Category Archives: Entrepreneur Hacks

How to Develop Ideas Productively

The drive to keep things interesting is one core business strength which comes with the goal of providing value.

When you keep looking for new ways to re-tool old concepts and current ideas you keep your brain flexible, your attitudes keen and you keep apace with the changing tides. You can innovate, evolve and thrive. To do this you need to be open to ideas: in receiving them, in connecting them and in generating them. New ideas means new life for a business, and you have to keep them flowing to keep the business going.

The goal here is to produce ideas of real value. Brainstorming can capture a lot of ideas from out of the blue and squeeze them out under pressure, but you have to filter out the viable ones from the non-viable, then the practical from the impractical.

Now think in images with this next part: The general advice it to let ideas flow. Going with that in mind, if you have writer’s block, that means your fountain of creativity may have run dry of ideas, or is stopped up in some way, and the natural flow ideas has been blocked.

Mind-mapping is a wonderful way to jump-start stalled creativity. We are a visual race, and imagery is one of the best ways we can set our imagination running smoothly again. Leave the serious edit-writing afterwards when you want to summarize or clarify what you mind-mapped, but giving yourself permission to draw and use stimulating colors and mediums in the process can slip off the automatic censor that can keep our best ideas from coming to light.

The method here is a very personal disciplined freedom. Think of it as your personal code.

For example, you can use different colors to symbolize different ideas. Depending on what each color means to you, you can connect the colors to particular subjects in a way that is personal (green for money, for example, or orange for pending, purple for creative ideas, etc.) This helps tickle the neurons into making multiple connections. If music helps you think better, set up your playlist before you mind-map. Continue reading How to Develop Ideas Productively

3 Tips To A Better Business Mindset

As a business owner you aren’t given any guarantees by your market, your customers or your clients. Your business survives and thrives from the strength of the connections and the relationships you cultivate with your business partners, with your on-line community and with the people you work to supply solutions to.

In the unspoken social contracts of on-line business, expectations are set and managed. You market your product as being capable of doing certain things better than your competitors, or being able to supply exactly what your target market needs.

Then you have to deliver, and the processes involved in providing quality products and customer satisfaction requires you to do things often covered by cliches: tackling the roadblocks, doing the drudgework, ironing out the details and smoothing out the obstacles, making things presentable, etc.

You know, the small details and repetitive tasks involved in running a business.

 

As someone who owns and runs their own business, by this time you must’ve already experienced the gut-wrenching anxiety that comes with facing all the demands that your brainchild, your creation, generates.

In the years to come new technologies and their ensuing social impact will come that can change the way you do things, or eliminate the need for your product entirely. You need to be able to focus on your core competencies and practices that will help you adjust to and change with the times.

 

You head your own business. You report to no one but yourself. As an independent entity, your business has no guarantees except for the projects, contracts and commitments you have right now.

Compared to people who work in companies and spend their workweek in cubicles or offices, you do exercise and have a greater degree of freedom: your schedule each day isn’t handed to you from on high, and where you spend your labor and time isn’t controlled by corporate.

On the other hand, this also means you’re responsible for ensuring the business survives and that you make a living off of it for as long as you want to run with it. Your ever-renewing goal then, is to look for and develop ways to prepare to thrive in an uncertain future without a crystal ball at your side. Continue reading 3 Tips To A Better Business Mindset

A Guide To Making Friendly Documentation

A good friend is supportive. Non-judgmental. Helpful. They’re there when you need them. I don’t know about you but doesn’t this sound like the kind of thing that would very much apply to good documentation?

What does good documentation do anyway?

  • When new users get lost in the details of figuring out how an unfamiliar system works, leaving breadcrumbs can help them find their way back to the basics and walk them through it, slowly this time, and at their own pace.
  • Sharing helpful tips is one way we build a community on-line.
  • Showing lessons step by step helps people learn to trust themselves as their build their skills, and develop a sense of self-reliability and accomplishment.
  • Giving strong sources lets people do additional research on their own and strengthens your position as a generous source of reliable, trustworthy information.
  • Showing people the evolution of your products — in updates and build specs, or versioning data — helps them understand what changes have taken place and can assure them that errors and bugs have been addressed.

In short: good documentation shares helpful information. Continue reading A Guide To Making Friendly Documentation

Editing For Blogs And Business Management

 Edit – from the Latin edo, editus – “bring forth; bring about.”

When we say the word ‘edit’, the meaning is taken to suggest “taking away’ or ‘whittling down’, and that’s true when it comes to writing.

Editing in a blogging contexts means taking out the parts that don’t quite scan, refining the whole, and preparing the article so it will present a coherent, cohesive message.

