Stop saying YES when you mean NO!

Successful people become masters of time and the management of it.  In order to master time, learning to say NO becomes critical.  Learn to say NO to certain meetings, appointments, tasks, activities, friends, etc.

You sacrifice what you want now to get what you want later.

It’ll be worth it.

7 Tips to CRUSHING Your Goals

Francis Bacon said “If we are to achieve things never before accomplished we must employ methods never before attempted.”  If you have yet to start focusing on your goals, use this as your warning!  Start now.  

1) Patience – Crawl.  Walk.  Run.
The natural progression takes time, self-discipline, and tenacity.  If you stress over the “easier” goals, your expectation of crushing the difficult goals with road blocks and challenges go out the window!

2) Define goal purpose. 
Everyone sets goals.  Most people set them and forget about them.  Make absolutely sure that your goals are things you want to wake up for.  Goals that are synced with your purpose are easier to wake up for and easier to accomplish.  I’ll use a quote to help with my point:  “Work with purpose is passion.  Work without purpose is punishment.” -Jillian Michaels 

3) Document! 
Everyone I speak to about setting goals, we talk about journaling and documenting progress.  Some goals take 3,6,12,16 months to accomplish.  When you look back on Month 6, you should be able to see some sort of progress.  Something has to show the work you have done until today.  If you have goals of achieving weight-loss, pictures every week will help you document your goal and actually see results along the way.  Seeing your documented results will keep you determined and motivated every step of the way.

4) Short-term goals MUST support Long-term goals. 
Why does this matter?  If your short-term goals don’t ultimately support your long-term goal, it’s time to re-evaluate.  These goals should be tied together from the top down to achieve the result you are aiming for.  Use an app, a worksheet, something to track your goals and your progress.  Here is an example of a Goal Sheet you can use starting today:

Long Term Goal:  This is something that is at least one year or longer out.  One thing.  
Short Term Goal:  Now break down the long-term goal into short-term mini goals.  What do you need to cross off this list to get closer to the One Thing above.  These should be 5-6 items that can be achieved within the next 3/6/9 months.
Short Term Goal Breakdown:  Now let’s break down each one of those 5-6 items into the following list – (You should have these 5 steps done for each one of your short term goals):

*Specific:  Make sure your goal is as specific as possible.  The clearer the defined goal, the easier the process will be.
*Measurable:  How do we measure this goal and document the progress?  How will you be held accountable to achieve this goal?
*Achievement:   How do you achieve this goal?  What steps do you need to take to make progress towards achievement?
*Realistic:  Is the goal realistic to your life?  Do you have the drive to accomplish this goal?
*Timely:  What is the time frame to accomplish this goal?  How will you be kept accountable?

This exercise will help specify and define your overall goals into smaller, more achievable steps.

Daily Goal Breakdown:  Now list daily goals into your daily checklist.  There will always be checklist items that have nothing to do with your goal.  That is completely normal, whereas, you are still expected to live a normal life while you work towards specific goals.  If you go too many days where the majority of your list is not geared towards the larger goal at hand, you need to pause and reflect.

Set.  Achieve.  Repeat.

5) Excuses.  Excuses.  
The more excuses you have the harder your goal becomes.  The longer you procrastinate, the harder your goal becomes. Anything that deters you from accomplishing your daily task list will inevitability push your goal farther out.  You can’t slow down or justify excuses to yourself.  

6) Failure.  Lessons.  Change.  
If you were afraid of failure, you would not be this far into this article.  I wish I could tell you that you won’t fail and everything is going to work out perfectly.  However, I can’t.  I won’t.  You will fail.  More than once.  Then again after that.  If failure was detrimental  there would be no companies trying to change the world.  Failure is the first step to success.  Fail, learn from it, change (or better yet, improve!) and re-do.  It becomes a cycle.  So many people give up or crawl into depression after failure that they never learn the lesson.  The lesson is the most valuable part of your failure.  Without the lesson, there is no progress… there is no change.  

7) Don’t give up.  Ever. 
You know when you try and explain things that explain themselves…. this is one of those moments.  Here is a quote to help: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” 

5 Fitness Must Do’s if You Have a Desk Job

Is your office chair destroying your back, your posture, and your health?  Declare war on your office chair! 

