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6 Common Stages You Will Go Through When Becoming An Entrepreneur

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6 Common Stages You Will Go Through Becoming An Entrepreneur

Have you crossed that bridge yet? The one where you walk over to the entrepreneurial side (we’ve got cookies!)?

Or are you still looking at the wobbliness of the bridge itself? And at how crazy wild that river below is…And at all the alligators there waiting to get you…And you are still not risking it even though you can see the unicorns prance in fields of 4-leaved clovers and double rainbows stretch as far as the eye can see on the other side?

Ai, that sucks! But…it’s perfectly normal to be afraid of that giant step!

In fact, there are 6 stages that most people taking the leap from a steady job to entrepreneurialism go through:

 

Stage 1: Where you experience a nagging, gnawing knowing of something you’d rather didn’t

This is what happened to me; I was building the career I had always set out for myself. A career that included regular promotions, valuable lessons, great peers to work with and the accompanying great pay and car.

But, I also felt like I was continuously fighting political windmills and had to drag myself to work everyday even though on the outside everything looked just fine and dandy.

That’s when it started to dawn on me that this type of career was making me unhappy. But as it was all I knew and had ever wanted, I didn’t do anything about it for a long time and ended up (almost) burning myself out.

“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore” – William Faulkner

Stage 2: Where you’re afraid of the void

But this was my life. This was all built on the studies I had done. This was what my friends were doing. What was the alternative?

Slowly it came to me that freelancing might give me the freedom I so longed for (I know, not ‘proper’ entrepreneuring perhaps but still…big change!). But instead of already smelling the freedom, all I saw was a big black whole of nothingness (mainly money) coming up ahead and all I felt was a big swirling fear in my stomach.

 

Stage 3: Where you come up with a million excuses to NOT do it

Even though rationally I knew I could do this, and even though I really really wanted to do this, I still had a ton of reasons why this was such a bad idea:

  • I believed that deep down I wasn’t good at my job (hellooo impostor syndrome!).
  • I believed that because I have a non-traditional way of looking at a business, no company would ever want to hire me.
  • I believed that I had to do traditional sales stuff to get myself hired and I was totally allergic to that!

 

Belief systems…sigh…so useless!

“The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer” – Nolan Bushnell

Stage 4: When it becomes undeniably clear that things need to change

So after a terribly long stint of being unhappy in my work, and therefore my life, I was ‘lucky’ enough to fall into a corporate reorganisation and that management had decided something that went way beyond what I felt was acceptable.

Through this, I finally got to that point where I could say to myself: NO MORE!

Ah, how liberating it felt to say NO to that what I didn’t think was acceptable.

Really, without that, I couldn’t have done it and finding my ‘NO’ is still pretty much the foundation from which I work and live.

Because when your NO is clear…everything else simply becomes opportunity!

 

Stage 5: Where you can finally see the puzzle pieces come together

It was a good friend and mentor of mine who helped me figure this out. I was complaining on how I would definitely go bankrupt and this was his reply:

Him: “Imagine a worst case scenario where you go bankrupt and have to give all your possessions to the bank: would that kill you?”

Me: “No, it’s all Ikea, Zara and thrifted anyway…”

Him: “Okay, so in that scenario, would you be able to walk the 20 kilometres from your place to mine?”

Me: “Sure!”

Him: “Would you be willing to work in my restaurant whilst sleeping on your brothers couch?”

Me: “Of course”

Him: “And will you then be able to save money for a ticket to Indonesia where you could probably find a diveschool where you could work as a divemaster (I love Indonesia and diving obviously) and business coach for food and lodgings?”

Me: “Euhm…well…probably…”

Him: “So if that’s your very worst case scenario…what are you complaining about?”

Me: “Euhm…nothing??? Damn…”

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Stage 6: Where you take the plunge and start attracting opportunity

So I quit!

Two weeks later I had an amazingly well paid freelance job that gave me the financial opportunity to help my brother build his start up for 2 years AND still have enough resources to take another plunge for myself with my own business.

Now whether I got lucky or whether it was just the universe lining up exactly what I deserved for choosing myself (btw, definitely check out James Altuchers’ book on this!), I don’t know. And it doesn’t even matter!

I can only tell you that it felt really good to be there for myself. Still does!

And no, it’s not all unicorns and rainbows on the entrepreneurial side.

But it is freedom

And passion

And a rollercoaster ride that continues to keep me smiling…

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

So if you feel like you’re on that edge and that that first step is just too big remember that this is normal.

You can take all the time you need to go through your own stages, but, don’t lose that vision of where you want to go.

Also remember do not ever accept the unacceptable.


Your happiness depends on it!

Linda Coussement is a life coach, writer and documentary maker. She’s slowly travelling the world asking all sorts of people: “How is it to be you?” Get her 10-page workbook on how to turn your dreams into practical reality right here and/or connect with her on Facebook.

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31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. Nancy cripe

    Dec 5, 2015 at 6:03 am

    Spot on! I also went through each of these phases and made the jump 6 weeks ago. My first 6 weeks with out pay since high school. No regrets.

  2. Neha Singh

    Aug 13, 2015 at 10:31 am

    Great Article Lawrence! You have put together the points so well and convincingly. I truly believe that perseverance is one of the most important quality of being successful as an entrepreneur. And, you covered it so well in point #3 where you talk about excuses!

    • Linda Coussement

      Aug 14, 2015 at 5:36 am

      Thanks Neha that’s really kind (though it’s me, Linda, who’s written the article and not Lawrence) 🙂

  3. Ramesh

    Jul 6, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    Hi Linda,

    Great post. Bang on! I can relate to this completely. I have gone thru these stages myself .. taken the plunge ..currently in stage 6.
    In the end .. all I can say is overcoming your fears is the beginning.

    Regards,

  4. Online money maker system

    May 27, 2015 at 8:06 am

    Valuable information. Fortunate me I found your site accidentally, and I’m shocked why
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  5. Mark Tong

    May 15, 2015 at 7:43 am

    Hi Linda
    The stages you describe really rang true to me in all the entrepreneurial enterprises I’ve tried (and am trying!). And none of this worked for me until I went after the opportunity I REALLY wanted, not the one I thought I SHOULD go for.

  6. Quinn Eurich

    May 14, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    I keep telling #5 to myself (sans the whole diving thing) over and over again, because it’s so true!

    Great job Linda! Always a pleasure to read someone who’s been there and done it!

  7. Jamie

    May 8, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    You make it seem less scary! Yes, being an entrepreneur is tough, but it is tougher to live with the regret of not ever trying it! If at first you don’t succeed….

  8. Lynn

    May 8, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    Hi Linda,

    What an insightful post and timely post. A friend is right in stages #2 and #3 so I’ve sent this along to him for a read and hopefully it’s the inspiration he needs!

    • Linda Coussement

      May 8, 2015 at 6:10 pm

      Ahw thanks Lynn! I hope he makes it through to the next stages soon!

  9. Faigie

    May 8, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    I just read the latest INC magazine and in it they interviewed some really successfull young entreupeneur who said they ALL feel like imposters…so you’re in good company 🙂

    • Linda Coussement

      May 10, 2015 at 7:26 am

      haha, that’s good to know and a great topic for my next blogpost actually 🙂

  10. Ann

    May 8, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    The article is spot-on! Anyone going through change experiences those points. I relate to #3.

  11. Rob

    May 8, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    Linda- This is a great post. In my experience, a lot of the crippling fear comes from lack of clarity about how to proceed forward. The entrepreneur isn’t sure the idea is good enough and isn’t sure how to find out.

    • Linda Coussement

      May 10, 2015 at 7:28 am

      Yes that’s what I figured out just the other day too Rob!

  12. Therese Sibon

    May 8, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    wow … so my crazy is NORMAL? And of course – making steps to change your life is not guaranteed success – but it will guarantee movement which engenders change. As you so beautifully wrote – the decision lines up the universe as a support system.

  13. Angela

    May 8, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    So many of us experience this! Thanks for helping us feel less alone. And this quote is my new mantra: Because when your NO is clear…everything else simply becomes opportunity!

