Tag Archives: career

How this Woman Blogged her Way to Six Figures

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your blogging journey.

When I started my blogging career, I was in the middle of a divorce. My husband abandoned our family and I was making a full time living on eBay. I felt there was more to life. eBay didn’t really help people and I love to serve others. All of my friends kept asking me the same questions over and over. How can it be possible I have more than them and they were married and both working, yet I “lived like a queen on so much less than them.”

I started my blog simply answering their questions in the form of posts, so that I didn’t have to keep repeating myself all the time and soon it turned into this huge thing that I had no clue would happen. I stood before the judge telling him, I believed with all my heart I could make $1,000/month in blogging in one year’s time and everyone laughed at me. He told me if I continued, I would lose tens of thousands of dollars in the divorce and that I should get a job outside the home. I obeyed God rather than man and 12 months later, I was earning $10,000/month!

Related: Marketing Tools Entrepreneurs Should Keep Handy

You managed to live on $18K a year, how were you able to do that?

I got absolutely everything I possibly could for free, so that I could afford the things I wanted (a nice home with a garage and big back yard, etc.) I have no debt, so that helps a lot, and I’m obsessed with paying as little as I can for only quality items. I go into detail of my journey from starting out in a homeless shelter to making a fantastic living and becoming debt free in my upcoming book, How to Become Financially Free. Here’s a sneak peek of the introduction.

Give us an example of how you first monetized your blog.

The most important thing a blogger can do is to focus on ONE thing at a time. Yes, it’s slower, but the results are much better.

I first focused on ads because it was easy money and got really good at it. So much so, that I was earning quite a bit and was rocking it. Next, “Focus on traffic,” I thought, “With more traffic, my ads will make me more,” so I turned to Pinterest. I spent 6 months learning every detail I could about Pinterest, testing out my different theory’s, until I hit the answers and my Pinterest started blowing up. Now, companies who are creating Pinterest scheduling programs beg me to use their software. But I won’t budge. I know what works and what doesn’t.

Related: 10 Small Businesses You Can Start Today With Little To No Money

Between making money through ads and getting tons of traffic, my income started doing very well and now I’m studying affiliates inside and out. 🙂 That is what I’m currently working on.

What types of marketing strategies have worked best for you?

The absolute best strategy is to just be yourself. A reader may come to your blog because of a post, and they may stay on the post for 30 seconds because the content is good, the layout of your site is great, and your pictures rock, but they come BACK for YOU. Whether or not they think you can be their friend. It’s all about personal connection. Many bloggers fail because they are too focused on other areas, rather than on serving and being a friend to the reader, serving them and THEIR needs.

A friend is kind, loving, and always tells the truth, even when it’s hard. In blogging, you have to stand up sometimes. Sometimes bloggers lack courage, but that’s what makes a top blogger. Although it’s hard, we have to stand up for what we believe in. There’s an old saying that goes something like this, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” Readers don’t want to follow a follower. They want to follow someone holding the torch and leading the way. As bloggers, it’s our responsibility to be that for them. To be a voice for those who don’t have a voice.

Related: Your Startup is Up and Running. What Now?

How do you minimize income peaks and valleys?

Funny you should ask that. No one ever asks and I think it’s a huge missed opportunity. I do have peaks and valleys like everyone else, however, I am able to minimize them by working HARDER than most when everyone else is asleep at the wheel. Very few blogs post every day. I do. In summers, most bloggers take time off, post content very lightly, just take it easy. That’s when I’m working the hardest! The readers are there, and I snatch them all up! When things are crazy busy, that’s when I take time off. During Christmas-time is when most blogs are slammed, but I’m taking a break, because I know the traffic is there and my content is good. I make it a priority to never do anything like anyone else, and that’s how I win at blogging. 🙂

How much are you making annually and what was your big turning point? 

I’m still in my first year of blogging, I haven’t hit 2 years old yet, so I can’t really know an annual number for a little while longer, but I can say that within 12 months of my blogging, I was making $10,000/month. Projected total should be 6 figures a year no problem.

I don’t think I’ve had one major turning point. I believe gaining momentum is about layers. I do something, I gain a ton of traffic and those that don’t connect with me fall off and I keep some to become friends … I’ll be featured somewhere, or guest post somewhere, or have a post that goes viral, and again, get a ton of traffic and keep friends. It’s kind of like a funnel. Everyone goes in, the ones that I can help, stay. Those that stay, I bend over backwards to help. One reader asks me to post on something and I will. I still answer all my own emails. I’m incredibly personable in that way.

Related: Your Startup is Up and Running. What Now?Top 10 Crowdfunding Sites

What advice do you have for other women who want to start their own online business on a shoestring budget?

Get personalized one-on-one coaching right away. You won’t see the value in it, but you’ll lose more money by NOT doing it. I wasted months of blogging and thousands of dollars being scammed. Putting money where it wasn’t smart. I just followed everyone’s advice. I didn’t know who was good and who was bad. Who was reputable and who was a scam. Check the Alexa score. The lower the number, the more you can trust the advice.

Get coaching to get a road map of exactly where you want to go your first year. It’ll shave off months, even years of your own trial and error and get you earning income super fast. One-on-one coaching is something I offer on my site. You can find more information about it here. Just remember to always check the Alexa score before you buy time with a coach and it HAS TO BE personalized coaching. What works for one blog most likely won’t work for another.

As a busy single mom and entrepreneur, how do you manage all of your personal and business activities?

I probably don’t sleep as much as I should. Sometimes it takes being super creative. The whole reason I work from home as a single mom is to be with my kids. I can’t let working from home eat up my time FROM my kids. At the same time, I’m the sole provider of our family. To have a roof over our heads, I have to make money. It’s definitely a balance. Thankfully, I have a wonderful team now that helps. My assistant Katie, my assistant who helps with editing Becky, my design technician Laura, and my contributors. All truly amazing women that I’m honored to be a part of their lives.

Related: Hobby or Startup? Important When Filing Your Taxes

Credit: Sarah Titus via The WorkAtHomeWoman.com

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CMG Business Group…. Propelling Industry to New Heights!

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Actions to Make You a Better Leader!

Startups provide business leadership with new products, services, and new revenue models, but leadership startups can only be built by entrepreneurs who are leaders themselves, and incent leadership in the team around them. Leadership which incents other people to be leaders is called “contagious leadership.”

John Hersey, in his classic book “Creating Contagious Leadership,” describes nine required skills or habits for inspiring a contagious leadership culture within a startup, as well as within other types of businesses, or even life in general. He and I believe that leaders have to make the overt decision to acquire these skills, and don’t have to be born or trained into them:

  1. Spotlight leadership acts of others. This is the habit of focusing attention, directly or indirectly, on leadership efforts and accomplishments of another team member or group. For managers and non-contagious leaders (contained leaders), the spotlight seems to always be on themselves.
    Related: 100 Great Questions Every Entrepreneur Should Ask
  2. Cultivate positive character qualities. Contagious leaders have a habit of highlighting effective choices about “how” things were accomplished, and not just “what” was accomplished. It’s not just about the numbers, but how character played a role, and who made the right decisions along the way.
  3. Provide in-depth recognition. Don’t just articulate specific actions that deserve praise. Contagious leaders tell Harry why and how he did a good job, whereas managers and contained leaders just say “Good job, Harry.”
  4. Emphasize strengths, leading to greatness. Conventional managers focus on people’s shortcomings and point them out as often as possible. Contagious leaders nurture the habit of recognizing others strengths, and help them extrapolate these to greatness.
  5. Communicate often and effectively. The habit of constantly exchanging information, thoughts and feelings openly and honestly builds morale, enhances productivity, and fosters contagious leadership. Too many managers “tell ‘em only what they need to know and not a moment before they need to know it.”
  6. Provide an unobstructed vision. Contagious leaders foster the habit of focusing actions on a clear and sensory-rich picture of the desired result. Managers tend to have only a vague picture of where the company is going, so they are unable to share a coherent vision with others.
  7. Really touch people’s lives. Nurture the habit of truly knowing your most valuable asset – people. Managers avoid any real, deep involvement. Most don’t know if the people reporting to them are married or single, or anything about them. Contagious leaders know their people personally and do things for them, not because it’s good for business, but because they truly care.
  8. Passionately support your people. Managers are always controlled, rather than being fully committed and willing to take a risk. Contagious leaders are quick to support their team, and always stick up for them, even in the face of adversity.
  9. Mentor a permission mentality. Contagious leaders mentor their team to always assume they have permission to do things their way. They try to extend the concept of contagious leadership, rather than constrain it. Managers want a staff of imitators and followers. They want people to do what they want, and to do it their way.

Related: 10 Common Career Killers

In summary, leaders are not the same as managers. Managers focus on the process, while leaders focus on the people. Leaders influence people to make things happen, rather than tell people to make things happen. Contagious leaders create a culture that inspires everyone to be fully engaged in the startup. The result is that your whole startup will be a leader.

