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The Ultimate Guide to Customer Service Can Help Your Business Grow and Retain Customers

This $20 course could change your business.

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Any entrepreneur worth their salt knows that it’s all about customer service. That’s one core tenet of running a business that’s always been true. Ninety-six percent of all consumers say customer service is important when choosing a brand or product. But while understanding that customer service is important is one step of the battle, the more important step is learning how to implement great customer service into your business. For that, The Ultimate Guide to Customer Service should come in handy.

This quick-hitting two-hour course is an outstanding introduction to customer service. It’s led by Prof. Paul Cline, Ed.D., a serial entrepreneur and psychology expert who is CEO at Advanced Ideas, Inc. He’s an award-winning university professor, therapist, corporate trainer, professional speaker, and business consultant who has built multiple businesses. He knows a little something about customer service.

In this guide, you’ll get 15 lectures on faster problem solving, customer handling, and much more so that you can boost your business and avoid losing money based on poor customer service. With great customer service, you’ll make more money from each customer, save money on advertising, retain existing customers, and earn more referrals. You’ll also learn the five tenets of total quality management (TQM) and how to avoid the ten deadly sins of customer service.

Student Michelle Lat writes, “This course has totally changed me a lot. My perspective and everything.” 

Give your business a boost through extraordinary customer service. Learn how in The Ultimate Guide to Customer Service, now on sale for just $19.99.

Looking to diversify your investments in 2021? Check out DiversyFund to start dipping your toes in private real estate for as low as $500.

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Learn Design Principles That Can Help Grow Your Business

Great UI/UX can go a long way.

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2 min read

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From marketing materials to websites, great design is crucial in converting potential customers into loyal ones. One of the most important elements of web design is UI/UX, which stands for User Interface and User Experience. Working in conjunction, great UI and UX make websites easier to use and navigate for people, allowing them to access everything they need from your website. If your site is struggling, it may be time to explore The Complete Become a UI/UX Designer Bundle.

Rather than shell out thousands to a web designer, learn how to upgrade your website yourself by mastering Ui/UX design. This nine-course bundle comprises nearly 20 hours of training from instructor Juan Galvan. Galvan has been an entrepreneur since grade school, starting several companies including his current one, Sezmi SEO, a consulting agency based out of Seattle. In these courses, Galvan will give you an introduction to the foundations of graphic design and the principles of great UI and UX. From there, you’ll learn how to optimize your designs to make stunning websites and applications. You’ll learn how to track design metrics so you can quantify your own improvement and learn how to apply your skills specifically in making profitable sales funnels, developing new business practices, and much more.

Learn how to optimize your design for your business without hiring a designer. Right now, The Complete Become a UI/UX Designer Bundle is just $34.99.

Don’t forget to check out DiversyFund to start investing in private real estate in 2021. You don’t have to be in the 1% to get started. Invest today for as low as $500.

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These Innovative N95 Masks are Made in the USA

If you have to wear a mask, buy local.

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2 min read

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Despite major companies shying away from the face mask issue entirely, masks are still very much a part of our daily lives. While the vaccines are here, we may still be living with masks for the foreseeable future, even after you get vaccinated. Since that’s the case, you might as well invest in masks that are comfortable, safe, and made in the USA.

SureWay Health‘s Patriot Mask is an N95 respirator that is 100 percent manufactured in Ohio and distributed from Michigan, the company says, and it has been approved to exceed CDC and NIOSH inhalation and exhalation resistance testing requirements. While the Patriot Mask helps protect wearers from airborne bacteria, it’s also creating jobs across the Midwest.

Normally an LED lighting manufacturer that has supplied the federal government, military, and many health organizations, a company called ALG jumped into action when the pandemic hit and converted their manufacturing lines to start making personal protective gear (PPE). Meanwhile, SureWay Health pivoted from being a consumer electronics distributor to delivering millions of masks, gloves, gowns, and other PPE across the country. 

The Patriot Mask performs at 99 percent Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (BFE) and 99.7 percent Particle Filter Efficiency according to study by SGS IBR Laboratories. The cup-shaped N95 mask has ultra-elastic nylon headbands that form a secure seal to the user’s face and is available in both small and regular sizes so they’ll fit any face, the company says. An adjustable galvanized iron-nose clip creates an even more custom fit and secure seal while the inner spandex foam sponge bar makes wearing the mask comfortable as well as safe. Each box comes with 25 masks to keep you geared up for a month.

