We hear and read an awful lot these days that people want to get back to normal. Whatever that is? Often, in their mind they are thinking that normal is pre-COVID-19. Well folks I don’t think that is going to happen. And here’s why.
Whenever there is a significant change in life it never goes back to where things were before the change. History tells us this. Just look at every significant change that took place since 1900. After the First World War things were not the same as prior to the war. After the Spanish flu things were not the same after the Spanish flu. After the advent of the development of the automobile and air travel, we approached travel differently. After the Second World War we developed new social, health and educational systems. After the development of the internet we approached our shopping, communications, and yes even our relationships differently. After each change the way we approached business, work and life after the event were never the same as they were before the event.
Often when people face change, they become afraid – afraid of losing what they have accumulated and afraid of what the future might bring. We still have people denying climate change, claiming the earth is flat, claiming that the US didn’t land someone on the moon, and that 9/11 was caused by the US government.
Adjusting to new realities is a fact of life. We cannot hang on to yesteryear, nor yesterday – they are past. Everyday a new world opens up for us. People who have most difficulty with the new day always seem to see the storm clouds rather than the sun above the clouds. They are shadowed by the darkness rather than the light, which as Leonard Cohn sang (and I paraphrase) always shines through the cracks.
I have seen the same reactions to change in many of the organizations I have worked with. It’s the ambiguity and paradox that we experience as a result of the change. We are not comfortable because our comfort zone is shaken. Our sense of security is lost in the turmoil. And ever so slowly we become comfortable with the new. In these days of rapid change, however, becoming comfortable with the new really means becoming comfortable with ambiguity because the new doesn’t stay very long.
During change we come face-to-face with ourselves. Often it relates to the lack of confidence in ourselves that we can get through this, and that things will be alright. In many ways we have given our sense of who we are over to some other person, institution, or movement. We become chained to what we know and what comforts us and we perceive things through those lens rather than an openness to the different and the new. We can’t seem to let go because we no longer have a sense of control.
Does this then make all change appropriate or acceptable? No, not necessarily – if the change is not for the common good, doesn’t hold to universal principles and values, and isn’t inclusive than it isn’t sound or healthy change. Negative change usually means change for a privileged few or one group over another or for selfish reasons to the exclusion of others.
Reactions to change in business, organizations, and institutions, whether they be religious or otherwise, often get played out by people bucking the change process and wanting to keep the status quo. They often focus on keeping past policies, procedures, structures, and even rubric. What is not realized or understood is that change is evolutionary, unfolding and what worked in the past no longer works today. Each age and stage of organizations and society has its follies which require fixing. As we go through the ‘fixing’ pain occurs. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “there are no gains without pains.”
So what do we do:
So will there be a new normal? Absolutely, but it wont look or feel like the past. It’s about building better and not recycling the past. The real message here though is to be ready for an uncertain future fraught with difficulties and pain but there is hope for the better when people work together to find solutions rather than holding on and holding back.
Thank you for reading,
Guess what? In order for you to succeed in business you need to make sales. Our firm helped over 150 individuals open their ‘bricks and mortar’ business with over an 80% success rate after five years of being in business. Our success rate was predicated on two factors: we did a lot of screening of people who wanted to establish a business; and those who went on to open their business we provided small business training and then coached them through their ups and downs.
During the review process we screened out more people than we accepted. One factor we considered was their ability to sell. More than one of those individuals said that they wanted to start a business but didn’t want to sell. That was o.k. if they could hire salespeople, but if they couldn’t they needed to put their salesperson hat on. We found the comment “I don’t want to sell” a red flag because the lifeblood of any business is all about attracting and retaining customers.
Over the past couple of years I have been moving my successful face-to-face consulting and training business to an on-line business.
Common to both internet and face-to-face businesses is the ability to market and sell. There is a difference though between marketing and selling. Marketing is about informing your community or potential customers about your business and what it has to offer. Selling is about closing the deal once you have a customer or potential customer in front of you.
Marketing for both businesses most often deals with potential customers who you don’t normally see. It is about attracting leads to your business through all matter of ways, such as advertising, public relations, providing good information, promotion, attending trade shows and more.
