Review of “Escape from Corporate America”

Friday, May 27, 2011 at 5:20pm by Site Administrator

Pamela Skillings has produced the “how-to” book for anyone who dreads going to their miserable job. Escape from Corporate America outlines what the downtrodden toiler needs to do to actually get up out of his or her cubicle and chase down his or her dreams. Everyone has been there before; you hate your job but you feel like you’ll stuck there forever. Skillings has verbalized our collective feelings in her easy-to-read guide.

Outlining the reasons that we feel helpless and powerless when we toil away in cubicle land, Skillings has provided the kick in the pants many of us need to regain control over our work life. She doesn’t leave you feeling worse about yourself, which is what many of these types of books wind up doing. On the contrary, she addresses our feelings and then makes us realize that we have the capability to actually make the life changing move.

Immediately, Skillings connects with her readers as she says, “I wrote this book because I know exactly how you feel.” We learn that she was a high-powered mover and shaker in the corporate world but felt that her creativity was being sapped on a daily basis. Tired of just thinking about changing careers and idly threatening to do so, she talked to the right people that could help her go through with it. She is not trying to act like she’s better than us because she actually did the make the big move, rather she keeps her humility in tact as she continually sympathizes with our situation. Over and over, she asks why else would we be reading this book if we weren’t ready to grab hold of our lives and leave Corporate America behind us?

Escape from Corporate America is not a rant about what’s wrong with big business. She doesn’t trash capitalism or anything like that. She even cites some great companies to work for. The essence of her message is that as individuals we have to make changes to better suit ourselves. The message is clear that Corporate America isn’t going to look out for the little guy and take care of us through all our travails. Only we can provide the sense of fulfillment that we crave. Beautifully juxtaposing the corporate world and the salvation that awaits us when we do leave adds the extra incentive we need to make our move.

 

Skillings would be better suited make a more stark contrast between the two worlds presented in her offering. Sometimes, the reader feels unsure about how bad Corporate America really is. Nobody wants to sit and read outright bashing of establishment, but sometimes it helps to keep the blood flowing if there are two sides. It also helps when one side is so atrocious that we loathe their existence. Skillings lacks this clarity at times.

Escape from Corporate America is a must-read if you’re considering changing careers and working for yourself. At times, this book can be your best friend when everyone else is telling you that you’re crazy for going down this road. Skillings has come up with a homerun.

To buy the book and read more words of wisdom from Skillings, check out her motivational blog.

 

 

Top 100 Motivational Blog Posts of All Time

Thursday, January 24, 2008 at 2:41am by Site Administrator

The new year ushers in loads of resolutions and good intentions, many of which don’t make it past the first few weeks of January. Staying motivated enough to find a better job, lose ten pounds, or create a solid personal budget are tough when we’re already battling hectic lives. To help you find the inspiration you need to stay focused all year long, check out this list of 100 motivational blog posts.

Our Favorites

This first list includes some of our favorite posts about staying motivated, from discovering strength and inspiration where you least expected it to learning how to organize your entire life.

  1. 1 Step Back, 2 Steps Forward: Learn how to stay positive with this simple mantra, even when you’re experiencing setbacks.
  2. Stay Motivated When You Don’t Like It: The problem with motivation is that sometimes you’d just rather give up. Read this post for tips on how to boost your morale even when you don’t feel like being productive.
  3. How to Wake Up Feeling Totally Alert: Steve Pavlina helps readers go from "grog monster to early riser" with the tips and ideas in this post.
  4. Top 5 Tips for Getting Motivated: Life coach Fiona Harrold doles out five surefire tips for finding motivation and sticking with it.
  5. How to Be Motivated to Get Down to Work: This post explores how time management, human nature and momentum affect motivation.
  6. Developing Positive Patterns: Improve your life with baby steps by discovering and implementing positive patterns in your lifestyle.
  7. Design a Home Office: Tips for Setting Up Your Work Space: Working from home is great…as long as you can stay motivated. Learn how the design of a home office can affect your productivity.
  8. How to Stay Positive When You Know Your Life Sucks: It’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the bad things in our lives. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, learn how to stay positive and motivated to make the changes that will improve your life.
  9. Maintaining Motivation: This post has tips for staying motivated when you want to exercise, set goals, get organized and more.
  10. Free Tools to Manage New Year’s Resolutions: Lifehacker’s set of online tools will help you manage your New Year’s resolutions all year round.

GTD Posts

David Allen’s Getting Things Done philosophy has helped countless individuals and businesses become more productive and successful. Check out the following posts for tips on staying motivated and organized, whether at home, in the office or on vacation.

  1. Getting Started with "Getting Things Done": 43 Folders posts this beginner’s guide to the GTD philosophy.
  2. David Allen Speeds Up by Slowing Down: Lifehacker explores David Allen’s method of emptying the mind of useless information so that we can "slow down and think," eventually resulting in a faster, more productive work day.
  3. How to: fix Leaks in Your GTD System: If you’ve noticed a few holes in your implementation of GTD, don’t give up. Read this article to discover remedies for all kinds of GTD leaks.
  4. Are Your Lists Really Complete?: Learning how to create effective lists is one of the basic principles of GTD. Check out this post for tips on how to make sure you’re maximizing each of your daily lists.
  5. GTDInbox: Read all about this Gmail app that coordinates your inbox with GTD principles.
  6. 17 Interviews with GTD Master, David Allen: Lifeclever puts together this list of 17 interviews with David Allen for expert tips and advice from the GTD master himself.
  7. A Guide to Getting Things Done: This overview of David Allen and the GTD system is a helpful guide for anyone wanting to learn productivity and motivational tips.
  8. Geek to Live: Getting Things Done with Google Notebook: This tutorial shows readers how to use Google Notebook according to GTD principles.
  9. The GTD FAQ: If you have questions about starting or maintaining a GTD system, use this FAQ guide to find answers.
  10. Massive GTD Resource List: Zen Habits publishes this resource guide of GTD-related links to connect you to all things GTD, from books to blogs to tools and software.

Fitness

Getting into shape and losing weight is a popular New Year’s resolution. Read this list for tips on how to stick to your workout and diet routines for good.

  1. Fitness Programs: Staying Motivated: After you’ve made the decision to join a gym or start a running club, how do you make sure you stick with the program? This post from the Mayo Clinic gives great tips on staying motivated.
  2. How to Stay Motivated to Exercise: Follow this simple guide from eHow.com for tips on sticking to your plan to get fit.
  3. 8 Mistakes that can Wreck Your Fitness Plan: Check out this list of things not to do when starting a new fitness routine. You’ll find out how to beat burnout, stay motivated and more.
  4. Exercise and Cold Weather: This post shows readers how to "stay motivated, fit and safe" during exercise, even when the weather is freezing cold.
  5. Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity: If you’re still not convinced that exercising will affect your body in a healthy, beneficial way, read this post to find out how simple exercises can improve your mood, fight chronic diseases and help you sleep better.
  6. Offbeat Ways to Eat Better, Exercise More: If you’ve tried every diet and exercise plan out there, read this post for creative ideas on how to burn extra calories and reinvent your menu.
  7. Gyminee Blog: Gyminee’s online fitness and nutrition tracker keeps your goals on track by helping you easily manage schedules and more online. Check out their blog for product updates, the Entrepreneurs of the Week specials and featured chats on the group forum.
  8. Staying Motivated: This post gives tips on staying motivated, even when you’ve reached a plateau in your fitness program or when you don’t notice results as quickly as you’d hoped.
  9. Sick of the Gym? Find Your Sport: If you’re having trouble sticking to your fitness plan, you might need a change of scenery. Use this guide as a resource for finding what sport or activity gets you moving.
  10. 13 Fitness Tips to Stay Motivated and Work Out Effectively: Buzzle.com posts this itemized list to give readers an approachable way to conquer their exercise obstacles.

Health

From battles with stress to overeating, these posts help readers manage their health issues in a positive way.

  1. 9 Hidden Reasons to Stay Motivated: If the skinny pictures from your past aren’t keeping you motivated any longer, take a look at this list of different inspiration ideas for losing weight.
  2. Healthy Recipes: The Mayo Clinic offers up lots of healthy recipes for heart-healthy, meatless, diabetes and other special diets.
  3. Your Diabetes Diet: Stay Motivated by Breaking Down the Barriers: Anyone with diabetes, especially those who develop the condition later in life, can experience set backs when trying to stick with a diabetes-friendly diet. This post helps you deal with barriers like financial limitations, social stigmas and more so that you can continue to put your health first.
  4. 11 Things Children Can Teach You About Weight Loss: Find out how a child’s outlook on life can help you lose weight. Items include "everything can be a game" and "it’s always more fun with friends around."
  5. Eight Ways to Beat Stress: Discovery Health provides readers with eight effective ways to beat stress so that you can use more energy on realizing your goals.
  6. 19 Hacks to Stay Healthy at Your Workstation: While most of us have good intentions when it comes to taking care of ourselves, our resolutions leave us as soon as we walk into the office each day. Read this post for 19 ideas on how to continue being healthy and energetic even when you’re at work.
  7. How to Stay Clean After Drug Rehab: Entering the real world after spending time in drug rehab is frightening. If you’re nervous about relapsing or you want to help a friend who’s leaving rehab, take a look at this post for ideas on staying clean.
  8. Teenagers: How to Stay Healthy: Teenagers sometimes don’t believe that the health choices they make today can affect their bodies in the long term. This post details the ways in which smoking, vaccines and sex can be risky even when you’re young.
  9. Top 10 Ways to Stay Motivated: This post has great tips for staying motivated while on a diet.
  10. How to Fight Depression and Anxiety: Depression often leads to apathy, making it difficult to pull yourself out and start living life. This post has ideas on staying focused on the fight against depression and anxiety.

Spiritual

Whatever your religious background, finding ways to nurture your spirit can help boost the motivation you’re looking for in other areas of your life.

  1. Feng Shui Your Life: Consider discovering the elements of feng shui to promote peace, harmony and energy in your life. This page will connect you to tips on arranging your office, bedroom and entire lifestyle according to feng shui.
  2. The Purpose of Yoga: Motivation for Better Health: This article documents the ways that yoga can unite the mind, body and spirit to increase productivity and motivation.
  3. Motivating Your Spiritual Side: This post gives tips on how to improve your own personal spirituality like "practice focusing more on others" and volunteering and practicing mediation or prayer.
  4. Avoiding Spiritual Complacency: Christians may want to read this post to find out how they can improve their spiritual lives by continuing to challenge themselves and learn more about their faith.
  5. DailySpiritualGuide.com: This website publishes daily spiritual messages to inspire and motivate readers of all faiths. Click through the posts to find one that speaks to you or submit your favorite message to share your inspiration with others.
  6. The Benefits of Meditation: Tips and Techniques: Meditation can help you stay focused on achieving your goals by clearing your mind of harmful, distracting thoughts and energies. This post gives lots of tips for practicing effective meditation.
  7. Meditation for Beginners: 20 Practical Tips for Quieting the Mind: The Zen Habits blog eases beginners into meditation by sharing tips like "make it a formal practice" and "notice small adjustments" in mood and movement.
  8. How to Stay Focused and Live Life Wholesomely: New Age Today gives advice on how to stay focused through self-love and self-discipline.
  9. Finding Daily Inspiration in Difficult Times: No matter what goal you’re working towards, you’ll experience bad days along with the good. Christians can stay motivated by reading this article about "reaching out to God everyday."
  10. Stay Focused with Essential Oils: Lifestyle "change expert" Laura Lewis shares with readers the kinds of oils and scents that promote motivation and productivity to help you stay focused.

Career-Oriented

Whether you’re in the market for a new gig or just need some motivation to show up each day, check out these inspirational posts.

  1. Job Satisfaction: Strategies to Make Work More Gratifying: Push yourself to find the meaning in your job by reading this post from Revolution Health.
  2. What Does Your Career Mean to You?: Find out which professional field you’re meant to conquer with the tips and information provided in this post.
  3. How to Survive (and Thrive!) in a Job You Hate: Though it’s tempting to walk out every time your boss ignores your hard work, quitting without a plan isn’t a good idea. This post helps you survive your nightmare job by reminding yourself why you’re there in the first place and having realistic expectations.
  4. Finding Balance and Meaning in a Nine-to-Five World: Tips like "stay young" and "work in a state of awareness" help readers find the meaning in their jobs and learn how to create balance around work and their personal lives.
  5. Beginning Your Job Search: Getting stuck in a frustrating job search is maddening. Don’t lose your motivation, though, by taking any old job that comes your way. Use the tips and resources at WomenForHire.com to keep you focused on the career you really want.
  6. Success for Short Timers: How to Stay Motivated While Moving On: If you’ve already decided to move to a new city or make a career change, how do you stay motivated at your current job? Let this guide help you show up to work on time each morning without being miserable.
  7. How to Be Bulletproof in the Outsourced Economy: Employees lose jobs to international outsourcing everyday. Instead of getting frustrated or giving up, learn how to protect yourself against outsourcing and boost your overall job performance.
  8. How to Stay Sane During Your Contracting Career: Signing on as a contractor usually means you get to create your own schedule, pick and choose clients and maybe even work from home. On the other hand, contractors miss out on regular benefits and have to figure out their tax situation on their own. Read this post for tips on staying sane during your stint as a contractor.
  9. Find a Job: Create a Job Search Plan: Staying motivated during the job search is tough. Make a solid job search plan to help you stay on schedule and achieve your career goals.
  10. How to Resolve Conflicts with Your Co-Workers: The Career Journal from the Wall Street Journal offers advice for professionals who run into trouble dealing with irritating co-workers.
  11. 17 Ways to Survive Your New Boss: Just when you were getting comfortable with your office space, work schedule and job responsibilities, your department welcomes a new supervisor to boss you around. Learn how to survive the change with these helpful tips.

Setting Goals

Learning how to set the right kind of goals will get you started off on the right foot. By understanding how realistic expectations can affect your motivation, you’ll work your way down your to-do lists in no time.

  1. Goal-Tracking Tools: This post gives different ideas for creating your own goal-tracking tools to help you stay on track.
  2. How to Set Goals You Will Actually Achieve: Steve Pavlina’s post includes a detailed guide for setting realistic goals in a timely manner.
  3. How to Set Goals: wikiHow: If you want a basic how-to guide to explain the easiest ways to set goals, check out this tutorial from wikiHow.
  4. Goal Setting: Why Should I Set Goals?: Setting goals "can provide motivation, persistence and desire" so that you can more effectively achieve the results you want, whether in your career, fitness routine or personal life.
  5. How to Set Goals for the New Year: Learn the difference between short-term and long-term goals, the problem with setting goals that are too big and tips for setting your own goals, all in this post.
  6. 10 Questions to Help You Set Achievable Goals: Questions and activities like "write down 3 things you love" and what do you want less of" in life will help you set appropriate, life-changing goals.
  7. Tools to Help You Focus and Concentrate on Your Goals and Objectives in Business and Employment: This post outlines why it’s important to track your goals during each step of the process. The end of the article provides links to helpful tools and websites that can help you organize your professional goals.
  8. Setting Personal Goals: Take a minute to think about the last time you focused all of your energy on bettering yourself. If you haven’t reevaluated your goals since college, it’s probably time to examine your priorities and learn how to set new personal goals.
  9. 11 Goal Setting Software and Tools: This list of free tools will help you track goals from start to finish.
  10. How to Set Financial Goals for Retirement: If you need some extra motivation to understand how saving the $50 you could have spent on shoes will affect your retirement, take a look at this simple guide for setting up a long-term budget.

Finding Inspiration

Once you’ve found what drives you, you can keep going back to your inspiration every time you lose motivation. Let these guides help you discover your secret inspiration.

  1. Your Best Self: Find Inspiration: When in doubt, ask Oprah. This special section features testimonials of successful women who found inspiration when they needed it most.
  2. How to Find Inspiration to Write Everyday: Bloggers will find this article useful, as it has great ideas for finding motivation and subject matter to create frequent postings.
  3. Motivational Quotes and Inspirational Quotes: This collection of quotes from About.com features messages about creativity, health, relationships, the military and more.
  4. 8 Ways to Find Creative Inspiration: If you’re involved in a creative project but keep losing inspiration and motivation, try one of these eight tips for bringing it back.
  5. How to Find Inspiration for Song Writing: This post focuses on finding inspiration for writing songs, but its ideas are useful for all kinds of writing, from editorials to poems.
  6. MotivateUs.com: This website is full of inspirational quotes, stories and articles designed to motivate all kinds of people.
  7. What Drives You to Success?: This list of "10 of the most compelling "drivers" that account for the correlation between success and excess" will help you put your priorities in order.
  8. What Drives You?: Take this fun test from Tickle to find out your true inspiration.
  9. Where do Writers Find Inspiration: This posting from Helium.com lists different ways that writers find inspiration. The tips are useful whether you’re involved in a writing project or not.
  10. Blogging Tips: Hundreds of Resources for Finding Content for Your Blog: Lorelle from WordPress lists all kinds of places to find inspiration so that you can continue posting on your blog.

Discovering Yourself

These posts help readers find out what motivates them by helping them create personalized tactics for achieving goals and more.

  1. Identify and Live Your Personal Values: HR reporter Susan M. Heathfield coaches readers on how to identify the values that are most important to them. Because "values impact every aspect of your life," you’ll have a much better understanding of yourself, which will help you achieve your goals and stay focused.
  2. Achieving Peak Motivation: Steve Pavlina’s belief that polarity drives productivity and motivation requires a self-examination so that you can better understand what drives you. Read this post for more tips on how to achieve and maximize peak motivation.
  3. Improve Your Self-Confidence in 15 Minutes: This posting shares with readers secrets for boosting self-confidence so that you can win back your motivation.
  4. Do You Know What You Really Want?: You’ll never stay motivated if you’re chasing after someone else’s dream or are pursuing a lifestyle just because everyone else told you to. Find out where your heart is, and make an investment in what you love.
  5. Our Limitations are Self Imposed: Dave Cheong maintains that our limitations and labels are self imposed," and he cautions, "do not let your labels draw boundaries around who you are, what you can do and how you behave."
  6. How to Stay Confident in Your Decision to be a WAHM: Work-at-home-moms who need reassurance that they’ve made the right personal and professional choices should check out this article.
  7. How to Discover What You Really Want from a New Career: Before making the switch, read this article to help you determine what you really want from a new career.
  8. 10 Effective Ways to Stay Motivated: Staying motivated is a personal process. Learn how to stay focused by reading this informative post.
  9. Map Your Accomplishments to Stay Motivated: By tracking every progression and recession, you’ll learn a lot about what drives you, what makes you stumble and more.

Fighting Obstacles

From social constraints to negativity, distractions can ruin your plans to stay motivated. These guides show you how to stay on track no matter what comes your way.

  1. How to Stop Complaining: One of the biggest obstacles in staying motivated is complaining. Learn how to challenge your destructive energy and create a new, positive outlook.
  2. Succeed After Failure: After a series of failed attempts, you might be tempted to trade in all of your hard work for a pity party. Instead of giving up, check out this article for tips on how to succeed after failure.
  3. Getting to Now: How to Beat the Procrastination Habit: This popular post gives tips like "if it comes to mind, then do it" and "use a timer to bring you back to reality" to help you beat procrastination.
  4. Eliminate Procrastination: This article helps readers understand the causes of procrastination so that you can effectively eliminate it from your life.
  5. Low Carb Restaurant Eating: Learn how to eat healthy even when dining out with this great guide from About.com.
  6. 18 Ways to Stay Focused at Work: Learn how to avoid temptations and other pitfalls at work with the ideas provided here.
  7. Stress and Self Sabotage: Are You Creating Additional Mental Stress for Yourself?: Stop sabotaging your efforts to achieve your goals by checking out this post from About.com.
  8. How to Stay Positive When Business is Down: If the economy’s in trouble, there’s not much you can do about frugal customers and overpriced supplies. You can, however, focus on the positive "concentrat[ing] on the opportunities you still have" and "surround[ing] yourself with positive people."
  9. How to Stay Motivated When You Feel Like Giving Up: Whatever you do, don’t let yourself give up! Take a look at this guide to help you beat a negative attitude.
  10. How to Stay Motivated Forever: Once you’ve reached your goals, how do you stay motivated so that you don’t regain the weight, lose your business or become less productive? This post shares secrets for staying motivated forever.

75+ Tips on Becoming a Better Networker

Wednesday, January 16, 2008 at 12:26am by Site Administrator

Networking can open you up to new opportunities, relationships, and more. But you have to know what you’re doing, or your attempts may quickly become an exercise in futility. Follow these tips to sharpen your skills and make networking work for you.

The Basics

Before you can become a better networker, you’ve got to master these essentials.

  1. Always introduce yourself: Don’t get caught up in a conversation and forget to tell someone who you are. Be sure to say your name clearly and offer a business card when appropriate.
  2. Shake hands: Create a physical connection and open yourself up with a handshake.
  3. Bring lots of business cards: Never network empty-handed. Always have something to give to others for them to remember you by.
  4. Outline your goals: Have a clear plan in sight for every event or contact, and you’ll be better prepared to reap success through networking.
  5. Be genuine: No one wants to talk to someone who presents themselves awkwardly. Be authentic, and people will trust you.
  6. Stay positive: Be an energizing force to those around you, and others will be attracted.
  7. Keep a generous mindset: Don’t go to a meeting thinking about what you want. Rather, think about how you can help others, and you’ll earn what you’re looking for.

Your Body Language

When you’re meeting with others, it’s important that you convey yourself in a friendly, but professional manner. Make sure you’re communicating the right message with these body language tips.

  1. Maintain good eye contact: This should go without saying, but be sure to look a person in the eye when you’re talking to them.
  2. Smile: You should always convey that you’re a positive person, so smile and be happy.
  3. Learn forward: You don’t need to get in someone’s face, but leaning slightly foward to get closer will show then you’re interested in what they have to say.
  4. Stand confidently: No one wants to network with a person who lacks confidence. Present yourself proudly by throwing your shoulders back and standing up tall.
  5. Walk like you know where you’re going: Walking around aimlessly will just make you look silly. Even if it’s just to the bar, make sure you look like you’re going somewhere.

Choosing Groups and Contacts

You can’t, and shouldn’t, attempt to join every group possible to talk to every person you possibly can. Rather, focus on the ones that matter using these tips.

  1. Define what you’re looking for: Do you want to attend meetings for pure networking, or would you like to learn and volunteer at the same time?
  2. Visit a variety of groups: When you’re just starting out or even if you’re shaking up your networking routine, try out a number of different groups until you find a handful that work for you.
  3. Be strategic: Consider the value that each group brings, and only participate in those that offer something useful.
  4. Join a news group: Seek out a group that will keep you updated on the latest news and developments in your industry.
  5. Get targeted: Look for trade groups and meetings that have a narrow reach so you’ll be more likely to meet the right people.

Conversational Skills

Keep others engaged and interested by developing your conversational skills with these tips.

  1. Ask open-ended questions: Don’t ask questions that can be answered with yes or no-keep the conversation going with questions that beg more information.
  2. Have a concise description of yourself: Even if you’ve got your hands in a number of different industries and projects, make it easy for others to understand you in a nutshell. This will make it easier for them to refer you to others.
  3. Ask lots of questions: By asking questions, you’ll actively engage the person you’re talking to, and you just might learn something new.
  4. Be clear: Don’t make people read your mind. Ensure that the person you’re talking to knows exactly what you do and what you want from a relationship with them. Otherwise, they aren’t likely to help you.
  5. Start small: Discuss the event’s turnout or current events, and move on to more interesting topics once you’ve broken the ice.

Relationship Building

Once you’ve made inital contact, use these tips to forge strong relationships with your new networking partners.

  1. Make good: If you say you’re going to do something, do it. Whether it’s a referral, phone call, or favor, your actions reflect your strength as a networking contact.
  2. Always follow up: When you meet someone that can be a valuable networking resource, give them a call and express how much you enjoyed meeting them. This will give you an opportunity to further develop your relationship and discuss ideas that you may not have thought of in your initial meeting.
  3. Find common ground: Forge a relationship through something you have in common, whether it’s personal or professional, to stay visible.
  4. Offer something: Give people something they want, whether it’s an idea, contact, or other resource, to stay visible and helpful.
  5. Share your contacts: Become a networking node by introducing two people who can benefit from each other, and you’ll be able to both reconnect with them and deepen your relationship at the same time.
  6. Focus on quality over quantity: Don’t worry about talking to everyone in the room. Rather, seek to build relationships with the people who have something of value to offer.
  7. Go slowly: Don’t force your relationship to move too quickly. Get to know your contacts before asking them for huge favors.
  8. Offer introductions: Flatter your networking friends by taking the time to introduce them to a group of people.
  9. Form an inner circle: Once you’ve found a number of contacts, determine your inner circle and work to cultivate relationships and ask for referrals from these people more than anyone else.
  10. Find the right person: Your intial contact isn’t always the right person for what you want. Don’t be shy about asking them to introduce you to someone more appropriate.

Looking Inward

Much of networking takes place with people you don’t know too well, but strong relationships can be built upon with people you already know. Use these tips to help build your network through those that are already close by.

  1. Go to company events: You may not be crazy about golfing, but participating in your organization’s annual tournament can give you time to socialize one on one with people you may not have considered networking with.
  2. Seek out a mentor: Find an experienced friend within your company to help you build relationships and meet new people.
  3. Start a happy hour group: By organizing social events like happy hour outings, you’ll have a chance to connect with others in a relaxed setting.
  4. Organize a company picnic: Create an internal networking event with your coworkers and encourage everyone to invite their favorite clients and other contacts.

Shaking Nerves

Networking is a little daunting for introverts, but these tips are designed to make you feel a bit more relaxed at networking events.

  1. Be a volunteer: Give yourself an official reason to be at an event as well as something to do by signing up to help out.
  2. Dress comfortably: Wear something that makes you feel good about yourself to boost your confidence.
  3. Call when your energy is highest: Save conversations for when you’re more upbeat.
  4. Show up early: Networking is often intimidating because there are just so many people, but if you get there earlier, you’ll be able to chat with just a few people in a more intimate setting.
  5. Remind yourself of your worth: Think of the people who aren’t as capable and talented as you are that are mingling and making connections with the contacts you should be working with, and use this competitive ammunition to motivate yourself.
  6. Bring a friend: If you can’t face the crowd by yourself, bring a friend from your industry and work the room together.
  7. Go to events with a purpose: Events that are purely based around conversation can be intimidating, so go to gatherings like seminars, interactive classes, and workshops.
  8. Know what to say: Create conversations in your mind and think of key points to bring up to help train your brain and calm your nerves.
  9. Take a break: If you’re attending a long networking event or have plans for both the day and evening, make sure you take some time to yourself so that you can recharge.
  10. Go one step at a time: You’re not going to become a master networker overnight, so don’t try to be. Focus on baby steps to ramp up your networking experience.

Getting Connected

Use these methods to find new people to network with.

  1. Stand close to the entrance: Make small talk with new arrivals while they’re alone and looking for someone to talk to.
  2. Pick a nametag: Stop by the registration table to see who will be attending, and if you see someone you’d really like to speak with, ask if you can put a note on their name tag to ask them to find you.
  3. Seek out loners: Open up the shy and nervous types to get quality one-on-one networking.
  4. Hang out near the grub: People are generally accessible around food and often linger near the food table, so seek out new contacts in this area. You can even use food conversation as an opener.
  5. Diversify: Investors do it and so should you. Speak to a variety of different people to improve the quality of your contacts.
  6. Don’t sell at meetings: Selling your services at a meeting is generally inappropriate and usually a turnoff. Instead, focus on developing relationships and schedule a time to get together later, at which point it will be appropriate to sell.
  7. Differentiate yourself: Stand out from the crowd so the people you connect with will remember you after the event.
  8. Stay active: Don’t stay too long in one place. Keep moving to meet lots of people.

Online Networking

Take your networking efforts online with these tips.

  1. Keep an updated profile: Make sureyou’re offering the right impression about yourself by keeping information current.
  2. Avoid inappropriate material: Don’t post photos of you and your drinking buddies in a place where networking and business contacts can see them.
  3. Keep a moderate number of contacts: Be aware of the number of contacts on your profile. Too many will make prospective associates wonder how they’ll fit in, while too few will make you seem like you’re not connected enough.
  4. Be connected to appropriate people: Make sure you’ve got your bases covered where contacts are concerned. For example, if you’re a wedding photographer, you should be connected with venues, florists, dress makers, and others in the wedding industry.
  5. Check in with school: Check out your alumni organization’s website to see if they have an online community.
  6. Find an industry-specific community: Build higher quality contacts by joining a group specifically made for people like you.

Following Up

Keep things going with these follow-up tips.

  1. Say something interesting: Don’t just send a generic email to everyone you meet. Bring up something you discussed or share an anectode instead.
  2. Make future plans: Following up is useless unless you have a clear plan for how you’ll help each other or build your relationship in the future.
  3. Follow up quickly: Don’t let too much time lapse between your meeting and follow up, or your contact just might forget about you.
  4. Call just to say hi: If someone pops into your head for some reason, call and say hello, even if you don’t have an agenda.

Cashing In

Once you’ve got strong networking relationships in place, take advantage of them using these tips.

  1. Don’t wait until the last minute: Make sure you’ve built relationships before you actually need them. People will be turned off if you’re desperate and have nothing to offer.
  2. Reciprocate: If you’ve helped someone in the past, don’t be shy about asking for their help in return.
  3. Don’t be selfish: You shouldn’t always be the one looking for a favor in the relationship. Offer to do something for your contacts once in a while.
  4. Ask for advice, not favors: Go for the soft sell. If you’re looking for a job, ask for their opinion on how to get the job you want instead of asking them who they know that would like to hire you.

Business Cards

These are just a few ways you can use business cards more effectively when networking.

  1. Make notes: When you receive a person’s business card, make notes on it about follow up items, or just items you’d like to remember.
  2. Never deal out cards impersonally: Always wait until it’s appropriate to hand a business card to a contact and avoid giving them out before you’ve even started making conversation.
  3. Get creative: Business cards are generally boring and don’t spark a second thought. Make your business card interesting with an engaging design, and contacts may be more receptive to remembering you and giving you a call.
  4. Carry them everywhere: You never know when a networking opportunity will pop up, so always be prepared.
  5. Be generous: Give out two cards at a time-one for your new associate to keep, and one to pass along to someone you should get to know.

Going Further

Take networking to the next level with these tips.

  1. Be a leader: Hold a visible position within a group so you’ll be more noticed and respected.
  2. Become a resource: Make yourself knowledgeable in your industry, and other people will come to you for advice, ideas, and connections, which will strengthen your relationships and make you more visible.
  3. Go low tech: Email isn’t always the best way to communicate. Pick up the phone, send a handwritten note, or arrange for a face to face meeting, and your message will come across stronger.
  4. Create a newsletter: Keep your contacts updated on new developments in your professional and personal life with a newsletter on a yearly or quarterly basis.

20 Fail-Proof Ways to Expose Lazy Employees

Monday, December 31, 2007 at 4:32pm by Site Administrator

If you have a lazy employee in your office, you could find yourself working overtime to make up for missed deadlines and wondering if you should give your lackluster worker either a little extra motivation or the pink slip. While some employees simply take longer to perform certain tasks and think things through, this list is devoted to exposing those employees who purposefully show up to work late, waste time on the Internet and skip assignments, all in an effort to shave minutes off their work day. If you’re through putting up with it, check out this list of 20 fail-proof ways to expose your lazy employees.

