Focus on Impact

“Focus on the impact you want to make. After that, success will follow.”

~ Lesley Reece

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Very often when we embark upon a new entrepreneurial pursuit, we are so filled with optimism and excitement about the anticipated success of the venture that we sometimes lose focus on the original purpose and the impact that we want to make. Unfortunately, in some cases, no thought is even given to making an impact, and the entire focus is just on how lucrative the venture could be.

In this article I am going to challenge to you start by focusing first, and foremost, on the impact you want to make. Do you want your venture to make life easier for a certain group of persons, either in a small or large way? Do you want to make a particular service or commodity more accessible to a certain group of individuals? Do you want to empower others to be able to function at a greater level in some area of their lives? Those are very broad questions, but ones which you can surely apply to whatever service or product you offer (or plan to offer) to help you determine the impact you are seeking to make…if you haven’t already done so.

Determining your intended impact, and keeping it at the forefront of your mind, helps to fuel your venture in the following ways:

  • It helps you to fine tune your innate talents which you intend to use in the development and execution of your business venture, as well as to help you discover areas in which you may need assistance.
  • It fuels the passion that should go along with the talents you possess. In any venture, business or otherwise, talent is useless without the passion to put that talent to use, and passion without talent is just as useless. Popular comedian and television host, Steve Harvey has often said that too many persons chase their passions, when really we should be aligning our passions with the talents we possess. You can view the clip here.
  • It serves as motivation, especially on the difficult days encountered by every entrepreneur at some point or the other. Those days when you question why you are even doing what you’re doing, and whether you should carry on.
  • It keeps you happy, especially on the difficult days mentioned above. Just thinking about the impact you intend to make, and the lives that will be made better as a result of something good that you are doing, should be enough to turn any frown upside down.
  • It gains you support. Not everyone has to know what your ultimate goals or intentions are for your business, but when you share the impact that you wish to make with key persons, chances are that they will be more willing to help you realize success. Just think, as a consumer you’re more likely to purchase the yogurt with the pink cover that promises to donate a few cents of your purchase to a charity, than the one that offers no such promise. People like to know that they’ve contributed in some small way to making a great thing happen.

It is important to know, and remember, that the impact that you are seeking to make may not be a direct outcome of the product or service you offer. For instance, your business may be offering financial management solutions, and while that alone will impact and help everyone who uses your services, the impact that you really want to make may be the result of you donating a portion of your profits to a specific charity, or even forming your own charity for which you are the sole, or major, benefactor.

So I challenge you to think about the impact that you want to make, make it your primary focus, and work towards making it a reality. The success will follow…that’s a promise.

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Never Too Late…

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“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” ~ George Elliott

Everywhere we turn, on practically every blog post, every social media platform, and via traditional media outlets, we are regaled with stories of young, brilliant entrepreneurs who have achieved the “next big thing.” And these youngsters seem to be getting younger and younger with every passing year. A decade, or so, ago, the young, brilliant innovators were in their 30s, at least. These days, we’re seeing stories of 20-somethings, and even some in their late teens who’ve already made their first million! Sometimes it makes me wonder what in the world I was doing when I was a teenager. Oh right… I remember now, I was doing “teenage stuff” interspersed with a bit of filling out college applications!

While I am thrilled that youngsters are putting their brains and talents to good use and getting a head-start on reaping the benefits of hard work, I worry about those of us approaching the second half of our thirties, or my peers who are well into their fourth and fifth decades. What exactly do I worry about? Discouragement. I can easily see how someone my age, or older, could feel as though their “prime” has long passed,  never to return. It is not to say that great strides aren’t being made by mature business persons, but the fact is that in this sensational world in which we live, the story about the 17 year old who made her first million selling an app she developed wins over the one about the 42 year old developer who just sold one for $3.7 million. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles, but don’t let your hopes, dreams and aspirations crumble along with it.

So here’s a little bit of inspiration to keep you motivated and fighting the good fight:

– James Sinegal founded Costco at age 47
– Gordon Bowker founded Starbucks at age 51
– Ray Kroc started Mcdonalds at 52
– Ferdinand Porsche founded Porsche at 56
– Charles Flint founded IBM at age 61
– Colonel Sanders founded the KFC franchise at 62.

