Small Business Tips

Motivation Post Archive
Featuring articles related to the topic of self advancement and motivation including how to keep a positive attitude, dealing with anger, dealing with problems and unexpected obstacles, and forging ahead in the game of business.
Enhance Your Image Through Your Words

Stress – it can get the best of us. Especially when there are stacks of papers and files on our desk that never seem to get smaller. Unfortunately, too many of us, from the low man on the totem pole to the big-wig on top, openly profess our frustrations to anyone that crosses our path.

As professionals, we must keep in mind that what we say effects how people view us – both our capabilities and weaknesses. What follows are some phrases that definitely don’t enhance your image, and what would be a better approach to the same situation, regardless of the frustration brewing within.

Continue Reading: “Enhance Your Image Through Your Words”


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By Michelle Cramer
Friday, July 21st, 2017 @ 12:06 AM CDT

Motivation, Ownership |

Leading by Example in a World of Copy Cats

When you are in a leadership position, what is the one principle that is the root of everything you do across the board? Lead by example. Why is that? Because we live in a world of copy cats and people do what they see their leaders do.

For example, say the CEO of a company is using his petty cash account for personal expenses (such as a 2008 Mercedes), rather than business expenses. Now Bob in sales knows what the CEO is up to. And it’s likely that Bob won’t report the events. Instead, he’ll follow in his CEO’s footsteps and start requesting reimbursements for the dinner he had out last week. No one has to know it was just him, the wife and the kids. He can say it was a business dinner with potential clients. Afterall, if the CEO gets away with it, so should Bob.

Continue Reading: “Leading by Example in a World of Copy Cats”


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By Michelle Cramer
Monday, July 17th, 2017 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Human Resources, Motivation |

Startup Myths Keep Entrepreneurs Motivated

We’ve all heard the stories. Hewlett Packard and Apple were started in someone’s garage. YouTube and Goggle were the children of brilliant, spontaneous ideas, etc., etc., etc. We love to hear that these entrepreneurs simply had an idea, ran with it, and became multi-millionaires. Because that’s what we want to happen to the businesses we’re putting our blood, sweat and tears into.

But the truth of the matter is, they’re simply stories. Fairytales of success, if you will. The reality is, most entrepreneurs get their initial idea for a bright innovation from a previous job they may have had. In fact, a study of VC-backed companies showed that 91% of them were related to the founders’ previous employment.

Continue Reading: “Startup Myths Keep Entrepreneurs Motivated”


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By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, July 15th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Motivation, Startup |

When You Feel Like Quitting…

Owning your own business can be quite stressful and, sometimes simply overwhelming. We can often get caught up in those emotions and let them drag us down. Our thoughts turn to calling it quits – giving up all together on the dream we once had because it has just become too much.

But maybe, before turning those thoughts into action, it would be better to try and change our perspective a bit. Here are few things to check yourself on before throwing in the towel:

Continue Reading: “When You Feel Like Quitting…”


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By Michelle Cramer
Tuesday, July 11th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Motivation, Ownership |

Motivating Employees

I’ve come across an excellent guide from on motivating employees.

This guide is packed full of fantastic ideas to get more and better quality work from your employees by doing more than just offering a raise.

Sections include:
• Corporate Culture
• Morale Boosters
• Recognition
• Non-Cash Incentives
• Motivation by Compensation
• Creating a Fun Workplace

Inc.com – Guide to Motivating Employees


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By Chris Brunner
Monday, February 20th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Human Resources, Motivation |

Seeking a Dream

We’ve all been there at some point in our life… flipping burgers, bagging groceries, bank teller, babysitting. Not that there is anything wrong with these jobs. Let’s face it, if people didn’t do them, then life would be much more of an inconvenience. And, though there are some that enjoy working the drive-thru at the fast food joint, many of us accept these jobs as a means of getting by, whether it be working through school or even because we have no other options and must simply earn a paycheck.

