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15 Strategies for Quickly Expanding Your Business

19, 2017

8 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Let’s face it. Scaling your business is hard. It takes considerable effort. In the beginning, it means wearing different hats. It means dealing with sales and marketing. It means understanding taxes and corporate compliance. It involves having to interact with customers on a daily basis. And so much more. At the end of the day, it takes its toll on you.If you’re struggling to grow your business, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Sure, it’s hard. But, what’s the alternative? A life-sucking 9-to-5 job? Surely not. Okay, maybe you’re longing for the security of a guaranteed paycheck. But, at what mental or emotional price will that come?The truth? If you buckle down, clear your mind, and just look at things in perspective, you can easily identify ways you can grow your business and make more money quickly. While hundreds of business growth strategies likely exists, the following 15 will take your business to the next level quickly and efficiently.Roland Frasier, a business growth strategist, has a unique approach to scaling businesses. As a principal of Digital Marketer and Native Commerce Media, and CEO of War Room Mastermind, he knows a thing or two about the online marketing world.Frasier, who builds and scales seven, eight and nine-figure businesses tells me that there are loads of ways to grow a business quickly. But, only 15 core strategies that will truly make a real impact on your bottom line. Some are time intensive at the outset. That much should be expected. But, the benefits and profits will ultimately make them well worthwhile.Like anything else in life or in business, you have to put in the time if you’re looking to reap the benefits. Don’t focus on the short-term outcome of your work. Look to the long term. Build sincere value and look to help your customers. Genuinely care. That should be the foundation. After that, it’s simply a matter of taking action and putting in the work to scale.Related: 7 Mental Shifts That Allowed Me to Become a Millionaire at 22The first way to quickly grow your business is by building a sales funnel. If you don’t have a sales funnel, you’re making a monumental mistake. Sales funnels can help to automate your business. It helps you to scale and grow quickly and easily. Sure, there’s some front-end work involved. Obviously. But, once those processes are in place, it’s smooth sailing from there.Frasier says that every sales funnel needs to be carefully conceptualized before it’s created. Consider the different funnels first and foremost. Whether it’s a free-plus-shipping offer or a high-ticket coaching funnel, it’s important to build your automated selling machine to quickly scale and grow your business.2. Utilize a customer management system.Manually tracking transactions is hard. No one wants to do that. It gets too cumbersome as the business grows. If you want to scale quickly, use a customer management system. There are plenty to choose from. But, it really depends on your line of work. Of course, cloud-based software like SalesForce is always a viable option.Quickbooks can help you with the accounting. InfusionSoft can also assist with sales and marketing. There are plenty of CMS systems, most of which integrate with other cloud-based services. Find what works for you and utilize it.Related: How to Become a Millionaire by Age 303. Research the competition.When going to market, and you’re really looking to get your offer to the masses, you need to research the competition. Frasier says he uses two platforms to conduct his research. The first is Similar Web. The other, AdBeat. Both provide competitive intelligence. It’s your chance for x-ray lenses into all landing pages, ad copy, and other stages of the funnel.This allows you to uncover any advertiser’s online strategy. Find the ads that have been running for the longest and emulate those. That’s the quickest way you scale any business. If it’s proven and it’s working for your competitors, it’s likely it’ll work for you.Loyalty programs are great ways to increase sales. It costs up to three times more money to acquire new customers than it does to sell something to an existing customer. Other resources pin this number anywhere from four to 10 times more. However, any way that you slice it, acquiring new customers is expensive.Frasier says that building a customer loyalty program will