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Entrepreneurs--Don't Put All Your Eggs In One Basket




No doubt many times you have heard the expression "don't put all your eggs in one basket." However, for entrepreneurs that could mean the difference between making or losing a sale. In previous articles of this blog I have discussed different types of businesses you might look into to make money when unemployed.  Here though is an additional aspect to consider when starting your own business: diversify!  Yes, diversity is the name of the game in this challenging economic environment that becomes increasingly competitive each day.  So what does it mean to diversify?

Basically, when you diversify you offer or create variety of your product or service. The more things you offer your customer means they will get more for their money. That's a win for them.  As such, you also have a greater chance of hitting something they need or want.  Of course, never sacrifice quality. Remember, quality and price can and should be brothers. How then do you diversify?

Keep it simple.  Once you have started your small business and interchange with your customers, you will see what additional things they may be looking for. Realistically look at your abilities, talents, cost factors, and time involvement when determining your next direction.  You could have a trial-run with a few customers to determine if it is a money maker and something you could enthusiastically support. If it drains too much from your original intent of your business or doesn't feel right, you'll know not to launch the additional service or product.

Here are some examples of diversification:
  • dog walking combined with house sitting and shopping
  • house cleaning combined with shopping
  • house painting combined with power washing
  • companion care combined with dog sitting or dog walking
  • accounting service combined with notary service
  • lunch deliveries combined with homemade bake goods
  • car wash combined with pick-up and delivery services
  • wedding planning combined with center piece arrangements
  • wedding cakes combined with cookies for wedding or family
  • private car detailing combined with grass cutting
One of the best examples of diversification is Handy.com, a cleaning service based in NYC. This company has an excellent web site for booking and explaining their services.  Their extra services include deeper cleaning of specific areas in the home that are not part of most general cleaning services.  Learn from others how they have diversified.  You don't always need to re-invent the wheel.

Hopefully, you get the idea.  In addition, do not forget to check with your local authorities to make sure you are meeting all legal and licensing requirements.  Get your thinking caps on and get busy with diversification.



Do You Have A Sick Car Just Putting Along?






When your budget tightens up ironically your car suddenly has everything wrong with it.  I know, I have been there.  However, regular maintenance and repair are essential to the longevity of an automobile.  Unfortunately, a job loss or staying in an under-employed position may keep you from performing the necessary car repairs to safely stay on the road.

Several years ago, I wrote an article about the millions of sick cars on the road.  I am including the link here because there may some helpful hints to help you in the upkeep of your car's maintenance. Let's be honest, cars are a headache and whole lot of money to maintain.  Here's my link:
Sick Cars--Millions May Be on the Road .

Everyone Needs to Look Up Now and Then



This is certainly an odd title, "Everyone Needs to Look Up Now and Then."  I finished working with one of my clients the other night when I for some odd reason sat on the couch and looked up. I had been in this room many times but never noticed the beautiful fan fixture and high arched ceiling.  At that moment it struck me that we go through our every day life focused on what we have to do and at times miss seeing things around us.  Some of these things we miss are inconsequential; however, not everything.  What could you learn from visually looking up?

Everyone from time to time gets caught up in what they are doing.  In many cases, you need to be focused to complete your task.  However, looking up should have a deeper fulfillment and meaning. The next day after noticing the ceiling fan, I looked up at the sky.  No I mean really "looked."  My conclusion was a reminder of the complexity and beauty that surround us. It is humbling when you consider your small contribution to an already existent dynamic world. Why consider the quality of humility?

For the most part, people are taught to be assertive and strong.  That's fine at the right time. Yet, the quality of humility should lace your life.  A humble person considers other people and their feelings. Their speech and tone is considerate and not arrogant when dealing in various situations. Being humble, let's not forget kind, will positively affect your life.  Humility allows you to tap into the challenges others face. When other people feel you care, communication opens up. When communication opens, your world changes.  This applies in every situation in life.

Employed or unemployed, look up now and then.  Allow yourself to try and understand the bigger picture of things surrounding you.  See that the world around you is dynamic, complex, and intriguing. Slow down, look up, and connect with the smaller less noticeable things in life which may make a huge difference in your life.  Oh, and when you do look up, make sure you know why the sky is blue!

