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5 Lessons I Learned After Opening My First Business at 21

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People establish businesses for different reasons. It could be because they wanted to monetize their passion, saw an opportunity in the market, or to simply be their own boss. I’ve always aspired to build a business that revolved around what I loved so the responsibilities wouldn’t feel like a burden when it gets tough.

My partners and I didn’t have any experience in the Food Industry, and the only thing we knew was that we loved Japanese and Hawaiian food. We opened the restaurant fueled by nothing but confidence in ourselves and lessons from our ongoing college education.

Though opening day was one of the happiest days of my life, it didn’t stop there. In fact, it was only the beginning of my journey in the ups and downs of being a business owner.

Here are 5 important points I’ve realized while keeping the business afloat:

1. Loving to learn can go a long way

Given the fact that none of my partners and I had any professional experience in the food industry, we didn’t believe we were doomed. We hired a Professional Consultant who has been in the industry for a respectable amount of time that taught us what we needed to know such as where to get the necessary equipment, proper employee shifting schedules, where to get our suppliers, and even some leadership training.

He also referred a highly-competent Japanese Chef who taught us all the basics in a restaurant setting. Growing up unexposed to the kitchen, we had to allot a few days for the chef to teach us, especially me, first-level skills such as dicing, julienne, etc.

I didn’t allow my inexperience in the kitchen to stop me from making my dream come true. I kept trying until I knew more than enough, and to this day I’m still learning.

“Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.” – Helen Keller

2. There will always be naysayers

Before the restaurant even opened, there were already naysayers. Even the photographers during our first food photoshoot doubted us. Whether it’s family, friends, or strangers, it’s important to remember why you started. The naysayers challenged me to push harder to work on the business to the point that I thought I was going crazy.

Our vision and mission echoed in my head and it overpowered the negative comments of those who doubted the business. Now, we serve customers daily and some of them have reached out to us to appreciate what we offer. That’s one of the things that keeps me going and believe me, it’s almost the best feeling.

3. People will step on you if you let them

A month after we opened, we were falsely accused of food poisoning and threatened to post on social media. As a restaurant owner that is one of the worst things to be accused of. Our staff were harassed almost every day for a week by this person who was asking for an apology for something we didn’t commit.

We investigated, stood our ground, didn’t apologize (it can be used against you), and informed the person that we forwarded this matter to our lawyer. We never heard from them ever again immediately after that. Some people are just looking for ways to bring your business down and you shouldn’t let them.

4. First-mover advantage shouldn’t make you complacent

Although the concept has existed in Western countries, it’s entirely new where I’m from (The Philippines). This was a calculated risk we were willing to take knowing it’s an untapped market. As the first in the country, it was an audacious endeavor where anything can happen. Being the first-mover meant that we could commit mistakes faster, thus learning instantly, and then improve.

There had to be a constant will to innovate even if we had no direct competitors yet. Eventually, we had competitors and this compelled us to brainstorm new strategies and ideas to promote our business.

I’ve never even heard of Guerilla Marketing before! We resorted to those methods with the mindset that being the first doesn’t matter. What matters is being the best and we continuously develop our concept to achieve that.

“Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.” – Mary Tyler Moore 

5. Staying close to people that support you is important

My core group of friends since high school are one of the biggest fans of my restaurant. We would have group chats on Facebook Messenger and suddenly one of them will say they’re craving for food in my restaurant. Soon, all of them wanted it.

Now, they’re not saying they like it just because they’re my friends, but because they genuinely believe in me, the concept, and see my potential to grow. This continues to be one of my sources of inspiration, and for that I am forever grateful. In a sea of people who doubt you, find the few who believe in you through thick and thin.

Have you started your own business? What was your experiences? Leave your thoughts below!

Nicah Caramba is an entrepreneur who is passionate about public speaking and travel. Aside from chasing the next adventure, she is constantly looking for ways to help people communicate their ideas better in her blog todayimchanging.com! Sign up for her FREE Minimal Fear Course!

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The Best Way to Create a Six-figure Startup From Scratch

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how to create a six figure startup

Many solo entrepreneurs make good six-figure income living selling products and services online. If you’re a technical person, it’s even better, as you can create a highly-scalable cloud-based business. For non-technical founders, there are still many ways to make a six-figure or, even, seven-figure annual revenue.

