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8 Ways to Be Productive When Working From Home

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Starting a business out of your garage or home office isn’t as easy as Silicon Valley makes it look. Not only do you face an uphill battle in your particular marketplace as a newcomer, but transforming your everyday living quarters into the home of your new business can be incredibly difficult.

Your home has always been a place of relaxation and usually a safe haven from stress, but once you embark on your entrepreneurial journey, you seemingly give those qualities away.

Here are 8 tips that will help you not only be successful at home, but also allow you to maintain a safe work/life balance:

1. Create a separate working space

Create a separate working space that can be closed off from your normal living area. Set yourself up in an office, basement or any area that is easy to close off from the rest of your home. This area will be known to those in your home as a “work only zone” and can convey the point that when you are there, you are working.

2. Make your space comfortable

In this area, make sure you create a comfortable and functional work space complete with a comfortable chair, good lighting and of course, a computer desk that conveys business and comfort. By creating a comfortable working space, you will be able to focus solely on your business and push aside any confusion of the work/life line.

“If you don’t pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves.” – David Allen

3. Your desk and chair combo is more important than you think

Obviously a basic four-legged, single drawer desk and kitchen table chair will do the trick, but it’s important to make sure that your workspace will help keep you engaged. Additional options such as adjustable height desks, ergonomic chairs and adjustable lighting can help you stay engaged on your work when the day starts to labor along.

4. Stick to a schedule

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of creating a work schedule. Maybe you don’t want to work your basic “9-5” – that’s fine, but make sure that your schedule is consistent and that each day, you know what to expect of your schedule. Plan to give yourself two 15-minute breaks each day at the same time and a lunch time which you regularly abide by. Setting these mental work guidelines will help you become more productive in between your set breaks.

5. Get a white board

Utilizing a whiteboard for ideation, planning and reminders allows you to layout any thought in an easy way that can be helpful to the more visual learner. Notebooks, sticky notes and computer notes are helpful, but both can be misplaced or ignored whereas a whiteboard is always in the same spot and easy to reference. This will also give you a chance to get up from your (hopefully comfortable) seat once in awhile.

6. Record how you spend your time

By keeping tabs on yourself, you will likely be motivated by the idea of looking at a “Tasks Completed” list at the end of the day. This motivation will make you do more work and keep you from getting sidetracked.

7. Limit distraction

Don’t put a TV in your office. Limiting your distractions isn’t easy to do with alternative entertainment surrounding you in your home, but as much as you can eliminate these possible distractions the more work you will be able to accomplish. It may seem very miniscule, but even leaving on the morning news in your office can severely limit your progress on daily tasks.

“Work is hard. Distractions are plentiful. And time is short.” – Adam Hochschild

8. Set boundaries

Set boundaries with your family, significant others and even pets. To your family or significant other, “being home” all day might make the work/life line a bit blurry so be sure to set the boundaries early.

A good rule of thumb is that your office is your workplace and during your set work hours, you are actually at work. Setting these boundaries will allow you to complete your daily work without being bothered with things that you wouldn’t have to do while working at an office.

Overall, working from home is a great opportunity, and sometimes the only option, for entrepreneurs looking to make a name for themselves. The best part about starting your own business is that your business will only work as well as you do. Success and failure is in your hands and if you have a difficult time working in your home, you business could suffer.

What are some things you do to stay productive when working from home? Leave your thoughts below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

Kyle Portman is an Interior and Exterior Design Consultant based in Canada and has been working for himself since 2012. In his spare time he loves to write and go on long trips with his dog, Bengal. Hit him on Twitter @KJ_Port91

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Entrepreneurs

4 Important Life Lessons You Can Learn From Billionaire Jim Koch

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Jim Koch is an American entrepreneur, author and a passionate beer lover who left his lucrative business in Wall Street to start his own beer company, Boston Beer, from scratch and make it among the most successful brands in the US market with an annual revenue of around $1 billion. I have read a few books about Koch, including his book, Quench Your Own Thirst: Business Lessons Learned Over a Beer or Two, and below are four lessons I believe you should learn from Koch`s thrilling life.

1. Do what you love

Koch had a business and law degree from Harvard and had a lucrative, high-paying job, yet he wasn’t happy. When he thought about the whole situation, he realized that consulting wasn’t what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. So he quit after spending five years at a consulting group in Boston and went to do what he loved best; manufacturing and selling beer.

“Getting rich is life’s biggest booby trap. It comes down to what would you rather be, happy or rich? I say do what’s gonna make you happy.” – Jim Koch

2. Career wanderings aren’t bad

If you still can’t find your calling or have wasted a couple of years working on something you later found out  doesn`t fit you, don`t worry. Koch`s career path wasn`t linear. He began his adulthood life deciding to be in the beer business. In fact, he was encouraged not to do so by his father whose net income in the last six months of his brewing career was less than $500.

