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Strategies & Tools for More Productivity & Free Time

How to Start a Business With No Money

Everyone wants to be an entrepreneur these days, you might have a really great idea that you think can change the game or you just might want to have your own business and be your own boss. Either way, chances are that you won’t actually end up doing something because you don’t have the money. However, there are always ways to get around that problem and actually start a business with no, or very little money!

Below are some tips that can help you get moving in the right direction:

1. Use the Resources at Your Disposal

You can literally start a business with the resources you have at hand. It could be anything at all which you already possess. You own a car or a pickup truck? Well then you could rent your car or even start a delivery business! Have a kitchen and you can bake? Then you could easily start a business all by yourself and wouldn’t need any cash to start it up. [Rachel Bridge]

2. Secure a Small Business Loan

Many governments offer loan programs specifically designed to get small businesses off the ground. Even some banks have programs for small business owners and startups in order for them to be able to raise some money for starting up their business. These loans are usually secured if you have a sound idea and good planning, plus may also give the benefit of lower interest rates.

3. Employ less, Do More!

Having a startup with low budget will require you to do most of the work yourself. If you have no money to pay for staffing, you have to be willing to put in a lot of extra work and sweat your way through to success. In the start, you should be focused on not having employees do work for you but rather do everything yourself or even getting part time college students and employing them on commission basis to sustain your business. As Ryan Westwood correctly puts it, “there’s no substitute for sweat equity”.

4. Start Slow

Jayson Demers suggests that sometimes you have to hold up all of your ideas and give your business a sort of ‘warmup’ period in the start. By doing this, instead of going full throttle with your entire business idea you’ll start with the basics and start with maybe one idea instead of all of them. It can be hard to finance entire business ideas and thus it could be easy for startup owners will little money to inaugurate their businesses with just one niche service in order to be sustainable. This will allow you to get off the ground and get a head start, you could probably run it on your own and thus be able to start slow and build your business from the ground up.

6 Powerful Muhammad Ali Quotes for Entrepreneurs

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Last week we lost Muhammad Ali, “The People’s Champ”. He was undoubtedly the greatest boxer of all time, but at the same time he was a great human being and his life in and outside the ring offers so many great lessons for every human being. As a tribute to the Champ, we have rounded up 6 of his power quotes that can be an inspiration to every entrepreneur:

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”

For all those who live in fear of the difficult challenges in life or those who stay away from taking a big risk, Muhammad Ali showed that if you just put in hard work into what you’re doing and give it your 100%, then even the impossible will become a mere achievement for you!

“If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it – then I can achieve it.”

This is for the budding entrepreneurs who believe they have an idea, a hope of creating something new and extraordinary. Muhammad Ali tells us that if our mind can come up with a glimmer of an idea then there is nothing that can stop us from taking a chance and believing in our idea, because believing in something can be the difference between success and failure.

“The man with no imagination has no wings.”

This quote defines one of the most important qualities that an entrepreneur must possess. Imagination. Without this, an entrepreneur cannot innovate or create newer and better platforms for himself or his business.

“He who’s not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”

Being a successful entrepreneur means taking big risks. Without taking risks and just playing it safe all the time, no business owner can successfully establish him or herself in the corporate world. Sometimes you have to just believe and put in everything you have into a venture in order to be successful.

“The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up.”

If you’re sitting at home, trying to figure out a reason for why you haven’t been successful yet or why you’ve been stuck in the same situation for a long time, then all you need to do is wake up from your slumber! You need to start working harder, realize what you’re doing wrong and make goals and remedies to take your ideas and business to new heights. If you don’t wake up and take a good hard look at yourself, you won’t achieve your dreams.

“Inside of a ring or out, ain’t nothing wrong with going down. It’s staying down that’s wrong.”

You may experience some low moments, betrayals or even failures within your entrepreneurial journey, but you need to keep fighting. Not giving up is the key, to bounce back up, free yourself of the mistakes of your past and to learn from them is what keeps you going. Failures will come, the most successful are those who learn to get back up!

5 Tips to Create Effective Newsletters

Email Newsletter is one of the most common internet marketing tools, but one of the hardest to do effectively. If not designed correctly many times they are left unread in the inbox. But if you can nail this, newsletters can become a very powerful and highly-effective way to generate leads, increase customer loyalty, and drive organic traffic to your website. Below are some tips that can help you create an effective newsletter campaign:

1. Optimize for Mobile

As mentioned in an article by Momentology, “According to Unbounce, 75 percent of subscribers may delete a non-mobile optimized email”, it is of utmost importance to create a newsletter that is mobile friendly. No matter which device your audience uses to view your newsletter, it should look appealing in order to increase the open rate.

