Are you living out your dreams?

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July 24, 2014 | Posted in Business, Entrepreneur, Life, Motivation | By

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A number of you woke up this morning with a sense of dread because you have to go to a job you absolutely HATE! I have one simple question to ask you. What are you going to do to change your situation? Stop sitting on the sideline, operating in reactionary mode, and take control of YOUR life!

I know it may seem as if it’s too late, but you can still pursue your dreams. Do you have a business idea? Go ahead and start putting some framework around it so it becomes a reality. Do you desire to become debt free? Implement a plan to reduce your expenses and make more money. Do you desire marriage? Continue preparing yourself to be the best spouse you can be. Success generally comes when preparation meets opportunity.

IT’S YOUR TIME!

Write down your dreams and create a plan to make each of them a reality! Let me know how I can be of assistance to you throughout the process. You CAN do it!

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Dear Entrepreneur…Systemize Your Business (part 1)

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July 23, 2014 | Posted in Business, Business and Professional, Career, Entrepreneur | By

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One of the keys to success in business is making sure you work efficiently. Being a solopreneur or small business owner can be stressful. However, don’t add to the level of everyday anxiety by not systemizing your business.

People ask me how I seamlessly operate multiple business entities. Having a degree in Industrial & Systems Engineering has assisted me in this area and I look for opportunities to reduce my personal effort where possible. In every aspect of business you have to ask yourself “Am I working too hard doing something that software/technology can do easier?”

Implementing business systems is key to maximizing your efficiency. Do you have the following elements in your business? If so, what tools are you using? 

1. Online Presence - Every business should have a website. Most people won’t reach out to you until they’ve vetted you online or via someone they know and trust. There are several solutions for creating an online presence, some inexpensive, others not so inexpensive. A number of the inexpensive options like Wix and WordPress still offer you a professional appearance without breaking your budget. All of my websites, 15 of them, are built using WordPress. The tool is user-friendly and offer a number of templates you can use to customize your look. Also, your website needs to be responsive (mobile device friendly), otherwise you jeopardize losing potential customers because they can’t easily conduct business with you.
2. Business Phone System – Every business should have a dedicated business phone line. This should be self-explanatory, BUT there are still a number of people doing business via personal home phone lines. There’s nothing worse than calling someone for business only to have their kids answer the phone as if you’re interrupting something. With a number of options out there like Google Voice and Grasshopper (my choice), there’s no excuse for not having a dedicated business phone line. Plus these solutions are either free or very low cost in nature.
3. Business Branded E-mail – Another professional touch to add to your business is utilizing a business branded e-mail address. This might seem like a minor element, but there is a different view from a business perspective when you conduct business online with someone using a business-branded e-mail address versus other free options. Yahoo and Google are great companies, but I prefer to conduct business using my business-branded e-mail account. You can setup your own business e-mail account using companies like GoDaddy. I am also a reseller who offers the ability to register domains, hosting and e-mail, visit http://www.ktponlineservices.com.  
4. Customer Relationship Management – Communicating and sharing products/services with your customers is a major key to the success of your business. Unfortunately, a number of people are still leveraging spreadsheets and offline distribution lists. This makes communicating with your clients and customers more complex than it needs to. Take a look at low-cost solutions like Aweber, Mailchimp or Constant Contact. You can also opt for other solutions requiring more of an investment like Infusionsoft (review Infusionsoft here) or Act-on. The main point is being able to easily organize and communicate with your customers leveraging streamlined automation. 
5. Social Media Management – You can spend countless hours juggling between Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+ and/or Pinterest. Quite frankly, it can be a downright hassle trying to manage all of those social media channels while still servicing your customers. Fortunately, there are a number of applications which assist with this effort. Take a look at options like Hootsuite, TweetDeck and Sprout Social. Entrepreneur had a great article on their website highlighting 14 Tools Every Entrepreneur Needs for Social Media http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/231851.

If you are an entrepreneur or small business owner and having trouble juggling the multiple aspects of your business, evaluate the various components of your current business to see if there are areas to systemize. I will share five more business areas with you in part 2 of Systemize Your Business.

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Stop Living with Bad Credit…It’s More Than a Money Matter

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July 22, 2014 | Posted in Credit, Finance | By

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I know some people get tired of me promoting the importance of credit, credit ratings and smart money. However, living with bad credit costs people thousands of dollars along with potential opportunities. Potential opportunities you ask? YES…potential JOB opportunities. If getting better interest rates isn’t enough to move you to improve your credit, missing out on potential job opportunities should.

Imagine spending time building your resume with solid work experience only to have your dreams dashed because you’re living with bad credit. Don’t believe this can happen to you? See this article posted on CNN Money’s website -> http://money.cnn.com/2013/08/12/pf/bad-credit/. I also have clients who have personally experienced this, which brings an element of reality to the table. More and more employers are reviewing personal credit reports to see how potential employees are managing their personal affairs. Imagine going through the hiring process for your dream job only to be eliminated because your credit scores are lower than another candidates. No bueno (good)!

