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5 Must-Have Resources for Anyone Looking to Make Money Online


Here’s a quintet of books, courses and other content that will unlock the secrets to leveling up.

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4 min read

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As a , I love building and creating. With businesses varying from agencies to SaaS and everything in between, I enjoy focusing on the tech space. I also love figuring out how to make my generate even more money. Once you learn how to do it, it becomes the greatest game you can play. 

In this quest for diversification and accumulation, I have become mildly obsessed with creating and selling courses geared towards teaching others how they can disrupt the online world in their own way (while making money the entire time). My first course, “How to Build a Million Dollar Website in 60 Minutes with No Code” (not to be confused with my latest book, The New Rich) has been an awesome foray, but I have also found other great resources by various entrepreneurs and business owners across the world focused on how to make money online. 

Here are my top five must-have resource picks for anyone looking to make money online that I’ve personally undertaken or read. 

Related: 5 Books to Read Before Starting Your Business

1. “Reloaded Hustlers Field Manual” and five other relevant courses including “ Money” by Chris Johnson. I’m a big fan of how Chris approaches business. His courses are a no-bullshit guide on how to leverage the , find the right products, build community, sell online, price correctly for the most profit, create an email , build an online store and more. Highly recommended for anyone who wants a practical guide on how to make money online. 

2. “How to Buy, Grow, and Sell Small Companies” by Ryan Kulp. This online course is all about walking you step-by-step through the extensive process of business acquisition. With six incredibly detailed modules and more than $3,000 worth of bonus content in contract templates, this is a great resource for anyone looking to acquire a business for the first time. 

3. “Monthly 1k” by King Sumo himself, . “Monthly 1k” is an online course with action-based steps and community accountability, and it’s a perfect resource for those driven to turn ideas into business plans. Throughout the course, you will learn exactly what you need to focus on in order to make a business idea reality — and hit that 1K-a-month goal. 

4. “No Code MVP” by Bram Kanstein. For those who don’t learn well by sifting through thousands of words of text, this video course is ideal. Not only is it packed with tons of practical lessons, but it allows budding entrepreneurs to learn all the mindset, tools and processes they’ll need to turn target customers into paying customers (without any necessity to learn code).

5. Make — Bootstrapper’s Handbook by Pieter Levels. This online handbook is for those who like to do things on their own terms. The “make” book is filled with continuously updated information on how to start small and grow big, including the best tools, processes, systems and ways to grow your projects. The indie hacker and solopreneur crowds comfortable with rolling up their sleeves to get down and dirty on their startup will have met their match with this ebook packed full of useful tips and tools.

Related: 19 Books to Read to Be Successful in 2019

While there are plenty of resources (both free and paid) to find on the internet, when you stumble on the right course, book or app for you, finding your niche in the online money-making world can becpme simple. It is important to note that there is absolutely no cure-all for getting money without work, and if you are falling for resources that tout as much, you’re running down a scamming path. 

The savviest entrepreneurs are the ones who are constantly learnin, being coached and taking courses. Using the resources I’ve named above is a great start to realizing just how far you can take your ideas, startups, and it’s another essential path to acquiring monetizable skills. 



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How to Navigate the Volatile Business-Funding Environment


Tips for getting the loans and investments you need as the economy reopens.

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Debt is extremely cheap nowadays. The and are injecting trillions of dollars into the U.S. , which means entrepreneurs can access loans at historically low rates. (In March, the Fed cut interest rates to zero.) And I don’t know what you’ve heard, but angels and VCs are still active. 

Moreover, the $2.2 trillion stimulus package signed into law on March 27 is extraordinary legislation that attempts to avert another Great Depression. (The 1930s crisis saw 25 percent .) Last month, nearly 10 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits, and that’s after millions more were turned away by clogged application systems.

Because of the huge expansion of the supply, companies have financing options at a time when some economists say the jobless rate could soon approach 20 percent. Former Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen recently said unemployment is now at least 13 percent and that gross domestic product (GDP) will decrease by 30 percent.

Related: Tech Entrepreneurs and Mentors Help Students Join Tomorrow’s Workforce

Washington’s intervention to spark a weakening economy, 70 percent of which is driven by consumer spending, includes $500 billion in loans to businesses and local governments. Businesses can get a tax up to $5,000 per idle worker for keeping him/her on the payroll during the pandemic. 

There’s extra funding if your business belongs to a hard-hit industry. For example, healthcare firms will be awarded $100 billion in grants, while airlines will get $58 billion in loans and grants. Finally, employers and self-employed individuals can defer the 6.2 percent tax on wages that fund Social Security. 

More help could arrive as Trump is pushing Congress to cut the payroll tax for companies and employees. Even though I’m of the mindset that you should sell and build to increase revenue, I still know there’s value in getting the support that you need. Here are tips for business owners who are seeking funding during the lockdown.

Use idle time to research government loans

More liquidity means record-low interest rates. can use cheap debt to pay bills, employ Americans and keep doors open. You may have a great product or service, but still go bankrupt for lack of cash. When taking out government loans, like Economic Injury Disaster Loans, it helps to be organized.

Felix Polanski, a partner at the banking platform CreditPilot, recently explained in an email interview that entrepreneurs should research loans aimed specifically for small- and medium-sized enterprises, elaborating that, “Most small businesses don’t have enough liquid reserves on hand to handle even two weeks of expenses. It’s imperative to leverage loans like the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program so that owners can get cash as soon as possible.” (The SBA program gives incentives to businesses to keep workers on their payroll.)

To see all options and expedite the borrowing process, you may want to call the bank where there’s an existing line of credit. “Do your homework because there are numerous options,” says Polanski, whose Cyprus-based venture works with mobile network operators (MNOs) who then provide mobile banking services to subscribers. “If you go with the option of turning a loan into a grant, make sure you can meet the requirements. And if you use payroll services like Gusto, info can be collected very fast.” He also adds to submit all paperwork as soon as possible.

