Surprising Foods That Can Upset Your Stomach

By Christine L. Frissora, MD


If you have a sensitive stomach, you probably experience frequent bouts of digestive distress. While in some cases it’s obvious what has caused the discomfort—for example, eating spicy foods or taking seconds, or even thirds—other times it seems to be a mystery.

What you may not know is that it could have been something seemingly harmless, or even healthful—like green tea or yogurt—that caused you to feel nauseated or bloated.


Surprising triggers of digestive discomfort…

Energy bars. Because these bars, such as Zone Perfect bars and PowerBars, contain added nutrients and vitamins, they typically are eaten as a healthful snack, a meal replacement or for a preworkout energy boost. Some bars, especially low-sugar or low-carb varieties, contain sugar alcohols, such asglycerin and maltitol syrup, which can cause bloating, gas and diarrhea. Other bars are simply too high in complex carbohydrates and calories for someone with a sensitive stomach to digest easily.

What to do: If you want to have an energy bar, be sure to eat only a small portion of it at a time.

Green tea. Although green tea is widely recognized for its disease-fighting properties—it’s full of antioxidants and other compounds that help fight cancer and heart disease and stave off diabetes, stroke and dementia—it contains irritants that can make you feel nauseated.

For example, green tea contains caffeine—anywhere from 24 mg to 40 mg per eight-ounce cup—which can irritate the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Even decaffeinated green tea has some caffeine. But it’s not the caffeine by itself that makes green tea a cause of digestive distress in some people. Green tea is also very high in tannins (polyphenols responsible for its astringent taste), which are associated with nausea and stomach upset in some individuals.

What to do: If green tea makes you nauseated, avoid it altogether or have a very weak cup. Chamomile tea is soothing to the GI tract and is a good alternative.

Vegetable skins. Eggplant, bell pepper and potato skins can be difficult to digest, especially if you have diverticulitis (inflamed or infected pouches in the intestinal wall) or colitis (inflammation of the large intestine)…or have had complicated abdominal surgery (involving infection or perforation).

What to do: Peel thick-skinned vegetables, then purée, mash or stew the insides before eating to aid digestion.

Grapes. Red and black grapes contain the phytochemical resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant thought to help protect against coronary disease, some cancers and viral infections. But eating too many grapes—or even just a few if you are sensitive to them—can cause nausea and diarrhea. Reason: Grapes are high infructose, a natural sugar that often causes gas. Green grapes contain a lot of tannins, like green tea, which can lead to stomach upset.

What to do: Eat only a small amount of grapes, or avoid them altogether if you are sensitive to them. Instead, try eating other fruits rich in resveratrol, such as cranberries, blueberries and bilberries.

Nuts. The high fiber and fat content of nuts slow their movement through the digestive tract, which increases the risk for gas and bloating. Nuts also contain stomach-irritating tannins.

What to do: Avoid eating nuts if you experience digestive discomfort when consuming them…have had a complicated abdominal surgery…have peritonitis(inflammation of the inner abdominal wall)…or have diverticulosis (small pouches that bulge through the large intestine) or diverticulitis. Some alternatives to whole nuts include nut butters or oatmeal with berries.

Probiotics. The balance of healthful and potentially unhealthful bacteria in your digestive system can be thrown off due to illness, medications and diet, causing diarrhea and constipation. Probiotic supplements and foods contain live, healthful bacteria that can help restore balance to the digestive system. Examples of the bacteria contained in probiotics include Lactobacillus andBifidobacterium.

Certain probiotic supplements and foods are helpful for specific situations. For example, Activia yogurt can help alleviate constipation…the supplement Align can ease bloating…and Florastor (Saccharomyces boulardii lyo) helps diarrhea caused by antibiotics.

What to do: Many probiotic supplements and foods can produce bloating (due to the ingestion of billions of bacteria). Avoid probiotics if this is a problem for you.

Caution: If you are severely ill or your immune system is compromised, avoid probiotics (and check with your doctor before having yogurt). Probiotics can enter the bloodstream and cause sepsis, a potentially life-threatening condition caused by the body’s inflammatory response to bacteria or other germs.

Important: A sensitive stomach, marked by gas and bloating, may be caused byceliac disease, an immune reaction to gluten in wheat, barley and rye. If you have these symptoms, get tested for celiac disease.


You may already know that the following foods can cause stomach upset, but they’re worth a reminder…

Artificial sweeteners. Some artificial sweeteners, such as Splenda (sucralose), Equal (aspartame) and Sweet‘N Low (saccharin), are difficult for the body to break down, which can lead to bloating, nausea, headache and other symptoms.

What to do: Be on the lookout for artificial sweeteners, which are found not only in diet sodas and sugarless gum, but also in many other processed foods, including some yogurts, cereals, snacks and juices.

Carbonated beverages. These drinks contain carbon dioxide gas, which distends the stomach.

What to do: Avoid beer, soda, seltzer and other “fizzy” drinks if you have bloating. Plain water is best.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG). This flavor enhancer often is added to Chinese food, canned vegetables, soups and processed meats. It can cause nausea, headache, cramping, fatigue and other symptoms.

What to do: Avoid Chinese food, unless it is free of MSG, and avoid canned or processed foods with MSG on the label.


How you eat and drink also can help prevent discomfort. For example, it’s widely known that having six small meals per day, rather than three larger meals, makes it easier for the stomach to empty properly. Other helpful approaches…

Drink liquids between meals. While the digestive system needs to be well-hydrated to function optimally, too much water or other liquids during meals can overdistend the stomach, especially in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach contents backwash into the esophagus…hiatal hernia, in which part of the stomach sticks upward into the chest through an opening in the diaphragm…and gastroparesis, delayed emptying of the stomach.

Small sips of liquid during a meal are fine. Helpful: Avoid having a lot of liquids about 15 minutes before you eat and at least an hour after you eat.

Don’t talk while eating. This can lead to aerophagia, a condition caused by swallowing too much air, which can result in abdominal bloating, frequent belching and gas.

Eat slowly and chew well. Make sure to thoroughly chew foods—especially hard foods, such as nuts—before swallowing.

