How to Stop Your Boss from Owning Your Side Hustle
How to Stop Your Boss from Owning Your Side Hustle

Without taking the proper precautions, your boss could end up owning the startup you worked so hard to build.

The Secret Side Hustle

I arrived in Las Vegas at 7 AM for a 9 AM meeting at a client’s office. This client was not a client of mine–it was a client of my employer’s. And at the time I was building my own consulting and public relations firm on the side, which meant I had my own clients.

This particular morning, I had a web conference at 8 AM for one of my clients, before the scheduled meeting with my employer’s client at 9 AM. I rushed through the Las Vegas airport to the rental car shuttle, got my car, and coasted into the closest Starbucks 2 minutes before my conference started.

I finished that web conference, then rushed to my next meeting. I arrived sweaty, disheveled, and had the look of a man keeping a secret.

The secret of the side hustle.

Many a business is born out of the side hustle. Henry Ford tinkered on his automobiles while working for the Edison Electric Company. Of course, some bosses are more encouraging of side hustles than others. When they met, Edison encouraged Ford to continue working on his automobiles, and the two men later became friends and admirers of one another.

Of course, that’s not often the case. Many bosses are not overly thrilled at the idea of their employees working on a side hustle, and many employment agreements include a wide variety of clauses and conditions that theoretically prevent employees from starting a business on the side.

I was treading on dangerous ground, in more than just the obvious ways. Though I hadn’t stolen any clients, I knew I was flirting with violating the non-compete clause in my employment agreement.

What I didn’t know is that under certain circumstances, your boss can end up owning your side hustle.

Yes, it’s true.

The very same tyrannical boss who may be your primary motivation for starting a side hustle can actually end up owning the result of your hard work.

How does that happen? According to Startup Legal TV, a legally focused content platform for start-ups founded by a team of attorneys, your boss may end up owning the rights to your side hustle if you fail to understand the specific conditions of your employment agreement, use company property or time to work on your start-up, or use company intellectual property as a basis for your start-up’s product or services.

Of course, every situation is a little different, but if you are working on a side hustle, don’t use company property or time, and (obviously) don’t steal intellectual property. If you do any of those things you risk:

A. Being sued.

B. Burning a bridge with a prior employer (and good relationships with prior employers can be incredibly important to your startup).

C. Losing the rights to your startup.

Personally, I have three kids, a mortgage, two car payments, and roughly 31,000 cell phone plans in my house. And growing children require an incredible number of nutrients, making Ramen profitability a non-option. I had to start my business as a side hustle.

A lot of entrepreneurs are in the same boat.

The side hustle boat.

Just make sure you do the right things–or more accurately, make sure you don’t do the wrong things–or your boat might sink.

Or end up belonging to someone else.

 

Written by:

DUSTIN MCKISSEN

 

7 Powerful Lessons Kids Can Teach Us About Entrepreneurship
7 Powerful Lessons Kids Can Teach Us About Entrepreneurship
Our Babies
The Burke Kids

“When you fall off your bike, the best thing you can do is get back on.”

Little gems like this are so familiar to each of us. These life lessons are passed down from generation to generation, and I bet every parent today has found themselves doing their part to pass these truisms on to today’s generation.

There is so much to teach our children, but for Julie Burleson, founder and CEO of Young Chefs Academy, the lessons that resound with her most are those that her own children have taught her. There are big lessons, including unconditional love, patience, selflessness, and sacrifice. There are also the many smaller lessons we learn from our children that can be applied to entrepreneurship.

I asked Burleson for tips on starting a business, and she said it’s a lot like starting a family. Here are seven of the most powerful lessons she has learned along the way.

1. Schedule important meetings during your happy time

As a new parent, Burleson learned that the best time to schedule family portraits or doctor visits was during the kids’ “happy time.” The lesson is the same for her. Says Burleson, “If I have a meeting where I’m pitching an idea to a potential partner or discussing the advantages of becoming a franchisee, I schedule it in the morning after my second cup of coffee. At this point in the day, my zest and passion for my business is not clouded by my lack of latte.”

2. Surround yourself with a strong support team outside of your business

You have to feel safe before you can leap with joy into the unknown.You can truly enjoy the thrill of jumping into a new venture because of your safety net of family and friends. They will always be there to catch you and tell you to get back on that bike if you fall.

3. Passion is what drives the entrepreneur, and business suffers without it

Entrepreneurs are extremely passionate and motivated. If you find yourself at a loss for words when someone asks you about your business, perhaps that’s your clue that it’s time to let someone else take the lead so you can move on to your next dream.

4. You can’t transfer your own passion on to someone else

Your business team needs people with skills that complement each other, but most important, you need to surround yourself with people who are as passionate about your mission as you are.

5. Desperation cannot override passion as a motivator

Burleson recalls the time when her daughter was supposed to present her History Fair project, and she put off working on the project until the last minute. The result: fear, angst, and a less-than-stellar presentation. Good entrepreneurs know when their “burn rate” is running faster than their business. The startup capital is running low. Sales aren’t covering costs and desperation starts to set in. Whether it’s securing funding or adjusting overhead costs, the situation must be addressed before it becomes a problem.

6. Everyone needs a supportive mentor

Many times it’s not mom or dad, but that special teacher, scout leader or auntie – someone the child has grown to trust and admire. The more mentors a child has, the greater chance he or she has for success in life. Every entrepreneur needs that special person who will lift them out of the darkness when self-doubt sets in.

7. Laughter is the best medicine

If you find yourself facing what seems like an insurmountable challenge, nothing helps more than having a laugh with family, friends or co-workers. A good laugh reminds us what is important, and that all problems become distant memories sooner or later.

 

By: Peter Economy

How Successful People Handle Toxic People
How Successful People Handle Toxic People
Knowing how to handle toxic people is instrumental to your success at work and in life.
Knowing how to handle toxic people is instrumental to your success at work and in life.

Toxic people defy logic. Some are blissfully unaware of the negative impact that they have on those around them, and others seem to derive satisfaction from creating chaos and pushing other people’s buttons. Either way, they create unnecessary complexity, strife, and, worst of all, stress.

Studies have long shown that stress can have a lasting, negative impact on the brain. Exposure to even a few days of stress compromises the effectiveness of neurons in the hippocampus–an important brain area responsible for reasoning and memory. Weeks of stress cause reversible damage to neuronal dendrites (the small “arms” that brain cells use to communicate with each other), and months of stress can permanently destroy neurons. Stress is a formidable threat to your success–when stress gets out of control, your brain and your performance suffer.

Most sources of stress at work are easy to identify. If your nonprofit is working to land a grant that your organization needs to function, you’re bound to feel stress and likely know how to manage it. It’s the unexpected sources of stress, those that take you by surprise, that harm you the most.

Recent research from the department of biological and clinical psychology at Friedrich Schiller University in Germany found that exposure to stimuli that cause strong negative emotions–the same kind of exposure you get when dealing with toxic people–caused subjects’ brains to have a massive stress response. Whether it’s their negativity, cruelty, the victim syndrome, or just plain craziness, toxic people drive your brain into a stressed-out state that should be avoided at all costs.

The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90 percent of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control. One of their greatest gifts is the ability to neutralize toxic people. Top performers have well-honed coping strategies that they employ to keep toxic people at bay.

To deal with toxic people effectively, you need an approach that enables you, across the board, to control what you can and eliminate what you can’t. The important thing to remember is that you are in control of far more than you realize.

While I’ve run across numerous effective strategies that successful people employ when dealing with toxic people, what follows are 12 of the best.

1. They set limits (especially with complainers).

Complainers and negative people are bad news because they wallow in their problems and fail to focus on solutions. They want people to join their pity party so that they can feel better about themselves. People often feel pressure to listen to complainers because they don’t want to be seen as callous or rude, but there’s a fine line between lending a sympathetic ear and getting sucked into a negative emotional spiral.

You can avoid this only by setting limits and distancing yourself when necessary. Think of it this way: If the complainer were smoking, would you sit there all afternoon inhaling the second-hand smoke? You’d distance yourself, and you should do the same with complainers. A great way to set limits is to ask complainers how they intend to fix the problem. They will either quiet down or redirect the conversation in a productive direction.

2. They don’t die in the fight.

Successful people know how important it is to live to fight another day, especially when your foe is a toxic individual. In conflict, unchecked emotion makes you dig your heels in and fight the kind of battle that can leave you severely damaged. When you read and respond to your emotions, you’re able to choose your battles wisely and stand your ground only when the time is right.

3. They rise above.

Toxic people drive you crazy because their behavior is so irrational. Make no mistake about it–their behavior truly goes against reason. So why do you allow yourself to respond to them emotionally and get sucked into the mix?

The more irrational and off-base someone is, the easier it should be for you to remove yourself from his or her traps. Quit trying to beat toxic people at their own game. Distance yourself from them emotionally and interact with them as if they were a science project (or you were their shrink, if you prefer the analogy). You don’t need to respond to the emotional chaos, but only to the facts.

