Small business blog posts we liked this week

From sales forecasting strategy to the behavioural science behind flexible work hours, we found some highly informative and inspirational business articles this week. Enjoy!

Did you discover an enjoyable small business article or blog post this week? Let us know about it!

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How has your lifestyle changed since becoming an entrepreneur?

Starting your own business – diving into the world of entrepreneurship – is rarely an uneventful ride. No matter what kind of entrepreneurship journey you’re on, we bet your life just feels different than it did before. With that theory in mind, we polled some entrepreneurs on our Facebook and Twitter pages and asked them how their lifestyle has changed since becoming an entrepreneur. Here are some of their answers.

“I care more about absolutely everything. My family, business, fitness, social interactions, etc.” – OD

“I’ve understood the value in my own skills and dreams. I’m much more confident than I used to be.” – SM

“I’m more observant of the world around me. I enjoy meeting people more than I did when I was working for a paycheque, hearing their stories, learning from them; everything is just a little more meaningful than before. Of course, I’m also more grateful for what I have – the long hard days of start-up have made me appreciate time off and positive cash flow more than when I was working.” – LR

“My priorities have fallen into place – I now understand what it means to work hard and relax hard. After sometimes crazy days at work, the free time I have is spent doing only what I truly love, with my favourite people.” – MI

What about you? How has entrepreneurship changed you?

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Stress-relieving tips for entrepreneurs

No matter how large or busy your small business is, you’ve likely experienced even a little bit of entrepreneurial stress. And in case you’ve managed to ignore the advice of your family, friends and doctor, here are some ways you can relieve a bit of the stress that goes hand-in-hand with running a small business.

  • No more eating at your desk. Yes, wolfing down a peanut butter and jelly sandwich while reviewing your expense reports is more productive, but it’s also not at all relaxing. You may feel you don’t have enough hours in the day, but you’d be amazed at how much smoother your brain will work by enjoying your lunch in a different room or even outside. While you’re at it, why not go completely nuts and spend your lunch hour with some colleagues? Humans are social beings, after all.
  • Delegate more. Even the most well-balanced organization can stand to review its employees’ workloads from time to time. Many entrepreneurs are protective of their small businesses – they’re the ones that gave birth to it! However, you may already have a sneaking suspicion that you can’t (or don’t want to) do it all. What can you offload onto another, trusted, member of your team? What can you ask someone to work on with you for a while? We don’t want you to have nothing to do all day, but if you notice that you’re the only one running around in a frenzy, it might be time to evaluate how many tasks you’ve been giving yourself.
  • Make your workplace less stressful. Even if you’re a relaxed, my-door-is-always-open kind of manager, there are probably things you can do to reduce workplace stress. Talk to your employees and see where their satisfaction levels are. Acknowledge employees’ achievements (publicly or privately – it’s up to you). Encourage your team members to take a short break in their days to recharge and maybe creatively brainstorm new ideas for their work. Foster environments of group collaboration and organize employee events. Make your workplace as physically comfortable and inviting as possible (while still looking like a workplace, of course).
  • Bring your work home with you. No, we don’t mean literally, but when someone asks how your day was – tell them. You don’t have to get into specifics, but going over key events of your day and how you managed them or how they made you feel is immensely satisfying. Your loved ones ask because they care about you, so talk it out.
  • Stretch and move. Many entrepreneurs – especially those with desk jobs or who undertake repetitive tasks – understand all too well the need to get up and move around from time to time. If you don’t, you could end up with hunched posture, sore joints and lovely assorted aches and pains. The good news is you don’t need to invest too much time in stretching and moving to get the benefits. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety recommends a break for 5-10 minutes for every hour you’re working. Check out their website for specific tips and stretches.
  • Take a vacation. There’s no honour in burning out. No matter whether you run a home-based sole proprietorship or are the manager of a good-sized team, you should take at least a long weekend off every now and then (and it might go without saying that we want you to take a real vacation sometimes too!). Many entrepreneurs start their own businesses for the freedom of setting their own hours, so do it! Make sure to give your clients or customers enough notice and leave the business, if necessary, in the hands of someone you trust. Let this person know your contact info for emergencies, but resist the urge to “check in” when you’re off the clock.

What stress-relieving tips for entrepreneurs do you have? Let us know!

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Tip of the Month: Working from Home

It sounds like the holy grail of employment options. Whether you’re working from home one or two days a week or self-employed with a home based business, working from the house sounds appealing for most people. Think about it. There’s no commute, you’ll save time and gas money, you don’t need to get dressed up, you can get the laundry done – what’s not to love?

Check out a few tips about working from home to help you decide if it works for you, and make the most of it.

Set some office hours. Just like you show up for work at the same time every day and leave at the same time every day, plan to do this when you work from home. Of course one of the bonuses of working from home is that these office hours are more flexible, but if you don’t plan to work, it won’t get done.

Likewise if you don’t plan an end time, you may keep working until you have everything done. The catch for most entrepreneurs is that the to-do list will keep on growing. Making time for family, friends and creative pursuits is important for yourself, which makes it important for your business too.

Leave your personal life in the living room and your work life in the office space. Keeping your work life and personal life separate is tricky when you work from home. Setting some physical boundaries for different activities can help.

Think about communication. How will you communicate for your business?  Email, telephone and online communication like Skype can make it possible for you to work nearly anywhere, but there is no substitute for face to face communication. Make a point to get out of your house and talk to people for work whenever you can. This will help you avoid pouncing on your significant other when they come home from work in an effort to connect with a live human being. Trust me – they’ll appreciate it if you take a walk over to the coffee shop and chat up the barista sometime before the end of the work day!

Setting up a strategy to manage your tasks, time, and communication will help you with a smooth transition into working from home, along with boosting your productivity. Like anything in business, plan for success!

Have you got any tips for working from home? We’d love to hear them!

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