My Full Leadpages Review: Is it Worth It?

What is Leadpages?

Leadpages is an online solution allowing you to capture email leads. With their excellent drag and drop builder, you can create effective landing pages. To get you started, Leadpages offers a wide range of templates to create a profitable funnel. I use it daily to keep my pipeline full of high-potential leads.

Leadpages has been a market leader since 2016 when they updated the page builder. Leadpages boasts a large library of landing page templates. Yet, they are not a static company. Leadpages is very responsive to customer requests. This led to some recent innovations and special features, such as:

  • Event countdown timers
  • Movable calls to action
  • Easier video or image insertion
  • More flexible page layouts

Although the platform is not perfect, they do listen to customers. This kind of responsiveness is rare, especially in larger companies. But, Leadpages seems committed to evolving with their customers. This allowed them to grow to over 60,000 paying customers and counting. You may be unhappy with the current performance of your landing pages. That may be because you are currently using a DIY solution or another platform. In either case, you may find this review helpful.  Read on to find out whether Leadpages could be a good solution to increase the ROI of your marketing.

This review will explore both the positives and negatives of Leadpages. By the end, you will understand the most important features of Leadpages. You will also understand how it compares to other similar solutions on the market. Armed with this knowledge, you will be able to make an independent buying decision. And answer the question, what is the best tool for improving your marketing?

Pros and Cons of Leadpages

ProsCons
100s of well-styled templates$2,388 annually for phone support
Drag and drop page builderPage builder can be sluggish
Flexible page layoutsNo conversion rate optimization
Excellent email supportNo heatmaps
Deep knowledge baseLacking ad attribution features

Key Features

  • A/B testing
  • Change the published URL
  • Collaboration Solution
  • Drag & drop WYSIWYG editor
  • Edit landing pages any time
  • Email notifications
  • Form builder
  • Free subdomains
  • Heatmaps
  • Instant analytics & data
  • Lead-gen dashboard
  • Mobile responsive
  • Professional templates
  • Publish to multiple domains
  • SEO plugin
  • Social widgets
  • Support for video
  • Template Importer

Feature Spotlight

1. Customizable Templates

Certain features are crucial in a landing page platform. One of the most important is the ability to produce professional designs at scale. Leadpages allows you and your team to create conversion ready, branded templates. All this without needing to go through an entire wireframe process. These customizable templates reduce the time it takes to develop new landing pages.

2. An Easy-To-Use Builder

Page builders are always a tricky compromise on landing page platforms. On the one hand, we needed to have enough features to be useful. On the other, we don’t want to be so overwhelmed with functions that the builder is counterintuitive. The page builder that comes with Leadpages strikes the right balance. It allows you, and your team, to create high converting landing pages. A key benefit is the ability to add multimedia elements without needing a developer. If you want to create a page from scratch, then the Leadpages builder makes it easy.

3. Easy Publishing

With Leadpages, it is simple to publish a landing page on your website. It doesn’t matter whether you’re using a content management system or not. If you are using a content management system then it integrates very well. Especially with the most popular platforms: WordPress, Joomla!, and Drupal.

4. Impressive Analytics

Marketing teams don’t like to fly blind. Analytics allows us to understand how each landing page is performing. This data allows you to optimize paid advertising campaigns. This way, they become more profitable over time. Leadpages allows you to track key performance indicators. You can track visitor numbers, cost-per-lead, and conversion rates across your landing pages. This gives you a clear idea of where you can make improvements.

5. Reliable A/B Testing

To get the full benefit of analytics you need to be running A/B tests. Leadpages offers reliable tools for testing different versions of your landing page. This allows you, and your team, to scientifically figure out what is driving conversions.

A/B testing is one of the most effective methods for improving return on investment. This is why expert marketers use them to improve the efficacy of paid advertising. If you have any A/B testing experience, you know it involves statistical calculations. The math for figuring out whether your results are statistically significant is difficult. Yet, you need to ensure you have enough data to determine which version of your page is more successful. With Leadpages, you do not need a deep knowledge of statistics. Their A/B testing platform is easy to use without sacrificing accuracy.

6. Collaboration Tools

It takes a wide range of skills to put together a successful landing page:

  1. User experience expertise,
  2. search engine optimization,
  3. copywriting,
  4. and graphic design.

It’s very rare that all the skills reside in a single person. So, it is important for landing page platforms to have built-in collaboration features. This is especially true for creative teams. Leadpages allows you to invite team members to different landing page projects. This feature also allows you to control which accounts individuals have access to. This all makes collaboration easy and efficient. Especially when dealing with many people across multiple time zones.

Feature Summary

Leadpages provides search marketers with a diverse library of easily customizable templates. The page builder is easy to use. You can choose to customize an existing template or create a landing page from scratch. There is also a wide range of publishing options. You can publish through a content management system, Facebook, or CNAME.

The collaboration features make it very easy for teams to get together and setup A/B tests. Having these two features in the same place cuts down on a lot of arguments. This is because any disagreements can be subject to split-test.

This is all backed up by excellent customer support. Representatives are able to guide you through the various features of Leadpages. The support staff is also helpful for figuring out how to get the most out of the Leadpages’ powerful analytics. This insight will help you better understand the behavior of your users.

Leadpages vs. Alternatives

 LeadpagesUnbounceDripLandingi
Price$69-229$99-499$0-99$29-249
TrialYes, no CCYes, with CCNoYes, no CC
A/B Testing
API
Automatic Notifications 

 

 

 

CRM Integration 

 

 

 

Conversion Rate Optimization 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conversion Tracking 

 

 

 

Custom Branding 

 

 

 

Custom Templates 

 

 

 

Drag & Drop Interface 

 

 

 

Email Integration 

 

 

 

Email Notifications 

 

 

 

Landing Page Templates 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monitoring
Reporting & Statistics 

 

 

 

Testing Management 

 

 

 

Integrations

  • ActiveCampaign
  • Acuity
  • AWeber
  • Calendly
  • Constant Contact
  • ConvertKit
  • Drip
  • Emma
  • Facebook Ads
  • GetResponse
  • Google AdWords
  • Google Analytics
  • GoToWebinar
  • HubSpot
  • iContact
  • Infusionsoft
  • Joomla
  • LinkedIn
  • MailChimp
  • Marketo
  • Ontraport
  • PayPal
  • Salesforce
  • Shopify
  • Squarespace
  • Stripe
  • Timetrade
  • Twitter
  • WebinarJam
  • Weebly
  • Wix
  • WordPress

Conclusion: Should You Buy Leadpages?

The success of your ad campaigns depends on your ability to create quality landing pages. Your long-term success depends on your ability to create these pages at scale. Choosing the correct platform allows you to do this with a better return on investment. Before selecting a landing page tool, you need to ensure the chosen tool has all the basic features. The features we have discussed in this review are the things that will contribute most to your ROI.

If you choose Leadpages, you can be confident that you are covering all your bases. Their customizable templates are already optimized for conversions. The excellent support infrastructure reduces the learning curve. This means it is not as steep compared to other platforms. I can say from personal experience that Leadpages has made marketing simpler.

Leadpages provides great variation in communicating with potential customers. It offers a broader set of tools for converting prospects into paying customers. It has done this by providing a centralized communication system. This improves the relationship between your business and individual customers. Allowing you to make quick independent decisions and clearly observe the results. This speed of testing is one of the greatest advantages of Leadpages. If you value speed and accuracy, this is for you.

Gary Vaynerchuk Advice: How to Win, Right Now in Business

Gary Vaynerchuk continues to storm stages around the world not just building his personal brand but to impact people’s lives by helping them understand the incredible time they live in right now.

Change Creator has said it before and I’m going to say it again now, there has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur…if you’re willing to go all-in.

In this one hour video, Vaynerchuk passionately shares his insights around two key components for success:

  1. Mindset
  2. Facebook & Instagram

The Essential Foundation

While he hates to talk about the nontangible mindset factor he makes it clear that it is the essential foundation for long-term success.

“Too many of you are about to take fucking notes right now and think it’s about a Facebook ad, but if your foundation isn’t right you have no shot at long-term success.” ~Gary Vaynerchuk

He explains that so many people are in the “excuse business.” I could not agree more and it’s a huge challenge for people.

It reminds me of an interview I did with the founder of Addicted 2 Success, Joel Brown, I brought this very topic up to hear his perspective.

At the time I had many conversations with people who told me they wanted to start a business of their dreams or make a change they desire in their life but said the didn’t have time because they are busy with family, kids, whatever it was.

I asked Joel if those life situations were reasonable or excuses.

His answer was:

‘Unfortunately, those people are making excuses and the sad truth is not that they don’t have time, it’s that they aren’t willing to make the time.” ~Joel Brown

The hard truth Vaynerchuk shares is bold, honest and unfortunately, spot on – a lot of things can happen in life but the world just doesn’t give a shit.

So what has worked for Gary?

Well, simply put he states what worked for him is – optimism, gratitude and overall, a positive mindset.

Black and White

From Vaynerchuck’s perspective, life is black or white – you can be on the offense or the defense.

It’s a really simple way of putting it but sometimes keeping things simple is the best way to put it.  You can walk through life creating reasons “why not” or you can walk through life creating reason “why yes.”

Sounds simple, right?

These perspectives are easy to understand but most will not consciously put in the effort to shift their thinking.

The problem is that you are deeply conditioned through all the years of your life. They way you think now is not something you just flip the switch on and change. You have to work hard at it.

The optimistic outlook he talks about is important and fundamental to long-term success because it will shape how you make decisions and the results you get.

We talk about this in a recent article we shared, “4 Tips to Get Out of Your Own Way And Create Next Level Success.

Most of what Vaynerchuk has shared in 2017 was based on a USA perspective but during this talk, he shares fresh insights. While everyone tends to lean their marketing towards the USA as the biggest market he has found that Australia and New Zealand have a market with a 20%-40% higher consumption rate.

Don’t Judge

Nobody wants the new technology to come along and change everything we know. A lot of people hate change. I’m sure you have heard a member of an older generation say things about how it used to be or that kids today have lost the ability to connect in person.

Vaynerchuk makes the point that you can sit around and judge kids for being on the phone and not connecting the way people used to but at the end of the day, nobody cares. If you don’t adjust you will be totally left behind.

New Reality

The world is being lived through the smartphone today and that is the reality.

Years ago it was newspapers, Tv, and radio. Today its blogs, video, and podcasts. It’s the same idea but people are putting their attention in a different place.

Anything you want to do in life today as an entrepreneur requires a person’s attention – written word, audio, video. You must figure out where the people you want to share it with are and then you have to share the content.

We have all heard the hype of video. So does that mean you should become a video master? Not necessarily.

Vaynerchuk stresses that you have to be self-aware, who are you and what are you good at? Do what you’re good at!

Facebook & Instagram

Facebook and Instagram have massive audiences and the ad product is deeply underpriced right now. But it won’t be forever.

Vaynerchuk states that if you do not spend 2018 obsessing over how to succeed on Facebook and Instagram you will lose.

When Vaynerchuk was building his father’s liquor store google AdWords came out he has one big regret that offers a powerful inight. He bought every wine term for five cents a click and was getting customers for 40 to 80 cents which was worth $10-$15 to him. A huge win! But his regret was that he built his father’s company to a $60 million company but feels if he was smart he would be built it to a $250 million company. Why? He goes on to explain, at that time if he was smart he should have taken all his energy and money out of print, radio, and direct marketing and gone all in with AdWords.

From 2002-2008 guess who did go all in on that platform? Amazon!

Another great example he explains is the company called, Wish. A few years ago a few former Google engineers started the company and all they did was run Facebook ads. They were the biggest Facebook advertisers for the last five years and have exploded!

shopping app called wish – biggest facebook advertising in last five years

Nothing Lasts Forever

It’s important to understand that this opportunity could turn into a regret if you don’t take action because it will not last forever.

He estimates that you have about another 12-18 months before change happens. The biggest companies in the world are not spending enough money on these platforms. However, Vaynerchuk explains, once big brands like Mercedez Benz, Budweiser, and Coca-Cola get their act together moves their budget from old traditional marketing over to Facebook, you will no longer be able to spend $4 on a CPM (cost per thousand). It will become $86 for a CPM.

Facebook and Instagram are marketplaces. If you want to promote in their feeds you have to pay to play.

At the same time, as years go by people will get so tired of seeing ad that it will be hard and harder to get them to click and that will jack the price too.

This is a micro-moment – it will pass – you can act on it or look back later with regret.

While Vaynerchuk believes if you’re not spending 65% of your cash on Facebook and Instagram you’re leaving money on the table but he makes a few key points as to back that up with three key points before people go ham on these platforms:

  1. The creative and copy matter – if they suck you will lose
  2. Start with small budgets, test the creative and copy and then invest more on the winners.
  3. You have to be the practitioner to be successful – learn it yourself, don’t pass the work off to someone esle.
  4. Context is key – make your ad relevant such as localization – speak to specific people

It’s a science my friends, and you have to run tests.

Final Thoughts

Vaynerchuk shares a lot in this video and we tackle some of the key points here.

Being a successful entrepreneur is a skill set. You need to get yourself in the right place mentally and it takes a lot of work. Not just work, but smart work.

As we always say, the number of hours you work doesn’t matter as much as the quality of those hours.

Knowing what to do is far different than taking action and executing.

You might also enjoy:

Instapage Review: Does This Landing Page Tool Live Up to The Hype?

What is Instapage?

Instapage is an online tool that helps you quickly create and launch landing pages. They focus on what happens after a user clicks one of your paid adverts. It’s also great at helping you track conversion rates on paid advertising campaigns. In the past, building landing pages used to be expensive. Good-looking mobile responsive landing pages were especially difficult.

The page builder that Instapage provides makes it easy to create landing pages. Especially when you have no coding skill. You can choose from 200+ landing pages organized by type. This allows you to easily create and test landing pages for a wide range of marketing campaigns.

Instapage Pros and Cons of Instapage

ProsCons
Drag and drop landing page builderSlow support response
InstablocksOccasionally buggy
Excellent A/B TestingLimited integrations
Advanced attribution trackingExpensive for full features
Effective real-time collaboration toolsCounterintuitive menu options
Great for beginnersLacking in customization options

Key Features

  • A/B testing
  • Change the published URL
  • Collaboration Solution
  • Drag & drop WYSIWYG editor
  • Edit landing pages any time
  • Email notifications
  • Form builder
  • Free subdomains
  • Heatmaps
  • Instant analytics & data
  • Lead-gen dashboard
  • Mobile responsive
  • Professional templates
  • Publish to multiple domains
  • SEO plugin
  • Social widgets
  • Support for video
  • Instapage Template Importer

Instapage Feature Spotlight

1. Massive Template Library

You can choose from over 200 customizable templates. Each of these has been optimized for conversions. I was especially impressed with the range of templates on offer. You may need a page for lead generation, webinars, or an event registration. Regardless, you will find something that looks great and converts reliably. Another excellent benefit is the ability to import your own landing page templates. For instance, I love the selection of themes at ThemeForest. And the import feature allows me to upload premium themes to modify later on.

Instapage

2. Instablocks

This is the unique way Instapage allows you to build landing pages at scale. This is important if you are advertising on a pay per click basis. PPC platforms offer discounted rates for more relevant ads. This takes into account both the ad wording and the content of the landing page. The higher your ad-keyword-landing page relevancy, the cheaper your cost per click.

Instablocks allows you to create landing page building bricks. These bricks can be used to construct a large number of landing pages in a short time. This allows you to create high-relevance landing pages at the same rate as you are creating ads. This also reduces the time it takes to set up a series of A/B tests.

Instapage

I tested this feature with a brand-new campaign that required me to test 62 unique adverts. Running a test like this used to take a couple of weeks. Instead, I was able to create landing pages for each ad in a single afternoon. I was able to create custom building blocks for my campaign and save them for later, so I saved a lot of time not having to duplicate my work. This freed me up to create more unique variations. This, in turn, led to counterintuitive but profitable results.

3. Advertising Attribution

This is my favorite Instapage feature. When you spend serious money on AdWords there are lots of clicks flying around. Many campaigns, multiple ads, thousands of keywords. Which are profitable and where is the waste? It used to take a data analyst to figure all this out. I found that as my campaign scaled, this became prohibitively expensive. And it’s not as though the analysts never made mistakes.

So I love the advertising attribution solution. It had an immediate positive effect on the return on investment of the campaign I tested it with. More importantly, the results scale to all my pay per click activity. The Wanamaker conundrum is finally solved. I previously knew I was wasting half of my advertising money. And now I have a clear idea of where the waste was occurring.

Up to this point, the main difficulty has been tracking campaign performance. This has been especially difficult at different stages of the funnel. It has been tough to attribute conversions and revenue to specific keywords. How does one connect revenue to specific campaigns and individual ad costs?

It has been tough to track this automatically, and doing it manually gets expensive at scale. This happens because the middle of the funnel represents something of a black box. So much can happen between an ad being clicked and a completed sale. It is difficult to find a system that will keep track of everything that happens between the click and the sale.

Instapage’s advertising attribution solution offered me a newfound perspective. I now have a better idea of what is happening in the black box that represents the middle of the funnel. This is the only solution that gave me reliable data on both cost per visitor and cost per lead. Not just for paid ads, but for organic traffic as well.

4. Global Blocks

This is the key time-saving feature of Instapage. It is fairly new so I’ve not been using it very long, but it is a game changer. This feature allows you to manage all your landing pages instantly. This will save you a ton of time if you manage hundreds of landing pages across many campaigns. When managing so many pages, you will often need to make updates to specific parts of multiple pages. I can say from personal experience this can be a major pain.

For example, back in January, I faced the dull task of updating the copyright date at the bottom of my landing pages. It is a minor detail but needed to be done. This is both mind-numbing and time-consuming to do manually. Using global blocks allows you to create an editable block to be used across all landing pages. It doesn’t matter if you are working with five or 5,000. Imagine making these updates one by one? Instead, you can make changes in a single block and publish them to all your pages with a click.

The second, more profit-focused, use for global blocks is templating “champion” elements. Let’s say you’ve been testing 63 different calls to action. After extensive testing, you find a call to action block that outperforms all the rest. You can now publish that element to all your landing pages with a single click. This gives all your pages an instant conversion boost.

Take a look at Instapage’s different plans from the core plan to the Enterprise or Premium plan:

Alternatives to Try

 Instapage UnbounceDripLandingi
PriceInstapage’s pricing range is $69-229Unbounce pricing range is $99-499Drip pricing range is $0-99Landingi pricing range is $29-249
TrialYes, no CCYes, with CCNoYes, no CC
A/B Testing
API
Automatic Notifications 

 

 

 

CRM Integration 

 

 

 

Conversion Rate Optimization 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conversion Tracking 

 

 

 

Custom Branding 

 

 

 

Custom Templates 

 

 

 

Drag & Drop Interface 

 

 

 

Email Integration 

 

 

 

Email Notifications 

 

 

 

Landing Page Templates 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monitoring
Reporting & Statistics 

 

 

 

Testing Management 

 

 

 

Integrations

  • Drupal
  • Facebook
  • Google AdWords
  • Google Analytics
  • HubSpot
  • LinkedIn
  • MailChimp
  • Marketo
  • Salesforce Sales Cloud
  • Shopify
  • WordPress
  • Zapier
  • ConvertKit

Instapage

Conclusion: Is Instapage Worth It?

Instapage is a powerful landing page software. Its power is enhanced by a few key features:

  • Advanced A/B testing functionality,
  • a diverse integrations ecosystem,
  • and seamless collaboration features.

This is a flexible landing page system with layered functionality. Instapage allows both solopreneurs and large marketing teams to execute successful marketing campaigns.

One of the first things you will notice about Instapage is that it is fully customizable. As you continue to use it, you will learn it is also scalable. I can recommend this landing page solution. It’s one of my top sales funnels software programs out there too.

When compared to other solutions, such as Unbounce, it is far more flexible. If you are managing a team of people with differing opinions about how the marketing campaign should be conducted then Instapage can settle a lot of arguments with its testing and collaboration features.

Instapage provides a lot of features that increase the accountability of team members. This is mainly due to its finest feature, the advertising attribution solution. Using attribution, you can tie specific results to the work of specific people or teams of people. This greater accountability produces more effective marketing campaigns. It also improves the productivity of the teams you manage over the long run.

Instapage offers the ability to optimize the comparative advantage of different team members. It also allows you to reward them for their marginal contribution. Combined, these are the two greatest benefits that make Instapage highly recommended. This becomes truer as your team grows.

Activecampaign vs Hubspot: Make a Smart CRM Choice Today!

Are you planning to start using a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system? In the very basic sense, a CRM manages all strategies and activities used to interact with customers. CRM helps in building and maintaining customer relations. This, in turn, creates loyalty and increases retention.

While a CRM can do wonders for your business, it’s not easy to select the right product. Just search online and you’ll find dozens of good CRM solutions. There are hundreds of options and it’s easy to be confused.

Let us make things easier for you. We’ll select the two top two options: ActiveCampaign and Hubspot, and compare them both. This way, you’ll get a better understanding of which option does what. And you’ll be able to make an informed decision.

Let’s begin.

What is Hubspot?

HubSpotStarted in 2006, Hubspot began with the observation that businesses do not quickly adapt to the changing requirements of their clients. To bridge this gap, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah invented Hubspot.

Hubspot is user-friendly, feature-rich, powerful, and helps users get relevant and personalized results. The aim of Hubspot is to transform the businesses and make the industry more inbound.

What is ActiveCampaign?

In the world of CRM, ActiveCampaign is the most user-friendly marketing platform that’s designed with small and mid-level businesses in mind. If you want to create eye-catching campaigns and attractive marketing strategies, this platform can be the best for you.

From alluring email marketing drives to customer retention to many other aspects, ActiveCampaign can do it all. In particular, the visual campaign creator is very useful in making targeted email campaigns. The ads are based on customized user interactions. The software also records all interactions and assists in closing deals.

In addition, the software can also integrate more than 700 services and applications. These range from accountancy to content management system to every other aspect of marketing and business optimization.

How much do they cost?

Hubspot offers a number of pricing schemes depending.

The lowest version of Hubspot is free to use. However, the Hubspot Marketing Suite offers three distinct modes. These are based on different needs such as the scale of operations and other aspects. You can also try it for free in the beginning.

ActiveCampaign has 4 paid modules. Setup is free but it costs money to go above a set number of contacts.


HUBSPOT PRICING

ACTIVECAMPAIGN PRICING
Basic – $200/month (Billed Yearly)

  • Email Marketing
  • Social Media
  • Content Marketing
  • Analytics
  • 100 Contacts + $100 per 1k extra
Lite Module – $15/mo (monthly) or $9/mo (yearly)

  • Limitless sending
  • Email Marketing
  • Newsletter Mailing
  • Max 3 Users
  • Chat & Email Support
Pro – $800/month (Billed Yearly)

  • Salesforce Integration
  • Smart Content
  • Marketing Automation
  • 1,000 Contacts + $50 per 1k extra
  • All Features of Basic
Plus Module – $70/mo (monthly) or $55/mo (yearly)

In addition to all features of Lite plan, this one has:

  • Max 25 Users
  • CRM and Sales Automation
  • SMS Marketing
  • Deep Data Integrations
  • Custom User Permissions, Branding and Domain
  • Unlimited Sending
  • Contact & Lead Scoring
  • One on One Training
Enterprise – $2,400/month (Billed Yearly)

  • Predictive Lead Scoring
  • A/B Testing
  • Advanced Reporting
  • 10,000 Contacts + 10 per 1k extra
  • All Features of Pro
Professional Module – $159/mo (monthly) or $129/mo (yearly)

In addition to features of Plus Module, it offers:

  • Max 50 Users
  • Limitless Sending
  • Site Messaging
  • Attribution
In addition to the above, Hubspot also offers a Sale’s Basic module. This free version is useful but does not have as many features as the Pro version. Here is the list:

HubSpot Sales Basics – Free

  • Restricted Calling and Documentation along with restricted email tracking and templates
  • Email notifications and scheduling
  • Integrated Outlook and Gmail
  • HubSpot CRM integration & API

HubSpot Sales Pro – $50/user/month

  • Sequencing
  • Prospecting
  • Metting
  • Everything in the Free version
Enterprise Module– $279/mo (monthly) or $229/mo (yearly)

In addition to features of Professional Module, this offers:

  • In-depth Onboarding
  • Uptime SLA
  • Free Social Data and Design Services
  • Limitless Sending and Users
  • Customized Mailserver Domain
  • Dedicated Account Rep

 

You can also get an add-on for all features for a one-time cost of $200. 

The Best Features of Both

Email Automation

Both platforms offer very similar services in this area which include excellent and customizable email templates. However, ActiveCampaign does offer some better features than Hubspot. For example, you can leave notes under relevant automation series as well as ‘yes or no’ automation considerations.

HubSpot

Blogging Integration

In this area, Hubspot is the clear winner because it facilitates direct blogging from its website. Thus, it enables SEO and marketing to be directly integrated into the blogs.

HubSpot

Campaign Reporting

Once more, Hubspot offers better features here by generating social network source reports within 10 seconds. ActiveCampaign instead offers setting up website analytics and free conversion tracking through Google Analytics which makes the process slower.

HubSpot

Social Media

For 3rd party app integration, both the platforms offer excellent integration features.

Also, in social media management, Hubspot wins because of its range of 0features like report generation, post scheduling, engagement monitoring etc. You can also create and upload a post spreadsheet which Hubspot will then use to automatically schedule posts. However, you must follow their template for this to happen.

HubSpot

Comparison Table: Hubspot vs Activecampaign

SoftwareHubspotActiveCampaign
AudienceBest for small businessesBest for small to mid-level businesses
Pros
  • Easy to use
  • able to grow with this software
  • Extensive insights into online marketing on its blog
  • Easy to automate
  • Free to install
  • Customize assistance
Cons
  • Only yearly subscriptions available
  • Scaling is expensive
  • Prompt tech support is costly
  • Few Interface customization facilities
  • Can’t design a landing page
  • Despite the attractive automation tool
  • email builder and CRM are lacking
HighlightsBulk social media posting

Bi-directional CRM syncing

Create invoices

Lead segmentation and scoring

Web activity tracking

Mobile app

Personalize web content

Sales reports

Social CRM

Event management

Real-time sales alerts

Predictive analytics

Split testing

SMS marketing

Lead segmentation and scoring

Social CRM

Web activity tracking

SMS marketing

Personalize web content

Lead segmentation and scoring

Web activity tracking

SMS marketing

Personalized web content

Create invoices

Create membership sites

Bulk social media posting

Sales report

Split testing

Bi-direction CRM syncing

Event management

On the whole, both Hubspot and ActiveCampaign are great options for CRM. While Hubspot is certainly more diverse, it is also considerably more expensive. So, the question boils down to how much of an investment you are willing to make in your marketing campaigns.

Conclusion: Which Should You Choose?

Analogically, you could say that the difference between them is the same as that between a digital and atomic clock. While ActiveCampaign, the digital clock, offers relatively accurate reading, it cannot match up to Hubspot, the atomic clock.

Normally, you should consider going for ActiveCampaign when just starting out your business. During this time, it is unlikely that you will have more than the basic threshold for contacts in the app. Also, ActiveCampaign is much easier to use and gets the job done with minimum fuss. So, it is a good place to start. If you have lesser than 3,000 web traffic per month, then ActiveCampaign is great for you.

However, as your business grows, you will come to feel that ActiveCampaign is just not cutting it after a while. In that case, it is probably time to switch over to HubSpot. By now, you must have your revenue streams sorted as well. So, it should not cost you a lot to operate the software effectively.

ActiveCampaign is great for starting. It handles central issues like email marketing and CRM easily. You can just use WordPress to make up for its lack of blogging options. Do the same with Google Analytics and Buffer. Nevertheless, Hubspot’s impressive functionalities will make you want to try it at least once.

So consider all the aspects, choose wisely and get the best out of your CRM.

My final top pick: Hubspot — If you want to grow your company, you need to invest in the right tools. I believe that Hubspot is an excellent CRM that you will love. Why not try a free 30-day trial today to find out for yourself? 

Why Your Company Should Consider Becoming a 1% For The Planet Member

We’re taking a cue from our good friends over at Manoverboard, a fellow B Corp agency in Winnipeg, Canada, who recently wrote about why becoming a 1% for the Planet member is important to them. One of our first philanthropy acts of 2018 was to join the ranks of companies committed to earmarking 1% of their top-line revenue (not profit) to specific environmental organizations each year.

1% for the Planet is a Vermont-based nonprofit started by the folks at Patagonia, another B Corp. Member companies donate 1% of their annual revenue to a list of vetted environmental nonprofits and can the organizations they want to support. This is critical philanthropy work at a time when it is really needed.

As noted on the 1% website:

“If we don’t act now, the viability of our planet and our quality of life — to say nothing of the health of our economy — face an existential threat. … Currently, only 3% of philanthropic giving in the U.S. goes to environmental causes; and only 3% of this giving comes from the business community.”

We believe in the urgency of solving this massive problem so much that we changed the legal structure of our company to better support people and planet alongside profit. Mightybytes has been a Certified B Corp since 2011 and an Illinois Benefit Corporation since January 2013.

Certified B Corporations like Mightybytes meet the highest standards of positive impact on society and the environment.

Related: Interview with Rick Alexander: Everything You Need to Know About Benefit Corporations and Legal Structures

As a Benefit Corporation, we are required by law to provide a “public benefit” to society alongside the standard business goal of generating profit. No easy feat. We are also required to publish annual benefit reports that outline exactly how we made good on that legal commitment; our latest was just released.

Why is this important? Being legally committed to long-term gain for people and planet while also operating as a for-profit company requires a sustainable financial foundation upon which we can build successful philanthropic efforts. Without profit, we cannot achieve our philanthropic goals. For us, being a 1% for the Planet member is not only imperative because of the sorry state of our planet, but it’s also important to the long-term survival of our company.

Streamlining Philanthropy

As a B Corp and digital agency, Mightybytes works to benefit society through collaborations with fellow B Corps, civic agencies, associations, and nonprofits.

When we became a B Corp, Mightybytes began offering discounts to nonprofits and mission-aligned organizations that wanted to work with us. It felt good to support other social enterprises and use our skills for world-changing social impact and environmental justice projects. Over time, unfortunately, that came at great cost to the company.

Challenges With Discounts

We ran into a few recurring problems with these discounts, which negatively impacted our ability to operate sustainably and profitably:

  • It often was challenging to manage our hard costs on these projects.
  • It was tough to correlate the altruistic intentions of our discounts to budget discussions as projects wound down. This led to many difficult conversations.
  • In some cases, we offered discounts to companies that claimed they wanted to become B Corps but ultimately never did.
  • Most importantly, these projects were rarely profitable.

If the above were true for a project or two, we could weather the consequences, no problem. In 2016, however, over 70% of our work came from mission-aligned nonprofits, B Corps, and other social enterprises.

While we’re proud of this fact, as noted above, very little of that work was actually profitable. We were teetering on the verge of philanthropy run amok. Plus, through products and services like Ecograder, green web hosting, and sustainable design, we’re on a mission to make the web a greener place, which also requires financial resources.

