Build a Business that Works for You

Do you work for your business or does your business work for you? 

I think all business owners and entrepreneurs could benefit from answering this question.

If life were to catch you off guard, or perhaps if you wanted to take a couple days or months away from the business would it continue to thrive? Would it just survive? Or would it shrivel up and die?

Life is unpredictable, and we probably started a business to create freedom and flexibility in our lives. So this is another reason why systems are so important: documented & duplicatable systems keep you from becoming a slave to your business, so you can have the success and freedom that you work so hard for.


1. Remember Why Your Started

We want our businesses to provide maximum value and impact, in a consistent and seamless way and we can accomplish this by building businesses that are independent and intentional.

Why did you start your business?

Many people would say they wanted to create a better life. A life with more time, more money, more flexibility, more freedom, and more fun. 

Yet, many business owners find themselves working tirelessly, and often end up with the complete opposite. Don’t feel bad if this is you, because at one point or another all entrepreneurs get lost like this, so they are pushed to figure it out if they want to succeed and evolve.

It’s crucial to regularly come back to the center and remember why you started. It’s important as well to regularly evaluate the purpose your business was supposed to serve in your own life.

Remember that your business is there to serve a purpose for your life too, not just everyone in and around your life.


2. Create a Business that Doesn’t Depend on You

The key to growing your business is structuring it in a way that it won’t depend on you.

You want a business that works to serve your life, delight your customers, and engage your team. The goal is a business that can be independent and grow in alignment with your vision and values with or without your supervision.

Developing systems that clearly describe how your business will look, act, feel and perform can help you accomplish this. Think of this like your business blueprint.

Having clear guidance ensures that in the event that you are not active in the day to day operations of your business, your team will confidently know what to do thanks to clear intentionally prepared systems.


3. Get Systematized

Once you are clear on why you started and what your business’s purpose is, then you can start focusing on developing the systems to support & maintain that.

Systemization is about freeing up your business from being dependent on any one person. This makes sure that your customers’ experience doesn’t change as your business may grow, expand, and evolve.

Business Systems & Business Processes: What’s the difference?

A Business System is like an overarching or core element that you are looking to implement in your business consistently. A system helps your business run like a well oiled machine.

Business Processes are the building blocks that make a business system effective. The processes are all of the things you do in order for the given system to work.

Business Processes can also be known as standard operating procedures or SOP’s, and are commonly used like checklists. Essentially any process can be given to an employee and completed without training. Processes are known to consistently improve customer service & customer experience.

The system is the goal, and the processes are what make the system effective, so all must make sense & work together.


Why Systems are Essential

Systems are essential for expanding your organization, improving business functions, adding new people and products, growing your revenue, improving profit margins, escaping your business temporarily, and even your final exit of the business someday.

Systems are often up for debate among many small businesses leaders because some find developing these systems to be redundant, time consuming, and boring. Especially, when there is a seemingly endless list of other tasks to do first.

Many small business owners are stuck in a difficult position. A position in which many don’t have the time to work on their business because they are too busy working in it.

They also can rarely take time away because they haven’t been able to develop the systems and processes needed to run smoothly on auto-pilot. So not all business owners are able to navigate their way out and some become stuck-shackled to their business.

Which leads me to the conclusion that there is a false lack of urgency around business systems, which makes sense but it can be costly.

How Systems & Processes Can Save Your Business

  1. Can save you valuable time
  2. Can save you on labor costs
  3. Can prevent errors & inconsistency
  4. Can bridge communication gaps
  5. Can provide you leverage & scalability
  6. Can make your business a more valuable asset in the future
  7. Can increase consistency, efficiency, and effectiveness
  8. Can build your authority & credibility

There are plenty of benefits that strong systems can provide, like enhancing employee buy in, and building a community of supportive followers that trust you.

Even though systems are overwhelming and time consuming, they can be the key to unlocking the full potential of your organization.


What Business Systems are Most Important?

Technically, anything in a business can be systematized but there are really four foundational types of systems to implement regardless of industry, or the current size of your business. These are always a good place to start.

  1. Marketing System- You use this to generate a consistent flow of leads into your business. Nearly half of small business owners run marketing entirely on their own and most of these do so without a plan. Without a plan, your results will be completely random and uncontrollable. Marketing is a journey that you need to guide your prospect through in order to reach your desired goal. So creating a marketing plan and systematizing that will ensure that your efforts are the most effective.
  2. Sales System- Used to nurture leads, follow up with them, and hopefully convert them into paying customers. Here you will want to build on their interest in your offer, and really push the benefits of taking your relationship to the next stage. Your ultimate goal in this phase is to build relationship and establish trust.
  3. Fulfillment System- This system focuses on the reason you want to turn your customers into lifelong supporters, fans, and friends. You want to increase the chances they will buy from you again, and refer new business to you more regularly. Here you’ll want to think about how you plan to deliver a memorable experience, and how to foster an environment that keeps your customers coming back for more.
  4. Operational/Administrative Systems: these systems are regularly procrastinated or pushed to the end of the list. This is mainly because these are less exciting and more tedious systems to develop. Once you develop the systems for everything behind the scenes, then your business will change entirely. These activities take place on the back end of your business and include things like planning, goal setting, project management, communications, scheduling, maintenance, book-keeping, taxes, payroll, etc.

How to Easily Make Sense of a New System

These 4 simple elements can help you breakdown any essential task into a duplicatable system with less confusion & overwhelm.

  1. Process: Step by Step Actions
  2. Tools: Required devices, apps, software, etc. needed to complete objective
  3. People: The Person or People involved in each step of the process
  4. Strategies: The tactics, tips, or techniques you use

Example: Publishing This Blog Post

  1. Process: Research, Title, Outline, Write Draft, Revise, Create Graphic, Schedule, etc.
  2. Tools: Google, Google Docs, Word Press, Canva, etc.
  3. People: Me & One other person, etc.
  4. Strategies: SEO, List Building, Copywriting, Creative Writing, Graphic Design, etc.

