Six ways to keep your business alive


Your start-up is more likely to succeed if you commit to a “failure is not an option” mindset.

By Jessica Dickler, staff writer

NEW YORK ( — Starting your own company is a big challenge, but staying positive could be an even bigger struggle.

No matter what kind of business you have, if you are not committed to a “failure is not an option” mindset, you are setting yourself up for failure, says Neil Anderson, president of The Courage Group, a consulting firm for entrepreneurs.

Indeed, only two-thirds of new small businesses survive at least two years, and just 44 percent survive at least four years, according to a study by the U.S. Small Business Association.

To avoid becoming another start-up casualty, the right mental state is crucial.

So when the bills begin to pile up, and clients or customers are few and far between, don’t be tempted to throw in the towel. Instead, keep your mind and mission on track.

Anderson offers these tips to help stay out of the failure trap:


Go mental. One of the most important elements to starting a successful business is being mentally prepared. Of course, skills, actions and good old-fashioned luck are also important factors, but it all begins with the right frame of mind.

To that end, stay away from people who are negative and may try to bring you down. Anderson admits that he fired his own girlfriend in the early stages of building his business, because of her pessimistic attitude (the relationship didn’t work out either).

She would say things like “you used to make so much more money working for someone else,” Anderson explained.

People can be negative simply because they are jealous that you had the courage to follow your own dream, not just talk about it, Anderson asserts.


Virtual reality. Although there will be many ups and downs, a light does exist at the end of the tunnel, and it is bright. By visualizing success, your actions will become more confident. And increased confidence breeds success.

Anderson advises entrepreneurs to think about why they started a business in the first place. Perhaps going back to work for someone else is not an option. In that case, just reminding yourself of the alternatives: being at the mercy of others controlling your life, playing corporate politics or reporting to incompetent bosses should be sufficient motivation to keep your mind right.


It’s all about sacrifice. A big component of the “failure is not an option” mindset is knowing that certain personal or financial sacrifices will need to be made along the way in order to achieve your dream. Entrepreneurs who have made sacrifices and prospered did so because they realized early on that starting and building a great company comes with a price.


Risk is not a four-letter word. Keep in mind that success comes to those who recognize risk, are unafraid of it, and will execute on their ideas. If you are risk-averse, your chances of business survival will probably be slim.

“I cashed in all my chips, my 401(k), whatever I could… I was willing to bet it all,” Anderson said of his consultancy firm, which he got off the ground in 2001.


A hungry dog hunts better. “My father said that to me at the outset,” Anderson said. When clients or customers are few and far between and money is tight or nonexistent, successful past and future entrepreneurs will always find a way to drum up another sale.

When times get tough financially, you really have only two choices: decrease your expenses or increase your revenues.


A roadmap will lead you to success. A business plan, which is a written description of what you are going to do and how you are going to do it, is the entrepreneur’s roadmap. It forces you to think about the entire operation and come to terms with the businesses strengths and weaknesses. Entrepreneurs who do their homework increase their chances for business success.

“Don’t look at it as a hassle or burden, look at it as an opportunity to survive,” Anderson said.


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10 Signs You’re More Successful Than You Think You Are


Here’s the funny thing about success–no one can agree what the word means. The definition of the good life varies from person to person, as one individual prioritizes career glory while another values a nurturing home life.

That means there’s no way to be successful without first deciding what you mean by the term. But it also means that, if you haven’t spent time really reflecting on your personal definition of success in a while, you could actually be closer to achieving it than you suspect.

That’s the uplifting message of a great recent Lifehack post by Carles Sabarich. In it, Sabarich contends that “lack of clarity can make it easy to believe that you are a failure, even when all the evidence in your life … points to other conclusions.” He goes on to offer a monster list of 25 tells that you’re probably more successful than you currently feel. Here are 10 in brief to get you started.

1. You aren’t controlled by your income.

“If you are able to go day-to-day without the worry that you won’t have enough money to last until the end of the month, then you are most definitely a success!” declares Sabarich, offering readers a healthy dose of perspective.

2. You don’t seek praise.

“If you aren’t hanging around waiting to get the proverbial pat on the back at work or at home, you are a more successful individual than you might even know,” he claims. “Being able to do your part without looking for praise is a strong sign of mental security.”

3. You suffer less drama.

Success isn’t all about more money and accolades. It’s also about less personal drama. “A lack of chaos points to order and harmony,” Sabarich feels.

4. You have a plan.

You might think success is about reaching your goals, but Sabarich insists it’s really about have a road map for pursuing them. “If you actually have a framework to follow in your life to reach your life goals, you are already pretty successful. Most people don’t plan ahead!” he insists.

