How One of Gary Vaynerchuk’s New Projects Is Helping Small and Medium Businesses

This new digital marketing agency serves small and medium businesses.

3 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

With over six million followers across social media, Gary Vaynerchuk has feverishly captured the attention and inspired a wide range of entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Yet a large part of Vaynerchuk’s business comes through a small segment of the market. His digital marketing agency, VaynerMedia, serves Fortune 500 companies such as PepsiCo and General Electric, but his following extends far beyond the people running these few companies.

So to serve a wider market, specifically small and medium businesses (SMBs) with approximately $1 million to $100 million in revenue, Vaynerchuk and his team officially launched Sasha Group at the start of 2019.

I recently sat down with James Orsini, the leader behind The Sasha Group, for a candid discussion about starting this agency and how they help SMBs grow.

The Sasha Group came to fruition following the success of VaynerX’s 4D sessions, which started around two years ago to provide immersive one-day marketing workshops, as well as VaynerMentors, a consulting service for $3 million to $25 million businesses, and VaynerBeta, an agency for small businesses. Vaynerchuk and his team then decided to put all of this consultative and executional work for SMBs together under Sasha Group.

The new brand is named after Vaynerchuk’s father Sasha, and with this nod to legacy, the agency looks to link up with companies that are also focused on creating a legacy rather than a flash in the pan. While Sasha Group was not built to serve the leftovers from VaynerMedia, they do hope to create momentum in the other direction, where eventually Sasha Group clients grow into VaynerMedia clients.

As such, Sasha Group’s client roster might be surprising to those who expect the agency to only serve the next unicorn startups. Instead, the agency serves companies ranging from a furniture retailer in Florida to a nail polish manufacturer in California.

Some of these businesses have been around for decades but they’ve plateaued or want to accelerate growth beyond a few percentage points. However, these entrepreneurs and business leaders often lack the social and digital know-how to compete in today’s marketing world. When they come to Sasha Group, the team can direct those business leaders to services such as 4Ds or VaynerMentors, and they can also provide direct help in areas such as content creation and social media ad optimization.

Sasha Group also operates on a growth-share model, where the fees for their work are tied to the success of the companies they help. With this alignment, companies can experience the full effects of putting Vaynerchuk’s principles into practice.

For more insights into the inner workings of Sasha Group, see the complete interview above or head over to Facebook Watch to follow and be notified when new episodes go live.

Watch more videos from Carlos Gil on his YouTube channel here. Follow Carlos Gil on Instagram @CarlosGil83

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Aim to Acquire More Users For Less Cost With This URL Shortener

PixelMe Growth Lite boosts your digital marketing with a few clicks.

2 min read

Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

If you’re selling your products or services online (and these days, you better be), you’ve probably noticed from your analytics that your customers take a pretty convoluted path from looking for your product to buying your product.

With so many options to compare online, customers often leave before they finish checking out on your site. Retargeting campaigns can help entice these customers back to your store — and PixelMe Growth Lite helps you grab their attention before they switch to a competitor.

When a potential customer visits your website, a small JavaScript pixel is saved on their browser. If they leave your site, that pixel gives a heads-up to your retargeting platforms and serves them new ads to turn potential customers into buying customers. It’s a timely, specific, behavior-based technique that can lead to lots of sales.

PixelMe Growth boosts your revenue by shortening your links with UTM tags and retargeting the pixels from your new customer’s first visit. You can retarget visitors when they head to Amazon, Kickstarter, the Apple Store and more. PixelMe’s UTM builder tracks where your clicks come from, so you can modify your digital marketing plan as necessary.

Get a lifetime subscription to PixelMe Growth Lite right now for just $39.

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Create a Business Plan for Fewer Hassles and Faster Growth

Office Space movie

Writing a business plan can help make sure Office Space doesn’t feel relatable [source].

There’s a famous scene in the cult-classic 1999 movie Office Space where the main character, Peter, is confronted by his boss, Bill. Amidst the dull hum of white-collar cubicle bliss, Bill passive-aggressively asks Peter if he got the memo about putting cover sheets on all “TPS Reports” (if you’ve seen it, you’re probably already chuckling).

