6 Bootstrapping Secrets for Building a Successful Business on a Shoestring Budget

Many entrepreneurs feel they cannot start a business because of lack of capital. Of course, capital is necessary, and sometimes difficult to come by. But, what many don’t realize is that today it is possible to build a successful small business on a shoestring budget. Bootstrapping is absolutely doable, and many businesses have been very successful doing it.

Although no two companies are the same, we’ve highlighted six ways anyone starting their own business can cut costs, without cutting any corners.

1. Stick to your skillset.

Sticking closely to what you know not only means you will avoid investing time or money upskilling, but you also won’t have to spend any of your startup savings paying for high cost consultant fees or any other external assistance. By understanding the industry you are venturing into, you will already know the resources you need, cutting organization costs and allowing you to produce revenue quickly.

2. Work from home.

I see this too often: startups think they need an office right away to be legitimate. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Unless you need a storefront to get started, working from the comforts of your home will save you huge amounts of money. Aside from saving you money in rent, working from home means you do not have to pay for a commute and you could even claim some of your house rent as tax deductible.

If you can’t work at home, look for co-working spaces in your area.

Related: 12 Tips to Stay Healthy While Working From Home

3. Look for effective hiring alternatives.

If you need to create a team for your startup, hiring remote workers will save you money. Virtual assistants (VAs) are a great way to fill in the gaps in your business. For needs like bookkeeping, data entry, and even marketing and sales, websites such as People Per Hour, Fiverr, and Upwork connect businesses to capable freelancers. Be cautions, however, and be sure to check their success rates and reviews in order to hire the right person for the job.

4. Use the cloud for your computing needs.

IT costs can use up a good chunk of your capital, but managing and sharing all your folders using cloud-based tech will save you a substantial amount of money. Google Drive and Mozy are just two of the cloud computing services that offer free plans with options to upgrade to larger storage capacity. The business plans on both these platforms offer enough storage to save every single aspect of your company in one place, and some have auto backup so you never lose a file. In addition to this, you can use online CRM platforms that help you coordinate all your efforts without running costly servers of your own.

Related: Bootstrapping Is Much More Fun Than Investors

5. Use free website builders.

All businesses need a good website if they are going thrive. Although many spend weeks — and even months — outsourcing web development and design, there are many free, great options when it comes to website building software. We’ve all heard of DIY website builder Wix, but innovative tools like personal webpage creator Wiseintro and Duda, a website builder for pros, focus on two elements the future web is made of: mobile and personalization.

New tools make web creation easy with a variety of features such as online stores, analytics and much more. You can even learn basic design using tools such as Visme to tailor your website to meet all your requirements without spending extra money.

Related: 6 Types of Businesses You Can Start With Almost No Cash

6. Learn low-cost marketing techniques.

Startups today don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on marketing and promotion. Search engine optimization (SEO), writing fresh content for your blog and social media management are now made easier thanks to tools like SEMrush, Google Adwords, and Buffer. All of these offer free tools like keyword search volumes, competitive analysis, scheduling, and analytical features to not only plan ahead but ensure content is valuable to your target audience.

Building a business on a shoestring budget can be the difference between a successful startup and a failed one. You have thousands of free tech tools and tons of advice from blogs and other entrepreneurs at your disposal now when starting a company. Paying attention to where you’re spending your money can make a huge difference, and using innovative hacks to help your business grow faster will make a solid foundation for your new business to flourish.


9 Free Apps That Immediately Make Life Easier

Apps are everywhere. Research has shown that Americans on average spend nearly three hours per day using mobile apps, and on top of that we tend to put that time into fewer than five apps daily. If you’re going to spend so much of your life working on, listening to or playing an app, it better be worth it, right?

Whether they’re free, native to your phone, or cost $10 to purchase, you want the app to change your life for the better by doing something no other app can. The good news is that many apps really do go to work for you. From simplifying your routine to clearing your mind or just helping to bring you joy, clear out some storage space and take advantage of what these apps have to offer. All are for iOS and Android phones, unless otherwise noted.

1. Duo

Maybe you’ve got an iPhone and are looking for an alternative in the video-calling space. Maybe you’ve got an Android device and Skype doesn’t really do it for you. Enter Duo, Google’s answer to Apple’s ubiquitous app-turned-verb, Facetime. Available on both Android and iOS, with Duo you can make video calls to anyone else with the app and a phone number. It’s simple to use and there’s an immediate upgrade: the “Knock Knock” feature shows you live video of the caller before you even pick up (insurance against screening a call, perhaps?).

