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5 Online businesses you could start today

Guest post presented by 3rd party-- BLOG not written by Doug Sandler

Guest post presented by 3rd party-- BLOG not written by Doug Sandler

If you are looking for a new career and want to be your own boss, then there are many ways you can start a business online. It is easier to work online than in an office, and you can always work from home if you needed that flexibility. You can start by utilizing your strengths, but before you do, ask questions like what could you offer people? Do you have any skills that you can add to your online business? Here are some ideas that you can start working on today.

Social Media Consultant

Social media is an area that many companies are looking to expand their reach. However, a lot of them do not have the time or resources to do it themselves, so they employ an outside company to manage it for them. This is where you can create an opportunity for yourself. First, you will need to do some research and understand the mechanics, but you can quickly become a very sought after freelancer.

Web Design

If you have skills at web design, then you will be able to attract many clients. With what almost seems like everyone running a website, web designers can run a profitable business. There are lots of companies, especially start-ups, which need new sites designed. You can also add more to your products by offering a web hosting service as well. Companies such as Certa Hosting offer many services, and they also allow you to resell web hosting which can generate extra income.

Virtual assistant

There are many jobs that smaller companies are now outsourcing to freelancers instead of recruiting additional, permanent staff. In particular, virtual assistants are becoming an excellent way for business owners to have someone look after his or her emails and calendar. The responsibilities vary from project to project, but primarily it involves organizing emails, diary and occasionally phone calls and invoicing. Many people who hire you will be happy to show you how to use their particular software.

Virtual Support

In a similar way to a virtual assistant, virtual support offers companies IT support for their computers and software. It can save companies much money to just hire someone when there is a problem and is means there is plenty of work for you. Most of the support you give will be over the phone, although you can always offer a call-out service as well.

App Development

Mobile apps are very popular with companies, with more companies now looking for freelancers to develop apps for them. There is much work involved in app creation, but the financial rewards can be significant. Some mobile apps can cost $15,000 or more if there are many elements included. You can also collaborate with designers and other freelancers to offer more detailed creations.

These are just a few of the many online businesses that you can start from the comfort of your home. Some might need a little work, and you many need training or to conduct research, but the benefits of having your own business and working from home are more than enough to compensate.

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How to Break Your Monster Habits

Monster habits are hard to break. You've lived with them most of your life. Whether it be procrastination, lateness, over-committing or any number of other monster habits, they are not easily broken. Although there is a certain comfort in working with these habits, many of them are the cause of failed goals, lost opportunity and fear. These same habits are the exact reason why your business, your personal life and your past activity and results are not putting you precisely where your dreams and vision place you.

For a moment, put behind you the reason for having your monster bad habit and put the focus on breaking the monster habit. Take a few moments to determine which plan of action (or all of them) would work well for you.

Replace the monster habit with a new action. Let's take procrastination as an example. When faced with a project at work, the preferred path might be to head over to social media first, check out Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others before starting the project. Instead of doing that, replace your first impulse with tackling a point or two from the project before you check social media. Make social media your reward instead of your starting point. Monster habits are hard to break and since procrastination is a biggie, give yourself time to accomplish breaking this monster habit.

Avoid the easy monster fix. If one of your monster habits is drinking too much (caffeine) coffee, take the easy impulse action of making coffee out of your life and make the process challenging or more difficult for you.  By having easy access to coffee systems like Keurig at your fingertips, 3 or 4 cups a day is a no brainer. Instead, purchase whole bean coffee, grind only what you will be using for a single cup and make the process more difficult. Make your monster habits more challenging and breaking the monster habit will be easier to do.

Monsters hate teams. Join forces with someone who has their own monsters in the closet and work hard, together, to break your monster habits. When you have a "partner in crime" you not only have the ability to help someone else break their monster habits, but you have someone to help hold you accountable as well. If lateness is a a monster habit you are trying to break, work closely with someone, sharing with them your calendar for the week and let them share with you, their schedule. Talk about a plan of action to avoid being late, the action steps you will both take to get out the door, in time, and the rewards you will share when you accomplish the task. Lateness is a monster habit that not only effects you, but your bottom line as well.

