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The Best 50 Productivity Hacks for Entrepreneurs

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Being productive as an entrepreneur isn’t easy. There are so many distractions out there that it can be hard to make progress towards your goals. But it’s not hopeless. There are tools and methods that you can use to get superhuman productivity.

Here are 50 of the best productivity hacks for entrepreneurs:
1. Avoid commuting to the office

Commuting is stressful, time intensive and causes friction in your day. Avoid if at all possible!

2. Learn how to say “No”

Avoid being a people pleaser, say no to opportunities and favours and you will find yourself with more time to reach your goals

3. Do the most important task of the day first

In the morning we have the highest willpower levels, use this to complete the hardest task first . This makes the rest of the day’s tasks seem easy

4. Keep your phone in airplane mode until your first task is done

This ensures the first task is done with the distraction of a pointless phone call.

5. Use sleep cycle to wake up with energy

SleepCycle is an app that monitors your sleep cycle so it can wake you up at the optimum time in a 30-minute window.

6. Exercise in the morning

Richard Branson claims exercising in the morning gives him 4 more productive hours in a day.

7. Be goal orientated rather than following a todo list

Always align your tasks to an outcome ie. if it doesn’t increase revenue don’t prioritise it.

8. Meditate using Headspace

Meditation clears your mind and lets you develop laser focus and Headspace guides you through the process.

9. Use the Pomodoro technique

The Pomodoro technique is 25 minutes of work followed by a 5-minute break, quite simple it works.

10. Start the day of using the 60-60-30 technique

This ensures your first 2 biggest tasks of the day get done with ease. 50-minutes work, 10-minutes break, 60-minutes work and then 30-minutes break.

11. Avoid meetings

Meetings are usually a waste of time. Avoid meetings if you can and cap them at 20-minutes if they are unavoidable.

12. Remember the Pareto Principle

The Pareto Principle states that 80% of your results in anything stem from 20% of your actions, identify the 20% of actions that create 80% of your revenue and double down on them

13. Avoid eating big meals during the day

Eating big meals sends blog from your brain to your digestive system, leaving you feeling lethargic and stupid.

14. If it takes less than 2 mins do it now

For example, if you open an email in your inbox reply… don’t leave an “open-loop” in your mind.

15. Check emails 2 times a day

Email and messaging apps like slack are massive time wasters. Create an autoresponder telling people you check emails only 2 times a day and if it’s super important they can speak with your PA.

“There is no substitute for hard work.” – Thomas Edison

16. Tell people to stop distracting you

It takes you 25-minutes to get back to your original level of focus after distraction, make co-workers realize that.

17. Use background music

Use FocusAtWill, Brain.fm or youtube alpha waves/classical music to focus whilst working. Music you like with lyrics is always distracting.

18. Plan your day the night before

Wire your brain for productivity by going over your day the night before.

19. Make 60-second decisions

Don’t sweat over decisions or spend too much time deliberating them because it tanks your mental energy. The 60-second decision is a powerful concept.

20. Don’t start the day with distraction

80% of smartphone users check their phones within 15 minutes of waking up. The first hour sets the precedent for the day so don’t start it with distraction.

21. Make your work environment comfortable

To get into “flow” state you need to be in a comfortable environment, make sure your office isn’t cluttered or messy and that your seat is comfortable.

22. Stick to your routine

Whenever you can do the same things at the same times of the day, this allows you to create a habit and means in the future the task will take no energy to do.

23. Wake up early to do your morning routine

If you can get in the habit of a morning routine you will set yourself up for success. It will allow you to guarantee a productive day.

24. Reward yourself

Pick times to cool off and reward yourself like lunches with a friend or a walk to a coffee shop at mid-morning when you’ve completed your second task.

25. Pick a calendar management tool

Fantastical 2, Omnifocus, Wunderlist, Trello, Asana are all great calendar management tools.

26. Schedule tasks

Tasks always expand to the time you have. Schedule them at a certain time and duration to ensure they get done.

27. What gets measured gets managed

Always review your work day and week. What got done? What didn’t get done and why? How can I streamline my productivity process?

28. Don’t multitask

Multitasking lowers your IQ as much as smoking weed. Avoid this!

29. Use the 6 list rule

Every working day write down 6 tasks in order of importance and tackle them one by one. If some don’t get completed reorder into the next day’s list.

30. Drink more water

When you wake up drink 0.5L of water immediately to replenish your body after a waterless night. Keep drinking water throughout the day to improve focus.

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”  – Stephen King

31. Use stayfocussd to block distracting websites

StayFocussd is a chrome extension that blocks distracting sites like facebook.

32. Have an afternoon nap

A 20-minute nap is an incredible asset to have. It refreshes the mind and body and allows you to develop superhuman productivity.

33. Don’t watch the news

The news affects your “reptilian brain” by evoking a fear response. You will be much happier and more productive without it.

34. Turn off push notifications

Push notifications equals distractions. Turn them off and celebrate your new found freedom.

35. Use on and off ramps

This means do the same task to get you prepared for work every single day and a different task to prepare you for stopping thinking about work. For example, a run in the morning and a shower in the evening to stop you bringing work home with you.

36. Brain dump once a week

Once a week write down everything you have been worrying/thinking about ( not necessarily just work related) and put in on a piece of paper with 2 categories. Things I can control and things I can’t. Schedule the former into tasks for the week and tear up the page with the things you can’t control on it. This releases mental tension.

37. Use Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Less noises equals less distractions which equals better productivity

38. Visualise yourself

Pro golfers have increased their handicap without hitting a ball using visualisation. Conor McGregor swears by it. Visualise yourself being successful with the work at hand.

39. Make sure you have everything to complete your tasks

You should have everything at hand to complete your tasks. This means planning ahead of time for resources, assets or people that are needed to complete the task.

