Category Archives: Business

Adopt The 10x Mindset

By Thomas Oppong

There are no absolutes in life. And there are no givens. Everything is up for grabs. Most people dream of accomplishing something extraordinary in life. But life slips by and their most meaningful dreams slide silently to the side while they’re getting everything else done.

Grant Cardone says, “Never reduce a target. Instead, increase actions. When you start rethinking your targets, making up excuses, and letting yourself off the hook, you are giving up on your dreams!”

Operating at an exponentially higher level is exactly what you need to do better and be successful in your endeavors. But everything starts with a decision to aim higher than usual. Only those with the right mindset, attitude and skill can take advantage of the enormous human potential.

You can’t achieve extraordinary results with an ordinary mindset

“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”― Michelangelo Buonarroti

Many people are far below their expectations because they have big dreams, incredible ideas, and fantastic goals but put in little or no ACTION.

As you build on your accomplishments and your confidence grows, you will naturally want to aim higher. Now that you’ve got some momentum going, it’s time to double your effort.

Extreme success in your own terms can only be achieved by taking massive action with the 10X rule, a concept made popular by Grant Cardone.

The 10X rule is based on the idea you should figure out what you want to do, goals you want to achieve, and multiply the effort and time you think it’ll take to do by 10.

In his book, 10x Rule, The Only Difference Between Success and FailureGrant provides an awesome blueprint for how you can rise above the status quo to take “massive action” instead of behaving like everybody else and settling for average results.

“The greatest turning point of my life, both professionally and personally, was when I stopped casually waiting for success and instead started to approach it as a duty, obligation and responsibility,” says Cardone.

We have a tendency to underestimate what we can accomplish, and therefore set lower goals and not reach our full potential.

When you apply the 10x rule and mindset to your thinking, and apply it to how you act, you can do more in the shortest possible time. And you will still have time to take care of a lot of other things on your to-do list.

Stay hungry!

The idea of a 10x advantage is to aim ten times higher when you set your goals in business and life. You are probably not thinking big enough about your life’s work, projects, and what you want to achieve in your career.

A 10x mindset or goal means that if you come up short, you’ll still find yourself further along than if you had maintained your life’s current goals, visions and everything else you have planned to achieve.

Christopher Reeve once said, “So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”

And it also means that you open yourself up to bigger possibilities for the future that make it increasingly easier to make decisions and take action in the present. You can move and work your goals 10 times faster while being consistent and persistent.

But don’t underestimate how much energy and effort it will take to push things through though. Things could take longer to complete or cost more. Plan for these things you plan to focus on ahcieving more using the 10x rule.

Thinkers and dreamers are the new untouchables

“Between the great things we cannot do and the small things we will not do, the danger is that we shall do nothing.” — Adolph Monod

We’ve been conditioned to think small, simplify and to expect less and demand less from life. Don’t be subject to the tyranny of “how things have always been done”. Find your true north and push past the default.

For centuries we’ve been trained by the system to stop thinking and do as we are told. But dreamers and thinkers change the world. They don’t follow any logic. It’s hard to replace the dreamers with algorithms.

Can you build something people will look for, will talk about or something we would miss if it were gone. Think about your capacity to think creatively and exponentially. And your your capacity to provide value to others. Start seeing things from a wider and far reaching perspective.

You should start thinking big without reservations. Practice thinking about your future being 10x bigger and better, and you’ll develop a new 10x standard for viewing the world.

You can only contribute more, learn more, become more and stretch yourself and your own abilities beyond their current psychological limitations if you give yourself permission to think beyond the obvious.

Turn mindset into action

The right intentions will only get you so far. You also must act. A 10x mindset radically shifts your thinking, your decision-making, and the actions you take.

Start identifying actions that are blocking your progress toward 10x growth and get rid of them. Focus on doing even better at those things you’re already good at and stop worrying about everything you struggle with.

Tackle every project with the 10X Rule, acting like you have to succeed because your life depends on it.

Before you go…

If you enjoyed this post, you will love Postanly Weekly (my free digest of the best productivity, career and self-improvement posts). Subscribe and get a free copy of my new eBook, “The Power of One Percent Better: Small Gains, Maximum Results”. Join 23,300+ readers.

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What’s the cheapest business to start?

By Erik Tozier

I was grabbing a coffee with a friend the other day and in the coffee shop, we got into a conversation with a gentleman who started telling us about his food truck. He was going on about how they originally took a $50k loan to get the business going, and how he was spending 16 hours a day on the business. I was supportive and respectful, but not how I look to go about my businesses. 16 hours a day at the beginning, maybe 1 hour a day once it’s launched.

