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5 Lessons Social Entrepreneurship Teaches Us About Motivation

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What comes to mind when you hear “accountability” or “motivation?” For many, these words conjure the image of a coach or an accountability partner “cracking the whip” so they’d finish certain tasks – even when they’re dragging their behinds and aren’t inspired by the project at all.

No wonder people are sitting on the couch and complaining that they lack motivation. The problem isn’t that there’s something inherently wrong with them. They may just be going about it the wrong way.

What if there’s a better way to get motivated? What if we can take control and create motivation through our actions? What if we can get ourselves motivated by setting up the right conditions?

If you go beyond “accountability” and do meaningful work that inspires you everyday, wouldn’t you feel more driven? When you hear stories about successful entrepreneurs, you often get a sense of “inevitability” – they’re doing what they do not because of external circumstances but because of intrinsic drives.

They’re doing the work not because someone is cracking the whip. They’re driven to take meaningful actions everyday because something deeper is driving their actions and decisions. How can you set up the conditions so taking action becomes inevitable? How do you create meaningful work so you feel inspired and driven everyday?

Social entrepreneurship offers us many insights into how business, motivation and meaningful work come together to create successful enterprises. Successful social entrepreneurs are motivated by the impact and meaning they create through their businesses.

Here are 5 lessons on motivation we can learn from social entrepreneurs who build profitable ventures driven by their desires to make a difference in the world:

1. Set Intentional Goals

You’ve heard many times that you need to set clear goals. Unfortunately, many people focus too much on arbitrary metrics to measure success without fully considering whether those numbers are in alignment with what truly drives them.

To get motivated, you need to set goals with intention. Then track metrics that reflect the impact you want to achieve. You may have to challenge conventional wisdoms to set your own bar. You may have to devise innovative ways to measure success.

If you don’t find meaning behind the numbers, the sense of achievement becomes temporary. You can easily end up on the hamster wheel. The grind can wear you down and leave you feeling fatigue and unmotivated. On the other hand, achieving metrics that speak to a meaningful goal gives you the long-term positive feedback that’ll keep you motivated day-in-day-out.

2. Anchor In a Community

You can fuel your motivation by giving meaning to your venture within a larger context. Rachel Brathen’s 109 World is built on a global community of yoga enthusiasts, while Muhammad Yunus’s Grameen Bank transformed the economy of many third world communities through micro financing.

Instead of being product- or service-focused, turn your attention to the community you aim to serve and find a match between the needs of the market and your vision, skills, expertise or product idea.

You’ll gain inspiration to fuel your actions by listening to and interacting with your community. Such dialogues give you continual and meaningful input that helps you evolve in a meaningful direction.

When your business creates products and services relevant to your community, you get the positive feedback that’ll further motivate you to grow.

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” ― Mother Teresa

3. Give Meaning To Commercial Success

Meaningful venture and commercial success aren’t mutually exclusive. Blake Mycoskie’s TOMS Shoes and Gavin Armstrong’s Lucky Iron Fish are both profitable businesses born out of and still closely tied to a social cause.

These social enterprises are doing more good by using profits from a commercially successful venture to fuel a cause that motivates them. Putting meaning behind profit gives social entrepreneurs the positive feedback that encourages them to do more good because it’s an evidence of their impact.

More often than not, many social entrepreneurs gain clarity on what truly motivates them when they’re not constrained by funding. Such motivation can be more powerful than any financial factor.

4. Get Inspired By Real Live Experience

Many social entrepreneurs find the calling that motivates them to succeed after eye-opening travel experiences that cracked open their worlds and broadened their perspectives.

Scott Harrison of charity: water built his non-profit after a life-changing trip to West Africa. You don’t have to go to some remote, poverty-stricken countries to find your calling. You can discover more opportunities in your backyard than you’d ever imagine if you tune in, stay open, get involved and be relevant.

Look for motivation and find out what makes you tick by interacting with people and communities you care about. Understand their needs and map your skills and expertise to solving a problem that’ll make a difference in their lives.

Often times there’s no substitute for getting boots on the ground and find out how you can make an impact through participation and trial-and-error.

5. Tap Into Your Strength 

Understanding and applying your strength makes you effective. Instead of trying to be perfect in everything, do work that taps into your strength and you’ll find more passion in what you do.

When you focus your strength on high value activities toward a meaningful goal, you’ve a much better chance of creating successful results that gives you the positive feedback to further motivate you.

Success fuels confidence, and this confidence will keep you motivated to do what matters.

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places” – Ernest Hemingway

How are you going to find your motivation by setting the stage for meaningful actions? Leave a comment below!

