How to Lead Millennials

There are dozens of proven management strategies and techniques in practice in today’s corporate world. What managers are seeing now, however, is that those techniques may not be connecting with their new, young, millennial employees entering the workforce.

Millennials, the children of baby boomers, essentially, require more than employees of the past, because they’ve been given more than others in the past. With access to the internet possible since the time they were toddlers, they’ve discovered a whole world at a young age that those before them haven’t had access to. This has given them an edge in knowledge, but has also slightly stunted their ability to connect with management styles of the past.

If you are a leader in your business and are seeing a disconnect between you and your new employees, the techniques below will serve as a strong starting point in bridging the gap in your management strategy.

Work Must Have Meaning

Millennials have a need to connect with their work. If they don’t feel connected to the purpose of your business, they will simply go somewhere else. Even if your business doesn’t serve the public in a philanthropic way, having opportunities within the company in the form of charitable events and sponsorships will help to offer a connection.

Emphasize Training

No one likes to be thrown into the fire on day 1 when starting a new job. And while this must happen to a certain degree at some point, millennials are especially sensitive to this technique. Make sure they are well-equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed within your business.

Showing Respect

Something that has given the millennial generation a slightly bad reputation is what some call a “sense of entitlement.” For millennials, what this translates to is, respect. Showing respect for the value they bring to the table is crucial – and, they do bring new skills to the table that should be respected – and will ensure that they show you respect as well.

Try A New Schedule

A new trend seen within many young companies started by millennials is the 4 day work week. Millennials value their time. After all, having been exposed to the power of the internet at such a young age, they know there is a whole world out there to see and it’s important that they see it. Giving your employees the option of working 4 10-hour days instead of a traditional 5 day work week will not only keep your young employees but can draw new employees in.

Do you have a favorite management style for millennials? If so, tweet them to me @PepperRutland on Twitter, or message me on LinkedIn!

What to Expect When Working at a Startup

A start-up company is not just like any other new business. It’s a new business that has its sights set for big things, and while start-ups are young companies that have their work cut out for them, success is not easy.

 

A quote from the cofounder and co-CEO of Warby Parker explains this further in a recent Forbes article. “A startup is a company working to solve a problem where the solution is not obvious and success is not guaranteed.” Those are tough odds for young companies looking to break into their market. And yet, start-ups continue to be on the rise in the U.S., with thousands of young hopefuls looking to be a part of the next big thing.

 

If you’re considering a job with a start-up, or are looking to join an existing start-up, here’s what you should expect.

 

Expect Change

Change could happen nearly every day at a startup. Since things are new and really young start-ups tend to only have a handful of employees, there’s likely not a rulebook yet as you’re just getting started on figuring out how to run your business. This makes for an exciting atmosphere, but it can also test your patience. You have to have a high tolerance for fast paced change, because adaptability is really the true nature of your business.

 

Everyone is Important

It’s not a generational approach; at a startup, everyone is a crucial member of the team. Even if there is a solid managerial structure in place, your work is vital to the success of the company. You won’t be able to hide at your desk if you’re feeling drained. This can create a very welcoming and supportive environment but can overwhelm anyone who’s not sure if they are up for the challenge. Teamwork will be heavily relied upon, and new ideas are nurtured instead of being turned away based on your tenure.

 

Benefits, Schedules and Offices are Untraditional

One of the most appealing aspects of start-ups is how untraditional they are. Younger generations have seen those before them fall into a working pattern that leaves people feeling a bit stuck in a routine every day. Start-ups often offer nontraditional job aspects that are extremely attractive, such as an open office with a casual environment, happy hours and downtown lunches with your teammates to celebrate wins, and flexible working hours with unlimited sick days. While these perks sound great at first, they can sometimes become cons quickly. Because startups are still growing, they do not always have the ability to afford health insurance and other standard benefits at a traditional company.

 

Things Move Quickly

Start-ups are a fast paced environment. Just as quickly as your dreams were realized, they can be taken away. While the long term successes will be great, it’s getting there that can be the problem. This means that you have to be able to prioritize projects to accommodate for big clients and changing routines. You could be moving offices quickly as you continue to grow as well. If you usually like to take a third or fourth pass at your work before sending it to a client for review, you’ll have to settle for two rounds. Time is very valuable and it certainly cannot be taken up by any type of doubt.