Related: 5 Mobile Apps Every Entrepreneur Should Use

2. Hours Keeper

Being self-employed has its benefits; keeping track of your hours is not one of them. Hours Keeper simplifies the process by organizing the time you spend on multiple clients, letting you sort your hours by pay period and create invoices in seconds with its free PDF template. You can enter your time manually or use the clock-in/clock-out function that acts as a running timer, ultimately helping you stay focused and make the most of your time. There is a paid pro plan.

3. Healthy Living

So, you’re eating more organic foods? Excellent. Reading more nutrition labels? Bravo. But what happens when you start asking questions about what’s in your everyday products like shampoo or shaving cream? Who do you ask? And are you going to need a translator to understand it?

Enter Healthy Living from EWG (Environmental Working Group), a comprehensive, ratings-based app that explains exactly what ingredients — read: chemicals — are in more than 120,000 food and personal care products. You can search for a product by name, scan a barcode or scroll through the app’s own recommendations on everything from the best serums to cereals.

4. Square Cash

One of the newer digital wallet options on the market, the Cash app from Square lets you instantly send money for free to anyone with the app and between different banks via email, text or a “Cashtag,” a personalized website (and buzzword) where you can receive money from friends and family. Your account is linked to your debit card, so there’s no separate Cash account balance to think about. And bonus: the Cash app has an option for businesses so you can accept payments from clients with no limit to the dollar amount you receive.

Related: Getting Started with Small Business App Development

5. Parking Panda

You’re showered, dressed, remembered car keys/phone/wallet and made it out the door miraculously on time. However, it’s Saturday night and you have no idea where you’re going to park or how to avoid paying through the nose. Worrying about finding a spot or paying for parking at peak times is starting your night on the wrong foot. Next time, spend about 90 seconds searching Parking Panda for lots or garages near where you’re headed. The app is available in more than 40 cities throughout the U.S. and secures discounts up to 70 percent off peak prices. You’ll be able to see a map with the cost of a spot at each location, then pay for it in advance and guarantee that it will be there waiting for you when you arrive. Whew.

6. Evernote 

If you’re constantly searching a combo of a notes app, Pinterest board and bookmark folder for the trove of digital info you create and save, it’s time you try out Evernote, which has become the standard among productivity apps and digital notebooks. Evernote collects everything you want to remember in one streamlined platform that’s with you wherever you go. Create a note, scan a handwritten note or “clip” a web link and save it within a larger notebook or tag that you can then search for and access across all of your devices. The app has tiered paid plans and a version for Windows Phone.

Related: 7 Apps to Help Integrate Tech With Self-Improvement Goals

7. Dashlane

Dashlane is like knowing the host at the hottest restaurant in town. Just show up and you’re in, quickly and seamlessly. Dashlane securely stores personal passwords, IDs and personal details plus credit card and digital payment information so you don’t have to. The app will generate secure passwords for you so no two are the same, and it helps you complete online checkouts in seconds as it automatically loads your stored address, contact and payment information. Using it on one device is free, or you can pay $39.99 for one year’s worth of access across multiple devices.

8. Keelo

We’re all short on time but want to make the most of it, right? Keelo gets this by focusing on high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and offering strength, cardio and conditioning workouts ranging from about seven to 20 minutes to complete at the gym or at home. Not only does it devise a workout plan based on your goals, it spells out what you’re going to be doing at each stage of the workout so you know exactly what to expect before you get started. Plus, you’ll have the option to sync with Apple Health and can track your results and access a virtual coach to keep you going. You’ve run out of excuses at this point…right? A  paid premium plan is offered.

9. Headspace

Now that you’re equipped with ways to streamline your life, it’s time to clear your mind. But if you have trouble blocking out the noise and finding some peace, Headspace can be your guide. Wall Street executives, Olympic athletes and moguls from Richard Branson to Arianna Huffington are already among the app’s more than 10 million users worldwide. The free Take10 program eases you in by introducing you to the practice of meditation for 10 minutes a day in 10 days, while a subscription unlocks access to a deeper range of mindfulness exercises from just a couple minutes to one hour. Tailor it to focus on what matters to you most and reap the benefits of its straightforward instructions on breathing and visualization.

Now that you’ve freed up some screen space (and possibly even your data plan!), let these apps help you kick start a new habit and make the most of your time.


8 Sources of Strength Powerful Enough to Overcome the Fears Holding You Back

What are your powers? Few of us are focused on what our powers are, let alone practicing or leading from those aspects of ourselves. Most of us lead overcompensating for our perceived weaknesses. Leading from insecurity makes us work harder but not necessarily smarter, or with any sense of joy. In overcompensating for our perceived insecurities, we hit burnout quicker, are more anxious, and find work more taxing. Everything in life has threads of fear in it, so we may as well learn to find the strengths which lay beneath them.

