How Flexible is Flexible?

You read a lot about franchises and business opportunities that say you will have “flexible hours” when you choose to invest in their industry. There are also many businesses that state that you can have control over your time – that you can set your own hours.

This is not necessarily true. For instance, if you are going to start a brick-and-mortar business that has regular hours, you will be required to work those hours as stated. That, or have someone you trust to run the business for you. Let’s be honest here, at least in the beginning, you will be the one making sure all is well. So, in this scenario, you will not be able to set your own hours or have flexible hours. You will have to commit to serve your clients as promised.

In our business, we are a lot more flexible than a retail store or other company that has posted hours. The asset inventory industry provides the service at the clients’ homes and businesses, so no “regular” hours are necessary. But you are at the beck and call of your client. This is where the flexibility comes in. Flexible when it comes to not being committed to be “on site” or in the store 9-5 every day. But in the end, it is the client who chooses what time you work.

Many times, when scheduling an inventory for our inventory service, we help create our own flexibility by, or in other words, choose what hours we work, by stating what days we have available. It is rare that we offer a Saturday or Sunday. If the client asks about weekends, we are very willing to work those days, but we don’t automatically offer them. We also don’t like to work in the evenings, so we suggest day hours only. Again, if the client needs an evening inventory, we are more than happy to oblige.

In the end, if you choose to work in the service industry – no matter what type of service – you can be more flexible that other industries. Ultimately, though, you must cater to your client’s schedule.

So, when business opportunities and franchises state that you can set your own hours, they are telling the truth.  You do have control to be as flexible as you choose. What if a client demands a day or hours that you absolutely do not want to work? Since you own the business, you can always turn down those jobs. That, my dear readers, is flexibility! It could also be the demise of your business.

When preparing to start a business, this can be a huge element of your decision-making process. Know how flexible, what the industry as a whole demands, and what others face when scheduling their clients.

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How To Know Who To Trust

TrustIt’s the start of another year. If you are like the majority, you are realizing that once again your dream of starting a business was put on the back burner. The days passed and 2014 came to a close without any serious action taken. You might be no further along with that dream than exactly that – just being a dream. Will it sit again for another year? Or will you focus and start working toward business ownership? Just taking small steps is better than letting it gather dust.

Where do you start? You probably already know what you want to do, but haven’t decided who you want to help you get started. For most industries, there are many options available. You can, of course, start on your own without any help from anyone. The true entrepreneur, creating your processes and procedures, developing your marketing materials, making all the decisions!

Most people, thought, realize that they need help. If you’re working full time while working toward your dream, you will need assistance just due to the time factor. How do you know which product or service will serve you best? How do you know what company will serve your needs?

This is a common topic when discussing one of my companies, Nationwide Inventory Professionals. Often people inquire about the business package and licensing agreement when doing their due diligence before starting a home and business inventory company. We exchange multiple emails and have a few discussions regarding what we have to offer, so each person can compare our product and service to the software packages, start-up kits, and any other assistance they might be considering. Proper due diligence can help them make the right decision. It can help you make the right decision.

The right decision for one might not be the right decision for another – the prime reason each person must do their own due diligence. Questions to ask (for any product or service) might include:

  • What makes you an expert in your field?
  • What is your support/customer service policy?
  • How soon will I be ready to be in business?
  • What is your guarantee?
  • What is the cost?
  • What other expenses will I incur?
  • Who should I call if I have questions?
  • How soon should I expect a response?
  • Who do I trust to help me meet my goals?

These are key items you’ll want to have answers to before you make your investment. Listen to their words, but also listen to their voice. Do they sound sincere? Do you believe they are answering your questions honestly? Do they respond to your emails? Do they call you back after you leave a message? Their actions speak volumes.

The most important of all the above questions is the one that asks “Who do I trust to help me meet my goals?” Do they display that sense of trust?

To help you learn more about the company and the owners/managers, follow them on social media. This can tell you a lot about the people and the organization. One of the best comments shared by a current Licensee of Nationwide Inventory Professionals explains why this is important. “I followed you for a couple months on Facebook and found you’re the type of person I want to do business with.”  Read what others are saying about them. Obviously, you’ll learn a lot about someone –  who you want to do business with; who you can trust.

