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Small Business Owners and Social Media: How Much Time to Spend Online

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Small Business Owners and Social Media: How Much Time to Spend Online

Are you running a small business or offering freelance services? One thing you’ve probably heard by now is to establish a strong social media presence and start marketing yourself online.

It’s true, many entrepreneurs have been able to make a name for themselves and grow their customers and client list by effectively utilizing social media. Social media is free, but it can also cost you quite a bit in terms of your time. Social media was designed to help people connect online, but its algorithms today are often geared toward keeping people scrolling mindlessly all day long. So how much time should small business owners spend on social media truly?

Are you spending too much or not enough time on social platforms or do you even need social media at all? Here’s how to consider the right amount of social media for you.

Setting Social Media Goals

If you’re going to get on social media for your small business, it’s important to set clear goals that you’d like to achieve as a result. For example, most people just go online to see what they can find or gain some new followers. However, you’ll need to get more specific than that if you want to make the most of your time.

Do you want to post 5 promotions per month for your products or services? Do you want to gain 500 followers organically during the first 90 days? Is your goal to build yourself up as an authority figure and lead people back to your website to do business with you?

Narrow down what your true goals for social media are and how they contribute to the success of your business. Having a clear focus can help you eliminate time wasted browsing on social media or getting stumped on what to share.

Decide Which Platform You’ll Start On

I’m a firm believer that you shouldn’t try to be on every social media platform if it doesn’t serve a purpose for your business. If you’re selling clothes, you may not find a ton of value on Twitter but find that Instagram helps you communicate with your target audience.

Look at the type of business you have and the services you offer. See how certain social media platforms might fit in with your offering and goals is key. If you’re wondering how much time small business owners already spend on social media, a Vertical Response survey indicated that 43% spend 6 hours per week on social media marketing.

If this fits in with your schedule then great, if not or you find you’re spending a ton of hours on social media, try to limit the numbers of platforms you’re on to only the ones that serve you best.

Allow Extra Time to Implement a Launch Plan

Realize that actually getting established on social media may take up more time than maintaining your profile and scheduling posts. Allow extra room in your schedule to complete and optimize your social media profile(s) and create some cohesive branding.

For Facebook, you may want to create an offer or make sure your phone number and address are added to your page details. For Instagram, you may want to create a bio link that leads to some of your top content, advice, or service pages on your website. With Pinterest, you’ll have to set aside time to create images for your content and write all your board descriptions.

That said, small business owners may spend much more time on social media in the beginning stages until an effective strategy is determined.

Spend Less Time With a Social Media Strategy

So now you know the good is that you don’t have to spend more than 1 hour per day on social media if you don’t want to. Yet, you can still get some great results from having a social presence. Small business owners don’t even have to get on social media each day if it’s not the main driver of profit for the business.

Instead, develop a proven strategy based on your goals and what works. Find out who your ideal follower or customer is and what they’d like to see on your social profile. Track analytics to see how much traffic or business you’re already getting from social media, then make tweaks and test out new strategies.

One thing I enjoy doing to save time is scheduling out my posts on social media in advance. This helps me stay active on the platform and continue to provide value to others without spending too much unnecessary time on social media.

Allocate Time Fairly Among Other Marketing Efforts

Small business owners and social media can be a great mix but realize that social media is often just one aspect of a marketing plan. Sure, adding social media to your marketing tasks may help you save money, but you should always diversify your marketing and test out other strategies.

If you’re marketing in several places, you won’t be limiting yourself to certain clients or customers who will find your business another way. Take email marketing for example. Some people are actually more responsive to emails than they are on social media. In fact, email marketing converts better for some business genres and unlike social media, you actually own your list and can’t get kicked off the platform.

Summary: Small Business and Social Media

In summary, I wouldn’t spend too much time on social media unless it’s returning sizeable profits for your business. Even 5 hours per week is 260 hours per year. If you calculate the value social media has added to your business, you’ll have to determine if that time is worth it to you. I would ramp up social media efforts as business leads and profits grow as a result, but get clear on your goals and narrow down a specific strategy first.

Find ways to work smart while establishing your social presence and don’t neglect other forms of marketing as well.

10 Deliberate Sacrifices You Must Make if You Want to be Successful

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10 Deliberate Sacrifices You Must Make if You Want to be Successful

Despite the negative connotations, we all make sacrifices. For example, reflect on the years you spent in college. You might have gone out with your friends on Friday night — but never during finals week. Here are ten deliberate sacrifices you must make if you want to be successful.

Fast forward to being an adult. If you want to purchase a new vehicle or home, you need to make some financial sacrifices, like skipping an exotic vacation. When starting a new business, you may not see your friends or family as much.

Here’s the thing though, these were deliberate choices to reach your goals. While not exactly fun, you’re probably not in pain over this.

“Not all pain and suffering, however, amount to sacrifice,” explains Gianpiero Petriglieri is an HBR piece. “The difference is not just philosophical,” but also is practical. “Sacrifice might be hurtful and exhausting, but it is a conscious choice.”

“Suffering is the result of feeling that we cannot slow down or else we will be shamed and lose control,” adds Petriglieri. “Sacrifice makes us who we are. Suffering keeps us captive.”

“When putting our bodies through hell at work, at least for a while, is worth the rewards we get and the contribution we make, it is sacrifice,” he states. “But if you can come up with many reasons for hurting at work, but see little purpose in it, then it is not.”

Moreover, these sacrifices are usually temporary. They will also change to align with your priorities over time. And, even though not pleasant, they can also help you build confidence, resilience and maintain your motivation.

With that in mind, here are 10 sacrifices that you will make at some point in your life if you want to be successful and productive.

1. Sleep

I am in no way advocating that you surpass sleep. Your mind and body need a good night’s rest to recover and recharge. In fact, a lack of sleep will destroy your productivity.

I am saying that sometimes you aren’t going to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep. If you’re a parent, then you’re well aware of this fact. But, you also know that it’s temporary, and you will eventually get back to a somewhat normal sleep routine.

The same is true when it comes to your work life. You will have tasks or projects that require you to put in 12 hour days. You will definitely stay awake at night thinking about your next move like your a Bobby Fisher level chess player.

