Five Tips for Excellent Public SpeakingPublic speaking is one of those things we're forced to do in college. And when I say forced, I mean forced.

I remember the first time I had to stand up in front of my peers. It wasn't fun at all.

But then we begin to move up the corporate ladder. We go to sales meetings and pitch new business. We speak at our industry organizations and we generate some business leads that way.

In fact, speaking is one of the most effective ways to generate business leads, yet many of us don't do it.

Five Tips for Excellent Public Speaking

Ross McCammon outlines what you can do to “step up to the podium” in order to make it more comfortable so you can easily leave with a stack of cards from people who want to hire you.

He also has some tips for what you should not do:

  1. Don’t imagine the audience in underwear…talk about a serious distraction!
  2. Thank no more than three people at the beginning of your speech.
  3. Do not close your eyes in a dramatic fashion at a key point in the speech.
  4. Don’t flail your arms, legs, hips, etc., in a dramatic fashion.

At some point throughout your career, you will have to get up and speak in front of people. Spend some time crafting your speech and that story. Your story is what you will be remembered for. It will find it’s way into everything you do.

You will be able to incorporate it into your mission, your website, your collateral, your pitches…everything.

Leadership Lessons from the GridironIn 2011, the Academy Award for best documentary feature went to “Undefeated,” which follows coach Bill Courtney and the Manassas Tigers high school football team.

Bryan Burkhart, a regular contributor to The New York Times, felt so inspired by this compelling film, he contacted Courtney to learn more about his philosophy on building and leading a team.

A little background first: Up to 2003, the Manassas Tigers held a less-than-impressive record of 5 wins and 95 losses. Six years later, it made its first playoff appearance in team history. The team was led by a successful entrepreneur, the founder of Classic American Hardwoods, which Courtney started out of his living room in 2001. His small business anticipates sales of roughly $40 million this year.

So what does a hard-driving entrepreneur and the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary have to tell us about leadership?

Four Leadership Lessons from the Gridiron

Always Be Recruiting

Courtney walked the halls of Manassas High School on a daily basis, “with a smile and a pat on the back for students as they walked by.” Students responded favorably to his unbridled enthusiasm for the team, as did the nine men who volunteered to serve on his coaching staff, drawn by “the vision for what we could do for the kids.”

Practice is Key to Success

Courtney approached practice on the field the same way he runs his business. It should always be  “organized, on time and on schedule,” he says. Through practice (and more practice), he and his fellow coaches taught the promising young athletes to develop the basics for “both general skills and specific positions.”

Motivate by Example

Courtney, dubbed by Esquire as “Coach of the Year,” believes in working hard and figuring out how to make everyone else do the same.

The most effective way to achieve this is by setting the right example. “At Manassas, the kids knew that I was running my own business … but they saw me working hard every day, volunteering at the school to be their coach,” says Courtney. Seeing how much he cared about them, the young athletes felt motivated to do the same for him.

Focus on the Fundamentals

In business and on the gridiron, Courtney adheres to the fundamentals:

The key is “knowing the talent on your team,” he says. “Players win games, not coaches.”

Leadership qualities can be found in all walks of life, from the board room to the locker room. When opportunities arise to glean some insights from successful leaders, it’s always worth hearing what they have to say.

How do you use the fundamentals to build your team?

Five Apps Recommended by Top EntrepreneursThere’s a smartphone app for just about everything these days, from creating documents, assigning tasks, hosting conference calls, scheduling meetings, to processing purchases - you name it, it can be done on a phone.

But the large number of mobile apps out there can be overwhelming. Before you waste time and money trying apps that aren’t right for you, reach out to your peers for recommendations.

Fast Company editor Erin Schulte told contributor Leo Widrich, “One of the problems that crops up is a lot of people respond with “I love Twitter, Dropbox, and Evernote!” Those are great tools, but might not add that much value for our readers.”

So Wildrich asked top entrepreneurs for their favorite, but perhaps lesser known, tools they use to simplify everyday tasks.

Five Useful Apps for Entrepreneurs

Clicky is a real time web analytics tool. “It helps you monitor, analyze, and react to your website’s traffic. It uses Google Analytics, but presents the data in a more useful manner,” says Michael Hyatt, author of Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World.


Buffer is an efficient tool to help you share on social media. It schedules content you find, and posts it automatically throughout the day. “Buffer makes that process of sharing information to audiences so much easier,” says Jay Baer, social media consultant and president at


TINYpulse captures anonymous feedback from your team to reveal insights and trends, as well as opportunities to improve company culture, retention, and overall results. Rand Fishkin, CEO of SEOmoz says, “It’s an incredibly valuable way to get honest, direct feedback about how things are going culture/team wise.”

 Keynote Presenter View

This is a great tool when you deliver presentations. While your presentation appears clean on the main display for your audience, you’re able to see the current and next slides, your slide notes, a clock, and a timer. “I can’t imagine giving a fluid talk without it,” says Seth Godin, author and public speaker.


