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5 Time Management Tips For Lazy Entrepreneurs

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Admit it, building a business is tough.

You have a million different things to do, and you must prioritize from a list as long as the Nile.

It drives you nutty sometimes, right? You complete one task and 10 more pop up.

You question your decision to take the entrepreneurial route to save you from the nine-to-five grind, especially now that you’re working twelve-hour days with no end in sight.

So you do the only thing you know how to do. You knuckle down and work even longer hours, clinging to the hope that suddenly everything will become easier.

Yet, you know that won’t work either. Fortunately, the solution to your entrepreneurial woes is more simple than you think — become a lazier entrepreneur.

Why the most successful entrepreneurs are the laziest

Society has always frowned upon laziness, but I have always seen it as a talent. The laziest people are normally the most driven and successful.

Think about it for a second, lazy people want to spend the least amount of time on any given job so they can have fun.

Which of the following scenarios represents less time expended?

  1. A client emails you asking for an invoice, but you put it off. You take one minute to read it. You spend five minutes pondering a reply over dinner, and you re-read the email before replying the next day.
  1. You read the email and send a reply instantly.

 

Ironically, which option represents less effort for a lazy entrepreneur? Which option allows you to grab drinks with your friends or watch a movie with your family without worrying about work?

So it’s time you became a lazy entrepreneur.

It’s time you worked less and became more efficient, and, most importantly, its time you gained the freedom that inspired you to begin entrepreneurship in the first place.

“Progress isn’t made by early risers. It’s made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something.” – Robert A. Heinlein

5 Ways to work less and do more

Time management is a skill, but you’ll only use it if you have a good reason to. It’s extremely easy to fall back into working long hours, especially when entrepreneurs seem to compete for the most hours worked.

Efficiency and results should be your only aim, not the length of time worked.

So before you jump headfirst into testing these tips, make sure you’re ready to smash your efficiency levels and work less.

It’s pointless if you don’t actually want to work fewer hours. If you get an ego boost by gloating about that 80-hour week, stop reading now.

But if you’re like me and want the freedom, wealth, and happiness you deserve, beat your ego with the following tips.

 

1. Cut work that doesn’t truly matter

This is one of the hardest things to do, but analyze how you spend your time and what results you actually want from that time.

80% of your wealth will come from 20% of your work, so cut wastage. Only focus on work that brings in the money you desire.

To do that, you must understand what your goals are.

As a founder, are you looking to increase gross profit, net profit, or spare time?

When you’ve chosen your goal, you must track and understand where you stand right now.

Which clients are your most profitable and easiest to work with? Once you’ve figured this out, ruthlessly cut the other clients that eat up your time and profit.

“Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.” – Peter Drucker 

2. Do everything last minute

Let’s imagine you have to write a press release, and you only have one hour to write it.

I bet you would complete it on time.

I also bet that if you had twenty hours to complete it, you’d end up taking twenty hours.

You would spend your time collecting useless facts that you wouldn’t even use, and you’d write and rewrite until you reached perfection.

This phenomenon is based on the Parkinson’s Law where “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

So force yourself to do work at the last minute, and set a time limit to make sure you get it finished and don’t run over.

 

3. Train yourself like you would train a puppy

Do you know that every time you stop halfway through your work to grab a coffee or similar distraction, you are training your body to have bad habits?

Such actions are analogous to training your dog to sit, yet giving him a treat when he plays dead instead.

So if you want to keep your mind focused, you must train yourself like a puppy.

When you finish your work, you get a treat.

This will teach you to work harder and stay focused longer so you can get a break and grab that coffee.

Sounds a bit weird, but it works.

 

4. Stop wasting energy on pointless tasks

I woke up one morning, grabbed breakfast, and then picked up my phone and read two articles about a new live streaming app.

This led to me downloading the app and playing with it a bit.

Before I knew it, one hour had disappeared.

Has this happened to you?

I bet it has, so to avoid such pitfalls, you must have one aim only.

Seriously, only one aim!

