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Contractor classes for 2019

Posted by Linda Chambers on Thu, Jan 03, 2019 @ 10:37 AM

This year GCE is planning to hold educational training classes for our customers and other contractors at our Norcross, GA location.

Here is the tentative list of classes. Dates TBA.

Jan - Making a Business Plan, Budgeting and Pricing.                   Scheduled for Friday Jan 18th

Feb - Pressure Washing 101/ Troubleshooting Equipment.

Mar - Ready Seal - How to use class and hands on demo.

Apr - Seal n Lock - How to use class and demo.

May - How to choose chemicals for cleaning and understanding pH.

Jun - Social Media Marketing; Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.

Jul - Lift Training - by Sunbelt (this will be a paid class with certification).

Aug - EaCo Chem - Class and demo covering their range of products (repeat of Nov 2018)

Sep - How to set up OSHA training for your business.

Oct - OSHA training class - GHS labels and SDS's.

Nov - Maintenance repairs and winterizing equipment.

Dec - Chemical Safety, DIY Spill Kits.

In our new location we have a very nice conference room to hold these meetings that can comfortably hold around 24.

 ClassRoom

Most of these will be free classes, some we may ask for a small deposit to help us guarantee attendees that sign up show up especially for classes with out of town speakers. The deposit amount would be given back as in store credit for use with the event or later on.

Most classes will only take up a morning of time usually on a Friday so we are not interfering in the busy time of a contractors cleaning weekend. And having classes early in the mornings still frees up the rest of the day for work.

The class we would like to have for Lift Training would have to be a prepaid class but we would be getting a discount from Sunbelt for less than if you took the class direct from them. This class will also have to be an all day class as there are both classroom work as well as the hands on training on the lifts themselves and a completion card from Sunbelt that would be given for taking the class. This card also grants you rental discounts with Sunbelt.

We will ask that contractors sign up 2-3 weeks ahead of time and classes may be canceled if not enough sign up, so if you are interested in a class at all please sign up. We will put out sign up forms online from our Facebook pages, posted on other places online and have a sheet in our office.

If you are interested in a topic not listed please let us know and if one is not proving popular we may substitute a suggested one instead. These classes are for the benefit of our contractor customers so let us know what you want to learn about in this coming year.

Happy New Year.

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: Contractor Class, business plan, GCE, Georgia Chemical Equipment, training

Cash Flow Tips for your Small Business.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Fri, Apr 06, 2018 @ 09:00 AM

Cash flow is a big part of any business. If your customers are not paying you in a timely manner then you will have a hard time paying your vendors for the supplies you need to do business, to support the infrastructure to run your day to day operations, and enough left to support you and your family.

CashFlow

Here are some tips on how to improve your businesses cash flow.

Improve your Accounts Receivables

Asking for payment for work you have done is the first step in getting paid and if you let this drag along then so will your cash flow.

  • Invoice as soon as work is completed and make it trackable so you can easily follow up until paid.
  • If possible have invoices due immediately upon completion of work.
  • If work will be done over a long time period get partial payment up front.
  • Have an easy way for customers to pay; ex: Accept online credit card payments.
  • If a contract customer is on terms, shorten them as much as possible; ex: NET 10 or NET 15 instead of NET 30, or NET 30 instead of NET 60.
  • Have late payment interest terms clearly listed on the invoice that you know can be enforced in your state. Then be sure to follow through and use them.

Extend your Accounts Payable

Just as you want to be paid quickly so do your vendors, but see if you can work with them to see how far out you can hold out on payments or pay other ways.

  • Can you purchase a larger amount of product for longer and better terms?
  • Can you set up equal guaranteed monthly payments to vendors you order from frequently? This can help you with budgeting and spreading out payments.
  • Ask if you can get longer terms with a vendor as your relationship time with them increases. Ex: NET 45 or 60 instead of NET 30 after 3 or 5 years.
  • Use lines of credit or credit cards to extend time to pay for items.
  • Consider bartering services for products.

Know your Breakeven Point

This is the amount you need to make each day, week or month to meet your basic business needs. Sales above this will be adding to your profit margin.