Given all this, it’s easy to see why our good-intentioned project discounts posed a long-term challenge for the company. They weren’t directly tied to Mightybytes’ ability to generate a sustainable profit. We had to rethink how we work with mission-aligned organizations.

Mapping Philanthropy to Profitability

These were really tough decisions to make. Some of the nonprofits that we worked with had challenges making even the discounted project budgets work. While we loved and believed in their missions, it wasn’t a smart business decision to hamstring our financial prosperity in the name of their cause, which happened in a few unfortunate cases. When a plane is going down, there’s a reason you put on your own air mask first before helping someone else.

With our 1% for the Planet membership, philanthropy becomes a company-wide conversation that isn’t directly tied to any one project. The philanthropy conversation dovetails with those about overall profitability so everyone understands that our ability to make donations is directly tied to our ability to operate sustainably and profitably. Whether we make $10,000 in a year or $10 million, 1% of that is coming directly off the top to support environmental nonprofits.

Environmental Nonprofits We’re Supporting

We were thrilled to find out that the annual B Corp certification fee applies to our 1% for the Planet membership. We can always get on board with supporting B Lab and their global community of people using business as a force for good in the world. We made a commitment to help two other inspiring organizations as well:

Climate Ride

Climate Ride produces multi-day charity endurance events that raise money for organizations working toward a better future. Their beneficiaries focus on climate change, education, sustainability, renewable energy, and active transportation advocacy.

To date, Climate Ride has granted nearly $5 million to U.S. nonprofits that are working on these causes. Over $750,000 of this money was granted in 2017 alone. In this manner, they are a multiplier organization: A donation to Climate Ride in turn supports the more than 100 local and national organizations that are their beneficiaries. Plus, Climate Ride inspires everyday people to push themselves and their communities to make change happen. We love that.

In 2011, we built the Climate Ride website. From 2012 through 2017, we gave our pals at Climate Ride a $10,000 annual grant in pro bono services. We’re proud of this work and we know Climate Ride appreciated it. But, like the discounts mentioned above, there were a few problems:

That $10,000 just isn’t enough to really dig deep into many of the marketing challenges common to a young, growing nonprofit. Thus, our commitment essentially meant making ongoing site and maintenance updates, not the strategic digital marketing work we’re best at.
As noted above, our pro bono service grant wasn’t tied to any company profitability goals, so we were on the hook to do this work each year whether we could afford to or not. In 2016, this was a challenge for us.

By donating to Climate Ride through our 1% for the Planet membership, the organization can now put a portion of our gross revenues to whatever needs it may have in the form of cold, hard cash.

Alliance for the Great Lakes

This Chicago-based conservation and advocacy organization does critical work right in our own backyard. The alliance fights to protect the planet’s largest source of freshwater, the Great Lakes, which is a primary source of drinking water for 35 million people. The Alliance for the Great Lakes engages tens of thousands of people each year through advocacy campaigns, volunteering and beach cleanups, education, and ongoing research.

Through the 25-year-old Adopt-a-Beach program, Alliance for the Great Lakes volunteers have cleaned thousands of pounds of litter from shorelines.

Supporting the alliance’s work is important to us for many reasons:

  • The alliance’s efforts directly impact our daily lives as Chicagoans.
  • The alliance works on important issues like invasive species, toxic algal blooms, oil and chemical spills, microbeads, plastics, climate change issues, and a multitude of other things critical to the health and well-being of people who live around the lakes.
  • The alliance promotes the sustainable recreational use of the American Midwest’s greatest natural resource.
  • We love working with the alliance.

Philanthropy Evolves

Our team is researching whether it is viable to support a third organization as well, one that focuses on the health, economic, and social impacts of a changing planet. The terms of the 1% for the Planet membership give Mightybytes a great deal of flexibility to evolve this program as the year progresses.

As an agile-focused organization, Mightybytes is always evolving and improving its practices and processes, so this is not to say the company will never offer discounts or pro bono services again. Currently, Mightybytes offers project estimating and grant planning workshops to help nonprofits better prepare for digital projects.

By bringing Mightybytes in early, our nonprofit partners can work with our employees to get consensus on process, tech specs, and other high-level requirements in an open, transparent, and mutually beneficial environment that supports executing projects cheaper and faster.

In the meantime, Mightybytes is happy to support these great organizations and thrilled to join the ranks of 1% for the Planet businesses around the world.

Can Kindness Make You a Better Boss?

The answer is, unequivocally, “yes.” Data abounds to show that kindness works at work, and here’s why.

Did you know that emotions are contagious? They flow from the most powerful person in the room. So, if you are the boss, that’s probably you! If you want a productive and happy workplace, then you must create it.

Kind bosses have been shown to increase morale, decrease absenteeism and retain employees longer. Kind bosses may even prolong the lives of their employees by decreasing their stress levels which improve cardiovascular health.

Human brains (as well as the brains of other primates) have cells called mirror neurons. Mirror neurons do exactly what their name implies, and they go a long way to explain much of human behavior. Mirror neurons fire both when a person performs an action and when they observe an action being performed by another.

Kindness, It’s Not That Tough to Do

So when the boss enters the room with a big smile and says, “Happy Monday, everyone!”, he or she will see smiles all around. Alternatively, if you are in a low mood, you’ll bring others down with you. You may have noticed then when you see a commercial for someone eating delicious looking food, you feel hungry and when they’re drinking a coke…need I say more?

When you see someone injured, your mirror neurons for pain get triggered and you feel empathy. For most of us, working out in a group is much easier than exercising alone. You can thank your mirror neurons for that.

As you can see, mirror neurons come into play throughout our day. By understanding how your brain works and how you are impacting others, you can choose behaviors to positively impact those around you both at work and in your personal life. So if you want to create a kind workplace, it’s just this simple. Be kind. Say kind things. Do kind acts.

Being kind doesn’t mean you have to be a pushover. To the contrary! To quote my esteemed colleague, David Loewenstein, Ph.D., “I am a marshmallow on the outside with a backbone of steel.”

So treat your employees with kindness, but at the same time let them know you have high expectations. As, a leader, you must consistently have that backbone. It should be composed of integrity, honesty, and a clear vision for your company.

How can companies help build leaders?

Adam Grant, Ph.D. at the Wharton School of Business in his groundbreaking book, Give and Take, shows how companies can win across many metrics by hiring and supporting more employees who are givers (as opposed to takers).

 

 

Harvard Business School’s Amy Cuddy and her research partners have also shown that leaders who project warmth – even before establishing their competence – are more effective than those who lead with their toughness and skill. As a result, the employees feel more loyal and committed and are more likely to go out of their way to be helpful and friendly to other employees.

Research on “paying it forward” shows that when you work with people who help you, you will be more likely to help others (and not necessarily just those who helped you).

Jonathan Haidt, Ph.D. at New York University Stern School of Business shows in his research that when leaders are self-sacrificing, their employees experience being moved and inspired. This phenomenon, Dr. Haidt calls “moral elevation” and it is triggered by viewing acts of uncommon goodness.

What does kindness look like for a leader?

So just what does kindness look like for a leader?

  • Greet employees in a positive way.
  • Praise good work.
  • Pay attention to team morale and work to enhance it.
  • Focus more on solving problems than on who or what’s to blame.
  • Treat everyone with respect.
  • Care for and be interested in employees’ daily lives.
  • Show compassion and concern when employees are struggling.
  • Use and encourage open, honest and direct communication.

In short, kindness works. I hope I have inspired you to try it.

If you’d like to check out Dr. Ritvo’s latest book for a deep dive you can find it here:

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Is The Regenerative Economy The Future of Capitalism?

This article was originally written by Bill Kramer and published on Next Billion.

Eight men are as wealthy as the poorest half of the world, according to Oxfam. If you have worked on poverty issues at all, you know the general outlines of inequality. Nevertheless, it still has the power to shock the conscience.

We can highlight a few of the facts in the Oxfam briefing paper, “An Economy for the 99%”, published in January.

The report deserves your attention:

  • Today, the top one percent owns more wealth than everyone else combined;
  • In the U.S., the bottom half of the population has seen zero income growth while the top
    one percent has seen a 300 percent increase over the past 30 years, according to Thomas
    Piketty;
  • Intergenerational transfer of wealth by just 500 rich people over the next 20 years, $2.1 trillion is more than the GDP of India with its 1.3 billion people.

How did we get here? And, one a related note, how do we get out of this unsupportable situation? These are unquestionably critical and pressing questions for those of us “in the business,” but it’s fair to say that they should be equally important to everyone, for the accelerating pace of inequality and poverty increases crime and instability, fosters social unrest, and severely hampers efforts to reverse course.

So, let’s address the first question. The Oxfam briefing paper, as well as many other observers, lays the responsibility directly at the feet of an ideology, neoliberalism, which has provided the energy and justification for economic policies whose results are now on display. Neoliberalism (and Keynesianism) is a relatively new phenomenon. It emerged largely from the ashes of World War II, as the victorious capitalist states, relying on the recommendations of a small group of neoclassical economists who put their faith in corporate capitalism to rebuild the devastated economies of Europe (and to a lesser extent, Asia) in the face of a perceived communist Soviet threat and, just a few years later, a similar threat in the People’s Republic of China. Neoliberalism got a huge boost
in the U.S. in the 1970s through the economists at the University of Chicago, starting with Milton Friedman.

Some of the principal tenets of neoliberalism include:

  • The goal of the economy and business is to generate financial wealth;
  • The freedom of the individual (person or corporation) is the primary societal
    value;
  • The government should be small, limited to protecting individuals and corporations
    and their private property;
  • If we just let the free market sort things out, all will be well.

One of the fundamental, but usually unacknowledged assumptions of neoliberalism is that man is selfish and that the markets are an efficient way in which to channel that basic human trait. The pursuit of profit is a handy and useful stand-in for such selfish behavior. It’s a simple and neat narrative: “Hey, we were made this way, so go with it.” While there is no doubt that self-interested behavior is common, considerable research points in the opposite direction. The old narrative was based on assumptions that scientists now reject.

Psychologists, evolutionary biologists, and anthropologists and others find that we seek to meet our needs. But more than that, people seek goodness, connection and caring; we desire to be rewarded for meaningful contributions with a decent living but are not primarily motivated by acquiring wealth.

Our capacity for—indeed, need for—social behavior in the community begins to point us to an alternative philosophy, one that goes beyond the raw, monomaniacal pursuit of profit, one that measures human progress in ways other than GDP. The Oxfam report puts it this way: “We need to measure human progress using the many alternative measures available.

These new measures should fully account for the unpaid work of women worldwide. They must reflect not just the scale of human activity but how income and wealth are distributed. They must be closely linked to sustainability, helping to build a better world today and for future generations. This will enable us to measure the true progress of our societies.” Good sentiments. But where to start turning words into action?

As it happens, there are a number of folks focused on just that, and I am working with some of them. One is L. Hunter Lovins, founder of Natural Capitalism Solutions. With Paul Hawken and Amory Lovins, Hunter was the co-author of “Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution,” which has sold more than 2 million copies since its 1999 publication. That book imagined an economy
in which the biological realities of the natural capital—resources and living systems—were fully valued. It staked out a vision of a sustainable economy and the industrial revolution it could power. The conclusions of the Oxfam report owe a good deal to the natural capital framework.

Entrepreneurs and academics, inspired by “Natural Capitalism” and other foundational works, have been cultivating their own vineyards—the financial system, systems theory, ecological systems, and more—to better understand the dynamics of a new economy.

These empirical studies and theoretical frameworks are coming together under the general umbrella of “regenerative future” studies. The regenerative future is a world in which, when natural systems are fully understood and valued macroeconomically (by companies) and macroeconomically (at the national and global level), we will be in a position not just to sustain ecosystems and everything that is dependent on them, but, in fact, to begin to restore them to optimal health and productivity.

Each actor in this new realm, from his or her own perspective, is seeking to understand the inter-relationships of many disciplines that previously were considered separate and to bring them together in ways both academically stringent and real-world practice.

John Fullerton, for example, after a career on Wall Street with Morgan Stanley, has turned his mind to what he calls “regenerative capitalism.” He has created the Capital Institute to carry out the work of translating his years of investment experience into a holistic approach to a more sustainable future, without turning his back on the capitalist system.

Or take a look at the work of Robert Costanza, the “father” of ecological economics, a trans-disciplinary approach which is, in his words, “a bridge across not only ecology and economics but also psychology, anthropology, archaeology, and history … necessary to get a more integrated picture of how humans have interacted with their environment in the past and how they might interact in the future … an attempt to look at humans embedded in their ecological life-support system, not separate from the environment.”

An Oxfam senior researcher for many years, Kate Raworth, now working independently (a “renegade economist,” she calls herself), has been developing “Doughnut Economics,” the deep empirical study of planetary boundaries, which she describes this way: “Humanity’s 21st century challenge is to meet the needs of all within the means of the planet. In other words, to ensure that no one falls short on life’s essential needs (from food and housing to health care and political voice) while ensuring that collectively we do not overshoot our pressure on Earth’s life-supporting systems, on which we fundamentally depend. The Doughnut of social and planetary boundaries is a playfully serious approach to framing that challenge, and it acts as a compass for human progress this century.”

Many more could be added to this short list. But the point is made: Serious, practical and smart people are working today on an alternative approach to neoliberal ideology and policies. I find this work to be a compelling complement to the work that Al Hammond, Rob Katz, and I, along with other colleagues, did at the World Resources Institute as we tried to better understand low-income communities and their relationship to their own, and broader, economies. We looked through the lens of business engagement with poor communities.

Regenerative economics is a significant extension, focused not on business models but on systems and frameworks and the necessity for new, non-neoliberal narratives.

For myself, I am totally in synch with this idea, attributed to the novelist William Gibson: The future is already here; it’s just badly distributed. What we need to do now is find, aggregate, and communicate the positive future that is already happening.

Ontraport vs ActiveCampaign: Find the Best Solution for Your Business

Ontraport vs ActiveCampaign, which is the best marketing automation solution for your business based on their differences?

An Ontraport vs ActiveCampaign comparison attracts a sizable chunk of similarities and differences. But it is in the differences that the two marketing automation software suites really tell they are not made equal—at least as far as your business needs go.

Whether you are a blogger with informational products to sell or an e-commerce business with affiliates under an affiliate management tool, this review of ActiveCampaign vs Ontraport comparison aims to help you choose the best choice for your specific needs.

So without much storying, why don’t we compare Ontraport to ActiveCampaign in a battle of the best marketing automation solutions in the market right now?

Ontraport vs ActiveCampaign: Target Audience

Ontraport and ActiveCampaign were established in 2006 and 2003, respectively. That means they have been around for a stretch, proving they must be doing something right to persist thus far in a now-crowded market of basic, intermediary and advanced sales CRM, email marketing and marketing automation providers.

But while ActiveCampaign’s features and focus are targeted at the small to medium business segment, Ontraport is in good with an established business that’s been around for a while and needs the ton of advanced marketing automation the vendor provides—beyond basic email marketing solutions that the likes of Aweber, MailChimp, and Constant Contact can handle.

To spearhead their target audiences’ intents, both have affordable pricing packages that new and small businesses can find attractive and practical enough to sign up for. ActiveCampaign’s basic plan will start you out at $9/month while Ontraport welcomes you to their fold for $29/month. Find more pricing information below in the pricing section of this Ontraport vs ActiveCampaign review.

Differences in Business Essential Features and Benefits

Having said that, Ontraport takes its targeting up to a whole staircase by appealing to businesses in e-commerce, affiliate marketing and those with huge contact databases in their CRM.

E-commerce Features

Ontraport integrates e-commerce into its tagging system. What that does is it empowers you to have an e-commerce management area where you can create product listings, integrate them into your listings, as well as track sales. This could be a deal maker or deal breaker for you—or not if e-commerce and shopping carts are not as integral to your business.

With the Ontraport e-commerce features (which are supported by the premium pricing plan), you can easily track crucial e-commerce metrics and utilize resourceful tools such as:

  • Order processing
  • Payment processing (built-in)
  • Credit-card decline follow-ups
  • One-click upsells
  • Follow up on abandoned carts
  • Power free trials, subscriptions and coupon codes, as well as
  • Help compute your taxes based on the payment processing tool built into Ontraport

ActiveCampaign, on the other hand, does not support e-commerce features like these. But they do offer follow-ups on abandoned carts and shopping cart integration. However, you will need to integrate with a third-party app such as Zapier to seamlessly add-on the likes of Woocommerce, Stripe, BigCommerce, Shopify, and payments processing apps such as PayPal.

In fact, Ontraport even blows Infusionsoft out of the water here. For example, while Infusionsoft will allow you to view payment details like who has or has not paid, it does not offer payment processing in-built.

Ontraport has the feature built-in (although the actual funds’ transfers are handled differently). Nonetheless, you can still integrate a third-party payment processing app of your choice such as PayPal.

Check out Ontraport — risk-free for 90 days here!

All-in-One Marketing Automation Software

The similarities between Ontraport and Infusionsoft run much deeper than with ActiveCampaign, too. You will find Ontraport hosts a ton of advanced sales CRM, email and marketing automation features that make it function as an all-in-one marketing automation service—pretty similar to the “completeness” of Infusionsoft but without as much bloatware and user experience woes.

Ontraport goes further to provide membership site tools and postcard marketing that are excellent for businesses with a membership-style platform and who want to boost engagement and monetization of their growing audience/membership. In this regard Ontraport offers more than the WordPress Plugin that ActiveCampaign offers and adds on multiple membership levels support, member management and page-by-page content encryption—all of these are automated to save you time and boost your customers’ user experiences.

Another thing…

Ontraport also includes a Predictive Intelligence feature to their offer. What that does is allow you to virtually tinker with different campaign inputs to get a forecast of the kind of results you could expect if you implemented your campaign with the new changes.

It is a handy tool that can help you get the big picture. But you might not find it super helpful since business does operate differently in “reality”. It is still a handy feature to have, though.

Tagging

Again, like Infusionsoft, Ontraport allows users to group tagged contacts in an orderly, organized manner, which ActiveCampaign does not. With ActiveCampaign you have to manually search a contact by name using the inbuilt search tool in their CRM’s top right corner.

Yet if you have hundreds of contacts you will find Ontraport’s organized tags much easier to work with and save time.

Quick Comparision ActiveCampaign vs Ontraport:

ActiveCampaignOntraport
Marketing automationPublish Ontrapages
Smart auto respondersPublish Ontraforms
Built-in integrations with over 200 external servicesPublish Ontraport Marketplace
Drag and drop email designerWebforms
Track your contacts onsite and in  your appsWordPress Integration
Campaign, contact, as well as list reportingMembership sites
Track your contacts onsite and in your appsFacebook Integration
Campaign, contact, as well as list reportingsSplit testing
made, where your contacts live or travel Marketing automation,
Add live ecommerce data and even videos to your emailsEmail marketing
SMS marketing2-way SMS messaging
Free phone, live chat, as well as email supportPostcard marketing
Send newslettersPartner programs
CRM and sales automationMarketing tracking and analytics
Help with finding contacts based on age, gender, and locationPURLs
Advanced segmentation and targetingOrder forms
Automated seriesTrials, subscriptions, coupons and payment plans
Dynamic (as well as conditional) email contentOne-click upsells
Social media monitoring, as well as reaction automations,Lead management and scoring
Free email templatesTask management
Build custom forms for you landing pagesAbandoned cart follow-up
Free one-on-one trainingPowerful CRM
 Business Automation
 Custom Objects
 Metrics Dashboard
 Ontraport Mobile
 Secure open API
 Ontraport projects
 Award-winning customer service

Credit: Finances Online

Affiliate Management Tool

To complete the highlighting Ontraport e-commerce features, Ontraport works with partners to provide a seamless affiliate management tool for its referral program support feature.

You can get automated partner tracking, payments, referral-tracking links, and partner management from Ontraport’s Partner Center. You can even get promo tools for promotions and receive earnings reports to see how you and your partnerships are bearing fruits.

This is a feature that ActiveCampaign is conspicuously missing unless you integrated it with AffiliateWP.

What else ActiveCampaign is missing is an in-built landing page creator, which Ontraport does come with and more. The latter avails a landing page template marketplace where you can find the tools to personalize your landing pages so you can peak your leads’ interest to encourage increased conversion.

So if you sell online and have (or plan to have) an affiliate program running, Ontraport might have what you need to help you engage leads, tag to segment them based on their interactions with your site, follow them up, and engage them further to inspire them to convert to buyers than you would with ActiveCampaign.

Set Up and Ease of Use

While both Ontraport and ActiveCampaign are easy to set and run with little training, ActiveCampaign is decidedly the easier platform to get up and running on. This could very well be because Ontraport packs more features that might add up to extra learning curve time.

However, Ontraport is way dimmer compared to the complexity that Infusionsoft presents to many of its new users. With both, you get a visual, drag-and-drop sequence builder to help automate your email marketing process. However, if you are keen on striking email images and templates, Constant Contact packs more impressive email templates to help create more eye-catching emails.

Yet, while Ontraport packs a stack of resourceful features for all businesses, not being able to view these stats right from one page can wreck a little havoc as you try to figure out where to get that information.

For example:

With Ontraport, you can tell at what stage of your funnel your leads are converting to customers, where they are unsubscribing, whether they are receiving and opening your emails, as well as how much money you are making and how much you owe in taxes. Finding where all these information is stacked could be the slap in the butt, though.

That might mean you will need to hire an Ontraport specialist to consult with and from whom to learn how Ontraport works. Does that sound like a “hidden charge” to you?

Still on “hidden charges”, to gain a similar level of built-in Ontraport functionality with ActiveCampaign, you would need to turn to third-party applications integration—at a surcharge.

ActiveCampaign vs Ontraport: Support

Both marketing automation providers and Infusionsoft alternatives offer excellent customer support via multiple channels. If you are stuck, you can reach either via a certified online community consulting, phone, live chat and email on top of arranged online training—although ActiveCampaign offers phone support to Enterprise Plan members only.

Ontraport, like Infusionsoft, offers to train users in real-time coaching sessions on top of the helpful articles, “normal” training, phone, email and live chat options—for a fee. They also have a “Deliverability Consulting” offer where they claim to offer handy advice on how to optimize your email marketing deliverability to increase your email marketing ROI.

Tracking & Reporting

One of the sleekest tracking features of ActiveCampaign is that it starts to track customer behavior on your site immediately you set up your account—not after a customer completes an action such as subscribing to your newsletter to buying your product (which is what you’d find while using Infusionsoft).

In fact, after you are all set up, ActiveCampaign goes back in time to track and log your leads’ interactions with your site, helping you understand how they got to where they are on your funnel and what exactly they might be looking for so you can help them solve their problem.

With both Ontraport and ActiveCampaign you can implement site tracking on the go and mobile traffic, but ActiveCampaign goes further to track where your leads have been so you can learn their interests and craft your marketing material to appeal to those interests.

Overall though, both sales CRM, email marketing, and marketing automation platforms display detailed reports in visually-attractive pages, making it easy for users to interpret the dash data and inform marketing decisions.

Ontraport Pricing vs ActiveCampaign Pricing

As mentioned before, both ActiveCampaign and Ontraport keep their pricing models targeted at their target markets. Neither marketing automation vendor demands any setup fees to onboard customers—unlike the sub $1,000 setup fee Infusionsoft users have to part with.

However, while Ontraport pricing starts at $79 per month, ActiveCampaign offers the more affordable subscription at $9 per month. With ActiveCampaign, however, the fees add up as you grow your contact list—this is precisely why it has a 5-tier pricing model.

Ontraport pricing

ActiveCampaign pricing

 

If you prefer to test out the different marketing automation services before signing on the dotted line to warrant a long-term commitment, ActiveCampaign offers a 14-day trial period. Ontraport, on the flip side, makes ActiveCampaign’s trial period seem like a joke because they offer a 90-day money back guarantee—a 60-day jump over Constant Contact, too.

This is a good thing for businesses still deciding whether Ontraport is the best marketing automation software, sales CRM, and email marketing provider for their marketing needs in 2018.

But as you gain more contacts, you’ll notice that the pricing almost levels out at above 100,000 contacts, by which time your business would have graduated to an enterprise—where Ontraport’s bevy of features can actually shine brightest.

ActiveCampaign vs Ontraport: Who wins?

While both Ontraport and ActiveCampaign offer advanced sales CRM, marketing automation, and email marketing tools, they are not made equal.

The more advanced (and numerous) features of Ontraport make it an ideal marketing automation platform for medium-to-enterprise business users. ActiveCampaign, in contrast, primarily offers an ideal marketing software solution for solopreneurs and small-to-medium businesses.

In fact, many small business users would find it easier to start out with ActiveCampaign due to its user-friendliness, affordability, resourceful customer support and enough marketing automation features and benefits to last for a stretch of time.

But established businesses in need of an advanced marketing automation provider, with far fewer complexities than Infusionsoft, would find Ontraport to be a top-notch solution they can grow and scale with for the long haul and at an affordable monthly charge.

Therefore to choose the best marketing automation software in the Ontraport vs ActiveCampaign debate, you would do best to consider both the short-term and long-term needs of your business. If you have the tech-savviness to handle Ontraport, you can start out with it when you foresee your business growing past 10,000 contacts. Or you can opt to start out with ActiveCampaign’s enchanting UI and ease of use until you can outgrow it.

My final recommendation: 

If I had to choose, right this moment on which of these is best, I would have to say Ontraport.

Here’s why:

Advanced marketing features — Ontraport.

Affordability and Value — Activecampaign is cheaper to start, but Ontraport comes out on top as you scale and grow.

Ability to scale beyond 10K users — Ontraport.

Integrations and ease of use — Activecampaign is more user-friendly.

Overall winner — Ontraport

Check out Ontraport — risk-free for 90 days here!

What You Need to Know About True Corporate Responsibility And The Role of Trust

This article was written by Sam Ford for Change Creator Magazine.

Creating Sustainable Change

The business world is driven by frameworks. By concepts. By new ideas with pithy titles, whose core concepts can be stated in an executive summary. By metaphors.

The people who author them may make their living writing books, giving talks, and doing the consulting that surrounds it — to attempt to change the way people see their professional lives and see their concept become part of business parlance.

The greater business consulting industry that surrounds this infrastructure grabs onto some of these concepts and attempts to translate them into wider business practice. With case studies. With benchmarking. With trademarked names and proprietary methodologies. And “change agents” within organizations sign up to do the yeoman’s work of trying to adapt old systems to begin utilizing new ways of thinking.

These interventions can be important work. These frameworks may, in many cases, introduce useful ideas. But the business world loves a good metaphor so much that we’ll very quickly stretch it far past its usefulness, to the point it does more harm than good. And we love a good business phrase so much that we’ll quickly turn it into a buzzword.

Soon, it’s been taken far past the boundaries of its original meaning, and well-intentioned consultants and “change agents” risk finding themselves looking for nails for their hammers, or suddenly imagining everything is a hammer, or
imagining that everyone needs a hammer. (I think my metaphor just outlived its own usefulness.)

As a business consultant myself, I know how this goes. I risk contributing to the pollution. I might even profit from it in the short term. But how can concepts and metaphors have power without becoming over-utilized buzzwords? We must insist on, first, understanding the depth with which a concept adds to our meaning, and the degree of elasticity it has. And we must realize that every ecosystem is unique and that frameworks imported in won’t naturally fit wholesale.

Striking these balances is crucial for those striving to be meaningful “Change Creators.”

And one of the people who has most shaped my thinking on this — on seeing the power for change within capitalism to make it more responsible, to make it regenerative — is Carol Sanford.

Carol Sanford: “The Responsible Entrepreneur” | Talks at Google

True Corporate Responsibility

I first met Carol in 2010, in the most unexpected of places: the comments section of Fast Company. I’d been writing about why people in marketing, and in business leadership, were often conducting practices that were against their own long-term business interests, for the sake of short-term gain.

Soon, I learned about Carol’s history of doing deep, systemic consulting with businesses, ranging from Fortune 500 leadership to early-stage entrepreneurs. Her frameworks challenged accepted corporate lore and buzzwords. They demanded that people ponder how language and metaphors matter deeply and that the systems we use for understanding things shape (and distort) what’s possible. But they also dared say that it’s in the best interest of the capitalist to act and behave responsibly, not just responsibly and socially conscious as a fad or as a byproduct.

She didn’t just come armed with theories. She was prepared to demonstrate how it had worked when it was really given a try. When it wasn’t a surface-level retrofit to the system that already exists. When it wasn’t just adopted wholesale from the outside. And when it was holistic, and past this quarter, in its way of
thinking.

If you want to get a glimpse at how Carol thinks, listen to her conversation with Adam Force here at Change Creator from late last year.

In The Responsible Business, Carol’s 2011 book (for which — full disclosure — I wrote a blurb for the back cover), she lays out a premise she calls the pentad: that truly responsible businesses are responsible to their customers, their co-creators, the earth, the communities they’re part of, and their shareholders…but, crucially, in that order.

It’s been a way of thinking that has guided my work ever since, in part because it provides a framing for something that seems like we should have known all along. Perhaps it’s, as Robert Penn Warren once said of Dixon Wecter’s

The Hero in America, “This, however, is what we always say about even—about especially—the most original and important books after they have appeared. Once written, they always seem so obvious and inevitable.”

Since that time, Carol has built on that thinking in her argument for regenerative organizations. This approach is focused on how living systems work, how they regenerate themselves in an evolutionary way that keeps them viable — and how that sort of logic can help shape organizational design and growth.

As Carol says in her interview with Adam, thinking in a socially connected and regenerative way is partially about finding our way back to the core of what comes naturally to our species, and divesting ourselves from toxic practices that have gotten in our way.

It’s also about helping organizations engage in long-term thinking. Carol’s work has focused on sustainability — not only in the environmental sense, but in the organizational sense. How do you keep companies fixed on what makes the most long-term sense, on what’s in the best interests of the organization beyond this quarter or fiscal year?

This takes us back to the pentad, and the argument that working toward long-term goals is ultimately in the best interests of shareholders, or at least shareholders that truly are invested in your company. Carol puts strong emphasis that this is about a core logic that must be adopted uniquely for every organization, not produced at mass scale. This is about enacting true change.

Negative ROI

With that in mind, and inspired heavily by Carol’s work, here’s the change that I’m spending my time advocating for these days. When organizations think about the strategies for communication and for engagement with the various
stakeholders about whom they care, how do they consider negative ROI?

When it is used, the phrase “negative ROI” typically refers literally to the fact that a project lost money. But I’m adapting the phrase to emphasize another, even more fundamental problem with how organizations typically think about their return on investment.

How do organizations account for whether/how their investment might have had negative consequences that are hard to see, and how do those negative effects (to reputation and the relationship to key stakeholders) account
in the final equation of whether an initiative was successful?

If your measures of success don’t account for the potential negative effects of your actions, then you may count as a success an initiative which has significantly damaged your organization. If you don’t count negative ROI, then any thinking about long-term reputation might seem like a cost center in the equation you use to track the success of a particular initiative.

Consider this example, for instance, from the publishing industry. For commercial publishers, ROI typically will ultimately translate back to advertising dollars earned. An investment in stories, and the marketing of those stories, drive audience acquisition. Those audiences are sorted, counted, and sold to advertisers. The ROI will look at how much a story, or set of stories, and their promotion cost, relative to how much revenue they brought in.

