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End of Year Party

The end of year party is typically a time for the company and it’s spouses to get together for a dinner provided by the employer.  This is the time to celebrate the success of another year.  If you’ve had a tough year, then this will help you focus on being positive and what was good during that year.

Holiday PartyIt helps to acknowledge the importance of each employee and thank their spouse for supporting them.  If you are personal with your sincere acknowledgements then it will show the employee the gratitude you have for them.

When we have tough years, and are cash poor at this time, we have had pot luck dinners.  This also means that normally  bonuses are expected.  Over the last five years we’ve only handed out bonuses once.  What I try to do is a gift that personalizes for the individual.  Sometimes having funny gag gifts that is funny for everyone, and not making fun of the individual will help lighten the mood for everyone.

Have fun with your party, a small business owner must be creative with making it a fun night.  Keep it cheap and if you can’t afford it, invite them to your home for a fun night of card games and food.  A small business needs to show that it’s grateful for it’s employees, and that it survived another year.

When it comes to bonuses make sure you let everyone know that you aren’t handing them out because if you do every year then people rely on them.  I don’t hand them out since I would rather find the true celebration of the end of the year and the Christmas holiday.  Have a budget and stick to it.  Happy Holiday’s.

For SaleCreate some quick cash during tough or slow times.  In 2008 and 2009 after I would meet payroll there was nothing left for me.  So in order to feed my family we started selling items that we never used on Craigslist.  There were times that earning $20 or even $300 would buy dinner and groceries for my family.  Selling these items that we’ve had over the years I found was pretty easy, there were things that I thought I always wanted to keep but it felt good to let it go.

Our original shop was 10,000 sq-ft so when we downsized to 4,500 sq-ft we had a lot of office supplies, construction materials, chairs, desks, tools, and the list goes on.  There is nothing you can’t sell on Craigslist.  Now that we are changing our business model again, becoming more mobile and cutting down on the space we need (which is cutting overhead, costs saved goes to the bottom line of profit) we don’t need everything we have.

When you take an item and put it out for a discounted price to get rid of it, you are creating cash for your company.  You are also letting go of an item that at one point you thought you needed.  It feels good to let go, you understand that other things in life are more important than materials.  We also started at home, cleaning out items we didn’t need or use.  What you will find is that you are in a home or office that is larger than what you need.  In commercial space you pay for the sq-ft you lease, so if you don’t need as much, get a smaller place and cut costs.

Here is how to start:

  1. Gather all the items you want to sell.
  2. Look again at the items you don’t use, or only once in awhile, and sell those too.
  3. Photograph each item.
  4. Label each photograph with a description and a price.
  5. Post on Craigslist or if it’s a larger item like a phone system then possibly Ebay.
  6. Make sure you list how you want to be contacted and who, I used my cell phone for calls or text, most people like to text.  Some items you may someone in your office that is more available.
  7. Be prepared for negotiation, know your bottom price.  Seniors and younger adults don’t ask for discount and just pay full price.  Others want the deal of the century.
  8. Many people text and never show up, so sell to whoever comes first.  Many people talk, say I have the cash but then never show up, so sell to who first comes.
  9. Hang onto the cash, use that for yourself, a company party to boost morale, or whatever you want to do but don’t claim it as income and have to pay taxes on it again.
  10. Then just repeat and keep letting go.

change-exit-signEvery business has slow times, they are times that you wonder how long they will last and how damaging will they be.  In times when business is slow and your not making the revenue you normally are.  Times like these are scary and your stress level goes up.  Laying off employees, the company culture becomes fear stricken, and the owner is left to figure out how to not get behind in bills.

Most small business owners have times where they wonder what is happening and the fear of loosing everything is a common feeling during these times.  Most people won’t tell anyone they are struggling or that business is slow but everyone has the slow times.  Here are a few tips I’ve learned every November as my business slows down.

