Entrepreneurship the key to Rule your world

4 Must-Have Characteristics for Entrepreneurs

Image credit: mscvandeveen | Foap.com

Martin Zwilling, an angel investor and startup mentor in Phoenix, recalls an event he attended where recently laid-off workers were inquiring about entrepreneurship. When they started going around the room making introductions, he could tell within a few seconds who had a chance at success—and nine out of 10 didn’t.

“They typically said something like, ‘I’ve had this job for 20 years, and I would love to be my own boss, but I don’t know what it takes to do it,’” Zwilling says. “There was only one person who said, ‘I’ve been working on this project on the side for a while, and now that I don’t have a job holding me back anymore, I’m raring to take this opportunity to start my own business.’ Having the right mindset means a lot.”

Making the transition from everyday employee to enterprising business owner doesn’t happen by simply hanging up a shingle. You must also embrace a new way of thinking to thrive in the unpredictable world of startups. Below, we’ve outlined the characteristics you’ll need to adopt—if they’re not already inherent to your personality—to make it on your own.

  1. Embrace uncertainty.

All entrepreneurs need to be able to deal with unpredictability on a daily basis, says Jonathan Greechan, co-founder of the Founder Institute, a Silicon Valley-based startup accelerator. “One trait we look for in our applicants is their openness to risk, their ability to learn a new rule and apply it to new problems. Discomfort should become your new normal,” he says.

  1. Have a thick skin.

As a business owner, most feedback you get from customers, employees, vendors and investors will be negative. Get used to accepting it and using it to your advantage. “If you’re difficult to be around and argue everything, you’re at one bad end of the spectrum,” Zwilling says. “But if you are a complete pushover who follows all advice, you’re at the opposite end. Good entrepreneurs stand in the middle.”

  1. Understand vision vs. mission.

“Your vision is your company’s future, where the market is going, how to meet your customers’ needs,” Greechan says. “Your mission is how you will get there. Your vision needs to be concrete, but your mission may change regularly.” Great entrepreneurs can be detail-oriented yet simultaneously focus on the big things that accelerate their company’s success.

  1. Accept failure, again and again.

Realize that you will fail almost daily, and that is part of the process and a good learning tool, says Ted Zoller, director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. “You have to be opportunistic and adaptive. If you find a dead end, either go around it or try something new.”

The best entrepreneurs don’t label their milestones as failures or successes. Instead, they focus on what’s really important: seizing the opportunity. “Whatever you do, act when the opportunity presents itself,” Zoller says. “That’s entrepreneurship defined.”

 

 

 

 

 

6 Offbeat College Degrees Perfect for Entrepreneurs

Image credit: drpavloff | Flickr

 

Beyond the obvious choice of an MBA, there are a number of college degrees that can help with entrepreneurial ventures. Don’t think you have to major in something “obvious” to become a successful startup founder. You can leverage almost any degree to help you find success in the startup world, but it’s all in how you look at it — and which electives you take.

Related: Does a College Diploma Make Someone Special?

If you’re not the type of student who’ll find joy and success in a traditional business program, don’t force it. You’ll end up frustrated, and watching your classmates who are naturally a better fit for the program might feel overwhelming. Instead, match your degree to your skills and passions, with offbeat degrees that just might stoke your entrepreneurial spirit:

  1. Theater arts 

As an entrepreneur, you’re constantly performing for your investors, your customers, your best employees and your stakeholders. Learning how to pitch, to speak in front of an audience and to control your charisma to get what you want (whether it’s a reaction from an audience or a board of directors) is a talent that can best be created in theater arts.

  1. Physical education

Learning teamwork, endurance, the ability to push yourself and the importance of taking care of yourself first (and attending to business, second) can be what separates a successful startup from a failure. A degree in physical education is proof that you value challenges, have plenty of determination and of course are strong in competitive spirit.

  1. History 

You know what they say about history: Learn from it, or be doomed to repeat it. History majors are analyzers who enjoy looking back, figuring out what went right and wrong, and making themselves into great storytellers. All of these skill sets are fantastic for entrepreneurs, too.

  1. Engineering 

In this digital era, when brick-and-mortar businesses are quickly giving way to ecommerce, any type of computer-related degree can be a huge perk for startups. Whether you’re designing an app or a website, handling SEO or some other tech-focused aspect of business, you’ll likely find that a tech-related degree will help you launch a business.

  1. Theology

What do faith and business have in common? More than you think. Theology majors aren’t necessarily “religious” themselves, but they’re often open minded, curious and analytical; and they adore applying lessons and stories from the past to today’s situations. In other words, they’re fantastic leaders.

  1. Music

Whether you practice an instrument or study music, you’ll find both types of majors surprisingly great fits for the entrepreneurial path. You’ll need incredible ambition and concentration to dedicate your life to such a passion, and that’s exactly what entrepreneurs do on a daily basis. Plus, numerous studies have shown that music positively impacts nearly every other part of your life, from your health to your job, so it’s a great booster for the startup world.

The resources you’ll enjoy in college, in terms of mentoring by your department faculty, financial aid or access to something like the buy and sell platform Flippze, which helps college students scrimp and save, will all help you set the stage for success as an entrepreneur.

So, utilize what you can while you earn your degree, and see how you can apply these resources to the startup world. Many colleges continue to offer resources to alumni, too, so don’t think that just because you’ve graduated, your college won’t still be there to support you.

Then, who knows? Once you’ve made it as an entrepreneur, you just might want to consider supporting your college back.

How to Become a Millionaire by Age 30

You’ll Only Achieve Success by Taking Massive Levels of Action

Getting rich and becoming a millionaire is a taboo topic. Saying it can be done by the age of 30 seems like a fantasy.

It shouldn’t be taboo and it is possible. At the age of 21, I got out of college, broke and in debt, and by the time I was 30, I was a millionaire.

Related: I Had Been Fired and Evicted, and Still Retired at 27

Here are the 10 steps that will guarantee you will become a millionaire by 30.

  1. Follow the money.In today’s economic environment you cannot save your way to millionaire status. The first step is to focus on increasing your income in increments and repeating that. My income was $3,000 a month and nine years later it was $20,000 a month. Start following the money and it will force you to control revenue and see opportunities.
  2. Don’t show off — show up!I didn’t buy my first luxury watch or car until my businesses and investments were producing multiple secure flows of income. I was still driving a Toyota Camry when I had become a millionaire. Be known for your work ethic, not the trinkets that you buy.
  3. Save to invest, don’t save to save. The only reason to save money is to invest it.  Put your saved money into secured, sacred (untouchable) accounts. Never use these accounts for anything, not even an emergency. This will force you to continue to follow step one (increase income). To this day, at least twice a year, I am broke because I always invest my surpluses into ventures I cannot access.
  4. Avoid debt that doesn’t pay you.Make it a rule that you never use debt that won’t make you money. I borrowed money for a car only because I knew it could increase my income. Rich people use debt to leverage investments and grow cash flows. Poor people use debt to buy things that make rich people richer.
  5. Treat money like a jealous lover. Millions wish for financial freedom, but only those that make it a priority have millions. To get rich and stay rich you will have to make it a priority. Money is like a jealous lover. Ignore it and it will ignore you, or worse, it will leave you for someone who makes it a priority.

Related: LISTEN: How to Make a Million Dollars Online

  1. Money doesn’t sleep. Money doesn’t know about clocks, schedules or holidays, and you shouldn’t either. Money loves people that have a great work ethic. When I was 26 years old, I was in retail and the store I worked at closed at 7 p.m. Most times you could find me there at 11 p.m. making an extra sale. Never try to be the smartest or luckiest person — just make sure you outwork everyone.
  2. Poor makes no sense.I have been poor, and it sucks. I have had just enough and that sucks almost as bad. Eliminate any and all ideas that being poor is somehow OK. Bill Gates has said, “If you’re born poor, it’s not your mistake. But if you die poor, it is your mistake.”
  3. Get a millionaire mentor. Most of us were brought up middle class or poor and then hold ourselves to the limits and ideas of that group. I have been studying millionaires to duplicate what they did. Get your own personal millionaire mentor and study them. Most rich people are extremely generous with their knowledge and their resources.
  4. Get your money to do the heavy lifting. Investing is the Holy Grail in becoming a millionaire and you should make more money off your investments than your work. If you don’t have surplus money you won’t make investments. The second company I started required a $50,000 investment. That company has paid me back that $50,000 every month for the last 10 years. My third investment was in real estate, where I started with $350,000, a large part of my net worth at the time. I still own that property today and it continues to provide me with income. Investing is the only reason to do the other steps, and your money must work for you and do your heavy lifting.
  5. Shoot for $10 million, not $1 million. The single biggest financial mistake I’ve made was not thinking big enough. I encourage you to go for more than a million. There is no shortage of money on this planet, only a shortage of people thinking big enough.

Apply these 10 steps and they will make you rich. Steer clear of people that suggest your financial dreams are born of greed. Avoid get-rich-quick schemes, be ethical, never give up, and once you make it, be willing to help others get there too.

Warren Buffett Tells You How to Turn $40 Into $10 Million

By Patrick Morris

Warren Buffett is perhaps the greatest investor of all time, and he has a simple solution that could help an individual turn $40 into $10 million.

A few years ago, Berkshire Hathaway CEO and Chairman Warren Buffett spoke about one of his favorite companies, Coca-Cola, and how after dividends, stock splits, and patient reinvestment, someone who bought just $40 worth of the company’s stock when it went public in 1919 would now have more than $5 million.
Source: Coca-Cola.

Yet in April 2012, when the board of directors proposed a stock split of the beloved soft-drink manufacturer, that figure was updated and the company noted that original $40 would now be worth $9.8 million. A little back-of-the-envelope math of the total return of Coke since May 2012 would mean that $9.8 million is now worth about $10.8 million.

The power of patience
I know that $40 in 1919 is very different from $40 today. However, even after factoring for inflation, it turns out to be $540 in today’s money. Put differently, would you rather have an Xbox One, or almost $11 million?

But the thing is, it isn’t even as though an investment in Coca-Cola was a no-brainer at that point, or in the near century since then. Sugar prices were rising. World War I had just ended a year prior. The Great Depression happened a few years later. World War II resulted in sugar rationing. And there have been countless other things over the past 100 years that would cause someone to question whether their money should be in stocks, much less one of a consumer-goods company like Coca-Cola.

The dangers of timing
Yet as Buffett has noted continually, it’s terribly dangerous to attempt to time the market:

“With a wonderful business, you can figure out what will happen; you can’t figure out when it will happen. You don’t want to focus on when, you want to focus on what. If you’re right about what, you don’t have to worry about when.” 

So often investors are told they must attempt to time the market and begin investing when the market is on the rise — and sell when the market is falling.

This type of technical analysis of watching stock movements and buying based on how the prices fluctuate over 200-day moving averages or other seemingly arbitrary fluctuations often receives a lot of media attention, but it has been proved to simply be no better than random chance.

Investing for the long term
Individuals need to see that investing is not like placing a wager on the Cavs to cover the spread against the Warriors, but instead it’s buying a tangible piece of a business.

It is absolutely important to understand the relative price you are paying for that business, but what isn’t important is attempting to understand whether you’re buying in at the “right time,” as that is so often just an arbitrary imagination.

In Buffett’s own words, “if you’re right about the business, you’ll make a lot of money,” so don’t bother about attempting to buy stocks based on how their stock charts have looked over the past 200 days. Instead always remember that “it’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price.”

You can’t afford to miss this
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Fool contributor Patrick Morris owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and Coca-Cola. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and Coca-Cola. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don’t all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

7 Hobbies Science Says Will Make You Smarter

Christina Baldassarre

August 25, 2015

For a long time, it was believed that people are born with a given level of intelligence and the best we could do in life was to live up to our potential. Scientists have now proven that we can actually increase our potential and enjoy ourselves in the process. We now know that by learning new skills the brain creates new neural pathways that make it work faster and better.

Here is a list of seven hobbies that make you smarter and why.

  1. Play a musical instrument.

Playing music helps with creativity, analytical skills, language, math, fine motor skills and more. While these are all great advantages, some people argue that playing team sports might do as many things. What playing musical instruments does that other activities don’t is strengthen the corpus callosum that links the hemispheres of the brain by creating new connections.

An improved corpus callosum helps with executive skills, memory, problem solving and overall brain function, regardless of how old you are.

  1. Read anything.

The benefits of reading are the same whether you are enjoying Game of Thrones, Harry Potter or the latest issue of the Wall Street Journal. Reading reduces stress, which makes you feel better about yourself, and increases all three types of intelligence — crystallised, fluid and emotional. That helps with problem solving, putting different pieces of knowledge together to better navigate everyday life, detecting patterns, understanding processes and accurately interpreting and responding to other people’s feelings.

At work, this translates into better understanding how to make things happen and better managerial skills.

  1. Exercise regularly.

Occasional exercise alone doesn’t do the trick. Regular exercise is much more effective than hard work-outs every now and then. When exercising regularly the cells are flooded with BDNF, a protein that helps with memory, learning, focus, concentration and understanding. This is also often referred to as mental acuity.

Some scientists speculate that sitting down for prolonged periods of time has the opposite affect and actually hinders our brain from working as well as it could.

  1. Learn a new language.

Forget solving puzzles to improve your memory and learn a foreign language instead. Research has shown that people who are bilingual are better at solving puzzles than people who speak only one language. Successfully learning new languages enables your brain to better perform any mentally demanding tasks. This includes the typical executive skills such as planning and problem-solving.

Additionally, speaking at least two languages positively affects your skill to monitor your environment and to better direct your attention to processes. Many people are told that because executives speak languages, they should learn Spanish or French if they want to move up the ranks. Based on how the brain reacts to learning languages, it might be the other way around. Learning another language might be the last missing link people need to get their brain ready to take on C-level jobs.

  1. Test your cumulative learning.

Many intelligent students in high school and college “cram” for finals and seem to have mastered the topic the day of the big test. The trouble with that is we tend to forget these things quickly because we are rarely, if ever, required to repeat that knowledge in that same way. One reason studying a new language makes us smarter is because it requires cumulative learning. Because we need them over and over again, the grammar and vocabulary we learn is repeated countless times as we improve our foreign language skills.

Apply the concept of cumulative learning to every day life and your work place by keeping track of noteworthy bits of knowledge you acquire. Go through takeaways from recent books, observations during an important negotiation, or keep a small journal with anything that strikes your attention. Start integrating cumulative learning into your self-improvement program.

Related: You Have the Power to Rewire Your Brain for More Joy

  1. Work out your brain.

Sudoku, puzzles, riddles, board games, video games, card games, and similar activities increase neuroplasticity. This encompasses a wide variety of changes in neural pathways and synapses that is basically the ability of the brain to reorganize itself. When nerve cells respond in new ways, that  increases neuroplasticity, which allows us more ability to see things from different points-of-view andunderstand cause and effect of behaviors and emotions. We become aware of new patterns and our cognitive abilities are improved.

Considering that neuroplasticity is involved in impairments such as tinnitus, an increased amount can help prevent certain conditions. For instance, people with high neurplasticity are less prone to anxiety and depression while learning faster and memorizing more.

  1. Meditate.

In 1992 the Dalai Lama invited scientist Richard Davidson to study his brain waves during meditation to find out whether he could generate specific brain waves on command. Turns out that when the Dalai Lama and other monks were told to meditate and focus on compassion, their brain waves showed that they were in a deeply compassionate state of mind. The full research results were published in “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” in 2004 and then in the Wall Street Journal, where it received an enormous amount of attention.

Meditation became interesting to ambitious people because the study implied that we can control our own brain waves and feel whatever we want to feel whenever we want to. This means we can feel more powerful right before a negotiation, more confident when asking for a raise and more convincing during a sales call.

The general idea is that the brain can develop further and you can do it on purpose. Different activities stimulate different areas of your brain, so you can work on becoming unbeatable at your strengths as well as improving your weaknesses. Focusing self-improvement on the brain is a good idea for anyone who feels they are at their professional peak (or maybe just have stopped getting better), ambitious professionals and of course entrepreneurs who are looking to maximize their potential.

This Zen Concept Will Help You Stop Being a Slave to Old Behaviors

Image credit: Shutterstock

 

I played baseball for 17 years of my life. During that time, I had many different coaches and I began to notice repeating patterns among them.

Coaches tend to come up through a certain system. New coaches will often land their first job as an assistant coach with their alma mater or a team they played with previously. After a few years, the young coach will move on to their own head coaching job where they tend to replicate the same drills, follow similar practice schedules, and even yell at their players in a similar fashion as the coaches they learned from. People tend to emulate their mentors.

This phenomenon—our tendency to repeat the behavior we are exposed to—extends to nearly everything we learn in life.

Your political or religious beliefs are mostly the result of the system you were raised in. People raised by Catholic families tend to be Catholic. People raised by Muslim families tend to be Muslim. Although you may not agree on every issue, your parents political attitudes tend to shape your political attitudes. The way we approach our day-to-day work and life is largely a result of the system we were trained in and the mentors we had along the way. At some point, we all learned to think from someone else. That’s how knowledge is passed down.

Here’s the hard question: Who is to say that the way you originally learned something is the best way? What if you simply learned one way of doing things, not the way of doing things?

Consider my baseball coaches. Did they actually consider all of the different ways of coaching a team? Or did they simply mimic the methods they had been exposed to? The same could be said of nearly any area in life. Who is to say that the way you originally learned a skill is the best way? Most people think they are experts in a field, but they are really just experts in a particular style.

In this way, we become a slave to our old beliefs without even realizing it. We adopt a philosophy or strategy based on what we have been exposed to without knowing if it’s the optimal way to do things.

Shoshin: The beginner’s mind

There is a concept in Zen Buddhism known as shoshin, which means “beginner’s mind.”Shoshin refers to the idea of letting go of your preconceptions and having an attitude of openness when studying a subject.

When you are a true beginner, your mind is empty and open. You’re willing to learn and consider all pieces of information, like a child discovering something for the first time. As you develop knowledge and expertise, however, your mind naturally becomes more closed. You tend to think, “I already know how to do this” and you become less open to new information.

There is a danger that comes with expertise. We tend to block the information that disagrees with what we learned previously and yield to the information that confirms our current approach. We think we are learning, but in reality we are steamrolling through information and conversations, waiting until we hear something that matches up with our current philosophy or previous experience, and cherry-picking information to justify our current behaviors and beliefs. Most people don’t want new information, they want validating information.

The problem is that when you are an expert you actually need to pay more attention, not less. Why? Because when you are already familiar with 98 percent of the information on a topic, you need to listen very carefully to pick up on the remaining 2 percent.

As adults our prior knowledge blocks us from seeing things anew. To quote zen master Shunryo Suzuki, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”

How to rediscover your beginner’s mind

Here are a few practical ways to rediscover your beginner’s mind and embrace the concept of shoshin.

Let go of the need to add value. Many people, especially high achievers, have an overwhelming need to provide value to the people around them. On the surface, this sounds like a great thing. But in practice, it can handicap your success because you never have a conversation where you just shut up and listen. If you’re constantly adding value (“You should try this…” or “Let me share something that worked well for me…”) then you kill the ownership that other people feel about their ideas. At the same time, it’s impossible for you to listen to someone else when you’re talking. So, step one is to let go of the need to always contribute. Step back every now and then and just observe and listen. For more on this, read Marshall Goldsmith’s excellent book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There (audiobook).

Let go of the need to win every argument. A few years ago, I read a smart post by Ben Casnocha about becoming less competitive as time goes on. In Ben’s words, “Others don’t need to lose for me to win.” This is a philosophy that fits well with the idea of shoshin. If you’re having a conversation and someone makes a statement that you disagree with, try releasing the urge to correct them. They don’t need to lose the argument for you to win. Letting go of the need to prove a point opens up the possibility for you to learn something new. Approach it from a place of curiosity: Isn’t that interesting. They look at this in a totally different way. Even if you are right and they are wrong, it doesn’t matter. You can walk away satisfied even if you don’t have the last word in every conversation.

Tell me more about that. I have a tendency to talk a lot (see “Providing Too Much Value” above). Every now and then, I’ll challenge myself to stay quiet and pour all of my energy into listening to someone else. My favorite strategy is to ask someone to, “Tell me more about that.” It doesn’t matter what the topic is, I’m simply trying to figure out how things work and open my mind to hearing about the world through someone else’s perspective.

Assume that you are an idiot. In his fantastic book, Fooled by Randomness, Nassim Taleb writes, “I try to remind my group each week that we are all idiots and know nothing, but we have the good fortune of knowing it.” The flaws discussed in this article are simply a product of being human. We all have to learn information from someone and somewhere, so we all have a mentor or a system that guides our thoughts. The key is to realize this influence.

We are all idiots, but if you have the privilege of knowing that, then you can start to let go of your preconceptions and approach life with the openness of a beginner.

What the Richest Americans All Have In Common

By: John Reeves

“Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

It’s never been a better time to be growing your wealth in America. That’s one of the biggest takeaways from the latest Forbes list of the 400 Richest Americans.

There are so many wealthy Americans nowadays that 113 billionaires couldn’t even crack the rankings. Just getting on the iconic list is now harder than it’s ever been since it was introduced in 1982.

In a moment, I’ll share with you a common trait of the wealthiest leaders. Ordinary investors – like you and me – will discover one key lesson that’ll allow us to grow our portfolios just like the super-rich.

Invest like Buffett, Gates, and Zuckerberg
One of the first things you notice from examining the list is that there isn’t anyone on there who made their billions by working a 9-to-5 job.

You also won’t find anyone on there who won the lottery or made a killing in Vegas. Sadly, those earnings just won’t compound like those of the truly wealthy.

What, then, do you need to do to get on the list?

There’s actually one undeniably common trait. Each individual owns business assets that have become “compounding machines” as Warren Buffett likes to say.

The most obvious way, of course, to own assets is to become an entrepreneur like Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. They put capital to risk over the long term, and are eventually rewarded tremendously for their vision and patience. Allowing their creations to compound for decades is the essential piece for creating a massive fortune.

Of course, most of us will never be Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates.

So, how can we create a fortune without moving to Silicon Valley and creating the next big thing?

An easier way to create massive wealth
One effective strategy is to invest in outstanding businesses for the long term. Identifying an Apple or Amazon early on could result in growing your initial investment by ten, twenty, even one-hundred times the original amount.

That leads us to the key insight one learns from the wealthiest Americans. They have taken a different mindset than investors who trade in and out stocks daily. Having a long-term mindset is required and letting their assets compound for decades is why many are atop the list.

