5 Ideas For Businesses You Can Launch For Cheap Or Even Free

Are you looking for easy and cost-friendly money-making projects? Do you want to earn extra income without having to withdraw most of your savings account? Well, I might just have the answer to those questions.

Starting your own enterprise does not always require a lot of money and a degree in Business Administration. There are a number of businesses that require only your time, skills, and a little from your pocket. All you need to do is tap into your creativity, resourcefulness, and perseverance.

Moreover, ask yourself about marketable talents that others might be able to make use of, and then find ways to let them know that you offer such services. It does not have to be something elaborate and you can even just utilize your social media accounts to let people know you are an entrepreneur on the rise.

So here are a few simple and economical business ventures you can start with:

1. Pet sitting.

This business only requires one thing, your unconditional love for animals and anything furry. A lot of people these days have their own house pet, and there are situations when they cannot bring their beloved critter with them. So, why not turn that into an opportunity to earn a few dollars?
You do not need an office or a capital to start this business; however, having a lot of friends with pets would be an advantage.

2. Online Freelance Writing

If you have a knack for literature, and secretly corrects everybody else’s grammar, then this might be a good business to start with. You can create an online profile highlighting your expertise and pose sample of your work and other related projects.

Another way to market your skills is to set up a blog. The key is to choose a specific niche in order to build an online presence.

3. Virtual Assistant

Virtual Assistants are like online admin assistants who are hired by professionals to do mundane admin tasks which they no longer have time to do. You will either sort through emails, write a few communications, and do research.

To make this a lucrative business venture, you will need your own laptop, stable internet connection, and flexibility in your schedule.

4. Babysitting

A lot of parents these days need to work and have a very little amount of time to relax, which is why the demand for babysitters have also increased. Though experience is not a necessity, growing up with little brothers and sisters would be a great advantage on your part.

Also, a little insight into child psychology would impress parents because as we know parents want the best for their children. Patience and tolerance are rather important when dealing with kids, but if you know magic, you are definitely a winner.

5. Homemade goodies

If you make killer homemade cookies or cupcakes, you got a gold mine right there. A lot of big bakeshops these days started out in their kitchen and had slowly taken off as soon as a lot of people had heard of their products.

Some cupcake bakers open online shops on Instagram and take orders through their page. It saves you money and time for marketing, and you can start your bakeshop even without the actual shop.

Introducing Luke Garrett: An Upcoming Investor Who’s On The Verge Of Achieving Financial Freedom

There are several young investors right now who are making their way to becoming rich by getting into smart investments and one such upcoming investor who’s on the verge of achieving financial freedom at such a young age is Luke Garrett.

Luke grew up in a small town just outside of Liverpool, England, with mixed Middle Eastern and British roots from his mother’s side.

From an early age, he has always been fascinated with the mechanics of how business works, he’s always wondering why people buy things the way they do, or what makes one service better than another – pretty much pushing the boundaries of both service and products.

His mentality actually evolved from his grandfather who was a successful businessman himself. Back then he would always tag along with his grandfather on his day-to-day dealings just watching, listening, and learning.

Having thought long and hard about how he could build, maintain and expand wealth, he looked at those on the Forbes List whom he considered to be innovators, trailblazers, and visionaries for inspiration and he saw a pattern: these innovators took something simple and made it so much better for everyone. They all came from varied backgrounds and are considered leaders in their respective fields. Luke figured out that these trailblazers all had a clear common factor when it comes to their investments and assets: it’s real estate.

Luke currently works at NED Capital, a company that is one of the most respected and service focused banks in England and he’s passionate about helping people get into real estate to achieve financial freedom. MoneyCentral magazine recently caught up with Luke to discuss his journey as an investor and here’s what went down:

What was the process for you to finding what you wanted to do?

I regard myself as being extremely fortunate in that I knew the path I wanted to take from an early age. This gave me focus and precision.

My academic “career” ended at 16, and I vividly remember getting home from the last day of school and whilst my friends were busy planning parties, I was on the internet searching for my first investment property, calling estate agents, making connections, speaking to my parents about financing these projects!

Whilst my passion was driving my motivation, I quickly realized that passion wasn’t enough, you needed capital.

I decided to get a job in a local barbershop. 6 months on, I saw an opportunity in the fast-growing male grooming industry. 18 months later at the age of 19, I opened my own male grooming salon. My focus was, again, on quality of service, the materials I used, and the time – all differentiators in my mind.

This experience gave me the impetus to launch into the property development market.

The reality for me is that finding out what I wanted to do was a process, not an event. A man cannot be pregnant but can learn how to be a great parent!

What has been the most memorable experience of being in the property industry so far?

So far, it must be the moment I completed the purchase of my first property and receiving the keys. People look at these things as a sacrifice, but to my mind, this was part of my investment into my future.

What was ironic is that whilst my friends were traveling, at university, taking vacations, I was working hard and trying to create my future.

It reminds me of some great advice I received: The thorns on a bush are there to protect the beauty of the roses. In other words, be aware of the challenges and plan for the solutions to them as the objective is worth it.

Not all experiences are positive ones, and these are the ones I benchmark myself against – for example, because of my relatively young age in an industry where people often quote the number of decades they have been involved in, I was not taken seriously. I turned this negativity into a positive and which will hopefully encourage other younger people to enter the industry. There is no minimum bar to entry in real estate!

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

I have found that some people are in “transmit” mode, others are in constant “receive” mode. Those that have influenced me have been my first employer later to be my business partner. He was the first person to instill the importance of self-education and success, which was a solid foundation and a great path to follow.

Property is about the presentation of the product, gaining insights into what a buyer or me, as a developer/investor, wants, the goals, and objectives. My grandfather has been instrumental in teaching, then guiding, and now watching from afar and asking me for advice! To me, that is a humbling moment.

What makes your organization different than your competitors?

