Archives for September 2013

How to be a Balanced Entrepreneur

When it comes to professions, being an entrepreneur is probably one of the most imbalanced. The reason is that there are extreme highs as an entrepreneur and, occasionally, crushing lows. Depending on how competitive the market that you are trying to break into is, trying to find any sort of rhythm can really take its toll mentally and physically and entrepreneurs tend to burn out very soon in some cases. That being said there are number of things that you can do as entrepreneur to smooth out the “roller coaster ride” and stay sane.

  1. Use routines instead of “to do” lists. Busy entrepreneurs use tools like Evernote to manage everything on their “to do” list but rarely get everything done that’s on them. It would be better to replace these lists with routines, habits and rituals that help you to bundle good habits together, make regular time for yourself and give you some time between work and non-work activities. For example, if you’re a “morning person” and you find that your creativity is flowing best then, don’t waste time checking email in the morning and instead do tasks that need you to be creative.
  2. Meditation actually it’s very helpful. As entrepreneurs we spent a lot of time thinking, agonizing, obsessing and analyzing practically every detail of what we’re doing with our businesses. In other words, we spend a lot of time in our heads and, occasionally, we need to get away from ourselves. One of the best ways to do this is meditation. It’s easier than most people think and includes breathing techniques that don’t exactly eliminate your thoughts entirely but allow you to relax your mind, focus and, in most cases, go back to work refreshed and ready.
  3. Regular exercise is vital. Yes, it’s easy to use the excuse that you “don’t have time” when you’re an entrepreneur running around trying to get a million things done. Actually however, neglecting to take care of your body can destroy your productivity in the long run and actually cause you to lose more time than exercising itself would take. In tip number 1 we mentioned to use “routines” and one of the most vital routines that you can have as an entrepreneur is an exercise routine, matter what type of exercise you’re into. It’s an excellent stress reducer, increases serotonin and endorphin levels that can help keep you calm, and can actually give you an amazing energy boost.
  4. Make sure you’re eating high quality food. Another problem that entrepreneurs have is that, since we’re running around like chickens without heads, we tend to purchase food that’s easy to eat on the go. The problem is that all of that processed, fatty, high sugar and high carbohydrate food can actually rob your body of the nutrients that you need to be able to focus, concentrate and really get things done. Fresh fruits and vegetables, plenty of water and a lot less “fast food” will definitely go far towards keeping your energy high and your waistline low.
  5. Stay connected with family and friends. Yes, entrepreneurship comes with lots of late nights, early mornings and “working weekends”. There’s always one last email to check and one last task to get done, something that can seem, at times, to be diametrically opposed to having what most call a “normal social life”. The fact is however that humans are social animals and social interaction is something we desperately need. The support and care of those you love the most can help you to overcome the burdens of entrepreneurship and are vital to your mental health.
  6. Disconnect from technology on a regular basis. Listen, we’re not machines. Occasionally we need to turn things off completely. That means the laptop, the smart phone and, today, the tablet. Simply put, when you have a designated time every week that you put down your devices and unplug from the “electronic world” to relax, work out, meditate, enjoy the outdoors and even take a nap, you’ll find that your mental state is much more calm and less agitated.

Entrepreneurship is, in many ways, absolutely amazing and something that most entrepreneurs wouldn’t give up for anything else. The thrill of running your business, being the person in charge and getting accolades when things go right is a heady one to say the least. That being said, if you follow the tips above you’ll enjoy the ride much more and be able to keep going much longer without a high risk of burnout. So enjoy yourselves but, make sure that you take time to relax and take care of yourself, and join those poor SOB’s out in the “real world”, even if it’s just to laugh at them a little.

Entrepreneurial Tips from Successful Entrepreneurs

According to the statistics from the Small Business Administration only 1 out of 3 new businesses will survive until the 10 year mark. While those statistics may be daunting and, if you are considering starting your own business, rather depressing, there are certainly plenty of small businesses that do succeed and entrepreneurs who have done what it takes to make it past 10 years.

If you’re keen on making it as an entrepreneur today’s blog should be very helpful as we’ve taken tips that successful entrepreneurs have given us over the years and put them together here for you to read, use and be inspired by. Enjoy.

While you may have heard this first one already, it begs repeating. Simply put, in order to succeed you must love what you do. Lisa King is the CEO of Brownie Points, Inc., a company that sells gourmet brownies as well as beautiful gift baskets for the holidays. Ms. King realizes that the road to success is a hard one but she also believes that it’s much easier if what you’re doing is something that you are very passionate about. “If you don’t [love what you do], it’s hard to be successful,” she says. Ms. King also adds that staying positive is vital to the success of any business. “You need to maintain your optimism. Once it’s gone, you’re done.”