  1. All businesses have ups and downs, when you are down you are not alone.
  2. Your number one job is to maintain the morale of the employees, and get revenue jump started again.
  3. It helps if you are aware of your slow times so that you can save up reserves to weather the storm.  The reserves will pay the overhead bills that still come each and every month.
  4. Lay your employees off that aren’t working.  Your employees need to be coached of when your slow season is and how they can prepare for themselves and their family.
  5. Remove dead weight, the employee’s that are performing up to your expectations, now is the time to fire them and use this time to start looking for their replacements.
  6. Have a company meeting on the current status, tell them the truth, and get them to focus on the big picture as you are making the changes you are.
  7. Change happens and unfortunately it takes a scary slow time for us to start.  Cut costs, cut your overhead, think of things you don’t need and get slim.  In good times we increase our costs so there is always multiple items that can be cut down or totally removed.
  8. Focus on the big picture, make sure that fear and living in the moment is replaced with this is temporary, and this is where we are headed.
  9. Inventory everything that is not needed, take a photo and see it on Craigs List, we create a lot of cash selling stuff we don’t need.  I don’t like paying to heat a building and paying for space we don’t need.  If you don’t need it then sell it for cash.
  10. Don’t spend, if you are real low on cash then let all your vendors that you owe money to that you will be paying your bills slower at this time.  This will allow you to be upfront with them and to prioritize who needs paid first.  The other struggling business owner may need your money when you get it, so a partial payment might help.
  11. Set roles and responsibilities with your management.  They need to step up, perform, and understand the emotional aspect of what they and the others in the company are going to go through.
  12. Focus on generating sales.  This is the answer to debt, increase sales and every dollar helps.
  13. If you are properly prepared, have employees take time off, collect unemployment, enjoy the time versus being broke and not working.  I’m actually thinking next November to just take it all off.
  14. Get ideas from your employees, then they will feel heard.
  15. Collect your account receivables.  Try to get everyone that owes you money to pay you as quick as possible, the faster they pay the better it helps you.
  16. Focus on your spiritual, physical, and mental condition.  This will help you through this battle.  This is tough, it’s not easy.  Bad times you will want to quit, go away and ignore everything happening to you like it’s a bad dream.  Working out to exert the stress out of your body, listening to books on tape and reading of motivating speakers like Zig Ziglar, and quiet time to meditate, pray and read the bible helps your spiritual condition.

I can come up with more but we do want to keep it simple.  Bad times are tough, you need to be tough.  Focus on the big picture, motivate your employees, and keep your company afloat.  This is when other quit when you don’t that makes the difference.

Networking is a tool for any type of person in business.  It is crucial that regardless of what business you are in that you should attend at least one network event a week.  You don’t have to be a salesperson or a business owner to network, anybody can do it.  Here are some reasons why everybody should have at least one networking event they attend.

  • getting out into a group of people you don’t know will help you build connections
  • attend for awhile and you will become a regular
  • you can work on your public speaking
  • meeting new people will allow you to be introduced to new people, connections and who they know
  • presenting your company, your sales pitch, and working on your message clarification will help you become a better presenter
  • networking with the right group will get you connected
  • you can make a name for yourself
  • build your own community by growing your circle of influence
  • getting leads and other non public information before others is always shared at networking events
  • you will generate customers that can use your product or services
  • listen to public trends and hear about your own companies brand perception

Networking can help you in many ways.  Pick an event that you can attend on a regular basis.  Spend the time to focus on one event, maximize the time to get an know others in the group.  Meet new people at the event, work on building the relationship outside of the event.  Find out who they know, get connected, introduced, and build your circle of influence.  Networking helps get you out of the office and into the real world.  Try it.

We just had Meridian Business Day at our City Hall with our focus on Leadership, Lead at all Levels.  We came up with the theme to show that regardless of where you are at in the organization that you can lead.  You can be a technician or the business owner, everybody can lead, anybody can influence.

Meridian Business Days

Meridian Business Days

We had around 200-230 people for an amazing morning of workshops.  Local speakers with each a message that we can use in our daily walk of influencing others.  The event was free, we provided coffee, breakfast drinks, and then lunch from 5 different local restaurants after the workshops were over.  I thought it was odd that we didn’t have 500 people.

Free workshops aren’t noticed when we are marketing them.  Maybe the person’s perception is that since it’s free, there isn’t value?  Or is it that we are marketing our events in a traditional manner that makes it difficult to get noticed.  Here is what I think.  People are too busy stuck in a routine of living life as it is, too busy to focus on self development.  Whether it’s free or not, doesn’t matter, it is the large percentage of people that just do what it takes to get by with the least amount of effort possible.