Stew meats. They are digested more easily than those that are broiled, grilled or fried.

Take chewable supplements. Many supplements can cause bloating or nausea. If possible, use chewable forms, which are less likely to cause discomfort.


Your stomach mixes food with digestive juices, then empties its contents into the small intestine. If you have a sensitive stomach, the muscles of the stomach may function more slowly, which can lead to indigestion. Or the nerves of the stomach may be overly sensitive to distension (enlargement of the stomach after eating), resulting in uncomfortable bloating. Eating certain foods, including onions, garlic, apples and pears, can make these symptoms worse.

Source: Christine L. Frissora, MD, assistant attending physician at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and an associate professor of medicine at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, both in New York City. Board-certified in gastroenterology, Dr. Frissora has given numerous presentations on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and coauthored studies on gastroenterology topics. She now is conducting a National Institutes of Health trial on the use of acupuncture to treat IBS.

10 Phrases Every Millionaire Avoids

10 Phrases Every Millionaire Avoids

Self-Made Millionaire & Business Expert
Image credit: Shutterstock

Everywhere I go, I hear people talking about money.

At one particular conference, I heard a group discussing how “Money Isn’t Everything” and “Money Doesn’t Make You Happy.” After noticing their poor thoughts, I knew that this was clearly the conversation to avoid.

Many people proudly preach their philosophies about money. Unfortunately, I find that they are seriously miseducated about personal finances. However, when it comes to having money, there’s a certain way of thinking about it.

Let’s dive deeper into the 10 phrases every millionaire should avoid:

1. I Work Hard for My Money

The majority of people think that they must “work hard” for their money. This forces them to grind, even when it’s completely unnecessary. You don’t have to work hard for money, but you must let money work for you. Money is never hard to come by if you can attract it. Instead, say this: Money easily comes to me from all directions. I am always prospering.

2. Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees

This person is basically stating they believe money must come from only one source, which is an erroneous thought that many people have. Instead of thinking that you can only get money from a particular place or person, believe that it can come from anywhere and at anytime. If you want to become a millionaire, you’ll most likely need multiple income streams.

Related: 5 Secrets to Monetizing Your LinkedIn Experience

3. It’s Too Expensive/We Can’t Afford It

This usually happens when a person meets an immovable price. The truth is that the price you may be seeing is exactly the limitation you need to overcome and often separates most people from achieving their goals. If you live by the price, you die by the price. In other words, if the price was always cheap, everyone would have it and no one would work for anything.

4. Save for a Rainy Day

When people talk to me about saving, they meekly chuckle and say, “Ya know, you gotta save for the rainy days.” What they’re basically saying is, “I expect disaster and my savings account will immediately diminish when it happens.” Instead, save for sunny days,which are days of prosperity — luxury vacations, homes, big investments, etc.

5. Money is The Root of All Evil 

This is a highly misquoted verse in the Bible. This makes people also believe that richpeople are evil. However, the proper quotation states, “The LOVE of money is the root of all evil.” Money has no personality. Therefore, it cannot act in a good or evil manner. If money was evil, how would you have a device to read this article right now?

The lack of money is the root of all evil –Mark Twain

6. My Spouse Runs the Finances

This person clearly doesn’t take responsibility over their money and doesn’t deserve to have more of it. The other day, I heard a man say, “My wife keeps ALL of the money. I NEVER touch any of it.” It wasn’t a big surprise that this man was always in financial despair. Lesson: Always know what’s in your bank account, even if you trust your spouse. Check it everyday.

7. It’s Not in My Budget

There’s a lot of people who advocate that “money is tight” or that they’re “bootstrapping.” These absurd phrases repel wealth away from them entirely. If you close your wallet and force yourself to believe that a product or service cannot be acquired, you’ll probably never get it. Instead, ask, “How can I acquire this product or service?” or “What must I do to make this purchase happen?”

Related: 7 Truths Every Millionaire Knows About Business

8. Money Doesn’t Make You Happy

I always smile when I receive money. It really makes me happy. After all, I can take care of my family and buy many things that make life easier. When people say, “Money can’t buy happiness,” they’re referring to the people that they see on mass media, not the majority of actual millionaires who enjoy their lavish and happy lives. Truthfully, I was never happy when I didn’t have money. Been there, done that.

9. You Can’t Have Money if You Love God

This is a touchy subject, but I personally believe that money is the expression of God’s favor and abundance. Money can only be happily acquired through righteous deeds. If you believe that it’s righteous to be poor, just remember that King Solomon was the richest man that ever lived (according to Abrahamic religions). Moreover, diamonds and gold were made for God’s people, not his enemies.

10. Money Isn’t That Important

People often say, “It’s just money” and “I don’t do it for the money.” If it’s “just money” and you “don’t do it for the money,” why do you accept money when it comes to you? Money is very important and must be taught at home, school, work, and religious circles. Those who evade the responsibilities of money will cease to have any of it.

Money tends to react to your attitude about it. If you have mixed feelings about what money means to you, begin by jotting down your thoughts and refrain from using these phrases. Rewire your mind by assuming that you’re ready for true wealth. Find a great teacher to coach you. And remember, when the mind is ready the money will come. The world will only give you money when you’re ready for it.

Related: The 12 Skills Every Millionaire Must Have

Expert Opinions: Is a Business Degree Worth It?

Expert Opinions: Is a Business Degree Worth It?

Image credit: Shutterstock

This story first appeared in the December issue of Entrepreneur. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Can going to school make you an entrepreneur? It’s a burning question for people deciding whether to jump straight into business or spend years — and a lot of money — on a degree from one of more than 2,000 U.S. colleges and universities that offer entrepreneurship courses. While there’s no shortage of opinions arguing both sides, there’s no consensus. So we sat down with two researchers to get their take.

Heidi Neck
Image Credit: Guido Vitti

Heidi Neck is the Jeffry A. Timmons Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies at Babson College in Wellesley, Mass., and director of the Babson Entrepreneurship Experience Lab. She is co-author of Teaching Entrepreneurship: A Practice-Based Approach.

What do students get from entrepreneurship programs?