Credit: Marty Zwilling via StartupProfessionals.com

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CMG Business Group…. Propelling Industry to New Heights!

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Compensation Tactics To Help Retain Employees

 

Guest columnist Ron Volper discusses how a well-thought out compensation plan can help retain your best employeees.

Small and mid-sized businesses that lose top performers incur the costs of hiring and training new employees, but they face an even greater risk: damaging relationships with existing customers and eroding the morale of other employees. Proof of this is that the companies that are the most profitable usually have the highest employee retention.

A study the Ron Volper Group conducted, in 2011, across a range of industries, confirmed that the number one reason for “unforced turnover” is employee dissatisfaction with their compensation. Moreover, 80 percent of employees who voluntarily left their company took a higher paying position with another company.

Here’s how you can use your compensation plan to retain and motivate employees and up your sales in a down market.

1. Pay employees salary and incentives. The companies with the highest employee morale and productivity pay a mix of salary and incentives. The salary compensates employees for performing all the tasks required of them and provides them with a consistent income. The incentive (which can be commission for salespeople and a bonus for others) motivates them to meet and exceed their goals and gives them the opportunity to increase their earnings.

Related: Get The Most Out of Your Startup Team

Pay employees the salary portion of their compensation monthly or bi-monthly. Pay employees the incentive portion of their compensation as soon after they meet their goals as feasible. Thus, quarterly incentive payments are usually more motivating than annual payments and monthly incentive payments are often best.

2. Keep the incentive part of your plan simple. The test of a good compensation plan is that the incentive part measures no more than two to four performance factors, and all employees can accurately explain the plan in the time it takes to walk from the front door of your office building to your receptionist’s desk.

3. Establish SMART goals. SMART goals are: Specific, Measurable, Ambitious, Realistic and Time-bound.

For salespeople, that means establishing monthly and annual revenue goals and/or goals for opening new accounts. For other customer contact people, establish goals for the ratio of customer compliments versus complaints, and/or the number of customer complaints they resolve on the first phone call. For employees in accounts receivable, consider basing goals on how much outstanding revenue they collect against specific targets. For those in manufacturing, consider basing goals on the number of products they manufacture free of defects.

While it’s okay to pay a small part of the incentives based on the team’s overall results, most of the incentive should be based on individual results.

Related: Make The Entrepreneurial Difference

4. Determine what your competitors are paying. One way to attract and retain top employees-and keep them motivated is to pay them as much or more than your competitors. Every few years, you should determine what your competitors are paying and adjust your compensation plan accordingly. You can do this informally by asking employees with other companies that you interview about their compensation plan, or more objectively by hiring an outside consulting firm to benchmark your plan against others and advise you on how to adjust it.

5. Modify salaries based on employees’ geographic location. While the incentive plan for employees working in different cities should not change, you should adjust the salary portion to reflect the local cost of living, so as not to penalize employees who live in more expensive cities.

6. Use merit increases to reward top performers. In a misguided attempt to keep all employees happy, many companies misallocate the funds they budget for annual merit increases by giving all employees essentially the same merit increases. Your first priority should be to retain and motivate star employees, your second priority to retain and motivate satisfactory employees. Therefore, award the largest salary increases to your stars, much more modest increases to satisfactory performers, and no increases to employees whose performance falls below expectations.

7. Provide employees with non-financial rewards. Besides cash, employees are motivated by other forms of recognition and rewards. For example, consider establishing an annual trip to reward employees who have achieved certain annual goals. Besides increasing motivation, company-sponsored trips build camaraderie and teamwork. How you train, develop and manage your employees also drives retention and performance. However, paying them as well as you realistically can — based on their performance — is one of the best ways to heighten their motivation.

Related: Get The Most Out of Your Startup Team

Credit: Ron Volper via CNBC.com

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CMG Business Group…. Propelling Industry to New Heights!

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Dream Big! And Make it Happen!

Did you know that January 13 is National Make Your Dreams Come True Day? While there seem to be days in honor of nearly every occasion (no matter how obscure or seemingly insignificant), I think this particular one has a lot of merit. Entrepreneurs are both doers and dreamers. When they start a business, they aspire to make their dreams of controlling their own professional destiny come true.

With almost the entire year ahead of you in 2016, what better time to take action and fulfill your own small business dreams?

In striving to become a more success entrepreneur, little changes can mean a lot. The following simple habits, for example, can help expand your network, boost your credibility, and improve your performance when made a part of your daily routine:

  • Make at least one new connection every day on LinkedIn – Don’t just send a generic invitation; send a personalized invitation to open the door to dialogue. But be careful about coming across as pushy and salesy. That can be a turnoff and drive potential customers away.
  • Read (and learn from) at least one reputable, highly regarded blog – Choose blogs that will keep you in the know about trends and developments in your industry. The more you know, the more credibility you’ll have and the more trust you’ll earn.
  • Be helpful to another professional – Share an article you believe they’ll find interesting; introduce them to someone they might have an opportunity to do business with; give their business a shout out on social media…the possibilities are endless! By helping others, you’ll make them more inclined to consider you when they’re looking for the types of products and services you provide. And they’ll be more likely to refer business to you.

Related: Make The Entrepreneurial Difference

  • Proofread (and double check tone) of your emails before you hit “send” – I can’t stress this enough! Fair or not, people will judge your professionalism by how well you communicate. While an occasional error will be forgiven, blatant sloppiness in spelling, grammar, and punctuation will make you appear careless and uneducated. Review everything you write carefully to make sure it’s clear and error free. Also read your emails out loud to pick up on any unintentional harsh vibes they might convey. If you find they come across abrupt or insensitive, give them an attitude adjustment before sending them to recipients.
  • Commit to giving your clients no less than your best – This goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway! When you put your best effort into doing work for your customers, you stand a much better chance of delighting them than you will by simply going through the motions. Bring your “A game” to every client interaction.
  • Start the day with a “can do” frame of mind – A confident state of mind empowers you to work more productively and tackle challenges with greater ease. If you don’t naturally feel that way when you begin your day, consider engaging in some positive self-talk or write down your strengths to reinforce your status as a capable and competent professional.

None of these suggestions requires a great deal of time or energy, so what are you waiting for? In the spirit of National Make Your Dreams Come True Day, put them into practice and get closer to making all of your small business dreams a reality. Stop only dreaming and start doing.

Related: Behaviors of Successful People

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CMG Business Group…. Propelling Industry to New Heights!

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How to Deal With Difficult People

Most of us encounter unreasonable people in our lives. We may be “stuck” with a difficult individual at work or at home. It’s easy to let a challenging person affect us and ruin our day. What are some of the keys to empowering yourself in such situations? Below are ten keys to handling unreasonable and difficult people. Keep in mind that these are general rules of thumb, and not all of the tips may apply to your particular situation. Simply utilize what works and leave the rest.

For more in-depth tools on how to effectively handle difficult individuals, download free excerpts of my publications (click on titles) “How to Communicate Effectively and Handle Difficult People(link is external),” “Communication Success with Four Personality Types(link is external),” and “How to Successfully Handle Passive-Aggressive People(link is external).”

1.    Keep Your Cool 

Benefits: Maintain self-control. Avoid escalation of problem.

How: The first rule in the face of an unreasonable person is to maintain your composure; the less reactive you are, the more you can use your better judgment to handle the situation.

When you feel angry or upset with someone, before you say something you might later regret, take a deep breath and count slowly to ten. In most circumstances, by the time you reach ten, you would have figured out a better way of communicating the issue, so that you can reduce, instead of escalate the problem. If you’re still upset after counting to ten, take a time out if possible, and revisit the issue after you calm down.

Related: Quick, Easy Ways to Improve Your Focus

2.    “Fly Like an Eagle”

Benefits: More peace of mind. Reduce risk of friction.

How: Some people in our lives are simply not worth tussling with. Your time is valuable, so unless there’s something important at stake, don’t waste it by trying to change or convince a person who’s negatively entrenched. As the saying goes: “You can’t fly like an eagle if you hang out with turkeys!” Whether you’re dealing with a difficult colleague or an annoying relative, be diplomatic and apply the tips from this article when you need to interact with them. The rest of the time, keep a healthy distance.

3.    Shift from Being Reactive to Proactive

Benefits: Minimize misinterpretation & misunderstanding. Concentrate energy on problem-solving.

How: When you feel offended by someone’s words or deeds, come up with multiple ways of viewing the situation before reacting. For example, I may be tempted to think that my co-worker is ignoring my messages, or I can consider the possibility that she’s been very busy. When we avoid personalizing other people’s behaviors, we can perceive their expressions more objectively. People do what they do because of them more than because of us. Widening our perspective on the situation can reduce the possibility of misunderstanding.

Another way to reduce personalization is to try to put ourselves in the difficult individual’s shoes, even for just a moment. For example, consider the person you’re dealing with, and complete the sentence: “It must not be easy….”