SureWay Health and ALG joined forces to create an American-made product that protects front-line and non-essential workers alike. Learn more about how you can support them here.

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How Tech Is Saving Lives On the Road

5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

More than 36,000 traffic fatalities were recorded in 2019 and 2018, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) figures. And COVID-19 lockdowns didn’t prevent that number from rising even higher in 2020, as NHTSA data shows a surprising uptick in traffic-related deaths during the first nine months of the year in comparison to 2019. 

Advances in technology have played a key role in protecting passengers over the last 40 years, and they could play an even more central role in reducing the numbers above, if only catches up to them.

The vast number of vehicle crashes were caused by human error, according to a 2018 NHTSA report. Advanced driver-assistance system technology, however, has the power to compensate for human error. LexisNexis research published in June 2020 found that equipped with ADAS technology demonstrated a reduction of 19 percent in vehicle damage frequency and 27 percent in passenger injury. 

Related: Technological Innovation In the EV Market And Trends To Come

As vehicle safety and, subsequently, ADAS integrations have become increasingly popular with consumers, companies have sprouted up, each with their own unique solution to assisting drivers. The Israel-based Mobileye, one of the most renowned ADAS and autonomous driving in the world, uses a mounted camera to map the road environment and its EyeQ chip to process the sensor data, providing a variety of features like lane departure warnings and forward collision warnings. Continental Automotive utilizes lidar, radar and a camera sensor to offer a 360 scope of the road to the driver, and provides brake assistance, blind spot detection, and lane change assist among other features.

On the two-wheeler side, Ride Vision has followed in the footsteps of its four-wheeler counterpart by developing a unique solution for motorcycles, which previously did not have the same degreee of complexity. Ride Vision uses two front- and rear-mounted cameras for data input, which feeds into a computing unit that smartly accounts for the unique maneuvers of a two-wheeled vehicle. The company offers many of the standard types of features for riders like forward collision warnings, dangerous overtake alerts and distance-keeping warnings. An additional feature allows them to record the ride data, which can be submitted to a participating insurer for premium discounts. 

Related: The Role of AI Technology in Improving Road Safety

Underutilized technology

With a plethora of options to integrate more ADAS technology, why are the extra ADAS technologies underutilized? 

One possibility could be that drivers simply don’t understand the ADAS features of the car or the integrations as well as they should. Erie Insurance commissioned a nationwide survey of American drivers, many of whom said they found their vehicles built-in ADAS features annoying or they simply preferred having more control of the vehicle for some features, and they disabled these functions. Yet when asked, “Will you want a car with any of these features?,” many still responded with a “yes.” 

The reasons are far broader

We can go back to the Ride Vision insurance initiative example to understand more why riders and drivers are not adopting ADAS technology as much beyond what already comes built into their vehicles. Telling consumers that “safety is important” is not enough; there needs to be some sort of financial incentive. Mobileye, for example, gives us one.

In 2019, Mobileye collaborated with the Israeli government to offer Israelis a U.S. $415 tax discount on their vehicle purchase if they were to integrate Mobileye. In 2017, multinational insurance giant AIG offered Israeli drivers up to a 20 percent discount on their premiums if they integrated the company’s technology. But while these institutions understood the value of tech in reducing accidents and took a leadership role in incentivizing adoption, most insurance companies are lagging behind, for a number of reasons.

Related: 

First, insurance companies face a conundrum between offering discounts on premiums to drivers and riders—thereby potentially losing millions in revenue—and reducing the odds of accidents, which means they have to pay thousands in damages less frequently. Moreover, it’s more costly to compensate a victim for a vehicle that has ADAS tech integrated than not.

Second, and the bigger impediment to insurance-linked ADAS adoption is understanding how to evaluate ADAS for insurance premiums. Insurance companies are struggling to create frameworks for how to assess the effectiveness of any ADAS technology and how it performs in relation to competing technologies; how it can be appraised in order to determine what the appropriate discount should be for a driver using ADAS tech. 

Companies like Swiss Re are at the forefront of trying to understand how to find ways to promote adoption and improve road safety. In 2018, Swiss Re and the BMW Group built the Swiss Re ADAS risk score. It matches technology already fitted in vehicles with vast amounts of claims data to give a clear picture of the impact of these safety systems. More affordable premiums can drive up road safety and ultimately improve resilience. 