Things are changing, and students are finding that what they learn has transferability to organizations of all types and sizes. When you look five or 10 years out, that’s when students have a greater propensity for starting businesses. We have a glamorized view of what entrepreneurship is; in profiles and magazines we’re seeing a small percentage of really successful entrepreneurs who are living the good life now. In the education setting, students realize just how difficult it actually is. I like the realism we can bring to it.

Are students failures if they don’t start a business right after graduation?

We teach entrepreneurship in the context of starting a business, but we have students who graduate and don’t start a business, and I don’t think that’s a failure of the program. They’re coming out with a more integrated mindset around business instead of some functional expertise. Some go into consumer products companies, some go into consulting, some go to Wall Street. Years back, students were afraid to say they were focusing on entrepreneurship. Now corporations are looking for students like that.

How has the view of entrepreneurship education evolved?

Historically, if you look back at the 1980s and ’90s, the focus was on small-business management and the traits of entrepreneurs. Now that researchers are giving up the idea that there are character traits that separate entrepreneurs from others, it has evolved into more of a process view: What is the process of starting a business?

I would say in the last five years there’s been more emphasis on acting in order to learn—getting out there, testing your ideas—not simply making a business plan. I like to say we’re teaching students how to practice entrepreneurship, which circles back to the question of the value of entrepreneurship education. We’re giving students an environment in which to practice different aspects of entrepreneurship where the cost of failure is not as great as it would be outside on their own.

Are there other advantages to studying entrepreneurship?

I think it’s meeting peers, which helps students with networking and with filling out their teams. Students are also looking to the faculty for guidance and access to faculty networks. The institution’s role is not only to connect them inside but to connect them to the appropriate networks outside. And of course there’s the alumni network. Our alumni are always coming back to find out how they can help in the classroom or to find students to bring into their organizations.

So you don’t really believe someone can become an entrepreneur by reading a book?

It all goes back to the practice. As we get more comfortable with doing something, we learn more about it. Doing it may tell a student that they don’t want anything to do with entrepreneurship, or that they would be more comfortable working in a corporation with an innovation arm. They won’t ever get that feeling by reading a book. I’m a huge proponent of doing in order to learn vs. learning in order to do. I think this generation is expecting to be engaged around entrepreneurial education, and if they’re not, there’s very little return on investment. At Babson, it’s a campus-wide thing. We don’t tolerate passive learners very well.

Vivek Wadhwa
Image Credit: Melissa Kaseman

Vivek Wadhwa is a fellow at the Stanford University Rock Center for Corporate Governance, research director for Duke University’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization and vice president of innovation and research at Singularity University. He is the author of The Immigrant Exodus: Why America Is Losing the Global Race to Capture Entrepreneurial Talent and Innovating Women: The Changing Face of Technology.

Is entrepreneurial education worthwhile?

I would have answered this question differently a while ago, but I realized living in Silicon Valley, you can skip school, because this is school. Everyone around you talks and walks and thinks about entrepreneurship. You can join a startup in downtown Palo Alto or San Francisco, and you’ll learn it on the job. If you live anywhere else, you’d better go to school, because you don’t have the people around you; you don’t have the sharing network you have here. It’s really that simple.

What’s the problem with entrepreneurship education?

Most of the schools are still backward. They are still teaching business plans and how to raise venture capital and stuff like that. That’s ’90s stuff. Now it’s about lean startups, iterations, using exponential technology, and it’s about building apps. If you can find the right school that teaches these things, you’re all set. But I would not go to a traditional school, and I would look at the curriculum. If they have “business plan” or “business plan competition” on there anywhere, dump it.

These days, people can learn most of it online. You have access to so many resources. You don’t have to go the traditional route anymore. I would do some education because you need it, but I wouldn’t go overboard and think, If I go to school for three or four years, I’ll come out an entrepreneur. No, you can’t.

Part of being an entrepreneur is having the ability to take risks and having a burning passion in your heart to change the world, and if you’re ready to take the risk, you’re a real entrepreneur. If you want to go to business school and take the traditional route, you’re hedging your bets. I’m not against going to business school, but for most people it doesn’t make sense. It’s not the risky thing to do.

Undergrad is foundational, and my advice is always to do a degree in whatever field you’re excited about. But you do an MBA if you want to join an investment bank, not if you want to launch a lean startup.

Are you saying some people are just born entrepreneurs?

No. Anyone can become an entrepreneur. You’re not born an entrepreneur. You could have advantages depending on where you’re born, but you learn by doing. That’s the best thing. You can learn a lot of things in advance, but there is no experience quite like doing it.

What kinds of people make successful entrepreneurs?

In my research we documented that the average and median age of a tech entrepreneur is 39. There are twice as many entrepreneurs who are older than 50 than younger than 25. Age provides a distinct advantage. The young may be able to build some silly social media apps, but you need experience to achieve success. That’s what I documented, and it hasn’t changed. In Silicon Valley, you meet lots of people in their 40s, 50s and 60s. Facebook is a bunch of “old” people. Google is a bunch of “old” people. It’s an advantage to have already achieved success in life. Learning on the job is the most valuable thing in entrepreneurship.

12 Founders on the Business Advice They Are Most Thankful For

November 25, 2015

A strong entrepreneur knows that it’s impossible to achieve anything without support from people who believe in them and their vision. Anyone can provide help and mentorship, whether it be a friend, a family member, a teacher, an advisor or a fellow entrepreneur.

Related: 20 Quotes on the Importance of Thankfulness and Gratitude

While you want to show your appreciation all year round, this season is an especially good time to show thanks for the people who have given you their time and expertise.

We asked Techstars NYC‘s latest class of startup founders to share the advice that made the biggest impact on them in their journey as entrepreneurs.

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Orkun Atik

Image credit: Orkun Atik

Co-Founder and CEO of Mona 

“One of’s leadership principles stuck with me the most: ‘customer obsession.’ For start-ups, your knowledge of and engagement with underserved customers is the only sustainable competitive advantage. Whether you are prioritizing a new feature, running an A/B experiment or negotiating a contract, always start with the customer and work backwards. If you can structure your company culture, product and business model in a way that your goals are aligned with your customers, then you will create a company that your customers will love and that will work out really well for you in the long term.”

