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7 Success Hacks for Budding Entrepreneurs

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7 Success Hacks for Budding Entrepreneurs

Being your own boss can be both fun and rewarding but don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t hard work. Several years back I started my very first business, and the memories are still as vivid today as when it happened.

Indeed, I can recall the feeling that I had after filing my articles of incorporation with the Secretary of State. It was like, ‘So now that it’s official, what do I do now?’ Fortunately, I was very lucky to have made mistakes early enough to catch them and make my corrections. But it wasn’t easy. However, the good news is that today I’m going to let you know everything I wish I’d known then about what to do after starting a business. Let’s get started!

After you officially launch your business, it won’t be long before you find yourself wondering what to do next. If your launch is anything like mine, the weird thing about trying to map out a game plan isn’t necessarily that you don’t have anything to do. You might even find that there’s so much that just trying to decide what to do first triggers analysis paralysis.

If I could do it all over again here’s how I’d tackle my new business checklist.

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1. Ready Yourself for Growth and Success

While on the face of it managing growth might either

a) seem like a great problem to have or

b) like the type of problem that you only worry about when you’re actually facing it.

Nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, the irony of it is that quick, unexpected sales growth could be just as detrimental to your business as no revenues at all! If it all sounds a bit far-fetched, consider this news from one of the most widely recognized business publications in the world – the Harvard Business Review – which cited the inability to handle growth as one of the biggest problems faced by new businesses. To support this observation, they referenced several examples of startups who hurt themselves by not responding adequately to the unexpected growth.

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Here’s what you need to know about growth hacking for the unexpected.

If you haven’t already done so, you’ll want to be 100% certain that your method of production can be scaled; this applies both to companies who supply products or services. One way you can tell if you’re sufficiently capable of handling rapid growth is to ask yourself if your current production process could withstand 100 more orders – should they come in right now. If the answer is no, then you know that you need to scale your production procedure.

2. Have a Sales Team in Place

If you run a sales driven company, it’s critical that you find ways to generate sales – day in and day out. Without a doubt having a knowledgeable sales force in place to close deals is one of the best ways to achieve regular sales.

3. Become an Expert in Your Market

If you have a sound understanding of the fundamentals that drive sales for your industry, you’ll be in a position to stay a step ahead of the competition. One way to do this is to stay plugged into what’s going on in the industry. Of course, if you have an internet connection, it is remarkably easy to follow the trends that matter.

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While not everyone wants to prepare themselves to be ready for the worst, so many new companies go out of business because they weren’t ready to experience success.

4. Don’t Over-Rely on Your Company Launch for Sales

It’s so easy to adopt the mindset that your launch buzz will follow you into the post-launch phase. However, remember that this does not have to be the case and it usually isn’t. In fact, after that first round of PR wears off, you should prepare yourself to fight for every second or word of publicity that you receive.

Sadly, that initial buzz will wear off quicker than you think, so be ready. Another thing is that the sooner you internalize your new business’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP), the faster you can position yourself for long-term growth. Here are some things you can do to keep the sales rolling in longer after your initial launch.

Hire a professional sales person. Thanks to sites like Upwork and Freelancer, finding top sales talent is closer within reach than you probably thought. Nonetheless, it’s critical that you remember ever to be on the lookout for good talent in this area, as you never know when you may need to hire another sales person. Upon finding your sales pro, be prepared to train and equip them with a realistic quota.

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5. Maintain a Positive Outlook

Once you fully transition from being a startup to being a full-fledged business with a track record under your belt, it’s important that you maintain your enthusiasm. Why? There will be days where things simply don’t go your way and when they come it’s essential that you meet them head on.

6. Consistently Seek New Networking Opportunities

While you may have a core of customers that keeps the gears churning for your business, you never want to rely on them as you never know when they might disappear. The key to not being too dependent on long-standing customers is to acquire new customers on a regular basis.

So let this be a reminder always to be selling. But it won’t happen unless you make sales the focus of your business. And remember, it doesn’t matter how much success you’ve already achieved, so long as you intend to stay in business, you should always be bringing new customers onboard.

7. Additional Considerations for Your Startup

  • Connect with Like-minded People Online: Building a business can get lonely sometimes. Things can get so quiet that if you’re not careful, you could find yourself drifting into depression. One way to offset this is to find a community of others in your field that you can reach out to when you want to talk. An added benefit of employing this strategy is that it can sometimes help you find new customers as every now and then you may stumble across someone who refers you business because they’re too busy to take on new work.
  • Banking: Banking is something that you want to establish even before you start your business. If you haven’t already had an opportunity to build a banking relationship, now is the time to do so.
  • Decide Whether an Office is Necessary: Unlike years past where not having an office meant that you might not be taken seriously, in the present day and age, many businesses opt for a virtual presence. So depending on your market, a physical presence may not be necessary. However, if you work in an industry where your audience expects you to have a storefront or physical location, just know that there are options. For example, if you’re on a shoe-string budget, you can rent a shared space or something similar.
  • Establish a Web Presence. If you’re still using a free email provider for your email address, please stop as this is one of the best ways to brand yourself as a newcomer. Instead, get a branded email. They are now easier than ever to get and are often very affordable. The same can be said of your website. If you don’t already have a site, go ahead and build or order one now. In fact, even if you’re low on funds and don’t possess web design experience, starting a website has never been easier as most website builder platforms allow you to drag and drop.

There you have it. While this list certainly wasn’t meant to be comprehensive, it at least covers the key areas. Armed with this list of ‘to dos’ you should now have a clear idea of what to do next.

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Featured photo credit: readbrightly.com via readbrightly.com

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Last Updated on October 28, 2021

15 Strategies for an Effective To-Do List

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15 Strategies for an Effective To-Do List

One of the age-old productivity techniques around is the classic and effective to-do list, and for good reason. It’s one of the most productive ways for you and everyone else to get anything done. Whether it’s a mental list or something that you are writing down, a to-do list is an essential productivity tool.

At the same time, it is one of the most confusing productivity tools around. Many people discredit this for various reasons and don’t believe that a to-do list is any good. But my argument is that maybe you and other people aren’t making an effective to-do list, so here we will go over how to get one done right.

Why Is a To-Do List Important?

Before jumping into strategies to make an effective to-do list, it’s worth knowing why you should bother making one. The first important point is that many people have been making to-do lists all wrong.

Two of the most common mistakes are:

  • People use lists as a measurement of whether they are productive or not.
  • They put too many items on the list.

It’s understandable why you or other people do this, though. A to-do list is a productivity tool, so it makes sense to pile on tasks. However, the brain doesn’t work that way. If you have a lot of tasks on your list, it feels like torture as the list never ends.

At first, it can feel nice that you always have something to do, but keep in mind that you only have so much time in a day. It’s important that you place more value in quality work rather than sheer quantity.

On that same note, if you are someone who has a tendency to seek validation, a to-do list can be tough. There will be days where you won’t get everything done due to life events. This creates unnecessary pressure and sends you into a stress whirlwind.

When you build an effective to-do list, the main goal of these lists is to provide clarity and focus. If you’ve been doing them wrong, you may have noticed that you are focusing in on a task on your to do list and getting it done.

This may be overshadowed by the multiple items on your list, but you are focusing on a task during a given time. You really see this in action when you consider having a shorter to-do list, though.

I understand that a to-do list isn’t for every single person, but this focus is helpful to people when starting out. You’re still not certain about your goals or the path that you want to take. You may also struggle to determine the next step to work towards.

A to-do list is a guide you can refer back to it whenever you need it. Furthermore, the techniques that I’ll be mentioning below will make to-do lists more effective for you.

15 Strategies for an Effective To-Do List

So what should be on a to-do list? What is the best to-do list system?

You’ll begin to see how powerful a to-do list is when you consider the various strategies you can incorporate in one. This is your to-do list, so pick from the strategies below to find what suits you. If you’re not certain, don’t be afraid to experiment and mishmash several combinations.

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Remember that the road to success is one with many branching paths, so the methods you use are your choice.

1. Break the List Into Two Parts

The first strategy is to break a list into two parts. These two parts are called dailies and to do’s.

Dailies are the everyday tasks that you want to develop more. For example, if you want to make a habit out of exercising in the morning, a daily task could be following a 15-minute workout routine or going for an hour-long walk.

Your to do’s are non-daily tasks that you need to be getting done at some point. Maybe you need to prepare a report at work or make a presentation. You can put that into your to do column.

This is an effective strategy because it saves all the clutter that most people gravitate towards. As mentioned before, people stuff their lists, and a lot of it is usually tasks they you would do anyway, like going grocery shopping or dropping the kids off at a friend’s place.

2. Put a Limit on Items

If you find breaking your list into two parts too much, I’ll suggest brevity to be a virtue when making these lists. You can set any number of items, but the key is that you do have a set limit in mind. Some people have no more than seven while others go as low as three. Do what makes you feel comfortable.

The idea behind this is to narrow in on the most important tasks that you need to accomplish that day. Of course, there are other things that you’ll be doing during the day, and that’s fine, but you want to prioritize the items that on your to do list before the day is done.

3. Use Checklists for Complex Tasks

If you’re already making narrow lists but are putting in tougher tasks, my suggestion is to break that task down. Whether it’s full-on steps you need to take or jotting down important details that need to be present is up to you.

Either way, this allows you to ensure that you’re getting everything done the proper way and that you’re not missing any key details or steps.

4. Tackle MITs First

MIT is the “most important task.” Another way to look at this is to tackle the largest and most intimidating task first[1]. Why you want to do this goes back to how our brain works.

You may feel compelled to do the easier tasks first before getting to the bigger task, but the problem is that these tasks—even the easy ones—drain your energy. Furthermore, if you have a really big task to complete, chances are that’s going to be on your mind over the course of the day. That means you’re spending more energy just thinking about it.

All of that wouldn’t be a problem if that big intimidating task was dealt with first thing in the morning.

5. Create a “Done” List

Another interesting approach to consider is to have a “done” list. This is a list of the tasks that you’ve completed from your to-do list. Many people find it satisfying to merely cross an item off their list and be done with it, but depending on what you’re putting on those lists, a done list could be inspiring.

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Imagine if you are someone who places above-average difficult tasks on your to-do lists, activities that require an hour or two to complete properly. This can inspire you to do more if, after a day of working, you notice just how much you accomplished over the course of the day via this list.

6. Make Your List Easy to Spot

From colorful paper to posting it in an obvious spot, you want your list to be in a place where you can spot it easily. Mind you, you don’t need to have this list in front of you all the time as it could create unnecessary stress. But setting it to one side is a nice idea—a glance to the side and you know exactly what needs to get done.

7. Add Gaming Elements to It

If pen and paper isn’t your thing when making to-do lists, there are several apps that can guide you along as well. The beauty of to -do list apps is that there is more room for creativity, and some of the developers incorporate games into them.

For example, Todoist has an achievement system where individuals earn badges as they complete more tasks. There’s also Bounty Tasker, which makes you feel like your tasks are side quests in a video game.

8. Give Yourself Deadlines

Work expands to fill time allotted.

It’s an old philosophy that still rings true with how we are productive. For example, say you’re assigned to write a report, and you’re given a week to do it. You’ll likely work on it steadily throughout the week. Or if you’re a procrastinator, you’ll put it off until the night before and finish it.

But what if you’re given that same task and only allotted an hour to complete it? You’ll likely get the report done, but you’ll prioritize the main, important points and highlight those rather than fill it with unnecessary fluff.

The whole point of this is that with your goals and the items on your to-do list, you want to have deadlines. When it comes to to-do lists, my suggestion is to give yourself a day to complete the tasks there. This is enough pressure and incentive for you to work hard on them.

9. Add Tasks When They’re Fresh

Another strategy is to assign yourself tasks even when you are working on something else. Keep in mind it’s not something you have to do right now, but this can help with people who are struggling to think about what to focus on next.

This is along the same lines as when you hear something interesting and you write it down. It’s a wise thing to do as it saves you the bother of having to dwell on that idea rather than focusing on the task at hand. It also saves you from having to recall what the task is if you’re the type to write up the next day’s to-do list at the end of the day.

10. Be Comfortable With Revising Your To-Do List

Depending on your overall mindset, another good strategy is to look at your to-do list and make changes to it. If you’re practicing the previous strategy, there may be a possibility that your to-do list is getting lengthy and you’re setting unrealistic expectations that you can finish it all.

By giving yourself the opportunity to revise your to-do list, your allowing yourself to spread out your tasks rather than have them clumped up. This helps your mindset as you’re not overwhelmed by the list.

11. Write Tasks, Not Goals

You should have separate lists for your tasks and your goals. The idea is to not put goals on your task list at all.

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While tasks can help you lead to your goals, goals are larger desires and not something that you can achieve over the course of the day. For example, “learn to speak French” is a goal; however, you can break that into a task by saying “read French content for 15 minutes” or “watch a movie in French.”

This also extends to objectives, too. You can see these as milestones. Going back to the example of speaking French, an objective can be, “discuss my favorite foods with someone in French.” It’s the desired outcome that you’re looking for from your practice.

12. Keep To-Do Lists Brief

Here, brief means scannable in that you can quickly look over at the list and know what needs to get done. How you can do this is by focusing on the keywords of specific tasks and not dragging them out. For example, say your garage is a mess and you want to clean it up. Instead of writing a lengthy sentence, keep it short and write something like “clean garage for 30 min.” or simply “clean garage.”

With this strategy, you’re spending less time writing the task down when making the to-do list. Furthermore, you’re relying on trigger words to get your mind to recall specific details for that task.

13. Have Multiple Lists

As mentioned above, it’s a good idea to have separate lists for various things, like having a separate list for goals, objectives, daily tasks, and to-do’s. Another way you can look at it is to have a system where you are consulting from three lists.

These lists are:

A Master List

This is where any of your long-term goals are, things like moving to a new house, getting out of debt, or building a business. These are things that will take a year or more to accomplish.

A Weekly Project List

These are things that you want to accomplish by the end of the week. These are things that will move the needle slowly towards some of the items on your master list. From the previous example, these could be doing research on getting a business loan, house hunting, or setting up a savings account.

A High-Impact List

Lastly, these are tasks that need to be accomplished today. Whether they are related to the previous two lists or not doesn’t matter. This is where high priority tasks are placed. Examples can be calling specific people or working on a project or a report that’s due soon.

By having these lists in place, you’ll be referring often to the weekly project list and the high-impact list and determining whether a weekly task should be moved to that list.

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As you do that, you’ll begin to notice how much your daily life has an impact on those goals that are written on that master list. That can be inspiring since what you are doing is actively bringing you closer to your goals.

14. Don’t Ramp up Difficulty Until You’re Ready

Some of the strategies mentioned can seem easy on the surface, but they require a lot of mental fortitude. Motivation is an unusual thing, and our brains are wired to process a certain way. If you’re looking for genuine change and something that sticks, the best principle is to keep things simple and easy at first.

It may be a drag, but you don’t often realize how those baby steps can play a crucial role in you being able to start running and chasing your dreams. Don’t be ashamed if you have to start off with simple tasks for yourself. Even going back to daily tasks that you do anyway like showering, doing the laundry or shopping for food is a good way to start.

Putting those items on the list at first makes you feel like you’ve had a productive day. From there, you can challenge yourself with more difficult tasks. Incorporate an exercise routine or spend a half-hour on a task that means something to you.

The idea is to ease yourself into a routine so you don’t feel overwhelmed.

15. Measure Your Time

The last strategy that can help you is to measure your time. How long does it take you to finish a specific task? You don’t need to go for specifics, but make a point of timing yourself over the course of a week and get the average time spent on that task.

Why is this important? This information can be broken down in two ways.

The first way is to use it as a marker to boost efficiency. Depending on the task, you can find new ways to achieve the same results in a shorter time.

It also allows you to know what you can do in a given day. If you know that it takes you an hour or so to go through your entire morning routine, you’ll be more conscious about how you move through that routine.

Furthermore, if you know what tasks you’ll be doing the next day, you can better manage your time since you know roughly how much time it’ll take to get everything done.

Final Thoughts

Building an effective to-do list is not as easy as it seems.

There are all kinds of unique strategies to try out, some more challenging that others. However, if you are motivated to use this productivity tool to make your life easier, then it will get easier.

All that you need to do is keep putting effort and experiment and reevaluate when necessary. So get started with your to-do lists today.

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More Tips on Using an Effective To-Do List

Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews Digital Content Production via unsplash.com

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