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Eccentric Habits of 8 Geniuses That Make You Smarter

Image credit: Philippe Halsman | WikiCommons | Enchanced by Entrepreneur

Thai Nguyen

October 20, 2015

There’s a fascinating link between geniuses and eccentric behavior. Einstein picked cigarette butts off the street and used the tobacco for his pipe; Benjamin Franklin sat naked in front of a window every morning and let the air circulate over his body. He called it an “air bath”.

Their eccentricity isn’t completely without explanation; there are mental benefits behind some of their madness. Here are eight quirky habits from geniuses that will make you smarter:

  1. Make love a lot. 

Emilie du Châtelet went unrecognized for her pioneering scientific work in the early 18th century but was notorious for her active sex life. The latter may have been responsible for the former; researchers at Konkuk University in Seoul noted that sexual activity improves cognitive function and promotes Neuro-genesis (the production of new neurons) through the suppression of chronic stress.

If you need another reason to have more sex, you’re welcome.

  1. Surround yourself with 24-karat gold.

Every night, Dr. Yoshiko Nakamatsu, who patented more than 3,300 inventions including the floppy disk, would retire to his “Calm Room” — a bathroom tiled in 24-karat gold. He explained “The gold blocks out radio waves and television signals that are harmful to the imagination.”

He’s onto something. While the link between radio waves and cancer is still debated, the cognitive effects of overexposure are undeniable.  You probably can’t surround yourself with 24-karat gold, but you can step away from the “smog” of radio waves we live in — computers, WI-fi, cell phones, Bluetooth headsets.

To boost your mental performance, give your mind a reprieve from the technological buzz by taking a walk in nature or meditating. Schedule daily time to mentally disconnect and recharge.

  1. The chill factor. 

Benjamin Franklin went for daily swims in London’s chilly river Thames; Theodore Roosevelt went skinny-dipping in the cold waters of the Potomac River in Washington D.C. every winter.

Being submerged in water of various temperatures for physical and mental benefits is an ancient practice. The Greek sage Hippocrates said that water therapy “allays lassitude” (physical or mental weakness).

When you take a cold shower or swim, the shock causes your blood to move to the core of your body, and bathes your brain and vital organs in fresh blood.

Finish your showers with turning the temperature as cold as possible to give your brain an invigorating boost. If you’re brave, you can try an ice bath.

  1. Don’t season your food yet.

Thomas Edison had a rigorous interview process for any potential employees. Besides requiring they are well-versed in random subjects, Edison gave them “The Salt Test.” He’d invite them to have a bowl of soup, but anyone adding salt without first tasting the soup failed the test. Salting before tasting was a clear sign of making decisions based on unfounded assumptions.

Intelligent minds are critical minds. Never jump in without testing the water; or in this case, tasting the soup.

  1. A hunger strike. 

Pythagoras, the ancient Greek philosopher and mathematician, would systematically starve himself for 40 day periods. He taught his disciples his strict water-only fast in the belief that it boosted mental perception and creativity.

Modern studies have shown that fasting increases your Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which aids in memory functioning and can stimulate the growth of new brain cells. The acute stress caused by fasting also causes the brain to release endorphins, which leads to feelings of well-being and euphoria.

  1. Cry me a river.

If you want to be as creative as Steve Jobs, start letting your tears flow. Jobs’ authorized biography reveals that he cried incessantly when he was frustrated and didn’t get his way, but also happy tears when he had experiences he described as “purity of spirit.”

Crying reduces stress. Tears remove stress-causing hormones and lowers your manganese levels, which regulates your mood. The emotional release of crying also leads to a mental balance; a sense of calm after the storm.

Rather than suppress the wave of emotions that triggers the tears, let them flow. The catharsis will lead to mental clarity.

  1. Be a dropout. 

Being a dropout doesn’t mean you despise education, rather, you have a thirst for knowledge that is hindered because your goals don’t align with your institution.

The list of notable dropouts includes Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and the youngest female billionaire, Elizabeth Holmes. They all reveal three key lessons: 1) being autodidactic (a self-learner); 2) identifying patterns and making successful predictions; 3) making bold decisions.

It’s a big risk to leave any commitment, not only college. Being a successful dropout means you’re constantly training your mind to look for patterns; to see the trajectory of multiple paths, and shifting to the one that aligns most with your goals.

  1. Don’t rush to write it down.

JK Rowling’s billion-dollar Harry Potter series came to her as she sat on a train; she was too embarrassed to ask anyone for a pen, so she just let her mind wander for hours. Instead of drawing premature conclusions on her characters, she gave her ideas time to marinate, develop and evolve.

She unknowingly engaged her mind in the creative stage called “incubation.” It’s when your unconscious mind synthesizes all the information you encountered through your conscious work. The mental detachment and “mindless wandering” allows all your knowledge to marinate, leading to the “light-bulb” moment.

Let your ideas set until they jell before taking any major action or make any final decisions.

Donald Trump’s Top Speaking Tips for Entrepreneurs

Image credit: Christopher Halloran | Shutterstock

7 Public Speaking Habits of Successful Entrepreneurs

Jonathan Li

October 20, 2015

Entertaining and confident, Donald Trump is currently the most popular presidential candidate in the U.S. Though I don’t support his policies, Trump is one of the best speakers in this presidential election.

I interviewed media training expert TJ Walker on seven speaking tips from Donald Trump, and how we can apply these tips to grow our businesses.

  1. Use simple words.

Trump doesn’t use big fancy words. He uses simple words that even a 10-year-old can understand. His point of view is in black and white, “This is good, that is evil. Here’s what I’ll do, here’s what I won’t do.” The audience can understand him clearly.

How to apply in your business: Instead of talking about your boring product features, focus on the benefits your products bring. Use simple language to describe your products so target customers can understand and buy from you.

  1. (Appear to) believe in what you say.

We may disagree with Trump’s extreme ideas on anti-abortion or immigration control. But when we see him talking about an idea, he appears to believe it is the greatest idea in the world. He believes that this idea is going to make America great again.

To make people believe you, you have to believe in what you say. Don’t say, “There’s a 54 percent chance that it could happen. And there’s another scenario….” Take a stance.

How to apply in your business: When you launch a new product, explain why you believe it is the greatest thing ever. Share why this product is the best and why it stands out.

If you don’t believe in what you say, why should others believe in you?

  1. Have fun.

When Donald Trump is speaking on stage, he looks like he’s having a great time. He is like a kid in a candy store. He loves the limelight.

Stop being the boring teacher in high school. Start having fun. When you have fun, the audience will also have fun.

How to apply in your business: Before speaking, ask yourself, “Why did I start this business? Why did this bring joy to me?” You’ll boost energy and get excited to speak in front of people.

  1. Be entertaining.

Trump is funny for his hilarious hairstyle. He’s also funny for attacking opponents in an over-the-top way. You can hear him yelling, “You’re a moron for asking that question. You’re stupid for asking this.” The audience’s laughs help end the embarrassing situation.

How to apply in your business:  We are not in politics and we don’t want to attack people for no reason. The key is to make fun of yourself. Laugh at your mistakes. Be human and people will like you more.

  1. Dare to be different.

We don’t expect politicians calling people “morons” and “stupid” on national television. Trump is brave enough to say, “Our political leaders are a bunch of morons. I’m smart. I could clean up this place in three days.” His courage makes him stand out from the crowd.

How to apply in your business: To be different, you don’t have to be rude. Pay attention to what your competitors are saying and avoid repeating the same ideas.

If you’re a media training coach, don’t just tell prospects that you will get them on camera and do a live critique. Say, “If you work with me, you won’t just get on camera for two times. I guarantee you’ll be on camera 10 times in a day. You won’t leave until you love how you look on camera.” This differentiation made TJ Walker one of the leading experts in the media training industry.

  1. Show your honesty.

Being honest helps you connect with the audience. By calling other political leaders “idiots”, “morons” and “fools”, Trump appears to be honest. He becomes more memorable.

How to apply in your business: Being honest isn’t about revealing dark secrets. It’s about being more transparent and sharing your ideas. Record your speech in video and send it to five people you respect . If they say, “You sound honest when talking about this part,” that’s good feedback.

By being honest, you become more memorable.

  1. Let go of rules.

Trump is not a perfect speaker. He stands behind the lectern and read notes. He often speaks in a monotone. Trump doesn’t let these bad habits stop him he focuses on connecting with the audience.

Most speakers are horrible and boring. You don’t have to be great in every public speaking skill. Develop one or two skills and be top of your game.

How to apply in your business: One of the most important speaking skills is storytelling. Stories help connect with people and inspire action. Throw away the boring data. Make each point with a story.

We don’t know how long Donald Trump will remain the media’s focus. For now, let’s enjoy the entertainment Trump provides.

Do you think Donald Trump is a good speaker? Why or why not? I look forward to reading your comments.

Shark Tank Just Revealed a Trillion-Dollar Idea

By David Hanson

Dear Opportunistic Investor,

We all know a brilliant idea when we see one.

That’s what makes ABC’s Shark Tank so appealing.

Hopeful inventors and entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to millionaire investors like Mark Cuban.

Some of these inventors and investors become wildly rich from these ideas. Which is great but you may be wondering: “How do I get in on the action? How can I invest in the next-generation of great ideas?”

Lucky for you, now you can.

Imagine being an early investor in Apple or Microsoft — cutting-edge companies that changed the world and turned average Joes into multimillionaires.

Well, in a recent episode of Shark Tank, two sharp, young entrepreneurs revealed a fast developing technology that anyone can invest in. One of the show’s “Sharks,” Robert Herjavec, already jumped in and invested $750,000!

But that could just be the start. In fact, if some experts are right, this trend could be bigger than Apple and Microsoft combined!

Tech heavyweight Cisco is calling it a $19 trillion opportunity. Not only that, experts believe it could be 37 times bigger than the Internet.

If you missed buying some of the defining stocks of the Internet era, this invention could be your second chance…

Just like the best Internet stocks of the ‘90s (like AOL and Amazon.com, up 20,000%+ and 9,500%+ at their all-time peaks respectively), there’s one company that’s perfectly positioned for this massive new tech wave.

Think about how many amazing technologies you’ve watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, “I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands.”

Don’t let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, “I can’t believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on.”

That’s why I hope you take just a few minutes to discover more about this amazing technology that is popping up everywhere — from Shark Tank to Bill Gates’s 66,000 square-foot mansion.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before every other “Shark” starts buying and the chance to profit disappears!

Here’s to you and your family’s wealth,

David Hanson
Investment Analyst,
The Motley Fool

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Warren Buffett’s Warning

Warren Buffett is perhaps the greatest investor of all time, so when the billionaire issues a warning, it pays to listen.

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5 Stocks Everyone in Their 30s Should Own

The right investments in your 30 could grow into a big nest egg over the years. Photo source: 401kcalculator.org via flickr

Investors in their 30s have plenty of time to allow their investments to grow. So what are some of the best stocks to have in your portfolio during this important part of your investing career? You might think that your younger years are a great time to roll the dice on “it” stocks like Tesla Motors and Netflix, but that’s simply not the case. Instead, here are five stocks our analysts feel could provide 30-somethings with outstanding long-term results.

John Maxfield: If there’s one stock everyone in their 30s should own, it’s a low-cost, broad market exchange-traded fund like the Vanguard S&P 500 (NYSEMKT: VOO).

While trading in and out of stocks seems awesome and a great source of conversation fodder for your spouse’s employer’s holiday party (which, just short of being tarred and feathered, has got to be one of the most dreadful ways to spend an evening), it’s also one of the most effective ways to unburden your wallet.

It’s beyond dispute that the majority of humans are horrible investors. Greed incites us to buy stocks when they’re high; fear then makes us capitulate and sell when stocks are low. Suffice it to say that there are better ways to build wealth.

One such tactic is to simply dollar-cost average into the Vanguard S&P 500. It tracks the biggest and best companies in America, and it does so at a fraction of the cost of paying a financial advisor to manage your money.

Matt Frankel: While you’re in your 30’s, you still have a long time to pursue investment growth — but that doesn’t mean that you should take unnecessary risks with your money. One stock that offers the best of both worlds is Realty Income Corporation (NYSE: O).

Realty Income is a REIT that specializes in free-standing retail properties, and there are a few reasons its business model is safe and profitable. First, the majority of Realty Income’s tenants are service-based (think fitness centers, for example), sell non-discretionary products (drug stores and convenience stores), or offer goods at a low price point (dollar stores) — and many are of investment-grade credit. A sampling of the company’s largest tenants includes Walgreens, FedEx, Dollar General, and AMC Theaters.

Second, Realty Income’s tenants sign long-term leases of 15 years or more, and sign “net” leases. This means that the tenants are responsible for expenses such as property taxes, building insurance, and maintenance. All Realty Income has to do is acquire a property, find a tenant, and (in most cases) enjoy years of worry-free income.

This business model has worked great for shareholders in the past, producing 17.4% average annual total returns over the past 20 years. There is no guarantee that past performance will repeat itself, but since the company has used the same business model successfully in good times and bad since 1969, there is no reason to believe it won’t continue to perform well.

Just to put this kind of performance in perspective, consider that a $10,000 investment compounded at 17.4% for 20 years would be worth more than $247,000. After 30 years, it would be worth $1.2 million. That’s why 30-somethings should own Realty Income.

Jason Hall: I’m in my 30s, and I’ll offer up a stock that’s one of my core holdings: Hain Celestial Group (NASDAQ: HAIN).

On the surface it may sound dumb to buy the company best known for Celestial Seasonings teas; not exactly a growth business, right? But as the saying goes, “assumption is the mother of stupid mistakes, and the cousin of stupidity.” Okay, I made that up. But it’s true. Failing to dig beneath the surface could mean passing up on what may well be one of the great food growth companies of the next few decades.

Founder and CEO Irwin Simon has taken full advantage of the secular shifts that are changing the packaged foods business. Consumers are moving away from traditional packaged foods, driven by health concerns over high-sugar, high-fat processed foods and artificial ingredients. People are demanding more organic and natural products, and Hain is reaping the rewards.

The company’s brands are a veritable “who’s who” in growth categories, including milk alternatives, Greek yogurt, nut butters, snacks, packaged salads, and even poultry. Last quarter, it had 10 different brands grow sales more than 10%, and that’s not an aberration. Over the past 18 years, sales have grown 10% or more every year.

The bottom line is this: Simon has done a remarkable job expanding the company through organic growth and acquisition for years, and the company is still relatively small, with sales of less than $2.6 billion over the past year.

This long-term shift in consumer demand is still young. Now’s a fantastic time to invest in what could be a market-destroying investment for years to come.

Selena Maranjian: The companies you buy in your 30s should be powerful growth drivers in your portfolio for decades. Here’s a solid contender: Google (NASDAQ: GOOG).

Naysayers might worry about the competition it faces from the likes of Facebook and others, and about its relative weakness in mobile advertising and social media, but there’s much more to like about Google than to dislike.

Consider its last quarter, which offered revenue growth of 11% year over year, while aggregate paid clicks, the primary driver of critical ad sales, jumped 7%. Google’s 2006 acquisition of YouTube has been paying off well, with users spending 60% more time on it in the last quarter than a year earlier, and the channel boasts more viewers aged 18-49 than any U.S. cable network. Analysts at Jefferies & Co. estimate that the online video ad market might total $17 billion by 2017, with YouTube a prime beneficiary. Bulls are excited about initiatives such as Google’s new wireless plan, cloud-computing sales, and Google Play, not to mention the company’s dominant Android operating system. International growth will also be a significant growth driver, and who knows — some of its seemingly out-there investments, such as self-driving cars and glucose-sensing contact lenses, could pay off well, too.

Google even offers the hope of a dividend, as it’s sitting on more than $70 billion in cash and generating billions in free cash flow quarterly. New and experienced CFO Ruth Porat has many hopeful that the company will rein in spending and demonstrate more financial discipline — reflected already by a major slowdown in hiring.

Google is an engine with many cylinders, and it’s been firing on most of them lately, with great potential for continued growth.

Dan Caplinger: Two major trends have made people around the world more health-conscious: the general aging of the population of many major industrialized nations, and advances in technology that make it easier for ordinary people to track their fitness and activity levels. Nike (NYSE: NKE) has made itself a key player on both fronts, with footwear and apparel that combines cutting-edge functionality with brand awareness that customers have demonstrated for decades. Iconic endorsements from basketball legend Michael Jordan and a host of other athletes throughout the sports world give Nike the credibility it needs to attract customers.

On the technology front, Nike’s FuelBand was innovative, and even though it has stopped producing new versions of the FuelBand, Nike has envisioned high-end apparel designs that could theoretically build sensor technology into garments themselves. Competition from rivals has dramatically increased in recent years, but with the advantage of size and marketing prowess at its disposal, Nike has the ability to draw new customers of all ages as they each seek to meet their fitness needs. With demographics supporting its substantial and steady growth over the long haul, Nike’s definitely a stock worth considering for anyone in their 30s with a long time frame to take advantage of the company’s growth prospects down the road.

This $19 trillion industry could destroy the Internet
One bleeding-edge technology is about to put the World Wide Web to bed. And if you act quickly, you could be among the savvy investors who enjoy the profits from this stunning change. Experts are calling it the single largest business opportunity in the history of capitalism… The Economist is calling it “transformative”… But you’ll probably just call it “how I made my millions.” Don’t be too late to the party — click here for one stock to own when the Web goes dark.

Best Paying Part-Time Jobs – Work Part Time While Earning Decent Money

Are you at a station in life where a part-time job is the best option? Maybe you have completed a degree and cannot find steady work in your chosen field, or you’re starting a family and are balancing childcare duties with a career. Perhaps you require the ability to slip out whenever you want to enjoy a sunny day during the week.

Regardless of why you are working part-time, it can be a challenge to find part-time work that pays well enough to make the effort worthwhile. To help you out, CareerCast.com compiled the ten best paying jobs that are either part-time by nature or can be done part-time by choice. We have included them below for your review, in alphabetical order.

Note: Median salaries are as of 2012 and job outlooks are through 2022 as supplied by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  1. Accountant –If you have a background and degree in accounting, part-time work is often available. Accountants are in high seasonal demand around tax season, but they are also in demand to fill in for summer vacations and for stopgap work with busy corporations. Median wages are $30.55/hour with an expected 13% increase in jobs.
  2. Computer Programmer –Computer expertise is often outsourced to save money and handle temporary surges in programming or troubleshooting needs. Median wages are $35.71/hour and job openings are expected to increase by 8%.
  3. Driver –Delivery truck driver, the entry on the CareerCast.com list, get a median wage of $13.23/hour and a 5% job increase is expected. We think the more lucrative part-time driving gig is with ride-share services like Uber or Lyft though. In both cases, be sure you have the correct license and insurance — the rules are changing state by state.
  4. Graphic Designer –Between print and electronic media, the need for good graphic designers is increasing. BLS expects a 7% increase in jobs (which is slower on average than other occupations), but we would not be surprised if that is a conservative estimate. The median hourly wage is $21.22.
  5. Management Consultant or Management Analyst –If you have the sufficient background and proven record in management, you can go independent, to help other companies solve their management problems. BLS predicts a crying need, with 19% growth anticipated through 2022. The median hourly wage is $37.79
  6. Market Research Analyst –This is a hard job to do on a free-lance basis, but according to BLS there should be opportunities available. A 32% increase in jobs is expected at a median salary of $28.99/hour. This increase is well above the national average and bodes well for job seekers in the field. Generally, you will need a finance background and a thorough understanding of the customer’s field.
  7. Mover – Got a strong back and time on your hands? Help people move their things for a median wage of $11.04/hour. BLS expects a 10% increase in jobs, which is as fast as the national average.
  8. Network and Systems Administrator – Help troubleshoot and upgrade networked computer systems, or handle Internet access and security issues. Companies are almost always understaffed in this area and need skilled assistance. The median wage is $34.88/hour and BLS anticipates a 12% increase in jobs.
  9. Editors – BLS reports a $25.90 per hour median wage but a 2% decrease in jobs. Based on what we see on many websites and newspapers, including highly respected ones, perhaps editors should be in even greater demand. If you have an eye for proper grammar and a love of language, this may be for you.
  10. Writer – Surely you did not think an article writer would leave this one out? Writers generally work on a free-lance basis, covering everything from blogs to movie scripts to technical documents. The median hourly wage for writers is $26.89/hour, but job prospects are slow with only a 3% increase expected through 2022.

Do not go into part-time work thinking that it is easy. You must be disciplined with your time and resources, and be able to correctly schedule work times and manage deadlines. Your free time may not match your preference.

However, if you can successfully balance work time with family time, then part-time work can be reasonably rewarding and lucrative — and every once in a while, you do manage to cash in on that sunny day when everyone else is at work.

4 Essentials for Achieving the Entrepreneurial Dream

 

Image credit: Jay Meistrich

Lifestyle entrepreneurs are truly living the dream. They work, make money and thrive online. Most do not have an established physical location (beyond a couch, coffee shop or occasional home office), and they certainly don’t need one to succeed. A lifestyle entrepreneur just needs two tools: a laptop and a reliable Wi-Fi connection.

Of course, you need other entrepreneurial basics, too, like fantastic ideas, skills, and a jack-of-all-trades mentality. However, does it really matter where you do business, as long as it gets done?

Around 2.5 billion people go online every day, and by 2020 that figure will double, according to tech writer Kimanzi Constable. The Internet is a nearly endless source of potential customers and clients for entrepreneurs. Already, there are many lifestyle entrepreneurs, but few are maximizing their potential in this realm (and there are probably many more who haven’t yet figured out this alluring lifestyle).

Some entrepreneurs have figured out how to legally and ethically work the system, and are enjoying some choice perks. For example, moving to another country with much lower cost of living, scoring that foreign income exemption and maybe living a dream of working beach-side is very possible for some lifestyle entrepreneurs. Should they need to consult “in person” with a client or investor, video conferencing or a phone call usually suffices.

However, it isn’t easy to become a lifestyle entrepreneur, but it is possible for many. If this sounds like the right track for you, start by choosing the best, profitable demographic. This isn’t a plea to choose a niche, because that is not always a necessity. It is better to have a specific idea rather than a specific niche. To make money, your target audience has to have money (I’ve tried the broke route and it’s a long one). If you have a great idea, but your target audience can’t afford it, it’s a long road ahead that won’t make money for a while. In my opinion, income generation potential is a key metric that you should make sure is present.

Here are four more steps to becoming the ultimate lifestyle entrepreneur:

  1. Start from the ground up.

Your website should be the beginning, but it is never complete. Don’t over-invest in this arena. Instead, build a thriving online presence, work towards an emergency fund, engage with your audience, and seek out tools that can help your business grow.

