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.

7 Great Quotes About Revenue Growth

Chart of revenue growth drawn with chalk on a chalkboard

Great quotes are great for business owners because they constitute three things at once: good insight, practical advice, and memorable wording. With the voluminous literature on revenue growth in a business context and the seemingly endless array of new voices that want to be heard, we can only select 7 great quotes out of the vast ocean of quotations available.

Below, we have chosen 7 quotes that cover multiple aspects of revenue growth and then given brief explanations following each quote:

  1. By author Tim Cook: “Companies that get confused…think their goal is revenue.” Cook goes on to say we should focus on things that lead to revenue rather than simply on revenue itself. While this might seem a too-fine distinction, it does point out strongly that, while a business exists for profit from one side of the equation, it exists to render a product or service from the other vantage point. Thus, serving the customer well will naturally lead to revenue growth.
  2. By Google co-founder Larry Page: Revenue is the engine that funds all our innovation. Without revenue, nothing will happen- it will remain a mere idea. This quote is somewhat akin to the old saying, “It takes money to make money,” and points out the importance of investment capital.
  3. Also by Larry Page: Our goal is long term growth in revenue…so we invest aggressively in future innovation while tightly managing our short term costs. Here, we see the importance of not using all of our revenue on immediate business needs but investing in the future.
  4. GE’s CEO, Jeff Immelt, said: People ought to invest in us because they like our company and the way they run it. To increase revenues by gaining business investors, you need to show management skills and have a product/service that others can believe in as much as you do.
  5. Australian author, columnist, and t.v. host (general financial “guru”), Paul Clitheroe, tells us: It’s not what you earn, it’s what you spend. One way to gain “new” revenue is by spending less of the old revenue.
  6. Along a similar line as the above-given quote, we hear from author Peter Orszag: A deficit reflects an imbalance between spending and revenue…narrowing it requires acting on one, the other, or both. Either revenue directly increases, spending diminishes, or a combination of both- there is no other way to increase revenue overall aside from borrowing or receiving a gift.
  7. On a more “charitable” note, listen to business author Carlos Helu, one of the richest men in all Mexico: The better off you are, the more responsibility you have for helping others. Many businesses give generously to help the poor. When potential clients know of such generosity, they sometimes patronize your business for this very reason, which in turn, increases revenue.

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.

Preparing to go on Vacation

time for vacationAs a small business owner, you might think it a nearly impossible proposition that you would get away for even a week on a “real” vacation, one that is not consumed by attention to business matters and then suddenly cut short by a business-related emergency. However, with advance planning and adherence to some basic protocols, it can really be done.

Some tips to help you have a vacation from your daily business duties without allowing your business to sink into a state of turmoil are given below:

  1. Vacation During the Lulls: Most businesses are subject to a cycle of busy and slow seasons throughout the year, and one way to ease the stress of worrying about your business while away is to schedule you vacation during a lull.
  2. No Major Moves While Away: It is best not to begin a major new project, like launching a new website or conducting a big marketing campaign, while away from the helm. Delay signing all contracts as well until you are back and able to scrutinize them in “non-rush mode.” “Major moves” often run into snags and glitches, and you may need to be there personally to deal with such problems.
  3. Delegate Duties and Preempt Problems: Appoint one employee in charge while you are away, and make sure everyone knows they are to follow his instructions. Also leave a list of how to handle various problems, such as computers breaking down, Internet connections failing, or the company website being out of commission. Let everyone refer to that list to handle emergencies when the person you left in charge is not available.
  4. Minimize Communications to the Essential: Have your employees send you only one email at the end of each day summarizing the day’s activities, problems, and successes. Let everything that only you can do, but that can wait, be printed and placed on your desk for when you return. If, and only if, it is a true emergency, should you be called on the phone.
  5. Don’t Call-Forward to Your Cell Phone: Instead of having you business line forwarded to your cell phone, have your employees handle the calls. Also use a voicemail that you can check when your return or at your convenience while away.
  6. Alert Clients You Will Be Away: For those clients you work with personally, alert them you will be unavailable for awhile. It is helpful if you extend the “unavailability” dates you give them by a day or two on each end. That way, those who call at the last minute before you leave won’t really be doing so, and you will also have a chance to catch up after you return before a flood of business calls come in.

You need to bring all your important business contacts and keep track of things through Internet and phone while away, but you must also balance that need with the need to make your vacation a time of rest and diversion. Otherwise, it’s just business as usual via long-distance methods.

Getting More Done… The Key To Using A World WorkForce

Remote business management conceptIn the business world, any opportunity to achieve more in less time is a winning idea. In that vein of thought, many small businesses and CEOs alike have employed the services of virtual professionals, to their success. When confronted with tasks requiring skills that you do not particularly possess or excel in it can be easy to get overwhelmed. The availability of virtual professionals capable to perform nearly any task, at any time to bridge the gaps in your business needs is a boon to all solopreneurs. In addition they tend to cost a literal fraction of the expense required for hiring an equally skilled part-time employee or other standard fee for service negotiations. Freelancing is no longer limited to writers and the occasional odd jobs. It has instead blossomed into something greater thanks to the advances of technology and several platforms that organize and enable you to be truly discerning in your choice of worker whether you are in need of a realtor or a secretary.