Unemployed or Employed--Should You Decompress?


                                                                             

At times the sudden loss of a job can throw you totally off your game. Even for those who are well aware they will be unemployed at a future date it can be challenging.  In addition, living in this stressful world life is full of many unexpected and expected markers.  Facing these daily challenges of family issues, aging, sickness, and many more things too numerous to mention can mount up without you realizing its negative impact on you.  So, what can you do?  Yes, decompress.

To decompress simply means to release something from pressure or compression. Obviously, you can't hide under a rock. Life will continue to throw you stuff. However, you can for a short period of time do a few things to relieve your pressure so you can feel in charge and back on track again.  Here are a few things that might help you.

1.  Let your friends know that you are in a decompress mode for a while.  Let them know you do not want to discuss negative events or problems.  It's time to fill your mind with positive reflections.

2.  Cut down your exposure to electronic devices such as your PC or smartphone.  Stop checking your e-mail every few minutes.  You can program your phone to only ring on ones you have specified such as immediate family members.  Not sure if all phones have this feature.  Simplify for a while.

3.  Connect with nature.  Whatever the season, take a walk outside.  If weather warrants it, take a stroll through your favorite park.  Don't use this time to think about problems; use this time to relax and create positive thoughts.

4.  Do something that relaxes you such as going to the movies, painting a picture, or reading a new book.  Make sure you do something you wouldn't normally do because of your busy schedule.  Make time for YOU.

5.  Get a little bit more sleep.  The majority of adults today do not get enough rest.  They stay up too late watching television or surfing the web.  Healing of the body and mind requires the right amount of sleep to rejuvenate.

6.  Get a massage or manicure.  The relaxation of a good massage can do wonders to relieve your pressure.

7.  Don't jump back into the rat race too soon.  Take enough time to get your bearings and equilibrium back again.

Trying to decompress is not easy.  Once you have mastered this though, you will begin to handle life's greatest challenges again, even finding a job.  Also, don't be afraid to decompress for a day if you feel on overload. The world will be yours again with sharpened clarity and regained balance.

Find the Adventure NOT Struggle in Job Loss




I woke up this morning thinking about how so many of you have had to struggle each day with finding work that will pay the bills and take care of your family.  However, today I am thinking more along the lines of exploring the excitement or adventure of changing jobs and not the grief of losing a job. Obviously, for whatever reasons employment can end at any time; either your choice or not. That being said here is my thoughts.

Find the adventure not the struggle.  Do not be afraid.  Fear holds you back from so many positive things in your life.  You can either drown in self-pity and get thrown off of your game when a job loss crosses your path or tackle the bull standing in your way. For the sake of visualization, I see the bull as anything stopping you from advancing in your life in a positive manner.  So, take the bull down.

The important thing is not to freeze or panic.  You are a survivor.  Perhaps you can reflect on how the old-timers faced giant obstacles in their life.  Many people that survived the Depression era refer to themselves as "survivors." Although they may have been very young at the time, they fully remember their challenges of daily living. We tend to look at them at times as being very frugal and not wasting anything.  However, there a resilience they have that is to be respected. Can you duplicate that type of  resilient spirit?

Over the last few years  I have had the privilege of working with elderly ones living well into their 90's. They have certain things in common.  Most of them take one day at a time.  They do not look at life, even with their physical ailments, as an end. They tackle each obstacle with a positive view. Some of them do not complain. I say "some" because you will always have complainers. What you and I would look at as an obstacle, they look at it as "just life." They just deal with it and move on. Perhaps that is one of the basic happiness keys to coping with life.