You’re making a big decision. Be sure all of your questions and concerns are addressed. When you have gained a level of trust, then you’ll know you’ve chosen the right person and company to work with.

Ready, Set, Go!

ReadySetGoIt’s the new year. With it comes the many articles, blog posts, and conversations on social media about starting anew. New job. New exercise program. New diet. New goals. New promises. New business venture. New life.

I’ve always wondered why people wait until January 1. I hear “When the new year gets here, I’m going to ….” (insert just about anything here). When that statement is made, I can see someone at the starting line of a race, looking at their watch, waiting for the clock to tick to 12:00 midnight.

Why wait to get started? You might want to look at it this way: waiting has really put you behind.

Get started now

Waiting has put you behind? Behind what? Behind in achieving the result you’re seeking, behind in achieving your goal – whether that goal is eating healthier, losing weight, finding a new job, starting a business – whatever you are waiting for January 1 to begin. And since January 1 is now history, does that mean you should wait another 11 months before you begin? Absurd!

Yes, January 1st is a milestone of sorts. But only on a calendar. It’s not really any different than any other day – it’s just another 24 hours to use as you choose. Waiting for the “big day” to come along, in reality, has delayed your success. How many big things could you have already started?  Where would you be with your new idea, new goal, new focus, new you, new business, new lifestyle, if you started it when you thought of it? You might be 3 or 6 months into your new success by now, rather than waiting for that special day to define the new beginning.

The day you start your new venture (or adventure if you want to look at it that way) is a milestone day. THAT is a special day. Defined by you.

Starting a Business is Like Learning a Board Game

boardgameHave you ever purchased or received a board game as a gift? I’m sure just about everyone has. If you aren’t familiar with it, and you don’t have someone to teach you the rules, it can be a tedious process to read and understand all the directions.

Many times, even when the instructions sound quite simple, they turn out to be quite complex when applying them action. It can be frustrating, frequently taking away the anticipated fun and excitement. You often have to play a few “practice” games with your opponents to figure it out before you begin playing “for real.” Sometimes, you just feel like you want to quit before you get started – or you do quit. This often results in losing out on a lot of fun. If you just had the right person to help you get started!

The same is true in business. Some of the questions you have can be quite similar to those when learning the rules of the new game:

  • How many people are required?
  • Is it a game of chance or skill?
  • What do I need to do or know before I begin?
  • How long does it usually take to finish the game (… complete a website, create marketing materials, develop a prospect list, etc.)?
  • What if I get stuck; who can help me?
  • If I run out of tokens, cards, chips, how do I get more?

The problem is, when starting a business you aren’t likely to get to practice first before you start. Your investment is made whether you win or lose. The best way to begin is to have someone who has played the game before, who can teach you what they know, and help you maneuver around the board to be successful. You are more likely to win when you have someone guiding you.

A franchise or similar business model can be that guide.  Our business package and licensing agreement is exactly that. Our years of knowledge are included in the manual, along with continued support and mentoring. When there are questions like those listed above, we provide the answers.

  • How many people are required? We help our licensees decide the best business model for them, their goals, and the industry.
  • Is it a game of chance or skill? Definitely skill and knowledge.
  • What do I need to do or know before I begin? Nothing – we help, every step of the way.
  • How long does it usually take to finish the game (… complete a website, create marketing materials, design a logo, etc.)? Your marketing materials will be ready within 30 days!
  • What if I get stuck; who can help me? We offer unlimited mentoring and support.

Most quality business packages offer this type of assistance. That’s why it’s well worth the investment.

No need for trial-and-error; we already did that. No need for practicing; we already did that. No need to make costly mistakes; we already did that. You start right the first time, without needing do-overs. Your investment comes with instructions!

 

 

The Best Gift To Give Yourself

GiftTagSo many people have the dream of starting a business. Often they make that statement – wistfully, I might add – and with a sad type of grin, then they add … some day. You can see it in their eyes that they truly want this dream to come true.

