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How to be a Successful Entrepreneur

Most entrepreneurs will tell you their original business idea bloomed from a passion. That passion is different for all of us-a baker might love the art of cake decorating, while a hair salon owner might love the creative aspects of style. Passion can drive you to dream big and start your business; you want to love what you do and harness your passion to benefit others.

While passion may fuel the creation of many businesses, getting a business off the ground and turning it into a success requires willpower. Each day, willpower influences you in your role as an entrepreneur. It takes a lot of drive to start and run your own business. The invoices, the bills, the day-to-day grind-most of us can agree these aren’t passionate endeavors. But they must be done, even when you don’t feel like it.

The top secret to success as an entrepreneur: willpower. Don’t worry if you feel your own willpower is weak; willpower is a learned skill. Read on to learn how to beef up your willpower in order to aid your success in business, and in life.

Accept Full Responsibility

According to author Katie Morton, “People with extraordinary willpower fully accept the statement, “˜I alone am responsible for my actions, my habits, and my life.’” Take responsibility and accept what you can control. That makes it easier to follow through for positive momentum for your business.

Perhaps you’re having a hair-on-fire day where nothing is going right; your marketing guru is out with the flu, the coffeepot is on the fritz, and you forgot to pay the internet provider. It’s easy to let a series of mishaps serve as an excuse to shirk responsibility. It’s not the mishaps or the bad days that are the problem-everyone has those – it’s the excuses and the lack of responsibility that lead many entrepreneurs down the road to failure.

Starting your own business requires a certain fortitude. You’re the one who is ultimately responsible for your success or failure, and your decisions and actions as a business owner have a direct bearing on that. Showing up and checking tasks off your list is as necessary as creative vision and passion, despite the fact that it’s not always fun.

Learn From Mistakes

One tenet that’s true of successful CEOs: They’re human, therefore they’re flawed. Nobody’s perfect, and part of not being perfect is accepting mistakes. Learning how to succeed, despite making mistakes, is a willpower secret all great entrepreneurs must learn. It worked for Steve Jobs; it can work for you.

The temptation, of course, is to sweep mistakes under the rug. It’s a natural human tendency to want to put failure behind us as quickly as possible. But in order to succeed, it’s critical you explore your past mistakes. Don’t dwell on the negative; instead, use constructive thinking to effectuate change and learn from your experiences.

Making mistakes is scary, without a doubt; especially in the context of business when so much of your future is on the line. The biggest mistake, however, is allowing mistakes to paralyze you. Use your experience to power your future. Analyze what went wrong and how you can do better next time. The goal is not perfection, but growth and positive change.

Be Comfortable With Discomfort

As an entrepreneur, you’ll experience some discomfort as your business grows. This may mean lean finances, long hours, or multiple sales calls rejections.

Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to tolerate a certain level of discomfort requires willpower. Learning how to work effectively, even in less-than-stellar circumstances, helps you and your business grow.

Rise to Meet Challenges

Obstacles are the rule, not the exception, when you’re running your own business. Instead of giving into inertia, using willpower to overcome obstacles may open doors of opportunity you never could have foreseen.

The idea for Dropbox came from overcoming an obstacle as Drew Houston recounts, “I could see my USB drive sitting on my desk at home, which meant I couldn’t work. I sulked for 15 minutes and then, like any self-respecting engineer, I started writing some code. I had no idea what it would eventually become.” Houston solved a problem and turned his idea into a billion dollar international brand.

Acknowledge Your Feelings

You may be thinking emotions have no place in business. That’s not entirely true; you’re a business owner, not a robot. Companies are made up of humans and all the associated emotions that come as part of that package. To expect yourself to be able to shut down all emotion in a business context is simply not realistic, nor is it an effective means of achieving success.

To quote Albert Einstein, “Discontent is the first necessity of progress.” Knowing that something feels “wrong” or “off” might be the first step in moving toward a solution that feels right. If you’re busy trying to get things done while ignoring your gut, you might not realize it when you miss the mark or work towards the wrong goals.

Use Others’ Success to Fuel Your Own

Keeping up with the Joneses is a sure-fire way to make yourself feel dissatisfied with any level of success you achieve. There will always be someone who has something shinier, newer, or bigger. Constant comparison sets you up on a hamster wheel of discontent.

