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The latest news on Entrepreneurship from Business Insider

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    Man puts his feet up looking out

    I know better than anyone how frustrating it is to start a business without any guidance.

    Curiously though, we've found the actual steps for starting a business aren't the hard part.

    Earlier this year, I gave away the entire blueprint behind a $5 million week at IWT.

    Thousands of people read it. Every single one of them was at least somewhat interested in starting an online business.

    Yet I can guarantee you most of them did nothing.

    Why?

    What we've learned is that information usually isn't the barrier. What holds us back are our own beliefs about what's possible. Until you get rid of these invisible scripts, the 'information' goes in one ear and out the other.

    Over the years, I've seen people make the same few excuses for why they can't start an online business. Today I want to introduce you to three successful students who overcame these obstacles to start and grow successful online businesses with our help.

    Seeing that others have already faced — and overcome — your exact challenges can be all the motivation you need to do the same.

    SEE ALSO: 10 myths about dating too many people believe

    DON'T MISS: Tony Robbins' best tip for overcoming the fear of failure is backed by science

    Challenge #1: 'I don't have time'

    Student:Nagina Abdullah
    Industry: Weight Loss Coach
    Business:masalabody.com

    Nagina lost 40 pounds while working a full-time job and raising 2 kids.

    She wanted to help other women transform their bodies and feel more energetic and confident. Now she needed to create a website — and she didn't have time to make mistakes along the way.

    "I travel every week for several nights," Nagina recalls. "And when I'm at home, I also have quite a bit of work that I need to do. Then I also have two kids, so every time I'm not working, I want to spend with my kids."

    To make room for creating a business, Nagina looked at her schedule and determined how she could better use her time.

    As she told us:

    "I was staying up late and not doing anything. Instead, I started waking up an hour earlier and I'd also spend 5 hours on the weekend on my business. Do that every week, and step by step, it keeps building."

    Nagina earned $31,000 in 2014, her first year. In 2015, she weeded out all of the time-wasters that weren't making a difference in her business and doubled down on the activities that drove most of the results: like copywriting.

    "The #1 thing I focused on was copy. I used to think I was a really bad writer. I was in remedial college English! That self-judgment held me back."

    "Then I learned that writing isn't what you learn in college — it's what you learn when you talk to people and really get into their heads. Now I tell my stories and other people's stories."

    "Before, my writing was just 'You can do it!' and very unemotional. I'd say 'Just eat X.'"

    From her conversations with women, she learned what pains her audience had and knew how to get into their heads.

    "Once I started appealing to people's emotions, everything shifted. They did what I said and responded to the emails."

    After Nagina spent her limited time on the activities that moved the needle in her business, revenue exploded.

    "When I hit three consistent $10,000+ months, I knew I had finally found what works and I felt a calming sense of relief. I felt like there is an absolute possibility that I'm going to own my own business, which was a dream of mine."

    RESULT: Nagina regularly surpasses $10,000 in monthly revenue.



    Challenge #2: 'I don't have any ideas/I have too many ideas'

    Student:John Fawkes
    Industry: Performance Coach
    Business:johnfawkes.com

    For years, John wanted to be an entrepreneur, but he didn't have a plan or support network. He relied on free blogs and forums to figure it out as he went.

    The result? John jumped from one idea to the next, never creating a sustainable business with significant, predictable revenue.

    "I created things people would want to buy, but I had no idea where to find my audience. I didn't understand my market on a deep level the way I've learned to in Zero to Launch."

    John had no idea what kind of business he wanted to start. But we helped him come up with several ideas he was interested in. His first idea, to help people land great jobs, turned out to be a dead end.

    "It was difficult to find communities that I could reach out to directly. And I got surprisingly low traffic from my guest posts. I realized that it's very hard to get loyal, consistent, long-term readers in the career niche."

    Note that this is where most frazzled entrepreneurs would give up. They would say "The only tactic I know for getting traffic is guest posting, and guest posting isn't working here, so it probably won't work anywhere. Screw it. I knew I couldn't have a business."

    At GrowthLab, we approach online business as a SYSTEM. Once John realized he needed to step back from marketing tactics and look at high-level strategy (like his choice of industry), everything changed.

    He went back to the beginning and decided to try again in the fitness market. He was even more excited for this than his original idea.

    "This is an area where I have a ton of knowledge and passion. I'll never run out of things to write."

    RESULT: John has achieved his dream of automated income while living abroad in Thailand. 



    Challenge #3: 'Why would anyone listen to me?'

    Student:Bushra Azhar
    Industry: Persuasion
    Business:thepersuasionrevolution.com

    Bushra had a great reputation in management consulting — but her online business had nothing to do with that established career.

    "I had zero credentials when I started my online business. I've never worked in psychology or persuasion. I've never even taken a copywriting course. For a long time I wasn't even sure if it was spelled 'copywriting' or 'copyrighting'!"

    She soon learned her lack of "credentials" didn't matter. Using what she learned from us, she was able to connect with her audience so deeply that they immediately saw her as someone who could help them.

    Her main strategy was — unlike most business owners — focusing her website 100% on the visitor. "I made sure the very first sentence [of my site] is something which is a red hot burning pain for THEM. So there is no way they could hit the back button. It is psychologically impossible to leave my website."

    When you speak directly to your reader's burning needs, they stop wondering what your qualifications are and start asking how you can help.

    Focusing on her customers has made all the difference in Bushra's business.

    RESULT: Bushra went from being a nobody in her market to earning $130,000 in October 2015.

    What I wanted to prove to you today is that it IS possible to create a powerful, profitable, rewarding business. What business will you start?

     



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    man looking up trees

    Watch enough "Shark Tank" and you'll learn that successful entrepreneurship starts with passion — the kind of passion that moves people to tears when they talk about building their business.

    But if you're an aspiring entrepreneur and you're waiting for a passion to fall down and bonk you on the head like Isaac Newton's proverbial apple, then news flash: You may be waiting forever.

    That's according to Ramit Sethi, bestselling author of "I Will Teach You to Be Rich." Sethi recently appeared on The James Altucher Show to talk about the path to a rich life, specifically starting your own business.

    Sethi said that you shouldn't assume you aren't passionate enough about any particular issue to launch a thriving business.

    "A lot of people wait for the passion to fall down from the heavens," Sethi told Altucher. "Your passion doesn't fall down. You find your passion."

    How?

    "You get passionate about something when you get good at it," he said.

    Sethi said that when he started out writing about personal finance, he was still learning about it, which he openly admitted. But as his knowledge grew and his writing improved, he became more passionate about it. "I could watch people change," he said. "They started to invest; they saved money."

    What's more, he said, simply having a topic you're passionate about isn't enough. "Don't think that you're waiting for lightning to strike and give you some passionate idea."

    Anyone can have an idea, but an entrepreneur has to put in the work to develop that idea, he added.

    Sethi's insight recalls the psychologist Angela Duckworth's advice on following your passion.

