• Finding the Right First Partner Can Benefit You Over a Lifetime in Business

    There is no perfect playbook on how you should go about choosing a business partner. But there are some general guidelines that I find useful to consider.

    The best business decision I ever made was choosing my first business partner. Picking the right business partner straight out of the gate creates a relationship that will help you in business in perpetuity. When most people look for their first partner, they are thinking about who the perfect fit for their company would be at that time. But that’s shortsighted. The decision isn’t about a specific business. The decision is about who you are going to place into your life for one of the most important relationships you can have.

    I judge potential business partnerships by asking myself whether I could see this person in my life 20-plus years from now, and contemplate whether I can imagine us both still adding value to the other’s life.

    My first business partner defied normal convention. He was young, unproven and fresh out of college. Yet, I could see he was immensely talented and together we had that “X factor,” that undeniable synergy where we both brought out the best in each other. We ended up working through seven different companies together and he’s been my CFO, COO and CTO in three different types of ventures. Now he runs a private venture fund. Although we don’t work together anymore, we stay in close contact, co-invest in new ventures and turn to each other for advice when we need to tap the other’s areas of expertise.

    That’s why your first business partner is so important. If you are smart about it and have a little luck you’ll find someone that will positively impact your life and career many times over.

    There is no perfect playbook on how you should go about choosing a business partner. But there are some general guidelines that I find useful to consider.

    Make sure you know the person.

    This may seem like common sense, but lots of people enter into partnerships without really spending the time to know who they are getting into business with. The person may look good on paper and have extraordinary qualifications, but a partnership needs so much more than that. Remember, you’re not looking for a rockstar employee — you’re looking for someone that is going to be your other half. Many describe a business partnership as similar to marriage. While 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, that number jumps to nearly 80 percent for business partnerships.

    My partner and I worked together on a nonprofit that oversaw student conferences, which was a massive logistical and operational undertaking. We ended up setting up our own foundation to oversee the conferences and through our work together we were able to forge a bond before becoming partners.

    Don’t pick yourself.

    You should look for a business partner that complements you, not one that is a copy of you. If your strength is creativity, then you might look for someone who is more process-oriented. If you’re a master salesperson but business finance isn’t your strongpoint, maybe consider a partner who understands business accounting.

    People who are similar to you might feel like the more comfortable choice, but that’s not what you or the business needs to be successful. The wider variety of skills that you and your partner bring separately to the table, the easier it will be to propel the business forward.

    Look for vision and values.

    Since you and your partner will need to constantly set goals and make decisions to drive the business forward, it is extremely important that you are both trying to head in the same direction — that you share the same vision for the future. Every decision should be like two bricklayers laying brick by brick according to the blueprint, not going off and creating separate structures.

    You also want someone who holds the same values as you do because that’s necessary to build the type of trust needed for a successful partnership. You should look for someone you find to value honesty and truth, someone who follows sound business ethics and is just an overall good person in their personal life.

    Find someone fun.

    This may be one of the most important aspects. It’s that X factor I mentioned. You’re going to spend more time with this person than with your friends and family — even your spouse. Your relationship will be pressure-tested day in and out, and there needs to be that element of friendship and camaraderie you share with each other to make it through those challenging times and come out stronger.

    I couldn’t have asked for a better first business partner. Although I’ve provided a few recommendations, remember that for this type of decision it is really important to trust your gut and look for warning signs early on. Don’t settle for partnering with someone who you think will be good enough to do the job — look for someone who will be good enough to go through 10 different ventures over the next few decades with you.

     

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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  • ‘Hate Is a Cancer,’ Apple CEO Writes in Email to Employees

    ‘This is not about the left or the right, conservative or liberal,’ Tim Cook wrote in response to the protests and violence in Charlottesville.

    On the evening of Aug. 16, Apple CEO Tim Cook sent an email to all Apple employees addressing the protests and violence in Charlottesville, Va., as well as President Donald Trump’s response to the events.

    In the letter, he denounced the behavior and beliefs of the white supremacist groups who organized in Charlottesville, as well as President Trump’s characterization of their actions and ideals in remarks the president has given throughout the week.

    “I disagree with the president and others who believe that there is a moral equivalence between white supremacists and Nazis, and those who oppose them by standing up for human rights,” Cook wrote. “Equating the two runs counter to our ideals as Americans.”

    Prior to sending this internal memo, Cook expressed similar sentiments via Twitter in the immediate aftermath of the events.

    In addition to these public stances, Cook in February spoke out against the initial travel ban executive order President Trump signed to halt U.S. immigration from Muslim-majority nations. Apple joined 96 other firms in signing an amicus brief opposing the ban. The brief stated that the order “discriminate[d] on the basis of national origin and religion” and was “inflicting substantial harm on U.S. companies.”

