How to Create a Wellness Program for Your Small Business

How to Create a Wellness Program for Your Small Business

In order for your small business to be as successful as possible, you need your employees to operate at full strength. If you have a staff full of people who are constantly at home due to illness or only working at half speed because they’re stressed about their health or even health-related financial issues, then your business can’t function properly.

A wellness program at your workplace can help you keep your employees productive by making sure they’re as healthy and stress-free as possible. Here are some tips for getting a wellness program started at your office.

Creating a Small Business Wellness Program

Gather Employee Input

Ultimately, your workplace wellness program is supposed to benefit your employees. So you need to actually take their input and opinions into account when shaping your program.

To do this, create a survey for your employees to share their health goals and what they might like to see out of a wellness program. You can also find out what your employees think they can realistically handle.

For example, you might think it sounds like a great idea to start a running club after work. But if half of your team has bad knees that won’t allow them to run or hectic schedules that don’t leave much time for structured activities after work, then you may need to go in a different direction.

Assess Your Goals

From there, you can assess what goals both you and your team might find most important. While there are some wellness programs that can address many different areas, it might be best for you to focus on just one or two areas at first.

So if you notice that many of your employees brought up wanting to improve their diet, then you may want to focus your efforts in that area. Instead of offering up fitness activities for your team to do on their lunch breaks, you might come up with a points system that they can use to keep track of their meals and nutritional intake throughout the day.

Set a Budget

Any workplace initiative is going to take some time and/or money. If you don’t have a ton of funds to dedicate to a wellness program, you still have options. But you need to at least determine what resources you’re able and willing to dedicate to this area.

If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a wellness program, you could do something simple like start a running club. (Again, this assumes it would be something your employees will appreciate.) Other options that could cost more money include incentives for employees, healthy workplace food options, fitness classes and hiring professionals who can come and share expertise with your team.

You also have to consider the time commitment. If you and your team are too busy to dedicate any work hours to the program, then you may need to come up with an idea that only includes healthy lunch options or after-hours workouts.

Create a Specific Structure

Any small business owner or manager can simply tell their team members to develop healthy eating habits, exercise regularly or even quit smoking. But an actual workplace wellness program has to go farther than that.

In order for your initiative to be successful, you need a structure. That means you need to create a process that you and your team can actually follow to stay on track. You might make it into a contest like a “Biggest Loser” type weight-loss challenge. Or you could create a points system to encourage healthy eating.

There are countless ways to structure your program. But you’ll need to at least have some kind of goal, a timetable and an incentive in order for your initiative to be successful.

Find Helpful Resources

You don’t have to build a wellness program from scratch all on your own. Plenty of businesses and organizations have built successful programs already. So you may as well use what they’ve learned and created to guide your own initiative.

The CDC, for example, has some models for workplace wellness programs that you can use to shape your own initiatives.

Once you’ve decided on what exactly you want your wellness program to achieve, you can do some research to find examples and templates of similar initiatives. You can always customize later, but these guides can help you save time in getting started.

Keep the Program Top of Mind

In order for your wellness program to be successful, you can’t simply mention it once and hope that your team will keep up with it. You need to somehow remind your team of the program regularly.

Maybe you have weekly meetings or weigh-ins for weight loss competitions. Maybe each week you send out a selection of healthy recipes. Or you could even put up a display in your office where team members can update their own progress for their health goals.

Employee Wellness Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “How to Create a Wellness Program for Your Small Business” was first published on Small Business Trends

Are Business Partners Your Biggest Asset?

Business Partners: Your Biggest Asset

If you’ve started a business, it goes without saying that one of your objectives is to make money. However, if you’re like most entrepreneurs, this may not be your only goal.

According to a survey conducted by Bizjournals.com, there are four distinct types of business owners, each with a different reason for starting their business.