Apparently, Peter neglected to include a cover sheet on his most recent TPS report, and Bill wants to make sure he got the memo so he can rectify this moving forward. Note that he’s not even directly asking Peter to make sure he includes a cover in the future. He wants to know if he got the memo. Bill leaves, saying he’ll make sure he sends another copy of the memo to Peter.

The anti-drama is painfully relatable to anyone who has ever held a desk job in a large, corporate bureaucracy. The takeaway from the scene is clear. The cover sheets, the TPS reports—they’re not important. Neither are even difficult to complete. And yet, these minor interruptions and annoyances from his boss form the cadence of Peter’s day. His week. His life. His miserable, soul-sucking life.

All these things are a hassle. These hassles pile up so high that they make him dread going to work every day. They make him feel like a useless cog in a wheel (in truth, he is). And the fact that they are so small and minor individually is what makes them even more infuriating. What literally haunts his dreams are not big things like salary or responsibilities or key projects. No, his nightmares are filled with these daily hassles—with Bill “just checking in” about that latest memo.

If you’re coming up with a business plan for a new venture, there’s a good chance you can relate to this scene. Perhaps it represents what drove you to become an entrepreneur in the first place. Now that you’ve managed to escape Peter’s situation, make sure you don’t replace it with an entirely new set of hassles that you can’t do anything about.

Business planning reduces hassles and friction

There are many reasons to write a business plan, but one of the primary goals is to reduce friction as you build your venture. Friction is anything you rub up against you that creates tension and slows you down. By creating a “low-friction plan,” you can avoid or at least mitigate problems down the road—plus, it’s what potential lenders or investors expect when you approach them for funding.

A good business plan can reduce the hassle in many ways.

Align on a mission statement that ensures all partners understand what you want to accomplish and what is outside of that core. Embrace your financial plan—financial assessments give you a clearer vision of cash flow and what resources might be needed.

Accounting for risk is one of the best ways to reduce friction in the long term. Doing a SWOT analysis is a great way to assess your internal (weaknesses) and external (threats) risks, in addition to strengths and opportunities. When you do an honest, thorough analysis, seeking diverse input, it can illuminate a wide array of risks, giving you the opportunity to explore and mitigate them as you work through your plan.

The layout of a SWOT analysis

When humans are involved, hassles follow

As the scene from “Office Space” demonstrates, though, it’s not always traditional business risks that plague a venture. It’s the daily hassles that can stifle progress and suck away your drive to succeed. Hassles are the inevitable human cost of any venture. Hassle encompasses all the stress and unpleasantness that can come along with a project. Like risks, they’re not necessarily bad—just something to be managed.

Risk is about outcomes. Hassle is the human element. Both can overwhelm you if there isn’t a plan.

Managing hassle may take the form of putting your reputation on the line to get someone to partner with you. It may creep up in the form of a family member who is hurt that you didn’t ask them to help you with a certain project. It could be a small investor who calls you ten times more than your primary funder. Or worse, it might be a business partner who is directly complaining to one of your investors without your knowledge.

In the research for our upcoming book “Fruition: How Great Ideas Come to Life,” we found that the hassle (human) side of your low-friction plan is just as important as the risk (outcome) focus.

The conventional wisdom is to put these hassles in the bucket of small stuff you shouldn’t sweat. But many hassles don’t stay small for long. Hassles can fester day-in-day-out and become a major liability.

That primary investor may tolerate financial risks if the venture is interesting, fun, and potentially rewarding. But if it becomes a hassle? If it creates everyday annoyances? You’ll hear about it. You need to “budget” for these human costs just as you would financial costs, and show others that you’re on top of it.

That’s because hassles can swim around your head as you try to fall asleep at night and fill your mornings with anxiety and dread. Dread is an insidious emotion. It’s not pain—but rather, the anticipation of pain. Research has shown that the dread of pain fires up the same regions of the brain as the pain itself. Yikes.

