6 Best Places to Get Work Done for Free

If you are anything like me, one of the most frustrating things to decide upon is where to have a business meeting or get work done. As if coordinating schedules isn’t enough, finding a nice place to meet on a cheap budget doesn’t always come easy. However, with a little bit of creativity, you can always have the perfect spot for whatever kind of business you are trying to accomplish. Below are six places that you can get work done or have a business meeting for free.

The Local Library

Gone are the days of libraries with the dated Dewey Decimal System and card catalog. Modern day libraries come complete with state of the art meeting spaces, high speed internet, and even cafes. Many also offer private sound proof work and meeting rooms as well that you can reserve for limited times. Not only will you have access to numerous of free resources and books, but also have a great workspace to use the resources.

Your Local College

I absolutely loved my college experience and now that I have graduated, I still love it. Why? Because as a proud alumnus, I get the opportunity to use the student center as a meeting and work space. Many colleges offer alumni perks on campus for those who were strong enough to graduate from the school. Some of these perks can include alumni-only areas on campus for meeting. Feel free to contact your alma mater to see if they have rooms or meeting spaces you can use to get work done.

A Hotel Lobby

Cost: Free (may want to buy something out of courtesy)

Many large hotels have a variety of amenities available to the general public in their lobbies. From free guest wifi to even upscale cafes, these hotels make great places to meet with someone or get work done. Some five star hotels even offer other amenities such as restaurants, spas and live entertainment.

Apartment Guest House

If you or someone you know currently lives in an upscale apartment home, this could be a great place to work, study, or simply get together with friends. More modern guesthouses can accommodate multiple people. Along with hi speed internet and study areas, some guest houses even offer full kitchens, coffee bars, and places to work out.

Community Centers

Every major public park usually has a community center. Many of these centers offer great spaces to conduct business. Community centers are all about bringing neighborhoods and people together. Using the facility helps them in their mission to do that, and helps you in your mission to get things accomplished.

Trade for Space

Do you know a business or non-profit who could benefit from your services? Trading your services for an extra empty office in their facility may be a great way to have your own office and still get things done. By offering your services at your full prices in exchange for the cost to rent an office there, you could have a win-win situation for both parties. This especially works well if the organization has a modern office space that would be appealing to potential clients for you.

I hope these places help you in your pursuit of new facilities to get work done. It can be difficult to find a good space on a tight budget, but with a little bit a creativity and the right resources, anyone can find the perfect place to work.

5 Questions to Consider Before Launching A New Vision

As a brand consultant, I meet with a lot of excited visionaries. I have consulted with people wanting to start restaurants, non-profits, products, apps, books, churches, and so much more. With each person, there is never any scarcity of passion. More often, there is a lack of a sustainable plan. Anything that can be measured can be sustained. The thing is, many gleeful visionaries lack a plan that can provide measurable, sustainable results. Measurables determine progress. When progress can’t be reviewed, it always leads to frustration and eventual burnout. If you are considering starting a new business, project, or launching a new vision, ask yourself these five questions before you start.

Anything that can be measured can be sustained.

Is this a ‘me’ idea, or an ‘us’ idea?

Before I started the Dreamstart Entrepreneurship Conference, I actually searched out other people who were doing what I was considering and offered to help. I wasn’t trying to do my own thing. I truly wanted to serve what was already happening. I simply wanted fill in the gaps with what I felt was missing. After approaching several people, I discovered I was already too late to join them. That is when I finally decided to develop and produce my own event. Far too often I have found many visionaries seek to do their own thing before first understanding who is already doing something similar. Perhaps your idea isn’t strong enough or sustainable enough to do alone. Consider joining with another person, product, or organization and only develop the part you are most experienced in. Your idea may only be a program instead of an entire organization. I remember consulting with someone who wanted to create a non-profit that served orphans in Africa. Eventually, she realized she was only passionate about providing scholarships for the orphans’ education versus providing traditional living support and building schools. She ultimately partnered with a much larger organization and was able to raise several thousand dollars in scholarships for the children. She realized she could do more owning her part versus trying to do every other one.