5. You crave more.

Nope, not having everything you want isn’t a sure sign of failure. “If you tend to look for more from any situation, you are already on your way to success,” Sabarich believes. “Ambition and a desire for knowledge point to determined individuals who seek to better themselves.”

6. You offer mutual respect.

“Success tends to come from your own experiences in life, including going through stresses and difficulties,” Sabarich writes. If you’ve internalized your own hard times and use those experiences to make yourself more respectful and empathetic, you’ve already harnessed a key driver of success.

7. You wish to help others.

“Your success in this world goes far beyond the cost of your car,” Sabarich reminds readers. “If you are able to … act as a pillar of strength for colleagues, success is not too far off.”

8. You possess confidence without arrogance.

“The big difference between a successful person and someone who believes they are successful is the way they conduct themselves. If you can show some genuinehumility … you are already a successful individual.”

9. You preach patience.

“Patience is a virtue that the most successful people emit on a large-scale basis. Without patience, it can be hard to ever make the type of impact that you originally intended in any work or personal environment,” claims Sabarich.

10. You can say no.

Saying no is all about knowing what’s important to you–and what’s not. So if you can do it, know you’re already on the way to a clear-sighted understanding of your values. Or as Sabarich puts it: “If you are able to say no, then you have already avoided the need to please everyone.”

Check out the complete post for the other 15 signs that you’re probably doing better than you think you are in life.

The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of
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7 Cardinal Rules In Life


Make Peace with your past, so it won’t screw up the present.


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How to Stay Positive: 11 Smart Habits


“Having a positive mental attitude is asking how something can be done rather than saying it can’t be done.”
Bo Bennett

“To avoid situations in which you might make mistakes may be the biggest mistake of all.”
Peter McWilliams

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
Anais Nin

One of the very first things I started to work on consciously with my own personal development was to improve my outlook on life.

It was over 10 years ago that I started to delve into this topic and to step by step – and while sometimes tumbling backwards – build a more optimistic outlook.

An attitude that would over time become more and more stable so that I could not only look at the world in a positive way during good days. But also so I could stay positive and constructive even during tough times and keep working towards something better.

In this article I’d like to share 11 of the best, smartest and most effective habits for doing so that I have learned during over more than a decade.

I hope you will find something helpful here.

1. Find the optimistic viewpoint in a negative situation.

One of the simplest but most effective ways to build a more positive outlook has in my experience been to ask more helpful questions as often as possible.

When I am in what seems like a negative situation – maybe I have made a mistakes, I have failed or stumbled in some kind of way – then I like to ask myself questions like:

What is one thing that is positive or good about this situation?
What is one opportunity within this situation?
Doing so is a whole lot better than what I used to do in such situations. Because back then I usually asked myself how much I sucked and how things could get even worse now.

I do however not always use these questions right away. Oftentimes I need a bit of time to process the thoughts and feelings that arise in situation before I can do that. Trying to force optimistic thinking when you are still in an emotional turmoil or a bit shocked usually don’t work that well.

2. Cultivate and live in a positive environment.

Who you choose to spend your time with and the input you get from further away like the TV, the internet and magazines will have a huge effect on your outlook.

To be able to stay positive it is essential to have influences in your life that support you and lift you up instead of dragging you down.

So carefully consider what you let into your mind.

You can for example ask yourself:

Who are the 3 most negative people I spend time with?

What are the 3 of most negative sources of information I spend time on?

Consider the answers. Then think about how you can start spending less time with one of those people or information sources this week.

And how you can spend more of the time you have now freed up with one of the most positive sources or people in your life.

3. Go slowly.

I have found that when I go too fast, when I try to think, talk, eat and move around in my world really quickly then things don’t go too well.

Stress builds up. Negative thoughts about just about anything start to well up and I feel like my own personal power decreases.

But if I slow down just for a few minutes – even if I have to force it by walking, talking and eating slower – then my mind and body calms down too. It becomes easier to think things through clearly again and easier to find the optimistic and constructive perspective.

4. Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.

It’s very easy to lose perspective, especially if you are stressed and you are going too fast.

And so a molehill can become a big and terrifying mountain in your mind.

A simple three step way to handle these situations so they don’t get out of hand is to:

Say stop. In your mind, shout “STOP!” or “NOPE, we are not going down that path again!” as soon as thoughts of this kind starts to spin in your head.

Breathe. After you have disrupted the thoughts by shouting stop sit down and just be still. Breathe with your belly and focus on just your in-breaths and out-breaths for a minute or two to calm your mind and body down.

