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Managing Abundance

So, you want more. Good for you. You want more time, more money, more stuff, more satisfaction, more life. Great! You strive for abundance which, by the way, happens to be our natural state as human beings. But are you prepared for that? Are you really ready to enjoy what you wish?

I’m not talking from a philosophical, law-of-attraction-ish standpoint. I’m talking from a very practical, day to day approach for managing your future abundance. If you consciously chose abundance and if you achieve it honestly, then you have to be able to actually manage it.

During my life I had several abundance thresholds. When I left home and came in my country’s main town to study, I had virtually nothing. I worked during my studies and I successfully managed to financially sustain myself during that time, and I did it more than decent. During next years I passed over several abundance milestones: from going out of the student’s hostel to rent my own apartment, later to buy my own apartment, and even later to move into my own house. Which, by the way, I discovered I had to clean a lot.

Each time I reached those milestones I faced several challenges. Each time I had to cope with a bigger flow of stuff coming into my life. But it wasn’t only stuff, it was more than that. I realized that abundance can walk into your life by taking one of the following three shapes. There is another one, the 4th shape, but I reserved a special chapter to it, at the end of this post.

1. You can have more stuff: 2 cars instead of one, a house instead of an apartment, more gadgets, more clothes, more things – you know the drill…
2. You can have more action: going to the gym, socializing in a different way, making appearance to new events, doing something completely new – everything that your new status requires from you to do in order to keep it up and running
3. You can be involved in new relationships: new friends, new social positions for you, a pool guy, a maid, a chauffeur, or just new persons that needs your constant attention

Don’t laugh. Or if you laugh just keep reading because this is about you and the abundance you are eager to achieve. It will include all this stuff. It will change your life. It will challenge you at a very deep level. It’s ok to laugh, as long as you’ll be prepared.

Failing to realistically manage your abundance can have unpleasant consequences. You can find yourself overwhelmed and lose track of your possessions, or you can fail in managing your new level of relationships and let your wealth slip through your fingers. Or you can be fooled into a “don’t deserve this because I don’t don’t know how to handle it” pattern, which is even worse than the first situation.

So here comes the practical advice:

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The Gratitude Experiment – Follow Up

A few weeks ago I started a gratitude experiment. I wanted to understand more about how gratitude really works for me. I read a lot about the force of this attitude of gratitude, and also noticed how it was praised in “The Secret” and other motivational works. So, I wanted to put it to test for myself. If you came here directly I suggest to read first the original post about gratitude, in order to grasp more details. If you don’t want to go there, feel free to read on.

The experiment has 2 areas: one personal and one public. The public area involved a Twitter hashtag, “”#gratitude” and a daily tweet about things I am grateful for, including that hashtag, of course. Also, there were some invitations to my twitter followers to join this experiment. A few days after starting the experiment I put together a page on my blog listing the last 20 tweets with the hashtag gratitude.

I plan to write more about the public area after the end of the experiment, which will come somewhere around February 10th, because I really want to involve more people and learn from their experience. So, if you want to join this and then share your experience with it, feel free to tweet once a day (or even more if you feel the need) and include a hashtag #gratitude in your tweet.

For now, I want to share something about the personal area. The personal part of this experiment is in fact just a little exercise of noting down each day at least 5 things for which I am grateful, in an open and honest way. And see what happens to me during this interval.

Initial Excitement

In the first 5-6 days, everything was smooth. I noted each evening the things I was grateful for and gave each day a rating from one to five stars. Sort of an “excellence” mark. I sometimes noted those things even before the clock alarm I set on my iPhone for this experiment. It felt nice.

But after the 6th or 7th days, it become a little difficult. I got caught in the daily routine and if I didn’t have that clock alarm I would surely miss some of my gratitude sessions. For the next 5-6 days I did the exercise really quick and only when the clock alarm reminded me.

And after this period, meaning in the last 3-4 days, it become even harder. I had to postpone noting those gratitude things several dozen minutes after the alarm clock, sometimes close to midnight. Right now, after I decided to write this blog post, the gratitude attitude finally resurfaced and I feel really good.