Yes, we may live in a more technologically advanced age, but no matter the age you live in, there is always something “more” to be discovered, something “better” that can be developed, and something needed but not yet existing that can be invented. It’s just up to one brilliant mind, whether young, or not-so-young, to conceptualize it and see it to fruition. Challenge yourselves, stay motivated, harness your talents, mix in some passion and see your dream to reality.

Oh wait, I forgot one more founder:

– [Insert your name here] founded [your amazing business idea here] at [your age here]

What are you waiting for?

Originally posted on http://barbados.smartoffice.io/blog/never-too-late

To Sleep, or Not to Sleep…

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We all have read blogs and articles highlighting successful entrepreneurs, and we all have excitedly skimmed the paragraphs looking for their “secrets to success” and tidbits on how to make the most of the day. While it’s great to aspire to be like our more successful entrepreneurial counterparts, and while it’s perfectly okay to take some of their tips and tricks and see how we can best apply them to our own situations, there is one aspect that I boldly challenge: how much sleep does an entrepreneur need?

Over and over, I see young, up-and-coming entrepreneurs boasting about averaging 3 to 5 hours of sleep, per 24 hour period. I will unapologetically say to you and to them (if they’re reading this *hi!*) that is absolute madness.

There seems to be this idea floating around out there that you cannot expect to realize success if you clock 7 or (heaven-forbid!) 8 hours of sleep a night. My immediate response to that is two-fold:

1. What is your definition of success? Yours. Not the definition that you read on that Instagram meme last week.

2. “Work smarter, not harder” is one mantra that I absolutely try to live by, and I think it absolutely applies where getting adequate sleep is concerned. Indeed, working smarter should leave you with adequate hours of sleep each night, agreed?

Multiple medical sources will confirm the adverse effects which stem from a lack of sleep, namely moodiness, weight gain, lowered immune resistance, frequent illness, inability to cope with stress, sexual dysfunction and even early death. Essentially, sleep is a necessity, not a luxury. Here are some of the other negative changes you can expect to see when you don’t average 7 to 9 hours a night.

That brain fog you’re experiencing? That’s your brain cells napping! When you lack sleep, during periods of wakefulness your brain cells (called neurons) may randomly take “naps” and quit firing, causing you to experience lapses in attention, exhibit poor judgment, be more irritable and/or make more mistakes than when you are well rested; even if you don’t feel tired.

Lack of sleep prematurely ages your brain. Too little sleep can cause cognitive deficits that cause your brain to function at an age equivalent to 4 to 7 years older than your actual age. It also diminishes your reasoning skills…not a good trait for any budding entrepreneur.

Your decision-making becomes riskier (read: worse). The areas of the brain that are known to be linked to positive rewards are more active in sleep-deprived people; so they tend to be more deluded about decision-making abilities and expected outcomes of those decisions than well-rested people.

Think you’re doing well averaging 6 hours a night? Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, discovered that some people have a gene that enables them to do well on six hours of sleep a night. This gene, however, is very rare, appearing in less than 3% of the population. For the other 97% of us, six hours doesn’t come close to cutting it.

So? What’s so great about getting enough sleep?

Repair and rejuvenation of the body occurs during deep sleep. It’s not just about getting adequate hours of sleep, but you should aim for enough hours of deep sleep. Deep sleep is a time when the body repairs itself and builds up energy for the day ahead. It plays a major role in maintaining your health, stimulating growth and development, repairing muscles and tissues, and boosting your immune system. In order to wake up energized and refreshed, getting quality deep sleep is essential.

There’s some value to the term “sleep on it.” Better, more rational decisions are made by persons who sleep on their decisions, than by those who decide in the moment. The idea is that by sleeping on it, you allow your unconscious processes to take over and evaluate the issue.

Sleep solidifies memories. I learnt this while I was in university and used it to my advantage! Sleep boosts learning by consolidating memories as connections between brain cells responsible for memories are solidified, and useless memories or bits of information are pruned away.

Aim for natural sleep, and avoid using sleep aids such as benzodiazepines (e.g. Xanax) or non-benzodiazepines (e.g. Ambien). If a sleep aid is needed, a natural one such as melatonin, which is a sleep inducing hormone naturally produced by the body, is a safer, better option.

So, how many hours do you average a night?sleeping man