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7 Things Productive Entrepreneurs Have Stopped Doing and You Should Too

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It’s quite common these days to read success stories or social media posts about how someone worked 60-70 hours a week to be who they are today. Many who are part of the younger generation tend to study, work and indulge in a hobby every day.

The idea behind all this is to try to work harder than everyone else, which is positive on the surface but sometimes time spent doesn’t always translate into productivity. Time is very much a limited resource so how we allocate tasks and optimize our routines is crucial.

We can sometimes have a rather confusing picture about entrepreneurs. I am sure many successful ones we’ve come across say that they work their socks off while many others are also extremely happy that they work a lot less. Irrespective of whether you are a business owner or someone who is climbing the ranks, there are things you need to stop doing to achieve success quicker.

Here are 7 things you can stop doing now so you can start working smarter:

1. Working overtime

Ever wonder where the 9 to 5 came from? Whilst it’s true that that particular lifestyle isn’t for everyone its origins are pretty interesting. The 40 hour work week (9 to 5 over 5 days) was the result of a productivity experiment by Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, way back in 1926. He found that scaling back work hours tended to increase productivity.

Typically, its sleep that suffers when you need to work overtime. If you feel that you haven’t been as productive as you could this could be one of the underlying causes. A well-rested mind can be the source of positivity and will allow you to empathize with your surroundings better.

If you are one of the 70% that don’t get enough sleep try to organize your day so you never compromise and work overtime. In reality, there are some days where working extra is inevitable but try to make those days’ isolated events in the big picture. Keep yourself accountable and ensure you develop habits that foster positivity.

2. Scheduling a series of meetings

Try to not schedule many business meetings unless it’s absolutely essential. A sure fire way to lose productivity is to turn business meetings into high school group project meetups. We are often faced with a paradoxical situation where we try to use social media to socialize but end up interacting with devices more than people.

Having face to face meetings and lunches are undoubtedly beneficial but ensure that you stick to timings and not let it turn into a casual event during work hours. Look for solutions before opting to meet or have multiple solutions prepped so you can get straight into it. Use video conferencing tools like Facetime and Skype to your benefit instead of spending hours away from your desk.

3. Handling every aspect of the business

Aspiring entrepreneurs, this one is for you! Many of you who own a brand or a service might be trying to do too many tasks. When I started my first website, I often found myself running the social media accounts for it, writing content and answering support requests.

You can be fooled into thinking that no one can do a better job than you (like I was initially). This is certainly not the case and many people you work with can open your mind to possibilities you didn’t see coming.

Automation is another avenue you can look to explore. This works for repetitive tasks and other mechanisms which are more refined these days so take one eye off the day-to-day running of your work and setup these aids. Make sure you delegate the tasks that are repetitive and short-term so you have time to look at the big picture.

“When you delegate work to a member of the team, your job is to clearly frame success and describe the objectives.” – Steven Sinofsky

4. Compromising on health

The clock is ticking. You’re right on time to finish a task your said you will finish by 3pm, when you realize that if you skip lunch today you can get it done by 1:30. This scenario can sound all too familiar for many folks out there. Another would be trying to cram more into a work week than ideally possible.

While you can complete tasks this way, it’s a highly unsustainable lifestyle even in the short run. Compromising on meals or opting for cheap unhealthy alternatives to save time can really take a toll on your ability to focus and your energy levels. Make time to prep some meals and workout. In “The Millionaire Next Door”, Thomas Stanley and William Danko talk about how most millionaires spend at least 2 hours of their day exercising.

5. Giving too much importance to response time

Nope, we aren’t talking about the stat Facebook messenger throws at you when you try to chat to a business which goes something like “typically responds within an hour”. We are referring to things like emails and messages you receive on your phone or computer. You might agree with me when I say notifications can make you anxious.

A sure fire way to boost productivity is to turn off notifications or filter them so that only time sensitive issues are brought to your attention. It’s better to reply to people at a time that’s convenient for you and not for them.

6. Working without taking a step back

Stepping away from work and taking time to reflect on or recap everything you’ve done so far can be hugely beneficial. Instead of opting to go all out for your entire work session duration, schedule some time that’s not so focused on being productive.

It can be quite hard to form healthy relationships or have empathy towards other people when you’ve been glued to a computer screen for days straight. Use this time each day to interact, gain some ideas and focus your energy on whatever makes you happy in life.

“There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.” – Alan Cohen

7. Going with the flow

This is almost a lifestyle choice each and every one of us has to make. Do we want to be proactive or reactive? It’s often the former that really shines during tough times. While winging it can help in some situations, practicing everything that you do repeatedly without being a perfectionist can help you deliver in the clutch moments.