But what happened? Why it was so difficult? My guess is that is something to deal with the punishment / reward mechanism. We humans, have a strong tendency to follow this mechanism. In the beginning there was a good deal of direct reward from this activity. Knowing that I’m doing something interesting and new made me happy about. That was my little reward. Each evening when I noted the results I felt good. For 4-5 evenings in a row. But then the reward circuit was closed.

You know, the reward mechanism is an incremental one. It needs more and more. If you set up a reward for something you want to do, you’d better be prepared to raise the bet every now and then, otherwise your actions will stop sooner or later. This is how punishment and rewards works, they need more and more of each other in order to sustain the activity. So, after the initial excitement, and in absence of a direct reward, I had to rely on self-discipline in order to express my daily gratitude.

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The Making Of An Online Business – Promotion

This is the last article from the series The Making Of An Online Business. So far, we talked about starting your own business, your projects, your teams, money management and partnerships. Today, we’ll focus on the last crucial topic in making an online business, and that is about promotion.

If you came here directly I strongly encourage you to read the rest of the articles, and the summary by following the links below:

What Is Promotion?

Promotion is basically spreading the word about what you do. It’s not advertising. It’s not lobbying. It’s not SEO, or direct email. Promotion is the simple fact of letting the world knowing that you started to operate your own online business. It’s so simple that in 99% of situation gets overlooked. Just tell people that you started it.

Why it’s so important about that? The real stake here is not to grow your client base, although you will have to do that sooner or later, but the shift towards your new identity. You will be a different person that the person that didn’t had that business. You need to be in that persons shoes and you need to do that faster.

It’s also important to tell that to as many people as you can in order to reinforce your choice. In other words, to use the outside world as a reflection of your choice. There will be times of trouble and you will tend to go back. It’s human and it’s a sort of a necessary strength test at some point. But if you’ve already told the Universe that you are a new person, going back to the old one will be harder. Might sounds funny now, but it works, believe me.

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The Making Of An Online Business – Partnerships

This is the 5th article of the Making Of An Online Business series and it will deal with your partnerships. After talking about your projects, teams and money, it’s time do dig a little on your alliances, associations, or, in other words, partnerships.

If you came here directly I encourage you to read the rest of the articles in this series by clicking on the links below:

What’s A Partnership?

A partnership is at the organizational level what your team is at your human resources level. As the words imply, it is a resource, a complementary resource that will provide more value to your business.

Generally speaking, a partnership is an alliance in which each part is providing specific values to the other parts. It is based on trust, acceptance and common goals or resources. A partnership is a temporary association of two or more organizations in order to attain a specific goal faster or with fewer resources consumption.

Why Partnerships?

I will say this again, until it will be really clear: online is the most dynamic business context ever. Things are happening lightening fast. Like really lightening fast. Keeping the old individualistic approach of “I’m the best in my field” won’t work anymore. Because you can’t be the best in your field anymore. You can only offer a slightly more interesting perspective than your competition, and even that only for a limited time.

If you want to increase your market penetration, you have to let go a little on your ego and trust on partnerships. I’m not saying to rely exclusively on partnerships, but treat them at least as necessary tools for expansion.

The real trick here is to chose your partners extremely carefully. They must operate in the same business context as you, but they don’t have to make the same things as you. They will be, of course, your competition, in this case. I can’t believe how many people ignore this simple and apparently dumb rule when they are going out for partners. And they do that by either trying to partner with the competition (not a bad thing for a desperate business, by the way) either by going for partnerships way too far from their audience.

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The Making Of An Online Business – The Money

This is the 3rd article from The Making Of An Online Business series, and it will focus on the money part. If you’re looking for a way to monetize your project, I covered this topic in the second article of the series, about creating and maintaining online projects, which you can find on the link list below.

This post will deal with my way of interacting with money as an online entrepreneur. There are tons of other blogs or courses from where you can learn the basics of money management, so don’t expect to find that kind of information in this article. Instead, expect to find some fresh approach to money interaction as a whole, applied to an online business.