Can I commit to doing adequate research before I start?

Just because you have an idea doesn’t mean you have a vision. The more you research your idea, the more likely you will create something that will last. The internet has a plethora of information to find anything you can imagine. The only limiter to your vision is you. A simple Google search will bring up thousands of results of content you can filter through to find just the information you need. Additionally, you should seek out experts and mentors who are doing what you would like to do. The right business or life coach could be just the catalyst you need to launch properly. Many of these coaches also offer online classes to help you on your journey. You can even find free classes on sites like Coursera taught by college professors. These could aid you in your research. I personally love listening to Jamie Tardy  of Eventual Millionaire. She features millionaires weekly who speak on a wide variety of topics. Her show covers just about any startup subject you can think of in great detail. This information has become vital to me to stay abreast of current industry trends. Lastly, many public libraries have research departments that can do your market research for you. For a small fee, they can find valuable data that may have taken you a lot longer to find.

Can I measure my outcomes?

Before launching a new vision, consider your outcomes and whether or not you can measure them. I once consulted with a lady who desired to start a ministry. She originally wanted me to develop her logo and branding materials. After further questioning, I was able to understand more about what she was trying to accomplish. Even though her passion for seeing “lives transformed” was admirable, it was very difficult for her to quantify exactly what that meant. After further consulting, she realized that perhaps it wasn’t the appropriate time to launch her organization. The more you can measure your vision, the better you can maintain it. When you are outlining your plan for your vision, think about your metrics for progress and your metrics for success. Is it when you have a certain number of customers? Will it be for a certain amount of products sold? People reached? Programs started? Facilities built? These type of metrics help you to understand the growth of your vision. Though impact can be calculated in feedback (i.e. testimonials), growth should be measured with numerical results. In the beginning stages, this data is critical to understanding how to navigate your growth.

Can I commit to doing this for a year?

I understand that everyone can’t quit their jobs and start a new venture full time. I actually wouldn’t even recommend it. I do recommend, however, spending part time hours every week working on a full-time dream. Doing this for at least a year would be ideal. That means every week, for at least 1-2 hours a day (and more if you can) you should spend time doing value generating activities for your vision. Value generating activities are those activities that accelerate you towards a return on your investment quickly. If it is a business you are starting, it should be the activities that directly relate to you gaining income as quickly as possible. If you are writing a book, the activity should be actually writing content, regardless of how good or bad it is. If it is starting a non-profit, it should be developing programs and raising donations. Your commitment to your vision will determine if it becomes a hobby or a lifestyle. Being able to commit to your vision consistently for a year will help you develop the habit of doing it for a lifetime. At your year anniversary, you can then assess if it is something you should continue doing.

Your commitment to your vision will determine if it becomes a hobby or a lifestyle.

Is this worth my reputation?

Whether you want to or not, anything that you live and breath for a year outside of work and family will become identified with you. You will become “the guy who is writing a book” or the “girl who is starting a business about such and such.” This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it must be something that you are comfortable being known for. I know of a guy locally who has become known for his work with armadillos. I am sure he never intended for his life brand to center around the cute creatures, but now it has and he has used it to become successful. Make sure that whatever endeavor you are beginning, it is something that you want to become a part of you. Whatever you pursue is how you will be portrayed. Be intentional on what you want that to look like.

What To Do When Your Job Isn’t Paying You Enough

Over the last seven years, the median American income has been on a slow decline from $56,436 to $51,939. While the average yearly raise of 3% may be compelling to some, others are scrambling for ways to to drastically increase their income.  The average American debt is increasing greatly while income is decreasing. That means, more Americans are looking for creative alternatives for additional income. In today’s economy, it’s not enough to simply work hard and hope for better wages. It is imperative to leverage your skills and talents in creative ways to make extra money. I call this being an employeepreneur.

