How to Use Teamwork to Increase Productivity

I’m the type of entrepreneur who likes to do it all. I find it tempting to get involved with every project and deal with every problem personally. I have to curb this instinct, however, to avoid getting burned out and reap the benefits of having a competent team working with me.

In your business or at the office, no one person can take on every role. Especially if you are looking to expand your business, learning how to use teamwork to increase productivity is important.

Assembling the Right Team

The first step to begin using teamwork to increase productivity is assembling the right team. When you are looking for people to join your team, focus on qualifications and compatibility. A qualified team that works well together will be more stable in the long run. Finding the right people is a process, so take the time you need to assemble your team.

Qualifications

The only way working with a team will increase productivity is if the members are qualified. Think about the type of work you want to delegate. Look for people who have experience doing the kind of work you need.  Qualified individuals may even have a better understanding of how to help you increase productivity and will bring their own ideas to the table about streamlining your company’s work process.

Compatibility

After you’ve found people who have experience in your line of work, make sure your team is compatible. The whole point of teamwork is to create a collaborative environment, and that won’t happen if you don’t work well with your team. A compatible team is made up of people who have good rapport and feed off of each other’s productive energy—avoid any applicants with an every-man-for-themselves mentality.

Delegate Tasks

Increase productivity

When it comes to your business, it can be difficult to give up control. But if you want to increase productivity, you need to learn to delegate tasks. The reason you are using teamwork to increase productivity is because you can’t do it alone.

When you delegate tasks, you will most likely be overseeing the completion of the work. In this respect, you will maintain some control over the work. It’s up to you to decide who does what, and give feedback on the work being done.

Delegating tasks also gives you a fresh perspective. Maybe some of your business practices are limiting your ability to increase productivity, but you aren’t sure how to improve them. Bringing in experienced individuals with unique perspectives will help you find creative solutions to increase productivity.

Utilize Individual Strengths

As you begin working closely with others, take time to observe their personal strengths. While everyone you bring on should be qualified, everyone on your team likely has extra strengths that you can use to further increase productivity. Consider these strengths when you are delegating tasks. The stronger your team is, the more you can grow and expand.

Create a Positive Work Environment

Increase productivity

Now that you’ve assembled your team, pay attention to the work environment you create. Creating a positive work environment increases efficiency and productivity. If the people you employ feel a sense of camaraderie in the workplace, they are more likely to do their best work.

Foster Psychological Safety through Open Communication

Communication is a major component of increasing productivity. Not only do you want to have a good rapport with your team, but the actual teamwork depends on your ability to communicate objectives. Team members should feel free to ask clarifying questions, bring up concerns, and introduce new ideas.

If you create an environment where people don’t feel comfortable communicating, productivity will suffer and expansion will stagnate.

When Google studied what elements makes the perfect team, they discovered those teams that fostered psychological safety were the most successful. Teams that could have fun, and that could share personal and emotional conversations were those that became most effective.

Streamline Your Communication

Open communication is great, but excessive communication will hurt efficiency. Wasting your employees’ time with excessive e-mails and meetings will cut down on the time they spend working. Details might also slip through the cracks if your employees spend a lot of their time sifting through full inboxes. Streamline your communication by cutting back on e-mails, and only bringing in the relevant people to meetings.

In addition to distracting your employees from their work, excessive communication also brings down morale. Cutting back on constant communication is part of delegating and building trust with the people you hire.

Give Your Employees Space to Succeed

Cutting back on excessive communication is the first step to giving your team space to succeed. No one likes to be micromanaged, so once you have properly trained your employees, let them do their work without hovering over their shoulders.

Of course you will be managing progress and monitoring productivity, but if you hired a qualified team, the best way to increase productivity is to give employees a certain amount of independence.

Proper Training & Resources

Even when you bring on experienced people, you will still need to provide them with the right tools to succeed. Continually update your employees with the latest information in your field, new business practices, and the latest computer equipment, and any other extra information or tools that will improve their work.

Give Your Team Breaks

People do their best work when they have fresh eyes. No one likes to be overworked, so allow your employees time to shift focus or take a break from challenging work.

Give Constructive Feedback and Praise Achievement

Performance review is necessary in the workplace. Let your employees know how to grow and improve and praise them when they are doing well or find a new strength.

Work as a Team

Increase productivity

Although most of the tips I’ve discussed apply to any kind of workplace, remember you are using teamwork to increase productivity. Use collaboration to generate new ideas, come up with solutions, and get things done—better and faster.