40. Schedule eating

Always eat breakfast and schedule eating times to avoid getting hungry and eating junk.

41. Split test your sleeping habits

Always get at least 6 hours of sleep a night. Pulling an all nighter doesn’t make you a “hustler” it means you’re not organised enough.

42. Read David Allens “getting things done”

This is the must read book for successful productivity.

43. Sleep in 90-min blocks

The human circadian rhythm is 90 minutes and it takes us on average 10 minutes to get to sleep. So go to sleep at 10:50PM if you want to wake up with energy at 6AM.

44. Take at least 1 day off in your business a week

Your business is your baby and needs a lot of attention to grow up strong and healthy, but one night a week consider getting a babysitter and not thinking about it. This will allow you to relax your mind and avoid burn out.

45. Reconnect with your why

Never forget why you started. Always connect the work with your passion and dreams.

“Action is the foundational key to all success.” – Pablo Picasso

46. Give up TV

10 years from now you will regret watching TV. It is a massive time waster.

47. Reduce decision fatigue

Mark Zuckerberg always wears the same clothes and eats the same food. This allows him to use his decision powers on things that matter.

48. Cold showers

Cold showers force the blood in your body into your core. This gives you energy and mental focus.

49. Splash cold water on your face when you wake up

This increases cortisol levels (stress hormone) to help you act with urgency to get things done.

50. Avoid the snooze button

The first action you do sets the context for the day. The snooze button is so dangerous because it trains your brain to procrastinate and actually makes you wake up feeling more tired.

Which productivity hack will you be implementing today? Leave a comment below!

Max Feller helps entrepreneurs be more successful. Want to double your productivity without feeling overwhelmed and overworked? Click Here (It's free).

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Elliot

    Dec 7, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    My favorite piece of advice is the brain dump twice a week.

  2. Dylan

    Dec 5, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    This is a very informative list, thanks for sharing it.

  3. Keri Vandongen

    Nov 30, 2016 at 12:19 am

    Your comprehensive list should be useful for every entrepreneur, Max!
    My favourite 3 are learning to say NO more often, being task-oriented versus following a to-do list, and reducing decision fatigue.
    Another hack I’d add would be leaving unscheduled time each day. This advice came from Chris Brogan – the fastest way to burnout is to operate at maximum capacity for too long.
    ~Keri

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Entrepreneurs

4 Traits Successful Entrepreneurs Have in Common That Sets Them Apart From Everyone Else

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Entrepreneurs are currently in high demand in the world today. As the world progresses in population, there are basic necessities that are needed to curtail this growing population such as the creation of jobs and providing a means of livelihood to accommodate this growth.

An entrepreneur is mandated with the task of not just looking out for himself only, but also procuring ways (either by developing products or services) to ameliorate the standard of living of others. Anyone can be an entrepreneur, but being a successful one requires acquiring traits that are not otherwise common to the vast population of individuals in the world.

Some of the prevalent traits you can spot amongst successful entrepreneurs are listed below:

1. They are early risers

Scientists devised a concept which infer 8-hours of uninterrupted sleep as an optimal duration to attain a good night’s rest. Interestingly, the scientists who came up with this concept don’t follow such rule! You can’t sleep for a long stretch of hours and expect to attain a considerable high degree of success in your field.

A good sleep isn’t measured by quantity but by quality. You can sleep for 10 hours and still wake up feeling dizzy and miserable. It all depends on your state of mind at which the sleep was initiated. Successful entrepreneurs understand that attaining a high level of productivity is greatly influenced by how much you’re able to get done with the time you have at hand.

To get more time to themselves, successful entrepreneurs wake up early enough to use those hours in resolving tasks or planning their day. This gives them an edge in reducing their daily work load and accomplish their set goals on time.

2. They are not busy, they are productive

Most people conflict being busy as synonymous to being productive. This isn’t correct to a large extent as it’s possible to be busy and still not be productive. Being busy could portray not having enough time for yourself, but successful entrepreneurs know the more productive you are, the more spare time you’ll have.

Productivity is highly centred on your ability to distinguish between what’s important and needs more adequate attention from what’s not. Successful people are skilled in streamlining their schedule and placing more priorities to tasks and issues that are most paramount.

They don’t try to do everything on their own (this will make them too busy), so instead of multitasking, they hire people to perform jobs for them. This in turn increases efficient delivery and salvage more time for themselves to deal with other pressing issues.

“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.” – Bruce Lee

3. They don’t shy away from risks

Successful entrepreneurs are driven by passion filled with purpose. Following this direction often requires you to take certain actions that may not be comfortable to accommodate reasoning and approval from people. This is one trait that is prevalent amongst the vast number of entrepreneurs- the tendency to trust your guts and instincts even if it violates logic.

Nothing great can be achieved from the position of comfort. Successful entrepreneurs understand this and are willing to stretch their boundaries and embrace chances to do what’s necessary rather than what is convenient.

4. They accommodate their mistakes and failures

Every successful entrepreneur has been through a series of mistakes, failures, pain and disappointments. But their unrelenting persistence in not choosing to bail out sets them apart from a generation that have been indoctrinated to prefer security rather than freedom.

As Mark Zuckerberg said, “the greatest successes come from having the freedom to fail.” Learning from failures and mistakes is an invaluable skill that successful entrepreneurs have harnessed over the years which has contributed to their vast level of experience and expertise in their various field.

“Entrepreneurs know that you are not going to learn anything unless you make a mistake.” – Robert Kiyosaki

Becoming successful in business or any chosen career doesn’t come cheap. The world will certainly test your passion, dedication, persistence and patience and still won’t hand success over to you. You have to make a demand and take it for yourself by not giving up because you can’t see the end of the tunnel, and not taking failure or disappointment personally. All of these obstacles are only part of the journey.