Koch found his calling at the age of 34 and believes he wouldn’t have made it without his many career wanderings, including working as an outward bound instructor and spending three and a half years mountaineering across America.

One of the lessons he learned from that job is that you never climb a mountain to get to the middle. You either aim for the top or don`t climb at all. With this lesson in mind, Koch intended to make The Boston Beer Company the biggest high-end beer in America, and now his net worth is over $1 billion.

3. When there’s a will, there’s a way

When he launched his first product, Koch`s best idea was to hire someone to sell it for him because, though he knew a lot about brewing and the law, he wasn’t a good salesman. Unfortunately, none of the five Boston-based wholesalers agreed to represent him thinking the market wasn’t ready for an expensive American beer.

So he got himself a wholesaler license, leased a truck and hovered around Boston cold-calling bars. They liked his beer, and the wholesaler`s cut went into his pocket.

“The values you want to live have to come from your own living heart. You have to be the best model of those values. You have to push yourself to the highest possible standard, because it’s not reasonable to expect anybody else to have a higher standard than you do as a leader.” – Jim Koch

4. Monday may never come

One Friday morning, a friend left a message with Koch`s secretary that he would call him on Monday. Unfortunately, that man didn’t make it and died of a heart attack on Sunday. So Koch asked for that message to be framed and hung on his office wall to remind him that Monday doesn’t always come. The lesson here is simple; life is short and whatever you have on your plate do it ASAP, if not now.

One of the things you must do, according to Koch, is start collecting experiences as quickly as possible. If you’re in your twenties or thirties, the best question to ask yourself is “What experiences will I regret not having ten years from now?” Write them down, make a plan and a deadline and use necessity and pressure to force yourself to take action because you probably won’t have enough time or freedom to do many things once you start a career, get married, and have a family.

Life is also short relationship-wise. You don’t know when your loved ones will go. A parent, a friend, or that cheerful old lady who greets you every time you meet on the streets. One day, one of you will leave, and you don’t know whether you`ll ever have a goodbye moment together.

So make it a habit each day of calling somebody you haven’t seen in years or make sure your friends or parents are okay. It will make both of you feel good, and when that inevitable moment comes, you won’t have many regrets.

What is something you have learned from Jim Koch? Comment below!

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These 10 Steps Will Help Any Entrepreneur Get Their Game Right

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You followed your heart. You turned your passion into your mission. Your fear of regret superseded your fear of going for it. You’ve worked hard, but the success you desire didn’t arrive on schedule. You’ve had achievements, followed gurus, and kept your dream alive through sheer tenacity and a determination not to return to the hamster wheel from which you jumped.

You’re exhilarated at the thought of being your own boss, working alongside your dog, and not punching a time clock. What you may not have known about entrepreneurship is that, like raising kids, there are ups and downs, overwhelm and excitement, pain and joy. You’ll think you’re doing it wrong most of the time, while secretly hoping you’re getting some of it right. You’ll want to quit. To all those statements, I can say, me too.

Here’s 10 ways to change your game and get it right:

1. Refine and release your product offering

Your business isn’t just about what you’re selling and what problem it’s solving. Focus on what gives your life meaning and how what your offering represents that. You’re selling your story, not your product or service.  And, if you’re stuck in the pondering, refining, revising, rewriting, or redesigning stage, move forward. Get a good, not perfect, product out there. Rinse and repeat. Done is better than perfect unless you’re engineering heart valves or knee replacements.

2. Build your brand from your heart, not your head

If no one knows who you are, where to find you or what you do, they can’t buy from you.  A legitimate problem but easily solvable. The step that matters most to your bottom line, however, is incorporating bits of your journey and soul, not just your expertise. Focus on being resonant. A great brand builds relationships and relationships are why buyers choose you over and over.

3. Determine if you have a fear of failure, a fear of success or both

You are probably clear on fear of failure- the hesitancy that comes with the fact that what you’re doing might not work out and could be painful to you and your bank account. What you may be less familiar with is a fear of success, that can be equally paralyzing because you have deep-seated worries about how your life will change if your business really takes off.

You might be disappointed that you haven’t reached your goals, but you are comfortable with the familiarity of how your life is now. Fear of success is released the same way as fear of failure. Ask yourself three questions. What’s the worst that can happen if I’m successful? Can I handle it? And, what’s the best that can happen? Then choose comfortable and familiar or success.

“Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out.” – Karl Augustus Menninger

4. Hustle

When you link your service to your story, you can easily talk to everyone all the time about what you do without sounding coercive or salesy.  If you want to be successful, you have to be the mayor. Fake being outgoing until you’re outgoing. You may have held back because hustling sounds icky. You may also have mistakenly thought you were hustling when you weren’t!

If you work all the time but aren’t getting where you want to go, you may be doing more of what’s comfortable rather than what works. Give your inner badass entrepreneur a hustler nickname and embrace that part of you that knows you’re in business to make money as well as making the planet a better place.

5. Focus on what you don’t do well but desperately need

If you’re spending all your time becoming more of an expert at what you do, chasing more credentials and living in the comfort zone, but you’re neglecting marketing, strategic planning, competitive analysis or some other part of your business, success will continue to elude you. Instead of listening to Ted talks and reading journal articles in your field, focus on the major players in business like Tim Ferriss, Tony Robbins, and Gary Vaynerchuk and everyone they interview.

6. Focus on the small goals on the way to the big dream

I love dreaming big, like focusing on becoming a NY Times best-selling author. That goal is definitely on my vision board but so is to finish writing the book and get it published. That’s a simple example but overlooking consistent, focused small steps while affirming the big goal will not get you where you want to go. Don’t focus on a net income of $2 million when, immediately, you need to focus on making enough money to keep you out of a day job.

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” – Jim Rohn

7. Make “I can” your new motto. Banish “I can’t” from your vocabulary

It’s rarely true anyway. You can say: I don’t know how, I’m working on it, and I need to figure it out, which all imply that there is a solution to be had. I can’t is final and permits you to quit. I can, not only psychologically primes your brain to find a solution, it switches your thoughts from a fixed to a growth mindset.

8. Ask for help

It’s easy to slip into excuses, like “everyone’s busy”, “you have to pay people to help you” and “why would so and so want to help me”.  It’s a risk to ask for assistance. However, wishing, wanting and hoping what you need magically appears succeeds far less often than asking for it. The answer will either be a yes or a no, and either is ok. Don’t take it personally. As Jack Canfield says, every no brings you closer to a yes. Be sure to show or tell them why they want to help you and offer to assist them in return.

9. Know your role models

Don’t reinvent the wheel because wheels exist. Find who’s doing what you want to do, be and have. Study them, contact them, and do what they did. For work, life and relationships- know your role models. And keep it in perspective. Your big goal may be that your mentors become your friends but you need them to be your mentors first.

10. Enlist a support team

You need your cheerleaders and tough lovers. These are people who will provide unbiased support- celebrating the victories, cheering you through the difficulties and asking the tough questions that help you win big. They brainstorm solutions and provide much-needed connection for the SOULpreneur.

Most of success is mental, not mechanics, but these steps cover both, require no financial investment, and you can start on them today. As mega fitness superstar, Shaun T says, “Let’s goooo!”

What gets you excited? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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7 Mistakes You Must Avoid When Hiring a Virtual Assistant

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As my online business has grown over the years, I have felt the need to get some additional hands on board. Since I am big on being flexible, I didn’t want to hire someone as an employee and then worry about giving them a place to work or being there to monitor them. I decided to try my hands at hiring a virtual assistant (VA). While I have hired and worked with many virtual assistants so far, I made some basic mistakes when I hired my first VA last year.

Below, I have shared the seven mistakes I made that one must avoid when hiring a virtual assistant:

1. Not having a clear role for your Virtual Assistant

When I decided to hire a VA, my decision was driven by getting some work transferred to the VA. The mistake here was that I did not think about the exact work I would pass on to him/her.

So, I came across a VA on Facebook and interviewed him. While he seemed like a great guy with a good attitude, he was low on the skills part. Nonetheless, I considered hiring him and then training him on the job.

If I had a clear role in mind for my VA, I could have avoided hiring the VA I did, as he didn’t fit my criteria. But since there was none, I made the mistake of hiring him.

2. Not asking for previous work examples

No matter how great a VA looks, without prior work samples, you have no way to gauge the quality of his/her work. As a rule, always ask for samples. In case the VA doesn’t have related samples, you can ask him/her to do a little sample work for you and then gauge the quality.

3. Not training your Virtual Assistant

When hiring a VA, you must know that it will cost you money as well as some time in the beginning. Unless you have hired a highly skilled VA who is ready to hit the road from the very first day, you need to spend time training him/her. Remember that your business and your way of working is completely new to the VA and you need to hold their hand for the initial few weeks.

Having said that, you’re only helping the VA in areas of your business and your work. You shouldn’t train him/her on basic skills such as email writing, or Excel.