Although some of the work you delegate will be individual, stress teamwork by creating opportunities for collaboration. People often get stuck when they only have one perspective, so letting your team communicate and contribute to group work will improve the quality of the work as well as help to increase productivity.

Conclusion

Building the right team, delegating tasks, maintaining a positive work environment, and stressing collaboration are the keys to learning how to use teamwork to increase productivity. Remember that delegation and teamwork free up your time to focus on innovating and expanding your business.

How You Can Avoid Creating a “Likelihood of Confusion”

There’s no doubt you have put a lot of effort into your business and your brand. If you’ve been following my blog and podcast, you’ll know that you need to create a unique and distinctive brand to avoid creating a likelihood of confusion with other brands in your industry.

When courts consider trademark infringement cases, they analyze the infringement with what’s called “Polaroid Factors.”

Polaroid Corp. v. Polarad Elect. Corp.

Likelihood of Confusion

The term Polaroid Factors comes from the case Polaroid Corp. v. Polarad Elect. Corp., 287 F.2d 492 (2d Cir. 1961). During the case, Polaroid Corporation was the holder of 22 United States registered trademarks and one New York registration. It brought action against Polarad, alleging that the use of the latter name infringed on Polaroid’s trademarks.

Ruling

Based on past cases, the judge ruled that Polarad had not infringed on the trademark rights of Polaroid.

The judge based the ruling on a lack of likelihood of confusion, the gap between the type and kind of customer of each company, the dissimilarity of their products, and the absence of damage to Polaroid’s reputation.

What is Likelihood of Confusion?

The ruling in Polaroid established a set of considerations to determine trademark infringement. If you feel like your competitor is infringing on your trademark rights, you will have to prove likelihood of confusion using the Polaroid factors.

Keep in mind that whoever registered the mark first has priority in trademark infringement cases. So if you discover there is confusion between your company and another company in your industry, make sure you have priority before suing over a likelihood of confusion.

What Are the Polaroid Factors?

Likelihood of Confusion

The Polaroid Factors are as follows:

Strength of the Mark

A strong mark has a better chance of proving likelihood of confusion. The more unique the mark is, the stronger it is. You’ll have an easier time proving likelihood of confusion the more distinct and the less descriptive your mark is.

Similarity of the Marks

Similarity is a test of sight, sound, and meaning. Any of these methods of interpretation can count as confusion. If two marks make a similar impression in the market, there might be a case of confusion in favor of the trademark holder with priority.

Similarity and Proximity of the Goods and/or Services

Similar good and services usually exist together in the marketplace. When goods and services interact in the marketplace, the likelihood of similar marks causing confusion increases. The more related the goods are within a marketplaces, the more potential for confusion there is, too.

Likelihood of Bridging the Gap

Another factor is whether or not the mark holder with priority will bridge the gap. Bridging the gap in the marketplace is the expansion into other types of goods and/or services. The more expansion by the senior mark holder, the more chance for confusion.

Intent to Adopt the Mark

If you are worried about infringing on a competitor’s trademark, consider whether or not it will cause confusion. If a competitor takes you to court for infringement and successfully proves you intend to cause confusion, you could face penalties.

Evidence of Confusion

The courts also look at actual evidence of confusion from consumers. Usually the courts get this information from consumer surveys. Good evidence can be tricky to compile but could make a big difference in how an infringement case turns out.

Sophistication of the Consumer

This factor might seem a little confusing, but it comes down to how the market classifies consumers. Each market has different kinds of consumers, but the main differences involve spending and knowledge.

The more expensive a product is, the more selective the courts assume the consumer will be. So, within markets selling expensive or luxury items, it is harder to show likelihood of confusion because the consumer will do more research before buying.

The second biggest difference is between regular and professional consumers. It requires more similarity to prove likelihood of confusion with professional consumers. A good example of a professional consumer is a pharmacist. Because he or she will come to the marketplace with superior knowledge, they are less likely to be confused than a regular consumer in a different market.

Quality

If you believe a competitor is infringing on your rights, the quality of their goods or services is also important. If there is a strong likelihood of confusion, products of a lesser quality could really damage your reputation.

Trademark Infringement

Likelihood of Confusion

Trademark infringement is a serious matter. When you are building a business the last thing you want is to lose out because of confusion. Always do thorough research to make sure no one is infringing on your rights, but also to make sure that you don’t infringe on the rights of competitors with prior marks.