Our second tip comes from Mike Mondello, president of SeaBear, a company that supplies fresh as well as smoked wild salmon directly to their customers. His advice: build a team of people around you that share your vision. For Mr. Mondello it’s more than just hiring experienced people but rather to hire people who feel exactly the same way about you do as far as the product or service that you’re going to be producing. For example, when bringing to life his vision of a world class seafood brand that was sustainable, his team meetings revolved around fisherman who had developed a better way to catch salmon that actually delivered an end product superior to other salmon products.

Robin Brocklesby of Creative Coverings, a company that caters to formal events with specialized linens, has this bit of advice: solve problems with innovative solutions. Ms. Brocklesby certainly takes her own advice and, when customers were having trouble returning linens that they had rented back to her company, she had specially designed bags created that replaced the boxes she was using as well as having a 300 use lifespan. Not only did she solve her problem but she also lowered her operating costs.

Creating a truly delightful customer experience is another tip from Mike Mondello of SeaBear. As Mr. Mondello will tell you, in order to win customers over, there are several components that need to come together and usually these components are handled by different people in the organization. “It’s mission critical that everyone on our team understands how they fit into the brand and what they bring to the value chain that delivers a successful customer experience,” Mondello says. Ms. King from Brownie Points adds that partnering with outside vendors and other companies that share your vision and want to keep customers extremely happy is also vital.

When SeaBear outsourced its call center a few years back during the holidays, they quickly found that their orders were riddled with errors. That’s why Mike suggested that, as an entrepreneur, you need to quickly learn from your mistakes. As soon as he realized what was happening, Mike and his team stopped outsourcing and personally contacted every customer that was affected by the poor customer service, something that really impressed many of their customers and kept them coming back. Another thing that they realized is that testing new processes should always be done when new orders are lower and never during a busy period like the holiday season.

Ms. King from Brownie Points suggests that new entrepreneurs rely on people smarter than they are. “Surround yourself with people who know more than you do,” King advises. “I was a schoolteacher [prior to going into business] and there were a lot of things I had to learn,” she recalls. Luckily she realized right away that she needed to hire people had the knowledge and/or skills that she lacked and rely on them for that knowledge and skill.

Lastly there is the advice from Larry Sweet, founder of Save-A-Load Inc. That advice; never sacrifice on quality. Sweet’s company makes load bars that truckers and delivery companies can use in their cargo areas to hold their cargo in place while it’s being transported. His company stands behind their product and provides a lifetime warranty to all customers, something that has helped them to see double-digit growth since being founded in 1993.

As an entrepreneur all of these tips are extremely valuable and should always be at the forefront of anything and any business that you’re going to start. All of these entrepreneurs used them to build successful companies that have gone well past the 10 year mark and look to keep going well into the future.

Top Tips to Make a Business Sustainable

An increasing amount of companies worldwide voluntarily adopt corporate social responsibility measures or concepts that increase their eco-friendliness and sustainability. But what exactly is it that motivates a company to voluntarily apply self-restraining measures that benefit its customers and, ultimately, society? While some businesses might be heavily influenced by the philanthropic character of their founders or CEOs and for this reason improves their sustainability, the fundamental purpose of any business remains to make profits. Although this might sound contradictory, sustainability offers a wide range of possibilities not only to cut costs but also for internal improvement.


Going Green

While an effort to become more sustainable provides opportunities to save money, businesses should always be wary to also stay competitive with non-green companies. However, this should not be too difficult as many green ideas are effectively cost cutting measures, such as saving paper, switching to energy-saving bulbs, or using energy-efficient hardware. But simply replacing wasteful electronics and urging employees to use less paper doesn’t make your business fully sustainable, it is merely a start. Instead, what a business will need is to develop a strategy to achieve maximum sustainability in a certain time-frame, because it is important to try out what eco-frienldy methods or practice works for a business and which don’t. A crucial step is to analyze a company’s energy consumption and their respective carbon footprint. With this knowledge, companies can work on reducing the negative eco impact they have. One basic investment in that direction is the implementation of green technologies that will even help you to cut costs in terms of utilities, such as Trina Solar solar panels. They will provide green energy and almost free in the long run, thus take a big chunk out of a company’s utilities bill.


A Joint Effort

When going green, it is important for a company that everyone is on board, from the average employee to the CEO. Simply enforcing green measures will certainly not fail, but if something is advertised as a duty, it is not as well received. Instead, the staff should be incentivized and motivated to participate, not only by explaining the implications of sustainability but also by way of further corporate social responsibility measures that will benefit the staff directly. A green company provides employees with an ideal to which they will gladly contribute, which in turn is a basic factor of improving productivity and the workplace environment. Ultimately, a company’s effort to go green, benefits everyone involved.