Past COREageous Entrepreneur Blog Posts
When resources are scarce and VC money is tight, your idea for a new venture had better be “innovative.” But what does that mean? My conversations with mentors and serial entrepreneurs revealed that an “innovative idea” is subjective and depends on several factors:...
To get work done, done well and on time you need to create a “closed system” or situation where you completely shut out distractions and focus your attention on the right things for a set period of time. An “open system,” in contrast, is a situation where you are open...
Elise W. writes: I was invited to showcase my digital artwork to an org that could fund my startup. The first thing that came to my mind was: Who do they think I am? People want to pay for my work, but I feel like a pretender because I never finished art school. If...
Rick T. from Chicago wrote: In my startup I have five team members plus myself. Three of them meet their targets every week outperforming the other two. It creates conflict that’s affecting morale. They’re all talented and good people, but there’s a change I have to...
Having a tough time making a new habit? Don’t freak out. Instead, STREAK OUT! I needed to add a short, but very beneficial segment to my daily workouts. For this segment of exercises to be effective, I had to start making it a habit. I use a paper calendar to track my...
New founders often find themselves awash in a sea of concerns: revenue growth, hiring, firing, funding, family responsibilities, and lots more all at once. It feels like a murky mess. During the course of a day these concerns swirl around in your head while new tasks get added to the mix. Overwhelmed and at a standstill, you’re exhausted, and the clock keeps ticking.
Here’s a solution:
I’m a big fan of time blocking/boxing as a visual way to plan your week. “Compartmentalizing” takes time blocking one step further. It is a process of separating conflicting concerns into different mental “compartments” to manage them separately. This is a helpful coping strategy for getting concerns out of your head and on paper. Compartmentalizing concerns is helpful to your mental well-being, particularly in situations where emotions or worry take hold.
Each area of concern can be a compartment. For example, let’s take “funding your enterprise” as a compartment. Compartmentalizing involves breaking down the larger issue of securing funding into smaller, more manageable components. Carve out a block of time in your calendar for each component:
- Clearly defining the amount of funding required and the specific purposes for which the funds will be used.
Example: Break down the funding needs into categories such as product development, marketing, and operational costs. This will provide a clearer picture of where the funds will be allocated.
- Research different funding sources and methods available to startups.
Example: Divide this task into exploring traditional funding options (e.g., venture capital, loans) and alternative methods (crowdfunding, accelerators). This helps in understanding the pros and cons of each option.
- Build a Pitch Deck:
Example: Break down the pitch deck creation into sections such as problem statement, solution, market opportunity, financial projections, and team introduction. This makes the process more manageable and ensures each aspect is well thought out.
- Focus on building relationships with potential investors.
Example: Divide this task into smaller activities like attending networking events, reaching out to mentors, and participating in industry conferences. Each activity contributes to building a network that could eventually lead to funding opportunities.
- Develop a detailed financial plan.
Example: Break down financial planning into creating a budget, forecasting revenue, and outlining key financial metrics. This allows you to focus on one aspect at a time, ensuring a comprehensive and well-thought-out financial strategy.
By breaking down a compartment into smaller, manageable components and assigning specific times to address them you can make progress on multiple compartments in a more organized and efficient way.
Need one-on-one help compartmentalizing? Contact me at Rebecca@MIndfulCommunication.com. Visit www.MindfulCommunication.com.
Happy Thanksgiving to all! I’m kicking off the holiday season with a topic we can all relate to. Could better business decision-making make a more successful 2023-24 for you?
My client, RJ, sorely needed to hire an administrative assistant (AA). He decided to take charge of this task on his own.
Two weeks later, RJ reached out for help having made no progress. “What got in the way?” I asked.
His response included a host of the usual culprits ─ the tendencies that conspire for many of us when making important decisions. They included:
- Overthinking. RJ was conflicted. He spent his time collecting online articles about what makes a good AA, how to manage an AA or how to manage himself instead.
- Fear. He discovered several articles about AAs who stole an employer’s money and resources. The potential costs of detectives, lawyers and court time further stunted progress.
- Avoidance. In addition to the above, as an introvert, he dreaded the hassles of interviewing so many people and wasting time on poor candidates.
- Perfectionist tendencies. His expectations were a bit too lofty for the money he was willing to spend on an AA.
- Poor sleep. RJ often stayed up well past midnight trying to be his own AA. Consequently, after several weeks of too little sleep, he was irritable and more indecisive than usual.
4 Step Business Decision Making Process
Therefore, we created a basic 4 step business decision-making process that he could adapt for future decision-making. Together, we:
- gathered the essential facts. As the research suggests, when making decisions ─ less data is more.
- narrowed down the job description to a short list of absolutes: duties, specific qualifications, experience, salary requirements, in-person vs. remote, etc. This would save interview time.
- discussed the short-term and long-term advantages for making a “good” versus a “perfect” decision and why to make it soon. RJ had many projects coming up and was becoming increasingly disorganized with current tasks.
- got the process out of his head and down on paper. We drew a pros and cons table for the interviews. We listed the absolutes in the column on the left and spaces for the applicants’ names across the top. We left a few rows open for bonus features a candidate may offer such as “willing to work on weekends” or “does errands.”
RJ agreed to post the job immediately, knowing that he could amend the description if needed.
The happy ending: By the end of the week, RJ had spoken to five candidates who met the very specific job description. In a manner of minutes, the table made it easy to narrow it down to two applicants who were the best fit for the job. Knowing how another decision could lead to overthinking, RJ gave way to his gut instincts and made his choice.
Some business decisions are easier or more difficult to make than RJ’s. Nevertheless, getting the process down on paper reduces the emotional and cognitive overload resulting in faster and more efficient decision-making.
I am grateful for your queries and your requests for solutions to the perplexing executive functioning problems many founders face. Send them to me at Rebecca@MindfulCommunication.com. Watch for solutions in future blog posts. Visit my website at www.MindfulCommunication.com
Attributed to Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the U.S., this quote is one to ponder. As we get closer to the holidays, we tend to reflect and compare our accomplishments over the last year with other people. Folks around the dinner table will be asking if you’ve broke even yet, while they rave about their kid who sold her company to Google following her engagement to an investment banker. We may see an old school chum driving their Maserati down Main Street with some hot date in the passenger seat.
There are dozens of other ways where “comparison” can devolve to “envy.” When we compare ourselves to others, we can’t assume that what we see is an ideal picture. For example, your chum in the Maserati Ghibli could be parading around because he doesn’t want observers or his girlfriend to know that his business is on the skids. You may discover that your family friend’s daughter with the windfall of cash and a rich fiancé is in therapy twice a week to manage her severe OCD. Talk to just about anyone who has more luck or accomplished a lot more than you, and you’ll find their “baggage” to be similar and often weightier than yours.
Envy is a delusion. I credit the author and psychologist, Jordan Peterson, with his way of shifting our thinking away from envy to “comparing ourselves to ourselves.” He insists we look at the actions we have taken toward our goals. For example, if you have become just 1% more knowledgeable, more efficient, or more productive each month for the last 11 months, that’s approximately 12.68% better than last year at this time. (This calculation is based on the concept of compound interest, where the growth each month is not just additive but also compounds on the previous month’s growth.)
According to Peterson, and I paraphrase — neurophysiologically and neuropharmacologically, we know that the core of joy and positive emotion is observation of progress toward a desirable goal. Shift your focus from self-delusion to self-comparison. It’s kinder, measurable and better for your well-being.
Want to accrue more “compound interest” in your personal growth each month? Contact me at Rebecca@MindfulCommunication.com. Learn about my CoreCoaching method at www.MindfulCommunication.com.
Hello COREageous readers!
I apologize for my silence in the last couple of months ─ lots of end-of-summer visitors and a short vacation of my own. The good news is that despite my blogging lapse, there are many new subscribers and new CoreCoachees!
There’s more good news, as the photo indicates. I’ve been diligently working on my next book: The COREageous Entrepreneur: The Four Core Skills and Routines Every Founder Needs to Succeed. I’ve been working at it for a few years now, accumulating evidence and testing out my thesis.
My aim in writing this book (and this blog) is to reduce the startup failure rate, which, depending on the industry, is approximately 80%! With about 5 million founders starting up businesses in the U.S. every year. That failure rate is unacceptable and avoidable, based on my research and experience.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- 20-50% of startups fail within the first year.
- 50-70% of startups fail by the fifth year.
- Only about 30% of startups succeed by the tenth year.
Certainly, there are external factors a founder cannot control: economic conditions, industry changes, funding availability and pandemics. Conversely, the internal factors that contribute to startup failure include: mental health conditions, ineffective communication skills, lack of focus, failure to execute, poor leadership and dysfunctional teams. These factors are within a founder’s control ─ they are skill-based.
There is preventative and practical work a founder can do to reduce the risk of failure in a smart, affordable and timely way. I’ll report more details (including a webinar!) as I take next steps towards publication.
I’m back to posting, so Stay COREageous and send your questions, comments and conundrums my way! Rebecca@MindfulCommunication.com. Visit my website at MindfulCommunication.com.
If you read Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book FLOW, you may recall an exercise where he gave pagers to participants and instructed them to record their feelings and activities whenever the pager went off randomly throughout the day. The participants were asked to note down what they were doing, how they were feeling, and their overall sense of enjoyment and engagement in the activity.
I suggest this exercise for my clients with clear task deadlines who are challenged by distraction. I advise them to set random alarms when they need to get some serious work done.
Once they have a plan for the task, they set 4 random alarms to go off during a 3-4 hour period of work time. The objective is to not be caught off task when the alarm goes off. If you do get caught watching the news when the alarm goes off, then it’s a reminder to re-direct you back to the task.
You are competing with yourself to be on task each and every time that alarm sounds. You can also set an alarm for every 20 or 30 minutes during that 3-4 hour work period. How much quality work can you complete in a 20 or 30 minute span of time?
You can create a random alarm experience on both iPhone and Android phones. Here’s how you can do it on each platform: iPhone:
- Open the Clock app on your iPhone.
- Tap on the “Alarm” tab at the bottom of the screen.
- Tap on the “+” button to create a new alarm.
- Set the desired time for the alarm by scrolling through the hours and minutes.
- Tap on “Repeat” to configure the repeat settings.
- Select “Custom” from the repeat options.
- Tap on the days of the week to enable or disable them as per your preference.
- Set multiple alarms with different times and repeat patterns to create a random alarm effect.
- Open the Clock app on your Android phone. The exact app name and location may vary depending on the device manufacturer and Android version.
- Tap on the “Alarms” or “Clock” tab, usually located at the bottom of the screen.
- Tap on the “+” or “Add” button to create a new alarm.
- Set the desired time for the alarm.
- Look for the option to set the repeat pattern (e.g., daily, weekdays, weekends).
- If your device has a “Custom” or “Advanced” option for repeat settings, select that.
- Adjust the days or intervals to create a random alarm effect by enabling or disabling the desired days.
If you want more spicy ways to get things done, done well and on time, visit my website at MindfulCommunication.com.