You don’t have to do it all by yourself.” – Whitney Wolfe

4. Not using the right tools

You need to have a system to keep the work going smoothly when working with a VA. When you have a system in place, keeping track of your VA’s work, giving them feedback, and planning ahead is a lot simpler.

Simple things such as creating a Google Drive or Dropbox folder for the VA’s work, using tools such Google Sheets, Slack, and Trello can really streamline your work and save a lot of time.

5. Not giving clear instructions and timely feedback

Your VA can’t read your mind. If you don’t give clear instructions, you shouldn’t expect high-quality work from their end. As a best practice, it helps in being crystal clear in your instructions. While you may find this time consuming, it’s a lot better than to get something low quality in need to rework.

Also, it’s is important to review your VA’s work and give them timely feedback. For the first few weeks, you can opt for daily short check-ins. This becomes a lot more important when you’re working with someone in a different time zone. If you don’t correct them in something when they make a mistake, you risk wasting another day.

6. Not being patient

Even if you hire a perfect candidate, he/she is likely to take time to acclimatize to your business and your style of working. While it’s a good practice to keep a strict tab on the VA’s work, you shouldn’t expect them to start firing on all cylinders from Day 1.

A reasonable expectation should be to transfer your work gradually to the VA (over the next few weeks or even months), and train them appropriately. You need to be patient in the initial days and understand that your VA may slowly cope up and perform as per your expectations.

“Patience is a virtue, and I’m learning patience. It’s a tough lesson.” – Elon Musk

7. Not calculating the ROI

When you invest in a VA, you need to have a clear idea on what benefit you’re looking for. For example, would hiring a VA allow you to expand your business, or would it allow you to delegate some work and focus on more important stuff.

Whatever the benefit, you need to think about the RoI (Return on Investment). Evaluate whether having a VA will help in generating a positive RoI or not. If you can’t peg a number to it, analyze whether the benefit of having a VA justifies the cost or not.

What are some mistakes you’ve made in hiring a VA? Comment below!

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Entrepreneurs

The 3 Essential Steps To Becoming A Thought Leader

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We live in an age of overwhelming information. The world is full of people supplying it and others who are seeking it. People everywhere are desperate for solutions and fresh insight. Those people who are able to provide them with the strongest, freshest, most relevant, and even most radical ideas, practically hold the keys to success. The individuals with this level of influence are the thought leaders.

If you are seeking to be more influential in your industry, the good news is that you don’t have to be born a thought leader—you can become one. So how do YOU rise above the noise and reach that level of influence?

In order to propel yourself forward as a thought leader, you NEED to follow these three steps:

Step 1 – Define Your Mission

Like a soldier in battle, your mission is THE ONE THING that you are responsible for fulfilling at all costs. To be a thought leader, you must have focus on what your goal is—where you are making your thought influence and where you are leading people.

Defining your mission does three things:

  • It declares to yourself what you are doing and how you are doing it so that you can move forward confidently. It provides a target to help you be as focused and effective as possible. It channels all your effort and creates a positive flow of creative energy.
  • A mission helps guarantee success by removing distraction. A thought leader knows that if anything distracts them from their stated mission they will lose their effectiveness as an influencer. A mission helps them objectively judge if something is helpful or not toward achieving that goal of dominant influence in a particular area.
  • Missions that are well-defined let your followers easily place their trust in you. When somebody doesn’t know what they are doing or where they are leading people, they lose credibility. No one wants to follow someone who appears to be going nowhere.

As an example, to someone who might want to be a thought leader in the world of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), they might define a mission similar to this: “My mission is to help people understand the value of SEO to their organizations and provide a clear roadmap for implementing it effectively.”

Such a statement will focus you the influencer and allow your followers to easily buy into your leadership.

“Outstanding people have one thing in common: An absolute sense of mission.” – Zig Ziglar

Step 2 – Determine Your Message

If your mission is how you are focused on helping people, your message is what you are going to tell them to get their attention.

Your message will consist of the following:

  • It includes your one core premise, or thesis; the singular idea that you believe everyone needs to know. This becomes your rallying cry.
  • A powerful message will include your personal story so people can see that you are credible to speak on the subject as well as to be empathetic to their concerns. It lets people know that you understand their struggle as well as have a solution for them. Your message helps you be relatable.
  • Your message should ideally be thought-provoking to bring about an entirely new perspective as well as include a sense of urgency that reveals the consequences for continuing in the same old patterns of looking at things.

Your message is your gospel of hope and personal testimony that it works. With it, you awaken people to their need or confirm to them that you understand and are the best person to help them through their struggle and find salvation.

