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6 Things to Do When You Feel Like Giving Up On Your Business

Starting your own business is a bold move. Those who’ve taken the leap of the faith know the feeling of wanting to give up all too well. Entrepreneurship is an emotional roller coast of highs and lows. At low points,  there are too many times where we ask ourselves “What the hell am I doing?”. I have experienced this time and time again with my entrepreneurial journey and I’ve found a few ways to really master stress management. If the feeling of overwhelm feels like it’s too much try these six these to keep your blood pressure down.


1.) Remember Why You Started– When you first took the leap of faith to make a living from what you love, what was the reason? When we have a great business idea, we get so excited about it and dive right in wide eyed and bushy tailed. This is the “honeymoon” period of your business where everything is amazing, you’re super motivated, and things are running smoothly. Then shit gets real. You enter into the “messy middle” where things start to go wrong. You’re tired, frustrated, and angry. Somewhere in all of the mayhem you lose sight of your vision and its beautiful beginnings. Take the time to recall the moment you decided to start this journey, and stay there for as long as you can. You’re going to need to revisit that moment frequently to get through the muck.

2.) Do Anything BUT Work– And don’t think about work either. It’s easier said than done and some may disagree with me, but I’ve found that when I am so overwhelmed with failure, walking away for a short while is the best thing to do. If I continue to work when I’m spiraling down mentally, I make poor business decisions, I become inefficient, and I won’t make the most productive use of my time. Take this time to hang out with friends, catch up with family, and just have fun. The work isn’t going anywhere. It will be waiting right there when you get back. Trust me.

3.) Pray, Meditate, Release– Like the saying goes, “When it Rains it Pours”. Two prospective clients fell through, you keep hearing “no”, you just received bad news in a personal matter—all happening simultaneously. When you start feeling like you are the unluckiest person in the world, chances are you need a mental adjustment to break those negative thought patterns. While we are not in control of everything in our lives, I am a firm believer  that we are in control of more than we think (insert any Law of Attraction quote here). When your business has put you under a lot of stress and fills your mind with negativity, you won’t get a positive outcome. I’m not saying to be in denial that you are feeling negative emotions. The key is to let it go. Negativity is inevitable. Embrace the emotion, admit there’s a problem, and move on as quickly as you can. Yell, cry, run five miles – do whatever works for you. Find some sort of (healthy) release and do it.

4.) Be Honest with Yourself– The greatest disservice anyone can do to their own progress is lie to themselves.  During this break, take time to clear all the clutter in your head and be completely honest with yourself. I mean brutally honest. When you feel like you’ve done all you can and you’re not getting the results you want, ask yourself this question: “Did I REALLY do all I could do to get the results I wanted?” Chances are the answer is – “No”. Most likely you didn’t exhaust all possibilities, you weren’t consistent, and/or you didn’t follow the formula you set for yourself.

5.) Ask for Help– This is the perfect time to get another pair of hands, a fresh new mind, or another perspective in the mix to help you do and see things you are unable to grasp. The Entrepreneurial path can sometimes be a lonely one. Most people will never understand why you chose that path, which leaves you feeling like you have to figure out everything on your own. You’re not alone. Join a mastermind group, get a mentor, hire an intern. Do whatever you can do to take some of the burden off of your shoulders. It will change your life.

6.) Re-strategize– Trial and error (there will be a lot of both) will be the only way to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. If something you’re doing isn’t working, try something else. During your break take time to come up with a new plan. At the very least make some adjustments to your current one, and then put it into action.


5 Major Ways Freelancers Will Change the Economy by 2040


By 2040, the American economy will be “scarcely recognizable,” according to a new report published by the Roosevelt Institute and the Kauffman Foundation.

We’ve seen glimpses of the looming changes already: freelancers now make up 34%—that’s 53 million people—of the U.S. workforce, according to a 2014 survey by Edelman Berland. In the next 25 years, this shift will accelerate in a major way towards entrepreneurship, independent contracting, and “peer-to-peer” work on platforms like TaskRabbit. Additionally, there will be major diversification of entrepreneurship as new platforms like crowdfunding and relocalized production become increasingly popular.

As traditional jobs wane, there will be some growing pains. “It’s going to put major strains on our public fiscal system,” says Dane Stangler, vice president of research and policy at the Kauffman Foundation. “We’ve built all of our massive entitlement programs—whether it’s social security for retirement or health care systems or unemployment insurance or whatever—around this notion of a fixed job.”

As we veer from this traditional work model, Stangler says the government will end up losing major payroll taxes, and that’s going to create challenges for our fiscal system unless some “very significant policy adaptations” are made.

He warns: “There’s a whole ripple effect if this is going to be an actual and growing part of the economy.”

The report, which includes insights from 30 economists, technologists, policy makers, and entrepreneurs, focuses on four main topics: the future of work, the future of technology, the future of entrepreneurship, and the future of inequality. Below are five changes to expect from America’s next economy:


It used to be that having a job meant security and success for Americans. Since the recession, the idea that a good job is the centerpiece of the “good economy” was proven wrong, as people realized having a good job doesn’t equate to job security.

By 2040, the job market will consist of part-time assignments, portfolio careers, and entrepreneurialism. Instead of day-in, day-out work consisting of much of the same responsibilities, a “career, then, will be composed of thousands of [short-term] assignments spread out over a lifetime,” says the report.

In other words, workers will work on short-term assignments ranging from several days to multiple years, and will become employees for their own firms. As this becomes the norm, the vast majority of job growth in 2040 will come from small businesses.


