TIME Careers & Workplace

These 10 Books Can Teach You the Basics of Business

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Question: What is one great book to read on the basics of running a business?

How to Win Friends and Influence People

“I highly recommend reading How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. This book has helped me become a better communicator, which makes me a better manager, public speaker, husband and friend.” — Jacques Bastien, Boogie

The Art of the Start

The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki provides practical tips on how to take a business from an idea to a reality. It provides sample pitch decks and other valuable materials that every CEO can learn from.” — Lisa Curtis, Kuli Kuli

Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business

“I just was recently given Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman and immediately started reading it. It’s great! It talks about the “secrets” of strengthening the six key components of your business. You’ll discover simple yet powerful ways to run your company, which will give you and your leadership team more focus, growth and enjoyment.” — Josh Ames, SparkReaction

High Output Management

High Output Management by Andrew Grove is an amazing book which I found very useful for improving my productivity and that of my team. Especially for first-time entrepreneurs, this small, concise book covers all the basics of management. It’s highly recommended!”

Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You

“I highly recommend reading Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You by John Warrillow. It is a quick read and will give you a great understanding of the steps that you need to take to build a sellable business. The author breaks down the process into simple and easy-to-process steps.” — Courtney Spritzer, SOCIALFLY

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh was the best book I read when starting my company wasn’t specifically about running a business but more on the importance of why and how we run our company. The book talks about the importance of company culture and customer service. I ask for everyone we hire to read this book and remember WHY we are running our business and the importance of helping our customers.” — Aimee Kandrac, WhatFriendsDo

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

“Too often we’re encouraged to run businesses based on incremental improvements over the competition. In Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future, Blake Masters and Peter Thiel scold that notion and urge the reader to think bigger and shoot for the stars. Too many brilliant minds are trying to figure out how to make their social feed more relevant when they could be working on breakthrough tech. That’s a reminder we could all use!” — Alex Linebrink, Passage

The Power of Habit

“I have made The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg part of my onboarding kit for my entire team. It is shows that greatness is achievable simply through consistency and tenacity. Smarts and skill are not enough; you’ve got to be willing to do the work and be adaptable. ” — Ashley Swartz, Furious corp

The Small Business Lifecycle: The No-Fluff Guide to Navigating the Five Stages of Small Business Growth

“Growing your business isn’t just about doing the right things — it’s about doing the right things at the right time. In The Small Business Lifecycle: The No-Fluff Guide to Navigating the Five Stages of Small Business Growth, Charlie Gilkey talks about how to understand where you are currently in the business lifecycle and how to take action to propel your business forward.” — Jules Taggart, Jules Taggart Marketing Strategy

The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan poses a simple question: what’s the ONE thing you can do so that everything else becomes easier or unnecessary? It helps clarify your business and focus things down to the biggest change agents, and it encourages you to keep your eye on the top priorities. I read it on my Kindle and loved it so much that I bought the hardcover version to reference again and again.” — Rachel Hofstetter, Guesterly // PR School

BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.

This article originally appeared on BusinessCollective

TIME Careers & Workplace

13 Tips for Keeping Personal and Professional Life Separate

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Start and stop on time

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Question: What is one tip you have for keeping your personal and professional life separate?

Don’t Use Your Facebook Profile for Work

“Use a Facebook page to promote your business, and keep your Facebook profile for actual friends and family only. Many people make the mistake of blurring the line and they’re left with the worst of both worlds: They can’t promote on Facebook because they’ll annoy their friends, and they can’t be too personal for fear of coming across as unprofessional with prospects. Separate the two.” — Laura Roeder, MeetEdgar.com

Schedule Your Life, Too

“Reserve personal time in your schedule for activities that allow you to recharge and that add value, such as daily exercise, a weekly date or social night, family activities and vacation. You will not only have something to look forward to, but by reserving personal time you will have extra motivation to manage your time well so you do not have to cancel on others — or yourself!” — Doug Bend, Bend Law Group, PC

Start and Stop on Time

“I used to let my business drive all over my personal life because I didn’t have any set boundaries. Plans with my girlfriend, family and friends would often get delayed or cancelled because I was busy at the office. After a while, I noticed that it took a significant toll on my most important relationships, and I made the decision to always start and end things on time. It’s helped tremendously.” — Mark Krassner, Knee Walker Central

