Launching Your Business in 2019? Consider These 5 Tips

By Young Entrepreneur Council

If your New Year’s resolution is to launch a business, then keep reading. More and more people want to ditch their 9-to-5s and take control of their futures by starting their own businesses.

But starting a business isn’t easy. It doesn’t matter whether you want to start a small business from your spare room or create the next multimillion-dollar global phenomenon — if you’re not prepared, your business won’t succeed. Luckily, though, there are a number of tips you can adopt that will make the likelihood of your success that much greater.

If you’re launching your business in 2019, here are my tips for success.

1. Stop aiming for perfection.

When launching a new business, it’s natural to want everything to go smoothly. But if you want to be triumphant, you must let go of your perfectionist tendencies. While you might think that being a perfectionist will be beneficial to your new endeavor by making you more motivated and pushing you to strive for success, that’s not always the case. In fact, as reported by Harvard Business Review, perfectionists have higher levels of stress, burnout, anxiety, and depression.

Stop aiming for perfection. When starting a new business, you’re bound to experience bumps in the road. If you expect them to happen, you’ll be better prepared. Mistakes don’t make you a failure — they help you learn and become a more successful entrepreneur when you overcome them.

2. Build a support system.

Building a business is difficult and you can’t do it alone. And I don’t just mean financially. Having a support system in place when you dive into your new business venture will make all the difference. If you think you already have a support system — after all, your parents and your spouse are supportive of your business — that’s great. But you also need to need to surround yourself with people who understand what you’re going through.

If you don’t have that type of support system yet, build it. Start networking with other local business owners in your area or get online and join some LinkedIn or Facebook groups for entrepreneurs.

Plus, according to Psychology Today, being a part of a group is motivating and increases feelings of warmth. This can be incredibly beneficial to you on the rocky road to starting a business.

3. Think about the long term, not just day to day.

As reported by the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, only about 50 percent of small businesses survive five years or longer. This statistic can typically be attributed to business owners getting caught up in the day-to-day minutia of the business.

Make sure to take some time each week to think about the long-term health of your business. Think about the goals you’ve set and how you’ll get there. Do you need to invest in marketing or employee development and training, for instance? Planning for the future will help ensure that your business is around for a long time.

4. Grow your skills.

As a business owner, you never stop learning. You may be starting a business because you have a lot of knowledge and experience in a field, but running a successful business requires a wide variety of skills and expertise. So, as a new business owner, you’ll need to be a jack or jill of all trades.

Spend some time growing your expertise in marketing, writing, SEO, bookkeeping, sales, general management, etc., to develop a well-rounded entrepreneurial skill set. There are a number of free resources online that can help you boost your skills. For example, HubSpot offers free courses on SEO, content marketing and more.

5. Start small.

Your biggest dream might be for your business to become a multimillion-dollar enterprise overnight, but that probably won’t be your reality — at least not immediately. Many new business owners try to do too much too soon because they think it’ll bring them success faster, but it won’t. Instead, start small and grow.

Starting small might mean bootstrapping your startup instead of trying to get a bunch of funding right out of the gate. It also might mean releasing one product or service first and getting some traction and experience instead of trying to put out an entire catalog of offerings. Starting small and giving your business time to grow will make things easier to manage.

Over to you.

Now that you’re more prepared for starting your own business, what are you waiting for? 2019 is yours for the taking. With these easy-to-follow tips, you can ensure that this year will be the year your entrepreneurial dreams come true.

This article was first published at Inc

Change the Way You Think About Your Business With These 6 Thought Exercises

By David Finkel

Many entrepreneurs have taken to wearing the same thing day in and day out to reduce decision fatigue and free up their time to focus on more important matters. Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, and the late Steve Jobs all believed in minimalist wardrobes. And while I agree the concept is a sound one, I want to challenge the idea a bit and encourage you as a business owner to mix things up, even if it’s only metaphorically.

Here at Maui Mastermind, we often teach our mastermind groups about the power of the six hats, and I want to share the concept with you today.

What Is a Hat?