First, there are the “passionate creators” who created their business out of a pure love for what they do. Next are the “freedom seekers” who started their business in order to gain control over their work life. Then there are the “legacy builders” who saw where they could add lasting value to the future of their world and built their business to accomplish that. And last, there are the “struggling survivors” who created their business out of a need to survive.

Whether you’re in business to be your own boss, make a difference in the world, or pursue your passion, your ultimate success is going to be found in the quality of your relationships with business partners.

Your Relationships with Business Partners Determine Your Success

Building and maintaining relationships with business partners is the cornerstone of every successful venture. We live on a planet with billions of other people, and if we want our business to be successful, we have to find ways to support each other.

According to bestselling author and training expert Keith Ferazzi, “the number-one predictive element of an individual’s success is the number, the quality, and the depth of social capital — the personal relationships among those that they do business with.”

Additionally, Stanford research shows that when people work together as partners, even when physically apart, their motivation increases. The same study found that people who were treated as though they were working together persisted 48 to 64 percent longer on challenging tasks.

This means that creating relationships with business partners can be supportive even when you’re not physically working together — like on the internet.

Internet Partnership Requires Value Exchange

Creating partnership online involves more than offering to put someone’s banner ad on your website. That may have sufficed in the early 90s, but today successful entrepreneurs want personal relationships with the people they do business with online.

It’s common for entrepreneurs to focus on partnership and collaboration. You’ve probably seen people build relationships on the internet through affiliate marketing or joint ventures. While these types of partnerships can be successful, there are other ways business relationships can be formed.

There is a model of partnership that has been highly successful in recent years, seen mostly in the travel industry, but has recently expanded into other areas. This new business model brings convenience to a world where users once had to search multiple websites for hours just to coordinate one trip.

Trivago and Kayak have found great long-term success by finding people the best deals on hotels. Priceline.com has expanded from just airline booking to help people find the best prices on cruises and even full vacation packages. And Compare.com utilizes the same successful model for generating auto insurance quotes and even comparing cellphone plans.

What makes this business model unique is that it provides value for other businesses as well as the customer.

Why It Works, Even Though It’s Free

These businesses can offer their services for free because their revenue comes from their relationships with business partners. They earn their revenue as a percentage of the sales they generate.

Partnership Is the Nest Model for Exponential Success

Building relationships is about maintaining those relationships; not just having a huge list of contacts in your address book.

In addition to mutual support for products and services, perhaps the most important reason to develop business relationships is for the potential access to connections. When you have a strong relationship with someone, they will be more likely to connect you with people they know, providing you with hot leads that may turn out to be the connection that gets your project funded.

How to Strengthen Your Business Relationships

Nurturing relationships with your business partners is not that different from the way you generate and maintain your personal relationships. Above all, you want to establish trust. When you enter into a new relationship with someone and you’re willing to go out of your way to support them with no expectations of a return, that builds trust by showing them they can rely on you.

You may also want to consider providing your new business contacts with leads you think may help them. When you’re generous with your leads, people remember that and are more likely to return the favor. But don’t just do it in hopes of gaining a return. Be authentic with your generosity and treat your business leads like good friends.

Business Meeting Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Are Business Partners Your Biggest Asset?” was first published on Small Business Trends

Beware the Negative Power of Positive Thinking

Beware the Negative Power of Positive Thinking

We hear a lot about how positive thinking can help your business and your life. While you do want to be a positive person, and while you want to have confidence in yourself, sometimes positive thinking can actually get in the way of success.

There are a couple of reasons that positive thinking can slow you down in the long run. No, you don’t need to get all negative. But you do need to watch out for the pitfalls of positive thinking.

The Negative Power of Positive Thinking

When Reality Collides with Positive Thinking

One of the issues, according to Psychology Today, is that it’s possible to fool yourself with positive thinking. Sometimes, we just try to convince ourselves of an outcome, rather than seeing the realities. Maybe you convince yourself that you will close a deal or that you will give a successful presentation.