Pursue Multiple Passions

“Have friends and activities outside of work that you are equally as passionate about as your company. Expect business matters to interrupt you and call you away, but cherish the time with your outside activities. This task is purely a mental process.” — Jon Cline, Rokit SEO

Maintain a Very High Sense of Professionalism

“In most ways, I prefer to integrate my personal and professional life 100 percent of the time. I love really caring for the people I work with and working with the people that I care about. That being said, I do think there is a certain responsibility that comes with leadership. I always highly recommend to people that they maintain a very high sense of professionalism in their working relationships.” — Dan Price, Gravity Payments

Choose Wisely

“I work with my husband, sister and one of my best friends at my marketing firm. I have to say that it’s working out really well. For about a year and a half we have worked out a system of communication and established boundaries that allow us to leave work at work, and leave our personal issues out of the office. Not everyone can handle it. You have to communicate expectations and limits.” — Maren Hogan, Red Branch Media

Separate Your Email Accounts

“Having a custom personalized domain is an effective way of separating your personal and professional email correspondence. Your own domain and brand can stay with you from company to company. Your company email account can then be used only to communicate with those required by your profession, and your personal email account is for those you’d communicate with outside of work.” — Mark Cenicola, BannerView.com

Meditate

“Meditation has allowed me to mentally disconnect from work when I get home at night. There is a great app, Headspace, that is a perfect ‘starter course’ for first-time users. The app eases you in by making you clear your mind for 10 minutes a day, for 10 days. Having the ability to disconnect when getting home has allowed me to be more creative and frees my mind for new ideas. ” — Kim Kaupe, ZinePak

Remember That at Work, You Are a Boss First

“As an entrepreneur, you spend a lot of time with your team. They become your morning, noon and night people. It’s OK to be both personal and professional friends, but you need to remember that you are their boss first. Make sure you are responsible, that they respect you, and that you are a good role model for work ethic.” — Amanda L. Barbara, Pubslush

Leave the Office

“I used to get stuck at the office until all hours of the night. That’s not good for your personal life and loved ones who are waiting at home for you. So I made one simple change. I booked a family function to attend every night of the week. It could be as simple as dinner or a family walk at a local park. Just thinking about standing your family up forces you to be there with them.” — Logan Lenz, Endagon

Disconnect From Technology

“I truly believe that this separation no longer exists. The better question is how to disconnect. For me, turning my phone off and going for a hike, a bike ride or another activity in nature is immensely relaxing.” — Matthew Moisan, Moisan Legal, P.C.

Turn Off Push Notifications

“Everyone carries a mobile smartphone these days. It’s almost impossible to keep things separate. However, you should disconnect from your email after a certain time during the day. If you’re on the golf course or out to dinner with family, turn off push email notifications. You can always get up early the next day to respond.” — Jason Grill, JGrill Media | Sock 101

Be Both Professional and Personable

“My rule of thumb is to make sure that anything that goes online that is tied to me personally (or the company) reflects us in a very positive light. If you’re putting something online you should be OK with the entire world seeing it. When I have personal time, I try to use airplane mode on my phone to keep from constantly being distracted when winding down.” — Jeff McGregor, Dash

BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.

This article originally appeared on BusnessCollective

TIME Careers & Workplace

How to Master the Art of Follow-Up

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Create reminders for yourself

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You’ve attended a networking event. Now what? You have a pocket full of business cards and no idea what to do with them.

Business cards have no value if you don’t use them, so let’s go over some simple ideas to help you maximize the initial interaction you had with someone. A networking event is just the jumping-off point for starting a new professional relationship — your follow-up is the key to developing it. And since the clock starts ticking as soon as you meet, it’s best to start at step one within 24 hours.

Let’s get to it and learn how to follow up like a pro:

Send a Quick Email

Take your new contact’s email off of that little rectangular piece of paper they gave you and craft them an email. Simply say that you enjoyed meeting them and try to reflect back on a point from the conversation. Something like, “It was so nice to meet you at the Chamber of Commerce event last night! Best of luck with your son’s baseball championship this weekend!” If you’d like to have a follow-up, you can say that as well — just add, “We started to talk about the synergies we have in our prospecting and I’d love to continue that conversation. How does your schedule look next Thursday to grab coffee or lunch?”

It doesn’t have to be long or formal, but you need to move the ball forward.

Link In on LinkedIn

Since LinkedIn offers so many free tools to keep your contacts front-of-mind for you (and you to them), what’s the harm in connecting and seeing them pop up in your email on their birthday, when they have a work anniversary, or get a new job? All these are occasions for follow-up. So after you’ve met, link up on LinkedIn too.

