Category: Sales

Choosing a CRM

13 Salesforce CRM Alternatives That Will Enhance Your Sales…

Note: This article is authored by HubSpot.

Every weekend my husband and I face a difficult decision: What movie should we watch and what should we order for dinner?

As a sales leader, deciding which CRM to use can be just as challenging a decision.

To select the right CRM for your needs, you’ll probably compare features such as customizability, ease of use, and price.

Ultimately, you want to enhance your sales process without being burdened with overly complicated software.

If you’re looking for Salesforce CRM alternatives, review our list below to find an option that will supercharge your sales process and eliminate friction.

1. HubSpot

HubSpot CRM example of salesforce alternative

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Price: Free, $45/ mo (Starter), $450/ mo (Professional), $1,200/ mo (Enterprise)

HubSpot is a CRM platform that helps you align your internal teams, pull meaningful insights, and report on growth opportunities by combining Marketing Hub, Sales Hub, Service Hub, and CMS, along with hundreds of available integrations, to facilitate marketing, sales, and service processes. It’s ideal for all scaling businesses (SMB and enterprise alike) and any team (including marketing, sales, customer service, operations, or C-suite).

The CRM is exceptionally easy to use, automates manual tasks (data entry, data sync, and data updates) and it centers everything you do around your customers so you’re able to create remarkable customer experiences and improve the buyer’s journey. HubSpot syncs all interactions between you and any contact to that specific contact’s timeline. This creates a single source of truth for every member of your team, from sales to marketing to service to ops.

2. ActiveCampaign

activecampaign crm example of salesforce alternative

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Price: $9/ mo (Lite), $49/ mo (Plus), $129/ mo (Professional), $229/ mo (Enterprise)

ActiveCampaign is a sales CRM that’s ideal for businesses looking to automate time-consuming tasks such as lead prioritization, email marketing, and contact management. Contact data will be automatically updated and you can view your entire interaction and conversation history with any of your contacts in the CRM’s records.

The CRM also helps you determine which leads to focus most on with automated lead scoring — it uses win probability and segmentation to more easily identify those leads for you. There are also over 350 tools you can integrate with to seamlessly combine your current sales tools and data with your ActiveCampaign CRM.

Get the ActiveCampaign integration to keep your CRM data in two-way sync with HubSpot.

3. Zoho

zoho crm example of salesforce alternative

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Price: Free, $12/ mo (Standard), $20/ mo (Professional). $35/ mo (Enterprise), $45/ mo (Ultimate)

Zoho CRM comes with an AI-powered assistant, lead management tools, and reporting dashboards that provide insight into the sales metrics you care most about via desktop or mobile app. If your team conducts online sales meetings, Zoho has a feature that allows you to video conference as well as conduct webinars and other virtual meetings and conversations directly from the CRM.

The CRM’s Common Feeds feature makes it easy to collaborate with your team within the software — ask and answer questions, share reports and dashboards, and send deal-related updates so everyone stays in the loop. You can also select to receive notifications whenever your target audience members interact with your business so you can reach out when leads are already engaged.

Get the Zoho integration to sync your CRM, books, invoices, recruiting, and inventory data with HubSpot.

4. Freshworks

freshworks crm example of salesforce alternative

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Price: $15/ mo (Growth), $69/ mo (Pro), $125/ mo (Enterprise)

Freshworks CRM helps manage pipelines, tasks, and quotes. It has contract management tools as well as collaboration features that make teamwork, marketing and sales alignment, and internal communication simple. Streamline and automate tasks with the CRM’s AI-powered features including activity capture, lead scoring, and email.

Built-in phone and email allow you to conduct conversations with leads without ever having to leave the CRM. There are also lead insights that help you determine the engagement level of specific contacts and get context about their interest so you can more effectively tailor your sales pitches and conversations to their needs.

Get the Freshworks integration to keep Freshworks in two-way sync with HubSpot.

5. Pipedrive

pipedrive crm example of salesforce alternative

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Price: $12.50/ mo (Essential), $24.90/ mo (Advanced), $49.90/ mo (Professional), $99/ mo (Enterprise)

Pipedrive’s CRM makes it easy to visualize and manage your sales pipeline. Organize your deals in pipelines and then customize those pipelines so they’re tailored to your unique sales cycle. There are also deal pipeline collaboration features such as easy-to-make, shareable pipeline goals and reports.

Sync your email (Gmail, Outlook, etc.) with Pipedrive to handle email communication and keep records of those conversations in a single location with all of your other contact data. There are also over 200 integrations you can pair with your CRM to improve its functionality.

Get the Pipedrive integration to keep your CRM data in two-way sync across your apps.

6. Zendesk Sell

zendesk sell crm example of salesforce alternative

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Price: $19/ mo (Sell Team), $49/mo (Sell Professional), $99/ mo (Sell Enterprise)

While Zendesk is known for its customer support software, they also offer a sales-focused CRM meant to enhance productivity and automate day-to-day sales tasks. Gain visibility into your sales process by creating pipelines that are tailored to your specific business.

Zendesk Sell is also an ideal software for businesses looking to align sales and customer service teams. For example, if a service rep is speaking with a customer who has an issue, and that conversation then turns into more questions about a new product you sell, that rep can hand the conversation off to a sales rep from within Zendesk. This makes collaboration easy for your team but also offers a seamless experience for your customers.

Get HubSpot’s Zendesk Sell integration to sync your leads with Zendesk Sell platform.

7. Less Annoying CRM

less annoying crm example of salesforce alternative

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Price: $15/ user/ mo

Perhaps it can be intuited from the name, but Less Annoying CRM’s goal is to provide an easy-to-use CRM for small businesses to manage contacts and track leads. All of your contact information is kept on a single dashboard where you can also add notes, files, events, tasks, and more.

The CRM includes a calendar — which integrates with Google Calendar — with tasks that you can set to stay organized and keep track of your conversations and follow-ups with leads. To ensure you stay on top of your conversations and interactions with leads, the CRM’s pipeline will provide the priority of each lead, their contact details, and any information from previous interactions you had with that lead.

8. Thryv

thryv crm example of salesforce alternative

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Price: Pricing available on request.

Thryv is a CRM that’s ideal for small businesses. It combines sales automation, marketing automation, and reputation management. All of your contacts are centrally located with easy-to-use filtering, tagging, searching, and tracking features to help you manage those contacts.

The CRM shows you which channels leads came to you from so you can then engage them wherever they are. There’s also a dedicated customer portal through which your clients can complete payments, send your team messages, and share files. Your team can then respond through the portal to streamline all interactions and use one tool versus multiple.

9. Salesflare

salesflare crm example of salesforce alternative

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Price: $29/ mo (Growth), $49/ mo (Pro), $99/ mo 99

Salesflare is an easy-to-use CRM meant for small businesses selling B2B products and services. With a visual pipeline feature, it reminds sales reps about upcoming tasks so prospects don’t fall through the cracks.

The CRM pulls all contact information it can — from email signatures, social media profiles, emails, and past conversations — and automatically adds it into your records so you have all of the details about each of your contacts at your fingertips. It also connects with your calendar and mobile phone to help you manage and log your meetings and calls with leads and customers.

10. NetHunt CRM

nethunt crm example of salesforce alternative

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Price: $30/ mo (Professional), $34/ mo (Professional Plus), $60/ mo (Enterprise)

NetHunt CRM is unique because it completely integrates with your Gmail account. Meaning, all of your CRM data and functionality is paired with your Google email account so you can view and manage customer information, deal opportunities, email tracking, and email campaigns all from your CRM.

The CRM also easily integrates with your other Google Workspace apps. Additionally, NetHunt comes with a variety of common CRM functionality such as task and follow-up automation, reporting and analytics, and forecasting.

11. Microsoft Dynamics

microsoft dynamics example of salesforce alternative

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Price: $65/ user/ mo (Sales Professional), $95/ user/ mo (Sales Enterprise), $135/ user/ mo (Sales Premium), $162/ user/ mo (Microsoft Relationship Sales)

Microsoft Dynamics is a CRM and ERP software with social insights, cloud-based campaign management, and business intelligence (BI). The CRM can be delivered by cloud, it can be hosted, or it can be on-premises.

Microsoft Dynamics has a variety of apps that you can integrate to help you manage relationships with customers via a mobile device and sync data from social media and other business tools with your CRM. Real-time, AI-powered insights help you acquire qualified leads and understand your audience on a deep level. Dynamics bases these insights on behavioral, demographic, transactional, feedback, and engagement data to ensure they’re accurate and actionable.

Get the Dynamics integration to connect HubSpot to your Dynamic CRM for sales and marketing data alignment.

12. Keap

keap crm example of salesforce alternative

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Price: $79/ mo (Lite), $149/ mo (Pro), $140/ mo (Max)

Keap is a CRM with a number of sales and marketing tools to help you personalize all interactions, make appointments, track lead and contact data, and manage quotes. Personalize your outreach and customize and automate follow-up reminders and communication to ensure you’re reaching out (via email, phone, or SMS) when you need to.

The CRM’s Activity Stream is automatically updated whenever you interact with a contact so all interactions are up-to-date, accurate, and centrally located.

Get the Infusionsoft by Keap integration to keep your business and your contacts in two-way sync with HubSpot.

13. Bitrix24 CRM

bitrix24 example of salesforce alternative

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Price: Free, $19/ mo (Start +), $55/ mo (CRM+), $55/ mo (Project+), $79/ mo (Standard), $159/ mo (Professional)

Bitrix24 CRM tracks all of your interactions with leads, contacts, customers, partners, and more — all of this data is updated and kept in the tool’s contact database for you. Easily create and share reports and contacts, and segment your target audience with ease.