help you retain customers. It might also help you attract new ones as well. If there’s a clear incentive to spend more money with you, it’ll pay off in the long run. Build an attractive loyalty program and make it accessible to your existing customers and watch sales skyrocket over time.5. Identify new opportunities.Analyze new opportunities in your business by understanding your demographic better. Understand everything from distribution channels to your direct competitors, and even an analysis of foreign markets and other potential industries. There are likely dozens of new opportunities you could pursue immediately with the proper amount of analysis.Related: 25 Common Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs6. Build an email list.One of the most best and most effective ways to grow a business quickly is to build an email list. Clearly, that means you need to have a lead magnet. Why else would people subscribe to your list? And, with a lead magnet, comes the necessity for a sales funnel. Look into companies like Aweber, ConstantContact, ConvertKit, Drip, GetResponse and others for building and managing your list.Strategic partnerships with the right companies can truly make a world of difference. It could allow you to reach a wide swath of customers quickly. Identifying those partnerships might be easier said than done. But, look out for companies that are complementary to your own. Contact them and propose opportunities for working together.8. Leverage global platforms.In the ecommerce business selling products? Why not use Amazon’s FBA service? In the business of selling services? Why not use Upwork? In the business of renting vacation homes? Why not leverage AirBnB, InvitedHome, HomeAway or other global platforms? Find a platform that’s reached saturation and use it to grow your business quickly.9. Licensing dealsDoing licensing deals is a great way to grow your business without too much added effort. If you have a product that you can license to others and share a revenue of, that’s an ideal way to grow quickly. Taking a popular or successful product and bringing it to a company with a large footprint can help you achieve market saturation quicker.Related: I Started Saying ‘No’ to These 6 Things. My Life and My Business Got a Lot Better.If you have a successful business, and you’re really looking to grow quickly, consider franchising it. Although franchise costs are high and moving to a franchise model is complex and takes a lot of marketing know-how, it could make all the difference if you’re truly looking for quick growth.11. Diversify your offer lineup.Look into diversifying your offers. What complementary products or services or information can you offer in your business? In order to grow, you need to think about expansion. Identify new opportunities within your niche. Uncover the pain points. What else can you sell to your clients. Where else can you add value in the exchange?Related: 9 Steps to Increase the Value of Your Business12. Build passive income streams.Growing a business takes significant effort. If you’re dealing with razor-thin margins, consider building passive income streams. This way, you don’t have to worry so much about keeping the lights on, so to speak. Passive income will afford you the opportunity to make mistakes and not have to lose your shirt. It’ll keep you in business and provide a basis to grow and market and scale quickly by giving you ample resources.13. Acquire other businesses.Sometimes, acquiring other businesses is a very quick way to grow your own business. If you can find competitors or businesses in other industries that would complement your own, you could use them as platforms to scale fast. Take a look within your industry and even outside of it to find potential for potential opportunities.14. International expansion.Can you expand internationally? Can you take your existing offers and scale them internationally? What would it take to do business in Canada or Mexico or Europe? If you have a converting offer, international expansion could be a quick way to grow. You’ll incur some costs. Sure. But, the potential for profits could be massive.15. Create a webinar.Webinars are a great way to promote any product or service. It can also help you grow any business relatively fast. Webinars provide an automated selling tool for literally taking any product or service to market and reaching a wide audience quickly. The webinar medium is great for captivating audiences to clinch sale after sale, automatically.

