“I have a great business idea

Recently, we were speaking to a group of entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs when one of the latter asked a familiar question: “I have a great business idea; how do I get it funded?” We hear this concern frequently from entrepreneurs contemplating a startup. However, we don’t think that a lack of funding is typically the issue — it’s a symptom.

Related: The 10 Most Funded Kickstarter Campaigns Ever

Typically, the issue is that the would-be business owner either doesn’t actually need funding (in spite of what he or she thinks) or doesn’t have a compelling business plan that lays out clearly why prospective investors should plop down their hard-earned funds.

So, here is what we said and continue to say on this issue to prospective entrepreneurs:

You don’t need funding.

Many businesses can be bootstrapped at low cost. That is, they can be self-funded with minimal or no investment. Companies that meet this criteria have the following characteristics:

  • Startup costs and fixed costs are low or nonexistent.
  • Working capital can be kept to a minimum; there is no need to purchase large amounts of inventory or carry huge accounts receivable.
  • Overhead costs are modest. For example, the enterprise can be run out of the entrepreneur’s home; expensive office space, while desirable, isn’t required.
  • Employees either aren’t necessary or can be hired as needed on an hourly basis.
  • Revenue that exceeds variable costs can be generated quickly.

These businesses can be cash-low positive almost from the get-go. We’ve been approached numerous times by people wanting us to invest in these types of startups. And our response to them is always the same: You don’t need funding. You need to sell something. Get started.Demonstrate that there are people willing to pay for the product or service you are offering and that there are enough of them to allow you and your business to thrive.

One caution is that an entrepreneur may have a period of time when he or she won’t get paid and will need a plan for overcoming this lack of cash. But it’s important to know here that eclipsing break-even cash flow on a personal level usually takes twice as long and costs twice as much as you think. So, build a contingency into your thinking.

Concentrate on your business plan.

If the enterprise you wish to launch doesn’t fit the above criteria and you don’t personally have the money to underwrite the venture, you will need to seek funding after all. And here you will need to know the many sources of funding possible — from friends and family members, to private angel investors, to venture capital firms to alternative lenders.

However, one thing that all of these potential sources of funds will (or should) require is a solid business plan.

You can find detailed instructions on how to write a business plan on the web (and we suggest you do this research). However, there are a number of fundamental questions that any good business plan must address:

  • Why should a perspective customer buy your product or service rather than a competitor’s? What makes your offering different, better, worth the price you will charge? What unmet need are you meeting, or what need are you meeting better than the current alternatives?
  • Is there a segment of the market that values the thing that makes your offering different and is it large enough to sustain your business?
  • How will you reach your target segment with your marketing message?
  • What are the barriers to entry in your business? In other words, if you are successful, what will keep others from copying your idea?

Related: How To Write A Business Plan

In addition to addressing these questions, you’ll need a good set of financial projections. The financial projections must clearly show:

  • The economics of your business. You’ll need to lay out:
    • The one-time costs (e.g., equipment costs, etc.)
    • The overhead costs (e.g., rent, utilities, etc.)
    • A positive variable contribution — you can sell the product of service for more than it costs you to deliver it
  • How deep a hole you will dig before you become cash-flow positive and therefore how much money you will need
  • What you are willing to give up to get the funds (e.g., 20 percent of the business)
  • How long it will take for investors to earn back their investment
  • How much investors can expect to make after they have earned back their investment (their “return on investment”)

It’s critical to think about the deal from the investor’s prospective. You must show prospective investors what’s in it for them or they won’t be interested. The tips above are not, nor are they intended to be, comprehensive. However, they will give you a good start and provide a good acid test for any plan you develop. If your business plan doesn’t address these issues, it isn’t sufficient.

As we told the would-be entrepreneur at that meeting, lack of funding for a business isn’t the problem; it’s a symptom. The problem is typically either that your business doesn’t need funding or you don’t have a compelling business plan.

Is Daily Glass of Wine Really Good for You? Myths and Reality

Over the past year, our social media feeds have blown up on more than one occasion overclaims that drinking wine at bedtime could help you drop a few pounds. In fact, this “news” generated so much buzz that urban-legend buster Snopes decided to investigate. Turns out, the majority of coverage was referencing a Daily Mail story that hinged on anecdotal accounts of women claiming that their “nighttime tipple” helped them slim down. But sadly, there was no new groundbreaking report showing that a glass of red before bed was the secret new weight loss weapon we’ve all been dreaming of. So what gives?

We’ve been told over and over that alcohol has no place in a weight loss program. Not only does it provide empty calories, studies confirm that “having a few” tends to zap your inhibition and make you order midnight cheese fries — a phenomenon known as the “drunchies.” Alas, it makes sense to file away the “bedtime wine” idea in the “too good to be true” health research morgue that also houses this seductive headline: “A glass of red wine is the equivalent to an hour at the gym.” Remember that one?

Yet research shows that moderate amounts of Malbec won’t totally derail your weight loss efforts. Here’s what you need to know about your vino habit.

RELATED: How Bad Is Alcohol, Really? 6 Crazy Facts

The Case for Pre-Snooze Booze

We’ve all read that red wine is a healthy part of the Mediterranean Diet — the one that helps you live longer and maintain an enviable BMI. Even lifestyle guru Tim Ferris claimsthat two glasses of wine before bed each night helped him achieve his ripped physique. And recent research in mice showed that resveratrol, an antioxidant in red wine, can help turn regular white fat into energy-burning beige fat, which can contribute to weight loss and prevent obesity (just in case you didn’t know that fat came in different colors).

“Heavy drinking can disturb sleep, but a moderate amount has a sedative effect.”

While you can also get resveratrol in fruits, such as blueberries, lead author Min Du, PhD, professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at Washington State University, explains that the fermentation process of wine makes the antioxidant compounds easier to absorb, which can help accelerate the fat-burning process. Although Du didn’t specifically test the effect of giving resveratrol to the mice at night, he concedes that there might be a metabolic advantageof consuming wine in the wee hours.

When you drink wine with food — whether at lunch, dinner or with a late-night snack — the antioxidant compounds interact with protein in a way that prevents the body from metabolizing them for weight loss. When you consume resveratrol on its own, however, the body is able to absorb the compounds more readily, and thus maximize the burning of beige fat. That said, he stops short of endorsing an unaccompanied glass of bedtime wine as a diet strategy. “I don’t have the data to support it,” he says. “Wine is beneficial to your health, but never use it to control your body weight. It still has calories.” Ahem, 110 to 130 calories per glass, on average.

RELATED: Here’s How Many Calories Are in Your Cocktail 

There’s another way wine might help with weight control. Just the right amount can help people fall asleep more easily, and according to recent studies, adequate slumber is key to keeping off the pounds. “Heavy drinking can disturb sleep, but a moderate amount has a sedative effect,” explains Greg Traversy, a researcher at the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group in Ottawa, Canada who wrote a review paper on research involving alcohol and obesity. “If it’s helping you sleep, then maybe you’re getting the weight management benefits downstream by having more energy to be active and not having the snack munchies the next day,” Traversy says.

Alcohol and Weight Loss: When Wine Backfires

“It’s like it has a special VIP pass to go ahead of other fuels.”

Unfortunately, much to the disappointment of weight-conscious wine lovers everywhere, Traversy didn’t find any studies showing that imbibing will help you shed pounds. Yet he was surprised to find evidence that moderate drinking wasn’t necessarily linked with weight gain. Take this famous Harvardstudy, for example. The research, which was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2010, found that women who drank in moderation (defined as one to two glasses daily) had a lower risk of becoming overweight over 13 years than women who didn’t drink at all. “It’s not clear why,” he says. “It might be because they’re exhibiting moderate behaviors in all areas of life, including weight maintenance.” The study authors pointed out that the moderate drinkers exercised more and ate less food to make room for their alcohol calories.

RELATED: How Bad Is Your Happy Hour? This Alcohol Calculator Tells You

The bad news is that if you drink too much, alcohol interferes with your body’s ability to burn fat. “Alcohol blocks the burning of everything else,” says Marc Hellerstein, MD, PhD, professor of human nutrition at the University of California at Berkeley. “It’s like it has a special VIP pass to go ahead of other fuels.” In other words, if your body is overwhelmed with burning alcohol, your food will be more likely to get stored as fat.

Perhaps this was the secret of late-night wine. By drinking it a few hours after dinner, you give your body a chance to digest it when it won’t have to compete with food. “I’m not convinced,” says Hellerstein. “You’ll burn the alcohol, but not fat.” The bottom line: Pick your wine or weight loss.

According to Our Readers These are The Best Places to Travel for Food

11 Neighborhood Restaurants In Kentucky, With Food So Good You’ll Be Back For Seconds

Sometimes you find the very best food at those neighborhood restaurants in Kentucky. The restaurants that may not look like much from the outside, but inside they have friendly staff and cooks that have mastered their craft. These places have been preparing the same food for years… and making it unbelievably delicious.

These are some of the best places to grab a bite to eat, according to our reader comments. If you love the neighborhood restaurants in Kentucky you might want to check out some of the Mom n Pop diners we’ve covered too!

11 Ways to Make Money While You Sleep

Do you remember in the past we were warned to be careful about being in debt because interest never stopped charging us, interest never slept, never took a day off, never took a holiday. Well the reverse is true, as well.

Is your money making money while you sleep? Does it sound too good to be true? Since we still live in the age of the interest, it’s not that difficult to earn extra money on the side.

With that in mind, here are 11 ways that you can actually earn money while you sleep.

1. Start a blog.

Perhaps the most popular way to earn a passive income is by launching your own blog. It only takes a couple of minutes to setup and is cheap to start – just purchase your domain name and pay for hosting.

After that, start creating amazing content that people would be interested in reading or sharing. For example, if you’re an accountant that has helped small business owners with their taxes, then that could be your blog. I personally have my invoicing blog to help customers know everything there is to know about invoicing. This draws thousands of signups a month.

Make sure the topics you write about are popular. If you still love your pet rock, I doubt there would be enough people visiting your our site to monetize it. But, you never know.

Once you’ve gained a following, you can start making money from of your blog by:

Earning commissions as an affiliate. This is where you push other people’s products or services on your site. Make sure these products or services are relevant to your blog. For example, that accounting blog could become an affiliate for accounting or invoicing software. Once you find an affiliate partner you’ll be given a unique code so that whenever a visitor clicks that link on your site you’ll earn your commission.

Sell-advertising. If you’re site has the traffic to become an affiliate, then it may also be good enough for advertisers to purchase ads on your site. You may start off small, like making under $20 per ad. But, you may eventually be able to charge triple digits. Again, you site must be quality.

Find sponsors. This is slightly different than just selling ads on your site. Sponsorships may be a one-off piece of sponsored content or permanent logo embedded in your footer.

2. Sell your own information product.

If you’re knowledgeable in a certain area, then you can start creating products, such as eBooks or videos, and selling them on your blog. It may take a lot of work to create and market your products, but once all the leg work is over, you can just set back and collect the proceeds.

Related: 7 Speedy Business Tips From NASCAR Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.

3. Earn royalties.

If you’re a talented musician, actor, or author, then you could earn royalties from your work. In other words people will pay you for using your work or creative assets.

If you aren’t talented enough, but still interested in earning royalties, then check out Royalty Exchange. It’s a marketplace where you can buy and sell royalties.

4. Create a membership community.

If you’ve proven yourself to be a authority figure, then you can create a membership community where you pay a monthly fee to receive additional high-quality content and information that’s not available to non-members.

One of my favorite examples is Timothy Sykes who makes more than $100,000 per month in passive income through his membership community which discusses how people can make money in trading penny stocks.

5. Install an autoresponder.

Another common online business model is using autoresponders to sell services, products or memberships. This is where people leave their email address on your site and then they’ll receive an automated email containing the link to download products or quality information you have to offer, as well as follow-up with a series of emails.

You’ll a need service like OptinMonster to make this possible. I also recommend you read this Quick Sprout guide to get started with autoresponders.

6. Flip websites.

If you’ve put in the time and effort in building a website and you have gained a lot of traffic, then you may be able to sell it to an interested party by listing on marketplaces like Flippa. I’ve bought and sold a lot of sites here and made a lot of money.

7. Sell physical products.

Just like with a blogging site, there are several ways to earn a passive income by selling physical products. Probably one of the best known ways is by selling your old junk on eBay. But even if you don’t have anything left to sell you can start drop shopping. This is where you sell products for a company on eBay or Amazon and they’ll take care of the rest – including shipping.

You can also launch your own eCommerce store by using Shopify. They literally give you everything you need to sell products online from a complete online shop to including buy buttons on your social media channels.

Related: 7 Ways to Make Extra Income Even With a Full-Time Job

8. Invest in stocks or shares.

When you invest in stocks you become a stakeholder. That entitles you to a share of their profits. Investing in stocks has been a popular way to earn a passive income for years, and thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever to research and invest in stocks on your own.

Keep in mind that the stocks you invest in can change throughout the various stages of life. For example, I look for investments that can benefit my daughter, such as a CA529 plan that will go towards her college tuition.

9. Peer-to-peer lending.

Companies like LendingClubPropser, and Harmoney have created a new industry where anyone can become a lender. They will then match you with a consumer who either prefers or has trouble securing a loan from a bank. You can earn a higher interest rates on the loans you issued since you’re dealing directly with the borrower.

10. Rent out property.

Thanks to Airbnb, you can rent out your home while on vacation or your vacation home when not in use. You can also rent out your garage, parking space, or unused office space. It’s a nice supplemental income without really doing anything except placing an ad.

Related Book: Moonlighting on the Internet, 2nd Edition by Shelby Larson

11. Hire a middleman.

This is also known as arbitrage and is basically where you have someone else do the work for you. For example, you could start a dog walking service or web design firm, but outsource the actual dog walking or coding to someone else. You’re much better doing anything except being the middleman who is in charge of marketing these services.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Working from Home

 

 

Advantages and disadvantages of employees working at home

The spread of home working is opening up a new range of possibilities for the way businesses can work and structure themselves.

As well as opportunities, home working brings new responsibilities for the employer and employee. For example, flexible-working regulations mean you now have to seriously consider requests to work from home from all employees who have 26 weeks service at the date the application is made.

Advantages of employees working from home

With increasing numbers of employees working at home – or using home as a working base for at least part of the week – it’s clear there are a number of benefits for business, such as:

  • Improved employee retention – home working can help retain working parents with childcare responsibilities.
  • Access to a wider pool of applicants – for example, disabled people who may prefer to work from home.
  • Possible productivity gains – due to fewer interruptions and less commuting time.
  • Increased staff motivation – with reduced stress and sickness levels.
  • Financial benefits – savings on office space and other facilities.
  • Convenience – ability to locate sales staff near clients rather than in your premises.
  • Better work/life balance – employees working from home can lead to improvements in health and well-being.

Disadvantages of employees working from home

There are also some disadvantages to employees working at home, most of these relate to those working from home for all, as opposed to part, of their working week:

  • Difficulty monitoring performance – there could be difficulty managing home workers and monitoring their performance.
  • Performance issues – possible deterioration in employees’ skills and work quality.
  • Cost of working from home – initial costs of training and providing suitable equipment, including adaptations to meet health and safety standards and the needs of disabled employees.
  • Problems with staff development – difficulty of maintaining staff development and upgrading skills.
  • Information security risk – information security problems could be more likely to occur.
  • Increased telecommunications costs – for example, increase in telephone bills or need for a moblie phone.
  • Communication problems – could increase feelings of isolation amongst home workers.
  • Decreased staff morale – it can be harder to maintain team spirit when employees are working at different locations.
  • Not all jobs suit home working – working from home suits some jobs better than others.

A shift towards home working doesn’t mean employees have to work only at home. Oftensplitting time between home and the workplace is the most productive solution and you may want the homeworker to attend meetings to keep them fully involved and informed.

 

Is Coffee Good for You? What It Does to Your Body and Brain

 

 

Colleges and universities are back in session. That means millions of students nationwide are going to be reaching for their favorite study-time stimulant and morning eye-opener. (And no, it’s not Adderall.)