Refocus. Question your mountain building thoughts by talking to someone close to you and getting a more grounded perspective on the situation by just venting or by getting his or her input. Or simply ask yourself this to widen your perspective and to chill out: Will this matter in 5 years? Or even 5 weeks?
5. Don’t let vague fears hold you back from doing what you want.

Sometimes you may want to take a chance in life. Start a new habit that feels unfamiliar, your own business on the side or ask someone out for a date.

A common trap when you want to do one of those things is to get lost in vague fears about what could happen if you actually took action.

And so the mind runs wild fueled by fear and it creates nightmare scenarios.

I know. I have been there many times.

So I have learned to ask myself this: honestly, what is the worst that could happen?

When I have figured that out I also spend a bit of time on trying to figure out what I could do if that that often pretty unlikely thing happens.

I have over the years discovered that the worst thing that could realistically happen is usually not as scary as the nightmare my fear-fueled mind could produce.

Finding clarity in this way doesn’t take much time or effort and it can help you to avoid much mind made suffering. And help you to get going, step outside of your comfort zone and take that chance.

6. Add value and positivity to someone else’s life.

What you send out you tend to get back from the world and the people in it.

Not from everyone. And not every time.

But what you send out there matters a whole lot.

What you give them and how you treat them is what you’ll get back. And they way you treat others and how you think of them also tend to have a big effect on how you treat and think about yourself.

So give value and spread the positivity by for example:

Helping out. Lend a hand when moving. Give a friend a ride in your car. Or if he or she needs information then help out by checking it up on Google or asking a friend of yours.
Just listening. Sometimes people don’t want any direct help. They just want someone to be there fully and listening as they vent for a little while.
Boosting the mood. Smile. Give hugs when appropriate. Play uplifting music when hanging out with a friend or suggest an inspiring movie for your movie night. Or encourage when someone has had a bad day or are going through a tough time.
7. Exercise regularly and eat and sleep well.

This is very obvious of course.

But I know the big, big impact a good night’s sleep or good workout can have when my thoughts are pessimistic and I have a lot of tensions on the inside.

And I know how much simpler it is to think clearly and optimistically when my belly is not empty.

So I highly recommend being careful about these basic habits that may sound boring. Because they do have a huge effect either way depending on how you manage them.

8. Learn to take criticism in a healthy way.

One of the most common fears is the fear of criticism. It can hold people back from doing what they want in life. Because having negativity flowing out of someone’s mouth or email and it being about you can hurt. And being rejected can sting quite a bit.

But if you want to take action on what you deep down want then criticism is pretty much unavoidable. So the key is learning to handle it in a healthier way. By doing so your fear of it will lessen and it will hurt less if you do get criticized.

I usually use four steps when I get some criticism. Maybe they can help you out too:

Step 1: Don’t reply right away. When you are angry, upset or riled up then is time to calm down a bit before you reply. Take at least a couple of deep breaths or a little time to process the message before you respond.
Step 2: Really listen to the criticism. Try to remain open and level-headed and figure out how this message can help you. Ask yourself: Is there one thing I can learn from this criticism? Is there something here that I may not want to hear but could help me?
Step 3: Remember that the criticism isn’t always about you. Some criticism is helpful. Some is simply attacks or someone lashing out because they are having bad day, year or job. To lessen the sting of such criticism – often really angry or overly critical in an unconstructive way – I try to be understanding. I think to myself that this person might not be feeling so good at the moment.
Step 4: Reply or let go. No matter the content of for example an email I try to keep my reply level-headed and kind. I may add a question or two to get more specific feedback that is helpful. And if they don’t reply or I have simply gotten a nasty attack then it is time to delete it and to let that situation go.
9. If something still gets under your skin then know what to do.

Sometimes something can still get under your skin and hurt you. Even if you use the steps above.

Two things that have helped me with that challenge are:

Let it out. Just letting that issue out into the light talking it over with someone close can be very helpful to see it for what it actually is. And to find a healthier perspective on the situation.
Improve your self-esteem. I have found over the years that with a stronger self-esteem things drag me down less and they don’t ruin my day as much anymore. Negativity from others bounces off me much more often instead. If you want to practical help with this then have a look at my 12-week, step-by-step Self-Esteem Course.
10. Start your day in a positive way.

How you start your day usually sets the tone for the rest of your day.

So be careful about how you spend your mornings. If you get going at full speed, lost in future troubles in your mind then the stress, perceived loss of power of over your life and negative thoughts will ramp up quickly.