One way to reframe this type of thinking into something action-oriented is to use others’ success to light your own fire. Use willpower to emulate the skills and behaviors you admire. Don’t waste precious energy on envy; instead, channel that energy toward moving toward your own goals.

Above All, Practice Tenacity

Part of exercising willpower is avoiding the desire to throw in the towel when the going gets tough. Use creative problem solving to work your way through problems, rather than quitting.

As with anything worth doing, strengthening your willpower skills takes time. If you practice these principals despite setbacks, you’ll be well on your way to developing the willpower skills you need to succeed as an entrepreneur.

 

Originally posted on Accion

3 Tips for Thriving Among Industry Giants

3 Tips for Thriving Among Industry Giants

Startups have never had it easy. Big businesses hate disruption, and when a new company starts doing things differently, established players do everything they can to steal the ideas and squash the competition.

PepsiCo, for example, has mechanized the process. Through its partnership with Black Swan Data, PepsiCo hopes to identify trends before they become, well, trendy and beat would-be disruptors to the punch in an effort to compete with its smaller competitors. This is because, as PepsiCo leaders suggest, smaller businesses are better able to keep up with trends.

Fortunately, startups don’t have to let big players such as PepsiCo steal their advantages without a fight. The biggest companies have the deepest pockets and the most service lines, so small companies must focus on niches, becoming industry specialists and offering nimble customer service.

Old-fashioned relationship building is the key. Most big players rely on dial-up customer service, but they don’t make in-person visits to facilities and events. Startups excel in the trenches where big companies don’t bother to go. Through superior customer service and personal relationships, startups can provide something that no big company can match.

The trick for small companies is to act like a small business while demonstrating the power of a larger one. By using the right combination of tactics, startups can not only survive in this cutthroat environment, but also thrive.

1. Always respond to prospects quickly and personally.

Smaller companies differentiate themselves from big ones through faster, more in-depth human communication. One company recently sent me a form email about buying a list from a database. I sent back my interest, but only received a second form email in response — one that didn’t even answer my questions. If a real person had emailed me back with answers to my specific questions, that company likely would have earned my business.

Whether in person or on the phone, respond quickly and personally to maximize the small business charm. Companies of all sizes have adopted automated software for marketing, but relying on automation loses the personal touch that differentiates small businesses from corporations.

If a consumer demonstrates interest in an automated channel — such as an email or ad — the worst way for a small company to respond is with an automated reaction. When we notice a prospect engages with one of our digital platforms, we have a person reach out to acknowledge the engagement and request a call.

2. Don’t solve unique problems with standard solutions.

Big companies fit clients into preset boxes. Smaller companies can be nimble in their ability to customize offerings to match specific needs. That’s why PepsiCo wants to stay on trend: to compete with smaller, more agile brands. Startups should take advantage of this by providing more specific service to customers who would fall through the cracks at larger entities.

One of our clients, Toyota Forklifts, chose our small company over plenty of bigger options for this reason. Toyota needed specific help that no one offered. Rather than go with “good enough” from a big provider, Toyota asked us how much it would cost to hire the people we would need to power the new program. That’s an uncommon level of customization, but our small size allowed us to rework our internal structure to meet a need no one else could.

3. Keep the face of the company familiar.

Big companies have big sales teams and lots of people who interact with clients. Small companies have only a few, but this can be a strength. McKinsey found that maximizing customer satisfaction through a consistent customer journey can potentially increase customer satisfaction by 20 percent and boost revenue by 15 percent. Keep the point of human contact as consistent as possible so prospects feel that they’re dealing with a person — not a brand.

While startups use personal service to get in front of clients, big companies invest in technology so they don’t have to. Keep personnel the same through the inquiry, proposal, launch and implementation phases. Customers will feel more valued if they are not being shuffled from one department to the next.

 

Originally posted on Entrepreneur.com by Jeff Coffman

6 Ways Entrepreneurs Solve Problems Differently Than Other Professionals

6 Ways Entrepreneurs Solve Problems Differently Than Other Professionals

Problem-solving is one of the most important aspects of entrepreneurship. As both the founder of your organization and the leader of your team, you’ll be responsible for identifying and solve problems of your customers, partners, employees and your company, in general.