“Entrepreneurs should be wary of big banks that offer credit products,” says Zon Chu, CEO of Constant, a peer-to-peer lending platform. “Traditional financial institutions have grown inefficient and greedy. They lend depositors’ money for interest, but keep most of the profits. And they charge high fees when selling complex products that confuse rather than inform borrowers.”

Related: 10 OG Prison Tips to Get Your Mind, Body and Soul Right During Quarantine

There are other ways to increase working capital without a bank loan. According to attorney Mat Sorenson, the stimulus “increases the dollar amount you can loan yourself from your own 401(k) … and also creates a penalty-free early distribution rule whereby IRA or 401(k) account owners … can take a penalty-free retirement account distribution.”

The $2.2 trillion in stimulus money and the Fed’s quantitative easing are designed to increase employment. Business owners have access to cheap cash in today’s challenging environment. The bottom line is the bottom line –– get money. 

 



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Why 2020 IS The Year for Healthy-Alternative Startups



6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


More than any other time in history, consumers have become cognizant of what they put into their bodies, and the demand for products that shake up the status quo continues to expand. People are voting with their dollars in greater numbers than ever, and products marketed as sustainable are gaining momentum.

The expanding interest in improving personal wellness and the environment through -conscious, eco-friendly and organic purchases is driving consumer markets in a whole new direction, giving rise to companies that provide something completely different for their customers.

Why are healthy alternatives gaining traction?

These days, more consumers are leaning toward a plant-focused lifestyle, and their product choices represent a desire for greener agricultural practices.

Seventy-three percent of consumers say they would be willing to accept higher prices for a brand that is transparent, which presents major challenges for and big corporations that already have ingrained processes in place. It is a boon, however, for companies investing in a more socially conscious approach to their .

, for example, has seen a great deal of company growth in response to its Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, which put its agenda to reduce environmental impact and improve social influence front and center. The 26 brands that are part of the plan contributed 70 percent of the company’s revenue growth in 2018.

Data shows that brands providing peace of mind about a product’s origins and health benefits inspire loyalty, and that people are more likely to switch labels when they offer greater transparency. Here are a few other brands and trends that underscore the movement. 

Related: 10 OG Prison Tips to Get Your Mind, Body and Soul Right During Quarantine

Despite the well-established fact that prolonged tobacco use can lead to myriad illnesses, including fatal mouth, throat and respiratory cancers, the global industry is expected to reach $1.08 trillion by 2027. While nicotine alone has not been found to cause cancer, it is highly addictive. That addiction may be the culprit of continued tobacco use in spite of known risks.

I recently enjoyed a conversation on my podcast with the co-founder of Black Buffalo, which is a smokeless tobacco alternative that provides an answer for people who love their dip but don’t want to consume the actual plant itself. (My podcast is hosted on the Entrepreneur platform here, where you can catch this episode.) During the chat, I learned about the unique opportunity for a tobacco alternative that isn’t just about the nicotine (though the company uses the same amount of pharmaceutical-grade nicotine you would find in a standard tin of chewing tobacco). It’s about the taste, the feel and, most importantly, the ritual.

That’s why the team spent years developing a dip without tobacco leaf or stem that is so close to the authentic product that even tobacco farmers themselves can’t tell the difference. They respect the time-honored traditions of this American ritual, and they have created a smokeless tobacco alternative that their customers love. With the CBD and cannabis spaces reaching peak consumer levels, I envision we’re going to start seeing a lot more of these tobaccoless consumer alternatives. 

The Rise of 100-Calorie Beer

For some people, there’s nothing more enjoyable than cracking open a cold one after a long day in the hot sun or joining a group of friends for a couple of brews on Friday night. But brewers have always struggled with the balance between better flavor and lower calories (hence the famous Miller Lite slogan, “Tastes Great, Less Filling”).

Recently, however, innovative brewing techniques have led to an onslaught of new kinds of beers that are taking off, as reported by The Takeout. Out of the top 25 brands that saw growth in 2019, 10 boasted healthier options like fewer calories or lower carbs.

DogFish Head Brewery has begun rolling out its “active lifestyle” brands with huge success, and alcoholic seltzers are on the rise. Independent craft breweries are jumping on the lo-cal wagon as well, with a well-rounded selection of light ales and IPAs that will satisfy beer drinkers of every caliber. I can see this space continuing to heat up, including the rise of low-calorie IPAs. 

Glossier’s Unicorn Success

We certainly have come a long way since putting lead and arsenic into on purpose; but unfortunately, lead still makes its way into lipsticks and eyeliners in trace amounts.

The lack of regulation in the cosmetic industry results in the intentional and incidental use of other known toxins and carcinogens like formaldehyde, asbestos and phthalates. Add to this the fact that animal testing is still a widespread practice for many beauty and skincare lines, and it’s enough to make any consumer want to stick with brands that are completely transparent.

Glossier’s founder, Emily Weiss, wanted to provide just that when she launched the company in 2014 with four products. The company’s direct-to-consumer model means that customer relationships are the most important aspect of the business. The company is forthright about its product ingredients, focused on and certified as cruelty-free.

“Democratizing beauty” has paid off immensely for Glossier. By 2018, the company was valued at more than $1 billion and bringing in $100 million in annual revenue. It is one of the most well-funded privately held businesses in the beauty industry, and Weiss has been hinting at an IPO in the future. The beauty industry is notorious for poor environmental practices, and any product that uses cruelty-free sustainable ingredients will carve out a competitive advantage. 

New Business Opportunities on the Horizon

Consumers are making it abundantly clear that they prefer products they know they can trust. They will spend more money on a brand that is transparent with its agricultural and supply chain practices; they are concerned about environmental and social causes, and they want brands that provide pleasurable experiences while keeping health and wellness in mind.