Scaling a business is all about creating duplicatable systems that anyone in your organization can understand, implement, and improve upon with time. Once you are able to step back so that you can create the systems that your business needs to thrive, you will certainly reap the rewards of a business that works for you.


Inspiration for this blog comes from the highly valuable book: The E-Myth Revisited.

To learn more in-depth about topics like this every month join our community, attend a Boss Board, apply for the incubator program, or reach out with any questions!

What Is Partner Marketing and Is It Right For My Business?

Partner marketing is a marketing strategy involving the strategic collaboration of two businesses, or between a business and an individual that has a solid personal brand, in which both work to accomplish mutual goals together.


Benefits of a Marketing Partnership

  • Increased brand awareness 
  • Improved Clarity of Brand Identity
  • Works well as a B2C or B2B Marketing strategy
  • Broadens the purpose and scope of your marketing strategy
  • Can save time and money
  • Expands your target audience
  • Extends your Marketing Budget and Capability
  • Your giving added value to both audiences

Let’s establish that partnership marketing is kind of a broad term that includes many different categories underneath it. 

So we are going to uncover some of the popular types of marketing partnerships, what they are good for and whether or not they could be a good strategy for your business to implement.

Remember when pursuing potential partnerships, to first consider your future vision and goals. This will help you choose the partnerships that will most likely lead to mutual success, while also benefiting and connecting to your target audiences.


Most Popular Types of Partnership Marketing

  1. Affiliates, Influencers, and Ambassadors

A partnership with bloggers, social media influencers, and other content creators who your audience trusts within your niche. 

These kinds of partnership marketers will promote your business on their own channels, and then place the links to your business on their website, blogs, profiles, etc. . This means that when a person makes a purchase using an affiliates link, you will pay the affiliate or influencer a commission of that purchase.

This is best for companies that have high retention rates, mainly because they are more likely able to afford to pay their affiliates a commission every time they bring in a sale. 

Brand Ambassadors are similar, but their purpose goes a bit deeper. They intend to form a relationship with your audience, in hopes to influence them to take a desired action. They do so by sharing more authentic stories and experiences they have had with your business or product on social media.

Affiliates and influencers on the other hand, usually focus more heavily on making as many sales as possible. So while similar, they do have their differences. Making it important to establish goals and expectations early on, in order to know which is best for you.

Affiliate marketing programs usually work best for ecommerce, beauty, apparel, tech, health, and subscription based businesses.


  1. Strategic Alliances or Strategic Partnerships

These are carefully considered partnerships between two individuals or businesses that share the same values, visions, or goals. 

In a successful strategic alliance each partner is able to:

  • Increase their resources
  • Expand their audience
  • Strengthen their brands
  • Accomplish mutually beneficial goals
  • While still remaining independent.

If you’ve heard of co-marketing, affinity marketing, outsourcing partnerships, or even equity alliances, each are variations of a strategic alliance.

These types of partnerships are known to work beneficially for any type of business. As long as the partnership is formed with good intentions and careful consideration.

Since these alliances do tend to be long term in nature, there are some commonalities that make them so sustainable.

Some Common Traits of Successful Strategic Alliances:

  • The strategic partnership is essential to the achievement of a main business objective.
  • The partnership is indispensable in creating or maintaining any business aspect that functions as a competitive advantage.
  • The partnership improves the ability to overcome competitor threats.
  • The partnership builds, supports, or maintains strategic decision-making.
  • The partnership significantly reduces risk.

3. Nonprofit Partnership Marketing

Many brands like to form partnerships with a non-profit organization, and for good reason.

This is great because it benefits the non-profit, as they gain a new avenue to raise money and awareness for their cause, while the business gains points and credibility in the eyes of their audience too.

Non-Profit Partnerships can be one of the best opportunities to grow your brand’s impact, awareness, and trust. 

Your audience will certainly recognize when a partnership is established only to advance your business status, while lacking true compassion and empathy for the cause that you now claim to support.

Prioritizing good intent will ensure that whichever partnership you choose, will be carefully aligned with your purpose, values, and vision.


Important Questions to Ask When Searching for A Strategic Partnership:

  1. Is the potential partner’s audience similar enough, but not a direct competitor?
  2. Will both audiences benefit or gain something from this partnership?
  3. What could this partnership accomplish in order to provide maximum value to both of our audiences?
  4. What strengths and weaknesses do both partners bring to the table?
  5. Have I done my own research on the potential partners audience?
  6. What Benefits or value can I offer in this partnership?
  7. Do my values and visions align with theirs?
  8. Have both partners discussed and identified relevant mutual goals, and established what each partner can realistically accomplish within this partnership?
  9. How do we plan to track the progress of this partnership?
  10.  How do both parties plan to support each other throughout this partnership? This helps you make certain that everyone involved is satisfied with the direction of the process as it progresses.

Leading with good intentions and maintaining communication can be the key to forming a long-lasting and beneficial strategic alliance. Partnerships should be a clear two-way street.

Strategic partnerships are known to be massively beneficial to grow the awareness, impact, relatability, and overall success of your business.

Social Media Basics For Marketing Your Business

It’s common knowledge that social media has transformed the way in which the world operates, and the business world is no different. Social media has been growing rapidly for almost 2 decades, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

Social media platforms are not only a way to keep up with friends, family, or the latest news. It is also offers an opportunity for businesses and brands to make deeper connections, create an impact, and discover new opportunities for growth.

As of recent statistics, there are currently 3.78 billion daily active social media users which is about 48% of the global population.

So many of us already know how to use social media for personal purposes, but do we know how to effectively use it in a professional capacity? Let’s find out.


How To Use Social Media For Your Business: The Basics

1. Start With A Why

In many ways, business is what leads our society into the future. This means that your business idea is much bigger than you alone and should require careful thought, reflection, and consideration. Take the time to gain clarity about the reason that you want to launch this business, product, or idea.

It’s important in the realm of social media, that businesses be more transparent and engaging than they may have been capable of or comfortable with in the past.

Social media puts you in a place of leadership and influence over your audience, so it comes with an added responsibility for their well being too. Which is why it’s important for a business to lead with it’s why, before it tries to sell it’s how or what.