The company recently ran a workshop with Israel-based open innovator SOSA, which works to promote innovation within companies, streamlining processes so they are capable of tackling challenges such as these. 

For now, insurance companies are stuck behind the curve, but through more research and investment, insurance will begin to find ways to create policies that cater to driver’s custom ADAS preferences and what technology they’re using.

Related: Do Driverless Cars Spell Doom for the Insurance Industry?

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7 Ways to Enter the Productivity Zone Faster and Focus Better

9 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Last night I planned out how I was going to spend today. My alarm was set, clothes laid out and meals were prepped. I had my priorities on my calendar.

Of course, it’s very rare that things go exactly as planned.

While I still woke up on time and partook in my morning routine, I just couldn’t focus when it was time for work. I’m not exactly sure why, but I’ll pin it up to just having one of those days.

In the past, I would have just shrugged my shoulders. I would assure myself that it wasn’t the end of the world if I didn’t work right now, I’ll get around to it. As a consequence, I would waste my valuable time.

Occasionally, that’s not all that bad. If it becomes too frequent, that could lead to falling behind on your work, missed deadlines, and putting your reputation and business in jeopardy. Before you let that happen, you need to find ways to enter the productivity zone faster.

From my experience, here are seven ways that I’ve been able to get in the zone when I need to.

1. Have a pre-work ritual.

You don’t have to be an avid sports fan to know about athletes and their pre-game rituals. You’ve probably seen the LeBron James powder toss. Or, you may have heard about the bizarre and superstitious pre-game rituals, like Rafa Nadel taking a freezing cold shower before a match and how he carefully places his water bottles.

These might seem irrational and inconsequential. However, research shows that they are, in fact, beneficial to athletes.

Lysann Damisch, a social psychologist at the University of Cologne, conducted four experiments to test how effective superstitious rituals really are. The results, which were published in a paper entitled “Keep your Fingers Crossed! How Superstition Improves Performance,” found that these pre-game rituals are beneficial.

The reason? Engaging in a pre-game ritual boosts self-confidence in an individual’s abilities. They can also be helpful in calming pre-game jitters. And, it gives them a chance to clear their head and stay in the moment by only focusing on the routine.

But, what about you, the non-professional athlete? You can also benefit from something similar. In this case, a pre-work ritual can help get you into a work rhythm, maintain your energy, and shift your perspective.

Best of all? A pre-work ritual doesn’t have to be complex or elaborate. It could be as simple as powering up your laptop, putting your phone in a desk drawer or reciting a daily affirmation.

The main idea is that you should have a consistent routine to follow before work. It can help you transition into work mode, and it can get you in the right mindset for the day.

Related: 9 Daily Rituals to Boost Your Performance at Work (Infographic)

2. Curate a playlist.

“I’ve noticed over the last couple of years that I listen to music mostly when I’m working,” writes Deanna Ritchie in a Calendar article. While not the case for every single person, research throughout the years shows that:

  • Background music encourages you to become more immersed in your work.
  • It improves cognition and mood.
  • Music can help you maintain focus.
  • It also boosts mental and physical performance.
  • It improves the efficiency of work when performing repetitive tasks.
  • Music increases morale.

Michael Lewis, the author of bestsellers including Moneyball and Liar’s Poker, creates a new playlist when embarking on a new project. Here’s what he told Tim Ferriss;

“But whenever I’m writing, I have headphones on and I have a soundtrack I write to and the soundtrack changes; it changes book to book and it’s got to the point where both my wife and my kids will recommend songs for the soundtrack for whatever the next project is. And I’ll build a soundtrack out of — intentionally, and the music is, you know, it’s all over the map, it tends to be very up, but it tends to be music that I just stop hearing.”

He’s right. When curating your playlist, you need to be intentional. You can do this by factoring in the musical structure, lyrics, and difficulty of the task.

3. Clear mental clutter.

As a part of my pre-work ritual, I grab a notepad and jot down everything on my mind at the moment. Why? Because it gets all those random thoughts out of my head.

That’s kind of a big deal. After all, it’s impossible to focus on your work when your brain is preoccupied. I’m talking about remembering to call a client, put your laundry in the dryer, or pursue a new business idea.

