How to love the life you live and live the life you love

How to love the life you liveDo you love the life you live? Do you enjoy your work? Life should never be just about work, but it’s a big part of our lives, so it affects how we feel about ourselves.

Do you get up each morning feeling inspired by what you’ll be doing during the day ahead?

A good question to ask yourself is the one Steve Jobs asks in the video below, “If you knew that today was the last day of your life would you still be happy doing what you have to do today?”

Knowing we will die one day reminds us that our time is precious and we should use it wisely.

Life is short and none of us knows when our final moment will arrive. So we must follow our heart and focus our energy on work that really matters to us.

If your work matters to you then you’ll do it well. And if you do it well you’ll make a difference. Make a difference and you’ll leave a legacy. Do this and you’ll love the life you live.

How to love the life you lifeAll of this is easier said than done, of course.

Many people experience life without any real sense of satisfaction. Far too many people experience a lifetime of disappointment and regret too. This all adds up to people living lives they don’t love.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to accept a less than satisfactory life.

If your life is unsatisfactory then you need to change. And change is possible.

A good place to start is by listening to the inspiring observations from the late Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, contained in the video ‘If today were the last day of my life’ included below. His words are thought-provoking and powerful. I found this video truly inspirational and I recommend it to you.

How to love the life you live:

Before you watch the video, ask yourself this question. Between now and dead would you be happy to continue with the life you have right now?

No?

Then you must change and keep changing until you love the life you live.

Never accept second best because life’s far too short.

Remember: Whilst you have to make a living, you also have to make a life as well. So, have no regrets. Start making the life you want to live as quickly as possible. It’s later than you think.

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15 sharp and sometimes witty quotes by Mark Twain

Quotes by Mark TwainSamuel Langhorne Clemens is better known to us all by his pen name, Mark Twain.

In my opinion, he was one of the greatest American writer’s, as well as being a humorist, entrepreneur, publisher and lecturer.

In short, he was a major talent and much of what he had to say is worthy of our attention.

So here are 15 quotes by Mark Twain to emphasise my point.

Quotes by Mark Twain:

  1. If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything. ~Mark Twain
  2. Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company. ~Mark Twain
  3. Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. ~Mark Twain
  4. The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not. ~Mark Twain
  5. A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t read. ~Mark Twain
  6. The secret of getting ahead is getting started. ~Mark Twain
  7. Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see. ~Mark Twain
  8. Thousands of geniuses live and die undiscovered – either by themselves or by others. ~Mark Twain
  9. Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable. ~Mark Twain
  10. Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it. ~Mark Twain
  11. Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. ~Mark Twain
  12. The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time. ~Mark Twain
  13. Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been. ~Mark Twain
  14. The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter. ~Mark Twain
  15. I never let schooling interfere with my education. ~Mark Twain

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Have the courage to step out of your comfort zone

step out of your comfort zoneIf your aim is growth and achievement then playing it safe is unlikely to be the right strategy for you. You must face your fears dear reader. You must have the courage to step out of your comfort zone because we grow by taking on challenges throughout our lives. Overcoming challenges is always at the heart of any achievement worthy of note.

A life worth living is a life where you feel fully engaged.

And to feel truly energized and engaged with life you must stretch yourself to the limit of your potential.

Needless to say, you can only find the limit of your potential if you step out of your comfort zone.

Sadly many people, if not most, never have the courage to step outside their comfort zone. They prefer to live where they feel safe.

Staying within your comfort zone is fine of course, if that’s what you want, but you can’t really call it living, can you? It’s existing perhaps but not really living, in my opinion.

You cannot grow from within the safety of your comfort zone. That’s simply a fact.

You’ll find that life begins to have a real buzz when you take the first step beyond your comfort zone. That’s what you might call living on the edge. Inevitably it’s scary of course but you really do begin to feel energised. It’s where you’ll feel a real sense of exhilaration.

Yes, of course, it involves risk, that’s true. However, risk and reward go hand in hand. No risk; not reward.

Stepping outside your comfort zone doesn’t guarantee success and of course, you might fail. In fact, you’ll certainly experience some failures along the way, because everyone does.

Experiencing failures is an inevitable part of chasing success because success lies on the far side of failure. However to get to second base and beyond, you must be prepared to take your foot off first base.

Successful people don’t always make the right decisions. However, they’re willing to challenge themselves and they’re willing to persist long after everyone else has given up. They may fail but they learn from failure and they use what they’ve learned to work towards achieving their goals.

Dear reader, let me tell you something. You have enormous potential and you can achieve anything if you want it badly enough and you’re prepared to work hard for it.

Certainly, you’re capable of achieving great things.

However, you must set yourself challenging goals and you must be prepared to step out of your comfort zone. If you can face that discomfort and keep on going then you really can become the person you’re destined to be.

It’s easier to stay within your comfort zone of course and you’ll feel safe that way but nothing beats the feeling of winning and achieving those challenging goals you’ve set yourself. A life of safety first can be really dull.

If every obstacle must first be overcome before you start then you’ll never achieve anything.

Playing it safe is actually a bigger risk than stepping beyond your comfort zone.

By playing it safe you take the risk that you’ll never experience the satisfaction of real achievement. And it’s always better to try and fail than it is to spend your life wondering what might have been.

Stepping beyond your comfort zone means embracing uncertainty, of course. However, the quality of your life will depend on the amount of uncertainty you can bear.

So go on, live a little.

