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Overwhelmed? Off the Grid takes you on unplugged vacations

(BUSINESS) If your brain might pop from just one more alert from your phone, it’s time to hop Off the Grid for a phone-free social experience.

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Do you ever have one of those days where you feel so inundated by technology that you just want to take your smartphone, laptop, and tablet and chuck it out the window? Yeah, I have one of those days about once a week.

It’s almost impossible to be disconnected from your phone nowadays. We all have work and personal items pop up at all hours, and we’re always expected to be available at a moment’s notice unless otherwise indicated.

Wouldn’t it be great to take some time and truly disconnect from the screens and enjoy what’s actually happening in front of you? This is possible with Off the Grid.

As you may have guessed from its name, Off the Grid is a travel organization that allows you to travel to far away and beautiful places, all while you leave your screens at home. The website describes it as “a mindful experience that challenges you to fully be present”.

For the trips, you select a destination with a pre-determined date and you’re placed into a group. This is perfect if your friends are unable to make the commitment to unplug, as you won’t be alone on the journey.

First, you’ll arrive in your city on Day one and meet your fellow travelers. You’ll all gather for an evening social to mingle and to prepare for a trip where you’re (basically) unplugged.

From there, you select how unplugged you want to be.

There’s an easy mode where you can check your phone at a designated time each day, a hard mode where you can only check your phone three times throughout the entire trip, and the “I’m All In” mode where you use no phone or Internet for the duration of the trip.

Now, you might be asking yourself, “What if something happens and I can’t find a pay phone?” They’ve thought of that. You’ll be provided with a burner phone which has group and emergency contacts. You’ll also be provided with a travel journal, analog watch, and maps of the city.

You’re allowed to venture on your own or stay with members of the group while out sight-seeing and enjoying excursions. And, don’t worry, you’re allowed to bring your camera!

Do you think you could handle a fully unplugged vacation?

Taylor is a Staff Writer at The American Genius and has a bachelor's degree in communication studies from Illinois State University. She is currently pursuing freelance writing and hopes to one day write for film and television.

Business Entrepreneur

7 books every entrepreneur should read

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) You’ve heard it said, “do as I say and not as I do.” Read these books from authors who have figured out what works and what doesn’t when starting a business.

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If you’re thinking about leading a startup (or already do), but are not sure where to go, the internet is often the first place we look. Surely, you can find dozens of blogs, articles, stories, and opinionated editorials that can help give you something to think about.

However, there are tons and tons of great books that can help you think about what you need to get started, how you could benefit from changing your mindset, or address challenges you may confront as you begin your entrepreneurial journey. Take a look at the following 7 you may want to add to your bookshelf.

1. The Startup Checklist: 25 Steps to a Scalable, High-Growth Business
This text not only boasts a 5 start rating on Amazon, but offers what few books do – practical, tangible, down to earth advice. Where lots of books try to tell you a story, talk strategy, and share wins, author David Rose instead focuses on advice that assumes no prior experience – and breaks it down from the fundamentals.

2. Nail It then Scale It: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Creating and Managing Breakthrough Innovation
Nathan Furr and Paul Ahlstrom focus on creating a lean startup by offering a step-by-step process that focuses on nailing the product, saving time, and saving money. The first step is about testing assumptions about your business, and then adjusting to growing it (hence: Nail It and Scale It). Strong aspects of this book include a great theoretical foundation, and an easy to follow framework.

3. The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls that Can Sink a Startup
Wasserman’s strength here is that he focuses not only on the financial challenges, but identifies the human cost of bad relationships – ultimately how bad decisions at the inception of a start-up set the stage for its downfall. This book is a great tool to proactively avoid future legal challenges down the row, and also discusses the importance of getting it right from the start.

4. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers
Horowitz writes about his experiences, taken from his blog, in a way that even inexperienced managers can touch and learn. The advice here really focuses on leading a start-up, and what lessons his experience has given him. Presented in a humorous, honest, and poignantly profane way.

5. The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-by-Step Guide for Building a Great Company
Blank and Dorf here standout due the sheer mass of this text. A comprehensive volume at 573 pages, my favorite piece for new investors is a focus on valued metrics – leveraging data to fuel growth.

6. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
A personal favorite of mine, this book is recommended for entrepreneurs not because it’s focus on business, but as a reminder that those of you wanting to start up are people. You have limited resources to manage as a person, and will need to adjust your perspective on what you care about. This book is about changing your mindset to pick your battles and be more focused.

7. Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup
Bill Aulet starts with an approach that entrepreneurs can be taught, and breaks down the process into 24 steps, highlighting the role of focus, the challenges you may encounter, and the use of innovation. This text wins due to its practicality for new start-ups, and a specific method for creating new ventures. It also features a workbook as an additional, optional resource.

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Business Entrepreneur

Top 10 character traits of successful entrepreneurs

(ENTREPRENEURS) Successful entrepreneurs and freelancers have certain traits in common – some can be learned, others are inherent. Do you have what it takes?

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Thinking of being an entrepreneur or freelancer?

If you’re one of the thousands of Americans who wants to quit their day job for freelancing or opening up your own company, are you sure you have what it takes to succeed? I’ve been in the game for nearly five years and what most won’t tell you is that there are many ups and down – it’s about more than grit. Succeeding is about more than just a will to win, rather your character – what’s inherently inside of you.