I believe that if you are an employee, business owner, spouse, parent or have any other type of responsibility that we should have some sort of self development program for ourselves in each of those areas.  I spend each day growing myself, in the morning I read my bible to grow my spiritual condition, during my drive to work and throughout the day I listen to books on my Iphone, and at night I read books before I go to bed.  When there is a seminar, online or attending a workshop, free or there is a cost, I will participate.  When I stop learning, that’s when I stop growing.

Spend the time to invest in yourself, and your career.  It will pay off.  Try spending money on a workshop.  You will pay for a fine dinner, drinks or your cable tv, try personal development tools.  That will already set you ahead of most of the people in the workplace.

I just recently had an experience at a public business that made me think about how I am at work and when I’m not.  I was working out at a local gym who has multiple locations and needed help with a certain lift and couldn’t find the machine.  I asked one of the trainers that was working out at the time.  When I asked her, she turned her shoulders to snub me off, and shook her head as if to say, don’t bother me.  I understand she was on her own time working out but as someone that is an employee of that fitness gym she still represents that gym.  Not to mention her own brand and character of who she is, and now my perception of her.  This really made me think about how I am, of course we can pick out someone else’s faults but at the same time be guilty ourselves.

I remember a time about 6 years ago, someone asked to talk to me at a networking event that I was hosting, I quickly said I’m busy right now, let’s talk later and rushed off.  I remember thinking, I was quick and didn’t give him that time that he deserved, even if it was a few seconds. I felt like I wasn’t respectful to him.  That was 6 years ago and I still feel guilty because I don’t know who that was and can’t make amends to them.  Their one experience with me probably was that I’m a jerk.  That’s not how I wanted to be perceived by people so that was a lesson learned.

Rude.Now let me tell you how I feel after this experience with her.  I don’t like her now, she didn’t give me the time of day, I wouldn’t refer her anyone since I know she’s not friendly and every time I see her I will remember her rudeness.  Classic case of a brief 5 second interaction that was negative.

Now here is the opposite, same industry just a different atmosphere.  My trainer is Jon Buettner which he and his wife Shawna own in Nampa called Big Jon Fitness.  I’ve worked out there at the same time as their trainers when they are working out.  They get in the zone, pushing reps and sweating it out.  Each time I ask them a question they help me.  The atmosphere in the gym is friendly and being in a gym that is the type of culture of helping its warm and friendly.

Feeling welcome at a fitness gym is unique.  They’ve done a great job of making it enjoyable and fun.  When it’s friendly you develop relationships and enjoy going.  I have lost over 50 pounds over the last year and a half and many people have been amazed at my transformation.  I constantly get asked, how did you do it?  Then they ask for a referral.  Who do you think I refer?  It pays to be on guard at all times of your character.  Working or not, people get to know you, and if you are not professional outside of work, those that do business with you will notice and it will affect your reputation.   Most people won’t say anything and you don’t even know anything happened.

Mentor

Get A Mentor

If you are married then chances are you’ve been to counseling or have been given some time of marital advice at some point to help you in your marriage.  A therapist or counselor just listens intently, focusing on both people, gives some feedback, asks some more questions. At the end of a great session most times they haven’t done much of saying but did a lot of asking.  Asking the right questions to guide the couple to identifying the communication issues and resolving the issues just seems to work themselves out as the couple get’s closer by identifying each others position.  It’s amazing, you notice how great your therapist is.  Their technique of asking you questions, guiding the conversation get’s you to where you need to go.

In business if you have a mentor, someone that you check in with, they will use the same techniques.  By asking lot’s of questions to understand the position of you and your company, your mentor will help keep you focused on what you should be focused on.  With focus you will get some  new goals that will help you solve the problems you currently have.  Getting clarity on 3-4 goals will help you focus on what it is that you should be doing.

Many times we get stuck in our comfort zone.  Having a mentor we are reminded that we own our business, and that our success is up to us.  My mentor helps me define what it is that I need to work on, and then the strategy to accomplish that goal.  Everyone needs a coach, if you want results then hire a mentor.

There are slow times that we’ve all experienced that scare the heck out of us.  We can’t explain why we’ve gone into a slump of lacking sales.  Our marketing department is doing the same thing that typically will bring in leads, we are keeping in touch with our referral sources.  There’s no reason for the slow sales.  Regardless of why, we need sales now.  Here is what I do when we reach that point every few months.