 

The most important aspect of a start-up is the atmosphere. It’s an exciting time even if you’re working from a few desks in an office basement. Keeping the above job aspects in mind, you’ll be able to adjust to your new job quickly – just be prepared not to settle into any type of routine too quickly.

 

6 Steps That Will Set Your Business Up For Success

Pepper Rutland relays 6 steps that will set any business up for success.Succeeding in business takes a village. The reality is, however, that there’s no clear cut formula on how to succeed within the business world. And really, how could there be? Success looks different for every business and for every entrepreneur. While there may not be a book of rules to ensure success, there are plenty of strategies any business can take to set themselves up for their ultimate end goal. Once you’ve defined what success looks like for you, take a look at these helpful foundational tips and try incorporating them into your strategy.

 

Thoroughly develop a marketing plan

If you’re a new business, part of the main focus of your launch will be attracting customers. Creating a marketing plan that is far-reaching will be key in spreading awareness of your brand. If you’re an established business, you’ll want to make sure your marketing plan stays true to your brand while attracting new customers. No matter the motivation, don’t be afraid of the tried and true practices of attending tradeshows and conferences, as is suggested by this Huffington Post article. This will help customers to discover and then connect with your brand.

 

Build an attractive online presence

Social media continues to be an important player in online marketing. If your online site isn’t optimized for mobile and tablet experiences, you could be losing out on a portion of your audience. Ensure that you are utilizing all relevant social media platforms and that they not only contain the right information but look attractive as well.

 

Hire employees that make you happy and work to make them happy

The people with whom you work will account for the people with whom you interact with for three quarters of the year. It’s important that you invest in good people that want your business to succeed. In turn, it’s also important to make those employees feel valued. By surrounding yourself with those who “make you stretch” and are unafraid to give feedback, your business will enjoy a healthy foundation for success.

 

Stay ahead of the game

Always be prepared. If you’ve employed a team to help tackle a customer service issue, make sure that you know all of the details ahead of time and have already started to brainstorm solutions. Showing up to a meeting looking for help will leave your employees feeling panicked without a jumping off point. Make sure you’ve already set up guidelines for billing, time tracking, and role assignments, even if you plan on making adjustments as the solutions are being developed.

 

Keep your team educated

Technology is ever-developing and influencing the way we do business. Technology has also brought us closer to easily accessible education than ever before. Take advantage of online courses and encourage all within your office to read topical blogs and publications to stay ahead of trends. Knowing your competition simply isn’t enough anymore; educating yourself on developments within your industry will leave you being the industry leader in the end.

 

Maintain an organized environment

Having an organized office doesn’t just mean that the pens and printer paper are in their respective storage areas. Designing a space that cultures communication and accessibility to collaboration will help you stay connected to your team. Additionally, being able to define spaces within your office’s main work areas will keep employees’ focus just as organized as the space they work in.

 

Whether you’re a new or mature business, these tools will help you to stay focused in business and set you on a defined course for success.

 

For more tips and advice from Pepper Rutland, visit the blog page

Small Business Challenges in 2017

Part of the new American dream is staying small in business while dreaming of big success. While small businesses across the country are thriving, there are some concerns that keep owners up at night. It’s not always easy being a small business in a big market, and there are some who are feeling crippled by the challenges they face on a daily and annual basis. Here, we’ll take a look at some of the top challenges small business are faced with in 2017.

 

Remote Work

Advancements in technology have been very kind to the business world, especially for remote employees. With a slew of applications that can connect businesses, employees, and clients, more and more people are looking to work remotely instead of relocating for new opportunities. While this is a great option for employee retention and attraction, small businesses will need to be equipped to handle this practice. Small businesses will also need to lay out an entirely new list of rules to ensure that this privilege is not abused.

 

Healthcare

The debate rages on with healthcare. For being such a high priority for Americans, unfortunately there are clear losers while the government decides what healthcare will look like for years to come. Small businesses happen to be one of those areas that are getting caught in the cross-fire. Rising costs and uncertainty in policy have made this a top concern for small business owners. According to an article seen on bizjournals.com in early December of 2016, 52 percent of small business owners rank the “cost of health insurance” as a critical problem.

 

Retaining Customers

Every marketplace is starting to become a crowded one, with innovative strategies helping to take businesses further. This makes it easy for small businesses to get lost in the noise. Holding on to key customers and ensuring that they remain a profitable one continues to be a challenge for small businesses. While there are plenty of challenges in attracting new customers, it is important to focus on maintaining your customer base and ensuring they feel like a priority.