Also make sure your preparation is thorough. Ask someone to play devil’s advocate on ideas you’ve come up with. This way you don’t over prepare or waste time focusing on issues that are highly unlikely to occur.

All-in all, these are just some of the things successful entrepreneurs have stopped doing to raise their game. Don’t fall into the trap where you are constantly adding things to your plate. Removing some can hold the key to success. The work environment is often fast paced so split testing or engaging people to help you stay accountable can help you weed out the unproductive elements and help you shine.

How do you stay productive throughout your day? Let us know in the comments below!

Eugene Kalnyk is a Marketing Specialist at Setapp, the first Mac app subscription service which gives access to hand-picked apps for every job on your Mac. He loves writing about Marketing, SEM, and Productivity. He's addicted 2 success, journaling and petting his cat first thing in the morning. He'll be happy to meet you on Twitter.

Entrepreneurs

5 of the Best Proven Growth Hacking Strategies for Your Business

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Tough competition can make growing a new brand seem near impossible, despite the hundreds of new companies that are created every day. Creative solutions offer the answer, allowing you to move in a positive direction with your brand start-up at an affordable investment. To achieve this, speed is the key. Growing your user base fast will allow profits to come in fast, too. This is what growth hacking is all about.  (more…)

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5 Soft Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs to Succeed

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There are countless components that go into building a successful company, but soft skills act as the fundamental building blocks of a functioning business. Hard skills are considered to be job-specific, whereas soft skills are interpersonal skills, like listening and communication. 

Nearly 93% of employers said that soft skills are an “essential” or “very important” factor in hiring decisions. With the right blend of hard and soft skills, an entrepreneur is capable of great things.

Here are five soft skills that can help entrepreneurs scale their growth and lead successful ventures:

1. Confidence

A successful company starts from individual confidence. In order to motivate and inspire others, an entrepreneur must find reassurance in themselves. Other businesses and consumers will believe in your company if you consistently believe in yourself. 

Being confident also means becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable— taking risks will expand your business and place you above competitors. As an entrepreneur, and leader, it’s crucial that you not only possess confidence, but exhibit it throughout every step of your business ventures.

2.Self-Awareness

It is vital that an entrepreneur have a clear insight into their personality, especially their strengths, weaknesses, thoughts,and emotions. 

When an entrepreneur is self-aware, it can lead them to beneficial partnerships and agreements. Without good self-awareness, leaders become easily persuaded and spineless. Self-awareness also includes control. Becoming overly emotional, for example, can lead to detrimental impulsive decision making. 

“Self awareness is the ability to take an honest look at your life without any attachment to it being right or wrong, good or bad.” – Debbie Ford

3. Collaboration

From the day we begin talking, the ability to work well with others is pivotal to any project. As an entrepreneur, it is important to recognize and understand your own responsibilities. To do this, you must identify your business culture and have tools on hand to manage mutually dependent relationships. 

Active listening inspires collaboration within teams and creates learning opportunities. Without open collaboration or sharing and discussing information, the success of your business is  limited.

4. Time Management

Time is the greatest equalizer. No matter who you are or what you do, we all have the exact same amount of time in the day. Successful management of that time separates the great entrepreneurs from the bad ones. 

Entrepreneurs have many responsibilities; they are often jumping between tasks, hopping on calls, and attending events. They also tend to make every decision within the business.

It is crucial for business owners to find an organization system that works for their company and their goals. Creating a long term road map of company ambitions is an excellent way to distinguish high versus low priority initiatives. Entrepreneurs should create prioritization systems that employees can follow each month, ensuring business targets are met.

“Once you have mastered time, you will understand how true it is that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year – and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade!” – Tony Robbins

5. Resilience

Throughout your entrepreneurial journey, unexpected hurdles and setbacks are inevitable. The process of starting a business will not be perfect. What matters most is how you progress when the outlook seems bleak. Your ability to stay tough and weather the storm speaks volumes to your leadership— and will lead to a huge payout at the end of the day. 

Maintaining entrepreneurial resilience throughout rocky times will empower your employees while simultaneously building your credibility. Resilience will also inform potential clients and customers that you are willing to fight through thick and thin.

Soft skills are the backbone of every successful entrepreneur. While hard skills like financing and marketing are crucial to conducting business, soft skills provide the essential groundwork. Developing these soft skills will come with time, mindfulness, and an eagerness to grow. Take the initiative to prioritize these skills in yourself. Once you’ve done that, you can then cultivate those same qualities in your business.

Do you think soft skills tend to be more important than hard skills in today’s business world? Share your thoughts with us below!

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The 7 Successful Habits of Entrepreneurs

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A while ago, I wrote an article on the 51 mistakes that can sabotage your business. However, that was one piece of the puzzle. You have to run your business well to be a successful entrepreneur, but, what’s more important is that you run yourself so well that your business follows suit. In order to do that, you need some good habits that can seriously boost your chances of success.

