You Can’t Reap What You Don’t Sow

Every Friday, my daughter and I have our “Friday Family Movie Night” where we order pizza, pop some popcorn, and watch a new movie that we bought that week. Some of the movies that we have watched recently includes Wall-E, Aladdin, and Beauty & The Beast. The other week, we watched the movie The Lorax which is an adorable movie about greed and the environment. Towards the end of the movie, there was a song, “Let It Grow” which included this line:

You can’t reap what you don’t sow!

Normally, a random line from a song in a movie doesn’t usually catch my attention. However, I had a similar conversation earlier in the day that also had a similar subject.

Start Sowing

Over the years, I have met countless people looking to start or grow their businesses. Almost every person I’ve met has had a dream or goal of where they can see themselves. The issue is that a lot of these people spend so much time thinking about how they want things to be that they forget to actually start. The person I was speaking with earlier in the day before watching The Lorax was someone who had a great idea. The issue was that he was wasting a lot of time on thinking and not enough time on actually doing.

One of the biggest hurdles in accomplishing your dreams is actually starting. A recent study from Bentley University found that 66% of people wanted to start a business. 66% is a lot of people that are interested in starting businesses. However, Global Entrepreneurship Monitor reported that only 12% of people in the United States were involved with entrepreneurial activity in 2015.

66% of people want to start a business but only 12% actually do. What's stopping you from starting? Click To Tweet

Why is there a massive difference between people who want to start their own business and people who are actually running businesses? While there are many reasons that people give for not starting, a lot of the reasons can be summed up in the fear of the unknown. The issue is that you can’t achieve your dreams when you don’t event start.

What’s Stopping You

Naturally, there are good reasons to be hesitant in starting a new project or new business. What if something goes

Core Values Help Guide Your Team in the Right Direction

Like people, most businesses have certain ideas and views that they highly value. These core values are part of every decision and action you take in your business. If you value freedom from an office, you will grow your business in a way that is different than someone who values having teams working in an office with them. However, most founders and entrepreneurs never take the time to pull the values out of their mind and present them to their teams.

What are core values?

A while ago, I wrote about having a clear vision for your business. Creating your company values and explaining them to your team helps immensely in this process. By knowing exactly what the company values are, your team is more likely to make decisions and take actions in the ways that your business needs them to. For example, if one of your core values is “Have Fun” and it is regularly talked about, it is more likely that your team will evolve into embracing that value.

This also helps as you grow your team. You can use the company’s core values to find potential candidates that fit in with the company’s values to ensure that they are a good fit for your company and your company is a good fit for them. For example, if your company has a value of “Full Transparency” and you can tell that to your potential candidates for positions that you are hiring for, you may find people who feel that your company is not a good fit for their values. This helps identify culture conflicts before you even hire anyone.

Some examples of core values

So, what does some core values look like? One of Zappos’s core values is “Deliver WOW Through Service”. Some of your core values can be longer such as one of Whole Foods core values which is “Promoting the health of our stakeholders through healthy eating education”. Here are Aweber’s core values:

  1. Foster Respect and Cooperation.
  2. Listen to What People Say About Us. Invite Feedback.
  3. Learn. Educate. Innovate.
  4. Don

Clear vision is valuable to a growing business

There are many things you need to know when you are starting or growing your business. One thing that I feel is crucial to the success of your business is the vision that you have for it. Where do you see your business in a month? How about 3 months? A year? 5 years? Running a business is hard and sometimes you need to focus everything on getting through the day. Sometimes, you have to make many decisions quickly to satisfy your users and customers. However, you do need to take time to create your vision and reflect on it.

Why you need vision

Without an overall vision, how do you know if you are making the right decision for long term success? When making short term decisions and plans, it is easy to only focus on what you are currently working on. However, you can steer the business the wrong way if you are not making those plans and decisions while keeping the vision in mind. For example, what if

Why And How You Should Validate Your Business Ideas

There are many times that we come up with great product ideas or even new features. Then, we spend time and money to create them only to have no one want it or want to pay for it when we are ready to start selling our new product. Many people will tell you that you should validate your ideas. Why should we validate them? What if we want to validate the idea but we don’t know how to even begin? In this post, I am going to walk you through the why’s, the what’s, and the how’s so you can validate your ideas before wasting time and money.