Finding New BusinessJust like when you start a business you need to reach out to those you know the best.  Get on the phone, and call your best referrals sources.  A phone call is a nice, quick simple tool that can give you big results.  Call those that you know personally and those that give you the majority of work.  Each time I’ve done this it works.

People need to be reminded of you and what it is that you do.  Those that like you want to help you.  You just need to be on the top of their mind.  They will come across someone who needs your services and since you’ve refreshed them with your presence then they will refer you.  Keep calling people until you get enough business.  Then after you’ve called those closest to you, call those that know you but don’t typically give you work.

Everything here is timing.  If you tell people what you want, it will be provided for you.  Unfortunately these slumps are tough.  We need to make sure our mind is thinking positive thoughts when we make our phone call.  If we are negative or are experiencing fear then people will sense that.  Be positive, get on the phone, and start getting business coming in through your door.  It takes work but that’s what we need to do during slow times.

There’s no question business is tough.  There are times that seem like your business is going downhill and you have no idea when the decline will stop.  Dry spells in sales, drop in revenue, lawsuit or unexpected cost, key employee quits, we could go on forever.  It would always be easier to go work for someone else.  You get a paycheck each payday, go home at 5pm, live a life outside of work, no stress, vacations with the family, benefits, I’m sure we could find more.  It would be easier if we went to work for someone else.  But we don’t.

Don't QuitYou need to know why you are in business during those tough times.  You also need to be grateful for the things you do have at that time.  Despite financial stress and long hours with the thought of losing everything there is also many things that you can be grateful for.  Keep it simple, write a gratitude list of what you are grateful for today.  Write your list in the morning to start your day off right.  It works, not sure why, but it does.

Make sure you know why you are doing what you are doing.  I’m in business because of the freedom I have.  I can decide if I want to go into work today or not.  If my kids have an event at school I can take the time off.  In the morning I can go in late if I want to have breakfast with my wife.  The rush of a victory each time we get a new client is a great feeling of accomplishment.  The satisfaction from our team doing a great job and the client recognizes it.  It’s the freedom to do as I choose.  I don’t want a boss, I want to create my own future.  This is why I don’t quit, I have hope.

Just recently we had one of our vans totaled in an accident.  This is how we handled the situation.  Our technician was rear ended by someone not paying attention.  The first thing we did was to call the police to file a report.  The police came, we swapped insurance information, and as our Operation’s Manager arrived we documented with pictures of the vehicles and the scene.

Ultraclean VanWe then drove the van to our body shop of choice Park’s Royal Body Shop.  Then we brought our technician to Primary Health to be checked out.  With backlash and muscles tightening in his neck and back our main priority is to get him taken care of.  We filed a workman’s compensation claim so that his medical expenses will be covered.  They put him on  a light duty which we hired a temporary worker to help with lifting.  Through chiropractic care and proper work duty we are slowly getting him back into original physical condition.

Now our company is down a vehicle which needs to be replaced.  Make sure that you inventory each item in the vehicle for damage.  Also external items like trailer towing package, vinyl decals, and other items that you will have to put on your next vehicle.  Start getting bids for comparable vehicle so that you know how much the real cost will be.  Then also keep track of your labor of everyone including the temporary worker that had to help our technician.  Any expenses forced upon us should be paid by the insurance company.

Submit those expenses, ask for full reimbursement.  Our labor was calculated at what we would be charging a customer because he would have been making money if we weren’t messing around trying to coordinate and the necessary appointments.  Now that you have a list of all expenses make sure you don’t settle for anything other than full value.

InsuranceWe started researching vehicles of finding what we needed to replace our vehicle that is like, kind and quality.  Once we found what we wanted to buy we then told the insurance adjuster what we wanted to pay.  Of course they want to lowball, and pay a lower price but that is just a normal tactic.  We didn’t ask for this accident and we aren’t settling for a lower value vehicle.  Once you come to agreement they will ask you to sign a release of liability.  Sign it, get your check then go purchase your new vehicle.

Make sure when you are in an accident that you take care of your liability, employee, and focus on getting back into production.  Get fairly compensated so that you won’t be out of pocket any expenses.  Photos, research, doctor reports, and detailed documentation is the key.  Know your rights and if you need one, hire an attorney for advice on your rights.