You need to first add up all the expenses it takes to be in business even if you did not do a day of work; rent, utilities, insurance, equipment costs. This is your breakeven point. Then you can figure what your working costs are; labor, fuel, chemicals, other supplies. These costs are added to your breakeven costs to arrive at your daily, weekly or monthly costs to subtract from your sales to get to your profits. Have a plan in place on how to distribute your profits.

Know what you are Spending

This is an obvious statement but you would be surprised how much money is spent that owners have no idea where it went.

  • Set up a budget. Be sure to add in any new line items as they come up. Do not have a lot of uncategorized miscellaneous items.
  • Track every penny. Keep every receipt, which is easier if you have a set place that they all go and a set time each day to enter them.
  • Have a computer program or system to enter and track everything.
  • Try to not use cash, check and card purchases are easier to track.
  • Do not intermingle personal with business purchases. If you need to pay for items for both at one store do it separately.

Be Mindful when Spending and Paying

There are ways to help you from wasting money you are working hard to make.

  • Before buying an item make sure it is something that is really needed. Ex: A must have supply for a job already booked vs. something nice to have.
  • Be sure to take advantage of any prepay discount from vendors, to pay off credit cards before their interest date, etc.
  • Take advantage of interest or payment discounts by paying with auto pay from your business account.
  • Be sure to know about and use any other discounts your vendors offer. Ex: Industry Organization discount, Military discount, volume discount, etc.
  • Set up auto drafts or payments for recurring bills to not incur late fees or penalties.
  • Do not tie up your money in unneeded or seldom used inventory.

Have a Cash Reserve

You never know when an emergency or unforeseen expense will come up. If you start putting a little away each month you can be better prepared and not have to use other high interest cash like with lines of credit or credit cards.

  • Set up a separate account just for these funds so it not as easy to draw on them for just any reason.
  • Have a goal set for your fund. Start with what it would take to pay for a whole month of bills, then extend that to 3 months then 6 months, etc.
  • Put a set amount or % of your profits aside each pay period until you have reached your goal amount. Once reached extend the goal or earmark it for a new project.

Plan ahead

Have a business plan in mind for growth and work toward making it happen.

  • Plan for equipment replacement. Everything has a work life and if you have saved up for it over time you won't have to use credit and pay interest for part or all of it the next time.
  • Plan for new or upgraded equipment as well. Want to have more than one crew working for you next year then start savings for that new rig now.
  • Put money that you know is not really yours, like for taxes, aside in a separate account so that it will be there when the quarterly taxes come due.

Small business owners need to understand that most fail due to the lack or misuse of money. So if you follow these suggestions we have covered you should have a better chance than most to succeed.

Tags: cash flow, business plan

So you are getting a tax refund, now what?

Posted by Linda Chambers on Fri, Mar 30, 2018 @ 09:00 AM

If you are like most people when you get a tax refund you want to go treat yourself with these new found gains; go on vacation, eat out, buy new clothes or toys, etc.

But you need to treat them like what they really are, delayed income. Hopefully you don't blow each paycheck on just fun things that leaves you with nothing to show for it, so what really is the best way to spend a tax refund?

refundcoming

1. Treat it as a normal paycheck. Hopefully you have a system in place on how you spend your work income so do exactly the same thing.

2. If you do not already have a rainy day or emergency fund open it now with all this money into a separate account you do not plan on accessing except in an emergency.

3. Use it to pay on or off your highest interest bill, reducing your monthly expenses.

4. Invest in yourself. Pay for a certification class, go to a business convention, pay for your CDL license. Anything that will increase your work value.

5. Add it to a down payment you are building for a house. The higher your down payment the lower the loan amount and lowers future monthly mortgage payments.

6. Pay for needed vehicle or home repairs. Things that are truly needed not just a cosmetic home improvement.

7. Invest in your retirement. Pay into or open an IRA.

8. Invest in your children's future, pay into or open a college savings account.

9. Invest in your business. Buy new equipment, in full, that will improve your work or expand your ability to do new jobs. Pay off any loans you have now to reduce expenses.