Why Should You Validate Your Ideas?

There are a variety of reasons that you should validate your ideas before creating the product. If you are creating your product yourself, it could take you hundreds of hours to create the product. What if, after all those hours, you finish the product and no one wants to buy it? Or, maybe you hired someone to create the product. Now, you would have wasted thousands of dollars or more. Another benefit to validating your idea is that you can talk to potential customers and begin marketing your product before you even build it. When it comes to your product idea, there are three things that you should validate.

Validating The Market

The first thing that you need to do is to validate the market itself. Is there a market for this type of product? You want to make sure that there is not only a market but a market that can scale as well. If you only quickly validate your idea with a few potential users, you may not realize that there isn’t enough of a market to grow your product. Are there competitors in the market? Are they successful?

Validate The Problem

Once you ensure that there is a market and it can scale, you need to validate the problem that you are trying to solve. Is this an actual problem? Do other people have this problem? For example, if you dislike the way a social network handles displaying friend’s posts, you would want to make sure other people have those same dislikes as you before you create the new social network. Similarly, if you have a problem keeping track of time spent on projects and that current time-tracking tools are too complicated, then you want to make sure there are other people that also have that problem before proceeding with creating your product.

Validate That People Will Pay

The last thing that you must validate is that people will actually pay for your product. There may be people out there interested in your product. They may have the same exact problem as you think they do. However, if they do not want to pay for your product, it doesn’t matter. The best way to validate a product is to ask for a potential customer’s money. Knowing that you potential customer would be willing to pay for this product ensures that you will have customers willing to pay when the product launches. Not doing this final step could lead to a product launch that has people interested but not enough wanting to pay for it.

The best way to validate a product is to ask for a potential customer's money. Click To Tweet

Now that we know what we want to validate, how do we actually validate this? Where do we even begin. Follow the next 4 steps to validate your idea and get you going down the right path to a successful launch.

Step 1 – Look For Competitors

First, we want to validate that there is a market. To do this, we want to search for similar products to our ideas. A few places that you want to search includes Google, YouTube, iOS app store, and Google Play. If your product is inside of a niche like WordPress plugins or Drupal modules, then you would also look into niche repositories or marketplaces as well. You want to check to see if other people have already been able to successfully build products. If so, this proves that there is a market out there for these products. Try to reach out to the creators of existing products or creators of failed products. Check to see what may have been difficult for them. If you can’t find any similar products, it may mean that it is either a difficult problem to solve or that people aren’t willing to spend money to solve the problem. Don’t be discouraged at the findings of this step but keep in mind the results of your findings in the next few steps.

Step 2 – Talk To Potential Customers

Now that we have looked into the market, it is time to validate the problem that we want to solve. To do so, we need to go out and talk to actual people who would

Everyone Should Attend A WordCamp And Here’s Why

When it comes to WordPress, few events can have as much as an impact as a WordCamp. If you are unfamiliar with WordCamps, they are conferences built around WordPress. WordCamps are usually casual and are completely community created. All the organizers, speakers, and staff are volunteers. You usually have a great mixture of users ranging from a complete beginner to developers to business owners.

WordCamps usually have 2 or 3 tracks which means there are 2 or 3 talks happening at the same time. Most of them are over the weekend though some also have a Friday event as well. So, this usually adds up to 20 to 40 different talks that you can choose form to attend over the weekend. So, why should you go to them? I have 3 reasons why everyone that uses WordPress should attend WordCamps.

WordCamps Are Affordable

The entire staff of a WordCamps are volunteers. WordCamps are meant to be low cost and affordable to everyone. Since they do not pay any speakers or staff and they also have a variety of sponsors, most WordCamps cost less then $40 for the weekend. This tickets cost usually includes the admission to all the talks over the weekend, lunch, and some swag items such as a t-shirt and stickers. Sometimes, this ticket will also include admission into an after party with free food and drinks. Other times, the ticket may include a breakfast one day. At such an affordable price and such great content, they are accessible to everyone.