    "Passions begin with interest and interests are not merely discovered; they're also actively developed and deepened,"Duckworth told Business Insider.

    In other words, it's okay if you don't yet have a goal or a dream that keeps you up at night. Actively pursue a few things you're curious about or relatively skilled at and that passion will develop over time.

    It's not the most romantic idea — but it's possibly the most realistic.

    SEE ALSO: A UPenn psychologist explains why 'follow your passion' can give the wrong impression about success

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: A Navy SEAL told us why we should ‘do something that sucks’ every day


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    Shane and Jocelyn by the Pacific Ocean San Diego (1)

    A few years ago, Shane and Jocelyn Sams were teachers who earned a combined $5,000 a month.

    Today, they're the owners of Flipped Lifestyle, which earns $45,000 to $100,000 a month teaching others to start their own online businesses.

    How did they make the leap?

    Jeff Rose of Good Financial Cents interviewed the couple, who discussed everything from what it's like to go from making ends meet to having money to spare to how other people can echo their success.

    Rose asked for their top five tips for people who want to find that same level of success with an online business. Their second tip was particularly interesting: "Focus on what you know."

    Shane told Rose:

    "Don't necessarily chase your passions. It's very popular online, and all the gurus say, 'Do what you love. Follow your dreams.' What if I love to take naps in a hammock? You're not going to make a living doing that. Everyone has an expertise. Everyone has something they're expert enough in, and they can teach people who are not quite at their level. I taught football coaches how to run a particular defense. Jocelyn taught librarians how to organize and teach in their classroom."

    He told Rose that they have seen people start online businesses doing everything from teaching others to raise Venus flytraps to selling art in the form of painted gourds. "These people focused on what they were really, really good at, and that might've led to their passions," he said.

    His message — that you develop passion following expertise — echoes the advice that entrepreneur Ramit Sethi shared in a podcast interview with James Altucher: "A lot of people wait for the passion to fall down from the heavens,"Sethi told Altucher. "Your passion doesn't fall down. You find your passion."

    "You get passionate about something when you get good at it," he said.

    Shane's explanation of his expertise fits with Sethi's advice. He told Rose:

    "Football was not necessarily my number one passion in life, but I really knew a lot about it. Jocelyn doesn't get up every morning clapping her hands, going, 'Whoo, libraries!' She loves the library; she thinks they're important, but she was an expert in that. She has a master's degree in library media specialist.

    "Basically, focus on what you're really good at first. It might be something related to your job. It might be something that you really know how to do from a hobby standpoint, but don't necessarily go straight to your passions. That's often a recipe for disaster because people want to do what's fun and not what makes them money."

    Read the full interview with the founders of Flipped Lifestyle on Good Financial Cents »

    SEE ALSO: Former teachers who now earn $45,000 a month share their 2 best productivity tips

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This Excel trick will save you time and impress your boss


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    woman walking down stairs

    If you’re ready to take the leap to leave your day job and start your own business, the process may seem simple.

    After all, you just need to quit your job and start working for yourself, right?

    Not so fast. Although you may already have a side hustle, being a full-time entrepreneur is a whole new ball game.

    To successfully transition from employee to entrepreneur takes a lot of work and planning.

    Here are ten steps you can take to ensure a successful transition:

    SEE ALSO: There are more billionaires than ever before — and they're worth a total of $7.7 trillion

    DON'T MISS: 10 'bad' habits that can sometimes be good for you

    1. Save up for the unexpected

    The first step in transitioning from employee to entrepreneur is building an emergency fund. An emergency fund will help you fund your lifestyle in between earnings from your day job and earnings from your new business.

    To create this buffer account, start by opening a separate, dedicated savings account. There is a lot of debate on where you should keep your emergency fund. A good rule of thumb is to have it easily accessible in the event you actually need to tap into it. An online savings account is a good place for that. You’ll want at least one month of living expenses, but preferably three to six to be safe.



    2. Get a business credit card

    As you rack up more and more business expenses, you’ll find it more difficult to keep them separate from your personal expenses. A business credit card solves that problem. Come tax time, it’ll be a lot easier to deduct the applicable expenses if they’re all being charged to a dedicated business credit card.

    In addition, a business credit card serves as a revolving source of capital. If you have a business credit card, you’ll eliminate the need to take out small loans to fund things like a new office or equipment.

    Another reason to get a business credit card is because some business credit cards offer rewards on purchases you’re likely to make for your business. For example, the Chase Ink Cash business credit card offers 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent on office supplies, cell phone and landline service, Internet, and cable TV.



    3. Figure out your health insurance coverage

    If you work at a company that employs more than 20 people, you’re entitled to temporary continuation of health insurance coverage under your employer’s plan. This government mandated benefit is called COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act).

    Temporary coverage usually lasts 18 or 36 months depending on the circumstances that led to your need for COBRA. Employers can offer coverage for an even longer amount of time. It’s important to check with the Human Resources department before leaving your day job to make sure you know how long your health insurance coverage will last under COBRA.

    The cost of continuing your health insurance coverage after termination will likely be higher than your premiums were when you were employed. If this is the case, you may want to consider buying a new health insurance plan on the marketplace.

    No matter which route you choose, make sure you are insured. Come tax time, you’ll be charged a fee if you’re not.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Richard Branson

    Sir Richard Branson, one of the world's most recognizable billionaires, and founder of Virgin Group, has built an empire on the principle of pursuing his frustrations and finding their solutions.

    For Branson, this quest began at age 16, when he dropped out of school to start his first business, Student Magazine, which provided a fresh alternative to the stale publications and school magazines of the day.

    Since then, the number of companies under Virgin's umbrella has grown to over 400. They range from airlines to record stores, fitness clubs, banking institutions, space travel and more. All of which, Branson says, originally sprung out of fascination and frustration.

    "The best businesses come from people's bad personal experiences," he says. "If you just keep your eyes open, you're going to find something that frustrates you, and then you think, 'well I could maybe do it better than it's being done,' and there you have a business."

    Beyond just identifying when you've had bad experiences with a business, Branson challenges entrepreneurs to focus on channeling those frustrations in a way that helps you create more meaningful change in the marketplace. "If you can improve people's lives, you have a business," he explains.

    But, what if your your business idea is already taken? What if someone else is already creating a similar product or service?

    When it comes to deciding whether or not you can compete with existing competitors in your industry, Branson says, "People think, 'well everything's been thought of,' but actually, all of the time, there are gaps in the market here and gaps in the market there."

    For Branson, it's been those seemingly small opportunities that often began as doing things just a little differently, more conveniently, or in a way that made more people happy, that have blossomed into flourishing businesses.

    Ryan Robinson is an entrepreneur, writer, and online educator teaching over 150,000 monthly readers how to start meaningful, self-employed careers at ryrob.com.

    SEE ALSO: 10 things you should consider before leaving your job to start a business

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: We asked a Navy SEAL what he ate during training, and his answer shocked us


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    businessman ceo view

    As Patrick J. McGinnis writes in "The 10% Entrepreneur: Living Your Startup Dream Without Quitting Your Day Job,""You don't become an entrepreneur because you want to be rich or famous. You become an entrepreneur because it chooses you. No matter when you make the decision, you know in your gut you just have to go for it."

    That call is hard to resist, especially as you imagine fleeing your cubicle to follow that gut feeling.

    But McGinnis, a venture capitalist and private equity investor, suggests starting small: becoming a "10% entrepreneur."

    According to McGinnis, a 10% entrepreneur invests just 10% of their time and resources into a new venture, while holding on to their full-time job. This way, he says, they have the best of both worlds, rather than throwing all their time and money into something uncertain. He's for entrepreneurship, but he doesn't recommend going all-in right off the bat.

    Part of the reason he recommends this approach is because it's impossible to predict whether your entrepreneurial dream will work out. If you aren't prepared for things to go south, you could be in for a rude awakening. "When you choose entrepreneurship, you accept that the success and the money are terrific if they come, but they cannot be the only drivers of your decision," he writes. 

    Here are McGinnis' five arguments against quitting your job to pursue full-time entrepreneurship: 

    SEE ALSO: 8 lifestyle changes to make if you want to earn more money

    The lifestyle is lousy. 

    When you leave a company to be your own boss, there might be some undesired trade-offs. "You have to rethink your financial goals, your lifestyle, and your definition of success, all while being plagued with self doubt," writes McGinnis. 

    You might also find yourself working far more hours than your nine to five, for a fraction of the pay. "Sure, you have 'freedom,' but you also have long hours, demanding clients, and the stress of making ends meet on less money," writes McGinnis.



    You can ruin your finances.

    McGinnis refers to a study by Compass, a website that provides automated management reports for small and medium-sized online businesses, which found that 73% of startup founders make $50,000 per year or less. 

    "Those figures are surprisingly low when you consider how much responsibility they carry on their shoulders," McGinnis writes.

    Along with not getting paid generously for your work, there are also high expectations from investors who expect startup founders to put all their eggs in one basket and make money as the value of their shares in a company increase, he writes.



    You're abandoning status and affirmation.

    "Changes in your career affect the way you are perceived by your peers, society, and even yourself," McGinnis writes. "Endangering this affirmation can mess with your head."

    Having a routine and structure usually comes with working for an established company, but you might have to leave those behind to start your own business, McGinnis says. You will also have to learn to swallow your pride to pitch your business, and shouldn't be surprised if you run into some rejections along the way.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Luxe Adventure Traveler Sweden Northern Lights Header 2

    When Jennifer Dombrowski moved to Italy in 2009, she wasn't on vacation.

    She had been living and working in Arizona when her husband got transferred through his military job to a small town in Northern Italy. She asked her employer if she could continue her work as a social media strategist for a university for a six-month trial period from her new home near Venice.

    "That six-month trial period turned into six years," she told Business Insider.

    Almost immediately after arriving in Italy, the couple launched a hobby blog to detail their adventures for friends and family back home. That blog has turned into Luxe Adventure Traveler, which offers consulting and helps clients with travel-related projects. For instance, Dombrowski is currently preparing for a food and wine Instagram takeover for the French tourism bureau. They also license some of Davis's photography to other businesses and Dombrowski works as a professional contributing travel writer. Currently, the site brings in about 30% of their total income.

    For the first six years abroad, Dombrowski kept her US-based job with regular hours, and Davis held his military job. Limited by their schedules, they weren't able to indulge every travel whim. Instead, they sat down with their calendars and highlighted the times they could take off and travel together.

    Instead of spending quiet weekends or breaks at home, "we would make sure we always planned to have something going on during those times," Dombrowski said. "Having the weekend and being in Europe, you could go so many places just driving or taking a cheap budget flight."

    Once she left her job to focus on the site full time, however, she had to find a new routine. "It's been hard to find the perfect balance, because the exciting part for readers is that you're on the road, but we're not nomadic like a lot of travel bloggers," she said. "We used to travel to about 20 countries a year, and now we're going to half or less than half of that. It's about finding the things that interest us and that our readers are interested in."

    Living in Bordeaux, where they moved earlier this year, makes mixing work and travel easier than it might be otherwise. "I can work all day preparing for projects," Dombrowski said. "But after I'm done or if I need a break I can go out in this beautiful city — go climb the tower and get a cool view, or go to a great museum, or hop on the train and go to a tasting at a wine shop."

    SEE ALSO: How a woman who's visited over 50 countries built a luxury travel business from scratch

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Here's why successful people have more sex


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    NYU Stern School of Business

    When we think about company founders, especially in the tech industry, there's the enduring story of the college dropout — Peter Thiel will even fund kids to not go to college. 

    Yet some foundational knowledge and connections gained in business school can be useful for a founder.

    PitchBooktracked business-school graduates over the last 10 years and found which ones were churning out founders and companies, as well as raising capital.

    There are plenty of schools concentrated around tech hubs like Silicon Valley, but this list shows it's not always a requirement. 

    Here are the top 25 best business schools for entrepreneurs.

    SEE ALSO: The 17 best colleges for startup founders

    25. Pepperdine University

    Entrepreneur count: 77

    Company count: 73

    Capital raised: $1.5 billion



    24. University of Virginia

    Entrepreneur count: 82 

    Company count: 77

    Capital raised: $768 million



    23. Yale University

    Entrepreneur count: 83

    Company count: 77

    Capital raised: $1 billion



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships so we may get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    man working on laptop

    Even if you're comfortable with your salary and lifestyle, having some extra money in your checking account never hurts.

    There are tons of ways to make some extra money on the side without working nights and weekends, too, whether you take up a freelance gig, sell some old stuff you don't use anymore on eBay, or even list your apartment on Airbnb.

    If you want to test out these waters, but don't know where or how to begin, consider signing up for an online course. We rounded up relevant classes for a variety of ventures, so there's bound to be something worth enrolling in.

    As a bonus, you can take advantage of great deals on most of these courses by using the promo codes "INSIDERPICKS75" or "SEPT1206" at checkout.

    SEE ALSO: These 10 skills are great ones to have on your résumé right now

    DON'T MISS: This is the only way most people should be investing their money

    "Mastering Airbnb: Learn from SF's Top Host, 100+ Lectures"

    Lending out your home to vacationers when you're out fo town is an easy way to make bank. If you want to become a highly reviewed host on Airbnb, which will help attract even more guests, this class is worth the investment.

    Mastering Airbnb: Learn from SF's Top Host, 100+ Lectures, $19 (originally $165), available at Udemy.[88% off with the code SEPT1206]

     



    "Seth Godin's Freelancer Course"

    Depending on your full time job's non-compete clause, you may be able to pick up some relevant freelance work. Here, instructor Seth Goodin teaches you everything you need to know about your side hustle, such as how to develop your brand and secure clients.

    Seth Godin's Freelancer Course, $11 (originally $45), available at Udemy. [75% off with the code INSIDERPICKS75]



    "Guide to Selling Products on Your Own eBay Shop"

    Selling products you no longer use is an easy way to declutter your space and pick up some extra cash. Here, you'll learn how to identify best-selling items and post a listing on the site.

    Guide to Selling Products on Your Own eBay Shop, $10 (originally $40), available at Udemy. [75% off with the code INSIDERPICKS75]



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Aileen Adalid Norway

    Aileen Adalid entered the corporate world at age 19 after graduating from De La Salle University in Manila, Philippines, with a degree in business management.

    But the trilingual Philippines native quickly grew envious of the flexible lifestyles of "digital nomads" she met while freelancing on the side in Manila.

    At 21, Adalid quit her entry-level job at Deutsche Bank — which paid just $300 per month — to transition to a life of perpetual travel.

    For the next year, Adalid freelanced in graphic design, web design, SEO management, and online marketing, sustained largely by one stable client contract that earned her more than double her previous salary. The best part: The flexibility enabled her to travel frequently to places like France and Thailand.

    In May 2014, Adalid partnered with a friend to start an online Amazon retail business called Adalid Gear, a health and outdoor accessories company, and relocated to Belgium.

    She also revived her one-time teenage diary blog, I Am Aileen, fashioning it into a lifestyle and travel blog that has gained traction among online travel communities.

    Adalid now earns about $5,000 a month from her online ventures, and she travels from her home base (now back in the Philippines) at least once a month to destinations throughout Europe and Asia.

    You can follow her adventures on her blog, I Am Aileen, or through her Facebook or Instagram.

    Adalid told Business Insider about cutting ties with the corporate world to chase after the "digital nomad" lifestyle, and finding a balance between traveling the world and running two successful ventures. Read on to find out how she did it. 

    DON'T MISS: A 31-year-old who's been traveling the world for 5 years explains how she affords it

    SEE ALSO: 14 things I learned when I quit my job to travel the world

    Back in college, Adalid studied business management and had a combined year of training experience under her belt at huge multinational companies like Nestlé, Unilever, and Siemens.

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     In Belgium.



    But after graduating college at 19 and spending two years working as a product controller at Deutsche Bank, she realized the corporate life wasn't for her. She was increasingly intrigued by both entrepreneurship and travel, so she left her job with about $600 in savings in April 2013.

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    In Dubrovnik, Croatia.



    "I started working as a remote freelance graphic designer, web developer, and marketing assistant taking on different projects but with a main stable client who employed me. My pay at this point was more than double of what I earned at my office job and I was able to control my time more for working as I started to travel around more."

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    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    steve jobs

    This post is excerpted from Kevin Kelly's new book, The Inevitable.

    Can you imagine how awesome it would have been to be an entrepreneur in 1985 when almost any dot com name you wanted was available?

    All words; short ones, cool ones.

    All you had to do was ask.

    It didn’t even cost anything to claim.

    This grand opportunity was true for years.

    In 1994 a Wired writer noticed that mcdonalds.com was still unclaimed, so with our encouragement he registered it, and then tried to give it to McDonalds, but their cluelessness about the internet was so hilarious it became a Wired story.

    Shortly before that I noticed that abc.com was not claimed so when I gave a consulting presentation to the top-floor ABC executives about the future of digital I told them that they should get their smartest geek down in the basement to register their own domain name.

    They didn’t.

    The internet was a wide open frontier then. It was easy to be the first in category X.

    Will Smith Wild Wild WestConsumers had few expectations, and the barriers were extremely low. Start a search engine! An online store! Serve up amateur videos!

    Of course, that was then. Looking back now it seems as if waves of settlers have since bulldozed and developed every possible venue, leaving only the most difficult and gnarly specks for today’s newcomers.

    Thirty years later the internet feels saturated, bloated, overstuffed with apps, platforms, devices, and more than enough content to demand our attention for the next million years.

    Even if you could manage to squeeze in another tiny innovation, who would notice it?

    Yet if we consider what we have gained online in the last 30 years, this abundance smells almost miraculous.

    We got: Instant connection with our friends and family anywhere, a customizable stream of news whenever we want it, zoomable 3D maps of most cities of the world, an encyclopedia we can query with spoken words, movies we can watch on a flat slab in our pocket, a virtual everything store that will deliver next day — to name only six out of thousands that could be mentioned.

    old virtual reality san francisco 1980sBut, but…here is the thing. In terms of the internet, nothing has happened yet. The internet is still at the beginning of its beginning.

    If we could climb into a time machine and journey 30 years into the future, and from that vantage look back to today, we’d realize that most of the greatest products running the lives of citizens in 2044 were not invented until after 2014.

    People in the future will look at their holodecks, and wearable virtual reality contact lenses, and downloadable avatars, and AI interfaces, and say, oh, you didn’t really have the internet (or whatever they’ll call it) back then.

    And they’d be right.

    Because from our perspective now, the greatest online things of the first half of this century are all before us. All these miraculous inventions are waiting for that crazy, no-one-told-me-it-was-impossible visionary to start grabbing the low-hanging fruit — the equivalent of the dot com names of 1984.

    evan spiegelBecause here is the other thing the greybeards in 2044 will tell you: Can you imagine how awesome it would have been to be an entrepreneur in 2014? It was a wide-open frontier! You could pick almost any category X and add some AI to it, put it on the cloud.

    Few devices had more than one or two sensors in them, unlike the hundreds now. Expectations and barriers were low. It was easy to be the first. And then they would sigh, “Oh, if only we realized how possible everything was back then!”

    So, the truth: Right now — today — is the best time to start something on the internet.

    There has never been a better time in the whole history of the world to invent something.

    There has never been a better time with more opportunities, more openings, lower barriers, higher benefit/risk ratios, better returns, greater upside, than now. Right now, this minute.

    This is the time that folks in the future will look back at and say, “Oh to have been alive and well back then!”

    The last 30 years has created a marvelous starting point, a solid platform to build truly great things. However the coolest stuff has not been invented yet — although this new greatness will not be more of the same-same that exists today.

    It will not be merely “better,” it will different, beyond, and other. But you knew that.

    What you may not have realized is that today truly is a wide open frontier. It is the best time EVER in human history to begin.

    You are not late.

    SEE ALSO: Check out Kevin Kelly's new book 'The Inevitable'

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    Cacinda Maloney Shark Diving in Roatan

    Cacinda Maloney has always traveled.

    At the start of her 21 years as a licensed chiropractor, a business coach advised her to travel every six weeks.

    She and her husband "thought he was crazy at first, especially since we had just graduated from college with our doctorate degrees and in debt of college loans at $100,000 each," she told Business Insider in an email.

    "We were go-getters who were ready to work after 10 years of college. However, the advice he gave us ended up being the best advice we have ever received from a coach."

    So, while building and running an Arizona chiropractic practice with her husband, Maloney made regular travel a priority. In 2014, she made it her profession as well, leaving the practice's daily management to her husband and beginning a new career as a travel entrepreneur.

    Maloney, who runs PointsandTravel.com and its associated Facebook and Instagram pages, is today a Travelocity ambassador who's visited over 50 countries so far. While her husband and two teenage sons sometimes join, she takes the majority of adventures on her own.

    Below, Maloney tells Business Insider what it's like to leave an established career, the realities of a life lived on and off the road, and the challenges of building a career that sends you around the world.

    SEE ALSO: How a woman who's visited over 50 countries built a luxury travel business from scratch

    She had started PointsandTravel.com in 2012 as a way to document her travels. That year, she visited eight countries and 38 cities. In 2013, she did about the same.

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    In Palawan, the Philippines.



    By 2014, Maloney had reached a crossroads. "I was extremely busy at the clinic and then became busy at PointsandTravel.com and I knew something had to give. It was a good thing, but there was just too much work!" she said.

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    In Wadi Rum, Jordan.



    "I had been working long hours for years and was ready for a break," Maloney remembers. "I was one of the lucky ones, who had built-in vacations every six weeks of my life for over 20 years. But still, I was tired of the same routine."

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    At the Hill of Crosses, Lithuania.



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    Stephanie Abrams Cartin Headshot

    Five years ago, I quit my cushy corporate job, which I was actually happy doing, to start my own company.

    My business partner and I quit our jobs on the same day and launched ourselves into the wonderfully stressful world of startups.

    We took all the advice we could from anywhere we could get it, but what we found most helpful in the end were actually the experiences we had from working in corporate America.

    Now, I'm not saying if you've been thinking of starting your own business, you should dive in head first and quit your job tomorrow. But isn't it nice to know you could?

    Since I have gone through the late nights, the headaches, and the breakdowns that all come with starting your own business, I thought I'd share my experience.

    Now every industry is different, and this list isn't the end-all, be-all of successfully running your own company, but these five tips from my years in corporate America that are certainly helpful to keep in mind when you start your own business.

    1. Create a positive value-driven culture

    You've heard the phrase before. It's one you hate for its overuse but love for all its meaningful glory: company culture. It's the key to the success of a company. Creating a positive atmosphere and establishing a company with values reflect your own will draw in the right crowd. Establishing your company's mission, purpose, and values early on will help draw in employees that will stick around.

    My partner and I call our team a family, and with good reason. We work hard to keep our employees happy, have implemented certain strategies to bring our team closer together, and have seen nothing but positive results from doing so. Think about it this way: If you create an environment where you'd be excited to come into work each day, your employees will feel the same way.

    Both my and my partner's previous companies managed to create a familial feel at large corporations, which was something we always appreciated. We knew early on that this was something we wanted to bring to our business.

    2. Be proactive, not reactive

    One thing that major corporations always do well is knowing when to plan and think ahead. Learning to be proactive rather than reactive is key to preparing for bumps on the road to success.

    It's always better to implement a rule or regulation before you need it. Training yourself to be ahead of the curve in order to see issues before they arise will help you develop a plan to prevent problems before they happen, rather than working backwards to try and fix something that's already broken.

    If you implement a rule after seeing an issue within your company, your employees may view the rule as a punishment. Instead, seek out possible problems and work to prevent them.

    flatiron

    3. Invest in your employees

    We put a great deal of effort into hiring the right people. We want our employees here for the long haul, so we seek talent, ambition, and drive. Something we learned from working at big companies was that finding the right people will make your job much easier.

    If you commit the time and money into finding employees who share your company's values, they will work hard and support your mission.

    Equally important is investing in your team. Our employees know that we have an open-door policy, so they can always come directly to us if they ever have an issue or want to talk about their role in the company. One thing that we found is beneficial from working at a smaller startup is the opportunity it brings every employee.

    In our office, we want our team to feel empowered. If there's a position that doesn't exist yet that someone is interested in pursuing, we want to make adjustments to help that employee work where they want. Investing in your employees and their strengths is just as important as hiring the right people.

    4. There is always room for change: Learn to adapt

    Large corporations often have a hard time adapting to change within their industry. Because the industry we work in moves so quickly and changes all the time, I have found that being able to adapt to change is necessary to keeping up.

    Without change, you're always going to be left behind. Large corporations have so many levels that ideas need to pass through in order to implement change. I saw this in my corporate experience and knew that I didn't want this to be an issue when launching my own business. The industry I worked in was so static that nothing ever changed, and that can get old fast.

    Learning to be open to change, even welcoming it, may be hard at first, but being able to move things around when needed will make your work much easier. Your employees will also appreciate your willingness to adapt, and your clients will see that you are flexible.

    5. Build and maintain real relationships

    Networking is the key to finding success with your startup. In any business, you have to be able to sell yourself and relate to people. People always need to like you.

    Sometimes people are thrown off by the facelessness of major corporations. Clients want to work with teams they feel comfortable with and not feel intimidated by a powerful corporate name. Having real relationships with real people is necessary for your business to succeed.

    Our clients decide to work with us because they genuinely like us and know that our mission is true. They recognize that our passion is real. People want to work with people, not corporations. Working to build and maintain relationships within your industry will yield positive results for both you and your network.

    Stephanie Abrams Cartin is the co-founder and CEO of Socialfly, a social media marketing and influencer agency. Stephanie is also the co-author of "Like, Love, Follow," the female entrepreneur’s guide for using social media to grow their business.

    SEE ALSO: 8 ways you're making a bad impression without realizing it

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Latina Travel Blogger Stephanie Be   Travel Break.net

    At 26, Stephanie Be isn't your average travel blogger.  

    Yes, her blog TravelBreak has over 260,000 subscribers. Yes, she's been to over 40 countries. And yes, her Facebook and Instagram pictures of splashy sunsets and majestic landscapes seem almost too good to be true.

    But with business savvy as her driving force, Be defines her career path as an "entrepretraveler."

    SEE ALSO: After 21 years working 9-5, this woman built herself a brand new career traveling the world

    Having grown up immersed in Latino culture as the child of Mexican immigrants, Be wanted to see more of the world after graduating from UCLA.

    “In Latino culture we're really encouraged to put others first and to serve each other. I love doing that, and I still do... but I also needed some time to be myself and do what I wanted to do and learn about people different than myself.”



    She decided to take a gap year in Sydney, Australia, figuring that she would come back and find a corporate job eventually.

    “I thought that travel was something that you get out of your system,” she said.



    She worked as a bartender in Sydney, but longed for control over her schedule. That’s when she started freelancing.



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    exercise

    Caffeine is the number one thing people turn to for energy, and almost everyone in the worldwide workaday world drinks multiple cups of coffee every day.

