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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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Early Success: 7 Entrepreneurs Who Got Rich During or After College

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Not all entrepreneurs wait until they have years of experience to start out on their own. Many have the confidence in their abilities and ideas to get an early start. The seven entrepreneurs below did just that. They either dropped out of school and found success quickly, or did so shortly after graduation.

1. Matt Mullenweg – WordPress

In 2003 Matt Mullenweg was a 19 year old freshman at the University of Houston. This was also the year he co founded WordPress. He’s also the cofounder of the Global Multimedia Protocols Group. That’s only the beginning. He also spent time at C-Net.

Thanks to these and other ventures, Mullenweg is now worth over 40 million dollars. He supports several charitable foundations including The Innocence Project and efforts to provide clean and safe drinking water to emerging nations.

2. Jen Rubio And Steph Korey – Away

Steph Korey was busy working on her advanced degree at Columbia university when her friend Jen Rubio approached her with an idea for a travel business. Rubio had been traveling when her suitcase failed in the middle of a Zurich airport. She reached out to friends via social media for recommendations on replacements. What she found was that nobody really had any. Apparently there simply weren’t suitcases that millennials found to be functional and affordable.

Jen got Steph on board and they launched Away, a luggage company dedicated to selling suitcases and other items directly to consumers. Since it was formed in 2015, they’ve raised 31 million dollars in capital and hired 66 employees. According to Rubio, “We were very lucky. My background is in branding and creative. Steph’s background is in product and supply chain and operations. Between us, we had a lot of things covered. We didn’t have to go outside for a lot of those things for a long time.”

3. Mark Zuckerberg – Facebook

Likely the most well known name on this list, Zuckerberg is still worth mentioning as an example of someone who decided to stop procrastinating and pursue their goals. Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook in 2004 while he was a student at Harvard. He and his friends created the social media platform to help other Harvard students connect with one another. Then, they began distributing the platform to other colleges and universities.

Zuckerberg left Harvard as a sophomore to continue building his enterprise. By the time he was 22, he became a millionaire. Since then, in spite of having many challengers, Facebook remains the premier social media platform. That, along with other platforms also owned by Facebook, including Instagram, show no sign of slowed growth.

 “Don’t let anyone tell you to change who you are.” – Mark Zuckerberg

4. Isa Watson – Envested

Isa Watson was working at Pfizer and well-entrenched in an MBA program at MIT Sloan when her father was tragically killed in a car accident. When she returned to her home city of Chapel Hill, her life began to take a definitive turn. Instead of following her dreams to head to Silicon Valley, she decided to stay in Chapel Hill and start a business with the goal of getting millennials to invest in local charitable initiatives.

To accomplish her goal, Watson along with other collaborators created Envested. This is, in essence a platform for local charities. Not for profits post profiles,  hold fundraising challenges, and tell their stories. At the same time, givers can sign up, learn more about local charities, and donate. Envested has even gamified charitable giving a bit with friends being able to see what one another is donating. Envested has raised 760K in funding.

5. Kyle Smitley – Barley And Birch

Kyle Smitley founded Barley and Birch in 2008. By 2009, the company had $400K in projected revenue. Her business, which produces an organic clothing line for children, quickly became popular with celebrities. In fact, both Jessica Alba and Sheryl Crow dressed their children in Barley And Birch. In addition to earning a sizeable profit early on, Smitley also committed to charitable giving.

After covering payroll and paying down a business loan, over half of Barley And Birch’s profits went to charity. What may be most impressive of all is that she launched this successful clothing company while she was a full time law student.

6. Lisa Q Fetterman – Nomiku

Fetterman graduated from journalism school at NYU, and immediately started a series of jobs in fine dining restaurants. She also worked as a journalist for several publications. However, it was a trend she witnessed in fine dining that would inspire her to start her own business. Fetterman noticed that several restaurants were using sous vide, a technique involving cooking meat and vegetables in a relatively low temperature water bath while vacuum sealed with herbs and marinades. Customers loved the result.

