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Guest post by Tiffany Rowe

If you’re a small business owner or startup entrepreneur, you may wonder whether you need an MBA in order to be successful – and if you even have time to get one. Wouldn’t going back to school mean abandoning your business? Can’t business owners succeed without a formal education in business?

While it’s true that some famous business leaders have succeeded without an MBA – or even, in some cases, a college degree – that’s the exception, not the rule. You may be able to learn what you need to know to keep your business afloat the hard way, through trial and error; then again, one of those trials could end up sinking your whole enterprise. Enrolling in an MBA gives you the chance to bolster your business knowledge without the difficult failures that may otherwise come with trying to figure things out on your own. And, thanks to online education, you can earn your degree and run your company at the same time.

Build Your Business Knowledge

You probably already have some basic business knowledge, especially if you’ve been running your business for a while. But chances are good there’s a lot you don’t know, or that you excel in some areas more than in others. Perhaps you’re good at marketing but not so great at formulating a sustainable growth strategy. Maybe you know a lot about finance and networking but not so much about building and maintaining an online presence.

Earning an MBA can give you a solid foundation of business and finance knowledge with which to nurture your business, and it can fill in the gaps in your knowledge. You’ll gain important insight into business skills like negotiation, leadership, evaluating job candidates, maintaining data security, and more. An MBA could give you the skills you need to take your business to the next level, attract better clients, and adhere to a long-term growth strategy. A business school education can also be helpful if you want to pivot your business to work out kinks in the plan and kick-start success.

Network, Network, Network

Networking is just as important for entrepreneurs as it is for non-entrepreneurs, but for business owners, finding mentorship and building a network of peers can be harder. Business school gives you the chance to build lasting friendships and mentorships with classmates and faculty. You might think that attending classes online would hamper your ability to build lasting friendships, but these days, plenty of people have online friends they’ve never met in person, but who are no less valuable to them for that.

MBA programs in general place a lot of emphasis on doing group work and honing communication skills, and online programs are no exception. You’ll still get plenty of chances to work and interact with classmates, and even with your professors. Students in online programs often interact more with classmates and professors because email threads, group chats, and discussion forums allow many people to be more forthcoming than they might be in person. And you’ll definitely get more one-on-one attention from the professor, since you’ll be using email, small group chats, and video conferencing to ask questions, clarify concepts, and hash out problems you might be having in your business. Some programs offer students the chance to meet classmates and professors at in-person residencies.

Choose an Online MBA Program

If you’re already running a business, a traditional MBA program is most likely out of the question for you – you’d have to abandon your business and quit working altogether to move to a new city and attend classes full-time for as long as two years. But online MBA programs are different. These programs are designed to meet the needs of busy working adults who have responsibilities – they have kids to support, mortgage payments to make, or a business to run. That’s why online MBAs have some flexibility built in, allowing students to go over material when their schedule allows and even take classes part-time. Many programs even waive GMAT and GRE requirements for applicants with real-world experience.

Build Study Time into Your Schedule

A flexible online MBA program means that you won’t have to drop everything to attend classes at a pre-ordained time of the day, but it does mean you’ll need to make the time commitment necessary to complete your coursework. Most programs allow students to take one or two classes at a time, so that they can still work, spend time with their families, and attend to other responsibilities. You may need to block off time each week to go over course material, complete assignments, and confer with classmates on group work.

Earning an MBA can be just what you need to correct the course of your business or take your company where you’ve always wanted it to go. Online MBA classes offer you the flexibility to take classes while staying at the helm of your company. Enroll today.

About the Author: Tiffany is a leader in marketing authority, she assists Seek Visibility and our clients in contributing resourceful content throughout the web. Tiffany prides herself in her ability to create and provide high quality content that audiences find valuable. She also enjoys connecting with other bloggers and collaborating for exclusive content in various niches. With many years of experience, Tiffany has found herself more passionate than ever to continue developing content and relationship across multiple platforms and audiences.

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It’s the end of the day and you’re feeling overwhelmed because you haven’t accomplished everything that you set out to do. Not to mention the fact that now there are more things to add to your “to do” list.

If you’ve ever had that experience then you know how frustrating it can be. Where did the time go?