  1. Study what works.

Keep in mind that what works for others may not work for you. Figuring out what works for your business and you will involve research, trial and error. Testing is your friend, and failure can be a great teacher.

Once you’ve achieved some success, evaluate it. Could it be made even better? Don’t let the white noise overwhelm you, but do acknowledge, evaluate your business and grow it.

  1. Grow your audience.

The more exposure you get, the faster your audience will grow. Seek out different means, such as being a guest on a podcast, on other blogs or on authority sites. This will grow your lifestyle business daily.

  1. Charge what you’re worth.

Many entrepreneurs accept less-than-great pay to gain experience or exposure. This can be a savvy move in the beginning, but do not be guilted into staying with a client because they gave you a shot. Charge what you’re worth, and realize that will steadily get higher as you gain more experience.

Being a lifestyle entrepreneur is likely more achievable than you think. However, it is not the best fit for everyone. Before even pursuing this track, make sure you’re the type of entrepreneur cut out for such a lifestyle, because otherwise you will stumble with every step.

10 Facts, and Clever Observations, About the Internet That Will Blow Your Mind

Image credit: Shutterstock

When work and life get stressful, I like to stop, take a deep breath and take a few moments to put things in perspective. I have found the incredibly talented speakers at TED to be a great way to inspire and set me straight. Recently, it was a fascinating discussion about the origins of life.

Consider, for instance, the fact that modern humans have only inhabited the earth for 200,000 years. To put this in perspective, if the earth was 24 hours old, we have only existed for the last minute and 15 seconds. More interestingly, we did not start roaming the earth until about 70,000 years ago when the last ice age cut our population down to an estimated 2,000 people, and we were forced to seek new lands to inhabit.

We went from the verge of extinction to where we are today in a relatively remarkable short period of time. Now that’s perspective.

This perspective continues when you consider just how far the Internet has progressed in just 20 years. Consider, for instance, that to reach 50 million users, it took the telephone 75 years, but the Internet only four. More impressive, the Angry Birds app needed only 35 days.

If that does not blow your mind, consider just a few of these other amazing statistics about the Internet, all of which have evolved over the past two decades.

  1. There are 47 billion websites, including the first website ever created more than 24 years ago. While estimates vary about the percent of total websites that are dedicated to adult content, I am convinced that if they removed them all, the Internet would cease to exist.
  2. There are 3.2 billion Internet users worldwide, accounting for almost 44 percent of the global population. Almost half of all Internet users are based in Asia. Unfortunately, the other half are holding up lines at Starbucks.
  3. There are 950 million households worldwide with a television, but twice as many people access the Internet from a handheld device. Interestingly, only a fraction of these people know (or care) that their device also serves as a telephone.
  4. YouTube visitors view 6 billion hours of video each month, and over 300 minutes of video are uploaded every second. Interestingly, 80 percent of visitors are from outside the US. All of this explains why Americans are so misunderstood around the world.
  5. There are 1.49 billion people on Facebook (more than in China) who use the social-media site an average of 21 minutes every day and share 1.3 million pieces of content every minute. The best way to avoid most of that content is by simply blocking all baby pictures.
  6. Facebook accounts for the highest percentage of total time spent on mobile apps, 18 percent, and when you add Facebook Messenger and Instagram to the mix, this total reaches 22.4 percent. The second highest percentage spent on mobile apps was on Pandora, which accounted for only 10.5 percent. This implies that when Facebook develops it own music streaming service, we can pretty much shut everything else down.
  7. There are between 5 and 10 million iOS apps downloaded every day, and more than 100 billion total apps downloaded as of June 2015. That total would be far lower had I noticed my 4 year old downloading apps on our iPad sooner.
  8. In 2015, we will send and receive 205.6 billion emails, almost 60 percent of which will be spam. Unfortunately, my spam filters still have yet to figure out that I have enough hair, don’t want to work from homeand have no relatives in Africa.
  9. It is estimated that we will take 1 trillion photos in 2015. In 2000, we took only 86 billion photos. Unfortunately for all of humanity, most of that increase can be attributed to duck-faced selfies.
  10. While all of these statistics are amazing, the reality is that the web as we know it — Facebook, Amazon, Wikipedia, etc. — represents only 1 percent of the total discoverable web. The remainder is the “deep web,” or that which is not discoverable by means of standard search engines. I am fairly certain this is where my lost set of keys has gone.

Again, it is difficult to fathom the incredible evolution of technology over such a remarkably brief period of time, but it is fun to imagine what life will look like in just a few short years.

And, in honor of a movie about our future, Back to the Future II, which in 1989 took our hero, Marty McFly, to Oct. 21, 2015, let us rejoice that the hover board he used in his exciting escape may very well come to fruition on time.

 

5 Things Millionaires Do That Most People Don’t

Image credit: Shutterstock

10 Practices for Becoming a Self-Made Millionaire

My lifelong dream is to create more millionaire students than any other stock trading teacher out there. I’m lucky enough to have reached the seven-figure mark myself, and now, I’m dedicated to sharing everything I’ve learned – including the stock trading patterns that work in any market – with the students in my Millionaire Challenge.

But one thing I realized pretty early on was that, if I wanted to teach people to be millionaires, I had to study people who had already reached this level of wealth. I had to learn what they did differently so that I could help my students to not just hit this magic number, but to retain the money they earn and build generational wealth.

And today, I’m sharing a few of the things I’ve learned with you. I hope they help – no matter what financial stage you’re currently in.

  1. Millionaires work hard.

A lot of people think that winning the lottery is their ticket to success, but I’ve got bad news for you. Nearly 90 percent of lottery winners go through their winnings in five years or less, leaving them back in the same situation they were in before they won.

Millionaires know that there are no shortcuts to success. There’s only hard work executed relentlessly in pursuit of a goal.

I know that, in my case, I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t been willing to work hard. I didn’t have a mentor when I started trading stocks in high school. It was up to me to put in the hours needed to become successful. There were plenty of times I would have rather gone out with friends or played video games — anything but sit in front of the computer and study stock charts for another hour.

But I did it. I put in the work upfront because I knew the results would be worth it, they’ve paid off. I’m living my dream lifestyle because I wasn’t afraid to work hard.

  1. Millionaires are focused.

That said, it isn’t just about working hard. You have to be working hard on the right thing.

Have you ever known somebody who’s constantly jumping from one “million dollar idea” to another? We all want to be rich, but the people who can’t choose one path to focus on simply aren’t going to achieve it. It’s the people who dedicate themselves to a single pursuit that come out on top, whether that one path is penny stock trading, company building or something else.

  1. Millionaires are careful about risk.

I happen to think that penny stock trading represents one of the best opportunities to build generational wealth. The barriers to entry are low and, if you follow the rules I’ve learned, your risk is relatively low.

But whatever wealth-building approach you take, you’ve got to keep your risk in check. It’s not that you shouldn’t take risks, but the risks you take should be calculated. One of the tools we use in trading is the “risk-reward ratio” — basically, how much risk you’re willing to take on for how much potential reward.

You can apply this line of thinking to just about anything in your life. If there’s more risk than there is reward, stay away. But if there’s more potential for reward than there is risk of loss, you may be looking at a great opportunity you should take.

  1. Millionaires are generous.

Take a lesson from generous billionaires Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Carl Icahn and Ken Langore. Giving money can feel just as good (if not better) than earning it.

I’ve recently started my own charitable foundation in order to give back $2 million to my community, and I have to tell you, it feels amazing. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to get started, but I’m looking forward to making up for lost time.

  1. Millionaires never stop learning.

This is such a big one. Millionaires love to learn because they’re always looking for ways to expand their skill sets and get ahead in their fields. They read books, watch documentaries, study educational materials and talk to others who can give them more information. Millionaires know that knowledge is power, and they stop at nothing to get it.

No matter what your net worth is right now, you can put this tip into practice today. If you’re learning to trade penny stocks, you can watch videos, read SEC statements, study stock charts or learn from others in industry chat rooms. You can do all of these things for free, but the value of what you learn will be worth so much more in the long run.

Which of these habits could you add to your life? Commit today to making at least one change that puts you on the path to becoming a millionaire.

Related: If You Want to Be a Big Deal, Never Stop Learning

Jack Ma, China’s Richest Man, Says He Was Happier When He Wasn’t a Billionaire

Jack Ma, the founder and executive chairman of Alibaba, became the richest man in China after Alibaba IPO’d for a record $25 billion last September.

But Ma was just as happy — perhaps even happier — when he was barely making any money right out of college.

After graduating in 1988, Ma worked as an English teacher at a local university in his hometown of Hangzhou, China. He only made $12 a month, according to the documentary about his life called “Crocodile in the Yangtze.”

When speaking at a luncheon with the Economics Club of New York on Tuesday, Ma referred to this period as the “best life I had.”

When you don’t have much money, you know how to spend it, Ma explained. But once you become a billionaire, you have a lot of responsibility.

“If you have less than $1 million, you know how to spend the money,” he said during Tuesday’s speech. ” [At] $1 billion, that’s not your money…The money I have today is a responsibility. It’s the trust of people on me.”

Ma says he feels a need to spend his money “on behalf of the society.”

“I spend it our way,” he said. “It’s a trust.”

This isn’t the first time Ma has spoken about the burden of being a billionaire. When speaking at a panel at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, he referred to his days as an English teacher as “fantastic,” according to CNN Money. He said anyone with $1 million is “lucky,” but when you reach $10 million, “you’ve got troubles.”

After Alibaba’s IPO, he told CNBC that the pressure that comes with the responsibility gets to him, especially now that the world is focusing on Alibaba’s stock price.

“IPO is great because … I’m happy with the results,” he said to CNBC. “But honestly, I think when people think too highly of you, you have the responsibility to calm down and be yourself.”

America in 2017: Warren Buffett’s Ignored Warning

By David Hanson

Dear Opportunistic Investor,

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that’s keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.

The catch was: Attendees weren’t allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video.

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: “Real threat.”

That’s how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend, and another major industry claims it can turn this technology mainstream as soon as 2017.

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we’re “on the cusp of revolutionary change” coming much “sooner than you think.”

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was “beyond the capability of computer science.” (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he’s now a believer and amazed “how quickly this technology caught on.”)

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven’t missed your window of opportunity.

Think about how many amazing technologies you’ve watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, “I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands.”

Don’t let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, “I can’t believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on.”

That’s why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Here’s to you and your family’s wealth,

David Hanson
Investment Analyst,
The Motley Fool

7 Ways to Increase Your Charisma

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

When you are able to leave a positive and lasting impression on anyone you come across, the world will become your oyster. Some people are born charismatic. The good news is that this charming talent is learnable and yours for the taking. This talent is widely knows as “charisma.

So let’s explore a number of effective ways that you can increase your levels of charisma and help your networking skills.

Start With the Sweet Spot

I have a great way of connecting with people that I’ve found to work really well, anywhere I go. I like to ask people what they love doing or what fascinates them. And when they answer me, I then ask them, “What is the one key thing that impacted you in this area, or one key thing that you love about this passion? etc..

And I don’t just do it to make them feel good, I do it because I love seeing people talk about what lights them up. I also love learning cool and interesting things from others.

You have to remember, everybody has a story.

So imagine walking into a room at a party, event or conference. I want you to imagine: digital numbers lit up above each and every persons head in that room and those numbers signify the years of knowledge, living and experience that person has had. A room of 100 people at an average age of 30 to 40 years old would have around 3,000 to 4,000 years of combined knowledge and insight into life.

That thought alone BLOWS MY MIND!

So why wouldn’t you go in with the idea of extracting and sharing the awesome things you can learn from each individual? I’ve had some of the most amazing experiences and opportunities come about by approaching people with this perspective.

So imagine, meeting every one in the room before the end of the night?

How incredible would the stories, lessons and opportunities be that come about from this?

That was just an example to help shift your perspective a little when it comes to meeting new people. The problem is that most people feel like they don’t have the confidence to network with the masses because they don’t haven’t developed the skills of building rapport and leaving a long lasting impression.

Well, what if you were able to set yourself up in a way that whenever you step into any room you bring with you a finely tuned advantage? What if you were able to keep your level of charisma at an all time high?

  1. Stay Tuned

So first things first. When you’re talking with anyone you have to be ALERT. When I say alert, I mean completely present. If it’s a one-on one-conversation, you should leave them feeling like they’re the only one in the room.

If you are in a group, make the speaker feel important. If you are the speaker in the group, then be alert to everyone in that group when you deliver. Look at each person. This is something I used to struggle with until my fiance pulled me up on it and now I make the effort to look and talk to each individual during the conversation.

This will absolutely change the impact you have in groups. You will notice a huge shift in conversations and will leave a lasting impression on multiple people instead of just one or two.

So stay alert.

  1. Stay Smart and Sharp

If you’re a charismatic person, you’re usually less stressed, more successful and more attractive. Now, when I say attractive, I don’t mean sexy in the face or perfectly symmetrical. I mean you look like you look after yourself, and that you smile and know how to look good without over doing it. That’s charisma!

And the great news is, you can learn to be more charismatic. It’s not a genetic thing, it comes from learned behaviours over years.

A lot of leaders are looked at as charismatic because they stand tall, they have a strong belief in themselves, they love to learn and grow and they love to inspire and influence others.

  1. Remember and Repeat

When you can repeat someone’s name or use it as an example when you’re talking to them, this is a great way of subtly complimenting them without the cheesy try-hard lines.

They will really respect that you remember their name, because it makes them feel special and worth talking to.

What I do when I meet people is I use a one-line command on myself just before I introduce myself to them.

And that’s another key…..

Always introduce yourself first, instead of sitting back waiting for someone else to introduce you.

And once you do and you ask for their name, talk to your subconscious and say this one-line command to yourself: “Remember his or her name.” Do it just before you go in for the introduction.

This forces you to focus on their reply, and it also activates the subconscious to pay attention so you can better recall their name from your memory later in the conversation.

When they say their name, repeat it once back to them and a few times over in your head.

Even drop their name in there now and then throughout the conversation, during every second or third question question. Doing so helps cement their name in your memory

I’ve done it over the years with a huge success.

  1. Master Your Other Language

The next key to charisma would be to watch your body language. It’s proven that body language can increase your level of confidence dramatically.

Body language is a language any nationality can understand.

People unconsciously read your body movement and facial expressions as you approach them so if you have certainty and posture and you are authentically happy and positive then this will show up as charisma to others.

Something I learned during my training with Tony Robbins is, if you stand in a Superman’s pose, or Superhero pose, tall with your chin up, your feet shoulder-width apart, with your hands on your hips and are looking up towards the sky and you hold this for a few minutes, this is scientifically proven to alter your state and raise your level of confidence.

And confidence is a huge component of charisma. People will admire you for your confidence, usually because most people struggle with being confident themselves.

So remember this: Your body follows your mind. Your body is the unconscious.

That’s why people are able to visualize things and imagine things like temperatures and sensations and physically feel it, even when in reality nothing is there or happening to them in the physical.

So now knowing “how you feel” can affect your facial expressions, and body language, wouldn’t it be a great idea to start imaging yourself with supreme confidence?

Like you’re a freakin’ superhero! Get so good at this that you can activate this on command.

This can be achieved through practice.

  1. Your Eyes Say Everything

People feel the confidence in you when you can hold good eye contact.

Just don’t be a freak about it. It’s not a stare off.

If you find it hard in the beginning to hold eye contact, stare right in the middle of someone’s head between their eyes where the top of their nose starts.

It looks like you’re staring straight into their eyes. That’s another neat little trick, so give it a try. You won’t feel nervous at all.

  1. No More Complaining

Another key for charisma is to stay away from negative conversation. Make the effort every day to not complain.

Keep the conversation positive. Even if someone is negative and you keep sharing the light, they can’t help but to get a little bit of the residual positive on them to.

When they think of you, they remember you and your conversations as a positive experience.

Keep diverting the conversation to a positive note. So that way others around you know that you set the standard, expecting positive conversations and nothing less.

  1. Good Words Go Far

Genuinely compliment people. This takes years of practice. Most people don’t pay attention to detail and they miss out on the opportunity to compliment others. That’s why when you do compliment someone, (once again, genuinely), this really stands out.

I know women are better at this, so imagine hearing a compliment or two from a guy when it’s least expected?

And don’t forget to be a little more expressive when you talk, with your body language and with your facial expressions. You paint a better picture this way when you share stories. You want people you come across to remember your stories and the conversations you had with them over the boring stand still conversations they may have had that day with others.

Conclusion

So you now have a good number of things you can work with to increase your charisma.

If you can put this into practice you’ll have an amazing influence over others and be able to lead in a more compelling way.

There’s great power in being a highly charismatic person.

We unconsciously pick up, frame by frame on the facial expressions, body language and energy of the other person, so whoever is more influential, confident, charming or appealing, this is going to influence the other less certain and switched on individual.

Remember: Charisma is the transference of enthusiasm. That means having the passion, energy and spirit and sharing that with others to feel the same.

If this helps you to remember what it means to be charismatic then live by this.

10 People Who Became Wildly Successful After Facing Rejection

Sometimes, you jump out of the gate with a great idea that you can polish and run with. Everything’s going well — until you get hit with a failure. Failure punches you in the gut, leaving you with throbbing wounds and the inability to do anything but moan about what might have been.

But take heart — failure isn’t the end, unless you let it be. Failure means you’re on the road so many others have taken to success. Don’t believe me? Here are 10 people who lived through failure before going on to become names known around the world:

  1. Milton Hershey

Image credit: Hersheys.com

The man who blessed us with the sweet milk-chocolate treat we all love wasn’t a hit the first time around. Before launching his own candy business, he had worked for a local candy factory. But when he decided to go out on his own, he failed miserably.

Despite two more failures, he returned to the family farm and perfected the art of making delicious milk-chocolate candy, which we enjoy in the form of Hershey chocolate today.

Related: 6 GOP Presidential Candidates Who Are Examples of Overcoming Failure

  1. Theodor Giesel

Image credit: WikiCommons

This author struggled to write a novel that publishing companies would call something other than “pure rubbish” several times — 27 to be exact. The man just wouldn’t quit, though.

One fateful night, he ran into an old friend who had recently taken over as a children’s literature editor. The friend agreed to publish Giesel’s work. Better known today as Dr. Seuss, Giesel was never again called a failure after his first book struck it big.

  1. Albert Einstein

Image credit: WikiCommons

Despite being known as a true genius in the present day, this intellectual didn’t have a great start (to say he was running behind is an understatement). As a kid, he didn’t begin to speak a word until he was 4 years old. A few years later, his elementary school teachers considered him lazy because he would ask abstract questions that made no sense to others.

He kept on anyway, eventually formulating the theory of relativity — something most of us still can’t understand today.

  1. Benjamin Franklin

Image credit: WikiCommons

A founding father, the inventor of bifocals and the lightning rod and elementary-school dropout — it sounds crazy, but this is an accurate description of Franklin.

His family couldn’t afford to finance his education after his 10th birthday, but that didn’t stop him. He read books like crazy and took every opportunity he could to learn. Ironically, Franklin is now found in the history books that 10-year-old kids around the world read every day.

  1. Stephen King

Image credit: Stephen King | Facebook

King is a best-selling writer (currently 350 million books sold and climbing) whose work has been made into several motion pictures. However, his first work was rejected 30 times, which lead to King throwing it in the trash. Thankfully, his wife made him keep working at it, and — from that inauspicious start — Carrie was born.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Oprah Winfrey

Image credit: Oprah Winfrey | Facebook

To many, losing a child is worse than losing a business. Oprah lived through this hellish reality after giving birth at 14. She managed to not only overcome this, but also being repeatedly molested by her cousin, uncle and a family friend. Despite her tragic past, she has worked hard to become a success and amass a net worth of $2.9 billion.

  1. Thomas Edison

Image credit: WikiCommons

Edison may just hold the record for most failed attempts before reaching success on a single project, having failed several thousand times before inventing a functional light bulb. His response has become famous to entrepreneurs: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Michael Jordan

As a kid, Jordan loved basketball and knew he wanted to make a career out of it, though no coach would give him a chance because he was short. After using an inside connection to get into a basketball camp from which players for college teams were chosen, Jordan got noticed by a coach — who still chose not to invite him to the team.

Jordan returned home discouraged, but decided to prove the coach wrong. Now a member of the NBA Hall of Fame, just about everyone would agree he succeeded.

  1. Walt Disney

Image credit: WikiCommons

Disney began his career by being fired by a newspaper for not being creative enough. Later, his Mickey Mouse cartoons were rejected because they were deemed to be “too scary for women.” If that wasn’t enough, “The Three Little Pigs” was also turned down because it only had four characters.

Thankfully, we have the Disney company today because Walt chose not to listen to any of his critics and press forward towards his dreams.

  1. Kris Carr

Image credit: Kriscarr.com

We all get hit by unforeseen obstacles. For Carr, it was a rare cancer. Carr fought her disease head on with a new nutritional lifestyle, developing a career as a successful author and health coach in the process. Despite facing challenging circumstances from the start, she is now looked to as one the most knowledgeable experts on healthy living online today.

Ultimately, you’re no different than the people in the list above. We will all fail at one point or another. The important thing is to learn how to overcome failure and to keep pushing forward towards your dreams.

The Sad Saga of the $70,000 Minimum Salary Company

Image credit: Dan Price | Facebook

Real Leaders Don’t Follow

Hubris Kills Businesses. Humility Saves Them.

Steve Tobak

August 10, 2015

You’ve got to wonder what was going through his mind when Dan Price, the founding CEO of Gravity Payments, decided to raise the minimum salary at his 120-person credit-card-processing company to $70,000 over a three-year period.

The groundbreaking move was initially met with shock and applause by employees, about 70 of whom got raises while 30 or so saw their pay literally double overnight. And it made the 30-year-old entrepreneur an immediate folk hero in working-class America.

That was three months ago. Today, Price’s utopian vision of doing his part for income inequality by making sure all his employees had incomes that would make them happy – or so said the psychology research he read – is looking more than a little shortsighted in the cold light of reality.

Clearly, the entrepreneur acted impulsively, didn’t think things through, and, ultimately, he and his employees may pay a steep price for it. There are some very good reasons why none of you should even think about trying this sort of move at your own company today, tomorrow, or ever.

For one thing, it incentivizes the wrong employee behavior. Price lost some of his best people over his move and I can see why. An entry-level new hire who just clocks in and out is suddenly making almost as much as a veteran supervisor who busted her hump for years only to be rewarded with a miniscule raise.

Leveling the playing field all at once as he did breeds resentment and virtually eliminates the merits of meritocracy. You simply can’t raise the minimum salary that high without it having a negative ripple effect throughout the organization. You just can’t.

I have no problem with business owners who want to treat their employees well, but it’s something you have to consider and methodically build into the culture. Take Trader Joe’s, for example. Entry-level employees start out at a relatively low hourly rate but the benefits are generous and promotions are fast for those who excel over time. That’s the way to do it right.

Meanwhile, the research that initially inspired Price found that emotional well-being rose with income to a point – around $75,000 a year. But the exact cause of the subjects’ happiness is not at all clear. I would argue that it’s not just the money itself but also earning it and achieving financial goals that matter at least as much.

And I would hypothesize that outliers whose compensation is so far from the norm as to be unreasonable would likely breed some sort of resentment among their peers – not just co-workers but also among friends and associates outside the company. And that might increase feelings of guilt for being paid so much more than you’ve earned or deserve, thus diminishing happiness.

Which sort of brings us to the question of community and cultural responsibility. The story went viral, causing concern about employee morale among other small-business owners in the Seattle area. After all, it’s a rare business that can suddenly jack up payroll by more than 50 percent and survive. Think about it. If this suddenly became a national mandate, the U.S. would become Greece overnight.

That’s the great irony of being overly generous with employees. In time, it kills the company and then everyone’s out on the street.

Gravity Payments is profitable, but just barely. Annual revenues are about $150 million but this year’s profits are expected to be just $2.2 million, most of which will go toward the payroll increase. Price has already cut his own compensation down to $70,000 and is having to rent out his own house to make ends meet. And that’s just the beginning.

As the minimum salary ratchets up $60,000 in 2016 and $70,000 in 2017, there will be increased pressure to raise salaries across the board. Think about it. Why would a senior-level manager work hard and carry all that responsibility unless she earns quite a bit more than an entry-level sales rep?

Unfortunately, credit-card-processing companies have thin margins, so Gravity is going to have a tough time remaining solvent with such high payroll expenses. Sure, it can raise prices or cut back on service, but then it won’t be competitive. In other words, Price’s generosity may ultimately bankrupt the company, and where will that leave the employees he so wanted to help? Not very happy, that’s for sure.

Look, I seriously doubt if Price got to where he is without having a good head on his shoulders. He’s business savvy enough to have known all this. If that’s the case, and I think it is, that begs the question, “Why’d he do it in the first place?” That, I don’t know. But if he was feeling guilty about the wage gap and wanted to make himself feel better, this was not the way to do it.

Throwing money at people who didn’t earn it and don’t deserve it always ends up doing more harm than good in the long run.

Places Entrepreneurs Meet Investors

Image credit: Shutterstock

50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Jayson DeMers

August 13, 2015

Getting startup capital can be easy if you have a good idea and know the right investor. If you’ve spent serious time thinking about becoming an entrepreneur or you’re already in the early stages of business development, you probably already have a good idea (and if you don’t, you’re in the process of improving it). The bigger problem, then, is meeting the right investor.

Some people attribute this fortuitous meeting to luck or preexisting connections, but savvy entrepreneurs go out of their way to meet the right people. Like anything else in life, it comes down to being in the right place at the right time. While it’s virtually impossible to time things perfectly (since every investor is going to have a unique schedule), you can at least increase your chances of meeting the perfect candidate by scouting the right places.

Related: Finding Investors Is Expensive. Use These 7 Strategies to Reduce Your Risk.

These are the five most common places where entrepreneurs meet investors:

  1. Networking events

Networking events are designed to help people meet other people, and if there are investors in your area looking to pour money into a new startup, you can bet they’ll be scouting the local networking events.

Attending these events can take some getting used to, especially if you aren’t used to professional networking, but once you get a feel for the patterns of conversation and introduction, you’ll have no problem quickly identifying the people in the room who can help you get closer to your goals.

As an added bonus, you’ll have the opportunity to meet all kinds of new people who can also help grow your business, from mentors to partners and everything in between.

  1. Hackathons and competitions 

Most major cities sponsor occasional competitions that get programmers, entrepreneurs, marketers and other businesspeople together. Some of these work to launch new startups from scratch, while others simply work on solving collective problems.

Either way, these events are magnets for talent and new ideas, which also makes them magnets for investors. Get involved as a competitor or simply attend and start meeting some new people.

  1. Community organizations

Most active investors give back to their communities in more ways than just startup capital. They’re involved on local boards and community organizations as influencers, social activists or — quite frankly — because they want to keep up appearances.

Whatever the case may be, volunteer events and community organizations are perfect opportunities to meet new investors. Even if you don’t meet them directly, you can meet someone who does know them.

  1. LinkedIn and other networking platforms

LinkedIn is arguably the best professional networking platform because it appeals to such a wide audience. You may have already used LinkedIn to find a job, hire an employee or connect with a new acquaintance — so what’s stopping you from using it to find a potential investor? A handful of savvy searches can introduce you to a group of new investors, who you can then reach out to at your leisure.

Also consider the fact that there are other networking platforms online with even more specific intentions. Take, for instance, AngelList, which helps connect startup entrepreneurs with investors and workers.

  1. Mutual contacts

OK, I’ll admit it: this one is a method, not a physical location, but it’s still one of the most popular and most effective ways to meet new investors.

Some investors tend to avoid the spotlight, so it’s hard to meet them in person. Meeting them through a mutual contact is the only way to get an introduction. Others network like crazy, and even if you miss them at a networking event, it won’t be long before you meet someone who happens to know them.

Either way, meeting them through other people is the best way to get in contact. What types of people can introduce you to investors? It could be a colleague, neighbor, waiter or even a stranger — you just never know. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to use all the strategies above (and then some) to meet as many people as possible and keep them in your network.

If you’re having trouble meeting viable investors despite making appearances at the four locations above and going through your mutual contacts, there are two potential problems.

First, it could be that your idea is premature or underdeveloped, giving the investors you do meet reason to avoid you. The solution to this problem is reworking your idea, potentially from the ground up. Second, if your idea is solid, it could be that investors in your area simply aren’t biting. The solution to this second problem is seeking alternative means of funding, such as crowdfunding or startup loans.

There are always opportunities for those who seek them, so don’t give up when you first encounter a challenge.

The 10 Biggest Productivity Killers and How to Overcome Them

  1. Sitting in a cubicle

Image credit: Shutterstock

Working in a cubicle can feel downright claustrophobic. If you start to feel like the walls are closing in a bit, get up and go for a walk. Go around the block and get some sunshine or if you are working on deadline, even just a lap around the office can do you some good.

  1. Noisy co-workers

Image credit: Shutterstock

Though space can be limited, managers can help their employees by being flexible. Not everyone can work at the highest level in an open floor plan, so set aside private spaces or conference rooms for your colleagues to pop into. If they are most productive working part of the week remotely or working out of the coffee shop downstairs, let them try it out. And if all else fails, there are always noise-cancelling headphones

  1. Smoke breaks/snack breaks

Image credit: Shutterstock

Stepping out to puff a cigarette may feel like a release, but it can also disrupt your flow. It’s the same with raiding the snack table or fridge – the procrastinator’s favorite pastime. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t be snacking, but make sure trips to the kitchen aren’t just a way of you putting off work. Also, since what you choose can affect your energy, be sure to snack smart.

  1. Meetings

Image credit: Pixabay

If it feels like your meetings aren’t getting you anywhere, stop and reassess. Before any meeting, make certain that everyone who is involved is in the know. Be certain what you need to discuss and accomplish going in and make sure your colleagues feel comfortable asking questions and contributing ideas. Start and end the meeting on time and make sure you finish the meeting with an actionable plan.

  1. Co-worker chitchat

Image credit: Shutterstock

It’s good that you enjoy chatting with your coworkers. In many cases, you spend more of your time with them than your friends and family. Catching up on the weekend while waiting for the coffee maker or taking a few minutes to talk about a favorite TV show or book or ask after a family member is fine. Cracking jokes can make a time-intensive project go a little faster. Just make sure you aren’t blabbing too much.

  1. Email

Image credit: Pixabay

We could all be better at emailing. The time we spent managing our inboxes could certainly be used for other more pressing activities. But how can we make the seemingly insurmountable daily task work for us? You can set aside the same amount of time every day to focus just on responding to e-mail. In writing your emails, being brief and direct is best. And unsubscribe to any newsletters or spam mail that just clogs your inbox. And if the request is a small one, it might just make sense to walk over and talk to your colleague.
 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Social media

Image credit: Pixabay

Social media is fun and can be a great way to connect with other people in your industry, but there is a time and a place for it. If you’re working on a project, ask yourself whether it’s really necessary that you be perusing your sorority sister’s birthday photos on the side. (The answer is likely no.)  For those who can’t help themselves, perhaps a site blocker is necessary.
 

 

 

 

 

  1. Gossip

Image credit: Shutterstock

Office gossip can be a real drain on morale; no one wants to come to work and feel like they are back in high school. Good communication starts at the top. As an employer, be transparent about what’s happening with your company and any changes that could be afoot to avoid panic or misinformation

  1. The Internet

Image credit: Pixabay

If you find yourself clearing your search history more than a few times during the course of the work week, you might want to rethink how you’re using your work computer. Save the online shopping or paying your credit card for your personal time. For managers, depending on the needs of your business, you can always consider blocking sites that could be distracting or harmful, but you must be upfront about your rationale. You can also ask that your employees keep the personal errands to the lunch hour. Just make sure you’re clear and consistent in your expectations.

  1. Cell phones/texting

Image credit: Wilfred Iven | Flickr

Researchers have actually found that people get legitimately anxious if they are away from their phones for too long, so it’s no wonder that this one tops the list. What can you do during the workday to cut down on the habit and restore your focus? Etiquette expert and founder of National Cell Phone Courtesy Month Jacqueline Whitmore says if a personal call is truly urgent, step away to a more private space and address the issue without resorting to “cell yell.” You can also disable your push notifications on your phone so it doesn’t buzz every time you get a retweet or “like” on Facebook. And if a project requires all your attention, switch it off or put it in another room.

5 Keys to Running a Successful Business

By Megan Totka

There are a handful of principles that work in virtually every situation when you’re trying to establish and grow a business. They work if you’re trying to build an email list or close a sale. If you ignore them, you are almost certain to fail. If you do them halfway, you will soon be standing there watching your business as it is eclipsed by someone who is following all the principles, all the time.

So let’s not waste any more of our time. Here they are:

  1. Use Few Words

From an elevator pitch to a killer headline, the overriding principle is to use as few words as possible. If you can’t tell someone what you’re doing in a few sentences, your only hope is to eventually work for the government. If you can’t explain the benefit of your product or service in an extremely short sentence or phrase, give up. Look at these examples:

  • 1,000 songs in your pocket.
  • Lose 5 pounds in 1 week.
  • How to avoid lawyers.
  • Increase conversions 132%.

You can probably think of several short phrases that got you to go to a web page, or push “add to cart” or fill out a contact form. Putting a well-crafted, short, descriptive phrase in front of your ideal customer is very powerful.

  1. Make Things Easy and Obvious

Humans are by their very nature:

  1. Lazy
  2. Busy
  3. Both A and B

I don’t care how you answer that, because the implications for what you do are the same: You have to make things as easy—and obvious—as possible. This is true whether you have a brick-and-mortar store or a website, but it’s doubly true if you’re trying to accomplish something on the Internet, where patience is as scarce as hens’ teeth.

I am still constantly amazed how small Internet conventions that cause me no navigational problems are major stumbling blocks for others. Because you’re reading this on a sophisticated website frequented almost exclusively by people who live on the bleeding edge of new technologies, you are light years ahead of most Internet users.

Dumb down everything. Make your webpage logic simple and obvious .

  1. Sell the Benefit

Look at those sales phrases under the first point I made about keeping things short and sweet. Each one expresses a tangible benefit in six words or less. For many in business, it becomes difficult to separate the features from the benefits. Further, we tend to become so deeply in love with the features we have developed, we think that everyone should love them just as much.

Janet Jackson had a hit with the song What have you done for me lately? That’s what you should always be asking yourself in regards to your customers, and the important word is “done.” How will the action you want your prospects to perform benefit them?

  1. Repeat Everything

If you’ve watched a Little League game, you’ve heard the guys on the field yell, “Hey, batter batter! Hey, batter batter! Hey, batter batter!” They repeat everything! Things that work and are important should be repeated.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to share or credit something in the social media, but the page I was on didn’t have sharing icons or links to the social media accounts. They were on the front page, but not on inside pages. And because I might just be a little bit lazy sometimes (see #2 above) it’s possible I’ll just drop the idea of sharing or crediting the source.

Landing pages  also fall in this category. You should have a great landing page for all the different attributes or “hooks” that will pull someone into your website. They are almost free and it’s impossible to have too many.

  1. Always Distill

You need to have good analytics that show you what is working and what isn’t. With that information you are able to do more of the good stuff and stop doing the bad stuff. Pretty soon you have a business or website whose performance has significantly improved.

A business is never “finished.” If you aren’t always involved in an improvement project, the competition will eventually pass you.

A Simple 6-Step Process to Starting a Small Business

4 Important Keys That Will Unlock Your Fast Track to Success

Matthew Toren

August 06, 2015

A great small business always starts out as an idea, but you have to transform that idea into action. That’s where many individuals can start to feel overwhelmed. It’s understandable to freeze up at the deluge of things that are required to get a business started, but getting going is actually easier than you might think.

Like any big goal, if you start by breaking it down into smaller tasks, you’ll be able to tackle enough of the actions necessary to get started. Here are six ways to break down the process and simplify getting started with your own small business.

  1. Write a one-page business plan.

The key to a successful small business, especially in the startup phase, is to keep things simple and costs low. Costs don’t just mean your monetary costs, but also your time.

Many would-be small-business owners fall into the trap of trying to create the world’s biggest and most robust business plan. You’re only going to need that if you’re seeking investment or financing, and even if you will be seeking either of those things down the road, I always recommend small-business owners start out with by testing their ideas first before investing lots of time and money.

Related: Why You Must Really Know Yourself Before Starting a Business

So to get started, create your own simple, one-page business plan that is a high-level overview of the small business you’re about to start.

  1. Define your vision. What will be the end result of your business?
  2. Define your mission. Different to a vision, your mission should explain the reason your company exists.
  3. Define your objectives. What are you going to do — what are your goals — that will lead to the accomplishment of your mission and your vision?
  4. Outline your basic strategies. How are you going to achieve the objectives you just bulleted?
  5. Write a simple action plan. Bullet out the smaller task-oriented actions required to achieve the stated objectives.

That’s it. It might be longer than one page, but it will surely be more organized and shorter than a full business plan, which could take weeks to write. If you need more information on the one-page business plan, or want to write out a full-blown finance-centered business plan, you can check out the book I co-wrote with my brother that has a robust explanation of both, Small Business, Big Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market From Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who did it Right.

  1. Decide on a budget.

While I highly recommend you keep your costs as low as possible, you’ll still need to determine a budget to get started and how much you’ll be able to spend. If you’re self funding, be realistic about numbers and whatever you anticipate your budget to be. I’ve found that an additional 20 percent tacked on for incidentals is a realistic overage amount that helps you plan your burn rate.

Your burn rate is how much cash you’re spending month over month. It’s an important number for you to figure out to determine how long you can stay in business before you need to turn a profit.

You should set up your business with profitability in mind the first 30 to 90 days. It’s possible. But have a budget reserve so you can survive if things go leaner than expected.

  1. Decide on a legal entity.

Filing paperwork to start a business costs money. Often, depending on your state, it can be a lot of money. You’ll need to account for city or municipality licensing, state incorporation or business entity fees and more. Do a thorough search ahead of time to determine what the filing fees are for your city, county and state before starting any business.

Often in the initial “test” phase for your small business, it can be wise to start as a sole proprietor, as it means less paperwork and up-front expenses. That can save you some big-time cash while you determine the viability of your business. Do be aware though that acting as a sole proprietor can put you at personal risk, so you’ll want to weigh the benefits vs. risks and then speak with a local attorney or tax professional to decide which is smarter for your short-term vs. long-term goals.

You can always file for a business entity once you’ve proven in the first three to six months of business that you’ve got a viable, sustainable model.

Related: When Starting a Business, Beware All the Taxes and Regulations

  1. Take care of the money.

Whatever business entity you decide on, keep the funds separate from your personal accounts. This is a big mistake that makes tax time and financials so confusing. It’s really easy to set up a free business checking account with your local credit union or bank. All you’ll need is your filing paperwork, sole proprietor licensing information and an initial deposit to get set up from most financial institutions.

Don’t pay for an account or get any kind of credit lines yet, just get a holding place you can keep your money separated from your personal accounts. This should take you no more than hour at the financial institution of your choice.

  1. Get your website.

Regardless of whether your business will be brick or mortar or online, you’ll need a website and that means securing a URL. Popular domain sites such as HostGator and Go Daddy will allow you to search for the website domain address of your choice and purchase it for as little as $9.99.

If you’re starting an online business, you can tie your domain to an online shopping cart and store front such as Shopify for a low monthly fee, or you can build a basic website yourself on top of your URL with do-it-yourself drag-and-drop site builders such as Weebly for a low fee. Both are less than $100 a month.

  1. Test sales.

You have enough of a foundation now that you can start testing some sales. Try to spread the word in inexpensive and creative ways.

If you have a service-based business, get involved with your local chamber of commerce or small-business chapter immediately and ask what resources are available for you to speak, present or share information about your business. If you have a product-based business, test the viability of your product at local swap meets, farmers markets or other community events to test what the public really thinks (and if they’ll purchase) from you.

Drive traffic to your website through simple Facebook Ads with capped budgets, or set up a simple Google AdWords account with a budget cap to test if traffic is going to your site.

You can follow these six steps by yourself for not a lot of money. It’s a fantastic way to test the viability of your small business before throwing all your time and money into an unproven idea.

Tony Robbins’ Tips For Getting Out of a ‘Funk’

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Tony Robbins gives tips for a compelling future

During an interview on FOX Business Network’s Cavuto: Coast to Coast, entrepreneur Tony Robbins said America is lacking a vision.

“As corny as it sounds, everyone needs a compelling future,” he said. “Everybody needs something to move towards. If you don’t have something to move towards, you settle for where things are and you get upset with where things are.”

Robbins reflected on the history of the country and how, at different times, there were different types of visions held by American leaders.

“[President] Kennedy brought a vision…It’s like we’re going to go to the moon. In various stages people have visions… we’re going to bring back America. What’s our vision right now… to pay our bills?”

The entrepreneur and motivational speaker explained his approach to helping people.

“It’s not about being positive, it’s about being smart,” Robbins said. “When you’re in a lousy state you treat other people poorly, your family poorly, you perform poorly. When you’re in your best state, you’re going to use your capabilities more. But right now, we’re missing a compelling future. We’re missing somebody saying ‘this is what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it.’”

 

This Productivity Hack Completely Changed My Life, and It Can Improve Yours

Image credit: Hadrian | Shutterstock | Enhanced by Entrepreneur

  1. Schedule your time blocks. 

At the beginning of the week (I like Sunday evenings), sit down and deliberately and specifically define your week. Physically write it on your desk calendar or make the dates in your computer’s calendar.

  1. Find a quiet place to work with no interruptions.

You may need to leave the office or your home to accomplish your task. Coffee shops, rented office space, the local park — you get the idea. Pick a spot that will help you focus with minimal distractions.

  1. Let others know.

If you work closely with other people, let them know (politely) that you’ll be head down in some significant work for your time block, and you’ll be checking your email when you return. Be sure to let someone know where you are, though, in case there truly is a life-or-death emergency.

  1. Turn off your phone and other tech traps.

I know, blasphemy! But your cell phone will rob you of your productivity. Turn it off, along with anything else that will rob you of your time.

  1. Be held accountable.

As with any new habit, it’s a good idea to allow someone else to hold you accountable. Whether that’s an individual, a mastermind group or some other structure, you are more likely to hold to your goals when other people are helping you keep your promises to yourself.

  1. Keep your promise to yourself.

Finally, in the words of Nike, “just do it!” Actually sit down and work on your most important projects for your time block. Don’t let anything stop you!

Time blocking has completely changed my life, and I believe it can change yours. People will begin to ask you, as they often inquire of me, “How do you get so much done?”

You’ll be able to look at them, smile, and reply: “time blocking!”

Need a Business Idea? Here are 55

Today, tens of thousands of people are considering starting a home based business, and for good reasons. On average, people can expect to have two and three careers during their work life. Those leaving one career often think about their second or third career move being to their own home. People who have been part of the traditional nine-to-five work force and are on the verge of retiring from that life are thinking of what to do next. The good news: Starting a homebased business is within the reach of almost anyone who wants to take a risk and work hard.

$1,500 or less to start up

  1. ACCOUNTANT
    Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Create a flier outlining your services. Before you do that, you need to know what those services will be. Do you want to simply do bookkeeping for a small business? A more involved level of accounting would be do actually work up balance sheets, income statements, and other financial reports on a monthly, quarterly, and/or annual basis, depending on the needs of the business. Other specializations can include tax accounting, a huge area of potential work. Many business owners don’t mind keeping their own day-to-day bookkeeping records but would rather get professional help with their taxes.

  1. BICYCLE REPAIR

In many parts of the country, this business tends to be seasonal, but you can find ways around that. Rent a storage unit and offer to store people’s bicycles over the winter after you do a tune-up and any needed repairs on them. If you want to cater to the Lance Armstrong wannabes, you can have business all year round. These road race riders are training through snow, sleet and dark of night. Some of them work on their own bicycles, but many of them don’t, so you can get their business all year. And if you keep Saturday shop hours, you can be sure you will have a group of enthusiasts coming by to talk all things cycling.

  1. BOAT CLEANING
    Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Boats that are hauled out of the water for the winter or even just for mid-season repairs will need the hull cleaned. And depending on the type of boat, it is a good time to give a major cleaning everything else too–the decks, the sleeping quarters, the head, and the holds. Start by approaching homes that have a boat sitting in the yard. Or you could market your services to the marina to contract you to do the boat cleaning it offers to customers.

  1. BUSINESS PLAN SERVICE
    Has expansion possibilities

Offer a soup-to-nuts business plan, including market research, the business plan narrative and the financial statements. Plan your fee around the main one that the client will want and offer the others as add-on services. You can give clients an electronic file and allow them to take it from there, or you can keep the business plan on file and offer the service of tweaking it whenever necessary. Have business plan samples to show clients–and make sure to include your own!

  1. CHIMNEY SWEEP

Learning to be a chimney sweep may mean nothing more than apprenticing with someone already in the business. By becoming a chimney expert, you can combine a chimney sweep business with a chimney inspection service–covering more than just whether or not the chimney needs cleaning but whether the chimney is in good working order or in need of repair.

  1. CLEANING SERVICE

There are many directions you can take this business. If you want to work during hours when no one else does, you can focus on office clients. You can focus on retail businesses and keep your customers clumped into one or two blocks. Restaurants are in great need of daily thorough cleaning and can be a great source of steady clients. Perhaps you would be more interested in house cleaning. Many times with cleaning services you don’t have to spend lots of money on advertising or marketing because your customers will come by word of mouth.

To learn more about this business idea, check out Start Your Own Cleaning Service.

  1. COMPUTER REPAIR
    Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Study the main types of software that system users will want–word processing, photo manipulation software, mail merge, spreadsheet, design and especially security software. Investigate all the components–monitor types in all their varieties; keyboards, from wired to ergonomic to wireless; mouse types; as well as peripheral components like printers and scanners. Become completely familiar with all the ISPs (internet service providers) available in the market area you plan to cover. Establish yourself as the guru who can meet the needs of the personal computer user, the small business or a larger corporation.

  1. CONSULTANT
    Has expansion possibilities

To be a consultant, you need to have an expertise in something so you can market yourself as an advisor to others looking to work in that area. Perhaps you managed several large warehouses in your career with a drugstore company, you did all the marketing for many years for a large shoe manufacturer or you set up a chain of beauty supply shops or take-out restaurants. You can use this experience to help others do similar things without making the same mistakes that you made along the way.

To learn more about this business idea, check out Start Your Own Consulting Business.

  1. DOG BREEDER

Experience, training, or licensing may be needed

Pets are phenomenally popular in the U.S. While many people are willing to adopt from animal shelters, others are looking for a specific breed. Purebred dogs are more popular than ever and can command large sums of money. But becoming a dog breeder is serious business catering to savvy consumers with high expectations of their pet purchases. You will need to establish yourself as a conscientious breeder who cares about the health and welfare of the animals you bring into the world.

  1. EBAY ASSISTANT

Do you have items lurking around your household that you could sell on eBay? Figure out your asking price and decide whether to auction it or put it in your eBay store. Then decide if you want a minimum bid and how long you want the auction to last. You will want to establish a PayPal account to use for transactions. The eBay website provides all the information you need to know to get up and running with an eBay business.

From Editorial Services to Household Organizer

  1. EDITORIAL SERVICES
    Has expansion possibilities

Here are some of the editorial services you can provide from the quiet of your own home:

  • Copyediting. This is where fact checking takes place, and where grammatical, stylistic and typographical errors are caught.
  • Proofreading. This is the last stop for a “finished” piece. The proofreader makes sure the copyediting changes have been properly made and no new errors are created in the process.
  • Indexing. There are indexing courses available and you can get indexing software.
  • Developmental editing. A developmental editor works with a manuscript on big-picture things like organization and content issues.
  • Book doctoring. This is an editorial service provided for manuscripts written by experts. They create a manuscript as best they can and then a book doctor puts it into publishable shape.
  • Ghost Writing. As a ghost writer, you actually do the research and write the book and someone else’s name is attached as the author.
  • Copywriting. Also known as business writing, this is writing that promotes a product or a service.
  • Book writing. Do you have an expertise in something professional, such as accounting or interior decorating? Or personally, like knitting? Why not write a book about it?
  • Magazine article writing. Magazines and newspapers are a great way to get your writing published before tackling the daunting task of writing a whole book.
  • Web page content provider. Providing content for a web site is a good way to make some money writing.

To learn more about this business idea, check out Start Your Own Freelance Writing Business and More.

  1. ELECTRONICS REPAIR
    Has expansion possibilities

This business is similar to the computer repair business, but you will take on all sorts of electronic equipment besides just computers. With smaller electronics, you will need to be prepared to have customers bring their repair projects to you, as you would have difficulty recovering the cost of driving around picking up broken equipment and returning it. You may also want to encourage people to give you their old electronics so you can use them for parts.

  1. EVENT PLANNING
    Has expansion possibilities

One of the first things you need to do is visit every potential event location with which you plan to work. Work with the marketing manager to tour each site and learn what is available at each location. Start a database that will allow you to sort venues by varying features–the number of people each site holds, if there is AV equipment available on site, will you need to arrange for rental chairs, etc. Then when you are beginning to plan an event with a client, you can find out what the key parameters are for the event and easily pull up the three or four sites that meet the basic criteria. and engagement parties, etc.

To learn more about this business idea, check out Start Your Own Event Planning Business.

  1. EXPERT WITNESS SERVICE
    Experience, training or licensing may be needed

One way to make money in this field is by being an expert witness yourself. If you have an expertise that could be useful in legal cases, you can market yourself to attorneys to act as an expert witness. Another way to be active in the expert witness field is to play a sort of matchmaker, matching attorneys up with expert witnesses for their cases–either for the defense or for the prosecution. Expert witnesses for big money cases can be expected to fly anywhere to testify. There’s no reason your database of witnesses can’t be from all parts of the country.

  1. FINANCIAL PLANNER
    Experience, training or licensing may be needed

To start, you should go through the certification process so that you can label yourself a CFP (Certified Financial Planner). Your certificate shows that you have expertise and credibility, and this differentiation will help people choose you as their financial planner.

For more information and details on certification, click here. http://www.cfp.net/become/Steps.asp

  1. FLEA MARKET
    Has expansion possibilities

People love to spend weekends rummaging through tables full of other people’s unwanted items, looking for treasures. Make sure to change your layout and put new stuff out for sale often. You want people to come back time and again to see what’s new. You don’t even have to have that much new stuff to make things look new. Just moving an item from a table to the top of a bookshelf might get it noticed, even though the item has been in your inventory since you first started having sales.

  1. GOLF COACH
    Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Let the local public courses know about your coaching business. Cultivate relationships with the staff and encourage them to recommend you as a coach. Another place to look for customers is the corporate world. Golfing is a game that business people use to develop relationships outside the office. You do need to be a better than average golfer to develop a reputation as a golf coach. You also need to be a good teacher, know how to be motivational and be willing to work with many different types of people.

  1. HOME ENERGY AUDITOR
    Experience, training or licensing may be needed

All homeowners are always on the lookout for ways to save on their utility bills. You can come to their aid by providing them with an audit of their house and giving them a breakdown of how they could accomplish real savings in heating, cooling and electrical use. You can go one step further and do the implementation and installation of some of your suggestions in their home yourself. Do a complete appliance audit, with efficiency ratings and calculations based on the age of the appliance. And don’t forget the water heater!

  1. HOME INSPECTION
    Experience, training or licensing may be needed

In order to be successful, you will want to establish contacts with real estate agents who can recommend your services to customers. The home inspection field is one where you will need to do constant updating of your education and knowledge. New products are constantly coming out on the market–if you only know about decks made of wood, you will not know how to inspect and assess the new materials on the market, such as composites that are made to look like real wood. Also keep apprised of all safety updates of materials and issues with things like off-gassing, carbon monoxide production, and other chemical precautions.

To learn more about this business idea, check out Start Your Own Home Inspection Service.

  1. HOUSEHOLD ORGANIZER
    Has expansion possibilities

You can choose either to do the organizing work or to come in to a home and consult on the things the homeowner could do to better organize. Have a portfolio of different organizational scenarios in different rooms in the home and talk with the homeowner about the style he or she likes. Create checklists and questionnaires to understand how the family uses the home. Are the kids wildly busy with after-school activities? Or are they usually home after school and want access to their toys? Do they share rooms? All of these things will help you tailor an organizing plan and become the family hero.

From Import/Export to Solar Energy

  1. IMPORT/EXPORT SPECIALIST
    Experience, training or licensing may be needed

If you don’t already have work experience with importing and/or exporting, you will have a longer learning curve. You can start by learning the basics and hosting educational sessions to teach others what they need to know to get started in import/export. That alone would probably gain you your first couple of clients. If you keep going with educational seminars and expand your reach to outside your immediate region, you could probably develop a sufficient and ongoing customer base very quickly, but be careful not to outpace your learning curve!

To learn more about this business idea, check out Start Your Own Import/Export Business.

  1. INTERIOR DECORATOR
    Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Market your talents to building contractors. People purchasing new homes can often be overwhelmed with the choices and possibilities in home decorating. Design some questionnaires for each major element and each major room in the house. Find out how the homeowner will use the home–are there children? Pets? Does the woman of the house wear high heels? Do the home’s residents neglect to remove shoes? How will each room be used? Where might task lighting and ambient lighting be most appropriate?

  1. JEWELRY MAKING
    Experience, training or licensing may be needed

There are many different ways of getting into the jewelry business and many different types of materials with which you can work. Working in metal will probably require the most in the way of specific tools. You need to be able to heat the metal to manipulate it, and you need metalworking tools to cut and engrave it. But there are many other materials that you can work with to make jewelry–glass, plastic, beads, feathers, even wood, to name just a few.

  1. MARKETING COPY WRITER
    Experience, training or licensing may be needed

If you can write copy that gets people excited about purchasing what your client has to sell, you can make good money in this business. Unless you are highly experienced from working in the copywriting field, take a course. There are online courses or classes at community colleges and universities that can give you a leg up in getting savvy at writing copy for brochures, catalogs, advertising and, of course, marketing copy for the web.

  1. NOTARY PUBLIC/JUSTICE OF THE PEACE
    Experience, training or licensing may be needed

In most states in the U.S., a notary public is a state officer who is authorized to witness and attest to the legalities of certain documents by signature and stamping a seal. Most states require that you pass an exam and a background check. It costs very little to become a notary and your income from notary work is negligible. A justice of the peace typically performs wedding ceremonies. States have varying rules and procedures for becoming a JP and performing services. Becoming a JP and/or notary public does not cost much money. And it is not a big moneymaking venture! Many states set the fees you can charge for JP services. JPs can add additional fees, and often do, including travel and hourly rates for additional meetings such as rehearsals, other prep time and any special requests.

  1. PERSONAL CONCIERGE

This business is for someone who is supremely efficient and has the ability to make things happen. People who hire you will expect things when they want them and you need to be able to come through with not only what they want, but with a personal touch and a smile on your face. The most likely clients for a personal concierge service are top executives who find themselves at the office by 7 a.m. and are there most nights until 9 p.m., leaving them very little time to do all those things that often need to be done during those very hours.

To learn more about this business idea, check out Start Your Own Personal Concierge Business.

  1. PERSONAL TRAINER
    Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Advertise your services in places where everyone goes, like restaurants and grocery stores. Having a website is a good idea–people want some privacy in their decision-making when it comes to getting fit. They can go to your website and determine if your approach to personal training is an approach that would work for them. It is important to emphasize the safety aspect of using a personal trainer. You can help clients get fit and avoid injury.

To learn more about this business idea, check out Start Your Own Personal Training Business.

  1. PROPERTY MANAGEMENT

Your job, in the case of rental units, will be to make sure the property is running smoothly. For seasonal properties, you will most likely spend your management time making sure the property is ready for seasonal visits and well-maintained when no one is around. If the owners go away for six weeks in the winter, the property manager makes regular checks on the property. You will be the contact number if the security system operator needs to contact someone about a breach in security.

  1. SMALL ENGINE REPAIR

Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Most community colleges offer some level of engine-repair courses. Another way to learn would be to take a part-time position at a repair shop or a rental facility where you could learn on the job, although you will want to be open about your plans. You should be prepared to work on push-behind lawn mowers, riding lawn mowers, generators, garden tools such as rototillers and edgers, chainsaws, wood chippers and snowblowers. You need to decide whether you’ll want to take on bigger jobs, such as tractors, snowmobiles and ATVs; space may be your decision-maker.

  1. SOLAR ENERGY CONSULTANT
    Experience, training or licensing may be needed
    Has expansion possibilities

As a solar consultant, you can basically conduct a home inspection and give clients a report on their solar options for their particular home and site. This can range from full-fledged general solar installations that generate electricity to simple solar walkway lighting. You might want to start by working in a solar products company to become knowledgeable in the solar energy field. However, to be a consultant, it is often best not to be affiliated with any one company or product and be able to recommend products and options across the field of solar energy.

From Tax Preparer to Graphic Design

  1. TAX PREPARER
    Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Most tax preparation franchises offer courses, seminars, and training to get you ready to work for them. You will learn a lot about tax preparation while working for them before going out on your own. There is a lot of educational support out there to learn tax preparation and all its complexities. And there are lots of individuals and businesses willing to spend a few hundred dollars a year to have someone else prepare their taxes and keep watch for tax breaks or tax burdens on their behalf.

  1. TAXIDERMIST
    Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Today’s world of taxidermy isn’t exclusive to preserving real specimens. Taxidermy also refers to recreating a specimen using completely artificial materials. Taxidermy schools where you can learn the trade are located almost throughout the country, typically as courses over several weeks specializing in certain levels of expertise, from beginner to master’s level. Like any enterprise, there are taxidermy conventions that you can attend and learn about the latest techniques and materials.

  1. UPHOLSTERING

If you have a knack for sewing, upholstery repair might be a perfect business for you. One of the best ways to learn how to upholster is to get some discarded upholstered furniture and start tearing it apart. Many books and some videos are available to help you learn this trade. Often furniture ready for upholstering will also need repairs. Have a list available of furniture repair people you can recommend to your customers. Or you can take the piece in, have repair people you work with do this work for you, and add it to the overall cost. You can also learn to do this work, especially minor repairs, yourself.

  1. USED BOOK SALES

Almost everyone has a few boxes of books stashed away in the house somewhere. Why not make a business out of them? In order to gain customers–especially repeat customers–you will need to have some regular shop hours. Make your shop known for something-a specific category (or two) of books, having some first editions for sale, all paperbacks a dollar and all hardcovers two bucks, and/or a swap program. Maps, illustrations, postcards, greeting cards and magazines are good sidelines to include in your shop.

  1. WEDDING PLANNER

You will need to be up-to-date on wedding trends and fads, dress styles, color trends–almost everything under the sun! Offer your customers an ala carte menu of services, from helping pick flowers, the wedding gown and bridesmaid dresses to picking the venue and hiring the caterer. Before you open your business, shop at all the wedding shops, and even pretend you are a bride-to-be to see what kinds of services the wedding gown shop provides and how they treat potential customers. You need to know every detail of the business to give the accurate impression that you are the go-to person for anyone planning a wedding.

$1,500 to 3,000 to start up

To learn more about this business idea, check out Start Your Own Wedding Consultant Business.

  1. APPLIANCE REPAIR
    Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Every household has a number of appliances, large and small. You can work on your own or on contract with appliance stores to cover their warranty service calls–or, best of all, you can do some of each. Plan to start slow and build your customer base on recommendations and referrals based on work well done. Consider developing relationships with contractors to be the go-to person to install appliances in newly constructed houses.

  1. COMPUTER TRAINING
    Experience, training or licensing may be needed
    Has expansion possibilities

If you are proficient in both Macintosh and PC, you should offer training in both types of computers. You could probably make a living helping seniors learn how to use the internet and e-mail to keep in touch with their loved ones, who are now commonly spread around the country. Err on the side of caution in this business. People do not want to know all the details about what makes a computer work. If you overload them with information from the beginning by explaining bits, bytes, and megapixels, they will stick to their paper and pencil forever.

  1. DESKTOP PUBLISHER
    Experience, training or licensing may be needed

You can use desktop publishing software to create newsletters, magazines, books or even marketing materials. You can create the content for your desktop publications, or you can pay a writer to create the content for you. Alternatively, you can advertise your desktop publishing services to design and create newsletters and books for others with their content.

  1. FENCE INSTALLATIONS

Fences are everywhere. And they don’t last forever, so they need to be repaired and replaced with a certain amount of frequency. The most common fence material is wood. However, vinyl has become a popular fence choice due to its longevity and relative freedom from maintenance. Wrought iron is another common fencing, especially in urban environments. You can have fun shopping for vintage wrought iron fencing at salvage yards.

  1. FREELANCE GRAPHIC DESIGNER
    Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Despite the proliferation of the internet, print media is here to stay for the foreseeable future! Fliers, newsletters, magazines, information sheets, letters and advertisements are just a few of the types of print media that business hire freelancers to create for them. Websites and online advertising need graphic design services as well. Even if your expertise is only in design, offer the works for potential clients, including the editorial creation and the printing and even mailing of the final piece. You can line up regular freelancers for those parts of the job you can’t do.

To learn more about this business idea, check out Start Your Own Graphic Design Business.

From Gift Baskets to Rug Cleaning

  1. GIFT BASKET SERVICE
    Has expansion possibilities

Finding a niche is the best way to start out in the gift basket business. Are you a dog lover, horse lover, or exercise guru who could put together baskets that hold the things that people with this interest would like? Do you already create a product that a gift basket could be built around? Have you made your own soaps for the past 10 years? A gift basket that included one or two of your soaps, hand lotion, a scrub brush and manicure kit could be a lovely basket to receive.

To learn more about this business idea, check out Start Your Own Gift Basket Business and More.

  1. GRAFFITI REMOVAL

Create an arsenal of cleaning products that can clean almost every kind of product (paint, chalk, markers) from every kind of surface (cement, wood, pavement). The best way to conduct a graffiti service is to offer a subscription-like arrangement. Once a month or whatever interval makes sense for your clients, go around to their property and clean off the graffiti. Charge them a monthly or quarterly fee and make it simple for everyone–they don’t have to think about graffiti, and you just do your job.

  1. HAIRSTYLIST
    Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Hairstyling is a popular business that can be quite lucrative. Generally a home based hairstylist business is likely to be started by someone who has already has a cosmetology career and wants a change. If you already have your cosmetology training and license, and loads of experience under your belt working in a hairstyling salon, you probably have a following that will follow you right home without any hesitation.

  1. HERBAL FARM STAND
    You need to decide whether you will sell your herbs as live plants, picked or cut in bunches and packed, or dried. If you plan to market to cooks instead of gardeners, you will want to sell your herbs either fresh cut and packed in sealed bags, or dried and sold in baggies. You can also consider a “pick-your-own” arrangement; however, be aware that herbs are more delicate than most P.Y.O products. You may save your garden a lot of strife and your plants a lot of wear and tear if you do the picking.
  2. LANDSCAPER
    Experience, training or licensing may be needed

If you have a knack for this type of work, a degree won’t be necessary. Most people want their yards tidied up in the spring, their lawns mowed in the summer, their leaves removed in the fall, and their shrubs and driveways ready for winter snow. You will also want to offer garden work such as spring planting of annuals and perennials; vegetable garden preparation, planting and fall cleanup; pest control and watering. You can offer tree care service. There is plenty to do in the yard that has nothing to do with plants: stone wall restoration, fencing, irrigation system installation.

To learn more about this business idea, check out Start Your Own Lawn or Landscaping Business.

  1. MASSAGE THERAPIST
    Experience, training or licensing may be needed

You will want to become certified in massage therapy to be able to effectively market your services. Courses that lead to certification include not only information on human anatomy and physiology and the effects that massage has on both, but also on how to make a business out of the field of massage. You could do either a certification program or an associate’s degree and stay within the $5,000 scope of this book.

  1. MOVING SERVICE

Lots of people who are moving want to hire someone to do the heavy lifting for them. You can leave the large-scale, long-distance moving to the big moving companies. Your work can be the local, moving-across-town or to the town-next-door jobs. These are the ones that people start off thinking perhaps they could do themselves, and it will be your job to convince them otherwise. Your signs around town will tempt them to let you take care of that part of the move, while they are busy taking care of those other 500 items on their list.

  1. MUSIC LESSONS
    Experience, training or licensing may be needed

You want to stick to the instrument(s) you know, but you may be a skilled enough musician to offer lessons on several different instruments, or those in a particular class, e.g., stringed or woodwind.You can decide to take on individuals or classes, depending on space and availability of instruments. Public schools are continually reducing their commitment to art and music classes for students, so you can try to work with the public school system to supplement their efforts in those areas.

  1. PHOTOGRAPHER
    Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Making money as a photographer can be done in a number of different ways. You can specialize in one area, the most common being weddings. There are niches you can explore for photography: portraits of people and their pets, families, and homes; photographs of holiday events, birthday parties or Christmas cards; the possibilities are endless.

To learn more about this business idea, check out Start Your Own Photography Business.

  1. RUG CLEANING

You will need to learn how to work with all kinds of carpet fabrics, from synthetic to wool carpets. Decide whether you will take on valuable antique carpets and family heirlooms; if so, you will want to get specialized training in how to handle these carpets and the specialized ways of cleaning them. Learn how to get tough stains and odors out of carpets–such as dog and cat odors–and your services will be in great demand.

From Websites to Pet Sitting

  1. WEBSITE DEVELOPER
    Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Many courses exist (many of which, logically, are offered online) where you can learn the language of website creation and can learn about the details, like how to set up shopping cart systems, security concerns, etc. You will, of course, need to learn about each company you design for. What is the atmosphere of the company that you need to reflect in the website design–is it wild and contemporary, meaning brilliant colors and fun graphics? Or will more classic colors like black, navy blue and maroon be more appropriate?

$3,000 to $5,000 to start up

  1. BED AND BREAKFAST

Do you have a room that has its own bathroom and is private from the rest of the living space? Are you near attractions such as a tourist area, sports stadium or venue for a large annual event? Or is your home in the country with spring peepers, summer crickets and crisp fall nights that could give a city-dweller a weekend of peaceful living? Say you can rent the room for $150 a night for Friday and Saturday nights 48 weeks a year–that’s $14,400 in revenue! Utilize what you have and create a unique experience.

To learn more about this business idea, check out Start Your Own Bed & Breakfast.

  1. CHRISTMAS TREE SALES

If you want to start a Christmas tree farm, you need to plan ahead. It takes approximately seven years for a Balsam fir–perhaps the most traditional Christmas tree–to grow from a small sapling to a 5- to 6-foot tree. Selling your trees yourself is the best option. Consumers come to the property, pick the one they want, and you harvest it for them. The other option is to buy your trees from a wholesaler and sell them either in your yard or in a vacant lot that you rent from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

  1. DAY CARE
    Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Perhaps you love children. Perhaps you have children of your own and the idea of taking care of a few more for part of the day appeals to you. Child-care needs continue to soar in the United States. Many people prefer the option of their child being cared for in a home environment while they are at work, opposed to a more institutional-like setting. These things mean that a homebased childcare business can get off and running immediately.

  1. PET SITTING
    Experience, training or licensing may be needed

Starting a pet sitting service requires almost nothing in start-up costs. You do need some general credentials that will cost little or nothing to acquire. Your list of credentials should probably include personal pet ownership–if not currently, at least in the past–as well as other pet-related experience, including working at a pet food store, an animal hospital or other animal-related business. You will need to spend a little to become “bonded.” This is known as “honesty insurance,” and ensures your clients that you won’t get their house keys and make off with their valuables (or that they’ll get their money back if you do).