10. Spend a small amount for fun, ex: $100 for a fun night out for the family.

This is what my husband and I have done with our tax refund for years no matter if it is less than a few hundred dollars or thousands. We have a 20/20/20/20/10/10 plan;

20% to catch up on any overdue bill or prepay any large upcoming one, like quarterly car or house insurance.

20% into savings.

20% to pay on highest interest credit card.

20% to pay for vehicle maintenance, new tires, brakes etc.

10% tithe to the church.

10% for fun.

The main thing is that you try to not have to pay extra at tax time. It is really best to calculate your payroll taxes so that you can bring home as much as possible with each paycheck instead of deferring that money into a large tax refund that you will just have to pay more taxes on again next year.

Tags: Taxes, tax refund, business plan

How to reach your goals.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Mon, Jan 22, 2018 @ 10:00 AM

Many people start of a new year with resolutions. Things they want to accomplish either just for themselves or for their business, some big some small. But we all know that a majority of these promises by this time into the year are already starting to slip. Here are ways to be able to set a goal and stick to it through out the year.

resolutions.jpg

First you have decided to do something. Work out at the gym, eat better, get more sleep, cold call three new potential commercial customers a week, start or upgrade your referral program, etc. It does not matter what it is just that you pick a goal with a set desired end result.

Next you need to commit to it with a deadline. If you goal is to loose weight, set a certain number of pounds not too far into the future, say 10 lbs in 6 weeks. Or You want to have two new commercial contract customers by the end of next month. Setting a deadline to your goal even if not the entire amount of the goal helps put urgency to the goal and keeps you on track, so that you do not fall too far behind by the time the deadline is here.

Now write down your intentions or steps you plan to do to get your goal accomplished. Writing things down helps get your mind into the game. What steps will you need to do to get those two new commercial accounts. This will help you figure out if your goal is even reasonable.

1. How many do I need to contact?

2. Research and choose the best prospects.

3. Plan to go by, introduce yourself, leave materials.

4. Contact back to set up a time and day to do a demonstration.

5. Go and do the demo.

6. Get a commitment.

If you already know from past experience that it normally takes you five cold calls to set up a demonstration, and of those demos you normally sign one out of three the first time then that means you will need to make 30 cold calls to reach your goal. That is a lot of work for one months time. Do you have the time to commit to the goal of four weeks or should you extent it? Are there other ways to lower those numbers? Better research, using other resources like Linkedin?

Good cold calls take time to research. So you will have to set yourself a few hours each day to select companies you want to target. Just randomly stopping as you drive around town might work eventually but that could be a waste of a lot of expensive marketing materials, if you are doing more than just leaving a card. And may change your result numbers, taking more cold calls to get a demo, more demos to get a client that will be more time away to do jobs that are actually making money. 

Try to map out as many visits as possible in one area, at the times you are most likely to be able to see or at least briefly meet with the person that could set up a demonstration with you. If not just leave your marking materials and after talking with whom you do see, tell them when you will be calling the correct contact back. Be sure to get a card of whom will be the person to talk to, or their name, position, e-mail, number and when they are most likely to be there to take a call.

Once back in the office send a pre-written e-mail to the contact explaining who you are, what you would like to do for them and that you left materials there at their office for them to examine and tell them a set time when you will call to speak to them about setting up a demonstration. If you ask in the email for them to call you or ask for the meeting then most likely you will not get it. Give them some time to look over your information and call back when you said you would. Even if they can not take the call or are not there they will know you are serious and punctual.

Follow up with constancy is the last part of reaching your goal.

Once you do speak to the potential client even if they decline the demo. Keep them in your sales funnel and keep touching back every 3-4 months to see if conditions have changed.

DetailedSalesFunnel.png

Having a nurturing program that continues follow ups and keeps potential new customers in your sales funnel is the key to reaching your goals. Steps 5-7 can be the hardest and the longest. Keep working and you will be rewarded.

