How to Start your Mornings on the Right Foot

The tone of your morning will determine the tone of your day, so it’s time to start planning accordingly. What are some steps you can take to ensure a positive start to your day?

Hydrate

The benefits of drinking water are plenty, but the benefits of drinking water immediately after waking up, instead of coffee, are even greater. After a full night’s rest, our bodies are often dehydrated. Drinking a glass of water when you wake up will not only quench your thirst, it will rehydrate you, fire up your metabolism and provide fuel for your brain.

Make your Bed

Perhaps you think making your bed is a waste of time, or unnecessary. You won’t be home to see it all day, plus, you’re getting back into it at night. Wrong. Making your bed is a very simple action that you can take in the morning that will help you start your day feeling accomplished. Getting the simple and easy tasks out of the way in the morning also give you the foundation to take on larger projects throughout the day.

Exercise

It does not matter what type of exercise you choose to do in the morning, but get your body moving in some way. Whether it be yoga, a brisk walk with your dog or a set of sit-ups, any type of movement in the morning will help get you started on the right foot. As your blood starts flowing, your mental chatter will slow. If you begin to get bored with one type of exercise, change it up.

Stay Unplugged

If you have gotten into the habit of checking your work email as soon as you wake up, it is time to change that. By doing this, you are immediately cultivating a reactive mindset, instead of a proactive one, which will cause you to start your day in a defensive state, rather than a place of inner peace and control. Stay unplugged for the first hour of the day. This will start your day with a peaceful mind, and don’t worry, those work emails will still be there an hour later!

The morning is the setup for our entire day. So instead of rushing through it, slow down and enjoy. Drink water, make your bed, get your blood flowing with exercise and remain unconnected for as long as possible.

How Reading Affects Your Work

In the past year, about a quarter of American adults did not read even a part of one book. This is an alarming statistic! Why? Reading has so many benefits including many directly related to your job performance. What are those benefits?

Fiction Leads to More Creativity

Reading nonfiction books related to your career and subject matter is a given. If you want to continue to learn and grow in your field, you should absolutely be doing this. However, don’t discount fiction books, According to research conducted at the University of Toronto, study participants who read short-story fiction experienced far less need for “cognitive closure” compared with counterparts who read nonfiction essays. Essentially, they tested as more open-minded than those who solely read nonfiction.

Reading Makes you a Better Leader

When it comes to better connecting with others, one study found that people who read for just thirty minutes per week reported a stronger sense of empathy. This ability to relate to other people—to be able to place yourself in their shoes—is a skill that readers have in common with the best leaders.

It Makes You Smarter

Your brain is like a muscle, and you need to exercise it to keep it healthy. The more you exercise the muscles in your brain, the stronger they become. Reading will not only help you to learn new things, it will improve your overall intelligence, too. Think about reading like lifting weights for your brain. The more consistently you do it, the stronger your brain will become!

Your Vocabulary Improves

This may go without saying, but reading regularly and reading a variety of styles will teach you new words and give you the confidence to use them in everyday life. Strong communication skills and the ability to voice your thoughts in a concise and effective way is a crucial tool for any employee to have in their skillset.

Next time you go to turn the tv on to fall asleep, pick up that book on your nightstand instead. When you’re anticipating waiting in the doctor’s office, bring a book to read. Incorporating reading, both fiction and nonfiction books, into your lifestyle will have many benefits but best of all, it will make you a better employee!

The Top 3 Ways to Invest in 2018

For those with extra cash on their hands, it’s best to invest it before spending it on nonsensical purchases. Of course, research and analysis is needed first to make the best investment possible for one’s risk tolerance and goals. Potential investors should act as quickly as possible. Below are the three best ways to invest in 2018.

 

The Stock Market

 

Even though investing in the stock market is an obvious choice, it’s worth mentioning because many people are still skeptical about getting involved in the market. Some even think that there are too many people involved in stocks, so it’s too late for them to get a piece of the pie.

However, a really good strategy is to invest small amounts of money over a specific timeframe into the stock market. Basically, when the market is hot, as it is right now, an investor buys less shares, and when no one is buying, they buy more shares. This keeps things even and makes a high return more likely.