  1. Monitor their arrival and departure times: The easiest way to find out if your employee is deliberately trying to cut out time spent at the office is to monitor the exact times they show up to work in the mornings and duck out each evening. If they are arriving late and leaving significantly early each day, confront them, and ask if they will be willing to work out a new schedule or make up the time they’ve lost.
  2. Cameras: If you’re having trouble tracking the arrival and departure time of your employees, or if you want to see exactly what they’re up to when you leave the room, consider putting a hidden camera somewhere in the office. You’ll have hard evidence of any slacking off, but just remember to be reasonable. No one wants to be known as their office’s Michael Scott.
  3. Spectorsoft: If you have suspicions that your employees are playing on the Internet all day when they should be researching or typing up reports, install one of the spy software products from Spectorsoft onto their computers. These products will let you know who your office’s "worst offenders" are after analyzing which websites, chatrooms and keystrokes are used.
  4. Send in an undercover customer: If you’re worried about how your lazy employee treats your customers, send in a fake client to request information or schedule a meeting. Have the undercover customer report back to you, detailing the employee’s efforts to make he or she feels welcome, give the correct information and adequately promote your company’s image.
  5. Recruiting tests: Sometimes managers can expose a lazy employee during the recruiting process, saving them time and trouble down the road. This article describes how one hiring manager weeds out lazy workers by asking them to fill out two applications: one online before the interview, and another one during the interview. The manager ultimately "finds that people who skip the parts on the second application that they had previously filled out online, will eventually turn out to be lazy once hired."
  6. Monitor lunch hours: Just because you work through lunch each day, don’t expect your employees to consistently do the same; however, if you have one or two employees who make a habit out of strolling back into the office twenty minutes after their hour was up, you have reason to expose their negligence.
  7. Track them with a GPS system: Lazy employees love running work-related errands out of the office because it gives them more control over the way they spend their day. If, however, you suspect them of running non work-related errands, install a GPS tracking system on the company vehicle, which will help you in "catching employees shopping, working out at the gym or otherwise loafing while on the clock."
  8. Schedule meetings early in the day or late in the afternoon: Within reason, schedule a meeting every once in a while at the very beginning of the work day or sometime in the late afternoon. If your employee takes major issue with the scheduling but can’t provide a reason for his tardiness (or absence), you will have successfully exposed their laziness.
  9. Follow through with deadlines: By not enforcing deadlines, you give your employees the signal that it’s okay for them to procrastinate or turn in work late. Strictly follow through with deadlines, and hold employees accountable when they consistently fall behind. Document your efforts to remind them of deadlines, through email or by using the popular Monkey On Your Back tool, so that lazy workers can’t make up excuses.
  10. Demand doctor’s notes: When an employee calls in sick practically every week, start demanding doctor’s notes from workers who have used more than one or two sick days. Just be aware of the fake doctor’s notes that can be bought online to trick managers.
  11. Surf Logger: This "tiny add-on for Internet Explorer" records website history, so that you can track which sites your employees visit when they’re on the clock.
  12. Guardian Software: Guardian Software is an Internet monitoring tool marketed towards parents who want to control what their children do online. Managers can use the same product to effectively expose lazy employees by blocking certain websites, recording e-mails from Yahoo, AOL and other accounts, and even "captures and records keystrokes."
  13. Cyberspy: If your office is on a budget, download Cyberspy to find out what your employees are doing on their computers. Cyberspy even captures whole images of a website or document in case you can’t properly evaluate the content from the file name alone.
  14. Employee Loyalty Acid Test: If your employee isn’t performing his or her duties at your desired level, they could be planning to leave your company for another job. Give your employees this survey to gauge their company and job satisfaction.
  15. Employee loyalty evaluator: If handing out surveys seems too obvious, check out this article to more discreetly evaluate an employee’s loyalty.
  16. Motivate them: This post from Yahoo! Answers discusses the proper ways to motivate a lazy employee in order to gain positive results in the office. Give them a vested interest in the company’s success by talking to them in your free time, limiting harsh criticism and helping understand that their slow pace affects other workers.
  17. Tell your boss: AskMen.com publishes this article, entitled "How to Complain About a Colleague." Readers will find different ways to tell their supervisors about lazy employees without sounding like a tattle tale.
  18. Award productive employees: If you can, set up a merit-based rewards system in your office that grants raises, gift certificates, or other perks to your most productive employees. Lazy workers may be so apathetic that you won’t see any change in their performance, despite the added bonus.
  19. GPS-equip the company phone: While giving your employee a GPS-equipped company car might be way out of your budget, try investing in a company cell phone that comes with GPS. If you suspect your employee of leaving the office early, you might be able to catch them in the act with the GPS system.
  20. Fire them: If you’ve tried to confront your lazy employee but he or she continues to miss work and deadlines, set a precedent in your office by firing them. Let your other employees know that you won’t put up with laziness any longer.

Before spying on your employees, discuss any problems you have with their less than desirable work performance. Laziness could be a reflection of a much bigger issue at home or in the office, and the problem could be solved in a more amicable way. If, however, your employee continues to be lazy at work, use these tips and tools to expose their listless behavior.

Work Happy: 25 Ways to Improve Your Mood When People Around You Are Miserable

Saturday, December 15, 2007 at 2:02am by Site Administrator

Deadlines are looming, your clients aren’t happy, and there’s a nasty cold going around the office. It seems like everyone around you is in a completely miserable mood, and they have no problem taking it out on everyone else. You don’t have to let the ill temper of your office mates affect you and how you’re feeling, however. After all, going to work in a sour mood and concentrating on the stressful elements of your job can have an adverse affect on your health. So how can you keep the general unhappiness of your work environment from affecting you? Here are 25 things you can try to improve your mood and maybe even the mood of those around you.

  1. Choose to be happy. It might sound overly simplistic, but the easiest way to rise above the cloud of negativity at work is simply to not let it affect you. Other people may have an impact on your mood, but the only one in charge of it is you, so choose to ignore the crankiness and find your own personal happiness.
  2. Make friends. People are generally happier at work when they have a few coworkers that they can count on as genuine friends. Get together for lunch or take a quick coffee break. You’ll be surprised how much talking to a friend can help elevate your mood and make your outlook more positive.
  3. Do things you love. If there are particular elements of your job that you love doing more than others, focus on these for at least a good portion of your day. Or, if you need to, use your lunch break to get away from the office for a massage, shop for a new pair of shoes, or spend it playing games at your desk so that the negativity of work won’t totally weigh you down.
  4. Avoid particularly negative coworkers. Everyone has that one coworker that always seems to be in a bad mood, even when things are good. Whether the people around you are perpetually negative or are just having a bad week, try to avoid interactions with them that could make everyone more unhappy.
  5. Meditate. Sometimes the key to being happier is to simply just spend more time relaxing. Meditation can be a great way to focus your thoughts and shake off all the unhappiness of the grumpy people around you.
  6. Take a walk. Few things can help lift your mood like a little bit of exercise. Whether you walk around the building or around the block, getting up and moving around can help you clear your head and improve how your body feels.
  7. Clean and organize your desk. A messy desk can sometimes make you feel overwhelmed and overburdened, even when you’re not. Set aside a few minutes to clean up your work area in the morning or before you leave at night. You’ll get to feel a sense of accomplishment that you got it done and get to enjoy having a desk that isn’t swimming with papers.
  8. Listen to music. One way to avoid cranky coworkers is to tune them out with music. Put on your headphones and crank up your favorite tunes. You’ll likely get more done, and you won’t have to listen to the grumpy chatter around you.
  9. Personalize your desktop. Working in the same boring gray cube day after day can take its toll. While you don’t have to go overboard, a few personal touches on your desk like photos of friends, family, or pets can make a big difference in your mental outlook plus you’ll have something to motivate you to get through the day.
  10. Eat better. Studies have shown that foods can have a huge impact on not only our physical well-being but our moods as well. Try incorporating foods like milk, chocolate, whole grains, blueberries and fish in your diet, as they have been shown to have a marked effect on anxiety and stress levels.
  11. Smile. Even if your smiles are only met with frowns, smiling can actually have an impact on your mood. If you think about it, it’s really hard to stay angry or upset when you’ve got a smile on your face, so even if you’re faking, it can help improve your day.
  12. Concentrate on working towards a goal. Even if you’re bogged down with loads of work you can still maintain your happy mood by just concentrating on one thing at a time. Set a goal for yourself, say finishing a certain amount of work each day, and concentrate on working towards it.
  13. Make someone’s day. Sometimes the best path to making you feel good is by making those around you feel good. Give a coworker a compliment or bring someone a coffee as a treat. Your kindness could be infectious and improve the mood of the whole office.
  14. Count your blessings. Even if work is a complete nightmare at the moment, it’s unlikely that there isn’t anything in your life that makes you happy or that you enjoy. Try concentrating on these things instead of the negative things at work.
  15. Find the humor in it. A good laugh can do wonders for your mood. Even the worst situations have a lighter side, so try to find it even if your coworkers can’t.
  16. Use aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is an age old practice based on the idea that smells can impact your mood. Whether it’s true for you or not it doesn’t hurt to try. Try bringing in potpourri, air fresheners or even some fresh flowers. Any smell that reminds you of home or happy things will work.
  17. Treat yourself. Whether your secret indulgence is a chocolate donut or an extra large order from your local Chinese restaurant, letting yourself indulge a little bit will make work seem less awful and put you in a better mood overall.
  18. Change your lighting. While not everyone has the luxury of an office with a window, if you do, arrange your office so that you can see out or pull the blinds up to let natural light in. If you don’t have a window, try bringing in a softer and more personalized light to offset the glare of the fluorescent lights in your office. Either will help your work area to seem less harsh and much more pleasant to be in.
  19. Shake it off. If people around you truly are miserable, chances are good that at some point they’re going to take it out on you. Learn to simply shake it off and not take things too personally, otherwise your coworkers will quickly bring you down to their level of unhappiness.
  20. Help out coworkers. If it’s possible that your coworkers are unhappy because they are overworked and you happen to have a little extra time on your hands, offer to help out. You’ll foster a sense of teamwork and hopefully make others feel less stressed and upset.
  21. Try to relate. While you shouldn’t let others’ bad moods affect your own, that doesn’t mean you can’t try to empathize with why your coworkers are so cranky in the first place. Try talking to them. Sometimes all people need to feel better is to get what’s bothering them off their chest.
  22. Look your best. Want to improve how you feel about yourself when you go to work? Try spending some extra time getting ready. Wear your favorite clothes or spend a little more time styling your hair. Whatever makes you feel like you look good will undoubtedly improve your outlook on the day.
  23. Get plenty of rest. It’s pretty easy to be cranky and short tempered when you haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep, so make sure to set aside a solid block of time where you can sleep uninterrupted and wake up feeling rested.
  24. Take your vitamins. Studies have shown that vitamin D can help boost your mood. Vitamin D boosts your brain’s level of serotonin, your body’s natural feel-good hormone, thereby improving your mental and emotional outlook.
  25. Get out of the office. If nothing else works to boost your mood around your angry and unhappy coworkers, then just try to spend as little time as possible at the office. Leave on your lunch break and try to be more efficient with your work so that you can leave on time at night. If neither of those are possible, sometimes a quick walk outside can be just as helpful.

Just Do It: 67 Ways to Tame the Procrastination Beast

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 at 11:57pm by Site Administrator

Let’s face it: even the most diligent of entrepreneurs can fall victim to the lure of procrastination now and then. It’s hard to blame them: sometimes a TV show, the Internet, or even just staring out the window is more fun than doing the tasks that really need to get done. But being a serial procrastinator is a sure way to direct your business into some pretty dire straits if you’re not careful. How can you learn to tame your short attention span when you really need to get things done? While everyone has their own little tricks, here are 67 ways we’ve come up with to help you concentrate when it counts.