But, deep down inside, we all have a dream to do and be something else. Many of us want to work for ourselves. The ambition to be an entrepreneur is usually in the back of everyone’s mind. And though the numbers of entrepreneurs out there continue to grow, it is far too often that people have dreams and do nothing to pursue them.

You have a couple of options. The first is that you can be one of those people who has a dream his entire life, but never makes anything of it outside of an occasional hobby. Such people typically claim that life has thrown so many obstacles at them that it would be impossible to pursue their dream. And they are full of excuses, such as not having the means to get started.

Continue Reading: “Seeking a Dream”


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By Michelle Cramer
Friday, December 16th, 2016 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Motivation, Startup |

Business Instincts vs Data

As business owners, we face a constant battle when it comes to the decisions we make – should we go with our gut instinct or chose based on the facts? It’s an everyday part of keeping things running, and can sometimes cause a bit of stress if our instincts and the data don’t match up.

So which do you go with? Well, truthfully, either way you can risk failure or accomplish success. Your instincts are based upon experience, and you are more likely to feel comfortable doing something that has worked for you in the past. If, however, your instincts are telling you to go for something that has never crossed your mind before, it may be a hard step to take.

Continue Reading: “Business Instincts vs Data”


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By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, December 8th, 2016 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Motivation, Operations |

Enduring in a Crisis

Ernest Shackleton, an explorer in the early 20th century, knew how to endure. His most famous expedition, known as the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition or the Endurance Expedition, proved that fact. Shackleton set out from London on August 1, 1914 with 27 crew members on the ship Endurance, in an attempt to cross Antarctica, Atlantic to Pacific, by way of the South Pole. However, the pack ice began to close in on Endurance, making in motionless in February and finally sinking it on November 21, 1915.

What happened in the months that followed showed great resolve from Shackleton in leading his crew. They had managed to salvage three small boats, cameras and meager provisions before the ship went down. The crew then trudged their way across the uneven pack ice terrain. After attempts at reaching various locations, Shackleton settled on Elephant Island, which they reached in March of 1916. Shackleton was determined to get his entire crew home safely and, despite the treacherous seas that awaited him, he and six other crew members took a 23 foot boat back to England. On August 30, 1916 they returned to Elephant Island with a ship and rescued the entire crew. Not one member was lost.

Shackleton’s ship was appropriately named, not because the ship endured, but because the crew never gave up. They showed great resolve in surviving through below freezing temperatures for nearly two years, with little provisions and, frankly, little hope. Shackleton was an especially strong leader and, without his help, the crew probably never would have had the resolve to survive. He knew how to endure in a crisis.

While something you may face with your business won’t be nearly as disastrous as the fate of Endurance, you can still come out on top just like Shackleton and his crew. When you face any sort of crisis, keep these elements in mind:

Continue Reading: “Enduring in a Crisis”


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By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, December 4th, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Motivation |

Acknowledging Those Who Make a Difference

We all long for someone to tell us that we’re doing a good job… a pat on the back, an encouraging word, recognition for our efforts. And what we crave is more than the simple “thank you” or “good job.” We want to hear specifics – we desire to have our actions actually acknowledged – something heartfelt and authentic, without any ulterior motives behind it. An acknowledgment puts the spotlight on someone else’s talent, thoughtfulness, hard work, etc. You will energize and inspire that individual to work harder and keep doing what they do well.

But, the truth of the matter is, acknowledgments are a rarity, especially in the workplace, which is unfortunate. Most people spend the majority of their lives working – it takes up more time than anything else we do. Sleeping may come close for the ratio of time in a 24 hour day, but how many of us actually get those blessed eight hours of sleep anyway. For something that we spend most of our time doing (our job), you would think that the acknowledgments for a job-well-done would be plentiful. But they, quite often, are not.

