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The 5 Most Effective Productivity Hacks for a Busy Entrepreneur

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busy entrepreneur

Technology is both sinner and saint. The Internet and its mobile cousin, the smartphone, have given us incredible gifts: unlimited knowledge at our fingertips and a reach greater than the Pentagon had just 40 years ago.

Despite this, our lives seem to be getting harder and more stressful.. We have become so dependent on technology to the point where it’s become the opposite of what it set out to do – make our lives better. It’s certainly more convenient, but for many people, it’s become an addiction. And no addiction is good.

Numbers don’t lie

According to a national survey from TeleNav, here are some statistics to think about.

  • 66% of smartphone users said they sleep with their phone next to them.
  • 21% of respondents would give up their shoes for a week instead of their phone.
  • 21% of iPhone users said that they would rather go a week without seeing their significant other than give up their phone
  • 34% of iPhone users regularly check their email at the dinner table.

So we have a problem and the first step to fixing a problem is acknowledging you have one. The second step is going to work on it.

Here are five productivity hacks that are surprisingly simple, and yet incredibly effective. It’s not a question of if they’ll work for you and your unique situation, but how many of them will you actually put into use.

1. The email trap

This is something a friend learned from Brendon Burchard’s High Performance Academy and was kind enough to share it with me. Want to be 30% more productive today with almost no effort? Stop looking at your email in the first 60 minutes of the day. 90% of people wake up, grab their phone, and check their emails. By doing this, you let other people’s needs and wants dictate your life.

2. Health

Tony Robbins would talk about this back in the 80s with his late-night infomercials, and it’s something he’s gotten even more passionate about as new information is uncovered in the fields of nutrition and neuroscience. Health can be divided into three separate areas: Food, water and stretch.

Food is fuel for your body. You wouldn’t put cheap oil in a Ferrari, so why do people eat fast food? Because they want something quick that fills them up. I get it, and from time to time it’s no big deal, but you want to have a well-balanced diet full of vegetables, fruits, fish, chicken, and pork.

Hydrating, aka drinking water, is one of the fastest productivity hacks around. Every high-performance coach talks about it. Instead of drinking alcohol, coffee, soda, switch to water. Within a week, you’ll feel a difference in how you feel. You’ll have more energy, sleep better and more productive than ever. Try it and see.

We all know the benefits of exercise, so why is it we find every excuse not to do it. A work-out takes time, you sweat, you feel tired and it can be downright depressing to see how out of shape you are when you haven’t exercised for a long time. Stretching, on the other hand, is quick and easy. No heavy lifting. Just 10 minutes to get your body limber will go a long way to feeling better. Your body will thank you.

“Love is not as important as good health. You cannot be in love if you’re not healthy. You can’t appreciate it.” – Bryan Cranston

3. Oxygenate your body

If you want to give your body a boost then breathe. Not unconsciously, like we all do but consciously like people doing yoga. This takes less than five minutes and you’re good to go. Athletes such as swimmers, runners, and karate fighters understand the power of breathing better than anyone, and how it is a critical component of success. The best part, it’s easier than ever to train yourself to breath better with the help of apps such as Breathe2Relax, Pranayama, Breathing Zone and Relax: Stress and Anxiety Relief.

4. Confirmation email

This was taught to me by my mentor back in my late twenties and it transformed how I dealt with coworkers. We often think that the greatest pull on our time are clients, but what is often overlooked is the frenemy. Colleagues that are seemingly on your side, but are taking advantage of your time and energy.

We have all met them before. They are the ones who pawn off their most difficult, challenging tasks to others. They appeal to people’s kindness and ask them if they can “help” them with something. What they often mean is, “Can you do it for me?” But they know that doesn’t fly so they resort to sneakiness.

When I first learned the technique of the confirmation email, I could hardly believe my eyes because tasks that had been thrown in my lap and taking up much of my time, suddenly vanished. People eventually stopped asking me to help them, because they couldn’t be bothered.

Car salespeople have an expression for these people: tire kickers. In business, to weed out the serious from the not so serious, just ask them to put their request in an email. It’s amazing just how powerful this technique can be.

We cannot waste time. We can only waste ourselves.” – George Matthew Adams

5. Chunking

My personal favorite productivity hack, and the one I have my clients implement immediately because it’s just so easy. Essentially it’s doing two tasks at the same time, but no, I’m not talking about multitasking. Multitasking is dividing your energy between two or more tasks, which is counterproductive. Chunking is combining two activities together that don’t detract from the other.

Here are some examples of chunking that work for me:

–      Having a meeting while walking

–      Stretching while watching TV

–      Doing breathing exercises while sitting in front of your computer

–      Listen to an audio program while driving

And there you have it, the five most effective productivity hacks for the busy entrepreneur. Easier than you think, more powerful than you realize.

Which one of these was your favorite productivity hack? Let us know in the comments below!