Create ‘Reconnect Files’

After you have a follow-up meeting or phone conversation with someone you’ve met, I suggest you create what I like to call “reconnect files.” They are handy, color-coded reminders that you can schedule once a month. Include some information about how you met and what you’ve discussed in the notes. When that name pops up each month, reach out to catch up, maybe set up another meeting, or send something that might be valuable, like an invite to another event, a great article or an introduction.

It isn’t necessary to reach out to every contact every month they appear, but it’s a great way to stay in touch.

Remember Birthdays (and the Small Stuff)

Even if you don’t have your contact’s birthdays on file, Facebook and LinkedIn make it easy for you to reach out. Social media also provides other occasions to reach out. For example, is one of your contacts’ having a family celebration soon? A surgery? A child? Reach out and send your well wishes.

These small gestures will go a long way. They mean even more if you hand-write a note and mail it.

Give First and Expect Nothing in Return

During your initial meeting, did your new contact mention a need overtly or in passing? Perhaps they mentioned that their sibling is a job seeker? If so, maybe you can follow up and inquire about what he/she wants to do and ask for a resume to pass to a few possible connectors or companies who are hiring.

This is one example of many possible scenarios, but what’s important is to seek out opportunities in which you can help someone with a need they have. Take the lead and expect nothing in return. Most people are wired with a reciprocity mentality; continue to do this, and you’ll grow a positive reputation as someone who pays it forward. People will be attracted to you and will want to help you in return.

Set Up a One-on-One Meeting

Be clear about your intentions for any meeting beforehand so the other party can prepare accordingly. Ideally, make it somewhere that is convenient for the other person, or worst case, midway between you both, easily accessible, has plenty of parking, and will have a quiet (enough) space for you to talk. The first one-on-one meeting is about further developing your rapport with your new contact. Rather than forcing your agenda on them by leading with things about you and your business, let them ask.

Use the Power of One Connection to Open Many Doors

Any contact with whom you interact knows hundreds, if not thousands, of other people. This makes the power of your conversation exponential. Remember: When you’re talking to someone, you’re actually speaking to their entire network. The same goes for them with you.

So once you’ve developed real trust with someone, you’ll want to be more intentional about how you help them. If someone is looking for a job, a business lead, or some other tangible introduction, open up your list of contacts to them. There is even a handy export tool on LinkedIn’s free version whereby you can download all of your contacts and share their name, company and position with your new connection so they can identify people themselves.

However you do it, sharing your list allows you to reach back out to others in your network to offer a potentially valuable introduction. Once you’ve warmed up the third party on the connection, close the circle and make the warm introduction.

Use Tools Beyond LinkedIn

One of my favorite tools is Newsle. It connects to your contacts and sends you email digests to let you know when someone in your network has appeared in the news. Another favorite is HARO (Help a Reporter Out). You’ll get three emails per day with opportunities from press outlets to be quoted or featured in their stories. It’s great to use yourself, but also to share with your contacts who are a good fit. Lastly, check out Relate.ly. This is an inexpensive platform that scores how well you’re keeping up with your contacts.

There you have it: eight simple steps to master the art of networking follow-up. It’s always best to work on one new habit and get it down before going to the next, so consider breaking up these tips and adding one to your calendar every couple weeks. That way, you can slowly and naturally integrate them into your follow-up routine. Here’s to you building a stronger network!

Darrah Brustein is a writer, master-networker, and serial entrepreneur with businesses in merchant services, networking, and financial education for kids.

BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.

This article originally appeared on BusinessCollective

TIME Careers & Workplace

Here’s the Ultimate Guide to Protecting Your Reputation Online

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Examine your past, present and future

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As an entrepreneur who has spent a lot of time building a positive and powerful online reputation for myself, I need to make sure I’m working alongside others who have done the same. Thanks to social media and Google, it’s quite easy to find personal and business history on nearly anyone — especially if they aren’t careful with their social media activity. I’m not the only one interested in this type of information. Now every individual and potential hire is under a magnifying glass before their employer makes any final decision.

Mark Cuban recently did an interview with Inc. on the massive transformation of digital media and how personal data is being shared at an alarming rate. The majority of this personal data is collected through social networks and shared with various applications, sites, partners and more — usually without the end user’s knowledge.

