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Richard Branson’s advice for young entrepreneurs

Starting a business at any age is tough, but being a young entrepreneur can be especially tricky. Fortunately Richard Branson has some tips for those starting their business ventures at a young age…

„Don’t ever let other people use your age as an excuse to not take you seriously,” the Virgin Founder says in a recent blog post. „Young entrepreneurs look at the world with fresh eyes and such lively determination. Some of the modern world’s greatest ideas and innovations came from people like you.”

Richard started his career as a young entrepreneur with a simple idea so he’s in the best position to offer advice, especially as like many young people he found that he was easily distracted.

„While I struggled with subjects like maths and science, I was passionate about topics like pop culture, music and current affairs (especially the wars in Vietnam and Nigeria). It was nearly impossible for me to keep up in school due to my dyslexia, so I left at 16 to start a magazine.”

He says that he found his passion for what he was doing with the magazine helped him to focus – and even kept him working all night at times. „It also helped me to stay positive during stressful times, and to tackle the challenges that arose as our team grew Student into a better magazine.”

Being passionate about what you do is important, Richard says, „we spend roughly 80 per cent of our waking lives at work, so it’s important that we do what we love and love what we do.”

However, its equally important to hone in on the areas of the operation that you are best suited to, and enjoy the most. „When I started the magazine, I tried my hand at every part of the business,” Richard says. „You name it, I did it: writing, editing, advertising, marketing, accounting. I soon realised that I just wasn’t suited for some particular roles – namely those that involved working with numbers.

„I learned to hand over those responsibilities to people who did them well.”

But how do you work out where you’re best suited to work in your business idea? Here’s Richard’s advice: „Sit down with your friend and discuss your strengths and weakness, then divide your business’ crucial responsibilities between the two of you. If you love your role, you’ll find that you will be less tempted to procrastinate.”

But his number one tip for the easily distracted – and everyone else: „Take a notebook with you wherever you go.

„I firmly believe that anyone who aspires to lead a company must develop a habit of taking notes. I carry a notebook everywhere, and am an avid note-taker and list-maker. This helps me to focus on what I need to get done and encourages me to be productive – and discourages me from procrastinating!”

7 Signs That You’re an Emotionally Intelligent Person

Some people are naturally inclined to be more emotionally intelligence, but it’s a skill and awareness that can be developed over time.

Emotional intelligence is an underrated quality for entrepreneurs, and a crucial one for employees. Simply put, it’s your ability to recognize and control your emotions, and to recognize and understand the emotions of others.

But, why is this quality important, and how can you tell if you have it?

Why Is emotional intelligence important for entrepreneurs?

People with high emotional intelligence are good at reading people, navigating and understanding their own feelings and interacting with others. These are just four of the most important areas where emotional intelligence can help:

  • Stability. If you want to lead a team of employees – or manage a community of followers – you need to remain emotionally stable, even in times of crisis. Emotional intelligence helps you control anger, panic and despair, and remain calm no matter what.
  • Sales and service. Understanding what people feel, why they feel it and what they want or need is pivotal if you want to sell products and services that people really want. It can also help you close deals once the businesses gains momentum.
  • Motivation. Being able to relate to your employees and understand their feelings boosts morale and motivates those staffers to become more successful in your environment.
  • Mediation and negotiation. Emotional intelligence also helps you resolve conflicts between and among employees or partners, and gives you an advantage when you’re  attempting to negotiate.

Signs of emotional intelligence

So, how can you tell if you yourself are emotionally intelligent? Look for these signs:

1. You’re able to articulate emotional experiences. We’re taught emotional vocabulary basics as young children, with words like happy, sad, silly, and mad. But how articulate are you at describing your more complex emotional experiences? An expressive and precise vocabulary is a sign that you’re introspective enough to understand your own emotions – and how emotions work in general.

For example, you might describe something as “nostalgic” rather than “a little sad,” or feel “stress-related irritability” rather than “anger.”

2. You can pinpoint strengths and weaknesses easily (including yours). Emotionally intelligent bosses are able to quickly discover their employees’ strengths and weaknesses – and aren’t afraid to admit their own. Everyone is good at different things, and everyone has personal shortcomings.

Ferreting these out is a sign that you pay close attention to how people interact, and you see both the bad and good in people.

Related: The Importance of Emotional Intelligence at Work

3. You’ve historically been a good judge of character. Think about the other people you’ve interacted with in the past, whether they’re former team members or friends. When you had a “good feeling” about someone, how did your relationship with them turn out?

