| Business Efficiency: Simple Ideas That Will Save Time

Posted in Small Business at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

Saving time and money is a top priority for almost all business owners. That is how you become more productive and reduce workloads. However, achieving that goal isn’t always as easy as it might sound. In many instances, you will have to think outside of the box and look for some expert advice. In the hope of pointing you in the right direction, there are some suggestions in this article. All of them should assist you in working towards your efficiency ambitions. Of course, there is always more to learn, and so you need to continue your research after leaving this page. Just use this information as your starting point.

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Use Specialist Software for Your Contracts

All business owners have to keep contracts handy at all times. That is because you never know when an employee will act negligently. You also never know when a client might break their sales arrangements. You’ll never manage to deal with those issues if you can’t take a quick look at the original paperwork. Top contract management software will remove all the hard work from that process. Whatever happens, you just have to log into the system to retrieve everything you require. That’s much better than keeping the documents in paper form. We all know how easy it is to lose files of that nature.

 

Remove Human Interaction As Much As Possible

The concept of automation in the business world has become popular during recent years. There are many ways in which you can remove human interaction from the equation. Obviously, that would help most companies to become more efficient. For example, you might consider making an investment in the latest accounting packages. Some of them will record all your financial transactions automatically. You could also follow the same strategy when dealing with supplier orders. If your stock runs low, there are software solutions that would send an email to your vendors without any interaction from your team.

 

Know When to Outsource Tasks Within Your Operation

Sometimes you have to hire specialists to manage certain parts of your company. Let’s presume you employ a huge team to deal with customer service issues. It takes a long time to work through all those complaints and questions. So, your company isn’t as efficient as it would become if you chose to outsource. There are plenty of expert firms out there that could handle the process on your behalf. In most situations, you just have to provide them with a script to follow. Your customers won’t know the difference, but you will take a step closer to optimum efficiency.

 

Having read those suggestions, you now need to put them into action. There is no time to delay when it comes to making your company more efficient. That is one of the best ways to avoid wasted time and increase your profits. So, consider the advice from this page as you develop your growth strategy for next year. I guarantee that you won’t regret using some of this advice to ensure you make the best moves possible. See you next time!

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| The Hidden Costs Of Starting Your Own Business

Posted in Start-up Ventures at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

When it comes to starting up your own business, there are several costs to think about. You might need some capital up front to get inventory or to rent an office or a factory. There are staff costs, as well as paying yourself a wage. But have you ever thought about the hidden costs of starting up a business? There are several costs when it comes to starting your own business and working for yourself, but some of them aren’t of the financial kind. So here are some areas to think about if you’re looking to take the leap to start out on your own.

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Your Time

Even if you have budgeted in your business plan for you to get a wage, it will work out as very little compared to how many hours you will be putting into the business (to start with at least). But when it is your idea and your plan, you will want to see it through every step of the way (rightly or wrongly). So your time will be used up quite a lot, and you will more than likely find it hard to switch off to start with. So never underestimate how much a business will take over your life, and as a result, take over your time.

 

Your Reputation

If something doesn’t go to plan in your business, or something out of your control happens that affects your business; then your reputation could be the price to be paid. So although working for yourself can give you a lot of freedom, you have to remember that your name is on the door, so to speak. So only sign off on the things that you are really happy to sign off with, and only approve those things that are good enough to keep your reputation intact and your customers happy.

 

Your Ideas

In such a digital day and age, your ideas, content, plans, and information all need to be protected and copyrighted. For someone to hack your website, then they will only need a certain amount of information plus some know-how. But to steal content and ideas that are published, on your website? It can be much simpler. So you need to make sure you are being savvy and not putting too much information out there. You should also look into copyright and making sure you are protected under that. There is also something called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that stops people from stealing your information or copying things from your website. So even if the worse does happen, you do have some form of protection. It is a good idea to learn more about the DMCA so you can take steps and as when you might need to.