Todd William of ReputationRhino.com agrees that data is potentially putting social media users at risk: “The pressure to share on social media is intense. But oversharing has a number of unforeseen consequences, like the boss discovering you at opening day instead of taking a sick day, your kids asking about those funny-looking cigarettes or a burglar finding out you are away from home on vacation.”

It’s not just about the sharing of your data, it’s also about what data is being shared, how it’s being used and how your past updates, shares, retweets and likes could possibly come back to haunt you.

Cuban mentioned that networks are now building personal profiles for every individual out there based off the data that is already available on the web. This information is priceless to marketing companies and companies who are hiring. It is completely changing the landscape of technology and the way we live our lives in the coming months.

Re-Examining Your Digital Footprint

Your digital footprint is already out there, but it’s not too late to make it smaller and remove any connections or content out there that could potentially harm you down the road.

With the recent news that Google will start indexing Twitter updates within their search results, it’s now more important than ever for individuals to take control over what content they have online and not let their past social media digital footprint potentially harm them in the future.

The first step is going through your main social profiles on networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and doing a manual audit of your updates, pictures and friend relationships. A manual audit will give you an idea of the type of content you’ve put out there in the past. By cleaning it up now, you can remove it from harming you in the future. In almost all cases, there is no need to leave potentially harmful content within your social profile history. All it takes it a simple click of the delete button to remove it from your profile stream.

Another option is to make sure you have a good reputation management plan or first impression in place. When someone searches for you or your brand online, you want to make sure they are finding quality content that puts you in a good light. For example, there are hundreds of other people who share my name in the world, but I’ve done my work to make sure I rank on the first page every time you search “Zac Johnson.” I created my own site, blog, managed social profiles and highlighted my expertise on other high authority sites across the Internet.

No matter how big or small your social network and online digital footprint might be, there is no better time to start cleaning it up than today. Removing just three pieces of potentially harmful content per day equates to over 100 removals over the course of a month. Take some time to invest in your future and your online reputation.

Zac Johnson has 20 years of experience in the online marketing and business space. You can learn more about Zac athttp://zacjohnson.com and through his latest online learning course and community at http://blogging.org.

BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.

This article originally appeared on BusinessCollective

TIME Careers & Workplace

8 Sources of Professional Advice and Inspiration

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"Before going to others, look inward"

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Question: Who do you turn to first for advice and why?

Myself

“Before going to others, look inward. You know your situation better than anyone, and you are capable of amazing creativity. I find it useful to pretend that I’m looking at someone else’s issue instead of my own. If someone else were coming to you with this problem, what advice would you give them? Take a step back and objectively evaluate what is happening. ” — Laura Roeder, MeetEdgar.com

My Social Following

“I will post almost all of my personal or professional questions on Twitter and Facebook because I have some pretty awesome connections. You can expand your social circle online far faster than you ever could in person. Throw out a question and just watch all the great advice roll in. Also, you don’t have to endure endless conversations online. Who has time for that?” — Maren Hogan, Red Branch Media

My Peer Advisor

“I have a daily call with Bhavin Parikh, CEO of Magoosh.com. Even on weekends we talk. While we run completely different businesses (watches for me, test prep for him) we’re going through many of the same struggles of growing a business. He knows everything about Modify, so that when I call and bring up some small issue, he has all of the necessary context and can simply give advice.” — Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

My Father

“My father is without a doubt the first person I turn to for personal and business advice. He has seen just about everything and has met just about every different type of person in his life as a lawyer. He is a very grounded, well-rounded person who has been a successful business person and (more importantly), human being. ” — Jason Grill, JGrill Media | Sock 101

Key Stakeholders

“I go to my key stakeholders, along with my team of external advisers. As the ancient proverb states, “A wise man has many counselors.” You want a diversity of knowledge, experience and education to help create the highest likelihood of success. ” — Parker Powers, ParkerPowers.com

An Executive Coach

One of my most trusted advisors is an executive coach. She has been part of my team since my business was only a few months old. Executive coaches are great because they know more about your business’ inner-workings than an outside mentor, but they are more removed than a board member or colleague. If you find the right one, he/she can be an invaluable impartial resource for key decisions.” — Brittany Hodak, ZinePak

My Wife

“My wife has no business background. She is a teacher. However, she possesses a deep understanding of me unlike anyone else in the world. Bouncing ideas off of her proves to be an effective exercise since she offers a fresh perspective on the issue at hand. ” — Logan Lenz, Endagon

Google

“I turn to Google because I hate asking questions without understanding the topic. Once I have a basic understanding, I am able to ask better questions, which leads to better results. ” — Matthew Moisan, Moisan Legal, P.C.

BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.

This article originally appeared on BusinessCollective

TIME Careers & Workplace

8 Things You Should Do Before Leaving for Vacation

It's important that all projects can continue to move forward without you

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Question: What is the one thing you expect all your staff members to do before leaving for summer vacation?

Update All Content and Information

“Making sure that everything on their end is up to date content-wise, and having their contact info. if we should ever encounter a fire or anything drastic, is very important. I trust my entire team to get this covered before they leave. It’s proven effective in the past. ” — Rob Fulton, AudioLumin

Delegate Everything

“By delegating before leaving, the employee can take comfort in knowing that everything is being handled in their absence — and so can the business! ” — Brooke Bergman, Allied Business Network Inc.

Report on Current Projects

“I ask them to email me a detailed report a few days before they go outlining the current status of their projects, anything missing, what needs to be delegated, emergency contact info.; that kind of thing. This gives us time to rectify any issues. It also gives me piece of mind that their absence won’t be problematic and they can leave knowing that they’ve tied up any loose ends. ” — Nicolas Gremion, Free-eBooks.net

Talk About Their Deliverables

“Before an employee leaves for vacation, or even for the weekend, we go over all deliverables and expectations for their time away. Firstly, I want to ensure that they have all lose ends tied up. Secondly, I like to give them the choice of remotely working or totally unplugging. Some of my team can handle it and prefer to work while they’re gone (and still get paid), and some don’t. ” — Maren Hogan, Red Branch Media

Transition Their Workload

“If you have structured your business to allow for interchangeable work, then there should be someone else that can pick up the slack while they are on vacation. It’s important for the employee leaving to make sure that all important projects can continue to move forward without their presence. The best way to do that is to fully bring their colleagues up to speed about their current projects.” — Kim Kaupe, ZinePak

Document Their Systems

“Before someone takes off for vacation they should make sure that all of their job duties are clearly documented in a step-by-step process. Our team uses an online wiki tool to make sure that all processes and related documents are easily accessible by anyone on the team. This makes it much easier for duties to get covered while someone is out on vacation.” — Laura Roeder, MeetEdgar.com

Cover Their Bases

“We have an unlimited vacation policy, but such freedom brings great responsibility. We expect staff to take steps to ensure that all bases are fully covered while away. This involves alerting managers well ahead of time, sharing a doc with pending projects/tasks and making team members aware of their level of availability. This enables work to continue smoothly and allows a stress free vacation.” — Alex Lorton, Cater2.me

BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.

This article originally appeared on BusinessCollective

TIME Careers & Workplace

6 Most Important Qualities of a Good Mentor

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A true mentor will do it because they want to see you succeed

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Question: What quality or skill should a first-time founder look for in a mentor?

Industry Knowledge and Connections

“A mentor should be someone who not only can give you objective feedback, but someone who can get you off the ground fast in the industry you are attacking. Look for a mentor who can provide industry insights and, more importantly, has the necessary connections to expand your network.” — Ryan O’Connell, LaunchKC

Time and Objectivity

“Motivated mentors are only great if they have the time to help when needed. I’m sure the President could be a great mentor, but he’d have no time for you. Schedule your chats. In your team, dedication is most important, but mentors are the outsiders looking in. They need to give you the viewpoint you don’t have. They have the distance to see the big picture.” — Ben Gamble, See Through

Heart of a Teacher and a Good Track Record

“Dave Ramsey said it best: don’t take advice from anyone who doesn’t have the heart of a teacher. If someone isn’t passionate about truly helping you, that’s a red flag right there. Secondly, don’t take advice from someone with a bad or no track record. Seek advice and mentorship from someone who is where you want to be.” — Steven Newlon, SYN3RGY Creative Group

Honesty

“One thing to avoid in a mentor is a person who expects compensation and recognition for their time. Avoid these people like the plague. A true mentor will do it because they want to see you succeed, often because someone did the same for them. Your mentor should be critical and give honest feedback with the career experience that makes them one of your first phone calls when you need help.” — Julian Flores, GetOutfitted, Inc.

