Sunday, 20 November 2011

The Entrepreneur's Checklist

I was asked the other day what personality traits I thought were important to entrepreneurial success. I immediately gave my preprogrammed reply about passion and dedication and hard work. After taking some time later to ponder the question a little deeper (I normally operate in shallow waters), I came up with a more detailed checklist for entrepreneurial success. This is by no means a definitive list, but I'd be willing to bet that if you don't have at least a majority of these traits, your chances of business success will be greatly diminished.

You must be self motivated.

If you don't have the wherewithal to bounce out of bed each day without your spouse drenching you with cold water, chances are you don't have the self motivation or discipline required to be an entrepreneur. Business demands that you take action based solely on your own volition. You have to do a hundred things every day that will not get done unless you make yourself do them.

You can't be afraid of hard work.

If you think working for someone else is hard work, try starting your own business. You will be required to give every ounce of blood, sweat, and tears you can muster and then some. You will have to work long hours and be on call 24/7, at least in the beginning. If the mere thought of hard work makes you tired, maybe you should just keep your cushy day job.

You should have experience in the type of business you plan to start.

If you can't locate your car's engine you have no business buying an oil change franchise. The most successful business owners have prior experience in the industry in which they have set up shop. Consider working in an industry at least part time for a year before jumping in with both feet.

You must be able to climb back on the horse.

I always say: "If business was easy, everybody would do it." Starting a business is hard work and the odds for failure are against you in the first few years. If you want to ride herd on your own business, you must be willing to fall off your horse and get back on a few times without giving up.

You need the support of your family.

When you start a business you may have to spend more time away from the family than you like. The business may also put a strain on you financially. You will have enough obstacles in your way without having to worry if you have the support of your family and those closest to you

You must have a thick skin.

If your feelings are easily hurt, keep your non-threatening day job because business is not for you. Many days in business, rejection waits around every corner and you must be able to handle rejection without taking it personally.

You must interact well with others.

Being an entrepreneur requires interacting with a variety of people, from your own employees to vendors to customers to investors. You must have the ability to effectively manage people without offending them; the ability to accept good advice from mentors and politely discount the bad; the ability to overlook mistakes or quietly rectify them; and the one I have trouble with: the ability to tolerate incompetence without losing your cool (at least not on the outside).

The deeper your pockets the better.

The number one cause of business failure is a lack of money. Before you start your business you should have access to enough capital to see you through until the business can sustain itself.

You must be able to delegate.

Running a business requires the performance of dozens of simultaneous tasks and it's foolish to try to handle them all yourself. You must learn to put your trust in others. If you can't dish out responsibility without worrying over the result, your business growth will be limited.

Previous business ownership is a plus.

Prior business ownership is not a prerequisite, but it can't hurt. Many successful entrepreneurs have the skeletons of past businesses rattling around in their closet.

Another of my sayings:

Business is a lot like marriage: you learn a lot from the first one that may come in handy the second or third time around.

With that kind of advice you can see why I didn't go into marriage counseling.

Here's to your success!

More Customers

urveys show that 85% of success in life relates to your communication, human relations skills, and "emotional intelligence".

Joe Batten, an American motivational speaker said: "Before you tell, ask; before you talk, listen; after you listen, relate; and always show that you care. When you can translate care, people will want to do business with you and details will not get in the way."

From a business viewpoint you also have to build relationships and get customers to trust you. To do that you have to:

1. Be Reliable

Do what you say you're going to do.
Do it when you say you're going to do it.
Do it right the first time.
Get it done on time.
Under promise and over deliver.

2. Be Responsive

Be available
Be accessible
Be willing
Be helpful
Be informative

3. Solve problems

Solve customers' unique problems and they will continue to be your customer. Put yourself in the customer's shoes and feel what they feel.

Does this mean that all your marketing and advertising needs to be "touchy feely"?

No. You can still create calls to action that increase sales whilst observing all these principles.

For example:

Tell them about a price increase!

People want a 'good deal'. If prices are going up on a specific date, let your customers know. They'll want to buy before the price increases.

Offer a trial perio

rial periods are a great way to get new customers. Offer a special deal, extra service or a lower price during your trial / introductory period.

Offer a Guarantee

People want to know there's no risk involved if they're not satisfied with the product/service. Let new customers know they can cancel for any reason before the trial period expires.

