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Nostalgia Sells: How to Adapt Your Marketing 9 Oct 2019, 8:00 am

Every startup has to decide what its brand flavor will be. And while there’s definitely a demand for sleek, modern, and cutting-edge branding, don’t underestimate the power of throwing it back a few decades.

Nostalgic branding evokes pretty raw emotions, which can be a great thing for a new brand to capitalize on. It can also make the unfamiliar feel very familiar.

The Compelling Nature of Nostalgia 

When was the last time you found yourself daydreaming about some past event? Perhaps it was the last high school football game you ever played? Or your first kiss? Or maybe it was that time you got a big promotion at work and your wife and kids surprised you with a big celebratory dinner? These are all examples of nostalgia — and they’re more than just moments of reminiscing. 

“Nostalgia is the warm, fuzzy emotion that we feel when we think about fond memories from our past,” explains Erica Hepper, Ph.D., a lecturer at the University of Surrey in England. “It often feels bittersweet — mostly happy and comforting, but with a tinge of sadness that whatever we’re remembering is lost in some way.”

Here’s another way to understand it: Reminiscence is the behavior of looking back fondly on the past, while nostalgia is the emotional response it triggers. Research shows that nostalgia actually causes significant changes in the brain — mostly positive. It often makes people feel more optimistic and warmer. It can even block out negative emotions and help people shift their habits in a more positive direction. In other words, it’s a powerful force with predominantly positive outcomes. 

3 Ways to Use Nostalgia in Marketing

From a marketing perspective, it’s possible for brands to evoke feelings of nostalgia in its customers by encouraging them to look back fondly on things of the past. Just look at some of the latest cameras from Fujifilm and Polaroid, and you’ll see how powerful the pull of nostalgia is in a customer base that’s in love with the idealistic notion of a picture-perfect past. Or consider the widespread appeal of the Netflix show “Stranger Things,” set in the 1980s. Vintage tableware is making a comeback. There are even companies like eFireplaceStore offering freestanding stoves and accessories, allowing customers to embrace elements of simpler times.

Regardless of what product or service you sell, there are ways you can incorporate nostalgia in your marketing efforts to reach customers and amplify sales. Here are a few ways you can do it:

1. Know Your Target Market

You can’t use nostalgia successfully in your marketing efforts if you don’t understand exactly who your target market is. Take “Stranger Things,” for example. While plenty of today’s high school students enjoy the show, they don’t like it for its nostalgic factor; they never experienced the 1980s. It’s the viewers in their late 30s and 40s who feel that sense of wistfulness. Netflix understands this and does a good job of targeting both groups of viewers. But if the brand were only targeting high schoolers, it would miss the mark. Make sure you know your audience so you can embrace what’s nostalgic for them.

2. Authenticity Is a Must 

Authenticity is a must-have today, and that extends to throwbacks. “It works well for brands that have an authentic connection with the past, especially some powerful associations with it (e.g., the VW Beetle),” marketer Steve Olensik writes. “It can work for brands without an authentic connection to the past if the brands can create that familiar feeling without. This is tricky but can be done. It is aspirational for some but at the same time nostalgic.”

In other words, authenticity is the key. You can’t fake nostalgia and expect it to work. You need a genuine connection with the past — or at least an authentic reach toward the past — for your efforts to be effective. Your brand story, incorporating your grandparents’ old-fashioned methods, might serve you well. Explanations of how you’ve incorporated old-school elements — like rounded hubcap shapes or lace doily touches — can also create ties.

3. Continually Look Forward

Very few brands can live completely in the past and continue to grow. It’s okay to leverage nostalgic branding, but don’t do so at the expense of future growth and development. Always keep one eye on the future so you can innovate and maintain relevancy. 

There’s no doubt that nostalgia sells. The key for brands is to look back at the past with a genuine appreciation rather than a gimmicky push. It’s all about being real and natural — nothing should be forced. Done well, nostalgia can evoke just enough of those bittersweet feelings to compel people to make a purchase. Likewise, it has the ability to foster brand loyalty for years to come.

The post Nostalgia Sells: How to Adapt Your Marketing appeared first on KillerStartups.

For Startups, Ignoring SEO and Link Building Is a Long-Term Mistake 7 Oct 2019, 8:00 am

As anyone with startup experience knows, launching and growing a new business is often characterized by a stark dichotomy of emotions. It’s both exciting and scary, energizing and depleting, hopeful and frustrating. But what nobody tells you going into it is that you constantly have to weigh the short term against the long term.

With no guarantee of future success, you have to build your business like you’ll still be here in three, five, or 10 years, even when statistical averages suggest you won’t. This means paying attention to investments like SEO and link building — even when you won’t see the benefits until further down the road.

Startups: Shift Your Thinking to the Long Term

We live in an on-demand world — a fast-food culture, if you will — in which anyone can get anything he wants with very minimal delayed gratification. Need a ride somewhere? Pull up Uber or Lyft on your phone, and your very own private driver is on his way. Want to watch your favorite TV show? With on-demand streaming, you can binge watch an entire season whenever you want.

While there’s nothing wrong with living in an on-demand world, it’s warped our view of reality. We intrinsically assume that everything should happen right now. It’s killed any trace of patience we had left in our systems, leading us to believe that waiting for something is a sign of stupidity or weakness.

As an entrepreneur and startup founder, you have to push back against this deep-seated fallacy. As old-school as it sounds, patience is a virtue. A failure to recognize this will lead you to ignore the long-term value that comes from a steady, incremental commitment to SEO and link building. 

The Long-Term Value of SEO and Link Building 

SEO and link building go hand in hand. SEO refers to the big picture of optimizing your website and content for search engine visibility. Link building is a subheading beneath SEO, albeit one of the most important subheadings. The problem with SEO, and link building in particular, is that you won’t see overnight results. It’s a long-term play that takes months and months of disciplined work and effort to generate tangible results. But once the results start flowing in, they’ll continue to compound.

Startups can’t live without SEO — here’s why. In particular, they need to make a long-term commitment to link building. Patiently doing so over many months yields myriad benefits:

  • Amplifies search rankings: Google uses links as trust signals. When an authoritative website links back to your website, it serves as a trustworthy referral. In response, Google lifts your pages in its search rankings. 
  • Drives website traffic: Link building almost always results in website traffic increases. It does so in two primary ways: First, you gain clicks from the actual link. (A certain percentage of people reading an article with your link will click on the hyperlink and visit your page.) Second, you’ll see organic traffic increases from your improved visibility in the search rankings. 
  • Builds brand awareness: The more links you have on other websites and blogs, the more exposure your brand gets. This is particularly true if they’re overt brand mentions or features on your business.
  • Establishes authority: As you generate more links, the same people continue to interact with your brand. This allows you to establish authority in your niche. 
  • Builds your network: Link building is far from passive. It’s a proactive investment that requires you to actively engage and seek out opportunities. While it’s hard work, all of this effort ultimately allows you to build up your network with entrepreneurs, business owners, journalists, bloggers, etc. 
  • Diversifies risk: Anyone with enough budget can pay for traffic and exposure. But as soon as you stop paying, the visibility goes away. A long-term investment in link building diversifies risk by giving you a sustainable framework that will last for years to come.

When you look at link building through the lens of these benefits, a long-term investment is a no-brainer. For now, you have to push past your desire to get quick results and trust that all of your hard work and discipline will eventually pay off. It’s a counterintuitive idea in today’s culture — but also one that’s extremely effective.

The post For Startups, Ignoring SEO and Link Building Is a Long-Term Mistake appeared first on KillerStartups.

6 Sales Tools to Make Startups’ Lives Easier 4 Oct 2019, 8:00 am

You’ve started a new business, but now you have to convince people that your solution is worth the money. Sound familiar? If so, you’ve just entered the stressful world of sales.

Every company has to sell to survive. No matter how valuable your offering is, you won’t last long if you fail to communicate why buyers need it.

Evolve into a sales master by adopting these tools for your startup:

1. Workflow Automation

Salespeople can’t sell if they spend all day updating spreadsheets and records. Use workflow automation tools to empower your employees to eliminate manual tasks — and spend more time on activities that bring revenue to your business.

Even if you’re the only person on the payroll, you still need workflow automation software to make the most of every hour. Smart tools can templatize your email pitches and update customer records. They can also provide contextual customer support without flipping through files or placing callers on long holds. To sell more, start by automating more.

2. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

You can’t sell products without prospects. Use a CRM to track sales opportunities, store contact information, and record interactions with prospects and customers. With a CRM powering your communications, you can help current customers and ensure buyers feel valued.

Most CRM systems integrate with a variety of sales tools, so you can customize the software to fit your needs. Try a few combinations and free trials to determine what works best. Once you have your CRM optimized, it will become one of the most potent weapons in your sales arsenal. 

3. Payments and Invoices

Handshake deals are good, but cash in your pocket is better. Invest in user-friendly payments and invoicing software to create a smoother finale for your sales funnel. If you force prospects to go through a cumbersome closing process, deals will slip through your fingers. Your competition will be waiting with open arms.

Many other sales tools offer built-in invoicing functionality. If that works for your startup, don’t fix what isn’t broken. However, if you could use a faster, more intuitive process, consider alternatives. Look for a tool that can scale with your sales team as your company grows.

4. Internal Communications

Sales and marketing teams share common goals. Without strong interdepartmental communication, neither team can reach its full potential. Implement internal communication tools and processes that encourage their use. This will get salespeople, marketers, and customer success agents talking.

When everyone in the company understands others’ needs, everything runs smoother. Customer satisfaction increases as agents know more about products and promotions, leading to more repeat business. Salespeople know how marketers promote different deals, so they feel more confident selling them. Marketers understand sales teams’ real needs and create content to fill the gaps. This catapults your company’s sales success, but only when your teams talk.