Choose to spread out all incoming contacts among your sales reps so there’s a steady workflow. Use the Activity Stream feature to take notes, send emails, place phone calls, create tasks, make meetings, and more, all without ever leaving the CRM. Lastly, choose whether to host your CRM on your server or by cloud.

Get the Bitrix24 integration to keep keep your CRM contacts & companies in two-way sync with HubSpot.

Choose Your CRM

Choosing a CRM can be a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be. The best thing to do is make a list of your must-haves and compare the possible tools to select the right software for your team. 

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in May 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Sales

Will Sales Teams Move Back Into the Office?

The world is a very different place than it was two years ago. Many of the changes we’re seeing now will stick around long after the pandemic has ended, including remote work and hybrid office environments.

Before COVID-19, remote work was commonly used as a benefit to attract employees. People who work from home report higher job satisfaction, higher salaries than on-site workers, and less stress.

A remote work model also benefits employers with reduced overhead costs and higher rates of employee productivity. Yet, 32% of companies across the globe still didn’t allow remote work prior to COVID-19.

As the global health crisis continues to ebb and flow, many businesses are wondering if an office is necessary at all.

Are offices still necessary?

The pandemic has forced many companies to embrace remote work and, for some, the transition may stick. As we wait to find out what the workplace will be like post-COVID-19, we anticipate a shift in how organizations view the office.

Before the pandemic, offices focused on having an environment where the main goal was getting to know and collaborate with as many people as possible. Companies were finding new ways to make their offices more unique and innovative, and employees were welcomed to the office with perks such as ping pong tables, free snacks, and more.

Within the last few months, companies have started to rethink the office space. Rather than a single fixed location, we expect to see companies embrace a broader definition of “workplace” to include both in-person offices and remote work locations.

This shift will lead to many businesses putting less money into the development of the office and more money into resources and technologies to ensure teams can be successful wherever they choose to work.

Whether you’re someone who spends most of your day on calls that you can easily take from home or a developer that needs access to better bandwidth than home internet companies can provide, it’s clear that the need for offices will always be circumstantial. What is unclear, however, is what future offices will look like, how often they will be used and by whom.

How are sales teams impacted by remote work?

Recently, sales teams have been leveraging virtual meeting tools like Zoom to conduct calls and face-to-face meetings to help build relationships with prospects or interact with colleagues. But the question still remains, without an office, what will happen to sales teams?

The global health crisis caused many sales organizations to quickly provide sellers with the resources needed to dive into remote selling and operate effectively and efficiently from home. Now every seller is an inside sales rep.

However, one thing has remained constant. No matter what the situation, buyers are still economically driven. Now, facing an economic downturn, we see this even more. Buyers are wondering how much a solution will cost, especially after dealing with reprioritizing projects and realigning budgets due to spending cuts.

Research from Gartner indicates that companies are cutting back on their technology spending while balancing conservatism with the need to drive digital transformation. Frugalnomics is in full effect, with many organizations seeking ways to reduce spending and do more with less in order to accelerate and capture growth post-COVID.

A sales enablement platform can help you quickly onboard and train a remote sales force. Like the rest of the world, you’re likely trying to figure out how to bounce back from the aftermath of COVID-19 and do it fast.

Selecting a technology that allows you to get up and running and easily see immediate improvements in sales efficiency and effectiveness is critical to achieving your business objectives.

How can sales teams continue to be effective?

Companies need to have confidence that their sellers are as effective working from home as they were interacting with customers, prospects, and colleagues face-to-face. Here are a few ways to shift your sales approach and smooth the transition to remote selling.

1. Implement interactive presentations.

When transitioning to remote sales meetings, many would argue that video conferencing is the best option. But is it enough? Video conferencing platforms like Zoom are intended to make conversations more organic, but only 12% of people feel as comfortable on video calls as they do phone calls, resulting in lower levels of engagement.

To avoid this, taking advantage of interactive and engaging presentations can amplify your prospective buyers interest and participation. Rather than putting your buyers to sleep with static presentations, an animated approach will make your product or service stand out against competitors.

2. Enhance sales through value selling.

Before a buying decision is made, prospects look to sellers to share information they don’t already know, especially in times of economic downturn or hardship.

Quantifying your product or service’s return on investment (ROI) will provide your buyer the information they need to sell your solution internally, to help prioritize and justify the allocation of budget to your proposal versus all others being considered.

Interactive value selling tools such as ROI and TCO calculators have been proven to increase win rates with 74% of customers buying from the first seller that can demonstrate a path to value.

3. Lean on remote learning.

Tools such as Learning Management Systems (LMS) make it easier to onboard and train remote sellers. An LMS like Lessonly, MindTickle™ or SAP Litmos can help you bring sales trainings online, allowing you to record and store training videos and distribute them to your sales teams no matter where they’re learning from. The “sales readiness” that a learning management system provides is proven to better prepare reps to sell and meet quotas.

It’s focused on giving them the knowledge they need to be effective in front of customers versus dropping a bunch of information they may or may not need to know all at once. Relying on modern LMS systems allows your sales organization to go beyond one-time training and onboarding.

Not only will organizations receive sales knowledge quicker, but your sellers will feel better prepared for sales interactions, especially while working from home.

There are still many unknowns about what the future of work looks like. Whether we’re remote or in the office, it’s best to make sure your sales reps are prepared to lead engaging sales conversations (no matter the location), can financially justify proposals to ever more frugal and risk averse buyers, and are trained and ready despite not being able to do in-person on-boarding and training.

In the meantime, ask your employees if a remote office works for them and think about how to build a company culture and encourage communication with or without an office. Ultimately, organizations that figure out how to do so will come out on top.

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Entrepreneurship

Social Entrepreneurship: What It Is and Why Everyone’s Talking…

Entrepreneurs used to be those who had an idea, started a company, and made money. They wrote a business plan , circulated the document to a bank for capital, and worked tirelessly to scale their company and drive profits for themselves and their investors. But, now, we’re a startup nation. Actually, we’re a startup world. Entrepreneurs have different motivations for starting a business, just as consumers have different motivations to buy.

I’ve noticed a significant uptick and interest in companies that have a basic alignment in social responsibility, meaning the mission is not just to grow and make money, but to do good in the universe. Enter, social entrepreneurship. 

In this post, we’ll discuss social entrepreneurship, outline how it’s different from entrepreneurship, and give examples of businesses, organizations, and people that exemplify social entrepreneurship.

While socialpreneurs still practice the core entrepreneurial principle of starting a business, there are key differences between the two groups. 

Socialpreneur vs. Entrepreneur

The most significant difference between a socialpreneur and an entrepreneur is the end goal. The former is less interested in defining their successes through high profit margins, but instead by how their operations benefit communities of interest.

In addition, some social enterprises may not follow the typical organizational structure — they can be run entirely by volunteers who do not receive a paycheck or individual contributors that participate on their own accord. For example, mutual aid funds are community organized. These funds exist to meet a social need and began from an entrepreneurial idea, but are run by community members that participate as they please. 

While social entrepreneurship is typically a standalone venture, entrepreneurs can start for-profit businesses that fund programs to support social issues. Let’s go over some real-life examples of small business social entrepreneurship, as well as larger enterprise businesses that engage in social ventures. 

Small Business Socialpreneurship

Some businesses are founded for and dedicated to contributing to social good, and we’ll discuss some of them below. 

1. TranSanta

TranSanta is a unique social entrepreneurship venture that is community-led. It runs an Instagram account that features and highlights stories from transgender youth in need. These individuals create Target wish-lists of items that they need, and interested community members can anonymously purchase and send them what they need. 

2. Books to Prisoners  

Books to Prisoners is a traditional non-profit organization in Seattle, Washington, that aims to end the cycle of recidivism in the prison system. They accept book donations from community members and established bookstores that are then re-packaged and sent to incarcerated individuals. Monetary donations are used to support operational costs, like renting office space, and purchasing supplies necessary to mail books. 

3. Cracked It

This business is a smartphone repair service in London that is staffed by ‘at risk’ and formerly incarcerated youth. They teach life skills and provide employment and income opportunities to community members that are generally looked down upon and dismissed by greater society. 

4. 734 Coffee  

734 Coffee is a social venture dedicated to supporting Sudanese refugees. The business works with local co-op farms in Gambella to grow and harvest coffee, sells products to U.S. retailers, and uses a portion of profits to fund scholarships for Sudanese refugees. 

5. Belu

Based in the U.K., Belu sources and provides water with the lowest possible carbon footprint to hotels, restaurants, and catering businesses. 100% of net profits are donated to WaterAid , a business that provides clean water solutions to underserved communities. 

6. Tranquiliti  

Since 2018, Tranquiliti has worked with teachers, students, and mental health professionals to provide mental health services in schools. They aim to support mental wellbeing and improve educational performance by creating a positive, supportive learning environment. 

7. Surfrider Foundation

Surfrider Foundation is dedicated to environmental stewardship and is led by a community of volunteers and activists that launch campaigns to raise awareness for pollution, marine life protection, clean water, and coastal preservation. They currently have chapters in communities across the U.S.

8. SOIL  

Sustainable, Organic, Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL) is a nonprofit research and development organization that works to implement sustainable, low-cost solutions to the sanitation crisis in Haiti. They employ locally, and 92% of every dollar donated is used to support and enact their environmental programs.

Large Business Socialpreneurship

Below we’ll go over some examples of large for-profit enterprises that commit to using funds to support social causes. 

9. TOMS

TOMS arguably put social entrepreneurship on the map. It started as a one-for-one model; Buy a pair of shoes, and TOMS would give a pair to a child in need. Today, buying a pair of TOMS shoes or sunglasses provides shoes, sight, water, safe birth, and bullying prevention services to people across the globe.