Let’s say a particular story drove a large number of clicks/visits and thus brought in a significant amount of advertising revenue, relative to what the piece cost. But, what if that successful story drew much of its audience because of a clickbait headline? What if the predominant image promoting the article was built around a cultural stereotype heavily offensive to some audience members? What if the article actually had little to do with how it was positioned on social media?

In a “classic” calculation of ROI, that wouldn’t matter. With “negative ROI” calculated, too, however, organizations would have to ponder the potential damage from the number of people who were annoyed by the clickbait headline, the number of shares of the article that were from people who were outraged by the offensive stereotype, or the number of people who vowed never too be fooled again when they realized the article they were led to had little to do with the headline they clicked in their Facebook feed.

Here’s another example, built on some research I did a few years back with Peppercomm and The Economist Group. In our survey of business executives’ opinions about content they received from companies, 71 percent said they didn’t like content they received from B2B brands because it “seemed more like a sales pitch than valuable information.” Meanwhile, 70 percent of B2B marketers we surveyed said that they measured the success of their content marketing by tracking it back to “calls from customers and prospects.” In a classic calculation of ROI, the cost of the content is weighed against the new business which could be directly tied back to it. In that case, it’s no wonder that a company might include a strong sales pitch in their content, if direct sales is how ROI would be calculated.

Conversely, a calculation that also includes “negative ROI” would have to account for, or at least acknowledge, whether some audiences were turned off by the content. The accretion and erosion of trust.

In some cases, of course, businesses are not so worried about negative ROI. A partisan news site might be totally fine with turning off audiences outside the circle of people they’re trying to reach. That Nigerian prince is okay if 99.5 percent of their audience knows they are a scam artist, as long as they find enough people to dupe in their email blast; he’s not worried about his long-term reputation.

Negative ROI is also difficult for many organizations to think about because the effects cannot be easily quantified. It’s simple to calculate money spent. It’s simple to calculate money made. If you can draw a direct line between
the two, or even imagine a direct line between the two, then the math can be done quickly. But, just because the math is easy, it doesn’t mean your calculation is accurate.

However, the biggest challenge for calculating for negative ROI is that the effects are seldom immediate. Rather, we have to think about reputation, and trust, in terms of a gradual accretion or erosion.

Brand trust, and reputation is earned slowly. Customers don’t typically develop immediate devotion. The consistency of your product or service, the resonance your marketing and communications might have over time, and the quality of your customer’s interactions with you all ultimately shape the trust you have in a brand. Each new experience with your brand is a chance to accrue a bit more trust and loyalty.

A startup is well aware of how much work it takes to build a following. As they build up those layers of trust, though, it’s easy to quit focusing on the accretion process so closely. Brands take loyal customers for granted. They frequently focus more on the continued acquisition and less on maintenance. And, thus, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that every interaction is also a potential occasion for eroding some of that trust accrued.

One of the main reasons erosion is hard to notice is because its effects are seldom seen over the course of one business quarter. Sure, there’s occasionally a major crisis that may cause sales or stock price to plummet. But
the erosion process is typically much more gradual than that. It would take a longitudinal focus to see these trends. And companies seldom have the patience for that.

Actionable Steps and Takeaways: Four Tips for Tracking Sustainable Change and True Responsibility

If you are fortunate enough to build or work for an organization that has accrued enough trust and positive reputation to be successful, consider yourself a steward of that reputation. And, if you’re building a new organization from the ground up, how do you build it in a way that adheres to the concept of building a regenerative business, and so that you are making your decisions in a way that prioritizes your various stakeholders appropriately?

1. Think as Teams, Not Individuals. Humans Are Social Creatures.

Organizations are comprised of collaborative relationships, both within the company and around the company. As you build and maintain your logic and metrics, and your plans for growth, do so in a way that looks at the collaborative potential for your team, rather than individual goals.

2. Keep Your Priorities Straight.

Carol Sanford’s pentad is immensely useful in its stability. Are you prioritizing all your stakeholders? And are you
keeping those priorities in the right order? An environmentally friendly product that doesn’t solve customers’ problems won’t be viable in the market. A decision for the immediate benefit of your shareholders that has tremendous negative impact on your employees and co-creators will adversely affect shareholders who have a long-term commitment to the company.

3. Find Ways to Keep Track of Negative ROI.

Even if it can’t be qualified, find ways to include a check on negative ROI for your company investments.
Despite the allure of its simplicity, the equation is never as simple as money spent versus money earned.

4. Keep Stock of Your Accrual of Trust.

Build methods to check in on your reputational health on a regular basis. Taking your reputation for granted
will bring you long-term pain, even if you don’t feel it immediately.

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How This Hybrid Business Model is Tackling Food Security

Some people start businesses to get rich. Others see it as a way to fulfill their passions. But for an increasing number of entrepreneurs, business is a vessel to impact lives and do something meaningful.

Jacquie Berglund is a seasoned social entrepreneur. Her B-Corp beer company, FINNEGANS, was the first to donate 100 percent of its profits to charity and it is now linked to all manner of good causes. Like so many like-minded entrepreneurs, Jacquie is redefining business and what it means to be successful.

What It Takes to Be a Social Entrepreneur

Despite not growing up in an entrepreneurial-minded family, Jacquie Berglund had an instinctive feeling that she would become a business owner. Furthermore, she had a deep yearning to help improve the lives of those in need.

After observing her parents struggle through life as “working poor,” Jacquie became sensitive to the needs of people in similar situations. She was frustrated that despite the U.S. being one of the richest nations on the planet, a large portion of the population fell into the category of working poor.

Witnessing what her parents went through and knowing that so many other people experienced even worse hardships was one of the main factors behind Jacquie’s ambition to start a company. But, unlike so many entrepreneurs hailing from humble beginnings, Jacquie’s reasons for starting a business were far from self-serving.

If there is one trait that all social entrepreneurs have in common it is an innate desire to make the world a better place, or at least some aspect of it. For Jacquie, poverty was the number one concern.

Combining Passion with Profits and Success

Businesses represent aspirations of the owner. For some it is achieving maximum profits, for others, it is about realizing a lifelong passion. A few seek to combine the owner’s passion for a good cause with natural business practices of profit maximization and success.

A benefit corporation, which is a relatively new concept, allows entrepreneurs to legally and simply integrate their charitable goals with business operations. It means that they do not have to choose between a non-profit and a for-profit entity. In other words, a benefit corporation enables the best of both worlds.

There are several different ways to describe a benefit corporation, but the following, from CTBC, sums it up most succinctly:

“The benefit corporation is designed to accommodate a growing number of entrepreneurs and investors seeking a form of business that allows them to pursue an expanded mission that embraces societal good along with profits.”

That category of business was the perfect fit for Jacquie Berglund’s beer company – the company that would become her primary tool for to impact lives.

Business and Charities, the Perfect Match

FINNEGANS, Jacquie’s now thriving beer company, started out as Kieran’s Irish Ale – a charity beer born when both Jacquie and a previous employer, Kieran Folliard, sat down to determine a “giving strategy.”

With the idea of promoting a beer for charity fresh in her mind, Jacquie heard a presentation from Billy Shore of Share Our Strength. Amongst other things, Billy spoke about his for-profit consulting firm that was used to support his non-profit venture. That revelation sparked an idea within Jacquie. She would start making beer and direct the profits towards the good causes with which she was increasingly passionate.

Alcohol and good causes are seldom in association with each other. But FINNEGANS is a good example of how any business idea can be used to combine with charitable causes. Since 2007, FINNEGANS has experienced 30 percent annual growth. The brand is now present in some 1,500 restaurants and bars throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, North Dakota and Iowa.

That growth has had a direct impact on the charities, local communities, and causes that FINNEGANS serves. Jacquie’s boldness and vision that led to the marrying of the two ideas – beer and charity – has had a positive effect on the lives of thousands of people.

How FINNEGANS Does It (The Hybrid Model)

FINNEGANS Inc. is the for-profit arm of Jacquie Berglund’s brand. Through that company, profits are filtered to its non-profit counterpart, FINNEGANS Community Fund. The fund is used to acquire fresh produce for people in need, provide accommodation and support for the homeless and at-risk youth, and support a host of other causes.

Jacquie was the sole employee of the company from 2000, when the company started, until 2009 when she could finally take on four additional members of staff. If not for her determination, persistence and a small team of devoted volunteers FINNEGANS might not have gotten to where it is today.

Beer is not the only thing fueling FINNEGANS’ mission. Jacquie spearheads several other fundraising initiatives, including the recently launched Reverse Food Truck where food trucks are sent to cities.

Instead of delivering food, however, these trucks collect non-perishable foods for the food shelves as well as cash and credit card donations. This initiative is another world’s first for FINNEGANS,

Jacquie refers to the FINNEGANS quest as “turning beer into food.” But budding social entrepreneurs can use the concept to funnel any business idea into serving a good cause – turning cupcakes into clothing is a social business idea just waiting to be exploited.

Related: 11 Impact Business Models New Entrepreneurs Need to Know About! [Update 2018]

The Next Chapter

The story of FINNEGANS and Jacquie’s mission to alleviate poverty does not end here. There are bigger, bolder plans on the horizon. Currently, the final touches are being applied to what Jacquie is calling a “Brewtel.”

The Brewtel is a large brewery with hotel and conference rooms – “a kind of Willy Wonka factory for beer”, as Jacquie puts it. It will be a hub for the FINNEGANS brand and a place from which to spread the brand’s story to a wider audience.

There are also plans to start FINNovation Labs; an incubator for social entrepreneurs that will provide training, funding and launch support.

What are You Passionate About?

The FINNEGANS journey has been long and arduous. But Jacquie possesses amazing courage and stick-to-itiveness. She says that every social entrepreneur will face unique sets of challenges that will test their character.

One of the biggest challenges of operating in this space is getting access to financing. But, Jacquie hopes to see a shift in focus by the financial institutes shortly. That seems likely to occur as more social business’ become successful. Until then, social entrepreneurs will have to become “professional bootstrappers” like Jacquie.

She started FINNEGANS with only a dream and $500 in her bank account. With such constraints, you need to be extremely passionate and persistent to achieve your goals. Only a high level of passion and strong character will enable you to stick to the task when things inevitably become challenging.

Jacquie says that the first step towards setting up a social business is to figure out how you will fund the venture long term. Sustainability is especially important for social businesses. The groups and causes that you will serve often grow heavily dependent on the services, which if not sustained, could cause devastation.

It is also vitally important that you surround yourself with people that know you and can support you in many different ways. Jacquie herself had a “fantastic support network” from the outset. Without which, she says, it would have been almost impossible to have had success with FINNEGANS.

Social entrepreneurs, like Jacquie Berglund, are tackling the world’s biggest issues by building successful businesses. It is a relatively new and novel concept, but one deserving of attention. If you have a strong passion for a cause as well as a knack for business, you might just make a great social entrepreneur and end up changing the world.

You might also be interested in hearing directly from Jacquie Berglund in our exclusive interview – Interview with Jacquie Berglund: How This Hybrid Business Model is Turning Beer Into Food

ActiveCampaign vs Constant Contact: Which is Best? [2021 Comparison]

Find out the differences between ActiveCampaign vs Constant Contact to help you decide which one is the best email marketing platform for you.

ActiveCampaign vs Constant Contact: The Comparison

While Constant Contact vs ActiveCampaign are great email automation solutions, they are not made equal. To decide which is the best email marketing services provider between ActiveCampaign and Constant Contact, it is important to understand where one excels and the other doesn’t.

And if the difference works best for your specific business, then you would have your ideal marketing and email automation software.

In this post, we focus on the differences that make either choice a great option for your business no matter its size and industry.

  1. ActiveCampaign vs Constant Contact: Target Audience

Both online marketing solutions market their services to businesses of all sizes, from freelancers to enterprise clients.

But when it comes to actual use, it is clear ActiveCampaign is a more sophisticated marketing automation tool compared to the principal email marketing service offered by Constant Contact—which it refers to as “email automation”, meaning a sweet spot between all-out marketing automation and superb email marketing service provision.

In fact, ActiveCampaign would be a better-used tool in the hands of a business that has both the time and starting knowledge of operating a marketing automation software suite. On the other hand, Constant Contact is quite easy to get started on mainly because there are fewer tools to learn. CC is clearly an email marketing tool rather than an all-inclusive marketing automation tool such as Infusionsoft, HubSpot, and ActiveCampaign.

So if you plan on using a marketing software service for a scaling business, ActiveCampaign might be a better option while Constant Content could be better for freelancers and small businesses learning the loops of email marketing before engaging in all-out internet marketing campaigns that could use wide-ranging marketing automation solutions.

  1. Set Up and Ease of Use

Constant Content was built for ease of use. Its uncluttered dashboard screams that out loud, which augers well with its target audience.

In fact, as we’ve discussed before, CC is a good option to start with for a business that needs to learn the ins and outs of email marketing before getting to a full-on marketing automation tool that might be a tad too complex to start out with.

Constant Content offers a ton of email templates to help you set up a campaign in no time—much more generous than ActiveCampaign. You likely won’t be needing any special training to use them, either. You even get an image editor with a chunk of stock images and image editing options inbuilt, so you can inject visual delight to your emails and encourage engagement and conversion with contacts.

To create your subscriber list, you can import your contacts from other CRM tools for small businesses including Gmail and Outlook contacts hassle-free. Akin to ActiveCampaign, you can upload them as a CSV/XLS/TXT/XLSX file, copy/paste and/or manually enter contacts in your database.

Yet, ActiveCampaign takes it further by automatically searching for and adding to your list the social media contacts of the people that interact with your website, especially when they sign up for your newsletter, email, subscriber list or make a purchase outright.

This can be resourceful when you need to understand more about your target audience so you can fine-tune your marketing messaging to address their needs and book more business.

  1. Differences in Business Essential Features and Benefits

One of the best things about both is that they integrate with over 700 third-party apps. If you find a function missing with your subscription, you can easily supplement it by using a third-party app such as Zapier. You can also embed essential applications such as Woocommerce and Shopify form ecommerce users.

However, if you host events and need an email marketing service that will help you register event attendees, Constant Contact has a splendid tool for this. It allows you to easily create events, spread the word around and then capture interested people’s details. It will even create a separate list for an event, different from your mail email list.

That is important because you can target that group with only the content that is relevant to your event and nothing else. That way you can ideally increase attendance for the event by encouraging curiosity, likes, shares, and registration.

In the Plus package, you also get a survey and donations-enabling tools integrated with your emails, in case you need them. It recently added Action Blocks to power polls, where recipients no longer need to leave their email inbox to fill out a poll on a web page. They can do that within with one click.

ActiveCampaign does not offer a similar tool. What it does offer, though, is the ability to segment your contacts and tag them. But with Constant Contact segmenting and tagging gets better. As opposed to ActiveCampaign, with CC (and in a similar fashion to Infusionsoft) you can organize tags so you have it easy when segmenting hundreds of contacts.

However, since CC is not a comprehensive marketing automation tool, it has limited autoresponder capabilities. For example, you would not be able to customize your emails based on what action/trigger a lead engages in such as clicking a link in the body of an email—which you can with ActiveCampaign.

Still, Constant Content has a remarkably developed email builder than ActiveCampaign, hence if creating beautiful emails in a breeze is your main concern, CC would probably make the best option.

Constant Contact FeaturesActiveCampaign Features
Contact managementMarketing automation
List-building toolsSmart autoresponders
Tracking and reportingBuilt-in integrations with over 200 external services
Social media sharing toolsDrag and drop email designer
Image libraryTrack your contacts onsite and in your apps
Many apps and integrationsCampaign, contact, as well as list reporting
AutomationTrack where your contacts live or travel
Facebook fan promotionAdd live ecommerce data even videos to your emails
Events registration and managementSMS marketing tools
Opens and click trackingFree phone, live chat, email support
DeliverabilityCRM and sales automation
Mobile email marketingAdvanced segmentation and targeting
Email templatesDynamic email content
 Social media monitoring
 Free email templates

Credit: Finances Online

  1. ActiveCampaign vs Constant Contact: Support Options

To match its more complex marketing automation tools, ActiveCampaign offers optional training to businesses or freelancers that want to get a head-start with their sales and marketing automation software. Additionally, you can reach them via live chat and email support channels.

However, you are going to need to subscribe to the Enterprise package to get phone support, but you can get satisfactory live support when subscribed to their Lite package.

Constant Contact also offers phone support in addition to email, live chat and ticketing system support in case you need hand-holding to learn how to use powerful email marketing software for your small business. They also have a decent collection of DIY, how to articles on their site for your information—including information buttons next to certain menu options to explain what they are.

What’s special though, is they will sometimes call you back after a chat to ensure you got what you wanted and are doing alright.

  1. Reporting

Under the Reports tab, you’ll find one of the best features of Constant Contact. You get to view how your contacts are engaging with your emails. You’ll see email opens, clicks, subscriptions and unsubscribe rates on one, easy to understand page. Clicking on “Refresh” will even have you looking at real-time statistics. You can also get performance reports from social media channels you have linked as well.

Moreover, you get a bar graph that shows you your email open rates and a chart that helps you compare performance across several marketing drives. Still, you can use up to five emails to compare performance side by side.

Another jewel in the email marketing service’s crown is its uncanny capability to surpass through Gmail’s stringent spam filter. It is one of the few services that manage to not have your emails junked in the spam folder, where supposed recipients are likely to ignore your messages—and make your marketing efforts suck.

ActiveCampaign takes reporting to another level, though.

In addition to charts and bar graphs, you also get advanced lead scoring. With this feature, the reports you get are automatically used in Event Tracking to create personalized follow-up campaigns to further nurture and qualify a lead based on the actions they take on your online platforms or mobile app.

  1. Tracking

You can set up your Constant Content account to follow up on new contacts after certain they take certain actions or when it’s their birthday. A unique feature of CC is when your contacts unsubscribe from your newsletter, you still get to keep them in your contacts but no more emails will be sent to them. That way, you can decide whether to get back to them after some time or manually delete them from your list if not.

However, tracking is clearly an ActiveCampaign zone. Powerful tracking features you’ll get here include Event Tracking, Site Tracking, Advanced Lead Scoring, and advanced email split-testing. Site tracking empowers you to know where your contacts spend the most time, when, and where they travel.

You can then use that data to create even more personalized marketing messages based on what your contacts’ interests are. Still, ActiveCampaign allows you to schedule email blasts to reach your contacts at the same time of day or night all across the globe. So if you want all emails to reach them at 1 PM to encourage open rates during lunch break, you can have the messages delivered at your contact’s 1 PM despite time zone differences—even if the software has to delay some deliveries to hit the contact’s inbox during their 1 PM.

With lead scoring, you can set unlimited criteria that different leads need to meet before your sales team can reach out to them with an offer. All these make up the powerful sales CRM and marketing automation tools ActiveCampaign offers.

  1. ActiveCampaign Pricing Vs Constant Contact Pricing

While you only get 14 days to have a run with ActiveCampaign, you’ll have a whole 60 days to test-drive Constant Content.

Not only that, you get a 30-day, money back guarantee offer from the latter, which is unheard of in the industry—and is great news for all size businesses looking to find the best email automation service provider in the market now by utilizing a full-version package for a while.

Nevertheless, both email automation solutions provide scalable pricing models, so you can start out and grow with your choice—instead of later wanting to migrate your plumped up CRM to a suitable email marketing platform for your growing business.

Here are shots of pricing packages offered by both:

 

ActiveCampaign vs Constant Contact: Conclusion

Both email automation services are ideal for freelancers, small business, and even medium enterprise clients. Both do not have a setup fee like Infusionsoft. Yet are also affordable to start out and scale with.

But while ActiveCampaign offers a powerful combination of sales CRM, email marketing, and marketing automation technology, Constant Content has focused on excelling in email marketing services—where it does a great job, too. On one hand, new businesses might find the “all-in-one” aspect of ActiveCampaign a bit overwhelming. On the other hand, businesses looking to scale their digital marketing drives, are likely to outgrow what Constant Contact currently offers.

Depending on your specific business marketing goals, you can then decide which, between advanced marketing automation and powerful email marketing services, will work in your best interests.

The Best Alternatives to Instapage You Have to Know About

Instapage is an awesome tool that helps in the creation of highly optimized and customizable websites. Useful for businesses and individuals, this is one online resource that many have definitely benefited from.

Instapage is a powerful landing page software that provides post-click optimization for all digital and advertising campaigns. With enterprise capabilities, landing page templates, real-time team collaboration, Instablocks™, integration with your marketing automation app, and an easy-to-use builder, Instapage is a great choice for many but what if you are looking for an alternative (maybe one that you’ll love even more).

While Instapage is an excellent choice for many, there are alternatives to Instapage that you might love even more. Here, we’ve rounded out the best Instapage alternatives to get you started:

Hubspot

HubSpot

Hubspot provides a landing page builder as well as a wide array of other services. Thanks to features such as drag-and-drop and for development, creating a webpage on this platform will be as easy as possible. You get a dashboard that provides features such as personalization token and smart content, all of which make it easy for users to show various types of content based on their specific requirements.

Pricing

Hubspot makes the following plans available to customers:

  • The Free Plan, which goes for absolutely no fee
  • The Starter Plan, which goes for $50 a month
  • The Basic Plan, which goes for $200 a month
  • The Professional Plan, which goes for $800 a month
  • The Enterprise Plan, which goes for $2,400 a month

Try Hubspot for a free trial for 30 days! Click here to start! 

Wix

Without a doubt, Wix us one of the most popular cloud-based website development platforms. It serves over a million users all over the world and has been receiving a wide array of accolades in the past few years.

With Wix, it is possible for individuals and small businesses to easily build aesthetically appealing and professional websites that will also not in any way impugn their creativity with coding expertise. Wix is essentially a free service, but it is also possible for users to choose to enhance their experience and output by making a subscription to the premium plans offered by Wix, of which one of them is completely devoted to serving online retailers and e-commerce providers.

The rationale behind the creation of Wix is a pretty simple one; they believe that with the right building software, a developer should be able to create just about anything. With their Editor, Code, or Artificial Design Intelligence Model, it is possible (easy, in fact) for you to build a nice hub for your content, and you can also build just about anything; from a simple profile web page to robust and highly multifaceted retail store.

It is important to know that you don’t especially need to have any technical or coding skills to work on this platform. You just need a few simple modifications and edits, and the drag-and-drop functionality will be able to help you design your ideal website.

The feature that makes Wix really distinct from other popular site builders is the fat that is has a very high level of personalization. All its templates are open, and all you need to do is provide simple branding, customization, and modifications. With all that, you will be able to build your app just as you’ve always imagined it to be. These websites are also flexible and scalable, and they can work in situations of heavy traffic and highly complex.

In addition to all that, Wix is also a fully-feared and mobile-optimized builder that provides all its services for free. In order to grasp the basic operations, all you need to do is create an account and if you’re looking to take advantage of its shopping cart and e-commerce functionalities, just switch to any of its premium plans.

Pricing

Wix makes a wide array of plans available to customers, all of which have varying amounts of features

  • There is the free plan
  • The Connect Domain Plan costs $4.50 a month
  • The Combo Plan costs $8.50 a month
  • The Unlimited Plan costs $12.50 a month
  • The eCommerce Plan costs $16.50 a month
  • The VIP Plan costs $24,50 a month

Pagewiz

Pagewiz was ideally designed or professional marketers, affiliates and business owners who will like to launch their websites from scratch. It helps you to build user-friendly webpages in a matter of minutes, and all pages are also accompanied by A//B testing capability in order to make for automation and conversion maximization.

Pricing

The plans for Pagewiz include:

  • The Basic Plan, which goes for $29 a month
  • The Standard Plan, which goes for $49 a month
  • The Plus Plan, which goes for $99 a month
  • The Pro Plan, which goes for $199 a month

1&1 MyWebsite

1&1 MyWebsite is a website building platform that was created to help serve the needs of freelancers and business that are looking to establish a presence on the online landscape, regardless of their size offer scale. It is an internet product that was developed by 1&1 Internet Ltd.; a long-time provider of web hosting services.

1&1 MyWebsite is an online solution that makes use of ready-made templates and drag-and-drop functionalities to provide users with the ability to make and design websites of their choices within a few clicks. N provides an intuitive and simple site creation experience that will also enhance creativity and ingenuity. All in all, 1&1 MyWebsite will give you the ability to create and launch a fully functional website in no time, complete with all the information and elements that you will need in order to match the website with your business or brand.

1&1 MyWebsite comes with all the features that you will require in order to build your website easily and quickly. A few of its most prominent features include a website editor, a wide array of ready-made templates, and multi-language support (for those who will like to build websites that will deserve purposes over more than one country).

In addition, it also makes marketing tools available, including but not limited to site analytics tools and SEO functionalities. All of these will help you to come up with unique and targeted content and they’ll help improve the ranking of your website. The online platform also includes Email and domain addresses for you as well as 24/7 support.

A few benefits of 1&1 MyWebsite include:

  • Speed and accuracy: Thanks to a wide array of templates, catalogues, and useful tools that have already been loaded on the platform, all you have to do is pick and design your website and in no tie, you’ll be ready to go.
  • Photo editor: An online photo editor gives you the ability to change the properties of photos that are on your site.
  • Multilingual capabilities: If you’ll like for people in far countries and continents to have access to your website as well, 1&1 MyWebsite provides multilingual support as well.
  • Optimized for mobile devices: As opposed to managing a website that can only be accessed with a computer, 1&1 MyWebsite provides websites that are responsive and work on mobile as well.

Pricing

The plans on 1&1 MyWebsite are pretty flexible, and you’ll definitely be able to get one that will work to fit into your business and budget requirements.

  • The Basic Plan costs $0.99 for the first month, then $9.99 per month from then on
  • The Personal Plan goes for $2.99 for the first 2 months, then $6.99 from then on
  • The Plus Plan goes for $9.99 a month for the first 3 months, then $19.99 from then on
  • The Bundled Plan offers the features of the Plus Plan as well as a fully functional ranking coach for search engine optimization and advertising. It goes for $19.99 for the first 12 months, then $29.99 from then on.

Unbounce

Unbounce was created with a simple purpose; helping to create landing pages that will enhance users marketing efforts. Page building experiences have been revolutionized lately, and Unbounce has been a major driving force behind that.

A few of Unbounce’s major features include:

  • The Unbounce Builder: A drag-and-drop builder that provides text replacement and convertables and is also mobile-accessible.
  • Unbounce Convertables: These convertables make it easy for you to target landing page visitors, set custom templates, and integrate with basically anything.
  • Templates: There are over 100 custom templates on Unbounce, and you can either chose one or start building one from scratch by yourself.
  • Conversion Tools: There are unlimited A/B testing tries, lead generation tools, conversion optimization tools, and many more on Unbounce.
  • Unbounce can also be easily integrated with google analytics and Email marketing tools like Hubspot, MailChimp, WordPress, Marketo, and much more.

Pricing

Unbounce provides three packages, and you can make payments on a monthly or annually basis.

  • The Essential Package allows you to create 75 landing pages and 8 convertables for $99 a month
  • The Premium Package charges $199 a month, and you can build 10 landing pages, 16 convertables, and you also get sub-accounts and better conversion rate tools.
  • The Enterprise Package starts at $499 a month and on it, you get all the features of both previous packages as well as a Success Manager and Launch Specialist that will help you to maximize your ROI. This package also provides the opportunity to build over 375 landing pages and at least 40 convertables.

Shopify

Shopify is an award-winning e-commerce retailer. It provides a wide array of features and tools that make it easy for individuals and businesses to build and operate online retail services as well as sell products. Shopify is packed with the right features, it provides tools that are specifically designed for servicing online retail, and its influence is represented by the fact that it is used by well over 120,000 stores all over the world.

The platform has been branded by experts and businesses as one of the best e-commerce solutions available online in this age. The Shopify Advanced version has especially gotten a lot of praise.

Shopify provides a myriad of benefits for people and businesses that will like to set up their online stores. Some of its benefits include:

  • A store that is easy to set up and is very beautiful and responsive. The platform has a long list of professional themes, and you can choose from any one of them in order to provide your store with a corporate look.
  • Shopify will also boost your store. Essentially, you won’t have to worry about any of the technical aspects of running and operating the store. Your servers are updated and secure with the latest software.
  • You also get customer support round the clock
  • Abandoned carts are automatically recovered
  • Easily and  quickly import catalogs (even the largest ones)
  • Shopify Advanced can provide you with been more nifty templates
  • You get a wide array of marketing features and reports that are easy to use
  • You run your payment gateway and control you’re the money coming in.

Features of Shopify

Shopify has many of the features that you’ll need to set up an online store.

  • Fully customizable online store, website — including blog
  • Unlimited bandwidth, product inventory, customer data
  • Sell on new sales channels like Pinterest and Amazon to increase your market potential
  • Accept credit cards instantly with Shopify Payments
  • Save time and moeny with discounted shipping rates
  • Great customer support — 24/7 access

Pricing

Just as it is with just about any other alternative to Instapage, Shopify has various pricing tiers. These are:

  • Shopify Lite, which goes for $9 a month
  • The Basic Shopify Plan, which goes for $29 a month
  • The Shopify Plan, which goes for $79 a month
  • The Advanced Shopify Plan, which goes for $299 a month

Try out Shopify free for 14 days — click here!

4 Tips to Achieve Your Goals Using The Resources You Already Have

If you’ve struggled for years to have sufficiency in the following aspects of life; time, enough money to start a business, maybe you complain about the government not doing enough, or lack of family support then you’ll need to understand one truth about life. You probably came here looking for tips to achieve your goals — we’ll get to that.

For now, I really want you to know this:

Nothing will ever be enough, nothing will ever be sufficient unless you do one thing right…

Place Value On What You Already Have

That’s the only way you can put to good use what you have.

If you think time will increase to 30 hours per day so that you can have enough time to work on something, or that your earnings will magically increase overnight so that you can fund an idea you have and launch in grand style.

Well, your dreams may never come true.

Maximize the results you desire by doing this one thing.

Learn to start using the little you have to maximize the results you desire.

As the world advances, our days get busier and we have less time or your finances may suffer but those things will never change in your favor simply because you simply wish it or pray for it.

You’ll have to keep pushing against the wind.

You’ll have to learn how to use the little you have to your advantage — Because if you think about it, every other person who is doing great and achieving so much doesn’t have extra hours added to their day, nor did many of them have sufficient funding. Their success was dependent on how they were able to use the resources they had at the time.

I used to think that if I earned more money then my time will be freed up and that I would be able to make time for other important things in my life such as family, health, and spiritual well-being.

I was wrong!

I worked hard and increased my income within a few years. I bought myself some cool gadgets, acquired luxuries and traveled to great places.

But it had a seriously negative impact on my health, relationships (both family and friends) and also drew me away from building my spiritual life.

And if you talk to individuals who are now minimalist, they’ll likely tell you the same thing – that happiness doesn’t come from doing more. It comes from accomplishing those small things that give us a chance to spend quality time with our loved ones and take good care of ourselves.

I have found that sometimes the more you want and accomplish, the more cluttered your life may gradually become. Before you realize how deep you’ve gone down a rabbit hole chasing more luxuries and “stuff”, you may find that you’ve broken a lot of relationships, damaged your health, and even your state of happiness.