1. Knowledge.

Knowledge is the strength underneath the fear of not having confidence. Knowledge is power. It is difficult to feel comfortable when we lack the knowledge necessary to make us versatile and flexible in our daily challenges. Without knowledge we function from a weaker position, especially when in the throes of conflict or negotiation. Preparation and knowledge naturally endow us with more confidence. If we lack the information we need it is important to humble ourselves to saying, “I don’t know,” and learn. We can go back to the drawing board, fill in the missing pieces, so as to avoid being in the weaker position going forward.

When in the fear of insecurity, gather the knowledge necessary to lead from a place power.

2. Openness.

Openness is the strength below our fears of change. Having knowledge is essential for success, but we must not allow ourselves to become so fixed or rigid in our thinking that we come to view our knowledge as the only correct knowledge. Being open is a strength which makes us more likeable and approachable to others. When we are open we are perceived as easier to work with. Rigid thinking and its subsequent limits overcompensate for our fears of change. We falsely believe if we know it all that we are somehow impermeable. However, closemindedness and/or rigid rules do not make our egos any less fragile. No one likes a know-it-all.

When facing fears of change, lead from the strength of open curiosity.

3. Patience.

Patience is the strength that lies beneath the fear of the unknown. Impatience is a reaction to living in the grey area of uncertain results. To overcompensate for this fear we tend to become reactive, causing us to make less than stellar decisions. These impulsive decisions most often push our desired results further away from us. In practicing patience, we develop the strength and emotional resilience to let things take their natural course. Being patient makes us smarter. A little space helps us to forecast our current situation beyond our initial emotional reactions. When we learn to wait, solutions come without us having to chase them.

When facing fears of uncertainty, lead from the strength of choosing to waiting well.

Related: Gary Vaynerchuk: Your Lack of Patience Is Killing You

4. Boldness.

Boldness is the strength which lies beneath the fear of conflict. Many of us cower under conflict. When under siege we hear our instincts telling us what to do, but because we become overwhelmed with the projected negative consequences acting strongly could bring, we don’t allow ourselves to step into our boldness. We can choose to be bold, fair, in our power and to trust that the consequences of our actions will only help propel our success forward, and deepen our sense of self-confidence. A simple fact; unless we say what we want, we won’t get what we want.

When in the fear of conflict, lead from the strength to rise to the occasion.

5. Allow.

Allowing is the strength that lies beneath the fear of not having control. Often times we’re so fear based that we overcompensate for this fear with being controlling. To find a deeper sense of strength allow people to be who they are, allow situations to be what they are, and allow yourself to be who you are, without self-recrimination. Allowing is a tremendous power because it keeps the flow of things open and resistance at bay. It is amazing what develops when we allow things to manifest in their own way and own timing. When we allow the process of success to have its own life, we make succeeding look easy.

When consumed with the fear of not having control, lead from the strength of dropping the rope.

Related: 5 Fears You’ll Need to Conquer Before Starting a Business

6. Courage.

Courage is the strength which lives below our fears of failure. Courage trumps fear. Whenever we feel paralyzed with fear, courage is about the last thing we believe we can tune into or utilize. Fear has two waves; the first is shock. When we’re in shock, courage cannot come. Shock is short lived, however. Once shock passes, our minds begin to unscramble allowing us to think clearly and efficiently. We begin to see a path or paths to our solution, and are able to approach our problem with an adrenalized and focused readiness. This is the birth of courage. Courage isn’t something we have, it is something we do.  Believe it or not, we often perform best when under pressure.

When in the fear of failing, lead from the courage to take action.

7. Quiet.

Quiet is the power beneath the fear of not being good enough. When we feel nervous, the natural tendency is to talk too much. Nervous talking is not success-driven communication, and in reality the more we talk, the more insecure we get, and unfortunately, the more we keep talking. In a social world dominated by extroversion, the strength of being quiet is one many never utilize or study. When we are quiet we present as attentive and calm. People want and need to be heard and understood, so when facing insecurities of not being good enough, learn to listen. When people feel heard they become interested in the listener. Security doesn’t need volume; it speaks for itself.

When facing fears of not feeling not good enough, lead from the strength of being quietly present.

Related: 6 Ways Embracing Mindfulness Helps You Thrive at Work

8. Mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the strength which lies below feelings of emergency. Fear is a power all unto itself because fear is a fuel.  Whenever we’re in fear we move into action to remove the fear as quickly as possible. The reason fear causes so many problems is because it makes us reactive. To make fear our greatest strength, we must use it to practice mindfulness. When in a state of emergency fear makes us acutely aware of what is going on and if we can stay calm, as Captain Sully did when landing the plane in the Hudson River, we too will have more clarity on the front lines of our own critical decisions.

When under the fear of a pressured situation, lead from the strength of attunement to the moment.