Even though we all get the same 24 hours in a day, we might not be using that time as efficiently as we’d like. A friend of mine, who’s also an entrepreneur, says she’s only getting a couple of hours sleep a night because she’s trying to get everything done. It’s not unusual for her to go to bed at 5:00 am, only to have to get up again at 8:00 a.m. to start working again.

Though we can have good intentions when we start out, it’s so easy to get sidetracked with time wasters.

If you find yourself wondering why you’re not getting things done, it’s time to change how you’re managing your time.

Don’t answer every call as it comes in. Screen your calls and return the lower-priority calls at a later time. – This can be really difficult if you’re used to constantly checking your phone. But every conversation isn’t a priority. Have the conversations you need to have, then set a time to follow-up with your other communications.

Close your email program. Reading and replying to emails all day long is a major time stealer. – Choose two or three times during the day to check your mail. – Emails and texts can be non-stop if you allow them to be. As with calls, set up a time to check in with lower-priority issues. Even if you think you’re just going to send a quick text, you could end up spending much more time than you’d expected with the back-and-forth.

Keep a list of things to accomplish for the day and stick to it. – Set up your calendar, diary or a simple “to-do” list. Be realistic about what can be done. Over-promising on what you can do isn’t going to do anything but add more stress.

Take time for breaks in order to keep your energy level up. – Whether you meditate, exercise, walk, read, listen to podcasts, etc. you need time away from work. Entrepreneurs can end up spending hours and hours focused on getting things done. Don’t ignore your health and well-being. Take time for you.

Working for hours without clearing your mind will make you less productive. – When you’re tired and fatigued, you’ll have trouble making decisions and thinking clearly. When it’s time to stop for the day, don’t keep pushing. Can you delegate tasks? Think about ways to get things done without burning out.

If you work from home establish boundaries. Don’t get stuck on the phone with friends or family who feel that if you’re at home you’re not working. – For some people, home = not working. Be sure to emphasize that you are at work by setting boundaries and being firm with them.

If a potential client contacts you, arrange a time to meet. A consultation that you think will take 15 minutes could end up taking a large chunk of time out of your day. – Either set aside defined times for consultations or arrange them for specific times of day. Keep track of your time because it does have value.

Create systems to handle repetitive, day-to day tasks. – When you have a system for completing tasks you do all the time, you can be more efficient and get more done. Even better, a system makes a task easier to delegate because you have all the steps documented.

If you plan out your day and create systems to stay on track, you’ll be able to accomplish more. At the end of the day you can look back on all the things you’ve completed and not be frustrated by what’s been left undone.

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Guest post by Tiffany Rowe

As soon as a baby opens his or her eyes, they begin to learn, and never stop learning until they close their eyes for the final time. Human beings have reached such a prominent position in the animal kingdom thanks to our overwhelming ability to develop new skills and ideas and share them with others – in other words, thanks to education.

While you search high and low for ways to improve yourself to enhance your job prospects, in truth you need only consider the activity that brought humans out of the swamp. Personal development and growth requires learning – and I’ll prove it to you.

Learning as a Skill

Almost everyone can run. You can probably tie on some sneakers and go for a run right now. However, that doesn’t mean you have mastered the skill of running. It takes years of practice (and instruction) to become a true running athlete.

The same can be said of learning. Most of us learn every day: We pick up a fact or two from books, TV, podcasts, our friends, etc. However, few of us have maximized our ability to take in and utilize information; few of us have mastered the skill of learning.

Becoming proficient in learning is exceedingly valuable. First and foremost, being a learning wiz increases your ability to gain and enhance other skills. For example, through learning, you can increase your problem-solving skills, your decision-making skills, your intelligence, your empathy – not to mention hard skills like accounting, software programming, and others useful in entrepreneurship. Without skilled learning, few people can perceptively grow and improve.

Like any other ability, it takes time and practice to become a master of learning – but it also takes willingness and determination. Without a personal drive to learn, your improvements will be slow and laborious because you likely won’t be cultivating the right mindset and habits that make learning come easy. For you to get the most benefit from education, you must recognize that learning itself is a skill worth attaining.

