While many employees spend their free time daydreaming of becoming financially independent, the entrepreneur is working to make the dream a reality. That is why entrepreneurs are risk-takers by nature.

Entrepreneurs are willing to take that all-important first step of breaking free from the chains of the 9-to-5 grind and take command of their of their own destiny. Instead of driving someone else’s business, they go behind the wheel and follow the course they have charted for their own business success.

Yet, sometimes these very same attributes – ambition, drive, and dedication – can become an entrepreneur’s own worst enemies.

They end up taking on too many tasks most of which are administrative in nature. As a result, a big chunk of their waking hours are spent – rather, wasted – attending to functions that have no direct contribution to their bottom line.

The workday becomes unproductive. The essential tasks or the core functions of the business are left unattended. Goals are not met. Business targets become farther away today compared to yesterday.

By taking on non-essential tasks, the entrepreneur ends up working for his/her business instead of on his/her business. Ironically, the entrepreneur has become an employee of his/her own business.

Is there a way or a process the entrepreneur can use so he/she can focus on the main functions of the business without overlooking the administrative tasks?

The Solution: Outsource Tasks And/Or Services!

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Would you rather spend 2 hours filtering your Inbox or working on a client’s project?
  • Would you like it if your phone keeps ringing every 30 minutes while you are working on your client’s project?
  • Would it be okay with you if the Internet provider cut its service because you unwittingly forgot to pay the latest invoice?

If you answered “No” to these questions, it is time for you to consider outsourcing tasks of your business.

Outsourcing is the process of delegating or transferring predetermined tasks or functions to a third-party service provider.

You can read more about the benefits of outsourcing in our article “How Outsourcing Tasks Can Save You Tons Of Money – And Build Your Business”. In the article, we presented an accounting of how much money you can save through outsourcing.

Essentially, outsourcing is the ideal strategy for entrepreneurs, especially those in the start-up stage, because it is a low-cost, high-value solution. From the article, you will come to understand that with outsourcing, costs are easily managed.

Outsourcing will present you with options that you can use to stretch your finances without compromising the quality of goods and services.

FTE Vs. Outsourced Talent: Which Is The Better Option?

Cost savings are possible because you are taking advantage of comparative advantages that are generated by outsourcing foremost of which is labor.

With outsourcing, you are not hiring full-time employees or FTEs. Instead, you are contracting the services of qualified people or agencies. This distinction between FTE and contracted services is very important!

Let’s compare the FTE and the outsourced talent:

Particulars:FTE:Outsourced Talent:
Rate/Hour (Minimum)$18$8
Work Hours/Day8Flexible
Work Days/Week5 to 6Flexible
Paid Benefits:YesNo
Total Cost:$27/hour$8

As you can see, flexibility is the key differentiator between an outsourced talent and an FTE. When you contract services, you are not obligated by law to pay a minimum wage or designate the mandated work hours per week.

This makes it possible to be more financially flexible with the outsourced talent compared to hiring an FTE.

Here are some real-world examples:

  • Contract the services of a virtual assistant who can manage your administrative tasks 10 hours a week.
  • Outsource content writing services and pay the outsourced talent on a per word or per productive hour basis.
  • Outsource web development/management services to Mountaintop Web Design and pay fixed charges on a monthly basis.

By agreeing on the conditions for payment, you are assured of higher productivity and better quality of work.

According to a study that was presented by productivity coach Steve Pavlina, the average American office worker only puts in 90 minutes of productive work every day.

That is 90 minutes out of 480 total work minutes every day or a productivity rating of only 19%! Yet, America remains the strongest economy in the world.

What happened to the remaining 390 minutes? According to Pavlina, those hours are spent surfing the Internet, taking extended water cooler/coffee breaks,  napping, checking their cell phones, and reading the news.

Guess what? Those hours are paid. This means every time an FTE chit-chats with a another FTE about the latest Netflix movie, you are paying for those minutes.

By outsourcing, you are also increasing your level of productivity because now you can place greater focus on the main enterprise of your business.

A study presented by the Harvard Business Review showed that at most, people can only maintain 100% focus on a given task for 90 minutes. After completing the task, you have to rest the mind for at least 10 minutes.

Assuming an 8-hour work schedule, this means that by outsourcing tasks, you can target 4 to 5 tasks to accomplish every day. That is 360 minutes out of 480 minutes per day or a productivity rating of 75%!

In contrast, a fully-paid FTE who can tender only 90 minutes of productive time per day will possibly only accomplish 1 task per day.

Which Tasks Should You Outsource?

Hopefully, at this point, we have convinced you of how outsourcing can build your business. The question we will answer in this section is which tasks you should outsource.

In the future, we will present a more detailed and comprehensive article on how to take a strategic approach to outsourcing that can scale up your business. For now, we will show you how to identify the tasks that you should outsource in order to streamline costs and increase productivity.

You will need to answer these questions:

  • Which tasks are non-essential or not directly related to my business’ main enterprise?
  • Which tasks will require a higher level of expertise and greater experience?
  • Which tasks are repetitive in nature?
  • Which tasks do I have the tendency to overlook or forget?
  • Which tasks do I greatly dislike doing?

From there, you will probably come up with the same or similar tasks that we have outlined below:

1. Administrative Tasks

For many entrepreneurs, administrative tasks are the necessary evils of running a business. These tasks are categorized as non-essentials, meaning they are not directly related to your business’ main enterprise. However, they play an essential role because administrative tasks keep your business organized and running.

Examples of administrative tasks that you should outsource:

  • E-mail Filtering
  • Calendar Management
  • Appointment Setting
  • Phone Handling
  • Preparing Reports
  • Limited Research
  • Database or CRM Management
  • Bookings and Reservations
  • Preparation of Limited Communication

2. Technical/Specialized Skills

Your business may need to introduce new products and services that require greater skill, a higher level of expertise, and longer tenure. These are skills that you cannot become proficient at simply by watching YouTube videos or reading a “For Dummies” instructional. Otherwise, the quality of work will suffer.

Examples of technical/specialized skills that you should outsource:

  • Website Design/Management
  • Digital Marketing
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Search Engine Marketing
  • Content Writing
  • Graphic Design
  • Software App Development
  • Transcription Services
Learn more about the website services we off

3. Customer Support Services

Many businesses stunt their growth because they are only focused on new market development. In so doing, they neglect their current market base or end users of their products or services.

Don’t forget your current end users. They are already your customers. The cost of maintaining them is lower than creating new markets for your products and services. And the returns are much higher because your current end users already made the decision to choose you over the competition.

Having great customer service assures your existing end users that their needs and concerns are always met and addressed right away.

Examples of Customer Support Services that you should outsource:

  • Inbound Phone Support
  • Technical Support Services
  • Email Support
  • After-Sales Surveys or Outbound Call Support
  • Chat Support
  • Content Moderation Services

4. Back-Office Functions

It’s called the back-office because the people who work here are not seen but otherwise play a valuable role in running your business. You can outsource these tasks to qualified third-party service providers and still get great results.

Examples of back-office functions that you should outsource:

  • General Accounting
  • Payroll Preparation
  • Employee Benefits Administration
  • Human Resources Management – Recruitment, interviews, testing, evaluation, and selection

Conclusion

To better understand the value of outsourcing, let’s delve into the mind of the entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurs or to be more specific, small to medium scale business owners, are limited by their resources. Even the most successful ones do not have the benefit of liquidity compared to large scale businesses. This is, of course, part of the growth process.

As a small business owner, the immediate challenge is to maintain liquidity before achieving profitability. Effective cash flow management is very important. Thus, an entrepreneur strives to keep operations as lean as possible.

Instead of hiring employees to help him/her run the show, they take on most, if not all of the tasks of the business.

Ask any entrepreneur and they will tell there is nothing they can’t do. Like a superhero, an entrepreneur will take on any challenge and believe they can win it. The reality is, victories are only short-term.

Over the long-run, the number of unproductive workdays has accumulated to a point that the business starts to suffer.

Your best option is to outsource specific tasks or functions. Not only will outsourcing services greatly reduce the costs of running a business but the strategy will help you increase productivity without compromising the quality of work.

If you enjoyed this article and know people who would greatly benefit from it, please feel free to share!

And if you would like to know how Mountaintop can help you get started on your own outsourcing solution, please do not hesitate to give us a call. You can consult with us for 30 minutes free of charge.

desktop with coffee cup - learn more about website design

As we head toward the finish line in 2018, small businesses have begun the process of closing their books. Across the U.S, small business owners and decision-makers are preparing their year-end business review to assess their performance for the last 365 days. Once the books have been closed, all thoughts begin to turn toward 2019.

Why Small Businesses Are The New Engines Of Economic Growth

In 2009, the U.S. economy was in a freefall. Nearly 8 million jobs were lost from 2007 to 2009. The stock market lost trillions of dollars in wealth. People not only lost their jobs, but they also lost their homes. The once-mighty U.S. automotive industry was reeling from the effects of the global recession.

Then-U.S. President Barack Obama called upon the small business owner to help stimulate growth in the economy.

Obama referred to the small business sector as “the backbone of the American economy” and introduced a stimulus package from two American Reinvestment and Recovery Acts that pumped in nearly US$1 Trillion to help budding entrepreneurs cope with the recession.

Politics aside, it should be of no surprise why Obama viewed the small business sector with such high regard.

In 2016, the US Small Business Administration (USSBA) reported that there were 5.6 Million employer firms. Of these businesses, 99.7% had fewer than 500 employees. These firms are classified as “small business” and in 2016, small businesses helped generate more than 1.1 million new jobs.

Small businesses increase aggregate demand and spending which help stimulate growth in the economy. If the economy is strong, more jobs are created and made available to the labor force.

That is why the small business sector is the new engine of economic growth.

The 7 Biggest Challenges Facing US Small Businesses In 2019

In comparison to big businesses, small business owners are more vulnerable to adverse changes in the economy. For the reason that they operate with tighter budgets and have smaller profit margins, the success of a small business is more sensitive to factors that affect cost and consumer behavior.

The failure rate of small businesses is quite high. According to the USSBA, 50% of US small businesses fail within the first 5 years and only 25% make it past 15 years. There are a number of reasons why small businesses don’t succeed. Among them are as follows:

  • Lack of Money Management Skills
  • Poor Business Planning
  • Rigid Business Modeling
  • Lack of Marketing and Promotional Activities
  • Expanding Too Soon

In view of these factors, the key to achieving success in 2019 is enhanced foresight. Thus, you should anticipate the conditions, situations, and events that could have an effect on your business performance so you could be prepared to address them in 2019.

We don’t have a crystal ball or a time machine at Mountaintop. However, we have met and have had interesting – often lively – discussions with our clients. Our talks centered on what 2019 could possibly hold for small business owners.