4. They stay aware of their emotions.

Maintaining an emotional distance requires awareness. You can’t stop someone from pushing your buttons if you don’t recognize when it’s happening. Sometimes you’ll find yourself in situations where you’ll need to regroup and choose the best way forward. This is fine, and you shouldn’t be afraid to buy yourself some time to do so.

Think of it this way: If a mentally unstable person approaches you on the street and tells you he’s John F. Kennedy, you’re unlikely to set him straight. When you find yourself with a co-worker who is engaged in similarly derailed thinking, sometimes it’s best to just smile and nod. If you’re going to have to straighten him out, it’s better to give yourself some time to plan the best way to go about it.

5. They establish boundaries.

This is the area where most people tend to sell themselves short. They feel like because they work or live with someone, they have no way to control the chaos. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Once you’ve found your way to rise above a person, you’ll begin to find his or her behavior more predictable and easier to understand. This will equip you to think rationally about when and where you have to put up with toxic people and when you don’t. For example, even if you work with someone closely on a project team, that doesn’t mean that you need to have the same level of one-on-one interaction with this person that you have with other team members.

You can establish a boundary, but you’ll have to do so consciously and proactively. If you let things happen naturally, you are bound to find yourself constantly embroiled in difficult conversations. If you set boundaries and decide when and where you’ll engage a difficult person, you can control much of the chaos. The only trick is to stick to your guns and keep boundaries in place when the person tries to encroach upon them, which will inevitably happen.

6. They won’t let anyone limit their joy.

When your sense of pleasure and satisfaction are derived from the opinions of other people, you are no longer the master of your own happiness. When emotionally intelligent people feel good about something they’ve done, they won’t let anyone’s opinions or snide remarks take that away from them.

While it’s impossible to turn off your reactions to what others think of you, you don’t have to compare yourself to others, and you can always take people’s opinions with a grain of salt. That way, no matter what toxic people are thinking or doing, your self-worth comes from within. Regardless of what people think of you at any particular moment, one thing is certain–you’re never as good or as bad as they say you are.

7. They don’t focus on problems–only solutions.

Where you focus your attention determines your emotional state. When you fixate on the problems you’re facing, you create and prolong negative emotions and stress. When you focus on actions to better yourself and your circumstances, you create a sense of personal efficacy that produces positive emotions and reduces stress.

When it comes to toxic people, fixating on how crazy and difficult they are gives them power over you. Quit thinking about how troubling your difficult person is, and focus instead on how you’re going to go about handling him. This makes you more effective by putting you in control, and it will reduce the amount of stress you experience when interacting with him.

8. They don’t forget.

Emotionally intelligent people are quick to forgive, but that doesn’t mean they forget. Forgiveness requires letting go of what’s happened so that you can move on. It doesn’t mean you’ll give a wrongdoer another chance. Successful people are unwilling to be bogged down unnecessarily by others’ mistakes, so they let them go quickly and are assertive in protecting themselves from future harm.

9. They squash negative self-talk.

Sometimes you absorb the negativity of other people. There’s nothing wrong with feeling bad about how someone is treating you, but your self-talk (the thoughts you have about your feelings) can either intensify the negativity or help you move past it. Negative self-talk is unrealistic, unnecessary, and self-defeating. It sends you into a downward emotional spiral that is difficult to pull out of. You should avoid negative self-talk at all costs.

10. They limit their caffeine intake.

Drinking caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline. Adrenaline is the source of the fight-or-flight response, a survival mechanism that forces you to stand up and fight or run for the hills when faced with a threat. The fight-or-flight mechanism sidesteps rational thinking in favor of a faster response. This is great when a bear is chasing you, but not so great when you’re surprised in the hallway by an angry co-worker.

11. They get some sleep.

I’ve beaten this one to death over the years, but I can’t say enough about the importance of sleep to increasing your emotional intelligence and managing your stress levels. When you sleep, your brain recharges, shuffling through the day’s memories and storing or discarding them (which causes dreams), so that you wake up alert and clear-headed. Your self-control, attention, and memory are all reduced when you don’t get enough–or the right kind–of sleep. Sleep deprivation raises stress hormone levels on its own, even without a stressor present.

A good night’s sleep makes you more positive, creative, and proactive in your approach to toxic people, giving you the perspective you need to deal effectively with them.

12. They use their support system.

It’s tempting, yet entirely ineffective, to try to tackle everything by yourself. To deal with toxic people, you need to recognize the weaknesses in your approach to them. This means tapping into your support system to gain perspective on a challenging person. We all have someone at work and/or outside work who is on our team, rooting for us, and ready to help us make the best of a difficult situation. Identify these individuals in your life and make an effort to seek their insight and assistance when you need it. Something as simple as explaining the situation can lead to a new perspective. Most of the time, other people can see a solution that you can’t, because they are not as emotionally invested in the situation.

Bringing it all together

Before you get this system to work brilliantly, you’re going to have to pass some tests. Most of the time, you will find yourself tested by touchy interactions with problem people. Thankfully, the plasticity of the brain allows it to mold and change as you practice new behaviors, even when you fail. Implementing these healthy, stress-relieving techniques for dealing with difficult people will train your brain to handle stress more effectively and decrease the likelihood of ill effects.

I always love to hear new strategies for dealing with toxic people, so please feel free to share yours in the comments section below.

 

by: Travis Bradberry Author, ‘Emotional Intelligence 2.0’

The 5 Myths About Entrepreneurship
The 5 Myths About Entrepreneurship

Myths Vs. Facts

 

As people are trying to navigate away from the “corporate jungle” towards the land of supposed “entrepreneurial utopia,” a lot of misconceptions arise.  Perhaps this has to do with the media, advice they have received or what is heard through the grapevine but often these insights can derail a person from taking the plunge in the startup world. Or cause them to jump on the entrepreneurial bandwagon, when they have no business doing so.

Here are the five main myths I have learned about entrepreneurship.

1. If my product or service is good, I’ll be successful. Not necessarily.

For me, this has been a perplexing (and frustrating) enigma in many ways.  As someone starting a corporate-training business in 2003, I knew I was great at what I did. I made the erroneous assumption that if I was a great trainer with great content, I’d similarly be rewarded in the marketplace with plenty of work and clients. My first few years as a corporate trainer disproved this myth and humbled me at the same time.  Yes, I got tons of feedback that my workshops were amazing, and I was a wonderful instructor but that did not automatically translate into new clients and more work.  Here are a few reasons:

  1. Providing a great service or product and figuring out how to market it are different animals.  I proved to be a great trainer and less than mediocre marketer for sure.
  2. Relationships and connections can make a huge difference particularly early on when you haven’t built a brand yet and need someone to give you a break. (Unfortunately, my connections were few and far between.)
  3. It’s easy to overestimate the demand for your services.  When I estimated potential revenue, I tended to focus on how strong my training was and tended to neglect pesky details like the pending surge of online training (i.e. emerging competitors and shifts in your industry), lack of access to decision makers and economic downturns that might impact client ability to pay.

2. Entrepreneurship will give me back complete control over my schedule. Well, yes and no. While founders may not have to punch a time clock, they often slave away the first few years — logging hours that easily surpass those from their “corporate jungle” days.

Yes, many who dove into entrepreneurship are passionate about their mission and love what they do, so working long hours may be fine for them.  But just beware of the myth that entrepreneurs don’t have a tight, even strict schedule to make and maintain a successful business. That just isn’t the case.

While it’s true entrepreneurs don’t have a “boss” in the traditional sense, they are still being held accountable every day — whether it’s to clients, potential clients, partners or other stakeholders.

While I have garnered the ability to have much more control over my schedule in recent years, I still typically schedule key meetings and events around my clients’ availability.

3. Never give away your product or service: It’ll dilute your brand. Not always true. Early on in an entrepreneurial venture there may indeed be strategic opportunities for providing product or service pro bono.  Sometimes, the value of getting in front of your target audience to showcase your abilities or products can outweigh the opportunity cost of the missed revenue.  (There’s a reason why major consumer product companies use sampling as a marketing strategy — it works!)  That said, any time you’re providing a product or service for free or at cost, you must be careful not to have an overall deleterious impact to your bottom line.

My advice is provide them a customized version that truly is a “sample,” so that potential clients don’t devalue your service. For instance, if you’re a massage therapist offer a 15 minute sample session or if you’re an executive coach, offer an initial free assessment. If you do go down this sample route, be sure it’s an opportunity for people to get a true sense of what they’d be purchasing when they become a paying customer.

4. Early on, I need to do it all myself. Maybe, maybe not. If you’re starting with limited capital you’ll need to roll up your sleeves and wear many hats.  However, it often becomes more cost-time effective to outsource key functions in areas you aren’t an expert in, the function is critical to your business’ success and/or the costs to outsource are minimal.  For example, if you know that your business needs a sophisticated website, it’s risky to anoint yourself your own IT director if you can’t spell java much less use it. If you wouldn’t hire you to do the work, you should probably hire someone else. Focus your energy in areas where you have particular expertise and require your personal attention (i.e. defining your offerings and building relationships with clients).