This is not to discourage you to dream big or aim higher.

While you are aspiring for great things, it’s important to be mindful of how you go about it.

Nothing will ever be enough, but you can make the best of what you have in order to get the results you want.

In order to make that a reality for you, I’ll share a few practical tips that helped me utilize what I already had and propelled me towards my goals in no time and still maintain that life balance we all strive for.

1. Prioritize.

Nothing beats the fact that you take into consideration what matters most in your life and cut out what doesn’t.

Prioritizing what matters and what doesn’t in your life will help you determine the principal reason(s) why you are doing this and helps you stay aligned with it.

When you prioritize, it helps you set principles, this way you can stick to a game plan rather than sacrificing your happiness along the line.

2. Find your tribe.

We just can’t go it alone, try to mingle with people, find your tribe, get as much help as you can get so that you can ease the burden and cut down the amount of time you spend on what you are working on.

Before now, I’ll have a stretch of sleepless nights, because I thought I was the only one who could get it right. I saw myself as the only capable person, it had a serious effect on my health. I spent approximately 30 days in the hospital bed. (I almost died)

When I left the hospital and came back to check on how far I’d gone, I noticed I was still the same place I started off. Nothing was practically done. I learned my lesson, I had to get more hands. I realized there is great power in collective efforts.

3. Use what you already have. (Even if it’s not much.)

There’s always this feeling of displeasure in our little treasure. We feel what we have isn’t enough to begin the journey, or sometimes we don’t even realize that it’s more than enough to finish off.

Mostly in relation to money, we just want to make it BIG and start out big. But that’s not a very great way to accomplish anything ever. Put what you have in and ride out. Most things can be bootstrapped.

If you just get out and start doing something, you could be surprised at how much you can accomplish without a lot of money. You can start a blog for very little money. You can start an online store, or even start a consulting business. There are many ways to bootstrap and get going.

Do an inventory of the resources you actually have:

  • Your network
  • Your friends and family
  • Your online network
  • Free online resources and course
  • Books (You can learn a lot about business from books!)
  • Local business resources (many of free)
  • Online business resources

Here are two books to get you started:

 

4. Practice gratitude. (Always)

Gratitude is the best way to keep our hopes alive, it helps us to be grateful for where we are, what we have and don’t have (yet) while we hope to accomplish them as we work towards our ultimate goal(s).

Gratitude will let you appreciate the people in your life who contribute to your growth (whether they spill negative or positive energy). Being grateful shows that you have a deep insight that no one else understands. It just brings out the brighter side of you and energizes your soul.

I’ve had more accomplishments since I started doing these things, it has helped me live a better life that is meaningful to me and those I care about. it has helped me understand what it means to truly place value on what we have, who we are and stay focused until success is finally achieved.

Some Final Thoughts

By doing an inventory of the resources you actually have, you will find that you are far ahead of the game. Look around at your life. Who can help you? Surround yourself with those that propel your ideas and help you achieve greatness.

There is a lot of advice out there to help you grow a business, even start a business, but here is my advice to you:

Start.

Be thankful for where you are today.

Keep going!

Write down your goals every day. Be clear and specific. Start where you are and keep going.

 

 

How to Create a Powerful Pitch in One Sentence

This article was originally posted at https://lunarmobiscuit.com

The more I work with entrepreneurs, the more I realize how the skills required to succeed as an entrepreneur are not taught in schools. One of those skills is brevity.

Specifically, we are are not taught how to edit our thoughts down in size. We are rewarded in school for writing multi-page essays and papers, providing as many details as we can fit into the assigned length.

Out in the real world, where time is precious, whoever you expect to read what you write instead wants you to use as few words as possible, conveying your ideas in as little space consuming as little time as necessary.

To demonstrate, all of the above can be summarized as: be clear and concise.

The misquote from Pascal too often comes to mind as I repeat my lesson on saying more with fewer words.

“If I had more time, I’d have written a shorter letter.”

(The actual quote translates to, “I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter,” which ironically says the same message in more words.)

The obvious question is then how to accomplish this untaught goal. The answer is rather simple, but as Pascal warns, will take you some time.

  1. Begin by summarizing your thought into a single paragraph. Keep that paragraph to just 3 or 4 sentences at most. Keep only the key details most important to convey your thoughts, and leave the other details for later conversations.
  2. Reread what you have written, removing anything that seems redundant or superfluous. Rewrite any sentence if you have a better, more concise way to say the same ideas.
  3. Repeat #2 until you are happy with the result.
  4. For many people, 1-3 is difficult, but #4 is harder still, as now your challenge is to summarize that paragraph into a single sentence.
  5. Reread that sentence, and word-by-word eliminate any that are unnecessary, paring that sentence down to the minimum needed to convey your idea.

For a company pitch, follow steps 1-5 to explain what problem you are solving in a single sentence, then repeat steps 1-5 to explain your solution in a separate sentence. That then creates a two-sentence pitch, which you should be able to speak aloud in 20-30 seconds.

At that point I usually then challenge the entrepreneurs I’m training to step 6, editing that pitch down to a single sentence.

The result of all this effort is a pitch that not only conveys all the important information but most importantly creates a pitch that starts conversations.

Too often entrepreneurs forget (or have never understood) that the whole point of a pitch isn’t to answer every question, it is to begin a conversation where the audience can get the details important to them and the answers to their questions.

The same is true for sales, where the point is to get a potential customers’ specific questions answered, to get as quickly as possible to a close.

Less truly is more in these cases. Try it for yourself and you’ll see how much more powerful your communications become the shorter they get.

Related: This is How to Raise Seed Funding – Advice from Investors at SOCAP

 

10 Minute Funnels vs Clickfunnels: The Battle of the Funnel Marketing Tools 2021!

As you know 10-minute Funnels vs Clickfunnels are funnel building applications and before we jump into comparison lets quickly go through what Funnel builders are actually for…

What are Funnel Builders anyway?

You need a funnel builder if you are looking at “upping your game” on lead generation/Conversion or sales. Funnel builders help you to quickly devise funnels for varied needs… think of opt-in (build mailing list), webinar, membership site, e-commerce (create upsells/down-sells) or even create sales or membership pages.

Funnels are mostly used with paid traffic to test and optimize conversions quickly. They not just let you create awesome funnels but also let you track stats and do split testing. Funnel builders may well be used along with websites or independently…  Some people find the ease of creating web pages so appealing on these funnel creation applications they prefer to develop their whole website on them.

The option of inclusive web hosting and absolutely no hassles to maintain server is particularly appealing. Add to that powerful option of webpage editing it becomes a no-brainer solution.

If you are someone trying to finalize on funnel building software I am sure you would want to know how 10 Minute Funnels compares with Click funnels.

But before we go there how about taking a flashback?

Flashback: A Time Before Online Funnels?!?

There was a time when the term “Funnel” was not so well understood as it is today. The only landing page builder was Optimisepress or you could do it manually. If you didn’t know Optimisepress is a plugin for WordPress websites and is operated from the website backend(Admin Interface). The issue with this method is that you need a domain and a hosting plan first…Then only you can move to building funnels or landing pages. A lot of people are actually using Optimizepress effectively to this day.

Then Leadpages came to the fore. Unlike Optimise press Leadpages is a hosted solution… Where you wouldn’t need domain or hosting of your own to begin using landing pages. The concept of a website editor outside your own website was largely unknown and a welcome feature. Now you could have your website or landing pages online without worrying much about load speed or management of the hosting server.

When Leadpages came in they provided you with a fantastic interface to build leadpages and its functionality was driven to make this a great user experience. However, we have to note that this is the time when understanding what “converts” and the significance of building funnels was still in infancy.

As the time went by the concept of “Sales funnels” began to show up and people realized that they had to build an awesome customer experience through a series of sales pages/order forms/Upsells/Downsells to take the real advantage of unending internet traffic.

This emerging opportunity was cashed in by applications like Clickfunnels or 10-minute funnels… These applications took the aspect of lead generation, conversion/sales to a whole new level. More and more people started to bank upon the accepted wisdom of “what worked” and were eager to experiment.

Fast Forward Today! The World of Online Funnels Awaits!

Now businesses started focussing on the “Funnels that convert” instead of landing pages as an entity. This helped everyone to have a bigger picture and see the entire process of lead gen and conversion as a flow.

This called in for new challenges and expectations rose on what people need to see in there interface and dashboards…Along with what they would be willing to pay!

And that brings us to the comparison of two major players in the Funnel building space:

Clickfunnels vs 10-Minute Funnels: The Comparison

Let’s look at what comes out when these are pitched against each other as a solution to funnel building.

At a high level, a funnel builder like Clickfunnels and 10-minute funnels let you accomplish the same task of building great opt-ins/sales funnels. The difference mainly lies in the interface and what you get with the package.

Both applications essentially provide you the functions of Funnel building with easy options to create and modify funnels and pages, funnel templates, integrate applications like autoresponders and payment systems at the click of a button. You don’t have to touch any codes to accomplish a advanced customization. This helps you to engineer the customer experience at the most granular level.

Pricing — How Do These Compare?

Clickfunnels and 10-minute funnels are competing at the same price point for their primary offer.

You get started at $97: Both are priced at $97 for their basic offer but the packages are different…

Clickfunnels and 10-minute funnels both give you a package that put limits… 20 funnels, 100 pages, and 20,000 visitors.

These limits can be removed if you upgrade your plans which is $297 for Clickfunnels and $197 for 10-minute funnels. However, the upgrade with Clickfunnels gets you the added benefit of using an inbuilt affiliate program or interface through which you may add and track your own affiliates. And also an Autoresponder solution with advanced functionality.

Thus Clickfunnels is a solution to go for if you want to ramp up quickly to a well-rounded business that also utilizes the aspect of affiliate marketing and an inbuilt autoresponder solution.

You also have different trial offers. While you can try a free trial with Clickfunnels for the first 14 days you got to pay $1 to try 10-minute funnels for the same period.

Look and Feel: The Interface Comparison

Clickfunnels has a feel of layered functionality where you can click and learn more about something… While 10-minute funnel provides you with “drag and drop” functionality and almost mimics a process builder. This brings in intuitive process flow orientation and lets you see all your funnel steps as a self-explanatory map. This is a great way to convert your ideas into quick workable funnels.

Clickfunnels does have full funnel visibility but not in process map mode.

Ease of Use

10-minute Funnels was built further on the functionalities Clickfunnels provided. It has redefined the way funnels are created and modified. Imagine just connecting the lines to make or modify a funnel flow. The best part is you can just pick up one of the pre-built marketing funnel campaigns and just modify any of the pages instantly… This is very helpful to creatively formulate the experience you want to provide your audience. It is quick and extremely effective. 

The editor windows of both the applications are significantly different too. While Clickfunnels opens new side windows to edit a page.(Click to go deeper) The 10-minute funnels very interactively highlight all the items that you may edit on a left panel. We can say without any hesitation that 10-minute Funnels provides a much more intuitive way to create and edit funnels.

10 Minute Funnels vs Clickfunnels: Which is Best?

Using a funnel builder software like Clickfunnels or 10-minute funnels you create funnels like a pro. Both are great applications and will significantly reduce the guesswork. Now you can create funnels that really convert… The effort is to make sure you succeed and both the applications.

In the end, what to use… Clickfunnels or 10 minutes funnel is your personal call and you should choose what suits you best… However, there are a couple of aspects that are needed to be highlighted.

  • Clickfunnels is much widely accepted funnel builder and largely dominates the funnel building market. It is seen not just as funnel builder but also a Business Suite that takes care of online business aspects of affiliates and autoresponder (upgrade priced at $297).
  • Clickfunnels is a bit older in the market than 10-minute funnels and has a lot of people who will actually swear by it. While there is no dearth of success stories with either application.
  • Clickfunnels has much longer standing and a much wider customer base. If you are looking at an accepted industry norm Clickfunnels wins the race by a mile.

  • 10 minutes funnel is relatively new and incorporates “intuitive process flow” styled graphical interface that lets drag and drop functionalities. This is a modern approach to building funnels and is much appreciated by progressive businesses who want to use the latest… 10-minute funnels definitely scores on the usability angel and lets you embrace the best practices of funnel building in a very subtle manner.
  • 10 minutes funnel may safely be your best bet if you are trying to focus on “sales funnel space” and clear that you don’t really need a native affiliate or autoresponder solution. (You always have the option to go with third-party options anyways…)
  • You can use the 10 minutes funnel solution without any restrictions for $197 monthly. This means you can build as many funnels or web pages you want. (Without the need of web hosting or maintenance of servers at your end)

Clickfunnels vs Website: Do I Need Both to Build Leads?

Businesses need to promote themselves, be in front of their eyes (target market) at the right place and right time. Being online for acquiring customers today is nobodies guess. If you have been in this for some time, you must have asked yourself this obvious question. Clickfunnels vs website: do I need both?

Which is better, a Website or Clickfunnels? Do I even need a website anymore?

Websites are seen by many as a natural choice when getting online. Websites help businesses have a dedicated address to be found online and interact with the customers. Just like a physical address… the website is your online address (www.yourbusiness.com).

You dress up your website with pleasant “get up” in terms of look and feel, introduce your business, its products, and services and even give pointers for people to buy and try out your offerings.

Websites by definition are generally 6-10 related pages, contain clear navigation links and the intent is to tell you as much as possible about the business including products and services. Websites may be designed on coding elements on HTML/Java/JavaScript/PHP etc. or by using a CMS (Content Management System) like WordPress.

So how does this differ from pages created with Clickfunnels?

Clickfunnels at the core does contain a “web editor” with which you can create or edit pages within Clickfunnels on the fly. This makes creating web pages so simple that many people actually go and develop a complete website on Clickfunnels. But then that’s not what Clickfunnels is actually intended for…

Clickfunnels is a funnel creation application. Funnels are generally characterized as a lead generation and conversion tool. Helping you create landing pages (also called squeeze page) which capture leads and sell your products or services online.

As you might have figured Websites and Clickfunnels do have a range of similarities and dissimilarities. In this article, we will attempt an in-depth comparison so as to fully understand how these compare as a utility for customer acquisition.

Now even before we do this comparison lets understand something that shall put our entire discussion into a perspective. Check out the free 14-day trial offered by Clickfunnels too!

Let’s talk about Traffic… We can categorize traffic into two main types:

Inbound and Outbound Traffic

Inbound traffic is generated when people visit your website while actively searching for pertinent information mostly on a search engine like Google. They search a term on Search Engine and land on your website by clicking a result that appeared mostly in the first 10 pages. This happens as your webpage was optimized /relevant to that keyword in the eyes of Search Engine.

This is the organic mode of traffic generation and involves SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) or SEM (Search Engine Marketing). Websites are ideal for ranking on search engines as they support many of the requirements that enable search engines to understand relevance, quality, and usefulness of the content created.

Outbound traffic, on the other hand, is traffic that is generated mostly through paid advertising and may involve PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising on advertising networks like Google Adwords, Facebook ads, Twitter or Linkedin.

Paid traffic is greatly different from organic traffic as the visitors are directed to your website from an ad that is put in front of a prospect via targeting methods available on Advertising networks. In this scenario, the focus is on acquiring leads or possible sales that over a period help you recoup the advertising cost.

Simply put you will use a Website or Clickfunnels based on the traffic you want to leverage…

A website, in the long run, should allow you to create content that helps you rank on the search engines and generate organic traffic. Clickfunnels on the other side is a tool that will help you convert paid traffic and focus on ROI.

That being said you may use one in the place of other if you want to… But then you should ideally use an application for the purpose it is designed for. Let’s look at specific characteristics of these two options compare and how best you can use them.

Clickfunnels vs website: The comparison

1. Domain

Your website would essentially have a unique domain that you booked for your website example www.yourbusiness.com.

This will not be that case with Cickfunnels…here you will share the same domain and your landing pages will resolve on a subdomain like www.yourbusiness.clickfunnels.com.

It’s also worth mentioning that you can make the Clickfunnel pages appear in your website domain like www.yourbusiness.com/myclickfunnelpage but then you will have limited options to optimize that page for SEO.

The advantage of having unique domain name is that you can brand your domain. Develop focused content aligned with your SEO strategy. This shall help you engage with your website visitors, generate inquiries and even sell your products or services online.

Now if you are looking at capitalizing paid traffic and getting too aggressive with your online promotions. (It also depends on what type of products or services you are promoting) being on Clickfunnels subdomain is a real advantage as your actual domain is protected. This makes Clickfunnels a great choice for testing new landing page design concepts, products or services.

2. Landing Pages

While you can always get conversions from a website. It’s been proven landing pages help you convert better.

Clickfunnels gives you a design option that is focussed to convert visitors. Doing the same thing on the website shall take a lot of time and may even have big technical constraints.

Websites are not effective at getting conversions as they are generally designed to keep the visitor glued (allow them to move from one webpage to another find more and more interesting stuff to lower bounce rates)

Clickfunnel Landing pages, on the other hand, are CTA (Call to action) oriented and have one single focus on capturing leads or converting them.

A landing page or any funnel pages unlike website page carry minimal distractions and are designed to “squeeze” the visitor into sharing more information or completing the sales process.

3. Online Marketing Funnels

While it may be difficult to design funnels on a website… Clickfunnels is created for the very purpose. You can create advanced sales funnels literally on a click of a button.

The biggest advantage is with Clickfunnels you don’t have tie every end of your conversion funnel… it’s done automatically.

Talk of Autoresponders, Payment Systems, Upsells or Down sells all is inbuilt within Clickfunnels and all you got to do is configure them once.

Clickfunnels gives you multiple templates and funnels that you can utilize at the click of a button. Not just that it packs almost all the features you might need to setup, test and optimize sales funnels. You can also try Clickfunnels free for 14 days!

4. A/B Split Testing and Full Funnel Conversion View

AB split testing involves creating two versions of the same page and running traffic to see which converts better.

Clickfunnels makes this extremely easy along with providing analytics to decide the winner. Doing split testing on websites is possible but extremely cumbersome.

Clickfunnels also lets you have full funnel conversion view at one place. This allows a lot of clarity on sequence and ability to select/edit and develop a consistent experience for the visitor all through the funnel.

5. Change of Funnel Order on the Fly

Clickfunnels lets you change the funnel order on the fly. This is almost magical as you can change different funnel steps with a few clicks. Add or remove types of pages within the funnel sequence. This is a very advanced feature. Imagine a graphical user interface to do all the work for you at the code level!

Changing funnel order on a website is extremely cumbersome (even if you created a funnel) as it would involve code changes on every page and would be a nightmare for troubleshooting.

6. Easy Page or Funnel Replication/Sharing of Funnels

Again on Clickfunnels, you can replicate a funnel or page with a click of a button…and not just that you can share the whole funnel with another user.

This is unimaginable on a website.

One thing to appreciate is both the options (Website and Clickfunnels) ultimately help you to build “webpages”. CMS Application like WordPress greatly reduces the code level intervention needed to build websites. You may use plugins that greatly enhance website features. But an application like Clickfunnels takes this to entirely new level.

Now that you know how the Website and Clickfunnels compare…The other question that a lot of people ask is…

Do I need both?

And the short answer is Yes!

A website, when used with Clickfunnels, can get you best of both the worlds. It can help you leverage testing done on paid traffic and get the same benefits from organic traffic. A lot of successful businesses do that…

But at the end, you need to make the call based on your current needs. Ask yourself what type of traffic you are looking at generating.

You can start with Website first if you want to drive organic traffic and capitalize on free traffic from search engines.

Start with Clickfunnels if you want to test product/services in your target market and start earning revenue right away. Drive paid traffic and then expand based on what you find viable in your testing.

Goodluck! Now go ahead and make the right choice.

Ontraport vs Aweber: Email Marketing Showdown [2021 Comparison]

For the longest time, if you were getting started in email marketing the go-to software was Aweber. All the gurus were recommending it. I’ve been using Aweber for years. Meanwhile, some interesting competitors have arisen. Although loyalty is a virtue, my first loyalty is to my business. I decided to test Aweber against an exciting new entrant to see how they compared. In direct marketing, we split test by trying to beat a “control”. I decided to use Aweber as the control and try to beat it with Ontraport.

Introducing Aweber

Let’s start with the control. How did Aweber become the most recognized brand in email marketing? It was due to its high deliverability and excellent customer support. This was at a time when many first-timers were getting involved in online marketing. When starting out, I wanted to avoid confusion and undelivered emails. I have always found Aweber to be one of the easiest autoresponder solutions on the market. It gave me control over the relevant stages of setting up an email marketing campaign. Aweber minimizes unnecessary options and presents an intuitive user interface.

Despite this, Aweber has seen declining popularity in recent years. Online marketing is becoming more sophisticated. Professionals need to keep up with savvy consumers. We need more advanced tools to keep campaigns profitable. In response to this demand, many new companies have entered the field. Email marketing evolved into marketing automation for many professionals.

Introducing Ontraport

Ontraport is an advanced automated marketing system that is way beyond email marketing capabilities. According to Ontraport, only 19% of online marketers are actually tracking their marketing efforts, which means that many of us don’t even know if what we are doing is really working, or better yet, how to fix our efforts when it’s not.

Ontraport is one of the more expensive tools to start using, but if you plan on growing your email list (and your company), it becomes a highly valuable tool that saves you money. It also replaces many of the tools that are out there, so in the long run, if you just invested in Ontraport, you will probably end up saving money over time.

For people that are just starting, or only want to build small lists, Aweber is probably the less expensive option, but Ontraport is key for those wanting to grow.

Another area that Ontraport is known for is data — data is the lifeblood of your marketing efforts. Like I said earlier, many of us don’t properly track or use or data. This can leave many prospects and sales on the table if you don’t track it. It’s all about understanding where your opportunities lie, as Ontraport explains — “Compare the performance of all of your customer and lead segments so you can find the low-hanging fruit and optimize your campaigns without guesswork to start growing your business faster.”

Key Cons of Ontraport and Aweber

Ontraport Cons

Despite my excitement over these new features, the cost of Ontraport was worrying. It starts off expensive and the jumps are massive. Aweber starts at a comfortable $19 per month with a 30-day free trial.

Ontraport doesn’t offer any sort of trial and starts at $79 per month, over four times as much as Aweber. That’s not all, the gaps between the plans are huge. There is a $218 monthly gap between the Basic and Pro plan. Aweber ascends more gradually, the biggest gap between any two Aweber plans is only $20. That is 10 times less than the gaps between Ontraport plans.

Of course, you can always test out Ontraport risk-free for 90-days, which should give you long enough to see if this tool is for you. In 90-days, you can test out many of the advanced features, run a campaign or two and get some real data to help make your decision. However, after the 90-days if you didn’t want to keep paying for Ontraport, you’d have to port the list you built up to your next platform of choice and that may, or may not be a seamless transition.

To be honest, the dramatic price difference intrigued me. What could they have that justified such high prices? A lot, it turns out. Apart from the sign-up forms and landing pages that I expected. Ontraport also allowed me to engage in multichannel marketing within the same platform. I’m not limited to email, but also have access to SMS and postcard marketing.

Check out Ontraport — risk-free for 90 days here!

Aweber Cons

As the years have passed Aweber’s technology has fallen behind. This was most obvious when I tested Ontraport’s campaign builder. It then became clear how advanced marketing automation had become in the meantime. I began to appreciate what that extra $60 per month would be doing for my business.

Ontraport uses a cool system of modular building blocks to create everything in the software. It doesn’t matter if it’s an email message, sign-up form, or landing page. By putting together these intuitive little blocks, I could create a comprehensive campaign. I appreciated the flexibility afforded by Ontraport’s modular design. Their campaign builder is a pleasure to build with. And the final result was also far more attractive compared to what I could build using Aweber.

Costs of Aweber vs Ontraport

AweberCostsOntraportCosts
1,000 contacts$291,000 contacts$79
25,000 contacts$14925,000 contacts$297
100,000 contacts$299100,000 contacts$597

Selected Integrations

AweberOntraport
Cyfe1Shopping Cart
DasherooAuthorize.net
DrupalClickBank
FacebookElavon
GeckoboardeWay
HeyoNMI
Launch EffectPayLeap
LeadPagesPayPal
PayPalQuickBooks
RafflecopterSamCart
RainmakerStripe
RavenUSA ePay
ShortStackUltraCart
ViralSweepWooCommerce
WordPressWorldPay

Standout Features: The Pros of Aweber and Ontraport

Aweber

Although, I found the support staff at Ontraport to be excellent, for the most part. Aweber’s support is superior. At Ontraport, the quality of the telephone support was perfect. The people I spoke with were super knowledgeable and helpful. The email and live chat operatives were a little more disappointing. Particularly when it came to in-depth product knowledge.

When I compare this to my experiences emailing Aweber for support, they fell short. It’s possible that this is not a fair comparison because Ontraport is a far more complex product. It may be more difficult to train enough knowledgeable representatives. It can’t be easy keeping up with all the nuances of a complex, evolving software platform.

Ontraport

While using Ontraport, I found myself spending most of my time in the campaign builder. That is where all the fun is for a stat junkie like myself. I’m impressed by the campaign builder’s clear visual representation of my marketing system. This gives me a clear visualization of my subscriber stats at various stages of my process. This information provided context to select from a range of template campaigns. These templates sped up my learning as I was getting used to the Ontraport platform. Ontraport can be overwhelming at times but they have made an effort to enhance usability. The ready-made campaigns include a very handy checklist. This gave me more confidence that nothing was amiss before activating a campaign.

Ontraport seems committed to improving the user experience. Yet, there remains a steep learning curve for beginners. Certain pages offered zero contextual help. I found these occasional roadblocks frustrating. And speaking of frustration, certain pages are slow to load and refresh. I noticed a few other bugs that disappointed me as I continued to build campaigns.

Check out Ontraport — risk-free for 90 days here!

Aside from the lag on certain pages, I also experienced some bugginess in the landing page editor. I had problems uploading images sometimes. If I wasn’t careful I would hover over the sample photos by accident. And by the time my cursor made it to the submit button, I would find myself inserting the wrong image into a block. It may seem like a minor point to you. But this meant putting more care into a procedure that on Aweber I had embedded into muscle memory. All those extra seconds add up over the course of the year so this was a little bit annoying to me.

Comparison: Who Wins?

Moving from Aweber to Ontraport was an eye-opening experience. There is much to love about Ontraport. The features that stood out to me include the flexibility of campaign triggers. Ontraport allowed me to run many marketing flows in parallel. It’s hard to overstate the depth of personalization this affords. But such powerful features come with overwhelming complexity. This is somewhat mitigated by two free on-boarding calls. I received these after signing up and they were a huge help. Beyond that, there is an excellent Facebook group full of very helpful and patient people.

All these positives almost made me forget the price. Almost. It is still a very expensive solution. If you are starting out and deciding between Aweber and Ontraport, I would tell you to start with Aweber. Automating bad strategy is destructive.

Are you are an experienced marketer with positive cash flow? In that case, things are different. Ontraport is the superior platform for maximizing the return on your marketing budget. This is especially true if you are using Facebook to drive traffic. Check out Ontraport — risk-free for 90 days here!

If I had to choose the top one overall for most companies:

I would definitely choose Ontraport. If you want to scale your efforts and your profits at any time, Ontraport is the best choice by far. The advanced marketing opportunities, analytics and more is simply bar none other marketing automation tools.

Sendy vs. Aweber: Which Email Marketing Tool Wins?

When it comes to email marketing campaigns, the tools that you use are of utmost importance. Now, if only it could be easy to know exactly what email marketing tool or software would work best for you business, right?! That’s why I did the hard work for you and am bringing you my findings here! I compare and contrast Aweber vs. Sendy here, which email marketing tool comes out on top? Keep reading to find out!

Introduction to Aweber

One of the main reasons I use Aweber is that it’s so cost-effective. At least this was the main benefit in the beginning when my list consisted of a couple dozen people. Over the years I have built a database of over 23,000 subscribers. This has taken me from paying $228 per year to paying Aweber $1,788 last year. That is a hefty bill and so I started looking around to find a more cost-effective option. I have standards, I did not want to save money by giving up essential features.

Introduction to Sendy

On paper, a software called Sendy appeared to fit the bill and so I decided to test it out and see how much money I could save. A piece of software called Sendy caught my attention as a viable option so I decided to test it out. Think of Sendy as a self-hosted Aweber. And because it is self-hosted, I would be liberated from fixed monthly fees. The software only cost  $59 which, to be honest, made me suspicious. I was certain I would be making major functionality trade-offs.

Who is this for?

Aweber: For Newbies

I am aware that many marketers have jumped the Aweber ship due to a lack of revolutionary updates. I continued to use the service because it provided a positive return on investment. Also, I did not have the time to test every new autoresponder that came onto the market.

Aweber has always been five-star on the only two things that a high-volume mailer like me cares about. High deliverability and excellent customer support. It was not broken and I had no interest in fixing it. Having said that, if there is money to save, I will work to rescue it. But if you are new to online marketing, then Aweber should still be your preferred option.

Sendy: For People with Large Lists

Before I talk more about Sendy, I have to mention the coolest thing about SES. Because I chose to install Sendy for free on Amazon EC2, I got 62,000 monthly email sends free for the first year. Any emails above this free limit cost $0.10 per 1,000 emails. In a normal month, I was emailing my list of around 23,000 people once a week. This works out to about 92,000 emails sent each month. 62,000 emails were getting sent for free. I only paid for about 30,000 messages each month. This cost me $3 per month or $36 for the whole year.

That is correct, I reduced my email sending bill from $1,788 last year to a projected $95 for my first year using Sendy. Even paying full price, 92,000 emails per month would only cost me $110.40 per year in mailing costs. And full price EC2 hosting costs $30.66 for the year. So at full price, Sendy is saving me $1,693 in year one and $1,646.94 in later years.

Cons

Problems with Aweber

Although I embarked on this test to save money, there are a few things that had started to bother me about Aweber. The first is actually connected to money as well. If someone subscribes to more than one of my lists, Aweber would count that person as many people. Even worse, when someone unsubscribes they remain on my list and count towards my quota. Each month I would spend more time pruning duplicates and unsubscribes from my lists. I always hated that part of my work.

The other thing that began to bug me was the increasingly ugly templates. It’s not that the Aweber templates became more ugly. It’s that they stayed the same while everything else online became more attractive. Of course, I had long ago stopped using these templates but in principle, I was still paying for access to them. Paying for those ugly templates was bothering me.

Problems with Sendy

As it turned out, I wouldn’t be free from all monthly payments, but I’d get close. I had to pair Sendy with an Amazon SES account. SES stands for ‘simple email service’ and the name is quite appropriate. It was easy to set up even for a non-technical person such as myself. After logging into my AWS management console, I found SES and verified my main sending email. That was it, the SES account was ready to send emails.

Costs

AweberCostsSendy (Amazon SES)Costs
4 emails to 500 contacts$194 emails to 500 contacts$0.21
4 emails to 2,500 contacts$294 emails to 2,500 contacts$1
4 emails to 5,000 contacts$494 emails to 5,000 contacts$2
4 emails to 10,000 contacts$694 emails to 10,000 contacts$4
4 emails to 25,000 contacts$1494 emails to 25,000 contacts$10

Selected Integrations

My first concern is that Sendy plays nice with my other software. I am most concerned about WordPress integration and Magento integration. I discovered that Sendy integrates on a deep level with WordPress. They have a great WordPress plugin. This allows me to create decent looking subscribe forms that match my site’s theme. The plugin also validates emails on the WordPress side. This prevents incorrect subscriber information going to Sendy. It also includes a captcha feature to prevent my database filling up with spam addresses.

