4 no-fail tricks for keeping your focus laser sharp

 

Whether you’ve simply got too many things to think about or you feel as though you’re on the verge of burnout, it can be hard to keep your focus when you’re in charge of a business. When I set up my first company in Sydney at the age of 22, there was a lot I still had to learn about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur – and one of the lessons I had to take on board (and quickly) was how to keep my focus laser sharp. Here are some of the no-fail tricks I’ve picked up throughout my career.

Devise a schedule that works for you

When your workload starts to build, it can be tempting to think that the best strategy is to squeeze as many working hours as possible into each day. This could involve getting an early start in the office and working non-stop until the evening. However, as virtuous and productive as this approach might seem, it may not be the best approach for you. If you’re like most people, you’ll need at least a little downtime during the day to keep your concentration and motivation levels up.

So, rather than staring at your computer screen from dusk until dawn, everyone benefits from factoring some breaks into their schedule. For example, you could give yourself timeouts to go to the gym, take a walk or grab a coffee. Far from being a waste of your time, short breaks are  a way to re-focus your mind.

Don’t try to do everything at once

All entrepreneurs have to be able to multitask to some extent, but they also need to be able to prioritise the most important jobs. Sometimes, this means putting certain tasks on hold. To keep on top of your workload and control your stress levels, it’s vital to realise that you can’t do everything at once. So, if you’re working on something important that demands your full attention, be disciplined about putting emails, phone calls and other distractions on hold for a while.

Create an inspiring workspace

It might seem like a small point, but the look and feel of your workspace can have a huge impact on your ability to stay focussed. I’m not suggesting that everyone should go out and spend thousands of pounds revamping their offices, but I do know that having a working environment that’s not only comfortable and practical but also inspiring can make your days a whole lot easier. Whether it’s smart and organised or more creative, your workspace should reflect your approach to business, make you feel proud and put you in the perfect frame of mind to concentrate.

Look after your health

When deadlines are looming and the pressure’s on, your health and wellbeing might take a backseat. You may find that your diet suffers, you’re not getting enough sleep and you can’t stick to your exercise schedule. In the short term, this might not have much of an effect on your performance at work, but over time it can really start to take its toll.

If you’re tired, unfit and under too much stress, you could find you struggle to concentrate and keep up with your workload. This means that even when you’re really up against it, it’s essential that you make an effort to look after your health by getting enough rest, doing plenty of exercise and eating healthily.

3 ways to avoid burnout as an entrepreneur

Being your own boss certainly has its perks, but it also comes with a heavy weight of responsibility.

You can’t simply switch off and forget about your company at the end of the day. Instead, you might find yourself working long hours under considerable stress.

This means that, if you’re not careful, you risk suffering burnout. There are ways to avoid this though and, over the years, I’ve learned a range of techniques that help me to avoid reaching this point.

  1. Set aside time to really switch off

Switching off for an entire weekend, or even just an evening, might not be an option when you have your own company – at least not in its early stages. After all, you’ll no doubt want to be on hand if any problems arise. But if you don’t give yourself any time to relax, you’re storing up trouble.

I can’t recommend enough getting into the habit of setting aside at least a little space in your schedule to completely forget about work and focus on other things. Even if it’s just an hour or two in the evening, this downtime will help you to de-stress and reboot, making you even more productive when you are in work mode.

And don’t be afraid to take holidays. Admittedly, this is one I’ve found doesn’t get any easier the longer you’ve been in business. You might be worried about the adverse effect that a break may have on your business, but it’s important to also consider the negative impact on your company if you’re too tired to work efficiently. The occasional getaway will give you the chance to re-energise and you’ll probably find you return with a renewed sense of purpose and drive.

  1. Take steps to stay healthy

When you’re prioritising your business, your health may take a back seat. For example, you might not get enough sleep, you could fall into bad eating habits and you may struggle to get the recommended amount of exercise. Trust me, I’ve been there.

