How to Manage Stress Through Relaxation Strategies

Stress Relax Computer Keys

Managing your own small business can be as stressful as it is rewarding, but stress itself can be managed through use of “relaxation strategies” that will help you to face the daily grind with calmness and poise. If stress is left unchecked and allowed to fester and grow, it can have serious detrimental effects on your health besides making you irritable with your staff and less than efficient at your managerial duties. Below, we offer 5 suggestions as to how you can relax both body and mind to reduce stress and increase productivity:

  1. Breathe Deeply: Take a few minutes several times day to stop and “take a breather.” That is, literally sit down in a comfortable chair or, if possible, lie down on a bed, and engage in deep-breathing exercises. Slowly fill up your lungs, breathing in through the nose, and then release the air through your mouth in a steady, continuous motion. Count to 10 in the process: from 1 to 5 breathing in and from 6 to 10 breathing out.
  2. Wear Loose-fitting Clothing: If your clothes are too tight, “loosen up,” or it will hinder the blood circulation in your body and make it harder for you to relax. In fact, various health conditions can also arise, in part, from too-tight clothing: varicose veins, poor upper body breathing, back aches, and indigestion.
  3. Do Muscle-relaxing Exercises: If your muscles feel somewhat cramped and tense, “stretch out” using various simple exercises that target specific areas of your body. Lower your chin to your chest and back up again, slowly, to exercise your neck. Shrug your shoulders up toward your ears and then move them in small circles, both clockwise and counterclockwise, to relax shoulder muscles. Do wall stretches to loosen up leg muscles, lift small dumbbells to exercise your arms, and relax wrists by curling your hands up toward your body for a few moments at a time.
  4. Avoid Last-minute Decisions: Disorganization leads to chaos, and chaos leads to stress. For every major aspect of your day, you should “plan ahead” to foster organization and orderliness. Schedules, budgets, work-flow charts, chains-of-command, and some basic protocols are not your enemies- they establish routines that allow you to avoid stressful last-minute decisions because you have already decided many things well in advance.
  5. Maintain a Focused Mind: Do what you can to separate your personal and business activities into distinct time slots and to work through your list of tasks in a one-thing-at-a-time manner. Avoid distractions until its time for a short, 5-minute break. The rest of the time, “stay focused” on the task at hand until it is completed: this will give you a sense of accomplishment that will encourage you as you move on to the next order of business.

Remember to do 5 things- take a breather, loosen up, stretch out, plan ahead, and stay focused, and both you and your business will benefit. Reducing stress levels will boost your productivity and make you feel better at the same time.

What Are the Characteristics of an Entrepreneur?

EntrepreneurBeing an entrepreneur may technically require nothing more than that you have an idea you believe in strongly and that you make an attempt to turn that idea into a profitable venture. Being a successful entrepreneur, however, will require, among other things, a certain set of characteristics that tend toward success. Conducting an honest self assessment as to how

many of these desirable characteristics you possess will put you in a position to make your new business start-up as successful as possible.

Five characteristics that can help you to maximize the success of your entrepreneurial pursuits are as follows:

1. A Willingness to Learn From Others

When low demand, economic stagnation, and unfair practices of competitors begin to push down your bottom line, you may find yourself unsure of how to respond. You may have great business talent and enough accumulated knowledge to come up with some possibilities, but it is always wise to check your ideas against the advice of those more experienced than yourself.

2. The Impulse to Plan Ahead

Gathering the resources to start a new business and then managing it well enough, long enough to meet or exceed your original goals requires a well-thought-out business plan. You should know your product, your market, and the benchmarks by which you will measure success. You will also need to be familiar with the details involved or, at least, hire a trustworthy manager who can attend to them while you focus on the overall direction of your company.

3. Flexibility and Adaptability

Planning is critical, but there is also a need to “counter-balance” your plans with a willingness to be flexible. If customer feedback and the dynamics of the market are ignored in the name of “sticking to the plan,” it will hurt your business and could even end it. Furthermore, you cannot simply “turn static” after an initial adaptation to the needs of the market. Since market conditions are constantly changing, there is a need for constant adaptation.

4. An Ability to Work With Money

In the early days of a new business, keeping cash-flow positive is something of a balancing act that requires the wisest possible use of a limited amount of capital. Thus, an entrepreneur must possess some “financial intuition” and a an ability to budget for both present and future obligations. He must also keep enough of a cash reserve to deal with emergencies, which will inevitably arise.

5. A Skill for “Reasoned Risk-Taking”

Every entrepreneur must take risks in order to have a chance to reap corresponding rewards. Reckless risk-taking done simply “for risk-taking’s sake,” however, is likely to ruin your business. Risks must be weighed against the potential pay-off, the odds of success, and the availability of other options.

Finally, note that even with a good idea, hard work, and wise business moves, failure is not.

100% avoidable. There are times when the best option is to “cut your losses” and re-invest in another entrepreneurial venture that may prove to be more successful.

Letting Go, The Secret To Developing A Business That Works Without You

depositphotos_100173548_m-2015All entrepreneurs are a special breed of people. You have a dream and are willing to put in the hard work to make that dream come true. You grab onto an idea for a business, add a process of trial and error, and nurture it until it bears fruit.

Occasionally your idea produces success quickly, but most often it can take years. During those years, you serve as founder, CEO, CFO, president, and vice-president in charge of business development. In short, you are the company.

You hire employees who do a good job but always following your direction. You feel stressed, never see your family, and desperately need a vacation; however, you worry about what will happen in your absence.

It’s time to let go. You need to find a way to have your business work for you instead of you working for your business. How can you make this happen?

Make a Plan to Change

The process of change is like a journey, and just like any journey, it is important to know two things, the starting point and the destination. Develop a crystal clear understanding of where you want to go. Do you want to sell your business, go public and expand, or keep it as is but move on to new projects.

Whatever path you consider you must develop ways to get there. Your plan should define the tasks you perform, outline a process for choosing and training your replacements, and create a timeline for the transition.

Teach, Delegate, Let Go

Teaching requires showing your replacements the basics of their new task. Establish guidelines for each position that create a systemized approach. These guidelines should progress step by step and clearly define the goal.

After your successors become comfortable with their tasks, give them control a little at a time. Start with an afternoon off and slowly transition to taking full days off. When you feel confident that your company is in good hands, go on vacation.

Don’t be surprised after a short time when you notice your replacements doing things you never thought of, and hello, it’s working.

Conclusion

Delegating control of your company to others is a difficult thing to do. Your business is like your child and who would ever consider giving away a child, teenagers notwithstanding? You must remember, selling might be difficult if potential buyers worry about your company working without you.

Another concern is finding time for strategic matters instead of daily operations, and spending all important quality time with the people you love. Giving up control might surprise you by allowing you to improve the quality of your life and your business at the same time.

Use the Power of a Deadline to Advance Your Business

Blackboard DeadlinesDeadlines are, in essence, goals that you have set for your business for the sake of getting tasks completed in an efficient manner. At times, particularly when clients and external business partners are involved, they can amount to promises, but in many cases, it is the fact that business was taken care of in a reasonable amount of time rather than the exact time of completion that is more important. Nonetheless, without use of deadlines, your business could easily become lax in its efforts, displease customers, and fall behind the competition.

Below, we look at 4 steps involved in setting achievable deadlines that will help your business grow and succeed:

  1. Estimate how long the task will take: In determining the length of time necessary to complete a task, and thus, when to set your deadline, it is important to be realistic. For many, there is a tendency to underestimate how long major projects will take and to overestimate the time needed for small ones. It is advisable to give yourself a buffer to avoid having to move the deadline out due to unforeseen delays since a missed deadline is particularly depressing. Yet, you still should have no more than a few extra days allotted for even a major project. Also account for attention that must be given to other tasks and either allow sufficient time to do both projects simultaneously or put one thing or the other on hold until the more pressing project is completed.

2. Formulate a specific time table: First, the deadline itself should be specific: not “the end of next week” but “Friday at 5pm,” for example. Next, you need to break the task down into smaller tasks and set a deadline for each of these smaller goals. This will create “milestones” that keep the project on track to meet deadline and also serve to motivate workers as they see they are getting closer to achieving the end-goal. Also provide for incentives that encourage your employees to reach each milestone by the designated time.

3. Account for potential problems: Sit down and think of all the problems that could crop up and slow things down. Then set up “contingency plans” to use should any of these issues arise. These contingency plans should outline how you will manage to still meet the deadline in spite of these difficulties.