It could be building your email list or designing your logo, but create one thing to focus on.

This gives you a reference point you can refer to when considering and doing other activities throughout the day.

You are an entrepreneur; your job is to succeed. So next time you pick up that new article, app, or social network, ask yourself, “How will this help me reach my dream? How will it help me reach freedom?”

Chinese-Proverb-Picture-Quote
 

5. Skip your meetings

That’s right, I said it.

Meetings are a waste of time and energy. Stop lying to yourself.

Do you truly need to go to the next meeting you’ve got arranged?

Would emailing the information be more effective?

Even better, could you use team collaboration software like Basecamp and just cut out all meetings?

Most meetings are just distractions and excuses not to get the critical work done.

So rethink your meetings.

Will they add to your productivity and efficiency or take away from them?

 

Its your turn

You started your company to build freedom in your life.

You built your website, brought your first client on board, and made that first dollar for one thing.

Freedom!

So stop working long, grueling hours, and start working smarter.

Start being lazy and efficient, and start using your time only on the things that matter to you and your goals.

This is your opportunity to radically transform the way you work.

Start living the type of happy, fulfilling life you truly desire.

 

Edward Noel is on a mission to stamp out anxiety and fear in talented Individuals. Download The 5 ultimate tools every lazy entrepreneur needs.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Pinki

    May 4, 2015 at 2:24 am

    Thanks for suggesting- Do everything at last minute.

  2. Chanelle

    Apr 28, 2015 at 6:26 am

    Love it! I agree with all except for #2. I hate doing things last minute because it causes me stress. Though I work well under pressure I like to prioritize my list and get things done as early and quickly as possible so I have time to revise if needed get consensus etc and strike it off my list. I do strongly agree with number 5. A lot can be accomplished by phone or email. Commuting to a meeting is sometimes pointless. Give me an agenda and if I have nothing to contribute or have no reason to be there, I will not go. I can do 10 times more things with my time than sitting in a meeting.

    • Edward

      Apr 30, 2015 at 8:06 am

      Chanelle,

      Glad you liked it! I agree number 2 can be scary and puts a lot of pressure on you. It was looking at it from an efficiency sense with the aim to stop you from procrastinating. Which is something I am very guilty of… Especially as game of throne has just come back on!

  3. Jiliane

    Apr 27, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    I love this! It makes me feel less guilty about the way I do things.

  4. Doensie

    Apr 27, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    The problem with the second tip is that people tend to underestimate the time needed for any work. So, as you said, set a time limit, but perhaps it’s better to set it 19 hours before the deadline.

  5. Abuzar Tariq

    Apr 26, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Very helpful post. Doing things at last minute is so true i experienced this in my daily routine.

  6. Bethany @ Online Therapy and Coaching

    Apr 25, 2015 at 11:41 pm

    Thank you for this! Great suggestions! I look forward to the day when I can stop going to meetings and focus on what truly matters. 🙂

    • Edward

      Apr 30, 2015 at 8:09 am

      Glad you liked them Bethany,

      I think we are all looking forward to that day! But hopefully as companies are becoming more savvy with the use of collaborative softwares such as basecamp or Asana soon we can all work from the comforts of our own home!

      Hope they help 🙂

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

Startups

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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3 Lessons I Learned From the Failure of My First Startup

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You’re exhausted. You’ve put countless of hours into an idea that you believed in so much. Literally almost blood, sweat and tears were sacrificed for this vision to be accomplished. You had hoped and expected for a lot of things, and was excited to have plans for the future.

A few months ago, I wrote an article here titled, “What I Learned After Opening My First Business at 21.” My restaurant was doing well that time, and writing that article made me feel on top of the world. I thought that it was going to be that way for a long time, yet not so long after that, sales started to become stagnant and then declined.

As I write this today, my restaurant has already stopped operations. It stopped a few days ago, but a couple months back, I knew it was bound to happen. We couldn’t keep up with the bills we needed to pay, and they kept accumulating day by day. With a heavy heart and chaotic mind, we knew we had to close it down.

