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Here’s Why Taking Time Off Can Make You a Better Entrepreneur

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how to become a better entrepreneur

You’ve heard the saying, “make hay while the sun shines”, right?  It means that you should work as hard as you can, for as long as you can while the money is still on offer.  It makes some sense but workaholics and entrepreneurs who feel they have to keep pedalling hard to keep their business afloat, comfort themselves with this saying when, for the longest time they’ve not been able to spend any kind of time at home with the family, invest some serious recuperation time in themselves or even take a vacation.

Let’s take a closer look at that last one. A 2015 survey conducted by financial software provider Xero found almost a quarter of small business owners haven’t taken a vacation in two years.

So if you’re an entrepreneur who has been wanting to take a well deserved break or vacation (possibly the first in a long time) I’ve got a game changing business strategy for you.

Grab a big 12 month calendar and map out all the vacations you want to take, aim for 8-12 weeks. Schedule all of the below:

  • the overseas trip
  • the local trips
  • the school breaks
  • the summer beach camping trips
  • the long weekends that coincide with a public holiday
  • the long weekends that don’t coincide with a public holiday (come on you are a business owner after all!)
  • the birthday celebrations
  • the weddings
  • personal and professional development courses
  • business planning weekends – working ON your business, not IN
Why vacations and traveling is good for business

This is an inspirational process that will do wonders for you as a business owner. Most people plan out their vacations around their work. They hope there will be some spare time and money leftover for more trips each year.

But the problem is, there never seems to be enough time or money leftover! And sadly another year goes by with no time for play. The successful business people I know plan their work around their vacations, and I too have been doing it for the last 12 years.

Plan the year ahead by scheduling at least 8-12 weeks of holiday time. Work out where you want to go. Work out how much you need to save. And then reverse engineer your business to fund the lifestyle you want to live.

“Taking time to do nothing often brings everything into perspective.” – Doe Zantamata

Here are 4 reasons why it is important to plan out your holidays:

1. You are able to see the light at the end of the tunnel

The business journey is tough at times, long days, late nights, weekends. You’re almost always ‘ON’. Knowing there is some downtime on the horizon can do wonders for your subconscious and allows you to focus intensely on the task at hand.

2. Creates a good work life balance

Your family and friends will know when they can enjoy some good quality time out with you. If they know there is a good 10 weeks of planned down time, they won’t worry so much if you have to work late or work through a weekend here and there.

3. Gives you time to think

I have my best ideas when on vacation! I’m a big picture type thinker and getting out of the office (and sometimes the country) gives me some precious time to THINK BIG, THINK LONG TERM, THINK RADICAL IMPACT.

4. They ensure you have deadlines

Have you ever noticed how much you get done the week before, you’re about to take 2 weeks off? You somehow move mountains so you can switch off and enjoy the trip. You find a way to make it happen. That’s the power of putting vacations first.

Since my first real overseas trip at the end of year 12, I’ve been able to:

  • Salsa in the streets of Cuba
  • Find spiritual sanctuary with the sharmans of India
  • Volunteer in remote communities in Mexico, Brazil & Africa
  • Follow Carnival street processions in Rio De Janeiro
  • Eat the freshest sushi in the fish markets of Japan
  • Snorkel the Blue Hole in Belize
  • Ride elephants through the jungle in Sri Lanka
  • Endure nude Sauna in Sweden
  • Speak at an International Conference in Maui, Hawaii
  • Sip the finest Madeira Wine in Portugal
  • Get Bali Belly, Delhi Belly & Port Moresby Belly…
  • Follow the ancient INCA trail to Machu Picchu
  • Scoff pizza and beer in New York

I did all of this while building a successful investment portfolio and multiple businesses. In fact, it was those priceless experiences that fueled my own entrepreneur journey, and I’m confident that TRAVEL will do the same for you.

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes…including you.” – Anne Lamott

I truly believe it when they say, “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” But how do business owners fund their Big Goals – like 8 to 12 weeks a year holiday? They get Cashed Up.