How do you fight every day for your dreams to become a reality? Please let us know by commenting below!
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5 Powerful Confessions From Entrepreneurs Who Never Went to College

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How important is college education for most of us? Can an entrepreneur become successful without a college diploma? Let’s see what secrets remarkable entrepreneurs may reveal to us about the way they survived without college.

Looking back at the experience we gather from the most powerful and famous business people, there’s more often a plus rather than a minus in becoming successful without a college degree.

1. Abraham Lincoln

“All I have learned,I learned from books.” – Abraham Lincoln

One of the 8 U.S. presidents who started as entrepreneurs and the only one who received a patent, Abraham Lincoln never went to college. In fact, he was not the only U.S. president who didn’t do it. 7 more presidents didn’t attend college as well.

One of the most striking confessions is that he valued books more than anything else that can educate. Proving that books were his teachers, Abraham Lincoln also acknowledged that his best friend would be a person who could give him a book he hadn’t read before.

No wonder, every entrepreneur with self-respect should read books. Abraham Lincoln proved that self-education is, actually, what makes us more powerful than we are. The 16th president of the United States invented a tool to lift riverboats over sandbars without a diploma as an evidence of his smartness.

2. Walt Disney

“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” –  Walt Disney

The father of Mickey Mouse, the first animated feature film in the world, and Disneyland founder, Walt Disney considered books as a treasure as well. However, because of his inattentiveness and constant drawing, Disney dropped out of high school.

Thus, his stronger motivator was failure. Working on Snow White, one of his most successful projects, Walt lost nearly everything, ran out of money, and almost went down the drain. But that was one of the lessons that helped him become the king of cartoons.

3. Richard Branson

“The best way of learning about anything is by doing.” – Richard Branson

A risk-taker with over a $4 billion fortune and the founder of the Virgin Group, Richard Branson left school at the age of 16 to start his first business – Student magazine. Despite the fact, that he faced dyslexia during his school years, he managed to take a chance in his hands and do what he wanted.

Although, Richard says he has no secrets to hide, he still confesses that he works hard, smart and does it with fun. The power of doing is a secret ingredient to success, according to Branson.

4. Milton Hershey

“My experience has shown me that the people who are exceptionally good in business aren’t so because of what they know, but because of their insatiable need to know more.” – Milton S. Hershey

The founder of the Hershey Chocolate Corporation and a philanthropist, Milton Hershey changed 6 schools, because his family moved very often and, eventually, he left school after the 4th grade to become an apprentice to a printer. Later, he found his passion in candy making.

His idea about business success is not in knowledge, but in the desire to know. Motivation and curiosity can lead you to the unknown realms and open them with ease, if you are ready to experience changes. The only question is to what extend your need is insatiable.

5. Coco Chanel

“Success is most often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.” – Coco Chanel

Being taught sewing by nuns, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, the only fashion designer to have been put on the 100 most influential people of the 20th century Time magazine’s list, never went to college. Her daring ambitions gave her strength to become one of the most successful designers in the world.

According to her words, the secret of success isn’t in knowing. Quite the opposite – it’s in unawareness. Virtually, it’s unknowing of the fact that failure is a must-be in business. And here’s when fear comes next after you think of a possible fiasco. Without knowing, there’s no fear. Consequently, you’re not afraid to stumble and fall, because you do not know it’s initially programmed.

What unites all these outstanding entrepreneurs? Except for the absence of a college degree? It’s the ability to acknowledge what actually ruled their success. And that’s not college education. Educators, professors and teachers who strive to make college education more proactive and productive can never substitute the inner power of a budding entrepreneur.

Have you met any entrepreneurs who never needed a college degree to become what they are now? Share your experience in the comments.
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How to Lead a Virtual Team: 6 Essential Tips You Need to Know

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The rules have changed. You don’t need an office. You don’t need investors. You DO NOT need permission!

Today, anyone with a good idea (and an addiction for success) can start their own business. Within a matter of months you can build a six-figure business. It takes dedication and commitment, as you already know, but another vital ingredient many forget about in the beginning (I know I did) is to involve others.

You cannot do ‘this’ on your own. You need a team, but once again the rules have changed. You don’t need an office. You don’t need local people you ‘see’ each day.  There’s a new kid in town.

Introducing Your Virtual Team:

Virtual assistants… freelancers… location independent workers… there’s an entire generation who don’t wish to play by yesterday’s rules. The likes of Buffer and Infinitus have built seven-figure companies with no headquaters. Big name entrepreneurs like Michael Hyatt are building teams with no boundaries. The opportunities for a go-getting success seeker like you are vast.

But, building your virtual team is dangerous. There are many pitfalls to building a virtual team. Lucky for you and me there are MANY people to learn from. People who have been there and done it, and who offer advice so you don’t have to make the same mistakes they have. I’ve asked a selection of experts who know all about the right and wrong way to build a successful virtual team. This is what they say:

1. Chris Ducker: Create your 3 lists to freedom

“To save yourself time and money, create a list of: things you hate doing everyday, things you can’t do yourself, and things you shouldn’t be doing. This creates a blueprint of what your virtual team should work on, and allows you to effectively manage it.”

As founder of ‘Virtual Staff Finder’, Chris Ducker has helped entrepreneurs lead a balanced lifestyle for many years. What his ‘3 lists to freedom’ offers is your starting point, because it forces you to consider all the tasks you do (and could do), and hone in on what you should do. From there you can ensure your virtual team grows in a way that will save you time and make you money.

2. Erlend Bakke: Insist on a daily update

“My best tip is the daily update. This is what I ask them to send me: enter date and hours worked in total. What they did today. Two challenges encountered. Three questions they have for me. I have my three CEOs send me this update on a daily basis. It has saved me many hours over the past six years.”