Besides the official WordPress plugin, Sendy also integrates with about 20 other plugins. This provides a lot of flexibility in connecting subscriber information. Here’s how it stacks up against Aweber:

AweberSendy
CyfeDrupal
DasherooGetSiteControl
DrupalJoomla
FacebookLemonFresh
GeckoboardMagento
HeyoNinja Forms
Launch EffectPrestashop
LeadPagesSumoMe
PayPalWHMCS
RafflecopterWoocommerce
RainmakerWordPress
RavenWufoo
ShortStackZapier
ViralSweepxenForo

How well does Sendy replicate Aweber?

Reporting

I log into my Sendy admin panel and I’m impressed at the level of information available to me. On the left, I could check my SES quota and keep track of the minimal/nonexistent costs my email campaigns.

The reporting is comparable to Aweber’s quality. I can see the results of each email campaign with a decent looking graphical interface. The report has all the basic metrics I would expect from email marketing software:

  • Open Rates
  • Link Clicks
  • Bounces
  • Not Opened
  • Unsubscribes

There was no metric I wanted that I could not find in Sendy’s reports.

Migrating contacts

Migrating was very easy. After exporting my list from Aweber, I was able to upload my list to Sendy. For future subscribers, I downloaded the Sendy plugin for WordPress. Here I was again pleasantly surprised because the forms I could create were clean and modern. More so than those available on Aweber.

E-commerce

I also need integration for e-commerce and Sendy integrates very well with a lot of e-commerce software. The main integrations include Magento, WooCommerce, and PrestaShop. There is no direct support for Shopify or BigCommerce. But, since my goal is to cut my fixed monthly costs, this didn’t matter much to me. If these other services are important to you then Sendy works well with Zapier. This skeleton key integration calms all my concerns about current and future integrations. Zapier is very reliable.

List management

With Aweber, I always hated having to manually prune duplicate subscribers and unsubscribes. With Sendy, the software handles unsubscribes in real time. And since there are no list limits, duplicates do not matter. This was a pleasant surprise because it is rare that a tool saves me both money and time.


Email List Growth Blueprint

All the above is fine as far as it goes. But for Sendy to be a replacement for my Aweber account, I needed the three bases of email marketing covered:

  1. List management,
  2. Segmentation,
  3. Autoresponder function.

Sendy replicates the autoresponder functionality of Aweber. This allows me to continue sending automated drip campaigns to my subscribers. I also have the option to schedule one-off emails when I have a special or seasonal campaign to send out. I also don’t miss any functionality when it comes to list management:

  • Thank you emails
  • Mass imports
  • Custom confirmation pages
  • Custom fields
  • Choice of single or double opt-in
  • Mass deleting of subscribers
  • Goodbye emails

Sendy ticks the final box by allowing me to send emails to specific segments of my list. This is a must-have feature because segmentation has a positive effect on engagement. Sendy allows me to segment based on a wide range of conditions. As with Aweber, I am able to decide to either include or exclude a segment from any given campaign.

Sendy vs. Aweber: Who Wins?

When comparing Sendy vs. Aweber there are two things to consider. Your comfort with Amazon cloud services and the size of your list. If you are an absolute email marketing beginner, I recommend that you start with Aweber. This allows you to learn the basics in a stable, high support environment with fewer variables. But as your subscriber list grows, your cost per campaign will balloon. This is especially true if you are a responsible mailer and only deliver at most one or two emails per week. If you are a more experienced mailer, with a list of 2,500 or more, then you can save significant money by making the switch from Aweber to Sendy.

Check out the latest offers on Aweber now! 

Check out the latest offers on Sendy now!

How to Work Remotely In Mexico For Creative Inspiration

Gray walls.

Beige floors.

Boring work environments make people miserable.

After twenty years of working in corporate cubicles and client offices without windows, it’s so refreshing to finally be free… free to choose to work in the places that are most conducive to creative ideas and better quality of life.

2018 is the year for finding freedom from the daily road rage commutes, stuffy suits, and bad pod coffee.

Most people think that only recent grads, backpackers, or bloggers could live this alternative work lifestyle.

But what I’ve learned after working in and traveling through 85 countries is that as corporate citizens, management consultants, sales executives, and generally, anyone can work “remotely” by a rooftop pool in Mexico, at an ecolodge by a volcanic lake, or on a tropical white sand beach in the Caribbean. All within hours from home and for about $250 round trip.

It’s great to people watch while working from a rooftop bar overlooking Zócalo, the famous square in Old Town.

You can almost see James Bond jumping from rooftop to rooftop from here.

As part of a series of “Travel for Change of Perspective,” we feature Mexico City as an easy option for anyone wanting change, creativity, and inspiration.

Mexico City

Yes, You Can Afford to Work Remotely!

With recent emergence of discount regional airlines like Volaris, Aerobus, or Interjet, anyone can fly to and work from Mexico City for less than a month’s rent of single person office at an NYC coworking space and a subway pass.

mexico city

Even a week there will change the way you think!

  • Flights less than $80 each way.
  • AirBnbs offering great WiFi and rooftop pools for less than $50/day.
  • Great specialty coffee shops and taquerias making coffee breaks and lunches much more affordable than $6 Starbucks.
  • $12 lunches in the US.
  • Subway rides are less than $1 there.
  • Ride-sharing is ridiculously cheap (eg, about $3 for 30 minute ride across the city).

WishPoints team is working from the Airbnb apartment rooftop with pool and lounge chairs in sunny Polanco while it’s below freezing back in NYC Headquarters.

If Google conference rooms offer ball pits for better brainstorming, why not have your next creative session in a sunny rooftop pool with your team?

Your Work Can Be More Creative & Productive There!

The creative design, food, consumer, and tech industries in Mexico City are thriving. The talent you meet in the city are worldly, socially conscious, experts in their fields, and ambitious change-makers.

If you want to collaborate with graphic designers, digital marketers, or find smart & affordable programmers, there are plenty of startups and freelancers are available in Expat’s Polanco, Refined Reforma, and of course, Bustling Roma Norte and Hipster’s Condesa.

WiFi is readily available for working while having lunch in organic food markets, sipping the World’s Best Cocktails for happy hour, or under the dangling umbrellas in Chinatown.

Meeting clients and organizing team-building events are better here when it’s a buzzing ambiance than a dull corporate boardroom.

No better way to conduct market research with both consumers and B2B customers/partners than being able to get live feedback from bilingual target audience in Latin America.

Assumptions on a whiteboard are not always accurate when you’re trying to enter a new market.

We were able to test our UX assumptions in the app with the Spanish-speaking users and get more downloads by simply walking down the street to meet our target consumers.

Yes, Companies Want to Help You See the World!

Because we believe that the best way to break down cultural barriers and understand other people is to travel, WishPoint’s mission is to help users discover unique experiences around the world and enable travel companies to help you get there.

We are partnering with airlines, hotels, ecolodges, villas, and hostels around the world to make it easier, cheaper, and more accessible for you to work remotely from beaches, lakes, and cultural cities around the world.

Colorful umbrellas decorate the pedestrian lane with tables and chairs for working in Chinatown, Mexico City.

Related: How to Find a Travel Experience and Give Back (Wouldn’t That Be Great?)

 

 

Drip vs. ActiveCampaign: Which Marketing Automation Tool Works Best?

I recently decided to upgrade from an old-school autoresponder to a modern solution. After some research, I selected Drip vs. ActiveCampaign for a head-to-head comparison. Let’s see how these two compare, shall we?

Introduction to Drip

Drip is the newer of the two. It caught my attention when Leadpages acquired the company. Drip is a quirky but powerful marketing platform that focuses on speed and ease of use. This is also what I focus on when selecting software tools.

Introduction to Activecampaign

A comparative dinosaur in tech years, ActiveCampaign launched in 2003. A full 10 years before Drip. They used their head start to develop a sophisticated platform for intelligence-driven marketing. That is what I like to hear because my previous solution left me blind. Trapping me in a system in which every subscriber in a given segment would receive the same message. Having the subscriber’s name in an email doesn’t count as personalization. Everybody under the age of 60 understands that does not constitute a true personal touch.

Who is this for?

Activecampaign for relationship marketers

I decided to test ActiveCampaign first because their guiding philosophy resonated with me.

Selling services is all about personal relationships.

This is not helped when my subscribers receive a mass message where I am trying to speak to every one of them as a group. Instead, I should be speaking to them as the individuals that they are. This left me sending out unfocused, general messages.

These were profitable but must have lacked emotional impact. They may have also turned off a lot of people. Sending these mixed signals may have had a damaging effect on my business. Especially because some of what I say is relevant but much of it is not. I could imagine clients wondering whether I understood their needs. And if I don’t understand their needs, why should they do business with me?

ActiveCampaign helped me repair the lack of personalization in my email marketing system. It helped me to send potential clients messages based on what I have learned about them. I was able to personalize my messages in both content and timing. This meant that individual messages are specific to single subscribers.

The platform helps me give people more of what they want through a better understanding of who they are. This improvement in relevancy translated to improved engagement. Providing more sales and better relationships. I found that people were more willing to read my emails and respond to my well-targeted calls to action.

Drip, perfect for E-commerce

A significant part of my earnings come from e-commerce. A big part of e-commerce is plugging revenue leaks. The biggest leak occurs when a buyer drops out of the shopping process with items in their basket. This is cart abandonment. I was able to use trigger links for effective follow up with people who left a full basket without buying.

And for my online courses, I am able to provide a more self-paced learning experience. Trigger links allow me to send emails based on how far a learner has progressed along the learning path.

Things get even better with events. They differ from tags by recording dates, as the name suggests. It also tracks the number of times an event happens. Events are useful because I can apply a single event, such as “purchased toner”, to a subscriber many times. Whereas I can only apply a tag like “toner customer” once. I use events tagging on the e-commerce side to send emails to repeat customers. For instance, somebody may buy a certain product three times in a month. In this case, they get an email offering an exclusive bulk discount. This is huge for profitability. Instead of making blind offers, I’m able to send deals that make sense to each individual.

Pros and Cons

ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign stood out most when I combined the tagging system with website visitor tracking. This cool feature allows me to tag my subscribers based on their behavior on my website. This provides a level of insight that was impossible outside of a lab environment. I was able to get more specific with my marketing messages. This was an unprecedented opportunity to leverage reliable behavioral data into profitable offers.

On the downside, ActiveCampaign’s list management is almost too flexible. I’m sure as I become more skilled using these tools I will look back at this criticism and scoff. At the moment, I do find myself often overwhelmed by the options and how complex the automation can get. I don’t yet have a good system for keeping everything straight.

Drip

The big advantage of Drip is that it packs a large number of complex capabilities into a simple toolset. It does so much but without a lot of the lag that I experienced with ActiveCampaign. It’s also intuitive, even though Drip doesn’t use lists it still somehow makes more sense. This is especially true if you have a background as a relationship minded marketer. If you’re not used to relationship marketing then you may experience a bit of a learning curve. But, if you have a few years of marketing experience under your belt then you can make the most out of Drip.

Although I enjoyed the power and speed of Drip. The only thing that lets it down is that it’s one of the most expensive email marketing tools in its class. If money is a factor, I recommend sticking with ActiveCampaign. It’s not as smooth or as quick as Drip but it has everything you need to run a profitable marketing campaign. But, if you need a solution that is powerful and fast, Drip is worth the money.

Costs

DripCostsActiveCampaignCosts
Starting priceFreeStarting price$9
2.5k contacts$412.5k contacts$29
10k contacts$14910k contacts$70
25k contacts$25425k contacts$135
100k contacts$779100k contacts$415

 

Selected Integrations: Drip vs. ActiveCampaign

DripActiveCampaign
1ShoppingCartDrupal
3dcartFacebook
Coupon CarrierGoogle Analytics
FastspringLeadsBridge
FomoMagento
GumroadSalesforce Sales Cloud
JustunoShopify
NanacastSlack
Salesforce Sales CloudSugarCRM
SamCartTwitter
SendOwlWooCommerce
ShopifyWordPress
ThrivecartXero
WooCommerceZapier

Standout Features

ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign was the more familiar of the two to me because it makes use of both lists and tags. In that way, it reminds me more of the old autoresponders I’m used to working with. This meant that managing list segmentation was intuitive for me. The tagged list approach appeals to me because I have more control over subscribers.

For example, I can manage many lists with multiple tags. This enhances the personalization of my campaigns. There is also a lot of flexibility in list management. I appreciated that I did not need to make manual changes. I had the option to tag in bulk and make use of automatic behavioral tagging.

Automation is a major benefit of ActiveCampaign. I found the automation workflows feature very logical to use although a bit slow. It allowed for the automatic tagging of subscribers based on a broad range of actions. For example, I have been creating link-specific tags. That is not a general “clicked link” tag but a unique tag for each unique link. This is what I call deep behavioral personalization. ActiveCampaign gives me this superpower right there within the email editor.

Drip

Drip takes a very different approach to subscriber management. It took me some time to get used to their events and tags idea. Drip does not use lists so the only way to organize subscribers is through tagging. I could apply these by hand. But, after all the fun I had with ActiveCampaign, I became eager to try Drip’s automation workflows. I was very impressed. Drip made it easy for me to configure behavior-based tagging. I was able to go into minute detail on the historical behavior of my subscribers.

Drip has an interesting little feature called trigger links. This allows me to create special links that can start automated actions within Drip. Using a single link in a bunch of different places gets confusing. This is especially true if you don’t keep track of where the link is used. Still, I found it easy to keep track of trigger links with Drip because they immediately appear in the trigger menu.

What I love most about this feature is time-saving. I would usually need to copy and paste tracking links manually. With the trigger menu, I can select from a convenient drop-down list. These links are very flexible. I was able to use them to replace many content links on my website. I like that the functionality is not limited to Drip emails.

Drip vs. ActiveCampaign: Who Wins?

ActiveCampaign stood out most when I combined the tagging system with website visitor tracking. This cool feature allows me to tag my subscribers based on their behavior on my website. This provides a level of insight that was impossible outside of a lab environment. I was able to get more specific with my marketing messages. This was an unprecedented opportunity to leverage reliable behavioral data into profitable offers.

On the downside, ActiveCampaign’s list management is almost too flexible. I’m sure as I become more skilled using these tools I will look back at this criticism and scoff. At the moment, I do find myself often overwhelmed by the options and how complex the automation can get. I don’t yet have a good system for keeping everything straight.

When Drip and ActiveCampaign go head-to-head, the best choice depends on your skill. Your experience matters more than any pros or cons I found testing either software. If you are a beginning or an intermediate marketer, i.e. you have less than five years of full-time experience. Meaning you have less than 40 hours a week running digital marketing campaigns over the last 5 years. In this case, I would recommend ActiveCampaign to you.

But, if you have over 9,800 hours of professional marketing experience, you are an expert. In this case, Drip will be one of the most powerful pieces in your toolset.

Clickfunnels vs. WordPress: Two Approaches. Which One is Best?

Do you need a dedicated WordPress website or could you use Clickfunnels as the lead generation tool for your business? That is the question I ask in this comparison review. Clickfunnels vs. WordPress, which one works best for you?

Introduction: Clickfunnels vs WordPress

Not long ago I made the decision to move from regular work to freelancing. I knew from experience that success depends on my ability to generate a consistent flow of leads. But, I cannot afford to waste a lot of money in the process. I have no problem investing but getting a return on that investment is critical. When money is tight we have to spend time. This means making trade-offs between spending time and spending money.

The lead generation part of the business is no different.

I’m not a trained coder, so building lead generation pages from scratch was never an option. In the end, I found myself choosing between ClickFunnels and WordPress. Yet, building a WordPress site was daunting to me.

The $1000+ price tag of ClickFunnels was also worrying. Since ClickFunnels offered a 14-day trial, I decided to try it out and see what I could achieve. Afterward, I tested WordPress to see whether the time savings were worth the extra costs.

I learned a lot during this simple experiment. We will look at both sides of each solution and you can decide the best fit for your needs.

Costs

My first concern is usually: how much is all this going to cost me? I take a longer-term view of my business so I measure costs over a year, rather than month-to-month.

ClickFunnels

As mentioned it offers a 14-day Clickfunnels free trial and then has two paid options depending on your needs. Here are the two main types of accounts:

Basic Account (Starter Account) – The ClickFunnels pricing for this program is $97 per month. You will have the ability to create twenty funnels, over one hundred pages (whoa!) and up to 20,000 visitors per month.

Etison Suite (Enterprise Account) – The ClickFunnels pricing for this program is $297 per month.  You will receive Actionetics and Backpack affiliate system.   If you think you might want to use ClickFunnels as your “all in one” tool including List Building, this may be for you. In addition, you can utilize ClickFunnels pricing as an affiliate.

WordPress

WordPress is a little more variable.

To calculate the cost I have to consider hosting, theme, and plug-ins. Hosting would cost about $71.40 for the year, depending on the hosting service you use and the necessary themes and plug-ins would cost $89 for the year.

So the WordPress option would cost hundred and $160.40 for the year (of course, this is just for the basic setup, not including any specialty themes, e-commerce add-ons, or design spend). Another question in my head is: what am I getting for that extra $1003.60?

It’s not a really fair comparison because, as Clickfunnels claims, you can replace your entire website and save thousands, but nevertheless, if you just want to get online and start building those leads, WordPress may be the less expensive option to start.

Ease-of-use

Clickfunnels

When you decide to create a new funnel in ClickFunnels, there are a lot of options. At first, I found this overwhelming. What the heck is a hero funnel? When should I use a bridge funnel? But, when you click on a funnel type there is a little explainer video that helps.

I am not current with the latest Internet Marketing lingo. So these short videos helped point me to the funnel I needed for my design company. (A sales funnel, as it turns out).

Once I was able to select a suitable funnel, I found an advantage with ClickFunnels. I could create a visitor journey to increase the chances of a lead to converting into a customer. But, two weeks was too short to know if I was trading efficacy for ease-of-use.

WordPress

Anyone can learn how to make a basic WordPress site without coding but if you need anything more elaborate or extensive for your business, it can get quite tricky. WordPress offers thousands of plugins for a reason, with thousands of themes to choose from before that. If you are a new business owner, never had an online presence, you should probably consult with a design team first (which could cost you).

Of course, there are quite a few easy-to-use WordPress themes that are free. If you just want to get online and start building leads, many of these will work.

Is WordPress easy to use?

That really depends on what you want to accomplish. If you want a basic site, you could upload a theme, or use your hosting company’s theme builder and get online but that doesn’t mean you’ll get what you want necessarily. WordPress itself is a basic, open-sourced software tool that really does nothing. It will take a bit of know-how and expertise to learn how to use, but if you are above-average tech savvy (or learn things quickly), you can figure out how to get online.

Of course, with anything technical like a website, that is typically not always the case.

Here is what the backend of a basic WordPress site looks like:

You can take online courses and seminars to learn how to use WordPress, and of course, your hosting service or theme that you build should have plenty of materials, videos, resources for you to learn how to create a site.

Be ready to invest some serious time if you want to go online. WordPress is one of the better, and certainly most used tools for websites out there for a reason, but there is a lot of technical know-how that has to go into it.

Is Clickfunnels easy to use?

Well, that is the claim that Clickfunnels makes, isn’t it — that you can be up and running and have your first funnel built in under 10 minutes. I’m not sure if that is entirely accurate, especially if you are new to Clickfunnels or just getting started.

Just like anything else in business, Clickfunnels takes some time to learn, and a lot more time to master. Of course, there are numerous online resources, many from Clickfunnels themselves that can help you along the way.

If you really want to learn more about Clickfunnels and the magic sauce behind how online funnels work, I strongly recommend reading Russel Brunson’s work — even if you don’t end up getting Clickfunnels for your business, this book is a must-read. It is jam-packed full of best practices, insider tips and more on how Brunson (the Founder of Clickfunnels) built his multi-million dollar funnel empire. I strongly recommend it.

ROI

The price difference between ClickFunnels and WordPress is too large for a fair ROI comparison. Instead, I judge them on both ROI and return on effort. WordPress has the advantage in the former and ClickFunnels in the latter.

ClickFunnels takes a lot less effort upfront. There is a certain amount of comfort in having the pages already predesigned for sales. I was able to sign-in, pick a funnel, and then I had the choice of a few different designs. There wasn’t a lot of variation in the free designs but I found the paid options to be expensive.

Once I had a funnel template, the next step was the modification. This part took the longest but I still had a page I was happy with in under an hour.

Support

With WordPress, my site would become a total mess from time to time. I spent many hours trying to figure out exactly which change is causing the mess. Not exactly a good look for a designer.

Of course, I shouldn’t be editing the live version of the site. But, editing an off-line version and making the switchover is something I find tricky. My strategy when something like this happened was twofold. First, I would post on WordPress forums asking for help. And while I awaited an answer from the community, I would begin a painful trial and error process.

With ClickFunnels support, there is an instant messaging feature. This makes it very easy to ask for help and follow along with instructions. It’s not exactly instant but for me, it has always been under an hour and sometimes less than 10 minutes.

Search Engine Optimization

ClickFunnels has more SEO options than one might expect from a landing page builder. Since I am using this for paid advertising campaigns, I did not expect much in the way of SEO features. I was surprised to find that I could at least edit SEO metadata. But, it is still limiting compared to what I could achieve on WordPress. The Yoast SEO plug-in provides a more comprehensive toolset, and with some SEO know-how, you can achieve a lot of best practices using Yoast.

There are also many SEO-focused WordPress plugin if you are ready to do that, and of course, you’ll have the flexibility to add your own meta tags, meta descriptions, titles, and more.

Time

The time factor was not trivial to me. I do not want to spend a lot of my day dealing with technical issues when I could be working on projects. Then again, if I don’t get the tech right then I won’t have any clients to work in the first place.

The time it takes to create and edit landing pages is important to me. I expect to test different page variations for optimal results with AdWords traffic.

Flexibility: My Real World Testing

I was confident in producing funnels using ClickFunnels. Yet, I did find it a little restrictive. My test with ClickFunnels went quicker than I planned. So I began testing with WordPress before my trial period was over.

My research into funnels and recent experience with ClickFunnels gave me some clues. I needed five pages for my WordPress funnel. Opt-in, confirmation, thank you, quote request, and download. The first issue I ran into was that WordPress pages contain a sidebar on the right by default. If I put links there it takes this squeeze out of the squeeze page, and if I leave it blank it looks weird.

The theme I selected had a template for full width. The problem was that this ended up being a little too wide for my taste. I had to do a bit of tinkering to get a basic layout I could live with. By this time I had already spent a couple of hours configuring WordPress.

Example of WordPress Backend

So after about a day of work, I had my five basic pages set up and ready to go. Or so I thought. When you’re doing everything yourself, it is easy to miss the little details. One of the positive points of WordPress is that it’s SEO friendly. Your pages get indexed in Google very easily. The problem is that there are some pages you do not want to be indexed, especially download and thank you pages. I caught the mistake before doing too much damage. After a little more research I was able to remove the pages from my site index. It took a few days before they stopped appearing in Google searches.

After linking the pages together, my funnel was ready to go. It took about two days to complete this funnel compared to a couple of hours on ClickFunnels. I am also worried about the security of my pages. I’m protecting these pages from search engine spiders. But, could someone with technical skill still uncover them? With ClickFunnels, I am more confident in the security of these pages.

A learning experience

I am not sure how to consider the extra time I spent on my WordPress funnel. It was my first time building such a funnel but future funnels should be easier and take less time as I gain skills. In fact, the skill development aspect is what I am enjoying most about WordPress. I liken it to automatic versus manual cars. If I can build a funnel on WordPress, that skill would make me more proficient using other software.

I started this experiment looking for a way to attract new clients. As an unintended side effect, I find myself learning new skills. Although these skills are not related to my core business they seem handy to me.

My Final Thoughts: Who wins this battle?

The choice you make between ClickFunnels and WordPress will depend on your budget, time, and desire to tinker. You may prefer to pay for a more consistent and less stressful experience through ClickFunnels. Others will prefer more flexibility and enjoy the learning process of building funnels in WordPress.

On functionality, it was a dead heat. I sent an equal amount of paid traffic to each funnel and they both produced many leads. Not an equal amount of leads. But, there are so many variables at play that I cannot say the software was the deciding factor. In the end, this was a fun experiment that fixed my funnel problem and I learned a lot in the process.

Of course, you can watch this video and see for yourself if Clickfunnels could possibly replace your website:

Clickfunnels vs. WordPress: Features at a Glance

FeaturesClickfunnelsWordPress
CostsFree 14-day trial, then either $97 per month, $297 per month13.40 + (for basic WordPress theme, basic hosting) – unlimited (considering design factors, theme add ons, e-commerce store, sign-up tools, etc.)
Ease of UseYou’ll have to learn a bit about online funnels in general, but software is easy to learn, there are a lot of resources to help you out. Great for non-coders, or non-techies.You will have to invest some serious time to learning how to use WordPress if you are a novice.You might also have to hire web designers depending on the type or function of your website.
ROIClickfunnels takes less effort to get started, so you could get ROI sooner. It takes time to build a site that can return any ROI using WordPress.
SupportClickfunnels has an instant messaging service to assist you when you are building out your funnels.Depends on the theme, plugins, and hosting company you choose. Varies.
SEOHas some SEO capabilities, able to edit meta data.Full SEO capabilities using plugins.
TimeClickfunnels can be up and running within a week.It can take a few weeks to get your site up and functioning as working website.
FlexibilityClickfunnels does limit options with templates, but there are many ways to brand them for your company.There are unlimited options in WordPress overall, but depending on the themes you choose, you could be very limited in style and branding choices.

 

How Can Your Business Help Create a More Inclusive Economy? (Interview with Ovenly)

This article originally appeared on B The Change.

Ovenly, a New York City retail and wholesale bakery business was founded in 2010 by two female entrepreneurs.

The company “scales profit and business to create progressive social change,” putting a high premium on social responsibility, such as through its open-hiring policy.

Customers come to Ovenly for the salted chocolate chip cookie and a Brooklyn blackout cake.

They may not be aware that they are also supporting a revolutionary way to employ people who might not otherwise have a chance at a job. Employees at Ovenly’s locations are brought on through an open-hiring process, meaning there are no interviews to get a job at the company.

As described here, Ovenly has had an open hiring policy since 2012, working with organizations such as Getting Out Staying Out, Drive Change, The Center for Economic Opportunity, and the Ansob Center for Refugees, to hire political refugees and citizens returning from the criminal justice system.

Instead of a traditional interview process, candidates come in for a “trial” during which they shadow different positions for four to six hours to assess their skills and where they might fit.

These partnerships have not only given the team “some of the best staff members Ovenly has ever had,” but have created a curated talent pool based on the partners’ knowledge of their needs and ongoing support for their employees. Through these partnerships, they have been able to create higher levels of employee retention in a high-turnover industry.

The company now had 56 employees and have been expanding to additional locations quickly. An active participant in the Best for NYC Campaign, Ovenly has used the Best for NYC Challenge to think through new benefits for their team. The Best for NYC Challenge is a free, online tool to help business owners compare their impact on NYC workers, communities and the environment against 8,000-plus businesses, and the platform provides free resources to improve.

Below is an interview with Katherine Dumais, formerly with Best for NYC, and Agatha Kulaga, a co-founder of Ovenly.

change creator

What inspired you to start Ovenly?

Both my business partner and I definitely had previous careers in non-food related areas, and we both were working very hard to build our careers, and at some point we got burnt out on the jobs we were at. I felt I needed a change. I think there is the idea of wanting to start your own business to be able to make the change in your life and other peoples lives’ as you see fit. I had also been baking on the side, more as a reprieve from the stress of the work I was doing. It was a way for me to find a little bit of comfort in my own personal life.

I was also in a food-focused book club where I met my business partner. We started chatting, and we realized that we had a lot of similar characteristics in terms of our work ethic and determination and wanting to really take a leap and start new careers, and we met a week later and decided to start a business together. It was a huge leap for us, and it was something that we discussed for about a year before we landed on the idea of Ovenly.

So the way Ovenly got started is that we were really both passionate about food and baking. We knew we wanted to start a bakery and make a lot of delicious desserts, but we wanted to make some sort of bigger impact with our business and that’s how we started to work with Getting Out & Staying Out (GOSO). The rest is history.

The people who have continually surprised us are the people who have come from the most challenging backgrounds, and that to me is so meaningful.
Are there specific socially responsible practices you are particularly proud of?

We instituted open-hiring practices in our businesses. We don’t require that someone has a resumé to apply for a job with us. We don’t care about someone’s education or personal background. We only care about someone coming in and showing that they are eager and excited to work and are passionate about what we are doing.

We want people to work hard and have fun in doing the work we are doing. And I think that what I am continuously impressed by is the people who come into our business who have no food background what so ever — no experience working in the kitchen — and go from working as a porter and continually move up into different positions and gain more experience. It really just showed us that you don’t need the experience, you need the work ethic and the attitude to succeed and build a career in the business we have here. That’s what’s most important to us.

How did you all begin your open-hiring policy?

In 2012, we opened our bake shop in Greenpoint. One of our regular customers was Geoffrey Galia from GOSO, and he came into the shop one day and said, “Hey, I work with young men who have been previously incarcerated or have gone through the criminal justice system, and we do really incredible job training and education with them at our program. Then we try to place them in internships in various businesses based on their interests and skills. Would you ever consider taking any of our guys as interns?”

Given that my business partner worked in nonprofits in arts management and I worked in social work and psychology/psychiatry, both of us didn’t hesitate to say, “Yes.”

It was obvious that was something that we would want to do. And so we opened up a few intern positions for some of the GOSO guys, and it was an opportunity for us to rethink how we were approaching our hiring practices and the interview process.

At that time when we had the GOSO interns come in, we had a few people that were referrals from other employees, and so it was a cousin of someone or a brother of someone. Those people who came in and didn’t have resumés — if they had come in and had to interview for the position, I don’t know if they would have answered the questions in the right way or would have presented in a way that would have compelled me to hire them. But when they came into the kitchen everything about them was right. They became some of our best employees.

I think in terms of work motivation, work ethic, and, really, the desire to want to change your own life, that is enough to be able to succeed and really build a career. We’ve been doing open hiring since 2012, and we now have partnerships with GOSO, the Center for Employment Opportunities and Drive Change — all programs that place people who have gone through the criminal-justice system. And we also work with the Ansob Center for Refugees to place political refugees in jobs at Ovenly.

ovenly

What’s your step-by-step process to do open hiring?

If anyone contacts us by email or by phone, or if they just come into the kitchen and express interest for a position, we ask them what their experience is. If they do have a resumé, obviously they can provide it. If they don’t have a resumé, we just ask them to provide a few references, personal or professional, who can just give us a sense of who they are. And then, for back-of-house positions, we will schedule them for a trial. We don’t do an interview, we actually have them come in to do a four to six hour trial for a position, or for a few positions.