If you feel that a competitor is engaging in unfair trademark practices, your case will be analyzed using the Polaroid Factors listed above. It’s the job of the priority mark holder to prove likelihood of confusion using these factors.

Consequences

Trademark infringement has serious consequences. If the courts find that there is likelihood of confusion, the offending party will most likely face lofty fees in damages.

Conclusion

Likelihood of confusion is how the courts decide if trademark infringement has taken place. Whether you are the junior or senior mark holder, you’ll need to understand Polaroid Factors while you continue to grow your brand. Whether you are losing out on opportunities because the competition is causing confusion or you are being penalized with high legal fees and damages, trademark infringement can be costly.

You work hard to grow and expand your business. Protecting your business by looking after your trademark rights allows you to keep the fruits of your hard work.

What is a Dead Trademark?

A dead trademark is a trademark whose owner failed to complete or renew it’s registration with the USPTO. There are many reasons why a trademark becomes dead or abandoned. To make sure you understand how to avoid this pitfall, it’s a good idea to briefly review some aspects of trademark law

What is a Trademark?

What is a dead trademark?

A trademark is a unique and distinct logo, design, image, phrase, etc. that separates the goods or services of one source from another. Trademark owners include individuals, businesses, and legal groups. Trademarks are often found on labels, packaging, or directly on products. Sometimes you’ll find trademarks on buildings, too.

A trademark lets you know who owns a specific good or service. You can license a trademark to other groups so that another group can produce a good or service using your trademark legally. Using a trademark without a license is brand piracy.

The primary function of a trademark is to create a source of origin. Even if you license your trademark to others, the trademark establishes you as the source. Trademarks help you keep exclusive rights over a logo, design, image, phrase, etc.

Trademark Symbols

There are two main symbols that represent trademarks. One is the trademark symbol, ™, and the other is the registered trademark symbol, ®.

The trademark symbol establishes common law protections. You can only use the registered trademark symbol after you have registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Common Law Usage

Common law protects trademarks that are not registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In the state of Virginia, the registration of a trademark does not cancel out common law rights.

Registered Trademarks

Trademarks registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office follow a certain set of guidelines. To register a trademark, you need to fill out an online application and give the USPTO information about your trademark. Once you fill out the application it normally takes about nine months or more before it’s approved. After that, you will receive a certificate from the USPTO.

When is a Trademark Dead or Abandoned?

What is a dead trademark?

Now that you know a little more about trademarks, when is a trademark dead?  Virginia state code refers to dead trademarks as “abandoned” trademarks. If you read the code, any time it talks about an abandoned trademark, it’s the same thing as a dead trademark.

In the federal context, the USPTO lists as DEAD, all trademarks that:

  • Were filed but never actually completed registration
  • Were registered, but subsequently were not renewed

What is a Dead Trademark?

Broadly, a dead trademark is a trademark that  the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office does not recognize anymore. There are many different reasons a trademark can lapse. If a trademark lapses or dies for some reason, it may become difficult to register for it again.

But keep in mind that just because a trademark registration is dead, that doesn’t mean the trademark owner isn’t still using the mark.

Why is it Difficult to Register for a Dead Trademark?

If someone allows a trademark to lapse or die, you might have a hard time registering for that trademark in the future. When a trademark dies, that usually means the owner let the registration lapse or that the USTPO discontinued the trademark for some other reason.

Although the trademark lost official status, it still has common law protections. If you want to claim a dead trademark, then you should talk to an attorney to make sure you don’t violate someone’s common-law rights. Even without registration, owners can keep using a trademark.

Reasons the USTPO Stops Recognizing a Trademark

What is a dead trademark?

The U.S. Trademark and Patent Office has its own rules for dead trademarks. If you want to avoid abandoning your trademark, it’s crucial to understand why the USTPO stops recognizing trademarks.

You also have the option to abandon your trademark on purpose if you no longer want to use it.

Purposeful Abandonment

If you no longer want your trademark, you can abandon it.

People let trademarks die for two main reasons. The first reason you might abandon a trademark is if you no longer want to use it in commerce. The other reason is if someone files a Notice of Opposition against you. A Notice of Opposition means that someone thinks your trademark will violate their pre-existing rights.

This is why some marks will show as DEAD in the USPTO listing, even though they were never actually registered.