2. Keep it Short

As Colleen Corkery mentions in her post that according to statistics an average person spends around 51 seconds in reading a newsletter. Yes you read that correct, 51 seconds! So rather than creating long boring posts, keep your content scannable with content blocks, brief blurbs, snapshots, takeaways and/or bullet points and including call-to-action buttons will give your readers’ eyes a scanning sigh of relief. Provide just enough info to build the reader’s interest and then add call to action button and links to redirect them to your website/blog etc., for more info.

3. 90% Education and 10% Promotional

Readers don’t always want to hear about your product and you should keep that in mind while designing your newsletter. Ginny Soskey suggests that, “In your email newsletters, get rid of the self-promotion (most of the time) and focus on sending your subscribers educational, relevant, timely information. Unless you actually have an exciting, big piece of news about your product, service, or company”. The more you generate content that can be educational and entertaining for your reader the higher chances you have of your emails being actually opened and read.

4. Get Creative with Subject Lines

Subject lines are as important as the actual newsletter. You may have an amazing newsletter, but if you can’t get your customers to open it, then it’s of no use. So the first step is to intrigue your customer through your subject line to make them click on your email. Hostway suggests that “When creating your subject lines, think about the headlines that grab your attention in newspapers, magazines and emails you read and then model your subject lines after these headlines. Keep you subject lines short, simple and to-the-point with a twist of intrigue thrown in for good measure.”

5. Make it Easy to Unsubscribe

This may look like counter intuitive, but rather than having a long list of people who do not open your emails and bring your open rate down, you should have a short list of people who are actually interested in reading your newsletters. Make sure it is easy for the reader to find and use the unsubscribe option if they are no longer interested in hearing from you. This might shorten your list but will lead to have people who are genuinely interested in getting your emails.

5 Tips for Successful Goal Setting

Goal setting is very important in order to be able to achieve what you desire whether it is personal or professional life. However setting the wrong goals or unrealistic goals can become a roadblock in the path of success.  Here are our five tips to help you set goals that pave the way for the results you want:

1. Define Your Dreams and Goals

Humans have the desire of leading a better life and thus they set some goals for themselves to achieve this dream. In order to be able to establish your goals, you need to know what your dreams are. Once you have determined what you really want from life only then you can set goals that can lead you to achieve what you want. Jim Rohn suggests to Take time to be quiet ….. Think about what would you love to accomplish? What would you try if you were guaranteed to succeed?” List down all your dreams and then prioritize them according to what is more important and feasible. Once you have done that you are in a better position to set your goals.

2. Use S.M.A.R.T Goals Approach

The SMART goals approach has been utilized for years now, because they work. Sarah Hensen also suggests in her article that when setting goals be sure that they are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound (have a deadline).

3. Make an Action Plan

The step that most people miss out is making an action plan to achieve the goals. In order to be able to achieve your goals successfully it is important to outline the steps that need to be taken to reach the desired outcome. An article by MindTools suggests that, “By writing out the individual steps, and then crossing each one off as you complete it, you’ll realize that you are making progress towards your ultimate goal. This is especially important if your goal is big and demanding, or long-term.”

4. Take the First Step

By now you have identified your dreams, decided your goals and made an action plan. Now the most important thing to do is taking the first step towards your destination. Identify the first step from your action plan and begin your journey.

5. Review and Revise

Change is the only constant in this world. You should always review your goals and action plan to see whether it is helping you in achieving what you want. If you feel that your targets have changed and your goals are no longer aligned with your desires and needs you should replace them with new goals and revise your action plan accordingly. As Steven Robbins writes in his article, “We adopt goals to change our lives. Rather than adopting a goal you hope will change your life once you reach it, do it the other way around. Choose the journey that for you would be awesome—and then choose a goal that acts as a compass to give you that life as part of the journey.”

5 Reasons to Stop Multitasking

The ability to Multitask is considered a positive trait in a person and usually a mandatory job requirement, however research has now proven that not only does it affect work quality, but may also affect your brain and IQ.

