Business Burnout: What Is It and How Can We Avoid It?

Two of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money and Business/Entrepreneurship. Running a business, especially if it’s one you started personally, and it can exact a heavy toll. This toll can eventually lead to burnout. The following contributed post is thus entitled; Business Burnout: What Is It and How Can We Avoid It?

* * *


(image)

Are you suffering from business burnout?

Chances are, you may be, or you may be on the road to this very serious problem.

If…

– you no longer have a passion for what you are doing
– you feel stressed at the thought of going into work each day
– you have lost your creative edge with your projects
– you are getting snappy and irritated with yourself, your staff, and your customers

Then you may have business burnout. Or, as we said, you may be on the way to suffering from the problem.

We can get business burnout by…

– not getting enough rest each day
– working longer than we should be on a regular basis
– not dealing with the stresses that our business can cause us
– being hard on ourselves and our perceived failings

When you have business burnout, you are going to suffer. Your physical and mental health will take a knock, as you may have to deal with feelings of anxiety, depression, and exhaustion. And your business will suffer too, as your productivity will be low, the morale of your coworkers will take a hit because of your example, and you will struggle to keep things fresh within your business.

So, what can be done about it?

Well, if you are struggling to work because your mind and body are battling against you, then it may be time to take a rest. Outsource essential parts of your business to firms such as this web design agency or delegate more to your employees, and take a break. You need it – your health depends on it, as does your business.

However, if you haven’t hit business burnout yet, there are ways to avoid becoming the victim of the problem.

Consider the following.

(image)

1. Organize your day

How is your work-life balance? Are you taking enough breaks? Are you getting home at a reasonable hour? Organize your day, so you are able to take time to rest. Focus on your productivity, so you are able to go home without taking work with you. Cut out anything that might distract you from getting your work done on time. And create a schedule that allows you to do your job efficiently, with enough room for getting some headspace when you need it.

2. Delegate more

We have already suggested you should delegate more, especially when there are people within your team capable of taking on board some of your tasks. And as we also suggested, you might also outsource some of your work to other firms, especially those tasks that eat up your time, or that you are ill-equipped to deal with effectively. By handing over your workload, you are freeing up your time to focus on those tasks that are more prevalent to you, as well as giving you a clearer headspace to organize your day. Many hands make light work, so they say. Many hands will also lighten the burdens that may be overwhelming you.

3. Find your stressors

We all get stressed, but if you have any stressors that weigh on your mind more than most, you need to deal with them. Work out what they are, consider strategies to help you cope with the stress, and where possible, take steps to eliminate these stressors from your life. The sooner you can do this, the better!

4. Learn the art of saying no

The more you take on, the more overworked you will be, and the greater the chance of you suffering from burnout. Therefore, say “no.” If you are unable to take on another project, turn it down, as you may only hurt your business by handing in something with poor quality if you are already overworked. If you are asked to attend a meeting, be that at your place of work or elsewhere, consider why you should. If there is no need for you to attend, then don’t. And if you are tempted to stay late after work to complete something that lies unfinished, tell yourself “no.” You have a life outside of work, and you need to live it before you overwork yourself and feel the physical and mental consequences later.

5. Take time off occasionally

At the start of each quarter, book time off. It doesn’t matter whether you have a staycation or go for a vacation further afield, you still need to have that ‘me time.’ And when you are off work, leave any evidence of your business in your office. You need a clear break where you aren’t forced to think about your business, as you won’t get a proper rest otherwise.

So, how are you today? Feeling good? Or are you feeling tired and low, and in need of a rest? Whatever the case, consider what we have said today. Burnout is an issue for many business owners, but by taking care of yourself and your business needs, you don’t let it have to become an issue for you.

Take care, and thanks for reading!

The 4 Rules Of Business Data

Three of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money, Business/Entrepreneurship and Technology. Most businesses today manage enormous amounts of data and this comes with numerous considerations as it must be handled both efficiently and safely. The following contributed discusses four rules for this and is entitled, The 4 Rules Of Business Data.

