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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

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Entrepreneurs

7 Things You Need to Do to Grow as an Entrepreneur

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Startups are on the rise and youngsters are keen to launch their own business instead of a nine-to-five job. As simple as it sounds, opening a business needs patience and the right planning. Moreover, the profits gained can help you meet your financial obligations and realize other dreams.

Young entrepreneurs must learn the skills of investing money within the right channels as most startups fail because of a shortage of funds. Every entrepreneur has a chance to innovate, create new jobs and have an influence on society. It’s our responsibility to continually grow and push forward, usually beyond our comfort zones.

Here are the seven must-learn tips to grow as an entrepreneur:

1. Read Books and Articles

For many new entrepreneurs, your first mentors are usually found in the pages of books and blogs. Much often learned from the writings of others, and fortunately these days, people are sharing their experiences. A survey found that 88% of the world’s wealthiest people read for a minimum of 30 minutes daily. By comparison, only 2% of the overall population reads this much daily.

Read chapters in books, and articles to get new ideas and skills. Some ideas might not be directly relevant to what you’re doing these days however, it could come helpful a year or so down the road.

My advice is to search out those leaders and writers who resonate with you. You’ll understand when you’ve hit on something when you find yourself returning to a book for answers and inspiration time and time again.

“Books give a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.” – Plato

2. Perform SWOT Analysis

Business students and old-school marketers should be very aware of mapping out SWOT Analysis charts (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). If you’ve never made a SWOT chart, write out the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in four quadrants on a piece of paper.

In reality, you’ll jot down a couple of notes on the back of a cocktail napkin, however despite the simplicity, if done right, a SWOT will shed light on crucial areas that require improvement. Most significantly, don’t shy away from the truth. Dissecting your weaknesses isn’t fun however, no good comes from avoiding the fact.

3. Be Willing to Take Risks

It’s impossible to become an entrepreneur if you don’t take risks. Doesn’t matter how many times you’ve fallen. See how many times you stand-up. Being an Entrepreneur isn’t that easy; it’s an up-and-down game like a business. Be willing to come up with new plans even when old strategies are working. It’s through such risks that your business will grow. You’ll learn and meet new partners or investors. Even so, the risks must be calculated. Doing the analysis and making consultations is vital in this case.

4. Open Your Eyes Wide

Many opportunities are arising in the business world every day. For instance, many companies are willing to come up with a mobile solution for a startup without charging immoderate prices. This info can only be discovered if you’re keen.

Before dismissing adverts from websites and mainstream media, conclude if they’re relevant to your business. Also, follow the events happening in the stock market and international business summits. You’ll find the opportunities which will take your business to a new level.

Becoming successful as an entrepreneur is possible if you learn, take risks, evolve, innovate, and stay motivated. You must be realistic regarding your abilities and watch the events that unfold in your world.

5. Lead the Way for Your Team

Young entrepreneurs need to encourage employees and provide help at every juncture. For any young entrepreneur who aspires to be a leader it’s necessary to be:

  • Honest
  • Ambitious
  • Courage and Risk Taking
  • Dedicated
  • A Team-player
  • An effective listener
  • An effective communicator
  • Able to inspire confidence
  • Positive

An entrepreneur who has all the attributes of a leader leads the employees to productivity. It’s essential that the team respects a leader. The hunger and aspirations of the leader to strive for success inspire the employees to put in that extra effort to be successful.

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John C. Maxwell

6. Learn How to Keep Initial Success at Bay

Do not enjoy the shrubs of initial success for too long. Return to the drawing board and draw the future course of action. To move on to the next phase:

  • Utilize local and online channels to make hype for the services
  • Start expanding by hiring employees to enhance productivity
  • Cater to a good segment of the audience by providing various services
  • Re-invest the profitable revenue into new business efforts

Never let the initial success get to your head. The online platform is an ever-changing arena. Analyze what’s working and what new tactics can be utilized to strengthen the market base.

7. Find and Keep Business Partners

You will always go far if you have people to carry your hand during hardship in business. They’ll share ideas that have made them successful and provides you funds whenever necessary. Demonstrating that you are organized, capable, and serious is vital when nurturing such relationships. Keeping records, creating financial contributions to society, and attending forums are some of the choices worth trying.

Being an entrepreneur isn’t as easy as it looks. You’ll face many up-and-downs, risks, financial crisis, and many more. Be ready to face these problems if you want to be an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship isn’t about making money, it’s about innovating new things and represent new concepts and ideas to the world.

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Transitioning From Employee to Entrepreneur? Try Intrapreneurship First

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Studies show that 15 million Americans are self-employed full-time and that an estimated 27 million Americans will transition from the traditional workforce to full-time entrepreneurship by 2020. Additionally, it is asserted that entrepreneurs are 125% more successful if they have previously been employed in the industry in which they presently do business. This is all great news on many levels.

Chances are, if you are reading this article, you are considering transitioning from employee to entrepreneur, or perhaps you have already made the shift. I get it. I am one of the millions who has made the switch – trading stability and comfort for passion and freedom. However, if you are a potential full-time entrepreneur, there are many things to consider before making the leap.

