Three Ways to Make the 4AM Club Work For You

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Articles | 4AM Club | Three Ways to Make the 4AM Club Work For You“Early to bed, early to rise makes a [wo]man healthy, wealthy and wise.” – Ben Franklin

You’ve heard it said a million times before: the early bird catches the worm, and in the opinion of many highly successful people, the phrase is much more than a cliche. The benefits of an extremely early morning routine have been touted by so many self-made celebrities that the “4 AM Club” has become a part of the public vernacular. Any web search will pull up a dozen articles with contradictory research on the benefits and downsides of the routine, along with firsthand accounts of people “taking the 4 AM challenge.”

These trials are often full of negative impressions: disorientation in the dark hours before dawn; a mid-afternoon slump that belies productivity; and by dinnertime, the inability to form coherent sentences. And then, almost as quickly as it begins, the challenge is over, sworn off forever as an unrealistic, unachievable, and borderline inhumane goal.

Yet 4 AM remains the magic hour for many world changers like Oprah, Michelle Obama, and Tim Cook, and experience has taught me why. In my world, it’s a time of quiet, focus, determination and accomplishment.

My routine is not without naysayers. An 8 PM bedtime with a 4 AM wake-up call has made me the subject of much critique over the years. Many people feel uncomfortable with my choice, claiming that my practices are unhealthy and not sustainable for the long term. Yet I’ve found deep joy in the practice.

As an entrepreneur and the mother of a growing family, high-paced days at my desk and endless days on the road, are only outpaced by high-energy evenings and weekends with my family of five. My favorite use of this early morning time is for my own personal development and self-care so that I can be at the top of my game during the remaining hours of the day. By waking up at 4 AM, I’m able to routinely take time for myself. I work out while listening to audiobooks, I meditate while I stretch, I prepare a healthy breakfast — and most importantly, I tackle my most critical work of the day while enjoying my espresso — all before 7 AM.

If this is something you’ve wanted to try but haven’t yet managed to find success in, here are a few keys I’ve found to making this routine not only possible, but extremely enjoyable as well:

Check your DNA

Have you ever referred to yourself as a “morning person” or “night owl”? We typically use these terms to indicate our preferred time of productivity — but they can signify something much more fundamental to our being. Our tendency to be productive at certain times of the day is often hard-wired in us, an internal clock that’s determined by our DNA. This genetic predisposition is called our chronotype. If you identify as a night owl, then you can stop reading now. This method is not for you and it never will be. In fact, research shows a correlation to weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease if you try to force an extra early wake-time when your DNA is telling you otherwise. But if you feel like you do your best work in the morning, or maybe you’re not sure, than the 4 AM club could be for you.

Check your Watch

The key to making this system work, and to sustaining it, has everything to do with getting to bed at the right time each evening, and being consistent about it. Knowing the exact number of sleep hours that support your peak performance is requisite to success — mine is eight. While I can certainly make accommodations when my schedule forces me to get less sleep, more than a few nights of that in any given month effectively compromises all the systems that work together to make me successful in my day-to-day life. Without enough sleep, my motivation to exercise is zapped, my food choices start moving in a downward spiral, and my productivity at work takes a nosedive.

Check your Excuses

If you’re going to take a shot at creating a new early morning routine, you must go into it knowing that this is a no-excuses kind of practice. Follow the 21/90 rule — on average, it takes 21 days (or three full weeks) to form a habit. If the system seems to work for you, another 90 days (about three months) practice is recommended to turn it into a permanent lifestyle change. That said, you can bet your money on the fact that the first few days will be brutal. The first morning your alarm goes off at that other-worldly hour, your instinct will be to hit snooze with your inner voice pleading, “just a few more minutes.” A few more minutes inevitably turns into another hour or two, which is not getting you any closer to seeing if this system really works for you. Try combating this sleep trap by using the Rule of 5 as soon as you hear your alarm go off. When you hear the buzzer, count to five, pop up, and start moving out of bed, no matter how you feel about it in that moment. It’s totally normal to move through the motions of the first part of your morning like a zombie at first, but don’t let that stop you from making a routine of it for a least three weeks. Watch out for that sneaky 10-day slump too — for some people, the excuses come out after we feel like we’ve accomplished something, and we let our guard down.

Above all, know that every person is wired in their own way, and successful habits look different for everyone. Do not try to define yourself by what works for others — instead, let them inspire you to find your own routines that drive you toward your goals.