This tip from the founder Mr Outsource, Erlend Bakke, is gold. You build a team to save yourself time, so the last thing you want is to chase updates, or have your team inundate you with questions. Instead, insist they update you each day with these key details. This allows you to stay in the loop, make necessary changes, and to do so without wasting your precious time.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” – Michael Jordan

3. Erin Blaskie: Create a solid backup plan

Create solid back up plans for if the worst case scenario were to happen. I had grown my own company to over 70 clients, and leaned on a few sub-contractors to help fill in the gaps. While this was great for clients to have that one-stop shop, it left me in a precarious situation when my lead web designer disappeared suddenly.”

As one of the early pioneers of virtual assistants, Erin Blaskie has seen the highs and lows of building a virtual team. A key component is to think how you can scale your operations at all times, and not rely on one (or a few) single person.

4. Kimanzi Constable: You shouldn’t let anyone have complete access to every part of your business

“Make sure you understand what you’ll give your virtual assistant access to and what you should give them access to. You shouldn’t let anyone have complete access to every part of your business.”

As a lifestyle entrepreneur and globetrotting consultant, Kimanzi Constable has built an ever-growing virtual team over the last few years. But he raises a good point, because you need to consider who has access to what in your business; and why. Failure here can have grand consequence, as Kimanzi found when one of his VA’s did the dirty.

5. Natalie Sisson: Share your business vision with your VA

Share your business vision with your VA, as it gets them on board with the bigger picture of why they do what they do. It also gives them ownership over their role, as they know what we’re trying to achieve as a team.”

After over a decade of travelling the world, Natalie Sisson built her Suitcase Entrepreneur community with the help of a virtual team. As she says, it’s important to help your team appreciate WHY they do what they do. Your aim isn’t to build a team, it’s to create a culture.

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” – Andrew Carnegie

6. Ari Meisel: Make the experience as rich as possible

Embrace asynchronous communication such as slack, and video messaging with Fika. Make the experience as rich as possible for people who are not in the same room as you.”

As an outsourcing advocate for many years, Ari Meisel built Get Leverage to provide his clients the virtual assistance they need. He appreciates the importance of communication, especially when you’re communicating with people in different rooms, countries, and continents.

There are an array of tools to communicate face-to-face these days, so don’t only speak to your virtual team over email. Involve them. Speak with them. Create an experience that leaves them feeling valued and part of a “real” team (not a virtual one).

The possibilities are endless for today’s success-seeking entrepreneur. A virtual team provides you the freedom you desire and the opportunity to grow. But there’s a right and wrong way to build one. After reading this post, I hope you understand how the best-of-the-best build theirs.

What are some of the ways you have built a great team for your business? Let us know by commenting below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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5 Mistakes New Entrepreneurs Make During Their First Year

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Would you consider selling 500+ million books a success? Of course you would, and it takes a rather creative and smart individual to achieve it.

JK Rowling is one of the most successful and celebrated authors of all time, but before her Harry Potter series grew into a global phenomenon, 12 publishers rejected her. Even the world’s most successful people fail. They make mistakes and suffer setbacks.

Such adversity never ends, not even when you reach the top. But it’s during your early stages when you suffer the most, because you only know what you know.  However, what if I told you there was a way to avoid many of the mistakes most people make. What if there was a way to avoid all that heartache, so you can fast-track yourself to the front of the line.  There is, and it isn’t as hard as you might imagine.

The smartest thing any new entrepreneur can do is to learn from other people. Why make your own mistakes when you can learn from other peoples’? Why suffer, when they have already created a solution to turn such failure into success?

This is what I did when I interviewed 160+ successful people for my latest book, ‘The Successful Mistake’. I dove into their biggest mistakes so you don’t have to make them.

Stop trying to do everything on your own. Nobody built an empire on their own. You need to involve others, and you need to build a team. Erin Blaskie tried to do it all by herself when she first created her virtual assistant business.

She found success. She had happy clients who loved her work. Yet it soon became too much, and the once high-standard that set her apart began to slip. Those clients jumped ship, and it left Erin exhausted. You cannot do this on your own. You need help. Don’t fight this, embrace it.

How To Fix This:

Think about all the tasks you do during an average week, and choose ONE to outsource. Over the next few days, find a VA who can do this work for you. Hire them next week. Start the process and never look back.

It’s easy to say yes. Saying yes feels good. On the outside, yes is a good word, because yes means more work and money. But the truth is, yes brings nothing but danger.

When Greg Hickman first started his business, him and his co-founder said yes to everyone. After all, their mobile marketing agency could potentially help any business, so they said yes to a restaurant… a bar… a barber… a golf course… and anyone else they could get a meeting with. Yes felt good, but ‘yes’ built zero traction. They tried to help too many people, and in the end helped nobody.

How To Fix This:

If you don’t have a customer avatar, you need to create one. This ‘single’ person is who you serve. Say yes to them, but no to everyone else (no matter how tempting it is).

Mistakes happen. Sometimes they are your fault. Sometimes they are not. No matter, there’s little point in playing the blame game. Brian Foley did when he first created BuddyTruk, and it remains one of his biggest ever regrets.

Despite a lot of investment, time, and effort, the first iteration of their innovative app fell short in every area. Brian and his cofounders were angry at the developers. They expected better, and they blamed them for this failure. But as they dove a little deeper, they realised there was more to the story. This failure arose, not down to incompetence, but due to poor communication.  Blame didn’t come up with a solution, but facing the issue head-on did.

How To Fix This:

The next time something bad happens, don’t blame anyone (especially yourself). Accept the mistake. Seek lessons from it. Communicate with your team. And then move on.

Fear is a part of life. Everyone has it, and no amount of money or fame removes it. But those at the top never let fear do their talking. Whereas those at the beginning of their journey often do. Debbie Millman did when she graduated college. She had dreams and ambitions, but she feared she wasn’t good enough; that the sensible option would be to get a job, climb the ladder, and do what ‘most’ people do.