When we lead from our strengths, we become more confident and successful. We are able to move with a certain grace through our troubles where we are impacted by them, but not flattened by them. To lead from our strengths we must use challenges as tests of our character. We can choose to rise to our occasions and go against our biological programing to naturally regress under stress. Having this type of composure takes practice and awareness, but if we’re going to practice anything this year, why not let it be leading from our strengths?


How Meditation Can Transform Your Business

Meditation is a common practice of many extremely successful people, and with good reason: CEO Ray Dalio, for instance, has said he uses meditation to check his ego; Steve Rubin attributes his “laser-like focus” to the practice.

Related: Why Meditation Works and How it Benefits the Workplace

What exactly is meditation? And how has mastering it helped so many CEOs to master their business?

When you run a business, your most valuable asset is your mind. Any practice that involves relaxing that mind in order to regain control of it is meditation.

And that control was something I craved myself: As 2016 came to a close and I noticed that I was becoming more easily distracted and my writing had begun to suffer, I enrolled in a ten-day silent meditation course to help me kick off 2017 on a fresh note.

Before beginning this free course run entirely by donations from previous students, I surrendered my books, electronic devices and access to the internet to focus on studying the Vipassana meditative technique. Taught since the time of the Buddha, this technique has students observe their breath and bodily sensations in order to train their minds to be nonreactive.

By not immediately reacting to feelings of pain and pleasure, we not only toughen our minds and boost our sense of inner peace, we also broaden our perspective and capability to understand things a stressed out, self-absorbed mind would miss.

Below are some of the ways that meditation can change the way you run your business in the New Year.

Meditation keeps you disciplined.

Most things in our life are outside of our control. We cannot control the world around us, or what other people say and do, but through meditation and hard work, we can control our own minds. A trained mind can be the best friend you’ve ever had, and with it, you can accomplish things you never thought possible.

Related: Meditation, Mindfulness and Sleep Can Radically Impact Your Success

During my first few days of the Vipassana meditation course, I found my mind racing nonstop, never giving me a moment of peace. Even closing my eyes for a few moments seemed painful, but our instructor, the late S. N. Goenka, was very encouraging in the daily lectures we watched on videotape.

“Patience and persistence is the secret to success,” he said — a truism in both meditation and business. So I pushed myself as much as I comfortably could, and slowly but surely, saw the results; my mind became clearer and more focused.

Subhash Chandra, the billionaire chairman of Essel Group, is also a Vipassana meditator, taught by S. N. Goenka. Chandra has even donated a 13-acre plot near Mumbai for a new ashram location. Former Monsanto CEO Bob Shapiro and New York Times bestselling author Keith Ferrazzi are among those who have attended Goenka’s meditation workshops.

They’ve realized meditation’s benefits: Staying focused and resilient can be difficult, especially for overworked CEOs who live stressful lives; however, research has shown that mindfulness meditation can boost long-term mental health.

As Chandra told a business publication, “Vipassana taught me how to maintain equanimity in all situations of life. This has helped me tremendously in business, more so in the tough times.”

Meditation helps you maintain a positive mindset.

It’s easy to stay positive when our careers are on a roll, but to be able to find happiness within, even during times of turbulence, is something else again.

Because the Vipassana philosophy emphasizes the concept of time, I had a lot of it to reflect on its nature and how it brings about change. Everything we experience, both good and bad, will come to an end. Vipassana taught me to enjoy the present moment to its fullest without worrying about the future or dwelling on the past.

With a cool, calm mind, you’ll be better able to appreciate life’s simple pleasures because you are unconcerned by thoughts of when the moment will end or whether or not you will have a similar experience again. While our circumstances are finite, our positivity is something that can be endlessly harnessed.

This is all part of creating an abundance mindset. When your happiness comes from inside, and you have an infinite well of positivity that you can tap into at any time, the way that you run your business is markedly different.

A related story: Christopher Hawker has said that when he began his company, he wanted to hire a salesperson but couldn’t afford one.

Rather than give up, he thought, “What I need is an amazing sales person with a ton of experience who also happens to be willing to work on a commission-only basis for a hardly existing company.”

Shortly after, he connected with a VP of sales on LinkedIn who wanted out of the 9-to-5 world, and the match was perfect. Had Hawker not cultivated his positive outlook, he never would have engaged with this person.

Meditation teaches you to be nonreactive.

When practicing Vipassana meditation — sitting still and silent as your physical and mental sensations come and go — you learn to observe, rather than react. By adding this layer of distance, we train our minds to respond rather than react, which helps us to gain a more thoughtful and holistic understanding of our situations. As the Association for Psychological Science reported, meditation increases compassionate responses to suffering.

And the result is an increase in tranquility. I was pleasantly surprised to discover this sense within myself after I returned from the meditation course. Without putting active effort into curbing my anger, I found I could reduce it naturally through meditation: I became a calmer, kinder person. I noticed an internal shift manifesting externally.