4. Delegate out each task: Having a goal and steps to accomplish it by the deadline will do little good unless specific employees are assigned to handle each step along the way. Take pains to assign the most qualified person to each task, and don’t overburden anyone. If, however, an employee ends up needing extra time, manpower, or resources, let them know they can ask for whatever they need.

Deadlines help you organize your time, set priorities, and get you motivated when you might not otherwise feel up to the task. Knowing how to set appropriate deadlines and how to meet them will keep your staff motivated and help your business succeed.

The Fine Line Between Confidence and Arrogance, Why You Should Never Step Over The Line

Blackboard I can do thisThere is a great gift in being a confident business owner. It opens doors, creates trust, and builds powerful relationships with fellow business owners and potential clients. But the moment you step over the line and allow your confidence to turn to arrogance, is the same moment you single-handedly destroy your reputation and quite possibly, your business.

If you’ve ever experienced someone that had all the answers, someone that talked over you because they believed they knew better, or someone that treated you as if you were beneath them, run away. They’ve stepped over the line where self-confidence is no longer valued. Their skewed perception of themselves leads them to believe they are someone of great importance, and they will stop at nothing to prove it.

Are you teetering between the land of confidence and the soil of arrogance? Here are some things to keep in mind, should you decide to take the trip to the dark side:

1) You will be treated like the plague.
While you think you know more than everyone else, you actually don’t. You want to, and that’s great, but projecting your insecurities (because that is actually what you’re doing) is never going to serve you. The energy you give off in this state of mind will turn people away. You’ll be treated like you have a wicked disease, and will be left flying solo in the corner of the room.

2) Your colleagues will no longer value you.
The colleagues you hob-nobbed with once upon a time will likely no longer spend time with you. Those that once valued you and your work ethic will change their tune because you did. And once you lose your shine, you lose your following.

3) The phone will stop ringing.
Remember all of those referrals that you used to get? Those will stop. A successful, respectful business owner is a direct reflection of those they associate with. If your disposition is tainted, no one with a stellar reputation wants to taint their own with your ego. Referrals will go elsewhere and your business will dwindle.

The only time arrogance in professionalism will ever serve you is when you recognize how it once crippled you. There is great freedom in this. The most successful business owners are those that are willing to be completely honest with who they are, who they were, and who they strive to be. Someone said once, “There is a thin line between confidence and arrogance…it’s called humility. Confidence smiles, arrogance smirks.”

Keep smiling. It works every time.

What Are the Qualities of a Successful Small Business Owner

depositphotos_84011318_m-2015Successful small business owners come from every background and have as diverse of personalities as anyone else, but they also tend to have certain character qualities in common. These qualities directly impact the way they think about their business and the way they manage it. While a full list of pertinent traits would be indeed voluminous, here below we discuss only a handful of the most important ones:

Visionary: Having a clear view of precisely what it is you want your business to ultimately become and why the product or service it provides is important is the very definition of a “business vision.” Without a vision, it will be difficult to stay “driven to succeed” because there will be no higher purpose for your activities than getting through the “daily grind.”

Goal-oriented: Long and short term goals, which translate into a detailed business plan, are essential to keeping motivated to get things done in a timely manner. When everything is, as much as possible, well thought out ahead of time and broken down into small, practical steps, it is simply easier to succeed.

Ever-learning: The most successful small business owners are always reading, asking questions, researching a better way to do things, and networking with others more experienced than themselves. They also often engage in formal, ongoing education such as business seminars and online classes.

People-people: To some degree, a business person must interact with others and build relationships that are mutually beneficial. This includes with clients, employees, partners, mentors, and suppliers. They will need to head up a team and collaborate with others in working toward a common goal in the most efficient way feasible.

Good with money: Without a steady cash flow, available investment capital, and a sufficient cash reserve, your business will likely soon fold. Knowing how to manage money and make the most out of a limited budget is key to success in the business world.

Organized: Budgeting time and money, scheduling workers, dealing with payroll, and even arranging your personal office for maximum productivity all require a good deal of organization. Routines must be established that allow you to accomplish as much as possible during any given workday, but disorganization will constantly thwart your efforts.