* * *

Businesses work with data every day. Whether they collect, analyze, transfer or interpret, enterprises rely on data at every single step of their processes. With million sensitive pieces of information being stored and used as part of business activities, no company can afford to fail behind data management standards. Indeed, with the acquisition of confidential and sensitive data comes the responsibility of using these judiciously and safely.
Companies have a digital liability to honor for their employees and clients by following an explicit data management strategy. Admittedly, while every company is free to design their policy, you can find an overarching guideline to help you navigate through the troubled waters of data management. Typically, businesses are expected to respect four data rules:

Cloud computing offers excellent data accessibility

Make them compliant
Since May 2018 and the launch of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by the EU, the words data compliance have been on every mouth. In reality, data compliance refers to the need for a company to comply with the legal requirements in force regarding their data processes. For citizens from the EU zone, GDPR is the main data compliance body. However, you’ll find that your business needs to obey a variety of legal requirements depending on the kind of data you use. Medical data, for instance, respond to the HIPAA compliance – which you can ensure using the managed compliance services from NAHS for example. Schools and other education institutions need to comply with a different set of requirements. Banks also rely on specific data compliance bodies. In other words, your data need to be processed accordingly to the specifications in your sector.

Protect them from accidental loss and damage
Your data are precious. Losing them doesn’t only affect your day-to-day activities, but it also damages your credibility. Consequently, companies need to protect themselves from data disasters as best as they can. Every business need to deploy an effective and secure backup solution to recover everything that is vital to your business survival. Keeping a copy – physically or digitally, or even both – is primordial.

Data backup

Make them safely accessible to your team
Data management requires sharing, collaborating and research within the data collection. While holding physical data backups can be helpful in the case of loss or damage, it’s a waste of time when it comes to encouraging your teams to work together. Making your data accessible through a secure digital interface, such as cloud computing, employees with the ability to access the information they need in a click. However, the key focus about cloud solution is their security; your data should be only accessible to your coworkers.

Ensure they are correct at all times
Last; but not least, most confidential people data are deemed to evolve through time. People, indeed, can change their address, name, specific data preferences, and so on. As part of the GDPR regulations, users are allowed to request access to their information, for correction or removal purposes. Similarly, you need to maintain your customer data accurate even outside of the GDPR zone, which implies providing customers with the opportunity to correct the information.

Every business that works with data needs to follow the 4 rules of data management: Compliance, protection, accessibility, and correctness. Failure to respect these rules can lead to a loss in reputation, revenues, and competitiveness.

Tips On Buying Display Boxes

Two of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money and Business/Entrepreneurship. If you’re selling products in a ‘bricks and mortar’ store, it’s important to know how to position them and display them so that customers can best see them. The title of this contributed is thus entitled; Tips On Buying Display Boxes.

* * *

Effective advertising and branding is of paramount importance nowadays. Competition is stiffer than it ever has been and, therefore, you need to do all in your power to make sure you stand out from other companies. When it comes to in-store advertising, there is a lot you need to think about. A display box is a standard marketing product that all stores need to use. It gives you the opportunity to put some of your products in the limelight, so that shoppers are more likely to purchase them. Keeping that in mind, continue reading to discover the various factors you have to think about when you are looking for the best display box for your company’s in-store advertising.

https://app.fatjoe.co/writer/job/edit/325247

Branding

There is only one place to begin and this is with branding. Does the display box brand your business to full effect? Does it tie in with your corporate image? Everything you do nowadays needs to be a reflection of who you are as a company, whether it is sending a letter in the post or having a leaflet designed advertising your newest products. Display boxes are no different either. They need to tie in with your image and tie in with the feel and look of your store. You also need to think about what is going in side. If the product already comes in packaging, like resealable plastic bags, you need to keep the display box as minimalistic as possible so that the product packaging is on true display.

Quality

Aside from this, it is of the utmost importance that you purchase display boxes that are of a high quality. If the boxes in question look cheap or become damaged easily, what does this say about your company? It will have an extremely detrimental impact on your brand image. If you cut corners with advertising, then what else are you cutting corners with?

Feedback

You should also take the time to read reviews that have been left by previous customers. Not only should you read the feedback regarding the actual product you are considering, but you should also read the comments that have been left about the company. You want to be safe in the knowledge that you are going to benefit from a high quality service. If a company has a bad reputation this is something you should be able to pick up on with ease. After all, there will likely be a wealth of negative reviews on the Internet warning you not to use the company in question.

Price

Last but not least, price is an imperative factor to take into account when making any form of business expenditure and advertising products are certainly no different. After all, your advertising campaign is not going to be effective if you have broken the bank in order to fund it. The end goal is of course to make a profit. Thus, consider all of the factors that have been mentioned in this post already and let price be the final determining factor.