 

Tags: sales funnel, resolutions, goals, business plan

National Business Plan Month is here again

Posted by Linda Chambers on Mon, Dec 18, 2017 @ 12:21 PM

It is that time of year again, the last month of the last quarter and time to start thinking ahead to the new year. And as it so happens December is also National Business Plan Month. Here is a refresher on this for 2018

Every small business should have a Business Plan. Especially if you have already been in business for a while, and here is why. There may come a time as your business grows that a banker, CPA or investor will ask to see your business plan and boy will you look foolish when you have to say you do not have one or that you have no idea what that is.businessplan.jpg

All a Business Plan is, is a plan to help manage your business during its life, plain and simple. It  is just a road map of where you are to where you want to end up. It will include things like your mission statement, the who, what, where and how of your business. What type of work you will perform, in what locations, who is your prospective customer, what prices are you expecting to charge or how you will calculate your pricing, what equipment you will buy, at what cost, will you spread this cost over a set number of years, will you do all the work yourself or hire employees, how will you deal with these employees, and what your expected profit will be in a set period of time from the start of your business.

busPlan2.gifbusiness-plan.jpg

 

If you do not have one already the governments Small Business Administration is a good place to start to get a template of what should be included in a plan.http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/starting-managing-business/starting-business/writing-business-plan. And if you are really new to business and just jumped right into it you might even want to back track and take a look at the steps of starting a business they offer as well, http://www.sba.gov/thinking-about-starting. You may find you have missed a few things you should still think about doing.

how-to-write-a-business-plan-.jpg

This plan is not written in stone and every so often, like once a year, is a good time. You need to take it out, look it over and make adjustments to it. For instance when just starting out you may have worked alone and mainly did house washing, but over time you added employees, these grew into multiple crews and you found you enjoyed cleaning and staining decks, while doing house washing, more than washing homes and your business shifted to mainly deck work. With this change your business plan should also be changed and rewritten. In fact many business plans are made to cover a finite amount of time after which a new plan is expected to be made to cover a next set amount of time. There are other places and groups available to help you with this, like SCORE http://www.score.org/resources/business-plans-financial-statements-template-gallery, Bplans.com or even Microsoft Office. Even here in your own industry there are groups that have done the work for you or will help you, such ashttp://www.powerwash.com/articles/pressure-washing-business-plan-power-wash-contractor.html. Also free examples to watch and learn from on youtube.com, just search "how to write a business plan".

Just as many of you experience, Soap Warehouse Brand went though a major change of ownership and direction when it was bought by GCE Jan 2016 and I myself worked to add Soap Warehouse into the GCE business plan for a projected 5 year period. And now GCE after years of looking has found a new larger location, right up the road to move to. So we updated our business plan to give to our bankers with the purchase of the new location. This plan had to include the changes that this move will provide us and how it should improve our business overall. Here is to the New Year and we hope you will also have a profitable one.

Caveman-Business-Plan.jpg

Tags: business plan

Plan now for your businesses future after you are gone.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Tue, Jul 18, 2017 @ 12:00 PM

Although when you first start a business this may be the furthest thing from your mind, but what would happen if you suddenly died? Or even if you were injured and you were no longer able to work your business?

Question-1

What would happen to your family and their source of income?

Who would step in to run your business?

Would your heirs be able to sell your business and for what it is worth?

Now of course there is the issue of having insurance but beyond that do you have any plan in place for what could and would happen to your business?

 

What you need is called a Business Continuity Plan, which is not the same as a Succession Plan that I will cover in another post. 

buy-selling-wealth_zJ6TIBDu
  • It creates a guaranteed market and price for the business and its interests.
  • It allows the business to carry on as normal without stoppage due to your death or debilitating illness.
  • It allows the business to carry on as normal without interference from heirs, whether they are included or not in the plan.
  • It can provide liquidity for the estate of a deceased owner allowing the business to be turned into cash for the heirs.
  • It can provide an established value of the business for estate tax purposes.

 

There can be many different buy-sell agreements that can be set up according to you, your family, the business and employees needs.

 

There is the Cross Purchase: When a business is already owned by more than one party or partner where they have agreed that the surviving owner or owners are obligated to buy the interest of the deceased, and the estate of the deceased is obligated to sell at a previously agreed to price or by a continued payout to the estate.