Adam Force is the founder of Change Creator magazine app, which is designed to breathe new life into social entrepreneurship and help anyone crazy enough to shake up the system succeed!  Check out his free download to try the magazine for free, “Change Creator Magazine Starter Kit”.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Tim Denning

    Oct 28, 2016 at 5:48 am

    Great article Adam. Thanks for writing this piece!

    • Adam

      Oct 29, 2016 at 2:24 pm

      you’re welcome!! Thanks so much for having me.

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Entrepreneurs

3 Signs You Are Operating With Negative Energy as an Entrepreneur

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When you first think about becoming an entrepreneur you hear about how it won’t be easy and it’s going to take some time to make a profit, and you might even hear about how many ideas will fail before you actually get that one idea that will blow up and bring you the success that you are looking for.

After hearing all of that, you decided to start your entrepreneurial journey anyway. You climbed, you worked hard, you worked weekends, and holidays. You invested time, money, and sweat into your business. You also put systems in place that cost you a pretty penny and after all of that, nothing seemed to work.

So you did even more market research and you got a business coach and after all of that you still are not seeing the results you desire and now you are ready to throw in the towel. STOP! Don’t throw in the towel just yet! It might not be the systems, your message, or even your website, it just might be your energy.

Your energy will help to attract or repel people

There are five ways that will make your energy a repellent instead of a paying customer attraction. Your energy makes up a huge factor of what you bring to the table and it is not just about your attitude. Yes, your attitude plays a huge role but, there are also other factors that you need to know about as well. Your energy is the vibrational vibe that you are sending out to the world. We all have it but are you being intentional?

The only way you can be intentional is for you to understand how your energy works. Have you ever walked by someone or something and got the chills? You just knew something was not right. You may not have been able to tell exactly what it was but you knew it didn’t feel right to you so you just avoided that person or area.

“Reality is created by the mind, we can change our reality by changing our mind.”  Plato

What about when you think of someone and get butterflies in your stomach? We all could use some butterflies every now and then. That energy feels good right? It feels exciting and it gives you a sense of knowing that is pleasant that we wouldn’t mind experiencing again.

That is exactly what you can make people feel like before they even physically meet you or buy from you. Either you’re going to give them the chills or you’re going to give them butterflies. If you desire to give the people who you are supposed to be serving butterflies instead of chills, you’ve got to start focusing on your energy every single day. Getting your energy to the level that you want it to be to give you the results that you desire is a process that takes time that will eventually pay off.

Here are three of the five things that you can stop doing immediately to start seeing your energy give off the signals that you desire:

1. You not confronting the person in the mirror

In one place in your entrepreneurial journey or another, you dropped the ball, you neglected yourself, you gave into your fears, or worst, you quit. Have you apologized to yourself? Have you had that honest conversation with yourself telling yourself how what you did or didn’t do made you feel? If you haven’t yet had that conversation, have it, forgive yourself, and let it go! Holding on to the past only overloads your energy with negative energy so that there is no room for the positive energy that you desire to come through. The more often you do this the better. At the least, you should do this once a month.

2. You haven’t embraced your authentic self

The reason why you first started your entrepreneurial journey was because you were passionate about something. You were passionate about being your own boss, being a positive contributor to the world, and making lots of money while doing it and somehow during your journey, you lost who you were and what you were truly passionate about. You have to go on a journey back to self and embrace your authentic self. That is what your people that you haven’t found yet are attracted to and waiting for desire from you.

“Opportunities multiply as they are seized.” – Sun Tzu

3. You are not learning what life is teaching

There are different seasons for life just like there are different seasons in a calendar year. Are you aware what season of life you are in right now? If so, are you learning the lesson that you need to learn so that you won’t be in the negative energy of repeating the same cycles? If you are not being consciously aware of the seasons of when you are supposed to reflect, tear down, purge, and build then you are bound to repeat the cycle again.

There is a lot of work that goes into becoming a successful entrepreneur and at times it can really get discouraging. It may feel like you have tried everything and nothing seems to be giving you the break through that you desire. Before you throw in the towel or feel like a complete failure, try to shift your energy by doing the three things stated above.

How do you shift out of negativity? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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7 Tips for Learning Key Skills on the Fly as an Entrepreneur

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Starting your own company is undoubtedly one of the most exciting things you can do, but it is also one of the most challenging. From destructive personal habits to a lack of knowledge about how to properly run a business, there are many roadblocks that can keep you from achieving the success you so greatly desire.

The problem is, many people don’t have the time to enroll in additional business classes at school to learn these new skills. This is especially true of those who have already launched their startup and are now discovering that their skill set is somewhat lacking.

So how do you keep your lack of knowledge from bringing about a premature end to your entrepreneurial dreams? To achieve lasting success, you’ll have to develop the ability to learn these important skills “on the fly” as you simultaneously manage your company.

Here are 7 ways you can make this happen:

1. Leverage Failure

Failure is an unavoidable aspect of the business world. Even when you seem to have a great product and great team, failure is always a possibility. In fact, industries with the highest startup success rates still see 42 percent of new companies fail within their first four years of operation.

Though failure is hard, it is essential that you take a step back and assess why you failed. This allows you to gain key insights that will help you perform better in the future. As serial entrepreneur and investor Steve Tan recalls, “I’ve been involved in e-commerce since 2005. During that time, I’ve had four startups that went under. It was very hard — depressing, even, but I didn’t give up. By evaluating the reasons why my past efforts had failed, I was able to use these lessons to launch a company with my brother that now has an eight-figure annual revenue.”

2. Become a Self-Starter

Successful learners need to be self-motivated. As Jack Canfield explains, “World-class achievers don’t wait until external influences – such as a teacher, manager or boss, or new developments within an industry – force them to gain new skills or knowledge. They are self-motivated learners who are constantly looking for new ways to improve their performance and deepen their understanding of the world around them.”

To learn on the fly as an entrepreneur, you need to develop a desire to make active learning a key part of everything you do. This requires humility and self-awareness. An inner drive for improvement will help you be a more successful learner than if you were forced into change by external forces.

“Talent you have naturally. Skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft.” – Will Smith

3. Set Goals

Even if you’re self-motivated, it can be hard to maintain focus on learning activities when you have so many other entrepreneurial duties on your plate. Smart goal-setting is essential for keeping on track. If you want to learn more about social media marketing, creating a specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound goal will be far more effective than having a vague desire to learn.

Goal-setting gives you the tools to track your progress toward learning milestones. As you use smart goals to remain focused and committed to on the fly learning, you’ll be better positioned to achieve actual results.

4. Find the ‘Why’

If you don’t feel as motivated to learn, it can help to focus on the why. Why do you need to understand Facebook and other social media platforms? Why should you learn about supply chain management?

As you more closely examine how such issues impact your company’s bottom line, you can find the motivation you need to make learning a priority. When this happens, you’ll be more likely to constantly search for new learning opportunities, making it far easier to learn in a hectic environment.

5. Set Aside Time Every Day

When you have a busy schedule, it can be easy for certain activities to fall by the wayside. More often than not, if you don’t carve out some “learning time” in your calendar, there’s a good chance you’ll end the day without taking any time to learn at all.

While it’s true that many of the best entrepreneurial learning opportunities are entirely unstructured, setting aside a period of structured “study time” demonstrates a level of commitment that will help you keep on track with your learning goals. Even using as little as 15 minutes to read a how-to article or work on a learning project will pay big dividends over time.

6. Look for Structured Opportunities

You don’t have to sign up for a class at your local community college to gain access to expert knowledge. It’s easier than ever to find knowledgable, authoritative resources that will help you develop the skills necessary to keep your business on track. From articles published by other entrepreneurs to online courses, there are countless resources you can use — and many of them are completely free.

Professional conferences can be especially valuable. Industry-specific conferences often focus on the trends and skills that will have a direct impact on your startup’s success. Better yet, conferences also create valuable networking opportunities that can help you foster new growth opportunities.

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

7. Get Hands-On

To become a successful learner, you need to put aside any fears about “not knowing enough” and start practicing. Studies have found that students who learn by doing perform better than their peers. The same is true in the business world.

At the end of the day, nothing beats hands-on learning. If you’re trying to learn a new language so you can better communicate with your customers, you’ll learn much quicker as you practice speaking, rather than simply reading from a textbook. Personal engagement in the activity you are trying to master is the best bet for mastery.

As Jim Rohn famously said, “Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” To achieve lasting success, you have to become a learner. This requires that you examine what factors could keep you from reaching your ultimate goals and then take action to gain the skills and knowledge that will allow you to address these issues. As you strive to become a continual learner, you’ll cultivate the tools you need to become successful.

What new skill are you currently working on? Share with me in the comment section below!

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How to Know When to Move on From a Business Idea

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We all have “lightbulb” moments from time to time. As an entrepreneur, you’ve made your living off of turning these moments into business practices. Whatever the case, every idea has a lifespan. At some point, it’ll either work for you or it won’t. If it’s not working, then you need to know the right time to move on. Otherwise, you’ll pour your time and resources into a bottomless pit.

Sure, there’s something to be said for persistence, but sometimes persistence can just lead you further down the wrong path and cause you to bang your head against the wall. We’d like to help you prevent that!