All in all, if you carefully consider the four key points that have been mentioned in this post then you should have no issue finding the best display boxes for your in-store advertising. Once they boxes arrive the only thing you need to do after this is select an effective place in store to place them.

What Should You Do When You Don’t Know What Your IT Needs Are

Three of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money, Business/Entrepreneurship and Technology. Most business enterprises today have Information Technology IT needs and its important to know what they are so you can make sure they’re met. The following contributed post is thus entitled; What Should You Do When You Don’t Know What Your IT Needs Are.

* * *

Image Credit: Unsplash

Every business is reliant on IT in some way. IT is what allows us to store, analyze and manipulate information to refine processes and improve results. In other words, IT is the system we use to track the number of sales a business makes and figure out a strategy for improving that number.

But the only problem is, most entrepreneurs aren’t IT specialists. This means that while you probably already know that you need some form of IT system, you may not know which system is best for you, or even if you would be better off designing your own.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to work out what you need and make sure that you get it. And, once you have your IT sorted out, computer support and network maintenance will certainly follow naturally.

Define the Problem You Want to Solve

The first step is to define the problem you want your IT system to solve. In many cases, this is simply about figuring out which existing system is the best fit. For example, if you are running a shop, you will want to track your stock, know exactly what is selling and be able to monitor your profits. You won’t need to get a specialist to design this for you as most shops work in pretty much the same way and have the same requirements.

However, if you are a more unique business operating system, your IT needs aren’t likely to be covered by something off the shelf, you may need to design your own. In this case, you should try to write down exactly what you want the software to do. For example, you may require clients to fill out a form which takes them to different pages according to their answers.

The simplest way to approach this kind of design is to start by asking questions. What you do want the person using the system to be able to do and what is the best route for them to take? We all rely on our intuition to guide us through life and technology is no different. Don’t try to be clever or over complicate things; create something that a child could navigate and you won’t go far wrong!

Find the Right Solution For Your Needs

Any designer should be able to work out an intuitive solution based on the problems that you present. When everything is set up and running exactly as you envisioned, you will see a major benefit so it is important that you get the details right early on. However, don’t be afraid to develop your idea as you go along. While Version One might be just fine, Version Two could perfect the system. And, it would be wise to know now that your business is likely to change over the coming years and build in that flexibility from the start!

Finding IT solutions doesn’t require a degree in computer science, you just need to be able to articulate a problem and then get help working towards a good solution. You might feel daunted now, but once you are in the thick of it, you will see just how powerful IT can be.

The Importance of Language In Business

Two of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money and Business/Entrepreneurship. In any of life’s arenas, language and communication is critical. In business it can be the difference between profit and loss. The following contributed post is thus entitled; The Importance of Language In Business.

* * *

Clearly, language is something that we all use every day, and it is an incredibly powerful tool which has to be mastered for many other essentials to take place. In the world of business, it is no different, and that is something which is worth considering if you are aiming to make sure that your business is as successful as possible. If you can find a way to master language in its many uses throughout a business, you will find that it makes a positive difference to how well your business is doing, so that is definitely something to consider. For that, you will need to be aware of all the ways in which language crops up in your business, and how it affects it too. Let’s take a look at that now, to get a little clearer on it.

Image Credit
Communication In The Office

You need to have clear communication in your offices if you are to hope for an efficient and expedient workplace, and this is something that a lot of managers are constantly trying to work on and improve. The fact is that the better the communication in the workplace, the more likely it is that things will go to plan. It is only when there is miscommunication and misunderstanding that real problems arise, so mastering communication in the workplace is hugely important. How can we do this, exactly? One powerful way might be to host regular training sessions in which employees learn how best to communicate with one another in the office. You might be surprised at how much of a difference this can make, and it is certainly something you will want to consider if you are hoping to improve how well your workplace works on a daily basis.

Expanding Overseas

One of the trickier forms of language in business is when you are expanding overseas and you need to speak with people who speak other languages. Unless you happen to be proficient in a common language, it is going to be a challenge to get any real communication underway – and that can affect the nature and effectiveness of your business massively. Fortunately, there are a number of solutions to consider. You can, for instance, communicate via email or direct messaging and simply translate one another’s messages – to translate your own before sending. But such online translation tools are rarely accurate, and you might be better off using a professional translation service – see these Para Plus translations reviews for an example of that.

Image Credit
Text & Its Shortcomings

When you have to communicate with anyone merely by text – for instance, online or via email – you might be aware of some of the less favorable aspects of having to do that. We have all had experience of being misinterpreted or having our tone misconstrued, and when this happens in a business setting it can have disastrous results. On these occasions, it’s best to switch to voice instead. You might find that this allows for a much more effective and expedient communication, with less worry.

