Tag Archives: entrepreneurship

The Truth About “Opportunity Costs” and Entrepreneurship

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“Opportunity costs” seem to be synonymous with entrepreneurship.

And living your purpose.

I, myself, used to think of it even worse…I called them, “The Lesser-Known Debts of Entrepreneurship
Why is that?

Why do we always think there has to be a loss in order to gain?

Call me an optimist, but I think it’s more than just being optimistic (more on that later). Perhaps it’s this “costs” perspective alone that leads to the high failure rate of entrepreneurs. Or even why we have so much fear to begin with. We’ve all been there before…

  • The fear of not being good enough
  • The fear of missing out
  • The fear of what others think
  • The fear of the unknown
  • The fear of change

We could talk fear, and struggle, and pain and problems for what seems like forever. At least, that’s what we see portrayed in the media. I can pretty much guarantee you’ve experienced it on social media more often than not.

Why is the opposite so rare?

The Truth About “Opportunity Costs”

If happiness is a choice then why can’t we look at this situation the same way. Instead of thinking about the “opportunity costs” associated with building your dream life, why not consider the “profits of possibility”?

What if you could decide?

Just like happiness, it’s a choice. Right?

Well…you CAN!  Let’s look at this a little further.

As I write this blog (fending off writer’s block) the NFL season is kicking off (I LOVE football!).
It would be easy to think as though missing game day (while I write) is an opportunity cost.

And it’s not just the game others would tell me I’m missing.  I could say another cost is missing the relaxing down time on my couch. I’ve heard many colleagues say they miss time with friends and enjoying their favorite beverage at their local sports bars.  That could be another cost of me writing.

According to them…On a Sunday, the day of rest, never the less.  I’m “grinding” through work.

I don’t think it’s a grind at all (at least not 95% of the time). Actually, it’s designed that way on purpose.

I made the decision.

You can TOO.

The Profits of Possibility

Now what are the profits of thinking about what’s possible?

Here’s a few:

  • There are so many benefits of writing alone. Just in a few years as a professional writer I’ve experienced improved personal clarity, professional credibility and have even received a significant financial return for it (both directly and indirectly).
  • Looking at the profits and possibilities instead of the costs could continue to shift my own outlook on life leading to less stress, more happiness and even fulfillment.
  • The possibility that this one piece of written work could change someone’s life, improve a business or transform someone’s mindset.
  • That business or individual could go on to buy my programs or services in which helps to take care of my family, invest in my business and cultivate the retirement portfolio I need to enjoy a retirement of family time, travel adventure and more.
  • That individual or business I just mentioned could go on to solve a major world problem, changing the trajectory of life for millions of people.

Just writing these and reading through them again, there’s an energy that comes with living out your ambition and having the right motivation. Instead of the emotional drain of costs, profits and possibilities ignite that fire inside. It rekindles the natural desire to BE more, DO more and GIVE more.

Your deep personal and professional convictions come alive.

And it all comes with viewing things as possibilities rather than problem; profits rather than costs.

The Truth About Entrepreneurship

There is no wrong path if you know where you’re going. There are only different ones.

Sure there are fundamental principles and best practices. But, how you apply them and when and what you emphasize in your business can vary in any number of ways.

I’ve seen clients and colleagues make it happen all in different amounts of time, with different skill sets and a variety of processes. I’ve experienced it myself.

Your journey right now may seem long with some fun peppered in.  Another individuals may be exciting, but grueling.

The variables of success are many.

It’s not just about optimism. I wish it were that simple, but it’s deeper than that.

It’s a belief in self, faith in other people and a tenacious commitment to something previously unseen.

It’s more than pursuing your passion or chasing your dreams.

And it’s all in cultivating possibility.

Entrepreneurship is a deep conviction that something extraordinary will happen.  Being an Entrepreneur is about creating what could be rather than thinking about what the costs will be.

Costs are not fun.  Live on the other hand should be.

Life is about believing in what is possible.  And Entrepreneurship should be a fun and purposeful path to get there.

If you BELIEVE in profits and possibilities more than costs, I’d be very grateful if you’d help it cultivate this belief in the minds of others by emailing this to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.

Thank you!

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4 Startup Struggles You Should Be Thankful For

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There is value in each slip, fall and fumble as a startup entrepreneur. The startup period of every business is known for slapping you in your face, punching you in your stomach and outright beating you down. Most entrepreneurs end up quitting, giving up on their dream, because they dwell too long on these bumps and bruises. You can be different.

A successful startup business comes with an owner who has found “diamonds” in the ruins of their painful past. Despite the scrapes and scars there is much to be learned and even more important, to be thankful for.

1. Blind Leaps

As a startup there is no crystal clear path to success and that can be scary. Many steps will be based on an educated guess and leaps of faith. Many of these won’t always end the way you’d like. Despite fear, indecision and doubt there can be many benefits for “walking in the fog”. You may not be able to see far down the road (another scary thought), but you’ll never know where that next step leads until you first take one.

Because you’re willing to keep moving forward you may find out that the fog lifts just on the other side. Perhaps every step is blurry, but realize that fear itself was all that was keeping you from the momentum you needed. Learn to appreciate the important personal and professional lesson that come with each blind leap into the unknown. Clarity can be right around the corner.

2. Nauseating Change

The journey of a startup can be compared to a trip across the open sea. Just when you think you’ve been blessed with clear skies and easy sailing, all of a sudden the clouds roll in and a storm hits. A business startup can experience very quick and sometimes very volatile shifts. The change in winds, waves and weather not only have you feeling “lost at sea” they can also send you off path and feeling like you’re taking on water.

Over time you’ll learn changes in weather are a part of this trek all you can do is adjust the sails accordingly. If you’re pushed off track you’ll redirect and find your way back. Learn to navigate the waves of change and find when, what and how much change you can handle as captain.

3.Consistent Stress

All you have to shoulder as a business leader can create a physical and emotional battle field. The stress of taking leaps of faith, unpredictable changes and the repetitive daily responsibilities can be burdening. It’s easy for feelings of worry, guilt, and doubt to build up. The emotional roller coaster, the little things that zap you of your energy and other tough choices can completely suck the excitement out of the ride.

Don’t get to caught up in the day-to-day and stay true to your purpose. There will be many circumstances that will create stress, anxiety and other types of tension, however it’s vital to keep chugging. Each time you push through the friction will help you gain the force and velocity you need for bigger more difficult work down the road. Be smart and know your limits while pushing just past your perceived limits. Resilience is developed by testing your comfort zone.

4. Repeated Failure

Even with an appreciation for all of the above you will experience disappointing losses. You’ll fall behind, you’ll struggle with client acquisition and you’ll miss project deadlines. All of which will make you question if you’re built for entrepreneurship. However, failure is the best place knowledge, skills and experience is gained.

Start, follow through, fail and take the reigns back by being grateful for all you’ve acquired. Reflect and consciously collect every small win. Each time you study your startup struggles you will discover greater success. Business growth is molded by learning to appreciate the emotional, physical and logical confidence you gain throughout the tough times.

Sustainability starts by being thankful for the opportunity to live out your passion despite startup struggles. Be grateful for every up, down, shift and pivot. Most importantly, know that each stumble is not a step back, but a place to recalibrate. Reload with a greater appreciation for your commitment to making a difference, the complexity of the start up process, and the opportunities available to you and your customers.

There are endless possibilities to those who stay happy, humble and hungry through pain. Look back at a couple of your most recent startup struggles, find the buried treasures you’ve missed, regain your internal motivation and begin building an arsenal thanks.

What recent startup struggles have you had a tough time with and can now be thankful for? What was the lesson? You can start or join the conversation by leaving a comment below or on our social media outlets.

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3 Simple Steps to Starting a Business While Still Working

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Starting a business is never an easy road; especially if you’re already working full-time. There are many debts to pay as an entrepreneur and if you have commitments to family, friends and others you may be thinking to yourself, “When am I going to have time to start a business?” This was me less than three years ago.

My wife and I had just moved in together, we had our first born on the way and I was overworked, underappreciated, and not to mention uninspired (and underpaid) at my job. Despite a loaded 50-60 hour a week work schedule my internal cry for meaningful work, contribution and freedom tugged at my heart. It was time to make the leap.

Scared, tired and insecure I made up my mind to commit no matter what. Here’s how I jumpstarted my confidence, built momentum and eventually made the switch to a full-time entrepreneur:

1. Learn from Your Calendar– This may sound cliche, however the number one excuse I hear from aspiring entrepreneurs is, “I’m too busy to start a business” or “I don’t have time for starting a business”. I get it, we’re all very busy and I can empathize with your situation.  But, I challenge you to really “get intimate” with your calendar. Stay with me here…

What does your calendar say about you? How much time do you spend on e-mail? Is it efficient? How many hours are you spending engaged in vague plans or organizing meetings? With both colleagues and friends. What are the benefits of these? How much are you accomplishing?  How long has that weekend home improvement project been on your to do list? Have you made any leeway or started at all? How often do you find yourself “half committed” or procrastinating?

If we wanted to, we could have an endless lists of things to do. Learn exactly where you’re spending your time.  Gain a better understanding of what you do with it.  Then ask yourself, “Is this helping me get closer to my goal?”  If not, what’s taking up (wasting) your time?  Track how long things really take (to the minute), what zaps your energy, and where you’re distracted.

I can almost guarantee you will find at least an hour a day that is wasted on busy work, multi-tasking or procrastination. If you’re serious about doing work you love then you will make the time to take control your calendar.

2. Start with an Hour a Day– Building a business is a process and it’s known to be one wild roller coaster ride. Although, much of our culture is hooked on instant gratification, I advise not getting caught in that when starting a business. It’s important to maintain a good energy and an overdrive for instant results can leave you stressed, fatigued and frustrated.

Overcome procrastination by taking small, focused steps. Utilize the habit of consistency to build momentum, increase efficiency and the discipline to knockout bigger and tougher responsibilities. Remove bad habits that are keeping you “too busy”.

Shoot for getting in 5-6 hours of work a week. That’s only one hour a day Monday through Friday. This probably doesn’t seem like enough time, however after a few months you’ll be surprised at how much you learned and accomplished.

3. Filter Out Low Value Activities– Small steps will turn into a groove and you’ll feel an emerging excitement.  You’re building momentum! You may also feel the pressure of being too “busy” again.  Don’t worry, this is a sign that you may be ready for the next step.

Begin progressing by filtering out other low value activities. This may seem tough at first, everything seems important. Do an honest review of what’s really moving you forward, learn which tasks you’re under-appreciating and which ones to cut back on. Minimize, get rid of or, if possible, outsource any (if not all) activities that take up your time and energy.

Next, now fill your new free time with high value responsibilities.  Choose activities that improve how you think and feel about your life. Take action on tasks and projects that get you closer to the comfort and revenue you need to leave your day job.

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” -Abraham Lincoln

Your dream of starting an online business doesn’t mean you have to quit your job…yet. The great thing about business today is you can start it from anywhere. With the advancements of technology and the access internet provides you can begin starting a business online from your home, in a coffee shop and while traveling for work. Begin the transition today.

No matter which approach you decide the easiest way to make a smooth segue into your own business begins with you. Commit to making your dream the routine and become the person who can fulfill it. Daily. The distance between you and freedom lies in your ability to meet the demands of your vision and create the life you want.  It starts now.

What’s your current most difficult obstacle in starting a business while you still work? You can start or join the conversation by leaving a comment below or on our social media outlets. 

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5 Ways to Improve Your Online Business by Connecting with Your Audience

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When growing an online business (or any business), especially a start-up, there is so much going on it’s hard to know what deserves priority. I’ve found thinking about building your online business like you do building a friendship to be a very helpful. Let me quickly explain, when you initially meet someone the relationship is a little awkward, until you find something that you both have in common or connect on.

Business is similar, however I recommend you be a little more strategic.  Start with a some deep introspection to better clarify what your unique talents are. Then you can think about that all important connection point where your unique talents insect with a very specific type of person who would be interested in learning what you know.  It’s this intersection point that kicks off the initial first impression and you work to build the relationship from there.

Sounds fairly simple right? Then why do we have such a difficult time acquiring new business? 80% of entrepreneurs fail…yes, four out of every five.  I don’t want you to end up like this so it’s important to understand you can’t attract the attention, interest and desire for your services without building an audience.  More importantly, relevant, engaged, and valued relationships with them.  Here are 5 steps to improving your business through connecting with your audience:

1. Share Good Stuff- When we first meet a potential friend it’s almost a natural instinct to impress so we share our most interesting or funny stories. We want them to feel excited to connect, welcome, and with a desire to learn more about us.

This is a great place to start with your content.  Share some (a lot is better) of your best inspirational and educational material.  Think about what would resonate with them the most.  What do you know well enough to help solve their current most pressing problem? What insight can you share to inspire them to take the next step? What content format would they most likely use to absorb it and help increase your credibility?

2. Listen to Your Audience- As you continue to share with your audience it’s time to shift your focus a bit.  It’s time for you to get to know them better.  You’ve done a good job gaining their attention, but now it’s important to create further engagement.  The best way is to listen and gather information they share.

You can continue to keep this process informal by asking powerful questions within your webinar or at the end of a blog or video.  Do this with a clear call-to-action to leave replies to in your comments section.  It’s then up to you to sift through the comments they leave on your blogs, social media posts or within forums.

You can also create a formal short survey and follow the above process or send it to your e-mail community & private groups.  I recommend keep it short (less than 10 questions) and simple and only ask what you believe will help bring more value to your audience in the future.  With good, engaging content your audience will often tell you what they want or wish they had before without even asking, however you have to have an open ear.  Listen to for your audiences frequently asked questions.

3. Find Their Attention Triggers- With an open ear you’ll probably recognize some consistencies as in your audiences problems, demographics and psycho-graphics.  If not, look for overarching themes related to their physical, emotional, social and logical desires. Themes can help you better pinpoint where and what is keeping their attention.

If you’re hungry to make a difference then you’ll want to target the same places they spend their time and money.  These places have either a large number of potential customers or a very targeted group with a specific desire you know you can support.  Where is your audience spending their time online? Is it Instagram, an industry forum, LinkedIn, etc.? How are they getting answers to their problems or finding inspiration now? What mediums do they consume their information?

4. Choose an Intersection Point- The better you understand your audience the more clear you’ll become on where and what you can do to inspire and assist them.  The greatest point of connection will occur when you have a detailed solution to their specific struggle. This is typically the point where your best talent or skill intersects their current need.  This intersection point is a big bridge builder between you and your audience.

If you can deliver (over deliver is better) a simple, but effective solution to a nagging frustration then you and your brand just increased in value in their eyes.  At minimum, help them feel more confident and sense of progress and they’ll look into a further relationship with you.  Simply shoot to change the troubling emotional state that’s been bothering them and they’ll trust you more. Where do your talents help “close the loop” for your audience? When do they need this solution most?

5. Get Personal- If you want an audience to stick around for a long time then it’s important to get them to “plant roots” in your community.  Continue to add value, grow your relationship, and now find the way to their heart. In essence, be authentic and consciously, yet carefully share your personality with them.

Be the professional in their circle who they know, like and trust better than the rest.  By strategically sharing your values and beliefs, stories of struggle, how you’ve conquered goals, helpful insights along the journey and more you can help your audience better understand what you stand for.  Decide early what you’re going to share with your listeners, subscribers and customers.

Although getting your audience’s attention is very important, it’s even better if you can be the one who captures their heart.  Create a community they want to grow in and they will keep them coming back.  What’s an important value that will ring true with the majority of your audience? What story of struggle will help them better relate with you?

Moving Forward

A great business helps to make a difference in the community while sustaining a profit for continued growth and impact.  However, it’s extremely difficult to do so without having an audience that enjoys listening and learning from you.  That’s why building and connecting with your audience must be one, if not your primary focus when trying to improve the bottom line of your online business.

Many entrepreneurs succumb to fear, self-sabotage or a simply a lack of productivity.  Don’t be an entrepreneur treading water.  If you want to be and stay relevant then you must keep your online business moving forward. The truth is, if you’re not connecting with your audience in today’s fast paced market then you’re treading water and actually going backwards.

What do you do to keep you and your online business moving forward? You can start or join the conversation by leaving a comment below or on our social media outlets.

 

 

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Is Accumulative Stress Zapping Your Energy

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The New Stress

Today’s stress is not your grandparents stress, it’s a new “breed”.  It’s consistent, repetitive and often overlooked.  It hits you relentlessly from all angles and it accumulates.  You might recognize the initial symptoms as low energy, trouble focusing on tasks and a mind that “won’t shut off”.  Sound familiar?

Most of these symptoms don’t seem like anything too scary or abnormal.  Think of how many times you’ve had low energy, forgetfulness, a wired mind and fluctuating hunger.  We experience these quite frequently and without thought we reach for the quick fix.

How often is coffee the first thing we think about in the morning as we roll out of bed and drag ourselves to the kitchen?  How about the 5 hour energy or red bull around mid-day for a little pick up?  And after work…you wish for the opportunity to kick your feet up on the couch without interruption.

Accumulative Stress

There are many stressors that we overlook.  Many of which we engage in daily.  You see our brain’s act instinctively to real or perceived threats, setting off our fight or flight response over and over.  This repeated stimulation from stressors leads to a cascade of reactions within the body eventually draining us of our energy.  Here’s a look at 5 stressors we underestimate in our daily lives:

  • TechnologyA study of 4,100 adults shows heavy use of technology increases stress. Today we use a cell, tablet, handheld games and laptops daily. We’re damn near “on call” or open to distraction, interruption, and intrusion 24-7
  • Television– According to a recent study, observing stress can stimulate the stress response. That includes observing it on TV. The average American watches nearly 5 hours of TV per day, just over 34 hours per week according to a recent Nielsen report. Also, TV’s have exploded in size and features becoming sensory overload for your nervous system with high volume commercials, flashing images and surround sound, 3D movies.
  • Noise Pollution– Sound is so prevalent these days we find ourselves wondering where’s the peace and quiet and searching for ways out of today’s Decibel Hell. The old neighborhood walk now comes with an ipod pumping the hottest jams in our ears. The old weekend drive with the windows down is now interrupted by high traffic, loud stereo systems, and endless construction. And the old quiet coffee shop is no more. It’s now filled with people’s Bluetooth conversations about their latest work project dilemma.
  • Job Expectations– There are many factors for stress in the workplace. Today’s professional demands have not only risen, they’re pass-fail now. (AKA produce or you’re fired.) You’re expected to have constant energy & measurable productivity with minimal downtime to refresh. Both volume and magnitude of work has seemed to grow with minimal increase in time, payment or recognition. (I just threw up in my mouth. Sorry, I remember those days. Not cool.)
  • Food– our food quality has declined over the years (especially in the U.S.). The majority of people consume foods high in bad fats, sugars, processed ingredients, pesticides and other chemicals all recognized as a type of poison (stress) to the body. Stress, eating crap on the go and decreased activity have lead to nearly 70% of Americans being overweight or obese. We’ve become the fat, sick and the walking dead (no, I’m not a zombie fanatic.)

Add these consistent, repetitive, every day, multiple times a day stressors to the major stressors (career, money and family) and you can understand how it takes a toll on your energy so quickly. You literally deal with layers and layers of stress including money stress, relationships stress, family stress, parenting stress, social stress and trying to clean the house while the kids and dogs make a mess stress nearly every day and it’s time to do something about it.

Know you know the effects of hidden stressors.  Take a moment to recognize just how often you use these and pay even more attention to your accumulative stress.  If you feel consistent dips in energy, step back and analyze where you can make changes.  Even the smallest changes can make a lasting impact in improving your energy levels more consistently.

Which accumulative stressor is slowing you down the most?  Start or join the conversation by leaving a comment below.

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2 Brand Building Strategies to Increase Credibility

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The right marketing tools will land you high dividends not only in profits, but in visibility and credibility. Finding brand building strategies that work for you in your business separate you from other experts and growing businesses. The faster and more consistently you pinpoint these the better, but where do we start and which methods are best?

There’s no perfect strategy or ideal tool for increasing leads and landing new customers. Remember, the market is ever-changing and adaptability is the name of the game as an emerging entrepreneur. Every market and each business has different dynamics to consider for gaining traction.

Nearly all variables come down to your ability to align your expertise, systems and solutions to your clients present needs and future desires. If you can find multiple methods for seamlessly integrating your customer’s problems with simple, effective solutions your business will steadily rise above others.

Writing for Brand Building

Blogs– Sharing valuable tips, tools and tactics consistently is the best way to grow your influence. Blogging is one way to build your authority, share your expertise and help others overcome problems. Each time your audience achieves a goal or simply feels a sense of progression you build a bridge of trust with them.

Posting regularly deepen your relationship by being the reliable expert with great stuff. Your consistency and their confidence in you brings a steady stream of traffic to your website, increase social shares, and acquires higher quality backlinks.  All of these improve your site SEO, moving you past thousands of competitors with boring, static pages.

Customers looking to hire industry and subject matter experts instantly head to search engines. Recent data shows 16+ blogs a month generates 3x more traffic than those posting 1-4 per month.  If you’re not much of a writer, consistency is the initial key and I recommend starting with a modest goal of blogging weekly and progress from there.

Publication Articles– Much like blogging, however you’re writing to serve the audience of an outside publication. Look both locally and online for places you know you can bring value to. Most importantly, choose publications that align with your values and target audience.

Look into newspapers, industry specific magazines and major publications. “Getting in” as a contributing writer can boost your credibility, increase traffic to your site (where you have plenty of great blogs to read) and land you some new targeted customers.

Research, write and submit an article that fits the desired publications style, guidelines and is helpful for their audience members and you may be calling yourself a writer soon.

Books– Arguably the most effective brand building tool is a published book. Becoming an author does take considerably more time and effort than blogging or writing articles, however with the rise of technology and self-publishing it’s easier than ever to access the needed resources.

Once published, as long as your book is up-to-date and relevant, you can leverage it in your business forever. Use your book to gain attention and interest on the front end promotion of a webinar, include it as a bonus within a new product package or sell it on the backend of any speaking engagement.

Don’t start writing until you decide a publishing method as each has it’s pros and cons. Once you pick whether traditional, hybrid or self publishing fits your business strategy, complete your book and leveraging it for both a credibility boost and revenue generation.

Speaking for Brand Building

Vlog– The video version of a blog is a great place to start if you’re good in front of a camera. Consider your audience preferences before you start shooting. If your audience absolutely loves reading then video may be part of your content mix, but not a primary strategy.

Video will help your audience not only learn from your knowledge, but they’ll have the opportunity to connect with you as a person. Video allows them to see if you’re the type of person they want to engage with, follow and later work with. If you’re not much of a writer or blogger you can record yourself speaking on a topic to help clearly share your message in writing.

Take some time to think about how you want to reveal yourself to the world. Decide your image, value and presence on camera. Most importantly, define how you want to serve the audience, the values and beliefs you stand for and what people can expect from you. Learn more about video and you will attract people to engaged in your content.

Speaking/Keynote– If you’re a credible expert and entertaining then speaking is powerful in expanding your brand influence. Being a speaker provides you the opportunity to share your message to the masses or instantly impact small, influential groups. This is especially effective if you have a distinct system or methodology you provide via product or service.

Speaking allows you to not only connect with people on a person level like video, but they get to experience you live. This kills any thoughts of how rehearsed, edited or phony (for the haters) others may think you are on video. If you have great stage presence, good with your voice and diction and come well prepared you can land high paying keynote spots; great for revenue and credibility boosting.

Overcome stage fright, know your stuff and avoid being a perfectionist and this strategy is prime to grow your brand. Practice by speaking anywhere and everywhere there is the opportunity to share with your audience. Raise your speaking game well enough and you earn opportunities influence the masses of the biggest companies and share the stage with top experts.

Audio– Audio may not sound like a speaking strategy, but ultimately it’s you sharing your knowledge behind a microphone. Audio options are great strategic tools for those who feel uncomfortable with video or writing. Live or recorded content is a great way to share and connect with your audience or subscriber list as you build your writing and on camera skills.

Create a plan and a schedule for an audio version of a blog to share insights and industry trends. Utilize teleseminars or screen cast webinars as a great way to offer value for free or as a revenue source. Lastly, you can do podcasts (as the host or a guest) to interview, learn and connect with other subject matter experts. This is a great way to find strategic partners.

To build a powerful brand it’s important to nail down several effective strategies for building credibility and influence. Although, these aren’t the only methods, it’s these two strategic staples that have stood the test of time for growing businesses.

Use them consistently and strategically for everything your brand needs to grow. Gain high impact with quick and relative ease from online video and publication articles. Or you can enjoy the long term effect and credibility explosion of putting considerably more work into books and keynote speaking.

Which of the brand building tools could benefit you most this year? You can start or join the conversation by leaving a comment below.

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An Entrepreneurs Guide to a Supportive Spouse

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The dynamics of your marriage can make or break your business. Growing your business takes a clear vision, effective operational processes, profitable marketing and blah, blah, blah. Entrepreneurs fail for many reasons, but there’s one that you rarely hear about in blogs or industry magazines.

How many businesses have failed because of troubled marriages or relationships? I’m not sure and most probably wouldn’t attribute the crumbling business to their significant other. However, I’ve come to learn that most business problems are just personal problems in disguise.

In only a few short years of consulting entrepreneurs, relationship conflicts have come to my attention more often than not. I heard it from friends, “the difficulty amplifies at each next step…”significant other”, spouse, family plus one and so on.” I even had these frustrations a few times as a growing entrepreneur.

In looking back I believed it would all work itself out once I got the business rolling. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of ups and downs before a business is functioning like a well oiled machine. After 10 years of both failed relationships and businesses I decided I needed a plan.

Keys to a More Supportive Spouse

Consider Their Fears

Its not easy “stepping into the shoes” of another person. Even then it’s even more difficult to understand their point of view. We tend to look at things the way we believe them to be for others or want them to be. Or, even worse, we don’t even try to see it another way. This will kill any thought of your spouse supporting you.

Instead, think about what they’re afraid of. What fears might they experience along this journey with you? Is it financial struggle, is it less time together, is it restricting them from doing what they are passionate for? If you can stomp out initial fears by answering their doubts upfront you’ll catch their attention.

Make sure to consider their emotional, social, logical and physical fears. Done well and they’ll feel as though you’ve done your homework, you have a plan and you’ve considered their perspective(and hopefully you really have). This alone can make the journey more enjoyable for everyone.

Assure them Priority

It’s easy to get caught up in all the responsibilities of a business, however your spouse and family is more important than work. Give them the confidence that you’ll make the time to keep them number one on your list. It’s important to share in what they believe to be meaningful.

Drop you’re work for them anytime they need you and making sure to take part in their priorities. Schedule time away from work, completely unplugged (no mobile devices) just for experiences together. Never lose sight of what’s most important and you’ll be happy both at work and at home.

Share Your Purpose

Don’t try and sell them on a vision of all the material things such as making a million dollars, having thousands of fans and building an empire. Those things have little emotional value because most people view those as just a dream, not a reality. The majority (yes, even your awesome spouse) instantly think about entrepreneurship as a rough road that has taken many casualties. That’s a picture you don’t want your spouse to imagine. As much as they love and believe in you these riches are unlikely in their eyes.

Instead, share your internal motivation. Of course we’d all enjoy having a “milli”, fans galore and a market dominating business, but refrain for now. Share why it’s important to you to do meaningful work, impact the community and support the family for the long haul. Despite the bad odds and the high risk of entrepreneurship people will overlook those for being a part of a purposeful journey. If your business is filled with exciting and fulfilling projects you may be able to override entrepreneur history for awhile.

Ask for Support

There will always be ups and down in your business. Including your spouse during the highs, having their support when you hit the lows and appreciating their perspective during the places in between is truly a game changer. This not only helps hold the business together, but it can bring the family closer.

Entrepreneurship can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be if you have their belief and affirmation. Don’t believe you automatically have their support in everything you do. Open up, be vulnerable and share your deep need of their support. If you’re not in this together you can expect either the business or the relationship to crumble, even worse…both.

Bring them to the party

Some spouses want no part of entrepreneurship. However, I believe the more you include them in the journey the faster they find an appreciation for what you do.

That doesn’t mean you have put them on your full-time schedule, but rather ask them if they’d help set up one of your events or assist you on a specific part of an important project. Let them experience the complexities, the emotional demands and the time constraints you work in and enjoy.

Don’t just beat them up with the tough stuff, but also allow them to enjoy many of the perks of your work. Bring them along on a speaking gig to another city, have them participate in a continuing education seminar or share in the final profit numbers of a recently offered product line.

You never know what will attract your spouse enough to love it like you do. I was lucky enough to have my wife join the ride, as a team member and then in advising her to start her own business. Either way, including your spouse in what you do can make transitions easier.

Cultivate Their Belief

There are a lot of heavy demands when it comes to starting your own business. Every decision is loaded with responsibility. If you want long term commitment from your spouse you have to gain their trust. You must follow through on your promises by sowing the seeds daily. Cultivate trust through aligning your words with your actions, being productive and implementing the plan.

Stick to your timeline, complete tasks accordingly and hit the milestones you’ve planned. It is up to you to manage the risks and rewards in order to stay on track. Don’t sabotage yourself, be consistent, celebrate the victories and keep implementing until you reach your exit velocity.

This cannot be done if you first do not trust yourself. Harness the courage to conquer challenges along the way and you will win the trust of your spouse.

 

Both marriages and businesses have crumbled because of lack of support. A business needs to be nurtured almost as much as a relationship if you want to be successful. You will struggle to achieve this without the support of your spouse.

It’s always a tall task to build a business, but with a supportive spouse you’ll have twice the resources to make it a bit easier. We (my wife & I) believe if you apply the steps you’ll not only amplify your business, but your marriage will hold a deeper connection. We still have much to learn, but we’ve seen the results in our relationship and in our businesses. We hope you’ll see them as well.

What advice do you have for the Entrepreneur and their spouse?  Start or join the conversation by commenting below.

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6 Strategies for Sustaining a Success Mindset

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How do we know which decision (of the many) will be the game changer? Which choice will result in landing the perfect client, creating a market-shifting product or which partners will propel our brand influence to new heights? Throughout your career as an entrepreneur or not, there will be multiple opportunities to make “the right” choice, but how do you know what’s best for you?

Truth is you already know the answer. You know that no matter how hard you research, analyze and meticulously check every detail there is never a perfect choice. There are too many angles to evaluate and too many perspectives to consider in getting it all right. There is ALWAYS something we miss, forget or don’t fully understand.

But, there is an alternative. This uncommon track can lead you to health, wealth and success (whatever that is for you) despite any slips, stumbles, and struggles.

Broken Mindset

I started my first business in 2007 and it was reasonably successful, it paid the bills and made a little profit. However, ultimately it failed as I wasn’t fulfilled while on this journey. I tried a couple more times at this entrepreneur thing…once failing due to lack of revenue because of no defined strategy or systems and then because of an unclear brand and failed marketing efforts.

I lied. Here’s the truth. When looking back (hindsight is 20-20) I didn’t fully understand strategy, branding or marketing. Therefore, I couldn’t create the needed systems to win. That part is true. What failed me, however, was my mindset. It was essentially me failing myself. Here’s why:

  1. I was afraid to admit I didn’t know these skills or have the business expertise to get the job done. I wanted to look smart and successful.
  2. I was lazy and didn’t give the effort to learn and do what I needed in order to overcome my areas of weakness.
  3. I wouldn’t let go of other things (for instant gratification)I believed to be important to me.

My attitude, interpretation and response to nearly every important decision had failed me. I was living with what I call a “broken” mindset. All of these thoughts were fragmented instead of focused, pessimistic instead of positive and problematic instead of productive. I had believed I knew it all and all other feedback was useless. Luckily, I had enough emotional endurance and found ways to stop sabotaging myself.

Strategies for a Success Mindset

Growth and sustainability in business comes from being able to consistently push your own personal boundaries. Business performance is people performance.  For me, that wouldn’t have been possible without the following strategies for a success mindset:

  • Be Clear– There’s not much out there more influential to your growth and progress than specifically defining what it is you want. Take the time to explicitly paint the BIG picture of where you want to end up, the exact outcomes and the process to get there. You may not have all these answers yet, but get them as clear as you can and start now. Keep tightening up your clarity as you go.
  • Be Bold– You will know you are on the right path if you find yourself a little afraid and intimidated. This is a good thing to be aware of and then take the steps to move with it. Be courageous and step into your fear and resistance more often. Comfort with discomfort will build your confidence enough to take leaps instead of just single steps.
  • Be Open– If you want more in life then you have to open your mind to new learning. Open up to new perspectives, new angles, new skills, new people, new cultures, etc. The great thing about learning is that it can happen anywhere. Be creative and productive in this process, learn new things and you’ll soon experience evolution.
  • Be More– In my initial work with clients I’ll tell them to press outside their comfort zone. They often respond by telling me, “I don’t know, that’s not my area” or “I can’t do that, that’s not me”. I reply back, “Exactly!” There is always a next level you and if you want to get there you have to transcend your current YOU. Who you are now won’t get you where you want to go, you must become more. Who must you become to grow and give more?
  • Be Synergistic– Doing this alone may be possible, but there is a special magic that comes with having a community of people who are dedicated to supporting your growth and success. At minimum you should have a dozen people in, what I call an, “achievement alliance” or a group of individuals committed to helping you achieve the next levels in your life and business. Find people who are better than you, who will be radically honest with you and spend a lot of time with them.
  • Be Strategic– Before leaping into anything it’s always important to consider the possible pros and cons along the journey. Don’t make the mistake of only thinking about the initial ups and downs. Evaluate future outcomes and do your best to predict long term and short term problems, surprises and possibilities. Be smart by defining which of these align with your strengths and ambitions while also avoiding as much risk as possible (without losing efficiency and effectiveness).

“For twenty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value.”- Dr. Carol Dweck

No one else cares as much about your destination as you do. You are the driver of success in your business. You decide your mindset for living and fulfilling your dream.

No matter how ambitious a goal you have, your mindset will always be a big part of achieving it. Without the right mindset, the pressure of our work environment, fear about our finances and doubt about our skills can stomp out our personal and professional desires.

What mindset killers have you faced this week? 

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4 Benefits of Stepping into Your Fear

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The things we love most come with the greatest amount of fear. It’s because you love it so much that fear intensifies. When putting your heart and soul into something you don’t want it to fail. You don’t want to think you can’t succeed doing what you love.

When you choose a path of purpose fear gives you direction, it’s like your inner compass. Fear is good. The unpleasant emotion we feel is when we are threatened or perceive a threat, however in today’s world real, true threats are becoming less and less. When’s the last time you stepped out of your car to find a tiger staring you down?

We live most of our lives avoiding “threats” in our comfort zone. Our brains natural instincts are to keep us out of harm’s way, to keep us feeling comfortable and safe. But, it’s outside our comfort zone that we find a life of happiness and purpose.

Applying all of our gifts to something significant is fulfilling and where we find meaning in our lives. We want to be a part of something bigger and show others what IS possible. Whether you are BEING the change, creating change in others or making a bigger difference in the world it’s how you apply fear that can be the deciding factor between you achieving success or living life comfortably content.

My Fear

For a long time I resisted pursuing entrepreneurship despite my heart being pulled towards it. I allowed my fear to run me off, when instead I should have followed it as a sign. Here’s a quick list of some of the fears I experienced:

  • A fear of the unknown- I didn’t know what’s pulling me in this direction I’ve never explored, what’s to be expected?
  • A fear of what family, friends and girlfriends would think- if I took a leap without knowing what I was doing or getting myself into or even worse failed, how would they view me?
  • A fear of change- If I did this things will have to change and how much work will this be?
  • A fear of missing out- If it’s a lot of work what will I have to miss to sustain it?
  • A fear of rejection or not being good enough- If I do this I want to be excellent, but what if I can’t live up or what if they don’t like me?

10 years I ran from these and a variety of other fears only to see my dreams fall further away and my life crumble the farther they fell.

Step into Your Fear

It wasn’t until I became desperate enough and stepped into my fear that everything changed. And it was then that I learned fear is to be followed, it’s not a deterrent. Here are some of the rewards you can expect from your courage and stepping into your fear.

  1. Improved Self-Confidence– Confidence is a tricky mix of competence, courage and clarity. The great thing about stepping into your fear, there is no losing. Either you win or you grow in knowledge, wisdom, skill or clarity. This helps give you direction and builds greater confidence to take on bigger, stronger fears.
  2. Deeper Connections– We don’t want others recognizing our slight slip-ups, hidden blemishes, or the kinks in our armor. However, it’s in our adversity and vulnerability where we gain virtue and great respect. Sharing our struggles doesn’t show weakness, it reveals strength and it creates deeper bonds with others. People see character in crashing, crumbling and climbing back up. There’s courage in simply sharing truth no matter if it’s sunshine and rainbows or dark and stormy weather.
  3. Comfort in Change– No matter when, where or how you begin; the journey of change is rarely what you wished for. Like a ship at sea, no path is permanent; you’re ever-adjusting until you reach your destination. Sometimes there’s a trail and other times you’ll be called to blaze your own. It’s at this time you no longer stumble upon doubt, uncertainty and shame; instead you take pride, find flow and experience peace.
  4. Creative Freedom– When we’re not isolated by fear we begin think outside the box. We see new opportunities and explore unmeasured methods. We no longer believe in boundaries, rather we push for possibilities. In this sea of possibility you’ll find many of the hidden joys of life.

The majority of people succumb to fear each and every day, you don’t have to be one of them.

Dreams have a greater magnetic pull than fear. Yes, fear can overcome you if you allow it. But, you are strong. Find a reason greater than your excuses, a clear dream over procrastination or an ambition that ignites your inner fire, and you’ll conquer your fears.

Soon, you’ll look back on your struggle and understand it wasn’t that scary after all.

What would be possible in your life if you could run right through your fear today?

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Honest Communication Doesn’t Hurt

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You know the saying, “Truth Hurts”. After we look a little deeper into how honest communication affects us and others in our lives you may challenge the thought.

Have you ever pitched a project to client, received a “no thank you”, and wondered why? Wouldn’t it be great to know why you’ve failed? But why is it, when a friend points out that your presentation really was pretty terrible, or a colleague notices that your proposal pretty much killed any opportunity and tells you about it; we don’t want to hear it?

Like most, we’re looking for encouragement and positive motivation. Of course we all like a little coddling and cuddling. We enjoy when others give attention to our fantasized stories (You know, the I walked 10 miles up hill in a blizzard type work stories) and support our “I couldn’t be wrong” excuses and complaints.

We’ve all done this time and again. We’ve done it in failed projects, goals and relationships. We’ve done the same to friends, family members and coworkers. And, to be honest, we’ve probably done it sometime very recently. But, at what consequence?

Your Responsibility

I completely understand not wanting to come off as rude, inconsiderate and lacking empathy. Being blunt and disrespecting others or destroying relationships is the last thing we want to do. It IS important to use tact when communicating this way, however it’s equally important not to enable bad behavior by a lack of feedback or “sugar-coating” your message.

Are you truly helping yourself or others by being nice and withholding information?

Stephen M.R. Covey once said, “When we talk straight, we tell the truth and leave the right impression.” Despite some initial pain and discomfort, honesty builds a bridge of trust between you and others.

In the big picture, consistently telling the truth builds a bigger and stronger bridge between you and the other person. A well built bridge helps to grow relationships and can withstand time, great distances and the many other storms of miscommunication.

Far too often a lie (including little white ones), despite our good intent, is a lack of personal responsibility. We don’t want to deal with the consequences that come along with both telling the truth and accepting it from others. Being “brutally honest” is being responsible. And responsibility is a huge responsibility.

Below I share 4 opportunities to improve honest communication in your daily interactions:

  1. Find Reality. Be in touch with what is and how things are not what you hope, think, or wish things to be. The only thing that is real and that will be consistently is what is. Once you find reality, it will be easier for you to confront brutal honesty and the facts that are real…such as your faults, weaknesses, failures, etc. Are you lying to protect yourself or others?
  2. Be Mindful. Evaluate the conversations you have with yourself, be consciously aware of your language you use when speaking with others and reflect and review old discussions to see if you were telling the truth. Are you leading conversations with honesty or by your fear and mistrust?
  3. Include Others. Tell your family, friends, colleagues and clients you are trying to improve your communication with them and others. Inform them you would like them to provide clear, honest feedback. Surround yourself with others who care about your growth and success, but watch out for those who lead you to believe in a false reality. Are you allowing others to enable unproductive thoughts, actions and behaviors?
  4. Be Honest. Use tact in order to tell the truth so it cannot be misunderstood without disrespect or leaving false impressions. Don’t beat around the bush, use flattery or have hidden meanings when you talk to others. Represent the reality of the situation as best you can through good communication skills and even better judgement. Are you building trust by telling the truth?

Successful relationships, businesses and dreams are built upon communication, integrity and trust. There is a thin line between honesty and being a little too blunt, but I’ve never known anyone to hate another for telling them the truth. Yet, for many, it’s easier to avoid the “hurt” of being brutally honest by enabling ineffective and unproductive thoughts, actions and habits.

If you’re equally open to your reality and listening to the truth as you are for providing brutal honesty then you’ll never find yourself burdened by the weight of regret. Be a person known for honesty and you’ll find sturdy bridges of connection you when you need them most.

“The consequences of deceit are usually greater then the ones of the truth.” –Dr. Henry Cloud

Take a few moments after work or before you head to bed and write down a few examples to the above questions. Acknowledging these slip-ups will help to put you more in-touch with your reality.

Be Bold,

Brandon Sobotka

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