Here’s the process:

  1. Put Your Profit First – A percentage of every dollar that comes in, goes first into a separate bank account called your ‘profit war chest’.
  2. Every quarter, 50% of your Profit War Chest goes to –
    • 50% to Building a nest egg – I invest in cashflow producing assets like Shares, Property (Residential & Commercial) & Precious metals.
    • 50% Spreading your wings – You CAN drive that new car, enjoy regular holidays, eat out, drink that nice bottle of wine etc.
  3. Enjoy the holiday. Recharge. Open your eyes to the world. Be present with your family.
  4. Build a better business. Going on vacation leaves room for your team to make decisions and helps you see the gaps in your business systems and where the business still depends on YOU. Fix it.
Now I’m curious, where are you planning on going in the next 12 months? Share your travel plans in the comments below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Jeanette Metz

    Jun 13, 2017 at 4:00 am

    It is difficult for business owners to accept the idea that time away is actually good for your business. You work so hard getting something started and then you feel like if you leave, something might fall apart while you are away. I have seen some of the best ideas come from people who are taking time off away from work because they can get out of the work routine and think differently when they are not dealing with the daily tasks of work.

  2. Andrea Torti

    Jun 11, 2017 at 9:03 am

    It might sound like a paradox, but it isn’t – even holidays and traveling are important to boost your productivity: you can get a completely new perspective on problems and solutions 🙂

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Entrepreneurs

5 DIY Skills That Will Take Your Entrepreneurial Journey to New Levels

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An entrepreneur can be any person who builds and operates their own business. Entrepreneurs take on a greater risk than that of people who are employees of a business. Because of risks such as financial uncertainty, business oppositions and career stability, entrepreneurs possess unique skills not everyone has.

Make no mistake, entrepreneurs aren’t always born with these skills. Many obtain their business expertise by learning and growing in their industry. Whether you are struggling with your startup plan or wish to make your startup standout, you’ll need a specific set of skills to thrive.

You may already know some of these skills but you simply need to improve them. Take a look at these 5 DIY skills every entrepreneur needs:

1. The Ability to Communicate Eloquently

Every entrepreneur needs to be an effective communicator whether you’re a solo entrepreneur or you run a company with over 600 employees. You need to understand how to communicate effectively with business partners, customers and employees you deal with on a daily basis.

If you have underdeveloped communication skills, the growth of your business will suffer. Your success at getting your point across clearly can be the difference between sealing a deal and missing out on a potential opportunity.

When you’re an entrepreneur you should be able to express yourself concisely in the following scenarios:

  • Clearly explain policies and procedures to customers and clients
  • Answer any questions about your products and services
  • Public speaking during conferences or presentations
  • Friendly but fair demeanor towards your employees

Effective communication can foster excellent relationships with customers, employees and business partners. In turn, your relationships with everyone involved in the business will improve morale and efficiency.

Here are a few ways you can improve your communication skills: Active listening, understanding non-verbal signs, maintaining eye contact, assertiveness and dealing with different points of views.

2. A Talent for Sales

Having a talent for sales is a skill that will help you go far as an entrepreneur. This is especially true if you’re a merchant. If you’re selling goods you need to be able to sell anything and be knowledgeable about your product. As an entrepreneur, you’ll also need to know how to sell your business ideas to potential investors

Sales representatives are known for their tenacity. They’re extremely persistent in their pursuit to sell. Persistence is important in a business because a sale rarely happens on the first contact. Such resilience is vital to entrepreneurs who have to experience failure before succeeding.

Having a talent in sales will make you a successful entrepreneur because you’ll excel in these areas:

  • Share ample knowledge about products and services
  • Strategic prospecting
  • Building rapport with clients
  • Sourcing new business effectively
  • Gaining customer loyalty

Sales reps care about results but the way they achieve this is by being relentless and never giving up on their target.

3. Excellent Problem Solving Skills

In any business, there will be a few obstacles you’ll need to overcome in order for your business to grow. The good news is there will always be a solution to every problem; you simply have to think outside the box.