10. Ben & Jerry’s

Ben & Jerry’s, a business primarily known for its ice cream, is also dedicated to using profits to contribute to social good. Their stated mission is “to create linked prosperity for everyone that’s connected to our business: suppliers, employees, farmers, franchises, customers, and neighbors alike,” and they’ve certainly committed to the cause. 

The business supports positive change in environmentally friendly farming and manufacturing processes, racial justice, and LGBTQ+ issues, to name a few, and they really put their money where their mouth is. For example, their ice cream is priced significantly higher than other brands, but they do so in order to pay their workers a livable wage of $18.13 an hour.

11. Warby Parker

In 2019, this eyewear company had donated over 5 million pairs of glasses to those in need through their “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” program. They’ve also disrupted the eyewear industry and spawned countless copycat organizations.

12. Good Eggs

Good Eggs is an online grocery and meal kit delivery service that sets itself apart with fresh, local produce and meal kits for a variety of occasions. Their mission: over 70% of their food, wine, and spirits are locally sourced, and every item must meet a strict list of sourcing standards.

All employees also have a stake in the business, promoting transparent business practices and reinforcing their commitment to the health and safety of the businesses and communities they work with.

13. Lush

This cosmetics company cites environmental awareness and ethical consumerism as its bedrocks. All Lush cosmetics are free of packaging, and the company gives millions to environmental causes each year.

14. Uncommon Goods

Independent makers are the backbone of this company. They offer a marketplace for creatives to sell their goods with the aim of having a positive impact on people and the planet. They work to minimize their environmental impact and work with artists to use sustainable or recycled materials when possible.

15. GoldieBlox

GoldieBlox is a multimedia company committed to disrupting the “pink aisle in toy stores” by using storytelling to make the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) field fun and engaging for young women, a demographic that is systematically underrepresented and underserved in the industry. They create toys, books, apps, videos, animations, and other merchandise to empower girls to build confident, empowered futures.

16. Pipeline Angels

In 2017, only 30% of U.S. angel investors were women and only 12% were minorities. Pipeline Angels aims to disrupt that statistic and commits to creating capital and investment opportunities for trans women, cis women, nonbinary, two-spirit, agender, and gender-nonconforming founders. 

They run a signature boot camp that educates investors, offer mentoring opportunities, and even host a pitch-summit for entrepreneurs seeking funding.

17. United By Blue

This is not your ordinary outdoor apparel store, as United By Blue commits to removing one pound of trash from the world’s oceans and waterways per every product purchased. At the time of publication, they’ve removed over three million pounds of trash . 

18. Shea Radiance

Co-founder Funlayo Alabi and her husband started making soap to solve their family’s dry skin problems. What started as an experiment to heal their sons’ eczema prone skin morphed into a clean and effective product line for hair, skin, and body. Alabi sources all Shea Butter directly from women-run cooperatives in West Africa, which ensures revenue ends up “in the hands of the women who have earned it.”

19. Werk

Werk believes the future of work is not unchangeable, it’s adaptive to each employee’s skills, motivations, and needs. By helping people find their Flextype, Werk believes they can make work flexible for everyone.

20. Oliberté

This shoe manufacturer is a sustainable brand supporting workers’ rights in sub-Saharan Africa. They launched their own factory in 2012 and make every pair of Oliberté shoes from this factory in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In 2013, they also became the world’s first Fair Trade Certified™ footwear manufacturing factory.

21. LSTN Sound Co.

Proceeds from the sales of LSTN speakers and headphones go towards giving hearing aids to people in need through their partner, Starkey Hearing Foundation.

22. FIGS

FIGS creates super-comfortable, ethically responsible scrubs. They create a high-quality product and donate hundreds of thousands of scrubs to healthcare providers in over 35 countries.

23. Love Your Melon

This apparel brand supports and donates to nonprofit organizations dedicated to battling pediatric cancer. 50% of net profits from all products help to create therapeutic experiences and create charitable programming initiatives for families affected by childhood cancer. 

Social Entrepreneurship Ideas

So, you want to do some good, but you’re not quite sure where to start? Here are a few social entrepreneurship ideas and some guidelines for how to develop an idea that’s all your own:

  1. Crowdfunding
  2. Baking for a cause
  3. Electricity or technology projects for the developing world
  4. Conflict-free or fair-trade goods
  5. Educational travel
  6. Employment services
  7. Crafting for a cause
  8. Micro-lending
  9. Facilitating exercise among disadvantaged communities
  10. Sustainability housing and development
  11. Mentorship or funding for entrepreneurs in developing countries
  12. Diversity and inclusion initiatives in the classroom
  13. A cooperative marketplace

How to Pick a Social Entrepreneurship Idea

Define your passions and areas of interest.

Do you firmly believe every child in America should have a pillow? Do you volunteer at a food pantry on the weekends? Are you an activist for certain local charities? Define what you’re passionate about and proceed to step two…

Identify existing market the gaps.

Once you know what you’re passionate about, it’s time to decide what the gaps are in existing products/services and determine how you can fill those gaps. If the food pantry you volunteer at can’t disseminate fresh, donated produce before it spoils, think about how you could provide a service that makes it faster and easier to get fresh produce to the underserved communities in your area.

Identify your key strengths and skills.

Are you an excellent writer or a salesperson extraordinaire? List your strengths and skills, and define how they can serve your mission. This is also an excellent time to identify your weaknesses, so you know who to call upon for help.

Decide on a business model.

Being a social entrepreneur is not always the same as starting a nonprofit. Determine whether you’ll monetize your idea, how you’ll monetize your idea, and decide on a business model. Whether you’re interested in a cross-compensation model like TOMS and Warby Parker or complete stewardship like Books to Prisoners, it’s important to understand how your business will be structured. 

If you’re still feeling stumped, don’t worry. Starting a business is a tedious, involved process, but there are various, successful social entrepreneurs that you can refer to as inspiration. 

Social Entrepreneurs

1. Jazzmine Raine

Raine is the founder of Hara House, the first zero waste guest house in Bikaner, Rajasthan, India. The area is a tourist destination with a vibrant environmental scene. Of the house’s profits, 20% go to helping local youth get involved in economic opportunities, social justice, and environmental education. The youth help run the guest house, tours, and a community center.

2. Muhammad Yunus

Yunus is the founder of Grameen Bank. This Bangladesh-based institution provides small loans to those living in poverty. 97% of their borrowers are women — and these women pay their loans back at a rate of 97%. The bank has managed a net income of $10 million, has 2,568 branches, and covers 93% of total villages in Bangladesh. His work has also earned Yunus a Nobel Prize. See his Talks at Google session on “The New Economics of Zero Poverty” below.

3. Scott Harrison

Charity: water CEO and INBOUND speaker Scott Harrison founded his nonprofit to bring clean, safe drinking water to people in developing countries. They track every dollar raised to the project it funds, and private donors cover their operating costs to 100% of the money they raise can fund their water projects. To date they’ve funded 38,113 water projects, helped almost 10 million people get clean water, and partnered with 37 local partners in 27 countries. Check out Harrison’s INBOUND 2018 keynote below.

4. Vava Angwenyi

Kenyan coffee entrepreneur Vava Angwenyi started with one small coffee bar in her town, but she was soon helping farmers improve the quality of their coffee, their brand, and their sales. Soon, Vava Coffee was born. Angwenyi’s company now serves as an exporter, roaster, and consultative partner working with more than 30,000 smallholder farmers who earn 18% more by working with Vava. Angwenyi’s first company has been so successful, it inspired her to start Gente Del Futuro, a cross-cultural coffee training program in Tanzania, Kenya, and Columbia. Hear more about Vava’s work in her recent presentation at the Re:co Symposium.

5. Durell Coleman

Coleman is the founder and CEO of DC Design, a social impact design firm putting design thinking to use solving some of the world’s biggest problems. His firm has addressed challenges in the criminal justice and foster care systems in the United States. They’ve also designed solutions for refugee camps, and they’ve worked with executives at global enterprise organizations like Sony, Oracle, and Santander.

6. Emily Kirsch

Kirsch started Powerhouse after working with solar startup Mosaic to put solar panels on houses in Oakland, California. Today, Powerhouse supports clean energy entrepreneurship through a network of energy-focused co-working spaces. It also offers venture backing for early-stage energy startups. Powerhouse also facilitates a series of signature events, from the Suncode hackathon to Powerhouse Circle and even a monthly podcast called “Watt it Takes.”

7. Tony Weaver Jr.

Weaver is founder and CEO of Weird Enough Productions, a media company focused on creating stories that inspire positive media images of black men and other minority groups. With every piece of content they create, they also produce a lesson plan for teachers to introduce media literacy to their students. Check out Weaver’s recent TEDx Talk below.

Social Entrepreneurship Is Here To Stay

When we were researching our book, Inbound Organization: How to Build and Strengthen Your Company’s Future Using Inbound Principles , my co-author Todd Hockenberry and I called out several examples of how social responsibility is an important component of having a competitive advantage in today’s marketplace.

In the age of heightened competition, social responsibility is a differentiating factor that allows many companies to appeal to specific buyer demographics. The idea of “Conscious Capitalism” gained mainstream attention when Whole Foods founder John Mackey published a book by the same name.

In addition, consumers, now more than ever, put their trust in brands that they believe are committed to taking action. For example, consumers are 80% more likely to trust a business that they believe is committed to solving societal issues, especially when it comes to racial justice. 

So, if you’re still interested in becoming a social entrepreneur — you couldn’t pick a better time. Formulate your plan today and make the world a better place.

 

Business Plan Template

Entrepreneurship

The 7 Key Qualities That Define the Entrepreneur Mindset

Some salespeople are just built differently. They demonstrate exemplary tendencies and particularly productive tactics — reps that put another degree of effort and strategic thought into their day-to-day responsibilities.