In this context, a hat is not a physical piece of clothing but a state of mind. It is a tool that can be used to push the boundaries of thinking and help you grow as a group and as leaders. There are six different types of hats:

  • White Hat: The Professor or Thinker Mode. Focus: Exclusively on the objective facts, information and data without any interpretation or “story.”
  • Red Hat: The Emotional/Intuitive Hat. Focus: Exclusively on feelings, emotions, and intuition.
  • Black Hat: Your Bodyguard. Focus: Exclusively on what is wrong or could go wrong.
  • Yellow Hat: The Enthused Champion. Focus: Exclusively on how to make an idea work and looking for what’s good about a specific situation.
  • Green Hat: Your Creative Genius. Focus: Exclusively on new ideas and creating possibilities and new combinations and mixtures.
  • Blue Hat: The Organizing Hat. Focus: Exclusively on the thinking process itself and how we are recording, organizing, harnessing, and putting to work the thinking we are doing.

What Are the Benefits of the Hats?
In our mastermind group, we regularly sit down together as a team and put on a different hat. We will discuss what hat we are going to wear and explain the ground rules before sharing our ideas.

This exercise has many benefits:

  • It lets people play and relax into the fun of the hat in question.
  • It reduces people’s perceived risk in contributing to the group and helps them feel safer playing a role that they put on…it’s not “them,” only a hat they are wearing.
  • It helps people avoid arguments, which is rarely needed in masterminding and almost always detrimental and destructive. Now you can simply note all sides in parallel and move forward in your masterminding. In the rare case in which you need to choose, you lay out the map and eventually let your red hat choose.
  • It simplifies the thinking process. Rather than use all thinking styles all at once in a great big muddle, you can break out the parts and really flesh out the ideas.
  • It helps people switch thinking patterns and avoid thinking ruts.

Three Final Tips to Harness the Power of the Hats
Remember, the hats are about direction, not description…. They are about influencing the way you are behaving and thinking, not a label you put on your thinking in retrospect.

When you use a hat, make sure everyone wears the same hat at the same time (the only exception is if you want to keep a facilitator wearing the blue hat).

The hats are tools. You don’t need them all the time. You use them when you want and put them away when they become too much. Avoid living in any one particular hat.

In upcoming articles, I will dive into the differences between the six hats in greater detail.

This article was first published at Inc

How to Figure Out What’s Holding Your Company Back (And Push Past It)

By Ami Kassar

A significant part of that process should include taking the time to understand what is limiting the growth of your company. And because there are different constraints at various points in time, this is an exercise best done at regular intervals.

Every business has a constraint. It could be analytics, operations, marketing, sales or any one of multiple drivers that are slowing you down. And sometimes in the day to day grind of running our business, we lose sight of working on this restraint. We get stuck in our habits and accept our day to day grind as the norm.

Unless you understand your constraints and develop a strategy to handle them, you will always be a slave to it.

When I started my business, everything was a constraint. And over time we built processes and systems, the challenge became to find quality customers that we could help.

And then I became a popular speaker. I’ve had great success marketing my business by speaking to small CEO groups of 10 to 12 business owners around the country — probably 90 percent of my speaking appearances.

It worked: I’ve been able to develop my business and increase my name recognition around the United States.

But I confess that I got lazy. I accepted it as a norm that I would spend one day in Omaha, the next day in Dallas, and the next day in Los Angeles. I got into a rhythm. The constraint of our company became my complacency.

As I mentioned, things change. While it was okay for me early in my company’s life cycle to slowly build a name, I’m way past that point now. Not that I’m a financial conglomerate or a nationally prominent commentator, but my business is on sound ground, I’ve published a book and have developed at least a little bit of cachet.

Fortunately for me (although I didn’t know it at the time) I had a disagreement with the CEO groups parent company and am no longer speaking before the organization’s groups.

Since then, I’ve realized that I’ve been passing up opportunities to speak to much larger groups, as well as other opportunities to market my company. Not only are these new opportunities, but I’ve been invigorated, too.

A change will do you good.

In college, one of the first things I learned (and one of the few things I still remember) is that most conflicts throughout history are the result of old ideas clashing with new ones – in other words, change. In general, people don’t like change, especially if they’re comfortable with their current situation.

