Why Every Small Business Owner Should Join a Mastermind Group


Owning your own business can be lonely.

We all dream of the day of leaving someone else's employment for the freedom of becoming our own boss with no one else to answer to.

But with that freedom, comes a feeling of isolation.

When you work for someone else, you have your peers and your managers and bosses to speak with.  You have the opportunity to discuss ideas and challenges, or just someone to complain about work in general.

With your own business, all of these conversations happen in your head.

You see, there are no peers, there are no co-workers to chat with.  The only boss you can complain about is yourself.

Once the rush of starting a new business wears off, this isolation can become a real problem, especially when you start running into challenges that you are not sure how to handle.

And yes, you may have some employees that you chat with day to day, but can they really help you to work out some of the real challenges you have in front of you?  Are you going to let them know about your cash flow problems or how all of your current marketing initiatives are producing nothing in the way of new business?

No, you won't.  You'll keep those skeletons to yourself and feel your stress levels rise along with your blood pressure.

You need peers that understand the challenges you face

Research conducted by Brigham Young University and the University of North Carolina reviewed 148 studies on social relationships and concluded: “that people with stronger social relationships had a 50% increased likelihood of survival than those with weaker social relationships.”

It's the same with business, you need strong social connections in order to thrive.  In this case, you need strong connections with your peers in order to thrive.  You need a group of fellow business owners who are going through the same struggles you are.

Mastermind Groups

A mastermind group is where you as a business owner can discuss successes and challenges with like-minded business owners.  You can discuss things that your friends, family, and employees would not understand or relate to.

So what is a mastermind group?

Napolean Hill coined the term mastermind group in his 1937 landmark book about personal success, “Think and Grow Rich”.  A mastermind is a group of individuals with their own experiences, talents, and insights who work together to collaborate, brainstorm and support one another.  For a business mastermind, this would be a group of business owners who gather to support each other, brainstorm new ideas and help to solve each other's challenges so they can grow both their business and themselves.

It's like having your own board of directors, a group of smart people who are invested in helping you succeed.

That sounds pretty good, doesn't it?

The sad part is that the vast majority of business owners don't know what a mastermind is, let alone belong to one.  Most assume it is some sort of networking or referral group, like one you would find on Meetup.com

The truth is, mastermind groups have been around for a long time and there have been some very famous mastermind groups over the years.

The Vagabonds

The vagabonds mastermind group

Image: From left to right: Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Warren G. Harding, Harvey Firestone

The Vagabonds formed in 1915 and lasted until 1924, with the death of Warren Harding and the increasing media attention the group was getting.

The group consisted of business titans Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone (Firestone Tire & Rubber Company), US President Warren Harding, Henry Ford of the Ford Motor Company and Luther Burbank.  All were famous men of their time who believed in the power of a mastermind group.

The group would routinely plan camping trips where they would discuss the news of the day, as well as business challenges and opportunities they each faced.  They would also spend time holding impromptu tree chopping and climbing contests and other recreational activities.

The Inklings

the inklings mastermind group

The Inklings were a famous literary mastermind group in England that consisted of CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Charles Williams and Owen Barfield.  The Lord of The Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia were both honed and improved in the mastermind group.

Over tea, pipe smoke, and beer, the group would meet at a local pub, the Eagle and Child (Or the “Bird & Baby”, as the Inklings referred to) or at CS Lewis's room at Magdalen College.  There they would read their current writings aloud and the group would offer criticisms and commentary on each other's writings.

This was a group of literary giants who discovered that they could take their writing to greater heights by bonding together in a mastermind group.


What a mastermind group consists of


A group of like-minded individuals who see the power of working with a group of peers to help them achieve more than they could alone.


A mastermind group meets on a regular schedule.  This could be weekly, monthly, or any other schedule everyone agrees to.


Every member of a mastermind has an equal voice.  They are given adequate time each meeting to discuss any challenges they are currently facing.


A mastermind group is about growth, not just socializing.  Members set goals for themselves and the other members help keep each other accountable for reaching these goals.


The conversations that go on in a mastermind group are candid.  The conversations that happen are private to the group so members can feel safe discussing their biggest challenges and opportunities.  A confidentiality agreement is often signed by incoming members.

Find a mastermind group or start your own

If a mastermind group sounds like something you would like to be apart of, then go find one.  Most cities will have at least a few of them, though you might have to do some searching.  I have been in Charlotte for 4 years now and was struggling to find one, so I started my own mastermind group in Charlotte.