“My child is being so resistant. It must not be easy to deal with his school and social pressures…”

“My boss is really demanding. It must not be easy to have such high expectations placed on her performance by management…”

“My partner is so emotionally distant. It must not be easy to come from a family where people don’t express affection…”

To be sure, empathetic statements do not excuse unacceptable behavior. The point is to remind yourself that people do what they do because of their own issues. As long as we’re being reasonable and considerate, difficult behaviors from others say a lot more about them than they do about us. By de-personalizing, we can view the situation more objectively, and come up with better ways of solving the problem.

Related: Behaviors of Successful People

4.    Pick Your Battles

Benefits: Save time, energy and grief. Avoid unnecessary problems and complications.

How: Not all difficult individuals we face require direct confrontation about their behavior. There are two scenarios under which you might decide not to get involved. The first is when someone has temporary, situational power over you. For example, if you’re on the phone with an unfriendly customer service representative, as soon as you hang up and call another agent, this representative will no longer have power over you.

Another situation where you might want to think twice about confrontation is when, by putting up with the difficult behavior, you derive a certain benefit. An example of this would be an annoying co-worker, for although you dislike her, she’s really good at providing analysis for your team, so she’s worth the patience. It’s helpful to remember that most difficult people have positive qualities as well, especially if you know how to elicit them (see keys #5 and 6).

In both scenarios, you have the power to decide if a situation is serious enough to confront. Think twice, and fight the battles that are truly worth fighting.

Related: Negotiate Your Salary Without Playing Hardball

5.    Separate the Person From the Issue

Benefits: Establish yourself as a strong problem solver with excellent people skills. Win more rapport, cooperation and respect.

How: In every communication situation, there are two elements present: The relationship you have with this person, and the issue you are discussing. An effective communicator knows how to separate the person from the issue, and be soft on the person and firm on the issue. For example:

“I want to talk about what’s on your mind, but I can’t do it when you’re yelling. Let’s either sit down and talk more quietly, or take a time out and come back this afternoon.”

“I appreciate you putting a lot of time into this project. At the same time, I see that three of the ten requirements are still incomplete. Let’s talk about how to finish the job on schedule.”

“I really want you to come with us. Unfortunately, if you’re going to be late like the last few times, we’ll have to leave without you.”

When we’re soft on the person, people are more open to what we have to say. When we’re firm on the issue, we show ourselves as strong problem solvers.

Related: Improve Business Profits and Make My Business More Profitable

6.     Put the Spotlight on Them 

Benefits: Proactive. Equalize power in communication. Apply appropriate pressure to reduce difficult behavior.

How: A common pattern with difficult people (especially the aggressive types) is that they like to place attention on you to make you feel uncomfortable or inadequate. Typically, they’re quick to point out there’s something not right with you or the way you do things. The focus is consistently on “what’s wrong,” instead of “how to solve the problem.”

This type of communication is often intended to dominate and control, rather than to sincerely take care of issues. If you react by being on the defensive, you simply fall into the trap of being scrutinized, thereby giving the aggressor more power while she or he picks on you with impunity. A simple and powerful way to change this dynamic is to put the spotlight back on the difficult person, and the easiest way to do so is to ask questions. For example:

Aggressor: “Your proposal is not even close to what I need from you.”

Response: “Have you given clear thought to the implications of what you want to do?”

Aggressor: “You’re so stupid.”

Response: “If you treat me with disrespect I’m not going to talk with you anymore. Is that what you want? Let me know and I will decide if I want to stay or go.”

Keep your questions constructive and probing. By putting the difficult person in the spotlight, you can help neutralize her or his undue influence over you.

Related: The Art of the Pitch

7.    Use Appropriate Humor

Benefits: Disarm unreasonable and difficult behavior when correctly used. Show your detachment. Avoid being reactive. Problem rolls off your back.

How: Humor is a powerful communication tool. Years ago I knew a co-worker who was quite stuck up. One day a colleague of mine said “Hello, how are you?” to him. When the egotistical co-worker ignored her greeting completely, my colleague didn’t feel offended. Instead, she smiled good-naturedly and quipped: “That good, huh?” This broke the ice and the two of them started a friendly conversation. Brilliant.

When appropriately used, humor can shine light on the truth, disarm difficult behavior, and show that you have superior composure. In “How to Communicate Effectively and Handle Difficult People(link is external),” I explain the psychology of humor in conflict resolution, and offer a variety of ways one can use humor to reduce or eliminate difficult behavior.

Related: Staying on Top of Your Social Media

8.    Change from Following to Leading 

Benefit: Leverage direction and flow of communication.

How: In general, whenever two people are communicating, one is usually doing more leading, while the other is doing more following. In healthy communication, two people would take turns leading and following. However, some difficult people like to take the lead, set a negative tone, and harp on “what’s wrong” over and over.

You can interrupt this behavior simply by changing the topic. As mentioned earlier, utilize questions to redirect the conversation. You can also say “By the way…” and initiate a new subject. When you do so, you’re taking the lead and setting a more constructive tone.

9.    Confront Bullies (Safely)

Benefits: Reduce or eliminate harmful behavior. Increase confidence and peace of mind.

How: The most important thing to keep in mind about bullies is that they pick on those whom they perceive as weaker, so as long as you remain passive and compliant, you make yourself a target. Many bullies are also cowards on the inside. When their victims begin to show backbone and stand up for their rights, the bully will often back down. This is true in schoolyards, as well as in domestic and office environments.

On an empathetic note, studies show that many bullies are victims of violence themselves. This in no way excuses bullying behavior, but may help you consider the bully in a more equanimous light.

“When people don’t like themselves very much, they have to make up for it. The classic bully was actually a victim first.” — Tom Hiddleston

“Some people try to be tall by cutting off the heads of others.” — Paramhansa Yogananda

“I realized that bullying never has to do with you. It’s the bully who’s insecure.” — Shay Mitchell

When confronting bullies, be sure to place yourself in a position where you can safely protect yourself, whether it’s standing tall on your own, having other people present to witness and support, or keeping a paper trail of the bully’s inappropriate behavior. In cases of physical, verbal, or emotional abuse, consult with counseling, legal, law enforcement, or administrative professionals on the matter. It’s very important to stand up to bullies, and you don’t have to do it alone.

Related: Make The Entrepreneurial Difference

10.     Set Consequence 

Benefits: Proactive not reactive. Shift balance of power. Win respect and cooperation when appropriately applied.

How: The ability to identify and assert consequence(s) is one of the most important skills we can use to “stand down” a difficult person. Effectively articulated, consequence gives pause to the challenging individual, and compels her or him to shift from obstruction to cooperation. In “How to Communicate Effectively and Handle Difficult People(link is external),” consequence is presented as seven different types of power you can utilize to affect positive change.

In conclusion, to know how to handle unreasonable and difficult people is to truly master the art of communication. As you utilize these skills, you may experience less grief, greater confidence, better relationships, and higher communication prowess. You are on your way to leadership success!

 

Related: Get The Most Out of Your Startup Team

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CMG Business Group…. Propelling Industry to New Heights!

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Developing Effective Work Relationships

You can submarine your career and work relationships by the actions you take and the behaviors you exhibit at work. No matter your education, your experience, or your title, if you can’t play well with others, you will never accomplish your work mission.

Effective work relationships form the cornerstone for success and satisfaction with your job and your career. How important are effective work relationships?

They form the basis for promotion, pay increases, goal accomplishment, and job satisfaction.

The Gallup organization studied indicators of work satisfaction. They found that whether you have a best friend at work was one of the twelve key questions that predicted job satisfaction.

Related: Improve Business Profits and Make My Business More Profitable

A supervisor in a several hundred person company quickly earned a reputation for not playing well with others. He collected data and used the data to find fault, place blame, and make other employees look bad. He enjoyed identifying problems but rarely suggested solutions.

He bugged his supervisor weekly for a bigger title and more money so he could tell other employees what to do.

When he announced he was job hunting, not a single employee suggested that the company take action to convince him to stay. He had burned his bridges.

These are the top seven ways you can play well with others at work. They form the basis for effective work relationships. These are the actions you want to take to create a positive, empowering, motivational work environment for people.

Related: Negotiate Your Salary Without Playing Hardball

  • Bring suggested solutions with the problems to the meeting table. Some employees spend an inordinate amount of time identifying problems. Honestly? That’s the easy part. Thoughtful solutions are the challenge that will earn respect and admiration from coworkers and bosses
  • Don’t ever play the blame game. You alienate coworkers, supervisors, and reporting staff. Yes, you may need to identify who was involved in a problem. You may even ask the Deming question: what about the work system caused the employee to fail?But, not my fault and publicly identifying and blaming others for failures will earn enemies. These enemies will, in turn, help you to fail. You do need allies at work.
  • Your verbal and nonverbal communication matters. If you talk down to another employee, use sarcasm, or sound nasty, the other employee hears you. We are all radar machines that constantly scope out our environment.