    • Linda Coussement

      May 10, 2015 at 7:27 am

      You’re right, I might just make stickers with that mantra and hand them out to coachees 🙂

  14. John Anderson

    May 8, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    I feel like I hit all six stages at once. 🙂 Thank you for writing this wonderful post Linda.

    • Linda Coussement

      May 10, 2015 at 7:29 am

      Wow, that must feel like an emotional tsunami for you! The best of luck with it and thanks for the compliment!

  15. Kim

    May 8, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    I think this scenario is probably way more common than we even think it is. It’s a scary thing and while it would be great if we woke up one day with the aha moment and the “Yes, this is the day,” feeling, in the end however we get there is good. Thank you. This resonated with me.

    • Linda Coussement

      May 8, 2015 at 6:11 pm

      You’re welcome! I would indeed love to wake up to that feeling but unfortunately, we have to create that feeling for ourselves and not just sit around and wait for it to happen!

  16. Helen McCarthy

    May 8, 2015 at 11:44 am

    Thanks Linda for expressing what many of us who change tack feel. Great article.

    • Linda Coussement

      May 8, 2015 at 11:54 am

      Thanks for the compliment Helen! Change is scary and great at the same time, but in the end it’s the only way to move forward!

  17. Ethan

    May 8, 2015 at 10:01 am

    Hey Lawrence, you nailed it.

    All these stages seem to have an underlying fear. (Or is it the image?) It may be wrong, but this fear is what pushes entrepreneur hopefuls to actually act.

    I must admit reading this got me some chills.

    Very inspiring. Thank you!

    • Linda Coussement

      May 8, 2015 at 11:58 am

      I’m sorry to give you chills but I’m taking it as a compliment 🙂
      Yes, fear is the entrepreneurs’ biggest hurdle, no matter what stage he/she is at! But it’s also the hurdle they’re willing to cross time and again because they know that they will profit from it, personally AND business wise.

  18. Linda Coussement

    May 8, 2015 at 9:58 am

    Thanks Lawrence! And yes, the unknown is indeed where most of our fears come from, which is funny because technically there’s not really anything to be scared of. I’m happy you made it to the other side and thank you for sharing!

  19. Chandraka

    May 8, 2015 at 4:25 am

    Absolutely amazing article. I want the writer to know that he has honestly helped someone make a huge decision. My story is very very similar to yours. Right after highschool I went straight to university and studied finance and went straight to work at a bank.

    It was all I knew and studied and wanted to go far in the bank. But I hated going to work everyday, hated it. I never had that excitement to get up in the morning. Like when your younger you get a new video game, you are so excited to start your day. I only had the feeling of dread going to work. But on the outside I was happy and I worked hard and was quite successful. Going in to my fifth year, I was feeling I needed to make big changes.

    I’m from another country and had an opportunity to start a business with my sister and her boyfriend in this foreign country. I was able to start the business while still working as he lived in the foreign country and we would ship various items for export where we are. This business has a chance for great success but to get it there, I need to be there and be more hands on.

    I was contemplating leaving my job at end of the year but during the middle of the year, a general manager at my bank who coincidentally was from the same foreign country offered me a serious promotion and an opportunity to learn from the best at their craft. This threw a serious curveball since I couldn’t leave and get this business off the ground if I took on this promotion.

    I’ve been thinking for a week what to do. Do I want this promotion and live a safe life or chase my wildest dreams and operate a successful business in a beautiful country and be able to travel more. It’s scary decision but your article has helped me to turn down the position. I already was most likely going to say no but this has helped. This incident has actually expedited the process and I will be leaving in a few months instead of at the end of the year

    • Linda Coussement

      May 8, 2015 at 12:02 pm

      Wow Chandraka, that really made my day!

      I’m so happy for you that you were able to make this decision and follow your heart and I’m happy for me that I was able to share this personal story (which was scary in itself) so that you could be inspired.

      If you ever get another bout of the shivers come find me on http://www.fromstartuptogrowup.com for a chat!

      All the best on your amazing adventure!

  20. Lawrence Berry

    May 8, 2015 at 2:30 am

    This is a great article, because it shares with others the tough road to taking a leap of faith into the unknown. I experienced the same things you have mentioned here, and I think the biggest thing that hold people back from entrepreneurship or chasing what they really want in life is the fear of the unknown. When traveling down a path less traveled its very scary but it takes a person to reach a breakthrough to change.

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Entrepreneurs

5 Reasons Your Business Is Failing and How to Relight the Fire Under You

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Are you stuck in a rut with your business or your life? Are you wondering what could be causing this feeling of being stuck? It’s so common for people in this day and age to feel comfortable, and stop pushing themselves, so how do we jumpstart our lives and get moving again?

Here are 5 steps to help light a fire under you, and get you moving towards your goals again:

1. Lack of Vision

Before you started your business, it was just an idea, a thought in your head that seemed impossible. As you put time and effort into this idea, it was within reach, and now you have it. But what happens next? You made it to where you wanted to and now there is nowhere else to go. This is not true though because although you have reached your vision, it doesn’t mean you can’t think even bigger.

A lot of businesses stop growing because the people who run them don’t know what to do after they reach their goals. Instead of being happy you reached your goal, set new ones. Think bigger until your company has reached a level that you are comfortable leaving and letting someone else run it.

2. Lack of Why

Do you remember why you started your company? If not, how do you think you can keep your company moving forward? Start by thinking back to when you first started your business and try to remember why you wanted to start. Now that you have your original reasons for starting the company, check off how many of those you fulfilled and how many you can still work on.

Now think with everything that your business has given you, what do you want your business to stand for moving forward? Do you want your company to make you money, make a difference, or change the world? Whatever you want your company to be doing, as long as you have a reason for keeping your company going.

“The purpose of life is a life of purpose.” – Robert Byrne

3. No Accountability

Do you have a ton of good ideas but can never follow through? Perhaps, you aren’t being held accountable! You need to follow through with what you say. If you continuously say you are going to expand your business, network, or even something as small as getting employees lunch and don’t do it, no one is going to trust your word. If people can’t trust your word, how can they trust your business to get the job done? Start by getting an accountability buddy, coach, or even setting consequences for yourself.

4. Low Standards

People can have low standards in almost everything; places to live, relationships, and even business. If you can’t hold your product, customer service, and reputation to a certain standard, people won’t want to work with you or buy your products. Why would you want to go somewhere, or work with someone, who doesn’t hold themselves to a standard that reflects their work ethic?  

Having low standards can be a symptom of a lack of vision as well. When you can’t imagine what you want your business to look like, how can you hold yourself to a higher standard? So We can hold ourselves to a higher standard by knowing what our time is worth and realizing how much we are investing into a product or client.

If you are spending an hour on something, will your hour be worth 10 dollars or 100? How much effort you put into that specific project will reflect how much you get out of it thus as you understand the value of your time, your standards will rise.

5. No Passion or Pain

What pushes your business?  Are you driven by your passion, or are you being pushed by the pain or pressure? When we are put under pressure, it is amazing what people can do, and when people are passionate about something, many put as much as they can into what they are working on.

Yet, when we start to get comfortable or start to lose the passion we once had, we start to stand still. We begin to not move forward, so why would our business move forward?

Reigniting your passion can be tricky. Try and remember what gave you the initial push to start your passion, and consider what you are passionate about now. Putting the pressure on is as simple as setting a goal, calling up your accountability buddy and setting real consequences for yourself.

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” – Henry Ford

Will you let your business sit stagnant any longer, or will you reinvent your vision, find a why, hold yourself accountable, raise your standards, and reignite your passions? Getting your business and your life to move forward is something that you have to put effort into every day. If you want to succeed, you will have to keep pushing yourself and move forward every day.

How do you push yourself in tough times? Let us know by commenting below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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5 Commandments You Need to Follow to Build Your Freelance Business

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For all the freelancers reading this article right now, there are some steps to success you can take to create a profitable freelance company for yourself.

Being a freelancer comes with many perks. You get to enjoy the freedom of working from home all while setting your own schedule. You also get to pick your own clients and choose your desired rate of pay. Freelancing is a beautiful thing, especially when you’re the go-to expert in your industry.