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Articles | 4AM Club | Three Ways to Make the 4AM Club Work For YouJudith Nowlin, Chief Growth Officer with Babyscripts. Judith created iBirth™, a mobile care companion for pregnancy, birth and postpartum, to help healthcare practitioners deliver better health outcomes for women and children in the United States and beyond. The original idea for the app was born out of her prior decade of service in maternity care. The technology platform she and her team built has since impacted nearly 1 million families on their journey toward optimal health and wellness during one of life’s most precious times. iBirth was acquired in June 2018 by Babyscripts, Inc., the leading virtual care platform for obstetrics. You can find her here

The Legislation Involved In Working With The Government

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Articles | Government Contracts | The Legislation Involved In Working With The GovernmentSecuring a government contract is the Holy Grail of business. As an entity with a trillion dollar budget, they usually reward contractors with competitive deals. Plus, they are an establishment which needs work completing on a regular basis. As a result, the agreements are lucrative and are long-term too.

Of course, working with the government isn’t a walk in the park. While it’s rewarding, it’s also potentially dangerous on various levels. Lots of companies have folded after a deal gone wrong with the government. Before signing on the dotted line, it’s imperative that you understand the risks.

Here are the main ones to consider.

Licenses And Permits

Before you can apply, the US government requires a few things from you first. Chief among them are the correct licenses and permits to ensure you’re an eligible contractor. A prime example is a D-U-N-S number which is a nine-digit code. It provides them with a physical location for each business premises of your company. Or, there’s a NAICS code which collects data relating to the economy. Any organizations that apply without either of these two things will get rejected. So, it’s essential to have your paperwork in order.


Speaking of paperwork, it’s pretty important to ensure everything is in order before applying. Remember that this is the government you’re talking about and they will perform a rigorous security check. If anything in your background is a little dodgy, it will show up as a red flag. Not only will this result in your application getting thrown out, but it will also be forwarded to the relevant office. So, say you owe tax, the IRS will get in touch to ask about an irregular tax return. If you’re not squeaky clean, it’s best to avoid the hassle in the first place.

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Articles | Government Contracts | The Legislation Involved In Working With The GovernmentInsurance

It’s tempting to see them as the most reputable client in the world. After all, it isn’t as if they’re strapped for cash. However, governments have to cut costs too and they will do so any way they can. If that includes stiffing you with a dodgy excuse, they won’t hesitate. It’s not as if they can’t use the legal system to their advantage. A policy entitles you to legal representation for Defense Base Act cases which go wrong. It won’t be included, yet the fact you have one is a strong basis for a lawsuit. Always have a backup plan in case there are unforeseen circumstances.

The Value

Competing with huge contractors is tough when they have the resources. So, it’s crucial to understand how the system works with regards to small businesses. Did you know that the law requires that government purchases worth $3,000 to $100,000 be directed to SMEs? It’s true, which means there is a lane for startups and non-specialists. All you need to do is to check out the opportunities on the Fed Biz Opps website and place a bid.

Even if you think there is no chance you’ll win, it’s worth a shot. And, if you’re right, keep plugging away until you hit the jackpot.

Three Ways to Establish a Baseline for Your Brand-New Business

StrategyDriven Managing Your Business Article | Three Ways to Establish a Baseline for Your Brand-New BusinessIn business terms, a baseline is where you start. It gives you an idea of your bottom-most revenues and ranks, then allows you to improve upon them until you have a new baseline to replace the start-up version. This is super-important for a brand-new business, as you need to know where you’re starting from to grasp where you want to go. Especially important in project management for business, baselines should be included in your initial business concept. Or at least projected and considered. That said, this article gives you more to think about when establishing a baseline for your brand-new business.

1. Establish a Projected Baseline of Your Hopeful Revenues, Ranks, and Business Presence for the First 3 Months

Baselines are your bottom dollar and where you begin in business. It’s the rock-bottom of your company, and it’s rather low to start with because you don’t know exactly what your business will make. However, you can do a projected baseline as a goal for the next three months. Project a hopeful new baseline, and if you accomplish that one, then that will be your new standard until you consistently make more.

2. Compare Your Actual Baseline to Your Projected Baseline AFTER the First 3 Months and Make Note of Things to Do Differently/Similarly

The first three months are crucial to the success of your business, so keep well-documented records of projected baselines and actual revenues and ranks. When the first three months pass and your business is still standing tall, make tangible notes of what you did, what you will keep the same, and what to do differently. This will be your routine for every three months that your business excels. You could even make a tangible office chart on your wall. Make custom stickers to represent your baseline, projected revenues, and current ranking numbers.

3. Build on Your Business Concept Using the Baseline as an Example of What You Can Accomplish—but Update it Every 3 Months

Baselines change, and businesses go through the trial and errors that either lead to big successes or big failures. Look at where your business began and how much you have accomplished every three months. Let these numbers drive you to do better and maintain a standard of success within your business.