Generally, we decide on the spot if we want to hire that person or not. And, generally, if they come in and we think they might be a good fit, but we are a little unsure, we ask them to come back because there can be a lot of pressure and nervousness when coming in for the first time, so we often times will give someone a second opportunity to come in.

In terms of the onboarding, we generally go through the training piece. Once someone is actually hired, they go through a three-month training period. We ask people to invest the time and energy to master the positions they are in, and if they do, we are always willing to move people up and around to different positions based on what they are actually interested in. We don’t expect people to want to do the same job for five years. We want people to grow and we strive to provide people with greater earning potential, whether at Ovenly or somewhere else.

If we can continue to make a difference in that way, and really reduce the stigma for people who have faced employment challenges and overall life challenges for so long, then that is where I really think we can really make a difference.

In the food industry, there is so much turnover, and that is such a huge challenge for so many of our colleagues, anyone who owns a food business, turnover is such a huge challenge. On the flip side of that, being in the food industry right now, there is such potential for making a great impact because it is the fastest growing sector of our economy. So just in terms of our hiring practices right now and the partnerships that we have with these job training programs, what is great for us, is these partnerships provide us with an opportunity that is both financial and social.

Our turnover rate at this point for back of house is 8 months to a year, and for us, we actually think that is great. And obviously we want that to be higher. We have worked really hard to provide great benefits to our employees. We offer a wonderful paternity and maternity leave policy that other large corporate businesses don’t even offer. That is something that is very important to us and especially being a woman-owned business, is something that we wanted to do from the start. We offer paid sick leave, free yoga, and a family meal at every shift, and we provide training on financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and environmentally sustainable kitchen practices, such as composting.

Do you have any larger goals that you are striving for in your business as you are moving forward? Where do you see Ovenly in five years?

Our real focus right now is continuing to scale our business in a responsible way. We are continuing to grow our retail network and we are opening more stores, so we are continuing to create more jobs both on the retail side and the back-of-house side. I would really love to get to a place where where we are filling other positions in addition to the back-of-house openings in the company with the referrals we are getting. I think it is just a different type of training people need.

We are working with our job partners to figure out, “What are the training needs for the variety of different positions we have?” For example, if someone doesn’t have any customer-service experience, it takes a lot more training to get there on that end, so what are the skills that we can provide and what is the training required? There are so many food businesses that need the same type of trainings, so how do we share our resources better to retain employees and have employees build the strength and skills to succeed in the position they are in. I think there is a way to create training programs where people can share these resources and we can have larger trainings that employees can actually go to and build the skills that they need.

Our aim is really to build healthful communities as we grow our business. By healthful communities, we mean being able to create jobs for our employees that are meaningful to them, help them grow their careers, and create a better life satisfaction for them.

I think a huge part of it is getting other business on board to really work on being open to creating jobs for everyone. And I think a big part of it is eliminating stigma, specifically for returning citizens — especially for returning citizens. A lot of times the question is: “Do you ever feel unsafe? If you don’t know someone’s criminal history, if you don’t know their job history, how do you know what a person’s character is?” My answer to that is always, “If you accept someone off the street who is applying from Craigslist, how do you know where that person is coming from?”

The people who have continually surprised us are the people who have come from the most challenging backgrounds, and that to me is so meaningful. And if we can continue to make a difference in that way, and really reduce the stigma for people who have faced employment challenges and overall life challenges for so long, then that is where I really think we can really make a difference.

What changes have you implemented as a result of the Best for NYC program and Best for NYC Challenge?

We created an employee-wellness position, and added more employee benefits since we have done the Challenge. We ended up meeting with our management team and then with the rest of the team to redefine our mission, vision and values as a company. After we did the Challenge, we created a few different surveys for our team members to gather metrics about our employees and ask questions about their demographics — where they are coming from, the job experience they have had, what they feel like Ovenly is providing, the compensation they have had at other jobs, what they are getting here, whether they’re interested in any other types of benefits.

All of that information we gather from people who come on board, and we also instituted employee surveys throughout the year to get a sense of what our employees want from Ovenly and what their job satisfaction, personal life satisfaction and goals are as well.

If You Want to Reduce Stress Than These 7 Steps Can Help You Detach

This article was written by Leo Babauta and appeared on Zen Habits.

Imagine having a mind that clings to nothing — it doesn’t get attached, it doesn’t need things to be a certain way, it doesn’t need people to behave in particular ways. It’s a mind at home everywhere, because it doesn’t need to be anywhere in particular.

How it Would Put Our Challenges at Ease

If someone irritates you, it’s because you are attached to a particular way you want them to behave, and when you don’t get that way, you are unhappy. If your mind didn’t cling to what you wanted, you would be fine with how they were acting. In fact, you might have compassion for them, as you could see they are suffering.

If you are stuck in traffic, or a long line somewhere, you can become bothered when you want your life to be different (to not have traffic or a long line). Your mind is clinging to how it wants things and doesn’t like not getting its way.

When someone is upset with you, you can become defensive or angry that they’re acting that way, because you’re clinging to wishing they would treat you a certain way. If you let go of clinging, it wouldn’t excuse their bad behavior — nor would you have to allow yourself to be abused. But you would not have to be upset, you would just protect yourself by not allowing yourself to be abused (if necessary). And again, you might have to understand for their suffering.

Every difficulty is caused by this clinging: stress when you’re overwhelmed, procrastination when you don’t want to work on something difficult or do uncomfortable exercise, loneliness, shutting your heart down in an argument, overeating, bad financial habits, and much more.

Let’s look at how we’d react in one situation, if we could have a mind of no clinging. Then let’s look at how we might start to develop that no-clinging mind.

Quick Example: Dealing with a Difficult Situation without Attachment

Let’s say you have a loved one who is addicted to drugs, and you really want to help them. But you’re stressed about how to help them, about them going down this path, and about whether you’re even able to help.

The stress is caused by clinging — how you want them to behave, wanting things to turn out the way you want them to turn out. You have a loving intention, but at the same time, your clinging is causing you some suffering.

Their drug addiction is also caused by clinging. They ran to drugs to get away from their difficulties, which were caused by clinging. They enjoyed the high and found it to be a comfort from their difficulties, and clung to that feeling. Over time, that clinging hardened to addiction, and their clinging causes them to stay addicted. They are suffering, and we can see that and have a genuine wish for it to end (without clinging to needing that outcome to happen).

So seeing all of this, you start to let go. You don’t need them to be a certain way, you just love them. You just show up for them, with acceptance and compassion. You open your heart to them, without needing things to change.

And you offer help, of course. You share ideas for seeking counseling, for meditation, for drug addiction strategies and treatment centers. But you are not attached to them actually doing those things — they are offered lovingly, as a gift.

This is one way a non-clinging mind might deal with a difficult situation. There are many others, but you can see that this non-clinging can be tremendously helpful in any situation.

7 Tips to Develop a Mind Without Attachment

I’m not going to pretend that I never cling, nor that it’s easy to develop a mind that clings to nothing. This is something I’m still working on, and I’m not attached to having it develop overnight (or ever getting there, really). To the extent that we practice, it is helpful.

So here’s how I would practice:

  1. Start by just noticing when you are clinging. It’s hard to see at first, but once you start to see, you can notice it all the time. When you don’t like the way your food tastes, that’s clinging. When you need to have your coffee, that’s clinging. When you overeat, procrastinate, get frustrated, lash out, run to your favorite distractions, shut someone out … those are ways of clinging. Just start noticing, without judgment.
  2. Notice how it feels when you’re clinging. What do you notice about your mind? What do you notice about the sensations in your body? Get curious, and start to fine-tune your attention so that you can notice the smallest details.
  3. Practice daily meditation, in the morning, for 5-10 minutes for at least a month. Extend it to 10-15 minutes after a month. Notice when you are putting off meditation (clinging to wanting to check your phone), or when you are wanting to get up from your seat before meditation is over, or when you are clinging to anything during the meditation.
  4. Practice letting go. It’s a kind of relaxing of the tightening of your mind and body. It’s a relaxing of your grasp on how you want things to be. It’s easier when you don’t care that much, so practice in easier situations at first. It’s saying to yourself, “I don’t need things to be my way. I don’t need them to be anyway. I’m content either way because no matter what happens, the universe is freaking amazing.”
  5. Notice the self-centeredness of clinging. When you are clinging to something, it’s because you are at the center of your universe. You want things to go your way, to meet your desires (or avoid your aversions), to be the way you like it. This is when we put ourselves at the center of everything. This is not judgmental, but just a noticing of perspective.
  6. Expand your perspective beyond your self-focused view, to get out of the clinging. See the other person’s perspective, understand that they are suffering, understand that in their suffering and clinging, you are alike, you are connected. See that you and all others are interconnected, affecting each other, supporting each other, and to the extent that you can wish for an end to others’ suffering, it benefits you as well. Expand your heart to wish for an end to the clinging and suffering of others, and not worry so much about your own desires and self-protection. This is a helpful thing when it comes to clinging because when we expand, we no longer need things to be our way.
  7. See the beauty in everything, the immense, profound awesomeness in every little thing. When we cling to things being one way, we ignore the amazingness of the things around us, because if we saw that amazingness, we wouldn’t need things to be one way. All ways are incredible, in their own way. Appreciating that is helpful.

This won’t get you all the way, but it gets you a lot closer.

The real way to develop a mind that clings to nothing is to first, continue to let go. Moment after moment, notice the clinging and then let go. Over and over again.

And then to expand yourself beyond your narrow perspective, to see the interconnectedness of all things, to appreciate the beauty in all around us, to not see yourself as separate from everything else but a part of it all, in it together, and fall deeply in love with that fact.

If you’re feeling a bit like you’re on a hamster wheel in life you should check out this article, If You’re Feeling Stuck in Life Than This Will Help You.

Your mental game is essential to master for greater success in your life and the legacy you leave behind.

A really powerful book from one of the leading thinkers of our time, Eckert Tolle, is A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose (Oprah’s Book Club, Selection 61). Reading books like this help you see the big picture and start managing your habits and perspective better.

Spark MicroGrant’s Strategies for Driving Human Impact

As a little girl, Sasha Fisher always wondered why the world she lived in was unequal. A world where some people were unable to meet their basic needs and couldn’t afford to live in dignity.

She always knew she wanted to change that — thus she decided to work with non-profit organizations.

Why non-profits?

Fisher explains that there are three ways of addressing world inequality.

These include:

  • businesses,
  • governments
  • and non-profits.

The non-profit sector hasn’t matured as much as it needs to. She states, “Non-profits are all focused around human impact and that’s what I care about primarily. The question is the vehicle to get there.

Non-profits focus on human impact. Their mission is to impact the world’s population in a positive way. They don’t model the organization to have an income stream. They are people- and impact-motivated. She explains, “There is an opportunity to be as clear as possible about your mission and the impact you want to create without muddying it with compromise.”

Don’t be afraid to start young

In high school, Fisher became involved in fundraising for a non-profit organization with projects in Sierra Leone. In University, during her sophomore year, she joined a team of volunteers to South Sudan. Working with this international non-profit organization gave her first-hand experience dealing with critical development issues. She started young and was determined to make it at all costs.

Fisher realized that she had no way of knowing what type of aid was more or less effective. She asked herself, “What’s the difference between donating to one aid organization and another?” She had no clue. She believed this South Sudan opportunity would help her understand more about impact.

“There are some ratings online on Charity Navigator about a handful non-profit companies. But they don’t tell much about impact,” she adds.

It was an exciting opportunity for her because she would travel with the team to the field. The country director taught her a lot about the context and the region. She was shown around to other aid projects as well. She felt they were not being used effectively in an area that received a lot of aid money.

In South Sudan, Fisher realized that most non-profit organizations were not able to measure project impact.

Most of the aid projects were not being effectively utilized. Several aid organizations were letting the South Sudanese people sit on the sidelines. They did not involve them in the conversation on what was being built. Local communities had no ownership of the projects.

Related: How This Teacher Started a Social Change Business on The Side

Give communities control over their own future

Fisher felt that, considering the South Sudanese had fought for their freedom for more than two decades, they ought to be given control over their future.

They had the fundamental human right to define what the future held for them and their families, a quality that was lacking.

By the end of her volunteer period, she had one big question lingering in her mind, “Who was making the decisions on getting power to the hands of local communities and families?”

When Fisher graduated, she felt obligated to go to Rwanda, even though she had never been there.

She needed to go to a region that required foreign aid and Rwanda seemed like the perfect place for her.

Moving to the country was the least scary. Instead, she couldn’t stop thinking about how they could use their foreign aid money better. She couldn’t figure this out unless she was in the area receiving the aid money.

Her first steps involved locating a region with an operational local CBO. She started by learning from the organization, then piloted a project within the community. She deeply felt that local community had to drive and own local projects.

She says, “I didn’t want to be an expert at anything because the whole point was this: Whatever happens should be owned and driven by local communities.”

In the Rwandan villages, Fisher brainstormed with local partners to identify how best to support, launch, and implement their development programs.

After a lot of consultation and deliberation with government, businesse,s and non-profits, Spark MicroGrants was established in 2010

Support pre-existing non-profits

Fisher felt that Spark’s role should be supportive of the non-profits already on the ground. They could also act as a bridge between the villages and their government. The organization came up with a facilitation process paired with a seed grant provided directly to villages. This process is fully inclusive of gender and age. Community members make decisions about their welfare.

This furthers the main goal of helping the local community learn how to control their future. Helping them tap into their potential is a strong way to bring long-term change.

Spark works in collaboration with the Rwandan government to strengthen village leadership. Building community village elders that take charge of these projects is one of the main keys of Spark’s success. Spark goes into a village for only two years, so implementing the process correctly is the key to the long-term success of the village.

Focus on the process of your project if you want to succeed

The core process – from Spark first getting involved to finding seed funding — takes 6 months, after which implementation begins. This can last three to six months and Spark management support is always provided.

The focus is to bring the project to life, but an income earning component is often attached. This depends on the type of project the community selects.

Some of the projects that have been done include:

  • Starting a mill where villagers pay to mill their cereals
  • Sale of surplus crops from farming

Ninety percent of Spark-funded projects are still sustaining two years after launching

So, what’s the process?

MONTH 1

Within the first month, Spark MicroGrants goes into a village and conducts discussions for community building. The community identifies the right people, the direction to take, and problems to address.

MONTHS 2 & 3

Next is two months of goal setting. In the first month, the village discusses their history and enumerates their existing assets. It also addresses past projects.

In the second month, they identify the village they foresee and set goals to achieve it. They then brainstorm find pathways to reach the goals.

MONTHS 4 & 5

After that, proposal development starts, which takes two months. It includes a financial sustainment strategy in which the organization offers basic training on cash flow. The financial literacy includes skills that are kept simple and basic to ensure everyone understands.

Spark MicroGrants then explains the amount of funding provided to begin the project and how much is required to sustain it over time. Community members elect a village committee to manage the program and assign roles.

Transparency is imperative with Sparks as they are continually held accountable to their donors. In each village, the leaders have a responsibility to report fully on project finances. The report includes the specific amount of money received and the amount spent in the project. Transparency within the organization and villages enhances visibility on how money is spent and for what purpose.

MONTHS 6, 7, & 8

In the next three months, there is a technical review, management support, and future visioning.

The technical review process includes some training and technical specifications to address the set goals.

Future visioning involves building partnerships with local organizations and government officials. The whole idea here is to have a smooth process that enables the set goals to be carried out successfully.

The last step before the implementation is the disbursement of the village fund —  $8,000 per village — with which to implement the project of their choice. The community is physically involved in the actual building of projects. The media, businesses, and local government personalities are invited to create awareness.

When dealing with projects that involve money and development, it’s all about the process. Therefore, Sparks puts in a lot of work into ensuring everything is done well, with pinpoint precision. This enables them to leave a long-lasting mark in a community.

Seventy-three percent of villages advocated for external support after working with Spark

Meet Gracie

On passion, learning, and raising money

When Fisher founded Spark MicroGrants, she knew very little about making money. All she knew was that she needed more money to reach more villages. She was so passionate about this.

In the initial years, there was a lot of learning to do because the fundraising experience she had was during high school and university. See, even if you have passion for something, you need to learn about ways to make it happen.

While in her senior year of university, Fisher asked several people to help out with funds. She wrote emails to several groups, which seemed like a crazy idea. To her surprise, two foundations based in New Jersey actually responded and donated some money. This was a big break for her, finally getting first donations to the organization. One of the foundations has grown with Spark MicroGrants and still funds them to over $100,000 to date.

In the first year of the organization’s operation, it started with $10,000. By 2016, they were able to raise $1.5 million which they leveraged for programs and other organization uses. Currently, the organization obtains funding from individuals, foundations, and corporates, among other donors. They have a huge group of sponsors willing to chip in and sponsor villages.

It costs $10,000 to fund a village through this process. From this amount, a village chooses its own project. For every project the organization institutes, a second project is launched independently.

From deep passion and learning, Spark was able to beat the odds and raise the cash needed to get going.

Setting out to be different and to keep growing

From the beginning, Spark MicroGrants set out to be different.

It designed a new approach that moved away from the traditional problem-solving framework to focus on goals. In the beginning, the grants were based on projects but the company has now streamlined the grant to a village grant.

Every village receives the same amount of money so there is no competition to get more.

In the first village in Rwanda, the Spark’s core process took three months. This period has changed, evolved with feedback from families. It has currently grown to a six-month process with a two-year follow on support. This includes quarterly check-ins per village.

spark microgrants

How do they make decisions?

Decision making is based on impact. To avoid corruption, Spark establishes clear accountability to the villages they serve. Its mission is to support communities and improve local conditions. It has an efficient system, designed to achieve that in the best way possible.

There is a lot of prescriptive aid and Spark MicroGrants seeks to change this. Its model pushes the limit on how much ownership and decisions the people being served can be left with. It believes that all the decisions should belong to the people.

The project process is cyclical. Every year, there is something new to tackle within the village. The village goes through strategic planning on the future, which is reviewed every year. This process ensures the village is leaping back while looking forward.

From Rwanda, Spark MicroGrants has grown to Burundi, Congo, Ghana, and DRC. In these countries, they have partnered with more than 150 villages. Of all the village projects facilitated by Spark, 94 percent are self-sustaining and 77 percent have birthed other projects without Spark’s support. Over 90 percent of these continue to meet regularly and discuss important community issues.

Helping people to achieve the future they want

Spark MicroGrants has been working in Rwanda for seven years now. Over 56 community partners have been facilitated with Spark staff. The organization has helped villagers create a system of agreeing on ideas, building a plan for execution, and managing their own projects.

Collective weekly meetings are held where village families in the communities plan for the future they want. The project ideas originate from the families, who then work on them together.

Spark was founded to get resources to the hands of families they sought to support. They do this without viewing them as beneficiaries. This approach is different because they encourage communities to seek their own solutions. It trusts people with their own future.

This shows how organizations can support community members better. There has been great feedback from families in the supported villages. This include progress in goal setting and government advocacy. Spark constantly listens to feedback from villages on how to improve the system.

Actionable Steps and Takeaways

  • Be willing to move out of your comfort zone. Traveling and experiencing the world can create powerful inspiration but change also starts where you are. You don’t have to move to Rwanda to find problems worth addressing.
  • Being entrepreneurial doesn’t always mean building your own organization. You can get your innovations incorporated into existing institutions.  “The best teams are full of entrepreneurs working together with complementary skill sets and ways of thinking to build a larger scale movement,” Fisher says.
  • Every human being has a cause. Something they feel passionately about. Fisher always knew her niche was human impact and that non-profits were the best way to achieve that. What do you have and how can you get it to the people?
  • Work with the people whom you are serving to solve problems and build long-term solutions into your processes.

Listen to our full interview with Sasha Fisher here

How This Teacher Started a Social Change Business on The Side

This article is brought to you by +Acumen

Not all Change Creators are social entrepreneurs right away.

There are many ways you can get involved and create sustainable change in this world.

Here is the story of Marc Mailhot, a teacher at Montgomery Village Public School in Ontario, Canada, who wanted to create positive social change in his community. And he did it all in his free time after school!

You see, you don’t need to quit your day job to create lasting changes in a community. With some hard work, some good ideas, and a lot of dedication, you can build a successful social good business on the side, too. Actually, this is how many people start so that they can self-fund their work.

Bridging Two Generations

About 10 years ago, Mailhot and a fellow teacher, Lynda Brown, realized that despite advances in technology that were seemingly making communication easier, many students in their class had never talked to the senior citizens who lived next door.

“The age of the front porch, neighborhood barbecue, or block party were becoming relics of the past. We thought that was sad” says Mailhot.

So, he did something about it and created what would become GrandPals — a community initiative that connects generations of students, teachers, seniors, and community members.

That first year, the idea started with a simple action — bring students to the nearby seniors’ center to play games and keep them company. It didn’t take long for Mailhot and his fellow teachers to realize that they could make this activity a part of the student curriculum.

Now, this initiative has become a self-sustaining social enterprise that could possibly scale across Canada and into other countries as well.

“When we think about intergenerational programming, most people think about taking a group of kids to a nursing home and having them play cards and feel good,” Mailhot says. “Or maybe, they’ll meet regularly to bake cookies. GrandPals is at a different level— we’re academically rigorous.”

Storytelling and Community Building Benefits Us All

GrandPals isn’t just social, it’s about changing the community narrative and connecting generations together to learn new things and share ideas. The students go through a project-based curriculum where they can learn about their community, media literacy, technology, and social studies through the work they do with seniors.

The initiative culminates in an intensive research project in which students chronicle the life stories of the seniors they work with and end up with published books that are housed at the local museum.

“It’s so life-changing. It’s an amazing opportunity for everyone.” Alyssa Curry – Student

Most recently, he’s had many family members of older adults contacting him to ask how they can involve their parents or grandparents in the program. They know that social isolation can literally be deadly for senior citizens and they see GrandPals as a great way to keep their relatives engaged in something meaningful.

To help meet these demands, Marc has successfully attracted funding from the Ontario Ministry of Education, Ontario Ministry of Senior Affairs, Rotary Clubs, and The Clorox Company, and will soon be receiving a national education award.

It’s amazing what one teacher can do! He would love to scale this initiative and introduce this into every community in Canada, but his lack of resources has held him back. Applying for all the grants he needed to fund this initiative by himself was exhausting to the point of burnout. He needed to find a real solution if he was going to scale this at all.

Why Building a Revenue Stream Just Made Sense

One of the many benefits of having a for-profit social enterprise is the continuation of the revenue stream. This makes the business self-sustaining and scalable, both of which Mailhot hoped would happen with GrandPals.

One of the resources Mailhot found so helpful was the +Acumen Business Models for Social Enterprise course.

There, he learned how to take earned revenue streams so he could hire a program manager and become self-sustaining. +Acumen is social enterprise platform that helps others through educational initiatives, one of which is their superb online courses.

“Learning about the different business models a social enterprise could have helped me think of new and creative ways to run my business without having to continually ask for money or fill out government grant forms,” Mailhot says.

Looking at his business model in a new light, he soon came to the realization that seniors also want to be customers. He soon developed a new plan to take his curriculum and turn it into a series of eLearning resources that could not only be sold to other schools, but also to seniors who were looking for education on how to use new technologies.

“We want to encourage lifelong learning. Seniors were asking us to teach them skills like how to use Google Docs; it was a meaningful opportunity to create a solution that could fund the programing,” Mailhot says.

Mailhot continues to further his education, taking advantage of programs from +Acumen and others so he can continue to scale his business.

He still has a great deal of market testing to do, but he’s secured a government grant that will help him with some of the pilot testing for an eLearning course, so he’s optimistic about that solution.

“This program stands as a bridge between social workers and educators. We have good data that shows it improves socio-emotional learning for all involved. Empathy levels go up. Students’ and seniors’ perceptions of their ability to make positive change goes up. Now, we just need to find a way to scale it and make it sustainable. The +Acumen course helped point us in the direction of business models that could work.”

Want to get some more business model ideas? Check out these 4 awesome impact models in 4 Impact Business Models You Wish You Thought Of

If You’re Feeling Stuck in Life Than This Will Help You

Nobody wants to do nothing with their life. We all tend to think and dream about bigger things for ourselves.

I’m pretty sure that years ago they would say things like, “as technology gets better we will be able to free up our time and have 3 day work weeks.”

Yet, instead we now work more hours per week and the average household income has gone down.

“From 1973 to 2016, net productivity rose 73.7 percent, while the hourly pay of typical workers essentially stagnated—increasing only 12.5 percent over 43 years (after adjusting for inflation). This means that although Americans are working more productively than ever, the fruits of their labors have primarily accrued to those at the top and to corporate profits, especially in recent years.” (source)

When you work full time and you have a spouse or family with little ones bouncing around than doing any extracurricular work can be near impossible.

Have you ever had goals to do something but when you finally get time you’re burnt out?

I mean, you have to turn things off at some point to let your brain catch up, right? Beer, wine, maybe a joint, then Netflix and Chill. I know I’ve passed up the gym a few times because I needed to recharge.

Respecting Time

Time is an important consideration and should be taken very seriously. The reason being is that it’s the one thing you can’t get more of even if you wanted to.

There are 168 hours in a week and you are awake for 112 of those hours if you sleep 8 hours per night. How we spend that time will determine the life we create.

Sometimes, when you want to make a transition in your life you have to make time. This could mean stretching your waking hours or it could mean looking at how you spend your current time and making some changes so you can work towards your goals.

A fun exercise is to get a small notebook or use your phone and track how you spend your time for one standard week. This is not an attempt to make a lame point about watching too much Tv. Everything is good in moderation. It just helps to take a quick inventory and see if what you think in your mind is the same as the reality. Might sound odd but as humans, our perception of something could be very different than the reality.

Now you can see where you might change things up. Spend a little less time here or there and do something else.

Source of Motivation

Philadelphia was home to my wife and me for 6 years and during that time I worked in New York City. It was a big trip that cost me about 4 hours of time traveling each day.

Despite really liking WebMD, I knew it wasn’t the kind of work I wanted to be tied to for the rest of my life. I wanted to do something more fulfilling and on my own time. I hated being on someone else’s schedule.

People change their life paths all the time. Why couldn’t I? I always thought about it but never really did anything because I was comfortable with my job. It was solid. But this time was different. I was getting older and realized that if I didn’t start changing how I spend my time, I’ll never be able to change my life trajectory or course to become who I really wanted to be.

The pain of not doing something was now far greater than the pain of doing something.

The author Steven Pressfield has a great line in his book, The War of Art, which I think gets at the core of motivation. Pressfield states:

“At some point, the pain of not doing it becomes greater than the pain of doing it.”

I left the house around 645am. I got home usually around 7 pm.

Once I got home at night I usually went to the gym with my wife. The evening is not usually my best time for work. I start to lose focus. The morning was my best time. So, I decided to stretch my waking hours and woke up at 4 am each morning to give myself 2 hours each morning to pursue something I wanted.

Aside from feeling crazy, it was f*cking hard. I was not used to being up that early and by 2 pm my eyes would feel like 30-pound dumbbells.

At the same time, the pain of not doing something was still worse.

I had to schedule my motivation. You cannot wake up and say, “man I hope I get time to do XXXX today.”

Inevitable Progress

Whether you’re starting a business or learning piano or doing anything else there are some fundamental realities to face.

Your current daily pattern in life is what gives you the current results you have. You’ll need to change the pattern to get different results, somewhat like an algorithm. It will not be easy because your behaviors are habits and in some cases even addictions. New ideas always sound nice in discussion or on paper but when it comes time to physically act on them your old habits or addiction could easily overpower you.

You have to be willing to put time into pursuing what you desire. Remember why you want to do it in the first place for a little motivation.

You have to have the discipline to pursue the new pattern.

You have to be consistent to break old habits.

That recipe will allow you to make progress every week towards a new goal. It’s inevitable.

Making The Transition

Sometimes, when you’re unhappy with your job or work you obviously want to change your life. But what happens when you’ve worked in a category for several years and that’s where all your experience is already? It’s hard to escape that because you won’t make as much money and basically have to start over.

Everything starts somewhere.

You have to spend your valuable time a bit differently and in the beginning, for a few months, it will be really hard. It’s like have two overlapping focuses. You can call it a side hobby but if your goal is a life change, such as how you earn a living, then it’s more serious than that. You’re out to learn, create and earn.

It always helps to do a deep self-inventory to understand yourself and find out how you can use the skills you have in a way that leans into your new direction. This will help expedite the process.

It would be nice if we could just focus our full day of waking hours on the thing we really want to spend time on. Anyone can do it but if we are not already on that track we have to slowly and consciously make an effort to transition how we spend our time. There will be a period of overlap between old and new.

There are many new habits you can adopt to start making a transition. I personally got a lot of value out of volunteer work and those early mornings spent building online businesses.

Today, there are new models for business and life while technology is creating opportunities that never existed before.

There is no better time to become a purpose-driven entrepreneur.

We are the designers of our lives.

You might also want to check out our article, Why You’re Not Hitting Your Goals, And How to Fix That (5 Steps)

How This Backpack is Tackling Plastic Waste and Looking Super Fly Too!

This article originally appeared on Cause Artist.

Meet 8hz: An Ethical Brand Doing Fashion Right

Meet 8hz, a new ethical brand dedicated to making products with fabric created from plastic bottles. The whole idea started when Mateo Neri, CEO of 8hz, was doing a large project on climate change with scientist and health experts around the world. After exiting his other startup URB-E, and being exposed to what’s been happening in the climate world he decided to focus on recycling, up-cycling and saving the oceans.

The core mission was to make beautiful products from waste and not virgin plastic derived from petroleum, which is the easy way to manufacture products but is also extremely detrimental to the environment. Making products here in the U.S. was also an important factor for Mateo and his team.

Below is a fantastic Q&A with the CEO of 8hz, Mateo Neri:

What made you want to start a social impact brand?

I have always been into the environment back from when I went to school for solar energy in Santa Cruz, but it was in 2012/13 when my previous company was hired by a fortune 100 consumer brand to do a large scale climate project looking 10-15 years out. We focused on a global scale in four main cities including LA. We seeked out and partnered with 40+ top scientist, health experts and Universities around the world and it was this project that gave me very deep insights and after URB-E, this stuck with me.

I had to call myself out as a design entrepreneur to do better and do something that had more impact. If I am educating my kids on this, then why not make it a reality. Having grown up in the beach area, I have always loved the ocean and we use to have sea life from kelp to jellyfish and now it’s gone, so seeing what’s happening with just the over consumption of plastics and the effects in our oceans and food, I wanted to impact this area and give back, this is why with every purchase we are donating to our non profit partners such as 5 Gyres.

The big goal is to create a closed loop in LA where waste is made into beautiful products and manufactured locally, while helping prevent plastics into the oceans.

Who is the design team behind these beautiful bags and how did the team come together?

We have an awesome team of partners and collaborators and an underlying passion or drive for what we do on different levels and life experiences. On this journey, I met my partner Frankie who is another Art Center College of Design alumni and he had designed a beautiful bag and snowboard that was unique and so after many meetings and building a relationship we decided why not team up and create this together. What’s cool is that Frankie is a Millennial and Jason and I am are baby boomer/GenX, so there is a good combination especially since that is our target. Frankie is an awesome designer and can quickly prototype products when we brainstorm, mainly from his farm up north. He has designed a number of styles and accessories in development that are going to be pretty nice.

