USCIS recently released some updated reports about the EB-5 visa program, confirming our feeling that 2014 was a banner year for EB-5. In the 2014 fiscal year (October 1-September 30), 10,923 I-526 petitions were filed, a 72% increase over one year prior. 2015 is already on track to surpass 2014: in Q1, 2,941 I-526 petitions were filed.
China remains the overwhelming leader in EB-5. In FY2014, 9,128 immigrants – or about 85% of all EB-5 visas issued during the year – originated in mainland China. I found this report particularly interesting, which breaks down EB-5 visas by nation of origin as well as investment type: direct or via a Regional Center as well as within or outside the boundaries of a Targeted Employment Area (TEA). Just one visa recipient invested through a Regional Center outside the boundaries of a TEA, while 10,375 out of the total 10,692 EB-5 visas issued (or 97%!) went to investors who had created jobs in a TEA and invested through a Regional Center.
Here’s the thing: your time is limited. You get 24 hours in each day, seven days in each week, 12 months in each year. And you only get so many years. Annie Dillard writes (wisely and unsettlingly) that “how we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives.” Ultimately, none of us want to have spent our lives reading celebrity gossip blogs and worrying about the emails we haven’t responded to yet.
This is so important for entrepreneurs. You are pulled in a million directions at once: that supplier contract needs renegotiating, quarterly taxes are due, you’re outgrowing your current office, sales are inexplicably down this quarter, husband’s calling for the third time today, maybe it’s finally time to think about that data migration cloud thing your IT guy is trying to sell you on. If you can’t avoid the pitfalls of procrastination, distraction, and becoming mired in minutia, you’re sunk.
There’s no shortage of products, books, webinars, apps, listicles, and coaching services out there designed to help people develop better habits around using their time. But it turns out, for me at least, it didn’t need to be so complicated. These three things made the difference:
- Make a weekly to-do list. This doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. I use an old-timey bound paper planner that shows seven days across a single page spread, and I write my to-do list right there on Monday every week.
- Set a timer. It is so frighteningly easy to get distracted, especially if you (like most of us) work at or near a computer connected to the internet. When I need to focus intently on a project, I set a timer for 90 minutes, promising myself that after the timer goes off I can take as long a break as I need. It’s incredible what can get done in 90 focused minutes.
- Work when it works. I am a confirmed Morning Person (the kind who gets up before dawn on weekends sans alarm), so I try to do my most challenging and important work in the morning and save the afternoon for mindless tasks and errands. Figure out what works for you.
The point of all this isn’t just to maximize productivity at all costs (although that side effect certainly is nice). It’s more about taking your life back. By taking control of how you spend your day, you reassert control over your own life; heady stuff for a topic that is routinely delegated to the bottom of the corporate quarterly review checklist.
First, it was manufacturing. Then, those automated checkout stations at the grocery store. And now, alas, the grinding wheel of virtual economy progress has finally turned to us, your business planners. This morning, a number of enormous, mysteriously marked crates arrived at the office, closely followed by Upper Management wearing their Sunday Project Sweatpants and carrying a roll of hex wrenches in a comprehensive array of sizes.
By mid-morning, the BusinessBot was beginning to take shape. While I was loitering in the break room I snuck a glance at the user’s manual, and my heart sank. It does everything. It talks to entrepreneurs on the phone, its dulcet tones inspiring confidence and risk-taking at every turn. It builds byzantine financial models that capture cash flow fluctuations down to the hour. It writes plans – four at a time! – with the flair of Calvin Trillin and the deft confidence of a veteran newsroom journalist. It has already RSVP’d to our annual building picnic and volunteered to serve on the Safety Committee. I’m reasonably sure it made the coffee I’m drinking right now, and it’s not even fully assembled.
It was disconcerting at first, but I think we’ve come around. What is an end if not a new beginning? Pavel immediately started tinkering with the BusinessBot and got it to generate a hybrid Hand and Stone/Subway concept perfect for stress-eaters looking to really unwind. Kelly sent a few texts and announced that she was leaving on the first plane to New York to take a position as Crispin Glover’s personal assistant.
Jon’s already on his way to the Nevada hills with nothing but a sturdy pair of boots and a dog-eared copy of The Complete Guide to Building with Rocks and Stone, and Mindy just sighed contentedly and went back to bed, relieved that she can finally focus on her burgeoning freelance career as a composer of humorous metered poetry. (I hear “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” has been courting her for weeks to take over their limerick program.)
Brock just invited us all to his one-man progressive metal band’s first gig. He goes by “Florida Man,” and I hear his first album, Swamp Side of the Moon, is set to drop in 2016. And me? I’m planning to fully embrace obsolescence and start Portland’s first brick-and-mortar telegram business (we also repair VCRs). Just as soon as I finish this amazing cup of coffee.