Top Trends for Entrepreneurs in 2019

StrategyDriven Entrepreneur Article | 2019 Top Trends | Top Trends for Entrepreneurs in 2019Entrepreneurs need to understand the changing markets that they are involved in. No matter their sector, failure to understand what modern consumers are looking for and the best ways to meet those needs, is one of the main reason for business failure. That’s why understanding emerging trends has always been a fundamental priority for those either running their own business or preparing to launch. There are some strong trends that look set to dictate the business landscape in 2019, and smart entrepreneurs should be looking at the coming year and finding the best ways to integrate these trends into their business models. For those that prefer to stick with outdated methods, the future will be much more difficult to thrive in.

Consumer Relationships

Consumer interaction is more important in the business landscape than ever before. Through social media, email newsletters, and in-house blogs, consumer engagement is the key to improved customer loyalty and higher conversion rates. It’s vital that business-to-customer interactions are natural and honest. As the most effective way to build on the strength of a brand, consumer engagement is the number one focus for businesses of every size and sector. Look at how big names have prioritized interaction, and become much stronger and more trustworthy brand names as a result.

Efficiency Trends

Every entrepreneur should have a strong focus on efficiency. Failure to remain efficient results in the unproductive use of resources and time. The good news is that it has never been easier to become more efficient, and this can be achieved through a variety of methods. However, one of the most consistently successful is through the use of a Kaizen Burst. Statistical analysis of your business processes is not new, but it has become increasingly popular since big name brands started adopting its use. There are potential benefits for businesses of all sizes, and entrepreneurs would be wise to start looking at their own Kaizen Burst Event before their competitors do.

Technology Trends

There’s no disputing that although the human touch is important, technology has become the primary driver of all business management. There are a variety of tech solutions available for all business, and whether you’re looking at the transition to cloud technology, better software, or even artificial intelligence, tech remains one of the most important elements for budding entrepreneurs to be aware of. As the rise of the Internet of Things continues, businesses are benefitting from greater collaboration through more connectivity. 2019 looks set to be the year that the IoT really takes off, making it one of the most essential elements to explore for those entrepreneurs hoping to capitalize on the benefits.

The consumer landscape is one that needs to be watched on a regular basis. If your business is not keeping up to date with what consumers are looking for, then you will lose out to those companies that have a consumer-centric focus. Running a business is rarely simple, but with modern technology and trending business methods, it’s never been easier to create a business model that not only works but has a long-term future.

How To Create A Website That Will Impress Your Target Audience

StrategyDriven Online Marketing and Website Development Article | How To Create A Website That Will Impress Your Target AudienceA one-of-a-kind website is essential for impressing your target audience. Keep in mind that it is thanks to an audience that the goods and services your business offers are used.

Without an online presence, no one will know about your company’s mission, and nor will you stand to make any profit as a result of it. Thus, you need to have a website that allows you to market your brand properly, and leaves a strong impression on anyone that finds it.

The very first step is to hire individuals who are experts in web design and development. Moreover, you want to guarantee that it is user-friendly so that people can easily navigate it, and lastly remain consistent with the branding you set up for it. All of these tips will be further explained below.

With professional assistance

There are expert web designers for a reason, and they know exactly how to help you put together the ultimate website for your brand. There is no need to spend countless hours learning how to do it yourself from scratch.

You should also keep in mind there are certain agencies and individuals who specialize in your niche company needs. After all, if you are looking to grow your charity’s website, you want the assistance of a reputable company such as Charity Box, that knows exactly how to grow your specific brand.

Everything from the development and up-keep assistance can be tied back to hiring the best professionals for the task. More so, given that they are already knowledgeable on the subject, they have a good understanding over what has and has not worked for other companies in the past, and can reduce the amount of trial and error that you have to go through.

Ensure it is user-friendly

Is your website user-friendly? This can include the following factors:

  • Easy to navigate
  • Clear layout
  • Readable text
  • Simple payment methods

Imagine that an individual starts to browse your website, but they have a hard time understanding what you do. It could be that the layout is jumbled and disorganized, the text itself isn’t clear, among many other factors. Company reputation is important, and if people can’t spend more than 5 seconds on your site, you need to re-evaluate everything you put together thus far.

Remain consistent with your branding

Remaining consistent is also crucial to build stronger relations with your audience. Once enough time and marketing effort have been put into growing your company, people will start to recognize you even by simply seeing your business logo.

It is incredibly important that you don’t change courses out of the blue with your branding, as this will only confuse people and further ruin the relationship you built with them. All in all, your brand will suffer if you are not careful.

Remember, when you impress your target audience, you are also strengthening the relationship with those individuals. They will be so impressed with your content, that they will continue visiting your website to check for updates. You also want them to spread the word about your company, and the only way you can do this is if you create an online presence that is buzz-worthy.