Here are 7 of the biggest challenges facing US small businesses in 2019:

1. Rising Interest Rates

When starting a business, you need money to capitalize your operations and for working capital for at least 6 months. How will you fund your business? Where will you get the money to keep your business afloat?

Among the options available for small businesses include bootstrapping, getting partners, securing funding from sources like Angel Investors or Kickstarter. The most utilized avenue is to get a business loan from the bank.

Rising interest rates will affect the cash flow of the small business owner. You could probably negotiate an arrangement where payments for the principal amount would only come in during the second year.

However, if the performance of your business does not improve significantly, the increased cost of amortization will become a bigger burden on your cash flow. Rising interest rates will also affect small business owners who accumulated credit card debt in order to fund their business needs.

The US Federal Reserve increased its benchmark rate from 2% to 2.25% last September. Fed Chairman Jay Powell is not concerned about the rate increase because the rates are still relatively low and should not discourage small business owners from seeking bank loans.

The Fed is eyeing 3 interest rate increases in 2019 and one more in 2020.

2. Hiring the Right People

Whether you are looking to hire 5 or 500, finding the right people to help you run your small business can be tough.

The keyword in the preceding statement is “right”. You want to hire people who are “right-fit” for your business. This means people who are aligned with your own values, embrace your purpose, and therefore, subscribe to your vision.

Finding right-fit people has less to do with their technical and fundamental competencies and more with their behavioral attributes. When we speak about “attributes”, we are referring to soft skills. These are the personality traits that make an individual a perfect fit for your organizational culture.

In fact, more companies are placing greater emphasis on soft skills rather than technical or hard skills.

Would you prefer to hire someone with the highest job recommendations and achievements but is socially disruptive to your organization or someone with modest accomplishments but is willing to learn and stay dedicated to the fulfillment of your business objectives?

People who share your values, purpose, and vision are potential leaders that can be developed within your organization. They will help your business navigate through the toughest economic periods.

3. Healthcare Costs

Healthcare costs are the problem of small businesses that have more than 50 employees because the law mandates them to provide adequate healthcare benefits.

The Commonwealth Fund which studies the healthcare systems of countries around the world has ranked the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Australia as having the best coverage.

In its most recent study, the Commonwealth Fund has ranked the United States’ healthcare system as the worst performing even though America spends the most.

In 2016 alone, more than 27 million Americans did not have insurance coverage because they either could not afford it, live in a state that would not expand Medicaid coverage, or were undocumented.

Healthcare costs are also being driven up by rising administrative expenses. There is just too much bureaucracy in the US healthcare system. Doctors are spending so much time reconciling claims with insurance companies.

Unfortunately, it does not seem that healthcare for Americans is going to get better as we head toward 2019.

The Trump administration appears to be more motivated to discredit Obamacare than finding ways to improve it. As a result, healthcare has become a political issue that has polarized many of the federal states.

want to know more about web design

4. Increasing Revenue

As the popular saying in business goes, “If you want to make more money, you have to be willing to spend more money.”

For the reason that they have tighter budgets and limited access to capital, increasing revenue is a bigger challenge for small businesses compared to large businesses.

Small businesses need capital to fund new products and services; run digital and traditional marketing programs, finance expansion projects such as the opening of additional branches or outlets, and to improve infrastructure.

It is difficult for small businesses to become more aggressive in their business development programs without access to more capital. Unfortunately, most banks and lending institutions are stricter with small businesses than large businesses.

5. Aligning Business Practices with Changing Customer Behavior

According to a report published by Gartner entitled, “Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2019”, businesses need to factor in changing consumer behavior in their development plans for 2019.

The Gartner study revealed that consumers who are part of the Millennials and Generation Z demographic will be influential in the coming year. These groups tend to patronize businesses that have a conscience for society as well as the environment.

Similarly, Millenials and Gen Z’ers will distance themselves from businesses they perceive as not having corporate governance; values, ethics, and practices that contribute to worsening social and environmental issues.

The findings of the Gartner report are supported by a separate study conducted by Deloitte entitled “The 2018 MIllennial Survey”.

The Internet and social media have given consumers the platform to be seen and heard. Small business owners have an advantage that large businesses do not have.

When a business transitions from small-scale to large-scale, it also creates a more decentralized structure. The owners drift further and further away from their customers as these tasks are left to managers who are hired to handle customer service.

As a small business owner, try to stay more involved and engaged with your customers. Make yourself more accessible through social media, your blogs, and of course, your website.

By staying active and involved with your customers, you will be able to give your business a personality the market can trust and identify with.

6. Improving Profitability

Earlier we discussed the challenge for small businesses to increase revenues in 2019. Revenue is just one part of the profitability equation. The other variable is cost.

For a small business to remain profitable in 2019, it should not only focus on increasing revenues. Likewise, it should find ways to streamline costs. In times of economic uncertainty, companies will cut costs in order to remain profitable.

Even if sales are increasing, margins can be compromised if the costs of production are increasing.

A proven way of streamlining costs without compromising the quality of production is outsourcing. This is the process whereby select tasks and responsibilities are delegated to a qualified third party.

For example, instead of setting up an in-house Digital Marketing team whereby you have to hire a certified Digital Marketer, content writers, graphic designer, web designer, SEO specialist, and social media marketer, why not outsource Digital Marketing to a qualified third party like Mountaintop Web Design?

We have a team of experienced and expert web designers, programmers, digital marketers, SEO specialists, graphic designers, and content writers who can run your online campaigns.

With an in-house Digital Marketing team, you will have monthly recurring expenses such as salaries, benefits, rent, office supplies, and Internet services. By outsourcing the service to us, you will only pay for actual services rendered.

By outsourcing services, you can lower your operating costs by as much as 80%! Other responsibilities that are popularly outsourced are accounting, customer service, IT, and telemarketing.

7. Improving Data Security

The threat of being hacked and infiltrated by cyber-criminals is an everyday reality. These cyber-criminals have been enjoying a windfall in the last 2 years. For the reason that the hacking business has remained profitable, you should expect cyber-criminal activity to become even more aggressive in 2019.

Thus, small businesses should consider investing more in cyber-security measures. You should find ways to fortify your website and ensure the protection and integrity of business data.

Here are 5 important statistics on cyber-attacks that all small business owners should be aware of:

  • Small business owners are the target of 43% of cyber-attacks.
  • Your business might close down 6 months after a cyber-attack.
  • During the period from May 2015 to May 2016, 55% of respondents in a small business survey report having experienced a cyber-attack.
  • 58% of respondents claim they are concerned about a cyber-attack in the future but 51% have no plans of allocating a budget for cyber-security.
  • Only 38% of small business owners regularly update software programs.

If you own a WordPress website, you should consider signing up for our Extreme WordPress care programs. These are customized sets of repair and maintenance packages that have been put together by our web development team.

We will take care of your website for you while you go ahead with your day’s regular schedule. You can go to sleep knowing that your website is in good hands and protected against threats posed by cyber-criminals.

Conclusion

Regardless of how your business performed in 2018, the New Year will always bring forward a great feeling of anticipation. Even though 1 January 2019 is just another day in the life of the business, as far as the books are concerned, it is a new chapter.

The New Year brings in hope; a promise for a better year and the anticipation of new challenges for businesses but particularly for small and medium-scale enterprises.

If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to share it with your friends. And if you have other ideas on the challenges that small businesses will face in 2019, kindly share in the comments section below.

Most importantly, please share your proposed solutions!

desktop with coffee cup - learn more about website design

Whether you believe leaders are born or made, one thing is very clear. Leadership is a skill. Like all skills, you must continually work on it in order to become a better and more proficient leader. You need tools to help you stay sharp. These tools are resources with the necessary information that will further your development as a leader.  

If you observe the work habits and ethics of the most iconic leaders in business and politics, they make learning a part of their daily routine. They take time during the day to read books, references, and online articles to broaden their knowledge on subjects that will help them grow as leaders in their respective industries.

Much has been said about the importance of finding the best talent in the market. Companies want to hire people with the highest educational attainment, the most tenure, or those with the longest list of accolades and achievements.

A lot of the emphasis has been on the hard skills or the measurable qualities that are specific to the job. However, a shift toward soft skills or the behavioral attributes that define the individual’s approach to the job has been noticeable in the last five years.

According to a survey conducted by Bloomberg in 2015 which involved 1,320 recruiters from 600 companies, showed that more employers have been putting greater emphasis on soft skills.

Leadership skills are one of the most after attributes of employers along with strategic- thinking and creative problem-solving.

Definition of Leadership

Google the phrase, “What is Leadership” and you will get several definitions of the term. The definitions are phrased differently but essentially mean the same thing and share common words:

  • Ability – Connotes that leadership is a skill; you have to work on it in order to develop the ability to lead your organization.
  • Lead – Root word; a leader is one who takes charge, goes to the forefront of the direction he/she has charted for the organization.
  • Others – Refers to people; your employees, teammates or subordinates.
  • Achieve – A leader is focused on achieving a stated goal.
  • Common Goal – The achievement of the goal is shared by the leader with his/her people.
  • Take Risks – A leader takes risks because he/she knows that is part of the decision-making process.
  • Accountable – Once the decision is made, the leader accepts accountability for the end result. The leader does this so that alternative courses of action are made in the event the desired result is not achieved.
  • Decision-Making – A leader believes that “If you are not moving forward, you are moving backward”. Decisions have to be made on a day-to-day basis. Some will be risky and some will not be popular. However, decisions have to be made nonetheless.

From these keywords, we can arrive at our own definition of leadership:

Leadership is the ability to lead others and achieve a common goal by taking risks and accepting accountability for all decisions that have been made.

The Best Resources For Self-Directed Leadership Development

In a global economy, the demand for good leaders has become greater. Business conditions have become more unpredictable and ambiguous. Companies need people who are willing to step forward and make the hard decisions.

Leaders are able to make these hard decisions because they have the ability to foresee change before it happens. Therefore, they can implement revisions to the strategy that will allow them to accommodate or adapt to changes in business conditions.

How will you develop these abilities to foresee change and come up with immediate solutions?

Experience is the best teacher. However, you should also learn from the experiences of others. We have come up with a list of the best resources that you can use for leadership development.

I. Books

1. “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” by John Maxwell

This book was written in 1998 by highly-respected and world-acclaimed leadership development expert, John Maxwell. According to Maxwell, there are 21 laws to attaining effective leadership and that these laws should never be broken regardless of the situation. Among these laws are:

  • The Law of the Lid
  • The Law of Influence
  • The Law of Process
  • The Law of Navigation
  • The Law of Addition

The book continues to inspire other people to become better leaders in their respective industries.

Christian businessman John Faulkner cited the book as his inspiration for starting the business publication, “Two Ten”. NBA basketball player Harrison Barnes credited the book for his improvement as a professional sports personality.