While some freelancers can expect a feast or famine type of business model – where you’re making great money one month and not so great the next – there are certain tasks you should take upon yourself to ensure your success each month.

If you want to build your freelance business, these are the 5 commandments you should be focused on:

1. Acquire Testimonials After Every Job

What’s your most important job? It’s the one where your last customer was so happy they told people about you. Knowing this, each job should be equally important in your business. When you perform outstanding work for a client, don’t be shy, ask for a testimonial.

Have a page set up on your website where they can tell the world how great you are. If you don’t have a page specifically set up for this, you can grab these testimonials in different ways.

You already know testimonials are an important aspect of your business. However, what you may not know is how powerful word of mouth is for your company. A study done in 2014 revealed an astounding 75% of freelance jobs comes from word of mouth.

Your client has colleagues and friends they can share your greatness with. Every successful freelancer will glean these testimonials from their clients and make sure to refer their friends and co-workers back to their business.

2. Be Available As Much As Possible

You want to get the jobs you want? Be there when they come available. Aside from word of mouth and grabbing jobs from the people you know, you can also create expertise about yourself in freelance platforms like Upwork, oDesk, Freelancer, and others like this.

There are always places to go to find jobs online. Not only should you be available for more work to fill your time with, you should also remember the clients you still have and make yourself available for their needs as well. It’s important to keep your current clients happy and when they need you for a rush job, make sure you are there for them.

“A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.” – Michael LeBoeuf

3. Be a Communication Machine

Not only should you make yourself available, you should also make yourself accessible. It’s no fun for your clients to have to track you down in order to get an update or ask for more work to be done.

Nathan Hirsch, co-founder and CEO of the FreeeUp freelancer hiring marketplace, says one of the reasons most freelancers lose jobs is because the freelancer was nowhere to be found. It’s important to remember to share every contact detail you have with your clients so you both can work well together.

Successful freelancers have these tools in their portfolio:

  • WhatsApp
  • Viber
  • Skype
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Slack
  • Asana
  • ClearVoice

With a mix of communication tools at your disposal, even if you’re away from your desk, your client should still be able to get your attention within the span of 30 minutes or less.

4. Extend Your Expertise Through Others

While most freelancers are happy with keeping busy with the clients they have, freelancers who want to build their businesses will take advantage of every talent they come across.

For example, you may be an expert in the social marketing industry, but you keep getting stray clients from the search engine optimization industry. Just because you don’t have the expertise to complete the job doesn’t mean you have to send them away since you can use other freelancers. This is where contracting work comes into play and it can help your overall reach in your business.

Over time, you will come into contact with other freelancers who have multiple talents you do not have yourself. When a job comes your way in which you have no experience in, reach out to someone who does and split the profits.

While this is a whole different ball game for freelancers to pursue, it can become very lucrative if you understand what to do. First, build a community of freelance experts. You can do this easily by setting up a Facebook group. I personally set up a freelance writing group on Facebook and, in the span of 2 months, have added 3,000+ new writers into the space. Here we discuss best strategies, recommend our friends for freelance jobs, and make each other better through discussion.

5. Stay On Track With Taxes

I know this isn’t something you want to think about at the moment, but in April it will come up again. It’s relevant to have something in place to help you regulate the money which you have acquired over the past year with your freelance business.

99designs explains how the government will be taking a percentage of your income out in taxes. In order to prepare for this, they have wisely suggested putting back your governmental portion each month in a savings.

You have to run your freelance operations like a business. While taking care of taxes and fees aren’t something you dream of doing, it is something you need to adjust for because the time will come to pay the piper and you must be prepared.

Take some time and research other tax preparations for freelancers so you won’t be caught with any surprises at the end of the year. In fact, this part plays a huge role in building your freelance company. You want to be able to have a working budget after the government takes their part.

Are You Ready?

In order to create a profitable freelance business you need to be able to stand on the foundational principles of those freelancers who have gone before you and succeeded. This, and your own creativity and imagination can push you towards your goals of success. Don’t fall trap to the “always famine” idea of a freelancer by using these 5 commandments to nurture your business model.

What are some ways you have built your business? Let us know by commenting below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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3 Ways You Can Create the Right Relationships for Your Business

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If you’re an entrepreneur who has a business online, I would wager one of the most thought about strategies you delve on daily is how to make your business successful.

This is the common denominator which connects us all, no matter what niche you have chosen, or what your target audience is. We are all striving for success. Knowing this, while there are many strategies which make us different, the one which connects us all in business is the power of building relationships.

A great relationship built on behalf of your company could mean sparking the interest of a brand ambassador, a bridge to a new group of clients, or a killer recommendation. The potential of building relationships are to the moon and back, and I would wager you already know this.

But what you might not know is there are “right” relationships you could be building for your brand. Do you understand the differences? Relationship marketing is a time old tradition which has been profited on by many smart entrepreneurs. The one’s who succeeded understood how to determine which relationships were the right relationships to pursue.

For this article, I sat down with Moshik Raccah, Founder and CEO of Silo, a networking and relationship building platform which allows you to share your expertise with new friends and establish a great first impression for your business.

Here are the 3 ways he explained you can in which you can create the right environment to build a powerful relationship for your business:

1. Communicate Frequently

One of the foundational principles every business owner must understand is the power of communication when it comes to building relationships.

Mr. Raccah explained when you are at the potential person’s top of mind with whom you want to build a relationship with, they are more likely to remember you. Consequently, building a top notch relationship doesn’t happen overnight, and some people get this part wrong, even though they DO communicate.

More often than not, their communication comes in the form of an email or message asking you to share their article or hire them for some kind of expertise they say they have.

Honestly, you hardly ever bite do you? One of the reasons you don’t is because you don’t know, like, or trust this person. Frequent communication where this person congregates is your best option. While you may not be speaking to them directly, perhaps someone has asked a question on their social media post in which you can answer.

It’s little things like these which allow the person in question to remember who you are when the time comes to reach out and make an introduction or an offer to help them personally.

“Be genuinely interested in everyone you meet and everyone you meet will be genuinely interested in you” – Rasheed Ogunlaru

2. Develop Mutual Respect

As a business owner, it’s easy to fall into the trap of always wanting people to do something for you. Naturally, you want your business to become successful and if you’re not moving forward, it may feel like you’re sliding backward.

In this scenario, Mr. Raccah says in order to create a great business relationship you have to have mutual respect for your colleague. Unless someone is referred to you by a trusted business associate, this portion of relationship building can take some time to develop.

For them to have trust and respect for you, and you for them, it takes time to prove ourselves over and over in the business world. In any case, if you’re trying to build relationships for the right reasons in your business, you will learn that consistency is the only tool you will need to accomplish this aspect.

Lend a helping hand which has nothing to do with your business success. What happens when someone develops trust in you? More than likely, you have proven yourself trustworthy over and over again. To establish this, you must be willing to help someone else build their business.

This also falls into the Reciprocity Theory developed by Robert Cialdini, where he shares how doing favors for others will, in turn, create favors for your business because the person feels compelled to return the favor to you.

To develop mutual respect means you have to learn to give a lot and take a little over time. This could even mean you know someone who would click perfectly with another colleague of yours. Make the referral and share the relationship. You never know who is friends with someone that could propel your business forward faster than you ever could alone.

3. Serving is Selling

Probably the most powerful part of my conversation with Moshik Raccah was when he described how business owners should be serving their customers and colleagues. In 2010, Trendwatching.com came out with a trend brief which highlighted how brands who were on point with serving others created a shift in selling which is now adopted by a lot of other businesses today.

If you want to make an impact on someone’s life and draw them closer to your business, serve them. When you educate, help, and inspire others with your expertise or knowledge, you are slowly building a bridge for them to connect with your brand and service.

How can your business service its prospective clients and customers today? Social listening is a powerful tool you can use to help you monitor keywords and notify you when your services are needed on any platform. Serve others through engagement and conversations you have on a daily basis. Don’t keep your secret to 100,000 page views from your audience, share how you’ve done it and the steps they need to succeed to.