She and her future husband built a home sous vide unit on their first date. Then, they began assembling DIY kits for friends. This eventually grew into a business. Lisa Fetterman was only 26 when her business launched. Eventually, they raised $600K to launch Nomiku. The company now produces smart units that can be monitored and controlled via app. Their venture was also funded even further when Fetterman made an appearance on the show ‘Shark Tank’.

“When you’re ready to quit, you are closer than you think.” – Bob Parsons

7. Ryan Williams – Cadre

Williams entrepreneurial drive became clear when he was still a student at Harvard. There, he created technology that could track foreclosures. He and other students then used the information they mined to purchase and flip homes. After graduation, he spent time at Goldman Sachs then Blackstone. However, by the time  he was 26 he was ready to strike out on his own again. This time he founded Cadre. This is a platform that allows buyers and sellers to trade in nontraditional assets like they would stocks. He believes that this will create accessibility in areas such as real estate, oil, and energy where it did not previously exist. Currently, real estate is the primary focus of Cadre. Ryan William’s firm has currently earned north of $68 million in funding.

Conclusion

There are so many business ideas that started in college dorm rooms, or emerged shortly after. The entrepreneurs listed here are just a few examples of young people having great ideas and then putting those ideas into action. There are so many more, especially considering that a young entrepreneur can be successful without creating six or seven figures worth of revenue.

What did you learn from the stories of these entrepreneurs? Comment below!

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The 4 Difficult Lessons Every Successful Entrepreneur Must Learn

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Successful entrepreneurs are born learners, but often they focus on the wrong lessons. Yes, learning about financing, staff management, selling, marketing, product innovation, decision-making and risk taking are vital. However, there are other lessons that are just as important to the future of your business.

Learn these four lessons, really embed them into your psyche, and you’ll be in great shape to build a successful, sustainable business:

1. It’s essential to pivot

Startup businesses often go off like a rocket. You invest your money in building a top-line product or service, putting together a fantastic team, and making sure the design of your website and marketing material is just right. You invest so much time in this before you launch that you forget about sales and demand. You launch – and, well, all those customers you thought would be knocking down your door aren’t there. It’s a struggle to get through your first year in business.

Growing a business is all about product-market fit – matching up your offering with what customers actually want, ideally at a price that is profitable and appealing to the customer. The important lesson is that while every entrepreneur is passionate about their sector, very few can hit product-market fit first time. Don’t beat yourself up. Instead of getting frustrated about customers not buying from you, ask them why they aren’t. Then take what you’ve learnt and pivot in a new direction.

2. Process geeks are cool

I’ve worked with many brilliant and inspiring entrepreneurs. Some have gone on to build international businesses and others have foundered. What separates them? The truly successful ones all have one thing in common: scratch the surface and they’re process geeks.

Successful entrepreneurs enjoy the detail, they love separating each job into separate actions, seeing where they can make efficiencies and freeing up the bottlenecks. Every element of their business has a written process with clearly defined steps.   

If you’re a visionary, and most entrepreneurs are, the actual nitty gritty process of your business probably leaves you cold. You’re focused driving sales, bringing in new clients and building relationships. It’s the bigger picture all the way for you. Nonetheless, if you don’t put proper processes in place, your business will fail in the long run, no matter how many sales you’ve made or how big your client roster.  

“Details create the big picture.” – Sanford I. Weill

3. Hiring people smarter than you is clever

Everyone knows this one, right? The problem here is that though we all know it, we very often forget it. I’ve seen lots of entrepreneurs fall at this hurdle with sometimes catastrophic results. The reasons for this are very clear to me because some entrepreneurs are control freaks. They are big, extrovert personalities, and they have to be the top dog in the workplace. That means when it comes to hiring, though they think they’re focused on going for smart people, they’re actually choosing people who won’t threaten their ego. Hiring for a startup is difficult – there is no doubt.

