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Friday, December 25, 2015

This Detroit Entrepreneur Is the First African-American Woman to Score a Patent for a Natural Haircare Product

This Detroit Entrepreneur Is the First African-American Woman to Score a Patent for a Natural Haircare Product

DECEMBER 18, 2015, Amanda lewan


At the time when Gwen Jimmere invented a new haircare product, she didn’t know it was going to be a success. She also didn’t know she’d be the first African American woman to hold a U.S. patent for a natural haircare product.

The natural hair industry is estimated to be a $2.7 billion industry, and it’s under a resurgence. For Gwen, when she saw the documentaryGood Hair by comedian Chris Rock, she quickly realized how unhealthy most hair products were to use. She also learned how the industry was often led and owned by those not purchasing the product.

All of that is changing, and Gwen is helping to lead the way.

“I grew up in a household where if you can’t find it, you can make it,” she says. “I created the Moroccan Rhassoul 5-in-1 Clay Treatment out of necessity. Having natural hair can be very time consuming and expensive, taking two or three hours to complete your haircare regimen on what we call wash day and costing hundreds in haircare products each month.”

As a new mom, she didn’t have time anymore for two to three-hour wash days, so she developed something that would allow her to cut time. Gwen was also troubled that many products labeled as natural actually didn’t appear to have many natural ingredients. So she invented her own, and when friends of friends -- and strangers -- started to buy her product, she knew she was onto something. In 2013, she formed her company NATURALICIOUS.

It was soon after, when she found herself laid off from her job as a global marketing director at Ford while being just a month away from finalizing her divorce, when the newly single mom put all of her effort into taking the leap. Now, two and a half years later, her company has hit the seven-figure mark with a product that’s patent protected and sold around the world.

But obtaining a patent was no easy feat. As a single mom, Gwen couldn’t afford the fees to hire a patent lawyer. Instead, she spent six months researching and studying how to file one for herself. She did spend what was needed on filing fees and hired help researching prior art. It also helped that Detroit also has a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office -- one of only six in the country.

“I saved between $8,000 and $18,000 by filing on my own, but it did take me six months to learn patent law,” she says. “I made really good friends with the librarians who helped me during that time.”

The approved patent is for the new application of the clay based product imported from Morocco, which is a cleanser that also works as a conditioner, deep conditioner, leave-in conditioner and de-tangler all in one. The product cuts down a traditional wash day to a less than an hour. Gwen also guarantees a two-month trial period. If you don’t like the product, she’ll gives 100 percent of your money back, and buy you a competitor's’ product to replace it. That’s a big guarantee -- but to date she hasn’t had to take anything back.

Gwen hopes to encourage all entrepreneurs to consider ownership over their products, to think in terms of trademarks and patents and not just to share a product with friends.

“The patent gives me leverage and can be a part of wealth building. I really want women entrepreneurs to start legally owning our creations via intellectual property. We innovate incredible things all the time,” she says. “Consider patenting these inventions. Think about protecting yourself, your business and your legacy.”

Thursday, December 17, 2015

7 Tips to Becoming a Millionaire

by Daniel Ally, Self-Made Millionaire, Dec. 8, 2015


Becoming a millionaire is easier than it's ever been.

Many people have been writing me with the notion that it's an impossible task. They say, "It's pure luck. You have to be born into a rich family. You'll have to win the Lotto. Your parents have to help you out a lot."

A single mother with five children wrote the following, "Daniel, I read your article and I believe in what you're saying. However, I'm 50 years old and work long hours at two dead-end jobs. It's Christmas time and I barely have enough money to buy gifts for my children. What should I do?"

Another man wrote, "Well, if you work for the government or a non-profit, you cannot expect to become a millionaire. After all, you're on a fixed salary and there’s little time for anything else. By the time you get home, you've got to play with the kids and entertain yourself."

These queries got me thinking of the true possibilities of wealth all over the world, particularly in America. I've seen people come to America who speak little to no English, have no connections, no money, or formal education, but have still been able to create fortunes for themselves and others. 


The truth is that all of us can become as wealthy as we decide to be. None of us is excluded from wealth. If you have the desire to receive money, whatever the amount, you have all of the rights to do so. There's no limit to how much you can earn for yourself.

Money is like the sun. It does not discriminate. It doesn't say, "I will not give light and warmth to this flower, tree, or person because I don't like them." Like the sun, money is abundantly available to all of us who truly believe that it is for us. No one is excluded.

Here are 7 tips to becoming a millionaire: 

1. Change Your Thinking


You have to see the bigger picture. When most people see just trees, you need to look at the entire forest. This way, you'll be able to chart your own course and get to where you want to be. By having a vision and the goals to attain that vision, your possibilities are endless.

You'll have to go through plenty of self-discovery before you earn your first million. Knowing the truth about yourself isn't always the easiest task. Sometimes, you'll find that you're your biggest enemy and best friend -- even in the same day! Nonetheless, changing your thinking is a requirement for wealth.

2. Save Relentlessly


This will address the queries that I've recently received. For many individuals, there's too much month at the end of the money. However, you'll have to make your best effort to save as much as you can, even if it's a ridiculously low number.

There are many techniques for saving money. You need to find your own system and start building your wealth. Even if you're on a fixed income, you need to find the discipline necessary to save. Whether you start out with saving $50 or $500 per month, do the best you can and invest this money in the best way possible.


3. Learn from Millionaires

Most people are surrounded by what I like to call "Default Friends." These friends are acquaintances that we see at the grocery store, gym, school, work, and other places. We naturally befriend these people as trust grows. However, in most cases, these people aren't millionaires and cannot help you become one either.

If you truly desire and aspire to be a millionaire, these people may tell you that it's impossible. They'll tell you that you're living in a fantasy world and why you'll never be able to make it happen. Instead, learn from millionaires. Let go of these relationships and seek new ones that can help you get to the next level.

4. Indulge in Wealth

To become wealthy, you must first learn about wealth. This means that you'll have to put yourself in situations that you've never been before. For instance, you can test drive a new car, get a realtor to show you an expensive home, or get a brownie from the finest bakery in town.

