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!

 

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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.

Benefits Of A Shorter Workweek

4DayI always smile when I see posts on social media from people anxiously awaiting the weekend. Sometimes you see “TGIF” comments. Other times, the doom and gloom appears on Sunday night when my friends are preparing for Monday morning. As an entrepreneur, I don’t have these Monday-Friday requirements.

A recent article, titled, Arguments For A Shorter Workweek, discussed how the 4-day workweek benefits everyone. Two points really made sense to me, and reiterated the freedom I have as a business owner.

The first key benefit is that it makes people healthier. The U.K.’s leading health industry group stated that “the five-day workweek is causing people too much stress and that Britain should instead switch to a four-day workweek.” Other countries have already adopted this work schedule and have found it to be extremely beneficial. Heath issues cited to support this are lower blood pressure readings and reduced anxiety and depression.

The second benefit is the ability to focus better. Co-founder of 37signals, Jason Fried, wrote that a reduced schedule workweek, “makes people more focused on getting things done in the limited time they have. When you have a compressed workweek, you tend to focus on what’s important. Constraining time encourages quality time.”

I’m not going to say that I only work 32 hours a week. Some weeks I work less. Others, more. I enjoy the options and freedom of choosing when and how long I will work. Time flexibility is one of the most important benefits of being a business owner. And it has certainly encourage me to focus, plan, and achieve more in less time.

When you own your own company, you can control the number of hours your work. If you are a home-based businesses have even greater options to set your own hours because you don’t have set times within which your company is operating (compared to a store-front).

Owning a home inventory business has enabled me to eliminate the structure of the 5-day, 40-hour workweek. I determine when and how long. My stress level is lower; my freedom for relaxation is under my control. If you own your own business, consider this shorter workweek. If you’re thinking about becoming a business owner, these are great reasons to act on this dream, and act on it now.

8 Questions You Should Ask Before Investing in a Business

8Baby Boomers are finding themselves out of work and not being able to get a new job. College grads are having difficulty landing a job in the field for which they just spent 4 (or more) years studying. Many retirees took part-time jobs and now cannot find one.

What do all of these people have in common – other than being out of work or not finding the right job? Many are choosing to start a business of their own. They have decided that business ownership can give them the opportunity to take control of their future.

Baby Boomers and retirees are most likely looking for a business that can be part-time, meaning they can work just the number of hours they choose per week or month. Others will be seeking a full-time business, and often want flexible hours. There are a plethora of business models available today to help the aspiring entrepreneur (no matter what their age is) find a business that is suitable for them.

Start-up kit, license agreement, business package, or franchise

There is always the option to start from scratch without anyone’s help or support. Other options, which give various levels of assistance either just at start-up, or continuing through years and years of owning the business. Start-up kits are normally in the low hundreds of dollars, offering just enough to get started (thus, “start-up” kit) and then you’re on your own. There are licensing agreements and business packages that provide various degrees of assistance from being very similar to a start-up kit to offering features and benefits that are similar to most franchises. And then there is the franchise industry. The investment is normally quite a bit higher for a franchise than any of the other business models.

8 questions to ask yourself

  1. Am I looking for a business that creates a product or do I want to offer a service?
  2. Do I have the funds to start my business?
  3. Would it cost more to do it all on my own, or is the business investment less expensive in the long run?
  4. Do I know what it will cost in addition to the initial investment?
  5. Is the owner/manager of the business I’m interested in available to answer my questions?
  6. What is my time frame of when I want to be ready to do business?
  7. How much assistance do I need/want?
  8. Will this business give me the flexibility/hours I want to work?

These 8 questions will help you create a clear picture of what type of business model is a good fit for you. The options are endless!

 

The Best Use of Your Time

timeismoneyMany small companies begin as a sole proprietorship or two-person operation (fondly called mom-and-pops). As the company grows, a need for additional help is realized. This business owner who used to wear the operations, bookkeeping, marketing, and sales hats now must decide who will help with these tasks. A choice whether to become an employer or to hire companies that provide some of these services looms overhead.

Often times business owners have a variety of skills, but common sense must be used when making the decision of whether to do it yourself or hire someone else. An option often considered is to outsource specific tasks rather than hire an employee because the sub-contractors 1) don’t call in sick or go on vacation, 2) can be used on an as-needed or contracted basis, and 3) don’t need training because they are the professionals in their field.

Outsourcing

Well-known purchased services are cleaning, administrative, marketing, and accounting. Are your bills and invoices processed in a timely manner? If not, then a bookkeeping or accounting service would be a good opportunity for you to eliminate service charges and also get faster payment on your receivables. Are you still maintaining your own website and trying to write a newsletter, but finding both are suffering from lack of attention? A marketing or web design firm could be the answer.

Other services that are becoming more common are professional organizers, concierge services, commercial and residential inventory services and delivery services. Do you spend way too much time trying to remember where you put things? Then maybe it’s time to hire someone to bring functionality into your office. Are you spending too much time delivering your product instead of creating marketing materials? A courier service could solve that issue. Do you do monthly or annual inventories and find you’d rather be out selling instead of counting – or have you lost track of your company assets, where they are stored, when they will need to be budgeted for replacement, etc.? An asset documentation company could most likely do it faster and provide the updates in a more timely manner.

