Think Like An Employee, Act Like a Boss: 5 Tips to Working Productively

Tips on Woking Productively


Making the transition from employee to full-time business owner can be a tough adjustment for some.  After years of living the cubicle life, and sticking to a strict, structured schedule, it is natural to want to break free from the life that you used to know and settle into a life of freedom!

But when you make the switch to being your own boss, it doesn't necessarily mean that all structure and discipline should go out the window. In fact, that mentality is the quickest way to set you and your business up for failure. A smart mogul in the making knows that there has to be some sort of structure to keep things flowing smoothly and make your working time productive. When I decided I was ready to be my own boss and became a full-time entrepreneur, I thought that meant working in my PJs from the comfort and warmth of my bed, "multi-tasking" by watching television or chatting with friends and family members (you know, to make the day go by faster), and doing whatever I wanted to do, whenever I wanted to do it. There was only one problem: I found myself not getting much work done.  I realized that I was treating my business more like a hobby rather than the budding empire that I was trying to build. It wasn't until I made a conscious decision to make these changes that I saw a drastic difference in my business:

Think Like a Mogul

Coming from a corporate background, I realized that what made the company I worked for run so smoothly was the structure.  There were set working hours, checklists of what needed to be accomplished each day, and deadlines.  When I first made the switch, I was lacking all of these things.  Then, I had an AHA-moment: what if you ran your business as if it was already a major empire. These days, I follow a schedule pretty closely to make sure I am actually getting work done and moving my business forward. Now, I know you probably decided to go into business for yourself to free up more of your time, but the reality of it is you STILL have to work, sometimes harder than if you were an employee (more on that in a future post). Set a schedule that you will be able to keep up with, make daily to-do lists, give yourself deadlines to finish projects, and work as if you are the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Entrepreneurship does not mean you get to slack. Always keep in mind that you are trying to build an empire.

Eliminate Distractions

Distractions, such as watching television and taking phone calls, are the biggest productivity killers.  It's very hard to focus when you're trying to catch up on the latest episode of Scandal (or whatever shows you can't live without) or when your phone is ringing off the hook from friends that want to chat you up at any given time.  I'm all for multi-tasking, but this will get you absolutely nowhere, fast.  Turn off the television,  make sure your friends and family members know and respect your work schedule, and stick to it.

Schedule Breaks

I confess, I am a Facebook junkie! I am one of those people who must check the goings-on every few minutes. Yep, I know it's bad (hanging my head down in shame). My solution: I've decided to schedule breaks into my daily schedule.  Just like if you were a 9-5 employee, you would typically get two 10-15min breaks, and an hour lunch.  Don't fool yourself into thinking you have to work straight through the day in order to be productive.  Breaks are actually necessities.  Make time to stretch, grab a bite to eat, and even pencil in social media or other activities you feel that you can't go without.  Depriving yourself only makes you want it more, so allow yourself to take a breather.

Get Dressed Up

Sitting around the house in PJs all day is a sure-fire way to stay in lazy mode.  When you get up in the morning, get dressed, comb your hair, put on your makeup, etc. Do whatever it is you would do if you were heading into the office to work.  Studies have shown that the way you look is directly related to how you feel. So, if you stay in that just-out-of-bed, hair all over your head, fluffy pajama wearing mode, you'll likely feel sluggish and unmotivated to get much done.  However,  if you pull yourself together, you'll feel more ready and willing to tackle your to-do list head on.

Location, Location, Location

Sure, working from the bed is the most comfortable place in the house, but it's also the most dangerous. Not in the actual "danger" sense, but meaning, it is probably the place that you will get the least amount of work done because to the average brain, bed = sleep, relax, tired, etc.  Your environment can drastically affect your work productivity, so choose a location that is more conducive to getting things done.  If you have  a place in your home that can be turned into your "office" that would be the best choice. If not, consider the kitchen table, or any other quiet area that will allow you to stay alert and get things done.  Also, if you need a change of environment from time to time, drive over to your local coffee shop, café/restaurant, or bookstore.  The bumbling atmosphere will keep you awake, and just being out of the quiet and stillness of your home or office will up your mood, which is very important if you plan on getting anything done.

What other tips do you have for staying productive and getting things done when working for yourself? Please share in the comments below.

To Your Prosperity and Success, Nikola Ahaiwe Business & Success Coach/Motivational Speaker/Blogger

Nikola Ahaiwe - Business Coach, Motivational Speaker, Blogger

P.S. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter for more valuable business tips, resources, and tools! If you found this post helpful in any way, don’t forget to share it with your network!