Here are the 7 must have habits that most successful entrepreneurs have:

1. Mindfully Meditate Everyday for At least 10 Minutes

Tim Ferris, who has interviewed thousands of world-class performers and entrepreneurs, says that the most common practice of all world-class performers is mindfulness meditation. There are different types of meditation, and each serves its own function.

However, mindfulness meditation is meant for controlling your mind so as to be able to focus more intensely on the task at hand. Higher focus equals higher productivity and becoming more effective at whatever you do.

Working in a distracted state leads to substandard work and also takes up more time. If you want to be able to get in the zone like most top-notch entrepreneurs, you need to mindfully meditate.

Now, there are some caveats you need to be aware of before you begin:

  1. Like medicine, mindfulness meditation has a minimum effective dose and that minimum is 10 continuous days for at least 10 minutes each day.
  2. Practice guided meditation before you try meditating on your own.

2. Read a Lot

Warren Buffett was once asked what the secret behind his wealth was. He pointed to a stack of books and said the secret was to read 500 pages like that everyday. Mark Cuban is also a voracious reader and spends almost 3 hours everyday reading in spite of being busy with his businesses. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg also read a book every week.

Now, I am not telling you to read so much everyday but at least make an effort to finish 2 books every month. This is a very common habit among the top-notch entrepreneurs and as Warren says, “knowledge builds up like compound interest.”

Also try not to read on any digital medium except that of Kindle. In spite of it being convenient to read on your phone or tab or laptop, these devices tend to distract us with their notifications and push us to other procrastinating habits.

“So please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install a lovely bookshelf on the wall.” – Roald Dahl

3. Keep the Phone Away, aka take a Digital Detox EVERYDAY

With multi-national companies all vying for our attention, we need to learn to use our phones less everyday. While it can be extremely tempting to open your phone while you are waiting in line or are taking an Uber ride, you should resist and embrace the boredom. This has two effects:

  1. It teaches you to sit through boring and monotonous tasks for longer periods of time and not get pulled away at the tiniest amount of distraction.
  2. It builds up your will-power and your discipline.

I see a lot of entrepreneurs try to do this and even successfully do this but they don’t build it into a habit. They do it once a week or once a month and think it will have a beneficial effect on their lives. Sadly, just like eating your vegetables once a week is a very stupid idea if you want to live a healthy life, taking a digital detox occasionally is useless.

4. Dump Coffee for Tea

Most Americans are heavy coffee consumers and can’t live their lives without coffee. But wait …The main ingredient behind coffee is caffeine which is a natural stimulant. If you take a stimulant regularly, your body adapts to the stimulant and you fail to get the benefits of coffee such as greater energy and focus which other non-regular drinkers get.

On the contrary, tea’s natural stimulant relaxes your body and enables you to put in more hours of work without the “crash” effect that coffee drinkers face. If you are up to the suggestion of making tea a part of your daily habits, I suggest you try out green tea which has 15% more caffeine than a cup of coffee. It also possesses l-theanine, which helps the consumer put in a greater state of focused awareness into his/her work.

But if you are a newbie tea drinker and can’t stand the taste of coffee (I don’t know how that’s possible though☹), try out flavored tea.

5. Sleep Around 8 Hours Daily

I think the most damaging piece of advice out there is sleep less and do more work. If you do that, all that’s going to happen is that you are going to wake up the next day feeling drowsy. The net result is that your productivity will suffer.

Also, the notion of early to bed and early to rise is not true as your biological clock may be differently tuned than that of others and your biological prime time may be late at night. However, don’t be too late to sleep as that hinders the DNA repair and as a side-effect your mental fatigue remains.

If you can’t get to sleep early, try to not use your phone or watch the TV or any sort of screen whatsoever, as the blue light can slow down your natural sleep cycle.

“It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.” – John Steinbeck

6. Take Cold Showers

You know what troubles most entrepreneurs? They’re good at planning yet it’s the execution part where almost all of them fall flat. It’s because the execution of ideas throws the harsh realities of the business world onto the face of the entrepreneurs, and they are forced to reconsider if they can actually ever succeed.

It is here that the winners get separated from the losers. And guess what separates them? Willpower. I have the best tactic to help you build it and it’s so simple too! Take cold showers early in the morning or late at night, when it is already chilled outside. If you live in a place that is hot, then this tactic may not have the intended effect on you.

However, try taking cold-showers in the winter. You will see that your brain makes all sorts of excuses so as to not go under the chilling water and if you succeed in pushing your brain to do the work, you will have succeeded. You are then, the master of your mind and not the other way around.