Several years ago, I started an online publishing startup selling e-books written by myself and several co-authors. In one year, it started generating a six-figure income annually.

To me, that experience has been a determining factor for staying true as an entrepreneur. Today, I own several online ventures that sell both digital and physical products. Each of them uses a different business model.

During my journey to online success, I learned the following lessons related to running an online business:

1. Select products or services that you’re passionate about and the skills you’ve mastered

Only offer things that you’re already familiar with like the back of your hands. This provides you with the upper hand that other competitors might not have. You want your customers to be confident in your products by trusting you. This being said, don’t choose “the more trendy products” to sell. Don’t follow other people’s choices of products because what works for them might not work for you.

2. Find a proven business model that works for the specific product or service you’ll be offering

For instance, you want to sell women’s fashion, because you’ve had experiences in dressmaking or styling. Choosing women’s fashion products to sell is excellent, but you’d need to be more specific. You’d need a niche, because “women’s fashion” is such a huge category.

Let’s say you eventually choose to sell casual women’s apparel. Next, choose the business model carefully. Do you buy from a wholesaler in bulk and sell them? Do you accept consigned products from direct producers? Do you dropship products? Consider the pros and cons based on your strengths and weaknesses.

“The value of an idea lies in the using of it.” – Thomas Edison

3. Be familiar with the tools needed for each business model

Choose the most suitable e-commerce platform for the niche chosen. For instance, since you’ll be selling fashion, the images must include zooming capability, so customers can see the products in more detail. Each type of product requires different e-commerce platform. Selling e-books, for instance, requires a different approach, as it involves digital product download.

It takes time to choose the most appropriate platform for your business, yet it needs to be done properly. Take note of all the features you’d need. Get inspired by popular stores, so you can find some ideas that would work.

4. Optimize the online store with the most updated customer service tools

Today, customers want every service to be speedy and accurate. Make sure that you’re familiar with the most updated technologies, including CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and chatbots. Learn the benefits of each new plugin and how they can be adapted to your business.

As a startup, the first year is always the hardest to go through. The following are proven ways that I’ve been practicing through the years in keeping my focus and enthusiasm as an entrepreneur intact:

1. Be extra aware of changes, no matter how small

Being aware begins even before you start the business. By following your passion, you’re supposed to be already extra aware of what’s going on within this scope of expertise. Competitors, technologies, consumer behaviors, business tools, references (books and other materials)

2. Stay focused and determined to grow the business

It’s easier said than done. Staying focused requires more than a wish. It needs the strongest will to make things happen at any cost. When you’ve decided to do something, stick with it. Give yourself deadlines to complete and finish them off in time with the highest quality possible.

While psychologists disagree with being a perfectionist, to be successful as an entrepreneur, it would require a dash of perfectionism. Your products must be perfect before they can be sold to the public. And there is no way around it than being a perfectionist.

3. Lead yourself well before you lead the team

If you begin the business as a solo entrepreneur, self-direction is key. Working by yourself doesn’t mean you can sleep late, awake at noon, and work only if you want to. Being a solo entrepreneur is a commitment, especially if you seriously want to grow the business and take it to the next level. By learning to lead yourself well, you’d be accustomed to thinking as a leader, which is useful when you’re leading a team.

“The first person you have to conquer is you. This is because when at last you win over million people, the first person to bring you down could be you. Discipline yourself!” – Israelmore Ayivor

4. Build a positive startup culture by staying relaxed and flexible as a leader

The best leader is someone who encourages positivity, adaptability, and flexibility with his or her relaxed demeanor. Remind yourself that your own and your team’s mental and physical health is much more important than anything else.

5. Only hire the right people with the right attitude that fits the culture

The right team comprises of people that get along with each other, who fit the culture, and have the right skills will determine the future of your business. Thus, never underestimate the power of cultural fit. You can always train people to be more skillful, but personality traits and characters can’t be taught.

At last, being successful as startup founder requires both understanding of the ins and outs of the business and how to maintain the soft skills needed to keep the enthusiasm running. Stay true to your choice as an entrepreneur and remain eager to continue progressing. You’re on your way to become a six-figure (or seven-figure) online entrepreneur.

Do you want to start a business? If so, how are you going to put into action these steps? Let us know by commenting below.