1. Human Brain is Not Built to Multitask.

As Devora Zack point out in her article, “Multitasking is a myth; it simply doesn’t exist.” MIT’s Dr. Earl Miller explains that human brain cannot simultaneously process separate streams of information from multiple tasks because there’s interference between the two tasks. What we have branded as multi-tasking is simply task-switching at a very rapid pace.

2. It Affects Your Memory

Simone Smith writes in her article that “In 2011, the University of California, San Francisco published a research study showing how quickly shifting from one task to another impacts short term memory.” This can have serious damages to your memory as you grow older.

3. It Makes You Less Productive

We all have been assuming that multitasking makes us more productive. Well, that us not true. In reality “multitasking creates mental blocks that can result in as much as a 40 percent loss in production time.” It is better to prioritize your workday and identify your important tasks and get them done one by one.

4. It Lowers Work Quality

Larry Kim mentions in his article that “Multitasking makes it more difficult to organize thoughts and filter out irrelevant information, and it reduces the efficiency and quality of our work.” His argument is backed by a study at the University Of London showing that subjects who multi-tasked while performing cognitive tasks experienced significant IQ drops, which were similar to that of individuals who either skipped a night of sleep or smoked marijuana.

5. It Affects Your Creativity

According to a research done at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Multitasking requires a lo t of what’s known as “working memory,” or temporary brain storage. It can thus affect our ability to think creatively. The researcher concluded that with so much is going on in multitaskers brains, that they often find it hard to daydream and generate spontaneous “a ha moments” as compared to people who do not multitask.

5 Ways to Be More Productive Working From Home

Working from may home may seem easy, but once you start you get to know how difficult it is to get into the working mode wile you are still in your PJs. Here are some useful tips to make your work from home routine more productive:

1. Set Your Working Hours

Melissa Stanger suggests that “If you commit yourself to specific hours like you do at the office, you’re more likely to get work done during those hours.”

Analyze your day and identify which hours work best for you, it could be any part of the day but once you decide you need to follow your schedule religiously.

2. Choose a Dedicated Work Space

As Eric Devent quotes in his article, “Have a place you go specifically to work. It could be a certain table, chair, local coffee shop — some place that’s consistently your ‘ work space.’ It helps you get into the right frame of mind.” A dedicated work space not only allows you to get into the work mode but also lets other people know this so that they do not disturb you in that time.

3. Take Breaks

Kelsey Libert writes in her article that “It may seem counter-intuitive to take breaks in order to be more productive, but research has shown that the most productive workers focus for 52 minutes, then disengage for 17 minutes. These rest periods help the mind come back refreshed and better prepared to see new angles on challenges. So rather than working non-stop and bringing down your productivity, you should take small breaks in between to freshen up and start with a re-energized focus.

4. Get Dressed for Work

As Melanie Pinola rightly outs it, “getting to work in your PJs is one of the big benefits to working on your own, but it doesn’t help you get into a work frame of mind.” She suggests that one should change into working clothes, not necessariry anything too formal but at least wear pants or a skirt to have that feeling of being at work. Later on you can change into your non-work clothes which will help you create a mental framework for working and then getting off from work as well.

5. Know When to Stop Working

Working from home does not mean that you work all the time or whenever you come up with an idea. As suggested by ZenHabits.com, “Set defined times when you’re going to work, and then when it passes, stop. You can have a bit of leeway here, but make sure that you don’t end up letting work run your life.”

 

How to Run a Successful Virtual Meeting?

The technological advancements of the modern era has given birth to the idea of having a group of people geographically dispersed working as a team. Although this phenomenon brings in a lot of advantages but also has some problems. One of them might be conducting virtual meetings effectively. Since most of us are used to having face-to-face meetings therefore conducting a virtual meeting that yields the anticipated results might become difficult. Here are some tips to overcome the usual problems and run successful virtual meetings:

1. Set Clear Meeting Agenda

As Jaleh Bisharet suggests, “Before every meeting, ask yourself: What should we leave with that we didn’t have before we started?” Asking this question will help you identify a set of goals that you want to reach at the end of the meeting and enable you to set an agenda. Once you have set an agenda you will be able to asses who the meeting  participants should be what you expect from each of them. Setting the meeting agenda and circulating it among the participants beforehand will help ensure to keep meeting on track, and achieve what you planned on.

