Stop procrastinating, just do it!

It’s still early in the new year but do you find you are still in vacation mode, not quite on your game yet and inevitably thinking you can put off fulfilling certain key tasks until tomorrow, or next week, or next month? Procrastination really is a negative hurdle that gets in the way of achieving success, so to start this new year in the right spirit, it’s better to get focused on the doing, not the excuse making. And let’s face it, procrastinating always takes more effort, particularly as it makes us feel guilty about what we should be doing. The well known US motivational speaker and writer, Denis Waitley, said: “Procrastination is the fear of success. People procrastinate because they are afraid of the success that they know will result if they move ahead now. Because success is heavy, it carries a responsibility with it, it is much easier to procrastinate and live on the ‘someday I’ll’ philosophy.” Wise words, but have you also noticed that when you focus and you are very near to completing a particular task, you are motivated to reach the finish line? So what are you waiting for, stop procrastinating, just do it! 

Read More

Give your creativity a boost through collaboration

As entrepreneurs, we have probably all been there at some time or another - that point where our creativity in business seems to hit a roadblock and we are devoid of new ideas or new ways of doing things. However, there is no need to panic in these situations. One of the best ways of giving your creativity a real boost is through collaboration and bouncing ideas off other people who each bring something different to the table - and then it’s amazing how often new ideas emerge. As the hugely creative musician and entrepreneur Pharrell Williams says: “Collaborate with people you can learn from.” If you can open your mind and embrace the power of collaboration and being open to continually learning from others, then great things can be achieved. Collaboration is the spark which ignites innovative, out of the box thinking as a result of being surrounded with like-minded people who constantly push the envelope.

Read More

Keep your eye on the big picture this year

At the start of a new year it seems like there is all the time in the world to get things done, to create the next product, to build a brand, etc. But it’s easy to lose sight of what you are working towards with so much going on - it’s essential to keep the big picture in focus at all times. So do what the most successful entrepreneurs around the world do - check your day to day tasks and how you prioritize them by allocating them to a key goal you have to achieve as part of your big picture thinking. This requires discipline, but your business will thank you for it, as you will be constantly checking your actions in line with what the business needs you to achieve in order to thrive and grow. As Virgin founder, Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group says, “Keep your eye on the bigger picture, but don't slip on attention to detail.”

Read More

There is no such thing as impossible

How often do you hear people say “it’s impossible” when faced with a difficulty in life or a hurdle in business? Probably more often than you would like, but in the world of entrepreneurship, nothing is impossible. It might be hard (very hard at times), it will often be challenging, it will possibly test your willpower to the limits, but the chances are it won’t be impossible. It’s all a matter of how you look at life and how you approach it. The legendary boxer, Muhammad Ali, had an inspirational take on the subject, and was definitely an example of someone who defied the notion of impossible. He famously said:  “Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” Words to inspire the next time you think something on your entrepreneurial journey is impossible.

Read More

Marketing to customers is an important daily habit

If there is one thing we can never take for granted, it’s our customers. They are hard won, valued and hard to get back if we lose them. We need to take great care of the customers we have, and we constantly need to be on the lookout for our next customers who might be interested in what we have to sell. But we can’t just expect them to come and find us, just because we think we have great products or services to offer - it takes work, hard work, and constant work. Think about it - in our personal lives, we wouldn’t spend huge amounts of time, effort and money organizing the most wonderful party, and then not actively invite people to attend, instead just expecting them to hear about it by word of mouth and then come along. But often entrepreneurs underestimate the amount of time required to market to customers each and every day, in order to ensure the pipeline of orders and work continues to flow, and the company grows as a result. Consistent marketing to customers is an important habit to create, and like most habits, it needs to happen each and every day without fail in order to make the biggest impact. The marketplace is full of sales noise, competitors vying for ears, eyes and attention, and its essential that we ensure our brands, products and services are kept top of mind amongst the existing customers we are trying to keep or the new ones we are trying to win over. Make customer marketing your daily habit - your business will thank you for it.

Read More

Stop worrying that someone is going to steal your idea, just launch!