 

Peer-to-Peer Lending Services

 

Being a loan provider used to be an investment medium reserved for banks. Today, there are many investment platforms that make providing a loan possible for the individual investor.

On the most popular platforms, returns are usually around six percent, but could be even higher.

Another strength of this strategy is that some investments require as little as twenty-five dollars therefore, someone who is considering this option can test the waters with little risk before diving in.

 

Real Estate

 

While real estate investing is not for everyone, there are still big returns to be made in the real estate market. Nowadays, there are other real estate mediums besides becoming a landlord. For example, someone could invest in real estate notes. In this scenario, the investor funds someone else’s real estate investment, and gets paid a dividend or interest on their investment. There’s also turnkey rentals, where an investor puts up the money, but someone else manages the property and tenants.

 

In 2018, those looking to invest should use a combination of traditional and new-age strategies.

For example, real estate and the stock market are still profitable investments. At the same time, there’s now peer-to-peer lending services that provide a new avenue of revenue.

 

How to Improve Your Small Business in 2018

Pepper Rutland How To Improve Your Small Business in 2018Starting a small business is difficult for anyone to do. Small business owners have to do a lot of the work themselves, and this can be very taxing on an individual. With all of the different changes taking place in the economy, small business owners need to be prepared to act quickly in order to gain market share.

 

There are many areas that small business owners can concentrate on in order to improve both sales and profits. Here, I’ve highlighted a few of these areas.

 

Invest in Marketing

 

A marketing plan is critical to growing a company over a long period of time. There are numerous business owners who feel like they do not have time to develop a marketing plan and rely too heavily on word of mouth and social media posting. While both are key elements to a strong brand presence,  this is the wrong approach to take in order to develop a company. Instead, small business owners should decide what marketing tactics will resonate with customers the most.

 

With all of the different marketing options today, the entire process can feel overwhelming. It is important to have a strong online presence for any business. The vast majority of customers search for a product or service online before making a purchase decision.

 

Hire Quality Employees

 

One of the most important aspects of running a successful company is hiring the right workers. There are numerous small business owners who rush through the hiring process. This is not a good plan for growth over a long period of time. One wrong hire can be extremely costly to any business owner. Business owners should spend an adequate amount of time getting to know each potential job candidate. Over time, this is the best way to make a great hiring decision.

 

Develop a Financing Plan

 

Of course, many small business owners want to grow their company in 2018. A lack of capital, however, often prevents them from personally investing in their business. Borrowing money is not necessarily a bad thing if it will help increase sales and profits. It is important to have a plan to pay the loan down as fast as possible. Some business owners get into financial trouble because they attempt to borrow too much money at one time, and don’t have a viable plan in place to spend it wisely, or pay it back in a timely fashion.

 

The economy is starting to show signs of strength in various areas. Now is a great time for business owners to implement changes for the new year. With the right strategy, a business can increase both sales and profits.

3 Entrepreneurs To Watch In 2018

Pepper Rutland 3 Entrepreneurs to watch in 2018The past few years have seen a surge of startup businesses by young millennials looking to conquer the world. As 2018 begins, we are already seeing go-getters taking their ideas and creating innovative business ideas that could change the world.

 

With so many young entrepreneurs on the scene, there are a few that you should keep an eye on this year. Meet three entrepreneurs that are ready to take 2018 by storm.

 

  1. Nick Mares

 

This young millennial is looking to educate the world on healthy eating habits, one bowl of bone broth at a time. Mares created Kettle and Fire in 2015 with the help of his brother, Justin. Within two short years, their line of bone broths were available in more than 1,700 stores. Their product line has been picked up by Krogers, Whole Foods, Sprouts, and several other popular grocery store chains. Mares plans on introducing a handful of new products this year. Business experts estimate that Kettle and Fire is looking to earn at least eight figures in 2018 alone.

 

  1. Kathryn Minshew

 

To put it lightly, Kathryn has turned the recruiting world on its head. Feeling the pressures of finding the perfect career, Kathryn Minshew decided to take matters into her own hands to help other young, industry hopefuls struggling to find the right positions. She is the founder and CEO of The Muse, a website (and really, an online community) that explores different job prospects in the hopes of giving people the career advice they need.