Coffee is still king of the late-night cram session and early morning course schedule. Of course, the drink helps you feel lucid and sharp. (More on that in a minute.) But coffee’s effects on your brain don’t end there. From your memory to your mood, coffee canoodles with your brain and its chemicals in interesting ways.

RELATED: 10 Surprising Facts About Caffeine

How Coffee Perks You Up
Everyone knows caffeine is the stuff in your coffee that keeps you awake and alert—at least for a while. How does it work? It plugs neurochemical receptors in your brain that would normally light up in response to the types of hormones that make you feel tired, shows a study from the U.S. and Italy.

At the same time, by plugging those sleep-triggering receptors, caffeine allows energizing brain chemicals like glutamate and dopamine to circulate more freely. When you feel a buzz from your triple espresso, it’s those two chemicals—not caffeine—that are amping you up, research shows. So think of caffeine as the DJ at a wild party; it’s hanging out off to the side of things and keeping the party going so your brain’s good-time chemicals can rock out.

Coffee, Your Memory, and More
A study from Johns Hopkins University found swallowing the amount of caffeine in one or two cups of coffee boosts a person’s memory for new information by roughly 10 percent. How? Probably in the same ways caffeine keeps you awake and sharp, explains Michael Yassa, Ph.D., co-author of the Johns Hopkins study. Yassa says caffeine might help ramp up the activity of those brain chemicals involved in memory storage.

There’s also some evidence that coffee may strengthen the sense-based information your brain collects. Many studies dating back to the 1970s have found that the amount of caffeine in one to four cups of coffee can heighten your brain’s sensitivity to light and color, as well as sound. This may contribute to caffeine’s memory boosting abilities, the studies hint. (If you’re brain is better at absorbing sensory info, your memories will be sharper, the data suggest.)

Dozens and dozens of research papers have also tied coffee and caffeine to improved decision making, focus, quicker information recall, longer and sharper attention span, and many more brain benefits. Some newer research has even linked coffee consumption to lower rates of age-related brain diseases like dementia.

Coffee and Your Mood
Coffee may help ward off the blues (the serious kind linked to depression). Several research papers have shown the caffeine in coffee may increase the amount and activity of the brain chemical serotonin. Low levels of serotonin have been linked to depression. And this serotonin boost may help explain why a study from the U.K. found people who drink coffee in the morning feel friendlier, happier, and more content.

On the other hand, too much caffeine can heighten your feelings of tension and anxiety, shows a study from Singapore. It can alsocrank up your stress levels if you’re already feeling frazzled. “Too much” depends on how much caffeine your system is used to dealing with, the authors say. So if you’re a two-cup-a-day person, you’d probably have to drink double that amount to feel these negative mood effects. At the same time, if you don’t drink much coffee, smaller doses of caffeine could trigger anxious feelings, the authors say.

 

 

brain-on-coffee-700_0

The Bad News
Multiple studies have shown caffeine is both habit- and tolerance-forming. That means if your brain gets used to your drinking coffee, you may not be able to think clearly or feel sharp if you abandon your brew. You may also have to drink more and more coffee to feel like yourself, research suggests. But the good news? For most people, there are few downsides to drinking up to 24 ounces of coffee a day, concludes a massive review study from Oregon State University.

 

[easy-fans show_total=”0″ hide_title=”1″ columns=”3″ template=”metro” effects=”essbfc-no-effect”]

Whoa, you love reading! Take a moment to join us on social media.

The Most Successful Techniques for Rising Early

just-wake-up-early

Waking early is one of my favorite things in the world. The morning is quiet as the world hasn’t begun stirring, the perfect time for meditation, writing, exercise and some quiet reading.

Waking early can give you an hour or three of extra time for focus and creativity. While you could do those things later in the day, most people don’t (with exceptions of course).

I haven’t written about waking early for awhile, mostly because my waking time is in constant flux. Some months I enjoy rising with the sun, other times I’ll get up early on purpose for awhile and enjoy the extra quiet time.

I’ve learned a thing or two about how to change your wake-up time with joy, and today I’ll share the most successful techniques in my many experimentations.

The Gradual Method

The best method for changing the time you wake up is to do it gradually — 10-15 minutes earlier for 2-4 days, until you feel used to it, and then repeat. If you get up at 8 a.m. normally, don’t suddenly change it to 6 a.m. Try 7:45 a.m. first.

That might seem too slow to most people, and you’re free to disregard this advice. However, in my many experimentations, the most enjoyable and long-lasting change in sleeping schedules have been slow and gradual.

Sudden changes of an hour earlier or more in your waking time are difficult, and not likely to last. If you get up 1-2 hours earlier, on Day 1, then you’ll have a tough time, and not enjoy it. The next day, you’ll have a big sleep deficit, and it’ll be even tougher (assuming you’re able to do it 2 days in a row). Day 3 is even harder. Eventually you either make it through the tough times (it’ll take at least a week of suffering), or you crash and sleep in late and have to start over or you give up.

Sleeping patterns are difficult to change, and so the gradual method works much better. This is true, by the way, of eating habits, exercise habits, clutter habits and more.

3 Steps to Actually Get Up

So you’ve set your alarm for 10-15 minutes earlier than normal, and maybe got through the first few days, then set it another 10-15 minutes earlier, and soon you’re at 30-45 minutes earlier than usual … but now you have the tendency to hit the snooze alarm and stay in bed (sometimes awake) without getting up.

