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12 Important Ways to Expand Your Influence

In life we always tend to focus on things that are beyond оur control. We’d rather mope around about our inconveniences rather than doing something that would actually benefit us. We tend to go around wasting our time and effort while accomplishing nothing of any true meaning. This behavior and mental attitude will not expand your influence.

Our words and actions go to waste, our influence on the world resembles but a smudge on a radar. If you want to make a change of pace, and start focusing on the things that matter, then you really need to start working on your circle of influence. I am going to show you how to become more prominent and expand your influence.

expand your influence

What exactly is influence?

“The capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.”

As Kenley Blanchard once said“The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority”. But the concept of leadership has its own fundamental principles, the most important of which is striving towards a positive outcome.

One who has the power of influence mustn’t use it for their own goals, otherwise their reign will be short-lived. Influence is radiance, far more than just a simple ingredient for leadership. It’s how you look, it’s how you sound.

It’s the first step that you make when you walk in a room. It’s the look you give when you address someone, and the hand you give when you greet someone.

How to expand your influence

Understand and accept

You have to acknowledge that regardless of where you stand, you will always retain a certain position of influence to those around you. The idea is to realize how far your influence extends, and go from there.

Be proactive

You cannot achieve your goals if you stand in place. You need to start pacing before deciding if you need a change of pace. Try new things, meet new people, forge new alliances, make new connections. Create your own web of influence.

Be a good listener

Most people see great speakers as influential people. Little do they know that the fundamental prerequisite to being a great speaker is being a great listener first and foremost. Improving on your listening skills will help you make new connections. No one likes a talker, people want to be heard, so before you have your say, hear theirs, but hear with the intent to understand, not with the intent to reply.

Practice empathy

The great Aristotle once said “To perceive is to suffer”. What that means is that in order to understand and identify with the people around you, you will need to relate to them on their level. In other words you need to empathize with them.

It isn’t an easy task though. Most people lack genuine empathy, which is why it is greatly appreciated. Having empathy helps with your overall impression as a kind, caring person. Be careful not to go too far though, don’t stray from your moral boundaries.

Be solution oriented

No matter what the problem is, try to center yourself and go for the solution seeking state of mind. Anything other than that is just a plain waste of time and resources that, believe me, you don’t have. It takes practice, but the end result can turn out to be one of your strongest suits.

Accept responsibility

It is a historical fact that good leaders always, without exception, take responsibility for their actions. It is one of the greatest virtues an influential person can have. Recognize where you have failed, assess the situation, make the most of it and retreat.

Learning from your mistakes will motivate you to work even harder. Being able to perceive the ways in which you can improve is one of the greatest traits a person can have.

Appreciate others

If you are able to acknowledge failure, you should also be able to appreciate success. A simple “thank you” or “good job” goes a long, long way when it comes to interpersonal relationships. If you want people to look up to you, you should motivate them in accordance. Showing gratitude and appreciation is an excellent way to motivate and inspire.

Be a visionary

It isn’t enough to just tick goals off some list.  You need to visualize your goals, give them a shape and sound. You need to make out the edges and the curves, and the possible cracks along the way. Without vision, people will not follow you so eagerly – they might not follow you at all.

Sift through the information

These days it seems that everybody has something to say in front of a camera. The Media is full of irrelevant info. You will need to filter what goes inside your head.  Whatever you see, read or hear, from the smallest trivial thing like a line in a movie to a significant event like a conference or a seminar – filter through it. Consume the information and provide adequate feedback. Keeping your senses sharp to the outside world is key.

Be passionate

Your influence is what creates and nurtures your inner glow. Don’t ever forget that, not even for a second. The only way to achieve something great is if you do it with zeal, with a great fervor. Great goals need constant pursuit, and influence is no different. People need to witness your inner flame to ignite their own.

expanding influence and educationEducate yourself constantly

If you ever get the feeling that you lack knowledge in a certain area – don’t constrain yourself from the urge to fill in that gap. There is no such thing as being overly educated. We learn as long as we live, so why not do it sooner rather than later?