In four words: Attention to detail and specialization.

At NED Capital, specializing in a niche market is the easiest way to make the competition irrelevant. We are in a highly favourable position to be self-funded and therefore have a reputation to be able to move and close deals, sometimes within hours, but usually within a few short days.

Decision making is key – our structure is designed from the bottom up to empower decisions to be made by individuals, not computers.

By narrowing down your target audience to a specific group, you can be considered an expert in your niche and easily become the best in your field. For me this is luxury.

I try to find out everything possible about the areas I am looking to invest in, their income, the cost of schooling, the average spend on leisure, crime rates, even the ratio of single to married people!

But what is unique at our company is this: investment targets are set not by return, but by spend, in other words, we MUST invest our portfolio budgets each year. That, to me, is unicorn-like!

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the property industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.

Great question!

Lessons never arrive without a “plus one”, nor does success – a team effort is critical.

The property industry is a powerful economic, cultural, and emotional force. I always remember that the decisions I make can affect not only my own future but those of others, the surrounding area, and a generation to come.

My biggest lessons have been to trust the wrong people, resulting in wasted time and money – all equaling lost opportunities. However, I am so grateful for those lessons as without CO2 we can’t have O2!

Who has impressed you most with what they’ve accomplished?

Perhaps I am inverting the question here, but I respect and admire people who have made mistakes equally with those I laude.

There is a humility in being able to learn from someone who has “made it” and then “lost it”. Their journey has created turbulence within themselves.

My most admired person is definitely all my teachers at school who constantly drummed it into me to follow my ambitions – one was always careful never to call them “dreams”, but ambitions that can be realized through hard work and surrounding myself with smart people.

Tell us about something you are proud of – about your greatest challenge.

Achieving what I have achieved without going to university.

I see too many people my age buying into the illusion that if you don’t go, your life will be ruined – that you will end up trapped in some other mundane occupation.

The truth is, even with a university degree, there is no guarantee of progress, you will just begin your ‘career’ four or five years later, tens of thousands of pounds in debt. I wanted to break this mould through hard work, sacrifice, and dedication.

Overall, there is no “greatest” challenge, it is all about life’s stages, motivations, and innovative thinking. This forms my mental attitude.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Always be prepared to walk away from a negotiation, but with dignity and respect. This is distinctly different than walking away with frustration.

You can’t bring emotions into deals.

Trust your numbers. Be open to scrutiny.

Too many people become emotionally attached to deals and this is the absolute worst thing you can do. Always be prepared to walk away!

What takes up too much of your time?

A relentless inability to switch off. The constant strives to better my business and those with who I interact with. I am, and this is a cliché we have all heard, my own worst critic!

What does being a successful real estate entrepreneur entail?

I passionately believe in three main attributes:

● Drive and determination – you will encounter challenges and disappointment almost every day. Remember that you have the ability to bounce back and push forward. Not everyone has that ability.

● Calculated risks – everyone is familiar with the term “no risk no reward” but the risk has to be mitigated with thorough due diligence. This enables you to not maximise profits, it is the maximisation of opportunities that results in profits, not the other way around. People look at the bottom line, where the detail is in the approach and opportunity to that approach.

● Building relationships – the single most absolute constant trait in real estate is building long-lasting relationships for mutual benefit.

This will be the backbone of your organisation, having people contact you first before anyone else is always my objective. Then, and only then, can you be confident they will go the extra mile for you.

Meet The Man Behind The Cover Of The October 2020 Issue Of MoneyCentral Magazine: Tendul Raj

A serial entrepreneur, Tendul Raj is a leading expert in the Bitcoin, Blockchain, and Crypto industries. He is on a personal mission to develop a culture of entrepreneurship, helping start-ups achieve their full potential as well as ] expand existing companies. His overall mission is to foster a society of economically independent individuals who are engaged citizens, contributing to the improvement of their communities across the world. In fact, he has built a career revolutionizing the financing industry across the globe and he currently consults and advises for a range of multi-million dollar companies.

Born and raised in Pondicherry, Tendul’s entrepreneurial journey started when he was 22. Soon after graduating from college, he started planning to start his own company. During the crucial stages of starting his new business, Tendul experienced sleepless nights for several weeks as he worked tirelessly day and night establishing the new company. Finally, after all the struggles and hardships, Nextazy Solutions Pvt Ltd was born. He also decided not to limit Nextazy with just a single vision – he wants Nextazy Solutions to provide blockchain solutions and AI-related services.

Tendul now focuses on the Blockchain industry and offers advice, consulting services, connections to Blockchain experts, and investor relations strategies.

MoneyCentral magazine recently caught up with Tendul to discuss his journey as an entrepreneur and here’s what went down:

What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?

Currently, my team and I are working on two big technologies – Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence. I was so driven towards Blockchain technology that I decided to provide Blockchain-related product solutions and services. AI is my new favorite. It has been three years since I developed an unconditional bond with AI. Learning AI helped me grow my business and myself.

What social media platforms do you usually use to increase your brand’s awareness?

All social media platforms are good. Each platform follows different algorithms and has its own advantages and disadvantages. I always prefer Instagram and Linkedin to increase brand awareness.

I use Instagram not only for brand awareness, but also to convey my ideas, innovations, messages, showcase the work we’re doing, and above all interact with interesting people. And I prefer Linkedin to connect with other businesses and like-minded people.

What is your experience with paid advertising, like PPC or sponsored content campaigns? Does it work?

I do have experiences in paid advertising like Google ads, social media ad campaigns, sponsored content, and other things. I suggest that emerging businesses should make use of paid advertising for better reach.

What is your main tactic when it comes to making more people aware of your brand?

When I started Nextazy, I made sure that all my strategies were unique and innovative. My priority is always customer satisfaction and that way my brand’s reach increases overtime. Even today, I tell my colleagues that if you can drive one potential customer towards you, driving a hundred will be a piece of cake.