In one organization a high level manager said to me, “I know you don’t think I should scream at my employees. But, sometimes, they make me so mad. When is it appropriate for me to scream at the employees?” Answer? Never, of course, if respect for people is a hallmark of your organization.

Related: Behaviors of Successful People

  • Never blind side a coworker, boss, or reporting staff person. If the first time a coworker hears about a problem is in a staff meeting or from an email sent to his supervisor, you have blind sided the coworker. Always discuss problems, first, with the people directly involved who “own” the work system.Also called lynching or ambushing your coworkers, you will never build effective work alliances unless your coworkers trust you. And, without alliances, you never accomplish the most important goals.
  • Keep your commitments. In an organization, work is interconnected. If you fail to meet deadlines and commitments, you affect the work of other employees. Always keep commitments, and if you can’t, make sure all affected employees know what happened. Provide a new due date and make every possible effort to honor the new deadline.
  • Share credit for accomplishments, ideas, and contributions. How often do you accomplish a goal or complete a project with no help from others? If you are a manager, how many of the great ideas you promote were contributed by staff members?

Related: Quick, Easy Ways to Improve Your Focus

Take the time, and expend the energy, to thank, reward, recognize and specify contributions of the people who help you succeed. This is a no-fail approach to building effective work relationships.

  • Help other employees find their greatness. Every employee in your organization has talents, skills, and experience. If you can help fellow employees harness their best abilities, you benefit the organization immeasurably. The growth of individual employees benefits the whole.Compliment, recognize, praise, and notice contributions. You don’t have to be a manager to help create a positive, motivating environment for employees. In this environment, employees do find and contribute their greatness.

If you regularly carry out these seven actions, you will play well with others and develop effective work relationships. Coworkers will value you as a colleague. Bosses will believe you play on the right team.

You’ll accomplish your work goals, and you may even experience fun, recognition, and personal motivation Work can’t get any better than that.

Related: Get The Most Out of Your Startup Team

Credit: Susan M. Heathfield via About.com

Photo Credit: GraineMediationBlog

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Study Now, Startup Later

In an environment of billion-dollar valuations for private companies and cloud-based software that makes start-up launches easier than ever, staying focused on academics can be challenging. Should you hit the books, or try to launch the next, great start-up when the idea and capital strike?

Over the last few years, as the economy has recovered, Garth Saloner,outgoing dean of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, has watched the number of MBA graduates who launch ventures (in founding roles) rise to 16 percent for the class of 2015, slightly lower than the all-time high of 18 percent of graduates reached two years ago. “We’ve never seen that before. It’s a big number,” Saloner said. A decade ago that figure was in the single digits.

Of course, graduates launching start-ups is something to laud and a testament to Stanford’s competitive two-year MBA program that can open a lot of doors in Silicon Valley. U.S. News & World Report ranked Stanford University’s business school No. 1 for 2015, and edged out Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton.

On the other hand, more ventures founded out of business school also suggests students are spending a huge bulk of time creating ventures. Aspiring entrepreneurs may not be taking full advantage of lessons from professors and visiting professionals during the business school program.

“What gives me pause is when students get so engaged in the start-up itself in the second year that they devote their energy to it at the expense of their second year,” said Saloner in an interview earlier this month. “That’s a lost opportunity.”

Related: Building Emotional Fitness Needed to Succeed

By the way, it’s not like Stanford business school students are dropping out in droves for start-up dreams. Drop-out rates in the MBA program are nominal. The larger worry is MBA graduates who aren’t preparing for the long game that is a modern career. Navigating workplaces, from multinationals to small businesses, require a variety of skills and knowledge, from accounting and finance to managing growing teams and enterprises.

“What I often see is a student who has devoted a big chunk of time to an idea that doesn’t pan out,” Saloner said. “Realistically most fresh start-up ideas just don’t survive the rigorous tests of the marketplace,” said the departing dean. He announced his resignation in September amid a lawsuit related to a contentious divorce.

Billions in VC-backed companies

Silicon Valley

Panoramic Images | Getty Images

Of course, you can’t blame an MBA student for dreaming and building a start-up. There’s lots of capital available.

We’re in an age of tech “unicorns,” a term given to start-ups valued at $1 billion or more, though 2016 could be a year of reckoning. Tech experts forecast valuations edging lower and funding rounds becoming trickier to secure.

Related: 100 Great Questions Every Entrepreneur Should Ask

The first nine months of 2015 saw $98.4 billion invested into venture capital-backed companies, an 11 percent jump compared to all of 2014, which was a record year for VC-backed investment. That’s according to a quarterly global report on VC trends published jointly by KPMG International and CB Insights.

Beyond capital, there are plenty of start-up summer camps, incubators and accelerators. The Princeton Review now ranks both graduate and undergraduate entrepreneurship programs.

For four-year colleges and universities in the U.S., about 77 percent of public and private not-for-profit institutions offer at least entrepreneurship courses. That’s according to research from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, on behalf of the Kauffman Foundation, which tracks entrepreneurship.

Programs for students who are not business majors are also growing in numbers, according to University of Illinois research. Roughly 21 percent of schools offer minors or certificates open to undergraduates students from multiple majors. These undergraduate programs often emphasize the entrepreneurial mindset as much as launching a start-up immediately.

Bottom line? This frothy environment can create an impression that instant riches might be just a few clicks away on a laptop, with a dorm buddy and some late-night code.

But academics and researchers argue the broader point of entrepreneurship and MBA programs is to learn to think like an innovator and business leader. The goal is to acquire the relevant skills to launch an idea or project — whether as a stand alone start-up, or inside a massive Fortune 100 organization.

“Everybody should be equipped to start an opportunity at some point in their career,” said Donna Kelley, entrepreneurship professor at Babson College. “If they lose a job or they see an opportunity, it should be in everyone’s tool set so they can enact a plan when the timing is right.”

Not surprisingly, workers launching businesses based on perceived opportunities and a broad optimistic outlook — a group sometimes called opportunity entrepreneurs — has grown as the U.S. economy has improved. On the flip side during the recession, launching ventures out of need — a category called necessity entrepreneurs — rose during the downturn.

Related: Quick, Easy Ways to Improve Your Focus

In fact in the U.S., entrepreneurs in some cases exercise their start-up ambition while still working within large companies, according to research by Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. This group is sometimes referred to as employee entrepreneurs, according to the latest Babson’s Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, a large annual survey of start-up activity.

“The point is entrepreneurship is not just about start-ups,” Kelley said. “It’s about being entrepreneurial wherever you are.”

Stay the course

Stanford Graduate School of Business student Kudzi Chikumbu is working on a career transition into the entertainment industry from management consulting. He has a show on YouTube called, “The Snatched.”

By just being in Silicon Valley, there are plenty of temptations to dive into start-up waters. So what keeps him in class? “Once you leave, you can’t come back to school. You don’t get a second chance at a Stanford MBA,” said Chikumbu, originally from South Africa.

Not to mention the expense. The full-time, two-year MBA program costs roughly $190,000 to $200,000 based on two years’ tuition.

“If you take too much time to get distracted, you won’t have time to brush up on your other skills,” he said. “You’ll have the network.”

As Saloner said of Stanford, careers travel a long trajectory. “This is the time for you to be investing in that.”

Credit: Heesun Wee via CNBC.com

Photo Credit: UniversityI.com

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Side Businesses You Can Turn Into Small Businesses

 

1. Auto detailing

Have a meticulous eye for detail and love to get things gleaming clean? Auto detailing is probably a perfect side business for you. In essence, your job is to make cars sparkleinside and out – and many people are quite happy to pay well for this service.

2. Babysitting

Got lots of evenings free? Like kids? Babysitting may be a great side business for you. Keep an eye on multiple children on Friday and Saturday nights and you can earn some easy cash over time.

3. Rent out a room in your home

Have some extra space in your home? Turn that extra bedroom into a “bed and breakfast” room. If you live near any sort of tourist destination, you can try your hand at renting out a room through Airbnb or CouchSurfing.com. You may also find paid hosting opportunities in your community: Sign up to host exchange students, visiting professors to a nearby college, or hospital patients receiving long-term treatment.

4. Blogging

If you enjoy writing, find a topic you’re passionate about and start a website dedicated to covering that topic and anything else interesting you want to talk about. All you need is a computer, some time, and some energy to consistently write. It can start as a hobby and turn into a business over time. And blog hosting can cost less than $12 per month.

5. Buying and reselling on eBay

Thanks to technology, there are more opportunities than ever to buy and resell products for extra money. Plenty of people buy local and in-demand products at a discount and resell them on eBay for profit.

6. Cake and cupcake baking and decorating

Enjoy baking and have a bit of an artistic touch? Learn how to decorate cakes and make them for special events. Sell your creations online via Craigslist or your local neighborhood Facebook page, or at local farmers markets. Many people are willing to pay others to create custom cakes for birthday parties and special events.