Offer free extras

Buy X and receive Y. This works with a whole range of products and services. Be sure to include an end date on your offer. This politely urges people to take advantage of your offer before time runs out. Give a deadline for ordering. Order by the 10th and receive.... That way, your customers know they only have a limited time to respond and they won't fall victim to the "I'll do it later" syndrome.

Offer a FREE gift

As an added incentive for ordering, offer your free gift to the first 100 or 1000 people that respond or walk through your doors.

Offer an upgrade

One simple line can boost your sales. "Order within 10 days and we'll upgrade you to ......."

Whatever you offer be sure to include action phrases:

* Call Now

* 24 Hours a Day

* Mail today in the prepaid envelope

* Fax your response card.

Business success also relates to communication, human relations skills, and "emotional intelligence", but in a business context.

Your Fears As An Entrepreneur

Everyone I have ever talked to that is an entrepreneur has had to come face to face with their fears. I have had to as well. I want to share with you some of the techniques that I have used to face them. The first step is not to be in denial. You have fears even if you don't readily acknowledge them. They sometimes take the form of that chatter in the back of your head that says you can't do it.

Fear is such a huge issue preventing people from becoming entrepreneurs. I have heard from the CEO of a real-estate based network marketing company that even though he has people packing out company seminars, that maybe 2-5% of people will actually go out and apply the knowledge by putting offers on real estate. He is convinced that the rest are paralyzed by fear.

Here are some of the techniques I have used as I learned them from the entrepreneurs I know:

Think about what you do want. When you find yourself spinning the wheels in your mind over and again about your worst case scenario, turn it around and focus on what you DO want. Visualize yourself getting what you do want. See the new house. See yourself talking to the interested person as they become a part of your business. You get what you focus on.

Change the voice. When you hear yourself telling you that you're not good enough – you're going to fail. Just change the voice from yours to that of Mickey Mouse or Jim Cary or something that would hold little weight with you anyway! Who cares if Mickey Mouse thinks you're not good enough? Is Mickey Mouse an entrepreneur?

Voice them to a trusted friend or associate. Hopefully you have been able to find some level of support from at least one other entrepreneur. Ideally, you have a significant other that supports you. If not, then you should have some kind of support network from your team, upline, or corporate that you can talk to. Some people may tell you that it is silly you could even believe that you're not good enough. For me, my wife has been a constant source of support. However, don't go looking for support to all those people who doubted you and told you it was crazy to go out on your own. They will never understand the entrepreneur.<

Have a personal development library. I draw tremendous support from my library. It is not just filled with how to resources, but also stories of others who conquered their fears. I couldn't begin to list the many sources I have, but if you email me I can recommend something based on your own description of your circumstances.

Go ahead and do it. Sometimes just making the smallest step will help get you going enough that the fear of not doing something can go away. An example would be neglecting to write an article such as this one out of fear of failure. Just starting it can create enough momentum to see it through.
Visualize the result, but make the action the goal. There is a subtle difference here for the entrepreneur. Of course you want the result, but maybe that's not in your direct control. Visualize the result in your mind, but make your goal the consistent and persistent action of the entrepreneur. The action will eventually produce the result and you can certainly achieve that goal.

Never, ever quit. I hate to even use that q word. If you do quit, you cease to be an entrepreneur – otherwise you're not beaten, you are moving ahead! 

Solve Problems Creatively

Maybe you've heard of problem solving techniques such as "attributes listing," and "concept combination." More creative thinking doesn't come from just knowing these techniques, though. You have to use them until they become a part of your habitual thinking process.

Imagine you want to invent a new bicycle. If you've trained your mind in "assumption challenging," you'll automatically begin to ask things like, "Are wheels necessary?" "Does it have to go outside?" What if the "bike" was indoors, and pedaling it ran a video screen? You could "steer" through endless different scenes.

You won't always have great ideas, but you'll have enough ideas to make it more likely that you'll find a useful one. This "spontaneous" creativity will be because of your brain training exercise. Why not start developing those habits of creative thinking?

Creative Thinking

Can creative thinking and even spontaneity come from a highly organized approach? Yes! For example, if you watch great comedians closely, you'll see that they have certain habits of mind. Even the most spontaneous ones get better with practice, because they're training their brains to find the humor in situations.

In the same way, you can train yourself for more creative thinking. Just start cultivating the right habits in your mind. Why not start training your brain today, with some simple techniques?

Creative Thinking Techniques

Want the mind of a creative inventor? Start redesigning everything you see. Imagine better cars, faster ways to serve food, or better light bulbs. If you do this every day for three weeks, it will become a habit.