 

Your Relationships

When it comes to different relationships, whether that be family, work relationships or romantic relationships, there can be a strain on them when you’re busy starting your own business. You might not be able to work with other colleagues as planned, or might have to choose work commitments over family commitments. Not everyone is going to be happy for you when they see you achieve too. So it is just something that you need to be prepared for, and take steps to deal with it all positively.

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| Train Your Employees For Profit Growth

Posted in Staffing at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

Managing your employees is a lot more than simply attracting the right people for the jobs and paying them each month. Employee management is both an art and a science. You need to strike a fine balance to make sure that you get the best out your employees and that, in turn, will help your business to grow. Your employees are your greatest asset so you need to know how to look after them properly. Employee training, on an ongoing basis, is a key aspect of employee management and has many benefits for both the employee and your business profits.

Reasons Why You Need to Invest In Employee Training

A trained employee is a happy employee. There is no doubt that employee training results in improved job satisfaction and increased morale. Employees are more motivated and enthusiastic when they have been trained and that results in more sales and more profit. Your organization becomes more efficient because employees are not wasting their time on outdated techniques and modalities that do not work. Overall, your employee turnover decreases and this has massive financial benefits for you because recruitment costs a lot of money and is very time-consuming and disruptive.

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The Best Training to Provide Employees

There are some types of training that bring maximum benefits to your business. Top of the list has got to be sales enablement best practices training which will give your employees the best practices, tools, technologies, and processes to use in increasing productivity and performance. The focus on inbound marketing includes detailed instruction on sales coaching, onboarding, performance analysis and content generation leaving you with a highly skilled and highly effective workforce who can generate profits for your business.

Computer skills are also highly relevant to all businesses. If you are able to train a designated employee to deal with your IT issues you could save a lot of money in outsourcing the work or buying in a consultant. Your employee will have a better understanding of what your business needs in terms of IT equipment and connectivity. They work in your organization every day and so they will be able to spot where the problems are arising and where improvements can be made. They are also on site and readily available, with a working knowledge of your equipment, should things go wrong.

Health and safety is an important aspect of all business and without a good knowledge of the best working practices, you could be putting your employees at risk. The law requires you to safeguard the health and safety of your employees and providing health and safety training is a key aspect of this. Start by finding out what the law requires you to provide as a minimum. This will differ between industries. Then go above and beyond what is required. Your employees will appreciate that you have their welfare at heart and you will see this reflected in productivity rates.

Invest in training your employees now and reap the benefits in the future!

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| How to Find the Best Suppliers for Your Business

Posted in Small Business at 1:00 PM by Loftis Consulting

Supplying your business with the correct goods is important. If your business can’t find the right suppliers, you won’t be able to get a constant stream of goods to help you manufacture and sell your product. Even if you have reliable suppliers right now, there’s no telling if they’ll be out of business in the near future, or if they’ll suddenly stop selling certain supplies and, as a result, force you to find new suppliers.

The truth is, every business needs more than one supplier. There needs to be variation because it forces there to be competition. If you have a supplier that constantly gives you deals and has excellent customer service, then they’re going to be a lot more reliable in the long term than a company that doesn’t try to establish a working relation with your business. In order to find the best suppliers, you’ll need to use a combination of networking and research, and here are a couple of tips to help you out.

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Identify the Suppliers That You Need

First, identify what exactly you need from your suppliers. For instance, maybe you need linear actuators to create a product that requires repeated movements such as a bed or a disc drive. Perhaps you need specific types of e-clips to secure components in a device. Whatever it is, write down a list of specific products that you need that can only be bought from specialty stores. This will help you in your search for the right supplier. There are times when you might need to visit multiple suppliers because you need various different products, so separate them based on the business you purchase from and always find at least two or three suppliers for each component you need.

 

Network at Trade Shows And Events

A great place to look for reputable suppliers is to network at trade shows and events. When you attend with your product or a sample, make sure you speak to as many people as possible so that you can identify new suppliers, make deals and even meet people that can refer you to different suppliers. Networking is important when attempting to get the best deal because you can socialise and make friends with industry figureheads who know all about where to get the supplies you need. In some cases, trade shows that you attend could be made for components and suppliers, and you’ll have so much choice to choose from that it can be difficult to decide. However, the more people you meet and the more contacts you connect with, the higher the chance you’ll find the best suppliers.

 

Negotiate Pricing Before Production

Another important aspect of finding the best supplier is to negotiate. When you’re in the middle of negotiations with one business, don’t neglect the possibility of speaking to another business at the same time. At the end of the day, you’re a company that wants to get the best deal on products and haggling is a natural part of running a business.

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| Ecommerce Platforms: How To Make Your Money

Posted in Small Business at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

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Business nowadays is mainly constructed online. The internet has opened up a massive gateway both for consumers and sellers; those who haven’t considered the option of listing what they’ve got to sell on the net, whether it be a physical item or a service, are missing out on great opportunity. It’s not so much that people aren’t looking around the stores that they’ve got in offer in their home town – it’s just that everything is accessible via the net, and whereas a day’s shopping in real life may procure some good results from things that you haven’t expected to come across, shopping online cuts out the need to waste time looking for things which may not be there.

With that said, there are a lot of companies that aren’t getting it right when coming to taking their business to a digital state. There are certain things to cover, from design to insurance to marketing – how can you hit each one successfully?

 

Sort Out Your Shipping

When you start selling via an online platform, you need to ensure that you have everything in stock – or at least will know exactly when a product will be with you. The public don’t wait around when they want something; we are in a demand culture where we expect everything in a very short time span due to services such as Amazon Prime and Express Delivery getting products to us faster than ever before. If you are importing from abroad, consider getting a shipping lawyer from IRB Law or another reputable company to cover any accidents happening with your cargo. This is especially important if you are operating a business via eBay or another marketplace; financial losses from loss of cargo can directly affect your business and how you operate in the future. You need what you’ve got to sell in the fastest time possible.

 

Look At Your Platforms

The main thing about opening an online shop is that you are looking at how navigable it is to your consumer. If your buyer can’t get from A to B in the buying process both quickly and easily, you can guarantee that they won’t be returning to your store in a hurry. There are a lot of recommended ecommerce platforms available for you to look through, but make sure to look at the pros and cons thoroughly for what works best for your business.

 

Hit Your Target Demographic

If you’re not reaching out properly to those that you should be, your sales will suffer as a result. The language that you use, the graphics that you incorporate and even the angles and background in the shots of your products to sell all differ depending on the group of people that you are aiming for. Being able to pinpoint what you need to do is a matter of looking at those who have gone before you and succeeded; don’t try and reinvent the wheel, but utilize what you can find online to your advantage. It always works.

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| Starting A Business That Suits Your Skillset

Posted in Start-up Ventures at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

In this modern age of endless possibilities, it’s easier than ever for somebody to start a business at home through the internet and build it from the ground up. Unfortunately, as with all aspects of the world, something becomes more accessible and then everybody accesses it. So, whilst there are more opportunities than ever for a budding entrepreneur to get started with his or her business model, there’s also much more competition than ever in every industry imaginable. It can seem impossible to stand out or carve a path in such a brutal and competitive landscape.

Most importantly, it can seem impossible to figure out which path you should take in the business world. Maybe you’ve always known that you wanted to start your own company, but you currently find yourself with no ideas as to what kind of business you should start. You don’t want to plunge into the challenging world of freelancing until you have a concrete idea that you’re passionate about. Well, the key is to start a business which suits your skillset, rather than forcing an idea which you can’t carry out to the fullest of your ability. Here are some ideas of different skills that you may have and the types of business which could be grown out of them.

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Linguistic Skills

If you’ve always had a penchant for writing, understanding languages, or coming up with creative, witty, or perfectly-word ideas then there are numerous opportunities in terms of building a business around your linguistic skills. In fact, when it comes to starting a business, being skilled in terms of language is possibly one of the best talents you could hope to have. You need no qualifications; you need only prove to potential customers how good your writing is by… well, showing them a sample. It’s that simple.