So, while sleep should be a priority, you also have to be real. There will be some long nights when you’re only going to get a couple of hours.

2. Relationships

Bear with me here as this might seem like a broad topic. If you’re married or have children, then I’m a firm believer in a family comes first. Simultaneously, you might have to scrap a two-week vacation and replace it will a long weekend instead.

But, I’m really talking about those relationships outside of your inner circle. It would be great to catch-up with a friend from college. But, if you already have a packed calendar, that might have to go on the back burner until you have the availability.

Networking is obviously a proven way to grow your business. However, if that’s preventing you from reaching your goals, you might have to scale back. For instance, instead of weekly get-togethers, make it a monthly occurrence or focus on online networking.

And, above everything else, remove toxic individuals from your life. You know who I’m talking about. These are the folks who drag your down or aren’t respectful of your time.

3. Evil Urges

Get your mind out of the gutter! These are unhealthy habits that are holding you back. For instance, you can look at your phone whenever you receive a notification or stay way pat happy hour with your colleagues.

I’ll be honest. We’re all guilty of slipping up every now and then. And I don’t think that you should be too hard on yourself when you do. But, that’s different than making this a recurring issue.

If you want to be productive and successful, then you need to take care of your health. You need to decline those late night functions. You need to ditch mentally unhealthy habits like perfectionism, comparisons, catastrophizing the future, and blaming others.

4. Fear

Being afraid isn’t always a bad thing. Fear, after all, can keep us safe, force us to live in the present, and can even be exciting. However, when left unchecked, it can interfere with your happiness and paralyze you.

While it’s natural to be afraid, like when taking the leap to start your own business, you need to overcome it. There are several ways to go about this, like understanding and embracing your fear. Others have found visualization, role-playing, or questioning the fear to be helpful.

If you’re really struggling with this, I strongly suggest you reach out for help. You could speak with your support system or seek out a mentor. There’s also no shame in working with a mental health professional as well.

5. Stress

Stress just won’t prevent you from reaching your true potential. It can also literally kill you. No wonder it’s been dubbed the silent killer.

As with fear, stress is a natural part of life. But, you can’t let widely grow out of control. Instead, you need to maintain your stress by using techniques like properly:

  • Regular physical activity.
  • Spending time with close family or friends.
  • Offloading some of your workloads.
  • Breathing exercises.
  • Identifying triggers and eliminating them.
  • Using essential oils.
  • Slowing down and celebrating your accomplishments.

What does that have to do with sacrifice? Well, when you feel like you’re on the edge of burnout, you might need to take a personal day. Work will have to wait until you attend to your own well-being.

6. Hobbies

“Before 2008, I was playing golf three times a week,” writes entrepreneur and best-selling author Grant Cardone. “What was I thinking spending time on the golf course, or anything for that matter, when I could have been spending time getting my financial house in order. I had gotten distracted and entitled, had started to rest on my laurels, and put my family at risk.”

“I know life is not just about work and money but notice how many people are not having much of a life because of work and money,” adds Cardone. “I decided to master my work and my money, and if my golf game or social status suffer, so be it.” As he concludes, “It’s all right if you sacrifice fun today for freedom tomorrow.”

At the same time, hobbies can help you hustle. The reason? They are non-work activities that can improve your mood, help you find inspiration, and develop problem-solving skills. The key is striking a balance.

In other words, if golf is your passion, hitting the links three times a week when you’re trying to start a business won’t gel. But, you could cut back to just once a week. Or, you could get a putting mat and practice your short game during a short break.

7. Other People’s Opinions

Asking for advice and feedback can come in handy. Both can be used to help you gain fresh perspectives and ideas. At the same time, don’t harp too much on what others think.

As Richard P. Feynman said, “You have no responsibility to live up to what other people think you ought to accomplish. I have no responsibility to be like they expect me to be. It’s their mistake, not my failing.”

8. Time-Wasters

Last weekend it was cool and rainy. Needless to say, I wasn’t getting much time outside. What’s more, I had a hectic week and just needed a day to veg.

I don’t do this frequently. Sometimes you just need a day to lay on the couch and watch Netflix. But, I also admit that this is a huge time-waster.

On a day-to-day basis, you should avoid these time thieves. In addition to television, other time-wasters would be getting sucked into social media feeds, unnecessary meetings, and bulky to-do-lists. Determine what wastes your time and avoid them as much as possible.

9. Pride

By all means, be proud of your accomplishments. After all, you’ve earned it. At the same time, don’t pride consume you.

You still need to hold yourself accountable when you slip-up. In my experience, failure is one of the best ways to learn and grow. And, more importantly, sometimes, that means doing things that are beneath you.

For example, you might have to pick up a side gig until your business takes off. Even then, there might be tedious takes that you dread. I’m talking about responding to emails, bookkeeping, or literally cleaning-up your workspace. You might be responsible for these tasks until you have the resources to delegate or outsource them.

Until then, you need to squeeze them into your packed schedule. One simple way to do this would be through batching. In this case, you would set aside a small block of time each day to clean out your inbox or declutter your work area.

10. Worrying About Being Productive 24/7

Wait. Isn’t this counterproductive? Absolutely not.

As opposed to obsessing about productivity, you should focus on being intentional. In other words, instead of maximizing every minute and working 80-hours a week, focus on the vital few. When you do, you’re dedicating your time and energy to what’s truly important instead of the unnecessary.

Determine Whether Working With a Friend is a Good Idea

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What to Do if Appointments Keep Running Long

There’s no way to sugarcoat this; starting a business is no easy task. You wear multiple hats; you’re continually building clients, don’t forget networking. If you’ve built many businesses, as an entrepreneur — you understand the very real possibility of failure. But how do you determine whether working with a friend is a good idea?

Indeed, it’s a wonder that anyone would ever contemplate starting their own business. But, as Jimmy Dungan said in A League of Their Own, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it weren’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”

There are plenty of entrepreneurs who have decided to make this journey just a little bit easier — by teaming up with someone else. For example, Bill Gates had Paul Allen, and Steve Jobs had Steve Wozniak. The reason? Each partner brings something different to the table — whether that be different skill sets, lessening the workload, or having additional access to funding.