Adetayo Bamiduro

Image credit: Harambe Entrepreneur Alliance

Co-founder and CEO of Metro Africa Xpress

“Nail down your target market! This seems really simple, but it’s not. Your top priority is to achieve very clear understanding of a real world persona that finds your product irresistible. Until you do this, you’ll run in circles attempting to serve everyone that shows remote interest in your product, but really don’t value it.”

Jason L. Baptiste

Image credit: Sheena Kim

CEO of Morsel

“The business advice I’m thankful for is the following — be flexible and be focused.  Being focused allows you to strip away the things that you don’t need and concentrate on achieving what really matters.  Being flexible allows you to not lock yourself into what may not be the best way to achieve what really matters.

Sara Chipps

Image credit: Sara Chipps

CEO of Jewelbots

“The best business advice I’ve ever gotten was that the most effective managers serve the people that work for them. A manager’s (read: CEO’s) job is all about hiring people that are smarter than they are and enabling those people to do incredible things by getting any obstacles out of their way. This advice has served me well throughout my career and I really treasure being able to help people do amazing work.”

Danielle Cohen-Shohet

Image credit: Ernest Pang

CEO of GlossGenius

“Sell a service, not the features. People are not buying a drill for the sake of buying a drill; they’re buying it for the quarter-inch hole. Your customers want to know what your product can do for them, not just how it works. Build and sell something that’s going to do something for a user. Mike Perrone, a mentor and CEO of, gave me this advice.”

Nick Devane

Image credit: Gerardo Cid

CEO of Homemade

“My partner Mike Dee and I were struggling with some low-level operations questions, and took them to our dear friend and advisor Tobias Peggs who stopped us short and said, “What is your mission?” At the time this seemed trivial in comparison to what we were trying to figure out, but we stated it was “to create community through food.” Tobias then used our mission as a means of quickly showcasing how one of the paths better aligned with it. Since then, we use that same mission-based rhetoric to quickly evaluate tough decisions. Perhaps obvious, but when you’re in it it’s easy to get hung up on the minutia and forget about why you’re actually building stuff.”

Adrian Gradinaru

Image credit: Sailo Inc.

Founder and CEO of Sailo

“Focus, focus, focus on determining who your customers are and reaching them in meaningful ways.  I’m thankful to continuously receive this advice from our Techstars mentors. It’s tempting for a startup to address the mass market early because of its size, but that’s usually a critical mistake. Your product needs to first solve a real and immediate problem for a small but enthusiastic market segment before going mainstream.”

Cem Kozinoglu

Image credit: Bulent Shik

CEO and Founder of /Slash

“Alex Iskold, the Techstars NYC Program managing director, told us ‘Do less, faster.’ It is not about doing more things, it’s about doing less but doing them well – this advice has helped me a lot, personally and with my company.”

Romain Lapeyre

Image credit: Romain Lapeyre

CEO of Gorgias

“Get your customers engaged with your product as soon as possible. This will trim a lot of your false assumptions. Then focus on growth.”

Kevin O’Brien

Image credit: Kevin O’Brien

CEO and Co-Founder of GreatHorn

“The single best piece of advice I’ve ever received, especially as an entrepreneur is to do more faster. Time is your primary opposition when you’re building something new, as it aids the incumbent companies, products, and markets which you’re seeking to disrupt. Conversely, traction and adoption are evidence of both your ability to execute as well as validation that there are real people who will pay for what you’re building. Get something built, get it out to market, and learn — fast.”

Susannah Vila

Image credit: Yuxi Liu

Co-Founder & CEO of Flip

“I started working on my company in Steve Blank’s “Lean Launchpad” workshop, where I learned that it takes 10 times as much effort as you initially imagine to get the right amount of data on your customers. Anyone working on a startup should devote an hour a day to interviews for a few months, and spend the rest of their day describing their product to friends and acquaintances.”

Rahul Sidhu

Image credit: Akira Shimoda

CEO & Co-Founder of SPIDR Technologies

“Before we started this company and got into Techstars, I was meeting with several police departments around the country doing market research for several months. During that time, I met Skot Carruth, UX genius and product wizard. He told me that perfect product-market fit is about falling in love with a problem, not a solution. If you fall in love with a problem, the solution will eventually find you. If you fall in love with the solution, then you’ll never allow yourself to evolve and adapt when you need to.”

16-Step Blueprint to Master Your Digital Marketing in 2016

16-Step Blueprint to Master Your Digital Marketing in 2016

CEO of The Media Captain

Join us at Entrepreneur magazine’s Growth Conference, Dec. 15 in Long Beach, Calif. for a day of fresh ideas, business mentoring and networking. Register here for exclusive pricing, available only for a limited time.

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in 10 years.”

Entrepreneurs might politely disagree with the aforementioned quote from Bill Gates. There is a heck of a lot that you can accomplish in just 365 days, especially when you are sacrificing your weekend mornings or late evenings at the coffee shop pouring your heart and soul into your business.

What if I told you that you could make the year 2016 wildly successful for your business? I’m talking Taylor Swift successful – according to MSN, she raked in $1 million every day in 2015.

Just as a great novel needs a readership in order to be successful, your business needs a stellar marketing plan.

By implementing the 16-step digital marketing blueprint, your business can flourish this upcoming year.

1. Google AdWords

Have you started to bid on keywords related to the product you are selling or the service you are offering? Google now processes more than 40,000 search queries every second on average, which translates to more than 3.5 billion searches per day.

People are clearly looking up information on the search engine behemoth before making a purchasing decision. Bidding on the proper keywords targeted towards your demographic and region can drive instant new business, if executed properly.

2. Landing-Page Design 

According to Search Engine Land, only 25 percent of advertising accounts average above a 5 percent conversion rate. How do you break through the 10 percent barrier? The answer is custom landing pages.

Using a service like Unbounce, you can build, publish and launch A/B test landing pages without special I.T.

Search Engine Land states that to break into the top 10 percent of landing-page performance, you need to test 10 different landing pages to find one that really sticks. What are you waiting for?