    Cook’s letter to employees this week called on Apple employees to stand together as equals in the face of hate, and it announced that the corporation is committmed to donating more than $2 million to civil rights organizations.

    Read the full email below.

    Team,

    Like so many of you, equality is at the core of my beliefs and values. The events of the past several days have been deeply troubling for me, and I’ve heard from many people at Apple who are saddened, outraged or confused.

    What occurred in Charlottesville has no place in our country. Hate is a cancer, and left unchecked it destroys everything in its path. Its scars last generations. History has taught us this time and time again, both in the United States and countries around the world.

    We must not witness or permit such hate and bigotry in our country, and we must be unequivocal about it. This is not about the left or the right, conservative or liberal. It is about human decency and morality. I disagree with the president and others who believe that there is a moral equivalence between white supremacists and Nazis, and those who oppose them by standing up for human rights. Equating the two runs counter to our ideals as Americans.

    Regardless of your political views, we must all stand together on this one point — that we are all equal. As a company, through our actions, our products and our voice, we will always work to ensure that everyone is treated equally and with respect.

    I believe Apple has led by example, and we’re going to keep doing that. We have always welcomed people from every walk of life to our stores around the world and showed them that Apple is inclusive of everyone. We empower people to share their views and express themselves through our products.

    In the wake of the tragic and repulsive events in Charlottesville, we are stepping up to help organizations who work to rid our country of hate. Apple will be making contributions of $1 million each to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League. We will also match two-for-one our employees’ donations to these and several other human rights groups, between now and September 30.

    In the coming days, iTunes will offer users an easy way to join us in directly supporting the work of the SPLC.

    Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” So, we will continue to speak up. These have been dark days, but I remain as optimistic as ever that the future is bright. Apple can and will play an important role in bringing about positive change.

    Best,
    Tim

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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  • If You’re Trying to Raise Money, Doing Any of These 9 Things May Scare off Investors

    Avoid these mistakes and funding could be yours.

    Most new and existing businesses can benefit from outside funding. With such funding, they can grow faster, launch new initiatives, gain competitive advantage and make better long-term decisions as they can think beyond short-term issues like making payroll.

    Unfortunately, though, most entrepreneurs and business owners make several mistakes that prevent them from raising capital. These mistakes are detailed below. Avoid them and funding could be yours.

     Making unrealistic market size claims

    Sophisticated investors need to understand how big your relevant market size is and if it’s feasible for you to eventually become a dominant market player.

    The key here is “relevant” and not just “market.” For example, if you create a medical device to cure foot pain, while your “market” is the trillion-dollar healthcare market, that is way too broad a definition.

    Rather, your relevant market can be more narrowly defined as not just the medical devices market but the market for medical devices for foot pain. In narrowing your scope, you can better determine the actual size of your market. For instance, you can determine the number of foot pain sufferers each year seeking medical attention and then multiply that by the price they might pay for your device.

    Failing to respect your competitors

    Oftentimes companies tell investors they have no competitors. This often scares investors as they think if there are no competitors, a market doesn’t really exist.

    Almost every business has either direct or indirect competitors. Direct competitors offer the same product or service to the same customers. Indirect competitors offer a similar product to the same customers, or the same product to different customers.

    For example, if you planned to open an Italian restaurant in a town that previously did not have one, you could correctly say that you don’t have any direct competitors. However, indirect competitors would include every other restaurant in town, supermarkets and other venues to purchase food.

    Likewise, don’t downplay your competitors. Saying that your competitors are universally terrible is rarely true; there’s always something they’re doing right that’s keeping them in business.

    Showing unrealistic financial projections

    Businesses take time to grow. Even companies like Facebook and Google, with amazing amounts of funding at their disposal, took years to grow to their current sizes. It takes time to build a team, improve brand awareness and scale your business. So, don’t expect your company to grow revenues exponentially out of the gate. Likewise, you will incur many expenses while growing your business for which you must account.

    As such, when building your financial projections, be sure to use reasonable revenue and cost assumptions. If not, you will frighten investors, or worse yet, raise funding and then fail since you run out of cash.

    Presenting investors with a novel — or a napkin

    While investors will want to meet you before funding your business, they will also require a business plan that explains your business opportunity and why it will be successful.

    Your business plan should not be a novel; investors don’t have time to wade through 100 pages to learn the keys to your success. Conversely, you can’t adequately answer investors’ key questions on the back of a napkin.

    A 15- to 25-page business plan is the optimum length to convey the required information to investors.

    Not understanding your metrics

    How much does it cost to acquire a customer? What is your expected lifetime customer value?