I’m the perfect example. It was comfortable speaking to small groups. In the process, I was passing up more significant opportunities.

Change can be a good thing. People like to talk about the good old days, but were they that good? For example, cars from the 1950s and 1960s are always fondly remembered, but anyone who drove them can attest to their poor handling, terrible gas mileage, frequent rusting and suspect durability.

You certainly don’t want to run your business like it’s still the 1950s or 1960s (or the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s or 2000s for that matter). That’s why you always need to be looking ahead – and to do that you have to figure out the constraints that keep you from reaching the next level.

Remember that it never hurts to be bold and look to get better. So what is your constraint and what is your plan to address it?

This article was first published at Inc

How to Strengthen Your Company From Within by Volunteering

By Tanya Hall

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” This quote from David Viscott may ring true for many of you on a personal level, though in the business world, giving anything away (time, earnings, or otherwise) may not mesh with your profit-driven nature.

However, incorporating volunteerism into your company culture will certainly reinforce its deserved role in your company’s overall values and esprit de corps.

For the business owner or executive with bottom-line responsibility, office-wide volunteerism may feel like a frivolous waste of valuable company resources and billable hours. Certainly, having half (or all) of the office off the clock for any portion of the day is a direct hit to the bottom line.

But if we look past hourly billings and productivity reports and consider overall culture, the cost to replace employees, the strength of a tight and collaborative team, and the fulfillment that comes along with volunteering, the business case for carving out dedicated time for volunteerism becomes clear cut. Here are a few benefits to consider:

Connection

Company-wide volunteer efforts allow your team to interact and connect with other employees who they may not often work with in the course of regular business. The personal connections that are forged during volunteer efforts create lasting bonds that build interdepartmental relationships and general camaraderie. The respect and human connection from that bonding will positively impact future collaboration, problem-solving, and crisis management.

Values

Identifying volunteer efforts that are aligned with company values helps to reinforce the all-important purpose of why the team shows up each day. This is especially important for employees in roles that focus on a micro-aspect of the bigger picture, so that they are reminded of the bigger “why” around company purpose. For example, here at Greenleaf Book Group, we might choose to support the local public library by volunteering to clean and re-shelve books, reminding everyone on staff, from the receptionist to the technology team, of the value of making knowledge and growth available.

Career Advancement

Your team cares about career advancement and anything that helps to make their résumés a bit shinier. This can be a hard pill to swallow for a leader–you don’t want them to focus on the next step towards leaving! But realistically, career advancement is important, and even if you can’t promise an outcome, you’ll come out ahead if you can help boost your employees’ overall chances of demonstrating growth and contribution.

Volunteerism on a résumé is a strong indicator of someone who walks their talk. Your staff will value this résumé booster and will likely show more loyalty to you because of it.

New Skills

Certain volunteer opportunities can open a door for your staff to learn new skills that make them more valuable on your team. For instance, a volunteer role that requires someone with no management skills to oversee a project or launch can provide an experience for them to develop in that area, if it’s attractive to them. That experience may help them gain clarity around their future development goals without you having to take a risk on it in the day-to-day operations of your company.

Recruitment and Fulfillment

Getting out of the office to do something completely different is generally welcomed as a fulfilling benefit for your team. Breaking monotony, trying new things, doing work with purpose, and feeling like a part of a greater goal is important to any employee’s satisfaction. If you can’t compete on salary, offering up a culture ripe with the opportunity to give back may be the tipping point required to recruit the talent you need.

A company-wide volunteerism program may look like a waste of resources at first glance, but once you quantify the value of the benefits outlined above, it’s clear that giving back transcends the bottom line to create an environment of dedicated, purpose-driven teams supported by strong interpersonal connections.

Whether you think your culture is strong or in need of repair, consider the benefits of volunteerism and how you might use it to build a culture that is fulfilled, aligned, committed, and productive.