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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3 Effective Ways to Build a Disruptive Startup Company

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You probably know of some startups in your country. Even if you know only a few things about business, you probably know how competitive all markets are. Yet some people are crazy enough to build an innovative business disrupting very competitive markets. That’s what entrepreneurs do.

Here are 3 tactics I learned reading their stories about building a disrupting startup from the ground up, personally and technically:

1. Disrupt Yourself

Entrepreneurship, at its core, is a big change, and every change—no matter its size or importance—begins inside of you. You have to initiate it. Successful people initiate proactively. Nobody can help you if you are not ambitious to change and grow.

It’s not an autonomous process. Change happens when you step out of your comfort zone, and it’s not supposed to be easy. In fact, facing uncertainty has always been the hardest part of every success story.

Therefore, to be successful, you have to disrupt yourself first. How?

Fortunately, it can be learned and practiced. According to Whitney Johnson, author and consultant, disrupting yourself involves seven steps:

  •         Taking the right risks.
  •         Playing to your distinctive strengths.
  •         Embracing constraints.
  •         Battling entitlement.
  •         Stepping back to move forward.
  •         Planning for failure.
  •         Letting your strategy emerge.

So to disrupt markets, you have to start with yourself.

“The more you seek the uncomfortable, the more you will become comfortable.” – Conor McGregor

2. Identify “Jobs to Be Done”

Finding a smart idea is another challenging aspect. Watch and research interesting markets and industries carefully. Don’t focus on products and features. Look for everything that companies in an industry are not good enough at doing—the poorly performed jobs.

Look for the real reasons behind buying a product or service.

  •         Does that product/service satisfy customers?
  •         Why don’t some people use a product/service?
  •         What don’t they like about an industry?
  •         What experience do they expect?

Answering these questions helps you know your customers’ real needs and to identify what Clayton M. Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor, calls “jobs to be done.” In other words, it helps you understand the real business you’re in.

This could be emotional or social, but it is less likely to be functional. Use your intuition. Talk to your target customers. Think about what jobs they might hire you to do for them. Pick an idea, create a business model, validate it, and run!

3. Change the customer process

The next challenge is crafting an innovative business model that accomplishes jobs for customers and solves their problems in the best way—and from a fresh perspective. To do this, you have to view the problems through the customer’s’ eyes.

Build a product that rocks and conquers the market. Then create an exceptional set of experiences along with your product/service. This will be possible by focusing not on touchpoints but on customers’ end-to-end journey.

A company’s processes should be aligned to support the journey. It may be easy to copy a business model, but it’s not easy to copy the process and customer experience, even in the most competitive markets.

“A man without a smiling face must not open a shop.” – Chinese Proverb

Remember that disrupting a market takes time. Learn to embrace the change and uncertainty that entrepreneurship entails and set yourself apart from others.

Do you want to start a business? Tell us what you have your heart set on so we can help you along the way!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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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

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5 Ways to Avoid Burning Out While Building Your Business

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Isn’t it strange how mundane things can bring back really vivid memories? As the burnt toast hit the trash, I remembered how burn out meant my first online business ended up on the scrapheap (nearly taking me with it). 

Juggling a full-time job, family, volunteering and running an online business left me physically, emotionally and psychologically exhausted. Just like toast, the burn creeps in slowly and when complete, you’re left unable to nourish yourself or anything else.

You may have already heard run-of-the-mill advice like taking regular breaks to prevent burn out. But what’s the point of stepping away from work only to be stressed that things will fall apart?

Here are five not-so-obvious ways to become burn out proof:

1. Create the right systems

Having no systems (or the wrong systems) is a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, systems get a bad rap because they can be seen as snooze fests. Who’s ever heard of a sexy system? I sure haven’t!

To make matters worse, traditional systems have a sterile and stuffy image that can make some entrepreneurs feel boxed into something that’s unsuitable for their needs.

The key to making systems work for your business is to design them with flexibility, so your creativity isn’t stifled. Systems that curb burn out are those that account for the ‘secret sauce’ of how you do business. This ensures authenticity, even when your business grows. I call these flexible and personalized systems ‘productivity recipes.’ Because, just like normal recipes, you have the core ingredients and you can make tweaks to suit your business taste.

We’re all different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all business system. Productivity recipes focus on the human side of systems. They bring order to repetitive tasks while taking into account the quirks that make your business unique.

