Actions for Business Success

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If you have a dream to start a business, you might be wondering how you can make it a reality. You’ve read your fair share of self-help articles in this regard, but you are still uncertain as to what to do and how you can best realize your dreams.

Starting a business is an active process, so it’s vital that you take certain actions, mental and otherwise, to give yourself the best chance of succeeding in your new venture.

Cultivate a Clear Vision

One of the biggest stumbling blocks for would-be entrepreneurs is taking those stray thoughts and musings about what they’d like to do and shaping them into a comprehensive company outline and business strategy. A clear vision is an absolute requirement for any semblance of business success. In the same way that a writer needs to take their ideas, put them down on paper, and then set about drafting and redrafting them like mad, so too do you need to proceed from vagaries to a vision by drafting your plan.

Commit to Your Passion

One of the most important things to consider when starting any new venture is whether you have the passion to pull you through – because you’ll need it. Starting a new business means putting in the equivalent of a full-time job’s worth of hours or more, week after week. It means carrying the weight, taking the blame, and being in on every decision. It means doing everything to reach your goal, so you need to make sure it’s a goal you are passionate about obtaining.

Short-Term vs. Long-Term Gratification

We all like to take breaks and enjoy the fruits of our labor. That’s fine, and even healthy. What’s considerably more problematic is when that comes at the expense of long-term goals.

Balancing short-term and long-term gratification is one of the hardest parts of starting a new business. Sacrifices in short-term enjoyment sometimes need to be made. Again, however, if you are doing it in service of a greater goal about which you are truly passionate, it will be a sacrifice worth making.

With these actions and considerations in mind, you’ll have a better idea as to how to conceive of and pursue business success.

from Dan Idhenga | Business & Entrepreneurship

Why Some Leaders Are Left Behind

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You put in your hours and effort day after day at work. You give your all to the company. You’re also the one that’s consistently passed over for promotion. What are you doing wrong?

It’s a sad fact that far too often, deserving managers are passed over simply because they fail to stand out to management. They’ve done their research, ticked all the boxes for what you’d want in a leader from a personality standpoint, and yet never seem to be able to make things come together. They may be able to advance the company’s fortunes, but they’re not able to do so for their own.

What could be causing this, and what can you do to change things?

Leaders at Risk

To begin with, you need to be aware that some fields are more susceptible to being overlooked than others. In particular, if you work in a managerial role that emphasizes marketing or sales, especially for large chains, you are at an elevated risk of being overlooked compared to other managers.


For one thing, chains are, by their very nature, massive and somewhat impersonal. Even multi-national companies that make the effort to try and build a positive culture among team members still conglomerates. They can’t possibly keep track of every last manager at hundreds, perhaps thousands of locations in multiple countries.

By contrast, startups and tech and education firms have a tendency to be more aware of the personnel they have on hand due to their smaller size, more specialized nature of their work, or both.

Failing to Deliver Big

The biggest reason you might be overlooked is simply failing to deliver. How many times have we seen middling quarterbacks overlooked or outright replaced after falling short too many times?

There’s also the question of production – less isn’t more. You don’t want check downs, you want touchdowns, not 5-yard gains but 90-yard bombs – or the business equivalent thereof.

Don’t let yourself be overlooked and underrated. Make sure you stand out, get the job done, and you might just be the MVP manager of your company yet.

from Dan Idhenga | Leadership

Educational Content Is Good for Business

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As the saying goes, Knowledge is Power – but for whom?

In the business world, the answer is for both consumers and customers alike.

On the consumer side of things, it can help them to have a clearer idea as to the products and services offered and whether or not they suit their needs. This, in turn, gives them a greater sense of confidence when it comes to determining whether or not they want to purchase your product – or, indeed, what your product even is and what sets it apart.

Meanwhile, for companies, educating consumers about these principles can be a great way of informing them of a product’s virtues without it feeling like a hard sell. By educating their clientele on the virtues of a given product, businesses can give potential customers a better idea as to why they should purchase their products over those offered by competitors.

Educating consumers really is a win-win move.

So, how can you best go about creating content which will educate your consumer base?

