Sell Booze at the Beach– And Other Lessons I Learned While Working With 200+ Small Businesses

If you’re looking for almost certain small business success, open a liquor store near a beach.

That’s one small business lesson.

But if you’re reading this, especially if you’re not looking to sell cheap vodka to college kids on spring break, you’re more likely hoping to find out what practical and actionable lessons could help you.

As part of the sales team for a tech company, I worked with over 200 small businesses across the Midwest and East Coast, from established bike shops to brand new clothing boutiques to the aforementioned beachfront liquor stores.

Especially from the viewpoint of a salesperson, there’s a misconception that sales is all fast-talking, clever pitches and hard closes a la Glengarry Glen Ross. In reality, the closers getting the coffee in 2017 do much more listening than talking.

With all that listening over the course of thousands of phone calls and demos, I began picking up on trends. I began to see patterns in the businesses that called to cancel service after closing within three months– and those that called to add more locations to their account as they expanded.

While geography, demographics, market demand, business plans and previous experience will dictate a great deal about the success (or failure) of a small business, there are undeniable do’s and don’ts that separate those closing their doors and those opening new stores.

Here are the lessons I learned from the best business owners– and their out-of-business competitors:

They build relationships, not transactions

This is a lesson I’d learned early in life watching small businesses I worked for “nickel and dime” their customers to death. The owners were so focused on margins on each sale that they neglected to consider the impact on the experience and lifetime value of a customer. There were no extras or freebies, every moment was monetized and short-term profit came way before customer satisfaction. Sales became transactional and impersonal.

As a certain fascist chef might say: “No soup for you.”

The best clients I worked with saw the value of a happy customer– and not just a margin. Bike shops would offer free clinics and flat repairs. Clothing boutiques employed a “personal stylist”. Employees knew customers’ names, their preferences and created an experience during their visit.

It’s a race to the bottom if you’re competing only on price, location or selection. Great service that leads to relationships will have your customers driving past your more convenient, better stocked and cheaper competitors– and telling their friends about you.

Another big benefit? You’ll better understand what your ideal customer profile is and this will help decide everything from pricing to marketing to in-store experiences and promotions.

You can’t effectively sell your service or product without really understanding who needs it.

They reward customer loyalty

Customer loyalty, especially as a result of fantastic relationships, is key. For one, some estimates show that acquiring a new customer is six to seven times more expensive than keeping your current customers happy.

Loyalty programs like Thirdshelf are a fantastic tool for rewarding your customers for their continued business and support– as a supplement to offering great customer experiences. The more they shop, the more it pays off– for both them and the business. In fact, 69% of consumers say they choose where to shop based on where they can earn points or perks– meaning if you’re not even offering a loyalty program, the cards are stacked against you.

For small businesses that are worried only about the short-term, they’ll see a rewards program as a loss, product going out the door without generating maximum revenue. The savvy clients I worked with knew that a well-considered loyalty program and its perks were a guaranteed way to keep customers coming back and buying more.

It’s not enough to just throw an offer at your customers. Pay attention to what they buy and what promotions draw sales. Yes, your loyalty perk is great for the customer, but make it work for you, too.

They get over sunk costs

If you’re not familiar with a sunk cost, Merriam-Webster defines it as “a cost already incurred that is not subject to variation or revision…”

To give you an example, the business cards you purchased where your last name has a typo? That’s a sunk cost. You’ve already paid for the cards. They can’t be fixed. And, unless you’re someone really special, your misspelled business cards don’t have any resale value. Go ahead and get new ones printed.

Unfortunately, I came across this mindset quite often with small business owners. They’d invest five-hundred dollars in a poorly built, buggy eCommerce website their high-school nephew built. Even if it didn’t function and was literally costing them money through lost sales, they couldn’t imagine scrapping the whole site and starting over– even if a new solution would solve all their issues.

The successful businesses I worked with made smart, well-researched decisions and certainly weren’t careless with their money. But if they saw a tool, platform or solution that would make a difference, they were willing to abandon their old ways. Their eyes weren’t focused on buyer’s remorse but on what would make their business profitable.

It’s never fun to realize you wasted money on a bad decision, but if there’s no possible way to benefit or recoup the investment, it’s best to move forward and find what does work. You won’t ever benefit from protecting yourself from the realization of a bad choice or wasted money– and you’re only compounding your mistake by not moving on quickly.

They use technology to their benefit

kaboompics_Young Entrepreneur Working from a Modern Cafe

Photo Credit: Kaboom Pics

While selling a tech product I recognized quickly how resistant to technology many business owners are. They had tools one Google search away that would give them more data than they’d ever had, free platforms that would manage tasks they were paying people overtime to manage and incredible ways to market and advertise their business for a few bucks.

Coming at this as a Millenial I’m biased; I remember VHS tapes and “car phones”, but most of my life I’ve had access to the Internet. The point still stands, however. The technology that offers the most utility and function wins out.

It’s no different for small businesses. Software isn’t just for enterprise-level companies with huge IT teams and budgets. There’s a thriving marketplace for small-business technology that doesn’t require a PhD in Computer Science. Most offer awesome support and easy-to-use interfaces.

Just about anyone can build a Shopify or WordPress site to have an online presence– and if you’re not online, your customers aren’t finding you. A point of sale like LightSpeed can help you manage inventory, customer data, sales history and reporting for relatively little money. UpWork can help you hire freelancers from all over the world to rewrite your sales collateral or design a new logo. Marketing on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using tools like Buffer or HootSuite are unbelievably more cost-effective than print ads, flyers or billboards. Many businesses make the bulk of their income by selling through Amazon or eBay.

Technology has been democratized. It’s within reach for those who are willing to look for it and spend some time evaluating what they need and what solutions exist. My A-team clients embraced technology– from how they hired to how they sold to how they ordered product to how they reported their accounting.

And if this still sounds outside of your comfort zone, there are plenty of consultants and agencies out there who can help you with your technology, marketing and operations. Specialization and focusing on what you’re best at has its benefits.

They make it easy to buy

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Photo Credit: Mike Petrucci

Perhaps loosely related to my last point about embracing technology, smart business owners make it easy to purchase from them.

It starts with being found in the first place. Again, good businesses are not relying on placing flyers under windshield wipers in local parking lots– and they aren’t just hoping someone walks into their business by chance. They’re marketing online, they’re growing an Instagram and Facebook following– and closely monitoring those channels for customer feedback. They have an active Yelp presence and watch Google for reviews. They have a well-built and thoughtfully designed website that shows what their products and services are, how to contact them and links to social media accounts, customer testimonials and more.

My recommendation: ditch the inflatable purple gorilla advertising your 10% off sale and use marketing tactics that really work.

Once you have your a potential customer’s attention, converting them from potential to paying is vital. If they’ve come this far, you don’t want to lose them now– especially if you’ve invested a few marketing dollars into their interest.