Managing Your Employees’ Workflow

The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success and two key focuses are Business/Entrepreneurship and Career Discussions. When one transitions over employer/manager/supervisor, they now become responsible for managing the work of others. This is a skill and a task all. The following contributed post is thus entitled; Managing Your Employees’ Workflow.

* * *

Picture Source

When you become an employer, you take on a whole host of responsibility over your employers. At the end of the day, you are making money from their efforts and they are helping to build your dreams. So, the least that you can do is manage them effectively so that their working days are as comfortable and positive as possible! One area that tends to go relatively neglected when it comes to managing employees is monitoring and adjusting their work schedule. Here’s a little information on the subject!

The Importance of Workflow Management

Workflow management is extremely important for your business’ progression as well as your employees. It is essentially a means of ensuring that employees know what they need to do in order to keep your business moving forward and a means of ensuring that this happens. You should provide your employees with set projects so that they know what tasks they need to undertake and how long they have to do this. Most of us will do this anyway. However, you also need to remember to let employees know why they are working towards this objective and what they are likely to do once the project is completed. This gives them more of a sense of purpose. They will see where their work is heading and they will feel that they are working towards something rather than simply completing tasks and checking boxes. If you’d like to learn more about this, you can find out more on the subject through Umlaut.

Conducting Regular Check Ups

It is important to maintain regular contact with your staff. Try to arrange meetings part way through projects to ensure that everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing and to see how they are progressing. This will provide you with the opportunity to ensure all work is being carried out as you hoped and also gives employees the opportunity to raise any queries or concerns. If you fail to do this, problems will generally be kept quiet and you may come to the deadline of a project only to find that it needs to be extended or altered due to problems that could have been confronted and cleared up earlier.

Meeting Employees’ Personal Needs

It is also a good idea to have one to one meeting with employees to check whether their personal circumstances have changed. Health complaints or personal problems could mean that you may need to reduce particular employees’ workflow for their wellbeing. Improvements in personal conditions could mean you can increase their responsibilities.

These are just a few of the basics when it comes to managing your employees’ workflow. Make sure to look further into the subject to ensure that everyone is working effectively and comfortably!

The Relevance of Revision: Prepare Better For Your Next Exam

The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success and a key focus is General Education. Most high achieving students have a specific set of keys they follow to excel which low achieving students don’t. Understanding and incorporating these keys will generate better results for both high school and college students. The title of the following contributed post is thus entitled, The Relevance of Revision: Prepare Better For Your Next Exam.

* * *

Pic credit

When you think about the student lifestyle, it’s probably a vision of fun and relaxation that comes to mind. You roll out of bed late, attend a couple of seminars and then hit the pubs and clubs with your friends- what could be stressful about that? However, the reality of being a student in any capacity is much different. Particularly towards the ends of terms and during exam season when coursework and exams are looming over your head. It’s incredibly stressful as there’s so much pressure involved. All of the time, money and effort you’ve spent learning a subject all comes down to how well you perform in these set tests. If you find that you’re just not good at exams, don’t stress as there are things that can be done. If you go about it in the right way, you can walk into your exams knowing that you’ve put the work in and all of the information and knowledge is in your head. Here’s how you can go about it.

Attend all of your lectures and seminars
If you want to to well in your exams, it makes sense that you’ll attend all of the lessons, lectures and seminars throughout the year. This allows you to learn each topic in depth and ensure you fully understand it. As a student, it’s easy to miss lectures- too much alcohol the night before, staying up too late or just being lazy can have you thinking ‘I’ll miss this one and catch up.’ The trouble is, when you come to revise, you end up having to teach yourself the entire topic. If the work is complex then you might struggle doing this, and it generally adds a lot of stress and extra time to your revision schedule. Make sure that you’re attending all of the set classes, if you do find that you’re stuck or not following, arrange a session with your tutor or at least send them an email asking them to answer the questions that you have. If you skim over it, it will only come back to bite you later on, everything you’re being taught in the course could be on the exam so you need to know it. One way to make sure you’re really getting the most out of your lect

Get as much one-to-one help as you can
If your tutor is offering one-to-one sessions to answer students questions or running smaller study groups then take advantage of this. In larger lectures there are so many other people in there that you don’t always get the chance to ask everything that you need to know. In smaller groups, you and others can ask questions and also learn from each other. Your tutor is likely to be very busy, but if you are able to squeeze in any time with them it can be highly beneficial, even if it’s just a few minutes to answer your questions after a lecture.