Step out of your comfort zone right now and take that tiger for a ride. You’ll be glad you did.

Building the courage to step out of your comfort zone:

To reinforce the message in this theme, you might find the embedded video from Brian Tracy inspiring.

In it, Brian offers some wise words on building the courage to break out of your comfort zone. It’s well worth your time and I recommend it to you.

Further listening:

If you found the video inspiring then you might be keen to hear more from Brian Tracy.

I think he’s a fantastic motivational speaker and I listen to his audio programmes all the time.

One I can highly recommend is:-

Eat that Frog: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time.

I bought my own personal copy of this one about two years ago and I’ve found it extremely inspiring and useful. I still listen to it frequently when I’m driving and every time I listen I learn something new.

It is definitely worth adding to your own personal development library. Click on the link above to check it out.

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11 wise sayings about life lessons and what they mean

11 wise sayings about life lessonsToday dear reader, I offer you 11 wise sayings about life lessons and some observations about what I think they really mean for your life.

I hope you find this interesting.

Wise sayings about life lessons:

1. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. ~English Proverb

If you visit a foreign country, with a different culture to that found in your own, then the best way to get along with local people is to respect their culture and their way of doing things.

Essentially it’s all about respecting and adhering to their way of life, as far as reasonably possible.

Respect people and they’ll appreciate it.

Learn a little bit of their language and you’ll really connect with them. They won’t mind if you don’t get all the words and pronunciation completely correct. It’ll probably make them smile a little and they’ll really appreciate you making the effort.

Treat people with respect and they’ll treat you with respect. It’s that simple.

2. Be contrary and be known. ~Arab Proverb

If you want to get yourself noticed then a ‘me too’ approach to life is unlikely to get you very far. When you’re just like everyone else then how can you stand out in the crowd?

If you really want to get noticed then you need to offer something a bit different, surely?

To stand out in the crowd then you’ll need to dress differently, have an unusual hairstyle or offer something new.

Go against the accepted thinking of the day and you’ll get noticed.

Suggest something which goes against the received wisdom of the day and people might just listen if you back up your observation with a reasoned argument.

Be different, be contrary and you’ll get noticed.

Back it up with real substance and you will make a permanent impression on public consciousness.

Elvis Presley was like nothing that went before him; neither were The Beatles.

These were people who had a look, style and approach all of their own. They made a genuine impact and they changed peoples’ outlook on life permanently.

In other words, they made their mark and you can too.

3. A beautiful thing is never perfect. ~Egyptian Proverb

There’s no such thing as perfect; certainly not when we are talking about people.

We’re all imperfect in some way.

However, that’s what makes us interesting as individuals. And it’s also what makes it easier for other people to live with us because no matter how good we are in some way, there are also ways in which we are not quite so good.

So accept your imperfections. Work to your strengths and minimise your weaknesses and do the best you can with whatever you have at your disposal. If you do that you can succeed.

4. There’s no shame in not knowing; the shame lies in not finding out. ~Russian Proverb

How often do people refrain from asking a question for fear that they might look a little stupid? Does that ring a bell with you dear reader?

We’ve probably all done it at some point in our lives, wouldn’t you agree?

However, it’s rather silly if you think about it.

None of us can know everything, can we? There will always be gaps in our knowledge, that’s for sure.

So if you don’t know something, surely it’s better to find out? Better to ask a question, even if you appear foolish momentarily.

People might laugh but so what?

Intelligent people ask questions and it’s better to look a fool momentarily than proceed in ignorance. You may look a fool for not knowing but you’ll look an even bigger fool if you screw up because you didn’t ask.

Never, ever be afraid to ask a question if you don’t know.

That way you’ll learn. Any other way and you’ll never learn.

5. Experience is not always the kindest of teachers but it’s surely the best. ~Spanish Proverb

Education is a wonderful thing, I’m sure you’ll agree.

However, the best teacher by a country mile is the School of Hard Knocks at the University of Life.

Making mistakes and getting your fingers burned teaches you lessons you’ll never forget. And those lessons are invaluable.

That’s what they call experience and experience is a valuable commodity indeed.

Experience is the basis of all wisdom.

It’s also an essential element in finding out what you’re good at and what you enjoy.

And if you can find that sweet spot where what you’re good at coincides with what you enjoy doing then you really will begin to shine. So shine on my friend.

6. Having two ears and one tongue, we should listen twice as much as we speak. ~Turkish Proverb

How often are we so keen to get our point across that we don’t really listen to what the other person has to say? That’s a mistake.

Listening is one of the most important skills you can develop.

To quote Stephen R. Covey, Seek first to understand and then to be understood.”

In order to understand someone else’s point, you must listen first.

Listening is not the same as hearing.

Hearing is simply being aware of sounds going on around you.

Listening is absorbing what is being said and considering it carefully.

Listening requires both your ears and your brain to be engaged in the process simultaneously.

Naturally, you want to feel that your point of view matters.

If you listen to people first not only will they appreciate it but they’ll also start listening to you. If you’re showing them respect then they’ll do the same to you.

By listening to each other we can begin to understand each other.

And if we understand each other we have the basis for getting along together.

So listen more and talk less.

In this way, the world might just become a better place. Let’s hope so anyway.

7. Better to die than to live on with a bad reputation. ~Vietnamese Proverb

Some time ago, a friend of mine was working for a retailer and foolishly did something dishonest. The result was that he lost his job and damaged his reputation in the process.