In order to solve problems effectively, you need to be extremely decisive. Sometimes this will require you to make decisions on the spot when a problem arises. As a novice entrepreneur, know that it’s acceptable to make mistakes; sometimes your decisions won’t be the best but they will help you grow your problem-solving skills.

Not everyone will agree with your products and services but this is a good way to test your problem-solving skills. For example, you’ve started up a food business but people may not be happy that there are no animal-free options. The way you can solve this problem is by implementing vegetarian and vegan dishes to your menu.

4. An Aptitude for Negotiations

Entrepreneurs face many challenges, especially when presenting innovative ideas to help expand the business. One skill needed which can guarantee the success of any entrepreneur is the ability to negotiate. Excellent negotiation skills can help you close deals and gain a positive reputation. While not all entrepreneurs have negotiation skills you can learn if you apply yourself.

An effective negotiation skill is to always be prepared. Have all your documents in place when you’re having a meeting and be equipped to answer any questions or inquiries effectively. When negotiating, always keep your emotions under control. Know that everyone has different opinions and you must be responsive in a professional manner when dealing with these views.

Make sensible compromises when negotiating. This means you shouldn’t give away anything unless you’re receiving something in return. Both parties need to understand this concept and need to accept any changes going forward.

If you’re negotiating because a problem arose with your products or services, try to write up policies and procedures for your company. Make them visible to all people connected to the business so you’re always covered legally.

5. Be Knowledgeable in your Field

No one will do business with someone who doesn’t know their own products and services. That’s why it’s imperative to have ample knowledge of the products and services you sell. You can then answer questions on the spot and give your clients in depth detail about what you can offer them.

A successful entrepreneur knows all the ins and outs of his or her business. This includes how products work, the materials used to manufacture them and if they’re safe to use. Make sure you know the process of your business and how you conduct your services. This will build excellent rapport with your clients.

Becoming an entrepreneur is something many people wish they could achieve but not everyone is brave enough to take the risk. What people don’t realize is that the skills are within reach if you’re only willing to learn. Simply tap into them by expanding your knowledge and build skills through experience.

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Entrepreneurs

The Secret to Becoming the Most Desirable Person to Do Business With

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Marketplace distinction is a very important factor in business today. You might have discovered that several other businesses offer the same or similar solutions that you do. This creates tough competition to get customers.

Being first to the market often gives an initial edge but that doesn’t last as innovation and marketing strategy changes the expectation and taste of customers. Blockbuster Video was once an industry leader but now it is eclipsed and out of business because of Netflix. There was a time Blackberry phones were at the top of the smartphone world as well. Now they have been outclassed in that market.

You must have noticed also that the companies with the best products and services are not always the ones with the best business. In fact, it is a common notion that smaller companies often offer better services than their larger competitors. This perhaps is because of the fact that they have smaller clients and can offer more tailored solutions and customer service. However, the majority still keep rushing to the largest companies in the industry. The common assumption is that the product or service is better, but in several cases, it’s not.

Becoming the company with the best business in the industry depends on how desirable you are to do business with as an entrepreneur. And if the business is a large corporation, the business depends on how desirable the managers and company representatives are as well.

We live in a day and age where clients and customers are emotionally driven towards making a purchase and then create a logical reason to back up their emotions. Nobody buys if the logic says yes but the emotions say no. This is why several companies today are trying to associate their brand with known social vices. You do remember the Nike ad with Colin Kaepernick and the Gillette ad that sparked a lot of discussion on social media. You don’t have to go that far if you don’t want to as there is another way.

“Know what your customers want most and what your company does best. Focus on where those two meet.” – Kevin Stirtz

There is a local community I once had to live with. The community was famous for its spiced roasted meat. It was sold on the street by the locals. When people come around to buy from them and speak English, they sell at their usual prices. But if you approached them and spoke their native language, they will be beaming with smiles and you can walk away with as much as a 50% discount. Why? The most beautiful thing to the ears of any person is their own language, especially when they least expect it.