Want to be the person who always has something interesting to say? Train yourself to look at things from other perpectives. What would the Buddha say about this? How would a Martian view it? What's the opposite perspective? The point isn't to ask others silly questions, but to ask yourself, to see what interesting ideas result. Do this until it is a habit, and you'll always have something interesting to add to a conversation.

Want systematic creativity in poetry? Put a word on each of 40 cards; 10 nouns, 10 verbs, 10 adjectives, and 10 random words. Shuffle, deal out four cards, and write a 4-line poem using one of the words in each line. My wife has had poems published that were created with this technique. Your mind will find a poetic use for any word if you use this method often.<

Start Investing Early in Your Career

You're young, you just landed a new job and you're going to be getting a decent paycheck. You also have bills to pay and there are also a few items that you've always wanted so now you can finally afford them.

Investing for your retirement may be the last thing on your mind at the start of a new career. Take some advice from those with a little more experience: Start investing early in your career. Start from day one and you will never miss that money you're setting aside. If your company has available a 401-K or a TSP program, jump on the band wagon immediately. If you don't have these programs at your disposal, you can still start an IRA and the concepts stated here are applicable as well.

It really does it make a difference when you start contributing. It is important to invest in your retirement account early in your career for two reasons. First, if you're fortunate to receive matching contributions, you don't want to miss out on those added contributions that are a significant part of your retirement benefit. Second, the longer contributions stay in your account, the more you stand to gain. Your money makes money in the form of earnings, and those earnings in turn make money, and so on. This is what is known as the "miracle of compounding." As money grows in your account over time, the proportion resulting from earnings will become larger compared to the proportion resulting from contributions.

The size of your account balance is going to depend on how much you (and your company if they match funds up to a certain percentage) contribute to your account and how your account grows as a result of earnings on your investments. To get an idea of what your retirement account could be in the future, look at the following projections.

Assume that you are an employee eligible for organizational contributions, that you are earning $28,000 each year, and that you receive no future salary increases. You choose to save 5 percent of basic pay each pay period; therefore you receive total organizational contributions of 5 percent. The growth projections below are for an assumed annual rate of return of 7 percent on your investments.

After five years your account balance would be almost $17,000; after ten years your balance would increase to $40,000; and after contributing for twenty years, your account would have a balance of $122,000. Clearly your balance would continue to increase each year. If you contributed for forty years, which is fathomable if you start a job at 23 and want to retire at age 63, your account balance would be $615,000. That's over half a million dollars folks! Just from contributing 5% of your income from the day you start work!

Looking at the numbers, it's hard to imagine why someone wouldn't start investing immediately!

Plasma Television

With televisions getting bigger and bigger Plasma Television technology has become a front runner in the big screen race.

A few years ago a plasma television was well out of the financial reach of the average man with the smaller televisions costing upwards of $8000. But with steady competition from the LCD technology these prices are steadily coming down as time goes by. Now is the chance for the common man to purchase a big screen plasma television.

There are several sizes when it comes to plasma televisions. They range from 25 inch up-to 60 inch. All delivering high quality picture. But what do you look for when purchasing a big screen plasma television?

There are several things to look for. Firstly don't go for the biggest one there. This will be the most expensive one and dropping a size or two below the biggest will get you the most value for money.

The second thing to look for would be the brand. Go for the most trusted brand. Some well known brands include Panasonic, LG and Sony. Sony plasma televisions tend to be more expensive than the other brands.

Thirdly you will need to look for a plasma television that suits your needs. Meaning one that has a remote and interface that is simple to use, and has all the connections you need for your surround sound system or DVD player.

Picking the right plasma television need not be a difficult task. You can ask friendly staff at any of the major electronics stores for suggestions and recommendations. In the end the choice is yours. The choice of which brand you want to buy, which color, which size etc. It depends on your personal taste and of course your budget. These days a 60 inch plasma television will cost you around $6000. Of course this is for a huge screen that most of us will not need. The more modest 42 inch screens will only set you back around $3000.

Ecommerce Web Site Design

Ecommerce web site design can spell either success or doom for any business. In this internet age it is imperative to have an online site for advertising, selling or buying a product or service. There are numerous ecommerce websites doing business on the World Wide Web. Your website's ecommerce design must be relevant to all the different elements needed for designing a good website.

If you want to add a personal touch to your site, you can design your own site. However you can also get professional help from the numerous website designing companies to get your online business site designed. Select a good web design company which has high credibility to design your ecommerce web site.