Continue Reading: “Acknowledging Those Who Make a Difference”


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By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, December 1st, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Human Resources, Motivation |

What Goes Around Comes Back Around

Have you ever seen the NBC show My Name is Earl? It’s pretty funny and the concept is very interesting. If you haven’t, I’ll give you a brief explanation. Earl, the protagonist of the show, used to live a very jaded life. He had committed all sorts of crimes (typically robbery) and had done all sorts of bad things to people. At one point he gets a winning lottery ticket, worth $100,000, but loses it when he is hit by a car. While in the hospital, he hears of the concept of karma and decides that he lost the ticket because of all the bad things he’s done in his life.

So, Earl starts a list of atonements he must make, starting from childhood, and, as he begins to remedy his bad deeds, his karma turns around and the winning lottery ticket is returned to him. He continues to live out of a hotel and by small means, so that he can use his new money to help cross things off his list. Thus, the entire series centers around him making things up to people he hurt in the past.

Continue Reading: “What Goes Around Comes Back Around”


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By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, November 5th, 2016 @ 12:14 AM CDT

Motivation, Operations |

Brainstorming Motivation for Your Employees

Have you ever been to a business meeting that, though the intention was to come up with great ideas for the progression of the business, turned out to be a total flop? Attendees were bored, few ideas were shared, and everyone left the meeting feeling like it was a waste of time? Obviously, such events are a very little benefit to the development of your business, and there are few ways you can remedy that . . .

Meeting Time Equals Play Time
In other words, make the meeting fun. Don’t let everyone go wild of course. It needs to be organized play time, so to speak. For example, start things off with a game. As a suggestion, I read how one business owner asked his employees to write down something no one else knew about them prior to the meeting. When the meeting started, he passed out the responses and the employees had to guess who belonged to each, providing a little fun and humor to get things moving. Another employer brings tinker toys and tangram puzzles to get cognitive juices flowing. Not only do such ideas make the meeting more enjoyable, but they help your employees to relax and be more comfortable around each other and you.

Continue Reading: “Brainstorming Motivation for Your Employees”


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By Michelle Cramer
Monday, October 31st, 2016 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Motivation, Operations, Ownership |

Getting Others On Board With Your Vision

As I have discussed a number of times through the past couple of months, we all have visions, and the businesses we start often stem from those dreams for the future. Many visions require the support of others, especially financial investors, in order to press forward toward the goal. Because your vision is yours alone, you have to convince others of the value it has.

Here’s how you can start on the right track to getting investors and other support to come along for the ride:

Have a Passion
The vision you have must be something you’re passionate about. If you don’t have a full-fledged passion for it, it will be difficult to convince others that the investment of their time and finances will be worth while in the end. However, when you are passionate about your vision, and intend to pursue it even if you have to go it alone, people will recognize that and it will be easier for them to begin to see the value of your goal.

Find Allies
When looking for support (whether financial or otherwise), it is best to first seek out those that don’t need much convincing anyway. You will know the people in your immediate of friends and family who would be most likely to share your vision. But you will also need to take that a step further and reach out to other companies and organizations that would likely take little convincing. For example, if you want to start a specialty school for children with disabilities, do your research and find organizations that have already contributed to similar causes.

Continue Reading: “Getting Others On Board With Your Vision”


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By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, October 29th, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Motivation, Startup |

Transitions are Like Remodeling

I heard something the other day that really got me to thinking: difficult transitions in any part of life are like remodeling your home. Let me explain. . .

Inconvenience
Remodeling your home is no picnic, especially if you are doing extensive work, like adding on a room or redoing the kitchen (very popular choices). There is the inevitable issue of dust all over every inch of the house – dust you can’t get rid of until the job is done no matter how many times you vacuum and wipe the place down. Not to mention having to navigate through tools, furniture stocked piled in one room to get it out of the way of the work being done, hired help (if you’re not doing it by yourself). A down right pain.

Difficult transitions in life are an inconvenience as well. Take, for example, moving to a new town, which includes searching for a new place to live, selling the house you’re currently in, packing and unpacking, finding a new job, on and on. Or, what about transitioning your business from a one man operation out of your home to a five person operation located downtown. There’s nothing convenient about that either.

