How Can Students Avoid Plagiarism

You have to write it in your own words and cannot just take out one word and replace it with another.

How can I prevent plagiarism?

Because writing tasks often feel daunting to students, there is the temptation of plagiarizing written work. Written resources have become more easily available on the internet, and students may not have a clear understanding of what constitutes plagiarism in each of their courses (either because of lack of knowledge or because of mismatches relative to their previous experience). See also CMU’s academic integrity website for additional information and resources.

Clearly define plagiarism.

At the beginning of the semester – in the syllabus and verbally – give students a clear definition of what constitutes plagiarism and what is considered appropriate collaboration. Note that these definitions may differ from one faculty member to another and from one course to another, so it is especially important to make our expectations clear to students in each course we teach.

Committing plagiarism.

Your good ideas become better when you test them against others’ ideas. For this course, feel free to discuss your ideas about the assignments with other students. However, using someone else’s words, ideas, or concepts without citing your source is plagiarism. So is presenting part or all of another student’s work as your own. In the world of writing – especially academic writing – this is a serious crime and is treated as such. Anyone who commits plagiarism may receive a failing grade for the entire course and be referred to the appropriate dean’s office for further disciplinary action. [From H. Franklin’s Interpretation and Argument Syllabus, 2008]

Provide examples of proper citation.

Give students examples of how and when they should credit the work of others in their writing. This way, they will have concrete cases to which they can refer when questions arise.

Create original assignments.

The more unusual an assignment (e.g., taking a different perspective on a problem, question, or reading), the less likely students will be able to find something (from the internet or their peers) to submit as their own work. In addition, an assignment that has multiple parts may reduce the likelihood of plagiarism.

Require rough drafts.

Adding milestones to a written assignment where students must submit preliminary drafts of their work discourages them from the prospects of plagiarizing. It also helps them spread a larger writing task over a longer period of time, so students are not as likely to be in the situation where they are sorely tempted to take the easy way out of the assignment.

Suggest that students submit electronic copies of their drafts to

Instructors can use this online resource as an instructional and educational tool as well as a detection aid. Turnitin (pdf) can provide valuable information to students on drafts if we allow them to view their “originality reports” where they see how much of the paper is actually written in their own words, and then revise accordingly Many students, especially first year undergraduates, have very narrow definitions of plagiarism, believing that re-ordering, paraphrasing or inserting a portion of another text into their own is not plagiarism. Turnitin can help to educate students about what is appropriate and what is not.

Require that students submit electronic copies of their papers and (where feasible) copies of the material they used as sources.

With electronic copies of students’ written work, it is easier for instructors to detect plagiarism using one of several software packages. In addition, by assigning students to submit their background research material, they will also be less inclined to skip steps and resort to plagiarism.

Inform students about support services.

Academic Development helps students be more effective in their academic work, but not all students know about this resource. Giving a quick endorsement of this kind of help can really encourage students to take advantage of the support that is available. Also, for non-native speakers of English, the Intercultural Communications Center (ICC) offers writing help.

How can I prevent plagiarism?

Because writing tasks often feel daunting to students, there is the temptation of plagiarizing written work. Written resources have become more easily available on the internet, and students may not have a clear understanding of what constitutes plagiarism in each of their courses (either because of lack of knowledge or because of mismatches relative to their previous experience). See also CMU’s academic integrity website for additional information and resources.

At the beginning of the semester – in the syllabus and verbally – give students a clear definition of what constitutes plagiarism and what is considered appropriate collaboration. Note that these definitions may differ from one faculty member to another and from one course to another, so it is especially important to make our expectations clear to students in each course we teach.

So how do we avoid plagiarism?

Scholars can avoid plagiarism with the right preparation, understanding the subject well, contributing useful and unique research, adding correct citations and lastly by validating the paper for plagiarism. , taking a different perspective on a problem, question, or reading , the less likely students will be able to find something from the internet or their peers to submit as their own work.

This includes even words and rough paraphrases. If the answer is no, either quote directly from the passage or rewrite it in your own words and give credit to the original author. According to the New Webster’s Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language, plagiarism is “the unauthorized use of the language and thought of another author and the representation of them as one’s own” (508). A good rule of thumb is to make sure that you do not copy verbatim more than two words together.


How to Fix plagiarism

All you have to do is enter your text into the Plagiarism Fixer, and it will paraphrase it for you.

Citation example

How To Fix Plagiarism

Writing a research paper involves plenty of issues and stress. After all, you must pick a topic, write down your own ideas, and avoid any plagiarized content. However, you can run into many types of plagiarism as you cite sources, so you’ll need to learn how to fix plagiarism to avoid it in your academic paper.

Learning how to correct plagiarism and remove it from your writing is vital to prevent any problems that could appear in a TurnItIn search. As you understand plagiarism and how to prevent it, you’ll pass a plagiarism check and get a good grade while displaying your own work.

What Is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism refers to copying, stealing, or using someone else’s words without citing the source material. You’ll need to understand what type of plagiarism you could run into to form original content.

Direct plagiarism is the most common version since you simply copy and paste content from web pages. Instead, focus on your own ideas while writing so you don’t face the problem in the first place.

When learning how to get rid of plagiarism, you may find that it can sometimes happen by accident. Accidental plagiarism means you did your own work, but you just happened to phrase it the same as someone else. You must still check for this and remove the plagiarized content to avoid accusations.

Some people question why using your own words counts as plagiarism. Self-plagiarism means you copy your previous words and don’t reference the source. You should always reference any source you use in your assignment.

Patchwork plagiarism involves taking work from multiple sources and pasting them together. People take this approach to avoid plagiarism checkers since they think the checker won’t notice if they take a few words from different sources.

Mosaic plagiarism takes a similar approach to patchwork. They may directly quote work without quotations but swap words with synonyms. For example, instead of saying “stay” like the source, they may change it to “remain.”

Each of these plagiarism types can lead to your work popping up as stolen in different checkers. Therefore, make sure you never plagiarize since it has severe consequences no matter what you try. Luckily, you have tools available to help you fix plagiarism.

Avoiding Plagiarism

Now that you understand what it involves, you’ll want to learn how to fix plagiarism to make your paper plagiarism-free. As you utilize free tools and plagiarism solutions, you’ll avoid problems while improving the overall quality of your paper. Make sure to apply all of them to keep it safe.

Paraphrase, Summarize, and Quote

When learning how to remove plagiarism, you can start by using three major points to create original content. First, you should paraphrase, summarize, and quote when possible.

Sometimes, you’ll have to paraphrase information into your own words. Doing so means taking the original content and letting people know the key information you want to share. Then, you phrase it in your own words while also mentioning the source.

If you decide to paraphrase, use a paraphrasing tool to create original content.

Summarizing is similar to paraphrasing, except it involves the entire work. You discuss the main points, focus on rewording, and use synonyms to put them into your own words. If you summarize, cite the source and use a plagiarism checker.

You’ll have to copy and paste the content into your work if you want to quote the source. However, instead of claiming it as your own, you add quotation marks around the copied portion and cite the source. Some assignments may have you use in-text citations.

Always use quotation marks when you add quotes so your lecturer immediately knows you didn’t steal them. Doing so indicates that you don’t claim the words as your own.

Whenever you want to fix any plagiarism issues, start with these ideas. They’ll help you get started before you dive into other approaches.

Utilize Proper Citations

You must always credit the source and author whenever you use their information in your writing. Not only does it help you avoid plagiarism, but it also allows people to check the original source if they want more information.

The authors put in tons of effort while creating these articles, so ensure you give them credit. You can also face expulsion if you plagiarize material, so never fall into that trap. Such plagiarism can even lead to legal problems if you do it in your career.

You apply different citation styles based on what your professor requires you to do. For example, MLA, APA, and Chicago are different citation types, so you’ll have to follow different rules depending on the style you use.

You can even utilize text citations to provide information about sources you quote or reference. Make sure you take some time to learn the different styles, so you don’t get confused or run into problems.

Use a Plagiarism Checker

Some writers will perform a plagiarism check whenever they want to avoid issues. You can do so by identifying a plagiarism detector and using it, but what benefits can you expect from such a tool?

