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Archive for month: August, 2015

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Empower Yourself in7 easy Steps

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“I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.” – Anne Frank

Would you like to stop all the misery in your life? Would you like to stop annoyance in your life? Would you like to overcome the feeling of boredom? Would you like to enjoy every day as it comes? Would you like to live a happyhealthy, and wealthy life?

Most of us answer these questions with YES. But many of us too would find reasons why it can’t be that way. Are you one of them saying: “Yes, but … .”?

Sure there are many reasons for us not being happy, healthy, or wealthy. And certainly there are many reasons why we can’t become happy, healthy or wealthy neither. But the questions above don’t ask about the reasons that hold us back.

As long as we find somebody or something to blame for the circumstances in our lives, we have given away some of our personal power. Often we do that because we find value in these circumstances. These values could be as simple as having something to talk about. So these questions really help us to find out how ready we are to take the steps necessary to empower ourselves.

Once we are ready to say YES without any restrictions to the questions above, we too have the courage to take the first step. Here is my complete list of the 7 easy to follow steps towards self-empowerment:

1. Say YES to self-empowerment! Whatever you like to change, it starts with a yes. Take full responsibility for your decisions, actions, and outcomes. Be clear about your desire and what it takes to follow through before you even decide!

2. What are you proud of? Think about all your experiences in life. What did you learn from them? Make a list with all the learnings, achievements and successes you have had until now and add to it whenever you remember more. Journaling daily your successes and miracles are a good way to keep you into the state of being proud of yourself. Even something as little as a smile you gave to someone on the street counts.

3. What are you good at? Make a list of one hundred things that you are good at. It might take a while to have it complete. So I suggest you have the list in your wallet, diary, or close to your bed, so you can add whenever you realise another thing you are brilliant at. Do you find more than hundred things? Great keep adding!

4. What do you like about yourself? Often we are going on and on about all the thing we don’t like about ourselves. To build up on your self-esteem make a list of fifty things you like about yourself. This list too might take a while to be completed. And keep adding. There aren’t limitations at all.

5. Look for the positive aspects! In looking for positive aspects everywhere and in everybody  we focus on what is available instead of the things we miss. The more we acknowledge the good aspects in people, situations, and circumstances the more we nourish our own positive attributes.

6. Respect other people and their perspectives! Each person has their own experiences, achievements, qualities, values, and preferences. To be respectful of other people, to show interest in them and to listen attentively will certainly help you to stay in control of your own personal power. Keep your focus on what you may have to learn from the people in your life.

7. Be true to yourself! Even if you follow all the other six steps to be truly empowered you must be true to yourself. This means to listen to your inner voice and your body signals, to become aware of your passion and fears, and to have the courage to stand up for yourself. Self-empowerment means to be in power of your true self.

Personal power is all about accepting ourselves completely with all aspects of our own personality. The steps are easy to follow but they too might hold a lot of challenges. These challenges help us to overcome obstacles in our lives and even though they seem huge right now soon they will be another point on our list of achievements.

To say YES to a happy, healthy, and wealthy life is really taking the steps towards self-empowerment.

 

Source; Sandyseeber

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5 Ways to Start a Business With Little or No Money

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Bank loans and venture capital aren’t the only ways to get a new business up and running. Countless entrepreneurs have started successful businesses without borrowing a dime. Known as bootstrapping or starting a business without outside capital, small business owners who’ve gone this route have had to rely on their resourcefulness, drive and creativity instead of cash to build successful enterprises.

“Being undercapitalized was a great thing for Barefoot,” says Michael Houlihan, co-founder of Barefoot Cellars and co-author of the upcoming book The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built a Bestselling Wine. “It forced us to think creatively and to be resourceful every step of the way.”

According to Houlihan, instead of having the luxury of throwing cash at every problem that surfaced, Barefoot Cellars had to create processes and procedures that stood up on their own merits.  As a result the company learned in the early days how to operate lean and to survive on a shoestring budget.

For Heather Whaling, founder and CEO of Geben Communication — which she started in December of 2009 and was completely self-funded — one of the key takeaways from bootstrapping her PR firm was incorporating a pay as you go mentality that is still in effect three years later (even though the business has grown more than 150% and she has six months of operating expenses in the bank).

“If we want to do something we make sure we have the funds available to do it,” says Whaling.

While getting a loan or raising capital may seem the easier way to bankroll your new business, here are some tried and tested ways to grow a start-up with little cash.

No. 1: Start in the garage

Bill Gates isn’t the only one who can be successful starting a business in his garage. According to experts, a great way to save money is to run your business in a location that won’t require you to pay extra rent — whether it’s your garage, bedroom, basement or attic.