Only when he began to realise how much damage he’d done to his reputation did he begin to realise how foolish he’d been.

Damaging your reputation can have serious consequences and you can often feel the impact of that for many years after the original indiscretion.

So, protect and value your reputation.

It’s one of the most important commodities you have to offer.

Whether you’re in employment or self-employed you’ll always be judged on your reputation. Gain a bad reputation and you’ll be judged harshly.

8. A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in. ~Greek Proverb

Your legacy in life will be based on what you’ve done for other people, regardless of whether you’ve benefitted from it yourself.

That’s how you’ll be remembered.

A civilised society depends on each of us making a contribution towards the greater good. We cannot just leave it all to someone else.

If you want your grandchildren and their children to enjoy a well-ordered and civilised society then you must be prepared to do something the result of which you may never see. The payoff for you will simply be the knowledge that future generations will benefit from your altruism.

Leaving something that enriches the lives of future generations would be a real and genuine legacy, wouldn’t you agree?

9. God gives the nuts but he doesn’t crack them. ~German proverb

You can’t expect everything to be done for you.

At some point, you have to do something for yourself.

If everything is done for you, you’ll never learn; you’ll never develop new skills, and you’ll never be able to deal with life.

So don’t try to avoid the chore, embrace it with enthusiasm and recognise that it’s in your own best interests to act.

10. A wise man makes his own decisions; an ignorant man follows public opinion. ~Chinese Proverb

Criticism can be uncomfortable, so it’s easy to be swayed by the majority view. However, how can we be sure that the majority view is correct? Perhaps they’re all wrong.

Just because a lot of people think something is so, it doesn’t mean that they have a monopoly on knowledge and common sense.

Rather than simply following the herd, it’s much better to consider a situation carefully, weighing up the various possibilities, and then forming your own opinion or making your own decision.

Think for yourself; don’t allow the herd to impose their thinking on you.

11. Every ass loves to hear himself bray. ~Proverb of Unknown Origin

As the old saying goes, empty vessels make the most sound.

However just because someone can talk a good game doesn’t mean they can play a good game.

People who are really good at something will demonstrate it by their actions not by their words. They’ll leave the talking to other people.

You’ll never impress anyone by singing your own praises.

However, you’ll win them over if you can demonstrate how good you are by the results you deliver.

So go on, start showing people what you can do.

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The secret to being a successful entrepreneur

The secret to being a successful entrepreneurHow often do you hear people say that they’d love to start their own business and become an entrepreneur?

People will tell you that they’d love to be a success in business, making a difference in peoples’ lives with great products and services.

Then they’ll add the caveat that unfortunately, the time’s not right for them at this moment. One day they’ll have a go but their circumstances won’t allow it at present.

However very few of those who say they’ll have a go, will ever actually have a go. They don’t really have the desire and they probably don’t understand the secret to being a successful entrepreneur anyway.

The only way to get rich:

As an entrepreneur, success is measured by the money you make. Let’s face it starting any business is all about making money for the owners. Otherwise, why would anyone bother?

And starting your own business can be a fantastic thing to do and, for most people, it’s the only way you’ll ever have the chance to make some serious money.

Certainly, you’re unlikely to get seriously rich working for someone else.

However, to succeed in business, first, you must get started.

The critical ingredient to success in business is getting off your butt and actually doing something about it.

And the best time to do it is now. Last year or the year before might have been better but otherwise now is always the best possible time. It’s simple really.

The secret to making money:

Getting off your butt is one thing but how do you make money as an entrepreneur? Well, dear reader pull up a chair and listen carefully for the secret is very simple.

The secret to making money as an entrepreneur is to solve problems for people. To make their lives easier in some way.

Solve problems; make money:

Every product you sell must solve a problem for the customer.

So if you can identify problems for which people need a solution and if you can offer those solutions, otherwise known as products, at value for money prices then you can make money and you can be successful.

Remember this too; you don’t necessarily have to be the first with a solution either. If you can improve on an existing solution in some way then you can still make some serious money. If you can ‘build a better mousetrap‘ then people will buy it.

For instance, Steve Jobs and Apple were not the first to offer cellular mobile phone handsets, and nor were Samsung. Yet these two companies both dominate the market for smartphones right now.

The secret to being a successful entrepreneurMake a difference:

Has your appetite for business been whetted, dear reader?

Do you have any ideas you think might make a difference?

You do?

Then you have to be prepared to take action. Having ideas means nothing unless you take action.

Ideas are ten-a-penny. Plenty of people have good ideas that never see the light of day.

Occasionally people will have good ideas but just leave it all too long and then someone else comes along with the same idea and makes serious money from it. That’s happened to me. I came up with a great idea for a teeshirt slogan. Failed to act and someone else came along with the same idea and it’s currently a best seller on Amazon. My loss; their gain.

Having ideas is easy. Implementation is the tough bit and there are too few people with the drive and determination to turn a good idea into a business opportunity and then make money from it.

So you must take action if you want to be a successful entrepreneur.

Not tomorrow; not next week; not next year; but right now.

Become a ‘doer’:

In my experience, true entrepreneurs are doers, they’re not dreamers.

So go on, get started right now.

Solve people’s problems and you’ll be on your way down the road to riches. It can be done and people do. And so can you! Go for it.

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33 life lessons learned that are best learned early

Life Lessons LearnedLife lessons learned for most of us are learned the hard way. Here are 33 of those lessons that are best learned at early as possible, ideally in your teens or early 20s.