I couldn’t believe this was happening barely one year after starting operations. But if you were to ask me that if I had the chance to start over, would I do it again? I would still say yes. Despite its failure, there were still very important (also expensive) lessons that I learned that I would never have acquired otherwise if I didn’t start the business.

Here are a few lessons I learned after failing my first startup:

1. Entrepreneurship requires resilience

You cannot ever be successful if you haven’t developed resilience. Whether you like it or not, something will turn out wrong in your business. Maybe sometimes not to the point that it needs to be shut down, but something that could make your decisions critical to your organization goals.

You could give yourself time to grieve, but it shouldn’t stop there. Life goes on. And you need to get back on your feet if you still want to make a difference. The biggest companies that are successful right now all experienced a massive amount of failure.

But they never stopped trying. Because with every failure comes a lesson. Anyone with common sense would learn from that failure, and start again with more knowledge on what to do and what not to do.

Whenever I thought about the accumulated debts of my restaurant, I would have this sinking feeling in my chest and stomach. I knew that I would have to liquidate the assets. So I continued to search for buyers of the assets.

Instead of grieving for a much longer period, I knew I’d have to pick myself back up again so I could pay the debt. It might be hard at first, but if you call yourself an entrepreneur, quitting is not an option. We fail, we learn, then get back up.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

2. Learn to listen

Being a first-time founder, I had a very idealistic attitude. I had no experience in the food industry and established the business with only the belief that my partners and I would make it. I was wrong.

Aside from not being able to make it with that business, I realized what the naysayers had been telling me all along. But you have to be careful here. There are naysayers who have no credibility to back up what they say and want to bring you down. But there are also ones who speak from experience and are genuinely concerned for you. You must learn to discern the right voices to listen to if you want to succeed.

Taking risks is good, but make sure those risks are calculated and not reckless. We took a risk that wasn’t entirely reckless, but not all aspects of them were calculated. We were unsure of some parts of the business, and just “winged” it. Look at what happened to winging it!

Know when you need to jump with both feet or just one, but also listen to the voices who tell you when to put your feet in the water. Trust me, you never know when you will value their input.

3. Your failures do not define you

I never thought this would take a toll on my self-esteem, even when I knew I had to get back up. On the outside I looked normal. Going to school, work, and social settings looking like nothing had happened. But inside I was a wreck and didn’t want to admit it.

I would feel guilty whenever people would praise me about how “successful” I was at such a young age but that wasn’t true. For a while I thought that I was the failure. My insecurities started haunting me again and my browser history was filled with questions on what to do.

That was when I discovered that successful people failed more often than they succeeded. Even the ones with smaller businesses had their fair share of failures before finding an idea that worked for them.

But their failures never got to their heart. They weren’t the failures. The business failed, not them. So they tried again until they got it right. Maybe this business didn’t work out for me, but that doesn’t mean I’ll never be successful. The sooner you believe your failures don’t define you, the more the weight will be lifted off your shoulders.

People fail every single day. The difference between the ones who succeed and those who don’t is persistence and the drive to continue even after failing. It’s much better to try and fail than never having to start and learn nothing.

“Success is not a good teacher, failure makes you humble.” – Shah Rukh Khan

Have you ever started a business that eventually failed? What did you learn from it? Please leave your experiences below!
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Want A Business Idea That’s Guaranteed To Make You Money? Here’s How You Should Start.

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Let’s first start off with the “why”. When you know why you’re doing something, it can create clarity in your tasks, and direct your efforts. So, grab a sheet of paper, or a notebook and let’s get started.

Answer this question: Why do I want to start a business? Here are some common answers.

  • to do something I love
  • to create financial freedom so I can, “fill in the blank” (travel, pay off debts, buy expensive things, etc.)
  • to have the freedom to set my hours, choose when I work and what I work on
  • to help others, using my skills
  • I hate my job

Once you know why you’re doing it, you’ll have a better idea of what your goals are.

“The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you discover why you were born.” – Mark Twain

Start With Your Skills

At the heart of every business, and profession is the solution to a problem. If you can identify a problem that a group of people are having and solve it for them, you have the makings of a successful business.

Start with your current skill set. Everyone has skills, passions and talents in one area or another. What we fail to sometimes see is the ability for those skills to solve a problem for others in a meaningful way.

You can also ask family and friends to help you identify your skills. They may point out strengths you never considered. Keep in mind you don’t need to have mastered that skill yet, you can continue to learn and develop it as you go along. Ray Higdon a successful business man says to “Invest, learn then teach”.

Invest in yourself and improving your skills, learn more about your niche, and creating solutions to their problems, then teach others what you’ve learned.

Once you’ve got that down, the next step is doing some research. What problems are people having that you could use your current skill set to help solve? This is where picking a niche comes in handy. A niche refers to a small specialized portion of the population.

Let’s say, you’re a stay at home parent, and one of your skills is cooking healthy family meals that your kids enjoy. Your niche will likely be stay at home parents. You can then narrow down your search by checking forums and website or magazines that target stay at home parents.

“If you do what you love, it is the best way to relax.” – Christian Louboutin

What To Look For in Your Research?

Look for pain points and problems, especially those that are recurring. You may find that cooking healthy meals is not necessarily where parents are struggling, maybe it’s with purchasing healthy foods or the cost (money and time) of healthy meals. You want to look at the questions people are asking, and take note of the language they use to describe their problems. Nutritious vs. healthy. Quick vs. easy.

Finally, take note of products that offer solutions to those problems. These offer ideas to you about ways in which you can present your solution; Youtube channels, specialized cookbooks, how-to guides, online courses, etc.

By the time you’ve followed all these steps, you would have established 3 things:

  1. A monetizable skill set — You know what your skills are and how you can use them
  2. Proof of a Need — People have a problem that you can solve, and now you know who they are.
  3. A Profitable Market — If people are buying said cookbooks, or paying for products, this shows you that they are willing to put their money where their mouth is.

This is the beginning of any business. Fast Food restaurants offer quick meals on the go, Walmart puts everything in one place so people don’t have to travel to different stores, books entertain or instruct, cars transport and save time. At the heart of every product and business is a need, and you are now on your way to creating a solution that people are already looking for!

What is a business you want to start? Share your thoughts below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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7 Essential Email Marketing Tips You Need to Implement Into Your Business Today

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While Email might seem like a fading beauty, this technological dinosaur continues to be the preferred method of communication for the digital age. The rise of smartphones and mobile devices has only added to emails popularity by putting constant communication right in the palm of our hands.

In fact, According to Custora, Email marketing was the biggest driver of Black Friday transactions last fall, with 25.1% of sales originating from email promotions.

With that in mind, here are some tips that are guaranteed to take your Email Marketing to a whole new level:

1. One Element, One Job

Most people try and do way too much with their emails, and you may be guilty of this as well. Follow the simple rule of making each element of your email do just one job, and your emails will become much more effective. The subject line of your email, for example, exists for one reason only: To get your email opened. Your subject line doesn’t need to explain what’s in the email. It doesn’t need to sell, or get clicks. It JUST needs to get your email opened.

That’s it’s job. The body copy of your email exists just for the purposes of getting clicks. That’s it. Each element has its proper place, and if you just make sure they do their job, you’ll see great results.

2. Keep It Short And Sweet

People are busy, and their attention span is limited…So always remember that you’re writing an email, not Homer’s Odyssey. Remember, the body of your email has one job: To get the reader to click. So say what you have to say, keep it short and sweet, and get them to click away from the inbox, and moving along the path towards where you want them.

“Good content is a commodity, great content is a scarcity.”

3. Train Your Subscribers To Click

Every email you write – Every single one – Should have a link in it that your readers can click on, and a call to action encouraging them to do so. If you’re selling something, obviously you would include a link, but if you are sharing content, or telling a story (which is fine, because people love stories) make sure to tell SOME of the story, then offer a link to read the conclusion on a web page or blog.

Link to videos, or other things the reader might find inspiring. Link to your help desk! Whatever it is, you want to train your readers to see your emails, open them, read them, and then CLICK.

4. Be Consistent

Consistency breeds familiarity, and familiarity breeds comfort and trust. And comfortable, trusting people buy stuff! Try opening and closing all your emails with the same introduction and the same sign off. Create a mailing calendar and try emailing the same days every week, or mailing at the same time everyday.

Much like bars offer a happy hour at the same time everyday, maybe you can send a “daily deal” email every afternoon or a weekly summary email. Whatever it is you decide to do, once you decide to do it, be CONSISTENT.

5. Personalize, {name}

Personalization fields are extremely powerful. Multiple studies have shown that the single most powerful word in any language is someone’s OWN name. And so of course, personalization fields that allow you to address your reader by name are incredibly effective. Campaign Monitor has reported that Marketers who use personalization in their subject lines see 26% more opens.

You can also use personalization fields to mention what time it is (no matter where someone is) what city or country someone is in. Even what they’ve bought in previous transactions!

“Email Acquisition is like cutting hair, must happen regularly, can be done well, but one bad experience can scar forever.” – David Baker

6. Segment Your Lists

Modern autoresponders are a miracle of analytical data and automation opportunities. You now have the ability to easily segment your lists, and you should. Separate your prospects from your buyers. Separate buyers by product or category, so you can follow up with smart emails that sell upgrades or related products! You can even separate people who opened and read previous emails from those who haven’t, so you can follow up with people who opened your emails, read them, and clicked, from those who didn’t.

7. Tell Stories

Storytelling is one of the oldest forms of communication known to man. Stories have been used throughout time to pass lore and culture down from generation to generation. And from a marketing standpoint, stories offer a glimpse into who you are, or what your business stands for and how it works.

This information might seem mundane to you, but an outsider will find it fascinating. And as a result, the ability to tell stories will dramatically improve your marketing. If you’re new to storytelling, start by finding friends or co-workers who are particularly fun or engaging. Pay attention to how they command a room through stories and anecdotes. Look for local storytelling events so you can attend, and listen in as master storytellers share their craft.

These 7 tips should drastically improve your email marketing. Start implementing them and be sure to share your results.

What other email marketing strategies would you add to this list? Leave your thoughts below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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5 Powerful Reasons Why You Should Commit to Lifelong Learning

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Education is commonly equated to an experience for children and young adults, but the reality is that lifelong learning can benefit you in many ways. The world is constantly changing, and this means that you must be open to absorbing and actively seeking new information to stay up-to-date. This, of course, expands far beyond education in your area of professional expertise. (more…)

Helen Eagleton, a freelance blogger from Boston, follows topics in the realm of education, technology, digital marketing, and business in general. When she’s not researching for her next article, she enjoys watching documentaries and exploring the nature. Reach her @eagleton_helen.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Pinki

    May 4, 2015 at 2:24 am

    Thanks for suggesting- Do everything at last minute.

  2. Chanelle

    Apr 28, 2015 at 6:26 am

    Love it! I agree with all except for #2. I hate doing things last minute because it causes me stress. Though I work well under pressure I like to prioritize my list and get things done as early and quickly as possible so I have time to revise if needed get consensus etc and strike it off my list. I do strongly agree with number 5. A lot can be accomplished by phone or email. Commuting to a meeting is sometimes pointless. Give me an agenda and if I have nothing to contribute or have no reason to be there, I will not go. I can do 10 times more things with my time than sitting in a meeting.

    • Edward

      Apr 30, 2015 at 8:06 am

      Chanelle,

      Glad you liked it! I agree number 2 can be scary and puts a lot of pressure on you. It was looking at it from an efficiency sense with the aim to stop you from procrastinating. Which is something I am very guilty of… Especially as game of throne has just come back on!

  3. Jiliane

    Apr 27, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    I love this! It makes me feel less guilty about the way I do things.

  4. Doensie

    Apr 27, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    The problem with the second tip is that people tend to underestimate the time needed for any work. So, as you said, set a time limit, but perhaps it’s better to set it 19 hours before the deadline.

  5. Abuzar Tariq

    Apr 26, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Very helpful post. Doing things at last minute is so true i experienced this in my daily routine.

  6. Bethany @ Online Therapy and Coaching

    Apr 25, 2015 at 11:41 pm

    Thank you for this! Great suggestions! I look forward to the day when I can stop going to meetings and focus on what truly matters. 🙂

    • Edward

      Apr 30, 2015 at 8:09 am

      Glad you liked them Bethany,

      I think we are all looking forward to that day! But hopefully as companies are becoming more savvy with the use of collaborative softwares such as basecamp or Asana soon we can all work from the comforts of our own home!

      Hope they help 🙂

Leave a Reply

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

Startups

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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3 Lessons I Learned From the Failure of My First Startup

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You’re exhausted. You’ve put countless of hours into an idea that you believed in so much. Literally almost blood, sweat and tears were sacrificed for this vision to be accomplished. You had hoped and expected for a lot of things, and was excited to have plans for the future.

A few months ago, I wrote an article here titled, “What I Learned After Opening My First Business at 21.” My restaurant was doing well that time, and writing that article made me feel on top of the world. I thought that it was going to be that way for a long time, yet not so long after that, sales started to become stagnant and then declined.

As I write this today, my restaurant has already stopped operations. It stopped a few days ago, but a couple months back, I knew it was bound to happen. We couldn’t keep up with the bills we needed to pay, and they kept accumulating day by day. With a heavy heart and chaotic mind, we knew we had to close it down.

I couldn’t believe this was happening barely one year after starting operations. But if you were to ask me that if I had the chance to start over, would I do it again? I would still say yes. Despite its failure, there were still very important (also expensive) lessons that I learned that I would never have acquired otherwise if I didn’t start the business.

Here are a few lessons I learned after failing my first startup:

1. Entrepreneurship requires resilience

You cannot ever be successful if you haven’t developed resilience. Whether you like it or not, something will turn out wrong in your business. Maybe sometimes not to the point that it needs to be shut down, but something that could make your decisions critical to your organization goals.

You could give yourself time to grieve, but it shouldn’t stop there. Life goes on. And you need to get back on your feet if you still want to make a difference. The biggest companies that are successful right now all experienced a massive amount of failure.

But they never stopped trying. Because with every failure comes a lesson. Anyone with common sense would learn from that failure, and start again with more knowledge on what to do and what not to do.

Whenever I thought about the accumulated debts of my restaurant, I would have this sinking feeling in my chest and stomach. I knew that I would have to liquidate the assets. So I continued to search for buyers of the assets.

Instead of grieving for a much longer period, I knew I’d have to pick myself back up again so I could pay the debt. It might be hard at first, but if you call yourself an entrepreneur, quitting is not an option. We fail, we learn, then get back up.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

2. Learn to listen

Being a first-time founder, I had a very idealistic attitude. I had no experience in the food industry and established the business with only the belief that my partners and I would make it. I was wrong.

Aside from not being able to make it with that business, I realized what the naysayers had been telling me all along. But you have to be careful here. There are naysayers who have no credibility to back up what they say and want to bring you down. But there are also ones who speak from experience and are genuinely concerned for you. You must learn to discern the right voices to listen to if you want to succeed.

Taking risks is good, but make sure those risks are calculated and not reckless. We took a risk that wasn’t entirely reckless, but not all aspects of them were calculated. We were unsure of some parts of the business, and just “winged” it. Look at what happened to winging it!

Know when you need to jump with both feet or just one, but also listen to the voices who tell you when to put your feet in the water. Trust me, you never know when you will value their input.

3. Your failures do not define you

I never thought this would take a toll on my self-esteem, even when I knew I had to get back up. On the outside I looked normal. Going to school, work, and social settings looking like nothing had happened. But inside I was a wreck and didn’t want to admit it.

I would feel guilty whenever people would praise me about how “successful” I was at such a young age but that wasn’t true. For a while I thought that I was the failure. My insecurities started haunting me again and my browser history was filled with questions on what to do.

That was when I discovered that successful people failed more often than they succeeded. Even the ones with smaller businesses had their fair share of failures before finding an idea that worked for them.

But their failures never got to their heart. They weren’t the failures. The business failed, not them. So they tried again until they got it right. Maybe this business didn’t work out for me, but that doesn’t mean I’ll never be successful. The sooner you believe your failures don’t define you, the more the weight will be lifted off your shoulders.

People fail every single day. The difference between the ones who succeed and those who don’t is persistence and the drive to continue even after failing. It’s much better to try and fail than never having to start and learn nothing.

“Success is not a good teacher, failure makes you humble.” – Shah Rukh Khan

Have you ever started a business that eventually failed? What did you learn from it? Please leave your experiences below!
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Want A Business Idea That’s Guaranteed To Make You Money? Here’s How You Should Start.

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Let’s first start off with the “why”. When you know why you’re doing something, it can create clarity in your tasks, and direct your efforts. So, grab a sheet of paper, or a notebook and let’s get started.

Answer this question: Why do I want to start a business? Here are some common answers.

  • to do something I love
  • to create financial freedom so I can, “fill in the blank” (travel, pay off debts, buy expensive things, etc.)
  • to have the freedom to set my hours, choose when I work and what I work on
  • to help others, using my skills
  • I hate my job

Once you know why you’re doing it, you’ll have a better idea of what your goals are.

“The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you discover why you were born.” – Mark Twain

Start With Your Skills

At the heart of every business, and profession is the solution to a problem. If you can identify a problem that a group of people are having and solve it for them, you have the makings of a successful business.

Start with your current skill set. Everyone has skills, passions and talents in one area or another. What we fail to sometimes see is the ability for those skills to solve a problem for others in a meaningful way.

You can also ask family and friends to help you identify your skills. They may point out strengths you never considered. Keep in mind you don’t need to have mastered that skill yet, you can continue to learn and develop it as you go along. Ray Higdon a successful business man says to “Invest, learn then teach”.

Invest in yourself and improving your skills, learn more about your niche, and creating solutions to their problems, then teach others what you’ve learned.

Once you’ve got that down, the next step is doing some research. What problems are people having that you could use your current skill set to help solve? This is where picking a niche comes in handy. A niche refers to a small specialized portion of the population.

Let’s say, you’re a stay at home parent, and one of your skills is cooking healthy family meals that your kids enjoy. Your niche will likely be stay at home parents. You can then narrow down your search by checking forums and website or magazines that target stay at home parents.

“If you do what you love, it is the best way to relax.” – Christian Louboutin

What To Look For in Your Research?

Look for pain points and problems, especially those that are recurring. You may find that cooking healthy meals is not necessarily where parents are struggling, maybe it’s with purchasing healthy foods or the cost (money and time) of healthy meals. You want to look at the questions people are asking, and take note of the language they use to describe their problems. Nutritious vs. healthy. Quick vs. easy.

Finally, take note of products that offer solutions to those problems. These offer ideas to you about ways in which you can present your solution; Youtube channels, specialized cookbooks, how-to guides, online courses, etc.

By the time you’ve followed all these steps, you would have established 3 things:

  1. A monetizable skill set — You know what your skills are and how you can use them
  2. Proof of a Need — People have a problem that you can solve, and now you know who they are.
  3. A Profitable Market — If people are buying said cookbooks, or paying for products, this shows you that they are willing to put their money where their mouth is.

This is the beginning of any business. Fast Food restaurants offer quick meals on the go, Walmart puts everything in one place so people don’t have to travel to different stores, books entertain or instruct, cars transport and save time. At the heart of every product and business is a need, and you are now on your way to creating a solution that people are already looking for!

What is a business you want to start? Share your thoughts below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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7 Essential Email Marketing Tips You Need to Implement Into Your Business Today

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While Email might seem like a fading beauty, this technological dinosaur continues to be the preferred method of communication for the digital age. The rise of smartphones and mobile devices has only added to emails popularity by putting constant communication right in the palm of our hands.

In fact, According to Custora, Email marketing was the biggest driver of Black Friday transactions last fall, with 25.1% of sales originating from email promotions.

With that in mind, here are some tips that are guaranteed to take your Email Marketing to a whole new level:

1. One Element, One Job

Most people try and do way too much with their emails, and you may be guilty of this as well. Follow the simple rule of making each element of your email do just one job, and your emails will become much more effective. The subject line of your email, for example, exists for one reason only: To get your email opened. Your subject line doesn’t need to explain what’s in the email. It doesn’t need to sell, or get clicks. It JUST needs to get your email opened.

That’s it’s job. The body copy of your email exists just for the purposes of getting clicks. That’s it. Each element has its proper place, and if you just make sure they do their job, you’ll see great results.

2. Keep It Short And Sweet

People are busy, and their attention span is limited…So always remember that you’re writing an email, not Homer’s Odyssey. Remember, the body of your email has one job: To get the reader to click. So say what you have to say, keep it short and sweet, and get them to click away from the inbox, and moving along the path towards where you want them.

“Good content is a commodity, great content is a scarcity.”

3. Train Your Subscribers To Click

Every email you write – Every single one – Should have a link in it that your readers can click on, and a call to action encouraging them to do so. If you’re selling something, obviously you would include a link, but if you are sharing content, or telling a story (which is fine, because people love stories) make sure to tell SOME of the story, then offer a link to read the conclusion on a web page or blog.

Link to videos, or other things the reader might find inspiring. Link to your help desk! Whatever it is, you want to train your readers to see your emails, open them, read them, and then CLICK.

4. Be Consistent

Consistency breeds familiarity, and familiarity breeds comfort and trust. And comfortable, trusting people buy stuff! Try opening and closing all your emails with the same introduction and the same sign off. Create a mailing calendar and try emailing the same days every week, or mailing at the same time everyday.

Much like bars offer a happy hour at the same time everyday, maybe you can send a “daily deal” email every afternoon or a weekly summary email. Whatever it is you decide to do, once you decide to do it, be CONSISTENT.

5. Personalize, {name}

Personalization fields are extremely powerful. Multiple studies have shown that the single most powerful word in any language is someone’s OWN name. And so of course, personalization fields that allow you to address your reader by name are incredibly effective. Campaign Monitor has reported that Marketers who use personalization in their subject lines see 26% more opens.

You can also use personalization fields to mention what time it is (no matter where someone is) what city or country someone is in. Even what they’ve bought in previous transactions!

“Email Acquisition is like cutting hair, must happen regularly, can be done well, but one bad experience can scar forever.” – David Baker

6. Segment Your Lists

Modern autoresponders are a miracle of analytical data and automation opportunities. You now have the ability to easily segment your lists, and you should. Separate your prospects from your buyers. Separate buyers by product or category, so you can follow up with smart emails that sell upgrades or related products! You can even separate people who opened and read previous emails from those who haven’t, so you can follow up with people who opened your emails, read them, and clicked, from those who didn’t.

7. Tell Stories

Storytelling is one of the oldest forms of communication known to man. Stories have been used throughout time to pass lore and culture down from generation to generation. And from a marketing standpoint, stories offer a glimpse into who you are, or what your business stands for and how it works.

This information might seem mundane to you, but an outsider will find it fascinating. And as a result, the ability to tell stories will dramatically improve your marketing. If you’re new to storytelling, start by finding friends or co-workers who are particularly fun or engaging. Pay attention to how they command a room through stories and anecdotes. Look for local storytelling events so you can attend, and listen in as master storytellers share their craft.

These 7 tips should drastically improve your email marketing. Start implementing them and be sure to share your results.

What other email marketing strategies would you add to this list? Leave your thoughts below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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