5. The more clients, the better. Not really. Again, early on it’s tempting to take on any client that shows interest but spreading yourself too thin can be risky.  I’ve seen young entrepreneurs twist themselves into a pretzel trying to offer different services to different clients, as they try to appease everyone and capture as much potential business as possible.  The danger is that when don’t clearly define your products or services, you can lose focus and confuse the marketplace on your areas of expertise.

Also, let’s face it: All clients aren’t good ones.  Some are extremely high maintenance, unrealistic, unreliable or price hagglers. You definitely want to be selective enough to weed out clients that may become more of a problem than they’re worth.

Another mistake entrepreneurs make is taking on too many clients too soon. By trying to jungle too many responsibilites, you could end up decreasing your credibility, quality and overall brand, which could have longer-term consequences.

7 Surprising Ways to Get Super Motivated Right Now
7 Surprising Ways to Get Super Motivated Right Now
Sometimes you need a push to really get yourself going. These unusual tips should help.
Sometimes you need a push to really get yourself going. These unusual tips should help.

There are some days where it can be really tough to get going. Perhaps the weekend took a lot out of you, or the week ahead is intimidating. I know when I lose my motivation to work I can find just about every form of procrastination known to man.

Of course, lying around like a slug is unproductive and very unattractive. When there is plenty of work to do and people who depend on the whole team performing, you have got to find a way to get up to speed. Here are the seven ways I get myself out of the funk and moving forward again.

1. Start something new and meaningful

If nothing I’m working on is appealing enough to start the momentum, I look for anew project to spark some energy. It can’t be a just a simple distraction. This project needs to be relevant to the work at hand. Just the act of getting moving on something will create valuable momentum.

2. Shut off the world

So often I allow distraction to get in the way of wanting to do anything. Then I rationalize email, Web surfing, or TV as productive or motivational when I know they really aren’t either. At some point, you just have to shut off all the noise and focus on the tasks at hand. At most, I turn on music to encourage some rhythm.

3. Revisit your preferred future

Procrastination is about the here and now. True motivation comes from the promise of the future to be. If you have designed a clear vision of your desired destiny, reengage with that powerful possibility. Commit mind and body to the goals that energize you and get things moving in the right direction.

4. Set up rewards

No doubt there is something you’ve been wanting. Perhaps it’s that one present that didn’t get left under the tree or in your stocking. Make yourself the promise of a reward if you get certain key initiatives accomplished in a reasonable time-frame. Once you get the momentum going, the regular motivation will kick in.

5. Get someone to hold you accountable

Sometimes if I can’t get going on my own, I will enlist the support of my spouse or a friend. This requires a little discipline, since engaging the wrong friend can simply provide additional distraction and engaging my spouse can potentially ruffle some feathers. The key is to instruct that spouse/friend to help you, not get in the way. A good spouse/friend will know just which buttons to push to get you started. Or better yet, they may know which embarrassing info to release on Facebook if you don’t get moving again. LOL

6. Challenge yourself to beat the clock

Time is a powerful metronome. Often when I struggle with motivation, I use the power of the pendulum. I set myself small tasks in specific, small time increments. Getting the first few completions triggers good feelings that make me want more. Set up three or four 10 minute tasks and drive for the finish.

7. As a last resort, caffeinate

Personally, I strive to stay as mood-enhancer-free as possible, but when I can’t seem to find the will any other way, I will turn to coffee. The stimulant creates energy that must be spent, so I buckle down and find a useful channel. Sometimes you just need better living through chemicals.

4 Ways to Deal With the Fear of Failure
4 Ways to Deal With the Fear of Failure

negotiations-raw-fear-cover-image

You can’t succeed without failing first. Apply the following to get over the fear of failure.

Every entrepreneur deals with the fear of failure.

Fear is a problem, because it can damage everything in life. It ruins your productivity, destroys your dreams, and keeps you from building the business you’re trying to build. Fear robs life of its joy.

Entrepreneurs are audacious people–forming businesses ex nihilo, disrupting industries, transforming conventions, shaping cultures, and improving lives. We grit our teeth, muster our powers, focus our minds, and make stuff happen.

And sometimes, we’re afraid.

In order to do something big, you have to overcome something big. One of the biggest things to overcome is fear. Fear isn’t a business problem. You can’t solve it by spending more money, working harder, buying software, or delegating it.

You’ve got to deal with it in other ways. Here are four principles that I’ve discovered for helping me deal with the fear of failure.

Accept that failure will happen.

We fear the unknown. Is this business going to go bankrupt or succeed? Will I burn out, or stay alive? Will I lose a million bucks (been there), or make a million bucks?

To deal with fear, let’s get the unknown factor out of the way. Here’s how: Realize that you are going to fail.

We need to readjust our view of “failure.” We tend to think that failure is a bad thing, but that’s simply not true.

“Failure” is a matter of perspective. You may have “failed” at starting a company or gaining funding, but look at what you’ve gained. You’re one step closer to success. You’ve learned valuable lessons. You’re that much more experienced and knowledgeable.

That sounds to me like a step towards success.

Thomas Edison said, “I failed my way to success.” A pile of failures can turn into a mountain of success, so go ahead and fail. Better yet, fail as fast and as early as you can. Failure is temporary, but success is permanent.

Rather than turn and run from failure, run towards it. You’re not running towards disaster, you’re running towards success.

Find the true cause of your fear, and solve it.

When we fear failure, we’re at a crucial point of development. We’re admitting to ourselves that something is bigger than we are. In this case, it’s our fear.

Take a step back mentally, and ask this question: “What am I really afraid of?” “Failure” is not clear enough. There’s something more, something concrete.

Keep thinking, and find the big monsters that are freaking you out:

  • “I’m afraid that we won’t be able to get enough funding.”
  • “I’m afraid that I’ll screw up my SEO.”
  • “I’m afraid that the developers won’t meet production deadlines”
  • “I’m afraid that my mailing list isn’t big enough.”
  • “I’m afraid that my content marketing is crap.”

Okay, that’s better. Now you’ve distilled your fears to actual objective, concrete challenges.

What do you do now? You can either solve it on your own or ask for help. The biggest gain is boiling down the hairy problem of “fear” into a few scary objects.

This may take a few tries. Once you understand why you’re afraid, you can deal with the problem rather than suffer from the fear.

Never stop pursuing your goals.

Your fear should never erase your goals. As real as fear is, your goals and dreams are just as real and just as big.

Once you’ve accepted the fear will happen, have a plan for getting back up. Another business to start. Another objective to conquer. Another challenge to overcome.

The minute you start doing something audacious again, those fears will come back. But by this time, you’ve learned the lesson that your fears aren’t worth being afraid of.

And even if your worst fears come true, you always have goals to pursue.

Do what you fear.

“Do what you fear, and fear disappears.” (David Joseph Schwartz)

When you do the very thing you fear, then the fear goes away. You fear failure? Go ahead and fail.

Oddly, we often fear most what we desire most. If we can just realize that the other side of our fears is success, we’ll be more willing to do what we’re afraid of.

It’s easy to type those words on my keyboard, but way harder to actually do what I’m talking about. Doing is never easy. But it is rewarding.

Conclusion

Ask any entrepreneur, world leader, business mogul, high achiever, or otherwise well adjusted person.

Every single one of them has experienced fear. They’ve also dealt with those fears, not by shrinking back, but by going forward.

What is that you’re afraid of?

 

BY NEIL PATEL

Co-founder, Crazy Egg
The Hard Truth About How Success Really Works
The Hard Truth About How Success Really Works

HardestWorking

Many people fall prey to, “Yeah, but…” thinking.

I have a friend who absolutely hates how successful his brother-in-law has become. “Oh yeah, I’d like to be doing that well,” he’ll say, “but he has very little downtime.”

Another is bitter because one of his friends is extremely fit. “Oh yeah, I’d like to be in that kind of shape,” he’ll say, “but he has to run like 30 miles a week.”

Sound familiar? It’s easy to look at people who are successful and begrudge their success. So we say, “Yeah, but he constantly watches what he eats,” about a thin friend, or, “Yeah, but he’s a slave to his schedule,” about a friend who achieves multiple goals, or even, “Yeah, but he took on way too much risk when he started his company,” about another entrepreneur.

But that’s how success works. Fit people are fit because they work out a lot. Successful people are successful because they work incredibly hard. People whose family relationships are close-knit have put time and effort into building those relationships.

Nothing worth achieving comes without a price. To begrudge those who pay the price is unfair. To be unwilling to pay the price will always result in failure.

The next time you consider a goal you want to achieve, decide if you really want to pursue that goal. If the answer is yes, the rest isn’t easy but it is simple.