Read books, take classes, engage in training, do whatever it takes to improve your experience. After all, it was Benjamin Franklin who said that “аn investment in knowledge pays the best interest”.

Be a person of integrity and values

Your moral and ethical integrity should be one of the base pillars upon which you build your character. People need to see you as a dependable, trustworthy persona – only then will they open up to your influence.

Keep in mind though – never compromise your moral values. Just because Oscar Wilde couldn’t resist a temptation, doesn’t mean you should cave in to all of your temptations.  Close friends and co-workers can help you and advise you on this topic.

The never ending chase

Remember that there is no such thing as “good enough”. Once you’ve achieved something, move on to the next thing. Set new goals, never let yourself stand in place. The people that you influence will follow in your steps. As Mark Twain once said, “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great”.

Gaining Influence Online

Social media marketing is one of the most powerful ways to gain influence for yourself and your brand online. By using it to effectively become an authority in your niche, you’ll be able to influence your team and your market. Of course, running a business leaves little time to manage social media and consistently put out quality content that your market is looking for. If you outsource social media marketing the right way, you’ll be able to focus on what matters while still expanding your influence.

Increase Your Influence with Hubstaff's Social Media Management

 

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Shopping Cart Software Reviews – Here Are The Top 5

Shopping cart software can greatly help you when you are building an online store. But with so many different shopping cart solutions out there, how do you know which one is the best for your online store? Yep, you’ve guessed it – shopping cart software reviews can be your guide in making the right choice.

Shopping cart software reviews

BigCommerce

Equipped with an almost endless list of features, BigCommerce is one impressive shopping cart software. It uses a simple WYSISWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor that provides for excellent transparency and navigation. BigCommerce requires a fragment of technical knowledge, making it very easy to use. Roughly 20.000 online shops are powered by BigCommerce.

The first thing you will notice about BigCommerce is the infinite amount of features. You can choose from over 120 unique templates, or, if you prefer, you can directly edit the HTML and CSS. Features like the logo editor help you even further with your brand image.

Each and every design template is made for easy use and even easier management. This allows you to delegate your work with ease, in cases where you have more employees. Depending on your account level, you will be provided with a certain number of administrative accounts for better allocation of work.

Your added products can be neatly categorized to help your customers browse with ease, allowing for excellent navigation. Moreover, the integrated search features will get your customer right to his desired product….

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Open Letter to the USPTO

To whom it may concern:

I recently read about your issues with time fraud at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Normally I simply move on after reading this sort of news since there is often times little I can do to solve the issue. But when I read about this problem and the two year investigation that uncovered rampant issues with time tracking I knew I could help.

When SPEs were asked if they have the needed tools to address this abuse, 44 percent said they do not. But there are tools available to curb this issue. I happen to make one such tool called Hubstaff. It runs on a user’s desktop and provides proof of work while they track their time. It significantly reduces time fraud as a result. The software is easy to install and works on all major operating systems.

Hubstaff is extending the offer to allow the USPTO to use our time tracking software completely free of charge. By using this software thousands of hours that are currently unproven, but paid for by the government, would be eliminated. The savings would be in the millions. Those millions of dollars could be better spent on increasing the number of examiners in the workforce to more quickly work through the extensive backlog of pending patents.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is usually spoken about within the software industry in debates about whether software patents should be allowed. It is widely seen as a government agency that has had difficulty keeping abreast of the latest technology and one that issues patents to companies erroneously. Do not let this be another case where the USPTO is unable to adapt and use the very technology it grants patents for to help protect its reputation and the funds provided by hard working tax payers.

Respectfully,

Jared Brown

CTO, Hubstaff, LLC

 

To everyone else:

Sign our petition on change.org to urge the USPTO to use a time tracking tool with proof of work.

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3 Lessons in Building a Remote Startup to $11,500 in MRR

Hubstaff's Current Monthly MRR

Hubstaff’s Current Monthly MRR (Calculated by Baremetrics)

It seems every time you look around these days there’s an IPO, a startup getting acquired or a remote startup getting funded.  While you can attain some motivation from these examples it’s important, I think, to realize that these businesses are the exception not the rule. We started building this business at the end of 2012, and just recently we are starting to get some good traction and growth.