13 Tricks for Landing Your First Thousand Customers

Image credit: Mattia Marziali | Flickr

Here are a few tips on how to reach this goal:

  1. Set up a waiting list

A waiting list is a great way to build early buzz as people always want to be first in line for a new product. This works extremely well for online services and mobile apps, particularly if you offer incentives for people to sign up, such as a free account for three months.

Look at the masterly work of Mailbox, which managed to build up a huge waiting list of over 800,000 people. Their secret? They used a clever user interface to tell people how many others were in front of them and how many were behind them in the line to use the app. This addictive interface gave people a hit of dopamine each time they checked the app and saw they were closer to the front.

  1. Use your personal network

Traditional word of mouth is still powerful way to get new customers on board. Tell your family, friends and colleagues about your product and ask them to spread the word. Don’t be shy — there’s nothing wrong with asking for a favor. If you have a consumer-focused product, there is no easier or quicker way to get your first 30 customers than just asking people you know!

  1. Target online publications

Just like bloggers, online publications can help you reach a huge new audience. Pick one or two relevant publications that make sense for your business. Spend time selling them on your product and offer them something unique, such as exclusive coverage of your product launch.

A great tip is to follow journalists on Twitter for a while and get a sense of the type of content they write. Then you’ll find clever ways to connect your product to a theme that interests them. Attentiv did exactly this, and got a great launch story in Fast Company.

  1. Get bloggers on your side

Bloggers and other online influencers have huge audiences. Even better, their readers trust them. Reach out to bloggers on sites such as mine Tomoson and ask them to review your product. You can drive huge numbers of new prospects this way. Online reviews can often keep on driving sales for years into the future, as people track them down in search results. Even small blogs can often drive hundreds of sales over time, particularly when the review is thoughtful and well written.

Related: The Secret to Winning Customers and Growing Your Business

  1. Build suspense

Suspense is an excellent way to build excitement before you launch. Create a drip feed of information about your upcoming product. This will make people curious and want to know more — particularly if you reveal the details a little bit at a time. The more you give away, the less interesting it becomes. Try to get people excited, but without giving so much context that people are bored and move on.

  1. Work with early adopters

Your first customers are the most important. They bought your product for a reason, so you can learn a huge amount from them. Create a personal relationship with them and listen to what they say. You’ll get great insights you can use, and they’ll tell other people about your product. Early adopters usually have smart opinions about products and have a good sense of the market, so always be sure to pay careful attention to them.

  1. Create high-quality content

Content marketing is a great way of acquiring new customers. By creating genuinely useful content and giving it away for free, you can drive visitors to your site and also establish yourself as a thought leader. If you have the budget, hire a good writer. Buffer CEO Leo Widrich managed to get 100,000 customers just from writing guest posts on other people’s sites. Those same articles will still be delivering hundreds, maybe thousands, of new customers each month — with no additional effort.

  1. Offer a free product option

Many successful online startups use a “freemium” model to get users on board. This lets people try your product with no risk, which can encourage them to sign up for the paid service or product. However, make sure you strike a balance. Don’t cripple your free option, but keep enough back to make people want to upgrade.

Dropbox is one example of a product that gets this right, giving you enough free storage to get you invested in its ecosystem and invite your friends to join and collaborate. Before you know it, your Dropbox is full and you’re handing over your card details.

  1. Incentivize customers to sell your product

Customers can be your best salespeople – they already know the value of your product. Give them a reason to get other people to sign up, and you can drive impressive growth. You can even make this work with a “freemium” model: offer a free upgrade to your paid service for three months as an incentive.

Related: How to Acquire Customers Without a Marketing Budget (Infographic)

  1. Speak at conferences

It may seem a bit old school but speaking at conferences is an excellent way of getting exposure and customers for your new startup. Become an expert on your subject, and then contact event organizers and offer to speak. Just make sure to get in touch early, as conference agendas are usually locked down six to 12 months before the event.

Neil Patel spoke at 239 conferences and discovered that the best strategy is to avoid speaking to your peers and speak to potential customers instead. If you’re an SEO, for example, don’t go to an SEO conference where everyone is already an expert in what you do. Instead, go to a gambling event and show them how to get new customers. In the case of Neil, this led to a $100,000-a-month contract.

  1. Online advertising

Online advertising can be an effective way of driving traffic to your startup’s website. It doesn’t have to be expensive — $1,000 with Google AdWords can go a long way. If you don’t have experience with this, then hire a pro: keyword selection and ongoing optimization are incredibly important.

  1. Test, test and test again

Once you do start to drive significant traffic to your website, then it’s time to focus on converting visitors into customers. Many different factors can affect your conversion rates — ranging from website design to pricing. Try out different things and see which ones work best. For example, you can use Google Analytics Content Experiments to try out different landing pages.

  1. Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is where you get other websites to promote your products in return for a commission on sales. This typically works best for information products, such as online courses, because you can offer affiliates high commissions without any product cost. There are sites that make this easy – such as Rakuten Affiliate Network, Commission Junction or ClickBank.

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Become A Better Leader

Ditching pajamas, tearing down cubicles: Shared workspaces replacing traditional home offices

In this Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015 photo, people work at their computers at Pipeline, a shared workspace company in downtown Miami. Today, the one-off, mom and pop spaces have been mostly replaced with chain companies, providing real estate developers a new way to lease traditional office space and to make connections with potential tenants.(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) (The Associated Press)

MIAMI – Ten years ago, co-working spaces were a new concept, providing shared desks for freelancers and entrepreneurs as single “mom and pop” shops.

Today, the one-off, mom and pop spaces have been mostly replaced with chain companies, providing real estate developers a new way to lease traditional office space and to make connections with potential tenants.

Feeding off the tech startup boom and the increased mobility it allowed workers, co-working spaces took off — attracting lonely home-office dwellers out of their pajamas and sparing coffee shop-based freelancers an obligatory purchase of a cup of coffee in exchange for an all-day workstation.

“They’re people that want more stimulation than sitting at home and being very productive working in your pajamas all day,” said University of Michigan business professor Gretchen Spreitzer, who has studied for years how people thrive at work, focusing on co-working spaces in recent years.

Today, companies such as Pipeline, WeWork, Grind, and NextSpace have opened about 4,000 co-working spaces in most major U.S. cities and worldwide where desks and offices can be rented for a short or long-term. While prices vary by city and company, in Miami the spaces offer barrier-free communal desks starting at about $200 a month, fixed solo desks at about $500 a month and private suites starting at about $700 a month.

Located in central business districts in major cities, the spaces are designed to look cool and modern, providing areas to foster interaction. Amenities include conference rooms, high-speed Internet, phone booths for privacy, free coffee, high-end artisanal tea and even beer. The companies continue attracting entrepreneurs, freelancers and startups.

Co-working spaces are growing as more chains enter the field, Spreitzer said. For example, WeWork began five years ago and now has 49 open or soon-to-be open locations in 16 cities, including locations in Europe and Israel. In June, the Wall Street Journal said WeWork was valued at about $10 billion.

“We’re seeing more people in the world of real estate become more interested in co-working,” Spreitzer said. “WeWork is just as much a real estate developing company as it is a co-working space.”

A selling point of most co-working spaces is networking. Future “members” — a deliberate choice of wording — are attracted to the varied pool of businesses and possible mutually beneficial connections to be made in a shared workspace community.

“They have a community manager, somebody who is the heart and soul of the place … that helps make connections between people in the workplace, organizes social events, shared lunches, happy hours, seminars,” Spreitzer said. She said the focus on community building makes members feel “they’re part of something more than themselves.”

Grant Killingsworth, a commercial real estate agent in Miami, said landlords also are attracted by the potential to make connections, which may have contributed to their rise in popularity.

“A lot of the one- or two-person businesses that get their start in a shared workspace environment grow, and become larger, long-term tenants in the same building. So if you’re a landlord, it’s a sensible leasing strategy to have a shared workspace among the tenant mix,” he said. “It’s a built-in source of new potential tenants.”

Serial entrepreneur Adam Boalt had just sold his last company in 2013 and he needed a workspace where he could plan his next project. That’s when he heard about Pipeline, one of more than 25 co-working spaces in downtown Miami.

For $500 a month, Boalt could rent a desk in a busy office alongside other entrepreneurs and small companies. Originally skeptical, he signed up for a year after learning Google had rented space for some Miami employees. He has since rented more space as his new company grew.

“In one place I was able to talk to accountants, attorneys, web developers, web designers, every type of industry,” said Boalt, 38, who developed LiveAnswer, which provides small-business owners access to call centers by tapping into agents’ unoccupied time. “I was able to bring in new call center partners because of Pipeline.”

Philippe Houdard, 46, is co-founder of Pipeline, which has four open or soon-to-be open locations in Miami and one in Philadelphia. He worked from home after the Internet made it possible, but said the dream soon turned bitter.

“After a short period of time I realized how limiting and isolating it was,” he said. “There was very little contact with other people, it was difficult to get things done, it was difficult to be inspired and motivated on a daily basis.”

While researching their next business venture, Houdard and Pipeline co-founder, Todd Oretsky, both entrepreneurs, needed to find a workplace. Feeling isolated and uninspired at a traditional office, the pair built on the concept of executive suites like Regus, a company leasing business suites in offices across 120 countries, to add an “engaged community” to the mix.

 

Can You Afford to Quit Your Job?

By AJ Smith

(Daniel Schweinert)

Thinking about leaving your job? The decision can be both scary and liberating, but if you are ready to follow through, it’s important to make sure the process is thought out. Whether you are quitting to get more freedom, higher earning potential or a more enjoyable career path, you will likely need money in the bank and a plan in place. Check out the financial moves you should make before you quit your job so you can have a smooth transition out of your current position.

Calculate Your Barest Budget
You will probably have to cut back if quitting your current job is going to bring a disruption in cash flow. It’s important to adjust your budget while taking all your current expenses into account. Bringing it down to the essentials, you may have to forfeit extras like dining out, travel, cable TV and new clothes, at least for a little while. It’s a good idea to prepare yourself in case you have low- or no-income months ahead. Now that you know how much you need to live, consider freelance, consulting or part-time work to replace the steady paycheck.

Build Up Serious Savings
It’s always a good idea to have an emergency fund saved up. If you don’t have one, it’s time to start building one. Ideally, and especially if you are leaving your job, you should have at least six months of expenses saved up. Now that you have your pared-down budget calculated, you have an idea of what you will need to get through the next half of a year.

You can adjust that number higher or lower depending on your circumstances, keeping in mind that anything excess is just adding a longer buffer period for yourself. If possible, you may also want to look into any bill prepayment your providers allow. Sometimes you can pay things like utility or mortgages up to a month or two in advance. This way, you don’t have to worry about getting behind on your bills, loans or debt as a consequence of your departure from employment. (A late payment can have a serious negative impact on your credit scores. You can see how your payment history is currently affecting your credit scores for free on Credit.com.) It’s important to make this clear and not just send in extra money with another payment so you know what the money is going toward.

Review Retirement & Health Care Options
Salary isn’t the only thing affected when you leave a job. You also will want to consider other financial issues often tied to your job like life insurance and retirement savings plans. If you have been contributing to your employer’s 401(k) plan, you will have to decide whether you should leave it, roll it over into a new account or cash out. The most important factor to consider with a retirement plan change is that you should let your plan administrator handle the switch and be aware of possible taxes and fees.

Health care options also often change when you leave a job, but remember that federal law mandates that you have coverage. If you are single and fairly healthy, you might be able to purchase a cheaper policy from the government or another insurance provider. You should also consider other perks you get at your job and how life without those will affect your monthly expenses.

These 10 Colleges Are the Biggest Wastes of Money

Reuters Photographer/Reuters

 

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The value of a college degree has increasingly become a point of concern for students and parents worried that the ever-increasing cost of higher education doesn’t pay off.

Studies have found that college grads do have more stable and lucrative careers than their peers with just a high school diploma, but going to a pricier school doesn’t necessarily mean a better payday. Students who need to borrow a large amount of money to finance their education or who are going into a profession that doesn’t pay very well can do better financially by attending a lower-cost school.

The career site Payscale has crunched the numbers to show just how greatly the value of a degree varies from school to school. The site calculated the future earnings of graduates over 20 years as they compare with the median pay for a high school graduate, taking out the cost of tuition.

Slideshow: 10 Colleges That Deliver the Least Bang for Your Tuition Buck

The two schools on the 2015 list offering the best return on investment are Harvey Mudd College and California Institute of Technology. The ROI at those schools is more than $1 million over 20 years.

Bringing up the bottom of the list of more than 1,200 schools was the State University of New York College at Potsdam. Out-of-state students who attend that school will make $121,900 less money over 20 years than peers who didn’t go to graduate school (in-state students make $85,800 less).

The One Thing That Determines Your Success as a Leader Written by: Randy Conley

Leadership is a complex endeavor, but it doesn’t have to be complicated.

We tend to make things more complicated than they need to be and that’s definitely true in the field of leadership. To prove my point, go to Amazon.com and search their book listings for the word “leadership” and see how many returns you get (but wait until you finish reading this article!). What did you find? It was 138,611 as of the writing of this post.

Browsing the titles of some popular best-sellers would lead you to believe that in order to be a successful leader you just need to find the magical keys, take the right steps, follow the proper laws, figure out the dysfunctions, embrace the challenge, ascend the levels, look within yourself, look outside yourself, form a tribe, develop the right habits, know the rules, break the rules, be obsessed, learn the new science, or discover the ancient wisdom. Did I say we like to over-complicate things?

What if successful leadership isn’t really that complicated? What if I told you there was one thing…not a title, power, or position…that determined whether people followed your lead? What if you understood there was one aspect of your leadership that was a non-negotiable, must-have characteristic that must be in place for people to pledge you their loyalty and commitment? What if you knew there was one element that defined how people experienced you as a leader? Would you be interested? Can it really be as simple as one thing?

That one thing is trust. It’s the foundation of any successful, healthy, thriving relationship. Without it, your leadership is doomed. Creativity is stifled, innovation grinds to a halt, and reasoned risk-taking is abandoned. People check their hearts and minds at the door, leaving you with a staff who has quit mentally and emotionally but stayed on the payroll, sucking precious resources from your organization.

However, with trust, all things are possible. Energy, progress, productivity, and ingenuity flourish. Commitment, engagement, loyalty, and excellence become more than empty words in a company mission statement; they become reality. Trust has been called the “magic” ingredient of organizational life. It simultaneously acts as the bonding agent that keeps everything together as well as the lubricant that keeps things moving smoothly. Stephen M.R. Covey likes to say that while high trust won’t necessarily rescue a poor strategy, low trust will almost always derail a good one. Trust is essential to your success as a leader.

But trust doesn’t come easy and it doesn’t happen by accident. It’s advanced leadership and requires you to work at it each and every day. It starts by you being trustworthy. The ABCD Trust Model is a helpful tool to help you understand the four elements of being a trustworthy leader.

Leaders build trust when they are:

Able – Being Able is about demonstrating competence. One way leaders demonstrate their competence is having the expertise needed to do their jobs. Expertise comes from possessing the right skills, education, or credentials that establish credibility with others. Leaders also demonstrate their competence through achieving results. Consistently achieving goals and having a track record of success builds trust with others and inspires confidence in your ability. Able leaders are also skilled at facilitating work getting done in the organization. They develop credible project plans, systems, and processes that help team members accomplish their goals.

Believable – A Believable leader acts with integrity. Dealing with people in an honest fashion by keeping promises, not lying or stretching the truth, and not gossiping are ways to demonstrate integrity. Believable leaders also have a clear set of values that have been articulated to their direct reports and they behave consistently with those values – they walk the talk. Finally, treating people fairly and equitably are key components to being a believable leader. Being fair doesn’t necessarily mean treating people the same in all circumstances, but it does mean that people are treated appropriately and justly based on their own unique situation.

Connected  Connected leaders show care and concern for people, which builds trust and helps to create an engaging work environment. Leaders create a sense of connection by openly sharing information about themselves and the organization and trusting employees to use that information responsibly. Leaders also build trust by having a “people first” mentality and building rapport with those they lead. Taking an interest in people as individuals and not just as nameless workers shows that leaders value and respect their team members. Recognition is a vital component of being a connected leader, and praising and rewarding the contributions of people and their work builds trust and goodwill.

Dependable  Being Dependable and maintaining reliability is the fourth element of trustworthiness. One of the quickest ways to erode trust is by not following through on commitments. Conversely, leaders who do what they say they’re going to do earn a reputation as being consistent and trustworthy. Maintaining reliability requires leaders to be organized in such a way that they are able to follow through on commitments, be on time for appointments and meetings, and get back to people in a timely fashion. Dependable leaders also hold themselves and others accountable for following through on commitments and taking responsibility for the outcomes of their work.

Trust – the one requirement for successful leadership. Do you have it?

It’s ironic that successful self-leadership has more to do with others and less to do with self. I learned this later in life.

The sooner you see it, the better.

Following are three lessons I learned from personal and professional experiences over the course of my life. My hope is that they will help you be more successful over your career and journey in life.

  1. Serve a Cause Greater than Self

The first surprise about self-leadership is that working for money, power and fame is, ultimately, an unfulfilling pursuit. Frances Hesselbein, the amazing woman I’ve written about who led the turnaround of the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A., puts it succinctly: to serve is to live.

Choose a career that helps others by bringing truth, goodness and/or beauty into the world and you will find greater career satisfaction and contentment. From time to time you will experience the joy that comes from seeing the efforts of your work directly improve the lives of others.

Here are a few examples. The teacher who helps a student learn to read brings greater truth and goodness to the world. The landscape architect who designs aesthetically pleasing outdoor environments brings greater beauty to the world. The journalist who helps the public see both sides of a story brings greater truth to the world. The salesman who helps a customer find the right product or service to meet a real need brings greater goodness into the world. You should seek to serve others in these ways, too.

  1. Get a Coach or Mentor(s)

No world-class athlete gets to the top without the help of a coach or multiple coaches. We need other people to help us achieve our potential. Each of us has blind spots. Think of American Idol auditions and the individuals who are convinced they are the next American Idol, even though they can hardly carry a tune.

Your blind spot may be that you are argumentative or perhaps you don’t speak up when you should. Some people have a blind spot when it comes to not knowing when to end a conversation or meeting. Some managers have blind spots of being over-controlling and others don’t interact enough with the people they are responsible for leading.

The need for coaching and mentoring goes beyond needing to address our blind spots. We need experts to help us develop skills. When I left Wall Street to write a book and begin public speaking and teaching, I needed the help of Twyla Thompson, a top acting coach at the Actors Institute. Twyla taught me how to emotionally connect with an audience. On Wall Street, I had learned to turn my emotions off when communicating and I needed Twyla’s help to turn my emotions back on. She had me do exercises that included speaking to a group of acting students. I had to make eye contact with one student at a time and maintain eye contact until the student raised his or her hand to signal that he or she felt connected to me. Twyla’s colleague Gifford Booth would stand at the back of the room and yell, ”louder, louder” as I spoke. He helped me see a blind spot I had: I was too soft spoken.  I could never have learned these things on my own and I’m grateful that Twyla and Gifford helped me become a more effective speaker.

  1. Be Intentional About Connecting with People

When I worked on Wall Street, the commute and long work hours made it difficult to maintain friendships outside of work.  As my job became more demanding I grew increasingly disconnected from my family. I didn’t feel well. My health began to suffer. I needed a lot of coffee to get me going in the morning and alcohol to slow me down at night. Eventually I left Wall Street to recover and figure out how I drifted so far from who I aspired to become.

I learned the hard way that all people are hardwired to connect. Connect with God.  Connect with one another. When we don’t connect, we become dysfunctional. We feel lonely, which makes us more vulnerable to stress, anxiety, depression and, ultimately, to addiction. This is a big issue in America today as we consume half the world’s supply of mood altering drugs.

Connection makes us healthier, happier and more productive. It helps us grow in competence and character. It gets us through the inevitable difficult seasons we all experience in life, a lesson I learned as our family and friends helped us get through the three bouts of cancer my wife Katie experienced. Today, she is cancer free and thriving.

You can be more successful in your career and life if you 1. serve a cause greater than yourself, 2. get coaches and/or mentors to help you learn and grow in competence and character, and 3. be intentional about connecting with God, family and friends.  As you experience greater peace, hope and joy that comes from having an abundance of connection in your life, you will discover wealth of even greater value.

Over the years, I’ve amassed a fair amount of information about what managers need to start and stop doing in order to be at their best as leaders. This information has been gathered through conversations (interviews) with bosses, peers, and direct reports of the managers both at the beginning of a coaching engagement and toward the end (to measure progress).

This information can be consolidated into general “themes” which might say a lot about what stakeholders want from managers. These themes are prevalent with managers in small and large companies of all kinds, and at all levels within those companies:

  1. Stop doing work others should do and start letting them do it: Most managers I’ve worked with have room to do more delegating. Their employees get frustrated because they are fully capable of doing the work the manager is doing. When the manager and I talk about their need to delegate, I often hear that they fear cutting the chord, believing that things won’t be done “right” (translation: things won’t be done their way). This is about control, which only serves the manager and not the organization.


My thoughts:
If you’re not delegating enough, you aren’t realizing the wealth of untapped potential in your employees who are anxious to be autonomous and be challenged! If it’s true that if you believe your employees aren’t capable of doing the work they are meant to do, then you should fire them and start over with employees you can believe in. By the way, if you haven’t noticed yet, you’re burning yourself out while doing too much!

  1. Stop ignoring key relationships and start nurturing them: Almost all managers need to set a priority to develop important relationships with stakeholders who will help them and their organization to become successful and sustainable. When smart managers and I talk about this, they often say they don’t have time to work on relationships at work. There is no leadership without relating to others so put relationships at the top of your priority list.


My thoughts:
The chances that you’ll fail because you’re too smart are small. But the chances you’ll be successful by nurturing key relationships is great. Your brain-smarts will only go so far in an organization. As you work your way up the leadership ladder, it’s absolutely essential to make sure that you develop and nurture key relationships. Many leaders find that it works to identify their important stakeholders and schedule regular meetings with them.

  1. Stop talking so much and start listening more: Over-talking and failing to listen to others might appear to be a very minor indiscretion on the part of a manager. In the end, failing to listen to others and really hear them results in problems all the way from strained relationships to ethical breaches to failure of an important initiative. All this can happen because a manager feels like they have to be heard but are unwilling to listen to others.