  1. Take it one step at a time. A huge project can feel overwhelming and make it hard to figure out a place to start, encouraging you to put it off. Instead of trying to tackle all of it at once, break it into smaller, more manageable parts.
  2. Set time limits. Projects have a way of expanding to fill the time allotted, so set a time limit for yourself to finish a project. By focusing your time, you’ll get more done and maybe even end up with a few free minutes for yourself.
  3. Listen to yourself. Do you find yourself often saying that you "must", "have to" or "should" do something? This kind of talk is a recipe for procrastination. Instead, tell yourself that you "choose to" do the things you do. Changing your mind set can have a big impact on your productivity.
  4. Tackle your worst tasks early in the day. Often procrastination at work is due to avoidance of a particularly unpleasant task. If you make it a habit to get your least favorite tasks out of the way in the morning, the rest of your day will be a breeze.
  5. Stay organized. Clutter and disorganization can be big contributors to procrastination. It can seem overwhelming just to sort through all the papers and emails you have, let alone take care of what they discuss, so create a system for yourself to handle any incoming files, emails, and anything else so that it will stay neat and less intimidating when you have time to work on them.
  6. Plan your time. While this may sound a bit authoritarian, planning every hour of your workday can help you get a handle on the tasks you need to get done. Make sure to schedule in time for breaks and less stressful tasks as well.
  7. Prepare for tomorrow. Start your day off right by spending a few minutes at the end of each day planning what you want to get done the next day. This way, you can start working immediately when you get to work rather than spending time gathering your thoughts.
  8. Work around your most productive times of the day. Whether you’re dragging first thing in the morning or have a post lunch slump, don’t schedule important meetings or tasks around these times of day. Work with your natural rhythms to figure out your most productive times to get things done.
  9. Prevent interruptions. Your day shouldn’t be completely without relief, nor can you plan for all interruptions, but do your best to scale back on the number of things that can disrupt you. Shut your door, close your email, and send your calls to voicemail for a few hours to get some things done.
  10. Reward yourself. Give yourself little rewards for getting work done as motivation. After a few hours of uninterrupted work, allow yourself some time to surf the net or take a walk outside to break up your workday.
  11. Arrange for follow-ups. If you can’t keep yourself on task or just want a little outside support, arrange for a work buddy to check in on you periodically to make sure you’re not slacking.
  12. Stick to a routine. Following a routine can help you to get into the habit of not procrastinating. Doing the same activities each day might sound boring, but a routine can help you to prepare your body and mind for concentrating instead of running wild.
  13. Turn on music. While music can be a distraction for some, it can also be a great motivator. Pick out songs that pep you up and get you motivated to work, and you might get more done.
  14. Stop trying to make everything perfect. Procrastinators often feel that if they can’t do something perfectly, then they shouldn’t do it at all. The reality is that perfection is a subjective quality, and what you might consider imperfect might be just fine in reality. So, give yourself a break, do your best, and get done what you can.
  15. Don’t view work as eating up your leisure time. You’re less likely to tackle a large project if you view it as something that will eat up all your personal time, require you to work long hours, and ruin your social life. Instead, schedule time for everything, including fun, and simply don’t allow work to take up time you allot for relaxation. Studies have shown that working like this will actually help you get more done in less time.
  16. Allow some positive procrastination. Not all procrastination is bad. Sometimes we put off tasks by doing other smaller and easier tasks which need to get done as well. So long as you’re not missing deadlines or hurting your bottom line, this kind of procrastination isn’t necessarily a bad thing and you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it.
  17. Set a timer. One way to help reel in a wandering mind is to set a timer for a particular amount of time, whether it’s 5 minutes or an hour. When the timer goes off, stop and take a look at what you’re doing. If you’re off task, the timer can serve as a reminder to get back to what you should be doing. You can also use it to measure out intervals of time in which you’ll work, and when the timer goes off you can reward yourself for a job well done.
  18. Don’t multitask. If you have trouble sticking to one task, chances are you won’t have any easier of a time trying to do several tasks simultaneously. Instead, concentrate on one thing at a time so you won’t become distracted or overwhelmed.
  19. Modify your environment. You don’t have to turn your office into a sterile, unfriendly place to be, but you aren’t doing yourself any favors if you are surrounded by tons of distractions in your work area. Keep your desk and computer desktop simple, organized, and clean, and put away things that could serve as distractions from your work.
  20. Prioritize your activities. It’s very tempting to put off tasks that may not seem particularly important, so set up a priority system for completing tasks. Things with impending deadlines or of great importance should of course take precedence, but don’t let little things go completely by the wayside.
  21. Estimate your time. Before you begin a task, estimate how much time it will take you to complete it. This will help you to more effectively schedule your time throughout your day and keep you from feeling too stressed out or bored.
  22. Keep your mind and body fit. Stress, depression and illness can all play a big part in the decision to procrastinate, so do your best to keep your mind and body as healthy as you can by working out, eating right, and practicing relaxation methods that work for you.
  23. Don’t overdo it. It can be tempting to create a huge to-do list for yourself and overestimate your abilities, but don’t do it. You’ll be discouraged if you don’t finish everything you planned, so create short, manageable to-do lists that will leave you with a sense of accomplishment and a desire to feel just as productive tomorrow.
  24. Limit Internet usage. While the Internet can be a great productivity tool, it can also be a great productivity thief, stealing hours that you could have spent doing much more productive things. If you can’t manage your net time on your own try a program that will help you or simply disconnect your computer for short amounts of time so you can get to work.
  25. Create non-negotiable rules. Battle your procrastination with rules that you must absolutely follow, whether they stipulate that you will respond to emails for only one hour each morning or that you won’t ever leave unfiled papers on your desk. Share them with others and make sure you stick to them without exception.
  26. Consider what it means to do nothing. Have you ever really thought about what it means not to do a particular task? Could it cost you your business or your reputation? Often just thinking about the potentially serious consequences of inaction will be enough to get you up and running.
  27. Make a conscious effort to avoid excuses. Procrastinators are experts at making excuses both for themselves and others as to why they aren’t working. Anytime you hear yourself starting to make an excuse for not staying on task, stop and take a minute to think if you’re really justified in putting tasks off until later.
  28. Make your commitments public. One sure way to get yourself motivated is through fear of letting others down or embarrassing yourself. It sounds terrible, but it works. You’ll be much less likely to put off starting things if you know others are counting on you to come through.
  29. Put money on it. Depending on your level of commitment to procrastination, this could be a foolhardy mistake, but for most of us, the thought of wasting or losing money is motivation enough to step up. For entrepreneurs, many of the things you’re putting off doing are actually costing you money. Thinking about it like that can put things in a whole new perspective and give you motivation you didn’t know you had.
  30. Realize that easy isn’t always the best solution. Sometimes we choose to do things the easy way because it’s faster in the short term and we forget about the long term ramifications. While it might be against your procrastinator’s nature, sometimes putting in a little extra effort in at the front end can save you hours of work later on.
  31. Think less. Don’t over think tasks to the point of mental paralysis. Many people get stuck in the initial phases and fail to move on, but ideally you should be working as much as you are thinking or planning a project.
  32. Commit to five minutes. There are certain tasks that we just can’t avoid but that really are unpleasant. Tackle these by promising yourself that you’ll do at least five minutes of uninterrupted work. If you make it through the five minutes commit to five more until the project is finally completed.
  33. Balance your day. Don’t make your workday all work and no play. Make sure you take breaks and time to get away from your desk and relax.
  34. Decide if something is worth keeping right away. It’s easy to let mail clutter up your workspaces, but you’ll be doing yourself a favor if you decide whether or not something is important enough to keep immediately, then put it in a place where you’ll work on it or file it right then. This keeps stuff from piling up on your desk and keeps you from procrastinating in taking care of it.
  35. Use free time wisely. Have a few minutes waiting for your food to heat up in the microwave? Use that time to catch up on an email or file a few papers instead of just standing around. Those few minutes will add up over the course of the day.
  36. Take responsibility. You’ll never stop procrastinating until you can stand up to yourself and say that you don’t want to procrastinate anymore and mean it. Demonstrate your dedication to ending procrastination through daily action and eventually you’ll start to see a long term change.
  37. Identify where you procrastinate. Sometimes the key to beating your habit of putting things off is simply to figure out what it is you’re putting off. Maybe there are certain small tasks you hate or big projects you’re nervous about. Once you know what you’re avoiding you can start figuring out ways to make doing those tasks easier and more pleasant for you.
  38. Don’t get discouraged. Everyone has days when they’re simply more productive than others, due to lack of sleep, emotional issues or even just natural rhythms, so if you have an off day don’t feel like you’ve ruined your whole week and give up. Just start over tomorrow!
  39. Keep it simple. Don’t make getting things done more complicated than it needs to be. Clear off your desk, pare down the steps it takes to do tasks, and do whatever it takes to make accomplishing things as easy as possible.
  40. Do it now. It might seem overly simplistic, but the easiest way to keep from putting off tasks is just to do them as soon as you think of them. If you know you need to send an email to a client, don’t wait, just get it done. You’ll feel better about accomplishing it and you won’t have to worry about it later.
  41. Don’t put to-dos on your list that take longer than 30 minutes. This doesn’t mean that all your tasks should be quick, but if you have an item on your list that will take longer then you should try breaking it up into smaller chunks. This will keep you from feeling bogged down by one particular project.
  42. Determine your limits. Everyone has a breaking point or limits of what they can or are willing to do. Figure out where yours lie and don’t try to exceed them just to squeeze more into a day. You’ll end up tired and cranky and with less done than if you had respected your working limits.
  43. Alternate the pleasant with the unpleasant. It can be easier to jump into an unpleasant task if you know it will be followed by something you find pleasant. Almost everyone can muddle through an hour or two of more tedious work if they know there will be a period of relief or a reward afterwards.
  44. Make it fun. Something is only a chore if you think about it as a chore. Make your tasks as enjoyable as you can and they’ll be easier to stomach getting through.
  45. Be your own coach. Give yourself a little pep-rally before starting a big task. It might sound cheesy, but a little motivational thought can go a long way.
  46. Maintain perspective. Sometimes we get so caught up in the day-to-day trivialities of our jobs that we forget to think about the big picture. Consider how getting smaller tasks done will affect your long term goals both for yourself and your business.
  47. Remove uncertainty. Are you hesitating to start a task because you are uncertain of how to approach it or you just don’t know where to begin? Start figuring out where to begin as a separate task altogether and one that must be completed before you can move on. Do your research, ask questions, or just sit and think, whatever it takes to get you working.
  48. Give yourself positive feedback. Make a big deal out of checking things off of your to-do list and rewarding yourself for a job well-done. After all, you not only completed the task but conquered your procrastination as well.
  49. Work with others. Sometimes it can be helpful to seek the guidance and support of others to get motivated to work on a task. Use your coworkers and colleagues as inspiration and partners in getting your work accomplished successfully.
  50. Join a support group. For the serious procrastinator, it might be helpful to find a group of like-minded individuals to discuss your problems with motivation with. Often, others can be a great source of ideas and support and can help you get started on the right track.
  51. Stay in your space. If you’re like many people, you have a hard time staying at your desk and you tend to want to wander around to get a drink of water or talk with coworkers or employees. While this is acceptable some of the time, try to keep yourself firmly planted in your seat, as even small departures can send you way off track if you’re not careful.
  52. Let others know when you’re working. Help yourself to limit distractions by letting others know when you don’t want to be disturbed. It might sound rude, but sometimes you really just need to get things done without any interruptions. Put up an away message or hang a sign on your door if you need to.
  53. Create an incentive plan. Create a plan for yourself where certain intervals of work elicit certain rewards. The bigger the task accomplished, the bigger the reward so you have a reason to work hard.
  54. Learn to say no. One form of procrastination is taking on other tasks to avoid doing the ones you already have. Learn to say no when you have work to do.
  55. Be honest with yourself. Do you really need to spend half an hour looking for the perfect font for your presentation? Chances are, unless designing presentations is your only job, you’re simply wasting time. Learn to be honest with yourself about what’s really necessary and you’ll get a lot more done.
  56. Decide what doesn’t need to get done. Sometimes we procrastinate because the things we have on our to-do list aren’t really things that need to get done or are things that someone else could do. Delegate or eliminate these tasks from your to-dos and free up time and energy for more important tasks.
  57. Identify your biggest time eaters. For most people, this is the Internet, but for you it might be daydreaming, taking coffee breaks or talking on the telephone. Whatever it is, create a strategy to manage it so it doesn’t eat up your whole day.
  58. Change your thinking. Stop thinking "How will I finish this?" and start thinking "How can I start this?" After all, starting a project is the hardest part.
  59. Think about how procrastination makes you feel. Chances are pretty good that when you procrastinate you don’t feel good about it nor about yourself. There’s no reason to put yourself through this kind of damaging cycle. When you’re tempted to procrastinate, try imagining how you’ll feel later if you’ve gotten nothing done.
  60. Surround yourself with productive people. No one wants to be the office slacker, so surround yourself with others whose different attitudes towards work might rub off on you.
  61. Get started early. For most people, even those who aren’t great with mornings, accomplishing a lot in the morning can be a great feeling and will help you feel much better about the rest of the day. Remember, once you’ve gotten your work out of the way you can take a nap if you need to.
  62. Take care not to redo work. You can add hours onto your work time by going through files you have already handled or mail you didn’t bother to throw away. Take care of things once and do it well so you won’t have to come back later.
  63. Stop being so hard on yourself. You can work yourself into a rut by beating yourself up for not getting enough done. While it is important to be strict with yourself about time management and getting things done, in reality there is only so much you can get done in one day.
  64. Get some rest. One of the biggest obstacles to productivity is lack of sleep. How can you be expected to concentrate when you’ve only had a few hours of sleep? Whenever possible, try to get a full night’s sleep so you won’t be nodding off at your desk during the day or glued to the coffeepot.
  65. Don’t do the same task for too long. Unless you’re really wrapped up in what you’re working on, try to take breaks or chop up your projects into smaller parts. Doing the same task for too long can lead to feelings of tedium, and you’ll get bored or lose your motivation.
  66. Think of yourself in a positive manner. Keep a small list of things you’ve accomplished throughout the day or the week to help you think about yourself in a positive way. Thinking about all the hard work you’ve already done can help you feel more motivated to complete the rest of the work that you have to do.
  67. Keep it last minute. You can’t procrastinate if there isn’t time to procrastinate in. While you should allow a little cushion time in case of emergencies and unforeseen circumstances, sometimes the best thing a procrastinator can do is force him or herself to work under the gun so there will be no room for excuses.

How to: ‘Fire’ Your Bad Clients, Make More Money and Restore Your Sanity

Monday, November 5, 2007 at 2:37pm by Site Administrator

Clients are the bread and butter of any business. Without them, your business simply wouldn’t exist. So it can be hard for many business owners to think about sending clients away, especially those just starting out. But it’s inevitable that you’ll have a client that taxes both your resources and your personal sanity to the point where it becomes necessary to let them go. Don’t worry, you’re not crazy to send business away. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your business is to cut a client loose. It’s not always easy, but it will leave you with more time to concentrate on clients that are easier to deal with and more profitable.

Types of Bad Clients

Bad clients come in many flavors, but these are some of the most common offenders. If you’ve got one of these on your client list, consider showing them the door.

  • The Complainer: Don’t expect to ever do anything right for this type of client. Even if you deliver under budget and sooner than expected, they will still be disappointed for a reason they just can’t seem to communicate to you.
  • The Something for Nothing: These types of clients ignore the old adage and try to get as much out of you as they can for as little as possible. Often, they’ll get your initial estimate and expect the cost not to increase when they increase the size or duration of the project or keep adding on "little" things.
  • The Time Waster: Expect your time to mean little to these kinds of clients. They’ll be hard to get in meetings and when you finally get ahold of them, they won’t listen to what you’re saying. They’ll run you around with changes, pointless meetings, and time wasted waiting, and then complain how much they’re paying you.
  • The Aggressor: This type of client is the hardest to work with and the scariest to get rid of. They are often verbally abusive and threaten to sue for the slightest reason. Be especially careful when unloading these as they have particularly short fuses.
  • The Know-It-All: The know-it-all is sure that he or she knows how to do your job just as well as you do because they have a basic familiarity with the programs you use or read a book on the subject. What they don’t realize is that your experience and expert knowledge are really what they’re paying for. Nonetheless, they’ll question your every move and drive you crazy.
  • The Boundary Crosser: This type of client will ask you for your home phone numbers "for emergencies" and then call you on weekends and after hours just to check in. This kind of client taxes your personal life heavily.

How to Fire Them

Whether you have a client that fits one of these profiles or an entirely different breed altogether, when the time comes to part ways, do you know how you’ll go about doing it? Here are some tips on making the process as painless as possible.

  • Do it in writing. This will help to prevent misunderstandings and raised emotions. It will also give you a written record of your interactions with the client if you should need it to back you up later.
  • Make sure you get paid prior to terminating your relationship. You’re asking for trouble by firing a client who still hasn’t paid you, even though sometimes this may be the reason that you are firing them. As illegal and unprofessional as it may be, a jilted client may withhold payment for your services as retribution for letting them go.
  • Fulfill any remaining contractual obligations to your clients if it is at all possible or you may find yourself subject to the consequences of breaking that contract. If this is the case, you might want to bring in a lawyer to tell you your best options. Remember, you want to do the work you’ve promised to do, as your reputation is still at stake.
  • When letting clients go, be honest but not hostile or offensive. If you can’t think of any way to put your reasons for parting ways nicely, then tell them your business is changing directions or that you just don’t think you can complete their project in the manner or timeframe they hoped.
  • Don’t just leave your clients high and dry after you’ve let them go. They may not have treated you with respect, but that doesn’t mean you should return the favor. Recommend another business, preferably a competitor, to take the project instead.
  • If nothing else seems to work, jack up your prices. Either they’ll part ways with you themselves or the pain of working for them will be lessened by your increased paycheck.

While it might be difficult both mentally and financially to fire a client, in the long run you’ll be doing your business and yourself a favor. You shouldn’t let go of every client that is difficult, but if you’re hitting the brink with a client, it’s time to make a change. In reality, many clients that take up hours of your time are costing you more than they’re bringing in. By cutting these clients loose, you’ll have more time and energy to concentrate on bringing in new, more profitable business, and that’s really what business is all about.

10 Ways a Ron Paul Presidency Would Help Entrepreneurs

Wednesday, October 31, 2007 at 1:50pm by Site Administrator

We’re almost exactly one year away from the actual 2008 presidential election, and candidates on all sides are gearing up for another intense, whirlwind season of campaigning and fundraising that will hopefully be rewarded with a spot in the White House. Americans are also stepping up to the plate, paying more attention to the candidates and agonizing which ones affect their lives the most. Entrepreneurs, for example, are looking for a president who will allow them optimum freedom to conduct their businesses the way they know best.

Republican candidate Ron Paul has been toted as the conservative Constitutionalist, a former doctor and longtime Congressman whose purist ideals have led him to pledge a scaled-back presence of the Federal government if he is elected president. How would this philosophy help entrepreneurs? While we’re not officially endorsing Dr. Ron Paul for president, we think these 10 issues would give entrepreneurs and their businesses an extra boost. Read on to find out how.

  1. Ron Paul’s Tax Plan: One of Ron Paul’s most appealing points is his proposed tax plan. He opposes raising taxes and even plans to abolish the individual income tax and the federal income tax. Besides eliminating the debate over how much people in varying economic levels must pay in taxes, most Americans would obviously find themselves with a significant higher salary each year. With the extra cash flow, entrepreneurs would also have the ability to hire more employees, increase company spending on supplies, technology, and other resources, and improve their businesses overall.
  2. Social Security for Americans Only Act: Ron Pauls’ Social Security revolution is one practice that would allow him to reduce taxes. According to Dr. Paul, "today['s]…system is broke and broken." Instead of pumping more American dollars into the Social Security system, Dr. Paul plans to limit the benefits given to Americans only, and not illegal aliens. This plan saves Americans money by decreasing the amount of dollars spent on Social Security benefits as a whole. In addition, Dr. Paul also intends to make Social Security optional for workers by "cut[ting] payroll taxes and" allowing them "the opportunity to seek better returns in the private market." As payroll taxes are cut, employers no longer have to match a portion of the taxes taken out of each of their employees’ paychecks.
  3. New Health Plan: In an effort to decrease government spending, Dr. Paul proposes a new health plan that eliminates many federal government-sponsored programs and plans like universal health care. As the "national leader in preserving Health Freedom," Dr. Paul promotes a weaker FDA and the individiual’s right to choose what vitamins and foods he or she consumes. If the government stops spending Americans’ money on health care programs, entrepreneurs would notice a hefty salary increase.
  4. Support of Hard Money: Inflation could very well be every entrepreneur’s worst nightmare. Business owners are forced to raise prices on all of their products as a result of paying more for basic goods and supplies, and consumers quake at the thought of overspending and instead keep their wallets tightly shut. To combat inflation, Ron Paul supports the idea of hard money, or money backed by gold and silver. If the United States operated on a hard money system, the Federal Reserve wouldn’t be able to print extra money, and Ron Paul beleives that inflation would disappear.
  5. Against the Iraq War: Ron Paul is the only 2008 Republican candidate who voted against the war in Iraq. As an anti-interventionist, Dr. Paul would like to see the U.S. begin pulling out of Iraq and cut military spending. Entrepreneurs would enjoy improved relations with overseas business partners and contacts, debatedly lower gas prices that can dominate a small business’ budget, and slighter taxes that would otherwise be used to support the war.
  6. Believes in Free Trade: A free trading system would benefit entrepreneurs immensely. Business owners would be able to maintain contacts, persue trades, maximize profits and access capital resources without interference from the government, which could impose tariffs, boycotts, or other regulations.
  7. Opposes Welfare for Illegal Aliens: Just as Ron Paul plans to eliminate Social Security benefits for illegal aliens, he hopes to save Americans money by abolishing welfare benefits for illegal aliens. Dr. Paul believes in protecting Americans first and foremost, including financially. Limiting government-sponsored welfare programs cuts government spending, thus saving both struggling and booming businesses money.
  8. Plan to Minimize the Role of the Federal Government: Ron Paul believes that states are more qualified and better-equipped to deal with supposedly localized issues like education and health care than the federal government. In addition to cutbacks in social funding, Paul also supports the liquidation of organizations like the IRS and the Department of Homeland Security in order to drastically decrease spending and put more money into other, more deserving projects and into the pockets of American citizens.
  9. Supports a Free Internet: If there’s one technological resource that entrepreneurs value above all others, it’s probably the Internet. The Internet makes fundraising, networking, and reaching out to new customers excruciatingly easy, and Ron Paul recognizes its necessity. Dr. Paul’s own campaign has benefited from the Internet, and in an interview with PBS‘ The News Hour, he discusses how he has reached out to millions of younger voters through MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, and other member-driven sites. Perhaps his profitable experiences have led him to support the idea of a free Internet, an unregulated, uniterrupted Web community of individuals who socialize, conduct business, and earn their livelihood online.
  10. Privacy and Personal Liberty: Ron Paul’s devotionto privacy and personal liberty makes him a popular candidate among entrepreneurs. He believes that business owners deserve a reasonable allocation of privacy as they work with customers, vendors, investors, and banks to support their business endeavors.