When you do start your search, you'll find that some groups call themselves a mastermind group, but they are not.  A mastermind group is not a networking group, it's not a group coaching class and it's not a place where you go to sell something or to generate leads.  A mastermind is a group of smart people who want to grow their business more than they can do alone.

A mastermind group should be small, usually 4-8 people.  Smaller than that and the energy and momentum can feel a bit flat. If you have more than that and not everyone will have a chance to voice their challenges and to get meaningful feedback from the group.

If you can't find a mastermind group in your area, then consider starting your own mastermind group.  If you have questions about how to organize one, you can contact me here.

24 Awesome Free Tools Every Small Business Owner Should Be Using


Most small business owners are on a tight budget, they don't have the money to hire designers, marketers, videographers, etc, so most look to learn how to do things themselves.  And while using DIY software is great, paying for each one every month can add up pretty quickly.

There are so many tools available online for just about anything.  Some are free and some are paid.  The problem is figuring out which ones are worth your time and money and will do the job for you.  You can waste countless hours trying to figure out how to use a new tool, only to find out it wasn't going to be much help.

Below are 24 free tools that every small business owner should have.  They include tools for design, marketing, and productivity.  I use all of these tools myself, many of them every day, so I know first hand the value they bring.



Canva is the design platform for non-designers.  It's a drag and drop visual design editor that allows you to layer elements the same way you do in Photoshop, without the high technical learning curve.  If you use social media then this is a must have tool.  They also have a nice design course for beginners that is free as well.

Pic Monkey

Pic Monkey is my favorite image editing tool for fast and quick image editing if I don't want to open Photoshop.  It's web based, has browser extensions, and is super simple to use.  It's great for doing quick resizing, cropping and light touch-ups.  The free version will be fine to use for most people and does the job for most general image editing.


Piktochart is a free design tool to create your own infographics without all of the design challenges traditionally associated with creating infographics.  They have a large library of templates to start from as well as great tutorials on how to start creating amazing infographics.  It uses a simple to use drag and drop visual editor so there isn't much of a learning curve.

Open Shot Video Editor

Open Shot is easy to use open source video editor that allows you to edit video.  Many open source programs are difficult to use, but Open Shot has an intuitive editor that is visually similar to many paid video editing programs like Adobe and Filmora.  While there are many free video editing apps available on phones and tablets, if you need to do extensive editing you will see the frustrations with editing video on a mobile device.


Audacity is free to use audio editing software that works just as well as any paid audio editing software.  Audacity is one of the most popular audio editing tools around and many people prefer it to paid audio editing programs.  We have used it for years to edit our podcast, The Small Business Express, and have found it very easy to use and very reliable.




Grammarly is a Chrome extension that I cannot live without.  I'm not the best typer and make frequent typos when writing.  Grammarly scans your writing and shows you not only spelling errors but also grammar errors as well.  It also shows you the correction and replaces it with the click of the mouse.  This is a must for anyone who wants to ensure their writing is error free.  They have a free and paid version, but the free version is enough for most people.


Hemingway App is another app that helps with your writing.  If you paste your article into the app, it will show you numerous ways to make your writing simpler to read and make your sentences shorter and more concise.  The web version is free, the desktop version is paid.


Trello uses a Kanban style system that allows you to create cards and drag them across your boards until complete.  Think of it like putting sticky notes on a wall and moving them left to right as you get closer to completing a task.  It's a wonderful and simple to use productivity and project management tool and is great for small teams and solopreneurs.   Best of all, it's simple to use and free.


Zoom is a video conferencing tool that is easy to use, reliable and has a generous free plan.  There are many video conferencing tools out there but Zoom has the perfect mix of being very reliable and offering a super easy to use interface.  It also comes with a mobile app and Chrome extension.


Loom is a free to use video screen recording app that is great for creating quick video tutorials.  The browser extension makes it simple to use and created an instant share link when you are finished with your screenshare.  Loom is great for creating quick videos for customer support as well as explaining tasks to other team members.


Asana is an easy to use project management app that is great for managing small teams.  While I use Trello for most project management, Asana is a better choice for bigger teams and more complex project management needs.  It's a great platform for group collaboration and for making sure the entire team knows what others are doing.  They have a generous free plan for up to 15 team members.