Most of this will not break your bank. In fact, some of it is free. You'll have to go where 97 percent of people aren't willing to go if you want to make your financial dreams happen. Are there luxury golf courses, spas, or museums in your area that will allow you to indulge in wealth? If so, take advantage.

5. Believe It's Possible


If you believe that it's possible to become a millionaire, you can make it happen. However, if you've excluded yourself from this possibility and think that it's for other people, you'll never have money. Also, be sure to bless rich people when you can. Haters of money aren’t likely to receiving any of it either.

The best way to do this is to learn relentlessly about yourself and money. You can do this by reading books that have been written by millionaires themselves. By gaining a well-rounded education and staying inspired, you'll be able to get the wealth you've been looking for. 

6. Enlarge Your Service


Your material wealth is the sum of your total contribution to society. If you know my famous question, "How do I deliver more value to more people in less time?" then you'll know that you can always increase your quality and quantity of service. People are waiting to be served.

Enlarging your service is also about "going the extra mile." When it comes to helping others, you must give it everything you have. Don't think about if the people you serve will appreciate it or not. You just plant the seeds and nature will take care of the rest. 

7. Seize ALL Opportunities


In every neighborhood, no matter where you are, there are always opportunities to do good. Your community desperately needs your help. If you would only open your mind and heart to these opportunities, you'll find that they will be ready to reward you in due time.

Furthermore, you cannot say "no" to opportunities and expect to become a millionaire. You must seize every opportunity that has your name on it. Sometimes the monetary reward will not come immediately, but if you keep planting seeds, eventually you'll grow your fruitful crop.

Money is the harvest of your production. Everything that you have is in direct proportion to your actions. If you've done everything that you can do and have a purpose leading your life, you can expect to become wealthy. You must desire wealth and eventually the money will come when you are ready for it.

The more seeds (service) you plant, the more plants (money) you'll have.

Stop Dreaming and Start Doing

by Steve Tobak, Author and Managing Partner Invisor Consulting, Dec. 10, 2015

Want to know what happens to people who spend their whole lives dreaming about fame and fortune, reading about others’ success and accomplishments, and following a who’s who of the influential elite in the hope that some of their magic will rub off them?

Not a whole lot. Dreaming, reading, and following will get you nowhere. The only way to achieve any of that stuff is by doing.

If you fit the above description, you’ve essentially got two options. You can keep doing what you’ve been doing and end up poor and bitter, or open your eyes, change your behavior, and get out and make something of yourself, while there’s still time.

Judging by the demographics of Entrepreneur’s audience (your average age is actually 45), at least half of you still have time to change your ways. Maybe this will be your wakeup call.

Look, it’s fine to want to be successful, but success is not a goal; it’s an outcome of a lifetime of hard work and perseverance. It comes from years of education and experience developing an expertise and learning how things work. It comes from pursuing opportunities, building relationships, making smart choices, being disciplined, and focusing on what matters. It comes from hard-fought wins and gut-wrenching losses.

If you’re starting to get the picture that it’s a long, hard road to achieve such a lofty outcome, then you’re getting closer to the truth. And the truth is that you’ll never become rich and famous by obsessing over becoming rich and famous. You’ll only get there by focusing on the here and now. You have to work on accomplishing one thing at time in real time.

Now I bet some of you are thinking that it’s good to have goals to shoot for and that learning what worked for others will help you get there. That may be true, but for goals to be effective, they have to be far more practical and specific than that. And none of the popular click-bait content will tell you what it really takes to make it big.

This is how success happens in the real world:

1. First, your parents teach you about work ethic, personal accountability, and making smart choices.

2. Then you go to school, get an education, and learn the basics about a field of study.

3. You go out and get a job (hopefully in your field but maybe not yet) and learn how the real world works, how companies work, how business works, and most of all, how people work.

4. Over time, you develop some expertise, build relationships, gain exposure to new opportunities, and figure out what you really enjoy doing, so that’s what you decide to focus on. Most of all, you learn from experience and others.

5. You face lots of hurdles – some you overcome while others trip you up. You learn lessons from gut-wrenching defeats and gain confidence from exciting victories. And through it all you work hard, compete, and stick with it.

6. If you make smart decisions and follow a path that’s right for you, in time, you’ll do some great work and achieve some big things. And one day you’ll look back, realize you did pretty well for yourself, and feel good about it. Then you’ll get back to work.

It doesn’t always work exactly like that – we all end up screwing up and maybe repeating a step or two – but for the most part, that’s what success looks like in the real world. In one form or another, this is what everyone who gets anywhere in life goes through to get there.

Notice that nowhere does it say anything about screwing around reading silly self-help-style books and blogs, posting dumb quotes on social media, following self-proclaimed “influencers," or wasting precious time with popular fads about leadership, entrepreneurship, or the personal habits of millionaires.

Now, don’t get me wrong: We all have our moments, we all have our weaknesses, and we all make mistakes. Just don’t make it a habit. And, of course, we all need to have fun and have a life. But nowhere is it written that your work can’t also be fun. Nowhere does it say that your work can’t be a big part of what makes your life worth living.

We all have the potential for a fulfilling life, but only if we get out and live it. And the same goes for your work. So quit dreaming and start doing.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

10 Major Differences Between Rich and Poor People


Daniel Ally, CONTRIBUTOR, Self-Made Millionaire & Business Expert
DECEMBER 01, 2015


Join us at Entrepreneur magazine's Growth Conference, Dec. 15 in Long Beach, Calif. for a day of fresh ideas, business mentoring and networking. Seats are limited--Register now to secure your spot and receive exclusive reader rate (expires 12/8).

I've been rich and I’ve been poor. I know both sides very well.

Growing up poor, I knew that I wanted to be rich. At the age of 24, I earned my first million dollars. I came a long way and studied the subject all of my life. Over time, I have discovered that if you're not living in prosperity, you're living in poverty.

Wealth is a choice that we must all make. Bill Gates once said, "It's not your fault if you were born poor, but it’s your fault if you die poor." There's no reason why you should live in poverty. Wealth is waiting for you, but you have to make up your mind if you want it in your life.

