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!

Flexibility Keeps You Going

FlexibleI was recently talking to a fellow business owner who had gone through a bit of a struggle. His business is back on track, and we discussed this common occurrence shared by many entrepreneurs. When the success or failure is on your shoulders, it is a very difficult time when things go wrong.

As an employee, you can sit back and second guess the decisions your boss is making, and often feel a sense of superiority when you find you were right and their decisions were the incorrect ones. However, when it’s all in your control, making the “right” decision is often difficult.

What can go wrong?

Some of the most common things that can go wrong are:

  • Sales drop or stagnate
  • You are too busy with the day-to-day that you didn’t look beyond tomorrow
  • Disgruntled employees
  • Unexpected resignation from a key employee
  • Supplier failure to deliver
  • Drop in your customer service
  • Negative shift in your own attitude

Many of these situations happen slowly, which prevents you from noticing until it’s too late. So, how to you keep going, and get back on track? Flexibility!

Be flexible!

What I have learned from many business owners who experienced this is that they had to become more flexible – with their time, thoughts, and even policies. One shared that he was working so many hours that he didn’t come up for air. His blinders were on and he was way too focused on one issue, which led to problems in other areas. A business coach and mentor helped him open his eyes.

A few seasoned entrepreneurs admitted that they had the, “It’s always worked this way in the past,” and weren’t flexible enough to listen to new ideas. An adjustment with shipping schedules corrected a supplier problem. With this issue solved, employee morale improved since they weren’t dealing with unhappy customers.

Flexibility with policies, when within employment law, is often what employees are seeking. Being more flexible with vacation (allowing 1/2 days instead of insisting all vacation days be in full-day increment) was a huge morale booster for one entrepreneur.

When the world you built starts showing some cracks in the foundation, it possibly can be fixed very easily – by exercising some flexibility. Flexibility, when feasible, will often get you back on track where you can, once again, enjoy business ownership.

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.”



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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.