Do you struggle with communicating effectively? Communication is a key part of success at work or in other parts of your life. Top leaders have practiced and mastered the skills that enable them to communicate so well. Luckily, you too can learn these same skills!
Follow these strategies to practice essential communication skills:
Learn to Listen
Top leaders know that listening is a crucial part of communication. Learn to love listening and engage in the stories of others.
Try to really pay attention during a conversation instead of being distracted by your phone or another device. Have one conversation at a time to give each person your full attention.
Practice retelling the person’s story in your mind to get better at listening.
Everyone wants to be heard. Others will notice that you’re listening to them and will go away from your conversations thinking what a great communicator you are when all you did was listen.
Avoid Slang and Informalities
It’s normal to use slang or other types of informal language while talking to friends or family. However, business usually requires a more formal language set. Pay attention to who you’re talking to and make the necessary adjustments.
Slang, acronyms, and informalities can also make some people feel uncomfortable, especially if they’re not familiar with them.
Focus on Being Brief
Top leaders know that you don’t have to make a long speech to be effective.
Practice being brief and getting your point across with fewer words and less time. People appreciate brief conversations and respect others who don’t go off on tangents.
However, ensure you’re still providing enough information while you talk. You don’t want to be vague or miss important details.
This skill may take time to develop, so practice it often. The next time you have a conversation, try to get your point across with less talking. Try to summarize the important parts and only focus on them while you talk.
Pay Attention to Other’s Emotions
When you talk, take note of how the other person is reacting. Words are powerful, and communication can affect people in many different ways.
You may want to learn psychology to understand emotions better.
Show sympathy and empathy when it’s appropriate during a conversation.
Look at things from the other person’s point of view without criticism or judgment.
Communication is easier for charismatic people, but you can learn this skill.
One of the most important aspects of charisma is confidence, but not arrogance or self-righteousness. Confident communicators know their value and worth, but they’re also respectful of others.
Another facet of charisma is optimism, and it’s also a big part of communication. Even if you’re having a difficult conversation, focus on something positive. Top leaders are good at finding the silver lining.
Charismatic communicators are interesting, but they also share interesting information with others.They focus on innovation and new ideas that give people a spark.
You can learn to communicate more effectively by following these tips from top leaders. Practice these skills as often as possible. You’ll have many opportunities each day. Every time you have a conversation with anyone is an opportunity to practice a little more. And as you know, practice makes perfect!
As the new year comes around, people may start thinking about opening their own business. But what if you don’t want to open a store or hire a bunch of people. Can you do something as a one-person business?
Many people dream of starting their own business. There’s something about being your own boss, setting your own hours, and doing something you’re passionate about that resonates with pretty much everyone.
That being said, there are a number of people that don’t know what type of business they’d like to start. With so many options these days it can be a little overwhelming.
So, we’ve put together a list of five businesses that you can start all on your own. Each of these ideas have proven to be profitable if executed correctly and should work for almost everyone.
A freelancer is a contractor that works for many different companies in order to provide them with specialized skills and expertise.
If you’ve spent a decent amount of time in the workforce then chances are you’ve picked up some valuable skills. Or maybe you’ve gone to school to become certified in a specific discipline. Becoming a freelancer will allow you to use those skills you’ve learned to start your own business.
One of the best parts about starting a freelance business is that you can do it part-time. According to a recent survey, 55% of freelancers still have a full-time job. This means you can build up your business while keeping your current job, which reduces a lot of your risk.
Some of the most in-demand freelance skills include:
However, there are plenty of other areas you can specialize in.
When it comes to finding work, a great place to start is sites like Upwork and Fiverr. Here you’ll be able to advertise your services and apply for available job postings in your chosen field.
Once you build a core group of clients that keep giving you work there’s no reason why you can’t turn this into a full-time business.
If you’re passionate about teaching and inspiring people, then coaching could be perfect for you. And best of all, advances in technology mean you can build this type of business completely online.
First, you need to decide what type of coach you want to be. There are plenty of choices, including:
The path you choose will depend mostly on your experience, knowledge, and interests.
Next, you need to create some products. Consider starting with something small, like a PDF or video, that’s lower-priced or even free. This will let people try out your services without a lot of risk.
If they find your information valuable then you can upsell them to a higher-priced item, like a course or consultation services.
This business model has been really gaining popularity in the last few years, largely because it’s highly profitable and open to anyone.
Amazon is the world’s largest retailer, and in order to expand their product catalog even further they allow individual sellers to offer items on their site as well. This is a great opportunity for you to start an eCommerce business on a massive marketplace that already has millions of customers.
You can become a tutor for virtually any course, but some of the topics with the highest demand include:
So, if you have experience with these or other topics, tutoring might be your best path to starting your own business.
Social Media Marketing
When it comes to marketing social media is the way of the future. A recent report by Adobe states that 50% of Gen Z and 42% of Millennials consider social media the most relevant marketing channel.