Tech-savvy: In the modern world, businesses must rely heavily on high-tech devices to accomplish basic tasks. Being able to use computers, smartphones, apps, and social media sites effectively and efficiently is almost required these days.

Resilient: There are too many ups and downs in the life of a business for a non-resilient person to keep his/her company afloat. Believing strongly in what you are doing, you will not give up easily.

Above, we listed 8 major character qualities that the most successful small business people frequently possess. No one, however, possesses all desirable qualities to the point of perfection- thus, humility and a willingness to improve must also characterize a good business owner.

The Power of a Business Mastermind Group

Mastermind Group

Mastermind groups are a relatively new concept to most business owners. A mastermind or peer advisory group is designed to help people navigate through challenges using the combined intelligence of others. How does it work? A group of smart, goal-oriented people meets on a regular basis to tackle problems and challenges together. These people lean on each other, share advice and connections, and conduct business together when appropriate. What are the benefits of joining such a group?

Challenging Yourself

Do you want your business to grow beyond your wildest dreams? You need to join a peer advisory group; it will challenge you to grow your company to its fullest potential. In day-to-day life, it is very easy to get distracted – when this happens you lose track of your goals and your business suffers. However, a peer advisory group would keep you from straying too far.

Accountability

As a human being, you need to be held accountable for your actions. Otherwise, you will just do what you want regardless of how it affects the business. At the end of each peer
advisory group meeting, you will have objectives and an action plan that you need to work on before the next meeting. The group will hold you to account for everything, because it takes true discipline to achieve anything in life. Being held accountable by your colleagues will help you keep your focus and succeed in your business.

Lasting Connections

The life of a business owner can be quite lonely. However, if you share your aspirations, challenges and dreams with a team of like-minded people, it will be less lonely. As you spend more time with your peers, you will share ideas and develop strong connections that can last a lifetime. Whether you are looking for lifelong friends or not, you will form lasting bonds with some people.

Brainstorming

As a group, you will be able to share your ideas and come up with better ways of dealing with challenges. If you are not sure which direction you want to go next, seek advice from members of the group. You might be surprised by how helpful your new group mates are. Consequently, you should not be reluctant to help your new team members.

Better Decision Making

When you are alone, it is easy to dismiss an idea as silly. However, with the support of a Mastermind Group, you will be able to make decisions easily. You will have your own due-diligence group to boost your confidence when you need to make an important decision.

Feedback

Get feedback on how to solve problems from successful individuals in your field. If you are facing financial challenges or dealing with staff issues, let your group know and ask them for help. Maybe one of the members has dealt with a similar issue and can offer solid advice. Remember that every person in the group has the same goal: to grow his/her business. There is no hidden agenda – you should all work together for the betterment of your businesses.

Support

Are you going through a hard time? Sure, you can discuss your problems with a close friend or family member, but they would not understand. When you are in a peer advisory group, you can discuss your challenges with a group of like-minded individuals who understand. Some of your colleagues might even be in the same boat. Therefore, you will never lack alternative suggestions on how to deal with your problems. Moreover, you will get sound advice that will stop you from making the same mistakes that your mastermind colleagues made in the past.

Expanding Skills

Each person in a peer advisory group has unique skills and connections. Therefore, it is safe to assume that everyone is an expert at something, and as you forge new connections with them, you will pick up new skills. If you all agree to teach each other something new, you will be armed with the necessary skills to make your business succeed. In such groups, individuals tend to raise the bar by challenging one another to implement goals and brainstorm ideas.

Hot Seats

What is a hot seat? The principle behind it is that each person gets a chance to present his/her biggest challenge to the group. In turn, the group will provide a series of solutions and options to follow up on, and the individual in the hot seat leaves with more ideas. If the mastermind group is too large, not everyone gets a chance to take the hot seat. However, the person in the hot seat might be dealing with the same issues as you, so pay attention. This might help you to gain clarity on the challenges you are currently facing.

Helping Others

When you give a person advice and he or she succeeds because of it, you feel a sense of gratification. Furthermore, offering advice to others gives you the perfect opportunity to forge new and lasting connections. When you help people, most of them will want to reciprocate in any way they can. Therefore, you should think of helping others as a way of earning future favors.

New Business Ideas

The generation of new business ideas is the biggest benefit of joining a peer advisory group. You will come across new ideas that are perfect for your business. The idea may not even be related to your business, but it might jump start something in your brain. Just being in the same room with superior brains in the business world should be enough to give you new ideas.