Brick and mortar businesses are going out of style. Brick and mortar businesses are expensive as well ($50k for a food truck with no guarantee of success!!) If you want to make it big, you have to leverage your network and the reach of the internet.

I’ll give you a few business ideas that cost less than $200 to start. Most are built around creating content and building an audience. Content creation is a great way to start a business. Essentially, build an audience, then monetize. I will also list a few others.

  • Blog (less than $50 for domain name and 12 months of hosting fees)
    • Start writing unique content on a specific niche and you will build an audience. Over time, you can add ads, affiliate links, products, coaching courses, etc. to your blog. Since you already have an audience, they will be open to buying.
  • Social Media Sites: Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook (free)
    • Why not utilize a platform that already has millions of users? You can create an account on any of these platforms and start building a business this way.
    • I watch a lot of YouTube videos and it’s crazy how people can make a living off creating videos.
    • One downside of these platforms is if they change their algorithm or pay-out structure, then you may lose out on views, ad revenue, etc.
  • Consulting or Coaching (Free, but will take time to build a client book and reputation)
    • Are you an expert in a certain field? You can contract for and consult clients for a solid hourly wage. It’s a fun job and if you can communicate well, it would be a solid role for you.
  • Digital Product Creation (think e-book or how-to-guide, Free)
    • Creating a e-book on an area you are passionate about and sell it for a few bucks. The only time you spend is upfront, after that, it’s passive income.

It’s a great strategy these days to leverage the internet’s wide reach. There is so much money in the world right now… we just need to go and get it.

Making Your Life Golden

SABON“>Sabon

By Mark Ford

I have always been a strong opponent of television. But, K and I recently started watching it together. Just a little bit here and there; enough to get me thinking about the way people spend their recreational time.

It made me wonder if the kind of activities we engage in during our down time really makes a difference.

I’ve also pointed out that the more time you spend working, the more successful you’re likely to be – but acknowledge that even the most ambitious and hardest workers need to take at least a few hours out of the day to do something that gives them pleasure.

Something that doesn’t work.

The question then becomes, “What should that ‘something’ be?”

As I said, just about any activity we choose to do can fit into one of three categories. It can:

  • Damage us in some way
  • Improve us somehow
  • Leave us more or less the same

Think of the best choices – the ones that improve you – as Golden.

Think of the neutral choices – the ones that just help you pass the time – as Vaporous.

And think of the worst choices – the ones that hurt you – as Acidic.

It’s up to you how much Gold, Vapor, and Acid you are going to have in your life.

When I think of my own choices – good, bad, and neutral – I notice that they have the following characteristics:

Golden Choices

My best experiences tend to be with activities that are intellectually challenging and emotionally engaging. Because they demand a lot from me, I shy away from them when I am low in energy. But when I do get into them, they build my energy and thus make it easier to continue. When I am through with such an activity, I feel good about myself and content with how I have spent my time.

Vaporous Choices

These activities are easy to slip into and easier, too, to stay involved with. They are the choices we make when we don’t feel like making choices. The time we spend when we don’t much care how we spend our time. Welcome to the Vapor zone, the neutral, happy world of poker and sitcoms and gossip.

When I’m ready for some relaxation, my first impulse is always to choose a Vaporous activity. Having “worked hard all day,” I want something simple and mindless so I can gear down. And most people would probably say the same thing. Getting into the Vapor zone is easy – and staying there is easier still.

The big problem with Vaporous activities – and this is a very big problem for me – is that they leave me feeling enervated instead of energized. And empty. Vaporous activities do for me what Vaporous foods (i.e., comfort foods) do: They fill me up but tire me out.

Acidic Choices

Everybody has vices. At one time or another, I’ve had just about all of them. I have never smoked crack, but I’ve done plenty of other things to destroy, reduce, or disable myself.

Why I do these things, I can only guess. Sometimes I think I need the challenge of surviving self-imposed obstacles. Whatever my reasons, the result of making those choices is generally the same.

I get a dull pleasure that is mixed with a barely discernible level of pain. Even when the pleasure is intense, it is clouded by a foggy brain. It feels like I’m having a great time … but I am not sure. And if the actual experience of Acidic activities is mixed, the feeling afterward is not at all ambivalent. It is bad.