As we become more compassionate, we are better able look beyond ourselves and our own immediate business interests, helping us to understand long-term implications and the unique positions of all stakeholders. We stop thinking in terms of winning and losing, and friends and enemies, but instead feel the commonnality that we share with all of humankind.

In this context, seasoned entrepreneur and venture investor Chirag Patel told the Harvard Business Review that meditation had made him feel more connected to clients, colleagues and staff: “You start connecting to your customer as your family rather than merely a business transaction,” he said.

By increasing our capacity to empathize and decreasing our stress levels, meditation helps us thrive in all aspects of life, both personal and professional. Mental fortitude, insight and empathy are invaluable assets in any business, and meditation helps these qualities flourish. Perhaps this is why Goenka also created a Vipassana course specifically designed for business executives.  

Related: Meditation Isn’t Just For Hippies: Here is How it Can Help Entrepreneurs

Of course, you don’t need to set aside the time to complete a ten-day course to put meditation on your agenda this year. All you need is five minutes and a (preferably quiet) place to sit, lie down  or even stand. Your mind — and your business — will thank you.


The 10 Best New-Age Business Ideas You Haven’t Heard About Yet

You don’t have to over-utilize iPads and smartphones to transform your business into a modern one. Connecting with newer generations is easy when you take advantage of the cool, in-demand ideas at your fingertips. Here are 10 new-age business ideas to get you started.

1. Tiny houses.

Sometimes a 10,000 square foot mansion doesnt constitute a dream home. Plenty of college students and graduates seek tiny houses on wheels instead. Why? They let you travel the country without paying for pricey hotel rooms. Even with full amenities, they cost far less than a normal-size home — Tumbleweed’s tiny houses start at about $10,000. They’re cuter and more practical than RV’s, and they’re (almost) fully customizable. Some even have tiny porches to match.

No, tiny houses aren’t just a fad you see on HGTV; they also make up an entire movement and an awesome business idea. Though a couple companies already offer them, those companies don’t take advantage of the full range of possibilities. Very few tiny houses are stylishly decorated, and even fewer are optimized for pets. Maintenance companies tend to ignore the tiny house demographic, too — that’s another business idea, right there.

2. Healthy fast food.

Don’t be mistaken — fast food is thriving today just as much as it ever has. But today people seek out healthy alternatives to the greasy meals that make up much of fast food fare. Taco trucks, burger joints and ice cream stands just aren’t doing it anymore. Restaurants who offer acai bowls, quinoa-kale salads and whole-grain wraps are in.

One great little niche is the healthy fast food truck. Take Green Pirate and Nectar for example; both trucks offer fresh juices and smoothies to a different location every day. Native Bowl and Hola Arepa mix up creative bowls and salads full of fresh, local ingredients. If mobile fast food isn’t really your thing, don’t worry — restaurants like Green Tomato and Zoe’s Kitchen do just as well.

Related Book: Start Your Own Food Truck Business by The Staff of Entrepreneur Media, Inc. and Rich Mintzer 

3. Delivery services for just about anything.

Americans are working harder now than ever before. Between their jobs, school, family, social obligations and hobbies, people just don’t have time to pick up their own dry cleaning, or even to bring takeout to work. While this is a problem for most, it’s an opportunity for the modern entrepreneur.

It seems that, given the opportunity, people will pay to have just about anything done for them. They already pay Postmates and Uber Eats to deliver food to their homes and workplaces. Booster Fuels will fill up their cars wherever they are. And with the rise of services like Amazon Prime Now, people can have everything from groceries to electronics delivered to their doorstep in under two hours. The concept has already proven itself — all you have to do is figure out what you’d like to deliver.

4. Virtual reality (and its accessories).

Virtual reality (VR) is an impressive facet of modern technology. With a pair of goggles and the right computer hardware, you can immerse yourself in a variety of fascinating worlds using VR.

If you aren’t the most computer savvy person you know, never fear — you don’t have to be a programming genius to create a VR-centered business. In fact, most VR-related business ideas have nothing to do with the technology itself. Rather, you can start your own VR industry update website, where you write about new tech, games, software and more. You can sell creative cardboard headsets (like Google Cardboard, but cooler). If you are good at the programming side of things, you can create your own games and software . . . or you can help car companies and real estate agencies create virtual experiences.

5. Ethical business consulting

Ethical entrepreneurship and management is a huge focus of concern for this generation. It’s not just about protecting employees and vendors from discrimination based on race, gender, sexuality and religion — modern business owners and managers also worry about ethical product acquisition, social responsibility and environmental awareness.