Successful entrepreneurs know and understand themselves. They know their strengths and their personal weaknesses. Driven, go-getting extravert founders can be incredibly successful, but they need to surround themselves with people who are unafraid to challenge them. Otherwise, what you end up with later down the line is a business full of yes-men. Smart, yes-men, maybe, but still people who will go along with any mad idea you might have at 4 o’clock in the morning.

The best way to ensure this doesn’t happen to you is to get a second opinion from people you trust, even people outside the business or let your team interview the person, not you. Clearly this plan isn’t foolproof, because if you’ve already built a business full of yes-men they’re just going to pick someone like them. Nonetheless, nine times out of 10 you’ll end up with a new team member who’s not going to be afraid to tell you when you’re being an idiot.

4. All entrepreneurs are afraid – it’s normal

Every entrepreneur has sleepless nights. All startup founders worry that their business is going to go bust tomorrow. All entrepreneurs think they’re going to get found out. This is perfectly normal, and absolutely nothing to worry about. In fact, it’s all part of building a highly successful business. The trick is to ensure that it doesn’t start to impair your judgement or your health.

We’ve all heard stories of entrepreneurs who only sleep four hours per night, and work 80 hour weeks for years and years on end. While some do, most come to the correct conclusion after a few months that if they and their team must work 80 hours per week, they don’t have a viable business. The effects are more harmful than you might expect. Getting a good night’s sleep will calm you down.

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein

If your business is sustainable and you’ve just got into a cycle of fear that’s driving you to work ridiculous hours, then stop. Look again at your product-market fit and processes, hire some people smarter than you who will tell you you’re an idiot and go on holiday. Yes, one of those things where you leave the office and don’t come back for at least a week. Holidays are definitely not for wimps.

Successful entrepreneurs understand that it’s the big lessons that count. They are the portable life lessons that will carry you through the tough times ahead. If you can really nail these four lessons, you’ll not only be in great shape but you’ll be ahead of many of your fellow entrepreneurs.  

Which one of these four lessons do you need to implement most in your life? Let us know in the comments below!

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Qualities Of A Brilliant Salesperson Who Actually Closes Deals.

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I’ve spent the last ten years analyzing sales people and what separates the good, from the uninspiring, worn out, no good sales person that is toxic to any sales culture.

I’ve also worked in sales for a long time myself. These qualities are what have worked for many other high performing sales people I’ve worked with and me.

Here are the qualities of a brilliant salesperson:

 

They’re humble as F*#K.

They’re not the person trying to tear everyone else down.
They don’t think they’re the best.
They want to train the junior sales people.
They aspire to be a leader.

Humble salespeople do all of these things because they know that if they didn’t have access to those same tools, they’d never be where they are. Bragging is ugly and eventually, it will reflect in your sales performance.

No salesperson is ever going to be on top of the leaderboard forever.

That’s why it pays to be humble in sales.

 

They get that relationship is everything.

If someone doesn’t like you, they probably aren’t buying from you. We all buy from people we like.

A relationship with a client is built with the following tools:

– Respect
– Vulnerability
– And Rapport

If you nail those three tools, then you’ll have a genuine relationship with the client. A relationship is another word for trust. Once you’re trusted, you’ll get all the business.

“All the snake oil salesman in the world can’t take a client from you when you are the most trusted sales person they are dealing with”

 

They worship the power of referrals.

The religion of a salesperson who knows their craft is one word: referrals.

Referrals come from doing a good job and delivering on what you say you will. That quality is so rare and that’s why many salespeople don’t get referrals. If you want to compound your results, you must do your best to over deliver.

This doesn’t mean underselling so that you can deliver what the client actually paid for; over delivering is delivering more value than should normally be expected from the same product or service in the marketplace.

 

They have gone all in on social media.

Everyone Google’s everyone nowadays.