If you on the other hand start your day by moving slowly, by having an uplifting conversation with your family or friend or you spend some time with reading or listening to inspiring and helpful articles or podcasts over breakfast or during your bus ride to work then that can make a big difference for how your whole day will go.

11. Mindfully move through your day.

When you spend your time in the present moment then it becomes so much easier to access positive emotions and to stay practical about what you can actually do about something in your life.

When you get lost in the past or future like so many of us have spent a lot of time on doing then worries very easily become bigger. And failures and mistakes from the past being replayed over and over in your mind drag you down into pessimism.

By moving slowly through your morning and hopefully through much of the rest of your day it becomes easier to mindfully stay in the moment you are in.

Another simple way to reconnect with the moment in you are in and to put your full attention there again is to focus just on what is going on around you right now for a minute or two with all your senses. See it. Hear it. Smell it. Feel the sun, rain or cold wind on your skin.

It might sound like a small and insignificant thing to do. But this simplifying reconnection with the moment can have a very positive effect on the rest of your day.

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5 Steps Towards Your Personal Independence

5 Steps Towards Your Personal Independence

‘The greatest security is to plan and act and take the risk that will make you independent.’ – Denis Waitley

I’m an Australian, and we don’t celebrate Independence Day like the Americans. Yet I have been on a journey towards my personal independence, and it is my goal to encourage and guide others to experience the same in their lives.

In order to achieve personal independence, there are some required ingredients. So allow me to share just 5 of them with you.

1. Define Your Destination

When I packed up our belongings and left with my wife and two children to travel the world some years ago, we had one destination, and that was to return home safely at the end of a period of six months of discovery.

It took us to Zimbabwe, Nigeria, England, Scotland, Germany and the USA and through a whole range of circumstances, meeting a wide selection of people along the way, our global vision was expanded and our lives were changed forever.

Throughout that time we ate strange foods, lived in huts, rustic housing with no running water and intermittent electricity, hotels, million dollar homes, and even a castle – overcoming life threatening situations, insurmountable challenges, lurking thieves, and even diseases.

It was a defining trip for me personally – to discover the purpose for which I was born.

And now whenever I embark upon any new venture the first thing I do is visualize the destination, the goal, the dream, or the result that I’m working towards.

2. Plan Your Route

There are many ways to travel from Point A to Point B, and invariably it’s not in a straight line.

But say you are working towards a particular target in 12 months, then work backwards in 90 day increments. Identify your benchmarks you wish to set in place along the way, for that smaller time frame period, that will guide you towards your destination.

Then break those down into 30 day increments. Once you have those then define what you wish to achieve each week along the way. And last but not least – what are you going to do on a daily basis to build towards your defined destination?

3. Anticipate The Best

Expect doors to open. Give your best without any expectation of return. While opportunities wait to be revealed, always continue in a state of preparation.

Don’t gravitate to the worst. Refuse to be drawn to the negative.

Think well. Think great. Speak possibility. Fill your mouth with faith and eradicate fear through a positive confession. Read and listen to material that keeps the positive dial in your mind turned to the ‘on’ position.

If any form of ‘worst’ comes across your path then treat it like a television and change channels immediately.

4. Act As Though You’re Already There

Before I could really afford 5 star hotels I sat in the foyers of 5 star hotels. Before I ever bought a nice car I took expensive cars for a test drive. Before I owned nice furniture I sat in showrooms and smelt the leather.

Before I ever succeeded in business I kept the company of people more successful than myself. I purchased a suit. I bought nicely polished shoes. I printed the best business cards. I created the most stunning web design.

Before I was, I acted that I was.

The performance was not for others. It was for me – to once and for all imbed into my subconscious that I deserved success and was worthy of it. Through these actions I demanded success to come to me.

All future success cannot but come my way because through my actions, my speech, and my habits I have become a success magnet.

5. Take The Risk

If you don’t ever leave the shore you’ll never get to the other side of the river.

There comes a point where you have to leap the leap of faith. For the cure for all fear is action.

Do your homework. Have a plan in place. But make sure your goals are measurable and realistic. Here’s a good idea.

I was recently told of a threefold strategy when it comes to the pursuit of goals.

Here are the three plans you should have in place when you set a goal…

  • Plan 1 – What is your goal if there are no problems?
  • Plan 2 – What is your goal if you expend a bit of effort?
  • Plan 3 – What is your goal if everything goes wrong?

You always want to live for another day – so in your risk management plan put some thought into it – but once you have done all the analysis don’t remain in a state of paralysis. Take the risk. For it is there where opportunity, prosperity and independence await you.

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