Productivity recipes stop burn out by preventing you from biting off more than you can chew, especially when your business is growing.

2. Get apps ‘talking’ to each other

Automation is another way to hand over repetitive and stressful work. Services like IFTTT and Zapier connect the apps you use to automate your workflow. In other words, they get rid of the biggest time sucks in your business.

Part of creating productivity recipes is to spot tasks you can automate. This will help your business run like a well-oiled machine and save you money when outsourcing.

Start out automating everyday tasks, like social media and email management, by finding out how the apps can ‘talk’ to each other.

Do yourself (and your health) a favour and start to create productivity recipes to see what you can automate. The aim is to drop repetitive tasks like a hot potato to reduce the risk of burnt out. Get your apps communicating to free up time to chat with friends and family.

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” – Bill Gates

3. Outsource

Outsourcing should be done when you already have productivity recipes in place. It’s tempting to hand over parts of your business to a VA or freelancer and forget about it, but this approach could land you in hot water.

With productivity recipes, anyone you hire will have the blueprint of how you expect things to be done. You’ll also save time getting new hires up to speed. Most importantly, your clients won’t get any nasty surprises or unwelcome changes when you grow your team.

You’ll be able to take time out to recharge your batteries, having all the confidence that your business will continue to function properly in your absence.

4. Find some cheerleaders

Being part of a supportive group is crucial to making yourself burn out proof. Informal groups, like Facebook communities, are helpful networks that can prevent you going down the burn out road.

If you’ve been working non-stop and your brain feels as limp as the lettuce in the sandwich you’ve been too busy to eat, connect with people who can identify with where you are and encourage you to take a step back.

The best groups are those that aren’t strictly business. Look for a group with dedicated days for sharing things like inspirational quotes and jokes to lighten things up a little.

Feeling like you’re the only one who experiences overwhelm can be a lonely place. Being part of a community where people share their struggles helps to provide perspective that you can achieve your goals without compromising your health.

“Be strong, be fearless, be beautiful. And believe that anything is possible when you have the right people there to support you.” – Misty Copeland

5. Inject your personality into your passion

When you’re passionate about your work, it seems like you can work day and night without ever feeling tired. Of course, it’s advisable to make time for proper rest. I’ve found that, the more I enjoy work, the more I look after myself to reduce the risks of becoming ill. I’m passionate about helping entrepreneurs be more productive to avoid burn out. I’m also a huge foodie. That’s why I incorporate food and drink analogies in my work because being fed and watered is something we can all relate to.

Injecting your personality into your work makes everything easier. It’s very draining pretending to be someone you’re not. If you’re already pursuing your passion, add a splash of your personality to reduce the chance of burn out.

Suffering from burn out is a serious setback to your health and business. It’s a relief to know that, unlike the burnt toast that ends up in the trash, you can make a full recovery from burn out. But why take the risk in the first place? Put in place practical measures to avoid getting burnt when the heat is turned up in your business.

It’s good to share. What do you put in place to make sure you don’t burn out? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

How do you avoid burning out when things get tough? Let us know by commenting below!

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How I Spent The Last 3 Years Becoming Minimalist And Why You Should Too

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It started after a record few years of earning more money than I could spend.

I accumulated junk and things I didn’t need.

I’d buy ten pairs of black shoes, a new shirt for every birthday party I attended and every piece of audio software that some guy I didn’t know told me to get. It got out of hand quickly. It was a time in my life where I hadn’t begun working on myself and I was pretty down a lot of the time.

Buying useless junk numbed the pain but only for a short while. The lies I’d tell myself about my bad habit were incredible. I’ve been having a serious go at becoming minimalist for the last three years. I actually started a few years prior and ended up having a few false starts.

Here’s how I became minimalist (I’d suggest doing the same if you can):

 

Start with the big stuff.

That BMW had to go. It was taking up so much of my time and money to keep on the road. It was like a screaming child, always wanting something. Unlike a child, I had no passion or drive to take care of this European piece of crap that society told me I needed to be successful.

I put the car online for sale. It was a painful process and every person that came to see it found problems with what I thought was a spotless car.

It was a negotiation tactic and it was stopping me from beginning a new life with this whole minimalist dream.

I ended up selling the car for much less than it was worth. I did the numbers and no matter what, even losing a bit of money on it still made sense. Once the car was gone, the process of becoming minimalist began.