All of this is bad news for your wellbeing. It will also impact on your energy levels and make the day-to-day running of your company feel like more of a challenge.

So, no matter how busy you are, try to get a decent amount of sleep and take steps to incorporate exercise into your daily routine to help you to stay in shape and keep your energy levels up.

It’s also important to plan your meals so that you don’t end up relying on junk food to refuel. I’ve certainly been guilty of this, but now make sure I have a healthy breakfast (I’m addicted to the yoghurt from the café near my office) and buy fruit to snack on throughout the day so I’m not tempted by the vending machine at 3pm.

  1. Delegate to lighten your workload

Even if you’re a perfectionist by nature, it’s unsustainable to attempt to micromanage all aspects of your business. This approach will almost certainly result in burnout. Instead, make sure you have a good team around you and learn to delegate tasks to lighten your workload.

It might feel uncomfortable at first, but handing responsibility to others is essential, particularly if your company is growing and your to-do list keeps getting longer.

My top public speaking tips (hint: they’re not about picturing your audience naked)

Mars Cowley-Smythe public speakingAs part of my job, I do a lot of public speaking. I know that it isn’t the most popular activity in the world – as many as 95% of people say it’s one of their greatest fears. But, when you break it down, it doesn’t have to be any more frightening than having a chat with your colleagues around the water cooler.

So I thought I’d take the opportunity to run over some of the best public speaking tips that I’ve received and how they can help you to share your messages.

Public speaking needs passion

For me, public speaking is all about inspiring passion. Speaking to an audience is an opportunity for me to talk about what we’re doing and the direction that the company is going in. It’s a great way to share what inspires me with people in my company and in Appco’s independent contractor network.

In my experience, being more comfortable with public speaking isn’t just about picturing your audience naked. It involves thinking about how you deliver your speech as much as what you’re actually saying.

Public speaking needs audience awareness

When I think about some of the best speeches that I’ve watched recently – speeches by people like Barack Obama and Steve Jobs – one of the most obvious strengths is that they are always aware of their audience.

When Obama speaks at a small town hall gathering, he engages each of the attendees individually, making eye contact and gesturing (note, not pointing aggressively) to attendees learn the facts here now. When he’s speaking to a much larger crowd, like at his inauguration, he’ll completely change his tone and gestures. He won’t walk around so much, he’ll stand taller and look more statesmanlike.

Most importantly, a great speaker will tailor what they’re talking about to who they’re talking to. Look at when Obama goes to speak to a small group of people: he’ll talk about things that engage that audience. When he’s speaking to the nation, say, for example at a State of the Union, he’ll behave more formally and will move around less.

Public speaking needs a personal touch

So you know your audience, how do you make sure that you reach them? This, I think, is relatively simple: tell a story. Anecdotes help your audience understand and follow your thinking.

In some of the speeches I’ve given around the world, I often tell a story from my own life, which has influenced my thinking in some way, such as the ‘Be Something More’ poster from my childhood. My mum wouldn’t let me have any other posters on my bedroom wall.

This one ended up influencing my entire way of thinking and I think that sharing this helps my audiences to understand where I’m coming from. I’ve included a video of me talking about it below.

https://youtu.be/l15z3vd77QQ

Public speaking is, at its simplest form, about communication. How do you share the ideas that you’re passionate about and bring your audience along with you?

When I think about it in this way – when I try to really understand the mindset of my audience and consider the opportunity I have to share with them a very personal vision about where we’re all going – far from dreading it, I can’t help but be excited by public speaking.

3 important lessons I’ve learned in business

To be successful in business, you have to be able to adapt and to pick up knowledge and skills as you go. You learn from mentors, colleagues and competitors, and you take lessons from both your achievements and your mistakes.

Absorbing all of this information helps you to grow not only as an entrepreneur, but also as a person. Following are three important lessons I’ve learned during my career.

1. It’s impossible to control everything

No matter how much of a perfectionist you are and how tight a grip you want to keep on your company, the simple fact is you can’t control everything.