Techniques to overcome hassles and friction

The most important remedy we’ve effectively already taken care of: being aware of the problems that hassles can create, and being on the lookout as you progress. Consider this your “The More You Know” moment.

Ideally, though, you should anticipate potential hassles like any of the other risks—and take proactive steps to mitigate and plan for them. Like everything else in your business plan, the whole point is to reduce friction. Here are some techniques to guide you.

1. Create your “who inventory”

The “who inventory” lists and briefly describes all the potential players involved with your venture as you progress from the current world to the better, future world that you envision. Take time to catalog everyone with whom you may intersect. Where possible, be specific with names.

Some will be obvious: investors, consumers, business partners, employees.

But let your mind wander through your vision for your business, and you will inevitably come up with many, many more:

  • New suppliers if you expand in year two
  • Government bureaucracies for obtaining permits
  • Compliance professionals with lending institutions
  • Family members (those can be the trickiest of all!)

When you reach a critical mass, earmark and detail potential hassles with anyone on the list. This is a place to be brutally honest (and perhaps keep your conclusions private). Consider personalities and personal histories. Where you have questions or unknowns, reach out to others for their opinions and experiences—a business mentor can be helpful here.

It may be helpful to categorize your list and/or diagram it out over the steps it will take to build and sustain your venture. What’s important is that you spend the time thinking through this and documenting it. Include others to get their input and suggestions. Update it as you go. The final inventory may be somewhat messy, but a mess you can see is better than a mess you are blind to.

2. Go beyond user or buyer personas

Personas are a deep dive into the profile of various players involved in your venturetheir actions, motivations, needs, thoughts, daily life, and more. The goal is to develop a deep knowledge of what makes them tick and what to expect when interacting with them.

Each persona will allow you to play out what to expect and identify potential hassles. After completing the who inventory, choose only the most important to expand on.

Buyer or user personas—fictional representations of your ideal customers based on their demographics and other characteristics—have been used successfully for many years in industries like software development, and you can find many resources and templates online. Typically, they are a more generic profile—such as “angel investor” or “premium consumer”—but you may also find it necessary to hone in on specific individuals.

The primary personas are traditionally created for end users/consumers of your business—your target market. It’s just as important to understand who you are targeting as it is to know who you are not targeting or working with. Many ventures fail because they try to have an appeal that is too broad. They end up lacking focus and never find their place in the market.

As the name suggests, the personas should feel personal. Give each a name and a stock photo. Make them part of your team. Ask questions like, “Would Sandra complain about having to wait 10 minutes for confirmation, given her tight schedule?” Or, “Will Luis call at the first sign of bad news?”

Use these personas to conceptualize the potential hassles you might encounter. Create scenarios and let them play out in your head. Then, plan accordingly.

3. Do a SWOT analysis

A SWOT analysis is a typical part of preparing any business plan, and you may even include it in the main body.

As discussed above, the tendency is to focus only on more “functional” risks like finances or competition. But, don’t forget to consider the human element—the hassles. Use this awareness and the other techniques to bring this part to life and create a more comprehensive analysis.
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Tie it all together

How you take what you’ve learned about your potential hassles and formally integrate it into your business plan will depend on your specific situation. As with any risks you’ve outlined, you likely won’t have a section titled “Hassles”; the learnings should permeate various parts of the plan. Outputs from some of the techniques above may make sense to include in an appendix, and you will at least want to document everything for your own use.

As always, know your audience and focus on what will be most beneficial for them. Investors will want to know that you’ve anticipated what might become a hassle for them (and you) and that you have a plan. You can give your credibility a major boost by showing you’re on top of this part of building your business.

With some foresight and a little healthy paranoia, you can be much better prepared for the journey toward a successful future. Ideally, it’s a future that keeps to a minimum the hassles, friction, and memos about TPS cover sheets.

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John Lavelle

John believes that everyone—from multinational manufacturers to PTA parents—can unleash their ideas and build a better world. He has worked with top consumer packaged goods companies to revolutionize how they innovate and bring their ideas to market. He also has extensive experience leading innovation consulting teams, selling and executing custom research, and econometric forecasting. Along with Chris Adrien, he is co-author of the forthcoming book, “Fruition: How Great Ideas Come to Life.”