When you think of a job in America, you automatically think of a 9 to 5 sitting at your desk for an entire day. Whether you like it or not, you are stuck to that desk trying to get all your tasks done. That stagnant seated position is doing a number on your back. You also aren’t getting the adequate exercise you need during the week because of your desk job. 

Here are 5 easy tricks to improve your way of life and remind yourself that taking care of your body is just as important as your desk job!

1. Take a break.  
Take breaks every 30-45 minutes! Get up and walk around the office. Maybe take a step outside and catch some air? Being in a seated position = your hips are in a flexed position, which = tightness in the hip flexor muscles. These muscles include the rectus femoris, sartorius, and the iliopsoas. Tightness in these hip flexor muscles can lead to many complications such as low back and hip pain.

2.  Support your spine.
Put a rolled up towel behind your low back. You have a natural curve in your spine when you reach the lumbar region. Desk chairs are not made to support your back. By putting a towel roll behind your low back, you are able to apply some extra support to your spine and keep it a neutral position while being seated.

3.  Do you play tennis?  Steal a ball for the office. 
Keep a tennis ball or a lacrosse ball nearby at all times! If you every feel a knot forming in a muscle or any stiffness in a certain area, you can easily get up and roll out that area by either using a wall or the floor. You can use the tennis ball or lacrosse ball as a device to help get deep into the muscles and eliminate any knots you may be having.  This will bring instant relief!

4.  Keep stretching, you will thank us. 
It’s as simple as it sounds. A few neck stretches every hour or so and keep your muscles loose. Think about the strain you are putting on your body by just staying in the same position most of the day.  A few stretches here and there will make the worlds difference and your body will thank you!


5.  Posture is everything.  
Always always always keep your posture in your mind. Try to always sit up as straight as you can while typing. This is the number one issue I see with people who have desk jobs. Their posture is horrible. Your shoulders start rounding in, you form a hunch in your upper back, and your neck is forward. Keep your shoulder blades back and down. Keep your neck in line with your spine. You want a straight line down from your neck to your low back.

If you get a yardstick and put it form your head to your back, you would want all areas of your body closest to the yardstick, to be touching the yardstick.

Meher Manouki is a guest blogger for fred.tips. Meher is a personal trainer based in Los Angeles. You may contact him on Instagram @ultrafitnessbymeher.

 

7 Things Standing in the Way of Your Entrepreneurial Success

If someone asked you where you see yourself 10 years from now, do you stare back blankly or do you have a plan for success?

1) Love your success?
Are you in love with being a success? Is success the only thing on your mind every day and every night? You say yes because you want the lifestyle of the successful. Are you willing to put in the work of the successful? If this isn’t what you breath and live, this isn’t what will make you successful. In turn, it is standing in the way of your success.

Take away: If you don’t love it, you will only put in 50% of the effort required to achieve 100% results. At 50% effort, you might be better off helping someone else build their dreams of success.

2) You don’t need other’s approval.
You stand in the way of your own success every time you make decisions that are aimed to please others.  I am reminded of the famous quote by Winston Churchill “You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks”.

Take away: Your decisions have to be based on your success. You will ultimately be the person to pay for your own decisions. The more you worry about what others will think of your decisions, the more you will delay the inevitable success you are going to enjoy.

3) Excuses, excuses.
Your success is halted by your excuses. Do any of these sound familiar?
“Sorry, I can’t today”
“I don’t have time”
“I am too tired”
“I don’t know what to do next”
“I don’t have the resources”
“I don’t know where to start”

Take away: If it is important to you, you will find a way. The secret here is to want it bad enough.

work-hard-to-success

4) Time, stop wasting it.
Everyone who chases success at one point or another has to stop wasting time. How guilty are you when it comes to these time hogs:
a) Needless drama around you.
b) Comparison between you and your next door neighbor with the new BMW.
c) Living in the past with mistakes made and water under the bridge.
d) By allowing others to use and manipulate you.
e) The perfect time will never come. Its now.
f) Lack of appreciation and gratitude towards you.

Take away: Most people value two things when it comes to their business lives: Time & Money. In the case of the startup, time is the one thing that will lead or break your success. Make sure you know exactly what you are spending your time on.