If This Then That (IFTTT) is a free tool where you can create simple automation tasks by linking two services together.  This is just an awesome app and a total time saver for redundant tasks.  An example would be connecting your Gmail account to Evernote, so when you star a message in Gmail, it will save a copy of the email in Evernote.  Or if you connect Twitter and Google Sheets, you can automatically save any tweet you star in a Google spreadsheet.  The connection possibilities are endless and there are hundreds of different services you can connect.

Google Keep

Google Keep is a free note taking and to-do list tool that is simple to use but has powerful features.  I prefer paper when it comes to creating to-do lists but Google Keep is the one app that I use every day.  I love the ability to create multiple notes to-do lists with this app and to be able to color code and organize them how I want with a drag and drop interface.  It also syncs with Google Drive and allows you to import notes into Google Docs. Has mobile and web app versions.


I included Feedly and Pocket Reader together as they go hand in hand.  Feedly is an RSS feed app that lets you add the feeds of websites you want to track so you can get their content delivered to you instead of going to numerous websites each day to find their latest articles.  Feedly is great for staying on top of what is happening in your industry.  Pocket allows you to save articles for later viewing.  You can then read the articles later in an ad-free, distraction free reader that only shows you the actual article and nothing else.  I love the using the two of these together as I can scan my Feedly feed for anything of interest and save any of them to Pocket for later reading.


Evernote is my digital junk drawer.  Anything I might want to remember in the future, I either write to down in Evernote or take a quick picture of it and save it.  Evernote has tons of useful productivity features, but I mainly use it for saving stuff I might need later.  Notes you have written down, business cards, phone numbers, receipts, are just a few examples of things you can and should be saving for future reference.




Buffer is my favorite social media tool for schedule posting updates.  Buffer lets you curate content and share across your social media platforms according to any schedule you create with a touch of a button.  You set up the schedule once and then just load your queue with posts and Buffer does the rest. It is easy to use, powerful and has a ton of features like social analytics.  Buffer also integrates with just about anything so it makes sharing across your social platforms very easy to do.  The free plan is enough for most people, with a paid plan if you manage a lot of social media accounts.  And their customer support is fantastic.


Hootsuite is one of the original social media management platforms and is still one of the best.  Hootsuite lets you manage your social media accounts in one dashboard, allowing you to create and respond to messages within the app so you don't have to log into several different accounts.  The free plan allows one user and three social media profiles.

Google Alerts

Google Alerts is a free web monitoring tool that will send you a notification is a keyword is found as it scans the internet.  This is a great tool for monitoring mentions of your brand and personal name on the web so you can see where the conversations are happening online about you and your business.  You can setup as many alerts as you want, you can even track competitors and just about anything else you want to set alerts for.


MailChimp is the perfect email marketing software for any small business just getting started with email marketing.  it's super simple to use, integrates with just about anything and offers a generous free plan to get started (2oo subscribers).  Email marketing provides one of the best ROI's out of any online marketing channel (way more than social media), and MailChimp makes it easy to get started.  They also have great tutorials to get you started.


Rapportive is a free Chrome browser extension that will pull in the social media details of the person you are corresponding with.  This is a great business tool and will give you more information about a contact as well as links to their social media profiles.  LinkedIn purchased this tool so hopefully, they will keep it free in the future.


Soapbox is a free video and screen recording app from the team over at Wistia, which has a legendary reputation in the video marketing industry.  Soapbox allows you to create screen shares and video presentations right from your computer.  It also includes video editing software so you can record and edit your videos right inside the app.  They also store all of your videos online for free.


QZZR lets you create online quizzes that you can create for your website and social media.  Online quizzes are one of the best ways to create engagement on social media and for also building your email list.  Quizzes are fun, interactive and interesting to use.  QZZR offers a good free plan in addition to paid plans for a more advanced feature set.


Cyfe is an all in one digital marketing dashboard.  It allows you to pull in your website, social media and a bunch of other data into a single dashboard.  They have a solid free version that will be sufficient for most small business owners.


What tools do you use?

These are some of the free tools I use to help me run my business.  There are plenty of other free tools out there that provide lots of value so if you have any suggestions you can let me know on Twitter @3BugMedia.


The Small Business Toolbox #94

The resources I post are usually easy to use and will provide some value to your business. All of the tools are ones that I either currently use or have used in the past. I don't go into much detail here so I encourage you to take some time and explore each one to see if it will be of help to your business.