Self-Confidence and Education

Several studies have found that education has a drastic impact on self-esteem – and vice versa. An insecure student who excels in her studies will likely thrive in her chosen career environment because she is well-equipped with the knowledge and skills she needs to perform her duties. Conversely, a student with unending self-confidence is more likely to tackle academic challenges and engage with instructors and peers, thereby heightening her learning opportunities.

Several studies have also found that courage and confidence are must-haves for entrepreneurs. If you are not naturally self-confident, you will likely gain the assuredness you need to succeed as a small business owner by engaging in education. You can double-down on your entrepreneurial skill-building by enrolling in an AACSB online MBA, which will build your confidence, your learning skills, and your familiarity with the responsibilities of business leaders.

Formal vs. Informal

Formal education is important; it has established structures that facilitate learning, especially as you are acquiring and practicing your learning skills. However, formal education is not your only opportunity to learn.

If you are well-skilled in learning, you should find opportunities for personal enrichment nearly everywhere you go. Every encounter with another person, every new experience offers new information and insights. The internet has radically altered the flow of knowledge; today, with a few mouse clicks, you can find all sorts of informal education opportunities in any field pertaining to your growing business – or not. As long as you stay in the habit of learning, your personal development will continue for the rest of your life.

Improve Yourself, Improve the World

It isn’t selfish to focus on improving yourself through education. The better you are at your job – the more knowledgeable, the more skilled – the better you can serve your community. By investing in the development of your own mind, you are more prepared to help others obtain the products and services they want and need.

Personal growth does not occur without some new insight, and insights occur more readily through interaction with those more knowledgeable and skilled – through education. Without education, prehistoric humans would hardly have ventured out of the caves. In the modern world, you cannot hope to succeed without learning.

About the Author: Tiffany is a leader in marketing authority, she assists Seek Visibility and our clients in contributing resourceful content throughout the web. Tiffany prides herself in her ability to create and provide high quality content that audiences find valuable. She also enjoys connecting with other bloggers and collaborating for exclusive content in various niches. With many years of experience, Tiffany has found herself more passionate than ever to continue developing content and relationship across multiple platforms and audiences.

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by Deborah A. Bailey

Recently I did a survey of the participants of one my workshops on how to start a podcast. I asked them if they were planning to write a book in the future. About 80% of the respondents said yes.

I’ve worked with people on their book proposals, and what I’ve found that aspiring authors are often not clear on what they’ll have do to get a book published. They may have an idea that’s based on their beliefs about book publishing, or what they’ve seen in movies or TV. As a writer I’ve been exposed to the publishing world for quite some time, and these are some important points I’ve learned along the way.

1. Get clear about why you want to write this book.

How is this going to help your business? If you want to write it because you’re imagining some very large and lucrative book contract – stop right there. Those large juicy contracts are not as common as you may think. Save yourself a lot of frustration and determine what your real reason for writing this book is before you begin.

2. Do your research.

If you want to go the traditional publisher route, then you’ll have to create a proposal and submit it to an agent (along with sample chapters). If you’re not familiar with book proposals do a search on Google and find out the format. A book proposal can be very daunting to write and it may make sense to hire someone with experience to assist you (or to prepare it).

Don’t skimp on getting it done properly. If it’s not, your book may be rejected before you get beyond the proposal stage. In your research you’ll have to analyze the market, study your competition and create a plan for your own marketing and promotion.

3. Create your platform.

If you haven’t heard this term before, it’s time to become familiar with it. Whether you self publish or get a contract with a traditional publisher, you will have to have a platform. What is a platform? It’s just like it sounds – a foundation of credibility that says you are an expert in what you’re writing about. Your platform should articles, blogs, other books you’ve published, videos, TV shows you’ve been on, credentials such as certifications and/or degrees – your accumulated experience and knowledge that says you’re qualified to write about this topic.

At a writing conference I recently attended, every agent mentioned that a writer must have a platform. If you don’t have one, start building one now.

4. Be ready to invest.

If you want your book to be a success then be ready to invest in, at the very least, editing, book cover design and a publicist. (If you self publish the publisher may offer those services.) I’ve spoken to writers who have dreams of publishing a book, yet they thought they could get a polished end result with very little investment. The truth is that you have to put time and money into your book if you want to have a professional product. If you aren’t prepared to do that, then perhaps publishing a book should wait until you can make that investment.