Maybe you want someone to gripe to, or someone to run your ideas past and have a second set of eyes on a project.

But, instead of approaching a stranger or acquaintance, why not just go ahead and start a business with a friend? After all, it worked for Gates and Allen and Jobs and Wozniak. There have been many famous entrepreneurial teams. Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, and William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson — so why can’t it work for you and your friend?

Well, before you and your best friend get too far ahead of yourselves, you both should take a close look at the good and bad of working side-by-side with a friend.

Why You Should Start a Business With a Friend

You have a co-founder that you know and trust.

After spending years being acquainted with your friend, you know what their belief systems are, how they react to specific situations, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. You also know how to get under each other’s skin, so hopefully, you’ll avoid triggering those emotions while in the workplace.

More importantly, they are someone you trust entirely — and know that they would never intentionally do you any harm. What more do you want of a co-founder or colleague?

As Stephen Covey said, “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”

You can speak freely and comfortably.

When you have a trusting and honest friendship, you can pretty much say whatever’s on your mind freely and comfortably. Sure. There will be times when they’ll say something that you don’t want to hear — or that you don’t agree with — but you know what they’re saying is genuine and sincere.

As a result, you can keep each other in-check since you’re calling each other on your BS and ultimately do what’s best for the business.

Creates a positive work environment.

Having friends at work can be extremely beneficial. 70 percent of employees believe having office friends is the “most crucial” aspect of obtaining a fulfilling work life. What’s more, office friendships lead to higher engagement and productivity and a stronger connection to the company.

You have someone to bear your burdens.

Starting a business on your own, as already mentioned above, it no easy task. It can also be incredibly lonely.

But, when you have a friend by your side, you eliminate this loneliness. More important, you have someone to share your burdens with your — whether that be financial or completing tasks on-time. And, because they’re going through everything you are, you can vent to each, celebrate accomplishments, and even throw a couple of drinks back after a particularly challenging week.

You share the same vision.

Friends tend to think alike — that’s likely why you became friends in the first place. You and your friend being able to think alike is actually a great asset for your business.

You likely have the same goals, values, and vision for your business. Thinking alike can come in useful when you’re pitching an idea or your business to a client, prospective customer, or interested investors. If you know what your partner-in-crime is going to say next, then you can set them up seamlessly.

Decisions are easier to make.

As I just mentioned, friends tend to think alike and have a similar vision and belief system. That can make it easier to agree on business decisions — even if you have a different opinion personally.

Remember, spending too much time making a decision isn’t just time-consuming, it can also drain you mentally. You want to save that energy for more important decisions.

They accept your strengths and weaknesses.

Let’s say that public speaking isn’t your thing, but you’re one heck of a coder. But, your friend is charismatic and loves speaking. Instead of them asking you to pitch your business to an investor or at a conference, they would instead ask you to make a killer website to impress others. They also wouldn’t get upset or frustrated in areas that you’re weak — and vice versa.

Simply put, you accept each for you are. As a result, you can leverage each other’s strengths and improve on your weaknesses.

More friend time.

When you work with a friend, it sometimes doesn’t feel like work at all. You get to shoot the breeze, have fun, and create memories. As a result, going to work becomes more enjoyable and relieves stress.

Why You Should Not Work With a Friend

It can be hard to distinguish between work and play.

At the same time, chatting and hanging out all day isn’t always great for productivity. Instead of focusing on work, you’re busy talking about a movie you watched over the weekend. On the flip side, when you’re outside of the office, you may start talking shop instead of just enjoying each other’s company.

No matter how much you love your business, you both need to set boundaries and separate work from play.

Also, you may let workplace difference spill over into your personal lives. For example, if you and your friend are disagreeing on the direction of the business, and it becomes heated, that could make your social life a bit awkward.

Familiarity breeds contempt.

As friends, you probably know a lot about each other. But, knowing too much of others can erode respect.

For example, if you don’t agree with the lifestyle your friend is living, you may feel that they’re someone you shouldn’t work with. Even despite the fact they’ve shown up to work every day bringing their A-game.

Who’s the boss?

Even if you’ve agreed on established roles, it can still be tough to take orders from your friend — and they probably feel the same. As a result, there may be a power struggle.

You must compartmentalize relationship issues.

Friends fight. But, you can’t let those little personal squabbles interfere with the business. No matter how ticked you are at each other — you must remain professional and discuss any disagreements calmly and rationally.

In other words, you need to learn how to compartmentalize any relationship issues you have. Just because you’re at odds personally doesn’t mean that you’re currently at odds with your business partner.

Performance issues can be awkward to address.

When an employee isn’t delivering the results you expect, the conversation isn’t complicated. You have a conversation with them, determine what the problem is, and discuss the ways that they can be more productive.

That conversation isn’t so straightforward with your friend. You may be too empathetic, or they’ll take what you’re saying too personal. It may be an awkward conversation, but it’s necessary if you want your business to thrive.

Friendships don’t always translate to business compatibility.

Sure. You and your friend may share similar values and philosophies. But, you may have completely different approaches to completing various business tasks. That can lead to conflict and when trying to build your business model and company culture.

You know the same people.

Networking is critical when starting a business. But, how much networking can you do when you and your partner know the same people?

Networking may be a greater challenge, but knowing how to find and establish new connections may not be challenging.

A failed business can lead to a failed friendship.

If you fail in this business venture — it can be the absolute worst-case scenario.

Let’s say the business fails, and you blame each other for the failure. You didn’t just lose business; you also lost your friend.

If you’re still on the fence about working with a friend, here are some questions you should ask yourself. Determinations will become more apparent with questions.

  • Do you share the same business goals and values?
  • Do your work habits and schedules align?
  • Can you complement each other’s skills and talents?
  • What roles and responsibilities should each partner take-on?
  • How will you resolve conflicts?
  • Are your personal lives stable?
  • How long have you known each other?

Just make sure that you cover all of the topics to do with your business that you can think of. A first business venture is usually the one that friends get together in. You want the best from your first business venture. Take the time to set up all of the parameters so that you and your friend can remain great partners through thick and thin.

Major Hurdles for Startups of Productivity

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Your Appointment System Works for You. Does It Work for Your Clients?

