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

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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.

TIME Careers & Workplace

8 Ways to Overcome Your Biggest Distractions

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Make sure your day doesn’t turn into answering 'quick questions'

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Question: What’s the biggest distraction you run into on a daily basis and how do you overcome it?

Email

“On average I receive 170 emails a day. It used to put me in a reactive mode and most of my day would be spent in my inbox. I’d wrap up 12 hours in the office and feel as though I hadn’t accomplished a thing. Now, I only check my messages at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and batch my responses. As a result, I am more focused, get considerably more done and when I do go into my inbox, I’m highly effective.” — Mark Krassner, Knee Walker Central

Phone Calls

“I get numerous calls a day and would not be able to efficiently complete projects for clients if I was constantly being pulled away and then had to refocus. Instead, I often put my phone on mute and return calls either in between projects or at set points of time during the day when it is not disruptive to completing work.” — Doug Bend, Bend Law Group, PC

“Quick Questions”

“The biggest daily distractions are the “quick questions” that people swear will take “two seconds” to answer. In reality, these questions can pull you off-task and interrupt your focus. On average, at least an hour of my day is spent answering “quick questions.” I now work from home one day a week to focus on larger, bigger-picture tasks without interruption.” — Brittany Hodak, ZinePak

New Tasks

“As an entrepreneur, you have 1,000 tasks which you could do — hiring, social media marketing, sales calls, etc. I’ve never been great about organizing my days, and I find myself distracted by thinking, “Oh! I should do X.” To save myself, I’ve recently started listing out my five “must-do” things at the start of the day. Seeing those in front of me keeps me on task.” — Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

Notifications

“At one time, every five minutes my phone would buzz with a new update or notification. These spanned email, calendar, text, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, messenger. The majority are not urgent, but it’s easy to follow them down the rabbit hole. To manage this I turn off 95 percent of notifications and keep my phone on silent unless I’m expecting a call.” — Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems

The Internet

“Sometimes being online doesn’t allow me to focus on tasks that require more social interaction, or even on tasks that don’t require Internet. Whether it’s Skype, email or iMessages, sometimes disconnecting from the world for a few hours a day can do wonders for productivity. The Internet has been a double-edged sword for most people, and those that can control their usage will be miles ahead.” — Derek Capo, Next Step China

Unnecessary Meetings

“Meetings can take up a great deal of valuable time, so unnecessary meetings are truly a waste of your time. To overcome this issue, validate meeting requests by requiring a detailed agenda from the person requesting the meeting or call. Ask for questions and objectives ahead of time, as you can often just answer them in an email and avoid the meeting altogether.” — Andrew Thomas, SkyBell Video Doorbell

Facebook

“As someone who works in social media, I can publicly admit that I love Facebook but it’s a massive distraction. It’s especially difficult when you actually use Facebook for paid or organic engagement — there’s no way to check your ads without also seeing all of your personal notifications. I try to only check Facebook as a reward or on a specific break between tasks.” — Laura Roeder, MeetEdgar.com

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 was originally published on BusinessCollective.

TIME Companies

This Is Why Some Companies Are More Successful Than Others

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They excel at things that matter the most

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Whether it’s Apple, Facebook, Twitter or Uber, all entrepreneurs look at companies that are super successful and wonder what they do differently. It bewilders us to see how they skyrocketed from a humble startup to phenomenal success. How do they not hit roadblocks? Why don’t they have problems to get through? What special talent helps them do everything right?

Well, they don’t do everything right. They just excel at things that matter the most.

A quick dive into the history of any top company will reveal the mess they went through to reach the pinnacle. Apple saw the famous ‘Steve sacking’ episode; Facebook had an ugly falling out of the founders; Twitter was a game of musical chairs for the CEO; Uber has made many mistakes with their international launches — and more recently, with their executives making inappropriate statements. And these are just some examples out of the many companies out there that went through troubles.

So what made these companies a runaway success? It’s the way they worked past their limitations and were able to create game changing products or services. They had a sufficiently great product that they were able to overcome a lot of their mistakes.

Let me explain this with a perfect example — Steve Jobs. Today, we see people emulate everything he did, trying to shape themselves into the person that he was. But while an amazing visionary, Steve Jobs was not perfect. In the early days, he did not treat his team with the right level of respect. He was not a people’s person and made mistakes with how he managed his employees.

Now, it would be wrong to assume that the way he treated employees contributed to his success. Truth is, what made Steve Jobs legendary was his vision and innovation, not his behavior with his team. If anything, people were more accepting of the latter because of his technical genius.

Yet another great way to explain the point is sports. Take a match of tennis, for example. Player X beats player Y in five sets. Match reports come out and it’s full of praises for the winner, highlighting how he was considerably better. They will talk about the training, the hard work, and the strategy as all being key reasons for their success. However, if you had seen the match, you would know that it was just a couple of key points that tilted the match. The real reason he won was because he made the right decisions on the most critical points — the break points and the set points. And that’s pretty much how success stories for most companies go.

This shows that we must take care not to confuse the noise from the signal. Mark Zuckerberg did an amazing job at building out Facebook because of his clear focus on growth of their Monthly Active Users. Even with all of Facebook’s success he was not perfect and made mistakes — he failed both times he tried competing with Snapchat.

There is no denying that we should be inspired by these innovators and their companies. But at the same time, we shouldn’t try to blindly copy every action that they do. There is a good lesson to be learned from every story; it’s important to recognize what the big decisions were that really moved the needle and learn from them.

Randy Rayess is the co-founder of VenturePact, a marketplace that connects companies to prescreened software development firms; he previously worked in private equity at SilverLake Partners and in machine learning. You can reach out to him at @randyrayess or on linkedin.

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 was originally published on BusinessCollective.

TIME Careers & Workplace

7 Tips for Quickly Growing Your Network

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Decide the 10 key people you want to connect with

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Question: I need to grow my network and my brand quickly. What is one piece of advice you have for getting in front of the right people?

Define Your Unique Value

“I think of outreach like marketing — if you’re selling the same product as everyone else, nobody will pay attention. We’ve found, with our marketing and outreach at Sled Mobile, that our single biggest selling tool is how we’re uniquely valuable. You should be able to express this in a single sentence, as the start of your outreach, to get them hooked.” — Todd Medema, Sled

Reach New Audiences by Providing Valuable Content

“If you are already an expert in your space and know how to provide value, reaching out to the top experts, bloggers and site owners within your space is a must. After establishing a connection, you can offer to provide valuable content to place on their site in exchange for a bio section at the end of the article. This is simply one of the best ways to get in front of a new targeted audience.” — Zac Johnson, Blogging.org

Ask a Single Interesting Question

“With an excellent question, you become intriguing without necessarily having any qualifications. Ask people via email and social media for a short call. Soon, you can informatively name-drop by discussing what others had to say. Ask who else should weigh in and ask an introduction. The best part? You yourself become more interesting as you “question” your way up the food chain.” — Cristina Garmendia, Team Better Block

Give, Give, Give

“Often, we think in terms of “Get” — what can I get out of this person or interaction? But if you approach it from “Give” — what can I give or offer that’s helpful or novel — then you make a stronger impression. Always approach from give first, and the get will come.” — Rachel Hofstetter, Guesterly // PR School

Find Related Communities and Start Networking

“Join communities where the right audience for your business exists. It could be a Facebook group, a single event or recurring networking group. Either way, get yourself out there and you’ll in turn get your brand out there. Ask what you can do to help those you connect with and they’ll want to give back to you, too.” — Laurie Davis, eFlirt

Decide Who the Right 10 People Are

“It is much better to talk in-depth with 10 very useful people than it is to scatter-gun emails out to 1,000 people that potentially may be interesting. Fully engaging these 10 people will also do much more for your network and brand. Work out the 10 key people you want to speak to and tailor your approach specifically to appeal to them.” — Tom Chalmers, IPR License

Position Yourself as an Expert

“Start with clearly identifying who the “right people” are and work your butt off to provide these people value. Its one thing to get in front of these people, but if you want them to see you as a credible source you need to provide them value. By positioning yourself as an expert in a particular area, you are welcoming in the idea for people to rely on you.” — Kyle Van Dyn Hoven, Creation Burst Studios

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 was originally published on BusinessCollective.

TIME Careers & Workplace

7 Myths Entrepreneurs Should Walk Away From

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"You have no time for friends and family"

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Question: What is one business myth that entrepreneurs should disregard?

You Have No Time for Friends and Family

“Smart entrepreneurs know that having a supportive network of friends and family is critical to helping cushion the falls inherent in startups. Just because you work a lot doesn’t mean that you should neglect the people you love; they are critical to your success.” — Lisa Curtis, Kuli Kuli

Successful Entrepreneurs Always Know What to Do

“While many successful entrepreneurs may appear to always have a plan and actionable steps to create success, many of them accomplish their goals from continuous failure. Embrace the fact that you will never know everything and fall in love with the process of failing.” — Kyle van dyn Hoven, Creation Burst Studios

You Have No Boss

“You are accountable to both your customers and your employees. If you raised money, you are also accountable to your investors. At times, this can feel like you’ve traded one boss for many. There is definitely a certain freedom in being an entrepreneur and defining your own way; however, many entrepreneurs feel like they have traded a direct boss for numerous indirect bosses.” — John Arroyo, Arroyo Labs, Inc.