5. Be committed.

A book produced by a traditional publisher may not come out until 12-18 months after the contract is signed. (If you self publish the time frame will be shorter from writing to publishing.) In addition, if you’re going the traditional route you’ll have to find an agent first. The major publishers usually do not accept submissions directly from authors. You’ll have to be committed to your book and ready to do what it takes to bring your dream to life.

There are many people with dreams of publishing a book, but many of them have no idea what’s involved in the process. Do your research up front; find out what is required and prepare yourself to get your work published.

Copyright © 2018 Deborah A. Bailey

About the Author: Deborah A. Bailey is a writer, coach, author of several fiction and non-fiction books and creator and host of the Women Entrepreneurs Radio

This article originally appeared on the Secrets of Success blog.

Learn more about Deborah’s book coaching services for business owners. 

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If you’re an employee looking to make the move into doing your side-hustle full-time (or you’ve never had a business and want to start one) there are a few things to keep in mind. Planning is ideal. But there are cases where people have no choice but to go out on their own. Whatever your situation, here are some steps to think about as your make your move from employee to business owner.

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For the past two years I’ve shared Martin Luther King, Jr. quotes that have inspired me. You can see the post for 2017 here and for 2016 here.  Here are three more, plus one from Coretta Scott King.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Anytime that an argument can be made to withhold someone’s rights, that same argument can be made across the board for anyone else.

If you can dehumanize someone based on some arbitrary criteria, that same criteria can be used again and again.

I think that often people can’t see that because their own prejudices and fears prevent them from identifying with those who are being marginalized. Or they think siding with an oppressor will protect them. History has shown us that it won’t.

“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”

Being a bystander to cruelty does not absolve anyone. If you watch something go down and do nothing at all, that implies complicity. This doesn’t have to just be about larger issues of evil actions. It can also be as “simple” as being in an environment (family, friends, work, etc.) where there are cruel actions perpetrated against others. Silence = consent.

This can be difficult to accept for those who want to feel like they’re “good people” and yet, they are wiling to rationalize and explain away cruel acts.  No one is let anyone off the hook. There are no detached observers in this scenario. This leads a person to ask themselves, what am I willing to ignore? And can I still claim “moral high ground” if I turn away from actions that are reprehensible?

“Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge which is power; religion gives man wisdom which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals. They are complementary.”

Science and religion don’t have to be enemies. One is not a threat to the other. This is a refreshing outlook that is (unfortunately) not emphasized enough in the current climate. You can have belief in the unseen and belief in facts. Critical thinking (and perhaps a well-rounded worldview) can allow both things to exist.

Having a closed mind shuts down opportunities and closes you experiencing new things. There’s no need to fear other viewpoints. I think people who are always in fear are usually not secure about what they believe.  They find safety in small thinking and that’s not any way to be (particularly if you’re entrepreneurial). Growth can only happen if you’re willing to be open.

“Struggle is a never-ending process. Freedom is never really won. You earn it and win it in every generation.”

This may seem like a pessimistic quote. But it really isn’t. Every generation has its challenges. Anyone familiar with history knows that. Humans evolve and grow and with growth will always come challenges and battles and things to be overcome.

What the quote says to me is, never be complacent. Complacency is stagnation. Every new challenge must be met, and through that process we become more than we were before. Through challenges we evolve.

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Ready to make a change in your business? Instead of being stuck in trying to figure out how to do it – or what to do first – break it down into steps. Start with a vision for what you really want, then work from there.

This infographic is based on my book, Think Like an Entrepreneur. (Find out more about the book.)

Ready to make changes in your business, but not sure where to start? Join my newsletter list so that you’ll get updates on the launch of my online course for entrepreneurs. Join the list here: http://eepurl.com/cLDzbY

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I subscribe to a lot of email lists. In most cases, I’m subscribed because I want to see what that entrepreneur is selling and what information they’re sharing about their industry.

It’s also a good way to keep up with trends. You can always tell what the hot thing is when you see it referenced repeatedly: Facebook advertising,  webinars,  sales funnels, ‘bots,  podcasts,  Facebook Live, online courses, list-building, etc.