“If you’re lucky enough to succeed, it’s your responsibility to send the elevator back down.” – Kevin Spacey

Building relationships is going to be the perfect strategy your business should adopt and evolve over time. There will always be opportunities for you to shine and create a valuable impression on someone who needs it today. Just like the massive oak tree, the only way it’s going to fall is if you chop it one stroke at a time.

How do you keep your clients coming back to your business time and time again? Let us know by commenting below!

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4 Big Mistakes Business Owners Make During Growth & Expansion

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Did you start your business so you could scrape by and live hand-to-mouth for the rest of your life? Of course not. You want to thrive, not survive.

Nobody would put themselves through the entrepreneurial roller coaster if they weren’t ambitious, or had grand dreams of growth, authority, and success. Where you are today may be great, but it isn’t where you desire to be next month, next year, or five years down the line… right?

I hear you, and it’s a great mindset to have, because it is the only way to thrive in this fast-paced world. However, growth and expansion isn’t all rainbows and happiness. It poses real problems, which I discovered when I interviewed 163 successful people for my latest book, ‘The Successful Mistake.’

The problem with growth is, when you’re growing, everything zooms past you in a flash. You make quick decisions, you plan quick, and you improve quick (so you can continue your journey of growth). It’s a great position to be in, as it proves you’re doing something right.

Nonetheless, because of this you increase your risk. Mistakes, failure, and adversity become a real issue, and the stakes rise each time. Many businesses slip into oblivion during periods of growth, yet this does not mean you have to a statistic.

If you wish to grow and expand while you keep your feet on the ground, listen up. Avoiding these mistakes may save your business (and life):

1. Do Not Buy The Most Expensive Option

During periods of growth, you often have more money to spend. You’re keen to outsource and automate, and improve every aspect of your business. This can be done through tools, hardware, software, or people yet there are other things you should save your money for.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of buying what everyone else in your space has bought. It’s easy to lose sight of what you need, and instead buy what you want. You’re low on time so you buy the enterprise package. You can afford it after all, so why not go ‘all out’ and get the best of the best?

The answer is simple: if you don’t need to spend your money, don’t spend it. Mike McDermott and the Freshbooks team discovered this the hard way, investing over $1 million dollars into software they couldn’t make work for them. They could have gone in at a lower tier or used a different system altogether. In the end, they built their own system to fulfil ‘their’ needs. Just because you can buy the most expensive option doesn’t mean you should.

2. Do Not Listen to The “YES” Men

No matter what industry you’re in, the moment you grow and expand is the moment people start knocking on your door. Everyone offers their help, support, and opinion. It’s easy to lose yourself in your ego, delighted by this newfound attention. Some of these people (and the advice they offer) could help you continue your growth and expansion. However, much of it will be a mere distraction halting you in your place.

Steve Olsher experienced this during the dot.com boom. His business (Liquor.com) grew and grew, and investors and bankers offered their support. They insisted he needed help if he was to continue his growth, so he hired a CEO based on their promises.

These people gave him all the yes’ he could have asked for, but none of it helped as the dot.com crash hit. So if you find yourself surrounded by “yes men”, take a step back and ask yourself if they are the right people to continue your growth and success.

“I have a mentor. I have… guides. I have a lot of guides. Not a lot, but people whose opinions I really respect and who I will turn to.” – Jake Gyllenhaal

3. Do Not Run Before You Walk

Once you build momentum, it’s easy to get carried away. One win leads to another, so it’s important to keep the ball rolling. There is no rest for those in high-growth-mode, but there is a difference between moving quickly and choosing to run before you’re ready to walk.

My friend Arnold du Toit found this out the hard way, as his early version of ‘The Rolley’ went viral amongst the UK golf scene. People loved it. People wanted it. People began to expect it, so Arnold and his team made promises they couldn’t keep.

It lead to launching a subpar and unreliable product at an event where all the key movers-and-shakers attended. It was an opportunity for great press and prestige, but instead of a bang, they found a whimper. Of course, they learned and grew from this.

They improved their product, fine-tuned their target market, and continued to grow and expand. A mere bump in the road, but one that didn’t have to happen had they chose to grow with grace from the beginning.

4. Do Not Take The “Easy” Option

The biggest problem you face during growth and expansion, is the shear volume of decisions you must make. As such, you search for the easy option. This is never more apparent than when you have to build your team because you need people to help you. You’re low on time, high on stress, and this team will help you get through it all.  The problem is, it takes time to build an epic team.

Jordan Harbinger faced this issue when he grew ‘The Art of Charm’. What began as a humble podcast developed into courses, events, and workshops. Jordan and his partners needed help, so they turned to those they knew (friends, friends-of-friends, etc…).

It’s not to say you shouldn’t hire a friend, because your friend may be the ideal candidate. But there lies the key: they need to be the right candidate, not the easy one.

To an extent, this is an understandable mistake to make. Regardless, your sole aim as an entrepreneur is to make the “right” decision, not the easy one. To grow and expand your business is the aim of all aims, yet it’s a period thwart with danger. Although now you know what you know, you can tackle it with success built upon success.

“I never wanted to take the easy way, and I was always willing to hustle.” – Bebe Rexha

How do you carefully maneuver challenging times in your business or life? Comment below and let us know!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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My Incredibly Simple Guide To Stoicism – Learn Practical Wisdom You Can Use

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I’ve been inspired to learn about Stoicism for a while.

The problem I’ve had is that it’s one of those topics that people love to complicate. The reason for the complication is that many of the teachings that come from Stoicism are spoken in English from a long time ago. I personally don’t have the patience to read this type of writing for long periods.

That’s why I’m going to debunk Stoicism for you in stupidly simple terms. The wisdom you get will transform you. You’ll gain a different perspective that will help you in all aspects of life.

“Everyone is preaching advice, but no one is sharing wisdom – that’s what Stoicism is”

 

What is Stoicism?

It’s an ancient form of philosophy. It was made famous in recent years again by Tim Ferriss and Ryan Holiday from the USA. These two gentleman credit a lot of their success to the wisdom that Stoicism taught them.

Stoicism began on a stoa which means porch to you and I. A stoa is where the early teachings of Stoicism started.

Here is Stoicism broken down into insanely simple dot points:

– Stoicism is focused on uncomplicated theories of life
– Stoicism is so clear that you can take action from the advice immediately
– Study is not required to understand Stoicism
– The most read Stoic is Lucius Seneca. Marcus Aurelius is also very popular

Stoicism doesn’t focus on the negative like modern-day self-help advice does. Stoicism is more a meditative practice that allows us to take the negative feelings we experience, and turn them into thoughts that give us peacefulness and perspective on life.

The most important part of learning Stoicism is having the right state of mind. Just like in life, the right state of mind can help us look at challenges in the best possible way.

At the crux of Stoicism is a list of reminders and words of wisdom that show how to live a good life. It’s not an argument about what is right and what is wrong. The Stoics had no time for this way of thinking.

Okay so now let’s skip ahead to the best lessons you can learn from Stoicism:

 

We don’t control events, but we do control what they mean.

This is a famous teaching from a lot of Tony Robbins work too. Everything that happens in your life can be controlled by your own mind to be good or bad. Once you understand this teaching, you can take back the power. You become less reactive and a lot calmer. You have the upper hand.

 

Disruptions to serenity cannot be avoided.

Tranquillity can never be reached by avoiding or blocking out distractions or horrible events. The way to get to that tranquil place is through your choices and judgment about those events and situations.

 

You must disrupt yourself.

Doing things the way they’ve always been done will lead you to be disrupted by someone or something who changes with the environment. Operating out of habit means you’ve stopped thinking and are mindlessly drifting through life. This means you’re not in control.

“When you lose control, your environment determines your results”

There’s a good chance that you’re going to think these results suck. The lesson here is break your habits, get out of your comfort zone and disrupt yourself like a cool, hip startup from Silicon Valley.

 

In good and bad times we have a choice.

Whether you’re in jail or an entrepreneur running the most successful startup on the planet, you have a choice. We all come from different backgrounds and we’ll all go through major highs, and painstaking lows. Through all of these different circumstances, we have a choice.

It’s having the freedom of choice that will set us free in the long run. It’s that freedom of choice that will ensure you don’t waste your life away thinking about stuff you can’t control. You’ll always feel the power of freedom when you control your choices, no matter what life throws at you.