First, these checkers will provide you with a report. The report lets you know what percentage of your work appeared as plagiarized so that you can look into it. Doing so will help you stay below a percentage depending on your professor’s requirements.

A checker will also highlight the text that the plagiarism fixer detected as stolen. You can then look at your paper, find the text, and adjust it. Doing so will help you fix plagiarism issues with your paper.

The checker will also add links to the source. You can see the highlighted section and click on it to get the link. Doing so can help you find more sources to utilize while allowing you to cite the citation if you want to keep the information in your paper.


Make sure you learn how to fix plagiarism so that you can always remove it before you submit your assignment. Doing so will require you to take advantage of a plagiarism report or other free tools. Make sure you utilize the tips provided earlier to minimize plagiarized content.

If you want an excellent online plagiarism checker , you can go with QueText. Its DeepSearch Technology offers excellent tools while making it simple to use. It can even create citations, so use it along with the plagiarism checker to improve your writing.

How to Fix Plagiarism

According to BEYOND PLAGIARISM, it happens when the writer just paraphrases the material, but the language he or she used is very close to the structure or wording of the original. Referencing The process involves listing down all the sources you have used in your paper, but this is in the additional page called the reference page.

We hope these tips help you stay out of trouble and produce great papers that reflect your own ideas.


College ESL Writers: Mohawk College Edition

Try using a different color for each kind of error, such as blue for spelling errors or green for punctuation.

Try to keep the editing and proofreading processes separate. When you are editing an early draft, you don’t want to be bothered with thinking about punctuation, grammar, and spelling. If your worrying about the spelling of a word or the placement of a comma, you’re not focusing on the more important task of developing and connecting ideas.

24 Editing Your Draft for Standard Grammar and Mechanics

If you have been incorporating each set of revisions as Tuyet has, you have produced multiple drafts of your writing. So far, all your changes have been content changes. Perhaps with the help of peer feedback, you have made sure that you sufficiently supported your ideas. You have checked for problems with unity and coherence. You

have examined your essay for word choice, revising to cut unnecessary words and to replace weak wording with specific and appropriate wording.

The next step after revising the content is editing. When you edit, you examine the surface features of your text. You examine your spelling, grammar, usage, and punctuation. You also make sure you use the proper format when creating your finished assignment.

Editing often takes time. Budgeting time into the writing process allows you to complete additional edits after revising. Editing and proofreading your writing helps you create a finished work that represents your best efforts. Here are a few more tips to remember about your readers:

  • Readers do not notice correct spelling, but they do notice misspellings.
  • Readers look past your sentences to get to your ideas—unless the sentences are awkward, poorly constructed, and frustrating to read.
  • Readers notice when every sentence has the same rhythm as every other sentence, with no variety.
  • Readers do not cheer when you use there, their, and they’re correctly, but they notice when you do not.
  • Readers will notice the care with which you handled your assignment and your attention to detail in the delivery of an error-free document.

The next chapters of this book offer a useful review of word choice, usage, grammar, and mechanics. Use them to help you eliminate major errors in your writing and refine your understanding of the conventions of language. Do not hesitate to ask for help, too, from peer tutors in your academic department or in the college’s writing lab.

In the meantime, use the checklist on the next page to help you edit your writing.


Be careful about relying too much on spelling checkers and grammar checkers. A spelling checker cannot recognize that you meant to write principle but wrote principal instead. A grammar checker often queries constructions that are perfectly correct. The program does not understand your meaning; it makes its check against a general set of formulas that might not apply in each instance. If you use a grammar checker, accept the suggestions that make sense, but consider why the suggestions came up.

Proofreading requires patience; it is very easy to read past a mistake. Set your paper aside for at least a few hours, if not a day or more, so your mind will rest. Some professional proofreaders read a text backward so they can concentrate on spelling and punctuation. Another helpful technique is to slowly read a paper aloud, paying attention to every word, letter, and punctuation mark.

If you need additional proofreading help, ask a reliable friend, a classmate, or a peer tutor to make a final pass on your paper to look for anything you missed.

Remember to use proper format when creating your finished assignment. For most academic papers, the appropriate format would be to use 1” margins, “Times New Roman” font in 12 point, and double spaced. It is good to get in the habit of typing all papers that way which will make it easier when you are doing much longer research papers.

Sometimes an instructor, a department, or a college will require students to follow specific instructions on titles, margins, page numbers, or the location of the writer’s name. These requirements may be more detailed and rigid for research projects and term papers, which often observe the American Psychological Association (APA) or Modern Language Association (MLA) style guides, especially when citations of sources are included.

To ensure the format is correct and follows any specific instructions, make a final check before you submit an assignment.


These requirements may be more detailed and rigid for research projects and term papers, which often observe the American Psychological Association APA or Modern Language Association MLA style guides, especially when citations of sources are included. If your worrying about the spelling of a word or the placement of a comma, you re not focusing on the more important task of developing and connecting ideas.

Circle any words whose spelling you need to check. Look these up in a dictionary and write each word correctly on your paper.


How to Write eCommerce Product Description: Best Practices

decathlon video included in product descriptions

How Do I Write Product Descriptions That Actually Sell?

Think of product descriptions as your online sales associate—just like a brick and mortar sales associate. The best brick and mortar stores have selling down to a science. Their products are arranged on shelves and displays to catch your eye and encourage you to buy. As soon as you take more than a few steps in any direction a salesperson is by your side, ready to help. Music and lighting set the perfect mood, and the whole buying process is so simple, you walk out with whatever you needed plus something else.

Your online store obviously can’t recreate that experience (hence why your e-commerce content is so important). When a visitor arrives at one of your product pages, your product images take the place of the displays and your product descriptions act as your salespeople. That’s why basic descriptions just aren’t enough. You need to put just as much thought into creating one compelling product description for each thing that you sell as those brick and mortar stores do with their layouts, mood-making special touches and sales training.

I’ve been writing product descriptions for so long it feels like I should’ve been creating copy for horse buggies and ringer washing machines. One thing I can say from experience is most small businesses don’t know how to write effective product descriptions. Most of the time, they turn to blog posts and online articles that answer questions. They follow the one-size-fits-all methods for creating persuasive product descriptions and end up with cookie-cutter descriptions that sound just like their competitors.

The Anatomy of the Product Description

Source: Uniqlo

Check the above screenshot from Uniqlo – the photos speak for themselves. As well it has basic information – material, care instructors, description and shipping information. The description is short as it has to be for a T-shirt, it highlights the most important features and is readable because of the bullet points.

Don’t use cliches like “this is the best quality”. Instead point out why your product is the best one, list the benefits it will bring to your customers and they will realize by themselves that your product is good.

Crocs classic clog product description

Source: Crocs

Crocs list their best qualities. But focus your attention on the way they do it. As we can see from the above screenshot, Crocs are water-proof, comfortable, quick to dry and easy to clean.

But do you see the humor they use when listing all these good features? Instead of the boring “water-proof”, they say “water-friendly”. You don’t just like them, you “fall deeper in love”. And a cute addition is that it’s “fun to wear” them.

Final thoughts

So you are already familiar with product description best practices and can start applying immediately. But here’s the question: do you have enough time to write them all or you’d better hire a copywriter?

Well, even if you hire a professional writer or an agency, you still need to review their work. And since you know all the ins and outs of how to write eCommerce product descriptions, you won’t end up paying for a poorly done job.

The last thing we want to share is that A/B testing can be your best advisor. It simply means that you write two different description versions, run them for the same period separately, and see which version outperforms.

For example, you can write one short and one long description of your page. The short version runs for 3 months. Then you replace it with the longer version and it again runs for 3 months.


Online Class: Writing Basics 101 — Spelling, Grammar, Punctuation, Writing Structures

[2022] 175+ Free Online Writing Courses to Improve Your Skills

Becoming a better writer can help you achieve professional and personal goals. Whether you’re preparing for university studies, drafting résumés and cover letters, writing sales copy, or trying to preserve your own memories, you need to be able to communicate through writing. Fortunately, free writing courses abound to guide you in your writing journey.