Should they find your site and want to order online, your purchase process should be straightforward and logical; don’t make them go through fifteen mandatory forms and only accept one obscure payment type. You should have a quick check out process and accept all major credit cards and PayPal.

Should they find you in real life or walk into your retail store, their buying experience must be similarly simple and easy. Your store layout should be logical. You should pair related products together. You should know exactly how many of each item you have in stock. You should know what services people want. If you schedule appointments, make it so people never have to call in with a tool like Booxi— because, most likely, they’ll avoid the phone.

When it comes time to buy, checkout should be easy. Accept credit cards– and accept the fact you’ll be paying a processor a fee to do so. You’re better off paying the fee than losing this customer’s first sale– and future second, third and fourth sales.

You should be capturing their information (name and email, at minimum) which makes it easier to see what they bought in the past, handle returns or exchanges and create a personal touch. Tied into an intelligent marketing plan, this is one of the most valuable points in the entire sales process.

Ideally, you’ll embrace an omnichannel solution where your inventory, customer data and shopping experiences are shared across online and in-person platforms. Customers can look up the shirt they bought online so they can buy the same shirt in a different color when they’re in the store. They’ll be able to see how many reward points they’ve earned by shopping online and in your store– all from their iPad at home. Your inventory will update across channels so you’re never selling products in-store or online that don’t exist.

This really amazing idea isn’t reserved for only mega-businesses; there are plenty of small business solutions that offer this for a few hundred bucks a month and can connect with a number of eCommerce and point of sale technologies.

Here’s the good news

If you watch the news or read the newspaper for even five minutes per year, you’ll see the doom and gloom around retailers and small businesses. Macy’s is shutting down nearly 70 stores in 2017 while Amazon buys out Whole Foods; the ground is shifting. The business landscape is changing, but that will be great news for nimble, intelligent small businesses who embrace their customers, use technology and remove barriers that kept customers from buying.

Unlike a business like Macy’s which would take six months, ten McKinsey experts, fourteen departments and forty-six meetings to make small changes, a small business can make major changes quickly and easily.

Small business is the speedboat to Macy’s Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

My recommendation? Examine your business from top to bottom.

Imagine you’re about to appear on Shark Tank and Mark Cuban will grill you on how much you pay for your products, what you’re doing to attract new business and what your unique selling points are– just before Robert Herjavec jumps in to ask how you gauge customer satisfaction.

How would you do in answering their challenges?

Look at your entire business. What’s working and what isn’t? What have you been putting off and know you need to finally tackle? What’s the best part of your website (and is there a best part of your website)? How do customers find you? What product or service do you make the most money on and how might you get more people to buy it? What do you hear from your customers– and do the one-star reviews on Yelp hold any truth to them?

There’s a great deal of low-hanging fruit and new customers to go after right now if haven’t explored new strategies and technologies for a couple years. But if you’re not entirely sure where that fruit is hanging, how to get those new customers or how to really consider your options, I can help.

If you’re part of a small business or startup and you’re ready to begin making those changes, I work with businesses just like yours. From social media strategy to identifying tech tools that fix problems and more, I always start with a discovery call to understand more about your business including its challenges, opportunities and goals. 

Let’s put 20 minutes on our calendars and get these improvements started. You’ll be glad you did.

Featured Image: Alex Iby

Staying Positive During a Job Search: A How-To Guide

Nobody really wants to look for a new job.

It’s usually something we have to do– like sitting through commercials on Hulu or accepting your coworkers friend request on Facebook– even if it means employment, more money or a work/life balance.

It falls into that uncomfortable Bermuda-triangle-like zone of financial stress, uncertainty and rejection. Add in some hurt pride if the job change wasn’t exactly your idea.

Unless you’re the type of adrenaline and risk junkie who finds joy in feelings that we’re probably evolutionarily predisposed to avoid, these aren’t emotions or experiences you’re particularly excited about having.

If you’re in the middle of a job search right now you know exactly what I mean.

But it happens. You want to leave a job or the job wants to leave you. If trends continue, job changes will be as common as watching the Olympics every few years. According to PwC, 25% of Millenials expect to have six or more employers over their lifetime.

So this job change thing? It’s likely to happen more often– which could be great news.

The more we do something, the less scary it is each time– and the better we are at preparing for it, moving through it and thriving. I’m a big believer that happiness is correlated with expectations, so if we expect to change jobs frequently and experience volatility, our happiness won’t take the beating it would otherwise.

But it’s easy to rationalize through it when job hunting is an abstract concept. A job search, whether you’re still employed or not, is stressful and it’s easy to feel defeated and pessimistic.

I’ve searched for work a number of times– sometimes with a job and sometimes without– and worked for four years in sales positions. It’s the time I spent in sales that helped me build a toolkit for staying positive and it can be directly applicable to a job hunt as well. Rejection, financial pressure and uncertainty live in both sales and job hunting– but the good news is there are solutions that work.

Here are a few ways you can stay positive– even during the toughest job search– that I’ve already vetted:

The 3 to 1 Rule

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Credit: Brooke Cagle

When I moved to NYC without a job, I had a very short window of time to find work before I’d go broke and move back home to Ohio.

At this point in my career, I’d had an internship and an entry-level advertising job– but not much else. Entering into one of the most competitive job markets in the country brought about something I’d never experienced so much of all at once: rejection.

A few weeks into my job hunt, I made a rule for myself: for every rejection or piece of bad news I encountered, I’d do three things to counter it.

For example, if I got one of those boilerplate emails informing me I wasn’t a fit for the role, I’d spend the next hour applying for another job, follow up on another application and send a LinkedIn message to someone whose job sounded interesting.

The reason this works?

It keeps you moving forward and countering something negative with several positives and eventually this 3-to-1 rule will lead to good things. If adversity motivates you, this is a great strategy.

Like Frank Sinatra said: “The best revenge is massive success.”

This is your new job (or second job)

One trap that I see job seekers falling into is treating their job hunt as a vacation and not taking it seriously. Sleeping in until noon. Staying in pajamas. Falling out of shape. Working inconsistent hours. Netflix binging.

If you’re still employed, yes, you’ve had a long day but you still need to carve out consistent time if you want another offer.

It can’t work any other way.

You don’t need to wake up at 6:30am like you used to, but it’s really helpful to build a routine. Maybe you get up at 8, hit the gym for an hour and are online and applying for jobs by 9:30. You make lunch at noon. You block off 1 to 3pm specifically for following up on jobs. You block off 3 to 4pm to reach out to people on LinkedIn. You take a break for dinner and are back online for an hour around 7pm to check your email and save jobs you’ll apply to in the morning.