 

An Entity Sale: This binds the business itself to buy the interest of the deceased owner, and the estate is obligated to sell, when the business is a corporation. This is sometimes referred to as a stock redemption agreement.

 

If the business is a sole ownership, you could plan to have an employee purchase. Where you may have one or more employees that have been instrumental in running the business and you as the owner would like to see the business to continue under their ownership. This agreement between the former employees and the deceased estate can be an outright purchase for a set price, or a gradual buy out allowing the employees to buy over time and the estate to continue to receive an agreed upon income until finalization of the sale or end of the terms of the agreement.

 

You can also have a Wait and See agreement. This type of agreement allows the flexibility in that the final decision to buy and sell is not decided until after the owner's death but the details of running the business until that time is spelled out in the agreement. This way the person in charge of the estate would oversee the terms of the agreement and the business could continue to function as normal allowing the business to stay a viable investment.

 

With a sudden death the hardest part maybe for the parties to find the funds needed to complete the purchase detailed in the plan. Here are some common funding sources and the unique challenges, though having enough life insurance is always the best solution.

 

Personal Funds of the Owners: Most business owners and partners keep the majority of their money already invested in the business so they may not have large sums of liquid assets available for the total purchase price.

 

Borrowed Funds: Many times banks may not be willing to lend money for a business that has lost the owner or a partner or the cost of such a loan may have a rate of interest that may be excessive that will be a burden to the business. Or the business may have already reached it borrowing limit.

 

Installment Payments: The heirs may not be able to get the agreed to sums from the business in payments and there is no guarantee to receive future payments if the business fails.

 

Life or Disability Insurance: Can be set up ahead of time to pay for the estimated costs of which ever plan you have chosen to use.

 

  • Insurance can be purchased separately from any another policy.
  • The policy can be purchased by the business.
  • The premiums are over time a small fraction of the benefits to be paid out.
  • The benefits are available right away after death or as soon as the policy allows with a disability.
  • Death benefits are generally federal income tax-free.

 

Do not leave the burden of running your business or the uncertainty of not having continued income for your family to deal with. Start now while you are able.

Tags: Business, business plan, Insurance, Continuity Plan

End of year check list revisited

Posted by Linda Chambers on Mon, Dec 21, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

I though I would revisit a post I did back in 2008 for the end of this year 2015.

With the year winding down there are things to do before the end of this year to get ready for next year especially if this is a slow time for you.

Do a Business Wellness Check. CheckingCosts.jpg

First take a look at the cost increases you had during the past year and make sure that your prices are still in line with the changes. If not now is the time to make the rate changes for next year. You may be able to use the sales pitch to lock in next Springs contract now allowing them to lock in today's pricing before next years price increases. Just be sure you can still make a modest profit at the old price. It never makes sense to work just for works sake it, you must be able to make a living at this.

In fact price adjustments are something that you may need to do twice a year or quarterly depending on how volatile the year is for your vendors. Even if the new pricing is to just to your new customers during the year.

You need to see where your major cost increases were and make the needed adjustments now. If it was in supplies are there ways you can save? Can you make better purchase decisions that will help you next year? For example is there anyway to maximize your purchases? Can you buy 3 or 4 kits of product instead of 1 or 2 at a time and save some on shipping costs? Are there more affordable options for your supplies? Have you been using your products at their optimum? For example are you sure you are using the right concentration for the job or are you using more than you need therefore have been wasting money? Are you able to buy in bulk for consumables at discount or bulk shopping locations like Sam's, BJ's or similar companies.
 
If the higher costs came with labor was everyone used the most effective way? Can you tighten up your schedule, fit more jobs in, work faster while still maintaining quality? Do you just have too many employees or too few and are paying too much in overtime?

Next evaluate your equipment needs. If you have had to make repairs repeatedly on a piece of equipment during the last season, now maybe the time to consider replacing it. Many times Winter is the time of year when equipment vendors have sales or give discounts for end of season and to save on the price of taxes carrying that inventory over into the new year. It is hard to stick to a busy schedule when equipment failures put you behind and possibly lose you jobs and money. Would a newer piece of equipment make you more efficient thus saving you time and labor costs? Can you have a tax savings by purchasing a new machine and spreading the cost over the next few years?
 