How a Mom of 7 Turned Her Last $5 Into a Business Worth Nearly $1 Million a Year

19, 2021

7 min read

This story originally appeared on Business Insider

In 2005, Mignon Francois and her family moved to Nashville, Tennessee, with the promise of a job for her then-husband. But when the job fell through, he ended up going to work as a foreman and the family was left with limited income. Everyday expenses like food and transportation became a struggle. Even electricity wasn’t always an option. During the day, Francois would live in the dark so that when her kids came home, they’d have enough power in the generator. “I’d find myself often walking to the Kroger on the corner near my house to buy water to fill up the tub so that my babies could take a bath. And by babies, I mean all the way from 3 years old up to high school graduates,” Francois told Insider.Related: A Math Teacher Went From Earning $5,000 a Month to $28,000 Thanks to 6 Strategic Money Decisions Though neighbors didn’t know the extent of her family’s struggle, what they did know was that Francois had a talent for baking cupcakes. One afternoon in 2007, when she was sitting in the dark, a neighbor knocked on her door asking her for an order of 600 cupcakes at $1 each. Since she didn’t have the money to purchase ingredients for all 600, they agreed that she’d bake 60 first.”When I closed the door, I had a real come-to-Jesus moment with God and said like, ‘Seriously? You offer me this opportunity when I don’t have any money? I literally have $5 to feed us,'” Francois said.She decided to put on her shoes and walk over to the store to buy the required ingredients with the last few dollars she had. That evening, she got paid for the first batch of the order, turning $5 into $60. She then put that $5 back into the dinner budget and kept on baking. In late 2008, the mom of seven officially founded her company.Today, her business, The Cupcake Collection, a bakery for cupcakes, birthday cakes, and wedding cakes, thrives with nearly $1 million in sales each year. But Francois’s journey wasn’t easy. It took years of smart money habits and rigorous budgeting to slowly scale her operation from baking in her kitchen to running a nationwide cupcake empire. She used envelopes to divide her moneySince her family wasn’t living on a set salary, Francois never knew how much money they’d have from month to month. And so, between the risk of fees and overdraft charges, she couldn’t afford to have a bank account. As a Black woman, she also didn’t feel she had access to the same opportunities when it came to relationships with bankers.”I think a lot of times in my community, we often have been used to rejection from banks,” Francois said. “Having my money in a bank account at that time, if I had messed up even a dollar, it would have caused me to get a bank overdraft, which would of cost me $30, and then that’s just a vicious cycle of snowballing in a negative way.” So she implemented her own system and began dividing her money into envelopes based on necessary expenses. She used Dave Ramsey’s advice, in which you pay your four walls first, shelter, utilities, transportation, and food, before moving to tackle other expenses.When she made sales from her cupcakes, she divided her profits and taxes into envelopes as well. She would take 20% and set it aside for taxes. Any money spent on supplies was always put back in an envelope to purchase the next set of supplies. She was intentional about every dollarFrancois didn’t have access to a credit card. Everything she needed to purchase would have to be in cash. This compelled her to be intentional and have a plan for every dollar in advance so she wouldn’t get caught in a situation where she couldn’t purchase something she needed. Even small items she wanted, like spoons, bowls, or a mixer, would have a dedicated envelope. She followed Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps strategy and set an emergency fund savings goal of $1,000. Once she reached it, she aimed to save three months’ living expenses and then six.”That envelope system changed my life because when I looked up, there was a lot of money in there,” Francois said.She created smart budgeting habits with her kids by making it funFrancois and her children worked together to create habits that allowed them to stick to a budget. For example, if they were able to stay below their budget for dinner for the week, then they would allocate a little more money toward their fun money.If Francois could purchase certain items in bulk, such as fish, they’d eat that for the week and joke that they were “fishetarians.” If the week consisted of veggies, then they’d say they were vegetarians that week. For additional sides and snacks, they’d tackle their pantry and use what they already had to create meals.Her children would also keep a meter to track their time in the shower. She’d make jokes with the kids to remind them to keep the lights off.”We created this phrase where we’d say, the room isn’t afraid of the dark, why isn’t your light out in your room if you’re not in there,” Francois said.Any leftover change from a dollar would be put into a pickle jar. If a total purchase was $1.01, then 99 cents would go into the jar. Every time it filled up, it meant they could go out to dinner or take a trip.Saving money and remaining within budget became like winning a game. The more they were able to save up, the more they could put aside for fun stuff.She paid off her debts using the snowball methodFrancois had student loans and medical bill debts that had pilled up. As revenue began to come in, money that was left after the main bills were paid would be set aside to pay off debt.She used the debt snowball method to get out from under it, making the minimum payments on each while aggressively tackling the smallest debts first. If extra money came in, she’d increase the amount paid towards the debt.When it came to her medical bills, she’d write letters requesting forgiveness. She’d get offered settlements and she took them. Some settlements brought her total amount down by up to 80%. Moving forward, she didn’t want to owe anyone money, so she would pay her employees on a weekly basis. This helped her stay on track with her budget and expenses. Today, Francois helps others achieve their own entrepreneurship goals by serving as a board member and mentoring at Pathways Women’s Business Centerand Nashville Entrepreneur Center.She also works with Corner to Corner, a grassroots organization that helps people find their path to business ownership, and her company funds scholarships at Tennessee State University and works with various local community organizations focused on education and food insecurity.