The question might be posed as to whether successful entrepreneur-problem-solvers use their natural talents to find success, or whether those skills are cultivated after years of experience. But, either way, I would maintain that successful entrepreneurs think about and solve problems differently from most other professionals.

How is this problem solving process distinctive, and how can you apply that difference to your own work habits? And what’s different about entrepreneurs-as-problem-solvers in the first place? Here are six ways:

1.They identify problems first.

Some people think of entrepreneurial types as creative inventors; given a blank canvas, they can come up with a product that people will love. But that’s not usually the case. Instead, the most successful entrepreneurs are those who first identify a key problem in the market, then work to solve that problem.

Airbnb, for example, started when its two founders, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, realized that two problems existed in the same business area; one, they themselves were having trouble affording rent in New York; and two, nearly all the hotel rooms in the city were consistently booked. Those founders didn’t come up with their idea out of thin air; they recognized two key problems, and devised a solution to solve both simultaneously.

2.They stay calm.

According to a study by TalentSmart, 90 percent of top performers are able to manage their emotions successfully when they experience high levels of stress. This isn’t a coincidence: When you allow your emotions to get the better of you when facing a problem, you subject yourself to reactive decision-making, and lose touch with your logical side. Accordingly, you make poorer decisions, and in some cases, may look bad in front of your employees.

Of course, “staying calm” when you face a major issue is, itself, a major issue. It takes years of practice and self-discipline to learn how to prevent your emotions from taking over. You need the kind of perspective that only high-stress experiences can give you. That perspective? No problem, by itself, is unconquerable or incapable of being solved through alternative approaches.

3.They start with the general and work toward the specific.

When addressing a problem, most people get caught up in the details, but successful entrepreneur-strategists tend to think about problems more generally before working down to the specific details. For example, if entrepreneurs’ cars break down on the side of the road, they aren’t immediately concerned with the peculiarities of the engine that led to its malfunction; instead, they recognize that the car isn’t drivable, and work to get it to the shoulder — and safety.

This approach helps you see the high-level nature (and consequences) of your current problem, giving you a reliable context for solving it.

4.They adapt.

Successful entrepreneurs are also willing to adapt to solve a problem; they aren’t beholden to the image, processes or lines of thinking that got them into the problem in the first place.

For example, Nokia — probably best known as the top cell phone provider in the world between 1998 and 2012 — started out as a paper company that later transitioned to producing rubber tires and galoshes (as the needs of its customers changed). When the demand rose for military and emergency service radio phones, Nokia transitioned again and started making those devices, eventually selling off its paper and rubber divisions.

In short, faced with changing available resources, market demand and competition, Nokia reinvented itself rather than remaining stagnant or applying old rubrics to new problems.

5.They delegate and distribute.

Entrepreneurs also know they aren’t the most effective problem-solvers on their own; instead, most problems are best handed over to specialists who better understand those problems. Accordingly, when an entrepreneur faces a tough decision or a difficult situation, he or she typically delegates the judgment needed to an expert and calls in help to carry out that expert’s solution as efficiently as possible.

Entrepreneurs also aren’t afraid to delegate authority to the internal hires they trust, and aren’t hesitant to spend money on external firms and consultants if that solution will solve the problem faster and more efficiently.

6.They measure outcomes and reflect.

Successful entrepreneurs actually do more than just solve the problem. After applying a fix, they spend time measuring the results of their efforts with analytics tools, and reflecting on those outcomes. Learning from the approach they’ve chosen, whether it turns out to be a success or failure, is what equips them to make even better decisions in the future.

So, if you aren’t an entrepreneur in your own right, there’s much you can gain from adopting the problem-solving tactics of someone who is — someone who’s a success at both entrepreneurship and decision-making.

Applying different modes of thinking and new leadership styles, and being open to more potential problem-solving options are the strategies that will help you solve problems more thoroughly, and reap better long-term results.

Originally posted on Entrepreneurs.com by Jayson DeMers

Nutrition for Entrepreneurial Business Success

Nutrition for Entrepreneurial Business Success

With more than 100,000 papers published on nutrition in the peer-reviewed medical literature each year, it’s hard to keep up. And for every positive effect, there was a reported negative one, or a case study showing an adverse response to the plan. One minute, scientists say carbs are bad; the next they proclaim that carbs are good.

