Entrepreneurs thrive on novelty and non-linear thinking -- two strengths that make them visionaries, early adopters, and risk-takers. At the same time, they're business leaders, and the daily work of running or starting a business can often be mundane. So how do you, as an entrepreneur, stay focused for the daily grind?
To answer that question, look to world-class athletes as role models.
"Sports psychology is where we're making the most progress for attention control," says Lucy Jo Palladino, psychologist and author of Find Your Focus Zone (Free Press, 2011). "Athletes engage in long, boring practices every day. They must find a way to sustain that motivation and energy."
Athletes have found several strategies to help them stay motivated and focused during the years they spend in training for one event. They are the epitome of people who crave high stimulation but focus exceptionally well on the tedious work to achieve their dreams and goals.
Try these four tips from an athlete's playbook to help you stay focused on the everyday tasks of running a successful business:
Nearly 250 billion emails are sent every day, according to the 2012 Email Marketing Benchmark Report. That’s one email every 0.00000035 seconds.
Of course, you needn’t read statistics to understand email’s importance—you use it constantly to pitch reporters, apply for jobs, search for new business, and send mom a link to a new recipe.
If you can’t get people to respond to your messages, you’re probably doing something wrong -- especially if your mother won’t read your emails.
Watching television while also using a smartphone or tablet is one of the most popular leisure activities of the mobile era.
The mobile industry is working hard to create mobile apps and sites that relate to what's on TV, in order to capitalize on this behavior.
#insert RSS here#
This approach is often referred to as the "second screen," the idea being that the tablet or smartphone becomes a TV companion device, allowing for added levels of interactivity -- whether on social networks or dedicated second screen apps and sites that complement on-air content.
Entrepreneurs don't take weekends off. Your mailman won't be coming to your business on Saturdays starting in August, but don't let that slow you down.
The United States Postal Service announced this week that it is reducing delivery of letters from six days to five days in a bid to save $2 billion per year. Here are three tips for how you can continue to receive, post mark, and send your letters on Saturdays.
1. Open up a P.O. box for your business.
It's important for business owners and consumers to understand that if your local post office has been open on Saturdays before this announcement, it will still be open after August, says Amine Khechfe, the cofounder and general manager of Palo Alto, Calif.-based postage-technology company Endicia. If you know that your business is going to need to be able to receive letters on Saturday, then open up a P.O. Box at your local post office, Khechfe recommends. You will still get letters in your P.O. Box on Saturdays.
This week's need-to-know social-media news.
Pinterest, the company whose trademark social pinboard allows users to display images they find appealing, has decided it's time to work toward profitability. "A lot of last year was keeping up with growth [and] the big change with touch-screen devices," founder Ben Silbermann said. "[This year], we're building foundations to monetize." What are it's plans? Pinterest is getting ready to introduce paid advertising. And it is studying how Pinterest users convert into online shoppers, so that it can eventually take a percentage of brands' sales revenue.
Pinterest has enjoyed explosive growth over the past year, with total user visits to its website increasing to 48 million last December, up from 9 million the previous December. In the same period, Pinterest's staff grew from 20 to 100. Pinterest has raised $140 million in venture capital so far, and might seek more -- at a $2.5 billion valuation. -- Wall Street Journal
Sunday February 10th begins the Chinese Year of the Snake. While some cultures consider the snake to be a bad omen, Neil Somerville, author of Your Chinese Horoscope 2013: What the Year of the Snake Holds in Store for You (HarperCollins, 2012), says it’s quite desirable in the Chinese zodiac.
"Those born in the Year of the Snake are born under the sign of wisdom," he says. "They tend to be quiet, reflective and secretive. They are patient and observant but are also highly ambitious. They choose their moments well and are often successful in later life."
Using the Chinese lunar calendar, astrologers during the Han Dynasty (2nd century BC to 2nd century AD) assigned an animal to each year. They believed the time of your birth predicted your destiny, and personality traits were outlined for each of the 12 animal zodiac signs, which include a rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.