It’s not easy launching a startup. What, with overcoming obstacles like finding your niche, getting your finances in order, and working with partners. Oh yeah. You also have to worry about building your brand, marketing, and recruiting and retaining top talent. That’s a lot for anyone to take on.

But, one area that tends to get overlooked is productivity, which often gets confused with efficiency.

“While efficiency means doing more with less, wrote JotForm Founder and CEO Aytekin Tank for Entrepreneur. Productivity, on the other hand, “is about doing more with the same” while still pursuing quality. “After all, who cares whether you cross four extra tasks off your to-do list, if those activities don’t move the needle for your business?” asks Tank. “An effective morning routine or work schedule should help you to do more of what really matters,” he adds. “That’s why I believe founders and CEOs should focus on productivity, not efficiency.”

Additionally, when you focus on productivity, you’ll be able to finish what you start, boost morale, and achieve your goals. Ultimately, that will make your startup a success.

With that in mind, here are 10 major hurdles for startups to overcome so that they’ll be more productive.

1. Inefficient time management.

Despite the fact that time is your most valuable resource, it’s still astounding that so many founders don’t use it effectively. There is a multitude of reasons why this is the case. But, I think it boils down to the fact that they’re wasting too much time on time-wasting activities. For example, couldn’t your delegate or outsource your bookkeeping responsibilities or use automation and machine learning for customer service inquires and scheduling?

Freeing up your schedule of less important tasks and the things that you don’t enjoy doing, allow you to spend more time on what you love and do best. Moreover, it gives you the chance to learn and attend to your health and well-being.

That’s a crash course in time management, I know. But, here are some other time management tips startup founders should try:

  • Find out when you’re most productive and schedule your important tasks then.
  • Chunk up your week by doing similar tasks on the same day.
  • Establish new habits and strategies like the Pomodoro Technique, Mind Mapping, and Completion Bias.
  • Monotasking instead of multitasking.
  • Identifying common distractions and finding ways to avoid them.

And, most importantly, keep it simple. Relying on too many complicated strategies or tools can be overwhelming and counterproductive. If all you need is your Google Calendar to keep you in-check, then you do you.

2. Productivity tools aren’t being used correctly.

You’re probably tired of hearing it. But, it’s true. There really is an app for that. And, that can be a wonderful thing if you want to improve communication, collaborationplanning, and task management.

But, at the same time, haven’t we become too reliant on productivity tools? Again, I have nothing against them. It’s just that we forgot that these tools are here to help us and not solve all of our problems.

Before building up an arsenal of productivity tools, filter your search to the ones that improve your skills or fill an organizational gap. Or, in other words, use the tools that will work best for you. For example, a lot of people rave about tools like Freedom that can block distractions. But, if you have enough willpower and don’t need assistance in this area, then why spend the time learning and using it?

3. Keeping up with demand is impossible.

“While this isn’t necessarily a bad problem to have, it can definitely cause problems for your business,” writes Chalmers Brown, CTO and Co-Founder of “Just as you would prepare for the worst, you should also prepare for the outcome you are working toward — growth.”

“In this case, if you can’t keep up with production due to lack of resources or manpower to service demand you may be in serious trouble,” he explains.

“Make sure you have a well-defined plan for growth,” suggests Chalmers. “If you’re just launching your business, make sure you set clear and reasonable expectations.” An example of this would be if you have a limited amount of your product. If so, “make sure your customers know there may be delays if supplies run out.”

Additionally, “you should pay attention to surges in demand, like during the holiday season,” adds Chalmers. “A surge in demand should never be your biggest issue.” And, if it is, it could create bottlenecks that prevent you from being as productive as you should be.

4. Lack of planning.

Someone much wiser then I once said, “if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.” As a founder, that probably means creating a business plan and taking into account things like sales, hiring, funding, scaling, and preparing for the unexpected.

However, it also involves planning. After all, as Angela Ruth perfectly put it, “productivity doesn’t happen. You need to make a plan.” And, here are a couple of ways to get you there.

  • Make the choice to be productive, not busy. At the minimum, prioritize your tasks, block out distractions, and be proactive instead of reactive.
  • Think 168 hours, not 24. Find out how you’re spending your time and eliminate time-wasting activities. You could also create theme days and set an intention for the week.
  • Harness the power of KPIs. Monitor your KPIs to make sure that you’re achieving your goals.
  • Fight off decision fatigue. Preserve your mental energy by spending less time on unimportant decisions. For instance, prep your lunch for the week so that you don’t have to make this decision every day.

5. Organizational culture is in disarray.

“So, you want a productive day, but it’s not possible because of your working environment, notes,” Dragan Sutevski, Founder and CEO of Sutevski Consulting. Since you have an open-door policy, people can come and go as they please. And, because you’ve made yourself so available, people will email or call you “for every possible problem.”

“These are only the fraction of possible distractions that will decrease your productivity level,” Dragen writes. “They are the results of the organizational culture that you have built in the past and is still active in your company.”

Unfortunately, this problem is this won’t just interfere with your productivity, “but also the productivity of your whole company.”

How can you change your organizational culture?” Dragen suggests your “spread responsibilities, and decision making among your team members and ensure that your culture will make all your team members accountable for their decisions and work they are doing.”

I’d also add that you should create a more positive work environment. You can do this in a variety of ways. But, you can use your values and priorities to guide you in the right direction. Most importantly, you should encourage everyone to speak up and remove any toxins from your organization to keep morale and collaboration healthy.

6. Lack of respect.

Whether you’re a startup, mom and pop operation, or Fortune 500 company, it’s imperative that you treat your team with respect. If not, you can expect poor morale, unfinished tasks, a lack of collaboration, and lots of wasted time.

How can you respect your employees? Well, Amanda Abella recommends focusing on the following areas:

  • Don’t be a jerk. “If you want your employees to stick around, treat them with dignity,” she writes. “This means you can’t have unrealistic expectations, you must compensate them fairly and you need to be flexible when emergencies come up.”
  • Prioritize health. Encourage your team to take time for self-care. You could also offer gym memberships, healthy snacks, flex schedules, and access to mental health resources.
  • Don’t waste people’s time. Don’t arrive late for meetings or keep attendees longer then the time allotted. Get back to them in a timely manner. And, don’t overload their work capacity or message them non-stop during off-hours.

Amanda also suggests that you respect yourself. “Keep an eye on the nasty tendency to be way too hard on yourself,” writes Amanda. “Take care of yourself and be a stellar example to the people who work for you.”

7. Autonomy isn’t being encouraged.

“The best way to encourage productivity and creativity in your team is for the managers (and founders!) to step back,” wrote SINC Founder Sam Dolbel. “Let your team manage their tasks freely and independently; you trusted them enough to join your start-up, so you should be able to give them a task and let them fly with it.”

Encouraging ownership drives motivation. And, “you’ll find that the more ownership someone is able to take of their role, the better job they will do at it.”

Of course, this is a tough pill for entrepreneurs to swallow. But, you can start small, like letting employees work remotely 2 days a week. You could also let them choose how they want to work and share their unique skills and talents. If you’ve clearly stated your expectations, then you shouldn’t have much to worry about.

8. No one is able to stay on track.

Tim Hyer, Founder of Getable, told Business News Daily that the biggest lesson he’s learned is the importance of focus. By nature, a startup is extremely resource-constrained,” he said. “The last thing it needs is to be spread even thinner than it already is.”

“When working on a brand new problem that no one has attempted to solve before, the possibilities are limitless — as are the distractions,” Hyer added.

Ty Morse, the CEO of Songwhale agrees. “The early years of a startup can be chaotic and desperate,” Morse wrote for Yahoo! Small Business. “Even a great idea needs capital to get off the ground.” As a result, you say “‘yes’ to anything and everything because you need clients; you need investment; you need to turn your idea into an actual business.”

“Too quickly you’ll take on too many things,” Morse adds. And, this “disrupts your focus.”

If you want to stay on track, Morse recommends:

  • Putting together a business model that works best for you.
  • Only sticking to one or two things that you excel at.
  • Firing your bad clients.

As for focusing on your daily activities, Deanna Ritchie in a previous Calendar article suggests that you:

  • Build your concentration like a muscle. “The ‘Pomodoro Method’ is a great technique to help you get started,” Denna writes. “Yes, it’s the same calendar and productivity hack where around 45 minutes straight and then take a 15-minute break.” But, since “you’re gradually building your focus muscles here, cut that time way back.”
  • Meditate. It’s a fast and effective way to keep you in the present and “bounce back from distractions and tame stress reactions.”
  • Optimize your environment. Maintain a clean and clutter-free workspace.
  • Stop multitasking. Seriously, it doesn’t work. Do one task at a time.
  • Manage your energy, not your time. Work during the hours when you have the most energy and concentration.

9. Success has a different definition for your employees.

If you’re no longer flying solo, then this is an important thing to remember when you want to empathize with or rally your team. Why? Because entrepreneurs and employees have different definitions of success.

Case in point, work-life balance.

For employees, balance an important factor that determines if they’ll join a stay with a company. But, it’s not for entrepreneurs since balance isn’t feasible. At the same time, founders also need breaks. So, you may want to focus on seasons instead. That means that if you’re on the verge of a product launch, you may put in 12 hour days. But, after the launch, you could disappear for a two-weeks if that’s your prerogative.

10. The workspace hasn’t been adapted to various needs.

Your workspace plays a huge role in how productive you and your team members are. If you aren’t comfortable and working from a filthy desk in a dimly lit room, do you honestly think you’ll be all that productive?

At the same time, we all have our personal preferences. Some people enjoy working in an office where they can hear background noise like typing and chatter. Others want absolute silence.

While you may not be able to accommodate everyone’s needs, you can allow them to decorate their workspaces however they want or listen to headphones. You could make certain areas of your office as silent as a library or permit people to work wherever they’re most productive.

Also, don’t forget to provide them with ergonomic furniture, a standing desk, and all the tools and resources needed to get their work done.

10 Time Management Tips for Building a Business as a Parent

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Juggling parenthood and entrepreneurship is probably one of the most challenging experiences you’ll ever go through. But it’s not impossible. You can be successful and be a good parent. Try the following ten time management tips, and you may be surprised at how easy these tips will help you to build a business as a parent.

1. Live by your calendar.

“If it doesn’t exist on my calendar, it’s not real,” said Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec. More valid words have never been spoken. But, what exactly should go into your calendar?

Well, my calendar only includes date-specific appointments, my most important tasks, and blocks of time reserved for networking, learning, or relaxing. But before all of that, I schedule all of my personal obligations first, such as vacations, school functions, or doctor’s appointments.

“Plan as much as you can a year in advance and stick to it,” added Herjavec. For him, that’s booking his calendar a year in advance. That meant sitting down with his children’s school counselor and his assistant and going through “each” school holiday and event they had off.

“Because of that, I never missed a swim meet. I never missed a school play. I never missed anything,” Herjavec said. “I’d fly from L.A. back to Toronto to be with my kids for one day. That’s the great thing about having your own business — the freedom to control your schedule and to do with it what you want.”

2. Tune into your personal rhythms.

“For an efficient workday, that truly respects our human nature, the first thing to focus on are ultradian cycles,” writes Leo Widrich at Buffer.

“The basic understanding is that our human minds can focus on any given task for 90-120 minutes,” he explains. “Afterwards, a 20-30 minute break is required for us to get the renewal to achieve high performance for our next task again.” So, instead of focusing on how much you can get done in an eight-hour day, focus on what you’ll accomplish in the next 90-minute session.

Ideally, you should try to sync your personal rhythms with your family’s schedule. A family schedule can get tricky, but it is possible. For example, I’m up at 5:15 a.m. daily because I’m a morning person. Plus, the house is quiet. However, I’ve timed it to take a break at around 7 a.m. as everyone else is waking up. I’ve already worked for about 90-minutes and ready for a break. But, once my family is out the door, I’m ready to jump back into work.

3. Budget your time like you would with money.

As an entrepreneur, I’m positive that you’ve created and are sticking to a budget. If not, I don’t think your business will survive, right?

You can use the same concept to improving your time management by knowing what to spend your time on. For most of us, that would be getting organized, creating a healthy routine, setting goals, learning, recharging, and spending time with our family.