7. Snowplowing

Live in an area with plenty of snowfall during the winter? If so, you could easily start a snowplow business by investing in a plow attachment for your pickup truck or Jeep. If you want to start smaller, you could even build your business by clearing driveways and walkways with a shovel or a snowblower.

8. Dog walking

Dog walking is the perfect side business for anyone who has a few hours to kill during the day. Once you get a few clients, you simply need to pick up their dogs and take them on long, leisurely walks that will tire them out and keep them in shape. Bonus: Walking dogs may help you in your quest to stay fit as well.

9. Freelance writing

If you’re good with words, you might be able to find some work as an online freelancer. A variety of publications need online content in the form of stories, product or service descriptions, and reports, and if you have the talent and skill, you could easily be the one to create them. Fortunately, all you need is a computer and Internet connection to get started. RealWritingJobs.com is a great place to start.

10. Creating custom clothing

The Internet has created opportunities for people who can sew and design custom clothing for special events. Many people have found success creating custom birthday outfits for babies and selling them on sites like Etsy or eBay, for example. In addition to selling online, you could also market this service to people in your local community.

Related: Marketing Tools Entrepreneurs Should Keep Handy

11. Housecleaning

Many people simply don’t enjoy cleaning their homes and are willing to pay a reasonable price to have someone do the work for them. This is a great way to earn extra money in a flexible way, particularly if you have time off during the workweek. And since you will be working for yourself, you can often choose your own hours, terms, and pay.

12. Pet sitting

When people go on trips, they’re often concerned as to what will happen with their pets. That’s where you step in — offer yourself as a safe place to leave their pets, or be willing to go to their home to take care of their pets. In many cases, people are more than willing to pay a qualified pet sitter in order to avoid sending their pet to a professional kennel.

13. Home daycare

Many states allow people to start an in-home daycare with minimal licensing and paperwork. If you love children and have plenty of time and space at home, this is a perfect business to get into. All you need is a safe room or two for children to play in, some toys and activities, and a whole lot of patience.

14. Cleaning services for businesses

Many businesses and civic institutions need individuals who can clean their offices and common areas outside of normal business hours. If you’re willing to work some nights and weekends, you can build a cleaning side business and get in shape all in one fell swoop.

15. Social media expert

Almost everyone uses FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest these days, but did you know that many companies will pay people to help them manage their social media accounts — sometimes even part-time from home? To find social media jobs, you can start by contacting businesses with a social media presence and scanning sites like Elance.comfor opportunities. Check out PaidSocialMediaJobs.com for more information on how to get started with this type of business and to find companies willing to pay for your services.

16. Gourmet cookie making

If you love baking and are able to keep your hand out of the proverbial cookie jar, making gourmet cookies is a great side hustle with plenty of long-term potential. Start by learning how to execute unique and tasty gourmet cookie recipes, then seal the deal by creating or purchasing professional-looking packaging. Sell your cookies online or to people in your local community.

17. Antique refurbishment

This is a perfect side business for people who love antiquing. Take worn-out antiques home with you, invest the time and care needed to transform those old items into something amazing, then resell them at a profit.

18. Personal chef

I recently met a woman who earned quite a bit of money as a very part-time chef. Once a week, she would go to someone’s house and prepare a homemade meal for their family, then do all the dishes and cleanup work. This gives the family plenty of together time, while putting some cash in the woman’s pocket. If you love to cook, this can be a great opportunity, but you may have to put a lot of effort into searching for clients.

19. Event coordinator

Events like family reunions and large parties are often full of busywork that many people simply don’t want to tackle. That can be the perfect place for you to step in and take charge of the planning and coordination. And thanks to the Internet, it is now easier than ever to market your event planning services.

20. Event DJ

Are you an audiophile? If you have a great sound system and a large selection of music, you’ve already got what you need to hire yourself out as a DJ for various events and receptions. This is a great way to fill an afternoon or evening while also earning some cash in the process.

Related: How to Name Your Business

21. Exercise instructor

Many gymnasiums will trade membership and often a bit more for a person willing and able to teach an exercise class. You can also find people who don’t want to go to a gym and train them at home as a personal trainer. If you’re in good shape, this is a great opportunity to earn some extra money, plus it can often lead to additional income with one-on-one instruction opportunities.

22. Gardening services

I’ve actually fielded requests from others looking for people willing to do this, so the demand is out there. To put it simply, some people are willing to pay others to get a vegetable or flower garden started for them in their yard so they can have access to ultra-fresh produce without all the legwork. If you have a green thumb and some knowledge about the vegetables that grow well in your area, this would be an easy business to start.

23. Handyman services

Skilled at basic home repair? Let people know that they can call you for small repair jobs like basic plumbing, fixing a broken stair, and other things. You’d be amazed at the simple things people are willing to pay others to help them with.

24. Catering

If you love to cook, take the “Blondie” route and start a home catering business. Catering is a business that’s perfectly designed to reward those who plan well, and it can often fit perfectly into weekends, which could work great if you are trying to build a business outside of normal working hours.

25. Interior decorating

Fascinated by interior design? Have a huge collection of interior design materials around? Many people are quite happy to hire someone to help them decorate their home, and that’s especially true of those who want a magazine-caliber style yet don’t have an eye for design at all.

26. Pet yard waste cleanup

For many people in suburban areas, cleaning up pet yard waste is a real hassle – it’s disgusting, for one. Instead of cleaning it up themselves, they might hire someone to do it regularly, two to three times a week. There are several such services in our area, actually.

27. Knitting, crocheting, or quilting

Skilled at creating blankets and sweaters? There’s a huge market for these types of items – even better, you can usually make them in your spare time whenever you have it. As always, local shops and sites like Etsy are great venues to sell such items.

28. Landscaping services

Willing to mow lawns and trim bushes and trees? Many people are quite happy to pay for such services, and the demand is persistent: Nature just keeps growing… and growing… and growing. Not only is this a great side business for a fit adult, it’s also a great way for a teenager to get a small business started.

29. Furniture making

If you’re adept at woodworking and have some basic equipment, it’s easy to get into business making deck furniture. It only requires a few items – a saw, a drill, a sander – and some creativity and passion for working with wood. If you have the tools or just want to turn your hobby into a business, this may be a great small business idea for you. In addition to creating new items, you could also focus on repairing existing wooden furniture or woodwork.

30. Meal-to-go preparations

Remember my earlier post about breakfast burritos? Making meals in advance is a great way to save money for yourself – but you can often prepare these for others as well and sell them for a markup. Prepare eight casseroles, for example, then sell six of them to cover your costs, and you’ve got two free dinners for your family (and maybe a bit more). You can grow this by taking orders from others and finding out what they like.

Related: 10 Small Businesses to Start With Little To No Money

31. Personal assistant

Thanks to sites like TaskRabbit, plenty of people have learned to pick up work doing a variety of side jobs that other people just don’t have time to do. Common tasks can include anything from picking up dry cleaning to making dinner or assembling Ikea furniture.

32. Pet grooming

Many people loathe bathing their pets and grooming their fur – I know I do. Pet groomers perform these tasks for a small fee – a perfect job for a person who loves dogs and cats.

33. Jewelry making

If you have a good eye for detail work and a lot of patience, homemade jewelry can be quite profitable. As with other items on this list, there are many opportunities to sell such items through local gift shops, craft fairs, or sites like Etsy.

34. Growing and selling produce

Like to grow vegetables? Focus in on one vegetable and sell the excess to grocery stores and at farmers’ markets. My father does this with tomatoes and earns some solid extra money during the summer months. You can do really well, though, if you can grow things inside during the winter – February fresh tomatoes can sell quite well.

35. Proofreading and editing

Have strong English skills and exceptional grammar? You may have opportunities to work as a proofreader from home. Advertising for this can be difficult; seek out those who might actually be able to use your services and advertise directly to them.

36. Scrapbook making

Many people dream of having beautiful scrapbooks but never take the steps to create them on their own. You can step in here – take their ideas and materials and assemble a scrapbook for them.

37. Slideshow making

Many people would love to have a beautiful slideshow to commemorate the passing of a loved one, an anniversary, or a special birthday. With a computer and some select software, you could quickly turn anyone’s pictures into a beautiful, custom slideshow, and profit handsomely for your time and effort.

38. Senior citizen assistance

Many elderly people need assistance with a wide variety of simple household tasks – cleaning, laundry, and so forth. Many adult children of elderly people are quite willing to hire someone to help out their parents.

39. Sewing and alterations

My wife is quite handy with a sewing machine and often hems and modifies our children’s clothes. She could easily take this a step further and offer her services to others, doing basic garment repair and modification for a small price on lazy evenings.

40. Computer troubleshooting

I had some success with this in the past, though I’ve largely moved away from it now. If you have a knack for fixing computers, this is a good place to start.

Related: Your Startup is up and running. What now?

41. Public speaking

If you’re the type of person who can get the attention of a room easily, public speaking might be for you. Take advantage of every public speaking opportunity you can and you’ll be surprised at the opportunities that make themselves available for you.

42. Soap making and spa products

Making amazing homemade soaps and other spa products isn’t as hard as you might think – it just takes time and patience. Again, people value handmade items like these, which can easily be sold through local gift shops and websites like Etsy.

43. Giving music lessons

If you know how to play an instrument well (particularly the piano or the guitar) and have patience, you’ve got what you need to teach others how to play. Offer lessons in that instrument to others – this can also be an excellent service to barter with, too.

44. Tutoring

Did you major in a subject like English, history, or math in college, or do exceptionally well on the SAT exam? Do you have patience with children? If so, you likely have what you need to tutor kids in particular subjects. Seek out parents or teachers and let them know that you tutor students in a certain subject, and offer materials for them to share, and phone calls will often trickle in. You can get going locally or expand across the country by offering to tutor online.

45. Virtual assistant

Many ultra-busy professionals appreciate having someone who can check and answer their email, organize task lists for them, update their calendars, and other administrative tasks, with minimal interaction. The best part is that you can provide this service from home with a good Internet connection.

46. Website design

Many small businesses in your community could use a very basic web presence to tell others about their business. Quite often, these businesses don’t have a large budget for such things. That’s where you come in – get a bunch of clients from the local community by beating the pavement, create sites for them, and maintain them for a small fee. Get enough businesses and you have a nice side business of your own that doesn’t require a ton of maintenance time.

47. Wedding planner

If you’re one of those people who can’t help but flip through bridal magazines and think about various wedding arrangements in your daydreams, wedding planning might be the perfect thing for you. A great way to get started is to develop a website or blog on the topic, get to know people online, and promote your services at local wedding venues and throughout the community.

48. Affiliate marketing

If you play your cards right, certain types of businesses will pay you to promote their products and encourage sales. If you’re interested in learning more, check out affiliate marketing programs such as Amazon Associates, Commission Junction, LinkShare, and ShareASale.

49. Become a business or life coach

If you’re passionate about the business world or able to influence and encourage others in your own unique way, you may want to consider marketing your services as a business or life coach. Use your passion and expertise to give advice and suggest actionable steps people can take to improve their professional and personal lives.

50. Start a resume writing service

If you’re excellent at crafting amazing resumes that ultimately result in people getting the job, consider marketing those services. Most of your work will revolve around writing, editing, designing, and proofreading, so you will need few supplies outside of your computer and basic software to get started.

These are just some of the many side business opportunities that have grown more common in the past few years. However, there are many more out there already, in addition to some that are yet to be discovered.

As you embark on your new side business or “side hustle,” remember that you are only limited by your own imagination and skillset. Don’t be afraid to be creative, and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t succeed.

You never know, unexpected success might be right around the corner.

Credit: Trent Hamm via The Simple Dollar

Photo Credit: Under30CEO

Related: Hobby or Startup? Important When Filing Your Taxes

CMG Business Group…. Propelling Industry to New Heights!

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Building Emotional Fitness Needed to Succeed

If you are serious about succeeding as an entrepreneur and person, expect to experience heart-wrenching moments that will test your faith, your endurance and patience. Keep in mind that success is a virtue. It is something you practice and cultivate. Success is something you do it is not something you have. To be successful you must be willing to endure the hardships which are a part of any entrepreneurial journey. Make sure that no trial you encounter is wasted. Let each hardship minister to your personal education, to the development of your patience, faith, fortitude and humility. Every hardship you suffer coupled with the ability to persevere builds your character, it purifies your perception and catapults you towards success. Just like any type of fitness, how great you become is a direct result of what you are willing to undergo.

1. Develop self-awareness.

When climbing towards success, if you desire the highest levels, growth requires to to never overlook or ignore what you have done or are doing to contribute to the challenges confronting you. You cannot grow in your success if you cannot see how you are a part of each failure. It is typical to overlook (or ignore) what you have done to contribute to your struggles. Develop the self-awareness that you are at the center of everything that happens to you. Therefore, you are the place to start to become stronger in the face of adversity.

Self-awareness is developed by asking yourself; what are your goals? Where are you headed? Why are you going there? You have to create the “why” to see the purpose of what you are enduring for.

Related: Behaviors of Successful People

2. Take responsibility.

For the majority, the desire to avoid responsibility is overwhelmingly powerful. That desire is often so great that it feeds into horrible acts of cruelty, brutality and scapegoating. It is a desire so pervasive that many egomaniacs have been able to rely on it as a path to success. True responsibility is a heavy burden.

Be willing to take responsibility for yourself and your success. Accept the consequences, good or bad, for your actions and reactions. You are not responsible for everything that happens to you in business but you are responsible for how you deal with what happens to you. To be successful strive to be the master of yourself.

Ask yourself if you are willing to take responsibility without needing a “fall guy”? If not, your dream of living a rich and fulfilling life is a lost cause, but if so, you have the potential for a joyous and successful journey in your business.

3. Contemplate your choices.

You will develop an inner tenaciousness if you don’t let hardships consume you. You must persevere in your desire to serve a purpose larger than yourself. You will be faced with choices on the front lines of your business. You can choose excuses and feed lower level behaviors such as blame, self-pity, whining or revenge that lead you into weakness and cowardice, or you can recognize that excuses are incompatible with success.

Make the choice to push on through the growing pains and adversity, fear and suffering, the tragedy and trauma of being an entrepreneur. Your reward for your effort is wisdom, strength and emotionally fitness.

Ask yourself if you are going to let hardships break you or make you stronger.

Related: Quick, Easy Ways to Improve Your Focus

4. Practice makes perfect.

To be emotionally fit, view success as something you develop. It is not something you have and it is never fixed. Rather, success is something you practice. Through practice you become better at what you do. Any champion will tell you that without practice skills deteriorate. Practice builds enduring habits and these habits build your character.

With practice you get back on track sooner after facing challenges. With enough practice, success evolves from a thing to a way of being. Keep in mind that when you are successful you will not be successful all the time. No one can sustain greatness all the time. Practice greatness, practice courage. It makes you human on the days when things aren’t perfect in your business.

Understand that you become what you do, if you do it enough.

5. Be patient.

To be emotionally fit turn tragedy into wisdom. Use every obstacle you face to develop the understanding that growing through adversity requires resilience. The fruits of real success grow slowly. Success is something you sculpt into perfection and that takes time.

You will learn the most about success, not when you focus on your more dramatic moments in business, but when you make the wholeness of your larger purpose your ultimate goal. You do not cultivate the virtue of success to perform well in a single moment. You cultivate success so you can run a full, flourishing and successful business.

Related: The Art of the Pitch

6. Be an optimistic-realist.

When facing hardship maintain an objective focus on whatever your harsher realities are. It does you no good to dull the facts. It does you no good to fantasize about what might be. To be emotionally fit, maintain a clarity about the realities of where you are in your business while finding ways to maintain hope. Learn to differentiate between hoping and fantasizing about your future. Hope is a belief you maintain to trust in yourself to overcome all hurdles placed in your path.

When reality throws a wrench in your progress, choose to see that obstacle as real. Emotional fitness is developed by dealing with your calamities. Feel the burn and let it teach you. Face what pains you and shine a light on it. Pain doesn’t like exposure. It prefers to haunt and destroy your success from the deeper recesses of your psyche. Pain doesn’t like to be understood because then it has no power.

To be a standout success, you have to develop the emotional fitness to withstand the journey. Be willing to confront the brutal facts of your reality. When you are brave enough to acknowledge pain and stop running from it, you will see it for what it is. Face the facts. Confront each business and personal challenge with discipline and courage. Wallowing in pain is a trap, the quagmire that consumes achievement.

You must cultivate yourself to become emotionally fit for success. Watch, listen, read, learn, try. Practice diligently what is needed to live a full and successful life. Success is a journey of consistently striving to be better at what you do. It is about cultivating your character and making sure you have a sound, strong mind to endure the challenges you will undoubtedly face in your business. Make sure your life is rooted in purposeful work. Success isn’t about searching for achievement as much as it is a way of being. Success is endurance.

Related: Seven Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires

Credit: Sherrie Campbell via Entrepreneur

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100 Great Questions Every Entrepreneur Should Ask

 

There’s no Superman versus Iron Man face-off between questions and answers over which is the better tool for innovation. But if there were, questions would be winning. Questions ignite imaginations, avert catastrophes, and reveal unexpected paths to brighter destinations. Jim Collins, Marshall Goldsmith, and other thinkers have compiled their own stocks of questions, which they urge leaders to pose to themselves and their teams. The right questions don’t allow people to remain passive. They require reflection, followed by action.

Warren Berger, author of A More Beautiful Question, praises inquiry’s ability to trigger divergent thinking, in which the mind seeks multiple, sometimes non-obvious paths to a solution. Asking good questions and doing so often “opens people to new ideas and possibilities,” says Berger.

