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The Biggest Lie When It Comes to Scaling Your Business

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There’s a powerful, short paragraph in Rolling Stone’s recent profile of Elon Musk that resonated deeply for me: “Going to sleep alone kills me. Being in a big empty house, and the footsteps echoing through the hallway, no one there – and no one on the pillow next to you. How do you make yourself happy in a situation like that?

Like the scene in Wizard of Oz when the curtain is pulled back and the all-powerful wizard is revealed to be a frail, old man, these 44 words reveals the essential lie at the heart of Elon’s brand of entrepreneurship: that you cannot have it all.

Below, we will look at what you should always focus on even during the challenging part of scaling your business:

The (Obvious) Key to Happiness

Just about every major study has shown that the #1 contributor to happiness is our relationships. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, yet it’s shocking how easy it is for most people to forget that relationships, like plants, take nurturing in order to thrive and grow.

Musk’s work ethic has achieved legendary status – 100-hour work-weeks are his norm. Think about that. That’s 14+ hours a day, 7 days a week. Allowing 6-7 hours/day for sleep, and 2-3 hours/day for things like showers, commuting and eating. That leaves maybe an hour a day for spending quality time with the people in our lives or pursuing other passions.

Musk is held up as a role model because he’s been able to achieve financial success, massive impact, and perhaps most alluringly, fame.  It’s a perfectly acceptable model – we need more people solving the world’s biggest problems – as long as you understand the cost.

Yet most people believe they can have it all ranging from massive impact, fame, a loving family, friends, travel, and adventure. This is not the truth, and it’s something I bought into for many years.

“People may spend their whole lives climbing the ladder of success only to find, once they reach the top, that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.” – Thomas Merton

Believing The Myth

I’m the father of 3 young kids and married to the love of my life. Like most fathers and husbands, I said (and believed) my wife and kids mean the world to me, but my actions belied my words.

For years I poured myself into my businesses. I brought on investors to my adventure travel company, and we expanded into new regions all over the world. Last year, I launched a program that would see us scale into every country on Earth by 2021. I launched new projects and businesses every few months.

I wanted the awards. I wanted the magazine covers. I wanted to speak on stages around the world. I believed the myth. I believed these things would make me happy, and with each passing month, my relationships with my wife and kids – and the other important people in my life – became more strained.

Some Things Don’t Scale

From the networks I belong to, and events I attend, I’m connected to many successful entrepreneurs, some running $100MM+ companies. In these circles, scale is unquestioned: scale is what entrepreneurs do, and the faster we can scale, the better.

Yet, the most important things don’t scale easily. As almost any entrepreneur can attest, revenue and profit often scale very differently, and fast revenue growth can – and often does bring profit down. It’s put a lot of companies out of business. That same growth creates crises and challenges that are messy, stressful, and not easy to solve.

I’ve asked dozens of my friends if they’re happier running their businesses now than when they were much smaller.  90% of the time, the answer is a begrudging no. Their businesses aren’t as fun to run. They’re working harder than ever. They’re spending less time with loved ones and doing the things they love.

What’s driving this push for scale?

Almost always, it’s a hungry ego at the wheel. It’s a quest for significance and a need for validation.I recognize this because it’s the trap that I fell into. About 8 months ago, I read Ryan Holiday’s excellent book, Ego is the Enemy. I began to see how so much of what I was chasing was driven by my insatiable ego.

Since then, I’ve been on a quest to better understand and work with my ego. The goal is not to remove or ignore my ego, but to acknowledge it and work with it in healthy ways, rather than be controlled by it.

When I finally decided to stop feeding my ego, it was like lifting a huge weight from my shoulders. I no longer chase the vanity things I once chased, and I’ve been way happier as a result. I’ve designed my life to be less in service of ego and more in service of others.

I got rid of our office and made my team fully remote (and used many of the tips in this article as a guideline) so that I could work from home and spend more time with my wife and kids. I scaled back my main business so that we could focus on profit instead of revenue and work less. I carved out time in my schedule to connect with friends and the people I want to connect with.

My relationship with my wife has never been better. I’m spending more time with my kids, and when I do, I’m much more present. I’m spending time deepening my existing relationships and fostering many new ones. I’m a much happier person, and my company is more profitable (albeit smaller).