Both of these are great outcomes, and you want to think positively. However, what happens if something goes wrong? Psychology Today points out that when beliefs and experiences don’t match, we inevitably become frustrated and confused.

Instead of just using positive thinking, the idea is to evaluate whether or not there is evidence for your belief. Why do you think you’ll close the deal? Have you worked hard on it? Do you know your potential business partner well?

Make sure your positive thinking is grounded in reality. Consider alternatives, and think about different plans you can follow, just in case Plan A doesn’t work out.

Prepare yourself for positive outcomes, and be ready to seize opportunities when they arrive. But don’t let positive thinking become the norm if you don’t have evidence to support the belief that everything will come out fine.

Complacency and Positive Thinking

Another problem with positive thinking is that it promotes complacency. According to different research studies, dreaming about the future and thinking about it positively calms you down. When you fantasize about happy outcomes, you end up with physical results that keep you from moving forward.

Research indicates that dreaming positively about what’s next calms you down and reduces your blood pressure. It also reduces your energy. Plus, thinking about a positive outcome provides you with a psychological reward that feels almost as good as reaching the goal.

With too much positive thinking, you feel sanguine about the future and your situation — and you might not actually put your plans to reach your goals into practice. According to one researcher writing in

According to one researcher writing in the New York Times, “Positive thinking fools our minds into perceiving that we’ve already attained our goal, slackening our readiness to pursue it.”

Sure, you want to think that the future will be bright. But you don’t want to fantasize so much about a positive future that you become complacent about today and get less done.

Bottom Line

Positivity can be a great thing. Believing that you can reach your business and life goals is an important part of staying motivated. However, you need to be careful. Your positive thoughts need to be accompanied by plans to keep moving forward, and realistic check-ins to keep you on track.

Think Positive Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Beware the Negative Power of Positive Thinking” was first published on Small Business Trends

7 Qualities of Leaders Who Inspire Loyalty

7 Strong Qualities of Leaders Who are Likeable

Sure, the best leaders sometimes have to make decisions that are unpopular, but we all crave respect and support from the staff that make our companies work.  Being a likable leader isn’t about currying favor or tiptoeing around the people you employ.  In fact, being likeable means being the best leader you can be.  Employing these strategies will not only help you gain big-picture abilities that will benefit your business, but you will also gain the loyalty of your employees.

Qualities of Leaders Who are Likeable

1. Be Honest

First and foremost, we don’t like people we don’t trust.  Even if you have to couch comments in diplomatic ways, you’re always better off telling the truth about your expectations, your view of the future, and where your employees stand.  Honesty begets honesty, and your company will benefit from mutual trust.

2. Be Positive

While I’m not counseling entrepreneurs to see the world through rose-colored glasses, but I do advocate staying focused on the goals you want your company to achieve.  Being goal-oriented and forward-looking means that you’re invested in being a great leader today.

3. Be Humble

No man (or woman) is an island, and leaders who insist on taking all the glory for their successes end up with resentful, lackluster staff.  Take every opportunity to shower deserving employees with public praise, and you’ll be rewarded with loyalty and continued support.

4. Empower Your Staff

Employees who don’t feel empowered to make decisions don’t feel responsibility when things go wrong.  If you want staff who treats your company like it’s their own, then you must give them authority and support for appropriate decision making.  You may have to accept some mistakes along the way, but invested, proud, responsible employees are worth it.

5. Be Approachable

Every member of my staff knows I have an “open door with a caveat” policy.  I am always available to my staff.  I’m always happy to listen, to advise, and to mentor, but I am not the company’s chief problem solver.  Unless you want to spend all day putting out fires, you must train your staff to solve problem for themselves.  Don’t just give you staff a fish; teach them to fish for themselves.

6. Ask Questions

It’s far too easy to settle into the mindset that information flows primarily from you to your employees.  Not only will that mindset rob you of valuable perspectives, but it will also result in leaders who know little about their staff.  Take the time to find out what matters to your employees.  Learn about their concerns, their stresses, their families.  The key here is to find ways to emphasize the connection between your company goals and your employees’ goals.  Make success a win-win for every member of your staff.

