Business Scheduling: Leveraging Your Work Life

Business Scheduling - Leveraging Your Work LifeThere’s a saying in the business world, and it’s “Keep a Schedule; don’t let the schedule keep you.” So in all respects, our business scheduling as a business owner is what will keep us operating without pulling our hair out, or what forces us to throw in the towel. Now granted some of us are gifted with photographic memories, and can circle dates on their calendar and see them in their head, and just magically remember that they have meetings at certain times during the week. In the real world though, most of us have to write the majority of things down in order for us to remember them. If we don’t right down every detail of our busy day, chances are something is going to fall to the wayside. Then we will lose customers, lose money, and ultimately lose our cool for blowing important meetings.

Electronic Schedules are Awesome

I know you guys have seen those big desk calendars that was necessary when electronics included a flip phone, a pager, and a 20 pound laptop. Well really they are un-necessary now, unless you use it to doodle on, when your placing important phone calls to your favorite Chinese food restaurant. Just kidding, though they might still have some use, we walk out the door with our schedule in hand. Thanks to companies like google, who have captured the market for every digital avenue that exist or has ever been thought of. They own the android operating system, so when you get your new cell phone that is android operated, it forces you to sign up for a google account if you don’t already have one. (What an awesome marketing tool.) Anyways, once you’re logged in to your new google account, you now have access to google calendars, to where you can set up dates, reminders, multiple daily meetings, and share these same things with the people that this meeting involves, even if they don’t have google, which most likely they do. So your google calendar will help you keep track of all your daily, weekly and monthly activities, if you set your reminders up correctly.

Daily Operation Checklist

Secondly, though you have already scheduled everything in your google calendar on your phone, the next best thing to do, is to create a daily operation checklist. This checklist is a simple list created in word with your logo on it, with “DAILY OPERATION CHECKLIST” written in big bold letters up top, and about 15 lines with check boxes besides them, and a place for the date at the end of each line. Each day will vary, so if you only have 3 things to do that day, date them for that day, and then save this sheet for the next couple of days until it’s filled up. This is why the date is necessary. Sometimes you might have 15 things to get done, and you would love to get them done all in one day, but realistically, it probably will take 3 to 4 days to get these things done. So the best thing to do is to make sure you start with a fresh daily checklist, and then prioritize each item by the date that you would like to finish it by. This will give you a great start in controlling the things that you need to get done. Also, say that a customer calls you, and you need to add something to the list that has to get done for the day, now you can add it on the list, but you can still prioritize it by date. This makes life a whole lot easier when you know what needs to be done, and when it needs to be done by.

Controlling Your Business Scheduling

One of the great practices that I learned is to always control your schedule, and always try to plan a week or two ahead. This will allow you to book customers on your time, rather than on their time. Most likely if they called you, then they need you, and if you make it seem that you’re desperate for their call, then they might take advantage of you. Let the customer know that you can meet with them or start their project as soon as possible, even if that means a week from now. Try not to make it seem that you are too busy to do the work, but help the customer realize that you are a valuable piece to their overall success, and they will greatly appreciate you getting to them as soon as humanly possible. Granted if you are a one person show, this helps a lot, but if you are operating with multiple helpers, and you can respond to the project within 24 hours do so. Honestly, I tend to respond rather quickly because I know my capacity, what I can handle and what I can’t. The biggest thing is, don’t let the customer control you, if they call you, and tell you that they need something by tomorrow, don’t forget to charge a rush charge, this is important. If you have to stop what you’re doing to take care of something immediately, then you have pushed someone else’s project off to attend to theirs, so let them know that this will cost them. If a customer calls you on Friday, and wants something by Sunday, but you don’t work on weekends, let them know, that you can have it by Monday afternoon, or early Tuesday. You don’t have to kill yourself to make the customer happy, you just have to respond to them in a timely manner, and then let them know your expectations and requirements for finishing their project.