Adrian Shepherd started his career as an ESL teacher in Japan, but today focuses on consulting with individuals and companies on productivity. His background in education helped him develop The One-Bite Time Management System (TMS), a revolutionary new system based entirely around simplicity: small bites that people can digest easily. He is based in Osaka, Japan. Learn more about Adrian at adrianshepherd.com.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Dona L. Crane

    Jan 28, 2018 at 7:49 am

    I’m not clear what the confirmation email strategy is. It’s alluded to in the article but no specifics. How does email confirmation contribute to productivity?

  2. Creating True Happiness

    Oct 30, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    Really love that confirmation email tip. I’m going to implement that one right away. Thanks for the info.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Entrepreneurs

The 21st Century Entrepreneur’s Guide to Attracting Ready to Buy Customers

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how to attract customers
Image Credit: Unsplash

Unlike some decades ago, the number one challenge entrepreneurs face is not figuring out a perfect name for their startup or getting overwhelmed at the point of bringing the startup to life. Rather, the major challenge of startup founders nowadays is attracting their first (or next) sets of qualified, always-willing-to-buy customers.

Whether you run a local e-commerce store, or offer consulting services, the need to get well-paying customers (or clients) who will appreciate your work and refer your brand to others can’t be over-emphasized.

A 2016 report by UPS Connect, show that the main focus of 72% of small business owners is increasing their revenue. And if you are among the seventy-two percent of entrepreneurs, then you need not spend hours upon hours anymore in the quest for a trusted “guidebook” with hacks and tips for attracting qualified customers. Good news is, in this article, you’ll discover four infallible, actionable steps to attracting the class of customers you desire.

Ready for the long, smooth ride? Here we go:

1.  Get a byline in relevant publications

Believe it or not, people of the 21st century aren’t always willing to take out their wallet and make a purchase from a brand that shows up out of the blue. In most cases, these potential customers would prefer to buy a product of lesser quality from a “known” brand, than to purchase that of a high quality from a brand that isn’t familiar to them.

So, to avoid being bypassed by qualified customers, you need to get your name out there on relevant publications (with a sizable number of readers) in your industry. And the good part is, as a startup founder with a long, unending to-do list, you don’t have to stress about creating these web content (or articles) yourself. Like the 64% of B2B marketers who outsource writing, you can always hire a ghostwriter to get the job done.

Whether you do the writing yourself or a paid writer does, the point here is you need to get your name out there. Although this step might seem somewhat insignificant at first, the fact remains that it’s a positive leap towards attracting the customers your startup needs.

“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” – Seth Godin

2. Start a blog

This is the 21st century, where the rate of internet users, smartphone users, and general web surfers have tripled (if not quadrupled!). According to HubSpot, 82% of marketers who blog, see positive ROI from their inbound marketing. Also, 45% of marketers, according to one report by SME, say blogging is their most important content strategy. So, by starting a blog, you won’t only increase your chances of gaining new, qualified customers, but also strengthen your chances of keeping the existing ones. And you don’t have to spend ages contemplating what should (and shouldn’t) get published on your blog.

Are there questions existing customers ask often? Are there challenges you feel most people experience while using your products? Or, are there video guides, case studies, infographics or other forms of content you believe might help strengthen your overall marketing effort? Then these are great ideas that could fill up your editorial calendar.

3. Make your business visible

Tons of businesses are established every single day. So, to avoid being outweighed by several other startups in your industry, you need to create a concrete social base. This doesn’t mean you should get your brand on every single, existing social media platform on the web. As a 21st century entrepreneur, all you need do is to identify a few places your ideal customers spend the most of their time.

Are you in the food & drinks, fashion & beauty, or personal development space? Then you should spend more time on places like Pinterest, Instagram and Google Plus. And if you are in the B2B industry, then you should focus on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Research by CMI show that 66% of B2C marketers agree that social media is an effective platform for content marketing. So, social media isn’t just a tool that could help keep you on the radar of potential customers. When used the right way, it could also trigger a spike in your level of engagement and sales—thus, resulting in more revenue for your startup.

“People don’t buy from a website, they buy from people. Let them see who you are.” – Mark Schaefer

4. Go the extra mile

In some cases, what’s needed on your part to attract the attention of potential customers is a “mouth-watering” deal—one your competitors can’t dare to contest! This can come in several forms. If you run an e-commerce store, for example, you could offer free shipping services to customers who opt-in for certain high-priced products. If you offer freelance services, say graphic designing, you could deliver graphic designs in various variants without demanding extra fees.

Whatever approach to which you present your “insane” deal, just make sure it’s juicy enough to entice potential customers, compel them to make a purchase, and then propel them to speak well of your brand to their friends—who have the tendency of becoming customers too.

Growing a business is never a day’s job but, unlike startup founders of past centuries, the 21st-century entrepreneurs aren’t “towel throwers.” The truth is, attracting one’s first (or next) group of qualified customers is no small task. By following the steps outlined above, your startup will, in no long time, boast of a large, solid list of loyal customers.

Which of the steps highlighted above do you intend to take first? Share it with us below!