Monsters thrive on negative self talk. Reduce your negative self talk and talk to yourself positively. You are what you think and if you allow the monsters to take over, positive actions, positive thoughts and positive outcomes will be a huge challenge for you. Don't expect success to always come on the first try. Although that might be the case, give yourself time to break the monster habits. Do a good job and you will keep the monsters where they belong, on the silver screen and sci-fi features

 

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12 Worries Every Entrepreneur Has (Or They Are Lying)

Photo by alphaspirit/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by alphaspirit/iStock / Getty Images

Worry. Does it hold you back or does it motivate you as you build your business, make plans for your future, and follow your dreams? That's the million dollar question. Depending on your perspective, as you approach a problem, worry could paralyze you or it could be your sixth sense, like an advanced warning system, keeping you sharp. Whatever the case, we all worry, but instead of having worry stop you dead in your tracks, learn to manage your worry and turn worry into its distant cousin, intuition (a.k.a. gut instinct), and use it to your advantage.

The following are 12 worries all entrepreneurs have:

1. Will I ever make another sale? The sale that I just made, will it be my last one and why isn’t my phone ringing? Is my internet connection down and why is every email I get spam? Did I go out of business and someone just forgot to tell me? These are just a few insecurities that go through my head, even after 30 years of being in business. And it’s normal if you have them too. The point here is to manage your worry, either let it wash over you and manage it or let worry keep you sharp instead of paralyzing you with fear. Yes, you will make another sale, and no, you are not going out of business. Instead of worrying, take action and look at the big picture, settle into the steps needed to reach your goals. Don't focus on the loss column, keep yourself facing forward, stay positive and keep your head in a good place. Baby steps forward, focus on the tasks at hand and you will make another sale, and another, and another.

If the problem has a solution, worrying is pointless, in the end the problem will be solved. If the problem has no solution, there is no reason to worry, because it can’t be solved.
— Zen saying

2. Can I make a living at this? Give your ideas time to grow. In the beginning everything seems so delicate, vulnerable and fragile. It may take some time to grow roots. But stay with it, believe in your ideas, and you absolutely can make a living at it. Your ideas will become reality. Over time, the roots of your ideas will grow deeper and stronger as you develop your ideas into products and services. Tell everybody and anybody that will listen what you are up to. Become a student and learn everything there is to know about your idea. Welcome passion into your life and become an expert at your passion. The world will eventually beat a path to your door to learn from you. That being said, be patient and do not rush it. Always keep in mind in order to get what you want you have to help others get what they want. In order to become successful, never lose focus on helping others solve their problems.

3. How will I ever find the time to do everything on my plate? It will seem like 24 hours is not enough time during the day to get everything done. Do your best to prioritize, manage, and delegate, all the while keep moving. Failure to move, take action and develop systems will keep you on the hamster's wheel. Get beyond the wheel by sticking with only those ideas that contribute to your main goals. Learn to say no when something crosses your desk that is not in your plans. By nature, you are an ambitious person, uniquely qualified and capable of many amazing feats. Remember, you will never be short of ideas, just short of time to accomplish every one of them, so learn to manage your time effectively.

Once moving flywheels keep things moving. 

Once moving flywheels keep things moving. 

4. How long will I have to keep up this pace? Not forever! My good friend Strickland Bonner (co-host on The Nice Guys on Business Podcast) always reminds me of the mechanics behind a flywheel. The flywheel is a large wheel-like object, requiring a disproportionate amount of energy to get started, but once moving keeps a steady pace of continuous energy going. In the beginning, as you start building your business and you crank into action, lots of effort is required just to get the flywheel started. Because it’s only you and your idea, it can seem lonely, daunting, intimidating and tiring. Once you experience the taste of a sale, or a positive word from someone, your actions will be fueled by your success, helping you crank that flywheel, building momentum. Think back to all of the things you did for the first time - tying your shoes as a child, balancing your checkbook as a college student, getting your social media legs as an adult, they were all a challenge to you, but you practiced until you got to be an expert at each of these tasks. Now, they are all a given. Things will get easier over time, (or so it will seem because you will no longer need to put so much energy into many of the tasks that are second nature to you. Your flywheel will zip along, powering your business.