Registration Lapse

If you hold a trademark, every few years you have to prove you are still using it in commerce. You have to file an application five years, and then ten years from the first time you first registered the mark.

If you don’t take this step, you trademark registration will lapse and the registry will list your mark as dead.

Some states, including Virginia, have additional rules about registration lapse. Be sure to find out if your state has special rules so your trademark doesn’t lapse without your knowledge.

No Response

If the U.S. Patent and Trademark Offices asks you to give extra information about your trademark and you don’t reply, your trademark registration will die. Always comply with requests from the USPTO and appropriate state commissions.

Genericide

Genericide sounds more complicated than it really is. It simply means that your trademark has become so generic that it’s no longer associated with a specific good or service.

If genericide happens, the USPTO can require you to abandon the trademark. A few famous examples of genericide include: flip phone, trampoline, and videotape. Companies at some point had trademarks for these phrases, but their use became so popular that the trademarks died.

If you worry about genericide and your trademark, there are ways to prevent it.

Virginia Code and Dead Trademarks

What is a dead trademark?

Virginia has some of its own rules when it comes to dead trademarks. Here’s how Virginia defines a dead trademark:

A trademark is dead if you can’t prove you plan to use it again. An example of this is if you don’t use your trademark for three years in a row. It’s a dead trademark unless you prove you plan to use it again. Any act that causes the trademark to lose significance is also abandonment.

Conclusion

A trademark protects individuals, companies, and legal groups that offer unique goods and services. With both common law and registered protections, a trademark is a good way to protect your brand.

Remember what makes a trademark dead, though. Unless you want to abandon your trademark, make sure you keep up with registration and respond promptly to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

In addition, remember to protect your trademark from genericide. Finally, always keep up with the related codes in your state because your state might have extra rules for abandoned trademarks.

Genericide: What it is and How to Avoid it

Genericide is when a company’s protectable trademark becomes a common noun, or generic. This happens when a brand’s product becomes so common that it’s a synonym for the entire product category. When this happens, the trademark is deemed “abandoned” and becomes part of the public domain.

What’s really awful about genericide is that it tends to happen when you are too successful.

You have a great marketing campaign, your product is popular and eventually moves to the forefront of its category. Because it becomes everyone’s go-to, people begin to use your brand name in every day speech. At that point, you are entering the dangerous waters of potential genericide.

But even then it’s not a lost cause. Many brands on the cusp of genericide have been able to launch successful marketing campaigns to combat genericide and retain control over their intellectual property.

Countering Genericide through Advertisement

Genericide

Here are some examples of brands that have been on the brink of genericide and the ad campaigns they used to keep their grip on their trademark.

  • Chrysler’s Jeep® was in danger of becoming generic for all SUVs. They countered this trend with a clever campaign using the tagline “They invented ‘SUV’ because they can’t call them Jeep®.”
  • Johnson & Johnson Corporation’s Band-Aids were becoming generic for all adhesive bandages. They fought back with their tagline “I am stuck on Band-Aids brand ‘cause Band-Aid’s stuck on me.”
  • Xerox Corporation’s approach was more direct when they were facing possible genericide. Their ad campaign centered around the tagline “You can’t Xerox a Xerox on a Xerox. But we don’t mind at all if you copy a copy on a Xerox® copier.”
  • When Kleenex® was on the brink of becoming the generic for all tissues, Kimberly-Clark Corporation’s campaign was less of a tagline and more of an open assertion of their trademark: “‘Kleenex’ is a brand name…and should always be followed by an ® and the word ‘Tissue.’ [Kleenex® Brand Tissue] Help us keep our identity, ours.”

Countering Genericide in Court

Genericide

While these brands have managed to cling to their trademarks through advertisement strategies, some brands have had to fight it out in court. Here are a few brands that managed to successfully battle to keep their trademarks in the face of genericide:

Wham-O Inc., a toymaker responsible for probably half of your childhood joy went to court in 2008 to protect their rights to Frisbee, Hula Hoop, and Slip ’N Slide. A competitor, Manley Toys Ltd. filed cancellation proceedings. They argued that the names had become generic.

Wham-O countered with a declaratory judgement suit. A judge eventually threw out the suit. Despite their failure in claiming that Manley Toys Ltd. was scheming to destroy their business, they managed to settle and maintain their trademarks on all three toys.

Coca-Cola Co. protected “Coke” from genericide through a trademark suit against a Nevada casino that was selling Pepsi to its customers who requested Coke. The casino defended themselves, saying that “Coke” was a generic term for any soda.

