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Monthly Archives: May 2014

Fatherpreneurship, six tips for being a great business owner and father

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First of all I’m super excited to announce the birth of my son Joshua. He was born on Friday, May 16 at 3:44 p.m. He weighted 10lbs 9oz. My wife is a super woman, and has done something infinitely harder than any Ultra Marathon I will ever run.

Hello, World!

Hello, World!

The birth of Joshua got me thinking a lot about how much of a privilege it is to have a family and be an entrepreneur. Running your own business essentially allows you to set your own schedule so that you can have more time with family.

Here are six tips for being an awesome father and entrepreneur. For some entrepreneurs, this might not be easy, but I can tell you from personal experience these things work, and are totally worth it. It will strengthen your relationship with your kids, and your spouse.

1. Don’t make 50-60 hour workweeks the norm. Limit your workweeks to 40 hours or less on a normal week. If you do find yourself needing extra hours to get things done, wake up early in the morning to complete those tasks, rather than cutting into family time in the evening.

2. Establish a work cut off time. For me this is typically 5pm, but I sometimes take calls until 6pm because of time zone differences. Once I’m home, that time is family time. I even have my phone scheduled to enter do not disturb mode every day at 6pm, and it stays that way until 7am the next day.

3. The home life is your sanctuary. Guard the time you have with your family in the evening. Resist checking email, and don’t check social media. I admit these are actually hard ones fore me to be consistent with, but when I do I find the time with my daughter and newborn son much more rich, and my wife appreciates it A LOT as well.

4. Take your kids along for the ride. We all have hobbies, so include them in your hobbies with you. I love running and rock climbing, so I try to take my daughter on a run with me at least once a week, and I bring her to the crag to go climbing whenever I can. The running actually ends up giving my wife a break from taking care of the little one, and the trips to the crag give the entire family time to bond. Sure, your training plans are going to look different with a little one in tow, but sharing the joys you have with your children are far more important than setting a new PR in your next race.

5. Stop being selfish. Just as you have to focus on the needs of your team to have a successful business, you have to focus on the needs of your family to have a rocking family life. If you focus less on yourself and more on your little ones and wife, life will be much more rich.

6. Get your work life organized. If you struggle working 50-60 hours a week, chances are you are not working efficiently, and are wasting lots of time. The most valuable thing you can do for yourself and your family is to get organized so that you can peacefully leave work at the end of each day and be devoted to family time. I highly recommend the KanBan system for organization, as well as reading Getting Things Done by David Allen.

Being overworked sucks! Being in control of your work and spending time with your family is awesome. How do you manage running a business and carving out quality time with your family?

How to achieve Inbox Zero

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Inbox Zero

Inbox Zero. It is possible!

I used to scoff at the notion of achieving Inbox Zero. I thought that was only for extreme type A personalities that are also obsessive compulsive. But what I didn’t realize at the time was that having a clean Inbox isn’t just about keeping things tidy, it’s about being productive and getting more things done in a more efficient manner.

First of all I would like to clear up a misunderstanding about Inbox Zero that I think a lot of people have. I know it was one I had. Inbox Zero doesn’t mean you have checked and read every single email. It means that you have screened every email that has come in and moved it over to a designated folder that will allow you to attend to the email at the appropriate time.

Essentially, Inbox Zero is mastering control and organization over your Inbox. I used to sit down at my email and scroll through old emails in fear that I have missed something. This is what essentially pushed me towards email management. Being at a constant state of Inbox Zero essentially lets you control your email, rather than your email controlling you.

Here is how you can achieve Inbox Zero

First of all, you need to have at least five folders or labels in your email system. I recommend the folders: Needs Attention, Delegated, Waiting for Reply, Reference, and Archived. These folders are essentially holding places for your emails and allow you stay on top of every project and process you currently have going on.

Let me explain. You typically may sit down to answer email and start scrolling through your emails. The first one you read may require a bit more attention and require some research before answering, so you skip it and go to the next email. This one is a asking for a simple piece of information that will take you less than two minutes to reply to, so you immediately send off the reply. You also have several other miscellaneous emails such as newsletters, solicitations, and other emails that are not relevant to actual work. Several other emails may be items you can delegate to another team member, so you send the request their way and forget about it.