If you have any ideas or suggestions for tools, you can contact us here.

Think with Google – Free resource from Google that provides data and insights for digital marketing and customer insights.  Provides a wealth of free market research information for any size business.

Zoom – Easy to use video and web conferencing tool.  Hold one on one video meetings for host web conferences for hundreds of participants.  Free and paid plans available.

HotJar – Web analytics tool that lets you see how your website visitors interact and navigate your website.  Create recorded heat maps of user sessions to understand your visitors and to improve conversions on your website.  Free and paid plans available.

Lao Tzu


Learn How To Create Your Own Productivity Strategy

Articles on productivity are a dime a dozen, and the vast majority of them are worthless.

The sad truth is that there is a content war being waged online today with thousands of websites pumping out tons of low-grade, generic content that are mostly written by recent college grads with little to no experience on the given topic.

Why is this?  Content creation is expensive and laborious and younger people will work for basically free in exchange for the hopes of some exposure and maybe a full-time job one day.  The Huffington Post built a media empire without ever paying a single writer and thousands of other websites use the same model.

With that said, there are lots of high-quality blogs out there creating amazing content, they are just harder to find as the big media players tend to drown them out with endless amounts of generic content.

Anytime I see a productivity post telling me I have to do something specific in order to be productive, my eyes roll.  Everybody is different and everybody has a different way of being productive.  I can't tell you how you can be productive because what works for me might very well not work for you.

Being productive does not start with learning from others, it starts with learning about yourself and what will work best for you.  You have to figure out the best way to make yourself productive.  Your body and mind are your own and it works differently than anyone else.  Once you understand yourself and how you work the best, then you can go externally and start to see examples of how others like you are productive.

The productivity articles I like are the ones that discuss the things that work best for the author and they leave it up to the reader to decide if it would be helpful to them or not.  Kind of like how Bruce Lee created Jeet Kune Do, you have to look at a lot of different productivity styles and strategies, taking the best of each and creating your own system.

Everyone is different so when someone tells you this is the only way to do it, ignore them.  Take what is useful for you personally and disregard the rest.  You'll find that you will be disregarding the majority of content you read on productivity, but the small nuggets you do find will add up and become very useful for you.

So I am not going to tell you how to be productive, though I will share how I try to be productive and what works for me.  What I am going to do is give you some things to think about and then you can decide what type of productivity strategy will work best for you.


What times are you most productive?

Are you a morning or evening person?  Does it take you a few hours to get going or do you have lots of energy in the morning?  Your body has it's own internal rhythm, waking up naturally without an alarm clock is the most natural way to wake up, your body knows when it has had enough rest, whether that is 6 hours or 8 hours of sleep.  Some people only sleep a few hours at night but take a nap in the afternoon instead.  Everybody is different.

Find out what time of the day where you feel like you have the most energy and mental focus and use those periods for your most productive work.  For me, I am the most productive in the morning and then later in the evening, so I use those times to work on my important projects that require mental focus.  I leave the afternoons for email, phone calls, general planning and non-important tasks.


What kind of learner are you?

Are you a visual, kinesthetic or auditory learner?  Everybody learns differently, which is why the school system fails many children as it teaches everybody only one way.  Having an understanding of how you best digest information can help you learn and absorb material quicker.

Are you a visual learner where you need to see something visually before you can better understand it or are you an auditory learner, where hearing it helps you better comprehend the information?   This is why some people are more drawn to reading and watching a video as opposed to listening to podcasts or having a phone conversation with someone.  Others are kinesthetic learners where they need to physically do it before they can really understand it.

Sidebar: watch my favorite TED Talk on learning and creativity here.

Most people have a dominant way of learning, take some time to find out what learning styles work best for you.

Back in the day when I was studying for the captain's test for the NYC Fire Dept, I had to memorize about 2K pages of boring manuals and procedures.  This was not going to work for me as I'm more of an auditory learner so I transcribed every page onto audio cassettes (yes, it was a long time ago) and used that to pass the test.  I would never have passed if I only read the manuals, I needed to hear it in order to really understand the material.


How long can you focus?

All of us have different attention spans.  Our attention span is also influenced by the time or day, how tired we are and what we are working on.  We have limited mental focus so we need to understand how to use it wisely.  Understanding how long you can effectively work before needing a break is very important and can help you better organize your day to be the most productive.