If you’re still employed, maybe you do start getting up at 6am and spend an hour applying for work. Hit a coffee shop on lunch break to send out more applications and use your evening to visit a meetup for other graphic designers where you might meet someone hiring. Cut out the Game of Thrones/Call of Duty/basketball watching until you’ve found the right job. If you’re willing to put in the work, it’s a litmus test for how serious you are about changing your future.

What some call “time chunking”, or breaking tasks into specific time periods and focusing solely on those tasks, can be effective. If you spend an hour solely focused on finding and saving jobs to apply to in the next hour, I guarantee you’ll be more effective than if you spent that hour answering emails, finding new job posts, checking Twitter and finding networking events. Your attention span is far better and you’re more productive.

It also makes you get out of bed, take a shower and know that your day has a very clear purpose even if there’s no need to be at the office.

Find what motivates you

Kelly Brito

Credit: Kelly Brito

This is a big one.

Without focusing on motivation and rewards, job hunting can feel a lot like punishment.

That’s why it’s important to figure out what motivates you, both on a micro and macro level. Perhaps it’s telling yourself that, if you get an interview lined up for next week, you’ll treat yourself to Chipotle on Friday afternoon. Maybe if you spend the morning cold emailing 15 hiring managers you’ll take a break at noon and go to the park for an hour.

There’s big picture motivation, the long term goals you’re working toward. Once you land this job you’ll book that Costa Rica trip you had planned before the layoff happened. Or once you’re in the position for six months you’ll buy your kids new bikes, just because. Perhaps you’ll donate your signing bonus to a homeless shelter.

Yes, if you’re looking for work your new full-time occupation is finding a job– but don’t forget about self care. Will you actually interview well if you’re burnt out and feel unrewarded? Will you be effective if it’s all stick and no carrot?

Keep these motivations in mind. Write it down and put it on a piece of paper in front of you. Put your goals on your phone background.

Make sure you have a combination of short-term achievable goals (sending out 15 emails/applications per day, attending 2 networking events per week, etc) and long-term goals (getting an interview, getting a second interview, getting an offer). If all your goals are long-term and distant you won’t feel like you’re making progress, even if you are.

When you win, whether it’s a great conversation at a job fair or a signed offer letter, celebrate and recognize how you reached that win.

Set Your Targets

One of the most difficult parts of job hunting is quantifying how well you’re doing– and if what you’re doing is effective. I often work with job seekers who say they spend hours each week on their job search, but don’t feel like anything is coming from it.

That can feel demoralizing quickly.

The trick is figuring out how much activity you’ll probably need in order to land a job, so I employ a strategy I used while working in sales.


An examples goes something like this:

If I send out 50 applications and 20 LinkedIn messages, I estimate I’ll receive 10 responses.

If I get 10 responses, I believe 4 of those will turn into interviews.

If I can turn 4 of those responses into interviews, I’ll be invited to a second interview with 2 companies.

If I can get two second interviews, one should lead to an offer.

Everyone’s numbers and techniques will be different and it might take time to figure out what your numbers are, but the advantages of this strategy are twofold:

  1. You can quantify how much you need to do to consider that day or week to be “successful”. If you’ve been job hunting for two months without an offer it can feel like failure– when in reality your small efforts are building up to a huge payoff; you may get three offers in the next week from work you put in two months ago. When you’ve hit your daily “quota”, consider that day a small win and take a short break to do something you enjoy.
  2. You can quantify what works and what doesn’t. Let’s say you spend an entire week sending applications through HR portals and you DM a few people through Twitter who have jobs at companies you’d like to join. Perhaps two out of fifty HR portal applications lead to an interview– but three out of four Twitter messages lead to an interview. By identifying which methods work through tracking results you’ll figure out the best ways for getting an interview and, eventually, an offer.

Like any good salesperson (because that’s exactly what you are while you’re job hunting), you’ll want to try different strategies. Spend one day sending out resumes with a short cover letter and another day sending out a more in-depth cover letter. Track the responses. Change the tone from formal to casual in your initial email. Track the results.

And if you’re looking for new ways to apply for work, I have a few tips here.

Don’t go it alone

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Credit: Startup Stock Photos

This one has always been tough for me. If I’m looking for work, I feel it’s up to me to stay consistent, apply for jobs, prepare for interviews and accept an offer.

That’s true. Nobody is going to find you a new job without your involvement.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t involve others in your job search. Support and encouragement can be massively helpful, whether that’s some constructive venting to a buddy or having a former manager work through a few interview role plays with you. This is where a career coach can be of help.

If your last job ended alongside a few other coworkers, set up a job hunting group. Get together at someone’s apartment, bring some snacks and get competitive with who can have the highest activity throughout the day. Encourage each other when there’s bad news– and good news. Work together to prepare for interviews. Bounce ideas off each other. Attend networking events with your crew.

Think Guardians of the Galaxy meets LinkedIn.

Make a list

There are plenty of well-documented reasons writing out goals and ideas is helpful.

One of my favorite positivity exercises is keeping a list of all the good things that happen throughout the day and reflecting back at the end of the day. If you get in the habit of focusing on the three negative things that happen during your day while job searching you’re unlikely to notice the six positive things that also happened.

Keep a notepad next to your laptop and write down the previously-mentioned goals and motivations every morning. And then jot down the good things that happen that get you closer to those goals– even if it’s as simple as “I got out of bed today and took a shower!”.

Eventually these lists will go from “I applied to 7 jobs today and got retweeted by an industry expert!” to “I negotiated an extra 4 vacation days into the contract at my fabulous new job!”

Focus on the positives. Learn from the negatives.

Beware of social media

Erik Lucatero

Credit: Erik Lucatero

“Don’t compare your behind the scenes with other people’s musicals.”

If I knew where I first encountered this saying I’d happily give the person who wrote it credit– but I can’t recall. It’s the perfect analogy for how we experience our own lives and view the lives of others on social media.

While you’re sitting there in your underwear considering applying to a job that pays less than your first job out of college, it’s easy to pull up Instagram or Facebook and start comparing.

Your old coworker just bought a new boat. Your ex-boyfriend is backpacking through Cambodia. Your friendly rival from college has two cute kids and makes a killer living writing a smoothie blog.

But that’s what they’re sharing. For better or worse (probably for worse), we’ve all become quite good at being our own highly self-aware PR agencies, posting only curated content that gives us the most Pinterest-looking lives possible. What you’re not seeing on Facebook or Instagram from these same people are their struggles– and they surely have them.

Your buddy with the boat? Maybe he bought the boat with an inheritance from a close family member who passed away and he’d much rather have them back than the boat. Your ex-boyfriend? Maybe he’s having a really tough time with homesickness. Your friendly rival? Maybe their kids were up with the stomach flu last night.

This is the behind-the-scenes stuff nobody shares.