For a long time, I struggled to believe that I could eventually become rich. It wasn't until I observed the differences in thoughts and actions between the "haves" and the "have-nots."


Here are 10 major differences between rich and poor people:

1a. Poor people are skeptical


I distinctly remember a former coworker of mine saying, "Those mechanics are a rip-off! They're always looking for the weak people. They'll charge you when you're not looking!!" He thought that everyone unjustly wanted his money and that everyone is out there to get him. 

1b. Rich people are trusting


Surprisingly, a great deal of rich people leave their car and house doors open. Conversely, in areas of poverty, you'll find that this behavior is highly unlikely to happen. Rich people have the tendency to trust those they meet (within reason) and give others the opportunity to be themselves.

2a. Poor people find fault


People who are poor are always looking for the problems instead of the solutions. They end up blaming their environment, circumstances, jobs, weather, government, and will make an extensive list of excuses as to why they cannot be successful. 

2b. Rich people find success


Rich people understand that everything happens for a reason. Rather than letting life happen to them, they take direct action and make big things happen. They put aside all the excuses and eradicate their blame lists because they have to do what must be done.

3a. Poor people make assumptions

When it comes to knowing the truth, poor people often make assumptions. If they want to reach out to a celebrity, they might say, "They probably don't have time to talk to me." Instead of checking the facts or asking questions, they never make a true attempt when it comes to getting what they want.

3b. Rich people ask questions


Many rich people ask the question, "What if?" For instance, "What if I wrote an email to the president and he or she answers?" If you begin to ask questions, you will save yourself a lot of hassle. The power is in the hands of those who ask the right questions. They don't answer your questions, question your answers.

4a. Poor people say, "They" and "Them"


In the grocery store, the woman at the register said, "They never have enough cashiers. I don't know what's wrong with them." Obviously, this woman did not take any ownership and responsibility over her job. She certainly did separate herself from the job that was paying her.

4b. Rich people say, "We"

At one of my favorite restaurants, the server said, "We take great delight in cooking our steaks in real fire." His sense of pride and ownership stimulated me, which allowed me to give him an honorable tip. Surely, you will be rich when you invest more into what you believe in. 

5a. Poor people want the cheapest way


I was once shopping with a friend who only wanted to buy if they could find the cheapest clothing. They would rush to the clearance rack and pick up clothes that they didn't even want, but ended up buying because of a "deal." Unfortunately, they ended up never wearing it since they only bought the price.

5b. Rich people want the best way


Rich people will go the extra mile to find quality material. They don't limit themselves to price and often seek service while they shop. Rich people want organized services and will never settle with items that are worthless and unusable.

6a. Poor people think money is more important than time
Millions of people all over the world are trading their precious time for money. You can always get $500 back, but you can't get 50 hours again. Nonetheless, the majority of people trade time for money and never realize their true potential because of it.

6b. Rich people know that time is more important than money


Rich people never trade time for money. Moreover, they seek fulfilling experiences that dramatically alter their lives. Their careers are more focused on doing what they love and helping others, instead of merely clocking in for a meager paycheck.

7a. Poor people compete

When a poor person sees an opportunity, they find out how others are doing it and emulates them. Most often, they never consider another way of doing it. Instead, they settle in the belief that doing what others are doing is the best thing they can do for themselves.

7b. Rich people create


My rich neighbors were disgruntled when they found that their Porsche did not come in a specific shade of green, which they deeply wanted. Because of this, they decided to custom build their green Porsche with unprecedented specifications. I've never seen such a thing!

8a. Poor people complain, condemn, and criticize

Most poor people have learned how to be poor from their predecessors. Their family members have conditioned them to believe that everything is "wrong" instead of right. If you're ever heard someone ask, "What's wrong?" you'll know what I mean.

8b. Rich people praise and enjoy their blessings


Rich people know that they have many privileges and they don't take it for granted. Because of their appreciation of gifts, love, and circumstances, they are able to generate more. Many times, what gets praised gets prospered.

9a. Poor people seek amateur advice

They often listen to the opinions of others and seek approval from acquaintances. They believe almost everything they hear without questioning authority. They accept opinions as facts and prohibit themselves from doing research once satisfied with an answer.

9b. Rich people seek expert advice

Those who are rich have learned to think for themselves. If they cannot figure out something, they seek expert advice. Usually, they pay for the advice and are given a wide variety of options. They learn the experts only make suggestions, which means that they aren't particularly confined to a specific action.

10a. Poor people have big television sets

Poor people take a lot of time to drift off to sporadic images of which they often have little to no control over. They use their free time to avoid the art of thinking (which is the most challenging task) and zone out to what many have conformed to believe is "entertainment." 

10b. Rich people have big libraries


Wealthy people are educated and read a lot of books. They use their knowledge in a way that benefits them. Instead of drifting off in random activities, they seek to get within their minds to understand themselves, others, and the world in which they live. In fact, as your personal library increase over the years, so will your home. I can attest to this!

To get a true perspective on how to become rich, you must study rich people. After all, you become what you study. If you're currently surrounded by people who aren't yet rich, just do the opposite of what they do. Soon enough, you'll be able to reach your financial dreams!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

9 Reasons to Switch Careers as Soon as Possible

NOVEMBER 09, 2015, Sujan Patel, ENTREPRENEUR & MARKETER

The median tenure at a single job in the U.S. is four and a half years, and it’s been said that a person will change careers five to seven times during their lives. So if you feel the itch to make a change, it’s perfectly normal -- and it can actually revolutionize your success.

What constitutes a “career change” is a bit vague, but I like to think of it as taking a job in a new industry so that you can continue to develop your personal and professional skills. With that in mind, here are nine reasons to switch careers as soon as possible:
1. You didn’t choose your current career.
There are a lot of reasons to take a job in a particular industry. If your reason had to do with desperation, a family connection or a random circumstance, you may need to switch careers soon. Think about your skills and what you truly enjoy. Don’t be afraid to consider off-beat careers either -- being a forester isn’t as common as a banker, but it may be the perfect fit for you. You deserve a career you chose on purpose.