Trying to micromanage every aspect of your business can reduce your ability to focus on strategic planning – not to mention spiking your stress levels unnecessarily. As a leader, you have to be able to take a step back and delegate tasks to the appropriate people.

There will also be a range of variables outside of your business that you have little or no control over, including the prevailing market conditions. It means you have to be flexible in your approach and ready to tailor your strategy to suit changing circumstances.

2. Patience is an important virtue

It’s true that a small number of businesspeople seem to propel themselves to instant fame and fortune, but the vast majority of entrepreneurs have to work hard over a sustained period of time to achieve their goals.

This means that patience is vital asset among business leaders. You need to have foresight and dedication to stick to your path and realise your ambitions. Anyone who has made it to the top thanks to hard work and perseverance – and that’s most people – will tell you that this makes the eventual rewards all the more satisfying.

3. Keeping your focus is crucial

After reaching a particular target or milestone, there is a risk that entrepreneurs – who are always juggling multiple priorities – will turn their attention elsewhere and lose their momentum. If you want to achieve sustained success and company growth, you’ll need to be able to maintain your focus on all areas of your business.

One of the things that has helped me to remain motivated throughout my career is my desire to ‘Be Something More’. This phrase was printed on a poster that I put up on my bedroom wall as a youngster living at home and it has helped me to shape my approach to work and to life more generally.

‘Be Something More’ reminds me to continuously strive to achieve the most for my businesses, myself and, just as importantly, for the people around me. This guiding principle is so important to me that I decided to make it the catchphrase for the entire Appco Group.

 

As chairman and founder of the Cobra Group, Chris Niarchos has achieved global success as an entrepreneur. His journey began at the age of just 22 when he started his first direct sales company in Sydney. He had a vision of growing the business into an international organisation and, through hard work and skill, he has succeeded in his ambition.

Why a positive approach is a must for aspiring entrepreneurs

Not everyone aspires to be an entrepreneur or run their own company, but for those who do choose it, it can be a highly rewarding career path. In my case, it has enabled me to fulfil my professional ambitions, work with some amazing people and see the world.

But, as any entrepreneur will tell you, it’s not all plain sailing and a positive approach is one of the most important qualities that businesspeople, especially aspiring entrepreneurs, can possess. I’ve found that a good attitude can help in a number of different ways…

Keeping a clear head

Letting negativity creep into your thought process makes you more likely to panic in challenging situations.

Most of us know from our personal lives that negative emotions such as fear and anger can reduce our ability to think logically and find rational and/or creative solutions. The same is true in business; if your thought process is dominated by emotions, you’re more likely to act irrationally.

In contrast, if you can stay confident and be optimistic about the future, it’s much easier to keep a clear head and work through any issues successfully.

Being a more effective leader

Keeping a positive attitude helps you to be a more effective leader. Your colleagues will feed off your confidence and enthusiasm and, in turn, this will make them feel better about your business and their roles within it.

Most people want a leader who can see the bigger picture and stay positive even if times are tough seroquel 300 mg. If you can do this, you’ll find it easier to attract and retain the top talent within your organisation, which is a major factor in the long-term success of your business.

Boosting your energy and productivity levels

There’s no getting around the fact that running a company takes plenty of hard work and dedication. Another benefit of maintaining your positivity is that it can make it easier for you keep your energy and productivity levels up. Having a positive vision for your company’s future makes those long days seem worthwhile and it helps you to stay focussed.

Keeping your stress levels in check

You can’t expect an entirely smooth ride when you’re in charge of a company, but an optimistic outlook can keep your stress levels in check.

If you have confidence in your abilities as a leader and you believe in your business model, you will find it easier to cope with potential problems. On the other hand, people with a more negative outlook can find that their stress and anxiety levels soar when they encounter difficulties.

 

Appco’s Chris Niarchos started his first direct sales company in Sydney, Australia at the age of just 22. From the outset, he had the vision of turning it into one of the world’s most successful sales and marketing businesses – and with operations in almost 30 countries across the globe, he has realised this ambition. You can find out more about Appco Group and the Cobra Group of Companies by visiting their websites.