So while you’re sitting on your couch either unemployed, underemployed or unhappily employed, realize that these people have bad days and struggles exactly like you do; a quick audit of your own social media feed of fabulous times with less than fun back stories prove my point. We all do it.

Help others

For a variety of reasons, helping others is hugely beneficial for our mental health and well-being.

During a job search it can feel most important to put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others. It’s wise to spend time on your search and make sure you’re not diluting your time with distractions, but if you’re feeling down helping others may be the solution.

There are plenty of volunteer opportunities, whether it means delivering meals to seniors through Meals on Wheels or mentoring a more junior person in your field. Stopping by to chat with a sick neighbor and offering to do their grocery shopping could make a world of difference– for both of you.

Try putting an offer out on social media asking people how you might be able to help them. See what happens. I’m confident nobody has ever helped another person without feeling more positive.

Here’s the good news

A job search isn’t an end, a failure or a death sentence. It’s a change of plans, a fresh start and an opportunity to take control of your life.

It’s quite rare when we can step back, look at the future and have such a direct ability of shaping what comes next. We live in a time of direct access to people all over the world, tools and opportunities that make traditional employment unnecessary and you don’t need to be a well-connected Ivy League grad to find a job.

With the right tools, strategies and attitude it’s very possible you’ll look back at this transition as one of the defining (and best) forks in the road life presented to you.

 

Featured image credit: rawpixel.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Least 7 New Ways to Look For Work (That You Haven’t Tried Yet)

Hitting up your local newspaper classified ads is probably not going to land you the job you want– if any job at all.

(Honestly, the days of newspaper job ads have probably been gone since people were wearing Members Only jackets unironically.)

But as I work with entry-level job seekers, I hear my clients using a strategy that is almost as ineffective: sending out hundreds of blind applications to companies’ hiring portals, hoping to hear back.

And as a caveat, companies do hire from these portals. For some organizations, it might be an internal policy to field every application through this portal to keep things tidy, fair and legal. And you should keep an eye on these portals and apply without making them your sole focus.

If you’ve ever sent out dozens of applications through these portals, you’ve probably had the feeling you were throwing your résumé out into a cold, uncaring universe, hoping for a call back if the stars align. And you may not be far off.

Many of these portals use a keyword scanner to identify relevant skills and experience– or a busy recruiter or HR person reads through them individually. Some studies have shown a recruiter spends just 6 seconds scanning a résumé before moving onto the next.

Yikes.

Sure, you might be the perfect woman for the job but if the keywords didn’t generate interest or the recruiter has a stack of sixty-seven other applications– what then?

You need a new strategy.

When I used to work for a NYC staffing agency, part of my job was to find clients to place our talent with. One of the best methods for finding new clients was to find a need. In other words: who is hiring and what position are they looking to bring on?

In the case of a job seeker, by using alternative strategies to find who is hiring, you’ll stand out and not end up as just another application in a stack. It’s going to take some thinking outside of the box, some rejection and getting out of your comfort zone, but these seven new ways of finding work will have a huge impact on your job search and career.

 

Try your network

Your network is easily your most powerful and helpful place for finding work because you have a personal relationship and rapport with these people. And when I say network, I mean every co-worker, brunch partner, friend, neighbor, pick-up basketball teammate, yoga buddy and family member you have.

They don’t need to work in marketing or be an engineer or own a business relevant to what you do. They don’t have to be a recruiter or know anyone hiring right now.

But simply making it known that you’re looking for work can open up doors. In fact, it’s a very similar strategy that business networking group, BNI, employs to help its members: it’s not who is in the room, it’s who the people in the room know who may be able to help.

Obviously use your discretion. If you’re in the middle of a discrete job hunt your employer can’t know about, maybe try the circle of people you trust the most with sensitive info.

Drop a text or make a phone call to someone who may not know you’re looking for work. InMail your buddy from that job you had in college who looks like he’s working for an interesting company. Offer to buy your neighbor a coffee and see if any of his buddies he plays cards with know of an opening.

Expand your network

 

“But I don’t know anyone who can help me,” you might be thinking.

Maybe you just moved to a new area. Maybe you don’t speak the local language. Maybe your friends and family make their living raising goats or are all employed with NASA and their only friends are also slinging goat cheese or shooting stuff into space.

No worries. It’s time to find people who are more in line with the job you have in mind and that means something that will strike fear, anxiety and hate into the heart of every introvert and many others: networking.

Networking is a lot like swimming: you fear it until you do it a few times. I’m on the line between an introvert and extrovert, so don’t think this advice is coming from someone who hops out of bed at 6AM and excitedly makes small talk over muffins.

But networking really is the way to expand your professional network. 

There are plenty of options: Chamber of Commerce meetings, Young Professionals mixers, trade and industry-specific meet ups. There are a crazy amount of events happening and I’ve used MeetUp to find them.

It doesn’t even have to be a professional setting. Join a free softball league, go volunteer at a homeless shelter, invite all the neighbors you haven’t spoken to in 7 years over for a bonfire or strike up a conversation at a coffee shop. Bring a buddy along.

Networking when you have something you want can sometimes feel greedy or self-involved, especially when you’re meeting new people specifically to find work for yourself.

It doesn’t have to be that way. One of my favorite things to do in a networking situation is ask the following questions:

• When you come to these types of events, who do you hope to run into or meet?

• Can you tell me more about what you do?

• What’s the best advice you’ve ever received while networking?

Sometimes you might know the perfect person to introduce this person to– or you may just make their day by expressing interest in what they do or know. I’ve begun making an honest effort to provide value to others whenever I can and people seem to appreciate it.

Use your social media

Sure, your social media channels might be full of cat pictures, memes and heated political debate, but there’s still value here and it’s twofold:

You can use social media to alert people you know about your job search and what you’re looking for. You can find people at companies you want to work for and easily reach out to them through messaging. You can create cool content showing your value– and someone might notice. Social media is amazing for communicating thoughts, ideas and breaking down barriers that used to separate the hiring from the hopeful hires. Don’t hesitate to direct message a hiring manager or HR Director; you’ll definitely get ignored, rejected and maybe told to “just apply online like everyone else” a few times, but someone will find your proactive approach interesting.

Alternatively, keep people in your city aware of your availability:

“Anyone CD’s in #Austin looking for a #copywriter? Experience in beauty, auto & tech clients. Check my portfolio here: (Bitly link)”

Maybe less obvious than using social media to communicate is using it to gather data. You can absolutely use social media to find who is hiring and even predict it! That cool startup in town just mentioned on Twitter they’ve secured funding? Guess who WILL be hiring within days or weeks. Many, many times each week I see requests for certain professionals or skill sets on social channels.

Another outside the box idea: search hashtags relevant to your profession. Maybe someone is having trouble with #Excel and you’re a spreadsheet god? Maybe a recruiter just posted an #accountant position you’d be perfect for? Try narrowing it down by location, hashtag and get creative.