This article was first published at Inc

Want to Truly Make Your Mark on the World? Start by Following These 5 Principles

By Danielle Sacks

C.J. Walker, the daughter of slaves, would not have become the first self-made female millionaire in America had she not traveled around the country training thousands of black women how to apply and sell her hair concoction. Anthropologists would never have had the insights we now know about primates had not a young British woman named Jane Goodall ventured to Africa to develop her own system of communicating with chimpanzees, despite being scoffed at by academics. And Spanx wouldn’t be a staple of millions of women’s wardrobes had Sara Blakely–who sold fax machines door to door at the time–not tried to mass produce a pair of pantyhose she hacked on her way to a party.

These and other iconic stories of fearlessness are chronicled by Jean Case in her new book Be Fearless: 5 Principles for a Life of Breakthroughs and Purpose (Simon & Schuster, 2019). On Saturday, during a lively discussion at the Inc. Founders House in Austin, Case–the chairman of the National Geographic Society and CEO of the Case Foundation, which she started in 1997 with her husband, AOL co-founder Steve Case–discussed why facing fear is critical for anyone looking to make a difference in the world. The Founders House is the inaugural event of Inc.’s Founders Project, an initiative pairing prominent mentors with early-stage entrepreneurs.

The findings revealed in Be Fearless, Case explained, are a result of research her foundation commissioned six years ago to examine the core qualities of change-makers and entrepreneurs. “I’ve traveled to remote villages and big cities, and something you find in all these places is that they have great ideas about how to make the world a better place,” she told interviewer Elizabeth Gore, who runs Alice, an entrepreneur platform in which Case is an investor. “We wondered why some people take those ideas and do something breakthrough, and other people don’t.”

In her remarks, Case outlined the principles entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, or anyone trying to effect change needs to embrace:

1. Make a big bet

“Don’t aim for incremental change, aim high,” said Case, who joined AOL when only 3 percent of people were online, typically for only one hour a week. “Our goal was to democratize access to ideas and information and communication for everyone.”

2. Be bold, take risks

“It’s impossible to do a breakthrough idea without talking risks,” Case said. “The bottom line is, it never stops.” National Geographic, she explained, is a 131-year-old nonprofit, but “we constantly have to look at where do we go next.” The organization is constantly reinventing itself, she said, pointing to its now 100 million-plus Instagram followers and recent Oscar win for the documentary Free Solo.

3. Make your failures matter

Case revealed that AOL was born out of failure. In its first iteration, she explained, it was a startup that built a brand called AppleLink for Apple. “We weren’t scaling, and Apple called up and said, ‘We want a divorce. We’re ending our partnership,'” she said. “It was an existential moment–a dark, dark moment.” But what emerged from that failure? The small team managed to get a $3 million “divorce settlement” from Apple, which they then used to start building AOL into what it would eventually become.

4. Reach beyond your bubble

“I think we get caught up in a myth in America. We’re enthralled with the idea of the lone genius in the garage,” Case said. “But the fact of the matter is that that’s not how stuff has broken through. It’s broken through with teams.” She pointed to the early days of the tech industry when talent was dispersed around the country, and collaboration between people from all walks of life was necessary. She encouraged new tech founders to return to those roots. “Reaching beyond your bubble means diverse teams break through,” she said. “People with different backgrounds and skill sets. If you’re looking at an opportunity or challenge and you have five ways to look at it versus one, you’ll see each other’s blind spots.”

5. Let urgency conquer fear

“With the pace of change, you constantly have to disrupt yourselves,” Case said, offering Kodak as a cautionary example of a company that neglected to do so. Kodak’s engineers discovered digital photography, she explained, yet the company was too worried it would cannibalize its own film business, which at the time dominated 80 percent of the market. Instead, “others discovered the same thing, ate up their market share, digital totally overtook film, and they filed Chapter 11.” She urged entrepreneurs to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to them, especially when they get pressure from their boards. “Too much board conversation is based on risk mitigation, not [asking], ‘What risks should we take?'”

This article was first published at Inc

The 1 Temptation Every Founder Needs to Resist

By Kevin J. Ryan

The idea of growing your company’s product line can be very tempting. But sometimes, you need to tap the brakes.