Employeepreneurs are able to use their existing skills and find other outlets to gain extra income. Most people are supporting a full-time life using less than 5% of their skill set.  Consider the accountant who makes six figures or more analyzing data and crunching numbers. Though those are  small aspects of their skill set, the don’t represent everything they are capable of accomplishing.  Or consider the engineer who uses critical thinking, computer  software, and problem solving skills to design parts for offshore oil rigs.  These are critical skills to have, but don’t represent the other facets of the individual that may include administration, negotiation, or other skills. These other skills, if honed and marketed correctly, can prove to be  powerful assets to make well above the annual 3% raise that some employees have become accustomed to. A modern day employee must use their additional skills to maximize there income earning potential. Here are my suggestions for proven ways to do just that.

Blogging

Blogging has gone from a niche hobby to a multimillion dollar industry. It has catipulted former CEOs, college students and moms into full-time entrepreneurs. If launched and developed correctly, your expertise can be used to position yourself as an expert voice in the marketplace. Blogging gives you the flexibility to make money on your time, create an incredible following, and maximize the potential for passive income. If you have a particular subject that you are passionate about, consider creating a niche blog to articulate your thoughts about it.

How to Make Money

Blogging is for building a following and products are what will make you the real money. Unless you have hundreds of thousands of people coming to your blog every month, advertising traffic alone won’t be enough to generate a significant income. The products you develop and sale based on your personal expertise is where the real value of blogging comes in handy. By developing a consistent following, they will see you as an expert and consider buying the products you have for sale. Other ways you can make money blogging include sponsorships, affiliate links,  and product reviews (if you get paid to do them).

Consulting

Growing up, I never knew what a consultant actually did, it just sounded really cool to me. As I got older, I learned that consulting in niche industries could actually be big business. Consulting is simply getting paid to give expert advice on just about anything.  Technically, anyone could become a consultant if there is a need for the advice. Consulting gives you the perfect opportunity to take the skills you have developed for years and find people who are willing to pay you to advise them.  If you can find a problem that a group of people desperately need help fixing and you have the skills to do it, it could be a perfect opportunity for you to consult. Just make sure what you are consulting about  doesn’t compete with the company products and services you are working for.

How to Make Money

Consultants typically get paid per hour or with a monthly fee depending on how extensive the consulting is. They usually send a proposal of what they will do based on what the client needs and then perform those services while checking with the client throughout the process. The most common fear I hear from people about consulting is that they don’t know enough about anything to get paid to consult. We are all experts at something. We simply have to discover what people are willing to pay for. One thing I recommend is to keep a list of problems you solve everyday for someone else. At work, is there something that everyone in the office always depend on YOU to know how to do? Is there a topic that friends and family always ask your advice on?  Does something come easier for you that you noticed is very difficult for others around you? These could all be things that, with development, bring in income through consulting.

Writing

Whether it’s writing a book or an article for a publication , writing can be a really great way to make money. Don’t just think traditional writing however. You can get paid to write business plans, proposals,  financial statements and so much more. Anything that you have gotten paid to write on a regular basis could potentially be something someone would pay you to write for them. Did you write a winning grant proposal for a non-profit you formerly worked at? Your experience could be used in writing another one for a new organization. Do you get trade publications about your industry sent to your office? Perhaps you can submit an article to them detailing something that hasn’t been featured. Writing, like blogging positions you as an expert and positions you to be compensated you for what you have learned over the years.

How to Make Money

The first place to start making money writing is to review things you have already been paid to write. If there are documents you have written that have led a present or former company to generating income or landing a deal, those same skills could be used to do it for another company. Maybe you can consider writing proposals for smaller companies outside of your current employers competition. Again, make sure to review your company guidelines to ensure you aren’t doing anything that could endanger your employment. Websites like Fiverr  andTimeetc give you the advantage of writing and editing from home and they  help bring the clients to you. Freelancewriting.com has a great compilation of other freelance sites you can use to apply for paid gigs. Last, if you are looking to write a book, the best place to get it published for free is Createspace. You only get charged a percentage of every book sold.