I have heard many state that they want to own their own company … some day. They want to have independence … some day. They have a dream of not working for “the man” … some day. They will go out on their own … some day. They will become a [insert your chosen field here] … some day.

It doesn’t matter exactly how the desire of a different life is stated, it all comes down to wanting to have the freedom, joy, and ultimately the pride that comes with owning your own business.

Why not now? This is the season of gift-giving.

Give yourself the gift of your dream.

Only you can make it come true. I speak from experience, because I dreamed of owning my own business since I was in high school. When did I finally do it? When I was in my mid-50’s! I waited too long. I spent way too many years being unhappy, stifled, restricted. I listened to all the excuses I keep feeding myself, believing them to be good reasons. They weren’t. And now I am helping others achieve their dream of business ownership. That means I am consistently receiving a gift from myself.

So go ahead – give yourself the gift of starting your own business! Give yourself the pride you know you’ll feel. There is no better time than now.

 

 

When Your Schedule has “No Vacancy”

NoVacancyI love to travel, and we usually make reservations prior to our departure. We plan our trip, reserve hotel rooms, purchase plane tickets, and reserve a car weeks before we are leaving. However, sometimes our plans change (deciding to stay longer is the usual reason). Then we wonder if we’ll find a hotel with a vacancy. Seeing a flashing “no vacancy” sign can cause a lot of stress while traveling down the highway.

This same stress can be caused when an entrepreneur or business owner has a schedule that has no vacancy. What I mean by that is if you fill your schedule up each day to the full limit of your allotted time, you are risking being over-booked. This falls in line with my previous post about work/life balance.

Never schedule to capacity

We’ve all been there. You are waiting to begin boarding your plane when the announcement tells you that the plane is over-booked. The frustration and often anger are apparent in everyone. Who will have to give up their seat if no one offers? If you offer, will you be inconveniencing those waiting for your arrival? What will that do to their plans?

Relate this to your calendar. If you book meetings back-to-back, and one runs longer than anticipated, you have only two choices: you can either cut the first one short and possibly lose momentum, or 2) you can be late for your next meeting. Either way, you lose! Allowing extra time between meetings will give a buffer so this doesn’t happen (or it will rarely happen). The same with scheduling phone calls. Leave more time than you expect each call to take.

Create vacancies

If you work an eight-hour day, only schedule six or seven hours of calendar time. Why? If a meeting runs long, or a phone call takes more time than you expect, you can handle it without stress. Also, if an emergency arises, you’ll have time to address it, usually without having to reschedule something on your calendar.

Often others won’t follow these “vacancy” guidelines and this will cause an issue with your schedule. You’ll get a call asking if you can reschedule. If you were booked the solid eight hours for the rest of the week, you will have to tell them you cannot reschedule, or you’ll be required to reschedule someone else to fit this person in. That might not go over very well with that other person, and will certainly begin a domino effect that could go on for a long time until you get caught up on all the things you had to shuffle. And that doesn’t take into consideration the time you spent doing all the rescheduling!

The hour or more that you leave open on your calendar each day will allow you to almost always have the “vacancy” light on. When something happens that doesn’t allow a vacancy, you’ll be able to handle quite well because you know it is the exception and not the rule.

Also – and this is extremely important – other professionals will respect you for being on time, not rushing in at the last minute or not having to apologize for being late. You’ll also be admired for your ability to accommodate changes when necessary and not frequently asking to reschedule a meeting.

If the day goes well and nothing happened to fill in that extra hour or two, you just booked yourself a vacancy on your calendar to do as you choose.

Having Balance Is A Balancing Act

We hbalanceear it every day. Someone, somewhere, is talking about work/life balance. Employees are sometimes asked (told) to work overtime. Business owners feel they must work an exorbitant amount of hours to become successful. Where is the answer?

Most of us need to work, and want to. Whether employed by an employer or self-employed, it’s a powerful feeling to know that you are taking control of your life and providing for yourself and your family.

We also want to have a life! We want to spend time with family and friends. We need time to relax, read, exercise, watch a movie, and take a few days or a week a few times a year to just get away. The trick is to find out how to have both. You might have heard the saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” I would add tired and frustrated, too.