She built a great CV and career, but Debbie continues to look back and wonder what she could have created if she pushed her fear to one side.

How To Fix This:

Do something that scares you today. Like Noah Kagan does, go to a coffee shop and ask for a 20% discount. The more you face your fear, the easier it is to overcome it.

 

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Startups

Your Competition Is Magnificent – Quit Being A Sook

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I’ve got this friend and he’s always crying about the competition. He spends a lot of time sooking about them and coming up with plans to take them down.

I’ve put up with it for a while, but now it’s driving me nuts. I started to think: how can we learn to love our competition in business?

Here are some thoughts I had about your competition:

 

Thought #1 – You say they’re lying. Good!

My friend says his competition is lying. Many businesses lie and that’s fantastic news for you. When a business lies, they are playing the short game.

“The long game in business is about being so vulnerable, authentic and real that it punches your ideal customer in the face every time they hear about your brand”

Trust in business, leads to incredible progress. All those marketing campaigns your competitor’s use are mostly to make them sound like something they are not. When your business is trustworthy, you don’t need to market as much.

Being honest cuts through the hype and because it’s so rare, your ideal customer runs towards you at 110km, with their arms wide open. Right behind them are all of their network who are begging to hear from a business that is a real – a business that is like you and me.

Don’t hate your dishonest competition: learn to love them from the bottom of your heart. See the love in your competition.

 

Thought #2 – There’s enough room for everyone

This scarcity mindset that you have to own 100% of the market in your first three years of operations is bulldust. There’s room for you and your competitors. It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon to reach the unicorn status that is success/world domination.

Feeling like you’re drowning in competition is exactly that. Focusing on your competition 24/7 makes you feel like absolute garbage after a while. It stops you from having a good night sleep full of dreams that contain growth, prosperity, optimism and triumph towards your businesses mission.

I used to be that guy that couldn’t sleep because of competition. Every time someone brought out the same product that was cheaper than mine, I cracked it. I thought that business was so hard because there were so many people that wanted to cut my lunch.

What I forgot is that despite all the competition, people were still buying. Even if we weren’t the cheapest, it didn’t matter. Some people would find us and buy, and others wouldn’t.

The competition can only cut your lunch for so long. If you stick at it and not let the thoughts of their horrible shadows upset you, you’ll be soon making the lunches and cutting theirs.

 

Thought #3 – It’s ugly

Sooking like a pissed off brown bear with a crown on its head is ugly. You’re showing everyone you work with that you are a sore loser. Winners worry about their own business first.

“Winners know that their business isn’t an immaculate diamond on day one”

Every time my friend complained about his competitors; it made his business seem ugly. I stopped becoming drawn to it as I did at the start. The conversations became more about his competitors than his own business. The focus was lost on competitors which he couldn’t control.

 

Thought #4 – You can’t win every deal

No business wins 100% of the opportunities that are presented. There’s this lie that you have to be always winning to be successful. There’s this belief that some people have that says their business is unique and therefore it’s only normal that when they pitch, they will always win.

Again, this is total BS. Your business might have some unique strengths, but there’s always competition. Some deals you’ll win and some deals you won’t. You don’t need to win all the time to put food on the table and be successful.

I’m also competitive by nature and I’ve had to settle sometimes for the simple fact that I won’t win all the time. Sometimes losing a deal is only the beginning. The opportunities you lose are where all the lessons are.

“Your lost opportunities are what strengthen your entire value proposition to the market”

 

Thought #5 – Seeing your competitors suck is inspiring

When a competitor of yours has a major failure, you should be inspired. What I mean is that you should never want your own client base to suffer the same gunshot to the head. Instead of trash talking your competitors for their mistakes, use them as inspiration to not be like them.

Your competitors should form part of the reason why you exist. You should exist not to make the same dumb mistakes they do. You should exist so your customers have a better alternative. Having horrendous companies within the same industry has inspired many businesses like Uber and Airbnb.

Being a business full of inspiring people is easier when everyone else sucks.

 

Thought #6 – Complaining shows insecurity

By my friend complaining about his competition, what he revealed to me was his insecurity. He was showing me that he lacked the confidence in his own product and so it made sense for him to talk down everyone else’s.

The thing is when you love your product and genuinely believe it’s the best in its field, you forget about everyone else’s. Believing in your product offering comes from the confidence that as a business you believe in yourselves.

If you believe, your ideal customer will believe. Bagging your competition may make you feel better in the short term, but it will never make your business grow.

Thought #7 – You only have so much thinking space

Don’t waste it thinking about your competitors. Use your thinking space to come up with new ideas, to innovate and to WOW your customers. These habits will stop you from living in the scarcity that comes with being obsessed by your competition.

Thinking about your competitors is not going to make them go away. Complaining about them will not improve your product or service. To have a good business, you have to operate from a place of creativity. Being creative is hard work and so you don’t want throw away your thinking space.

Dreaming about your competitors puts you in a spiral of negative thoughts. These thoughts start to overtake the positive ones and pretty soon you can’t be relentlessly optimistic anymore. It’s this optimism that helps you come up with ideas that will change the world.

Much like we compare ourselves to the lives we live through looking at other people’s social media, focusing on your competitor’s forces you to always believe you don’t have enough.

I’m here to say you are good enough. Your business is good enough. Your business can be one of the great’s.

 

Thought #8 – You can actually do business with your competitors

Here’s the really stupid thing: You can actually do business with your competitors. See, your business can’t fulfill every customer need. Instead of saying “We don’t do that,” use your competitors as referral partners.

I can remember in a business that I was a part of, where we used our competitors over the road to supply us with stock when we ran out and had items on back order. We would do the same thing for them when they ran out of stock. As a result, we always had stock.