But, adding the original meaning of ‘bringing (something) forth” , a slightly different angle reveals itself. Refining means removing the extraneous parts to reveal the essential structure beneath.

For instance, paring down an article to remove filler, awkward sentences and unrelated ideas helps make the core message clearer by bringing it out from under all that obscuring material.

Editing, in nearly all contexts, makes it easier to get a bead on things. Clutter –mental or physical –doesn’t get in the way of vision, and you can focus better on fewer items.

When life today seems to be on a perpetual treadmill chasing after just-this-one-more-thing-to-do-right-NOW, rendering things to their cleanest, simplest forms can help you find a sense of balance, control and even gratitude in your life.

Editing and blogging
Blogging is textual sharing, and as can happen with any kind of sharing, things can get in the way: irrelevant details, awkward sentence construction or run-on sentences, etc.

Editing is refining the message so you end with the best presentation you can have: the message exactly as you want to say it.

You present knowledge into linked concepts– specially crafted passages that act like bullets aimed right at eliminating problems, or resolving issues, or stating a particular call to action.

Editing as a practice leads to precision sniping, and leading away from a scatter-shot approach, helps get the message delivered every time. Continue reading Editing For Blogs And Business Management

Start As You Mean To Go On

Welcome back! It’s been a while, how are you doing? Good, not so good, so-so?

Maybe you’re edging towards being down in the dumps because you already slipped up with your resolutions. Perhaps you feel just a bit ragged around the edges from finalizing the little things that come after the end of a year… a little run-down chasing after the trickles of grunt work and red tape, and snipping loose threads threatening to snarl your work flow.

Frustration mounts. Resentment ignites. “This is a new year, it’s supposed to be different. It’s just the same old problems, popping up like weeds! It’s no use.” *gives up*

First, walk off the defeatist attitude. Don’t rag on yourself too, it’s already hard enough out there.

“I tried,” is a good start, but just leaving things there without any resumption of effort lessens it. “I tried, it didn’t work, so there,” doesn’t get anything done, either. Thinking like this cheats you. It also cheapens you. “I finished this today,” is better. It’s done. You did it. Tomorrow is another day.

When a decision sputters off in a ‘so there!‘ you need to understand that no one else but you will live in the aftermath of your none-efforts. When you honestly want things to change for yourself, you have to make sincere, sustained actions to change them. No one else will give a damn, they’ve got their own problems. And even if they care, caring won’t do things for you.

You have to walk towards your goal under your own power. Things don’t change by themselves. You have to get the ball rolling, and keep it in motion until it gets to where you want it to go. You just need to do it one day at a time. Just today. Continue reading Start As You Mean To Go On

Things Don’t Happen In A Vacuum: The New Year And You

27 December 2013, by A. Cedilla

Let’s start with a little visualization: Think of how movement in space influences other things sharing the same space.

A few of the most basic examples are: a circular ripple effect, from a pebble thrown into a pond, with rings moving out from the center. Ripples going downstream are affected by the condition of the stream bed and any rocks big enough to present interruptions to the flow. And for an absolute lovely visual representation of ripples in virtual space — complete with sound effects — go spend some time on Hatnote’s Listen To Wikipedia.

You act, work and live in a lattice-work of systems. Go back to those science classes and sociology lectures and remember all the various terms they used — kin groups, eco-systems, social networks, virtual communities. Think of your work environment and your work relationships. Think of where you live and your community relationship. Think, and connect-the-dots.

(Want to go wild with the visualization? Visit Hatnote’s other Wikipedia visualization projects.)

“The world is not in your books and maps. It’s out there.” – Gandalf The Grey, The Hobbit

If you’ve planned with a bit of daring, you’re going to go beyond what you know now, and you have a very good idea of what you want to happen next. That means you’re prepared to go beyond what you’re familiar with, and you’re okay with feeling lost at times, or completely out of your depth. The way it works is, information and inspiration can be found in books and maps, but the glory in true experience lies in going out and doing new things — which can have side effects of perspiration, vexation and indignation.

If you’re the nature-loving type and have a garden, or live close to nature, you’ll be familiar with the seasons and the effect they have on you and the environment. Think of living with your own garden. How do you prepare for and live with the seasons via your garden? Avid green-thumbs know that good gardens don’t sprout overnight. They need planning, good preparation, and consistent care so they can reach their full potential, whether it’s sweetly scented blooms, a riot of color, or food for your table.

Imagine a garden mentally…what do you want in it? What do you want from it? Continue reading Things Don’t Happen In A Vacuum: The New Year And You

Getting Ready for Next Year: Mapping Your Course

20 December 2013, by A. Cedilla

Have you written down your plans for next year?

Having a plan in mind is better than having no plan at all.