The purpose of any ecommerce site is to generate business for a product or to promote a service. Ecommerce web site designing is not an easy task and is not done overnight. There are some basic simple rules which you need to follow to make a good website. First of all ensure that your website is compatible to different types of browser and operating systems.

The purpose of an ecommerce site is to generate business leads, and if online surfers using different browsers and operating systems cannot even view your site properly, you will lose out on a significant number of prospective clients. Think about this aspect before you actually go about designing a website.

It is said that pictures have the ability to communicate messages which sometimes even words fail to say. Pictures have a very strong ability to portray strong emotions. Silence they say is sometimes stronger than words. Put up relevant pictures on your site to put forward an idea. Take care that you do not put up any irrelevant and outdated pictures on your website. <

Color combination of a website is very important. Choose the color to be used in your ecommerce web site design only after a very careful consideration. Colors in an ecommerce site must not be garish and at the same time must not be too dull, so that it does not even invoke any response from visitors to your site. Choose a color pattern which is appealing to the eye, but at the same time refrain from going over the top.

The navigability and the functionality of ecommerce web site design are of big importance. Your site may be the best visually looking site ever made, but if it does not have proper functionality and navigability, no one is even going to give your site a second glance. No visitor is going to wait and search for information in your site if it is not properly navigable and functional.

Take care of the contents in your ecommerce web site design. Good and relevant content is a great means of bringing visitors to your site. Check out for yourself and see if the content in your site is relevant of not. Also see if all the links are properly placed or not and whether visitors are immediately transferred to the page that has the relevant information for their query.

Make your best effort in satisfying the visitor to your site. Consider yourself as a visitor to a site and think what all things you would want to see in a site. Users are the king in determining if a website will work or not. Take care of the user and try to satisfy his or her needs in your ecommerce web site design.

Coping Under Pressure

The phone is constantly engaged. The taxi ignores you. Your train is late. Why do minor hassles like these have the potential to make us uptight? Maybe it's because we're tightly wound already and can't find the pressure relief valve. Balancing the pressures of home life and work life are vital so that we get optimum amounts of the adrenaline buzz to stay healthy and enjoy the whole life! So here are the top ten tips for when the going gets tough:

1. If you only have a hammer you will tend to see everything as a nail. Learn new techniques to deal with your workload, and life's pressures.

2. Work out what is actually inside or outside your control. And don't tell yourself "I cannot deal with this" when you mean "I will not deal with this".

3. Stop driving yourself with inner messages that say "I must please" or "I must hurry up" or "I must be perfect" or "I must be strong". Instead, ask yourself "What's the worst that can happen?"

4. Learn when to say "no" and when to say "yes". Be consistent so that people know where they stand with you.

5. Focus and lock in to one thing at a time. Take jobs in order and plan ahead. You will soon find that instead of doing five things at the same time, or everything at the last minute, you can get them all done at a relaxed pace and still achieve deadlines.

6. Find the light at the end of the tunnel. We can more happily accept a 14 hour working day, screaming children, or a nagging boss if we know when the end will be! Talk to people; share your situation; and find out what the possibilities are. Then act on them.

7. Being bored or under-used is also very stressful so make sure you're doing things that give you a buzz, to keep you on top of the performance curve.

8. Reserve "me" time (e.g. sport, hobbies, long bubble baths, light reading) as well as time for all the other roles in your life (e.g. spouse, parent, mentor, lover).

9. Stomp round the block! Exercise is a great way to use up excess adrenaline; it keeps you in condition; and can be a source of thinking time.

10. Have a laugh! Laughter is such a great way to relieve pressure, so find more ways to enjoy yourself with the people who make you feel great!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Op-Ed Piece

Op-ed articles, also known as opinion/editorial articles, are a great way for aspiring writers to publicize their work and, in exchange, receive an amazing amount of publicity for free. You can write an op-ed piece and get it publicized provided you follow these simple rules.

Before you begin to write, you need to target which newspaper you would like your article to appear in. You stand a greater chance of getting into your local paper than in a national publication like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, or USA Today. Still, if one of the national publications appeals to you, then give it a try.

1. Follow the rules. Every newspaper has guidelines on what their specific requirements are. Familiarize yourself with these guidelines and stringently hold yourself to their requirements. Failure to do so will mean you will be rejected.

2. Write with precision. Newspapers do not like verbose writers, unless it is for a feature piece and it is for a high end publication, such as The Washington Post. Short, crisp, and to-the-point sentences are the order of the day.