That will really be the difference maker whether or not your content is inspiring or manipulating your audience on social media.

2. Design your content strategy around your customers

This falls in line with establishing your why (purpose or desired impact) before establishing a how (strategy or system)  or a what (product or service). 

 According to Simon Sinek in his famously valuable book “Start With Why” he says that: “A WHY is just a belief, HOWs are the actions we take to realize that belief, and WHATs are the end results of those actions. When all three are in balance, trust is built and value is perceived.” 

This is the best way to grow your audience, by building trust and providing value first. So in order to do this the right way you will need to know who your audience is, what they stand for, and what they need most. 

It’s interesting that social media forces business owners of every size to learn ways to relate more closely with their customers, as if they were a local small town shop. When in reality a great number of interactions are done online and through social media.

This has given businesses the ability to stay at the forefront of their customers’ mind at any given moment, which understandably has its pros and cons.

3. Find the right balance of quantity and quality

A common concern among business owners about social media is whether or not they are posting enough, or too much, and if what they are posting is good enough to “work”.

The effectiveness of your content can really come down to many factors. So you have to decide what is the best balance and strategy for you, your business, and your audience. 

Ultimately one of the biggest deciding factors in this is: good intent. If your intentions are good, it will show and that alone will draw the right people to you.

Consumers are more able now than ever to recognize a company that has bad intentions or hidden agendas. It’s important to get to the core of what your intentions are with each piece of content before dedicating the time to creating it. Is your goal to get someone to “click through” or is your intention to make a meaningful connection and provide as much value as possible?

Social media is a real and exciting opportunity to unleash the power of word of mouth, but you have to give people good things to talk about. Your audience will be happy to see more quantity from you if your content is quality but more importantly created with good intentions at the core.

4. Keep track of your progress

There is a common phrase stating, “what gets measured, gets managed”. Which is understandably true because results do in fact count, and trackable results are in fact usually desired.

So in order to measure our progress, we should try to develop an understanding of the metrics that are easily quantifiable, and those that aren’t. For example, things like company culture can’t exactly be quantifiably measured but are still just as significant. It’s good to make sure that we don’t neglect the things that aren’t easily trackable, but are still essential to the brands and businesses overall success.

Let’s Break Down The Important Social Metrics That We Are Able to Monitor:

There Are Basically 4 Different Types of Trackable Metrics:

  1. Awareness: These Metrics highlight your current and potential audience.
    1. Brand Awareness
    2. Audience Growth Rate
    3. Post Reach
    4. Potential Reach
  2. Engagement: These metrics show how your audience is interacting with your content.
    1. Applause Rate
    2. Average engagement rate
    3. Amplification Rate
    4. Virality Rate
  3. Conversion: These Metrics show the effectiveness of your social engagement.
    1. Conversion Rate
    2. Click Through Rate (CTR)
    3. Bounce Rate
    4. Cost Per Click (CPC)
    5. Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM)
    6. Social Media Conversion Rate
  4. Consumer: These metrics help you understand how your active customers perceive and feel about your brand.
    1. Customer Testimonials
    2. Customer Satisfaction (CSat) Score
    3. Net Promoter Score (NPS)

For full descriptions and how to track these metrics yourself click here.

5. Experiment and mix up your formats

Social media really follows social trends and human behavior, so it’s best to stay flexible in your strategy and execution.

Experimenting with different styles and formats can help you get familiar with what may connect best with your audience and find ways to more effectively communicate with them.

This can also include playing around with a variety of hashtags for your posts. Hashtags are like SEO for Social media. If you don’t really understand what SEO is, that’s okay. SEO is essentially related to what we search for on google and the same goes for Hashtags on social media.

The goal is to intentionally use relevant keywords and hashtags so that your content can be more quickly accessible for your audience.

Does your brand know how to use hashtags in a way that gets the most value out of them?

Let’s find out.

10 Types of Hashtags To Use On Your Social Media Posts

  1. Industry Related Hashtags
  2. Niche Specific Hashtags
  3. Brand Related Hashtags
  4. Image, Visual & Design Related Hashtags
  5. Caption Reference Hashtags
  6. Community Hashtags
  7. Target Audience Hashtags
  8. Event Hashtags
  9. Celebration/Holiday Hashtags
  10. Trending Hashtags

According to a recent Instagram statistic, posts that include at least one hashtag, attract significantly more engagement than those that feature none at all.

This just means that followers really do engage actively with hashtags. If you can dedicate some time to specifically researching hashtags on platforms like Instagram, you could seriously boost the potential impact of your social media presence.

Utilizing hashtags and doing some research into which tags are best for your content can make a massive difference to increase the effectiveness of your social media efforts.


So to wrap this post up, many of us clearly see that that there is a lot of information to take in when it comes to social media marketing for a brand or for a business. So this is quite literally just the tip of the iceberg. 

Brands are continuing to develop their social media strategies, and they absolutely should. There are an abundance of options when it comes to content marketing, and businesses are trying it all in order to discover what works best for them.

Social media isn’t a one size fits all kind of thing. It can take a significant amount of time and energy to maintain. Which means that it is helpful to be clear on what your foundation is, and what vision for the future you are hoping to inspire before you click post or publish.


Would you like to learn more about social media and content marketing tactics for your business? Let us know!

Understanding Negative Capability: How Being Comfortable With Uncertainty is Your Greatest Asset as an Entrepreneur

The atmosphere of collaboration and teambuilding can feel uncertain and ambiguous at times, causing it to be overwhelming and challenging for many people. Which is part of why the discomfort of collaboration can unfortunately lead many people to avoid it all together. Luckily there’s a solution.

There is a concept called “Negative Capability” that was initially coined by Poet John Keats when describing writers like Shakespeare and artists like Picasso who were able to work within high levels of uncertainty and doubt, and even find a way to delight in it and produce incredible work.

Keats used the term to describe one’s ability to accept not having an immediate answer, and being willing to explore how something could evolve before a clear outcome appears.

This concept not only applies to writers and creatives, it applies to business, our personal struggles, and even our collaborative relationships too. 

So we have put together a quick explanation of how negative capability can welcome curiosity, focus, and resolution in your life as a collaborator.

