7 Reasons January Was Disappointing

7Often business owners enter into a new year with strong hopes of this being their best year yet. They anticipate more new clients, resulting in an increase in sales. Then the end-of-month financial report is reviewed and they find a drop in sales and revenue, compared to last year at this time.

If this happened to you, there is a short list of things to consider as possibly being the cause. As you read through these, answer truthfully to yourself. It might shine a light on the situation early enough to recoup quickly. It’s never too late to correct any situation, but the earlier, the better.

As the owner of a home inventory business some of these have happened to me. I have also heard from other home inventory business owners when mentoring our Licensees who work with us as they start and grow their business. Other insights for this blog post have come from friends who are also business owners and home-based business owners in a variety of industries. By speaking with them, I have discovered some common reasons for a business to have a slow month in January. Below are the 7 most frequent causes for this drop in business.

What might have caused a slow start

  1. After the holidays, people are tired and it might take while to get their energy back.
  2. Another cause that can be blamed on the holiday is a loss of routine.  It can take a while to get your routine back, now that normal business hours have begun, and less “partying” or “relaxed atmosphere” is in the office. It can take awhile to get the sales calls and meeting schedules back on track.
  3. You might have stopped doing something that needs to be done. This can be a monthly review of work processes, failure to measure results, maintaining continued contact with current clients, regular postings and conversations on social media – the list of small things that make a difference is endless. If you stop doing them, it can easily show up in the bottom line.
  4. You might have lost interest in what you’re doing. This is huge – so if this is what you think might be happening, it’s time to look at alternatives such as selling the business, hiring a general manager, or taking a few months off to see if you really have lost interest, or if there is another deeper issue.
  5. If you made a lot of changes at once, you and your employees could have lost focus, or are just unable to focus on everything at one time. Pull the reigns in, set priorities, and get back to basics.
  6. The many changes could also result in failed or a lack of communication. Make sure everyone on your team understands what your goals – and theirs – are and how they can each help make it happen.
  7. Your company might have had some bad press. This can be strongly reflected in a loss of sales. Fix it.

If any of these are happening in your company, an honest review will discover them. Maybe more than one is happening at the same time. That’s OK. You have plenty of time to correct it. One month into the year gives you 11 months of great results to enable you to finish the year as you had planned … as your best year yet.

 

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New Jersey Licensee Has Focus and Desire

After a year of research, John Rogerson announces the opening of Rogerson Inventory, serving New Jersey, Southeastern New York, and Southeastern Pennsylvania.

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Starting his own personal property inventory business was a decision that John Rogerson did not make overnight. After extensive research and deliberation, a decision was made; Rogerson Inventory LLC, a personal property inventory service launched on January 14, 2016.

One factor that encouraged John, a Howell, New Jersey resident, to enter the home inventory industry was seeing the devastation Superstorm Sandy created along the Jersey Shore and beyond. A prepared list of their belongings would have been helpful for the residents and business owners who faced a loss from this disaster. Rogerson’s desire to always be helpful to others can be fulfilled with this new business; educating the public of the importance a well-documented inventory can offer in the event of an unfortunate fire, flood, theft, or natural disaster.

In addition to owning Rogerson Inventory, John serves as a Human Resources Specialist for the New Jersey Air National Guard, currently holding the rank of Technical Sergeant. His commitment to duty and performance has earned him such military awards as the Air Force Achievement Medal and Air Force Commendation Medal.  Rogerson is a graduate of Rutgers University-New Brunswick, having earned his B.S. in Administration of Justice degree in 2003. He has a varied professional background, which includes 9 years as a Social Studies teacher with the New Brunswick Public School District and 12 years of military service.

Beginning a business from the ground up is extremely time consuming, and his commitment to his wife and two young sons keeps him quite busy. John realized that with a desire to start quickly and professionally, he needed a mentor with industry knowledge. Rogerson said, “After countless discussions with the Hartman’s, and strong recommendations from several licensees, I decided that investing in the Nationwide Inventory Professionals Business Package was the right decision to help me meet my goals.”

Mike Hartman, Founder of Nationwide Inventory Professionals, added “When I first met John, I could sense his focus and attention to detail; both will benefit him greatly while he juggles his many responsibilities. I expect that John will be extremely successful.”