Here’s how to beat that in 3 steps:

  1. Get excited. The night before, think of one thing you’d like to do in the morning that excites you. It could be something you want to write, or a new yoga routine, or meditation, or something you’d like to read, or a work project that’s got you fired up. In the morning, when you wake up, remember that exciting thing, and that will help motivate you to get up.
  2. Jump out of bed. Yes, jump out of bed. With enthusiasm. Jump up and spread your arms wide as if to say, “Yes! I am alive! Ready to tackle the day with open arms and the gusto of a driven maniac.” Seriously, it works.
  3. Put your alarm across the room. If it’s right next to you, you’ll hit the snooze button. So put it on the other side of the room, so you’ll have to get up (or jump up) to turn it off. Then, get into the habit of going straight to the bathroom to pee once you’ve turned it off. Once you’re done peeing, you’re much less likely to go back to bed. At this point, remember your exciting thing. If you didn’t jump out of bed, at least stretch your arms wide and greet the day.

What to Do When You Get Up

First, things not to do with your newfound early-morning time: don’t check email, news, social media, blogs. Don’t waste this new time doing the same thing you always do.

Here are some other things that are better, in my experience:

  1. Drink a glass of water. You’re dehydrated from not drinking any water all night. Drink a full glass of water if you can. It’ll make you feel more awake.
  2. Meditate. Even just for 3 minutes. It’s such a great way to start your day — doing nothing, just sitting, and practicing mindful focus.
  3. Write. Or do some other kind of creating.
  4. Exercise. Go for a walk or a run, or do a home workout. Even just 10 minutes.
  5. Enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. Either one of these makes the morning better.

Sleeping Earlier

You can’t just wake up earlier and not sleep earlier. You’ll eventually crash. So here are some tips for getting to sleep earlier:

  1. Set a bedtime of 7-8.5 hours before you want to wake up. So if you’re waking up at 6 a.m., go to bed between 9:30-11 p.m. Where you are in that time frame depends on how much sleep you need. Most people need about 7.5-8 hours of sleep, though there are lots of variations. I tend to get about 7, but also take a short nap in the afternoons.
  2. Create a bedtime ritual. I like to set up the coffeemaker and clean up a little (it’s nice to wake up to a clean house), then floss & brush my teeth and do a flouride rinse. Then I read myself to sleep.
  3. No computers in bed. That means no laptop, no tablets, no mobile phones. Kindles are OK except the Kindle Fire, which is the same as an iPad. No TV either. Just reading.
  4. Exercise helps a lot earlier in the day. It gets your body nice and tired, so you’ll sleep better. Don’t exercise an hour or less before bed, or you’ll be pumped up. I like a glass of red wine in the evening — it helps relax me and I tend to sleep a bit easier.
  5. Try this method if you have trouble sleeping: close your eyes and get comfortable, then think of the first thing you did that morning — the very first thing, like turning off your alarm. Then think of the next thing, and so on, replaying your morning in as much detail as possible. I never get to mid-morning.

Common Problems

Here are some of the most common problems in my experience and from readers’ questions:

  • Super tired in the morning: If you wake early and just can’t seem to function, that’s fairly normal. My solution is water, move around a lot, and drink a bit of coffee or matcha (powdered greeen tea). I will sometimes take a nap in the afternoon if I’m really tired. Also, it might be a sign that you’re moving too quickly — make sure you’re waking just a little earlier, and stay at one time for a few days until you feel adjusted before setting the alarm a little earlier.
  • Missing out on spouse time: If you are used to spending the evening with your spouse, and going to bed early means you’re missing out on that time, you have a few options. One is to see if your spouse is willing to try getting up early with you, perhaps to meditate or exercise together, or just to have coffee together. That can be really nice. Another is to cut out that together time in the late evening, but find time during the day (if possible), or at least in the early evening and weekends. Finally, you could decide that the together time is too important, and not get up earlier — or compromise and keep most of the evening together time, but wake just 30 minutes earlier.
  • You’re not a morning person: Some people think this but just haven’t given it a try — or they’ve gotten up an hour or two earlier all at once, and hated being so tired. This is why the gradual method is so important — it’s not that you’re not a morning person, it’s just that you tried to change too quickly and are suffering. But finally, it’s true that some people just are better focusing late at night (I have some friends like this) and morning isn’t their thing — and that’s perfectly alright. There’s no need to conform to what others do. I just shared this to show what works for me.

 

[easy-fans show_total=”0″ hide_title=”1″ columns=”3″ template=”metro” effects=”essbfc-no-effect”]

Whoa, you love reading! Take a moment to join us on social media.

 

7 Solutions That Can Save a Relationship

 

It’s the rare couple that doesn’t run into a few bumps in the road. If you recognize ahead of time, though, what those relationship problems might be, you’ll have a much better chance of getting past them.

Even though every relationship has its ups and downs, successful couples have learned how to manage the bumps and keep their love life going, says marriage and family therapist Mitch Temple, author of The Marriage Turnaround. They hang in there, tackle problems, and learn how to work through the complex issues of everyday life. Many do this by reading self-help books and articles, attending seminars, going to counseling, observing other successful couples, or simply using trial and error.

Relationship Problem: Communication

All relationship problems stem from poor communication, according to Elaine Fantle Shimberg, author of Blending Families. “You can’t communicate while you’re checking your BlackBerry, watching TV, or flipping through the sports section,” she says.