What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?

Businesses these days are getting more customers, but they are not providing quality services. This should change. Each business needs different marketing strategies to prosper. But one strategy is common for all and that’s customer satisfaction. In our company, we work for the betterment of customers and this has been working well for these many years.

What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?

I would say the toughest circumstances rather than the toughest decisions. Due to this Covid-19 pandemic, working from home has become mandatory. Since it’s a new thing for most of my people, it was difficult to maintain and increase productivity. Besides, keeping them motivated was also tedious initially. But luckily, this has reduced greatly by now.

What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?

I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but money mistake, there’s only one and that’s hiring the wrong people. Actually, these people are not wrong. They are just not suited for our environment and work culture. Unfortunately, I’ve repeated this mistake again and again, which cost me a lot of money.

What new business would you love to start?

I would love to step foot in deep-sea research. Many governments and private firms are already indulged in outer space exploration looking for habitable planets and other things. But most of the Earth itself is yet to be discovered. More than 90 percent of our oceans and seas remain untouched. I’m pretty sure there are so many fascinating things down there. I want to explore and enjoy them.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

Your past does not define your present or future so I will not disturb my past by changing anything, rather, I would just enjoy every single moment. I will be more and more confident in keeping my next step, those that made me who I am today.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Two things stand apart as the best advice I’ve ever got. One is, whatever you do, whether it may be personal or business, do it 100%, and never back down. Second, help others to build their path. Motivate them, stand with them, and never turn your back on them.

What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?

“Don’t let others convince you while choosing an idea.” Newbie entrepreneurs these days find it difficult to motivate themselves. They hide in the comfort zone, which will eventually break. First, I advise all newbies to come out of their comfort areas. The real struggle begins there. There will be countless failures, insults, frustration, mistakes, and too many other things to handle.

But always remember the things above are temporary. You control the construction; design it as you want it to be. When it comes to business, I would say only one thing: focus on the end-users’ perception, instead of focusing on yours. It’s the only way your business will shine.

8 Effective Ways To Drive More Traffic To Your Website

Every company or business has its own website or online portal because it is important to keep track of every person who visits your website because each person could be a potential customer. So, how exactly and effectively can you attract more customers to boost your site traffic? Below is a tell-all guide on how to be successful in driving more traffic to your website.

A simple secret to help you in your endeavour is to follow the trade secrets that work for your closest competitors. Why would you want to waste time trying to experiment with new techniques without knowing if they will work for your company, industry, or domain? The following techniques will explain to you how to “steal” their keywords and backlinks in order to leapfrog traffic on your website. All you have to do is follow the steps enumerated below:

1. Your website functionality: You need to make important and effective tweaks on your website and use the maximum number of tools available online to boost your ranking among your competitors.

2. Competition: Find out who your real competitors are and who can turn out to be tough competitors in the near future. Keeping close tabs on this information can give you a good perspective about what you have to do to stay ahead of them in the rat race.

3. Keywords: SEM Rush is one of the best tools that help with the researching of keywords. Using the appropriate keywords can increase your website traffic by increasing the number and frequencies of hits to your site.

4. Organic Rankings: This will give you an insight into the most remote areas of your closest competitors and using this information, you will know where exactly to increase your focus.

5. Building links: You need to go through the websites of your closest competitors so see their link building processes. Tweaking it to your advantage will ensure more traffic flowing into your own website.

6. Advertising: Compare all the strategies by your top three or top five competitors and see what works in your domain or industry. Use the same strategy to suit the needs of your website and those of your customers and potential clients as well.

7. Social media marketing and management: The largest number of hits happen in social networking domains due to a large number of people present in this space. It is also easier to carve a niche for yourself in this space since it gives you more space for creativity and innovation.

8. Reporting tools: Use such tools to generate important data about your website and where you can channel your attention in order to stay at the top of the ranking charts.

SEM Rush is a tool that helps you with improving the traffic to your web site. This tool helps you to zero in on the most common comprehensive words related to your domain and business. Using these words on your website and blog will automatically increase the number of hits to the website thus, considerably increasing the traffic. This, in turn, means that you will have more potential clients who will later turn into loyal customers.

Search engine traffic makes a big difference as the browsers will naturally go in for the website at the top of the search list since it is closest to what they are searching for. With this tool, you can understand the drawbacks of your website, its speed, and areas of improvement. Collect benchmark data to give you a better idea about the closest competing website to compare with your own. Remember that more paid searches might cause a drag in the speed of your website. Organic searches being higher in number compared to your paid searches can help in the ranking of your website analytically. Also, check the number of keywords that are distributed in the blog and content section as keywords when placed strategically will help your website have a better rank in the search list.

Following the tips above can help attract more organic traffic into your website – all you have to do is be consistent and committed to your goals.

Entrepreneur Spotlight: Introducing Dr. DL Wallace – The CEO Of Success Training Institute

Dr. DL Wallace is a Soft Skills Training and Development Expert with more than 20 years of experience in employee development, entrepreneurial development, organizational efficiency, and business strategy.

He is currently the CEO and founder of Success Training Institute (STI), the worldwide leader in superior soft skills training. Founded in 2012, Success Training Institute is an award-winning, education technology company based just north of Dallas, Texas. It currently serves colleges and universities, workforce commissions, school districts, and corporations from various industries. The customized learning platforms developed by STI include pre and post-assessments, individualized learning plans, access to data and analytics, and more. Their services are geared towards corporations and individuals looking to improve personnel through training in compliance, leadership, problem-solving, team building, customer service, and more.

Success Training Institute offers plans for entrepreneurs, college students, sales and HR professionals, and more. Priced to fit almost any budget, certifications can be earned in weeks, and most see improvements within days. Success Training Institute offers online programs designed to empower the workforce. The power-packed, 8-minute video segments can be taken on demand and have been proven to make immediate impacts on productivity, positivity, and efficiency on behalf of employees at all levels who complete the training.