 

You can easily forget how out of control you are.

At the start of this minimalism process I had 4 computers, 5 microphones, 2 laptops, 5 mobile phones, 2 iPads, 2 soundcards, 2 large sized wardrobes of clothes, more than 20 pairs of shoes, multiple spare car stereos, and a whole pile of CDs and DVDs that were overflowing from my draws.

As I read back the list I just wrote, I now see how out of control I was. Oh and I even had an old VCR with heaps of old cassette tapes that I kept telling myself I’d watch one day even though I hate the idea of having to fast forward through in real-time to find out what’s on the tapes. I was delusional about my junk habit, to say the least.

 

Trying to give stuff away is useless.

The delusion that is giving stuff away is why you are still not a minimalist. The key lesson I had to learn time and time again was to stop trying to give stuff away, Some of the stuff I wanted to chuck out was valuable to someone, somewhere.

The trouble is that it’s hard to find the right person, at the right time who may have the space for your item. I thought about all the time wasted giving stuff away. I thought about the effort it took to deliver my junk to people’s homes. I thought about all the space my junk took up in my life.

 

It just wasn’t worth it. If you are serious about becoming minimalist and the benefits that come with this lifestyle, you’ve got to marry the idea that you’ll need to throw things away.

 

Not used it in 12 months? Chuck it.

This question sent my minimalist quest into hyperdrive. When I looked at how much stuff I had that in some cases hadn’t been used for more than 5 years, I figured out that these were things that I should discard. We tell ourselves that one day we’ll use a particular item.

That one day never comes and these items become a burden the longer we hold onto them.

 

Support charity where you can.

You may be reading this blog post thinking “Who is this a**hole who’s so disrespectful to the environment?”

Well, you’d be wrong. I did consider the environment and people less fortunate than me. Where possible, I gave away lots of clothes, shoes and electronic items to charity. If you want to be minimalist, then I’d strongly urge you to do the same.

The cool thing is you get to clear out your junk, feel good, and help someone in need. There are just so many good reasons to become minimalist. Jump on the bandwagon!

 

Get some external motivation.

While going through the journey of becoming minimalist, I coincidently interviewed a blogger named Joshua Becker. He runs a blog called Becoming Minimalist. Joshua taught me so many awesome little hacks to clear out junk and he changed the way I was thinking about material possessions.

 

It’s not just the physical junk.

I was trying to be the next big music producer before my minimalism quest started and so I kept buying more audio gear. I somehow thought that the more gear I had, the more cool sounds I could create. The trouble was I always had to learn how to use new gear, so I never mastered one instrument or audio effect.

Meanwhile, back in France, Daft Punk would brag about how old their computer was and how they always used the same small number of instruments. No wonder they had such cool music.

“Daft Punk went for minimalism that led to mastery, while I was dabbling in being a master of everything”

 

The other point to consider is that junk is not just your material things. We also collect digital garbage now as well. I still have more than 10 TB of data to sort through. This excess storage on our computers slows our operating system down, makes it hard to find stuff and requires us to keep buying more storage.

Having lots of data also makes it difficult to back stuff up because storing things in the cloud becomes an expensive pursuit for a data hoarder.

 

Some of us like the idea of becoming minimalist but never do.

Is that you? It was certainly me. Having dreams of taking action is what’s holding you back. It may be affecting more than just your goal to get rid of junk. Don’t think about taking action: commit to it.

Here’s how:

Aim to throw away one piece of junk every week.

I did this little hack and it’s how I’ve now been able to free up space in my life for things that matter.

 

Minimalism allows for more of the good stuff.

Once I had heaps of room from clearing out my junk, I noticed my mind was less busy. One of the key pieces of junk that was very hard to throw away was my old Mac Pro computer. I kept telling myself I may need it in the future even though my current Mac laptop is more than good enough.

I’m dumbfounded at how much time I would spend every day thinking about whether I should throw out my very old 2009 Mac. Finally, I got pissed off. The thinking time wasted on this idea could be used to do other stuff. Ultimately, what convinced me to throw it away was the time I’d get back to keep blogging for all of you.

Having space in your home and mind allows you room for the stuff and ideas you actually want in your life. You feel so free when you get to this point.

 

It’s a long journey.