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Entrepreneurs

Love: The Most Essential Element of a Successful Entrepreneurial Couple

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Building a business with your spouse as both your romantic and work partner is one of the most satisfying things you can do as a couple. However, that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

With the divorce rate swaying anywhere from 35-50%, married couples already have their work cut out for them when it comes to maintaining healthy relationships. Now throw in trying to start a business with your spouse and that work becomes even trickier.

When it comes to being a successful entrepreneurial couple there is only one essential element: love. Just like building a business together, love in marriage requires dedication, time, energy, and excellent communication skills.

Many entrepreneur couples are categorized as “high risk” for divorce and here are the top reasons why:

1. Business Partners Only

In healthy relationships, couples need to be able to communicate about any topic under the sun. It’s how you bond, connect, and learn about one another. However, if all you are talking about is work then you start to create a relationship barrier.

Entrepreneurs can lose their marriage identity when they view their spouse as more of a business partner than a romantic one.

2. Not Making Time for Each Other

If couples with a 9-5 workday need to practice a regular date night, the same should be doubly true for entrepreneurial couples. As entrepreneurs, your “shift” can start as early as the break of dawn and not end until you go to sleep at night – 7 days a week! It’s great to be passionate about your business, but you cannot put it ahead of your marriage and expect your relationship to survive.

“If you put your spouse first, your marriage will last your lifetime.” – Mel Robbins

3. Financial Stress

Being an entrepreneur does not necessarily mean you are going to start out or end up being successful. One of the biggest issues with entrepreneurial couples is the financial stress that comes along with building your own business.

Research analysis done by the Bureau of Labor Statics in the United States found that of the businesses started in 2011, only 3% of them made it to their fifth year. Small business failure largely has to do with lack of experience, neglect or fraud, and lack of funding.

Furthermore, research done By Wells Fargo found that 77% of new businesses relied on personal funds to start their company. These harrowing statistics can fill a marriage with anxiety. Not knowing how you are going to pay your bills or when your next paycheck is coming can add a tremendous amount of stress on a marriage.

4. How to Show Love in Marriage as Entrepreneurs

One of the many positive sides of being a married entrepreneurial couple is that you have a freedom that most other couples don’t have. You don’t have to deal with higher-ups, you don’t follow orders. Not only do you get to be together every day, but you have the freedom to travel wherever the wind takes you.

Here’s how to take advantage of your amazing jobs and show love to each other every day:

1. Have fun together

Part of what makes marriage so enjoyable is that you’ve partnered up with your best friend in the world – and never forget it! Being friends as well as lovers and business partners means you should be having fun together regularly.

2. Leave work at work

This can be hard to do, especially considering that as entrepreneurs you don’t have a set schedule, but it is in the best interest of your marriage to create one. Set a schedule and stick to it. Once you are off work, power down your smart devices (for at least an hour) and spend some much-needed quality time with your spouse.

3. Be Patient with Each Other

Starting up a new business takes a lot of time, has many challenges, and isn’t going to be successful overnight. Similarly, you and your spouse are going to find a lot of reasons to snap at each other as entrepreneurs. Showing patience will do wonders for keeping love in marriage.

“Patience is the companion of wisdom.” – Saint Augustine

4. Take up a New Hobby Together

Healthy relationships benefit when couples have activities in common outside of their shared responsibilities. Taking up a new hobby, such as learning an instrument, language, dance, or sport can help you both bond closer together and strengthen your marriage.

5. Date Night

A couple’s weekly date night will show up on nearly every ‘how to have healthy relationships’ list for a good reason. Spending at least one night a week together outside of work will help you both get back to basics and connect on an emotional and physical level.

6. Share Your Feelings

In order to be wonderful spouses and business partners to one another, you’ll have to be honest, and part of that honesty means facing your hopes and fears together. Be willing to be vulnerable, humble, and honest with your spouse about your feelings regarding business and love.

7. Express Appreciation

One of the best things couples can do to maintain healthy relationships and love in marriage is to show appreciation for one another each and every day. Tell your spouse the things you love and appreciate about them.

You can tell your spouse you love how they always know how to cheer you up, how they are always there for you in times of distress, or because they always put their dishes away. Whether it’s big or small, always let your partner know what you love about them. Being married entrepreneurs has its own unique set of challenges. Don’t let your love of business get in the way of your healthy relationships.

Cultivate love in marriage by making time for each other regularly, laughing more, expressing appreciation for your spouse, and by leaving work at the door. By doing these things you will strengthen your relationship both in love and in business.

What is the most challenging part about growing your relationship with your partner while running a business? Let us know your thoughts below.

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Entrepreneurs

6 Fears That Keep You From Starting Your Own Business

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They say life is too short to live with regrets, and this is applicable to everyone. Unfortunately, only a few people live by this philosophy. If you ask why – the answer is people are too afraid to pursue their dreams.

People, over the years, have buried their ambitions because they are too afraid to try. No wonder most people in today’s world hate their jobs. There are plenty of individuals who have thought of starting their own businesses but have always taken a step back because of intimidation. Surprisingly, it’s not an isolated incident. People across the globe are afraid to start their ventures.

