What Are You Waiting For?

doitnowMaking the decision to start a business is quite easy. You think of the service or product you want to offer to your clients, and decide you’re going to start a business to fill that need.

There. You’re done. You made the decision to start a business.

The difficult part comes next. When are you going to start it? During conversations with those thinking about starting a home inventory business, I hear many “reasons” why they can’t do it right now. There is quite often a statement that goes like this:

I want to start my home inventory business, but I have to wait until…

  • the kids are in school.
  • the kids are out of school.
  • the kids are out of college.
  • I have some money.
  • I have the time.
  • I retire.
  • I semi-retire.
  • my wife/husband retires.
  • we sell our house.
  • we finish remodeling the house.
  • I get done with the training for my new job.
  • I get a different job so I have more free time.

All of these are excuses, not reasons. There is never the perfect time to start a business. You won’t ever have all your ducks in a row, just clearing the way for the absolutely perfect time. However, if you wait too long, you will look back and wonder why you waited. In one year, two years, three years, or even twenty years from now, you’ll either still be waiting for the right time, or you’ll be a business owner. Either way, those years will go by. What will you be doing with those years? Deciding to start a business, or actually owning a business?

What are you waiting for? No need to wait for that goal, that dream. Start now and make it happen!


Just One More

OneMoreThere is a fine line between success and failure. Entrepreneurs and business owners have walked this line many times. Often it’s as close as just one more step instead of stopping. Instead of letting your dreams stay dreams rather than becoming reality. Instead of settling for something less. Instead of giving up.

If you’re facing some struggles, not quite achieving the success you are working towards, you might wonder how long you should keep going? Or, a better question is: how soon is too soon to stop the pursuit?

Consider how close you might be if you give it just …

  • One more sales call
  • One more phone call
  • One more offer
  • One more networking event
  • One more appointment
  • One more letter
  • One more step
  • One more email
  • One more introduction
  • One more quote
  • One more proposal
  • One more day of your time

If it’s in your heart for success, don’t quit and wonder what might have been. There is always “one more” in you. Don’t live the rest of your life wondering what if you had only given it one more …

Entrepreneurship – Two Sides To The Story

ExhaustedMany people want to own a business, or at least like the idea of the freedom of being a business owner. So why is it that many start a business and give up, often before they have given themselves a chance to succeed?

You can find the answer by reading articles that state how difficult it is to start and grow a business. Comments include that you’ll have years of long hours that are required to create a successful business. Days turn into nights and you don’t even notice you’ve been “at it” for so long without a break. Social lives are put on hold while your new business consumes you. The daily grind, especially in the beginning, can be grueling.  You have meetings, phone calls, letters, emails, networking events … the list of things that demand your time is enormous. The learning curve can be long, resulting in a lack of sufficient revenue.

Then all of a sudden, what seemed like a really wonderful idea turns into a life of commitment and dedication that wasn’t expected. Being in the trenches of starting and building a business is hard work. It takes perseverance. It takes confidence in yourself and in your product or service. And it takes motivation.

So what keeps entrepreneurs going?

A positive response from an email or letter, a meeting that you know will help you move forward, and a connection you made at a networking event all provide renewed energy because they bring you one step closer to success. The long hours begin to prove worth everything you’ve given.

This new-found energy provides fuel for your motivation gene (if there is such a thing). The motivation gets you energized so you can continue to press on. You know the result will eventually be a sale. Then another sale, and another, and you’re on your way!

Finally, exhaustion, frustration, and self-doubt are replaced by success. The question is, are you willing to go through the tough times, the sleepless nights, lack of funds, and the resulting stress to achieve success?



Remove “If” and “But” From Your Vocabulary

If ButThese two words – IF  and BUT are small but extremely powerful.

Powerful in the most negative way.

The little 2-letter word, “if” enables you to be passive. If you’re a procrastinator, it is probably one of your favorite words because it gives you permission to not move forward. Here are some examples of how “if” can hold you back:

  • I could get a new job IF …
  • I could start my own business IF …
  • I would achieve success IF …

Take any scenario of wanting to improve, be successful, be more successful, or make it to the next level of employment and the enabling word “if” can give you the excuse not to achieve. When you think “if” it is as if someone else has control of what comes next. You are choosing to be passive and not work towards the next step in your life. The word “if” can be the door that someone else has to open for you.