Look around: No matter what your pursuit, plenty of people have already succeeded. Great blueprints and easy-to-follow road maps are everywhere.

If you want to start a business, don’t look at the guy down the street who only talks a good game; pick a person who has succeeded and follow her example. Do what she did. It will be really hard, but it will work. If you want to run a marathon, don’t use the guy struggling on the treadmill next to you as an example; follow the training program of a person who has run a number of marathons. It will be really hard, but it will work.

If you don’t have what you want, pay the price to get it. Don’t begrudge the success of others. Do what they do. It works for them and will work for you.

If you’re not willing to pay the price, recognize that fact and take that particular goal off your list. When you truly let go of a goal you say you want to achieve but really aren’t willing to work to achieve, you shrug off the mental drain of chronic frustration and get more energy to spend on the goals you really are willing to achieve.

Then, instead of begrudging the success of others, you’ll be happy to cheer them on from the sidelines­—just like they will for you.

 

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6 Oh-So Pleasurable Steps to Eliminate Procrastination
6 Oh-So Pleasurable Steps to Eliminate Procrastination

Procrastination

Got stuff to do that you hate doing? You’re not alone. Procrastination kills productivity for millions of people. Follow these surprisingly enjoyable steps and you’ll actually look forward to tasks that were painfully avoided just last week.

 

One of my biggest personal challenges has been planning–and all the time-consuming details that go with it. My frustration would rise with each passing minute as progress was stalled on a project because of some task I hadn’t done or a detail I had overlooked. In some cases, it immobilized me.

Over time I learned that I had a choice as to how (and when and where) I could get certain tasks done. It didn’t have to be at work or in my home office. In fact, I found that the more monotonous the task, the more I personally needed to enhance the experience surrounding the task to make it tolerable, even enjoyable.

I created my own Task Retreat.

A Task Retreat is a scheduled appointment with yourself to work on a “must do” task that requires considerable time and focus; it is enriched by an environment of enjoyable personal experiences to eliminate procrastination. You create conditions for your personalself to offset the drudgery of an undesirable task by enjoying a time of relaxation while doing it. As a result, your professional self will reap the benefits the following week, such as having a clean prospect list or an accurate database.

  1. Availability–Schedule time each week for your personal retreat. For early risers, try Saturday mornings at 7. Most cafés are open, with fresh-baked goods ready to serve. For the late-day people (like me), you might schedule some time on Sundays in the late afternoon, from 4 to 6. Regardless, pick some free time that you would easily waste on an unproductive activity.

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”  –Mother Teresa

  1. Atmosphere–Location is vital to pulling off an enjoyable Task Retreat. Whether in your own home or a favorite local café, find an environment that you’ll enjoy. Be sure to get yourself into a really comfortable chair or couch. Make plenty of room for your laptop. Ensure you have a good Wi-Fi connection. Bring all necessary office supplies. Avoid times when your retreat location is too crowded. You don’t want to fight crowds. Go during the slow times of the day or evening so you can get the best seat in the house and enter into a relaxing state of mind.

“Without atmosphere a painting is nothing.” –Rembrandt

  1. Attire–Wear your most comfortable clothes and shoes. What you wear affects how you feel. Now I don’t recommend going out in public in your pajamas, but a favorite pair of jeans, a warm sweatshirt on a cold morning, and a pair of slippers or sneakers can certainly do the trick.

“Humility and knowledge in poor clothes excel pride and ignorance in costly attire.” —William Penn

  1. Appetite–This is the treat portion of your Task Retreat. Select your favorite beverage to enjoy as you relax your way through your task list. Remember, this is your time, so enjoy it. Food and beverage are essentials to a successful and rewarding retreat. According to the NCA (National Coffee Association), gourmet and espresso-based beverages are on the rise this year. Add a beignet or a Tim Tam to complement your beverage of choice.

“Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.” –Mark Twain

  1. Audio–The last environmental element of your Task Retreat is music. Build a playlist of your favorite artists or download your favorite album for this occasion. Also, get a good set of headphones, ideally, a pair of noise-canceling ones. My husband bought me a pair of Beats, and they have served me well on Task Retreats over the years as well as many cross-country flights when crying babies occupied the seat behind me.

“If music be the food of love, play on.” –William Shakespeare

  1. Actions–Finally, we get to the work. Define your objectives prior to your Task Retreat. Don’t be ambiguous about your actions or desired outcomes. Focus on next week’s priorities, because the effort you put in on your retreat will really pay off next week. It’s as if you become your own personal sales support staff. Who wouldn’t want to show up on Monday morning with a vetted prospect list or an up-to-date database?

Here are a few examples of smart goals for a Task Retreat:

  • Find 20 targeted decision makers on LinkedIn in a specific industry
  • Verify 40 email addresses of key influencers in your target market
  • Send out 35 follow-up emails to prospects to keep your name in front of them
  • Clean up 60 contact records for face-to-face cold calls

“The future depends on what you do today.” –Mahatma Gandhi

The Task Retreat is your chance to overcome the procrastination that paralyzes productivity by transforming the work experience itself. Instead of avoiding certain tasks and responsibilities because they’re tedious or boring, you’ll find yourself actually looking forward to them each week. And your professional self will love you for it.

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You’ll Never Hear Successful People Say These 15 Phrases
You’ll Never Hear Successful People Say These 15 Phrases

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If you want to become more successful as an entrepreneur or in your career, you can start by making a habit of talking and thinking more like the people you know or read about who are already successful.

Here are some phrases you’ll never hear a successful person say:

1. “We can’t do that.”

One thing that makes people and companies successful is the ability to make solving their customers’ problems and demands their main priority. If a need arises repeatedly, the most successful people learn how to solve it as quickly as they can.

2. “I don’t know how.”

Instead of automatically shutting down solution-finding, successful people learn what they can in order to succeed in a project or in their career. For example, you would never see a truly successful international business consultant who travels to Italy multiple times per year refusing to learn Italian.

3. “I don’t know what that is.”

Pleading ignorance doesn’t make the problem go away. It just makes the asker find someone who is able to work with them to solve the problem. While’s it’s always good to be honest with those you interact with, finishing this phrase with “but I’ll find out” is a surefire way to become more successful.

4. “I did everything on my own.”

The best people know to surround themselves with others who are smart, savvy and as dedicated as they are. What makes this work is always giving credit where it’s due, as due credit to you will always come back in hand. Recognize those that have helped you or made an impact and you’ll continue to earn success and recognition yourself.

5. “That’s too early.”

You would never hear Benjamin Franklin or someone such as Steve Jobs say, “that is too early for me to be there.” If there is a networking meeting, project launch or interview opportunity at the very beginning of the day, the most successful people do what it takes to be there. Part of being successful is being at the right place at the right time, no matter if you’re a morning bird or night owl.

6. “That’s too late.”

Along the same lines, if you’re asked to a 9 p.m. dinner by a potential business partner, and you can make it, definitely go. You may be tired the next day, but the connections you will make during a small dinner or after-hours meeting can make all the difference when it comes to your career or next project.

7. “It’s too bad we couldn’t work together.”

Truly hitting it off with someone can be a rare occurrence, but if you truly connect with someone and want to work with them, find a way to make it work. Finding people that you really enjoy communicating with don’t come along too often, so whether it’s a case study or a new business, successful people know that working with those who truly align with your personality and interests are the path to true success.

8. “Let’s catch up sometime.”

Many times, this phrase is said as filler, without any true follow up. Successful people know that if they really want to catch up with someone, they follow up to make it happen. This also builds on the idea that the most successful people have worked hard to build genuine connections and relationships within their network, without any hidden agenda. Nurturing your network means being thoughtful of others, while keeping your relationships with them on top of your mind.

9. “I’m sorry, I’m too busy.”

If an opportunity comes their way, successful people do what it takes to make it happen. Sure, this might mean longer hours occasionally, but if you want something to work, that is what it takes. After all, according to Lao-Tzu: “Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to.’”

10. “That was all my idea.”

Again, as mentioned in number four, the most successful people spread the wealth when it comes to doling out praise from a successful project. No idea is truly one’s own — it’s a sum of their experiences from interacting and building off of collaborative ideas with a team. Doling out praise and encouragement is a crucial part of building a successful company and culture.

11. “I never read books.”

Tom Corley of Rich Habits found that rich people read (and listen to) books at a much higher rate than poor people: “63 percent of wealthy parents make their children read two or more non-fiction books a month vs. 3 percent of poor.” Also, “63 percent of wealthy listen to audio books during commute to work vs. 5 percent of poor people.” Reading non-fiction (as well as fiction) can help reduce stress, enhance creativity and boost your memory.

12. “I’m not good enough.”

Part of being successful is having a high sense of self-worth. Being yourself is one trait that promises success in business and your personal life. Follow your true interests. What you would do in your life if you didn’t need money?

13. “It’s OK.” (over and over)

Successful people know when to walk away and stop taking excuses from others. If there is a bottleneck and something (or someone) is preventing you from completing a project on time, build up your business, or move you forward in your goals, then it’s time to set boundaries and decide to limit your involvement.