Too many hours can be stressful

Working too many hours can be stressful – physically and emotionally. When you start a business, it is expected that long hours will come along with it. But that excess should begin to wane after a reasonable time. If it continues on too long, you risk losing the work/life balance to the point it can affect your health, you can alienate your family, and often lose valuable friendships.

It is necessary to take time to relax, chill, rest, have down time. But what about your clients? What happens when you aren’t working? How will all the work get done?

You can’t ignore your clients

When discussing the lack of balance in their lives, many entrepreneurs state that they need to to spend all that time to serve their clients properly. It is important to create the balance without risking losing your clients, and that is the issue. This was a learning process for me after creating our business package for asset inventory professionals. I found myself mentoring and advising other business owners as well as continuing to run my own business. Trust me … I learned the hard way!

Taking care of yourself will help you take better care of your clients. When you’re alert and energized, you are more accurate, more “in the moment” with what’s on your mind, and you have the creativity you need to run your business. At the same time, it is extremely important to remain focused and on track with deadlines and promises to others – especially your clients. If you don’t, you risk losing those clients. And without clients, you certainly won’t have a business!

So, we’ve determined it’s necessary to have a work/life balance. We also now agree (I hope you agree) that you can’t just start taking time off without making preparations to continue to serve your clients properly.

3 questions to help you achieve the balance

Once it’s determined that you’re working too many hours, which has your work/life balance way too heavy on the work side, it’s time to make some changes. Give your work schedule a thorough review, and ask these questions:

  • Is there a better/faster way to do specific tasks?
  • What am I doing that I can stop doing?
  • What can I hand off to someone else (hire sub-contractors)?

These 3 questions helped me recover a few hours a day!

Be honest with yourself. You are probably doing some tasks that you can stop doing. If you’re not sure, quit for a month and see if it has impacted your business in any way. If you are attending meetings that bring little to no benefit to your business, stop going. Your time is valuable. Others can take some tasks off your plate and do them more efficiently, thus giving yourself more time to do what you do best.

The balance is difficult to maintain, but it is worth it to your business, your family, your friends, and most importantly, to yourself.

Start Your Business – Do Not Be Afraid

afraidAs many of you know, it took my wife and I years before we took the dream of owning our own business to heart and moved forward with it. Our excuse was that life got in the way. We got married, had kids, then had the corresponding bills of raising our two sons. It was just never the right time.

But looking back, those were excuses to hide our real excuse. (I’ll share that with you in a minute.)

I wondered what held others back, what it was that kept them from pursuing the goal of business ownership. So, we asked the following question on social media:

What holds you back from starting a business?

The overwhelming answer was “fear.” Fear of failure. Fear of making mistakes. Fear of not knowing what you’re doing.

If you truly want business ownership, I suggest that you not be afraid. There is no need, in these days of the internet, government programs, business coaches, franchises and quality business packages, to start a business without the resources you need. These resources, and the value and knowledge they will provide for you, can take away those fears.

A proven business system helps remove the fear

Franchises and quality business packages offer so much assistance that some of your fears can be eased. Your mistakes will be lessened because you’ll have the guidance of a proven system for success. You won’t enter the industry not knowing what you’re doing because you’ll have mentors and managers who have gained years of experience and knowledge in the industry of your choice. They’ve made the mistakes when they started out, and are now sharing them with you so you don’t have to go through those trying times.

Fear of failure

The fear of failure is up to you because that’s a head game most entrepreneurs and business owners play. I have lived that fear (this is where I share with you as promised). When you fear failure, you focus on failure. Investing in a business package will give you the skills, knowledge, and mentoring that will help alleviate this fear because you have removed so many other unknowns. But I do need to be clear about this. The fear of failure can only be removed when you choose to let it go.

Let it go!

 

6 Signs You Need Help Starting Your Business

diceThe word entrepreneur used to mean that you start your business from scratch, without the help from any start-up kit, business package, or franchise. However, today, those who start an independent business are typically called an entrepreneur when they choose to create an independent business when they enter a small or not-well-known industry.