“At the end of the day, I just want to sit with someone I love and chat about what matters and even what doesn’t.” – Crystal Woods

Scale is great, but…

I don’t want to totally write off or demonize scale. You can achieve incredible things at scale that you can’t when you’re a small company. Pursuing massive scale is perfectly acceptable and worthwhile, as long as:

        a) you’re aware of the price that you’ll need to pay and are willing to pay it.

        b) you’ve reflected deeply on the true motivations behind the goals you’re chasing.

Understand the price you’ll need to pay, exactly why you’re chasing massive scale, and you’re far less likely to achieve the wrong kind of success. You’ll be much happier along the way.

A friend recently posted the following words on his Facebook wall, after learning that his mom’s heart was only operating at 60% and he could be facing his last Christmas with her.

“She’s been through hell and I busted my ass every day to become something so I could provide for everyone around me. So I could give back and I finally “made it.” But money can’t buy a new heart, it can’t buy a couple more years, a couple more smiles, a couple more holidays, a couple more memories.”

Make sure your ladder of success is leaning against the right wall.

How do you make sure your priorities are in line while focusing on your career aspirations? Let us know by commenting below!

Mike Brcic is the founder and Chief Experience Officer at Mastermind Adventures, a company that creates unique adventures for entrepreneurs to deeply connect with and learn from their peers in spectacular settings. He’s also the founder of Sacred Rides, the “#1 mountain bike tour company on Earth” (National Geographic Adventure magazine). He’s based in Toronto, Canada, and is currently working on a private mastermind platform to connect entrepreneurs who are seeking more fulfilment in life.

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Entrepreneurs

6 Creative Ways to Hype Up a New Product on Social Media

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It’s the week before the big product launch, and you’ve been asked to help with a big marketing splash. The problem is despite brainstorming for a few weeks and pushing out a few tweets to build the pre-launch buzz, you’re out of ideas. But merely wondering how to help the new product capture the minds of prospects and customers doesn’t really help.

Here are 6 creative things you should consider to generate excitement for your product in the target market:

1. Create a goal

Don’t limit your awareness program to merely “make people aware” of the product. Go beyond the ideal definition and expand it. There has to be a goal that assists you to measure the success of your program.

This goal can be the number of followers you drive to your webpage, or probably the ones who sign up for more updates. Find out what other options work best for you and let them guide you through the awareness campaign. The key is to make it measurable and ensure if your website is any good; it is fully geared to be not much more than a giant lead magnet.

2. Sell smart, not hard

No matter how much effort you put in, if you don’t do it smart, they’ll lead you to failure. Just because you are leveraging social media, doesn’t imply you can aim in the dark and wait for the arrow to hit the target miraculously. Make sure you very well know the problems that you are trying to solve.

Analyze the people affected by those issues and what attracts them. Leverage social media, but target your buyer personas. New products are often a great time to reconnect with existing clients and prospects. A fantastic way to do this is by getting your sales team to share the content and measure the engagements and click-through rate. Once you have the comparative view handy, you can make the most of social platforms.

“Working hard is very important. You are not going to get anywhere without working extremely hard.” – George Lucas

3. Strike a chord

Personalization is the key to hit the sweet spot in the hearts of buyers. Have the sales team personalize the message. Give your employees the chance to explain the value to their networks.

Write high-level social copy for the various vertical markets you serve and then set the team lose in honing the conversation online. Done effectively, the click-through rate can go through the roof!  

4. Build engaging content

Consider buyer personas while drafting the social copy of your content. And take note, we are referring to buyer personas, not a persona. It includes more than one streak of your ideal buyers.

Invest time in understanding the critical aspect of each of them. Make sure you know what your product has to offer to each of them and translate that understanding to explain this value proposition. The better you do at segmenting the message, the more clicks and engagements your content will produce.  

5. Don’t reveal too much

Sometimes, marketers get carried away and unveil too much of the information in the pre-launch phase itself. What is left for the final big reveal? Apparently nothing but the product itself. And mind you, dear friend, curiosity killed the cat because she could not withhold it. Why not leverage this mentality for your product marketing as well?

Build anticipation and create mystery around the product. Drop hints, create hype but make sure you have some excitement reserved for the actual launch. Don’t disclose every significant twist.

“Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.” – Andrew Davis

6. Narrate a story

Compelling narratives are a powerful way to engage people with your product even before it hits the shelves. Let the existing buyers talk about their experience with your current products. Not only will it talk about your offerings, but it’ll also highlight the positive relationship with existing clients. That’s something that can pay dividends when building a bond with the new ones. Additionally, you receive attention from followers of the customers you are showcasing.

Is your product launch is just a few days ahead, and you need to create product hype on social media? Well, it is quite a task to make the pre-launch ripples. But these six creative strategies can help you get the job done effectively. Use these ideas to showcase the hard work your product team has done and ensure a successful product launch.

Which one of the above 6 ways to market a product do you believe is most important and why? Share your thoughts below!

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5 Skills I Learned in the Military That Helped Me Become a Successful Entrepreneur

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The moves I’ve made in my career from the military, to the mining industry, to running a multinational business in Latin America, aren’t linear. It’s not every day an ex-Australian military officer finds their niche in Latin American business.

Graduating from Australia’s Royal Military College and Defense Force Academy, I served as a commissioned officer in the Australian Army for nearly 11 years, completing operational tours to Central Asia and the Middle East.

The transition from various Army engineering and infantry roles through to managing a team of legal and financial executives was neither quick nor painless. But, as I entered the company formation process, I found my military service played a significant role in shaping my entrepreneurial fitness. The skills I developed in the Australian Defense Force supported me through several commercial iterations more than once.

Here are some of the key connections I drew between core military values and those I apply to the boardroom environment:

1. Be calculated and decisive

Unsurprisingly, a crucial requisite of military functionality is working quickly and effectively under pressure. This rings especially true for the strategic planners of operations: the commissioned and non-commissioned officers.

My military role made tough demands on me to decide on the best course of action for myself and my team. When deployed overseas, making the wrong decision or not making a decision fast enough could mean failing our mission, and putting people in danger.

In business, it’s vital to understand, analyze and communicate the risks involved in the options laid out before you at various stages. Making offers to clients, moving into a new market, investing large amounts of money into projects. And decisions need to be made based on this analysis before these opportunities pass by.

I can confidently draw on my experiences in service to act fast and capitalize on opportunities as they become available, and make tough decisions in high-pressure situations.

“You cannot make progress without making decisions.” – Jim Rohn

2. Resilience is key

Resilience is fundamental to success in any military career. In training and on operations, one soldier’s spiralling morale could put an entire section in danger. Military personnel are vetted for their adaptability and mental strength from day one, using tried-and-true techniques to push people to their limits.

Having a high level of resilience allows you to cope when things don’t go to plan in business. Investments might not show returns as quickly as hoped, a competitor snatches up an important client, or a difficult situation arises between staff that needs careful management.

I can confidently draw on military-learned techniques to support my own and others’ resilience in the office. Being able to maintain a high level of morale among teams fosters productivity and a willingness to ‘soldier on’ in challenging situations.

3. Leadership and cooperation

People in leadership positions are those that others turn to for advice and support. As a leader, you have to be prepared to make tough decisions that others can’t or won’t. A high-performing team has a courageous, empowering, and communicative leader at its helm.

This is as true in the military as it is in business. Building the right team and driving them to success is both challenging and rewarding – whether the outcome is securing a key logistical foothold to allow aid and other supplies to travel into a war-torn area, or seeing a newly-opened office secure its first major client.

4. Discipline

Not every soldier has an easy time appreciating the ubiquity of drills in their military workplace, nor their role in underpinning the success of a smooth operation. But a lack of discipline is tantamount to putting oneself and others at risk. Ignoring lawful orders, or not applying proper first-aid to a fellow soldier, are a couple of examples of this.

To me, commercial discipline means being professional always, even in stressful or frustrating situations. Maintain integrity in everything you do, and don’t cut corners. Carrying out proper legal and financial procedures means staying compliant under local law, and avoiding complications with authorities.

Staying committed to an objective and refusing to drop standards enables you to build a credible reputation for your business that clients hold in high regard.

“We don’t have to be smarter than the rest, we have to be more disciplined than the rest.” – Warren Buffett

5. Cultural awareness

Finally, but no less importantly, showing respect for cultural customs in business is essential for cultivating strong professional relationships. Being aware of your cultural background, and sensitive to those of others, will help build social connections, and make you more relatable to others.