And as if “if” isn’t enough to cause issues, there’s the word “but” that can be even more harmful. Worse than just being passive using “if” as a crutch, “but” can bring negativity into your thoughts that quite likely encourage you to decide to stop working towards success. It can basically result in you giving up. Rather than the “if” door being opened by that “if” possibility, the “but” becomes a deadbolt on the door.

Consider these same statements with this horrible word:

  • I could get a new job BUT …
  • I could start my own business BUT …
  • I would achieve success BUT …

When using “but” you are unfortunately telling yourself that no matter what, you can’t. There isn’t even an “if” possibility. It stops you right here, right now.

So, if you are unable to accomplish any of these scenarios – or any other goal you have – right now, what word should you use instead of “if” or “but” to think about your future success? How about the word “when” instead? When is empowering. There is no doubt that it will happen, just the question of when it will.

Using the “start a new business” example, this shows the difference these words can make.

  • I could start my own business, IF … (it’s possible when receiving assistance)
  • I could start my own business, BUT … (that just about says you can’t)
  • I could start my own business, WHEN … (there is a goal at the end of this sentence)

Starting a business, becoming an entrepreneur, buying a business, or any other dream or goal for success you have can be thwarted by these two very little words. Small as they are, they have  consequences when you allow them into your vocabulary. Success is yours (whatever you define success to be), not “if” or “but.”



A Simple Formula for Success

formulaStory problems in math class were not my strong point. Just give me the numbers, tell me what I’m supposed to do with them, and I could add, subtract, multiply and divide with the best of them. But give me a story that I need to figure out BEFORE doing the math, and I just wanted to give up.

Fast forward more than 40 years, and I now see why those math problems benefited me. They made me think! They made me understand the big picture and encouraged me to look at events, how each step in the story affected the other, and then enabled me to decipher what it meant. Only then did it all come together to allow me to get the correct answer. Each piece og that math puzzle had a specific purpose to get me to the successful end result.

Now that I’ve chosen the entrepreneurial path, I have my own math story, and the guaranteed end result. Over the years developing a home inventory business and now also a licensing agreement (an alternative to a franchise) for the home inventory industry,  I figured out the main elements that create a formula to success, and want to share it with you now.

Success formula

My formula for success is D+E+B=R. Now, I’m not going to ask you to determine if D and E and B were such-and-such, then what would R be? I can tell you if either D, E, or B were missing, you probably will not achieve R.

So what is each part of this success formula? Success as an entrepreneur or business owner requires a lot of D first of all. D stands for DESIRE. Without a desire to achieve, there is nothing to move you forward. Wanting to be successful is nothing but a dream; desire puts momentum behind it.

The E in this formula is EFFORT. Effort is the momentum placed toward the desire for success. Effort is required to get moving, or you’ll be sitting comfortably in your recliner thinking about, wishing for, hoping you will become successful. Without effort, no fire is lit, and you’ll continue to sit in your chair dreaming.

B represents BELIEF, which is, of course, essential. You can have all the desire and effort in the world, but if you don’t believe in yourself or your dream, you’ll never get there. Without belief, you’ll give up. You might “try” something for a bit, giving it a little effort, but the first small defeat will stop you. When your belief isn’t strong enough, you’ll use any small setback as proof to yourself that it was just an unattainable dream after all. True belief in yourself and your goal, though, will take the desire and effort and see it come to fruition.

These three, then, equal R. The R in this formula is RESULT. Have the desire, fuel it with effort, and drive the effort with a deep belief in yourself. Put these three together and success will be the result! D+E+B=R. It’s a simple formula.

The journey won’t always be easy, but the formula to get there is. And anything worth working toward is worth the time, effort, and energy it takes to get there.

Build Relationships to Grow Your Business

referralDo  you find it time consuming and tiring to continually search for a new direct customer? Of course, this is one way to build your business, and should be part of your marketing mix. However, there are other ways to locate potential new clients without the daily grind of cold-calling, networking, and knocking on door after door. A less time-consuming tactic is to develop relationships with referral partners.

An an example, one of my business is a home and business asset inventory service. We provide personal property inventories for many reasons, one being prepared for a disaster. This prepared document will assist our client by providing proof of ownership and identifying information when it’s time to file an insurance claim. Though I do network, and discuss my business with individuals, it is easier for me to locate my prospective client base through an insurance agent. The insurance agents know who has a “be prepared” attitude, who values what they own, and who understands that without an inventory they will most likely not recover sufficiently to replace all that was lost. The relationships established with a number of insurance agents provide a continued, and much appreciated, stream of new clients. Without their referrals, the odds are high that their clients would not know of our service, or would hesitate to call us.