Passion for Your Business

“You can find someone who has all the relevant experience in the world, but if they don’t have a passion for what you’re doing, they won’t be very likely to help you. We have a mentor who has a lot of experience in tech, which isn’t relevant to what we do. But his passion and desire to learn about the food business has made him invaluable.” — Lisa Curtis, Kuli Kuli

Strong Analytical and Problem-Solving Skills

“A first-time founder will be confronted with all types of challenges that at times will feel overwhelming. Having a mentor who possesses strong analytic and problem-solving skills can be invaluable, as they can help ensure that you apply an intellectually sound approach to solving issues that you will invariably face as an inexperienced founder.” — Damian A. Clarke, DAC & Associates

BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.

This article originally appeared on BusinessCollective

TIME Careers & Workplace

7 Reasons to Pursue Entrepreneurship

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"For others the freedom and flexibility that comes with creating and owning one’s own business represents the ultimate satisfaction"

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Question: What is the main benefit of entrepreneurship that traditional career paths don’t offer?

The Ability to Create Your Own Destiny

“Entrepreneurship can be very rewarding. You can create your own hours and make your thoughts a reality. We now employ 10 people and we are still growing. I love looking around the office and seeing how collaborative everyone is. It feels good to know that I have created a working environment that people love.” — Courtney Spritzer, SOCIALFLY

The Ability to Positively Impact Your Environment

“The ability to impact the marketplace and see your ideas manifest into tangible services and products that add value is perhaps the most fulfilling benefit of being an entrepreneur.” — Damian A. Clarke, DAC & Associates

The Opportunity to Work How You Want to Work

“There’s no line manager to tell you when you can’t take a day off. There is no red tape to sidestep, or a procedure for anything. You’re not bound by corporate planning left over from the eighties. Systems are new, unfettered and modern. Things work, and there’s no one but you to say otherwise.” — Ben Gamble, See Through

The Chance to Learn Under Fire

“In a traditional job, you are generally only responsible for one bucket of activities. In a startup, you’re able to wear a lot of different hats and learn quickly by doing it. It’s an MBA from the School of Hard Knocks and shouldn’t be underestimated.” — Lisa Curtis, Kuli Kuli

The Freedom It Offers

“From my perspective, the main benefit of entrepreneurship is the freedom it offers to create and grow a business that’s owned (fully or in part) by you. Traditional career paths tend to lock people into a certain role or industry for years, which works for many. But for others the freedom and flexibility that comes with creating and owning one’s own business represents the ultimate satisfaction.” — Michael Rheaume, SnapKnot Inc.

The Flexibility to Be Your Best

“The main benefit of being an entrepreneur is flexibility; flexibility to work as hard as you want, make as much money as you want, work the schedule you want and sell the product/service you want. How smart and hard you work will determine how much flexibility you give yourself. Entrepreneurship is not for those who need the structure of a 9-to-5 job and a job description.” — Steven Newlon, SYN3RGY Creative Group

The Ability to Love What You Do

“Before taking the plunge in entrepreneurship, I always thought whether I would find a job that I really loved. Now, I work harder than ever before almost on a 24/7 basis. And I absolutely love what I do. I look forward to the every day in office. Loving your job is key to success and entrepreneurship is a sure way to make you love your job.” — Ashu Dubey, 12 Labs

BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.

This article originally appeared on BusinessCollective

TIME Careers & Workplace

10 Pieces of Career Advice for New Graduates

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There is more than one way to do something

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My team is amazing. I say it a lot, and it’s true. But even the team at Red Branch Media has its moments. There have been times when I’ve seen the cultural gap well in effect and periods where my employer head has clashed with my leader heart. In the years I’ve been in business, I have hired a lot of new graduates. After I recently read Jack Welch’s LinkedIn piece on new grads, I was compelled to write a candid open letter to them as well.

So here’s my copycat post. Here’s what I would (and do) tell new grads when they walk into Red Branch Media with soul-crushing loans and a desire to change the world with their knowledge. And please know, I don’t tell them these things to discourage them, but to prepare them and make them better than they could be if I simply told them to “find their destiny.”

This Is Not Your Destiny

At least, this isn’t what you thought your destiny would be when you were a kid. I wanted to be a rock star/Miss Universe, and now I lead a merry band of B2B advertising rock stars. And so it goes. I know it’s hard to face up to the fact that you aren’t going to write the great American novel in your first five years out of school. Although my firm is an amazing place to work and you will be a better writer, worker, person and probably dancer when you leave, it probably isn’t your destiny. So don’t expect it to be. Instead, focus on learning skills that will help you when you do sit down to write that novel.