While it’s true that “Coke” has become a regional term for soda of any kind, the court ruled in Coca-Cola’s favor, allowing them to curb the genericide of their trademark.

Google Inc. is in the midst of perhaps the most prominent genericide case in recent memory. As I’m sure you know, to “google” something has become a common synonym for running a web search.

Last spring, the 9th Circuit in California upheld Google’s trademark rights so that they could prevent their name being used in web domain names. The court found that despite the “verbing” of the trademark, Google was still a brandname that functioned beyond the verb.

Two men are seeking to appeal this case to the Supreme Court. They are arguing that the court should not uphold trademarks that have become verbs in their “verbed” context. However, it’s unlikely that the Supreme Court will hear this case, particularly because experts in trademark law affirmed the original ruling.

Lost Genericide Cases

Genericide

Not every genericide case that has gone to court has had a favorable outcome for the original owner of the trademark, however.

Bayer originally held the trademark for Aspirin, the common drug called acetylsalicylic acid.

All the way back in 1917, Bayer sued a company for using the term Aspirin to sell their own version of the same drug. The judge ruled against the German company. Interestingly enough, Bayer actually had their U.S. trademarks for Aspirin and Heroin stripped from them at the end of World War I.

Other lost trademarks more classically lost to genericide (sans war reparations) include cellophane, escalator, trampoline, and thermos.

What Can You Do to Prevent Genericide?

Genericide

There are strategies to avoid genericide in the usage of your trademark. These guidelines on trademark usage help differentiate your trademarked name from the generic name for the product.

  • First, use the generic name in conjunction with the trademark, like Kimberly-Clark Corp.’s campaign suggested in their tagline with Kleenex® Brand Tissues. The generic term here is “tissues.” The phrase clearly distinguishes Kleenex® as the brand name and tissues as the product category.
  • Never use the trademark as a noun by itself. This is exactly how genericide happens.
  • Use the ® symbol or, for an unregistered trademark, the ™.
  • Avoid using the trademark as a verb in or in the plural.
  • Don’t abbreviate or modify the trademark.
  • Educate people on the proper use of the trademark, and object to the misuse of the trademark.

Conclusion

Genericide can be hugely damaging to a company’s brand and business. The association consumers have with your trademark tell them about the quality and nature of your product. Your trademark is what sets you apart from your competitors. Losing that place in consumers’ minds is like losing your product’s public identity.

Because of this, preventing genericide is paramount.

Ultimately, avoiding genericide is about walking that fine line between becoming a household name and slipping into every-day speech. Adhere to trademark usage guidelines, and be sure to take action when people misuse your trademark. If you actively protect and uphold your trademark, genericide will become less of a threat.

Value-Based Pricing: The Basics

Why Use a Value-Based Pricing Model?

When it comes to pricing your services as an independent entrepreneur, it can be hard to know where to draw the line between profit and practicality. If you aim too low, you risk selling yourself short and missing out on growing your business.

If you shoot too high, you might lose clients, right?

Well, not necessarily.

If you transition into using a value-based pricing system, you could find yourself seeing the results and profits you—and your clients—have been looking for.

value-based pricing

What is Value-Based Pricing?

Value-based pricing is a shift in thinking that can be applied to just about any area of business. The basic concept is that you should be charging for your services based on the value they render your client, rather than on hours or cost.

Cost-plus pricing is what you’re probably most familiar with, in which you first calculate your costs before adding a certain percentage to create a profit. Cost-plus pricing often lends itself to an adversarial dynamic between yourself and your clients.

Adjusting Your Thinking

The first step to shifting into value-based pricing is changing your mindset about yourself and your work.

It’s easy to get caught up in undervaluing what you do.

Often, these are habits ingrained in you from your first jobs onward. You’re taught to pay your dues, to take what you can get, and to say thank you.

While some of these principles can hold true, once you’ve established yourself as a hardworking person in your field who delivers results, it’s time to move on from treating yourself like an entry-level employee.

Time Isn’t Money

One of the tougher mindsets to move away from is equating time with money.

If you are charging an hourly rate, you are incentivized to drag the process out for more compensation. But the longer you are in your field, the faster and more efficient you probably are at your job, right?

Should you be punished for your greater level of experience?

Of course not.

And your customers likely want to reap the benefits of your skills as soon as possible, which adds to the value of your service rather than detracting from it.