 

  1. Kai Kloepfer

 

Gun safety is a hot button issue right now and one millennial sees it as a lucrative business opportunity. The MIT sophomore is the mastermind behind Biofire Technologies. With the mission of “building smarter guns with biometrics”, Biofire helps implement smart technology into the manufacturing of guns. For example, one clever innovation by Biofire makes the gun recognize that it is being operated by the correct owner. This technology looks to help make guns safer and smarter.

 

These three twenty somethings are helping change the way the world works. With so many millennials looking to take their innovative ideas to the next level, 2018 is sure to be a year of promising startup companies.

A New, Old Trend: The Business Card Is Back

Business cards can play a very important part in any professional’s career. A chance meeting with the CEO of a company you admire or a new connection at a young professional’s mixer, the business card once served as a reminder of your encounter. Soon, however, the business card started becoming so common and overused that they started to pile up like drink coasters at a cocktail party. In the digital wave, they were pushed aside for an exchange of numbers and information on smartphones or a connection on Facebook or LinkedIn. The business card seemed like a thing of the past.

 

Thanks to an awakening of new designs, the power of the business card has been reignited. Clever shapes, more valuable messaging, and a lesson in branding is helping the business card make it’s comeback. If you ever ditched a business card before, you’ll think twice about doing it again after seeing (and, in some cases, experiencing) these new design trends.

 

New Materials

The cardstock you use on your business card can make or break it’s effectiveness. If a card is too flimsy, the person receiving your card might think you’re a reflection of the card’s strength. And there are tons of different choices of cardstock to pick from, making any choice possibly overwhelming. To avoid cardstock confusion, some professionals made the move to different materials such as wood, metal, plastic, and even transparent materials.

 

This reinvention of the material in which a business card is made with has revolutionized the industry, especially amongst young professionals who are looking to make important connections and a lasting impression on potential employers against a strong millennial class of competition. By introducing new materials, they body’s sense of touch becomes involved in the card presenter’s first impression, giving it an even stronger, and cooler looking, message.

 

Shapeshifters

Another way to change your view of business cards is to change the way you view a business card. Try making your rectangular card read vertically instead of horizontally, or, just tip the card on it’s side to make it a portrait shape rather than landscape.

 

Where this trend really becomes interesting is when die-cuts and special shapes are introduced. New designs offer square and circular shaped business cards, as well as cards with cutouts. Some cards even go as far as being foldable for convenience and to fit more information, or to be used as a pop-up element to give excitement to your brand. If you really want to go all out, you can design your cards to have arms and legs, as seen on CompanyFolders.com.

 

Valuing Yourself

The last trend that is important to note has to do with your own self confidence. A business card should reflect who you are, as well as give a glimpse into the work you can provide. It’s the connection between your meeting and an interview. Even if you’re not with a company, you should make yourself a business card and give yourself a brand. What symbols and colors represent you? What does a powerful business card feel like to you? Take these questions into consideration before designing your card to make the best choices in representing yourself.

How To Land A Promotion

I should preface this by saying there are no shortcuts when trying to get promoted. You absolutely cannot expect to put in half the effort and yield all of the desired results. In fact, in order to stand out from the crowd and make a name for yourself, often times you have to go above and beyond what is required of you within your normal day-to-day job description. So what exactly can you do to make the right impression and land that big promotion? The tips below can give you the guidance you need to find the success you’ve been hoping for.

 

Don’t say you want to be a leader; just be a leader.

Depending on your current role and the nature of your work, there are many different ways as to how to you can establish yourself as a true leader within your company. If you’re already in a managing role, going the extra mile to ensure quality of work will certainly help your chances for a promotion. Educate and reach out to those around you – be someone that other employees can go to over small issues or if they need a question answered. If you’re not in a position of management just yet, you can still apply both of these strategies as they will show that can handle the requirements of a role larger than the one you currently have.

 

Think of the team goals, and not of your own.

It can be difficult to not have a “me, me, me” mentality when thinking about your own goals. Thinking of what you want is not a bad thing, however, it can become a bad thing if it’s not applied to the greater good of the company’s overall goals. As stated in a Forbes article on the topic, “…it is impossible to do all the right things for all the wrong reasons.” You have to know how your strengths fit into the larger goal of the company. When approaching the subject of a promotion, position your pitch towards how you want to help the company succeed, and not what you personally deserve as a hard worker.