The beautiful thing about being an employeepreneur is that you get to control how much or how little you make on the side. Unlike a regular job, you can grow your business as large as you like without any limits. Employees are increasingly looking for creative ways to use their skills to increase their income. These suggestions hopefully will give you the jumpstart you need to build a life of financial freedom.

5 Steps to Becoming a Millionaire

I’ve always wanted to be successful. I mean really successful. Being raised in one of the poorest neighborhoods in my hometown can do that to a kid. Being homeless on the street with my mom, aunt, cousin and sister can do that as well. The frustration I felt watching my single mom day in and day out work two and often three jobs was motivating for me. I didn’t completely know what I would do growing up, but I DID know whatever it was, I would want to make enough money to support my mom. I hated seeing her work so hard, but make so little. Years later, I still haven’t fully arrived at my goal for my mother, but I am definitely taking steps to get there.

During this journey, however, I have had many  “success” opportunities presented to me. Many of these come wrapped in “secrets” or “keys” that have led thousands to incredible wealth. For just X number of thousands of dollars, they can help you “unlock” their secrets to become as successful as they are. I can appreciate incredible wisdom and great mentoring. I have had the rare opportunity to be mentored and poured into by a few successful, highly productive, and amazingly driven people. I wouldn’t replace the lessons I have learned from them at all.  What I don’t appreciate are people who try to convince you their path to success should be the rule for success for everyone. “Just do my PROVEN three-step process and you will become successful!” many say. “Buy my product series and you too can be making thousands” others tell you.

After comparing many of these people with successful people that I actually DO admire (and even have had the opportunity to talk to a few), I realized a stark difference in what, for me, real success was. The people I truly admire exemplified certain success attributes and truly accelerated their influence, finances, and life using them. So I have extracted from my conversations and observations, 5 key values of what truly successful people do.

1.People over profits

The people I really find the most successful are those who put people before their profits. They are genuinely interested in watching others succeed regardless of what it takes. True success is about adding consistent value to as many people as possible with your unique skill set. Truly successful people aren’t trying to discover more ways to make money, but better ways to help people.

2. Excellence over easy

Time and time again, many really successful people personally NEVER set out to be successful. They enjoyed what they were doing and success naturally came. They didn’t look for a new money making project or wealth scheme, but simply did what they loved to the best of their skill and loved every part of it. The more they perfected their craft, the more opportunities  came that were aligned with their passion and not just their potential profits. When you love what you do, no one will ever have to tell you to do it well. You will be compelled to.

3. Systems over sweat

This is HUGE one. The more people I talk to who have accelerated their success, the more I realize they are thinking about systematically scaling their value. I remember speaking with a very successful real estate agent. Even though he became successful from selling property, he exponentially accelerated his income by training other individuals through video courses and curriculum he created. Creating systems greatly reduces your workload and allows you the freedom to expand and grow your life at an incredible pace. If you can’t discover how to scale your value to influence more people, you don’t truly understand how incredibly valuable you are. Your unique worth is much more bigger than you.  Your were born to multiply what is inside of you!

4. Giving over getting 

Success isn’t built on what you can gain, but what you can give first. Perhaps this is why “secrets to success” teachings really bug me. In reality, there aren’t any. There may be better ways of doing things or managing people. There may be better ways to use technology to make a process more efficient. All success, however, comes from using YOUR unique value to help as many people as possible solve a problem you are passionate about. We may learn from other people’s journey, but we will never be able to replicate their exact destination. Because of this, the more we focus on strategically and authentically giving to others bountifully, the more we will breed opportunities towards success. Instead of always trying to hide your potential value, why not give some of it to people openly first. Giving from your value will fulfill you much more than money ever could. 