While large companies like Unilever are finding new ways to grow by providing a line of products that take these needs into account, smaller businesses are well-positioned to slide in and start connecting with customers right where they are.

Independent craft brewers are filling that space with beer-drinkers who want to be social and stay healthy. Glossier’s direct-to-consumer business model is creating products based on needs identified through direct communication with customers. And Black Buffalo has found a way to help people get all the things they are looking for in their tobacco products, without the tobacco or its cancer-causing chemicals.

Related: The Best CBD Oils for Stressed-Out Entrepreneurs

This is an exciting time for consumer marketing. It will be interesting to see how established businesses adapt to an informed generation of consumers, and how new businesses will shape the market when they are designed to serve customers that demand something better.



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Tech Entrepreneurs and Mentors Help Students Join Tomorrow’s Workforce



5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


With most of America’s 76 million students currently being homeschooled, this gives the nation’s school systems an opportunity to improve decades-old practices. I’m always seeking the silver lining in things, and in my opinion, this is a great use of time and energy during shutdowns. 

Kids have access to many apps and platforms, but school districts, teachers unions and colleges have been resistant to change. Mentors give students a perspective outside of the traditional system, as well as offer a glimpse of what things are like in the real world. Such is valuable in fields like business, technology and sciences, where there are many insights to be learned not found in textbooks. 

Mentoring also helps future graduates to join an evolving U.S. in which 52 percent of workers will be gig workers by 2023, according to a 2018 study by MBO Partners. The practice is effective in the corporate world, too: CNBC reported that 91 percent of workers who have mentors are satisfied in their jobs. Here’s how mentors help mentees join tomorrow’s workforce.

Related: 5 Reasons Why Every Entrepreneur Needs a Great Mentor

Forward thinkers view education as a service, not a brick-and-mortar location. U.S. STEM education needs a major overhaul after ranking 38th in math and 24th in science out of 71 developed countries in 2015. That’s after significantly outspending Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development () countries; America spends $12,800 per student on elementary and education (compared to $9,500 for OECD countries) and $30,000 per student at the post-secondary level (compared to $16,100 for OECD).

Great mentors provide a perspective on professional trends, the global economy and post-secondary education, whereas relying solely on teachers and guidance counselors could limit one’s perspective.

Tech entrepreneurship programs for kids like Alex Hodara’s Rocket Club and Elon Musk’s Ad Astra School are changing the STEM landscape by teaching and gamifying entrepreneurship, engineering, networking and other professional skills. New York-area Rocket Club also features a program of successful entrepreneurs including Mr. Wonderful, Marcus Lemoni and Chris Zarou, founder of Visionary Music and a Forbes “30 Under 30” honoree. 

Mentors like Chris advise Rocket Club’s 7-14-year-old members throughout the launch of their first businesses while teaching members business lessons not found in textbooks. “Our members are learning the art of entrepreneurship during a time of their lives when they have so few limiting beliefs,” says Alex Hodara, founder of Rocket Club. “Being able to discuss their business model, branding, income statement, etc. with mentors like Chris is something that I wish I was able to do when I was a kid.”

Each day, students participate in Rocket Club Live, where they engage in engineering and entrepreneurship trivia, ask questions to industry leaders and interact with like-minded peers.

Aside from offering sound advice, a good mentor often holds a mentee accountable in a way that others can’t. That’s partly because mentees typically share their professional objectives, and therefore have an objective third party who reminds them of challenges and milestones ahead. A good mentor discourages a protege from getting distracted or discouraged and provides a morale boost when school, or life in general, gets tough. In high school and elementary, too many kids fall through the cracks simply by not having an emotional support system.

Learning From Subject Matter Experts

Another trend is bringing subject matter experts into virtual classrooms and training programs. A longstanding criticism of traditional education is its emphasis on passive reading of outdated texts. Students are graduating into a competitive marketplace that demands updated skills in fields like programming, digital marketing, blockchain, artificial intelligence and robotics. 

When education is viewed as a service, there’s a premium placed on curated content, not brick-and-mortar classrooms. It’s expert content and practical skills that give future job applicants an opportunity to find high-paying employment.

Affiliate Institute (Ai) is an online source for anyone who wants to start an affiliate marketing venture. Founder Mathieu Jang provides instruction on “what works now” and only brings in the best marketing experts. He views traditional education as offering outdated or irrelevant content. “Affiliate Institute has helped earn over $100 million for the businesses our students work with,” says Jang, whose intensive 12-week Accelerator Program helps students to optimize their affiliate marketing operations. Students of all age groups receive a certificate that gives them the option of finding employment after completing the course.

Related: The Secret to Finding a Great Mentor — Don’t Ask to Be Mentored

One of my favorite Confucius quotes goes like this, “I hear and I forget … I do and I understand.” Mentors give students an edge when it comes to navigating their educational and professional careers. I’m also a huge believer in learning by practical application, and this mentor-experience movement is a perfect example of that.



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10 OG Prison Tips to Get Your Mind, Body and Soul Right During Quarantine



8 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Yes, we’ve all heard it: “Quarantine feels like a prison!” Well, I’m here to help you debunk that myth. There are myriad reasons why it’s not even close, but here are just a few that stand out: I’m assuming there are no prison riots in your home; you don’t have to worry about getting shanked while you sleep; you don’t have house correctional officers raiding your bedroom looking for contraband; you can use the bathroom at your leisure (what an amazing luxury); and most of you probably have cold, clean drinking water. I can go on, from food not made for human consumption to no daylight to shackles on your feet and hands when moving units.

So, while quarantine can totally suck, you’re still not quite in prison. Plus, there are a million ways to use your time wisely while dealing with the lockdown. And, please don’t let my sarcasm take away from my empathy towards the current situation though. No matter the scenario, nobody wants to stay locked up in a confined space all day every day. I feel you on that. 

You’re probably wondering: Well, what makes you an expert? “Well, Jim,” as a young man, I went to prison and was institutionalized more times than I like to admit and have learned these invaluable life and business lessons by intimately experiencing the great challenges of life in lockup. Yes, yay me! You can read more about my life story on my website. I also wrote a comedy book about prison called Don’t Drop the Soap that shares some life hacks, workout and even food recipes. Go check it out if you want a good read during quarantine. 

Related: Managing Your Company Culture Virtually

In prison, inmates focus daily on something they refer to as their “program,” which is essentially their daily routine. It is the backbone of a successful prison term, because it keeps you focused and active. Most inmates live and die by their program, and as a freshly minted quarantine-ee, I recommend you do the same. 

Here are my 10 OG quarantine tips.

1. Learn a new skill

While I was in prison, I taught myself how to build websites using my #2 pencil, textbooks and a notepad, so I don’t want to hear your excuses. (I even have a course you can take.) This is a great time to learn a new skill to make a bunch of money, expand your mental capacity or to make the best use of your time. 

2. Read daily

Over the course of two years in prison, I read well over 300 books. Reading keeps your mind sharp, expands your imagination and improves your vernacular. Even fiction has its place, especially in a confined space. What are you reading currently? I’d love to hear. Send me your list on Twitter @andrewmedal

3. Write daily

As entrepreneurs and leaders, we must always strive to be the best communicators and learn how to clearly articulate our messages and words. In prison, your written word becomes your voice on the outside while being cut off from other communication means (like in-person communication, emails, calls, texts, etc.). Writing daily in prison had a profound effect on how much stronger I communicated, in all areas of my life, upon my release. If you don’t know what to write, keep a daily journal of your thoughts, ideas and feelings. Start writing and set dedicated time aside each day. 

4. Work out daily

You don’t have weights? Who cares! Body-weighted workouts can destroy you and get you super-ripped. Plus, the dopamine and discipline you’ll reap from working out far outweigh the physical benefits, especially as an entrepreneur. 

5. Connect with your higher power

Harvard research studies of meditation have shown benefits against an array of physical and mental conditions, including anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. The most “woke” people I’ve personally ever met in my life are inmates doing life in prison, most of whom have dedicated their life to daily meditation or some form of spiritual connection. There’s something about captivity that reminds you how insignificant the human species is and how there must be more to life. It is also the secret formula for living with empathy and looking outside of yourself, which is much needed in our modern society. 

6. Get a side hustle

The underlying fabric of the inmate prison system sits atop an unbreakable entrepreneurial foundation. Every single inmate in prison has a hustle. That hustle can be the yard’s tattoo artist, the laundry guy, the sports bookie, the yard chef and a million others both legal and not so legal (I mean, it is a prison, so what do you expect?). Side hustles on the outside are all the rave, and this is the perfect time to do it. The quickest way to create a side hustle is to monetize your skills and hobbies. For example, if you like to write in your downtime, create a content agency, or if you have a passion for baking, start selling your baked goods to friends and neighbors. A side hobby can net you an extra couple of bucks per month, and everyone loves extra money. I share tons of side hobby ideas on my Instagram account, so go connect with me there @andrewmedal

7. Find a new hobby

The prison yard is full of hobbies, from drawing to working out, chess, reading, handball and playing cards 24-7. Inmates are unfortunately forced to pass the time, but it becomes a nice way to escape their current circumstances. This is a great way for you to do the same. One of mine and my wife’s new favorite hobby is playing cards after dinner once we put our newborn baby girl down for bed. We’ll even throw in a little bit of cash in the pot for bragging rights. This new hobby has been something we look forward to all day and provides a fun way to escape and bond. 

8. Learn a new language 

If you’re looking to improve your memory, your decision-making ability and overall cognitive health, you better dust off that ‘ol Espanol dos libro and get to studying. Prison language is a dialect unto its own, and as a fresh fish, if you want to survive without getting gutted, you better learn how to communicate with the other inmates fast. I previously wrote a useful article titled “13 Prison Slang Terms You Should Use with Co-Workers” for anyone wanting to learn some handy prison slang. And instead of using with coworkers, you can use it with your quarantine mates and on Zoom calls.  

9. Share stories

Sharing stories in prison is almost a rite of passage. Inmates gather around the yard sharing their most epic stories from the streets. Sharing stories is an amazing way to entertain, teach, and learn about one another. As a species, our culture has been built on storytelling and this is an incredibly useful skill to build as an entrepreneur. Storytelling can help you raise capital, gain new customers, and create brand loyalty. We live in the attention economy and there’s no better way to gain an audience’s attention than through a good story. 

10. Program. 

I spoke briefly about what programming in prison above and how it becomes the lifeline for every inmate and how they manage their day. Creating a consistent schedule and routine becomes the most effective way to do time. Programming teaches discipline, provides structure and is a super-useful productivity hack. I’ve applied programming to my life as an entrepreneur and have reaped massive benefits in my ROI of time and energy. During quarantine, it can become too easy to just forget your normal routine and let the day run away. 

Related: Use These 3 Strategies to Embrace Hope and Eliminate Fear

For fun, here’s also a quick hit list of things to avoid during a lockdown: uncontrollable gambling, drugs, treating quarantine like it’s an extended spring break and excessive TV binging. Some of these vices are how inmates get into a wreck while doing their time, and you may as well learn from them what not to do too. Make the best of your quarantine time and come out of lockdown smarter, more jacked and with a side hustle. Then, you too can have that “slammer swagger.” Stay safe!