Want to start writing fiction? There’s are several writing classes for that, several actually. There are also free writing online courses that will teach you to write better business emails, create compelling online posts and social media updates, and prepare technical reports. English language learners, teachers, and grammar nerds will also find some courses on this list. In short, whatever it is that you’re writing, chances are you can improve your craft with one or more of the courses below.

Quick note: While many of these courses do come with fees, all of them are available to audit in full or in part. If you’re new to MOOCs and want to learn more (including how fees work in these courses), check out our Beginner’s Guide to Massive Open Online Courses.

Free Grammar Courses

Perfect Tenses and Modals
University of California, Irvine via Coursera
In this course, you will learn about important intermediate verb tenses, including present perfect, present perfect progressive, past perfect, and past perfect progressive. You will also learn about common modal verbs used in English.
★★★★★ (7 ratings)

Effective Writing
Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee via Swayam
The purpose of this writing course is to familiarise students with the nuances of effective writing so that they can better understand the subtle art of writing. It allows them to write with clarity, precision, and subtlety to express their ideas on various occasions while considering the concepts of appropriateness and accuracy.
★★★★★ (2 ratings)

English Composition
Arizona State University via edX
Learn to develop and express your ideas effectively for a variety of personal and professional purposes, audiences, and occasions in this comprehensive introduction to English composition credit-eligible course.
★★★★☆ (8 ratings)

Grammar and Punctuation
University of California, Irvine via Coursera
After completing this course, you will be able to: – identify the correct verb tenses to use – use commas effectively – utilize several different sentence types – write more effectively in English
★★★★☆ (33 ratings)

Verb Tenses and Passives
University of California, Irvine via Coursera
In this course, you will review the verb tenses that you learned in beginning English classes and learn about a few tenses you may not know very well.
★★★★★ (1 rating)

Crafting an Effective Writer: Tools of the Trade (Fundamental English Writing)
Mt. San Jacinto College via Coursera
Learn to become an effective builder of sentences using the basic tools of English grammar, punctuation, and writing in this FREE and open course. This is a fundamental English writing course.
★★★★☆ (25 ratings)

English Grammar and Style
University of Queensland via edX
Learn key concepts and strategies in grammar and style to help enhance your writing and confidently respond to the demand of high levels of literacy in the 21st century.
★★★★☆ (33 ratings)

Tricky English Grammar
University of California, Irvine via Coursera
While it’s easy for non-native speakers to get overwhelmed by confusing grammar rules, in this course, we’ll provide you with tips that will help you understand the rules more easily and give you lots of practice with the tricky grammar of everyday English.
★★★☆☆ (3 ratings)

Adjectives and Adjective Clauses
University of California, Irvine via Coursera
Adjectives and adjective clauses are very common in English, so students need to be able to understand them when they see them or hear them.
★★★☆☆ (5 ratings)

Just Reading and Writing English 2
Tsinghua University via Coursera
Do you want to read and write better in English? The course consists of 6 units with different topics: education, manners, personal communication, purpose of living, cultural studies, life science. From this course, you will have a good knowledge of intermediate English reading and writing skills.

Just Reading and Writing English 1
Tsinghua University via Coursera
Do you want to communicate with English speakers fluently? The course consists of 6 units with different topics: feelings, staying healthy, learning, university, cultural differences, and cities. From this course, you will have a good knowledge of primary English reading and writing skills in your daily life.

Writing and Editing: Revising
University of Michigan via Coursera
This fourth and final course in the “Good with Words: Writing and Editing” series will help you master perhaps the most important step in the writing process: revising. You’ll learn about the difference between editing and proofreading.

Writing and Editing: Drafting
University of Michigan via Coursera
This third course in the “Good with Words: Writing and Editing” series will give you a number of strategies to help with what is often the most intimidating, even paralyzing part of the writing process: getting started. You’ll learn about the “planning fallacy” and “temptation bundling.” And you’ll continue to benefit, through our ongoing “Good Sentences” and “Takeaways” segments, from the models and advice of a diverse set of writers.

Writing and Editing: Structure and Organization
University of Michigan via Coursera
This second course in the Good with Words: Writing and Editing series will help you become an effective architect of information, both with your sentences and with your paragraphs. You’ll learn that the traditional advice to “Show, don’t tell” is incomplete and that skilled writers actually switch back and forth between showing and telling.

Who should take this course?

This course is primarily intended for anyone who needs help with their grammar, spelling, and punctuation skills or anyone who lacks confidence in their grammar, writing and editing skills. This course is designed specifically for busy professionals who need to refine or polish their writing skills or require a refresher course on how to write well. If you think you require more remedial help in grammar, spelling, and sentence formation, or if English is not your first language and you are unsure what level of English learning you are currently at, you may want to check out our extensive list of ESL courses for different levels of English language mastery.

Yes, there is an instructor who will review your assignment activities, provide feedback on your errors, and answer any questions you may have about the course material. You are not alone when you take this course, Ms. Daphnee St. Val is there to help you on your writing improvement journey!

Why do I need this course if I can just run a spell check?

Presenting yourself well these days requires competent writing skills. Sending out written communications without spelling errors doesn’t necessarily mean your writing is acceptable, conveys the meaning and tone you want, or correctly communicates your intended message. People will review your writing as a direct reflection of your voice, your personality, and your thoughts. If your writing is muddled, disorganized, long-winded, awkward, or difficult to follow, the reader will unfortunately believe that is who you are. Conversely, if your writing is clear, organized, concise and with purpose, people will believe you are smart, capable, and credible. This course provides several lessons and writing exercises to help you build better writing skills that convey the message and tone you want while using your own voice and style.

Yes, assignment activities and lesson exams to test your mastery of course curriculum are graded. This will provide the necessary proof that you are in fact understanding and mastering the lesson outcomes. Should you fail a specific assignment activity you may be given the option to redo the activity correctly for a better grade. Ultimately, this course isn’t about submitting flawless work–it’s about learning from your mistakes and improving your writing processes. Please note that this course and instructor are here to help you succeed! We want to help you improve your grammar and writing skills.


  • “Mina Shaughnessy had much to do with encouraging the acceptance of basic writing as a distinct area of teaching and research. She named the field and founded in 1975 the Journal of Basic Writing, which continues as one of the most important vehicles for the dissemination of research articles. In 1977, she published one of the most important scholarly books on the subject, Errors and Expectations, a book that remains the most important single study of basic writers and their prose. [O]ne of the values of her book is that she showed teachers how they could, by viewing errors as linguistic misconceptions, determine the causes of writing problems that on the surface might appear confusing and unconnected.”
    (Michael G. Moran and Martin J. Jacobi, “Introduction.” Research in Basic Writing: A Bibliographic Sourcebook. Greenwood Press, 1990)
  • “Every time a student sits down to write for us, he has to invent the university for the occasion–invent the university, that is, or a branch of it, like History or Anthropology or Economics or English. He has to learn to speak our language, to speak as we do, to try on the peculiar ways of knowing, selecting, evaluating, reporting, concluding, and arguing that defines the discourse of our community.
    “One response to the problems of basic writers, then, would be to determine just what the community’s conventions are, so that those conventions can be written out, ‘demystified,’ and taught in our classrooms, Teachers, as a result, could be more precise and helpful when they ask students to ‘think,’ ‘argue,’ ‘describe,’ or ‘define.’ Another response would be to examine the essays written by basic writers–their approximations of academic discourse–to determine more clearly where the problems lie. If we look at their writing, and if we look at it in the context of other student writing, we can better see the points of discord when students try to write their way into the university.” (David Bartholmae, “Inventing the University.” When a Writer Can’t Write: Studies in Writer’s Block and Other Composing-Process Problems, ed. by Mike Rose. Guilford Press, 1985)
  • “[T]he real challenge for us as teachers of basic writing lies in helping our students become more proficient at abstracting and conceptualizing and hence at producing acceptable academic discourse, without losing the directness many of them now possess.” (Andrea Lunsford, quoted by Patricia Bizzell in Academic Discourse and Critical Consciousness. University of Pittsburgh Press, 1992)

Where Do Basic Writers Come From?