You could head down the path of providing advertising services to clients; that might include writing promotional material for them or even emails that they could send out to their own clients. You could even re-write resumes for people trying to apply for certain jobs in certain industries if you know what it takes to build a strong resume. The key is to learn everything you can from books and online resources so that you can offer a skillset that other people either don’t have or don’t have the time to utilize.

 

Graphical Skills

If you’ve always had a talent when it comes to drawing then you were probably told by teachers, friends, or perhaps even career advisors that there are few very jobs out there for creative types. Perhaps you always dreamed of becoming an artist, but there are very few calls out there for the new Van Gogh. Of course, this is all complete nonsense because you need only look at the modern world through modern eyes in order to understand the place of a creative in this new landscape.

In much the same way that aspiring writers may go down the path of writing promotional content to pay the bills (as mentioned in the first point) before they pen their first great novel, aspiring artists have plenty of job opportunities available to them. As suggested over at https://www.entrepreneur.com, you could start a business which designs logos or even entire websites for businesses if you acquire some web development skills (it’s quite straightforward these days). There are always ways to twist your creative talents to your advantage, and this is certainly one of them.

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Tech Skills

Technological skills are so important in the modern age because every business in every type of industry requires them. That being said, you don’t necessarily have to be a technological wizard to start a business built around technology and the internet. This is no longer a realm reserved for the digital geniuses of the world; everybody uses technology these days, given the popularity of the internet, smartphones, and every electronic device on earth. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to monopolize on that. It’s all about providing a service that people need in the long term, and the internet offers those types of opportunities in spades.

You could check out www.wizzhosting.co.uk/reseller-hosting if you have the entrepreneurial know-how and resources to spend money to make money; you could get a bulk amount of server space, resell it to clients, and then charge them monthly or annually for the hosting service you provide. People and businesses are always going to need websites for as long as the internet exists. Being a middleman may not always be glamorous, but it sure does provide numerous opportunities for a good business model if you know how to market yourself and build a client-base.

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People Skills

As mentioned over at http://loftisconsulting.com, the key to running a successful freelancing business is to be a master of communication. You need to have excellent people skills because you’re trying to get your unknown brand onto the map by acquiring a client base; you’re only going to achieve that through knowing how to connect with potential clients. Of course, whilst every freelance business owner needs some element of social ability, your skills with regards to talking to people could actually be your business. If you’ve always been the person who could connect with any person in a room of crowded people then turn this into a business model.

You could start a marketing business because the world of sales is all about people; advertising companies which fail are the ones who don’t understand the human customer at the other end of their promotional material. If you can sell somebody a solution to their problem rather than sounding like a walking advert then you’re probably the perfect entrepreneur to start a marketing or advertising agency for other businesses. You don’t need a product or service to sell in itself; your business model can be that you help other companies sell things, as suggested over at http://www.mytopbusinessideas.com. You should learn about digital marketing because that’s a very coveted skill by businesses (your potential clients) in the modern age.

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| Getting The Most From Your Workforce

Posted in Staffing at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

As a business owner, you’ll know that you need to squeeze as much as you can from your resources. Every single thing that contributes to your business is going to have 100% effort, and input asked of it in some way shape or form. This is unavoidable and if a business wants to succeed this always has to happen. Certainly, some bigger businesses will be able to cut the slack simply because things are a bit easier for bigger businesses – they’ve already ‘made it’ you see.  You’ll have to make the best user possible of your working space; you’ll have to push your ideas to the limit, you’ll need to make sure that every single penny counts and of course, you’ll need to ensure that you are getting the most from your staff. This is tough work! But you’ll have to do it if you want to get anywhere in the world of business

Make the most of your staff? Yes – indeed you will. Using your workforce in the right manner is critical to the productivity of a business. You need to get the most from your staff so your business can run well. However, there’s an issue – your staff will never be able to give you 100% of their effort. It’s impossible. It’s well known that even on a good day, you’ll be pushing your luck if you can get staff members to devote 75% of their full effort to working. Some staff members will devote their life to giving 100%, but this cannot be expected from the vast majority – and that’s ok – we’re all human – you, as a business owner need to account for this at all times and do your best to engage your workforce to ensure they are doing what they can to ensure the business is operating well.