The interesting thing about Acidic options is how attractive they can be. Nobody would argue that they are good choices. We pick them because we are too weak to pick anything else, and we use what little mind we have left to rationalize our self-destruction.

Let’s Take a Closer Look at These 3 Categories

… Continue reading

5 Ways to Keep Your Business Financially Sustainable

By Mark Thomasson

The rule of thumb for every business is that they should never run out of cash. Therefore, all the business transactions you make need to have a clear purpose and a tangible financial backup.

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Due to the dynamic nature of contemporary business, keeping your finances in order is more of a rocky road than a bed of roses. To help business owners run their ventures as successfully as possible, we’ve prepared a set of crucial prerequisites to not only stay afloat but thrive in the marketplace.

1. Bring an Austerity Policy

From one point of view, it’s better for an inexperienced entrepreneur not to succeed to fast. If you have to struggle to make ends meet for some time, you’ll learn to appreciate both your work and your earnings. However, if you’re (un)lucky – depending on the perspective –to achieve your goals quickly, bring these clear austerity measures to keep your budget under control:

  • Allow for only essential purchases. Nothing but essential business items should be bought.
  • Limit recruitment and payroll. Avoid long-term employment contracts. Go for outsourcing and freelancers instead.
  • Benefit from business plan software. Use software tools to make detailed business plans.
  • Reduce overheads. Encourage employees to work from home and rent a smaller office space.

When your budget is reserved only for necessary business transactions, you’ll always have enough assets for your operations.

2. Open Separate Accounts

Using the business budget for personal expenditure is the biggest temptation new business owners face.

Some entrepreneurs make this mistake due to a lack of experience. However, others simply relax and start spending their business assets for private purposes. If you adopt such a lifestyle, you’ll have a wide range of problems. Your business will be in the red and it will take a lot of time to put it back in the black again.

To avoid such a misfortunate outcome, you need to have two separate accounts. One of them should be registered on your company and used solely for business transactions. On the other hand, your personal account will serve your private purposes. As for the amount of money you will take from your company monthly as a salary, study several different options to find the best one for your business’ long-term financial health.

3. Track Your Payments

… Continue reading

15 Ways to Retire Earlier

AN EARLY START TO YOUR GOLDEN YEARS

The word “retirement” and number “65” are as linked in the North American psyche as “bacon” and “eggs.” Then again, that all depends on how fast you want your eggs, right?

Retiring early — or leaving the work force for the golf course, if you like — might sound like an unattainable goal. But there are many ways to make it, so long as you take numerous approaches into account.

Yes, 65 is the standard — but what’s 21st century life all about if not exceeding standards? Here are 15 major financial and lifestyle moves you can make to achieve this goal.

Are you fantasizing about early retirement. Here’s how to make that dream a reality.

1. LIVE TWO TO THREE TIMES BELOW YOUR MEANS

Sorry, folks: Simply skipping that $4 latte in the morning ain’t gonna cut it. It takes a much more committed approach where “sacrifices” are viewed in a new light. “It’s amazing when I work through the numbers that some people think manicures, landscapers and maids are a need,” said Michael Chadwick, a certified financial planner and CEO of Chadwick Financial Advisors in Unionville, Conn.

2. REDEFINE ‘COMFORTABLE RETIREMENT’

Less spending later constitutes the flip side of less spending now. If you imagine comfy retirement as a vacation home and monthly cruise ship trips, revisit that vision so you don’t have to bleed cash — but can still retire in style. Instead of two homes, for example, why not live in your vacation destination and pocket the principal from selling your primary residence?

3. PAY OFF ALL YOUR DEBT

That’s right, all of it. First: Is it time to pay off your home? You might not have the resources now to plunk down one huge check, but consider savvy alternatives such as switching from a 30-year to 15-year mortgage. Monthly payments aren’t much higher, but the principal payoff is much greater. Second: Do the same with loans and credit cards, as high interest eats up income faster than termites chewing a log. A credit card balance of just $15,000 with an APR of 19.99 percent will take you five years to eradicate at $400 a month — and you’ll dish out a total of $23,764.48, the calculator on timevalue.com shows.

4. CONSIDER OVERLOOKED FINANCIAL RESOURCES

While it’s risky to count on unknowns such as an inheritance, you might have cash streams available outside the traditional retirement realm, said Jennifer E. Acuff, wealth advisor with TrueWealth Management in Atlanta. For example, “Understand your options with respect to any pensions you might be entitled to from current or previous employers.”