The problem with this method of checking emails is that you are constantly getting more emails, and important emails often get lost (like the one you skipped over), and emails you may have delegated to somebody else never get followed up on. Email management allows you to have better control over your email and ultimately helps you get more stuff done.

I mentioned five different folders earlier: below is how I utilize each folder. As emails come in I moved them to the appropriate folder, thus keeping the main Inbox uncluttered. At Inbox Zero and my other folders are essentially acting as a task/project management system.

Needs Attention: Essentially any emails that I don’t respond to right away, or that requires a detailed response I move to this folder. These emails range from simple questions to request to complete complex tasks. Any email in this folder needs to be responded to or acted on.

Now, lets say I responded to an email in this folder. My next action is to move it into another folder. If I’m expecting further follow up, I will move it to my “Waiting On” folder, if no further follow up is expected, I will have it to my Archived Folder. If it’s something I ended up delegating to another team member, it gets moved to the “Delegated Folder”.

This is perhaps the most important folder to have. Having this folder helps me sleep better at night and work more productively through the day because I’m not wasting time hunting through my Inbox to make sure there was something I missed.

Waiting For: The waiting for is the placeholder for emails that have been responded to and are likely to receive further feedback or correspondence, or emails that have been sent out and require a reply. Once the conversation related to that particular emails are over I will move the email to the Archived folder in case I need to reference it again at a later time.

Delegated: This folder is use to place emails that have been delegated to other team members. I will CC myself when I forward on the delegated task, and then move the email over to the delegated folder. This way I know who is now responsible for the task and I remember to follow up with that person a few days later. Once I know the delegated task is complete I will transfer the email to the Archived folder.

Reference: This is pretty much a catch all folder where I place newsletters, industry news, trade show solicitations, and other emails that I may want to read or look at later, but are just going to be time wastes at the time I’m checking email.

Archived: The graveyard for all emails that have been responded to! The nice thing about moving your emails to an archived folder is that you can reference them later if you need to. Simply put, any emails that are no longer active conversations go here.

You may find it helpful to have other folders as well in order for you to quickly access important information. I have a couple folders for some key accounts that we work with frequently, as well as one for invoices and receipts. The number of folders you will need to effectively manage your Inbox will depend on the nature of your work. The folders mentioned above are key to having effective email management.

You should make your system tailored to your specific needs. Email management is a way to achieve a higher level of productivity and get more stuff done. During the first week I started truly managing my emails I couldn’t believe how well it was working. It was working so well I kept thinking there has to be something I’m missing, but there wasn’t. The more I use this system the more my mind feels free, which allows me to focus on other more important projects.

Male Nesting – There are no Full Moons In Our Home

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Pregnant wife, about to pop

Kristy, 39 weeks pregnant, and ready to have the baby!

If you have been pregnant yourself, are married and have kids, or are close to somebody that has kids, you have likely heard of nesting. It’s the time the mom-to-be suddenly realizes her baby is coming soon and gains enormous boosts of energy in order to prepare the home for the arrival of the new life.

For many moms this period of time is spent cleaning, preparing the baby’s room, organizing baby cloths, and getting EVERYTHING possible ready for the child to be as comfortable as possible when she comes home.

When I had my first child I never really experienced any nesting tendencies, but with this pregnancy things are quite different. I have had several nesting tendencies of my own this go round. In the past couple weeks I have been in male nesting mode, getting ready for the arrival of my first son!

Here is how I have been, “nesting.”

My wife loves to refer to me as her wolf. Anytime I leave stuff lying around the house, or leave dishes unwashed, she says I’m “wolfing out.” Well, there have been no full moons in our home these past couple weeks. Dad has been on top of things like a fat kid on a cupcake!

Anytime I come home from work with a pile of stuff, I immediately put it in its place. I also put my shoes in their proper home (the closet) rather than right next to the entry door. I have even been keeping the kitchen clean, something I’m normally really bad about.

On top of helping around the house, I have also cleaned both of our cars, and installed the car seat. I think this is where it all started. Kristy requested I clean both of our cars, but it didn’t stop with a hose down and a vacuum. I got out the automotive cloths and Armor All and went to town! I have even been KEEPING my car clean, which is the vehicle we are using to bring home our son. I’m normally notorious for leaving things in the car, saying I will get it next time, but of course next time always becomes, NEXT TIME.