5.  Failure over fear

Everyone I know who has become successful was willing to take a risk that made them uncomfortable. It is one of the scariest feelings in the world, but it is one worth taking. I am a living testament to this. Last year, I decided to become a full-time entrepreneur. Though it hasn’t been the easiest, or more most comforting places to be at times, it still has been rewarding. I am not sure where this road will take me ultimately, but I do know that I have had to be comfortable not knowing what is next. Every person that I consider successful took risks that could have failed. Some succeeded, and many others didn’t. Success isn’t gained by doing everything right the first time, but continuing to ‘do’ when it doesn’t happen perfectly. You will never be fully ready to do anything that will help you grow. If you were, it wouldn’t truly challenge you. Don’t ever be afraid to fail.

Success is not about how quickly you become wealthy or how much money you make, but about how much value you add to those you can influence with your life.  Even though my mother worked three jobs to  financially provide for my sister and I, she provided incredible value through her love, wisdom, support and motivation to us both in moving forward in our goals. Her incredible humility and work ethic has taught that instead of pursuing wealth and accolades, we should pursue people and helping them reach their purpose as much as possible. Unlike money, assets and real estate, people are the only investments that can truly carry your legacy well beyond your lifetime.

What does success look like for you?

Gotta’ Crazy Idea?

It was 1965,  and  a Yale University undergraduate by the name of Frederick W. Smith had a term paper to write. Frustrated with the current transport routes, he wrote about the passenger route systems used by most airfreight shippers, which he viewed as economically inadequate. Smith detailed the need for shippers to have a system designed specifically for airfreight that could accommodate time-sensitive shipments such as medicines, computer parts and electronics. Six years later, after a frustrating encounter trying to ship his own products, Fredrick “Fred” Smith started Federal Express. It has eventually went on to become one of the world’s leading shipping and delivery companies.

Before he ever had thousands of employees, billions of dollars, and hundreds of freight vehicles, however, he simply had an idea. That idea had the capacity to create a multibillion dollar organization that feeds thousands of families, ships millions of critical packages, and impacts millions of lives.

Lesson?

Before your ideas ever form a company, they will always have the seed of a brand.  Fred’s idea started with a term paper. Who would have thought that assignment would be the foundation of a company that would change the world of shipping?  What would have happened had he concluded his idea was ludicrous? What might have resulted had he never even pursued it? His vision had extraordinary potential before it was ever practically possible.  Before he even had a clear solution, he believed it was solvable.

What ideas have you kept locked away? What have you been afraid to start because the vision seems to big? Do not ever allow fear, insecurities, or frustrations to stop you from developing your idea. Instead of discounting those crazy ideas, why not develop them? Ideas are thought investments into your future self. They are the assets to your vision . How you cultivate those ideas can change the course of your life! There are three major steps I use to manage and cultivate ideas:

1. Write them down

I typically keep a note in my phone specifically for ideas that I have. Wherever I go, I am always getting ideas for new businesses or services. The more you look for needs or gaps in your field, the easier it becomes to get new ideas. It doesn’t have to be a formal outline, just simply a thought or description should suffice. Some people may even find better value in recording their ideas as well. An app I highly recommend for note taking is Evernote. With it, you can search your notes, categorize and organize them in notebooks and much more.

2. Ask questions.

Successful products and services aren’t the result of innately brilliant thinkers, but incredibly curious minds.  People who are always asking questions usually generate great ideas. Many people are afraid of someone stealing their idea by asking people to review it. More than likely, however, your idea has already been thought by numerous of other people. Asking  intentional questions about your idea will give you a real perspective on where the market really is at. I go more into detail about how to ask here.

3.Execute

The value of an idea isn’t in the idea itself, but in the plan of execution. How you plan to uniquely tackle an idea is where the greatest value and potential comes from it. The thermostat was a pretty boring and typical household device for decades. It wasn’t broken for the most part. However, when Nest founder Tony Fadell had an idea to reinvent the device, he added a brand new value to the thermostat never before seen.