“[T]he research does not support the view that basic writers come from any single social class or discourse community. Their backgrounds are too complex and rich to support simple generalizations about class and psychology to be particularly useful in helping to understand these students.”
(Michael G. Moran and Martin J. Jacobi, Research in Basic Writing. Greenwood, 1990)

“Many early studies of basic writing in the 1970s and 80s drew on the metaphor of growth in order to talk about the difficulties faced by basic writers, encouraging teachers to view such students as inexperienced or immature users of language and defining their task as one of helping students develop their nascent skills in writing. The growth model pulled attention away from the forms of academic discourse and towards what students could or could not do with language. It also encouraged teachers to respect and work with the skills students brought to the classroom. Implicit in this view, though, was the notion that many students, and especially less successful or ‘basic’ writers, were somehow stuck in an early stage of language development, their growth as language users stalled.

“Yet this conclusion, pretty much forced by the metaphor of growth, ran counter to what many teachers felt they knew about their students–many of whom were returning to school after years of work, most of whom were voluble and bright in conversation, and almost all of whom seemed at least as adept as their teachers in dealing with the ordinary vicissitudes of life. What if the trouble that they were having with writing at college was less a sign of some general failing in their thought or language than evidence of their unfamiliarity with the workings of a specific sort of (academic) discourse?”
(Joseph Harris, “Negotiating the Contact Zone.” Journal of Basic Writing, 1995. Reprinted in Landmark Essays on Basic Writing, ed. by Kay Halasek and Nels P. Highberg. Lawrence Erlbaum, 2001)


How to Start a Business: A Step-by-Step Guide

Top 8 Steps to Take When Starting a New Business

There are many things that go into making a small business successful. Inevitably, these are the same things that go into being a successful small business owner. If you can accomplish all of these efforts, you will be well on your way to achieving your business goals!

Without a clear vision, it can be challenging to know what steps to take in order to achieve success. Define your goals and create a plan of action that will help you reach them. Successful business owners have a clear idea of where they want to be and how they will get there. Without this direction, it’s easy to get lost or sidetracked. Define your goals and put together a plan of action that will help you reach them.

Additionally, make sure to review and revise your goals regularly to make sure they are still relevant and achievable. By revising your goals, you can also figure out what’s gone wrong and what needs to change in order to help you achieve success. Therefore having goals written down in your business plan is important as it will keep you focused.

Understand Your Customers

You can’t just open up a small business and hope that people will come. You need to know who your target market is and what they want. Understanding your customers is essential to being able to provide them with what they need and keep them coming back. To really understand your customers, you need to talk to them. Ask them questions about their needs and wants. Find out what they like and don’t like about your business and other similar ones.

The more you know about your customers, the better equipped you’ll be to give them what they want. You should also keep track of your customer data. This includes things like their contact information, purchase history, and any other relevant details. This data can help you better understand your customers and make more informed decisions about your business.

Refine your idea.

If you’re thinking about starting a business, you likely already have an idea of what you want to sell online, or at least the market you want to enter. Do a quick search for existing companies in your chosen industry. Learn what current brand leaders are doing and figure out how you can do it better. If you think your business can deliver something other companies don’t (or deliver the same thing, only faster and cheaper), or you’ve got a solid idea and are ready to create a business plan.

Define your “why.”

“In the words of Simon Sinek, ‘always start with why,’” Glenn Gutek, CEO of Awake Consulting and Coaching, told Business News Daily. “It is good to know why you are launching your business. In this process, it may be wise to differentiate between [whether] the business serves a personal why or a marketplace why. When your why is focused on meeting a need in the marketplace, the scope of your business will always be larger than a business that is designed to serve a personal need.”

Consider franchising.

Another option is to open a franchise of an established company. The concept, brand following and business model are already in place; all you need is a good location and the means to fund your operation.

Brainstorm your business name.

Regardless of which option you choose, it’s vital to understand the reasoning behind your idea. Stephanie Desaulniers, owner of Business by Dezign and former director of operations and women’s business programs at Covation Center, cautions entrepreneurs against writing a business plan or brainstorming a business name before nailing down the idea’s value.

Clarify your target customers.

“You need to clarify why you want to work with these customers – do you have a passion for making people’s lives easier?” Desaulniers said. “Or enjoy creating art to bring color to their world? Identifying these answers helps clarify your mission. Third, you want to define how you will provide this value to your customers and how to communicate that value in a way that they are willing to pay.”

TIP: To refine your business idea, identify your “why,” your target customers and your business name.

During the ideation phase, you need to iron out the major details. If the idea isn’t something you’re passionate about or if there’s not a market for your creation, it might be time to brainstorm other ideas.

Write a business plan.

Once you have your idea in place, you need to ask yourself a few important questions: What is the purpose of your business? Who are you selling to? What are your end goals? How will you finance your startup costs? These questions can be answered in a well-written business plan.

A lot of mistakes are made by new businesses rushing into things without pondering these aspects of the business. You need to find your target customer base. Who is going to buy your product or service? If you can’t find evidence that there’s a demand for your idea, then what would be the point?

Free download: Here is our business plan template you can use to plan and grow your business.

Conduct market research.

Conducting thorough market research on your field and demographics of potential clientele is an important part of crafting a business plan. This involves conducting surveys, holding focus groups, and researching SEO and public data.

Market research helps you understand your target customer – their needs, preferences and behavior – as well as your industry and competitors. Many small business professionals recommend gathering demographic information and conducting a competitive analysis to better understand opportunities and limitations within your market.

The best small businesses have products or services that are differentiated from the competition. This has a significant impact on your competitive landscape and allows you to convey unique value to potential customers.

Consider an exit strategy.

It’s also a good idea to consider an exit strategy as you compile your business plan. Generating some idea of how you’ll eventually exit the business forces you to look to the future.

“Too often, new entrepreneurs are so excited about their business and so sure everyone everywhere will be a customer that they give very little, if any, time to show the plan on leaving the business,” said Josh Tolley, CEO of both Shyft Capital and Kavana.

“When you board an airplane, what is the first thing they show you? How to get off of it. When you go to a movie, what do they point out before the feature begins to play? Where the exits are. Your first week of kindergarten, they line up all the kids and teach them fire drills to exit the building. Too many times I have witnessed business leaders that don’t have three or four predetermined exit routes. This has led to lower company value and even destroyed family relationships.”

A business plan helps you figure out where your company is going, how it will overcome any potential difficulties and what you need to sustain it. When you’re ready to put pen to paper, these free templates can help.

8 Steps to Starting Your Own Business

Starting your own business may sound like an undertaking of epic proportions. The truth is, it’s not. Yes, you’re going to have to work hard, and commit to working on it at all hours of the day, but actually getting set up is simply down to making sure you’ve “checked all the boxes,” which is exactly what this business startup checklist aims to help you do.

We’ve broken the tasks down into manageable categories. Here is an overview of the “8 Steps to Starting Your Own Business” checklist. The SBA Guide will include more detailed information on each section and provide resources that will help you complete each stage of getting started.

Your answers to these types of questions will help you narrow your focus. This step is not supposed to dissuade you from starting your own business. Rather, it’s here to get you thinking and planning. In order to start a successful business, passion alone isn’t enough.

A great business idea isn’t just one that makes money. It’s one that’s a good fit for you personally and plays to your strengths and skills. Great businesses are fueled by owners that have a passion for what they do. Without passion it becomes a job. Hopefully you’re going to be in business for a long time, so pick something you love.

Once you decide on a business that fits your goals and lifestyle, you need to evaluate your idea. Who will buy your product or service? Who will your competitors be? At this stage you also need to figure out how much money you will need to get started.

Your “personal evaluation” was as much a reality check as a prompt to get you thinking. The same thing applies when it comes to researching your business and the industry you’d like to go into.

If you like, you can even take things a step further and consider the consumer needs currently not being met by businesses in the industry. This is a good time to take a look at potential competitors. And remember, the presence of competitors is oftentimes a good sign! It means that the market for your product or service already exists, so you know that from the outset, you’re not flying entirely blind.

While you’ve got the time, learn as much as you can about your competitors, about what they provide to their customers, how they attract attention, and whether or not their customers are happy. If you can figure out what’s missing before you even get started, your job will be made that much easier when you do finally set up shop.