There is a difference, however, when it comes to selling. In a bricks and mortar business the sale most often occurs during face-to-face encounters but in an internet business the sale most often is faceless. During an internet sale you need to help people decide to buy your product or service without actually seeing them. However, there are aids to this. Most successful Internet Marketers call upon the visuals of You Tube, and keep in touch through Skype, Zoom or Facetime. So although not physically present, we can make a virtual presence.
The essential key for both businesses to making sales and maintaining customers is the ability to develop long-term relationships.
I still regard myself as a newbie in the internet marketing world, but I have learned some valuable lessons along the way. Here are some of them.
1. Email those on your email list on a regular basis with something of value outside of selling a product. Most emails I get from internet marketers are about products they are promoting (read, selling). Rarely do I receive anything from them outside of product promotion. Yes, they do offer “bonuses” if you buy, but that is a promotional element as an enticement to buy.
2. Send emails to all those who send emails to you. Share one of your best practices with them. Don’t sell anything with this strategy, just build a relationship and add value.
3. Pick out 10 people on your list every week and email them a relevant PDF, eBook or article with a note that you are thinking of them.
4. Blast out a ‘Thank You’ to all those on your list. They are helping you become successful. Don’t wait until you’ve made it as they are helping you today along your journey.
5. Check your marketing strategy and ask yourself whether you are selling stuff or asking how you can help others. Make sure your strategies are about adding value.
6. Find out what your internet marketing associates need, both those who market and sell to you as well as those who you consider your mentors and support system. Be bold and ask them what you can do for them or what they need. You may be surprised when you hear their answer.
7. Strengthen distant relationships by telling stories on YouTube or in emails about your experiences such as what’s working for you and how it may help others. For instance, I often tell stories about my consulting experiences and how it relates to my new internet marketing venture; others tell stories about how they have risen from the brink of bankruptcy to a successful on-line business.
8. Start a Facebook group to share information and learn from each other. I found you don’t have to be an internet marketing guru to share information. You just have to be honest, forthright and ethical. And join Facebook groups where you offer suggestions and respond to other requests, rather than joining only to mine new contacts for your own marketing and selling benefit.
9. Coordinate a webinar where you and others share information about what is working and discuss how to resolve specific marketing issues.
10. Communicate regularly through social media such as Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and others.
11. Provide freebies to those on your list. They could be copies of your own blog posts, PLR articles or eBooks you think will help them. Don’t expect something in return and be surprised because the return will come. It’s a very simple strategy, ‘give to get’.
12. Simplify, Simplify, Simplify. The genius in us makes the complex simple. I find there is too much complexity in the internet marketing world. I’ve learned most from those who explain the complex in simple terms – it tells me they understand. Often when we explain things in complex terms it makes us feel important, but when we do it with simplicity it humbles us.
13. Join an internet make money online training program such as Breakthrough (I’m a member).
14. Keep learning. There is a wealth of information on YouTube about internet marketing and selling. Here are a few I pay close attention to: Trevor Carr, John Chrestani, Caffienated Blogger, Jonas Lindgren, Jono Armstrong, Richard Fairburn, Paul O’Keef, ODI productions, Project Life Mastery, and Paul Nichols.
15. Just like ‘bricks and mortar’ businesses, internet marketers have national and international conferences where they learn, socialize and expand their business acumen. If you can take advantage of these, and if you can’t I found that at least the learning is often posted. You can find out about them through your network of internet marketers.
16. Leads, Leads and Leads. Making money online is in your list building capacity. Many of us when starting out don’t have a list – or have a list from another life.
17. And, don’t forget the importance of face-to-face encounters. Remember your professional associates and personal network and ask them how you can add value to what they do.
18. Just as you are an internet marketer and seller, you are also a buyer. Here are a few cautions about products you purchase:
These 18 marketing and selling strategies boil down to: Learn from others: simplify the complex; add value without expecting a return; communicate consistently; continually search for leads; do everything with integrity; keep grounded; and always say thank you.
Thank you to all those who are helping me along my journey and thank you for reading.