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The Best CBD Oils for Stressed-Out Entrepreneurs



6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


I was born in the ’80s and was a teenager in the late ’90s and early 2000s, and it still boggles my mind that weed is legal in most states. Back in the day, I had a pager and was one of those young knuckleheads running around selling it illegally, so I am still in awe that people can go to dispensaries and get weed delivered, seeing as how I had been arrested for doing that in the past.

Speaking of lockup, quarantine has encouraged people to turn to vices like excessive drinking and eating more. We’re at a stage where a lot of that behavior is starting to catch up with us, but whether it’s dieting, replacing drinking with calming tea, or going on a tolerance break, there are plenty of ways to start reckoning with bad habits. One popular trend worth implementing into your routine right now is CBD, which I recently started using off and on at night to help recover from my crazy workouts. In doing so, I did a ton of research to figure out what brands were best, and which products I liked most. My article comes from this research and the dozens I tried. 

Whether you’ve used CBD before or not, this might be the year you start exploring how its potential could benefit you. That’s why I’ve put together this shortlist of top CBD oils to consider, based on quality and taste.

Related: 4 Smart Ways to Choose the Best CBD Product for You

Verma Farms

This past year, Verma Farms crept up into the national limelight for its CBD offerings, winning over noteworthy critics and fans across the board. I actually sat down with the owner on my Entrepreneur podcast recently to discuss the brand (listen to previous episodes here). Verma came recommended by a bunch of my founder and entrepreneur peers, and I’ve seen them around on various media outlets, so it wasn’t a completely new brand to me. Although oil was their first product, the latest iteration they’ve upgraded to is a runaway hit, complete with an array of flavors that any and everyone could get down with. Along with popular choices like Mint, Natural, and Lemon-Lime, they’ve also included Strawberry, Watermelon, Pineapple, Mango and Peach, adding in one of the better fruit varieties we’ve seen on the market. Since most fruit flavors contain an overwhelming amount of sweetness to them, Verma Farms avoids that with a rounder, more robust flavor profile. And considering they’re made with organic, all-natural ingredients, you don’t want to skimp on what’s pure about the oil overall.

Premium Jane

I first heard of Premium Jane from a friend who does CrossFit. The thing I like most about them is how much they offer a premiere experience at honest, entry-level pricing, with their CBD oil only adding to that reputation. With dosages ranging from 300 mg to 1,000 mg, Premium Jane’s flavors include Citrus, Mint, Natural and Mint Chocolate, all of which boast great flavor without going overboard. Sourced from organic Oregon hemp, Premium Jane keeps it simple with their flavoring and ingredients, and you get everything you pay for, hands down.

Spruce

Spruce is a brand that doesn’t hold back on being catered towards the seasoned CBD user. Coming in with a 750 mg and 2,400 mg bottle, their Full Spectrum oil is a force to be reckoned with, dosing in at around 25 mg and 80 mg per dropper. An incredibly popular brand for how potent their all-natural, organic CBD oil is, this is a family run company that puts a lot of love into their product. If stepping up your experience level with CBD has been on the itinerary, then Spruce might be the perfect solution for brightening things up. 

CBDfx

One of the most popular names in the business, CBDfx definitely has its product lineup for CBD oil on lockdown. Offering a range of naturally-flavored tinctures from 500 to 1,500 mg, they additionally also offer Blueberry Pineapple Lemon, Lychee Lemon Kiwi and Lemon Lime Mint varieties. A favorite choice for an MCT Oil-based Full-Spectrum product, CBDfx is notorious for rapid absorption. Check them out if you’re looking for a brand that’s tried and true, making a pretty straightforward product for the price. 

Fab CBD

Another great company if you’re looking for an easy to use, straightforward line of CBD oils, Fab CBD focuses on selection. They offer Natural, Berry, Vanilla, Citrus and Mint flavorings, with all available in 300 mg to 2,400 mg. Sourcing organically from Colorado, this full-spectrum variety comes in at an affordable entry of $39, which is perfect for those who haven’t gotten that deep into CBD. My workout partner actually uses their product every night to help heal ease his muscle soreness. 

Medterra

One of the more forward brands when it comes to product advancement in products, Medterra is definitely more than meets the eye. While they offer flavoring for their broad-spectrum selection of tincture in either 1,000 mg or 2,000 mg, Medterra also impressively is getting set to launch a CBG + CBD tincture as well. To round out their oil inventory is an isolate that ranges from 500 to 3,000 mg in strength. Not trying to win you over by being excessively flashy, Medterra offers a straight-up great product that speaks for itself. And although their price point is slightly higher than some, it’s competitive for the quality in the end.

Rosebud

Rounding out my list is Rosebud, which offers three strengths from its artisanal line of CBD. All sized out in half or full ounces, it’s clear Rosebud is made by true cannabis fans, which is apparent in their wide range of pricing as well. Definitely a brand designed for the connoisseur, Rosebud doesn’t skimp on getting everyone in on the rotation, providing enough options for everyone to go around. 

Related: What Doulas Can Teach Us in Times of Anxiety and Chaos

Even though I don’t party like I did when I was younger, I’m pretty sure this list would make even Snoop and Tommy Chong happy, and will hopefully help you relax during the high tension of quarantine.



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10 Top Instagram Tools to Stand Out During Quarantine



7 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


There are two strategies you can pursue right now: 1. Retreat and play defense with all the uncertainty surrounding the economy and world, or 2. Go on the offense, control your ’s narrative and push more content. Personally, I’m choosing the offense. Increasing my posting and driving my brand forward is in my control, unlike a lot of other variables (like where my next stash of TP is going to come from). 

With COVID-19 keeping much of the country on lockdown, this is shaping up to be a year of -consumer overload, opening an opportunity for content creators and entrepreneurs to start engaging with their base a little more. I’ve been seeing lots of users hack out , especially on Instagram Live. This experience, while tragic and traumatic in many ways, has also doubled as a litmus test for brands and their social media strategy.