They Are Packed With Information

I had already mentioned there are quite a few talks happening during the course of the WordCamp. Some of the larger WordCamps could have over 50 possible talks, panels, and workshops for you to choose from. These topics can range from begginer topics such as learning how to organize your site’s content all the way to developer topics such as plugin development.

Should you grow your business?

Have you heard the phrase “If your business isn’t growing, it’s dying” before? You probably have heard it many times from many different people. The truth is that this is simply not true. You can effectively keep your business the same size if you want to. Think of the mom and pop shops that have been open for decades. Most are still a single location and offer the same products or services. Of course, their prices and strategies may change with the changing markets and economies but their size can remain the same if they choose to.

Reasons To Grow Your Business

Naturally, there are many reasons why you would want to grow your business. However, there are several reasons why you may also want to not grow your business. When you are considering growing your business, it is important to analyze the different pros and cons. Lets go over a few reasons why you may want to grow your business.

Increasing Financial Needs

As an owner of a business, you probably want financial freedom. However, it is completely natural to want to earn more money as time goes on. In order to pay yourself more, you will have to grow your business to

Why I Take Breaks And You Should Too

I previously spoke about managing your time in which I said to take breaks. A few people raised their eyebrow when reading that. When you have a million things on your to-do list with more being added throughout the day, the last thing you think you have time for is a break. However, there are actually reasons why taking a break on days like this are good for you. A study from University of Illinois shows that prolonged attention on a single task actually reduces performance. Professor Alejandro Lleras, who led the new study, said “Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task!” Several studies including this one suggest that by taking small breaks you can increase your productivity and focus.

Another article concludes that by taking a 30 second to 5 minute break, referred to as “Microbreaks”, can improve mental acuity by an average of 13%. The study also states that taking regular 2 minute breaks can increase productivity by an average of 11.15%. It turns out that taking breaks are essential for high productivity and energy.

So, when should you take a break? There are many different practices and techniques. Here are a few that you can try.

Breaks every 90 minutes

Tony Schwartz concluded that taking a break every 90 minutes is sufficient to keeping fresh and energized.  This is based on the ultradiun rhythm. This rhythm is a recurrent cycle which is present in both our sleeping and waking lives. This cycle usually has 90 minutes of high activety and 20 minutes of low activety. Therefore, the study suggests to take a 20 minute break after 90 minutes of concentrated work.

pomodoro technique breaks
Photo by lucamascaro

Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management technique from Francesco Cirillo. This method breaks down your time into chunks of 25 minutes of work that are separated by short breaks. This system is designed to help people learn to work with time and not against it. It is great to help avoid the “running on fumes” experiece that you would feel over worked. An easy timer for tracking this can be found at tomato-timer.com

17 minute breaks every 52 minutes

The Draugiem Group used a time-tracking app to study the habits of their most productive employees. They found that the most productive employees took, on average, a 17 minute break every 52 minutes. In fact, they found that the most productive don’t even work eight-hour days. They believe that the secret to highest productivity is working smarter with frequent breaks.

So, what should you do during your short break? Anything that is not what you are focused on. I use my quick breaks for checking in with social media, refilling my drink, and, most importantly, doing some stretches. However, your break could include everything from taking a walk to reading a chapter in a book.

6 Tips For Managing Your Time Better

Running a business is time consuming. Add taking care of the children, spending time with your spouse, shopping, house work, and all the other tasks you do during the week and you may start feeling like you don’t have enough time to do it all. We all have that feeling from time to time. What can we do to get more done?

The Challenge of Staying Motivated

Staying motivated to accomplish your goals is hard. There are difficult days. Heck, there are difficult weeks and even difficult months. Your team can miss a deadline, your product may not be taking off as fast as you would like, you could be having trouble balancing your personal life and work-life, and your computer can break. How can you continue to be motivated when, at times, nothing seems to be going right?

Some people say to write yourself a check for $1 million and tape it to your computer monitor but that isn’t going to make you feel better when you are having a rough month. In fact, that would make me feel worse thinking that I was failing at achieving my dream of writing that check. Instead, I have come up with a list of 6 smaller and more attainable ways of staying motivated.

Make a list of why you want to achieve your goals

Many people will tell you to make a list of your goals

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