Never despise the brand inside of you. Your ideas matter. Your dreams matter. Your vision MATTERS! It’s time to finally take those crazy ideas seriously and do something with that will impact lives. An idea changed the world before. It can definitely do it again!

How to Never Fail at Anything You Start

What if you could never fail?

What if everything you started, you could ensure it was a great venture?

There is an amazing little secret to determine whether or not a business you are about to start or an endeavor you are about to pursue is worth it. This secret has been passed down for generations and I would like to share it with you. Are you ready?

ASK.

Thats right. We often times spend more time researching, planning, and building things that in reality, no one asked for in the first place. If we would simply ask the audience we are trying to pursue the value of a thing before we start something, we would get better results and ensure better success. There are of course many other factors that go into determining the success of something. Yet often, the foundation of those things is knowing what your audience needs and meeting those needs. The more you know form your audience, the more likely you can develop your business or project to their needs.  There are many ways to asking your audience and validating an idea. Over the next three posts, I will focus on three ways to do a proper ask. The first one is surveying.

Surveys for Entrepreneurship

Surveys are an amazing way to get instant feedback from your audience. With websites like Survey Monkey   and Poll Daddy  becoming more and more popular, you can easily create an online survey to get immediate responses about a particular idea. For my Dreamstart Conference last year, I used a survey in my planning process to determine what type of sessions and information would be relevant to my audience. To see a copy of it, you can click here.

I created an event for the survey on Facebook and invited all of of my friends who were relevant to my audience to take it. Through the responses I received, I was about to develop the framework for the conference and decide which sessions would be more relevant to those I was appealing to. This same method can be used for collecting responses about prices, locations, and a multitude of other things business.

Surveys for Personal Development

You can also use surveys as a way to help enhance  yourself as a person. I recently read an amazing article  about a young man who e-mailed a small survey to his closest friends. After a real encounter with himself and his own insecurities, he decided to be proactive in becoming a better person by asking them these questions:

What does it feel like to be around me when I’m at my best?
What does it feel like to be around me when I’m at my worst?
What do you admire about the way I live my life?
Are there any areas of my life that you find off-putting?
What are ways I could be a better friend?
Is there anything I could do to be a better communicator?
What do others think of me?
What’s the 10 percent you’re holding back?

The responses he received brought him into the reality of his own false perception of himself, and ultimately led him down a journey of growth, maturity and true authenticity. As a professional, gaining information from questions like these are key to ensuring you not only grow into a better person, but it also helps you become a better leader. The information obtained from a survey can help you start your next relationship or job on the right foot without bringing the baggage of past hurts into your new opportunities.

Simple Tips for Great Surveys

Ask your audience  

I know this is self explanatory, but the responses you are looking for in your surveys should be from those you are either selling to or reaching out to personally to help you. If you are using surveys for personal development, select only your closest friends who really know you to provide authentic feedback. If you are using surveys as a way to decide whether you should begin something, ask those who are MOST likely to attend the event or buy the product.

Ask A Lot of People

The more responses you get, the better your results will be and the more likely you will know how to decide. Social media has completely made it limitless on the amount of people you can reach out to for a survey. Share it with friends on your social media outlets and ask them to share it with their friends. The more quality responses you get, the better.

Incentivize the Survey

People love free stuff and are more likely to participate if you offer it to them. Offer a free sample of a product you are developing or a discounted event ticket if you are surveying for business. For those who are doing it personally, offer to take your friends out to a free dinner or give them a free movie ticket for  taking the time to help you. Most good friends may not ever require you do any of this, but the thought behind it serves as a great gesture for building a closer relationship.

Keep it Short

Ask only the questions you need. Keep them simple and to the point. You are only asking the crucial things to validate your idea or get legitimate feedback.

Let’s Start.

Now that you have gotten great tips on surveys, I would challenge you to start your first one today. Sign up for Survey Monkey or simply create one to send to your friends. Instead of worrying about whether you will fail at your next endeavor, really take a small step forward to start.