 

Make it a habit of looking inward.

Stoics are obsessed with taking time to look inward. It’s something they advocate above all of their other teachings. They suggest spending time in the morning to ask yourself questions about your life. As you do this, you’ll find the answers to life’s biggest questions become clearer in the context of your own life.

Looking inward helps you find the answers that you knew all along and thought were hidden inside of someone else, or something else. This practice will only work if you’re honest with yourself. Don’t be too brutal on yourself either. Realize that we all start somewhere and it’s where we can go that is the greatest gift we can enjoy.

 

Being paranoid and fearful will destroy you.

The antidote to fear and paranoia is self-control. Learn to control your impulses. If you become fearful that others will sabotage your success and you don’t remain in control over these fearful thoughts, you’ll lose sight of reality. These fearful thoughts will cause you to project your fears onto other people and they’ll give you exactly what you fear.

In simple terms, fear is a self-fulfilling prophecy. What you put out comes right back at you.

 

Anger will not help you.

The Stoics believe that getting angry never gives you anything in return. Anger wastes your precious energy and resources, and provides no tangible benefit. This is why it’s better to practice non-reactivity rather than being pissed off at something you can’t control anyway.

Anger is like a contagious virus that spreads if you let it. Don’t let anger control you. Projecting anger on people can only result in you projecting anger on yourself. That’s why anger is also another self-fulfilling prophecy.

 

Everything takes up space.

Seneca wrote many times that even things you get for free have a cost. That cost is space – space in your garage or even space in your mind.

“Learning to live with less will create space in your life for the things that truly matter to you”

The aim of the game is to look at your material possession and be honest with yourself: do you really need that object? If the answer is no, free some space up in your life. What Seneca says here is the reason I have personally given away and sold most of my possessions. I’ve never been happier.

 

Practice poverty.

Especially during prosperous times in your life, the Stoics believe you should practice poverty. This is how you prepare for hardship and become an expert in dealing with the ups and downs of life. Comfort can become a form of slavery because you consistently start to think that someone could take away what you have.

When you’re familiar with what you fear, it no longer controls you. The worst can happen and you go through it with a sense of calmness and ease. People think you’re resilient but actually, you’ve just practiced the hard times as preparation.

Quick tip: try eating a really cheap meal for a whole week every two months. Eat like you have almost no money. This will teach you to not only appreciate the nice meals but to be okay if you ever face poverty and have to live on very little money for a while. I know a few people that do a beans and rice meal for this week of living it rough. Try it!

 

You protect everything you have, why not your mind?

You don’t give away your wallet to a stranger on the street. You don’t hand the keys to your car over to a budding thief. You wouldn’t let your house be demolished by the council without a fight. So why would you hand over the keys to your mind so easily to any stranger who wants them?

You have to become aware of who you are unconsciously giving your mind over to. You need to realize who is influencing you in a negative way without knowing it.

“Your mind can create all the abundance you could ever imagine, so you need to protect it like it’s the only possession you have”

 

Don’t wreck the purpose of your life by trying to impress others.

The Stoics teach that the opinions of people you seek our to impress are not that great themselves. These people you seek to impress have addictions, their own problems, and are no wiser than the next person. The purpose of your life is not to impress people and doing so will have the opposite effect.

Focus on impressing yourself through personal growth and wisdom from people who serve the greater good. Go beyond yourself and avoid the need to seek approval. Take action and seek forgiveness later if you must.

 

Without proper training, you’re a fool.

If you seek to master a skill, then without proper training you will (by default) rely on ignorance, and you’ll act in a way that lacks discipline and requires chance.

“An investor without discipline is not an investor – he’s a gambler” – Ryan Holiday

 

Your mind becomes what you think consistently.

Whether you think mostly negative thoughts or positive thoughts will determine your default response to any situation. The more we practice negative thinking, the more likely we are to see the world as negative.

If we choose to practice nothing, then we also get the same outcome of an influx of negative thoughts. The only wise choice then is to practice seeing the good in everything. Start with being grateful

 

You don’t know everything.

This is a thought that many people secretly have when they claim they want to learn something new. The harsh reality is that many of us walk around as though we know everything. We know nothing of the infinite knowledge there is to acquire.

That sort of humbleness is where all the best learning starts from. Thinking less of yourself is the ultimate power: it’s where you can grow from and serve others. It’s this way of thinking that births leaders.

 

Think of your problems in relation to the sky.

Marcus Aurelius says that the stars wash away the dust of earthly life. This Stoic concept is a way for you to clear your mind of all the troubles you encounter day-to-day. In comparison, your problems are so small compared to the immense size of the universe.

Your problems don’t matter in the grand scheme of things so don’t fool yourself into believing they do. Look at the stars once in a while. Remember how lucky we are even to experience this planet we call Earth.

 

Forget stereotypes and labels: concentrate on character.

Stoics believe your character should be your most prominent feature. Outward traits such as skin color and clothing should be insignificant. Your character is defined by the work you do on yourself each day and the person you become.

Your character is what sells you as a person better than any other external force. Your character is your legacy. Your character is what you want to be known for.

 

Don’t sit on the sidelines. Do something inspirational yourself.

You can sit here all day and listen to me inspire you. You can watch all the inspirational videos that Youtube has to offer. What would be far better is to go out there and inspire people yourself rather than being inspired.

Take the inspiration you’ve gathered in your life and do something with it so you can allow others to create their own inspirational journey. Be the example rather than only listening to the example and saying “One day I’ll do that.”

 

There is never an end to the personal development journey.

You never reach mastery. The student never stops being a student. Even the teacher is still a student at heart. Stoicism is something you apply consistently, and it never ends. You apply it until the day you die and that’s how you gain the infinite wisdom it offers.

“You’ll never drink all the water in the ocean, just like you’ll never learn everything there is to know about Stoic philosophy and that’s fine too”

 

Work is good for you.

Ever heard that when people retire, they are statistically more likely to die within a few years of achieving this milestone in their life? That’s because work gives us a sense of purpose. Work gives us a reason to get up in the morning. Making progress through doing meaningful work feels good.

Too much idle time and the delusion that you can get rich and sit on a beach is what can cause you to feel empty inside. This feeling can cause you to have self-destructive thoughts that lead to an immense focus on one’s selfish desires and need for significance. In other words, work is good.

 

Don’t make life harder than it is. It’s your choice.

Choices are what stoics believe are the way to take a shortcut in life. They believe we can choose whatever we want including happiness, freedom, respect and feelings of being wealthy. The reoccurring theme here again is that we are in control of everything that happens and how we feel.

 

How you handle disaster is everything.

The way you deal with problematic situations is a true test of your character. Character in stoicism is not formed when everything is going right; character is formed when everything is going wrong. Don’t let problems spoil your mindset. Let optimism guide you in all situations.

 

Seek out obstacles.

Obstacles are a way for you to take a challenge that you may not like and use it as a lesson that can help you for the rest of your life. You learn from hardships above all else. Lessons from hardships make you smarter, stronger and better prepared for when adversity strikes again.

 

You have one job and only one job.

The Stoics have a core belief that all of us have only one job on Planet Earth: to be a good human being. If you learned nothing else about stoicism from this blog post, then I’ve succeeded.

Practice being a good human being and you’ll have one hell of a life.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

Tim is best known as a long-time contributor on Addicted2Success. Tim's content has been shared hundreds of thousands of times and he has written multiple viral posts all around success, personal development, motivation, and entrepreneurship. During the day Tim works with the most iconic tech companies in the world, as an adviser, to assist them in expanding into Australia. By night, Tim coaches his students on the principles of personal development and the fundamentals of entrepreneurship. You can connect with Tim through his website www.timdenning.net or through his Facebook.

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31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. Nancy cripe

    Dec 5, 2015 at 6:03 am

    Spot on! I also went through each of these phases and made the jump 6 weeks ago. My first 6 weeks with out pay since high school. No regrets.

  2. Neha Singh

    Aug 13, 2015 at 10:31 am

    Great Article Lawrence! You have put together the points so well and convincingly. I truly believe that perseverance is one of the most important quality of being successful as an entrepreneur. And, you covered it so well in point #3 where you talk about excuses!