Another advantage of creating a time budget is that it allows you to see where you’re wasting your valuable time. For example, are spending countless hours each week on tedious daily tasks like bookkeeping, writing, customer service, or administrative tasks? While all important, these responsibilities aren’t the best use of your time and should be delegated.

4. Admit that you can’t be in two places at once.

Even heroes like Superman and The Flash don’t have this power. And, neither do you. The sooner you admit that, the sooner you will be able to create a more realistic schedule.

Now, I’m not saying that this will be a walk in the park. You’re going to have to make sacrifices and get comfortable saying “no.” But, if you know what your priorities are and schedule them first, you’ll have less conflict and friction in your life. Begin to understand that people who pare-down their tasks to fewer tasks, will get more done.

5. Don’t work from home.

As I’m writing this, the world is pretty much on lockdown to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. So, this advice isn’t recommended right now. But, as Mark Daoust, founder of Quiet Light Brokerage and father five, explains in a previous Entrepreneur piece, there’s an excellent reason why you should consider this.

“As I tried to focus on my work, I could hear my wife shushing the kids and telling them, ‘Daddy has to work,” he wrote. “I won’t do that again: I would feel guilty listening to family life happening just outside my door and feel that I should be involved.”

“And as if that weren’t bad enough, my brain would refuse to tell me where the ‘off’ switch was,” Mark added. “The kids would be telling me what they’d learned that day, and I would be mentally working on the business problems that had just unfolded. In short, there’d be too much to handle.”

“Instead, I’ve found that I need an outside office with a short commute,” he continued. “That short commute home helps me to turn off my work brain and enter back into family mode.”

Between the usual suspects, like coworking spaces and coffee shops, there are plenty of other free affordable options to work from. Some entrepreneurs have set up shop in parks, libraries, bars, and hotel lobbies. People like Maya Angelou even rented hotel rooms when she wanted to write without being interrupted.

If you can’t leave your property for whatever reason, there are a couple of other options. For example, I have a friend who has a car garage that’s not attached to his house. He converted it into an office so that he’s still technically at home, but has a little more privacy. I’ve also come across people who have placed tiny houses and used them as their workspace.

6. Learn how to leave work at work.

In a perfect world, you could clock out from work at a specific time and not think about it until it’s time to clock back in. Unfortunately, that’s not how we entrepreneurs believe. We’re always “on” and thinking about our business.

That’s not always a bad thing. I’ve had some of my best ideas when out in the real world and away from the office. But, you also don’t want to let work bleed into your home life — primarily work-related stress.

Again, this isn’t always the easiest of tasks. But, I’ve made it a point to quit work and be home at a specific time each day. If I do have to stay late, my family has plenty of notice in advance. Before I leave, I review my calendar for tomorrow and organize my desk. I then transition from “work” mode to “home” mode by listening to a non-work related podcast.

And, as I’ve already mentioned, I also schedule my family first in my calendar. So, if a client wants to meet with me on a Friday night and my family already has plans, then that meeting has to be rescheduled.

7. Get your family involved.

Of course, you can’t hire your family as full-time employees. But, you could have your kids lend a hand when they get home from school or when they’re home because of an in-service day. Maybe you could delegate some of the tasks to your partner when the kids aren’t around.

Besides giving you more opportunities to spend time with your family, this also teaches your children values that will make them exceptional. These include everything from responsibility to teamwork to problem-solving.

I’ve followed Sherrie Campbell, a psychologist, on raising children. Campbell has straightforward, understandable advice. Here are the seven values Sherrie suggests we can use to teach children about life to be successful. We all need actionable, doable information where children are concerned.

8. Prioritize your well-being.

As a parent, to both children and your business, how can you possibly attend to your well-being? Well, believe it or not, there are some realistic ways to achieve this.

For starters, when taking that break during an energy drop, go outside and walk. Meditate, journal, or do office exercises for a couple of minutes. All are realistic and don’t’ involve you waking-up earlier or adjusting your schedule too much.

You can also fill your office with healthy and nutritious snacks instead of eating from a vending machine. Also, you should get into the habit of preparing your meals for the entire week so that you don’t have to eat out. As an additional bonus, you can do this with your kids and also prep their meals, so you don’t have to do this throughout the week.

As for sleep? That can be impossible if you have a newborn, or children in general. But, there’s nothing wrong with taking a catnip if you feel rundown.

9. Be reliable and follow through.

When you block out time for specific tasks, then that’s where 100% of your attention should be. On the flip side, when you’re spending time with your children, then that’s what you should be focusing on.

That may sound easier said than done. But, if you’ve planned ahead and have established boundaries, it’s entirely possible. As a result, you’ll earn the reputation of being a reliable business owner and parent without spreading yourself too thin.

10. Don’t set it and forget it.

Finally, you need to reflect and adjust your schedule accordingly. For example, your children’s school schedule may be different this year because they’re in a new school. They may have dropped soccer and are not focused on playing a musical instrument — which means an entirely different calendar.

On your end, an organization that was meaningful to you a couple of years ago may now be considered a burden. So, why keep wasting your time there?

Make sure that your calendar is up-to-date and reflects what your priorities are at the moment.

12 Tips for Motivating Your Remote Team

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Even before COVOID-19 forced more people to work from home, there was already a surge in working from home. In fact, from 2005 – 2017, there was a 159% increase in remote work. That figure would come out to roughly 3.4% of the population.

And while that’s all well and good, for both your productivity and health — it’s also challenging to motivate your team from a distance. The good news? There are ways, such as the following twelve tactics, for you to achieve this goal.

1. Check-in with them frequently.

“Human beings are social creatures by nature, which is inherently in conflict with remote work culture,” writes Ryan Bonnici in a previous Entrepreneur article. “And for every study that demonstrates the efficiency of remote work, there are medical and social scientists revealing the enormous consequences of social isolation,” he adds.

How can you help reduce this psychological toll on your team? Well, use technology to touch base with them often. Tools like Zoom, Highfive, Slack, and Microsoft Teams allow you to collaborate and stay connected with your remote team. There’s also Marco Polo. It’s an app that lets you send video messages to others that they can check when they have the availability.

2. Trust them.

Not everyone is cut out for remote work. But, those who prefer to work from afar do so because of the flexibility. So, go ahead and grant them that.