John is certified by the National Inventory Certification Association as a Certified Inventory Specialist.  Rogerson Inventory provides personal property inventory services for homeowners and business owners in New Jersey, Southeast New York, and Southeast Pennsylvania. Rogerson Inventory is insured and holds a Business Services Bond. 

Why You Are Not Alone

AloneOne might think being a home-based business owner would be a lonely life. Working from home can give the impression that I (and all home-based entrepreneurs) are alone. Or even worse, lonely.  We aren’t.

There are many reasons that I am not alone, nor do I feel lonely. First and foremost, I see clients on a regular basis. When I provide my asset inventory service for homeowners and business owners, I am out of the house and at their location. Most often, during these jobs, I am with either the homeowner, or business owner, and often surrounded by all the employees. They are often interested in what I’m doing, so conversations begin on why it’s important to have an inventory of one’s contents. These conversations are fun for me and enlightening for them.

Your next thought might be, but what if your clients aren’t local? My own experience, by being a mentor for home inventory professionals, shows that the telephone can be a lifeline that removes the feeling of being alone. I have regular telephone conversations with our Inventory Professionals Licensees, often covering personal topics as well as business.

Alone as a home-based entrepreneur

I’ll share with you some issues that can appear negative, along with my solutions.

  • Issue: It’s too quiet.
  • Solution: Turn on the TV or radio.
  • Issue: Some say they need to collaborate with others.
  • Solution: Choose a project and invite someone to work on it with you.
  • Issue: I need to talk to people.
  • Solution: There is the telephone, Skype, Google Hangouts. You can also visit or call clients, former clients, and prospective clients. What’s stopping you?
  • Issue: I need to be able to kick ideas around with others.
  • Solution: Join a group of other entrepreneurs for brain-storming sessions.
  • Issue: I need the energy of being with groups of people.
  • Solution: Network, invite someone to lunch, attend business functions, join an organization. The opportunities are endless.

Benefits of being home-based

Of course, one can choose to hibernate and remain in the office, alone, but that would be a choice, not a result of, being home-based. There are many advantages to consider. Some are:

  • Complete control of your time.
  • Interruptions are at a minimum, since a variety of people aren’t stopping by your office to chat.
  • Focus for long periods of time.
  • Comfort.
  • Schedules are extremely flexible, especially when repairs and deliveries are necessary.
  • No commute time.

Home-based entrepreneurs are only alone when they choose to be. The key word here is “choice.” What do you think? If you’re not a home-based business owner, would you like to be? If you’re ready to start a business, would this be your choice?

 

 

Reflections

ReflectingIt seems almost every blog or article written right now is talking about the year coming to an end or the new year beginning. This is always a time for people who want to start a business give it serious thought. New year, new direction, new focus.

You might be thinking that there are only a few days left, and how many items on your goals list haven’t been accomplish. On the other hand, you could be looking forward to next year already, creating your list of things you want to achieve over the next 12 months. Whether you’re looking at it as what was left undone, or what you will, once again, put on your list of goals, you are taking time to reflect.

Reflecting on what you really, truly want helps you plan, prepare, and then achieve. Don’t spend time thinking about what wasn’t accomplished this year, except to determine if you even want to continue to pursue that goal. You can then give it serious thought on how you will prepare for next year so you can achieve this dream.  Think about where you were last year at this time, and honestly write down why each item wasn’t achieved. Was it money, time, or a combination of both? Maybe you really don’t have your heart in it, but it’s something others want you to do. Possibly you have chosen not to move forward with a few items, but for some reason you keep them in your thoughts. Whatever the reason, take the time to figure out why.  Then you’ll have a clear vision to move forward in whatever direction is right for you. Give yourself true, honest answers so you can begin next year with only those items that are truly in your heart.

This past year might have also been completely rewritten, with new goals and dreams being discovered over these past 12 months. Review where you are, are you enjoying the journey? If not, stop now before you’ve invested in something that won’t give you a reason to get out of bed each morning.

As the owner of a home inventory business and a business that helps others start a business, I can assure you that reflection is an activity that is worth your time and consideration. Some who think of starting a business act on it quickly and without hesitation. They think it, research it, and then get started very quickly, jumping in with both feet. Others think it, ponder it for months, then begin their research before choosing what to do. One big decision is whether to start on you own, buy a start-up kit, invest in a business package that will be a great resource and mentor, or go full-out and purchase a franchise. The choice depends on the person’s needs, expectations, and goals. Once you know the direction you want to take, you’re on your way to meeting the goal of entrepreneurship.