This can be flipped into the business world too. Instead of triggering an emotional downpour on social media, you can target your audience and make them yours. It is the way to become the most desirable person to do business with. Speak the language of your customers.

Below, are the 2 steps to becoming the most desirable person to do business with whether you have a big company or are a one person operation:

1. Identify where your customers are

It’s difficult to know who your customers are without knowing where they are. A smart way to learn where the customers are is to conduct a survey of the customers you have already and find out how they learned about your company. The survey will seek to understand their reason for doing business with you and it might not be what you think.

The survey should also seek to understand what all your current customers have in common. It might be another product or service offered by another company complementary to yours. It might be a certain location. It might be a specific industry. The purpose of this is to pinpoint a waterfall of potential clients.

2. Identify what your customers want to hear

You have probably heard of trigger words. Yes, they do exist but they vary depending on the type of clients or customers you serve. You learn the words by listening to them. The purpose is not to manipulate the customers but to create an emotional connection with them when you talk about the solution you offer them. There are clients who walk away from the solution they need just because they did not connect with the one offering the solution. So make sure you are listening to them and figuring out a way to create an emotional connection.

The decision of the client to do business with you is not hinged on how awesome your product or services are, rather it is based on how well you understand their problem. They are going to know how well you understand their problem with how fluent you speak their language. And that is the secret to being the most desirable person to do business with.

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Entrepreneurs

3 Ways You Can Get Back to Basics While Accelerating Your Business Growth

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Young kids are a living, breathing, walking and talking reminder of how important the basics are. They usually underestimate simple everyday tasks and create new chaos in the process. This creates a real time reminder for themselves, and everyone around them, of how important getting back to the basics are. If you have ever watched a baby try to walk or eat, something you do every day, this is very clear.

A growing business is much like a growing child. Rapid growth during the first few years, independence and confidence as the idea grows into a profitable business, and eventually adolescent rebellion once the taste of success comes in. As a business grows, change becomes inevitable, and can very often be unmanageable and overwhelming.

A business can also experience growing pains. From adding staff, to something as simple as time management, the growth of a business can sometimes be more stressful than the death of a business. Success hinges on adaptability, but it is equally important to take time to recognize what got you started when the business was just an idea.

Here are some of the stages your business may be going through, and the way to adapt and grow effectively and efficiently:

1. The terrible twos

As your company grows, the expectations of it and you will change. You are no longer the new kid on the block with limitless potential. Sticking to your core values and adapting to change becomes a full-time balancing act. Very often this early onset of success allows you to hire more people and expand your reach. Especially in companies experiencing hockey stick growth, you may have forgot to create a corporate culture when it was just a few of you in a garage.

Even if you are in an early stage of your company it is important to document the work you are doing and create Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and expectations of every task you are completing alone. Once you hire someone, it will be much easier to train them if you can hand them a document telling them this is how you do it.

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement and success have no meaning.” – Benjamin Franklin

2. The tween years

People can get so busy working in their business that they forget to work on it. Be sure to notice the borders of your company and plan how to broaden them. As a company now with profits, employees and resources, you’re keeping busier than ever, but not sure what is next. Much like a child still needs their parents for some of the basics like food and shelter, during this stage of business, coaches and mentors are so important. Be sure to surround yourself with people who are where you want to be and learn from them. This is the make or break point for many businesses so make sure you are working and surrounding yourself with the right people.

3. Entrepreneur adolescents

Many teenagers feel like an adult, because physically and mentally they feel like they are there, but socially and economically they are not even close in most cases. Success can be blinding and create this same false positive for a growing company. Success can create a comfortable bubble that can distract from further growth. The comfort can create slip-ups and mistakes. Be mindful, and don’t let progress slow you down.

During this stage of business, coaches and mentors are still a key factor to success. They may not be the same ones you had in earlier stages, but the great thing about today’s market place is you can find someone out there to get the advice and guidance you may need. In this phase it very well can be a peer or someone on the same level. 