3. Moz 

Are you curious why your competitor outranks you on Google and they are sitting on top of the first page while you are buried on page three?

Moz allows you to compare competitive metrics, such as domain authority.Domain Authority is a score (on a 100-point scale) developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engines.

Once you start to learn the reasons why your competition performs well on the major search engines, you can formulate a strategy for your business.

Related: How to Create a Killer Instagram Ad in Under 10 Minutes

4. Help a Reporter Out 

If you are looking for amazing and free publicity for your company, you need to sign up for HARO.

You will receive daily queries from reporters all over the country that are looking for quotes from business owners and entrepreneurs.

In order to be successful with HARO, you need to dedicate at least 20 minutes per day to respond to the queries and offer expertise within your field. If you think you can handle this, get ready for some awesome publicity, which will also be beneficial for your SEO.

5. Outreach

Become an expert within your industry by contributing content on well-known websites. This is a great way to drive referral traffic back to your site from readers, who are interested to learn about your insight.

Create a “dream list” of 10 websites you want to write content for. Make sure to send each of these 10 publications a compelling pitch that conveys what you will bring to the table by sharing your insight on their site.

6. Sidekick

Let’s say you reach out to a prospect through email and a couple of phone calls, but nobody gets back to you. Is it time to throw in the towel? Not so fast.

Sidekick, which is powered by HubSpot, tracks whether or not a recipient opens up your emails and clicks on any links inside.

Is this somewhat stalker-ish? Sure. But the bottom line is if you see a prospect open your proposal 10 times, you know they are interested! Sidekick can be a game changer for your business strategy, and they have a free package.

7. Postable

Another great way to close the door on prospects is to utilize Postable, which offers really nice cards mailed for you all over the Internet. They have a wide assortment of thank you cards that you can customize to reflect your brand image. The best part is each postcard typically costs less than $3.60 to ship and be delivered into your hot prospect’s actual mailbox.

Related: Dominate Facebook With This $5 Marketing Strategy

8. Display Remarketing

Have you ever wondered how the jeans you looked at on Nordstrom’s website magically appeared on your Facebook newsfeed 10 minutes later? This is called display remarketing, and it is a great way for you to follow up with website visitors who do not make a desired action on your website.

Display remarketing builds brand awareness and is a cheap way to get customers to come back to your website to convert. People will think you’re spending a lot of money on your advertising when your advertisement appears on, but little do they know that you’re only paying around $0.30 per click because of an awesome remarketing campaign!

9. Video Content

Online video advertising is on the verge of explosion. It seems that right now, only larger businesses with a substantial advertising budget are investing in video advertising, but this doesn’t have to be the case.

Facebook revealed that the number of videos posted to the platform per person in the U.S. has increased by 94 percent over the last year.

Homepage videos are shown to increase conversion rates by 20 percent or more, according to Adelie Studios.

You can implement video-remarketing ads to tell your brand’s story for you when visitors drop off your site.

All you need to do is schedule a three- to four-hour shoot and strategically script out the video content you are looking for. You can obtain amazing video content that can play a crucial part in your marketing strategy in 2016.

10. $5 Boosted Facebook Post

You can write the greatest novel in the world, but if nobody ends up reading your book, what purpose does it serve?

Rebecca Coleman, a social-marketing guru, conducted a case study on the $5 boosted Facebook post. The results? “Awesome,” Coleman said. “My post reach soared and I got a ton more comments, as well as a few shares. My advice: Every once in a while, it can be completely worth it to give Facebook $5.”

If you want to be seen in 2016 on Facebook, you will need to invest money into promoting your content. Otherwise, you’ll go unnoticed.

11. Instagram Advertising

Schedule a two-hour photo shoot for your business and show off your awesome pictures on Instagram for your target demographic to see.

Facebook (which owns Instagram) now offers advertising to businesses of all sizes, everywhere!

Follow these eight simple stepsto set-up a killer Instagram ad in under 10 minutes.

If you don’t want to spend money on advertising on Instagram and want to grow your following organically, make sure to ask local businesses to follow you and return the favor. You can create a network of local businesses and influencers elevating one another.

Related: How to Compete With a Billion-Dollar Business on Google

12. Email Marketing 

Are you sending out at least two emails per month for your business for marketing purposes?

According to Marketing Sherpa, 60 percen of marketers believe email marketing produces positive ROI.

Make an effort to collect more email addresses in 2016. From obtaining the email addresses from customers on your website to grabbing business cards at trade shows, the larger your email list and the more effort you make in sending out memorable messages, the more business you’ll get for very little cost.

13. Mobile Friendliness 

It’s official: Google says more searches now take place on mobile versus desktop.

Is your website mobile friendly? Do you have an easy way for site visitors to get in contact with your business when they visit your site on mobile? For instance, including your phone number at the very top of your mobile site is crucial for B2B businesses to increase their conversion count.

Are you tracking conversions that take place on mobile versus desktop? Make sure mobile becomes a focal point for your business in 2016.

14. Google Analytics

In 20 steps, you can master Google Analytics to understand the visitors coming to your website and make implementations to your online marketing strategy to convert those visitors better.

Dedicate at least 10 minutes per day to dig into GA to become an expert on the traffic coming to your site.

15. Online Reviews

Create an email template for your business to send out personalized messages to satisfied clients or customers.

Marketing Land says that 90 percent of customers’ buying decisions are influenced by online reviews.

Ensuring that that your Google+ and Yelp pages portray your company in a positive light will help generate more business for your company.

16. A vs. B Testing

You and your coworker could have different ideas on what piece of creative will perform the best for an advertisement that you’ll be running for the holiday season.

Rather than getting into an argument, why not run an A vs. B test to determine the winner?

Approximately 61 percent of companies carry out fewer than five A vs. B tests every month.

Make sure your business is on the forefront of the online frontier by running tests to generate more conversions and lower your cost per acquisition.

Related: How to Implement a Killer Online-Marketing Strategy for $15 a Week

4 Questions to Ask When Thinking of Thought Leadership

4 Questions to Ask When Thinking of Thought Leadership

Head of Strategy for NewsCred
Image credit: -DiMiTRi- | Flickr

Far too many people dismiss thought leadership as a buzzword devoid of real substance, which is unfortunate — because it’s not just a buzzword. But, what is it really? When should you consider using it, and how do you balance the talent and experience of your team with the humility and authenticity that today’s audiences demand?