The SEO thought leader might have a message something like this: “SEO is constantly changing and every organization must embrace an aggressive stance for it or succumb to those organizations who will. I have the keys to help you effectively implement the SEO plan you need to be successful.”

They would then follow by sharing their personal story of how they came to be so convicted regarding this stance and how they implemented it with great success.

“I have a message to give to the world, and I shall not be thwarted.” – Elizabeth Kenny

Step 3 – Develop Your Method

Your method is the structured system that you use to help your people understand and implement your message. Your method doesn’t have to be long or complex—the strongest methods are simple and easily memorable. An ideal method will have three to seven action points to follow.

Our SEO thought leader’s method will follow a very simple format such as,“Step One—Define your target audience’s greatest needs, Step Two—Create an SEO plan around the keywords they search for,etc.”

Until they’ve covered all of the steps necessary to realize the solution to their follower’s problems, each step is where their level of expertise will shine through with great insight backed by compelling evidence.

Although this format might sound overly-simplified, there aren’t a lot of influential thought leaders out there precisely because most people can’t distill a plan down to this degree and bring the amount of clarity necessary for it to be effective.

Great thought leaders overlay their action points by taking their thought-followers on a journey that looks very similar to this:

  1. Open their eyes to see how things have always been,
  2. Show them what that has got them,
  3. Reveal and prove that there is another way to think about that area (your way), and
  4. Show them how powerful the new way can be.

Who are your favorite thought leaders? Please comment below!

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10 Amazing Leadership Lessons From Design Thinking

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Leadership is a challenging proposition in a world of disruptions and changes due to the rate of change being overwhelming. How do leaders cope with constant changes, enormous expectations and an unpredictable future? Well, a lot of the top organisations including Pepsi, Nike, Apple and Google use Design Thinking for leadership matters. (more…)

Apoorve Dubey is the founder and C.E.O of Kreyon Systems Pvt. Ltd, a fast growing Software company that serves clients in more than 10 countries. He is an alumnus of IIT Madras. He is the author of the best-selling book, “The Flight of Ambition” published by Macmillan and a co-author of “Successful organisations in action”. The driving passion in his life remains to be able to contribute to the success of others. To know more about Apoorve and his work, you can visit www.kreyonsystems.com, his twitter handle is @ApoorveDubey

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4 Important Life Lessons You Can Learn From Billionaire Jim Koch

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Jim Koch is an American entrepreneur, author and a passionate beer lover who left his lucrative business in Wall Street to start his own beer company, Boston Beer, from scratch and make it among the most successful brands in the US market with an annual revenue of around $1 billion. I have read a few books about Koch, including his book, Quench Your Own Thirst: Business Lessons Learned Over a Beer or Two, and below are four lessons I believe you should learn from Koch`s thrilling life.

1. Do what you love

Koch had a business and law degree from Harvard and had a lucrative, high-paying job, yet he wasn’t happy. When he thought about the whole situation, he realized that consulting wasn’t what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. So he quit after spending five years at a consulting group in Boston and went to do what he loved best; manufacturing and selling beer.

“Getting rich is life’s biggest booby trap. It comes down to what would you rather be, happy or rich? I say do what’s gonna make you happy.” – Jim Koch

2. Career wanderings aren’t bad

If you still can’t find your calling or have wasted a couple of years working on something you later found out  doesn`t fit you, don`t worry. Koch`s career path wasn`t linear. He began his adulthood life deciding to be in the beer business. In fact, he was encouraged not to do so by his father whose net income in the last six months of his brewing career was less than $500.

Koch found his calling at the age of 34 and believes he wouldn’t have made it without his many career wanderings, including working as an outward bound instructor and spending three and a half years mountaineering across America.

One of the lessons he learned from that job is that you never climb a mountain to get to the middle. You either aim for the top or don`t climb at all. With this lesson in mind, Koch intended to make The Boston Beer Company the biggest high-end beer in America, and now his net worth is over $1 billion.

3. When there’s a will, there’s a way

When he launched his first product, Koch`s best idea was to hire someone to sell it for him because, though he knew a lot about brewing and the law, he wasn’t a good salesman. Unfortunately, none of the five Boston-based wholesalers agreed to represent him thinking the market wasn’t ready for an expensive American beer.

So he got himself a wholesaler license, leased a truck and hovered around Boston cold-calling bars. They liked his beer, and the wholesaler`s cut went into his pocket.

“The values you want to live have to come from your own living heart. You have to be the best model of those values. You have to push yourself to the highest possible standard, because it’s not reasonable to expect anybody else to have a higher standard than you do as a leader.” – Jim Koch

4. Monday may never come

One Friday morning, a friend left a message with Koch`s secretary that he would call him on Monday. Unfortunately, that man didn’t make it and died of a heart attack on Sunday. So Koch asked for that message to be framed and hung on his office wall to remind him that Monday doesn’t always come. The lesson here is simple; life is short and whatever you have on your plate do it ASAP, if not now.