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This Entrepreneur Says He Spends as Much as $200K a Month on Building His Brand

Andrew Medal connects with Billy Gene in San Diego to talk all things digital marketing.

1 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Billy Gene is an online marketing influencer and educator. Through his online courses and Facebook live-streams, he teaches important entrepreneurial skills that schools often miss.

Gene says he spends up to $200,000 a month on his personal brand leveraging unique video content and ads on billboards, podcasts, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

Related: This Tattoo Artist Fell in Love With the Art When He Was 16. Here’s How He Made a Career Out of It.

Entrepreneur Network is a premium video network providing entertainment, ewitducation and inspiration from successful entrepreneurs and thought leaders. We provide expertise and opportunities to accelerate brand growth and effectively monetize video and audio content distributed across all digital platforms for the business genre.

EN is partnered with hundreds of top YouTube channels in the business vertical. Watch video from our network partners on demand on RokuApple TV and the Entrepreneur App available on iOS and Android devices.

Click here to become a part of this growing video network.

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6 Ways to Identify Profitable Products and Make Money With Your Online Store

Here are some powerful tactics to build and grow a successful online shopping business.

5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Though running your own ecommerce business can be an exciting entrepreneurial adventure, there is no denying that many online stores fail to make any kind of profit. After only a short time, they are out of business, closed up for good.

While there are many factors that can cause an ecommerce store to fail, one of the biggest problems entrepreneurs face is the inability to recognize and leverage a profitable product niche. However, by conducting a thorough analysis of the current marketplace, you can find an area where you can make a lasting impression.

1. Solve a meaningful problem.

As with any other business idea, a successful ecommerce product can get its beginnings when you try to solve an actual, meaningful problem. You can get ideas from your own experiences, from talking with friends or neighbors or going online to see what challenges others are experiencing.

This is exactly what worked for dog toy brand Active Hound. As a Shopify blog post explains, the brand’s founders spoke with dog owners at a local park and learned that “the pricey dog toys they were buying lacked the durability needed to withstand the wear and tear of a playful pet. Hearing about this frustration inspired them to create a line of ultra-durable dog toys.”

Related: 7 Realistic Ways to Make Money Online

2. Find a gap among potential online store competitors.

Chances are if an ecommerce niche has marketing potential, there are already other stores selling a similar product. However, this doesn’t mean you need to abandon that idea entirely. By researching your competitors, you can find areas where their offerings don’t quite meet customer needs — and that’s where you can come in and establish your unique value proposition.

For an expert’s take, I reached out to Sultan AlBanyan, co-founder of FLTR, as his company serves as the perfect real-life example of this. FLTR is a manufacturing startup that produces face filtration masks. He explained, “There is a big demand for effective, yet stylish filtration masks in our home country of Saudi Arabia. But these masks don’t last forever — they need to be replaced periodically.”

Continued AlBanyan, “In our research, one of the things we found was that competitors in our niche didn’t use a direct-to-consumer model, which raised prices and made it hard for some to consistently afford to buy the masks they needed. By identifying what was missing from their offerings, we were able to define our place in the market.”

3. Check out what’s trending.

You won’t gain much traction if you create an exact copy of a pre-existing idea. But when you look at trending product niches and brainstorm alternative possibilities within that category, you may just find the unique angle needed to launch a successful ecommerce store.

The good news is that there are plenty of resources available to help you get an idea of trending categories in the ecommerce world. Google Trends is a great place to evaluate search volume for different keywords. Many ecommerce platforms like Oberlo also post lists of current trending products, which can help fuel ideas for your own store.

Related: 8 Ways to Make Money Online Without Quitting your Day Job

4. Know the margins.

It’s one thing to sell a product online; it’s quite another to sell it at a profit.

Research by MarketingSherpa found that ecommerce stores with annual revenue of under $100,000 have a 30 percent median gross margin. Successful stores know whether they can compete on price or value, and use it to maintain these types of margins.