$11,566 is NOT a lot of money because it costs us more than that to develop the product every month, but it’s a very positive start.  Neither Jared or I are satisfied with the growth rate of Hubstaff so far, but we have a good idea how to fix it (more features and integrations).  It’s a lot of work for a little money up front, as always, but as you continue pushing day in day out good things start to happen.

We’ve learned a lot about software sales with this project, and below are some of the very high level considerations that you can probably learn from as you build your businesses.

1) Consider Market Size and Competition

Keyword research is great even if you don’t plan on focusing on SEO or paid media.  You can use it to gain a deep understanding of your market and what your potential clients are looking for.  There are some keywords here that may seem irrelevant but they are included so that you can see the differences in market size. When you are looking at keywords you want to think about three high level things:

  • Search Volume – This is how many people are searching for the keywords
  • Long Tail Keywords – This is the variations that people use as they search for a given product. Some have thousands of variations and some have very few.  The more the better.
  • Bid Price – This allows you to understand what others are paying for the keywords. You can combine this with volume stats to get some interesting metrics.
determine market size

You can access all of this for free in Google Adwords

Our market is primarily “time tracking software” and there are a lot of competitors in that space and relatively low search volumes. This is something that I wish we would have paid more attention to early on.  Market size has definitely been a limiting factor on Hubstaff so far, and based on the numbers above, you can probably understand that selling accounting software (awesome Hubstaff client) may be more lucrative than time tracking software based solely on the numbers because it’s approximately 4x the size in searches.

But at Hubstaff, we aren’t “just” time tracking software.  We have screenshots, activity levels, and other similar features that allow our software to stand out.  But the question is how many people are really searching for time tracking software with these features?  According to the data above, not many…

The market you build in is probably the most important aspect of a startup and it can have the most profound impact on your success with the least effort (you’ve got to take all you can get).  You can see that in the example above “golf clubs” has a lot of searches, and a low bid price, but you’ve also got to consider competition, barrier to entry, and competition.

2) Consider Product Price

People underestimate how hard it is to really get traction when you are talking about charging an average of 27$ a month. That’s not a lot of money, and it contributes greatly to our overall revenue growth numbers.  Here’s where we are at right now in terms of monthly recurring revenue and current customers.

Hubstaff's Current Monthly MRR

Hubstaff’s Current Monthly MRR (Calculated by Baremetrics)

Hubstaff Current Customers

Hubstaff Current Customers

If you do the math, it ends up being around $27 per subscription and that’s the core issue.  We charge $5 a user and our average client has around 5 users.  We’ve tested this and for our current technology, $5 a user seems to be acceptable for most clients (we are considering raising the price when we get app monitoring included which is not too far off).  Regardless, we are at $27 a month. By contrast check out what Kiss Metrics charges:

kiss

Kiss Metrics Pricing Page

This type of pricing is pretty typical for the “analytics” industry.  We searched for a long time and eventually landed on Mixpanel over Kiss Metrics because they allowed us to get the product for free by putting a badge in our footer.  But just think about how much faster the revenue would add up. kissmetrics

3) Consider the Size of Client

Most of our clients are smaller in size and starting out their teams with contracting. They have 3-10 people on their team (Hubstaff has much larger businesses using the software but we are working on averages). Here’s the thing… If you look at the average client that we’re talking about in the above example, they are most likely somewhat cost conscientious.

Compare this to a business like Baremetrics – who is mostly dealing with clients that are well established and cash positive. Baremetrics provides metrics for businesses like Buffer, and other companies that use Stripe as their payment processor. Baremetrics has an open policy themselves and is what inspired us to do the same… You can see their live numbers here. baremetrics Think about this on a deep level for a minute and you’ll see the important lesson here. The Baremetrics product appeals ONLY to businesses that have gotten to the point of integrating the Stripe payment processor into their software app, and have payments coming in.  If they didn’t have payments coming in, then they wouldn’t need metrics…

Hubstaff on the other hand is used by a lot of clients that are just getting started.  Maybe they are building a new app, or they are starting an agency, etc… They may not even have a client yet.