Reflection on your past will help pave the correct path for the coming year. There will be less down time due to indecision. You’ll be able to focus on strategic decision-making. The result will be time and energy well spent, moving toward achieving the success you choose – whatever success looks like to you.

5 Tax Tips for Small Business Owners

taxtimeThe end of the year brings some common thoughts to the minds of small business owners … holiday hours, holiday special offers, time with family and friends, some well-deserved R&R, and taxes!

Since starting our home inventory business in 2004, we have had good years and some not-so-good years. Typical for the small business owner! We learned a lot over the years, and though we don’t claim in any stretch of the imagination to know about taxes (that’s why we have a CPA), we do know that we have a little control over the financial outcome at tax season. More profit = higher taxes. The good years are so much fun, but the tax bill can sting a little, can’t it?

If 2015 was a better year than normal year for you, there are some things you can do to lessen the amount you will owe. Before you do anything after reviewing your financials, call you accountant to discuss your options. Everyone’s situation is different, and what might work for some business owners could be a bad idea for others. Here are some standard and well-known actions you can take, and now is the time to review what’s best for you.

1 – Review your financials

One thing you can do now is to assess what your taxes will be. Cash flow is key for a small business owner to keep daily operations running smoothly. By planning ahead, getting a general idea of what your tax bill will be, you will have time to hold some funds back if necessary. Then, of course, rejoice in the fact that you had such a great year! It’s a great “problem” to have.

2 – Donate to a charity

Small business owners often find it difficult to sponsor an event, donate a service, or donate cash to a charitable cause. We all want to help, and there are so many opportunities – especially this time of the year. You’ll feel great because you gave to a worthy cause, and you’ll also enjoy the tax deduction.

3 – Buy stuff!

Office furniture, software, computers, printers, and equipment specific to your industry will increase your expenses, and decrease your profit. Thus, a lower tax bill.

4 – Control your cash flow

Prepay some of your bills. Do you have professional memberships that are due to renew in early 2016? Send payment now. Do you need to take courses to retain a certification? Sign up now. Is a trade show on your calendar? Register now. For the other side of the ledger, bill your clients late in December so you don’t receive the revenue until next year.

5 – Invest in yourself

As a small business owner, you have many savings plan options, so you’ll want to meet with your financial advisor. Contributions you make might be tax deductible. You still have time to make this happen, because you typically will have until your tax due date to contribute. Be aware that many plans have to be set up before the end of the year.

Before doing anything, first make an appointment with your CPA and financial advisor to discuss each aspect of your business. Only you and they know what’s best for you and your business.

Test Drive Your Business Idea

Test DriveWhen you’re thinking of purchasing a new car, you take a test drive to make sure it is the right one. In a recent commercial, a couple has the car for the weekend. A scene shows the husband washing the car, and his wife states that he does know they don’t own it yet, with his response being he is “test washing” it. Her reply is that when he is done, she will go “test shopping.” This exchange shows that this new car is being scrutinized, and will be a major part of their daily life. It also suggests that after checking it out so thoroughly, they will buy it and be quite happy with it.

The same process should be practiced when you have a business idea. As the owner of a company that assists people in starting and growing a successful inventory business, I see the importance of knowing if the business is a good fit. Why did you choose this industry is a question we always ask. Another question that must be considered, is What motivates you to want to own your own business? These questions give us a starting point to help them choose if the asset inventory service is a good fit for them.

A great way to determine that you’ve chosen the right business is to give it a test drive. If you’re thinking of opening a restaurant, work in one for a while – as a waiter, and as a cook/chef. If you’re wanting to start a printing business, spend time as an employee, determining if the creation of marketing materials is what will fill your dreams. Possibly your goal is to be a teacher. Place yourself on substitute lists at local schools. How about a home inventory business? Do your own home inventory. Learn what you like and don’t like about whatever industry you think you want to enter.  It doesn’t matter what industry you choose – lawn care, painting, handy-man, auto repair, cleaning service, retail store, gas station, home health care, etc. If can’t find employment in the area you’re considering, ask to shadow someone for the day or volunteer in that or a similar line of work. Check out the day-to-day operations before you start a business.