Curious about websites - learn more about the website services we offer

2. “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Steven Covey

First published in 1989, this book remains Steven Covey’s most popular work to date. It introduced the world to the idea of a “paradigm shift” whereby perspectives cause 2 people to see the same thing and yet arrive at different conclusions.

A chapter is dedicated to each of the 7 habits Covey identifies as key attributes people should develop in order to achieve desired results. To date, the book has sold more than 25 million copies.

3. “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale

Dr. Norman Vincent Peale published this book in 1952. Dr. Peale was a strong advocate of positive thinking. In his book, he cites case histories which prove that adopting a positive attitude and view on life can bring better and more sustainable results.

Dr. Peale gives recommendations on how to develop positive thinking. These techniques include frequent positive affirmations and powerful visualization of positive thoughts.

4. “Winning” by Jack Welch

Jack Welch was an American businessman who is better known as the long-time Chairman and CEO of General Motors. Welch ran GM from 1981 to 2001. During Welch’s term, the value of GM rose by a staggering 4,000%!

In the book, Welch gives his 8 rules on becoming a better leader for your organization.

Welch’s 8 rules heavily focus on the importance of firm decision-making and of developing your team; getting them more involved in accomplishing projects. Similar to Dr. Peale, Welch is an advocate of positive thought and an optimistic attitude.

Warren Buffett, founder of Berkshire Hathaway, called “Winning”, the best book on management he has ever read.

5. “Good to Great” by Jim Collins

Jim Collins is an author and staunch advocate of sustainable business practices. First published in 2001, “Good to Great” chronicles the experiences of companies that transitioned from being “good to great” by developing the organization’s culture, finding right-fit talent, and embracing the advantages of technology.

The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council called “Good to Great” one of the best management books every executive should take the time to read.

II. Blogs

1. John Maxwell

John Maxwell’s blog features work by other noted leadership experts as well. Maxwell’s blogs cover a wide range of topics other than leadership. He also touches on the latest developments in business, personal growth, performance, and the value of service to society and the community.

2. Michael Hyatt

Michael Hyatt is a well-known author and proponent of effective leadership. He was the former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers. His blog page is packed with rich content and tackles issues on personal development, gaining self-confidence, and gives valuable tips on improving business performance.

3. Mark Sanborn

Mark Sanborn is the founder of a leadership development company, Sanborn & Associates. He is the bestselling author of the book, “The Fred Factor: How Passion In Your Work and Life Can Turn the Ordinary into the Extraordinary”.

Sanborn’s blogs are very insightful and comprehensive. He sheds light on the perspectives of others in your value chain particularly your employees.

4. Jesse Lyn Stoner

Jesse Lyn Stoner is the founder of Seapoint Center. This is an organization composed of leadership experts dedicated to helping companies develop the natural talents and abilities of their people. Her blog page covers a wide range of topics such as communication, leadership habits, and managing remote employees effectively.

5. Scott Eblin

Scott Eblin is the founder of a leadership development company called The Eblin Group. His blog page will give you great advice on how to nurture and develop your innate leadership abilities. After going through Eblin’s content, no doubt, his advice came from years of experience working with some of the biggest and most successful businesses.

Conclusion

What about today’s leaders in business? Which books gave them inspiration for the successes that they have become today?

Here is a short list of successful people and the books that inspired them to achieve greatness:

  1. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon – “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies” by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras.
  2. Michael Bloomberg, Founder of Bloomberg LP – “The Innovator’s Dilemma” by Clayton M. Christiansen.
  3. Myron Ullman, CEO of J.C. Penny – “Transparency – How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor” by Warren Bennis, Daniel Goleman, and James O’Toole.
  4. Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks – “The Gospel of Wealth” by Andrew Carnegie.
  5. Hector Ruiz, CEO of Advanced Nanotechnology Solutions – “Good to Great” by Jim Collins.
  6. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos – “Tribal Leadership – Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization” by Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright.
  7. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook – “The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses” by Eric Reis.
  8. Jeff Bewkes, CEO of Time Warner – “Competitive Strategy” by Michael Porter.

Always keep in mind that you have it in you to become a great and effective leader. It is just a matter of identifying these qualities and learning how to nurture them to their fullest.

Reading these published works and taking the time each day to learn all about leadership will go a long way in helping you realize your capabilities and abilities as a leader for your organization.

We have also written a few articles on leadership. These are as follows:

And of course, this one.

We believe leadership is a very important quality to develop whether you are a business owner or a top-level executive. Leaders can become effective managers but not all managers can become effective leaders.

Why? The answer has to do with a leader’s ability to make decisions. There are managers who rose to the ranks because of their performance in their previous position. However, the ability to make the tough decisions requires more than just technical and fundamental competencies.

Leaders understand that not everyone will agree on the decision they make but they pull the trigger nonetheless simply because the company has to keep moving. Leaders know they cannot please everyone so they always focus on what is good for the entire organization.

How about you? Do you have a few favorite books on leadership that you want to share? You may want to make your own list in the comments section provided below.

the journey to success is similar to climbing a mountain

Communication is one of the most important areas of business. Missed correspondences can often lead to missed opportunities. A slow response time may also leave an unfavorable impression on your level of professionalism. This is why reading and responding to emails are part of our daily routine. In the digital age, email has become the primary medium of communication.

However, as important as email is, it can severely impact your productivity. According to a study by McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), people spend 28% of their time during the workweek managing emails. In a standard 48- hour workweek, that is 13 hours or 2 hours per workday spent on the Inbox.

What can you do in 2 hours?

Let’s reference the study on “The Ultradian Rhythm” which disclosed that our brains can focus on a task for no more than 90 minutes to 120 minutes before requiring a 20 to 30- minute break or rest period. This means, 2 hours can give you enough time to accomplish one, and even possibly, two essential tasks.

7 Ways You Can Make Time Spent With Email More Productive

Despite email’s implications on business, it remains first and foremost, an administrative task. In other words, a non-essential task. If you spend too much time managing non-essential tasks, your day will become non-productive.

Is there a way to manage email effectively that it does not compromise your level of productivity?

Not just a way. How about 7 ways?

1. Create Different Email Accounts

The Inbox of your business email can be flooded with hundreds of messages on a given day. However, which of these messages are relevant to your business? How many messages are in response to a current need or concern?

If you took the time to filter through them, you may find out that a significant majority are not relevant to your business.

Some may be correspondences from family, friends, or are simply marketing content. Worse, you may come across a good number of suspicious email.

Creating different email accounts is an effective strategy for improving productivity.

First, you will have to establish the purpose of each email account. For example, in addition to your business email, create one that will be the destination point of correspondences from friends, family, and associates who are not connected to your business.

You may also consider creating emails for specific areas of your business. For example, [email protected] would be used for recruitment. Another one would be [email protected] for those who want to learn more about your products and services.

Lastly, be more judicious when giving out your business email address. Do not give your primary email out when signing up for newsletters. You can create another one such as [email protected]

2. Customize the Settings of Your Email According to Preferences

How proficient are you with the features of your email client? They have features that allow you to customize its settings according to your personal preferences. You can program your email client to move, organize, sort, and flag the messages in the Inbox.

You can also create specific lists for your email. For example, you can inform the email client of contacts that should be prioritized. Likewise, you can let the email client know of addresses and contacts you want to be blocked. In your “blacklist”, you should include people who are notorious for spamming activities.

There are email clients that enable you to create filters so you can sort out your Inbox automatically. This will save you the time in scrutinizing which emails to attend to first.

Another approach is to create specific folders to categorize and store the email you receive. For example, if you are managing multiple clients, you can create a folder for each of them.

When you receive an email, briefly scan the content then transfer it to the designated folder. It will be easier to find the email and go over it thoroughly when you finally have the time.

Curious about websites - learn more about the website services we offer

3. Include Email Filtering as a Break Time Activity

In our article, “Top 7 Tips For Productivity”, we included a section on the use of focus blocks. A focus block is a period of time that has been dedicated to the accomplishment of a specific task.

It is based on the Ultradian Rhythm theory, whereby you should set aside 90 to 120 minutes of 100%, uninterrupted focus on the accomplishment of the task. Once the task has been completed, you should “reward” yourself with a 20 to 30 minute rest period or break time.

You can use the break time to eat, take a nap, or attend to any non-essential task. It would be a good idea to use the 20 to 30 minute break time to filter your Inbox. This way, email management will not intrude upon the time that has been set aside for productive activity.

Let’s assume that in an 8- hour workday, you have established a total of four 90- minute focus blocks. By using the 20- minute break time windows to check email, then total time spent managing the inbox would only be 80 minutes or 1 hour and 20 minutes.

If we reference the MGI study which showed people spend 2 hours per day checking email, then by using focus blocks, you can save 40 minutes per day. You can use the time savings to attend to other tasks.

It will not matter if you allocate the 40 minutes to non-essential tasks as the time saved came from your rest periods, not from productive hours.

4. Shut Off All Email Notifications

Notifications are great reminders but they can be a distraction when they pop up frequently. Not only will the email notification briefly take your mind off the task you are working on, but it may compel you to check and issue an immediate response.

Don’t just shut off email notifications on your PC desktop. Include your mobile phone too. While you’re at it, turn off all notifications coming from your other applications that are often. These apps normally include Skype, Slack, and Viber.

Like we discussed in the previous section, it would be more productive to read your emails during your 20-minute break time. You can also use your break time to check on your messages from the other apps.

5. Maximize Mobile

If you are one of the 80% of people who open their mobile phones first thing in the morning even before brushing their teeth, put the habit into good use by checking your email right away.

Mobile phones make it easier and faster to access your Inbox. Why is this so important? A study by Roy Baumeister revealed that your ability to make rational decisions declines throughout the day. Your capacity to process information may be at its strongest early in the morning.

What does this mean if you think you are not a “morning person”?

You don’t have to respond to an email right away. However, reading it first thing in the morning may allow you to process it more effectively because your mental faculties are still opening up.

Perhaps you will be in a better frame of mind to compose the appropriate response after 2 cups of your favorite coffee!

Another way you can use mobile to maximize productivity is to catch up on your emails while you are commuting to work. Spend your time at the train, the bus, or in the taxi going over your email. You can use the commute to categorize messages, send out reminders or quick responses, and to clear out your Inbox.

6. Don’t Read It?… Unsubscribe!

We have all subscribed to newsletters. For some time, we found the content relevant and useful in our business. However, its relevance could diminish over the years. Eventually, these newsletters will just accumulate and continually flood our Inbox with unwanted content.

If you have subscribed to content that you no longer read, then there is no more valid reason to grant the sender access to your Inbox. The best recourse is to unsubscribe to their mailing list.