    • Linda Coussement

      Aug 14, 2015 at 5:36 am

      Thanks Neha that’s really kind (though it’s me, Linda, who’s written the article and not Lawrence) 🙂

  3. Ramesh

    Jul 6, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    Hi Linda,

    Great post. Bang on! I can relate to this completely. I have gone thru these stages myself .. taken the plunge ..currently in stage 6.
    In the end .. all I can say is overcoming your fears is the beginning.

    Regards,

  4. Online money maker system

    May 27, 2015 at 8:06 am

    Valuable information. Fortunate me I found your site accidentally, and I’m shocked why
    this twist of fate didn’t happened earlier! I bookmarked
    it.

  5. Mark Tong

    May 15, 2015 at 7:43 am

    Hi Linda
    The stages you describe really rang true to me in all the entrepreneurial enterprises I’ve tried (and am trying!). And none of this worked for me until I went after the opportunity I REALLY wanted, not the one I thought I SHOULD go for.

  6. Quinn Eurich

    May 14, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    I keep telling #5 to myself (sans the whole diving thing) over and over again, because it’s so true!

    Great job Linda! Always a pleasure to read someone who’s been there and done it!

  7. Jamie

    May 8, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    You make it seem less scary! Yes, being an entrepreneur is tough, but it is tougher to live with the regret of not ever trying it! If at first you don’t succeed….

  8. Lynn

    May 8, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    Hi Linda,

    What an insightful post and timely post. A friend is right in stages #2 and #3 so I’ve sent this along to him for a read and hopefully it’s the inspiration he needs!

    • Linda Coussement

      May 8, 2015 at 6:10 pm

      Ahw thanks Lynn! I hope he makes it through to the next stages soon!

  9. Faigie

    May 8, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    I just read the latest INC magazine and in it they interviewed some really successfull young entreupeneur who said they ALL feel like imposters…so you’re in good company 🙂

    • Linda Coussement

      May 10, 2015 at 7:26 am

      haha, that’s good to know and a great topic for my next blogpost actually 🙂

  10. Ann

    May 8, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    The article is spot-on! Anyone going through change experiences those points. I relate to #3.

  11. Rob

    May 8, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    Linda- This is a great post. In my experience, a lot of the crippling fear comes from lack of clarity about how to proceed forward. The entrepreneur isn’t sure the idea is good enough and isn’t sure how to find out.

    • Linda Coussement

      May 10, 2015 at 7:28 am

      Yes that’s what I figured out just the other day too Rob!

  12. Therese Sibon

    May 8, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    wow … so my crazy is NORMAL? And of course – making steps to change your life is not guaranteed success – but it will guarantee movement which engenders change. As you so beautifully wrote – the decision lines up the universe as a support system.

  13. Angela

    May 8, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    So many of us experience this! Thanks for helping us feel less alone. And this quote is my new mantra: Because when your NO is clear…everything else simply becomes opportunity!

    • Linda Coussement

      May 10, 2015 at 7:27 am

      You’re right, I might just make stickers with that mantra and hand them out to coachees 🙂

  14. John Anderson

    May 8, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    I feel like I hit all six stages at once. 🙂 Thank you for writing this wonderful post Linda.

    • Linda Coussement

      May 10, 2015 at 7:29 am

      Wow, that must feel like an emotional tsunami for you! The best of luck with it and thanks for the compliment!

  15. Kim

    May 8, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    I think this scenario is probably way more common than we even think it is. It’s a scary thing and while it would be great if we woke up one day with the aha moment and the “Yes, this is the day,” feeling, in the end however we get there is good. Thank you. This resonated with me.

    • Linda Coussement

      May 8, 2015 at 6:11 pm

      You’re welcome! I would indeed love to wake up to that feeling but unfortunately, we have to create that feeling for ourselves and not just sit around and wait for it to happen!

  16. Helen McCarthy

    May 8, 2015 at 11:44 am

    Thanks Linda for expressing what many of us who change tack feel. Great article.

    • Linda Coussement

      May 8, 2015 at 11:54 am

      Thanks for the compliment Helen! Change is scary and great at the same time, but in the end it’s the only way to move forward!

  17. Ethan

    May 8, 2015 at 10:01 am

    Hey Lawrence, you nailed it.

    All these stages seem to have an underlying fear. (Or is it the image?) It may be wrong, but this fear is what pushes entrepreneur hopefuls to actually act.

    I must admit reading this got me some chills.

    Very inspiring. Thank you!

    • Linda Coussement

      May 8, 2015 at 11:58 am

      I’m sorry to give you chills but I’m taking it as a compliment 🙂
      Yes, fear is the entrepreneurs’ biggest hurdle, no matter what stage he/she is at! But it’s also the hurdle they’re willing to cross time and again because they know that they will profit from it, personally AND business wise.

  18. Linda Coussement

    May 8, 2015 at 9:58 am

    Thanks Lawrence! And yes, the unknown is indeed where most of our fears come from, which is funny because technically there’s not really anything to be scared of. I’m happy you made it to the other side and thank you for sharing!

  19. Chandraka

    May 8, 2015 at 4:25 am

    Absolutely amazing article. I want the writer to know that he has honestly helped someone make a huge decision. My story is very very similar to yours. Right after highschool I went straight to university and studied finance and went straight to work at a bank.

    It was all I knew and studied and wanted to go far in the bank. But I hated going to work everyday, hated it. I never had that excitement to get up in the morning. Like when your younger you get a new video game, you are so excited to start your day. I only had the feeling of dread going to work. But on the outside I was happy and I worked hard and was quite successful. Going in to my fifth year, I was feeling I needed to make big changes.

    I’m from another country and had an opportunity to start a business with my sister and her boyfriend in this foreign country. I was able to start the business while still working as he lived in the foreign country and we would ship various items for export where we are. This business has a chance for great success but to get it there, I need to be there and be more hands on.

    I was contemplating leaving my job at end of the year but during the middle of the year, a general manager at my bank who coincidentally was from the same foreign country offered me a serious promotion and an opportunity to learn from the best at their craft. This threw a serious curveball since I couldn’t leave and get this business off the ground if I took on this promotion.

    I’ve been thinking for a week what to do. Do I want this promotion and live a safe life or chase my wildest dreams and operate a successful business in a beautiful country and be able to travel more. It’s scary decision but your article has helped me to turn down the position. I already was most likely going to say no but this has helped. This incident has actually expedited the process and I will be leaving in a few months instead of at the end of the year

    • Linda Coussement

      May 8, 2015 at 12:02 pm

      Wow Chandraka, that really made my day!

      I’m so happy for you that you were able to make this decision and follow your heart and I’m happy for me that I was able to share this personal story (which was scary in itself) so that you could be inspired.

      If you ever get another bout of the shivers come find me on http://www.fromstartuptogrowup.com for a chat!

      All the best on your amazing adventure!

  20. Lawrence Berry

    May 8, 2015 at 2:30 am

    This is a great article, because it shares with others the tough road to taking a leap of faith into the unknown. I experienced the same things you have mentioned here, and I think the biggest thing that hold people back from entrepreneurship or chasing what they really want in life is the fear of the unknown. When traveling down a path less traveled its very scary but it takes a person to reach a breakthrough to change.

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Entrepreneurs

5 Reasons Your Business Is Failing and How to Relight the Fire Under You

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failing business

Are you stuck in a rut with your business or your life? Are you wondering what could be causing this feeling of being stuck? It’s so common for people in this day and age to feel comfortable, and stop pushing themselves, so how do we jumpstart our lives and get moving again?

Here are 5 steps to help light a fire under you, and get you moving towards your goals again:

1. Lack of Vision

Before you started your business, it was just an idea, a thought in your head that seemed impossible. As you put time and effort into this idea, it was within reach, and now you have it. But what happens next? You made it to where you wanted to and now there is nowhere else to go. This is not true though because although you have reached your vision, it doesn’t mean you can’t think even bigger.

A lot of businesses stop growing because the people who run them don’t know what to do after they reach their goals. Instead of being happy you reached your goal, set new ones. Think bigger until your company has reached a level that you are comfortable leaving and letting someone else run it.