Regardless of industry, this skill can help you boost your team building and collaborative processes exponentially and all you need to do is look within yourself.


What Negative Capability Looks Like In Action:

Negative Capability is the advanced ability to accept uncertainty, mystery, doubt, and ambiguity. Often in entrepreneurship, we lack a template, or instruction manual to follow step by step for our ideas. Yet we still manage to enjoy the journey and many of us even have a tendency to delight & relish in the sense of feeling lost. That’s in essence, part of the experience of utilizing Negative Capability.

To understand a bit better let’s discuss the difference between Passive & Active Uncertainty and how it will shape our understanding of Negative Capability.

Passive Uncertainty:

  1. “Fight or Flight” impacts decision making
  2. Typically comes from a place of ignorance or general insecurity
  3. Supports ‘Decisive Action’ that at times can irrationally and irritably reach beyond fact and reason.

Active Uncertainty:

  1. Uncertainty that comes from being without a template to follow
  2. The ability to delight and relish in the sense of feeling lost
  3. Supports ‘Reflective Inaction‘. Which just means to resist defaulting back to defensive routines when leading at the limits of one’s knowledge.

Negative Capability deals more in the realm of active uncertainty. Which is the uncertainty that comes from lacking a template to follow, and from paving your own way in life with little to no direction to help guide your way.

This type of uncertainty is common in team situations and collaborative environments because there are many minds with many different ideas and perspectives, causing a lot of ambiguity.

As a creator, ambiguity is just part of the game and that’s exactly why it’s important to learn how to cooperate with one another.

Which we can do that by suspending critical judgement until the end result & staying flexible to many possible outcomes rather than being overly attached to an early vision of success.


How Does Practicing Negative Capability Impact Your Life & Work?

  1. You’ll feel less hurried and chaotic.
  2. Increased curiosity & desire to discover truth.
  3. Enriched decision making capacity.
  4. Provides an alternative solution to managing stress. anxiety, and overwhelm.
  5. Establishes a mental foundation for navigating collaborative disagreements.
  6. Reduces pressure of fallout from missed expectations and misunderstandings.
  7. Makes a more flexible environment for communication, opinions, ideas & feedback.
  8. Infuses mindfulness and reflection into the work life processes.
  9. Encourages exploration, experimentation, innovation, and adaptability.
  10. Ensures that you don’t prematurely jump to conclusions that may appear more certain, but are in fact suboptimal.
  11. Helps your team remain focused and excited even when a project may be far from its end goal.
  12. Gives you the chance to appreciate fully and experience wholly the things that to others, often appear to transcend logic.
  13. Unafraid of being wrong or making mistakes because you see these as opportunities to grow and gain knowledge.
  14. It encourages the mindset that there are things that reason, alone, cannot always adequately explain. 
  15. Pushes you to remain flexible to many possible outcomes rather than being overly attached to an early vision of success.

So How Do You Practice Negative Capability?

  1. Disregard the need to analyze and control every detail when working within a team, or collaborative partnership.
  2. Practice regularly thinking and playing with new ideas and perspectives without judgement.
  3. Always tell a story with your ideas and vision, because in reality you are the only one who can actually see your vision. Which means you’ll need to get really good at storytelling and really believe in your story too.
  4. Push yourself to explore situations where you are less knowledgeable, experienced, or comfortable and let yourself sit in that uncertainty. Use this to challenge yourself to adapt, grow, and gain knowledge about something that you may not be super familiar with.

Negative capability is a universally accessible mental tool that can help us all grow and continue a smooth transition into a more flexible and collaborative work culture. 

2020 absolutely catapulted this transition far ahead. Which is exciting, but now that the chaos is winding down we are able to continue the transition more mindfully and make sure that all of our collaborative efforts prove to be impactful and well thought out.


If you are interested in learning more about this topic or how to overcome your own collaborative roadblocks:

Reach out to us anytime, or read the book linked below that was used as inspiration for this post!

Concept of “Negative Capacity” excerpted from book: HBR Review : Guide to Managing Strategic Initiatives : Lead with confidence, overcome roadblocks, and put strategy into action.

Mastering Collaboration Without Hesitation

When evaluating collaborative environments, we see that if we are able to combine the right people, with the right skills and values, and the time to build trust and communication, teams can accomplish truly incredible things.

Collaboration is a hot topic, and is hugely important to the success of so many initiatives. Yet, there is still plenty of hesitation around collaboration, so we want to address it head on.

Collaboration isn’t a yellow brick road to success. You will most certainly have to navigate some hurdles along the way. Many of us have overcome a fair share of hurdles to embrace collaboration in our own professional or creative lives.

Collaboration comes naturally to some, and naturally more challenging to others. 

We each face different hurdles when it comes to mastering our own collaborative contribution. Yet, there are some difficulties that all individuals and teams regularly face when striving to cohesively work together.


Fear

Fear is pretty relevant in all areas of business but especially when it comes to collaboration. We don’t often express our fears around working together, but our actions often prove the fears to be true. Fear of collaboration is an unsubstantiated fear, but it still has a negative impact on the effectiveness of countless teams.

Many fears around teamwork and collaboration are rooted in fears that our environment won’t value our ideas, visions, and opinions.

Fears are very personal, and take personal initiative to overcome them. When you shift to embrace your fears and contribute confidently within your team, you can open up a whole new world of possibilities.

Common Fears Around Collaboration

  • Fear That Someone Will Take Your Idea
  • Fear That Someone Will Make Something Better Than You
  • Fear That You Will Fail or Be Wrong
  • Fear That You Don’t Know Enough to Contribute
  • Fear that You Will Take the Blame if the Project Fails
  • Fear That Our Knowledge and efforts will be less valued than others.

Mindset

We can begin to welcome and empower collaboration by changing our mindset. 

Our ability to work coequally within a team can be disrupted when we are so set in our own perspective, that we cannot even recognize someone else’s viewpoint in its entirety.

As humans we can easily think that we are the best, and that we know best, when in reality we may not. Which can cause us to hoard our knowledge, ideas, and skills from others.