Do you find articles or videos you want to read or view but don’t have the time? Then this is a great app for you. You can put pretty much anything into Pocket. Add directly from your browser, or from over 300 other apps. Everything you put in Pocket will be on your phone, tablet, or computer. “Pocket helps me stay focused by deferring things I want to read until later so I don’t break my flow,” says Dharmesh Shah, CTO of HubSpot.

Today, mobile apps allow business owners to manage their entire operation from their mobile devices. Everyone has a favorite, but it’s crucial to find the ones that make a difference to you and your business.

What is your favorite app?

Thanks to Gustav H for the image.

Three Steps to Safely Navigate New Market TerrainAs their organizations grow and mature, business leaders expanding into new markets and areas of operation need to know their way around new market terrain.

National distribution of products involves multiple tax codes, regulations, and compliance standards.

In this post on Entrepreneur, contributor and entrepreneur Kari Warberg Block shares her advice on navigating new market terrain, based on her own experiences.

How to Safely Navigate New Market Terrain

Research Tax Nexus

Adding employees, contract staff, and property in another state from your current state of incorporation introduces tax nexus. Nexus is a measure used by state tax offices to determine whether out-of-state businesses are liable for sales tax.

“Nexus can apply when your company maintains any property, product, or people in another state,” notes Block.

Consult with your accountant and state revenue officials to determine whether nexus applies to your products or services.

“If you utilize an independent sales representative who signs a binding contract, you as an employer may be liable to Nexus burden in some states.”

Understand State Regulations and Fees

Regulations and fees can vary dramatically between states, so Block advises businesses do their research while planning any physical expansion or product distribution.

For example, many manufacturers are required to pay state-license fees for various products, while states like Minnesota and North Carolina asses fees based on percentage of sales or shipments within their borders.

“These fees can cost as much as eight percent of a company’s total sales volume, in addition to state license fees and regulatory consultant costs.”

Regulations and fees may not apply to your specific business, but Block says it is imperative that business leaders pull in the expertise of growth consultants and tax attorneys, and consult state regulatory bodies to make sure they are in compliance, before distributing nationally or opening new locations.

Business growth is a positive thing across the board for organizations of all size, but business leaders must carefully consider the financial implications of expansion across all cost centers.

Learning the Lowdown of HR Law

Hiring is always an exciting time for organizations, but adding staff in various states makes them subject to state unemployment and worker’s compensation taxes. Because employment rules vary state to state, it is imperative you understand how hiring impacts employment policies for vacation, sick leave, and paid holidays.

“The burden of proof falls on the employer if the employee feels they are entitled to compensation for working nights, weekends, and holidays. If your employees answer texts, tweets or Facebook messages after hours, time spent working must be documented and paid.”

Block notes she found business advisors with expertise in tax liability, risk management, and business operations invaluable as she expanded nationally.

If you are considering expanding into other states, or offering your products and services at a national level, do your research, and before you navigate new market terrain, consult with trusted advisors to consider all the implications.

How to Create Internship Programs That WorkAs organizations grow and new generations of workers enter the business world, there is once again attention on internship programs – programs that provide value for both the intern and the businesses that welcome them in.

In this article for Entrepreneur, Nina Zipkin outlines three strategies (with input from key business leaders) for building successful internship programs that interns, first-time employees, and business owners will find beneficial.


Three Strategies to Create Internship Programs That Work

State Your Expectations Up Front

It’s important that supervisors and interns communicate from the very beginning about what they both hope to gain from the experience. Define appropriate tasks an intern can realistically accomplish during the time they are with you, and have ongoing projects slated as specific assignments are complete.

“Write out procedures for the little things you take for granted, such as using your phone system,” says Intern Profits cofounder Dreama Lee.

Make information about internal processes and technology easily available. Zipkin recommends a Wiki-style training guide interns can reference when questions arise.

Establish an Open-Door Policy

Remember, interns are there to learn, so make time to check in periodically, field questions, and be available to share counsel and hear out concerns.

“Providing anything less than the best educational experience for your interns doesn’t just damage your future hiring potential, but also that of other companies within your industry,” says Nathan Parcells, CMO of InternMatch.

Companies that take advantage of their interns, either by not providing a valuable learning experience or only using them for odd jobs around the office, risk putting their own reputations on the line.

Help Them Help You

“Internships are not just a way of attracting full-time candidates; they’re a way of finding and hiring new full-time employees who are very familiar with your corporate culture,” says Sageworks chairman and co-founder Brian Hamilton.

When welcoming interns into your organization, take the time to introduce them to established employees and newer hires as often as you can, and listen to what they have to say. As newcomers, they’ll become keenly aware of how the company works, and can offer a fresh, new perspective.

You’ll gain valuable insights into how your organization is perceived from the outside and how to change things for increased efficiency and productivity.