One of the topics that comes up perhaps most often at our monthly Lioness Lean In Breakfast events around the continent is the fear experienced by startups that someone will come along and steal your idea. And yet as I often share in these conversations, this should not be your biggest worry as a startup. In fact, how to practically turn your idea into a viable business proposition, and getting it launched quickly into the marketplace, should be your real concern. I was reminded of this fact when I was reading an article which featured a quote by Sean Parker, the founder of Napster.  He said: “Your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur is not concealing your idea from others or keeping your idea a secret, it is actually convincing people that you’re not crazy and that you can pull this off.” He’s so right - this is the real challenge to be overcome. So, stop worrying that someone is going to steal your idea and instead, build it, launch it, and refine it once it is out there - after all, the biggest advantage comes from being first to market. 

Read More

The art of learning how to live in the moment

How many times are we asked by people questions such as: so what’s next?; where to now?; what’s your next big plan/project?; how do you top what you achieved last year? It seems as there is never a time to actually enjoy the moment we are in, the current stage we have reached on our entrepreneurial journeys. But the point is, our lives do not have to be about constantly chasing the next goal, or the next seemingly out of reach target. We can take the time to simply enjoy where we are right now. As the internationally renowned author and speaker, Dr Wayne Dyer, said on the subject: “Present-moment living, getting in touch with your now, is at the heart of effective living. When you think about it, there really is no other moment you can live. Now is all there is, and the future is just another present moment to live when it arrives.” Something to think about as we journey through our own entrepreneurial lives. Enjoy living in the moment! 

Read More

Take time to compliment your fellow women entrepreneurs

At a human level, we all know how wonderful it makes us feel to receive a compliment about our businesses, our brands and the products and services we are creating and delivering. And as entrepreneurs, we know how much hard work goes into building a successful business, or developing and launching a new product. Therefore, it’s great to receive recognition and appreciation for what we are doing. But it is particularly rewarding when our fellow entrepreneurs give us feedback and positively comment on our businesses, or the innovations behind our new products and services. After all, they know only too well the trials and tribulations, the tears shed, the hours and hours of sheer hard graft behind the scenes to get to that point. That’s why it’s important to take time to compliment and appreciate our fellow women entrepreneurs. Not only that, did you know that when you give a genuine and heartfelt compliment to someone, your body experiences a biochemical reaction of so called ‘happy chemicals’, such as oxytocin and serotonin, and that’s why it feels great to give a compliment, as well as receive one. So, go ahead and make another woman entrepreneur’s day today!

Read More

Building a brand is everyone’s responsibility in the business

Do you remember the days when the job of building a brand for a business was the sole responsibility of external consultants and specialists, together with a small number of executives in the boardroom? If you have ever worked inside a big corporate, then this will undoubtedly resonate. However, for the entrepreneur, particularly the startup busy building a brand from the ground up, usually with a small budget but big ideas, this is no longer the case. Today, it’s the responsibility of everyone in the business, from the founders to the employees who are along for the exciting startup ride. It’s still great to have expert input and advice from the brand specialists, particularly if they are also startups and know only too well how to maximize creative ideas and equally creativebudget conscious spend and are prepared to walk-the-walk with you. But gone are the days  of remote branding experts controlling a company’s brand-building efforts from behind closed doors - today, successful brand-building is the responsibility of everybody in the business - from the CEO to the sales team. It’s all about creating the best customer experience, making every brand touchpoint count, and everyone inside the company or contributing to it, has a key role to play.

Read More

The art of list making to stop us procrastinating

I don’t know about you, but I am the ultimate list-maker - I love writing them and fastidiously ticking off the actions, one by one as they are completed. It not only makes me feel better, particularly on those days where there just seem to be too many things to be achieved in an impossibly small amount of time, but it also increases my productivity. However, as an entrepreneur, there is always a danger with list-making that they never actually get completed, just added to constantly, and therefore they become more of a burden than a help. So, here are some tips to help you get those to-do lists completed. Firstly, break large tasks into smaller pieces, thereby making them easier to complete on deadline. Secondly, prioritize all the actions on the list - use the 80/20 principle - work out what is going to deliver 80% of the impact for 20% of the effort. Thirdly, plan ahead to maximize your efficiency and that of your teams. Finally, keep your to-do lists realistic and achievable. Ultimately, it’s all about the planning and the prioritizing - happy list-making!

