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3 Invaluable Apps for the Novice Marketer

When it comes to social media, I am the first to admit that I have a lot to learn; however, in this day and age, social media is a critical component of most marketing plans. Being a novice marketer myself, these are my top apps for creating and managing social media posts:

#1 – Canva

For creating content, Canva is my favorite, easy to use, free resource. I use this app to create graphics and media for events, advertisement, and blogs. The app offers thousands of pre-made, easily customizable templates from which to choose and allows users to share designs with coworkers. It is an excellent resource for those who want professional-looking, eye-catching designs without a significant investment of time or money.

You can see a few of the graphics I’ve made on Canva below – all of which took 30 minutes or less to create.

#2 – Buffer

One of my greatest annoyances with social media is the limited ability to plan posts ahead of time. However, Buffer offers the opportunity to schedule posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn for free!

As with any basic plan, there are limitations, so sticking to the free option limits the profile to 3 social media accounts, 10 posts a month, and 1 user. For our small business, we found this sufficient; however, we may consider upgrading to a more advanced plan in time.

Since Facebook allows you to schedule posts on its business pages, we currently use Buffer for LinkedIn and Instagram. We love how it suggests times for posts and how easy it is to write and schedule a post. But, we prefer Tweet Deck for Twitter.

#3 – Tweet Deck

Tweet Deck is far more robust in its offerings for Twitter than Buffer. It aggregates your account’s home page, followed hashtags, notifications, and scheduled posts all in one place making it super easy to engage your audience.

As shown in the graphic above, the design is intuitive, user-friendly, and customizable.

Proceed with Caution

Generally, as a lean-minded engineer, I would advise against using disparate systems or platforms for your marketing needs as it prevents cross-examination of metrics, creates inefficiency, and hinders a holistic view. However, sometimes it is necessary to deal with these negative consequences for the time being as you wait for your business to grow and develop.

As finances and priorities allow, I would recommend eventually moving everything to one marketing platform. And, I would advise keeping this goal in mind as you test out these various apps to determine which will be the best for long-term use across all your social media accounts.

We are always looking for new tools.
What apps or websites would you recommend testing out?

Healthy Mind, Healthy Grind

Last month was full of #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth posts enlightening and challenging readers to break the stigma by sharing their own experiences and starting the conversation about mental health with others. In perusing some of the posts, I stumbled across an article published by Forbes which stated entrepreneurs are 50% more likely to have a mental health condition. Not only that, but 72% of entrepreneurs surveyed expressed alarm about their own mental health. Wow!

Really, this shouldn’t be surprising. The stress carried by small business owners, entrepreneurs, and freelancers far surpasses the stress of a structured, reliable 9 to 5 job. The uncertainty of the next paycheck, the constant drive for growth and success, as well as the long days and sleepless nights eventually take a toll on the once bright-eyed, hopeful business person. And no doubt, prolonged stress can lead to anxiety, depression, and a host of other mental health conditions that inevitably negatively impact the daily grind. And that’s why I’m so pleased and delighted that business conferences like Spark.me are taking a bold stand by weaving discussions about mental health throughout the sessions; truly, we cannot expect a healthy business if we ourselves are not healthy.

Having battled anxiety myself, I want to do my part to break the stigma by sharing some of the tips that have been most effective in managing stress and anxiety in my own life:

#1 – Get Back to the Basics

I don’t know about you, but when I get stressed, I begin to forgo all my previously adhered to healthy habits. I replace healthy eating with repeated indulgences in sweets and ditch the regular exercise for a nap on the couch with Netflix playing in the background. But, slacking on healthy habits during high stress seasons only makes matters worse. So, my first piece of advice is to get back to the basics of healthy living by focusing on a healthy diet, regular exercise, and 6-8 hours of sleep each night.

Who knows, this renewed focus might even remind you of basic business principles and refresh your outlook. For a personal example, check out Business Lessons I Learned From a Diet.

#2 – Create Some Stability

Feeling unable to control my circumstances, my schedule, or my progress at work is a leading cause of stress in my life. To mitigate those stressors, I’ve found that building some small certainties into my day can be particularly helpful. The beginning and ending parts of my day are the most easy to control, so I have chosen to start and end my day the same way by following morning and night routines consisting of activities that I enjoy and that alleviate stress. For me, this looks like:

Morning routine: drinking coffee, praying, and reading the Bible

Evening routine: drinking tea, journaling, writing out 5 thanks, using lavender oil, and avoiding all technology one hour before bed

The key is to develop routines that are simple, realistic, and enjoyable. Your morning routine should consist of something that you look forward to as soon as you wake up while your evening routine should be something that helps you unwind from the stresses of the day.

Knowing that no matter what craziness happens during the day, the book ends will remain the same can be particularly comforting. Plus, routine trains your brain to begin waking up and unwinding as you start and end the day with the same habits.