Related: How Thought-Leadership Content Can Help Your Company Attract Funding

Let’s start by getting on the same page with these four questions:

1. What is thought leadership?

At its core, thought leadership is a type of content marketing where you tap into the talent, experience and passion inside your business, or from your community, to answer the biggest questions on the minds of your target audience on a particular topic.

The source is not as important as the content. Thought leadership doesn’t mean a big name from a big school, it means you provide the best and deepest answers to your customers’ biggest questions in the formats your audience likes to consume them.

Thought leadership is a key component of content marketing, but it’s important not to fall into the unique-point-of-view trap. I have heard more than a few executives delay betting on content marketing by focusing on the unique point of view. They say, “There is so much noise in the marketplace. We can only compete if our content is differentiated.”

Your audience isn’t looking for your content to be differentiated all of the time. They are just looking for the best answers to the questions. Or as Bryan Rhoads at Intel likes to say, “You have to win the internet every day.” Of course you want to differentiate your point of view when it’s appropriate. Differentiate with your visual design. But mostly, differentiate by becoming an authority and by helping your customers with different types of content, every single day.

We have to be careful with how we use the words thought leadership though.Wikipedia actually calls it business jargon and defines it as content that is recognized by others as innovative, covering trends and topics that influence an industry.

Related: 5 Steps to Becoming a Thought Leader in Your Industry

2. When should you consider a thought leadership approach?

One of the best ways to establish authority on your topic is to produce deep research on the subject. You have to present a depth of knowledge that no one else has.

You also have to define all of your customers challenges, and define the best ways to overcome them. Many brands think this is an opportunity to talk about their products and how they are better, but this isn’t an effective approach. As soon as you start promoting yourself, your audience will start to tune out, and you will lose the trust you worked so hard to build.

3. What are the benefits of thought leadership?

The benefits of thought leadership start with brand affinity. By communicating thought leadership, you become part of the conversation early in the consumer journey. You allow your audience to get to know you.

Ultimately, thought leadership is one of the outcomes of a solid content strategy. And content is bigger than marketing. Leaders are everywhere. Expose your thought leaders, and you begin the process of becoming a social business — real people with real faces talking to real customers and buyers.

4. How do you create thought leadership that drives results?

Identify a topic that is closely associated with your brand. Are you an authority on that topic. A simple Google search can help you answer that question. Often we find that brands are not just competing with their direct competitors. You are competing with everyone. Anyone who publishes content in your space is competing for mind share and authority.

You also need to identify the questions your customers are asking. Identify them all, make a list and prioritize them. Answer those questions across multiple formats and multiple channels in a way that adds value to your audience. Start with the most important and work your way down the list. Seek to be the best answer to those questions.

Finally, create your thought leadership content in an engaging way. Viral cat videos and listicles are great, but you shouldn’t dismiss any content types that your audience might be interested in. You need to educate them, but we are all human and none of us mind a little humor. Use lots of examples, facts and quotes. I love the idea of interviewing customers to create content or curating content from other sources while adding your own perspective.

Your audience is looking for help. Are you willing to give it to them? And tell me, what do you think? What does thought leadership mean to you?

Related: 6 Reasons Why ‘My Way or the Highway’ Management Doesn’t Work Anymore

The Four Word Strategic Plan

by Dharmash Shah

Posted by Dharmesh Shah on November 24, 2015 at

I’m going to tell you a secret. I have a very simple, 4-word strategic plan (devised it a few years ago).

Here it is…

Do fewer things, better.

This has made my life — and my work, dramatically better.

Here’s how I execute on my strategic plan:

1. Decide on what matters the most.

2. Say no to everything else.

3. When something falls in the gray area, re-read #2.

Of course, that’s easier to say than do. I fail at it all the time — but I’m getting better. Here are some tips learned from years of practice:

1. When making your list, start with a low-level of abstraction. Resist the temptation to make your list really “high-level”. As an extreme example, one of the things on your priority list shouldn’t be “Be successful”. That’s so broad, that you’d be able to rationalize almost every activity under the sun. Try to be specific enough that the number of things that “fit” is a manageable number. If you find yourself taking on too much (which you probably do), refine your filters and move to a lower-level of abstraction. I’ve written an article on this that you might find useful: “The Power of Focus and The Peril of Myopia”.

2. Forgive yourself for having to say “no” to things not on your “fewer things” list. Years ago, I wrote a blog post asking public forgiveness , you can see it here at Of all the articles I’ve ever written, that one has had the most positive impact on my life.

3. Remember that every time you say “no” to something you might have said “yes” to, it frees up time to focus on the things that matter. And the more time you spend on the things that matter, the better you get at them. Let me give you an example: Let’s say you say “no” to some project/request/idea that would have “only” taken a few hours a month, because it didn’t make the “few things that matter” list. And, let’s say that one of the things that matter to you is being able to better communicate your message to the world — via public speaking. Those few hours you “saved” can be spent on getting your message out. More speaking gigs, more people influenced. But wait! That’s not all! Not only are you able to do some more public speaking, because you’re going to spend more time on it, you’re going to get better at it. And, because you get better at it, you’re going to get more frequent speaking invites. With larger audiences. And have more influence once you’re on stage. You’re building leverage by getting better and better at the thing that matters. And, it’s amazing how much better you will get, once you decide on only a few things to get better at.

By the way, the reverse of this is true to: Everytime you say “yes” to something, you’re saying “no” to something else. Often, you’re saying “no” to something more important.

4. Fight the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) emotion. It’s a killer. We all have it to varying degrees. This fear that if we don’t say “yes” to something, we’re going to miss out on some big opportunity, small joy or new connection. Yes, sometimes you will miss out, but that’s OK. Life goes on. On average, you will be better off skipping some things, instead of trying to do too much.