Identify key professionals

Building relationships with any segment of the business community can be beneficial for any industry. Identify the key professionals who could refer business your way, and you both win. They now have a trusted resource that they can confidently refer to their clients, and you are now receiving referred business without spending as much time one-on-one with prospects.

Of course, you will always need to find the direct customer, but how nice it is to have phone calls coming in saying, “so-and-so suggested I call you.” Not only are they referred by their trusted advisor, but often they have already decided to purchase your service.  Since I found this to be a solid process to grow my inventory business, we have perfected this process and now share our procedures with our Licensees of Nationwide Inventory Professionals.

If you don’t use this type of method to build your customer base, think of who would be an excellent referral partner. You can also find people for whom you would be a good referral source. You’ll be building relationships, while helping each other build your businesses. It’s an easier and quicker avenue to success!

Forget About Technology

kicking computerTechnology is a wonderful thing for entrepreneurs. The convenience of email, texting, cell phones, and even being friends and followers on social media platforms have all made it so easy to stay in touch with clients and prospective clients. The (what used to be difficult) task of staying in contact is now extremely easy. From regularly scheduled email newsletters to scheduled social media posts, you can reach your entire database without much effort. For more personal communication, you can call them while you’re in the car. If you have developed a comfortable relationship, even texting a quick hello might be appropriate.

Has technology made it too easy? Has it encouraged business owners to become complacent when it comes to developing a special business relationship?

Kick technology to the curb

Using all the technology available to you makes sense for convenience, time management, and being able to reach a larger number people in a shorter amount of time. But there is still a need for one-on-one interaction. Considered the difference it would make if you really made your business relationships personal. Just once in a while, make that special effort. There are easy ways to do this that don’t take up much time. But the payoff is exceptional! Some ideas are:

  • Invite them to attend a networking event with you.
  • Meet them for a cup of coffee to learn what is happening with them and their business.
  • You have to eat, so why not meet over lunch?
  • Call them just to say hello.
  • When you’re out running errands or going to an appointment and you’re close to their office, “pop in” to say hello. (If you just drop by, be sure not to spend much time there, since you don’t have an appointment and will most likely be interrupting their day.

Imagine what an impression you’d make if you did any of the above once in a while.

What if you stop by and they aren’t in or are in a meeting? No problem; just leave your card and ask that your card be passed on. Write a note on the back “just dropping by to stay in touch.”

Make it part of your routine

There are simple ways to incorporate this into your routine. I know it works because I have implemented some of these suggestions into my home inventory business. One possibility is to take one morning or afternoon a month and map out a section of town, then determine how many stops you can make. An even less time-consuming process would be to add one stop every time you go to a meeting, a luncheon, or to another client’s office. Which client or prospect is on the way or close by? Put it on your calendar so you don’t forget. A few extra minutes added to every trip you take will be a minimal commitment, but one that can pay off quite well in customer retention, building a strong relationship with a referral source, or creating the opportunity to turn a prospect into a client.

Technology plays a major role in the business world, but it’s important to remember that people buy from people – people they like, know, and trust.

That One Dirty Word

dirtywordThere is one word that I don’t allow myself to use, and strongly encourage others not to use it, either. And, surprisingly, it’s not a 4-lettter word. It is actually just a 2-letter word. That big dirty word is “if.”

In fact, this small little word can be one of the most destructive. When you think of the obstacles that this word creates, it is one of the biggest words in the English language. Why? Because it can stop you in your tracks when working on a goal. Or, it can give you the incorrect belief that you actually are working on your goal, when actually you have it floating around in la-la land.

Goals, as we know, have a few specifics to be a good goal. One of those specifications is having a deadline. When thinking, writing, or talking about your goals, the word “if” takes away not only the act of achieving it, but it can also put you in a state of never-achieving.

The state of never-achieving

When you have a mindset of “if,” it leaves you with the choice to opt out of responsibilities to take control of your life. Relying on the word “if” is enabling you to accept failure. I experienced this first-hand when starting our home inventory business many years ago. I would think to myself that I will schedule an inventory service if I am comfortable that I am ready for business. I also thought that I would start to promote the business if I’m sure I have all the answers to people’s questions. These “if” statements gave me the excuse to not move forward and get out of my comfort zone. There was always an “if” allowing me to procrastinate.

Remove “if” from your vocabulary

If is a very big word for being only 2 letters. It is huge, actually, because of the impact that word can have on your success.

