TIME Careers & Workplace

10 Reasons You Are Not a Millionaire Yet

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You think other people can succeed but not you

Many people out there desperately want to be millionaires, and why wouldn’t they? While money may not buy happiness it can buy a better, less stressful and more fulfilled life. However, before you can be a millionaire you need to have the right strategy and know the reasons why you haven’t met this goal already.

Everybody who wants to be millionaire but isn’t has excuses. “I didn’t pick the right career,” “I can’t afford the schooling,” or “I don’t have time.” These are not reasons, but just excuses and excuses only get in the way of your success. Here are 10 reasons why people do not become millionaires.

1. You have no one guiding you in the right direction.

You need to surround yourself with positive people. Most importantly, you need to find someone you can trust that will help guide you in the right direction. The people you trust most should be the ones pushing you towards success. This is one advantage I did not have early on. I am entirely self-taught, which is why I have created my mentoring program to give that advantage to others.

2. You aren’t willing to make sacrifices.

You really cannot have your cake and eat it too, there are things that you will need to give up. If you can’t sacrifice things like hanging with friends or going out and partying in order to focus on your career, then you will never get the financial success you have been looking for.

3. You fear failure.

You will fail, you will make mistakes, and you need to learn to get over it. If you fear failure, you will never overcome it.

4. Your goals aren’t clear, so neither are your actions.

If you don’t have a clear goal in mind and clear action steps in place to reach that goal, you will never become a millionaire. Take the time to do the planning and do it right.

5. You think other people can succeed but not you.

Believe that you can succeed. Visualize yourself as that successful man or woman who you once envied. If you visualize yourself being a millionaire success, and truly believe it can happen, you are one step closer to your goal.

6. You think your background or location prevents your success.

Nothing can prevent you from success. Lets repeat that: nothing can prevent you from success.

7. You aren’t using the Internet.

The Internet has changed the world and it continues to change the world. If you aren’t using, you aren’t taking advantage of one of the most powerful money making tools out there.

8. You rationalize money can’t buy happiness and forget that it can buy freedom.

Money is your ticket to the freedom so many people want in this world. Freedom can lead to happiness. To find your motivation focus on the freedom that money can buy you.

9. You hang out with the wrong crowd.

The people around you should be your support system. They should be the people there for you, pushing you and keeping you positive and focused. Your crowd of friends and family should not be distractions or negative in any way. If they are, it is time to find a new crowd.

10. You play long shots like the lotto instead of building your skill set.

Building your own skill set and knowledge base is better for you in the long term. Sure, it takes more time and more work but it can lead you to the long-term success that you desire.

Keep these reasons in mind when you are working towards your next professional goal. You will see first hand what you are capable of if you just put these reasons off to the side and focus instead on your path towards becoming a millionaire.

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com

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Why Trusting Your ‘Gut Feeling’ Is Often the Best Strategy

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The brain uses a combination of logic and emotion when making decisions of any kind

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There is no such thing as a purely logical decision. The brain uses a combination of logic and emotion when making decisions of any kind. That specific emotion, innate to us as humans, is intuition. We possess the capacity to feel, and thereby the ability to know things without consciously reasoning. The “gut feeling” is real, and we use it all the time.

“Going with our gut,” however, implies uncertainty and does not guarantee a good outcome. Sometimes all the hard information we need is right there for us, and we can rely on logic without leaning too much on our gut instincts. But when it’s not, wouldn’t it be nice to know that our gut gives better than a 50/50 chance of success?

Gary Player, the golf legend, often tells this story. Years ago, he was practicing in a bunker and an onlooker approached just in time to see Player hole a sand shot. The onlooker yelled, “Fifty bucks if you do that again,” and Player stepped up and holed the second shot. The guy yelled, “OK, $100 if you do it again.” Sure enough, the third shot went in. As he was paying up, the onlooker said, “I’ve never seen anyone so lucky in my entire life,” to which Player replied, “Well, the more I practice the luckier I get!”

I think we can sharpen our intuition just as a golfer sharpens his or her skills. Gary Player’s dedication to practice increased the probability of success for any given shot. To hone intuition, it’s all about giving our brain more emotional information to work with through life experience to increase the probability of success for any given gut decision. Basically, the more we experience the more accurate our guts become.