5 Surefire Ways to Lessen Risks in Dropshipping

19, 2021

6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Compared with other ecommerce business models, dropshipping is probably the one with the least number of risks. Its low startup cost requirement makes it viable even for beginner entrepreneurs. Plus, having suppliers take care of warehousing and product fulfillment removes a significant amount of work and expenses that would otherwise be coming from your end as a store owner. But despite its many advantages, dropshipping also has its share of risks. These include risks from ecommerce platforms, suppliers, fraudulent customers and even poor management. Fortunately, you don’t have to go through the losses that I and many other dropshippers have been through. Proactiveness is always key to avoiding full-blown, expensive losses. Here are some actionable tips you can follow as early as now:1. Use multiple sales channelsPlatforms like Amazon, Facebook and Instagram are no doubt great places to set up an online store. But just like how you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket, neither should you rely on a single sales channel — especially one that you don’t own.Companies like Amazon and Facebook can change their policies, algorithms and advertising fees at any time. And what will you do if the changes suddenly put sellers like you at a disadvantage?I always recommend setting up your own website, because that gives you more control and removes the need to be dependent on unpredictable platforms. Once your store is up, you can then explore selling on other places while maintaining your website as your main channel.Bonus: there are many integration tools out there that can sync your site with social media channels and marketplaces like Amazon and eBay.Related: 7 Low-Risk Businesses You Can Start Tomorrow2. Set criteria for vetting products and suppliersProduct and supplier issues are common among dropshippers. However, these are also avoidable if you have the proper vetting process and criteria in place.You’ll never run out of potential products and suppliers, so the real challenge is to filter out those that could put your business at risk and find that who will help you win.To guide you, here are some of my recommended criteria for choosing dropship products:There’s an existing need or demand for the product.The product is lightweight but durable enough to be shipped to various places.It isn’t widely available in physical stores.It isn’t sold by big brands that are hard to compete with.It has interesting features that you could highlight in ads.Meanwhile, here are some things you should look for in dropship suppliers:They must be a manufacturer or wholesaler.They have lots of positive reviews and a considerably high seller rating.They have various shipping options, ideally including ePacket.They’re willing to send you sample orders. They don’t impose a minimum order requirement.They have plausible policies for returns and refunds.They communicate well. 3. Develop supplier contracts and store policiesA contract might not be a necessity if you’re just starting out with dropshipping, but it will become a must once your store gains traction. After all, you wouldn’t want to scale your business without first making sure that you and your suppliers are on the same page. This is especially important for niche stores establishing a name for very specific products.A contract will protect you and your supplier. Here are some points that a supplier contract should cover:Service level agreements (SLAs), such as shipping times and acceptable and unacceptable levels of service.It should specify the agreed wholesale price of goods, if possible. It should set rules for returns, refunds, chargebacks and handling fraud.It should set systems and/or sanctions for handling breach of contract.Additionally, your supplier contracts should be your basis for creating your store’s policies, especially the return and refund policy. A good store policy helps boost customers’ trust, but you and your supplier should be able to back it up whenever the need arises.Related: 6 Quick Ways To Make Money Without Spending A Dime4. Have primary and backup suppliersImagine receiving tons of orders only to realize later that your supplier doesn’t have enough inventory. Not only will you disappoint many customers, but these people might never buy from you again.You can avoid running out of inventory by having backup suppliers, especially for your best-selling goods. Some ecommerce platforms actually let you assign multiple suppliers for a single product, so take advantage of that and always have backups in place.Of course, you should make sure that your backup suppliers offer the same product quality as your primary suppliers. Vet them the same way you would a primary supplier.5. Create a system for fraud detection and order screeningFraudulent orders are one of the biggest risks that ecommerce businesses face. Some of these orders come in the form of an unusually big one-time purchase or a series of small purchases using the same credit card. However, they’ll later prove to be a scam that will leave you with chargeback notices, delivered orders that you most probably won’t get back and chargeback fees that will be a hassle to dispute. Fraudulent orders are generally detectable with the right systems in place, so it’s best if you invest in these systems early on to prevent big losses. For one, you should use a platform that complies with PCI DSS, or the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard.Secondly, you should set up verification methods for card-not-present (CNP) transactions. So instead of immediately approving CNP orders, you could ask customers to first verify the address registered to their issuing bank. You could also use AVS or Address Verification Services, which should do the verification process for you.Some ecommerce platforms could also help with analyzing orders and diagnosing details that could signal a red flag. Shopify’s fraud analysis is a good example. It automatically analyzes orders and shows you those that you might want to check manually. And if you find a transaction suspicious even after manual verification, then you might choose to cancel the order instead of risking getting scammed.You don’t have to lose big to win big. You already know the common risks in running a dropshipping business, so it’s only wise to address them early on and protect yourself against hard-to-predict changes, low-quality products, scammy suppliers, insufficient inventory, fraudulent transactions and all other dangers you may face.Use the above-mentioned tips as your guide, and remember that your dropship store is just like any other business: It requires proper management, including risk management. Related: 5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Dropshipping Business