More people fail from a gluttony of good activities than from being starved of them.
5. Be super-careful with recurring commitments. If you are going to occasionally say “yes” to things that are not on your “things that matter most” list, be super-careful that they’re not a recurring commitment. A one-time commitment of 4 hours is much less dangerous than a monthly hourly committment. The way I think about this: When I say “yes” to a recurring committment, I’m effectively saying “yes’ multiple times (for as long as I think I’m going to be in that committment). Which brings me to the next point…

6. As painful as it is, prune your prior committments. If you are like me (and apologies if you are), you’ve said yes to a few things that you now sort of regret. Get yourself out of those. Be respectful, be, be understanding and be fair — but be disciplined and true to yourself. And just because you committed to something last year with no real “expiration date” doesn’t mean you have to do it forever. Things change. On a related note: For things that don’t have an expiration date, remember that it’s going to be just as painful to prune later as it is now — why not give yourself the gift of some time back sooner?

7. Try to solve for outcome, not activity. Figure out what you want to happen (whether it be a commercial interest or a philanthropic one), and figure out how to best create impact. Usually, optimal outcomes are not achieved by saying “yes” to a bunch of “good” activities (however well-intentioned).

On the point of philanthropy, you might be wondering: “What about doing good, and giving back?”

Warning: My opinion here may be controversial for some.

First off, if you have the ability to give back, you should do so. No doubt. But the question is, how do you optimimize for outcome?

Let me explain with a personal example. I’m an entrepreneur. Have been for most of my professional career. I LOVE STARTUPS. THEY BRING ME GREAT JOY. I’m one of the co-founders of HubSpot (NYSE:HUBS). I’m also a big fan of Boston and want to see the Boston startup ecosystem grow and thrive.

But a few years ago, I decided to dramatically limit the time I spend directly helping the Boston ecosystem.

Why would I do this? Isn’t that selfish? Yes, it is.

The reason I made this decision was that I felt the best way for me to help the startup ecosystem — was to do my best to help make HubSpot a super-successful company. The by-product of that success will be much greater than what I’d get if I were just directly trying to help a handful of startups.

So far, HubSpot has had some modest success. We are a publicly traded now and have 1,000+ people working at the company. We have many that have “graduated” HubSpot and gone off to start their own companies. Even more are taking the things they learned and applying them to other companies. We’ve also made a bunch of people money (several of whom are channeling some of that back into to the ecosystem by way of angel investing). We’ve helped pull talent in from around the world — and keep some of our star talent in the Boston area. We’ve improved Boston’s “brand” as being a place where big tech companies can be built (which helps pull in more capital, talent and interest). All in, I’d say we’re a net positive.

But, fact remains that instead of being a mentor/advisor/mensch — I’ve sort of been a schmuck. I’ve said “no” to just about everything unless it helped HubSpot. And remember, I LOVE STARTUPS. I love helping them. I love the thrill, joy and fulfillment. But, I said “no” anyways. And, I may be rationalizing here — but I think I’ve likely done more for the ecosystem than if I had simply gone to more events, tried to pick a handful of startups to be an advisor/mentor for, etc.

This section got much longer than I planned for it to be. I have a whole other article in draft-mode titled “The Surgeon In The Soup Kitchen”. I’ll give you the abridged message of that post:

Don’t favor what feels the most good. Favor what does the most good.

Thankfully, blogging is a high-leverage activity. And, since I’m using HubSpot to write/promote/track this article, it helps HubSpot too. So, I can rationalize this into my “fewer things” list (but only every now and then).

Cheers, and best wishes with your “fewer things”.


Freelancing Tech – Links to Get You Started

If you’re seeking a flexible, fun and potentially profitable career in tech these links may serve you well.

Advice on finding your niche–fsw-30751

Advice on buying domain names

How to choose a Twitter username

Tips on building your Twitter following

A great HTML and CSS primer

A solid introduction to constructing great websites

17 freelance websites – a great comparison

Introductory guide to freelance sites

Creating a great profile

Advice on bidding for freelance work

Sources Of ideas

Still not got anything? Here’s a few places you can look online for ideas:

Rob Walling’s Start Small Stay Small – it’s full of hard-earned advice on launching your own business. Rob also co-hosts the excellent Startups For The Rest Of Us podcast.

Business idea guides (UK) (US)

Solve problems don’t build ideas

Places to post your startup

Stock Photo Source

Examples of great landing pages

A Practical Guide To Web App Success by Dan Zambonini

Finding app ideas

Richard Branson on building the perfect app

Marketing your app

Designing a great app

Marketplaces to sell your scripts

Popular marketplace for buying and selling websites, domains and business.

8 Ways to Motivate Employees Into an Unstoppable Team

8 Ways to Motivate Employees Into an Unstoppable Team

President of Jane Wesman Public Relations

Motivating employees and helping them do the best job possible takes time and experience. But as  a business owner, there is nothing more rewarding than helping other people — as well as yourself — work to their fullest potential. The keys to being a good motivator are: clear communication, training, and appreciation. If you use the following tactics, you will become a better leader.

1. Communicate.

Make sure that your employees know exactly what you expect of them. Describe the job and your expectations before hiring, and then reiterate these expectations on a regular basis. With a new employee, this may be a daily necessity. Later, it can be done less often. Never be vague or generalize. Always be direct. Employees want to know exactly what you expect of them.

2. Train.

Take the time to train your employees in your methods and way of doing business. Create a training process that is replicable.  It may be time consuming at first, but it will pay off. And be flexible. No matter how long you think it will take to train someone, it often takes longer, even with experienced employees.

Related: ‘Gamified’ Employee Training Works Brilliantly but Is Loved Little

3. Assume people want to do a good job.

Nobody on your team is making mistakes because they think it’s fun, want to spite you or make the company lose money. I’ve seen entrepreneurs become livid over an employee’s simple mistake, as if the employee did something wrong on purpose. Don’t take an employee’s mistakes personally.

4. Show employees you appreciate their contributions.

Employees should feel that what they’re doing is important to you and makes a difference to the company. This means everyone, including the person at the front desk, needs to know that the way he or she deals with people on the telephone, by email or when they visit the office is vital to establishing a courteous and professional image for the company. Everyone counts.