My thoughts:
The kind of listening that you need to cultivate requires you to be fully present, to shut off the judging chatter and waiting for your turn to speak. This is the kind of deep listening where you stop talking and open your ears AND your heart to hear others in a way that promotes understanding and learning. It’s harder and more important than you might think.

  1. Stop being tactical and start broadening your scope. When you’re in a position that requires you to become more visionary, staying tactical bore your manager, employees, and others who have your career in their hands. It will keep your organization from being everything it can be. When you broaden your sights, your organization can exceed its goals and expectations (and you just might be seen as promotable).

    My thoughts:
    You can’t fully lead until you’ve mastered this, and it is often aligned with #1 above. When you stop doing the tactical day to day work and allow your team to step up, you leave room in your brain to think bigger, more strategically, and to develop and realize a vision.

If you’re pondering what your developmental opportunities for the year might be, take a look at these four things, find one that resonates with you, set some goals, and take action.

 

The Basics of How I Built a Seven-Figure Business Without Employees

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

Related: Stop Saying You Don’t Have Time to Start a Business. Make Time With These 6 Tips.

The good news is that my lack of interest in such pursuits hasn’t been a hindrance in building a seven figure-business, in a rather short period of time, with a single co-founder and no employees — which can be operated from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection. As a matter of fact, I’m typing this at a cafe in Copenhagen, Denmark, and will be meandering through Europe for at least the next five weeks — yet sales will continue to grow and the business won’t miss a step. I’m not bragging, just validating.

This model is replicable. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Start simple.

Far too often, smart people come up with great ideas then quickly overbuild them, so when they get to the market, there’s no way to test or understand which parts of the product are working or not. There is a lot to be said for Henry Ford’s concept of initially offering one size and one color of a certain product to be able to understand and gauge the customer response, then iterate and improve your product and processes for selling and servicing it.

Included in this “start simple” strategy is to remove complication that comes from selling your product or service to middlemen. What I mean is, you should avoid, at least at the beginning, from overcomplicating your sales pipeline with wholesale or retail scenarios and instead focus on taking your product direct to the consumer. This will ensure that you control the brand and voice early on, will have a direct communication with your customers for super important feedback and will retain full margin on your sales — allowing you to reinvest and grow faster without taking on the liability of outside funds or debt.

  1. Automate early.

Technology is really quite amazing, which is why you must use it to automate everything from the very beginning. You need to build the foundation of your business as if it’s 20 times larger, which can be done for hundreds of dollars per year.

Related: 6 Overlooked Ways to Vastly Boost Traffic to Your Ecommerce Site

Your automation starts with your sales channels or ecommerce marketplace with solutions such as Shopify, which create a nearly out-of-the box system and will connect to nearly anything. Automation must continue through your marketing and support functions with products such as Facebook video ads, which can work amazingly well and require minimal amounts of oversight.

Finally, Desk or Zendesk automate your inbound-support requests. These are great because you can write “macros” or canned responses for nearly any inbound question, so that as they come in, you can click a single button to respond and resolve the case or inquiry. You can even set macros to auto-respond once you have a handle on the language or keywords for certain requests, which means that you never even see them.

  1. Leverage outsourcing.

There are tons of articles written about whether you should outsource certain things. I’ve even written a few, but here we’re focusing on building a business that doesn’t require employees — so we’re going to outsource it all. Let’s start with sales and marketing: at the beginning you’ll be doing everything, which is super important being that you’re the only one that truly understands your business and customer, but there will come a time when you’re too busy to create and manage it all.

This is where the use of PR comes in. Where you used to hire a PR team to get press and publicity, which you still can, you should now hire them to manage and grow your revenue-generating social channels. The team should put together a plan and timeline that makes sense, based on your brand and experience, then execute and allow you to focus elsewhere.

Also look to hire a virtual assistant: this is an employee of another company, such as UAssistMe, that you can remotely contract and train to do any list of tasks, with minimal amounts of required time (starting at five hours per week). This will help to keep your free time free and your employer obligations non-existent.

Related: 5 Reasons You Should Start an Online Business in Your 20s

4 Important Keys That Will Unlock Your Fast Track to Success

There may not be any shortcuts in life, but there are certainly ways you can work smarter instead of harder. When you utilize some specific tools and systems, you can accelerate your journey to success exponentially.

Some of these tools are abstract and more mental in nature, while others are concrete and tangible, but all will help you in various ways. The best part about using these tools is that they will help you fast track your way to success in every aspect of your life, not just in business.

1. Embrace servant leadership.

Servant leadership is a timeless concept and one that many of the most influential figures in history have embraced. Great leaders are those who put the well-being of their staffs and communities above their own needs. Simon Sinek tapped into this idea with his popular book, Leaders Eat Last, but it was Robert K. Greenleaf who formally defined the term in his 1970 essay, The Servant as Leader.

“The servant-leader is servant first … It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served.”

All ships rise with the tide, and embracing a servant-leadership mindset that puts your community’s good above your individual desires will unlock unlimited possibilities for you.

As Zig Ziglar famously said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

2. Focus exclusively on value.

Value is of the utmost importance. This key to success is reminiscent of the famous John F. Kennedy quote, “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”

In many ways value shares the attributes of servant leadership, but the idea with this key is that you provide value to a larger, less tangible audience.

Millions have been influenced, helped and inspired by Sinek’s “Start With Why” TED Talk, yet most have never met him. They received tremendous value from the effort and preparation Sinek put into that talk, and while he’ll never be a servant leader to most of those individuals, he is still able to create a tremendous impact on people’s lives.

Value is you focusing on how much you can give and how big you can serve your market and the world.

Related: The 5 Non-Negotiables for Thriving in Business and Life

3. Automate everything possible.

Automation is something that can help you grow your business exponentially. With all the tools on the market today, you could automate huge chunks of your life by simply taking the time to set them up. Automation will likely be the entrepreneurial tool that revolutionizes today’s business climate.

Think of what Henry Ford’s assembly-line production model did to change industrialism in his time. Automation is that mass-scale production model for today, but it’s about your productivity instead. The more you can automate aspects of your business, the faster your business can grow.

There are highly automated CMS solutions such as Infusionsoft, easily set-up sales-funnel programs such as Click Funnel and other semi-automated online storefronts such as Shopify that can revolutionize your business. The list goes on depending on the solution you require, but automation software is there to make your life more efficient and to free up your time. Use it!

4. Get help.

Last but not least, get the help you need. This final key to fast-tracking your success is perhaps the most difficult for entrepreneurs because it requires capital. However, when you get the right staff, agencies or freelance help on your side, you will be amazed at the difference it makes in your productivity.

The growth will come fast and furious when you get the right resources for your business. People are certainly an invaluable and essential growth tool.

Business Skills vs. Entrepreneurial Thinking

Image credit: Shutterstock

 

In a recent post about entrepreneurship education, Gary Schoeniger, chief content development officer at the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative, argued that entrepreneurship isn’t really about acquiring business skills such as spreadsheets and marketing plans. Instead, entrepreneurship is the way someone thinks.

Business skills, Schoeniger continued, somewhat controversially, may, in fact, get in the way of entrepreneurial thinking. Teaching business plans and financial projections “may be doing more harm than good.

“While these skills may be important for managing an existing business with a proven product or service,” Schoeniger wrote, “they often inhibit the entrepreneurial process — the process of searching for a problem-solution fit.”

As someone who ran an international organization that has taught entrepreneurship to more than 600,000 young people, I see his point. The confusion between running a business and being an entrepreneur is real and does a disservice to both skill sets. While business skills are certainly helpful tools, they are different from what the focus of entrepreneurship should be.

In short, while skill, experience, knowledge and passion help you run your business — or someone else’s — they are management endeavors; and of course they are to be appreciated for the challenges they present.

But look at risk as an example of the entrepreneurship-management divide: Many business schools and programs teach tactics for managing and mitigating risk. In business, risk is to be avoided, hunted down and quashed. Investors, managers, executives and employees all fear risk. And with good reason.

To an entrepreneur, however, risk is the lifeblood of success. Innovation and creation aren’t possible without it. Entrepreneurs taught this concept correctly learn to evaluate and embrace risk. In contrast, every time that someone learns “risk avoidance” as a supposedly legitimate business skill — well, that’s flatly un-entrepreneurial.

There are other examples of cases where business-management skills and entrepreneurial thinking part ways. Collaboration is one. Business leaders tend to guard innovation while entrepreneurs want to share and exchange ideas, even with potential rivals.

“Most business owners and entrepreneurs are not aware of the distinction in skill set between those who can successfully run a business and those who are true entrepreneurs,” David Litt, founder and CEO of Blue Star Tech, said to me, addressing this distinction. Litt knows what he’s talking about; he’s run multiple companies. “The difference is somewhat like being ambidextrous,” Litt said. “Most people are right- or lefthanded, but very few people use both hands similarly.”

Entrepreneurship, then, isn’t a “job”; it’s a way of thinking about and approaching challenges and opportunities. That’s why real entrepreneurs flourish in government, non-profit organizations and business — as both employees and founders. It’s well established that the entrepreneurial mindset makes for outstanding employees because they identify problems early, and present solutions. Entrepreneurship-employees take ownership of their jobs and performance and tend to both think creatively and collaborate well.

Whatever industry they choose, entrepreneurs should be the ones running existing companies, starting new ones and thinking big, “holy cow”-type thoughts. We need more of them, taking risks and solving problems.

Today’s economy is both global and fluid — more so than it’s ever been. Entrepreneurs, maybe more than businesspeople with any other skill set, are the best choice to embrace and lead the world we have now and the one we will have soon.

If it were up to me, we’d start teaching entrepreneurial thinking as early as middle school, maybe even earlier. And, just as important, we’d look at entrepreneurship and business as related, but different, skills.

“Entrepreneurship education” teaches you that you can own your future, not just your own business. That’s an important distinction.

Is Our Education System Hurting Entrepreneurship?

 

 

 

In a world beset by economic challenges, cultural discord and environmental deterioration, the English philosopher Sir Ken Robinson believes he has the solution to man’s most fundamental problems: Imagination.

An evolved notion of creativity is humanity’s defining trait, Robinson says, in that it allows us to examine the past as well as anticipate the future to constantly reinvent our lives. But many of us have lost touch with an imaginative outlook.

To more fully tap into this part of ourselves, Robinson takes issue with the state of our educational system — which he asserts “employs 21st century technology, but with a 19th century mindset.” It hasn’t changed much since its inception, he argues, and tends to marginalize our best gifts.

Robinson spoke at a panel on thought leadership held last month in New York that also featured former President Bill Clinton and was sponsored by The Fragrance Foundation.

According to Robinson, there are three ways in which the global education system needs to change in order to foster the kind of entrepreneurial thinking that is crucial to the success — and survival — of the world:

  1. Its emphasis on conformity. While human life flourishes on the prospect of diversity, schools often box us into predetermined curricula that can feel both impractical and stale. By studying subjects that don’t help us in the grand scheme of what we’d ultimately like to accomplish, schools act like machines that prize standardization and efficiency when people are far more complicated than that, Robinson says.
  2. Its emphasis on compliance. Whereas teachers follow regimens to curb disobedience, real energy comes from creativity and diversion, he asserts. An emphasis on discipline can yield harrowing statistics: one-third of high school students don’t even graduate and 50 percent of adults claim that they are depressed and unengaged at work, Robinson said.
  3. Its emphasis on a linear path. Our educational system operates under the assumption that everyone should follow the same path — from elementary school through to university — when, in fact, life is composed organically, moment by moment, according to Robinson. Some of the most celebrated business luminaries — Richard Branson and Steve Jobs among them — did not graduate from college.

And innovation is never linear. Kodak, for instance, was seen as the iPad of its day, Robinson said, but is now bankrupt — its cameras more likely to be found in a museum than in common use. Eventually, the iPad will become a bygone relic, too.

If, as H.G. Wells put it, “civilization is a race between education and catastrophe,” every day is an opportunity to learn something new. But in order to triumph, it is crucial to tap into our innate powers. As Robinson ultimately sees it: “Creativity is putting imagination to work, and innovation is putting good ideas into practice.”

How the Changing Education Landscape is Helping Entrepreneurs

The higher-education industry is changing drastically and that change is good for business — and entrepreneurs.

Colleges and universities are no longer the gatekeeper of information or the only game in town. Instead, numerous new providers are entering the fray, increasing competition for students (customers) and driving down prices. Not only are these new services focusing on traditional students, but they are also gunning for the fastest growing customer market: “adult students.” Already, adults over 25 account for 38 percent of post-secondary enrollments and corporations account for 63 percent of spending on post-secondary training and development, which equates to big opportunities.

Colleges and universities are providing this whole array of students more possibilities, and entrepreneurs are also taking note, with many disrupting the industry.

Looking to get a piece of this ed-tech pie? Here are how entrepreneurs are shaping the education sector.

Supporting colleges and universities. The approximately 6,900 accredited colleges and universities in the US, as well as numerous other education providers and international schools, form a sizable and captive market. These education providers need the tools that will allow them to grow their business, support their students and run their school.

This opportunity means savvy entrepreneurs can step in with everything from software to consulting to supplies and build a business around supporting higher education.

Assisting students. Today’s students are savvy shoppers, and entrepreneurs have an opportunity to offer products and services to support them and improve their higher education experience. As the education industry commoditizes, students are taking more control of their learning experience and outcomes. Existing companies have been able to aid students in selecting an institution, provide them with tutoring, create new means of tracking credentials and more. As the industry continues to grow, so will these opportunities.

As evidenced by the recent success of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), there is opportunity for entrepreneurs who find a way to build upon the higher ed model in new and innovative ways in order to support student needs. For instance, there are companies that help students find online classes through accredited colleges with the click of a few buttons.

Educating employees. Gone are the days when a “once-in-a-lifetime” degree could carry a person throughout their entire working life. Technology is changing at such a rate that tomorrow’s practices will eclipse today’s knowledge. In fact, 70 percent of employers think employees need constant education just to keep pace with their jobs. But the cost of higher education has traditionally made it very difficult for corporations to partner with colleges and universities to provide education opportunities for their employees. Entrepreneurs are looking to change this. Many MOOC providers have already made headway in this area by offering corporate training classes to keep employees up to date.

How This Young Founder Went From Reality Star to Disruptive Entrepreneur

When people think of online degree programs, for-profit schools like University of Phoenix or Devry University tend to come to mind. And rightly so. These institutions spend large sums of money on search engine keywords. One report called out the University of Phoenix for dropping $380,000 on a single day of online ads in 2012.

With these for-profit universities pulling out all stops to get students to enroll in their programs, there isn’t much room left for nonprofit schools like Georgetown and Stanford to educate the public about their offerings.

Thirty-one-year-old former reality-TV star Kim Taylor, who appeared in Randi Zuckerberg’s short-lived Startups: Silicon Valley, is looking to level the marketing playing field for nonprofit universities with her New York City-based startup Ranku, a discovery engine for online degrees.

Like Kayak did for travel, the Techstars alum, which Taylor co-founded with her bestie 31-year-old Cecilia Retelle, allows users to comparison shop online degrees available through nonprofit institutions.

While the site lists all universities that fit the nonprofit bill, Ranku generates revenue by charging a quarterly subscription fee for universities to access their data and traffic. It also takes a cut of every application sent to the school from Ranku.

Ranku is starting to get noticed. Not only did Techstars take an interest but Mark Cuban recently signed on to lead a $500,000 seed round with Microsoft Ventures and GSV Capital participating.

We chatted with co-founder Taylor about starting up, raising funds and disrupting the education world. Here’s an edited version of that chat: The Wild and Crazy Career Paths of 5 Self-Made Billionaires (Infographic)

Values-Based Leadership Lessons from Coach John Wooden

Virgin Empire founder Richard Branson’s first job was selling Christmas trees. NBA Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s first job was selling garbage bags. Las Vegas Sands Corporation CEO Sheldon Adelson’s first job was selling newspapers. Groupon co-founder Eric Lefkofsky’s first job was selling carpets. And Elon Musk, the founder of Telsa Motors and PayPal, started his working life writing video games.

From their humble beginnings, all of these self-made billionaires have changed course scores of times. The infographic below, generated by San Francisco-based startup organization Funders and Founders, shows just how many different businesses these legendary entrepreneurs launched.

Funders and Founders also analyzed all 1,426 billionaires in the world. From there, the company segmented out the 960 that are self made and determined that 830 of them earned their wealth from more than one business.

 

 

Source: Funders and Founders

 

 

Q: On the show Startup: Silicon Valley, you were focused on a fashion startup Shonova. Why did you decide to shut it down and focus on Ranku?
A: Ranku was a concept I had been thinking about since 2009, but at the time it was the right idea at the wrong time. In 2013, people are questioning the value of school, and the entire landscape is changing fast. I knew I had to do it right now.

As for Shonova, one of the hardest things to do in startups is course correct. With a week away from launch, I knew it wasn’t where it needed to be.

Plus, it was a capital-intensive business that did require a lot of money, and I realized I needed to fundraise for Shonova. Once I go fundraise, I am all in.

Q: You had Ranku on your mind for a long time. How did you transition it from an idea to reality?
A: Cecelia was living in D.C. working for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. She and I ended up having drinks when she was in town in San Francisco. I had built Ranku’s wireframe and showed it to her. She looked at me and said, “If you ever do this, I will quit my job.”

Before I decided to shut down Shonova, I did a week of soul searching, where I had meetings and calls with people I trusted and respected in the education space. Everyone said you should do this, especially Matt Wallaert, a behavioral scientist at Microsoft. He is the person that connected me with Techstars, as we actually never applied to it. They told me they will let Ranku into the program contingent on me hiring a lead developer and moving to New York in 10 days.

I called Cecilia, and she quit her job. I got an engineer friend in San Francisco to come with us for a month until we found our CTO. We moved to New York and shipped the product in 10 days.

Q: Why did you decide to raise a second round and give up equity?
A: It is not about money. We wanted to see who could add value, and I thought Mark Cuban could. He just understands so many components in business, and I wanted to have him involved. The same is true with GSV. They are investors in education companies like 2U and Coursera that we have a lot of synergy with. We are solving complex problems in our space, and I needed people that had a vested interest in us and could help us.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?
A: Educating people. A lot of these things are new and there has long been a stigma about an online degree and it is validity. Our job is to highlight the good guys in the space.

Q: What do you think your biggest asset is?
A: The domain expertise and our ability to get shit done. Our biggest strength has been executing — from pushing our lawyers to move faster to shipping a product on time or early is something most people can’t do.

Cecilia and I made a pact when we moved to New York: We were going to do two years of work in three months, take no prisoners. If we say we are going to do something it gets done — and at warp speed.

Q: What advice do you have for other young entrepreneurs?
A: No one has the entire data set but you. You need to make your own decisions and have the ability to ignore people. Ninety percent of the advice we get is terrible, 10 percent is great and of that, five percent is game changing.

The Top 25 Self-Made Billionaires In the World

 

This story was originally published on June 17, 2015.

Wealth is inspiring. But wealth created from nothing is the stuff that startup dreams are made of.

Entrepreneurs working to launch or grow their business have to power through late nights, early mornings, and waking up in the middle of the night thinking about what still needs doing. That constant hustle can leave a wake of stress and anxiety. Getting through it requires a great deal of focus and ambition, and sometimes, a little reminder that some of the most powerful people in the world started out just like you.

Bill Gates, the legendary founder of tech giant Microsoft, is the wealthiest of the elite self-made billionaires club, with an estimated net worth of $85.7 billion, according to a list released today by Wealth-X, a Singapore-based firm that compiles research on the ultra wealthy. Second to Gates is Warren Buffett, the guru-investor with a net worth just north of $70 billion. And rounding out the top three positions is Amancio Ortega, the Spanish founder of the fast-fashion dynasty Zara, who has a net worth of $65 billion.

The list of self-made billionaires is living proof of that oft romanticized notion of the American Dream. Of the top 25 wealthiest self-made billionaires, 14 are American entrepreneurs. Taken together, those 14 entrepreneurs are worth $514.2 billion. To put that in perspective, that’s more than the economic output of Norway, according to Wealth-X.

The tech sector also makes a strong showing on the list with the likes of Larry Ellison of Oracle taking the fourth spot and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook taking the eighth spot.

Have a spin through the list of 25 below. Rev your ambition engine and get your startup dreams going.

The Top 25 Self-Made Billionaires In the World

1. Bill Gates

United States
$85.7 billion
Co-founder, Microsoft

Wealth is inspiring. But wealth created from nothing is the stuff that startup dreams are made of.

Entrepreneurs working to launch or grow their business have to power through late nights, early mornings, and waking up in the middle of the night thinking about what still needs doing. That constant hustle can leave a wake of stress and anxiety. Getting through it requires a great deal of focus and ambition, and sometimes, a little reminder that some of the most powerful people in the world started out just like you.

Bill Gates, the legendary founder of tech giant Microsoft, is the wealthiest of the elite self-made billionaires club, with an estimated net worth of $85.7 billion, according to a list released today by Wealth-X, a Singapore-based firm that compiles research on the ultra wealthy. Second to Gates is Warren Buffett, the guru-investor with a net worth just north of $70 billion. And rounding out the top three positions is Amancio Ortega, the Spanish founder of the fast-fashion dynasty Zara, who has a net worth of $65 billion.

The list of self-made billionaires is living proof of that oft romanticized notion of the American Dream. Of the top 25 wealthiest self-made billionaires, 14 are American entrepreneurs. Taken together, those 14 entrepreneurs are worth $514.2 billion. To put that in perspective, that’s more than the economic output of Norway, according to Wealth-X.

The tech sector also makes a strong showing on the list with the likes of Larry Ellison of Oracle taking the fourth spot and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook taking the eighth spot.

Have a spin through the list of 25 below. Rev your ambition engine and get your startup dreams going.

Lessons From Burning Man on How to Unlock Creativity and Think Big

If you aren’t already an entrepreneur, you may become one by the time you leave Burning Man — in some shape or form.

You won’t make money in the desert; the exchange of money isn’t allowed at the annual, weeklong arts festival held in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. But you will have created something for someone. You will have seen a need and met it. You will have innovated a solution to a problem or decided to spontaneously create a new service or product for yourself and your fellow Burners (that’s what attendees are called).

And that energy, that entrepreneurial spirit, is priceless. It’s what so many management consultants charge top dollar right now to bring to stuffy corporate offices.

As a business owner, it may not be feasible to take your entire company out to the desert to get them to start thinking more entrepreneurially. So, what is it that Burning Man has? How can you set the stage so that kind of innovation will grow in your community, business or brain?