Life lessons learned:

1. On experiencing life:

Wherever you are, be there. Be present and experience the moment. You’ll remember moments with friends and family all your life, whereas you’re unlikely to remember social media posts moments after you’ve read them. No experience beats having a good laugh with your friends and family.

2. On making choices:

As an adult, you’re free to make your own choices but you must accept any consequences that follow. A wise adult learns to make good choices because the choices you make will dictate the quality of the life you lead. Your choices really matter. Make too many bad ones and your life experiences won’t be very good at all.

3. On the future (1):

Where you’re going is more important than where you’ve been. The past was a series of lessons to be learned. The future is where you’ll spend the rest of your life. You can’t change the past but your future has yet to be written, and you’ve got the pen.

4. On the future (2):

The future is an endless stream of opportunities that you can choose to seize, or not. However poor your past may have been, that doesn’t mean you can’t seize new opportunities and exploit them to your own advantage. You can, with determination and hard work. And, never let anyone discourage you from having a go. Better to try and fail than to spend your life wondering what might have been

5. On asking questions:

Intelligent people ask questions. So, never be afraid to ask questions when you don’t understand something, or when you need clarification. Better to appear a fool momentarily than remain a fool permanently.

6. On attitude:

The greatest disability in life is a bad attitude. If you’ve got one you’d better change it, if you want your life to improve. Attitude matters. An average person with a positive attitude makes a much better employee than a genius with a chip on his or her shoulder.

7. On fairness:

Life isn’t fair. It never has been and it never will be. We’re all dealt a set of cards in life, and all we can do is to play that hand as best as we can. We could get angry about the unfairness of it all or we can just get on and make the best of what we have. The latter approach is much easier on our nerves, in my experience.

8. On bullying:

When you’re having fun at someone else’s expense, remember it may be fun to you, and you may not mean any harm, but for the other person the impact of such an experience can be humiliating, upsetting and it can cause significant, lasting and often permanent psychological damage to that person. So remember, it isn’t fun at all, if it isn’t fun for the other person. If it isn’t fun for them, it’s actually just bullying. And if you’re bullying, you’re not being cool, you’re being nasty.

9. On judging others (1):

You’re free to judge others if you’re absolutely sure that you’re perfect in every way. If your conclusion is that you’re not quite perfect then why would you expect others to be?

10. On judging others (2):

For everyone life is a struggle. No one is without problems, despite any external signs to the contrary. We just have to keep going for it’s the only way. Life goes on and we must too. If you’ve not walked two miles in someone else’s shoes, you’re not in a position to judge them. So, don’t.

11. On authenticity:

Authenticity is simply being who you are and not trying to be who you think you should be or who you think you’re expected to be. People will respect you for being who you are. An original is always better than a fake.

12. On trust:

Trust takes years to build and seconds to break. And once broken the way you’re seen by others will never be quite the same again. Trust is a valuable and precious commodity. Protect it.

13. On reputation:

Never underestimate the importance of your personal reputation. And if you wouldn’t be happy to read something about yourself on the front pages, don’t do it.

14. On communication:

If you want to tell anyone anything, speak softly and you’ll find that they’re much more likely to listen to you.

15. On success:

No one can ever be a failure but everyone can be a success. Failure is not a person it’s just an outcome you didn’t want. It’s also an opportunity to try again with greater knowledge and experience. Everyone can achieve some degree of success, if they believe in themselves, they’re determined and they’re willing to work hard.

16. On priorities:

We all have the same amount of time. 168 hours a week. It’s how we choose to use it that dictates whether we achieve anything significant or not. Time is a resource, pure and simple. So, decide on your priorities and allocate your time accordingly. And just because someone wants a piece of your time, doesn’t mean you’re obliged to give it to them. If it’s not a priority, nor an obligation, just say NO.

17. On watching television:

Few people seem to recognise this but there’s a significant cost to watching television. Not the cost of purchasing the television set or any cable or satellite subscriptions you may have. The real cost is the opportunity cost of your time. That is the time you spend watching television. Time is money and you could be doing something more profitable with your time. Learning something new perhaps or running your own little income-generating side-hustle.

18. On qualifications (1):

Most of the work done by most people in life doesn’t require a college degree at all. If you have one that’s great, but stay humble. A motivated individual with common sense and decent reading, writing and arithmetic skills can succeed in life without one.

19. On qualifications (2):

You may need a college degree to work for an employer but you don’t need one to work for yourself. If it’s your business, you make the rules.

20. On qualifications (3):

Plenty of people graduating from Harvard will end up working for people who didn’t. So, stay humble. Studying at a top university is no guarantee for career success, nor does it guarantee wealth. A Harvard, Oxford, or Cambridge degree may look good on your CV but five years after graduation the only thing that will really matter is what you’ve actually achieved in the workplace since.

21. On experience:

Doing is by far the best way to learn. The classroom is useful, of course, but nothing beats doing and learning from your mistakes. Making mistakes will teach you lessons that you’ll never forget. And learning from your mistakes will give you that valuable commodity known as experience. Knowing the theory is useful, whereas having experience is essential.

22. On employability:

You don’t sell who you are. You sell what you can do and the value you can add. Every job is about doing stuff for other people and delivering results. What is it you can do and what can you confidently deliver? Before you go for any job interview, make sure you have answers to these questions and make sure you can give examples of stuff you’ve actually delivered on previous occasions.