Even better is writing it down — doing that sets your mind free; you’re free to work things out and play with how the different factors and players could work together for the best outcome, and free to aim for the best results while planning back-ups (just in case things fall through at certain weak points). If you have a good idea of what you want and need to make happen in 2014, write it down. You need a map to navigate next year. And by ‘map’ I don’t mean a to-do list. Those are relatives, the close cousins of what I’m talking about.

By ‘map’ I really mean goals. With no goals and no direction, your chances of influencing events to your favor go down, and you’ll likely get what you’re getting now. Are you truly okay with what you have now?

Things won’t change on their own. Situations may develop differently, but if you don’t actively take charge to protect your own interests and make the change, if you don’t act to change the situation you’re in, it won’t happen.

In connection with last week’s article and your plans for a whole new year, drawing up a map means getting your bearing and your direction. ‘Bearing’ is where you are in relation to something else. In travel terms, this means knowing where you are, and marking that down as a starting point. As in a place to start from. Getting your bearing gives you Point A. Direction is where you want to be at the end of the process.

You decide the points B,C, D, etc. from there until you hit your intended goal, which is a better place for you– that may or may not include improved Points A, B,C, D, etc. — or a better situation for you still at Point A. It’s your map, it’s your choice. Continue reading Getting Ready for Next Year: Mapping Your Course

Planning The Year Ahead: Use Good Questions to Get Good Results

13 December 2013, by A. Cedilla

One way to getting good results is, oddly enough, to ask good questions. You can easily start off with the simplest ones: the answers to what, why, when, how and where bridges the gap between good intentions and actual results.

Try to remember what your New Year’s resolutions were from last year. Did any of them make it, and if they did, how did you go about it?

  • What were the things that you aimed for? How many did you get?
  • Why did you choose those things? Towards what end did getting these things change your life? What aspects of your life were they concerned with? (i.e financial, physical, educational, relationships, self-improvement, etc.)
  • When did you want them, time-wise? How realistically did you allot time towards each goal, and what did your estimates show you about yourself?
  • How was the experience like? How did you keep going until you made it? What resources and support did you use or get?
  • Where are you in your life now with these things? How did you measure the improvement before and after you attained your goals? How much did it make a difference for you? Are you willing to do it again with the new skills you’ve learned for next year?

Seeing what you did this year, what about next year? What new way of scaring yourself are you willing to try so you can push yourself past old boundaries and the limits of what you think you can do? Continue reading Planning The Year Ahead: Use Good Questions to Get Good Results

Too Much Tech? Ask Yourself These Questions To Control Technorrhea

06 December 2013, by A. Cedilla

Think about the communication structure in your life. To start off, how many devices do you use?

For the basics, a phone and a computer are all you need. Some smartphones can already act as a mini office-station for email and files. Laptops can go anywhere with you, and desktops can provide more options, like more processing power and being able to use 2-3 monitors at once.

And what about hybrids and entertainment devices? How about tablets, phablets, and readers? And music players and dedicated cameras? Take a moment to check just how many tech tools you own.

How do you manage all the tech you use? How do you manage the data you access? Lay it out:

  • How many platforms are present? How do you access data across platforms–just the cloud? How secure are your connections?
  • What systems do you use in storing and syncing data, and backing up the important bits? What about security?
  • How systematic are you in attending to your communication –in reading, responding and viewing? How much time do you spend?
  • How about maintaining the hardware: protecting it from surges, damage, dust, scratches and whatnot? What’s your update schedule?

 

The deeper issues here are easy to overlook because of the technical details and personal preferences involved. Keeping things separate for business or personal use can be messy as well –imagine the hours we do something other than what we intended to do*cough-Skyrim-cough* but in the end, when it comes to your devices:

  • Do they help make work easier?
  • Do they make you work more effectively?
  • Do they make more work for you?

Continue reading Too Much Tech? Ask Yourself These Questions To Control Technorrhea

Looking Back While Planning Forward

10 July 2013, by A. Cedilla

It’s been quite a while since the start of the year — heck, even the start of the second quarter– so it’s definitely about time to take a few steps back, set aside a few hours or an afternoon, and see how you’re really doing, and perhaps getting some pen and paper handy for catching ideas.

So…what’s up? Have you accomplished significant changes in your life at this point? Paid off debts, got certified, made more contacts in the industry, got your blood pressure down, or fulfilled a significant personal goal?

Take a look at what you’ve been doing for the past half-year. In the daily rush it’s often difficult to pay attention to the direction things are going unless we take time to step back and assess the bigger picture. We need time to pass before we can get enough data-points, or tally up enough events, or get enough real-life information on which to make an accurate, contextually-based assessment of what’s going on.

(And you do this how?) Continue reading Looking Back While Planning Forward