#3 – Release the Repeating Thoughts

In the height of stress, I sometimes find myself unable to sleep because of all the anxious thoughts playing on repeat in my mind, which makes accomplishing tip #1 impossible. So, here’s my battle plan for releasing those thoughts:

  • Journal – write out the repeating thoughts and anxious concerns.
  • Distract – read a book that’s completely stress free and relaxing.
  • Redirect – make your last thoughts before bed thankful and positive.

#4 – Build a Community

Intense stress can create an environment prone to isolation as we try to hold it together and put up the front that everything is ok when it’s really not. Life really is better together, so fight that trajectory by intentionally surrounding yourself with people who love and support you. People you can really trust and in whom you can confide. Whether a long-time friend, a counselor, or a coworker, having a listening ear can go a long way in processing and releasing stress.

If you find yourself lacking that community, please come visit us at Beta Bar Coworking. We aim to create an honest, authentic environment, and we’d love to continue the dialogue of healthy mind, healthy grind!

 

Self-Discovery Through Life’s Changes

The flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, and there is a new freshness in the air. These facts can only mean one thing – spring is here! The seasons are changing, and but chances are that’s not the only thing changing in your life or mine.

The beginning of a new job, the expansion of a business, the birth of a baby, all of these are the start of a new season. And, similar to the changes in weather, changes in life’s seasons bring a plethora of emotions – sadness, excitement, fear, and hope. Having endured many career changes in the past several years, I’ve found two tips to be particularly helpful in navigating the change curve more quickly.

#1 – Take Time to Reflect:

Write it out.

For me, this is one of the best ways to reflect on the past. Writing helps keep your thoughts focused and allows you to process more effectively. Sometimes intentionally taking the time to write out your reflections allows you to recognize and identify parts of the experience you might not have noticed otherwise. It’s a great tool to help with processing.

Recently, I wrote a blog post highlighting lessons I learned through internships. As I wrote about each experience, I was surprised by all I learned. I had never really taken the time to think back on what I gained from those work experiences, and by taking the time to reflect now, I realized how much my internships have impacted me. Writing it out forced me to focus and see what I hadn’t taken the time to see before.

You don’t have to write a blog post or even a full journal entry, but even taking the time to list out a few things can help you moving forward.

Recognize where you excelled.

It can be really encouraging to look back at your previous experiences and see the many ways you’ve grown through them, but acknowledging where you excelled can be particularly insightful. Taking time to consider these strengths can give you confidence moving forward into the unknown and can make you aware of ways you can thrive in your new role. Understanding and leveraging your strengths can be a great positive focal point as you enter uncertainty.

Identify growth areas.

It’s important, though, to have a balanced approach and also consider your weaknesses. What are some areas in which you still need to grow? I have been given the advice that your weaknesses don’t have to become your strengths, but you do need to improve them enough that they aren’t hindrances to your progress.

Don’t let this list of weaknesses discourage you, rather, view each weakness as a challenge. Push yourself to grow in these areas and be aware that they are weaknesses. And, remember to think back to how you have grown. Perhaps something that was once a weakness is no longer a problem for you. Be encouraged by that!

#2 – Move Forward with a Plan:

Now that you have these insights about your previous season of life, it is time to use them. Make a plan. Consider how the lessons you have learned are going to benefit you in the future. Come up with a strategy to utilize your strengths in your new role. Or, if you’re still looking for a new job, consider what types of jobs are going to play to your strengths. Take the lessons you have learned and let them help guide you moving forward.

Be selective.

One of the hardest lessons for me lately has been learning its ok to turn an opportunity down. As I approach college graduation and entering the workforce, choosing to be selective has been a very important lesson for me. I am more aware that some jobs just aren’t the right fit. I am also putting into action what I have learned about myself, my strengths, and my weaknesses. The jobs I am considering require me to use my strengths, while not being as focused on my weaknesses. The insights you gain from your time of reflection can be some of your most powerful tools as you weather the new season ahead.

Mitigate the risks.

Knowing your weaknesses can help you understand some of your greatest risks to achieving your goals. Again, use your reflections to make a plan. How are you going to keep your weaknesses from slowing you down? Come up with some action steps that will help you grow your weaknesses so they won’t hold you back anymore.

Not very confident in your social media skills? Challenge yourself to post something on social media every week. Do you struggle with procrastination? Make a to-do list with due dates to keep yourself on track. Maybe your struggle is a lack of creativity. Plan to read a fiction book every night, or work on an art project. You probably won’t become Van Gough, but you can challenge yourself to think outside the box. Consider some ways to expand your comfort zone. Doing so can open up more opportunities for you to explore.