Conclusion

Ultimately, our time is valuable. A good friend once told me, “If it takes away from your family, then you better charge them.” I have lived by this comment for the last 4 years, and it has made a great difference in my overall scheduling and my overall success. Our lives shouldn’t just consist of scheduling our work, schedule your lunch breaks, keep your scheduled time off to spend with your family, and schedule in your fun time. All of these things are important to having a balanced life as a business owner and entrepreneur. Don’t forget that if you fail to use your schedule, then you are creating an orderless-life, an most likely creating chaos and headaches around you. I hope these things help you in your overall work process, and remember if you have any questions, let’s discuss it.

Thank you and God Bless!

10 Things To Do When Business Is Slow

10 Things To Do When Business Is SlowWhen business is slow, we have the tendency to panic and want to retreat, but the truth is this is where we need to strive more. It’s time to press in and stay consistent with the business practices that you developed when you first started your business. When business is slow, this is the time to make yourself busy, by reevaluating your prices, your policies, your website, and current advertisement. Let me give you the best possible solutions when business is slow.

1. Pray for God to Increase Revenue and Clientele

As a Christian, and lover of the One and True God, my first reaction to slow business weeks is to seek the Father in prayer and fasting. These 2 principles are the best practices alone that will bring increase in your business, and comfort and steadiness in an unsteady time. God rewards those who seek Him diligently. Absent of prayer and fasting in Communion with God through His son Jesus Christ, you have nothing, and will be able to accomplish nothing. With God for us, there is nothing and no one that can stand against us.

2. Follow up With Potential Customers

There may have been some customers that you have had connected with in the past couple of weeks, maybe through referral, or some other source. You may have had a simple conversation with them about business, or even issued an estimate proposal to them. When you follow up with them, be concerned that you haven’t heard from them, and sincerely care about their well being. Do not seem anxious or desperate, just simply do a follow up, but even with the slow times, do not compromise your business or your prices just for the sake of a customer. Operate with integrity and uprightness, and the business will continue to increase.

3. Saturate All Free Media Outlets

I know we all love our Social Media, and this is the time that we can truly engage with potential clients or fellow business owners to create a buzz for the business again. Make your time purposeful, your time is valuable, so don’t get caught up doing random meaningless things on social media. Be focused on the task at hand, and this is to get people thinking about your services.

4. Analyze Your Paid Advertisement

You might have some paid advertisement, such as a website, business cards, flyers, posters or whatever. If business is slow, even in hard times, it means that your advertisement is not really working like it’s supposed to. Think about certain things like QR codes that would start to bring traffic to your website again. If you think a certain advertisement is not working, scrap the whole plan, and start from scratch. The good thing about most advertisement, is that it’s fairly inexpensive, so be willing to analyze your paid advertisement, and shift some things around to get some recognition again.

5. Start Blogging or Continue Your Blogging

To be a faithful blogger, it takes commitment and dedication. When times get tough, one of the first things we tend to do is abandon our disciplines. If you are blogging when it’s busy, continue to blog when business is slow. This will help keep your mind fresh, and it may help redirect some thought processes, that will bring clarity in some future operations.

6. Post Your Services on Craigslist

Craigslist is a great resource. Many people are using Craigslist for many things, and you’ll be surprised how many job opportunities are on Craigslist. Utilizing this free service can put your services in front of hundreds and even thousands of potential customers.

7. Re-Evaluate Your Prices

Every week you should have a performance evaluation plan for your business, comparing the good against the bad. Think about your prices, if business is slow, and when business is slow, you have to worry about cash flow. If your cash flow is so depleted because of slow business, that means that you under analyzed your overhead, and that you didn’t plan for a rainy day through your pricing. Your prices should not only reflect your quality, but they should reflect your overall net worth. So if in lean times you are struggling to pay your bills, then reevaluating your prices is a good idea.

8. Connect With Your Networking Partners

Hopefully you read one of my most recent blogs, “Business Without Networking is Dead”. Well this is the truth, if you are in business for yourself, and you don’t have any networking partners, then you are doing yourself a disservice. Networking not only increases your indirect partners, but it also can have unlimited possibilities when it comes to referrals. *Reminder* If you are in a networking partnership with someone, be willing to return the favor, by sending referrals there way as well. This is the whole point of networking.

