5 keys for building a business without money (Entrepreneur.com)

By: Michael Glauser November 9, 2016

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/284808

“I want to start a business but I don’t have any money.” I hear this statement over and over again as I work with aspiring entrepreneurs. Many of them have sound ideas, but feel they need a lengthy business plan and a large amount of cash to get started. The reality is, most successful entrepreneurs end up bootstrapping their business. If you are passionate about what you are doing, there are always ways to get things done with limited resources. Here are five keys successful entrepreneurs use to build thriving companies.

  1. Build a Brain Trust of Free Advisors

Nicole DeBoom was a professional triathlete for 11 years. She knew a lot about women’s sports clothing, but very little about the apparel industry. Her solution was to find a group of advisors who could teach her what she needed to know and introduce her to other contacts. Nicole explains: “When I started out I had coffee meetings ten times a week. I just started picking people’s brains.” The end result: Nicole found the resources she needed, launched her company, and has now sold over $25 million in women’s running skirts. Her advisors have been a huge key to her success.

  1. Find an Enthusiastic Angel Investor

One of the goals of building your brain trust is to find potential partners who want to get involved in your company. Jeff Wester is a great example. Jeff wanted to build an old-fashion Black Smith shop in Sisters, Oregon. He found a wealthy mentor who had built a blacksmith shop earlier in his career. He gave Jeff a piece of ground and funded his new shop. He then created a promissory note so Jeff could pay him back over time, which he was able to do.

  1. Start with Borrowed or Used Equipment

Justin Gold was making the best nut butters on the planet with a food processor in his kitchen and selling his creations at farmers’ markets. When he was ready to scale his company, he talked with several large peanut butter manufacturers. They told him they couldn’t add honey, maple syrup, and other ingredients because it would burn out their large industrial grinders. Justin wondered why he could do it in his kitchen, but they couldn’t do it in their multimillion-dollar plants. So he went out and found some old used industrial food processing equipment for almost nothing. Justin recently sold his business to Hormel for $286 million.

  1. Find Something to Sell to Get into the Game

Allen Lim spent his early career in the cycling industry. He created several all-natural hydration drinks that some of the top cyclists in the country loved. He wanted to turn his hobby into a business but had not money. He found an old used funnel cake cart and converted it into a burrito kitchen. He sold burritos at running and cycling events around the country to pay the costs of marketing his new products. With the revenue from burrito sales, his total cost to launch his new products nationwide was $800. Today, Skratch Labs is a major supplier of healthy products to both professional and amateur athletes.

  1. Sell Your Product Before You Create It

The ultimate validation of a business model is to have customers buy your products. In many cases, you can sell products before you even produce them. I sold a half million dollars of frozen dessert products before I created my new brand. David Cann sold a million dollars of his “Double Robots” before he built them. And the founders of Power Practical raised $1.5 million for their energy generating products on Kickstarter before they built these products. Crowd funding is a fantastic way to test products before you spend a lot of time and money on your business.

In sum, there are always ways to get things done with limited resources. Find a group of mentors who will advise you for free, get to know potential angel investors, start with used equipment, find something to sell to raise funds, and sell your product before you

4 ways to boost employee productivity (Smallbiztrends)

By: Rieva Lesonsky September 28, 2016

Source: https://smallbiztrends.com/2016/09/boost-employee-productivity.html?tr=s-ep

Do you ever feel like you get more work done when you’re at home than when you’re at your business? You’re not the only one. A new survey asked employees when they’re most and least productive, and found most are less productive in the office than when working at home. In fact, more than three-fourths of employees surveyed say that if they have something really important to work on, they wouldn’t do it at the office. Slightly more than half (51 percent) would choose to work at home; 8 percent would pick a co-working space, coffeehouse or other outside location; and 8 percent would go to the office — but outside of regular business hours, so they could get some peace and quiet.

Clearly, the majority of people believe they get more done working at home, making remote work the ideal solution for maximizing productivity. But since it’s not practical for every small business to offer the option to work remotely, here are some ideas for helping to eliminate the most common issues that hinder productivity in the office.

How to boost employee productivity.

  1. Hold fewer meetings

Nearly 7 out of 10 employees in the survey cite “less frequent meetings” as a benefit of working from home. Assess the meetings that you regularly hold at your business and decide which ones are really necessary and which aren’t. It’s easy to get stuck in a pattern of holding a weekly all-hands meeting just because you’ve always done so — even if it’s not really that beneficial. For those essential meetings, using an agenda, setting a time limit or even holding meetings standing up are ways to keep them brief. You can also hold meetings at times when they’re less likely to interrupt employees just as they’ve gotten into the groove on a project. For example, try holding meetings first thing in the morning or right after lunch.

  1. Reduce distractions

Three-fourths of employees say distractions are a problem when working at the office. People who work in an open office environment are especially prone to distractions. Setting up your office with cubicles or partitions, or allowing employees to use headphones to tune out office noise, can be good solutions to limiting distractions. Hold meetings in enclosed office space so others around you aren’t disturbed by loud discussions. Set some ground rules for courtesy to help create a workplace where others can focus. For example, you might ask workers to limit conversations on speakerphones or not to play music at their desks without using a headset.