Any meal plan must be personalized to ensure we each have the energy we need to not just feel good but feel great, and have the energy to pursue our goals and navigate this minefield called life. This personalization will increase the likelihood of successfully following the plan and eating in a way that benefits us.

But regardless of the dietary protocol you choose, to improve mood, memory and drive, the following are a few key factors that must be included and then tweaked to match your individual response to various foods:

Remove sugar and processed food from your diet.

This will help rid the body and brain of toxins and inflammation.

Eat foods that increase your microbiome’s diversity.

This includes fermented foods that populate your gut with healthy bacteria (e.g., pickles, kimchi, unprocessed yogurt, and kombucha). These foods are rich in prebiotics. Prebiotics feed probiotics and encourage the growth of healthy bacteria. Prebiotic fiber is a type of carbohydrate that we do not digest, but our gut bacteria thrive on and you can supplement your diet with a prebiotic fiber. This has been particularly useful in curbing my afternoon cravings — I no longer experience a midafternoon crash as a result, and it helps me maintain my weight by preventing me from snacking too much.

Eliminate foods that cause you discomfort.

includes any food you’re sensitive to that causes constipation, diarrhea, sluggishness, brain fog, headaches, fatigue or mood changes. For greater insight, have a food sensitivity test done.

Repopulate your gut with healthy bacteria.

You can do this by consuming the right kind of probiotics.

Fuel up with fats.

This can help curb your cravings and reduce the midafternoon energy slump.

Eat anti-inflammatory foods.

This includes green leafy vegetables, beets, blueberries, bok choy, broccoli, celery, chia seeds, coconut oil, flaxseed, ginger, pineapple, salmon, turmeric, and walnuts. Exclude any foods that cause you sensitivity.

Eat diverse organic fruits and vegetables.

This will increase microbi­ome diversity and promote overall gut health.

Drink filtered water.

Much is still unknown about the impact chemicals like chlorine can have on our delicate gut microbiome. Filtration is crucial regardless of where you live to prevent unnecessary exposure to toxins from rusty pipes or compromised water supplies.

Switch trans fats and vegetable oils for olive, avocado or grapeseed oil.

One study found the participants who took in the most trans fats increased their risk of depression by 48 percent. Trans fats are often hidden in highly processed foods at the supermarket and used to deep fry food at various fast-food chains.

Consume more omega-3 and less omega-6.

Both are essential fatty acids important for good health, but we need them in the right balance to help protect our joints, pancreas, heart, skin and mood stability. Too much omega-6, which we consume in corn and vegetable oils, can cause the body to retain water and raise blood pressure, which could lead to blood clots, thus raising the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Consume foods with antifungal properties.

This includes cayenne pep­per, coconut oil, garlic, ginger, lemons, limes, olive oil, onions, pumpkin seeds and rutabaga to help fight off bad gut bacteria. Don’t consume any foods that you’re sensitive or allergic to. Find substitutes that work for you.

Keep activated charcoal on hand.

Activated charcoal can assist by binding itself to toxins, which are then excreted by the body. Activated charcoal has been used for years in emergency rooms for certain kinds of poisoning, including alcohol. It helps prevent the poison from being absorbed from the stomach into the body. It can also assist with gas, bloating and even lowering cholesterol.

Practice intermittent fasting (IF).

It’s widely reported that IF is effective for weight loss, inflammation reduction and boosting brain power by increasing ketones. It’s a pattern of eating, not a diet. It doesn’t change what you eat so much as when you eat. Instead of consuming food all day long, you eat within a set window of time. The most popular protocol is to eat for eight hours per day and fast for 16. According to Mark Mattson, a professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins University, fasting has been shown to increase rates of neurogen­esis (the growth and development of new brain cells and nerve tissues) in the brain. Higher rates of neurogenesis are linked to increased brain performance, memory, mood and focus. It has also been shown to boost production of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). BDNF is considered “Miracle-Gro for your brain” and plays a role in neuroplasticity, which makes your brain more resilient to stress and adaptable to change.

By following these easy-to-apply guidelines, you’ll begin to notice a significant change in your energy levels, as well as your mental clarity.

 

This excerpt is from Ben Angel’s book Unstoppable: A 90-Day Plan to Biohack Your Mind and Body for Success

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