With everything on paper, I then organize my thoughts. Some were just random ideas that can be tossed. If there’s something important, like making that phone call, I’ll add that to my to-do-list. And, for less important tasks, I’ll schedule those whenever I have a “free” block of time.

You don’t have to use a pen and paper. You could use a whiteboard, to-do-list app or voice recorder. You can filter this out however you please. The gist is that if you want to get in the zone, you need to start with a clean slate.

Related: 15 Scientifically Proven Ways to Work Smarter, Not Just More

4. Create a forced deadline.

For some people, deadlines may send a cold chill down their spine. However, you shouldn’t fear deadlines. You should embrace them.

Deadlines keep you accountable, prioritize your schedule and help you reach your goals. Research has also found that they can help reduce the likelihood of procrastination.

What if you don’t have a set deadline? Go ahead and make your own. Just keep the following in mind when you do;

  • Don’t be vague like “complete first draft of my book next month” Deadlines need to be concrete, such as “complete first draft by March 2 at 5 p.m.”
  • Deadlines also must be realistic. If it’s February 28, and you haven’t even begun work on your book, that March 2 deadline isn’t going to float.
  • Make sure that your deadlines are meaningful. In other words, you need either external or intrinsic motivation to follow through. So, if you missed your March 2 deadline, you can’t go on your planned vacation.

For larger, distal goals, establish deadlines for proximal goals. These smaller, attainable goals can be accomplished in a short period of time. They may not seem like they have much value, but they’re more effective and add-up.

5. Build a fortress against interruption.

“Anything that might distract or tempt us away from single-tasking needs to be taken care of before we drop into ‘The Zone,” advises Christine Carter, Ph.D., a Senior Fellow at the Greater Good Science Center.

So, to counter this, here’s what Dr. Carter does to find flow:

  • Cleans and organizes her workspace. 
  • Opens only the documents or applications she needs for work. Any other apps or browsers are closed.
  • Puts her “smartphone into ‘do not disturb’ mode and moves it out of sight.”
  • “I go to the bathroom and bring a glass of water, snack, and a cup of coffee to my desk,” she writes.
  • Dr. Carter also closes her office door and puts on noise-canceling headphones if she’s not alone.

While distractions are inevitable, you can at least thwart most of them before they interfere with your flow. Take a couple of minutes to anticipate everything you need. And, you might want to take note of what distracts you and when so you can plan accordingly — like if your kids come home at 2 pm, you should wrap-up your work before then.

6. Use social facilitation to your advantage.

Recall when you were back in college. There was an exam coming up, but you would rather hit the town. Luckily, you had a friend that pushed you to study.

How about the times you didn’t want to go to the gym? Your gym buddy encourages you to go, and you do the same when they aren’t feeling it.

Having someone else to nudge us along and hold us accountable can be greatly beneficial. In fact, social psychologists have been examining this phenomenon for over a century. For instance, social facilitation was first observed in 1898 when Norman Triplett found that bicycle racers achieved better times when racing together than when alone.

Even in digital workplaces, social facilitation can be effective. But, you must be aware that there are drawbacks like distracting each other or social loafing. Overall, if you partner with someone responsible, supportive, and knows when it’s time to work and play, this can help you get into a flow state of mind.

Related: Your Accountability Buddy Can Help With Work (And Play)

7. Follow the Goldilocks Principle.

You remember the children’s story, “The Three Bears,” right? It’s where Goldilocks tastes three different porridges until she finds one with the right temperature. She also does this when finding a bed to take a nap in.

This principle has been used in fields like astronomy, biology, economics, engineering and developmental psychology. It can also be applied to guide you into entering the productivity flow.

How? Well, you want to focus on work that is neither too challenging nor too easy. “If there is a good balance between the challenge and the skills, then you start feeling flow,” says Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a professor of psychology and management at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, Calif., and author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. That’s because tasks that are too difficult can be overwhelming, while the ones that are too simplistic can make you bored.

Sometimes, however, this is unavoidable. But, you can try to gamify mundane tasks to make them more exciting. If you find a task too difficult, ask for help and improve the skills or knowledge that you’re lacking.

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How to Write a Business Plan 101

This guide to writing a business plan will outline the most important parts and what should be included in an effective plan.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

A business plan is a written description of your business’s , a document that tells what you plan to do and how you plan to do it. If you jot down a paragraph on the back of an envelope describing your , you’ve written a plan, or at least the germ of one.