These model reps’ approach to their work is shaped by something known as the entrepreneur mindset — a special frame of mind that separates certain salespeople from their peers.

Here, we’ll explore the concept a bit further and review some of the key traits that define it.

It’s worth noting that the entrepreneur mindset isn’t necessarily specific to entrepreneurs. Virtually anyone can demonstrate it in a professional context — not just ambitious budding-business owners.

Individuals with an entrepreneur mindset take initiative and make a point of elevating their colleagues. They embrace leadership opportunities and learn what they can at every possible turn. Those qualities — among others — set the entrepreneurially-minded apart from the employee-minded.

Here are some of the other key differences between the two thought processes.

1. Entrepreneurs zero in on individual tasks more than

employees.

Believe it or not, “multitasking” isn’t actually a thing. It’s just a buzzword that means rapidly jumping from individual task to individual task, sacrificing quality and thoughtfulness along the way. It’s a behavior that stunts focus and undermines productivity — a tendency that entrepreneurs avoid and employees fall into.

Entrepreneurs know how to focus. They understand that they’ll get more out of their work by locking in on individual tasks and moving on once they’re completed. Employees struggle with that concept. They put too many balls in the air and wind up dropping some in the process.

2. Entrepreneurs have an ‘on to the next one’ mentality

with failure and frustration.

Employees often get fixated on the mistakes they’ve made. They tend to ruminate on failure, letting it take a toll on their confidence. Frustration eats at them, and they catastrophize hiccups and hitches.

Entrepreneurs see the good in failure. They understand that every mistake is a learning experience. They understand that the world isn’t over with every screw-up. They give the situation some thought, determine how they can apply what they’ve learned as a result of it, and move “on to the next one.”

3. Entrepreneurs work smarter.

Employees generally apply themselves — which isn’t a problem in itself. Their issue comes from how they apply their time and energy. They often tear through all their work as it comes to them with consistently exhaustive, borderline-indiscriminate effort.

Their first instinct is to work as hard as possible, and while that’s admirable and sensible in its own right, it’s not always as effective as the road their entrepreneurially minded counterparts take — they make a point of working smarter.

They partition and prioritize their work more thoughtfully than employees, tiering their responsibilities by urgency and taking on their work accordingly. They know that time is the most important professional commodity, so they handle it with more tact and careful intention.

4. Entrepreneurs are smart about risks but don’t avoid them entirely.

Employees are risk-averse — reluctant to embrace failure, so they avoid any possible exposure to it. They value stability, sometimes to a fault. And while a steady paycheck and job security are valuable, they’re not an entrepreneur’s first priority.

Entrepreneurs understand that risk is an often-unfortunate reality that comes with ambition. They know that you can’t hack it in business without boldness, but that doesn’t mean they blindly embrace every last risky decision they’re faced with.

They take calculated risks, thoughtfully considering whether a leap of faith’s reward is worth its potential consequences. The key difference here is a matter of initiative. Entrepreneurs take it upon themselves to blaze the trail — employees generally follow behind.

5. Entrepreneurs emphasize and build on their strengths as opposed to their weaknesses.

Entrepreneurs spend more time building on what they do well than they do remedying their weaknesses. Employees spend more time putting a robust, jack-of-all-trades-esque body of skills together.

That’s not the worst thing in the world, but it lends itself to goodness as opposed to greatness. Entrepreneurs understand they need to stand out — and they know they can probably surround themselves with the right people to compensate for their shortcomings, down the line. That kind of faith in their strengths and future sets entrepreneurs apart from employees.

6. Entrepreneurs aren’t threatened by people smarter than them.

You’ve probably heard the old saying, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, leave that room.” That’s a tough concept for employee-minded individuals to reckon with. They resent people that might upstage them, so they avoid surrounding themselves with people smart enough to consistently challenge them.

Entrepreneurs value learning opportunities more than protecting their egos. They’re the ones that leave a room when they’re the smartest in it. That’s why they’re quick to tap and hire particularly bright people without getting too competitive. That good sense and humility help the entrepreneurially-minded realize their ambitions and bolster their professional skill sets.

7. Entrepreneurs own all their decisions — good and bad.

Entrepreneurs hold themselves accountable for poor decisions as much as they tout their accomplishments. They consider and analyze their mistakes without dwelling on them too much. They also don’t try to skirt blame or distance themselves from the less-than-ideal calls they make.

Employees often try to deflect responsibility for the consequences of their actions, or they get too caught up in justifying their blunders. As I mentioned, entrepreneurs view screw-ups as learning experiences that don’t define them or dictate their professional value. They take their shortcomings on the chin and keep moving forward — taking ownership of their mistakes is a big part of that process.

As I said, you don’t necessarily have to be an entrepreneur to exhibit the entrepreneur mindset. It might take extra thought, effort, and persistence, but any rep can embrace the patterns of behavior that define the frame of mind. And while going above and beyond like that can take a lot out of you, it might be the best way to reach that next level professionally.

Business Plan Template

Revenue Operations

How A ‘One Team’ Mindset Fuels Revenue Growth in…

Join Stephen Pacinelli, Chief Marketing Officer at BombBomb and Brogan Taylor, Head of Enterprise Sales at Freshworks as they discuss the findings and share tactical ways to align the two in order to drive revenue and collaboration.

The post How A ‘One Team’ Mindset Fuels Revenue Growth in 2021 appeared first on Sales Hacker.

Sales

16 Technology Trends Shaping eCommerce in 2021

If the first few months of 2021 have taught us anything, it’s that uncertain times call for quick pivots to sales and marketing plans.

Businesses have had to evolve quickly. Trade shows, events, and in-person sales meetings have been cancelled, throwing a wrench in many sales and marketing strategies.

But even as we navigate a new normal, there is one place that is experiencing an incredible boom in traffic: eCommerce websites. Consumers are turning to online shopping to gather the essentials as well as other items they can’t get from temporarily closed stores.

In other words, if you don’t have an eCommerce store, now is the perfect time to make the investment. And if you do have an eCommerce presence, you need to make sure you’re equipped to keep up with the influx of shoppers and increased competition.

Let’s review the latest eCommerce technology trends to focus on as we move through the year.

1. Mobile dominates online sales.

Worldwide mobile retail revenue is expected to reach $3.57 trillion in 2021, up from $2.91 trillion in 2020. This comes as no surprise considering that 125 million Americans own and use smartphones. It’s interesting to note that consumers use mobile to research products they are considering buying and not just to make purchases.

However, just because websites are accessible from mobile devices doesn’t mean businesses are prepared to succeed at mobile commerce. For example, only 12% of consumers find mobile commerce convenient, which means there is significant room for improvement.

2. eWallet technology is a must.

Enabling your customers to use eWallet functionality, commonly known as mobile wallet, is no longer optional. While digital payments accounted for $3.04 trillion USD in payments in 2017, they’re projected to reach a whopping 6.6 trillion USD in 2021, more than doubling in only four years. 

In addition to boosting sales and conversion rates for merchants, eWallet usage provides customers with ease of use and increased security. They no longer need to enter credit card information on websites or give their credit cards to cashiers; plus, many eWallets offer or require dual authentication prior to use.

3. eCommerce subscription services gain traction.

Subscriptions are an increasingly common way to buy products and services online. The eCommerce subscription market is forecasted to grow by 68%, reaching $478.2 billion USD in revenue by 2025, and the Subscription Economy Index reports a 403% growth in subscription services in the past eight years. 

There are three types of eCommerce subscription services: replenishment (automates purchases), curation (provides personalized experiences), and access (provides lower prices or members-only perks). Place your subscription model in one of these three buckets for optimal success. 

4. Customization makes products highly personal.

Consumers increasingly expect customized products and, thanks to advances in digital and manufacturing technology, brands can enable them to personalize or customize products they want online. By empowering customers to become partners in the product creation process, brands strengthen the user experience, which increases customer satisfaction and loyalty and leads to higher profits.

5. Upselling and cross-selling fueled by personalized product recommendations.

By personalizing product recommendations to the tastes and interests of customers already on your site, you increase the likelihood of them making a purchase.

Marketers recognize the importance of personalization to buyers, with 92% reporting that their customers and prospects expect personalized experiences. And they’ve seen quantifiable business results from personalization efforts. 97% of marketers report seeing a positive impact on their brand after personalizing the buying experience for prospects.

In order to make personalized product recommendations, you must leverage the details of users’ previous purchases and on-site searches to recommend relevant products.

6. Augmented and virtual reality are making online shopping interactive.

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are helping eCommerce retailers overcome one of their biggest challenges — the fact that their customers cannot try on or experience products before buying them. With AR and VR, customers can virtually try on products, place furniture within rooms of their homes, and more.

This personalized and interactive online shopping experience has led to greater adoption of this technology. The augmented reality market is projected to have 2.4 billion users by 2023.

7. Customer experiences improve thanks to better CRM integration.

Online retailers connect with customers through a variety of channels, including online marketplaces, eCommerce websites, chatbots, email, and social media, all of which must be carefully managed to ensure the best customer experience.

To keep up, online retailers are implementing integrated eCommerce CRM (customer relationship management) systems. In addition to resulting in a better customer experience, CRM eCommerce integration provides a central location for customer data that can be used to make marketing more effective. Sales data can also be used for improved inventory planning and forecasting. Automated, synchronized data increases overall business efficiency by improving order fulfillment and timely communication.

Next to built-in integrations and integrated eCommerce CRM systems, online retailers often use third-party integrations to connect their eCommerce tool not only to CRMs, but to all the channels and systems that gather customer data. That way, they ensure a smooth customer experience across platforms and channels.