The Top 10 Franchises That Can Be Run Part-Time From Home or Through a Mobile Unit

Looking to start a franchise but have limited time? These options might just work for you.

March 19, 2021

4 min read

Entrepreneur has been ranking the top 500 franchises in America through six different decades now, using a five-pillar system that helps us evaluate the hundreds of entries we receive every year. Those five pillars are:

Costs and fees, which includes aspects like the franchise fee, total investment and royalty fees.
Size and growth. For example, how many open and operating units does a franchise have? What is the growth rate, and how often does the franchise experience unit closures?
Support, focusing on training times, marketing support, operational support, franchisor infrastructure, financing availability and litigation.
Brand strength. How far does the brand’s name go with your potential customers? What is its social media following, history in business and experience with franchising?
Financial strength and stability, which centers on the franchisor’s audited financial statements.

These 10 businesses ranked at the top of our list among franchises that can be run part-time from home or through a mobile unit. Check out the slideshow to see if one of them might make sense for your lifestyle.

In the News: IRS Extends Tax Filing Deadline for Individuals and Self-Employed to May 17

It is tax season and this year the IRS is extending the filing and payment deadline for individuals and the self-employed to May 17. This announcement couldn’t have come at a more opportune time as Americans across the country continue to deal with the fallout of the pandemic.The IRS will make the postponement applicable to federal income tax payments for the 2020 tax year due on April 15, 2021. Furthermore, there will not be penalties and interest, no matter how much you owe. When it comes to the self-employed, the additional month will give entrepreneurs more time to get their finances in order. Whether it is finding the right documents or getting additional funds to pay their taxes, it will be very helpful. The IRS also wants taxpayers to know you can still apply for an extension if you need it.You can read the IRS Extends Tax Filing Deadline to May 17 for Individuals and Self-Employed and get all of the details in this week’s roundup.This is just one of the stories you will find addressing the issues affecting small businesses in the SBT weekly roundup. A couple of other noteworthy news include the extension of the deferment period for all COVID-19 EIDL loans and the fact that banks are not approving many non-PPP loans to small businesses.Read these and other stories on Small Business Trends’s weekly roundup.Small Business News Roundup – March 19, 2021The headlines in the weekly roundup:Isabel Guzman Confirmed as Next SBA AdministratorThe US Senate has confirmed Isabel Guzman as the next Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator. Guzman will play a key role in implementing the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill as it pertains to small business funding programs. Guzman says she’s committed to equity and has a deep knowledge of the needs of small businesses.Veem Local Offers Free Domestic Payments for Small BusinessWith many small businesses continuing to face economic stress and uncertainty because of the Covid-19 pandemic, having access to the advanced tools to streamline payments can prove invaluable. One such product is a new domestic payment product that aims to support small business owners in the US.Banks Not Approving Many Non-PPP Loans to Small BusinessesLoan approval rates made to small businesses by banks and other lenders have fallen significantly since their peak a year ago. The decline in loan approval rates to small businesses is noted in the latest Biz2Credit Small Business Lending Index. These approval rates refer to non Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.Small Business Administration Extends Deferment Period for all COVID-19 EIDL LoansThe SBA has pushed back first-payment due dates for COVID-19 EIDL loans issued in 2020 and 2021. Did you get an Economic Impact Disaster Loan in 2020? If so, your original first-payment due date was 12 months from the date of the loan. The SBA has extended that to 24 months from the loan origination date.Escape the “Shecession” and Start a BusinessThe impact of COVID-19 on American businesses has been significant, but women have been affected more than most. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, at the end of 2020, women’s jobs on non-farm payrolls were 5.3 million below February’s pre-COVID levels, compared with 4.57 million fewer non-farm payroll jobs for men.Jeff Immelt, Former CEO of GE, Interrogates HimselfMany former corporate CEOs write books after they retire. But no one has written an account of their tenure like former GE CEO Jeff Immelt citing both his accomplishments and shortcomings of guiding a company during crisis and change. I talked to him on the Small Business Radio Show this week about his new book “Hot Seat”.Image: Depositphotos