Our brains record it all; every meeting, client interaction, presentation, and personal decision. With every experience, the cache of information our brains have at their disposal grows. Think of a jigsaw puzzle. Your brain’s job is to decide what the image is, but it only has one of the 100 pieces to the puzzle. With every relevant experience, another puzzle piece becomes available. Soon, the brain will have enough information to identify the image.

Within an organization, there is a variety of thinking preferences which are naturally intuitive in different ways:

Social thinkers tend to be intuitive by nature. This makes sense, as their thinking revolves around people and relationships, which are not exactly quantifiable. Generally, you can feel good about trusting the social thinkers’ guts when it comes to people-related issues.

Conceptual thinkers may not be able to “show their work” or otherwise explain why they know something. Having a lot of conceptual thinking in your brain is like being the person who could answer the math problem without showing the teacher how you arrived at the answer. They just know. The dots are all connected inside their mind. As long as they understand, that’s good enough.

Analytical thinkers are the opposite of social thinking with regard to intuition. After all, why on earth would anyone make a decision based on anything but sound logic and data analysis? They’d rather have all the information and make a decision from there. But when they have to go with their guts they are actually more accurate than they think because their gut filters through the logical neural-pathways of their brain.

Structural thinkers are often intuitive about time and dates. They are likely to have a good sense of how long a project will take, how long a meeting will last, or what time to leave for an appointment across town. Don’t have a structural preference? Pay attention to someone in your office/home who does. They have the innate ability to understand these things and can help prevent you from putting too many things to do in one day.

That’s what is going on in your brain. But what happens when you try to communicate your gut response or actions to other people? Your behavioral preferences are how you manifest your intuition.

  • 1/3 of the Expressiveness Spectrum: Just because you are not speaking does not mean you have nothing to say. Having that gut feeling may be distressing for you because you have the idea but you’d prefer to internally process the gut reaction before outwardly communicating it. If normally remaining quiet and introspective is your preference, try stepping out of your comfort zone by sharing your gut feeling.
  • 3/3 of the Expressiveness Spectrum: You like to speak your mind on a team or in a group, but be weary of not putting too much faith in just your gut feeling or people may not take your thoughts seriously.
  • 1/3 of the Assertiveness Spectrum: If your gut tells you that the project is not going the right direction, pay attention to your gut feeling. As a natural peacekeeper, you’re likely to ignore your gut for the sake of not rocking the boat. But just think about how you’ll feel if the plan doesn’t pan out- you’ll end up wishing you had rocked the boat earlier on.
  • 3/3 of the Assertiveness Spectrum: Driving the right ideas in a meeting for you is almost the same as always going with your gut. But with your forceful preferences, it is important to give others the chance who are not as outspoken the opportunity to speak their minds too. Sometimes the best way to follow your gut feeling is to take a step back and see all parts of the argument to make sure yours is credible.
  • 1/3 of the Flexibility Spectrum: Once your gut tells you that this is the right direction, you will be focused on what track to follow. Your unwavering focus does not mean you’re closed to change, but that you require a lot of credible information to change your mind from your gut feeling.
  • 3/3 of the Flexibility Spectrum: For someone who is very accommodating, you may often second-guess your own intuition. Pay attention to your gut feeling and don’t try to question that feeling because often times it is the right move.

Each of us can still hone our intuition even if we don’t have a strong thinking preference one way or another. For instance, someone without a dominant Social preference still has some level of Social intuition that will be enhanced by every interaction with people. In general, any experience is a good experience, and the more we have of them, the more accurate our gut feelings become.

This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article above was originally published at Inc.com

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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 Fast Food

Here’s What a $15 Per Hour Wage Means For Fast Food Prices

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Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Here’s What a $15 Per Hour Wage Means For Fast Food Prices

A new study shows how it could affect consumer costs

As New York State moved closer to approving a $15 per hour wage for fast food workers last week, there was speculation about what such a hike would mean for consumers. A new study provides this answer: prices will increase ever so slightly.

Researchers at Purdue University’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management found that raising pay for fast food restaurant workers to $15 an hour—the minimum wage that cities like Seattle and San Francisco have already adopted—would result in an estimated 4.3% increase in prices at those restaurants. That means the price of a $3.99 Big Mac would jump to $4.16. The study also found that offering health care benefits to fast food workers at restaurants with fewer than 25 full-time employees would have a minimal effect on prices because of current tax credits in the Affordable Care Act.