Here are 6 fears that are keeping you from starting your own business:

1. Not knowing where to start

The problem with most entrepreneurs is that they don’t know where they should start. This is one of the reasons that stop them from launching their own business venture. Even if they find the courage to take the risk and begin a business of their own, it does not end well in most cases.

It is recommended that you should consult an established entrepreneur. Since the person is already familiar with the various aspects of entrepreneurship, he/she can provide you with enough insight about the startup culture and tell you where you can start your journey as an entrepreneur. You will still have to make a significant amount of effort to be successful, but at least you will know that you are on the right track.

2. Receiving criticism for your idea

A lot of people are not willing to work on their startup idea because they are afraid of what people are going to say. The fear of criticism is real, and over the years, it has made thousands of people give up their dreams of doing something extraordinary. Just because a person has ridiculed your idea does not mean it is trash.

Before you can start your journey as an entrepreneur, you need to learn how to filter people’s opinions. Some people are going to criticize you no matter what. Because of this, your job is to focus solely on your work.

“Care about people’s approval, and you will always be their prisoner.” – Lao Tzu

3. The fear of failure

Overcoming the fear of failure is perhaps the most challenging task for the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. No matter how many preparations you make, there’s no way ignoring the fact that more than 50 percent of the startups shut down within the first four years of being a business.

While most people consider the fear of failure as the biggest challenge, it can also be seen as an opportunity to better yourself. There is no bigger motivation than the fear of failure. If you are able to channel that motivation into positive efforts, setting up a startup will only be a matter of time.

4. Not receiving the funds

For the sustenance of a business, you need three things – an idea to start a business, manpower to execute the idea and significant amount of funds to ensure all the operations are proceeding as planned. Unfortunately, the third element is the hardest one to come by. Most people cannot start their venture due to the lack of funds.

It’s ok to be a bit skeptical about the funding, but you won’t know the real worth of your idea unless you approach investors. The chances are that you won’t get approval in the first few attempts, but you need to keep trying. Approach different venture capitalists with your idea and work on your presentation. If your idea is unique and brilliant, it will be recognized.

5. Not seeing significant ROI in the sector

If your business idea serves a field that is not very popular in today’s society, there are chances that you will hear a lot of negative comments about it. If there is no return on investment in the area you are planning to operate in, it will be really difficult to convince the investors to spend money on such an idea. If you also believe that there is no ROI in the chosen sector, then it is ideal to scrap that idea and come up with another idea that assures one’s ROI.

However, if you believe the idea is going to work and it may also generate significant ROI over time, then you need to think of other ways to convince the investors to make an investment on your project.

“How long should you try? Until.” – Jim Rohn

6. Being afraid of taking risks

Good ideas can come from anyone. It does not always have to be a Harvard student or any tech guy in a turtleneck to come up with a billion-dollar idea. Even an average person can start a venture (which has happened before) and set examples. But sadly not everyone has the guts to get out of their comfort zone.

You need to understand one simple thing, if you continue to do the things that you usually do, you will end up receiving the same results that you have been receiving for the past few years. No one has ever achieved anything great by playing it safe. So if you are willing to lead a prosperous life, you need to make the hard call and get out of your comfort zone.

Starting your own business can actually be quite intimidating if you don’t have any experience of running a business, however, you need to start somewhere to reach the goal you have set for yourself. So it is wise to take the leap of faith and start the venture you have been planning. If it works, you will be closer to your goal, and if it does not, you can at least learn from it and make a better attempt next time.

Which one of these fears resonates most with you, and how do you plan on overcoming it? Let us know in the comments below!

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Are You an Entrepreneur? This One Step Will Make All the Difference

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There’s a quote I saw once, “It’s not about having more money, but living life on your own terms.” For you and I, and any aspiring entrepreneur, this is precisely why we let go of a false stability of the corporate world only to find ourselves navigating the turbulent and uncertain waters of entrepreneurship. This is why we spend our days at co-working spaces and feed our caffeine addictions.

We want the freedom to call the shots.

But this freedom isn’t all, it also isn’t enough. For most of us, a powerful desire to express our own voice—that which is deeply within us—is what guides us into the world of  entrepreneurship. Some do it by developing a product or an idea, others by transforming the way we do things, and a few by finding a cure to a social or physical ailment. In each case, this inner desire stems from a greater purpose, and it is the clarity of this purpose that is essential to our success—and the success of our venture.

Just take a look at the most successful entrepreneurs that came before us. They each had one thing in common: clarity of inner purpose. Before they figured out their “what,” and “how,” they found their “why.”

“Reality is created by the mind, we can change our reality by changing our mind.”  Plato

Take Steve Jobs, for example, he was driven by a desire to impact the world at the intersection of creativity and technology. Today, Apple is not only the most financially valuable company, but also deeply revered for this very impact. I am typing this essay on a MacBook Pro while listening to music through my AirPods.

Or take Richard Branson, whose purposeful passion for adventure and turning ideas into reality led him to create an empire encompassing over 400 companies. He knew why he was doing it, whether when playing tennis at his island in the Caribbean or investing in space exploration.