“Barefoot’s first office was a laundry room,” says Houlihan. “It wasn’t glamorous. But it held our files and a desk and most importantly, it allowed us to get the job done without spending any extra money.”

No. 2: Get paid upfront

Whether you are manufacturing a product or providing a service, the sooner you can get paid the quicker you can grow your business, which is why experts say it’s a good idea to try and get paid, even partially, up front. Whaling, who typically gets paid on a retainer basis, has clients make a down payment when they sign on. Not only does it mean money is coming in from the get-go, but it bolsters her relationship with her clients.

“The new client feels they have skin in the game if they paid,” says Whaling.

If you’re selling a product, Houlihan says a win-win strategy is to offer retailers a discount if they pay cash for the product or buy a large quantity. By doing that you can be ahead of your bills and the retailer wins because it is saving money.

No. 3: Barter for what you need

Bartering hasn’t gone the way of the dinosaurs, in fact it is alive and thriving and is a great way to get the goods and services you need without spending a dime.

“Find other start-ups that have what you need and need what you have,” says Houlihan. “A good place to start might be any suppliers that are also start-ups. They are cash-strapped like you and probably need to spend money they don’t have.” You can also use a barter company that specializes in handling business trades.

No. 4: Commit to keeping costs low

In order to build a business with little cash you need to first commit to keeping costs as low as possible. Once you make a conscious decision to do that, it’s easier to implement strategies to make that work. For Whaling it meant working out of her home for the first couple of years, outsourcing functions and using freelancers.

Barefoot Cellars also embraced outsourcing as a way to save money in the early days. According to Houlihan, he and his co-founder outsourced wine production, bottling and the logo that went on the bottles.

“If we’d had to pay for all of that space, equipment, and manpower up-front, we would never have gotten Barefoot off the ground,” he says.

No. 5: Get free advertising through non-profits

Let’s face it, you are going to have to advertise or market in order to build awareness and thus sales. But for many start-ups the funds simply aren’t there. To get around the costs of advertising, Houlihan says to partner with non-profits that you care about. Sure you’ll be giving your product or service away for free, but you’ll also reach potential customers that share the same beliefs and concerns that you do.

Houlihan says the best approach is to reach out to small, local non-profits and charities.

“We sought out organizations that believed in causes close to our own hearts,” says Houlihan. “We gained access to huge numbers of potential customers and gave them a ‘social reason’ to buy Barefoot wine.”

 

SOURCE; FOX Business.Com

 

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Coping With Stress At Work

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Everyone who has ever held a job has, at some point, felt the pressure of work-related stress. Any job can have stressful elements, even if you love what you do. In the short-term, you may experience pressure to meet a deadline or to fulfill a challenging obligation. But when work stress becomes chronic, it can be overwhelming — and harmful to both physical and emotional health.

Unfortunately such long-term stress is all too common. In 2012, 65 percent of Americans cited work as a top source of stress, according to the American Psychological Association’s (APA) annual Stress in America Survey. Only 37 percent of Americans surveyed said they were doing an excellent or very good job managing stress.

A 2013 survey by APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence also found that job-related stress is a serious issue. More than one-third of working Americans reported experiencing chronic work stress and just 36 percent said their organizations provide sufficient resources to help them manage that stress.

You can’t always avoid the tensions that occur on the job. Yet you can take steps to manage work-related stress.

Common Sources of Work Stress

Certain factors tend to go hand-in-hand with work-related stress. Some common workplace stressors are:

  • Low salaries.
  • Excessive workloads.
  • Few opportunities for growth or advancement.
  • Work that isn’t engaging or challenging.
  • Lack of social support.
  • Not having enough control over job-related decisions.
  • Conflicting demands or unclear performance expectations.

Effects of Uncontrolled Stress

Unfortunately, work-related stress doesn’t just disappear when you head home for the day. When stress persists, it can take a toll on your health and well-being.

In the short term, a stressful work environment can contribute to problems such as headache, stomachache, sleep disturbances, short temper and difficulty concentrating. Chronic stress can result in anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system. It can also contribute to health conditions such as depression, obesity and heart disease. Compounding the problem, people who experience excessive stress often deal with it in unhealthy ways such as overeating, eating unhealthy foods, smoking cigarettes or abusing drugs and alcohol.