Set up student study sessions
Speaking of smaller student study groups, if these don’t already exist at your college or university then why not set something up? Thanks to social media it’s easy to connect with your classmates, you could always set up a group with a time and date and invite people to join. There will be places in the university you could go, or you could go to a coffee shop or even a cafe and set yourselves up in one corner. It’s a chance for you to test yourselves, talk through different topics and can even help you to settle your nerves if you know there are others in the same boat as you. Set up flash cards and challenge each other, compare notes and generally get as clued up as you can about the topics on the exam. Whether it’s a group of three or a group of twenty, these kinds of sessions could really help you all.

Create a revision timetable
One of the most important things about revising is spending enough time covering each topic. One of the best ways to do this is to draw up a revision timetable- and stick to it. Work out how many topics you have, and how long you have until the exam. Then you can split up the time, and then divide up each topic however you see fit. In some tests such as the IAS exam, it will be made up of a number of parts, so you’ll need to make sure you’re prepared for each section. You can read more about this online. It’s crucial that you’re realistic in your timetable, you still need time each day to relax, socialise and do other things outside of revision so that you don’t end up completely burned out. But on the other hand, everything needs to be covered properly or you’ll end up cramming and stressing at the last minute.

Minimise distractions
When you have something unpleasant that needs to be done (namely, revise for exams) it’s easy to find any way you can to avoid this. You might not even realise you’re doing it, but end up putting other tasks before your revision. Some people even end up doing tasks they’d normally avoid (such as cleaning or laundry!) as in their minds, it’s better than revising. Minimise distractions, go to your study area and make a note of the time. Turn off the tv and your phone, and use a browser that isn’t’ logged into any social media to avoid you mindlessly clicking on it. Study for the amount of time you’ve decided without anything else taking your mind off it.

Keep stress down
Finally, revising in a highly stressed state isn’t going to benefit you. Exams are stressful, but you need to find ways to cope and manage things. Take a hot bath each evening, meditate or exercise. With a clear head you’ll find things go in and stay there much more easily. Which is exactly what you want when you’re revising!

Where Your Business Is Wasting Time And What To Do About It

The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success. Two of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money and Business/Entrepreneurship. Arguably our most valuable resource is time and the same is true for your business enterprise. It’s thus valuable to maximize time and not waste it. The following contributed post is entitled; Where Your Business Is Wasting Time And What To Do About It.

* * *

Do you realize that your business could actually be wasting an inordinate amount of time? If you’re not actively making sure your business is being as productive as possible and making the most of time and other resources you have available, you might really struggle to make your business a success.

Below, we’re going to discuss why your business is wasting time and what you can do about it. Take a look and you’ll change your business for the better:

author

You’re Still Doing Reports That Are No Longer Necessary
There’s a tendency in both public and private sector businesses to do reports more often than necessary. Compiling these reports is without question one of the biggest wastes of time and resources. Not only is time wasted when they are created, but by even looking at them and discussing them!

Using Social Media Too Often
You do need to use social media as a business, but if it isn’t being used properly then it’s just a huge waste of time. One specific mistake often made is that companies aren’t looking at the analytics of their social media promotion – if you’re not looking at this how will you ever know if it’s working? Algorithm changes are something you need to take into account too. This means analytics and data reporting are essential. Hiring a social media manager who has got to grips with all of this will be a huge help.

Not Updating Your Outdated Processes
Just because something worked when you started business 10 years ago doesn’t mean that it needs to be done in the same way today. If this is your attitude then you probably have a ton of outdated processes that need to be updated. There are likely all kinds of software and machinery that can help you to become more productive and efficient; letting computers take control of workflow management can save time, increase efficiency, and more.

You’re Not Outsourcing Correctly
Outsourcing correctly is imperative to your business. Business IT Consulting for example, can help your business to save a ton of time, as well as a fortune in terms of saved downtime. With the right partners you can make your business far more efficient. You have to get rid of the urge to keep everything in house, as this is never the most effective thing to do!

Communicating Too Much
If employees are always communicating by email or chat, it can be a waste of everybody’s time. Encouraging open communication is a must, but there’s a difference between communicating productively and communicating all day without really getting anything done. Make sure they know the difference. You shouldn’t micromanage or ban them from talking, but they should know how to do so effectively.