Last year I wrote an article on the ‘Five Essentials for Home-based Business Operators’. Little did I know then about what we are experiencing today. I'm referring of course to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) that is spreading throughout the world. Governments and companies of all stripes are taking drastic action to curtail this ugly and deadly contagion.
As offices and business close down there is a resurgence of ‘working from home.’
Four years ago I moved my consulting and training business from an office located in the centre of our city to my home. That was my choice.
What we are witnessing today is how businesses are responding to this global health crises. From their perspective business must go on and one way to make this happen is to have employees work from home. So, not by personal choice, like mine was, employees are needing to establish home-based offices.
This shift in the ‘way we do business,’ also provides opportunity. It may give employees, who once thought of establishing a business, a chance to test out a home-based business. A business that doesn’t rely on someone else or having to travel to an outside office located within a company or government complex.
To help those who are now having to adjust to their new-found freedom from office politics and such, I’m updating the article of April 2019 to reflect this new reality. Please read on…
Over the years I have assisted over a 100 budding entrepreneurs as they ventured out into the marketplace using their home office as their first base. Those were heady and exciting times, both for me as I learned about their business and for them as they ventured out into the marketplace with their products and services. There were five essentials we discussed as foundational to helping them adjust to their home office. They were important then and they are just as important today as many are now having to work from home.
I encourage you to review your disciplinary practices. Just as there are distractions at an office setting – people interrupting you, office politics, desktop messes, noise, emails, shifting priorities, you get the picture – there are distractions in the home setting – television programs, social media, friendly telephone calls, neighbors dropping by, poor priority setting, and desktop messes to name a few.
I have often said that it takes more discipline to operate a business from home than from an external office. At home there are no supervisors or minders watching over you and urging you on to better perform. At home you are the leader-manager in charge. It is completely up to you. Your performance or lack thereof falls completely on your shoulders. The locus of control moves from outside yourself, to inside yourself.
To perform well you need discipline to:
Keep to your knitting
Avoid facetime, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and others, unless of course they are essential for your business, and if that is the case then set time aside to deal with them appropriately. Don’t let them interrupt your knitting.
You can get lost in your work especially if you feel you are on a roll and ideas are flowing and tasks are getting accomplished. However, a huge mistake that home-office practitioners make is not taking nutrition or energy producing breaks. What I mean by ‘energy producing breaks’ are breaks that take you away from what you are doing at the moment and giving your mind some rest time.
Energy producing breaks include going for a quick walk, tending to a household chore, taking a five-minute meditation break, or fuelling up with an energy bar or a dish of fruit. The point here is the need to break from your office work and focus on something else for short periods of time. This gives your brain rest and up ticks your over all energy.
Research suggests that 90 minutes of concentrated effort and then a ten or fifteen break produces more in the long run and contributes to alleviating burnout.
Separate Office Space
It’s important that you find office space for yourself and your business. This is somewhere in the home or apartment that you can call your office. For some this is initially on the dining table or in a bedroom. The point here is that you need a space to conduct your responsibilities or your business, someplace where you can keep all the important stuff.
For some that means a place for your computer, paper, envelopes, books and whatever else is needed; for those who claim that they are completely mobile - everything they need is on their mobile device – will also need someplace within their home to call their specific office space. I have yet to find a serious businessperson who has everything on their mobile.
A good practice is also to dress as if you are going to the office. If your office culture is one where the dress code is casual, then dress casually; if it is one where more formal attire is the practice, then dress appropriately. When we are transitioning to a home-based office setting our findings suggest that you keep to the same or similar routines until you have built up the resistance to your new-found distractions, or as some people like to call them – temptations.
Working from home can be a lonely and isolating experience. We know that businesses grow based on relationships. In order to build relationships we need to be in contact with people. Simply stated we do this is by getting out of the house or apartment and meeting customers and colleagues in the field. It is important to expand relationship building reach by joining a professional association, a business network association such as Chamber of Commerce, a women or men’s business network, a service association such as Rotary and Kiwanis International, or becoming active in your faith-based community. Getting involved in outside activity helps you build necessary relationships and provides a social outlet that you would not experience by keeping yourself isolated in your home office.