Revenue Equals Success

“It’s easy to look at a company’s revenue and deem them successful. However, the true value of a company is based on profitability — not just on shear revenue size. Keep revenue in mind, but always focus on profitability and sustainability of the business.” — Ryan O’Connell, LaunchKC

Only Data Signifies Your Business’ Success

“There’s an entire culture that believes data holds the key: that if you optimize your click rates, you’ll build a successful business. But if you study data science, you’ll find that correlation doesn’t always equal causation, and that more clicks don’t necessarily mean more customers who care. Don’t become blinded by incomplete data and forget your strategy, vision and how you want your customers to feel.” — Todd Medema, Sled

You Must Always Think Big

“While thinking big is something that is always taught, it’s also important to realize the power and profitability within smaller niche markets. Thinking big doesn’t mean you have to go after large markets like finance, health or entertainment. Instead, entrepreneurs can focus on these niche markets and become an authority within that space. Instead of thinking big, think about how you can be the best.” — Zac Johnson, Blogging.org

Success Is Achieved Solely Through Churning Out Work

“While all entrepreneurs have to work incredibly hard to be successful, action should never be confused with progress. Entrepreneurs should constantly evaluate whether their approach is proving successful and stop or change it if necessary. They should simultaneously see both the immediate and the bigger picture.” — Tom Chalmers, IPR License

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 was originally published on BusinessCollective.

TIME Careers & Workplace

9 Tips to Staying Productive Throughout the Week

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Set deadlines for yourself

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A few days ago in the WiseWear “Nerd Lab,” one of our most recent employees asked me what tricks I use to stay productive on a daily basis. Working for the “right” startup can be incredibly liberating. Startups are not 9-to-5 gigs, and typically require more energy balance than time management skills. Some love the autonomy, while others may loathe it. Either way, you still have to get the job done. Here’s a quick digest on tricks I use to keep things fresh and fuel me onward and upward throughout the week.

1. Get out there and be active. Whether it be a quick walk, jog, run, bike ride or trip to the gym, nothing makes me more productive than a good sweat. Studies show that exercising is proven to increase productivity, enhance your mood and even give you more energy throughout the day. So now you really never have the excuse, “I don’t have enough time.”

2. Sharpen the saw. Take a 30-minute nap every day. I try to nap every day. By taking naps, I effectively break my work day into two full days. Here is an excellent article that supports daily naps.

3. Manage your energy. Create a schedule for yourself. I have found that I am most productive between 8:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. I try to work on the most important items during this time. I also have found that I am exhausted almost every day between 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m., so this is when I typically nap. Don’t forget to switch things up every once in a while. Respond to emails for the first 30 minutes of your day; make a checklist of tasks you know you’ll be able to complete; spend an hour learning more about your industry and current/upcoming trends; monitor social media for another half hour, etc. I personally enjoy writing everything down and crossing things out. It gives me peace of mind and a sense of satisfaction to know what I accomplished.

4. Set attainable goals and deadlines for yourself. Set them by the day, week or month — as often as you think you need to. Studies have shown that setting goals and making progress towards them directly correlates with improvement in well-being, satisfaction and happiness. Measure your progress and take comfort knowing that you are getting things done! An awesome tool to track your progress is iDoneThis. It’s also helpful to complete a monthly personal review with yourself. Assess your success and make sure you’re on the right track. Review your job description to see if your performance is up to par. Make a list of your proudest accomplishments throughout the month.

5. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize! I can’t stress the importance of prioritizing. I know it can be a difficult thing to do. Prioritize based on deadlines and rank your list of tasks/goals based on importance. Is your whole team relying on Task A? Is Task B due next week? Does Task C require lots of attention and focus?

6. Identify and acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses. It’s important to recognize your sweet and weak spots for your own personal self-awareness. Acknowledging them can help you create a better structure for yourself and pivot towards better habits. If you’re not a morning person, make sure you have a solid couple of hours throughout the day or night to get things done (i.e. try to avoid making plans midday because it’s likely that you won’t be very productive afterwards). If you lack creativity, push yourself to produce a couple of creative ideas every month. Find out what gets your creative juices flowing and execute.

7. Find a “focus” space. Home might or might not be the best place to work from. Although I’m not opposed to the idea of working from bed, it might be a good idea to set up a small office space. Find a space where you can tune in without any distractions. I enjoy working from coffee shops, not only because espresso is only a few steps within my reach, but because it’s nice to get some background noise. Seeing other people working on their laptops also gets me in a productive mode.

8. Mingle, network and be social! Working remotely means less social face-to-face interaction. This might be terrifying for some of us. But even if it’s not, try to make it a priority to meet with one of your co-workers on a biweekly basis or go to an industry mixer event. It’s important to keep your social skills sharp and interact with other humans. Go to industry networking events, raise questions, prompt discussions, exchange ideas, meet with other thought leaders; these are all things that will fuel your old or newfound inspiration.

9. Make yourself and your work accountable. Because you aren’t chained to a cubicle for a straight 8-9 hours and because your boss isn’t breathing down your neck, you still have to be 150 percent accountable for all of your work. When a person is accountable to someone else for doing what they said they would do, they get things done. Make no excuses.

Dr. Gerald “Jerry” J. Wilmink is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of WiseWear® Corporation, a Texas-based digital health company that develops next generation wearable technology products for fitness and medical applications. Jerry is a high octane PhD-turned-entrepreneur that gets things done and never gives up. Jerry founded WiseWear Corporation with the goal of developing wearable technologies that empower people to live happy, healthy & productive lives. He has experience as a mad scientist, inventor, startup business consultant for Venture Capital firms, and a program manager for the Department of Defense’s $2 Billion Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

This article was originally published on BusinessCollective.

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