5) Private life vs. Work life.
Everyone always talks about balance and keeping a healthy distance between the two. They are not separate. The longer you try to keep them separate the longer you will prolong your success. Everything you do in your personal life should somehow fit into your goal for your business life. Success comes from the collection of the roles you play: Entrepreneur, husband, wife, friend, lover, client, boss, leader, mentor, etc.

Take away: I was recently at a Hall of Fame induction ceremony for a good friend of mine and was sitting at a table with a bunch of other people who were also friends of other inductees. The person next to me started talking to me about business and what I do…. Naturally, I asked him what he does. He had a very interesting business he had just started but was unable to provide me with a business card. So he took my phone, and added himself as a contact in my phone. You never know when or where you will meet the next person who will drive your success. Be prepared!

6) Write ’em down.
Do you have a place where you jot down your goals? Are they broken up into Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Yearly, 5-Year Goals? If not, here is your chance. When you just think about a goal the chances of that thought disappearing is very high. Once on paper, it has a life of its own. You can re-visit it, re-read it, move it, re-write it, etc. You don’t have to do it all in one sitting. It can be a compilation of goals put together over time to ultimately help you reach your level of success.

Take away: There is something special about seeing your own goals for success written down in your own handwriting. There is something even more special about putting a check-mark next to something that you wrote down 6 months ago and achieved today! Your success is counting on you writing it down!

7) Ask for help, sissy.
I love quotes. I feel like they do the thinking for me when I can’t put the right words in the right thoughts at the right time. Cesar Chavez said it best “You are never strong enough that you don’t need help”. Your success might be dependent on that one person… when you don’t ask, the answer is always no.

Take away: Ask for help. Don’t expect handouts or financial help, but help that will drive your success. It can be a friend, a co-worker, a parent, a mentor (Read about finding the right mentor HERE)

Mentorship: 8 Tips on Finding the Right Mentor

This mentorship post is a continuation of my series on young entrepreneurs.  If you haven’t read Part 1 & Part 2, click here:  Where to start as a young entrepreneur – Part 1 and 12 Startup tips for a young entrepreneur – Part 2

Mentorship is the oldest form of education.  As a young entrepreneur, you need a mentor to take you to the next level.

Why do you need a mentor?
Mentorship is the oldest form of education.  As a young entrepreneur, you need a mentor to take you to the next level. The mentor of your choosing has one thing that you still don’t. Experience. A good mentor can challenge you to think thoughts that might have never occurred to you before.

A good mentor has a network of professionals and friends who you might stand to benefit from. In the worst scenario, a mentor can act as your personal cheerleader and coach. They can provide praise and clap for you when nobody else will. The old quote servers true here: “Pay close attention to people who don’t clap when you win”

Common mistakes young entrepreneurs make when seeking mentorship:
1) The mentor will find me.
2) I have to ask him/her out to be my mentor.
3) My mentor will buy me lunch / coffee / food / gifts because they already made it.
4) Mentorship isn’t something you get; it’s something you do.
5) The first mentor I meet has to be my mentor!

1) Find someone you look up to.
Mentorship is always about the person and not about the money or the lifestyle. I know so many people who try to leech on to take advantage of “perks” that the mentor has worked a lifetime to achieve. Your mentor should have qualities as a person that you feel are valuable to you and you can learn from. Ask questions of yourself that you feel your mentor should guide you with. Here are a few samples:
a) What do I need to learn from my mentor?
b) How often would I like to meet with my mentor?
c) What are my weakest points that my mentor can work with me on?
d) What am I really good at that my mentor can benefit from?

2) Study your new mentor.
Take the time to study your mentor. Ask questions that will help you with understanding how they do things. Understand everything you can about how they conduct business and the process they use for business transactions. By transaction, it could be a phone call, an actual sale, a networking event, a new agreement, etc. If they have a blog, or a website that they journal in, make sure you read it and understand everything before you meet with them and ask questions.  Nothing shows your preparedness level more than asking a question that your mentor just recently wrote a blog about.  Do your homework to avoid the embarrassment.

Mentorship Quote

3) Lifeguard.
Your mentor is not your lifeguard. Don’t go swimming into $120,000 in debt then call your mentor for advice. If they weren’t a part of getting you in the hole, the expectation can’t be for them to get you out of the hole. Go ahead, ask for advice, but keep the expectation at advice and not a life line.  The value of a mentor will keep you out of the dangers of rising waters; granted, you want to be kept out.

4) Let the relationship grow.
Look for someone who you feel comfortable with and can relate to. You want a mentor who can easily answer an e-mail or answer a text message without treating you like an interruption of their time. Your comfort level should include the ability to sit at a coffee shop or at a lunch date with your mentor and not feel intimidated or belittled. Your ability to get comfortable with your mentor will actually take the pressure off the mentor to be open and candid with you.  Keep watering the relationship with your mentor.  The closer you become to your mentor the more likely they are to bring you into their circle.

5) Feedback.
Your expectation should be for your mentor to be brutally honest with you. Most mentors are successful entrepreneurs who run their own network of businesses. They don’t have the time to sit back and sugar coat every piece of advice they give you. I recently had a mentor of mine look at a new pricing structure I have been working on for my company; his response to my e-mail was “work harder…” – I don’t need anything more from him than to send me back to my drawing board to make it better. Of course, when we do our meeting, he will give me more feedback but the expectation is for me to work harder to be ready for that meeting so I don’t waste his time.

6) Take. Give, Give, Give.
Most mentors will be “repaid” for their mentorship by your success. They want nothing more than to see you make it. Just because mentors know how to be humble doesn’t mean you are off the hook! Find ways to give. Find ways to add value.  Sometimes you can spring for lunch, sometimes you can buy coffee. If you actually spend the time to get to know your mentor (read tip #2), you should have a good idea of how or what you can do to provide value. Gratitude is key.

7) Commitment.
Be mentor worthy. If you pickup nothing more, pickup that one piece.  Be mentor worthy.  Anyone willing to help you and spend time with you wants to make sure they spend their time wisely. I have been stuck in situations before where I give advice to someone and they clearly go the opposite direction, no problem.  However, don’t come back and ask for more advice for the road that you traveled and expect me to change my advice up to fit into your decision. Don’t waste anyone’s time if you aren’t ready to be mentored.

8) There can be only one.
Once you land that all important mentor, what do you do? Now get another one! You aren’t limited to any number of mentors. If you do your homework and are really honest with yourself, this portion becomes easier. If you know your shortcomings, it is easy to utilize mentors in every aspect of what you are trying to achieve. Look at the big picture… a “Board of Directors” is actually a board of mentors for the organization they serve.

There is no right or wrong time to get a mentor.  My advice to you, is to get one now.  It is the single most important thing you can do to help your business grow.

This is a good read when it comes to making mentors work for you:

12 Startup Tips for a Young Entrepreneur – Part 2

This is a continuation of my series on young entrepreneurs.  If you haven’t read Part 1, click here:  Where to start as a young entrepreneur – Part 1

Entrepreneur

Founding a startup as a young entrepreneur gets difficult if you don’t know where you are going.  This guide will help you get started.

In the last week, I have had several people ask me for a list of requirements that I felt were important.  I complied a list, and here it is in no particular order:  

1. Focus.  Refocus.  Focus again.  
When building your entrepreneur empire, your thoughts are always to jump at every opportunity that comes your way.  Every opportunity you hear about, you see dollar signs.  Don’t let false hope and false dollar signs derail you from your business goal.  The more time you spend investigating each opportunity, the more time you have to spend to get the train back on track, the more time you lost focusing on your business.  Do one thing and do it well.  Its better to be 100% proficient on one thing vs. being 10% proficient on 10 things.  Most failed startups are the direct result of spreading too thin and being greedy when it comes to opportunities.

2. Purpose, not money.  
Simple answer?  Add value.  Find ways to give and to add value to peoples lives.  The money will come once you become a value to someone.  Sit down and truly evaluate your ability to add value and what you can offer to clients that others can’t.  If you are a personal trainer, what sets you apart from the other 102,302 trainers living in your area?  What do you do better?  Put yourself in the client’s shoe… why would I hire myself to train me?  Find the value… Warren Buffet says “You should focus on building a customer base, reputation, recognition, and loyalty.  Money follows after.” 

3. Be frugal. 

Remember that $600 chair you saw at Office Depot?  With the lumbar support and mesh backing so you don’t sweat on a hot summer day… Yeah, that one.  DON’T BUY IT!  You don’t need office space, you don’t need a brand new laptop, you don’t need a fancy chair.  All of the above can be accomplished at a Starbucks with a pair of earphones.  You want your cash to be in your account for as long as possible.  Watch every dollar and triple check every expense.  Will this expense help your business get to the next level?  If the answer is maybe, the answer is no.

4. Pitch.
Sometimes known as an “elevator pitch” – logic:  If you were an entrepreneur in an elevator, and a high level CEO walks in, you have until he gets off the elevator to convince him/her to purchase your product or to convert to your services.  What would you tell him/her?  You have about 25-30 seconds to give them your pitch and convince them that you are IT!  Work on this, practice this, try it in front of a mirror, work on it some more.  Yours took 31 seconds?  That took too long.  Work again.

I have looked around for some time and found this website to be the most detailed with helping examples to help put your entrepreneur pitch together: Creating an Elevator Pitch

5. Don’t flatter yourself.
Make sure you can deliver what you promise.  Don’t fall victim to your own false promises.  Don’t exaggerate the truth or your previous accomplishments.  There is always a way for people to find out.  More times than not, they find out and your reputation goes down the drain.  Your reputation is so much more important than the cash in your wallet.  Guard it with everything you have!

6. Hold yourself true to your brand.
Remember the old commercial for FedEx?  Absolutely, positively by 11am.  11:01am would be unacceptable.  Whatever you promise, you have to work day and night to make sure you deliver on time.  Your brand reputation is riding on your ability to make promises and deliver promises.

 

Entrepreneur 12 tips

7. Build relationships.
You have to do the foot work.  Sitting behind your Social media persona and posting about how wonderful you are will only get you so far.  If you want people to buy your product, or buy into your services you need to go to them and preach to them.  The more relationships you build, the more people you have out there who are vouching for you.  The more people who vouch for you, the more opportunities will arise from your relationships.   The trick here is to build your network of relationships before you actually need it.

You can read more on building relationships here:  Secrets to Business Relationships


8. 3’s a crowd in the kitchen.
A lot of entrepreneur sites recommend finding a co-founder to start a business with.  There are many benefits to this theory including splitting responsibilities and costs.  With 2 or 3 of you, it is easier to grow and reach more people in less time.  My rule of thumb is that if you have 3 cooks in the kitchen, somewhere, sometime, the food isn’t going to be perfect.  Also, remember $100 profit, split into 3 pockets is $33 per person.  

9. Make sure it makes cents.

I spoke to someone this morning who spent $300 a month marketing his brand on Facebook.  He has a small business in Pasadena, Ca; he budgeted $300 / month using Facebook ads.  The problem?  He marketed his company to a nationwide audience. 

He has a small family owned coffee shop.  Why would anyone drive from Washington to drink coffee in Pasadena?  What if you are driving through town?  Then your radius marketing of 5 miles will nail them!  Free advertising from yelp! is more valuable in this case than $300 a month from Facebook.  Make sure you know where you are spending your money and what the return on your money is.  If you spend $300 a month on advertising, how many cups of coffee do you need to sell to break even?  Is your goal to break even or just bring people in the doors and hope they become lifelong friends?

10. Take advice, but not that advice.
The old saying “Are you the smartest guy in the room?  If so, you are in the wrong room” comes true again.  While you are new, you have to surround yourself with people who have been there and done that before.  You need people to give you advice, to bounce ideas off of, to help proofread information, to help plan next step goals, etc.  You need people.  As you start to get better, you will realize that the more you do, the more success you find, the more people line up to give you free advice.  I like to listen to all advice because I never know what I’m going to love.  I take everything with a grain of salt and perform my own analysis on the advice.  Sometimes, it’s brilliant!  Other times, it’s trash!  My brain does the processing, but my gut is what leads me. 

11. Get another job.
Welcome to entrepreneurship!  As a young entrepreneur you should sit back, relax, and wait for the money to come rolling in!  WRONG!  You have expenses… business expenses, personal expenses, etc.  The money has to come from somewhere to help ends meet until your startup matures.  You need a job to help pay for your startup.  I’m not telling you to go work somewhere just to waste some time and bring home a paycheck.  I want you to strategically go work somewhere that will help your startup grow:
1.  Learn how others are marketing in your industry.
2.  Learn how much they charge.
3.  Learn how they maintain relationships.
4.  Learn what types of relationships they abandon.
 