Let’s be honest, most of the things I’ve mentioned above are not new. For instance, I’ve had a podcast since 2008. Webinars have been going on for quite a while too. And of course, funnels and list-building are definitely not new.

There’s so much talk about the list, but not about the people on it. The relationship with your prospects is the real reason for building a list.

You want “warm leads” who will know, like and trust you. People who will tell others about you (word-of-mouth marketing).

On some Facebook groups, I’ve seen fiction authors talk about how they have 2000 subscribers, or 5000 or even 10,000. Okay, that’s great. But how many of them are engaged? How many are opening their emails on a regular basis?

Numbers don’t tell the entire story. Back in the day, people would get so excited when they had thousands of followers on Facebook and Twitter. Then people began to “unfollow” and “unfriend,” realizing that just following anyone (and being followed by anyone) isn’t always a good thing.

Your Money isn’t in the Email List – It’s in the Relationships

You’re building a relationship with your subscriber. That’s the reason you want them on your list. And it’s the reason they gave you their email address.

What I see far too often is non-stop selling with very little relating. It turns me off as a subscriber, and my next step is to click the unsubscribe link.

Here are 3 things consider if you’re building an email list.

1.Don’t be discouraged if people don’t sign up OR open your emails.

Keep in mind that most people selling list-building programs and systems are (usually) internet marketers. Email lists are the foundation of what they do. There are lots of “proven” systems to get you hundreds, if not thousands of followers. But which ones will actually work for you and your business? The person selling an online class about how to make money might get an entirely different result than the person building a list for her Etsy shop. Just because it works for the person selling you the solution, doesn’t mean it will work for you. Be willing to test different things and do keep track of what works for you.

It’s not cookie-cutter. Oh, and everyone on your list won’t open every email. They won’t click on every link. There will be unsubscribes whenever you send something out. You’ll be constantly adding subscribers and having them leave your list. It’s an ongoing process.

But if list building were really that easy,  everyone would have thousands of admiring subscribers opening every email and buying every product and service offered.

According to the stats I get on Mailchimp, the open rates for professional services are around 17%. When I started out several years ago, I was getting around 50% opens regularly. There are fewer emails being opened and read these days. That’s a fact. Email may be (statistically) the best way to reach your prospects, but you won’t consistently reach every single subscriber on your list.

2. Decide on your intention for your email list before you begin.

I send out a monthly newsletter to subscribers of my fiction email list. Usually I let them know what books are coming out, let them know what I’m up to and set up subscriber-only giveaways.

These are ways to build relationships and let them know they’re appreciated. By the way, if you are looking for ideas for what to say to your subscribers in your emails, check out Melissa Cassera’s Clicksanity class. (I’m not an affiliate and won’t receive compensation. I’m a student myself and I’m learning a lot so far.)

But I know fiction authors who don’t send anything out. Or they only do it when they have a new book coming out. There are no hard and fast rules!

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3. Don’t ignore the other ways that your prospects and fans are connecting with you.

Eight years ago I started Women Entrepreneurs Radio. Through it, I’ve networked with hundreds of people and increased my discoverability (check out “Discoverability: A WMG Writers Guide” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch for more details on what that is and how to get it).

Having my podcast has connected me to thousands of people and continues to market for me long after the show has been recorded.

Email marketers encourage business owners to have lists because social media isn’t something you can control. It’s hosted on someone else’s platform, and if the algorithm changes or the platform goes away, your followers/fans can disappear overnight.

But, if you have a following on a social media platform (or from any in-person activities and events) there’s a lot of value there as well. So, don’t ignore the connections (or the value) if the participants don’t join your list.

Marketing is constant tweaking and experimenting. There is no sure thing, if there were, we’d all be doing it! Don’t be afraid to follow what works for you.

About the Author: Deborah A. Bailey is a writer, coach, author of several fiction and non-fiction books and creator and host of the Women Entrepreneurs Radio™

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This article was originally posted on the Secrets of Success blog.

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by Brad Shorr

If you’re looking for a great way to connect with customers, build engagement and generate new business, email is an option worth considering.

On the plus side, everybody uses email, so you don’t miss big chunks of your target audience as you might with social media or even SEO.