The study also examined the potential price fallout of a $22 per hour wage—the pay rate of the average American in the private sector, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics. That hike would cause a 25% increase in prices, the study says.

The Purdue researchers relied on data from the National Restaurant Association for the study and examined information from Healthcare.gov to determine the price impact of offering health-care insurance.

“There were no surprises. We thought prices would go up. We just wanted to know how much they would go up if you raise pay and offer health insurance,” said Richard Ghiselli, professor and head of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management in the study release. “The other way to look at this if you don’t want to raise the prices is to examine the impact on product size. As expected, a hamburger would be much smaller.”

TIME Careers & Workplace

5 Behaviors to Avoid for Happiness and Success

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Learn to get out of your own way for greatness

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What’s the secret to happiness and achievement? Sometimes it’s not so much what you do as what you stop doing. That’s the lesson behind some of the talks in TED’s playlist Counterintuitive Career Advice. The whole playlist includes 12 great talks, but the ones I love the most tell you what not to do–and show how most people hold themselves back from greatness.

Spend a little time watching these great speakers and you’ll learn some priceless lessons about getting out of your own way:

1. Stop making excuses.

Why You Will Fail to Have a Great Career,” by economics professor Larry Smith, may well be my favorite TED talk of all time. He tells the audience what he tells his students–that instead of reaching for greatness, they will find excuses for failing to pursue their dreams. From “I’m not a genius” to “I value my relationships too much,” he demolishes every one of these excuses and then some. And he will leave you feeling extraordinarily inspired.

2. Stop being so agreeable.

Going along to get along is a powerful, deep-seated human instinct, explains Margaret Heffernan, author of Willful Blindness, in the thought-provoking talk “Dare to Disagree.” But resisting is well worth it, because agreeableness can literally be lethal. Heffernan uses real-world examples to illustrate the danger of staying silent when you believe something’s wrong, and the good things that can happen when we accept conflict and disagreement as the valuable tools they are.

3. Stop expecting to succeed all the time.

Success is only momentary, argues art historian Sarah Lewis (pictured) in “Embrace the Near Win.” And even the most talented and skilled among us only achieve success some of the time. She learned this from looking at an artist’s early–and not-quite-satisfactory–paintings, and by watching an archery team work hard for three hours and only sometimes hit the bull’s-eye.

“Success motivates us, but a near-win can propel us in an ongoing quest,” she explains. So celebrate your near-wins and your almost-achievements. They’re an important part of the journey to where you want to be.

4. Stop giving up too soon.

What’s the best predictor of success? It isn’t talent, skill, or intelligence. It’s grit–that enduring ability to get up and try again after you’ve failed, and to continue believing that you can always do better next time. That observation comes from psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth in her talk “The Key to Success? Grit.”

“Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals,” she says.”Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality.” How do you build grit? The best answer so far is something called a “growth mindset”–the recognition that our ability to learn and grow isn’t set but can improve with our effort. Next time you fail, keep that in mind and know that, if you keep working at it, you’re certain to do better next time.

5. Stop looking for quick answers.

“It is striking to see how big of an overlap there is between the dreams that we have and projects that never happen,” declares Brazilian entrepreneur and educator Bel Pesce in “5 Ways to Kill Your Dreams.” We kill our dreams, she explains, when we expect to succeed overnight, when we look to others for answers or blame them for our failures, and when we slack off after achieving what seems like enough success.

But there’s one other way to kill our dreams, she says–focusing only on the dream and not on the process it takes to get there. “Yes, you should enjoy the goals themselves,” she explains. “But people think that you have dreams and whenever you get to reaching one of those dreams, it’s a magical place where happiness will be all around.”

It doesn’t work that way, she says. Achieving a dream is only a momentary sensation, much like when mountaineers work hard to reach a mountain peak, only to start back down a few minutes later. “The only way to really achieve all of your dreams is to fully enjoy every step of the journey,” she says.

This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article above was originally published at Inc.com

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MONEY job hunting

How Do You Actually Land Your Dream Job?

What is it that makes you excited about getting up in the morning?

What do you really love doing? Here’s how to figure out and land your dream job.