Realistically speaking, registering your business as a business is the first step toward making it real. However, as with the personal evaluation, take your time to get to know the pros and cons of different business formations.

If at all possible, work with an attorney to iron out the details. This is not an area you want to get wrong. You will also need to get the proper business licenses and permits. Depending upon the business, there may be city, county, or state regulations as well as permits and licenses to deal with. This is also the time to check into any insurance you may need for the business and to find a good accountant.

While incorporating can be expensive, it’s well worth the money. A corporation becomes a separate entity that is legally responsible for the business. If something goes wrong, you cannot be held personally liable.

If you will be seeking outside financing, a business plan is a necessity. But, even if you are going to finance the venture yourself, a business plan will help you figure out how much money you will need in order to get started; what needs to get done when, and where you are headed.

In the simplest terms, a business plan is a roadmap-something you will use to help you chart your progress and that will outline the things you need to do in order to reach your goals. Rather than thinking of a business plan as a hefty document that you’ll only use once (perhaps to obtain a loan from a bank), think of it as a way to formalize your intentions.

Even if you do not think you need a business plan, you should go through the planning process anyway. The process of doing so will help to uncover any holes or areas that have you have not thought through well enough. If you do need to write a formal business plan document, you should follow the outline we’ve put together in Write Your Business Plan.

Depending on the size of your venture, you may need to seek financing from an “angel” or from a venture capital firm. Most small businesses begin with private financing from credit cards, personal loans, help from the family, and so on.

As a rule, besides your start-up costs you should also have at least three months’ worth of your family’s budget in the bank. In order to finance your company, you will need to match the company’s needs to the appropriate financing option.

You’ve got a long list of things you need to do: Find a location. Negotiate leases. Buy inventory. Get the phones installed. Have stationery printed. Hire staff. Set your prices. Throw a grand opening party.


How to Become a Successful Freelancer

How Freelance Finance Consultants Are Beating Big Firms

Freelance finance consultants are delivering high-quality results for clients at a lower cost than traditional consulting firms. How do they manage to do it? One of Toptal’s most in-demand finance freelancers, Michael Ng, explains how freelancers are able to outdo their more established competitors when it comes to communication, expertise, and ROI.

Having been fortunate enough to spend the better part of the last decade working as an investment banker, venture capitalist, board director, and freelancer, I’ve witnessed the evolution of professional services firsthand. A lot has changed, including the adoption of flexible operating models and success-based fee structures. But one thing has become clear to me: On a consistent basis, clients are happier with both the cost and results of projects delivered by freelancers.

Only having to deal with one person for everything related to the project was invaluable. It enabled us to better adapt as the situation evolved & execute more efficiently. Former client and CFO, leading European retail operator in the food & beverage sector

I’ve seen this from the client perspective as a board director and from the advisor side as a freelance consultant—and increasingly, it is becoming apparent to my colleagues industrywide. It is perhaps unsurprising, given the increased personal touch afforded by freelancers and the increased accountability at an individual level for each project.

While freelance finance consultants may have historically only served younger companies in the form of projects like investor presentation creation and modeling, we’re increasingly seeing them handling more multi-disciplined projects. Projects like cash management or post-merger integration would historically have only been outsourced to traditional, on-site consultants, yet today, clients recognize the value of hiring a multi-disciplined freelancer with the same skills and higher accountability.

Here, I’ll discuss what draws companies to freelance finance consultants, my personal remote freelancing experience with a traditionally on-site engagement (cash management), and the factors driving a high ROI for more mature clients hiring freelancers for finance projects.

Why Companies Are Shifting to Freelance Finance Consultants

Finance and management consulting came to the forefront following the Great Depression, when large corporations sought out expert advice in ever-increasing numbers. Since then, the profession has expanded and opened up its offering to companies of all different sizes, solving the most critical issues facing businesses today. However, given the inherent importance of their work and legacy of catering to large corporations, charge-out rates for top-tier consultants (senior partner level) can go as high as $16,000 per day (paywall).

However, corporate consulting rates are increasingly under pressure with the steep rise in the number of freelance finance consultants, who typically leave these traditional consulting firms to find a better work-life balance but critically offer top-tier experience at realistic rates (given their considerably lower cost base).

Freelance consultants are inherently less expensive than traditional consulting firms—particularly remote freelance finance consultants. Experienced freelance consultants have lower training costs and virtually no overhead expenses (e.g., expensive offices in which to entertain clients). Further, they are more open to working virtually and less likely to include potential travel expenses in their fee.

You may be thinking, why is this happening now? Perhaps this movement is only temporary. The truth is that there are multiple, long-standing secular trends that have bubbled this very situation to the surface.

Permanent employees are leaving full-time jobs at the fastest pace on record, and more people are freelancing than ever before. This has created a growing talent gap in the full-time employee pool, resulting in an increased demand for qualified freelancers. According to Morgan Stanley, more than 50% of the total US workforce could be made up of freelancers by 2027.

For companies hiring freelancers, they are increasingly seeking out those with deep, specialized skill sets (and not just those who are a “jack of all trades”). The reason they have been able to do this (and still be successful in finding the right freelancer) is the increasingly large freelance talent pool available to them. Furthermore, given the quality of specialized freelancers now available for hire, the delivered results continue to improve.

Freelancers no longer have to go it alone and build up their own business from scratch (including finding potential clients). They are now able to be hired through pre-vetted, high-grade freelancing platforms that manage everything from sourcing quality projects to managing payments, client communication, and timesheets. For instance, Toptal only accepts about 3% of the freelancers who apply to be on the platform, effectively optimizing value-creation for clients by granting access only to top-tier talent at realistic rates.

How to Become a Successful Freelancer

Becoming a freelancer can be liberating — and also a little terrifying. Where do you even begin? What processes and structures do you need to have in place? How do you find clients? And how do you know how much to charge?

What the Experts Say
“Going out on your own isn’t always a deliberate choice,” says Sara Horowitz, head of the Freelancers Union and author of The Freelancer’s Bible. Some people do make the switch consciously in order to capitalize on their unique skills and networks, earn more money directly, escape the corporate grind, and have more work-life flexibility. Others end up as their own bosses because they’ve left jobs and are trying to figure out what’s next, or they start doing a few projects on the side and realize the work is enough to be their main gig. Sumeet Goel, who founded HighPoint Associates, a professional advisory firm that staffs independent consultants at companies ranging from midsize ones to the Fortune 500, agrees that many freelancers often happen into it: “I’d say 90% go down this path because of circumstance. It’s not so much that they decide to do it; it’s more that they wake up one day and they’re an independent consultant.” Whether you chose freelancing or it chose you, you’ll only be successful if you follow some important steps.

Reach out to your existing network
A robust network is a freelancer’s best friend. The goal is to start your business with “a group of people who really care about you” and who are ready to support you along the way, says Horowitz. Reach out to the people closest to you to let them know what you’re doing. This doesn’t have to feel like you’re begging for work though, says Horowitz. In fact, she advises taking people you like out to coffee or lunch “before you have an ‘ask’” and offering to help them out in any way you can. “It’s the equivalent of doing informational interviews. You’re just making clear the kind of work you’re doing now and that you’re available to help anyone who might need it,” she says. Being in touch with your network isn’t just important at the beginning. Goel says it’s crucial to build time into your schedule going forward to continue networking. “You never want to be so busy that you can’t reach out to the people who can help you,” he says.

Make new connections
It’s important to have a few fellow freelancers you can turn to for advice and support in your network. Sure, they may be “the competition,” says Horowitz, but they are also a great source of information. Look for professional associations in your field, search LinkedIn for people who are in the same business, and attend conferences in your areas of expertise. Horowitz’s organization hosts monthly meet-up events for independent workers in 18 cities across the U.S. “It’s a great way to get to know people in the context of building your business,” she says. If you’re concerned about the networking aspect of being out on your own, you’re not alone. The Freelancers Union has a host of resources, including an “Authentic Networking Guide” that, according to Horowitz, “outlines some best practices for new or nervous networkers.”