2. Encourage Participation

As Esther Schindler mentioned, “Common pet peeves among frequent online meeting participants reflect the tendency for people to become distracted from the matter at hand.” In a virtual meeting there are high chances of participants trying to get other things done simultaneously, however multitasking will not lead to achieving the desired meeting goals. A good way to avoid this is to encourage participation and engage the participants so that they pay attention to matters at hand rather than checking emails or trying to multitask.

3. Turn the Video On

Keith Ferrazi believes that it is important to turn on the video in a virtual meeting. “Since everyone on the call is separated by distance, the best thing you can do to make everyone at least feel like they’re in the same room is to use video.” In a video meeting everyone can see each other’s facial expressions, which matters alot. It will also help in minimizing chances of people getting distracted. With the video turned on everyone will feel connected just like in a normal meeting.

4. Take Notes

Brad Volin suggests that “Meeting minutes play a critical role in helping team members remember what was said and what’s next.” He suggests that Minutes-On-The-Go method offered by Arvind Malhotra, Ann Majchrzak, and Benson Rosen. One person is assigned for taking minutes during the meeting. At the end you can view these minutes and summarize action items and due dates for these easily.

5. Meeting Equipment

In order to run a successful virtual meeting, it is important to choose the correct tools and technologies. Depending on your meeting requirements, you can start with just an internet connection, audio (from computer speakers, microphone etc.), and a webcam. For larger groups you may use some more sophisticated video conferencing equipment, if required.

The most effective web conferences are those that only use the technology that is needed. KIS—keep it simple— is the best way to have people focus on your message and not the technology”Make sure to check the video conferencing system before you start the meeting to avoid any delays and technical glitches during the meeting.

4 Ways to Network With Other Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs, especially first time entrepreneurs tend to focus on their vision and product so much that they sometimes ignore or underestimate the importance of some other things; networking with other entrepreneurs is one such area. Networking with other like minded people helps one to become better interconnected within their line of work and it also opens doors to new opportunities.

So how can entrepreneurs take out time from their busy schedules to fit in networking. Here are our top 4 tips to become better netwroker:

1. Be Active on Twitter

Jonathan Long states that “There are several social networks that can be used to successfully network and connect with entrepreneurs — but Twitter is full of real-time action.” This is because Twitter feed is constantly giving breaking news and information for every industry. It is simple and the 140-character limit helps in eliminating lengthy time consuming messages. You can identify people who are tweeting about the same things as you and easily connect with them.

2. Join An Organization for Entrepreneurs

Another great way to network with other entrepreneurs is to join an entrepreneurial organization. According to Brian Truong, “These organizations provide several benefits aside from just the networking and connections — the exposure, advice and mentoring that can originate from these types of entrepreneurial organizations is priceless.”

3. Attend Industry Events

Attending industry events is another great way to meet others like minded individuals. According to Conversational.com, “You may meet potential clients that love the industry you work in or you may meet the right vendors, future hires or businesses you can work together on projects with.” While others are trying to network through online media you can have an advantage by having face to face interaction with your peers and potential clients. Look for events, conferences and seminars from where you can learn something or have something to offer.

4. Help Others

As Susan Rittscher mentions, “The final key to success builds on old fashioned notions. You will only be as successful as you help others to be successful.” Helping others will not only enable others to succeed, but it will also enable you to grow personally and professionally. Help others, recommend them, give them suggestions, refer them clients and you will not only feel good about yourself but will also make a long term connection.

How to Wake Up Early?

Everyone is aware of the famous quote by Benjamin Franklin, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

However a lot of people struggle with rising up early due to a lot of reasons and habits. But as Leo Babauta writes “Waking early can give you an hour or three of extra time for focus and creativity.” Waking up early has a lot advantages and if you look at the life of successful and productive entrepreneurs, you will see one common habit, they are all early risers.

Here are a few tips to help you in becoming a morning person:

1. Have a Strong Reason to Wake Up Early

Unless you have a purpose to wake up early, you will not be able to convince yourself to become an early riser. As Celestine Chua puts it, Almost all attempts to wake up early fail because there isn’t a strong enough reason driving this habit change”. So before you try to change your routine make sure you have a strong reason that you are convinced on 100%.

2. Make Gradual Lifestyle Changes

In order to be able to train your body to go to bed early and rise early too, it is important that you make gradual changes to your routine rather than trying to wake up at 5AM or 6AM after sleeping at 2AM or 3AM. This would also be extremely helpful if you are a night owl used to sleeping at 8AM and then waking up in the evening.