2. The economy hit your field hard.

A job in finance was lucrative in 2003. By 2008, not so much. If an economic or technological change has negatively impacted your current field, a change may be in order whether you were looking for it or not. Think about what type of work you can do that would leverage your current skills in a new way. When you make the choice now, you avoid a possible panic situation later if you’re laid off or let go.

3. You’ve developed interest in an emerging industry.
Whether you’re 30 or 60, there are an amazing number of careers available today that weren’t even dreamed of when you were in college. If you’ve developed an interest in a new industry that is growing quickly, this is a great time to jump in. A career in an emerging field will allow you to grow quickly, learn entirely new skills and reignite the fire you may have lost with your current work.


4. You hit a ceiling.

Anyone can hit a ceiling in advancing his or her career. Sometimes another job in the same industry will help you break past it, but other times, you need a complete career change. The good news is that great leadership qualities will help you manage in any field, so you can quickly find a new way to put your skills to great use.


5. You need significantly more money.
Sometimes, the career field you thought you wanted turns out to not work on a financial level. In your current field, you may get small raises over time, but if you need, or want, significantly more money, a career change is in order. Money can’t buy happiness, but it is an important part of living life. There’s no doubt that some careers give you better access to money than others.

6. Your talents don’t match your field.
Are you in information technology, but struggle to keep up with technological advances? Or are you a teacher who struggles with high-intensity personal interactions? If your talents don’t match the field you find yourself in, switch careers as soon as possible. Try taking personal and career assessments to find a field that is a better match for you.

7. You have a major change in perspective.
Marriage, divorce, a new child or even a trip overseas can completely change your perspective. The CEO of Esquire Magazine, Phillip Moffitt,left his career to pursue more meaningful and new work options when he was 40. Major changes in your perspective can make it vital that you change careers. Consider what works for your new situation and make it happen.

8. The challenge is gone.
If you’re no longer challenged by your current job or you’re bored with your current field, a career change could be the spark you need. Too many people spend years in boring and unfulfilling jobs simply because they don’t know what to do next. Don’t waste 40 hours a week. Instead, look at yourself and other industries to find a role that will allow you to be challenged and continue to grow both personally and professionally.

9. You’re burnt out.
You’ve given your all to your current company and industry, and now you feel like there’s nothing left to give. There are some situations a week of vacation can’t fix, and burnout is one of them. Your best option is to switch careers as soon as possible. You’ll find yourself with new co-workers, new challenges and new things to learn. It’s the perfect solution for burnout.

Switching careers can be intimidating, but you’ll find dozens of skills that are directly transferable. Don’t delay. If you’re in one of these nine situations, switch careers as soon as possible.

What other factors would cause you to switch careers? Share your suggestions in the comments section below.

Monday, November 9, 2015

5 Almost Effortless Ways to Become a Morning Person

Chris WINFIELDEntrepreneur and success coach

OCTOBER 30, 2015

Do you have a "love-hate" relationship with the morning? Yeah, yeah, you already know that getting up early can make you more productive, focused and motivated -- which is why successful entrepreneurs like Sir Richard Branson and CEOs of multi-billion dollar companies like Tory Burch and Indra Nooyi (CEO of PepsiCo) wake up before the sun rises.

The only problem is . . . you absolutely hate getting out of bed any earlier than you have to. Sound familiar?

If you love the idea of creating a success-propelling morning routine but hate the thought of facing the day once your alarm clock sounds, don’t worry. Here are simple strategies you can follow that will make climbing out from under the covers and starting your morning much easier . . . and even somewhat fun.

1. Start the night before.
Many studies have linked motivation levels with REM sleep (which stands for rapid eye movement and is the part of sleep when you dream). If you’re not getting high-quality rest, with several REM cycles, your motivation and energy will lag when it’s time to get up in the morning.

One way to overcome this is to develop a pre-sleep routine that sets you up for quality rest. Here are some strategies entrepreneurs use to fall (and stay) asleep:
Limit your caffeine intake. Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX, admits that he used to drink caffeine all day long, but he now limits consumption to one-to-two drinks, max, so he'll feel less “wired” and sleep better.

Step away from the electronics. The brightness of your phone, tablet or laptop screen right before bedtime can negatively affect your body’s sleep patterns, which is why Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Huffington Post, keeps her cellphone in another room . . . a habit she started after “passing out from exhaustion.”

Read a book. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates reads an hour nightly (mainly biographies, historical books and intellectual periodicals) to help him fall asleep easier.

It’s also beneficial to create a sleep-inducing environment. Make your bedroom as dark as possible, turn the face of the alarm clock away from you and use a white noise machi
ne or fan if you live in a loud neighborhood.

2: Figure out why becoming a morning person is important to you.
It’s difficult to make any type of change without first knowing why that particular change is important to you. Why is getting up early important to you? Why do you want to be more productive in the morning? Do you believe that establishing the perfect morning routine will finally help you lose weight and get into shape, giving you more confidence and energy throughout the day?

Or, maybe you view getting out of bed before the crack of dawn as the way to find time for things that make you feel good, like reading, writing, or meditating?

Once you know why you want to get up early, you'll find that that change is easier to do.


3: Don’t hit the snooze button.
How many times do you hit the snooze button on a typical morning? Once? Twice? Five times? More?

Although it might seem that getting a few additional minutes of sleep every time the alarm goes off is a good thing, the opposite is actually true. Hitting the snooze button makes you feel more tired. It screws up your sleep cycles, so you wind up dragging your feet all day long.

On top of that, when hitting the button is the first action you take in the morning, you are starting your day off by procrastinating. This sends a message to your subconscious mind that you don’t even have the self-discipline to get out of bed in the morning. Not a great way to start your day. 

So, how do you get out of the snooze button habit? Consider placing your clock (or phone) away from the bed so you actually have to get up to turn it off. Another suggestion from the Sleep Junkies is to glue your snooze button so it no longer works. That will certainly stop you from using it!

4: Change your morning routine slowly.
Trying to completely overhaul your mornings, by (for example) getting out of bed at 4 a.m. when you normally sleep until noon, can make it difficult if not impossible to stick to your new routine.