A large number of people are under the impression that improving credit requires a lot of work and in some instances it might. However, working smarter is most likely the solution to your credit problems.

Here are four quick things to do in order to improve your credit scores:

1. Start paying your bills on time TODAY!

2. Resolve past credit issues by paying-off, settling or validating the accuracy of accounts. Each account is different so you may need to consult a professional for assistance.

3. Pay your account balances down. The rule of thumb is to keep your utilization ratio around 30%. This means if you have a credit card limit of $1,000, you want to keep your balance for that account at or below $300.

4. Don’t close your old accounts. Aged, active accounts actually assist with increasing your credit scores. You lose that history when you close older accounts.

As always, feel free to share your stories with me…I enjoy hearing from you.

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My Transition – 20 Questions I Asked Myself Before Pursuing Marriage

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July 2, 2014 | Posted in Marriage, Men, Romance and Relationships, Women | By

1. Do I love myself?

Yes. I feel confident answering this affirmatively after going through the process of healing. I have worked and sought out God’s forgiveness for my past insecurities and transgressions. Until you can answer yes to this question, you will have challenges maintaining healthy relationships. Unfortunately, there are those who will prey, not pray, on those who don’t love themselves.
2. Have I purged the hurts and pains of my past? Am I ready to trust and be vulnerable again?
Yes. I have been through, and caused, some storms in my life. However, I can look back on those situations as learning experiences that have prepared me for being able to love without holding her hostage to my past. You often have to be purged before you can be promoted.
3. Do I truly know what love is?
Yes. I have been able to hold onto my faith as the foundation for what true love looks like. Love is being able to extend the same grace and mercy God has extended to me. True love is unconditional and that’s a very important component in a healthy and prosperous marriage. I now know I can pursue this type of love.
4. Am I more excited about the event or the life experience?
Life experience. The wedding is nothing more than a celebratory pit stop en route to a lifetime relationship. I want what my parents have. I want what both sets of my grandparents had before my grandfathers passed away. Being able to develop a never-ending relationship, build a trustworthy friendship, watch a family grow and create a lifetime of memories is worth a lot more to me than the wedding event.
5. Am I interested in changing the person I am marrying?
No. I have developed a love for who Tamiko is and accept the person she has become. I know that only God can truly change someone, but I sincerely love who she is today. One of my favorite statements is “Never take someone to the altar with the expectations of altering them.”
6. Can I see the person I’m marrying being a parent to my children (for those interested in having kids)?
Yes. This is one of the aspects I truly adore about Tamiko. Watching how respectful and well-mannered her son and daughter are gives me the trust and excitement about the possibility of co-parenting with her.
7. Am I prepared to be the priest, provider and protector of the home?
Yes. I take the role of being a man very seriously. I feel as if I’ve been in training for this transition for years and look forward to continuing my growth as a husband and father. I have a relationship with Christ and know how to communicate with Him. I have a multiple stream of income mentality and am unafraid to get my hands dirty in the event times get tough. I accept the responsibility of being a protector. This means keeping outside influences from harming my family physically, spiritually and/or emotionally.
8. Is this a rebound relationship or one built on friendship and love?
Our relationship is built on friendship and love. I took years off after my previous relationships. I did so because I wanted to reflect on my failures, successes and contributions I made toward the downfall of past relationships. Bouncing from relationship to relationship is an unhealthy way to operate. You will NEVER identify what you truly need in a relationship while remaining connected to temporary placeholders.
9. Can I see myself with this person until death do us part? Do I love this person so much that I can see myself with her as either of us takes our last breath?
Yes. I can see myself with her until one of us takes our last breath. I gleaned this viewpoint from our awesome pre-marital counselors. #thatspowerful
10. Do we know how to resolve conflict?
Yes. We are able to communicate difference in opinions without raising our voices, cursing, belittling each other, etc. This was a huge factor in me being able to open my heart to Tamiko. My past has presented a number of relationships that included too much voice raising, arguing and battling until there was a victory. Not all battles are worth fighting. I HATE ARGUING!
11. Do we have the support of friends and family?
Yes. We have both received the blessings from both sides of our family. This was a huge factor with me feeling free to move forward with our courtship. I wasn’t open to moving forward without having the marriage conversation with both of our parents. Call me old school if you want, but I believe in maintaining some of the old school traditions.
12. Are our purposes complementary? Do we make each other better?
Yes. I believe that she and I together can achieve a number of purposeful things on a much greater level. I have been sharing the concept of ‘greater together’ for years and I have now found my purpose partner.
13. If we were on a deserted island together, would we be able to enjoy each other’s presence and company?
Yes. I’m sure we would find enjoyment through fun conversations, dancing to our favorite childhood songs and creating fun games. The person you marry should bring light and joy to your life without the need of superficial things. The point of this question is to identify whether you truly love the person or their resume (e.g., job, money, status, cars, etc.).
14. Do we respect each other?
Yes. Enough said! You CANNOT marry someone you don’t respect. Doing so is a surefire way to destroy a relationship.
15. Is this the right time?
Yes. Although I don’t believe there is necessarily a ‘perfect’ time, I do believe there is no reason to wait once you identify the special person for you.
16. Do I know this person’s view of divorce?
Yes. We believe that divorce is off the table when it comes to our relationship. We know there will be ups and downs, but at the end of the day…we have both agreed to fight through the tough times.
17. Are we equally yoked?
Yes. Both of us are born-again, believers in Christ, who base our lives according to God’s direction. Our reference manual for life is the Bible.
18. Am I able to share the truth in love?
Yes. Tamiko and I have gone through the process of working through discussing some not-so-fun topics. Fortunately, neither one of us is combative or argumentative, which means we rarely have a disagreement. Compared to a number of my previous relationships I consider this #winning
19. Am I willingly ready to commit?
Yes. Any hesitation to this question means you’re not ready. I AM READY!