As traditional jobs—with their health insurance, retirement planning, and tax withholdings—disappear, we will see more platforms and institutions develop to help workers and their families manage exigencies and mitigate risks. These platforms will meet needs in three distinct categories, according to the report:

1. Offer new means of marketing and selling goods and services, like Etsy does with handmade crafts.

2. Provide ways for workers to learn about new assignments, to qualify for and schedule assignments, to collect payments, and to meet such needs as health care, insurance, pensions, child care, and elderly care, like Task Rabbit.

3. Offer training and education programs for workers to connect with the larger market.


In the past, talent agencies were reserved for performing artists and athletes, but in the next economy, talent agencies and headhunting firms will start to play a bigger role in the lives of the everyday professionals looking to further their career. The report says:

There is not a single model or clear linear path along which the platforms of the new economy will evolve, but it is evident that the profoundly different nature of jobs and work in the emerging new economy will require profoundly different platforms for organizing work and careers.


The rise in self-employment will inevitably increase wages (think: you’re no longer suffering under an underpaying employer). Additionally, as the aging population retires and with a birthrate below replacement, the labor supply will decrease, which will also play a role in boosting wages.

While immigration can help meet new labor demands, it’s unlikely to stall wage growth, according to the report.


Sure, you’ll be free from an underpaying employer, but this also means your career success relies solely on you.

The report says:

In particular, workers will be forced to think constantly about their next assignment, the skills required for that assignment, and the education and credentials required to gain those skills.

There will no longer be specific guidelines or career ladders to guarantee a career trajectory. Instead, workers will have to be savvier than their predecessors, because life has gotten much more complicated.

To be successful, individuals will have to be more entrepreneurial in thinking and planning their lives, meaning constantly selling themselves, defining one’s own work, and educating themselves for future assignments. In the next economy, work may be more lucrative and fulfilling, but the idea that you’ll be professionally rewarded because you’ve been loyal to a company will be a thing of the past.

This article was originally posted on Fast Company.


How Freelancers Can Protect Themselves and Get Paid on Time


Piecing together a steady stream of work and keeping on top of your finances are two skills every freelancer needs to master early on to cut it as a solo worker. Still, often it’s getting paid–-and paid on time—that can become a freelancer’s biggest hurdle. The work is done and delivered, yet you’re still sitting on thousands of dollars in unpaid invoices.

It’s a common complaint for independent workers across industries. In a recent survey by the Freelancers Union, nearly half of participants reported problems with getting paid. According to Sara Horowitz, labor lawyer and founder of the Freelancers Union, member freelancers are owed more than $10,000 in unpaid invoices and spend an estimated 36 hours tracking down each missing payment.

The Freelancers Union has been vocal about the need to hold companies accountable for paying contract workers on time–-even launching a public ad campaign on New York subways this month to address the issue. Some startups are seeing this as a business opportunity. Fundbox, for example, focuses on lending to startups to help them pay freelancers without delay; Harpoon offers financial planning, invoicing, and goal-setting app features for freelancers; and sites like Shake let you create and send legally binding agreements.

But while advocates and startups are galvanizing around the issue, there are still practical and essential steps every freelancer should follow to protect themselves and take matters into their own hands.


Often the issue of not getting paid on time can be avoided altogether if you know the problem signs to look out for when approached by new clients, says Ilise Benun, author of the book The Creative Professional’s Guide to Money. “Before you even get to the contract and deposit stage, you need to know what the red flags are for the problem clients,” she says.

Benun identifies fives types of problem clients to watch out for:

1. The chaotic client: This is the person who flakes on every meeting, is always late, canceling, rescheduling, or seems constantly frazzled. We all encounter some chaos in our workdays, but if you’re working for someone who is continuously in a frantic and forgetful state, chances are they won’t be the most timely when it comes to getting you paid.

2. The clueless client: They want to hire you, but don’t know what they want and need and how much it ought to cost. From the start, work to establish clarity with this kind of client, but if they really don’t know what they want and aren’t willing to pay your rates, you’re better off not getting involved.

3. The jerk: You know who they are. It can be easy to spot these problem clients from the get-go. If they don’t treat you with the kind of respect you’re giving them, trust your gut and avoid the headache.

4. The cheapskate: Everyone wants a good deal. But remember what your rates are and don’t let anyone try to talk you into giving them a lower rate because they’re being cheap. “It could be that they don’t know what it should cost and you have to educate them,” says Benun. That, “or they are really cheap and don’t value your services in the first place.”

5. The big bore: Often work opportunities come up that really don’t excite you. There’s nothing wrong with the client per se; you’re just not into the work. “It’s a red flag when you don’t want the project,” says Benun. Hard as it can be to say no to work, if you really don’t care for a project, there’s a good chance you won’t do your best job and might build resentment towards the client hiring you.

The bottom line, according to Benun: “Protect yourself by saying no to the bad clients.”


Say your client doesn’t raise any major red flags and you’re ready to start a new assignment. Take time to consider what the particular job means to you, says attorney Nicole Page, partner at Reavis Parent Lehrer LLP, where she specializes in entertainment, intellectual property, and employment law. Are you in it just for the money? Do you care about the ideas and work you’re producing and hope to do something more with them down the line? Think this through in advance. “It’s hard when you’re just trying to build a career and get your work out there,” says Page. “But you need to think: ‘What do I want to do with this piece of material?'”

Thinking through what work means to you is important, because you’ll likely be signing some sort of copyright agreement that either passes off all rights to the client or enables you to license the work for a certain period of time or limited use. “If you’re contributing something of a creative nature, it might be very important to you, whether it’s an ownership deal or a licensing deal,” says Page.

