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!
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.
1. Do I love myself?
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!
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.
If given the choice, which ring would you choose? I’ve already made my decision…
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.
Over the past couple of months I’ve learned far more about engagement rings than I ever wanted to learn. Being the financially conservative (frugal) person I am, I took the engagement ring purchase process way deeper than others would. However, my experience will serve as an educational tool for a lot of you guys out there going through the same thing.
Let me get this out of the way before I proceed, SIZE IS NOT THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS WHEN CHOOSING AN ENGAGEMENT RING!
I’ve previously written about this topic for BlackEnterprise.com (http://www.blackenterprise.com/money/the-engagement-ring-a-gift-from-the-heart-or-jewel-for-the-ego/), but have a new-found respect for the process now that I’ve immersed myself in the details.
Most people refer to engagement ring decisions as the 4C’s, but I’ve added two to the list. Here is a brief summary of each C, along with how it impacts your overall decision…
1. Cut – A diamond’s cut is the measure of a diamond’s light performance, better known as sparkle. No other characteristic has a greater impact on a diamond’s appearance. If you want a diamond that blings, please don’t take for granted the importance of a diamond’s cut. Try to avoid anything less than a good cut, but opt preferably for very good or excellent if your budget permits. You can buy a huge diamond, but if it doesn’t shine, its value is diminished.
2. Clarity – Measure of the number and size of tiny inclusions (imperfections) that exist in almost all diamonds. These are also referred to as flaws. Most inclusions aren’t visible to the naked eye. However, magnifying glasses will allow you to view the size and number of inclusions within a diamond. Since many of the inclusions are microscopic, they generally don’t affect a diamond’s value. However, if you can visibly see the inclusions, you should avoid purchasing that diamond.
Here is a breakdown of the categories:
- FL (Flawless): Very rare diamond with no flaws.
- VVS1, VVS2 (Very, Very Slightly Included): Very difficult to see the inclusions even when magnified. An excellent quality diamond.
- VS1, VS2 (Very Slightly Included):Imperfections are not typically visible to the naked eye. Less costly than VVS1 and VVS2 diamonds.
- SI1, SI2 (Slightly Included): Usually requires magnification to see inclusions. This grade level provides good diamond value.
- I1, I2, I3 (Included/Imperfect):This grade of diamonds will have minor inclusions that may be visible to the naked eye.
3. Color – Refers to a diamond’s lack of color, grading the whiteness of a diamond. The range is from D (highest possible grade) to Z (lowest possible grade). After cut, color is typically considered the second most important characteristic when selecting a diamond. What this means to you…most eyes identify the sparkle first, and color second.
4. Carat – Probably the most overemphasized component of a diamond. Now don’t get me wrong, carat weight has a place in the process of purchasing a diamond. However, it’s very challenging to see the difference between a 2 carat ring versus a 1.75 carat ring. Not to mention, you’ll see a noticeable price increase every .5 carat or so. If given the choice for value, I recommend dropping just below the .5 carat limit to avoid the price bump. (examples, buy a 2.49 carat diamond instead of a 2.5 carat diamond, buy a 1.9 carat diamond instead of a 2.0 carat diamond, buy a 1.4 carat diamond instead of a 1.5 carat diamond).
5. Certification – I won’t spend too much time focusing on this area, but be aware of the certification types. The two major certification systems are GIA and EGL. I’ll refer you to google and other diamond education sites in order to assess which system(s) they use. Just be aware that you want to purchase a diamond that’s certified because it protects a buyer from unscrupulous jewelers who may not have the buyer’s best interest in mind.
6. Cost – Let us not forget that money is a major factor in trying to determine what kind of ring to purchase. There are two aspects to consider, the diamond itself along with the setting to mount the diamond. Please be careful on how you allocate your budget. There are a number of different settings to select from. I’ll be honest…this is where I truly became overwhelmed during the process. A setting can significantly impact your budget if you’re not careful. My advice is to set your budget, spend the core on the diamond and complete the purchase with a setting that keeps you within your budget.
Don’t make the mistake of trying to purchase a ring solely based on carats.You could find yourself with a huge, unattractive diamond. Focus on cut and color first, then turn your attention to carat and clarity. I also recommend seeking out a diamond jeweler who provides the best value. I scoured the internet doing research and found there are a number of options to consider.
1. Online Jeweler – BlueNile.com is the online source I recommend because they specialize in providing high-quality diamonds without the overhead that many traditional retailers have.
2. Retail Jeweler – Solomon Brothers and Luxor Jewelers provided me with a great experience when shopping at their showrooms. All of their sales people were very knowledgeable and were able to answer ALL of my questions. Having an opportunity to see the diamonds in-person is an added benefit that online sources can’t offer.
3. Private Jeweler – Some people opt to use private jewelers. They typically specialize in diamonds and can offer you wholesale prices. You have to be careful though, because you could be taken advantage of if you aren’t careful. Be willing to have the diamond appraised prior to finalizing the purchase.
There is so much more I could write about this process. However, at the end of the day, don’t get too intimidated by the 6C’s of the ring process. Set a budget, focus on a quality diamond, select a setting and prepare to present it to your future bride.
Remember…the ring is the external symbol of the inner commitment you’re making to your future bride. You can buy the most expensive ring in the store, if the commitment isn’t present…the marriage will eventually fail!