Business plans are inherently strategic. You start here, today, with certain resources and abilities. And you want to get to there, a point in the future (usually three to five years out), at which time your business will have a different set of resources and abilities as well as greater profitability and increased assets. Your plan shows how you will get from here to there.

Related: 7 Steps to a Perfectly Written Business Plan

You can visit our small business encyclopedia to learn more about business plans or our FormNet area to get the necessary forms to get started.

Before writing your plan

Writing your business plan

Business Plan Tools

Business Planning Videos

: What Investors Really Think About Your Business Plan. At our Entrepreneur magazine Roundtable, financial pros offer tough talk about the business plans of first-time entrepreneurs:

Related: What Investors Really Think About Your Business Plan

Video: How Can I Hire Someone to Help Write My Business Plan? In the video below, , founder and president of Palo Alto Software Inc., responds to a reader seeking advice on finding a low-cost writer to help with a business plan:

Related: 25 Business Plan Tips From Professionals

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Robots Aren’t Stealing Jobs — They’re Making Them Better

5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Not that long ago, the process for filling orders or assembling a product involved mind-numbing tasks done over and over again, to the point the worker really didn’t have to think.

Building a car, for instance, was essentially a hands-on endeavor. Axles were cut and installed by hand, seat covers were sewed and manually installed and even engines were assembled right there on the assembly line.

Now, manufacturing robots have taken over those and other repetitive tasks that used to be performed by human workers — installing tires, applying paint and welding frames — allowing automakers to drastically scale up their production while cutting costs and freeing up their workforce up to take on higher-value tasks.

Related: Ai-Da, the First Robot Artist To Exhibit Herself

But far too many of today’s information workers perform tasks that are the 21st-century equivalent of installing a tire on a new car over and over again. Workers at a number of small and medium-size businesses, from call centers, , to other professional service providers, instead of answering more calls or attending to the needs of customers while they have them on the line, are copying and pasting basic information into templates that should be automatically populated.

This rework is monotonous — sending follow-up emails after sales calls, processing invoices from contractors, logging phone calls and hundreds of other small things — and inefficient use of a seasoned workers’ time. They’re living in the information age, but they’re more analogous to early workers.

The natural progression, then, is to automate those tasks just as the manufacturing industry has done. This is where (RPA) comes in, and it’s becoming more widely used than ever.

That’s because the tools that used to be limited to those with advanced backgrounds are being democratized thanks to new platforms and infrastructure that make it easier to incorporate RPA into organizations without heavy development efforts.

Call it “citizen development” or whatever you want, but the fact is access to robotic process automation has gained traction in recent years alongside the growth of artificial intelligence.

And there are important benefits from this kind of automation technology:  

Repurposing human work

At many companies, there is a ticket for everything. If something in the kitchen breaks a repair ticket is created, the service department comes out to fix it and the ticket is closed after the work is completed. The process works seamlessly until the end, when someone has to go through all of the tickets manually to verify that the job is finished and the ticket can be closed, even without knowing whether or not it was done right or actually completed.  RPA can simplify this entire process by automating approvals based on true job completion.

Improving digital systems

Believe it or not, plenty of work still requires an immense amount of non-value-added copy and paste or re-entry from one system to another.  A great example is consumer loan-processing. For many banks and credit unions whose core banking and systems do not communicate with each other, employees need to manually look at both systems to pull necessary information that isn’t stored in both. This problem is more common than anyone would imagine. An RPA-based system would replace human involvement in this entire process, pulling the correct data elements every time and feeding everything directly into the system for review and next steps.

Related: Boston Dynamics’ Robotic Dog Now Has an Arm and Here’s What It Can Do

Streamlining existing processes

Accounting is still a very manual process in many companies. Invoices have to be printed, reviewed and then the proper information from each invoice needs to be entered into the accounting database. This opens up the process to “fat-fingered” data entry mistakes, backlogs and other issues, all problems that RPA can address better. These improvements free up staff time for workers to spend on solving customer problems and deepening their engagement with your company.

RPA does still have its limitations. As early adopters learned 30+ years ago, these technologies fail when asked to work on complex tasks. It doesn’t work for shades of gray and processes involving a lot of individual decisions, but rather excels on simple tasks or a series of tasks where there is no interpretation required.

