Have a clear business plan A business plan will establish where you are and where you want to get to over the next few years. It should detail how you will finance your business and its activities, what money you will need and where it will come from - see write a business plan: step-by-step. Monitor your financial position You should regularly monitor the progress of your business.
You should also review your position against the targets set in your business plan on a monthly basis - see cashflow management.
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Ensure customers pay you on time Businesses can run into major problems because of late customer payments. To reduce the risk of late or non-payment, you should make your credit terms and conditions obvious from the outset. You should also quickly issue invoices that are clear and accurate.
You should be aware of the minimum your business needs to survive and ensure you do not go below this - see how to measure cash in your business. Keep up-to-date accounting records If your accounts are not kept up-to-date, you could risk losing money by failing to keep up with late customer payments or not realising when you have to pay your suppliers. Using a good record keeping system will help you to track expenses, debts and creditors, apply for additional funding and save time and accountancy costs - see financial and management accounts. CBT has developed lots of techniques for doing exactly this.
A simple exercise is the ABCD which you could do at the end of each day. You can learn more in section 2 above. Mindfulness practice — usually done via meditation. To get started, we recommend Headspace and the book Mindfulness by Penman and Williams. Do something kind each day, like donating to charity, giving someone a compliment, or helping someone at work.
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Practice active constructive responding to celebrate successes with others. Adopt the growth mindset.
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See the book, Mindset , by Carol Dweck, which reviews this research and discusses how the mindset can be learned. Craft your job. In an earlier article we covered the ingredients of a satisfying job. It could be as simple as trying to spend more time with a friend at work. It can also be possible to find more meaning in your work.
Adam Grant did a study of fundraisers for university scholarships. He found that introducing them to someone who had benefited from the scholarships made them dramatically more productive. How can you make it seem more vivid? Job crafting exercises have been evaluated in trials and found to have positive effects. Here is a review of some of the research. Here is a more practical introduction.
Social skills are useful for almost everything in life, and although not much is known about how to improve them, there are some really basic things that everyone can learn. Even these can make it much easier to make friends, get on with colleagues, and generally deal with people. Rather, our favourite guide so far is Succeed Socially , which is now available as a book , by Chris MacLeod. It makes at least some attempt to use the research that does exists. Other people have found things like improv and Toastmasters helpful.
Finally, much comes down to practice, and getting comfortable talking to new people. A large fraction of jobs are found through connections and many are probably never advertised, so are only available through connections. But the importance of your connections goes far beyond finding jobs. Your friends set the behaviour you see as normal social norms , and directly influence how you feel through emotional contagion. Your friends can also directly teach you new skills and introduce you to new people.
Researchers have even measured this influence, as reviewed in the book Connected by Christakis and Fowler.
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Your connections are also a major source of personalised, up-to-date information that is never published. For instance, if you want to find out what job opportunities might be a good fit for you in the biotech industry, the best way to find out is to speak to a friend in that industry. The same is true if you want to learn about the trends in a sector, or the day-to-day reality of a job.
If you ever want to start a new project or hire someone, your connections are the best place to start, because you already know and trust them. Finally, if you care about social impact, then your connections are even more important. Partly this is because you can persuade people in your network of important ideas, such as the importance of global health or animal welfare. Alternatively, you can meet people through common interests.
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Think what can you do in just five minutes that would help this person, and do it. Two of the best five-minute favours are to make an introduction, or tell someone about a book or another resource. However, it still takes effort to reach out to people. For instance, join a group that meets regularly, or live with people who have lots of people to visit. Starting a side-project can work really well — it gives you a good reason to meet people, and work alongside them, building more meaningful connections.
For instance, one of our readers, Richard, started the Good Technology Project, which let him meet all kinds of interesting people in social impact tech. Draw up a list of your top five allies, then make sure to stay in touch with them regularly. But also think about how to meet new types of people for breadth. Another way to greatly improve your connections is to change city.
In fact, we recently decided to move 80, Hours from Oxford in the UK to near Silicon Valley so we could be part of the startup community there. Indeed, in some industries, the top positions only exist in certain regions. Three-quarters of US entertainers and performers live in LA. Silicon Valley, Paris, Berlin, and Denver-Boulder also deserve a mention as having some of the highest rates of innovation per person. Culture and social norms might be important too. Read more about this in Triumph of the City by Edward Glaeser. The opposite strategy is to move somewhere fun and cheap. This is easier than ever due to the rise of remote work, and could be good for quality of life.
However, due to the reasons above, someone ambitious early in their career might be better served by moving to their industry hub. Your location is important in many other ways. One survey of 20, people in the US found that satisfaction with location was a major component of life satisfaction. This is because where you live determines many important aspects of your life. It determines your day-to-day environment and commute. The main cost of changing city is to your personal life.