In the social and political realms, there are entrepreneurs, too. They’re the people who envision a world in a different light and pursue that path, or witness an injustice, and seek to right it. For example, take a look at Nelson Mandela, whose 100th birth anniversary, millions celebrated around the world. His “why” was to help his fellow kin break from the shackles of apartheid. Such was his clarity of purpose that he spent 24 years in a prison, patiently maintaining the vision of a free and equitable South Africa.

Is your “why” as clear?

Not knowing our purpose in life is like taking a train ride without knowing why we are there. While the ride may be enjoyable at times, the lack of clarity—of not knowing “why” we are there—will inevitably cause confusion, discomfort and fear. (And we know what fear does to promising ventures…it kills them.) We cannot predict who will join us on the train, the detours we might face on the trip, or even when and where the train will stop, however, we can be deliberate in knowing why we are there and making the most of it.

“Talent you have naturally. Skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft.” – Will Smith

Purpose is what gives us meaning, contentment, and a drive to stay up late at night, wake up early, and spend countless hours making things happen amid obstacles and after others think we have gone mad. It is this same purpose that keeps us sane and gives us the willpower to stand up, brush ourselves off, and keep going each time the going gets tough and when we fail (note that I did not say *if*, but *when* we fail).

So, let me ask you: what is your purpose? How would you describe it in a single sentence? If you had to, could you do it in one word? If you aren’t sure, there’s no shame in saying so. There’s only shame if you don’t do something about it. There are many ways to answer the question, “why am I here?” and even more ways to live that answer out. Sometimes, it takes us time to live out the questions only to find the answer when we least expect them.

Take the time to find yourself, you’re worth it.

You’ll also be glad you did it. Knowing your “why” will help you answer questions about your life. It will also help you arrive at the clarity of why your venture exists and what it is meant to do.

Our inner purpose is the main driver and the critical founding block of a meaningful human experience. Without identifying your passions and clearly understanding your purpose, your odds of success will diminish. More importantly, your odds for happiness will plummet. As someone wise once said, “this world needs more people who come alive.” Entrepreneurs are, by definition, meant to be those people. Take the time to find your purpose, and then live it out through your entrepreneurial ventures. I promise, that step will make all the difference.

How do you become self-aware? Comment below!

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Business Networking Is Just Like Dating, Treat It That Way

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Let’s be real, you can all go out and try to find a sale at the next business networking event, but unless you’re a millionaire such as Grant Cardone or Gary Vaynerchuk, what’s the real purpose of going to a business networking event? Business networking events are meant to meet like-minded individuals just like you to build a relationship whether it’s business, friendship, or (call me crazy) even romantic. (more…)

Dominic Cruz is the CruzIN Social Media Marketer, ex-professional hip-hop dancer, a college graduate at SDSU, public speaker, and a published writer. He has a strong passion for social media and for what it has to offer to business owners like you. He was raised in the city of Boston, MA and born in New Orleans, LA. Every day there is something new in the world of social media and there are multiple ways of getting paid using social media. It's the platform that brings you maximum exposure and with more exposure is more opportunity to bring in GUARANTEED revenue. To learn more about his company, visit his site here.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Dona L. Crane

    Jan 28, 2018 at 7:49 am

    I’m not clear what the confirmation email strategy is. It’s alluded to in the article but no specifics. How does email confirmation contribute to productivity?

  2. Creating True Happiness

    Oct 30, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    Really love that confirmation email tip. I’m going to implement that one right away. Thanks for the info.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Entrepreneurs

The 21st Century Entrepreneur’s Guide to Attracting Ready to Buy Customers

Published

on

how to attract customers
Image Credit: Unsplash

Unlike some decades ago, the number one challenge entrepreneurs face is not figuring out a perfect name for their startup or getting overwhelmed at the point of bringing the startup to life. Rather, the major challenge of startup founders nowadays is attracting their first (or next) sets of qualified, always-willing-to-buy customers.

Whether you run a local e-commerce store, or offer consulting services, the need to get well-paying customers (or clients) who will appreciate your work and refer your brand to others can’t be over-emphasized.

A 2016 report by UPS Connect, show that the main focus of 72% of small business owners is increasing their revenue. And if you are among the seventy-two percent of entrepreneurs, then you need not spend hours upon hours anymore in the quest for a trusted “guidebook” with hacks and tips for attracting qualified customers. Good news is, in this article, you’ll discover four infallible, actionable steps to attracting the class of customers you desire.

Ready for the long, smooth ride? Here we go:

1.  Get a byline in relevant publications

Believe it or not, people of the 21st century aren’t always willing to take out their wallet and make a purchase from a brand that shows up out of the blue. In most cases, these potential customers would prefer to buy a product of lesser quality from a “known” brand, than to purchase that of a high quality from a brand that isn’t familiar to them.

So, to avoid being bypassed by qualified customers, you need to get your name out there on relevant publications (with a sizable number of readers) in your industry. And the good part is, as a startup founder with a long, unending to-do list, you don’t have to stress about creating these web content (or articles) yourself. Like the 64% of B2B marketers who outsource writing, you can always hire a ghostwriter to get the job done.