No matter which candidate you end up supporting in the coming months, entrepreneurs have a difficult decision to make. With threats of inflation, war with Iran, and an overall economic slowdown, these 10 points are worth considering.

The Restaurateur’s Online Toolbox: 100 Tips, Tools and Resources to Help your Restaurant Grow

Monday, October 22, 2007 at 2:26pm by Site Administrator

As the owner of your very own restaurant, you’ve definitely made it to the top of the food chain. You have complete creative freedom, unchallenged authority in the kitchen, and hopefully an ever growing clientele. Unfortunately, you’re also in charge of settling disputes among employees and sifting through mounds of paperwork. If only you could figure out a way to finish the boring chores a little faster so that you could get back to the dicing, sautéing, steaming, and saucing. To help you out, we’ve developed this online toolbox of resources and guides just for restaurateurs like you. Blogs

These foodie blogs are full of helpful tips and articles that let you know you’re not alone in your gastronomical undertakings.

  1. Restaurant Marketing Blog: Learn valuable tips to improve your marketing strategy and attract more people to your restaurant.
  2. Eater: If you own a restaurant or bar in New York, LA, or San Francisco, connect with this network to have the food editors review your place. Who knows? You could instantly become the newest local hot spot.
  3. Confessions of an Executive Restaurant Recruiter: Commiserate with this blogger as you read witty, upbeat posts about what it’s like to recruit chefs, servers, managers, and other restaurant employees.
  4. WaiterBell Blog: Check out fun, informative posts about customer service, dining etiquette, negotiating the dietary preferences of picky children, and restaurant finance issues.
  5. Blogspitality: Blogspitality is where "RH editors chew the fat." Recent rants include "No Babies on the Table, Please" and "Trying Too Hard." After reading these horror stories, you’ll feel better about your own management mishaps.
  6. Diner’s Journal: As the food and dining blog from the New York Times, the Diner’s Journal is always the first to announce up-to-the-minute trends and industry news.
  7. Customers Are Always: This blog explores the dos and don’ts of excellent customer service. Brief your staff on the principles found here, and your clientele will be impressed.
  8. The Restaurant Blog: The Restaurant Blog, from AllBusiness.com, posts articles like "Staffing Errors Can Cost You" and "Do Your Menu Prices Shout Welcome" to help you improve your guests’ dining experiences.
  9. Restaurant Talking Points: Browse categories like sales, training, and customer service to get detailed tips on restaurant management.
  10. Restaurant Girl: New York’s Restaurant Girl knows her food. Check out this blog for enthusiastic reviews, gossip, and interviews, and get design, holiday, or management ideas for your restaurant from these experts.
  11. Bickell’s Blog: Visit Bickell’s Blog for articles on buying restaurant supplies, featured chefs, industry news, and restaurant management training guides.
  12. Restaurant Spy: This London-based blog reviews the best restaurants in the UK. Become a member to share your news and opinions on the message boards or to advertise on their site.
  13. Vinography: Make sure your bar’s wine selection is complete with the help of this blog. Get serving tips, wine ideas, and more.
  14. Diners From Hell: Read fun "dining disaster" posts, share your experiences on the forum, and find out what customers really expect when they go out to eat.
  15. Diners Nation: Diners Nation is an unbeatable resource for restaurateurs. Meet up with other managers and owners on the forum, post and look for restaurant jobs with the help of Employment Guide, and catch up on industry news from all over the U.S.
  16. Musings from a Restaurant Maven: This seasoned restaurant lover posts clever, insightful articles about customer service, waiting for a table, tipping, and eating out with children.
  17. Barista Brat: Check out this blog for funny "rants and raves" from a coffee shop barista. Get tips on dealing with annoying customers, and find out what your employees really have to put up with when you’re not around.

Productivity and Organization Tools

These handy hacks will cut down on paperwork and leave you free to mingle with your guests, develop new recipes, and have more fun at work.

  1. Spongecell Calendar: Use this online calendar to keep track of meetings, deliveries, and those ever changing server schedules. Easy edit tools will keep your calendar neat so you’ll never have to scratch through or white out changes again.
  2. bubbl.us: bubbl.us is a fun mind mapping application that will help you organize all those recipe ideas and new ingredients you’ve been dying to try.
  3. SlimTimer: SlimTimer urges you to "make love, not timesheets." Create task lists for your employees or run reports on how much time everyone spends at the restaurant to keep track of pay records.
  4. Remember the Milk: Manage your to do lists with Remember the Milk. Add and edit tasks, set up automatic e-mail reminders, and store and organize different lists in the simple Web-based filing system.
  5. Planzo: Share schedules and important events with all of your employees with the Planzo calendar.
  6. Mailman: Organize, edit, and manage your e-mail contacts with Mailman. The security features are tougher than normal e-mail client address books, so personal information always stays safe.
  7. Viapoint Smart Organizer 1.4: This Google Desktop organizer will help you minimize all the papers you have floating around your office. File away invoices, calendars, and other information in the online system, and you won’t have to worry about misplacing your important documents.
  8. Goplan: This online project management and collaboration tool notifies you when project deadlines are looming and allows you to connect with clients, vendors, and employees in the secure network.
  9. iOrganize: iOrganize is "the ultimate notepad" for Mac users. File away random ideas, conversations, inspirational look books or photos until you have time to organize them after hours.
  10. Share It Now: This download allows you to share anything on your desktop, so that you can easily connect with vendors and clients without having to clog up your inbox.
  11. MindMeister: Two heads are always better than one! This ingenious collaboration application lets you brainstorm with other users to come up with new layout plans, marketing strategies, or menu ideas with vendors, investors, and anyone else who wants to help.
  12. Ikordo: The last thing you want to pull you away from the kitchen is prep time for meetings you wish you didn’t have to attend anyway. Ikordo lets you organize meeting notes little by little, and sends you notifications by e-mail so that you’ll never be late.
  13. Harvest: Keep track of time with Harvest, which helps you "improve your business, one hour at a time."
  14. Biz-Plan 3: Even though you’ve already got your restaurant, you might still need to tweak your business plan and marketing strategies a bit in order to attract more investors and customers. Biz-Plan 3 will help you organize your proposals and ideas in no time.
  15. Hyper Office: This online project management application is perfect for small businesses. Engage your employees in extra restaurant responsibilities like scheduling, task tracking and management, and more to help alleviate some of the pressure.
  16. Box: This popular file sharing system offers different levels of membership: individual, business, or enterprise. Send large files to contacts using Box instead of e-mail for a faster, more secure connection.
  17. LogMeIn: Perfect for workaholics, LogMeIn allows you to access your computer’s desktop and software from anywhere. That way, you don’t have to feel like you’re leaving the restaurant when you jet off to trade shows, conferences, or even (gasp!) vacation.
  18. activeCollab: Tired of being the only one taking charge of a particular project? Invite others to help you out by joining activeCollab, a project management tool that helps you "eliminate stress" and "manage success."
  19. PunchyTime: Asking your servers, hosts, busboys and kitchen staff to literally punch in everyday is unbearably old-fashioned. Keep track of time with this Web-based tool that will keep you organized and modern.
  20. Basecamp: Setting up Basecamp on your restaurant’s network will let you and your co-workers easily manage to-do lists, communicate about projects, and delegate responsibility.
  21. Neptune: Stop procrastinating and "get stuff done" with Neptune. This easy-to-use tool prioritizes and organizes your to-do lists for you.

Networking Opportunities

Meeting up with other professionals in your industry will help you link up with investors, vendors, and potential business partners. Swap tips and horror stories with your new friends at these great conferences, clubs, and networking sites.

  1. Hospitality Career Network: Find qualified employees or think about switching restaurants with the job bank at the Hospitality Career Network.
  2. National Restaurant Association: This official site notifies visitors of upcoming events, industry news updates, relevant legislation and immigration policies, and much more.
  3. National Bartenders Association: Encourage your bartenders to join this organization for benefit packages, meet other bartenders, learn about new drinks, and catch up on bar and alcohol-related news. Membership is free.
  4. National Association of Catering Executives: If your restaurant also offers a catering service, consider joining up with this organization, which sponsors regional leadership summits and conferences throughout the year.
  5. Women Chefs and Restaurateurs: Learn about the different kinds of benefits and services you can obtain by connecting with the Women Chefs and Restaurateurs community.
  6. Chefs Collaborative: The community at Chefs Collaborative is "dedicated to promoting sustainable cuisine." Visit their website to find information about local chapters, donating and support, and more.
  7. American Culinary Federation: The ACF is the "premier professional chefs’ organization in North America." Discover new ways to manage your kitchen, further your career, and meet other industry insiders who can help strengthen your restaurant.
  8. Black Culinarian Alliance: This organization assists black chefs, managers, and hospitality professionals bring cultural awareness and diversity to the culinary industry. Search for employees or become involved in a youth-oriented culinary arts program in your town.
  9. National Bar and Restaurant Management Association: Link up with other restaurant and bar managers to learn about liquor licensing, managing employees, customers service, and more.
  10. National Council of Chain Restaurants: This organization is excellent for managers of chain restaurants or independent restaurateurs who are interested in becoming a franchise. Access government resources, join a committee, or just get more information.
  11. Multicultural Foodservice and Hospitality Alliance: Post jobs at the MFHA employment center, become a sponsor, or just read up on news about diversity and immigration in the workforce.
  12. LinkedIn: Create a LinkedIn profile to meet other restaurant owners and managers in your area, search for employees, or share stories and ideas with your customers.

Marketing Tips

Check out these resources for tips and ideas when you develop your restaurant’s marketing plan.