When evaluating a product niche, you can’t just set an arbitrary price point. You need to research what your target audience is willing to pay for that product and then account for business expenses such as manufacturing, shipping and web hosting. Razor-thin profit margins will make it hard to scale or adapt to changing market circumstances.

5. Look for recurring sales.

Research from the Harvard Business School has found that a five percent increase in customer retention can increase profitability by 25 to 95 percent. It stands to reason, then, that the most profitable ecommerce niches would focus on areas where customers are more likely to come back for a repeat purchase.

This is part of the reason behind the success of subscription boxes and subscription services in general. Each customer becomes a recurring source of revenue. This also makes other items that need to be replaced regularly — such as planners, food and DIY materials, to name a few — a good choice. Deliver a quality experience the first time, and customers will likely come back to you time and time again.

Related: Why Search Engine Optimization Is the Key to Making Money Online

6. Know your interests.

A study of ecommerce entrepreneurs published in the Huffington Post found that 45 percent of entrepreneurs cited a love for what they do as the primary reason for starting their store — ranking far ahead of other attributes typically associated with side hustles, such as freedom to work where and when you choose.  

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how lucrative a potential ecommerce product may be. If you aren’t passionate about the idea, you won’t have the drive necessary to work through unexpected problems or innovate to come up with better products or services. Find something that you yourself are interested in, and you will be better equipped to stick with your store for the long haul.

Your chosen product niche will ultimately define everything about your ecommerce store, from its target audience to the way you market your brand. By doing your due diligence to find a niche that appeals to you and has real market potential, you will be able to lay the foundations for a successful ecommerce store.

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Medterra CBD Signs Pro Golfers as Brand Ambassadors

This is as mainstream as it gets.

3 min read

In what might be the ultimate proof that CBD is now mainstream, Medterra CBD has launched a major marketing drive with three pro golfers as brand ambassadors and a partnership with Worldwide Golf Shops.

Medterra, which was welcomed onto the shelves of CVS with the past month, has signed US Open Major Champion Lucas Glover, four-time PGA tour winner Charley Hoffman, and Morgan Hoffman as brand ambassadors. In perhaps an equally significant sign that golf is big marketing target for Medterra, the company former Nike Director of Sales, Greg Moore, who has 25 years of golf industry experience to serve as their VP of Sales for the Golf Division.

Related: CBD Is Taking the Cannabis Industry Mainstream

“Golf really aligns with what we want to do as a company,” said Medterra CBD CEO and co-founder Jay Hartenbach. “There is a lot of benefit to be had for these professional athletes using CBD products for their training and recovery. This market and demographic really aligns well with our products.”

Each of the three new brand ambassadors was already using Medterra products before they signed on with the company. “When we find athletes using the product, unprompted, that is just further validation they are people we want to align with and that they are benefiting from the product and not just looking so some sort of financial arrangement,” Hartenbach said.

Related: Move Aside, CBD: New Data Finds THC Is the Real Medicine in Medical Marijuana

The World Anti-Doping Agency removed CBD from its list of banned substances in 2018, but with a stern warning to athletes that THC remains strictly banned. Hoffman, who like all pro golfers is subject to random drug testing, said he chose Medterra products because they carry the U.S. Hemp Authority Certification Seal, which assured him he is at no risk of inadvertently ingesting THC.

“I obviously don’t want any THC in my body,” he said.

While weekend amateurs driving around the links in a golf cart are likelier to hurt themselves in the clubhouse than on the course, the wear-and-tear of competing professional takes on toll. Hoffman said his daily workouts, long practice rounds and being on his feet for six hours on the course leave him with nagging pains in his back and shoulders.

“It’s just wear and tear on your body,” he said, adding there is wide interest in CBD among pro golfers now that WADA has approved its use. “Athletes are interested. We are always looking for a better way. The trainers are having the athletes try it. It’s been the talk of the tour this year.”

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7 Tips for Network Marketing Success

There are six key elements you should be looking for [when selecting an opportunity]. Number one: stability. How old is the company? Number two is excellent products or services that consumers will use and need more of.