Are you wasting time in your business any of the above ways? What are you going to do about it? Leave your own thoughts below. Thanks for reading!

I still don’t have a car in 2018: A story about playing financial chess

“Most successful people operate off a healthy fear of failure!”

Three of the principles of my blog are: Creating Ecosystems of Success, Wealth Building and Long-Term Thought. Hell, I’ll also pull in both Creative and Critical Thought. As we’re riding into December of 2018, I’ve wondered what to write next. A friend of mine who runs her own magazine and has her own audience suggested that I write something about budgeting. I do intend to do that, but my mind thought back to something I wrote on the Examiner several years ago which will serve as a nice prelude to budgeting. It involves several important considerations when budgeting, and it might admittedly ‘trigger’ some people, but try to keep in mind the overarching messages.

I originally published a series called, You Still Don’t Have a Car Yet? around 2012. It was inspired by a question from a lady friend who went to my church and whom I briefly dated. We bumped into each other again one Sunday and she was surprised that I still didn’t have a car after getting rid of my old Saturn SL2 which was on its last leg. I heard in her voice that there was more to her question – something I’d experience again in the future.

Now, driving is expensive. It’s by no means cheap to get on the road. You have to undergo a series of driving lessons with a professional to ensure you have a proper license and don’t face issues revolving around Complaint Fraudulent License/ID down the line. When you get a car, it costs. On top of the original outlay, you need to make sure you can afford fuel, maintenance, tax, insurance and more. Upgrading really does require a lot of thought and financial commitment.

It’s a topic that never gets old, and instead of resurrecting and republishing the entire series, I’m simply going to pull out its main points and discuss why I still don’t own a vehicle six years later. Keep in mind that this piece was written from the perspective of a single man (due to life circumstances), and your life may be different. I hope you enjoy it and that it inspires discussion in your own circles. So, let’s dive in.

* * *

My personal finances crashed and hit rock bottom right around 2011 – two years into my federal science career. I started my career with very little savings based upon my educational path and life circumstances. I was still a new homeowner and just paid out my entire $8,500 “Obama Tax Credit” for a condominium project I didn’t know about before closing – the first of many ‘assessments’ over the years which ended up equaling the price of a brand-new car. I also tried my hand in the investing world, at one point trying to do too many things at once, both money- and time-wise. The result was getting into a debt hole of greater than $20,000 on top of my student loan and other bills.

Around that time, I was fortunate that two friends shared Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Peace University (FPU)” with me and over the course of the next five to six years, they invited me to help teach the class with them at our church. I was also fortunate that I met a mentor who ‘adopted’ me into his group of proteges. He was very strong-willed and had a business background. He both taught me and stayed on me about some important aspects of money including: understanding what a ‘Net Worth’ is, saving into my retirement account and getting my ‘Matching Contribution’, and understanding the ‘Law of Compounding Interest’.

Now armed with this new information, it started guiding my decision making. FPU is admittedly just one of many financial programs out there, and it works very well. There are several others, but for the sake of my familiarity with it I’ll discuss it. A major pillar of it is budgeting – numerically think about your ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ with the aim of getting out of debt, building up an ‘Emergency Fund’ and then positioning yourself to stay ‘liquid’, invest, and give. To get a feel for why this important, I’ll once again refer you to back to Ylan Q. Mui’s 2016 article from the Washington Post entitled; The shocking number of Americans who can’t cover a $400 expense.

This is a good place to introduce the concept of ‘Cash Flow’. Cash flow is simply the amount of money you have left over once all your monthly bills and obligations are paid. The greater your expenses and debts are, the less cash flow you’ll have. The less they are, the greater your cashflow will be and the more life choices you’ll have. You’ll probably also have a healthier state of mind and body as financial stress can impact your overall quality of life.

When I looked at my budget in 2012, I sought to identify where I was trying to go in life and then what my needs and wants were. I wanted to live in a place of abundance, and I didn’t ever want to feel the shackles of debt again. I also didn’t want to be in position to have to ask relatives or friends for financial help ever again. Finally, I wanted to go that next step where I had an emergency fund, where I could get some investments, and lastly where I could help others – giving back to my alma maters for example.

While there were quite a few surprises in my condominium complex, it was a smart buy because it was right next to the metro. As such owning a car became less of a priority. Let’s unpack that a little bit. Keep in mind that I’m not telling anyone that they should get rid their car.

For you it might be something else and this would admittedly my approach may not work in cities like: Atlanta, Buffalo and Charlotte. In any case when I looked at my budget, getting rid of my car meant getting rid of: car insurance, gas charges, upkeep and maintenance, having to renew the vehicle’s registration, and any other associated costs. The state of Virginia charges personal property taxes on vehicles for example.

Yes, it was strange at first not having a car in my parking space and not being able to jump in a vehicle and drive off whenever I wanted to. As I describe later though I adjusted. It was a ‘trade off’ as the great Dr. Thomas Sowell says – giving up something in the short-term for what I saw as a greater gain in the long-term. I included the game of Chess in the title because like this, winning that game involves an understanding of the value of the pieces in your army, and in some cases, sacrificing your lesser pieces early on to ultimately win the game.

Let’s move on to some other important concepts. Among the things I learned from Robert T. Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad books were the concepts of ‘Assets’ and ‘Liabilities’. Under Robert’s definitions, assets are things that put money in your pocket every month, while liabilities are things that take money out of your pocket every month.

One of the things he described in his books under liabilities was cars. Was he saying not to buy cars? No, but he was encouraging his readers to look at finances in alternative ways – in this case while cars are symbols of power for some people, they also ultimately take money out of our pockets.

Speaking of which, something that’s been documented in numerous books and which wasn’t explained to me early on was that brand-new cars depreciate significantly as soon as you drive them off the lot. This is something I pondered as I decided to get rid of my car and not immediately get another one. I also realized that I was never really a ‘car guy’ meaning that I never really fantasized or obsessed over them. In fact, I got to a point where saw them as ‘necessary evils’ in a way which were put here to keep us dependent on the energy and auto industries, and at the mercy of those running them.

I’d like to now introduce the concept of ‘Minimalism’. Though this was always a part of my nature, I didn’t know what exactly it was though I had been called both ‘cheap’ and ‘frugal’ in my lifetime. Minimalism is basically the practice of getting what you need, and not wastefully looking to consume more. I credit writer and YouTube content creator Aaron Clarey for the term because I first heard it from him – something he encourages – something which goes against the grain of most of our society. If you’re in the mood for a laugh, his video content on culture and economics are both very funny and insightful.

* * *

“If you live right next to the metro, why would you own car?” I’m going to say something controversial here. I’ve gotten this reaction from a certain group of people. It’s the same group of people who are content to eat soup and sandwiches according to my Dad as described in my piece entitled; Challenging Misconceptions in Wealth, Income and Privilege. I’ve gotten the ‘side-eye’ from another group of people, and for the single guys reading this, I’ll just say that many ladies frown upon a man who doesn’t own a car. Interestingly the other more important aspects I described above usually don’t come up in conversations about why I don’t own one.

I’ve also been ‘clowned’ about it in some instances. When you’re doing something like this, knowing in your heart why you’re doing it, and keeping your goals in mind is very, very critical when someone challenges you. Oh, and if you’ve thought it out and it’s working, don’t argue with anyone over it. It’s not worth it. This is an instance where even in adulthood, being the leader of your own life and not caving into peer pressure is key.

How does one get by without owning a car? Well again it helps to live right next door to a metro system. My first year of college at SUNY Brockport, I was amazed by the number of classmates from New York City who didn’t have their driver’s licenses. Where they were from, they just didn’t need them and openly admitted that.

Once I got rid of my car, I now noticed that there were quite a few other people in the Washington, DC metro area using “Zipcars”. Then within the last couple of years ‘ride share’ programs and ‘apps’ like “Uber” and “Lyft” became prevalent. Admittedly if you need to go to an area that’s further out, it usually requires some planning – maybe using a Zipcar, or maybe just renting one, but again you must keep your overarching goals in mind.

Again, it’s a tradeoff. There’s a definite convenience to getting in your car whenever you want to and zipping off some place, and that’s what you’re paying for when you own one unless of course it’s giving you some sort of social prestige or personal confidence boost. How much is that convenience worth to you?

So in summary, again I’m not telling anyone what they should do with their lives. I chose to make a tradeoff (a car and certain people) with specific goals in mind. Now that I had a grasp on money and finance as described above, my new ‘drivers’ (no pun intended) were:

• To become ‘financially peaceful’ and to build wealth;
• To be able to handle all the costs associated with homeownership – something I stumbled into which came with its own set of financial costs and surprises and;
• To maximize my cashflow so that I could save, invest and to be able to give.

In terms of giving, we often think about giving to our churches and alma maters but sometimes there are other needs. A fellow alumnus from Johnson C. Smith University recently needed to raise money to buy winter clothes for the students at his school in Grand Rapids, MI. Because of some of the personal choices I’d made, I was easily able to support his effort and help the kids in his community stay warm this winter.

Again, major components to all of this are long-term thought, and budgeting which I’m going to cover shortly in its own blog post. Another important piece is being a secure individual, following the beat of your own drummer and not being peer pressured into keeping up with other people’s thoughts of what’s acceptable for your life. The other piece is being malleable and willing to continue to learn more information and applying it to your life.

* * *

I’m going to end this post with some quotes. The opening quote for this piece is from the popular and outspoken sports talk show host Colin Cowherd who weaves life parables into his sports commentary. This one involves our personal drivers and motivations. “My investing advice to the average individual, is don’t be average,” is a quote that has stayed with me from Robert Kiyosaki’s books. It involves thinking outside of the box and doing the opposite of the crowd.

Dave Ramsey’s famous quote is, “We’re going to live like no one else, so later we can live like no one else!” It involves making temporary sacrifices for greater gains later. Finally, one of the content creators on a YouTube show I regularly watch often says to, “Keep your savings high, and your overhead low!” I think you get the picture. What are your motivations and where are trying to go in your life?

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. If you enjoyed this one, you might also enjoy:

Your Net Worth, Your Gross Salary, and what they mean
A look at the Law of Compounding Interest and why you should care
My personal experience with Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snowball revisited
The difference between being cheap and frugal
We should’ve bought Facebook and Bitcoin stock: An Investing and technology story
Challenging misconceptions and stereotypes in class, household income, wealth and privilege

If you’ve found value here and think it would benefit others, please share it and or leave a comment. To receive all of the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right-hand column in this post and throughout the site, or by adding the link to my RSS feed to your feedreader. Please visit my YouTube channel entitled, Big Discussions76. Lastly follow me on Twitter at @BWArePowerful, on Instagram at @anwaryusef76, and at the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page. While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.

Interface: Creating A Computer Literate Team

Three of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money, Business/Entrepreneurship and Technology. In today’s digital age, computer literacy is critical to working on any staff in any organization. It therefore becomes very important to create a computer literate team. The following contributed post is thus entitled; Interface: Creating A Computer Literate Team.

* * *

(Image Source)

As time goes on, computers are playing an increasingly central role in the work which businesses have to do. With most of the data your company uses being stored on machines like this, and all of the software you need to do your job having to have them to run, it’s impossible to avoid filling your offices and back rooms with devices like this. Of course, though, it isn’t enough to simply have the hardware. Along with this, you also need to have a team of people who all have the skills to do their jobs. To help you in achieving this goal, this post will be exploring the steps which have to be taken to make someone computer literate.

Learning

This all hard to start with some learning, as these sorts of machines aren’t exactly easy to use when you first get started. Thankfully, there are loads of companies out there offering basic computer courses in a range of different topics. This makes it possible to tailor the learning your employees go through to the work which it will be applied to when all is said and done. There aren’t many fields out there which allow you to be so specific.

Practice

Practice is important when it comes to learning anything, and technology is no exception. If your employees don’t have computers at home, they need a chance to have some fun and explore them properly while they are at work. Nothing is scarier than the unknown, and this can quickly be wiped away once your team all know how they’re supposed to do their jobs. Of course, this is the same with most of the tools your company uses.

Confidence

It’s easy to become worried about using computers when you’re told that viruses are dangerous, files can be lost, and the machines are fragile. While all of this is true, though, it doesn’t mean that they will break when you’re using them for normal jobs. It’s worth working hard to make sure that your employees have the right skills when it comes to computers, but it’s also crucial that they feel confident enough to use them.

Support

Finally, as the last area to consider, it’s time to think about the support your teams can get while they are working. There is nothing which boosts confidence more than knowing that you have a professional waiting to give you a hand whenever you need it, and outsourced IT support has become a huge market because of it. Of course, though, you need to read plenty of reviews before choosing a company like this, as they will all offer different levels of service.

With all of this in mind, you should be feeling ready to get started on the time you put into building a computer literate team for your business. A lot of companies struggle in this area, finding it hard to know where to turn when their teams are bad with these machines. Of course, though, this never has to be the case, especially when you’re willing to put some time into making it better.