1 super rare sign you’re supposed to be a leader, according to science

1 rare 1

If you’re someone who is able to keep your cool — and care — even when your team is driving you nuts, you were born to be a leader.

APRIL 5, 2019

Leaders are often depicted as cold-hearted, no-nonsense figures without a trace of a soul (think: Miranda Priestly). But recent research shows that successful leaders have a completely different attribute that’s contradictory to the previously taught leadership qualities: true kindness.

According to research, employees enjoy working for a leader who takes charge and creates her own rules in a nice way. A leader who seems to actually care about them, their livelihoods, their families, their work-life balance in a genuine way.

It can be difficult for most leaders to exude under the stresses of management, but kindness in a leader has been found to create not only a happier work environment, but more loyal and committed employees who work harder and produce better work. If you’re someone who is able to keep your cool — and care — even when your team is driving you nuts, you were born to be a leader. Here’s why.

1. Kindness improves employee well-being and productivity
When employees are friendly and help one another with tasks, they develop better relationships with coworkers (seems obvious, right?) These relationships create a healthier work environment, one that is not based on fear of repercussions, which, in turn, improves employee productivity. Workers are also more likely to perform better and be more efficient with their time without being watched and told to hurry up by a mean boss. Seems like kindness really can pay off.

2. People’s brains respond to kindness in a way that improves teamwork
According to Judith Glaser, CEO of Benchmark Communications and author of Creating WE, the human brain is wired to respond well to kindness and respect.

“When someone is kind and respectful to us, our brains produce more oxytocin and dopamine, which helps us relax, feel open to others, and be more sharing and cooperative,” Glaser said. Being open and allowing collaboration is beneficial to the teamwork necessary in most professions.

1 rare 23. Kindness in the workplace leads to trust in the workplace
In a survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, 1,409 CEOs in 83 different countries were interviewed on improving employee performance. The survey discovered that kindness leads to greater employee dedication and commitment to their company. Kindness also breaks down communication barriers that may exist, reduces dangerous competition among employees, and improves relationships with company shareholders.

4. Kindness creates learning and innovation
Kindness, along with the qualities of empathy and understanding, is important to innovation. These qualities lead to personal psychological safety, according to research from Bar-Ilan University in Israel and the University of Michigan. This “psychological safety” makes employees more likely to learn from their failures, rather than be discouraged. Those who are psychologically safe are more likely to share personal information, as well as work together to come up with creative solutions to problems in the workplace.

Text as published in Ladders

Maintaining Company Culture When Scaling: Eight Methods Every Entrepreneur Should Know


By YEC CommunityVoice Entrepreneurs

Adding new team members is an important and exciting time for any business. Not only is it indicative of success, but it is also an excellent opportunity to further focus the direction of the company. Hiring new players to the team means that new ideas and backgrounds come along as well — a benefit that can greatly add to a company’s creativity and perspective.

Yet, with new people coming in as a company scales, it can be challenging to maintain a cohesive company culture. To help you scale with ease, eight members of Young Entrepreneur Council share their own experiences.

1. Keep Remote Workers Engaged
We’ve expanded from a team of four to almost 100 in only four years. We try and keep all of our team at HQ as much as we can and have a very limited remote workforce. However, even if you’re a remote worker, you still come to HQ at least once a quarter. We have every meeting on video via Zoom — not just over the phone — so they may be virtual workers, but they are still as face-to-face as it can get. We include remote workers in our weekly company all-hands meetings as well and ensure they can participate in fun office activities, even from afar. – Suneera Madhani, Fattmerchant

2. Create And Maintain Company Traditions
Early on in your company, you may have created company traditions that bring the team together — and if you haven’t created any company traditions, I suggest you do. Having unique company traditions is important to building a great company culture, and it’s important not to lose those little traditions when your company starts to grow.

Whether your company tradition is to not wear shoes at the office, to have a yearly costume contest or to encourage workers to take a nap after lunch, company traditions bring about greater connections with your team members. So make sure new employees know about your company traditions and encourage them to participate. – John Turner, SeedProd LLC

3. Lead By Example
You and your leaders need to set the visual example of your core values all the time. Remind people of them through your own actions. One of our values is team pride. My business partner and I jump in when we’re needed — no matter what the work.

If account directors take maternity or paternity leave, we take their place for those three months. We’ve also instilled our values in our managers so they lead by example, too. When they take a vacation, they are sure to shut completely off. They take all their vacation days. When their kids are sick they work when they can but show their family is the priority. If you have values you’re not living by, how is the rest of your company supposed to? – Kerry Guard, MKG Marketing

4. Choose The Right People And Set Clear Expectations
You need to hire the right people. Anyone that creates drama will not fit within your corporate culture — unless that is your culture. If someone does not fit well, you should terminate quickly, otherwise, team morale can slag as they deal with the ineptitude of employees who are underperforming.

Clear expectations need to be put into place for all new team members. This can start with the mundane, such as when to show up, how to dress, how quickly answers are expected, what to do in situation “X” and so on. This can all be covered in an employee handbook. You should also assign all new hires to a buddy — someone who has been at the company for a while — to teach them the corporate and work ethic that is needed. Otherwise, you will end up with all new people teaching each other. – Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design


5. Remember Your Team Members Have Goals, Too
I have noticed that when I have allowed people to work from all over the world and remotely, it has actually indirectly created a more inclusive culture. People get along well with one another, they get what they need to get the work done and they are self-starters. I like to encourage others to have a side hustle, and this will keep everyone connected.

Also, it doesn’t always have to be about your company and your goals. When you focus on your team members and their personal goals, your company will grow and scale indirectly. This is the strategy that I’ve seen work with many of the startups I have worked with. The CEOs are able to see more of the team members in the joyful state versus the shrug of just being “happy.” – Sweta Patel, Silicon Valley Startup Marketing

6. Set Culture-Driven Performance Indicators
We set key performance indicators (KPIs) per role or a skill all the time. Why leave culture out of the equation? Culture-driven KPIs helped us reduce turnover by over 30%.

As we already have our traits defined, an exemplary scenario helps to assess culture fit over the first weeks. Think of what really matters for your culture. Is it teamwork? Or hard work? Volunteering? Count how many colleagues your new hire has bonded with. Poll them and ask for the added feedback. Or schedule a couple interim reviews with a new hire, asking when was the last time they took care of their volunteering cause. Setting measurable, albeit small, goals for new hires related to your culture will help retain top players without losing committed long-term employees. – Mario Peshev, DevriX

7. Make Onboarding An Immersive Process
We recently added half a dozen folks to our team this summer, which is a big jump for us as we need to keep up with the growth of business. We now have an onboarding process that spans three weeks and includes in-person onboarding for a week with human resources and our head of talent at our headquarters, even for our East Coast team members.

In addition, we have each new team member meet for a lunch, coffee, walk or whatnot with every current team member (which is feasible, as we’re a team of under 50 employees). Culture is built and added to by every individual of an organization; it doesn’t live on a poster or get talked about just by the CEO. The long onboarding, in addition to the individual meetings, helps to showcase this. – Beck Bamberger, BAM Communications

8. Don’t Compromise Your Core Values
As your company grows, it is very easy for quality controls to loosen, particularly around hiring. In the early days, hiring people who fit seamlessly within your company culture is second nature. When you are in growth mode and need to hire more aggressively, you will often have to sacrifice something in considering imperfect candidates.

You must not sacrifice your company culture. The best way to make sure that your company culture stays intact is by only hiring people who will fit in well within your environment. One bad apple can spoil the bunch, and we have had bad experiences hiring people who did not embody our culture. We moved on and learned the hard way just how important it is to put company culture first. – Adam Mendler, Beverly Hills Chairs

As published in http://www.forbes.com

These 5 Stress-Relieving Strategies Work for Even the Busiest Entrepreneurs


A few minutes focused on reducing stress pays dividends all day.

By Derek Doepker

For entrepreneurs, stress is a double-edged sword. On one hand, a moderate amount of stress can boost productivity, creativity and performance. Research shows that a moderate deadline, as opposed to one that’s extremely tight, can boost creativity.


On the other hand, many entrepreneurs are facing an overwhelming amount of stress, which can hinder performance. Entrepreneurs, compared to the typical population, have higher rates of stress, worry, depression and addiction. With stress, like exercise, the key is to maintain just enough to stimulate the system, without overloading oneself or doing damage.

Unfortunately, some entrepreneurs think relieving stress means giving up meaningful work or engaging in time-consuming stress management techniques. Fortunately, there are a few evidence-based methods that can rapidly reduce stress and increase resilience in just minutes a day. By incorporating these practices into your daily life, you’ll watch stress levels plummet and your performance soar.

Strategy 1: Box breathing.
It’s hard to imagine more stressful work than being a Navy SEAL. To equip SEAL trainees with a way of quickly entering into a calm, energized and focused state, former Navy SEAL Mark Divine of SEALFIT teaches the box breathing method.

Research supports that slow, diaphragmatic breathing reduces the stress hormone cortisol, while also improving attention.
Here are the steps for box breathing:
Inhale for four seconds
Hold your breath for 4 seconds (without clamping your mouth or nose shut)
Exhale for four seconds
Hold for four seconds without air in the lungs
Repeat steps 1-4
This activity can be done for as little as 5 minutes to enter into a calm and focused state.

Strategy 2: Yawning.
According to neuroscience researcher and author Mark Waldman, repeatedly yawning for one minute is one of the fastest ways to reduce neurological stress and anxiety. Yawning can also enhance alertness.

While it may seem unusual, a quick test will prove how quickly your mind can calm after engaging in conscious yawning. To do this, simply force yourself to yawn several times. You may notice that you begin to stimulate a real yawn. Repeat this for up to 60 seconds and note the relaxed and alert state your mind enters. This can be done any time during the day to quickly calm your mind.


Strategy 3: 5-minute walks.
Exercise has long been a powerful stress buster. But fitting exercise into a busy day can be challenging for some entrepreneurs. Research in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity has shown that taking a 5-minute walk every hour can be just as beneficial as a 30-minute walk at the start of the day. In fact, the frequent walking group showed an improved mood, whereas the 30-minute walking group didn’t.

Entrepreneurs can incorporate frequent walks by:
Walking during phone calls
Holding walking meetings
Using treadmill desks
Walking outside for a break
Using smartphone dictation or recording software to walk and speak notes

Strategy 4: Gratitude.
Positive psychology research shows that gratitude has numerous benefits for improving mood, relieving depression, boosting the immune system and lowering blood pressure. While there are a few instances where gratitude hasn’t been shown to make a positive difference, for many entrepreneurs, gratitude can be an easy and time-efficient way to fight off stress and improve their mood.

A simple gratitude practice can include taking several minutes to write down reflections in a gratitude journal as well as conveying gratitude to those at work. As a bonus, taking the time to express gratitude to those in your network (e.g., writing thank you cards) can be an excellent way of sparking conversations that could lead to business growth.

Strategy 5: Saying no.
Entrepreneurs are often willing to take on challenges and risks that others won’t. While this personality trait can help blaze new trails, it can also potentially lead to burnout.
Whether it’s website design work or doing the laundry, many entrepreneurs are taught the benefit of outsourcing tasks that are outside their wheelhouse. What can be more challenging, however, is saying “no” to potential opportunities because of the stress they might add. This could also mean saying “no” to a client who requests too much.

The key here is a mindset shift. If you resent taking on work and it stresses you out, it could not only negatively affect you, but could also negatively affect those working with you — including your clients. Sometimes the best thing you can do for others is to let them work with someone who has the mental and physical capacity to better serve them.

Putting it all together.
Each of these strategies only takes a few minutes to implement, making them almost effortless. The key is remembering to do them. It’s recommended to first start with one or two of these strategies and create an “If-When-Then” plan.

For instance, “When it’s the top of the hour, then I will yawn for 60 seconds.” “If someone calls me, then I will get up and walk while taking the phone call.” “When I pack up my belongings at the end of the day, then I will recite to myself three things I’m grateful for.”

Write down your plan and read it at the start of each day until it becomes a habit. Apply any one of these simple strategies today to enjoy a renewed sense of well-being and newfound peace of mind.

as published in entrepreneur.com


10 New Year Tips for Your Small Business

New Year 1

By Melinda Emerson

To ensure success in the new year, most small businesses don’t realize that the process begins long before January 1. Instead, a lot of work goes into setting your business up for a running start when the clock strikes 12. Don’t wait; start now with this list of 10 New Year Tips For Your Small Business.

1. Revisit Your Business Plan
If it has been a while since you examined this critical document, now’s the time to get to it. Review it to ensure it’s still aligned with your current company goals. Change what needs changing. And if you never had one, use http://www.enloop.com to develop one online for free.

New Year 22. Set Your Business Resolutions
New Year’s resolutions are not all about losing weight. It is beneficial to lay out what you want for your business in the coming 12 months. Be specific, so you can actually measure results and see whether you accomplished them by year’s end.

3. Build a Promotions Calendar
Sit down with a calendar and start looking at all the holidays or events you want to build promotions around. This will give you ample time to plan your social media updates, blog posts, advertising campaigns, etc.

4. Consider Your Hiring Needs
If your business is getting increasingly too busy for you to run with a skeleton crew, start planning your hiring strategy for 2015. Consider temps, freelancers, virtual assistants, and part-timers as alternatives to full-time employees if your budget is tight.

5. Invest in Technology
If you’ve been putting off that computer or software purchase, now’s the time to go ahead with it. You’ll be more efficient, if you have a computer that doesn’t take an hour to load. Also, if you want to reduce your taxable income, you need to spend money before 2014 rolls away.

6. Create a Conference Plan
Attending conferences and industry trade shows can be so beneficial for you as a business owner. Not only can you meet others in your field (or potential customers) but you also learn from leading experts. Do some digging to see what’s available to attend in the next year, and put them on your calendar.

7. Reassess Your Online Brand
Google yourself! Is it time for a new headshot or website refresh? What worked for you in terms of marketing this year? This is a great time to tweak your online strategy so that you identify the tools that helped your business grow, and cut back on those that don’t.

8. Get Organized
If you’re like a lot of business owners, your desk is cluttered, and so is your desktop. Spend a few hours throwing away and shredding things you don’t need and organizing your computer files by year, i.e. Contracts. It will make things easier to find. I guarantee you’ll feel more together come January.

9. Refresh Your Employees’ Skills
If you do have staff, now’s a fantastic time to offer supplementary training to refresh their skills or give them new ones. Maybe they’re not all using your customer relationship management software. That’s the perfect topic for training.

New Year brain 310. Get Smarter
Your employees aren’t the only ones who could learn more. If the end of the year is quiet for you, build in reading time. Read industry blogs, books, magazines, and anything else you can get your hands on to be on top of the trends in your industry.
If one of your resolutions is to reinvent your business or start a new one altogether, pre-order my new book, Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months, 2nd Edition. You couldn’t ask for a better holiday gift to buy yourself.

As published in huffingtonpost.com, and modified by LuciditySBM

11 Fears Every Entrepreneur Must Overcome

fear 1 rd.com

It wouldn’t be an adventure if it wasn’t scary

By Deep Patel

Fear is a fundamental part of human psychology. Our brains are wired to feel fear because it helps us avoid calamity; it keeps us safe.

But fear can also hold us back — if we let it. Fear feeds on fear, meaning the more we try to avoid something we’re afraid of, the bigger and deeper our anxiety grows. To overcome this, we must face our deep-seated misgivings and worries. We have to acknowledge our fears and find ways to move beyond them.

There are many common fears that entrepreneurs face. If we don’t confront those challenges, the fears will ultimately consume us. Whatever your fears are, now is the time to take them on and overcome what would otherwise keep you from succeeding.

1. Fear of change
Change of any sort can be frightening. In fact, our brains are preprogrammed to avoid change. It’s natural to seek a comfortable, secure existence. We resist change because it poses a threat to our status quo. But complacency can keep us from taking action and moving forward.

Fear of change makes us anxious about the future, and this will certainly lead to a closed mindset in which we fail to make adjustments or anticipate what’s coming next. You can’t avoid change forever. No matter what stage you’re at with your business, you’ll have to find ways to embrace and harness innovation and advancement.
Related: Change Is Inevitable. Here’s How to Start Preparing Right Now.

2. Fear of failure
Failure often seems like the worst of all possibilities. When we think of failure, we think of unbearable embarrassment and the anguish of losing everything. But fear of failure is often rooted in pride.

If we fail, we believe that all those who doubted us will have been right. Instead, ask yourself these two things: 10 years from now, will you regret not taking this opportunity? And if you do fail, what will happen?
Developing a plan B will give you the confidence to forge ahead. Reframe the possibility of failure as the opportunity to try something new. If it doesn’t work out, it’s a chance to try something else.

3. Fear that you don’t know enough
It may sound silly, but you don’t know what you don’t know. We all have gaps in our knowledge, or blind spots in our business acumen. Being aware of helps you take steps to mitigate those gaps. If you’re worried you’re missing areas of information or expertise, start working to rectify the situation.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Find mentors and resources to help fill in your blind spots. Seek feedback from others at each step of the way. But don’t allow fear to cause you to constantly second-guess yourself. Have confidence in yourself and trust your gut instinct.

fear 2 thesprucepets.com4. Fear of the unknown
Uncertainty registers in our brain like a blaring alarm. We often avoid the unknown because we fear change. We’re afraid of losing control and being unable to manage potential outcomes. Allowing ourselves to take a massive leap into the unknown is terrifying because we have no guarantees of how things will turn out.

The unknown will certainly lead to change of some kind. It might lead to success, but could just as easily lead to failure. When you understand what drives success in your business and you feel confident in your business model and prep work, you’ll feel more assured when you step into unknown territory.

5. Fear of committing to business expenses
It’s one thing to dream big, develop a business plan and set goals and objectives. It’s another to put your finances or savings on the line and incur large business expenses. But here’s the thing: there’s almost no way you can move your business forward without putting money into it.

Even a low-overhead, low-cost business will eventually need an infusion of funds so you can market yourself, develop a professional-looking website or invest in office equipment such as a new computer. Yes, committing to expenses is a risk (see below) but unless you’re willing to invest in your dream, your business will quickly plateau.

6. Fear of taking risks
Every time we take a risk on something, we’re putting ourselves, our business and our reputation on the line. A risk can pay off with amazing success, or it can lead to a downward spiral and failure. But there is an important difference between dangerous, unmitigated risk and thoughtful, calculated risk.

Dangerous risk takers are like gamblers, betting it all on something that isn’t proven. With a calculated risk, you have strategized each step of the way. You move incrementally toward your goal, carefully assessing your level of investment and overhead until you’re assured your business will support more. Calculated risks are key to every success.

7. Fear of disappointing others
No one wants to let their people down. Who doesn’t want to impress their friends, colleagues or loved ones? We want to live up to expectations and make sure we’ve met everyone’s requests. But as an entrepreneur, you’re going to have to carve your own path.

You have to focus your time and energy on the things that matter to you. If you don’t go after your dreams, pursue your goals and build a life you are passionate about, you’re letting yourself down. Decide what your purpose is and go after it. Don’t push aside your own ambitions in a quest to keep everyone else happy.

8. Fear of being pushed into uncomfortable situations
Many people fear public speaking more than death. Just the thought of it puts us on edge and makes us anxious — because public speaking can be incredibly nerve-racking. With practice, however, we can become comfortable pushing ourselves outside our comfort zones. But it won’t happen without getting into the right mindset and prepping to take on this challenge.

Just like climbing a mountain or going skydiving, you wouldn’t do it without working yourself up to it. You can start by taking small steps and doing things just outside of your comfort zone. Allow yourself to become familiar with discomfort, and before long you’ll be able to embrace new situations without dread and distress.

9. Fear of being wrong
Most entrepreneurs are competitive by nature, so it makes sense that many of us would fear making mistakes or seeming less than perfect. Overcoming this fear requires you to tackle your ingrained sense of perfectionism and learn to be comfortable with the fact that everyone, even you, will get it wrong sometimes.

It’s important to recognize that mistakes happen because we did something, we took action, we made a leap. Maybe it was a misstep, but making a mistake is better than doing nothing at all — that only leads to indecision and stagnation. So don’t beat yourself up when you make a mistake. Recalculate and keep pressing on.

10. Fear that you’re not good enough
Self-doubt can be a mountain to overcome. We know our flaws and our shortcomings better than anyone. Sometimes a dark fear lingers in the back of our minds: “What if I’m not good enough?”

For some people, this becomes a deeply embedded fear that they’re not as competent as everyone else believes they are, and they feel that no matter how hard they work, they’ll always be inadequate.

This is called the imposter syndrome. This hot mess of harmful anxiety can set up a vicious cycle of questioning your abilities and constantly striving for unattainable levels of perfectionism. Take steps to move past these feelings. Don’t let the internal fears hold you back from pursuing your goals.

11. Fear of saying no
It’s tempting to take every project and every job, and pursue every lead that comes your way. And when you’re just getting your business off the ground, any amount of income is a good thing. But there comes a time when you’re going to need to say no to some things. If you continue to stretch yourself too thin and take on too much, you won’t do any of it well.

As an entrepreneur, make sure the work you’re taking on is helping you build something bigger. Are you taking on projects that are in keeping with your core mission and your larger goals? Or are you accepting a lot of one-off projects that aren’t really helping your reputation? It’s OK to say no to some things, so you can say yes to the right things.

as appeared in entrepreneur.com

Richard Branson on flex policies, what Virgin looks for in an employee, and lessons learned

Branson Photo kris krüg via Flickr
Photo: kris krüg via Flickr.jpg

Entrepreneur Richard Branson gave a keynote presentation this week at the Adobe Summit, a digital marketing conference, in which he made a serious case for why Americans need more vacation time.

By Jane Burnett

The “self-made” billionaire mogul and founder of investment and marketing company Virgin Group reportedly “has stakes in more than 400 companies in 34 countries” across a variety of industries. Here are a few takeaways from his address.


On Virgin’s flexible policies:
“You know, we also have some things which I think, that we do at Virgin which most companies don’t do, and which I would really recommend they did. So, we’ll give people unlimited paid leave. So somebody wants to go off for a month and travel the world, they can do it. They don’t have to ask permission,” Branson said.

“But they’ll work that much harder when they get back, and the company has not suffered from introducing this. If somebody wants to work from home, they can. If somebody wants to work from home on Fridays and Mondays, they can — and actually, they get more work done without having all the time of commuting to and from the office by doing that,” he added. “So, I think treating people with flexibility, treating people as humans, treating people as you’d treat your own children, comes back to the company many times over.”

On advice he recently gave to someone:
Branson mentions that a few nights before the presentation, he met a father at the bar who was trying to figure out “what to do in life.” The mogul asked him if he had kids. He said he had two, is married, and part of “a very happy family.” Branson said he could sense that the man was considering leaving his job and that the man probably thought he would recommend that he go the entrepreneurial route.

While Branson said that if the man has a concept that would improve the lives of others, he should pursue it, but he continued, “What I actually said to him was: ‘Do you enjoy the people you work with at work?’ And he said yes, he really loved those people. ‘Do you enjoy your work?’ ‘Yes.’ … But, what I did say to him was: ‘Go to your company boss and try and get them to change some of the policies to give you a bit more flexibility so you don’t feel restricted to two or three weeks, holidays a year,’ which I think this American, really-short holiday system is cruel.

Branson added: “It’s not a good way of fathers spending time with their children, mothers spending time with their children, and it’s not good for the business. You know, just because somebody’s sitting at the desk all day long does not mean they’re working all day long. People can work in three or four days [and] most likely can get all their work done. So, more flexibility — they will be much more loyal … and they won’t be necessarily asking the question, ‘should I leave this company and go do something else?’ ”

On what Virgin looks for:
“The most important attribute to a person, whether they’re running other people, or whether they’re being run by other people is …to be wonderful at basic things like kindness. Basic things like looking for the best in other people. Basic things like listening all the time, not just hearing yourself speak,” Branson said.

“So, if you are in a position of power in a company, and somebody says, ‘You know, there’s a problem at home or something,’ … immediately tell them, ‘Take a couple of weeks off, you know, go sort it out and get your priorities and life right.’ So, that’s the kind of people we look for,” he added.

On the importance of attention to detail and listening:
After mentioning the ways Virgin changed the airline industry, Branson explained what he does to continue moving forward.”

When making experiences, attention to detail matters. To this day, I keep a notebook in my pocket whenever I board a flight. I get out and I listen to passengers, I listen to cabin staff, and I write these thoughts and experiences down, and then action them the next day because these thoughts and experiences are invaluable, and they help us keep air travel fun, friendly and entertaining,” Branson said.


“Frequently taking note of these seemingly little things has become one of the keys to our success. As expectations change, experiences must evolve too. So, as a leader, or really, whatever you were doing in life, always be a good listener,” he advised. “Always strive to create a different and better experience than anyone else. Never rest on your laurels. We try to live on these principles in every single business we run: in our airlines, in our hotels, in our trains, in our gyms, and so on.”

Branson II

On what you can learn from life’s experiences

“What holds true in business and advocacy, has also been true in my personal life. And I think the most important lessons I’ve learned that haven’t come from the books I’ve read, that haven’t come from the formulas I’ve memorized, that haven’t come what I call … No. They have come from what I call the school of life. And the school of life is definitely the best experience there is,” Branson said.

6 Myths That Cause First-Time Entrepreneurs to Self-Destruct

Mushroom cloud scienceabc.com

You can’t get it right if what you’re absolutely convinced is true, is actually wrong

What’s the major difference between entrepreneurs with a successful first year launch and those who struggle beyond expectations? Not surprisingly, it’s their mindset.
Surely, a startup’s first 12 months are ripe with challenges, and every founder understands that going into the process. What many forget is the power of their personal beliefs — and the myths they’ve bought into about entrepreneurship.

Though the phenomenon of unwittingly setting self-limitations isn’t relegated to newbie entrepreneurs, it’s common among their ranks. And it spreads like wildfire unless you make a point to douse the embers before they flare.

Whether you’re an expert in your niche, looking for answers to a problem or striving to change the world with your business, stop limiting yourself and your business’s success by believing in these common misconceptions:

1. You’re wasting money if you travel for business.
Think business travel is a luxury? If you opt not to travel, how are you going to build your business and promote your startup, especially when you’re the new entity on the block?

Traveling for business helps expand your network of potential investors, clients, employees and suppliers. Sure, your budget may be tight, but that isn’t an excuse to languish behind your office desk. A National Small Business Association report reveals that 31 percent of surveyed businesses used credit cards to finance their business last year, so it makes sense to choose a card that compensates your business with points.

Target the cheapest airfare with Google Flights, and leverage resources like Upgraded Points to maximize credit card rewards.

2. The universe is conspiring against you.
Have you ever felt like the world has it in for you? Barrier after barrier seems to crop up out of nowhere to prevent progress toward your ultimate goal. Meanwhile, your competitors apparently sail by, problem-free. Psychologists Tom Gilovich and Shai Davidai call that way of thinking the headwinds/tailwinds effect, and it can convince us that we have it harder than others, when, in reality, we might be placing obstacles in our own way without even realizing it.

Awareness is key, so keep the headwinds/tailwinds effect at the forefront of your mind. Rather than make excuses, write new goals to keep yourself motivated. Accept responsibility for your failures, and identify which obstacles are within your control. This will help keep you from becoming your own worst enemy with self-sabotaging decisions.

3. You’re the boss, so you’re in it alone.

Tumble preachingtoday.com

You may be the boss, but you won’t snatch the brass ring if you keep your dreams to yourself. Instead, share them with others so you don’t feel alone. Even if you don’t have cofounders or employees yet, build your tribe.

Take advantage of the resources available to you. Consider renting a great coworking office space or joining an innovation community or accelerator program, if your city offers them. If not, go online and network. Slack has more than 100 communities just for startup CEOs.

4. Without a “Shark Tank” level investor, your startup will sink.
With shows like “Shark Tank” all the rage, you might fall into the belief that the only way to get your ship afloat is with the help of some funding angels. However, 76 percent of entrepreneurs rely on their own coffers for financing. In addition, 83 percent rely on a little help, emotional and/or financial, from their friends and family.
It can be hard to find investors, particularly if you’re peddling something novel or untried. Begin searching for investment dollars closer to home before wooing top investors.

5. You have to reinvent the wheel.
Standing out as a brand means overcoming competitors in your marketplace. Maybe that means identifying a weakness where customers aren’t satisfied with current offerings. Rising above the crowd might mean implementing a new technology that differentiates your company from the others. But you don’t have to reinvent the wheel or invent a wholly new product or service to do that.

Think about Google and Facebook. Google supplanted other search engines that came before it, improving on their flaws. Similarly, Facebook took the social media space in an exciting direction. Now, they’re both worth billions. If you have a good idea but others have beat you to it, don’t give up. Instead, do your homework to discover what’s next in that space and adapt your idea to improve upon what’s already out there.

6. Your financial plan is the only plan that really matters.
While a financial plan is imperative, avoid building your business in silos. Instead, give equal weight to other plans and strategies because everything affects your company’s finances in some way. A social media plan, for example, can have a huge impact on your business’s performance.

You know you need to market your solutions on social media, but don’t expect to toss up a few tweets or posts and call it a day. Social platforms are essential ways to communicate your messaging, and they must be part of a comprehensive marketing mix.

Set goals based on your target personas and develop a system to educate and track responses. Otherwise, you’re leaving too much up to fate.

Your startup’s first year might not fly by with ease, but don’t make it tougher than it needs to be. You have more power and control than you think over whether you swim or sink.