5. Why do I feel like a fraud? This is a feeling that many entrepreneurs have at some point during their journey. Most often it happens during the first few years of building your business. You will be going in a thousand directions, not 100% sure of up from down. You will be called upon as the "expert" in your industry and you will be overcome with a feeling of insecurity. You will have thoughts like this, "Why are they asking me this question or want my point of view? I barely know what the hell it is I am doing, so what makes me an authority." Whenever this feeling hits me, I take a deep breath and think about all that I have done to get me to where I am in my journey. I remind myself of all of the triumphs, wins, successes and glory-filled moments. You are worthy of being titled an expert because you have worked hard to get to the point that someone calls upon you for your input. Think like an expert and you will become one.

Why do I feel like a fraud? I barely know what the hell it is I am doing, so what makes me an authority.

6. How can I stay current and up to date with my products and services? Time marches on and you need to stay current. Embrace change and allow it to become one of your best friends. The best way to do this is to listen to your customers. Hear what they say, listen to what they are asking for and do everything you can to provide it. A guaranteed way to fail to to stick with your old ideas and to ignore the march of time. In a recent interview I did with Jeffrey Hayzlett, former Chief Marketing Officer and V.P. of Eastman Kodak talks about Kodak’s inability to change with the times, eventually leading to Kodak's failure. They thought they were in the film business, when in actuality they were in the business of preserving memories. Years before their collapse they were presented with opportunities in the digital camera arena but refused to get too deep into it because they thought they were in the business of making film. Be ready, willing and able to change with the times and to make adjustments to your business.

7. How do I know where to invest in my business? Should you put money into advertising, marketing, technology, systems, education or somewhere else? Like any business, you will have to stick to a budget. At every stage of building your business, you will need to prioritize where money should be invested. Have open and honest conversations with others in your industry that you respect and look up to. Keep your business as lean as possible, especially in the beginning stages. There is nothing wrong with building your business out of your basement or spare bedroom. You should be busting at the seams before you take on the responsibility of paying rent or hiring staff. Keep in mind your best investment is you. Educate yourself and put money into getting around other successful people (conferences, mastermind groups, etc). Avoid "idea of the month" mentality. Develop a solid plan and stick to it. Most businesses fail because they run out of capital or they don't manage the money that is coming in properly. If you are working for someone else while you are building your own business, hold onto your job as long as possible, because lean times will make it very challenging to pay the bills unless you have plenty of reserves in the bank.

Will I ever make another sale? Did I go out of business and someone just forgot to tell me?

8. Why is everyone in my industry killing it while I am failing? Not the case. Don’t believe everything you see on Facebook. People frequently post their wins and very rarely post their losses. My wife, Danielle, often reminds me to stop comparing my beginning to someone else's middle. We all grow at different rates and grow to different levels. If you need a reminder about how far you have come, just look at all you have accomplished over the last few weeks, months or years. Document your progress as you go and you will be amazed at how far you have actually come. Also, leave the pity party now, the pointy hat doesn't look good on you AND you are much better than that.

9. Who can I trust to help me? Building relationships will be a key component on your way to success. You will not be able to succeed without the help of others, so invest wisely in these relationships. Surround yourself with positive people who believe in your message and truly want your success. Find partners that you like and that you feel comfortable with. A great way to build relationships in business is to find others that you can help as well. As I continue to build my speaking and podcasting businesses, I am always on the lookout for businesses that also need something that I offer, so we can work in trade or barter. Many of those relationships have evolved over the years and the owner of those businesses have become my most trusted sources for information, knowledge and business. Give out what you are hoping to get back in return. If you start by being a trustworthy entrepreneur, you will find others in a very similar space.

10. Should I rely upon others or do it myself? Most entrepreneurs fall into the trap of thinking that the best way to get something done is to do it themselves. And while that may be true for some things, it will not be true for everything. We all start by doing our own books, marketing, invoicing, selling, social media posting, blogging, and so much more. At some point you will need to let go of the control of many of these responsibilities, otherwise you will be limiting the growth of your business. Some tasks should be automated, others will require bringing team members into the mix (on-site or virtually). Whatever the case, keep an eye on others that specialize in what you specifically would consider a support task. The key thing to remember is your goal is to work on the business and not always in the business.

Most entrepreneurs fall into the trap of thinking that the best way to get something done is to do it themselves. Not true!

