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The Success Secrets of Entrepreneurs You Need To Know

The Success Secrets of Entrepreneurs You Need To Know

The success secrets of entrepreneurs actually aren’t as secret as you think.  In order to be successful as an entrepreneur, you first need to understand what type of entrepreneur you are.  There are two primary types of entrepreneurs – those that have created their own businesses in reaction to their life and those that create business from inspired vision and action.  Reactionary entrepreneurs got fed-up with working for someone else. They are dollars driven and fear-based.  They want to have their own business because they’re tired of reporting to someone else and fantasize about making more money than they could in their day job.

Then there are inspired entrepreneurs.  They have an inspired vision, are fearless in negotiating unchartered territory, and love the entrepreneurial lifestyle. Risk-taking comes naturally to them, they know how to be in the unknown, and the more they integrate themselves with their businesses the more success they experience.

These 15 success secrets can transform a reactionary entrepreneur into an inspired entrepreneur

1.  Be conscious.

Here’s the deal: understanding your business means understanding yourself.  If you don’t intimately know what motivates you, depresses you, inspires you, or diminishes you, you cannot be successful as an entrepreneur.  Consciousness is gold to an entrepreneur because it allows us to move from being reactive to being proactive.  If you understand why you respond the way you to to the things that happen in your business, you can consciously make a choice to respond differently.

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2.  Embrace the unknown.

A lot of entrepreneurs say they like the excitement of living in the unknown and charting uncharted territory, but the reality for many is that when the mortgage is due, when your car needs emergency service, or when your child gets sick and you can’t afford to pay for health insurance then living in unknown stops being fun.  How do you respond when you have a bill you don’t know how to pay?  Is it, “Oh my God, how will I ever pay this?” or “Now I know how much money I need to earn this week.”  Your mindset around the unknown will affect your success as an entrepreneur.

3.  Take inspired action.

Most of my inspired action gets generated not when I’m in front of my laptop or networking.  It shows up when I’m walking my dogs, washing dishes or folding laundry.  It is the small, quiet whisper that floats through my mind. It is, unconditionally, an easier, better, quicker way to get the results I want.  It is also, unconditionally, an out-of-the-box approach I wouldn’t have considered while strategizing in front of my laptop. Out-of-the-box thinking generates success for an entrepreneur.

4.  Define the vision and stick to it.

This is not the time to daydream about Plan B if Plan A doesn’t work out.  Ensuring Plan A’s success requires perseverance and focus.  Million dollar businesses don’t happen overnight.  You have to be willing to live in the muck of creating your business in order to generate long-term, sustainable results. If you are sure that Plan A is a viable business plan, and if you’ve got support for making it happen, stick with it long enough to see what kind of results it can generate.

5.  Define success.

Define what success means to you, and not just financially.  Take a holistic approach to understanding your definition of success.  Does it mean that you will have a balanced lifestyle, working 20 hours a week or less so you have time to care for yourself and your family? Does it mean creating an automated system for your business so you can run it from anywhere in the world and travel as much as you like?  Define what you want your life to be like and that will help you create goals for achieving success.

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6.  Understand your mindset.

“Success isn’t something that you do on the outside, success is something that you are on the inside. The rest will follow.”Chuck Danes

Know your limiting beliefs. Do you believe it isn’t possible to have your cake and eat it too? Do you believe you don’t deserve to have a lot of money? Do you believe that you aren’t qualified enough to run your own business or offer the product/service you’re marketing?  Everyone has limiting beliefs.  Get to know yours.  Get into right-relationship with them so they no longer dictate your decision-making.

7.  Embrace change.

Wake up in the morning delighted to learn how your life will change that day.  Change is fun for inspired entrepreneurs.  What wasn’t working today paves the path for something else that could work better tomorrow.  When change needs to happen welcome it with open arms.  Build a vision for your business and then be willing to be flexible for how that vision unfolds.  You may be surprised by the results generated when change happens.

8.  Work smarter instead of harder.

Take the offensive instead of the defensive stance.  Ask yourself, what do you need to change in order to get your business moving in a different direction in an area that isn’t working?  It’s the difference between patching a leaking dam because you’re afraid of getting flooded and recognizing that the dam isn’t where you want to be in the first place.  Reactionary thinking leads to a lot of needless action in order to address limiting beliefs.  Offensive thinking leads to inspired action and elimination of limiting beliefs.

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9.  Know your feelings.

Staying in your head all of the time actually doesn’t benefit you as an entrepreneur.  Getting in touch with your intuition (that guttural, knowing place in you) and activating your intuition will radically increase your level of success as an entrepreneur.  Staying in your head and trying to think through everything logically will slow you down, confuse you, and keep you from being able to see the bigger picture.  Going with your gut will save you time, will build your self-confidence, and will keep your business moving forward.

10.  Yep, feelings, again.

Cultivate more feelings and less strategy.  Be in the feeling of being successful.  There is not a cause and effect for success. We’re trained to think: If I get this thing, then I’ll be fulfilled. You have to be fulfilled, and then you’ll get this thing.  Like attracts likes.  If you feel confident, you will experience more confidence.

11.  Expect the unexpected.

I am continually surprised by the directions my business takes and how I have transformed in my journey of being an entrepreneur.  I have stopped assuming that I will know what my business will look like this time next year, and I have stopped assuming what I will be like at that time.

12.  Learn to love the journey.

To be an inspired entrepreneur you must unequivocally love the entrepreneurial journey.  In this lifestyle there will never be traditional safety and security.  You will never be able to definitively predict your income.  You will always be learning new things about yourself and your business.  You will always experience unexpected challenges.  Loving the journey and living in the unknown will be your only safety and security.  Inspired entrepreneurs know and accept that reality.

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13.  Treat your business like a newborn.

A new business, or business idea is like a newborn.  Newborns need to be held close, to have absolute attention given to them, and to be supported in every possible way.  Do the same in your business.  Do not expose your business to negativity.  Hold it close.  Allow your business ideas time to gestate before exposing them to the dark, dangerous world.

14.  Create your own acknowledgement and celebration.

It is a habit of many entrepreneurs to always be focused on the next goal, instead of acknowledging and celebrating the goal that has just been met.  You are your own best (and sometimes only) cheerleader.  Taking the time to acknowledge and celebrate each and every goal will help to motivate you to continue to move forward, and, more importantly, to recognize how far you have already come.

15.  Start.

Stop daydreaming about your business idea. Start taking bold action to make your business a reality.  Your business begins with you.

After reading all this you may be saying to yourself, yes, but how do you actually be a successful entrepreneur? All this stuff about feelings and mindset are interesting, but what do I really need to DO in order to be successful?  Here’s the thing: 90 percent of the coaching work I do with entrepreneurial clients is around feelings and mindset.  Why? Because that’s 90 percent of what makes an entrepreneur successful.  The remaining 10 percent is implementation.  If you’re serious about being a successful entrepreneur then hire a coach, mentor, or join a mastermind group, and start taking a serious look at your mindset and your feelings.

Featured photo credit: John via flickr.com

More by this author

Emma Churchman

Emma is a Creative Business Consultant, and Leadership Coach & Trainer

How to Live a Stress Free Life in a Way Most People Don’t 10 Things No One Will Tell You About Being an Entrepreneur When You Erase Your Limits, These 10 Amazing Things Will Happen The Success Secrets of Entrepreneurs You Need To Know 5 Ways to Live the Life of Your Dreams Right Now

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Last Updated on December 3, 2020

15 Strategies for an Effective To-Do List

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 Bother With an Effective To-Do List?

You’ve Been Using Them Wrong

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.

It Helps You Stay Focused

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

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.

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

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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.

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.

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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.

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.”

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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.

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.

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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.

More Tips on Using an Effective To Do List

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

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