5. INVEST EARLY AND AGGRESSIVELY

If you’re in your 20s and start investing now, you’re in luck, said Joseph Jennings Jr., investment director for PNC Wealth Management in Baltimore. “Due to the power of compounding, the first dollar saved is the most important, as it has the most growth potential over time.” As an example, Jennings compares $10,000 saved at age 25 versus 60. “The 25-year-old has 40 years of growth potential at the average retirement age of 65, whereas $10,000 saved at age 60 only has five years of growth potential.”

6. MARRIED COUPLES: PLAY RETIREMENT ACCOUNT MATCHMAKER

The wisdom of taking advantage of a company match on the 401(k) is well established — but think about how that power is accelerated if a working couple does it with two such company matches. “If your employer has a matching contribution inside of your company’s plan, make sure you always contribute at least enough to receive it,” said Kevin J. Meehan, regional president-Chicago with Wealth Enhancement Group. “You are essentially leaving money on the table if you don’t.”

7. PRACTICE SOUND CASH FLOW MANAGEMENT

The methodology is simple, yet the results can be profound: Put money at least monthly into systematic investments during your working years. “There’s no other element of investment planning or portfolio management that’s more essential over the long term,” said Jesse Mackey, chief investment officer of 4Thought Financial Group in Syosset, N.Y.

8. JUMP ON EMPLOYER STOCK PURCHASE PLANS

How about some free money? The ESPP typically works by payroll deduction, with the company converting the money into shares every six months at a 15 percent discount. If you immediately liquidate those shares every time they’re delivered, it’s like get a guaranteed 15 percent rate of return,” said Dave Yeske, managing director at the wealth management firm Yeske Buie and director of the financial planning program at Golden Gate University. “Add the after-tax proceeds to your supplemental retirement savings.”

9. START THAT RETIREMENT ACCOUNT TODAY

That is, the earlier the better. Millennials who kick off retirement accounts early will reap big rewards later. A 25-year-old who socks away $4,000 a year for just 10 years (with a 10 percent annual return rate) will accrue more than $883,000 by the time she turns 60. Now then: Can’t you just taste those pina coladas on the beach?

10. PLAN SMART VACATIONS AND TRAVEL — AND INVEST THE DIFFERENCE

There’s no sense in depriving yourself of every single thing, especially well-deserved time off. But Yeske points out that you can save a ton in 150 countries through a service called HomeExchange.com. “My wife and I have stayed for free in London, Amsterdam, New York and Costa Rica,” he said. “And when you’re staying in someone’s home or apartment, you don’t have to eat out at a restaurant for every meal, so your food costs nothing more than if you were at home.”

11. DON’T LET YOUR MONEY SIT IDLE

To get to an early retirement, you have to periodically revisit your IRA, 401(k) or other retirement account to make sure your money doesn’t grow cobwebs. For example, the way your retirement account is diversified shouldn’t put too much emphasis on low-yield investments — such as money market funds and low-yielding bonds. “Dividends can pile up in the money market account, typically earning one one-hundredth of a percent,” Yeske said. “Make sure your cash is invested properly.

12. HOP OFF THE HEDONIC TREADMILL

In this curse of consumerism, you buy something expensive, feel excited and then scout for something else to purchase when the “new car smell” wears off. And it’s a huge trap if you want early retirement, said Pete, a finance blogger who retired in his 30s. Another advantage: “Here in the rich world,” he wrote at MrMoneyMoustache.com, “the only widespread form of slavery is the economic type.”

 

13. LOOK FOR PASSIVE SOURCES OF INCOME

Early retirement doesn’t necessarily mean retiring all of your income, especially if you find ways to bring in money without hard work. Investing in rental properties is one way you can create a cash flow stream — and you can minimize the labor by hiring a property manager. Or: Set up an internet sales business and hire a part-timer to fulfill orders and track stock based on volume

14. ENLIST IN THE ARMED FORCES

Here’s an alternative way to get to “At ease, men.” By serving in the military, you can also serve yourself. Members commonly retire after 20 years, living off generous pensions and health insurance. Even though President Obama in March proposed sweeping changes to military retirement and health benefits, earlier-than-normal retirement should still remain an option for many men and women in uniform.

15. HIT THE ROAD OR GO JUMP IN A LAKE, INDEFINITELY

Some middle agers are selling the bulk of their possessions — including the home — and moving into tricked-out mobile homes and houseboats. These options also open the door to a life of leisure travel and can eliminate major expenses, such as property taxes and mortgage payments.