Support 8hz on Indiegogo

Part of the idea of building a brand was that I have always been attracted to art and graffiti and wanted to use this in the products, so I met Saber, a legendary graffiti artist in LA and we hit it off and started discussing different types of collaborations. He is very passionate, hard core, talented and stands behind a movement he believes in and I knew it was right especially when Frankie said he went to school after being inspired by Saber, so when I told him we would be partnering with him, he was floored. Saber is really more than just an artist, he is pretty savvy in the digital world and strategically connected, so this is more than just using his artwork, this is a long-term partnership.

After a year of building prototypes, finding a great local manufacturer in Ventura, and creating relationships we needed a marketing expert and another entrepreneur with experience, so I hooked up with Jason, who started a pioneering SEO and online marketing company back in the early 90’s. Jason is a deep thinker, very strategic and I totally trust him since we had worked together at URB-E and a few other ventures so it was pretty seamless, knowing what he brings to the table, then the three of us officially launched 8hz end of 2017. The other cool thing is he was born in Hawaii and is a big ocean lover too and has been to Midway island, which is one of the areas that was affected by all the plastics in a dramatic way. The bottom line for everyone is there passion and drive for the environment and wanting to make an impact and we all have a story, but we all know we can do better and this venture allows us to put it all together.

We have some other creatives that are helping such as TC, an awesome animator.

With so many products you could have made, why choose the travel bag as the first product to be released?

Good question, like we need another bag right? There is probably no right answer, but like most people we use all types of bags and we all personally needed this type of bag that we didn’t find on the market where it was a travel bag we can take for the weekend or longer but also use it for work. When you compare our fabric to virgin polyester, there is a 75% lower carbon footprint, so this was one of the deciding factors to make a product using this fabric that was beautiful, yet sustainable as possible. Bags was better than apparel especially when using the recycled polyester since we are not wasting bags or much fewer than apparel which would wash off micro plastics into the system.

We are currently testing 3D printing of parts and products made from 90-100% recycled material. This will enable us to custom for consumers and build anything. We are also testing with other plastics and molding to make consumer products, but trying to make products that you don’t need to wash is a factor.

Our fabric we use is made from 23 recycled plastic bottles, but let’s clarify that, not all of these come from the ocean, they are mainly collected from from the streets and recycling centers and we partner with an amazing fabric manufacturer called Waste2Wear that is owned by a dutch woman entrepreneur. Once we start to use the 3D printed parts, the recycled material % will go up.

You are donating 8% of net profits to ocean related causes? Do you know who those nonprofit partners will be yet?

Yes, our first official partner is 5gyres a local org in LA. They are an awesome organization deeply rooted in the oceans and research. There are a few others globally as well that we are talking to but quality over quantity for impact. Work local, impact global right now.

What does the name 8-hz represent and why that name?

8hz comes from the Schumann resonance, the “beat” of the planet, an electromagnetic field surrounding the earth that connects all humans. I love numbers and 8 is a magic number, it also represents numbers from the Fibonacci sequence, which I studied in design school and how it is derived from nature. It is also related to brain waves, meditation and a lot more, but I think that might be deep enough! Why not do something with deeper meaning that is related to the earth, animals and people, and I love the look of it in a simple iconic way.

The Key To Winning Funding For Your Startup

This article originally appeared https://lunarmobiscuit.com.

The reality of funding is that very few startups receive any funding from Angel investors or venture capitalists.

Each year, over 500,000 companies are started in the United States.

Of these, venture capitalists invest in fewer than 1,000 per year, and Angels and Angel Group in roughly another 30,000 startups.

What these numbers tell us is that, at most, only six percent of all startups receive any funding from these sources. The deeper reality is that the actual numbers are probably even lower.

Why lower?

Most “venture-backed” startups have previously been funded by Angels, and most Angel-backed startups receive investments from multiple Angel groups, all of which causes some double-counting in these statistics. Thus, the true odds of any startup being funded by Angels or VCs is likely closer to three percent than six.

This is certainly not how it seems from reading the newspaper or startup blogs. Or from listening to the frenzy of entrepreneurs, who expect that funding is available for every entrepreneur who asks for it.

So don’t start your companies with an expectation that such funding will follow. The odds are against you.

Instead, go back to the first statistic, noting that the vast majority of the 500,000 startups manage to get up and running without any Angel or venture capital funding, using savings, friends and family, and little else in terms of funding.

That big number includes all the corner stores, landscaping companies, dry cleaners, supermarkets, etc., plus the myriad of consultants, accountants, and other independent contractors who incorporate their businesses. Such companies allow the owner and employees to earn a living but usually do not make a fortune.

Those companies are the majority, not the exception.

The exceptions are the startups that are funded by Angels and VCs. The exceptions turn $1 million into $100 million. That is the reason why companies that raise money are covered by the newspapers, magazines, and blogs. Those deals are rare and, thus, news!

So what is different about the 20,000-30,000 startups that are funded by Angels and venture capitalists?

Why do they receive funding while hundreds of thousands of others do not?

The reality is that successful funding often comes down to networking.

Interpersonal connections have more influence than the quality of the investment opportunity or terms of the deal.

For the venture capital investments, many of the startups are founded by second- or third-time entrepreneurs. These are people who have previously raised money from venture capitalists. In nearly all cases, the venture capitalists are investing in teams that are recommended by people the venture capitalists know and trust. These people are again often entrepreneurs who are running venture-backed startups or who come from professional Angels or the multitude of business accelerator programs.

For companies raising money from individual Angels, the connection between the entrepreneur and Angel most often comes from someone known to both people. For Angel Groups, the easiest way to get past the screening committee is to know either someone on that committee or someone elsewhere in the management of the Angel Group.

Ultimately, investors are trusting the entrepreneur with their money, and thus, underneath the whole process, a relationship needs to be created. Hence, existing relationships often take precedent over all other factors in a potential investment. Which then boils down to the old adage, who you know is more important than what you know.

Ok now you know the key so you might want to check out How to Really Reach Out to an Investor (And Not Waste Their Time)

3 Ways Social Media Has Been Leveraged For Mass Collaboration

We live in a world that forces us to acknowledge the suffering of others, more now than at any time in human history.

Thanks to the omnipresence of social media sites and apps, John Donne’s adage, “No man is an island,” is more meaningful than ever before.

In a season of back-to-back crises featuring destructive hurricanes and earthquakes arriving with assembly line frequency — as well as ongoing civil wars sending waves of refugees abroad — social media sites and apps have become tools for driving awareness, coordinating relief efforts and emergency response, and steering donations.

On-Site Reportage

Serious coverage, such as in Houston during Hurricane Harvey or in the Florida Keys during Irma, was occasionally hindered by the nature of the 24-hour news cycle and its decisions on how to report the storms. The network news model remains a stale one with on-the-scene reporters and increasingly incoherent coverage on the progress of the storm, minute by minute, hour after hour.

As helpful as some of the information presented can be, it often fails to convey the real plight suffered by those caught up in the fury. Often, to cover a “human interest” angle, reportage gets hampered by items of comical activity such as water skiing down a flooded highway or people getting knocked over by 6-foot waves. The prevalence of such images, especially when posted on trusted news sources, can only serve to trivialize and downplay serious threats to life and limb.

The reality of the recent hurricanes and their destructive aftermath could best be understood through status updates and tweets and live video feeds using apps such as Instagram and Periscope. Such apps served to inform others of the progress of the storm through their communities and the havoc wrought by wind, rain and wave.

Even during mass shooting situations, such as the Pulse nightclub attack in Orlando, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat were used to post information to the public at large as the attack was being carried out. In the aftermath, friends and family could hear word from survivors that they were safe and found secure shelter.

Checking In

As mentioned before, social media updates and live videos allowed for family members to know if survivors of an incident found safety or were rescued.

Facebook developed “Safety Check” in 2014, a status update function on its site used in the event of a disastrous situation. It’s activated when “enough people post about an incident.” If in the affected area, the user will get a prompt to go to Safety Check to let others know you are safe, as well as the safety of others you may know to also be in the area.

Safety Check was helpful in finding and directing survivors of the Paris terror attacks in 2015, and of the Manchester Stadium bombing this past May.

There was some criticism in the aftermath of the bombing when the feature was enabled two hours after the attack. Despite this hitch, friends and family were made aware of the safety of their loved ones. The usefulness of Safety Check has proven indispensable once the chaos subsides.

Digitizing Donations

As soon as the first images from a troubled area grab our attention, the empathic response kicks in: “There must be something I can do!”

As our phones are how we keep pace with events as they unfold, our response is dictated by how quickly we translate response into action.

One form of action is donations by text, where a text message is sent as directed and a percentage of your phone bill goes towards a targeted charity.

A significant number of monetary donations were sent this way in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake. After the Red Cross had set up a donate-by-text program, $43 million in donations were collected this way.

A CNN article cites a recent Pew Research Center study on mobile giving, in partnership with American Life Project, released a study based on interviews with 863 people who donated to Haitian relief that found that the donations were made on impulse, with three quarters stating that was the first time they’d ever donated using a text message.

There are an increasing number of apps that turn our daily interactions into charitable giving. Apps such as Tin Box, Share the Meal, and Donate a Photo make it second nature to donate charitably. Each app has its own unique approach to enabling users to act: Tin Box, as part of their effort as an intermediary between public, corporations, and charities, has users donate $1, that is sponsored by a corporate partner; Share the Meal, a UN World Food Program initiative, is “one hundred percent voluntarily funded” and directs funds to alleviate hunger in famine-wracked places; Donate a Photo, a Johnson & Johnson app, has users select a cause, share a photo, and Johnson & Johnson donates $1.

Crowdfunding has also proven to be a powerful fundraising tool. Some small businesses devastated after Hurricane Harvey were using KickStarter, GoFundMe, and other sites to bring attention to their difficulties encountered covering what insurance reimbursements couldn’t cover and finding the money to rebuild. Crowdfunding in most cases brought donations from mostly family and friends, as well as strangers willing to do their part in the recovery effort. With most people willing to make a transaction using a credit or debit card, donating can be as second nature as online shopping.

Crowdfunding is also a very popular way for celebrities and large corporations to build momentum for favorite charitable causes. On board for post-Hurricane Harvey crowdfunding, using the site YouCaring.com, were football player JJ Watts and his Houston Texan teammates, and the Houston Astros baseball team. Between their campaigns, they raised over $37 million. You can also find campaigns begun by pop star, Ricky Martin, for hurricane aid relief in Puerto Rico, and Mexican soccer players, Javier Hernández and Miguel Layún, running a campaign to aid Earthquake victims in Mexico on the site. These charities are also well on their way to reaching their goals. CrowdRise, a site that has recently partnered with GoFundMe, has performed fundraising duties for corporations such as Revlon, Viacom, and international aid groups, including UNICEF and Human Rights Campaign.

The fact that these sites are being used by major international aid organizations speaks to their growing importance in keeping funding channels flowing.

Facebook is determined not to be ruled out in the crowdfunding arena. It has been working to perfect the ability to steer users to causes whose ideals and goals are in harmony with theirs, as well as enable ad hoc fundraising. The “Fundraiser” function, much like page creation on Facebook, allows you to create a fundraising page, invite friends, and observe and manage donations as they come in.

Directing Rescue and Relief Efforts

Real-time reporting may inform the public as to the status of friends and loved ones, but updates can also be used to direct rescue efforts. An NPR report on rescue efforts noted how during Hurricane Harvey, the 911 system was overwhelmed to the point that volunteers created a Facebook group for those in need of rescuing to post to. Twitter blasts were also used to communicate information to local news media.

In the aftermath of the recent earthquakes in Mexico, volunteers out of Mexico City bridged the gap between victims and emergency resources. Teams of tech savvy citizens using Google tools created a database to coordinate services and supplies where they were needed, dispelling misinformation and confusion on the ground.

Helping Hands

Life on earth is obviously not without its hazards.

It can be expected that at any given time, any one of us will be affected by a disaster, man-made or natural.

Our technology is the one variable we have in navigating the tumult.

With social media and apps, we can let the whole world know the extent of the devastation, but we can also let our family and friends know we are safe. Charitable apps and sites let us inform survivors that we are touched by their situation and are willing to reach out with a helping hand.

More and more, we’re discovering how social media as an extension of rescue and recovery has been able to surmount the post-disaster confusion and chaos, allowing for first responders and volunteers to increase the range of their rescue efforts.

It is true that there can be drawbacks to social media use during disasters, such as misinformation and rumor. Over time, with developers learning from the data, these hurdles will be overcome. Social media is meant to build community and community awareness. As catastrophes make it clear how much we need each other, social media sites and apps will continue to prove their value in keeping us connected during an emergency.

Mass collaboration is an amazing concept with tremendous power. Once you have reached the masses you might want to know how to use your data for more impact. Check out How Can You Leverage Your Data Now for Better Growth and Impact

How Can I Matter?

how do i matter

Life. It’s saturated in mystery. The more you learn the more you realize how little we, as a species, really know.

But right now, we’re living during some very exciting times. Does every generation say that?

Regardless, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is happening as you read this. And, whether you know it or not, it will affect you.

This is the revolution of artificially-intelligent robots, self-driving cars, blockchain technology, neuro-technological brain enhancements, genetic editing.

The evidence of dramatic change is all around us and it’s happening at exponential speed.

This matters because it’s creating a tremendous amount of opportunity that never existed before. Opportunity for people just like you to design whatever life you desire.

But what will you do?

You were born.

You are here now.

You are part of it all.

“We are all connected; To each other, biologically. To the earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe atomically.” Neil deGrasse Tyson

So, yeah, you matter!

The decisions you make and actions you take, they all matter.

But how can you matter in a good way? To have purpose in this little life.

For Starters, Give Yourself Permission to Matter

I hate writing stuff like that because it always comes off as fluff BS. But it has to be said. Here’s why. Birth is like a lottery, who the hell knows what culture, area of the world or family you will be born into.

If someone is born into a bad situation where year after year they’re neglected mentally and physically they will deeply struggle to see their self-value. They can still be successful, hyperactivity fills the void, but at the same time that person can be completely destroyed inside due to lack of self-value.

You have to see the bigger picture and acknowledge that nobody can replace you. You are part of something bigger and you do matter. Nobody can take that from you.

Just give yourself permission to matter so you can take action and you’re already on a new trajectory.

Tap Into Your Story

If you want to have a meaningful life you have to get to know yourself. I’m talking about inner exploration.

It’s essential to understand your own life story to start uncovering your path or purpose. Whatever you want to call it. The idea is to get on the right track so you can do something meaningful.

A process we use for this in our mentorship program is called self-inventory.  We break down the story into key motivational factors and life pillars.

Below is a quick example of the life pillars.

How you interpret the events of your life impacts how you see yourself and the world around you.

Not only is it meant to help you reflect on your life and develop a positive and meaningful life story but it also helps you understand what is most important to you. It’s a guiding light.

Are you on the right track?

Foster Great Relationships

This requires a full book to really cover the topic but let me drop some key insights to demonstrate why it’s so important.

When people have a baby it changes their world. It gives them purpose. They matter to that little bundle of joy who relies on their care. It’s a beautiful thing.

Putting the effort out to create positive relationships not only drives your success in life but you matter to people and it’s the key to your happiness.

Let me back that up. There was a 75 year study by Harvard that found the 1 secret to living a fulfilling life. Can you guess what it was? Duh, it’s good relationships! They make you happier and healthier.

Don’t be shy or lazy. Stay connected, build new relationships. Help others do better in life. Offer your care and services.

Be of value to the people you engage with around you.

Do Work That Matters and Use Your Time Wisely

We interviewed Tony Robbins for Change Creator Magazine and he said something that just stuck in my mind.

“The most sacred gift that you can give, besides your love, is your labor. So find something that you’re here to play for that’s more than just yourself.” Tony Robbins

Tony is an incredible inspiration and his book Awaking the Giant Within is a one that I highly recommend.

There is one thing in this world you cannot get more of – time!

How you spend that time is important to your fulfillment and the world.

We have families and bills and sometimes feel stuck doing shit work to manage those things. You’re a rockstar already for taking one on the chin and doing what you got to do, but guess what, if you want, you can still get on a track to wake up pumped to do something that actually matters to you and a lot of others.

Is it easy to make the transition, no. Is it worth it, hell yes!

Remember what I said in the beginning of this article about the fourth revolution and more opportunity than ever? There has never been a better time to create your own unicorn life that gives back to society and makes cash.

Don’t have experience doing what you want to do? Start volunteering on the side, get a side gig, take a new job with a social enterprise playing the space you want to be in. The hard truth is that you usually have to straddle two jobs for a while to make a transition.

You might say, I don’t have any time. Don’t have time…or won’t make time? Do me a favor and track your TV time everyday for 2 weeks and let me know how many hours. Or let me know what time you get up and sleep. I woke up everyday at 330-4am to do side hustle work, then took a train from Philly to New York City for work. Came home at night, went to gym, spent time with my family, and repeated next day.

Ask yourself this question? Are you on the path to become who you want to be 10 years from now?

If you say no, then decide to start making changes now to change your path.

When the pain of not doing something about your life becomes worse than doing something to make a change, you will start your process.

Conclusion

You already matter to the world but what you decide to do every day will determine the way in which you matter to the world and yourself.

The world needs you to spend your time wisely.

I write this article with a lot of passion and honesty. These are things that I have lived and heard from some of the top thinkers in the world.

I’m sharing them now to inspire you to live your truth and find more happiness through the actions you take and the way you see the world.

Share this with someone you think might like a little motivation today. Together, we can change the world!

[earnist ref=”leadership-of-tomorrow-with-se” id=”33616″]

What Is the One Thing I Can Do to Seem More Confident Around Powerful People?

What Is the One Thing I Can Do to Seem More Confident Around Powerful People?

This is one of the most popular questions we get here at Change Creator. With all the major influencers out there, it can be quite intimidating to start a business, a movement — or both.

A lot of you have told us that you feel you suffer from impostor syndrome.

Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. (Definition from Wikepedia.)

Impostor syndrome should never hold you back from making the world a better place, from starting that business that you are deeply passionate about, or from getting out there and starting a movement.

We’ve all had those moments of doubt and insecurities. All of us have been there, but you know what? We all had to start somewhere too.

Let’s face it. Life is an exciting adventure, right? You never have to stop learning if you don’t want to.

If you want to, you can enjoy every bumpy adventure along the way in your journey, including those times when you feel like a full-fledged imposter.

If you don’t want to feel like an amateur (even, if by definition, you are), what is the one thing you can do to seem more confident around powerful people?

The answer is simple:

Be curious.

Curiosity is the one trait that I see in every, single big-time success story.

If you want to mix and mingle with the ‘big wigs’, just be curious. Ask questions! Be genuinely curious in what they are doing instead of rushing in to brag about the work you are doing!

A genuine curiosity will take you far in life. Don’t just take this advice from me, this shit is the real deal. In fact, Dale Carnegie talks about this principle in his classic, powerful book: How to Win Friends and Influence People.

My dad made me read this book when I was 12. Yes, 12. Thanks, dad! I have probably re-read it a dozen times since. It is a true classic. One of the principles Carnegie talks about is the art of conversations (often with super powerful people). His advice is to let them talk more than you talk. People will go away feeling that you really listened to them, that you had an amazing conversation if you just let them talk about what they got going on.

I would add, don’t just listen. Be curious. Ask questions. Ask advice. Don’t be afraid that you will look naive, or underqualified — your genuine curiosity will overcome that anyway.

Let’s face it. We all start somewhere. If you are not where you want to be in life, that’s okay. You can get there. Building solid relationships with others is vital. Sometimes you’ll be in a room with some serious heavy-hitters. You can overcome that feeling of dread, and inadequacy with one genuine moment of curiosity.

So get out there folks! You can do it!

How to Really Reach Out to an Investor (And Not Waste Their Time)

This article was written by Luni Libes and originally posted at https://lunarmobiscuit.com.

Putting yourself in the other person’s shoes is sometimes hard, especially when you are a first-time entrepreneur and you are reaching out to an investor.  Here are a few tips to help:

1- Wasting time.

If your words make you sound like you’ll be a waste of time, most investors will not even both to reply to you.  If your words are in fact wasting time, those words might not even be read.

Here’s the opening paragraph of a message I received on LinkedIn:

Its my pleasure connecting with you . Actually I have a very good Business Project & looking for investor. It has been brought to my attention that you are a strong investor. I have been told of several businesses that got their start with your backing. At present, I am seeking investor help for my project, the business project which I have has a great demand & a very good prospect & as well as very much profitable.

And another:

Let me take this moment to thank you from the bottom of my heart for accepting my invitation.I’m working on my product MVP which would complete by December 2017 using Agile scrum approach. It’s going to be an Artificial Intelligence (AI) based social media and search engine. At the moment, I have hired a UX/UI designer to develop logo and wireframe. Needless to say, I’m spending my own $money to create an MVP for investors like you. I have prioritized the features based on product market fit pyramid and performed an extensive features mining exercise with my team.

2- Build excitement.

You are so excited about your startup (or project) that you are taking the time to reach out to others.  Remember that they don’t share that excitement.  They’ve no idea what you are doing.  Before you ask them to do anything, and anything includes clicking on a website or opening an attachment, get them excited.

Does this message make you want to click the link?

Hello, my static (teaser) website is live. www.w.com. Hope, everything is great at your end. I will reach out to you if you are okay for your invaluable suggestions and input(s).Thanks.

Does this message make you want to open the attachment?

I would like to send you a proposal that is solely based on positive social impact. It has a business side to it, but then the proceeds go towards sustaining social project. Please have a look it when you have time and let me know what your thoughts are about it.

3- Provide details.

You competition for my attention is every other startup on the planet that falls within my area of interest, and my interests are broad.  The entrepreneurs who get that attention tell me something about what they are doing before asking to talk.

This doesn’t work:

Thx for joining Hope we can get in touch the next days.

Neither does this:

Thanks for accepting my invite. Looking over your profile, it shows me that you’re a leader. Let me ask you, are you open to looking at new exciting opportunities? If you’re open, let’s have a short phone conversation.

4- Area of Interest.

Every investor has areas of interest, and it’s a waste of both your time and theirs to pitch something that is obviously not a fit.

We are creating a decentralized Blockchain OTC (Over-the-Counter) Investment platform and would like to collaborate with you. Our Whitepaper and introduction video are available on our website www.io

I do understand that LinkedIn makes recommendations for connections, and that it is easier to click on all of those vs. reading who the people are and what they are interested in, but connecting to me only to pitch me a blockchain or mobile app is not a good use of time.

Problem / Solution / Ask.

The proper way to pitch is to start by explaining what problem you are solving.  Then given some details on the solution.  Then and only then make an ask.

An example of an entrepreneur doing this correctly:

My organization is tackling unemployment in South Africa.  The plan is to set up a Youth Development Center using shipping Containers where we will: teach custom build furniture using recycled pallets. Refurbish computers for computer classes. Have a pottery studio , a sewing studio, welding machine, a community kitchen.

An example of a fellow ecosystem builder:

I am active within Maine’s growing Entrepreneur/Mentoring community and would like to discuss many of the areas we have in common. I believe there is a potential for some synergies and hope we can grab some time on either Monday or Tuesday next week.

In both cases, note how they managed to provide enough details within one paragraph.  That’s really all it takes.  One well-crafted paragraph to explain what you do, to build the tiniest bit of interest and excitement by the recipient.  Just enough to get them to agree to the meeting.

I’ve worked with hundreds of entrepreneur and know that brevity doesn’t come naturally to most people, and that the style of writing taught in schools isn’t this style.  Sometimes what you need to do is forget what you were taught in school, get to the point, and do that in as few words as possible

Why Great Entrepreneurs Are NOT Normal

What is a great entrepreneur?

There are many rich entrepreneurs who have built crazy big businesses but that does not make them great.

A great entrepreneur, in my opinion, is someone that has the ability to innovate a financially successful business model around something that truly matters to them and the planet. That’s the magic and the future of business.

An example is Alasdair Harris. He won and award at from the Skoll World Forum for business, Blue Ventures, and was on the cover of Change Creator Magazine.

Harris was a scientist looking for a solution to overfishing and conservation in Madagascar. The locals livelihoods relied on fishing. He needed funding to test his conservation ideas and the locals thought his ideas were nuts. He reluctantly started the for-profit business Blue Ventures to create a sustainable revenue model that funded his mission. Now he has scaled his conservation efforts around the world.

But, why do I say great entrepreneurs are anything but normal?

Well, what is normal?

I find it odd that we live in world where everyone fights to be more normal because being normal gets us nowhere.

Normal is typically whatever a culture defines it to be.

In some cultures it’s normal to stack rings around your neck to stretch it out as much as you can.

In China it was normal to bind women’s feet so they don’t grow.

And today, it’s normal around the world to build a business for the sole purpose of profit at any cost.

Normal Behavior is For Mundane People

Doing what everyone else does is normal. But you can’t do what everyone else does and expect different results and definitely not greatness.

You’re told to color inside the lines but a great entrepreneur sees no lines or they see them and just don’t care.

They explore by pushing new boundaries. That’s how the next big disruption is discovered.

The daily routine of someone training for the Olympics and not something most could ever even bare for a few days. It’s not normal but it’s necessary to achieve something great. They think different and they act different.

Mallika Dutt was the founder of Breakthrough and I love her story because she had the courage of a lion and was like David standing up to Goliath.

Her big mission was to change how people thought about and treated women in India. Her solution was to create a pop culture music video with a message so it would reach the masses.

She was actually able to get Virgin Records on board to help with the video but they told her that nobody wanted to hear a song about abuse of women. They said it would fail so they would not pay for the development of the video, unless she changed it. She stuck to her guns and found another way to fund the video.

The music video was a great success and hit the top 10 charts in India. She also won an award for social entrepreneurship from the Skoll Foundation.

You have to be OK with being called crazy and you have to believe in ideas even when others don’t.

How about Maggie Doyne? After high school she woke up one day and decided to skip the whole college thing. She flew to Nepal and became passionate about orphan care.

She decided to take all her babysitting money she saved over the years and buy a small piece of land so she could pursue her dream of creating her own children’s home and orphanage.

Maggie Doyne went from a teenager with a backpack to building a successful foundation and beacon of hope for the children and women of Kopila Valley.

Normal Business is Bad Business

Every year a company must make more money to beat the previous year’s numbers. That means to sell more stuff which means to use more resources.

If I was Poland Springs that would mean taking more water from communities to package it up in more plastic bottles that fill our oceans and never go away. Ok maybe I hate plastic water bottles, they are the devil, but that’s me.

When the focus is to make as much profit as possible that’s when business practices go sour because it drives bad decision making which neglects people and planet.

A great example is, planned obsolescence – when a company basically makes crap with limitations so it breaks down or needs to be replaced regularly. This keeps people buying. Yeah, it’s a real thing.

Maybe you have kids and found that small pieces of toys tend to fall apart rather quickly and you have to buy more stuff.

Or you noticed that something breaks just after the warranty expires. Oops, that wasn’t on purpose, or was it?

Consider smartphones. Often discarded after a mere couple years’ use, their screens or buttons break, batteries die, or their operating systems, apps, and so on can suddenly no longer be upgraded. But a solution is always nearby: brand new models, pumped out every year or so, and touted as “the best ever”.

Can we make things last, yes, if we want to.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not just that corporations are being devious and greedy. There’s a consumer culture at hand too that makes the demands. We want cheaper, new and more. Of course, that culture was bread by corporations. You’ve never been manipulated though, right (devious laugh now)?

Yes, there is argument about jobs and economy but none of that matters when the planet we rely on is going to shit.

So while people do get more of the things they want we have to look at what the true cost is of our normal approach business is.

Conclusion

Being normal is relative and will only give you normal results. Don’t let others dictate your path and determine your destiny because progress counts on you breaking the norm.

Doing what is normal will just keep giving us the same results.

Changing the world to create a brighter future requires new radical people and ideas that push the boundaries.

So please, let your weird crazy side go wild and rebel against the norm.

Saving Women’s Lives: How Nomi Network is Taking on Modern-Day Slavery

I found out about Nomi Network because I lived a block away from co-founder Alissa Ayako Williams from 2011 to 2013. She shared with me and other neighbors ways we could be abolitionists in the fight against modern-day slavery: purchasing slave-free goods, donating to organizations working against slavery and raising awareness about human trafficking. I visited the Nomi Network pop-up holiday shop at Union Square in Manhattan then and have since collected an array of their products made by women who have survived or are at risk for human trafficking.

Why I Choose Nomi Network

I am also adding items from Nomi Network to my merch table when I have solo music gigs. By connecting workers, designers, retailers, and consumers, Nomi Network is chipping away at the problem of the horrific $150 billion illegal industry of trafficking 46 million people through their presence in urban Cambodia, in rural India, and at conferences concerned with the impact of the global fashion industry.

“You have all heard that it takes a village to raise a child, I believe it takes a network to end modern-day slavery.” Diana Mao, Co-Founder and President.

Having sourced recycled materials from its beginnings, one of Nomi Network’s newest product lines features accessories made from upcycled tires in Cambodia.  Although the country has more of the natural resource rubber than it has tire manufacturing facilities, scrap tires can serve as breeding grounds for disease-causing mosquitoes and present a risk of long-burning fires that pollute the air, soil, and water.

Each item in the collection is handmade and preserves the grooves and unique patterns of wear from the tires. According to Princy Prasad, Nomi Network’s sales manager,

“My personal favorite aspect of the collection is that we do not alter it at all…. An item once discarded, but suddenly [it] gets a second life. That is the best kind of recycling.”

Rubber is part of Cambodia’s long history of agricultural trade. The first centuries of Cambodia’s history included irrigated rice-growing, rule by Buddhist or Hindu kings, and commerce and power struggles with China, Thailand, and Vietnam.  The country was a French protectorate from 1863-1953. France established rubber plantations in eastern Cambodia in the 1920s. Similar to Cambodia’s ancient regional commercial relationship, policies and investment from China, Thailand, and Vietnam significantly impact the contemporary rubber industry.

My Nomi Traction Zip Pouch

Although rubber continues to be the country’s second-biggest export (after rice), fluctuating prices in recent years have led to clearing land for new rubber plantations in areas previously used for growing food and ecological conservation. Creating plantations and processing the rubber increase the amount of carbon and nitrous oxide in the air. This dramatic change in land use has led to disagreements between villagers living in or near potential sites for new plantations, foreign and domestic business owners, and government authorities.

As of 2011, rubber maintained a consistent place among Cambodia’s industries, while textile, wearing apparel, and footwear manufacturing had overtaken all sectors except agriculture. There are currently 600,000 Cambodian workers in the garment industry.  The government and the International Labour Organization are collaborating to improve wages and working conditions. Yet, some of these workers are victims of human trafficking.

Human Trafficking in Cambodia: A Short History

The poverty that causes human trafficking in Cambodia dates back to 1970s. After gaining peaceful independence from France in 1953, Cambodia became entrenched in the Cold War, climaxing during the Vietnam War with violence between the government’s Khmer Republic and the communist Khmer Rouge. When the Khmer Rouge took power, they killed 1.7 million people and expelled city residents to rural agricultural work.