3 Ways to Find Your Target Market

I cannot tell you how many times I've heard a business owner say "I don't have a target product/service can be used by anyone." Now, while it may be true that "anyone" can use your product or service, it is still imperative that you know who your primary, and ideal, client is.  These are the people that are searching for exactly what it is that you have to offer, and quite frankly, the people that you'll actually want to work with! One thing that you must realize as a business owner is that everyone is not meant to be your client.  As a small business owner, you'll want to fill your calendar up with, or make sales to, those who will actually benefit from your offerings most.  I'll assume that you started your business because you enjoy what you do.  Working with the wrong clients, and/or not being able to find the right clients, is one way to quickly change those feelings. Below, I have compiled 3 of the top questions you'll need to answer to help you find your target market:


Who is your ideal client?

This is the time to get very specific about the type of client that you envision yourself working with. You should have their description down to a tee - What do they look like? How much income do they make? What kind of car do they drive? What is their education level? Where do they live?  The more specific the questions you can answer about your ideal client, the better.  This helps you weed out those who would not be the right fit for your business, and attract those that you can better serve.

Where does your ideal client hang out?

Knowing where your target market typically hangs out, whether online or offline, is very important because this will determine where to focus your marketing efforts and advertising dollars.  If you know that your ideal client reads certain blogs or magazines, you'll want to make sure you are advertising there.  If they frequent certain local hangout spots or shop in certain stores, you'll need to find a way to get your marketing materials in those places.  The goal is to get yourself in front of your target market as often as possible.  The general rule of thumb is that it takes a client at least 5 points of contact before they make the decision to buy from or work with you, so make sure that you are positioning yourself to be seen in multiple places.  Just having a website is not going to cut it.

What problem does your product/service help your client solve?

When developing your products/services, it is best to start from the point of figuring out what problem will it help solve.  In what ways will your product/service help your client? Will this make things easier for your customer? Will it save time? Will it save money?  Is this something that they cannot get anywhere else?  Knowing the answers to these questions will help you shape your USP, or unique selling position.  Your USP can be crafted and used in your marketing materials to explain to your potential client why they absolutely NEED what it is that you have to offer. One thing that you must remember when it comes to marketing a business is that it is not about you.  Take yourself out of the equation and figure out your clients wants and needs, then come up with a plan to show how you can help solve whatever problem they may be facing.  An effective marketing campaign absolutely must start with determining your target market.  Otherwise, you'll be forever spinning your wheels searching for "just anyone" to buy what you're selling and will waste a lot of time and money in the process. Leave your thoughts below! Have you determined your target market? How has knowing who your ideal client is made marketing your business more effective? What companies/brands do you know that do a great job at marketing to a very well-defined niche? To your prosperity and success, Nikola Ahaiwe Nikola Ahaiwe - Business Coach, Motivational Speaker, Blogger P.S. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter for more valuable business tips, resources, and tools! If you found this post helpful in any way, don't forget to share it with your network!

4 Success Lessons From a 6-Year Old

Children have some pretty interesting perspectives on life.  For those of us that are parents, we are given the responsibility of teaching our children life's lessons.  But, if there is one thing that I've realized since becoming a parent, it is that adults can actually learn a lot from children. Here are 4 lessons on success that my twin 6 year old daughters have taught me over the years: NIkola Ahaiwe with Twin Daughters 1. Set Big Dreams Remember when you were a kid, people would always ask "what do you want to be when you grow up?" and you would reply with a huge, sometimes far-reaching career goal?  Well, as a kid, there is no such thing as "dreaming too big". When they decide they want to be, or do something, you better believe that they believe 100%, without a shadow of  doubt, that they will make it happen.  What if we carried those same beliefs over into our adult lives? Why do we let fear and doubt creep in when we're older.  Try to get back that old, childlike belief system and go after your goals boldly and fearlessly. 2. Negotiate For What You Want My youngest daughter is the Queen of negotiating.  No matter what offer I put on the table, she always has a rebuttal that would sweeten the pot in her favor.  While most times I shut her down and revert her back to the original "deal," I can admire the fact that she at least knows how to ask for what she wants.  In business, things are no different.  Just because an offer is on the table doesn't mean it is final.  The art of negotiation is a skill that you will most definitely need to acquire.  Yes, it will require you to be bold and confident enough to voice your opinions, but it is worth it.  You want to make sure you are getting deals that are fair and worth your while. Don't Let One No Stop You 3. You Can't Let One No Stop You Why is it that the word "no" to a kid is not always a concrete no? Sometimes they'll ask the same question again and again, even though they've already been shut down.  While it's probably not a good idea to try that tactic, the lesson to be learned here is that one No does not have to be an end all, be all.  Let's say you get rejected by a bank for a loan, or you have a proposal get rejected. Those are not reasons to give up.  You may not have gotten to your destination as fast or as easy as you would have liked, but it only means you need to figure out another route to get there. 4. If At First You Don't Succeed, Keep Trying I'm always amazed at my oldest daughter for her ability to keep trying, even when something does not come easy to her.  She just keeps pushing on until she figures it out.  As a business owner, you cannot be derailed if you's all a part of the process.  The path to success is not always an easy one.  You will fail, and fail again. But, the only way to finally achieve success is to pick yourself up and try again every single time.  Always remember, failure is your greatest teacher. What are some other lessons you've learned from a child, whether yours or someone else's, that can be applied to your business, or life in general? Please leave a comment below. To Your Prosperity and Success, Nikola Ahaiwe Nikola Ahaiwe - Business Coach, Motivational Speaker, Blogger P.S. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter for more valuable business tips, resources, and tools!