Charging by the hour also limits your profits. You only have so many hours in a day, and it’s easy to run yourself down by working too much when you assign a dollar amount to all twenty-four of them.

Your clients are paying for you, not your time.

Even if something takes just a few hours for you, it is because you have spent years learning your trade and maintaining knowledge of your field so that you can deliver the greatest value to your client.

The Consultation

A big shift that value-based pricing demands is a change in the conversations you have with clients.

When talking about a potential project, you may have a pitch down to a T.

But value-based pricing isn’t about having a practiced pitch. It’s about having a thoughtful conversation.

 value-based pricing

Really Listen

Start out by asking thorough questions.

What problems does your client have that they hope to address through hiring you?

Sometimes the first answer isn’t the best one. Keep asking until you feel you’ve unpacked all you need to know about the client and their business goals.

Sometimes the client will be able to nail down their goals in a numerical way, like revenue or savings. Others will want something less tangible, like exposure.

Either way, your services and expertise can help them reach this goal, and understanding what their endgame is will allow you to accurately judge the value of your services.

In his book Breaking the Time Barrier, Mike McDerment suggests asking a client, “What does success look like to you?” This approach can sometimes help clients quantify a seemingly-unquantifiable concept, such as aesthetic value.

By the end of this conversation, you should both know what the client’s Point A and Point B are.

There may be some differences in how you both perceive these points, but you’ll have to close the gap between your perspectives to establish clarity.

Clarity ensures that you will deliver the greatest value to your client and will be able to charge accordingly.

Value Before Price

In a traditional, more adversarial pitch, you might lead with price off the bat. But that doesn’t work for value-based pricing for a number of reasons.

Talking price right away defeats the principles of value-based pricing because there is no value associated with those numbers yet. Until you know what outcomes the client is looking for, you can’t give them a fair quote.

Think of it in terms of putting the client’s needs first.

You want to lead with what you can give them—results—instead of what they can give you—price. If your client wants to talk price right out of the gate, let them know that you need to establish what they are looking for first.

If you talk budget upfront, the numbers discussed will probably be just as disconnected from your value as cost-plus pricing.

Your clients don’t yet know exactly what value you offer.

Only after your discussion and presentation will they see how much they’re willing to pay for the value you can bring to their business.

A Healthy Relationship

Your initial consulting conversation is the beginning of a relationship.

This relationship—like any relationship—is founded on trust and attention. This means that when your client’s goals aren’t compatible with your skills or services, you tell them.

This kind of honesty will earn you referrals.

While this particular client may not need your services, they may know someone who does.

After going through the process of figuring out their needs with you, they know that you have an attention to detail and a level of personal care that everyone is looking for when commissioning services.

The Presentation and the Pricing

Once your client can see the value you’re ready to bring to the relationship, they’re often ready to take the next step right away. They understand that the sooner your partnership begins, the sooner they are going to start to see results.

value-based pricing

Plans and Prices

What happens after you know what the client wants?

It’s a good idea to craft a proposal. The client has problems and you have solutions.

Tell them what their needs are and exactly how your particular set of skills and experiences help you meet their needs.

This isn’t just about a pitch. This is about putting what you learn during your conversations with your client into practice, and turning it into strategies that bring results.

Something that may suit your area of business is offering a “menu” during your presentation. Each plan of attack or solution you offer can have a set price, with a range to accommodate the different amounts your client may want to invest.

These prices will still reflect the value of what you are offering. The client will be able to clearly see the opportunity costs of choosing less-valuable solutions for the sake of budget, and are more likely to go with a plan that will deliver high-impact results.

Don’t be afraid to suggest solutions your client may not have been looking for. There can sometimes be a gap between what your client wants and what they actually need in order to achieve their goals.

When it comes to value-based pricing, remember that your clients aren’t necessarily looking for the cheapest solution.

They’re looking for the best solution.

Cheaper rates can sometimes come across as compensating for shoddy work. If you know your worth, be comfortable with charging accordingly.

The Results

Using a value-based pricing approach will create positive results for your business, and I’m not just talking about your budget.

value-based pricing

By understanding what your clients want and need, you’ll see areas of your own skills you may want to expand and improve upon.

If you begin to face stiff competition in your field, turn to adding value to your service rather than lowering your prices.

As you do, you will learn about your ideal client. Throughout this process, you will find out exactly which kinds of clients have the needs and scale that match your skills and value.