Problem-solving strategies:

  • Make an actual appointment with each other, Shimberg says. If you live together, put the cell phones on vibrate, put the kids to bed, and let voicemail pick up your calls.
  • If you can’t “communicate” without raising your voices, go to a public spot like the library, park, or restaurant where you’d be embarrassed if anyone saw you screaming.
  • Set up some rules. Try not to interrupt until your partner is through speaking, or ban phrases such as “You always …” or “You never ….”
  • Use body language to show you’re listening. Don’t doodle, look at your watch, or pick at your nails. Nod so the other person knows you’re getting the message, and rephrase if you need to. For instance, say, “What I hear you saying is that you feel as though you have more chores at home, even though we’re both working.” If you’re right, the other can confirm. If what the other person really meant was, “Hey, you’re a slob and you create more work for me by having to pick up after you,” he or she can say so, but in a nicer way.

Relationship Problem: Sex

Even partners who love each other can be a mismatch, sexually. Mary Jo Fay, author of Please Dear, Not Tonight, says a lack of sexual self-awareness and education worsens these problems. But having sex is one of the last things you should give up, Fay says. “Sex,” she says, “brings us closer together, releases hormones that help our bodies both physically and mentally, and keeps the chemistry of a healthy couple healthy.”

Problem-solving strategies:

  • Plan, plan, plan. Fay suggests making an appointment, but not necessarily at night when everyone is tired. Maybe during the baby’s Saturday afternoon nap or a “before-work quickie.” Ask friends or family to take the kids every other Friday night for a sleepover. “When sex is on the calendar, it increases your anticipation,” Fay says. Changing things up a bit can make sex more fun, too, she says. Why not have sex in the kitchen? Or by the fire? Or standing up in the hallway?
  • Learn what truly turns you and your partner on by each of you coming up with a personal “Sexy List,” suggests California psychotherapist Allison Cohen. Swap the lists and use them to create more scenarios that turn you both on.
  • If your sexual relationship problems can’t be resolved on your own, Fay recommends consulting a qualified sex therapist to help you both address and resolve your issues.
  • Relationship Problem: Money

    Money problems can start even before the wedding vows are exchanged. They can stem, for example, from the expenses of courtship or from the high cost of a wedding. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) recommends that couples who have money woes take a deep breath and have a serious conversation about finances.

    Problem-solving strategies:

    • Be honest about your current financial situation. If things have gone south, continuing the same lifestyle is unrealistic.
    • Don’t approach the subject in the heat of battle. Instead, set aside a time that is convenient and non-threatening for both of you.
    • Acknowledge that one partner may be a saver and one a spender, understand there are benefits to both, and agree to learn from each other’s tendencies.
    • Don’t hide income or debt. Bring financial documents, including a recent credit report, pay stubs, bank statements, insurance policies, debts, and investments to the table.
    • Don’t blame.
    • Construct a joint budget that includes savings.
    • Decide which person will be responsible for paying the monthly bills.
    • Allow each person to have independence by setting aside money to be spent at his or her discretion.
    • Decide upon short-term and long-term goals. It’s OK to have individual goals, but you should have family goals, too.
    • Talk about caring for your parents as they age and how to appropriately plan for their financial needs if needed

 

Relationship Problem: Struggles Over Home Chores
Most partners work outside the home and often at more than one job. So it’s important to fairly divide the labor at home, says Paulette Kouffman-Sherman, author of Dating From the Inside Out.

Problem-solving strategies:

Be organized and clear about your respective jobs in the home, Kouffman-Sherman says. “Write all the jobs down and agree on who does what.” Be fair so no resentment builds.
Be open to other solutions, she says. If you both hate housework, maybe you can spring for a cleaning service. If one of you likes housework, the other partner can do the laundry and the yard. You can be creative and take preferences into account — as long as it feels fair to both of you.
Relationship Problem: Not Making Your Relationship a Priority
If you want to keep your love life going, making your relationship a focal point should not end when you say “I do.” “Relationships lose their luster. So make yours a priority,” says Karen Sherman, author of Marriage Magic! Find It, Keep It, and Make It

Problem-solving strategies:

  • Do the things you used to do when you were first dating: Show appreciation, compliment each other, contact each other through the day, and show interest in each other.
  • Plan date nights. Schedule time together on the calendar just as you would any other important event in your life.
  • Respect one another. Say “thank you,” and “I appreciate…” It lets your partner know that they matter.

Relationship Problem: Conflict

Occasional conflict is a part of life, according to New York-basedpsychologist Susan Silverman. But if you and your partner feel like you’re starring in your own nightmare version of the movie Groundhog Day — i.e. the same lousy situations keep repeating day after day — it’s time to break free of this toxic routine. When you make the effort, you can lessen the anger and take a calm look at underlying issues.

Problem-solving strategies:

You and your partner can learn to argue in a more civil, helpful manner, Silverman says. Make these strategies part of who you are in this relationship.

  • Realize you are not a victim. It is your choice whether you react and how you react.
  • Be honest with yourself. When you’re in the midst of an argument, are your comments geared toward resolving the conflict, or are you looking for payback? If your comments are blaming and hurtful, it’s best to take a deep breath and change your strategy.
  • Change it up. If you continue to respond in the way that’s brought you pain and unhappiness in the past, you can’t expect a different result this time. Just one little shift can make a big difference. If you usually jump right in to defend yourself before your partner is finished speaking, hold off for a few moments. You’ll be surprised at how such a small shift in tempo can change the whole tone of an argument.
  • Give a little; get a lot. Apologize when you’re wrong. Sure it’s tough, but just try it and watch something wonderful happen.