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Engage your workforce? Yes – a survey showed that only 13 percent of employees are engaged at work. That’s worrying. That means your productivity suffers because of human nature – so that means that you need to work extra hard to ensure your staff is engaged in their work. Easier said than done? Maybe.

You need to ensure that your staff is educated about workplace policies. You need to develop your staff and work with e-learning companies to deliver learning materials that can help them do their job – or learn new parts or techniques of it. IF your staff are trained, they can perform their job to a better standard and they might be more engaged with the role.

You also might believe that compensation is enough to ensure your staff get on with the job. This is not always true – even when staff are paid well, your workers might believe that they are underpaid. These thoughts are a natural flaw of our thinking, but it still happens. You’ll have to do a lot of deep digging within your business to get your staff engaged. Ensure your workers are not overworked and stressed out – ensure that their roles are enough for them to handle. Stress will destroy your workforce. There are plenty of ways to get staff engaged, but the solution isn’t always clear. You’ll need to find it to succeed – though.

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| Maximize On Your Small Office

Posted in Staffing at 1:00 PM by Loftis Consulting

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Has your cramped office been getting you down? If so, you need to figure out how you can maximize your limited office space so that you can make your work area as efficient as possible. Here are some great tips that should help you do just that!
Have Stand-Up Meetings

Stand-up meetings are becoming very popular with companies for numerous reasons. One is that they encourage meetings to be very brief and to-the-point as no one wants to be on their feet for too long! But they are also very useful if your business as limited space in the office. People can just stand in the middle of the office or walk around if you don’t have the space for a dedicated meeting room. One great advantage of walking meetings is that they get everyone’s blood flowing, which can really help generate inspiration!

 

Use Light Well

There are a few ways you can create the illusion of space in a tight office, one of which is allowing as much natural light in as possible. Don’t worry if you don’t have enough windows for this, you can just be clever with artificial lighting instead. For instance, you should use LED spotlights that illuminate the whole floor space, rather than just illuminating the ceiling. This can help make the room feel a lot larger than what it actually is.

 

Reduce Your Paper

Clutter is going to make your office feel significantly tight on space, and one of the main sources of clutter is paper. You can try and reduce all of this by printing fewer documents and contracts, instead store them in the cloud. Alternatively, you might want to think about using document storage services. These firms will collect all of your sensitive documents and contracts and store them in their warehouse for you, which can save you a whole lot of space!

 

Think Vertically

In a large office, you would be able to add quite a few filing cabinets and drawers. However, you just won’t have the space for this in your small space. Because of this, you need to start thinking vertically and seeing if you can add some shelves to your walls. You might also want to add some wall hooks for coats and jackets. These will save the space that would be taken up by a standing coat rack.

 

Don’t Use Too Much Art

Art can really brighten up your office space and add a touch of your own personality to the space. However, if you use too many busy patterns and go overboard with the wall hangings, you might find that it feels like the walls are closing in! Rather than adding lots of different artworks to your walls, you should stick to one bold color for an accent wall. This will attract attention and help your office space look very stylish!

No office is ever too small once you start to use these tips! You might be surprised to find just how spacious you can make yours feel!

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| Made in America is back! The benefits of reshoring

Posted in Manufacturing at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

Reshoring may seem like too big and logistically complicated a commitment for most business owners, but it just so happens to be one the strongest trends in manufacturing in recent years.

For those unfamiliar with the prospect, reshoring is the practice of returning manufacturing operations to the US that had previously been moved to another country (typically in Asia or Mexico).

Many cite logistical complications or cost as a deciding factor in businesses not reshoring their operations to their home turf but as this injection molding cost calculator illustrates, rising costs of overseas production are proving that overseas production can be an increasingly false economy.

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But it doesn’t stop at cost. Here are some unexpected benefits of reshoring manufacturing operations:

 

Quality

Overseas production may have seemed attractive due to its low cost. But low cost may mean low quality parts, low quality tools, low quality labor and low quality technology. The logistics of shipping can result in your business having an inventory full of cheaply made, low quality products and by the time you find out about it, it’s already too late.