7. Plan and Review Daily

If you want to live a truly productive life and get things done instead of having a mounting pile of to-dos, you need to plan ahead. You need to divide your daily schedule into blocks of time and dedicate tasks to each block.

Parkinson’s Law states that the work we need to do stretches into the time we give ourselves to finish it. Therefore, if you need to get work done and don’t give yourself any time-limit or deadline, you will find your work stretching for enormous amounts of time and eating into the time reserved for other tasks.

However, when you first start planning, you will find most of your plans are utterly useless as most tasks will stretch far beyond the time you have allotted for them. This is where the second part comes along – which is to review the plans and reschedule them.

However, there is a particular style of reviewing and this is how you can go about it. First, you need to make a plan of what you intend to complete in a week and what you intend to complete in a day. Then, before going to bed every night, open your calendar and make a note regarding what you failed to complete today and how you will accommodate them into your weekly goals. This should be done before going to bed daily.

Now, it’s your turn. Share this post and spread the word. What’s the most important habit according to you? Do you have any such habits that you use? Let me know in the comments!

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Build Your Business One Brick at a Time

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A good friend and business associate once approached us asking for business advice. “I have $25,000,” he said. “How do I turn that into $50,000? Actually—wait, how do I turn one million into two million in one year?”

We looked at each other, and then we looked back at him and said “You don’t take a million and turn it into two million. It’s not that easy. There are no shortcuts in life, and there are no shortcuts in business.” We recommended he do things the old-fashioned way.

He understood—and we understood—that, of course, some people do double their money in the blink of an eye. It’s not impossible, but it’s incredibly risky. And it’s also not what we are about. We’re not promoting the Bernie Madoff model of Ponzi and phony, get-rich-quick deals; we all know how well that worked out in the end. Businesses have to have a real economic model that is built one brick at a time.

Start, Build, Sell

Growing your business is an incremental process: you start, you build, and you sell. You build more, you sell more. If you have a viable product or service that customers want, they’ll come back to you again and again. They’ll also tell their friends. 

Positive word of mouth is as important as the product itself, because it helps you continue to grow. As Albert Einstein once said (and Warren Buffet often quotes), “compounding interest is the eighth wonder of the world.”

Buffet, known as the smartest investor of the past century, invests in management teams and products he believes in through his company Berkshire Hathaway. He is also said to only invest in products that he likes and uses, and that fall in his circle of competence. Therefore, as a big holder of both their stocks, you can assume he loves Coke and McDonald’s. He also eats and drinks both regularly. Keep his investment interests in mind as you build your business.

“The only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” – Mark Zuckerberg

The Value of Viability and Balance

What kind of product or service you decide to build is important, too. You have to be insanely fortunate to have success selling an entirely unique product. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try, but always remember it is easier to sell a product that is easily understood. When you’re just starting out, and even if you’re not, it’s much easier to sell something people completely understand rather than an avant-garde product.

Whatever you want to try in business, whether you have a brand-new type of shop or a nail salon in a strip mall down the street from another nail salon in another strip mall, the essence is the same: work harder, work smarter, and constantly improve.

One challenge you may find at this stage of your entrepreneurial journey is the difficult task of finding balance between preparing and over preparing. As you build and sell, focus on the details, but don’t let them overshadow your big picture.

Spilling the Oil

In The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho writes of a boy who wants to learn about happiness. The boy’s father sent him to the wisest man in the world: the sage. The boy traveled for forty days to reach the wise man, finally finding him in a bustling palace. When the boy asked for the secret to happiness, the sage responded by suggesting the boy take a walk through his palace and come back in two hours.

The sage had one additional request: he handed the boy a teaspoon with two drops of oil and instructed him not to let the oil spill as he walked the grounds. He toured the palace, his eyes never leaving the spoon. When he returned, the sage asked the boy if he had enjoyed the Persian tapestries and the intricate gardens, but the boy replied he hadn’t seen them; his eyes were focused on the spoon. Although he had spilled no oil, he had also seen none of the glories of the palace.

The sage refilled the spoon with two drops of oil, instructing the boy to savor the details of the palace. When the boy returned, he realized he’s spilled the oil, but he was able to describe in detail the colors, tastes, smells of the palace that were beyond his wildest imagination. The sage responded, “The secret of happiness lies in looking at all the wonders of the world and never forgetting the two drops of oil in the spoon.”

“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” – Paulo Coelho

The same is true in business; keep an eye on both the details and the big picture—neither of which you can do if you’re cutting corners or letting the fear of making mistakes stop you from moving forward. Fail often and fail quick. Learn from your mistakes. And, if you are smart, learn from other people’s mistakes, too.

What was your favorite tip from this article? Share your thoughts with us below!

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