9. Think About Your Policies and Contracts

Prayerfully, you have some sturdy policies in place for your business. There’s never a wrong time to read over your policies and contracts, and look for loopholes, or wording that might not cover your basis in the future. When business is slow, this is the best time to reflect on the last couple business transactions, and think about how they could have been better, and document it in contract form.

10. Take A Day Off

This may sound counter-productive, but the truth is, if you have done all these things, then it’s just a matter of time before things pick up again. After you have accomplished all these task, choose a day, maybe a Friday, and just shut down shop. This will give you some well needed rest, and trust me, when Monday comes back around after a nice 3 day weekend, you will be ready to grind again.

Overall

There’s many things that you can do to help the business when business is slow, these are just a couple of things. These are some of the things that I do, when business is slow for me. I hope some of these things help you, and if you have some helpful suggestions as well, please leave them in the comment section.

GOD BLESS!

Faithful & Consistent Business Owners

Faithful & Consistent Business OwnersCustomers want to know that they are dealing with faithful & consistent business owners. After all, you prided yourself on being the upright business owner because of the bad relations you had in previous business experiences, Correct? Customers want to see that you are faithful to them, by always being ready and able to handle their questions. Customers want to see consistency on how you handle their problems as well. Without being faithful and consistent with your customers you will leave a bad taste in your customers mouth, and leave them wanting to look elsewhere to get their needs met.

Monogamous Business Relationships

When dealing with a customer, your whole goal is to provide them with exactly with what they need. In order to keep them happy, you need to provide the least amount of hiccups as possible. If a customer is not happy, they will begin to search for someone else with your skill set to do things that you promised that you could do for them. No business owner wants their customer to seek the hand of someone else, especially when you can do the job, but you dropped the ball, and that’s what created this dilemma. The best option to fix a broken relationship, is to offer a free service to mend the relationship, so that you can get back to normalcy with the customer. Most of the time you can simply fix a relationship by meeting with the customer face to face. It’s sad to say, but we live in a present age where most business is done remotely. This is not a bad thing, because it increases the amount of business that can get done, but most of the time there’s not a face to face connection. Having a clientele is a marriage type relationship, you need to be willing to drop what you’re doing to be able to assist this client with their needs, or at least make them feel important enough that their needs are valued, and you will get to them within the next 24 hours.

How To Be A Faithful & Consistent Business Owner

How do you stay faithful and consistent with your customers, especially when your workload has increased? Well if you have more customers than you can physically handle on your own, then you need to hire somebody of your like qualities. Once you hire somebody, then you need to have some extended training to make sure that this person is on the same page skill wise as you, has the same problem-solving qualities, has the same passion and attitude about your work as you do. This will solve a lot of your problems, by making your workload lighter. *Side Note* You don’t have to hire an employee, it’s probably better to contract work out so that you don’t have to worry about paying a salary.* Bottom line is you need to evaluate your business regularly to know if you have more work than you can handle or not. Make adjustments to fix the problems that you can fix on your own, and bring in a specialist to handle the things that you can contract out. It doesn’t matter how the work gets done, as long as it gets done. To the customer you are a business, and in their mind you already have a team of individuals working on their project, so it wouldn’t be anything different to bring in somebody to work on their project. One thing that you do want to weigh out is pricing, if you are bringing in contractors to work on projects, than chances are your prices are going to change, because your overhead has changed. Don’t do this abruptly, but gradually, wait for the beginning of a new quarter, and send out a newsletter announcing that your prices will change in the next 30 days so that it won’t be a surprise to the customer.

Conclusion

Customers want to know that they are being treated fairly, with dignity, integrity, and that they are not being taken advantage of. The best way to show a customer that you are faithful and consistent is by being readily available when their call comes in. If you are not immediately available, at least get in touch with them that same day or within 24 hours, this will make them feel like you value their business. Be a faithful and consistent business owner and watch how it changes the face of your business. Customers will advocate for you, and bring business your way because of how you care for them.

God Bless!