“Our competitors over the road taught us lots of things we would have never known if we tried to play the solo game. Business is a team sport”

 

***Final thought***

Your competition is not the problem. They’re not the reason why you are losing sales. The real reason you are focused on your competition is because something is wrong with the way you are thinking. Your competitors can force you to sabotage your own success if you don’t stop focusing on them.

Complaining about your competitors never get’s you anywhere. The way to fast-track your success is to get intimate with your competitors and find a way to be uniquely you. Find a way to be bold, authentic, real, sexy and unwavering in your businesses values. Be the honest, cool company that is friends with everybody. That’s how you go from being a sook to being the best in your field.

I want you to use your competition to be world-class. You deserve it.

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

Tim is best known as a long-time contributor on Addicted2Success. Tim's content has been shared hundreds of thousands of times and he has written multiple viral posts all around success, personal development, motivation, and entrepreneurship. During the day Tim works with the most iconic tech companies in the world, as an adviser, to assist them in expanding into Australia. By night, Tim coaches his students on the principles of personal development and the fundamentals of entrepreneurship. You can connect with Tim through his website www.timdenning.net or through his Facebook.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Elliot

    Dec 7, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    My favorite piece of advice is the brain dump twice a week.

  2. Dylan

    Dec 5, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    This is a very informative list, thanks for sharing it.

  3. Keri Vandongen

    Nov 30, 2016 at 12:19 am

    Your comprehensive list should be useful for every entrepreneur, Max!
    My favourite 3 are learning to say NO more often, being task-oriented versus following a to-do list, and reducing decision fatigue.
    Another hack I’d add would be leaving unscheduled time each day. This advice came from Chris Brogan – the fastest way to burnout is to operate at maximum capacity for too long.
    ~Keri

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Entrepreneurs

4 Traits Successful Entrepreneurs Have in Common That Sets Them Apart From Everyone Else

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Entrepreneurs are currently in high demand in the world today. As the world progresses in population, there are basic necessities that are needed to curtail this growing population such as the creation of jobs and providing a means of livelihood to accommodate this growth.

An entrepreneur is mandated with the task of not just looking out for himself only, but also procuring ways (either by developing products or services) to ameliorate the standard of living of others. Anyone can be an entrepreneur, but being a successful one requires acquiring traits that are not otherwise common to the vast population of individuals in the world.

Some of the prevalent traits you can spot amongst successful entrepreneurs are listed below:

1. They are early risers

Scientists devised a concept which infer 8-hours of uninterrupted sleep as an optimal duration to attain a good night’s rest. Interestingly, the scientists who came up with this concept don’t follow such rule! You can’t sleep for a long stretch of hours and expect to attain a considerable high degree of success in your field.

A good sleep isn’t measured by quantity but by quality. You can sleep for 10 hours and still wake up feeling dizzy and miserable. It all depends on your state of mind at which the sleep was initiated. Successful entrepreneurs understand that attaining a high level of productivity is greatly influenced by how much you’re able to get done with the time you have at hand.

To get more time to themselves, successful entrepreneurs wake up early enough to use those hours in resolving tasks or planning their day. This gives them an edge in reducing their daily work load and accomplish their set goals on time.

2. They are not busy, they are productive

Most people conflict being busy as synonymous to being productive. This isn’t correct to a large extent as it’s possible to be busy and still not be productive. Being busy could portray not having enough time for yourself, but successful entrepreneurs know the more productive you are, the more spare time you’ll have.

Productivity is highly centred on your ability to distinguish between what’s important and needs more adequate attention from what’s not. Successful people are skilled in streamlining their schedule and placing more priorities to tasks and issues that are most paramount.

They don’t try to do everything on their own (this will make them too busy), so instead of multitasking, they hire people to perform jobs for them. This in turn increases efficient delivery and salvage more time for themselves to deal with other pressing issues.

“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.” – Bruce Lee

3. They don’t shy away from risks

Successful entrepreneurs are driven by passion filled with purpose. Following this direction often requires you to take certain actions that may not be comfortable to accommodate reasoning and approval from people. This is one trait that is prevalent amongst the vast number of entrepreneurs- the tendency to trust your guts and instincts even if it violates logic.

Nothing great can be achieved from the position of comfort. Successful entrepreneurs understand this and are willing to stretch their boundaries and embrace chances to do what’s necessary rather than what is convenient.

4. They accommodate their mistakes and failures

Every successful entrepreneur has been through a series of mistakes, failures, pain and disappointments. But their unrelenting persistence in not choosing to bail out sets them apart from a generation that have been indoctrinated to prefer security rather than freedom.

As Mark Zuckerberg said, “the greatest successes come from having the freedom to fail.” Learning from failures and mistakes is an invaluable skill that successful entrepreneurs have harnessed over the years which has contributed to their vast level of experience and expertise in their various field.

“Entrepreneurs know that you are not going to learn anything unless you make a mistake.” – Robert Kiyosaki

Becoming successful in business or any chosen career doesn’t come cheap. The world will certainly test your passion, dedication, persistence and patience and still won’t hand success over to you. You have to make a demand and take it for yourself by not giving up because you can’t see the end of the tunnel, and not taking failure or disappointment personally. All of these obstacles are only part of the journey.

How do you fight every day for your dreams to become a reality? Please let us know by commenting below!
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Entrepreneurs

5 Powerful Confessions From Entrepreneurs Who Never Went to College

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How important is college education for most of us? Can an entrepreneur become successful without a college diploma? Let’s see what secrets remarkable entrepreneurs may reveal to us about the way they survived without college.

Looking back at the experience we gather from the most powerful and famous business people, there’s more often a plus rather than a minus in becoming successful without a college degree.