Success Training Institute also offers college students the opportunity to increase their marketability after graduation through its Virtual Internship Programs. Students who are selected earn soft skills certifications to boost their resumes, earn extra money for college, and can work remotely.

Success Training Institute is recognized as a Top Innovator in Education Technology and cutting edge online training. With original content, unique and proven instructional method, and an evergreen library, STI is changing the professional landscape for students and companies worldwide.

MoneyCentral Magazine recently caught up with Dr. DL Wallace to discuss the hi journey to entrepreneurship and here’s what went down:

Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?

I was inspired to launch the Success Training Institute in 2012 when I was the Executive Director of a Charter School I founded. During this time, I noticed the challenges new teachers were having interacting with students, parents, and each other. It became readily apparent that college didn’t equip them with the soft skills needed to succeed in the real world. Therefore, I developed and tested a soft skills curriculum on these educators and it worked even better than I expected. It literally revolutionized the culture, morale, and productivity of two campuses in the inner cities of Dallas/Fort Worth. It worked so well, we tested on our students and their parents. We got the same great results. I embraced the opportunity and the rest is history.

What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?

As a Black-Owned Minority Business Enterprise, we always feel as if we’ve got to be far better than the competition. Therefore, we’ve developed partnerships with numerous state agencies. We customize programs for colleges and universities, public and charter schools, local workforce boards, and more. By tapping into the vast government market, it has opened many doors for our company and given us added credibility. Also, we’re the only Ed-Tech company in the space that offers home-based business owners and other professionals the opportunity to earn money with us by referring retail and corporate business. Our Affiliate Program has helped us expand to other countries and keeps our pipeline filled with leads.

What social media platforms do you usually use to increase your brand’s awareness?

Our company is active on Facebook and Instagram. However, we’d like to do even more on social media because we realize the power of those platforms. Some people rely on social media for their news and information. We have plans on becoming much more active as our nation and the rest of the world to heal from the recent civil unrest and the global pandemic.

What is your experience with paid advertising, like PPC or sponsored content campaigns? Does it work?

We’ve had so much success with our Affiliate Programs and word of mouth that social pay per click campaigns have not been on our radar. Recently, we hired an organization to focus more on ads and we expect it will do well because of the growing need for online soft skills training.

What is your main tactic when it comes to making more people aware of your brand and engaging your customers? How did your business stand out?

Our company has seen great success with our philanthropic initiative that provides a soft skills training scholarship to the less fortunate when our paying clients earn certifications. The Global Success Initiative allows all our customers to participate in the betterment of our world. We are the only company in the world that offers a one to one match with education! Imagine unlocking the door for at-risk teens, families in poverty disabled veterans, and others to grow just by earning certifications that improve your own life and career. This initiative has really enhanced our brand, our credibility, and fulfills our mission.

What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?

For us, marketing begins and ends with relationship building. We take the time to get to know our potential clients. We spend time with them and cultivate a long term relationship that ultimately leads to a long term contract. Also, the success of our Affiliate Program has been a major boost; mainly because of the earnings potential of members can earn just by referring those in their circles. Our commissions on corporate deals range from 10% – 30% and those checks are impressive.

What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?

Expanding our business overseas was a tough decision. The countries that need our product most have the greatest problems with internet connectivity. Additionally, laws and regulations in other countries are much tougher than those in the US. However, we could not deprive people of the chance to enhance their lives and grow their incomes by acquiring the soft skills they need to succeed.

What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?

Most of the time when business leaders think of money mistakes, we tend to focus monies that were spent unwisely. However, we actually learn just as much from what we don’t spend. One of the things I would change is not spending more money by adopting cryptocurrency policies. We’re finally turning the corner in this area. However, if we would have spent the money on the technology required to accept cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin two or three years ago, we’d be experiencing historic returns on our investment. We know now.

What new business would you love to start?

Training is one of my deepest passions and I’ve always wanted to teach others how to train. Therefore, we launched a new division of our company that allows professionals to become certified soft skills trainers. It’s 100% online and we even help them with leads on training in live settings. We’ve made it affordable and offer all the support to help our certified trainers succeed. It’s a great way for life coaches, public speakers, educators, and others to earn money with this valuable new skill. I’m excited to live out another chapter of my dreams.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

It may sound like a cliché but I have no regrets about any aspect of the journey with Simply Success. The lessons I’ve learned along the way were priceless and helped our company improve. In business, you either win or you learn and every learning experience is a necessary one if you want to grow. Thomas Edison learned valuable lessons from each failed attempt at the lightbulb. Like Edison, every lesson got me closer to the groundbreaking company we have today.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

One of my mentors told me: “Whatever you do best, do most.” This advice helped me focus on leveraging my training and professional development skills. Doing this consistently led to the birth of the Success Training Institute.

What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?

Three Things. First, take the time to organize. Write your plans and goals, do your homework, and identify your resources. Organization is time-consuming but well worth the effort. Next, don’t be afraid. Fear limits your ability to focus, take risks, and make aggressive decisions. Move with confidence and never with caution. Last and certainly not least, don’t quit. Business success is very similar to running a marathon. Most people have the physical strength to run 26 miles with the proper training. However, many lack the mental toughness to keep running. Business success is based on our ability to keep running.

5 Daily Scheduling Methods To Bring More Productivity To Your Day

Productivity is probably this generation’s biggest dilemma. The rising numbers of freelancers and entrepreneurs indicate that more and more people are choosing to work outside the regular 9-5. But outside any supervision or deadlines, they often end up wasting a major chunk of their time distracted with technology, calls, relationships, etc.