There is a twentieth question that I can’t answer by myself. Can you guess what it is? Stay tuned for the answer…

Updated as of July 2, 2014…She Said Yes!

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My Transition – Which Ring Would You Choose?

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June 19, 2014 | Posted in Love & Money, Marriage, Romance and Relationships | By

In my previous post, I shared information regarding the 6C’s of engagement ring shopping. Well in addition to the 6C’s, you must also make a decision on the ring style that encompasses the 6C’s. I’ve had fun researching and shopping for rings; take a look at the various options that are available to choose from.

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If given the choice, which ring would you choose? I’ve already made my decision…

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My Transition – 5 Reasons I’m Making a Decision to Marry

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June 16, 2014 | Posted in Family, Love & Money, Marriage, Men, Romance and Relationships, Women | By

Over the weekend I had an opportunity to sit and chat with a number of different people and of course the topic of relationships came up. Not surprising, a number of questions were directed to me because of the transition I’m currently making from being unmarried. I don’t know why, being someone who has shared information about relationships for years, I feel even more certain about the perspectives I’m now able to share.

Allow me to set the landscape for my views.
First, I live in Atlanta, GA, which is home to many of the most beautiful, intelligent and successful women in the world. People often ask how any man can be single in this city…lol. However, I have to remind them that if those characteristics were the only ones that mattered, a lot more men (including myself) would already be married.
Secondly, after making a number of misguided choices in my younger years, I also made a MATURE decision to avoid momentary infatuation so I could pursue long-term love. I’ve learned that sometimes you have to disconnect your eyes so you can truly see people for who they really are.
Lastly, I made a commitment to advocate abstinence so sex wouldn’t become a distractor in pursuit of evaluating someone’s character. A friend of mine shared a quote and I wish I knew the source so I could provide credit.
“Sex only reveals how much someone loves sex, not how much they love YOU!”-Unknown
Now you might not necessarily agree with this quote, but sex can be a selfish act…especially when it’s not with someone you’re in covenant with. This isn’t a post about abstinence, so let me get re-focused.
Here are the 5 reasons I’m making a decision to marry:
1. I value her friendship - There is nothing more rewarding than making a decision to share your life with someone you truly value as a friend. Tamiko and I met back in 2011 and created a foundation of friendship BEFORE we ever went out on a date. I knew her sphere of influence, her values, how she treated others and what drove her purpose before asking her to Cirque du Soleil in 2012. It’s a foreign concept in today’s microwave society, but a romantic relationship without the foundation of friendship is destined to fail.
2. We have established an environment of trust  - This is actually a byproduct of having become friends first. Our interaction as friends allowed me to build a level of trust and comfort to open-up to her. It also made me want to pursue her more seriously. Trust is the single most important element in making a man open-up his heart, mind and soul to you. A number of women often ask “Why don’t men communicate with me?” The answer is simple…he doesn’t trust you yet.
3. We enhance each other’s purpose - No relationship/marriage means much if it doesn’t result in a greater purpose. A number of individuals are in relationships that don’t enhance their lives, but actually restrict their lives. If your relationship feels like a weight instead of a sail, please reconsider the person you are with. I look forward to marriage because I can actually see us enhancing each other’s purpose both individually and jointly.
4. I respect her - There is something powerful about establishing a level of respect. I know her personal story of triumph and respect the woman she’s become as a result of her experiences. She is battle-tested and I know she doesn’t easily quit. I know the journey and sacrifices she’s made for her children. My respect for her is something that enhances my attraction towards her. Respect takes my attraction toward her beyond the physical beauty she possesses.
5. She has the ‘it’ factor - The ‘it’ factor is often ignored. There’s something about being so in synch with someone that you’re able to communicate without saying a single word. Being able to anticipate someone’s needs is something you can’t place a value on. The ‘it’ factor can’t be manufactured, either a person has ‘it’ or they don’t. There are a number of women who might have better resumes than Tamiko. However, her ‘it’ factor is a lot more valuable to me for the life I envision for me and my family.
Making a decision to marry goes a lot deeper than what restaurant you go to on the first date, who picks-up the tab or what gift you receive on Christmas. After sitting down with my parents, who have celebrated 40+ years of marriage, they shared two pieces of advice. Learn how to communicate. Learn how to sacrifice. Yep…my 5 reasons make me want to do both for her.

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