“If a customer Googles you and you appear nowhere, then you become a commodity. Unfortunately, that translates to a heavy bias towards price”

When someone looks you up, they should see a professional social media profile like LinkedIn, they should see at the very least some content from you about your industry, and some reviews or references from people you’ve previously sold too.

A strong social media presence allows brilliant salespeople to have warm prospects approach them rather than having to go looking for them. A brilliant salesperson can turn a “Hi, how are you Tim Bob?” into a “Yes let’s meet next week for coffee to discuss X business opportunity.”

 

They take the complex and make it simple.

That’s why we fell in love with Apple. They took hundreds of menus and turned them into a few beautiful app icons. Life is complex enough and a brilliant salesperson can help us take a load off by giving advice to us in easy to understand language.

This method of communication requires the “less is more approach,” no acronyms, no industry jargon and a step-by-step process that can easily be followed.

 

They tailor to the audience.

Corporate pitch? Better put a suit on.
Seeing a new, cool, funky startup? Probably best to wear a t-shirt and take a backpack.
First-time users of the product or service? Stick to the why and 2-3 useful takeaways.

 

They capture your attention.

Not by using PowerPoint decks, closing techniques and fancy catch phrases: by using their infectious personality and sense that they care about the needs of the customer.

 

They avoid overthinking.

It’s easy to procrastinate in sales and try and predict every move that a customer will make. In the end, the client will use mostly emotion to make a decision. Quit trying to overthink the outcome of a business opportunity and focus on going all in.

Give it everything you have and then if you lose the sale, it’s all gravy. Move on to the next business opportunity.

 

They make actual decisions.

Sales is hard which is why there are incentives. If it were easy, we’d all have the job title of “sales.”
Sales requires many consecutive and challenging decisions one after another. You have to convince not only the customer, but also the internal stakeholders such as the product and operational areas.

This process is a series of lots of small decisions that match the urgency of your customer. If you take too long, you lose the sale. If you overpromise, you’ll burn the client. If you don’t offer a competitive price, they may go elsewhere.

All of these are decisions and brilliant salespeople make them daily, and do so efficiently.

 

They always use deadlines.

Without a date to work too, we all get lost in the busy trap. Either you become too busy or the client does. This is not about hard sell techniques or fake offers that expire. If you can genuinely help your client, then you should want them to have that benefit as quickly as possible.

 

They are aware of their ego.

Ego is the enemy. If you think you’re some hot shot sales person, your prospective clients will run. Too much confidence and an inflated ego are usually a mask of a salesperson who’s covering something up. In other words, someone who lies for a living.

Humbleness, kindness and humility are how a brilliant salesperson attracts customers. Too much ego does the opposite.

 

They use discipline to their advantage.

As I said, sales is hard work. To be good at it, you need to be disciplined.

You can’t help everyone.
You only have so much time to prospect.
You have to make the calls, respond to emails and see clients to make target.

If you don’t do the basics, you can’t be a brilliant salesperson. Kobe Bryant put in the hours to become a great basketballer. He went to the gym, did the practice shots and ran until he passed out. Phone calls, emails and prospecting meetings are the exercises used in the sales world.

The more you do the exercises and stick to the plan, the closer you’ll get to Kobe’s success in the basketball world. We’re lazy by nature though, so discipline is key in sales.

 

They listen.

Too many salespeople talk your head off but don’t actually listen. Listening in sales is how you understand the customer and deliver a message that will allow them to make a buying decision. You’ll learn more from listening than talking. Phenomenal salespeople recognize this.