Foreign militaries operating in troubled parts of the world understand that building trust with local individuals and communities is imperative. Without that trust, moving around becomes difficult and more dangerous. To gain trust, soldiers must show respect for people’s culture and way of life.

The same is true in business. A small hiccup such as not shaking hands, or giving an air-kiss to a new acquaintance here in Latin America could start an entire working relationship off on the wrong foot. Cultural sensitivity shows a willingness to embrace people and their society. Never underestimate the significance people place on this element when evaluating your suitability as a professional partner.

It’s no secret that commercial success requires passion, hard work, and dedication. Don’t be afraid to call upon your own and others’ previous experiences to find solutions to problems or forge ahead with complex projects. For military personnel considering testing out their business acumen, be confident that your years of service to your country have also set you up for success in the world of business.

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3 Scientifically Proven Things Entrepreneurs Should Be Doing to Increase Overall Performance

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Many of us know that becoming an entrepreneur isn’t easy. Most are working very long hours, seven days a week, and are making tremendous sacrifices to ensure their businesses are increasing in all areas. They are actually building empires right?

While this type of mindset is okay for a season, many get stuck in the vicious cycle of working non-stop and not taking care of themselves. We all know working hard definitely has its rewards and benefits, but overworking can lead to many unnecessary and unhealthy developments.

Below are 3 things entrepreneurs should be taking advantage of, in order to develop a proper work-life balance and still stay ahead of the eight ball:

1. Get enough sleep

Many of us have been programmed to think that you have to work hard and long in order to be successful in life. While working hard is very important to becoming successful, recent studies have shown that getting the proper amount of sleep is even more important. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation is one of the main causes of stress and burnout in the lives of many people.

Arianna Huffington is a huge advocate for getting a minimum of eight hours of sleep per day, in order to improve our decision-making, well-being, creativity, and productivity. Those bragging about only getting four to five hours of sleep are actually admitting that they are not functioning or performing at their maximum potential.

Researchers have also shown that when you are getting seven to eight hours of sleep, your brain signals your body to release hormones and compounds that assist in brain memory, maintaining your immune system, and decreasing risks in health conditions. Therefore, getting enough quality sleep is key for a healthy lifestyle.

“There’s practically no element of our lives that’s not improved by getting adequate sleep.” – Arianna Huffington

2. Take vacations

Studies show that there are multiple health benefits of vacationing. A few of them consist of less stress, decreased depression, improved productivity, and improved mental health. Who wouldn’t want to experience that right? The ones who break away from the day-to-day functions of working, to go on vacation usually come back on fire and ready to keep crushing their goals.

Vacationing allows you to really put things into perspective, not only for yourself, but for your business as well. Taking vacations gives you the opportunity to unplug and spend that much needed quality time with yourself and your loved ones.

It also gives you time to relax, reflect, and recharge. In doing so, research shows that you come back refreshed and ready to function at peak performance. You also get to have fun, visit really cool places and check off destinations on your bucket list.

3. Take breaks

No matter how much you love your work, you can’t continue to be a driving force while running on empty. CEO Chris Cavallini, of the multi million dollar company Nutrition Solutions, believes in this principal one hundred percent and stands firm on the idea that taking a 60 second break every hour will reboot, recharge, and refocus your mind, body and spirit.

It makes the team more efficient and productive, says Chris. Many times a quick mental or physical shift is all you need, to come back to work with more creativity and more energy for your next breakthrough.

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

Recent studies have shown that those who experience constant stimulation of the same thing, is registered by our brains as unimportant, to the point that our brain erases it from our awareness.

They also show that taking a two-minute break can increase productivity by as much as 11.15%. Since entrepreneurs are constantly on the go, several short breaks through out the day should definitely be included due to all of the amazing benefits they provide.

Some of the things you could do on your breaks that will increase performance and productivity include, standing and stretching, resting your eyes, quick exercises like jumping jacks, push ups, sit ups, or pull ups and even checking your social media.

The next time you feel like you don’t have time to take a break, think about all the benefits you’ll miss out on by not taking one.

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12 Essential Skills Required to Succeed as an Entrepreneur

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There are lots of unwritten rules about the right set of skills needed to succeed as an entrepreneur. No doubt, entrepreneurs are filled with a sense of uncertainty on the right set of skills they need to acquire. So, how do successful entrepreneurs know the right skills to integrate into their operations? This is the million dollar question, and it’s time to answer it!