If you think of retiring early as simply walking away from everyday life — and thus a pipe dream — it’s time to take a step back and look at how others have done it. You might enjoy your job immensely and have friends in the trenches with you. But if work is taking too much away from your family time, community bonds, overall health and peace of mind, you might do well to consider one of the smartest alternative investments of all: yourself.

5 THINGS GREAT PRODUCT MANAGERS DO EVERY DAY

By

My favorite product managers are quietly powerful. Every day they take small steps that move their teams and business forward in a meaningful way. But they do it without a lot of hoopla, taking a confident yet unassuming approach.

After all, product managers have a lot on their plate every day. They are responsible for the strategy, roadmap, and feature definition for their product. It is a big responsibility that requires facilitating and collaborating with many different teams — both internal and external — without the formal authority to manage those teams. It requires a unique mix of humility and strength.

However, that quiet power does not mean leading product is easy. I realized early on that the daily life of a product manager is unpredictable, hectic, and sometimes very tough.

In the late 1990s, my first product management job was helping to roll out high-speed internet nationwide when it became a viable (and highly desired) alternative to dial-up services. We went from providing 300 lines monthly to more than 3,000 — all in a window of about 60 days. I quickly learned how to balance staying on a strategic course and managing the endless minutiae that was required to get each customer up and running.

I had always been a leader, so handling the stress and responsibility was natural for me — but I had a lot to learn about focusing my efforts on what mattered most. I soon realized that with great accountability comes great autonomy. It was up to me to prioritize what needed to get done and when.

This is great news for ambitious product managers: You have more control than you might think, no matter how hectic each day feels.

Here are five things great product managers do. Used consistently, these actions can help you prioritize your work every day and thrive.

1. Align actions to goals

To succeed as a product manager it is essential to take a goal-first approach. Prioritize what must get done that day and assess and align new work against your goals. Swiftly break through the endless tasks and chatter by evaluating each request or demand through the lens of your goals. This does not mean you should shut down disruptions as “noise” to be silenced. Embrace the interruptions that align with your goals — one may be the missing idea that makes your product wildly successful in market.

2. Connect the dots

Understand how your product serves your business — the big picture of why you are building it. This may seem obvious, but without that connection, product managers are often led astray by differing opinions, demands from internal teams, and conflicting customer feedback. Identify why your product matters to your business and to customers so you can navigate with a steady mind.

3. Solve one simple problem

You may be tempted to solve every problem for your customers. But you cannot be all things to all people. You will spread yourself too thin and lose that firm direction. Instead, focus on solving one problem at a time. I like to say, “Focus on one problem, and solve the second for free.” Tackle one problem well and new opportunities will emerge.

4. Learn from others

Invest the time and effort to learn about your product team’s core work so you can set realistic deadlines. This is especially important for teams that share resources. Ask questions and get to know the full scope of their experience and tasks. It is also important to admit what you do not know. Rely on the expertise of your extended product team to help you deliver on the promise of your product.

5. Say “no” with confidence

Not every idea will be meaningful. And, in fact, most will be lousy. Great product managers understand that saying “no” is not a one-word answer. This is your chance to explain why the idea does not make sense within your strategic direction. Do not hide from these conversations or be dismissive. Take each “no” as an opportunity to recommit to your goals — and to re-evaluate whether your aim is true.

I know this advice to be effective — but hard to follow. So be kind to yourself when you feel cornered or stuck. Stick out your chest and remember that you have more control than you think and a team at your side.

You too can achieve the quiet power that separates good product managers from great ones. Never lose sight of your goals and embrace each day with humility and strength. Now go get busy.

Discover your own power as a product manager.

This is How to Do Things You Don’t Want to Do

 PourVousCustomDesign

By Patrik Edblad

The common denominator of success — the secret of success of every person who has ever been successful — lies in the fact that they formed the habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do.
 — Albert E.N. Grey

No matter what you want to accomplish in life, it’s going to involve discomfort:

A great career or business requires hard work.

A healthy body needs exercise and foods you don’t necessarily like.

Meaningful relationships need vulnerability and compromises.

In fact, anything worthwhile often requires that you do what you don’t want to do.

And that can be hard.

But it doesn’t have to be.

You Are Not Your Thoughts

I used to take my thoughts very seriously. Whenever one of them popped into my head, I’d immediately identify with it and perceive it as the “truth.”

If a thought told me I was tired and bored, I’d immediately look for a way out.