Talk to your network. Ask your friends. They know you well; ask what skills they see you with. You’ll likely hear things you take for granted about yourself.

Don’t do anything rash. Go slowly. Do your homework.

Research. Find out what’s out there right now you could be good at. Then, find out if you need some kind of professional licensing. If you do, go get it.

Try it out. Go and do the job pro-bono and find out how you like it. Get a sense of how well you fit in.

In order to make a huge industry switch, it’s good to allow three to five years to lay the groundwork and ensure you’re ready to launch.

Read next: How to Ace Any Interview and Land the Job of Your Dreams

TIME Shell

Here’s Why Oil Giant Shell Is Slashing Thousands of Jobs

Company sees a ‘prolonged downturn’ in the oil industry

There was no sugar coating on Shell’s earnings report Thursday: “Today’s oil price downturn could last for several years,” the company said.

In reporting a 25% decline in net income in the second quarter, the company said it would be combating the “prolonged downturn” in the oil industry by slashing 6,500 staff and contractor jobs this year and reducing capital investment by $7 billion or 20%. The company employs 94,000 worldwide. Shell’s dreary outlook on Thursday comes after its prediction in April that oil prices would return to $90 per barrel in three years. Crude oil has slumped 50% in the last year—at one point hitting a six-year low.

Shell isn’t alone in trying to grapple with cheap oil. This week Chevron said it would cut 1,500 jobs in an effort to cut costs by $1 billion. Likewise, ConocoPhillips said it’s continuing layoffs as it tries to reduce spending by $1 billion over two years.

Graves & Co., an energy consulting firm, estimates that the energy sector has lost 50,000 in the past three months—that’s on top of the 100,000 layoffs since oil prices began to tumble last fall.

TIME Careers & Workplace

The 1 Thing to Avoid If You Want to Be Successful in Life

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Don't let the looks of skepticism get to you

It is the mid 1980s, and I am 27 years old. For the last six years, I’ve been selling my handmade soft sculptures on the street, at state fairs, and eventually, in a retail store. I’ve been learning how to create products people want. But it’s still been a tough way to make a living. And I’m beginning to feel like I may have hit rock bottom.

My friends and family have begun to side-eye me. In their eyes, it’s time for me to grow up — time to get with the program, time to get a “real” job. They are very kind, but I can tell they think I’m a loser. They have good jobs and they’re getting married and buying houses. I’m chasing my dream. At the moment, I also happen to be sleeping on a friend’s couch and my car has just broken down.

They couldn’t envision how my future was going to turn out, but I had faith. I knew my path was never going to be as straight as theirs. I believed deep down that what I was learning would be important later on. I felt sure of one thing: If I could create a living working with my hands, I’d be the richest man in the world. In my eyes, I was simply experiencing a bump in the road — a small detour.

We all hit rock bottom, don’t we? Thankfully, I met someone who believed in me. Susan thought I was talented. She saw something in me that others could not. She let me live with her so that I could start over, and for that I will never be able to thank her enough.

Susan’s apartment in Fremont was brimming with stuffed animals. She had teddy bears of all different sizes as well as farm animals like cows and sheep. She loved the soft sculptures I had created and collected those as well.

One day, Susan asked if I could design a bear. I told her no, I wasn’t a patternmaker — all soft sculpture was done by hand. “Try,” she implored.

So I did. I started studying the dimensions of one of her teddy bears. I needed to teach myself how pattern pieces could be sewn together to create 3-D objects. I took its measurements. Then I reached for paper, started cutting shapes out of it, and began taping them together. It struck me that I could just as easily sculpt in paper.

Inspired, I quickly moved on to color construction paper and built a fish modeled after the character Cleo, the goldfish in Pinocchio. To my delight, it looked absolutely amazing! I stuffed it with paper tissue to give it more dimension. Later that day, Susan took apart the fish and laid out the pieces of paper I had used to create it on shimmering fabric. Together, we created the first plush animal I had ever designed. I was hooked.

My world changed that day. Companies had been selling plush animals forever, and all of a sudden, I had a marketable skill.