What is the Human Commercial™?

Ever since I first set up my direct sales business in Australia at the age of 22, I’ve sought to set new standards of excellence in this field.

Face-to-face sales is the oldest and most enduring form of marketing available and, over decades, I’ve witnessed first-hand the impressive results it can achieve for a wide range of organisations. At Appco, we’re continually looking for ways to enhance our services – and as part of this, we’ve developed the Human Commercial™. But what exactly is this concept and why it has proved to be so effective?

 

Creating a connection

The genius of face-to-face sales is the fact that it creates an instant and lasting connection with consumers. In an increasingly digital world, faceless marketing is now commonplace, but at Appco we believe that people still respond most strongly to other people. This is where our approach really comes into its own.

Using the Human Commercial™, the brand ambassadors in our network engage with people in a professional and friendly way, leaving a positive and enduring impression of the brands they represent. This is in stark contrast to TV adverts, websites, smartphone pop-ups and other impersonal promotional methods. While these approaches certainly have their uses and can be highly effective, they lack the human element of face-to-face sales.

Delivering a tailored message

The Human Commercial™ involves delivering highly tailored messages that are interesting and relevant to consumers’ individual needs and preferences.

Using the technique, brand ambassadors enter into dialogues with prospective customers and provide well-informed answers to any questions they may have. Again, other marketing channels like TV advertisements obviously work, but they can’t do that! In this way, the Human CommercialTM is not simply about ‘selling’ to people; instead it is about respecting them and making sure that they have the best possible experiences. In turn, this can enable consumers to make confident, informed decisions and it helps to ensure they are positively engaged in the products or services that our brand ambassadors represent.

So that they are able to deliver the detailed information that consumers expect and want, the brand ambassadors in our network have in-depth knowledge about the products and services they sell. This comes across immediately when they interact with customers.

At Appco we believe that as the original marketing method, face-to-face sales is here to stay. With decades of experience – and with the help of our dynamic and engaging Human Commercial™ approach – we intend to stay at the cutting edge of this industry.

If you would like to find out more about the services Appco offers, please visit our website. Regardless of your marketing needs, our form of direct sales could help you to create a lasting connection with your target audience and play a major role in boosting your long-term success.

In his role as founder and chairman, Chris Niarchos at Cobra Group of Companies is responsible for setting the strategic direction of the business. Appco Group is the direct sales and marketing subsidiary of Cobra and it now has operations in nearly 30 countries around the world.

3 things I didn’t know about being an entrepreneur

I know from my own experiences that starting out as an entrepreneur can be exciting and professionally rewarding – and it can also help you to provide a good quality of life for your loved ones. But before you set up your own company, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what’s in store. With this in mind, here are three things that you may not know about setting up and running a new company.

You can’t expect success to come overnight.

We’ve all heard examples of entrepreneurs being propelled to fame and fortune virtually overnight, but for the vast majority of businesspeople, it takes time to build up a successful company.

The initial stages of setting up a business are in many ways the most demanding and you will need to have patience to get through them. It can take some time for even the best start-ups to turn a profit so you have to be prepared to play the long game.

To achieve results and ultimate success, you must have a sound business plan in place and then be willing to put in the necessary hard work to bring it to fruition.

You’ll spend a lot of your time reassuring others.

One thing that takes many entrepreneurs by surprise is the amount of time and energy they have to devote to reassuring those around them. From telling partners and family members that the long hours you are putting in will eventually pay off to assuring banks that they will hit their targets, there are plenty of people to inspire and/or put at ease.

To maintain morale and motivation levels within their companies, business owners also have to provide their teams with visionary and positive messages. If you want to do this convincingly, you must have confidence in your business and in your abilities as a leader. You can’t let your self-belief waver; it’s important to remain upbeat and optimistic about the future – for your own piece of mind as well as that of others.

It’s hard to switch off.