SEO Articles

One of the best ways you can educate your consumer base on those virtues is via SEO articles. These articles are naturally going to get traction anyway, if they are constructed well, due to their search engine optimized nature, and that added attention given to a feature of a product or aspect of your service can give clients a clearer view of what to expect.

Content with Solutions

We consume certain products with an eye towards solving problems. If you buy tools from a hardware store, for example, you are doing so with an eye towards building or repairing things, and you thus need tools that can help prove a solution to your construction and repair needs.

Content with the goal of educating consumers works the same way. You need to present your products or services as an organic solution to consumers’ problems. Backlinks are your friend here. They can subtly link consumers to your company in an article that is otherwise geared toward educating them on a given issue.

Done tactfully, educational articles can be a smart move for both companies and consumers alike.

from Dan Idhenga | Business & Entrepreneurship

Show Your Team That You Value Them

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No one makes it to the top alone, you need help. That means you need team members, which means you need to show them that you care.

One of the biggest mistakes managers and CEOs make is overlooking the people in the trenches. Without your team, you’re nothing, and you need to show them you know that. What’s more, showing your team that you value them can be a great morale booster. People like to know that the work they do matters to people, not least to the people employing them. 

Show, Don’t (Just) Tell

It’s true of good writing, and it’s true of good leadership – show, don’t tell. Of course, this in and of itself is somewhat simplistic, as you sometimes need to outright tell the audience certain facts in writing, and it doesn’t hurt to explicitly tell your employees you value them.

But telling without showing is shallow. You need to back it up with action. That means you need to actually show your team you care, which in turn means knowing what you can do that would resonate with them.

All of this, in turn, points to the real key here – knowing your team well enough to know what they value that you can give to show how much you value them.

Doesn’t that mean caring about your team in the first place?

Team Rewards

As the saying goes, teamwork makes the dream work. Rewarding teams is a staple of corporate culture. Not only is it gratifying, but it tacitly rewards teamwork, which is always a good way to build a positive corporate culture.

Individual Rewards

For as great as team rewards are, however, it’s just as important to recognize the individuals that make up the greater whole. A huge part of showing people that you truly value them is by recognizing them as people, and not just employees. Take the time to interact with your employees on a personal level.

If you value the future of your company, you’ll want to make sure to show the people that make it happen you value them every day.

from Dan Idhenga | Leadership

Ways Leaders Can Remedy Occupational Burnout

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What do promising pitchers, opera singers, and business professionals all have in common?

They are all far too susceptible to burning themselves out early, or wrecking their careers later.

Pitchers are throwing harder and faster than ever before, which puts more strain on their bodies, thus leading to more of them tearing ligaments and requiring surgery, losing them significant playing time. Opera singers are cautioned against trying roles which are too far out of their range or otherwise focusing only on roles which are “too heavy” too early. A lot of heavy soprano work early in an opera career can blow out a beautiful voice far too early.

Then there are career professionals, struggling against occupational burnout.

Here are a few strategies to help you deal with burnout.

Honesty Helps

The first step to fixing a problem is admitting there is one in the first place. If you are an employee suffering burnout, try telling your boss. This can be terrifying – what if they tell you to “work harder, or else,” or simply fire you on the spot for “complaining?” The fact is bosses that act this way in response to the occasional polite, mild statement that someone’s being overworked is likely not a boss for whom you want to work.

If you are the boss in this situation, remember – having talented pitchers overthrow can ruin them forever, and overworking talented employees like a slave driver will just lose you employees and respect among those remaining.

Search for the Cause

Instead of being impatient with overworked employees, try and find the source of the problem. Maybe you can shift things around to try and address the root cause and ease the burden on that employee without creating slack for others. Maybe someone else is ready for a promotion or could use a bit more to do, and they could assist this burnt-out employee.

Seek Long-Term Solutions

As a business person, you know the importance of long-term solutions. An employee being burnt out by way too much work week after week won’t be cured by one afternoon out for lunch. Don’t use half-measures. Try and address the problem in a long-term sense.

In so doing, you’ll be doing yourself, your employees, and anyone with whom they work a big favor.

from Dan Idhenga | Leadership

Prove the Value of Business Development

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If you have ever found yourself in the position of having to sell a company on the concept of business development, chances are you have been asked one question in particular:

“What is business development?”

Part of the reason why this question can be hard to answer even for people who work in the industry is that “business development” can almost sound a little redundant. After all, we already associate “business” with “development.” What type of business endeavor doesn’t emphasize or strive for development?

That’s why it is helpful to note that business development is concerned with specific forms of development, and how it can create sustainable growth for your business.

What does this add up to, and why is it valuable?

Long-Term Development

The big selling point of business development is the fact that it focuses on developing your company for the long term. Other forms of business development focus on short-term or one-time gains. This can help, of course, and they have their place in a company’s development plan. 

In sports, however, while free-agent signings can give a huge boost and help teams win, for true sustained success, you need to build for the long term by developing a core of young players.

The same holds true for businesses. Short-term gains are great, but to really succeed, you need long-term development to succeed.

And just how can you do that?

Business Development Strategies

Some of the most effective business development strategies include the following:

  • Encouraging companies to think more about the “why” of their actions, thus creating a greater degree of introspection and forethought when planning out strategies
  • Making sure long-term planning is a priority, with targeted goals stratified along the way so short-term progress can be met and checked as part of a grander overall plan
  • Explaining these principles to management in such a way as to encourage their endorsement of and engagement in the process

With this process in mind, you’ll be able to develop your business strategy with long-term goals in mind in such a way as to prioritize sustainable growth, better understand where, how, and why you’re gaining ground, and thus figure out what you can do with that information.

from Dan Idhenga | Business & Entrepreneurship

Distinguishing Between Content Marketing and Product Marketing

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One of the most important things to take into account when marketing your product is what type of marketing is called for in a given situation. After all, marketing is all about messaging, and you don’t want to send mixed messages or, worse, the wrong message. It is thus of utmost importance that you make sure you are using the right type of marketing for content as opposed to any old marketing tools.

Unfortunately, marketing teams far too often make the mistake of simply conflating the two.

Fortunately, this guide can help disentangle and demystify the distinction for you.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is the type of marketing you employ to create engagement with consumers as they research information about your products, the industry and region you service, and other pertinent details. The content can consist of articles, blog posts, videos, social media posts, and similar content. 

For example, if you work in the travel industry, your content can include articles about travel destinations, hotels, flights, and other pertinent information which is both interesting for readers and targeted to the topic in question.

This type of content should not typically be explicit in pushing any products and services. Instead, it should be about topics pertinent to your products and services, with maybe an integrated link or two to your products. This integration should be as organic as possible.

In short, content marketing is the “soft sell” of the online marketing world.

Product Marketing

By contrast, product marketing is far more explicit. Here, you are directly engaged with your product or service, creating articles, posts, and other content that features and describes the subject in question. You want to be sure to show consumers what sets your product apart from others on the market.

You want to take care to include your core product messaging points in this type of content. Content marketing should engage clients with material that is pertinent to the greater industry. Product marketing is all about your product.

With that distinction in mind, you should be able to create more targeted and effective content and product marketing materials.

from Dan Idhenga | Business & Entrepreneurship

How to Show Vulnerability as a Leader

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One of the biggest mistakes leaders make, young and old, within business and outside, is that they all too often cover up their vulnerabilities and act as though they’re impervious to emotional pain. Not only is this obviously untrue, but it’s also a stance that can hurt your company in the long run.

For one thing, your employees want to know that they’re working for a person who cares and empathizes with others, not an emotionless egotistical psychopath who refuses to admit any weakness. As such, projecting an aura of invulnerability can really result in a culture of unapproachability, which is never something you want to follow you in business. There’s also the fact that your claim of invulnerability is likely to come off as a lie – never a good trait for leaders.

But how can you show vulnerability as a leader without looking “weak?”

“Weak” Versus “Human”

First, it’s vital to distinguish between looking “weak” and “human.” Making mistakes, failing from time to time – that’s human. Everyone does that, including your employees, and they’ll want to know that they’re not the end of the world. Projecting a façade of invulnerability can make everyone tense. Allowing for brief vulnerability can help people empathize and, thus, connect as a team.