Of course the above applies to those who have or are establishing a home-based business and doesn’t necessarily reflect the temporary nature of home-based operations. However, the importance of getting out of the home still applies. It just means that you need to avoid crowded places and follow the advice of the health professionals. If you have been quarantined because of the virus that is another matter. You will need to find other ways to network such as using the telephone, email, Skype or Facetime
One of the things I heard most often from home-based business owners was their pushback on administrative tasks. This is one area where procrastination was the word of the hour. Administration is often seen as an afterthought, but not paying attention to the detail that administration asks of you, may cause serious difficulties in the long run. Take for example not paying attention to outstanding bills, up-dating client information, attending to customer invoicing, or submitting due taxes. In the long run not doing due diligence on these matters costs you money, affect your cash-flow or impact your customer relations. So before procrastinating on administrative tasks think about the loss of income, customers and cash-flow. Three important ingredients for a successful business.
In the case of a temporary home-based office, you may still be required to keep on top of your administrative tasks. These will most likely be determined by your employer. Whatever they may be, set aside time to get them done.
Yes, these are anxious times primarily because of the ambiguity of what the future holds. We do not know the full extent of the impact of the Coronavirus. It may well turn out to be a very bumpy ride. We already know that it is causing serious disruptions in the way we relate, do commerce and plan for the future.
In some respects the virus may be a blessing as it is forcing us to step back from a world that was spinning out of control causing tremendous anxiety and stress. It may be giving us time to step back and breathe. We need to hold on and keep calm as life teaches us that this too shall pass. It’s worthwhile to keep in mind the words of Steve Maraboli:
"Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you have power over instead of craving control over what you don't."
Thank you for reading
Richard P. Fontanie
Note: Steve Maraboli is a motivational speaker, behavioral scientist and best-selling author.
To truly understand the entrepreneurial spirit we need to get into the minds of successful entrepreneur. It is here where we find the 5 characteristics of an entrepreneur. And it is here where we learn that the entrepreneurial spirit isn't something that can be taught, but instead, it is something that is developed from within.
A person with an entrepreneurial spirit shifts the locus of control from outside him or herself to inside themselves. They drive themselves to succeed and are highly motivated to achieve something when others are afraid to take a risk. They don’t wait for someone else to start. They are self-starters. However, contrary to popular opinion they just don’t jump at things that fancy them. They are calculated risk takers.
An entrepreneurial spirit develops in those individuals who can demonstrate a genuine passion for building something great and those who are willing to push themselves to the limit to achieve their goals. Here are five characteristics that represent those with an entrepreneurial spirit.
1. They Are Deeply Passionate
Passionate people know what it's like to completely understand a subject and are willing to dive deep into their understanding of the subject. People with an entrepreneurial spirit are genuinely passionate about the problems they are trying to solve and are energized by any challenges they face in their pursuit.
2. They Are Always Questioning
The average individual hardly ever considers how ordinary, everyday things can be improved. Those who have an entrepreneurial spirit can't help but try and find ways to improve the ordinary. They continually question why things are done the way they are and enjoy bucking the system to make necessary changes to succeed.
3. They Are Optimistic
To be entrepreneurial is, by nature, to be optimistic. People who possess an entrepreneurial spirit don't waste their time thinking about what they aren't able to do, but instead, see the possibilities in everything. When you are first starting a business, the odds are strongly against you becoming successful, but by remaining optimistic, you can overcome challenges and survive setbacks along the way.
4. They Take Calculated Risks
Along with being optimistic, entrepreneurs are predisposed to a high tolerance for risk. Rather than jumping blindly into action, those with an entrepreneurial spirit make calculated moves while understanding that they don’t have a guarantee of succeeding. Successful entrepreneurs also can work autonomously and can be decisive. The entrepreneurial path isn’t always clear, so you have to be able to stay agile and adept in a high degree of ambiguity.
5. They Take Action
Above any other characteristic, those with an entrepreneurial spirit know when to execute on their ideas. You have to be able to go out and act on your plans to get real, honest feedback. This is because your ideas are meaningless until they are acted on. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, you realize that the execution of your ideas is everything when it comes down to your success.