Read More

Getting the brand message across through personality and sincerity

I was walking through Manhattan during the holidays and seeing the vast numbers of shoppers on the streets, all proudly carrying their branded store tote bags giving a hint of the good things contained inside. But it’s so much more than that. The way these brands create a story through their tote bags and generate real customer loyalty along the way is really interesting. Take for example the hugely successful Toms shoe brand, which has built a huge customer following as a result of its strong philanthropic messaging and its sincere goodwill. It’s branded tote bags over the holidays carried the ethos of the company through its messaging - ‘for one, another’. Toms donates a pair of shoes to a needy child for every pair purchased by a customer. The donation scheme is not a publicity stunt; it’s the solid foundation of the company and the brand, its at the heart of its personality. Customers identify with that ethos and want to feel part of it, hence their pride at carrying the brand and messaging on the tote bags that accompany their purchases. Building brand loyalty is hard, but if there is a key take-out from the Toms and other brand tote stories, it’s that customers want to identify with and support brands that reflect their own personalities, desires and concerns. Tapping into that customer consciousness with real sincerity is key in a highly competitive and often cynical brand environment. 

Read More

Perseverance is an essential trait to have as entrepreneurs

Watching the political shifts currently underway in the US, post election, and hearing all the commentary and analysis of Barack Obama’s presidency now that it is coming to an end, serves up some interesting lessons that can be applied to the world of entrepreneurship. One of those lessons is about the power of perseverance, and having the ability to pursue a dream, no matter how hard the journey, how many obstacles and challenges are put in the way, or how many failures are experienced in pursuit of success. In the words of Barack Obama, he said on the subject:  "The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won't. It's whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere.” In business, just as in politics, perseverance is an essential part of the journey, and it’s important to remember that there are very few instances of ‘instant success’ - it is usually hard earned over a long period of time.

Read More

Making the most of our precious time as entrepreneurs

Steve Jobs once said: “My favourite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.” How true, and as entrepreneurs we know just how precious time is and how we need to maximize our time and effort to make the biggest difference in our lives and businesses. Yet it’s not all about imposing impossible deadlines on ourselves - it’s more about how we manage our time more effectively. It’s human nature to adjust our efforts to fit the parameters and deadlines we set for ourselves, which can sometimes mean that we procrastinate and take the maximum time we have allowed for us to complete set tasks, instead of just getting the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible. So if we are genuinely going to make the most of our precious time as entrepreneurs, perhaps we should concentrate more on completing tasks as they arise, getting them out of the way, and then freeing up our time to do things that we really enjoy and which contribute to our quality of life and the future growth and development of our businesses. 

Read More

Do the work you love and success will follow

I am a great believer that, as an entrepreneur, if you do something you love and have a passion for, then success in business and in life has a much better chance of following. I was reminded of this when I read a great quote by Oprah Winfrey on this subject, who said: “What I know for sure is that if you want to have success, you can’t make success your goal. The key is not to worry about being successful, but to instead work toward being significant – and the success will naturally follow… If you do work that you love, and work that fulfills you, the rest will come. And, I truly believe, that the reason I’ve been able to be so financially successful is because my focus has never, ever for one minute been money. Would you do your job and not be paid for it? I would do this job, and take on a second job just to make ends meet if nobody paid me. That’s how you know you are doing the right thing.” Great words to inspire!

Read More

Why sharing your values as an entrepreneur is important to the business

Today, consumers are becoming much more aware of value driven business and make conscious purchasing decisions based on their sharing of key values. Therefore, in an increasingly competitive world where so many brands and businesses are competing for marketshare and share of voice, it’s becoming more important than ever to tell the world what you and your brand stand for. The CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, nicely summarized the connection when he said: “If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.”The question is, are you ready and on-script with your story? Your brand’s story has to resonate with consumers in a way that creates a tangible and emotional connection. Your brand needs to demonstrate and communicate that it really “gets” who they are and what they need, that the values underpinning your brand resonate with the consumers you are looking to get on side. So, if you haven’t articulated your own brand values, then now is a good time to do just that.