When you’re in charge of a company, especially one its infancy, it’s difficult – if not impossible – to think of anything else. Even if you’re on holiday or trying to relax at home, your thoughts are likely to turn to your business.

Worrying about issues to do with the day-to-day running of your organisation, sleepless nights and fretting over whether you’re on the right track and trying to keep up to date with all the latest industry trends and developments is natural – especially in the early stages. But it’s important that you find ways to rest and recharge so that you’re able to make the best decisions for your business and, of course, for your personal life.

The good news is this tends to get easier over time. As you get used to running a business, you should develop a more balanced perspective and find you’re able to relax more easily outside of work – at least some of the time. You’ll never completely switch off when it comes to your own company, but you should be able to achieve a healthy work-life balance and, crucially, enjoy the rewards of your hard work and success.

 

Chris Niarchos has decades of experience as an entrepreneur, having established his first company at the age of just 22. Chris Niarchos’ passion for marketing saw him set up the Appco Group, an industry leader in face-to-face customer and donor acquisition.

How to earn respect as a business leader

Respect isn’t something that business leaders can simply expect; it is something they must earn. My career has taught me that if someone wants to be well regarded by their team members and the business community more widely, they have to show leadership, courage and a range of other compelling characteristics. Following are some of the qualities and actions that I believe to be crucial if you want to be respected by the people around you.

Lead by example.

To inspire your team to be diligent and committed, you must lead by example and be an inspirational and positive role model.

Those in the Appco Group network will most certainly have heard this business described as one where we “show don’t tell”. And I believe this is extremely important because people are much more likely to respect and emulate you if they know that you practice what you preach.

On the other hand, if they see that there are differences between your personal approach to work and the approach you expect others to adopt, they will be less likely to trust you as a leader.

Set high standards.

I am also a great believer in setting high standards for yourself and for the people around you.

If others see that you’re willing to cut corners or you’re prepared to settle for mediocrity, their estimations of you are likely to fall and their own standards may drop.

My experience tells me that people are most likely to respond to a leader who strives to achieve the very best in all they do, and who challenges them to do the same. The harder you work for something, the more you value it.

Have the courage to make bold decisions.

Having the foresight and nerve to make bold business decisions will earn you self respect as well as the respect of others. For example, challenging the status quo and step out of your comfort zone in order to improve your company may be a difficult move in the short term, but this is the only way to develop as a business leader.

And, even if a decision doesn’t work out the way you planned, you will gain respect for taking the leap and, just as importantly, learning from the experience regardless of the outcome.

The leaders who people really look up to have the courage of their convictions and are prepared to take action even when the odds seem stacked against them.

Show respect for and appreciation of those around you.

Showing respect for others is essential because, as I highlighted in a previous blog, every great entrepreneur needs a great team around them.

Acknowledging the successes of your team members, rewarding their hard work and treating them with courtesy and respect, will build people’s trust in you as a leader and encourages the same qualities in them. On the other hand, failing to recognise the achievements of others can dent morale and the ultimate success of your organisation seroquel 100mg.

Be confident in your abilities.

This plays a big part in gaining the respect of others. After all, if you don’t believe in yourself, you will have a hard time convincing others to back you.

There may be times when you doubt yourself and wonder if you are up to the job of running your company, but it is crucial that you stay positive and have faith in your skills as a leader, and in those around you.

 

Chris Niarchos knows exactly what it takes to earn respect as a leader. As founder and chairman of the Cobra Group of Companies, he oversees an impressive portfolio of businesses. For more facts about Chris Niarchos, check out this Bloomberg Business profile.

4 ways to future-proof your business

Starting a company can be difficult enough, but the real challenge is ensuring that your business stands the test of time. According to research conducted by Professor Richard Foster at Yale University, the average lifespan of a business listed in Standard & Poor’s 500 index of leading US companies fell from 67 years in the 1920s to 15 years in 2012. However, from my own experience as a business leader, I know there are ways to future-proof your business. Following are four tactics that could help you to increase the longevity of your enterprise.