If you have not been able to track all the newsletters you have subscribed to, use an app called unroll.me. This app will give you a summary of all the services you have subscribed to. You will have the option to unsubscribe from each service or to put all of them under one message.

7. Keep Your Responses Short and Concise

Email remains one of the most popular forms of communication because you can send quick messages in real time. When crafting a response or original content, it is good practice to keep its length short and concise.

Like you, the recipient of your email may also be facing the challenge of filtering out his/her Inbox. The recipient may have his/her own set of practices that allow email checking to become part of a productive day. Chances are, the recipient of your email will not have the time to go through a long email.

Is there an ideal length for an email? Yes, there is actual research which determined the ideal length of an email that gets the highest response rate from its recipient. According to the study, emails that have a word count of 75 words to 100 words received the highest response rate at 51%. The response rate at 50 words and 125 words is identical at 50%. However, there is a noticeable drop in the response rates when the word count was lower than 50 and greater than 125. What does 100 words look like? This paragraph is 100 words long!

Conclusion

Email is an inescapable reality of everyday life. You will rarely find a day where your Inbox has been zeroed out. For some people, clearing out the Inbox is like a game. They have to be able to clean out their messages at the end of the day.

This is why email presents a conundrum. It is a necessity; email is an important component of a business. Yet, it is also one of the leading causes of stress in the workplace!

A study conducted by Professor Tom Jackson from Loughborough University revealed that 92% of people get stressed out after receiving and reading an email in the workplace.

Thus, it would be advisable to spend as little time filtering email as possible. Another option would be to outsource email management to a qualified third-party service provider.

Bestselling author and productivity advocate, Tim Ferris, found his moment of clarity when he hired virtual assistants to manage his email and other non-essential tasks.

How about you? Do have you have any productivity tips on email management that we did not take up? Kindly share in the comments section below.

desktop with coffee cup - learn more about website design

Are you working on your business? Or are you working for your business? If you are spending more time pushing pencils than acting on tasks that add to your bottom-line, then you are working more like an employee than an owner of a business. Yes, we have to check our emails, manage our weekly calendar, and take phone calls. However, as important as these functions are, attending to them does not constitute productivity.

Productivity is associated with effective time management. How you allocate time to manage the tasks you need to accomplish every day will lead to greater productivity. While this is correct. it is not entirely the case. Productivity is also about efficient time management.

We have been conditioned to think that we should work eight hours a day. If you can efficiently manage the time you need to become productive, you won’t have to work eight hours a day.

When it comes to productivity, it is never about quantity. Quality should always be your primary focus.

It is not the number of tasks you accomplished but the type of tasks you finished that matter. It’s not the number of hours you spend working per day but how you spent those hours that count.

If you are not sure of how to attain this, take the time to read our top 7 tips to becoming more productive.

1. Outsource Non-Essential Tasks

The first step to productivity starts with identifying the non-essential tasks from the essential tasks. Non-essential tasks are functions that do not directly contribute to business growth. These tasks can be categorized as follows:

  • Administrative – Email filtering, appointment setting, calendar management, and phone handling.
  • Specialized – Social media marketing, content writing, SEO, graphic design, website management, and digital marketing.
  • Back Office – Accounting/ Payroll, Human Resources, and Information Technology.

Can you imagine having to do all of these tasks yourself? You won’t have enough time to manage the essential tasks or the functions that directly contribute to business growth.

Although they are categorized as “non-essential”, they are otherwise important because these tasks keep your business running. Your best option is to outsource the non-essential tasks to a qualified third-party service provider.

Contract the services of a Virtual Assistant. These are highly-qualified and well-experienced professionals who have made the move from the brick-and-mortar world to the Internet. Virtual assistants are no longer just personal assistants or secretaries. You can find one to handle any task you want to be managed.

Even if you have the experience, skill set, and training, you should not keep yourself preoccupied with the non-essential tasks. In addition to website management, we have had clients outsource specialized tasks such as SEO, digital marketing, content writing, and social media marketing to us.

These tasks require specialized skills and training. Likewise, you need to dedicate time to track and monitor performance. We have the skills and the experience onboard our team to oversee these functions for our client.

Outsourcing is a great strategy. It will help you streamline your costs without compromising your revenue-generating efforts. Best of all, it will increase your productivity by ensuring you have more time to manage the tasks that contribute to business growth.

2. Plan Today Yesterday

“Carpe Diem” is a popular saying in Latin. Translated to English, it means to “Seize the day”. You should start your day with purpose; know what you need to do so that you can accomplish more.

In contrast, if you wake up every morning not knowing what to do first, you will end up wasting time.

The most successful people in business and politics plan for tomorrow the night before. This way, there is no time wasted on guesswork. They get the day off on a flying start; their minds focused on the tasks that need to get done.

Before you end the evening, spend a few minutes planning your agenda for the next day. Review your objective for the week. Prioritize your tasks on the basis of this objective. Rank the tasks based on their importance.

Some people write down the tasks in their smartphone’s Memo app. Others will save them in a productivity app like Evernote. One of the most effective ways is to go old school. Write them down on a whiteboard. The tasks will be the first thing you’ll see in the morning. It will certainly wake you up faster than a triple-shot espresso!

3. Get Your Most Dreaded Task Out of the Way

In the previous tip, we recommended arranging the following day’s tasks based on importance. Another approach would be to prioritize the task you dread doing the most. Get it out of the way so you can focus on the other important tasks in your schedule.

For example, salespeople dread cold calling. However, it remains an effective technique for generating leads as well as converting interest into sales. Salespeople dread cold calling because the rate of rejection is quite high.

Plus, they have to deal with gatekeepers; usually, the receptionist or secretary who is dead set on one thing: to make sure the boss has a productive day!

Unfortunately for telemarketers, cold calling is best done during the first business hour of the day. This is the time when the gatekeeper could still be finalizing the boss’ itinerary for the day.

Closing a deal or making a sale is a game of opportunity where winners and losers are determined within seconds. A telemarketer who hesitates in making the cold call could be preempted by another telemarketer. The moment of hesitation could be costly.

If you want to be productive, do the most dreaded task right away. Who knows? It could be your day’s biggest accomplishment!

want to know more about web design

4. Utilize Focus Blocks

Focus blocks are clusters of time that are allocated for specific tasks. While in a focus block, you cannot be distracted. You must be 100% focused. You should not leave your work area until the time allocated for the focus block has expired.

This means no breaks for coffee, water, snacks, or even the restroom. Did you watch the Will Smith movie, “The Pursuit of Happiness”? In the movie, Smith’s character, Chris Gardner, calculated the amount of time people waste going to and from the restroom and factored it in his work schedule.

How much time should you allocate for a task? According to sleep researchers, on average, we can maintain 100% focus for 90 to 120 minutes. To be sure, set aside 90 minutes per focus block.

Once a focus block is completed, take a break equivalent to one-third of its length. This will allow your brain to reset and get ready for the next focus block. Thus, a 90- minute focus block should be followed by a 30-minute rest period. During this time, you can have a snack, go to the restroom, check your messages, or better yet, take a short nap.

If you can accomplish just 3 focus blocks, you would have put in 270 minutes of productive time. That is 4.5 hours of productivity! So who says you have to put in eight hours of work per day to be productive?

According to productivity guru Steve Pavlina, the average American worker only puts in 90 minutes of productive time every day! For a 480-minute work day, 90 minutes only represents 17% productivity.

Again, think about the quality of work. Focus on what the tasks mean for your business. Will they bring me closer to achieving my goals?

If you accomplish 3 tasks that will significantly bring you closer to achieving your business objective, then you have a productive day. On the contrary, if you crossed out 20 tasks in your “to-do” list that are more administrative in function then what you had was a busy day. It was not necessarily productive.

5. Remove All Distractions

Let’s go back to Steve Pavlina’s study which revealed Americans only put in 90 minutes of productive time every day. Pavlina says the rest of the day is spent doing the following activities:

  • Surfing the Internet
  • Checking their social media status
  • Water cooler chatter
  • Coffee breaks
  • Taking snacks
  • Reading the newspaper
  • Taking naps

These activities are definitely not examples of productive behavior. Instead, these activities are prime examples of distractions. Yet, the United States remains the most powerful economy in the world!

Before commencing on work, remove all forms of distractions. Put away your smartphone. Close all of your social media pages. If you work with certain work-related apps open such as Skype, Slack, or Viber, leave a message about your current status.

If you have a secretary or a Virtual Assistant, ask them to just take messages. Make sure your assistant gets complete details on every important call.

6. Get Good Quality of Sleep Every Night

Sleep is an overlooked factor of productivity. Without enough sleep, you will not be able to function properly. Doctors consistently recommend getting 7 to 8 hours of good quality sleep every night. If you are getting less than 7 to 8 hours, you could be exposing yourself to the following health risks:

  • High-blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Decreased memory function
  • Affected level of cognition
  • Depression
  • Mood swings

Sleep is your body’s time to recharge. If your body is not properly rested, its various systems may not function properly. People who lack sleep are more susceptible to acquiring diseases, illnesses, and infections because their immune system is compromised.

If you plan your day properly, you will have more time to relax and prepare yourself for a good night’s sleep.

7. Organize Your Meetings

If you manage a team, scheduling meetings is a great way to make sure everyone is on-board and on the same page. However, if meetings are not organized properly, they can be productivity killers.

Before you finalize the meeting, draw up its agenda. Identify the amount of time allocated per item. Prepare an outline of the salient discussion points for each item on the agenda. If you must, assign a discussion point to a team member.

Inform your team of the meeting by routing an email to each and everyone at least one week before its scheduled date. One week will be enough time for them to get ready.

Make sure your email has complete details: time, place, and items to bring if any. Remind everyone to be on time. If necessary, penalize those who are late.

Conclusion

Life is not just about work. If most of your waking hours are spent in the office and on your business, you are not being productive. It does not matter if your bank account is growing. If you are neglecting other aspects of your life such as family, friends, and health, you are not optimizing time that is available to you.

You are merely existing, not living.

Productivity means achieving a balance between life and work. If you follow our top 7 tips for productivity, you won’t have to work 8 hours every day to accomplish your business goals and objectives. Integrate focus blocks into your day, and you may only have to work 4 to 6 hours per day.

Assuming you get 8 hours of good quality of sleep every night, that means you will have 16 hours of daylight to get things done. By being productive and working only 6 hours per day, you will have 10 hours to do other things such as:

  • Have nightly dinners with the family
  • Attend your son’s baseball games
  • Watch your daughter’s piano recital
  • Take your spouse out for dinner
  • Exercise in the gym
  • Catch up on some leisurely reading
  • Take a vacation with the family
  • Learn a new hobby

Most of all… breathe! Relax and realize that you work to live and not live to work.