Looking forward to a new season can also be a good reminder to look back at the old. It can be a time of long overdue reflection that uncovers insights about yourself that help you in your new role. Beginning something new is challenging and exciting. Let it be chance to utilize your strengths and bolster your weaknesses. Take time to reflect and make a plan as you enter the unfamiliar.

3 Ways to Spice Up Your Meetings

From the small start-up to the large corporation and everything in between, meetings are a necessary (although sometimes dreaded) aspect of the workplace. Having spent more hours in meetings than I’d like to admit, I’ve learned that introducing an element of surprise into the monotony can be the perfect catalyst for creativity and productivity. These are some of my favorite, easy-to-implement ways to break through the mundane meeting:

#1 – Go For a Walk

Sometimes you just need to break away from the conference room and go for a quick walk. And, you know what? Your coworkers need it, too! A little exercise refreshes your mind, gets your blood flowing, and often can lead to a more efficient meeting. I used to work in a refurbished factory and often my coworkers and I would brainstorm new solutions or ideas by walking the halls. We’d set a target that by the time we finished a lap around the building that we’d have our agenda items discussed and an action plan in mind. As an added bonus, we sometimes even ran into a subject-matter expert in the hallway and were able to have an impromptu discussion, thereby avoiding another scheduled meeting later.

#2 – Change the Scenery

Have you ever had a meeting that you were nervous having? I have, and one of my favorite ways to overcome the nervousness is to change the location. Once I had a meeting with a busy executive with whom I requested a brief meeting. When I approached her office at the appointed time, I found her trying to quickly finish her lunch. Instead of heading to the conference room as planned, I invited her to the courtyard where she finished her lunch and where I proposed my idea. It was neutral ground for us both, which made me feel more relaxed. Far more refreshing than a stuffy conference room, the courtyard provided a beautiful meeting space that still provided the privacy needed for the conversation. Spring time is the perfect time to spice things up with an outdoor meeting!

#3 – Ditch the PowerPoint

My last tip comes from likely the most crucial meeting in my young career. Following an organizational change, I ended up reporting to a new manager and was asked to present what I’d been working on and asked to pretty much make a case for why my role was needed going forward. Dutifully in alignment with our corporate culture, I prepared a PowerPoint deck outlining my projects and their statuses. However, the day before my meeting, my supervisor berated PowerPoint and its overuse in our organization during our weekly staff meeting. Oops…

I wanted to show him that I was listening, but I also wanted to prove the critical role that I played in the organization in light of rumored further cost reductions. After consulting a friend, I took a risk and ditched the PowerPoint. Instead, I walked into his office, asked him to join me at his side table (which he reluctantly did), pulled out white copy paper, and began drawing. He looked at me like I had lost my mind, but you know what? It was by far one of the best meetings I’ve ever had. My presentation was far more memorable and interactive than the others he’d heard that day, and he was appreciative of my initiative to try something new and act on the feedback he’d shared. And, as an added bonus, I got to keep my job!

Whiteboarding is one of my favorite ways to liven up a meeting because drawing takes time and invites discussion and collaboration. Plus, it’s adaptable to the conversation; you can even invite the other person to add to the drawing. Depending on the size of the meeting and location, you can use a whiteboard, plain copy paper, or even a computer or projector.

How do YOU spice up your meetings?

17 Best Marketing Books Every Marketer Should Read

Leaders are readers. They self-educate by reading.

When asked how he learned to build rockets, Elon Musk said, “I read books.”

Bill Gates says he learns by visiting interesting places, meeting with scientists, and watching lectures online: “But reading is still the main way that I both learn new things and test my understanding.”

Here are the best marketing books that every marketer should read to stay ahead in the field:

#1. Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is about Help Not Hype
In Youtility, Jay Baer lays the groundwork for success in content marketing. It can be summed up in this powerhouse statement:

“What if — faced with more competition than ever before — you stopped trying to be amazing, and just started being useful?”

Jay’s Youtility lays out a path to make your marketing inherently useful, rather than inherently self-promotional. It shifted the way organizations think about content and being useful – I still go back to those philosophies with every piece of content I create.

In this book, you’ll learn:

  • How to make your marketing useful and appetizing to your audience.
  • A guide to cutting through the clut­ter: marketing that is truly, inherently useful.
  • How to apply this mantra: “If you sell something, you make a customer today, but if you genuinely help someone, you create a customer for life.”

#2. Content Strategy for the Web
Next up on our best marketing books list is Kristina Halvorson’s Content Strategy for the Web.

In this book, Kristina shows that the linchpin of an effective website is meaningful content. But creating and delivering said content can feel like a black box if you’re new (or if things haven’t been going so hot). Content Strategy for the Web explains how to create and deliver amazing content for just the right people, when and where they need it most.

In this book, you will learn:

  • What value content marketing can provide your business.
  • How you can make great content a part of your ongoing digital strategy.
  • And great, practical advice about how to stay the course of content marketing.