A common misconception about collaborating is “if I collaborate or discuss their ideas with someone, the other person will steal my ideas and run off into the sunset with them!”.

While this “could” happen, it probably won’t. Because, even if someone does run with your idea, they could never bring it to life in the special way that you can.

This is why we have brand loyalty and are able to enjoy brands like Nike, Adidas, Reebok, and more all within the same “ business sphere”. Each coexisting to provide the most value and best products for their customers in their own unique ways.

Yes, they are competitors, but they each have their own audience and loyal brand supporters. This seems to be working out just fine for each of them, so don’t worry too much.

Remember nobody can do you (or your ideas), like you can.

Don’t hide yourself and hoard your knowledge from the world because that really serves no one, not even yourself.


Team Culture

The culture and organizational structure in which your team operates can have great impacts on its collaborative success. When a company’s culture is rooted in fear, competition, or politics then the potential for effective collaboration will be limited. 

Fear based work cultures are most harmful to employees and their quality of work. This type of culture isn’t conducive to the sharing of ideas, and often leaves employees feeling alone and invaluable in many collaborative settings.

It’s been proven that when a team focuses on tackling a “common enemy” or shared challenge outside of the organization, it helps bring the team closer together and motivate them to work harder and more cohesively.

One of the biggest signs of fear based work culture is competition within the team itself.

Competition should only ever exist outside of a team. Competition within collaborative environments tears teams apart and makes accomplishing success more challenging.

Lastly and maybe most importantly, commit to recognizing contributions and celebrating successes within your team. This ensures that everyone feels valued and supported within the team, and those team members will be more likely to maintain or improve their contributions in the future with confidence.


Tips To Master Collaboration Without Hesitation

  1. Make a safe space for the wisdom and feedback of others.
  2. Embrace the uncertainty of collaboration by giving everyone permission to fail.
  3. There are actually no foolish Ideas. Many of the greatest ideas began as foolish ideas.
  4. Prioritize acceptance over agreement. Acceptance is always the best way to come to a fair and effective agreement.
  5. Collaboration thrives when every person involved can contribute with acceptance, clarity, and support.
  6. Collaborative ideas are collectively inspired, and they stem from something much greater than ourselves. Avoid becoming overly attached to your ideas when collaborating. They are not yours to keep so it’s okay to release them and see what happens.
  7. Recognize efforts regularly & celebrate success as often as possible.

Come work on your collaboration and networking with a community of likeminded business owners and entrepreneurs at our weekly BOSS Board Meet Ups! More Info Here.

If you would like to learn more about Project 3810, our community, and how we are equipped to serve you, click here.

Finding Balance In The Hustle and Grind

Finding Balance In The Hustle And Grind

It’s a common misconception that being more busy often equals more success. Humans have a natural inclination to compete. Which is partially how the modern hustle and grind culture was born. 

Hustle and grind have taken over the way in which we work, and it’s still a hot topic whether or not that’s a good or a bad thing.

Guilt for grinding too hard. Guilt for not grinding hard enough. These are opposite forces that pull us. That opposing pull is because these two sides are interconnected and interdependent.  

Balance isn’t getting rid of one extreme or the other. Balance as I see it, is letting these opposing forces guide us as we navigate our life and work so that the scales don’t tip too far in either direction. 

With that definition of balance in mind, I think we can all agree that it’s good to live the most balanced life that we can, in whatever way that means the most to you.

So how do we find a balance within the extremes of the hustle and grind culture that we have grown so accustomed to?


1. Find Your Own Grind

Everyone is different. We each vary greatly in things like personality, discipline, mental stamina, creative inspiration, passion, motivation, adaptability, etc. and each of these play a role in shaping the way that we “grind”.

A healthy and balanced grind for me, may leave you feeling drained, frustrated and burnt out by the end of the week. Or for example, let’s say that you are passionate about something and could easily hustle 14 hours a day for it, yet someone else may hustle for 4 hours a day towards their passion and be equally as satisfied and/or successful. 

One of the best ways to ensure you are following your own grind is to be internally driven, not externally motivated and you can do this by simply following your passions and intuition and staying true to your core values

Find Your Rhythm & Flow

Make the commitment to get familiar with your natural work and rest rhythms, and then find a flow with them rather than feeling pressure to grind all of the time even when it may not be in your best interest.

Once you are clear on why you hustle and what you want in this life, you can begin to fall into a natural rhythm that your grind can align to.

This rhythm is how we work, how we interact, how we prioritize, and make important decisions. This is how people will know if they can work well with us or not. It’s also how the universe aligns complimentary people and opportunities with you, and deters the wrong people and opportunities away from you.

If we disregard our natural rhythm, we run the risk of aligning ourselves with the wrong people, the wrong opportunities, and even the wrong grind. 

Hustle culture often puts us in a position where we grow accustomed to operating on autopilot, causing us to disregard what may actually be most healthy and practical for our own lives. 

This is why knowing your rhythm, priorities and values are super important. 

When those things are clear to you, they will be clear to others and the universe will be able to work for you, and it won’t always feel like it’s working against you.


2. Hustle For The Right Reasons

Avoid burnout, confusion, and resentment by being crystal clear on why you are hustling in the first place.

If you are just hustling for the sake of the hustle, then you probably  won’t reach success that’s fulfilling or sustainable long term.

Hustling for the wrong reasons is like hustling for a lottery ticket. You won’t even know that it’s going to work, and statistically it’s just more likely that you won’t win.

If you hustle for the right reasons though, you are not only more likely to come out on top but you’ll also more than likely be happy with the view.

When we grind for the good, we have our values, priorities, and goals clearly aligned and our hustle follows their lead. Which in turn let’s life put people and opportunities along our path that are a healthy match.

That’s really the key. Because the relationships that are built around our passions are what help us expand, reach new heights, and make a real difference.

It’s also why it’s so important that we grind for the right reasons and stay aware of ourselves and the impact that we want to make in the world before we go hustling our lives away working towards a thing we may not even want.