After some initial damage, they sense the need to be more productive if they ever want to achieve their goals. According to a study, only 50-60% of a regular workday is productive. There are numerous blogs, articles, courses, and books that claim to help you achieve the “perfect schedule.” But the reality is, there is no one-size-fits-all method when it comes to productivity. What works for one person could be a total disaster for someone else.

To give you an example, let’s compare some of the most successful leaders of our generation. Elon Musk wakes up early and spends his first 30 minutes answering “critical emails” while drinking his coffee. Zuckerberg doesn’t wake up early but maintains a morning routine where he works out or goes for a run, eats breakfast, and gets dressed before heading to the office. Richard Branson wakes up at 5 am, gets in some cardio before breakfast with the family.

As you can notice, there is no set path to productivity. It’s what works for you the best that matters. Some of the techniques with a proven track record in upping productivity are listed below. It will take some effort and consistency to figure out the right combination and stick to a schedule until it becomes a habit.

Start your day early

There is a reason why this gets featured in most of the productivity articles, courses, and recommendations by successful entrepreneurs. Starting early gives you a head start. You can use the additional 1-2 hours to accomplish tasks like your work out or mindfulness exercises along with one task that you think is important. It could be checking emails or responding to connections. Whatever it is, it will bring a sense of accomplishment and set the tone for the rest of the day.

Create a morning routine and stick to it

There is no hack to productivity. It is a matter of habit and intuition. And building a new habit takes willpower and consistency. It requires some initial motivation before the result presents itself. Some say it 21 days to build a habit while others vouch for the 90-day rule. Whatever it takes you, you should be motivated enough to put in the work.

Use Time-blocking Method

Time blocking is probably the most widely used productivity method. It requires you to break your day in 40 mins to 1-hour time slots dedicated to specific tasks. A time block method will have slots for following up with connections and scheduling calls and meetings. By blocking tasks into slots, you can achieve great productivity with the time block method.

Avoid unnecessary decision making

You must have seen the likes of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg wearing the same type of ordinary clothes every day. It is not a coincidence but a planned strategy to avoid decision burnout throughout the day. You can choose what decisions are best avoided so you can focus on getting things done.

Avoid working late

If you are serious about productivity then don’t make the mistake of working late into the night. Take your mind off work in the evenings. If you have a hobby, this would be a good time to indulge in it. Why is it so important you ask? To be productive the next day.

Entrepreneur Spotlight: Introducing Annie Liao Jones – The CEO Of Rock Candy Media

Annie Liao Jones is the founder and CEO of Rock Candy Media, an advertising & marketing agency that is based in Austin, Texas – it has become one of the fastest-growing businesses in Central Texas. Under Annie’s leadership, the full-service content strategy, design, messaging, branding firm, and growth agency went from the ground up to grossing over seven figures a year.

MoneyCentral Magazine recently caught up with Annie to discuss her journey to entrepreneurship and here’s what went down:

Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business? How did you choose the name Rock Candy Media?

I was born in Dallas, Texas but my parents were born in Taiwan and that makes me a dual-citizen of the world. I also lived in Taiwan while my parents finished college in the US from the ages of 1-3. That lead to the company name. I knew I was going to do things my own way from a young age, where I just didn’t think about other options. So instead of dreaming up jobs, because I didn’t dream about the white picket fence either, I dreamed of types of companies. Taiwanese desserts are entirely different because there is only a hint of sweet, and it’s because all the desserts are made from pure sugar which I called ‘rock candy’ as a kid. So it was going to be Rock Candy something. I’m glad it wasn’t Rock Candy Mountain, which apparently is a thing for a lot of people. I have issues with things that just should not be loud, especially if you think we sent someone to the moon: I have an aversion to leaf blowers and motorcycles, but I guess the latter says more about the person and the former is existential – don’t the leaves just come back?

Can you describe your journey to success? When did you start? Did you ever imagine you would become this successful?

By stalking people at Highland Mall in Dallas to see what they bought. I learned a lot about life doing that, and you think I’m joking. And I started working at the mall when I was 16 at a fashion-forward teen girl wear boutique named Judy’s, which is now called Rampage. I imagined I would be much more successful than I am actually. All I want is to wear PJ’s on MY PJ and I’ll call it a day. Oh, and real silk or cashmere ones.

What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?

I am pickier about who I vet because I can have the best of both worlds: I learn from clients smarter than me in their respective areas, have the time to streamline operations as my focus is solely on my reputation and the work we put out — I’m past the high number of employees and lack of control, it just isn’t me. Acute anxiety does not look good on me. And if I continue hiring smarter people, I’ll evolve as a human and get to that PJ lifestyle faster than you know it.

What social media platforms do you usually use to increase brand awareness?

That is a mixed bag because there is visibility and then there is engagement and then there is sharing.

Visibility: I don’t care about the number of eyeballs, so the number of impressions in media land does not impress me. I care about the quality of those eyeballs and if they have a high word of mouth factor. So when working with a corporation who is starting a new division or who’s division is basically a start-up, I’d go for say CTO’s if it’s data security but I’ll make sure they are CTO’s in an alumni association, golf club, or country club as visibility only counts if your brand build is memorable. Ours is and I know because people will start to type in the company name into google instead of doing a google search.

Engagement: Many social media managers promote a post to get 20 likes but they never realize that they never had to like your page. Now that’s just foolish. And ‘like’ ads are $7 a pop easy. So put out quality content that will get you ranked AND people will want to read and they’ll opt-in on their own. Then you can pay for clicks at a much cheaper rate.

Shares: When is the last time you shared a post? I deem shares from our highly segmented audience builds (for example, the CTO will be segmented by 25-34 and then 45-64) the most quality, and any clicks that come from someone watching a full video (95% or more) to be qualified as a share. That is retargeting gold. So while clicks on Instagram Stories may be harder to get, I prefer that. If it is a CTO, I’d say a Facebook share. That means your content, your brand campaign, is something he is proud to represent and it resonates with him, or he learned from one of your client’s articles that your media relations lead worked his butt off to land.