That’s the advice offered by Carey Smith, the founder of Big Ass Solutions, at the Inc. Founders House on Monday. Smith founded his company–initially called Big Ass Fans–in 1999 as a manufacturer of ceiling fans for industrial spaces. The startup later expanded into other products such as lights and residential fans, and revenue climbed, reaching $240 million in 2016. The following year, Smith sold the company to private equity firm Lindsay Goldberg for $500 million.

Despite that success, Smith advised resisting the common urge to quickly roll out new offerings. “Everybody has it, because you’re afraid you’re going to miss something,” he said. “I hate to say ‘slow down’–but you need to step back and take a look” at the market.

Smith was joined on stage by Chris Anderson, founder of pool furniture maker Ledge Lounger, whom he will be advising as part of the Inc. Founders Project, which pairs early-stage entrepreneurs with established mentors. Since founding his startup in 2009, Anderson has expanded from underwater chairs to products like deck furniture and cabanas.

“You have to be very careful at this juncture,” Smith told him. “It’s easy to overdo it.”

Smith admitted Big Ass Solutions looked at some markets way outside of its natural sphere, ranging from robotics to yogurt. The company never strayed that far, but it did release several products that failed to catch on with consumers.

A good way to avoid that problem, Smith said, is to do your homework. While proper market research could take several weeks and thousands of dollars, that’s less costly than creating something that bombs. “It could take you a year to develop a product,” he said. “We developed products that didn’t go anywhere, because it turned out people just didn’t understand them.”

And if you need help coming up with ideas in the first place, remember you have a valuable resource available: your own customers. It’s wise to talk to them about what kinds of products they crave.

“Not because you need to make everything they want,” Smith said, “but to get into their brains.

This article was first published at Inc

The Good News About How Much Money You Need to Start Your Business

By Maria Aspan

So you want to start a business. You’ve got the idea, you’re ready to hustle, but how much money do you need to launch your startup?

The good news: Probably not as much as you think. Ten years ago, the average cost of starting a small business was $31,150, according to one study. But that seems laughably large today: While some businesses still require lots of money to get off the ground, at Inc., we regularly hear from founders of fast-growing companies who started their businesses for hundreds, not thousands, of dollars.

“Today a smart entrepreneur with a website can start making in six months what we were making after six years,” says Bert Jacobs, co-founder of the apparel company Life Is Good.

Technology’s rapid advance is bringing down many startup costs, as Jacobs points out. He and his brother John launched the first iteration of their company in 1989, with $200 borrowed from another brother, Allan. The early days were scrappy, to say the least, as Jacobs told Inc.’s Leigh Buchanan in 2015:

We would have used that technology if we’d had it. Instead, we spent years building a company with employees we met at pickup basketball games; customers we joked with in the streets while keeping one eye peeled for the beat cop; and advice from retailers up and down the East Coast whom we dropped in on. It may not have been the most effective process. Definitely it wasn’t the most efficient. But a lot of our company’s values came out of that early need to do things cheap and in person.

Life Is Good now sells $100 million worth of apparel every year. And there are parts of Jacobs’s experience, especially the grit and patience, that remain relevant today.

If you’re dreaming of starting a business that could someday rival his success, you don’t necessarily have to spend money in the same ways. Today’s large ecosystem of tech services — what we at Inc. call the “instant startup kit” — can help you get your startup off the ground cheaply and quickly, as I reported in 2016:

Websites, billing, payment processing, cloud computing, communications, funding–all have been made simpler by the likes of Squarespace, Slack, Kickstarter, Dropbox, Amazon’s ubiquitous Web services division, and PayPal. … In the past ten years, these building blocks have greatly reduced the time–and cost–involved to start a business, especially high-tech ones. Thanks to “the emergence of the internet, open-source software, cloud computing, and other trends,” some experts estimate tech-reliant ideas “that would have cost $5 million to set up a decade ago can be done for under $50,000 today,” according to a 2014 paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Good news: You probably don’t need $5 million to start your business. You might not need $50,000 or $30,000. In fact, you might not even need half of that: In 2018, 42 percent of Inc. 5000 CEOs responding to our annual survey said they used under $5,000 to launch their businesses. A combined 21 percent said they used between $5,000 and $25,000.