 

Be willing to ask for what you want, and show the proof as to why you deserve it.

Opportunities are sometimes hard to come by. If you’re in a particularly small or large company, you might have to create your own. This means that you both have to ask for a promotion, and you have to keep records at all times of what you consider your best work. You can’t always wait for your boss to notice your talents and recognize the projects you’ve had a hand in. And by gathering your top work and examples of leadership, you’ve done your boss’ job for them. This may seem like a scary and rather bold prospect, however, even if there are no opportunities available or your company doesn’t have the resources to carve out a new position to showcase you at that time, you’ve now established yourself as someone who wants a bigger piece of the pie. When the time comes, your boss will already have your portfolio on hand and the impression that you have what it takes to be a go-getter.

What to Expect When Working at a Startup

A start-up company is not just like any other new business. It’s a new business that has its sights set for big things, and while start-ups are young companies that have their work cut out for them, success is not easy.

 

A quote from the cofounder and co-CEO of Warby Parker explains this further in a recent Forbes article. “A startup is a company working to solve a problem where the solution is not obvious and success is not guaranteed.” Those are tough odds for young companies looking to break into their market. And yet, start-ups continue to be on the rise in the U.S., with thousands of young hopefuls looking to be a part of the next big thing.

 

If you’re considering a job with a start-up, or are looking to join an existing start-up, here’s what you should expect.

 

Expect Change

Change could happen nearly every day at a startup. Since things are new and really young start-ups tend to only have a handful of employees, there’s likely not a rulebook yet as you’re just getting started on figuring out how to run your business. This makes for an exciting atmosphere, but it can also test your patience. You have to have a high tolerance for fast paced change, because adaptability is really the true nature of your business.

 

Everyone is Important

It’s not a generational approach; at a startup, everyone is a crucial member of the team. Even if there is a solid managerial structure in place, your work is vital to the success of the company. You won’t be able to hide at your desk if you’re feeling drained. This can create a very welcoming and supportive environment but can overwhelm anyone who’s not sure if they are up for the challenge. Teamwork will be heavily relied upon, and new ideas are nurtured instead of being turned away based on your tenure.

 

Benefits, Schedules and Offices are Untraditional

One of the most appealing aspects of start-ups is how untraditional they are. Younger generations have seen those before them fall into a working pattern that leaves people feeling a bit stuck in a routine every day. Start-ups often offer nontraditional job aspects that are extremely attractive, such as an open office with a casual environment, happy hours and downtown lunches with your teammates to celebrate wins, and flexible working hours with unlimited sick days. While these perks sound great at first, they can sometimes become cons quickly. Because startups are still growing, they do not always have the ability to afford health insurance and other standard benefits at a traditional company.

 

Things Move Quickly

Start-ups are a fast paced environment. Just as quickly as your dreams were realized, they can be taken away. While the long term successes will be great, it’s getting there that can be the problem. This means that you have to be able to prioritize projects to accommodate for big clients and changing routines. You could be moving offices quickly as you continue to grow as well. If you usually like to take a third or fourth pass at your work before sending it to a client for review, you’ll have to settle for two rounds. Time is very valuable and it certainly cannot be taken up by any type of doubt.

 

The most important aspect of a start-up is the atmosphere. It’s an exciting time even if you’re working from a few desks in an office basement. Keeping the above job aspects in mind, you’ll be able to adjust to your new job quickly – just be prepared not to settle into any type of routine too quickly.

 

Office Feng Shui: Unconventional Ideas for Your Space

2017 will see a lot of new trends, especially in office environments. Some of these trends have companies around the globe rethinking the layout of their offices in order to yield the best productivity. If you or your employees are feeling drained and your brain gets foggy throughout the day, try adapting some of these trending office layouts.

 

Where to Place Your Desk

Actual Feng Shui practices show that even your desk has an important place in your office. You’ll want to point your desk in the “power position” in order to maintain positivity and authority. According to Feng Shui, you should always have your desk set in a way where you can see your door. This way, you will be able to see opportunity as it comes through your career.

 

Storage Design

Office design is crucial to the atmosphere and culture of a company. Functional furniture and storage cabinets have to match the aesthetic of the office just as any desks and chairs do. To blend your storage furniture a bit, you can use small cabinets as office dividers in an open area, or turn them into a functional seating feature.