If you have experience doing this kind of work for your employer, or you’re just passionate about social media, then you may be able to turn this into an income. Many older business owners still aren’t that knowledgeable when about this technology and are looking for experts to help them.
To start, you need to build your own social media following on multiple channels, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. People want to see that you’re able to grow your own profiles before they hire you to help with theirs.
Next, make sure you’re up-to-date on all the latest technology and best practices, as this industry is always evolving.
When you’re ready, start looking for work. Begin with smaller lower-paid jobs to build up your portfolio. Once you have some experience you can start going after larger contracts.
Starting your own business doesn’t need to be a dream. As you can see, there are plenty of ways you can make it a reality. If you’re interested in having your own business, come up with an idea and then start working on it in your free time.
It won’t happen overnight, but if you work hard and stick with it then before long you should have a business you can call your own.
Editor’s Note: This post was written by the Amazon experts team from AMZScout a top 3 Amazon analytics tool worldwide with over 500,000 users, including companies like Red Bull, Disney, and Casio, which has been available for over four years. We do research and frequently find new and exciting trends connected to Amazon and other eCommerce businesses that we love to provide to readers.
The other day I was running errands and stopped at my bank. I went inside, did my business, and went back to my car. As I sat there checking emails, I was surprised by my passenger door opening with a young lady standing there.
She looked up at me, shrieked, and said “Oh my God!”
I looked at her then noticed that across the parking lot behind her was a vehicle exactly like mine with her husband sitting in it startled with a surprise too.
She apologized and gently closed my car door, exiting to her vehicle.
I shouted at her husband, asking him if he wanted to keep her. He said “Yes, I do.”
I said “Well, she’s all yours. Have a nice day!”
As we both drove away, I was thinking about FOCUS.
Clearly that young lady was very focused on something. So focused that she ignored the distance between her car and mine, simply letting the “impression” of a similar car influence her choice for opening the door.
I too was very focused on emails form my phone and ignored her approaching my car until it was too late and she had swung open the door.
It made for a good laugh, but could have been far worse.
As leaders, we can get so laser-focused on an idea we lose sight of other opportunities or we ignore facts and circumstances that could impact our outcome.
When was the last time you got focused like that?
I have the odd opportunity to work with leaders on both ends of the business spectrum. I coach executives in some of the largest companies on the globe, like ExxonMobil and UPS. I also coach entrepreneurs and sole proprietors who are busy building new companies.
Yet the similarities I see are common to both. Running an organization requires thoughtful, dedicated leadership. Good management is not enough. You have to demonstrate real leadership. (I’ve written about the differences between management and leadership HERE).
Leaders can get blinded by ideas that create an intense focus on going one way or another. Once choices are made, nothing will persuade them to change direction. That can have a disasterous effect.
It’s one thing to be committed to a decision. Sure, the team wants you, their leader, to be certain on which way you want to go.
However, putting your head down once the decision is made can be problematic.
It’s a Tricky Balancing Act
I realize it can be tricky to be decisive yet open to other input. I do believe there are ways you can still make solid decisions and stay sensitive to things happening around you.
Here are some of the best ways I’ve seen work.
First, keep your team engaged. Just because you made the decision doesn’t mean your team should be shut off from reporting changes. For some reason I’m thinking about the submarine Captain and his crew. You’ve likely seen the war movies, you know what I mean. The Captain shouts an order but the crew is reporting back information they see on their monitors.
Next, have a reporting mechanism that works. In Six Sigma process improvement, there is a model known as DMAIC. It is an acronym for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control.
DMAIC is the core of continuous imporvement of your process. By following these steps, you gain insights that you might not otherwise pay attentiion to.
Lastly, maintain communication with your team. Engage them for their valuable input. Even once the “ship” is underway, you have to allow course corrections to maintain a successful voyage. (Watch Greyhound with Tom Hanks to know what I mean here).
The Leader’s Challenge
The next time you make a big decision, don’t forget about keeping your eyes open for situation and circumstance around you changing. Don’t let your focus be so blinding that external factors get missed of overlooked.
Starting and running a small business can be a blessing and a curse. The dream can become a nightmare. Yet there can be great rewards too.
There are so many things that can get in the way of running and owning a successful business. You hear people talk about “cash is king” or growing the sales pipeline, closing more deals, making payroll, and creating satisfied customers.
While these are all very significant issues for a business owner there is one thing that is even bigger than all of these put together. Do you have any idea what it may be?
Wait for it…..
Your ego. Yep. Good old fashioned pride.
Let me get straight to the point.
Small Business Owner’s Fear
Letting your pride or ego get in the way can be the exit ramp to disaster. On one hand, entrepreneurs must be fearless. They have to start with a whole lot of courage. For that, I applaud you.
Think about it. You hear stories of people quitting their day job to start a business. That takes guts and sheer willpower.
However, that same dogged determination can become the owner’s death sentence too.