Network to NetWORTH: 6 Effective Networking Tips

6 Effective Networking Tips By now, you probably know that networking is an integral part of building a business (ever heard the phrase "Your Network is Your Net Worth?").  But what you don't know is, chances are, you've been doing it wrong.  Attending random functions, handing out your business card to any available hand, and rambling on and on about your business in hopes of making a sale.  Sound familiar? If you have been feeling like your networking efforts have not been paying off, perhaps these 6 networking tips can show you how to do it more effectively.

1. Look Presentable

You only get one shot at making a first impression, so make sure your first is your best!  You'll want to be dressed professionally and look well groomed.

2. Be Approachable

Be conscious of the signals your body language is throwing off.  For example, standing with your arms crossed with a slight scowl and looking uninterested screams "please don't talk to me". Instead, plaster on a very warm and inviting smile, stand up straight, and look confident and happy to be in attendance.

3. Have an Objective/Game Plan

When considering the types of events that are right for you, you should ask yourself the following questions: - What do I hope to accomplish from attending this event? -  Is this an event that my target market would attend? - Is there a certain person/people that I hope to connect with? - How can I be of assistance? If you don't have an end game in mind, what exactly is your reason for attending?  Networking should be looked at as another important strategy in your overall marketing plan, not just another opportunity to schmooze.

4. Focus on Connections, Not Sales

The purpose of networking is NOT to walk in and try to sell your products or services.  Instead, you want to focus on building genuine, quality connections.  Now is not the time to give your sales pitch to any listening ear in the room.  The "sales" aspect will come later.  Can you imagine a random person walking up to you and giving you a sales pitch without so much as an introduction? Annoying, right? So don't be that person.  Your attitude should be that of "how can I help you?" or "I would love to get to know you better".  Successful networkers know that building a business is all about building relationships.

5. Don't Forget Your Business Cards

Sounds like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many people attend networking events without a business card. Say what?! Your business card is your calling card. How else do you expect people to contact you? If a business owner does not have a business card, I can't take them seriously.

6. Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up

Perhaps the most important aspect of the networking process is the follow up.  It is the beginning of forming an essential relationship.  Unless you have a razor sharp memory, a really great way to recall details and specifics of the people you meet and the conversations you've had is to jot down brief notes on the back of their business card.  That way, when you reach out to them (preferably within a day or two after the event so you're still fresh in their mind), you have a point of reference and your conversation will be more genuine. As a point of reference, you should aim to introduce your business to at least 30 new people per week. Keep this in mind when developing your networking strategy. To Your Prosperity & Success, Nikola Ahaiwe Business Coach, Motivational Speaker, Business Blogger Nikola Ahaiwe - Business Coach, Motivational Speaker, Blogger P.S. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter for more valuable business tips, resources, and tools!

Stop Comparing Your Beginning to Someone Else’s Middle

Have you ever found yourself comparing yourself, or even envying other people's success? In this video, I'm sharing why you need to stop comparing your beginning to someone else's middle, and enjoy your own journey to success! Leave a comment below and let me know how comparing yourself/business to someone else has hindered you from achieving success.  Don't forget to share this video with some you know it may help! To Your Prosperity & Success, Nikola Ahaiwe Business Coach, Motivational Speaker, Business Blogger Nikola Ahaiwe - Business Coach, Motivational Speaker, Blogger P.S. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter for more valuable business tips, resources, and tools!