The amount of money you need will vary depending on several factors, including what kind of business you want to start: What are you selling, and is it a product or a service?

Product-based businesses tend to be more expensive to launch. If you’re making T-shirts or baking cupcakes or designing mobile apps, you’ll need the raw materials to create your product, the equipment for the production, the people to perform the manufacturing or baking or coding, and the space to do the work.

Planning on doing it all yourself, at least at the start? Remember that you’ll also need to spend time actually selling your product and marketing it so you’ll have customers interested in buying it.

Service-based businesses are, in many ways, a lot easier and cheaper to launch, particularly if you already have industry expertise and contacts. If you’re a lawyer or an accountant or a digital marketing expert or have any other specialized business experience, you have the product (your expertise) and, potentially, the market.

You can start selling your services on your own to people and companies that may be familiar with you and your work. You don’t have to hire anyone else, at least at first. You don’t necessarily have to spend more money on office space, as long as you can work out of your home. And ideally, you don’t have to spend as much time marketing your services.

The downside: It may eventually be more expensive and complicated to scale your business, since your growth will depend on figuring out how to transfer your knowledge to other people.

Other factors that will determine how much money you’ll need to launch your business include how many people you need; where you’re starting your business, and how much space you need; how quickly you need to get your product or service to market; and finally, how long you can afford to live without a salary. Once you’ve answered these questions, you can take the next step and start to scrape together the money to get your business off the ground.

This article was first published at Inc

Clarisse Iribagiza is at the fore-front of Rwanda’s booming tech scene

BY BOLA JOHNSON

Clarisse Iribagiza is another torch bearer for the new crop of trail blazing female tech entrepreneurs in Rwanda and Africa in general. She has also made it her agenda to inspire the next generation of techies. She has broken several barriers taking her company HeHe Limited to the very top of Rwanda’s information technology industry.

The mobile technology company has been successful enough to set Clarisse apart as a major voice in Rwanda’s fast emerging tech scene.

In 2015, African entrepreneurs making noticeable strides in the tech industry were invited to speak at the sixth annual Pakasa Forum organised by Vision Group. The event was organised as Vision Group’s effort to inspire Ugandan entrepreneurs by exposing them to stories of individuals with interesting success stories. The speakers’ stories would also provide actionable insights into mindset change, personal responsibility to success, and hard work, as it concerns entrepreneurial success. Attendees from within Uganda and East Africa were especially impressed and motivated by Clarisse Iribagiza’s story as she laid out her entrepreneurial journey.

Her early influences were her parents. Born to a teacher and an entrepreneur, she and her siblings were taught to pursue impactful and meaningful careers which prepared them largely for the future .

She started to develop the idea for her business during her days studying computer engineering at the University of Rwanda’s College of Science and Technology. The idea came after she participated in a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) incubation programme. She was able put puzzle pieces together, relating what she was learning in school with its application in the real world.

Clarisse Iribagiza eventually setup HeHe Labs in 2010. Since its inception she has been able to work creatively with young, enthusiastic individuals to build mobile information systems and research significant mobile technologies for Africa. HeHe Limited now provides top notch solutions for businesses and organisations alike. Using information systems, the company has been to help these businesses reach their audiences faster and more conveniently.

Iribagiza says the company’s greatest success is not just building systems that have enhanced operational efficiency for a number of organisations across Africa but the creation of a research arm that trains and inspires hundreds of Rwandan youths to be major players in Africa’s technology revolution.

The company has also gone on to create programmes for about 80 Small and medium enterprises to enable them interact with their customers in different locations at the same time, all through HeHe.com. Additionally, Clarisse’ team built a platform where girls could send in questions about challenges they were facing and get almost instant responses.

Together with other budding young ICT entrepreneurs, she launched an initiative called iHills. The program provides mentoring as well finance to startups in and around Rwanda.