Instead, work at making small changes that you can build upon. Taking this route makes you more mindful and gives you higher levels of enthusiasm. It also increases your focus, makes you feel calmer and helps you learn the right way to go about making changes that stick.

For instance, if you normally wake up at 7 a.m., then aim to get up at 6:45 tomorrow. Once you master that, get up at 6:30. Move your getting-up time back only 15 minutes at a time, and before you know it,you’ll be an early morning person…almost effortlessly.

5: Choose morning activities you enjoy so you'll stick with it.
It’s hard enough to get out of bed at the crack of dawn and when you wake up to do activities you don’t enjoy . . . your new regimen can feel like torture.

That’s why you should create a morning routine that is filled with activities you actually like, those things that make you feel better about yourself and improve your direction in life.

A few of the activities that I get the most out of in the early morning hours include stretching, meditation, writing Morning Pages andgratitude lists and spending quality time with my family. Create your own list of things that you look forward to when you pop out of bed to make it easier for you to get up and face the day.

There you have it: five ways to make your mornings easier and more productive. Now, all you have to do is try one (or all) of them. Who knows? Your love-hate relationship may turn out to be 100 percent true love, as you realize that you’ve finally found “the one” . . . the perfect morning routine for you!

To learn more ways to make your mornings productive, check out The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Powerful Morning Routine.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

What the New Equity Crowdfunding Rules Mean for Entrepreneurs

Kendall Almerico, Crowdfunding Attorney

NOVEMBER 02, 2015

The SEC has finally released rules for Title III of the JOBS Act, the equity crowdfunding law. Nearly three years and seven months after the potentially game-changing bill was first signed into law, equity crowdfunding will be available to startups and small companies in 180 days. Yes, we get to wait another half a year before anyone can actually use equity crowdfunding, but at least now we know it will happen.

For those who have run out of Ambien, the hundreds of pages of new rules will provide a welcome sleep aid. But for professionals who plan to use these rules to help companies raise new capital, it is required reading. Bring on the Red Bull.

What does this mean for entrepreneurs? Will startups be able to actually use this law? Let’s take a look at what the new SEC rules say about key provisions, to answer those questions:


1. The JOBS Act says a company can raise up to $1,000,000 with Title III equity crowdfunding. Did the SEC expand this?
Despite the hopes of many of us that the SEC would pull a regulatory rabbit out of a hat and raise the ceiling to $5 million, the limit on what a company can raise through Title III equity crowdfunding remains at $1 million. If a company wants to raise more, there is always equity crowdfunding’s prettier cousin, a Regulation A+ mini-IPO to consider

2. What can members of the “crowd” invest?
The law limits investors to (a) the greater of $2,000 or 5 percent of the lesser of their annual income or net worth, if either the annual income or the net worth of the investor is less than $100,000 and (b) 10 percent of the lesser of their annual income or net worth, if both the annual income and net worth of the investor is equal to or more than $100,000.

In both cases, Investors may not invest more than an aggregate amount of $100,000 in one year. The SEC actually tightened up the amounts that can be invested by each individual, which is not good news for entrepreneurs.

3. What happens if a company does not raise its goal amount?
Like many rewards-based crowdfunding campaigns and Regulation A+ mini-IPOs, if a company using the new equity crowdfunding law does not raise the full amount of their funding goal, they do not get to keepany of the money raised, and they lose the out-of-pocket up-front costs. This important provision means setting a realistic goal will become an important part of the equity crowdfunding process for entrepreneurs.

4. Can companies afford to use Title III equity crowdfunding?
The biggest news from the new SEC rules is that the proposed requirement of a full financial audit has been dropped by the SEC for companies using the equity crowdfunding law for the first time. Requiring a startup to spend tens of thousands of dollars on an audit made no sense. The SEC removed that burden, and now a company using the law for the first time must only have reviewed financials to raise more than $100,000, and lesser financial disclosures when raising less than $100,000.

There are still substantial costs, however. Legal fees, compliance costs, funding portal fees, broker-dealer fees and marketing expenses can add up. Without entrepreneurial minded attorneys offering affordable services and innovative businesses offering compliance services for a reasonable cost, equity crowdfunding would still be out of reach for most young companies. Luckily for startups and small businesses, both of the above exist, and will make this law affordable to use for most entrepreneurs.

5. What information has to be disclosed?
A company has to disclose to investors, and file with the SEC, the price of the securities, the method for determining the price, the target offering amount, the deadline to reach the target and whether the company will accept investments in excess of the target.

Companies also must provide a discussion of the company’s financial condition, a description of the business and the use of proceeds from the offering, information about officers and directors and owners of 20 percent or more of the company and annual financial statements.


6. What liability will a company and its officers have under equity crowdfunding?
Equity crowdfunding involves the sale of securities, and not just pre-selling a gadget like on Kickstarter. There are federal and state laws that govern the sale of securities, and if you do something wrong, your company (and its officers and directors) can be sued, and in some cases, could go to jail.

The bottom line is simple: Tell the truth. Under most securities laws including the equity crowdfunding law, being 100 percent truthful and not making misrepresentations of any kind are the keys to not having to bang out license plates in the prison yard with Bernie Madoff.

7. Are the shares sold through equity-crowdfunding liquid?

No. Much like most shares sold through private placements, the shares of stock sold in equity crowdfunding cannot be sold (in most circumstances) for at least one year. There is no marketplace or exchange for these shares, and in all likelihood, never will be unless a company registers with the SEC and becomes a public company.

Will equity crowdfunding work under the new SEC rules? Some may disagree, but I believe there is a workable model here that startups will be able to use to raise capital.

Like every new law, how usable it will be depends on a number of factors. But the reality is that an opportunity like this for startups to raise capital has never existed before, and rather than criticize the law's shortcomings, some of us will work within the laws and rules to find ways to help companies raise funds online in a way they never could before.