Taking Steps to Manage Stress

  • Track your stressors. Keep a journal for a week or two to identify which situations create the most stress and how you respond to them. Record your thoughts, feelings and information about the environment, including the people and circumstances involved, the physical setting and how you reacted. Did you raise your voice? Get a snack from the vending machine? Go for a walk? Taking notes can help you find patterns among your stressors and your reactions to them.
  • Develop healthy responses. Instead of attempting to fight stress with fast food or alcohol, do your best to make healthy choices when you feel the tension rise. Exercise is a great stress-buster. Yoga can be an excellent choice, but any form of physical activity is beneficial. Also make time for hobbies and favorite activities. Whether it’s reading a novel, going to concerts or playing games with your family, make sure to set aside time for the things that bring you pleasure. Getting enough good-quality sleep is also important for effective stress management. Build healthy sleep habits by limiting your caffeine intake late in the day and minimizing stimulating activities, such as computer and television use, at night.
  • Establish boundaries. In today’s digital world, it’s easy to feel pressure to be available 24 hours a day. Establish some work-life boundaries for yourself. That might mean making a rule not to check email from home in the evening, or not answering the phone during dinner. Although people have different preferences when it comes to how much they blend their work and home life, creating some clear boundaries between these realms can reduce the potential for work-life conflict and the stress that goes with it.
  • Take time to recharge. To avoid the negative effects of chronic stress and burnout, we need time to replenish and return to our pre-stress level of functioning. This recovery process requires “switching off” from work by having periods of time when you are neither engaging in work-related activities, nor thinking about work. That’s why it’s critical that you disconnect from time to time, in a way that fits your needs and preferences. Don’t let your vacation days go to waste. When possible, take time off to relax and unwind, so you come back to work feeling reinvigorated and ready to perform at your best. When you’re not able to take time off, get a quick boost by turning off your smartphone and focusing your attention on non-work activities for a while.
  • Learn how to relax. Techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises and mindfulness (a state in which you actively observe present experiences and thoughts without judging them) can help melt away stress. Start by taking a few minutes each day to focus on a simple activity like breathing, walking or enjoying a meal. The skill of being able to focus purposefully on a single activity without distraction will get stronger with practice and you’ll find that you can apply it to many different aspects of your life.
  • Talk to your supervisor. Healthy employees are typically more productive, so your boss has an incentive to create a work environment that promotes employee well-being. Start by having an open conversation with your supervisor. The purpose of this isn’t to lay out a list of complaints, but rather to come up with an effective plan for managing the stressors you’ve identified, so you can perform at your best on the job. While some parts of the plan may be designed to help you improve your skills in areas such as time management, other elements might include identifying employer-sponsored wellness resources you can tap into, clarifying what’s expected of you, getting necessary resources or support from colleagues, enriching your job to include more challenging or meaningful tasks, or making changes to your physical workspace to make it more comfortable and reduce strain.
  • Get some support. Accepting help from trusted friends and family members can improve your ability to manage stress. Your employer may also have stress management resources available through an employee assistance program (EAP), including online information, available counseling and referral to mental health professionals, if needed. If you continue to feel overwhelmed by work stress, you may want to talk to a psychologist, who can help you better manage stress and change unhealthy behavior.

 

Source; American Psychological Association

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Look Closely at These 4 M's Before Investing in a Startup

Recently, I was asked to judge a startup competition.  As I was filling in the evaluation questionnaire, I noticed that the questions being asked revolving around four topics all starting with the letter M: market, model, management and momentum. That is an elegant way for all of us to think about evaluating startups.

1. Market.

The market assessment comes down to a look at the startup’s industry and competition.  From an industry perspective, the larger the industry and the faster it is growing, the better. Investors would rather invest in $100BN markets than $100MM markets, to build as large a business as possible.  A business selling travel to passengers around the world will garner more interest than a business selling whitewater rafting trips in Colorado.

From a competitive standpoint, the less competition the better, especially if that competition is already well-funded and pointing their fresh venture-capital marketing bullets in our direction. First movers or early movers are preferred, as opposed to the tenth startup entering a crowded space. Look for white space opportunities where you can stand out and shine amongst the crowd.

2. Model.

The model assessment comes down to two things: the overall business model and the unit economic model. In terms of the business model, how does the company plan to make money? Is it ecommerce selling online merchandise? Or, advertising sales in a content publishing model?  And, most importantly, how large can the revenues get in the next five years, and what does that mean to the ROI on my investment?

The unit economics comes down to two things: the lifetime value of a customer’s revenues compared to the cost of acquiring that customer in the first place. If you are Starbucks, and your average ticket is $10 per transaction, and a customer buys one cup of coffee a week, that is a year-one revenue potential of $520. If we lose customers at a rate of 20 percent a year, over five years that is a lifetime value of $1,560 in revenues.

As a rule of thumb, I prefer not to spend more than 10 percent of my lifetime revenues on an initial cost of acquisition. If the initial marketing cost per customer is under $156, the startup is going to be in in pretty good shape for attracting capital.

3. Management.

The management assessment has several variables. How experienced are the founders in this industry? How experienced are they in building startups? How experienced are they as working as a team together? How credible are they? What is their personality fit with the investors, given the amount of time they are going to be spending together?