 

Flexible Layouts

As technology continues to grow and change at a rapid pace, so should your office. This is not to say that you need to remodel your office every couple of months, but moreso to say that your office should be adaptable for any amount of layouts necessary. If the budget is tight, your offices could double as work event spaces, seminar classes, and large meetings. Having an open concept will help keep this flexibility in your office.

 

How to Feng Shui Your Desk

If you’re looking to get a little clarity at your desk, Feng Shui uses a great layout designed to give you good energy and mental openness. By dividing your desk space up in the 9 sections outlined by the Feng Shui bagua map, you’ll be able to add functional and personal items to your desk that will promote productivity. A few of these steps include adding some greenery to the top left corner of your desk, a photo of a loved one in the right corner, or keeping an agenda near your mouse in the bottom right corner.

 

Office Wellness Areas

One of the biggest trends in recent years is adding a wellness space to your offices. Mental and physical wellness is extremely important for your employees. To keep a good energy and to promote overall wellness, adding bright and open, yet private, spaces will help to clear the mind, while physical wellness can be taken a step further by offering gym spaces and smart kitchens.

 

While these ideas may seem a bit unconventional, they will help you to optimize your office space for the highest productivity rates possible. By pushing the boundaries and trying a new style, the entire nature of your office can change. If you’re looking to remodel your space this year, you’ll want to keep this tips in mind.

 

6 Steps That Will Set Your Business Up For Success

Pepper Rutland relays 6 steps that will set any business up for success.Succeeding in business takes a village. The reality is, however, that there’s no clear cut formula on how to succeed within the business world. And really, how could there be? Success looks different for every business and for every entrepreneur. While there may not be a book of rules to ensure success, there are plenty of strategies any business can take to set themselves up for their ultimate end goal. Once you’ve defined what success looks like for you, take a look at these helpful foundational tips and try incorporating them into your strategy.

 

Thoroughly develop a marketing plan

If you’re a new business, part of the main focus of your launch will be attracting customers. Creating a marketing plan that is far-reaching will be key in spreading awareness of your brand. If you’re an established business, you’ll want to make sure your marketing plan stays true to your brand while attracting new customers. No matter the motivation, don’t be afraid of the tried and true practices of attending tradeshows and conferences, as is suggested by this Huffington Post article. This will help customers to discover and then connect with your brand.

 

Build an attractive online presence

Social media continues to be an important player in online marketing. If your online site isn’t optimized for mobile and tablet experiences, you could be losing out on a portion of your audience. Ensure that you are utilizing all relevant social media platforms and that they not only contain the right information but look attractive as well.

 

Hire employees that make you happy and work to make them happy

The people with whom you work will account for the people with whom you interact with for three quarters of the year. It’s important that you invest in good people that want your business to succeed. In turn, it’s also important to make those employees feel valued. By surrounding yourself with those who “make you stretch” and are unafraid to give feedback, your business will enjoy a healthy foundation for success.

 

Stay ahead of the game

Always be prepared. If you’ve employed a team to help tackle a customer service issue, make sure that you know all of the details ahead of time and have already started to brainstorm solutions. Showing up to a meeting looking for help will leave your employees feeling panicked without a jumping off point. Make sure you’ve already set up guidelines for billing, time tracking, and role assignments, even if you plan on making adjustments as the solutions are being developed.

 

Keep your team educated

Technology is ever-developing and influencing the way we do business. Technology has also brought us closer to easily accessible education than ever before. Take advantage of online courses and encourage all within your office to read topical blogs and publications to stay ahead of trends. Knowing your competition simply isn’t enough anymore; educating yourself on developments within your industry will leave you being the industry leader in the end.

 

Maintain an organized environment

Having an organized office doesn’t just mean that the pens and printer paper are in their respective storage areas. Designing a space that cultures communication and accessibility to collaboration will help you stay connected to your team. Additionally, being able to define spaces within your office’s main work areas will keep employees’ focus just as organized as the space they work in.

 

Whether you’re a new or mature business, these tools will help you to stay focused in business and set you on a defined course for success.

 

For more tips and advice from Pepper Rutland, visit the blog page