Typically, there are three common options when it comes to ownership:

  • Work for hire: Everything you create is treated as if it was created by and for the client exclusively. They own the copyright and can do with it as they please.
  • A license: You license the use of the work for a certain amount of time or on a certain platform, but the copyright ultimately comes back to you.
  • A straight buyout: This has the same result as work for hire. You’ve created the work, and the client then buys all the rights for it.


Don’t let the idea of an official contract scare you. “A written contract doesn’t have to be a really long involved legal document, which people tend to get intimidated by,” says Stephen Fishman, legal expert and author of the book Working for Yourself. As long as the fundamentals of the job are covered—who you are, what the job is, how much you’re getting paid and when, and who owns the work—you should have the basics covered. That said, it’s always important to have some sort of written document outlining these details—even if it’s an email or a simple letter agreement. Online resources like Shake offer a fairly easy way to generate contract agreements including your specific project details.

Page advises freelancers ensure certain specifics that too often get left out of contracts. For writers, for example, it’s important to indicate how many rounds of comments and rewrites are part of the project. Commit to two rewrites, and anything after that would require that you get paid an hourly or day rate for additional work.

A clause that protects you against legal claims and one that indicates a specific pay period—be it 10 days, 15, 30, or more—must also be included so that clients know what window of time they have to pay you in upfront, says Page.

Freelancers can get a bad rap as being flakey or unprofessional when they don’t follow those basic business procedures. “The biggest thing I tell people is read what you are signing. Don’t just sign it. Think about it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions,” says Page. “People think, ‘If I ask, the deal is going to go away.'” But that’s simply not true. “Look at it like: ‘This is my business,'” she says. “You have to learn how to be a business person.”


People often find talking about money extremely uncomfortable. But avoiding the topic is a major mistake. “A lot of people have problems talking about money in the first place, especially if they are charging hourly and not letting the client know how much money and time is being racked up,” says Benun. Be sure to communicate how much time you’ve put into work throughout the process to make sure clients don’t feel sideswiped when your invoice arrives. “You have to over-communicate,” says Benun. “Just make it part of your process to send your client a regular update of where you are budget-wise.”


It’s inevitable that even after taking all the right steps, your payments still aren’t coming in on time. When following up on invoices, there are a few fundamentals to keep in mind. Often the problem isn’t that a freelancer doesn’t have a contract in place, it’s that they aren’t using it properly. “It needs to be done in the most impersonal way possible,” says Benun. “You really have to be very professional about it.”

Revisit your contract. If a payment is past the window of time you specified it should be made in, let your client know the payment terms have been breached. “Don’t harass immediately,” says Benun. Often late payments are a result of miscommunication, invoices getting lost in the shuffle, or other internal hiccups. If it’s been 32 days since you filed an invoice and you haven’t been paid, let them know the payment is two-days past due. If that’s not enough, keep following up. “The squeaky wheel gets the grease,” says Benun.PULLING OUT THE BIG GUNS

There’s only so much pestering you can do when a payment isn’t being made. If the amount of money you’re waiting on is significant enough that it’s more important for you to be paid than to continue working with that client in the future, you can always take what Fishman calls the “nuclear option” and sue the client in small claims court. “It’s a great way to collect a relatively small debt,” says Fishman.

Still, before going that route, it might be more effective to simply have a lawyer write a letter to let the client know you’re serious.


The key to keeping late payments from devastating your finances, says Benun, is having a solid marketing plan. “I need to know where I am according to my monthly income and what I need to do between now and then to make my goal,” she says. “The way you do that is through marketing.”

By marketing, she means having a regular plan in place to hustle up more work that you can turn to when your finances indicate you might be short. That could be as simple as committing to going to one networking event each month to help generate new leads, sending out a monthly newsletter to your contacts, or spending an hour each month making phone calls or emailing former clients about potential new work.

“There is definitely a feast or famine quality to freelance work,” says Benun. “When people get stuck, they have no foundation to build on.” Get that foundation in place, and you’ll be in a much better position to take control of your finances—late payments or not.

This article was originally published on Fast Company.


phone woman hands pink nail polish


Aside from actually drumming up business, a lot of the stress of freelance life involves staying organized and on task. Fortunately, technology is there to help us, but it’s not always clear what’s actually worth the cost or the time spent figuring it out. Here are some programs, apps, and tricks that successful freelancers swear by:


Chicago author and editor Wendy McClure turned me on to Evernote, which helped me out greatly when I was working on a story that referenced several articles and emails, which is what Wendy uses it for, too. When she has all her saved references in on space on the Evernote desktop or phone app, she says, “I can free up my web browser for other tasks, or just close it up if I want to stay offline to focus on my draft.” McClure also adds that the app is helpful for scanning receipts for tax purposes.

Scrivener is writing software that has seriously changed my life,” says Chicago health writer Cindy Kuzma. “I write a lot of medical articles that involve sourcing from research studies; Scrivener helps me stay organized by housing everything in one file and then by showing two files in split screen, so I can have the source material on one side and my draft on the other. I know I only use a small portion of its functionality; I think it’s worth at least double the $45 price tag.”


The internet is a distracting place. For those freelancers who can’t rely on good, old-fashioned willpower to stay focused, many swear by Freedom, a program that locks your computer off the Internet for as long as you command it. “It’s awesome for forcing oneself to actually write versus ‘write,’” says marketer Brooke O’Neill. Crucially, it talks to your phone as well, so you can’t cheat.


Some research says there’s a science to how long you should work uninterrupted. “Twenty-five minutes is a pomodoro—how long you can really work on something before you need a teeny break,” says writer Courtney Rubin. For those, she says, “I am as low-rent as it gets. I use a timer on my phone. I set it for 25 minutes, and I generally don’t check my email during that time.” When she has to source emails for a story, “I cut and paste it all into a Word document so I’m not tempted to cheat.” She will also switch the phone to airplane mode during this time so she won’t be distracted by notifications.

