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5 Steps To Building A Strong Personal Brand

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Whether you’re an entrepreneur running a business or a career focused professional, building a strong personal brand is essential for earning respect in your field and achieving success.

Your personal brand is your reputation, it’s how others perceive you, it’s how you market yourself and deliver a unique promise of value. As Amazon founder Jeff Bezos says, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room”

If you look at some of the most successful people in the eye of the media today – from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Taylor Swift to Richardson Branson, they’ve all developed solid personal brands that are both authoritative and likeable. 

Here are 5 steps to build a strong personal brand:

1. Connect with influencers

Having your name associated with successful peers is a guaranteed way to raise your profile and give your personal brand a huge boost. Make a list of the biggest influencers in your industry and build strong relationships with them over time.

You can start off by simply commenting on their blog posts or social media updates, then as you build their trust you can offer to help with their new project or invite them to an industry event. Once your name Is frequently being mentioned amongst industry influencers, then you too will be perceived as an influencer.

 

2. Let your personality shine

People are drawn towards others who are interesting and fun to be around so avoid being dull in your professional life. Whether you’re speaking to a client on the phone or sending an email to a supplier, try to breathe some life into your interactions so that people remember you with a smile. Don’t be afraid to be different – it’s better to be a little different than to be the boring person that nobody remembers.

“Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness.” – Allen Ginsberg 

3. Get recommended

Few things strengthen your personal brand more than public praise from other people, especially if those praising you are well known. If you’re a business owner, you should be asking your most reputable clients to publicly recommend you on social media as well as your own site.

If you are career focused, then you should be asking your most senior colleagues and ex-colleagues to recommend you on LinkedIn to prove the value you have provided.

 

Branding
 

4. Create valuable content

In order to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry, it’s essential that you demonstrate your expertise through providing useful informative content on the web. Whether you create detailed how-to-videos or write data driven industry reports, make sure you create something that will help your clients and boost your reputation at the same time.

Once you provide value to somebody upfront without asking for anything in return, you build trust and make it easier for them to begin a working relationship with you.

 

5. Take on public speaking engagements

Public speaking is a proven tool for boosting your reputation and positioning yourself as an authority on a particular subject. Public speaking is a difficult skill to master so start with small groups of colleagues or clients before pitching yourself to speak at conferences and events.

Only speak about the subjects you are most knowledgeable and passionate about to ensure you can speak confidently and deliver engaging sessions.

“The success of your presentation will be judged not by the knowledge you sent but by what the listener receives.” – Lilly Walters

If you’re looking to achieve success via a strong personal brand, then keep working hard to prove yourself as an expert in your field and build trust in your market.

What steps can you take to create your own successful personal brand? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

Andrew Fennell is the founder and Director of London based CV writing and career development firm StandOut CV. Andrew is also a regular contributor to the Guardian Careers sections and speaks about career development at Companies and Universities across the UK.

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Ran Mendis

    Aug 3, 2016 at 4:13 am

    Cheers Tim, what a coincidence? I watched cool runnings couple of days ago n super inspired. Awesome work Tim you have just extracted the cream of it and my favorite point is ” being different is important ” I’m a big fan of yours and you inspired me to create content, now I’m doing dailly. Keep writing Tim. Respect n Regards. Ran Mendis

  2. folawewo Oludare

    Feb 1, 2016 at 6:40 pm

    Thanks Andrew. Personal lifestyle and business life are 2 aspects that needed to be mash together. Balancing this could prove a task as maximum concentration is needed,even sometimes,reflective meditation is require to bring out the best of trait. But altogether,I really find this article very helpful as it gave the stepping blocks of ideas on which to climb higher in achieving a goal. So insightful. I will make use of it. Thanks.

  3. Nihar Pradhan

    Jan 18, 2016 at 7:28 am

    Wonderfully written Andrew…Brand is such a vital component of building a successful venture, many times as innovator or creator of new ideas we overlook the brand per se and get bogged down in the nitty-gritty of the product and its functioning, these all matters but it is brand that counts in the big picture. The identity and the trust that comes with brand is what sets the product or service apart in the market…

    Yes, it so much about creating valuable content and being able to articulate and speak out loud in the gathering and being able to garner the confidence that makes a huge difference…

  4. Joseph Themba

    Jan 8, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    Great one Andrew! Many thanks

  5. jay

    Jan 6, 2016 at 11:51 pm

    Nice!

  6. Ngonidzashe

    Jan 2, 2016 at 5:54 pm

    I like this. This is a great article.

  7. Nissar

    Jan 1, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    Great post Andrew. Thanks for writing this.

  8. Owen Hone

    Dec 31, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    Great post Andrew

  9. Lawrence Berry

    Dec 30, 2015 at 3:41 am

    Marketing and branding is very important in building s successful business and making money. Becoming a household name is one the toughest things to achieve but these steps can help you achieve just that. Connecting with influencers is important. Learn from them and find a way help them as they will offer you help as well. Successful people want others to be successful as well.

  10. Doreen Pendgracs

    Dec 28, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    Terrific article. I’ve worked very hard over the past 6 years to build my brand. His hard it is!

    Congrats to Tim for joining Toastmasters. I’ve been a member for 15 years and have found it to be an invaluable organization.