The more you can learn, the less mistakes you will make on your own dime.  The best part about this model is that someone else is paying you to learn these lessons through their business.  

The downside:  Make sure you don’t get so focused on your job that you forget to focus on your business.  You need to find a happy balance between the two for this to work.  At the end of the day, you are making a honest wage and must pull your weight to keep your job.

12. Feedback.
The customer is NOT always right, and neither are you!  I recently had one of my top 5 clients decide to leave us and join a partnership with another IT company who was open 24/7/365.  In my last call with them, we went over all the access passwords and server locations.

In order to turn a negative into a positive, I asked them to send me a list of things that they felt we fell short on.  The immediate response I received was that they didn’t want to throw mud back and forth between us.  I lost my cool a little bit and replied with a harsh “I understand, but I would love to know what ways I can take care of my existing clients better” – the next morning, I had a list of 12 things they felt we could have done better in our time together.  Some of them were absurd, but others were so on point that we changed our internal procedure the very next day.  Sometimes feedback is brutal, but it’s the only way to get better.

Want more tips?  How about 6 tools every entrepreneur should use in their business?  

Where to Start as a Young Entrepreneur – Part 1

I got a random text message from someone I had crossed paths with a few years back… It was so random that I had to pull the “Sorry, new phone.. who’s this?” – introductions aside, he got straight to the point and asked if I would be willing to listen to him and his business ideas.  Me listening turned into a 3 hour conversation on launching his business. 

In the next 3 days, two more people called me for similar type conversations.  

I figure if I get 3 calls in a matter of 3 days, there has to be more people looking for this information, (aha! moment) I will document this journey with my 3 new entrepreneurs so everyone can benefit from our conversations.  

We spoke about:  

1. Passion.
How in love are you with your business idea?  How much time do you spend thinking about it?  How much true passion do you have for that line of work?  (Queue Confucius)  “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” 

Picture this:  You’ve had a very rough week but a very productive week.  You busted your ass all week and closed some major sales and made some nice money.  It’s now Friday afternoon at 2pm, are you exhausted from your work week?  Are you tired and ready to go to a bar to drink with the guys?  Did you just post TGIF on your Facebook page?  Or do you keep chugging along to finish the week off even stronger?  I know it’s very superficial, but understand the concept and not the example.  

So if I have Passion, I can make it as an entrepreneur?  No.  You need more.  Keep reading.  

2.  Work.
We are all lazy.  I’ll say it again.  We are all lazy.  Give us all a way to do the least amount of work, while earning as much money as possible…. This model will ensure your failure as an entrepreneur.  Every day, every time.  

Let’s break it down a little more.  How much work is enough?  How much do I need to work?  Most successful entrepreneurs will tell you that if you aren’t hitting the 60 hours a week mark, you aren’t working hard enough. One of my favorite bloggers, Neil Patel openly states that he works 60 to 80 hours a week.

We talk about putting in the work; everyone is always game.  Everyone always says I am willing to put in the work… Nobody imagines how much work 60 to 80 hours a week is until they do it for a week.  Still wondering why entrepreneurs are such a special breed of people? 

Entrepreneurs are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week. -Lori Greiner


3.  Brainstorm.

Grab your notebook and jot down all of your thoughts on your new business.  Jot down ideas, opportunities, strengths, weaknesses, threats, competition, everything.  

Sketch visuals of your website.  How will it look?  Where will the information go?  How will it flow?  What type of content will you have on the front page?  How will people contact you?  What do you want them to know about you?  

This should be long; it should be a work in progress.  I keep a notebook by my bed incase I have a brilliant moment at 3am while I am feeding milk to my 1-year-old.  

The secret to writing notes down is that there is no right or wrong.  Just write, jot, draw, and sketch.  When you review later, you can always cross things out or move things to new sections.  The rule is, there are no rules.  Develop a system that works for you.  

4.  Website.
You need a .com for your business.  I know you can buy a .net, .tv, .rocks, etc.  You need a .com.  Instant credibility.  

Lately, I have been recommending to everyone to go look through thousands of WordPress Templates online and find one that fits the model they liked during the Brainstorm stage.  Find one that flows like you had envisioned.  Can’t find one that works?  That means you lied during the Work stage.  Put in the work, you’ll find it.

Themes are fairly inexpensive and are great for keeping costs down while creating a presence online.  Why is an online presence necessary?  Read this:  6 Reasons Why Your Small Business NEEDS a Website

5.  Brand-Awareness.
Everyone’s favorite section.  Go create your social media pages.  Go! 

Which platform works for your business? 

Google+: 2,500 Million users
Facebook:  1,590 Million users
Tumblr:  555 Million users
Instagram:  400 Million users
Twitter:  320 Million users
Snapchat:  200 Million users
Pinterest:  100 Million users
LinkedIn:  100 Million users 

Protip:  Don’t use one of those account linkage things that allows you to post on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at the same time.  If a client is looking at your social media pages to validate you as a business, seeing the same post across all platforms looks lazy and unplanned.  

Reminder:  Be passionate about your work, but not putting in the work will turn your passion into your work.  

Related Article:  6 Must Have Tools to Start Your Startup

4 Ways to Make a Good Logo a GREAT Logo

What makes a great logo? If I had to answer this question in one word, my answer would be: Simplicity, and you will notice how many times that word comes up today. However, just that one word is an extremely vague answer, so let’s go into some detail to clarify exactly what goes into a great logo.

1. Simple.

Let’s continue off with the idea of simplicity. A logo should be easy to recognize and also appealing to the eyes. If your logo has crazy artwork and designs, whether it be in many different colors or not, it becomes hard to look at. Even more so, it becomes hard to recognize if you were to see it a few weeks later. A simple logo is not only pleasing to look at but will also be easy to remember as well. Just remember, when designing a logo memorability and simplicity go hand-in-hand.

Here is a great example of a company moving towards a simpler logo design.

Starbucks 1971

1971

Starbucks 2015

2015

2. Timeless.

Another aspect of making a good logo should be its effectiveness to last through the years. That being said, this does not mean that there should never be changes or updates made to your logo. Times change after all, what was appealing to the people in the 1950’s is not the same as what appeals to people now. When I was first getting into design, I saw numerous blogs with the same idea of timelessness and all the blogs I read had a picture of the Pepsi logo throughout the years next to ONE Coca-Cola logo that supposedly hadn’t changed since 1985. This is simply untrue. Both companies made changes towards simplicity and memorability, which resulted in the effectiveness of their logos throughout the years. The actual chart comparing Coca-Cola and Pepsi can be found here.

3. Functional.

In order for your logo to be functional in any aspect you choose to use it in, then it must be SIMPLE. Yes, that word again. Adding shadow or gradient effects may look great on the background you are working on, but how will it work once moved to a different setting? Your logo should have the ability to swap between white and black backgrounds, be printed on T-shirts or made into stickers with no extra hassle. A functional logo should be one that is capable of being promoted in any which way you choose.

4. Communication.

Your logo should be a representation of your company. However, do not confuse that statement as an invitation to be cliché. Being able to differentiate the two will help you create an effective logo. Lastly, your logo should be marketable not in just one area or targeted audience but everywhere, while still being appropriate.

Understanding the difference between these four things while still being able to incorporate them into your design will be the deciding factor between a good logo and a GREAT logo.

Google’s Inbox Takes the “Ail” Out of Email

Inbox

Can you remember the feeling of what it’s like to have ZERO unread emails?

Neither can I. I want to say it’s a cross between relief and triumph, but we’ll never really know. Why? Because emails are no different from the zombie apocalypse in Woodbury, Georgia—they just never stop coming.

However, unlike our friends Rick and Daryl, we have the almighty Google to help us manage the madness. (Sorry, guys. Maybe a self-driving, anti-zombie combat vehicle equipped with unlimited ammo will disrupt the market soon.)

Enter Inbox. This past Wednesday, the Googs (is it OK if I called you that?) unveiled their innovative solution to help manage and organize users’ emails more effectively.

Too busy to read emails? Inbox does the dirty work for you.  
Available on iOS, Android, as well as on desktop Web browsers, Inbox analyzes the contents within each email and categorizes them into seven basic categories: Travel, Finance, Purchases, Updates, Promos, and Social. No need anymore to search through hundreds of emails to find that one promo code to your favorite store you received eight months ago, or that cute picture of your baby niece your sister sent you last year. All your similar emails are now bundled up into one place for simple and time-efficient reference.

Staying true to its roots – a more sophisticated Search function
Email search just got better. For instance, you forgot to save your client, Adam’s, phone number when he emailed it to you a few months ago. By doing a quick search for “Adam’s Number,” Inbox pulls up any 7-digit number attributed to the name “Adam,” even if the word “phone” was never mentioned in the email.

You can also create quick reminders or pull up recent contacts with a tap of a button, making composing a message easier than ever.

Snooze, and don’t lose
It wouldn’t be a Google product if they didn’t introduce something new and innovative to the world, right? You can now snooze, pin, or sweep away messages, depending on how you feel at the moment and the urgency of the email. By snoozing a message, Inbox will notify you of your email at a more convenient time—putting an end to “buried items” that get pushed down below the influx of daily emails until you finally get around to reading it four months later.

Pinning allows you to revisit an email even after you have read it, because sometimes you just need to read it again. And again. Because it’s important that you read it again.

But when its time has come, and you’re finished reading an email, sweep right and it’s gone.

Caution: “Tech-tolerance” required! (Made that up. Hehe.)
As with any new technology product, things can get a bit overwhelming at first. If you’re thinking about giving Inbox a try, I recommend approaching it with an open mind (but first get your hands on one of those invites). After playing around with it, you may find it to be a pretty awesome and helpful app that makes checking your email cool again. Happy Inboxing!

Patrick Tanahan is a guest blogger for fred.tips. Patrick is a student at the USC Marshall School of Business, President of the USC Entrepreneur Club, and interested in all things tech, music, sports, or global innovation. You can contact him at @patricktanahan.

6 Reasons Why Your Small Business NEEDS a Website

We are in the digital age. (Like I needed to tell you that) Everything is on the internet. You want to go on vacation? Internet. You need to book a flight? Internet. You need to book a hotel room? Internet. You need a rental car? Internet. You want to know what movies are showing? Internet. You want to buy movie tickets? Internet. And so on, and on, and on, and on.

Everything happens on the Internet. Why would your business be different?

1.  Credibility.
Most consumers shop online and do research online before making purchases. A well designed website is a great way of promoting customer confidence for your company. A website will give your company the competitive online advantage it needs to drive more business.

2.  Information.
Your small business needs a quick and efficient way to communicate with your customers and potential customers. Think of your website as your online tri-fold brochure. It is far more cost effective to update information about your products and services on the internet than it would be to re-print all of your marketing materials.

3.  Accessibility.
24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year (366 days on leap year) – Your website doesn’t take breaks or vacations. When your office is closed, your website will continue to provide your clients and potential clients with the information they might need to really nail that sale home! The reach is limitless.

4.  References.
No matter what type of business you are in, your website will be your showcase of work. Pictures, galleries, videos, testimonials, etc. What better way to build credibility and trustworthiness than by providing previous projects and quotes from previous happy clients. Remember the old “references available upon request” tag line? No more. References available on our website!

5.  Customer Service.
A website is the perfect avenue to improve and engage the customer service aspect of your business. By providing answers to common questions, customer requests can be more streamlined. Your customer gets the answers he or she is looking for, meanwhile, freeing up valuable time of your employees to deal with other aspects of the business.

6.  Growth.
You need to hire new talent for your company. Why pay a company to advertise the position for you when you can do it on your own site, for free! You can use your website to post job opportunities and create forms for potential employees to submit their resume online. No more wasted fax paper printing countless resumes.

TIP: Shop around. Many online do-it-yourself web companies start you off at a low and attractive price but then upsell you on additional services you may or may not need. Get a few quotes from a few web design firms. Don’t be shy about sharing the quote with other design firms to get the best possible deal (Of course, hide the price…) – Make sure you compare apples to apples and don’t invest your life savings into a design firm that promises you the world. Your new website should be simple yet attractive and should complement your business. If the price is too high, or the timeline is too long, look for alternatives.

Related Topic:  Why Instagram is Essential for Your Business Marketing Strategy