Inbox Zero

Inbox Zero. It is possible!

An increased level of productivity at work has also been a result of my nesting frenzy. In anticipation of taking a week off to be with my wife and son I have been a busy beaver. I have even achieved the infamous “Inbox Zero.” Which is something I used to just scoff at. I recently read David Allen’s, Getting Things Done, which is another contributing factor to increased productivity and nesting like tendencies, but ultimately the near arrival of my son has sent me into overdrive to ensure a stress free time away from work. I won’t be able to rest unless I know what has and hasn’t been taken care of.

I currently feel unstoppable. I have really been enjoying this nesting frenzy. So if you have something you want done, you might want to ask me to do it for you before the oven timer goes off: because after that you won’t be able to reach me for an entire week.

Are you a male that has experienced nesting? Do you know another guy who has? Please share your experience in the comments.

Everything happens for a reason

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I’m a huge believer that hard work pays off, but at the same time I also recognize providence plays a part of every successful business.

Every connection made, every contract signed, is all a combination of hard work, discipline, and a good dose of divine providence.

This has been hard for me to ignore with the growth of Bearded Brothers. A recent example of this involves our growth, and lack of it, with Whole Foods.

We are currently selling very well in the Southwest Region of the store chain, but despite our strong sales, great branding, and incredibly great tasting product, several others Whole Foods stores in other regions recently passed on carrying our brand (most of them without even letting us know why).

My first reaction was, WHY? What is going on? The Bearded Brothers brand is so strong here in Texas, it’s growing in other regions as well. Our product tastes amazing, and people love it. Why in the world would they not want to sell our energy bars, especially with strong sales in all our existing locations?

The answer…PROVIDENCE! Thank goodness for that, because not getting into other Whole Foods regions at the time ended up being a huge blessing. Just a couple months ago we attending Expo West, the largest trade show for natural products in the country. After that show our growth rate went through the roof, and we are working with another large retailer right now that will launch our product in July.

Our hard work was still paying off, despite not getting into other Whole Foods locations, which was part of our original growth strategy. It was a blessing because it opened up doors to work with another major retailer, and it allowed us to meet the growing demand of several other new customers. If we had brought on other Whole Foods regions when we had hoped, we would have REALLY been struggling to keep up with the demand.

I have seen countless examples like this as my business has grown. Hard work and dedication really does pay off. But when things don’t happen the way I was really hoping for, I can ALWAYS find a reason to be thankful.

Timing is another example of divine providence. There have been countless times things have come down to the wire. Since being in business we have moved three times, and all three moves came down to the wire.

I find a lot of comfort in knowing that I’m not in control of it all. I can’t control every outcome, and that actually brings me peace, because at the end of the day I know that ultimately everything will work out for the good: even if that means my business tanks.

Expect Great Things

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Shoot beyond the moon

Shoot beyond the moon. Expect great things for your business.

In just a few days my wife and I will have our second child. Joshua will be born sometime in the next week, God willing. We have great expectations for Joshua, as well as our daughter Abigail. I don’t know of any parent that doesn’t have high hopes for their children. I hope that both Abigail and Joshua pursue and excel at whatever their heart desires most.

I also believe that entrepreneurs should expect great things for their business endeavors. If they don’t, it’s probably not a good fit. Looking back at my past attempts at becoming an entrepreneur I realize why those things never took off for me. I never had high hopes and big expectations. I merely wanted to work for myself and make a decent income at something I enjoyed doing. Many people do manage to work for themselves, but their business never really leaves the stratosphere. I would venture to say this is because their heart is only in it half way.

But once you have found something that REALLY grabs you, that is what you should pursue. And you should expect great things! If you don’t you will never reach your full potential. When I started Bearded Brothers I had great expectations, which only have gotten greater as the business has grown. What was once a small great expectation, is now a mega grand expectation. It keeps me going. Does it scare the crap out of me? You bet it does! I see the potential my little company has, it extends beyond the moon.

How big are you dreaming? Are you expecting great things for your business? You should, especially if it’s something you truly believe in, or are passionate about. You should expect nothing less than the magnificent.

Also, if you are not following me on social media yet, you should be? I also just set up a new Facebook page, just for this blog: