TIME Careers & Workplace

Should You Work With Family Members?

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How to answer one of the most difficult questions in business

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This story was originally published on StartupCollective.

Question: Working with family members: yes or no, and why?

No: How You Get Along Personally and Professionally Might Be Different

“My wife has been my business partner at my startup for the past four years. I’ve been lucky enough to find a wonderful partner in her, both personally and professionally. However, I never advise working with family. It’s too risky. Getting along with a family member personally is no indication of how you work together professionally. Money and business can damage your relationship. It’s not worth it.” — Eric Bahn, Hustle Con Media

Yes: You Can Be Compeletely Honest With Each Other

“My twin brother is my partner in my oldest company, and it’s great because we can be honest with one another, and I trust him significantly more than I’ve trusted partners in the past. It also just so happens that our skill sets are completely opposite and complementary. If you can share a womb, you can share a business!” — Darrah Brustein, Network Under 40 / Finance Whiz Kids

Yes: They Are the Most Loyal

“We actually have 10 family members that work with us, and they are very loyal and always watch our backs. Although, I will say it is very important to define roles and boundaries with family immediately. They do tend to push the limits of what is acceptable if rules are not clearly defined.” — Laura Land, Accessory Export, LLC

Yes: It’s Less Expensive Than Using Consultants

“My immediate family members each work in the marketing, entertainment and retail industries, which is the complete opposite of my area of expertise (finance). They were able to give me constructive criticism when I ventured into their major areas of expertise, and their advice and help has allowed me to grow the business without having to pay for an expensive consultant.” — Derek Capo, Next Step China

Maybe: Your Relationship Could Get Stronger, or Get Worse

“It depends. If you put family first and sure you always will (and they do too), then it can create complications and risks. But if you’re willing to accept those complications and risks, it could also enhance your relationship with your family.” — Dan Price, Gravity Payments

Yes: There Are Fewer Trust Issues

“We love hiring family at our companies. The upside is that you know you don’t have to worry about trust issues. Having that out of the way is a huge plus. However, you must make it clear that business is business. This means not taking things personally and accepting criticism just as you would from any other co-worker.” — Peter Awad, GoodBlogs

No: The Risk of Losing The Relationship Is too Great

“While I love my family, starting a business is a risky proposition. While it’s nice to think about the upside of your family getting rich, I prefer to think about hedging risk. The downside of losing money — and possibly a friend if there is contention — is too great to ignore.” — Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

Maybe: Only if You Can Separate Personal and Business

“Working with family can be great, and it can be terrible. If you and your potential co-working family members have the ability to completely separate personal and business, it can work well. But if you can’t, which is really difficult, it can be disastrous. If you do indeed take the plunge, it’s important you understand that other workers will view your relationship as if there is special treatment.” — Adam Callinan, Beachwood Ventures

No: People Are Different at Home and at Work

“The people you know and love in the family room can be polar opposites of themselves when they’re sitting in a conference room. People sometimes act differently in the workplace, and you might not like what you see or hear. If you value your family relationships, be prepared to experience another side of your family that you haven’t seen. Depending on the person, this could be a good or bad thing.” — Brett Farmiloe, Markitors

Yes: Family Will Stick With You Through Good and Bad

“Family is the strongest bond that you will ever make in your life. Friends may come and go at their own convenience, but family will stick through the good and the bad, which naturally make good business partnerships. However, you need to set clear expectations up front to ensure that each family member involved understands what’s expected of him or her.” — Andy Karuza, SpotSurvey

TIME Careers & Workplace

8 Guaranteed Ways to Become the Most Proactive Person You Know

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Use these steps to make your business goals more manageable

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This story was originally published on StartupCollective.

One of the things I often tell my team is, “Be proactive in your own becoming.” This sounds like a weird phrase at first, but when you break it down, it makes sense — and it will put you on the path of achievement.

In short, being proactive in your own becoming is a mix of hustle and problem-solving. I have broken it down into eight key points. Some of them are based on words of wisdom from mentors, and some of them are based on my own experiences. All together, they create a clear path to success.

It’s All About You

No one else is going to get you where you want to go – it’s up to you. Your family and friends are a support system, but that is all they are supposed to be for you. They cannot succeed for you. Only you can do that. Take ownership of your problems, and realize that nobody else is going to solve them for you.

Be Solution-Focused

One of the greatest traits of effective people is good problem-solving skills. We are all going to run into problems. It’s how you handle them that makes you effective. The most effective way to handle a problem is to focus on finding a solution. Focusing on things that are out of your control is a waste of time, so focus on what you can control with the final outcome. Your team will learn to approach problems and solutions effectively if you lead by example.

Be Accountable

Your level of accountability for completing tasks is really important. One of my favorite books is “Predictable Revenue” by Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler. Their approach to achieving goals is both simple and effective: set your goal and then work backwards from that goal to establish metrics to track and evaluate it.

It’s important to have a clearly defined goal that is quantifiable so you can determine if you actually reached it or not. For example, a goal to “get in shape” does not make sense. What does that mean? When are you “in shape?” A goal to “run a mile in under 10 minutes” is something you can physically measure and attain.

Use “SMART” Goals

This acronym has been around for a long time and its meaning varies, but the basic concept works across all areas of life. This is the version I use to set goals:

S: Specific (Pick something particular instead of using a broad category.)

M: Measurable (Choose something you can quantify.)

A: Attainable (You should actually be able to reach this, and it may just require the right steps.)

R: Realistic (Be honest – it’s probably unrealistic to say you will go from making $10,000 to being a billionaire in one year.)

T: Timely (Give each goal a timeframe to create a sense of urgency.)

Make Your Own Luck

Being successful is not about having the right kind of luck or expecting the right break to come your way. It is not about the mere expectation that you will succeed. It is about taking steps every day to be better than you were the day before by moving in a positive, forward trajectory. Make a blueprint and set out milestones for yourself in specific timeframes, or you are not going to hit your goal. Things do not come to fruition just because you really, really want them to happen. You have to make them happen.

Be Consistent

Ultimately, success is not about getting everything right. It is about being consistent. Are you consistently and persistently taking steps every day to steadily move toward your goal? Do you stop making progress or do you continue on when you encounter a seemingly insurmountable problem? Be consistent in what you do. And even though the steps may seem small at the time, doing the right things day in and day out will move you further down the path to success.

Find the Right People

Surrounding yourself with driven, effective people is a proven way to help you succeed. Proximity can be an excellent motivator. You get to choose between driven people and people who will drag you down. You cannot have both and expect to succeed. You cannot spend time with lazy people all day and also achieve your daily goals. Lazy people are like quicksand. They bog you down slowly without you knowing it, until you wake up one day and realize you are consumed by laziness.

Honesty Is the Best Policy

Be humble and take a hard look at what you are doing and how you are doing it. Be completely honest with yourself about what is not working instead of making excuses. It is easy to stay busy and tell yourself you are taking the right steps, but it is harder to be honest if you are not actually making progress. At the end of the day, if you don’t hit your goals, you are only doing a disservice to yourself. You cannot get better if you tell yourself, “Oh, it’s okay, I’m fine where I am.”

Living by this approach has made all the difference in my success. Did I miss something you think is important? Please comment on what has worked for you.

TIME Careers & Workplace

4 Super Simple Ways to Save Huge Amounts of Time

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You don’t need additional hours in a day to get more done

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This story was originally published on StartupCollective.

How do some entrepreneurial leaders get more done in a day than the rest of us?

Here are four simple strategies, used by the world’s most successful people, that will increase your productivity and save you an hour — or more — each day:

1. Reduce Decision Fatigue

Decisions are costly.

Making an unnecessary decision not only wastes time while you’re doing it, it also saps mental energy for later, which means the next decision you have to make will take even longer.

Save your decision-making power for things that actually matter by reducing the need to make decisions on mundane tasks you repeat everyday. The more things you can put on autopilot, the more efficient you will be throughout the day.

President Obama wears the same color suit all the time because he doesn’t want to waste a decision on thinking about what he should put on each day. Steve Jobs was another famous example of a leader who wore the same thing everyday, as is Mark Zuckerberg.

But wearing a uniform is not the only way to reduce decision fatigue.

For those who prefer a bit of wardrobe variety, try finding other parts of your daily routine that could benefit from some decision-trimming, like what you eat for breakfast and lunch.

Find a routine that works for you, and save your mental energy for the stuff that counts.

2. Go on an Internet Diet

Focus, focus, focus. You probably know you should be focusing on just one thing at a time because you’re unlikely to be one of the lucky 2 percent who can actually multitask effectively. But odds are that you’re multitasking more often than you should be, and that it’s killing your productivity.

There is one very simple way to get yourself to focus on the task at hand: unplug.

You may be wondering how that’s even possible in this day and age, but the truth is that many of the world’s most successful people are able to achieve so much precisely because they’re better at unplugging than the rest of us.

Some people go to great lengths to avoid wasting time browsing the Internet. George R. R. Martin, for example, writes on a DOS computer that has no Internet access at all.

Unplugging entirely may not be practical if your work requires you to use the Internet, like it does for many of us. But that doesn’t mean you have to be constantly checking email, Twitter, Facebook and Reddit, all at the same time, and all while trying to get some real work done.

Try scheduling designated times during which you allow yourself to read email or social media, and be disciplined about keeping your browser tabs closed otherwise.

3. Just Say No

Most of us are bombarded with requests for our time. It can be tempting to say ‘yes’ to every interesting opportunity that comes your way, and tell yourself you’ll just buckle down and work harder to fit it all in. But overcommitment is the enemy of productivity.

You can’t do it all.

Instead of letting yourself be pressured into overcommitting, have the courage to say no more often than you say yes.

Sheryl Sandberg ruthlessly prioritizes in her own life by being proactive about deciding what matters most to her, at the beginning of every month, and saying no to anything that does not fit within that.

4. Get a Hammock

When was the last time you let yourself swing aimlessly in a hammock, and just do nothing for a while?

Most of us only allow ourselves that sort of luxury when we’re on vacation, because swinging in a hammock seems like an utter waste of time. But giving your mind time to wander aimlessly can actually be great for productivity.

We often think that high-powered CEOs are going nonstop from morning to night, but many of them are careful to fit ‘lazy time’ into their crazy schedules.

Arianna Huffington is a big believer in the power of breaks to improve productivity, so much so that she’s had nap rooms built at the Huffington Post office.

So next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a break — go for a walk, swing in a hammock, listen to music, take a nap, have a beer. Do something that will allow you to truly relax.

You might be surprised by how much more you’re able to accomplish with a fresh mind.

TIME Careers & Workplace

Yes There’s a Secret to Success, And It’s This

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Don’t let past successes lull you into putting tradition before innovation

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This story was originally published on StartupCollective.

Tradition is safe, easy and has brought your business success at some point. So why change it now?

All too often, the urge to uphold existing methods can be detrimental to a company’s growth. Times change, and if you want your business to stay current it has to change with them or risk being left behind.

Just look at Google. In the late ’90s, Microsoft dominated the PC space to the point that there was an antitrust suit leveled against it for bundling Internet Explorer with Windows. A few years later, Google exploded onto the scene when it revolutionized the search engine. It wasn’t long before the technology giant created Chrome, one of the most popular web browsers out there, busting the myth that a browser coupled with an operating system restricts competition.

If Google hadn’t broken this tradition, it probably wouldn’t be the massive, influential company it is today. But this isn’t just for giants. Your company can successfully break tradition and achieve tremendous growth, too.

Identifying Outdated Practices

When you’re analyzing where to abandon tradition to pursue growth and innovation, there are three main things you should do:

  1. Examine your industry. Identify traditions and ways of doing things that are begging for re-examination.
  2. Look internally. Find practices that once made perfect sense but have become unnecessary or detrimental due to company and industry maturation.
  3. Get help. Involve your employees, customers and stakeholders in uncovering traditions that are no longer serving you well. As a leader within the organization, sometimes you’re too close to the traditions to spot the outdated ones. When you involve employees and customers in the discussion, they might recognize opportunities for growth that you would not have seen.

Moving Forward

Once you’ve identified the traditions that must evolve or be left behind, there are a few things you need to do before moving forward:

  • Determine whether a tradition is still valuable. Sometimes, long-standing traditions still offer a great deal of value and don’t need to be done away with entirely — just revamped. In other cases, traditions have to be gently moved to the museum. Be intentional about deciding whether or not traditional practices are still useful.
  • Remember that change is not an attack on the past. Just about every process and method can be refined, leading to waste elimination, reduced cycle time, improved customer satisfaction and a number of other benefits. The initial difficulty is sometimes simply recognizing that there might be a better way of doing things. But just because there’s a better way of doing things doesn’t mean that people were doing it incorrectly up until that point. Be careful to honor the past, but also learn from it.
  • Rely on an expert. Once they recognize the need for change, many business leaders struggle because they don’t have the in-house expertise and resources needed to implement that change. You may need to call in someone from the outside who can guide and train your staff to carry the torch and continue changing for the better.

Change is scary, difficult and there’s no guarantee that it will bring success. So why do it now?

When you let go of unnecessary traditions, you’re seizing the opportunity to push your business into the future. If you involve your staff, customers and stakeholders in the initial evaluation of what needs to be improved, it will be much easier to identify weak areas and develop innovative ways to revamp them. It’s risky, but it’s worth it. The proof will be in your bottom line.

TIME Careers & Workplace

9 Ways to Take Your Networking to the Next Level

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With a few pointers, anyone can leverage the power of networking to improve their business

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This story was originally published on StartupCollective.

Question: Share one great tip and/or tool for networking.

Give a Handshake and Repeat the Person’s Name

“Give a firm handshake as an initial impression. Say the person’s name three times in your first conversation, and it is likely that you will always remember his or her name.” — Eddie Lou, Shiftgig

Use Bizzabo

Bizzabo is an excellent app to use at networking events. Often at those events, it’s hard to know which people would be the most beneficial for you to meet. Bizzabo solves exactly that problem and lets you easily connect with other people.” — Ben Lang, Mapme

Find the Most Interesting Person

“Networking is sometimes a drag, but I always approach it like an investigator: I try to figure out what makes someone tick, what they are passionate about or what they have to offer the world. Pick an individual and try to figure out why he or she is the most interesting person in the room. Approached from this angle, it almost becomes a game, and you win when you have put the pieces together.” — Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer, AirPR

Follow up Consistently

“The most important part of networking happens after an initial meeting when you have an opportunity to follow up and start to really build a relationship. If you have a great conversation with someone at an event or over coffee, be sure to pave the way for future communication. A simple thank-you message is great; offering an intro or resource related to your conversation is even better.” — Martina Welke, Zealyst

Utilize Rapportive

Rapportive is a Gmail plugin that quickly allows you to connect with everyone you email on social networks. Enter an email address, and it allows you to connect on Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, AngelList and more with one click. When doing sales, it allows you to reach the prospect via different channels, which is far more effective.” — Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff.com

Use Business Card Readers

“We collect tons of business cards at nearly every networking event we attend. To help us manage this, we use a new app from Infusionsoft (our CRM system) that allows us to scan the business cards on our iPhones and import them directly into our CRM database while also keeping notes about our interactions. It eliminates the paper clutter and helps us keep great records.” — Patrick Conley, Automation Heroes

Leverage ‘Friends’ Into Relationships

“With so much buzz about social media these days, it’s easy to lose track of one tried-and-true networking tactic: real-world interaction. By making physical, face-to-face connections with your online “friends,” you become more than just a “like” on a page. Leverage your online network into true relationships by arranging for lunch dates, social events and other opportunities for meaningful contact.” — Jay Wu, A Forever Recovery

Share Personal Interests

“Talk about your real interests that don’t include work. If you’re a less-experienced entrepreneur hoping to impress a legend in the startup space like Jason Calacanis or Steve Blank, or if you’re courting a tech writer for a story, don’t start with shop talk. You won’t get anywhere unless you’re THAT amazing. Talk to their personal interests so the connection is authentic and less transactional.” — Danny Wong, Blank Label

Offer Something in Return First

“Reverse the traditional process of networking where you ask for help and then offer something in return. Instead, show the person you want to establish a connection by demonstrating what you can do for them before inquiring about what they can do for you.” — Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

TIME Careers & Workplace

5 Common—And Disastrous—Financial Mistakes to Avoid

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Some issues are inevitable, but it’s easy to avoid these simple financial mistakes while starting and growing your business

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This story was originally published on StartupCollective.

When you’re an entrepreneur, you’re busy working every day to find your way, build your product or services, grow your company and achieve your goals. Unless you’re a financial whiz, it’s not always easy to also work out your financial plan and pin down precise numbers; sometimes important financial details can fall by the wayside. Even if you are a financial whiz, creating a financial plan and managing your finances can be challenging. But it is essential that you understand the importance of accurate financials — both for your own stability and ability to plan, and to convince and assure potential investors of the validity of your business.

As an entrepreneur, you can make many financial mistakes. However, once you know the potential missteps, you can take simple steps to avoid them. Here are the top five financial mistakes startups make and how to steer clear:

Miscalculating (or Not Calculating) Your Cash Burn

Your burn rate is the amount of capital you go through every month to keep your business running. If you don’t have a good understanding of your burn rate, you are seriously hindering your ability to achieve your milestones before your money runs out. According to Hiscox’s survey of new business owners, approximately one-third underestimated monthly expenses. Along the same lines, almost 20 percent of new business owners realized that they didn’t have enough financing. It’s all too easy to miscalculate your operational costs, so initial financial assumptions are often off. Keeping track of all of your startup expenses will minimize these miscalculations.

The first step in managing for cash flow is to create a bottom-up projection, using real-world variables. (see my previous article on Bottom-Up vs Top-Down Forecasting). Top-down forecasting can lead entrepreneurs to be overly optimistic about the sales they’ll close and the revenue they’ll earn. Bottom-up forecasting will give you a more realistic (albeit a less inspirational) gauge of how much money you’ll need to get going — and keep going.

Re-forecasting is also key. You need to account for both fixed and variable costs and continually make projections that accurately reflect the real state of your business. (For more information about managing your burn rate, see my previous article on How to Reduce Your Startup Business Burn Rate.)

Not Completely Understanding Your Market Place

If you don’t properly understand your market, you may be guilty of pricing your products/services incorrectly. Don’t merely add your costs and calculate in the margin you’d like to make. Consider your market position and the value of your offering; start with price and work backwards. In your calculations, keep coming back to the marketplace: Who is your customer? What need does your product/service fulfill? What do you have to offer? Who is your competition? And what trends may affect your market, and how?

Hiring and Expanding Too Quickly

One of the greatest expenses of any company is its people. To keep your costs low, you need to consider ways to save money on staffing. A big mistake many startups make is hiring too quickly. Having too many employees is a huge drain on your funds.

In addition to the recruitment and salary costs, there are additional physical costs such as a necessarily larger office space, equipment and supplies. There’s also the psychological cost: What will happen to these people if your company doesn’t grow and you need to lay them off? And don’t forget the all-important reputation cost as well. How will it look to investors and others if you have to disassemble your team? Instead, hire slowly as you go.

Making Bad Hires

Another key to saving on staffing costs is hiring for potential as opposed to experience. Don’t waste money hiring experience just for the sake of experience. And, whenever possible, outsource non-core competencies. For example, outsourcing your financial support frees up your time to focus on other aspects of your business. The company you hire will be responsible for making sure that you stay on track and take care of your financial obligations.

Doing Your Own Finances (When You Have No Training)

If you’ve closed a seed round of funding, have a lot of expenses, and/or are earning real revenue, you need a CFO to help you manage your finances on a strategic level. If you don’t yet have a lot of financial activity, you may not be in need of CFO services. But, at the very least, you still need some financial support with your day-to-day accounting and bookkeeping. Honestly, it will cost you more in the long run to do your own finances rather than hiring a professional from the get-go.

Note that there is no need to bring a full-time accountant and CFO on staff. If your company is still small, it makes more sense to outsource these functions, getting support on an as-needed basis while simultaneously reducing your cost structure. Just don’t do it yourself!

TIME Careers & Workplace

5 Rules for Successful Networking

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There’s more to networking than just showing up

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This story was originally published on StartupCollective.

Networking. Everyone does it — but how do you really win at it? Although Woody Allen was credited with saying that “showing up is 80 percent of life,” it’s that final 20 percent that really makes the difference. That is, it’s about how you show up.

Whether it’s the overzealous networker who tries to give everyone his card but has no clear direction of what he’s doing, or the wallflower who doesn’t meet a single person even after showing up, so many people network incorrectly that it actually works against them. With that said, here are a few easy-to-use basics to help you win the networking game.

Meet People Through Other People

The best way to meet people is through referrals. Stick around people you already know who know the people you want to meet. By being introduced through them or joining their conversations, you’ll likely receive a warm introduction to the person you really want. You’ll see this same effect on LinkedIn through their online introduction tool, or through joining the right circle at an event with somebody you know.

It’s Not About You

Although you’re trying to meet a new partner, developer or customer, you’re not going to get ahead with that kind of attitude. This is because everybody else thinks the same way, which is why they’re at the event. It’s worthwhile to go against the grain instead. If you can’t connect for yourself, think about how you can make connections for others. Listen to what people’s needs are and try to make a connection for them, even if it doesn’t benefit you. They’ll remember you the next time around and reciprocate — that’s how you utilize the power of networking.

Get Out of Your League

Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and hang out with people out of your league. I went to private executive events before I was even an executive, and when I was half the age of others in the room. No matter who you are, you can find a way to relate to people as long as you’re confident, carry yourself well and are not trying to sell yourself.

Spending time with people who are a step ahead will push you to become better, whether it’s through the advice they offer or the level at which they operate.

Don’t Sell, But Have a Good Elevator Pitch

The worst networkers try to sell or otherwise push their needs onto others. Whether it’s someone looking for a job or selling their services, they rub people the wrong way. People don’t like to be sold to — they like to buy. In order to get them to want to buy into whatever it is you’re doing, or be interested in helping you, a relatable story or connection is a must. Strike up a conversation; it will make building a connection much easier and they are more likely to trust you. Do you have a common friend? Did you work at the same company? Find common ground early in the conversation.

And when they ask you what you do, make sure you have a short-and-sweet pitch to summarize yourself. This is called an elevator pitch, and should be 30 seconds or less. I always try to make sure it’s simple and relatable to everybody, but it does change from time to time depending on the audience. If I can construct my elevator pitch to be more relatable to a specific person, I’ll pitch it that way.

Make Them Come to You

Why go to networking events hoping to meet people when you can make them all come to you? Try holding a niche networking event around your industry that will attract the type of people you’re trying to meet. Everyone will either know or want to meet the host — you — and you can influence who will actually show up. It beats going to some random event hoping you meet the right people. Not to mention that you’re likely to have a lot of acquaintances there already, allowing you to more easily meet people through them.

For example, if you’re trying to meet potential customers for your new app that serves restaurant business owners, build an event around the grand opening of a new restaurant. Sponsor the event and invite people from the industry, offering them complimentary food and wine tastings. Think, if I were this person, what would make me want to go to the event? Build your event around that compelling need.

Conclusion

So there you have it: a few basic rules you can follow to win at networking. Remember, the goal is about building relationships — the network — and a good network will pay major returns in the form of new customers, partners and opportunities. Get out there and meet people, but make sure you’re meeting people the right way. And don’t forget that in networking, it’s that last 20 percent of effort that really counts.

TIME Careers & Workplace

6 Rules Entrepreneurial Employees Swear By

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The best employees are more than just smart and self-motivated

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This story was originally published on StartupCollective.

Purpose is the engine that drives elite performance. Clearly defined goals are the tools that make achievement of purpose possible. Elite employees can tell you where they are going, how long it will take them to get there and what steps they will take along the way.

After managing a couple hundred people, I’ve noticed that elite employees are hard to find. This may be because elite employees have the mentality of elite athletes, even from their first endeavor. They know what they want and they shoot for the stars.

But in life we don’t get what we wish for. We get what we work for. To be successful, you must pursue your goals relentlessly, regardless of what others may think. To try is to risk failure — the greatest hazard you will face. The safe path would be to risk nothing. But the athlete who risks nothing, does nothing, learns nothing and has nothing.

I’ve experienced both good and bad employees, and how their actions towards work differ. Here are some rules that elite employees follow — mostly intuitively — on their journey towards goal attainment:

Rule 1: Live the Journey

This is the process of becoming who and what you want to be. You will appreciate things you achieve in your life in direct proportion to the price you pay for them.

As you travel this road, you learn much about who you are and how you can continue to achieve certain goals throughout your life. This journey is about the growth of you as an individual, not about the firsts, seconds or thirds. These will come as you remain focused on attainment. It’s something far more inwardly rewarding.

Rule 2: Defeat Doubt

Defeat doubt through belief. Action cures fear. Imagination and thoughts determine your future reality.

As Bryce Courtenay says in his book The Power of One, “The Power of One is above all things the power to believe in yourself, often well beyond any latent ability you may have previously demonstrated. The mind is the employee. The body is simply the means it uses to run faster, jump higher or perform better. Only a sustained and invincible belief in yourself will allow you to maintain your integrity and achieve the goals you have set for yourself.”

Don’t hold yourself back because you haven’t done something before. If you believe you can do something, you probably can.

Rule 3: Don’t Get Stuck in the Muck

Quite simply, this means staying focused. Once you begin the journey, see it through to the end. Show grit. Three important factors to consider:

  • Attraction: Focus on what you want and move towards it with drive and determination. Exhibit an unwavering work ethic.
  • Distraction: Know what you don’t like and move away from it.
  • Reflection: Objectively assess what you have to change to reach the top.

Rule 4: Embrace Problems

If you don’t have any problems, then your goals might be too small. Realize that if what you are trying to achieve was easy, everyone would be doing it and it wouldn’t be special. The problems you will face represent opportunities in that they identify areas for you to grow. In the end, you will appreciate your victories substantially more due to the work you put into overcoming them.

Rule 5: Lead Rather Than Follow

If you are doing what everyone else is doing, you will end up where everyone else is going. Elite employees are willing to do what most other employees are not. In other words, it takes someone special to be someone special. Ask yourself this question: Are you doing enough to “just get by,” or are you actively investing in getting better?

Rule 6: Find Champions for Your Cause

Realize that in order to reach your pinnacle you need help along the way. You need direction, reassurance, resources and maybe even someone to light your path. You must surround yourself with people who believe in you. Find individuals who will champion your cause.

Although goals provide the motivation — and form the reason and incentive — that directs our activity, it is the work we put in that makes us great. The best employees know this, and invest in themselves to move step by step closer to their goals.

TIME Careers & Workplace

How to Turn Life’s Disappointments Into Success Stories

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In work and in life, disappointment is often inevitable. Turn life’s curveballs into your success stories

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This story was originally published on StartupCollective.

Life is full of surprises that aren’t always the kind we would wish for. What makes these unwanted surprises even harder to accept is our attachment to the way we expected things to go. This particular brand of discomfort — the kind fueled by a life drunk with expectations and the resulting crash from failing to meet them — is profoundly sobering and uncomfortable. I call it an Expectation Hangover®, which I define in my latest book, “Expectation Hangover: Overcoming Disappointment in Work, Love and Life,” as:

The myriad undesirable feelings or thoughts present when one or a combination of the following things occurs:

  • A desired outcome does not occur.
  • A desired outcome does occur but does not produce the feelings or results we expected.
  • Our personal and/or professional expectations are unmet by ourselves or another.
  • An undesired, unexpected event occurs that is in conflict with what we wanted or planned.

The symptoms are similar, but far more miserable and lasting, to those caused by a hangover from alcohol: lethargy, depression, lack of motivation, confusion, denial, anger, poor work performance, diminished creativity, strained relationships, social withdrawal, low self-esteem, regret and a disconnection from a higher power. But when our expectations are met, we feel a sense of accomplishment and pride. Often risking little, we feel safe, in control and on-track. Achieving our goals is intoxicating. We are compelled toward them, sometimes disregarding the underlying motivations that come from our ego. While striving for goals has value, holding expectations and attachment to the way life “should” go sets the stage for disappointment.

Most of us don’t like it when our life seems to miss the memo on how we think things should be. But the truth is that the universe doesn’t miss anything. When we keep fighting for what we think we want, never slowing down enough to actually learn the lesson that our expectation hangover is attempting to teach, we’re too drunk with expectations to notice when we are headed in the wrong direction. The result? We continue to wake up with expectation hangovers.

So how do you treat them? It takes a lot more than two aspirin, some greasy food and staying inside with the lights low. Because we don’t like not feeling good, and so we look for an external way to ease the discomfort: rebound relationships, abrupt career changes or miscalculated risks, and addictions (drinking, gambling, sex, drugs, work, shopping) are common. We lose faith and sink into the quicksand of victim-hood and hopelessness.