  11. Stephen Osoko

    Dec 28, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    This was very insightful. I particularly have been using Step 1. There are so many benefits of engaging with influencers without a doubt! Great Post Once Again!

  12. Tim Denning

    Dec 27, 2015 at 6:34 am

    Andrew thank you for this post. While I already do some of these five points, there are still afew that I don’t do and your article is a good reminder for me to make it my new years resolution. One that I currently don;t do is public speaking although i have signed up to Toastmasters to build some skill. I have heard Lewis Howles speak of Toastmasters a few times so I figured it must be worth a try.

    I hope to read more of your work and thanks again!!!

    • Andrew Fennell

      Dec 28, 2015 at 4:39 pm

      Thanks Tim – Yes it can be hard to balance all points but looks like you’re doing a good job!

  13. addicted 2 The Grind

    Dec 26, 2015 at 10:47 pm

    Great Post #1 is the most important in my opinion. If you produce great content it will be seen eventually but if you connect with influencers in your space that can speed up the process.

    You can’t be scared or to cocky to interact with other thought leaders in your space.

  14. Ajasa

    Dec 26, 2015 at 10:31 pm

    Many thanks sir this article is very helpful sir

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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.

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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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!

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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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!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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7 Everyday Methods Go-Getters Use to Train Their Minds

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train your mind

A lot of importance is given to physical fitness, yet have you met anyone who says, “I am training my mind?” The world gives so much attention to a pretty package but what about the inside? (more…)

Luke writes about mental wellness and benefits of brain supplements at nootrina. He’s a big fan of Yoga and mindfulness and feels that these two are the real key to mental well-being. Being a foodie, Luke loves cooking and brings several cuisines to bear at his dinner table. He’s looking to improve the awareness about mental health issues and share ways to handle them among people of all ages.

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Ran Mendis

    Aug 3, 2016 at 4:13 am

    Cheers Tim, what a coincidence? I watched cool runnings couple of days ago n super inspired. Awesome work Tim you have just extracted the cream of it and my favorite point is ” being different is important ” I’m a big fan of yours and you inspired me to create content, now I’m doing dailly. Keep writing Tim. Respect n Regards. Ran Mendis

  2. folawewo Oludare

    Feb 1, 2016 at 6:40 pm

    Thanks Andrew. Personal lifestyle and business life are 2 aspects that needed to be mash together. Balancing this could prove a task as maximum concentration is needed,even sometimes,reflective meditation is require to bring out the best of trait. But altogether,I really find this article very helpful as it gave the stepping blocks of ideas on which to climb higher in achieving a goal. So insightful. I will make use of it. Thanks.

  3. Nihar Pradhan

    Jan 18, 2016 at 7:28 am

    Wonderfully written Andrew…Brand is such a vital component of building a successful venture, many times as innovator or creator of new ideas we overlook the brand per se and get bogged down in the nitty-gritty of the product and its functioning, these all matters but it is brand that counts in the big picture. The identity and the trust that comes with brand is what sets the product or service apart in the market…

    Yes, it so much about creating valuable content and being able to articulate and speak out loud in the gathering and being able to garner the confidence that makes a huge difference…

  4. Joseph Themba

    Jan 8, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    Great one Andrew! Many thanks

  5. jay

    Jan 6, 2016 at 11:51 pm

    Nice!

  6. Ngonidzashe

    Jan 2, 2016 at 5:54 pm

    I like this. This is a great article.

  7. Nissar

    Jan 1, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    Great post Andrew. Thanks for writing this.

  8. Owen Hone

    Dec 31, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    Great post Andrew

  9. Lawrence Berry

    Dec 30, 2015 at 3:41 am

    Marketing and branding is very important in building s successful business and making money. Becoming a household name is one the toughest things to achieve but these steps can help you achieve just that. Connecting with influencers is important. Learn from them and find a way help them as they will offer you help as well. Successful people want others to be successful as well.

  10. Doreen Pendgracs

    Dec 28, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    Terrific article. I’ve worked very hard over the past 6 years to build my brand. His hard it is!

    Congrats to Tim for joining Toastmasters. I’ve been a member for 15 years and have found it to be an invaluable organization.

  11. Stephen Osoko

    Dec 28, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    This was very insightful. I particularly have been using Step 1. There are so many benefits of engaging with influencers without a doubt! Great Post Once Again!

  12. Tim Denning

    Dec 27, 2015 at 6:34 am

    Andrew thank you for this post. While I already do some of these five points, there are still afew that I don’t do and your article is a good reminder for me to make it my new years resolution. One that I currently don;t do is public speaking although i have signed up to Toastmasters to build some skill. I have heard Lewis Howles speak of Toastmasters a few times so I figured it must be worth a try.

    I hope to read more of your work and thanks again!!!

    • Andrew Fennell

      Dec 28, 2015 at 4:39 pm

      Thanks Tim – Yes it can be hard to balance all points but looks like you’re doing a good job!

  13. addicted 2 The Grind

    Dec 26, 2015 at 10:47 pm

    Great Post #1 is the most important in my opinion. If you produce great content it will be seen eventually but if you connect with influencers in your space that can speed up the process.

    You can’t be scared or to cocky to interact with other thought leaders in your space.

  14. Ajasa

    Dec 26, 2015 at 10:31 pm

    Many thanks sir this article is very helpful sir

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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.

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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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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