Toxic Culture

One of the modern sources of this invulnerability myth is toxic masculinity and, to an extent, toxic femininity. The former too often scorns emotions as “weak,” leading to repressed rage and the kind of appearance of false stoicism and transparent insincerity we discussed before. The latter too often seeks to compensate for the very real problem of sexism and women being marginalized at work by going the other direction and becoming overly aggressive and hostile.

Sharing vulnerabilities can help you connect, become relatable, and succeed in interpersonal business ventures. Personal or workplace toxicity creating a lie of invulnerability will simply poison all that.

A Loss of Confidence 

Think admitting to vulnerabilities and mistakes will cause people to lose confidence? Think again. While some people will always be petty and pounce on the vulnerable, those with brains and emotional cores understand that revealing vulnerabilities takes courage and is, indeed, a sign of moral fiber and strength.

Honesty in showing vulnerability is a vital strategy for dealing with tough times and setbacks in business and life.

from Dan Idhenga | Leadership

How Leaders Can Inspire Great Culture

In the book Disney War, an anecdote is recalled wherein then-CEO Michael Eisner says that it’s not the job of Disney to make statements, history, or art, but simply to make money, and that to do so, they may inadvertently contribute to culture in the process.

However successful (and controversial) as Eisner’s tenure at Disney may have been, there’s something incredibly cynical and inaccurate of that mode of thinking. After all, great businesses such as Disney do indeed inspire culture – in the world and within their companies. Disney is famous for attempting to cultivate what it considers a cheerful, positive, “Disney-brand” corporate culture. Whether you want to model that or go for something less Snow White and Sleeping Beauty and more Silicon Valley, as the leader, you’re the one who starts and maintains company culture.

Lead by Example

The most famous exemplar of this is that age-old adage of leading by example. We see plenty enchanted and animal kingdoms go to wrack and ruin in Disney films under the rule of rulers who set a bad example until the good, virtuous hero wins the day and restores peace and prosperity. That’s a simple, fairy tale view of morality, but when it comes to establishing a corporate culture, there’s more than a pinch of pixie dust to it. Like fairy tales and Disney heroes of old, your morals and attitude serve as an example for your workplace culture.

Be Empathetic

Another staple of Disney villainy? A lack of empathy. One of the quickest ways to sour company culture is to come off as a petty Disney-worthy tyrant who doesn’t care about their workers. On the contrary, like Disney heroes, you want to appear as though you care about everyone “big and small.”

Share the Battle

Another mark of Disney-brand villainy? Detachment. Treating coworkers as “underlings” and being detached from goings-on is a sure way to lose a kingdom or business. On the other hand, sharing the struggle and showing you’re one of the team reinforces the “teamwork” idea more than a thousand dull “inspirational” team-building speeches can.

Lead your company to Happily Ever After with these company culture-changing tips.

Originally published at

How to Actually Become an Effective Leader

Dan Idhenga Effective Leaders

Bonnie Tyler had it right – from time to time, we all need a hero. In the corporate world, that means becoming the kind of leader your company needs to take it to the top. You can have the best idea, the finest personnel on hand, and enough resources to make everything happen, but if you don’t have effective leadership at the top, that directionless uncertainty will filter all the way down to the bottom.

Naturally, you don’t want that to happen. You’d like to lead your company towards a brighter tomorrow. First, however, you have to find out how to actually become an effective leader. 

Write it Out

The drafting powers of paper and pen can be of great assistance when working out a new speech or presentation for a meeting. You don’t want your employees to think that you are scatterbrained or don’t have a clear vision for the company. Take the time to map out your ideas before you speak them aloud so as to give you the chance to work out any kinks first.

Accountability Counts

Nothing costs you leadership points faster than preaching A and teaching B. As a leader, you are not just held to a higher standard, you are the standard to which people look to set the moral and business character of the company. If you come across as lazy, petty, selfish, and short-sighted, guess what type of employees and corporate culture you are likely going to have?

Set Goals

Last, but not least, you want to be sure to avoid wishy-washiness or any semblance of lacking direction. That means setting goals. That said, setting goals and then never hitting them is a bad blow for your reputation as a leader, to say nothing of the crushing emotional disappointment it can bring you. Setting small, individual goals that can be quickly and regularly attained is a much better solution.

Above all, try. There are many types of leadership and many paths to get there, but none will succeed if you don’t put in the effort.

Originally published at

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