Increased Profits

The objective of a Mastermind Group is to help you to take advantage of opportunities that come your way. Once you start doing so, your profits will soar and your business will become a great success.

Now that you know why you need to be part of a peer advisory group, you should think about joining organizations that run them, including Virginia Council of CEOs, Entrepreneurs Organization, Team Nimbus, C12 Group, Renaissance Executive Forums, Sage Executive Group, and Vistage. The owner of 1-800-Got-Junk, Brian Scudamore, grew his company’s revenues over a five-year period from $201,532 to $8,057,563. He has won many awards since and been featured on CNN, Oprah, and CBS. What was his secret for success? He joined a small group of entrepreneurs. According to him, ‘the value of peer networking turned out to be more than great business advice’. Brian says that his
peer network enabled him to expand his business. Before he joined a Mastermind network, his profits were low. Why don’t you join a Mastermind Group too? There is no losing; you can only win.

10 Everyday Things Successful Entrepreneurs Say ‘No’ To That Skyrocket Success

10 Everyday Things Successful Entrepreneurs Say ‘No’ To That Skyrocket Success

A wonderful opportunity to learn from those that have figured it out. As is often the case, success is in a direction other than we think.  Click here to read

7 Reasons You Could Benefit From Having a Business Coach

Do you want your small business to be successful and sustainable?

Being a business owner requires a great deal of self discipline and motivation, especially if you have large goals that you would like to attain. One common thing that most small business owners will agree on is that starting up a business is not an easy feat. It takes a lot of outside support. Family and friends can really help a lot when it comes to getting inspiration and support, but sometimes it takes more than that. Professional support from a business coach can really be helpful.

Here are the top 7 benefits of having a business coach by your side every step of the way:

Benefit #1

A business coach will help you identify your long term goals. Setting goals for your business may seem easy, but that is not always the case. It is important to make sure that your goals are attainable. If you are in the beginning stages of starting your business, you may not be aware of the obstacles that can get in your way.  A coach will be able to help you set goals that are within reach, but still require hard work and determination.

They can also help you when it comes to staying focused and on the right direction toward meeting your goals.

Benefit #2

A business coach will be able to give you something that many of your family and friends are unable to – honesty. They don’t have to worry about whether or not what they have to say will hurt your feelings. They can assess your strengths and weaknesses and help you to have a better understanding of them.

Benefit #3

A business coach has been in your shoes. They know the ins and outs of starting up a small business, and they can pass that knowledge on to you. They have also coached many other entrepreneurs just like you and helped them to have successful businesses. Chances are they will be able to use that experience to help you improve your chances of success.

Benefit #4

A business coach will do more than just show you the way. They will work with you in each aspect of your business. Whether you need help with your general operations, training, sales or marketing, they will be able to find ways to improve your methods. They may also be able to give you some brand new ideas that you wouldn’t have thought of on your own. After all, two heads are usually better than one when it comes to critical thinking and business planning.

Benefit #5

A business coach can give you some excellent tips when it comes to time management. So many times, business owners will find themselves in the procrastination trap. When you procrastinate, you lose all sense of time management. This is never a good thing for anyone, but it can really be detrimental for an entrepreneur. They can help you to be more effective at managing your time, which can make your business much more productive.

Benefit #6

A business coach will be able to help you when it comes to your communication. They know the skills that are required to communicate effectively in the business world. While communication may be your strong point, there is always room for improvement. Business communication can vary from one industry to another, and the coach can give great communication tips no matter the industry.

Benefit #7

A business coach can help to take some of the load off of you. When you start a business, it can be very overwhelming. You feel like everything rests on your shoulders, and it can really lead to a lot of stress and frustration. When you have a business coach by your side, you no longer have to worry about doing everything by yourself. This lowers your stress, which in turn makes you happier and more productive.

As you can see, there are many benefits by working with a business coach. If you are thinking about starting up a new business, or you have already started one, you will want to take a look at what a business coach can do for you. The success of your business depends on many factors, and a coach will be able to help you ensure your overall business success.

My name is Bill Davis and I look forward to working with you.

Ten Reasons Winners Keep Winning, Aside from Skill

Whether the game involves competing every four years in the Olympics or every day in a business, winning brings advantages that make it easier to keep winning.