That doesn’t being completely hands-off. You still need to clearly define responsibilities, expectations, and deadlines, as well as checking in on them. But, beyond that, there’s no need to be micromanaging them. Get out of their way and let them do their thing. It’s a simple way to keep them engaged and motivated.

Another way to show your team that you trust them? By emphasizing what is produced instead of focusing on when and how much.

3. Implement a recognition program.

Creating a culture of recognition should always be a top priority for you. After all, it’s a surefire way to retain top talent, boost engagement, and encourage high performance. But, you already knew that. The problem is that you may not know how to implement this virtually.

Well, that shouldn’t be a concern if you use the following checklist from Justworks;

  • Identify the behaviors, which should be aligned with your values, that you want to reinforce.
  • Determine who is eligible for rewards and how often they’ll be given.
  • Have a structure in place to help you select candidates.
  • Select the type of award you want to give out.
  • Let your team know about the program through a group email or meeting.

4. Help them solve their time management problems.

It’s hard to maintain your motivation when time management is an issue. After all, when you struggle in this area, you aren’t producing your best work, more likely to miss deadlines, and unable to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

The solution? Help them with any of their time management problems by:

  • Stress the importance and benefits of time management to them.
  • Set goals together.
  • Focus on quality, not quantity.
  • Help them identify what’s causing their time management problems so that you can come up with solutions.
  • Reward their success through incentives or even just a handwritten thank you note.

5. Invest in their skills and development.

A key driver in retaining and motivating your team is helping them improve or learn new skills. In a perfect world, you could do this through mentorship or providing in-house training opportunities. Since this isn’t possible, you’ll have to do this via online learning platforms like Udemy, Skillshare, or LinkedIn Learning.

6. Create a virtual water-cooler.

Water-cooler chats often get a bad rap. But, they’re beneficial. Studies have found that these personal interactions make work more enjoyable and meaningful. They also foster a healthy and collaborative work environment. And, these informal conversations can boost productivity, spark creativity, and help people practice their conversational skills.

Of course, when you have a team working from all over the world, these water-cooler talks aren’t possible. But, you can create a virtual water-cooler by;

  • Always be friendly in how you communicate with others. It also wouldn’t hurt to convey your emotions through animated gifs and emojis.
  • Create events like video presentations and webcam hangouts. You could also encourage your team to play online games against each other or start a book club.

7. Create a visual scoreboard.

“Even if your team regularly communicates and has a culture of accountability, they still need a way to capture shared goals,” writes the folks over at 6Q. “Creating a visual that represents progress not only motivates employees with a competitive streak but also clarifies key performance indicators and priorities for the entire team.”

A straightforward way to do this would be to create “a spreadsheet that tracks progress over time or produce a PDF of fancy graphs that represent quarterly goals, choose a consistent method easy to digest for your entire team.” You could also schedule “weekly or monthly meetings to update the scoreboard and periodically realign to be sure the data you measure reflects your business’s initiatives.”

8. Take an interest in your team’s workspace.

You don’t want to overstep your bounds here. But, this shows that you genuinely care about your remote workers and want them to succeed. That’s why Automattic, creator of WordPress, gives its employees state-of-the-art technology and $2,000 to build a home office. At Calendar, we’ve shipped out Autonomous SmartDesks to team members, as well as voice assistants, to help our team members upgrade their home offices.

9. Take the good with the bad.

Research by the psychologist, Roy Baumeister, shows that “people are more strongly impacted by bad events, such as negative feedback,” writes Nell Thayer Heisner. “To avoid letting setbacks hinder the success of a project, managers must address them outright and be sure to counteract critique with positive reinforcement of good thinking and contributions of workers who may have gotten off course.”

“When keeping this in mind, workers will continue to move forward rather than looking behind at past mistakes,” adds Nell. In turn, the entire team will “make progress and effectively collaborate to advance toward the goal.”

10. Always pay them on time.

Besides the legal obligations, this is one of the easiest ways to show your team that you appreciate everything that they do. Sure. There are other ways that you can do this, like writing them handwritten notes or surprising them with gifts. But they need that money to survive. So, if you can’t provide that for them, then they’ll undoubtedly go to someone else who can.

11. Get to know them.

Although this may not seem possible at first, it’s pretty easy—issue surveys and polls. Schedule telephone one-on-ones and solicit their feedback. And, if possible, try to meet with them in-person occasionally — especially when they work for you many years.

Remember, face-to-face meetings are 34 times more successful. If this isn’t an option, at least give video conferencing a try.

Another option? Have your team take a personality test. That may sound a bit much. But, it can help you determine what your team member’s strengths and weaknesses are, communication preferences, and how they make decisions.

12. Cut out the unnecessary.

While you should get to know your team members, there is such a thing as too much communication with them. As such, make it a point to only schedule meetings and phone calls when necessary. If they are, then make sure that they’re short and concise.

The same is true with emails, texts, and Slack. Contacting them too much doesn’t just distract them. It may also be a sign that you’re a micromanager or don’t respect their valuable time.

How to Leave Work at Work

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50 Top Productivity Quotes For Work and Life

As an entrepreneur, I’m always thinking about my business. Sometimes it’s just reflecting on what I’ve accomplished or the areas that need improvement. Usually, that’s not a problem. What is a dilemma, though, is allowing these thoughts to interfere with my personal life. One example would be — bringing stress home with me or not being 100 percent present with my downtime.

If you’re in the same situation, you’ve probably been told just simply to set boundaries. Setting boundaries sounds excellent on paper. But, in reality, that’s not always possible. The good news is that are effective ways to leave work at work.

Plan your ideal week.

Yankees legend Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.” For me, that means planning in advance, like mapping out your week. The reason? It’s a simple way to prevent work and life from always being at odds with each other. More importantly, it provides structure so that you can establish boundaries while also remaining productive.