8. Magento emerges as the top global eCommerce platform.

The reliability and scalability of Magento has made it the most popular eCommerce platform in the world, powering over 250,000 businesses. Its customers are typically enterprise-level online stores with a high volume of products and the budget to invest in certified third-party design, development, and programming services.

Magento’s main competitors include Shopify, Yo!Kart, BigCommerce, VTEX, WooCommerce, and Tictail, some of which better meet the needs of smaller eCommerce retailers.

9. Actionable content is driving business.

Relevant and helpful content helps drive business by attracting potential shoppers, guiding them to purchasing opportunities, and boosting conversions. There are several forms of content that can be effectively mixed and matched. They include interactive, lifestyle storytelling, stance-taking, and email.

Typically the most effective content involves storytelling and creating memorable experiences. It’s also crucial whenever possible to ensure that any offers, ads, and promotions are tailored and unique to each customer’s interests. Justin Ablett, global lead of Adobe at IBM iX, asserts that “[customers] have no tolerance for poor digital experiences anymore.” A general digital experience is a poor digital experience, emphasizing the importance of personalization. 

10. PWAs help shoppers quickly complete tasks.

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are websites accessed directly in a browser that provide the high-converting features of a native app. These apps are not downloaded from an app store platform.

While websites are optimized for users to get informational content, PWAs are designed to help shoppers accomplish tasks quickly. They have fast and reliable features and functionalities that create a highly engaging shopping experience.

11. Social media is a driving force behind mobile sales.

Platforms enabling eCommerce stores to sell directly through their social pages are increasingly driving sales. With a simple click on a product link within a social post, consumers are immediately taken to a product page where they can make a purchase. 

As a result of this shift, social commerce sales are expected to reach upwards of 80 billion USD in revenue by 2024. 

12. Cognitive supply chain management gains momentum.

eCommerce companies are increasingly seeking distribution and inventory management systems that are self-learning, predictive, adaptive, and intelligent, which are known as cognitive supply chains. They result in improved, personalized customer service and decreased inventory. These systems can also mitigate risk, improve insight and performance, and increase transparency.

13. Video continues capturing consumer attention.

Using product videos on eCommerce sites can increase sales and product understanding. 94% of video marketers agree that video helps buyers understand their brand’s offerings, with 78% of marketers saying that video directly increases sales. 

This is because customers have more confidence in products when they see a video about them. When done right, product videos can educate and encourage consumers to make a purchase. Another plus is that they’re highly shareable via social media.

14. Gamification is making online shopping more fun.

For some, shopping online can lack the interactive experience of shopping at brick-and-mortar locations. Gamification injects fun into online shopping by motivating customers to behave in a certain manner in exchange for additional benefits. Three common gamification methods include promotional contests, spin-to-win opportunities, and tiered VIP loyalty programs.

15. Chatbots are personalizing eCommerce.

A chatbot is a computer program that simulates a human conversation. It instantly communicates with customers and can resolve their challenges among multiple platforms 24/7. 

Chatbots use artificial intelligence to infer customers’ preferences and create a personalized online shopping experience. It’s no wonder that this medium has grown in popularity — and will continue to grow. Business Insider reports that by 2024, consumer retail spend via chatbots will increase to $142 billion USD. 

16. Voice search is growing in popularity.

Mobile users and owners of devices such as the Amazon Echo or similar technology are increasingly comfortable with speaking their queries. Nearly one-third of Internet users have used voice search to either shop or look up information about a product, while voice shopping is predicted to grow to $40 billion in 2022.

Successful voice search strategies for eCommerce retailers include implementing a solid SEO strategy, building brand affinity with informational skills and actions, including product-feature and review videos, and staying focused on delivering a superior customer experience.

Your toughest competitors are inevitably planning to implement some of these eCommerce trends to gain an advantage this year and beyond. Which ones do you intend to act upon to become a dominant eCommerce brand?

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
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Entrepreneurship

What Are the Most Lucrative Ecommerce Niches in 2021?

More people are interested in starting online businesses than ever before, and for budding business owners, ecommerce is one of the most obvious options. 

But if you’re considering setting up an online store, or changing your focus in response to the current climate, you might be wondering what you should sell.

In this article, we’ll look at the recent changes to the ecommerce landscape and what they mean for you as you start your online business journey or pivot into a new niche. I’ll start by providing you with a snapshot of the ecommerce sector.

The State of Ecommerce in 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an enormous impact on the ways we live, work, socialize, and shop. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably been avoiding going to the store in person as much as possible over the last few months.

Few industries have been entirely spared from the impact of the pandemic. Large-scale unemployment means many people are cutting back on their spending, and as such, some industries have seen a sharp downturn in sales. Sectors such as travel and hospitality have been particularly impacted.

However, the new normal we’re all living in also represents an opportunity for ecommerce. More people are buying online than ever before. Because of that, industries that have traditionally struggled to break into ecommerce are seeing unprecedented growth. And this trend is set to continue, with ecommerce penetration rates set to rise from 15% to 25% by 2025.

The writing on the wall is clear: ecommerce is the future. But before you get started, you need to decide what you’re going to sell. In other words, you need to define your niche.

Some ecommerce niche examples include eco-friendly personal care products, hiking gear made out of recycled yarn, CBD pet food, organic skincare supplements for women, handmade jewelry, sustainable-made homewares, and more. 

Profitable ecommerce niches are highly specific and should ideally have a differentiator that’s inherent to the product. Selling hiking gear isn’t unique, but if the product is made out of recycled yarn, you’re appealing to eco-conscious hikers, a highly specific group. 

Why choose a niche for your ecommerce business?

There are more than 24 million ecommerce stores in the world, according to Kommando Tech. The competition has never been fiercer. 

Most companies do not have the resources to fight for a market share in numerous different spaces. Therefore, choosing a niche means you can focus on a specific market group with less competition. 

Counterintuitive though it may seem, this can actually lead to higher revenue than trying to do too many things all at once.

Focusing on a niche market also gives you the opportunity to get to know your customer base on a deeper level. Knowing your target market inside and out is one of the most critical keys to ecommerce success.

Benefits of Finding a Niche for Your Ecommerce Business

Online retail giants such as Amazon and Walmart sell everything from books to diapers. Seeing their success, it’s difficult to imagine how specializing in one category can make your online business more profitable. 

Amazon and Walmart are successful because they have millions of dollars in resources. From staffing to warehousing, they have the bandwidth to efficiently manage a large inventory. 

When you only sell one product, you’re cutting operational costs significantly while building a highly unique brand. Below, we’ll take a look at the benefits of finding a niche — with real-life examples to prove it. 

1. You’ll pay less for marketing and advertising. 

Targeting a highly specific audience will result in lower ad spend and allow for a much tighter marketing budget. Why? The smaller the audience, the less you’ll spend. 

When you’re creating a Google Ads campaign, for example, you can bid on either expensive, highly-searched keywords, or cheaper, more specific long-tail keywords. 

Let’s say that you specialize in women’s hiking shoes. Examples of broad search terms would be “shoes” (1.1M global monthly searches) and “women’s shoes” (25K global monthly searches). These aren’t great choices because someone who’s searching for “shoes” might not be looking for a hiking boot. 

A good long-tail keyword, on the other hand, would be “women’s waterproof hiking boots” (450 global searches). With this strategy, you can guarantee that searchers are specifically interested in your product, which makes it more likely they’ll turn into a lead. Plus, it’s much cheaper to target these keywords in your campaign. 

2. You’ll compete with fewer brands.

Another great benefit of being in a niche? There are fewer brands in your space. That means more people will have their eyes on you instead of your competitor. 

Consider, for example, the hair accessory niche. Hair accessories are a relatively specific type of product, but wooden hair forks is a particularly niche marketplace. The hair fork brand Saya Designs, while relatively small, performs well on SERPs for hair fork-related keywords. 

Saya Designs ranking data on Ahrefs

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Why? There’s little to no competition in the hair fork niche. 

Your niche doesn’t have to be as specialized. Even if you’re selling something relatively common such as workout gear, you can rank well in SERPs with a solid SEO strategy.

3. Your customers will be more loyal to you. 

If you’re in a niche, you can inspire brand loyalty with little effort. 

You’re solving specifically for your customers’ needs with your product, meaning they will automatically feel loyal to your brand. Rather than appealing to a mass audience, you’re appealing to that specific buyer. And if your product is the only one of its kind, your buyers will continuously look to you as a supplier. 

Consider large online retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, or Target. It’s common to switch from one to the other depending on what’s most convenient. We don’t often buy exclusively from one, meaning we’re not loyal to them. 

This wouldn’t be the case if you find a niche for your online business. Because your value proposition is unique to your brand and product, customers are likely to come back to you, not to your competitor. 

4. You can charge more for your products. 

Being in a niche means that your product is unique and solves a highly specific problem experienced by your buyer. This means you can charge more for it — especially if it’s produced in small batches, by hand, or in a sustainable manner. 

The price doesn’t fully come down to production quality, however. Availability is another factor. As an owner of a niche ecommerce business, you’re likely one of a handful of brands offering that product. Scarcity will give you the leeway to charge more. 

To continue the example of the hair fork niche: Saya Designs charges from $28 to $60 for its products. On Amazon, you can find similar hair forks for $12, but many are made out of plastic and metal. 

Because Saya Designs specifically offers wooden hair forks, not plastic or metal, and specifically ones in a traditional design, they can charge more, because there aren’t many hair forks like theirs in the marketplace. 

5. You can run your business with lean resources and a small staff. 

The best part about running a niche ecommerce brand? You can do it on your own or with limited staff. 