But I’ve since learned that I am not my thoughts and that my mind is nothing more than a suggestion box.

Because of that, I don’t take my thoughts as seriously as I used to.

And that, in turn, has made a huge difference in my subsequent behavior and the results I get.

These days, when my mind tells me I’m restless and should do something else, I simply thank it for the suggestion and then get back to the task at hand.

Stimulus –> Perception –> Response

It’s never the discomfort that stops you; it’s how you perceive the discomfort.

Your beliefs determine your response, and what you choose to believe is within your control.

You can assign whatever meaning you want to discomfort.

I used to believe it was a signal that I should stop.

These days, I believe it’s a signal that I should keep going.

I’ve decided that anytime I feel discomfort, that just means I’ve stepped into my mental gym and that it’s time for my mental resistance training.

Exercise Your Willpower Muscle

Willpower is a lot like muscle power. The more you exercise it, the stronger it will get.

If you practice it for an extended period of time, you can change your behavior around completely.

You’ll be able to do what others dread doing and to stay away from things that others can’t resist doing.

That level of self-control is exactly what’s needed to become a remarkable person and create extraordinary results.

So, how do you get started?

Practice Voluntary Discomfort

He who sweats more in training bleeds less in war.
 — Spartan Warrior Creed

The best way to practice mental resistance training is through voluntary hardship. Here are a few examples:

  • Underdress for cold weather.
  • Turn off the air conditioning in your house or car.
  • Take cold showers.
  • Occasional fasting.
  • Drink only water.
  • Sleep without a pillow.
  • High-intensity exercise.

These are just a few ideas to help you come up with your personal mental resistance training.

The important thing is that you choose one and commit to it.

And just like in a physical gym, you don’t want to use the heaviest weights right away.

There’s no point getting overwhelmed or injured.

So, start small and then get a little bit every day.

If your willpower muscle is weak right now, it’s perfectly fine to start by making your bed each morning. Or reading one page in a book. Or flossing one tooth.

How to Do What You Don’t Want to Do

If you’re thinking to yourself right now; “I’m not the kind of person who practices voluntary discomfort,” be very mindful of the fact that this is the same voice you want to take control over.

Don’t take it as literal truth. Remember — it’s just a suggestion. And it’s entirely within your power what you do with that suggestion.

If you choose to take action despite what your mind is telling you, it holds no power over you.

You can decide to perceive discomfort as mental resistance training from this moment forward.

And each time you push through the resistance, you’ll notice that you’ll get a little bit stronger.

If you stick to the practice consistently, with time, it’ll become second nature to do what you don’t want to do.

You’ll become a relentless action-taker.

And that’s when you can turn your most desired goals into reality.

If you enjoyed this article, please click the heart so others can learn from it as well!

Patrik Edblad is a certified mental trainer and writer. He helps people use research-backed strategies to become healthier, happier and more productive at Selfication.com. Grab your free copy of his book The Science of Willpower: Proven Strategies to Beat Procrastination & Get Big Things Done.

15 Key Apps For Entrepreneurs

Designer

15 Key Apps For Entrepreneurs

By Ari Rabban

Being beyond busy just comes with the territory of being an entrepreneur.

Whether you’ve got a business that’s been operating for years, or you’re just itching to get work done on a project of your own, many challenges stand in the way of entrepreneurial efficiency. Thankfully, with the right tools at your disposal, there is a way to get to the other side.

Breaking Down Your Breakdowns

Any time an obstacle blocks the path to your productivity, it falls into one of three categories.

The first is good old-fashioned distraction. Whether you find yourself distracted by noisy co-workers, something outside the office, or just the idea of the pile of tasks still waiting to be done, we all know how easy it is to have our attention misdirected.

Then it’s a question of prioritization. Managing a big project or running a startup involves attending to an endless list of demands. Finding a way to distinguish the critical from the important and the non-pressing is essential to navigating workflow.

Craig Ballantyne, Author of The Perfect Day Formula explains how to master this 5% vs. 95% Rule, which is a formative principle for every truly successful entrepreneur.

Finally, there’s the question of function. Nothing crimps your process like getting hung up on some functionality issue. Maybe you’re trying to figure out a way to process a payment across platforms or your progress comes to a screeching halt when a problem pops up with your data security. Whatever the cause, suddenly you find that you’ve spent hours trying to accomplish what seems like it should take 10 minutes.

The solution to each of these issues, however, might be as near as your own pocket.