Do you have any great productivity tips that you would like to share? Please feel free to share in the comments section below.

desktop with coffee cup - learn more about website design

Let’s start out with a news flash: Stress is good for you!

Stress is your body’s natural reaction when you are faced with a pressure situation. Your body releases stress hormones called cortisol which functions to improve performance. When the adrenal glands release cortisol, your senses become heightened. You are more focused and your reaction time is faster.

A good example would be when you have a tight deadline to meet at work. You might need to burn the midnight lamp to get the job done right and on time.

Working under these conditions will create a stressful environment. Your body will respond by releasing cortisol to help you cope with the various stressors. You may notice that your level of concentration is higher. Cortisol has helped you accomplish the project on time without compromising the quality of work.

There are people who are able to thrive under pressure because they can manage the conditions that make the situation stressful. Thus, if you can manage your levels of stress at work, you should be fine.

However, prolonged levels of cortisol in your body are not good. In fact, it is not healthy as evidenced by the following negative effects:

  • Decreased muscle mass
  • Impaired cognition
  • Poor quality of sleep
  • Decreased bone density
  • Increased/ irregular blood pressure
  • Higher concentrations of abdominal fat
  • Imbalances in blood sugar levels

These negative effects may lead to illnesses and diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. It will also result in premature aging.

This is why one of the most stressful jobs on earth belongs to the President of the United States. It astonishing to see how fast American Presidents have aged while on the job.

Thus, while pushing yourself to overcome challenges and accomplish more tasks is admirable, in the long run it can have damaging consequences on your health. Instead of pushing harder, pull back, step on the brakes and think about getting more rest and relaxation.

7 Health Benefits Of Rest And Relaxation

Proponents of Behavioral Leadership, a discipline that advocates new results require new behavior, like to advise their clients to  “Slow down in order to speed up”.

They believe that for top-level executives and entrepreneurs to succeed, it is important to be in the best state of mind, body, and spirit so they can perform to the best of their abilities.

If these top-level executives and entrepreneurs are chronically fatigued from stress, their sense of judgment will be impaired. Likewise, they will be more prone to illness and disease due to having a weakened immune system. Some may even acquire unhealthy habits such as excessive drinking and eating to cope up with stress.

As we mentioned, stress has been linked to several deadly diseases. Your achievements will not be worth it if you end up paying for it with your health.

If your mind and body are showing the effects of stress, slow down and consider taking some time off from work. One of the best remedies for stress is to simply get more rest and relaxation time in.

Here are a few of the health benefits of getting more rest and relaxation:

1. Keeps Your Heart Healthy –

Stress can lead to irregular heartbeat and this is not good for your heart. Activities that promote rest and relaxation such as taking naps or getting more sleep can help your heartbeat return to normal and keep your heart healthy.

2. Strengthens Your Immune System –

Studies conducted at the Carnegie Mellon University showed that stress doubles the risk of catching a cold.

The reason is that stress increases inflammation in the body which weakens the immune system’s ability to fight off viruses. By getting more rest, you can help your immune system recover and become stronger.

3. Improves Cognition and Memory –

Studies on mice showed that stress can affect the function of the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for cognitive reasoning and memory.

If you’re suffering from a mental block, a simple 15 to 30- minute rest will suffice to get you up to speed. You will be able to articulate ideas much more clearly.

4. Lowers Risk of Stroke –

A study published in the 2011 Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine revealed that work-related stress was responsible for 10% of strokes.

Instead of spending more time at work, why not head off to the gym and get some exercise? If you have children, you can use the time away from work to do healthy, family-bonding activities such as hiking or mountain climbing.

5. Prevents Onset of Depression –

Prolonged stress has been proven to kill brain cells and prevent the creation of new ones. This can lead to behaviors such as loss of appetite, and feelings of hopelessness and sadness. Cumulatively these conditions can develop into depression.

If your situation at work is making you depressed, get away from it all by taking a vacation. A short holiday will clear your mind and keep your body rested.

learn more about website design with orange banner

6. Helps You Maintain a Healthy Weight –

Stressors at work can develop triggers that lead to unhealthy habits. This is why many overworked people cannot wait to hit the bars for a few drinks or reach out for comfort food.

Cortisol can lower your metabolism which leads to higher accumulation of abdominal fat. Thus, when you are relaxed, your metabolism works more efficiently. You will also have less motivation to consume alcohol and unhealthy food.

7. Lowers Risk of Developing Cancer –

Although more studies need to be done, some research has shown a possible link between stress and certain cancers particularly breast cancer in women.

The bottom line is why take chances? It would be better to take a few days, even weeks away from work to get more rested and relaxed than potentially create conditions in the body that are ideal for developing cancer.

What Are The Best Ways To Rest And Relax?

The question may seem counter-intuitive considering that rest and relaxation are natural, learned examples of human behavior. However, many of us have forgotten how to rest and relax. We have been so caught up with our obligations to work that we have compromised our own abilities to get proper rest and proclivity to enjoy relaxing activities.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • On average, how many hours of sleep do you get every night?
  • Do you often wake up listless and lacking in energy?
  • When was the last time you exercised?
  • When was the last time you and the spouse had a relaxing dinner?
  • How long ago was your last vacation?
  • What was the last book you read?
  • When was the last movie you watched?
  • Are you attuned to the activities of your children?

These are normal activities that help us relax and get well-rested. However, many of us have taken these activities for granted perhaps thinking we can do these things on another day.

In the meantime, the cumulative effect of stress has taken its toll on our health and inevitably in our relationship with family and friends.

Of course, we are not entirely to blame. Technology has made it easier and more convenient for us to get things done in life and work. Unfortunately, instead of allowing us more time away from work, it has created a situation where we can do more things in the same amount of time.

In an increasingly competitive environment, it becomes harder to allocate time for rest and relaxation. We must simply do more to stay ahead of the competition.

In the end, we may pay the ultimate price with our health and overall well-being.

Now that we have read about the destructive effects of prolonged stress on the body, it is important that we commit time for rest and relaxation.

The question is, what are the best ways to rest and relax? It is a matter of individual choice. The most important thing is to find time for it. You should not just allocate, but dedicate time in your schedule for activities that promote rest and relaxation.

At Mountaintop, we have come up with a list of things that you can do to help you get better rest or find relaxing activity:

  1. Get 8 Hours of Sleep Every Night – Times may have changed but the science behind the ideal hours of sleep has remained the same. You should make an effort to get 7 to 8 hours of good quality sleep every night. Sleep is your body’s natural way of recharging itself. Poor quality sleep will make you feel restless, inattentive, and irritable the following day.
  2. Schedule Time in the Day for Exercise – Regular exercise strengthens your muscles, bones, and the immune system. It will also improve blood circulation and help your organs function better. Exercise also releases mood- enhancing endorphins that make you feel good and fight off depression.
  3. Spend More Time with the Family – Time lost is time you will never regain. This is especially true when it comes to family. As your children grow up, they will go through milestones in their lives. You should be part of it. Regular communication is also important to maintain a healthy relationship with your spouse.
  4. Read a Good Book – Sure you can read a book from a tablet. However, nothing feels better than having a trade paperback in your hands. The smell of paper goes well with your favorite cup of coffee. Regular reading not only improves comprehension but it is very relaxing. That is why the richest people in the world like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg make an effort to read to read at least 50 books every year.
  5. Cut Down on Social Media – Social media is a great source of information, a terrific platform for communication, and is an effective channel to market and promote your business. However, it can also be toxic. If you often find your newsfeed inundated with negative content, you should either clean it up or cut down the time spent on social media.
  6. Schedule a Vacation During the Year – Taking a one or two-week vacation will not negatively impact your business. Vacations are a great way to recharge and revitalize your mind, spirit, and body. It can also be educational especially if you visit new places and learn about their cultures and traditions.
  7. Outsource Work – If you want to find more time to rest and relax, outsource some of your work. Among the types of work you should outsource are administrative functions and those that do not fall under your core competence. For example, if you plan to run a digital marketing campaign, outsource it to an agency so you can allocate more time to tasks that will contribute directly to your business’ bottom-line.

Conclusion – Get Some Rest!

At Mountaintop, we get a lot of projects that have tight deadlines. Digital marketing campaigns have to be tightly monitored. Analytics on performance are routinely made and discussed with clients. We manage a high volume of client websites and regularly run updates and improvements to ensure high-level performance.

Still, despite the hectic schedule, the people that make up the Mountaintop team make it a point to find time for rest and relaxation.

Founder Josiah Bussing and his wife, Jeanna, are avid mountain climbers which explain the name of their company. For them, climbing mountains is not only a great form of exercise but also presents new challenges to overcome. It gives them the time to clear their minds so they can perform to the best of their abilities. Mountain climbing is also an activity they share with their future children.

What about you? What activities help you relax? Please feel free and share in the comments section below.

If you want to learn more about outsourcing; how it can improve productivity and allocate more time for rest and relaxation, please feel free to give us a call or an email. We will get back to you as soon as we can!

mountaintops - curious about websites- click here to learn more

Leadership is an important component of management. Without it, there is no organization or direction. Instead, there will be chaos and confusion. Decisions cannot be made because there is no accountability. That is why leadership is one of the most sought-after traits in management. Companies spend thousands of dollars on programs that can help develop leaders within the ranks.

A group without a leader is just a collective. In the presence of a leader, the group becomes a team. Think about it. The most successful teams in professional sports were defined by its leadership. A good example was the Detroit Pistons team which won the NBA Finals in 2004.

The Pistons consisted of journeymen players; those who were discarded from their previous teams. In the 2004 Finals, the Pistons met the Los Angeles Lakers who were led by All-Stars Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. During the off-season, the Lakers signed two more All-Stars in Gary Payton and Karl Malone.

Detroit did not have All-Stars but was led by a veteran guard, Chauncey Billups whose strong but silent leadership style earned the respect of his fellow players. Billups recognized their strengths and harnessed them. He saw their weaknesses and accepted them.

In contrast, the Lakers’ All-Stars were feuding. Bryant and O’Neal both wanted the ball. Malone had an off-court altercation with Bryant. Payton wanted more playing time. Even the legendary coach, Phil Jackson, could not manage the players’ egos when it counted the most.

In the end, the Pistons beat the Lakers with Los Angeles only winning one game in the Finals. Billups was chosen Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP).

When you have a leader on your team, you do not need All-Stars because he/she will make everyone a superstar. A leader knows how to harness your strengths and takes the time to work on your weaknesses.

7 Leadership Styles: Which One Is Yours?

Are leaders born or made? That question has been the subject of much debate. There are people who seem to take naturally to leadership roles. They exude charisma, embrace challenges, and people tend to gravitate toward them. Some would say they were “born to become leaders”.