The #1 Strategy for Business Success

Want to know the #1 thing that will set your business apart from the competition and help you grow your biz in a major way? It's simple:


  Consistency is Key Being consistent is a sure fire way to show prospective clients that you are a serious entrepreneur that is here to stay and not just some fly-by-night operation. Sometimes, people will watch/track you for months, sometimes even years before deciding to do business with you.  They need to feel a sense of security and be able to trust that you are the right person to do business with before they loosen the purse strings and invest money to buy your product or utilize your services. So, when planning your marketing strategy, you'll want to make sure you are only including tasks that you will be able to keep up with on a regular basis. Blogging?  Come up with a content schedule that works for you.  Whether you're posting on certain days, or just a certain number of times weekly/monthly, make sure that it is a constant thing that your followers and potential clients can look forward to. (By the way, you absolutely should be blogging more than once per month). The same thing goes for social media.  There is nothing like randomly posting every few days, then dropping out of sight for months on end.  It simply confuses people.  Create  a schedule similar to your blogging schedule and follow it closely. Remember, people do business with those that they know, like, and trust.  Being consistent in all aspects of your business is the perfect way to gain credibility and build those type of relationships. I'd love to know, how has being consistent lead to the growth of your business?  Leave a comment below. To Your Prosperity and Success, Nikola Ahaiwe = Business Coach, Motivational Speaker, Business Blogger Nikola Ahaiwe - Business Coach, Motivational Speaker, Blogger P.S. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter for more valuable business tips, resources, and tools!

5 Ways to Market Your Business on a Shoestring Budget

If you were to ask most entrepreneurs what was the biggest challenge they face in business, the number one answer, unfortunately, would be money (or lack thereof).

Cash flow problems is often a road block to success when trying to start or grow a business.  After all, you need money to market your business and get the word out about your products and/or services, right?

Well, it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way.  With a little creativity and out of the box thinking, you can still market your business without a huge marketing budget.

Here are 5 ways to market your business on a shoestring budget:

 Video Marketing

Video is a great tool for marketing any type of business.  Whether you create how-to videos, descriptions of your products/services, testimonials, etc., it is a great way to get exposure.  The great thing about video is that it does not have to be a huge, elaborate production to be effective. In fact, quick, simple, and to-the-point videos shot on an inexpensive flip video camera, cell phone, or web cam can do the trick. In most cases, it’s not all about the quality, but more about the message you are getting out there.  Now, I’m not saying just throw up any old blurry, crummy video, but don’t spend so much time worrying about perfection that you hesitate to get started. Remember, people do business with those they know, like, and trust. Incorporating video marketing is a great way to gain that trust. Your customers/clients want to know that they are working with a REAL person, so letting them hear your voice and see your face creates a sense of a personal connection, making them more willing to do business with you.

How to Set Up An Email Marketing Campaign

 Email Marketing

Staying in front of your target market is imperative.  The best way to do this: email marketing. You can use email services such as Constant Contact, Mailchimp, etc. to create an opt-in box on your website to capture the email addresses of potential clients (this works best when you share a “free juicy offer” such as a free report, ebook, etc). Email your list on a regular basis to make sure that your business is at the top of mind when it’s time to seek out someone who offers your specific product/service. The key here is to not be “spammy” by bombarding them with constant sales pitches. Instead, offer value with your emails. For example, If you own a clothing boutique, write an article about the most current clothing trends and include a discount code to purchase similar clothing from your shop. This is also a good opportunity to keep potential clients in the know about what’s new with your business, events that you’ll be participating in, special promotions, etc. Use catchy subject lines to make your subscribers want to open your email, and be sure to pack in interesting info to make sure you keep their attention once they do!

Effective Networking Strategies


While online marketing should definitely be a part of your marketing plan, nothing beats good ol’ face-to-face networking.  In a world where practically everyone is using social media, it’s still important to get from behind the comfort of your computer, get out there and shake some hands and network.  Networking is an acquired skill, so take time to learn some effective strategies. It’s not about attending as many events as possible and shoving a business card in the hands of anyone who will take it. Your goal should be to make quality connections. Also, focus on what you have to offer others versus going in with a “what can you do for me” mindset.  You will find that more people will be willing to work with you and/or speak your praises when you are willing to help them in some way as well. As a rule of thumb, you should aim to speak to at least 30 people per week about your business.  Research events in your area using a site such as, and plan to attend at least 1-2 events per week.