To understand sustainable success, I compared perpetual winners with long-term losers in professional and amateur sports and then matched the findings to business case studies for my book Confidence. The sports were a comprehensive mix including women’s soccer, men’s and women’s college basketball, major league baseball, U.S. football, international cricket, and North American ice hockey.

I found that winners gain ten important advantages as a result of victory — and that smart leaders can cultivate and build on these advantages to make the next success possible.

1. Good mood. Clearly everyone feels good about winning, while emotions sag at failure. Emotions affect performance. Positive moods produce physical energy and the resilience to persist after setbacks. While losers use any excuse to stop, winners sometimes play on even while injured, lifted by a kind of winners’ high. Moreover, psychologists find that moods are contagious. Winners’ exhilaration is infectious. Losers’ gloom can be toxic.

2. Attractive situation. Whether at children’s soccer games or in the office, losers go home early. Winners stick around. My studies show that there is less absenteeism or tardiness in organizations known for their successes. There is also more solidarity, because people spend more time together feeling good about what they can accomplish. More time together brings more chances for information-sharing and mentoring.

3. Learning. Losers get defensive and don’t want to hear about their many failings, so they avoid feedback. Winners are more likely to voluntarily discuss mistakes and accept negative feedback, because they are comfortable that they can win. Because they are confident about the possibility of winning, they see practicing as a route to a positive outcome, not as a punishment. For athletes, practice matters. Winning is often found in mastery of the details. As a former student found in studies of swimmers who did and didn’t qualify for the Olympics, excellence consists of examining and improving many small processes and routines.

4. Freedom to focus. As every golfer and tennis player knows, you must keep your eye on the ball. Losers often punish themselves in their heads. Winners have fewer distractions. Golf pro Tiger Woods won nearly every championship until hit with personal problems of his own making, which was followed by loses on the golf course.

5. Positive culture of mutual respect. For anyone who plays on a team, winning makes it easier to respect and listen to one another, because after all, if you win together, then the presumption is that everyone is a good player. Winners can maintain high aspirations and act generously toward others. Losers are more likely to blame others and disdain them as mediocre, creating a culture of finger-pointing and infighting.

6. Solid support system. Behind every high performance athlete or team is a cadre of coaches, friends, and fans that fuel motivation. Winning enlarges the circle of backers. Losing erodes support. For instance, the cheerleaders for one perpetually losing college football team used to leave the stadium at half-time. When even their cheerleaders feel they won’t win, how can athletes gear up for the next try?

7. Better press. It’s not just the buzz at time of victory that separates winners from losers, it’s also the more favorable story about the past and future. Winning provides a halo that makes everything seem to glow. Losing causes observers and analysts to probe for reasons in a rewritten version of the past that makes continuing losses seem inevitable.

8. Invitations to the best parties. Really. Winners get invited to the White House, Buckingham Palace, key conferences or exhibitions. They gain access to networks and relationships that confer benefits that maintain winners’ momentum, such as early information or better deals. Who invites the losers?

9. Self-determination. Winners have more control over their own destiny. “Why tamper with success?” we often say. Winners are left alone, getting a free pass on reviews (occasionally tragically, as at Penn State, where locker room abuse went uninvestigated). Losers get attention of the negative kind. They are encumbered with “help” — special committees, audits, reviews, frequent visitors. Enough of that, and losers spend their time in meetings instead of practicing and improving performance.

10. Continuity. Lose too often, and heads roll. New coaches, new strategies — like HP’s lurching between hardware and software or Yahoo’s parade of exiting CEOs. High turnover consumes time and attention. More time spent getting people on board leaves little time to fully execute any particular game plan. It’s hard to start winning again until the situation stabilizes. Winners have the luxury implementing long-term strategies and planning for orderly succession.

Winning streaks eventually end because winners can get over-confident, slipping into arrogance or complacency, or because the competition gets better. But leaders can build on the advantages of winners to encourage a positive spirit, disciplined focus, mutual respect, lots of practice on the details, and lasting support systems that can make successes and comebacks more likely.

Editors note: Tony Schwartz thinks our culture has an unhealthy obsession with winning. Do you agree? Read his post and let us know what you think.

This is the piece your business is missing!!!