Here are 4 signs that you should move on from a business idea:

1. You’ve Completely Lost Your Passion for It

You no longer have the fire you used to have for the idea. What started out as a passion has quickly dwindled to the point where everything about it feels like a chore. You can’t see yourself working in the industry or on the idea for much longer – and certainly not for the amount of time it’ll take for it to become a lasting success.

You can keep plowing forward and ignore this lost passion, but it’ll chip away at your happiness and start to sap your energy, even if it has the potential to become profitable.

“Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still.” – Henry David Thoreau

2. The Profit Margin is Too Low

Low profit margins create low margins for error. This becomes even more problematic when you’re dealing with tough competition in a potential “race to the bottom” of pricing. If the profit margin will be too low and you can’t figure out a way to increase it, perhaps through negotiation with potential vendors or cutting out some other part of the cost, then the idea may no longer be worth pursuing.

When calculating profit margin, make sure to calculate the net profit margin. This takes total sales and subtracts it by business expenses. Keep in mind that profit margins will vary from industry to industry.

3. You Can’t Validate It

If you struggle to validate your idea, it’s a sign that people probably don’t want or need it. For example, if you run Facebook ads to a landing page with an email opt-in to learn more about your idea, and it generates hardly any clicks, then people may not be interested.

You can try other mediums for testing and validating your idea. You can even try to “pre-sell” it, so that you get sales before you even move forward with creating it. But if all of your attempts see lackluster results, then listen to what the market is telling you. They don’t want your idea in its current state. You can either pivot and tweak your idea, or move on to something else. Because if you start pouring your resources into an idea like this, you’re bound to lose on that investment.

4. It’s Confusing

Can you easily explain your idea to potential customers and others in few sentences? If not, then it’s probably a little too confusing. Confusing ideas struggle to achieve large customer bases, because they struggle to invoke desire in customers. How can somebody want a product or service if they don’t understand what problem it solves, or what it actually does?

If your idea is confusing, you should work to simplify it and create an “elevator pitch”, then test it out by explaining it to people. If that still doesn’t work, then it may be time to move on to something else.

“Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.” – David Ogilvy

You shouldn’t take every idea and use it. Instead, you should realize when it’s time to move on from one idea so you can devote more resources to your next endeavor.  It’s hard to move on, especially if you’ve invested a lot into your idea. But if you see any of the signs we’ve listed here, then it’s time to move forward.

Have you ever had an idea you thought would be successful but you had to move on from it? Let us know in the comments below so we can all help each other push forward and succeed.

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Entrepreneurs

News Flash: Not Everyone Is Meant for Business

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I know you just read the title and might be chomping at the bit to give me a piece of your mind, but hold on. Before you get offended and tell me all the reasons why this doesn’t apply to you, let me start by explaining what I mean by the word “business.”

I consider “business” to be a commercial means of operations. This is about setting up processes and systems that consider the sustainability of the venture. Is there a supply chain? How much overhead is involved? What kind of consistency and regularity can you guarantee? These are all crucial factors.

A conventional business involves stakeholders, both internal and external. There is an assumed responsibility to not only keeping the bottom line healthy, but taking care of the varied factors (e.g., humans, machines, and cash flow) that directly impact its health. At the same time, there is the responsibility to be transparent and mindful with the external stakeholders such as clients and the community.

In short: Business = Sustainability and Responsibility. Take the bank for example. It has a variety of systems and processes in place to ensure that it will be there tomorrow, next week, next month, and so on. It has short-term targets with a long-term vision and a plan to get there.

It also takes responsibility for all of its moving parts (clients, employees, money) by having boundaries in place such as hourly work week limits. By not running its employees ragged, not only do they enjoy a better work-life balance but they are also less likely to accidentally make critical mistakes in client accounts.

Myth vs. Reality

On the surface, having your own business seems glamorous and prestigious. You work for yourself, you can determine your own business hours, and you reap most of the monetary benefits. However, it seems like everyone wants to open a business with the rewards in mind, ignoring the responsibilities and behind-the-scenes work involved.

This is why only 10% of startups succeed and the rest either barely break even or end up exhausted mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially. But if everyone isn’t meant for business, does this mean that the rest of us should live our lives working for others? No way!

Although not everyone may be “meant for business,” but everyone can conduct business… so long as they are crystal clear about what they want out of it. If you’d like the monetary rewards of a business but not all the responsibilities of operating one, then consider selling your expertise!