How will I support myself and my family in the initial stages of development? What do I do if I fail? How do I maintain the drive needed to make a business successful? How will my business harness the creativity and innovation required to thrive in the marketplace? These are all valid questions and should be considered deeply.

If only there were a training ground to test your management capabilities, gain knowledge, think innovatively and be solution-focused. But, wait, there is. Your current employment can offer these opportunities and more – through intrapreneurship.

By definition, an intrapreneur is an employee of a company who has adopted an entrepreneurial mindset. Intrapreneurs are highly motivated self-starters and innovative, solution-driven thought leaders, who work within an organization. Because of this definition, acting in an intrapreneurial capacity in your current place of employment makes a great deal of sense when considering the move to self-employment. You can use your current employment status as a testing ground for where you want to be.

Here are four reasons why intrapreneurship can work for you:

1. See a problem. Solve a problem

All businesses should be designed to fulfill a need. Just as your own business should be able to justify its existence in the marketplace, initiatives within an organization should do the same. Closely examine processes and products in your place of employment. Determine what could be executed more productively. Alternatively, design a new initiative to creatively meet and exceed customer expectations. Acting in this manner will prepare you for building the structure and mission of your own business.

2. Creatively capitalize on skills and talents gained outside your employer

In many instances, we separate business from personal, and there are many good reasons for this approach. However, there are notable skills and talents used in your personal life that are transferable to the workplace. For example, if you engage in team sports, use your team building skills and charisma to involve your colleagues in projects.

If you love to read fiction books, integrate the creativity of the stories to bend the thinking of traditional methods of operation. The possibilities are many. Business owners rely on all life experiences, directly or tangentially related, for the benefit of their enterprises.

3. Intrapreneurship is for all employment levels

If you think intrapreneurship is only for c-suite executives, think again. Intrapreneurship is for the mailroom to the boardroom. As noted in the definition, intrapreneurship is about being a self-starter. You do not need permission from anyone to be highly motivated. Just as all parts of our bodies have a function, so do all positions in an organization. Even if you feel your position has no purpose in your organization, make one. We all have to start somewhere in our entrepreneurial journeys, so start right now, where you are.

4. Experiencing failure is inevitable. Move forward anyway.

All of us will experience failure at some point and multiple times as well. Failure will happen regardless if you remain employed or set out on our own. Be bold enough to move forward with establishing your voice and your place anyway. Business and life are about forward movement. Decide now what next step you will take if you fail. There is always a path forward. Get used to the possibility of your ideas being rejected and your designs being flawed now, so when you are a full-time entrepreneur, you will know how to advance.

Whether you are at the infancy stages of developing your own business, currently self-employed or even wish to remain an employee, establishing yourself as an initiator and innovator can reap many benefits for you and your company. That is the beauty of it.

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3 Ways to Remove the Hustle From Your Business Through the Power of Automation

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If you’re anything like me, when building your business online you may see asking for help or taking short cuts as cheating. I can’t explain why but when I first launched my business online, I wanted so badly to be able to do everything for myself. It gave me more of a sense of achievement, and I worked many extra hours than I probably needed to trying to do everything myself.

The admin, content creation, marketing, prospecting, web design…I’m sure you get the picture. But it all came to a head when I would burn myself out time and time again. I kept hitting a wall where my business was concerned as there was only 1 of me and only limited hours in the day.

I got bored of the hustle and thought there must be a much simpler way to build and market a business online. Especially as I was a single mother, looking after my child when I wasn’t running a business single handedly. That’s when I discovered something that not only gave me back my freedom but also transformed my business, bringing in enough revenue within 8 weeks to enable me to leave the day job and become a work from home mum.

It was the power of automation!

I looked all around me as well at the other mum’s building their businesses online but desperately struggling to make ends meet and wearing themselves out. I knew there was a way to simplify my sales and business processes.

Here are my top 3 recommended tools to start removing the hustle from your business today:

1. Messenger marketing

I use Manychat which is a messenger marketing platform which enables you to market to your subscribers directly through Facebook messenger. The ways in which you can use this incredible technology is endless but I will name a few ways in which you can use this in your business.

Automate your sales process! You can build a sales funnel with a messenger bot that can take your prospects through a warm up sequence, build the relationship with them, showcase all of your products and services and even take payments on autopilot.

You can register people for online events or training sessions using your messenger bot, communicate with everyone simultaneously and provide any updates direct to their messenger.

Do you have a membership, team or group of people you need to communicate with? Create a messenger bot specifically for them to enable you to communicate with everyone directly at the same time with just 1 click of a button. Subscription messages can also be sent and scheduled in advance.

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” – Bill Gates

2. Email marketing

Another form of digital marketing, email marketing has been around for some time but still very much has a place in today’s marketing world. You can use a lead page/landing page and an account with an email provider to automate all aspects of your sales process and communicate regularly with your subscribers.

