partnership, it is my advice that you never enter into a partnership without having a partnership agreement. (Remember, spending $1500 now can save you $150,000 in legal fees later!).

The pros of a partnership include:

Being relatively easy and inexpensive to start. Hiring key employees can be easier as you are allowed to give equity ownership to as many partners as you want.

For tax purposes, partnerships are relative simple as any income is treated as “pass through” meaning that each partner pays tax on their individual portion of the partnerships income (As of this writing, always check with your tax adviser).

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As far as the cons go:

It can be difficult for some general partnerships to raise capitol. Because it is a partnership, the actions of one of the partners can obligate the entire organisation. All profits must be shared according to the partnership agreement regardless of the amount of work done by any single partner.

Some employee benefits may not be able to be deducted on income tax returns.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

This is a very popular business entity for small to medium sized businesses. The reason for this is the cost of set up is not prohibitive and there is a separation between the owners and the company.

The pros of an LLC include:

Limited liability for the partners, unlike sole proprietorship’s and partnerships where the owners are held responsible for all of the companies debts and liabilities, an LLC provides some protection against certain debts and liabilities that are solely the companies.

Simple taxation, just like the sole proprietorship and partnerships, income is considered “pass through” and is only taxed once on an individual level.

There is no limit on the number of shareholders in an LLC. An LLC requires fewer fillings and administrative requirements than a corporation.

Corporation

A corporation is much more complex and expensive to set up. And a corporation is legally considered an independent entity that is separate from its owners.

The pros of a corporation include:

Complete separation between the owners and the company. Because the corporation is considered its own legal entity, owners can not be held personally responsible for any debts or liabilities of the company.

A corporation can raise capital much easier just by selling more shares in the company.

Cons of corporations include:

Much higher administrative costs than any other business entity. Corporations generally have a higher tax rate. Dividends are not tax deductible for corporations. Income paid in dividends is taxed twice, once by the corporation and again by the shareholder.

Again, this is just a short summary of the pros and cons, always check with your tax adviser about what will work best in your situation.

5. Address Finances

Again, not one of the “Sexier” parts of starting your business from scratch, but very important nonetheless.

So, you’ve done your business plan and an estimate of your start up funding should be included. It should include the amount of funding you’ll need to get you through your first full year of operations.

Now, how do you get that money?

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Self Funding

If possible, self funding is the easiest. You won’t have to go to banks and investors with hat in hand, or give up ownership or control of your company. But as we know, this is not a reality for most people. But don’t worry, there are still plenty of options available.

Friends and Family

They can be a good source of funding your business if they can see and understand your vision.

Remember that business plan? Pass them out to everyone you know. Then follow up, be prepared to tell them the total amount of money you expect to raise, the minimum investment you are looking for and what you will give in return for the investment.

For example, you give a friend your business plan and follow up with him/her a few days later. You can explain that you have secured funding for $80,000 of the $100,000 you need. You are selling a 2% share in the company for every $2,000 investment. How many shares would he like?

And when he/she tells you no, thank him/her and ask if he/she can think of anyone off the top of his head who might be interested? Tell him/her you really appreciate his/her time and if he/she does come across someone who might be interested to let you know.

Banks

These guys are happy to lend you money when you don’t need it, but all of the sudden they get stingy when you actually need a loan! This is where preparation comes in.

It’s a good idea to go over your business plan with an expert and maybe even have it rewritten by an expert before you approach either a bank or professional investor. Both will want to go over your business plan with a fine tooth comb, verifying all the numbers and data you provide.

You should also brush up on everything in the plan so that you can answer any questions they have with authority.

Crowdfunding

Finally, there is crowdfunding through sites like Kickstarter or GoFundMe. Crowdfunding helps to build interest, community spirit, and a customer base. It’s also an efficient way to raise funds. You can take a look at these tips to find out more:

6 Crowdfunding Tips To Get Your Project 100 Percent Funded

6. Register with the Government

As stated earlier, different types of business entities have different filling and administrative requirements. At the very least, you’ll probably need a business license as well as a state sales tax license.

Unless you are forming a corporation, there are many good resources on the web that will do everything for you at a minimal cost.

7. Assemble Your Team

Remember when we evaluated your strengths and weaknesses? Here is where we fill in the gaps!

Do you hate sales and cold calling? Great! There are people who love selling and wouldn’t want to do anything else.

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Bored to death with accounting? There are a ton of small accounting firms out there that will take care of that for you.

What about marketing? You can hire someone in-house or out-source that too.

Your job is to keep on top of all the different aspects of the business to make sure they are all running smoothly and getting the results you need. If not, it’s your job to figure out the problem and implement a solution.

Check out this guide and learn how to delegate effectively:

How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

8. Buy Insurance

No matter what kind of business you start, you need insurance! Yes, I know, no one likes to buy insurance, but it can literally be the difference between having a minor inconvenience and declaring bankruptcy.

We live in a very litigious time, even a minor slip and fall at your place of business could bankrupt you without insurance. If you need help finding a good agent, check with your local trade organizations or fellow business owners.

9. Start Branding Yourself

Has anyone ever ask you for a Kleenex or a QTip? We all know what they are because of branding, Kleenex is just a brand of tissue and QTip is just a brand of cotton swab. It doesn’t have to be as widely known as Kleenex or QTip, but you can make your brand a common name within your niche.

I once owned a manufacturing company that developed a product that was so popular that my competitors started co-opting my brand name for their products.

If you aren’t sure how to kickstart branding yourself, check out these ways:

5 Ways to Build your Personal Brand & Make More Money

The Bottom Line

Starting a business from scratch can be one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have.

But do you know what’s even more rewarding? Having a business that succeeds, is profitable and provides a good source of income for you, your employees and their family’s.

More Resources About Entrepreneurship

Featured photo credit: Tyler Franta via unsplash.com

Reference

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