“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” – Steve Jobs

Alternatives

Consulting is the perfect way around the conventional business setup. A consultant helps other people with their businesses. They get paid to understand the ins and outs, and to tell others what to do to make operations run more efficiently. What are you an expert in? What are you passionate about? Consultants find work in areas from weddings to wine and also business!Another great route to take is to become an agent. The agent functions as a bridge between the demand and the supply: the clients looking for work and the businesses looking to hire. Their key responsibility is to facilitate or finalize the completion of a sale and, depending on the remunerative agreement, they can receive payment from one or even both parties.

The agent is in business, conducts a business, and does business. However, the agent doesn’t have the conventional form of a business, and they probably don’t want one.

Knowing What You Want

Take note of your strengths and weaknesses, and choose the path that works best for you. It may actually feel liberating to not start a conventional business when you know that the responsibilities involved are more than you can (or want to) handle.

So before jumping into business, determine the type of business model you want. Do you want to set-up a conventional one or one where you do more of a consultative role? With a full awareness of these things, you will be better able to create a career that you truly love and which loves you right back.

“When you know what you want, and want it bad enough, you will find a way to get it.” – Jim Rohn

To help you get clear on whether or not a conventional business is for you, I’ve created this short questionnaire (Rate from 1-5. 1 as a strong NO, 5 as a strong YES):

  • I prefer working alone to working in a team.
  • I prefer having my own hours and going away when I want to, sometimes disappearing for a month or so.
  • I dislike having a long-term vision for myself and breaking it down to short-term goals.
  • I enjoy doing several things at a time but I don’t like hustling all the time.
  • I hate structures, systems and strategies. I prefer to be in the flow.

If you score between 5-12, you may be defining “business” in the conventional form. Either you are suitable for being employed in a very stable and secure position, or you like having a business that takes sustainability into consideration.

If you score between 13-18, you are likely able to focus on both the short-term and long-term goals. It’s important for you to clearly define your “next level” goals, right down to the details of how much involvement you want to have in your career.

If you score between 19-25, you are probably more suited for a project-based platform rather than a conventional form of business. Instead of ongoing work you can consider launching programs or taking on projects on a singular basis, and efficiently capitalize on those endeavors.

Do you think you are made to start a business? Let us know your thoughts below!

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How to 10X the Likelihood of Completing Your Next Big Project

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According to Bob Proctor, you have a 95% chance of making personal change happen if you make a plan and set a specific time to share your progress with someone. At the opposite end of the spectrum, you only have a 10% chance of making a change if you say “that’s a good idea” to your next inspirational brain wave without doing anything else. (more…)

McVal Osborne is the author of Start Up your Life: Why we don’t know what we want, and how to set goals that really matter. McVal writes about motivation, decision making, and strategic thinking. He graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2011 with a degree in Spanish, and has since worked as a market researcher and business consultant in Washington D.C., New York City and London. You can reach him on Twitter @mcval or on IG @mcvaliant.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Tim Denning

    Oct 28, 2016 at 5:48 am

    Great article Adam. Thanks for writing this piece!

    • Adam

      Oct 29, 2016 at 2:24 pm

      you’re welcome!! Thanks so much for having me.

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Entrepreneurs

3 Signs You Are Operating With Negative Energy as an Entrepreneur

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negative energy
Image Credit: Twenty20.com

When you first think about becoming an entrepreneur you hear about how it won’t be easy and it’s going to take some time to make a profit, and you might even hear about how many ideas will fail before you actually get that one idea that will blow up and bring you the success that you are looking for.

After hearing all of that, you decided to start your entrepreneurial journey anyway. You climbed, you worked hard, you worked weekends, and holidays. You invested time, money, and sweat into your business. You also put systems in place that cost you a pretty penny and after all of that, nothing seemed to work.

So you did even more market research and you got a business coach and after all of that you still are not seeing the results you desire and now you are ready to throw in the towel. STOP! Don’t throw in the towel just yet! It might not be the systems, your message, or even your website, it just might be your energy.

Your energy will help to attract or repel people

There are five ways that will make your energy a repellent instead of a paying customer attraction. Your energy makes up a huge factor of what you bring to the table and it is not just about your attitude. Yes, your attitude plays a huge role but, there are also other factors that you need to know about as well. Your energy is the vibrational vibe that you are sending out to the world. We all have it but are you being intentional?

The only way you can be intentional is for you to understand how your energy works. Have you ever walked by someone or something and got the chills? You just knew something was not right. You may not have been able to tell exactly what it was but you knew it didn’t feel right to you so you just avoided that person or area.

“Reality is created by the mind, we can change our reality by changing our mind.”  Plato

What about when you think of someone and get butterflies in your stomach? We all could use some butterflies every now and then. That energy feels good right? It feels exciting and it gives you a sense of knowing that is pleasant that we wouldn’t mind experiencing again.