As an aspiring or veteran entrepreneur, here are some of the essential skills you need to succeed as an entrepreneur:

1. Money Management

Let’s face it, you can’t achieve your entrepreneurial goals if you don’t know how to manage your finances. You need to put structures in place to monitor where your income and expenses come from.

Ask yourself if you are spending more than you earn, and also calculate your savings ratio. You need to keep yourself informed of the latest financial investment rules and how to navigate your business through difficult situations.

2. Ambition

Yes, ambition is one of the hardest skills for entrepreneurs. The aim is the skill you need to keep going when situations become dire. It’s the ability to know your destination and not to lose focus.

Successful entrepreneurs have an aggressive nature, and this is what drives them to work hard. More so, their dynamic environment keeps them cautious and always on the alert for windfalls.

3. Willingness to Learn

Learning is a continuous process. Most entrepreneurs make the mistake of restricting their education to their educational institution. Instead, knowledge is a life-long process, and it’s an essential skill for successful entrepreneurs. Therefore, you must be updated with recent events in technology, your environment, and your industry. Remember, even old dogs can learn new tricks!

4. Creativity

You need creative skills to succeed as an entrepreneur. Trying out the same thing over and over will still generate the same result. Therefore, you need to harness your creativity to discover new methods of doing things. Mind you, being creative doesn’t mean you have to do something drastic. Sometimes, it requires simple actions such as talking to people or taking up new skills.

“Creative thinking inspires ideas. Ideas inspire change.” – Barbara Januszkiewicz

5. Productivity

Successful entrepreneurs have learned how to harness their productivity skills by discovered what is productive for them, and adhering to it. More so, successful entrepreneurs increase their productivity by working at energy peak levels. Lastly, utilize the productivity tool that works for you and improves on it throughout your entrepreneurial journey.

6. Social Skills

Some entrepreneurs downplay the importance of social skills. This group of people fail to realize that you improve your chances of success by walking with the right people. Search for entrepreneurs with similar goals and observe how they overcame challenges. Furthermore, study their success strategies; this will help you to perfect your business plans.

7. Management Skills

It’s not enough to learn the skills as mentioned above without improving your management skills. As an entrepreneur, you will need to manage your workers effectively to get the right result. This is the time to learn how to encourage, develop, and support your employees. Learning a management skill will help you to recognize and allocate tasks in tandem with their strengths and weakness.

8. Social Media Proficiency

Here’s one skill that can shape the landscape of your business. Yes, social media is an integral part of your success as an entrepreneur. In the initial phase of your business, you will need to assume the role of a social media manager, and this involves knowing how to navigate and use social media platforms.

9. Perseverance

Every successful entrepreneur has experienced failures and crippling defeats. They were able to survive these dire situations when many others lost their businesses. Successful entrepreneurs persevere through these hard moments by choosing to learn and make calculated decisions from experience.

“It’s perseverance that’s the key. It’s persevering for long enough to achieve your potential.” – Lynn Davies

10. Time Management

Time management is considered a valuable skill by a successful entrepreneur. With time management, you need to have a detailed plan or schedule for your daily tasks. More so, this skill helps you to prioritize tasks and how to tackle the important ones.

Time management helps you to battle procrastination when making crucial and everyday business decisions. Think of time management as one of the hard skills for entrepreneurs. Remember, you will never achieve your goals without gaining mastery over your time.

11. Communication

It doesn’t matter if you run a small business or a large corporation. It is imperative for you to know how to communicate effectively with your clients, mentors, stakeholders, and even your employees.

It’s one skill that’s crucial to your success as an entrepreneur. Why? You won’t succeed if you can’t communicate the values of your brand. So, you need to master all forms of communication. What’s more? You need to show your employees the importance of effective communication.

12. Business Strategy

Having a business strategy is considered an essential skill for successful entrepreneurs. Although most entrepreneurs reached the pinnacle of their careers through sheer will and strength, it’s necessary to have a business strategy. Utilize the skills mentioned above to create a business structure that’ll stand the test of time.

We’ve successfully created a list of skills to succeed as an entrepreneur. No doubt, it’s been an eventful journey. Now, all you need is to integrate these skills into your mode of operations. Practice these skills until it becomes the core of your business operations.

Which one of the above 12 skills do you feel is most important for an entrepreneur? Share your thoughts below!

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