7. Learn Your Staffs’ Names

Yes, of course this one should go without saying, but I’m always stunned when I discover how many business owners fail to learn and use their employees first and last names.  Nothing signals contempt for people like the failure to learn the most basic piece of information about them.  Don’t use a lame excuse about being “bad with names.”  Learn your staff’s names.  Period.

Leadership isn’t simply a role.  It’s a mindset.  Owning a company doesn’t necessarily make you an inspiring, likeable boss.  That takes work, but it’s work that will pay big dividends – in productivity and in loyalty.

Leader Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “7 Qualities of Leaders Who Inspire Loyalty” was first published on Small Business Trends

6 Ways to Foster Healthy Competition at Work

6 Ways to Foster Healthy Competition at Work

Workplace competition can help make your staff more productive, more engaged and more energized. However, it can also stress them out, crush their confidence and lead to lasting resentment. Some people are naturally competitive and thrive in competitions, while others aren’t and will cringe at the mere idea of a contest. How can you create healthy competition at work while avoiding any potentially harmful effects? Here are some tips.

Creating Healthy Competition at Work

Make it Fun

Work is naturally competitive: Everyone wants to do well in his or her job, be recognized and get promoted. Don’t add to this stress by making your workplace competitions deadly serious. Keep a lighthearted and fun element to the contest.

Monitor the Effects

Pay close attention to how your workplace competitions unfold — not just in business results, but also in human terms. Are tempers flaring? Are people snapping at each other or becoming uncooperative? If a competition starts to go off the rails, call a halt to discuss the problems and, if you have to, end the competition.

Compete in Teams

Competition among individuals has the most potential to go wrong. It can lead to a dog-eat-dog environment where everyone is out for number one. In general, team competitions are healthier, and also encourage collaboration, which is vital in today’s workplace. Try to balance the teams as much as possible by choosing team members with different strengths. Not only will this create more effective teams, it will also give the members opportunities to learn from each other while competing.

Encourage Competing with Yourself

Competitions that focus on achieving a “personal best” instead of beating others can be highly motivating, while avoiding the downsides of one-on-one competition. Individuals can compete with themselves, such as sales reps trying to raise their sales numbers each month. Teams can compete with themselves, too: For instance, you could measure your shipping department’s average time per package and see if they can get faster every month.

Stay Focused on the End Goal

It’s great when employees get excited about the competition, but sometimes they get so excited they forget about the ultimate goal. For example, if your contest measures how many calls your customer service reps handle in a day, they might get so focused on speed that they start rushing through calls — and service quality declines.

Provide a Reasonable Reward

The reward for workplace competitions can vary depending on the nature of the competition, your business and your people. For example, at some workplaces, the winning team might be content to receive a silly trophy and recognition at the weekly meeting. Others may be motivated by something more tangible, like getting to leave early on Friday afternoons. Still others will need larger rewards to motivate competition — such as salespeople, who are often rewarded with bonuses or vacation packages for bringing in big sales.

How do you encourage competition at work (or do you)?

Trophy Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “6 Ways to Foster Healthy Competition at Work” was first published on Small Business Trends

Change Is A Door to Opportunity

Change is a daily way of life now, faster, more consistent and happening all around us. Here are 5 ways to be ready when change means opportunity.

I just finished my annual visit with Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved My Cheese. I find this simple allegory and story so timeless, relevant and helpful every time I read it.

“Haw now realized that the change probably would have not taken him by surprise, if he had been watching what was happening all along, and if he had anticipated change”.

Change is a daily way of life now, faster, more consistent and happening all around us. Change happens sometimes quickly and dramatically and sometimes slowly and subtly, but always happening. Are you feeling it, seeing it and prepared for it?