#3. Managing Content Marketing: The Real-World Guide for Creating Passionate Subscribers to Your Brand
According to Rose and Pulizzi, the average brand spends over 25% of their total marketing budget on content marketing. In their opinion, what’s missing from the success equation isn’t first dollars, it’s process. You know you need to create and publish amazing content that attracts an audience. This book lays out a foundational strategy to turn ideas into actual process you can execute.

In this book, you will learn:

  • If you’re in an organization that needs to pitch ideas, this lays out the use case for content marketing (and beyond) so you can get the buy-in you need to change process, manage the team, and more.
  • The book will help you learn all about the story-line that will best connect with your audience to guide every marketing effort.
  • And lastly, it helps you break down the high-level ideas into workflow and collaborative processes that actually work.

#4. UnMarketing: Stop Marketing, Start Engaging
UnMarketing makes our best marketing books list because of its emphasis on listening to your audience, engaging them in something meaningful, and then building trust that leads to a purchase.

The book puts it well:

“No one likes cold calls at dinnertime, junk mail overflowing your mailbox, and advertisements that interrupt your favorite shows. If this is ‘marketing,’ then the world would probably prefer whatever is the opposite of that.”

It’s a great primer on permission marketing rather than interruption marketing. Scott’s advice is to, “Stop marketing. Start UnMarketing.” Scott unapologetically casts aside traditional marketing techniques that are outdated and disconnected from the needs of the customer. It’s full of brutal honesty that slaps some sense into you accompanied with a side of humor.

In this book, you will learn:

  • Readers will learn to question their current marketing techniques and opt for a more customer-centric approach.
  • The key takeaways revolve around engagement, relationship building, and customer trust.
  • Overall, a person should walk away from this book with a more genuine…even human… approach to marketing.

#5. Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence
As a marketer, the more you grow, the quicker you realize the best marketing books really do span disciplines. Storytelling is an essential skill today. That’s why this pick is so important!

In Wired for Story, author Lisa Cron takes a deep dive into what keeps an audience “transfixed,” and their brains craving more.

The book is a brilliant how-to on doing what engaging copy must do: “ignite the brain’s hardwired desire to learn what happens next.” With nods to the evolutionary purpose of story to electrify human curiosity, marketers will be equipped to spin yarns that drive traffic, engagement, and brand-audience relationships that drive sales.

In this book, you will learn:

  • How to construct a story and how to keep your audience engaged backed by recent breakthroughs in neuroscience.
  • How the ideal elements of the „perfect“ story have been used since the beginning of time.
  • How to construct the kind of copy that keeps your audience entertained AND engaged.

#6. Digital Influence: Unleash the Power of Influencer Marketing to Accelerate Your  Global Business
Digital Influence brings order to the chaotic and rapidly evolving world of influencer marketing by providing readers with much needed context, frameworks, and best practices. Written for busy marketing professionals working in both domestic and international markets, it addresses these topics in a highly actionable and engaging manner.

In this book, you will learn:

  • How to identify the right influencers and determine “level of influence” to collaborating with influencers and measuring ROI.
  • Why influencer marketing is flourishing today, and perspective into what a more technologically-enabled, globally-connected future will look like.

#7. Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins
2018 Spark.Me speaker and author Mark Schaefer provides an achievable and realistic framework to help you stay ahead of the curve by re-imagining marketing in a world where hyper-empowered consumers drive the business results.

In this book, you will learn:

  • How cataclysmic consumer trends are a predictable result of a revolution that started 100 years ago.
  • Why businesses must be built on human impressions instead of advertising impressions.
  • The five constant human truths at the heart of successful marketing strategy.
  • Why customer loyalty is dying and what you need to do about it right now.
  • How to help your best customers do the marketing for you.
  • Actionable steps to provide an immediate course-correction for businesses of any size.

#8. 10x Marketing Formula: Your Blueprint for Creating ‘Competition-Free Content’ That Stands Out and Gets Results
If content is part of your marketing strategy, this book will put you light years ahead. The three most valuable concepts are competition-free content, content core and its conversion psychology framework.

  • Competition-Free Content: Competition-free content is content that adds tremendous value to your customers and audience that only you can produce. It’s content that stands out through topic, structure or media type. And, it renders competition irrelevant because this is uncontested space.
  • Content Core: The content core is the quickest way to turn your content into revenue and is arguably the most important part of your marketing. It’s content that connects the dots between what your audience wants and the value your business provides. (If you only read one chapter in this book, make this the one.)
  • Conversion Psychology: Understanding the psychology of why people click, try, and buy is fundamentally important to converting audience members into paying customers. And this is the whole job of marketing! This framework that Garrett describes the customer’s journey from unaware of your existence to raving about your product.

#9. Purple Cow
This book explains the importance of standing out in crowded marketplaces, like a „purple cow“ might in a field of, well, ordinary cows.