The Paradox of Success
Many years ago I wrote a piece I call the “Paradox of Success.” I got this idea after watching dozens of my banking clients go through similar situations. It goes like this.
For those of you who have actually ventured out to start your own company, you understand the intense effort and tremendous satisfaction you achieve by watching the company grow.
Those first few profit dollars start to roll in. Real profit, free and clear. No debt, no more obligations to pay off, pure, real profit. For all the planning, sweat equity, real equity investment, and down-right hard work, you eventually arrive at the threshold of the very thing you set out to accomplish…. SUCCESS!
Ah, but beware. The very thing you strive so hard to achieve, that is your company’s success, can start the downward spiral to eventual destruction. Perhaps even the infamous “implosion” of the company. That is the phenomenon called the Paradox of Success. In other words, success brings failure. How can that be? Let’s explore the full timeline.
First the Beginnings
As was described, the founder sets out to open his or her own business. Perhaps it is a sole proprietor, maybe “Mom and Pop”. It can even be a couple of good friends who decide to start something together. The actual legal structure does not particularly matter at this point.
The focus is on getting going and having that first order come through the door. Days and weeks go by. The founder(s) perform all the daily chores….everything! Sales, marketing, bookkeeping, systems, purchasing, supplies, advertising, contracts, payables, receivables, answering phones, sweeping floors, cleaning the bathrooms…everything!
Next, business starts to grow. The word is out. Your business has something people want and need. Your service ideas are working very well. Customers like what you have. Word of mouth even starts to grow. You are getting business from sources you had not really thought about at the start.
Finally, the business becomes more than you and your partner can handle. You decide to hire your first employees. This becomes turning point number one. New employees do not bring the same levels of dedication, commitment, and energy you had when you started the business. Your ideas are not their ideas. You must start to train and coach to be sure the new guys on the bus are fully on board.
Moving Further Toward Success
The service levels you created and nurtured must be sustained. The principles on which you founded the business must be reinforced. There needs to be a feedback process and a monitoring mechanism to be sure your values and principles are being followed.
Almost daily you feel the tug of contention for your time. The time spent to make the direct business contacts you enjoyed making at the start must now be juggled with the effort to resolve internal issues. Perhaps you add a few more hours to the week. Certain tensions become more frequent.
With employees present, interpersonal matters start to creep in. Sally doesn’t like Susie. Bob and Ted argue over sports teams and their preference in cars they drive. None of this is contributing the business. The founders become referees. Hostilities can even boil over when customers are present. A lack of leadership or even a momentary lapse of leadership can become significant. Who can handle these things?
Phase Two Begins – Leadership
Then, mid-managers are hired or appointed. Surely the owners can rely upon other seasoned professionals to handle the staff issues and keep the ship sailing. Now a new layer is created.
For all the potential good that can be accomplished here, there comes a trade-off. Again, the founders’ values have to be enforced, promoted, espoused, heralded, and cheered about.
Can the mid-manages carry the same flag? All the while the growth in volume creates a strain on the original infrastructure. Are the same tools and equipment that were used to open the business still effective? Have systems started to suffer? This can include everything from the high end network servers to the staplers.
And more importantly, who is truly watching over these areas. Have the partners brought the right skills on their own to address all the issues? Accountability for all aspects of business growth becomes more meaningful. If cash and checks are being handled, controls must be implemented. Growth across state lines adds to the compliance and regulatory burden. Specialists have to be added to the mix like legal counsel, accountants, IT professionals, etc.
The False Security
The very essentials that can help grow and expand the business become challenges to the owners. Volumes and profits continue to rise. A false sense of security here can be deadly. A failure to admit the changes that are happening underneath and any inability to properly respond to those changes can, at any point hereafter, start the spin downward.
Really this stage represents the first major turning point for the founders. The biggest and most honest question that can be asked is “Am I capable of keeping this going or do I need senior management help?”
All too often ego may enter in and prevent the good hard look at the man (or woman) in the mirror. True Leaders with a solid track record behind them have been the first to ask this question and work with the right answer. And they do it with almost perfect timing.
Yet for the owner suffering a big ego, the right questions never get asked. The talk with the person in the mirror sounds more like this…
“Wow, things seem to be ramping up. You really did it.”
“Yes, I did.”
“It feels different now, but that’s nothing to worry about.”
“Just keep it going. We’ll be fine.”
Then one day the wheels fall off. The big accounts start to go elsewhere. Your pricing gets squeezed and you have no answer. The market shifts out from under you and you missed the warning signs.
Or worse yet, your team abandons you because they hate working with you. The few customers you have left eventually leave because the service is terrible.
It happens in all kinds of business. Every day. The tipping point is where the owner’s ego gets bigger than even the greatest of success.
A Cautionary Tale for Small Business?
Maybe so. But it doesn’t have to be. You can get help. You should get help. Is today the day? Business advisors or coaches can help you make sense of the new levels of growth and prosperity. They can help you see you way to even higher levels of success.
But you have to make the call. Don’t let ego stop you.