Somerville says snake individuals, born during the lunar years (which begin and end in late January to early February) of 1929, 1941,1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001 and 2013, are deep thinkers and enjoy research and study.They have a good business brain and are generally shrewd in their dealings. Famous entrepreneurs who were born during the Year of the Snake include Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart.
A roundup of the best tips of the week from Entrepreneur.com.
The ability to persevere through failure is one of the hallmarks of a successful entrepreneur. But our brains make it hard to push past disappointments. "People tend to have a cognitive bias toward their failures, and toward negativity," says positive psychologist Matthew Della Porta. As an entrepreneur, you'll have to work consciously to balance out your natural cognitive bias toward negativity.
When you experience failure, don't dwell on it. If you do, you'll be more likely to internalize a negative self-image. Instead you should frame the experience in a way that allows you to move forward. "At first, [this strategy will] be hard and you'll think it doesn't work," Della Porta says. "But over time, it'll become automatic and negative thoughts will be less likely to come up. No one does this naturally; you have to learn and practice." More: How to Train Your Brain to Stay Positive
While conventional wisdom says that professionals keep a stiff upper lip in the workplace, at some point, everyone shows cracks in that polished veneer. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, says workplace expert Anne Kreamer, author of It's Always Personal: Managing Emotion in the New Workplace (Random House, 2013).
She says that workplace cultures that emphasize empathy and enthusiasm reap benefits ranging from greater creativity to reduced absenteeism. Being empathetic to emotion and showing your humanity is part such a culture.
But what happens when your emotions overcome you in ways that could damage your reputation? That may call for action to keep your working relationships intact, she says. Here's the triage plan for your emotional 911.
With thousands of apps in the Apple App Store and Google Play -- not to mention Windows and BlackBerry's growing app stores -- entrepreneurs and developers have a lot to consider when creating new apps they hope to get accepted into the marketplaces. What's going to set yours apart from all the others and ensure a smooth submission process?
We spoke with mobile expert Prasant Varghese, a usability analyst at New York City-based IT services firm Icreon. Here are his three basic, yet essential tips for creating the best, most efficient apps possible:
1. Think different.
Let's face it, who needs yet another tip calculator or flashlight app? Coming up with something no one has seen before can obviously set you apart. But coming up with the next big thing isn't always easy. The first thing you'll want to do when launching any type of app is study your competitors.
There may be a lot of economic uncertainty, but that doesn't mean it's a bad time to launch a business. For a few business ideas, take a spin through this list of eight online industries expected to see healthy U.S. revenue growth in 2013 that are hot for startups, according to industry research firm IBISWorld.
As a small-business owner, you make hundreds of decisions every day -- some of which will have a lasting effect on your business. Sometimes the solutions you need aren't as obvious to you as you'd hope. In those instances, you might want expert advice to help steer you in the most productive and profitable directions.
If you don't have an attorney, accountant or marketing expert on speed dial, try one of these online options for finding professional answers to your business questions:
The tagline for this site is "wisdom when you want it." Choose your field, ask a question and get your response within 24 hours via Pearl's on-site chat system. It hosts doctors, attorneys, computer technicians and a variety of "life professionals." Before being accepted to the site, professionals must show proof that they hold the proper credentials and pass
a test in their area of expertise.
Pearl charges about $30 per question but the fee varies depending on the depth of the question and how quickly you need an answer.
As an entrepreneur, conquering challenge and failure is essential to the success of your business. You can learn to cultivate that resilience by training your brain to stay positive when times are tough.
"People tend to have a cognitive bias toward their failures, and toward negativity," says Matthew Della Porta, a positive psychologist and organizational consultant. Our brains are more likely to seek out negative information and store it more quickly to memory.
Of course, that bias is not always bad. Acknowledging problems and facing failures can lead us to better solutions. But too often, we go overboard, and beat ourselves up for our failures or let ourselves dwell in the negative.
By consciously increasing our focus on the positive, we start to even the balance. We find a happy medium where we can address failures and challenges without letting them get us down, leaving us more motivated, productive, and likely to succeed.