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

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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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3 Simple Steps to Remove Drama From Your Life Immediately

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You come home, tired from work, and as soon as you open the door, the drama hits you in the face. Either your boyfriend/girlfriend is throwing a tantrum which ends up in a full-out fight for hours or your boss has a love/hate relationship with you and gives you so many responsibilities that you end up working late in the night. Maybe it is simply your parents who keep forcing you to take the job, partner or university you don’t really want. (more…)

Bruno Boksic is a writer at Medium.com. An avid reader of personal development books, with a 7-year long experience of helping people become the best version of themselves. I don't have all the answers, but the ones I do, I share through my writing.  You can contact me at boksicbruno@gmail.com

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Early Success: 7 Entrepreneurs Who Got Rich During or After College

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Not all entrepreneurs wait until they have years of experience to start out on their own. Many have the confidence in their abilities and ideas to get an early start. The seven entrepreneurs below did just that. They either dropped out of school and found success quickly, or did so shortly after graduation.

1. Matt Mullenweg – WordPress

In 2003 Matt Mullenweg was a 19 year old freshman at the University of Houston. This was also the year he co founded WordPress. He’s also the cofounder of the Global Multimedia Protocols Group. That’s only the beginning. He also spent time at C-Net.

Thanks to these and other ventures, Mullenweg is now worth over 40 million dollars. He supports several charitable foundations including The Innocence Project and efforts to provide clean and safe drinking water to emerging nations.

2. Jen Rubio And Steph Korey – Away

Steph Korey was busy working on her advanced degree at Columbia university when her friend Jen Rubio approached her with an idea for a travel business. Rubio had been traveling when her suitcase failed in the middle of a Zurich airport. She reached out to friends via social media for recommendations on replacements. What she found was that nobody really had any. Apparently there simply weren’t suitcases that millennials found to be functional and affordable.

Jen got Steph on board and they launched Away, a luggage company dedicated to selling suitcases and other items directly to consumers. Since it was formed in 2015, they’ve raised 31 million dollars in capital and hired 66 employees. According to Rubio, “We were very lucky. My background is in branding and creative. Steph’s background is in product and supply chain and operations. Between us, we had a lot of things covered. We didn’t have to go outside for a lot of those things for a long time.”

3. Mark Zuckerberg – Facebook

Likely the most well known name on this list, Zuckerberg is still worth mentioning as an example of someone who decided to stop procrastinating and pursue their goals. Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook in 2004 while he was a student at Harvard. He and his friends created the social media platform to help other Harvard students connect with one another. Then, they began distributing the platform to other colleges and universities.

Zuckerberg left Harvard as a sophomore to continue building his enterprise. By the time he was 22, he became a millionaire. Since then, in spite of having many challengers, Facebook remains the premier social media platform. That, along with other platforms also owned by Facebook, including Instagram, show no sign of slowed growth.

 “Don’t let anyone tell you to change who you are.” – Mark Zuckerberg

4. Isa Watson – Envested

Isa Watson was working at Pfizer and well-entrenched in an MBA program at MIT Sloan when her father was tragically killed in a car accident. When she returned to her home city of Chapel Hill, her life began to take a definitive turn. Instead of following her dreams to head to Silicon Valley, she decided to stay in Chapel Hill and start a business with the goal of getting millennials to invest in local charitable initiatives.

To accomplish her goal, Watson along with other collaborators created Envested. This is, in essence a platform for local charities. Not for profits post profiles,  hold fundraising challenges, and tell their stories. At the same time, givers can sign up, learn more about local charities, and donate. Envested has even gamified charitable giving a bit with friends being able to see what one another is donating. Envested has raised 760K in funding.

5. Kyle Smitley – Barley And Birch

Kyle Smitley founded Barley and Birch in 2008. By 2009, the company had $400K in projected revenue. Her business, which produces an organic clothing line for children, quickly became popular with celebrities. In fact, both Jessica Alba and Sheryl Crow dressed their children in Barley And Birch. In addition to earning a sizeable profit early on, Smitley also committed to charitable giving.

After covering payroll and paying down a business loan, over half of Barley And Birch’s profits went to charity. What may be most impressive of all is that she launched this successful clothing company while she was a full time law student.