Read More

There’s nothing quite as life affirming as being your own boss

Have you asked yourself recently why you became an entrepreneur? Do you remember that lightbulb moment, the one that switched on your business idea and turned you into the entrepreneur you are today? Do you remind yourself why you are actually working all these hours when perhaps your friends and family are doubting your life choices? It’s good to keep reflecting on this journey we are on as entrepreneurs, particularly on the tough days. We all know that entrepreneurship isn’t easy and certainly not for sissies - and there are arguably lots of easier ways to earn a living (as perhaps your friends and relatives will tell you on a regular basis!). But let’s face it, there is nothing quite as empowering or life affirming than to be your own boss, to build that successful business or brand, to create an exciting new product or concept and launch it out into the world. Something to keep reminding yourself about!

Read More

Take time to appreciate where you are now on your entrepreneurial journey

Success is all about having the right mindset and if you listen to those entrepreneurs who have made it in life and in entrepreneurship, they share a really positive attitude to their lives and business building ventures. But it all starts with mindset. They will tell you that the road to success starts with being in the right headspace, knowing how to master their minds first and foremost to prepare themselves for what lies ahead, good and bad. They start with learning how to appreciate where they are right now on their entrepreneurial journeys and what it has taken to get there. They have realized that the best place to start on the next leg is exactly where they are today. They also know that it’s essential to have end goals and aspirations, but to be truly successful and to adopt an ‘anything’s possible’ approach, it starts by taking the time to appreciate the road already travelled. It’s a good lesson to learn.

Read More

Learning the art of self management as entrepreneurs

I was reading a really interesting social media post earlier today which I am sure will make lots of sense to all those entrepreneurs, particularly startups, who have to get the art of daily time management right in business. The article looked at entrenching good habits, particularly around making the most of creative time - the notion of being a maker in the morning and a manager in the afternoon. It makes sense if you think about it. As your own boss and manager of your time, you have to maximize your most creative hours when you are at your freshest, usually the morning when your energy levels are at their height. It then makes sense to tackle the more menial, administrative tasks in the business in the latter part of the day in the afternoon and early evening. However, this approach does take a certain amount of self discipline. For example, making it a rule not to constantly monitor your smartphone for messages or social media activity, and to ignore emails or restrict them appearing on your screens and mobile devices by restricting internet access or through apps like SelfControl. Learning the art of self management is one of the keys to success as entrepreneurs, but it is worth all the effort when you see the results.

Read More

The art of stopping procrastination hampering our productivity

At some point, given the busy lives we all lead, the chances are we all knowing what we should be doing to maximize our productivity each day, but we can’t help putting things off. We tell ourselves we can do it later, tomorrow, next week, and we add it to our ever growing ‘to do’ list - but the problem is the list keeps getting longer and some things just never get done. The fact is that procrastination is a real productivity killer, and to be successful, we need to be as productive as we can during the time we allocate each day to our businesses. Instead of creating ‘to do’ lists that never actually get done because we simply tick off a few easy quick wins from the list and never get around to doing the tough stuff, we should instead start tackling the important and difficult tasks first. By taking this approach, we are being super productive, we are learning the art of prioritisation, we are freeing up both time and mind space to allow us to concentrate on doing the things that will have the biggest impact. So, if you want to become super productive, stop procrastinating and just get the ‘to do’ list done!

Read More

Learning the art of starting each entrepreneurial day afresh

As entrepreneurs we constantly deal with just about every type of challenge that life throws at us, and we usually find solutions - eventually. What we perhaps forget as we are battling those challenges is that we will inevitably make mistakes along the way - it’s part of the journey. The trick is to learn from every mistake, to find a positive take-out from every experience, and most importantly, to learn to let go.  Making mistakes are hard enough to take on any set day, but when we let those mistakes creep into the next day when we should be starting out with renewed energy, that’s when it becomes an issue. The thing to remember is that when mistakes are made, acknowledge them, learn from them, and then move on. Don’t let yourself relive them as soon as you open your open your eyes in the morning. It’s a new day with new opportunities and new things to learn - leave your baggage behind and embrace the new.

Read More