Meet Fisayo Longe: Entrepreneur Behind Trendsetting Fashion Brand Kai Collective

Starting a fashion brand can be a tough endeavor given the subjective nature of the industry. Independently doing this and competing with major companies can be even harder and relies on creators and designers being innovative in both their design and how they run their business. One entrepreneur who has managed to build a fashion brand influencing many other designs and managed to grow her brand during the COVID-19 pandemic is Fisayo, founder of Kai Collective. 
Early Beginnings 
Fisayo was born in England but spent her childhood in Nigeria. She moved back to the U.K. to finish secondary school and secured a place at university to study law. Unfortunately, she missed her grades but was fortunate enough to land a gap year scheme at KPMG which she accepted. She spent 6 months working at KPMG in her gap year and a few months traveling around Asia which was when she got the inspiration to start her blog based on fashion and travel. She was offered a full-time role at KPMG on her return where she spent 2 years working full-time as an apprentice accountant attending university in the summer holidays. 
Whilst working at KPMG she continued working on her blog which further enhanced her interest in fashion. She knew she needed to do something that came more natural to her and that she enjoyed so she took up a short-term contract at Liberty, a London-based fashion brand in merchandising to get further experience in the industry. She then wanted to work on all facets of a fashion business and have more autonomy to create her vision so set up her brand, Kai Collective.

Kai Collective 
The origins of Kai Collective came from Fisayo’s love for collecting fabric which she discovered on her travels. During a short course at London College Of Fashion, she noticed that many of the clothes they would review would be manufactured in Turkey and the fabric would also be from there. She decided to take a trip to Turkey and there she found wonderful fabrics and sourced a manufacturer. In hindsight she said a much more sensible approach would have been to go to trade shows however, this approach allowed her to explore the origins and environment her clothes would be manufactured in. 

With the product and manufacturing sorted Fisayo was ready to launch her store and figured because she was an influencer with over 50k followers marketing would be easier however “it was a real shock when things didn’t take off at first”. It ended up taking many years of launching new products, marketing, and sharing her journey online before Kai Collective had its first “good year” in 2019. Whilst Kai Collective didn’t spend any money on paid marketing this was the year they started to receive a significant amount of press coverage and other influencers started wearing their collections. 

Kai Collective Gaia Dress

Courtesy of Kai Collective

Gaia Dress & The Future 
As good as 2019 was everything changed for Kai Collective in 2020. Fisayo created the ‘Gaia Dress’ and before launching on her store it wore it to an event in January 2020. The online response to a picture from the event she posted on Instagram was overwhelming with many of her followers asking where they could buy it from. Whilst gearing up to launch the dress the COVID pandemic hit in Asia where some of her products were manufactured. This put a hold on launching the product but the queries from customers did not subside. 
As most of Asia bounced back from the pandemic her manufacturers made the first batch which she launched in April 2020. They sold out almost immediately and the furor around the brand continued with several press features such as an Elle cover story, various vogue features, and a mention on Beyonce’s directory of Black Owned Everything. 
Kai Collective now has a small team but big ambitions with a launch into the U.S. planned for 2022. Whilst Fisayo’s original ambitions were to follow a much more academic route, through perseverance and risk-taking she has found something in Kai Collective that comes much more natural to her and in the long run may well be significantly more lucrative and fulfilling.
This article is part of a series featuring underrepresented people making a difference. To submit ideas for features or keep up to date with new releases you can find me on Twitter – @TommyASC91.