Instead of thinking about how to rid yourself of an expectation hangover, consider how you can leverage it. Ask, “What am I learning?” rather than “Why is this happening?” Keep your mind out of judgment, regret and shoulda-coulda-woulda thinking. Think about some of the most inspirational people you know. I guarantee that part of what makes them so inspirational is how they leveraged their hangovers for growth and learning. Instead of perceiving something as a failure, they used what they learned to to create their next success. Your expectation hangovers are gifts. Each one has been an opportunity to let go of something external that you have clung to for worth, safety or love. If you learn how to respond to expectation hangovers from the perspective of a student rather than a victim, I guarantee you will walk through doorways of transformation.

TIME Careers & Workplace

11 Ways to Overcome Your Fear of Failure

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Business failure won’t determine your future. Your response to it will

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This story was originally published on StartupCollective.

Question: What’s one piece of advice you have for other entrepreneurs struggling with the fear of failure?

Know That You Can Bounce Back

“Donald Trump famously filed for bankruptcy four separate times. By no means am I saying this should be part of your business plan, but as a worst-case scenario, it’s affirming to know that you can bounce back. In any business venture, the key is to ensure the business is structured such that your personal assets are insulated from the company so that you can always live to fight another day.” — Matt Ehrlichman, Porch

Don’t Waste Your Energy

“Let’s be straight: nobody wants to fail. But not wanting to fail and fearing failure are not the same. One is an attitude, the other is a mindset. If you are truly fearful of failure, you are wasting needed energy on something that has no benefit. Take that energy and redirect it toward iterating your current processes or diversifying your revenue stream so that failure is less of an option.” — Adam Callinan, Beachwood Ventures

Don’t Allow It to Stop You

“It’s been said that success is only a few steps after failure, but most people give up after they “fail” and never get there. If you can see failure through that lens and not allow the judgment of others or yourself to stop you, then you can make it to success!” — Darrah Brustein, Network Under 40 / Finance Whiz Kids

Don’t Be Afraid to Reach out for Help

“Entrepreneurship can be a struggle, but you don’t have to go through it alone. Knowing who to turn to when you need advice will help make the lows more bearable. When co-founders and investors may be unable to help, try to seek out an experienced entrepreneur distant enough from the business to offer the advice you need (whether it’s personal or professional).” — Tyler Arnold, SimplySocial Inc.

Consider the Worst-Case Scenario

“When I left my job to start my company, I evaluated the absolute worst-case scenario that could result from making this move. When you stop and think about the worst that could happen, it’s usually much less scary than when it was unknown. The fear of a business failing is an issue for your ego, but failing as a person can only happen if you don’t try in the first place.” — Chris Hunter, Phusion Projects

Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

“Being an entrepreneur is all about feeling uncomfortable but moving forward anyway. Learn to appreciate your discomfort, and wear it like a badge of courage. Celebrate your fear of failure, and you will eventually disempower it.” — Corey Blake, Round Table Companies

Learn From Your Mistakes to Prevent Failure

“The only time you fail is when you don’t learn from your mistake. If you’ve learned a lesson in defeat, then go back out and apply your new knowledge. I’ve made tons of mistakes, but I’ve had very few “failures” because I make those missteps valuable experiences.” — Nick Friedman, College Hunks Hauling Junk

Be Afraid

“If you aren’t afraid anymore, then you aren’t pushing your boundaries anymore either. That little twinge of fear of failure means you just might be onto something, or you’re at least heading in the right direction. Embrace that fear, and use it as fuel to take the next big steps.” — James Simpson, GoldFire Studios

Fail Fast

“There are two big benefits from trying and failing quickly. Number one is that you can quickly figure out what isn’t working and iterate to find a new solution that is better. Number two is that each failure lessens the sting a bit, so the quicker you can get acclimated to the idea that not everything will work, the better.” — Patrick Conley, Automation Heroes

Talk About It

“Too often, entrepreneurs feel they must be eternally optimistic, particularly in front of employees, customers and investors. It’s essential to have trusted confidantes with whom you can be completely honest — for better or worst — and talk through some of your biggest challenges and deepest fears.” — Martina Welke, Zealyst

Be Humble

“An entrepreneur’s success is laced with failure. A first failure teaches us the humility we need to be successful. The sooner you fail, the sooner you realize you don’t have all of the answers. You get hungry, and you work harder. You seek advice, you share stories, and you connect with people. It helps you control your emotions because you’ve been there befor. And ultimately, it keeps you humble.” — Jonathan Boyle, Guns & Oil Beer Co.

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