While everyone has their own way of planing out their ideal week, here are some pointers to steer in you in the right direction:

  • Get a head start. Use either Friday afternoons or the weekend to list your priorities and add them to your calendar.
  • Sketch out your ideal week by using time blocks. Take into consideration date-specific events and tasks, and know when you’re most productive.
  • Create theme days based on your energy. For example, if you have the most energy and focus on Tuesday, that’s when you should schedule deep work.
  • Establish fulfilling routines. These are the activities that help you relax and make you happy, such as meditating or family game night.
  • Limit your plans. Stop overcommitting yourself by focusing on your top five high-objectives for the week.
  • Be ruthless. Delegate or drop anything from your to-do-list that isn’t a priority. Get comfortable saying, “no.” And, learn how to block out distractions.

Have a ritual to transition from work to home.

To me, this is all about changing your mindset from “work” mode to “home” mode. It’s like if you’ve ever played a sport. You’re just not going to show-up without warming up or listening to music that gets you psyched. On the flip side, when you’re done, you need to cool down and get back to homeostasis.

You can do this on your commute home by listening to a podcast that interests you but isn’t work-related. Call a friend or family member — studies have found that this energizes you more than coffee. Think about what you’re grateful for. Or, do a crossword puzzle.

Some people also immediately change out of their work clothes into something more comfortable as soon as they get home. Others go to the gym after work. Just try a couple of daily rituals out and see what works best for you.

Go on a tech detox — without stressing yourself out.

Technology is a blessing and a curse. It allows us to work whenever, wherever, and keep our fingers on the pulse of our business at all times. However, that also means we’re expected to work more hours.

In fact, according to a RescueTime study, people work an hour or more outside regular hours on 89 days of the year. But that’s not really the issue. It’s the anticipatory stress of receiving work-related messages off-hours.

Researchers from Lehigh University, Virginia Tech, and Colorado State University found that we feel more stressed and exhausted from expecting emails after hours than actually responding to them.

“It’s not only that employees are spending a certain amount of extra time answering emails, but it’s that they feel they have to be ready to respond, and they don’t know what the request will be,” said Samantha Conroy, one of the study’s authors. “So if they’re having dinner with their family, and hear that ‘ding,’ they feel they have to turn their attention away from their family and answer the email.”

What’s the solution here? Well, you can realistically go on a tech detox by:

  • Adding breaks and designated tech-free times. For instance, not responding to emails when having dinner — you can check your messages after.
  • Blocking apps at certain times, like when you’re meditating after work.
  • Assigning tech-zones in your home.
  • Allowing yourself to get comfortable with boredom. If you’re standing in line at the grocery on a Sunday, don’t look at your phone.
  • Consider removing social media apps from your phone. Some people also uninstall communication tools like Slack from their personal devices.
  • Spending your downtime in places where electronic frowned upon.
  • Stop relying on technology as much. Instead of using your phone for your alarm, invest in an old-school alarm clock.

Have mental clarity.

Mental clarity, according to Elizabeth Grace Saunders in HBR, is knowing “what needs to get done, and when you will complete it.” The most prominent example would dedicate “a place where you write down the many tasks that you need to do.” It doesn’t matter if it’s “in a notebook, a task management app, a project management system, or in your calendar.” The idea here so “that you’re not lying in bed at night trying to remember everything on your mental to-do list.”

After you’ve created this list, you’ll need to “plan out your work.” Ideally, this would be scheduling time in your calendar for your priorities. Sounds obvious. But, “this planning reduces the anxiety that something will fall through the cracks or that you’ll miss a deadline,” writes Elizabeth.

“The final part of increasing your mental clarity is to have an end-of-workday wrap-up.” At the minimum, this includes reviewing “your daily to-do list and calendar to make sure that everything that absolutely must get done.” It also wouldn’t hurt to “do a quick scan of your email to ensure any urgent messages are attended to before you leave the office.”

When you decide to check your emails and messages is up to your discretion. Some people do the last check of the night right before they leave work, like within the final 30-minutes of the day. Others prefer to do this activity during the last hour or two.

Prioritize your social life.

I get it. Some days you come home, and you just want to veg out — or get back to work. But, neither are always the answer if you want to leave work at work. The answer? Socializing.

A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that those who are more socially active are better able to recover from work strain and can sleep better at night.

To make socializing a priority, schedule social activities to your calendar. At the same time, you don’t want to overdo it. Sometimes you leave blank spaces in your schedule to allow for flexibility — like if you run unexpectedly into a friend.

Don’t hard crash your workday.

“Just as it’s never a good idea to hard crash your computer, you shouldn’t hard crash your day,” Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, Ph.D., organizational psychologist and author of The YOU Plan, told Forbes. “Closing out your day in an orderly and positive way is critical to making that clean psychological transition into the personal side of life.”

“Nobody likes that feeling of unfinished business hanging over their head while playing with the kids or dining with the family,” Woodward added. “So it’s important that you do what you can to make as clean a break as possible when walking out the office door.”

How should you wrap-up your workday? Well, here are some suggestions:

  • Evaluate your to-do-lists and review tomorrow’s schedule.
  • Check-in with your team to double-check deadlines and make sure everyone’s on the same page.
  • Tidy up and organize your workspace.
  • Tidy-up any loose ends like responding to an email.
  • Reflect on what you’ve accomplished.
  • Turn off your lights and equipment.
  • Commit to leaving stress behind at work.

Find ways to decompress.

Hopefully, if you’ve implemented a fulfilling routine, then you’re already finding healthy ways to relieve stress. Healthy examples of this are — meditating, exercising, and hanging out with friends and family. Other options are picking-up a hobby, learning something new, or engaging in a little self-care. You may even want to vent to someone who you trust — just don’t harp on what’s bothering you.

But, what if these examples are not enough to help you continue at your break-neck speeds? Well, establish a calm and therapeutic evening routine.

Jeffrey Brantley, M.D., and Wendy Millstine, NC., authors or Five Good Minutes in the Evening: 100 Mindful Practices to Help You Unwind from the Day & Make the Most of Your Night, also suggest:

  • Release nagging thoughts. If a work-related thought pops in your head, acknowledge it and name what you’re feeling. You can then tell this thought, “I hear you, but not now,” or “I release you.”
  • Unraveling like a thread. Use visualization to help you decompress, such as unwinding your thoughts like a spool of thread.
  • Surround yourself with humor. Watch a YouTube video, TV show, or movie that makes you laugh. Ask Google or Alexa to tell you a joke. Or, call someone who already makes you laugh.
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