If you came here directly I encourage you to read the rest of the articles and the summary by following the links below:

Start Your Own Business
The Making Of An Online Business – The Series
The Making Of An Online Business – The Projects
The Making Of An Online Business – The Team

Money Is Hot

From the early beginning I will tell you that I always felt money is hot. Meaning I can’t really keep it in my hand. In fact, money was so hot for me than I rarely saw it in big piles. Every time I had a serious amount of money available I was reinvesting it like the next second. Please note the difference: spending versus reinvesting.

And it was a good decision. By reinvesting the money in my own business I accomplished at least 3 good things:

1.  I always had new projects coming

This is crucial in the online. As I wrote before, online has the highest availability degree you can imagine, higher than any other business field, but it has also the tiniest loyalty mark, so your audience can be stolen away almost instantly. You have to be able to offer new things, you have to innovate, to re-create stuff. And fueling your R & D department with generosity is the easiest way to keep you on top.

Don’t expect that any projects you launch to be a success. But do expect to learn from any of your projects, both successful or unsuccessful. Spending money on new projects is like paying for your own education.

2. I soon learned that money is a resource not a goal

Too often money is seen as a goal. Blame the modern society, consumerism, your mom and dad. You can’t deny that, everybody judge success by the amount of money you have in the bank. But if you have the courage to not pile money out of your business and reinvesting it back, treating it like a resource, you will grow your business. And in the end that’s the only thing that matters.

You can win a lot of money out of one project and then get scared not to loose it and stop reinvesting it in new projects. Big and dumb mistake. Money is not the stake, growth is the stake.

3. I always had to closely watch the money flow

Starting new projects constantly makes for a great financial discipline, because you really have to know all the time if you do have enough resources to keep you going. I learned to maintain a constant money discipline, and that thing is benefiting me now tremendously. I always know how much money I have, even if you wake me in the middle of the night.

Knowing how much money you have, how much money you can spend and how much money you will make out of something has nothing to do with scarcity. It’s a transparent mindset that keeps you connected. It’s like always knowing your resources and potential and avoid walking on thin ice.

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The Making Of An Online Business – The Team

That’s the third article for “The Making Of An Online Business” series, and it will deal with a sensitive topic: human resources. For those of you who came directly here, the posts in this series outlines my 10 years experience in running my own online business. The first two articles can be found here

Start Your Own Business
The Making Of An Online Business – The Projects

and the summary for the whole series can be found here.

It’s About Relationships

The first and most important thing I learned during this fantastic experience was the fact that teams are not at all about results, but about relationships. Too often people are judged for their contribution to the assets of the company, but their real value lies in what they can provide at the relationship level. Maybe they can have skills, but if they are not able to relate in way that would make those skills openly and honestly available, their contribution is lost.

A good relationship means that communication goes well even if the skills are not. You have to be able to communicate your ideas and goals to all members of your team. Even if they don’t have the skills at the moment, they must understand what they have to do. The resources to do what has to be done will come, one way or another.

My team was around 25 people at its peak, with an average of 10-15 people most of the time. Maybe this approach is biased by the fact that my teams were pretty small, but if the relationship factor was so important in such a small universe, imagine how important it will be for a business with 100 or 500 employees.

There are just two main types of relationships you can have in business: the relationships between you, the manager / owner / entrepreneur with your employees, and the relationships they can have with one each other. The first model is radiant, you will be the epicenter and you will basically control what goes out, but the second is more like a graph, a web. Trying to control this web of relationships between your employees is impossible. You can’t really control that.

What you can do, however, is to be sure they all have the same set of attitudes that will make their relationships sustainable over time. All those people must share some core values about the way they relate. And when they face problems, if they have the same attitude toward problems they will eventually overcome the obstacle. But if they have only skills and no common attitude, their skills will be just useless.

The truth is that you cannot really create something on a damaged foundation. No matter how much money you put in, how much technical skills are you pouring in, no matter how much luck you may have at some point. A business is a web of relationships and if this web is broken, you won’t be able to catch your prey. If there are significant holes in this web, you will lose opportunities and spend your time repairing those holes.

That is against the normal, established human resources techniques and I’m quite aware about that. Every human resources approach focus on skills, and every CV you read emphasize that. I gave up reading CV’s long ago. A CV can only tell you about skills, but not about attitude. And attitude was the main factor for my human resources policy.

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