We, the asset inventory industry, fall into that “not-well-known” category. Though more and more people are becoming aware of the need for an inventory of the contents in their home or business, asset inventory professionals are still considered trail-blazers.

Why do they need your service?

Not being a well-known, familiar industry could make it a little harder to start an inventory business. People might not know why they need an inventory. They might not see the value in a home or business inventory service. They also might think that since they have insurance, they don’t need an inventory (not true, by the way). People know why a person offers a lawn mowing service. They might need to be educated as to why they need to hire an inventory professional.

In addition to these issues, there is the major task of just getting your business started. And that is true for any industry. Are you the entrepreneur type of person, ready to handle all the behind the scenes tasks yourself, or do you need help getting your business – any business – started?

Six signs you need help starting your business

  1. You don’t know how to create a website (yes, every business needs a presence on the internet).
  2. You can’t write marketing materials.
  3. You struggle with creating processes and procedures.
  4. You aren’t sure how to market the business.
  5. You don’t have months and months to go without revenue while you create the letters, contracts, marketing pieces, and procedures.
  6. You need someone to hold you accountable and coach and/or mentor you.

You can get this help by hiring a web developer, writer, office assistant, lawyer, and business coach. The problem here is that you don’t know what your investment is going to be. How much money will you need to get started and maintain your business?

You can also receive this assistance through investing in a quality business package where you’ll know your investment requirements up front. Most of these packages allow you to be an independent business owner, which enables you to retain your entrepreneurial endeavor. And you will have the processes, procedures, marketing assistance, contract templates, and coach/mentor to help you reach the success you desire.

You Can Start A Business With Zero Dollars

ZeroDollarsWe’ve all seen the ads. They go something like this: “Start a business for less than $100!” or “All you need to start a business for only $500!” and the ever-enticing headline “Start your business with zero dollars!!!” (The three exclamation points are theirs, not mine.)

These ads draw attention, and seem to promise the world to those who desperately want to start a business. You think that now you can achieve your dream of business ownership. Stop and think, though. How much can you really expect to get for $100 – or for nothing?

A difference between starting and being successful

By reviewing and requesting information from many of these ads, I found one thing. They are all telling the truth. You certainly can start a business with zero dollars. However, starting a business, and creating a successful one, are two totally different things. Consider that just deciding to start a business, and saying what you’ll call it, is in essence, starting a business. To this point, it has cost you absolutely nothing. And now you can tell your friends and family that you started a business of your own.

Now, the next step is where the need for funding the business comes in. You will need funds to create marketing materials, business cards, a website, and a newsletter to promote your business. You will most likely need to hire a marketing professional to create these items for you. If you don’t have writing skills, you’ll also need a professional writer to help with the content. Do you have funds for equipment, office supplies, utilities, and insurance? If you’re in a profession that offers certification, licensing, and memberships in organizations, you will definitely want to join and learn from others in your field. Investing in yourself is a well-spent expenditure, and hiring a business coach is a must to ensure that you have the guidance and knowledge you need to move forward with your business. Other items you might want to purchase are logo clothing, advertising, networking memberships – and the list goes on.

Know your total investment

It is a challenge to create a budget when you don’t have a history to know what each of these expenses will cost. Investing in a franchise, business package, or license agreement is often a larger up-front investment, but one that you can budget. Knowing that your financials are in order, you will be able to concentrate on growing your business quickly while receiving the assistance you need through that wise investment. You will most likely be presented with various financing options, too, so you can pay a known, budgeted amount per month rather than facing the unknown when you have to hire multiple professionals to help you create your business.

Discover your hidden entrepreneur.


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Home Inventory – A Guide for Homeowners and Renters

Home Inventory – A
Guide for Homeowners and Renters


The many reasons for a home inventory, plus a do-it-yourself guide and templates.

 

A Business Guide to Asset Inventory

A Business Guide to Asset Inventory
Protecting your company assets.

Copyright 2015 Nationwide Inventory Professionals, LLC © 2013. All Rights Reserved.
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