By offering value-based pricing and consulting, you can weed out clients that want to corner you into providing services for free or at a discount.

Conclusion

It’s important to note that value-based pricing can be applied to just about any industry.

For some clients in particular fields, it might make sense to use a combination of hourly rates and value-based pricing, especially as you transition from a cost-plus pricing model.

For others, the value-based prices and plans will work perfectly.

The greatest lesson to take from this primer is understanding and owning your value.

You have worked hard to develop your skills and you can deliver outcomes that clients will pay for. After you realize your unique professional value, you can offer yourself to your clients as a partner and investment rather than an adversary.

After all, you both want the same thing: results.

5 CEO Attributes You Need to Develop

Everyone in business wants to be successful. One way to make sure you’re on the right path to success is to look at the lives of other successful people, and then do what they do.

Here are some success-creating habits that CEOs and successful entrepreneurs live by.

1. Lifelong Learning

Successful people never stop learning. Even after you reach your goals and achieve amazing business accomplishments, never be too proud to learn.

Many CEOs are dedicated to lifelong learning.

Reading Habits

Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, reads 50 books annually; about one book per week.

He and his wife, Melinda, are dedicated to universally accessible learning. They established the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which promotes academic growth, globalized care, and outreach.

Postsecondary Success focuses efforts on all learning, how to finance it, and how to become successful students before, during, and after a postgraduate career.

While their efforts are impressive, Bill and Melinda aren’t the alone in maintaining lifetime learning.

Businessman and investment tycoon Mark Cuban reads each day because he has found that it is useful in his business practices. Even household names, like Mark Zuckerberg and Oprah Winfrey, promote healthy reading habits.

Maintaining ongoing reading practices and self-improvement through self-education are not just good habits – they’re a fundamental asset to becoming a successful entrepreneur.

Sharing and Learning Through Teaching

While it isn’t commonly spoken of, many successful CEOs teach. You really learn something when you teach. Also, CEOs get the benefit of spending time with the next generation of students and leaders in their field.

Michael Crooke, former CEO of Patagonia, spends his time as a visiting professor in the Graziadio School of Business at Pepperdine University.

His M.B.A. course promotes sustainable business practices in hopes of inspiring his students to go against the traditional business model in pursuit of a new, sustainable, and competitive business model. Crooke also recognizes that when he teaches, he’s not the only one learning. He feels that his students teach him.

Those who have joined this practice of teaching younger generations of possible CEOs include John Allison (CEO of BB&T), Neil Braun (CEO of Viacom Entertainment), Bill George (former CEO of Medtronic), and dozens more.

Seeking Knowledge

Reading and teaching aren’t the only routes taken by successful CEOs.

George Zlatin, co-founder of Digital Third Coast, keeps a habit of listening to self-improvement audio books. Michael Bruch, CEO of Willow, spends an hour or two each day on Twitter in order to gather updates on technology news and developments. Even Lydia Gilbert, CEO of Dia&Co., takes the time to learn from other great leaders on YouTube talks and podcasts.

While all of these individuals are already successful, they keep learning.

2. Keep it Simple

As a business owner you have a full plate, and it can be difficult to back away from the daily grind and pursue your business vision. Many CEOs achieve mindfulness by simplifying their daily routines.

Make Lists

Kenneth Chenault, CEO of American Express, doesn’t take his to-do list home with him. Instead, he writes his top three tasks of the next day, and leaves the list on his desk to return to in the morning. That way, he knows what needs to be done first without worrying about it at home.

Benjamin Franklin allotted three hours each morning to answering the question: “What good shall I do today?”

Leave Work at Work

Mark Fachler, CEO of Veestro, believes that work should be kept outside of the bedroom. This work-free space is a “sanctuary,” and should be kept stress-free and separate from your working environment.

According to Fachler, this method of reducing stress leads to higher work efficiency (not to mention a happier marital life).

Be Timely

It’s one thing to be stressed over work duties – it’s another to be stressed and late for an important company meeting. CEOs are leaders. You should exhibit strong leadership through punctuality. Being on time doesn’t only help you to minimize your stress, but it can increase productivity and the efficiency of staff when you show your dedication to what you do.

Respect for what you do and those that you work for repays you by minimizing additional stress and workplace tensions. It’s a simple way to maintain workplace productivity and keep your schedule running smoothly.