With a smaller inventory, you’ll be saving in storage and operational costs. You won’t need stocking staff or a large marketing team, since marketing in a niche space is a little easier and more cost-effective. You can also usually send off your own packages via mail. 

Building an ecommerce site, creating or sourcing your product, and buying ads can be done on your own in a few months. You’ll also see results sooner, because a niche segment is smaller and you’ll be competing with fewer brands. 

Now that you know why you should find a niche, it’s time to go over the most profitable ones for 2021. 

Best Ecommerce Niches

Choosing and understanding your niche is essential if you want to attract the right customers to your ecommerce store.

When you’re choosing your niche, start by considering what you care about. You can’t sell a product you don’t believe in, so starting with your passions and interests is paramount. From there, consider market demand, potential profitability, availability of products, and your competition.

With all of this in mind, let’s have a look at some of the most lucrative niches for ecommerce store owners and aspiring online retailers in 2021.

1. Technology and Home Office Equipment

The last two decades saw a growing trend in working from home across many sectors of the economy. Yet this trend only impacted a fraction of the population. COVID-19 and accompanying stay-at-home orders have resulted in a huge shift in the way we work.

According to data released by Upwork, 41% of people in the US work from home full-time, and nearly six out of ten teams are doing so part-time. This figure is reflective of the shift in work culture many of us have experienced.

 

Upwork work-from-home survey graph

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Remote work doesn’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon. A recent survey by Gartner found that around 74% of companies intend to keep at least some of their workforce remote after the pandemic is over.

This is a great time to get into the home office equipment niche. You might choose to focus on technology such as laptops, keyboards, mice, and monitors. Another possibility is to concentrate on non-technological home office necessities such as ergonomic office chairs and standing desks.

2. Home Gym and Fitness Gear

Gyms are beginning to reopen in some cities across the United States and the world. But many remain closed, and some fitness enthusiasts still feel that attending the gym in person is too significant a health risk. Others are realizing that they do not need their expensive monthly gym membership to keep fit. With all of this in mind, working out at home has never been more popular.

Fitness is an evergreen ecommerce niche. If you’re passionate about health and exercise, focusing on the lucrative at-home fitness market could be the perfect way to start an online business.

You might focus on home gym equipment such as treadmills and ellipticals, on space-saving gear such as dumbbells, resistance bands, or pull-up bars, or even on nutritional supplements for those wanting to take their workout to the next level.

Woman working out at home

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It’s also worth considering where fitness is heading. Mirror, a company that sells a large LCD that looks like a mirror that people can use for training, is heading for a billion-dollar valuation. Fitness technology is going to be a booming niche for this century, and being ahead of the curve on what will trend will allow you to grab a slice of the pie.

3. Entertainment

Entertainment is a large industry covering a number of different niches. As COVID-19 shutdowns keep people in their homes, and live events from concerts to sporting fixtures are canceled, people are looking for ways to use their increased free time and keep themselves entertained.

According to Statista, 26% of American consumers reported spending more on home entertainment due to the pandemic.

Spending on video games and associated hardware in the US also hit a record high. But some people prefer more old-fashioned forms of entertainment. Board games have exploded in popularity in the last few years, and COVID-19 quarantines have boosted sales in this niche even more. In the UK alone, sales of popular games such as Monopoly and Cluedo soared by 240%.

As BazaarVoice reported, the toys and games niche saw a 79% increase in order count. As schools and extracurricular activities closed and parents sought to keep their children entertained at home, sales of toys, games, and activities for children have risen.

Jigsaw puzzles have proven popular, with manufacturer Ravensburger enjoying a 370% increase in sales year-over-year. Outdoor swings and play sets, building and construction toys such as Lego, and educational toys are also doing well.

Many people, adults and children alike, have been using the lockdown period to get creative. According to an NMPI Digital report, the Michaels Companies — North America’s largest supplier of arts and crafts materials — saw an $8 million increase in revenue compared to the previous year.

Arts and crafts are not only popular pastimes but proven to aid in stress reduction. They are always popular and never more so than during the pandemic.

4. DIY and Home Improvement

At the end of June, Bank of America polled over 1,000 Americans and found that 70% of respondents had either started or planned home improvement projects during the COVID-19 shutdown, and that many planned to continue with these projects into 2021. The analysts predict a “multi-year tailwind” as younger buyers move out of cities, buying and renovating the older homes they can more readily afford.

Gardening is another pastime linked to home improvement that has steeply risen in popularity. US-based seed supplier W. Atlee Burpee & Co reported the highest sales in its 144-year history, while an ACI Worldwide analysis found that online sales of gardening essentials saw a 163% increase.

5. Food, Drink, and Cooking

Among many of the other changes it has wrought, the pandemic has changed the way many people eat. Restaurants and eateries around the world were closed for extended periods, many are yet to reopen, and some will sadly not survive the shutdown.

Similarly, mass remote working means that the days of grabbing a sandwich for lunch from the local deli are over. School closures mean that children are no longer enjoying school meals, leaving parents to arrange breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days per week.

Eating habits data graph

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As a result, our relationship to food has changed. Here are some of the lucrative ecommerce niches in the food and drink space:

Kitchen Equipment and Ingredients

Research by Bain & Company suggests that online grocery shopping in the US has risen from 3-4% to 10-15%.

Increased time at home, restaurant closures, and concerns over family budgets have led to a boom for home cooking. Whether you focus on specialist kitchen appliances such as pasta makers and bread machines, hard-to-find ingredients, store cupboard staples, or supplies for home bakers, your ecommerce business can benefit.

Meal Subscriptions

The increase in home cooking, coupled with many consumers’ desire to avoid going to the grocery store as much as possible, has resulted in a surge in the popularity of meal kit delivery services. By 2027, revenue in this industry is forecasted to grow to nearly 20 billion USD.

There is tough competition in the meal delivery space, but if you have the food knowledge and the marketing know-how to succeed, there has never been a better time to launch this type of business. 

It is one way that restaurant owners and food production companies can pivot into the ecommerce space at a time when their businesses may be struggling.

Alcohol

With pubs and bars closed across the world, and many consumers feeling unsafe going to those that are open, consumption of alcohol at home has increased. Many pubs, bars, distilleries, and breweries have set up ecommerce brands for the first time during COVID-19, while sales of at-home cocktail making equipment and ingredients have boomed.

According to Drizly’s consumer report, 30% of consumers have said they will continue to drink more at home in 2021. There’s also room for growth, as Beverage Daily reports that alcohol accounts for less than 1% of online grocery spending (against 5-6% of in-store spending). 

Just make sure you obtain the correct licenses and abide by any alcohol retailing laws in your city, state, or country if you decide to move into the alcohol ecommerce space.

Choosing the Right Ecommerce Niche in 2021

No one knows what the new normal will look like when we emerge from the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, it is essential for retailers and business owners to be flexible, adaptable, and prepared to pivot as necessary to ensure their current and future success.

Despite worrying reports about unemployment levels and the challenges facing the retail sector, there are substantial opportunities in the ecommerce industry in 2021 and beyond.

This list is not intended to be exhaustive. However, I hope it gives you some inspiration as you launch your business or adapt to the changing realities of the world today. 

Whatever niche you ultimately choose, take your time to study the market and understand your target audience before you dive in.

Business Plan Template

Sales

15 Best Event Scheduling Polls & Meeting Survey Tools…

What’s on your schedule today?

Meetings. Meetings. And wait … let me guess, more meetings.

If you’re a manager, salesperson, or individual contributor, a portion of your day might be spent scheduling meetings. This can take time, especially if you receive a “meeting declined” notification from a contact in response to your meeting invitation.

Lengthy email threads and back-and-forth messages will follow, wasting time and energy. 

Luckily, there are scheduling polls and survey tools that can speed up the scheduling process.

These scheduling polls and survey tools will help you find the best time to meet with a group of colleagues or a prospect. 

1. HubSpot Meetings Tool

HubSpot Meetings Tool Best Scheduling Polls and Surveys

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One solution to all the back-and-forth emails would be to simply send over your calendar and have the person select the time that works for them. That’s what the HubSpot meeting tool does (without revealing your entire appointment book).

You simply create a custom meeting link based on parameters such as meeting length, and it will send a calendar picker of available times for them to book.

Not only do your availability and meetings sync automatically to your Google Calendar or Office 365 calendar, but contact and meeting details are also added to the all-in-one (and free) CRM. This makes meeting scheduling a simple, painless process for you and your meeting attendees.

Price: Free

2. SurveyMonkey

Survey Monkey Best Scheduling Polls and Surveys

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If you’ve ever planned an event or large get-together, you know that getting everyone on the same page can be tricky. SurveyMonkey is a great option for coordinating meeting times with multiple people because it lets you select meeting dates and times and create a scheduling poll. The poll is then sent to the attendees via email, or it can be embedded on a website or Facebook page.

Automatic reminders are sent to the contacts if they don’t respond to the survey within a certain time frame. Once you have their responses, you’ll be able to select an event time that works for everyone.

Price: Free, more advanced functionality available for premium users

3. Zoom.ai

Zoom.ai's meeting app landing page

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This meeting scheduler eliminates the back-and-forth for both one-on-one and group meetings. What makes this tool unique is that it’s geared specifically for video meetings — just connect your video conferencing software to get going. It’s compatible with Zoom.us, Microsoft Teams Video, Skype, and more. It can even integrate with elements of your software stack including HubSpot.

Price: Free, more advanced functionality for premium users

4. Arrangr

Arrangr meeting poller for sending out scheduling surveys (on phone app)

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You can connect your calendar to Arrangr, use an automated process to coordinate meeting times, and automatically integrate this scheduling tool with your conferencing software. 