6. Lisa Q Fetterman – Nomiku

Fetterman graduated from journalism school at NYU, and immediately started a series of jobs in fine dining restaurants. She also worked as a journalist for several publications. However, it was a trend she witnessed in fine dining that would inspire her to start her own business. Fetterman noticed that several restaurants were using sous vide, a technique involving cooking meat and vegetables in a relatively low temperature water bath while vacuum sealed with herbs and marinades. Customers loved the result.

She and her future husband built a home sous vide unit on their first date. Then, they began assembling DIY kits for friends. This eventually grew into a business. Lisa Fetterman was only 26 when her business launched. Eventually, they raised $600K to launch Nomiku. The company now produces smart units that can be monitored and controlled via app. Their venture was also funded even further when Fetterman made an appearance on the show ‘Shark Tank’.

“When you’re ready to quit, you are closer than you think.” – Bob Parsons

7. Ryan Williams – Cadre

Williams entrepreneurial drive became clear when he was still a student at Harvard. There, he created technology that could track foreclosures. He and other students then used the information they mined to purchase and flip homes. After graduation, he spent time at Goldman Sachs then Blackstone. However, by the time  he was 26 he was ready to strike out on his own again. This time he founded Cadre. This is a platform that allows buyers and sellers to trade in nontraditional assets like they would stocks. He believes that this will create accessibility in areas such as real estate, oil, and energy where it did not previously exist. Currently, real estate is the primary focus of Cadre. Ryan William’s firm has currently earned north of $68 million in funding.

Conclusion

There are so many business ideas that started in college dorm rooms, or emerged shortly after. The entrepreneurs listed here are just a few examples of young people having great ideas and then putting those ideas into action. There are so many more, especially considering that a young entrepreneur can be successful without creating six or seven figures worth of revenue.

What did you learn from the stories of these entrepreneurs? Comment below!

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The 4 Difficult Lessons Every Successful Entrepreneur Must Learn

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Successful entrepreneurs are born learners, but often they focus on the wrong lessons. Yes, learning about financing, staff management, selling, marketing, product innovation, decision-making and risk taking are vital. However, there are other lessons that are just as important to the future of your business.

Learn these four lessons, really embed them into your psyche, and you’ll be in great shape to build a successful, sustainable business:

1. It’s essential to pivot

Startup businesses often go off like a rocket. You invest your money in building a top-line product or service, putting together a fantastic team, and making sure the design of your website and marketing material is just right. You invest so much time in this before you launch that you forget about sales and demand. You launch – and, well, all those customers you thought would be knocking down your door aren’t there. It’s a struggle to get through your first year in business.

Growing a business is all about product-market fit – matching up your offering with what customers actually want, ideally at a price that is profitable and appealing to the customer. The important lesson is that while every entrepreneur is passionate about their sector, very few can hit product-market fit first time. Don’t beat yourself up. Instead of getting frustrated about customers not buying from you, ask them why they aren’t. Then take what you’ve learnt and pivot in a new direction.

2. Process geeks are cool

I’ve worked with many brilliant and inspiring entrepreneurs. Some have gone on to build international businesses and others have foundered. What separates them? The truly successful ones all have one thing in common: scratch the surface and they’re process geeks.

Successful entrepreneurs enjoy the detail, they love separating each job into separate actions, seeing where they can make efficiencies and freeing up the bottlenecks. Every element of their business has a written process with clearly defined steps.   

If you’re a visionary, and most entrepreneurs are, the actual nitty gritty process of your business probably leaves you cold. You’re focused driving sales, bringing in new clients and building relationships. It’s the bigger picture all the way for you. Nonetheless, if you don’t put proper processes in place, your business will fail in the long run, no matter how many sales you’ve made or how big your client roster.  