I Am Not Your Mom or Your College Professor

This is a workplace. This means you show up no matter how sick your dog is. This means you don’t forget about conference calls with clients. It means I feel terrible when you and your boyfriend are having a fight but no, it does not qualify as a sick day. Meeting a deadline and turning in a paper are two very different things, and developing you into a great colleague is very different than helping you become a good person.

Want to Work From Home? Earn It

I get that you want to work from home, but very few college grads are equipped to do so right out of the gate. Perhaps you are the exception. Fine. Spend some time earning my trust so I know I can rely on you to do a good job from home, Starbucks or Tahiti.

Your Loans Are on You

Don’t ask me for a raise because you took out loans. I worked several jobs, had two babies, a mortgage and the same loans you did at your age. It is not in me to feel sorry for you that your dad stopped paying your cell phone bill. Save this conversation for your friends, not your boss. I know the system isn’t fair, and I know it’s hard out there for a grad, but trust me.

You Are Replaceable

This one is hard. You never want to say this to people who work for you, because it’s demoralizing and stinky. But that doesn’t make it any less true. For every job I’ve left, I was convinced the company would implode without me. Only one actually did, and that was a bit of a fluke of timing. Look, it’s easy to think you have the roughest, toughest job in the whole company, but please believe me when I say that everyone is replaceable.

Keep Learning

You aren’t done yet. You have to keep learning in life, never more so than those heady, dispiriting years when you realize you learned nothing with a real world application during your four expensive years in school. So many of the people we hire here at Red Branch end up wanting so badly to drop out and work here full-time, just because their final semesters seems so incongruent with their job here. And it’s not because we’re not solving real issues.

Your Naiveté Is Immensely Valuable

Sure, it can be a hindrance, but it’s also a goldmine of completely unbiased market research. It’s quite common for new employees to ask questions about marketing that I never thought of before. Keep questioning until you get an answer that suffices, but keep doing what you’re paid to do in the meantime.

There’s More Than One Way to Do Something

Six plus three equals nine. But so does four plus five, and two plus five plus one plus one. There is more than one way to do something. When you start your first job, or even your first job search, there will be people who train you to think three plus six equals nine, and that’s all right because it does. But don’t lock yourself into just one way of doing things. Keep taking chances and trying different ways to do things.

Debate Is Fine; Excuses Aren’t

I love when someone on my team challenges an assumption I’ve had forever. Not that it’s fun being reminded that what you thought you knew is increasingly unreliable, but it makes me realize that I do have buy-in. What frustrates me are excuses. I know you didn’t mean to mess up, that it was an accident, that you didn’t know, that you were confused, that you got sick, and that you thought someone else was handling it, but none of those are solutions. So, don’t offer me excuses until you have a solution. Fix it first, then analyze what went wrong. Don’t confuse justification with debate.

Don’t Let Anyone (Not Even Me) Define What You Are Worth

A job (even a cool one) at a desk (even a standing one) working for the boss man (even a woman one) isn’t for everyone. It wasn’t for me and it might not be for you. Define your own dreams, salary and path. It may not happen overnight, but it will happen.

Maren Hogan is a seasoned marketer and community builder in the HR and Recruiting industry. She leads Red Branch Media, an agency offering marketing strategy and content development. A consistent advocate of next generation marketing techniques, Hogan has built successful online communities, deployed brand strategies in both the B2B and B2C sectors, and been a prolific contributor of thought leadership in the global recruitment and talent space.

BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.

This article originally appeared on BusinessCollective.

TIME Careers & Workplace

7 Creative and Fun Ways to Manage Your Time

smartphone-car-driving
Getty Images

Let your phone text and take notes for you

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I am swamped. Requests from colleagues, friends and family leave me with no time to do any actual work. I can’t ignore any of the aforementioned things and it’s impossible to cram them all into an eight-hour day.

But time management isn’t about taking shortcuts in your thinking time, it’s about finding shortcuts for the mundane, administrative and repetitive, in order to make way for the creative, strategic and dare I say… fun? As a busy carpooling mom of three boys (two of them teens!), a CEO of a company that grows 500 percent year over year and a happily married lady with lots of extended family, here’s how I make the most of every hour of every day.