Pomodoros (named for the Italian word for tomato by a study-abroad student who coined the method using a tomato-shaped kitchen timer) can be set by your computer, too. “Every day I use TomatoTimer.com. It’s much faster and less unwieldy than setting the timer on your phone,” says editor and writer Lindsay Robertson. “There are also browser extensions that let you work in 25-minute increments and take a five-minute break and block social media sites, but I’ve found that sometimes I actually need to look at a social media site for work, and it’s annoying when it’s blocked.”

If you want to be hardcore, though: “In times of great desperation, I sometimes resort to Write or Die,” says Chicago writer Anne Ford. It’s a program that can be set to start deleting your text if you stop writing for too long.


When I first started out, pop culture writer Nathan Rabin referred me to Aynax, which he described as “perfectly adequate” when it comes to tracking invoices. Sometimes “perfectly adequate” is all you need. I then use an app called TinyScanner for sending off contracts. Robertson, meanwhile, recommends Harvest for invoices: “It is so incredibly easy that I don’t dread invoicing.”


HelloSign, says business writer Ann Logue, is a Gmail add-on that “lets me sign contracts without the horrible steps of printing, signing, scanning, then emailing. You click on the form, fill it out, and send it back. It saves a ton of time and energy.”

“I use Freshbooks for invoicing, time tracking, and expenses,” says Kuzma. “I really like that I can use it to take photos of my receipts for expenses, then I don’t have to hoard paper copies. The invoices themselves look professional, and I can either send them as pdfs or send an email directly through the program to my client.” Plus, her accountant can simply log into her account when he needs to do her taxes.


For phone interviews I use an iPhone app called TapeACall (the pro version). It takes a few steps, but if I can figure it out, anyone can. It saves your recordings, and then you can export them to DropBox or anyplace you like for transcribing.

For taping Skype interviews, Ford says, “There’s a great add-on called Call Recorder. It pops up when you open Skype, and you just click a button to start recording a call. Super-easy, and it’s never failed me.”

Kuzma points out that Scrievener is also helpful for transcribing. “You can have a soundfile on one side and the transcript on the other, then use quick keys to pause and restart. Plus, there’s a feature that will automatically rewind a few seconds each time you restart, so you can get anything you might have missed.


I live in fear of forgetting an assignment or an appointment. My husband, producerSteve Delahoyde, was the one who told me about Wunderlist. “I like that it works across devices, so I have my to-do list everywhere and it’s always in sync. I also like the Pavlovian ‘ding!’ that sounds when you check something off,” he says. I also like that we now have a shared grocery list on it, so he has no excuse not to get what we need at the store when he’s there.


Speaking of mixing work and groceries, author and columnist Jolie Kerr likes AnyList. “I find really helpful for juggling household responsibilities with work, which can be really tricky when you work at home and can get easily distracted by the fact that you just ran out of olive oil.” She uses it to jot down shopping lists and errands. She also recommends the Chrome extension called Dayboard. “It lets you create a five-point to-do list that shows up any time you open a new tab. It’s super helpful for noting things like deadlines or reminders to send and check up on invoices.”

This article was originally published on Fast Company.


Why the Freelancer Economy is on the Rise



As of May 2015, 15.5 million people in the U.S. were self-employed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics—an increase of roughly 1 million since May 2014. That number is expected to keep growing at a steady clip. By 2020, a separate study estimates that more than 40% of the American workforce, or 60 million people, will be independent workers—freelancers, contractors, and temporary employees.

Increasingly, contractor positions are being held by the best and brightest. Harvard Business Review recently called this phenomenon “The Rise of the Supertemp.” These days, even professionals like attorneys, CMOs, and consultants with world-class training are choosing to work independently.

There are many reasons why independent work is on the rise, from shifting economic conditions to corporate downsizing and employee dissatisfaction. But two things have slowly fueled the trend in a much bigger way, lowering the barriers that once made independent contracting much more challenging.


There are now more ways to work remotely than ever before, from devices, apps, and other personal technology that lets us communicate with one another from virtually everywhere. But there’s another kind of technology that plays an arguably bigger role—platforms designed to match companies with talent.

One of the biggest hurdles for most contractors is business development and filling their project pipelines. Some 35% of respondents in a recent survey by Contently, which matches independent writers and businesses, said that securing enough work was their biggest daily obstacle. But new online marketplaces are launching in a wide range of categories, helping talented freelancers to find jobs in their chosen fields.

I recently visited the Contently offices in New York City and saw how its growing business model and technology platform are pairing brands with journalists, writers, and storytellers. Without it, many such partnerships wouldn’t have been available to either the freelancers or the companies now working with them.

HourlyNerd is a similar platform, designed by Harvard MBA students to connect companies with talented business consultants. The community lets businesses compare consultants’ profiles to those who correspond with their needs. Users can bid on projects within HourlyNerd’s platform, making it a flexible option to find qualified independent partners.


It’s not uncommon for independent workers to feel isolated. But the rise of co-working spaces in top urban centers is changing that, offering freelancers unprecedented support and resources.

Co-working spaces are providing more than just a sense of community that comes from working around others. WeWork, for instance, is one of the most popular providers of workspace for independent contractors, and it’s expanding to major cities around the world. The company has raised the bar in part by focusing on creating a collaborative ambience you’d find at any cutting-edge startup. WeWork spaces even boast arcades, fresh fruit, and beer on tap.

There are of course more traditional perks, too. More than 150 WeWork partners offer services like human resources, web consulting, and accounting help—removing some of onus on freelancers to do everything themselves. And in case you think co-working spaces are an unnecessary luxury or just a passing trend in the freelancer economy, remember that WeWork was recently valued at $10 billion.