Effects Of An “Unbalanced” Grind

  • 1. Decreased Focus, Creativity, and Efficiency 
  • 2. Lack of Enjoyment or Fulfillment in Your work
  • 3. You Often Feel Insignificant When You Aren’t Working 
  • 4. Unclear Work & Life Boundaries
  • 5. Exhaustion and Inconsistent Sleep
  • 6. Inability to Prioritize Time For Yourself or Time With Others
  • 7. Can Lead to Chronic Health Conditions
  • 8. Can increase stress, anxiety, and depression

Advantages Of A “Balanced” Grind

  1. Welcoming to Healthier Relationships & Opportunities
  2. Evidence of Balanced Priorities and Time Management
  3. Improved Productivity, Innovation, and Creativity
  4. Less Frustrated, Stressed, and Irritable
  5. More Understanding and Patient
  6. Enhanced Mental & Physical Health
  7. More Comfortable Saying No or Taking Time Off
  8. Increased Priority to Self Care Activities 

Each person focuses, flows, and views success differently. So what is balanced to me may not feel balanced to you and that is okay.

Even though hustling is good and respectable, it’s even more important to learn how to develop a balanced and fulfilling hustle that enables you to work for your goals and even allows your goals to work for you too.

Achieving a work life balance doesn’t have to be so difficult to achieve. It just takes patience and time to understand yourself, in order to be confident to grind in accordance with your natural rhythms. 


5 Reminders for a Healthy Hustle

  • Always allow yourself time to rest and time to enjoy life as you hustle and grind. 
  • Ensure that you enjoy your time when you are grinding by grinding for the right reasons.
  • When we grind for the wrong reasons we risk burnout, unaligned choices, resentment, and regret.
  • Avoid burnout and confusion by being crystal clear and confident about why you are hustling in the first place.
  • Balance won’t look like a balanced scale all of the time and that’s okay. Follow your natural rhythm and find your own flow.

If we normalize and encourage a healthy hustle, we can continue to grow our capacity to do meaningful work, make stronger connections, and be more successful in our endeavors in the future.

How Our Values Shape our Business Relationships

When I think of business, I often think of the relationships that are built along the way.

Now, we all have had experiences with good and bad relationships and this absolutely applies to business too.

A+B= AB is like a relationship. 

You don’t get A+B=C, because two people are still two whole people, just paired together. We don’t morph and form one person, although that would be interesting.

Rather, we come together to form a union of two people that share things in common such as interests, passions, visions, aspirations, and values.

When things don’t add up correctly between two people, you will end up with an unbalanced relationship whether personal or professional. Sometimes when things really don’t align, and the difference is too different then the relationship becomes more effort than it may be worth.

So it’s helpful to understand that since we are each individuals that are whole and complete within our own selves that we each have the ability and freedom to change our minds and our lives. We should also remind ourselves that when someone changes that doesn’t make them a bad person, it just makes them a person.

As humans we evolve and grow continuously, and it’s healthy and natural for us to do so. We grow to have different interests, different opinions, and different beliefs as we move through life. Which makes it important to give each other the understanding and freedom to grow and change, and give ourselves approval to evolve as well.


So How Does This Apply to Business?

Business involves people.

Businesses are made by people, for people, and they are expanded through people.

So understanding how people operate within your business, and being intentional with the business relationships that you form can really impact your business and it’s future.

Our values say a lot about our character, and our character says everything about who we are. So if we are looking for a business partner for example, it’s important that their values are aligned with our own, because character counts especially in business.

If being prompt and on time is something that I value, then a potential partner should probably also value this, otherwise there may be conflict down the line. A simple core value misalignment could result in either individual becoming unsatisfied or frustrated, and even lead one individual to attempt to change the other individual which is nearly impossible and certainly not healthy.

If we want to ensure long term compatibility in our business relationships, we need to be clear on a few things first:

  1. Make sure your core values are in alignment
  2. Make sure there is a mutual understanding of each other’s individuality and individual power to evolve and change. While also keeping a safe environment for open communication and mutual respect.
  3. Create a Non-Formal (MOU) Memo of Understanding. This is a blueprint for your operating agreement. There is no real need to involve an attorney, this is simply a mutual understanding between you and your partner about intentions and expectations.

Determine Your Core Values

Core values are not a matter of convenience. They are a way of operating, and a compass to guide your decisions

Core values should be natural to you, and already exist within you. You just need to identify them.

Identify your core values by starting with:

  1. Things that irritate you
  2. Things that are pet peeves
  3. Things that you would never compromise on
  4. Things that are non-negotiables

We all have things that irritate us and get under our skin. We don’t often take the time to really analyze why that is though, or where it stems from. Oftentimes, these irritants are signaling that our core values are out of alignment. 

When we are experiencing irritation it could be a sign of some underlying things:

  1. We are avoiding our inner truth
  2. We are playing it safe, and staying within our zone of comfort
  3. We are relying too heavily on others 
  4. Our core values aren’t in alignment with someone or something in our life.
  5. Our core values are being challenged or conflicted  in some way.

When thinking about your core values, focus on what already exists within you. They should be natural to you and your experience. If they are not, then they are “aspirational values”, not core values.

There are also values that could be considered “foundational” values, like: trust, honesty, kindness, etc. They are more general and in some aspects, and should already be an integral part of everyone’s value system. 

These foundational values are also often referred to as “permission to play” values. They are still highly important and should always exist, but are more like bare minimum behavior standards as opposed to core values that would ideally be more challenging and expansive.

As we build more connections in life whether personal or professional, it is so important to already have your core values established. They tell a story of your existence, clarify your purpose, enhance your vision, and are an example of the kind of impact you want to make.

Don’t overlook the significance of investing even just a small amount of time on identifying your core values. Your life, business, and relationships will be so much better off because of it.


Do you have an established value system for your business or personal life? Share it with us, we would love to hear from you.

If you don’t have clear values for your business, reach out to us and we would be happy to connect with you and help you uncover them!


Sources:

Vicki Langford Director Project 3810

Concepts here are derived from this book.

Businesses Can Temporarily Deduct 100% Through December 31, 2022

The U.S Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service have issued Notice 2021-25 providing guidance under the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Relief Act of 2020. The Act added a temporary exemption to the 50% limit on the amount that businesses may deduct for food and beverages. The temporary exemption allows a 100% deduction for food & beverages from restaurants. 