Charlotte Flair's 5 Lessons for Women Who Want to Change the Game

The multi-time WWE champion shares exclusive insights to help women in any business excel.

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19, 2021

4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

A guitar, $50 in my pocket, not speaking English; I came to this country as an immigrant dreaming the impossible dream. And there were women before me, and there will be women after me, who continue to be relentless in their chase for freedom of choice. Most of all, I wanted to be able to say, “I did that. I built this. This is me.”Thirteen-time WWE Women’s Champion and actress Charlotte Flair knows what it’s like to create a legacy all her own — despite the name recognition of her father being legendary wrestler Ric Flair. As we continue to celebrate Women’s History Month — and with WWE’s Fastlane PPV coming up this Sunday at 7 p.m. — I stepped into the ring, so to speak, with the 34-year-old history-maker to tackle what it’s like to be a woman fighting for success. And, hopefully, to motivate women in all walks of life and business to pursue their aspirations with flair.Related: 4 Rounds With UFC Women’s Fighter Michelle WatersonHow have you overcome pressure and adversity in a male-dominated environment and society to become successful?I am building my own legacy, and I truly believe that when you find something that you’re passionate about, it shines through. There’s nothing I am more passionate about than professional wrestling, and second to that is my love for the business. Believing there’s nothing that a man can do that I can’t helps me stay focused. People believe in me because I’m passionate about what I do and I am myself. Having the passion to continue to work at my craft, you can’t take that away. You can’t take away passion or love or work ethic or growth. It’s about having the belief that you are equal and that you can do exactly what a man can do. Authenticity is central to success, whether you’re in the ring or in the boardroom.At your core, what is most important to you as a professional?I think for me it would be to only focus on competing with yourself, not any opponent. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in what everyone else is doing. But as a professional, what you bring to the table is different from what someone else brings to the table. So if you become your own competition, it’s so much easier to see that when one woman is succeeding, we are all succeeding.How did you decide wrestling was worth the commitment it would take to be the best?I chose to fight for my dream because that was the most important thing I could imagine as a fight worth the time, the effort, the heartbreak and the victory. We have to ask ourselves, “What am I willing to fight for? Is this a worthy battle? Am I passionate enough to see this fight through every round?” For me, the answer was yes!What advice do you have for women entrepreneurs who are fighting for their dreams?I created this character of this woman that I wanted to be in my real life. It’s OK to succeed. You don’t have to apologize for being successful. You don’t have to apologize for being good at what you do, and I think, as women, we tend to feel like we can’t be all those things, but we are. We’re wives, we’re mothers, we’re sisters, we’re friends, we’re business owners. And having those life experiences to bring to the table, we’re actually more equipped, because with experience comes knowledge. When I step into the ring, even though I don’t feel like a superhero every single day, I am this dominant 13-time Women’s Champion. When I put on my robe and my gear and I lace my boots, I know that.Related: All Elite Wrestling’s Brandi Rhodes Flexes Her Entrepreneurial MuscleAny final thoughts?One last thing I want women to know is that I didn’t start in the WWE till I was 27, and I feel like that’s later in life. So, for women fighting for their dreams: Just remember that your age doesn’t matter. You can change the course of your life anytime. It’s never too late.