Talent-matching platforms and co-working spaces are just two leading trends behind a freelancer economy that’s growing more robust by the day. Other models and services are bound to spring up to bridge more gaps between consultants and companies in more flexible ways than ever before.

And of course, the rise of independent work isn’t just a boon to independent workers, either. It also allows businesses to find more targeted and better qualified talent to address their needs—typically at lower costs. Rather than bringing someone in full-time, with benefits and a salary, a company can hire a consultant who’s ideally suited to a particular project. And that consultant is likely to have more resources to tackle it than at any time before.

It’s worth remembering the new freelancer economy isn’t about “temp” labor. Independent workers are increasingly strategic, experienced, and professional. They want more flexibility than a traditional employee, and in many cases they’re getting it.


Author: Brendon Schrader is founder of Antenna, a Minneapolis-based marketing firm that delivers experienced marketing professionals to companies of all sizes. Schrader is a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs.

How to Find Your Passion in 5 Creativity Exercises

Benjamin Disraeli, a 19th century British Prime Minister, once said, “Man is only great when he acts from passion.”

For today’s aspiring entrepreneur, exploring avenues of creativity to find your passion is likely the quickest route to increase your chances of launching a successful business. Where to start? Here, with five exercises to help you uncover your passion.

Exercise 1 – Revisit your childhood. What did you love to do?

“It’s amazing how disconnected we become to the things that brought us the most joy in favor of what’s practical,” says Rob Levit, an Annapolis, Md.-based creativity expert, speaker and business consultant.

Levit suggests making a list of all the things you remember enjoying as a child. Would you enjoy that activity now? For example, Frank Lloyd Wright, America’s greatest architect, played with wooden blocks all through childhood and perhaps well past it.

“Research shows that there is much to be discovered in play, even as adults,” Levit says.

Revisit some of the positive activities, foods and events of childhood. Levit suggests asking yourself these questions to get started: What can be translated and added into your life now? How can those past experiences shape your career choices now?

Exercise 2 – Make a “creativity board.”

Start by taking a large poster board, put the words “New Business” in the center and create a collage of images, sayings, articles, poems and other inspirations, suggests Michael Michalko, a creativity expert based in Rochester, N.Y., and Naples, Fla., and author of creativity books and tools, including ThinkPak (Ten Speed Press, 2006).

“The idea behind this is that when you surround yourself with images of your intention — who you want to become or what you want to create — your awareness and passion will grow,” Michalko says.

As your board evolves and becomes more focused, you will begin to recognize what is missing and imagine ways to fill the blanks and realize your vision.

Exercise 3 – Make a list of people who are where you want to be.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Study people who have been successful in the area you want to pursue.

For example, during the recession, many people shied away from the real estate market because they thought it was a dead end. Levit believes that’s the perfect time to jump in — when most others are bailing out — because no matter the business, there are people who are successful in it. Study them, figure out how and why they are able to remain successful when everyone else is folding and then set up structures to emulate them.

“If you want to be creative, create a rigorous and formal plan,” Levit says. “It’s not the plan that is creative; it’s the process that you go through that opens up so many possibilities.”

Exercise 4 – Start doing what you love, even without a business plan.

A lot of people wait until they have an extensive business plan written down, along with angel investors wanting to throw cash at them — and their ideas never see the light of day, according to Cath Duncan, a Calgary, Canada-based creativity expert and life coach who works with entrepreneurs and other professionals.

She recommends doing what you enjoy — even if you haven’t yet figured out how to monetize it. Test what it might be like to work in an area you’re passionate about, build your business network and ask for feedback that will help you develop and refine a business plan.

It’s a way to not only show the value you would bring, but you can also get testimonials that will help launch your business when you’re ready to make it official.

“Perhaps most importantly, though, it’ll shift you out of paralysis and fear,” Cath says, “and the joy of seeing the difference your contribution makes will fuel your creativity.”

Exercise 5 – Take a break from business thinking.

While it might feel uncomfortable to step outside of business mode, the mind sometimes needs a rest from such bottom-line thinking, says Levit, who has recently taken up Japanese haiku, a form of poetry. Maybe for you, it will be creative writing, painting, running or even gardening.

After you take a mental vacation indulging in something you’re passionate about, Levit suggests coming back to a journal and writing down any business ideas that come to mind.

“You’ll be amazed at how refreshed your ideas are,” he says. “Looking at beautiful things – art and nature – creates connections that we often neglect to notice. Notice them capture, them in writing and use them.”


Author: Lisa Girard

Source: Entrepreneur

dj khaled they dont want

Many of us have watched DJ Khaled’s “journey of more success” on Snapchat. Every day he walks us through his routine, and drops “major keys” of information on how he achieved success. He’s pretty entertaining, and if you need another reason to follow him Complex compiled his antics here.  With that being said, there are some things that factor into DJ Khaled’s Snapchat success that he’s not saying. Even if you’re not a DJ that shamelessly promotes himself, there are still plenty of valuable lessons that any creative entrepreneur can take away:

Major Key #1: He’s an Early Adopter

Snapchat is quickly turning into the go-to social medium (and still growing). Khaled was smart enough to see the potential early on and take advantage of gaining attention without competing with the clutter you’ll find on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. He also used the platform in an innovative way that can’t really be done on other social mediums: he shows the “boring” day-to-day stuff that wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining elsewhere. Before Snapchat, social media was typically used to highlight the interesting things people do, and give a false perception that everyone’s lives were more exciting than they actually were in real life. You won’t see too much bottle poppin’ and groupie love on Khaled’s snapchat. 80% of his snaps are of him eating and watering his plants. Yep. Social media is taking a turn in the right direction, starting with Khaled.

dj khaled key


Major Key #2: He’s Repetitive

To succeed in anything, repetition is crucial. Khaled pretty much does the same thing every time you watch his snaps. He eats his turkey bacon, egg whites, wheat toast, and drinks water every morning. He waters his plants and talks to “LION!”. Chef D prepares him a lunch that is enough to feed a family of 10, and then he goes jet skiing. In between all of these daily rituals, he gives positive reinforcement and motivation. Doing the same thing every day, at the same time every day turns into a system that is almost fail-proof if you stick to it. In terms of marketing, repetition is vital to getting your message out and building a strong following. He also repeats certain signature phrases over and over that continue to go viral.