But we still wouldn’t trade our business for the world! The above points are just things that I wish we would have thought through before we started the business because there is a TON of time and money it takes to get these businesses off the ground.

There are positives that greatly outweigh the negatives such as barrier to entry for the product (the amount of engineering we’ve put into Hubstaff is insane), a growing industry, the viral coefficient, and more.  The goal here is simply to look back at a high level on some of the things we would have considered closer before we started.

The Honorable Mention “ah-ha’s” we’ve had while building Hubstaff:

  • Focus on web software if possible, not client side.  Desktop applications are much harder and makes the product exponentially more complex because you have to design for three operating systems.
  • Think about the cost of support.  How many people per paying customer do you have to support?  For Hubstaff, it’s an average of 5 employees that need support for every one paying customer (our whole model is based on tracking contractor time).

That’s it for now… If you like this post, please consider sharing or commenting.  This is a test to see if we want to continue publishing our numbers and creating this “open” style of post.  Hope you enjoyed!

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Outsourcing Software Development – Painless Methods the Top HR Firms Use

You’re considering outsourcing software development and you want to know how to do it properly. You have probably heard stories about people hiring offshore software developers and getting disappointed. It is hard to avoid the low skilled software developers who will do anything to get a job.

You might fear that you won’t get the best results in the long run, despite putting in a lot of effort. But there are some good tips that I’ll share with you to help make the search a lot easier. It’s great advice that makes the difference between you finding the most productive remote staff and ending up with some useless freelancers.

Being clear about what you need regarding software development

Companies run into outsourcing problems when they don’t clearly communicate what they need. After all, you’re probably going to be outsourcing to other continents, like Asia for example. Of course, whether you’re working with foreign employees or not, your job specifications need to be detailed.

Whether you’re writing a job post for a freelance website or job board, the rules are the same regarding clarity. You should communicate your needs in a clear and concise way.

  • State whether you need remote staff for a one-time project or long-term
  • Specify the required qualifications for the work
  • Give detailed expectations about the results that you’re expecting
  • Define deadlines for certain projects or tasks

On working with local software developers

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Looking for Time Tracking Like oDesk? Check Out the Top Alternatives

Do you want to monitor your employees and use time tracking like oDesk? There are lots of time tracking applications available so it can be a challenge to find the right application for your needs.

Are you worried that it might take you too long to find the best time tracking software? There is only one way to know which time tracking software is right for you – by reading reviews of the best time tracking apps.

Hubstaff

Hubstaff’s time tracking application is easy to use and very convenient for your employees. It comes with a light application that runs in the background, allowing your employees to work without interruptions. As soon as your employees start a project, Hubstaff’s time tracking software starts recording time and takes screenshots.

time tracking like odesk windows

Hubstaff’s inactivity monitors enable you to only pay for the time worked. Managers have an easy to use dashboard that shows the level of productivity of every employee. One quick glance at the dashboard allows you to see who is working, who is online and how much time each employee has tracked.

If you need to track time for projects, you can do that too, with Hubstaff’s time tracking app. The number of projects that you can set up is unlimited. All the details regarding your projects are available on your dashboard.

This time tracking app takes random screenshots; you can modify the number of screenshots taken every 10 minutes. In addition to screenshot monitoring, the application also records the mouse movements and keyboard strokes. Hubstaff also integrates with popular project management solutions – there is time tracking for Basecamp, Asana, PivotalTracker, and more on the way….

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Solve Your ‘Find Good Employee On oDesk’ Issues With These Great Tips

You’ve chosen oDesk as your primary contractor website, but you’re still not sure how to find employees on that site. You know that oDesk and similar freelance websites are filled with scammers. You might be even thinking that typing a phrase like ‘find good employee on odesk’ into your search engine wasn’t such a good idea?