14. “If our competitors don’t have it, then we don’t need it.”

Copying competitors is one of the many possible deaths for most companies. True innovation comes from the flip side: figuring out what competitors aren’t doing and fill that niche to answer a need in the industry.

15. “Time off is for suckers.”

True success should be seen as a well-rounded approach, one with vacations, weekends with friends and family and hours of downtime on the weekdays. While workload varies for everyone at times, taking vacation can make you better at your job.

Sometimes to get to where you want to be, the best and easiest thing to do is to simply follow the examples that others set for you.

What phrases are you going to eliminate from your day-to-day conversations and thinking?

Article Contributed by: Sujan Patel

5 Ways to Get People to Actually Listen to You
5 Ways to Get People to Actually Listen to You

 

 

Have you ever stood before an audience, uncertain whether you are truly connecting with them? Or, have you spoken to an employee who appears to be getting the message–but whose actions later tell another story?

To you, it’s simple: Communicate your thoughts and the facts quickly and concisely and anyone will understand.

Not true. Facts and statistics may tell a story, but if you truly want to effect change and influence the way your audience thinks and feels, you will have to go beyond straightforward communications. The key to really getting people to listen–and act: Touch them on an emotional level.

Author Helio Fred Garcia, who is executive director of the Logos Institute for Crisis Management and Executive Leadership, reminds us that members of a typical audience don’t think like leaders do. According to Garcia, your audience must be able to feel and experience your communications, or you simply won’t have the impact that you set out to achieve.

“Humans are wired to connect with each other,” says Garcia. “And we connect with one another by feeling, not thinking.”

Why? Because of the structures in the brain that allow people to experience someone else’s plight as if it were their own. These structures, called mirror neurons, are also referred to as empathy neurons.

“Emotion is now increasingly recognized as the key to moving hearts and minds,” says Garcia. “All too often leaders assume that facts matter,” he says. “That if only we let the facts speak for themselves, people will understand and agree with us.”

In his latest book, The Power of Communication, Garcia notes that when leaders know they are not actually connecting they tend to double down and push more data and facts instead of trying a new approach. That’s where things get really toxic. Here are five strategies Garcia says can help you stop reciting facts–and start making a true connection.

1. Keep your mouth shut–for a couple of moments.

Don’t say anything substantive until you have an audience connection. Note that their first impression is visual, not verbal. You, the speaker, whether you are in front of a large group or a single employee, prospective investor, or prospect, have to be in complete command. You can gain that command by the way you carry yourself, before you even open your mouth. The body speaks before the mouth is open. Avoid rocking, looking down, and fidgeting. Stand and walk with confidence.

2. Get your audience engaged.

Get the eyeballs looking up before you say anything. Move with quiet confidence and smile, inviting people to look up and pay attention. Invite your audience to engage on the emotional level by offering a warm greeting. You might even ask them a question that prompts a response. It can be simple, as in: “How is everybody doing today?”

3. Grab their attention to make it memorable.

People remember the very first substantive that you say. Once you have their attention, jump right in to the most important thing you have to say. This powerful beginning will stick with your audience, creating the impact you’re looking for.

4. Use verbal cues.

Use attention-provoking signals when you move from one part of the speech to the next. For instance, you might verbally number your key points or use other verbal signals like “Let’s move on” or “My next topic is…”  Always give the audience verbal cues to look up at you.

5. Recap what matters.

Take all of the substantive points from your talk and group them all together at the very end of the presentation. Remember your provoking signal and say something like, “In summary,” then recap everything from your presentation that matters the most.

“In summary,” your audience must be able to feel and experience your communications, or you simply won’t have the impact that you set out to achieve.

So, how’d I do? Let me know, and let me know your best tips for captivating an audience below, or on Twitter. 

10 Toxic People You Should Avoid Like the Plague By Lolly
10 Toxic People You Should Avoid Like the Plague By Lolly
Just like toxins in your air, water, or food, toxins in the people around you can cause serious harm–but they don’t come with a warning label. Here’s a rundown of what to look out for so you can keep yourself safe.

Toxic people are everywhere, and most of us know at least one or two. We may live with them, work with them, lead them, or know them socially. And if you’ve ever spent time with truly toxic people, you already know how destructive and exhausting they can be.

Just as with any kind of toxin, you need to limit your exposure and keep yourself protected. But a critical first step is to recognize when a person is toxic. Unfortunately, toxic people don’t come with a warning label–but there are things you can look for.

1. Toxic arrogance

There is a big difference between confidence and arrogance. Confidence inspires; arrogance intimidates. Arrogant people always know best and feel superior to others. They will never celebrate your confidence because it interferes with their arrogance.

2. Toxic victimhood

One of the most dangerous people you can have around you is the perpetual victim. Perpetual victims look at their own issues and mistakes and always find others to blame, from their unreasonable boss to their unloving parents. They never take ownership of their own lives.

3. Toxic control

Controlling people know everything and the best way to do anything. They’re usually very insecure beneath it all, but as long as they’re around you’ll never get a chance to voice an idea or do anything yourself.

4. Toxic envy

Those plagued with jealousy are never happy with what they have, and they aren’t capable of being happy when good things happen to you. They can’t appreciate it when others achieve or move forward; they feel that if anything good is going to happen, it should happen to them.

5. Toxic lies

As long as there are people, there will be people who lie. But chronic liars are harmful because you never know what to believe, so you can’t count on their promises or their word. They will lie to you about others, and they will lie to others about you.

6. Toxic negativity

You probably know someone who’s always angry and resentful, suspicious of everything. Negativity destroys relationships, and spending time with negative people makes you feel they are sucking the life out of you.

7. Toxic greed

So much of our culture tells us to want more, achieve more, earn more. And to a degree that kind of desire and ambition can be good. But it turns toxic when people want it all–what’s theirs and what’s not–and when having, rather than doing or being, becomes the focus of their life.

8. Toxic judgmentalism

There is a big difference between making a judgment and being judgmental. Judgments are objective and based on discernment, while being judgmental is just about criticism. Judgmental people are always quick to jump to conclusions. They are poor listeners and communicators.

9. Toxic gossip

Gossipers see themselves as having a deep conversation about someone, an exchange of information. They do it to elevate themselves above their insecurity, and there’s no distinction between speculation and fact. Few things are more destructive than gossip.

10. Toxic lack of character

When someone lacks integrity and honesty–when cheating, lying, manipulating, gossip, and greed are part of the norm–there are few things they won’t do to get their way. If they decide you’re an obstacle to them, they’ll come after you with everything they’ve got.

If any of these attributes sound familiar, you may be suffering from exposure to a toxic person. Don’t wait until tomorrow to get yourself clear. And if you’re unable to do so, stay as distant and guarded as you would with a chemical spill.

25 Common Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs
25 Common Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

Do you have what it takes to get through hard times? Here are the traits that help home-based business owners thrive.

 

Regardless of your definition of success, there are, oddly enough, a great number of common characteristics that are shared by successful business people. You can place a check beside each characteristic that you feel that you possess. This way, you can see how you stack up. Even if you don’t have all of these characteristics, don’t fret. Most can be learned with practice and by developing a winning attitude, especially if you set goals and apply yourself, through strategic planning, to reach those goals in incremental and measurable stages.

The Home Business Musts

Like any activity you pursue, there are certain musts that are required to be successful in a chosen activity. To legally operate a vehicle on public roadways, one must have a driver’s license; to excel in sports, one must train and practice; to retire comfortably, one must become an informed investor and actively invest for retirement. If your goal is success in business, then the formula is no different. There are certain musts that have to be fully developed, implemented and managed for your business to succeed. There are many business musts, but this article contains I believe to be some of the more important musts that are required to start, operate and grow a profitable home business.

1. Do what you enjoy.

What you get out of your business in the form of personal satisfaction, financial gain, stability and enjoyment will be the sum of what you put into your business. So if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, in all likelihood it’s safe to assume that will be reflected in the success of your business–or subsequent lack of success. In fact, if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, chances are you won’t succeed.

2. Take what you do seriously.

You cannot expect to be effective and successful in business unless you truly believe in your business and in the goods and services that you sell. Far too many home business owners fail to take their own businesses seriously enough, getting easily sidetracked and not staying motivated and keeping their noses to the grindstone. They also fall prey to naysayers who don’t take them seriously because they don’t work from an office building, office park, storefront, or factory. Little do these skeptics, who rain on the home business owner’s parade, know is that the number of people working from home, and making very good annual incomes, has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years.

3. Plan everything.

Planning every aspect of your home business is not only a must, but also builds habits that every home business owner should develop, implement, and maintain. The act of business planning is so important because it requires you to analyze each business situation, research and compile data, and make conclusions based mainly on the facts as revealed through the research. A business plan also serves a second function, which is having your goals and how you will achieve them, on paper. You can use the plan that you create both as map to take you from point A to Z and as a yardstick to measure the success of each individual plan or segment within the plan.