Treat your list well, provide them with valuable content and you can build a tribe of loyal followers. If you match this with an ongoing ad campaign you have the ability to be making sales on autopilot.

Set your automation up and you can take your leads through your whole sales process and all the way up your product/service value ladder. If you sell digital products such as courses, this allows you to be earning a residual income whilst you sleep.

3. Automate your social media content

Zapier is the most incredible workflow automation tool I have ever come across. Allowing you to create automations between most apps that you can use online. For example, if you use spreadsheets, you can create a trigger every time a new entry is entered on your google sheet with an email address, they automatically get added to your mailing list and sent automated emails.

My favourite zap (an automation created between 2 apps) is between Trello and Buffer. You can connect both apps together in a seamless way which allows you to plan your social media content in Trello, write your content, set the date you wish the content to post, add an image and this will automatically send all of the information to your Buffer account and schedule the post for your social media accounts.

Even more incredible is that this system works across multiple platforms so you can use it to schedule content for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Instagram all at the same time.

“Automation and technology don’t cure behavioural ruts; they just create new instances of them.” – Kenneth Goldsmith

I can’t even begin to tell you how much my life has changed since implementing these into my business. In just 3 months my income increased by 500%. So it’s time to relax and start implementing some automation into that business of yours. The hustle is all a myth.

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5 Challenges New Entrepreneurs Will Face While Starting a Business

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Entrepreneurship is a field that comes with many obstacles and challenges. It’s important to be aware that sometimes it can be extremely difficult, especially for first-time entrepreneurs.

Before you launch your business, you need to be well equipped to face the challenges that’ll surely come your way. Mark Victor Hansen, Founder and Co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series, said “You don’t become enormously successful without encountering a number of extremely challenging problems.”

Here are the 5 challenges that you are likely to face and how you can overcome them:

1. Lifestyle Change

The experiences of entrepreneurship will change you profoundly, from the way you think, to how you act, to your manner of living. You begin to realize you’re not getting enough sleep, have little time for yourself, can’t spend the same amount of time with friends, and you get complaints from people closest to you This is all because you’re putting most, if not all your energy and focus into running your business.

The solution, in order to sustain your passion, is to make some tough choices and identify your priorities. You’ll need to sacrifice much while you learn new things. You can start by organizing your day the night before, by creating a list of your activities for the next day in terms of priority.

Constantly, visualize your destination and surround yourself with people that motivate, inspire and push you to be your best self. By the time you apply these principles, you’ll feel more relaxed and energized.

2. Facing Uncertainty

When you launch your business, even if you offer the best product or service in your industry, you’re bound to face uncertainty.

Your marketing strategy might fail, your customers may not be ready for your product or service because it’s too early, and your competition may be a little bit tougher than expected. Even if you’re able to handle all of this, it doesn’t mean you’ll get your desired paycheck. However, keep in mind, that if you are well prepared, you’ll be in the best position to handle any of these roadblocks without stress.

An important thing to do is to test your product in the marketplace. By doing this, you will observe how the market views your product or service and can get feedback as well. If you do this right, you’ll be on your way to launching a successful business. The joy that eventually comes from launching a successful business is the greatest feeling ever.

“Exploring the unknown requires tolerating uncertainty.” – Brian Greene

3. Team Building

Recruiting a trustworthy and reliable team is an important part of building a successful business. Every entrepreneur should know it’s important to recruit a strong team because your team can either make or break your business.

Lawrence Bossidy, Former Chairman and CEO of Honeywell, once said “I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day, you bet on people not on strategies.” The common mistake new entrepreneurs make is hiring too quickly and if this doesn’t turn out well, you might be setting yourself up for failure before you even begin.

One solution is to hire individuals you already know or get references from people you trust from your professional life. Having the right people around is significant because they will influence your decisions and therefore the success of your business. Choose wisely.

4. Capital Management

One of the major reasons many startups fail within the first few months of business is because of capital mismanagement. The common mistakes entrepreneurs make are spending prematurely and not separating personal account from your corporate account. Spending too early on items like business cards and marketing materials might just end up being too costly for your startup.

You need to stay on top of your cash flow by keeping track of all your business expenses. You need to create a budget and set up an emergency fund account. You may decide to hire an accountant to help handle your finances, so they can assist you in fine-tuning where the money goes.

“Money is usually attracted, not pursued.” – Jim Rohn

5. Loneliness

Starting and running a business can be very stressful. This pressure can cause entrepreneurs to feel alone and maybe even depressed. If it’s extreme, you may develop mental health problems. Studies show that 30% of entrepreneurs report a lifetime history of depression.

It’s vital to reach out to your support system regularly. Family, close friends or mentors can be a big help in getting you back to your best. Once in a while get together with your family and friends and do some fun activities.

Starting a business has it’s challenges but if you’re prepared and know what’s ahead or what to expect, it will be a little less surprising when you run into an obstacle and you’ll be able to take the hit better than you thought!

Have you wanted to start a business? If so, what’s holding you back from pursuing it 100%? Share your thoughts with us below so we can be of service to you!

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