Not everyone will be successful as an entrepreneur. It is essential to possess these five characteristics of an entrepreneurial spirit if you want to succeed in your business.
The flip side of being entrepreneurial is ensuring that systems and processes are in place to get the job done. Often the entrepreneur isn’t the person to wear both of these hats. If your strength is one of an entrepreneur and not a manager, then I highly recommend you hire a manager and delegate the managerial tasks to her. Then let her manage, while you provide the entrepreneurial leadership.
Thank you for reading,
When it comes to business and sales, building a strong relationship is critical. The stronger your relationship is with your customer, the more likely they will refer others to your business.
Every day we have an opportunity to connect on a human level with our customers. We live in an age where efficiency is the byword. Our communication boils down to a text message, a quick email or a telephone message. Human contact is put on the back burner. So how do we keep the human contact with our customers alive in today’s fast paced marketplace?
The last thing you want to do is make your customers feel like a statistic.
When given the chance show them that their business is appreciated. Talk to them, strike up a non-business conversation with them. It could involve just about anything, such as the weather, sports, a movie, and pets. This doesn’t need to be a long conversation. You can make it ‘short and sweet’ as they say. The key here is that you are making a human connection and not acting like a robot.
Non-business conversation puts your customer at ease and gets them talking. The more they talk to you, the more they will open up to you. This gives you a bit of a window into their lives allowing you to understand them better. The end result may be an opportunity for you to make more sales. My cautionary point here is for you to be genuine and not seen as manipulative. Customers seek genuine interactions and they can see through manipulative communications.
Keep your conversations simple. For starters, get to know your customers by name, then address them by name. Say things such as, “how’s it going today Bill?” Or “how was your weekend Wendy?” Or “is there anything I can help you with today George?” Make your presence known and felt.
You can use the same tactic when communicating by email, text message or telephone message. Use your customer’s name. Their name is important and is tied to their identify.
Your customer wants to feel appreciated, so take a few minutes of your time to show them that you care about them as a person.
Another way to strengthen your relationship with your customer is to keep a Rolodex or digital address book handy with a list of all of your customers birthdays, anniversaries, and special events. Keep your eyes and ears open for when customers talk about upcoming events in their lives. Such as children’s birthdays and graduations.
When the appropriate date approaches, send your customer a card, whether it is a holiday card, a birthday card, a graduation card, or a congratulatory card. Just send it.
Your customers will appreciate the fact that you remembered them on their special day. This will only strengthen the relationship you already have with them.
By the way personal cards, via snail mail, is appreciated a lot more by the elderly than emails. This is an important factor once you recognize that the elderly population comprises over ten percent of your customers and depending on the products and services of your business perhaps an even greater percentage. The elderly comprise a significant number of people, often forgotten, in the age of push button communications.
There are many reasons to build a strong relationship with your customers. I suggest two of them:
One main reason is that customers value and appreciate good customer service. They want the peace of mind of knowing that if something ever happened with their product or service, that they would have you to turn to as their go to person.
This is significant because your customer will have this in mind when your competition moves in to take them away.
And believe me, your competition will try to take them away. As long as you provide excellent customer service, you have a much greater chance that your customer will stick with you.
There is no substitute for excellent customer service.
Customer service is the most important thing to a customers, even more important than what they pay for goods or service.
The second reason building relationships are so important is because of the referral process.
A customer that is treated with respect and provided excellent customer service will most assuredly refer their family and friends to you. Why wouldn’t they?
Your most important asset is your customer, so build and strengthen the foundations you have with them. By building strong relationships, you will be building your sales.
Thank you for reading,
Richard P. Fontanie
For more than 25 years, I've dealt with bankers that have supported my clients' growth and successes
Therefore, I feel highly qualified to know a great banker when I see one. And I've had the pleasure of working with many great bankers, and continue to meet dynamic new bankers who will definitely help my clients—and their clients—grow.
You know you've got a great banker when your banker:
A great banker can help you grow your business and build your business wealth as much if not more than your best customer. They provide the fuel that helps you go fast and far!
Phil Symchych, The Business Wealth Builder. Printed with permission.
Entrepreneurs and business owners are the modern-day heroes in our economy.
However, they don't have a government pension. They don't get two months off in the summer. They aren't guaranteed a paycheque. They sign unlimited personal guarantees to the banks. They take risks that most people are unaware of and unequipped to handle. But it's all part of a normal day for an entrepreneur.
Globally, entrepreneurs support 54% of the gross domestic product in the top 17 economies, according to the World Bank. They create the most net new jobs. And they employ a lot of people that enhance the quality of our lives.
To help my clients and entrepreneurs, and owners of mid-market companies everywhere, I recommend they develop structures that enhance the creation and protection of their business wealth. Because, if they don't, they could lose everything.
As always, consult with qualified professionals including financial planners, accountants, lawyers, and tax advisors to ensure your structure is optimized for your unique situation and your goals. Be careful when using advisors who are not compensated directly by you and only receive commissions from products they sell. When in doubt, take a commissioned advisor's advice to an independent professional for assessment.
Figure 32.1 Structures to Create and Protect Business Wealth
Savings and Pensions
First, pay yourself first. We can all take advantage of government supported savings programs like Registered Retirement Savings Plans, or RRSPs in Canada, and 401Ks in the US. In Canada, RRSPs are protected from business and personal creditors. If you're not maximizing your RRSP savings or other type of company pensions, then you're not optimizing your wealth.
Second, utilize legal structures that allow you to hold assets in one company, such as a holding company that owns the land and buildings necessary for your business. Then, your operating company pays fair market value rent to your holding company. Your holding company can be a long-term revenue stream from rental revenue, even if you sell your operating company or move it to a different location. This also protects the assets in the holding company from actions of unhappy people who deal with the operating company.
Third, develop tax efficiency among the entities in order to maximize your after-tax cash flow and build your wealth. Tax efficiency includes the use of dividends between companies and to shareholders (by class of shares held), income splitting using fair market value salaries, and many other fine points of tax planning and legitimate deductions beyond the scope of this article.
Do not minimize your taxes in your operating company. This is a common and serious mistake that is advised by many short-sighted accountants.
Minimizing taxes hurts your operating company's balance sheet because you don't build up equity in the form of retained earnings. A lack of retained earnings limits how much you can borrow to fund and accelerate growth. That hurts your wealth. I've calculated that paying taxes can, with an inventory turnover of four times and a gross margin of 40%, generate an ROI of over 1,000% to your wealth.
If you're planning on selling your business, you need to have a proper tax structure in place for at least two years, or you could lose out on the capital gains exemption and pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax, unnecessarily.
Good Debt and Security
Finally, borrow wisely. When you're a small business (under ten million dollars in annual revenues), the bankers will demand that you sign unlimited personal guarantees as security. That's because often the business lacks the retained earnings and stable cash flows to give high levels of comfort, so the bank improves their security position by taking everything you own as backup collateral. That's normal and often unavoidable when you're a small business.
The goal is to provide only enough security for the borrowing, and no more. Mid-market companies often grow beyond the capacity of a personal guarantee and the company can support the debt. That's a good thing.
Always protect yourself first. That's the only way you will be able to grow and control your future. Otherwise, everyone else will take as much as they can get and you might be left with nothing, despite taking the most risks.
From Phil’s Vault:
The basic structures to build your wealth include:
1. Protected personal savings
2. Legal structures to minimize risk and increase flexibility
3. Tax efficient planning that does not minimize short term taxes, and
4. Smart borrowing where security is balanced to the debt.
Are you using all of these structures to create and protect your business wealth?
If you're a business owner and you'd like to discuss how to optimize your business wealth structures, give me a call. We'll have a half-hour complimentary conversation that is guaranteed to give you some ideas that you can discuss with your professional advisors.
Phil Symchych, The Business Wealth Builder. Printed with permission.
Last Month Phil Symchych outlined his Financial Manifesto, this month he outlines his Manifesto For Business Growth. Copied with Permission with some minor format changes..