1. Abraham Lincoln

“All I have learned,I learned from books.” – Abraham Lincoln

One of the 8 U.S. presidents who started as entrepreneurs and the only one who received a patent, Abraham Lincoln never went to college. In fact, he was not the only U.S. president who didn’t do it. 7 more presidents didn’t attend college as well.

One of the most striking confessions is that he valued books more than anything else that can educate. Proving that books were his teachers, Abraham Lincoln also acknowledged that his best friend would be a person who could give him a book he hadn’t read before.

No wonder, every entrepreneur with self-respect should read books. Abraham Lincoln proved that self-education is, actually, what makes us more powerful than we are. The 16th president of the United States invented a tool to lift riverboats over sandbars without a diploma as an evidence of his smartness.

2. Walt Disney

“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” –  Walt Disney

The father of Mickey Mouse, the first animated feature film in the world, and Disneyland founder, Walt Disney considered books as a treasure as well. However, because of his inattentiveness and constant drawing, Disney dropped out of high school.

Thus, his stronger motivator was failure. Working on Snow White, one of his most successful projects, Walt lost nearly everything, ran out of money, and almost went down the drain. But that was one of the lessons that helped him become the king of cartoons.

3. Richard Branson

“The best way of learning about anything is by doing.” – Richard Branson

A risk-taker with over a $4 billion fortune and the founder of the Virgin Group, Richard Branson left school at the age of 16 to start his first business – Student magazine. Despite the fact, that he faced dyslexia during his school years, he managed to take a chance in his hands and do what he wanted.

Although, Richard says he has no secrets to hide, he still confesses that he works hard, smart and does it with fun. The power of doing is a secret ingredient to success, according to Branson.

4. Milton Hershey

“My experience has shown me that the people who are exceptionally good in business aren’t so because of what they know, but because of their insatiable need to know more.” – Milton S. Hershey

The founder of the Hershey Chocolate Corporation and a philanthropist, Milton Hershey changed 6 schools, because his family moved very often and, eventually, he left school after the 4th grade to become an apprentice to a printer. Later, he found his passion in candy making.

His idea about business success is not in knowledge, but in the desire to know. Motivation and curiosity can lead you to the unknown realms and open them with ease, if you are ready to experience changes. The only question is to what extend your need is insatiable.

5. Coco Chanel

“Success is most often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.” – Coco Chanel

Being taught sewing by nuns, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, the only fashion designer to have been put on the 100 most influential people of the 20th century Time magazine’s list, never went to college. Her daring ambitions gave her strength to become one of the most successful designers in the world.

According to her words, the secret of success isn’t in knowing. Quite the opposite – it’s in unawareness. Virtually, it’s unknowing of the fact that failure is a must-be in business. And here’s when fear comes next after you think of a possible fiasco. Without knowing, there’s no fear. Consequently, you’re not afraid to stumble and fall, because you do not know it’s initially programmed.

What unites all these outstanding entrepreneurs? Except for the absence of a college degree? It’s the ability to acknowledge what actually ruled their success. And that’s not college education. Educators, professors and teachers who strive to make college education more proactive and productive can never substitute the inner power of a budding entrepreneur.

Have you met any entrepreneurs who never needed a college degree to become what they are now? Share your experience in the comments.
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Entrepreneurs

How to Lead a Virtual Team: 6 Essential Tips You Need to Know

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The rules have changed. You don’t need an office. You don’t need investors. You DO NOT need permission!

Today, anyone with a good idea (and an addiction for success) can start their own business. Within a matter of months you can build a six-figure business. It takes dedication and commitment, as you already know, but another vital ingredient many forget about in the beginning (I know I did) is to involve others.

You cannot do ‘this’ on your own. You need a team, but once again the rules have changed. You don’t need an office. You don’t need local people you ‘see’ each day.  There’s a new kid in town.

Introducing Your Virtual Team:

Virtual assistants… freelancers… location independent workers… there’s an entire generation who don’t wish to play by yesterday’s rules. The likes of Buffer and Infinitus have built seven-figure companies with no headquaters. Big name entrepreneurs like Michael Hyatt are building teams with no boundaries. The opportunities for a go-getting success seeker like you are vast.

But, building your virtual team is dangerous. There are many pitfalls to building a virtual team. Lucky for you and me there are MANY people to learn from. People who have been there and done it, and who offer advice so you don’t have to make the same mistakes they have. I’ve asked a selection of experts who know all about the right and wrong way to build a successful virtual team. This is what they say:

1. Chris Ducker: Create your 3 lists to freedom

“To save yourself time and money, create a list of: things you hate doing everyday, things you can’t do yourself, and things you shouldn’t be doing. This creates a blueprint of what your virtual team should work on, and allows you to effectively manage it.”

As founder of ‘Virtual Staff Finder’, Chris Ducker has helped entrepreneurs lead a balanced lifestyle for many years. What his ‘3 lists to freedom’ offers is your starting point, because it forces you to consider all the tasks you do (and could do), and hone in on what you should do. From there you can ensure your virtual team grows in a way that will save you time and make you money.

2. Erlend Bakke: Insist on a daily update

“My best tip is the daily update. This is what I ask them to send me: enter date and hours worked in total. What they did today. Two challenges encountered. Three questions they have for me. I have my three CEOs send me this update on a daily basis. It has saved me many hours over the past six years.”

This tip from the founder Mr Outsource, Erlend Bakke, is gold. You build a team to save yourself time, so the last thing you want is to chase updates, or have your team inundate you with questions. Instead, insist they update you each day with these key details. This allows you to stay in the loop, make necessary changes, and to do so without wasting your precious time.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” – Michael Jordan

3. Erin Blaskie: Create a solid backup plan

Create solid back up plans for if the worst case scenario were to happen. I had grown my own company to over 70 clients, and leaned on a few sub-contractors to help fill in the gaps. While this was great for clients to have that one-stop shop, it left me in a precarious situation when my lead web designer disappeared suddenly.”