One of the things you must do, according to Koch, is start collecting experiences as quickly as possible. If you’re in your twenties or thirties, the best question to ask yourself is “What experiences will I regret not having ten years from now?” Write them down, make a plan and a deadline and use necessity and pressure to force yourself to take action because you probably won’t have enough time or freedom to do many things once you start a career, get married, and have a family.

Life is also short relationship-wise. You don’t know when your loved ones will go. A parent, a friend, or that cheerful old lady who greets you every time you meet on the streets. One day, one of you will leave, and you don’t know whether you`ll ever have a goodbye moment together.

So make it a habit each day of calling somebody you haven’t seen in years or make sure your friends or parents are okay. It will make both of you feel good, and when that inevitable moment comes, you won’t have many regrets.

What is something you have learned from Jim Koch? Comment below!

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These 10 Steps Will Help Any Entrepreneur Get Their Game Right

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entrepreneurship

You followed your heart. You turned your passion into your mission. Your fear of regret superseded your fear of going for it. You’ve worked hard, but the success you desire didn’t arrive on schedule. You’ve had achievements, followed gurus, and kept your dream alive through sheer tenacity and a determination not to return to the hamster wheel from which you jumped.

You’re exhilarated at the thought of being your own boss, working alongside your dog, and not punching a time clock. What you may not have known about entrepreneurship is that, like raising kids, there are ups and downs, overwhelm and excitement, pain and joy. You’ll think you’re doing it wrong most of the time, while secretly hoping you’re getting some of it right. You’ll want to quit. To all those statements, I can say, me too.

Here’s 10 ways to change your game and get it right:

1. Refine and release your product offering

Your business isn’t just about what you’re selling and what problem it’s solving. Focus on what gives your life meaning and how what your offering represents that. You’re selling your story, not your product or service.  And, if you’re stuck in the pondering, refining, revising, rewriting, or redesigning stage, move forward. Get a good, not perfect, product out there. Rinse and repeat. Done is better than perfect unless you’re engineering heart valves or knee replacements.

2. Build your brand from your heart, not your head

If no one knows who you are, where to find you or what you do, they can’t buy from you.  A legitimate problem but easily solvable. The step that matters most to your bottom line, however, is incorporating bits of your journey and soul, not just your expertise. Focus on being resonant. A great brand builds relationships and relationships are why buyers choose you over and over.

3. Determine if you have a fear of failure, a fear of success or both

You are probably clear on fear of failure- the hesitancy that comes with the fact that what you’re doing might not work out and could be painful to you and your bank account. What you may be less familiar with is a fear of success, that can be equally paralyzing because you have deep-seated worries about how your life will change if your business really takes off.

You might be disappointed that you haven’t reached your goals, but you are comfortable with the familiarity of how your life is now. Fear of success is released the same way as fear of failure. Ask yourself three questions. What’s the worst that can happen if I’m successful? Can I handle it? And, what’s the best that can happen? Then choose comfortable and familiar or success.

“Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out.” – Karl Augustus Menninger

4. Hustle

When you link your service to your story, you can easily talk to everyone all the time about what you do without sounding coercive or salesy.  If you want to be successful, you have to be the mayor. Fake being outgoing until you’re outgoing. You may have held back because hustling sounds icky. You may also have mistakenly thought you were hustling when you weren’t!

If you work all the time but aren’t getting where you want to go, you may be doing more of what’s comfortable rather than what works. Give your inner badass entrepreneur a hustler nickname and embrace that part of you that knows you’re in business to make money as well as making the planet a better place.

5. Focus on what you don’t do well but desperately need

If you’re spending all your time becoming more of an expert at what you do, chasing more credentials and living in the comfort zone, but you’re neglecting marketing, strategic planning, competitive analysis or some other part of your business, success will continue to elude you. Instead of listening to Ted talks and reading journal articles in your field, focus on the major players in business like Tim Ferriss, Tony Robbins, and Gary Vaynerchuk and everyone they interview.

6. Focus on the small goals on the way to the big dream

I love dreaming big, like focusing on becoming a NY Times best-selling author. That goal is definitely on my vision board but so is to finish writing the book and get it published. That’s a simple example but overlooking consistent, focused small steps while affirming the big goal will not get you where you want to go. Don’t focus on a net income of $2 million when, immediately, you need to focus on making enough money to keep you out of a day job.