When preparing to purchase a new car, you will research, ask questions, and test drive the vehicle. Then, when you know what you want, you’ll be sure to purchase it from a reputable dealer who will be there for you. At minimum, the same should be done before investing in your new business venture. This is so important, because the financial investment in your new business will most likely be more than what you would spend on a new car. Then, when you are ready to become an entrepreneur, you will be more apt to pick the industry and the company with which you want to be affiliated. Your “test drive” will help ensure that you’ve made the right choice, and you will look forward to getting up each morning to serve your clients.

 

Nationwide Inventory Professionals Welcomes New Licensee

Long-time insurance agent, Donna Courtney, starts a home inventory business in South Carolina and southeast North Carolina.

Donna Business photo 001 (2)After over 30 years of service in the insurance sector, Donna Courtney has utilized her experience and knowledge to launch a home and business inventory service company in Little River, South Carolina.

The idea of owning a home inventory company has been in the back of her mind for about eight years, but she didn’t proceed with the idea because the thought of starting a business from scratch would be too daunting of a task. After much time spent through research, due diligence, and opportunity investigation, Courtney found the answer. “I chose Nationwide Inventory Professionals as the springboard to launch my inventory business. They offer a turn-key, plug-n-play business package. Their professionalism, experience, business background, and encouragement nailed down my decision to move forward with my new career.”

She has always seen herself as an insurance industry advocate, but felt there was more she could do to “make a difference” besides selling insurance policies. Her inventory services will help provide the proof residential and business owners will need to bridge the gap between having insurance and experiencing an equitable claim process.

While many believe that if they have insurance, they don’t need an inventory, Courtney explains, “I have seen the devastation created by fires, thefts, and storms in my role as an insurance agent, and have assisted my clients through these tragedies. I always discussed the need for an inventory to help recover from a loss. When it was time to file a claim, a few were prepared. Unfortunately, most were not.” Now she will provide the inventory service so business owners and homeowners can be prepared.

In addition to disaster preparedness, there are many other life events that require an inventory of one’s belongings, such as estate settlement, financial planning, division of assets/divorce, pre-nuptial agreements, and business asset tracking.

Certified, bonded, and insured, Courtney Inventory provides personal property inventory services for business owners, homeowners, and renters in South Carolina and southeast North Carolina.

About Donna Courtney

Before starting her contents inventory business, she was a long-term property and casualty agent for a major insurance company, and concluded her insurance career while employed with a large South Carolina independent agency.

A native of Tabor City, North Carolina, Courtney has lived in Little River for the past 15 years. Courtney graduated from Western Carolina University with a degree in Merchandising, Marketing, and Business Administration. In addition to being a Certified Insurance Service Representative (CISR) in 2015, she currently holds South Carolina property, casualty, life, accident, health, and broker’s insurance licenses. Additionally, she is a Certified Inventory Professional (CIS) through the National Inventory Certification Association.

Licensee Achieves Certification

Crawford PhotoWe are pleased to announce that Licensee Jane Crawford recently earned the designation of Certified Inventory Specialist (CIS) through the National Inventory Certification Association™ (NICA). We encourage all Licensees to invest their time taking the courses and the final exam, while the cost is covered as just one of the many elements that Nationwide Inventory Professionals includes in the investment of the Business Package.  We view certification as just one additional step in the learning process, which exhibits an understanding and knowledge of the skills required to provide quality residential and small business contents inventory services.

A requirement for certification and membership with NICA is to agree to conduct business according to the established industry Code of Ethics. Ms. Crawford stated, “Becoming certified was a choice. I decided to pursue this designation because I believe it is important to stay current with the industry. Being certified also enables me to be associated with other asset inventory professionals.”

There is an increasing awareness of the necessity and benefits of having a prepared photographic and written record of one’s personal property. This knowledge creates a greater demand for a professional inventory service for both residential and commercial clients. Choosing to achieve certification will enable Crawford to stand apart from other  inventory professionals who have not yet achieved designation as a Certified Inventory Specialist. Mike Hartman, Executive Director of NICA, stated, “Earning the distinction of adding CIS to her name shows clients and potential clients that Crawford is a professional who is recognized by those in this industry.”