On the negative side, because email is universally used, marketers overuse it — drowning recipients in overflowing inboxes. It’s hard to get noticed.

To succeed with email, here are five key ingredients.

1. Stay With It

Many email campaigns don’t fail, they end too quickly. If you’re not getting a lot of opens and conversions over the first several emails, stay with it. Many subscribers need a lot of convincing before they take a serious look at an email. A sustained effort signals your dedication, and eventually subscribers will take a look.

2. Have Something Useful to Say

Having a useful, relevant message naturally inspires subscribers to open and read your emails. What is it your customers really want to know? This is the question that should drive all email content. The best answers come from your customers. What questions do they commonly ask when investigating your products or services? What search terms are popular when people are looking for your products and services online? An online keyword checker tool is an easy way for email marketers to get topic ideas.

3. Stimulate Engagement

The purpose of an email is not simply to bombard recipients with information. Every email should have a conversion goal. Your desired conversion will vary depending on what you are trying to accomplish — which sounds simple enough, but is an area a lot of businesses approach haphazardly. To sharpen engagement, think along the following lines:

  • To generate an order, sales lead or an appointment booking, include a strong incentive, such as 25 percent off.
  • To obtain feedback, include a link to an online questionnaire. Even better, offer a small incentive to anyone who completes it.
  • To transfer knowledge, include a “learn more” response form so recipients can easily ask follow-up questions.
4. Test, Test and Test

Email marketing can be measured precisely. Smart companies take advantage of the data by conducting systematic tests to gradually — or sometimes rapidly — improve results. Among the most important items to test:

  • Subject lines
  • Headlines
  • Images
  • Offers
  • Prices
  • Timing (day of week and time of day)

Testing takes time, since you should test only one variable at a time. If you test multiple variables simultaneously, you won’t know which variable led to the different result.

5. Nurture the List

Effective testing and reaching a critical mass of conversions requires a large, qualified and accurate mailing list. Nurturing your list is an important job that needs ongoing attention. To build a better list, you should …

  • Keep all contact information up to date. People change jobs all the time, and business email addresses sometimes change — for instance, when a company is acquired.
  • Add contacts to the list systematically. Leads that come in from other sources — sales, customer service inquiries, other marketing campaigns, referrals, etc. — must be qualified, and added to the list when appropriate.
  • Promote your email online and offline. Put a “subscribe” button on your website, talk up your email at networking events or when making sales calls. Promote it on your social media accounts. Always give people good reasons for signing up. Thinking back to issue #2, having something useful to say, think now: What is the value proposition of my email?

Author Bio:

Brad Shorr is Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, an Internet marketing agency serving small and midsized companies.

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Not long after I left corporate, I became a tech writer contractor. With my IT experience, writing experience and my English degree, it made the most sense.

Then after taking coach training, I decided to try that. It seemed like the thing to do, and everyone I was following at the time was a business coach.

Unfortunately, I kept changing what I was doing to match whoever I was following. As you can imagine, that didn’t work out very well.

I didn’t have a clue about running a business, especially after being in corporate for most of my working life. I made a ton of mistakes and wasted tons of money following “experts.” Not that the gurus were intentionally misleading, but trying to fit into their business model never worked for me. But I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

So, after years of business experiences (and learning the hard way) this what I know for sure.

1. Building a business is hard work.

You will put in a lot of time, energy and money (or investors’ money). That means, if you’re looking for freedom, look elsewhere. Depending on what kind of business you’re running, you’ll be working on weekends, nights, holidays — at least in the beginning.

It’s up to you how you manage your time and build your business. BUT, if you’re looking to work a few hours a week and have your sales funnel or ‘bot do all the heavy lifting — think again.

You’ll have to understand sales and marketing and branding (among a lot of other things). Even though you might hate numbers, you need to come to grips with accounting, bookkeeping and taxes. Or at least know enough to hire the right people (or get the best tools) to help you do it.

It doesn’t matter how many books you read or webinars or live events you attend — the real learning will come from actually doing the things.

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” – Maya Angelou

2. Overnight success is bullshit.

You might not have heard of that person or brand until they hit it big, but they WERE working in the trenches the whole time. Believe that.