Does paid advertising work?

It does when it makes sense and when it’s unique. For example, in addition to the usual PPC, if a million people are going to be at a tradeshow the client has always gone to and it’s a ‘must’, then I’ll make sure everyone attending at the respective hotels has a gift in their bag from said client and it’s such a rare ask that I have the negotiation down pat. In terms of sponsored content, earned media is much better.

What is your main tactic to make sure Rock Candy Media stands out?

Stay five years ahead. Don’t study your own industry trends; I never read those because I have to emote things. I read memoirs, I read client industry trends as the start-ups that make it, especially today when the landscape changes at five times the speed in one calendar year alone. I also like to remind myself and clients to never think you are infallible. I admire the head of GoPro and how he said early success can make you more prone to fail later. That stuck with me. We were in danger one time as a company and I literally just emailed our Managing Partner to change out an industry page background to a different image to test it out, and every month we review the most engaging content and go with who we targeted, and what resonated with them, to change out a client’s site. A website should never be ‘done’. It should evolve with you. It is your calling card, your reputation, what you stand for whether you like it or not. You should like it because you have control over it. I think the attitude founders have that never separated themselves from what they love to do is to try to make sure they can remain independent of any channel as possible. And that is the power of branding. For hospitality the enemy isn’t another hotel, the true enemy is a hotel booking site who is taking 30% of each head in each bed.

What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?

We only know one model: direct marketing of the digital kind. We have never been just in one industry. We started heavily b2b, had big years in e-comm and I always wanted a mix of both because we grow them where they are now as a hybrid of both. Direct to consumer is the same concept when applied to business that is a product, service, or distribution.

How does Rock Candy Media stand out from the rest of the other agencies out there in your niche?

I just keep my head down and give a lot of sh*t. So I try to hire for the self-taught (they have less of a fear of the unknown and will get their hands dirty to figure things out on their own) and not look at the competitors. My focus has always been on what I would want if I were a client from an agency. And I respect our clients – some of them can afford me when I couldn’t in the life cycle of my business, but all of them share one thing: We are an investment and they have to know we value their time and will always ask why they made a decision because success lies in collaboration. If it is important to them, it’s damn important to me.

What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?

To let go of a lot more pieces of the pie I have no control over.

What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?

The one I try to block out is that in my first year I made so much that I got punished for not forming an LLC to the tune of $20K in taxes. I hope my then CFO does not read this.

What have you learned in the process of becoming successful that others can learn from?

Just be yourself, and the respect you want will give you the most satisfaction. The second you start caring what other people think is the second you become a commodity.

What new business would you love to start?

Well, you are going to find out soon ladies and gentlemen. This lady knows how to keep secrets believe it or not. Also, if I could live another life it would be floral arrangements. Or someone who makes perfumes all day. All my memories are scent-driven.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were first making a name for yourself, what advice would you give yourself?

This sounds really stupid, but I had a peer/mentor who said, “Annie you run so deep you do not do yourself justice in meetings dressing so casually.” At first, I was pissed but then I clarified with him that it was about respect. When I show up, my style is all my own and I am very much about textiles and “the closet overfloweth” as that is how I show to the world what mood I am that day. It’s art you can wear each day. I needed to ‘show up’ with some respect to client meetings and it took a lot of balls to tell me that and I’m pretty sure it backed up what I was saying with more authority. It sounds silly but it was a game-changer.

Do you have any favorite business-related or personal development related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?

No, but there are profiles of founders by the best journalists and writers out there in Wired, Vanity Fair, and Esquire. For personal development, I learn from the words of the authors who have lived BIG, so I am huge into memoirs and seeing through another’s’ lens. I read all the time, 24-7, and usually have three books going at once. Right now I just have two: Val Kilmer’s memoir and a book Obama recommended called “Maid” that is changing my mind on what it means to be poor in America.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

To wear nice clothes in my closet with tags still on them. They not only disgusted me but they helped me with showing up, as mentioned earlier.

What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?

Do it before you accumulate ‘stuff’ and ‘big things’. Do it when you have nothing to lose and never stop making fun of yourself. Stay humble or you won’t learn sh*t. Surround yourself with smarter people. Be wary of ‘yes’ people, but keep the ones that support you and know you around as well. And with success comes haters, and I wish I could prepare you for that but it ties into not giving a f*ck what others think or else you’ll fail. Don’t let people you don’t know bring you down.

Tell us about your fashion style as an executive?

Definitely polished with an edge. I like good tailoring and solids but I like one thing to be a little ‘off” whether it’s my shoe color or earrings. And my Managing Partner & Art Director, Kelsie Singleton always compliments the most expensive thing I’m wearing – it is a true talent I’m telling you.

We hear you might have one of the biggest shoe collections in Texas, and your coworkers call you the “Imelda Marcos of Category Marketing” how do you store and keep track of all those shoes?

If guys have a man cave, well girls should be able to shop their own shoes damn it! I think the Bang & Olufsen television sound systems and plasma TV’s equal out to the same anyways.

Meet The Man Behind The Cover Of The September 2020 Issue Of MoneyCentral Magazine: Guruji Shrii Arnav

Few people embrace change with ease and move effortlessly across situations that may be as varied as can be. It probably comes from an assiduously cultivated capacity to evolve and grow. And to look at different circumstances as opportunities for growth, just clad in different garb! Guruji Shrii Arnav is someone who conducts meditations in ochre robes with as much as ease with which he makes his way in a boardroom, sporting a Zegna suit.

Sought after by global tycoons, world leaders, life coaches, celebs, key decision-makers, and also the normal folks in day to day life for his guidance and wisdom, Guruji’s life is a shining example of serving with humility and wielding success with compassion.