Friday, October 30, 2015

5 Ways to Instantly Connect With Anyone You Meet

5 Ways to Make Enough Side Money to Eventually Quit Your Job

Brandon Turner, Real Estate Investor

OCTOBER 28, 2015

Nearly everyone dreams of quitting his or her day job, whether it's tomorrow, next year or in the next decade. However, there is a wide chasm between "dreams" and "action" that many people never seem to cross -- and it's usually due to finances.

Obviously, if you want to quit, you need to find another way to make enough income to pay your bills, save for the future and enjoy life. But what's the best way to do this? How can you make enough "side income" now so you can quit your job in the near future?

Here are five great ways to make side income while still working your day job:
1. Invest in real estate.

My eyes were first open to the idea of "passive income" after reading Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. Although not a real-estate book, it taught me the value of owning assets that produce income, which led me to real estate. Real-estate investing is not always passive, and not always easy, but it can be highly profitable. In addition, there are hundreds of ways to invest in real estate. For example, you could:
  • Flip houses
  • Own rental houses
  • Become a "house hacker"
  • Own vacation rentals (AirBnB)
  • Rent out duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes
  • Buy and rent out apartment complexes

Real-estate investing is my favorite way to create side income because it runs like a locomotive. It might take a little time to build up, but once it's running, it goes a long way with less effort and is hard to stop.

2. Write a book.

Many people have dreams of writing a book, but very few ever do. They think it's too hard, that they don't know enough, don't have enough time, aren't smart enough or whatever other excuse they can come up with. But the truth is: you can write a book, and that book can help you make additional monthly income.

There are several avenues you can take when writing a book, and there is no "best route." For example:
  • You could write a series of shorter topic-specific books and publish them on Kindle.
  • You could self-publish through your own website and sell to your existing customers.
  • You could partner with a larger platform and sell to its audience (as I did).
  • You could work to get published through a major publishing company (probably the most difficult path).
  • You could record an audiobook and publish it on Audible.

Writing a book today is not as tough as it once was, as there are so many avenues with which you could publish. The keys are no longer held by elite publishing companies in New York City. The keys are now in your hands.

3. Sell a product on Amazon.

I'm slightly addicted to Amazon Prime, as my local UPS driver can attest to. It seems every day I have a package or two waiting at my doorstep -- and it's usually from people just like you. Most of them probably never touch the product that I'm buying.

That's right: you no longer need to have a warehouse, inventory or employees to buy wholesale products and sell them at retail. Amazon has leveled the playing field and now anyone can sell products.

A friend of mine, Chris from UpFuel.com, decided to sell products on Amazon. He researched best-selling ideas, contacted a manufacturer in China and had the perfect model designed, had the product shipped to Amazon's fulfillment center in the United States and sells his product on the site, making thousands of dollars a month in profit.

The best part? Chris doesn't ever touch the product, and it largely runs on autopilot at this point.

4. Sell your skills.
Chances are you are good at something in the business world. Perhaps it's accounting, data entry, video production or writing.

Whatever you are good at, there are likely people out there willing to pay you good money to run that part of their business for them. Smart business owners know that they should focus on what they are good at, and hire out the rest. This is where you can come in and make side income doing what you love.

In addition to freelancing, you could also become a consultant. For example, my friend Joshua Long turned his knowledge of Infusionsoft, ClickFunnels and other marketing systems into a full-fledged consulting business, where he helps CEOs identify existing opportunities in their businesses.

So what are you good at? What will other people pay you for?

5. Start a blog.

Finally, a good way to make side income can be with a blog. Although it takes time to build up a following, once you have that following there are numerous ways to monetize the blog.

Jeff Rose, from GoodFinancialCents.com, uses his blog to build up his authority as a certified financial planner, driving traffic and income to his business. At the same time, his blog allows him to monetize in other more passive methods, such as affiliate marketing, online products and consulting.

To succeed at blogging, it's important that you:
  • Focus on writing quality content
  • Work hard at getting that content out there to the world
  • Build your email list from day one, so you can market to those people later.

Blogging is definitely not a "sit at home in your underwear and make easy money" kind of activity. It requires diligence, quality and time. However, blogging can be incredibly rewarding.

There is one common theme with all of the above methods for making side income. Do you know what it is? They all take work. That's right, you'll never achieve the kind of lifestyle you want if you don't work for it. So get out there today and start hustling. You'll be able to quit that job faster than you ever imagined.

4 Financing Tips for Female Entrepreneurs



Lisa Stevens, Contributor, Entrepreneur.com

OCTOBER 26, 2015

Women’s Small Business Month, which happens every October, is a great time to highlight the many contributions and advancements made by female business owners who are making a significant, positive impact to our nation’s economy.

The latest census data shows that in 2012, female-owned firms made up more than 36 percent of all non-farm businesses, up from 30 percent in 2007. As of 2012, there were 9.9 million female-owned businesses -- a more than 27 percent increase from 2007.

The fact that the number of women entrepreneurs has increased over the years has been made possible, in part, by their passion, talent and dedication and their ability to obtain essential business support including access to capital. According to a recent Wells Fargo / Gallup national study, 71 percent of women business owners say they feel very or extremely satisfied as a business owner, and 89 percent would do it all over again. Yet women in the survey also expressed less overall interest than men in learning about credit-related issues, particularly choosing the type of credit that is best for their business needs (17 percent versus 28 percent).

It’s important for women entrepreneurs to understand how the use of business credit may benefit their operations. Business credit can provide a business the source of funds it needs for multiple purposes, from bridging gaps in cash flow to pursuing growth opportunities. As women-run businesses continue playing a vital role in our local economy, we want to do everything we can to help these businesses thrive.

Here are four tips we offer women business owners to help them succeed financially:
1. Explore your financing options.

According to the Wells Fargo / Gallup study, women business owners said their top three sources of initial funding for their business are cash or savings (85 percent), personal credit cards (37 percent) and financial gifts or support from family or friends (29 percent). Today, business owners have many business financing options to consider.

If a conventional business loan doesn’t meet your specific needs, you may want to explore an SBA 7(a) loan. Talk with your banker about the full array of credit options available for your business to identify the best option for you.

2. Seek lenders with a commitment toward women business owners.
It’s a competitive market for small business loans, and that’s good for women business owners. Lenders are seeking to make every responsible loan they can to credit-worthy business owners.