Assuming your job search isn’t a total secret, use social media frequently during a job hunt. Don’t become that guy who vents on his Facebook about how frustrated they are about an interview that didn’t pan out, but stay active on industry LinkedIn groups, retweet relevant industry news on Twitter and keep people posted about what you’re looking for.

And keep in mind: new employers CAN see your social media, often even if you’re set to “private”. Post accordingly.

Bonus points if you run an ad on social media advertising your experience or service. Extra bonus points if you use social media to cold email or message someone and ask them to meet and discuss the company or open positions.

 

Market yourself like a product

Job hunting is no different than selling a product– except that you’re a sentient being doing your own marketing.

So do what the pros do and get into content marketing. If you’re not of a sales or marketing background, one of the biggest names in the content game, Hubspot, explains content marketing this way:

What is content marketing? Content marketing is a strategic marketing and business process focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience, and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

It may not be necessary to create workflows, email campaigns and use software like in a traditional content marketing strategy, but let’s focus on what this is suggesting you do in a job hunting sense:

Create valuable, relevant content (videos, blogs, articles, podcasts, etc.) that speaks to the decision makers of your industry and drive them to offer you an interview and then a position.

So what does this look like?

Recently, I worked with someone who had been out of work but was using some of his free time to create how-to videos on software used in his industry. I encouraged him to share this across all of his social channels; you never know who might love what you’ve written and decide to reach out and form a connection. Again, maybe they’re not a hiring manager– but it’s an additional means of growing your network.

My recommendation is to start a simple WordPress site or a Medium account. Start writing. Use Answer the Public to figure out topics. Ask your partner or friend to proofread. Publish your articles on LinkedIn, WordPress and Medium. Share them over your social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, etc) and forums.

The added benefit? If you’ve been off work for some time, this is a GREAT way to fill that gap on your résumé. Yes, you’ve been unemployed by an employer since February– but you’ve also been creating awesome articles and videos relevant to your career and industry. You have something to show for your time and you shouldn’t hesitate to list this on your résumé as relevant experience.

Align your interests with others

There are incredibly talented, brilliant and caring recruiters and staffing agencies out there. There are staffing agencies and recruiters out there who are exactly the opposite. Again, I’ve worked in staffing so I have a soft spot for these folks– but I’ve also been on the wrong end of recruiters.

Don’t let one bad experience you or your friend’s brother’s neighbor had with a staffing agency or recruiter sour you on the whole idea. Yes, staffing agencies and recruiters will be paid by the employer in the way of a nice bonus. Yes, it’s possible they’ll make a killing off your placement.

But that’s my point.

By working with a few recruiters or staffing agencies, you’re working with people who are going to get paid as soon as they find you work. Your interests are aligned in this specific area. They want to find you work. They’re going to work full-time trying to find you a position. And a good recruiter or agency will recognize that, one day, you may even hire them to find you a good candidate and become a client.

There are hundreds of agencies and recruiters out there, but having worked for a specialized staffing agency that had a rather narrow expertise, I’d recommend working with a recruiter or agency who is industry or job specific. They’ll likely know more about your role and have better clients to introduce you to than someone who staffs everyone from line workers to salespeople to writers.

 

And if you’re on the fence about recruiters or agencies, it’s fine to politely let them know you’re apprehensive. Good agencies and recruiters will understand and probably have great reviews online and evidence of their success. Use your gut when deciding who to work with and, if possible, use that network to find a recruiter.

Create your own job

Maybe this career change is exactly the push you’ve been waiting for to finally take your prototype product and start shopping around for vendors. Or maybe it’s time to begin working on a consultant or freelance basis.

Whether it’s to keep the bill collectors from calling as a way of generating income while you search or to actually start your own business, during a job transition you may find yourself in the perfect spot to create your own position.

Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. Financial pressure, unknowns and patience may make it a difficult time to transition from job seeker to business owner while out of work– but keep the option open. It’s unlikely you’ll soon have this much free time to learn, grow and build something.

If you’re still in your job with steady income rolling in, it might be the perfect time to start working after hours to prepare for this move. Entrepreneurial guru, Gary Vaynerchuk, is actually quite adamant about only starting a business with either serious savings on hand or a full-time job to help stay afloat.

Stay proactive and ready

The best time to look for work is when you don’t need to.

Even if your company is rock solid and you have job security for the next 10 years (you think!), be active in your career. It’s easy to fall behind trends, dig into a 50 hour work week and collect a paycheck.

Have informational interviews when a company reaches out if you can do so without jeopardizing your job. Know what’s happening with your competitors and peers at other companies. Stay active on social media and be a whatever-your-profession-is that people know about. Go to networking events. Write articles. Take classes.

Keep your résumé updated– always– so you don’t need to think back three years to what the exact figures were on the project you lead that made the company millions and got you a raise.

You may have no intention or plan of leaving your job, but if the last two decades have taught us anything at all it’s that even the most concrete plans and careers can change. You’ll be better off if you’ve been in “career mode” without the pressure of needing a paycheck.

Job hunting is like fishing

Did you ever go fishing when you were a kid? If you were like me, you probably dropped a single soggy worm on too short of a line into a murky pond and didn’t catch anything.

And that’s what people do when they’re looking for work: they rely on one really bad, singular method.

Whether you’re fishing or looking for a new job, you need as many lines and hooks in the water as possible; your friends, recruiters, alumni contacts, traditional job portals, networking meetings, article-writing, social media activity are some of the best tools you have.

You need to use different baits, ask for advice, try crazy ideas and do everything you can to increase the chances that someone– or something, in the case of fish– is going to bite.

I’m confident that these 7 new strategies are going to invigorate your job search.

And if you’re looking for more ideas, guidance, or advice, don’t hesitate to contact me for help!

Photo credit to Matthew Henry.

 

 

4 Big Reasons You Need a Career Coach For Your Next Job Search

I was always a personal trainer skeptic.

I’d go to the gym, lift weights and try to figure out what the machines did. And it showed: the results were underwhelming.

When I moved back to Ohio after years in NYC, I went from walking ten miles each day to ten miles per month. I tried to eat healthy. I tried to hit the gym on my own. Pretty quickly, however, I had to figure out something else as my waistline expanded– and I didn’t have the tools or knowledge to turn it around.

So, I hired a personal trainer.

I’ve never thought of myself as the type of person who hires a personal trainer and I figured I’d need to start shopping at Lululemon (or wherever men buy expensive active wear) and put kale and whey protein on everything.

Instead, I worked bi-weekly with an expert who not only passed along his incredibly valuable knowledge and helped me get results, but also kept me motivated. When another set of squats felt impossible, he was there to talk me through it and how to work on my technique. When I wanted to cancel because I was still sore from yesterday’s workout, he held me accountable and gave me pointers on food intake. His expertise, guidance and motivation helped immensely.

During our few months of working together, I’d learned more about fitness than I had throughout the rest of my life. I could hold a plank longer, lift more, bike farther and felt amazing. 

I thought about how my gym lessons could be applied to my personal and professional life and an idea began to formulate. I’d worked for a top creative staffing agency in NYC and over the past few years I’d very accidentally started mentoring entry-level job seekers based on a few Reddit and Twitter posts I’d written.

As more and more people started to reach out and I spent time working with a personal trainer, the worlds merged:

Why don’t I help people with their job hunt in the ways my trainer helps me with my fitness?

I’d had some very successful, short job hunts. I applied what I know about sales and marketing to the job search. I’d been an active part of dozens of clients and candidates exploring the hiring process while working in staffing. I knew what hiring managers loved, hated and wished candidates would do. And this information didn’t seem to be reaching university classrooms.

(For all the time we spent learning about the Pythagorean Theorum and Shakespeare you’d think they could’ve mentioned how to look for work, right?)

A career coach is a personal trainer for your career

Both a career coach and a personal trainer offer their time, knowledge, strategies and motivation to achieve goals.

For example:

You know how there’s that ONE interview question you always bomb and hope they won’t ask– but they always do? A career coach will role play that exact question with you, finding the best way to answer truthfully and strategically.

You know how your aunt told you it just takes showing up in a suit and applying in person to get a job? A career coach encourages you to find methods that really work in 2017.

You know that thing you really don’t enjoy doing when looking for a job? A career coach encourages you to do it anyway if it’s effective, plus helps find a few ways to make it suck less.

And just like a personal trainer, working together through repetition, practice and strategy makes you stronger– and builds skills you can use longterm.

As I watched the folks I’d worked with go on to receive job offers and internship opportunities, it solidified the idea that there just might be something to this career coaching thing.

The more clients I worked with on their job searches, the more I began to realize a few important aspects of why career coaching should be more of “a thing”.

Employment is changing

As employment transitions into what experts call “the gig economy”— short-term, project-based and freelance employment not tied to one main employer– it will be increasingly vital to know how to get work quickly and predictably. While the idea of having to look for a job frequently may sound overwhelming, these skills can be learned and taught by a career coach.

In the world of freelance it’s already known that those who make the most money aren’t necessarily those who are the best at what they do– but rather those who can close the deal and get the work.

I spent four years in high-pressure sales roles. I found very quickly that what I’d learned in sales training had direct applications to job hunting. In both instances you’re trying to help your client navigate a need or issue– and you need them to choose you, often in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars. Persistence, positioning and strategy come into play in both areas and the lessons I learned in sales training (and on the job) I pass along to my clients.

Job hunting skills are rarely taught

For the majority of clients I’ve worked with, job hunting wasn’t covered in their K-12 or university coursework. If it was, the lessons were basic and outdated. There’s so much more to know than just putting together a spell-check résumé and hoping it lands on exactly the right hiring manager’s desk– but that’s all most of us are ever taught, if that at all.

I was lucky to have a few great professors at Kent State who did spend time helping us with interview etiquette and résumé writing– but there’s no replacement for one-on-one coaching, role playing and being tuned into amazing technology available to job seekers.

Unfortunately universities are happy to turn out well-educated, informed students– but often fall short in the step of giving them the skills to actually win the job offer.

Looking for work has evolved in the past 5, 15 and 50 years– immensely

Because I primarily work with younger, entry-level job seekers, I run into advice given to them by professors and parents. Some of it is wonderful guidance, given from years of experience and wisdom mixed with up-to-date knowledge. Sometimes, it is advice that should’ve been left behind during the Carter presidency.

And it’s no fault or bad intentions of these parents or professors, however, the job market has shifted greatly– and along with it, so has technology, techniques and etiquette. It simply doesn’t make sense to type out a cover letter for a UX role at a cool startup, drop off the application in person and then show up to the interview in a suit and tie. Nor does it make sense to only rely on job posting boards when half of all job openings aren’t even advertised.

It’s a career coach’s job to stay up to date with new technology, new platforms and new ideas. I stay in touch with multiple recruiters, listen to their feedback and candidate stories to see what’s fresh. I read blogs, follow folks on Twitter and strategize new ways and methods of helping my clients. It’s my job to dispel myths and help job seekers use what’s current for 2017 to nail that interview or negotiate their salary.

Changing jobs is inherently stressful

There’s a reason why the top 43 most stressful life events on the Holmes-Rahe Stress scale are littered with events surrounding work and employment. Even if the job search is warranted and wanted, uncertainty around change can be difficult to manage. If the job search is unexpected or unwanted it’s even more difficult as our finances– and ego– take a hit.

I worked with a client recently who’d been unemployed for months. He’d applied to dozens of jobs in the past few days. He felt he was doing everything he could to market his valuable skills– and yet he rarely received an interview. Understandably he felt depressed and hopeless.

From our hour long call, we discussed new strategies for attacking his job hunt more effectively, but I also spent time boosting his confidence about his qualifications and how his perseverance will pay off. Job hunting can be lonely– but it doesn’t have to be.

Work– and the time we spend at work– is important

Assuming we work full-time from ages 22 to 65, we’re spending 43 years of our lives working.

If we’re working 49 weeks of those 43 years at an average of 47 hours per week, we’re spending 99,029 hours doing something we should enjoy or, at the very least, find acceptable. It’s no wonder that as Millenials take up more and more of the labor market we’re asking for better work/life balance and work that matters.

If you’ve just graduated college, are navigating your first jobs after graduation or are looking to transition from your current role, I’d love to set up a time for us to chat. If you don’t know where to start on your job search, this is the perfect jumping off point, starting with an always 100% free consultation to understand where you are and where you want to go.

Let’s chat soon.

 

Photo credit to Marc Mueller.

 

Instagress is Dead– but My Love for Instagram is Revived

Last week, I began seeing rumblings that beloved Instagram “bot”, Instagress, was offline. Posts on Reddit anxiously mentioned clients’ Instagram traffic slowing drastically, the site wasn’t working, their Facebook page disappeared– and then Instagress announced the shutdown. I’m open to correction here, but it sounds as if Instagram didn’t take too kindly to Instagress violating Instagram rules.

I used Instagress to build my Instagram following and wrote about it at length recently. I went from around 600 followers to over 7,000 in about 9 months, engagement was high and I used it to build a following to sell watches. It worked!

Mostly. Technically.

I auto-liked pictures of peoples’ kids in the Phillipines and guys standing shirtless in front of a bar somewhere in Poland. I auto-followed every awful luxury-lifestyle-motivational-quotes account and began missing posts from people I really did want to follow.  I was one of those commenters on your Instagram: great shot, keep it up, where was this taken, etc.

Yes, I was driving traffic and sales. Yes, my KPIs were strong. But didn’t I once use this for enjoyment and fun?

Luckily for me, my credits on Instagress were set to run out around the time of the shut down anyway. Even before I knew of the shut down, I was debating about renewing my time block. I’d begun deleting as many obvious bot posts on my own photos. Instagram began to feel like a chore. I was missing out on comments and posts from friends.

Once Instagress shut down, I watched my metrics begin to tank, followers drop off and began looking for a new solution to stave off the losses. But just as quickly as I started the search, I stopped. Let’s make Instagram great again, I thought.

Since then, I’ve gone from 7,050 followers down to 6,994 and dropping, feeling strangely connected to that Black Mirror episode with Ron Howard’s daughter and her social score.

But I’m also enjoying Instagram more than I have in a long time. The interactions are real, the followers are organic. I can comment on a photo, not worrying that I’m about to over-comment for the day and get banned, and actually interact with people. I can “binge like” my cousin’s baby’s photos she posted.

It makes me sorry for the brands and agencies that used bots as a product with huge benefits. They’re useful and effective, in general. But I won’t be entirely sad to see them go away and I imagine that Instagram will eventually chase out every single one they can, focusing more on selling Instagram ads and sponsored posts.

What Instagram could do, however, is work to build an ecosystem of influencers if they haven’t already started. Put their top influencers in touch with relevant brands. Make suggestions on how to increase engagement. At this point it’s no secret that brands and people are using Instagram, so why not help people capitalize on it and remove the motivation to use bots?

As I write this out, I realize just how funny and skewed technology can make what should just be a simple, artistic pleasure. For those of you using Instagram bots (or those who hate them!), what’s your take on Instagress and the future of Instagram advertising?

 

13 Tips for Crushing Gary Vee’s 2017 Flip Challenge

Now that we’re almost 4 months into the #2017flipchallenge, it’s a good time to step back, reflect and see what’s working– and what isn’t.

I’ve learned, lost and won over the past few months and I’m happy to share a few tips I’ve found that work for hitting that $20,0170 goal.

Check it out!

What to sell

• When selecting items to flip, consider one of the basic models of economics: supply and demand. High-supply, low-demand items will always perform the worst. Low-supply, high-demand items are money magnets.

• Build an inventory of easy to ship, lightweight objects. Sure, maybe that vintage lamp just sold on eBay for a good chunk of change– but if you’re spending big money on shipping you’ll eat away your margins.

• Sell what you know. I know about watches and cars– so that’s where my focus tends to be. It wouldn’t make sense in time or risk for me to branch out to, say, porcelain dolls or broken iPads. If a new item you’re not familiar with does strike a curiosity, go for it– but be sure to learn more before investing too much.

How to sell it

• Is an item not selling? Try offering free shipping and pad you price to compensate a bit. Sometimes that trick of psychology will make the sale for you.

• Is an item still not selling? Try bundling it with a similar item. This not only makes it look like a better deal, it also saves you time on listing multiple items.

• And if it’s still not selling, make sure your price is in line with similar items by checking “Sold” auctions on eBay. Ensure it’s posted on multiple auction or selling platforms. Play with copy and descriptions. Make an effort to sell the item in your listing; what problem will it solve for this person or what value will it add to their lives?

• Use every platform possible for selling; the more channels to sell through, the better. LetGo, OfferUp, eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and Instagram are some of the best bets.

• But use the platform that makes sense. If an item is large or expensive to ship, Craigslist or LetGo might be best. If an item has specific appeal (clothing, hobbies, collectibles, etc.), eBay is you best for attracting buyers.

• If something has a very specific appeal, go straight to your target market on a forum. If you’re flipping a horse saddle you picked up on Craigslist for $20, find the most active farm or equestrian forum you can and post it in their classified section. Chances are if there are collectors, hobbyists, enthusiasts or otherwise there’s at least one active forum.

What to do after you’ve sold it

• Shipping books, DVDs or CDs? Use Media Mail through USPS to save on shipping costs.

• Buy shipping supplies in bulk. Tape, bubble wrap and envelopes can add up. By visiting a wholesale club or Amazon you can score huge quantities of supplies for much less.

• Stay organized by tracking your cost, selling price, shipping expenses and more. Check out the helpful spreadsheet at the end of this post I shared a few weeks ago.

• Remain positive. It’s easy to get disappointed when you’re having a slow sales week, but keep trying new strategies and keep a steady flow of inventory coming in. Use data and numbers to influence what you buy and sell, for how much and through which channel.

Keep on flipping

Flipping is one of the most enjoyable, easiest ways to try out entrepreneurship and the Flip Challenge is the perfect introduction.

What tips and tricks do you have for crushing Gary Vee’s 2017 Flip Challenge?

How I Transformed My Instagram Account (And Business) with Instagress

Instagram is, undoubtedly, one of the best platforms for selling, building brands and oversharing what you had for dinner last night (#foodie #gourmet #farmtotable).

But with 600 million active monthly Instagram users it’s easy to get lost in the hashtags, selfies and influencers. If you’re a brand, that means your potential customers aren’t seeing the content you spend so much time creating. If it’s a personal passion, you’re missing out on connecting with other people who have the same interests.

Long story short: if your Instagram is light on followers and engagement, it’s time to step it up.

On my Instagram account last September, @neidertmike, I had around 600 followers. They were mostly friends and family, people who also enjoy cars or watches like I do. I enjoyed posting and interacting, but the more I learned about social media, the more I realized there was value in building a bigger following with more engagement, especially as I was buying, modifying and flipping watches.

Enter Instagress…

That’s where Instagress came into play. For anyone unfamiliar with it, Instagress is an automation tool that helps increase followers and engagement. It can be set to automatically follow, unfollow, like and comment, creating a great deal of engagement day and night.

It’s simply impossible to like, comment, follow and unfollow on Instagram to the point you can build up a significant following.

Believe me, I tried. My thumbs got tired quickly.

I began by setting up specific hashtags to like and comment on, blacklisted a huge list of hashtags (#follow4follow, #like4like, etc.) to prevent spam accounts from clogging my feed. I set my parameters for following and unfollowing, posted a photo and went to bed.

I woke up in the morning with 10 new followers and about 50 likes. I started to screenshot the results and send them to my marketing genius girlfriend who was either being nice or was genuinely impressed with the engagement and feedback I received.

After the three days were up, I’d easily increased my following to 700 followers. My photos were getting more likes, several comments and I’d get more private messages than before.

Instagress really seemed to be working, so I signed up for a 30 day time block for $10. I tweaked the comments I left, added additional hashtags and tightened up some of the blacklisted hashtags.

And the results are in…

Nearly six months later, Instagress is still steaming along. I purchased two 90-day blocks of time and spent around $50 so far. While it felt a bit vain to spend money on “likes” and “follows” from complete strangers, it paid off.

It really paid off.

I’m currently sitting at 6,250 followers and each post receives between 300 and 440 likes with an average of 10-15 comments per post. This past week my posts had over 20,000 impressions– and I’ve spent just a few dollars and some time to reach a highly targeted audience.

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And that’s not all.

While it feels great to see enthusiasm around my posts and make friends around the world with common passions, the business case is clear: I’ve sold over $1,500 worth of watches by increasing my audience and influence.

On two separate occasions my post led to a sale within 10 minutes of posting. I have repeat customers across the US and as far away as Australia.

As much as I’d like to say it’s the watches that I build, restore and sell essentially sell themselves through aesthetics and taste alone, I have no doubt having a targeted following is key in making these sales.

A few tips about Instagram and Instagress:

• Some of my auto-generated comments are a bit vague so they fit a variety of content. The ones that get the most engagement ask questions like: where or when was this taken, what did you use to take the photo, who took the photo, etc.

I’ve had some awkward interactions where I “asked” someone “where the picture was taken” on a photo of their kids in what appeared to be their backyard. Oops. Quick delete.

Those types of encounters taken out of consideration, the majority of the time it pays off and creates engagement.

• Often more important and effective than Instagress is producing a great deal of regularly occurring quality content. Now that I have a following, I’ll typically get 20-30 followers per day.

On days I post once or twice? I can get 60 new followers and at least 300 likes, plus 10 comments.

• For better results, it is worth using apps like VSCO and Squareready. You can edit photos and format them to look great on Instagram.

People want to see quality photos, so if you’re on the line about posting content that is really low quality or passing, opt for not posting it at all.

• If you’re serious about metrics and analytics, make your Instagram a “business” account. You’ll be able to link to a website, create calls to action and paid ads. More importantly, you can see when your audience is most active, their demographics and which posts received the most engagement. It’s helped to increase my numbers by noticing winning patterns in photo formats, hashtags and posting time.

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Have you ever tried Instagress or other automation software for social media? What are your Instagram top tips?

A Surprising Side Benefit of Gary Vee’s 2017 Flip Challenge

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I don’t know entirely what sparked it, but after I started making money as a kid, the first “big” thing I bought was a watch. It wasn’t high-end, but to a 12 year old with money burning a hole in his pocket I was immensely proud of it.

The watch interest held on loosely as I grew up, usually overshadowed by other phases, but started to pick up steam in 2016 when I taught myself using YouTube and Reddit posts how to modify Seiko watches. I was hooked. It was mechanical, technical and creative, a great way to satisfy the need to work with my hands after a long day working with my head.

When I started the 2017 Flip Challenge, I started out by selling whatever extra stuff I had around the house and quickly ran out of inventory. I needed something I knew about, would ship easily and cheaply and had a huge amount of demand.

And that’s where watches came in.

I began buying watches on LetGo, eBay and Facebook Marketplace, identifying trends and trying to become an expert in values. What brands sell well? What model holds its value? How expensive are parts if it needs work? Does anyone want these?!

I advertised them on eBay and my Instagram account– and they started selling. Since then, I’ve bought and sold at least a dozen watches to people all across the US– and two to a repeat customer in Australia. The other night, a Seiko 7002 I bought from a guy in a Sam’s Club parking lot sold within 5 minutes of being posted on my Instagram.

I’ve since refurbished two Seiko 6139 “Pogues” (pictured above) and have a much better mechanical understanding of these pieces. I’ve begun to grow a network of other enthusiasts and vendors. I have people messaging me asking for what I currently have.

So, the surprising side benefit I never expected to happen?

I get to make money off of my hobby and a great passion. I’m getting paid to play. It’s nothing to live off of anytime soon, but it is getting me closer and closer to my goal for the flip challenge. And like Gary Vee says: patience.

 

The Best Ways to Waste Time Productively on Reddit

Reddit can be a huge time suck. With insanely clickable subreddits (or communities, for the unfamiliar) like /r/aww or /r/showerthoughts, it’s incredibly easy to eat into productivity as you venture further down the rabbit hole, finding new subreddits and juicy posts with lively discussion.

Started in 2005, Reddit now attracts 542 million monthly visitors and lands in the top 10 most-visited sites in the US with its quirky UX and sometimes even quirkier fanbase. Also called “the front page of the Internet”, Reddit aggregates thousands of communities, allowing anyone to create a subreddit around an interest while operating on a system of upvotes and downvotes in an attempt to keep threads on topic and relevant-ish.

As someone who would never, ever want to see a cumulative tally of the time I’ve spent on Reddit, my browsing has, hopefully, become a little more productive and helpful. As I’ve learned more about blogging, sales, marketing, eCommerce and small business, Reddit has become an increasingly useful tool. Whether it’s bouncing ideas off of others, getting feedback or engaging in enthusiastic debates, Reddit gives you immediate access to a wealth of information and, with some fact-checking, informed input from users around the world.

If you’re going to spend an evening on Reddit but want to feel like you’re being productive, check out these subreddits:

Motivation

/r/GetMotivated – The perfect place to visit to get pumped up and find a fresh attitude.

/r/GetDisciplined – Looking to break a bad habit or lock in a good one? Here’s your subreddit.

/r/MotivationVideos – Motivation in video form

Money 

/r/PersonalFinance – Get advice and input on everything from student loans to retirement to savings.

/r/Frugal – Advice and tips on living frugally

/r/Investing – When you take the advice at /r/Frugal seriously and have cash to invest

Appearance

/r/MaleFashionAdvice or /r/FemaleFashionAdvice – Learn how to dress well, get input from internet sartorialists

Health and Food

/r/Cooking – Figure out how to boil water/chop onions/create incredible dishes

/r/EatCheapAndHealthy – A subreddit focusing on eating well and spending well

/r/Fitness – Getting in shape with 6M+ subscribers

Entrepreneurship and 21st Century Business

/r/Sales – Focused on sales– and open to anyone looking to learn or perfect the art of selling.

/r/Entrepreneur – Support, advice, brainstorming, gut checks alongside other entrepreneurs

/r/eCommerce – Learn how to sell online

Other Extremely Useful Subreddits

/r/BuyItForLife – Ever wondered what products to buy if you want them to last the rest of your life? Is quality on your mind? You’ve found your spot.

/r/Travel – Planning a trip or looking to catch the travel bug? Click, click.

/r/ExplainLikeImFive – Hoping to understand a complex subject? Have it explained to you as if you were five-years-old.

/r/IWantToLearn – Invite Redditors help you learn a new skill or hobby.

 

There are thousands and thousands of other subreddits and it’s well worth creating an account if you haven’t yet. And if you’re a Redditor looking to make their Reddit binge more productive, this is a great place to start.

What other subreddits do you recommend visiting?