2. Lack of Why

Do you remember why you started your company? If not, how do you think you can keep your company moving forward? Start by thinking back to when you first started your business and try to remember why you wanted to start. Now that you have your original reasons for starting the company, check off how many of those you fulfilled and how many you can still work on.

Now think with everything that your business has given you, what do you want your business to stand for moving forward? Do you want your company to make you money, make a difference, or change the world? Whatever you want your company to be doing, as long as you have a reason for keeping your company going.

“The purpose of life is a life of purpose.” – Robert Byrne

3. No Accountability

Do you have a ton of good ideas but can never follow through? Perhaps, you aren’t being held accountable! You need to follow through with what you say. If you continuously say you are going to expand your business, network, or even something as small as getting employees lunch and don’t do it, no one is going to trust your word. If people can’t trust your word, how can they trust your business to get the job done? Start by getting an accountability buddy, coach, or even setting consequences for yourself.

4. Low Standards

People can have low standards in almost everything; places to live, relationships, and even business. If you can’t hold your product, customer service, and reputation to a certain standard, people won’t want to work with you or buy your products. Why would you want to go somewhere, or work with someone, who doesn’t hold themselves to a standard that reflects their work ethic?  

Having low standards can be a symptom of a lack of vision as well. When you can’t imagine what you want your business to look like, how can you hold yourself to a higher standard? So We can hold ourselves to a higher standard by knowing what our time is worth and realizing how much we are investing into a product or client.

If you are spending an hour on something, will your hour be worth 10 dollars or 100? How much effort you put into that specific project will reflect how much you get out of it thus as you understand the value of your time, your standards will rise.

5. No Passion or Pain

What pushes your business?  Are you driven by your passion, or are you being pushed by the pain or pressure? When we are put under pressure, it is amazing what people can do, and when people are passionate about something, many put as much as they can into what they are working on.

Yet, when we start to get comfortable or start to lose the passion we once had, we start to stand still. We begin to not move forward, so why would our business move forward?

Reigniting your passion can be tricky. Try and remember what gave you the initial push to start your passion, and consider what you are passionate about now. Putting the pressure on is as simple as setting a goal, calling up your accountability buddy and setting real consequences for yourself.

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” – Henry Ford

Will you let your business sit stagnant any longer, or will you reinvent your vision, find a why, hold yourself accountable, raise your standards, and reignite your passions? Getting your business and your life to move forward is something that you have to put effort into every day. If you want to succeed, you will have to keep pushing yourself and move forward every day.

How do you push yourself in tough times? Let us know by commenting below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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5 Commandments You Need to Follow to Build Your Freelance Business

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how to build your freelance business

For all the freelancers reading this article right now, there are some steps to success you can take to create a profitable freelance company for yourself.

Being a freelancer comes with many perks. You get to enjoy the freedom of working from home all while setting your own schedule. You also get to pick your own clients and choose your desired rate of pay. Freelancing is a beautiful thing, especially when you’re the go-to expert in your industry.

While some freelancers can expect a feast or famine type of business model – where you’re making great money one month and not so great the next – there are certain tasks you should take upon yourself to ensure your success each month.

If you want to build your freelance business, these are the 5 commandments you should be focused on:

1. Acquire Testimonials After Every Job

What’s your most important job? It’s the one where your last customer was so happy they told people about you. Knowing this, each job should be equally important in your business. When you perform outstanding work for a client, don’t be shy, ask for a testimonial.

Have a page set up on your website where they can tell the world how great you are. If you don’t have a page specifically set up for this, you can grab these testimonials in different ways.

You already know testimonials are an important aspect of your business. However, what you may not know is how powerful word of mouth is for your company. A study done in 2014 revealed an astounding 75% of freelance jobs comes from word of mouth.

Your client has colleagues and friends they can share your greatness with. Every successful freelancer will glean these testimonials from their clients and make sure to refer their friends and co-workers back to their business.

2. Be Available As Much As Possible

You want to get the jobs you want? Be there when they come available. Aside from word of mouth and grabbing jobs from the people you know, you can also create expertise about yourself in freelance platforms like Upwork, oDesk, Freelancer, and others like this.

There are always places to go to find jobs online. Not only should you be available for more work to fill your time with, you should also remember the clients you still have and make yourself available for their needs as well. It’s important to keep your current clients happy and when they need you for a rush job, make sure you are there for them.

“A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.” – Michael LeBoeuf

3. Be a Communication Machine

Not only should you make yourself available, you should also make yourself accessible. It’s no fun for your clients to have to track you down in order to get an update or ask for more work to be done.

Nathan Hirsch, co-founder and CEO of the FreeeUp freelancer hiring marketplace, says one of the reasons most freelancers lose jobs is because the freelancer was nowhere to be found. It’s important to remember to share every contact detail you have with your clients so you both can work well together.

Successful freelancers have these tools in their portfolio:

  • WhatsApp
  • Viber
  • Skype
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Slack
  • Asana
  • ClearVoice

With a mix of communication tools at your disposal, even if you’re away from your desk, your client should still be able to get your attention within the span of 30 minutes or less.

4. Extend Your Expertise Through Others

While most freelancers are happy with keeping busy with the clients they have, freelancers who want to build their businesses will take advantage of every talent they come across.

For example, you may be an expert in the social marketing industry, but you keep getting stray clients from the search engine optimization industry. Just because you don’t have the expertise to complete the job doesn’t mean you have to send them away since you can use other freelancers. This is where contracting work comes into play and it can help your overall reach in your business.

Over time, you will come into contact with other freelancers who have multiple talents you do not have yourself. When a job comes your way in which you have no experience in, reach out to someone who does and split the profits.

While this is a whole different ball game for freelancers to pursue, it can become very lucrative if you understand what to do. First, build a community of freelance experts. You can do this easily by setting up a Facebook group. I personally set up a freelance writing group on Facebook and, in the span of 2 months, have added 3,000+ new writers into the space. Here we discuss best strategies, recommend our friends for freelance jobs, and make each other better through discussion.

5. Stay On Track With Taxes

I know this isn’t something you want to think about at the moment, but in April it will come up again. It’s relevant to have something in place to help you regulate the money which you have acquired over the past year with your freelance business.

99designs explains how the government will be taking a percentage of your income out in taxes. In order to prepare for this, they have wisely suggested putting back your governmental portion each month in a savings.

You have to run your freelance operations like a business. While taking care of taxes and fees aren’t something you dream of doing, it is something you need to adjust for because the time will come to pay the piper and you must be prepared.

Take some time and research other tax preparations for freelancers so you won’t be caught with any surprises at the end of the year. In fact, this part plays a huge role in building your freelance company. You want to be able to have a working budget after the government takes their part.

Are You Ready?

In order to create a profitable freelance business you need to be able to stand on the foundational principles of those freelancers who have gone before you and succeeded. This, and your own creativity and imagination can push you towards your goals of success. Don’t fall trap to the “always famine” idea of a freelancer by using these 5 commandments to nurture your business model.

What are some ways you have built your business? Let us know by commenting below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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3 Ways You Can Create the Right Relationships for Your Business

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Business relationships

If you’re an entrepreneur who has a business online, I would wager one of the most thought about strategies you delve on daily is how to make your business successful.

This is the common denominator which connects us all, no matter what niche you have chosen, or what your target audience is. We are all striving for success. Knowing this, while there are many strategies which make us different, the one which connects us all in business is the power of building relationships.

A great relationship built on behalf of your company could mean sparking the interest of a brand ambassador, a bridge to a new group of clients, or a killer recommendation. The potential of building relationships are to the moon and back, and I would wager you already know this.

But what you might not know is there are “right” relationships you could be building for your brand. Do you understand the differences? Relationship marketing is a time old tradition which has been profited on by many smart entrepreneurs. The one’s who succeeded understood how to determine which relationships were the right relationships to pursue.

For this article, I sat down with Moshik Raccah, Founder and CEO of Silo, a networking and relationship building platform which allows you to share your expertise with new friends and establish a great first impression for your business.