For me, I find I can focus really well for about an hour before needing a break.  I have the most mental focus in the mornings and then later in the evening.   I will work on a project for an hour and then take a 10-15 minute break.  During that break, I might respond to email, take a short walk, grab a snack, or straighten out my office.  The break can be anything that works for you as long as it doesn't require mental focus as you need your brain to take a rest before starting again.  I personally like to take breaks where I have to get up and do something active, I get restless sitting or standing in front of a computer for long periods of time.

If you find times when you are feeling mentally stuck, try some of these tips to get unstuck.


How do you prepare for your day or week?

One thing I will say is that if you do not take the time to plan out your day or week, you will most likely waste a lot of time and mental energy trying to figure out what to do rather than getting stuff done each day.  Planning properly will definitely make you more productive with your time.

I take an hour during the weekend, usually Sunday evening, to plan out my week ahead.  I create a list of my most important projects as well as smaller items that need to be done during the week.  I then schedule out my days using one-hour chunks of time with breaks in between.  I usually plan out the first few days of the week and then plan out the rest of my days the night before.

I find that planning my days ahead of time allows me to jump right into work without having to think or expend mental energy trying to decide what to do.


Paper or Tech?

I own an online marketing company and spend pretty much all of my days on a computer.  Yet, paper and pen are how I have always planned out my days.  I've tried so many different productivity apps over the years but I always come back to my paper planner.  Jerry Seinfeld wrote every single episode longhand on a yellow legal pad, so going old school on paper does not mean you are any less productive.

My advice is to try out a bunch of different methods and see which ones work best for you.  Don't be swayed because someone else or a blog post told you that using a certain app is the best way to be productive, only you know what will work best for you.

Like I said, I've always used a paper planner and have a single app, Google Keep, for basic to-do list keeping and writing down ideas when I am out.


These are some of the things I do to make my week as productive as possible

  • I plan out my week and days beforehand so I don't waste time mental energy doing it every day
  • My most productive times are in the mornings and later in the evenings, I use these times for my most important projects
  • I can focus for about an hour before needing a break, so I work for an hour and then take a 10-15 minute break in between
  • I use a paper planner and keep it in front me during the day to keep me on track. Apps do not work for me and keeping my phone next to me all day is a distraction
  • I get restless sitting for long periods, so I do physical stuff during my breaks like take a walk, hit the heavy bag or clean my office so I can get up and move around


Create your own productivity strategy

Hopefully, this will give you some things to think about and help you create your own strategy for making your days the most productive as possible.  I don't read too many productivity blog posts anymore, especially from the bigger media outlets, as they are just rehashes of the same old stuff.  If you do want to read some quality stuff on productivity, check out Zen Habits and James Clear's blog.


The Small Business Toolbox #93

The Small Business Toolbox is your place to find free and low-cost software and services to help grow your business.

The resources I post are usually easy to use and will provide some value to your business. All of the tools are ones that I either currently use or have used in the past. I don't go into much detail here so I encourage you to take some time and explore each one to see if it will be of help to your business.

If you have any ideas or suggestions for tools, you can contact us here.

Crashplan – This service has been around a long time and is great for backing up your data.  They have a free plan that allows you to backup all of your computers to any computer or hard drive you own, even off-site.  Just install the software and it will automatically backup your computers at scheduled times.  They also have a few cloud backup options for a small monthly fee.

AppSumo – My favorite place to buy steeply discounted marketing, design, and business software.  Many offers are lifetime deals for less than $50 that normally cost almost that much per month.  They also have lots of free stuff that they give away on an ongoing basis.  Some of the deals they offer are amazing, I have purchased over 40+ deals over the past few years.

EpicBeat – Find trending content in different niches and by using keyword search. Also, find influencers in any category.  Great tool for doing research in your niche, finding out what is popular and who the main players are in your industry.  Free and paid options available with paid option offering a plugin for your WordPress website for super easy content curation.

Luck is the sense to recognize an opportunity and the

The Small Business Toolbox #90

The Small Business Toolbox #89

Things To Do When You Get Stuck In Your Business

Have you ever been working on a project for your business and hit a point where you can't focus any longer?  Or maybe you hit a wall and you can't seem to get past it no matter how hard you try to push through.

Business owners have a lot on their plate.  They have to manage several roles simultaneously, and almost always have an underlying pressure to get things done…….because who else is going to do them?