Why aren’t all companies doing this already? For one thing, those companies that don’t have solid processes in place already run the risk of automating bad processes and making things worse. That won’t save them anything. The other issue is getting over the inertia of never having embraced robotics technology. Too often, leaders can’t see the benefits of automating redundant tasks until they see it in action.

But RPA use is snowballing.

As more and more information businesses embrace automation it’s like opening the floodgates – those that adopt these tools gain a competitive advantage and those that don’t risk falling behind. Those that are able to automate and spend less time on redundant activity open themselves up to take on higher-value work. They have more capacity to do new things, helping keep their backlog from growing.

In particular, achieving this level of efficiency means cost savings as well as quality improvements. Embracing RPA to streamline the day-to-day work, eliminate human error, and create more time to improve the customer experience will lead to higher quality service, better data to make decisions about productivity and inventory control, and a better bottom line.

Boyd Bell is the founder and CEO of Useful Rocket Science.

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Stock Market Savant Shares Surprisingly Simple Pointers

Five skills you need to achieve your financial goals.

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3 min read

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As we step into 2021, we are better understanding that our mean more than just freedom…it means security. Meeting our goals can give us the peace of mind we are looking for in trying times.

In a revealing survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of WSFS Bank, 40% of Americans under the age of 40 aren’t optimistic they’ll succeed in their financial goals with 43% adding they frequently have trouble paying everyday living expenses while 19% claimed it happens to them “constantly.”

I recently had the opportunity to speak with coach Derek Moneyberg, (yes, that’s his name) and the self-made mogul shared a few simple pointers on improving  and taking control of our lives…

1​. Mental clarity

“When building your financial future, you have to reevaluate your mindset,” explains Derek, “and your thoughts about money, , wealth and hard work.”

Moneyberg innately understands that we are bombarded every day with biases that promote a toxic mindset locking us into a mediocre existence. Eliminating those misconceptions propels us forward with an attitude set on abundance rather than scarcity. 

Related: Your Leadership Playbook for 2021

2​. Mental stamina

have a tenacity that most of us aren’t born with,” notes Derek. “To set and meet financial goals, you have to adapt to processes and thought patterns that will push you, and this is a lot easier said than done.”

Moneyberg maintains that mental strength is a significant catalyst for pushing one out of complacency when it comes to finances. 

3​. Communication & negotiation

“For most people taking a step towards promotions and pay raises is a major part of attaining their financial goals and without the right negotiation techniques, you might as well consider it impossible,” adds Derek. “What I mean by that is we have to communicate to win, we have to learn how to be convincing then go after and get what we want.”

Related: 5 Ways to Be More Strategic and Successful in 2021

4​. Do not hesitate to sell

“​If you want to be wealthy, if you want to reap the benefits of financial success, you have to have the guts to sell,” states Derek. “Build a brand that customers love, market yourself and prove that you are a leader that others can trust. A leader that others want to follow.”

Moneyberg knows that if you offer something of value and put yourself out there, you scale yourself to meet your goals.

Related: Leaders Can Achieve ‘Personal Mastery’ With These Simple Steps

5​. Creativity

The common trait among the world’s most elite individuals and Fortune 500 companies is the ability to be constantly creative within an erratic market.

“Not only do you need to be able to stand out,” summarizes Derek, “but you also need to be able to think outside the box.”

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Spirituality Isn’t a Part of Success. It Is Success in Its Entirety.

6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The journey to be our best version is alluring, but it’s not easy.

Self-improvement is a project that soon becomes a challenging path when peeling the different layers of our personality, psyche and systems of beliefs. As with any other , this exploration demands the “capacity and willingness to develop, organize and manage a venture along with any of its risks” and objections.

is an initiative that connotes something bigger and far-reaching than a simple and single action. It’s a whole undertaking that is difficult and requires effort. 

Spirituality is a marathon, not a , and those faint of heart or the speed demons will discover it in a blink.

The same thing happens with startups that take 2 to 3 years to start being profitable, and success usually happens after 6 to 10 years of hard work. Even the wrongly labeled “overnight success” businesses have invested thousands of hours before reaching their golden period.

The reality is that enlightenment is a state that is attained over time. If you acknowledge that climbing Mount Everest from halfway up at Basecamp takes 26,364 steps, you can picture that reaching your highest version won’t happen in a couple of days.