“Details create the big picture.” – Sanford I. Weill

3. Hiring people smarter than you is clever

Everyone knows this one, right? The problem here is that though we all know it, we very often forget it. I’ve seen lots of entrepreneurs fall at this hurdle with sometimes catastrophic results. The reasons for this are very clear to me because some entrepreneurs are control freaks. They are big, extrovert personalities, and they have to be the top dog in the workplace. That means when it comes to hiring, though they think they’re focused on going for smart people, they’re actually choosing people who won’t threaten their ego. Hiring for a startup is difficult – there is no doubt.

Successful entrepreneurs know and understand themselves. They know their strengths and their personal weaknesses. Driven, go-getting extravert founders can be incredibly successful, but they need to surround themselves with people who are unafraid to challenge them. Otherwise, what you end up with later down the line is a business full of yes-men. Smart, yes-men, maybe, but still people who will go along with any mad idea you might have at 4 o’clock in the morning.

The best way to ensure this doesn’t happen to you is to get a second opinion from people you trust, even people outside the business or let your team interview the person, not you. Clearly this plan isn’t foolproof, because if you’ve already built a business full of yes-men they’re just going to pick someone like them. Nonetheless, nine times out of 10 you’ll end up with a new team member who’s not going to be afraid to tell you when you’re being an idiot.

4. All entrepreneurs are afraid – it’s normal

Every entrepreneur has sleepless nights. All startup founders worry that their business is going to go bust tomorrow. All entrepreneurs think they’re going to get found out. This is perfectly normal, and absolutely nothing to worry about. In fact, it’s all part of building a highly successful business. The trick is to ensure that it doesn’t start to impair your judgement or your health.

We’ve all heard stories of entrepreneurs who only sleep four hours per night, and work 80 hour weeks for years and years on end. While some do, most come to the correct conclusion after a few months that if they and their team must work 80 hours per week, they don’t have a viable business. The effects are more harmful than you might expect. Getting a good night’s sleep will calm you down.

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein

If your business is sustainable and you’ve just got into a cycle of fear that’s driving you to work ridiculous hours, then stop. Look again at your product-market fit and processes, hire some people smarter than you who will tell you you’re an idiot and go on holiday. Yes, one of those things where you leave the office and don’t come back for at least a week. Holidays are definitely not for wimps.

Successful entrepreneurs understand that it’s the big lessons that count. They are the portable life lessons that will carry you through the tough times ahead. If you can really nail these four lessons, you’ll not only be in great shape but you’ll be ahead of many of your fellow entrepreneurs.  

Which one of these four lessons do you need to implement most in your life? Let us know in the comments below!

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Qualities Of A Brilliant Salesperson Who Actually Closes Deals.

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I’ve spent the last ten years analyzing sales people and what separates the good, from the uninspiring, worn out, no good sales person that is toxic to any sales culture.

I’ve also worked in sales for a long time myself. These qualities are what have worked for many other high performing sales people I’ve worked with and me.

Here are the qualities of a brilliant salesperson:

 

They’re humble as F*#K.

They’re not the person trying to tear everyone else down.
They don’t think they’re the best.
They want to train the junior sales people.
They aspire to be a leader.

Humble salespeople do all of these things because they know that if they didn’t have access to those same tools, they’d never be where they are. Bragging is ugly and eventually, it will reflect in your sales performance.

No salesperson is ever going to be on top of the leaderboard forever.

That’s why it pays to be humble in sales.

 

They get that relationship is everything.

If someone doesn’t like you, they probably aren’t buying from you. We all buy from people we like.

A relationship with a client is built with the following tools:

– Respect
– Vulnerability
– And Rapport

If you nail those three tools, then you’ll have a genuine relationship with the client. A relationship is another word for trust. Once you’re trusted, you’ll get all the business.

“All the snake oil salesman in the world can’t take a client from you when you are the most trusted sales person they are dealing with”

 

They worship the power of referrals.

The religion of a salesperson who knows their craft is one word: referrals.

Referrals come from doing a good job and delivering on what you say you will. That quality is so rare and that’s why many salespeople don’t get referrals. If you want to compound your results, you must do your best to over deliver.

This doesn’t mean underselling so that you can deliver what the client actually paid for; over delivering is delivering more value than should normally be expected from the same product or service in the marketplace.

 

They have gone all in on social media.

Everyone Google’s everyone nowadays.

“If a customer Googles you and you appear nowhere, then you become a commodity. Unfortunately, that translates to a heavy bias towards price”

When someone looks you up, they should see a professional social media profile like LinkedIn, they should see at the very least some content from you about your industry, and some reviews or references from people you’ve previously sold too.

A strong social media presence allows brilliant salespeople to have warm prospects approach them rather than having to go looking for them. A brilliant salesperson can turn a “Hi, how are you Tim Bob?” into a “Yes let’s meet next week for coffee to discuss X business opportunity.”

 

They take the complex and make it simple.

That’s why we fell in love with Apple. They took hundreds of menus and turned them into a few beautiful app icons. Life is complex enough and a brilliant salesperson can help us take a load off by giving advice to us in easy to understand language.

This method of communication requires the “less is more approach,” no acronyms, no industry jargon and a step-by-step process that can easily be followed.

 

They tailor to the audience.

Corporate pitch? Better put a suit on.
Seeing a new, cool, funky startup? Probably best to wear a t-shirt and take a backpack.
First-time users of the product or service? Stick to the why and 2-3 useful takeaways.

 

They capture your attention.

Not by using PowerPoint decks, closing techniques and fancy catch phrases: by using their infectious personality and sense that they care about the needs of the customer.

 

They avoid overthinking.

It’s easy to procrastinate in sales and try and predict every move that a customer will make. In the end, the client will use mostly emotion to make a decision. Quit trying to overthink the outcome of a business opportunity and focus on going all in.

Give it everything you have and then if you lose the sale, it’s all gravy. Move on to the next business opportunity.

 

They make actual decisions.

Sales is hard which is why there are incentives. If it were easy, we’d all have the job title of “sales.”
Sales requires many consecutive and challenging decisions one after another. You have to convince not only the customer, but also the internal stakeholders such as the product and operational areas.

This process is a series of lots of small decisions that match the urgency of your customer. If you take too long, you lose the sale. If you overpromise, you’ll burn the client. If you don’t offer a competitive price, they may go elsewhere.

All of these are decisions and brilliant salespeople make them daily, and do so efficiently.

 

They always use deadlines.

Without a date to work too, we all get lost in the busy trap. Either you become too busy or the client does. This is not about hard sell techniques or fake offers that expire. If you can genuinely help your client, then you should want them to have that benefit as quickly as possible.

 

They are aware of their ego.

Ego is the enemy. If you think you’re some hot shot sales person, your prospective clients will run. Too much confidence and an inflated ego are usually a mask of a salesperson who’s covering something up. In other words, someone who lies for a living.

Humbleness, kindness and humility are how a brilliant salesperson attracts customers. Too much ego does the opposite.

 

They use discipline to their advantage.

As I said, sales is hard work. To be good at it, you need to be disciplined.

You can’t help everyone.
You only have so much time to prospect.
You have to make the calls, respond to emails and see clients to make target.

If you don’t do the basics, you can’t be a brilliant salesperson. Kobe Bryant put in the hours to become a great basketballer. He went to the gym, did the practice shots and ran until he passed out. Phone calls, emails and prospecting meetings are the exercises used in the sales world.

The more you do the exercises and stick to the plan, the closer you’ll get to Kobe’s success in the basketball world. We’re lazy by nature though, so discipline is key in sales.

 

They listen.

Too many salespeople talk your head off but don’t actually listen. Listening in sales is how you understand the customer and deliver a message that will allow them to make a buying decision. You’ll learn more from listening than talking. Phenomenal salespeople recognize this.

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

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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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