The main premise of Who Moved My Cheese is about anticipating change by noticing the small things changing around you and being prepared to move with it immediately, instead of ignoring it. It’s very easy to fall behind and get left behind.

Change Means Opportunity

Here are five ways to anticipate change and use it as a door to opportunity.

Become More Alert with What’s Happening Around You

Be more observant and engage regularly with your customers, mentors and other people you trust to elicit feedback and suggestions on how you can improve procedures, services, customer service. Are you giving people a fresh user experience online and in person to keep them interested and coming back?

Expect Things to Change and Look for the Slow Signs

“Smell the cheese often so you can sense when it’s going old”. Is it getting harder to find new customers? Are you not getting enough referrals? Is your customer retention down? Have you lost existing customers? Is your heart still in it? Sometimes it’s the subtle signs that are not always easy to see, but important to notice. 

Trust Your Instincts — Don’t Wait — Be Proactive in Making Small Changes

Usually, we know when things are not going just right, but we choose to ignore it. Instincts are powerful signs and messages we get and they are usually right on. Respect them, stop and evaluate them and act on them to make small subtle changes that can make a difference.

Be Ready and Stay Ready to Adapt

Sniff and Scurry, the main characters in the book moved on when their cheese moved. Hem and Haw decided to wait it out and hoped that their cheese would return (it didn’t) instead of moving on to find new cheese. Often, we don’t want things to change because we fear it, but getting ahead of change helps us deal with it.  “Movement in a new direction helps you find new cheese”.

Look for the Opportunities That Change Brings

There are incredible opportunities in trends and change. We can never get too comfortable or set in our ways in this fast paced business terrain. A willingness to change and adapt is an essential skill. Embrace change as an opportunity, not a burden.

Hire A Professional To Help You Change

We sometimes need professional help to get us going. If you are stuck and struggling with self motivation then tap your community for a trusted professional to help. Working with a consultant or business coach can be very enlightening and inspiring. Make sure you get solid referrals.

Haw stopped to write on the wall and wondered why he had always thought that a change would lead to something worse.  Now he realized that change could lead to something better.

Each new year brings with it an invigorated attitude of commitment and action. Streamline and simplify, review and update, listen to feedback, seek out testimonials.

What changes do you need to make?

What changes are you planning to make to ensure your success?

Open Door Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Change Is A Door to Opportunity” was first published on Small Business Trends

10 Rules for Better Managing Client Expectations

10 Rules for Better Managing Client Expectations

Rome wasn’t built in a day. To establish credibility and create trust, it’s important to communicate timelines effectively. That’s why we asked 10 entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following question:

“What’s one rule for better managing client expectations early in a relationship?”

Managing Client Expectations

Here’s what YEC members had to say:

1. Create Boundaries

“I was guilty early on of going way beyond the scope of my work with my clients, and I ultimately realized it was because I allowed them to take advantage of me. The solution was that I had to create boundaries by saying no when necessary or training clients on what to expect, both by overtly stating it and by modeling it.” ~ Darrah BrusteinNetwork Under 40

2. Create an Online Flowchart

“This goes back to technology, so pick a great CRM with job-flow charts. I stole this from Amazon — you can see exactly where your package is at any moment with the click of a button. Doing this will result in far less communication because the client will know exactly where they are in the process of completion.” ~ Tommy MelloA1 Garage Door Repair

3. Put It in Writing 

“Anytime you have a conversation with a client, send them an email with your understanding of what was discussed, the next steps, or the outcomes decided. When you’re both agreeing on paper to a business decision, there are usually fewer misunderstandings than if you verbally accept conditions or terms. And be specific and precise in wording. What one person considers important, another might not.” ~ Nicole MunozStart Ranking Now

4. Build Expectations Around Your Reporting Methods 

“We put together a data report for our clients that reflects what we accomplished for their accounts in each month. We solved our problems with client expectations by building a great report that covers everything they would want to know, and then started using only the metrics in those reports when telling our potential clients what we can deliver for them.” ~ Adam SteeleThe Magistrate