 Hosting Your Own Events

Another great way to spread the word about your business is to host events. Depending on the type of business you are in, you can come up with some creative event ideas to build a buzz about your business, score great press, and meet new and potential customers face-to-face. It is a great way to build personal relationships (remember the know, like, and trust factor).  If you are in the beauty industry, why not host a pampering event to get a group of potential clients in one place where they’ll be exposed to your product/service?  If you’re a wedding designer, you can host an open house to show samples of your design style and invite engaged couples to see what you have to offer. Really, the possibilities are endless. Get creative and come up with a fun quarterly or twice a year event to steadily gain new clientele.

How to Start a Blog


In my opinion, blogging is one of the most efficient, and inexpensive ways to market your business. Just like with email marketing, it is your opportunity to stay in front of your target market, offer solutions to their problems, as well as keep them informed on the goings-on of your business.  As with all forms of marketing, consistency is key.  Whether you post daily or weekly, you should come up with a schedule that you can keep up with so that your clients will look forward to what you have to share.  You can use a free blog site such as Blogger, but if you want to step your game up, WordPress is where it’s at! You are able to do so much more functionally, not to mention it’s more visually appealing and is better for SEO purposes (I'll go more in depth on that in another post).         

Do you have any other creative ideas for marketing a business on a shoestring budget? Please share in the comments below.

To Your Prosperity and Success,

Nikola Ahaiwe - Business Coach, Motivational Speaker, Blogger

P.S. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter for more valuable business tips, resources, and tools!

4 Simple Ways to Stay Business Ready

I recently heard an old school song on the radio with the lyrics, “If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready”. Do you understand just how powerful that is?! That one sentence can be applied to so many aspects of your life…especially your business! BePrepared Have you ever been presented with an opportunity, only to say (or think) “it’s not the right time”, “I’m not prepared”, “If only…” That is why it is imperative that you STAY ready, so you don’t have to GET ready when a blessing or opportunity is presented to you. You see, we are presented with opportunities almost everyday, but sometimes we block our blessings by doing one of two things: 1. Not realizing, or overlooking, the right opportunity when it is in front of you. 2. Simply not being prepared. Do any of these sound familiar to you? How many times have you missed out on a HUGE opportunity to advance your business, missed out on a sale, or lost a prospective client due to one of the reasons above? Below are 4 simple things you can do to make sure you STAY business ready: Create an Elevator Pitch An elevator pitch is a brief summary of who you are and what you do.  Sometimes, you only get one shot to speak with a prospect and fill them in about your business, so it is important that you take the time to craft a clear, concise description of what you have to offer. This is not the time to ramble on and on, nor present a sales pitch. The goal is to summarize your offerings and get your potential client interested in your product or service in no more than 30 secs (approximately the time it takes to ride on an elevator). Take the time to practice your pitch in a mirror so you’ll be comfortable and speak with clarity and confidence. dress-for-success-pic Dress for Success I know it’s really tempting to throw on a pair of sweats and tennis shoes when you have a day full of errands to run. However, when you’re a business owner, it’s very important that you are mindful of your appearance at all times. Now, i’m not saying you have to be all dolled up every time you leave the house, but you do want to make sure you take pride in your appearance. As you prepare to head out, ask yourself “will I be comfortable speaking to a prospective or current client in this attire?” If the answer is no, you may want to rethink it. People sometimes think that working from home means sitting around in your PJs all day. While that can be a lovely perk, I make it a habit to get up, get dressed, and make sure that I look as presentable as if I were heading into the office. Try it out…you’ll be surprised how much more productive you are! Know Your Products/Services This may sound like an easy one, but it’s really important that you know your products like the back of your hand! You should be able to answer any and all questions about your products (or services) without hesitation. Your clients will buy from those that they know, like, and trust. Not being knowledgeable about your offerings is one of the surest ways to strike up a sense of doubt , and can result in you losing the sale, client, opportunity, etc. Be Open to Change If you have been doing the same thing over and over again and it’s not working, then maybe it’s time for a change. Sometimes, your ego can get in the way and you don’t want to admit to yourself that you don’t know everything. Let go of that way of thinking right now. As an entrepreneur, you will learn new things as you go further on the journey and you have to be able to adapt to those changes.  The things that you thought would work, may not. All of the things you thought could not possibly work, just may be what you need to give a shot! Keeping an open mind allows you to always be prepared when an opportunity for growth arises. Keep these tips in mind so that the next time you are presented with a business opportunity, you will be ready! To Your Prosperity and Success, Nikola Ahaiwe - Business Coach, Motivational Speaker, Blogger P.S. Connect with me on Facebook for more valuable business tips!

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