Based in Zionsville, Indiana, Crawford Inventory is a woman-owned business, providing residential and commercial asset inventory services in Boone County and the surrounding areas.

Good Debt, Bad Debt

Good Debt Bad DebtWhen starting a business, it is important to have a good credit history. If you plan on borrowing money for start-up costs, purchasing equipment, or investing in a business package or franchise, your lender will review your credit score. This will help them determine if you are “risk-worthy” or if they should deny your application.

It is not necessary to debt-free, however. What is important is how you manage your debt, and what type of debt you have. Paying on time each month, and paying the amount agreed upon, will help you develop a good credit rating. A debt-to-income ratio is also a number reviewed by lenders. If you are maxed out or almost maxed out on your ability to pay your bills now, it is unlikely they will view you as a risk.

However, you shouldn’t think that you should never have any debt. There is good debt and there is bad debt.

Bad Debt

In a nutshell, bad debt is debt that will cost you money. Buying a luxury car, or taking an amazingly expensive vacation usually require that people borrow money to purchase them. Since they are not necessities, this is considered a bad debt because it will cost you in the long run. Credit card interest can mount up very quickly, so credit card debt is probably the most highly rated as bad debt. If you carry a balance on your credit card, you could be paying as much as 29% on your balance. Read the projected payoff amount on your next statement; you’ll be shocked at the cost of your debt! A luxury car, extreme vacations, and other items that are not “necessary” can easily add to your bad debt if you place these items on your credit card. It is amazing how much money it costs (interest) to have a balance on your card(s).

Bottom line, bad debt costs you money.

Good Debt

Good debt, on the other hand, is debt that will help you earn money. A loan to start your own business is a prime example of good debt. Borrowing to invest in a business package or franchise is an excellent plan, because you receive a business plan, experience, and support to help you succeed.  By earning much more than the initial investment (loan), you will have incurred good debt.

The reason that borrowing funds to start a business is good debt is two-fold: 1) you are given the opportunity to receive a positive return on your investment, and 2) you will leverage your resources to help achieve success. For instance, Nationwide Inventory Professionals offers continued support to all Licensees by sharing knowledge, expertise, and coaching.

When planning on investing in a business, ask what financial options you have and choose the plan that’s best for you.

Starting a Business Takes a Leap of Faith

LeapOfFaithSome would say that those who inherited a business are the lucky ones. Well, I’m not one of those. And I don’t agree that they are the lucky ones in the whole scheme of things. Starting up a business, working through the issues, facing major hurdles, and then experiencing success – that’s something those who inherit a business will never feel.

I was in the corporate world for over 30 years. I was blessed with jobs that helped me learn sales, management, customer service, and how to listen to others. And now I use all of these skills on a daily basis as I help others start a business.

However, there is one thing I didn’t learn in school, or on the job. This is a key element of success that is extremely important. No it isn’t luck. In reality, luck doesn’t have anything to do with it. You hear often that it takes hard work, a lot of effort, many months and years of total concentration planning and building a business. All of this is true. But there is one element that can’t be taught in school or through on-the-job experience.

Ya gotta have faith

No one can “teach” you to have faith in yourself. You can read all the self-help books that are in print today. You can attend lectures, seminars, workshops, and presentations about self-esteem and believing in yourself. All of these are essential, too, but there is still one piece to the puzzle, and that comes from within you. You can’t take a quiz, pass it, and walk away saying, “I now have faith in myself.” It has to be something that is deep in the pit of your stomach and in your heart.

In addition to having faith, there is a 2nd part of this that often is what holds people back.

You need to take the leap

Just saying you have faith in yourself that you’ll succeed won’t help you become the entrepreneur you’re wanting to be. Saying you have this belief, and doing something with it, are two different things. You need to have a down-deep-in-your-gut belief in yourself. A belief so strong that nothing and no one can stop you from taking that leap. You have to have even more than belief. You have to have a total desire that you can’t see your life any other way.

Do you feel that? Then and only then will you have the ability to take that “leap of faith” and do it, knowing it’s the right thing to do!

Yes, it’s scary. It’s nerve-wracking. It’s torture sometimes. But when you feel – really feel – that this is what you want, then there will be no stopping you!

A great business for supplemental income.


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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 2016 Nationwide Inventory Professionals, LLC © 2013. All Rights Reserved.
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