When choosing a lender, you should consider financial institutions that have demonstrated a commitment and track record of working with women-owned businesses as well as a lender who may have implemented lending goals or programs focused on women-owned businesses. Many states have programs for women entrepreneurs, so it is worth investigating the opportunities in your area.

3. Connect with other women entrepreneurs.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has a network of more than 100 women business centers across the country aimed at helping women who own small businesses. Another great resource for women business owners is Score.org, which offers online newsletters and webinars in addition to an extensive database of female mentors.

Finally, women business owners should consider joining the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), which has chapters across the country that offer peer-to-peer professional development programs for members. Many of these organizations are dedicated to helping women find the right financial tools to successfully run and grow their business.

4. Build a relationship with a banker.
Having a strong relationship with a business banker can be beneficial to your business. The stronger your relationship is with your banker, the better your banker will be able to understand your business when you come to them for support and financial solutions to help it grow.

For example, a banker can help you build a strong credit profile, as well as help you gain access to the capital your business needs when you’re credit ready. A banker can also provide guidance on how to lay a strong financial foundation for your business, such as establishing a business plan. To build the relationship, make sure to keep your banker up to date on significant changes and notable successes in your business.

There’s certainly a lot to be learned from the many successful female entrepreneurs who have made it in today’s ever-changing and challenging business environment. There is no single recipe for success so to speak, but the four tips outlined above will certainly help you start, run and grow your business.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

8 Types of Investors That Entrepreneurs Need to Avoid



Martin, Zwilling, CONTRIBUTOR, Veteran startup mentor, executive, blogger, author, tech professional, and Angel investor.OCTOBER 02, 2015

Don’t assume that all investors are the same, just because their money is always the same color. Every entrepreneur should do the same due diligence on a potential investor that smart investors do on their startups. Check on their track records, values and management style. Taking on an investor is a long-term relationship, like getting married, that has to work at every level.

Let’s just say that every investor is different, without trying to define what is good or bad for you and your startup. Investors are human and subject to human tendencies, whether they are your rich uncle, an angel investor with personal funds or a venture capital investor with institutional money. Here is a summary of some key investor stereotypes that generally need to be avoided:

1. Investment sharks

I’m not talking about the Shark Tank TV show, but some might say the panel fits the definition. While the majority of investors are looking for a win-win deal, there are investors who like to prey on entrepreneurs who have little financial experience, don’t read the term sheet or are simply desperate for a deal. Seek out advisors to help you avoid these investors.

2. Investors who love to litigate


We all know that startups don’t have money to fight in court, so it’s easy for a few unscrupulous investors to jump to the conclusion that intimidation and lawsuit threats can improve their returns and control after the money changes hands. Here is where checking the track record pays off. Don’t assume you will be the exception.

3. Imperial investors

These are investors with such massive egos that they expect to dictate both the terms of the investment as well as all future strategic decisions of your startup. Unless you are preparing to work for Donald Trump someday, I recommend that you skip this investor in favor of a more equal partner.

4. Legal eagle investors

Negotiating terms is normal before the investment, but once the check is cashed, you don’t want to be second-guessed on every action. Be wary if the term sheet is a document longer than your business plan. Violation of abstract clauses may be used as a way to push you out, take over the company or pull the investment.

5. Academic coach investors

Coaching should be expected and appreciated, but you don’t have time for constant tutorials on how to run a business. A good advisor and mentor will tackle questions and then offer key insights. If an investor spends more than a day at your office before the check is written, it may be time to check your patience meter.


6. Pretend investors

These are “wannabe” investors who don’t have the means, or former entrepreneurs who don’t want to leave the arena. They always have one more issues to investigate or another set of questions, but never bring the checkbook. After a rational allocation of your team’s time, ask for a definitive close and be willing to walk away.

7. Investors without a clue

Many wealthy people make poor startup investors. They have long forgotten (or never knew) the challenges faced by a startup business. Many great real-estate people and doctors fall into this category. A synergistic long-term relationship in your business is not likely. Ask them for an introduction to wealthy business friends.

8. Investors for a fee

These are people who rarely invest their own funds, but promise to find the perfect match and live off a percentage of the action and preparation fees. They may be licensed investment brokers or consultants cold-calling real investors. The challenge is performing due diligence on the real investor.


Proactively seek out and build relationships with investors who interest you, rather than passively wait for potential investors to approach you. Finding investors is best done by talking to peers and attending networking events. Cold calling or emailing strangers will likely get you a sampling of all the eight stereotypes defined here.

Finally, you need to learn what investment terms make sense for your startup and craft your own term sheet, rather than rely on one being presented to you. Start with some legal advice from a source you trust. Do your homework and networking, but don’t chase investors like a one-night stand and expect it to lead to a mutually beneficial long-term relationship.

Friday, September 25, 2015

7 Lessons From Entrepreneurs Who Kept Their Day Jobs While Starting Their Businesses



SEPTEMBER 21, 2015, Michelle Goodman


This story first appeared in the September issue of Entrepreneur. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Keeping your day job while starting a business has its advantages. Aside from the steady income and free coffee, reliable full-time work helps you flesh out your résumé and portfolio and extend your professional network. Even better, working for someone else gives you a front-row view of the best (and worst) ways to run a company, from managing time and money to handling customers and employees.

We asked some successful entrepreneurs who founded companies while holding down a 9-to-5 to share the lessons they learned.

1. First, prove your concept.

Holding down a day job means having only so many waking hours to devote to your side venture. That’s why validating that your idea will work—and that people will pay for it—should be priority No. 1, says Shara Senderoff, co-founder and CEO of Career Sushi, an online marketplace that connects young professionals with employers.

Senderoff was fortunate that her former employer, a Hollywood TV and film production company, agreed in 2011 to fund and incubate her startup in-house. But because she didn’t need to bootstrap, she mistakenly spent more time than she should have on Career Sushi’s branding, web design and minute platform details, proof of concept be damned.