Image credit: Jared Mechaber

Whether your goal is to get your creative juices flowing, or to facilitate a more experimental and productive workplace, you need to start by eliminating unnecessary regulations and burdensome structure. At Burning Man, “an entrepreneurial spirit is going to come to the forefront very easily because there aren’t a lot of rules, but there is opportunity,” Harley K. Dubois, a co-founder of the event, told Entrepreneur earlier this fall at The Feast, a social innovation conference in Brooklyn, N.Y.

In the nearly three decades that the Burning Man festival has been around, 10 philosophical principles have emerged as guideposts for behavior in the community. But there aren’t expectations or schedules. The community self-regulates, encouraging creativity and discouraging judgment. “It is unrealistic to think people aren’t going to judge. People are people and they do, but when they do and somebody calls you on it, you have to reflect on yourself,” says Dubois.

Burning Man, like entrepreneurship, is an event that requires equal parts organization and whimsy. Festival participants — of whom there are tens of thousands — dress in elaborate costumes and spend significant amounts of time and money preparing accommodations for their stay in the desert. They have to bring everything they’ll need to camp out in the desert and, at the end of their stay, clean up so that the desert is exactly as it was. Participatory art installations dot the landscape of the “playa,” as the area used for the festival is called, and the weeklong celebration culminates in a massive structure of some sort being burned.

Part of the entrepreneurial culture at Burning Man, says Dubois, is that there are no repercussions or penalties for failure when you are out in the middle of the desert. “Failure is part of it. I mean, you should be happy you failed because that means you can get it right next time!”

Burners attempt everything from building airships made of color and light to sail across the Burning Man playa at night to creating man-made mobile “icebergs” for Burners to cool off in and listen to music in. And then there are more practical entrepreneurial operations, like the mobile “Dust City Diner,” which serves hot grilled-cheese sandwiches and coffee to fellow Burners. “We create a vessel and the participants who come to our event bring the content. We are vessel creators. Without the people coming and bringing those costumes, bringing their ideas, bringing their art, bringing everything they bring themselves, this wouldn’t happen,” says Dubois.

While the first iteration of Burning Man was largely about stereotypical “hippie/artist” sorts sleeping in tents on the desert for a week, the last few festivals have been increasingly attended by the Silicon Valley elite in a sort of hedonistic party meets business networking opportunity. Entrepreneurs get funded, co-founders meet and come together and deals are made, all against the backdrop of dust for days and almost-naked revelers. Dubois wishes the Burning Man team had been tracking the businesses that were incubated in its dust-covered-temporary city.

“If we had tracked all these businesses that had come out of the inspiration of Burning Man, we would have a really amazing tree to look at,” she says.

Dig Inn Founder: ‘I Wouldn’t Let People Tell You That You Can’t Do Things’

For farm-to-table eatery Dig Inn to be able to deliver on its mission of making fresh, healthy meals available affordably, it’s going to have to become more than a restaurant: It’s also going to have to reinvent the way food-supply chains work.

“I wouldn’t let people tell you that you can’t do things,” says owner Adam Eskin, speaking to Entrepreneur.com from the eatery’s newest location in lower Manhattan. “I think there is a mindset and a thinking from before of how things get done and what happens in the food space and what happens in food service. The way we are thinking and what we want to achieve in terms of changing the way that people eat, affordably, doesn’t really comport with how things used to be.”

The first iteration of New York City-based Dig Inn was a health chain catering to gym rats, but the concept wasn’t gaining momentum.  In 2011, Eskin pivoted his strategy to focus on the hot farm-to-table trend but instead of concentrating on higher-price points, he aimed to offer customers an affordable meal in a fast-casual setting. For about $10, customers can get a healthy meal based on fresh vegetables, grains and carefully prepared meats. There are currently nine locations in Manhattan, and the chain is growing quickly. Eskin wants to have between 16 and 20 locations opened at the end of next year — and that’s just the beginning.

As Dig Inn grows, so, too, will the quantity of food it serves. This increase in demand will require a little bit of creative planning on Eskin’s part.

For instance, superfood kale is all the craze right now and Eskin is betting that it will remain popular in the future. To keep up with demand, keep prices low and ensure the delivery of quality kale, Dig Inn has established a direct relationship with a kale farmer in upstate New York. To help the farmer, Dig Inn covered some upfront costs, like seeds. Also, from the farmer’s perspective, the direct partnership with Dig Inn represents a steady, reliable income stream.

“It’s kind of a win, win, win, win relationship,” Eskin says.

As Dig Inn continues to grow, first regionally and then nationally, it will have to develop more and more direct relationships with suppliers, cutting out middle brokers. Also, down the road, the company may also may get involved in developing technology to make farming more efficient, says Eskin. While Eskin understands that most restaurants don’t get so deeply involved in innovating supply-chain logistics or farming technology, he realizes that to be able to offer quality food at scale, Dig Inn is going to have to change the status quo.

Watch this video to hear what Eskin dreams for Dig Inn’s future and how he plans to pave new roads to get there.

Forget Practical Choices. To Live Your Best Life, Make Happy Choices.

Most rags-to-riches stories come along with some pretty dour, intimidating advice. “Work harder than everyone else.” “Put in longer hours than everyone else.” “Make the tough decisions, no matter the consequences.” Not this one.

“Ever since I was about seven, I have been of the belief that you make happy choices. Don’t compromise. Don’t let life happen,” says Kevin Roberts, the global CEO of the advertising giant Saatchi & Saatchi. “The people I talk to, they make good choices. Or they make comfortable choices. Or they make rational choices. Or they make sensible choices…These are all rubbish.”

Practical decision making may lead to a decent career, but it won’t catapult you to greatness, he says. It won’t inspire a movement.

Roberts didn’t make it through high school. Born into a working-class family in northern England, he was determined to improve his standing in life and determined to leverage his most natural talent: leadership. Even as a young child, he was consistently put in positions of leadership. Inspiring others came easily.

Roberts didn’t know then that he would become CEO of one of the largest ad agencies on the planet. He didn’t even know he would end up in advertising. But he wanted to be successful and he knew what his natural abilities were.

From there, he worked backwards, determined to get himself in a fast-growing industry where there was a chance to “win through leadership.”

Watch this video to hear Roberts break down the rules he followed in his life to achieve personal success.

The Secret to Keeping Young, Ambitious Talent? Let Them Go.

How does the head of global advertising giant Saatchi & Saatchi keep top talent? He doesn’t. Actually, he’s thrilled to have his employees leave the company, go off and embark upon new adventures.

Kevin Roberts knows that if he gives his employees four things — responsibility, learning, recognition, and joy — they will want to come back. And when they do, they will return even smarter and more skilled.

“We have had people who have left nine times, but have come back 10,” says Roberts.

The company employs 6,000 people, and loses about one-third of them each year, he says. That means, Saatchi & Saatchi, which works with more than half of the biggest 50 advertisers in the world, including the likes of General Mills, Lexus, HSBC, Visa and Toyota, turns over its entire staff every three years. Just thinking about that kind of turnover is enough to give most CEOs a hernia.

But Roberts isn’t most CEOs; in fact he thinks having the title of CEO is generally useless and silly. He also doesn’t like the word “employee,” as he sees it as demeaning and wants every individual to aspire to be a leader in their role. “You can’t get eagles to fly in formation,” he says.

When Roberts hires, he looks for curiosity and passion in equal parts. He doesn’t care if a person comes out of a poetry major in college or an advertising background. He wants Saatchi & Saatchi to be a hothouse for ideas, not a company with rigid hierarchy, strictly enforced rules and painful HR “nonsense.”

The Saatchi & Saatchi entrepreneurial work environment is particularly attractive to millennials, who, as a generation, tend to eschew structure and embrace independence. It’s likely no surprise then, that the average age of an employee working for Roberts is 27. They are “terrific in an amoeba-like, ever changing, connected, collaborative world,” he says.

Millennials are also used to living their lives through computers and online. “It is a connected egalitarian world, more and more, because technology has freed all of us to compete, to win, to grow, to express ourselves, to reach our desires,” says Roberts.

Watch this video to hear Roberts talk more about his counterintuitive non-retention, talent retention strategy.

How to Make 1 Million Dollars Online

I go into detail in the entire episode with specific stories, but below you can see the show notes on what I talk about with building your online business to generate millions. Also note: I recorded this on my iPhone in Spain between practices while playing pro handball with the Reale Ademar team in Leon. This is not recorded in the SOG studio in L.A.

1. Start With Passion

– My Sports Networker Journey, here I share how I got started, and why I started in the sports business.

– How I Utilized LinkedIn marketing to build everything- the list was key for me, and LinkedIn gave me a platform to build an audience and I enjoyed teaching this to others.

– Even more: I started hosting LinkedIn events, wrote a book, then did workshop, speaking, bigger ticket product and webinars.

2. Invest In Yourself

– Keys to Finding Mentors– I cover the importance of investing time into a mentor (and how to find the right one for you)

– Study as much as you can from people you admire or want to be like online. As an athlete I learn from watching other great athletes compete. Apply this to the online business world.

– Investing in your online education: If this means buying a course, software, or hiring a coach… do it!

– Join a mastermind ASAP! This is a HUGE key to making your first million online. It might be the biggest accelerator to achieving this goal.

3. Build Your Audience

– If I could do it all over again I’d just build a list without a site. So many people are concerned with creating a site that they forget the most important thing is building a list. Even when people do have their site up and running they forget to have a place for people to opt in. The site almost becomes pointless when this happens.

4. Learn Sales and Marketing

– You don’t have to be the best at marketing, you just need to know enough to get the job done. Once you do, sales will be your focus. I love using webinars to sell because it’s a great way to build your audience as well. Start with an online bootcamp because you can start selling without having a product (this is key!).

5. Build Credibility

– There are many ways to build credibility online. I mention how to in this episode but to name a few you can write a book about the topic you love, guest post on other sites, speak at trade shows, or write for magazines. Anything to build credibility to increase your personal brand and value perception.

6. Hustle Every Day

– Be as consistent as possible. No one is going to hand you a million dollars. It took me a few years of constant 14 hour days of hustling to the point we generated our first 7 figures. Now I’m able to leverage my time and money to create greater products and live my lifestyle at the next level.

Continue Seeking Greatness:

7 Ways to Network Like a Millionaire

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Image credit: 7 Cups of Tea

The 1 Question That Made Me a Millionaire

Daniel Ally

September 24, 2015

As I was giving a speech in Washington, D.C., a well-dressed man approached me to ask a question. After our interesting discussion, he reached deeply into his pockets and pulled out a stack of cards, spilling them by the dozens as he searched to find his own.

After fishing for almost a minute, he still couldn’t find his business cards, which was a tragedy. He tried to make up for it by scribbling his phone number on another business card, which happened to be the one a woman gave him right before he reached me. As she watched him do this, she shook her head in shame.

This is the atrocity that you can witness every day in the marketplace. This kind of behavior prohibits many people from attaining the wealth and success they are capable of in their lives.

The number one tip in networking is to avoid thinking of it like most people do. After all, why fit in when you can stand out? If you want to stand out, don’t go to the networking event with the wrong intentions.

If you’re there to flirt, eat, or get a job, you’re going to fail. You need to have the right motives, which should be to help people and make a positive impact.

Dale Carnegie once said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

We all know the predominant question for most people is, “What’s in it for me?” If you network like with that question in mind, you’re missing the point.

However, if you go there with the mindset of knowing that 99 percent of people think like that, your chances of networking like a millionaire will skyrocket.

The key question that I ask myself to expand my network is, “How do I add more value to more people in a shorter amount of time?” This question made me a millionaire. After all, if you impact twice as many people, you’ll earn twice as much.

Here are seven approaches to consider:

1. Write a Book

When I first wrote my book, I didn’t realize that it was a business card. In fact, I started to give my book out freely and then began to use my business card as a bookmark. Writing a book is easy and will impress most of the people you meet.

Publishing a book gives you the ultimate credential. Plus, you never know who will be reading it. Imagine handing hundreds of people your book when they ask for a business card. If you have a good idea in your book, people will call you and find a way to help you, especially if it helps them solve their problems.

Related: Networking Is a Contact Sport

2. Publish Articles

My articles have reached millions of people. Most of these people who read them could never help me, but that doesn’t matter. All that really matters is that people are reading my work. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Writing is the beginning of all wealth.” It’s true.

My inbox is filled with people who have requests of all different kinds and many of them are useful. By writing articles, you have the ability to attract thousands or millions to yourself, instead of chasing them down. Plus, it’s easier to have people reach out to you, especially if you gave them what they wanted.

3. Give Speeches

Public speaking is a highly underrated form of networking. This is probably because many people have glossophobia, which is the fear of public speaking. Nonetheless, you can reach more by using this medium to exchange your ideas.

If you’re in business, you have the ability to sell your products and services to a wide variety of people. What’s more amazing is that there are thousands of meetings going on right now and many of them don’t have speakers. If you gave a few speeches per month, your chances of success go up substantially.

4. Connect People

Zig Ziglar once said, “If you help enough people get what they want, you will get what you want.” One day, a realtor called me and found out that I was interested in a house that she did not list. She took the liberty to connect me with her competitor, which is something most realtors would never consider doing.

Later on, I found out the house her competitor showed me wasn’t quite for me. Because of her kind referral, I decided to reach out to her and deal with her again. Eventually, I bought the house and she received a nice commission due to her excellent service. All she did was connect people. No wonder she was the Number 1 realtor in her city.

Related: 4 Business Meetings You Should Never Take

5. Follow Up

It is futile to meet people and not follow up with them. In fact, you might want to go the extra mile by sending them a personal thank-you note. I sometimes send my books to people and you wouldn’t believe the kind of response that I get back.

We are creatures who love to cooperate with each other. Often, people forget that they said certain things at a particular event, and it’s your duty to remind them. If you can follow up in a tactful and diplomatic way, you’ll get to reach the echelons of success. The fortune is in the follow-up.

6. Ask for Introductions

One time, I received an award at a banquet and a woman took a liking to me. As we swerved through hundreds of people, she took me to the seemingly most important people in the room. It was all because I hit the motives in her that most people need: recognition and respect.

Since she had the need to be recognized and respected, she was delighted to learn that I was aware of her self-perceived fame within that particular network. Because of this, she helped me to land one of my biggest opportunities of all time. Never underestimate the introduction. This can be done by email as well.

7. Philanthropy

Once people find out that you’re a donor, you’ll make a lot of friends. Everyone likes people who give money. You don’t have to go around waving a check for your contribution, but you do want people to acknowledge that you are a giver. The secret of living is giving.

Having money does attract all kinds of people, good and bad. However, you should have the discernment that goes along with being wealthy. Make sure that your philanthropy has a long-lasting impact and will help more people. You should always know where your money is going.

Bonus Tip

If you’re serious about increasing your network, you should consider taking up new hobbies. For instance, there are different personalities and temperaments in poker and basketball than there are in golfing and yachting. Since we all have hobbies, you would be better off gravitating toward ones that help you improve your overall “game”.

If you’re going to network, do it right. Skip the name tags and small talk and get straight to business. Make sure that you’re reaching out to people and realize that people are looking for you just as much as you’re looking for them. As Ghandi said, be the change you wish to see in the world. Enjoy networking!

P.S.: Oh, and connect with me.

Related: 6 Ways to Demonstrate Kindness in Business and the Rest of Your Life

5 Frugal Habits of the World’s Richest People

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Image credit: Cavale Doom/Flickr

The Joys and Drawbacks of Dog Ownership for the Harried Entrepreneur

Murray Newlands

September 23, 2015

Just because someone has accumulated a bank account that rivals that of Bill Gates doesn’t mean they spend like there is no tomorrow. Research and anecdote teaches that wealthy people, including the very wealthiest, are surprisingly frugal.

That’s not saying they’re cheap. After all, there is a difference between being cheap and frugal. Frugal means being smarter and wiser at prioritizing your funds, finding the best value and making solid investments, traits that have fattened the bank accounts of the richest people in the world. They have so much wealth because they realize the real value of money.

Here are some of the frugal habits of the wealthy you adapt to build up your own hefty bank account.

1. They use coupons.

Surprisingly, households with average incomes of $100,000 or more use more coupons than those that bring in under $35,000. Celebrities including Carrie Underwood, Lady Gaga, Kristen Bell and Hilary Swank are just a few examples of wealthy individuals who are fans of coupons.

As a whole, it’s been found that an astounding “71 percent of the affluent use paper coupons every month, with 54 percent using online coupons every month.”

Related: 5 Habits of the Wealthy That Helped Them Get Rich

2. They live below their means.

The super rich are also known for living well below their means – even as far as cutting their own hair. One example of this is that they don’t see a vehicle as a status symbol. Instead, they realize that a car serves just one purpose; to get from Point A to Point B.

Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart, famously drove around in a 1979 Ford F150 pickup truck. Walton’s son, Jim drove an older Dodge Dakota despite being worth over $16 billion. Mark Zuckerberg owns a modest $30,000 Acura TSX entry-level sedan, the 61st richest person in the world Azim Premji drove a Toyota Corolla, and Warren Buffett recently sold his 2006 Cadillac, which was noted for not being anything special, for a new model.

Many very rich people live in modest homes. Warren Buffett still resides in the house he bought bought for $31,500 in Omaha, Nebraska in 1958. Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Cook and Christy Walton all live in modest homes.

Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad, Hobby Lobby founder David Green and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer prefer to fly commercial, and even coach. Bill Gates was known to fly commercial for years. Azim Premji usually stays at company guest houses.

Finally, the wealthy don’t spend money on only luxury clothing. John Caudwell, an auto-shop owner who entered the cell phone business in 1987 and is now worth $2.6 billion, has stated “I don’t need Saville Row suits” and “I don’t need to spend money to bolster my own esteem.”

In fact, 74 percent of the super rich shop at Wal-Mart, while only 6 percent shop at Brooks Brothers.

Related: 4 Smart Money Habits to Help You Earn Your First Million Dollars

3. They are charitable.

One of the more interesting habits that the rich have in common is their willingness to donate a vast majority of their wealth to a charitable cause. Zappos’ Tony Hsieh personally invested $350 million in the Downtown Project to improve downtown Las Vegas. Chuck Feeney, the co-founder of Duty Free Shops, has donated more than $4 billion to disadvantaged children and public health initiatives. Other wealthy individuals including Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, George Soros, Mark Zuckerberg, and Michael Bloomberg have donated huge chunks of their fortunes.

4. They value quality over quantity.

Wealthy individuals aren’t cheap, and certainly are not against enjoying themselves, but they put more thought into their purchases. For example, T. Boone Pickens has said,  “I don’t go cheap on anything, but I’m not a shopper. If I want something, I look at it, decide what it is, but it will usually be the best product. I’ve got a pair of loafers that I still wear that I got in 1957.”

5. They don’t carry wads of cash.

It’s been found that “86 percent of people who spend cash on luxuries like expensive cars, jewelry, and electronics are non-millionaires trying to act the part by purchasing luxury brands.”

Take the advice of oil mogul T. Boone Pickens and carry around only the cash that you need for what you intend to buy. According to Brad Klontz, a CFP professional and associate professor of personal financial planning at Kansas State University, the rich are often “money vigilant.” They avoid credit debt, and “are more anxious about making sure they have enough money and are managing it well.”

Related: 4 Ways to Be a Frugal CEO

When Millionaires Make Mistakes

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Image credit: Ewan Burns

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September 13, 2015

This story first appeared in the September issue of Entrepreneur. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Like most notable entrepreneurs, our Young Millionaires were not instant successes- all have weathered their share of misfires, failures and utter flops. But they learned valuable lessons along the way.

Passion is Everything.

Image credit: Jeff Clark

Max Mullen knew he wanted to launch a startup, even if he wasn’t fully enthusiastic about the idea. In 2010, he introduced a social networking tool called Volly. The business failed within a year.

“I didn’t have a passion for it,” he admits. “Passion drives a sense of urgency and tenacity; without it, when you reach a stumbling block, you give up. It made me realize that if I’m not passionate about something, it’s not worth doing. I’m passionate about Instacart, and that has driven its success.”

Successful Businesses Can Rise From The Ashes of Failure.

Image credit: Natalie Brasington

“I was working on a startup for about a year and a half,” says Taso Du Val. “It didn’t go very well. It went nowhere. No one believed in the idea. No one believed in me. No one would give me any money. It was rock bottom.”

However, he persevered. He worked on the popular art startup Art.sy, putting together an angel round with former colleagues from social media company Slide, where he had served as a lead engineer. While doing so, he “stumbled across” the opportunity for Toptal, his successful staffing business.

“What I’ve learned looking back is that no matter how hard times are, and personally, they were hard—my father was dying, I had no money and no one would fund me, people didn’t believe me—looking at that, it’s like, ‘Well, I’ve been there. How does it get worse from here? I’ve already dealt with these horrible situations, and I’m past it.’ Getting past those really challenging situations makes you a stronger person.”

Staffing and Managing Are Learned Skills.

Image credit: Ewan Burns

Few people are born leaders; most entrepreneurs learn on the job how to get the best results out of their staffs. Glossier’s Emily Weiss admits that at age 30 she’s not the most experienced CEO. “Managing is not what I thought it was going to be,” she says. “I always thought managing was about putting people in their place—finding the perfect fit for them. But I’m learning it’s better to get people out of their place. That’s where they’re more productive and useful.”

As a young entrepreneur, she has come to realize that evolving companies have evolving personnel needs. “I also learned to take the short view on hiring, making sure to hire for the next 18 months, instead of looking for that person who’s going to have the job for the next three years. We’re going to be a totally different company by then, and who I need in the future is different than who I need right now.”

Rushing to Market Rarely Succeeds.

Image credit: Jude Edginton

Austin McChord learned this the hard way.

“We’ve succeeded through a string of failures. There have been an enormous number of challenges, especially when the business was really small,” says the founder of data recovery business Datto. “We pretty much made every imaginable mistake out there. At one point, a competitor released an updated product … so we created a new product very quickly that we thought could compete. We ended up making a huge mistake and created a product that didn’t work very well. That was an incredible learning experience of everything not to do. The pain we put some of our early customers through with that product was immense and almost put us out of business.”

McChord and his team managed to regroup and create a successor to that failed product that was “incredibly reliable and allowed us to continue to grow much more than with anything we’d built before. That was our Siris product line, which now represents north of 80 percent of our sales.”

What did he learn? “It’s really important that everything we do is tested thoroughly and that the product is reliable, because people absolutely depend on it, and your reputation is everything. When you ship a product that is not reliable, it’s incredible how much you can damage your brand and reputation, and how fast that can happen. Nothing can make you fall out of favor more than having a tarnished brand, so you have to work really hard to make sure your products live up to the promises that you make.”

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