Whether you do the writing yourself or a paid writer does, the point here is you need to get your name out there. Although this step might seem somewhat insignificant at first, the fact remains that it’s a positive leap towards attracting the customers your startup needs.

“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” – Seth Godin

2. Start a blog

This is the 21st century, where the rate of internet users, smartphone users, and general web surfers have tripled (if not quadrupled!). According to HubSpot, 82% of marketers who blog, see positive ROI from their inbound marketing. Also, 45% of marketers, according to one report by SME, say blogging is their most important content strategy. So, by starting a blog, you won’t only increase your chances of gaining new, qualified customers, but also strengthen your chances of keeping the existing ones. And you don’t have to spend ages contemplating what should (and shouldn’t) get published on your blog.

Are there questions existing customers ask often? Are there challenges you feel most people experience while using your products? Or, are there video guides, case studies, infographics or other forms of content you believe might help strengthen your overall marketing effort? Then these are great ideas that could fill up your editorial calendar.

3. Make your business visible

Tons of businesses are established every single day. So, to avoid being outweighed by several other startups in your industry, you need to create a concrete social base. This doesn’t mean you should get your brand on every single, existing social media platform on the web. As a 21st century entrepreneur, all you need do is to identify a few places your ideal customers spend the most of their time.

Are you in the food & drinks, fashion & beauty, or personal development space? Then you should spend more time on places like Pinterest, Instagram and Google Plus. And if you are in the B2B industry, then you should focus on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Research by CMI show that 66% of B2C marketers agree that social media is an effective platform for content marketing. So, social media isn’t just a tool that could help keep you on the radar of potential customers. When used the right way, it could also trigger a spike in your level of engagement and sales—thus, resulting in more revenue for your startup.

“People don’t buy from a website, they buy from people. Let them see who you are.” – Mark Schaefer

4. Go the extra mile

In some cases, what’s needed on your part to attract the attention of potential customers is a “mouth-watering” deal—one your competitors can’t dare to contest! This can come in several forms. If you run an e-commerce store, for example, you could offer free shipping services to customers who opt-in for certain high-priced products. If you offer freelance services, say graphic designing, you could deliver graphic designs in various variants without demanding extra fees.

Whatever approach to which you present your “insane” deal, just make sure it’s juicy enough to entice potential customers, compel them to make a purchase, and then propel them to speak well of your brand to their friends—who have the tendency of becoming customers too.

Growing a business is never a day’s job but, unlike startup founders of past centuries, the 21st-century entrepreneurs aren’t “towel throwers.” The truth is, attracting one’s first (or next) group of qualified customers is no small task. By following the steps outlined above, your startup will, in no long time, boast of a large, solid list of loyal customers.

Which of the steps highlighted above do you intend to take first? Share it with us below!

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Love: The Most Essential Element of a Successful Entrepreneurial Couple

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Building a business with your spouse as both your romantic and work partner is one of the most satisfying things you can do as a couple. However, that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

With the divorce rate swaying anywhere from 35-50%, married couples already have their work cut out for them when it comes to maintaining healthy relationships. Now throw in trying to start a business with your spouse and that work becomes even trickier.

When it comes to being a successful entrepreneurial couple there is only one essential element: love. Just like building a business together, love in marriage requires dedication, time, energy, and excellent communication skills.

Many entrepreneur couples are categorized as “high risk” for divorce and here are the top reasons why:

1. Business Partners Only

In healthy relationships, couples need to be able to communicate about any topic under the sun. It’s how you bond, connect, and learn about one another. However, if all you are talking about is work then you start to create a relationship barrier.

Entrepreneurs can lose their marriage identity when they view their spouse as more of a business partner than a romantic one.

2. Not Making Time for Each Other

If couples with a 9-5 workday need to practice a regular date night, the same should be doubly true for entrepreneurial couples. As entrepreneurs, your “shift” can start as early as the break of dawn and not end until you go to sleep at night – 7 days a week! It’s great to be passionate about your business, but you cannot put it ahead of your marriage and expect your relationship to survive.

“If you put your spouse first, your marriage will last your lifetime.” – Mel Robbins

3. Financial Stress

Being an entrepreneur does not necessarily mean you are going to start out or end up being successful. One of the biggest issues with entrepreneurial couples is the financial stress that comes along with building your own business.

Research analysis done by the Bureau of Labor Statics in the United States found that of the businesses started in 2011, only 3% of them made it to their fifth year. Small business failure largely has to do with lack of experience, neglect or fraud, and lack of funding.

Furthermore, research done By Wells Fargo found that 77% of new businesses relied on personal funds to start their company. These harrowing statistics can fill a marriage with anxiety. Not knowing how you are going to pay your bills or when your next paycheck is coming can add a tremendous amount of stress on a marriage.

4. How to Show Love in Marriage as Entrepreneurs

One of the many positive sides of being a married entrepreneurial couple is that you have a freedom that most other couples don’t have. You don’t have to deal with higher-ups, you don’t follow orders. Not only do you get to be together every day, but you have the freedom to travel wherever the wind takes you.