 

Stamina

Being a small business owner takes a lot of work. Not only are there challenges to face within the business (see list above), but there are many challenges that face the owner themselves. Being understaffed can cause owners to double the amount of work they should be doing, which can lead to long hours and one tired owner. Maintaining the energy to take on each day with success in mind can take a toll if areas within the business are not being supported as they should be. Hiring an assistant might set a business back a pretty penny but will help owners keep their cool and help them do what they do best: lead.

New Year’s Resolutions for Business Owners

pexels-photo-38196In a recent blog I shared some tips for finding success as a first-time manager; there are some very important, relevant lessons included within. Yet, since success is as much about evolving as it is about getting things right, I decided to create this post as a complement, and/or as a message for seasoned business owners, about making some resolutions to do things differently (read, better) in the new year.

 

  1. Stick To Your Goals
    Considering that just 8% of people who set New Year’s resolutions actually go through with them, this is the most important piece of advice to adhere. Set goals for yourself, both for the long term and short term, and some actionable steps you can take every day to achieve them. If it helps to write things down, get a brand new planner or journal and do that. If you’re not good at keeping yourself on track, partner with someone, like an assistant or confidante to keep you motivated and to hold you accountable to achieving everything you’ve set out to do.
  2. Do Something That Scares You
    Step out of your comfort zone. Going out on your own to start or lead a business is a challenge within itself, and a display of courage and confidence. However, since then, what have you done that made you afraid, that put you in a position where you didn’t have control over the outcome or direction? If the answer is nothing, it’s time to shake yourself up. Try something you said you’d never do; challenge yourself to face your fears, and you’ll be better for it.
  3. Learn Something
    Likewise, commit to learning something new. Whether it’s investing in a few books or actually taking a class, continued development is highly important and deserving of your time and money. To be clear, however, new lessons don’t have to be business or industry related. It can be anything from archaeology to baking. Whatever you choose to keep your mind active and expand the scope of your own understanding, will serve you well in your career.
  4. Improve Your Online Presence
    The Internet isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s getting bigger. If you haven’t made a professional website and career-focused social media profiles, you’re far behind but not incorrigible. In 2017, put more effort into your brand and the message you want to send online. It’s a part of who you are.
  5. Take Time Off
    Last but not least, take time off. So few Americans take a vacation. As the leader of a business, doing so may seem further away from reality because of various, important responsibilities and tight schedules. However, while setting up your calendar, build some time away from the office into your agenda to ensure that you can destress, rejuvenate yourself and be more productive upon your return.

4 Reasons Why People Love Where They Work

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Last month I highlighted MMR’s inclusion in the Baton Rouge Business Report as one of the best places to work in the city. The decision was made based on a combination of MMR’s answers to a questionnaire about workplace policies and demographics, and our employees’ own details about their satisfaction within the company. I decided to write this blog to share a few tips about why employees may consider your company a great place to work.

Employees enjoy love where they work when:

  1. The Company Has a Clear Vision
    People want their work to have a purpose. Employees, at every level, want to be aware of the company’s objectives, its plans for future growth and how their own efforts fit into the larger picture. Obviously not every detail is appropriate to share, and certain pieces of information may be reserved for small groups within the company rather than the entire organization. When possible, however, make a point to communicate the company’s vision and when it reaches certain goals to which the people of the company have contributed.
  1. Their Voices Are Heard
    Many times, ideas for how your company can improve, whether in practice or the offering of your product, are right in house. Your employees are a great resource because they are capable, knowledgeable, and have a stake in your company being successful. Open door policies are great if you can do them; if you don’t have the time, be sure ti designate someone who can receive and share those comments and concerns with you, then respond personally to let your employees know you’re listening.
  1. They Are Valued
    In that same regard, employees want to feel like they mean something to the company. The truth is, they mean a lot to the company, regardless of their title. Everyone has a part to play which enables the rest of the team to focus on their own responsibilities. You show that you value your employees in many ways, such as: providing fair wages and great benefits, listening, celebrating success together, and offering opportunities to advance, as a start.
  2. They Like The Leadership
    Lastly, but not the least important, people love where they work when they like who they work for. As a leader, people look at how you interact with them and others in the company. They take stock of whether you exemplify strong, clear leadership and your response to situations under pressure. Each of these factors affects how they see you, and ultimately determines how they see the company. Be cognizant of that representation and treat everyone with the respect they deserve.