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” – Jim Rohn

7. Make “I can” your new motto. Banish “I can’t” from your vocabulary

It’s rarely true anyway. You can say: I don’t know how, I’m working on it, and I need to figure it out, which all imply that there is a solution to be had. I can’t is final and permits you to quit. I can, not only psychologically primes your brain to find a solution, it switches your thoughts from a fixed to a growth mindset.

8. Ask for help

It’s easy to slip into excuses, like “everyone’s busy”, “you have to pay people to help you” and “why would so and so want to help me”.  It’s a risk to ask for assistance. However, wishing, wanting and hoping what you need magically appears succeeds far less often than asking for it. The answer will either be a yes or a no, and either is ok. Don’t take it personally. As Jack Canfield says, every no brings you closer to a yes. Be sure to show or tell them why they want to help you and offer to assist them in return.

9. Know your role models

Don’t reinvent the wheel because wheels exist. Find who’s doing what you want to do, be and have. Study them, contact them, and do what they did. For work, life and relationships- know your role models. And keep it in perspective. Your big goal may be that your mentors become your friends but you need them to be your mentors first.

10. Enlist a support team

You need your cheerleaders and tough lovers. These are people who will provide unbiased support- celebrating the victories, cheering you through the difficulties and asking the tough questions that help you win big. They brainstorm solutions and provide much-needed connection for the SOULpreneur.

Most of success is mental, not mechanics, but these steps cover both, require no financial investment, and you can start on them today. As mega fitness superstar, Shaun T says, “Let’s goooo!”

What gets you excited? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Entrepreneurs

7 Mistakes You Must Avoid When Hiring a Virtual Assistant

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As my online business has grown over the years, I have felt the need to get some additional hands on board. Since I am big on being flexible, I didn’t want to hire someone as an employee and then worry about giving them a place to work or being there to monitor them. I decided to try my hands at hiring a virtual assistant (VA). While I have hired and worked with many virtual assistants so far, I made some basic mistakes when I hired my first VA last year.

Below, I have shared the seven mistakes I made that one must avoid when hiring a virtual assistant:

1. Not having a clear role for your Virtual Assistant

When I decided to hire a VA, my decision was driven by getting some work transferred to the VA. The mistake here was that I did not think about the exact work I would pass on to him/her.

So, I came across a VA on Facebook and interviewed him. While he seemed like a great guy with a good attitude, he was low on the skills part. Nonetheless, I considered hiring him and then training him on the job.

If I had a clear role in mind for my VA, I could have avoided hiring the VA I did, as he didn’t fit my criteria. But since there was none, I made the mistake of hiring him.

2. Not asking for previous work examples

No matter how great a VA looks, without prior work samples, you have no way to gauge the quality of his/her work. As a rule, always ask for samples. In case the VA doesn’t have related samples, you can ask him/her to do a little sample work for you and then gauge the quality.

3. Not training your Virtual Assistant

When hiring a VA, you must know that it will cost you money as well as some time in the beginning. Unless you have hired a highly skilled VA who is ready to hit the road from the very first day, you need to spend time training him/her. Remember that your business and your way of working is completely new to the VA and you need to hold their hand for the initial few weeks.

Having said that, you’re only helping the VA in areas of your business and your work. You shouldn’t train him/her on basic skills such as email writing, or Excel.

You don’t have to do it all by yourself.” – Whitney Wolfe

4. Not using the right tools

You need to have a system to keep the work going smoothly when working with a VA. When you have a system in place, keeping track of your VA’s work, giving them feedback, and planning ahead is a lot simpler.

Simple things such as creating a Google Drive or Dropbox folder for the VA’s work, using tools such Google Sheets, Slack, and Trello can really streamline your work and save a lot of time.

5. Not giving clear instructions and timely feedback

Your VA can’t read your mind. If you don’t give clear instructions, you shouldn’t expect high-quality work from their end. As a best practice, it helps in being crystal clear in your instructions. While you may find this time consuming, it’s a lot better than to get something low quality in need to rework.

Also, it’s is important to review your VA’s work and give them timely feedback. For the first few weeks, you can opt for daily short check-ins. This becomes a lot more important when you’re working with someone in a different time zone. If you don’t correct them in something when they make a mistake, you risk wasting another day.

6. Not being patient

Even if you hire a perfect candidate, he/she is likely to take time to acclimatize to your business and your style of working. While it’s a good practice to keep a strict tab on the VA’s work, you shouldn’t expect them to start firing on all cylinders from Day 1.

A reasonable expectation should be to transfer your work gradually to the VA (over the next few weeks or even months), and train them appropriately. You need to be patient in the initial days and understand that your VA may slowly cope up and perform as per your expectations.