Major Key #3: He’s a Story Teller

“Walk with me on the journey to the path of more success” is the first thing you hear DJ Khaled say before he starts his day. Snapchat is the perfect platform to “tell a story” and he has mastered it. If you’re trying to promote yourself on Snapchat, the best way to use it is to show progression. Any good story has four basic parts: Introduction, Build Up, Climax, and Resolution.  If you’re trying to use Snapchat to promote yourself, be sure to give thought to your snap, and try to keep that structure in mind. If you’re randomly snapping selfies, your cat, and your lunch, it will probably only be entertaining to your closest friends.

dj khaled snap meme


Major Key #4: He’s Transparent

Khaled does an amazing job of connecting personally with his fans, and letting them into what he’s like outside of his job. If you’re trying to brand yourself, you’ll have a hard time connecting with a potential fan or customer if you’re not letting them in (even if only in a small way) to who you are as a person. Decades ago, creatives could market themselves separately without giving away too much information on their personal lives. Those days are gone.  It’s a little nerve racking for introverts who want to keep to themselves, but I actually like that people are not blindly buying into things anymore without knowing what’s going on behind the scenes. Customers and fans want to know who they are giving their money to, so if you’re not showing your face every now and then you’re going to have a hard time running a business.


Major Key #5: He’s Positive

Spreading positivity is not only great for business but more importantly will allow you to sleep better at night. Khaled’s simple-yet-optimistic messages have caught on like wildfire and everyone is tuning in. I have to admit, there are times where I have been way more productive after watching DJ Khaled’s snaps. So don’t be negative. Don’t play yourself.

Why I Stopped Calling Myself a “Freelancer”


The night it happened, I was at a party filled with potential clients. I saw opportunity everywhere I looked. Then I saw a friend. As we caught up on business and life, others joined us. My friend introduced me as a “marketing freelancer” to the CEO of a company. She smiled politely, cocked her head, and asked if I was an expert at “that Twitter thing.”

I explained that I was actually a CMO-for-hire focused on marketing and branding strategy. But after my friend’s introduction, it was clear that prospects now saw me as a low-level social media worker who’d just pile tweets and status updates into their channels. I left feeling undervalued and angry. I vowed never to let anyone introduce me that way again.

Looking back years later, I see my friend hadn’t meant me any harm. If anything, it was his own earlier, failed attempt at self-employment that made him label me the way he did. He was once a “freelancer”—glad not to be one any longer.


The words you use influence others’ perception of you. What’s your first thought when you hear the word “freelancer”? Do you picture a college kid working out of her parent’s basement? Many people who call themselves freelancers don’t exactly think of what they do as a business. But they should.

Saying you’re a freelancer doesn’t signal to others that you’re a know-what-you’re-doing, take-no-crap professional. That bias may be unfair, but it’s a reality. Clients too often see freelance arrangements as low-cost line items rather than strategic partnerships.

And that creates a power imbalance, with the client in charge—hardly an ideal situation for independent workers, especially those trying to start a business with the express purpose of gaining more freedom over their work. Others start working on their own after they quit a job or get laid off. Maybe freelancing was just the path of least resistance, possibly begun by picking up work from a former employer.

As clients understand them, “freelancers” often have a series of small gigs, short pipelines, and limited ability to choose which work they do. The term also implies a temporary state, suggesting that you’re in transition and may find a new job soon, leaving your client in the lurch. Clients don’t pay you for your freedom. They pay you to do a job for them—and expect you to finish it.

Of course, any freelancer with integrity will do that, but many find themselves up against less magnanimous expectations. You don’t have to pretend you have a corporate business or huge staff, but you do want prospects and clients to know that you’re serious about your work and that they can count on you.


Everyone who works for themselves has wrestled some point over what title to use. Many start by using the title “freelance _______”—designer, writer, software developer, or whatever the case may be. And since many do start off seeing themselves freelancing as a short-term gig, they use the label strategically, signaling that they’re available for hire and would consider a full-time offer.

But it’s easy to fall victim that way to feeling like an impostor—someone who’s just pretending to be a business owner. So while “freelancer” may be more akin to how you see what you do, it might be selling you short. After all, your livelihood doesn’t depend on your own self-perception, but on how potential clients see you and your work.

If this feels like just semantics, it isn’t. Words affect not just your personal brand but also your mood and behavior. Feeling like an imposter attracts an inner trash talker. Having repetitive negative thoughts can activate the amygdala, the brain’s fear center. Our own ideas about ourselves mingle with the ways we believe others see us. So if you think of yourself as someone who’s desperate for work, lost control of their career, or lacks expertise, you’ll telegraph that message to prospects and clients.

The popular belief that communication is 93% body language and only 7% words has been found not to be quite true. Yet we’re often sloppy when it comes to our word choice when it really matters. In fact, the words we ourselves speak send messages to our brains, which adds a new dimension to the fact that the ways others see us starts the second we introduce ourselves.