Try these three tips to help you train your brain to stay positive
1. Express gratitude. Negative events loom large unless you consciously balance them out. "When you're faced with challenges, it's important to take stock of what's going well," Della Porta says. Thinking about the good in your life can help balance that bias, giving your brain the extra time it needs to register and remember a positive event.
To help your brain store positive events, reflect on what you're grateful for and why at least once a week. Write down your blessings, such as the opportunity to pursue a career you love or a family that supports you. If you prefer a daily habit, then keep a nightly log of good things that happened that day. "Just keep it very short," Della Porta says. "If you try to hammer [gratitude] home, then it becomes mundane." Day One, a journaling app for Apple devices ($4.99), or OhLife, a free email-based journal, can to help you do this.
2. Repeat positive affirmations. As any politician or advertiser knows, the more often you hear a message, the more likely you are to believe it. The same goes for messages about who you are and what you are capable of doing. By repeating positive affirmations with conviction several times each morning, you are training your brain to believe them. "Over time, you'll start to internalize them," Della Porta says. Repeat your affirmations silently if you feel self-conscious.
Choose two to three affirmations that represent your values and goals, such as 'I can handle whatever comes my way,' 'There is plenty of time,' or 'I'm getting better every day.' The repetition will influence the way you interpret negative events, making you more resilient. "Especially if you're predisposed to negative thinking, this can be extremely effective," Della Porta says.
3. Challenge negative thoughts. Each time a negative thought arises, we choose how to respond. If left to our own devices, we tend to dwell. Our brains home in on negative events so they seem much bigger and more significant than they are. To combat that, start by imagining the thought as separate from yourself, as something you can observe and deconstruct. "Get in the habit of distancing yourself instead of dwelling," Della Porta says.
Next, challenge negative thoughts that are unfairly self-deprecating. For example, if your startup doesn't get the traction you hoped, you might think, "I'm a failure." That's untrue and unproductive. Instead, practice interpreting the same event differently. You might say, I worked really hard but I didn't account for a quirk of the market, so I'm disappointed, but now I'm going to try again with new information. That interpretation is gentler, truer, and more proactive. "At first, [this strategy will] be hard and you'll think it doesn't work," Della Porta says. "But over time, it'll become automatic and negative thoughts will be less likely to come up. No one does this naturally; you have to learn and practice."
At work, people are likely surfing the web from a desktop or laptop computer. Other times during the day, they might be connected via a smartphone, tablet or television. This means at least one thing for business owners: Advertising to the right people, on the right device and at the right time of day can be a multi-pronged hassle. Search giant Google is trying to simplify this process with an update to its AdWords service.
In a blog post today, Google said it's rolling out enhanced Adwords campaigns, which will essentially enable advertisers large and small to manage several ad campaigns at once. The enhanced tool will help business owners manage all aspects of their campaigns, including details such as the types of devices, times, and locations to be targeted as well as their analytics reports all from one place.
If you are growing a skin-care business, networking with execs at consumer products giants could open some valuable doors. But how to make those connections? A new partnership between niche crowd-funding platform CircleUp and Procter & Gamble could help entrepreneurs build those links.
The goal of the partnership is to swap expertise. P&G gets insight into consumer and investor behaviors on the innovative edges of the consumer product market. Entrepreneurs raising money on San Francisco-based CircleUp, which targets midlevel food, health-and-wellness and apparel businesses, get access to P&G business experts to learn about topics like building their brand and growing their supply chain. The partnership piggybacks on a similar one CircleUp formed last year with General Mills.
If it were up to small-business owners, lawmakers' No. 1 priority would be reducing the U.S. deficit.
The national debt is expected to shrink to $845 billion this year, or 5.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), according to a report from the Congressional Budget Office out this week. In the next decade, however, the deficit is projected to be equivalent to 77 percent of GDP if current laws don't change, according to the report from CBO, the nonpartisan agency that produces analyses of budgetary and economic issues.
Rising health-care costs for an aging population and ever-increasing interest payments on the debt are the primary reasons the deficit is expected to rise, the report from CBO says.