5. Order Management and Inventory

Every company with physical products needs a smart solution to track inventory and orders. Without up-to-the-minute information, your salespeople could accidentally make unfulfillable promises. Not only will that irritate customers, but it will also make your business look amateurish.

Stay informed with order management and inventory tools to get ahead of potential problems. Look for a solution that alerts you when stock is running low. The best products use smart reporting to identify which products are most profitable. They then help adjust your inventory management accordingly.

6. Social Media Management

In the post-Facebook age, even stodgy B2B companies stay active on social media. Give your salespeople a fighting chance by using social to promote your brand and advertise new deals.

Take advantage of social media chat capabilities, too. Talk to customers in comment sections and through private messages to resolve small issues before they become big problems. Allow customers to purchase directly through social channels. If that doesn’t work, make the transition from social account to landing page as seamless as possible.

As you learn the ropes of sales, you’ll eventually realize that no one has all the answers. Sometimes, ideal customers will go through the right parts of the funnel and fail to convert, anyway. Don’t let failure get you down. Continue to invest in your sales process. One day, you’ll look back at your early sales struggles and wonder why you ever worried.

The post 6 Sales Tools to Make Startups’ Lives Easier appeared first on KillerStartups.

Maryland’s Favorite Full-stack Forensic Lab-log Software 2 Oct 2019, 4:32 pm

Founded in 2016 by postdoctoral researchers with the NIH (National Institutes of Health), LabLog has become the most-used laboratory logging platform in Maryland. Providing an average 82% increase in timely lab report submission, it is becoming a requisite tool for laboratories engaged in high-end research. A full-stack solution for information tracking across multiple interdependent research teams, Lab log is currently used to facilitate verification and interoperability of results by over 500 institutional researchers across the United States.

“We chose LabLog because I had heard about the company from our peers, and they were all raving about the great features,” says Adam Azuli, of the NIH. “We were not disappointed at all.”

It makes sense that the NIH recognize Lablog’s value; Dr. Hani Ebrahimi and Dr. Pamela Gallagher, LabLog’s founders, both did graduate research there, and found their research constantly hamstrung by a lack of usable document management systems capable of expediting results delivery while maintaining strict FDA 21 CFR 11 documentation regulation compliance.

By removing regulation compliance as an individual concern for each and every researcher, LabLog frees laboratory staff to work together in a state of creative comradery. This enhanced team performance is evidenced in the numbers, with 72% of LabLog clients reporting that the platform increased communal relations between research staff and administrative staff.

Needless to say, LabLog is now looking beyond the state borders of Maryland to make their platform a national best-in-breed tool for all manner of lab-based research concerns. Their website is located at https://labnotebook.app for this exact purpose.

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LabLog

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Find the ideal Outer Banks location in North Carolina with Twiddy and Company 2 Oct 2019, 10:09 am

Finding the right rental vacation home can be difficult in even the most accessible communities can be tough. In the Outer Banks, where many rentals are not even accessible by road, it can be doubly distracting.

That’s why Doug Twiddy of Duck, NC, started Twiddy & Company, all the way back in 1979. They’ve been growing ever since, and now manage over 1,100 Outer Banks vacation homes.

Over the intervening 40 years, they’ve grown into a considerable local employment concern, with over 160 full-time employees, as well as a bustling real estate sales division.

Ever since its founding, Twiddy & Company has maintained a constant corporate philosophy built around the belief that people make the difference. Twiddy recognizes that cooperation, teamwork and an individual drive for consistent perfection is the best way to build a business that stands the test of time, in a disparate and fickle tourism market.

The employees at Twiddy & Company are encouraged to do more than simply get the job done. They want to leave you with the feeling that they don’t work to simply get the job done, they work to get it done right, to your standards, every time.

Twiddy & Company continue to operate out of their original location at 1181 Duck Road, in Duck, NC (27949) and now also operate a second office at 1142 Ocean Trail in Corolla, NC (27927.)

They post available listings to their website at www.twiddy.com, and are available for direct telephone consultation at (866) 457-1190.

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Twiddy & Company

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End Offshoring Development Headaches with UruIT Nearshoring 26 Sep 2019, 9:22 am

Developing software for the US market using US talent can be difficult and expensive. The unemployment rate for US developers is a mere 1.9%, which means that demand for US-culture-aware development far outstrips the current, and foreseeable, supply. UruIT is on the leading edge of nearshoring, a novel approach that uses development teams located in regular USA time zones, to save costs without the logistical nightmare of legacy offshoring.

UruIT was developed with US customer satisfaction paramount. Their development teams all speak English, and all development hubs are located no more than 4 time zones away from any US time zone. This ensures that teams are always on the same page, and when they’re not, they are able to get back in sync immediately, during the same business day, and without any translation services required.

As you might imagine, this model provides a streamlined process that results in better development than you’d get from overseas outsourcing, in a shorter time, with far fewer communication errors and unavoidable, systemic delays. UruIT derives its name from Uruguay, where its primary nearshore development hub is located.

UruIT originated in South America, and first established a US presence in 2008, granting it the same insurance portfolio (General Liability, Professional E&O), NDA recognition and IP protections as all US corporations. This also opened the door to the normal local bank services expected by US customers.

Their “coding is high quality and reflects UruIT’s extensive expertise,” says the CEO of HIPPA Exams, a UruIT institutional client. “The team has expertly managed the project, leveraging scrum methodology and strong English skills. Their services are not only consistent but also highly affordable and adaptable to changing circumstances.”

Uru keeps regular American business hours, and is bi-costal, with offices in both Miami and Los Angeles. They can also travel anywhere in the US to establish local-team presence, as client needs dictate. Their South American development hubs are also bi-costal, with one in Montevideo, Uruguay, on the East coast, and the other in Medien, Columbia, on that continent’s west coast. From the earliest hours of Atlantic-state morning to the final hours of Pacific-coast twilight, their development team is working the same hours that Americans are..

Uru currently employs over 80 different people in South America performing design and project management roles, and has completed over 150 successful development projects to date, comprising mobile, web, b2b, b2c and SaaS implementations of all types.

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Uru

The post End Offshoring Development Headaches with UruIT Nearshoring appeared first on KillerStartups.

Raven Scanner ditches the computer, the worst part of Scanner setup and use 25 Sep 2019, 2:37 pm

Scanning documents is a huge part of many different people’s business function. However, scanners have always been an IT nightmare. Interface with peripherals has always been difficult, as models and standards are always changing, but most businesses keep legacy equipment for as long as possible. Raven Scanner addresses this margin-killing connectivity hassle by completely removing computers from the scanning equation, allowing you to scan in peace.


Raven’s scanners come already-connected to a highly-functional, single purpose, internet-aware computers — computers that are built right into the scanners themselves. These integrated control systems can be accessed easily through the devices’ unique large, easy-to-understand touch-screen displays.

Through this display interface, users can easily control every aspect of the scanning process, while never having to connect the device to a computer, or fiddle with drivers, cables, firmware updates or operating system conflicts. The scanner connects directly to any wifi network and, from there, can scan documents directly to any internet-available resources, from archaic destinations like Fax Send and Print, to modern destinations like popular cloud storage services.

You can even scan directly to Raven’s own secure, unlimited scanned document storage cloud, Raven Cloud. Unlimited Raven Cloud storage is included free with every Raven Scan machine purchased, so you are ready to start collecting and organizing your important scans right out of the box.

Raven Scanners have seen unique and immediate success: Hundreds of businesses and households are adopting Raven Scanner and Raven Cloud every week since the scanners launched. Some schools are putting a Raven Scanner in each classroom, so students can student to turn in written homework directly to teachers’ personal digital clouds. Existing businesses scanning and shredding old file cabinets to go “paperless” are also finding this fully-integrated scanning solution ideal for their specific use case.


Stefan Diasti, CEO and Co-Founder of Raven Scanners, launched the product at Collision Conference in Toronto, in May of 2019. It’s the product of over 2 years’ worth of focused product development.

“We built Raven to provide seamless solutions that enable small businesses and chief household officers to go paperless,” Diasti says. “We set out to disrupt the document scanner category with user-centered design, a built-in interface that eliminates the need for a computer, direct scanning to the cloud, and unmatched customer service and support.”

Simple customer service is a big selling point: Raven Scanners include free automatic software updates, delivered directly over the internet, which means Raven Scanners get the benefit of new features multiple times each month, without needing to upgrade to the latest model. Furthermore, no software is required to set up or use Raven Scanner or Raven Cloud, so it’s both platform and operating system agnostic.

“Our customers receive an end-to-end solution that allows them to effortlessly transition to cloud storage and document management,” Diasti explains, “By including Raven Cloud at no cost, we’ve eliminated barriers and complexity in turning paper documents into fully-searchable digital files that can be accessed from any device.”

Customers also appreciate that Raven Scan is a completely US-based business, located in Houston, Texas. This allows them to be closer to their customers, and to drive product innovation based on customer feedback. “When was the last time you called customer service to an electronics brand, got an answer within minutes from a representative in the U.S, and saw your request implemented in the next software update?” Diasti asks.

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Raven

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3 Steps to Relationships that Supercharge Your Startup 25 Sep 2019, 8:00 am

As the adage goes, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. When you’re looking for a job, that sure feels like the case — after all, a LinkedIn survey shows that 85% of open job positions are filled through networking. When it comes to succeeding in the startup world, the recipe is similar. Relationships are the cornerstone of a successful business, helping you earn the interest of important investors, acquire customers, and reach your full potential. Why are relationships so important? Because no matter what business you’re in, you can’t possibly go it alone.

Building a business takes a team of employees, partners, consultants, and clients. These people can help you accomplish your goals, but only if you value their contributions and treat them with respect. If you fail to nurture these relationships, it will sabotage your efforts, no matter how much work you put into creating your product or service.

To find startup success, follow these three steps to give your relationships the attention they deserve.

1. Look for ways to help your partners.

Every partnership is a two-way street, but startups don’t always see it that way. “For startups seeking investment, landing capital can begin to feel like the endgame,” says Dan Lauer, founding executive director at UMSL Accelerate. “But remember: Established companies are expecting something out of a partnership, too. Older companies are always looking for fresh perspectives, and startups usually have innovative ideas to contribute. It’s important to clearly communicate what each partner brings to the table.”

Just because your company is getting off the ground doesn’t mean you don’t have anything to offer. Advantages like a flat organizational structure and a tight-knit team lend themselves to incredible agility — something many larger organizations lack. To determine what you can bring to a relationship, approach meetings with partners by keeping their needs in mind. This strategy will help you serve others while accomplishing your own goals.

2. Broaden and diversify your networks.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of only connecting with people like us — people in similar industries, with similar roles, at similar stages in their careers. These homogenous networks, however, are far less effective. Chris Stricklin, chief growth officer at executive coaching firm General Leadership, points out how important it is to connect with people outside your normal sphere. “If everyone in your network thinks like you, you only need one person in your network,” he says. In contrast, a well-rounded circle of connections enhances your ability to gain new ideas and perspectives.

So take deliberate action to connect with a wide range of people, whether it’s reaching out to someone you follow on social media or setting up a meeting with one of your best customers. “Be deliberate in developing connections with professionals and experts in other industries,” Stricklin advises. “Read articles and comment to open the conversation. This simple gesture of reaching out is how to best connect.” Once you forge those connections, nurture the most important relationships — give as much as you hope to get out of them.

3. Connect your brand to a cause.

According to the new “Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation” issued by the Business Roundtable, a group of 181 CEOs at the world’s largest companies, the days of shareholder primacy are over. Today, companies that want to be successful must recognize their responsibility to other groups, including their employees, supply chain partners, and the communities in which they operate. The statement’s declaration isn’t surprising, considering 90% of consumers expect companies to go beyond profit and address social and environmental issues.

With so many consumers demanding that companies demonstrate corporate social responsibility, investors are following suit. Impact investments — investments made with the aim of producing measurable positive social and environmental impact — exceed expectations of both financial return and social benefit more often than they fall short. Connecting your own startup to a cause will open doors and allow you to add influential individuals to your network who can broaden your reach and help you leave a lasting mark.

When it comes to nurturing a network, some entrepreneurs make the mistake of opting for quantity over quality. Starting a business demands an incredible amount of time, and you need to be realistic about how many meaningful relationships you can sustain at once.

Think about your network like a sports team, with each member filling a specific role. When you have a full roster, it’s fine to occasionally bench a player without cutting him or her entirely, but you don’t need a bench that outnumbers your starters 10 to one. Focus on helping the individuals who have something valuable to offer in return, and you’ll have a much easier time creating an effective, lasting network.

The post 3 Steps to Relationships that Supercharge Your Startup appeared first on KillerStartups.

How Plant-Based Meat Brands Fuel Growth 20 Sep 2019, 8:00 am

Everywhere you look and nearly everywhere you eat, plant-based meat companies are making incredible strides. Burger King recently debuted its beefless Impossible Whopper. KFC is currently testing a meat alternative from Beyond Meat, and — if the Colonel approves — there’s no telling what could happen to Beyond’s stock, already up 487% from its initial public offering in May 2019.

Beyond isn’t the only highflier in the space. Data from Nielsen illustrates that plant-based protein sales increased 23% from 2017 to 2018. While the $684 million industry category still represents less than 1% of the U.S. retail meat market, the explosion of meat alternative brands — and investments from major meat producers, such as Tyson Foods — suggest that figure could change dramatically in the near future. 

Plant-based meat companies are experiencing a meteoric rise because they’re carving out a new niche in alternative protein. Previously, this market space had been dubbed “vegetarian.” Bean burgers, soy sausage, and the like had been relegated to their own grocery sections, far away from the meat eater’s gaze. Now, however, alternative meat from Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat, and smaller brands owned by big companies like Kellogg and Nestlé graces grocery stores’ meat cases.

Lessons from the Meat Market

Whether or not they’re overhauling a market, startups from any industry stand to benefit from a few key growth marketing tactics that plant-based meat brands use:

1. Don’t be late to the data party.

Startups might not have the astronomical marketing budget of an established company, but they should still make key decisions based on data. When Beyond Meat looked at customer loyalty data in 2018, it found that 93% of shoppers purchasing Beyond Burgers were also buying meat. The data was a revelation that supported the company’s decision to market to everyone — not just vegetarians looking for meat alternatives.

Data can and should power efforts at every stage of a startup’s growth, and marketers should consider every lead source. “It’s important to know where your users are coming from so you can get more of them,” advises Janielle Denier, CEO at growth-stage startup marketing firm Rainfactory. “It’s also important to know what your potential customers are doing once they land on your website.” Track this information, and put it to use by creating lookalike audiences and optimizing sales funnels.

2. Make something for the masses.

Too many startups focus on their super fans and create content, messaging, and products for that small audience. As a young company, it’s more important to acquire a large audience and tap into greater potential. Plant-based protein brands used to target vegetarians and vegans, groups that represent 5% and 3% of Americans, respectively. Today, companies like Beyond Meat are marketing to people who eat. Spoiler alert: That’s a much larger percentage of the population — hence the messaging directed at any curious omnivore. 

As Caroline Bushnell, associate director of corporate engagement at The Good Food Institute, points out, “In the last few years, as we’ve seen more companies innovating and thinking of their market base as all consumers and meat eaters…the way these products are being innovated and produced has really evolved.” Instead of reserving products for a select few, plant-based meat companies are making them for, and marketing them to, the masses.

3. Pick your partners strategically.

To startups, partnerships with big businesses represent a wealth of opportunity. Seemingly boundless budgets, an army of experts, and the authority of an established name all appeal to intrepid innovators looking to get their big break. That’s why Impossible Foods has relied on partnerships with fast-food chains like White Castle and Burger King, in addition to well-known chefs in cities around the world.

At the same time, it’s important to recognize what startups bring to the table in a potential partnership. The ability of a small team to move quickly and innovate effectively is incredibly valuable to large, lumbering organizations hoping to keep up with smaller competitors. When it’s time to look for potential partners, gravitate toward relationships that offer mutual benefit and value alignment.

No matter what type of startup you’re marketing, you can learn a thing or two from the success of plant-based meat brands. In redefining an industry category, these companies have been forced to market for growth. That means making decisions based on data, appealing to a broad audience, and picking partners with more than money in mind.

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Buy Southside Blooms’ non-toxic flowers, and help build the south side’s social infrastructure. 19 Sep 2019, 5:41 pm

Flowers sold in urban areas are notoriously toxic. They’re grown hundreds of miles away, under the worst factory-farming conditions, and are treated, en route, with even more chemical adulterants. However, if you live in the United States or have loved ones there, you now have a progressive solution to this vexing quandary. Instead of giving up on bouquets all together, you can pre-order organic bouquets via Kickstarter, for prices comparable to retail florists, from a fledgeling social enterprise on the south side of Chicago.

Southside Blooms is a social enterprise start-up that rehabilitates vacant lots on Chicago’s south side. They farm, build and sell top-tier bouquets arranged by vibrant young designers. Many of the designers are also at-risk youth who are served by the social justice education program provided by Chicago Eco House, Southside Blooms’ backing 501(c)3.

Quilen Blackwell, President and co-founder of Chicago Eco House and Southside Blooms, explains that it’s “a way for everyone to participate in the budding green renaissance that is taking place here. Our flowers are superior in quality, as they are toxin free, and they are superior in impact, as each purchase goes directly into job creation for some of our most vulnerable residents.”

Southside Blooms is launching a Kickstarter campaign on September 23rd, 2019, where people can pre-order flower bouquets for the 2020 growing season. It was first recognized as a successful social enterprise in 2017, as the winner of both the Underwriter’s Laboratories Innovative Education Award, and the Delta Institute’s BOOST award for contribution towards a more sustainable economy. 

In 2018 the The University of Chicago Medicine’s Urban Health Initiative (UHI) awarded Chicago Eco House a violence prevention, intervention and recovery grants, funding which it renewed this year. “UChicago Medicine is proud to support these vital programs and efforts as we all come together to address violence recovery and prevention in our communities,” says Brenda Battle, vice president of the University of Chicago Medicine’s Urban Health Initiative

Southside Blooms is just one of the many social enterprises that Chicago Eco House supports. They offer a wide variety of other educational and social-justice programming, all designed to uplift members of the local community while rehabilitating its blighted public spaces. Southside Blooms is the most visible of these programs, with its multicolored floral lots immediately drawing the eyes of every passer-by. 

Orders for next year’s batch of flowers open on September 23rd, and can be placed directly through the project’s funding page on Kickstarter.com. For directions to the campaign once it’s underway, visit Chicago Eco House’s website at https://www.southsideblooms.com/

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Southside Blooms

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6 Soft Skills Even the Most Technical Employees Need 17 Sep 2019, 6:45 am

The smarter tools and processes become, the more heavily companies rely on the soft skills of their employees to keep things running smoothly. There are many important soft skills that even the most technical employees need.

According to the 2018 Workplace Learning Report from LinkedIn, most respondents named training for soft skills as their top priority in 2018. Technical skills can only go so far if the people using them don’t know how to work within teams, exercise intellectual curiosity or represent the brand the right way.

During the next round of interviews, keep an eye out for candidates who demonstrate these critical soft skills:

1. Mindfulness.

As most productivity junkies know by now, multitasking does not exist. Research covered by Very Well Mind found that multitaskers are not only less productive than their mindful counterparts, but they are even worse at switching between tasks than people who do one thing at a time.

People cannot do two things at once and hope to do either of them well. Present candidate’s with scenarios that include a variety of tasks and ask them how they would handle the situation.