How To Find Your Leadership Style

head-1169901_960_720In another blog, I highlighted various qualities a leader should possess, including: proactivity, attentiveness, imagination, focus, and continued development. Each of these are important, as I’ve learned from my own experience, and I hope it provided valuable insight about what it takes to properly manage a company. However, while these qualities are necessary, it’s important to realize that all leaders are not the same.

 

In fact, there are at least five different styles of leadership, each of which has its place and is often contingent upon the leader’s personality and initial exposure to certain style. Still, learning the differences in each can help managers create a more definitive style and even learn to adapt when appropriate.

 

Different Styles

  1. Democratic
    As the name suggests, democratic leaders use the input from their teams to make decisions about processes and procedures. This type of leader makes an effort to ensure that everyone has a say and that each voice is heard. As a note, this type of leadership can be time consuming, especially if one has a large team. Nevertheless, it works well in places where change is expected or a normal part of the given process, in which a better or different way of doing things can be enhanced by new opinions.

  2. Autocratic
    Conversely, autocratic leadership creates the rules and makes decisions before bringing it to the team. These types of leaders tend to have more experience and a better understanding what is necessary to meet the end goal, thus giving the leader greater autonomy in making choices. This style is best when decisions must be made in a time crunch and when those on the team lack the understanding to make an informed decision on the subject at hand.

  3. Pacesetting
    These leaders set high expectations for their team members, desiring quick turnarounds on large projects. They are willing to put in the same effort and provide examples for, or even work alongside, the team. This level of leadership works when used sparingly and with skilled members of a team.

  4. Transactional
    This style of leadership, also called coercive or commanding, is most likened to a military style of management, in which the leader expects team members to simply do what they are told. This leadership style is said to be most common but least effective in maximizing productivity and/or creativity from team members.

 

As I said above, each of these styles has its place, and no one style is always best. Assess the characteristics of your team and your environment to determine when and how to employ these leadership roles. The best leader is perceptive, above all things.

Lessons for Your Business from Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go in actionPeople walking around on their phones with their heads down is not alarming. Afterall, in the age of technology, the complete disassociation with the outside world is commonplace from the dinner to table to the office (sometimes unfortunately). Yet, you may have noticed some recent changes in our culture that is consumed by tech. People aren’t just walking around on their phones, they’re talking about them with others, congregating in parks, showing up at random buildings, and driving around their neighborhoods with a purpose: catching Pokemon via this year’s hottest mobile game, Pokemon Go.

If you’re unfamiliar with the game and the story behind it, let me explain it briefly. Pokemon Go is an augmented reality game which uses phone cameras and GPS location data to catch digital creatures (Pokemon), and is based on a nearly 20 year old video game franchise of the same name. Now, less than a month after its launch, the game boasts some 10 million daily players at its lowest estimate, and the number of those doing so is growing. But how did a game that had seemingly past its prime attract such a mass, loyal customer base? Experts from Entrepreneur to Forbes have provide insight.

  1. Leverage Existing Platforms
    Instead of creating the wheel entirely, Niantic (the creators of Pokemon Go) brought their idea to users through an object they already own. With millions of people already in possession of a smartphone, the company lowered barriers related to adoption, allowing users to follow their normal behavioral patterns. In other words, go where customers are and seek to integrate into their lives rather than alter it.

  2. Social Media, Local Marketing and Mobile Integration:
    This strategy, known in the marketing and tech world as SoLoMo, has been one of the largest reasons for the success of Pokemon Go. Niantic has integrated social media with the real world unlike any other game or company, with remarkable success not only for themselves, but for small businesses. Indeed, the popularity of the company has resulted in increased traffic to local businesses and subsequent revenue. Entrepreneur Magazine encourages businesses to do the same through tools like checkins to get customers to engage your business on and offline.

Furthermore, Tech.co shares some very practical examples of how businesses can use Pokemon Go as a marketing tool in addition to learning from it. Some of their advice includes getting on the action by adopting some of the language and themes of Pokemon, which can pay off for your business, turning players into customers. Advertising your business as a stop (if it is one), for those who may not be playing at the time. It requires a bit of effort, but such an acquisition is invaluable, whether the game continues to dominate or not.

How Your Business Can Benefit from Blogging

pexels-photo-large (2)Everyone has an opinion, and these days, all of them are online. It’s a great thing, as it helps us better understand people on an individual level, in a way direct conversation could never provide. However, that also means the world wide web is a crowded space. How do people and businesses navigate through the noise of social media platforms to say important (or not so important) things to their customers in long form? Blogging.