5. Establish Outcomes 

Clearly define the outcome you are working toward, whether verbally or in a contract, and clearly communicate it to the client. When there is transparency in your process and you and the client are in alignment of the outcome you’re trying to achieve, you mitigate scope creep and can reign them in when their vision veers from the outcome you’ve established.” ~ Kevin YamazakiSidebench

6. Under-Promise and Over-Deliver 

“Your No. 1 goal has to be managing your clients’ expectations. If their expectations are too high or you can’t get them to agree to your timelines and process, you’re probably wasting your valuable time. When communicating with your client and team, promise about 90 percent of what you think is achievable. Then you only have to deliver 110 percent — problem solved.” ~ Brendon ScheneckerTravel Vegas

7. Build in a Contingency Buffer 

“No matter how much planning is done up front in a project, something will inevitably come up that’s outside of the original scope or goes against your prescribed process. Rather than “punishing” the client for this, have a built-in contingency plan that accommodates these minor changes. Allocate buffer or time to address these without having to affect the overall project’s goals.” ~ Ross BeyelerGrowth Spark

8. Determine Needs Versus Capacity and Deliverables 

“Every client has their own idea about what they hire us for. Most clients expect exponential growth (and we’re careful not to oversell); however, some of their expectations may go against better practices and policies. We try to iron that out immediately by determining how much capacity we have to deliver on what is needed before talking about nice-to-haves.” ~ Cody McLainSupportNinja

9. Overcommunicate 

“Frequently deliver clear and actionable details that will inform the client of what’s being worked on and what’s planned ahead. This ensures that everyone’s on the same page at all times. Getting buy-in from the client on a particular plan or direction ahead of time can also be helpful in properly setting expectations.” ~ Diego OrjuelaCables & Sensors, LLC

10. Avoid Month-to-Month Agreements 

“If your service takes times to show results, do not under any circumstances agree to month-to-month contracts. It’s critical that you spend time upfront discussing how long it will take your company to show results. For instance, one of the core services of my company is SEO. SEO takes time. That’s why I disclose that clients shouldn’t expect meaningful results for at least six months or more.” ~ Kristopher JonesLSEO.com

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This article, “10 Rules for Better Managing Client Expectations” was first published on Small Business Trends

How To Build Your Personal Magnetism and Charisma

How To Build Your Personal Magnetism and Charisma

With all the talk about, writing about and discussion about personal branding, this magnetism and charisma is already inside each one of us and part of the DNA of the personality we were born with.

In Developmental Psychologist Jan Mercer’s article in Psychology Today: Temperament and Genetics, she confirms “biological factors determine the individual’s ‘temperament,’ the group of personality characteristics that seem to be present in some form from early life onward and that make us consider people as having individualized personalities.”

So, if you want to be more fun, dynamic, social and memorable, then look inside and develop all the qualities, capacity and potential  you already have.

Within seconds of meeting someone in person, we just know whether someone is interesting, annoying, funny, sharp or seemingly easy to get along with. First impressions are usually gut impressions and are often right on. Not always but usually.

So What Attracts People to Each Other?

Our physical appearance and image is unmistakable. Our style, grooming and personal presentation are important magnets for standing out and being remembered. The way we look and present ourselves makes an undeniable impression and statement.

It is true however most of the time, that we remember people because of their personality, energy, personal magnetism and how it makes us feel.

The study of Interpersonal Attraction and what leads people to friendships or romantic relationships is a major area of research in social psychology related to how much we like, dislike or hate someone. It can be viewed as a force acting between two people that tends to draw them together and resist their separation.  It is suggested that to determine attraction, the genetic personality combined with the situation must be taken into account.

We should take every opportunity to connect with people, spend time with people you want to grow relationships with and be willing to discuss and work on areas of disagreement or conflict with people you already have relationships with.

Getting to know people more personally unlocks the magnetism between them.

Here are 13 qualities that can make us more memorable and can build personal magnetism.

  • Kindness
  • Authenticity
  • Willingness
  • Relevance
  • Relatability
  • Knowledge
  • Optimism
  • Humility
  • Responsibility
  • Compassion
  • Magnanimity
  • Humor
  • Levity

Here are a few more more things that you can do to develop more personal magnetism.

  • Take the time to talk one on one
  • Be willing to introduce good people to each other
  • Be complimentary to others
  • Help others in times of change and transition
  • Be positive, hopeful and authentic
  • Share a good sense of humor

“The next time someone asks you, “How’s it going?” or “What do you think of the weather?” don’t think of it as an imposition. See it as an opportunity to open a conversation, establish a connection and set the stage for a potentially deeper relationship” says Andy Molinsky Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Brandeis International Business School.

What qualities attract you to others?

What qualities do you believe attract others to you?

Magnet Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “How To Build Your Personal Magnetism and Charisma” was first published on Small Business Trends

What Are Smart Drugs and Are They Safe for Entrepreneurs?

What Are Smart Drugs and Are They Safe for Entrepreneurs?

Launching a startup is completely and utterly exhausting. Entrepreneurs often risk everything in order to make a new business successful — and one of the first sacrifices to be made is usually a full night’s sleep.

That’s why more and more entrepreneurs have been turning to nootropic “smart drugs” for a helping hand. In 2015 alone, the global nootropics trade brought in over $1 billion — and the industry is growing fast.

Nootropic drugs include a wide range of natural and man made compounds that some experts claim have the ability to boost one’s memory, focus, motivation and energy levels. Some of the most effective nootropics are regularly prescribed by doctors, while others are controversially available over-the-counter for limited recreational use.

But before running out and trying them for yourself, it’s worth developing some firm background knowledge about nootropics, their potential side effects and why some entrepreneurs are prone to take them.

What Are Smart Drugs?

First and foremost, it’s worth pointing out that you’re probably already taking nootropic compounds in one form or another. Caffeine and L-theanine, which are both found in coffee and tea, technically fall under the umbrella of nootropic drugs.

Simply put, nootropics are a class of chemicals that provide the brain with various types of cognitive benefits. Some nootropics are naturally occurring, while others are man made — but all of them have five things in common.

According to Romanian psychologist and chemist Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea, who coined the term “nootropic” in 1972, in order to qualify, a substance must: enhance memory and ability to learn, help the brain function under disruptive conditions, protect the brain from chemical assaults, increase the efficacy of neuronal firing control mechanisms in the brain, and must possess few side effects and be virtually non-toxic.

That list of criteria is what separates so-called smart drugs from similarly crafted “cognitive enhancers” like Adderall. Unlike cognitive enhancers, real nootropics must be neuroprotective and relatively non-toxic. Because Adderall possesses a range of stimulatory qualities and negative side effects, it cannot be classed as a nootropic drug.

As a point of reference, examples of popular nootropic drugs that are widely available in most U.S. states include Piracetam, Phenibut, Choline Bitartrate and Noopept.

Are Smart Drugs Safe?

Nootropics are both safe for human consumption and non-toxic by definition. They are specifically designed to come with minimal side effects, and compounds claiming to be nootropics cannot truly be classed as such if they are overtly harmful. That being said, that doesn’t mean taking them is without risk.

As with any pharmaceutical drug, popular, over-the-counter nootropic drugs will inherently affect your cognitive functions differently than they might impact other people. Some of this boils down to your personal drug tolerance, the type of drug you’re taking and a wide array of pre-existing medical conditions. That’s why you absolutely must consult with your doctor before deciding whether to take any particular drug or dietary supplement claiming to provide you with enhanced cognitive functions.