Here are the 3 ways he explained you can in which you can create the right environment to build a powerful relationship for your business:

1. Communicate Frequently

One of the foundational principles every business owner must understand is the power of communication when it comes to building relationships.

Mr. Raccah explained when you are at the potential person’s top of mind with whom you want to build a relationship with, they are more likely to remember you. Consequently, building a top notch relationship doesn’t happen overnight, and some people get this part wrong, even though they DO communicate.

More often than not, their communication comes in the form of an email or message asking you to share their article or hire them for some kind of expertise they say they have.

Honestly, you hardly ever bite do you? One of the reasons you don’t is because you don’t know, like, or trust this person. Frequent communication where this person congregates is your best option. While you may not be speaking to them directly, perhaps someone has asked a question on their social media post in which you can answer.

It’s little things like these which allow the person in question to remember who you are when the time comes to reach out and make an introduction or an offer to help them personally.

“Be genuinely interested in everyone you meet and everyone you meet will be genuinely interested in you” – Rasheed Ogunlaru

2. Develop Mutual Respect

As a business owner, it’s easy to fall into the trap of always wanting people to do something for you. Naturally, you want your business to become successful and if you’re not moving forward, it may feel like you’re sliding backward.

In this scenario, Mr. Raccah says in order to create a great business relationship you have to have mutual respect for your colleague. Unless someone is referred to you by a trusted business associate, this portion of relationship building can take some time to develop.

For them to have trust and respect for you, and you for them, it takes time to prove ourselves over and over in the business world. In any case, if you’re trying to build relationships for the right reasons in your business, you will learn that consistency is the only tool you will need to accomplish this aspect.

Lend a helping hand which has nothing to do with your business success. What happens when someone develops trust in you? More than likely, you have proven yourself trustworthy over and over again. To establish this, you must be willing to help someone else build their business.

This also falls into the Reciprocity Theory developed by Robert Cialdini, where he shares how doing favors for others will, in turn, create favors for your business because the person feels compelled to return the favor to you.

To develop mutual respect means you have to learn to give a lot and take a little over time. This could even mean you know someone who would click perfectly with another colleague of yours. Make the referral and share the relationship. You never know who is friends with someone that could propel your business forward faster than you ever could alone.

3. Serving is Selling

Probably the most powerful part of my conversation with Moshik Raccah was when he described how business owners should be serving their customers and colleagues. In 2010, Trendwatching.com came out with a trend brief which highlighted how brands who were on point with serving others created a shift in selling which is now adopted by a lot of other businesses today.

If you want to make an impact on someone’s life and draw them closer to your business, serve them. When you educate, help, and inspire others with your expertise or knowledge, you are slowly building a bridge for them to connect with your brand and service.

How can your business service its prospective clients and customers today? Social listening is a powerful tool you can use to help you monitor keywords and notify you when your services are needed on any platform. Serve others through engagement and conversations you have on a daily basis. Don’t keep your secret to 100,000 page views from your audience, share how you’ve done it and the steps they need to succeed to.

“If you’re lucky enough to succeed, it’s your responsibility to send the elevator back down.” – Kevin Spacey

Building relationships is going to be the perfect strategy your business should adopt and evolve over time. There will always be opportunities for you to shine and create a valuable impression on someone who needs it today. Just like the massive oak tree, the only way it’s going to fall is if you chop it one stroke at a time.

How do you keep your clients coming back to your business time and time again? Let us know by commenting below!

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4 Big Mistakes Business Owners Make During Growth & Expansion

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business mistakes

Did you start your business so you could scrape by and live hand-to-mouth for the rest of your life? Of course not. You want to thrive, not survive.

Nobody would put themselves through the entrepreneurial roller coaster if they weren’t ambitious, or had grand dreams of growth, authority, and success. Where you are today may be great, but it isn’t where you desire to be next month, next year, or five years down the line… right?

I hear you, and it’s a great mindset to have, because it is the only way to thrive in this fast-paced world. However, growth and expansion isn’t all rainbows and happiness. It poses real problems, which I discovered when I interviewed 163 successful people for my latest book, ‘The Successful Mistake.’

The problem with growth is, when you’re growing, everything zooms past you in a flash. You make quick decisions, you plan quick, and you improve quick (so you can continue your journey of growth). It’s a great position to be in, as it proves you’re doing something right.

Nonetheless, because of this you increase your risk. Mistakes, failure, and adversity become a real issue, and the stakes rise each time. Many businesses slip into oblivion during periods of growth, yet this does not mean you have to a statistic.

If you wish to grow and expand while you keep your feet on the ground, listen up. Avoiding these mistakes may save your business (and life):

1. Do Not Buy The Most Expensive Option

During periods of growth, you often have more money to spend. You’re keen to outsource and automate, and improve every aspect of your business. This can be done through tools, hardware, software, or people yet there are other things you should save your money for.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of buying what everyone else in your space has bought. It’s easy to lose sight of what you need, and instead buy what you want. You’re low on time so you buy the enterprise package. You can afford it after all, so why not go ‘all out’ and get the best of the best?

The answer is simple: if you don’t need to spend your money, don’t spend it. Mike McDermott and the Freshbooks team discovered this the hard way, investing over $1 million dollars into software they couldn’t make work for them. They could have gone in at a lower tier or used a different system altogether. In the end, they built their own system to fulfil ‘their’ needs. Just because you can buy the most expensive option doesn’t mean you should.

2. Do Not Listen to The “YES” Men

No matter what industry you’re in, the moment you grow and expand is the moment people start knocking on your door. Everyone offers their help, support, and opinion. It’s easy to lose yourself in your ego, delighted by this newfound attention. Some of these people (and the advice they offer) could help you continue your growth and expansion. However, much of it will be a mere distraction halting you in your place.

Steve Olsher experienced this during the dot.com boom. His business (Liquor.com) grew and grew, and investors and bankers offered their support. They insisted he needed help if he was to continue his growth, so he hired a CEO based on their promises.

These people gave him all the yes’ he could have asked for, but none of it helped as the dot.com crash hit. So if you find yourself surrounded by “yes men”, take a step back and ask yourself if they are the right people to continue your growth and success.

“I have a mentor. I have… guides. I have a lot of guides. Not a lot, but people whose opinions I really respect and who I will turn to.” – Jake Gyllenhaal

3. Do Not Run Before You Walk

Once you build momentum, it’s easy to get carried away. One win leads to another, so it’s important to keep the ball rolling. There is no rest for those in high-growth-mode, but there is a difference between moving quickly and choosing to run before you’re ready to walk.

My friend Arnold du Toit found this out the hard way, as his early version of ‘The Rolley’ went viral amongst the UK golf scene. People loved it. People wanted it. People began to expect it, so Arnold and his team made promises they couldn’t keep.

It lead to launching a subpar and unreliable product at an event where all the key movers-and-shakers attended. It was an opportunity for great press and prestige, but instead of a bang, they found a whimper. Of course, they learned and grew from this.

They improved their product, fine-tuned their target market, and continued to grow and expand. A mere bump in the road, but one that didn’t have to happen had they chose to grow with grace from the beginning.

4. Do Not Take The “Easy” Option

The biggest problem you face during growth and expansion, is the shear volume of decisions you must make. As such, you search for the easy option. This is never more apparent than when you have to build your team because you need people to help you. You’re low on time, high on stress, and this team will help you get through it all.  The problem is, it takes time to build an epic team.

Jordan Harbinger faced this issue when he grew ‘The Art of Charm’. What began as a humble podcast developed into courses, events, and workshops. Jordan and his partners needed help, so they turned to those they knew (friends, friends-of-friends, etc…).

It’s not to say you shouldn’t hire a friend, because your friend may be the ideal candidate. But there lies the key: they need to be the right candidate, not the easy one.

To an extent, this is an understandable mistake to make. Regardless, your sole aim as an entrepreneur is to make the “right” decision, not the easy one. To grow and expand your business is the aim of all aims, yet it’s a period thwart with danger. Although now you know what you know, you can tackle it with success built upon success.

“I never wanted to take the easy way, and I was always willing to hustle.” – Bebe Rexha

How do you carefully maneuver challenging times in your business or life? Comment below and let us know!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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