3. Write with persuasion. Whatever your point of view, write persuasively. Do not muddy the waters by giving vague answers. If you are discussing a problem, count on offering the solution. Expect that your article may occupy one half of the op-ed page; the other half may feature a rebuttal or an opposite point of view.

4. Double space. As with any submitted writing, you must double space your text. Expect the editors to work their magic on your piece, including removing entire paragraphs to make everything fit.

5. Submit a cover letter. Yes, you more than likely will have to snail mail your letter, so send it off with a cover letter to the appropriate contact person.

6. Your contact information. Your name, address, city, state, country, zip, contact numbers, and email address are all needed. More than likely none of this will be included in the piece, but they do need a way to get back to you.

7. Resource box. Unlike ezine sites where you can write a lengthy discourse on who you are and have links to your site, it is likely that only a one or two word sentence about "who you are" will be included. So, consider writing your own resource box and hope that they like it. [You can count on it being changed if they do not.] It could be written something like this:
John Doe is a Detroit based freelance writer affiliated with Writer's Write.
Yes, that may be about all the information they want to share about you with their readers.

More than likely you will know within two weeks time if your piece will get published. Some papers will contact you to let you know if you have been approved/rejected, while others will simply publish your article. Do not hound them as you may want to become a regular contributor.

What is the next step?

1. If you are approved, you can expect letters to the editor -- from readers -- in response to your piece to begin appearing in subsequent editions of the newspaper. Do not be surprised if letters begin arriving in your home or place of business too. Expect phone calls from people who may want to discuss your point of view further, or invite you to speak in front of their group, etc.

2. If you are rejected, consider modifying and resubmitting your piece or forwarding it to another publication. Accept criticism about your writing style, if offered.

3. Op ed pieces are sometimes picked up by syndicators such as Reuters or Google News; your piece can have a life well beyond the local newspaper. If you hit the national press, you can count on your article having widespread coverage. Do a search on Google a few days after publication and you may discover how wide a net your piece has cast. If that is the case, good for you!

Above all, op-ed article can help shape local or national opinion, so think of the greater good you can do as well as the publicity you just may receive when crafting your article. Although newspaper circulation continues to drop, online versions of these same newspapers continue to grow, thereby giving you exposure far beyond the intended market.

Empower Your Trainees

One of the most memorable quotes that I heard from a trainer came from a man I knew named Rizal:

"As trainees, you are supposed to interrupt me if you don't understand something. You are supposed to ask questions. But you are not to go ahead of where we are in the class. All of the sections will be covered in due time."

As a trainee, I could not have agreed more with Rizal. He made an impact on me. He was one of the best trainers I have ever known. What made him a great trainer was that he loved his career. (Notice I didn't say job.) I knew he viewed his classroom as more than just a place to go to work everyday.

As a trainer, what are YOU doing to enhance the spirit of your trainees?

One great tactic that worked for me happened when I was a restaurant manager. When I would train employees, I would purposely ask them questions that were contradictory. For example, I would ask, "This order is to go, right?" When the trainees answered yes or no, I always asked them why they gave their answer. I wanted them to discover for themselves what should and should not be.

The tactic worked because they learned to rely and trust their own reasoning. Their productivity rose as a result. They were empowered to decide what actions needed to be done, and they took the necessary steps that generated results.

Are you letting your trainees know that you are open to ALL questions? Are you asking yourself what you need to do to ask great questions? Are you wondering how you can get your trainees to be comfortable with you so they can get the most of their training

Here's Some Steps To Show You How:

1. Be up front with your trainees. Let them know that there is NO such thing as a dumb question and that the ONLY stupid questions are the ones not asked.

2. Tell them that they can discuss questions offline if they are not comfortable asking a question in front of others.

3. If someone asks a great question, acknowledge him or her right away.

4. If a trainee asks a question which emits discontent among other trainees, let the classroom know that they are in class to learn and that even the most seemingly silly question could help reinforce answers to other questions. Remind them that no one knows everything, and the moment they stop learning, is the moment they stop growing.

Great trainers are great because they listen. They know that the material they are teaching is new to each person in the room, and they take their time making sure that every person understands it. They have patience and persistence. They are grateful for being able to make a difference in the lives of the people they train. Inside of you is the same greatness. Use it to empower your trainees. 

Creativity and Rebellion: Why They Go Hand-in-Hand

Studies on creative people have consistently demonstrated that creativity is associated with openness to new ideas, risk-taking, and being inner-directed. Do these traits put creative people at odds with the culture and people around them? The answer is sometimes yes and sometimes no.

Say for example that Jeremy is a creative child that performs below average in school. He may be seen as a poor student by teachers and parents for "daydreaming" and doing poorly on objective tests. His latent skills as a right- brain thinker might be underappreciated and underdeveloped.

Or consider the case of Alycia, a high school teacher who works in a constrictive environment. She is eager to try new teaching techniques but finds that her colleagues are traditional in their approach and even hostile to her ideas. What can she do?

There is little doubt that creative people will struggle in environments that are overly structured and they will feel frustrated with tasks that are not challenging. This helps explain why creative children often have trouble in school, their right-brain minds wandering while their left-brain teachers are trying to force them to memorize information that these creative children instinctively see as irrelevant or trivial to understanding the "big picture" in life.
Things often get worse for creative people when they enter the workforce. If they haven't chosen their occupation carefully they may wind up in a job that is not well suited for their particular talents and gifts. Unfortunately, they may find this out the hard way by being bored and frustrated at work.

But the job itself may not be the problem. It may also be the social milieu of the workplace. Every workplace has its own personality which organically evolves and changes over time. Some workplaces value new ideas and risk- taking, an environment that will be very stimulating for a creative, risk-taker. Other environments are rigid and traditional, which will be frustrating and could lead to conflict and dissatisfaction.

Social psychologists have noted that some work groups suffer from groupthink, which is the tendency for some groups to feel superior to others and to downplay any evidence to the contrary. These groups value conformity and resist new ideas. An innovator will feel isolated and rejected by co- workers who support this type of environment.

These co-workers often adopt an unspoken code regarding people who are different or stand out from the crowd. They send overt and covert messages of rejection to a creative co-worker who proposes new ideas. These signals include ignoring a person's comments or providing perfunctory, hollow praise or worse punishments such as threats and ridicule for proposing ideas that threaten the perceived integrity of the group.

Many people at work become comfortable with their daily routines and over time they defend these routines as something akin to being sacred. These kinds of people often bow to the timeworn expression: "If it ain't broken, don't fix it," but they over apply this attitude and to them nothing is ever really "broken" and to suggest otherwise is to threaten the comfort of their work routines. These people might respond in a venomous manner to creative and risk-taking co-workers who threaten their "comfort zone" by proposing new ways of doing things.

All of this suggests that creative people will often be at odds with people around them and frustrated by work environments and organizational structures that are rigid and unbending. This is partially due to the fact that creative people are attracted to novelty and new ideas and ways of doing things, and their creative minds are often generating alternatives to accepted practices.

Creative Solutions

For the most creative solutions you need to get your mind looking in new directions. One of the most systematic ways to do this, is with a list of words, primarily adjectives, to create "what if?" scenarios. The process starts with the question, "what if it was..." and then you insert a word from the list. "It" in the question is the problem you're working on, or the current solution or situation.

Let's explain the process with an example or two.

Example one: You have is an unpleasant co-worker. You aren't sure how to deal with him, so you ask about the problem, "What if it was..." and insert from the list "smaller." How could you make the problem smaller? Spend less time with that person? Get reassigned?

"What if it was... fun?" makes you wonder if being annoying yourself might keep the other person away from you. "Closer" makes you wonder if this person might be nicer to you if they knew you better. You continue down the list and work with each word a bit to get new ideas, which you will look at more analytically later.

Example two: Your house is too crowded because you're running your business from it. You ask, "What if it was..." and insert from the word list, "smaller." Your house is already too small, but could the business be smaller? The word "divided" might give you the idea to keep the business in just one part of the house
Since most words on the list won't help, you can go through the irrelevant ones quickly. But don't automatically dismiss them without a few seconds consideration. "What if it was hopeless?" may seem like a useless question, or it may make you realize that you just can't keep the business in the house any longer. Moving into a rented office might be the most profitable of your creative solutions.

The Creative Solutions Word List

Feel free to create your own list of words. You'll want to use adjectives, descriptive phrases, and any words that can change your perspective. Here is a short list to get you started:

What if it was... larger, smaller, farther away, closer, sooner, later, easier, more difficult, higher, fat, rich, short, black, certain, hopeless, newer, boring, casual, subtracted from, cheaper, common, divided, more interesting, extravagant, subtle, or fun?

Just as with most problem solving techniques, it's important to allow the ideas to flow without judging them initially. You don't want to stifle the creative process. Take notes, then evaluate your ideas later, when you have a page full of creative solutions.