  1. Cut back on interruptions

Being interrupted by colleagues hinders productivity for more than three-fourths of people in the survey. Simple tricks such as closing an office door or hanging up “Do not disturb” signs can help prevent in-person interruptions, but digital interruptions are harder to prevent. If your company culture encourages employees to be “always on” and constantly checking their emails, texts and IMs, consider making some changes. For example, you can let employees know that it’s all right to focus on work for an hour or two and check messages only periodically. Choose one type of communication, such as IM, to be used only for urgent communications — that way, no one has to worry about missing an emergency message.

  1. Make them comfortable

More than half (51 percent) of respondents in the survey say they get more done working at home because the environment is more comfortable. Providing flexible spaces where employees can relax while working, such as a lounge area with sofas or comfortable chairs, can be conducive to focus. Many people (I’m one of them) are a lot more productive using a laptop on a couch than sitting in a straight-backed office chair. You can also provide employees with a set budget and allow them to choose their own office chairs for maximum comfort, or even give them a certain budget to purchase their own desk accessories and decor. When people feel at home in a space, they’re more energetic and creative.

10 traits that sabotage ambition (Forbes)

By: Paula Davis-Laack October 21, 2016

Source: http://www.forbes.com

Ambition can have a negative connotation for people in business, especially for women, but it’s a necessary quality for success in the modern day workplace. The key is to harness your ambition into something sustainable that builds your success rather than undercuts it. Ambition run amok undercuts your resilience, can cause you to miss burnout warning signs and may even interfere with your ability to recognize good professional risks. Harvard Business School professor, Dr. Thomas DeLong, describes 10 traits that can cause driven professionals to stall and hit a wall. They are as follows:

  1. Getting stuck in repetitive tasks:High achieving people are driven by challenging tasks that push them, but if work becomes tedious or repetitive, you can become unmotivated or feel like you’re falling behind your peers.
  2. Knowing what is urgent vs. just important:When I was practicing law, a client of mine used to categorize the priority of his projects with this three-tiered system: nuclear, super-nuclear, and catastrophic. I laugh as I write this because I still don’t know what distinguishes one from the other. By the end of my law career, though, I could no longer distinguish between tasks that were just important and those that were urgent – I perceived everything as urgent.
  3. Trouble delegating:High achievers tend to have the highest standards for themselves and others. As a result, you may hate delegating because it takes a certain amount of vulnerability to hand over a task and trust that it will be completed to that same high standard.
  4. Transitioning to managerial roles:According to DeLong, high achievers worry that if they give up their technical expertise for a managerial role they may lose their ability to do the work. Many high achievers are selected for managerial roles because they have shown that they are good at producing, which does not necessarily mean they will make good leaders. As a result, you might find the transition difficult and either micromanage or continue to be an individual contributor while you learn the ropes.
  5. Difficult conversations:Even though I teach people how to communicate assertively, it’s still tremendously difficult to for me to be vulnerable and sit with the uncomfortable feelings that I know will result from having a difficult conversation. But, here’s why it’s important to have these conversations: Recently, two former business colleagues decided to develop a business opportunity without me. That would have been just fine, but they elected not to loop me in on their decision, and I found out about their venture via social media. As a result, any trust that was built among us has now been permanently severed.
  6. Responding poorly to feedback:DeLong suggests that even though driven professionals crave feedback, they don’t always respond well to it, particularly when it’s negative. That is due in part because high achievers rarely hear bad feedback about their performance.
  7. Thinking you’re either highly successful or a major failure:DeLong states that when high achievers feel as though they have been less than successful, they can swing from feeling responsible and successful to feeling like complete failures. When you feel like a failure, you can become hypercritical of not only yourself but just about anything (and anyone) else in your life.
  8. Comparing:The large law firm I worked at publicly published all of the billable hours each attorney accrued. Each person’s hours were there in black and white and included our names. So, naturally, when the report was released each month, the first thing I did was compare myself to the other high producers in the firm. If I had a good month, then all was right in the world; if my hours happened to be lower than usual, then see item no. 7 above.
  9. Taking only safe risks:You need to succeed at challenging tasks to get ahead, but your own fixed mindset can prevent you from taking good risks because you don’t want to look dumb. According to research by Dr. Carol Dweck and her colleagues, people with fixed mindsets think that ability (intelligence, for example) is fixed or static and therefore incapable of being developed beyond what already exists. This leads to a desire to look smart, avoid challenges where your smarts might be questioned, and giving up easily.
  10. Feeling guilty:Practically every woman I know feels guilty about something in their lives, especially working moms. When you have too much on your plate, you have to pick some roles and tasks over others. The result is that other things get ignored and this triggers that annoying little voice that says you are letting yourself or others down.