How to Build a Sustainable BusinessHere’s a question every business owner considers at some point in their career: “How do I build a sustainable business?”

The answer isn’t simple or quick or easy, but Joe Worth, vice president of operations and partner at B2B CFO says, “the answer is the same for any small business, whether it’s looking to cash out in 50 months or 50 years.”

In a recent article for Entrepreneur, Worth lays out what he calls “a basic checklist” to build a sustainable business.

A Sustainable Business is Financially Strong

Having financial controls in place reduces the possibilities of theft or fraud and enables you to make effective decisions about the future. “Until you know where every penny’s going,” Worth says, “your business isn’t on sound footing.”

Reduce or Eliminate Distractions

Your job as CEO or business owner is to focus on the future—“building relationships, developing new products and services and overseeing other big-picture ideas.”

But you can’t attend to these vital functions if you’re distracted by cash flow issues or hiring and firing employees.

“Hire trustworthy and smart people to handle the details,” Worth says. “They’re worth it.”


Whatever products or services you’re providing, keep thinking about ways to diversify your offerings. “Spreading sales over more customers, product lines, or markets … enhances opportunities for growth.”

Document Business Processes

Worth says, “I often tell owners if they want to be a bigger company eventually, act like one now.”

This means you have to maintain accurate and comprehensive documentation of your business processes.

Strive for Continuous Improvement

An inefficient business is almost guaranteed to fail sooner, rather than later. Improve efficiencies wherever possible, Worth says. “Every dollar of improvement here will result in more dollars of value, whether it’s four years from now or 40.”

Guard Your Intellectual Property

Think it’s too costly to hire an IP attorney? If so, your business could be at risk of losing valuable rights for trademarks, names, designs, technologies, etc.

Maintain Equipment and Upgrade Where Necessary

The technology used in your business must be maintained because, without it, what do you have?

As Worth notes, you should always have access to funds “that can be used to take advantage of technological improvements, expand operations and keep everything in running order.”

Be a Fair and Inclusive Employer

Obviously, a high-performing team is a must-have for the longevity of your business. Put HR policies in place that increase employee retention, rather than diminish it.

Don’t Compete on Price

Becoming known for undercutting the competition is a non-starter, Worth says. Not only does it destroy your profit margins, “you want customers to choose you for your superior products and services, not because you’re cheapest.”

Businesses that focus on the quick buck rarely last long.

Instead, a company whose owner charts growth and progress in years, not months, “is a much easier ship to steer.”

What are you doing to build a sustainable business?  


Common Mistakes a New Entrepreneur Might MakeAs a new entrepreneur, you have a great idea for a business. You work hard to build a website to support the business, but you’re careful not to rush into the launch. Some tweaks here, a little adjusting there—you want everything to be perfect before announcing it to the world.

According to Alison Johnston Rue, a contributor to The Daily Muse and CEO/co-founder of InstaEDU, an online tutoring company, that’s not the way to go. “It’s the opposite approach—launching something imperfect, getting plenty of feedback, and going through quite a few rounds of trial and error—that will ensure that your company is set up for success.”

Sounds counterintuitive, right?

So do her other nominations for “big mistakes a new entrepreneur makes”—but certainly advice worth considering.

Mistake #1: Start with a Business Plan

Johnston isn't suggesting you abandon this tried-and-true first step in starting a business, “but you’re wasting your time if you start by drafting a 20-page plan.”

Yes, do your due diligence—including all the appropriate market research and financial analysis—and then find the easiest way to assess how much potential consumer interest there’s likely to be in your future product.

“Without a product that people like,” Johnston notes, “a business plan is pretty useless.

Mistake #2: Don’t Let the Cat Out of the Bag

It’s only natural to want to keep your brilliant, once-in-a-lifetime idea to yourself until launch-time.

Why make it easy for someone to steal it?

But there’s a good reason for sharing what you want to do—the process can make your great idea even better.

Getting feedback from other entrepreneurs (as well as “normal people”) can be very helpful, Johnston says. “Discussing your start-up with others will give you greater insight into where there are holes, what does (or doesn't) resonate with people, and the strategies you could use as you’re getting started.”

In other words, someone’s casual reaction to your idea may provide insights into marketing and development that would have never have occurred to you otherwise.

Mistake #3: Sit Back and Wait for Customers to Flood In

With all the hard work you've put into your new venture, you’re probably convinced as soon as people hear about your product, they’ll knock down the door to be your first customers. Johnston reminds new entrepreneurs “there are thousands of products out there fighting for the attention of your target customers.”

And plenty of would-be customers aren't ready to buy right away. “Most great companies take some time to find their audience.”

Don't Make These New Entrepreneur Mistakes

Anxious to launch your new business?

Flexibility, creativity, and the willingness to experiment are qualities just as important as the enthusiasm that got you this far in the first place.

What new entrepreneur lessons have you learned about starting a business?  


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