As one of the early pioneers of virtual assistants, Erin Blaskie has seen the highs and lows of building a virtual team. A key component is to think how you can scale your operations at all times, and not rely on one (or a few) single person.

4. Kimanzi Constable: You shouldn’t let anyone have complete access to every part of your business

“Make sure you understand what you’ll give your virtual assistant access to and what you should give them access to. You shouldn’t let anyone have complete access to every part of your business.”

As a lifestyle entrepreneur and globetrotting consultant, Kimanzi Constable has built an ever-growing virtual team over the last few years. But he raises a good point, because you need to consider who has access to what in your business; and why. Failure here can have grand consequence, as Kimanzi found when one of his VA’s did the dirty.

5. Natalie Sisson: Share your business vision with your VA

Share your business vision with your VA, as it gets them on board with the bigger picture of why they do what they do. It also gives them ownership over their role, as they know what we’re trying to achieve as a team.”

After over a decade of travelling the world, Natalie Sisson built her Suitcase Entrepreneur community with the help of a virtual team. As she says, it’s important to help your team appreciate WHY they do what they do. Your aim isn’t to build a team, it’s to create a culture.

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” – Andrew Carnegie

6. Ari Meisel: Make the experience as rich as possible

Embrace asynchronous communication such as slack, and video messaging with Fika. Make the experience as rich as possible for people who are not in the same room as you.”

As an outsourcing advocate for many years, Ari Meisel built Get Leverage to provide his clients the virtual assistance they need. He appreciates the importance of communication, especially when you’re communicating with people in different rooms, countries, and continents.

There are an array of tools to communicate face-to-face these days, so don’t only speak to your virtual team over email. Involve them. Speak with them. Create an experience that leaves them feeling valued and part of a “real” team (not a virtual one).

The possibilities are endless for today’s success-seeking entrepreneur. A virtual team provides you the freedom you desire and the opportunity to grow. But there’s a right and wrong way to build one. After reading this post, I hope you understand how the best-of-the-best build theirs.

What are some of the ways you have built a great team for your business? Let us know by commenting below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Entrepreneurs

5 Mistakes New Entrepreneurs Make During Their First Year

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Would you consider selling 500+ million books a success? Of course you would, and it takes a rather creative and smart individual to achieve it.

JK Rowling is one of the most successful and celebrated authors of all time, but before her Harry Potter series grew into a global phenomenon, 12 publishers rejected her. Even the world’s most successful people fail. They make mistakes and suffer setbacks.

Such adversity never ends, not even when you reach the top. But it’s during your early stages when you suffer the most, because you only know what you know.  However, what if I told you there was a way to avoid many of the mistakes most people make. What if there was a way to avoid all that heartache, so you can fast-track yourself to the front of the line.  There is, and it isn’t as hard as you might imagine.

The smartest thing any new entrepreneur can do is to learn from other people. Why make your own mistakes when you can learn from other peoples’? Why suffer, when they have already created a solution to turn such failure into success?

This is what I did when I interviewed 160+ successful people for my latest book, ‘The Successful Mistake’. I dove into their biggest mistakes so you don’t have to make them.

Stop trying to do everything on your own. Nobody built an empire on their own. You need to involve others, and you need to build a team. Erin Blaskie tried to do it all by herself when she first created her virtual assistant business.

She found success. She had happy clients who loved her work. Yet it soon became too much, and the once high-standard that set her apart began to slip. Those clients jumped ship, and it left Erin exhausted. You cannot do this on your own. You need help. Don’t fight this, embrace it.

How To Fix This:

Think about all the tasks you do during an average week, and choose ONE to outsource. Over the next few days, find a VA who can do this work for you. Hire them next week. Start the process and never look back.

It’s easy to say yes. Saying yes feels good. On the outside, yes is a good word, because yes means more work and money. But the truth is, yes brings nothing but danger.

When Greg Hickman first started his business, him and his co-founder said yes to everyone. After all, their mobile marketing agency could potentially help any business, so they said yes to a restaurant… a bar… a barber… a golf course… and anyone else they could get a meeting with. Yes felt good, but ‘yes’ built zero traction. They tried to help too many people, and in the end helped nobody.

How To Fix This:

If you don’t have a customer avatar, you need to create one. This ‘single’ person is who you serve. Say yes to them, but no to everyone else (no matter how tempting it is).

Mistakes happen. Sometimes they are your fault. Sometimes they are not. No matter, there’s little point in playing the blame game. Brian Foley did when he first created BuddyTruk, and it remains one of his biggest ever regrets.

Despite a lot of investment, time, and effort, the first iteration of their innovative app fell short in every area. Brian and his cofounders were angry at the developers. They expected better, and they blamed them for this failure. But as they dove a little deeper, they realised there was more to the story. This failure arose, not down to incompetence, but due to poor communication.  Blame didn’t come up with a solution, but facing the issue head-on did.

How To Fix This:

The next time something bad happens, don’t blame anyone (especially yourself). Accept the mistake. Seek lessons from it. Communicate with your team. And then move on.

Fear is a part of life. Everyone has it, and no amount of money or fame removes it. But those at the top never let fear do their talking. Whereas those at the beginning of their journey often do. Debbie Millman did when she graduated college. She had dreams and ambitions, but she feared she wasn’t good enough; that the sensible option would be to get a job, climb the ladder, and do what ‘most’ people do.

She built a great CV and career, but Debbie continues to look back and wonder what she could have created if she pushed her fear to one side.

How To Fix This:

Do something that scares you today. Like Noah Kagan does, go to a coffee shop and ask for a 20% discount. The more you face your fear, the easier it is to overcome it.

 

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