Beginning January 1st 2021 through December 31 2022, businesses can now claim 100% of their food and beverage expenses paid to restaurants as long as the business owner (or an employee of the business) is present, and as long as the expense is not lavish or extravagant for the circumstances. 

Where can businesses get food and beverages and claim 100%

Under the temporary provision, restaurants include businesses that prepare and sell food or beverages to retail customers for immediate on-premises and/or off-premises consumption. However, restaurants do not include businesses that primarily sell pre-packaged goods not for immediate consumption, such as grocery stores & convenience stores.

Additionally, an employer may not treat certain employer-operated eating facilities as restaurants, even if these facilities are operated by a third party under contract with the employer.

Make sure to save those receipts!


Information above obtained from irs.gov

Find more information for businesses seeking coronavirus related tax relief here.

Visit launchokcmetro.com for news, updates, and upcoming events in the OKC business community.

Reach out to share your news or upcoming events with us!

5 Actionable Steps to Take While Contemplating Your Business Idea

When thinking about starting a business, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered. We tend to overthink about what to do first, then procrastinate what to do next, and worry about what to do last in order to climb the mountain of success all the way to the top.

Starting a business is a long journey, and there are countless paths that you can take to reach your destination. So it’s important to have self awareness and the discipline to know which path is the right path for you.

If you are contemplating a business idea, and are wondering what to do first, then we have created this article to help you take some simple but effective steps to find out if starting a business is right for you and how to pave your own path towards success.


1. Recycle Your Resume

Your resume is not only crucial when applying for jobs, it can also become a unique tool to help tell your story.

Your resume tells potential customers, vendors, bankers, and partners who you are as well as what skills and expertise you have.

Put Your Spin On It

  • Use your current and past jobs as an opportunity to spin your past into new lessons or inspirations. Every job can probably teach you something, or remind you of something you already knew but didn’t pursue.
  • Explain how your past jobs have prepared you for the journey you are on now.
  • This can also tell a story about your vision for the future.
  • You can really spin it into whatever story you want to tell, don’t be afraid to sell yourself.

Update or create your linked in profile

LinkedIn is still a very influential and powerful platform when it comes to making professional connections. There is still organic reach meaning that you don’t need ads to get in front of people who want what you have to offer (see #2 Below).


Benefits of Maintaining Your Linked In Account

  1. Access to its Powerful Job Board
    • Broad spectrum of job opportunities and you can even apply to jobs via the networking platform itself.
    • You can receive regular emails and alerts related to your job search.
    • Ability to discover and utilize keywords from job postings.
  2. Offers the Benefits of a Personal Website Without Building a Website 
    • Personal websites are great for showcasing your brand while also highlighting your expertise and personality. Linked in offers a simpler shorter solution that is easily just as trusted & effective.
    • You can upload a professional profile picture and write a personalized summary that showcases your unique brand personality.
    • You can also access the “featured” section on LinkedIn where you are able to highlight your content like blogs and podcasts. So over all this profile should contain everything that you need to present yourself, and your brand with confidence, and clarity without all of the costs of a traditional website.
  3. Helps Boost Your Google Ranking
    • Ranking on Google’s first page is becoming increasingly more difficult. But, Linked in with its trusted and powerful network, is sometimes able to boost your page higher in google rankings than a website or online portfolio.
    • Google yourself. If you haven’t done it already, now is the time. See what pops up, because it’s a guarantee that other professionals will google you before ever setting up a meeting. Google search is pretty important, so we want to take it pretty seriously.
  4. Portable Professional Network 
    • Gone are the days of stuffing business cards into your wallet. Even though business cards have carried great importance in the past, they no longer serve the same purpose and often end up in a junk drawer or worse… the trash.
    • Linked in is a better way to keep up with your professional connections along the way. Keep them saved in your connections so that one day you can quickly reconnect if either of you want to.
  5. Get a Peek Into Company Cultures
    • Not only can individuals create and maintain LinkedIn pages, so can companies.
    • If a Company uses the platform effectively, you should be able to understand a lot about them and what they do, as well as their company culture and the overall employee experience too.
  6. First to Know About Industry Related News, Events, and Opportunities.
    • Just like any other social platform, there is a timeline where you can view content, news, and other media from those that you connect with.
    • Here, you can get access to the professional communities of social media, that tend to share more networking and professional opportunities and related news.

So if you have held back on creating or updating your Linked In profile, then this is your little nudge to just do it! 

There are tons of serious benefits to having a Linked In profile as an entrepreneur and if you aren’t in then you’re out, you know?


2. Learn From a Small Business

  1. Small business owners wear a lot of hats, and it’s hard to really visualize that kind of multitasking without seeing it first hand.
  2. Working in a “big business” usually means that you have a pretty defined job role, and your role is pretty clearly lined out.
  3. Working in a small business (less than 10 employees) is great for a part time second job while you are working to grow your business or even working at another company while building your business in your spare time.
  4. An advantage to working in a small business is that you are more closely linked to the top tier of the company and you can more quickly access opportunities to grow within the business.
  5. Getting a front row seat to watch another business can help you better prepare for the volatility of business and learn how to ride the ups and downs more smoothly.
  6. Go for job interviews. This is an amazing, cheap and clever way to sell yourself and your experiences. You don’t have to accept a job just because you attend an interview or a meeting. Interviews are great practice to learn how to pitch yourself and your services as well as improve your storytelling and interviewing skills.
  7. Interviewing with multiple people, or working in various roles can help you understand more quickly what you dislike just as much as what you do like. Just simply taking the time to be open to opportunities can help lead you down an amazing new path you didn’t otherwise see.

3. Take Personality Tests

Following your curiosities is one of the many powerful secrets to uncovering your true potential and passions. 

Personality tests are our answer to the many questions that we have about ourselves. This natural curiosity leads us to want to have a deeper understanding of ourselves and the other people around us.

Personality tests are growing more and more trusted by professionals and are becoming a more integral part of our current recruitment processes.