Email Templates and Autoresponders

The Issue: Email is a huge time suck. Everyone knows it. Yet when I find myself bogged down, my first (weird) impulse is to check my email. This only serves to make me even crazier and stressed out because for every minute my inbox is ignored, the magical email bunnies produce about 50 new emails.

The Shortcut: Autoresponders. I have an amazing marketing assistant who helps me wade through requests and schedule important meetings. I archive every client communication so I don’t get distracted when looking for something I know I saw just yesterday (Gmail makes this a snap), and I use autoresponders for things like guest post requests, meetings, phone calls and new client queries. A great article about how to word these emails popped up a few weeks ago and I couldn’t agree with its premise more.

Texting and Typing Shortcuts

The Issue: I like a good manicure and spend a lot of time on the road. I can’t look down every three seconds or enter passwords without flubbing.

The Shortcut: I use autocorrect to make my texting life less frenetic. For example, I can text “RBM” and my phone knows to spell out “Red Branch Media.” I use the same trick to make emails and phrases I type frequently appear. This not only saves me time, it makes even the hastiest text message look professional.

Website Hacks

The Issue: I have usernames on every single website that exists in the English language. Okay, maybe not. But it feels like I do. Add in client login information, software, and the hundreds of media bundles and new apps I buy regularly, and you have a password bottleneck.

The Shortcut: In addition to the company password list, I use LastPass to ensure that I am not endlessly frustrated. I have my kids use 1Password when they access my computer for homework and Minecraft.

Dictation

The Issue: My kids go to three different schools in two different towns, 25 miles away. Since none of them can drive unaccompanied, I find myself in the car a lot. Once I’ve finished my rendition of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” I settle in and use two tools to make the most of my time in the car.

The Shortcut: Dragon Dictation is like Siri on steroids! I use it to speak out outlines of articles (like this one) that pop into my head. It’s also super useful for strategy documents, as those are the hardest for me to get from the idea stage to publication-ready. Another useful tool is my conference line Speek. It allows me to record and keep notes. My assistant can get all information down on paper if I’m in the proposal phase with a new client or when I simply need to remember what I was talking about as I sped down the highway. Plus, we can save the audio files to the client folder for later.

Group Messaging

The Issue: We have a group of friends in our neighborhood with roughly 28 children between us. There is no logical way to keep track of the barbecues, birthday parties, play dates and fire-pit nights without someone feeling left out.

The Shortcut: Aside from a rolling text string among three of us for social updates, we use NextDoor to keep in touch in our neighborhood. This makes it easy to exchange invites and useful time saving information, like who found the best concrete guy or when trees will be picked up from the last summer storm. This also serves as a de facto neighborhood watch and has led to lots of new friendships on the block.

Archival System

The Issue: Clients come and go, partnerships ebb and flow. Some people and companies with whom I was hot and heavy (professionally) just months ago are now just folders I breeze through.

The Shortcut: Archive. Archive. Archive. I love Dropbox, but if you have a folder for every active and inactive client, you will soon get tendonitis just from looking through your cloud. If I am finished with a project or email, I put it straight into storage. Dropbox syncs on all office computers, making it a cinch to see and sort through only the most active and recent files.

Recipe Makers

The Issue: Boring, repetitive tasks that make me nuts.

The Shortcut: IFTTT and other recipe makers. Sometimes you are pulling in five pictures per day and they all need to be a certain size. Create a recipe that saves them that way to the right file automatically! Sure, it takes about 30 seconds to set up in the beginning. But when making a presentation or building a website, this creates a lot more serenity than manually resizing multiple photos. The same goes for other repeatable tasks (taking pictures of your receipts to categorize, downloading files from your Google Drive, building templates in illustrator for white papers and ebooks). Use a recipe or template for any project you think you will do more than once — and use it!

There you have it — the hacks that get me through every single day. I learned early on that I had to start looking at every task more strategically. I would often think, “There HAS to be a better way to do this.” And there usually is.

Share your time-saving hacks in the comments, and let’s all get out of our own way!

Maren Hogan is a seasoned marketer and community builder in the HR and Recruiting industry. She leads Red Branch Media, an agency offering marketing strategy and content development. A consistent advocate of next generation marketing techniques, Hogan has built successful online communities, deployed brand strategies in both the B2B and B2C sectors, and been a prolific contributor of thought leadership in the global recruitment and talent space.

BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.

This article originally appeared on BusinessCollective.

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