What about the services your business uses, can you save there. Check your phone, insurance, accounting, any monthly bill. Check prices and look for less expensive options.

One thing to not forget to put on your business wellness check list is to make sure your business stays in compliance with your local, state and the federal waste water regulations.

Here is a link that I think will be helpful to many of you: http://www.washwater.org/. This will allow you to find links and the information you need at one site. Increased awareness with droughts, water restrictions and tighter regulations you need to be in the know instead of on the receiving end of a warning or worse a heavy fine.

These are just a few items to put on a check list. Make yours as long or short as you need but be sure it covers all of the areas that effect your bottom line. Every cost to you and your business makes a difference in the end.

I hope you had a good 2015 and will have an even better 2016.

Tags: washwater.org, business costs, Business, business plan

December is National Business Plan Month

Posted by Linda Chambers on Fri, Dec 04, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

It is that time of year again, the last month of the last quarter and time to start thinking ahead to the new year. And as it so happens December is also National Business Plan Month. Well I wrote a blog post on this back in 2013 and just reposted that one last year but I thought I would write anew this year.

Why worry about writting a Business Plan? Especially if you have already been in business for a while? Well I will tell you why. There may come a time when as your business grows a banker, CPA or investor will ask to see your business plan and boy will you look foolish when you have to say you do not have one or that you have no idea what that is.businessplan.jpg

All a Business Plan is, is a plan to help manage your business during its life, plain and simple. It  is just a road map of where you are to where you want to end up. It will include things like your mission statement, the who, what, where and how of your business. What type of work you will perform, in what locations, who is your prospective customer, what prices are you expecting to charge or how you will calculate your pricing, what equipment you will buy, at what cost, will you spread this cost over a set number of years, will you do all the work yourself or hire employees, how will you deal with these employees, and what your expected profit will be in a set period of time from the start of your business.

busPlan2.gifbusiness-plan.jpg

 

If you do not have one already the governments Small Business Administration is a good place to start to get a template of what should be included in a plan.http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/starting-managing-business/starting-business/writing-business-plan. And if you are really new to business and just jumped right into it you might even want to back track and take a look at the steps of starting a business they offer as well, http://www.sba.gov/thinking-about-starting. You may find you have missed a few things you should still think about doing.

how-to-write-a-business-plan-.jpg

This plan is not written in stone and every so often, once a year is a good time, you need to take it out, look it over and make adjustments to it. For instance when just starting out you may have worked alone and mainly did house washing, but over time you added employees, these grew into multiple crews and you found you enjoyed cleaning and staining decks, while doing house washing, more than washing homes and your business shifted to mainly deck work. With this change your business plan should also be changed and rewritten. In fact many business plans are made to cover a finite amount of time after which a new plan is expected to be made to cover a next set amount of time. There are other places and groups available to help you with this, like SCORE http://www.score.org/resources/business-plans-financial-statements-template-gallery, Bplans.com or even Microsoft Office. Even here in your own industry there are groups that have done the work for you or will help you, such ashttp://www.powerwash.com/articles/pressure-washing-business-plan-power-wash-contractor.html. Also free examples to watch and learn from on youtube.com, just search "how to write a business plan".

And just as with many of you, Soap Warehouse went though a major change of ownership and direction and I myself will be working this month to rewrite our business plan for the next 5 year period. So join me and get set for a new year with an updated business plan.

Caveman-Business-Plan.jpg

Tags: business plan

How to manage your time to be the most productive for your business.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Thu, Jun 11, 2015 @ 08:34 AM

If you are lucky enough to have reached the point where you can have a crew or two working for you handing the actual work of your business congratulations.

But now how do you use this new found freedom of not working daily out in the field on a job site to improve and grow your business the best way you can?

Well that can not be easily answered in just a short blog post, so sorry in advance for this ones length. It will take each person a lot of time, trying a number of different things over days, weeks, months and even years to get this accomplished. But there are ways to make this process move along faster.

First you have to know the type of person you are and what work style gives you the best results. It is not going to be the same for every business owner out there and you have to learn and nurture what yours is.