The value of the outsourced service

A small business owner sent Hartman Inventory this letter, which speaks to the issues all small business owners face, and validates that it isn’t always just the dollars that need to be considered:

I wanted to tell you briefly about how I learned the value of your services. As a new business owner, I am constantly plagued with where to put the few dollars and cents I have into business related expenses. I was told about your company, and thought – wow – what a great idea! As I looked at the costs, I ignorantly thought I could just do it myself and save a few bucks. As time went on and I needed to get an accurate inventory, I really started to feel the pressure come tax time. So, I had my part time sales person work on the hand written inventory over a two week period. It cost me hundreds of dollars in wages, plus time lost that could have been spent generating business (which has exponential value). Had I spent the time to figure out just how valuable of a service this is and how incredibly cost effective it is, I would have made a far better business decision. Rest assured, I will not be making that mistake again.

Often the answer is hiring a third party service provider who can get the job done more professionally, in less time, and you’ll have benefited financially by making that choice. The next time you have this type of decision to make, ask yourself: Is this a wise use of my time?

52% Want To Own A Business

OpenBusiness ownership. Own my own business. Start a business. Be my own boss. However you say it, being a business owner is a dream that many people have. According to a recent survey conducted by Refresh Leadership, 52% of their readers want to own a business of their own.  This is an overwhelming number of people holding onto that dream.

Personally, I had that goal since I was a teen but didn’t act on it until I was in my mid-50′s. How unfortunate that I waited so long. A couple reasons I didn’t pursue it is that I let life take me for a ride, instead of me taking control. I got married and had children. I used that as an excuse not to step up and focus on my goal. Other “comfort” excuses included that I had too many other expenses, kids would be going to college, kids were in college, etc. The same is evident in the Refresh Leadership survey, where 10% said they don’t own a business because it is not financially feasible.

Pursuing the dream of business ownership

I finally did pursue the almost 40-year-old dream, and took action. It was tough, but well worth the effort. There were more questions than answers, more uncertainties and feelings of confidence, more downs and ups … trust me! I wish I had someone to help guide me, someone to share their knowledge when I was a novice business owner. In fact, the exact quote from the survey’s 52% sums it up nicely: “I’d like to start my own business, but I don’t know where to start.”

They are going through the same issue I went through, which is what encouraged me to create Nationwide Inventory Professionals. This Business Package and Licensing Agreement to help others start a business. The home inventory industry is growing, and is now being called “asset inventory” quite often because business owners, renters, and even RV owners are learning of – and acting on – the need to have a list of all their personal assets (belongings).

The backbone of a healthy economy

Refresh Leadership’s article stated, “Small businesses are the backbone of a healthy economy, so it’s a good sign that such a large majority of respondents are interested in starting their own business.” I completely agree, and am pleased to be in a position to mentor those interested in our industry while we help them begin quickly and professionally.

The Modified Entrepreneur

EntrepreneursIn today’s economic environment, there is continued talk about the benefits of being an entrepreneur. The uncertainly of whether a job will be there tomorrow is one concern as more companies cut back.  People tend to hold onto their job, which lessens the opportunity for others to find work. For those who are are miserable in their current career, they aren’t looking to find a different job for fear they will not find another. Worse yet, if they do switch jobs, and become the “last in, first out” employee, they might be without employment very quickly.

All of these situations are encouraging many to become entrepreneurs. With a growing interest in self-employment, there are also groups of entrepreneurs who are taking on sub-categories, if you will.

Entrepreneurial categories

Many entrepreneurs who are in business alone are often referred to as solo-preneurs. They have chosen to embark on a business venture on their own, having full control over all decisions, creativity, and direction in which they take their company.

A new one I heard recently is PT-preneur. This was described as a person who is starting a business, but doing so on a part-time basis while the company is established. The are working on building their future, on a limited basis, while keeping their corporate job as a safety net until they are completely prepared to move forward on their own.

Identifying the initiative of a woman entrepreneur, she-preneur  and mom-preneur have been used to label this group of female go-getters. (I wonder if anyone has come up with the category of man-preneur yet.)

A term used to label himself, one of our licensees declared that he sees himself  as a modified entrepreneur. This as a perfect way to describe his place in the business world. His reasoning is that most people see a business owner as one who owns an established business, and an entrepreneur as one who starts from nothing and creates a business.

The word “modified” was chosen because our business package, similar to a franchise, has the idea, processes, marketing material, etc., in place, but he was responsible for building the business. The benefit of having the tools provided to him enabled him to concentrate on  networking and growing his client and prospect lists while the behind-the-scenes tasks were completed for him. Therefore, he sees himself as an entrepreneur – but a modified one.

Modified entrepreneur

The primary advantage that a modified entrepreneur has is that you can move into the business quite quickly compared to a true entrepreneurial approach that has an extremely long and difficult start-up phase. It’s reasonable to begin developing the business immediately, rather than spending months creating a website and other marketing materials, establishing processes and procedures, creating correspondence and worksheets, etc.

Rather than go through the trial-and-error of business development, and suffer through the long learning curve that many entrepreneurs experience, an alternative is to choose to be a modified entrepreneur. You can take your idea, and receive help from someone who already has this business model established.

So if the full entrepreneurship idea is a little frightening to you, consider a franchise or comprehensive business package/licensing agreement to help you get started. These options give you the freedom of business ownership, the pride of building a business, and the excitement that you created something that is yours! And at the same time, you have a built-in mentor to help guide you.

Benefits of Being a Home-based Business

homebasedMany have the idea that being a home-based business is easy, luxurious, and unstructured. I won’t argue that point, because I know some who operate exactly that way. Unfortunately, they don’t have that home-based business very long.

They picture of sitting around all day working only when you feel like it is a myth! Owning a business, whether home-based or off-site at another location, is a lot of work and dedication. And discipline. No matter where your desk is, you still need to make sales calls, respond to current customers, attend meetings, and tend to your marketing, financials, and other administrative responsibilities.

Since you need to still do all of the tasks required of any business owner, what are the benefits of being a home-based business? When I asked a number of others who work from home this questions, two reasons – or benefits – were universal in their answers.

Financial benefits

There are many financial benefits when you are a home-based business. When your house is your principal place of doing business, the percentage of your work area can be claimed as a tax deduction. Additionally, that percentage of insurance, utilities, and other household expenses are also legal deductions on your income tax return. Of course, before claiming any deductions, talk to your CPA to ensure you complying with the IRS regulations.

Other financial benefits mentioned were:

  • not needing to have such a large “professional” wardrobe
  • not eating out for lunch
  • gas savings from not driving to and from work each day

Consider just the lunch savings. You will still need to each lunch, so your home food expenses will go up. To make the math easy, let’s say $10 to eat out, and $5 to eat at home. The $5 per day difference x 20 work days per month is a $100 per month savings. The annual savings realized just on lunches could amount to $1200! We won’t even talk about gasoline prices!

Lifestyle benefits

Though money is extremely important, that topic was discussed with a serious, business-like approach. But when the lifestyle benefits were shared, an emotional flavor entered the conversation. Businessmen and business women alike enthusiastically ticked off a long list of why they chose to work from home.

  • not commuting gives an extra hour or more per day at home
  • more opportunity to set my own schedule
  • available to accommodate the family schedules
  • more time with their children
  • more time with their spouse
  • convenience to mix household chores while working, giving more free time
  • not needing a babysitter when the kids are sick and can’t go to school
  • when sick, can still work when necessary and won’t risk spreading the virus
  • more freedom to … (work out when I want, take a few hours to myself when needed, set my own schedule, etc.)

There are many more benefits mentioned, but you get the idea. Of course, some businesses cannot be home-based. However, if you can be, it is certainly a consideration. If you’re looking to start a business, this is a good list to review while you make your decision. If you are just looking for a home-based business to start, consider a home inventory service.

The Bases Are Loaded

baseballBaseball season is well under way. I love to hear the crack as the bat hits the ball. Cheering brings the energy level up to where you can actually feel it.

While watching a game recently, I was considering all the components that make a winning team. Without these elements, there would be fewer hits, fewer runs, and fewer successes. The successful teams, in any sport, are made up of a strategic game plan, excellent equipment, experienced coaches, and players with a love for the game.

Not unusual, my mind wandered over to the business world – to our Business Package and Licensing Agreement – and I thought about the commonalities among sports and business.

Strategic game plan

A business plan determines how you’re going to be successful. Written specifically for the home inventory industry, it is your game plan. The 3-year financial projections are prepared with all formulas verified. You just plug in your goals and estimated expenses and you’re all set. Just like in baseball, when your plan needs adjusted, the format allows for these changes.

Excellent equipment

There is no baseball without a ball, bat, and glove. The best teams have the best equipment. I am proud of the equipment we provide for our “team.” An excellent website, professionally written electronic newsletters, a manual that includes proven processes and procedures, templates of marketing materials and business documents, and certification by the National Inventory Certification Association to receive designation as a Certified Inventory Specialist.

Experienced coaches

Entering our second decade of providing home and business inventories, we share this knowledge and experience with our Licensees. Our job is not to tell them how to do their business because they are independent business owners. Rather, we coach them using our experience to help them make the right decisions for their company.  This ongoing mentoring, sharing what we’ve learned over the years, helps them implement marketing and sales ideas that fit their needs and preferences.

Players with a love for the game

This is my favorite part of the game – working with people who have a love for this industry. Before they invest, we discover what draws them to this industry and why they want to start a home and business inventory company. Almost every one of them replies in a similar manner – to help others and/or to educate the need for this information. Many have experienced a loss due to theft or disaster, or have helped a friend or relative try to recover. This first-hand knowledge of the difficulty in financial recovery is a great catalyst to share and educate, and ultimately be able to provide a professional inventory for their clients.

These key components create a winning combination – on the ball field and in business.

Family. Flexibility. Financial Freedom.


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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 2014 Nationwide Inventory Professionals, LLC © 2013. All Rights Reserved.
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