Italian think tank, LSDP (Lo Spazio Della Politica), named her among its top 100 global thinkers in 2014. She was nominated among Africa’s most promising young entrepreneurs under 30 by Forbes magazine in 2015. In 2013 she was also awarded the Celebrating Young Rwandan Achievers (CYRWA) award by the Imbuto Foundation. The initiative was founded by Rwanda’s First Lady, Jeanette Kagame, an initiative started to provide welfare and healthcare to vulnerable people in Rwanda.

Clarisse has expressed her desire to innovate and develop technologies that would impact Africa positively in the future. The focus of the research arm at HeHe for the future is to collaborate with young innovators across Africa to come up with inventions that fit perfectly into the African structure and can improve various parts of the spectrum.

Source CPAFRICA

6 Life Lessons We Can Learn from “Missed” Opportunities

Negative circumstances can spark the personal growth and success we deserve.

By Marina Khidekel

Missed opportunities often end up being the course corrections we need in our lives. Many of us have had disappointments — say, rejections from top-choice schools and “dream” jobs — turn out to be the best thing that could have happened in our careers.

Mollie West Duffy, co-author of the book No Hard Feelings, recently told The New York Times about how actively processing our feelings is the crucial first step to reframing negative feelings into positive action when things don’t work out the way we’d initially hoped.

Recalling the instance when was she rejected from her first-choice business school years ago, she told the publication, “I realized that in the process of not getting what I wanted, I had this deep self-reflection about what actually motivated me and what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,” she said. “Looking at the roles that I would’ve had if I had gone to business school, I don’t think I would’ve been happy in them.”

We asked members of the Thrive Global community to share the best lesson they learned from missing out on an opportunity they initially wanted.

A painful breakup can spark renewed love and career success

“My fiancé abruptly broke off our relationship right after we picked a wedding date. I was devastated. However, I moved to New York City, created a whole new career, and eventually met my best friend and husband. The breakup was painful at the time and made me feel very depressed. But that ‘missed’ opportunity led me to a much better life than I’d imagined I’d have.”

—Mim Senft, founder, CEO, Blooming Grove, NY

Listen to your body before you burn out

“My daily life doing senior crime scene investigation in London consisted of being stressed to illness, horrific scenes of the darkness of humanity, and trying to keep a team of 100 people motivated. So I jumped at the chance for a promotion as a way out — but I wish I’d listened to my gut then and resigned. I missed it or was too afraid. I was appointed to an impossibly huge management role, felt even more stressed, and eventually burned out. I knew deep inside that the organisation as a whole wasn’t feeding my soul and I needed creative freedom, space, and no rigid rules. My failure to listen to this cry from within caused me to crash and burn, but that’s what it took for me to quit, start living on my own terms, and create a business that gives joy to both myself and my clients. My body, heart and soul knew what it needed, I just needed to tune in and listen.”

—Lorna Reeves, founder, London, UK

Your destiny is tied to your intuition

“I’ve learned the hard way that my destiny is aligned with my intuition. Over-pursuing opportunities I’ve thought I wanted has resulted in disappointment. When I owned a small business, I was determined to lease a new space in a neighborhood where I was sure my business would thrive. Even when I caught the building owner in a lie and he tried to renegotiate a finalized agreement, I ignored my intuition and signed the lease. The location was a disaster. I’ve learned from this and other experiences that bad things result when I push past my better judgement in pursuit of a goal.”

—Matt Salis, writer, Denver, CO

Reaching out for help can help you redirect to your true purpose

“I remember working so hard to create an online summit — I had a big vision and wanted it to be perfect! I poured my heart and soul into the project, yet at almost every turn I was facing challenge after challenge. I felt absolutely defeated and exhausted. Right before my launch, I had my last five interviews cancel due to circumstances beyond our control and it felt like everything was working against me. I gave up and was about to throw in the towel in defeat when a close friend encouraged me to carry on and remember what I was working to accomplish. Through all the challenges, I’d lost my direction and forgotten what I was working towards. But in an effort to regroup and reach out for help, I spoke with an expert in my field and was able to connect with my purpose in a way that had previously escaped me.”