Workforce at the Touch of a Button

Engaging the world workforce does not involve trusting your time-sensitive business needs to the random Joe Schmo from craigslist or the like. In most cases you can request credentials from potential applicants, even proof of degrees and certifications if you so choose. In fact, sites like Upwork.com have a very extensive process available to businesses which enable you to be as in-depth in your hiring process as you desire. This makes it easier for you to access and utilize the available fractionalized resources for skills you currently do not have. For example, you can select your potential favorites from a list of applicants and resumes for your required project, personally interview those you choose online, discuss payment terms with each individual and even analyze their past feedback reviews. The platform offers a very wide-range of specialties from professional writers to mobile developers and marketing experts. Whether you need one person or a large, organized team to tackle your project it is all available. Satisfied with the work completed? Easily add favorite workers for quick and direct access for future or continuous projects.

Quality Guarantee

The large majority of freelancing platforms ensure you get the quality you demand before you ever pay a cent. Your business won’t end up stuck with the bill for poor quality results, and oftentimes you are given the ability to request revisions and corrections for as long as it takes. If it doesn’t work out, you don’t pay, simple as that. Hiring freelancers for your

business needs has exploded in popularity and for good reason. The money saved from doing away with a lengthy hiring process, providing benefits and training of a new hire is profit made. Being in business for yourself doesn’t have to mean being bogged down with menial tasks when your time is worth more and better spent. So don’t overlook the readily available world workforce available for your business needs whether large or small.

Which Is The Key To Sales Success?

Charts of sales growth

Two major philosophies of salesmanship are prevalent among experts today, and the disagreement is understandable as both views have their valid points to make. The first approach is to emphasize being a strong closer over all else, while the second approach is to lean more heavily on being a great prospector. In other words, the philosophical tussle is between the importance of finding great prospects and converting the prospect you have.

Those who emphasize closing will offer such advice as the following:

  • Empathize with your potential customers, but don’t end up agreeing with them on the reasons they have for not purchasing your product.
  • Educate the prospect with truly valuable information they are interested in, giving them reasons to buy and a reason to return even if they don’t immediately buy.
  • Avoid the topic of price as long as possible. Spending money is not a subject that motivates many, and saving money only makes sense after you have already convinced the person that your product if worthwhile.
  • Avoid total closure. Getting a “maybe” is better than a “never,” and “yes” on a small point is better than “no” to everything. Have a plan to prolong the conversation in order to find at least something the prospective customer can agree to.

On the other hand, those who emphasize prospecting will promote such strategies as these:

  • Focus on making every page of your website attractive, engaging, easy to navigate, and full of opportunities to fill out a sign-up form.
  • Take full advantage of social media to promote your business since it can connect you to an immense audience and can be a source of friend-to-friend referrals.
  • Use highly targeted and situation-specific email follow-ups to turn leads into customers.
  • Offer a blog and other solid content that will build a loyal readership, from which you can “mine” future loyal clients.
  • Don’t go 100% digital. Still network face to face at trade shows and other events. Exchange contact information with interested parties and add them to your database.

Sales success must ultimately entail both prospecting and closing, but building a strong, detailed list of prospects is the foundation of the whole process. Furthermore, it is much easier to close when you have good prospects to begin with and much easier to practice your closing skills when your have numerous prospects on your list. Thus, good prospecting
is the more crucial of these two important sales-steps.

Get Social Or Go Home

Social Media Sign Post

Use of social media is growing as fast among business owners as it is among the general population- which translates into “It’s booming.” In fact, a Mediabistro report reveals that 73% of small businesses today are now involved in social media marketing.
There are a number of good reasons why marketing your products or services through social sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ makes good business sense to small businessmen. We will look at three of these reasons just below, but first, let it be said that if you aren’t using social media to bolster your business, your competition is. That competition is fierce, and social media marketing has become so key to success that those who still refuse to “get social” might just as well pack up and “go home.”

  1. Cost-Effectiveness: The first reason to “get social” with your business ads is that around half of modern shoppers count on social media for help in making a purchase decision. Recommendations on their favorite social sites are frequently taken quite seriously, so you had better be making those recommendations instead of your competition. In the end, the ROI on the money, time, and effort invested is typically high enough to easily justify a full-fledged social media marketing program.
  2. Customer Acquisition: A majority of the world’s 7 billion people are now members of at least one social media site, and there are 1.7 billion such sites now in existence. There is enormous potential to gain new prospects via social media marketing with relative ease, and this stems both from the sheer numbers involved and the fact that many are far more likely to buy a product advertised at a social site that they use. Additionally, social site friends will often recommend your product to others both on and off the site, creating a fountainhead for word-of-mouth advertisement.
  3. Customer Interaction: Via social media, businesses can directly engage clients or potential clients in interactions such as Q&A surveys, opinion polls, two-way conversations, and more. While these same sort of activities could potentially take place at a business’ website, prospects are often more willing to take part in them in a more “relaxed social environment.”

Once the great potential of social media marketing is understood, many small business owners increase the time and money spent on this form of advertisement and see beneficial effects. According to a Swiftgate survey, 50% of businesses had recently boosted their time spent on social media sites and had gained new clients as a result. Success will not come apart from offering useful, relevant content to consumers and posting high-quality ads, but locating your material in a high-yield environment (social media sites) is winning half the battle.