It is actually great that you are looking for advice since the many freelance websites do confuse most people (in fact, we did a post specifically about the differences between oDesk, Elance, and Freelancer). You’re not only worried about getting scammed, but also about potential wasted time. I am sure that you have heard about clients hiring inadequate freelancers. This often ends in disaster with a lot of wasted time and money.

Another fear that you might have is that you will spend too much money on good contractors. There is a way to find great contractors on oDesk without having to deal with scammers or spending too much money on high-end professionals.

Choosing the right job post title

Most clients write boring titles for job posts. Let’s say that someone is looking for a web developer. Most employers will write something boring, like “I need someone who knows coding.” The right title subject would be “Looking for a reliable and easy-going programmer for hip mobile apps”.

If you were a freelancer, you would probably go for the second, more interesting job post. As a job poster, you want to avoid coming across as bland or stuck up. Be specific but don’t forget to sound casual and energetic when writing job post titles….

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Why a Writing Team for Chiropractors Is Necessary to Promote Your Practice

Think about the last chiropractic blog you saw. Did it impress you, engage you or make you want to learn more about that chiropractor? If you found the content engaging, refreshing and addictive, this was no accident. I’ll let you in on a little secret – in most cases a well done chiropractic blog is created by outsourcing to a specialized writing team for chiropractors.

While there are some excellent chiropractor blogs that are maintained by the business owner – this is rare. Most chiropractors simply lack the training, skills or time required to do content marketing well. Running a chiropractic business is complex enough as it is. You shouldn’t have to do your own marketing or bother learning another skill that takes 5 years to master.

Why Chiropractic Blogs and Content Marketing?

The statistics and studies tell the truth about cold calling, TV & Radio commercials and newspaper ads. Old school marketing tactics are expensive and have little to show for it. You waste a ton of money and see little return, if any. Content marketing is a far superior and yet underutilized way of marketing in the chiropractic field.

“Doing content marketing” simply means that you attract customers and clients by providing useful and valuable information and advice

Let’s say that you have a potential customer out there, her name is Jane. As it turns out Jane has a curious question about her back pain. She’s wondering how come her regular pain medications are useless when it comes to back pain.

As a blog author, you want to imagine you’re speaking to Jane directly. You want to write an article that answers her question directly. You literally want to sit down, think about the hypothetical person with the hypothetical question, and write a blog post as if you’re talking to her directly….

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Simple Remote Staffing Solutions You Can Use

Having a hard time finding the right staff for your web agency? With the advent of remote staffing, finding the right employees has become a real challenge. There are so many contractors online, which makes it hard to find out who’s really competent among them.

Have you ever had to deal with slackers or low-skilled contractors who pretended to be professionals? Welcome to the world of remote staffing. On one hand, it’s a great way to improve efficiency and to automate the workflow. But on the other hand, good remote contractors aren’t even easy to find, let alone manage as a team.

The vast majority of employers look for remote staffing solutions on freelance websites

Freelance websites like Fiverr and Freelancer have millions of available contractors. Joining these websites in order to find the right contractors is what most employers do when they want to assemble a team.

Freelance websites may seem great at first, but anyone who has tried to find contractors there has quickly realized that it’s not as easy as it seems….

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How Real Estate Virtual Assistants Can Help Expand Your Business

In today’s real estate jungle, it’s hard to keep doing things alone. Sure, you get to keep all the profit to yourself, but for how long can you keep up? The idea is bigger than that, isn’t it? You need to look further. You need to look at the bigger picture, preferably one that involves real estate virtual assistants.

Once you’ve acknowledged that you aren’t superhuman, move on to the next step. As a real estate professional, delegating some of the work you do would benefit you in various ways, giving you some spare time to focus on other profit-oriented activities first and foremost. Real estate virtual assistants can provide you with the edge you need to thrive in the real estate market.

virtual assistants

So what exactly do real estate virtual assistants do?

The idea is that, even if you are a good, or even excellent real estate agent, there is a point where you know that you will need to hire some additional firepower.

The truth is that you can’t be your own assistant, and until you get one, you are one. There some benefits to using a real estate virtual assistant…

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