#10. Ogilvy on Advertising
No individual has had a greater impact on advertising and the art of copywriting than David Ogilvy. Ogilvy on Advertising collects his thoughts on a wide variety of aspects of the industry.

#11. Epic Content Marketing
Joe Pulizzi knows his stuff about content marketing. As the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, there are few better authors in the business to learn from.

#12. Confessions of an Advertising Man
David Ogilvy is one of the most influential figures in marketing and advertising history. That much is widely-known, and at this point, doesn’t need to be reiterated. This book was instrumental in cementing his place in history back when it was first published in 1963, and it’s still worth reading today.

#13. This Is Marketing
This book covers everything from building trust with your target audience, the art of positioning, why old approaches no longer work, and more. It’s one you’ll want to add to your must-read list.

#14. Crushing It
It comes as little surprise to see Gary Vaynerchuk on this list. To call him immensely influential would be an understatement, and his latest book is a great read whether you’re a long-time fan or have never picked up any of his stuff before.

#15. Building A Brand Story
Marketers are often told storytelling is key to brand-building. But, when it comes to actually infuse their strategy with a story, things get a bit fuzzy. Donald Miller’s Building A Story Brand removes that shroud of mystery.

#16. The Tipping Point
How do certain ideas or products break through and spread across the public consciousness? That’s exactly what Malcolm Gladwell explores in The Tipping Point.

#17. Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content
In Everybody Writes, top marketing veteran Ann Handley gives expert guidance and insight into the process and strategy of content creation, production and publishing, with actionable how-to advice designed to get results.

Alright, now that you’ve done all of this reading about reading… It’s time to go read 🤓

Create a Dream Team Using the Birkman Method

How well do you really know your team? Who are they? What drives them? When these questions are answered, you’ll likely discover your team is a lot stronger than you first thought! The Birkman Method is a great tool to creating your dream team and becoming aware of all you have to offer.

What is the Birkman Method?

The Birkman Method is not like other personality tests. It is a science-backed assessment methodology, which dives deep into your behavior, perceptions and personality to help you understand the why behind your traits and interpersonal dynamics. It looks into what drives you and where your interests are.

What makes a team a dream team is by aligning each team member to support its strategic goals. Each team member brings distinctive strengths and capabilities to the team. The Birkman identifies these strengths and capabilities in a framework of four types: communicator, thinker, doer, or analyzer.

Like points on a compass, these strengths represent four kinds of individual focus, all critical to a dream team. Each strength, represented by a different color, identifies the basic
motivational direction that drives us toward our interests, overall approach and predispositions. These styles, or colors, filter our worldview and determine how we choose to approach work, solve problems and relate to people around us. Combinations of these styles create a dream team that provide diversity and significantly increase potential for optimal solutions.

The Birkman Method uses these colors to easily convey meaning of personality characteristics while also calling attention to the differences found within these characteristics. The four colors act as descriptions to help each person understand differences in personality. Many behavioral assessment tools often trap people by confining them to one type. The Birkman Method understands the unique traits that any one person may have might not conform nicely to an assigned category and takes into account the God-given diversity in each person.

Learn About Yourself

After reading my full Birkman report, the Interest section was one of the most helpful for me. This section uses 10 areas of interests and offers a score for each one. If you score higher than 85%, then this area of interest is not a want but an actual need. Also, if you score lower than 10%, these area of interest are ones that drain you or you have an aversion to. You may have a general idea of what you are interested in, but the Birkman can help reveal those interests in a clearer way.

Understanding areas of interest can help show areas where you will thrive. The areas in which a person scores highest in, are likely the areas of work they will be most motivated in to do a good job and to invest in.

Mark Twain said: “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

When the work you are doing is something that you want to do, you will find that you put more care and effort into it. Those things matter to you, you want them to turn out well. It is important to find these areas that you are interested and pursue them. This works in reverse too. Regular responsibilities that require you to invest in areas you have a low interest score may cause higher stress and be harmful to the rest of the team.

Know Your Team

Now that you know who you are, the ways you work best, and what motivates, you can better build your dream team. Diversity is important to build a dream team, but diversity also can cause friction and stress if we do not understand each other better and on how we can communicate with each other effectively. Uncover and understand team strengths, challenges and motivations with the Birkman will help you get to dream team status.

At a recent company retreat, we discussed our Birkman reports and shared information about ourselves. We took time to get to know each others’ interests and strengths. As we talked, we discovered how different that we can be, yet how much we need each other. Each person has something unique that they bring to the table, and it can strengthen our appreciation for each other.

In every business or organization, unique personalities merge to create a dynamic environment which drives morale, engagement, and performance. Connecting team members with differing communication and work styles is one of the key challenges that organizations face. Birkman provides the tools to integrate diverse individuals into dream teams that achieve better productivity and success, and have the framework to resolve conflict and become more resilient.