Whether they’re first-time business owners or seasoned managers newer to ethical business, there are hundreds of potential clients waiting for an ethical business consultant to help them out. Maybe they’re going through a massive hiring period, and they’d like an ethics consultant to help protect job candidates from discrimination. Perhaps the company is working on making their products fully biodegradable for a “greener” demographic. There are countless areas you could work in, and the best part is, you can easily pick a specialty you find most interesting and engaging.

Related: 9 Business Ideas for People Looking to Cash in on the Marijuana Boom

6. Website rentals.

It’s 2016 — these days, everyone calls themselves a web developer. But do you know what very few people tend to say they do? Rent websites.

You read that correctly: creating websites from scratch for specific companies is now the old way of generating revenue from Web clients. Instead, Web devs are creating several websites at a time for a certain niche, then renting customizable versions of each site to local businesses. The businesses pay monthly for a website the developer maintains. It’s a great way to make passive income and expand your existing Web dev business — as long as you know what you’re doing.

7. High quality or raw pet food.

Pet owners are becoming increasingly careful about what they’re feeding their furry friends. It’s common knowledge nowadays that cheap food can sicken or even kill your pets, grains are sometimes detrimental to a pet’s health and raw pet food, when possible, is preferred over the dry stuff at the convenience store. If you have pets of your own, you may have heard some of these concerns before.

This is an outstanding opportunity for the modern entrepreneur. As long as pet owners are buying high quality food for their furry friends, you have room to create a brand-new business. You may start offering raw food for pets with specific allergies. You may even combine this idea with another one from this list: weekly pet food delivery, anyone? The possibilities are just about endless.

Related Book: Start Your Own Specialty Food Business by The Staff of Entrepreneur Media, Inc. and Cheryl Kimball

8. Edtech.

Have kids or younger siblings? If so, you may know that more and more classrooms are allowing computers, iPads, and even smartphones during lectures and school activities. With the rise of this new privilege comes the rise of edtech, or educational technology.  This can include “blackboard”-style student portals, educational games, online discussion platforms, assignment submission forms and much, much more. In fact, we’ve taken a stab at the edtech industry ourselves with the Kidpreneurs Academy. The Kidpreneurs Academy, a series of fun and interactive videos on young entrepreneurship, is a wonderful complement to a book we wrote that teaches kids seven through 12 the same concepts. Combined, «Kidpreneurs: Young Entrepreneurs with Big Ideas» and the Kidpreneurs Academy are our attempt at combining our area of passion and expertise (entrepreneurship) with youth education and the edtech industry.

It may seem like every type of edtech imaginable has already come to fruition, but realistically, a lot of today’s edtech is glitchy or impractical. Few online classroom resources do everything a teacher or student needs them to do; those that are actually complete are also inexplicably expensive. As an entrepreneur, it’s up to you to create (or sell) a solution that meets more than just one requirement at a time.

9. Activity bars.

Why go to a “normal” bar when you could visit a bar-slash-bowling-alley instead? Why go to a “regular” cocktail bar when you could hit up a speakeasy-style gaming parlor with your friends? For the newer generations, plain old bars just don’t cut it. Millennials want a pumped-up, engaging experience they’ll never forget.

This may not be a business you can execute online, but it’s a fun one nonetheless. Activity bars are popping up all around the country, most with bowling alleys and mini arcades. Can you come up with your own creative spin?

Related: 63 Businesses to Start for Under $10,000

10. Subscription boxes.

You see them all the time on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest: subscription boxes. Now, you can receive a monthly box of just about anything: international snacks, high-end makeup, stickers and even craft beer. There’s a subscription box for almost every hobby and personality… but not quite all. A subscription box business may just be the fun side biz (or full-time gig) you’ve been waiting for.

But what’s even better than shipping out subscription boxes? “Unboxing” them. One particular family of three, UnboxingRocks, has built a highly-engaged audience on YouTube by opening their favorite subscription boxes on camera, then reviewing the contents with viewers. If building and shipping subscription boxes isn’t quite your thing, then perhaps sharing boxes online is.

With these 10 new-age business ideas, it’s more possible than every to create the modern company you’ve been dreaming of. How will you place your own creative spin on these ideas?


A 30-Second Habit With the Power to Shift Your Perspective

All of us want to get ahead and progress to the next round of the video game we call life. Time has become more valuable than money, and we’re all looking for a quick fix or life hack we can use to improve ourselves. That’s where those overused things we call habits come in. You’ve read 101 blog posts on them and probably still not taken action.

That’s what my job is. I’m you’re online, blogging accountability partner. I’m going to secretly mess with your life every time you promise to take up a new habit and then don’t (I’m joking by the way, and I’m not stalking you, I promise). Let’s get serious for a minute. You’re probably unlikely to be in the 1 percent that wake up one day and make three decisions that completely change your life. That’s okay. This means you’re like the rest of us and need to start slowly and create a low barrier to entry. 

The good news is that all you need are these seven habits that take only 30 seconds each to complete:

1. Give yourself the chills.

Create a moment for yourself that makes you get the chills down your spine. We all have a piece of writing, video, song, etc, that makes us get the chills. Practice going through this exercise once a day for 30 seconds. These moments are what will help you see how others have inspired you and how you can do the same. Chase them like an addictive drug and remember to spread them to everyone around you. Choose these moments as often as you can.

Related: Bounce Back: The Inspiration Playlists of Multimillionaire Entrepreneurs

Right after experiencing the chills down your spine, step into a moment that makes you fearful. Use this habit before a major speech, presentation, job interview, pitch to investors, or even asking out the girl of your dreams. Let these moments help unlock your greatness and remind you of the best parts of life. Use them to propel you forward and make you unstoppable. Most of all, enjoy them.

2. Inspiring photos.

Your perspective will change when you start sharing inspiration. A quick 30-second habit is to share one inspiring photo per day. Here’s how you do it, so it doesn’t take more than 30 seconds:

  • Like ten motivational Facebook / LinkedIn Pages so you always have somewhere to get photos from.
  • Each day choose one photo from one of these pages that inspires you and share it on social.
  • Write one sentence about what this photo means and how it can help other people.

3. Compliment someone.

Your inner world will start to change, and your perspective will shift when you notice the good in people. Each day, compliment one person for 30-seconds. Make sure you mean it, and don’t lie to them. The easiest compliment to give is why someone inspires you or makes you feel good. At the end of your praising, thank the person and ask that they keep doing what they’re doing. Pretty soon you’ll have a bunch of people that will be bending over backwards to help you in your endeavors. You’ll also have references of good, quality people when you meet someone who is less than perfect and may upset you.

Related: How Thoughtful Leaders Earn Employee Loyalty

4. Take a breather.

Refocus on the here and now for 30 seconds. Before a big meeting, bring yourself back to the now. Know that no single action is going to destroy your world and everyone gets a second chance. Believe that what you have to offer is valuable. During that half-minute, while you think these thoughts, breathe slowly and deeply. Chill the heck out and remember not to take everything so seriously. People are way more stressed about their own problems to remember when you accidentally make a mistake.

5. Write three negative thoughts down.

Labeling thoughts as positive or negative will help shift your perspective. Each day, for 30-seconds, write down three thoughts that were negative. As you do this more often, you’ll find yourself labeling more thoughts. You’ll know you’re a Jedi Master when you start labeling negative thoughts as they happen rather than after the fact. You have the power but start small with 30 seconds. You’re not James Bond — yet.

6. Picture Quotes.

Yes, picture quotes have taken over the Internet. There’s a reason for it: they serve an important purpose. Each day for 30 seconds, look at one picture quote that you’ve discovered on social media. Read it a few times, and try to see how it could be relevant to your own human experience. When you’re ready, take it up a notch and share them out with your network, similar to the advice I gave earlier.

7. Look in the mirror (realize you’re awesome).

Spend half a minute looking at yourself in the mirror. Realize that you won the race against the thousands of other sperm in your battle for life and existence on planet Earth. Stare deeply into your eyes and look for that sparkle.

Related: 10 Successful Entrepreneurs on How to Be Awesome

It’s in this sparkle that the seed to your success will come from. Look carefully and see just how awesome you are. See the unlimited potential you hold, and use your mind’s eye to see that potential be released.

It’s time to take action.

Why can’t you change your perspective in 30 seconds? Of course you can. You can do anything if you believe you can. Try them out and if they don’t work, feel free to hurl abuse at me. I only say that because I’m 100 percent confident, you will see a shift in your perspective. What’s the worse that can happen? Thirty seconds here, 30 seconds there. You spend more time looking at Facebook and LinkedIn than you would ever spend doing these habits. Start now and send me a message to let me know how you go. 


Say Hello to Windows Goodbye

It has become second nature to hit the Windows Key + «L» combination when stepping away from my Windows PC or laptop in order to lock the screen. But it’s easy to forget to do if you’re called away urgently, leaving your system open for others to access. It looks as though Microsoft is set to solve this problem for Windows 10 users with a new feature called Dynamic Lock.

We already have Windows Hello available allowing users to unlock Windows 10 using their face, fingerprint or iris. Dynamic Lock aims to repeat that same ease of access for locking the operating system, which is why internally Microsoft refers to it as Windows Goodbye (a name they surely should use instead of Dynamic Lock!).