Determine your fee
Knowing how much to charge is one of the things your network can help you with right away. Horowitz suggests asking your fellow freelancers what the market is like for your skills and what their rates are. Don’t make the mistake of basing your fees on what you need to earn. “This isn’t about your expenses,” says Horowitz, “so don’t add up your mortgage payment and your other costs of livings to figure out your hourly rate.” If you’re moving from a full-time job, Goel suggests this calculation: Take your cash compensation and divide by 250 (which is the number of billable days after factoring in vacations, sick time, and typical downtime) and then add 25%–50%. Then take that figure, compare it with the rates you’ve gotten from your network, and find a middle-ground number you can float as an experiment and then adjust based on feedback from potential clients. You may have to quote a lower rate at the beginning, while you’re still figuring how much you’re worth and trying to win work. But plan to raise your prices sooner rather than later. Horowitz says you’ll know when you’ve hit the right level: “When you’re reliable and good and you charge a fair rate, people rehire you.”

Find a good accountant
Even before you have money coming in, hire a trustworthy accountant. “I always recommend getting someone who can help you set things up properly,” says Horowitz. “This might be a lawyer, but I find that the kind of support you need is more about economics than law.” A professional can advise you on whether it makes sense to incorporate, how to save in taxes, and how to manage all of your expenses. Goel suggests setting up an LLC or similar designation to separate your business assets from your personal ones. He also recommends signing up for a business credit card right away, which will “make taxes and tracking expenses easier” and “get you in the right mindset.”

Define Your Niche

You need to stand out as a Salesforce Freelancer. To the average client you will be approaching, everyone appears to do the same thing. Listing your capabilities with Salesforce technology is unlikely to resonate with your prospects. Defining your niche shouldn’t involve focusing on an industry, or a Salesforce product/cloud.

Your offering is the services that you advertise to potential clients, like a catalog of your deliverables. An offering will group together multiple deliverables in a way that makes sense, to ensure your clients are left with a functioning Salesforce org, plus to be a more enjoyable and profitable experience for you.

  • Project – Fixed Cost: the cost is agreed upon before the work commences. For that amount, you will deliver the scope of work. The cost remains fixed for the whole duration of the project, and the client must raise a request if they want to make changes.
  • Project – Time & Materials (T&M): the client agrees to pay based on an hourly, or day rate. While you should still prepare a scope of work and estimate the time (and cost) it will take to deliver, there is no fixed figure. You deliver the scope of work to the best of your ability and ‘roll with the punches’ – if something unexpected happens, you work to resolve it.
  • Managed Services: an ongoing contract where you commit a certain number of hours per month to the client, over the contract term (anywhere from 3-12 months). If you’re looking to become a Salesforce contractor, this is for you!
  • Ad-Hoc Support: is exactly what it says – it’s unexpected, they are small chunks of work, and they are often the result of something going wrong (which means you are taking on risk). Examples include: fixing an automation issue, adjusting user permissions, or providing some training.

How to Get Clients as a Salesforce Freelancer

Option #1: Get Your Own Clients

‘Outbound marketing’ to get in front of potential clients, or to become discoverable (‘Inbound marketing). This includes writing articles, videos, speaking, prospecting/outreach.

Control over your day rates.Time consuming: upfront effort and ongoing time commitment.
Control over project scope.End-to-end responsibility puts more pressure onto you.
Able to operate with your personal brandNo escalation point for unexpected occurrences – it will all be on your head.
Stay laser-focused on your nicheRisk of overworking to progress as fast as you can.

Option #2: Subcontracting Through a Salesforce Consultancy

Option #3: Recruiters

Recruiters earn their commission by connecting organizations that need a Salesforce specialist with suitable candidates. Having an oversight on both the supply and demand side means that recruiters can match you with a high-quality opportunity – they can become your eyes and ears on the ground!

You will mostly find that these engagements are ‘full-time’ 40-hours-a-week for a period of time (usually 6 months). While common for recruiters to have contract opportunities on their books, some do come across freelancing opportunities from time to time. Staying connected with a recruiter will mean they will alert you about both.

Quality and speed in the opportunities they can find for you, and how fast they do it.Expensive for clients to hire you where placement fees eat into the project budget.
Can negotiate the day rate for you.Find yourself up against more competition.
Good sources of information.Risk you will be persuaded into an opportunity that doesn’t align with your goals.

Triangle diagram - Salesforce freelancing project priorities: fast, good quality and cheap.

I covered this topic when I spoke with Brian Shea, host of the Salesforce Freelancing interview series. The 3 Work Models & Getting Your First Clients (Ep. 1), read the full show notes.


55 creative marketing ideas for your product or business

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Innovative social media marketing ideas

Social media marketing is an easy way to get the best bang for your marketing budget buck. But with more content floating around the interwebs than we know what to do with, you have to get creative to stop the scroll. Try one of these ideas on for your marketing strategy:

Referral programs turn your customers into marketers. Encourage word-of-mouth marketing by adding incentives for talkative fans. Be it a discount, a free trial, or a free bonus gift with purchase — if the incentive is good enough, you’ll get people talking.

Influencer marketing is big business. But there’s no need to aim for the Kylie Jenners of the world. You’ll find thousands of micro-influencers with valuable followings (and without the million-dollar price tag.)

Connect to the influencers who have an established relationship with your target audience, then offer to send them your products or aim for a more formal marketing partnership. If you don’t have time to slog through the social media ranks, plenty of influencer agencies can help.

But remember, a giveaway only works if you ask for something in return. As a requirement for entry, ask people to follow your brand (if they haven’t already), mention your handle, or tag a friend. Then sit back and watch your audience grow.

There is strength in numbers. Band together with a brand or account that complements your own but isn’t your direct competition. Launch a collaboration project, join forces for a good cause, or just feature each other on your socials with a sponsored post. If you scratch their back, they’ll scratch yours.

Branch out from your standard static Instagram images and give video a try. Video is not only more engaging and better at getting your message across, but you get more time and space to be creative.

At the end of the day, the opinion that matters most comes from people who already buy your product or use your service. Distill your customer feedback to find loyal advocates for your product, and give their voice a platform with a customer testimonial video or graphic. Bonus points if you can manifest first-person footage of the customers themselves.

When the internet hands you lemons, make lemonade. Keep an eye on current memes and trends, and jump on the ones that work for your brand. Do the same for holidays and events. As a starting point, the Biteable Marketing Calendar offers timely content for every day of the year.

Facebook marketing ideas

Facebook is home to some of the most powerful advertising and targeting tools in the marketing game, not to mention its billions of users. Make the most of Facebook with one of these ideas.

The liveness of Lives is sometimes daunting, but you can’t deny the stats: Facebook Live consistently receives more engagement than almost any other content on Facebook. Get creative with the format and build a better relationship with your followers at the same time. Tell your audience about a new product, give them a behind-the-scenes scoop, or just answer their questions. Humanize your brand with a real, friendly face.

The 21st century might not have flying cars, but we do have Messenger chatbots. And these helpful little bots do more than just answer common questions; they are also a powerful tool for creative marketing.

Consider the Messenger bot your new marketing assistant. Turn your chatbot into a personal shopper with customized product suggestions, or use it to give your Facebook followers helpful information related to your service.

This one isn’t so much a creative idea as it is a chance to get creative. Facebook’s current algorithm loves meaningful content that users are inclined to interact with. Playful memes have their place, but make sure some of your posts have more meat on their bones.

Instagram marketing ideas

Influencers run Instagram. With their built-in loyal audiences, a well-placed influencer takeover is hard to beat. That person’s followers will jump over to your page to see what their favorite influencer is up to, and many will end up sticking around. If an influencer is a good match for your business, a takeover can nab you a whole lot of positive brand awareness.

Instagram Stories knows how to deliver on engagement — especially when polls and questions are involved. Get creative and interactive with a Story your followers can participate in.

Just like Facebook live, Instagram Live is a powerful platform for answering questions and building relationships. Instagram sends your followers a notification when you’re live, so they’re more inclined to stop by.

Content marketing ideas for creative minds

Partner up with other experts or interesting perspectives and invite them to write a guest post for your blog. They’ll likely share it, and their followers might just become new fans of your content. Plus, if the guest blogger has their own website, you’ll share a good old-fashioned link swap and a dose of SEO juice.