23. On work (1):

Employers can quickly replace you with someone just like you and you’ll be forgotten quickly. So be professional in carrying out your duties, of course, but not at the expense of your own interests or those of your loved ones.

24. On work (2):

Make sure you take good care of yourself. Employers will take everything you give and a bit more besides but if you died tomorrow your job would be posted online before your obituary. You’ll be replaced within days and the memory of your presence won’t last long.

25. On making money:

To make money you have to be doing stuff for other people. To make a serious amount of money you have to be doing stuff for multiple people simultaneously, even when you’re asleep. Sounds impossible but it can be done. For instance, serving the many with your own digital products, sold online, can lead to great wealth.

26. On sales:

Successful selling is not about tricking people into buying something they don’t need. The art of selling is in proactively finding customers who’ve got problems for which your products can provide the ideal solution. If you can offer solutions to problems, you’ll find customers in need of what you have to sell. Find the right customers and a good product will sell itself.

27. On change (1):

It’s easier to remain as you are than it is to change but unless you change your life will not improve. Embracing change is hard but it is well worth the effort.

28. On change (2):

For things to change, you have to change. For things to get better you have to get better. You can become more than you are but it won’t happen by accident. It all starts with you saying, I can; I will; and I won’t stop until I get there. And you must make any changes necessary.

29. On finding a life partner:

You’ll find, as you go through life, that Mr or Miss Perfect doesn’t exist. If you’re looking for a life partner, find someone whose faults you can live with. Yes, you’ll need to enjoy each other’s company. And yes, you’ll need to have things in common. However, everyone you meet will have faults of their own, even if they’re not immediately apparent.

30. On children (1):

When you have young children they need your attention much more than your mobile phone does. Your children should be your priority, particularly in the early years. You’re their role model. Be a positive role model and give them all the attention they deserve. The years pass quickly and your children, good or bad, are your legacy to the world.  Social media can wait. Anything less is simply a disservice to your child.

31. On children (2):

Children need continuity and they need boundaries. They need to be brought up with a set of values too. Fail to give them those things and you fail as a parent. Materialism is no substitute for the things that really matter most.

32. On your social life:

You’ll never fit into every social group, nor should you try. Just focus on finding a group of people that are right for you. In other words, find your tribe. People that are welcoming to you, with interests like yours and personalities that appeal to you. It’s better to be in the company of people that appreciate your company, rather than trying to fit into groups that don’t really want you there at all.

33. On experts:

There are plenty of people referred to as experts whose ideas and recommendations can prove to be stupid beyond belief. Listen to experts by all means but then use your own judgement. Don’t be fooled by people, just because they’ve got an impressive job title. If your instinct says they’re wrong, have the courage of your own convictions and act accordingly. Just because an ‘expert’ said it, doesn’t mean you have to accept it.

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8 Top Business Tips for Success Today

Business Tips for SuccessBusiness tips for success:

I read an article recently about a guy with a college degree who was feeling disillusioned because he couldn’t find a job. At least not one that met his expectations relative to the type of job and income he felt his degree merited.

Well, it’s a tough world out there, as I’m sure you know only too well dear reader, and despite what some people may think, the world doesn’t owe us a living. The world owes us nothing and it’s down to us to make a life for ourselves.

Work is just doing stuff for other people in return for money and there will always be people with stuff that needs doing. So rather than seeking a job, perhaps we’d all be better off if we focused on seeking customers for the services we could provide.

That’s at the heart of what business is all about, providing people with solutions to their problems for profit, and there’s much to be said for becoming an entrepreneur.

So today let’s explore some business tips for success for entrepreneurs.

The advantages of self-employment:

There are many advantages to being self-employed.

For instance, not having to deal with office politics is a big advantage for a start.

And of course, being the beneficiary of all of the proceeds of your hard work is another good reason.

Instead of making a lot of money for other people, you could be making it all for yourself. The harder you work the more you make for yourself too.

Unless you’re a lawyer or an investment banker, the chances are the only way you’ll ever make serious money is through building your own business. Building a business that one day you’ll be able to sell for a lot of money.

However, remember this; you might think that if you’re self-employed then you’re your own boss. Well, that’s not true. The customer is the boss, always.

Serve customers badly and you won’t be serving them for very long, that’s for sure.

The first rule of business is that you must know thy customer.

You must gain a deep understanding of the products, services and marketing that will appeal to your target customer.

One size will not fit all and each market will require a different approach.

Now going into business is not for the faint-hearted. You must be prepared to work very hard, at least in the early days, when you’re trying to establish your business.

However, if you can provide your target customers with real solutions to real problems then you can make serious money.

If someone else is already offering a solution to the target problem then your solution must be better or cheaper than theirs in some way if it is to sell.

Creating great products and offering great customer service is the route to business success.

However never forget your reputation and image. These things matter too.

Make sure you create an image that will appeal to as wide an audience as possible. Running your own business will be a challenge but it can also be extremely rewarding, both financially and in terms of a sense of achievement.

Remember also that running a small business is not a whole lot different to running a large business. The only real difference is one of scale. The key issues are always the same.

So here are some top business tips for success for would-be entrepreneurs:-

Top business tips for success today:

1. Control your costs:

Of the many business tips for success I could suggest, none can be more important than keeping an eye on the money.

Money comes into your business and money goes out. It’s that simple.

However, if you fail to ensure that the former is always greater than the latter, at least for most of the time, then trouble will follow at some point, whatever the size of your business.