    While sometimes it’s impossible to understand these metrics when you launch your business, you must determine them as soon as possible.

    Without these metrics, you won’t know how much money to raise. For instance, if you hope to gain 1,000 customers this year, but don’t know the cost to acquire a customer, you won’t know how much money you need for sales and marketing.

    Likewise, understanding your metrics allows you and your team to work more effectively in setting and achieving growth goals.

    Acting like know-it-alls

    While investors want you to be an expert in your market, they don’t expect you to be an expert in everything. More so, most businesses must adapt to changing market conditions over time, and entrepreneurs who feel they know everything generally don’t fare well.

    A good investor has seen many investments fail and others become great successes. Such experiences have made them great advisors. They’ve encountered all types of situations and understand how to navigate them.

    If you’re seeking funding, acknowledge such investors’ experiences. Let them know that while you are an expert in your market, you will seek their ideas and advice in marketing, sales, hiring, product development and/or other areas needed to grow your business.

    Focusing too much on products and product features

    When raising funding, you need to show you’re building a great company and not just a great product or service. While a great product or service is often the cornerstone to a great company, without skills like sales, marketing, human resources, operations and financial management, you cannot thrive.

    Furthermore, if your product has a great feature, be sure to specify how you will create barriers to entry, such as via patent protection, so competitors can’t simply copy it.

    Exaggerating too much

    When you exaggerate to investors who know you’re exaggerating, you lose credibility.

    One key way to exaggerate is with your financial projections as discussed above. There are many other ways to exaggerate. For instance, saying you have the world’s leading authorities on the XYZ market is great, but only if they really are the world’s leading authorities.

    Likewise if you say it would take competitors three years to catch up on your technology, when investors ask others in your industry, they better confirm this time period. If not, your credibility and funding will be lost.

    Lacking focus

    What do investors care about? They care about getting a return on their investment. As such, anything you say that supports that will be welcomed.

    For instance, talk about your great product that has natural barriers to entry. Discuss your management team that is well-qualified to execute on the opportunity. Talk about strategic partners that will help you generate leads and sales faster.

    But, don’t go off on tangents that don’t specifically relate to how you earn investors returns, like the fact that you’re a great tennis player.

    Likewise, conveying too many ideas shows you lack focus. For instance, saying you’re going to launch product one next year, and then quickly launch products two, three and four, will frighten investors. Why? Because they’ll want to see product one be a massive success before you even consider launching something new.

    Investors have two scarce resources: their time and their money. Avoid the above mistakes when you spend time with investors, and hopefully they’ll reward you with their money.

     

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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  • Has Your Business Stopped Growing? Here’s How to Turn Things Around.

    There are four big reasons businesses stall out. It happened to me.

    Has your business ever stalled out and simply stopped growing?

    It happened to me. Early on in my career as an entrepreneur, I couldn’t figure out why everything stalled. But lucky for me, I didn’t quit there. I kept working, changed my business, and now — having worked with thousands of business owners — I have discovered that the primary reasons a business stops growing tend to land into a handful of categories.

    1. Lack of opportunity

    Some businesses just aren’t made to scale up. When I first started in the dry-cleaning delivery niche, I didn’t understand this simple fact: Business in my little area was never going to be a million-dollar business, let alone a multimillion-dollar business, no matter how hard I worked. Make sure you aren’t trying to win the Super Bowl with a peewee football team.

    On a side note, when I make this argument, sometimes people argue the point. For example, they may tell me I could have expanded into other areas or franchised. Of course, I’m not saying there aren’t ways to scale a business, but some businesses are simply easier and less risky to scale than others. If you are in an industry that is challenging to scale, one where your risk of failure is super high, it may be a good idea to start looking into other opportunities.

    2. Boredom

    It’s amazing how many of us get bored. We get bored with our marketing, with our product, with our niche. Our boredom causes us to cancel marketing, taking our eye off the main business to focus on some new exciting startup we want to work on.

    Want to sell and jump into a new exciting niche where every prospect only says yes and sales come easily? I get it. I’m not immune to those feelings. But, making changes because we are bored is insanity! If you have an ATM machine that spits out hundred-dollar bills, why would you try to rewire it? This is what people do with their marketing or when they take focus off the main cash cow business. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say they are stopping what’s working because they want to try something new. It’s just crazy.

    3. People

    If you read the crap that comes from some marketers, you’d think that everyone was making money easily, using only the internet with no problems, no skills and no employees. While I do know people I could describe that way who are making money, this is the exception and not the rule. It would be like me pointing to a group of billionaires and selling thousands of products with the premise being: “Just buy this product and you too can be a billionaire.”

    In almost all businesses it takes employees (or at least outsourced labor) to grow. If you’ve stalled, it may be because you need to invest in another employee or two to kick-start the growth. I get it, when you invest in employees, payroll is bloated, short-term profits go down, and it is risky. But guess what? You’re a business owner — that’s the job. And 99.99 percent of businesses need employees to make money.

    4. Too externally focused

    As I write this, I’m in the middle of planning next year’s marketing strategy. I will have a number of new and exciting items on the list (external stuff), but one of the most interesting numbers I’m working on is a plan for our sales call conversion rate. With no increases in the number of calls next year, a 5 percent increase in conversion would equal an additional $1.152 milion in annual revenue. That is an internal number worth focusing on.

    I’ll also be looking at how to reduce customer churn, improve employee performance and increase referrals. Just focusing on internalopportunities, we have the potential to add millions in new revenue and/or cost reductions due to improved performance, which leads to increased margins. If you’re not thinking about ways to work on these internal opportunities, you’re leaving tons of new revenue and profit on the table.

    Growing a business isn’t easy, but it is pretty simple, assuming you have opportunity in the current business model. You just have to be willing to invest. Invest in yourself (your business education), and invest in your company by hiring the right people, focusing on improving your systems and process.

    We’ve talked about why businesses stop growing, and the first two points looked at those reasons, but the last two points could easily be turned around and used as the start of a growth strategy.

    • Who should you hire right now?
    • What internal challenges could you fix that would have an increase on profits?
    • Can you do a better job converting prospects into customers?
    • How are you doing on upsells?
    • What about referrals?
    • Do your customers know who you are, what you do, and that you’re still in business? If not, how are you going to change that?
    • What is the communication strategy for both prospects and customers?

    I could go on, but you get the point.

    The decision to grow (or not grow) is yours; you’re armed with the information. Now you just need to take action.

     

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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  • Success Requires Knowing What You Won’t Compromise

    Flexibility and tolerance are important but know what you won’t bend on is crucial.

    People always ask we: “What are the keys to success in life and business?”

    I could talk for hours on the subject — particularly about what’s worked for me. But, truth is, all successful people answer a bit differently. That’s why, when I meet people like Elizabeth Weil, a dedicated distance runner and one of the most successful women in the venture capital field, I ask them the same question. I want to learn from them.

    Exercise

    As a child, Weil watched her mother take up running and swimming as therapy for a divorce. She’d wake up before dawn to get in a good swim or run — every day, no matter what. Morning exercise was non-negotiable. “She was out the door every morning around 4, because she knew that time of day was not going to be compromised by work or family or anything else,” Weil says today. “She could always get her workout in.”

    Today, Weil treats her run with the same reverence—even with three kids (including infant twins) and an incredibly demanding career. “For me,” she says, “running is a non-negotiable. Every job, every vacation, every business trip, I have my running shoes and I make time for it. Usually I get up very early, like my mother, and I just get it done. I feed one baby, I feed the other baby, and then I get out the door.”

    This doesn’t mean that life doesn’t occasionally happen in unexpected ways. “Things do come up, but I still get my running in.”

    It probably helps that Weil surrounds herself with like-minded people. “My husband is also an ultra-runner,” she says. “We joke that if going out to brunch was a non-negotiable, our relationship probably wouldn’t work.”

    The “how-to” of Weil’s success.

    When I asked Weil to boil her success down to a few takeaways, she answers immediately, which tells me that I’m talking to a person with a clear and well-defined plan for success. With Weil, these four elements underlie everything else:

    1. Create time for non-negotiables. “Along with my daily run,” she says, “another non-negotiable is spending time with my family, which is a lot harder now that I have three kids instead of just one.”
    2. Work with people you like. “Great people empower you and make you a better person,” she says.
    3. Live and work in a great location. “Life is too short to be in a place where you can’t do the things you like to do,” she says.
    4. Have a personal advisory board. “Fill it with people from all aspects of your life—an old college professor, an old colleague, your best friend, just people who know you really well,” she says. “You can check in with them and use them as part of your gut check as you go through life.”

    Work with great people.

    Working with great people, in a great location, and carving out time for non-negotiables are also parts of my long-standing recipe for success. However, Weil’s fourth element—having a personal advisory board—is a new one for me, and I’m going to put that into practice.

    Be a “people” person.

    Weil also talks about the fact that success in business is about more than just working your butt off. Admittedly, you need to work really, really hard in the job you’ve got if you want people to respect you and give you better opportunities. But you also need to be a people person.

    “I learned this the hard way because I didn’t make time for people when I was at Twitter,” she says. “I was so busy with my job there that I didn’t make connections for my next job. I tell people now, ‘When you pop up for your next job, you’ll wish you had gotten to know more people.’

    You won’t get a job just by uploading your résumé.

    You almost never get a job by uploading your résumé to a blind website. Jobs come from people you know, word of mouth, so you need to be good at your job and to also foster relationships.”

    The simple truth is that very few women are high-level decision makers at venture capital firms. Weil is one of only a handful. But it doesn’t surprise me at all that she has made it to the top when so many others haven’t, because she learned how to be successful early on from her mom.

    A life, business, and parenting tool.

    Another thing I take away from my conversation with Weil: Our kids watch us and they learn from what we do. We owe them the extra effort. My kids watch me with my non-negotiables, which for me are health and wellness and with the effort I put into my business and family.

    My kids learn what it takes to succeed without me sitting them down and lecturing them. I live the lesson, and that is a pretty awesome parenting tool.

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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  • The Many Ways You’re Marketing Even When You Don’t Even Know You Are

    The less your marketing resembles advertising the closer the connection you’ll make with your customers.

    Businesses work hard to create effective marketing campaigns, coming up with strategies carefully crafted to promote their brands both online and off.

    But whether you realize it or not, you can promote brand awareness even when you’re unaware of it. A company’s image starts with its leadership and spreads to its employees and the work they do.

    Here are some effective ways you build and grow brand awareness in ways you may not have considered.

    Merchandise

    If you’ve ever participated in a trade show or conference, you may have designed swag to distribute. Every T-shirt, tote bag, notepad, or pen you hand out goes toward building brand awareness. An old marketing rule states that a customer needs to see a message seven times before making a purchase decision. You don’t have to hand merchandise out to customers, though. You and your team members can wear and use products with your company logo whether you’re at a networking event, conference, or client meeting. Just some of the things that will help expose people to your brand include:

    Water Bottles: This is a product that is used constantly, and is an effective way to remind fans of your products. Brand a long lasting water bottle and you’ll be sure that it will be a good investment.

    T-shirts: Clothe your brand champions and they will promote you. Make t-shirts that people will love to wear and you’ll have walking billboards everywhere.

    Mugs: There’s nothing like fans looking at your logo every morning with their cup of Joe, and welcoming every day with your company.

    Live experiences.

    In person experiences are a fantastic way to engage with consumers – giving memorable time for new customers to learn about and interact with your brand. Companies like AnyRoad offer a powerful Experience Relationship Management platform that can help your brand leverage these live in-person branded experiences and gather data during the process.

    Tours: Tours and in-person experiences have become essential to winning over the hearts and affection of customers. Show them where your products are made, the birthplace of the company, or even the offices where all the magic happens. You’ll be sure to spawn word-of-mouth marketing and social shares, and fans will go home with a memorable story.

    Classes: Many businesses are always looking to learn as they grow. Teaching or sponsoring a class can also offer a beneficial marketing opportunity for business leaders. Whether you teach a class at your office, at a local university or learning annex, or through another source, you’ll be able to get the word out about the business you own as a part of the experience.

    Tastings and Samplings: For businesses that create and distribute consumables, taste testings and product samplings are the best way to win customers. Increasingly, food brands choose to set up a sample stand at local grocery stores or trade shows. Many customers get excited about free food and you can reach a large audience in one place.

    Companies like C.A. Courtesy specialize in setting up in-store samplings for brands of all sizes, putting their expertise to work in helping brands grow. If your brand has a kitchen, factory, or brand home, consider doing a tasting on-site to provide a much more immersive experience. All whiskey companies in the Kentucky Bourbon Trail offer tastings (with their tours) – letting fans sip their way through learning about bourbon.

    Workshops: Instead of committing to teach a regular class, your business can reap some of the same benefits by simply teaching a one-time workshop. Often these happen through industry-specific membership organizations or local networking opportunities. Even before you step up to the podium to kick off your presentation, you’re getting invaluable exposure for your business, since it will feature prominently in any marketing materials promoting the event.

    Events: Events provide solid networking opportunities, giving you the opportunity to interact directly with the very customers you’re trying to win over. Even if they don’t see personal value in the products or services you offer, chances are they’ll tell a friend or associate about it. In addition to local events and industry trade shows, consider hosting an event of your own. During the holiday season, you could have an open house to show appreciation to all your loyal customers. You could also host a day-long learning opportunity, inviting others in your industry to attend and learn more about the work you do.

    Networking: You may not put networking under the marketing category, but every interaction builds your brand. When you meet someone at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon and hand your business card across the table, you add yet one more person to those who know about your business. Over time, those connections lead you to other connections that help you move to the next level. Be aware of the many ways you represent your brand when you’re interacting with others, both personally and professionally, since even the clothing you wear and the things you say send a message about your business.

    As you interact with others and talk about your business, realize the many opportunities you have to get the word out. You’ll eventually discover new opportunities to meet customers and colleagues who can recommend your products or services to others. In the process, you’ll save time and money on marketing efforts, and be at the helm new pow.

     

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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  • 5 Things You Should Do to Stay Happy, Passionate and Productive While You Work

    Don’t fear Mondays — embrace them and improve them with these simple tips.

    Even with our diverse entrepreneurial responsibilities and our somewhat exciting livelihoods, it could be easy for my brother Matthew and I to get caught up in bland working routines. But, we’re able to guard against this pitfall of entrepreneurship with some useful techniques we’ve learned over the years.

    Here are our five tips to start every day motivated, productive and passionate.

    1. Set goals to get yourself pumped.

    It’s hard to kick butt when you don’t know what you want to do. At the beginning of the day, make a short list of goals to fulfill by the evening. They should be achievable and highly productive relative to your long-term goals. Everyone loves the feeling of crossing something off their list, and a physical recording of your objectives that you can check off will keep you motivated and on track throughout the day.

    2. Kick off your morning with something you enjoy.

    Matthew and I make it a point to always start (and end) our days on a positive note. What gets you going even on sleepy or extra busy days? Is it a jog during sunrise? A hot cup of coffee or tea? Listening to your favorite business podcast over breakfast? No matter what it is, make sure you carve out enough time in your morning routine to fit it into your day.

    3. Stay on a roll.

    Don’t let yourself get lazy. The “snooze” button on your alarm may be tempting, but lying around in bed — whether you’re asleep or browsing social media for ten minutes — will sap your motivation and prevent you from getting that energetic head start on your day. Don’t let the internet suck you in, no matter how many times you tell yourself it’s the last news story you’ll read or the last YouTube video you’ll watch. Stay on a roll and keep crossing things off that list of goals you created earlier.

    4. Check in with someone.

    Teaming up with someone not only helps hold you accountable, but it makes the work day eons more exciting and rewarding. Join forces with someone from your entrepreneurial community, a friend or a family member to update on your progress and bounce your energy off. My brother and I interact several times a day, so even though we live far apart, we’re never in business alone.

    The right person will help you push through when times get tough and celebrate your wins by your side. Make sure you do the same for them, too.

    5. Stay organized.

    Though your workspace should probably stay relatively clean and tidy, that’s not the only thing you need to keep organized to achieve what I call the “passion warrior” mindset. Lay out an agenda (in a paper planner or an organization app) so you aren’t scrambling to remember important dates and deadlines right before they sneak up on you.

    Keep your business plans and documented progress in a neat and easily accessible spot. Work on one or two tasks at a time instead of taking on everything at once. An organized mindset is a productive and passionate one.

     

    Source: entrepreneur.com

    Call, text, email, or stop by our Los Angeles HQ today!
    Helvetia Holdings Group, LLC
    Wells Fargo (HQ) Building
    11601 Wilshire Blvd. 5th Floor
    Los Angeles, CA, 90025
    United States of America

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  • 5 Powerful Ways to Become Your Best Self

    The biggest obstacles facing every entrepreneur are within.

    You know you are capable of great things. You know that under the right circumstances you could go far. You believe in yourself and what you can accomplish. You may have a picture of yourself in your mind’s eye: a vision of making your dreams a reality, of achieving the success you know could be yours.

    Now all you need to do is become that version of yourself. You need to become your best you. How do you begin transforming into the person you believe you should be?

    It’s time to stretch yourself; to grow and allow yourself to develop. Think of this as a journey of self-discovery. Here are five powerful tips to get you on the road to becoming the person you were meant to be.

    1. Try new things.

    You can’t let yourself become complacent. Fear of change is your enemy. Kick things up a notch by regularly trying something new and unexpected. Is there something you have always wanted to try, but never made time for? It could be something adventurous, like scuba diving or skydiving.

    Or maybe you’ve always wanted to tap into your artistic side and learn to paint with watercolors or take a photography class. Whatever it is, it’s important that you make time to explore a new activity, skill or craft.

    Surprise yourself by pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. Doing so will give your ingenuity and innovative side a boost. Plus, you will have discovered something new about yourself — perhaps a hidden talent or an ability to learn something you didn’t think you were capable of.

    Along with trying new things, remember to give yourself time to have fun, relax and unplug from daily stress. Downtime gives your brain a chance to recharge and stay open to new experiences. Filling up all your time with work, tasks and obligations is a ticket to mental and physical fatigue. Push yourself away from your desk and remember to embrace life!

    2. Pursue your dreams.

    What is your ultimate dream; the thing you want more than anything? What is your true calling in life? These are some of the important questions to ask yourself in order to unlock who you are meant to be. Pursuing your dreams will give you determination to see your goals through, and will spark your creativity and inspiration. Plus, you will be doing something that makes you happy and holds your interest.

    For many, the hardest part is identifying the goals you want to pursue. You may need to explore different opportunities to see what sticks and what doesn’t. You may want to focus on a problem that you want to solve or an issue you’re enthusiastic about. Remember, your goals and ambitions can change and morph over time — and that’s okay!

    The only rule you should heed is that your dreams must come from within yourself — they shouldn’t be a reflection of what others want for you or what you think you should be doing. If you’re pursuing something solely for the sake of a good income, or to live up to someone else’s expectations, you will fall short.

    3. Sustain your motivation.

    We all have days when we wake up just not feeling it. Those days when our brains won’t get going — we’d rather do anything besides working. But despite being low on energy or inspiration, you have to find a way to keep moving forward. Remember, progress is incremental. You have to find ways to keep that fire in your belly; to keep nurturing that deep desire to achieve.

    Keep your motivation alight by taking time every day to reignite that internal flame. Read blogs and books or listen to TED talks or podcasts on topics that enthrall you. Write down your goals and post them where you will see them every day, so you are constantly reminded of your purpose.

    Keep a notebook and jot down ideas when something inspires you. When you are feeling blasé or need a boost, take some time to revisit your old ideas. They may inspire you once more and help you regain your momentum.

    4. Hone good habits.

    People are naturally creatures of habit. These can be good habits that we have worked hard to instill, or bad habits that suck away our determination and leave us short of our goals. Building solid, reliable habits will keep you taking baby steps in the right direction and sustain you through lackluster periods. Good habits are important to creating your best self because they keep you moving forward when you’d rather be slacking off.

    Developing a habit takes time and repetition, and should be done slowly. Trying to change too many things at once will feel overwhelming and daunting. The goal is to make incremental changes to your lifestyle that eventually become a way of life. Remember that even small habits can have a powerful cumulative effect.

    For instance, if you have a goal of writing a book, develop a habit of sitting down and writing every day, even if it’s just for 30 minutes. Similarly, if you want to get into better shape, start exercising for 20 minutes a day and work your way up.

    5. Focus on self-care.

    If you want to operate at peak performance, you must incorporate self-care into your daily routine. Are you eating nutritious meals and getting plenty of sleep? It’s going to be hard to feel your best if you are run ragged and are stuffing your belly with junk food. Are you making time to exercise and stretch?

    When we work up a sweat, it releases the endorphins that build up with stress. In many ways, your body is like a machine. It needs to be tuned and tended to, or something is going to give. If you don’t care for your body, you may start to feel burned out and you may be more apt to get sick or feel overwhelmed.

    Don’t forget that your mental well-being also needs to be nurtured. Take time to meditate and focus on the things you are grateful for. Taking time to replenish your mind and spirit is paramount to sustaining mental health and giving you a sense of well-being. And that is key to becoming and maintaining your best self, now and over the long haul.

     

    Source: entrepreneur.com

    Call, text, email, or stop by our Los Angeles HQ today!
    Helvetia Holdings Group, LLC
    Wells Fargo (HQ) Building
    11601 Wilshire Blvd. 5th Floor
    Los Angeles, CA, 90025
    United States of America

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    info@www.p2pdevelopers.com
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  • The Mistake Every Entrepreneur Makes When Creating Their Product or Service

    Innovation starts with a problem, not a solution.

    Entrepreneurs love to gush about how they identified a problem, created a solution and then disrupted a market.

    In my experience, innovation doesn’t necessarily work like that. Often, creating the solution uncovers the problem. In industries with a long, that’s-the-way-it’s-been-done attitude, this realization can make the difference between innovation flops and multimillion dollar successes.

    People usually recognize a problem retroactively, when an invention makes legacy technology seem insufficient. Horses were fine until Henry Ford made the Model T. Few people realized that CDs and the Walkman were clumsy solutions until iPods. Taxis were good enough until Uber.

    The more that people take something for granted, they less they can verbalize its problems. No one told the guys at YETI, “Hey, could you engineer a $350, bear-proof cooler that keeps ice solid for seven days?” Until YETI made their cooler, no one realized how bad other coolers were.

    Asking people to describe their problems with a product or market rarely works. Instead, you must build narratives of what people currently do. By analyzing those narratives, you can discover patterns of behavior, preference and mindset that signal unmet needs, which are the kernels of great problems.

    Let’s walk through the process.

    1. Observe your customers in a natural setting.

    It’s tempting to believe we can discover everything about customers from our computer screen. Data, we’re told, reveals all. Unfortunately, charts and graphs can’t pick up the information you absorb visually. When you watch people use your product — or a competitor’s product — in their normal environment, you notice meaningful patterns. At Trager Grills, we call this “in-habitat observation.”

    Observations reveal the workarounds people develop to make a deficient product perform better. Last year, when my colleagues visited our customers’ homes to watch them grill, they noticed that many Traeger users had built makeshift extenders to their hopper, the container that holds wood pellets (fuel for their grill). They built those to avoid running out of pellets during eight- to ten-hour smoke sessions. Had we only observed people using our grills at Traeger headquarters, we never would have identified that problem.

    Rather than creating an artificial environment for observations, do it in your customer’s natural habitat. Go to people’s homes, offices and neighborhoods, or wherever they use your product.

    2. Humanize your surveys.

    Thanks to the world’s data obsession, we tend to use survey questions that produce quantifiable answers. The results are clean but misleading. We don’t ask these sorts of questions in real life.

    For instance, how often do you ask your closest friends to rate something on a one to 10 scale? How often do you ask anyone to answer on a scale from “Most Likely” to “Least Likely,” “Very Good” to “Very Poor” or “Most Important” to “Least Important?” Those are unnatural ways to think about the world.

    Instead, ask open-ended questions. One of my favorites is, “When people ask you about your [insert product], what do you brag about?” That’s a powerful question, because the aspects that attract appreciation and disappointment tend to be related. If you love the way your car drives, anything that diminishes the driving experience will be that much more noticeable to you.

    3. Ask people to prioritize.

    It’s hard to rate a single feature or idea independent of alternatives. But, if you ask people to rank a list of features — and do this with multiple consumer segments — you see what customers value.

    Let’s use your smartphone to illustrate how this works. It’s hard to assign a value to screen size independent of other factors. But, how would you rank screen size, camera quality, voice control, speaker quality and data storage in order of importance? The question forces you to consider what you use most often, how it affects your experience with the smartphone and what needs improvement.

    Ranking features bears a strong resemblance to how we differentiate between products. For example, when buying a mountain bike (common here in Utah), you might test and compare three to five bikes. The thicker tires on the Santa Cruz bike are nice. The dropper seat post on this Trek would be useful. The Specialized is more expensive, but comes with lighter components.

    What matters most to me? Alternatives sharpen our ability to distinguish priorities. The more we understand our customers’ priorities, the better we can craft solutions.

    So, conduct in-habitat observations, ask open-ended questions and get some quantifiable data by asking survey respondents to rank options. Your future customers still don’t have a problem, and they won’t until you build their feedback into a new product that provides a solution to all the deficiencies they experience now.

    Some companies mistake refinement for innovation. Others look for a grand problem and never find it. But, if you lead customers to the solution, then they’ll realize they have a problem.

     

    Source: entrepreneur.com

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  • This Doctor Who Lived to 105 Believed That for a Long Life, You Shouldn’t Retire

    Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara believed that work was key for longevity.

    To live a long life, work forever. At least, that’s what one of Japan’s leading doctors believed — and he was his own proof.

    Before his death on July 18, 105-year-old Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara was a practicing physician, a chairman of St. Luke’s International University and the honorary president of St. Luke’s International Hospital. Up until a few months before his death, Hinohara was active in the medical community — treating patients, taking new appointments and working up to 18 hours a day.

    Often credited as a major contributor to the foundations of Japanese medicine and in positioning Japan as a world leader in life expectancy, Hinohara held a number of beliefs for healthy living and longevity. And one of his main ones was: “Don’t retire. And if you must, retire much later than age 65,” he told the Japan Times.

    Maybe we should listen to the wise words of Hinohara, who believed that because the average life expectancy of Japanese people reached 84 years as of 2015, then the retirement age should be pushed back too, because work is what helps keep people going. At least that was the case for Hinohara, whose career, in a way, kept him living.

    Janit Kawaguchi, a Japan Times journalist who considered Hinohara a mentor, said, “He believed that life is all about contribution, so he had this incredible drive to help people, to wake up early in the morning and do something wonderful for other people. This is what was driving him and what kept him living.”

    On top of working for as long as possible, Hinohara also preached other guidelines for a long life, including having fun, always taking the stairs, asking your doctor questions and unsurprisingly, not being overweight.

     

    Source: entrepreneur.com

    Call, text, email, or stop by our Los Angeles HQ today!
    Helvetia Holdings Group, LLC
    Wells Fargo (HQ) Building
    11601 Wilshire Blvd. 5th Floor
    Los Angeles, CA, 90025
    United States of America

    Phone: +1.310.800.2197
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