So, what can you do about this day to day? Read below:

1. Back to the Future

Go back to old emails, files, photos, and reminisce. Every venture has a beginning. The photos and emails you have recorded and collected can be just as much an inspiration as your current goals and challenges. Make sure you have the TimeHop app on your phone, this will help jog your memory.

2. Get feedback

Talk to clients and get feedback. We get many chances to talk to new clients, but make sure you go back and question old clients to understand their perspective on your work and business. Ask them about the changes they have noticed and whether the same kind of qualities are still there when they started with you.

“No company can afford not to move forward. It may be at the top of the heap today but at the bottom of the heap tomorrow, if it doesn’t.” – James Cash Penney

3. The Social Network

Networking is key as well, both on and offline. Listen to new people and new customers. You will see plenty of new faces along your journey up, make sure you are receptive and accepting of the new kinds of ideas these people bring along with them. Rigidity can kill a business. Make sure you are networking with the right people online via social media. During all stages of growth, it is so important to be networking in person locally, and make sure you get on a plane and go to an event!

Remember, a business is run by people, and as a CEO and Entrepreneur, you are a person. Make sure you keep growing your business, because if you’re not growing your dying.

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Entrepreneurs

3 Strategies for Entrepreneurs to Stand Out Before, During and After Networking

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Oftentimes, entrepreneurs spend a good amount of time networking to create leads and fill knowledge gaps. Networking events and conventions offer a high level of excitement and engagement, but how do you keep the momentum going and stay in front of potential leads without spamming? How do you actually have people follow up with you directly?

Below, I have listed 3 strategies to help you stand out before, during and after networking:

1. Be consistent with your brand on social media, or don’t be on it.

Most people have an online presence, and you’d be hard pressed to find someone without a social media account. Especially those with a product or service to sell. Even if the pictures posted to your social media account are only pictures of you and your dog, those images communicate a brand, and that’s what followers come to expect when they interact with your page.

If you connect with someone at an event, and they visit your social media profile, is your most recent post reflective of who you are? Is it a pillar in your brand? Another aspect to consider is that everyone has their go-to platform, therefore, it is important to be active on multiple social media platforms. That being said, if you are not active on a particular platform, your business and networking prospects can be harmed.

You may want to consider doing away with the social media platform you’re not active on. If you live on Instagram, don’t be on another social media platform that you are not going to put effort into, or consider outsourcing it. The key here is post networking, you want people to see you regularly, and consistently with the same message.

2. Publishing your own book is the modern-day business card.

With today’s technology, many entrepreneurs debate on the need for a business card, and in a networking event, you can apply a variety of techniques both with and without one. That being said, when someone asks the proverbial networking question “What is it that you do?”, handing them an autographed book that tells your story and about your area of expertise is hard to forget.

It gives credibility in your field and positions you as an authority. It’s easier than ever to self-publish your knowledge, and being a published author opens doors. It allows others to know and learn more about you, not unlike the podcast and your online presence, but it also helps take your personal brand and business to the next level. With a book, you also become an expert in your industry, and it paves the way if you have the desire to speak at conferences and/or events adding another level to your networking.

3. Having a course or mastermind will allow you to stand out from the crowd.

With the first two mentioned above in place, people want to connect with you before, after and during a networking event. So how do we keep teaching and networking with them? The book you authored can be turned into an online course. Each chapter offers the chance to go deeper into the material, and therefore go deeper into the brand and business.

It serves as a companion piece for those who read your book, and with the completion of the course or mastermind group, they have the necessary tools to accomplish the goals outlined in your book. Your mastermind can be delivered in several ways. You can do a weekly call with a group and almost run it like a book club.

The other option is through a Facebook group where you do a weekly live explaining the topics in each chapter, and answer questions in the comments. The final option for the busy entrepreneur is to create a prerecorded webinar or online course that can be accessed 24/7 by current and potential clients.

Networking is the key to success for any entrepreneur, but the money is in the follow up. These three simple things give you credibility, allow you to connect with more leads in one session and create a consistent and clear personal branding message for you online. Remember, your network is your net worth.

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