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Monthly Archives: July 2017

How to Manage Team Dynamics as an Entrepreneur

How to Manage Team Dynamics as an Entrepreneur

How to Manage Team Dynamics as an Entrepreneur

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As a biz owner, I know what it’s like to go from a start up which is a one woman team to an actual team with other team members helping me. This article gives some neat tricks on how to keep your team strong. Enjoy and share! 

Back in 2009, at a street festival in Cambridge, Mass., Todd Horton founded KangoGift alongside a team of four. What started as a concept of sending a gift to a friend via text message has since evolved into an HR software company helping to improve employee-recognition programs.

“We were successful because we were aligned to a common goal,” Horton, now CEO, told me. “We were in constant communication. We were excited about the potential and the unknown.”

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Horton and his team had earlier developed a website; they then leveraged a booth at the street festival to spark interest in their company and identify local businesses as potential partners. In the end, the team wrote 3,000 lines of code, struck deals with five local businesses and processed over 200 gifts that first weekend. They launched KangoGift in 30 days.

“When building a team, entrepreneurs need to keep in mind that people want to work on something bigger than themselves,” Horton said. “It could be a social mission — or feeling like they are working on something cutting edge that will offer an emotional benefit to people.”

Often, it’s easy for a small startup team to work together effectively. As KangoGift’s experience illustrates, founding teams can be united and driven by their shared vision for the company. However, once the company begins to add new team members, this ease of collaboration can be difficult to maintain.

Here are five approaches to teamwork you should consider:

Start thinking about teams early.
“Sometimes, when a new company is expanding, instead of building a team, an entrepreneur simply hires people for their individual technical expertise,” Rick Gibbs, performance specialist at Insperity in New York City, told me. “As a result, not much thought is given to the idea of this ‘group’ being cohesive or having the ability to work together.”

As the team begins to grow, this can lead to conflict, especially if the employees have to come out of their bubbles and work as a team yet have little in common with anyone else.

“Often, there are groups of very smart, capable people who simply clash because relatively little attention has been given to the idea of what it means to perform well on a team,” Gibbs said.

How to avoid this issue? Build a team-oriented culture from the get-go. During the interview process, hink about how job candidates might perform on teams — as opposed to hiring for individual skills alone. Especially in a startup,your first few hires will work more closely together than a more established company, so it’s essential to consider new hires’ experience with teamwork.

Also, during the interviews, ask candidates to describe specific examples of past projects they completed on a team. Include current team members in the interview process to ensure they get on well with new hires.

The tech: Building a startup team that will work well together can start with referrals, and one tool that makes referrals easier is Boon. Boon’s matching algorithms identify candidates and engage the right employees, custom rewards and gamification to inspire action. Integrations and analytics dashboards provide clarity and integrity to the program.

Foster transparency and trust.
Because startup teams can consist of people who have varying strengths and weaknesses, “Transparency is the key to success,” Seattle-based Prime Opt career coach Michella Chiu told me.

When leaders aren’t transparent with their team members, morale decreases. In fact, according to a 2015 Work Management Survey by Wrike of nearly 1,500 business professionals, 52 percent of employees listed missing information as a top stressor at work.

Transparency and trust go hand in hand. If teammates don’t trust one other, the work environment goes from being collaborative to competitive. This hurts everyone’s productivity. Set a good example by being open and honest with all team members. Communicate and share information that impacts the group.

Build a culture of trust by encouraging all employees to contribute.

“Hire great people and get out of their way,” Jacob Shriar, director of content at Officevibe in Montreal, told me. “Trust them to do good work and give them the autonomy they deserve.”

Shriar and his team recently traveled to Prague for a project, which was ultimately successful, he said he realized, because of the deep levels of trust and respect within the team.

Chiu,the career coach, agrees. “Build a solid system or set of procedures to facilitate better communication,” she said. “Make exchanging ideas easier for everyone.”

When everyone inputs ideas to the team’s successes, trust increases, not just between team members and leadership but among one other.

The tech: Social Chorus allows companies and team members to not only easily communicate in a way that helps them work together, but also to stay connected with and informed about the company.

Know how to direct energies.
When employees are asked to do something that doesn’t come naturally to them, they’ll likely expend extra energy. This can quickly lead to burnout. However, when teams are built around their complementary strengths, everyone can focus on what comes easily to him or her individually.

“It’s less about strengths and weaknesses than it is about identifying the areas an individual has the most energy for,” Karen Gordon, CEO of 5 Dynamics in Austin, Texas, told me. “This is where productive collaboration can be improved.”

Gordon explained that her company had developed its “5 Dynamics methodology” as a way of looking at work as a process, where each step requires full focus, one at a time:

Understand the complete situation, see relationships and develop creative solutions.

Build a team and excite its members about the idea.

Develop a plan using data. Create schedules, budgets, timetables, clear roles and rules. Predict problems that may arise.