  1. Small Business Marketing Tips: This index of helpful marketing ideas from Inc.com will increase your restaurant’s popularity and success rate.
  2. Unsolicited Marketing Advice: Check out this blog for excellent marketing tips for succeeding in a technology-driven world.
  3. Microsoft Small Business Center: Microsoft.com provides all kinds of marketing advice, from holiday-specific ideas to online marketing strategies.
  4. CouponCuisine: CouponCuisine promises to take your restaurant to the next level with their set of tools, mailers, and other marketing resources especially designed for their dining clients.
  5. "Restaurant Marketing Tips: Beyond Coupons": This article from AWeber.com is a detailed guide for increasing your clientele.
  6. Small Business Branding: This Web site discusses the benefits of online marketing, branding, local advertising, and other strategies.
  7. Developing a Business Plan: Sponsored by the CIT Small Business Lending Corporation, this project will help you organize your ideas into one succinct, effective business and marketing plan.
  8. Restaurant Voice: This blog specializes in food service management and marketing tips. Recent titles include "Destination Restaurant: Drawing Patrons from Neighboring Communities" and "Co-Branding and Multi-Branding: When and How to Use Them in Your Restaurant."

Articles and Guides

These crash course guides are great for designing the inside of your restaurant, registering your property, or just getting a little extra support when you feel overwhelmed.

  1. Liquor Control: RestaurantEdge.com provides tips and information restaurateurs who are trying to apply for a liquor license. Find links to liquor license sites for all 50 states.
  2. Maxey Hayse Design Studio: Find easy tips for designing nightclubs, fancy restaurants, and casual diners.
  3. Tips for Great Restaurant Interior Design: This article from ezine.com offers lots of good advice for DIY restaurateurs and provides links to professional designers.
  4. ABCs of Real Estate: Before plunking down a serious deposit on a piece of property for your restaurant, quiz yourself on the ABCs of real estate to make sure someone’s not ripping you off.
  5. RestaurantNews.com: This Web site is full of articles and links to resources like health inspection information, classifieds, supplies, market reports, and more.
  6. Running a Restaurant for Dummies: The famed "Dummies" series now tackles the restaurant biz. Visit this site and find articles about staffing the kitchen, finding investors, and creating a menu.
  7. "How to Develop a Restaurant Menu: This short video explores the dos and don’ts of developing the perfect menu to show off your talents and please your guests.

Resources for Raising Capital

These tools will help you attract and connect with investors, so that having to raise capital won’t slow you down.

  1. Circadian Funding: This firm actively matches investors with restaurants to form "a partnership of business."
  2. "Capital Venture, Angel Investors, Lenders": This guide advises restaurateurs on how to find the right investors and lenders when first starting out.
  3. Bank of America Franchises and Restaurants: Bank of America has several different restaurant and franchise departments to help you acquire loans and financial assistance.
  4. Startup Nation: Startup Nation is a terrific resource for enterprising restaurateurs who need startup capital, want to connect with vendors, or learn how to design top notch marketing campaigns. Designed "by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs," Startup Nation understands the unique struggles of small business owners.
  5. Craigslist: Try posting a request for investors on Craigslist. Offer a free meal, private tour of the restaurant, and lots of coupons to attract backers.
  6. InvestorQuestions.com: This is the place to ask all of your investment and lending questions anonymously. Find out what investors really expect to see in proposals, annual reports, and more.
  7. "The Best Time of Year to Find Investors": This website has lots of great tips and articles like this one to help you narrow down your search when looking for investors.
  8. RaisingMoney.com: Discover clever strategies for attracting sponsors and donors. This site also connects visitors to grant services, credit and tax information, and small business advice.
  9. Fast Pitch: This online networking community isn’t just about meeting new contacts. Sign up to get marketing tips, advice on how to write proposals, and more.
  10. Proposal Kit: Use this software to develop proposals and reports that you can present to current and future investors.

Tips and Tools for Managing Clients, Customers and Vendors

The following list provides resources for organizing contact information, maximizing communication between vendors, donors and employees, and increasing your productivity in general.

  1. Zoho Meeting: If you can’t make a meeting because you’re waiting on a delivery, or you’re having an uncharacteristically busy Tuesday, connect with clients over the Web. Zoho Meeting is an excellent Web conferencing tool that keeps you from having to leave the restaurant.
  2. Breeze: Breeze creates and organizes "amazing email campaigns," so that you can effectively reach all your contacts with style.
  3. Boldchat: Keep your computer signed in to Boldchat, a chat and support system that works with your Web site. That way, you can talk with visitors about any questions or feedback they may have.
  4. Moo: When your restaurant offers new specials or wants to advertise a snazzy event or fundraiser, design and print postcards with Moo.
  5. 8apps: 8apps sponsors "social networking for productive people." Connect food and beverage vendors through fun features like Handshake, Blueprint, and Orchestrate.
  6. Monkey on Your Back: If you need to whip a vendor or employee into shape, send them a virtual monkey to remind them of tasks they need to hurry up and complete.
  7. Guru: This Web site is "the world’s largest online marketplace for freelance talent." Search for freelancers to help you out with Web design, copyrighting, and other chores you probably don’t have time for.
  8. Xing: Log on to this professional networking community to search for new talent, meet financial backers, and recruit new customers.
  9. Comodo: This e-mail client promises secure, uninterrupted connections so that all of your conversations remain exclusive.
  10. Backpack: Backpack organizes your many to-do lists and contact sheets, making it virtually impossible for you to lose track of anything.
  11. Chaos Software: This Windows app offers content management and time tracking downloads that help you stay on your toes.
  12. Highrise: For an easy way to master client relationship management, use Highrise, which includes an address book, contact manager, and project organizer. You’ll be able to keep track of all your kitchen, financial, customer, and employee duties in one place.
  13. eFax: Throw that noisy, junky fax machine out of the back office and use eFax, a system that allows you to send faxes through your e-mail. The first 30 days are free.
  14. SightSpeed: Stop wasting time driving all over town for meetings. Set up video chat and video conferencing with SightSpeed so that you’re always close to the kitchen.
  15. Essential PIM: This popular, all-inclusive CRM software comes complete with calendars, address books, and project management tools. Use with Outlook, your Palm Pilot, or even your iPod.
  16. Wufoo: To keep in touch with what you customers really think about your food, set up a feedback form on your Web site using Wufoo.

Accounting Tools

From employee paydays to paying all your bills, these accounting tools have got you covered.

  1. BillQuick Lite 2007: This up-to-date software combines project management, time tracking and payment plans into one effective system so that you don’t have to spend hours calculating all your bills.
  2. QuickBooks: Use QuickBooks for an easy-to-use accounting solution. Check the Web site before you order to get the best deals.
  3. Adminisoft Freeware: This accounting software is completely free. Organize invoices, "keep track of who owes you money" and "record all your supplier details" with the same tool.
  4. FreshBooks: FreshBooks is a powerful invoicing tool that allows users to automatically send out notices, accept payments through PayPal, and file away all of your important data.
  5. Tick: Tick is a fantastic online tool that helps you track how much time you and your employees spend at work so that you can organize payroll and report back to your investors.
  6. Dimewise: Just because you’re a restaurateur doesn’t mean you can’t also be a financial genius. Use Dimewise to break down your different accounts so that you can analyze exactly how much money you’re spending and how much you’re making.
  7. Blinksale: Blinksale is "the easiest way to send invoices online." Edit, print, and send invoices with this super simplified software, which organizes data by client, date, or template.
  8. Microsoft Office Accounting Professional: If you’re comfortable with Windows, Excel, and PowerPoint, consider using Microsoft Office’s Accounting Professional to help you out when you hit the books.
  9. OneStep Accounting: With OneStep, you gain access to a hefty accounting package but also a business management program that will help you set up and run your restaurant.

11 Principles of Entrepreneurial Leadership

Monday, September 17, 2007 at 11:30pm by Site Administrator

With the number of tools available on the Internet, it’s quite possible that entrepreneurs can build a successful business online – even a media empire. However, if you expect to expand, you will need to delegate tasks at some point. You simply can’t do everything yourself and also expect to grow.

That means you need to hire people and inevitably deal with “normal” work situations. Forget about traditional leadership. I’ve only ever had a very few bosses who were good leaders, but they taught me something because they were forward-thinking. Here’s some of their wisdom, distilled by my perspectives and my experience in the workforce.

  1. Never blame. At least, don’t blame an employee in front of another. If you have to reprimand, do it in private. This sets a bad tone, and you lose respect with all employees, as such things will get around like bad gossip.

  2. Don’t create adversarial situations. Don’t pit employees against each other or ask them to snitch. Healthy competition is fine. Back-stabbing is like a smile, but only in that it carries a long way through the company morale, and not in a good way.
  3. Understand the work. Be a constant learner. Have at least a fundamental understanding of the work you’re expecting your employees to do. It makes it easier on everyone when the try to tell you why something can’t be done, or that it will cost more.
  4. Don’t put square pegs in round holes. Basically, assign the right work to the right people, to allow them to work optimally. Don’t be like those companies that shall remain nameless that give you a job you can’t do and beat down your spirit. You wouldn’t want that and neither would your employees.
  5. Lead by example. If the company approaches a problem that covers new ground, don’t expect your employees to know how to solve it. If you know how, give them a crash course and let them take it from there. And by leading, I don’t mean leading employees like a puppy.
  6. Brainstorm. If they still have trouble solving a new problem, brainstorm with them. Proper brainstorming requires that at least the moderator of the meeting does some legwork beforehand. Record all ideas without censorship, or you might miss the best solution, which might be unfamiliar and thus seem odd.
  7. Ask, don’t tell. Communicate well and clearly. In a startup company with a positive environment and healthy competitive spirit, most people want to be asked, want to be challenged. Offer up the day’s or week’s “assignments” and let people pick. That is, if you’re not such a big company yet that you need to structure everyone’s roles. Don’t count anyone out. You might be suprised about who’s capable of what. Challenges also weed out the lazybones.
  8. Be decisive. Have a strategy ready. If business problems crop up and employees are aware of them, they’ll be thinking abou their bills, their mortgages, etc., not yours. (Possibly unless you’re giving them incentives.) So be the decision-maker, indicate what needs to be done, then ask for volunteers or assign tasks if necessary.
  9. Consider profit-sharing. Bonuses go a long way towards employee loyalty, passion and creativity. Sure, there’ll still be stragglers, but a creative bonus “matrix” weeds them out. If your company is young, there’s only so far you can go with bonuses, so also consider profit-sharing/ private shares. Talk to a good accountant about the best way to implement these incentives.
  10. Be sympathetic. Or at least courteous. It’s only human to not always be in top form, even with incentives. Talk to your employees, understand them and give them some leeway when possible. Have some redunancy in job descriptions, right from the beginning, to allow someone to temporarily take up the slack.
  11. Be firm. Being sympathetic is all well and good, but you do have a business to run. Be firm when it’s necessary.

These are by no means all you need to know or be, though they are amongst the important leadership traits.