“I probably spent six months doing that,” says the Los Angeles-based entrepreneur, whose site now serves 15,000 employers and 150,000 job seekers. “In retrospect, that was a wasted six months.” Of course, the typical startup can’t afford such indulgences, lest they run out of cash before going live. Lesson learned, says Senderoff: “Don’t try to build a Porsche when you just need to build the wireframe and test whether the car will ever drive.”

2. Let the big goals shape your calendar.
Wrangling your schedule won’t necessarily be easier after you leave your 9-to-5. Between the shoestring budget, lean staff and avalanche of action items, deciding which tasks to tackle each day at your startup can get overwhelming.

For Allyson Downey, co-founder and CEO of baby-product review platform weeSpring, working at an educational nonprofit provided valuable training in organizing and prioritizing.

To stay the course, Downey relies on a chart on her desk, a carryover from her previous job, showing the day’s top goals. “I have a column called ‘user growth,’ a column called ‘revenue growth’ and a column called ‘development,’” says Downey, who is based in New York. To prevent herself from “going down the rabbit hole of fixing little things and building new features,” the development column is half the size of the other two, she says.

This means that less-pressing tasks like updating weeSpring’s About Us page take a back seat. “That has been on my to-do list for two years, and it probably will continue being on my to-do list for another two years because I need to keep my head down and focus on the stuff that’s going to move the company forward,” Downey explains.

3. Document processes.
Before Guy Baroan began running his Elmwood Park, N.J.-based IT firm, Baroan Technologies, full time, he spent several years managing an indoor amusement park. The facility employed 80 teenagers and hosted about 135 children’s birthday parties per week.

“There had to be a specific method for the hostesses to go in and run the birthday parties,” Baroan explains. Employees needed a process road map—from the timing of the cake presentation to the sale of game tokens—to keep parties running smoothly and guest meltdowns to a minimum.

Baroan was a one-man show when he left his job in 1997 to focus on Baroan Technologies. Determined to hand off some of his workload as soon as possible, he took a page from the amusement park operations and began documenting all his business practices—everything from scheduling appointments and making service calls to training workers.

“The best way to delegate is to create processes and systems,” says Baroan, who now employs 18 people and brings in $3 million in annual revenue. “Then you have a consistent method where, no matter who’s doing a task, it’s going to be done the same way.”

4. Catch problems early.

Before devoting herself to her business full time in 2012, Katie Stack spent a decade working in the costume departments of regional theaters. Often it wasn’t until the final fitting that a designer would decide on a different color or fabric for a costume and want a replacement. Between overtime and last-minute shipping costs, “suddenly the cost of that new garment was around six times what the original cost of the garment was,” says Stack, who now runs Stitch & Rivet, a design studio and retail boutique in Washington, D.C.

In selling her own handmade totes, handbags and belts, Stack ensures that the quality of the materials she orders from vendors is up to snuff before making each product. Because if she isn’t happy with a particular fabric or zipper, her wholesale customers might not be either.

Stack’s advice: “If you need to change what you’re doing, change it in the prototype stage instead of in the final stage, when you’re up a creek and can’t really backtrack.”

5. Plan for financial fluctuations.
Heidi Andermack became intimately familiar with the fluctuations of small-business cash flow during the seven years she managed her husband’s custom font company. So when she co-founded Chowgirls Killer Catering in 2004 in Minneapolis, she and partner Amy Lynn Brown set some fiscal ground rules: Limit the amount of personal credit used to float the company during lean times; avoid draining their retirement funds; seek out a bank loan as soon as they qualified.

They also relied on their business’s peaks—summer wedding season and year-end holidays—to sustain the valleys. “Learning those patterns of your business is really important,” Andermack says. “You can expect slimmer times.”

You also can expect cost overruns, adds Stack, who began padding Stitch & Rivet’s budgets for worst-case scenarios during her theater days. “Always have a contingency budget,” she says, noting that she allots 15 to 20 percent more money than she thinks she needs for website overhauls, trade shows, printed materials and product development. “If you don’t use it, that’s great. But chances are you’re going to need it.”

6. Invest in employees.
Making workers feel valued has always been a primary concern for Chowgirls’ Brown, who was paid handsomely by the multinational media company that employed her for nine years before she turned her full attention to catering. “Being treated and compensated well and receiving great benefits taught me how important that is for staff loyalty,” she says.

Chowgirls, which makes more than $2 million in annual revenue, offers its full-time staffers competitive pay and generous benefits, including four weeks of paid parental leave, three weeks of paid vacation (after three years on staff), free massages and grocery discounts. “We have a really high retention level,” Brown says.

7. Treat customers like gold.
When Baroan started his company in the late ’90s, “IT people thought they were gods,” he says. But he had no desire to build a team of smug techies who would be too arrogant to treat customers with respect. Instead, he cribbed the service philosophy of his former employer, the amusement park: “We had a major focus on treating everyone like a guest in your home rather than just somebody off the street that you’re doing a favor.”

For his IT crew, this means showing up on time, addressing customers by name, answering questions and checking whether customers need anything else before wrapping up jobs.

“People judge you by what they can relate to,” Baroan says. His customers may not know much about network configuration data, but they know when someone is courteous and reliable. Baroan credits these traits with earning his company referrals and repeat customers over the years. “That’s how the business grew,” he says.

Cutting corners is not in Kevin Jordan’s DNA. His six years as a commercial airline pilot instilled in him an unshakable discipline. Skip the required preflight inspection, and you could jeopardize lives. Now owner of Redpoint Marketing Consultants, which he opened in 2012 in Farmville, Va., Jordan applies those same standards to each project he accepts, even those involving chores he’d rather avoid—and chores that his clients may not even know about. One such task: interviewing clients’ customers for their take on the business. “Some of those things are a pain,” he says. “It’s hard to get people on the phone.”

But for Jordan, having the discipline to go the distance when no one’s watch-ing is part of the job. “Just like with the preflight inspection, the client may never realize that you did a lot of these things,” he says. “But it will make a difference in the long run. And that’s what distinguishes me from other people who do what I do.”

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Cathy Harris is an Empowerment and Motivational Speaker, Non-GMO Health and Wellness Expert, Self-Publishing and Business Coach.