“You can’t control anyone else’s behavior,” Silverman says. “The only one in your charge is you.”

Last.

 

Problem-solving strategies:

  • Do the things you used to do when you were first dating: Show appreciation, compliment each other, contact each other through the day, and show interest in each other.
  • Plan date nights. Schedule time together on the calendar just as you would any other important event in your life.
  • Respect one another. Say “thank you,” and “I appreciate…” It lets your partner know that they matter.

Relationship Problem: Conflict

Occasional conflict is a part of life, according to New York-basedpsychologist Susan Silverman. But if you and your partner feel like you’re starring in your own nightmare version of the movie Groundhog Day — i.e. the same lousy situations keep repeating day after day — it’s time to break free of this toxic routine. When you make the effort, you can lessen the anger and take a calm look at underlying issues.

Problem-solving strategies:

You and your partner can learn to argue in a more civil, helpful manner, Silverman says. Make these strategies part of who you are in this relationship.

  • Realize you are not a victim. It is your choice whether you react and how you react.
  • Be honest with yourself. When you’re in the midst of an argument, are your comments geared toward resolving the conflict, or are you looking for payback? If your comments are blaming and hurtful, it’s best to take a deep breath and change your strategy.
  • Change it up. If you continue to respond in the way that’s brought you pain and unhappiness in the past, you can’t expect a different result this time. Just one little shift can make a big difference. If you usually jump right in to defend yourself before your partner is finished speaking, hold off for a few moments. You’ll be surprised at how such a small shift in tempo can change the whole tone of an argument.
  • Give a little; get a lot. Apologize when you’re wrong. Sure it’s tough, but just try it and watch something wonderful happen.

“You can’t control anyone else’s behavior,” Silverman says. “The only one in your charge is you.”

Relationship Problem: Trust

Trust is a key part of a relationship. Do you see certain things that cause you not to trust your partner? Or do you have unresolved issues that prevent you from trusting others?

Problem-solving strategies:

You and your partner can develop trust in each other by following these tips, Fay says.

  • Be consistent.
  • Be on time.
  • Do what you say you will do.
  • Don’t lie — not even little white lies to your partner or to others.
  • Be fair, even in an argument.
  • Be sensitive to the other’s feelings. You can still disagree, but don’t discount how your partner is feeling.
  • Call when you say you will.
  • Call to say you’ll be home late.
  • Carry your fair share of the workload.
  • Don’t overreact when things go wrong.
  • Never say things you can’t take back.
  • Don’t dig up old wounds.
  • Respect your partner’s boundaries.
  • Don’t be jealous.
  • Be a good listener.

Even though there are always going to be problems in a relationship, Sherman says you both can do things to minimize marriage problems, if not avoid them altogether.

First, be realistic. Thinking your mate will meet all your needs — and will be able to figure them out without your asking — is a Hollywood fantasy. “Ask for what you need directly,” she says.

Next, use humor — learn to let things go and enjoy one another more.

Finally, be willing to work on your relationship and to truly look at what needs to be done. Don’t think that things would be better with someone else. Unless you address problems, the same lack of skills that get in the way now will still be there and still cause problems no matter what relationship you’re in.

Here is Our Collection of Must-Watch Inspirational Videos on Vimeo

 

Every entrepreneur could use a shot of inspiration from time to time. Inspiration can help to fuel you when you’re up against long hours and hard work. Sometimes a great motivational pep talk can be all you need to boost your confidence and move through times of fatigue, challenge or adversity.

One great thing about YouTube is the host of really positive videos that are readily available. Even better than a great quote, a positive video can give you a real boost because it has the added benefit of music and visuals while hearing your heroes in their own words.

After much searching, here are six motivational videos that are a must see for entrepreneurs.

1. Life = Risk

This inspiring compilation is only one minute long, yet runs through many of the failures of some of the most well-known and successful people of history. It might be the shortest of this bunch, but it delivers great insight with every second. It’s all about the benefits of taking risk and the ways in which failures make us human and make us successful. As the tagline at the end of the video says, “If you’ve never failed, you’ve never lived.”

 

2. Be Phenomenal

“Start where you are, with what you have — because what you have right now is plenty!”

This great compilation by Motivation Grid really takes you through a journey to pump you up for greatness. At just over seven minutes, it’s the longest video of the six, but it’s well worth the journey. With a mix of incredible speeches by Les Brown, Eric Thomas and Ray Lewis, be sure you watch this one with a pad and paper because you’re going to want to write down many of the things you hear.

 

3. The Keys to Life: Running and Reading

“The person that works the hardest wins.” — Will Smith

A long-time favorite, this is a two-minute philosophical acceptance speech that Will Smith gave for an award years ago. The simple philosophy from this very successful entrepreneur is that running and reading are the two keys to life.

Smith explains that when you learn to run, you learn to push through the pain and ignore the little voice in your head that tells you to quit when things get hard. Then there’s reading — the key to learning, knowing you’re not alone and expanding you mind. Smith says it best and I highly encourage you to watch his philosophy on the two keys to life.

 

4. How Bad Do You Want It?

“When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.”

A five-minute video that sheds insight into the work, dedication and mental commitment it takes to really achieve true success. You have to want it and you have to work for it. There’s a saying about entrepreneurship that it is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t. You have to transcend your mental blocks if you want to achieve true greatness at your craft and enjoy success.