The tool doesn’t just work for video or phone conferencing either — you can take advantage of Arrangr’s Intelligent Spot Finder feature to choose meeting places. Use your favorite restaurants or find a convenient meeting location at a halfway point. Arrangr also offers many integration options that can streamline follow-up workflows.

Price: Free, more advanced functionality for premium users

5. Doodle

Doodle Best Scheduling Polls and Surveys - calendar view

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Doodle is a tool designed specifically for scheduling. As the host of the meeting, you’ll suggest times to meet. The scheduling poll can be sent to the meeting participants so they can enter their availability.

Once their responses are collected, select the best meeting date and time based on the responses you received.

Price: Free, more advanced functionality available for premium users

6. Xoyondo

Xoyondo scheduling poll - calendar view with availability for invitees

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Xoyondo helps you find a meeting date and time that works for everyone. Select potential meeting times, send the suggestions to your contacts, and each invitee can vote for the dates that work best for them.

Xoyondo offers support for unlimited polls and participants, which means it’s ideal for those who meet regularly or work in client-facing roles. It offers the ability to attach files to the poll for attendees to review, and you can manage everything from your dashboard.

In addition, create custom branding for your polls and publish them to a personal page with the URL of your choice.

Price: Free

7. Calendly

Calendly Best Scheduling Polls and Surveys - Features page

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With Calendly’s scheduling tool, connect your calendar, set your availability, and send a meeting link to contacts. Calendly uses a rule-based system with criteria that you set to present the best available times. Contacts can book a meeting using the link and book a meeting that works for them.

The meeting time they select is automatically blocked off on your calendar. Adjust the Calendly settings to add buffer times around your meetings or set a limit to the number of meetings you’re able to have in one day. You can also set one-on-one, collective, or round-robin availability.

Price: Free, more advanced features available for premium users

8. NeedToMeet

NeedToMeet Best Scheduling Polls and Surveys - Home page

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NeedToMeet has easy polling features that help you schedule meetings in three steps: enter meeting details, suggest dates and times, invite attendees, and let the scheduler do the rest. It will collect any attendee comments and notify you when attendees respond. 

The Outlook plugin is particularly useful for Microsoft users, but NeedToMeet has multi-platform functionality.

Price: Free, more advanced functionality available for premium users

9. Meetingbird

Meetingbird scheduling poll - confirmation sent to meeting host after attendee accepted their invitation

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Meetingbird has a tool that allows you to sign up with your Google or Office 365 account to create scheduling polls. Select some potential meeting times from your calendar and send the poll to your contacts using a link.

You’ll be notified when they respond to the poll. And your contacts will automatically receive an invitation to the event once it’s scheduled. It even integrates with Zoom and has a Gmail plugin to make scheduling even simpler.

Price: Free

10. Rallly

Rallly meeting scheduler for large groups of people - meeting host view

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If you want a more collaborative scheduling poll, Rallly is a free option where you share a page with meeting attendees and put dates up for a vote. The software allows attendees to discuss in a forum-style interface using comments before the final decision is made.

Price: Free

 

11. When2meet 

When2meet scheduling survey - meeting host view

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When2meet is a free scheduling survey tool that requires no login or sign-up. The website is simple, making it the best choice for finding the best time to carry out internal company meetings. We wouldn’t recommend this tool for client meetings or events with target accounts. 

With this tool, you can select a date and time range for the event, and your colleagues can select the times that they’re available. After they respond, you can easily identify which times most people are going to be able to make the meeting. 

Price: Free 

12. Microsoft FindTime

Microsoft Findtime meeting poll with three responses from invitees

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Microsoft FindTime is one of the best polling options for Outlook users, because you don’t have to depend on an external tool to determine the availability of your invitees. Simply install the add-on to your Outlook app to send scheduling polls to colleagues and prospects. 

Those whom you invite don’t have to use Outlook, Microsoft 365, or even FindTime — you can send the voting link over email or send a FindTime invite directly. 

Price: Free 

13. Acuity Scheduling 

Acuity scheduler - meeting calendar view from an potential invitee's perspective

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Acuity Scheduling lets you send a link to your personal or business scheduling page. Your invitees can choose the time that works for them based on your availability. Plus you can schedule follow-up and reminder emails to ensure no one misses the meeting. 

Sync your calendar with this tool and integrate it with other platforms such as Stripe and Google Analytics. This app is best for individual client meetings and consultations. (Pro tip: Show up to your meeting with a sales meeting agenda to make the most of your time with the client.)

Price: $14/month

14. Google Forms 

Google Forms with an example for a camping trip

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Google Forms can help you determine the availability of multiple people for group meetings — while the tool isn’t used exclusively for setting up meetings, it can be used to share meeting polls.

Simply list a few predetermined times for your colleagues to choose from and invite them to submit a response. We wouldn’t recommend this tool for client meetings, since a dedicated meeting scheduler would likely work best. However, Google Forms is a great way to capture availability for a company event. 

Price: Free

15. WhenAvailable 

Whenavailable meeting poll creator on their website, with a calendar to choose meeting times

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WhenAvailable pairs When2meet’s ease-of-use with a more modern user interface (UI). This tool allows you to plan and create a meeting poll for free.

On the “Plan” page, set an RSVP date and choose a few different times on the calendar. Then, send it to up to 20 people over email. Alternatively, send the link to your colleagues, prospects, or customers so they can respond with their availability without having to log in. If anything about your event changes, you can add messages and news to the event page. 

Price: Free, with additional attendee capacity when you upgrade

Use a Scheduling Poll Tool to Save Time 

Scheduling polls and surveys make it easy to book time with prospects, customers, and colleagues. They automatically allow people to select meeting times that work with their calendars as well as your availability. This saves you time that ca be spent nurturing and closing deals. So, get started using a scheduling pool tool to amp up your productivity and simplify your workflow.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in May 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

meetign scheduler

Entrepreneurship

12 Characteristics & Personality Traits Great Entrepreneurs Share

Though hard work is often a factor in success, one’s level of output does not always determine success in their field — and entrepreneurship is no exception.

There are many factors that can contribute to the success of an entrepreneur as they launch, operate, and scale their business. These factors can include the timing of their business launch, how competitive their market is, the reliability of their supply chain, the amount of capital they are able to obtain, and the current economic climate.

In addition to these elements, there are a number of traits successful entrepreneurs have in common that contribute to their business success. Let’s dive into what they are.

1. Discipline

bill aulet entrepreneur quote: "We have looked for the entrepreneurship gene and there is no entrepreneurship gene. There is not. It is disciplined execution that makes people successful entrepreneurs."

Starting and operating a business is no easy feat. Unlike a traditional job where you often have upper-level management driving business objectives and keeping you accountable, being an entrepreneur requires the ability to hold yourself accountable when you don’t have a “boss” to do so.

Those who are able to create and execute plants even without external factors holding them accountable have a competitive edge in business. When an entrepreneur has self-discipline they are able to manage the urge to procrastinate and can take decisive action when needed.

Three-time entrepreneur Bill Aulet recognizes that focus and discipline are critical for startup success, and it’s even the focus of his book, Disciplined Entrepreneurship. He goes so far as to say that, “It is disciplined execution that makes people successful entrepreneurs.” His book outlines a 24-step framework for bringing products to market. The rigorous (but fun) methodology comes from Aulet’s experience building startups, raising capital, and creating value from shareholders.

2. Creativity

mignon francois entrepreneur quote: "I got the idea of having a bake sale everyday while listening to a financial guru on the radio."

Though creativity is often associated with artistic output, it is an important trait for all entrepreneurs to have. Creativity doesn’t only apply to visual elements or branding. Entrepreneurs who are able to creatively solve problems and think outside of the box when facing everyday business challenges, they are able to quickly pivot and implement necessary solutions that lead to business growth.

Inspired by a financial guru and the high cost of sweets in her area, Mignon Francois went from “household manager” to founder and CEO. “I got the idea of having a bake sale everyday while listening to a financial guru on the radio. I was a household manager of 6+1 (aka stay at home mom) and I really couldn’t afford the luxury of taking my children out for sweets because everything was expensive and we were struggling. Once I started to get my recipes together I would practice all day.” 

Originally, she didn’t even know how to bake, relying on her daughters and grandmother for help. However, her hard work and ingenuity turned a condemned home into a full-blown bakery and a creative endeavor into a ten-million-dollar business.

3. Self-Awareness

gary vaynerchuk entrepreneur quote: "I suck at 99 percent of stuff, but I go all out on that 1 percent I'm good at."

Entrepreneurs who have a sense of self-awareness that they are able to apply professionally to achieve business success. When an entrepreneur is self-aware they are able to own up to their strengths and weaknesses related to running their business.

With this awareness, they are able to zero in on the tasks and elements of running the business they can excel in and are more willing to delegate the areas they are not as strong in. Another benefit of being self-aware is that it increases one’s ability to give, receive, and apply meaningful feedback.

Gary Vaynerchuk, lifelong entrepreneur and social thought leader, says that self-awareness is a trait he wishes the business world paid more attention to, more so than hustle or smarts.

“Self-awareness at its finest is accepting your shortcomings and accentuating your strengths.” In his blog post on the topic, he says that the moment you decide to do so, “things will change.”

4. Resourcefulness

mark cuban entrepreneur quote: "It's not about money or connections. It's the willingness to outwork and outlearn everyone."

Many entrepreneurs are faced with tasks and challenges they have never faced before. The ability to be resourceful is a mindset that helps entrepreneurs reach lofty goals without a clear way to achieve them.

When entrepreneurs are able to work resourcefully, they can effectively problem-solve and grow and scale their businesses without having all of the answers or resources to do so. Being resourceful requires a can-do attitude and willingness to work creatively to effectively manage a business without having the immediate know-how.