11. What systems should I have in place? Systems are a way of life, there are systems everywhere you go, helping you do everything from raising a baby, planting crops, developing your network and to help you grow your business. Regardless of it's complexity or simplicity, you will need a system in place to manage your customers, marketing, accounting, prospecting and that’s not even taking into account systems in place to manage inventory and help you further explore the products and services you develop and provide. Start with your biggest tasks, look for ways to make more efficient your processes. Time is your most precious resource and any systems you put in place should help you become more productive and more efficient, saving you time and money.

12. Are my customers happy? The best way to determine the happiness of your customers is to ask them. Don't be afraid of the answers they give you and always hear what they have to say. Your customers will tell you everything they love about you but work hard to find out what it is that you and your company need to improve upon. Growth will come when you fix the things that are wrong with your business. Don't get defensive or play the blame game when you have issues. Shoulder the responsibility, fix the problem, report back to your customer and check their temperature again. They will appreciate you more when you are imperfect, human and open to their suggestions. Never argue with a customer, even when you win, you lose.

Running a business can be very challenging. Add into the equation a beefy dose of worry, plus a dash of self-doubt, and pretty soon paralysis sets in. By keeping yourself focused on your goals and narrowing your goals into smaller, bite-size pieces, the bigger picture will often times be much more clear. I have found that clarity and specific action steps will help ease my worries and let me focus on the tasks at hand, allowing me to grow my business, with a few less worries.



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How to Stop! In A Go World.

I started to put air into my schedule. Well, not specifically air, but rather, the action of inhaling and exhaling air and deliberately breathing. It’s amazing what a few cleansing breaths can do for your life. So I got to thinking (always a dangerous thing for me), what if I actually put breathing as a line item on my schedule, and added a place for it on my to-do list. It would no longer be a distraction or an annoyance, but rather a goal. Always the overachiever, I want to accomplish everything on my schedule for the day. Plus, it allows me to strike through another item on my to-do list. Win-win.

I quickly found when I add this period of breathing time in my schedule these last few weeks, I relax more, not take the day with quite the same hectic pace anymore, and I seem to be more in tune with my body. Then I did something totally uncharacteristic for me, I took breathing to a whole new level. I starting taking breathing outside with me on walks. Inhaling. Exhaling. I even added yoga to my schedule. I am a guy who likes variety, and there is something very therapeutic about a cleansing breath or two while doing downward dog.

We can’t figure out why we are always tired, bloated, achy and allergic.

In the U.S., we run at a pace that is unrivaled by any other country and ironically, we wear this as a badge of honor. In other countries, they work hard too, but then they turn off, shut down, disconnect and stroll home after hours. We simply move our workload from the office to our cell phone during the commute home. And when we get home, we spend only a few minutes with our family, maybe take a moment to shove our prepared, processed, shelf stable, sodium pumped foods into our system. Then we flip open the laptop and get a few more hours of work done. The American Dream.

We are doing more harm to ourselves than we realize. The pace is chipping away at our physical and mental health as we try to reach toward the always elusive success quota. We can’t figure out why we are always tired, bloated, achy and allergic. What we really need is right in front of us, all around us and completely free. Air. If we could all learn to be as passionate about our health as we are about chasing the almighty dollar, things might start to get better.

Studies conclude you are actually more productive when you put a break or two (or even three) in your day.

Our bodies are chained to our desk chairs, we can never get it all done and we constantly feel like we are in a hurry, under the gun and running late. At that pace, we simply don’t allow ourselves a mental break. I am guilty of this as well, but this post is therapy for me too as I make my transition from an entrepreneur, writer, speaker, entertainer to a guy that is learning how to breathe more and appreciate what I have in my life.

It’s time to stop, in our go world. Schedule some “you” time. Literally, get “you” on the schedule. Worried about the loss in productivity? Think again, studies conclude you are actually more productive when you put a break or two (or even three) in your day. You will be amazed at how amazing that time slot will make you feel. Research also proves that scheduling a break in your day for yourself allows you an opportunity to control negativity, allows you to mentally recharge your batteries and gives you a chance to really appreciate all you have been able to accomplish.

At first, you may not know what to do with yourself. So here are a few suggestions:

  1. Take a nap (I suggest a great app called pzizz).
  2. Go for a power walk (No app needed, just your legs).
  3. Try some beginner yoga (The Yoga Studio app is great for 10 to 60 minute lessons).
  4. Read a book (My rule is the book should be just for fun).
  5. Meditate, it’s not just for hippies anymore.
  6. Write yourself into a story. Keeping a journal is a great way to chronicle your feelings while taking a break.
Working too much is a gateway activity with bad results like eating poorly, laziness and loneliness.