 

5. I Am First Not Second

This speech lays it all out up front when speaker John Doman says clearly, “I’m not here to tell a joke. I’m here to pick a fight — a fight with second place.”

This video has a little bit of a tough-love start to it, but the speaker’s point is well worth considering — if you’re OK with being runner up, you’re already not looking for success. The five-minute video builds from there with motivating music and words. It’s worth watching when you need a small kick in the pants to get going

6. Passion: The Secret Ingredient to Success

A wonderful compilation of video quotes from some of the most inspiring leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators of our time. It begins with Walt Disney and goes through greats such as Steve Jobs, Charlie Chaplin, Jon Stewart, Michael Jordan and many more. It’s a rare treat!

 

 

 

 

 

10 Ways to Be Happier

 

large

A few years ago, on a morning like any other, I had a sudden realization: I was in danger of wasting my life. As I stared out the rain-spattered window of a New York City bus, I saw that the years were slipping by.

 

“What do I want from life?” I asked myself. “Well…I want to be happy.” I had many reasons to be happy: My husband was the tall, dark, handsome love of my life; we had two delightful girls; I was a writer, living in my favorite city. I had friends; I had my health; I didn’t have to color my hair. But too often I sniped at my husband or the drugstore clerk. I felt dejected after even a minor professional setback. I lost my temper easily. Is that how a happy person would act?

 

I decided on the spot to begin a systematic study of happiness. (A little intense, I know. But that’s the kind of thing that appeals to me.) In the end, I spent a year test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and tips from popular culture. If I followed all the advice, I wanted to know, would it work?

 

Well, the year is over, and I can say: It did. I made myself happier. And along the way I learned a lot about how to be happier. Here are those lessons.

 

1. Don’t start with profundities. When I began my Happiness Project, I realized pretty quickly that, rather than jumping in with lengthy daily meditation or answering deep questions of self-identity, I should start with the basics, like going to sleep at a decent hour and not letting myself get too hungry. Science backs this up; these two factors have a big impact on happiness.

 

2. Do let the sun go down on anger. I had always scrupulously aired every irritation as soon as possible, to make sure I vented all bad feelings before bedtime. Studies show, however, that the notion of anger catharsis is poppycock. Expressing anger related to minor, fleeting annoyances just amplifies bad feelings, while not expressing anger often allows it to dissipate.

 

3. Fake it till you feel it. Feelings follow actions. If I’m feeling low, I deliberately act cheery, and I find myself actually feeling happier. If I’m feeling angry at someone, I do something thoughtful for her and my feelings toward her soften. This strategy is uncannily effective.
4. Realize that anything worth doing is worth doing badly. Challenge and novelty are key elements of happiness. The brain is stimulated by surprise, and successfully dealing with an unexpected situation gives a powerful sense of satisfaction. People who do new things―learn a game, travel to unfamiliar places―are happier than people who stick to familiar activities that they already do well. I often remind myself to “Enjoy the fun of failure” and tackle some daunting goal.
5. Don’t treat the blues with a “treat.” Often the things I choose as “treats” aren’t good for me. The pleasure lasts a minute, but then feelings of guilt and loss of control and other negative consequences deepen the lousiness of the day. While it’s easy to think, I’ll feel good after I have a few glasses of wine…a pint of ice cream…a cigarette…a new pair of jeans, it’s worth pausing to ask whether this will truly make things better.

 

6. Buy some happiness. Our basic psychological needs include feeling loved, secure, and good at what we do. You also want to have a sense of control. Money doesn’t automatically fill these requirements, but it sure can help. I’ve learned to look for ways to spend money to stay in closer contact with my family and friends; to promote my health; to work more efficiently; to eliminate sources of irritation and marital conflict; to support important causes; and to have enlarging experiences. For example, when my sister got married, I splurged on a better digital camera. It was expensive, but it gave me a lot of happiness.

 

7. Don’t insist on the best. There are two types of decision makers. Satisficers (yes, satisficers) make a decision once their criteria are met. When they find the hotel or the pasta sauce that has the qualities they want, they’re satisfied. Maximizers want to make the best possible decision. Even if they see a bicycle or a backpack that meets their requirements, they can’t make a decision until they’ve examined every option. Satisficers tend to be happier than maximizers. Maximizers expend more time and energy reaching decisions, and they’re often anxious about their choices. Sometimes good enough is good enough.

 

8. Exercise to boost energy. I knew, intellectually, that this worked, but how often have I told myself, “I’m just too tired to go to the gym”? Exercise is one of the most dependable mood-boosters. Even a 10-minute walk can brighten my outlook.
9. Stop nagging. I knew my nagging wasn’t working particularly well, but I figured that if I stopped, my husband would never do a thing around the house. Wrong. If anything, more work got done. Plus, I got a surprisingly big happiness boost from quitting nagging. I hadn’t realized how shrewish and angry I had felt as a result of speaking like that. I replaced nagging with the following persuasive tools: wordless hints (for example, leaving a new lightbulb on the counter); using just one word (saying “Milk!” instead of talking on and on); not insisting that something be done on my schedule; and, most effective of all, doing a task myself. Why did I get to set the assignments?

 

10. Take action. Some people assume happiness is mostly a matter of inborn temperament: You’re born an Eeyore or a Tigger, and that’s that. Although it’s true that genetics play a big role, about 40 percent of your happiness level is within your control. Taking time to reflect, and making conscious steps to make your life happier, really does work. So use these tips to start your own Happiness Project. I promise it won’t take you a whole year.