In a World of Noise, Learning How to Switch Off Our Minds is a Super Power

19, 2021

6 min read

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“Psst, come over here. I’ll let you in on a little secret.” That’s how I felt when I listened to my wife talk about her latest problem. But before I tell you her problem and the secret, let me set the stage.Like many people, her company has turned to the work-from-home business model. Since March of last year, she’s been at home. Every day. From Monday to Friday, she works at our dining room table, with no end in sight.It seems obvious to me that more companies will embrace this concept even after Covid-19 is long gone. There are two main reasons why:No commute: allows employees to save between 30 minutes up to two hours a day in travel time. That can result in more sleep, less stress and more productivity for employees.Less office space: companies can reduce their office space in expensive cities, saving them a small fortune in overhead and increasing their bottom line.Anyway, the other day my wife happened to walk past a house for sale. We’re not in the market for a new place, but she popped in to take a look for the heck of it. Naturally, when she got home, she gave me the lowdown, what she liked and what she didn’t. She loved the kitchen, the lighting, the shutters, but hated the upstairs. One room was super small, not much bigger than a closet. The other two rooms were nice but not big enough for a queen-size bed.As it was a rainy day, we didn’t have much to do so I told her I’d like to take a look at it. For her, it was something fun. For me, it was something more.At present, I rent a small apartment which I use as my office/consultation area. It’s perfect for what I need, but it’s money down the drain every month. Why not buy the house, and turn it into a stylish office?After taking a look at the house, I asked my wife, “If we bought this house, would you want to use one room as your office?” Her reply was a simple “No.” She went on to explain that while she didn’t like the fact that there was no gap between her work life and her home life, there were advantages, too. She could do some prep for dinner while waiting for a response from her coworker. She could work out, right up until three minutes before she had to start working. On top of that, she has access to everything she needed.Earlier, I talked about the positives of working from home, but there are negatives as well. The big one is not having a separation between work and home. The result is we can’t stop thinking about work – the outstanding issues, the delays, the upcoming meetings, the mistakes. Before, when we were at home, it was easier to think about what we had to do at home, then when headed off to the office, we’d start thinking about work. There was a clear gap between the two. We could turn one thing off and turn on the other. Not now.That’s precisely the problem my wife is having now, and from talking to clients, it’s clear she’s not alone.Related: There Are Always a Million Distractions. Here’s How to Silence the …So, how do the most successful entrepreneurs and athletes learn to shut out the noise and perform at elite levels? After all, they are under constant pressure to succeed. The Elon Musks and Stephen Currys of the world have the weight of the world on their shoulders. How are they able to channel their focus with laser accuracy with all the noise around them?I found some answers in Kobe Bryant’s book Mamba Mentality which I picked up a while ago. It gives us a behind-the-curtains-look into the mind of one of the greatest athletes ever, basketball or not. I remember watching him play and it was uncanny how alike he and Michael Jordan were, but reading his book gave me insight into the concept of how to deal with pressure.Related: 8 Tips to Work From Home Without Being DistractedMeditationThis is something that the great Phil Jackson introduced to both his championship Bulls and Lakers teams. Single-minded focus is what is needed to perform at the highest levels of sports and business. Kyle Wilson, Jim Rohn’s 18-year business partner, starts off all his sessions with a guided meditation before getting to all the nitty-gritty.MusicMichael Phelps always had his headphones on before his races. Bryant explained that while some athletes love to listen to music to either pump them up or calm them down, for him headphones were a fake-out. He would merely put them in to keep people at bay. Nice little life hack there.Mental ChallengesThere’s a good reason why Crosswords and Sudoku are so popular – they give our minds something to do. Our brains are incredibly powerful, but when given space to think, we fill them with any number of things, which is why focus is so important. Giving our minds mental challenges allows us to focus on one task and shut out the rest.Video GamesAs a productivity consultant, I am hesitant to mention this as I know what a time drag video games can be. Nevertheless, video games are extremely good about creating focus – just ask any parent who has bought their kid a Nintendo Switch or PlayStation 5. Some games, such as Monument Valley, Hocus and Last Voyage, allow for creative, out-of-the-box thinking. Games like World of Tank Blitz allow for strategic thinking in quick 7-on-7 skirmishes. If games are your escape, just be sure to set a timer because it’s easy to lose track of time in the video world.ConclusionNoise is possibly the biggest challenge facing the modern entrepreneur. Social media, SNS, emails, colleagues, bosses, clients, friends and family are constantly vying for our attention. Our ability to keep that noise at bay will often determine just how successful we can be regardless of what field we are in.Related: Silencing The Noise: Managing Digital Distractions For A Better You