4. Momentum.

If I had to pick one thing investors gravitate towards more than anything it is the speed of customer adoption. If customers and revenues are scaling quickly, that is a pretty solid proof of concept that instills confidence and excites an investor to write a check.  Frankly, if you had all of the other three M’s, and this one was missing, it would be very challenging for you to raise capital.  As I have said in the past, focus less on the product and focus more on the proof of concept marketing around that product, and you will be in great shape.

So, whether you are a startup seeking capital, or an angel investor looking to invest capital into a startup, make sure all four M’s of evaluating potential startup success have been checked.

 

Source; Entrepreneur.Com

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5 Minutes Early Is On Time; On Time Is Late; Late Is Unacceptable

I have a magic pill to sell you. It will help you make more money, be happier, look thinner, and have better relationships. It’s a revolutionary new pharmaceutical product called Late-No-More. Just one dose every day will allow you to show up on time, greatly enhancing your life and the lives of those around you.

All joking aside, being late is unacceptable. While that sounds harsh, it’s the truth and something that should be said more often. I don’t care if you’re attending a dinner party, a conference call, or a coffee meeting – your punctuality says a lot about you.

Being late bothers me so much that just thinking about it makes me queasy. My being late, which does occasionally happen, usually causes me to break out into a nervous sweat. The later I am, the more it looks like I’ve sprung a leak. Catch me more than 15 minutes late and it looks like I went swimming.

On this issue, I find myself a member of a tiny minority. It seems like most people consider a meeting time or deadline to be merely a mild advisory of something that might happen. I’ve been called uptight and unreasonable, or variations prefaced with expletives. In a world that feels perpetually late, raising the issue of punctuality isn’t a way to win popularity contests and I’m ok with that.

There’s a reason we set meeting times and deadlines. It allows for a coordination of efforts, minimizes time/effort waste, and helps set expectations. Think of how much would get done if everyone just “chilled out” and “went with the flow?” It would be the definition of inefficiency. It’s probably not that hard to imagine, considering just last week I had 13 (yes, I counted) different people blow meeting times, or miss deadlines. It feels like a raging epidemic, seemingly smoothed over by a barrage of “my bads,” “sorry, mans,” and “you know how it goes.” The desired response is “it’s all good,” but the reality is that it’s not okay. Here’s what it is.

  • Disrespectful: Being on time is about respect. It signals that you value and appreciate the other person. If you don’t respect the meeting’s participants, why are you meeting with them in the first place?
  • Inconsiderate: Unintentionally being late demonstrates an overall lack of consideration for the lives of others. You just don’t care.
  • Big-Timing: Intentionally being late is about power. It’s showing the other person, or people that you’re a “big deal” and have the upper-hand in the relationship. It’s also called being a dick.
  • Incredible: No, not in the good way. When you miss meeting times or deadlines, your credibility takes the trajectory of a lead balloon. If you can’t be counted on to be on time, how could you possibly have credibility around far tougher tasks?
  • Unprofitable: Let’s consider a scenario where five people are holding a meeting at 2 p.m. Your sauntering in ten minutes late just wasted 40 minutes of other peoples’ time. Let’s say the organization bills $200/hour. Are you paying the $133 bill? Someone certainly is.
  • Disorganized: If you can’t keep your calendar, what other parts of your life are teetering on the edge of complete disaster? Being late signals at best that you’re barely hanging on and probably not someone I want to associate with.
  • Overly-Busy: Everyone likes to equate busyness with importance, but the truly successful know that’s BS. Having a perpetually hectic schedule just signals that you can’t prioritize, or say “no,” neither of which is an endearing trait.
  • Flaky: Apparently some people just “flake out,” which seems to mean that they arbitrarily decided not to do the thing they committed to at the very last minute. Seriously? That’s ridiculous.
  • Megalomaniacal: While most grow out of this by the age of eight, some genuinely believe they are the center of the universe. It’s not attractive. Note, this is also called Donald Trump Syndrome. Do you want to be compared to Donald Trump?
  • As I said earlier, I’m occasionally late. Sometimes a true emergency happens, or an outlier event transpires. When it happens, I try to give a very detailed account of why I was late, apologize profusely, make sure the other person knows that I take it very seriously, and assure them it won’t happen again.

    Paying attention to punctuality is not about being “judgy,” or stressed. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It makes room for the caring, considerate, thoughtful people I want in my life, whether that’s friends or colleagues. Think of how relaxing your life would be if everyone just did what they said they’d do, when they said they’d do it? A good place to start is with yourself and a great motto is something I was taught as a child:

    “5 minutes early is on time. On time is late. Late is unacceptable.” 

    Source ; Forbes.Com

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