Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Do You Know When To Say No ?

For those that missed it I want to start by directing you to my cash money contest and by letting you know there is still a few weeks left to get your entry in and for those that have already entered, I would like to say that I have read each entry thus far and I can see the choice will be hard to make when deciding a winner. I see several that just stand out as above excellent.

Now, on to my post. I want to discuss debt , it affects the majority of Americans and most of that is due to how we are taught to view money when we are young. I know we are all taught that money is good but how many of us are actually taught the value of a dollar saved or about planning for the future. We are too busy trying to keep up with the broke as can be Jones' with all their new stuff that we fail to see the big picture.

I personally know people that will be in debt for the rest of their lives, not because they can't get out of it but because they choose not to. You could give them a million dollars and they would be broke inside of three years due to poor money management. They freely spend money they shouldn't on things they do not need simply to be able to tell their friends "Look what I have." Personally, I would rather retire early debt free and enjoy my golden years sitting on a dock overlooking a lake with the woman I love.

The point I'm trying to make is life is all about choices, nobody can make them for you and one of the biggest choices we owe to ourselves is to know when to spend and know when to save. Sometimes saying "No" to yourself can be the hardest thing to do but it can also be the best decision you can make for your financial future.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Words to Think About

"It's amazing what you can accomplish, when you don't know, what you can't do"

Farrah Gray - Self Made Millionaire by the age of 14

Anything You Dream, You Can Achieve

I once knew a man that owned a very successful siding business. One day I overheard one of his workers asking him why he never did any siding himself. The man replied by saying he didn't know how. The man then continued by explaining that although he didn't know how to side a home, he did recognize that people would pay for the service so he invested his money into equipment and hired workers that did know how to do the job. In under ten years time he had built a multi-million dollar a year company. He didn't start off with a fleet of trucks but prior proper planning helped him build his dream.

Another company, founded in 1947, that started with just one man, one vehicle, and a good business plan is Stanley Steemer, one of the most recognized names in carpet cleaning today. In 2003 their total sales topped 300 million dollars.

Both businesses mentioned above are proof that you can do anything as long as you have a plan. I just know someone is going to say that you need funding as well so I will refute that by saying if you don't have the funding, the first part of your plan should answer the question "What can I do to get funding?" In my case, I want to be involved in land development but that cost is high so I bootstrapped my business as a way to start saving money to invest. As long as things continue as they have been, I will be able to start my first real estate deal within another 2 years. With proper reinvestment of funds, my projects and net worth will continue to grow. I'm right on track as far as my plan goes. I do what I have to now so that I can do what I want to later.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Win $50 Cash Money!

We all love a good contest and we all love the thought of free money so in keeping with blogosphere traditions, I thought it was time for me to launch my very own contest. I am giving any blogger that enters a chance to win $50 via paypal. Winner will be chosen and announced on Monday May 19th, that gives everyone almost a full month to get their entries in. Contest rules are simple.

To Enter You Must:

1. Subscribe to my RSS Feed

2. write at least 50 words spreading word of this contest to others in the blogosphere.

3. Your post must contain a link back to this post.

4. Announce your entry into this contest by commenting below and leaving me a link to your post as described in rule #2.

5. The winner agrees to announce his or her win in their blog as soon as the $50 is paid.

The Winner will be chosen by myself after reading all post entries, Good Luck To All Participants.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Setting Priorities

If you're like myself, you tend to have more than one project going at a time. While this may fit in nicely with not putting all your eggs in one basket, you do have to learn to place priority on whatever is making you the most money. My business is very time consuming however I still have a few other of my own projects in the works and am currently working with a friend to brainstorm marketing ideas for his new website.

This post is all about getting your priorities in order and remembering to focus on what is most important to your immediate goals. For myself it means spending less time on some of my other projects to insure my business doesn't suffer. For my friend, it means putting in the necessary work to insure his website is designed properly with everything working prior to launching it.

Sometimes we all need to step back from what it is we want and remember there are no short cuts in life unless you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth. You can achieve anything you desire as long as you recognize where you are and the steps you must take to get to where you want to be. Get your priorities in order and remember that nothing that comes easy is worth having and nothing worth having comes easy.

Building Your Dream Team

A chain is only as strong as it's weakest link, the same can be said for a business. You can build your business, hire the best management that money can buy, have the best accountants, lawyers, and salespeople, yet if your workers themselves are not committed to your success, you will eventually fail.

I wish I could say that there is a method to hiring your dream team to help you succeed however if there is, I haven't found it yet. As for me, I screen my workers and try to keep my eyes and ears on whats going on from the office level to the job sites themselves. I have learned to identify an issue before it becomes a problem. I try to hire only those people that can bring something to the table, whether it be in the form of experience or a simple desire to be the best at what they do. From time to time, I end up thinking someone is a great fit for my dream team only to be proven wrong. It is these times when I have to step in and do what is best for my company.

Too often a businessman will try to show loyalty to friends and family that have been hired only to be taken advantage of. I myself started out with that mentality and trust me, it is the recipe for chaos. This is business, it's not personal, there can be no loyalty greater than loyalty to the business. My own thought process concerning this issue is while I like my workers, every one of them are great people and I wish them all the best in life, if they try to mistake that for weakness and start letting our friendship affect my money, they have to go.

Your business should be treated as you would your child, it should be nurtured and protected from anyone that would cause it harm. Any start-up will initially have trouble building their dream team but by remaining constantly alert to your businesses weaknesses and working steadily to put people in place that can strengthen the weak areas for you, it starts to happen.

When you finally start getting your dream team together, things just click and you can feel it. The customers are happy, the workers are happy, and most importantly, you are happy. It becomes easier to take days off or to plan Summer Vacations with full knowledge that when you return, there will be a business to return to. My advice is simple, Start building your dream team today, weed out the problems and while it is ok to accept an excuse every now and then, do not allow it to become a habit to the point that it creates chaos for your customers or yourself. A business may be started by an individual with a vision but in order to have a successful business, you must have a team that is dedicated to making that vision a reality.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Show Me The Money

At one time or another we all have ideas that we just know are going to make money, or so we think. The average person will think about this idea for awhile, maybe tell a few friends it, and it dies there. Nothing is ever done to bring this idea to light. Next comes the want to be entrepreneur who will get an idea and go all in, often losing their shirt for an idea that only made sense to themselves. Then comes along the entrepreneur...A true entrepreneur will do his research on everything from start-up costs to marketing before he invests the first dime into it. Any idea, no matter how good, is only useful if there is satisfies a need or a want of the general population. Before investing any money into any business, you must first know who you intend to be your customers and adjust your idea to fit their needs. For instance, I would never attempt to sell snow shoes in Florida. It just wouldn't make sense even though there are companies right now that are turning millions in profit annually selling snow shoes.

Marketing research can be your most valuable tool when attempting to start a business. It can show you your strengths and weaknesses in your idea or business plan. It should always be done and never rushed because as good as your idea is, If the cost to profit ratio isn't good, your beating a dead horse.

Since my business has really taken off, I have been approached by more than one person wanting me to partner with them in other business ventures. The first words out of my mouth are always "Show me the money". I need to see that they have done their research before I will even entertain the thought.

Before you dive head first into any business venture, do your research and make sure it can show you the money.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Your Greatest Obstacle As An Entrepreneur

I was thinking tonight about when I was a kid, anything was possible. I had microscopic surgery on my hand at a very early age and the doctors told my parents I would never be able to use my left hand for anything even as simple as opening and closing a door. Now, many years later, I use my left hand as well as anyone. Reason being , Kids do not understand being told they can't do something so they just do it anyway. As Children we are testing boundaries as it is and determined to do anything we are told we can't.

As adults, we lose something, let me rephrase that, we gain something...fear of failure. Some of us use that fear as a driving force to propel us forward, working harder to achieve what we want while others use it as an excuse for why they are where they are in life. They simply give in to that fear and never try. To some, trying and failing is worse than not trying. Fear can be your greatest obstacle as an entrepreneur or it can be your driving force. Which is it to you?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Are You An Impulse Shopper ?

I know most of us have heard that it is best to go grocery shopping right after a big meal so we aren't lured into buying something we really don't need or want. This is called impulse shopping and it also pertains to almost anything. A good rule of thumb is to only make a purchase after you have had time to think about it, sleep on it if you must. If you still decide you just must make the purchase, ask yourself a question.

Is this something I want or is it something I need? When I say need, I mean can you just not do without it? Would life as you know it cease to exist if you just simply did not have that new hat, purse, or whatever other frivolous item you are considering?

Next, ask yourself if you didn't make that purchase, could that money be put to better uses? Perhaps your emergency fund or paying off some bill, maybe your credit card for example.

I am in no way saying you should not spoil yourself from time to time but if you are a true impulse shopper and just cannot stop yourself, try making a list before going to the store. Sticking to buying only what's on the list is a start but lets take it a step further and look at your list closer prior to going shopping. Is there anything on the list that could be classified more as a want than a need? Is the majority of your list wants versus needs? These are just a few things to consider before spending your hard earned money. With a little self control, you don't have to be an impulse shopper.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Quote of the Day

Today I have 2 quotes for you that go hand in hand, the first is from the movie "Pirates of the Caribbean" and is :

"Take what you can, give nothing back!"

The second is from Steve Jobs:

"Why join the Navy if you can be a pirate"

Both these quotes pertain to the business world in the fact that you will always have competition willing to undercut your prices and outwork you to steal your clients. Remain vigilant and provide a quality service at a fair price to combat this and when necessary become the pirate.

Friday, April 4, 2008

How to Get and Keep Great Workers

Whenever I hire workers, I want them to understand that they are a valuable asset to my company. I would not be where I am now without workers willing to give me an honest days work for an honest days pay. These are the people I rely upon to show up and get my jobs done, on time, under budget, and correctly. They must be great at what they do and they must be able to give me 100% even on a Friday afternoon.

How do I get workers that can and will do this day after day? I make them part of my companies family, I pay them what they are worth, and I never let an opportunity to praise their work go by unnoticed. If they have a problem outside of work, I do my best to allow time for them to handle it. I will often buy lunch for the crew as a way of letting them know I appreciate the hard work. I have had bad bosses in my life and I know you attract more flies with honey than with vinegar. It costs almost nothing for me to treat my employees as equals and it breeds loyalty to my company. This is where other companies fail. A happy employee will bend over backwards for you. An unhappy one will cost you money and possibly even a few clients.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sometimes The Impossible Is Possible

Today was very trying. I had one of my biggest clients wanting me to fax a certificate of insurance to them, I immediately called my agent and was told that after 3 months with insurance on my business, the underwriters had still not provided a certificate of insurance. This was not good, I was stuck between a client threatening to drop me if I failed to provide this certificate before close of business today and an insurance agent that was so inept, he was telling me it couldn't be done.

I then called my insurance companies corporate office where the conversation went pretty much the same until I calmly asked them that if they couldn't do what I needed done would they run some numbers for me really fast. I must have confused the girl on the other end because she immediately said yes. I then began to ask her to figure out just how much money I would be suing them for when their inability to provide a service I had already paid for cost me a $150,000 a year contract.

I had the certificate of insurance in my clients hands 5 minutes later via fax.