Here’s how to take advantage of your amazing jobs and show love to each other every day:

1. Have fun together

Part of what makes marriage so enjoyable is that you’ve partnered up with your best friend in the world – and never forget it! Being friends as well as lovers and business partners means you should be having fun together regularly.

2. Leave work at work

This can be hard to do, especially considering that as entrepreneurs you don’t have a set schedule, but it is in the best interest of your marriage to create one. Set a schedule and stick to it. Once you are off work, power down your smart devices (for at least an hour) and spend some much-needed quality time with your spouse.

3. Be Patient with Each Other

Starting up a new business takes a lot of time, has many challenges, and isn’t going to be successful overnight. Similarly, you and your spouse are going to find a lot of reasons to snap at each other as entrepreneurs. Showing patience will do wonders for keeping love in marriage.

“Patience is the companion of wisdom.” – Saint Augustine

4. Take up a New Hobby Together

Healthy relationships benefit when couples have activities in common outside of their shared responsibilities. Taking up a new hobby, such as learning an instrument, language, dance, or sport can help you both bond closer together and strengthen your marriage.

5. Date Night

A couple’s weekly date night will show up on nearly every ‘how to have healthy relationships’ list for a good reason. Spending at least one night a week together outside of work will help you both get back to basics and connect on an emotional and physical level.

6. Share Your Feelings

In order to be wonderful spouses and business partners to one another, you’ll have to be honest, and part of that honesty means facing your hopes and fears together. Be willing to be vulnerable, humble, and honest with your spouse about your feelings regarding business and love.

7. Express Appreciation

One of the best things couples can do to maintain healthy relationships and love in marriage is to show appreciation for one another each and every day. Tell your spouse the things you love and appreciate about them.

You can tell your spouse you love how they always know how to cheer you up, how they are always there for you in times of distress, or because they always put their dishes away. Whether it’s big or small, always let your partner know what you love about them. Being married entrepreneurs has its own unique set of challenges. Don’t let your love of business get in the way of your healthy relationships.

Cultivate love in marriage by making time for each other regularly, laughing more, expressing appreciation for your spouse, and by leaving work at the door. By doing these things you will strengthen your relationship both in love and in business.

What is the most challenging part about growing your relationship with your partner while running a business? Let us know your thoughts below.

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6 Fears That Keep You From Starting Your Own Business

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They say life is too short to live with regrets, and this is applicable to everyone. Unfortunately, only a few people live by this philosophy. If you ask why – the answer is people are too afraid to pursue their dreams.

People, over the years, have buried their ambitions because they are too afraid to try. No wonder most people in today’s world hate their jobs. There are plenty of individuals who have thought of starting their own businesses but have always taken a step back because of intimidation. Surprisingly, it’s not an isolated incident. People across the globe are afraid to start their ventures.

Here are 6 fears that are keeping you from starting your own business:

1. Not knowing where to start

The problem with most entrepreneurs is that they don’t know where they should start. This is one of the reasons that stop them from launching their own business venture. Even if they find the courage to take the risk and begin a business of their own, it does not end well in most cases.

It is recommended that you should consult an established entrepreneur. Since the person is already familiar with the various aspects of entrepreneurship, he/she can provide you with enough insight about the startup culture and tell you where you can start your journey as an entrepreneur. You will still have to make a significant amount of effort to be successful, but at least you will know that you are on the right track.

2. Receiving criticism for your idea

A lot of people are not willing to work on their startup idea because they are afraid of what people are going to say. The fear of criticism is real, and over the years, it has made thousands of people give up their dreams of doing something extraordinary. Just because a person has ridiculed your idea does not mean it is trash.

Before you can start your journey as an entrepreneur, you need to learn how to filter people’s opinions. Some people are going to criticize you no matter what. Because of this, your job is to focus solely on your work.

“Care about people’s approval, and you will always be their prisoner.” – Lao Tzu

3. The fear of failure

Overcoming the fear of failure is perhaps the most challenging task for the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. No matter how many preparations you make, there’s no way ignoring the fact that more than 50 percent of the startups shut down within the first four years of being a business.

While most people consider the fear of failure as the biggest challenge, it can also be seen as an opportunity to better yourself. There is no bigger motivation than the fear of failure. If you are able to channel that motivation into positive efforts, setting up a startup will only be a matter of time.

4. Not receiving the funds

For the sustenance of a business, you need three things – an idea to start a business, manpower to execute the idea and significant amount of funds to ensure all the operations are proceeding as planned. Unfortunately, the third element is the hardest one to come by. Most people cannot start their venture due to the lack of funds.

It’s ok to be a bit skeptical about the funding, but you won’t know the real worth of your idea unless you approach investors. The chances are that you won’t get approval in the first few attempts, but you need to keep trying. Approach different venture capitalists with your idea and work on your presentation. If your idea is unique and brilliant, it will be recognized.

5. Not seeing significant ROI in the sector

If your business idea serves a field that is not very popular in today’s society, there are chances that you will hear a lot of negative comments about it. If there is no return on investment in the area you are planning to operate in, it will be really difficult to convince the investors to spend money on such an idea. If you also believe that there is no ROI in the chosen sector, then it is ideal to scrap that idea and come up with another idea that assures one’s ROI.