Then you have those whose leadership skills were honed from experience and years of study. They have been in the trenches and had the know-how to lead his/her people out of dire situations. Some would say they rose from the ranks because they “accepted the mantle of leadership”.

The truth is everyone has leadership qualities. A study by the University of Illinois showed that while there are some people who are predisposed to leadership, it does not mean that those who are not cannot acquire it.

It may just be that your leadership style is different. You could be manifesting leadership qualities in your day-to-day activities but it may not be perceived as clearly compared to other styles.

So which one is your leadership style? Here are 7 leadership styles that may represent your own.

1. The Democratic Leader

You are someone who likes to get everyone on the team involved in the decision-making process. Yes, you will ultimately make the final decision. However, you make sure every individual on your team has the opportunity to study the situation and present his/her opinion on how to best address the matter.

This style of leadership is one of the best and probably generates the most productive outcomes. People like to be heard. They want to be involved. Within an organization, subordinates want the opportunity to show management what they can do; how they think and approach problem-solving.

By soliciting the opinions of his/her people, the Democratic Leader shows that he/she recognizes their value to the organization. The Democratic Leader lets the people know, he/she cannot do this on his/her own. To succeed requires a team effort.

The Democratic Leader approach also reduces the risk of making costly decisions. Your people will view the situation differently. The benefit of being Democratic is that you will see solutions from different perspectives.

In many cases, this helps filter out potential flaws in the decision-making process until what you are left with is the best course of action.

2. The Autocratic Leader

The Autocratic Leader is the exact opposite of the Democratic Leader. He/she does not respect the opinions of others. The Autocrat will not consult the members of his/her team. The Autocrat will make decisions on his/her own.

This style of leadership is rarely, if ever at all, effective. It is typical of people who have a “Strongman” mentality. All you have to do is review world history and see how the Autocratic rule has failed their respective countries.

Even the Autocratic leaders of today; Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela, Kim Jong-un of North Korea, Vladimir Putin of Russia, and Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, have failed to improve the economy as well as the livelihood of the people.

Autocrats create dissension within the organization. It breeds contempt and polarizes people to segment themselves into different sub-groups. As such, there will be no strong foundation for the organization to support itself.

The single-decision maker system will likewise open the organization to incidents of graft and corruption. The Autocrat may abuse his/her power and introduce changes in the structure or current system to benefit personal interests.

learn more about web design with coffee cup on desk in blue

3. Laissez-Faire Leader

Laissez-Faire is a French word that translated into English means, “let them do”. A person who practices this leadership style essentially transfers the authority to make decisions to his/her people.

In some cases, companies allow employees to “self-govern” their work responsibilities in order to accommodate their current situation. For example, a worker who has to split time between the office and attending to the needs of a parent recovering from surgery.

Companies that have this accommodation follow the ROWE Concept or Results-Only Work Environment which was developed by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson.

In this type of program, employees are evaluated based on performance. The number of hours worked or the frequency of having a physical presence at work is not considered. GAP and the American Society of Clinical Oncology implement ROWE in the workplace.

Another variation of the Laissez-Faire style of Leadership is Holacracy which was popularized by Tony Hsieh for his company, Zappos. Holacracy is a form of decentralized management. There is no management team. Instead, the responsibility of making decisions is passed on to holarchy teams.

Likewise, there are no positions or individual designations. People are identified by roles that are determined by the team or holarchy.

Zappos has adopted Holacracy since 2014. However, it is not clear if the program has benefited Zappos and the employees. Reports have surfaced that employees have resigned due to greater pressures at work.

If you plan to implement the Laissez-Faire leadership style to your business, you should constantly keep track of the company’s performance. Make sure you are updated on every decision made by your people.

4. The Strategic Leader

The Strategic Leader is a person who attempts to find a balance, or an equilibrium point, between the interests of the company executives and personnel. Decisions are made on the basis of whether the course of action would protect the interest of one without compromising the interest of another.

Numbers are a key component of the Strategic Leader’s game plan. He/she likes to review numbers to have a good idea of the company’s financial position. This way, if the executives are proposing a course of action, the Strategic Leader can see if this can adversely affect personnel.

For example, the company executives plan a shift to capital or technologically intensive processes. The Strategic Leader would want to find out if such a move would lead to layoffs.

The Strategic Leader can be effective. However, because he/she positions between the executive and the interests of personnel, there will be situations whereby decisions cannot be finalized.

As a person of authority, you have to realize that you can never please everyone all the time. Over time, you may encourage people to believe they can always get their way and that can have disastrous consequences.

5. The Transformational Leader

The Transformational Leader believes that business conditions are always changing. The industry is in a perpetual state of evolution. There are always new developments and trends are constantly shifting. Therefore, he/she wants people to evolve with change.

The advantage of having a Transformational Leader is that he/she will not hesitate to invest in new training programs. The Transformational Leader does not want to be left behind. He/she wants the people to be ready and prepared to learn, understand, and implement new processes.

The great thing about a Transformational Leader is his/her willingness to invest in the human asset. However, pushing people to constantly learn new processes and systems may take them off their natural learning curve. It takes time to develop the skills necessary to become proficient at a new procedure.

Some people may have a difficult time transitioning from one school of thought to another. If you are a Transformational Leader, you may want to consider transitioning the new learning through a series of waves or teams.

Divide the organization into different teams. Segmentation can be based on years of experience or consistency of performance. Let Team #1 go through the new learning program.

Once they have completed the training, allow them time to implement the procedure. Evaluate the test results. If the results are in line with expectations, have Team #2 undergo the same type of training.

6. The Bureaucratic Leader

The three words that best describe the Bureaucratic Leader: By the book. If you base the finality of your decisions on existing company guidelines and policies, you are a Bureaucratic Leader.

Unlike the Autocratic Leader, the Bureaucratic Leader will allow his/her people to voice out their thoughts and opinions. However, if the recommendations run contrary to the company’s policies, the Bureaucratic Leader will shut them down even if these make good business sense.

During these times when the Internet and the continued evolution of digital technology have made innovation a necessity, the Bureaucratic Leader is ineffective. Rigid business modeling will not generate consistent results in constantly shifting business environments.

7. The Transactional Leader

The Transactional Leader is a person who likes to match performance with incentives. This leadership style is prevalent in sales departments where management will incentivize people with attractive commission rates and bonuses.

Providing incentive schemes are great. Most people work because they want to achieve financial stability. Evaluations that are based on incentives earned will also give irrefutable empirical evidence on an employee’s performance.

However, on the downside, the employee may associate his/her value with currency. The intangibles such as dedication, passion, respect for others, punctuality, and professionalism may end up swept by the wayside in favor of higher earnings.

It may also encourage a “win at all cost” attitude whereby employees resort to unscrupulous ways and means to achieve their targets.

Conclusion

In truth, there are no bad leadership styles. Whether your approach succeeds or not, will depend on how you apply your leadership methods. Amazon is a tightly-run ship and one can make the case that its CEO, Jeff Bezos, is an autocrat. However, no one can argue with the success of Amazon.

Virgin Group CEO Sir Richard Branson may be thought of as a Transformational Leader. He loves investing in his people’s training and in fact, is highly-involved with the company’s interesting management training programs.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has his office table mixed in with the rest of his people. Zuckerberg appears to be an example of a Democratic Leader. He likes to get his people involved in the decision-making process.

So which one best represents your leadership style? Please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts and opinions about this article in the comments section below.

And if you want to know how Mountaintop can help your business move to the next level of success, please feel free to give us a call or drop us an email. We will get back to you right away.

learn about web design - desktop, tablet & smart phone on desk - in blue - larger

Success in business is all about having advantages. People invest in education so they can increase their value when they apply for a job. You could take up special certification courses to validate your qualifications. However, in a competitive industry, you need an asset that will optimize your skills, education, and experience. This asset is a strong network of leads and referrals.

Why You Should Network

We discussed the benefits of networking for your business in our article, “How Can Networking Help My Business Grow”.  While we will no longer touch on the topic, it is worthwhile to put into context why you should network.

In website design, we advocate optimizing content for our clients. Optimization is an effective process of making sure the client’s content is searchable on the Internet.

Every day billions of content is shared through social media, email, chat forums, and other sources of information. It doesn’t matter how great you wrote your blog or how well-researched it was. It will not be found unless it is optimized.

Networking is a way of optimizing your overall value proposition.

Networking creates channels for your skills, experience, and expertise to be found and appreciated by potential partners, clients, or associates.

It will not matter if you garnered academic accolades at a university. Your achievements and contributions to your company’s success will not reap career dividends if you cannot connect with key people in the industry.

A person with lesser qualifications but savvy networking skills will gain a decided advantage over you despite your glowing resume.

3 Basic Principles Of Networking

Entrepreneurs understand the value of networking to stay ahead in business. They know the importance of establishing connections with people who could support their enterprise or career choices. Many of them dedicate time to networking activities. However, some are able to reap the rewards of networking better than others.

Whether you are planning to start a business or explore a new career opportunity, networking will help you achieve your goals and objectives. The key is to do it right.

Here are 3 basic principles to keep in mind when networking.

1. The Earlier You Network The Better

The earlier you start, the sooner you can build your network of connections. In fact, for younger readers who are still in school, you should network right now.

Start by establishing key relationships in organizations in your campus and in others. Join associations that bring together like-minded people across different universities.

There is no better time to start networking than right now. Networking is also a learned skill. The more frequently you network, the better you will get at it.

2. Qualify Your Connections

Don’t network blindly. Connect with people whom you believe have the skills, knowledge, experience, and yes, network, to contribute to your career or enterprise.

Before networking, create a profile of the ideal contact. What are their specific skills or expertise? What are their company designations? Which industries do they belong to?

3. Focus On Building Relationships

Establishing a network is not a negotiation where one party seeks to have an advantage over another in the agreement. It must be mutually beneficial to both parties. The foundation of a network will depend on the strength of its relationships.

Take the time to get to know the other person better. Find out who he/she is; what makes him/her get out of bed every day. Uncover what their goals are. By discovering the person behind the contact, you will have a better understanding if he/she will be a right fit for your own goals and objectives.

10 Effective Ways To Build A Strong Network Of Leads And Referrals

Now that you know how to approach networking, it is time to get connected! Put your plan into motion and start circulating so you can build a strong network of leads and referrals.

Here are 10 ways that you can network effectively and establish a good list of dependable contacts:

1. Take the Time to Attend Networking Events

In order to build your contacts list, you have to network actively. Networking events are happening every day. You just have to know where to look and whom to ask. Here are some organizations that you may want to approach and find out if they have networking events coming up:

  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Industry Associations
  • Trade Groups and Organizations

You could also ask people from your existing contact list whom you know frequently attend networking events for their suggestions. They might extend an invitation for you to attend some of the events they go to.

2. Join Organizations In Your Industry

It is likewise a good idea to join organizations that are involved in your industry. You will have opportunities to meet key influencers, successful business leaders, and top executives.

In addition to including them in your network, you could learn from their experience. Many of these key influencers are more than willing to share their knowledge and experience with new players and up and coming players in the industry.

learn more about website design with orange banner

3. Get Referral Recommendations From Your Own Network

Sometimes the best contacts reside closer to home. Before looking at outside sources, review your current network. Identify contacts who may be able to give you referrals or an endorsement to a key person in your industry.

A referral is a powerful tool. It is basically a seal-of-approval from someone whom the key person or contact trusts. Getting a referral or an endorsement will help you bypass any qualification process that a contact may have in place.

4. Connect With Your School Alumni

Here’s another reason why you should start networking while still in school. The relationships you build while in school are traditionally stronger and long-lasting.

Recess-time discussions and hanging out may have seemed trivial back then. However, it’s the shared experiences that foster strong relationships that stand the test of time.

Do your best to stay active with your school alumni. If there are high school or college reunions, make it a point to attend. If possible, ask to be involved in the planning process assuming your batch has been tasked to host the homecoming event.

Even if you were not classmates, school alumni are generally very loyal and supportive to one another. Once a referred contact finds out you shared the same school, it becomes easier to break the ice and start a good friendship.

5. Focus On Establishing Quality Contacts

In networking, you should only keep in mind one rule: “It’s not how many people you’ve met, it’s whom you’ve met that matters.” One of the biggest misconceptions about networking is that it’s a game of collecting calling cards.

The quantity of contacts you add is not as important as the quality of contacts you make.

Remember our second basic principle in networking: Qualify your connections.

Before setting out for the networking event, do some research. Find out the following information:

  • Who is attending?
  • What companies will be represented?
  • What is the purpose of the networking event?
  • What is the agenda of the networking event?

From there, look into the backgrounds of the attendees. Read as much as you can about their companies; accomplishments, contributions to the industry, key people in the organization, and socio-civic activities.

Make a list of the people that you want to connect with. Don’t make it very extensive. If the networking event is one hour long, allocate 10 to 15 minutes per contact. At the end of the evening, you may have added 5 to 6 quality contacts to your network.

6. Assume the Protagonist Mindset

Having a protagonist mindset means looking for win-win situations. Successful networking isn’t just about finding connections that benefit your interests. As we mentioned earlier, networking isn’t a negotiation process where one party benefits more than the other party. You cannot build a strong relationship that way.

A potential contact will have an idea if you are trying to gain an advantage from the way you are navigating the conversation. Focusing the discussion on yourself, showing disinterest while the other person is talking, and cutting in during the conversation are clear signals that you are only interested in personal gain.

7. Take a Proactive Approach

People who attend networking events expect others to ask their help. Why not take a proactive approach and offer your help to the other person before being asked?

If during your talk, you realize that the other person may have immediate need of your expertise, go ahead and provide the assistance. This is an opportunity for you to show what you can do.

At the same time, it will start the ball rolling. If the contact is valuable, he/she will be more than willing to reciprocate and return the favor.

8. Facilitate Connections

You don’t have to secure an immediate deal or arrangement as proof of effective networking. You can likewise be a facilitator and connect a person you just met with someone in your network who can provide the needed assistance.

This is another way of being proactive. It will show that you are a valuable connection. The person you just helped will keep that mind and will not hesitate to offer his/her assistance in the future.

Your contact in your current network will also appreciate the referral. He/she will keep you top of mind when someone needs your knowledge and experience.

9. Be Active On Social Media

Networking is a social event. Social media gives you opportunities to network from home or the office. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and especially LinkedIn are valuable sources of potential contacts that can provide you leads and referrals.

LinkedIn has features that allow you to actively participate in your community and showcase your expertise. Content that is shared on LinkedIn is primarily business-related. Actively engage in threads; join focus groups and participate in discussions.

LinkedIn also has a blogging feature. Take some time to create and publish engaging blogs. Frequent blogging will help enhance your reputation and encourage people to reach out and establish a connection with you.

10. Reconnect with Old Contacts

Connections aren’t a one-time deal. It does not end once you’ve gained favor. Again, networking is all about building relationships. If you want a network of strong leads and referrals, you have to work toward building strong relationships.

Maintain relationships by finding the time to reconnect with old contacts. Invite them out for coffee or a quick lunch. Perhaps a round of golf or a few sets of tennis over the weekend. In some cases, a simple phone call to say “Hi” will do.

Conclusion

Networking is one of the most overlooked, yet important components of building a business. It is an activity that should never end. You should keep networking to keep your business growing. Every time you network is an opportunity to find a contact who can help take your business to the next level.

A strong network is one that has contacts who can consistently provide you with leads and referrals. It becomes dynamic; a self-sustaining network that continually looks for opportunities for others to benefit as well.

Effective networking is all about relationship-building. A strong relationship goes two-ways; it’s not always receiving, sometimes you have to give first. You should also be patient. Trust is an important trait of a strong relationship and it takes time to build trust.

Do you have interesting networking tips that you would like to share? Kindly post them in the comments section below. They may encourage other readers to reach out to you and establish a connection!

If you want to know more about networking and how digital marketing can help you build a strong following, please do not hesitate to reach out and contact us via phone or email.

Extreme WordPress care - what types of plans we offer

Texting may be the most popular form of communication, but when it comes to business, email is king. It should be no surprise that there are more email accounts in the world than there are subscribers to Facebook and Twitter combined.

What makes email so popular? It is fast, easy, convenient, and delivers communication in real time. You can attach files such as scanned documents, images, and spreadsheets. Best of all, it is a free service!

However, there are rules that cover proper etiquette when crafting and sending email. These are not “hard rules” but guidelines to make sure your emails are effective and will get the job done.

1. Keep Your Email Short

People check their inbox multiple times per day. However, that does not mean they like checking their emails frequently. In business, time is a valuable commodity. Given the number of emails your recipient receives, he/she would prefer to filter through the inbox as fast as possible.

If your email is too long, chances are the recipient will only skim through it. He/she will not bother with the details and just look for its salient points to understand the context. Thus, it is better to keep your emails short and to the point.

Here are 4 great tips on how to compose a short but effective email:

  • Start out by writing as much as you can then edit down the content upon review.
  • Use bullet points to organize your content.
  • Avoid prolonged introductions; after your salutation, state your objective right away.
  • Focus only on one subject matter.

By staying concise, you highlight only the important details and reduce the risk of any misunderstanding with its recipient. Short emails are also a sign of courtesy. It shows you value the recipient’s time.

2. Review Before Clicking “Send”

While your email should be short, it does not mean it should be exempted from review. Before clicking “send”, take the time to review your email thoroughly. Doing so will prevent the following embarrassing situations:

  • Sending out to the wrong recipient.
  • Failure to include attachments after indicating in the email that files will be attached.
  • Failure to put a subject matter.
  • Failure to correct errors in spelling and grammar.

Have you ever written an email when you are in an emotional state? We sincerely hope you did not send it!

Composing an email when you are highly emotional can lead to sending regrettable content. Remember that once you click “send”, there is no getting it back.

Instead of sending the emotional email out, get a good night’s sleep. When you wake up, you will be well-rested and in a better state of mind. Once you review the email you composed the night before, you will be glad you did not send it.

3. “Reply All” Only When Needed

We often receive emails that include other addresses. Sometimes these addresses are indicated as “copy furnished”. Does that mean that your reply should include their addresses as well?

It is not necessary to send your reply to everyone included in the original email. The sender may have furnished a copy to the other addresses only as proof an email on the specific subject matter was sent to you. Those who were furnished a copy do not have to receive your reply.

For example, a landlord or property lessor may send an email to a tenant reminding him/her of unpaid accounts. The landlord may furnish a copy to the property owner, accounting, and credit and collection.

The tenant does not have to send his/her reply to everyone on the original email. He/she can just direct the reply to the landlord. This way, the tenant can add details that may only be pertinent to the duties and obligations of the landlord.

4. Use Good Email Subject Lines

The subject line is the first item the recipient will see. If you want your email to be opened you need to use a good subject line to compel the recipient to initiate action.

How do you write a good subject line? Follow our 3 helpful tips below:

  • Keep the subject line to just one issue.
  • Get to the point; what is your email about?
  • Include a Call- To- Action; for example – “Urgent: Contract Signing – Please Update Your Records”

Using good subject lines will also help the recipient prioritize emails that need to be addressed right away.

5. Acknowledge Emails

For sure you’ve experienced not having your emails acknowledged by the recipient. You don’t know if they’ve read it or at the very least, seen it in their inbox. It’s not a very good feeling. It makes you feel that your email is unimportant.

It is common courtesy to acknowledge the receipt of an email. Even if you cannot respond to it right away, the sender should at least receive advice that you have read it and will attend to it as soon as your schedule allows.

Here is an example of a proper acknowledgement email:

“Hi Greg,

Thank you for your email.

I was able to go through it but not in detail. To give your email due courtesy, kindly afford me some time to digest the content and compose the appropriate response.

If you have not heard from me in 24 hours, please feel free to send me a response.

Thank you,

Bob”

curious about the website services we offer, learn more

6. Respond Promptly To Emails

As a matter of courtesy, you should respond to emails within 24 hours. This is especially true for emails that are urgent. If the emails are not particularly important, a response should be delivered within 72 hours.

24 hours is the ideal time-frame. It should give you enough time to compose the proper response. In some cases, you may need to do some research or verify information that the sender has requested.

If you need more time to put-together all the information the sender is asking for, indicate this in your acknowledgement email.

It is always advisable to take your time in composing your response. Do not respond if you are not sure of the information you are providing to the sender.

Should you respond to unimportant emails such as those sent by marketers? The answer is “Yes”. Unless you have signed up for their newsletter whereby you can merely unsubscribe, for other marketing content, it would be a good idea to send a short response.

For example, you received an email from a supplier who is offering the latest dialer program for your contact center business. The contact may have gotten your email from a friend, associate, social media, or your website.

If you are not interested, you can send the following email:

“Dear Mr. Smith,

Thank you for considering our company for your dialer program.

However, at this time, we have no need for your product. Rest assured that should our business require your services, we shall contact your office.

Best regards,

Dan Jones”

By responding to the sender, you are informing them that you no longer wish to receive communication from the company until further notice.

7. Inform Recipient Of Attachments

One of the key features of email is that you can include attachments. These could be documents or images that you urgently have to submit to the recipient. However, these files could be quite large. In some cases, you may have to send multiple files.

Before sending out an email with attachments, inform the recipient especially if these files can take up memory. The recipient may not have the storage capacity for it and prefer another way of receiving your files.