If you keep pushing yourself, despite feelings of stress and frustration, eventually you are going to burn out.  This is common with business owners as they feel that constant pressure to keep get things done.

The problem is that it's not good for your health and it's not good for your business in the long run.

While dealing with a million things each day is part of being a business owner, and keeps things interesting, sometimes you need to hit the reset button in your brain so you can refocus and start over again.  Your brain is like a computer, over time a computer will build up a lot of extra files in its cache (temporary memory) and start to slow down.  The fix for this is to restart your computer and clear the cache so it can start over again with a clean slate.  Same with your brain.

So whenever I am working on a project and hit that mental wall, or get that general feeling like I am drowning in a sea of work, I do one of the following things below.  What I actually do depends on what I am working on and how I feel and one of the below things allows me to take a pause and reset myself so I can get back to work and be productive again.


Work In Shorter Time Chunks

Your brain can only stay focused for so long before it starts to get overworked, so working in shorter periods can help you stay productive over a longer period of time.  You probably heard of the Pomodoro Method, where you work on a project in short bursts of time, followed by short breaks.  It's a great way to get through a long work day and remain focused throughout that period.  You can learn more about the Pomodoro Method here.

I personally don't use a timer or app for this, when I plan out my work week I schedule everything in 1-hour chunks.  Once that hour is over, I take a break for 10-15 minutes before starting on the next hour.  Sometimes I go over the hour if I hit a groove and I am feeling productive, but I know from experience that my brain needs a break after about an hour.


Break Down Your Project Into Small Steps

If you are working on a bigger project, break the project down into smaller steps and then schedule those steps into your work flow.  So instead of having “create a Facebook ad” on your to-do list for the day, spend some time breaking down that project into smaller steps and work on them individually.  So for this example, you may break it down into

  • Build and save a target audience in Facebook to target with my ad
  • Gather images needed for ad
  • Write copy for ad
  • Upload and schedule ad

As you can see, each of these individual tasks are not that big of a deal, but when you leave it as, “create a Facebook Ad”, it may be overwhelming and leave you uncertain as to where to start.

I wrote an article about being more prodcutive with your marketing plan, the post has a link for some free planner pdf sheets you can use to break down your projects, you can read the article here.


Work on Another Project

If you feel like you are getting stuck on a project and can't seem to find your groove, temporarily shift to another project that may be better suited for you current state of mind.

I keep a folder on my desk with lots of ideas and projects I would love to work on.  Some of them are just ideas I've written down, others I have started working on and have a to-do list of things that need to be done to get that idea off the ground.  So when I get stuck on a current project and feel like I need to stop, I'll go through this folder and pick an idea that interests me and then work on that for an hour instead.

I feel like this kind fo refocusing gives my brain a rest on the current project and still allows me to remain productive.  The one thing I usually won't do is pick a project that requires similar brain power as the project I am taking a break on.  I'll usually choose something less brain intensive to give myself a mental break.


Do Something Mindless

If I feel like I need to just stop all work and take a break, I'll shift to doing something that requires almost no brain power.  One of my favorites is cleaning my office.  While I like to say I am productive and organized, I gradually let my office turn into a hot mess until it's time to organize it again.  I'll crank up the radio and spend 30 minutes sorting through old papers and organizing my desk and drawers so I can start fresh again with a neat office space.

The idea is to do something to take your mind off your current project and that doesn't require brain power.  One of my other favorites is keeping a game or two on my phone and play that for a little while as a way to relax and recharge my brain.


Do Something Physical

I think one of the many failings of the public school system here in America is limiting or removing altogether physical education during the school day and not realizing the correlation between physical activity and learning/mental focus.  What human being can sit still at a desk for 8 hours listening to people talk at them about stuff they aren't interested in?  That's a typical school day for millions of children every day.

Physical activity and mental focus go hand in hand, you can't sit at your desk all day and expect to remain mentally sharp.  Throughout the day I take short physical breaks in between working on projects.  This may be doing some simple breathing and stretching exercises, taking a short walk, or doing pushups in my office.  If I really need to expend energy, I'll go to the gym for 30 minutes and do a quick workout.

The idea is to get your body moving, blood flowing and to remove any built up stress/tension in your body.  Once I have done this, I feel like I can sit at my desk again and get back to work.