Today’s consumers value quality that you just won’t get from countries with lax manufacturing laws.

 

Control

Overseas production relies on you placing a great deal of trust in manufacturers’ production processes. Ensuring that products meet your exacting standards can be logistically complicated or even impossible. Many foreign countries are less stringent in their worker conditions, product standardization and quality control. Relocating manufacturing to US soil allows for greater control of product quality and greater assurances that manufacturing staff are working in fair and safe conditions.

 

Feeds Competition and Innovation At Home

As industry, jobs and infrastructure return to US soil you will be uniquely positioned to help feed the country’s industrial recovery and lead innovation.

Over the past 30-40 years as manufacturing has drifted towards Asian territories, Singapore, China, Korea and Japan have achieved great innovation through manufacturing.

Streamlining

Goods produced overseas come with inherent complications and overheads. Goods are shipped from overseas to warehouses at home where they must be stored and transported to stores, businesses and individuals. These processes can be time consuming, risky and expensive.

Goods made on US soil usually have much simpler distribution processes that represent a reduction in risk, time delays and costs.

It also makes sense to bring your products closer to their intended American consumers. Reshoring production back onto American soil puts production capacity closer to the home market and presents a huge reduction in time-to-market for completed products.

 

Creating Jobs At Home

Unemployment levels are on the up but America still has millions of unemployed men and women struggling to find gainful employment. Reshoring is a great way to ensure that American workers have skilled jobs to help grow our economy and status as a global manufacturing hub.

Every business is different and the scope of your operation and the extent of your existing commitments will determine how readily you can reshore manufacturing back home, but these are some important reasons why you should at least consider it.

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| How To Stay Motivated In Your Business

Posted in Small Business at 5:00 PM by Loftis Consulting

When you take the first step towards starting your own business, you feel nothing but excitement, exhilaration, and perhaps a touch of fear. These emotions kept you motivated through the highs and lows of being accountable for your own income. However, as time passes, those positive emotions can be replaced by exhaustion, boredom, and a lack of motivation. This is a problem not just for your startup, but for your income if you’ve given up your day job to become a full time entrepreneur. It can be tough to maintain the level of enthusiasm that inspired you to become your own boss in the first place, but unless you do your business won’t thrive. Here are a few suggestions to help you stay motivated.

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Set a Personal Mission Statement

You started your business for a reason; because you wanted to improve something within an industry or provide a service for people. Whatever your reason was, it was personal and it came from a desire to do something. It can help to write down a short statement that summarizes the broader goals, culture, and underlying core values of your business. As long as you remain clear on your mission, you’ll find it easier to stay motivated.

Know When You Need Help

Entrepreneurship has only really become a popular career path in recent years, so chances are your lack of motivation comes from inexperience. You can’t hope to navigate through the trials of owning your own business if you don’t know exactly what needs to be done. Up until now you’ve had supervisors and bosses guiding your career, but now you need a different kind of training to make it as a business owner. Fortunately for you, there are companies such as Scrum On that have made it their business help others navigate their own business. A consultant or a special training course might be the thing you need to figure out your next step.

Find a Mentor

Most entrepreneurs struggle with motivation because up until now they’ve had a boss looking over their shoulder and making sure they stick to deadlines. If you’re motivated by peer pressure and external deadlines, then you need a mentor to make sure you stick to your business goals, and give you valuable advice about overcoming common challenges.

Spend Time in Inspirational Places

It can help to take a step back from your business every once in a while and spend time on something else. Watching a TED Talk, reading an inspiring novel, or listening to podcasts while exercising can reignite your entrepreneurial flame.

Sleep

Sometimes your work becomes lackluster because you’ve been burning the candle at both ends. You may be in the critical early stages of your business, or you may be going through a crisis of some sort, but there is nothing that can’t be solved with a good night’s sleep. After a night of deep rest, you will feel refreshed and in a better state of mind to tackle your problems.

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