“Patience is a virtue, and I’m learning patience. It’s a tough lesson.” – Elon Musk

7. Not calculating the ROI

When you invest in a VA, you need to have a clear idea on what benefit you’re looking for. For example, would hiring a VA allow you to expand your business, or would it allow you to delegate some work and focus on more important stuff.

Whatever the benefit, you need to think about the RoI (Return on Investment). Evaluate whether having a VA will help in generating a positive RoI or not. If you can’t peg a number to it, analyze whether the benefit of having a VA justifies the cost or not.

What are some mistakes you’ve made in hiring a VA? Comment below!

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Entrepreneurs

The 3 Essential Steps To Becoming A Thought Leader

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We live in an age of overwhelming information. The world is full of people supplying it and others who are seeking it. People everywhere are desperate for solutions and fresh insight. Those people who are able to provide them with the strongest, freshest, most relevant, and even most radical ideas, practically hold the keys to success. The individuals with this level of influence are the thought leaders.

If you are seeking to be more influential in your industry, the good news is that you don’t have to be born a thought leader—you can become one. So how do YOU rise above the noise and reach that level of influence?

In order to propel yourself forward as a thought leader, you NEED to follow these three steps:

Step 1 – Define Your Mission

Like a soldier in battle, your mission is THE ONE THING that you are responsible for fulfilling at all costs. To be a thought leader, you must have focus on what your goal is—where you are making your thought influence and where you are leading people.

Defining your mission does three things:

  • It declares to yourself what you are doing and how you are doing it so that you can move forward confidently. It provides a target to help you be as focused and effective as possible. It channels all your effort and creates a positive flow of creative energy.
  • A mission helps guarantee success by removing distraction. A thought leader knows that if anything distracts them from their stated mission they will lose their effectiveness as an influencer. A mission helps them objectively judge if something is helpful or not toward achieving that goal of dominant influence in a particular area.
  • Missions that are well-defined let your followers easily place their trust in you. When somebody doesn’t know what they are doing or where they are leading people, they lose credibility. No one wants to follow someone who appears to be going nowhere.

As an example, to someone who might want to be a thought leader in the world of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), they might define a mission similar to this: “My mission is to help people understand the value of SEO to their organizations and provide a clear roadmap for implementing it effectively.”

Such a statement will focus you the influencer and allow your followers to easily buy into your leadership.

“Outstanding people have one thing in common: An absolute sense of mission.” – Zig Ziglar

Step 2 – Determine Your Message

If your mission is how you are focused on helping people, your message is what you are going to tell them to get their attention.

Your message will consist of the following:

  • It includes your one core premise, or thesis; the singular idea that you believe everyone needs to know. This becomes your rallying cry.
  • A powerful message will include your personal story so people can see that you are credible to speak on the subject as well as to be empathetic to their concerns. It lets people know that you understand their struggle as well as have a solution for them. Your message helps you be relatable.
  • Your message should ideally be thought-provoking to bring about an entirely new perspective as well as include a sense of urgency that reveals the consequences for continuing in the same old patterns of looking at things.

Your message is your gospel of hope and personal testimony that it works. With it, you awaken people to their need or confirm to them that you understand and are the best person to help them through their struggle and find salvation.

The SEO thought leader might have a message something like this: “SEO is constantly changing and every organization must embrace an aggressive stance for it or succumb to those organizations who will. I have the keys to help you effectively implement the SEO plan you need to be successful.”

They would then follow by sharing their personal story of how they came to be so convicted regarding this stance and how they implemented it with great success.

“I have a message to give to the world, and I shall not be thwarted.” – Elizabeth Kenny

Step 3 – Develop Your Method

Your method is the structured system that you use to help your people understand and implement your message. Your method doesn’t have to be long or complex—the strongest methods are simple and easily memorable. An ideal method will have three to seven action points to follow.

Our SEO thought leader’s method will follow a very simple format such as,“Step One—Define your target audience’s greatest needs, Step Two—Create an SEO plan around the keywords they search for,etc.”

Until they’ve covered all of the steps necessary to realize the solution to their follower’s problems, each step is where their level of expertise will shine through with great insight backed by compelling evidence.

Although this format might sound overly-simplified, there aren’t a lot of influential thought leaders out there precisely because most people can’t distill a plan down to this degree and bring the amount of clarity necessary for it to be effective.

Great thought leaders overlay their action points by taking their thought-followers on a journey that looks very similar to this:

  1. Open their eyes to see how things have always been,
  2. Show them what that has got them,
  3. Reveal and prove that there is another way to think about that area (your way), and
  4. Show them how powerful the new way can be.

Who are your favorite thought leaders? Please comment below!

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