Meet or Talk to Someone

If I'm struggling to get a project completed or I feel stuck and don't know where to go next, I have a few friends and business colleagues I can either meet for a coffee or have a quick phone call with.  Being your own boss can be isolating at times so it's good to make a point to get out and speak to your peers every once and awhile.

I always feel refreshed and come back with some good ideas after spending time with fellow business owners.


Think & Plan

Many times when I get stuck or frustrated on a project, when I think about it I realize that it was due to a lack of planning.  Us business owners spend so much time doing stuff that we often fail to spend enough time planning stuff.

When I fill out my planner for the week, I fill it up with things that I need to do and goals I need to accomplish.  What I often forget to do is purposely block out time during the week to think and plan for my business.  So I now make a point to schedule thinking and planning sessions during the week, just like I do for everything else.  I also make a point to schedule in training/learning time so I'm always learning new skills.


Sleep On It

If you are getting frustrated with a project, consider stopping and sleeping on it.  Your brain is an intuitive computer and your sub-conscious can often create solutions for you if you let it.  Before going to bed think about the challenge you are having and ask yourself to come up with a solution to it before you go to bed.  Your subconscious mind will work to help you figure out the right way to move forward.

If you don't believe me on this, try it out for yourself.  You'll be amazed at what can happen when you trust your body to help you.


So how do you get unstuck?

These are the things I do when I hit a mental block, get frustrated with my work or am not sure where to go next.  The important thing to do is reset your brain, give it a rest and then be ready to jump back in and kick some ass.

The Ten Keys To Success In Your Business And Life


Finding success in your business requires many skills and talents.  Starting and running a business is like riding a roller coaster, you have to be ready to handle the climbs and drops without losing your lunch.  The ten keys to success below apply not only to your business but your life as well.  I’m sure you recognize everything on the list, as they are all basic concepts, but do you practice them every day?

You Become What You Think About

If you think positive thoughts, you will start to think and act in positive ways.  Same goes when you think negatively.  Everything you do and say begins with a thought.

 “You become what you think about all day long.” 

– Ralph Waldo Emerson                                                                                     


Decide On Your Goals and Put Them In Writing

Decide what you want out of your business and your life, then write out your plan for achieving it.  Most goals that haven’t been put to paper are merely dreams.

 “Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.” 

-Fitzhugh Dodson



Become A Student Of Learning

Most people stop their education when they leave school.  Keep an open mind and learn something new every day.  Developing a love for learning is key to growing as a person.

 “Man's mind stretched to a new idea never goes back to its original dimensions.”

-Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr



Do Something Now

It’s easy to put off something because the task seems too large to tackle.  The best remedy is to take action.  Even doing something small will move you closer to your goal and get you in an action oriented mindset.

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”
– Dale Carnegie


 Be Persistent

For many successful entrepreneurs, the difference between them and the ones that failed was that they didn’t give up when they met failure.  One of the things that most entrepreneurs credit to their success is persistence.

 “Persistent people begin their success where others end in failure.” 

-Edward Eggleston 



Pay Attention

Learn from your mistakes.  Learn from others mistakes.  Opportunities are everywhere, you just have to be on the lookout for them and be ready to grab them when they appear.

 “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

-Winston Churchill



Focus Your Resources

You can never get your time back, use it wisely.  Focus on the things that will have the biggest impact in reaching your goals.  Learn to work with others in helping to achieve your goals.

 “Most people have no idea of the giant capacity we can immediately command when we focus all of our resources on mastering a single area of our lives.” 

-Tony Robbins 


Think and Act Differently

Like a three year old, learn to ask the question “why”.  Challenge assumptions.  Think differently and you will act differently.  Don’t be afraid to try something even though others tell you that you are crazy.  Maybe they are wrong and you are right.

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

–Mark Twain


 Be a People Person

Treat people fairly and with respect.  Learn to get along with other people, even if you have differences of opinion.  Be helpful to those around you and they will be eager to help you when the need arises.

 “I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among men the greatest asset I possess. The way to develop the best that is in a man is by appreciation and encouragement.

-Charles Schwab 


Have Integrity

If you lack integrity, you will lose the trust and goodwill of others.  And if you lose that, the rest of the points above don’t really matter.

“Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.”
– Samuel Johnson


If you liked this article, you can also check out:  7 Signs You Should Not Start a Business

How To Start Implementing Your Marketing Strategy Today



As a small business owner you have to assume many roles, from the chief marketing officer to the VP of Janitorial Services (e.g., cleaning the bathrooms).  With so much on your plate it can be difficult to find time to do what is probably the most important activity for your business, marketing.

If you’re not an experienced marketer, which most first-time business owners aren't, you may find it overwhelming to keep up with the never-ending need to market your business.  Taking time to research and plan your marketing activities can be difficult when you have dozens of other things to do during the course of the day, but you must spend the necessary time to plan and implement your marketing strategy if you want your business to grow.  No matter how great your product or service is, it doesn't matter if people don't know about it.


Break Your Marketing Down Into Actionable Steps

Just the thought of creating a marketing campaign would make many small business owners cringe, the key is to break down your marketing activities (or anything really) into bite-sized action steps that you can complete in a short amount of time.  By breaking down your marketing activities into smaller steps, it allows you to take action more often, without having to wait until you have a large block time.

Whenever I have something important I need to get done, I like to create a mini-project out of it.  If you simply write down something like, “write a blog post”on your to do list, it might not get done.  Why? Because writing a blog post requires several activities to be performed in order to create a new blog post.  The key is breaking down all of those activities in order and gathering all of the necessary resources you will need for the project beforehand.  The method I use is based on the book, “Making Ideas Happen”.

While most of my life is digital, there are some things where I still prefer a paper and pen, and a to-do list is one of those things.  If you prefer digital, there are several online applications that can help manage prjects, the one I use and highly recommend is called Trello.  It's simple to use, it's free and it kind of feels like you are using index cards on a corkboard, which I also love.

What I use is a simple folder to hold any notes or information I might need and paper clip a sheet of paper on the front of it that breaks down all of the activities I need to do in order to complete my project, which in this case is creating a new blog post.  See the image below for an example (you can download a PDF of the sheet I use below)

Marketing Project Worksheet Sheet Example

Create a List of Marketing Opportunities

Make a list of all the available marketing opportunities you would like to pursue.  Hopefully, you can get this information from your marketing plan. If you do not have a marketing plan in place yet,  just make a list of marketing opportunities. You may have been meaning to place an ad in the local paper or to create a new Facebook advertising campaign, list out everything on a sheet of paper or on your computer.


Turn Each Marketing Activity Into Its Own Project

I personally love the Action Method by Behance, where you turn everything you need to accomplish into mini-projects that lets you break anything down into simple action steps.

Using a sheet of paper, do the following:

  • Write down the marketing activity you would like to take action on
  • Write out all of the steps necessary to make it happen, in sequential order
  • Gather necessary information and resources that will be needed and put them in your folder
  • Keep all of your resources together for reference.  You can print your resources and place them  in a folder or add the reference links to your computer document.

Better yet, download these project sheets for free based on the action method used in the book, “Making Things Happen“.


Take Action

Now that you have each marketing activity written down with its own action steps, you are ready to take action.  Starting with the most important marketing activity, simply take one action step at a time until the project is completed.  Don't feel the need to wait until you have enough time to finish all of the steps, do one at a time and continue when you have the opportunity.  For example, if the project you have has four steps and you think completing all of them will take two hours, start with only the first step which may only take twenty minutes and continue to step two when you have more time.  If you do a little bit at a time you will keep moving forward until the project is complete.


Below is a sample of a project created for placing an ad on Facebook To Drive Traffic To Your Website


  1. Read the tutorial on Facebook on how to create a Facebook ad (15 min)
  2. Read three articles like this one on Facebook advertising (20 min)
  3. Create a profile for the type of customer I will be targeting (20 min)
  4. Sign up for Facebook advertising (10 min)
  5. Determine the budget that will be allocated to campaign (10 min)
  6. Write out 3 versions of my ad and gather images for each ad  (60 min)
  7. Create each ad and start campaign ( 15 min)


As you can see, I took a project that was going to take me approximately 2 1/2 hours and broke it down into seven smaller steps that can be completed one at a time, without having to continue on to the next step if time does not allow.  It may take you a month to set aside 2 1/2 hours, but you may be able to start tomorrow if you only need fifteen minutes to complete a single step.

As you can see, it's really a simple system, but it works.  This method not only applies to your marketing activities but to any tasks that will require time to complete.  There is also the satisfaction of crossing off each step as you complete them, getting you ever closer to your goal.