But it doesn’t mean it’s not achievable. The 560 million early-stage entrepreneurs reported in 2019/2020 by , the 804,398 new businesses established less than one year ago in the US, and the almost 5,000 successful climbers of Mount Everest in history, have proven so.

Inner and outer enterprises

A new survey via Natrol Relaxia, revealed that 72% of Americans polled named 2020 as the most stressful year they’ve ever lived through, with 56% claiming they’re more anxious than ever before.

This is where the Inner Enterprise comes in. 

It is the process to become our best self through a series of stages that will lead us to conscious growth and evolution. The outer enterprise is the journey to create our best expression through a profession, business, product or service.

The two of them undergo similar situations and events from the beginning, at the wake-up call or the identification of a need, all the way to the developmental stages that give life to new genesis and, yes, a marked reduction in stress.

Related: Luke Shankula Transforms Lives, Finances & Businesses – Podcast

1st phase: need/opportunity glimpse

A situation, a comment, or even an observation becomes the spark. A forward pull inspires change and gives you a different perspective. This crucial moment erases the limitations and constrictions you are currently living and enables you to experience cosmic self-realization or the emergence of a big idea.

Whether it is the inner or the outer enterprise, what happens is that the call to adventure that leads to a new direction is received. After experiencing this incident, the deeply impacted inner or outer entrepreneur can only see forward.

2nd phase: concept development and research

You are in unsettling and that sensation fuels the seek. This new discovery might have already challenged your understanding of the self, beliefs, ideologies, practices, relationships and even worldviews.

You can’t unsee the vision of the higher reality that you can become or offer to the world, and that pushes you forward to find answers, learn more, navigate unexplored territories and dive into a larger world.

Known as a stage of gathering and careful research, you are drawn to whatever aligns with your unique view.

The less analytical entrepreneurs will feel guiding them towards the ways that suit them best. The more rational ones may identify it as the Reticular Activating System at full speed triggering patterns, connections and sensory inputs that show them exactly what they need to reach the potential they want to manifest.

What, how, who, for who, when and why will inspire an immersion in an information vortex needed to get that inner or outer initiative off the ground.

Related: Challenge 2021: How Do I Improve the Physical and Mental Well Being of My Employees

3rd phase: the inner work 

You go from an isolated investigation to practice. 

The dedication to transforming information into knowledge sprouts into a new output and you begin to shift yourself or the world. 

The regular application of what was learned removes mental, physical, emotional and energetic barriers harnessed by old beliefs and ignorance. You step into flow, where focus and passion trigger creation. 

As the inner and outer development deepens, you become increasingly closer to what you aimed for after the spark illuminated your path. A like-minded community or team is created around you and the blueprint of what you are building is revealed. The layout extrudes into reality and the value to be provided as a new you or a new company/product/professional is ready to be presented to the world. 

4th phase: clarity and refinement

By nature, evolution is only reached after the status quo is confronted. The spiritual path is then not excluded from struggle, and the outer enterprise will find success only after it’s tested by the community that will impact.

Shortcomings, feedback, deceptions, resistance and mistakes are uncomfortably needed for growth. These new barriers unfold to push you forward and promptly become crucial turning points in the existence of your inner and outer enterprises.

The darkness itself allows you to see the light and forces your thoughts, emotions, or behaviors to change and become more expansive, compassionate, innovative, forgiving, resourceful, etc.

At the beginning, it’s seen as a setback that blocks your progress, but it quickly turns into another wake-up call that tests your resilience and commitment. The result is the burst of a new adventure at a higher level.

This journey has four stages that signify completion or wholeness. A tetrad that carries the universal law of creation as is seen with the four elements, cardinal directions, seasons, and more.

A cycle in which each phase provides a greater understanding and finally restarts the natural process. 

The premise that spirituality is not different from any other enterprise allows us to conclude that any daring and intricate project we embark on is not different from spirituality either. As such, the approach of how we embody it should not differ.

The disjointment of our inner and outer enterprises is what has so many of us working hard and not smart. We act alone and drain ourselves fighting a competitive battle instead of feeling connected and abundant. 

Understanding the interconnection between our inner and outer enterprises is the first step to building the bridge that will join them and allow us to embrace life experience with our spiritual and human sides working as cooperative components.