Turn your post’s content into a listicle video for easy social sharing, and then plop it at the top of your blog page. Search engines rank pages with video embedded near the top higher than those without, so you’ll feed two birds with one delightfully engaging scone.

Create content that gives people a reason to read it. Share your knowledge and expertise, and trust that you’ll be rewarded with clicks and engagement. You’ll establish yourself as a trusted knowledge source. This carries a lot of weight when it comes time for buyers to make purchasing decisions.

Help other people in your position by putting together a shareable content marketing calendar. Include suggestions for content ideas, events and holidays, relevant hashtags, and even graphics, images, or videos other brands can use.

6. Promote Your Social Proof

When it comes to marketing, social proof is invaluable. It’s way to capture the attention of a wide audience using the evidence of just a few. For a small business, consider using the following:

  • Testimonials – having a strategy designed to collect testimonials is a great way to utilize social proof. Because they come from your clients, not your brand, people will be more likely to view them as credible
  • Ratings – anytime you receive a 5-star review, promote it wherever possible – your website, social ads, etc.
  • Badges and Awards – remember those business awards you’re signing up for? When you win, display your badge on all of your marketing materials to further your credibility
  • Social shares – if your articles are receiving significant comments or shares, it’s a good idea to display the number with your share buttons. Be cautious though – you don’t want to display low numbers, so make sure you’re consistently receiving a hefty number before you turn your share numbers on

10. Look for Guest Posting Opportunities

By posting on the site, you and your brand will be exposed to a much larger audience. You’ll likely include links to your own site, which could have a positive effect on your traffic. And overall, you stand to collect a much bigger return on investment.

Your first job is finding a place to post. Luckily, you’ll find many top blogs are happy to accept guest blogs (if you’re a marketer, find a big list of opportunities here) . Otherwise, it’s a matter of searching them out, finding the proper contact info, and making your pitch.

Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses: Guest Post on Popular Blogs

Brand Awareness / Media Attention

While much of the world has moved online, print media is still a popular and worthwhile advertising vehicle. And in some markets, print media still thrives. In fact, as recently as 2014 , retail customers cited print materials as the chief source of information behind their purchasing decisions.

Small businesses thrive when they engage their local community, and what better way to do it than by advertising in your local media outlets? That being said, print is best used in conjunction with online marketing strategies to act as a complement and to create better brand awareness.


Join Local Business Groups and Events

Joining a local networking group or attending an event will give you the opportunity to meet and connect with other like-minded people. While there are a lot of general entrepreneur groups, there might also be some niche-specific groups or meetups in your area. These groups are a great way to bounce ideas off other smart people, share referrals, find talent and identify new opportunities. Attending these events can also help you expand your network in the community you call home.

Well, there you have it. Building your marketing plan may seem like a daunting task, but it will reward you in the form of new customers and a growing business. Remember that utilizing several strategies and tactics will increase your marketing success.


25 Fun Mindfulness Activities for Kindergarten Students

mindfulness activities | mindfulness activities for elementary students | 5 minute mindfulness activities

25 Mindfulness Activities for Kindergarten

Mindful activities are significant for building self-awareness, concentration, emotional intelligence, coping skills, empathy and more! Learning these skills when kids are young sets them up for success throughout their lives, not just the immediate scenario you’re addressing.

1. Taking Deep Breaths

Practicing mindful mediation can be helpful, even in as young as preschool-aged children. Try having them focus on their breath going in and out of their nose while using calming music or nature sounds as background noise. This activity will help kids feel calm and be more aware of their thoughts and actions.

2. Stop and Wiggle

Get the kids to stop in their tracks when they feel anxious, excited, or frustrated. Ask them to breathe in deeply and then let it out slowly while shaking their arms and legs for a moment (like they’re making snow angels). This activity will help them calm down so that they can work through their feelings healthily.

3. Mindful Listening

Give each child their own mindfulness bell and ask them to ring it whenever they need some quiet time, or just want the class to be silent for a moment. Before you start your mindfulness lesson, let everyone practice ringing the bells so that they will know what sound it makes when someone needs time to reflect.

4. Mindful Thoughts

Ask the kids to sit in a circle and give each of them an object like a stone, stick, or ball (not too big). Let everyone hold this toy for one minute while they focus on sitting still and concentrating on their breathing. Here, it’s good to teach them that even in their thoughts, they need to be mindful of how they think about certain situations and people.

5. Jack be Nimble

Play games during your mindfulness sessions with the kids. One fun game is called “Jack be nimble, Jack be quick” where you get them to walk around in a circle while they focus on their breathing and try not to bump into anyone or anything.

mindfulness activities for students | 5 minute mindfulness activities for students | mindfulness activities for the classroom

6. Self-Portraits

Take some time during mindfulness activities for kindergarteners each week to have the kids draw self-portraits. This art activity will help them get in touch with their emotions and teach them how to express themselves creatively! Kids can paint how they think of themselves and those around them while concentrating on an activity that stimulates the mind.

7. Dance Party

Turn on some soothing music for mindfulness activities for kindergarteners, like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” or something relaxing from your favorite yoga playlist. Play games while the kids dance, like making them do a pose every time you change songs. This will help them be more aware of their surroundings and other people in their space while providing movement and stimulation.

8. Sensory Bottles

Sensory bottles for kindergarteners can be done in small groups or even individually! Fill a glass bottle with rice and add different objects from around your house to make patterns on top of it (like buttons, sequins, glitter and more). Let the kids shake the bottles until they’re calm or focused.

9. Mindfulness Rocks

Fill a jar with rocks that have different feelings on them like “calm,” “happiness,” “peaceful” and others. Each time kindergarteners feel a certain way, they can select a mindfulness rock from the jar and think about what it means. In doing this, you’re asking them to reflect on how they feel. Encourage them to think about how they’re feeling and how it could impact others around them.

10. Art

Art is a great class project! Ask the kids to draw what mindfulness looks like to them and then hang their artwork on your wall after it dries. You could even have an art contest where each child gets a prize for drawings that speak the most to mindfulness and how important it is! Encourage them to think about what they’re drawing and why they feel that way.

11. Muscle Relaxation

Most of us, including kids, aren’t always aware of the muscles in our body and how they feel or move. Practice this with kids to teach them when to know their body is stressed or tense. This will teach them how to tense and relax their muscles while being mindful of themselves. Self-awareness is key to this activity.

12. Glitter Jars

Take a mason jar and try filling it with water, glitter, and other various objects. This is a great tool for those kids who need a physical outlet when overstimulated or upset. This is also a craft project you can do with them to keep them occupied. The finished product is something they’ll be proud of and gain confidence in building coping and mindfulness tools.

10 Ways to Help Students Who Worry

Mindfulness with middle schoolers: a piece of cake or labor of love? I’ve had loads of fun teaching mindfulness to elementary-aged students, but when I first threw out the idea to some of my middle schoolers, they looked at me like I had three heads. I knew that buy-in would be a little tougher with this age group (but totally worth the effort). Keep reading to find out how I hooked my students’ interest and the middle school mindfulness activities that my students actually enjoyed.


We know adolescents need mindfulness, but how do we get them engaged? How do we get buy-in? Elementary students jump at the chance to breathe like a butterfly or do a silly animal-themed yoga activity. But middle schoolers aren’t always the easiest to engage! One thing is reliable, though: adolescents love to know why. Why are we doing this? Why does this matter?

Problem List

When introducing the concept of mindfulness, I begin by having my students create a problem list. What are their stressors? What are the things causing turmoil in their lives right now? I ask them to be as specific as possible. Is it just homework in general or one specific assignment? What about that assignment is troubling? Is it hard to complete a project that large? Is it hard to work in a group? We go on like this for a while. As you can imagine, this list is often long!

Students identify problems like interpersonal conflict, feeling stressed by schoolwork, being overwhelmed by responsibilities and extracurricular activities, feeling like they don’t fit it, and the list goes on.

Looking for middle school mindfulness activities that adolescents and teens actually enjoy? Read more about activities my class loves and how I got buy in!

Possible Solutions

Then, I challenge students to think of or find one solution that could help tackle all of the problems on the list. Students do a bit of research using iPads. We spend a lesson or session doing this task and the students report their findings which often range from silly things like quitting school to thoughtful responses like seeking therapy.