Keeping junk out of your life becomes the next challenge once you are free of all of your garbage. Every holiday I go on I’m tempted to collect souvenirs I’ll never look at again.

“Every trip to the shopping centre makes me feel like a gambler trying not to place a bet”

The temptation at these giant concrete shopping centres is to buy more clothes, more shoes and more things that will supposedly make you happy.

I’ve learned through minimalism that less is more and that’s what leaves me space to be happy. I can’t be happy when I’m simultaneously pissed off with all of the junk in my life.

 

Junk sucks up our time and that’s the one thing we should never waste.

Do you want to waste time thinking about and maintaining your junk or would you prefer to live a life where you have room for what personally matters to you?

Not being minimalist is costing you more than you think. It’s leading you down a path that makes other people big profits while keeping you both broke and with a mind not focused on your goals.

Get a divorce from the material world. Marry the empty space of what you love instead.

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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Startups

The Best Way to Create a Six-figure Startup From Scratch

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how to create a six figure startup

Many solo entrepreneurs make good six-figure income living selling products and services online. If you’re a technical person, it’s even better, as you can create a highly-scalable cloud-based business. For non-technical founders, there are still many ways to make a six-figure or, even, seven-figure annual revenue.

Several years ago, I started an online publishing startup selling e-books written by myself and several co-authors. In one year, it started generating a six-figure income annually.

To me, that experience has been a determining factor for staying true as an entrepreneur. Today, I own several online ventures that sell both digital and physical products. Each of them uses a different business model.

During my journey to online success, I learned the following lessons related to running an online business:

1. Select products or services that you’re passionate about and the skills you’ve mastered

Only offer things that you’re already familiar with like the back of your hands. This provides you with the upper hand that other competitors might not have. You want your customers to be confident in your products by trusting you. This being said, don’t choose “the more trendy products” to sell. Don’t follow other people’s choices of products because what works for them might not work for you.

2. Find a proven business model that works for the specific product or service you’ll be offering

For instance, you want to sell women’s fashion, because you’ve had experiences in dressmaking or styling. Choosing women’s fashion products to sell is excellent, but you’d need to be more specific. You’d need a niche, because “women’s fashion” is such a huge category.

Let’s say you eventually choose to sell casual women’s apparel. Next, choose the business model carefully. Do you buy from a wholesaler in bulk and sell them? Do you accept consigned products from direct producers? Do you dropship products? Consider the pros and cons based on your strengths and weaknesses.

“The value of an idea lies in the using of it.” – Thomas Edison

3. Be familiar with the tools needed for each business model

Choose the most suitable e-commerce platform for the niche chosen. For instance, since you’ll be selling fashion, the images must include zooming capability, so customers can see the products in more detail. Each type of product requires different e-commerce platform. Selling e-books, for instance, requires a different approach, as it involves digital product download.

It takes time to choose the most appropriate platform for your business, yet it needs to be done properly. Take note of all the features you’d need. Get inspired by popular stores, so you can find some ideas that would work.

4. Optimize the online store with the most updated customer service tools

Today, customers want every service to be speedy and accurate. Make sure that you’re familiar with the most updated technologies, including CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and chatbots. Learn the benefits of each new plugin and how they can be adapted to your business.

As a startup, the first year is always the hardest to go through. The following are proven ways that I’ve been practicing through the years in keeping my focus and enthusiasm as an entrepreneur intact:

1. Be extra aware of changes, no matter how small

Being aware begins even before you start the business. By following your passion, you’re supposed to be already extra aware of what’s going on within this scope of expertise. Competitors, technologies, consumer behaviors, business tools, references (books and other materials)

2. Stay focused and determined to grow the business

It’s easier said than done. Staying focused requires more than a wish. It needs the strongest will to make things happen at any cost. When you’ve decided to do something, stick with it. Give yourself deadlines to complete and finish them off in time with the highest quality possible.

While psychologists disagree with being a perfectionist, to be successful as an entrepreneur, it would require a dash of perfectionism. Your products must be perfect before they can be sold to the public. And there is no way around it than being a perfectionist.

3. Lead yourself well before you lead the team

If you begin the business as a solo entrepreneur, self-direction is key. Working by yourself doesn’t mean you can sleep late, awake at noon, and work only if you want to. Being a solo entrepreneur is a commitment, especially if you seriously want to grow the business and take it to the next level. By learning to lead yourself well, you’d be accustomed to thinking as a leader, which is useful when you’re leading a team.