1. Keep tabs on emerging technology trends

Technology is progressing at a phenomenal rate and so to ensure you don’t get left behind, it’s crucial that you keep tabs on emerging trends within your sector. By making sure you have access to the most up-to-date and efficient equipment and systems available, you can reduce the risk that your rivals will gain a competitive advantage over you. Making sure you have the best possible resources does require investment, but this will be money well spent if it prevents your company from losing relevance and being side-lined by more forward looking competitors.

2. Take steps to protect your brand

The internet – and particularly social media – means it’s now easier than ever to spread the word about your products or services and to build up your brand. However, the web also means that news of bad customer experiences can spread quickly. It’s important to take careful steps to protect your business’s reputation by doing everything you can to make sure that every customer has a positive experience when they deal with your business.

3. Nurture the talent within your team

Your people are your most valuable asset. Their hard work, expertise and insight could help to steer your business to continued success. However, to ensure you make the most of the talent within your team, you must take steps to nurture it. This involves providing people with necessary training, as well as mentoring opportunities, rewarding good work and making sure everyone has access to skills development and career opportunities. Doing these things should mean you are able to attract and retain the best people – and it will help those within your organisation to fulfil their potential.

4. Don’t let nostalgia get in the way of progress

There’s a certain reassurance that comes from maintaining continuity within a business seroquel pill. However, it’s vital that you don’t allow nostalgia to get in the way of progress. If your procedures aren’t agile and responsive to change, everything from your recruitment process and day-to-day operations to your marketing techniques and branding may benefit from an overhaul. Making changes to the way your company does things may pull you out of your comfort zone, but it could help you better reflect the current business environment and sustain longer-term success.

How to harness the potential of your team

My experience in business have taught me that having a skilled, dedicated team around you is essential if you are to achieve your goals. Without talented and effective people by your side, it can prove impossible to realise your (and their) ambitions. With this in mind, I’ve put together a brief guide to help you harness the potential of your team.

Invest in training or mentoring

All the best business leaders understand the crucial role that effective training and/or mentoring plays within companies. By providing people with all the support and coaching they need, you can help ensure they are able to perform effectively and confidently in their roles. These development opportunities shouldn’t be reserved for new starters. It’s important to offer employees and contractors the chance to enhance their knowledge and skills on an ongoing basis so that they’re equipped to be the best possible ambassadors for your business.

Reward good work

People are much more likely to stretch themselves and go above and beyond the basics of their role requirements if they know they are appreciated and will be recognised for their efforts. As well as praising people on an informal basis, it’s useful to have official procedures in place to celebrate good work, such as awards and prizes.

Across the global Appco Group network, each country hosts an annual convention to celebrate and recognise the incredible efforts of the independent field representatives and marketing companies in our network. It’s a great way to publicly acknowledge people’s hard work and achievements.

Providing people with opportunities for progression that reflect their diligence and skill is vital too. If your team members feel their input is valued, they are more likely to remain focussed and loyal.

Put effective communication procedures in place

Another way to nurture talent within your company is to set up effective two-way communication and feedback procedures. These sessions can help people to identify their strengths and weaknesses and foster a culture of accountability and openness. People are also likely to feel happier in their roles and perform better if there is an established system in place for getting guidance and feedback.

Your people should also feel confident about approaching their line managers, or others in their team, if they spot any problems. If they know they can raise concerns, contractors and employees alike can help ensure that any issues are tackled before they escalate and potentially do damage to your business.

Provide a clear company message

It’s essential to provide everyone connected with your business with a clear company message that they can relate to and support. When people understand that they are working towards a common goal and feel as though they are part of a team, they are more enthused and energised about their work – and you are in a much stronger position to achieve your business objectives.

 

Chris Niarchos is the founder and chairman of the Cobra Group of Companies, which includes AGS Global Fundraising Services. You can find out more about Chris Niarchos’ charity fundraising by visiting the AGS Global Fundraising Services website.