When he first started out, Tim Dietrich described himself as a “freelance database consultant.” But he soon realized that the “freelance” tag said more to clients about the structure of his business (process) than what he could actually do for them (results). Tim now introduces himself with this simple line, “I develop custom apps for businesses.” Who would you want to work with more: Someone who tells you how they file their taxes or explains what they can do for your balance sheet?

Telling someone you own a business gives you instant credibility. It signals that you’re serious about your work. Business owners are professional. Business owner are savvy. Businesses solve problems for other businesses. Having a business is a commitment, signaling that the client’s project is likely to get your focused effort. Telling prospects that you have a business can also influence whether you land a project in the first place.

Freelancers don’t always see themselves as business owners because businesses have quarterly targets, revenue streams, and brand images to preserve. And clients expect that other businesses have systems and processes leading to consistent results. Don’t worry if you’re still working on systems and processes. It’s still okay to call yourself a business—which can in turn push you to build a workflow for yourself, set firmer goals, and increase your margins—just like an actual business.

After all, if you’re in business for yourself, that’s exactly what you already are.

This article was originally posted on Fast Company.

About the Author: Suzan Bond is an executive coach and marketing strategist who teaches professionals how to gain independence by working for themselves. She is currently writing a book, Bet On Yourself: A Practical Guide to Professional Freedom. Follow her on Twitter at @suzanbond.

6 Lifestyle Hacks that Successful Creatives Use

6 Unusual Habits of Exceptionally Creative People

I expend a huge amount of my time and energy writing books and articles and working to keep my company innovative. I’ve developed an obsession with some of history’s most creative minds in the hope that I might learn some tricks to expand my own creative productivity.

Some of the things I’ve learned are more useful than others, and some are simply too weird to try.

Steve Jobs, for example, routinely sat on toilets, dangling his bare feet in the water while he came up with new ideas, and Yoshiro Nakamatsu (inventor of the floppy disc) would dive deep under water until his brain was deprived of oxygen, then write his ideas on an underwater sticky pad.

Weird ideas aside, I’ve developed a pretty good understanding of the habits of some of history’s most creative minds. There’s enough commonality between different people that I’ve distilled their habits into strategies that anyone can follow.

Six of these strategies stand out because they have the power to change the way you think about creativity. Give them a try, and you’ll reach new levels of creative productivity.

1. Wake up early.

Not all creative minds are morning people. Franz Kafka routinely stayed up all night writing, and William Styron (author of Sophie’s Choice, among other best sellers) woke up at noon every day and considered his “morning” routine to be staying in bed for another hour to think.

However, early risers make up the clear majority of creative thinkers. The list of creative early risers ranges from Benjamin Franklin to Howard Schultz to Ernest Hemmingway, though they didn’t all wake up early for the same reasons. Ben Franklin woke up early to plan out his day, while Schultz uses the time to send motivational emails to his employees. For many creative people, waking up early is a way to avoid distractions. Ernest Hemingway woke up at 5 a.m. every day to begin writing. He said, “There is no one to disturb you and it is cool and cold and you come to your work and warm as you write.”

The trick to making getting up early stick is to do it every day and avoid naps—no matter how tired you feel. Eventually, you will start going to bed earlier to make up for the lost sleep. This can make for a couple of groggy days at first, but you’ll adjust quickly, and before you know it, you’ll join the ranks of creative early risers.

2. Exercise frequently.

There’s plenty of evidence pointing to the benefits of exercise for creativity. Feeling good physically gets you in the right mood to focus and be productive. Exercise also forces you to have disconnected time (it’s tough to text or email while working out), and this allows you to reflect on whatever it is you’re working on. In a Stanford study, 90% of people were more creative after they exercised.

It’s no surprise that so many creative and successful people built exercise into their daily routines. Kurt Vonnegut took walks into the nearby town, swam laps, and did push-ups and sit-ups, Richard Branson runs every morning, and composers Beethoven and Tchaikovsky both walked daily.

3. Stick to a strict schedule.

It’s a common misconception that in order to be creative, one must live life on a whim with no structure and no sense of need to do anything, but the habits of highly successful and creative people suggest otherwise. In fact, most creative minds schedule their days rigorously. Psychologist William James described the impact of a schedule on creativity, saying that only by having a schedule can we “free our minds to advance to really interesting fields of action.”

4. Keep your day job.

Creativity flourishes when you’re creating for yourself and no one else. Creativity becomes more difficult when your livelihood depends upon what you create (and you begin to think too much about what your audience will think of your product). Perhaps this is why so many successful and creative people held on to their day jobs. Many of them, like Stephen King, who was a schoolteacher, produced their breakout (and, in King’s case, what many consider his very best) work while they still held a 9 to 5.

Day jobs provide more than the much-needed financial security to create freely. They also add structure to your day that can make your creative time a wonderful release. The list of successful, creative minds who kept their day jobs is a long one. Some notable individuals include Jacob Arabo, who started designing his own jewelry while working in a jewelry shop; William Faulkner, who worked in a power plant while writing As I Lay Dying; and musician Philip Glass, who worked as a plumber.

5. Learn to work anywhere, anytime.

A lot of people work in only one place, believing it’s practically impossible for them to get anything done anywhere else. Staying in one place is actually a crutch; studies show that changing environments is beneficial to productivity and creativity. E.B. White, author of Charlotte’s Web, said it well: “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.” The same is true for any type of creative work. If you keep waiting until you are in the perfect place at the ideal time, the time will never come.

Steve Jobs started Apple in his mom’s garage, and JK Rowling wrote the first ideas for Harry Potter on a napkin on a train. When you have a creative idea, don’t wait—put it into action as soon as you can. Recording that spark of creativity may very well be the foundation of something great.