“The first person you have to conquer is you. This is because when at last you win over million people, the first person to bring you down could be you. Discipline yourself!” – Israelmore Ayivor

4. Build a positive startup culture by staying relaxed and flexible as a leader

The best leader is someone who encourages positivity, adaptability, and flexibility with his or her relaxed demeanor. Remind yourself that your own and your team’s mental and physical health is much more important than anything else.

5. Only hire the right people with the right attitude that fits the culture

The right team comprises of people that get along with each other, who fit the culture, and have the right skills will determine the future of your business. Thus, never underestimate the power of cultural fit. You can always train people to be more skillful, but personality traits and characters can’t be taught.

At last, being successful as startup founder requires both understanding of the ins and outs of the business and how to maintain the soft skills needed to keep the enthusiasm running. Stay true to your choice as an entrepreneur and remain eager to continue progressing. You’re on your way to become a six-figure (or seven-figure) online entrepreneur.

Do you want to start a business? If so, how are you going to put into action these steps? Let us know by commenting below.

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3 Effective Ways to Build a Disruptive Startup Company

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how to build a startup

You probably know of some startups in your country. Even if you know only a few things about business, you probably know how competitive all markets are. Yet some people are crazy enough to build an innovative business disrupting very competitive markets. That’s what entrepreneurs do.

Here are 3 tactics I learned reading their stories about building a disrupting startup from the ground up, personally and technically:

1. Disrupt Yourself

Entrepreneurship, at its core, is a big change, and every change—no matter its size or importance—begins inside of you. You have to initiate it. Successful people initiate proactively. Nobody can help you if you are not ambitious to change and grow.

It’s not an autonomous process. Change happens when you step out of your comfort zone, and it’s not supposed to be easy. In fact, facing uncertainty has always been the hardest part of every success story.

Therefore, to be successful, you have to disrupt yourself first. How?

Fortunately, it can be learned and practiced. According to Whitney Johnson, author and consultant, disrupting yourself involves seven steps:

  •         Taking the right risks.
  •         Playing to your distinctive strengths.
  •         Embracing constraints.
  •         Battling entitlement.
  •         Stepping back to move forward.
  •         Planning for failure.
  •         Letting your strategy emerge.

So to disrupt markets, you have to start with yourself.

“The more you seek the uncomfortable, the more you will become comfortable.” – Conor McGregor

2. Identify “Jobs to Be Done”

Finding a smart idea is another challenging aspect. Watch and research interesting markets and industries carefully. Don’t focus on products and features. Look for everything that companies in an industry are not good enough at doing—the poorly performed jobs.

Look for the real reasons behind buying a product or service.

  •         Does that product/service satisfy customers?
  •         Why don’t some people use a product/service?
  •         What don’t they like about an industry?
  •         What experience do they expect?

Answering these questions helps you know your customers’ real needs and to identify what Clayton M. Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor, calls “jobs to be done.” In other words, it helps you understand the real business you’re in.

This could be emotional or social, but it is less likely to be functional. Use your intuition. Talk to your target customers. Think about what jobs they might hire you to do for them. Pick an idea, create a business model, validate it, and run!

3. Change the customer process

The next challenge is crafting an innovative business model that accomplishes jobs for customers and solves their problems in the best way—and from a fresh perspective. To do this, you have to view the problems through the customer’s’ eyes.

Build a product that rocks and conquers the market. Then create an exceptional set of experiences along with your product/service. This will be possible by focusing not on touchpoints but on customers’ end-to-end journey.

A company’s processes should be aligned to support the journey. It may be easy to copy a business model, but it’s not easy to copy the process and customer experience, even in the most competitive markets.

“A man without a smiling face must not open a shop.” – Chinese Proverb

Remember that disrupting a market takes time. Learn to embrace the change and uncertainty that entrepreneurship entails and set yourself apart from others.

Do you want to start a business? Tell us what you have your heart set on so we can help you along the way!

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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

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5 Ways to Avoid Burning Out While Building Your Business

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how to avoid burnout

Isn’t it strange how mundane things can bring back really vivid memories? As the burnt toast hit the trash, I remembered how burn out meant my first online business ended up on the scrapheap (nearly taking me with it). 