You could do one of the following options:

  • Compress the files.
  • Open a file in DropBox or another file-sharing platform and provide a link to the recipient.

Ask the recipient if he/she is fine by these options. It is possible that the recipient is not familiar with compressed files or DropBox and may prefer a simple attachment.

8. Check For Spelling And Grammatical Errors

We briefly touched on this in rule #2, “Review Before Clicking Send”. Errors in spelling and grammar in whatever form of content is inexcusable and unacceptable.

It will always leave a poor impression on the recipient. Emailed content may be short, concise, and sometimes, informal in structure but it still represents you and your business.

You can download a copy of Grammarly which can automatically check your content for errors in spelling, grammar, and quotation marks. It will also suggest alternative words to improve your content.

9. Use All Caps Judiciously

Whenever you see text presented in an “All Caps” format, don’t you feel like covering your ears? Using all caps for your email is tantamount to shouting at your recipient. It may not be taken lightly.

You can use all caps to emphasize a word or a phrase and to abbreviate names of companies, organizations, and people. There are other options to consider such as italics or by underlining the word or phrase. Using bold type font is also effective in emphasizing a word or a phrase.

10. Include Your Email Signature

Your email signature officially verifies the authenticity of the communication. Don’t assume it is enough that the email originated from your address. Email is just like regular mail only in electronic format. Would you end your letter without a signature?

Gmail has features that allow you to customize your email signature. It should include the following details:

  • Professional Name
  • Title or Designation
  • Company Name
  • Website URL

You can even use your official handwritten signature if your webmail provider supports a stylus pen.

The accepted location of your email location is at the left-hand side, right after your concluding text.

Conclusion

There are other rules that you should follow although these do not directly affect the recipient.

For example, always update your antivirus and anti-malware programs. Email is the preferred avenue of hackers to steal data or corrupt your system.

Look for security programs that can encrypt outgoing emails. SecureZIP for Windows, Virtru, and Vaporstream are among the most popular email encryption programs you can consider.

Businesses should have a domain email and avoid using generic webmail addresses such as “yahoo.com” or “gmail.com”. Having a domain email is more professional and shows you are truly invested in your business.

Come up with a professional email address. It does not have to be overly formal or complicated. For example, [email protected] is perfectly acceptable.

Lastly, it should go without saying, but some people tend to forward suspicious email like chain mail, unverified reports, and hoaxes. Spurious emails can be annoying to the recipient. It is a waste of inbox space, time, and could place the recipient at risk if it contains malware.

Do you have email etiquette tips that you want to share? Please feel free to share in the comments section below.

If you are also interested in starting an email marketing campaign, please do not hesitate to give us a call or an email.

We will respond within 24 hours!

desktop with coffee cup - learn more about website design

Whether you are an entrepreneur or an employee, every day you put your best foot forward so you can come closer to realizing your career goals. You’ve identified the tasks you need to accomplish, scheduled meetings, and set time in the day to prepare all the needed reports. You may have forgotten an important item on the agenda.

Have you penciled in time for reading?

Decline In Reading Scores Traced To Less Time Spent On Reading

A study by the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) revealed that global literacy rates rose from 84% in 2014 to 86% in 2016.

However, a study conducted by the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) showed that reading in America has been on a steady decline the past 40 years. In 1982, the NEA survey estimated that 56.9% of Americans read at least one work of literature within the year. Fast-forward to 2015, and the number has dropped to 43%.

The lack of literary appreciation may have significantly contributed to the decline in reading scores of Americans. A global test performed by the Progress in International Reading Literacy (PIRL) in 2016 showed that the United States trailed countries such as Singapore, Russia, and Ireland in reading proficiency.

A big part of the reason why Americans are reading less is multimedia. People spend more time on the Internet than with a good book.

A report by Zenith Optimedia revealed that from 2010 to 2015, consumption of online content increased by 105% while printed publications like magazines and newspapers declined by -23% and -31% respectively.

Why Today’s Most Influential Leaders Take The Time To Read A Good Book

If consumption of online content increased by 105%, shouldn’t that translate to higher comprehension levels since it is still a form of reading?

The answer is “Yes”.

And “No”.

Yes, consuming online content improves our knowledge, stimulates cognition, and makes us more learned individuals. However, having information accessible with a tap of a key or a click of a mouse removes a number of powerful attributes that help develop strength of character:

Discipline. Dedication. Self-Motivation.

Reading printed content takes more effort. If the font style is too small, you do not have tools that can increase its size unless you have a magnifying glass. It takes you out of your comfort zone; the computer screen where you can read hands-free and control the viewing experience.

With a hardbound book, you need to hold it between your hands, physically turn the page, and understand its words, paragraphs, and overall content without the convenience of launching a search query.

It takes discipline to remove yourself from the ease and comfort of an online environment. You need to stay dedicated to a reading schedule. Finally, you should be self-motivated to learn and become a better, more knowledgeable person by maintaining a reading schedule.

This is why many of today’s most influential leaders take the time to read a good book.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates makes it a point to read at least 50 books every year. Gates proudly shares his story of bringing a “sack of 50 books” whenever he travels. He successfully got Facebook founder and fellow billionaire, Mark Zuckerberg, to jump on the reading bandwagon. After a slow start, Zuckerberg has resolved to read a new book every two weeks which comes out to 23 to 25 per year.

Dallas Mavericks owner and investor Mark Cuban dedicates at least three hours every day to reading. Phil Knight, the owner of global superbrand Nike, claims to own a massive library whereby visitors are required to remove their shoes before they enter.

Billionaire investor and philanthropist Warren Buffett allocates 80% of his time reading paperbacks and other publications. Media mogul Oprah Winfrey is a strong advocate of reading. She makes monthly recommendations of her favorite books at her popular “Book of the Month” club.

Former NBA coach Phil Jackson, who won multiple championships with the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers, was an avid reader. Jackson noticed that players often lost motivation during the second half of the basketball season. He would handpick books and give them to players whom he felt would identify and find inspiration in its content.

Former United President Barack Obama was known as a voracious reader of books. Obama claimed that during his eight years at the White House, he always found time to read books. For Obama, books were a rich source of ideas and inspiration.

If today’s leaders in business and politics can find time in their busy schedules to read books, why shouldn’t you?

5 Benefits Of Reading

Digital technology has given us e-books that we can read from any mobile device. You can find just about any trade paperback in e-book format right now such as Kindle. Reading remains a pleasurable experience in any format. However, reading a regular book is a different experience altogether.

There are certain smells that trigger emotions and memories. The smell of a newly opened book; of a large bookstore upon entry and of freshly- brewed coffee permeating the air. Those who experienced a day at Barnes and Noble before it was rendered extinct by Amazon, know the feeling of offline reading.

It is this type of experience that drew industry leaders such as Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Elon Musk, and Warren Buffett into starting a reading habit.

There are also other benefits that you can gain from reading. Benefits that will help you find success in your career and as a leader in your industry:

click here to learn more about web design

1. Develops You Into A Better Thinker

A leader stays ahead of the pack. Therefore, you must always be updated with the latest information. Knowing trends and developments in your industry or area of interest will help you make educated decisions before anyone does.

Anne Cunningham who is an Associate Professor in Cognition and Development from the University of California, Berkeley, conducted a study which showed readers were excellent in analyzing information. This allowed frequent book readers to become better decision-makers than non-book readers.

What separates leaders from followers is that they are able to see opportunity while others see only failure.

The fear of risk is comfortably managed because they are able to use their knowledge to weigh costs versus benefits. Before they initiate plans into action, risk management procedures would already be in place.

2. Builds Your People-Skills

Book readers are often unfairly labeled as anti-social or introverts. People think all they do is read books and nothing else. As most leaders will attest, book reading will improve your people or social skills.

A story is a text representation of a world from the eyes and mind of its author. When you read books, you live vicariously through the author’s filter. You see his/her perspective and compare them to yours. It helps you understand and appreciate the opinions of others.

Thus, when you are dealing with your people, you communicate with them with an open mind. Instead of criticizing, you develop empathy. You allow them the opportunity to contribute and generate feedback. Meetings become more productive instead of a venue for argumentation and debate.

3. Stimulates Creativity

Reading stimulates creativity because it encourages your imagination to keep flowing. Words are processed and depicted in imagery in our minds. In some cases, we become challenged by the opinions expressed by the author. How many times have we questioned and criticized the works of an author, yet recommended the book for others to read?

Creativity is an integral component of leadership because it allows you to “think outside the box”. Creativity starts off with a series of questions; of how we can make things better. Sometimes the best solutions are not found in black and white. You might find them in the grayest of areas. Only those with a creative mind can filter out the smoke and find what others cannot see.

4. Strengthens Analytical Skills

Haven’t you experienced reading a sentence or a paragraph, then find yourself going back to try and articulate what you just read. Reading is a constant process of analysis. You are trying to decipher and understand the information provided by the author.

Studies have shown that reading regularly not only makes you smarter but also improves your abstract reasoning skills. It is a cycle that involves receiving and assimilating information.

In business, you frequently encounter situations that require precise decision-making. If you can break down information and process potential scenarios from various courses of action, you will be able to come up with the decision with the most favorable outcome.

5. Reduces Stress Levels And Improves Mental Health

Running a business or putting in the hours at work can be very stressful. The decision-making process itself takes you through several stages of stress; from problem identification to proposing courses of action to risk assessment then finally implementation. Stress can break your mind and body down. It will hamper your ability to lead if both your physical and mental health are compromised.

Reading is an escape. It takes you away from the world you are in and into one that is created by the author. It is a great way to relax and de-stress. Enhance the experience by finding your favorite nook and consume your book with a nice, warm mug of brewed coffee.

Conclusion: How To Build A Reading Habit

Did our article get you interested in starting a book-reading habit? It is not hard to get going once you commit to the idea of reading as a form of self-improvement. Here are some tips to get started:

  1. Overcome Biases – Some people are hesitant to read because they believe it takes away productive time from work. As we have shown you, reading has many benefits. It can make you smarter, more knowledgeable, more creative, and a better analyst. Thus, wouldn’t that make reading a productive activity?
  2. Read A Variety Of Content – It is perfectly fine to start reading topics you are already familiar with. However, once in a while, pick out a topic that is completely new to you. This will make require greater focus and dedication. For Mark Zuckerberg, it was social studies. What topic would take you out of your comfort zone?  
  3. Read To Have Fun – Reading doesn’t have to be an intellectual exercise all the time. Read to relax and have fun. Pick up a book that makes you feel good.

What about you? How many books do you read per month and what are some of your favorite titles? Please feel free to share your reading experiences in the comments section below.

If you want to know how storytelling can be a powerful driver of your marketing content, give us a call or drop us an email. We would be happy to assist you in getting your content seen and read by a wider audience.

learn more about website design with orange banner