Your next question then is, where is the adventure?  Personally, you can find adventure if you are looking for it.  One definition of adventure mentions "finding excitement."  What excites you? Transitioning into another job or means of employment can and should be exciting.  Why?
  • New Environment
  • New Co-Workers
  • Different Set of Challenges
  • New Budget Financially to Work With
  • New Route to Work
  • Perhaps Different Set of Hours
  • Fresh Start With a Great Attitude
At this point, I do not need to continue the list. You get the point.  Find the adventure or excitement in whatever you are doing,  It is possible.  You will be much happier for it!  Also, try visualization when you need to knock out a negative thought that keeps hounding you.  A great book that I have mentioned before to create a healthy attitude to turn your life around is: "U Turn Your Life" by Zeeshan Raza.  Enjoy!



Why I Deliberately Botched My Job Interview





Yes, over the years I have deliberately botched a few of my interviews.  Perhaps you are wondering why would I do that. The answer is simple.  I could tell within a few minutes of exposure to the office setting and/or interviewers that it was a bad fit over the top.  There is a bit more, however, to this explanation.

An interview is a two-way street. While a prospective employer is giving you the scrutiny of a lifetime, you should be checking them out to see how they line up with your criteria of a suitable employer.  Here are some things you should consider early on in the interview:

  • Does the employer or designated representative have good communication skills that will allow you to express yourself? 
  • Is this an employer that has rigid rules or do they appear to be reasonable in what they are asking. Listen carefully and read between the lines.  Life experience may  help you pick up on this.
  • Does the interviewer have good eye contact?
  • Does the interviewer smile?  And, do they have a sense of humor?
  • Probably the most important thing you can pick up on is the atmosphere of the office or company space you see or are exposed to before the interview.  A silent environment with little employee expression may at times denote the employer runs a "tight ship."

Obviously, no employer is perfect; nor, is there going to be a perfect environment.  The question  that you must ask yourself is whether or not you will be happy and comfortable working for the prospective employer. Will you feel like a square being shoved into a circle? If it appears the fit isn't there--then most likely it's not.

There are plenty of jobs with the right fit.  Life is just too short to pigeonhole yourself into a tight jacket every day.  Your time and skills are valuable.  Have self-worth in YOU.  Not all employers are equal.  That's why I threw some interviews.

Perhaps it's the rascal in me.  I couldn't help myself. Over the years I ran into some of the nastiest people conducting interviews.  I knew immediately that I could never work in their space. So, throwing the interview was easy.  How?  Say what's on your mind, be the authority, and ask a lot of questions about the company, the job, the employee/employer relationships...you get the picture.  It's easy...

That being said, don't give up finding your "fit." There are great employers that will appreciate you and what you bring to their company.  Just remember when you find them, don't throw the interview!






Starting a Small Business - Timing is Everything



                                                               
So, the first of the year is upon you and your thinking should I pursue my idea to start a small business now?  Many people may think that the first of the new year is the best time to sharpen your skills as an entrepreneur.  However, there are several factors to consider that may move your project well into another time of the year.  What are those factors?

Factor 1:  Is the nature of your business seasonal?  For instance,  are the items you sell or the service you provide strictly focused on the time of year?  Or, can you profit from your business throughout the year? This factor is pretty much self-explanatory.

Factor 2:  The area of the country wherein you start this business is an essential element.  If your area of the country feels the effects of seasonal bitter cold, then you should consider if your service or product will do well or not.  An example of this is residential pressure-washing.  In the mid-eastern part of the states pressure-washing might be profitable in the spring and summer.  However, in Florida, it might be profitable year-round.

Factor 3: Is your business or service indoor or outdoor.  Outdoor elements would need to be considered. Can your product and/or service withstand the outdoor elements?  Or better yet, what is your physical stamina if the weather elements are extreme or always fluctuating?  Again, timing and consideration of the environment are mandatory.  Don't forget indoor services. Many people do not like to spend time at home in the summer months.  As such, they may or may not be interested in a service that will keep them home for a specified period of time.  Or, the opposite, wintertime might serve to keep many folks near the fireplace.

Yes, timing is an important aspect of starting any business whether big or small.  In any event, whenever you decide to begin your small business remember to be licensed properly, save those receipts for year-end deductions, keep good records, and above all be honest and have fun.

If starting a small cleaning business, don't forget to take a look at my short-read
How to Start a Cleaning Business on a Poor Man's Budget.