Juggling a full-time job, family, volunteering and running an online business left me physically, emotionally and psychologically exhausted. Just like toast, the burn creeps in slowly and when complete, you’re left unable to nourish yourself or anything else.

You may have already heard run-of-the-mill advice like taking regular breaks to prevent burn out. But what’s the point of stepping away from work only to be stressed that things will fall apart?

Here are five not-so-obvious ways to become burn out proof:

1. Create the right systems

Having no systems (or the wrong systems) is a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, systems get a bad rap because they can be seen as snooze fests. Who’s ever heard of a sexy system? I sure haven’t!

To make matters worse, traditional systems have a sterile and stuffy image that can make some entrepreneurs feel boxed into something that’s unsuitable for their needs.

The key to making systems work for your business is to design them with flexibility, so your creativity isn’t stifled. Systems that curb burn out are those that account for the ‘secret sauce’ of how you do business. This ensures authenticity, even when your business grows. I call these flexible and personalized systems ‘productivity recipes.’ Because, just like normal recipes, you have the core ingredients and you can make tweaks to suit your business taste.

We’re all different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all business system. Productivity recipes focus on the human side of systems. They bring order to repetitive tasks while taking into account the quirks that make your business unique.

Productivity recipes stop burn out by preventing you from biting off more than you can chew, especially when your business is growing.

2. Get apps ‘talking’ to each other

Automation is another way to hand over repetitive and stressful work. Services like IFTTT and Zapier connect the apps you use to automate your workflow. In other words, they get rid of the biggest time sucks in your business.

Part of creating productivity recipes is to spot tasks you can automate. This will help your business run like a well-oiled machine and save you money when outsourcing.

Start out automating everyday tasks, like social media and email management, by finding out how the apps can ‘talk’ to each other.

Do yourself (and your health) a favour and start to create productivity recipes to see what you can automate. The aim is to drop repetitive tasks like a hot potato to reduce the risk of burnt out. Get your apps communicating to free up time to chat with friends and family.

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” – Bill Gates

3. Outsource

Outsourcing should be done when you already have productivity recipes in place. It’s tempting to hand over parts of your business to a VA or freelancer and forget about it, but this approach could land you in hot water.

With productivity recipes, anyone you hire will have the blueprint of how you expect things to be done. You’ll also save time getting new hires up to speed. Most importantly, your clients won’t get any nasty surprises or unwelcome changes when you grow your team.

You’ll be able to take time out to recharge your batteries, having all the confidence that your business will continue to function properly in your absence.

4. Find some cheerleaders

Being part of a supportive group is crucial to making yourself burn out proof. Informal groups, like Facebook communities, are helpful networks that can prevent you going down the burn out road.

If you’ve been working non-stop and your brain feels as limp as the lettuce in the sandwich you’ve been too busy to eat, connect with people who can identify with where you are and encourage you to take a step back.

The best groups are those that aren’t strictly business. Look for a group with dedicated days for sharing things like inspirational quotes and jokes to lighten things up a little.

Feeling like you’re the only one who experiences overwhelm can be a lonely place. Being part of a community where people share their struggles helps to provide perspective that you can achieve your goals without compromising your health.

“Be strong, be fearless, be beautiful. And believe that anything is possible when you have the right people there to support you.” – Misty Copeland

5. Inject your personality into your passion

When you’re passionate about your work, it seems like you can work day and night without ever feeling tired. Of course, it’s advisable to make time for proper rest. I’ve found that, the more I enjoy work, the more I look after myself to reduce the risks of becoming ill. I’m passionate about helping entrepreneurs be more productive to avoid burn out. I’m also a huge foodie. That’s why I incorporate food and drink analogies in my work because being fed and watered is something we can all relate to.

Injecting your personality into your work makes everything easier. It’s very draining pretending to be someone you’re not. If you’re already pursuing your passion, add a splash of your personality to reduce the chance of burn out.

Suffering from burn out is a serious setback to your health and business. It’s a relief to know that, unlike the burnt toast that ends up in the trash, you can make a full recovery from burn out. But why take the risk in the first place? Put in place practical measures to avoid getting burnt when the heat is turned up in your business.

It’s good to share. What do you put in place to make sure you don’t burn out? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

How do you avoid burning out when things get tough? Let us know by commenting below!

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