You can buy books, get into a program, go to seminars put on by other very successful people but there is no guarantee that even if you do exactly what they did you will be as successful even if they have a carbon copy of you and your business, which of course no one is or does, even as a twin or with a franchise.

You first have to not only know your business but know yourself. What makes you the most productive? Look back over the last month or so and make notes as to what tasks you have had to do, what steps did to take  to get them done and do you think you did them the most effective way? If you could have had perfect control what would you have done to get those tasks done sooner? better?

Ex: You had a company ask for a bid and it took you 3 days to get it ready and deliver it to them and they went with someone else that was not lower in cost but faster in their response. Examine what steps you took to do that task and what could have been done better. Where you delayed by scheduled work? Well that problem is now solved. Did it take you too long to get an accurate calculation of the scope of the work? Did not have time to get to the site, Google Maps didn't have a clear view of the area or building? So time will not be as big of a facture moving forward what else could have helped?

Next you need to know how and when you are the most productive.

Are you a morning person, like to start the day early and get as much done right away to leave the rest of the day open for new things as they come in? Are you a slow starter and like to build up to more difficult or more time consuming tasks as the day goes on? Are you a list maker that can work down a list item by item completing each one in order? Do you need complete separation from distractions to get a task done? Can you delegate tasks and not feel you have to micro manage and revisit tasks others are doing for you? Do you work better by breaking a big task down into smaller pieces that you can do in short burst of time and maybe not in a certain order and be able to do other things in between them?

You need to know what works best for you and then create and implement a routine. No one can tell you their perfect system and know it will work the same for you.

But here are some tips others have used to be more productive and you can see if they will work for you.

Organize your day or week into blocks depending on when you have found your are most productive. Some as I mentioned are early risers, some are night owls while many are at their mental peek mid-day from 11 am to 2 pm. Some people want to start the week off with the biggest task they will have to have done by Friday while others want to clear all the small tasks out of the way and work best undisturbed under a deadline on Friday. If possible set these blocks of time to be undisturbed, turn off the cell phone, don't look at e-mail, let everyone know that during these few hours every day or on certain days, like Tuesday and Thursday you are not to be interrupted.

Inside of these blocks, do the things you don't want to do first. It is easy to do the things we love to do and hard to even think about starting the ones we do not. But if you put that hard task first and not allow yourself to move on to something else until it is done, the feeling of accomplishment once it is finished is much more pronounced and will make it easier the next time.

Focus on one task at a time, the biggest first. A lot of smaller tasks can trip you up into not getting the bigger usually more important thing done within the time you have set. Plus it is easier to move the smaller less important tasks forward into the next block of time you already have set up.

Work in the moment. If you are overwhelmed with how much you have to do, that is all you will think about instead of the task at hand. Do not try to multi-task and do not allow interruptions to stop you.

Have a To-Do List broken down into different sections. You might even want to create your own.

DailyToDoListPageMyToDoList

The three things that have to get done today no mater what, then the rest of To do today, this week, this month, for a long term goal. Try to get everything off your to do today list by a certain time each day, one or two off the this week section, each week one or two off the this month section and try to work on a least one task a week off the long term goal section.

Deal with it only once. When an issue comes up that should not be ignored, deal with it now and have it over and done. Ex: A customer calls not happy with something on a job, take the call, find out what the problem is, and if possible resolve it right then. If you need to speak with a crew member before it can be resolved, call him right then get his side, tell him how you want it handled and call the customer right back with what you have instructed to be done and ask if that is satisfactory. Do not tell the customer you will have to first speak with your employees once they are back in the office and will get back with them later or tomorrow. Or if the solution is not satisfactory to the customer keep going until it is. Then you are free to move on back to your set tasks.

Set up a calendar for repeated tasks, this is one that I do. For instance, I have to submit a script for a monthly video by the 8th of each month, at the first of the year I look to see when the 8th falls each month during the year. If it is during the middle of the week I can plan on needing to know my subject and set time during those few days, at least 3 hours in total, to write the script, enter and download all the photos needed for that video. If it is on a Friday I want the time set up and done before I take lunch. If it falls on a Monday I can start on Friday afternoon and set my block of time Monday right after lunch. At the end of each month I need to have decided on what our product specials will be for the next month, find a photo, create the Facebook cover shot to be ready to post it on the first which can take at least 1/2 hour of time, what my daily Facebook and Twitter post should cover during each month so that I can write them and set them all up in Hootsuite as many at a time as I can in the time I have set for that day, that can take a few hours to research, enter and schedule. I also have tasks that fall only once a quarter like filling out and filing our quarterly sales tax return before the 20th of the following month. Things like that should be an item put on your weekly to do list when that time comes around.

The calendar is also a way to set up long term goals. I have to choose and know when the industry shows we will attend are during the year, will we just exhibit or am I also going to be a speaker and set up all the tasks that will be required to do the best job I can at these events. I have been doing some tasks for these events for this upcoming Fall since January. Things like choosing event swag, will it go on sale or be discontinued before we need to order it. How much and of what type of products will we take, what will be our booth drawing prize, will we be featuring a new product, if I am presenting am I revamping a previous talk or making a new one from scratch, will we need new collateral materials made for the events, signs, flyers, SDS's catalogs, etc.

And one I love, Don't be paralyzed by perfection. Some people are afraid to make a decision or say they have finished a task because it may not be perfect. It is better to let something be done or go out the door that may not be 100% perfection rather than hold on to it hoping to remove every flaw and miss opportunities. I am never 100% happy with a blog post or an article, or a presentation, but that allows me to go back and improve on it and send it out again in a new better version a little while down the road.

Well again congratulations on your new found freedom of not working daily out in the field but hello to the new challenge of making the best use of this time to move your business onward and upward.

Tags: Business, business plan, productivity,, time management,

How to take a look back on this years business.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Fri, Dec 19, 2014 @ 09:53 AM

I wrote this blog post four years ago but I thought I should bring it out again with a little up dating as well.


Here are ways to look back at the end of the year and set up to do in the new year to focus on the positive and hopefully change any negatives to make your next year even more merry and bright.


1. During the year, monthly, or even weekly if you have time, record your progress for that time period. At the end of the year, you’ll be able to look back and see how much you really have accomplished. If you did not do that this year it is not too late to get out the appointment book or job accounting records, take a look at your email account and take a trip down memory lane. Keep lists of the following:

• all the new contacts you’ve made in person;
• all the one-on-one email, Facebook or similar B2B contacts you’ve made;
• any networking events, lunches, meetings you’ve attended and the benefit you got from them;
• press releases you published or any free publicity you’ve received;
• any classes you’ve taken to further your business, and how they improved your business plan;
• any recognition, award or nomination you’ve received;
• new clients you’ve gotten this year and how much they financially impacted your bottom line;
• volunteer projects you’ve taken on;
• how many referrals did your referral program bring you;
• potential clients who’ve shown an interest in you that you can revisit this next year;
• creation or improvements of your web site, social media, business cards and other marketing materials.


2. Join a Business Success Team. These weekly group meetings with other small business owners are great for sharing ideas and the agenda often requires participants to report what they’ve done the past week and set a new goal for the following week. This is great incentive to do what you said you would. Not all “B&I” groups are the same so find one that fits your marketing style and has members you think you can learn from.


3. Ask clients for feedback on the work you’ve done for them. Get verbal testimonials over the phone, in writing is best and if possible shoot B&A video of jobs with the customer’s reaction after work in finished. Photo B&A will work too.


4. Keep an e-mail folder where you keep testimonials and any positive feedback you’ve received for something you’ve done. Add these monthly to your web site, Pinterest board, or as footnotes to your e-mails.


5. Call up a friend, networking buddy or another entrepreneur and go for coffee. Getting out of the office and sharing similar concerns with a like-minded person is a great morale booster and problem solving activity. Knowing you are not the only one in the same boat or that has faced the same difficulty leaves you feeling better and hopefully with a solution or possitive outlook.


6. Finally make your self a list of how you can use these positive things to promote and make your business better in the next year.


Happy Holiday and Happy New Year to you all.

Tags: analysis, Best Management Practices, business plan, End of Year

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