“Books are cool, but knowledge without mileage doesn’t mean anything to me.” – Henry Rollins

3. Origin stories are abbreviated.

I’ve read my share of stories that usually go like this: “I left my job/marriage/was fired/had a life event then there I was with $2.00 and I couldn’t even withdraw it from the bank.” Or “I was living in my car.” Or, on someone’s couch.

Then — fast-forward — “I hit it big and now effortlessly bring in 6 or 7 figures a year, a month or a week.”

I have nothing but respect for the person who worked their way out of a terrible situation. BUT, please tell me what you did from living in the box/car/shelter to getting your life back on track and making money.

That “in the meantime” part is always missing. Tell me that story. Inspire me with your journey so that I know that the dark night won’t last forever. You’re successful now, I get it. But don’t leave out the gritty parts.

“Doubt everything. Find your own light.” – Gautama Buddha

5. Show me the receipts.

I’m sure you’ve seen emails like this: “I made $100k last month using the proven steps that are included in my new online course.” That’s great and I’m happy for your success, BUT, I need to see receipts.

Not just your monthly income statements. Or your spreadsheet screen prints. Walk me through how you did your thing — how many hours? Did you outsource? If you blogged or wrote articles or whatever, how many did you do and what was your turnaround? What’s your rate range per hour or per project?

How many hours did you actually spend designing? Revising? Tweaking and testing? How many sales funnels did you create, test and trash before you found the one that worked for you?

You worked hard for the money — show me how you did it, THEN I can decide if it fits what I want to do. Don’t just tell me the ending of the story. Show me the journey so I can grasp the actual work that went into it.

“Success is most often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.” – Coco Chanel

6. Business is not predictable.

Having a business is not like having a predictable (at least if your company doesn’t lay you off) income from a job.

A product might do very well, or it might tank. You might have a great initial run, then sales fall off. By the time you get to market, the thing you created might be out of fashion. OR someone else got there first with something that makes your product obsolete.

You might have wild, wonderful success or your big idea might fizzle. It comes with the territory. Surveys might tell you people want your service, but when it launches, you only hear crickets. That’s how it is in business.

Anyone who promises you a sure thing, proven results, income that always increases, a predictable path of ease and endless vacations to luxury destinations is leaving something out.

The work that goes on behind the scenes — the machinery that runs to make it all look effortless — won’t run by itself. A.I. (artificial intelligence) is not going to do it for you. If you are the CEO, you are managing that machinery. You might not do all the work, but you had better know what’s going on.

“The two most beautiful words in the English language are ‘cheque enclosed.'” – Dorothy Parker

7. You have to know your worth.

How do you define success? Is it money? Is it love? Is it peace of mind? What is YOUR definition? Forget about what other people tell you it should be.

Are you afraid to charge what your products/services are worth? Are you reluctant to talk to people about what you sell? Are you afraid to risk rejection by putting yourself out there? It could be that the biggest block to your success, is you. Successful people have coaches and mentors. If that’s what you need, do it.

You’ll have to reinforce your self-worth before you can increase your net worth (this can be one of the hardest lessons to learn).

“Some things have to be believed to be seen.” – Madeleine L’Engle

The Business Reality

There’s nothing wrong with having big dreams. In fact, I think they’re essential. But don’t be distracted by the fluff and the airbrushed lifestyles.

Understand that your faves are working hard for the money. And they’ll have to continue to do so if they want to keep it coming in through all the changes and upheavals that happen in the real world.

Some of them might not be sharing the downturns, the doubts or the failures with you because they’re selling the end result. (And let’s face it, the end result looks hella good.)

When it comes to business ownership, there’s work involved. And there’s financial investment involved. And there’s commitment involved.

One of the blog contributors (and Women Entrepreneur Radio guests) the wonderful Imelda Arcilla wrote about evolving through entrepreneurship. It’s true. The entire process will push you out of your comfort zone and force you to grow and evolve. That’s really the best (and toughest) part.

Be willing to do what it takes and understand that there are no easy, effortless shortcuts to anyplace worth going. You’ll have to put in the work. But the reward can be everything you desire. As long as you’re honest with yourself about what it takes.

Copyright © 2017 Deborah A. Bailey

This post originally appeared on the Secrets of Success blog.

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