As Windows Central explains, Dynamic Lock will be an optional feature turned on in the Sign-in options of Windows 10. Once activated, it regularly checks to ensure you are still present at the computer. It’s unclear what will be used to determine this, or if the user will be given a choice of what checks to perform. However, it’s safe to assume a webcam could be used to visually check you are there, but also a lack of activity on the machine for a specified amount of time may also feature.

You can get close to the functionality of Dynamic Lock already. Simply enable a screensaver, set an inactivity time to trigger it and tick the option to lock the screen when it is active. Anyone approaching your PC will then need to unlock it to gain access.

If Microsoft gets this right, approaching and moving away from your machine will seamlessly unlock and lock it without any physical interaction being required. In so doing, it will make Windows 10 more secure by default in public environments as well as in one of the most common environments you find Windows PCs: busy offices.

For now, Dynamic Lock is a feature available to anyone running the latest Insider Preview build of the Windows 10 Creators Update. Hopefully it won’t be too long before it rolls out as a standard feature for the OS as part of a Windows Update.

More from PCMag


FBI Hostage Negotiation Tactics You Can Use Every Day

Where are we ordering takeout from? What new series are we going to binge watch tonight?

Everything in life is a negotiation. Sometimes, as in the aforementioned examples, the stakes are quite low. Bad results, at worst, are heartburn and boredom. But other times negotiations have much more on the line. Life and death, to be exact. These are the kinds of negotiations Chris Voss has dealt with for the better part of his professional career.

Voss is a 24-year veteran of the FBI, where in part he served as the burea’s lead international kidnapping negotiator. Recently Voss, now CEO of The Black Swan Group, sat down with The Science of Success Podcast with Matt Bodnar and producer Austin Fabel to share some of the amazingly effective negotiation strategies, techniques and tactics that the FBI uses in the field that can be translated to the business world. Read some of the takeaways and listen to the full episode embedded below.

Related:  FBI Director, Again, Says You Should Tape Over Your Webcam

Try the mirroring technique.

When in a negotiation it’s crucial to get as much information out of the other side as possible. Voss explains that by «mirroring» them and simply repeating three to five keywords in their last sentence, people are forced by nature to repeat themselves in a way that gives more information and clarifies their points. An example:

Person 1: To get someone to tip their hand and clarify, simply repeat the last three to five keywords in their sentence.

Person 2: You repeat the last keywords?

Person 1: Yeah, pretty crazy right? What that does is it causes me to explain my point again from a different angle, revealing more information that could be extremely valuable and also it helps you decipher my true desired outcomes and motivations.

Voss notes it feels extremely awkward when you are doing the mirroring, but insists that the other person almost never notices and actually feels listened to. Voss refers to this as the negotiation «Jedi Mind trick» as he says it works every time and no one knows you’re doing it.

Related:  Use This Green Beret Method to Find Out if Someone Is Trustworthy

Why you should ask “what?” and “how?” 

Voss explains that these two interrogatives can be extremely powerful in negotiating, as they encourage the other side to keep talking, to clarify and to eventually reveal their true intentions and motives. «You’d like to settle on these terms? What is it about that this 30-day window that works for you?” 

Likewise, with «how?” if someone demands $1 million in ransom, Voss’s response might be, “I understand, but I need you to take a look at the whole context here. Tell me, how am I supposed to do that?” This causes the other side to actually put themselves in your shoes. It forces them to be on your side for a moment, and in hearing them think out a plan, it can reveal hidden motivations.

Get past gatekeepers by including them.

Voss says that during hostage negotiations you’re often not speaking directly to the boss. Typically someone will be assigned to deal with law enforcement to simply give demands.

There’s a parallel in business as many times there are layers of gatekeepers, assistants and people who are not actually in charge before you get to the decisionmaker. In business and in hostage negotiations, trying to simply blow by these people is looking for trouble. If you talk down to an assistant, they’re not going to patch you through to the boss. Their inaction takes zero effort for them but provides a crushing blow to you.

Related:  7 Rules for Talking With Gatekeepers

Similarly, if you belittle the terrorist handling the phone he may freak and hang up on you. Voss recommends instead bringing them into the conversation. «How does what I’m proposing fit in with what you are trying to accomplish?» This creates a conversation and puts them in a position where they feel respected, and also feel the need to connect you to the decisionmaker.

Never lie to anyone you don’t plan to kill.

Voss says that there are long-term negative effects of lying. In a hostage negotiation, if you lie to someone, he says, you’d better kill them because if word gets out that the FBI will lie, the next group who takes hostages won’t even try to negotiate a compromise. Voss calls lying a «seductive trap.»

Related: Use This Secret Military Trick to Tell if Someone Is Lying

In any situation, it can be an easy way to get what we want right now, but if word gets out that you lie, you’ve lost all your leverage in the long run. So rather than killing someone, maybe don’t lie in the first place.