As a chance to start reassessing the Instagram tools you might be using and what can be improved, I’ve decided to pull together a set of 10 — each of which I’m currently using across my various businesses and brands — that can help you start planning and assessing how to grow your followers during this otherwise challenging period.

Related: Quarantined? Boost Your Social Proof With These 5 Strategies

ViralRace 

An excellent choice if you want to build your follower base quickly, ViralRace enables you to get your content in front of the people who would enjoy it most. The system allows people to send their profiles out to a wide group of people, and thousands of interested users then follow the account. The app is a custom AI engine that geo targets followers to get quality leads, which is what was compelling to me as a user. I’ll note that since it’s not utilizing a bot or fake followers from a farm, the build is quick, but built with genuine people that will stick with you. When you consider how often Instagram sweeps to get rid of fake followers and bots, a tool like ViralRace is an efficient, affordable way to garner more traction for the long haul, which I highly recommend to get a solid base going.

Figma

One of the most intuitive and inventive design tools to come out recently, Figma is giving a run for its money (especially since Figma starts its pricing out as free, versus Adobe, which only offers free trials). Beyond the pricing, Figma is a seamless collaborative-design platform that works in real time with your team on projects. It’s especially helpful if you’re working with a copywriter/graphic designer duo or have multiple hands on your Instagram’s design scheme. It’s not often I come across products that provide effective collaboration, and I always stick with them when I do.  

Later

From the team that brought you LinkInBio (a grid-formatted link for linking out content on Instagram posts), Later is one of my favorite products for planning and scheduling out your content for Instagram. Later has a clean and easy UI and delivers on analytics that are easy to understand. With competitive pricing that starts at free for individuals, Later is something you definitely shouldn’t put a hold on checking out.

VSCO

Considered by many to be one of the strongest visual communities out there, VSCO is where you need to go for any and all visual inspiration. As VSCO’s primary tool is their photo editor, they’ve had some skin in the game since Instagram’s early days, growing to be one of the biggest treasure troves of different styles and shots from some of the world’s best. Consistently going strong for almost a decade now, VSCO is a classic for any Instagram pro’s social-media arsenal.

Union Metrics

An alternative-analytics platform from Later, Union Metrics has a robust platform for tracking who’s been looking at your Instagram and which of your content they’ve been gravitating toward. Explaining data in a pretty straightforward way, Union Metrics can help you quite a bit in making informed decisions on what type of content you should be posting, as well as what time is the most advantageous. 

BuzzSumo

For all the talk about influencer-marketing campaigns, the best of them start with BuzzSumo. Giving you a deep dive into what each influencer’s follower count is like, average engagement and ranking for your Instagram, its platform helps quite a bit in getting the best ROI out of your influencer-marketing campaigns. Although a little pricier in that it’s designed for professional teams, it’s still a smart consideration if you’re really looking to ramp up your influencer marketing soon.

Why use TikTok, an Instagram competitor, as a tool for engaging on Instagram? The content format and editing are increasingly becoming the new norm in people’s Instagram Stories. More and more people are turning to TikTok to create short videos with a narrative (similar to a longer Vine), evolving a new medium of content that didn’t exist before. Even if your Instagram still has good engagement on its Stories, learning how to create content “TikTok style” will help you stay ahead of the curve while also enabling you to start building an audience on another platform.

Related: Facebook and Instagram to Limit Coronavirus Misinformation

Linktree

For a simple, linear tool to help organize, compile and track personal links, Linktree is the best in the business. Starting with unlimited links in its free version, it’s a perfect solution for anyone trying to collect their clickables in one place. Plus, in the advanced version, the tracking is especially helpful in the content you’re trying to A/B test your engagement on. I personally love the data and make changes based on what I see. For example, if one of my articles is getting more clicks, I put it higher on my Linktree feed. 

Landscape

A new tool introduced by SproutSocial, Landscape helps you resize any and all your photos into a convenient size for Instagram. Although many of us think cropping things down is an easy job, you’d be surprised how much content people prohibit themselves from capturing because they don’t think it’ll fit for Instagram, or they’ve taken a flick and it doesn’t fit. Instead, Landscape fixes that problem, changing behavior in helping more people create content freely. Plus, its quick click-and-drag system is one of the simplest, most convenient ways to get the job done better and faster than going through manually.

AR Filters 

Finally, a trend that doesn’t seem to be slowing down is AR filters, which enable people to do everything from taking quizzes to wear masks and even play games. The possibilities creators have been exploring with AR filters have been endless, cycling through with new interactive and engaging content almost every week. With the right idea, your AR filter could possibly go viral.

What’s your favorite Instagram tool you’ve been using recently and how has it shaped your process? Hit me on Instagram @andrewmedal, and let’s go on the offense during this crazy season.



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How to Automate Technology to Help Run Your Businesses



6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


We all could use a little extra help when it comes to running our businesses. Whether you have a , a virtual assistant or simply Assistant (still a contender), it can at times feel like a juggling ploy to keep up with all the moving pieces. Enter additional responsibilities and passion projects (such as speaking gigs, writing opportunities or launching new initiatives), and the pieces move faster and demand more attention, decreasing our productivity and contributing to our overall stress levels. 

What ends up happening is that potential leads and opportunities can slip through the cracks. How many times have you forgotten to respond to a potential client because they messaged you on , where you had 347 other unopened messages? Or, how many hours have you had to log into your weekly calendar to respond to emails?

Thankfully, we have that can help us. I’m in the of investing up front to automate said technology to work for me moving forward, so I don’t have to continue to commit chunks of my weekly schedule to run operations or delegating and then overseeing those delegations. It also helps that automation can eliminate a margin of human error, as reported by Towards Data Science. If you’ve ever been curious about how automated technology can play a role in your productivity, regardless of what type of business you run, here’s how to get started and test it out for yourself.