A bigger business might be able to weather the storm a bit longer but the consequences of expenditure consistently exceeding income will be the same. Keep losing money and eventually, your business will go bust.

Take every opportunity to maximize your revenue and always keep your costs as low as you can. And never, ever lose sight of cash flow.

Don’t spend money unless it is absolutely necessary.

Ask yourself, do I really need to spend this money? What will I get in return? Can I achieve the same result at less or even no cost?

It might surprise you to learn how frequently it is possible to avoid cost, whilst still doing all the things big businesses do.

The key message here is that you must keep an iron-grip on costs and you must manage cash flow carefully.

2. Do your own market research:

Every product should solve a problem for your customer and you should have some idea of what that problem is and how your product will solve it relative to other products offered by your competition.

Just because you think you’ve got a great product, doesn’t mean customers will see it that way. Your opinion means nothing if there are not enough people willing to buy your product at the price you’re trying to charge for it.

If your product won’t sell then potentially your business could be in trouble.

Perhaps you think you’ve spotted a gap in the market?

If it’s a genuine gap then you might be on to a winner. However, a gap in the market doesn’t always guarantee that there is a market within that gap. Maybe there’s a reason for the gap which you’ve yet to understand.

In business, the trick is to find out what people really want and then offer it to them.

How do you find that out?

One very good way is simply to ask them yourself.

I’m not referring to your family and friends here. They’ll be far too polite to give you any meaningful feedback.

You must talk to real customers, if and when you have them, and potential customers.

You can conduct some of your own market research in your local shopping mall or wherever you think your target customers might congregate. And don’t be shy. Only by actually talking to people can you confirm whether your ideas have real potential.

So, identify some basic questions, stand there with a clipboard and just start asking people, as politely as possible.

Often they’ll be far more helpful than you might expect.

And don’t forget you can always use the Internet too.

Search engines like Google have keyword search tools that are free to use. These tools allow you to get a ‘rough and ready’ measure of what people are searching for and how frequently.

And don’t forget social media. Facebook and Twitter, for instance, can be great channels for asking questions, so you can gauge what people think.

Market research doesn’t have to be expensive. As a small business entrepreneur, it is possible to do it yourself. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on this activity but it’s essential that you do it.

Your results might not be quite as scientific as those produced by the professional market research people, but they will provide you with a rough guide and that’ll probably be good enough in the first instance.

3. Advertising costs money: is there a better way?

Another of the most important business tips for success has to be visibility. I cannot stress highly enough that visibility matters, both for your business and your products. It’s absolutely crucial.

Your products might be the best in the world but they won’t sell at all if potential customers have no idea they exist. Surely that much is obvious.

The question is, how does any business ensure that customers have visibility of its products? The obvious answer is advertising of course.

However, media advertising can be costly, and it’s a cost that new businesses often cannot afford.

One small advert in the back of a glossy magazine can cost you a lot of money and yet you have to ask yourself whether that would be money well spent?

How often do you notice the small advertisements in the back of a magazine? In my case, the answer is not very often.

With so many advertisements competing for my attention, I tend to filter them all out. I’m willing to bet that you do too dear reader.

So, if you’re not careful, money spent on advertising can be money wasted in my experience.

A better approach might be to use some creative thinking with a focus on public relations.

Smart entrepreneurs know that business is show business. It’s all about getting noticed.

For example, the entrepreneur Richard Branson is a brilliant exponent at getting media attention at little or no financial cost to his business.

It helps that he’s a likeable guy of course but he’s also clever and creative in his approach.

If you have an interesting back story perhaps the local press, local radio or even television might be willing to run a story on you and your business and the products you have to offer?

Social media can be a powerful medium for gaining attention for your business too.

Social media is also a useful way of driving traffic to your company’s website, particularly Pinterest which is an incredible tool.

Then there’s using search engine optimization (SEO) techniques on your website content to ensure you drive traffic to your site from the search engines.

Let’s face it, you do need to appear on the first page of a Google search if there’s to be any chance of anyone noticing you and your business through search queries. So, if you can optimize your website for SEO, then you can get enormous amounts of traffic from Google and other search engines, like Bing and Yahoo.

Make sure you offer visitors to your company website the opportunity for signing up for a regular email newsletter. And give them an incentive to sign up.

This could be a free report or perhaps a discount code for one of your products.

How about running a competition using your company’s fan page on Facebook or your company website?

The price of say a smartphone or a Kindle or other desirable electronic device as a prize would be cheaper than the cost of a small advert in a glossy magazine but it’s more likely to get noticed and it’ll probably generate a lot more excitement.

If you have a car or van; don’t forget that it can be emblazoned with your company logo, your website details and product information on the back, sides and front. Even on the roof.

It would be free advertising as you’re driving around.

Park your vehicle at a big event attended by thousands of people and you’re beginning to master the art of guerrilla marketing.

The bottom line is that creative thinking and public relations can produce powerful results in your quest for visibility at a fraction of the cost of advertising. The key message is; be creative.

4. Don’t make yourself indispensable:

The biggest mistake any entrepreneur or business manager can make is to think that every decision should be made by them.

If you’ve started a business from scratch you tend to form an emotional bond with it. It becomes your baby and you become very protective of it.

That’s natural of course but as the business grows you’ll have so many things to do that you couldn’t possibly do them all.

You could try, of course. However, if you try to do everything you’ll find yourself falling behind in key areas like product sourcing, sales and keeping your accounts up to date.

Fall behind, and it becomes very hard to catch up. Potentially it is also very damaging for the business.

So you have to learn the art of delegation.

A good start would be to document every task and process within the business and then create an Operations Manual. This can include everything from the preferred method for answering the phone to completing invoices and dealing with complaints.

It can also include the degree of flexibility which you are delegating to staff, so they can get on with basic tasks allowing you to get on with those activities which are much more important for achieving business success.

No business should be dependent solely on one person.

If it is and that person gets seriously ill or has an accident then obviously the business would be in trouble very quickly and it would struggle.

Delegate basic activities to your staff and you can be sure that the business will continue to function even when you’re not around.

It will also give you a bit more thinking time for steering the company towards bigger and better things.

The key message here is that you must delegate. Never delude yourself into thinking that only you can do a particular task.

5. Charge sensible prices:

If you’re to earn a decent income then any list of business tips for success must stress the importance of knowing the value you can add and know your worth too.

It’s easy when you’re a small business to undervalue your products and your time. The result is that you undercharge for what you have to offer.

This is particularly true when professionals are selling their expertise and time on the basis of a consultancy arrangement.

It’s common for first-timers to lack the confidence to charge what they might perceive to be a high rate for their services.

The problem is that selling things cheaply can be counter-productive because customers then think they’re getting an inferior product or service and can be put off.

It is a fact that price can often be used as a proxy measure for quality when your business is being judged.

You have to be very business-like when considering the pricing of your products and services.

So look at what your competitors are charging and then analyse where you think your products and services fit into the market.

If you struggle with that idea then you can always seek guidance from someone else, like a fellow business owner or your accountant.

However, you must always remember that you must believe in your products and services. If you don’t then why should anyone else?

You must project confidence.

If you don’t have the courage of your convictions then the chances are that your business will never succeed.

Believe in yourself and charge what you’re really worth. Sell yourself on the basis of the value you bring and the value you can add.

6. Make the best use of technology:

Sometimes small business owners think that because they are small they can only act in a small way. However, that can be a mistake.

Don’t be afraid to invest in your business. For instance, investing in up-to-date technology like the right phone system and websites do not have to be expensive but they can be the difference between a customer contacting you or not.

These days no business, large or small, can operate without a website.

And that website needs to be as user-friendly as it possibly can be.

Make sure your website provides customers and potential customers with the opportunity to sign up for a regular email newsletter. And as suggested earlier, offer them an incentive so they do sign up.

Ensure also that your telephone system allows customers to reach you at their first attempt. Certainly, customers won’t make too many attempts to call you before they’ll simply go elsewhere.

If you don’t know how to do all this yourself then go on a course or seek guidance from someone with the right expertise.

Good communications will pay handsome dividends over time.

7. Set goals:

Another in this list of business tips for success, that I want to really stress here, is the importance of goal-setting.

You have to know what it is you’re trying to achieve if you’re to have any chance of successfully achieving it.

Never set your sights too low either. Set yourself a challenge and then put all your energy into achieving it.

Once you’ve set a goal then you need to establish a plan as to how it is going to be achieved.

For instance, if your goal is to achieve a certain level of turnover over the next year, you have to break that down into the small steps you will need to take for it to be achieved.

How many sales will you need to achieve each day, each week and each month?

What implications will those sales targets have for production?

Do you have enough sales staff to generate that amount of business?

And so on.

Always create a plan and review it regularly making adjustments as and when necessary.

8. If you got a great idea then do something with it:

How many great ideas never see the light of day because the person with the idea fails to do anything about it?

And how many times does someone with an idea see someone else come along with the same idea and beat them to market?

Let me give you an example. Two years ago I thought up a great idea for a teeshirt slogan. However, I was busy and so in the end I didn’t do anything about it. Fast forward two years, and the other day I noticed one of the best selling teeshirts on Amazon was one bearing the slogan that I’d thought up.

Someone else had the idea too, but they actually did something about it. And they’re now benefitting from the income generated. From my standpoint, great opportunity missed.

Procrastination stops many entrepreneurs from cashing in on a great idea. Don’t let this be you.

If you’re waiting for the perfect time to do anything you will be waiting for the rest of your life.

Now is always the perfect time to start.

Don’t wait until you think the economy will be better or your children have left home or some other arbitrary barrier.

The right time to start your business is right now.

So go for it. Yes, you’ll make mistakes. You won’t get everything right the first time. You won’t become an instant millionaire either.

However, by getting started you’ll be heading in the right direction and you’ll learn along the way.

Hard work combined with implementing good ideas will get you there eventually.

Business Tips for SuccessConcluding Remarks:

I hope these business tips for success prove useful to you dear reader.

However please note, this blog post was not intended to be a comprehensive guide for entrepreneurs.

You’ll find many excellent books on the subject and I recommend that you make a point of reading as many of them as you can because educating yourself is always a good idea. It doesn’t have to be formal education. Self-education can be just as good in practice. And then, of course, you can start creating your own list of business tips for success.

And the best form of education in my experience is to learn by doing. You will make mistakes but the lessons learned from those mistakes will be far more valuable to you than anything anyone can teach you in a classroom.

Being an entrepreneur can be a roller coaster ride but it can be a fantastic and enriching experience too. So if you fancy it, go for it.

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Brian Tracy: Habits of success anyone can learn

Habits of SuccessIf you want to be successful, then you must develop good habits. That’s a reasonable statement, don’t you think dear reader?