Traditionally blogging has been seen as a less formal means of communication. There are perceptions of the media as a tool through which people rant or make false claims in a tabloid-like manner. While there are indeed many blogs whose focus include those qualities, like anything in life, there are more than one side to that coin. These days, artists, businesses, and professionals of every kind have turned to blogging as a way to connect with customers in real time. Here’s why:

  1. Control The Conversation
    Depending on the size of your business, there is already information pertaining to your operations online. The information is likely very basic, such as your product or service, location, years in service, etc. Though all of that is important, none of it provides information about your current state, your future plans nor recent achievements. Historically, this information would be disseminated through press releases. Whether or not an established medium who would report on what’s you considered important, was left to chance. Now, businesses have the opportunity to cut out the third party, and talk to directly to customers about situations involving them or topics related to their interests. Many use social media platforms to do this, but, once again, the space is crowded. You should have your own platform, and use social media, instead, as a tool to direct stakeholders there.
  2. Increases Traffic
    Constant activity drives traffic to your site through search engines. People use search engines when they are not aware of who you are and what you do, yet are looking for something in relation to what you provide. Resources like Google, Yahoo and Bing crawl your site/blog to determine if what their users are looking for is there. One of the other measures used by these engines to determine whether or not your information is important enough to be shared with their millions of users is how recent your content is. Frequent updates result in higher ranking, which leads to more people finding your site, connecting with your content, and becoming potential customers.
  3. Free Marketing
    Thus, you could and should use your blog as a marketing tool, to turn those visitors into leads. To be clear, this should not be the sole purpose of your blog, but including simple call-to-actions, such as: signing up for an email subscription, learning more via your website, or following your organization on social media, can lead to continued interactions that may lead to a permanent relationship. As a note, free is not absolute. Should you choose to create a special domain and purchase hosting for your blog, that is a small cost. However, it pales in comparison to other advertising tools which may not be nearly as effective. In fact, 60% of businesses who blog said they receive more customers than those who don’t.

How To Keep Growing As A Business

pexels-photo-largeMMR Group continues to grow. Last month, the company proudly announced the purchase of assets and operations of Vector Electric and Controls, Inc. In our 20 plus years as a company, we’ve learned a lot about progress, expansion, and growth as a business. We’re of the belief that there is always room for growth and opportunities to be more impactful. As such, I want to share with you a few tips about how to do just that, regardless of the type of company you manage or lead.

  1. Hire the right people
    Your human assets are the most valuable part of your company. Even if you have the greatest ideas or the largest budget, without the proper talent to manage and execute each of those, the business is nil. Hence, hiring is the most foundational tip for growth and long term success. Look out for people who understand your company’s objectives, its strengths and weakness, and the details of their role. Invest both your time and money in attracting great employees; doing so sets a positive precedent for everything to come.
  2. Have Clear Goals
    The next step is to define what success is for your business and how you want to get there. Perhaps, for your company that means reaching a certain number of customers, opening a second location,  or earning a set amount of revenue. Regardless of what it is, every business needs a list of clearly defined goals and a plan for realizing them. Overtime, as those goals are reached and as your company evolves, your goals should as well. It’s also important to prioritize these objectives and ensure that the rest of your team is on the same page.
  3. Be Strategic
    This step requires a greater level of perception and calls for realizing opportunities that were not previously mapped out, but make sense based on the position of the business itself. With very calculated marketing, mergers, or other business strategies, companies can build an enterprise that is not limited only to rigid goals, but that moves based on what is expedient for the business. Always be sensible about your choices and alert to the possibilities which surround you.
  4. Learn From Mistakes
    Every choice or strategy will be not an immediate hit. In fact, some can be an outright failure; that’s a normal part of business. The best way to recover is to learn from the mistake. Ask yourself which part or parts of the process went wrong and why. Only then can your and your company create more successful outcomes going forward, rather failing multiple times over an avoidable issue. There is no guarantee that all things will work, so don’t be afraid of risk. Even the largest companies from Apple to Google frequently have major failures. As a company, however, your power is in controlling the controllable.

Finally, every business starts somewhere; many with just a simple idea and the work of a single individual. Nevertheless, no one goes into business with small aspirations. Every entrepreneur’s goal is to bring their skills, product or resource to as many customers or supporters as possible. Following these simple practices and words of advice can make the likelihood of such a reality.