To compile this list of provocative questions for business owners, we reached out to entrepreneurs and management thinkers, scanned blogs, and revisited our favorite business books. (Though we tried to identify the origin of each question, some had competing claims of authorship. In those cases, we made our best call.) Have you got a great question that you use at your company? We welcome you to add your own to the list via the comment box below the story. Rigid mindsets are dangerous things. We hope the following will keep your mind supple.

Related: Marketing Tools Entrepreneurs Should Keep Handy

  1. How can we become the company that would put us out of business? –Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group          
  2. Are we  relevant? Will we be relevant five years from now? Ten? –Debra Kaye, innovation consultant and author
  3. If energy were free, what would we do differently? –Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos. Hsieh explains, “This is a thought experiment to see how you would reconfigure the business if you had different resources available or knew that different resources would one day become available. Another question might be, what if storage was free? Or what if labor costs half as much or twice as much?”
  4. What is it like to work for me? –Robert Sutton, author and management professor at Stanford
  5. If we weren’t already in this business, would we enter it today? And if not, what are we going to do about it? –Peter Drucker, management expert and author 
    The late Drucker posed a variation on this question to Jack Welch in the 1980s. It inspired General Electric’s “fix, sell, or close” strategy for exiting or restructuring unprofitable businesses.
  6. What trophy do we want on our mantle? – Marcy Massura, a digital marketer and brand strategist at MSL Group. Massura explains, “Not every business determines success the same way.Is growth most important to you? Profitability? Stability?”
  7. Do we have bad profits? –Jonathan L. Byrnes, author and senior lecturer at MIT. Byrnes explains, “Some investments look attractive, but they also take the company’s capital and focus away from its main line of business.”
  8. What counts that we are not counting? –Chip Conley, founder of Joie de Vivre Hospitality and head of global hospitality for Airbnb 
    Conley explains, “In any business, we measure cash flow, profitability, and a few other key metrics. But what are the tangible and intangible assets that we have no means of measuring, but that truly differentiate our business? These may be things like the company’s reputation, employee engagement, and the brand’s emotional resonance with people inside and outside the business.”
  9.  In the past few months, what is the smallest change we have made that has had the biggest positive result? What was it about that small change that produced the large return? –Robert Cialdini, author and professor emeritus of marketing and psychology at Arizona State University
  10. Are we paying enough attention to the partners our company depends on to succeed? –Ron Adner, author and professor at Tuck School of Business. Adner explains, “Even companies that execute well themselves are vulnerable to the missteps of suppliers, distributors, and others.”
  11. What prevents me from making the changes I know will make me a more effective leader? –Marshall Goldsmith, leadership coach and author
  12. What are the implications of this decision 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years from now? –Suzy Welch, author
  13. Do I make eye contact 100 percent of the time? –Tom Peters, author and management expert
  14. What is the smallest subset of the problem we can usefully solve? –Paul Graham, co-founder of Y Combinator
  15. Are we changing as fast as the world around us? –Gary Hamel, author and management consultant
  16. If no one would ever find out about my accomplishments, how would I lead differently? –Adam Grant, author and professor at Wharton
  17. Which customers can’t participate  in our market  because they lack skills, wealth, or convenient access to existing solutions? –Clayton Christensen, author, Harvard Business School professor, and co-founder of Innosight
  18. Who uses our product in ways we never expected? –Kevin P. Coyne and Shawn T. Coyne, authors and strategy consultants
  19. How likely is it that a customer would recommend our company to a friend or colleague? –Andrew Taylor, executive chairman of Enterprise Holdings. “Taylor’s use of this question at Enterprise Rent-A-Car inspired Fred Reichheld to create the Net Promoter Score, a widely used metric for customer loyalty.
  20. Is this an issue for analysis or intuition? –Tom Davenport, author and professor at Babson College. Davenport explains, “If it’s a decision that’s important, recurring, and amenable to improvement, you should invest in gathering data, doing analysis, and examining failure factors. If it’s a decision you will only make once, or if for some reason you can’t get data or improve the decision-making process, you might as well go with your experience and intuition.”
  21. Who, on the executive team or the board, has spoken to a customer recently? –James Champy, author and management expert
  22. Did my employees make progress today? –Teresa Amabile, author and Harvard Business School professor. Amabile explains, “Forward momentum in employees’ work has the greatest positive impact on their motivation.”
  23. What one word do we want to own in the minds of our customers, employees, and partners? –Matthew May, author and innovation expert. May explains, “This deceptively simple question creates utter clarity inside and outside a company. It is incredibly difficult for most people to answer and difficult to get consensus on–even at the highest levels. Apple = different. Toyota = quality. Google = search. It’s taken me three years to get one of my clients, Edmunds.com, to find and agree on their word: trust.”
  24. What should we stop doing? –Peter Drucker, management expert and author
  25. What are the gaps in my knowledge and experience? –Charles Handy, author and management expert
  26. What am I trying to prove to myself, and how might it be hijacking my life and business success? –Bob Rosen, executive coach and author
  27. If we got kicked out and the board brought in a new CEO, what would he do? –Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel. In 1985, with the company’s memory-chip business under siege, CEO Grove famously posed this hypothetical to Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, leading them to ditch memory for microprocessors.
  28. If I had to leave my organization for a year and the only communication I could have with employees was a single paragraph, what would I write? –Pat Lencioni, author and founder of The Table Group. Lencioni explains, “Determining the substance of this paragraph forces you to identify the company’s core values and strategies, and the roles and responsibilities of those hypothetically left behind.”
  29. Who have we, as a company, historically been when we’ve been at our best? –Keith Yamashita, author and founder of SYPartners
  30. What do we stand for–and what are we against? –Scott Goodson, co-founder of StrawberryFrog
  31. Is there any reason to believe the opposite of my current belief? -Chip and Dan Heath, authors who teach at Stanford’s and Duke’s business schools, respectively
  32. Do we underestimate the customer’s journey? –Matt Dixon, author and executive director of research at CEB 
    Dixon explains, “Often, companies don’t understand the entirety of the customer’s experience and how many channels may have already failed them. They don’t understand that the customer goes to the website first, pokes around but can’t find the answer to their question, and then tries to start up a chat with an agent, only to get frustrated by the delayed response. Only then do they go to the Contact Us tab and call. From the company’s perspective, the call is square one. The customer sees it as, you’ve already wasted 15 minutes of my time.”
  33. Among our stronger employees, how many see themselves at the company in three years? How many would leave for a 10 percent raise from another company? –Jonathan Rosenberg, adviser to Google management
  34. What did we miss in the interview for the worst hire we ever made? –Alberto Perlman, CEO of Zumba Fitness
  35. Do we have the right people on the bus? –Jim Collins, author and management consultant  
  36. What would have to be true for the option on the table to be the best possible choice? –Roger Martin, professor, Rotman Business School. Martin uses this question when members of a group bring diverse opinions to a decision. It allows people to step back from their strongly held beliefs and contemplate a range of circumstances that might–or might not–support each option.
  37. Am I failing differently each time? –David Kelley, founder, IDEO
  38. When information truly is ubiquitous, when reach and connectivity are completely global, when computing resources are infinite, and when a whole new set of impossibilities are not only possible, but happening, what will that do to our business? –Jonathan Rosenberg
  39. Do we aggressively reward and promote the people who have the biggest impact on creating excellent products? –Jonathan Rosenberg
  40. What is our Big Hairy Audacious Goal? –Jim Collins
  41.  Is our strategy driving our strategy? Or is the way in which we allocate resources driving our strategy? –Mark Johnson, co-founder, Innosight 
    Johnson explains, “You might think you have a strategic plan, but your people may be doing things on a day-to-day basis that are undermining it. It’s essential that people believe in the strategy so they can make the daily decisions that support it.”
  42. How is the way you as the leader think and process information affecting your organizational culture?  –Ari Weinzweig, co-founder Zingerman’s Community of Businesses 
    Weinzweig explains, “Describe the culture you’d love to have in your organization. Then check the desired characteristics of the culture against the way you think and process information. Are they congruent?  Do you want collaboration but think in isolation?  Do you want a flat organization but think hierarchically?
  43. Why don’t our customers like us? –James Champy
  44. How can we become more high-tech but still be high touch? –James Champy
  45. What do we need to start doing? –Jack Bergstrand, CEO, Brand Velocity
  46. Whom among your colleagues do you trust, and for what? –Charles Handy. Handy tells this story: “One CEO had a problem with his best subordinate, who was very good at his job. But he was also personally ambitious, so the CEO could not trust him to be totally loyal. The dilemma was whether to keep him because of his abilities or lose him because he couldn’t be sure of him.  The answer was for the CEO to either assign the subordinate jobs where his loyalty wasn’t relevant or to confront him with his feelings. After some pushing from me. the CEO did the latter, and it cleared the air.”