It’s also worth noting there doesn’t appear to be a whole lot of evidence these drugs can enhance cognition in individuals without cognitive impairments. Likewise, note that a range of scientific studies have generally conceded that legitimate nootropics are not usually addictive if taken in therapeutic doses. Yet a heavy reliance on nootropics can often lead to reckless dosages, which can ultimately cause serious side effects and be toxic. Individuals who consume safely and responsibly produced nootropic drugs in small doses do not generally experience major health issues as a direct result.

Do Your Homework

To sum up, when taken responsibly, authentic nootropic substances appear to pose a wide range of temporary cognitive benefits coupled with minimal side effects. But that doesn’t mean side effects are non-existent, and it doesn’t mean nootropic or other so-called smart drugs do not have the potential to damage your body. As with any pharmaceutical drug, the way nootropic drugs affect you will vary personally.

That’s why, if you believe the net benefits outweigh the potential risk, it’s crucial you do your research beforehand. Learn more, consult a doctor and scrutinize over-the-counter products to ensure substances you’re prepared to try have been responsibly and safely crafted.

Pills Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “What Are Smart Drugs and Are They Safe for Entrepreneurs?” was first published on Small Business Trends

10 Essential Ingredients of Successful Businesses

Have you ever wondered if there’s one most important technique or approach most small business owners use for success? There’s not! But there are some essential ingredients that go into building almost every successful small business. You can see some of those essential ingredients by checking out the list of tips from members of our small business community below.

Become an Empowered Business Owner

Empowerment is a key ingredient of running a successful business. Whether you’re a woman or a man, you need to find ways to empower yourself through a variety of sources, as this CorpNet post by Nellie Akalp points out.

Find the Right Marketing Channels to Focus On

If you want your marketing efforts to be effective, then you need to find the best channels for your business. This post by Sherice Jacob on the Kissmetrics blog explores how businesses can go about finding the right marketing channels in 2017.

Don’t See Yourself as Unemployed

Entrepreneurs often look at things differently. Sometimes, they even look at their own employment differently, as Rachel Strella of Strella Social Media discusses in this post. BizSugar members also discuss the concept further here.

Embark on an Outreach Campaign

To get your business in front of more potential consumers, you need to reach out to people. And you can do that through an outreach campaign, as outlined in this Getentrepreneurial.com post by Derek Iwasiuk.

Comment to Build Your Brand and Traffic

Blogging for your business isn’t just about creating your own original content. You can also build your brand and grow your traffic by commenting on other blogs. Ann Smarty offers tips for doing just that in this MyBlogU post.

Get to Profitability Faster

Most small businesses start out with slim to no profits. But you can get to profitability faster if you follow the tips in this Fundera Ledger post by Billie Ann Grigg. You can also see input from members of the BizSugar community here.

Use These Cohesive Mobile App Strategies

In 2017, having a mobile strategy is no longer optional. And mobile apps can be a great way to bolster your mobile presence. This Techlofy post by Alesia Nik goes over some cohesive mobile app strategies you can use for your business in 2017.

Stop Your Team From Missing Deadlines

Making deadlines is absolutely essential for businesses to function properly. And you can help your team stay on track with those deadlines by setting up recurring tasks, as Benjamin Brandall details in this Process Street post.

Nurture Leads Using Business Intelligence Data

In order to nurture leads and make smart business decisions, you need to have all the available information at your disposal. That’s where business intelligence data comes in. Learn more about using that data in this Target Marketing post by Rohan Ayyar. Then see what the BizSugar community has to say about the post.

Learn About These Common Dilemmas and Their Solutions

Dilemmas are going to be part of running any small business. But if you learn some of the common ones, along with how to solve them, you can give your business an advantage. Check out some of those common dilemmas for 2017 in this SMB CEO post by Erin Feldman.

If you’d like to suggest your favorite small business content to be considered for an upcoming community roundup, please send your news tips to: sbtips@gmail.com.

Ingredients photo via Shutterstock

This article, “10 Essential Ingredients of Successful Businesses” was first published on Small Business Trends