4. Manage money wisely.

The lifeblood of any business enterprise is cash flow. You need it to buy inventory, pay for services, promote and market your business, repair and replace tools and equipment, and pay yourself so that you can continue to work. Therefore, all home business owners must become wise money managers to ensure that the cash keeps flowing and the bills get paid. There are two aspects to wise money management.

  1. The money you receive from clients in exchange for your goods and services you provide (income)
  2. The money you spend on inventory, supplies, wages and other items required to keep your business operating. (expenses)

5. Ask for the sale.

A home business entrepreneur must always remember that marketing, advertising, or promotional activities are completely worthless, regardless of how clever, expensive, or perfectly targeted they are, unless one simple thing is accomplished–ask for the sale. This is not to say that being a great salesperson, advertising copy-writing whiz or a public relations specialist isn’t a tremendous asset to your business. However, all of these skills will be for naught if you do not actively ask people to buy what you are selling.

6. Remember it’s all about the customer.

Your home business is not about the products or services that you sell. Your home business is not about the prices that you charge for your goods and services. Your home business is not about your competition and how to beat them. Your business is all about your customers, or clients, period. After all, your customers are the people that will ultimately decide if your business goes boom or bust. Everything you do in business must be customer focused, including your policies, warranties, payment options, operating hours, presentations, advertising and promotional campaigns and website. In addition, you must know who your customers are inside out and upside down.

7. Become a shameless self-promoter (without becoming obnoxious).

One of the greatest myths about personal or business success is that eventually your business, personal abilities, products or services will get discovered and be embraced by the masses that will beat a path to your door to buy what you are selling. But how can this happen if no one knows who you are, what you sell and why they should be buying?

Self-promotion is one of the most beneficial, yet most underutilized, marketing tools that the majority of home business owners have at their immediate disposal.

8. Project a positive business image.

You have but a passing moment to make a positive and memorable impression on people with whom you intend to do business. Home business owners must go out of their way and make a conscious effort to always project the most professional business image possible. The majority of home business owners do not have the advantage of elaborate offices or elegant storefronts and showrooms to wow prospects and impress customers. Instead, they must rely on imagination, creativity and attention to the smallest detail when creating and maintaining a professional image for their home business.

9. Get to know your customers.

One of the biggest features and often the most significant competitive edge the home based entrepreneur has over the larger competitors is the he can offer personalized attention. Call it high-tech backlash if you will, but customers are sick and tired of hearing that their information is somewhere in the computer and must be retrieved, or told to push a dozen digits to finally get to the right department only to end up with voice mail–from which they never receive a return phone call.

The home business owner can actually answer phone calls, get to know customers, provide personal attention and win over repeat business by doing so. It’s a researched fact that most business (80 percent) will come from repeat customers rather than new customers. Therefore, along with trying to draw newcomers, the more you can do to woo your regular customers, the better off you will be in the long run and personalized attention is very much appreciated and remembered in the modern high tech world.

10. Level the playing field with technology.

You should avoid getting overly caught up in the high-tech world, but you should also know how to take advantage of using it. One of the most amazing aspects of the internet is that a one or two person business operating from a basement can have a superior website to a $50 million company, and nobody knows the difference. Make sure you’re keeping up with the high-tech world as it suits your needs.. The best technology is that which helps you, not that which impresses your neighbors.

11. Build a top-notch business team.

No one person can build a successful business alone. It’s a task that requires a team that is as committed as you to the business and its success. Your business team may include family members, friends, suppliers, business alliances, employees, sub-contractors, industry and business associations, local government and the community. Of course the most important team members will be your customers or clients. Any or all may have a say in how your business will function and a stake in your business future.

12. Become known as an expert.

When you have a problem that needs to be solved, do you seek just anyone’s advice or do you seek an expert in the field to help solve your particular problem? Obviously, you want the most accurate information and assistance that you can get. You naturally seek an expert to help solve your problem. You call a plumber when the hot water tank leaks, a real estate agent when it’s time to sell your home or a dentist when you have a toothache. Therefore, it only stands to reason that the more you become known for your expertise in your business, the more people will seek you out to tap into your expertise, creating more selling and referral opportunities. In effect, becoming known as an expert is another style of prospecting for new business, just in reverse. Instead of finding new and qualified people to sell to, these people seek you out for your expertise.

13. Create a competitive advantage.

A home business must have a clearly defined unique selling proposition. This is nothing more than a fancy way of asking the vital question, “Why will people choose to do business with you or purchase your product or service instead of doing business with a competitor and buying his product or service?” In other words, what one aspect or combination of aspects is going to separate your business from your competition? Will it be better service, a longer warranty, better selection, longer business hours, more flexible payment options, lowest price, personalized service, better customer service, better return and exchange policies or a combination of several of these?

14. Invest in yourself.

Top entrepreneurs buy and read business and marketing books, magazines, reports, journals, newsletters, websites and industry publications, knowing that these resources will improve their understanding of business and marketing functions and skills. They join business associations and clubs, and they network with other skilled business people to learn their secrets of success and help define their own goals and objectives. Top entrepreneurs attend business and marketing seminars, workshops and training courses, even if they have already mastered the subject matter of the event. They do this because they know that education is an ongoing process. There are usually ways to do things better, in less time, with less effort. In short, top entrepreneurs never stop investing in the most powerful, effective and best business and marketing tool at their immediate disposal–themselves.

15. Be accessible.

We’re living in a time when we all expect our fast food lunch at the drive-thru window to be ready in mere minutes, our dry cleaning to be ready for pick-up on the same day, our money to be available at the cash machine and our pizza delivered in 30 minutes or it’s free. You see the pattern developing–you must make it as easy as you can for people to do business with you, regardless of the home business you operate.

You must remain cognizant of the fact that few people will work hard, go out of their way, or be inconvenienced just for the privilege of giving you their hard-earned money. The shoe is always on the other foot. Making it easy for people to do business with you means that you must be accessible and knowledgeable about your products and services. You must be able to provide customers with what they want, when they want it.

16. Build a rock-solid reputation.

A good reputation is unquestionably one of the home business owner’s most tangible and marketable assets. You can’t simply buy a good reputation; it’s something that you earn by honoring your promises. If you promise to have the merchandise in the customer’s hands by Wednesday, you have no excuse not to have it there. If you offer to repair something, you need to make good on your offer. Consistency in what you offer is the other key factor. If you cannot come through with the same level of service (and products) for clients on a regular basis, they have no reason to trust you . . . and without trust, you won’t have a good reputation.

17. Sell benefits.

Pushing product features is for inexperienced or wannabe entrepreneurs. Selling the benefits associated with owning and using the products and services you carry is what sales professionals worldwide focus on to create buying excitement and to sell, sell more, and sell more frequently to their customers. Your advertising, sales presentations, printed marketing materials, product packaging, website, newsletters, trade show exhibit and signage are vital. Every time and every medium used to communicate with your target audience must always be selling the benefits associated with owning your product or using your service.

18. Get involved.

Always go out of your way to get involved in the community that supports your business. You can do this in many ways, such as pitching in to help local charities or the food bank, becoming involved in organizing community events, and getting involved in local politics. You can join associations and clubs that concentrate on programs and policies designed to improve the local community. It’s a fact that people like to do business with people they know, like and respect, and with people who do things to help them as members of the community.

19. Grab attention.

Small-business owners cannot waste time, money and energy on promotional activities aimed at building awareness solely through long-term, repeated exposure. If you do, chances are you will go broke long before this goal is accomplished. Instead, every promotional activity you engage in, must put money back in your pocket so that you can continue to grab more attention and grow your business.

20. Master the art of negotiations.

The ability to negotiate effectively is unquestionably a skill that every home business owner must make every effort to master. It’s perhaps second in importance only to asking for the sale in terms of home business musts. In business, negotiation skills are used daily. Always remember that mastering the art of negotiation means that your skills are so finely tuned that you can always orchestrate a win-win situation. These win-win arrangements mean that everyone involved feels they have won, which is really the basis for building long-term and profitable business relationships.

21. Design Your workspace for success.

Carefully plan and design your home office workspace to ensure maximum personal performance and productivity and, if necessary, to project professionalism for visiting clients. If at all possible, resist the temptation to turn a corner of the living room or your bedroom into your office. Ideally, you’ll want a separate room with a door that closes to keep business activities in and family members out, at least during prime business and revenue generating hours of the day. A den, spare bedroom, basement or converted garage are all ideal candidates for your new home office. If this is not possible, you’ll have to find a means of converting a room with a partition or simply find hours to do the bulk of your work when nobody else is home.

22. Get and stay organized.

The key to staying organized is not about which type of file you have or whether you keep a stack or two of papers on your desk, but it’s about managing your business. It’s about having systems in place to do things. Therefore, you wan to establish a routine by which you can accomplish as much as possible in a given workday, whether that’s three hours for a part-time business or seven or nine hours as a full-timer. In fact, you should develop systems and routines for just about every single business activity. Small things such as creating a to-do list at the end of each business day, or for the week, will help keep you on top of important tasks to tackle. Creating a single calendar to work from, not multiple sets for individual tasks or jobs, will also ensure that jobs are completed on schedule and appointments kept. Incorporating family and personal activities into your work calendar is also critical so that you work and plan from a single calendar.

23. Take time off.

The temptation to work around the clock is very real for some home business owners. After all, you don’t have a manager telling you it’s time to go home because they can’t afford the overtime pay. Every person working from home must take time to establish a regular work schedule that includes time to stretch your legs and take lunch breaks, plus some days off and scheduled vacations. Create the schedule as soon as you have made the commitment to start a home business. Of course, your schedule will have to be flexible. You should, therefore, not fill every possible hour in the day. Give yourself a backup hour or two. All work and no play makes you burn out very fast and grumpy customer service is not what people want.

24. Limit the number of hats you wear.

It’s difficult for most business owners not to take a hands-on approach. They try to do as much as possible and tackle as many tasks as possible in their business. The ability to multitask, in fact, is a common trait shared by successful entrepreneurs. However, once in a while you have to stand back and look beyond today to determine what’s in the best interest of your business and yourself over the long run. Most highly successful entrepreneurs will tell you that from the time they started out, they knew what they were good at and what tasks to delegate to others.

25. Follow-up constantly.

Constant contact, follow-up, and follow-through with customers, prospects, and business alliances should be the mantra of every home business owner, new or established. Constant and consistent follow-up enables you to turn prospects into customers, increase the value of each sale and buying frequency from existing customers, and build stronger business relationships with suppliers and your core business team. Follow-up is especially important with your existing customer base, as the real work begins after the sale. It’s easy to sell one product or service, but it takes work to retain customers and keep them coming back.

 

Rewire Your Brain and Become a Better Leader By Geoffrey James
Rewire Your Brain and Become a Better Leader By Geoffrey James

The latest neuroscience research explains exactly how to inspire people to follow where you lead.

 

Almost theories of leadership boil down to a single question: “How can I get people to willingly follow me?” The question is almost always answered: “Use this combination of carrots and sticks.”

But what if that basic reward/threat formula is wrong? What if the motivation to follow a leader comes from someplace else entirely? Well, it turns out that Neuroscience proves the core of issue of leadership is not about carrots and sticks. It’s about certainty.

As Jon Pratlett points out in one of his recent Neuroscience newsletters:

“A sense of certainty releases chemicals in the brain, like serotonin and dopamine, that create positive feelings of security and anticipation. Uncertainty, on the other hand, releases norepinephrine and cortisol, leading to a threat response.”

In other words, it’s not the carrot or the stick that causes people to follow a leader, it’s whether they feel certain they will achieve what the leader says they’ll achieve.

Therefore, in order to lead effectively, the correct question to ask yourself is: “How do I create a sense of certainty in other people?”

Once again, Neuroscience has an answer. Humans have what are called “mirror neurons” in nearly every part of the brain: the premotor cortex, the supplementary motor area, the primary somatosensory cortex and the inferior parietal cortex.

Mirror neurons cause people to imitate the behaviors they see in others. Therefore, to create certainty in others you must first create certainty in yourself.

This is why great leaders always seem so self-confident. Self-confidence is the outward manifestation of the sense of certainty that they’ve created within themselves, a certainty that infects everyone around them.

The best example of this phenomenon is the “reality distortion field” that Steve Jobs generated every time he presented a new Apple product. Jobs expressed and obviously felt such absolute certainty that everyone believed that every new product was “insanely great.”

So, then, the true challenge of leadership isn’t about other people at all. It’s something more basic: “How do I create that compelling sense of certainty within myself?”

Neuroscience to the rescue. Using a set of relatively simple techniques, you can “rewire” your brain so that when you make an important decision, you create an overwhelming and infectious sense of self-certainty that your outcome is inevitable.

Here’s how it’s done:

1. Use your uncertainty wisely.

It may seem strange, in an article about certainty, to point out that uncertainty has value. However, before you make any important decision, there is always a natural period of uncertainty while you gather advice and weigh alternatives. Use this time wisely and well, because once you’ve made the decision, those alternatives will literally not exist. To avoid “analysis by paralysis” commit to make the decision by an unmovable deadline date.

2. Make your decision final.

Decisions aren’t like buying clothes, where you can try one outfit, check it out in the mirror, and then try on another. For a decision to create certainty in yourself and in others, the decision (when made) must be singular and final. The Latin root word for decide means “to cut off.” To decide is to cut off uncertainty, debate, regrets and alternative outcomes. The more completely that you cut away this unless excess, the more powerful your certainty will become.

3. Imagine a vivid outcome.

Here’s where you “rewire” your brain. Close your eyes and picture the outcome that your decision will create. Use your imagination to make huge, like a 3D Omni theatre. Full color, surround sound. Imagine how the success sounds. Imagine how the success feels. Heck, imagine how it tastes and smells. Make it so real that you feel throughout your entire body and soul, that the success your seeking has arrived and it’s better than you previously imagined.

4. Put your outcome in the past.

As you experience the emotional fullness of the successful outcome, imagine as strongly as you are able that everything you’ve just experienced–the victory of true success–has already happened. You and your team have already won. The successful outcome is a done deal. Repeat steps 3 and 4 daily until your mind automatically treats the outcome you seek as a foregone conclusion.

This rewiring method words because of something called “neuroplasticity.” While the rational part of your brain can differentiate between what you imagine and what’s in the physical world, the deeper parts of your brain cannot. Therefore, when you consciously create a vivid memory of an event that hasn’t happened, you create throughout the majority of your brain same sense of certainty you have about that past events that you’ve actually experienced.

How do I know this method works? Simple. I’ve used it to make every important decision I’ve made for the past two decades. Now, I’m no great leader; far from it. However, I do have the knack of creating utter certainty within myself that I can accomplish what I set myself to accomplish, even when that outcome (objectively) seem highly unlikely.

This blog, for instance. When I started this blog (with an audience of exactly zero) I was certain it would become popular, even though the chances of any particular blog become this well-read were probably about 10,000 to 1. Same thing with my latest book. I was certain it would get glowing reviews and sell in big numbers. By creating that certainty in myself, I was able to convince others (like editors) to feel certain that I could deliver.

Now, if this rewiring process works for somebody as minimally talented as myself, imagine how it could work for you, if you’re drawn to be a leader who starts new companies and leads teams do the extraordinary?

Rewiring your brain for certainty will not only propel you personally towards success but, more important, will inspire you to believe that through leadership you can “certainly” accomplish what otherwise might seem impossible.

5 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Every Monday Morning By Laura Garnett
5 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Every Monday Morning By Laura Garnett

Making a habit of pausing and checking in on your performance every Monday can be an invaluable tool that will help you improve your work experience.

 

We live in a society that dreads Mondays. For those in dead-end jobs and feeling a complete lack of engagement, well, Monday mornings can be a sad reminder that you aren’t maximizing your potential at work. Fortunately, as an entrepreneur, you chose to do something different–therefore you have more freedom when it comes to creating the kind of work experiences that will keep you engaged and fulfilled. And making a habit of pausing and checking in on your performance every Monday can be an invaluable tool that will help you improve.

Problem is, despite the freedom that comes with running your own business, many entrepreneurs experience the opposite. They are tired, overworked, and stretched from wearing many hats and doing what needs to be done to make payroll or generate revenue to keep the business afloat. The absence of a manager, or the structure of forced “360” reviews in a large company, means that for some growing businesses, those moments of reflection on performance and work experience are infrequent–and potentially not happening at all. For a super busy entrepreneur, adding something else to the to-do list may sound exhausting, but what is lost in not taking time to focus on your performance?

For starters, the quality of your thinking and output could be at risk, especially if you are stressed and creating a threatening mindset for yourself. The book Top Dog: The science of Winning and Losing discusses a study done with Princeton undergrads: “The researchers presented the students with a test of GRE questions. For half the students, the questions were presented in a threat context–they were a test of the students’ ability, a judgment on whether they truly belonged at Princeton. The other students got the same questions, but in a challenge context. That test was titled ‘Intellectual Challenge Questionnaire,’ and the questions were construed as brainteasers. Nobody was expected to solve them all. In the threat context, the Princeton undergrads got 72% correct. In the challenge context, they got 90% correct.”

The conclusion? A threat situation negatively impacts your performance. It’s easy to go from challenge to threat when you are busy and trying to meet your revenue goals.

With that in mind, here are five questions you can begin your week with, to help you slow down, take stock in what you’re doing, and ensure that you are bringing all you’ve got to your weekly tasks. Not only will it help get yourself into a challenge mindset, but you can double-check that you are focusing your efforts on work that is invigorating and energizing.

1. Am I excited to dive into the challenges that I have lined up for the week?

2. Am I looking forward to engaging with the people I am meeting or working with?

3. Am I going to my dream job?

4. Am I being compensated fairly for the value I bring to my job?

5. Do I feel energized, rested, and confident?

If the answer to more than three of these questions is “no” on a consistent basis, then it’s a sign that you’re spending your time in ways that may not be serving you. While this may not be a problem in the short term, over time you will see that your energy wanes and your enthusiasm for work becomes non-existent. I want to live in a world where everyone is engaged, challenged, and spending their time doing work that serves not only the marketplace and the world–but also themselves. Do you?

9 Essential Habits of Remarkably Effective People By Jeff Haden
9 Essential Habits of Remarkably Effective People By Jeff Haden

You don’t have to be born able to execute at a high level. Here’s how you can develop that vital skill.

There’s a huge biggest difference between being efficient and being effective.

Efficient people are well organized and competent. They check things off their to-do list. They complete projects. They get stuff done.

Effective people do all that … but they check the right things off their to-do list. They complete the right projects. They get the right stuff done.

They execute and produce what makes the biggest difference for their business … and for themselves.

Here are some of the traits of remarkably effective people, and why they’re so successful:

1. They always start with goals.

Effort without a genuine purpose is just effort. Effective people don’t just know what to do–they know why. They have a long-term goal. They have short-term goals that support their long-term goals.

In short, they have purpose–and that purpose informs everything they do. That’s why remarkable people appear so dedicated and organized and consistently on-task. They’re not slaves to a routine; they’re simply driven to reach their goals and quick to eliminate roadblocks and put aside distractions that stand in their way.

Remarkably effective people set their goals first. So decide what success means to you. (Your definition of success is and should be different from everyone else’s.)

You’ll find it’s easy to stay focused and be effective when you truly care about what you hope to achieve.

Even so, once they establish a goal, remarkably effective people don’t focus solely on that goal; instead …

2. Then they create systems.

If you’re an entrepreneur, your goal is to build a successful business. Your system consists of your processes for sales, marketing, fulfillment, operations, etc.

A goal is great for planning and mapping out what success looks like; a system is great for actually making progress toward that goal.

Remarkably effective people know a goal can provide direction and even push them forward in the short term, but eventually a well-designed system will always win.

Everyone has goals; committing to a system makes all the difference in achieving that goal.

3. They believe in themselves.

Diligence isn’t easy. Hard work is hard. Pushing forward when successes are few and far between takes optimism and self-belief.

That’s why busy people quickly give up and effective people keep going.

Remarkably effective people embrace the fact (and it is a fact) that the only way to get to where they want to go is to try … and keep on trying. They know that eventually they will succeed, because …

4. They believe they are in control of their lives.

Many people feel luck–or outside forces–has a lot to do with success or failure. If they succeed, luck favored them; if they fail, luck was against them.

Luck certainly does play a part, but effective people don’t hope for good luck or worry about bad luck. They assume success is totally within their control. If they succeed, they caused it; if they fail, they caused that, too.

Remarkably effective people waste zero mental energy worrying about what might happen to them–they put all their effort into making things happen.

They know they can never control luck … but they can always control themselves.

5. And yet they also embrace “random.”

When your nose is to the grindstone, all you can see is the grindstone. And that means you miss opportunities to spot something new, try something different, or go off on a fruitful tangent.

Effective people stay almost totally on-task. Remarkably effective people build in time and opportunity to experience new things, try new methods, and benefit from happy accidents.

They’re not always trying to reinvent the wheel. But they’re more than happy to adopt someone else’s perfectly functioning wheel.

6. They find happiness in the success of others.

Great teams win because their most talented members are willing to sacrifice to help others succeed.

That’s why great companies are made up of employees who help each other, know their roles, set aside their personal goals, and value team success over everything else.

Where does that attitude come from?

You.

Focus only on yourself and ultimately you’ll be by yourself. To be remarkably effective, find fulfillment in helping other people succeed. In the process you will succeed, too–in more ways than one.

7. They use their goals to make decisions automatic.

In a podcast, Tim Ferriss described how Herb Kelleher, the CEO of Southwest Airlines, makes so many decisions every day. Kelleher applies a simple framework to every issue: Will this help Southwest be the low-cost provider? If so, the answer is yes. If not, no.

Remarkably effective people apply the same framework to the decisions they make. “Will this help me reach my goal? If not, I won’t do it.”

If you feel like you’re constantly struggling to make decisions, take a step back. Think about your goals; your goals will help you make decisions.

That’s why remarkably effective people are so decisive. Indecision is born of a lack of purpose: When you know what you truly want, most of your decisions can–and should–be almost automatic.

8. They don’t multitask.

Plenty of research says multitasking doesn’t work. (Some research says multitasking actually makes you stupid.)

Maybe you don’t agree.

Maybe you’re wrong. Try to do two things at once and you’ll do both half-assed.

Remarkably effective people focus on one thing at a time. They do that one thing incredibly well … and then they move on to whatever is next. And they do that incredibly well.

9. They freely ask for help.

Busy people ask for help getting something done. Remarkably effective people ask for help not just because they need help but also because by asking they show respect for the other person and trust his or her experience, skill, or insight.

Mutual respect is the foundation of every solid relationship–and the best way to create mutual respect is to first show respect.

Want to be remarkably effective? Surround yourself with people who trust and motivate and inspire you–and in turn are inspired by you.

Even if you don’t achieve all your goals, your life will be infinitely richer.

 

The Real Reason Most Entrepreneurs Succeed by jeff hayden
The Real Reason Most Entrepreneurs Succeed by jeff hayden

On a beautiful summer evening, treading water about 500 yards from shore as the sun sank toward the horizon, I realized I was going to drown.

It started innocently enough. I was drafted onto a cornhole team without realizing the losers had agreed to swim out to a red crab pot float and back.

Of all the people who can actually swim, I am probably the worst swimmer in the world. Throw me in the deep end and I can swim to the side. Throw me in the deep end and I can tread water for a few minutes. But that’s hardly swimming.

So as I walked toward the waves I thought, “OK, how hard can this be? It’s not a race. I can take my time. And it doesn’t look that far away.”

About 100 yards from shore, the bobbing red float looked really far away.

So I tried to trick myself. “I won’t look at the float,” I thought. “I’ll just swim. I’ll swim for a long time. I’ll wait as long as I can to look at the float, and then I’ll be surprised and happy about how close I’ve gotten!”

So I swam and resisted the temptation to look for the float. I kept swimming, kept resisting. Then I started to wonder if I had already passed the buoy. How stupid would it be to swim farther than I needed to? So I looked up.

The red float was still a really long way away.

Great.

I had a choice. I could give up, turn around, swim back to shore, and admit I couldn’t do it. That was the wise, prudent, sensible choice.

But, of course, I decided to keep going.

An eternity later, I reached the float. I turned and looked back. The shore seemed impossibly far away. And just then a larger wave crested over me just as I was breathing in.

I panicked.

“There’s no way I can make it back,” I thought. “It’s too far. I can’t do it. I’m going to drown!” (You know when you get scared and freeze up and it’s like you suddenly can’t run or move or, in this case, swim at all? That was me.)

Thrashing and coughing, I instinctively began to raise an arm to wave to people on shore for help when an image suddenly hit me. I remembered how I felt eight miles in on the 12-mile climb up the gravel fire road of what local cyclists call the “dark side” of Reddish Knob.

I remembered how badly I hurt: heart racing, lungs burning, legs screaming, vision blurring.

I remembered how I desperately wanted to stop, and I remembered that I didn’t stop.

“You’re OK,” I told myself. “You know you can tread water. So for now, just do that. Just chill.”

And I did.

Then I thought, “I can do this. Shoot, I’ve done worse. It’s just a matter of time and effort. Keep your heart rate reasonable, flip over on your back occasionally and just kick so you can rest your arms, and eventually you’ll make it. Just go moment to moment. It’s going to suck, but you can do it.”

I was really tired–and grateful–by the time I finally reached the shore, but I made it. And it wasn’t as bad as I had imagined. Shoot, I could have swum farther. (Because we can always,always do more.)

How? I was able to harness the power of early suffering.

Many entrepreneurs that are successful today are the product of bootstrapping and sacrificing and scraping and clawing and fighting and never, ever giving up, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

Their early struggles forge resolve. Their early struggles forge perseverance.

And their early struggles continue to inform even the most successful entrepreneurs’ professional and personal lives, providing an almost inexhaustible foundation of willpower and confidence and perseverance.

All the successful entrepreneurs I know say they would not trade their early startup days of incredible struggle and effort and suffering for anything. What they learned about themselves not only carries them through the tough times but also gives them the confidence to not just think but know they can do more than they ever imagined possible–no matter what challenges they may face.

Be grateful for the struggle. Be grateful for the suffering.

Someday it will pay off–and in ways you might never expect.

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