Although the Khmer Rouge was overthrown in 1979, the 1980s were filled with guerilla warfare between opposing factions as human and economic systems languished. Through U.N. support starting in 1991, a three-party coalition government was established in 1993. The new millennium began with tensions continuing among the political parties as Khmer Rouge leaders were tried for genocide and crimes against humanity. Although the government passed a series of initiatives for labor, industrial development, women’s empowerment, and social protections by 2015, executing them all is a complex and long-term process.

Meanwhile, every stage of human trafficking happens in Cambodia: victims are taken from, taken through, and taken to the country. 201,000 Cambodians are in forced labor, predominantly as fishermen, garment workers, domestic workers, and sex workers. While policies exist to reduce trafficking, local enforcement varies, and the majority of work for survivors is done by NGOs.  Nomi Network is one of them.

Nomi Network

Co-Founders Diana Mao, Alissa Ayako Williams, and Supei Liu named Nomi Network after an eight-year-old survivor of sex trafficking they met in Cambodia. The non-profit launched in 2009 to provide training and job opportunities for survivors and women at risk of trafficking.

Their first partnership with an organization serving these women employed 23 in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. By 2012, they grew to support 80 women and established a product line with tote bags and electronics cases made from recycled rice sacks.

Their model continued to partner with shelters for survivors and social enterprises, employing 400 in Phnom Penh in 2014 as they provided training in design, quality control, and marketing. The next year, they assisted more organizations in developing product lines and investing in equipment.

Some of my favorite Nomi products.

In 2016, their offices in Cambodia began to include a comprehensive in-house education program: Nomi International Fashion Training Program. It helps workers refine their skills in reading and executing spec sheets as well as providing classes for entrepreneurs in market access, logistics, and personal development. The program also hosts networking events between U.S. retailers and Cambodian social enterprises. Nomi Network is positioning themselves to foster Cambodians not only as well-paid and well-treated producers of garments but as fashion industry leaders.

Since 2012, Nomi Network has also worked extensively in Bihar, India, a state where the caste system has significantly contributed to the 70% poverty rate.

“When a woman leaves our programs, we want them to be able to stand on their own two feet, with the tools and resources we provide. The same goes for how we work…because we hope that instead of adding to the carbon footprint, greenhouse gases, or negative impact…we change it with the positive and support a business that ushers in that change.” Princy Prasad, Sales Manager.

Helping to raise awareness and make money.

In addition to their job training, the online marketplace, and pop-up shops, Nomi Network raises awareness and advocates for ending modern-day slavery and for making supply chains sustainable. They present about forced labor, child labor, and supply chain transparency to major retailers and brands. They have sponsored a design competition at Parsons School of Design in which students design products using recycled materials and ethical production methods. They have led discussions at the UN, the White House, and the Concordia Summit.

Although less than 10 years old, Nomi is stopping generational cycles of poverty. Women whose families once sold or threatened to sell them are able to earn a living and keep their children in school. Workers have consistent livelihoods and a few have earned enough to attend college. Thousands of people have been impacted by their training and advocacy.

A few more of my personal favorite Nomi products.

If you want to buy one of their products, check out this beautiful pillow now!

Can Artificial Intelligence Make Your Team Even More Awesome? (3 Tips)

technology trends

This article was originally written by Jennifer Riebli and published on B the Change.

My uncle once claimed he could magically tell you the day of the week if you gave him any calendar date (day, month and year). He said he could visually see the answer in his head and swore he didn’t have any quick calculation or trick. My father was skeptical. He bet my uncle $100 that he could develop an algorithm to do the same.

The next day, my father produced a page of calculations that, lo and behold, would produce the correct answer. I was in awe; my uncle was not as impressed. But, my dad still won the money.

Understanding What AI is

Algorithms have been around for thousands of years and are an essential and critical element behind artificial intelligence (AI). Algorithms are structured, step-by-step instructions, and computers are excellent in using algorithms at exceptional speeds. Scientists discovered that computers are not only fast with completing the calculations, but that they can also “learn” from them.

This is what’s called “machine learning,” which is a subset of AI. People give the system a goal and provide feedback along the way — an error for wrong behavior and a reward for favorable outcomes. Through these reinforcement signals, the system is able to “learn” an optimal approach to achieve the desired goal.

Because computers have the ability to scan vast amounts of data, process calculations and assess probabilities at lightning speeds, machine learning is quickly proving to be an incredible advancement that will tremendously impact our lives.

3 Way AI Can Help With Team Success

Workplace learning — the ongoing leadership and skills development that takes place within a company—could stand to greatly benefit and improve with the right applications of AI. Here are a few three key ways I predict AI and machine learning will positively impact the experience of employees as learners:

1. Personalized and More Effective Learning Experiences

For many years now, the learning industry has touted the advantages of a more personalized learning experience. Now, with AI, this can be realized. Supported by back-end machine learning delivered through speech recognition and more intelligent user interfaces, the learner can experience more adaptation and tailoring to their specific needs and preferences.

Computers can do the behind-the-scenes data analysis and provide real-time feedback during a training experience, modifying a course path based on progress and response. Tests and quizzes can adapt to the learner’s inputs and intelligently recommend a tailored curriculum path. The learner gets a more efficient and personalized experience. Imagine: No more sitting in a five-day class if all the learner needs is just a portion of it.

2. Training Reinforcement

Surprisingly, we still don’t do a great job in training reinforcement. Yet, reinforcing the learning after a training event is critical to learning retention. (See my article on effortful recall for more details.) This is where machine learning and AI can make tremendous strides where humans have fallen short.

We don’t take time to reinforce learning — but computers can do it for us! Already, intelligent apps and systems are popping up in the marketplace that offer this. Like reminding us to take our vitamins, intelligent systems can engage us and help reinforce training, helping make the learning “stick” and increasing overall learning effectiveness as a result.

3. Measuring Effectiveness and ROI

Organizations have also failed in the area of measurement. With AI, we will have no excuse. Intelligent systems will be able to easily and quickly scan large quantities of data and pull from multiple sources, not just online assessments and course surveys. By correlating on-the-job activity in different existing systems with training programs, and even by matching employee profiles to create “buddy systems” and mentorships, AI will be able to help us modify training programs based on success and failure points. This will continuously improve the learning experience, so employees and trainers can focus on learning that actually produces results.

Make More Time for Meaningful Connection

All of these potential advancements will free up time for a company’s team that handles learning and development to focus on human interactions with employee-learners and think of new innovations and ideas in learning. The best strategy: Determine where computers and systems can automate the tedious tasks and analytics, so the team can provide more valuable human interactions with learners.

The potential is not far from reach: Different systems and authoring tools are already working to incorporate elements of machine learning. In addition, IBM WatsonGoogle Cloud PlatformAWS and others are providing developers with the ability to leverage these technologies to develop AI apps and engines that can feed into existing learning and development systems.

As David Clark, a senior research scientist at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, says, “I like to consider [in using AI]…what problem needs a solution.” I believe making learning more personalized, reinforced and measured are three key “problems” or areas where machine learning, AI, and all the algorithms behind the two can make a huge impact in workplace learning. And, this would ultimately improve productivity and free up time and space for humans to focus on new ideas, innovations and each other.

My father would be proud of the advancements in AI and machine learning, and I know he would gladly hand over his algorithms to a computer. As a teacher himself, he’d say he preferred the human interactions over the time-consuming grading and tedious administrative tasks that kept him from focusing on new ideas and ways to inspire and teach.

I predict that AI won’t replace the teachers, but teachers who find ways to embrace AI will outlast, and be more effective and satisfied in their work, than those that don’t.

You might want to check out, If You Have a Great Team and Want to Keep Them, Here’s What You Need to Know

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How Media Empire Bustle Is Empowering Women

bustle media

The world rotates on its axis by the power of stories.

Words, and the connection they foster, can annihilate loneliness, cure trauma, and even diffuse oppression.

When Martin Luther King penned his dream, he did so through the language of intimacy and compassion—two of the most powerful drivers for change.

When Lincoln pleaded for equality, he used a narrative of acceptance. Mandela, Gandhi, and Churchill were masters of storytelling, too, and their words changed the very pulse of their nations.

Today, everyone in the western world who wants a voice can have one—and it’s only a modem away. In a post-internet world, even the smallest of voices can bring change.

One of the most enduring challenges of the first world is gender-based oppression. The more voices contribute to the feminist zeitgeist, the weaker oppression becomes. When Bryan Goldberg chose to become a part of that change, he decided a small voice would not be good enough. He wanted to create the loudest voice for millennial women, by millennial women, and so he did. That voice is carried by Bustle.com, a platform that’s unpretentious enough to put Harry Potter teams and feminism in the same story, but not gentle enough to oppose bigotry where it finds it.

The site isn’t satisfied to merely use words. It gives women without writing backgrounds a doorway into digital journalism, adding to a chorus that’s quickly becoming the title role. Bustle reaches 80 million unique readers a month—a triumph of language, certainly, but also one of entrepreneurial spirit.

The Dude in the Back Seat

Goldberg’s leadership style began to evolve with his 180 million dollar baby, Bleacher Report. By giving his fans a platform alongside his editorial staff, he managed to build a readership while working a day job. The user base became a ubiquitous part of the site, which ultimately sold to Time Warner for a small fortune.

He had to take a seat even further towards the back for Bustle. He was, as the internet continuously reminds him, not in possession of two X chromosomes, and his feminist readership needed the nuance of an authentic women’s narrative.

Kate Ward is at the helm as Bustle’s editor in chief, and she’s built a fast-paced site with ‘round the clock coverage, which is dished out by three editors. Google loves fresh, organic content even more than readers do, so Ward’s dynamic edge fuels Bustle’s search engine rank as well.

As for Bryan, you’ll find him working on monetization, sponsorship, and his CEO role, proving that it is, indeed possible for a man to succeed in a woman’s world.

A New Face for Feminism

If you spend five minutes on Bustle, you’ll find posts on everything from Trump to sex positivity, consent to empowerment.

Third wave feminism is beginning to lose its scowl, and Bustle is bringing a dash of humour and lightness to the movement.

Some of the writing comes without the polish of experience, but this is one of its greatest assets: It is empowering the voices of tomorrow and creating the connection that’s such an inexorable part of globalized movements.

In so doing, Bustle has become more than merely a magazine, but a site that doesn’t betray its authentic voice and which contributes to the therapeutic powers of uniting narratives.

Money in a Poor Man’s World

Sales teams are expensive, and it takes time to build an audience large enough to support monetization. It took Bryan Goldberg only a year to build the few million readers needed to attract sponsorships.

Websites that put out a meagre post a day can take years to inch towards this point, so Bustle launched 40 stories a day at a time when the world was waking up from the dot com dream.

It took remarkable clarity of vision to grow the desired ethos without changing it. “We are who we said we are,” he says, “Always have been. Always will be.”

The Butterfly Effect

The butterfly effect says that even the smallest flutter can change the world.

Every Change Creator does what they do because they believe they can make a difference, but ambition is in short supply.

Why not a thousand fluttering butterfly wings? Hell, why not a million? This is precisely how Bryan’s strength of vision has pushed Bustle forward. Right from the start, Goldberg won $6.5 million in seed capital. His drive proved to the world that media could be scalable.

Stories unearth the great lessons of life. They melt division and extract truth. Even if you live in the most divided nation in the world, access to words can bring a sense of unity more pervasively than any alternative. There are thousands of butterflies in the feminist media industry, and Bustle is teaching them how to fly.

Read the Magazine:

If you found this article inspiring we highly recommend you dive deep into the the incredible feature story to learn their secrets to success in issue 13 of Change Creator Magazine. Subscribe here to read it for 4 weeks free!!

Listen to the interview:

After Growing Seven Companies Here’s a Harsh Reality Every Entrepreneur Should Know About Success

failure

Talk to enough entrepreneurs over enough years, and some patterns get repeated over and over and over again.  One of the most prominent is the expectation of success.

Not just the expectation of overall success, but the expectation that the current plan is going to work as planned.

It’s not.

I grown seven startups of my own, helped 73 others through Fledge accelerator, have been following startup stories for over 25 years, and have built my whole career around understanding how to build companies.

What I’ve yet to see is any company that succeeded with their Plan A.

Your Plan is Wrong

If there is a trick to being a successful entrepreneur, it’s in understanding that your plan is wrong.  That even when you “fix” it, it’s still wrong.

Finding where it’s wrong is your first-and-foremost job.

This is true for your business plan in general, and it’s also true for most every small task you are working on this week.

That newsletter you just sent out… the subject line could have been better.

The last sales call that didn’t end in a sale… there’s a better way to explain your offering.

Your website needs another round of edits or a redesign.  That last management meeting wasted a lot of time.  Etc. etc. etc.

In the last few years I’ve repeated the same basic conversation with a dozen different entrepreneurs.  The pattern was identical.  Their business did not perform up to their projections and expectation.  Because of that, they slowed down or stopped their communications with me and their other advisors.

They were embarrassed for not meeting their own expectations.

The Same Advice

Each time I gave them the same advice:

“I’m an entrepreneur too.  But what I know that what you are now learning is that plans don’t always go as expected.  In fact they never go as expected.  I know that if you are only telling me good news, then you are not telling me the whole truth.  Your investors know this too.  Every early-stage investor knows that things go wrong.  So what you need to do is brush yourself off, stop expecting nothing but success, and going forward tell us both the good news and bad, and ask us for help to overcome that bad news.”

This is a hard lesson to learn.

No one wants to fail.

No one plans to fail.

Yet ever success is full of small failures.

The difference between overall success and overall failure is whether you have enough persistence and resources to overcome these small failures, and whether you have your eyes open looking to prevent any big, company-killing failures.

Stop expecting success.  Start expecting failures.

If you want more we recommend you check out Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec’s One Key Rule For Success

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How to Start Your Business After a Career Setback: You Can Do It!

If you’ve recently experienced a career setback, such as a job loss or missing out on a promotion, you might be agonizing over what to do next. One option you might consider is starting your own business. It can be the best thing you’ll ever do to have a meaningful life. Here is how to start your business after a career setback!

If you’ve never pictured yourself as a successful entrepreneur, imagine what your life might be like if you were running your own business. Although it is a lot of work to start a new business, it can be deeply fulfilling work that gives you the freedom to live your dreams, spend more time with your family, and even travel the world.

Whatever you envision for your life, becoming an entrepreneur might end up being the best decision you could ever make. Before getting started, however, you’ll want to do some soul-searching to determine what type of business you’d like to start.

Related article: How to choose a social enterprise idea that will fire up your life

Some possible business ventures to consider:

Real estate.

Becoming a real estate agent is a valuable option for anyone looking to start a new business venture. Real estate is a personal practice which, according to Forbes, is a good choice for starting your own business. Personal practices tend to have a better chance at entrepreneurial success “because their growth can be managed.” This has certainly proven true for the real estate industry, which Sageworks reports to be one of the top three most profitable types of small businesses in America.

Computer services.

From computer repair to graphic and web design, this industry is booming. If you are tech savvy (or at least willing to learn), you can make good money in the computer services industry. In addition to not having a shortage of clients and customers, some fields – such as web development – allow you the freedom to potentially work remotely from home. This may be ideal if you like to travel the world or if you dream of spending more time with your family.

Accounting.

Accountants take the top spot on the list of most profitable industries for American business owners. It’s a secure, stable industry with money-making potential. If you’re good at crunching numbers and are familiar with tax laws, accounting might be a good choice.

How to get started.

Whether you want to be a life coach or a web designer, a real estate agent or a professional dog walker, here are some tips on how to get started:

Have a clear plan.

Create your own business plan and get crystal clear on your vision. Write down your business goals for the upcoming year. Determine a strategy for getting there. You might consider meeting with a business advisor, mentor, or coach for assistance. In many areas, the government provides free assistance and advice to new business owners. Visit www.sba.gov to see if you might be eligible.

Get funding early.

Overhead costs, or the amount of money it costs you to run your own business, will vary depending upon several factors, including your location and the type of work you do. For instance, a home-based web design business will have less overhead cost than a professional landscaping business.

If you’ll have to purchase special vehicles, equipment, or deal with other high overhead costs, you might want to secure funding for your business. Sources for funding might include pitching your idea to investors, using a crowdfunding website, or applying for grants from the government.

Get out of your own way.

Author, Mel Robbins says it only takes 5 seconds to change your life. Robbins says we already know deep within ourselves what we need to do to live our dreams. Stop coming up with excuses to stay in a situation that isn’t working. Instead, start taking real action towards your goal of running your own business.

Starting your own business might be just the change you need to get your career back on track. With some hard work, intention-setting, and action-taking, you can achieve business success and live the life you truly want.

If you need some help figuring out what you want to do, or how to get there, check out the Change Creator mentorship program!

Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec’s One Key Rule For Success

change creator robert herjavec

Have you ever looked or read about millionaires and thought about how they live and how they do their jobs?

Is there anything different that they do from “normal” people?

Is there something that we can learn from them?

Let me share with you one specific thing that everyone else does, but not the successful people. And if you want to become one, you must stop doing it.

Once you read this article, you will understand the difference in the mind set. You have to get rid of it as soon as possible; seriously, it can only cause harm to you.

So what is that? Believe it or not, it is COMPLAINING!

One of the golden rules Shark Tank cast member, Robert Herjavec, believes led him to success, as opposed to just working hard and having an idea, was that his dad taught him to not complain, no matter what, even in the worst of situations.

Seriously, it’s not likely that you’ll see many extremely successful people moping around complaining. Sure, they are successful millionaires; why would they complain? But here is something to think about: do they no complain because they are successful millionaires, or do they become millionaires because they don’t complain? What comes first?

Well, this is no longer a dilemma. In a book by T. Harv Eker “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind” published February, 2015, the author identifies a seemingly harmless daily habit average people engage in that the rich refuse to: complain! He was researching the concept of the “Millionaire Mind” and a collection of “mental attitudes that facilitate wealth,” and complaining was one of the primary habits that requires change in the mindset.

“When you complain, you’re focusing on what is wrong with your life — and what you focus on tends
to expand.” (T. Harv Eker)

His point is that successful people don’t spend too much time on failures. They fail (of course), learn the lesson from it and move on.

There’s no point in spending a vast amount of your energy thinking about “what if” scenarios. Past is in the past, and you should keep looking ahead. And to be honest, it makes sense. We live in a time where there are plenty of problems to complain about. On a global level, we live in a time where the unemployment rate is high, or some big corporation decided to move its operations off-shore, or there is global warming coming up, or there is major increase in population.

On a local level, you might have even more problems: no customers, company operational problems, liquidity, or change in the need of your market. (I am sure you can think of a large list of them.) But even on individual level, there is always something wrong, or that can done better: not enough time, hard to find the right partner, or not sure how you will survive until the end of the month. Seriously, I can build a large list of problems that we can all complain about.

Related: What Makes a Great Entrepreneur (One Powerful Expert Tip)?

Problem to Opportunity

Now comes the key concept – try to replace the word “Problem” with the word “Opportunity”. This switch in the mindset changes everything. The high unemployment rate is the perfect opportunity to start a service-oriented company and find good available employees. The challenge of global warming is full opportunity to find a solutions that can help improve the planet (and allow you to make a living while doing so). Are you starting to get the point? Can you find a solution for some of the operational problems or the new opportunity in the market?

And even on an individual level, looking at the problems as opportunities gives you a different perspective. Can you now reflect on all your problems, and try to look at them as opportunities? If so, what changed from 15 minutes ago? Has this new “way of thinking” given you a new perspective in life? I truly hope so.
Now, how can this change your life?

Next time, when you think of complaining about something, think about this article, and stop. Reflect on what the problem is, and try to think of it as opportunity – what opportunities can emerge in order to solve your problem? Are there many other people who have the same problem? Can your solution help others as well?

If so, congratulations, you have a potential for good business. You have the power to actively observe the environment around you, and try to find problems that can be translated to opportunities. That is the “millionaire mindset” that you should pursue. If you look closely enough, you will notice many opportunities.

change creator - complaining

Observe

Now, sit down for a second, and give it some thought – what problems in your surrounding environment are worth your commitment, energy and devotion in order to solve them? Maybe something in healthcare, infrastructure, education or renewable energy? Will it make the world a better place to live, and does it have a market? That is the power of active observation.

Listen

But why stop here? Let’s take it a step further. In addition to your problems, have you thought about hearing other people’s complaints? People are a great source of information. Think about actively listening for other people’s complaints. What problems do they need solved?

They will complain a lot – and it is up to you whether you will join them, or start looking at them as opportunities for new solutions. Here is a quick, 4-step guide you should have in mind during conversations in order to actively listen for problems. The process should not take more than 30 seconds:

  • Actively listen to what other people complain about.
  • For each complaint, quickly try to think about what the problem is (the core of the problem, not a
    symptom).
  • If you found the problem, consider if there are many people with the same problem? Is it worth
    pursuing?
  • If yes, then you have a problem that needs to be solved. Write it down, and dedicate time to solve it as
    well as possible. If the solution is good, you have a product/service that satisfies a client’s needs.

If you’ve managed to transform a negative habit of complaining into active observation for problems in your surroundings, or active listening for opportunities from the people near you, you are a step higher on the self-development ladder. Here is my final advice. This requires frequent self-awareness of your thoughts in order to ensure progress and eliminate complaints.

Start keeping a diary, and write down all the complaints and problems that you come up with through your active observing or active listening. What problems have you identified? Write them down; one of those can be the next million dollar idea. This is what makes successful people different.

Related: What Makes a Great Entrepreneur (One Powerful Expert Tip)?

How Can You Leverage Your Data Now for Better Growth and Impact?

data use change creator

Even as a small business, you certainly have aspirations to expand and it might be a good idea to leverage your existing (and growing) data as well.

You probably already have a sizeable dataset and the key question is to what extent are you taking advantage of it or not at all – yet.

As a Change Creator, you most likely want to be cautious about your time and resources – what activities you invest in, spend your time on and what offers the best ROI (return on investment).

We are going to have a look at a few selected tools, which we believe should be contributing to data insights, which will subsequently have positive impact on your commercial objectives.

Which tools: simple use and commercial impact

First of all, you want to have a so-called 360 degrees view of your customer – some basic data about the customer or prospect, purchase history, record of previous phone conversations, etc.

When it comes to customer view, we would recommend a very user-friendly CRM (customer relationship management) system – Zoho CRM, which has a free version (very good actually) or if you want some more bells and whistles, it is about $30 USD per user/per month.

You literally just log in and start managing your accounts, contacts, leads, opportunities – no training needed, everything quite self-explanatory.

We have seen plethora of CRMs, but in terms of site navigation, usability and graphical interface, Zoho might probably be the best – and the price (free), of course = important fact to take into account.

If advanced reporting and dashboards is your thing, then you might want to consider a BI (business intelligence) system on top of CRM as well – for many Excel will do – however to be able to utilize the advanced features of Excel, you probably need to have a fair analyst skillset. If you have those skills, why not to avail of what Excel has to offer. This is an unlikely scenario though – you are an entrepreneur, wary of your time, focusing on revenue and not spending hours playing around with Excel – we just wanted to highlight the fact that the functionality is there.

In terms of BI tools, there is almost endless choice in the marketplace – here would probably highlight Tableau, the market leader, having a fantastic GUI (graphical user interface), focused on business user – time-to- value, user- friendliness = all the good things we like, as entrepreneurs. Also offering a free version.

It might be worthwhile to think how much time you spend managing your email – it usually takes a considerable portion of an entrepreneur’s time.

Email is not going away and that is not what we are trying to suggest here, however you might consider a complementary tool to reduce the time you spend on your email and leverage a collaboration tool called Slack – it helps to simplify your commercial communication.

You can create multiple groups, perhaps one being internal company one, another one with your partners or customers. So instead of sending that size-able proposal via email – why not to simply attach it via Slack and share it = saving time and resources.

As suggested previously, there is an infinite selection of technology tools today – however be watchful how many you get involved with – before you know, you will have ten different passwords for ten different tools, which is probably not what you are after.

Thus, we recommend the business instruments above – particularly Zoho, which actually offer certain business intelligence and reporting insights as well – so you would have one place to go to. It might not be sufficient for you though, thus we also mentioned the other two tools – Slack and Tableau.

The good news is that they all have free version – just go online and start playing around with these. You will see what works best for you personally, so that you make the right choice – hopefully some of these tools will bring new customer insights and knowledge – followed by new revenue streams, which is what we are all after.

Related: Russell Brunson: How to Build a Loyal Audience and Fund Yourself

Your business processes and culture – aim for better collaboration = faster commercial success

Now, we had a closer look at ZohoCRM, Slack and Tableau, which are the tools we have selected for your ongoing business success.

There is a popular word, perhaps little bit of a buzzword – alignment – important keyword though, which will be an umbrella for our discourse today – how to collaborate even better, how to connect the tools with your existing business processes and culture.

Let us assume that your business is not the size of IBM or HP – your business processes are unlikely to have the complexity, which the above mentioned behemoths have.

Still though, there is never enough of processes optimization and we believe it is always good to challenge the existing status quo with the objective to run things in a best possible way.

You probably want to think about how much time you and your team members spend daily and weekly on email, how fruitful are your internal meetings – are they all really necessary? Frequently there are meetings without firmly set agenda and before you know, you lose one or two hours of your time, without any real tangible or actionable outcomes.

It is an opportune time to emphasize the value of Slack – the aforementioned collaboration tool, which can be very effectively used internally as well as externally – with your customers, prospects and partners – creating particular collaboration groups.

In terms of leveraging existing resources – sometimes it might be appropriate to use Skype chat – just to keep things simple and effective.

Time-to-value = faster commercial success – this is our ultimate objective here. How can we keep things simple, collaborative and drive desired (and necessary) revenue goals.

Innovation is another important realm, which you should make an inherent component of your business culture. It easy easier said than done – you can read and hear about ‘disruptive innovation’ all the times these days, however what does it actually mean?

We believe in sequential innovation – perhaps not turning the business upside down right away but taking small steps, really listen to ideas and initiatives of your team members and things – business processes, related tools and overall collaboration should naturally be improving.

Initiative and employee engagement – similarly to customer engagement, if your team members do care about things, it makes a lot of difference to the business.

Now, this is very much related to your company culture – to what extent is your business open to risk or risk-averse, if all the decisions are made top-bottom – meaning that the company leader’s thoughts are the only ones being materialized – or on the other side of the spectrum (desired one) – employee activities, ideas, initiatives are seriously taken into consideration and there are multiple benefits of this collaborative team business model, as previously suggested.

Business processes optimization as a target area of both research and action has been here for decades – companies like Deloitte or McKinsey could come up with a 150 pages expensive action plan for your business as well. But that is very likely not what we want here – we want to be nimble, light-footed and aiming at an accelerated commercial outcomes in real-time = this is our primary objective here.

We could theorize about this tricky arena for quite some time, looking at various aspects of business processes and culture. And we are doing it actually today – most important thing will be how you translate some of the thoughts into your entrepreneur’s business reality.

We suggest taking partial, small baby-steps towards systematic business improvement. Engage with your team, listen to your team member ideas – evaluate – perhaps implement the ones, which you believe are promising, at the same time do not be afraid to dismiss some other ones = culture of open communication, which we believe is key to commercial success.

Track and monitor improvement or stagnation, for that matter, crucial team discussions can be captured in both ZohoCRM and Slack, so that no important initiatives are forgotten or left out.

All in all, this is a vast area for ongoing betterment, Kaizen, as the Japanese call ongoing internal company improvement. Start with some contemplation as a business leader, followed by action that you believe is currently the most appropriate for your particular business model.

You have the fundamentals right – now prepare for up-and- coming business growth

We have been addressing technology tools, as a foundation to get your business on the right trajectory as well as your internal business processes and culture – subject of an ongoing improvement in the long-term, also subject to specific tweaks and changes as your business evolves.

A grand question which every entrepreneur is asking himself or herself daily – how to prepare for growth and success? Firstly, you need to define what growth actually means to your particular business. Growth means more than just revenue, although bottom line is still number one priority, Still, you want to be aware of perhaps evolving needs of your employees, as you are growing maybe you might need a new bigger office space (which is a good challenge to have).

You might consider your own office or depending of your workforce size, in majority of cities today, there are some co- working facilities, which create a good buzz and additional partnering opportunities, as there are usually some other companies or entrepreneurs present as well. It is one of the options to be considered of course.

It is about setting the expectations – your life and lives of your team members will be likely to change a bit as well, so think in advance and be prepared.

As part of the preparation process, you might also want to do a cashflow review, just to make sure you are ready for the positive growth curve. If there are any weak spots, you might want to consider some credit options, which is probably an area worth a dedicated article by itself.

As you are poised for expansion now, it might be an opportune time to build a good talent pipeline as well – we are sure your team is great and it is a good challenge to have to look for additional brilliant talent in the marketplace. However, easier said than done, question also is if you, the business owner are going to conduct the talent selection or you have someone taking care of human resources related affairs. This might a time-consuming set of tasks and again it is good to envisage some of the related activities, which just will need to be done.

Clearly, once you have an even greater team in place, it is advisable to take care of your team members appropriately. High growth organization usually requires hard and intense work and this should be rewarded accordingly.

It might be helpful to reach out to leaders at similar organizations, preferably in your or related industry and ask for advice, tips, mentorship. People are usually keen to provide advice and this might be a golden source of knowledge for your business – the advising entity already got it right, so listening and following their wisdom might save you a lot of time and resources – this would be key component of the business acceleration you are after.

It is crucial to emphasize that this is the time when you should spend more quality time with your key clients – listen to their needs again, track what their growth and purchasing plans are, what are the current changes in their organizations. Make sure you effectively communicate with your core customer base, which is the lifeblood of your business.

Product or solution diversification might be a good thing, however make sure you maintain your focus. It is easy to get distracted into multiple directions and the result might be confused customers or prospects. Puzzled customers tend not to buy or usually postpone their purchasing decisions and that is certainly not what you want.

It is useful to be prepared for various business scenarios – just like being prepared for growth, which is what we are hoping for, it is equally handy to be ready for up-and- coming challenges and have adequate answers to solve them along the way.

Also, you might want to consider building up new competencies and skills of your team members to embrace new opportunities and positive business development trajectory these would bring.

There is never enough of evaluation when it comes to practical, as well as emotional needs of your customers – by constant effective communication both externally towards your prospects as well as internally, you make sure you are on the right pathway towards commercial success.

How about establishing a regular forum or weekly team meeting for open communication to monitor that you are on the right track?

Make sure your company vision, mission and value proposition is clear and thus also perceived by your prospects and clients. Clarity on ambition and company objectives also helps to charge up your core team members with the right optimistic energy to drive desired results.

Systematic approach towards your pipeline is definitely a good idea – identify your target customers into groups A, B, C and prioritize your tasks and activities accordingly. And of course, monitor and reevaluate regularly as your target business and are also evolving and changing.

There is no silver bullet or universal answers for all the up-and- coming growth process challenges, however we hope that some of the ideas and dialogue we held today will contribute to your ongoing business success.

Related: Russell Brunson: How to Build a Loyal Audience and Fund Yourself