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How to Grow Your Small Business in Any Economy, Part 1

How to Grow Your Small Business in Any Economy, Part 1

    Think your small business can’t grow in this economy? You’re wrong. Improving your mindset and minimizing your risk are possible in all economies.

    If you pay attention to the media and get sucked into an “economic panic,” you might think that trying to grow a business in today’s economy is a crazy notion. But many of the companies you know and trust were started in economic conditions much like the ones we’re experiencing today. Disney, Johnson & Johnson and Microsoft were all started during recessions. The economic conditions in which they were started didn’t doom them to failure.

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    But let’s face it: Small business is multi-faceted and as such, requires a multi-faceted approach. What you’re thinking and how you’re thinking have as much of an impact on the level of your success as anything else, especially for the small business owner.

    That’s why this week I’m focusing on getting your head in the right place for small business success. Next week, I’ll move on to logistics and strategies for minimizing risk and growing your business.

    Let’s start off with a conversation about where most small business owners start getting into trouble. It all starts at home, right in the brain, especially in an economy like this.

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    Lack-Based Thinking

    Lack-based thinking is when you think things like: “I can’t afford….” “I don’t know how I’m going to pay for….” It’s all about fear, uncertainty and self-doubt.

    Lack-based thinking constantly hammers away at the mindset you need to succeed. You won’t have the drive to succeed or put your dollars in the right places if you have “I can’t afford it” floating around in your head. Focus on making a shift so you can start putting your mind and your money where they can bring you back the most return.

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    Strategies to Make the Shift

    Develop and Use Affirmations:

    The first thing that you can do to start making the shift out of lack-based thinking is to use affirmations. This is just good psychology: in essence, you’re re-training your brain. To get started, make a list of affirmations or declarations and say them aloud every day, at least three times a day, for 30 days. If you miss a day, start over at Day 1. It’s absolutely imperative that you do this continuously, without a break, for 30 days. Research shows that’s how long it takes your brain to retrain itself, so if you do something for two weeks, miss a day, and then start up again, even if you do it for another two weeks, your brain won’t be retrained. It has to be 30 consecutive days, without missing a day.

    The best way to get into this habit is to decide on Day 1 that you are fully, 100 percent committed to taking this action. Don’t accept any excuses from yourself.

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    Focus on the Larger Purpose:

    Maybe you started a business so you could travel the world or just so you could relax, knowing you have money invested for a long and enjoyable retirement. Create tangible reminders of the reason you started down this path: a vision board, a picture, or a bold statement posted in your workspace. Reaffirm what you’re working toward and you’ll find a continuously renewed will to keep going.

    Track Your Successes:

    Stay focused on the positive by keeping track of your successes, even the small ones. Make a list and review them every morning and evening. This focuses your attention on what you’re doing right and keeps you concentrated on moving in a positive direction.

    Once you get your brain engaged for success, you’ll be in a much better position to take action and achieve your goals and dreams.

    Stay tuned: In Part 2, I’ll cover some of the best strategies for growing your business in any economic climate.

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    Last Updated on April 8, 2019

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    Unless you’re infinitely rich or prepared to rack up major debt, you need to budget your income. Setting limits on how much you are willing to spend helps control expenses. But what about your time? Do you budget your time or spend it carelessly?

    Deadlines are the chronological equivalent of a budget. By setting aside a portion of time to complete a task, goal or project in advance you avoid over-spending. Deadlines can be helpful but they can also be a source of frustration if set improperly. Here are some tips for making deadlines work:

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    1. Use Parkinson’s Law – Parkinson’s Law states that tasks expand to fill the time given to them. By setting a strict deadline in advance you can cut off this expansion and focus on what is most important.
    2. Timebox – Set small deadlines of 60-90 minutes to work on a specific task. After the time is up you finish. This cuts procrastinating and forces you to use your time wisely.
    3. 80/20 – The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of the value is contained in 20% of the input. Apply this rule to projects to focus on that critical 20% first and fill out the other 80% if you still have time.
    4. Project VS Deadline – The more flexible your project, the stricter your deadline. If a task has relatively little flexibility in completion a softer deadline will keep you sane. If the task can grow easily, keep a tight deadline to prevent waste.
    5. Break it Down – Any deadline over one day should be broken down into smaller units. Long deadlines fail to motivate if they aren’t applied to manageable units.
    6. Hofstadter’s Law – Basically this law states that it always takes longer than you think. A rule I’ve heard in software development is to double the time you think you need. Then add six months. Be patient and give yourself ample time for complex projects.
    7. Backwards Planning – Set the deadline first and then decide how you will achieve it. This approach is great when choices are abundant and projects could go on indefinitely.
    8. Prototype – If you are attempting something new, test out smaller versions of a project to help you decide on a final deadline. Write a 10 page e-book before your 300 page novel or try to increase your income by 10% before aiming to double it.
    9. Find the Weak Link – Figure out what could ruin your plans and accomplish it first. Knowing the unknown can help you format your deadlines.
    10. No Robot Deadlines – Robots can work without sleep, relaxation or distractions. You aren’t a robot. Don’t schedule your deadline with the expectation you can work sixteen hour days to complete it. Deathmarches aren’t healthy.
    11. Get Feedback – Get a realistic picture from people working with you. Giving impossible deadlines to contractors or employees will only build resentment.
    12. Continuous Planning – If you use a backwards planning model, you need to constantly be updating plans to fit your deadline. This means making cuts, additions or refinements so the project will fit into the expected timeframe.
    13. Mark Excess Baggage – Identify areas of a task or project that will be ignored if time grows short. What e-mails will you have to delete if it takes too long to empty your inbox? What features will your product lack if you need a rapid finish?
    14. Review – For deadlines over a month long take a weekly review to track your progress. This will help you identify methods you can use to speed up work and help you plan more efficiently for the future.
    15. Find Shortcuts – Almost any task or project has shortcuts you can use to save time. Is there a premade library you can use instead of building your own functions? An autoresponder to answer similar e-mails? An expert you can call to help solve a problem?
    16. Churn then Polish – Set a strict deadline for basic completion and then set a more comfortable deadline to enhance and polish afterwards. Often churning out the basics of a task quickly will require no more polishing afterwards than doing it slowly.
    17. Reminders – Post reminders of your deadlines everywhere. Creating a sense of urgency with your deadlines is necessary to keep them from getting pushed aside by distractions.
    18. Forward Planning – Not mutually exclusive with backwards planning, this involves planning the details of a project out before setting a deadline. Great for achieving clarity about what you are trying to accomplish before making arbitrary time limits.
    19. Set a Timer – Get one that beeps. Somehow the countdown of a timer appears more realistic for a ninety minute timebox than just glancing at your clock.
    20. Write them Down – Any deadline over a few hours needs to be written down. Otherwise it is an inclination not a goal. Having written deadlines makes them more tangible than internal decisions alone.
    21. Cheap/Fast/Good – Ben Casnocha in My Start Up Life mentions that you can have only have two of the three. Pick two of the cheap/fast/good dimensions before starting a project to help you prioritize.
    22. Be Patient – Using a deadline may seem to be the complete opposite of patience. But being patient with inflexible tasks is necessary to focus on their completion. The paradox is that the more patient you are, the more you can focus. The more you can focus the quicker the results will come!

    Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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