  47.  Are you satisfied with your current role?  If not, what is missing from it? –Charles Handy
  48. Do you keep 50% of your time unscheduled? –Dov Frohman, engineer and executive, author 
    The 50% stat may be somewhat arbitrary. But Frohman’s point, laid out in his book “Leadership the Hard Way,” is that leaders should make sure they maintain sufficient “slop” in their schedules to allow space for reflection and the assimilation of lessons learned from experience.
  49. What would I recommend my friend do if he were facing this dilemma? –Chip and Dan Heath
  50. What kind of crime could a potential new hire have committed that would not only not disqualify him/her from being hired by our organization, but would actually indicate that he/she might be a particularly good fit?  -Pat Lencioni 
    Lencioni explains, “In this case “crime” is a metaphor.  This question speaks to values. A particularly idealistic organization may be okay with hiring someone that was previously reprimanded for standing up for his beliefs or blowing the whistle on something. A particularly competitive organization may be okay hiring someone who in prior positions was reprimanded for being overly arrogant or difficult to work with.”
  51. If our customer were my grandmother, would I tell her to buy what we’re selling? –Dan Pink, author
  52. If our company went out of business tomorrow, would anyone who doesn’t get a paycheck here care? –Dan Pink
  53. What is something you believe that nearly no one agrees with you on? –Peter Thiel, partner, Founders Fund
  54. Do you have an implicit bias for capital investments over people investments? –Tom Peters. Peters explains: “Capital enhancements are important. They’re also cool. You can get your picture taken next to a new robot. People investments are invisible and hard to measure. The tendency is to favor the hard stuff over the soft stuff. But the soft stuff is invariably more related to long-term strategic success than the hard stuff.”
  55. Do we have enough freaky customers in our portfolio pushing us to the limit day in and day out? –Tom Peters
  56. Who are you going to put out of business, and why? –Brad Feld, managing director, Foundry Group
  57. What happens at this company when people fail? –Bob Sutton and Jeff Pfeffer, Stanford professors
  58. How will you motivate the dishwashers? –Bill Keena, independent casino consultant. Job interview questions comprise a genre unto themselves, so we chose not to include them in this article. With one exception. Keena says the only correct answer to this question, posed to manager candidates in a hotel chain, is “If they are overloaded I would roll up my sleeves and start washing right alongside them.” That speaks to the candidate’s ability to create employee engagement. Turned inward, however, the question reveals even more about culture. Ask yourself this: Are we the kind of company that cares whether our dishwashers are motivated?
  59. Do your employees have the opportunity to do what they do best everyday? –Marcus Buckingham, author
  60. Where is our petri dish? –Tim Ogilvie, CEO. Peer Insight
  61. What Microsoft is this the Altair Basic of? –Paul Graham
  62. Do we say “no” to customers for no reason? –Matt Dixon
    You may have created your customer policies at a time when you lacked resources, technology wasn’t up-to-snuff, or low service levels were the industry norm. Have those circumstances changed? If so, your customer policies should change too.
  63. Instead of going to current contacts for new ideas, what if you reconnected with dormant contacts–the people you used to know?  If you were going reactivate a dormant tie, who would it be? –Adam Grant
  64.  Do you see more potential in people than they do in themselves? –Adam Grant
  65. Are you taking your company in the direction of better and revenue or cheaper and cost? –Michael Raynor, director, Deloitte Services LP
  66. Would you rather sell to knowledgeable and informed customers or to uninformed customers? –Don Peppers, founding partner, Peppers and Rogers Group. Partly it’s a matter of values: uninformed customers can be easy targets who swallow your pitch without pushing back. Selling to knowledgeable customers, by contrast, “is a mark of a trustable firm–one that is working to advance its customers’ best interests,” says Peppers. And there’s another benefit: “Your most valuable customer references are not the ones who spend the most, but the ones who have the most expertise and authority. That gives them credibility with their peers.”
  67. What are we challenging, in the sense that Mac challenged the PC or Dove tackled the Beauty Myth? –Mark Barden and Adam Morgan, founders, eatbigfish. Barden and Morgan explain that for companies challenging market leaders with greater resources, competing on the status quo is death. Instead they must assault the dynamics of a category (the dominance of PC) or a cultural meme (what society defines as “beautiful” in women).
  68. In what way can we redefine the criteria of choice in our category in our favor, as Method introduced style and design to cleaning and Virgin America returned glamor to flying? –Mark Barden and Adam Morgan
  69. In the past year, what have you done (or could you have done) to increase the accurate perception of this company/brand as ethical and honest? –Robert Cialdini 
    Cialdini explains: “Of course, the preferred way to increase the perception of a company as ethical is to foster ethical practice within the organization. However, sometimes a company can be ethical without a corresponding perception in the marketplace that this is indeed the case. Therefore, companies should strive not only to enhance and reinforce an ethical culture but also to arrange for a warranted perception of that ethicality to be part of their brand.”
  70. To whom do you add value? –Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood, co-founders, The RBL Group
  71. Why should people listen to you? –Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood
  72. How would our PR, marketing, and social media change if we did not use outside agencies? –Guy Kawasaki, founder, Garage Technology Ventures and Alltop. Kawasaki explains, “Let’s see what happens when a company can’t abdicate these functions to hired guns. I’d bet that employees, because they know and love their product more than any agency, can do a much better job at less expense to boot.”
  73. What was the last experiment we ran? –Scott Berkun, author
  74. Are your clients Pepsi or Coke drinkers?” –Marcy Massura 
    Massura explains: “This is a symbolic question that gets at how deeply you have researched your target clients. Business leaders can find out more about their customers than ever before thanks to the ability to collect data on a grand scale. Such detailed information allows the company to interact with targets in new ways and to assess current product development and marketing roadmaps.”
  75. What is your BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement)? –Roger Fisher and William Ury, negotiation experts
  76. What’s the best design framework for an organization in a post Industrial-Age if the top-down, command and control model is no longer relevant? –Traci Fenton, CEO, Worldblu
  77. Who are four people whose careers I’ve enhanced? –Alex Gorsky, CEO, Johnson & Johnson
  78. Where can we break convention? –Shane Snow, co-founder, Contently
  79. Whose voice (department, ethnic group, women, older workers, etc) might you have missed hearing from in your company, and how might you amplify this voice to create positive momentum for your business? –Jane Hyun and Audrey Lee, partners, Hyun & Associates
  80. In retrospect, of the projects that we pulled the plug on, what percent do we wish had been allowed to keep going, and what percent do we wish had ended earlier? –Ron Adner
  81. Do you, as a leader, bounce back quickly from setbacks? –Bob Rosen
  82. Who do we think the world wants us to be? –Geoffrey Moore, organizational theorist and management consultant
  83. How will we build a 100-year startup? –Phil Libin, CEO, Evernote
  84. What successful thing are we doing today that may be blinding us to new growth opportunities? –Scott D. Anthony, managing partner, Innosight
  85. If you could go back in time five years, what decision would you make differently?  What is your best guess as to what decision you’re making today you might regret five years from now? –Patrick Lencioni
  86. What stupid rule would we most like to kill? –Lisa Bodell, CEO, FutureThink
  87. What potential megatrends could make our business model obsolete? –Michael A. Cusumano, professor, MIT
  88. What information is critical to our organization that our executives are ignoring? –Max Bazerman, professor, Harvard Business School
  89. What have we done to protect our business from competitive encroachment? –Tom Stemberg, managing general partner, Highland Venture Capital
  90. If you had to rebuild your organization without any traditional competitive advantages (i.e., no killer a technology, promising research, innovative product/service delivery model, etc.), how would your people have to approach their work and collaborate together in order to create the necessary conditions for success?” –Jesse Sostrin, founder, Sostrin Consulting
  91. What are the rules and assumptions my industry operates under? What if the opposite were true?Phil McKinney, innovation expert
  92. Do the decisions we make today help people and the planet tomorrow? –Kevin Cleary, president, Clif Bar
  93. What is your theory of human motivation, and how does your compensation plan fit with that view? –Dan Ariely, professor, Duke University
  94. How do you encourage people to take control and responsibility? –Dan Ariely
  95. Who do we want out customers to become? –Michael Schrage, professor, MIT
  96. How do I stay inspired? –Paul Bennett, chief creative officer, IDEO
  97. Do I know what I’m doing? And who do I call if I don’t? –Erin Pooley, business journalist
  98. Do they use it? –Howard Tullman, CEO, 1871
  99. What is our question? –Dev Patnaik, CEO, Jump Associates

The Final Question is most important at all times. How is business? Why? –Thomas A. Stewart, executive director, National Center for the Middle Market. Continually asking yourself theses questions and finding solutions to said questions will make for your companies’ best chance for success.

Related: Behaviors of Successful People

Credit: Leigh Buchanan

Photo Credit: RealTrends.com

CMG Business Group…. Propelling Industry to New Heights!

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