However, if you believe the idea is going to work and it may also generate significant ROI over time, then you need to think of other ways to convince the investors to make an investment on your project.

“How long should you try? Until.” – Jim Rohn

6. Being afraid of taking risks

Good ideas can come from anyone. It does not always have to be a Harvard student or any tech guy in a turtleneck to come up with a billion-dollar idea. Even an average person can start a venture (which has happened before) and set examples. But sadly not everyone has the guts to get out of their comfort zone.

You need to understand one simple thing, if you continue to do the things that you usually do, you will end up receiving the same results that you have been receiving for the past few years. No one has ever achieved anything great by playing it safe. So if you are willing to lead a prosperous life, you need to make the hard call and get out of your comfort zone.

Starting your own business can actually be quite intimidating if you don’t have any experience of running a business, however, you need to start somewhere to reach the goal you have set for yourself. So it is wise to take the leap of faith and start the venture you have been planning. If it works, you will be closer to your goal, and if it does not, you can at least learn from it and make a better attempt next time.

Which one of these fears resonates most with you, and how do you plan on overcoming it? Let us know in the comments below!

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Are You an Entrepreneur? This One Step Will Make All the Difference

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There’s a quote I saw once, “It’s not about having more money, but living life on your own terms.” For you and I, and any aspiring entrepreneur, this is precisely why we let go of a false stability of the corporate world only to find ourselves navigating the turbulent and uncertain waters of entrepreneurship. This is why we spend our days at co-working spaces and feed our caffeine addictions.

We want the freedom to call the shots.

But this freedom isn’t all, it also isn’t enough. For most of us, a powerful desire to express our own voice—that which is deeply within us—is what guides us into the world of  entrepreneurship. Some do it by developing a product or an idea, others by transforming the way we do things, and a few by finding a cure to a social or physical ailment. In each case, this inner desire stems from a greater purpose, and it is the clarity of this purpose that is essential to our success—and the success of our venture.

Just take a look at the most successful entrepreneurs that came before us. They each had one thing in common: clarity of inner purpose. Before they figured out their “what,” and “how,” they found their “why.”

“Reality is created by the mind, we can change our reality by changing our mind.”  Plato

Take Steve Jobs, for example, he was driven by a desire to impact the world at the intersection of creativity and technology. Today, Apple is not only the most financially valuable company, but also deeply revered for this very impact. I am typing this essay on a MacBook Pro while listening to music through my AirPods.

Or take Richard Branson, whose purposeful passion for adventure and turning ideas into reality led him to create an empire encompassing over 400 companies. He knew why he was doing it, whether when playing tennis at his island in the Caribbean or investing in space exploration.

In the social and political realms, there are entrepreneurs, too. They’re the people who envision a world in a different light and pursue that path, or witness an injustice, and seek to right it. For example, take a look at Nelson Mandela, whose 100th birth anniversary, millions celebrated around the world. His “why” was to help his fellow kin break from the shackles of apartheid. Such was his clarity of purpose that he spent 24 years in a prison, patiently maintaining the vision of a free and equitable South Africa.

Is your “why” as clear?

Not knowing our purpose in life is like taking a train ride without knowing why we are there. While the ride may be enjoyable at times, the lack of clarity—of not knowing “why” we are there—will inevitably cause confusion, discomfort and fear. (And we know what fear does to promising ventures…it kills them.) We cannot predict who will join us on the train, the detours we might face on the trip, or even when and where the train will stop, however, we can be deliberate in knowing why we are there and making the most of it.

“Talent you have naturally. Skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft.” – Will Smith

Purpose is what gives us meaning, contentment, and a drive to stay up late at night, wake up early, and spend countless hours making things happen amid obstacles and after others think we have gone mad. It is this same purpose that keeps us sane and gives us the willpower to stand up, brush ourselves off, and keep going each time the going gets tough and when we fail (note that I did not say *if*, but *when* we fail).

So, let me ask you: what is your purpose? How would you describe it in a single sentence? If you had to, could you do it in one word? If you aren’t sure, there’s no shame in saying so. There’s only shame if you don’t do something about it. There are many ways to answer the question, “why am I here?” and even more ways to live that answer out. Sometimes, it takes us time to live out the questions only to find the answer when we least expect them.

Take the time to find yourself, you’re worth it.

You’ll also be glad you did it. Knowing your “why” will help you answer questions about your life. It will also help you arrive at the clarity of why your venture exists and what it is meant to do.

Our inner purpose is the main driver and the critical founding block of a meaningful human experience. Without identifying your passions and clearly understanding your purpose, your odds of success will diminish. More importantly, your odds for happiness will plummet. As someone wise once said, “this world needs more people who come alive.” Entrepreneurs are, by definition, meant to be those people. Take the time to find your purpose, and then live it out through your entrepreneurial ventures. I promise, that step will make all the difference.

How do you become self-aware? Comment below!

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