2. Problem-solving skills.

Anyone with the right knowledge can solve a problem. However, what happens when the person needs more information to get the right answer? People who need their hands held at work are far less valuable than people who take the initiative to work through things.

Ask candidates to demonstrate their problem-solving skills by asking open-ended questions about concrete goals during the interview process. Perkbox compiled a great list of prompts for this purpose.

3. Time management.

Procrastinators have no place in startup environments where every day is full of new and timely challenges.

  • Quiz candidates about how they schedule their workloads when things get heated.
  • What do they prioritize?
  • What do they do when they don’t have enough time to complete everything?

Look for people who not only know how to be efficient but how to recognize which tasks are more important than others. Also, look for applicants who know how to quickly ask for and get outside help and cooperation.

4. Written and oral communication.

Even the most technical employees work with others. People who don’t know how to communicate with their coworkers inevitably delay projects and create friction within their teams. SHRM reports that miscommunications cost companies of 100 employees an average of $420,000 every year.

Ask candidates questions with multiple points and see whether they address all the issues raised. Send a follow-up email asking them to answer a few questions, then evaluate how effectively they communicate their answers back to you. You can watch for timely follow-up, as well.

5. Coachable.

No one likes a know-it-all. Look for hires who recognize their limits and are eager to learn more about how to do something better. Ask your applicants how they find out what they must know to do a job, if they don’t have the answer.

All candidates will claim to be intellectually curious. Make them prove it by asking the right questions. Drew Houston, founder of Dropbox, prompts candidates to talk about their biggest influencers in the same line of work and the lessons those candidates have learned from studying the best of the best. These applicants will begin to name names, books they have read, maybe a conference attended, someone they’ve admired, a mentor, or a former boss. You will find out some good tips for your own curiosity-seeking behaviors.

6. Positivity.

No life is easy, but a startup life really isn’t easy. Deals fall through, deadlines loom and hard work doesn’t always pay off. When that happens, the company doesn’t need a bunch of Chicken Littles yelling about how the sky is falling. It needs people who can keep the mood light without losing sight of the bigger picture.

Monster says the best candidates are enthusiastic not only about the work they do but about the people around them. Speak to candidates about challenges they have faced in the past. Listen closely to see how they talk about the people who helped them overcome the odds.

With a little training, anyone can learn to code, build or design. No amount of technical ability can overcome a lack of soft skills, though. In your next round of interviews, look for these soft skills to identify candidates who possess both the know-how and the attitude to help your company grow.


Originally published here.

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How to Get Better Advice for Your Business 16 Sep 2019, 8:00 am

Running a business is hard — end of story. As much experience, schooling, or preparation you might have, you’ll run into an unexpected hiccup along the way. Regardless of how great your offerings are, the world around you will change. As your industry shifts or economic blips change demand, you’ll have to endure the consequences.

One of the few things that really does help is advice from others who have gone through the same thing. Whatever is happening to you has likely happened to plenty of business leaders before. Seeking out their advice is a great way to weather the storm you’re currently facing, whether it’s a PR nightmare or a logistical issue. 

Finding the right people, however, isn’t always as easy as it seems. If you’re looking to get guidance, consider:

1. Incubators

Incubators are a great way to refine and develop your business with a greater sense of security. Businesses that have been through incubators have an 87% survival rate — much better than the 50% attrition rate most businesses face after five years. 

That being said, it’s important to find the right type of incubator for your business. Not all incubation programs will be well-suited to your business’s operations. Lists of the best accelerators and incubators can give you a starting point. Consider what types of companies the programs have produced, as well as the types of mentors they offer. Evaluate the resources that will be available to you. Even the questions asked during the application process can help you determine whether the program is relevant to your company. 

2. Futurist Speakers

It’s one thing to seek advice for your current problems in business; it’s another to prepare for the problems you may face going forward. Futurist speakers can offer valuable insight into what the professional landscape is going to look like in the short and long term, giving your business a powerful edge over shortsighted competition. These consultants are able to pinpoint threats and opportunities you may not have noticed. An introduction to an exciting, yet unfamiliar, idea can be invaluable.

Whether it’s automation or cryptocurrency, new technologies promise to upend every part of business. Whether you run a cutting-edge tech startup or a long-established brick-and-mortar operation, changes in the digital world are determining the way business is done the world over. If you want to be successful, you need some forward-thinking people guiding you.

3. Industry Leaders

Those at the top had to get there somehow. Who are the big names and faces in your sector? More importantly, how did they get there? Knowing how the most successful achieved prominence can be a helpful guide for doing the same yourself.

Look for leaders with similar backgrounds or business models as yours. If their actions are imitable, think about how you might incorporate their style or philosophy. Perhaps there’s an aspect of their thinking you disagree with — find a way to subvert it while applying what feels like a strong fit. 

4. Mentors

Sometimes, it can all just come down to one person. A mentor can be extremely helpful for guiding you along your path as an entrepreneur while giving you the personal connection and attention you need to thrive. The benefits are obvious: 88% of owners consider a mentor invaluable. 

As great as it can be to have an old friend or confidant be your mentor, don’t be afraid to reach out beyond your comfort zone. Scouting your industry for potential mentors is critical for finding the right person to steer you in the best direction when it comes to your business. Plenty of well-established businesspeople are willing and happy to share their insights with younger leaders trying to cut their teeth in the same field. Let them know you’re interested. 

5. Authors

Many people are aware of many of the best business books, but that certainly doesn’t mean they’ve read them. Going straight to some of the most popular and enlightening books about business cuts out the need for endless applications, emails, and inquiries. A well-written book can offer direct access to the most valuable aspects of someone’s thoughts.

That’s not to say that you need to go straight for the classics, though. There’s so much literature out there on so many subjects that you could probably find a book that offers a valuable solution to the problem you’re facing — or at least a new way of looking at it. Additionally, a book doesn’t have to be directly about business to be enlightening. Reading about great philosophers or politicians can also give you insight into how strong leaders operate. 

No one will be able to address exactly what you’re going through, but plenty of people and resources can help. Running a business is hard — finding the right guidance makes it easier.

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Has There Been a Proven Method to Stop Procrastination? 12 Sep 2019, 6:45 am

Procrastination is something that most people have faced at some point in their lives. For some reason, we as humans struggle to avoid things that are unpleasant. We delay the inevitable, especially when it’s unpalatable. And we even do the same procrastination techniques when there is an issue or event that is really important to us — even if it’s something critical. But has there been a proven method to stop procrastination?

Around 20 percent of people identify themselves as procrastinators.

The problem may be that we’re lying to ourselves, or maybe we are not aware or have no idea how long a task will actually take to accomplish. Nowadays there are many studies to help people with procrastination. You could also, just start timing yourself to see how long a task will take. Write your times on your calendar and try and get faster and faster each day.

In a university student study there were two different groups of college students. These two groups were told to have three papers due in three weeks. What was learned about procrastination?

Group one: could turn in their papers at anytime during the three weeks.

Group two: had to turn in daily and weekly  scheduled pieces of information for these papers. At the end of the allotted three week time period, the students in group one who were required to hand in a little bit each day and had strict deadlines, got all the work done. Everyone of them had the work done and all of the work was quality work.

Group one: were the ones who were able to have the entire freedom of choice of when to hand in the work and at what speed. Every single person in that group failed to get the work completed. The pieces of the work that had any part of it done, were done at a substandard level.

This study tells us that we are not really good at determining how much time a task will take. We don’t figure out quickly enough when things should be done, nor are we very good at regulating ourselves.

The solution seems to lie somewhere in a place where we have to be more strict with ourselves in order to perform how we would wish. This same solution holds true if you are managing a team whom you need to keep motivated to get their work done.

One quick fix to procrastination, is to trick yourself into getting your work done.

Many people say things like “eat the elephant one step at a time.” Well, that was the old phrase. Now, the new and improved suggestion is, “eat the frog first thing in the morning.” Hum, pretty much the same thing, except the elephant is bigger. After you have taken a giant bite of your elephant or frog, be sure to reward yourself in some way. Small rewards along the way have proven to be a better technique than a great big massive or marvelous reward at the end.

What are are the steps that need to happen to stop procrastination and get your project done?

  • Don’t keep thinking of your project as a whole elephant.
  • Try to break this project down into the bite sized pieces. Really, really small.
  • Don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed by looking at the end of the project.
  • If you are one of those that gets a little down when overwhelmed, then you have an extra step in here. You definitely cannot allow your thoughts to ever go to the whole job. Just don’t.
  • Keep your headspace clear for the smaller daily hustle.

The process will work the best to stop procrastination when individuals take their calendar and write in all of the  steps of the project.

It is best to include all of the steps, no matter how simple, broken down into minute by minute or hour by hour instructions. Have even the tiny steps clearly visible on your calendar.

Many people will be like an ogre to their team or even to themselves. These people are mean to themselves or their team members to get work done. “You sit there until all of your veggies are eaten first.” If you act like this to yourself or to your team — your process will take a hundred times longer to finish.

You are an adult. You don’t have to force your own-self to eat the veggies first. You can have the ice cream first if you want to.

Pick the part of the project that you LOVE to do the most, and do that task first. This can stop procrastination.

Enjoy your personal processes. Maybe you like to organize every little thing, or do the artwork first. Go ahead and draw, color, write, code, think and do something wonderful.

There have been studies that have shown that people are often like their dog. The dog will go over to lie down on the rug. If the dog doesn’t circle around themselves three times, they cannot settle down to rest. Try stopping your pet from that circle mechanism, and see if this is not true. This pet cannot and will not settle until they circle around.

If you are one of the people that has to circle three times before you start your project — then get circling to stop procrastination, and get it done so you can start your work.

If you sit there and resist the circling you will become more and more unsettled and sometimes this resisting will cause you not to be able to do the job at all. I am using the word “circling” but this does not necessarily mean circling your rug or circling your desk.

Human are more likely to need to clean up their work area. Years ago in studies, many workers had to sharpen all their pencils before they could begin work. Just sharpening their pencils signaled their brains to stop procrastination.

Maybe you are one who has to clean up your work space, get a bottle of water, get your coffee, write a list and then settle into your work. You can make yourself not do this — all day long if you wish. But the quickest way for you to get to your work and get it done, is to get your circling done. Then you will easily be able jump to your work and start.

I have to wipe my keyboard and mouse with a Clorox wet wipe. The fact that I wiped everything off before I leave at night is immaterial.

Take a few days to watch really closely and see what your habits tell you that you have to do. Then — just get to that habit as early as possible — it will stop procrastination — then you’ll hop right to your work.

Next, what is it that you always succumb to at work when you should be working? What is causing your personal procrastination?

  • Is it social media?
  • Is it your friend calling or texting?
  • Is it a treat in the kitchen at the office?
  • What is calling you?

In an old Greek Mythology story, sailors were called away by these gorgeous mermaids singing to them and calling them away from their work.

These mermaids are probably on YouTube right now. You don’t want others calling you away from the work that you should be doing. Also, you don’t want to be the mermaid calling others from their work when they are busy and in the zone.

In the Greek tale, one of the sailors told everyone else on the boat to tie him to the large pole in the center of the ship so that he wouldn’t fall under the spell of the “sirens.” This guy also told all of the sailors to stuff something in their ears so they couldn’t hear the sound either, lest it stop their work. The other sailors tied him up and stopped up their own ears. The sailers were finally able to sail past YouTube without looking. Maybe it was Amazon? But either way — the sailors were able to resist what was calling them away from their work.

You can tell your friends not to call — but some still will. The best action for me is to turn off notifications.

The personally-agreed-to rules of the office at Calendar.

Here are the rules of our office:

  • If you look around the office and someone has earbuds in — that means that you can approach.
  • If you are ignored wait a few seconds.
  • If you are still ignored — go away — the person has to finish the thought or whatever they are working on.

If the person has on noise-cancelling earphones — it means “stay the hell away.”

This has become an important distinction. We have a lively office with many visitors who we really like and we would like to talk to all day long. But because of the deadlines we are under, we had to make this hard and fast rule. It works beautifully.  Also, no one is allowed to take offense if someone has on their headphones.

One thing I have personally noticed. If a person has those big headphones on, and their typing is going so fast and loud that a jet engine could be actually be taking-off — our entire office goes in to hyper-drive-work-mode. Everyone starts working so fast and intently — that it really is something to see.

As you look around your own office — ask yourself if you are the distractor? Don’t be. For myself — I call it “gluing my butt to the seat.” In this way, it guarantees that my work will be done in a timely manner.


Originally published here.

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5 Calendar Problems That Eat Your Productivity 12 Sep 2019, 5:45 am

We are creatures of habit. At times bad habits, done in the name of “being too busy”, cause us to lose valuable time and productivity. While we may recognize some of these bad habits or problem areas we may not always correct them.

When you’re constantly on-the-go, one problem area to concentrate on fixing is your calendar. Correcting calendar problems that eat your productivity can free up time in your schedule for both work and leisure activities.

1. Forgetting to Figure in Travel Time

One of the calendar problems that eat your productivity is forgetting to figure in travel time. Certainly travel time is needed for meetings, conferences and other events located far from where you live and work.

But at times there is even a certain amount of travel time needed for closer meetings. Even in the same building it takes time to get from one floor to another. In very large buildings traveling from one end to the other can take several minutes.

To avoid always being late, try not to schedule back to back meetings without considering travel time in between. That way you aren’t walking into meetings with red cheeks stammering your apologies after a meeting has already started.

No more restarting meetings or catching you up on what was missed either. Each of these options waste time and cause irritation for others in attendance. Meetings will be more productive for everyone with this one change.

2. Not Blocking Time for Work Projects

Another one of the calendar problems you might be guilty of is not blocking time for your work projects. Others aren’t in charge of your time, but you are.

Ensuring you have enough time to complete important work is up to you. Nobody is going to do that for you, so take charge of your time.

Block time in your schedule as if you are going to be in a meeting. This can help you complete tasks on time and with accuracy.

3. Neglecting to Review Your Calendar

Neglecting to review your calendar can eat your productivity. When you don’t plan ahead by looking ahead you start each day already behind.

For instance, not looking ahead may make you late for an early morning meeting you forgot about. Sometimes that makes you feel “off” all day long, upsetting the balance of your day and slowing you down.

Instead, get in the habit of looking ahead at your calendar at the end of each day. See what you have in store for you tomorrow so you begin the day already prepared.

4. Avoiding the Use of Calendar Tools

Do you use all of the available tools in your calendar that could improve your productivity? Sometimes you do the same things over and over and forget about advanced tools and options.

Taking a few minutes to explore what your calendar can and can’t do may pay off in bigger ways. You can reacquaint yourself with forgotten options and find new ones that save time. You may find things that allow you to automate tasks and speed up what you do.

5. Forgetting to Add Entries

Sometimes forgetting to add entries can eat your productivity. If you don’t add things to your calendar right away you can miss meetings you need to attend. This can affect your ability to complete projects and take extra time to catch up on what was missed.

Instead, always schedule items right when you need to. Most calendars have apps you can add to your phone that can help.

Most of us can’t deny having one or two bad habits. But you can correct bad habits causing calendar problems that eat your productivity and get more out of each day.


5 Calendar Problems That Eat Your Productivity was originally published on Due by .

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The Science Behind Procrastination and How You’ll Beat It 10 Sep 2019, 8:09 pm

I had every intention to crank this article out immediately following my morning routine. Already had the material put together in an outline, and I’d put it in my calendar to-do-list. I kept dragging my feet on writing the piece all morning. Even worse, while I’m usually a pro at blocking out distractions, I was more than willing to get a fantastic amount of work done quickly. This action is my favorite procrastination mojo — catch up and fix problematic back issues that are driving my team or me crazy. What’s the science behind procrastination and how you’ll beat it?

What’s going on here? Obviously — this is my go-to for procrastinating — something that everyone struggles with at some point. But you’ll want to figure out and know yourself well enough to answer this question precisely, “what is my procrastination mojo.”

Joseph Ferrari is a professor of psychology at DePaul University in Chicago. Ferrari is the author of, Still Procrastinating: The No Regret Guide to Getting It Done. Dr. Ferrari claims that “roughly 20 percent of U.S. adults are chronic procrastinators.” But, the statement by Ferrari begs the question, Why do we procrastinate, and what can we do to topple it?

What exactly is procrastination?

Before answering the questions above, let’s quickly define procrastination. And, let’s go over why what it’s such a big deal. If you conducted a search inquiry for “procrastination definition,” the first result is probably this: the action of delaying or postponing something. As pointed out by Piers Steel Ph.D. in a Psychology Today article, “if procrastination means simply delay — then we should be comfortable placing it along with the similar concepts of scheduling or prioritizing.”

However, being comfortable with placing procrastination in blocks alongside related issues is generally not the case. For example, your flight is delayed due to inclement weather. A delayed flight — and the weather are both issues entirely out of your control.  These matters occur and cannot be interpreted as you being “lazy” or “unmotivated” in any way. Timothy Pychyl says that “all procrastination is a delay, but not all delay is procrastination.”

If all procrastination is a delay — to me, that makes procrastination a unique type of postponement — since we often recognize the negative consequences. A better definition might be the one found in UPMC HealthBeat. The site describes procrastination as “the avoidance of work or necessary tasks by focusing on more satisfying activities that are due to a chemical in the brain.

Procrastination boils down to a battle between the limbic system and the prefrontal cortex,” further explains UPMC HealthBeat. “The limbic system is a set of brain structures containing the pleasure center, while the prefrontal cortex controls planning and decision making.” Since the prefrontal cortex isn’t as “developed and thus weaker, so often the limbic system wins out, leading to procrastination.”

The effects of procrastination.

Sometimes the argument going on between the limbic system and the prefrontal cortex isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes you may choose to delay doing something because it’s the best idea at the time. For example, I wasn’t going to write this article until I was more focused — I didn’t want to write a half-hearted piece.

Others who have embraced procrastination have claimed that they make better decisions, provides insights, and sparks creativity. Sometimes structured procrastination can help you get more done and eliminate unnecessary tasks. At the same time, chronic procrastination should be avoided. Restraining yourself from procrastination is because practicing poor habits can become — well — habits. Patterns have severe consequences, and you don’t want the habits that will harm you.

The most apparent negative impact would be missing deadlines. For instance, not filing your taxes on time, failing to submit a project by the due date, or waiting to buy a birthday present for your spouse at the last minute. All of these actions and non-actions will affect your career and personal life. As a result, poor-action habits can damage relationships and put your health in jeopardy.

Science Behind Procrastination: The Different types of procrastination.

Hopefully, you have a better understanding of what procrastination is and what impact — for good or not-so-good — this action will have in your life. Keep in mind, non-action is still an action. If you have made a decision and taken the “action of not acting” — there will always be a consequence.

Now it’s time to figure out which type of procrastinator you are so that you can get to the bottom of why you’re not getting things done. Or you’ll want to know why you are doing other things instead of making a plan and working the plan. According to psychologist Neil Fiore, and author of Awaken Your Strongest Self, there are five common types of procrastinators:

  • The Perfectionist.
    Perhaps the most common kind of procrastinator who strives for the best and is their own worst critic because they don’t want to be embarrassed. “They may spend too much time on one component of a project, failing to manage their time properly. Or, they avoid the project altogether, then rush to finish it at the last minute,” writes Fast Company‘s, Gwen Moran.
  • The Imposter.“Afraid of being revealed as unqualified or inferior, this procrastinator puts off doing anything to avoid that risk,” adds Moran. “Often, this type of procrastinator has learned to feel like an imposter when they are surrounded by people who are difficult to please.”
  • The Dread-Filled.Out of all the different types of procrastination, this person is the most rational. After all, when you can’t stand what you’re doing — it’s almost impossible to find the motivation to get started.
  • The Overwhelmed.The overwhelmed individual is a more contemporary type of procrastinator and one that I feel a lot of entrepreneurs fall into this category. “Sometimes, there’s just too much to do, and it’s hard to figure out where to start—so we don’t do anything,” Fiore explains and is quoted by Moran.
  • The Lucky One.“Some people believe they do their best work under pressure, so they procrastinate until their back is up against the wall,” Nicole Bandes, founder of the consultancy the Productivity Expert,” told Moran. “If they have a history of doing this without consequence, they’ve essentially been rewarded for procrastinating.”

What drives procrastination.

We’ve briefly gone over why some people put off getting around to specific tasks. But, let’s dive a little deeper here. For starters, as Ishan Daftardar explains on Science ABC, as humans are simply wired and driven toward procrastination. “We can picture this whole process as a fight that has been sparked between two parts of the mind when it’s faced with a tedious task: a battle of the limbic system (the unconscious zone that includes the pleasure center) and the prefrontal cortex (the internal “planner”).”

“When the limbic system dominates,” continues Daftardar, “the result is putting off until tomorrow what could (and should) be done today.” Simply put, procrastination “all comes down to one simple thing – the wiring of your brain.” It should also be noted that the limbic system is one of the most dominant parts of the brain. It also controls mood and instinct.

An “instinct” means that emotions like fear, anxiety, anger, insecurity, and pleasure are all a part of this vital system. If emotions and instincts tie into procrastination, it’s easy to see that if you have to do something painful or stressful this system will urge you to stay away from it. Your instincts or emotions may be telling you something like, “danger, too much work,” when if fact, there would be less work if you just hurry and get the work done.

But you already know that emotions often have something irrational going on — somewhat like a “history program” running an app in the background of your mind. The old “history program app” is going to serve-you-up images, maybe even sound, to the weaker portion in your brain — the prefrontal cortex. “The prefrontal cortex (as we’ve just read), “is where you assimilate information and make decisions, says Daftardar. “The prefrontal cortex is what eventually forces us to complete a job or task.”

However, it takes some effort on your part to get the job done because the prefrontal cortex doesn’t work automatically. The reason behind this fact is that the limbic system takes control whenever we don’t succeed at a particular task. As a consequence, “you become more interested in doing something else that pleases you,” adds Daftardar.

Don’t forget about the amygdala.

There’s also the amygdala in there competing for attention. This “is the section of the brain associated with our automatic emotional reaction to a situation.” Whenever we feel stressed or overwhelmed, such as when having to tackle a challenging activity, a fight (resistance) or flight (ignore) reaction kicks into play.

“Both are forms of procrastination  — the brain is protecting us against possible negative feelings,” concludes Daftardar. “The norepinephrine chemical takes over, causing increased levels of fear and anxiety. That’s when adrenaline gets pumped into the picture.”

Dr. Tim Pychyl, professor of psychology and member of the Procrastination Research Group at Carleton University in Ottawa, has a much more straightforward explanation in the New York Times. “Procrastination is an emotion regulation problem, not a time management problem.” Is this statement by Dr. Pychyl is true? I hate to think it’s true — but anything to do with how you get your business accomplished each day — and how you face the demands of making a living — bears taking a close look.

Here are other reasons why you might procrastinate.

There are, of course, more specific reasons why people procrastinate. For example, technology has changed our cognitive control thanks to frequent buzzings throughout the day. In other words, all of those notifications on your smartphone are diverting your attention.

Another reason is that we have difficulty visualizing our future selves. According to a study conducted by psychologists Neil Lewis of the University of Michigan and Daphna Oyserman of the University of Southern California, “when people viewed distant events as days, instead of months or years, they took action more quickly.”

Pamela D. Garcy Ph.D. adds that procrastination can be caused by:

  • A lack of self-compassion.
  • Learning this habit from role models like your parents.
  • Believing that you can’t effectively complete a task.
  • Being bias towards a specific task.
  • Underestimating how long it takes you to get something done.
  • Depression or anxiety.
  • Feeling physically or psychologically uncomfortable.

Finally, avoiding anything that has negative associations is rewarding. “Our brains are always looking for relative rewards. If we have a habit loop around procrastination but we haven’t found a better reward, our brain is just going to keep doing it over and over until we give it something better to do,” psychiatrist and neuroscientist Dr. Judson Brewer, Director of Research and Innovation at Brown University’s Mindfulness Center, told the New York Times.

How can you overcome procrastination?

You can’t tell yourself to you snap out of it. Sometimes it requires you to do some rewiring of your habits. Dr. Brewer recommends that you give your brain a “Bigger Better Offer” or (B.B.O.).” What the BBO is saying, is get a reward for yourself that’s more substantial than the avoidance is giving your brain.

Forgive yourself quickly whenever you dilly dally. Other times you can stop procrastinating by merely establishing goals and routine. And, if that doesn’t work, then you should also try out the following techniques to overcome procrastination once and for all.

Awareness.

According to Princeton University’s McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning, the first steps to overcoming procrastination is to understand the reasons why you procrastinate:

“As with most problems, awareness and self-knowledge are the keys to figuring out how to stop procrastinating. For a lot of people acquiring this insight about how procrastination protects them from feeling like they are not able enough, and keeping it in mind when they are tempted to fall into familiar, unproductive, procrastinating habits goes a long way to solving the problem.”

After you’ve identified the root cause of procrastination, you can begin to take action. You may actually discover that it doesn’t take a whole lot to stop procrastinating. For instance, you may only need to change your environment, set deadlines, eliminate common distractions, or try telling others about your goals.

Do the worst thing first.

“We have a limited, depletable supply of willpower and resources,” says Piers Steel, Ph.D., a professor of human resources and organizational dynamics at the University of Calgary. Steel is the author of The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Things Done. To counter this depletable supply of willpower, tackle your most challenging or heinous task first thing in the morning when you have the most energy.

Mindful training.

You will usually procrastinate because you feel anxious or overwhelmed. One of the best ways to combat this is through mindfulness. “Research has already shown that mindfulness meditation is related to amygdala shrinkage, expansion of the pre-frontal cortex, and a weakening of the connection between these two areas.” This statement was said by Prof Tim Pychyl from Carleton University to the BBC. Apps like Calm or Headspace can help you get started in becoming more mindful.

Get rid of catastrophizing.

“One of the biggest reasons people procrastinate is because they catastrophize, or make a huge deal out of something,” writes Elizabeth Lombardo Ph.D. for Psychology Today. “It may be related to how tough, how boring, or how painful it will be to complete the task; whatever the case, the underlying theme is that doing the task will be ‘unbearable.’”

“In reality, challenges, boredom, and hard work will not kill you — or even make you sick,” adds Lombardo. “Procrastination, on the other hand, is associated with stress. Think of the stress you feel when you avoid making a phone call you know you need to make.” The solution then is to “keep things in perspective and assuring yourself that you can “get through it.”

Use the five-minute rule.

“If you don’t want to do something, make a deal with yourself to do at least five minutes of it,” says Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom. “After five minutes, you’ll end up doing the whole thing.” This strategy of “just starting” works for a couple of reasons. The first is that it encourages us to break down larger goals into more manageable pieces. The second is because of a psychological phenomenon called the Zeignarik Effect. This “effect” means that you have the tendency to remember unfinished tasks. So, in theory, if you start something, it will stick with you until it’s completed.

Practice self-compassion.

Research has found that self-forgiveness is one of the best cures for procrastination. Sounds simple? Not really. But, the sooner you forgive yourself and move on from past procrastination, the more likely you’ll experience any further delays.

Change your thinking.

“You may be procrastinating because you feel that you’re being forced by someone else to perform a task that you don’t want to do,” writes entrepreneur and lawyer Marelisa Fabrega. For example, you may feel like your co-founder is manipulating you in fixing a bug on your app. Obviously, you don’t like feeling this way — so you do everything but fix the bug issue. To get around this propensity inside yourself — start telling yourself that you choose to fix the app instead of believing that you have to.

Use your calendar.

“Put the tasks you need to do in your calendar — and commit yourself to get them done,” suggests Paul Petrone in a LinkedIn post. “The act of writing things down (as well as the satisfaction of crossing them off your list) will increase the chances you’ll do them on schedule.”

The Science Behind Procrastination and How You’ll Beat It was originally published on Calendar, by John Rampton.

The post The Science Behind Procrastination and How You’ll Beat It appeared first on KillerStartups.

How Small Business Owners Can Keep Team Members Happy 3 Sep 2019, 5:45 am

A solid team can make or break your business. Even if you are a control person, you can’t handle everything in your business. Having team members you can trust and rely on makes a huge difference.

While finding a promising team can seem like a challenge, keeping those people onboard and happy should be your true focus. That way, you can focus on long-term goals and start to build a routine. 

Here are some tips for keeping team members happy.

Set Clear Expectations

As the business owner, you have to clearly define your expectations for team members. Make sure you communicate effectively about job roles and what you expect. If you notice any issues or slip-ups early on, be sure to address them so everyone is on the same page. 

When your team knows what you want and expectations are set, it makes it easier for all parties to be happy with the process.

Show Appreciation

Showing appreciation is important and easy to do. Members of your team may be the first people to interact with clients or customers on your behalf. If they’re doing good work, be sure to say thank you. A nice gesture around the holidays is also a nice way to show appreciation.

Make the hierarchy in the business as flat as possible and you will have an appreciated and engaged staff. Encourage your frontline staff to be creative in coming up with new ideas and ask for feedback on what the clients really want.

Make the Environment Pleasant and Comfortable

Every business has a company culture even if you just work virtually. You want each team member to fit in and feel comfortable with the way things are run.

Be sure to make the workplace as comfortable as can be with suitable conveniences and regular team meetings so everyone can interact. If you’re working in an office give your employees the freedom to personalize their workspaces. 

When I worked for a small business, I loved the environment. We got to decorate the office and our workspaces and there were often weekly informal meetings to discuss the team’s progress and share suggestions.

Reward Small Achievements

Nothing makes employees like being recognized for the small and big things. It doesn’t have to be anything major. A simple ‘thank you’ email or an inquiry on how your employees spent their weekend. Your employees are more likely to feel great about their work when they know you care about them.

You may also want to take things a step further and incentivize certain activities that your team helps with. At a previous job, my boss offered Amazon gift cards to anyone who could get a client to leave a review on our company on Google or Yelp. Your reward doesn’t have to be monetary either. You could consider doing an ’employee of the month’ type of recognition easily.

Consider Offering Benefits

Depending on the size of your business, it may or may not make sense to offer employee benefits. Doing so, however, can make a big difference and lead to employee retention.

If you have part-time team members or can’t afford to provide benefits like health insurance or a retirement plan, consider other benefits your team members may enjoy. Providing a monthly gym membership may not cost much but can help your team members focus on their health. Maybe you have a product or service that your team can get for free or at a discount when working for your business.

If you run an online business, structure work schedules to allow unlimited vacation days and time off so long as team members meet their deadlines.

At the end of the day, be mindful that with no staff there may not be a business. Focus on keeping your team members happy and treating them with respect to grow your business.

How do you keep your team members happy and productive? 

 

 

How Small Business Owners Can Keep Team Members Happy was originally published on Due by .

The post How Small Business Owners Can Keep Team Members Happy appeared first on KillerStartups.

VC Funding Could Kill Your Growth — Try This 29 Aug 2019, 8:00 am

The legend of the successful startup follows a predictable pattern. Founders with a dream connect with wealthy investors, who believe in the founders’ vision. The company then uses the massive check to grow into a major disruptor.

In some cases, the legend holds true — but not all. Plenty of startups find their footing and grow into successful companies without the backing of angel investors or venture capitalists. Photography community startup ViewBug has been in business for more than 10 years and acquired more than 2.5 million users without a dime from investors. When watch company MVMT sold to Movado for $200 million last year, the company’s founders and employees kept 100% of the take.

Startup founders should be accustomed to going against the flow, yet many continue to believe that investors guard all the roads to success. That narrative serves investors well, but not every startup needs investor funds to scale. Money from other funding methods spends just as well as money from VCs. Before taking a dime from people who want a share of the company, founders should consider all their options.

The Hidden Cost of VC Money

Mark Cuban understands investor relationships as well as anyone. According to him, startups shouldn’t see investor money as a positive step forward, but as a last resort.

“The last thing on the list is venture capital money,” he said in a 2017 interview. “They aren’t giving it to you for charity — and the minute you take that money, that’s not the end, but when the obligation really starts. You thought you had an obligation to grow your business before you took the money? You have no idea.”

Funding should be a means to an end, not a goal in itself, yet many founders pop the champagne when they get their first big deal. Venture capitalists might enable companies to scale quickly, but they have little patience for experimentation or delays. Investors want fast growth and definite payouts, which leads many startups to follow unsustainable paths to please the people holding the purse strings.

Startup founders didn’t escape the 9-to-5 grind just to work at the whims of others. Entrepreneurs crave the freedom to innovate and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Taking VC money puts those goals at risk. Even when VC-backed companies find sustainable success, company leaders must continue to listen to the demands of the investors who helped facilitate their growth. 

Alternative Funding Options for Startups

Fortunately, startups have plenty of options to invest in their companies without giving up control or stock. Consider whether these funding methods could work for your growing business:

1. Crowdfunding

Some companies use crowdfunding campaigns to prove the viability of their ideas and attract new investors. On its own, though, crowdfunding can provide plenty of money to help startups get off the ground.

Different types of crowdfunding serve different needs. Standard crowdfunding campaigns help companies raise the funds required to create and ship specific new products, usually offering perks or early access to their backers. Equity crowdfunding, on the other hand, connects young companies to large pools of non-accredited investors. Startups can give away as much or as little equity as they want, while small-time investors can fund the companies that appeal to them.

2. Grants and Government Funds

Not every startup is eligible for government funding, but you may be surprised by how many industries offer grants to companies and founders with big ideas. Fundera put together a massive list of 105 different small business grants for founders to consider, but that list is far from comprehensive.

Before you start sending applications to every national grant program, look locally to see whether your city or state offers assistance for your industry. You don’t have to be an environmental company or a nonprofit to receive these funds — often, your status as a resident is enough to qualify. Few grants offer the same massive figures as VC funds, but on the bright side, you don’t have to give up part of your business to take the money.

3. Friends, Family, and Business Partners

Business loans from banks and those backed by the Small Business Administration often provide funding, but not all founders can qualify for formal help. If you fall into that category, you may have better luck pitching your friends, family members, and business partners.

People within your social circle might be willing to lend you some cash to help get your company off the ground at friendlier rates than banks, and they’re all but guaranteed to ask for less control of your business than a VC firm would. If you don’t know many people with deep pockets, consider asking your vendor partners or biggest customers for advance payments. Good relationships will be critical as you grow your company. If you succeed, remember the partners who believed in you from the beginning and treat them accordingly.

When all else fails, don’t be afraid to throw your own savings into your business. Plenty of founders have worked creative side hustles to come up with the money they needed to invest in their companies.

Before you take that VC check, think about whether alternative funding options might be better for your company’s future. VC money could be a blessing — or a curse.

The post VC Funding Could Kill Your Growth — Try This appeared first on KillerStartups.

5 Ways to Find Time for Your Business 29 Aug 2019, 5:45 am

In my experience as a business owner, one thing I’ve noticed is a common pattern in excuses as to why people can’t do things. One of the most common excuses is they can’t find time to work on their businesses.

For example, I’ll often go to local events for women entrepreneurs and the first thing 85 percent of them say is how they don’t have time to grow their businesses because of their kids.

Don’t get me wrong, do people have a heavy load of responsibilities? Yes. However, I know plenty of mothers to small children who still find time.

This, of course, is just one example I hear all the time. Another example is blaming a day job for the lack of time. This one kind of irks me because I’m one of those people who built a business on the side of their day job. I was able to find time even though I was busy.

The question then becomes, how do we do it? How do we find time to grow our businesses and keep moving forward? In this article I’ll share my best tips for finding time to for your business.

Tip #1 Assess your priorities.

The biggest difference I see between business owners who find time and those who do not is priorities. Those who find time prioritize their business. They may not prioritize it above their families, but it’s up there.

For example, they will get up extra early to work on their business before getting their kids ready for school. Or they’ll wait until later at night when their kids are in bed.

The same applies if you still have a day job. I used to work before going to my job, during my lunch hour, after I clocked out, and on weekends. The reason is because I was clear about my priorities. I knew I wanted to run my own business and did the work necessary to get there.

The truth is if you want it bad enough you make sure to find time. Period. You also have to prioritize yourself and your business. You can’t move forward if you’re always putting yourself last. That’s true whether you’re raising a family or ten years in the business game.

I do want to be mindful of the fact that this isn’t easy. Especially if you have responsibilities that take up a lot of your time. However, it’s important to remember that this is only temporary. Your kids won’t need you as much forever. Your job also won’t be there forever. Whatever the situation is, it’s not forever.

Tip #2 Assess where you’re currently wasting time

I interviewed Michelle Schroeder-Gardner for my podcast last year. In case you don’t know who Michelle is, she makes over $100,000 a month through affiliate sales on her blog.

One of the things she says during that interview is how people spend an average of 30 hours a week watching TV. Those are 30 hours you can use for your business.

That statistic blew my mind, but I don’t doubt that it’s true. Even while looking at my own life this year I realized I spent too much time watching Real Housewives. Don’t get me wrong, every once in a while is okay, but I was wasting valuable time where I could be working or learning something new.

If you feel like you can’t find time to work on your business your job is to do an audit of what you are currently doing with your time. Other time leaks may include messing around on social media or playing on your phone.

Tip #3 Cut out the side projects that are getting in the way.

I’m currently walking a new group of clients through my six-week business coaching program. One of the students recently had the realization that she needed to cut a lot of projects out of her life in order to find time for her business.

Here’s where it’s tricky. All those projects make her some side income. The issue is they are getting in the way of her business which has the potential to make her a lot more money.

It may look like she’s giving up money, but it’s only temporary. The reality is her focus is split and it’s causing her to spin her wheels and make less money overall.

The same applies for projects within your current business as well. If you are honest with yourself, you can probably find projects that aren’t a good use of your time. For example, another client found that one offering in her business is what really makes money, whereas the others don’t yield results. She’s cutting down on the fluff and focusing on the money maker.

It’s when we focus our energy on the right tasks that we find time for our businesses and make more money. Therefore your job is to make sure you’re using your time and energy wisely.

how to train yourself to become a morning person

Tip #4 Delegate stuff in your business and your life.

I recently heard a fabulous interview with an entrepreneur who said she doesn’t cook or clean because it doesn’t pay her. Instead, she pays someone else to do those things so she can focus her time on making more money.

Now that I’ve been self-employed and delegating to others for several years, I see how true this actually is. The more I delegate, the more time I have to earn more money. It seems counterintuitive because delegating usually costs money, but it all comes down to how you use your time.

I delegate things in my business that take away from my ability to make money. For example, I have no business doing graphic design. I’ve even begun delegating tasks that I’m good at but simply no longer have time for, like generating PR.

I try to do the same in my personal life. I also like to use grocery delivery services because I could make more money in the two hours I spend going to the grocery store. I’m also considering delegating cleaning of my apartment. That’s time I could be spending doing things that move my business forward.

One of the exercises I have my clients do is to begin ruthlessly assessing whether or not certain tasks or actions are the best use of their time. Once they do this, they either start delegating or start saying no more often. Either way, they usually end up making more money and have more peace of mind.

Tip #5 Set clear boundaries with other people

One of the biggest challenges I see for my clients is how they are often twisting themselves into a pretzel for other people while clearly neglecting themselves. This includes clients and people in their personal lives.

The problem isn’t the clients or the family. The problem is usually the fact that business owners don’t set proper boundaries. For example, just because a client sent you an email with a request now doesn’t mean you need to drop everything and cater to them. They can wait until you’re available.

Again, this seems counterintuitive, but it does make you more money. In respecting yourself, others respect you too. This means they will provide less headaches. It also means you will have the time you need to move your business forward.

Final Thoughts

The reality is that not having time to work on your business is usually not true. More often than not, you can find time. Start with these suggestions and notice how much more time you actually have.

The post 5 Ways to Find Time for Your Business appeared first on KillerStartups.

5 Signals for Investing in Crowdfunded Startups 28 Aug 2019, 7:44 pm

Suddenly it’s all the rage for accredited investors to make lots of tiny bets instead of one or two big ones. And it’s platforms that let people make these very early investments in startups, such as SeedInvest that are powering this new trend.  

But are these good bets? Or would you be just as wise to take your cash and put it on “red” at a casino? No doubt, startup investing is risky and the success to failure ratio of brand new companies still predicts failure all too often.  That said, there are certain things savvy investors know to look at that can help improve these odds. Here we’ll have a look at five of the most important.

Revenues

It is true that many startups take a while to get to a marketable product particularly if they are going after a problem that needs some hard technology solutions. When looking at investing however nothing beats solid revenues. You can make some amazing technology that no one really wants or where there is no business case. Google glasses looked amazing, broke news around the world but for a wide array of reasons, the product did not sell. 

Story revenues from a number of customers show some elements of product fit and repeatability of the sales process. People want the product and are willing to pay for it. You should look for signs within that such as are those customers increasing their purchase dollar sums, are they consistent. 

Are those revenues growing at a pace that you would expect for a company at that stage in the corporate lifecycle? You would expect revenues to be going up and to the right. If they are not, unless you fully understand why and can justify the reason, you should reconsider placing a bet. 

Founder track record

Does the founder have a strong track record? One big factor is had the founder had a successful exit before. Running a business is hard and seeing it through to a successful conclusion is even harder. 

Even if you do not see this as a factor for success many traditional VCs do. If the startup you are investing in is going to look for investment from traditional investors then they will look for this, not having this checkbox should be something you think about when making that investment decision. 

Institutional investors 

No one wants to be a sheep but there is wisdom in the crowd, especially if those other investors are professional investors. Look to invest in startups where other professional investors have already made an investment even if it is a small one. It is hard to decide which investment to take a position in. If you are lucky enough to have the opportunity to invest in a startup that has already received money from a professional investor then that is something you should think about. Had someone already done the due diligence, vetted thought the technology and the customer contracts, and made sure that the entrepreneur’s story really ads up?  

Patents

Is there defensible intellectual property underlying your chosen startup. It is always an advantage if there is a great technology team behind a new company. The ability to work to create patentable technology is something you should look for. If they are successful they will have competitors and how will they keep their advantage. 

Valuable Customers / Users

Beyond revenue who the customers are counts. Unless you are planning to be Facebook with billions of users, it is hard to make money with users with limited resources. Ten paying fortune 500 customers is better than one hundred thousand kids in emerging countries using an app for free. 

I spoke to Commerce.AI CEO Andy Pandharikar has successfully raised one round on Seedinvest which was 700% oversubscribed and is currently raising a second round that is now likewise over oversubscribed to ask what key signals he felt investors were looking for. 

Andy said, “Commerce.AI is building a billion-dollar company. Part of our mission is to democratize artificial intelligence. We originally planned to raise an initial $100,000 on the platform a year ago. The opportunity was 700 percent oversubscribed. We literally had to turn down investors. This funding helped us grow our company while progressing our mission.”

The feedback we are getting from investors in our current round is that the success in growth from this round to the last is driving their interest in investing. Since the last round, we have had 890 percent growth in revenue and achieved great customer success. We have signed paid deals with large enterprise brands such as Cisco, Chanel, Netgear, Coca Cola, Midea, USPS, and SC Johnson.”

Final Take

While not every company is going to take off as Commerce.AI has, there are lots of opportunities to find winners. The key to taking nice winnings off the table is to be shrewd, cautious, and do your homework. By digging into the five major signals above, and making sure you’re seeing green lights all the way down, you’ll be able to reduce risk and increase your chances of your investment producing big winnings.

The post 5 Signals for Investing in Crowdfunded Startups appeared first on KillerStartups.

How to Be Productive During Your Commute 27 Aug 2019, 6:45 am

I don’t know about you, but I find that there’s never enough time to do everything I’d like to do. For instance, I love to travel, craft, sew, go for walks, and do other fun activities. But it’s not easy to fit all of these things into my schedule. It’s not always easy to be productive during your commute each morning.

Obviously, I try to be the most productive I can at all times so I can get more work done. This helps me fit as many leisure activities into my schedule as possible.

If you are trying to be more productive also there are some ways you can that not everyone thinks of. For instance, you could be productive during your commute.

Now that I work at home, I personally don’t commute each day. But if you do, use that time wisely. Utilizing it to be more productive during your commute will give you more fun time with family or friends later.

Work on Your Task List

Rather than wasting time as you commute to and from work, or other places, use that time productively instead. One of the things you could do during that time is to work on your task list.

By using this time to add, rearrange, and delete things from your “to do” list, you’ll free up valuable time. You can also use the time to prioritize what you have to do for the day.

Once you get to work you’ll be ahead of the game. Instead of spending time figuring out what to do first you can get right to work. This may provide you with extra time to work on more complex projects increasing your efficiency.

Create Meeting Agendas

Something else you could do during your commute is to create meeting agendas. As you probably know, meeting agendas are a great way to ensure meetings run smoothly.

As discussion drifts away from topics at hand, agendas put attendees back on course. They also ensure no important topics get passed over.

Anyone who misses the meeting can review the agenda for a general idea of what was discussed. This is another benefit of meeting agendas that demonstrate their importance.

Use your commute time to be productive and create meeting agendas for your upcoming meetings.

Schedule Meetings

Bringing up meeting agendas reminds me that you can also schedule meetings during your commute. This lets you better use the time you might otherwise be simply wasting.

When your calendar is online you can access it anywhere. This lets you be productive during your commute and schedule work meetings. In addition, if you have a shared office calendar, it makes this task even easier and more efficient.

Organize Your Calendar

While you sit idle in a bus, train, or subway car, why not be productive? During your commute you might as well get organized and a good place to start is with your calendar.

Make Appointments

If you have appointments that need to be added to your calendar, use travel time to get it done. That way you don’t miss any that are important to you both personally and professionally.

Additionally, you’ll be more productive later by better using what would have been wasted time.

Review Your Calendar

Furthermore, while you sit you can review your calendar for the day’s events. Taking the time to look ahead for the day helps you get where you need to be on time. Without reviewing your calendar you run the risk of starting the day behind schedule.

As an example, what if you have an early morning meeting you forgot about? After getting to work barely on time, or a teensy bit late, you now have to scramble.

But reviewing your calendar during your commute, on the other hand, prepares you for the day.

Block Time for Work Tasks

Blocking time for work tasks is another way to be productive during your commute. It helps you take control of your time so you can get more done. Also, if you use a shared office calendar, it keeps others from scheduling meetings when your time is tight.

If you have large, complicated projects on your horizon, make sure you schedule accordingly. Make appointments with yourself by blocking time out of your schedule. This keeps you, from overbooking your calendar.

Listen to a Podcast

Podcast movement

Need an option for a way to be productive during your commute while driving? Try listening to a podcast. It’s a good way to gain the motivation you need to get through the week or even just that day.

Use your phone, tablet, or other electronic device to listen and gain inspiration. Spend the time learning about organization, leadership, productivity, and many other things that you find interesting. You may gain valuable insight that will encourage you and spark your creativity.

Learn Something New

Another way to not waste time during your commute is to learn something new. The more you understand about the different applications you use the better you can use them. It will also help you to learn hacks and shortcuts that save you time.

One idea you could try is to learn more about your calendar app. Rather than repeating the same motions every time you create a calendar event, learn about ways to do it faster. Refresh your memory about things you may not use often and could have forgotten.

Check Your Messages

A great way to be productive, as an alternative to doing nothing, is to check your messages. Check your cell phone for texts and voicemails. Dial into your work landline and listen to messages that may have been left on your desk phone.

Or course, depending on the time of day, it may or may not be too early to return phone calls. But it’s entirely possible that you could answer some text messages.

You could also read and respond to your emails during travel time to and from work. This helps you be a better manager of your time and gives you a jump start on your day.

Post to Social Media

better social media

To get as much out of your work day as possible, schedule your social media during your commute. There are social media apps that you can use on your phone to post social media. This lets you get that task out of the way so once you’re at work you can do other things.

Put on Your Thinking Cap

While on your way to or from work you could use the time to think and brainstorm. Furthermore, quiet time during a commute may make it easier to brainstorm than at work in a busy office.

For instance, if you are putting together a presentation, use the time to research and plan. Or, if you need to write an article, but have no idea what to write about, brainstorm some topics.

Play Some Music

Although some people wouldn’t necessarily consider listening to music as productive, it can be motivational. Listening to something that pumps you up and makes you feel energized can improve productivity after you arrive at work.

What’s more, music can lower your stress levels so you are ready to face whatever happens at work that day.

Let’s face it. Commutes can be long, tiring, and boring to say the least. But, as you can see, you don’t have to suffer through the boredom. Instead try some of these ways to be productive during your commute and get more done in your day.

The post How to Be Productive During Your Commute appeared first on KillerStartups.

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