That is exactly what you can make people feel like before they even physically meet you or buy from you. Either you’re going to give them the chills or you’re going to give them butterflies. If you desire to give the people who you are supposed to be serving butterflies instead of chills, you’ve got to start focusing on your energy every single day. Getting your energy to the level that you want it to be to give you the results that you desire is a process that takes time that will eventually pay off.

Here are three of the five things that you can stop doing immediately to start seeing your energy give off the signals that you desire:

1. You not confronting the person in the mirror

In one place in your entrepreneurial journey or another, you dropped the ball, you neglected yourself, you gave into your fears, or worst, you quit. Have you apologized to yourself? Have you had that honest conversation with yourself telling yourself how what you did or didn’t do made you feel? If you haven’t yet had that conversation, have it, forgive yourself, and let it go! Holding on to the past only overloads your energy with negative energy so that there is no room for the positive energy that you desire to come through. The more often you do this the better. At the least, you should do this once a month.

2. You haven’t embraced your authentic self

The reason why you first started your entrepreneurial journey was because you were passionate about something. You were passionate about being your own boss, being a positive contributor to the world, and making lots of money while doing it and somehow during your journey, you lost who you were and what you were truly passionate about. You have to go on a journey back to self and embrace your authentic self. That is what your people that you haven’t found yet are attracted to and waiting for desire from you.

“Opportunities multiply as they are seized.” – Sun Tzu

3. You are not learning what life is teaching

There are different seasons for life just like there are different seasons in a calendar year. Are you aware what season of life you are in right now? If so, are you learning the lesson that you need to learn so that you won’t be in the negative energy of repeating the same cycles? If you are not being consciously aware of the seasons of when you are supposed to reflect, tear down, purge, and build then you are bound to repeat the cycle again.

There is a lot of work that goes into becoming a successful entrepreneur and at times it can really get discouraging. It may feel like you have tried everything and nothing seems to be giving you the break through that you desire. Before you throw in the towel or feel like a complete failure, try to shift your energy by doing the three things stated above.

How do you shift out of negativity? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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7 Tips for Learning Key Skills on the Fly as an Entrepreneur

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Image Credit: Unsplash

Starting your own company is undoubtedly one of the most exciting things you can do, but it is also one of the most challenging. From destructive personal habits to a lack of knowledge about how to properly run a business, there are many roadblocks that can keep you from achieving the success you so greatly desire.

The problem is, many people don’t have the time to enroll in additional business classes at school to learn these new skills. This is especially true of those who have already launched their startup and are now discovering that their skill set is somewhat lacking.

So how do you keep your lack of knowledge from bringing about a premature end to your entrepreneurial dreams? To achieve lasting success, you’ll have to develop the ability to learn these important skills “on the fly” as you simultaneously manage your company.

Here are 7 ways you can make this happen:

1. Leverage Failure

Failure is an unavoidable aspect of the business world. Even when you seem to have a great product and great team, failure is always a possibility. In fact, industries with the highest startup success rates still see 42 percent of new companies fail within their first four years of operation.

Though failure is hard, it is essential that you take a step back and assess why you failed. This allows you to gain key insights that will help you perform better in the future. As serial entrepreneur and investor Steve Tan recalls, “I’ve been involved in e-commerce since 2005. During that time, I’ve had four startups that went under. It was very hard — depressing, even, but I didn’t give up. By evaluating the reasons why my past efforts had failed, I was able to use these lessons to launch a company with my brother that now has an eight-figure annual revenue.”

2. Become a Self-Starter

Successful learners need to be self-motivated. As Jack Canfield explains, “World-class achievers don’t wait until external influences – such as a teacher, manager or boss, or new developments within an industry – force them to gain new skills or knowledge. They are self-motivated learners who are constantly looking for new ways to improve their performance and deepen their understanding of the world around them.”

To learn on the fly as an entrepreneur, you need to develop a desire to make active learning a key part of everything you do. This requires humility and self-awareness. An inner drive for improvement will help you be a more successful learner than if you were forced into change by external forces.

“Talent you have naturally. Skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft.” – Will Smith

3. Set Goals

Even if you’re self-motivated, it can be hard to maintain focus on learning activities when you have so many other entrepreneurial duties on your plate. Smart goal-setting is essential for keeping on track. If you want to learn more about social media marketing, creating a specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound goal will be far more effective than having a vague desire to learn.

Goal-setting gives you the tools to track your progress toward learning milestones. As you use smart goals to remain focused and committed to on the fly learning, you’ll be better positioned to achieve actual results.

4. Find the ‘Why’

If you don’t feel as motivated to learn, it can help to focus on the why. Why do you need to understand Facebook and other social media platforms? Why should you learn about supply chain management?