5. Create an efficient, attractive, comfortable workplace.

Consider your employees’ health, time and happiness when buying furnishings and equipment. Don’t skimp on what will make someone’s job easier, whether it’s about replacing a copier machine or a computer. Don’t forget their comfort. No one wants to work in a cold or stifling office. Make sure the heating and air conditioning work properly.

Create an attractive workplace that gives employees a sense of pride. I’ve found that painting office walls bright colors, instead of boring gray or beige, increases energy levels. Buying attractive furniture, whether it’s from IKEA or a top designer, gives employees a sense of pride. They tend to keep their workspaces neater and thus find it easier to be productive.

Related: How Much Is the Noise in Your Open Office Costing You?

6. Banish fear.

Encourage employees to ask questions and make suggestions. Listen to their ideas. Implement the ones that make sense, improve productivity, increase sales or add to a general sense of well-being in the work environment. Make sure they feel comfortable telling you early on whether they are having problems getting the job done. You want to have as much time as possible to work with them to find solutions.

7. Lead by The Golden Rule

If in doubt about how to treat an employee, ask yourself, “Is this the way I would like to be treated?” Create the kind of workplace where you would like to work. Sometimes that’s difficult to do in today’s fast-paced, constantly changing environment. When the going gets rough, take a deep breath and a minute to reflect. Put yourself in your employee’s shoes. Think about the bigger, long-term picture. Treating your employees well is always the best option.

8. Share the excitement.

Let employees know when things are going well. Don’t keep them in the dark when there are problems. There’s no reason to notify them about every glitch or setback, but you can tell them when cash flow is tight and you need their help keeping expenses down. Celebrate each meaningful success, even the small ones, with something as simple as ordering a couple of pizzas (or whatever your team likes to eat). Praise an employee publicly, so that everyone knows that you mean it.

Sharing the excitement goes a long way to keeping employees engaged and happy.

Related: Celebrate the Little Successes as a Salve Against the Bruises of Entrepreneurship and Parenthood

5 Traits That Distinguish Serial Entrepreneurs

5 Traits That Distinguish Serial Entrepreneurs

Former Journalist, Current PR Guy (wielding an MBA)
Image credit: Pexels

Entrepreneurs are a rarity. Just over 1-in-10 adults within the U.S.. engage in entrepreneurial activities.

That low number is not a surprise in light of the complex array of challenges that entrepreneurs face. According to a joint study last year by the University of Michigan and Stanford University, more than 70 percent of entrepreneurs who launch a failed venture do not try again. The vast majority of entrepreneurs researched adopted a “one-and-done” mentality in the face of failure.

However, the same study identified an elite subset of entrepreneurs — serial entrepreneurs — comprising 29 percent of those researched who went on to launch other ventures with great success.

Marc Preston is just such an entrepreneur.

He’s had dozens of money-making ventures over the past two decades and sevenstand-alone companies ranging from web design, mobile apps, hardware andsoftware development to retail storefronts.

“I have profitable business ideas that offer something new under the sun, every single day. In fact, we have six or seven viable business concepts in our pipeline that are in early stages but are already in motion,” said Preston.

Preston has several colleagues and friends who are also serial entrepreneurs. He identifies the following five traits that they all exhibit.

1. Time management.

The single most valuable asset for each of us is our time because it’s the only asset that can’t be renewed. As a result of that fact, Preston stresses the need for aggressive, intentional time management for anyone who wants to be a serial entrepreneur.

“Where you’re directing your time is critical. How much you spend on email or getting lost on time-consuming projects that should be outsourced or delegated to employees — that’s the single most important factor in the success of every serial entrepreneur I know, including me,” said Preston.

Related: Why You Should Never Start Just One Business

2. Drive to scale.

Serial entrepreneurs have the ability to quickly advance a business through the start-up phase into a sustainable growth trajectory.

“You can’t continue to develop new businesses or ideas as a serial entrepreneur if you’re unable to scale those businesses quickly, which enables you to move on to the next project or idea. That’s a key difference between repeat entrepreneurs and a typical person in business,” he said.

3. Strategic relationships.

Preston stresses that not only do serial entrepreneurs need a strong team of advisors, partners and employees, they also must develop other strategic relationships where they give to others.

“I believe that someone in a serial entrepreneurial role needs to be mentoring someone else’s business for free. I’ve helped several other individuals pro bono because I’ve received mentoring along my path, which was invaluable. It’s important to pass that on and help fuel the entrepreneurial fire in others,” he said.

Related: 7 Ways Successful and Fulfilled People Think Differently

4. Insatiable curiosity.

Another factor that distinguishes serial entrepreneurs from other business executives is an inherent drive to ask questions, seek out new information and connect ideas, all of which can be summed up in the word “curiosity.”

“I’ll read physics papers, technology manuals — I’ll read all kinds of things — and there’s an ‘ah ha’ moment where there will be a connection I’ve never seen before. Ironically, many of those connections and my ideas are generated when I’m sleeping. I tend to have those ‘ah ha’ moments in dreams where I’ll wake up with new ideas and insights. You have to be ready to capture those moments when they happen,” said Preston.

5. Know when to move on.

Dogged determination and perseverance are part of the entrepreneurial DNA, but Preston says it’s equally important for a serial entrepreneur to recognize when a project is not working and moving on to the next thing.

“The key is to identify failure fast and then let it go. Many entrepreneurs hold on too tightly to a misguided idea or project that exhausts them as well as their resources. It’s important to know when to cut your losses. I know exactly what it’s like to fight for a project while trying to drag it from the brink of failure. But what I’ve learned is that once it’s clear something is failing, it’s much better to just be done with it and move on within 24 hours,” he said.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Preston’s business philosophy is what he doesn’t do as a serial entrepreneur. He eschews business plans and describes them as a “cumbersome inconvenience” when trying to quickly scale a business.

“It’s been my experience that it’s more beneficial to identify the problem customers have, develop the solution and then hit the ground running as fast as you can,” said Preston. “At that point, a 70-page business plan with projections for 2017 isn’t going to help you. For serial entrepreneurs like me, executing and delivering results are what matter most.”

Related: 4 Attributes of the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs