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100 Tips to Help You Live An Amazing Life

100 Tips to Help You Live An Amazing Life

Over the last 31 years of my life, I’ve learned a lot through my experiences.

These experiences include:

1. Having my articles featured on Forbes, Business Insider, Fortune and Inc.

2. Starting two companies and building 4 top 100 apps in different categories

3. 10 years in the technology industry at amazing companies like Cisco, VMware, Box and Optimizely

4. Writing a book on Amazon that hit #1 in the resumes category with over 40,000 Kindle downloads

And today, I’ll be sharing with you my top 100 tips on work, life hacks and life lessons.

To make it easier to read, I’ve categorized this into three categories for you:

Work tips – #1-34

Life hacks – #35-55

Life lessons – #56-100

Hope it helps you live an epic life! Oh, and by the way, if you’re wondering, that person in the photo of this article is me!

Work tips:

1. Say no to 1 hour meetings – “I love 1 hour meetings,” said no one ever. 1 hour meetings are often unnecessary. You can usually accomplish in 30 minutes w hat you thought you needed an hour for. 30 minutes will force you to be concise and on point.

2. Do the Steve Jobs walk – Steve Jobs often did some of his most important meetings while going for a walk. I do this all the time. First, doing meetings in conference rooms can feel very stiff. Second, getting people outside of their everyday environment may get them to see things from a new perspective. Third, being physically active during your meeting could help you think more clearly. So open the door, get some fresh air and go for a walk.

3. Visualize your success – Imagine 3 groups of basketball players.

*The first group would practice shooting free throws 20 minutes a day.

*The second group wouldn’t practice free throws but would visualize themselves making free throws.

*The third group would not practice or visualize at all.

The results? There was a significant improvement in the second group. In fact, they were almost as good as the first group.

By the way, this is a real experiment that was conducted by Australian Psychologist Alan Richardson.

So if you want to get that new jobs, imagine yourself prepping for the interview, nailing it and signing the job offer. Visualize what you want your future to be.

4. Listen first before speaking – Seek to understand first. How can you make an intelligent remark on something if you haven’t taken the time to observe what’s happening first? You have two ears and only one mouth. There’s a reason for that.

5. Keep your daily to do list small – Instead of writing up a huge to do list every day – focus on completing the 3 more important items every day. This forces you to prioritize your activities to ensure you’re getting the best return on your energy and time. Ask this question: “Do I really need to do this today?”

6. Set goals – If you don’t even know where you’re headed, how will you create the plan on how to get there? Set your destination first and then set sail.

7. Celebrate progress – The journey to your goal could be a long one. So make sure you take the time to celebrate your progress along the way. Eat a nice dinner. High five your teammates. Strike a gong. Do a fist pump. Yell out from the rooftops. Because success is worth celebrating.

8. Figure out your why – It’s a such a great question that isn’t asked enough. Why does it all matter? Figure out your why and that’ll be the fuel for your motivation. Whether it’s supporting your family or making an impact on the world, figuring out your why is critical to taking your work to the next level.

9. Understand your strengths and amplify those – You’ll be naturally talented in certain areas or you’ll practice a skill enough to become an expert at it. Focus your energy on amplifying those strengths rather than trying to be mediocre at everything. Better to be an expert at a few things than a mediocre jack of all trades!

10. Don’t burn bridges – I get it, we all work with jerks at some point in our careers. Who cares? Don’t let it get to you. There’s no need to say anything bad about them. If anything, try to find humor in it, learn from it and move on. You’ve got better things to focus on. Like being the most epic version of yourself that you can be.

11. View challenges as opportunities – Have you ever spent a long time waiting at the post office to ship something before? I know I have. What if instead of complaining of that process, you created an app that would allow you to request a driver to arrive at your house and to pick up and deliver your shipment for you? If you viewed that challenge as an opportunity, you would have created Shyp, an amazing app that does exactly that.

12. Shorten your commute – I used to travel over 3 hours on the freeway for work every day for a few years. I was stressed, tired and exhausted. I also wasted a ton of time sitting in a car. It’s absolutely not worth it. Work near where you live. If you can, make it within walking distance. Imagine 3 hours a day working on something you love. Time is precious. Don’t waste it on the freeway.

13. Test your assumptions – Did you know that A/B testing helped Barack Obama raise $60M by running a simple experiment? Optimizely has a great blog post that details this further.

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At the end of the day, all of us have an opinion at work. The only way to know the answer is to test your assumptions.

14. Dip your toes into the water – You never really know until you try. If you never try, you’ll always be wondering “what if.” So what are you waiting for? Want to explore a new career? Want to learn about a different department? Want to start your own business? Dip your toes into the water. Make it happen.

15. Give credit where it’s due – People can’t stand it when someone takes credit for something they didn’t do. Don’t be that person. Recognize others when they do an awesome job. It creates trust among teammates and will you further as a company.

16. Every person you meet is a potential door opener to a new opportunity – Be nice to people. You never know how you can help each other down the road.

17. Make data driven decisions – When in doubt, look at the data. What is it telling you?

18. Trust your gut – Data driven decisions aren’t quite as helpful when there’s little or no data to work with. In those cases, go with your gut.

19. Focus on the 80/20 rule – 20% of your clients will usually generate 80% of the return. Focus your energy on the work that matters.

20. 10 years test – You’re going to run into problems that might seem like disasters. Don’t freak out. Instead, use the 10 years test. Will this problem matter in 10 days? In 10 months? In 10 years? Probably not. And if it won’t, don’t stress about it. It’s not worth it.

21. Do what you love- Life’s short. Do you really want to spend 23.8% of your life working at a job that you hate? Didn’t think so. Do what you love.

22. Focus on making an impact – Don’t do work for the sake of looking busy or only because someone told you to. Think about the impact. And if it’s not impactful, have the courage to say so. Challenge yourself to do great work that makes an impact.

23. Lead with or without the title – You don’t need a big title to make a difference at your company. You can lead by driving a new initiative, coming up with an awesome idea or by coaching and encouraging your teammates to be at their best.

24. Build a personal brand – You have a living, breathing brand. Want to build a great brand? Dress the part. Act the part. Live the part.

For example, if you want to be perceived as a great content marketer, you’ve got to act the part. You could write a ton of Quora posts, LinkedIn articles and blog posts on the subject of content marketing. That way, when people have a need for content marketing, they think of you because they’ve seen 500 of your posts.

25. Invest in your LinkedIn profile – Nearly every single recruiter who has reached out to me this year found me on LinkedIn. Think about that for a second.

Time’s have changed.

We used to submit our resume to company websites to find jobs. While it can still work, it’s not the most effective way to learn about new job opportunities.

Once you submit your resume, it’s immediately outdated. LinkedIn, however, is brilliant because people are incentivized to update their profiles constantly. So what ends up happening? Recruiters find most of the best talent on LinkedIn.

It’s a new age folks. Invest in your LinkedIn profile. I have a ton of tips on this in my book “The Resume is Dead”(It would take us way too long to highlight in this post).

26. Leave your business card at home – Add someone on LinkedIn instead. It’s easier to keep in touch with them, reduces your administrative work in loading that person into your contact book and updates on each other are easily viewed. Welcome to the cloud.

27. Stay humble – You might be pretty good at what you do, but chances are somebody else in the world does it better. And even if you are the best at it, chances are you aren’t good at a million other things. So stay humble. Stay foolish. Stay hungry. And keep learning from others.

28. Embrace failure and learn from it – You are going to fail at some point in life. It could be a big event, like getting fired. It could be a small event, like forgetting to do the laundry. It’s all relative.

The important thing is to recognize that the process for dealing with big or small failures is the same.

Acknowledge that it happened. Deal with the situation. Learn from it. Improve yourself. And move on.

J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, went from being an unemployed single mother living off unemployment benefits to becoming one of the best selling authors of all time.

Failure happens. It’s how you deal with it that matters.

29. Embrace your champions – Along the way, you will find people that genuinely believe in you and your mission. They will cheer you on. Embrace them. Even if your only champion is your mom.

30. Embrace your naysayers – On this same journey, you’ll also find people who doubt you every step of the way. Embrace them too. Only this time, use that doubt as your source of motivation. I had 4 managers who ranked me second to last in interviews at a Fortune 100 company. I used that to motivate me when I finally landed a job. I ended up managing the #1 operation in the country. Thanks for the motivation.

31. Recognize the importance of transparency – People are more empathetic when they understand why things are happening. When they’re left in the dark, it becomes hard to build trust. Be transparent.

32. Invest in a standing desk – A study from the Annals of Internal Medicine found that sitting increases our chances of getting a disease or condition that will kill us prematurely. Holy. Moly. Get a standing desk. Now. I did this for two years and felt way more productive.

33. Work smart – Why are we doing this? Does it have to be done this way? Is there a better way to do it? How can I get a better return in less time?

Keep asking questions like this. Working hard is great. Working smart and hard is a even better. #WinningCombo

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34. Find mentors who live your desired lifestyle – Want to work 5 hours a week and travel the world? Find people who have create a passive income lifestyle successfully likePat Flynn, Eric Siu and Benny Hsuand have them be your mentors. While they may not be able to mentor you 1:1, you can have them be a virtual mentor by following their website learnings.

Life hacks:

35. Freeze your fruits/vegetables – You want to eat healthy but your produce always manages to go bad before you can finish it. So here’s what you do instead: right before it goes bad, freeze it! Then you can use it in soups, stews or smoothies in a pinch!

36. Cut the cable cord and get Netflix – You still get awesome entertainment and just reduced your monthly bill a ton.

37. Clean your home once a month – De-cluttering your living space will de-clutter your mind. Here’s a simply way to determine what you keep: Have I used this in the last year? If no, donate it.

38. Utilize quick pick me ups – Sometimes you just need something to jump start yourself into a happier mood. Watch a funny Youtube video (Jimmy Fallon’s Lip Sync Battles, Ellen Degeneres clips), sing one of your favorite songs outloud or dance like nobody’s watching. Life’s short. You may as well have some fun.

39. Buy a chap stick keychain – Have you lost your chap stick before? I’ve lost a ton. That’s why I bought a chap stick keychain. Problem solved. My lips have never been happier. Smooth like butter.

40. Host events- When all is said and done, relationships are what matter. Host an event for your friends, family and loved ones so that you get a chance to spend some quality time together. Want to do it on a budget? Make it a potluck.

Want to make it work related? That’s awesome too. Trust me, your coworkers want to enjoy life outside of the office too. They may not always remember what you did in the office, but they’ll definitely remember the epic get togethers you hosted.

41. Invest in an awesome mattress – You spend about 33% of your life sleeping. Why would you skimp on your mattress? Help yourself get the best sleep possible.

42. Iron your shirt without an iron b- Don’t have an iron? Your last resort: hang your clothes in the bathroom while you take a hot shower and then blow it dry with a hair dryer. It works for me all the time!

43. Arrive at least 2 hours before your flight take off time – Especially if it’s an international flight. Trust me, I’ve flown to over 50 cities in a year. You don’t need the stress.

44. Pack food for your flight – You don’t have to pay a small fortune to have lunch at the airport anymore. Bring your own sandwich, fruit or snack.

45. Wiggle your body during turbulence – I use to hate hitting turbulence. It would make me a nervous wreck. The solution? Wiggle your tush when the turbulence hits. You’ll feel less of it. I don’t know why this is true, but it works. I’ve tried it a few times now!

46. Charge your phone faster – Switch it into airplane mode and it’ll charge faster.

47. Get an extra battery pack – Let’s face it, we use our phones for almost everything nowadays including directions, finding places to eat, communicating and entertainment just to name a few. When our phones die, we’re close to being incapable of doing anything.

I’m kidding of course. But life does get harder without a smartphone to help out. So buy an extra battery pack.

48. Stay away from processed foods – The more you eat whole, natural foods like vegetables and fruits, the more likely your diet will stay healthy. Stay away from the processed stuff.

49. Don’t live someone else’s life – Learn to build your own values, passions, opinions and personality. You are not anyone else. You’re completely unique and awesome in your own way. This is your life. Own it.

When I told people I wanted to build a blog called CEO Lifestyle (a motivational blog designed to help people be the CEO of their lives)some of them were skeptical.

Who cares? It’s not their life. It’s mine. If I get passionate about motivating other people, I’m going to make it happen. So I built it. Guess what happened? There’s over 500 subscribers already in two months. #FollowYourDreams

50. Skip the caffeine – You don’t need it. You can make yourself more focused and awake by doing things that are completely natural and free. Here are some quick examples: exercise, meditation, drinking enough water (your frequent bathroom trips will make you alert, trust me) and working on something you’re passionate about.

51. Slow down – We get it. You want to make a dent in the universe. You want to change the world. You want to create something magical. Slow down. Take a deep breathe. You don’t have to react instantly all the time. Sometimes, taking a moment to collect yourself and to think about the situation might drive a better outcome for you. I learned this from a special person I met in Spain and it’s improved my quality of life tremendously.

52. Color code your keys – My friends taught me this trick. Ever fumble through your keys to try to find the right one, only to try it and realize it’s not? There’s a fix for that. Color code your keys. For example, our garage door is the yellow key, the green key is for the main public entrance and the red key is for our front door to our apartment unit. You can buy colored key covers on Amazon or use nail polish / paint to make the keys color coded. #problemsolved

53. Put a small garbage bin in your car – Notice your car getting messy? Admit it, you’ve tossed stuff you needed to throw away into the passenger seat before. You don’t have to live that kind of life. Get a small garbage bin.

54. Hang a tennis ball in your garage – Speaking of cars, have you ever had trouble parking your car in the garage? Seriously, it’s not easy to make sure that you parked close enough to the wall so that you car doesn’t get crushed by the garage door. Hang a tennis ball in your garage so that you know exactly when to stop moving forward.

55. Stuff newspaper in your shoes – It’ll remove the moisture and some of the smells it’s picked up over time. Okay, I admit it, I haven’t tried this one myself but I heard it works.

Life tips:

56. Learn one new thing a day – This could be one word from a new language, a scientific fact, a life hack or anything else that you’re interested in. Over time, learning one new thing a day will shape you into awesomeness.

57. Remember people’s names – Did you know that a study has shown that if you call people by their name, they usually respond with more energy and engagement? Yup, I ran that study. And my sample size group has been the thousands of people I’ve worked with over my 11 year career in technology. When you say someone’s name, it shows that you care. It shows that you recognize their presence. It shows that you’re a nice person. Try it.

58. Focus only on the present- Stop regretting the past. Stop worrying about the future. Focus on the present. Focus on the now. Feel the sun on your face. Feel the wind behind on your back. Hear the wind as it blows the tree branches. Dig your toes into the sand. Listen when people talk.

If you read a page from the last chapter over and over again you’ll never finish the book. So stop thinking about the past. Be in the now.

59. Listen to your body – When you’re exhausted, don’t fight it. Take a nap or sleep. When you feel stressed out, take a break. When you feel sick from eating that 10th donut, well, maybe you shouldn’t have done that. Learn to listen to the signals in your body and respond in the right way.

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60. Learn to let go – Mistakes happen. Don’t drill on it. Life isn’t perfect. Think of any issues you run into as “speed bumps” – they make the ride a little uncomfortable but you’ll get through it.

61. Read before sleeping – Don’t let the blue light from your computer or phone keep you up at night. You can use F.lux, which is an awesome app that makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day. This way you can use your computer to read an awesome book and learn something new. Or you can go the old fashioned route and buy a hard cover book. Getting into the routine of reading before sleeping will help you wind down the day and learn something new at the same time!

62. You are the 5 people you surround yourself with – A few months ago, I ran into what I thought was a disaster for my company. A part of me wanted to shut down the company (It’s called Collide). My good friend and co-founder Steve challenged me immediately. He asked what I wanted to achieve in life and why I created the company in the first place. After a long talk, I realized that I wanted to stay the course. Steve helped me understand that my desire to succeed was far greater than my fears. I’m telling you this story because I’ve learned that surrounding yourself with people that inspire you to be better can completely take your life to new levels.

63. Learn to say no – You can’t do everything for everyone. Stop spreading yourself thin. Learn to say no. Focus on a few things and be great at those.

64. Explore the world – Travel the world. It’s a great way to get a fresh perspective on life. Howard Schultz traveled to Europe and feel in love with the coffee shops there. Guess what happened next? He started Starbucks. #GetInspired

65. Build your own values – Model yourself after people that you admire. At the end of the day though, you’ve got to be able to make your own judgment calls. The best way to do this is to decide what your values are. Once you do, write it down and post it on your mirror. It’s the foundation of who you are.

66. Embrace change – You need to get comfortable with this simple idea: The only thing constant is change. Instead of fearing it, embrace it.

67. Clean along the way – Sure, you could let those dishes pile up for a month, but that would be pretty painful to clean up. Along the way, your home would start to smell, fill with fruit flies and generally make it less enjoyable to live in. So don’t procrastinate. Clean along the way.

68. Silence can be beautiful – You don’t always have to fill up silence with words. Sometimes there is beauty in being silent.

69. When in doubt, simple respond with “Let me think about that.” – Let’s face it, we don’t always have the right answer. Instead of rushing to answer, tell the person that you need time to think about things further. This shows that you’re being thoughtful and also gives you something to respond with.

70. Do your most important task first thing in the morning – Your energy will be higher at this moment. It’s why I workout first thing in the morning most days.

71. Use the “We’ll see” method – Even when it seems like something terrible has happened at the moment, there’s the possibility that it might lead to something good in the future. So instead of making up your own conclusions about the future, just tell yourself, “We’ll see.”

72. Meditate – You can use apps like Headspace that are free and can help you clear your mind. This is an awesome way to relax your mind and body.

73. Realize that most people don’t care about you – Sorry, people’s lives don’t revolve around your universe. Well, the exception might be if you’re a celebrity. But in all seriousness, stop worrying about what other people think of you. Most of them don’t even really care that much. Instead, focus on being the best possible version of yourself.

74. There are a few people in the world that really deeply care about you – Keep those people close to you in life. They’re the ones that can make your life amazing. They’re the ones that will stick with you through the good and the bad.

75. Roll your clothes – When you travel, try rolling your clothes to maximize packing space. I did this and can fit 2.5 weeks of clothes into a carry on now.

76. Only you are responsible for your own life – So own it. Take control. You have to figure out what makes you happy. What gets you inspired. What drives you.

77. Say something awesome to yourself everyday – Positive reinforcement can help you maintain an upbeat mood even in the worst of times. Treat yourself well.

78. Take a deep breath – Didn’t that feel awesome? Yeah, try doing that more. You should feel better.

79. Happiness is a state of mind, not a destination – Growing up, I used to tell myself, if only I had this specific thing, I would be happy. After 31 years of living, I can tell you that’s not how happiness works. Happiness is a state of mind.

My close friend told me that he feels happiness when the sun shines on his face. He almost died when he was in his early twenties. He was saved by a stranger who donated a kidney to him. He’s happy that he’s alive today.

You can find happiness now. It’s right in front of you, everywhere you look. It’s up to you to open your eyes.

80. Remember to have the time of your life – Remember that at the end of the day, no one lives forever. So while you’re here, remember to have the time of your life. Laugh, smile and have fun.

81. Promise only on what you can deliver – Reliability goes a long way. A ton of people over promise and under deliver. Don’t be that person.

82. Be fearless – Fear is just a feeling. Learn to take it head on. Have a bias towards action and be fearless.

83. Be insanely curious – Being curious will help you keep an open mind. By doing so, you’ll learn new ideas and help bring passion and excitement in your life. You don’t know everything, so learn as much as you can in your life!

84. Think about how you can help others – At the end of the day, your legacy will be who you loved, who loved you and how much you helped others.

85. Time is your most valuable asset – I had a family friend who spent most of his life saving up every penny to eventually live the life he always wanted. After years of saving, he was involved in a tragic car accident. He never lived the life he dreamed about.

Money is valuable. Time is even more valuable.

Utilize money to help you find more time.

Time with your loved ones.

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Time with your buddies.

Time with your spouse.

Time with your kids.

There are 525,600 minutes in a year. How do you spend your time?

86. Someone else’s recipe may not work for you – Just because it worked for someone else means it’ll work for you. Learn from others but also realize that everyone’s situation is unique.

87. Have an idea jar – Whether it’s for love, friendships or family, an idea jar is a great way to ensure you have activities to do together. The next time you have an idea for something, put it into the idea jar. Each week, you can pull one from the idea jar and voila, you’ve got some fun in your hands!

88. Act exactly how you feel – Why the poker face? It’s unnecessary. If you’re upset, act and feel upset. If you’re happy, smile. Better to be 100% authentic than to live a lie.

89. Smile at people – It makes you happier. It’s contagious. It lowers stress and anxiety. It strengthens your immune system. It makes you seem more competent. It makes your look trustworthy. It can even be an effective management technique.

And yes, every single of these has been proven by a study. Every. Single. One.

By the way, it cost you nothing. That’s awesome.

90. Simple is good – Stuff has administrative debt. That new car you just got? Maintenance and insurance. Those 10 shopping sites you subscribed to? 100 emails in your inbox you have to go through. Keep life simple. It’s easier and more enjoyable.

91. Don’t get attached to stuff – Once you take care of your basic necessities, like your health, shelter, clothing and food, chances are that stuff won’t make you happy. Don’t get too attached to it. When we leave this world we can’t bring our stuff with us anyway.

92. Choose experiences over stuff – What you should value are experiences. A simple dinner with your mother talking about life. A vacation with your spouse to a place you’ve always wanted to travel. A long talk with friends over a warm fire on a cold winter night. Working late night with your teammates to build a game changing startup. These are the moments you’ll remember.

93. Don’t compare yourself to others – Just focus on being the best possible version of yourself.

94. Making something for someone to show that you care – It’s easy to buy something for someone. Making something with love, passion and care is much harder. Go the extra mile and make something for the person that you love. Need ideas? Check out Pinterest.

95. Love yourself first – Before you fall in love with anyone else, make sure you’re in a good place. Learn to love yourself, including all of your awesomeness and your flaws. The more comfortable you are with yourself, the better you can love someone else.

96. Your word choice matters – Your words have a lot of power.

Version #1: “We have a problem with our project.”

Version #2: “We have an opportunity to fix things on this project.”

I feel a lot better hearing version #2. What about you?

97. Learn to let go – Sometimes you can’t fix things. Let it go.

98. Marry your best friend -You want someone who’s going to be there with you through the best and worst of times. Someone you can talk to all night or have a completely comfortable silence with. Someone who loves you for who you are.

99. Everyone has a story – Maybe someone was mean to you today. That sucks. But what if you found out it’s because they just learned about a tragedy in their family? It changes everything, doesn’t it? Just remember, everyone has their own story to tell.

100. Love – When all is said and done, all that you’ll really remember are the amazing people you’ve connected with and helped along the way. Love your friends. Love your family. Love your spouse. Love is all that matters. Love more.

I hope this list helps you live the best life possible.

What are you waiting for?

Go. Start. Now. Because it’s never too late to be amazing.

Best of luck,

Nelson

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Published on December 13, 2018

How to Start a Company from Scratch (A Step-By-Step Guide)

How to Start a Company from Scratch (A Step-By-Step Guide)

If you’ve ever thought about starting and running your own business, you’re not alone. Being your own boss, having flexibility with your schedule and keeping more of the financial rewards that come with business ownership are all good reasons to own your own company.

But as you might expect, it’s not all vacations and fat bank accounts. According to the SBA, 2/3 of businesses survive at least 2 years and approximately 50% survive 5 years.[1] So why is the failure rate so high? At least for the businesses that fail early on, lack of, or poor planning can be a major factor.

So how to start a company?

Starting a business from scratch doesn’t have to be hard or complicated, but it does take planning and work. Here are the first and most important 9 steps to take when your are starting a company from scratch.

1. Do an Honest Evaluation of Yourself

Do you work better in a structured or unstructured environment? Does a daily routine reduce your anxiety? What kinds of things are you good at? Does public speaking or making presentations make you nervous? Are you good at accounting and numbers? Can you handle the rejections you’re bound to get when selling or cold calling?

These are all important questions to ask yourself, in fact it’s a good idea to get other peoples opinion about their perception of you in each of these situations.

Whatever the answers you come up with for your evaluation, remember that’s all it is, an evaluation of where you are now. Think of it as a way to identify both your areas of strength and weaknesses.

You maybe good at public speaking which can help when raising money, but bad at accounting which just means that you’ll need to find some kind of help with that area of the business.

2. Evaluate Your Idea

If your business idea involves a new product or service (or even an enhancement to an existing product or service), it needs to be evaluated. This is technically called market research.

There are firms that specialize in doing market research for new products, but if you are on a tight budget, you can do this yourself.

First, if you can build a prototype for people to use, touch and look at that’s the best option. If a prototype is not possible or it’s a service business, then offer a highly descriptive presentation of the business plan complete with it’s unique benefits and how it’s different from the competition.

Then listen! Remember that this is not about others liking your product, this is not your baby that they are talking about. You want honest market research that gives you the best chance for a successful business. Take notes, when someone tells you that they didn’t like a feature or some aspect of your idea tell them ‘Thank you”.

After several rounds of market research with different groups of people, you should see patterns emerging about things that they both liked and didn’t like. Use this information to tweak your product or service and do another round of market research.

Keep in mind that you’ll never come up with a universally loved product, your job is to produce a product or service that appeals to the broadest range of your target market.

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3. Make a Business Plan

I know, I know this isn’t the “fun” part of starting your own business, but it is an very important step in creating a successful business!

Basically, you can think of a business plan as an outline or blueprint of your business. A good business plan should have the following elements:

  • Executive Summary – This should lay out the businesses product or service and the problem that it solves for the consumer.
  • Market Evaluation – This should talk about the market you are serving. Is it an expanding market, and how does your product better fulfill the consumers in that market.
  • Market Strategies – How are you going to penetrate the market and sell your product.
  • Operational Plan – How will the company run from day to day? Who are the key employees and what are their specific rolls. Do your key players have specific goals set for them in advance?

A final word on making a business plan: while lying is never acceptable especially when you are using the business plan to raise money, it is acceptable to “put your best foot forward”.

Playing up the positives while minimizing the negatives is almost expected in a business plan.

Besides, banks as well as professional investors will both do a more in-depth analysis before investing any money into your idea.

4. Decide on a Business Structure

You have many options here, and discussing them with your accountant or financial adviser is really the only way to know what’s right for you. But just to give you a quick rundown of the types of business entities and their pros and cons we will briefly go through them:

Sole Proprietorship

This is a common way for small businesses to get started.

The pros being:

Relatively low costs to set up (usually a business license and sales tax license).Owners normally do not have to set up a special bank account, they are allowed to use their personal one. Any income earned can be offset by other losses (check with your state!). You as the sole proprietor have complete control over all decision making. 

Finally, sole proprietorship’s are relative easy to dissolve.

The cons of using a sole proprietorship include:

You as the sole proprietor can be held personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the company. Some benefits, such as health insurance premiums, are not directly deductible from business income.

If you need to raise money, you are not allowed to sell an equity stake in the company. In that same vein, hiring key people maybe more difficult because you cannot offer them an equity stake in the company.

Partnership

A partnership is formed when two or more people decide to start a business. Although there is no legal requirement for any documentation to form a partnership, it is my advice that you never enter into a partnership without having a partnership agreement. (Remember, spending $1500 now can save you $150,000 in legal fees later!).

The pros of a partnership include:

Being relatively easy and inexpensive to start. Hiring key employees can be easier as you are allowed to give equity ownership to as many partners as you want.

For tax purposes, partnerships are relative simple as any income is treated as “pass through” meaning that each partner pays tax on their individual portion of the partnerships income (As of this writing, always check with your tax adviser).

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As far as the cons go:

It can be difficult for some general partnerships to raise capitol. Because it is a partnership, the actions of one of the partners can obligate the entire organisation. All profits must be shared according to the partnership agreement regardless of the amount of work done by any single partner.

Some employee benefits may not be able to be deducted on income tax returns.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

This is a very popular business entity for small to medium sized businesses. The reason for this is the cost of set up is not prohibitive and there is a separation between the owners and the company.

The pros of an LLC include:

Limited liability for the partners, unlike sole proprietorship’s and partnerships where the owners are held responsible for all of the companies debts and liabilities, an LLC provides some protection against certain debts and liabilities that are solely the companies.

Simple taxation, just like the sole proprietorship and partnerships, income is considered “pass through” and is only taxed once on an individual level.

There is no limit on the number of shareholders in an LLC. An LLC requires fewer fillings and administrative requirements than a corporation.

Corporation

A corporation is much more complex and expensive to set up. And a corporation is legally considered an independent entity that is separate from its owners.

The pros of a corporation include:

Complete separation between the owners and the company. Because the corporation is considered its own legal entity, owners can not be held personally responsible for any debts or liabilities of the company.

A corporation can raise capital much easier just by selling more shares in the company.

Cons of corporations include:

Much higher administrative costs than any other business entity. Corporations generally have a higher tax rate. Dividends are not tax deductible for corporations. Income paid in dividends is taxed twice, once by the corporation and again by the shareholder.

Again, this is just a short summary of the pros and cons, always check with your tax adviser about what will work best in your situation.

5. Address Finances

Again, not one of the “Sexier” parts of starting your business from scratch, but very important nonetheless.

So, you’ve done your business plan and an estimate of your start up funding should be included. It should include the amount of funding you’ll need to get you through your first full year of operations.

Now, how do you get that money?

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Self Funding

If possible, self funding is the easiest. You won’t have to go to banks and investors with hat in hand, or give up ownership or control of your company. But as we know, this is not a reality for most people. But don’t worry, there are still plenty of options available.

Friends and Family

They can be a good source of funding your business if they can see and understand your vision.

Remember that business plan? Pass them out to everyone you know. Then follow up, be prepared to tell them the total amount of money you expect to raise, the minimum investment you are looking for and what you will give in return for the investment.

For example, you give a friend your business plan and follow up with him/her a few days later. You can explain that you have secured funding for $80,000 of the $100,000 you need. You are selling a 2% share in the company for every $2,000 investment. How many shares would he like?

And when he/she tells you no, thank him/her and ask if he/she can think of anyone off the top of his head who might be interested? Tell him/her you really appreciate his/her time and if he/she does come across someone who might be interested to let you know.

Banks

These guys are happy to lend you money when you don’t need it, but all of the sudden they get stingy when you actually need a loan! This is where preparation comes in.

It’s a good idea to go over your business plan with an expert and maybe even have it rewritten by an expert before you approach either a bank or professional investor. Both will want to go over your business plan with a fine tooth comb, verifying all the numbers and data you provide.

You should also brush up on everything in the plan so that you can answer any questions they have with authority.

Crowdfunding

Finally, there is crowdfunding through sites like Kickstarter or GoFundMe. Crowdfunding helps to build interest, community spirit, and a customer base. It’s also an efficient way to raise funds. You can take a look at these tips to find out more:

6 Crowdfunding Tips To Get Your Project 100 Percent Funded

6. Register with the Government

As stated earlier, different types of business entities have different filling and administrative requirements. At the very least, you’ll probably need a business license as well as a state sales tax license.

Unless you are forming a corporation, there are many good resources on the web that will do everything for you at a minimal cost.

7. Assemble Your Team

Remember when we evaluated your strengths and weaknesses? Here is where we fill in the gaps!

Do you hate sales and cold calling? Great! There are people who love selling and wouldn’t want to do anything else.

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Bored to death with accounting? There are a ton of small accounting firms out there that will take care of that for you.

What about marketing? You can hire someone in-house or out-source that too.

Your job is to keep on top of all the different aspects of the business to make sure they are all running smoothly and getting the results you need. If not, it’s your job to figure out the problem and implement a solution.

Check out this guide and learn how to delegate effectively:

How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

8. Buy Insurance

No matter what kind of business you start, you need insurance! Yes, I know, no one likes to buy insurance, but it can literally be the difference between having a minor inconvenience and declaring bankruptcy.

We live in a very litigious time, even a minor slip and fall at your place of business could bankrupt you without insurance. If you need help finding a good agent, check with your local trade organizations or fellow business owners.

9. Start Branding Yourself

Has anyone ever ask you for a Kleenex or a QTip? We all know what they are because of branding, Kleenex is just a brand of tissue and QTip is just a brand of cotton swab. It doesn’t have to be as widely known as Kleenex or QTip, but you can make your brand a common name within your niche.

I once owned a manufacturing company that developed a product that was so popular that my competitors started co-opting my brand name for their products.

If you aren’t sure how to kickstart branding yourself, check out these ways:

5 Ways to Build your Personal Brand & Make More Money

The Bottom Line

Starting a business from scratch can be one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have.

But do you know what’s even more rewarding? Having a business that succeeds, is profitable and provides a good source of income for you, your employees and their family’s.

More Resources About Entrepreneurship

Featured photo credit: Tyler Franta via unsplash.com

Reference

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