As you more closely examine how such issues impact your company’s bottom line, you can find the motivation you need to make learning a priority. When this happens, you’ll be more likely to constantly search for new learning opportunities, making it far easier to learn in a hectic environment.

5. Set Aside Time Every Day

When you have a busy schedule, it can be easy for certain activities to fall by the wayside. More often than not, if you don’t carve out some “learning time” in your calendar, there’s a good chance you’ll end the day without taking any time to learn at all.

While it’s true that many of the best entrepreneurial learning opportunities are entirely unstructured, setting aside a period of structured “study time” demonstrates a level of commitment that will help you keep on track with your learning goals. Even using as little as 15 minutes to read a how-to article or work on a learning project will pay big dividends over time.

6. Look for Structured Opportunities

You don’t have to sign up for a class at your local community college to gain access to expert knowledge. It’s easier than ever to find knowledgable, authoritative resources that will help you develop the skills necessary to keep your business on track. From articles published by other entrepreneurs to online courses, there are countless resources you can use — and many of them are completely free.

Professional conferences can be especially valuable. Industry-specific conferences often focus on the trends and skills that will have a direct impact on your startup’s success. Better yet, conferences also create valuable networking opportunities that can help you foster new growth opportunities.

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

7. Get Hands-On

To become a successful learner, you need to put aside any fears about “not knowing enough” and start practicing. Studies have found that students who learn by doing perform better than their peers. The same is true in the business world.

At the end of the day, nothing beats hands-on learning. If you’re trying to learn a new language so you can better communicate with your customers, you’ll learn much quicker as you practice speaking, rather than simply reading from a textbook. Personal engagement in the activity you are trying to master is the best bet for mastery.

As Jim Rohn famously said, “Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” To achieve lasting success, you have to become a learner. This requires that you examine what factors could keep you from reaching your ultimate goals and then take action to gain the skills and knowledge that will allow you to address these issues. As you strive to become a continual learner, you’ll cultivate the tools you need to become successful.

What new skill are you currently working on? Share with me in the comment section below!

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Entrepreneurs

How to Know When to Move on From a Business Idea

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We all have “lightbulb” moments from time to time. As an entrepreneur, you’ve made your living off of turning these moments into business practices. Whatever the case, every idea has a lifespan. At some point, it’ll either work for you or it won’t. If it’s not working, then you need to know the right time to move on. Otherwise, you’ll pour your time and resources into a bottomless pit.

Sure, there’s something to be said for persistence, but sometimes persistence can just lead you further down the wrong path and cause you to bang your head against the wall. We’d like to help you prevent that!

Here are 4 signs that you should move on from a business idea:

1. You’ve Completely Lost Your Passion for It

You no longer have the fire you used to have for the idea. What started out as a passion has quickly dwindled to the point where everything about it feels like a chore. You can’t see yourself working in the industry or on the idea for much longer – and certainly not for the amount of time it’ll take for it to become a lasting success.

You can keep plowing forward and ignore this lost passion, but it’ll chip away at your happiness and start to sap your energy, even if it has the potential to become profitable.

“Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still.” – Henry David Thoreau

2. The Profit Margin is Too Low

Low profit margins create low margins for error. This becomes even more problematic when you’re dealing with tough competition in a potential “race to the bottom” of pricing. If the profit margin will be too low and you can’t figure out a way to increase it, perhaps through negotiation with potential vendors or cutting out some other part of the cost, then the idea may no longer be worth pursuing.

When calculating profit margin, make sure to calculate the net profit margin. This takes total sales and subtracts it by business expenses. Keep in mind that profit margins will vary from industry to industry.

3. You Can’t Validate It

If you struggle to validate your idea, it’s a sign that people probably don’t want or need it. For example, if you run Facebook ads to a landing page with an email opt-in to learn more about your idea, and it generates hardly any clicks, then people may not be interested.

You can try other mediums for testing and validating your idea. You can even try to “pre-sell” it, so that you get sales before you even move forward with creating it. But if all of your attempts see lackluster results, then listen to what the market is telling you. They don’t want your idea in its current state. You can either pivot and tweak your idea, or move on to something else. Because if you start pouring your resources into an idea like this, you’re bound to lose on that investment.

4. It’s Confusing

Can you easily explain your idea to potential customers and others in few sentences? If not, then it’s probably a little too confusing. Confusing ideas struggle to achieve large customer bases, because they struggle to invoke desire in customers. How can somebody want a product or service if they don’t understand what problem it solves, or what it actually does?

If your idea is confusing, you should work to simplify it and create an “elevator pitch”, then test it out by explaining it to people. If that still doesn’t work, then it may be time to move on to something else.

“Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.” – David Ogilvy

You shouldn’t take every idea and use it. Instead, you should realize when it’s time to move on from one idea so you can devote more resources to your next endeavor.  It’s hard to move on, especially if you’ve invested a lot into your idea. But if you see any of the signs we’ve listed here, then it’s time to move forward.

Have you ever had an idea you thought would be successful but you had to move on from it? Let us know in the comments below so we can all help each other push forward and succeed.

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Entrepreneurs

News Flash: Not Everyone Is Meant for Business

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I know you just read the title and might be chomping at the bit to give me a piece of your mind, but hold on. Before you get offended and tell me all the reasons why this doesn’t apply to you, let me start by explaining what I mean by the word “business.”

I consider “business” to be a commercial means of operations. This is about setting up processes and systems that consider the sustainability of the venture. Is there a supply chain? How much overhead is involved? What kind of consistency and regularity can you guarantee? These are all crucial factors.

A conventional business involves stakeholders, both internal and external. There is an assumed responsibility to not only keeping the bottom line healthy, but taking care of the varied factors (e.g., humans, machines, and cash flow) that directly impact its health. At the same time, there is the responsibility to be transparent and mindful with the external stakeholders such as clients and the community.

In short: Business = Sustainability and Responsibility. Take the bank for example. It has a variety of systems and processes in place to ensure that it will be there tomorrow, next week, next month, and so on. It has short-term targets with a long-term vision and a plan to get there.

It also takes responsibility for all of its moving parts (clients, employees, money) by having boundaries in place such as hourly work week limits. By not running its employees ragged, not only do they enjoy a better work-life balance but they are also less likely to accidentally make critical mistakes in client accounts.

Myth vs. Reality

On the surface, having your own business seems glamorous and prestigious. You work for yourself, you can determine your own business hours, and you reap most of the monetary benefits. However, it seems like everyone wants to open a business with the rewards in mind, ignoring the responsibilities and behind-the-scenes work involved.

This is why only 10% of startups succeed and the rest either barely break even or end up exhausted mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially. But if everyone isn’t meant for business, does this mean that the rest of us should live our lives working for others? No way!

Although not everyone may be “meant for business,” but everyone can conduct business… so long as they are crystal clear about what they want out of it. If you’d like the monetary rewards of a business but not all the responsibilities of operating one, then consider selling your expertise!

“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” – Steve Jobs

Alternatives

Consulting is the perfect way around the conventional business setup. A consultant helps other people with their businesses. They get paid to understand the ins and outs, and to tell others what to do to make operations run more efficiently. What are you an expert in? What are you passionate about? Consultants find work in areas from weddings to wine and also business!Another great route to take is to become an agent. The agent functions as a bridge between the demand and the supply: the clients looking for work and the businesses looking to hire. Their key responsibility is to facilitate or finalize the completion of a sale and, depending on the remunerative agreement, they can receive payment from one or even both parties.

The agent is in business, conducts a business, and does business. However, the agent doesn’t have the conventional form of a business, and they probably don’t want one.

Knowing What You Want

Take note of your strengths and weaknesses, and choose the path that works best for you. It may actually feel liberating to not start a conventional business when you know that the responsibilities involved are more than you can (or want to) handle.

So before jumping into business, determine the type of business model you want. Do you want to set-up a conventional one or one where you do more of a consultative role? With a full awareness of these things, you will be better able to create a career that you truly love and which loves you right back.

“When you know what you want, and want it bad enough, you will find a way to get it.” – Jim Rohn

To help you get clear on whether or not a conventional business is for you, I’ve created this short questionnaire (Rate from 1-5. 1 as a strong NO, 5 as a strong YES):

  • I prefer working alone to working in a team.
  • I prefer having my own hours and going away when I want to, sometimes disappearing for a month or so.
  • I dislike having a long-term vision for myself and breaking it down to short-term goals.
  • I enjoy doing several things at a time but I don’t like hustling all the time.
  • I hate structures, systems and strategies. I prefer to be in the flow.

If you score between 5-12, you may be defining “business” in the conventional form. Either you are suitable for being employed in a very stable and secure position, or you like having a business that takes sustainability into consideration.

If you score between 13-18, you are likely able to focus on both the short-term and long-term goals. It’s important for you to clearly define your “next level” goals, right down to the details of how much involvement you want to have in your career.

If you score between 19-25, you are probably more suited for a project-based platform rather than a conventional form of business. Instead of ongoing work you can consider launching programs or taking on projects on a singular basis, and efficiently capitalize on those endeavors.

Do you think you are made to start a business? Let us know your thoughts below!

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