Continue Reading: “Transitions are Like Remodeling”


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By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, October 26th, 2016 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Motivation, Operations |

But on the Other Hand . . . (i.e. Exploring Options)

Every day we make thousands of decisions. What to wear, what to eat, when to leave, where to go, what to do first, which pen to use. . . the list goes on and on. Imagine, however, making any decision without exploring your options. Life would, first, be pretty boring if wore the same one shirt and one pair of pants every single day (what woman could survive?). And, when it comes to the more important things, it’s likely that life would be riddled with a few missteps.

Exploring your options is an important part of every decision we make. And especially when it comes to the big ones, such as how to run a business. This may seem like common sense to many of you. I know that I am an “option explorer.” I trek through the forest of who has the best price, climb the mountains of who will provide what I need, and wade the waters of what would have the best result.

Continue Reading: “But on the Other Hand . . . (i.e. Exploring Options)”


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By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, October 20th, 2016 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Motivation, Operations |

What Successful People Do – Part 2

Last week I began summarizing the 9 qualities successful people portray, according to Dr. Henry Cloud’s book 9 Things You Simply Must Do to Success in Love and Life. Today we will be concluding this topic with qualities 6-9.

Successful people . . .

6. Use Their Anger
Many people bottle up anger and dwell on how someone did them wrong. They allow it to fester and infiltrate their attitude in a negative way. Successful people, however, know how to use their anger and disappointment and make something with it. They don’t hate the person, but, rather, hate the act of dishonesty, deception, etc.

Take, for example, the recent Bad Customer Service Experience that I vented about. I used my anger as a means for learning what quality customer service is, and shared that with the blog readers in order to assist them in establishing that quality in their own businesses. Rather than dwell on it (though, mind you, I did write a letter to the owner of the restaurant), I did something with it.

Continue Reading: “What Successful People Do – Part 2″


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By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, October 13th, 2016 @ 12:05 AM CDT

Motivation |

What Successful People Do – Part 1

Successful people have a lot in common. It’s usually not their background (poverty or riches), where they came from (LA or middle-of-nowhere Kansas) and what they’ve been through (lavishly spoiled or battered and bruised). It’s usually not how they were raised or who they rely on. It all comes down to the choices they make.

According to Dr. Henry Cloud’s book, 9 Things You Simply Must Do to Succeed in Love and Life, successful people exude similar qualities that make them a success. Today we will touch on qualities 1-5.

Successful people . . .

1. Pursue Their Dreams
I’ve touched on this topic before in Seeking a Dream and Focus on Your Strengths. Successful people know what they’re good at and that’s where they place their energy. They have dreams and find ways to pursue them vigorously.

Continue Reading: “What Successful People Do – Part 1″


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By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, October 12th, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Motivation |

Strengthen Your Voice

Speaking EffectivelyWords aren’t the only thing that make a good impression with clients, investors and partners. How you sound, the power of your voice, also says a lot.

So how do you refrain from cracking your voice in nervousness or melodically putting people to sleep? Here are some tips from Douglas Anderson of Entrepreneur.com:

Practice Breathing
That’s right, you need to practice the one thing that comes completely naturally. The best way to go about it is to practice your speech, greeting, sales pitch, etc. in front of the mirror and watch how your shoulders react. Do they rise and fall when you breath in and out? If so, work on that and try and get your body to react to breath through your abdomen/waist, not your upper torso. When your shoulders move while you talk, it portrays nervousness and a lack of confidence.

Sit/Stand Up Straight
How many times did you mother tell you that growing up? Well, it wasn’t to torment you, it was to help you look presentable, and you should thank her. Additionally, sitting or standing up straight when you’re on the phone, even when the other person can’t see you, makes a world of difference in the way you sound. Good posture doesn’t only portray professionalism, but it allows you to breath more freely, making it easier for you to talk with more power and clarity.

Continue Reading: “Strengthen Your Voice”


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By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, October 8th, 2016 @ 12:04 AM CDT

Motivation, Networking |

Leaders Can’t Do It Alone

The term leader is defined as “a guiding or directing head,” which indicates that, as a leader, you must have people to guide and direct. Leaders can’t be leaders without followers.

In other words, you can’t be a leader if you’re not bringing people along for the ride with you. Whoever coined the phrase “it’s lonely at the top,” was not a true leader. There should be no loneliness if you are leading correctly.

As John Maxwell explains it in his Leadership Wired e-newsletter article titled Rising with Your People, a leader is either like a travel agent or a tour guide. Travel agents make your travel arrangements, hand you brochures and even help you plan your daily activities for your vacation; all to a place the have, more than likely, never been. Tour guides take you along with them, show you the sites they’ve already seen, know the best places to eat, sleep and have a good time, etc. True leaders should be like tour guides.

Continue Reading: “Leaders Can’t Do It Alone”


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By Michelle Cramer
Friday, October 7th, 2016 @ 12:08 AM CDT

Motivation |

Strengthen Your Memory

I make lists. Lots of lists. I have a list of things to do around the house, and not just this weekend, but long term. I have a list of Christmas gifts I need to make/buy (yes, in August). And there are post-its and dry erase boards all over my house. Why? Because, if I don’t write stuff down, I will inevitably forget it. Typically I think of everything when I’m trying to go to bed, and if I don’t write it down right then, I won’t be able to sleep because my mind becomes a broken record for fear that I will forget whatever it is I thought of. Arg!

If you suffer from the same limited memory that I do, accompanied by the bustle of a life filled with family, friends, owning a business and the like, you’re probably wondering what you can do to strengthen your memory and make life just a little bit easier. Well, you’re in luck, because I have some suggestions:

Focus and Repeat
When you recognize that something is important and you need to remember it, focus your mind on it, whether it be something you thought of or something someone told you. Then repeat it over and over again to yourself out loud. The more times you hear something, the more implanted into your brain it becomes. And that’s the goal, to make an imprint on your brain.

Find a Special Place
No, not for meditation, but for your stuff. I am what some might call overly organized, with filing cabinets and a place for everything. This is, again, so that I don’t forget where things are located when I need them (and I still misplace stuff). If I don’t get something back in the location that I designate for it, it is practically inevitable that it is gone for good because there is little chance I will remember where I put it.

Continue Reading: “Strengthen Your Memory”


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By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, October 5th, 2016 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Motivation |

Focus on Your Strengths

Many of us have ambitions to do lots of crazy things with our lives. We dream of being singers on the American Idol stage, strutting our stuff on Broadway, being a star basketball player like Michael Jordan, or climbing Mount Everest.

For most of us, however, these types of dreams are far reaches from reality. For example, many who dream of being singers, can’t really sing at all (hence the American Idol tryout flops). And when it comes to a career, pursuing the dreams that surround our weaknesses are not the ones that will make us successful.

I’m not by any means saying that you shouldn’t pursue a singing, acting or basketball career. In fact, if you are talented at those things, I would applaud you for pursuing them. What I am saying is that the dreams that center around a weakness are not the avenue to go.

Continue Reading: “Focus on Your Strengths”


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By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, October 1st, 2016 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Motivation |

Showing Compassion

Recently I posted about the influence a leader has on those under his authority and respect. What someone in a position of leadership does guides others down a similar path. This can manifest in many areas, and one area that needs it most is compassion for others.

Consider the fact that, statistically, two of every three Americans are overweight. We are a gluttonous nation. And yet, a child dies of starvation somewhere in the world (though typically not here) every four seconds. Unfortunately, many people won’t act upon such sobering statistics and try to make a difference because they don’t believe that they truly can. What’s one person to such a monstrous global epidemic?

Continue Reading: “Showing Compassion”


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By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, September 14th, 2016 @ 12:06 AM CDT

Motivation |