For the next month, I created paper sculptures of everything from ducks to dogs to bears — you name it. Working with paper was extremely satisfying, because it was so forgiving. If I made a mistake, well, I could simply keep trimming and then tape the pieces together again to get closer to the right shape. I could shape, cut, tape, reshape, cut again and tape over and over again. I was working with my hands, and I loved being able to transform an idea into a product so quickly. It was magical.

One day, Susan suggested that I contact Dakin, one of the largest and oldest producers of plush animals. Conveniently, the company was located just across the San Francisco Bay.

To my surprise, when I picked up the phone and asked if they needed any freelance work done, they invited me to come in right away. I can remember taking the elevator to the top floor, somewhat in awe. I brought a few photographs of my work along. They’re weren’t much, but they must have been good enough, because they handed me a swath of fabric and told me I had two weeks to design a life-size realistic-looking golden retriever.

When a door opens, stick your foot inside. For me, “fake it ‘til you make it” has always been a bit of a motto. Had I ever designed anything like a life-size realistic-looking golden retriever before? No. But I took a chance.

First, I started studying the structure of a golden retriever. Then I went to the library to make life-size Xerox copies. Next it was time to starting cutting paper and taping it together. If I could make the dog look good in paper, I knew it would look good in fabric. And there it was: A beautiful life-size plush version of America’s favorite dog.

Dakin couldn’t believe how good it looked either. When I held the $1,500 check they handed me, I grinned.

Having the courage to make a change is a fundamental part of being an entrepreneur. What my friends and family didn’t understand is that I had realized my handmade soft sculptures could never be mass-produced. I didn’t want to keep selling my ideas on street corners — I wanted to grow my audience. So I needed to learn about manufacturing techniques. I needed to reevaluate where I had been in order to move on.

Dakin mass-produced my Golden Retriever, which the company named Sandy. The following February, I flew to New York for Toy Fair. After the show, I stopped by FAO Schwarz, the oldest toy store in the U.S. It was cold and rainy. Inside, there was Sandy.

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com

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How to Leave a Job on Great Terms

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Offer to train your replacement

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You’ve nailed the interview, negotiated your salary, and just signed on the dotted line to accept your new job. Now, there’s just one tiny thing standing in the way of you and your sweet new gig: your old one.

When you’re job hunting, you tend to think a lot about what it takes to land a new position, but there’s a great deal to consider about the one you’re leaving, too. Even if you’d love to give your boss a piece of your mind or secretly hope that your co-workers end up on a deserted island after their next holiday cruise, it’s important to leave your job on a positive, professional note. Here’s how to do it:

Give Ample Notice

Once you know you’re leaving, set a meeting with your boss to put in your official notice. (And yes, tell your boss before you tell anyone else!) Although two weeks is standard (unless your contract says otherwise), it’s a good gesture to give more time if you know exactly the date you’ll be leaving further in advance. Most of the time, your boss will be appreciative that you’re leaving plenty of time to wrap up your projects.

Caveat: If you’ve seen your company escort employees right out the door once they give their resignation, don’t give any more notice than two weeks. In this case, it’s best to prepare yourself well in advance by tying up loose ends (i.e., downloading important files) before making your announcement.

Play it Cool

Unless you’ve just hit the Powerball, there’s a good chance that you’re going to have a long work life ahead of you. Which means that, at some point, your path will cross again with many of the people you work with.

So, no matter how happy you are about your new job, you can’t show it. First of all, no one likes a bragger (especially if they’re trying to get out of there, too). Secondly, there’s a good chance you’ll need to use your current company as a reference in the future. Do you really want your boss to remember you doing the Moonwalk down the hallway out of sheer giddiness on your last week? Probably not.

Connect with your Co-Workers

That said, once you’ve told your boss, you should announce your departure to all of the co-workers you work with—both to let them prepare for the transition, as well as to stay in touch with them after you leave. It’s appropriate to send a mass farewell email—one specific to clients and one for co-workers—letting them know where you’ll be moving on to and your relevant contact information. You don’t need to give everyone your home address or your birthday, but a personal email address orLinkedIn profile where you can be reached is a great way to show that even though you’re leaving, you’re not severing ties.

Wrap Things Up

No matter what projects you happen to be working on, make sure you complete them. Even if finishing whatever is currently on your plate requires more hours than you would like to spend on your current job, it’s your responsibility to not leave any loose ends (or, if it really can’t be wrapped up in two weeks, to leave detailed instructions). Not only for the sake of the person who will be replacing you, but because it’s important to your professional reputation to leave a job on a high and positive note. Nothing shows gratitude and accountability like a job that’s done well—and finished.