Mark Cuban — entrepreneur and investor — says that entrepreneurs must have a “willingness to outwork and outlearn everyone.” While having access to money and resources can make a difference, a key part of being an entrepreneur is cultivating those resources yourself. “There are no shortcuts, you have to work hard and try to put yourself in a position where, if luck strikes, you can see the opportunity and take advantage of it.”

5. Process-Oriented

masaaki imai entrepreneurship quote: "The message of the Kaizen strategy is that not a day should go by without some kind of improvement being made somewhere in the company."

Having solid processes in place is essential for any successful entrepreneur. In the world of business, a process is a repeatable series of steps that help those working within a business to complete necessary tasks. Processes can apply to various aspects of the business including sales, onboarding new team members, production, and product fulfillment.

When business owners have a process-oriented mindset, they are able to work smarter, not harder. Implementing processes in various areas of the business can prevent waste, allowing business owners to scale and grow their businesses. Additionally, when business owners have repeatable processes in place, they are able to easily train new team members to fulfill important aspects of the business without sacrificing time or quality.

Masaaki Imai, management consultant and founder of the Kaizen Institute Consulting Group, says this about processes and systems: “The message of the Kaizen strategy is that not a day should go by without some kind of improvement being made somewhere in the company.”

He is, of course, referring to a principle called Kaizen that champions the guiding philosophy of “continual improvement” often applied in lean business and productivity processes. Kaizen’s impact can be found in the snowball effect that incremental changes to process can make, and it has been practiced throughout the world — most notably at Toyota as part of the Toyota Way Fieldbook and at Trader Joe’s as one of the company’s core values.

6. Empathetic

dharmesh shah entrepreneurship quote: "In this day and age, I think empathy is more important than ever. As we scale our company, what will differentiate us in the future is what has differentiated us in the past: We fundamentally care about our customers and each other."

Empathy is an essential trait for entrepreneurs. Whether a business owner manages a large team of employees or works directly with their customers as a high-performing solopreneur, they must be able to connect with others on a genuine level.

Successful entrepreneurs are able to put themselves in others’ shoes, considering the perspectives of their employees and customers as they navigate key business decisions. In business, empathy can look like anticipating your customer’s needs, empowering your team members to take time off to recharge when they need it, and giving both employees and customers space to voice their opinions and concerns.

Business owners who have the soft skills necessary to connect with others, they may experience benefits such as increased customer loyalty, more customer referrals, and increased employee productivity.

Dharmesh Shah, co-founder of HubSpot, considers empathy such an important core value that he modified the organization’s Culture Code to include it. “Not too long ago, I found a bug in our Culture Code that needed fixing. We use the acronym HEART to describe qualities we value in our coworkers. For years, these qualities were: Humble, Effective, Adaptable, Remarkable, and Transparent. But something wasn’t right. HEART did not clearly capture one of the values that I think is fundamental and part of our core at HubSpot. That value is: empathy.”

7. Communicative

simon sinek entrepreneurship quote: "Leadership is a way of thinking, a way of acting and, most importantly, a way of communicating."

According to research from Wroclaw University, the top three communication skills for leaders are effective listening, getting a message across clearly and vividly, and providing feedback in a supportive manner.

These skills can put entrepreneurs at a competitive advantage. When a business owner is able to effectively listen to their customer, they are able to implement customer feedback that can help them improve their offerings. Additionally, when business leaders exhibit these skills with their own employees and team members, they are able to build trust which can improve productivity and business performance.

Communication is a big part of Simon Sinek’s message to business leaders. In fact, Sinek’s TED talk Start With Why covers the topic and is one of the most popular to date. “Communication is not about speaking what we think. Communication is about ensuring others hear what we mean.” According to Sinek, this is a vital part of leadership. 

8. Self-Motivated

noelle santos entrepreneurship quote: "So in my mind, I was like, 'Okay, that means I have two years to open a bookstore.' I took responsibility for it."

Simply put, when you’re your own boss you have to be able to keep yourself motivated to work effectively and consistently. Entrepreneurs must be able to work through creative ruts and points of feeling uninspired to keep their businesses going. This starts with knowing what drives you to keep going and drawing upon necessary inspiration when motivation is low.

A great example of this is entrepreneur Noëlle Santos, who didn’t intend to open a book store — she worked in HR for an IT firm — but was shaken by the news that the Barnes & Noble she frequented was closing.

The joy of reading was important to her, so she had to do something. “I was disgusted knowing that there was just one bookstore at the time. So that petition galvanized the property owners and Barnes & Noble and the politicians, they came to an agreement that they would extend the lease two years. So in my mind, I was like, ‘Okay, that means I have two years to open a bookstore.’ I took responsibility for it.”

Dedicated to her mission, she even worked at other bookstores for free over the course of two and a half years to learn the industry. From there, Santos fundraised and energized a community behind The Lit. Bar, bringing a bookstore back to the Bronx. The lesson here being that grit has to be inspired by something.

9. Confident

monica eaton-cardone entrepreneurship quote: "Part of having a successful business is not just being able to perform, but making sure that everyone knows how well you are doing."

If you have an idea you want to bring to life and share with others, you have to have the confidence to see it through. Whether you are introducing a new product to market, or are seeking outside funding for your business, you must be able to speak to what you offer clearly and confidently. Successful entrepreneurs stand behind their ideas without letting concern over what others may think get in the way.

In an article on women entrepreneurs in tech, Monica Eaton-Cardone emphasizes the importance of confidence, even in the face of failure. “We fail our way to success. It means you had the courage to try and there’s no way you can get to success without confronting failures.” To Eaton-Cardone, failure isn’t an obstacle for confidence, especially when it’s so important for entrepreneurs to market themselves. Instead failure can become strength.

She encountered such failure herself on her journey to revolutionize solutions in payment processing, and such obstacles nearly caused her business to crumble. On her website, she says, “Instead of folding up shop, I decided to dig myself out of this pit … I built an entire program based on every trial and error lesson I had learned — and it worked. Before long, the very same banks that had tried to shut down my business were calling and asking for my assistance.”

10. Flexible

hyungsoo kim entrepreneur quote: "After that meeting, our concept prototype literally went into the trash bin."

To have a sustainable business and see long-term success, entrepreneurs must be willing to pivot when necessary. Whether it is reformulating a product to make it better, or revising a business strategy to remain competitive, entrepreneurs who are too rigid and afraid to embrace change are at a disadvantage.

When an entrepreneur is flexible in their approach, they are able to take advantage of new opportunities as they come which can pay off in the long run. Business owners who are slow to adapt to change can miss out on valuable opportunities to innovate and adapt to their customer’s needs.

The lesson of flexibility is one that entrepreneur Hyungsoo Kim learned during the development of Eone’s first product, a tactile wristwatch for the visually impaired. The first iteration of the watch relied on braille, didn’t have a strong visually aesthetic appeal, and wasn’t functional for non-visually impaired individuals.

During a focus group meeting, Kim and his team found out that their customers wanted a product that would be attractive and inclusive even for those who didn’t have a visual impairment. This was something the design team hadn’t considered, and they had to go back to the drawing board.

“After that meeting, our concept prototype literally went into the trash bin. We were building something that we thought they wanted based out of common misconceptions and stereotypes.”

However, this lesson influenced their brand and its values. “We changed our name to Eone which is short for Everyone.” Read more about their pivot here.

11. Risk-Taker

bill gates entrepreneurship quote: "To win big, you sometimes have to take big risks."

The ability to take a calculated risk is one of the most valuable skills an entrepreneur can have. When business owners are willing to take risks, they are able to learn valuable lessons in business that can help their company in the long run.

Taking risks also helps businesses find new ways to differentiate themselves from the competition, which is especially helpful in saturated markets. In the event the risk doesn’t have the intended result, the entrepreneur can still apply the valuable lessons learned to future business decisions.

Microsoft’s Bill Gates is credited with the quote, “To win big, you sometimes have to take big risks.” Gates certainly took risks throughout the history of Microsoft, but perhaps his most notable risk was leaving Harvard during his sophomore year in 1975 to found the company. His vision was “a computer on every desk and in every home,” which was something no one could have conceived of at the time. The risk he took to make that vision a reality paid off, and Microsoft is worth more than a Harvard degree.

12. Resilient

kimberly bryant entrepreneurship quote: "When you've already experienced great challenges in your career, it gives minor setbacks a different perspective."

Last but certainly not least, successful entrepreneurs must have a sense of resiliency. While running a business, it is common for entrepreneurs to face closed doors and to be told “no” often from potential customers and those they are seeking funding from.

Many entrepreneurs may find themselves starting multiple businesses if their initial idea doesn’t take off. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly half of small businesses fail within the first four years. Some successful business owners may find their first few business ideas weren’t sustainable in the long run but can apply those learnings to new businesses. Whether an entrepreneur isn’t granted a sale or opportunity or has to start at square one, being resilient and inventive in the face of challenges is a must.

Kimberly Bryant, founder and CEO of Black Girls Code, encountered adversity along her career path as a Black woman in electrical engineering and biotechnology. It was when her daughter shared her interests in math and science that Bryant became a champion for STEM education for young girls of color. She founded her organization, Black Girls Code, and was originally met with opposition. In an interview with Shondaland, Bryant details how “People did not want to fund something called Black Girls Code (BGC) — they would try to get us to change our name. Even the few organizations that were doing something similar didn’t take us seriously.”

These roadblocks didn’t stop her, and she funded the organization with her own 401k. With perseverance and resilience, the organization gained steam and became a voice for social activism.

These traits along with a vision for what you want to accomplish are paramount to your success as an entrepreneur. Once you internalize your drive, you can then begin putting goals to paper and build out concrete action items to realize them. 

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in May 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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