  • I’ll do this, if I can do that first.
  • I will complete “x” by this date if I have time.
  • I would start working on my new business  idea if I had any idea what I want to do.
  • I’ll make this change to my business if I earn enough money.

What would happen to your goals and desire to be successful if you used “when” instead of “if” and included a concrete statement of when? See how these weak statements become more powerful:

  • I’ll do this, when I complete that first.
  • I will complete “x” by this date when I set aside 2 hours each evening to work on it.
  • I will start working on my new business idea when I finish researching my options.
  • I’ll make this change to my business when I earn “x” dollars.

What happened when you replaced the word “if” with “when”? All of a sudden you have a new outlook. You won’t be living an “if” life. Instead, when you use “when,” you are telling yourself that it will happen. When requires a date on the calendar or the achievement of a particular event to allow you to move forward. When is action, giving yourself the desire to move forward. If gives you permission to remain where you are … dreaming instead of doing.

When enables you to take action. You no longer think “if” you can do something, but you will focus on “when” you will do it. This creates a strong belief that it will happen, rather than “well, just maybe I might.” Take the word “if” out of your vocabulary as a first step toward success.


Lack – You Can Get Rid Of It

I canWhen in conversation with fellow entrepreneurs and business owners, many  comment that they lack enough business. Do you hear yourself saying that you lack enough time, lack enough help, lack enough money, lack enough sales?

Have you considered that when you constantly focus on what you lack and always talk about it that you might be – in a way – accepting it? Of course, I guess it’s easier to talk about it than to actually do something about it. When I hear this constant drone of lacking so many things that I wonder why people bother keeping their business! When constantly complaining about what you lack, in essence you are failing to see all the good things that come with being your own boss.

Rather than thinking you don’t have enough, or that you need more (however you want to look at it), consider looking at the situation another way. One of the suggestions we give our Licensees when they seem to hit a wall, is to step back and look at their business from a different angle.

Rather than looking at it from the angle of “I don’t have,” the next time you start thinking that you can’t achieve something, instead, ask yourself “How can I…”

  • find more business?
  • get more done in the time I have?
  • get help with this project?
  • increase my revenues?
  • add a new service?
  • give more value to my clients?

By not saying that you don’t have, take the issue, and address it from another angle – ask yourself how you can have. Take away the “I can’t” attitude and replace it with an “I can” focus. This way, you’re not telling yourself that you don’t have something you need. You are, instead, opening your mind to possibilities that can bring you what you need and want.

I’m confident you won’t lack some very good ideas. And when applied, you won’t lack success, either.

Why Did You Choose To Do This?

WhyOver the past 10 years, I have been asked this question, or a similar one, so many times I can’t even venture a guess.

“Why did you decide to do inventories?”

“With all the choices, why did you pick such an unknown industry?”

“Why did you you pick a home inventory business?”

“Why did you choose this as your business?

Whatever the exact wording, it is the same question. And my answer is always the same. After two burglaries, and two financial losses, it became apparent that we – and everyone else – need to know what they own. Before establishing Hartman Inventory, we did our due diligence by talking to insurance agents and victims of fires, thefts, and natural disasters. What we learned was exactly what we suspected. Very few people had an  inventory of their contents. We didn’t until our first burglary. Then, thinking it’ll never happen again, we chose not to bother creating our inventory. Unfortunately, it did happen again, and the 2nd time a much larger loss! You know the saying, “first time, shame on you…second time, shame on me.” Well, that was where we were, and once our claim was settled, decided to create our own home inventory.

Unfortunately, most people don’t even know they need to have this information documented. That is, until it’s too late. Loss happens, and people are devastated.

After years of honing our process, it was time to help others who want to start a business. Our business package shares knowledge and experience we’ve gained since 2004. It includes so much more, but I won’t go into that right now – you can find out why it’s called the premier mentoring and licensing program in our industry here if you want to know more.

And now I am asking the “why” question to those who inquire about starting their own inventory business. Their “why” is a familiar story. They either had personal experience, or have seen a friend or relative go through the recovery process after a loss. They tell us they want to help others by providing an inventory service.

There are two key driving forces for those entering this industry – 1) they had a loss/have someone close who had a loss, and 2) they want to help people.

What a great industry with which to be associated – people taking their own experience of loss and destruction, and finding a way to serve others so they can choose not to face that possibility.

How about you? Are you a soon-to-be entrepreneur? What is it that is pulling toward a specific industry or sector of an industry? What is your why?

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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.