Offer to Train Your Replacement

There’s nothing a boss hates more than going through the hiring process—except having to train that new employee. And honestly, she probably doesn’t know your position as well as you do. So, if you can help with this part of your exit, then you’re winning points all around. Offer to help your boss screen resumes, sit in on interviews, work with the new employee, or create a training manual for your job. It will go a long way to leaving her with good impression once you’re gone.

Request an Exit Interview

Even if your company’s policy doesn’t include an exit interview, ask your boss for one anyway. Then, use that time to show your gratitude for the opportunities you’ve received, share what you’ve learned, and offer feedback for the next person who will fill your role. It will show that you not only took your job seriously, but that you’re grateful for the experience.

Pat Yourself on the Back

Once you’re sitting pretty in your new job and still on speaking terms with all parties involved, then you can take a breather and congratulate yourself. You did it! Just be sure to send your old job a thank-you note if they were kind enough to send you off with a going away bash and cupcakes. Showing gratitude, manners, and professionalism will make sure they’ll remember you fondly (whether or not you can say the same for them).

This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article above was originally published on The Muse

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5 Excuses That Shouldn’t Stop You From Success

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"I don’t have any experience"

I’ve heard every excuse in the book from my students about why they’re unable to turn their ideas into reality. But the only way to succeed at becoming an entrepreneur is to have the courage to take that first, small step.

Unfortunately, most of us tend to focus on everything we think we can’t do, rather than what we can do. As a result, we never even get started. It doesn’t have to be that way! I’ve listed (and rebutted) some of the most common excuses I hear below — do any of them sound familiar?

1. I don’t have any experience.

The truth is that you need less experience than you think. I bet most successful entrepreneurs would tell you they learned by doing. In fact, I think lacking experience can actually be helpful, because your fresh eyes allow you to see things differently. When I started a guitar pick company, I had never worked in the music industry before. I asked a lot of questions, used the internet to do research, found mentors in the business and recruited a partner who did have experience. But I was able to see opportunity when others couldn’t, because they were too close to the industry. They were artificially constrained by what they thought was a given — I wasn’t.

2. I don’t have any time.

Starting a company is a big commitment, I agree. It takes an incredible amount of time. But there are other ways you can bring your product ideas to life that require very little time, such as licensing an idea. I always tell my students: Don’t quit your day job, because you don’t have to. (Of course, to do so would be unnecessarily risky.) You can successfully license an idea by dedicating your lunch break and some time before and after work and on the weekends. Your licensee is going to do the heavy lifting. You just need to figure out how to get your idea to them.

3. I don’t have enough money.

Today, there are a lot of options for starting a business. If you work smart, there is always a way to do something efficiently for less. I have been cutting costs for years, from hiring college students to do graphic design work to filing for a provisional patent application myself, using excellent (and affordable) software. You can bootstrap your operation — and still be very successful. With crowdfunding, it’s never been easier.

4. Protecting my idea is expensive.

Yes, filing patents is very expensive. But that’s not your only option and it shouldn’t be a major deterrent. I cannot give legal advice, but filing a PPA is a great way to start out. (If you make less than $150,000, you can file a PPA for $65.) Filing a PPA allows you to label your idea “patent pending” for up to a year. A year is more than enough time to test the waters. Maybe you can find someone who is willing to pay for your patents.

5. Prototypes are expensive and hard to make.

Before you start thinking about needing to create a prototype, you need to determine that there’s interest in your idea by crafting a sell sheet. A sell sheet is a one-page advertisement that can be used to gauge interest in your idea. It’s very basic — just your one-line benefit statement, a rendering of your idea drawn by a graphic artist and your contact information. ELance is a great affordable resource —I’ve hired graphic designers to draw one of my product ideas for less than $100. (Always have them sign a nondisclosure agreement.) I show my sell sheet to potential investors and licensees. If they’re interested, I go about proving my idea can be made.

There’s really no good reason not to get started if you have genuine enthusiasm. Don’t let your fear of failure hold you back. If you want it bad enough, it is possible.

So what’s your excuse?

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com

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