6. Learn that creative blocks are just procrastination.

As long as your heart is still beating, you have the ability to come up with new ideas and execute them. They may not always be great ones, but the greatest enemy of creativity is inactivity.

Author Jodi Picoult summarized creative blocks perfectly: “I don’t believe in writer’s block. Think about it—when you were blocked in college and had to write a paper, didn’t it always manage to fix itself the night before the paper was due? Writer’s block is having too much time on your hands. If you have a limited amount of time to write, you just sit down and do it. You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”

Picoult’s comment describes all creative activity—the only way to stay creative is to keep moving forward.

Bringing it all together

In my experience, you must get intentional about your creativity if you want it to flourish. Give these six strategies a try to see what they can do for you.

Author: Travis Bradberry

This article was originally published on Entrepreneur.

14 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

Product development, web design, free-style rapping, writing, cooking, art, music, to the way you make your bed in the morning, what are we talking about here?


From forward-thinking tech-product managers such as Ryan Hoover, to the barista who serves your coffee art, we all have creativity within us. Here’s a hit list of 14 things nobody told you about being creative:

1. Anyone can do it.

If you want to be creative, do it. Forget the prejudice that creativity is saved for the select few. With a willingness to learn and desire to start, you can be creative. So get going.

2. Creatives steal.

Art is theft. — Pablo Picasso

Actually, I took the concept for this column’s title from the book, Steal Like An Artist, by Austin Kleon. My title was his subtitle, and became the inspiration to write this piece. How’s that for meta?

This is seen in all disciplines, with blaring examples surfacing in hip hop. How many times have you heard your favorite rapper’s chorus, sound byte or voice in another rapper’s song?

Pablo Picasso is often quoted as saying, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” From web design, writing, music, to cooking, there are endless examples of creatives “borrowing from one another.”


3. Freestyle rappers should be your creative role models.

Speaking of rap: This study shows brain scans of freestyle rappers with the goal to understand the neuroscience behind the skill.

“We think what we see is a relaxation of ‘executive functions’ to allow more natural de-focused attention and uncensored processes to occur that might be the hallmark of creativity,” says Allen Braun, a neuroscientist at the U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders in Bethesda, Md.

In layman’s terms, the rappers were able to remove themselves from the logical thinking that happens in their brains so that the creative side could come through. Mind — blown.

4. It can be a learned skill.

There are endless research studies that have been shown that creativity is a learned behavior. One of my favorite studies was done by George Land.

In 1968, Land tested the creativity of 1,600 children. He re-tested the same children at 10 years of age and again at 15. The results were astounding.

  • Test results amongst 5 year olds: 98 percent
  • Test results amongst 10 year olds: 30 percent
  • Test results amongst 15 year olds: 12 percent
  • Same test given to 280,000 adults: 2 percent

“What we have concluded,” Land wrote, “is that non-creative behavior is learned.”

Wow.This should give us even more reason to go against societal norms.

5. It can be improved.

Here are some ways to improve it: experimenting, exploring, questioning assumptions, using imagination and synthesizing information.

Last week I wrote a column about different activities that allow my entrepreneurial brain to be more creative.

6. ADHD is good.

Latent inhibition is a person’s ability to ignore irrelevant information in the world, an important skill in navigating such a complex place. However, people with low latent inhibition, such as those with ADHD, have less of a filter, and are more likely to notice seemingly irrelevant information around them. You could say their logic force is constantly subdued. As a result, they are more likely to make unexpected connections.

7. All ideas matter.

One idea can create a domino effect. In his book, Where Good Ideas Come From, Steven Johnson writes that “creativity happens when seemingly unrelated existing ideas collide to form new ideas.”

8. Use it or lose it.

Creativity is a muscle that can be developed with constant exercise and healthy habits.

Combining their research about creativity, Tony Schwartz and Swedish psychologist Anders Ericsson found that, “it’s possible to build any given skill or capacity in the same systematic way we do a muscle: push past your comfort zone, and then rest … it’s not inherited talent which determines how good we become at something, but rather how hard we’re willing to work.”

9. Look outside.

Most of my personal creativity comes from the world around me. The moment I try to “get in the zone” and start getting creative is typically the moment where I feel the creative block. Exploring the world eyes wide open will give you the creative fodder you need.

10. Creativity is infinite.

Everything you see is a creation. Whether you believe in a master creator or in evolution, it is all still creation. I can go off on a tangent, but rather am going to provide you a relevant Steve Jobs quote:

Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact — everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. Shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just going to live in it vs. make your mark upon it. Once you learn that, you will never be the same again.

11. Use nature for inspiration.

Have you looked outside recently? The world is full of awe, from the smallest of insects to the endless expanse that is the universe. Everything about nature is beautiful. There’s no better inspiration.

12. It is a conscious decision.

Creativity takes work, time and energy. Being creative is a lifestyle choice.

Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try. — Dr. Seuss

13. Take notes all the time.

I document everything. I have notebooks and jot down ideas. I use Keynote to sketch out product visions. I use Google docs and have endless drafts for articles, books and all of my writings (published and trashed). I save websites I like, I mock up stuff all of the time and am constantly taking notes about everything.

14. F–k opinion.

Van Gogh, Thoreau and Edgar Allen Poe were all ahead of their time. Who’s to say you aren’t?

Create what you want, write what you want to read, build what you want to use, cook what you want to eat and share it with the world. If the world responds positively — cool. If not, who cares? At least you’re doing what you enjoy. Maybe the future will appreciate you, and maybe not. Learn how to be creative for you.

Author: Andrew Medal

This article was originally published on Entrepreneur.