Related: Automation Is Becoming a Business Imperative

1. Determine what doesn’t require your mind power

The reason to rely on technology is simply that your mind power is precious, and ideally should be reserved for creativity and brain-powered productivity sessions. Even if you prefer to be in control, ask yourself, “What doesn’t need my mind power to operate efficiently?” Do a walk-through of your day, and you’ll likely find a number of tasks that eat up your time and don’t require your effort. And one of the most cited benefits of automation is its ability to save time.

Amiad Soto, co-founder & CEO of Guesty, a short-term property- platform for those with businesses on and other booking channels, mentioned in a virtual conference the other day (yes, that’s a thing now) that when it comes to running your own short-term rental business, “Many don’t realize just how much time the small, repetitive tasks of guest , staff scheduling, maintenance and updating calendars across booking channels can take. For entrepreneurs, this time is better spent elsewhere, such as marketing and growing their businesses. Automation tools in a business such as this — which can mean automated check-in instructions and requests for reviews post-stay, or editing a listing and having it uploaded to all major booking channels instantly — can save property managers/hosts a minimum of 50-plus hours per week. Relying on tech tools that enable you to avoid monotonous tasks also means being able to avoid hiring more staff, and rather rely on smart solutions as an extension of your in-house team sans another salary.”

Think about how much you could drive your business forward if you had technology at the helm of the automated tasks. That’s a lot of extra time for creation, strategy and working on the big projects.

2. Figure out how automated tech can enhance your client experience

Beyond what you can get off your own plane, automated technology can also go above and beyond to enhance your customer’s experience in a way you never thought through before. One example is response time. The Lead Response Management Survey found that “waiting even 30 minutes to reply to a potential customer’s inquiry can decrease your odds of qualifying the lead by 21 times.” Having an automated technology in place to respond within minutes — then to follow up without a response — is extra work that you likely never considered before. 

Automated technology like the chatbot can get a bad reputation, but done with thoughtful, human-centered copy, can actually dramatically increase your conversion rate. The possibilities for automated technology extend far beyond cleaning up your to-do list. And companies of all different sizes, as explained by Business News Daily, and value propositions are using it to add to their features in both simple and revolutionary ways. At the heart of it, automation enables companies to serve customers better than the business could before.

3. Test it out on a small scale first

To get started, it’s best to exercise it on a small scale to make sure you feel in control and that it works for you. Don’t begin by completely overhauling the typical way you do business, as this can lead to a big cleanup down the road. Slowly implement one new technology (or increase the scale of the technology’s tasks slowly) per week to make sure that you know what’s going on and can brief your team members. 

“It all comes down to the research, which requires a period of testing,” Kyn Chaturvedi, Chief Business Development Officer of Tomochain, told me in a recent email conversation. “Leaning on technology is one of the best productivity hacks that entrepreneurs can try, but they have to understand deeply how it will work within their own business and build the right infrastructure for it.” 

Related: 11 Ways to Automate Your Business and Boost Efficiency

Automated technology should by no means be adopted overnight, but it’s the first step in taking the load of the small tasks off our shoulders, so we can reserve our energy and creativity for efforts that really move the needle forward in our business. Businesses of all types and sizes are finding ways to make automated technology work for them, and productivity is increasing as a result. Try it for yourself, and see how it can improve your business’s ability to serve.



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8 Tips to Coronavirus-Proof Your Business ASAP


The pandemic is happening, but if you take the right steps, your company can get ahead of it.

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5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


It doesn’t matter whether or not you buy in to the media frenzy about COVID-19. Why? Because it will still impact your . I don’t have to go into the depth about why that matters. 

So, this article is not going to address the virus at all, other than to say that if you don’t want to get it, your best bet is to wash your hands (a revolutionary idea, I know). But here are some tactics that will help you stay ahead of a down

1. Put an automated lead machine in place

If you don’t have automated lead processes in place, now is the time to get on that. If the economy goes down, you’re going to have to sell twice as much as you were previously and without , you’re running an uphill race. Automation helps clone you and your team. I use LeadBox to put my lead gen on autopilot and receive fresh new leads across all of my companies. All I have to do is close the sale. It’s easily 10x’d my companies.  

Related: What should businesses and employers do during the coronavirus …

2. Implement systems and rely less on people

Never manage people. Always manage systems. This is an foundational principle and can help you manage your business better. And in turbulent times, people become even less reliable. We have dozens of different systems and processes we use across my various companies. One tool I love is Trello. It’s easy to create, has a great mobile UX and is simple to learn for anyone that hasn’t used it previously. 

3. Put customer safeguards in place

If you’re able to put customers on contracts now, that could be beneficial. That’s a tough conversation to have though currently with so much uncertainty. Something I’ve started to implement across my companies is initiating conversations with our clients and customers about the coronavirus. We ask them simply if their budgets and have been affected by the pandemic. Creating an open line of can help you plan in case things do start to change and their budgets go away, which hopefully gives you a good enough lead time to make changes internally if need be. We’re also sending out surveys to our various customers and clients to get a better of how how they’re dealing with the virus. For surveys, I love Survey Monkey. It’s the easiest most effective way to get surveys out quickly. Forms works well too. 

4. Focus on perfecting copywriting

A lot more people are going to be online over the next few weeks, constantly checking updates about the virus and economy, but also because most companies are going to implement temporary work from home policies. Because of that, the copy on your website, marketing materials, ads, etc, is going to be an especially competitive advantage right now. With the world fighting for engagement, strong copywriting will be a competitive advantage to attract the audiences you want. Udemy has some really great copywriting courses to improve your skills, or you can outsource through sites like Toptal or Upwork to find freelancers. 

Related: 3 Ways to Safeguard Your Business as Coronavirus Spreads

6. Double down on markets that have served you well

I don’t think testing new markets in the current uncertain economic landscape is an effective use of your time and resources. Contrarily, we’ll be doubling down and going deeper into the markets that have been effective for us. If you don’t know the ‘who, what and why’ of your company and its products or services, I recommend you read a book called Sell More Faster, which helps you get really clear on your customer segments. One of my mentors and advisors, Max Borges, preaches this philosophy. His company Max Borges Agency, for the past 10 years, has consistently generated $30m+ with a very healthy margin and contributes it simply that they got crystal clear on who their customer was, drilled down that very specific niche and created a product that his customers love. 

7. Focus on offerings that make your customers money or save them money (bottom-line products)

In these uncertain times, companies are less focused on products they don’t need. But, if your product or service either makes your customer money or saves them money, you become much less indisposable. Two example products that I will not stop using no matter what happens with the economy (because they make me money or save me money) are Adroll for retargeting (makes me money) and Charge Point reduced merchant services (saves me money). 

8. Productize service-based businesses

Here’s why products matter. You only have so many hours in a day to sell and execute on services (even if you have a team, you’re limited to their hours and so on). Products will help you make money while you sleep. Plain and simple. In order to scale and grow, you need products. If you’re a service, figure out how to productize some of those services. To keep things simple, just start with one. Products come in all shapes and sizes, from digital SaaS products to courses, to e-books, to anything that can be purchased and paid for online. You want products. 

But mostly, you want to wash your damn hands! 

Related: Coronavirus and a Looming Recession: How to Raise Capital in …

 



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3 Tested Ways to Achieve High Work Performance and Deep Thinking



5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


My wife and I just had our firstborn child, so figuring out how to maintain high performance while on limited  makes a ton of sense for me right now (there isn’t enough coffee in Starbucks to keep me caffeinated). And while we all want to walk around like in Limitless, operating at stunningly efficient levels in a state of total human optimization, the reality is, well, we’re human. 

Everybody knows that great habits lead to better results if you’re looking to change your habits. That means getting a good night’s rest, eating healthy and having a positive attitude. Habits are important, given that 69 percent of American adults say that is a significant source of stress, according to a November 2019 survey by the American Psychological Association. Moreover, 56 percent reporting being stressed over the nation’s political climate. Americans also don’t get enough sleep. A 2018 survey by National Sleep Foundation found that only 10 percent of U.S. adults prioritize sleep over other daily activities. For people who have excellent sleep health, 90 percent said they are very effective each day.

A nutritious diet, ample rest and a positive outlook are what remind us that we can determine our quality of life more than external stimuli or events beyond our influence. Here are ways to boost your performance at work and life in general.

Related: How to Reach Your Full Potential
 

1. Be open to “smart drugs”

Speaking of Limitless, increasing numbers of people are taking supplements to ensure their mind and body can accomplish more. “Smart drugs,” or nootropics, are particularly popular among individuals who seek an edge in daily performance. The global dietary supplements market will grow 7.8 percent annually to $195 billion by 2025, according to Grand View Research, and North America leads the way as the largest market for these products. “The market is driven by the hectic work schedules among working individuals coupled with fluctuations in diet intervals,” according to the firm’s May 2019 report.

As we all know, a full day requires concentration, dedication and nutrition. As Mau Pan, co-founder of Nuoptimal, explains, “Nootropics can be the catalyst to achieving greater productivity and happiness in your daily life. When taking the right combination of ingredients, they can boost work output and even promote long-term brain health.” I agree. 

2. Use the Pomodoro Technique or other time-management tricks   

Planning how you spend time leads to better results. More importantly, you’re less likely to get overwhelmed by a chorus of tasks. Peak performance isn’t possible when you’re interrupted by emails, texts and social-media notifications. I like the Pomodoro Technique for staying on track. It’s a time-management strategy created by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s that uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks of five-to-10 minutes. My preferred cycle is 40 minutes of work followed by 10 minutes of rest. 

Everyone has 24 hours a day, but planning actually increases your productive time. By focusing on important tasks, you’re able to reject less impactful and less meaningful activities. Think of it this way: You’re constantly saying “no” to alternative actions. If you choose unproductive activities, then you’re saying “no” to working, to parenting, to running errands. 

A January 2018 study by the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis (UMM) found that workers lose efficiency when they constantly switch from one task to another. Planning your day helps you to focus on the key task at hand until it’s finished. “Our brains process tasks better one at a time,” says the study’s co-author, Sophie Leroy, a former faculty member at UMM. “Our brain truly tries to keep the interrupted work on our mind so that we don’t forget about it.” 

Related: 7 Steps to Peak Performance in Business and Life

3. Stay off the smartphone 

Interruptions lead to a downward spiral of frustrations, stress and ineffectiveness. Multitasking is destroying your ability for long, deep, cognitive thinking. Most of your distractions probably come from your phone and , which steal an enormous amount of time, attention and productivity. I’ve definitely felt, at times, an addictive tendency towards my phone, and I’m not alone. The average U.S. adult now spends three hours on their mobile devive each day. This study from Behavioral Health compares smartphone distractions to cocaine, suggesting startlingly similar side effects. Let that sink in.

This sounds somewhat counterintuitive, but I do enjoy a handful of mobile apps that help me focus and stay productive. Brain.FM is a cool one that gives you music that helps you focus, stay productive or sleep. Freedom is another one I like that lets you block any app or site that is a distraction. 

The more time you spend on distractions, the less time you’re spending on constructive acts. Don’t let your smartphone make you dumb. Remove unnecessary apps so you can declutter your day and streamline your life, and delete all notifications. And when working, set your phone to airplane mode. 

I’d love to hear your tips. Give me a shout on Twitter @andrewmedal





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