There were some great accomplishments early on for him indicating that mediocre wasn’t for him – from being an academically brilliant student to winning the Competition Success Review Mr. Super Brain Contest in the year 1999, a prestigious competition held then at the national level in India.

Never one to shy away from breaking the mold, he let go of a conventional and logical career choice in high finance, he took on a spiritual commitment and initiated his endeavours to start an organisation that would help individuals overcome obstacles of different kinds, optimise life and experience greater joy.

He set up his web presence as early as in 1996 with a single page on Yahoo Geocities which migrated to his website astromandir.com in the year 2000, fully functioning as an e-commerce site and accepting web-enabled payments – this at a time when the internet in India was a novelty!

In 2008, when the entire world was reeling with the recession and a global financial crisis, he took a bold decision and launched www.Gemstoneuniverse.com, a web portal providing the top quality natural, treatment-free, precious gemstones.

His vision paid off and the site now has a monthly reach of 4 million unique targeted viewers including those on social media. The online retailing business of astrological gemstones has undergone a tremendous makeover and even more impressive reach and acceptance. He is widely credited with revolutionizing Gemstone e-commerce and standardizing Gem Therapy worldwide.

He is the author of the magnum opus on jyotish gemstones and planetary gem therapy – “The Secrets of Jyotish Gems: A Guide to the Fundamentals of Sacred Astro Gemology of India” which was published by Har-Anand.

It is a book that has met with great success, being well received by the gemstone and gem therapy aficionados. The book was first released by the former President of India, Hon’ble Dr. Pranab Mukherjee, and several heads of state and dignitaries worldwide.

Guruji Shrii Arnav is a beacon, a Vedic Guru who chose to illumine the path of true knowledge for all who are willing. However, his aura and acclaim are not limited to the extensive Vedic knowledge or spiritual abundance that surrounds him. He is also an entrepreneur who is at complete ease with the tide of the times and has a phenomenal grasp of a wide array of skills.

While the term Vedic may have Hindu connotations, his unique way of weaving the universal wisdom into the thread of particularistic traditions has established a deep connection between his ideas and an audience of diverse religions and nationalities. It is amazing how people relate to him with absolute ease and comfort. Guruji Shrii Arnav has found international acclaim and has followers across the globe who, have been touched deeply by his compassion and ability to positively influence and affect their lives.

He helps people of all faiths and backgrounds to seek answers to the most complex questions of their lives. He uses the knowledge and practical wisdom offered by the Vedas and other spiritual texts, complemented with the scientific detail provided by gemology, astrological charts, and his own spiritual capacity – to prove successfully the power of varied specific factors combined together that can positively affect every individual’s life.

Here are some candid answers from the man sporting many hats:

COVID has turned the world upside down. How are you and your organisation coping with it?

Forces of nature and unprecedented events have occurred time and again and history is replete with incidents. True, that it has caught the world unawares and put all of us in a bind but human beings have survived because of adaptability. We are also learning and adapting to new ways. There’s an increased use of technology and the digital medium has become the star.

The good news is that we have not had to lay off anyone, we’re taking care to ensure the well-being of the people who work in the far-flung mining areas as well. A successful entrepreneur always ensures that a fire situation doesn’t arise. And this can be done by adopting the 7R’s/ 7R Model – Rapid action, Remote functioning ability, reasonably risk-free activity/ initiative, real value delivered to clients, reputation, result orientation, readiness for any challenge. These are the values that I and my organisation believe in and follow, ensuring success.

What strategy do you adopt for marketing?

“A successful entrepreneur always ensures that a fire situation doesn’t arise. And this can be done by adopting the 7R’s/ 7R Model – Rapid action, Remote functioning ability, reasonably risk-free activity/ initiative, real value delivered to clients, reputation, result orientation, and readiness for any challenge.”I think that any company’s or individual’s performance is the best and most effective marketing. A demonstration is definitely better than instruction. Doing something and bringing tangible results rather than messaging only is a bigger validation of what an organisation is all about. It inspires more confidence and credibility. If you look at Gemstoneuniverse, we have then been awarded the top exporter of natural coloured gemstones in our state consistently for the last 10 years.

The quality of your product and service is equally important. Gemstoneuniverse ensures that only the ethically sourced, conflict-free gemstone is made available to the clients so that they enjoy their gem completely.

I also believe that the people I hire are the biggest marketing mechanism for my business. Each one is a veritable brand ambassador living the core value and principles.

What is a big challenge that you have faced professionally?

Well, the gemstone industry and quite specifically the coloured gemstone industry is quite unique in nature and as a result, its challenges are also quite different. Gemstoneuniverse is engaged in the trade of natural precious, treatment-free gemstones which effectively means that we are looking at the top two percent – that is the highest grade gemstones.

In this scenario, communicating colour on the internet across various devices and displays becomes a veritable challenge. Understand that you have an exceptional precious mineral commodity and each variety of mineral responds differently to light. A ruby will behave differently as compared to an emerald. A Chrysoberyl cat’s eye needs to be captured differently and so does a pearl. Each hue, each tone must be communicated through an exact picture/video to the client.

I am quite happy to say that despite the inherently challenging nature of the coloured gemstones, today we have the best pictures and videos on the Internet providing the viewer with the best image and videos, quite comparable to what a gemmologist may want to look at!

What is your advice to entrepreneurs or individuals interested in creating wealth or looking at sustained growth?

The one piece of advice to achieve this objective is to believe in these three words –niche, niche, niche. There is tremendous wisdom in specialising in a definite area. It is all about achieving mastery in that ONE thing and you will be able to reap great benefits. When you bring exceptional value to a client, the client might just stop putting the price ahead of value. This is when you have commanded his or her complete attention as well as loyalty. If you have entered into the mind space in such a manner, you will have cemented your position.

What are the future plans for Gemstoneuniverse?