The infinite connection principle becomes the foundation to recognize that the boundless knowledge we tap into when overwhelmed by a junction in life, is also available for the development of external projects. 

Related: How to Deal With Employee Burnout

 

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Entrepreneur

How to Form Better Habits as an Entrepreneur

Ingrained habits are ridiculously hard to stop; practicing a habit continuously reinforces it, making it harder and harder to break away from the pattern. And starting something new requires a surplus of focus, attention and willpower. So how can you do it?

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5 min read

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For better or worse, our define us and, if significant enough, can shape our future. The habits we practice every day, whether big or small, eventually add up as the sum total of our behavior. They impact our decisions, our actions and even our internal thoughts and feelings. can make us smarter, more physically fit and better at our jobs, while can make us stagnate — and possibly sabotage our own careers.

Accordingly, being able to positively change our habits (i.e., introducing new good habits and eliminating old bad habits) is one of the biggest keys to long-term success, no matter how you define that success. Of course, the issue here is that changing habits can be very difficult. Ingrained habits are ridiculously hard to stop; practicing a continuously reinforces it, making it harder and harder to break away from the pattern. And starting something new requires a surplus of focus, attention and willpower.

Related: 8 Habits of Highly Effective Entrepreneurs

So how can you do it? How can you form better habits as an entrepreneur?

Understand the anatomy of a habit

Your is understanding the “anatomy” of a habit. Why do habits form and what do they look like?

You can think of habits as unfolding over four mini phases:

  • An initial prompt. First, there’s some kind of initial prompt. Something serves as a trigger that makes you want to do something. For example, you might pass a shop on your way to work that reminds you of those delicious cappuccino drinks you love. Or you might hear a tone or feel a vibration whenever you get a new email.
  • The craving. Next, the prompt triggers a craving. You see the coffee shop, so you start thinking about the taste of a cappuccino. You hear the ringtone, so you start feeling anxiety about what the email could be—and the fact that you should probably answer it immediately or something bad might happen.
  • The action. In response to the craving, you’ll take an action. This is the heart of the habit. You pull into the coffee shop drive-thru to place your order. You pick up your phone and pull up your email.
  • The reward. Finally, you experience a reward, usually in the form of released “feel-good” chemicals in the reward center of the brain. You might taste something sweet or feel a deep sense of relief by checking your email.

Related: 10 Habits That Will Dramatically Improve Your Life

These four phases can serve as a blueprint that can help you analyze and eliminate your bad habits — or construct new habits from scratch.

Breaking a bad habit

Let’s look at breaking the bad habit first.

  • Eliminate or modify the trigger. Your first job is to change the stimulus — the triggering event that begins the cycle. In some cases, this is easy. For example, you could simply turn off notifications when you get an email. Other times, this might be more challenging; for example, you may have to take a new route to work.
  • Introduce an unpleasant response. Even after changing the trigger, you might have to deal with a residual feeling. Or you might not be able to change the trigger at all. In these cases, introduce an unpleasant response to the trigger. This is more of a mental ; for example, can you learn to see the cappuccino as something unhealthy or gross?
  • Make it harder to take action. Habits are hard to continue if they demand extra physical or mental exertion. For example, you could hide the mail icon on your phone so you can’t check your email as impulsively.
  • Make the reward unsatisfying. Finally, you could make it unsatisfying to complete the habit. For example, you could start to order decaf to reduce the pleasant rush you would otherwise feel from a caffeinated beverage.

Starting a new habit

So how can you start a new habit?

  • Give yourself an automatic prompt. Everything starts with a trigger. Set up something automatic, like a ringtone, or leave visual prompts for yourself, like sticky notes, to start.
  • Make the prompt attractive. Start inducing a craving within yourself. Find a way to make the notion of engaging in the habit attractive.
  • Reduce friction. Make it easier to do the habit. Purchase better tools or equipment to make the job easier or start the habit with someone else to add social pressure.
  • Reward yourself. Finally, take the time to reward yourself. Some habits, like physical exercise, come with a natural reward of their own. Otherwise, you’ll have to back up the habit with a reward for yourself, like a small piece of candy or another type of indulgence.

Whether your goals are to exercise every day, stop responding to every email automatically, guest blog more consistently, or something in between, these tenets can help you break your bad habits and start new ones. This doesn’t mean the process will be easy, but you’ll at least have a framework that can drive your decisions and behaviors in the future.

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