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Before starting out, you need to assess your skills and traits. Here are the top 10 characteristics of what successful entrepreneurs have in common:

1. Independence

You’re going to have to make decisions on your own. Rejection will happen. You have to trust your instincts and work with no one pushing you forward.

2. Risk-taking and assessing

When you’re your own boss, you have to measure the risk of every decision. Buying property is a great investment, but what happens if the market drops out of your industry two or three years down the road. If you can’t face uncertainty, you’re not going to make it in the entrepreneurial world.

3. Confidence

The SBA talks about being persuasive to get customers and employees, but before that, you need confidence.

If you don’t believe in your ideas, you won’t be able to persuade others to get behind you.Click To Tweet

I’ve learned that sometimes, you just have to fake it until you feel confident.

4. Creativity

You’ll never flourish in business if you can’t be creative. It’s not just about having new products but also about innovative marketing techniques and finding new methods of reaching customers. I started out covering news and writing website content, but now I write white papers, case studies, and press releases.

5. Support

Although this might be financial, it’s most certainly emotional. It’s draining when you begin your business. You have to spend time curating clients, marketing, finding support staff, and watching your books. You might go a month without getting a paycheck. If your family isn’t behind your decision, it’s going to be difficult when things get tough.

6. Discipline

There’s no substitute to take your place when you don’t get out of bed to take on your day. There’s no boss checking up on you to make sure you got to work on time. If you don’t have the incentive to get out of bed when you don’t have clients, you’re going to find it’s hard to meet their deadlines when you do.

7. Ethics

It’s hard to be financially responsible and follow all the rules of your industry when no one’s looking over your shoulder. You can’t just take money from your business accounts to pay yourself whenever you want. Well, I guess you could, but when you miss a tax payment or can’t pay your electric bill, who will you ask to pull you through?

8. Time management skills

I write a lot about productivity. To manage my clients, I can’t spend so much time working for one when another has deadlines that can’t be missed. You also have to manage your time to give yourself breaks. No one can work seven-day shifts indefinitely without burning out eventually.

9. Quick decision-making skills

There will be times when you don’t have two or three days to make a decision. You have to balance the risks of making a quick conclusion versus missing out.

10. Self-awareness

When you start out on your own, you want to know why you want to work for yourself. Be specific. You can’t say, “I want to be my own boss.” You’re going to need this self-awareness for times when it gets rough. Have goals and objectives, not just financial ones, to measure your success.

The takeaway

Being a freelancer and/or entrepreneur offers a lot of benefits, but there are downsides. You have to have the disposition to deal with the ups and downs of working for yourself.

#entrepreneurs

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Business Entrepreneur

When pricing your product, think like a photographer

(ENTREPRENEUR NEWS) On of the growing pains associated with starting your own business is knowing how much to charge for goods and services. Use these helpful tips one photographer uses for pricing a photo and get the ball rolling!

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More than a thousand words

A picture may say a thousand words, but a photo doesn’t just tell a story. A simple photo can be an excellent example on how to price your next business product.

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Photography blogger Sarah Petty wrote her method of pricing a simple 8×10 inch photograph for as advice for her fellow photography business owners. But her advice can actually be applied beyond the world of studios and darkrooms. Here’s how to think like a photographer whenever developing the cost of your next good or service.

Step One: Know thyself (and know thy client)

Your first step in knowing your next price for your next best selling item or service is knowing what type of business you run. This is solved by answering the simple question: are you a high volume seller with lower prices or lower volume seller with higher prices?

This question can be answered by looking at your sales for the past month. Are your trends indicating your customers prefer a more personalized, boutique approach to the things they purchase from you (with higher prices), or do you move a lot of product (with lower prices)?

When you understand what type of business sales trend you’re following, move onto step two.

Step Two: Understand your sunk costs.

A sunk, or fixed cost, is the price to manufacture or deliver a good that will not change (unless reacting to the market’s inflation). What is the basic core cost of manufacturing the product you intend to put in your store? That amount, your cost of goods sold (CGOS), is the baseline from which your ultimate price will come from. Now to step three.

Step Three: Look at your other overhead for producing your product.

So you know your CGOS, so all you do now is just add what money you want to make off that? Wrong. You’re forgetting that you’re not just making that product. You are maintaining a store or electronic storefront, you’ve got office space, human resource costs, and other things that may slip by whenever you’re trying to develop your price for your next big thing. This doesn’t mean you’re charging a customer a month’s rent for consultation fee, of course, but knowing that you’re going to need a comfortable cushion whenever figuring this product’s cost out. According to the federal Small Business Administration you should allocate a portion of the profit “to each service performed or product produced” and this cost should be calculated annually. Finished, now to step four.

Step Four: Profit!

Finally, after factoring your CGOS and your overhead, now you can decide what you want to make by selling. Petty personally uses the approximation of making 4 or 5 times her CGOS plus her overhead per item. Whatever the ultimate cost is, it has to be able to lend you the ability to live comfortably in order for you to be able to manufacture more in the future.

The next time you have to develop a price for a new product, don’t forget to step into the world of photography for awhile. You’ll be saying cheese all the way to the bank.

#KnowYourPrice

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