Achieving profitable business growth to build your wealth is neither simple nor easy. However, by keeping focused on critical factors that ensure profits and growth, you can be successful in growing your business and building your wealth.
Here is my Growth Manifesto
Part I: Performance and Growth
Part III: Living and Leaving a Legacy
My colleague Phil Symchych in his newsletter #27 "Cash Isn't King, It's the Ace - The Financial Manifesto" writes "after 25 years as a management consultant and CPA advising private companies on growth and building business wealth, I have developed these 12 financial philosophies and strategies that help clients to accelerate profitable growth, maximize the valuation of their companies, and dramatically increase their personal wealth.
Over the years I have assisted over a 100 budding entrepreneurs as they developed their businesses using their home office as their first base. Those were heady and exciting times, both for me as I learned about their businesses and for them as they ventured out into the marketplace with their products and services. We discussed five essentials, among others, as foundational for adjusting to their home office. They were important then and they are just as important now if you are thinking about establishing or have already established a home-based business.
Discipline: I encourage you to review your disciplinary practices. Just as there are distractions at a external office setting – people interrupting you, desktop messes, noise, emails, shifting priorities, you get the picture – there are distractions in the home setting – television programs, social media, friendly telephone calls, poor priority setting, a neighbor dropping by for a coffee, and desktop messes to name a few. I have often said that sometimes it takes more discipline to operate a business from home than from an external office. At home there are no supervisors or minders watching you and urging you on to better perform. At home you are the leader-manager in charge. It is completely up to you. Your performance or lack there of falls completely on your shoulders. And to perform well you need discipline to:
Take Breaks: You can get lost in your work especially if you feel you are on a roll and ideas are flowing and tasks are getting accomplished. However, a huge mistake that home-office practitioners make is not taking nutrition or energy producing breaks. What I mean by ‘energy producing breaks’ are breaks that take you away from what you are doing at the moment and giving your mind some rest time. Energy producing breaks include going for a quick walk, tending to a household chore, taking a five-minute meditation break, or fueling up with an energy bar or a dish of fruit. The point here is the need to break from your office work and focus on something else for short periods of time. This gives your brain rest and up ticks your over all energy. Research suggests that 90 minutes of concentrated effort and then a ten or fifteen break produces more in the long run and contributes to alleviating burnout.
Separate Office: It’s important that you find office space for yourself and your business. This is somewhere in the home or apartment that you can call your office. For some this is initially on the dining table or in a bedroom. The point here is that you need a space to conduct your business, where you can keep all the important stuff related to your business. For some that means a place for your computer, paper, envelopes, books and whatever else is needed; for others who claim they are completely mobile - everything they need is on their mobile device – that means they also need someplace within their home to call their specific office space. To those who fall into the latter category I have yet to find a serious business person who has everything on their mobile. If you cannot find a space within your home, consider the growing number of co-op offices that are popping up where business owners can rent a desk or small office at a reasonable rate.
Network: Working from home can be a lonely and isolating experience. We know that business grow based on relationships. In order to build relationships we need to be in contact with people. Simply stated we do this is by getting out of the house or apartment and meeting customers and colleagues in the field. It is important to expand relationship building reach by joining a professional association, a business network association such as Chamber of Commerce, a women or men’s business network, a service association such as Rotary and Kiwanis International, or becoming active in your faith-based community. Getting involved in outside activity helps you build necessary relationships and provides a social outlet that you would not experience by keeping yourself isolated in your home office.
Administration: One of the things I heard most often from home-based business owners was their push-back on administrative tasks. This is one area where procrastination was the word of the hour. Administration is often seen as an afterthought, but not paying attention to the detail that administration asks of you, may cause serious difficulties in the long run. Take for example not paying attention to outstanding bills, up-dating client information, attending to customer invoicing, or submitting due taxes. In the long run not doing due diligence on these matters costs you money, affects your cash-flow or impacts your customer relations. So before procrastinating on administrative tasks think about the loss of income, customers and cash-flow. Three important ingredients for a successful business.
Thank you for reading
Richard P. Fontanie