At this point, I introduce the concept of mindfulness, but I don’t just tell students what it is and tell them that it will help. I show them the research. I show them studies about how mindfulness improves memory and attention, lowers stress levels, increases happiness, and promotes social connections and altruism. Then I give them the studies to review and then give them space to research it on their own for a few minutes. When they are given the opportunity to review actual research and see facts and figures from studies, adolescents are much more like to buy in to the process because they can see the why behind it. When they can see studies that have been done with people their own ages who have benefitted from the practice, adolescents are more likely to be willing to give it a try themselves.

Getting Started

After I have some buy-in and have piqued their interest in this seemingly magical practice that can address a whole host of problems they have identified in their lives, we start small. Adolescents already feel like they’re on a stage in front of their peers at all times, so we don’t start with a tricky yoga sequence or a 30-minute guided meditation because that’s a sure way to discourage participation! We start with simple, 2-3 minute seated breathing exercises using tracing printables so that students can focus their attention on just what they’re doing and not worry about meeting eyes with others during the process.

As students gain comfort with short, simple exercises, we try longer activities and different types of mindfulness exercises. We also repeat activities. Students like to try again. They like to get better, practice, and feel like they’ve grown or accomplished something.

Breathing Exercises

Much of mindfulness hinges on slowing and controlling breathing to truly tune in to the body. To introduce breathing exercises, I first model controlled breathing on my own in front of everyone. When we have the technology available, I also let students practice using iPads and headphones with the Calm app. There are some great free activities students can do on their own without feeling like they’re on a stage. I also give students printables to trace while they practice controlling their breathing using figure 8 breathing, rainbow breathing, and star breathing to get the hang of it. Many of my students end up taping these printables inside their notebooks to use throughout the day.

Looking for middle school mindfulness activities that adolescents and teens actually enjoy? Read more about activities my class loves and how I got buy in!


Top 10 Personal Business Goals You Can Set and Achieve

Red dots bounce up levels from the words “short-term” to “long-term,” showing how your START goals can adjust to each situation.

SMART Goal Examples for Small Businesses

SMART — which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound — goals set the parameters for actions you and your staff take to improve personal performance and your small business’s overall progress. SMART business goals break down broad objectives into well-defined, attainable milestones to ensure success.

Why Set SMART Goals?

SMART goal-setting is an effective way to help refine your ideas, clarify your objectives, focus your efforts and productively allocate your resources. It also helps promote transparency and accountability throughout your company so employees can be empowered to prioritize their efforts and resources toward accomplishing common goals.

SMART Business Goals’ 5 Elements

Specific: Your goal should be well-defined and focus on a particular outcome. For example, instead of saying, “we want to increase sales,” it should state, “we aim to increase sales by 80% in the XYZ market.”

Measurable : Each SMART goal should have a starting point and a finishing point that can be quantified and tracked. Besides the key metrics, you should indicate a system, method and procedure used to measure progress.

Attainable: This criterion prompts you to take stock of timeline, budget and resource availability (e.g., talent), and even industry averages so you can evaluate how — and if — a goal can be realistically achieved.

The “A” in SMART goal also can stand for “acceptable.” It refers to getting buy-in from everyone involved, so you can rally employees behind a common objective and motivate them to take the initiative.

Your goal also should address market conditions and the realities of the business climate. For instance, a goal might not be relevant if you’re trying to increase your sales by 50% in an economic downturn.

SMART Goals Examples for Work

Consider applying SMART goals to several aspects of running your small business, including leadership, management and employee performance. Here are some SMART business goals examples of setting meaningful SMART goals that’ll help you achieve tangible results:

SMART Goals Examples for Employees

General Goal: Improve Customer Service Quality

Attainable: Provide training sessions to ensure all employees understand expectations and are prepared to execute proper procedures. Ensure we have standards in place to assess customer satisfaction. Customer complaints will be reviewed, and corrective action will be taken where necessary.

General Goal: Increase Blog Traffic

Specific: Increase blog traffic by 200% using search engine optimization (SEO) and email marketing strategies . The web team will monitor blog stats and provide a weekly report to help fine-tune the tactics. Work will begin on [XX date], and the goal is expected to be achieved by [XX date].

Relevant: Robust blog traffic will expose our work to a larger audience and help establish us as an authority in our industry. We’ve also seen a healthy conversion rate from blog readers to paying customers.

SMART Goals Examples for Managers and Leadership

Managers need to set SMART business goals that aim to improve their performance and the performance of team members. Remember that it’s important to be a leader as well as a manager. Objectives for developing leadership capabilities include:

General Goal: Improve Communication Clarity

Specific: Develop presentation skills and improve the clarity of my communication to reduce the number of questions in team meetings by 30% in 6 months. This will reduce the time spent on answering questions and minimize misunderstandings to improve the team’s productivity.

Attainable: Take training courses to improve presentation skills. Assess previous Q&A sessions to assess where the confusion arises. Solicit feedback from fellow managers or staffers regarding communication clarity.

Relevant: Clarifying communications and reducing the amount of questions employees need to ask will cut back on misunderstandings and potential errors. Less time devoted to questions can also improve staff productivity.

General Goal: Improve Management and Coaching Skills

Specific: Develop management and coaching skills by having weekly 1-on-1 meetings with direct reports and quarterly 1-on-1 meetings with indirect reports to achieve a 10% improvement in employee engagement in 6 months.

SMART Performance Goals Examples

These SMART business goals can guide employee performance reviews to help workers focus on improving areas most relevant to their professional development and business objectives. Some of these goals focus on meeting specific performance metrics, while others revolve around acquiring professional knowledge and updating relevant skills.

General Goal: Grow Engagement on Business’s Social Media Accounts

Attainable: Take an online course and implement the lessons in my business’s social media strategy. Track account metrics to help chart progress and adjust strategy when necessary.

General Goal: Improve Cost Efficiency In the Procurement Process

Specific: Spend 2 days each month shadowing operation and sales teams to gain customer insights, which will be applied to the procurement process to improve cost efficiency by 10% in 8 months.

SMART Goals Examples for Small Business

Small businesses operate differently than large corporations and require setting SMART goals with a level of granularity that allows you to stay focused on results without losing sight of the big picture.

General Goal: Gain New Clients

Specific: Gain 4 new clients this quarter, each with a monthly retainer fee of 5000,000. This will be achieved by repackaging my services, increasing my fees, improving my lead-generation efforts so I can have 3 or more sales conversations each week and build a pipeline of high-quality prospects.

General Goal: Add Customers and Grow Profits

What Are Personal Development Goals for Work?

It can sometimes take a long time to achieve your career goals, they don’t often happen overnight. It’s important to embrace the experiences along the way instead of being narrowly focused on a singular path. Things can happen differently or unexpectedly, and that’s okay.

What are you willing to give up or sacrifice to achieve your career goals? For example, if being close to friends and family is important to you, moving far away for a dream job might not work out. Or, if you love to travel, committing to a job that keeps you behind a desk might be a recipe for disaster. You want your career path to be fulfilling, not draining.

There are going to be rough patches and moments of stress. You can work with a mentor or someone who can help provide advice and solutions to help you get through any struggles.

Paying it forward is one of those things that have unintended positive results. Help other young professionals or students through mentoring or by offering career advice. Do you remember someone who gave you advice early in your career and how helpful it was? Try and return the favor and give back when you can.

Goals and milestones are useless if they’re not attainable. Use the SMART goals process, which is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. This framework helps ensure your goals are specific and quantifiable.

Key Takeaways

Balancing work and personal life can become stressful. You want to make sure you are delivering on your tasks and responsibilities at work but you also want to have time at home with friends and family. It can sometimes be even more difficult to try and set personal business goals to achieve.

The good news is that there are tons of things that you can do to help you set your goals and ultimately achieve them. Becoming a thought leader, generating new business ideas or improving your focus are just a few of the goals you can set and achieve.

When you are figuring out which goals you want to set, it’s important to make sure that they’re attainable and specific. If they’re not, your journey to achieving them will become bumpy and will likely have some detours. Use the SMART acronym to help make sure your goals are quantifiable and contribute to your growth mindset.