Simplifying the Wardrobe

Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and CEO of Facebook, stands alongside Steve Jobs (former CEO of Apple) in his affinity for keeping a simple wardrobe. These iconic businessmen are known for their consistent apparel and daily attire that is consistent from day to day.

However, CEOs aren’t the only ones who dress minimally for business. President Barack Obama has spoken about his repetitive gray and blue wardrobe, stating: “I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

Saving the time (and energy) deciding what to wear is a common practice many successful businessmen and women.

3. Staying Healthy

Health of mind and body are keys to creating a successful life and business. Many CEOs make a monumental effort to stay healthy.

Mental Breaks from the Workday

Dan Hogan, founder and CEO of Medalogix, turns to building blocks and a game of catch when he’s feeling blocked and overwhelmed. Brief mental breaks during the workday allow him to recuperate and get back on track with business.

Charlie Silver, CEO of Algebraix Data, believes in clearing his head of business by taking a brief, quiet walk before bed. This practice promotes clarity, while helping him to prioritize for the next day.

Physical Exercise and Health Practices

Steve Jobs was known for his minimalist eating habits. Michael McDevitt, CEO of Terra’s Kitchen, maintains his health in life and business by starting each day consistently with a healthy breakfast.

Hannibal Baldwin, CEO of SiteZeus, believes in daily exercise in order to maintain overall health and well-being. Baldwin claims that “it has played a critical role in my daily attitude, work potential, and outlook on life.”

CEOs on average are more likely to participate in marathons and triathlons than the general population.

4. Goal Habits

Research shows that leaders take time out to ponder and reflect.

The ability to document and deconstruct ideas enables creativity and development. Taking a few moments each day to record your thoughts and ideas allows you to revisit them with deeper insight another time, when you may be better equipped to address those thoughts.

Planning & Ideas

Daniel Nyiri, owner of 4U-Fitness, makes time each day to journal his day outside of his pre-set business appointments. Planning each day in advance allows Nyiri to have a better sense of what his days will be like, which leaves plenty of time for preparation in order to be at his most productive.

He doesn’t just keep a journal of his daily “to-do’s” and work ideas – he highly recommends the practice to anyone looking to get ahead.

Erin Stair, MD, MPH keeps a habit of writing down her ideas each night during a bath – her “relaxation time.” As Erin stated about her somewhat unusual habit: “Any thoughts worth keeping, I write them down immediately, and carefully, so I don’t get the notebook wet. It’s how I literally capture creativity while it’s happening.”

Accountability

According to Forbes, a recurring attribute of successful business starts with a journaling habit. However, rather than journaling to record or expand an idea, this practice addresses recording daily on-goings in a “job journal”.

In this journal, you should record your daily achievements: acknowledging your business strengths, assessing your plans for weaknesses, recording progress and setbacks, establishing new approaches – whatever you find is important to document about the project.

These notes allow you to remain critical of your work. Reflective criticism allows you to continue evolving better business practices.

Is there a more efficient way of doing something?

Write it down.

Is there something you’ve missed?

Write that down, too.

All of your reflections concerning on-going projects are valuable to your progress.

5. Get Vision

As the head of any company, your ideas, aspirations, and goals should extend far beyond your current business. Remember, your career is limited only by your imagination and effort.

All the successful CEOs, and the entrepreneurs I’ve worked with, have more than one pan in the fire. This may seem crazy if you haven’t yet started a business, but first businesses often don’t work out. It’s the lessons you learn each time you start a business that will help you achieve success.

So set out to do more than just start and run one business.

Think bigger than your business.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, began his business through experimental ventures. Beginning with Wirehog – a “peer-to-peer” file sharing server – Zuckerberg developed his business model into the Facebook Platform, Beacon, and Connect. During his time developing all of the applications within the Facebook project, he also began Internet.org, seeking to provide internet to those who were not connected before the launch of Facebook.

His goal?

Creating new jobs in a market he was pioneering, while maintaining total “net neutrality.” In other words, Zuckerberg didn’t seek to own the internet – he sought to expand its reach.

As a CEO, thinking locally will provide limited expansion to your business. However, thinking globally will provide growth, success, and the ability to expand your business as well as future ventures.

Conclusion

As I’ve learned about these and other CEO habits I’ve tried to cultivate them. If the successful consistently do certain things, it stands to reason that doing what they do will help you achieve success too.

What are some other habits you’ve noticed in the successful entrepreneurs you know? What habits have you set out develop?

Share This