First impressions can be deceiving, but if you have a strong history of choosing reliable, trustworthy, positive people to surround yourself with, you probably have a strong ability to judge people’s character.

4. People come to you for advice or support. How often do people in your life come to you for advice when they’re facing a tough problem? Or support when they’re going through a hard time? If lots of people do, that means they trust you not to judge them, and you probably give them valuable emotional perspective.

In other words, it’s a sign that you’re an emotionally intelligent person and that other people can see that.

5. You can let things go. All leaders experience moments of frustration, irritation, and anger, but how quickly are you able to move past yours? Are you the type of person who holds onto grudges, or the type who forgives and forgets? Do your mistakes haunt you, or do you try to work past them as quickly as possible?

Emotionally intelligent people are able to control their reactions and let things go with relative ease.

6. You generally know how others are feeling. Can you tell when your top employee is especially stressed out, even when he or she isn’t explicitly acting like it? Do you notice when your friends are acting strangely, even if that activity is only slightly different from their usual behavior?

Only emotionally intelligent people notice these differences consistently.

7. You accept other beliefs, work styles and perspectives. There’s no one “right” type of professional; there are dozens, if not hundreds of acceptable beliefs, work styles and perspectives. Are you the type of person who accepts and embraces them? Or do you try to convert everyone to your specific style?  

If you don’t think you exhibit these signs, don’t worry. Some people are naturally inclined to be more emotionally intelligent than others, but it’s a skill and an awareness that can be developed over time. Start by paying more attention to the thoughts, feelings and behaviors of the people around you, and make it a point to talk to strangers.

The 6 Components of a Happy Life

What is the definition of happiness? Why do some people seem to have the secret to happiness, while others struggle to gain any satisfaction? These are some basic but effective ideas that you can use to cultivate inner happiness and build an incredible life.

Simplicity

The route to happiness isn’t difficult. Happiness is not dependent on amassing a certain amount of fame or wealth; happiness is not dependent on reaching a certain social pecking order. If we are always striving after something bigger and better, happiness will remain elusive.

Happiness is found in the present moment, not some dreamed of golden future. We need to learn the art of being content with our current situation. Our current life may be far from perfect; but, if we can detach from negative situations and appreciate the value of simplicity happiness becomes easier to cultivate.

Live in the Heart

If we only live in the mind we look at every situation with our critical judgmental mind, as a consequence, we will inevitably find innumerable faults with the world and with other people. When we are constantly criticising others we can find neither peace nor happiness. However, if we live more in the heart we have a more tolerant, accepting attitude towards others. The heart’s qualities are acceptance and oneness. Children find it is easy to see happiness in the most ordinary situation because they are more in the heart. At times we need to distance the critical mind and take a simpler, childlike view of life.

Control Over Your Thoughts

When we feel like helpless victims of our own negative thought streams — how can we hope to be happy? To cultivate happiness we need to cultivate positive thoughts. This means stopping negative thoughts and replacing them with good, inspiring thoughts.

Avoiding negative thoughts requires practice. Meditation and concentration exercises can help us control our thoughts. But sometimes the best way to prevent negative thoughts is to concentrate on something positive. It’s your own thoughts that take you to heaven or hell, so be very careful with what is allowed into your mind.

Gratitude

If we show no appreciation for others and for life, we create a narcissistic outlook. We focus excessively on our sense of self and ego. When we offer gratitude for small things in life, it helps us feel a broader identity and awareness; our consciousness expands and we bring to the fore our own positive qualities.

Gratitude has tremendous power; if it is sincere and heartfelt it makes a big difference to our outlook on life. Gratitude helps bring to the fore a sincerely positive attitude to life.

Active

Happiness is easily found in usefully serving others. Activity doesn’t mean filling up our lives with as many activities as possible — this only leads to a sense of self-importance and stress as we struggle to do several things at once. But, if we are calmly active we find a sense of purpose in life; this sense of purpose and satisfaction helps cultivate an inner sense of satisfaction.

Physical Exercise

When you take regular physical exercise you will feel many benefits. Firstly, when we look after our body we are less prone to lethargy and illness. Through developing our fitness we gain an increased sense of self esteem; this is because we are taking active steps for our self improvement.

Increasing our fitness also enables an increased sense of mental well being; exercise helps rid the mind of many useless thoughts. It is important to have the right attitude to exercise, don’t think of school P.E. lessons in the cold rain; getting fit doesn’t have to be torture — you can easily find a sport or some exercise that is enjoyable and sociable.