    These entrepreneurs, however, have figured out a few things that are even more effective than a cup of joe.

    SEE ALSO: 10 entrepreneurs share their top ideas for creating passive income

    1. Get up and cool down

    I do one of three things (sometimes all three) to recharge and refocus in the middle of the afternoon: 1. Get up from my desk and take a brisk walk for 10 minutes to get fresh air and sunlight. 2. Do some deep breathing and yoga stretching exercises. 3. Meditate for five to 10 minutes.

    I also drink tons of water. Research shows that just a little dehydration can create brain fog, affecting your ability to learn and perform.

     —  Jack Canfield, Co-creator of the billion-dollar "Chicken Soup for the Soul" franchise, author of the NYT bestseller "The Success Principles," and CEO of The Canfield Training Group



    2. Always be moving

    I use a standing desk all the time, and I frequently use a treadmill desk so I can walk while I do email. 10 jumping jacks always helps around 3 p.m.

    Finally, there’s no substitute for running up and down stairs. Fortunately for me, we have about 10 floors at Zillow Group’s Seattle headquarters, so there’s plenty of stair-running opportunities that I take advantage of.

    — Spencer Rascoff, CEO of Zillow, co-founder of Hotwire.com, and co-author of the NYT bestseller "Zillow Talk"



    3. Test yourself

    I sent hair away to an ex-CIA lab for mineral analysis, pricked my fingers for blood spot tests, spit into tubes to check cortisol levels and swabbed my inner cheek for DNA marker analysis.

    With the help of a great doctor, I quickly and effectively eliminated the dreaded brain fog. I learned I should limit green tea intake. Cortisol was off the charts, so I try to manage it with a Cortisol Control tablet, plus conscious de-stressing.

    In the morning I make a Nutribullet smoothie with a handful of leafy greens and a scoop of Maximum Vibrance green powder, plus a scoop of Brain Sustain by Xymogen. The insights from these tests and a few simple lifestyle changes have been my secret weapon for improved energy.

    — Phil Suslow, Owner of Oznium



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    reading

    We asked entrepreneurs: What one book helped shape your business and yourself personally as a CEO?

    SEE ALSO: 8 things successful people do that lazy people don't

    'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People' by Stephen R. Covey

    "I picked up this book because I thought it would teach me to be more efficient; I was surprised by the focus on values like integrity, empathy, fairness and service. It was inspiring to be asked to focus more on my inner development in order to become more productive. Since reading it, I've definitely seen how the values Covey advocates for have impacted my leadership style for the better."

    Jared Brown, Hubstaff



    'The One-Minute Manager' by Kenneth Blanchard

    "This book helped me completely rethink my management style, especially with remote workers. All the principles that the author describes are critical for successfully running a remote company: encouraging employees to think on their own, refraining from micromanaging, giving praise and quickly correcting problems. Everyone should read this book and then work on fixing their own managerial style."

    — Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff



    'How to Win Friends and Influence People' by Dale Carnegie

    "This book is not about tactics for tricking people into liking you; it's about understanding how to be a better person, listener and communicator. This book was recommended by my brother and it's taught me to be more amenable, patient and empathetic. I've learned how to communicate more efficiently and more effectively while being a more pleasant person. It's integral for success in business."

    — Andrew Thomas, SkyBell



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    Roy HesselStress — on the job and off — has been called a health epidemic by the World Health Organization. It makes us more prone to a host of maladies, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and cancer. And it's estimated to kill more than 120,000 American workers each year.

    It's not just work, of course. It's how we work. Our smartphones tether us to our 9-to-5 jobs 24/7. We're online, all the time. Day and night. Weekday and weekend. Technology, supposed to make our lives easier, has made it a lot more complicated.

    For entrepreneurs, this can be acute. I've experienced this firsthand, as head of a half-dozen online optical companies with offices around the world. Being always on is a job requirement.

    We've all read about the importance of taking downtime, but if we look back in history, "a day of rest" isn't a new, innovative business hack. It's an ancient tradition represented across societies and cultures. And among many peoples and religions, it's not a choice. It's sacred space carved out for reflection and connection.

    I believe in this so strongly that, taking a cue from my family's heritage, from sundown on Friday to sunset on Saturday, I completely go offline. No emails, no calls, no Tweets, no tech, no matter what. For anyone who's struggling with finding time for self and family, I'd like to share what I've learned. For health, sanity, and happiness, I think it can make all the difference.

    Make it sacred and don't apologize

    It's not enough to carve out time in your schedule. You need to approach this blackout period with an unwavering belief in its benefit and a commitment to see it through. For me, this means abstaining from work and, in the deepest sense, simply resting. It grounds me and allows me to re-energize and focus on what's really important in my life.

    The key is to be unapologetic rather than aspirational about unplugging. As soon my family and I get home from our workweek, there's nothing, with the exception of a life and death situation, that would cause me to compromise that time. As far as business and my income is concerned, it can wait.

    This sounds hard, but it's not impossible. Many prominent business leaders have woven regular downtime into their ultra-busy work schedules. Billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, for instance, spend large chunks of time just thinking and reflecting.

    For entrepreneurs, I think it's key to bring a similar kind of sanctity to your personal downtime. It's far too easy to let work suck you back in when you're supposed to be with friends and family. Don't let it happen. Set aside a sacred time and space.

    With disconnection comes reconnection

    Another key is to turn your phone off. In fact, the more devices you can shut off, the better. I take this to an extreme and make a conscious effort to turn off everything — computers, TVs, tablets, and anything else that might distract me from myself, my family, and being present.

    In our uber-connected world, I'd argue that this act of deliberate technological disconnect is more important than ever. Americans aged 18 and older now spend 11 hours per day in total using electronic media like TV, smartphones, and computers. Being "always on" like that isn't healthy for anyone. For CEOs, the corresponding stress can ultimately be counterproductive, possibly leading to poor decision-making and impaired growth.

    An absence of technology, by contrast, often leaves more time for the important stuff. In my case, friends often come over. Dinner becomes a five-hour affair as we eat and chat into the wee hours. I think the important thing here is that just disconnecting with technology is only part of the solution. It's equally critical to reconnect with people face to face, unhurried, and uninterrupted.

    Cultivate your contemplative self

    Without the disruptions of electronic screens or any appointments, I have a chance to read, talk (really talk) with friends and, above all, think. I take a break from always reacting, plotting, and striving to get ahead. All of this is key to being human and being alive — and to cultivating an inner self.

    In his bestseller "The Road to Character," New York Times columnist David Brooks outlines our "two selves": Adam I, or the person we are at work, and Adam II, the person we are around our family and friends. Brooks explains that there needs to be a rebalancing in favor of our true selves, or, as he puts it, focusing energy on our eulogy virtues, not just our resume virtues.

    Our professional self is the one we invest so much time, energy, and frustration in building throughout the week. Wrapped up in this concept is the ideal of the workaholic who sacrifices his own time and labor to try to get ahead. We all know this person: he or she gets grouped in with entrepreneur glory words like "hustle,""grit," and "drive." 

    But a person isn't complete without their inner, contemplative self. This individual all too often gets ignored or overlooked in our always-on, demanding work lives. And it's only with regular downtime that we're able to give attention to this critical component — indeed, the critical component — of who we are.

    My unwavering commitment to downtime is a sacred occasion for me, and I understand it may not seem possible for everybody. But I do think there's at least a lesson here for everyone who is overworked and struggling to disconnect. Setting aside time to disconnect from technology and reconnect with people can reap extraordinary benefits — not the least of which is renewed focus on your business. In fact, you'll know you've got the concept of downtime right when you literally can't wait to get back to work.

    Roy Hessel is president and CEO of Clearly and Coastal.

    SEE ALSO: My company implemented a 5-hour workday — and the results have been astounding

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Michael Gastauer

    Michael Gastauer is a financial technology success story.

    As reported by Forbes, he turned his digital banking group, WB21, into a $2.2 billion company in less than 10 months. With close to a million customers and $1.2 billion in monthly processing, it's become the largest digital bank in FinTech history.

    While the company behind Michael's success is fascinating, I was more interested in discovering the business habits that he used to help him turn WB21 into what it is today.

    Through my work at Taco, I got the opportunity to meet him for breakfast and find out the key to his success firsthand.

    I wanted our interview to go past the surface-level jargon we commonly hear and get to the meat of what allowed Michael to have success after success (his last company sold for $480 million, after all).

    Here are five keys to success I learned from Michael over breakfast:

    1. The ability to charm anyone in the room

    Before our interview, saying I had nerves would be an understatement. Astonishingly, from the moment I sat down with Michael to the moment we said goodbye, I became completely comfortable with him. It was as if we had been friends for years and were just catching up.

    We often see this in major politicians and actors. The ability to make anyone feel at ease with you is a skill that gives you a leg up, especially when you're a powerful person who might make a lot of people nervous.

    Two takeaways from Michael:

    Ask questions. During our interview, I talked at length about my mediation, eating, and work habits. Without realizing it, I almost forgot who was being interviewed — Michael or myself.

    Have relaxed body language. Whenever I was nervous, Michael was able to pick up on it and slouch a little, change to a less formal tone, or smile.

    2. An unrelenting work ethic

    If you ever meet Michael in person and ask him the date and time, there's a good chance he will get it wrong. He travels to over 15 countries a month, often just for a few hours at a time.

    "It's come to the point that when I see a bed, I'll just sleep in it for a few hours and get back up. It doesn't matter the time and it doesn't matter the place, whenever I can find time to get rest, I get it," Michael said.

    An employee noted that when the executive team gets up at 6 a.m., typically Michael has already been up for around 2 hours. While this employee's workday ends at 7 p.m., it's not uncommon to get an email or call from Michael up until midnight.

    When I heard stories of Elon Musk's 100+ hour workweeks, I thought this was unique. But I'm learning that the super successful often aquire an insane work ethic before they even become wealthy. From my conversation with Michael, it seems like long hours are not so much a badge of honor, but rather an expectation of what is required for success.

    3. Having a higher purpose

    I asked Michael about what drives him to spend so many hours day after day on WB21. He said that, over everything else, he has a strong desire to give people the ability to achieve financial success in places where until now it's been nearly impossible. Helping people in the poorest parts of Asia start businesses, empowering more women to work in FinTech, and solving the growing wealth disparity motivates him. The money, attention, and awards are all just cherries on top.

    It's usually not just money that drives the super successful. At some point, you get to a place where there's no way you're going to spend all the money you have during your lifetime. So why do these people continue to work like crazy and keep going? They are serving a higher purpose.

    When you're motivated to build a business for more than money, you think differently. Decisions become simpler, being a strong leader is more natural, and making money becomes easier. Michael has a higher purpose, and it drives him to keep pushing forward every day.

    4. Don't do what's popular, do what makes sense

    After selling his first company, Michael self-funded WB21 by investing $24 million of his own money into the company. After the company experienced hockey-stick growth during the first six months of launch, venture capitalists began calling. Presented with the opportunity to raise an over-$50 million Series A, Michael made the executive call to not accept the term sheets.

    Whether we like it or not, we idolize the companies that raise huge rounds and dismiss the ones that don't. Everything about startup culture says, "Raise. Raise. And then raise again." But while everyone zigged, Michael decided to zag. This resulted in him and his team keeping 100% of WB21's equity all the way to a $2.2 billion valuation.

    Apart from just business, Michael also shared that he rarely drinks alcohol and almost never parties. "I love business, and that's what I want to spend my time doing. It doesn't matter to me what everyone else is doing, because the majority of people are not out to build billion-dollar businesses. To build a business that size, you have to be completely obsessed," he said.

    Super successful people think independently and aren't influenced by what society tells them. They choose their own path, and many of them are fine with being considered different by the general public. As the saying goes, "You don't change the world doing the same thing everyone else is doing."

    Chirag Kulkarni is the co-founder of Taco and Insightfully. He has helped startups and Fortune 500 companies make more money on the web using digital marketing.

    SEE ALSO: An entrepreneur shares the 12 best business lessons Tony Robbins taught him

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    jump leap plunge dive

    Data released by the US Census Bureau in September shows the median household income rose to $56,516 in 2015, the first increase since before the great recession.

    While this is certainly great news for the economy, it proves one thing to me: We need more entrepreneurs.

    While it’s wonderful to see more people with jobs, a decrease in poverty and an improving economic climate, let’s get real: $56,000 is not that much money. It’s barely enough to live on, let alone actually save or invest any for retirement. 

    Staying in that dead-end job means continued financial mediocrity for the rest of your life. If you want to make more money, you have to do something about it, and that’s why entrepreneurship is so attractive. Anyone who says it’s easy is lying, but the payoff can potentially be life-changing. But still, the risk of losing a steady paycheck at first, or perhaps not taking home as much in the beginning, scares too many people away.

    Here are five steps to overcome the fear.

    1. Change your approach to money

    Driven by the fear of loss and uncertainty of the future, the masses focus on how to protect and hoard their money. Stop looking at money in terms of short-term survival and start thinking about long-term success.

    We’ve been conditioned to see money as a necessary evil, and most people have a dysfunctional and adversarial relationship with it. Money is not the enemy, but one of your greatest allies and friends. Start looking at money in positive terms for what it really is: freedom, opportunity, possibility, and abundance. 

    2. It’s not about jobs, but outstanding performance

    Generally speaking, the slowest path to prosperity is punching a time clock. The truth is, having a job is no safer than owning a business. As counterintuitive as this may seem, people who work for themselves have the power to proactively seek out business and increase revenues at will. 

    While the middle class is attracted to jobs for safety, top-performing entrepreneurs know the only safety any service or product provider has lies in their ability to perform. No matter who signs your paycheck, your financial success will always be based on the level of service you provide and how many people you provide it to.

    3. Stop striving for comfort

    The primary goal of the middle-class mindset is comfort. If you want to make it at an uncommon level, the need for comfort can be devastating. You have to learn to be comfortable while operating in a state of ongoing uncertainty.

    The great ones know there’s a price to pay for making it big, but if they have the mental toughness to endure temporary pain, they can reap the harvest of abundant wealth. It’s not always comfortable to forge ahead when the world around you is negative, cynical, and unsupportive, yet the great ones push forward and are rewarded for the rest of their lives.

    4. It’s shrewd to be optimistic

    Most people don’t expect much because they don’t want to be disappointed. Instead, take on an optimistic approach to business and life. The great ones believe everything they touch will turn to gold, and when it doesn’t, they believe their next idea will. Optimism is the psychological insulator that keeps them moving no matter how often they fail.

    In fact, many of the most successful people have failed so many times you could label them ‘professional failures.’ They use failure as a stepping stone to their next success. Their true power rests in their optimism.

    5. Start to see money as an infinite resource

    The average person believes there’s a limited amount of money, and that they need to struggle and fight for their share before someone else gets it. They live in a world where they believe money is hard to earn and even harder to keep.

    Start to occupy the other side of the spectrum. Start to understand that money flows from ideas, and since ideas are limitless, money is limitless. While the masses are directing their mental energy toward grabbing as much money as they can, the great ones are focused on creating new ideas that have the potential of generating abundant wealth.

    If you want to change your life, your job, and ultimately the size of your bank account, become an entrepreneur. Put aside the limiting beliefs you have about money and stop operating from fear and scarcity. You have nothing to lose; only everything to gain. Freedom from financial worry and a better living is much closer than you think.

    Steve Siebold is the author of "How Rich People Think" and a self-made multi-millionaire who has interviewed more than 1,200 of the world’s wealthiest people over the past 30 years.

    SEE ALSO: I'm a self-made millionaire, and here are the 10 best pieces of advice I can give you about money

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Richard Branson

    Entrepreneurship isn't easy. It's risky, it's stressful and the success rate for new businesses really isn’t all that encouraging. So, why do people become entrepreneurs?

    Usually, it's because we find that simply working a job just isn't enough. We need to challenge ourselves, to test our ideas and to take control. Working for someone else just can’t satisfy that kind of personal drive.

    Related: 6 Tips to Successfully Transition From Your Day Job to Your Own Business

    How, then, can you be sure you’ve got the kind of drive necessary to make the leap from wage-slave to master of your own domain? Plenty of people fantasize about owning and running their own business, but more often than not, those same people prefer to wait until a business is handed to them. It takes a certain desperation to strike out on your own.

    Wondering if you're ready to make a big change? Before you do, see if you don't recognize a few of the signs that it's time to transition from employee to entrepreneur:

    1. You're passionate about your work, but not your job

    When I first started out in the world of finance, I really enjoyed my work. Helping people to get the funds they needed to achieve their dreams was rewarding, not to mention challenging. But I never felt passionate about my actual job. I had my own ideas for what lending should look and feel like, and I didn't care to have my schedule and workload set for me every day. I needed more. And that should sound familiar to any successful entrepreneur.

    Even seemingly interesting jobs may need to be sacrificed for your true passion. Branden Spikes worked at SpaceX for 10 years before striking out on his own with Spikes Security. When asked why, he said: "Through the years I kept a list of great ideas, and one day I realized that I had a couple of really good ones." The message: Don't leave your good ideas unexplored!

    2. You're sick and tired of just thinking about it

    Everybody dreams at least a little about what it would be like to be in charge at work, leading a team, and following your own rules. Dreaming about it is enough for most people. But if you find yourself beginning to resent your own entrepreneurial dreams because you haven't done anything about them, then traditional employment is never going to satisfy you. It's time to take a risk.

    McDonald's founder Ray Kroc said, "If you're not a risk taker, you should get the hell out of business." The message: Achieving your dreams can't be done from a place of comfort.

    Related: How to Transition Back to Employee After Being an Entrepreneur

    3. You want to help others

    If there's one thing that separates entrepreneurs driven to build large, successful enterprises, it's the pleasure they take in building a team and giving opportunities to others. Job creation is one of the biggest, most rewarding responsibilities of entrepreneurship. In fact, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation provided evidence that entrepreneurs who launch new businesses are the driving force behind a vibrant society, by the fact that they create new jobs, renew the economy and expand human welfare.

    Giving someone a job he or she wants and needs is an indescribable feeling. The message: If you don't want to feel responsible for the success of your team, stick with the cubicle.

    4. You have support

    Dame Anita Roddick, the founder of cosmetics giant The Body Shop, once said that, "We entrepreneurs are loners, vagabonds, troublemakers. Success is simply a matter of finding and surrounding ourselves with those open-minded and clever souls who can take our insanity and put it to good use."

    That's a great way to put it. Something a lot of people don't understand about entrepreneurship is that nobody can do it alone. You need someone to have your back while you're out risking everything to accomplish your goals. It can be a spouse, a parent, a committed investor, an educator or someone else — maybe multiple someones. The message: Somebody's got to help ensure that you have food and shelter and a shoulder to cry on while you're trying something new.

    5. You have a great idea

    It takes more than will to lead to be a great entrepreneur. You've got to have something to sell too, and it had better be an improvement on what's already available in the marketplace. If you're not obsessed with a new idea to build a better mousetrap and make it easier to get than ever before, you've got to find a great idea to rally behind before you quit your job.

    Steve Jobs could have spent years building video games for Atari, but he had a vision for making the personal computer accessible and engaging to all. That was what made him succeed where so many solder-jockeys failed: The idea sustained him, even after Apple fired him.

    The message: You've got to ask yourself what the point is of borrowing money and working day and night to become just another mousetrap salesman?

    6. You've got a plan

    Big ideas are great, but they'll get you nowhere if you don't have a plan for realizing them. People called Sir Richard Branson crazy when he hocked his record-store chain to start an airline. And maybe he was!

    But he had a plan to achieve that dream, based on careful market research, forecasting and financing. Without a solid, realistic plan, his wild vision could have never become a reality. The message: Have a plan.

    Related: The 6 Things You Must Have to Successfully Transition Out of Your Day Job

    7. You also have a backup plan

    A lot of startup businesses fail — most of them, in fact. No matter how grand your ideas, no matter how careful your plan, you're putting yourself at risk of becoming another statistic when you step out on your own. Even most successful entrepreneurs don't get it right on their first try — I didn't!

    But I had a backup plan to pursue when my first venture failed, and it kept me afloat until I could try again. Never, ever put all of your eggs in one basket. Even Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first television job. The message: If you've got a backup plan, you'll never be afraid to fail. 

    SEE ALSO: 5 reasons you're failing to communicate — and how to fix it

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