Working too much is a gateway activity with bad results like eating poorly (fast food, no food or processed food), laziness (inactivity outside of working) and loneliness (look around you when you are sitting and staring at your computer 14 hours a day, you are missing out on life). When in doubt of what to do or how to get some calmness into your life, just take a moment, be still wherever you are, and breathe once. Do it again. Repeat. I promise you will soon get the hang of it, and it will lead you to amazing places.

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Do You Suffer From Being Tone Prone?

If you have ever written an email or text message you will be able to relate to the following scenario; things are going great, you have a few exchanges back and forth and then, BAM! You read a line from a response just sent and think, “Is he mad at me?” You go back through your exchanges five, six, ten times trying to figure out where it all went wrong. Or did it go wrong at all? You wait a few minutes before sending another message, hoping your brain waves will simmer down a bit. What just happened?

Written words alone carry very little emotion and they lack tone.

What happened to you happens thousands of times each and every day, probably millions of times around the world, in every language known to man, ever since caveman drew hieroglyphics on cave walls. Text messages, emails (yes, hieroglyphics too) and the written word are very prone to misinterpretation. Couple that with life running by all of us a million miles an hour and we run the risk of having our tone misinterpreted. Diagnosis - Tone Prone.

How many ways can you say, ‘Are you happy now?’

When you speak to someone face to face you are able to read far more into the meaning of the message than words alone. Facial expressions, body language, emotions, vocal tone and loudness play significantly into the delivery of a message. Don’t discount the mood of the recipient either. Well intended messages falling upon a recipient in the wrong frame of mind can strike disaster. When you compose an email or hit the send button on a text message you are only providing one of many sources of information, the written word.

I’ll provide an easy example that will illustrate my point. See how many ways you can interpret this sentence. “Are you happy now?” Try saying aloud that same sentence but say it with empathy. Next, say it aloud as someone that has been disappointed. “Are you happy now?” Now, say it aloud sarcastically. Finally, say it as though you were someone that has just been hurt. For an added level of (mis)interpretation, do it in front of a mirror while mixing your delivery, facial expression and emotion. It easy to see how it can quickly get confusing.

Be sure brain is engaged before putting Send button in gear.

Words alone carry very little emotion and they lack tone. If you are tone prone an entire email can be misread, because you are trying to figure out exactly what the author is trying to say, reading between every line.

So how can you counteract misinterpretations if you are tone prone? First of all, I truly believe that we all suffer in various degrees from being tone prone. That being said, here are some of the ways to prevent our emails and texts (and hieroglyphics) from being misread:

  1. Keep your emails to one subject. Too many subjects create too many opportunities for tone to go astray.
  2. Keep your sentences short and to the point.
  3. Keep your humor to a minimum if the recipient is not a close, personal contact.
  4. Reassure the recipient you are absolutely willing to answer questions about your message.
  5. Respond within a timely fashion. People may get irritated and read “into” your words if they feel as though it took you an unreasonable amount of time to respond.
  6. There is nothing better than face to face to resolve a problem.
  7. Do not start a conflict in writing. Even if you want to get something off your chest, it’s best to do that face to face or over the phone.
  8. Punctuate only when needed. Overusing exclamation points can create an issue.
  9. Don’t over react. Keep your head in the right zone. Chances are good that nothing is wrong. Running into someone else’s office, asking them to read the exchange, may not be the answer. If there truly is a problem, work it out directly with the source.
  10. Keep your emails and messages to one call to action. Your recipient is busy too and if your message or email has many layers to it, you are setting yourself up to be disappointed.

Your day is busy, why complicate it by adding additional work for yourself? See how your emails and text exchanges stack up to the guidelines above. Try to remember, less is better than more and people will appreciate your brevity, so they can get on with their day as well. There are apps on the market today that can check your tone, help balance your message and shape the true meaning of your words. Personally, I believe if you rely upon your gut and think twice before you hit Send, you will reduce the majority of misinterpretations. Be sure brain is engaged before putting Send button in gear.

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