Gemstoneuniverse already has a global footprint but we are looking for establishing physical stores in different parts of the world. We would also be interested in strategic partners who can leverage our expertise and help expand the business globally, while at the same time upholding our core values. There is an ambitious plan of starting the Indian Institute of Gem Therapy and also on cards is a foundation that will assist in making a hospital offering free service and also a meditation Centre.

What is a spiritual message that you would like to give out?

There is no one size fits all formula that can be handed out to soothe humanity. The one thing though that works universally is that Love Heals. With love, compassion, and empathy there is a lot that can be achieved.

Each individual is unique and therefore the suggestions made for the well-being and growth of every individual are unique too.

I would like the readers to check out the latest book by our Senior Director and Life Coach Abhijita Kulshrestha, Cosmic Sutra: A handbook of Healing, wherein 7 minutes of your day are required for different meditations and affirmations along with spiritual exercises for a period of 108 days.

These 108 days can be the key to powerful personal change! You can follow Gemstoneuniverse by visiting our website: gemstoneuniverse.com 

You can also follow us via social media:

Instagram: gemstoneuniverse
Facebook: gemstoneuniverse
Twitter: gemuniverse

Youtube: Gemstoneuniverse

4 Affiliate Marketing Tips for Beginners

Starting your own business can be an overwhelming experience. However, we now live in a world where building a business doesn’t need to be so overwhelming anymore. If you’re looking for a much simpler way to start your own business but with very little capital needed, then you should definitely consider affiliate marketing. Basically, this is where you promote other people’s products and services and in return, you earn a commission from helping out. You just need to find a product you want to endorse, promote it to other people, and you can earn money for every sale that you make. Since there are plenty of affiliate products and services available today, you need to find a unique product or service to promote. Just remember that your desire and determination to succeed are also equally important if you want to succeed as an affiliate marketer in the long run.

Find High-Quality Products

You need to choose high-quality products or services if you want to become successful as an affiliate marketer. If what you’re promoting is of high quality; then chances are, the customer support and supply chain process of the company you are promoting are also of high quality which will give you credibility as a marketer.

Choose Something You’ll Get Value From

You should always choose a product or service that you can see yourself using or getting value from. It should be an extension of you. The program you are affiliated with should offer value for all your efforts. You should also look for a program that provides valuable free gifts. Remember that online reviews and feedback can make or break your business. Once customers get free gifts, they will no doubt be impressed and give you great reviews in return.

Look for a Niche Market with Big Problems to be Solved

You should always look for a niche market with significant problems to be solved and provide a quality solution to these issues. If you are able to fix a problem, especially the big ones, you will gain the trust of your customers and that is no doubt a big plus for your business.

Variety of Products

Look for an affiliate program that offers a wide range of products so that you can encourage your customers to keep coming back for more. Variety helps build a solid fanbase, which is definitely good for business. For instance, if the affiliate program is offering ebooks that discuss weight loss, it is also a good thing if it provides supplements and exercise equipment. So, you should pick an affiliate program that offers a wide range of products so that your customers will also most likely recommend you to their friends and colleagues.

One of the best benefits of affiliate marketing is that you can promote as many affiliate programs as you want. This means that your earning potential is big as well. Some people give up their 9-5 job to focus on their online business. Another benefit of affiliate marketing is that you don’t need to leave your home just to promote a product or service. Even if you are in your pajamas, you can still work and sell online because you can promote the program on your website or social networking sites. Some affiliate programs even provide their affiliates with a website where they can promote the products or services.

7 Practical Steps For Managing Your Credit Card Responsibly

While it’s true that credit cards can come in handy when you get caught cashless on certain instances; but then it’s also wise to take note of the fact that excessive use of credit cards can only lead you into the path of going straight down the drain of having a bad credit history.

Therefore, it’s important to be smart when it comes to using credit cards and managing your debts associated with it so you don’t find yourself in much deeper trouble in the long run. It’s obviously very easy for anyone to acquire large debts through credit cards; but, it’s extremely hard to get out of a credit card black hole once you’ve been eaten by it alive. That said, here are some tips to consider when it comes to managing your credit cards wisely.

Only use one card

You don’t really need a lot of credit cards because it will only result in a lot more repayments to various banks and credit card companies. Typically, most people would use cash advances from one card to pay the debt in another. The thing is, this system will only make your financial condition much worse because managing multiple debts can be time-consuming and even confusing; not to mention there’s the hassle of managing multiple credit cards.

Always pay the monthly balance of your credit card in full

It’s always good practice to pay the monthly balance of your credit card in full so that you don’t end up paying unnecessary interest. However, just in case unforeseen circumstances occur that you have no control of; then, at least have your debt paid within a maximum of two months – no more, no less.

Opt for another alternative

If you find yourself always maxing out your credit limit each month then a much wiser alternative would be to apply for a personal loan which charges lower interest rates compared to credit cards.

Have a card calculator handy

It’s always a good idea to have a card calculator handy if you deem that you can only pay the minimum amount required for each month. This way, you will be able to determine how long you’ve still got to pay off your debt. Furthermore, take the time to talk to a financial advisor who will be able to help you manage your credit card in a much healthier way.

Be very cautious of cash advances

While there may be some interest-free days available within your credit card plan; unfortunately, that doesn’t cover cash advances. Keep in mind that no amount of payment will ever be able to pay off cash advances as long as there is still an outstanding balance on your credit card; meaning, any balance you have on your credit card must be paid off first. Also, your benefit of having interest-free days will most likely be forfeited anyway until you pay off your cash advances first.

Always keep the fees down

You need to learn when to use your credit card so you can avoid getting hooked with unnecessary swiping; this way, you will only have a lesser amount to pay for your monthly dues. You must make it a point to always pay in full and on time to avoid any unnecessary charges piling up which can lead to financial downfall.

Look for alternatives in making payments

To date, people have the option to pay either over the phone or online. These routes are obviously much cheaper compared to paying over the counter.