Hold the team accountable for implementing the plan, then measure its performance.

Assess performance of the previous Dynamics by measuring external success and internal satisfaction within the team. Make changes to the process to improve both of these areas next time.

Build a diverse team with varying skills. Then, identify tasks based on each employee’s strengths, where he or she will excel and still feel challenged. Look at the needs of employees individually rather than focusing on creating efficiencies with blanket solutions.

“This will create a team environment that avoids burnout, fosters positivity and success and offers pathways for communication that were previously unknown,” Gordon said.

The tech: Avilar’s competency management tools identify and close critical employee skills gaps that could derail organizational success.

Show gratitude.
The greatest team in the world can become unproductive if the team members aren’t appreciated for their hard work. Acknowledge impressive outcomes of teamwork, even if it’s through a simple “thank you.”

“Any number of us working for a startup could easily find work making far more money for much bigger names, but we chose something that inspired us beyond those frills,” Divya Menon, founder of Bad Brain, in Los Angeles, told me. “When a company is truly grateful for that work and people go out of their way to write you a heartfelt text on Saturday about the work you put in, you realize how much more important that company is than just a salary or a bullet point on a résumé.”

According to Officevibe State of Employee Engagement in 2017, 63 percent of employees surveyed said they didn’t get enough recognition.

“I think it comes from a place of stress and fear, but startups have to realize that people sacrifice a lot of stability and notability to try and help out with a ‘cause,’” Menon said. “A startup is a risk for something we all believe in and think the world should have. Entrepreneurs should be really keyed into what their employees gave up to be there and let them know, meaningfully and frequently, how much it means to them.”

Encourage employee-leaders to recognize their teams in authentic ways. Lead by example to establish a culture of recognition. Thank employees often for the work they contribute individually and as a team.

 

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6 Tips and Tricks to Get the Most Downloads for Your App

6 Tips and Tricks to Get the Most Downloads for Your App

Okay folks, this helpful article teaches you ways to use search optimization to get the most downloads for your app. SEO is so important and I use it to help my clients with their blogs/social media. Read on for the tips..

6 Tips and Tricks to Get the Most Downloads for Your App

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Many startups spend huge amounts of money on advertising, yet neglect app store optimization. App store optimization is the most cost-effective method to organically increase your installs for a couple of reasons:

According to Forrester, a staggering 63 percent of all app installs come from general browsing in the app store. By optimizing your app to be discovered through search, you can dramatically increase the number of downloads you receive for your mobile app.
It’s free! If you have a solid app store optimization strategy and execute properly, you will get tons of organic and free installs to your app.

Here are a few tips and tricks:

1. Choose the right title.

The title of your app ranks more heavily than the rest of the meta-data, so choose it wisely. Make sure you target words in your title that you want to hit the most, words that you’re confident about. Tools like SensorTower and AppAnnie can provide you accurate traffic volumes and difficulties of certain keywords. Also, make sure you don’t keyword stuff the title; the app store will reject your app.

2. Select situational keywords.

Depending on how many downloads and how much traffic your app is already getting, you must adjust your keywords. For example, if your app is already getting high traffic and downloads, you can target more competitive keywords that have higher traffic. If you are just starting up an app that nobody knows about and isn’t getting featured, I recommend choosing keywords that have a low difficulty level and medium traffic (according to analytic tools like SensorTower or AppAnnie). There are likely some keywords that are gems that others are not targeting and may have decent traffic.

3. Localize by country.

As every app store is separated geographically by country, it is really wise to localize your app to optimize it for discovery across different languages. The app store allows you to change the meta-data within your app depending on which country is searching for your app. Some companies have used a mixture of Google translate and native speakers to help localize their apps, so it shouldn’t be too difficult for you to localize as well. Localization is a huge aspect of having an effective presence globally. Just think of all these untapped markets that you can reach and how easily you could acquire more users with these markets.

4. Use powerful images and wording.

Once people are able to discover your app, the rest is up to how well your app listing converts into downloads. To optimize conversions, you must use beautiful images to entice users to want to download your app. Make sure to include the most attractive aspects of your app and to include captions in the pictures as well. You’d be surprised at how a simple tweak of an image or word can translate in terms of conversion percentages.

5. Pay attention to ratings, reviews and the description.

When was the last time you downloaded an app that had one star? Ratings and reviews don’t factor in as much to discovery as the keywords and the title, but they do have a huge impact on conversion rates. Users are probably more likely to download your app if it has received a large number of positive reviews. Make sure to also include an interesting and enticing description to explain to users what your app does!

6. Follow the data.

App store optimization is an ongoing process that takes experience, time and testing to get right. Make sure to thoroughly test out keywords over periods of time, and also test out the images/description of your app to see which ones are converting the best. At the end of the day, data doesn’t lie, so make sure you follow the data and find out what works for your app specifically.

 

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