Letting Technology Do Its Part

Contemporary entrepreneurs have a vast toolbox — all on their phones — that wasn’t available a few years ago. Over the past decade, more and more apps have been developed to alleviate the above challenges.

By consolidating your workflow onto a single device, you achieve streamlined processes that vastly boost your productivity.

Forget about shuffling through papers and coping with chaos: Harness the power of your smartphone and its cloud capabilities, and you’ll ease your journey toward success.

There are four app varieties I consider essential to solving problems relating to distraction, prioritization, and function. The 15 unique apps below will offer solutions to these barriers.

  • Hootsuite/Trello/Lizzabo

It’s easy to get wrenched off-task by social media, especially when you use it to share business-related content, communicate with team members, or network with potential contacts.

A variety of apps can address this. Hootsuite, for example, allows you to schedule posts without actually spending any time on social media platforms. Meanwhile apps like Trello and Campfire facilitate collaboration within your team. And tools like Bizzabo and LinkedIn are great for digital networking.

  • Asana/Remember the Milk/Google Now

Powerful apps have taken the place of the day planner. Apps like Asana, Remember the Milk, and Google Now make it easy to not only plan out your schedule, but share it with other team members.

  • Square

For the longest time, independent businesses didn’t have easy access to the tools necessary to accept payments in plastic…Continue Reading 

About the Author: Ari Rabban is the CEO of Phone.com and a veteran of the IP communications industry. Phone.com’s virtual phone service builds on the digital VoIP industry experience of its founders to deliver a complete suite of enterprise-grade unified communication services at an SMB price. Ari was named among the Top 20 Most Influential People in VoIP 2012 and currently serves on several boards, including the New Jersey Tech Council.

Do You Have a Job, a Career, or a Calling?

BY

Your answer to this question is crucial.

It can determine whether or not your life’s work is contributing to you living to your full potential. In his book Springboard, Wharton School Professor G. Richard Shell argues that this question is essential to finding personal meaning and satisfaction. And that’s not as simple as most people think.

To illustrate, imagine three people who have been working hard for several years — Alex, Ben, and Catherine.

  • Alex has a job he does for the paycheck. He clocks in for the hours he’s supposed to, and he puts in the minimum effort to get the job done. Sure, he might perform relatively well in his role, or he might go through the motions of socializing with the people he works with, but he can’t help feeling like a cog in a machine. He puts up with it though, as he’s motivated by the security that comes with having a stable job and a steady paycheck. He doesn’t view his job as much more than a chore. ‘Life’ is what happens when he gets home after work and picks up his guitar, or on weekends when he can spend time with his partner. He is always wishing that it’s Friday already, and he dreads Monday mornings.
  • Ben feels dedication and loyalty towards his career, and to an extent, his employer too. He sees himself progressing in his defined role, towards more status and responsibility. His pride in his job is apparent in how he introduces himself to others at parties: he says his name and what he does. He has spent countless hours building up his skills and knowledge within his field. He envisions himself in his manager’s position on a daily basis, and then progressing to his manager’s manager’s position, and so on. He works hard because he wants to be better, and sometimes he does things he doesn’t want to do, like work long hours, so that he can reach the ‘ideal’ future he envisions for himself.
  • Catherine wouldn’t call what she does ‘work.’ She feels lucky to have found her calling, and to get paid for it too. She’s keen to get out of bed every morning, excited about what the day will bring. She genuinely feels that she is making a difference. There’s hardly such a thing as a holiday, because she just works whatever hours she feels like to get the job done, motivated by the knowledge that what she’s doing is worthwhile. She is able to express herself though her work — using that creative spark she’s had since she was a child. She spends every day in alignment with her values, which include serving the community, even in her own little way. Instead of a cog in a machine, she feels like she is the machine.

Who do you identify most with?

Notice that there isn’t any mention of each person’s pay or profession. Research conducted by Yale University Professor Amy Wrzesniewski showed that most randomly selected groups divide themselves up almost exactly into thirds, no matter what they do, or how much they are paid. Indeed, some people from exactly the same workplace felt differently about the same job. It’s not always so clear-cut.

For example, Ben could be a trainee lawyer who feels like he has his whole career ahead of him. He’s only worked for two years, and has shown promise. Maybe he’ll make partner one day, if he just works hard enough. He’s proud of his profession, even though the hours exhaust him. He would say that his career is his priority right now. His best friend in the next cubicle feels differently. He finds the work tedious and pointless.