—Nicole Michalski, life strategist, speaker, and author, Alberta, Canada

Not fitting in can be a blessing in disguise

“As an immigrant, everything from my food choices to my accent made me feel like an outsider in the USA. But eventually after years in the United States, I slowly stopped fitting in back home. This feeling of inadequacy stuck with me throughout my childhood and early adulthood, leaving me feeling unstable and always out of place. After a plethora of sad and hilarious, failed attempts at trying to fit in, I surrendered to the fact that my happiness and sense of security was not dependent on belonging somewhere. Since then, my lack of belonging has become my secret power. I’ve created projects and organizations from the ground up with teams from every continent because I’m able to connect and collaborate with people from all walks of life. Since I don’t have a personal connection to a particular demographic, country, or culture, I’m more willing to meet people where they are, because I’m not attached to where I am.”

—Julie Santos, program strategist, Pala, California

Slow down so you can recognize a good thing

“On a hot southern day in July 1996, I met my future wife. Unfortunately, I was young and wishy-washy, she said, so we drifted apart. But we eventually found each other again many years later, and we’ve been happily married ever since. Here’s a lesson I learned from my youth: slow down and recognize a good thing when you see it — destiny doesn’t always ring twice.”

—Allen Barrett, business manager, Decatur, GA

This article was first published at Thrive Global

The One Word You Should Stop Saying to Boost Your Confidence and Success

By Rebecca Muller

I’m a chronic apologizer. I say sorry profusely — to co-workers, to strangers in the elevator — even to inanimate objects. (Yes, I’ve found myself apologizing to a chair I’ve bumped into, or the garbage bin I’ve knocked over.) Studies have shown that it’s human nature to use apologies as a defense mechanism when we fear social rejection. Research has also indicated that overdoing our apologies makes us seem more timid than we really are and diminishes what we’re trying to express.

But most of us don’t realize that over-apologizing could actually harm our self-confidence.

“Apologies have become our habitual way of communicating,” Maja Jovanovic, Ph.D., sociology professor at McMaster University and author of Hey Ladies, Stop Apologizing and Other Career Mistakes Women Make, recently shared in a TED Talk in Ontario, Canada. (Jovanovic and other experts believe over-apologizing is especially a problem for women, and Amy Schumer even devoted a comedy sketch to it in 2015.) While apologies can be important and powerful when used in the right moments, Jovanovic says, if used as a conversational buffer, they can make us feel less self-assured.

“If you’re beginning and ending your sentences with ‘I’m sorry,’ don’t be surprised if there’s nothing left of your confidence at the end of the day,” she adds. “You’ve given it away with every needless, useless apology.”

Here are three simple ways to stop your unnecessary apologies in their tracks:

Swap “sorry” for “thank you”

Jovanovic points out that we often turn to an apology when we’re running late, voicing our opinion, or when we feel like an imposition. While there’s a proper time and place for apologizing, she urges us to use “thank you” in the moments where an apology is simply not necessary. Reframing your apologies can make you feel and look more confident in what you’re saying, she says in her TED Talk. “Instead of saying, ‘Sorry for complaining’ or ‘Sorry for venting,’ you could just say, ‘Thank you for listening,’ ‘Thank you for being there’ or ‘Thank you for being my friend.’”

Vocalize your actions instead

We tend to say sorry when we don’t feel like our excuse is valid, but Jovanovic says vocalizing the excuse can allow us, and the person we’re talking to, to hear why the apology is unnecessary in the first place. For example, she says that we often apologize for answering a text or email late, but it’s okay to admit that you were busy with another task. “You don’t have to apologize,” she says. “Say, ‘I was working,’ ‘I was reading,’ ‘I was driving.’”

Make others aware of the habit

Jovanovic says she “collects sorry’s,” and finds it helpful to tell her family members and friends when they’re overdoing their apologies as well. “I’ll do it everywhere. I’ll do it in the parking lot, I’ll do it to total strangers at the grocery store, in line somewhere,” she says —and making others conscious of the habit can help open the conversation to those who are unaware. “One hundred percent of the time when I interrupt another woman and say, ‘Why did you just say ‘sorry’ for that?’” Jovanovic notes, “She’ll say to me, ‘I don’t know.’”

This article was first published at Thrive Global