Aside from the more obvious professional benefits, on a personal level it is really beneficial to know more about ourselves and each other in order to be more conscientious colleagues and humans in general.

While there is not one specific personality type that makes a successful entrepreneur, there are a number of traits that are bound to make you more naturally inclined to be successful in the business world. Some of which are:

  • Risk Tolerance
  • Visionary Perspective
  • Empathetic Nature
  • Innovative Thinking
  • Disciplined & Determined
  • Ability to Embrace Failure
  • Etc.

Evaluate Your Goals:

It’s important to understand where your ideas and goals are coming from. 

Try to think both in the short term and the long term, because even though business is a long term game, it requires consistent short term action to make it last. 

Getting super clear on who you are, and what you want out of your life will help you better understand yourself and your ambitions to take clear concise actions towards your dreams.

5 Personality Tests that Encourage Personal & Professional Growth

  1. Enneagram: 9 Personality Types
  2. Type Finder: Myers Briggs 16 Personalities
  3. DISC Assessment: You In The Workplace
  4. Big Five Test: Score Yourself Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.
  5. Holland Code Career Test: Learn which jobs suit your interests, talents, and aptitude.

4. Ask For The Sale

I’m sure you have heard it before: Know your worth.

It takes some time to know how to price and sell yourself or your business. Everything is based around value, and value is perceived. So you can truly charge whatever you think that you are worth. Here are some bits of advice you should consider before your business sells anything:

-Don’t give away your products or services for free. Even if you only charge $20 to start out, you are at least gaining the practice of valuing yourself.

-Your prices are never set in stone- you always can and should change them as you grow and figure out the future of your business.

-Don’t worry about underpricing yourself. When first starting, your first sales are going to help you develop a system that works for you while also hopefully gaining some feedback about what is going well and what needs to be improved. This way, when things start to pick up traction you already have some basic knowledge and experience to build on.

-Don’t give away 100% of your products. Always establish boundaries and limits of the quantity you are comfortable with using for promotional purposes. Limiting the number you are able to give away, means that you have to sell the rest and that establishes more urgency which is crucial in an effective selling process..

-Lastly get used to asking for referrals and reviews. These can change your whole business trajectory if you receive good ones. Word of mouth is still the most powerful marketing tool around town, no doubt.


5. Find Your Financial Flow

Yucky finances I know…but this is probably the most important step you need to take when even considering starting a business.

As an entrepreneur or solopreneur, you will wear a lot of hats and you will likely have to teach yourself a number of things too. One of which is bookkeeping

Bookkeeping for your business isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be so hard either.

Let’s Get Clear on Some Important Terms First:

  1. Revenue: Your Income before paying expenses.
  2. Profit: The difference of subtracting expenses from revenue. This amount is what you have available to leave in the business itself or withdraw.
  3. Expenses: Bills, and other things that you have to pay for to keep running your business.
  4. Fixed Cost: An expense that doesn’t change with changes in volume of goods or services produced by your company. (ex: rent, salaries, utilities, etc)
  5. Variable Cost: An expense that varies depending on what a company is producing. 
  6. Equity: Money obtained from investors, or yourself, in exchange for ownership of a company.
  7. Debt: Money that comes in the form of loans from banks that must be repaid over time.
  8. Cashflow: The amount of money flowing in and out of your business. Free cash flow is the amount left after paying expenditures and free cash flow is a way to measure the profitability of your business.
  9. Burn Rate: The amount of money that your startup is expected to spend over a predetermined period of time, usually measured in quarterly or yearly cycles. A growth period rate pre-revenue.  Ideally you can then continue growth from profits.
  10. ROI: Return on Investment 

Track Your Progress

Many people hope to start a business in order to make an impact or provide value. Although how could we ever know if we are being truly impactful if we don’t have a way to measure our impact. 

KPI’s are “Key Performance Indicators”. These are super important to get familiar with if you have hopes to run a successful business of any kind. 

A Key Performance indicator is a measurable value that demonstrates the effectiveness of a company and how successful they have been in achieving their key business objectives.

What gets measured, gets managed.  Don’t be overwhelmed with KPIs in the early stage, as you will start simple with one or two KPI’s and then gradually add more.  Letting your data tell a story and help you make better decisions is the ultimate goal.

As you learn to track your progress using Key Performance Indicators, you will be able to establish more reachable money goals, budget, invest, and save more effectively.

Keep Things Seperate

The last thing that we want is financial trouble. So it’s important to keep your start-up finances separate from your personal finances. 

By keeping your finances separate you will be able to better manage your business growth and make sure that you are staying on top of your responsibilities. In addition to that, it will help save you a substantial amount of time and money.

Having all of your finances go through a personal account, could lead to more confusion and more time communicating with a financial professional, which also means more billable hours and less money in your bank account.

As your business grows, you won’t want to be the accountant/bookkeeper forever. You will eventually want to hire someone to manage your finances and taxes for you. And I can guarantee that they will insist that your finances remain separate. So it would be best to just keep them separated from the start 

Lastly we should talk briefly about Debt because statistics show that 8/10 people in the United States are caught in the web of debt, which is seriously substantial. 

If you are able to pay your debt off before starting a business, it would be advantageous to do so. Although that isn’t a possibility for everyone, and different types of debt play different roles in someone’s financial situation too.

So when considering starting a business, make sure that you also make a detailed list of all debt that you have both personally and professionally, and try to pay off what you can before committing to a business venture that could require additional financial responsibility from you as you grow.

Now that you have a foundational understanding of start up finances, do your best to get comfortable with your numbers, and get super clear on what your business will accomplish, and how you plan to monitor that progress. 

By keeping your finances clean and separated, and developing a system to monitor your progress, you will be able to start your business more confidently instead of cautiously.


Now, it’s important to remember that every business is different and depending on your business model you may have different steps to take in order to get started but generally speaking, these 5 action steps will help you get more clear on what exactly you desire to do, how to plan for it, and how to maintain it once you are up and running.

Do you have questions about how to make your business idea into a reality? Reach out to us and our community of business leaders will help you get the ball rolling.