Catherine could be a doctor working in a ward that is always full of sick children. She works long hours, sometimes with only a few hours of sleep, but it’s worth it if she gets to save lives. She can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s her calling. Yes, she earns a fair amount, but it’s not the money that’s most important to her. Last night, she was bonding with her best friend Karen about how much they love their jobs. Karen is an administrator for the local government.

You might imagine that most people on lower incomes would consider themselves as just having a ‘job,’ but down the hallway from Catherine the doctor, the janitor finishes up cleaning the floor. Nobody really pays attention to him, but if they did, they would hear him humming away happily. Even though his job can be tiring at times, he loves it because the ward needs to stay clean so that the doctors can properly do their jobs, and the janitor gets to do his part in saving lives. It’s his calling too.

In fact, people can feel differently about their work at different times in their lives, and their perceptions can shift over time as their personal lives change and they seek different goals than when they first started in a job. Ben could focus on his law career for 10 years, and then realize that he has sacrificed a lot for the sake of it. He loses sight of why he wanted to be a lawyer in the first place, and over the years his career has become just a job to him. Now he’s just doing it because he doesn’t know anything else, and the money is good, but perhaps there are more important things in life than living hard and fast. He’ll be looking for his calling soon.

It’s not easy to work out whether you have a job, a career, or a calling. Things that matter to you now might not matter as much later, and vice-versa. In the long run, only you will know what is right for you. If you’re lucky enough to find your calling — work that you enjoy and that can support you financially — then you are better than two-thirds of the people in the workforce. And you’re well on your way to finding success and happiness.

Status Anxiety

Do You Suffer From “Status Anxiety?”

By Alex Green

In 1759, Adam Smith inquired in his Theory of Moral Sentiments about why we seek wealth. Is it to meet our basic wants and needs?

No, he concluded. “The wages of the meanest laborer can supply them.” The point of all our striving, he argued, is “to be observed, to be attended to, to be taken notice of with sympathy, complacency, and approbation.

William James, the father of American psychology, echoed this sentiment a century later when he declared that the deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.

We don’t like to admit it, but most men and women are in a near-constant pursuit of higher status.

Psychologists have even identified a new malady, one that afflicts millions. They call it “status anxiety.”

Throughout history and around the world, men and women have always sought status and recognition. But in the modern era, the yardstick is almost always the same: economic success.

More bluntly, money.

The benefits of money and status are obvious: freedom, resources, comfort, time, attention, and deference. A lack of status, on the other hand — even if it is only perceived — can lead to sadness, anxiety, and even depression.

Our capitalist system thrives on the pursuit of status. Entrepreneurs take elaborate risks in the pursuit of great rewards. Consumers buy superfluous products — especially luxury brands — they believe confer prestige. The pursuit of status motivates us to develop our talents, work hard, demonstrate excellence, and achieve worthy goals.

In today’s increasingly affluent society, however, our ideas about what are “essential” constantly change.

For example, consider the percentage of Americans who believed the following items were necessities in 1970:

  • More than one phone – 2%
  • Second television set – 3%
  • Dishwasher – 8%
  • Car air conditioning – 11%
  • Second car – 20%
  • Home air conditioning – 22%

If these were nonessential to Americans 45 years ago, why do hundreds of millions consider them necessities today?

It’s not just that these things make our lives easier and more comfortable. Many folks would feel embarrassed or ashamed to be without them.

Our sense of happiness is based on comparing ourselves to others. Unfortunately, that is a guaranteed recipe for unhappiness.

The problem with making economic success the foundation of personal happiness is that a) you cannot control the economy and b) most companies eventually fail. Needless to say, this undermines job security and financial well-being.

While life will always be uncertain, there is a simple and effective cure for status anxiety: changing the way you think.

Every time we feel satisfied with what we have, however little that may be, we can count ourselves rich.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau insisted there are two ways to make a man wealthier: Give him more money or curb his desires. Or, as Socrates declared as he passed the expensive goods on sale in the Athens agora, “How many things I can do without!”

As for other people’s opinions, whether you get the recognition you believe you deserve is out of your control. But if you haven’t done anything that deserves contempt or disrespect, what difference does it make what someone else thinks?

An obsessive pursuit of status may not just be a waste of time. It could be a waste of a life.

About the Author: Alex Green is the author of excellent books like, The Secret of Shelter Island: Money and What Matters, and Beyond Wealth, that show you how to lead a “rich” life during trying economic times.