Number three is the pay plan — how even and fair and generous overall is the distribution? This is really crucial as the pay plan represents exactly how you’ll get paid — or not get paid. There are really only two questions to ask [regarding this]: How many pennies out of each sales dollar get paid back to the distributors each month, and how fair is the distribution of these pennies between the old members and the new members?

Number four is the integrity of the company and the management. As much as possible, [investigate] the experience of the CEO, [their] experience in the network marketing industry, and their background. [Have] they been successful in other companies in the industry? Do they have a good reputation?

Number five is momentum and timing. Look at where the company’s at, what’s going on with the company, and if it’s growing.

Number six is support, training and business systems. You may have [chosen] a great company with excellent management, products that make a difference, a pay plan that’s uniquely fair and very generous and momentum and stability, but if you don’t have a system in place that works, all of that [doesn’t matter]. Most companies will have a transferable training system that they use, and that’s where mentorship comes in.

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Workout a common word heard today.Daily Fitness Daily Exercise is so important in our daily life. Health is budding as a big issue today. Of course health is an important thing and now days due to many natural disasters and also cause of polluted air and water health has become a troublesome issue. Daily exercise is necessary for daily fitness. Fitness should be done with a mood to exercise, and it will be developed through atmosphere, freshness and the clothes you choose for the same. We provide you with perfect clothes to boost your exercise mood and to make you comfortable to work out daily.
Now you are ready with perfect dress up but gyms are really not always good to go cause you may feel sleepy, it may be costly you may feel lazy to go daily and so this routine breaks within some days, many times it waste your money and the time you given till the time. So isn’t it a good idea to built your own gym at home with perfect daily exercise tools for daily fitness habit eventually turned into your good health.. We always take care of your health. Also it is not necessary that only a particular age grouped person needs to exercise. This is the ear where every person should do daily exercise to be fit always. Small children to keep themselves healthy, youngsters to keep themselves in shape and in abs. After 40 needful to be fit, fine and enthusiastic and to maintain the shape, after 60 to keep themselves moving and independent on anybody. Daily Fitness Daily Exercise. can be fulfill with Gym.
And the people on any age can use the products we are providing with good tips. People who exercise everyday remains energetic and happy for whole day and it bring positivity to them with a great extend. We provide too much comfort in clothing, shoes, mats and also the solution i.e. quality products to do it at home.
At least an hour workout daily is necessary along with a glass of lemon water at morning. If you are a housewife and don’t have an enough time at morning you can do it after a span of an hour after little breakfast. As your gym is at your house you can do the same twice in a day so as to get good results but always remember that you should start it slowly may be from 20 minutes a day and according to resist at a time and then slowly increase the time and get fit for

40 Entrepreneurs Share Their Secrets to Staying Focused

Name: Whitney Wolfe
Company: Bumble
Strategy: I try to ask myself the question of nine. Will this matter in nine minutes, nine hours, nine days, nine weeks, nine months or nine years? If it will truly matter for all of those, pay attention to it. If it isn’t going to matter in nine minutes, nine hours or nine days from now, you need to not pay attention to it.

This concept of nine has kept me on track from losing focus on the things that truly matter. That way you can respond when you need to, but you don’t spend your time reacting to things that are not going to have any importance in a short period of time from now.

Read more about Wolfe: The Founder of Bumble Reveals How the ‘Question of Nine’ Can Help You Stay Focused

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13 Must-Watch Movies for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Based on a true story, Catch Me If You Can exemplifies the entrepreneurial journey. The main character, Frank Abagnale, is a con man who earned millions before he was 19 years old and successfully impersonated an airline pilot, doctor, lawyer and history professor. While Abagnale’s swindling tendencies shouldn’t be replicated, there are some wonderful insights here for the aspiring entrepreneur.

Abagnale knew how to create new opportunities out of bad situations. He achieved tremendous success in tough environments and under a great deal of stress. The movie also touches on entrepreneurial themes including creative problem solving, perseverance, personal sales techniques and finding funding sources.

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