Putting The Birkman to Use

As you recognize that there are unique gifts and personalities on your team, use them! Information is great to have, but having information is useless unless put it into action. Discover how to utilize the strengths of your teammates.

When leaders know the skills and strengths each individual brings to the team, they can use them to their fullest. It would be a waste for these strengths to go unused.

It also helps with communication. As you begin to realize your differences, you will likely find that people prefer to communicate using different mediums and express thoughts in different ways. Understanding why someone communicates in a different manner than you do can help in avoiding additional and unnecessary conflict.

Leaders will benefit a lot from this as well. It can be amazing how two people can respond to a situation so differently. There have been days that I’ve arrived to work with a to-do list in my inbox. For me, it was perfect. I could sit down and very clearly see what was expected of me and begin working. Yet for others, this would have been demeaning, and they could feel controlled and micromanaged.

Other Advice?

Don’t let any test confine you or your team. Be aware that no test can fully understand a person’s strengths and abilities. Also, be careful not to allow the results to be an excuse to get out of tasks or responsibilities. For example, just because you are a thinker doesn’t mean that you should not play the role of communicator. Don’t limit yourself to the strength the test suggests you have, and please feel free to keep exploring!

The Birkman Method is a great tool for building your dream team. It can be a great way to discover your potential in ways that you never knew that your team possessed. Recognizing your team is made up of unique individuals with different offerings can help you thrive to create the dream team.

Why Coworking is Better than Working in a Coffee Shop

Last week I was talking to a coworker who stopped by to test Beta Bar Coworking for the day. She’d traveled throughout Europe and Asia extensively as a digital nomad working in a variety of venues including coworking spaces, coffee shops, and hotels.

As our discussion of her travels continued, I was reminded of a few of my own reasons for why coworking beats working from a coffee shop any day:

#1: No equipment

Have you ever been drafting an urgent email or completing a critical business task only to see that low battery warning pop up in the corner of your computer screen? We all have; the only thing worse is being in a coffee shop and realizing there’s nowhere to plug in your dying computer. Add to that inconvenience a need for printing a contract or scanning a requirements document, and it’s clear that a coffee shop falls short of the basic needs for doing business.

Any standard coworking space will prioritize providing ample power outlets throughout the facility and provide for basic business needs like printing, scanning, and high-speed internet.

#2: Smokey air

In the Balkans in particular, non-smoking areas are nearly non-existent in coffee shops. So, in order to work from a coffee shop here, you have to endure hours of breathing smokey air. In my case, I left with watery, red, itchy eyes – no fun after a full day of work.

Coworking spaces typically offer non-smoking facilities with designated smoking areas for our smoking friends.

#3: Judgy eyes

Whether from coffee shop workers or other visitors, it is always easy to tell when you’ve overstayed your welcome. Even when ordering items from the menu throughout the day, there still comes a point when restaurant owners would rather you give up your table for those who will order more than a perpetual supply of coffee and low-priced food items.

Coworking spaces are designed for people who are driven to work hard. Whether you choose a dedicated desk or flexible workspace, you’ll never be greeted with judgy eyes for wanting to work longer – maybe just a gentle reminder about the importance of work-life balance for the entrepreneur.


via GIPHY

#4: Security concerns

One of my least favorite parts of working in a coffee shop is when all that coffee intake finally hits, and I need to run to the restroom, which means I need to pack up all of my stuff and chance losing my table. The risk of losing my computer outweighs the hassle of packing everything up to take with me, but then I have to start the whole process of getting a table and ordering again, which means wasted time.

At a coworking space, you really get to know the people with whom you work and develop a layer of trust within the community. You never have to worry about leaving your items unattended because you always have someone to watch your back – or your bag. 🙂

#5: Uncomfortable workspace

I hate having a cluttered workspace. I far prefer having everything organized and in its proper place. When working from a coffee shop (with my coffee cup, my plate with a half-eaten sandwich, my computer, my notebook, the unneeded ashtray, the complimentary glass of water, etc.), that’s nearly an impossible standard. Plus, even the best coffee shop’s table and chairs get uncomfortable after a few hours of sitting and working.

On the other hand, coworking spaces often boast large workspaces with ergonomically designed tables and chairs. Additionally, the separate spaces for lounging and working make it easier to maintain a clean, tidy workspace while also enjoying a quick lunch.

Still not convinced? Come test out Beta Bar Coworking and see for yourself!

4 Lessons Learned From Internships

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” When we are children, we are asked this question excessively. Then we become adults, and we still haven’t found the perfect answer. Perhaps the answer is evolving, changing as the world does around us. The many options can be overwhelming, too. Internships provide a great opportunity to learn about some of these options and helps you to hone in on what you really want to do, while also offering experience in different fields. Here are four lessons I have learned from my four internships:

#1. Internships are a place to learn.
Freshman year of college, I was eager, ambitious and ready to take on the world! I was ready to be a journalist, or so I thought. In my eager pursuit, I began my first internship with the school paper. I discovered a lot of new things about myself, one of which being how stressful I found writing articles to be. That semester challenged me in ways that I did not even realize were possible.

My experience as a journalism intern allowed me to learn and improve my writing. It also taught me how to deal with deadlines under pressure and patience. I was forced to learn how to extend grace to myself. Starting the internship, I had this expectation that I would blow everyone away with my talent and ability. This unrealistic expectation only added personal stress and revealed my prideful thinking. An internship is a place to learn, to work hard and to grow. Your employers do not expect you to know everything when you begin.Learning from the internship doesn’t always mean you have to you will love your internship. I was a journalism intern for a semester, in that time, I realized that I did not want to be a journalist or even a writer. The writing experience I gained from my time with the paper has helped me in later internships and in my school work. The life experience that I gained has taught me how to handle stress, how to ask questions, and how to be honest with my struggles. Fortunately because of my internship, I was able to change my major in college without having to take more classes.

#2. Internships help reveal what is important to you.
My second internship was with at a nonprofit organization. I was a development intern, and I focused fundraisers, community engagement and donors. Part of my job was to write thank you notes to our donors. When I first started doing this task, I did not really understand it. Why not just type a single base letter, change the name, and send them out? My handwriting was nothing special, nor was the handwriting of my boss, who was also hand-writing thank you letters weekly. There are lots of reasons to write thank you notes. Handwriting postcards or letters give the message a memorable touch that will connect you to your donors and clients.

Working in an organization that valued this personal connection with its donors and clients helped me to see that this was something important to me. I began to see the importance of this simple act. While working with this nonprofit did not give me a clear “I know what I want to be when I grow up” answer, it gave me direction. I know that I want to work with a business that takes time to do things the right way and values people. I learned about what kind of work that I would like to pursue and personal ways that I can say thank you to those who help me as I am working, if that would be in the professional or nonprofit world.

#3. You don’t have to take every opportunity that you are offered.
My third internship was not a bad experience, but it was also an experience offered less benefit than the others. I worked for another nonprofit, but by this time, I knew that I was not interested in nonprofit work. I was really just looking to gain more experience anywhere I could find it. While, again, the internship itself was not a bad internship, it was not one that pushed me to grow.

If I were to do things differently, I would decline the offer to work here for a few reasons. One, it was an unpaid internship and they were asking me to work more hours than I was initially interested in. Two, it was not in the industry I wanted to work in. And three, it was not the experience I was looking for. But, I felt as though I was given an opportunity and if I turned it down, I would miss out on something. The truth is, I missed out on other opportunities because I took that internship. In business you learn about opportunity costs- if I make this decision, what other opportunities am I turning down? It is the same with deciding on an internship or a career. To accept one opportunity is to turn down another. I am glad I learned the importance of that lesson in a temporary internship, though, rather than getting stuck in a job that was a poor fit.

This is a lesson I am still learning. Every opportunity that comes across my path, I tend to jump on. This is a lesson on patience. For me, I had to learn this lesson the hard way, I jumped too quickly onto the first opportunity. You also have to tread carefully here, though. There will be no perfect opportunity.
#4. Internships get you out of your comfort zone.
Currently, I have been a business intern for Nova Ivica for over a month, and I have already taken on challenges and outside of my comfort zone, which is enhancing my outlook and knowledge on what I would like to do when I graduate university. The good thing about pursuing an internship as a college student is that you have some time to get out of your comfort zone and test your abilities. When you finally start a career, it becomes difficult to want to step out, especially from a job that is paying you a salary. Being out of your comfort zone from time to time creates just enough good stress to ramp up your focus, creativity and pace, and it helps you respond to life stress when unexpected things happen.

Also, getting out of your comfort zone challenges you to see what you are capable of. In my internship at Nova Ivica, I have been asked to accomplish tasks I thought I was incapable of, but I was. And now that I have tackled these, I am more confident and more prepared to take on the next ones. It is not always fun or easy, but it is amazing to see what you can accomplish. You are likely capable of a lot more than you realize, but first you have to try. You also may find that what pushes you out of your comfort zone becomes one of your favorite things. It may be you find what your niche is. You may also find that’s not for you. Both are good things to learn.

Internships help you shape and create a vision for what you want to do. They reveal to you your strengths and your weaknesses and prepare you for your next step. I still don’t have the exact answer to “what do you want to be when you grow up” but I have narrowed down my options and no longer feel the overwhelmed by the array of possibilities before me. I also know I can turn down what doesn’t seem to be the right fit. Doing these internships throughout college have prepared me for my career, they have given me experience in a variety of areas and shown me what I really value in my future job.

Saopštenje za prijavu za Startap takmičenje „Sigurnost u Saobraćaju”

U 21. mart, Digitalizuj.Me, sa suorganizatorom Sistema UN u Crnoj Gori, organizuje prvo tematsko startap takmičenje u Baru! Vas pozivamo na druženje na radionici koje organizujemo u Beta Baru bez obzira na to da li trenutno imate ideju ili ne!

Tema hakatona je “Sigurnost u saobraćaju”. Bavimo se ovim problemom jer je globalan i svako rješenje koje se pokaže dobrim, u principu može da se skalira, ako ne globlano onda makar na regionalnom nivou. Takođe smo svjedoci da je tehnologija sve više zastupljena u automobilima i u našim životima, ali nas to nije dovelo do značajnijih rezultata sa stanovišta smrtnosti na putevima, odnosno u saobraćaju. Pobjednik startap takmičenja će dobiti nagradni fond za razvoj prototipa rješenja, te ukoliko se pokaže da rješenje radi, priliku da investicijom skalira na globalno tržište.

Cilj hakaton-а je da pronađemo kreativnost i dođemo do ideja koje utiču na ljudsku svijest o saobraćaju i opasnostima koje vrebaju, bilo da se radi o gradskoj vožnji ili vožnji na otvorenom putu. Mi iskreno mislimo da jesmo u mogućnosti da smislimo tehnološko rješenje slično ovome za druge probleme u saobraćaju koji dovode do prometnih nesreća i jesmo ubjeđeni u to da će pobjednik takmičenja imati kapaciteta da napravi prototip rješenja.

Sa ciljem pozivamo sve zainteresovane takmičare da se prijave do 19. marta i steknu nova prijateljstva, znanja i iskustva! Troškovi prevoza autobusom do radionice biće pokriveni.

Za više informacija takmičari mogu posetiti: http://digitalizuj.me ili https://www.facebook.com/testbetabar

Why Choose G Suite for Your Small Business

Having worked in both large corporations and small businesses, I have seen a mixture of tools used in the business environment. But, I feel like Google provides the most integrated, easily adoptable and diverse solution for small businesses. Here’s my top three reasons why:

#1 – It is a complete solution.

Far too often, businesses choose to adopt the “best” software solution for every need. While there is a benefit to having the best tools, inevitably this approach creates silos and waste in your business processes, as these dispersed tools don’t share information or play well together. While Google is not the best at everything (yes, I said it), it does provide an above-average solution for nearly every business-critical task.

For example, in a small business, it’s important to obtain customer feedback to understand your client’s satisfaction, your strengths, and your weaknesses. This allows you to understand what your customers value, which can help with prioritization of improvement opportunities and marketing. While personally I’d recommend SurveyMonkey, Qualtrics CX, or Medallia for the superior insights and trends that they can reveal, a simple Google Form can suffice for a small business. The look and feel of the survey might not be as nice, nor the automated trend analysis as strong, but, you can obtain the information needed to manage and improve your business with a bit of extra manual work.

We had been using Dropbox for cloud storage to communicate with our team and our accountants, but it forced us to use a free, limited version of one of the aforementioned survey tools. Since none of the software solutions had any true integration with Dropbox, we were limiting ourselves to “swivel chair” activity to aggregate information from the satisfaction survey with previously acquired information about our clients, such as industry, type of membership, or lead generation. Additionally, we saved 50% by making the switch from Dropbox’s Advanced Package to the G Suite Business Package, which is far more than a content repository.

#2 – It is truly collaborative.

Google Drive allows you to collaborate real-time with your colleagues and business partners through Google Slides, Google Documents, Google Sheets, Google Forms, etc. Rarely can you find a collaboration tool that works well with individuals both inside and outside your organization, but Google excels in this area.

Other solutions advertise real-time collaboration; however, there’s almost always a lag. With Google, you can actually watch as your clients or partners make edits. Through the comments feature, you can tag and assign tasks, and you can easily review the revision history to see what’s changed since you last viewed your work.

#3 – It is vastly integrated.

Google integrates well with most tools, platforms or software that your small business uses. Recently, we decided to launch a Google Form for onboarding our new coworkers at Beta Bar Coworking. That form was easily integrated into our WordPress site, www.betabar.me, with just a few clicks. Whether the coworker completes the form on our website, through an email containing the link, or through a link posted on our Facebook page, all answers are still available in the same Google Sheet.

We are also considering using Zapier for business process automation in the near future. In our research, we’ve learned that Zapier plays well with the entire G Suite including a variety of workflow automation solutions to minimize the amount of non-value added work in our business.

Nova Ivica d.o.o recently shed our disparate, non-integrated tools for the G Suite powerhouse. Will you join us?