As Charlie Mendoza suggests, Do it in increments, so instead of sleeping at the same time, say 8 AM, sleep 15 minutes earlier and wake up 15 minutes earlier ….. If you do this continuously, you’ll be a morning person in less than a month.”

3. Do not Hit Snooze

As Jeff Goins mentions in his article, “Hitting your alarm’s snooze button doesn’t give you more of the restful REM sleep. Your body and mind aren’t recuperating you’re just wasting time.”

In fact if you are in a habit of hitting snooze regularly your mind will become used to ignoring the alarm. It is a good idea to keep your alarm across the room so that you have to get up to turn it off. This way you will have to get out off bed and there will be no urge to hit the snooze button.

4. Create an appealing early-morning routine.

Create a morning routine that gets you excited. It could be few minutes of meditation or a hot cup of coffee or some other activity that gets you motivated. As per Katherine Martinko, “Easing gently into the day makes it a lot easier to get up, rather than leaping into jogging clothes and hitting the empty streets for an early morning run (although that might work for some highly energetic individuals!).”

5. Get Enough Sleep

Although everyone’s sleep requirement is different from each other, but generally a person needs to get at least 6-8 hours of sleep. Another important factor is to get quality sleep rather than focusing on quantity. The better your sleep quality is the easier it will be for you to wake up early and not feel tired or fatigued. (Peter Clemens)

8 Tools to Run Your Business From Anywhere

These days working from has become very common. Surveys show that in 2014 almost 23% of Americans have worked from home. So how to run your business from anywhere? Here are our pick of tools that can enable you to quit the 9-5 routine and run your business from anywhere in the world:

1. Trello (Project Management)

Working virtually makes managing projects and teams difficult unless you have a system to track and manage everything. Sujan Patel recommends Trello for effective project and team management. Trello enable you to “create tasks in various lists, drag them from one list to the next, assign them to team members and more.” Start using Trello today and Stay on top of work and manage your team no matter where you are.

2. PayPal or Transferwise

This is one of the easiest solution for sending and receiving money, especially if you tend to work from home or on the go. “No worrying about exchange rates, corrupt banks or mailing payments — just use PayPal to securely send money wherever it needs to go. You can even get a PayPal MasterCard linked to your account to make purchasing easy as well.” (Sujan Patel)

You can also use Transferwise instead of PayPal if it is not supported in your country.

3. Boomerang

According to Nikul Patel Boomerang is a great tool for all those people who work from abroad or on the go. He says that “when you work abroad, the time zone you are in might not match that of your customers and/or employees. Using Boomerang, you will be able to schedule Gmail emails so that they get sent at times of your choice.” It is flexible and compatible with all major browsers.

4. Dropbox

When the whole word is your office, you are going to need a virtual place to safely store all of your documents. As Rose mentions in her article, “the one name that comes to mind is Dropbox.” You can get the basic (free) account or upgrade to a paid one as required. Dropbox is probably the best place to securely store all your important files and also be able to share them with anyone you want.

5. Skype

When you work virtually, you would need figure out some way to connect with clients and co-workers. For this purpose the simplest tool you can use is Skype. You can video call, voice calls, conference call meetings, file sharing etc.

6. Hootsuite

Without maintaining a strong presence on different social media networks it is almost impossible to market and promote your business in the today’s world. Hoosuite is an app that enables you to manage your social media marketing efficiently. “You can schedule posts, receive recommendations on who to friend and follow, pull clickthrough data from your social networks and keep in touch with your customers and partners in one easy-to-understand place.” 

7. MailChimp

Natalie Sisson recommends Mailchimp in her article to “anyone starting out in email marketing because it’s so simple to use, and easy to navigate.” Mailchimp makes your life easier by enabling you to design beautiful newsletters and email without being a pro. You can manage your subscribers, track your campaigns and set up auto-responders to welcome your new subscriber.

8. Perssist

You can not run a business alone. As the business grows, so will the work and you might need an extra pair of hands to take care of the routine tasks so that you can focus on the bigger picture. This is exactly what Perssist enables you to do. You can hire Perssist virtual assistants for simple but time consuming business and personal tasks such as research, scheduling appointments, finding a gift for your spouse, etc. Just open your request, mention how much time you need to be spent on the task and enjoy the results.

 

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