However what habits should they be? That’s not quite so easy to answer, I hear you say.

Well fear not in the video included here Brian Tracy presents some interesting ideas on the habits of success.

I admire Brian Tracy and I listen to his audio programs in my car all the time.

In my opinion, Brian Tracy is always excellent and always full of wise words and good advice.

And I can tell you that this video is well worth your time.

So let Brian tell you more about habits which he believes are consistent with achieving success. Take a few minutes out of your schedule because you will find it well worth a little piece of your time.

Habits of Success:

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Why an investment in knowledge pays dividends

KnowledgeAn investment in knowledge pays the best interest. ~Benjamin Franklin

You don’t get paid for the hour; you get paid for the value you put into the hour. It’s important everyone understands that important distinction dear reader.

You get paid for the value you add.

The more value you can add the more you will get paid.

It’s really that simple.

If you can solve problems for people with the skills you’ve got, then you can earn an excellent living.

The question is what underpins your skills and your ability to add value? The answer to that question would be knowledge, of course.

Knowledge comes from learning and learning is a lifelong process.

The quote at the top of this post from the venerable Benjamin Franklin reminds us of the importance of learning. Learning is an investment in ourselves.

We all have enormous capacity to consume and retain knowledge in our heads and that knowledge is then a currency with which we can trade. The more knowledge we have the more value we can add.

When it comes to investing, nothing will pay you a better dividend than making sure you have a good education. And I stress, it’s a lifelong process. It doesn’t end when you leave school or college.

And it’s not about whether or not you went to college or university. Important as they may be, learning can be achieved in many ways.

Knowledge can be gained through reading books; listening to audio and video tutorials, and challenging yourself to master anything that appeals to you. Learning from hands-on experience, making mistakes and learning the lessons you can take from any mistakes you’ve made.

In particular, if you want to master the game of money and all matters financial then you need to become a seeker of financial knowledge and know-how.

You need to become a reader and a keen student of finance. To be successful in investing, of course, you really need to know what you’re doing. You need financial education.

Ignorance can prove to be very costly indeed. And that’s true in every aspect of your life.

Getting an education may seem expensive but it’s nowhere near as expensive as ignorance.

So, if you’re not already, become a reader.

The investment in yourself is well worth the effort and it’ll pay you a handsome dividend.

As the late, great Jim Rohn once said, “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.”

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Here’s why the only disability in life is a bad attitude

the only disability in life is a bad attitudeHave you experienced a lot of adversity in your life dear reader?

Maybe you’re feeling a little bit sorry for yourself?

Life hasn’t been fair to you today, possibly?

If life’s being unfair, you might feel that you’re entitled to have a bad attitude. Everyone’s doing fine but you, so why shouldn’t you let the world know that you’re not happy, right? We all feel that way occasionally, don’t we?

Well, maybe. However if you’re trying to get people on your side with a negative attitude then you really should think again. No one will be joining you at the pity party. You won’t find anyone that is sympathetic to a bad attitude, trust me.

If there’s one genuine disability in life it’s a bad attitude.

It’s a fact that negativity never impresses anyone, ever.

It doesn’t get people on your side, it will simply alienate them. You’ll be pushing them away rather than gathering their support.

Life isn’t fair. If never has been and it never will be. That’s a fact too.

You’ll find that life doesn’t care about what you want. It doesn’t care about what anyone wants.

It doesn’t care about any sense of entitlement you may have.

Nor does life care that you feel that you should have a bigger piece of the pie.

In my experience, life is what you make it. Nothing happens by accident, unless you’re very, very lucky. And no one is that lucky consistently.

The life you enjoy, or don’t enjoy, will be defined by your attitude.

It’s not about what happens to you. Stuff happens to us all.

Yes, it’s true, some people bear a greater share of life’s challenges than others. However, ultimately, your life will be defined by how you respond to everything that happens to you.

No matter how tough life gets, a positive attitude will take you further than a negative one ever will.

A positive attitude is the most powerful response to life’s misfortunes.

It says, you can knock me down as many times as you like but you won’t keep me down. I will get up and I will keep getting up until I get to where I’m going.

Now that sort of attitude really does impress people.

Life responds positively to those with a positive attitude. I can tell you that from personal experience.

You’ll find that a positive attitude will always get people on your side. Show them that you can rise above everything life throws at you and you’ll have their respect.

In the embedded video included below, Matthew Jeffers, a senior acting major at Towson University in Maryland, provides us all with an inspiring message with the letter he wrote to the Baltimore Ravens, his favourite NFL team.

The letter was entitled “A Reason to Win” and it’s all the more impressive when considered against Matthew’s own struggles with Skeletal Dysplasia.

The ultimate lesson is that life’s not going to cut you any slack just because you’re feeling sorry for yourself.

Attitude is everything. If you believe you can, you will; if you believe you can’t, you won’t. It’s that simple.

Many people experience tough lives and however hard your life is there’ll be plenty of people out there whose lives are far tougher than yours. Many people experience disabilities of varying degrees of severity but actually, as Matthew Jeffers observes, the only real disability in life is a bad attitude.

So if you’re feeling a bit dispirited right now, take a good hard look at yourself and think about the positives you have in your life, rather than constantly focusing on the negatives.

This video will inspire you, so take a look at it now. It’s well worth a few minutes of your time.

The only disability in life is a bad attitude:

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