Business Without Networking is Dead

Business Without Networking is DeadI’m sure you guys have heard that faith without works is dead, well business without networking is dead. This saying is true. Yes, it probably took faith for you to step out and start running your own business, Leaving the comfort of knowing that there’s always a paycheck coming when working a steady 9 to 5 job. You are now your own boss, you are responsible for paying your own salary. You no longer have benefits so you have to provide your own. What a headache! In order to do this, you have to have a strong client base and a steady income. Steady incomes don’t come on their own; you will spend the bulk of your time networking with like minded businesses, so that you can share resources, and also build with them to catch their overflow, this is called contracting.

What Makes Contracting So Important?

Contracting is important because it helps you as business owners supplement the income that you are not making on your own. Networking will not happen if you hesitate; it takes time to build a steady client base. This is why networking is necessary, because there are businesses that have been doing this longer than you have and they have a steady clientele, but fortunately for you need to contract out the work because their workload is too heavy. Great! So how do you get involved with a company so they can know that you are who you say you are. Well the first thing is it starts with relationships. Contact others that are doing what you are doing, and simply ask them if they need help, they can give you one of two answers, no, not at the present moment, or absolutely we do need help. You’ll be surprised at what responses you will get. Once you accept a contracting job, don’t short change yourself. It would be smart to have some verbal agreement or written contract in place. Let me remind you, you are not going to make the type of money you would if you were doing the job on your own, so have in mind how much money that you would like to make per job, and I’m sure you and the company you’re doing work for will come to an agreement. Contracting is a different kind of income, because you are not necessarily employed by the company, but you are not exactly working for yourself either. So understand that there is a fine line between the work that you do for them and the work that you do for yourself. Any work that you do for a company automatically becomes their property, so when you get paid for a job, it’s most likely going to be a 40-60 split, if you have a good relationship with the company, then they might do 50-50, but don’t sell yourself short. Know what the company is making per job, so that you will be compensated fairly.

Another networking tool is social media, follow the businesses that do the same things you do on facebook, twitter, Linked In, and any other avenue you can think of. After you follow them, engage with them on a regular basis, and control the relationship. Think of this relationship as a water faucet, if you turn it on slightly it’s going to take a long time to fill your cup, and if you put the faucet on full-blast then the cup is going to overflow, you don’t want to be so overwhelmed that you can’t produce what you promised you could do. Turn the faucet on medium strength so that you build a steady relationship, and a steady relationship with a steady business will produce steady work and a steady income. If it sounds simple, it is! Don’t be afraid to get your feet wet, you will reap what you sow, if you sow into relationships with others, you will reap the reward of them wanting to make money with you, rather than through you.

Also, it would be a good decision to get involved with small business groups. There are groups like the Chamber of Commerce and BNI, which require that some dues are paid, but these are not the only ones. There are plenty of people that form small business groups that meet once a week or once a month, just to learn from each other. Most of them will have an agenda, like a theme for the meeting, or maybe going through some business strategy book as a group and discussing the benefits of it, but overall, you are making yourself available to others who can help bring in referrals for you, because you have now expanded your resources by putting more people in your corner, and it costs you nothing but invested time.

Conclusion

Ultimately, this is not going to happen overnight, in order to make friends you have to make yourself friendly. I would not contract work out to someone that I didn’t feel was trustworthy, and I wouldn’t accept a contracted job if I didn’t feel the company that I was working with was not trustworthy. Allow grace sometimes when you’re working with people you trust, sometimes money is tight, and if it gets to the point where there having a hard time paying you, then use your better judgment, and forfeit working on new things until your balance is paid up. Overall, contracting relationships are great networking relationships, and even if the company that you’re contracting with doesn’t have work at the moment, they can lead you to other companies that they are networking with, creating a full networking circle. It’s a beautiful thing when small businesses decide to work together, to grow each other’s income. Keep this in mind when you’re in a position to hire or contract work out. One of the greatest benefits of contracting for companies is that they don’t have to pay a direct salary only share a portion of the income of each job that is being worked on. I pray that this is useful information for you small businesses out there.

God Bless!

Ramirez Creative Solutions