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Advice for small business owners and contractors
- Building Your Small Business by Building Your CommunitySmall businesses can thrive within their city or town by becoming involved and invested in the community. Donations, sponsorships, and support for non-profit and civic organizations offer the valuable payback of word-of-mouth advertising and new customers who appreciate your goodwill. One of the most effective ways to show you are a stakeholder in a community is through involvement or support for the school system or youth activities. People appreciate help and support for projects and programs that benefit their children and word travel quickly among parents. Direct involvement related to your business can work particularly well for trades. Schools and youth centers operate on limited budgets and have buildings that can always use repairs and upgrades. Refitting a space with eco-friendly lighting or helping solve a chronic plumbing problem will be gratefully and frequently acknowledged. HVAC companies are always in demand. Landscaping companies can lead a community effort to spruce up a neglected schoolyard or park that hosts youth sports. Providing a visible improvement will have people talking about your business through several seasons. If donating services and repairs is impractical, there are still plenty of opportunities to support the needs and interests of community youth. Launch a scholarship in your company’s name. Sponsor a field trip or an event such as a soccer tournament. Offering a donation or help with a youth project such as providing meals to local families in need will boost your reputation as a community partner. Connecting with the PTO to see where you can have the greatest impact will get you noticed by a network of moms that will build you a client list. Some companies even team up with student fundraisers and offer a discount on their services to donors. Almost anything you donate or provide will get your company’s name out into the community among people who will need your services sooner or later. Youth sports organizations are great opportunities to connect to the community. Does a hometown team need help with equipment or uniforms? Do fields need better night lights? Could the turf use some work? Many cities and towns have a Police Athletic League that organizes tournaments and other activities for children and teens. The local PAL would probably have a slew of suggestions about how to become involved. Coffee shops and small restaurants that can provide light food for different events are always appreciated. Food is a tried and true ice breaker, especially for community meetings about proposals and issues that bring together people with opposing views. And it’s a great way to give people a taste of what you have to offer. If there’s a hometown parade, enter a float. Donate to the Fourth of July fireworks fund. Participate in holiday events and celebrations, particularly for athletic teams that pick up championship titles. It can be helpful to partner with one well-known non-profit organization. Faith communities are a great resource. Congregations have their own charitable projects and would welcome some support. Although community involvement means donations of time and money, for small businesses it’s usually time and money well spent. A successful community is usually home to successful businesses. When your community wins, you win. For a good example of building success through community involvement visit https://www.carpetmdinfo.com/.
- Is a Cleaning Business Profitable?If you’re one of the thousands of people thinking of opening your own cleaning business, you may have had the same thought as everybody else, “Is a cleaning business even profitable?” Understandably, people have a lot of questions when it comes to cleaning businesses. Unlike other companies, you really don’t see the transactions nor the everyday hustle and bustle of an office building. Thus the following includes further detail about the probability of a cleaning business. The Demand is There No matter if you live in a mid-sized city or a sprawling metropolis, the demand for cleaning services is there. Parents who are both working constantly may need someone to come in once or twice a week to clean up the home. Entrepreneurs and large companies are also seeking people who can clean a few floors without really having to hire them as full-time employees. In addition to having the demand, because your services are so widely needed, you may be able to increase your prices, thus improving your profit margins at the end of the month. Opportunity to Continue Growing Those who have taken the leap and open up their own cleaning services can tell you that they did so not only because of the possible profits but also because of their growth potential. Because the number of possible clients is not limited to one industry within your community, you can expand if you are willing to bring more people onto your crew. This, of course, does mean investing in training, supplies, and employees, but growth does not come without a cost. You May Offer Various Types of Cleaning Services Unlike a shoe or clothing store that can only sell one particular type of item, cleaning services have a whole plethora of services they can offer to clients. This means that you always have the chance of upselling clients with a more detailed and more expensive plan. For example, if you’re cleaning residential homes, you may want to promote the fact that you now offer office building cleaning services. If you have a carpet cleaning company, you can offer upholstery cleaning and other types of floor cleaning with your existing equipment. If you are doing your job correctly, many of your existing clients may recommend you to their jobs or friends and family. Overhead Cost One of the biggest reasons why so many are hesitant to go into business for themselves is due to overhead costs. A restaurant will need furniture, supplies, and large, expensive kitchen equipment before they can offer their services to the public. However, all a cleaning service business needs is a stockpile of cleaning supplies, uniforms, and enough capital to pay their employees. This makes making a profit within your first year that much more realistic. As you can see from the information above, there are a number of reasons why a cleaning services business would be profitable. Of course, it is always recommended to conduct your own due diligence before investing your funds into one.
- The Economy is Us
People are worried. Why throw money to soak up bad debts banks have, when people are facing potential debt or mortgage payments problems of their own, especially if jobs drop and interest rates rise – as seems sure to happen no matter what Congress does. Even if banks are kept solvent, who is to assure that they will still help out the small businessperson?
I have a little experience and a general philosophy here. I started my business with family help in 1988, buying a store. The recession of 89-92 hit right after I moved the store to a new shopping center and quadrupled my rent and overhead. It was tough. But there were good things about it. Businesses had to be smart to survive. You had to take better care of your customers. You had to forge relationships with them. It could not be a semi-anonymous thing just centered around goods and money. People got a little more serious about life in the hard times. It was not all bad.
Here is a little thinking on banking. My experience in business was with a small business and a locally-owned bank. When I went to get my business loan to buy my business I spoke with the banker for a long time. He explained that he was the last locally-owned bank in Knoxville, Tennessee. He explained the difference between a locally-owned bank and a larger chain bank. Local banks take local money and primarily invest it in the local economy, in giving loans to businesses like mine. There is accountability there. There is a relationship. We are business partners. I would often go over to the bank and just talk, get help, advice, and wisdom; not just deal with money. There is a lot more to running a business (and life itself) than just money.
Larger banks tended, he said, to take the local money and invest it in broader, often removed, markets. They would invest Knoxvillians’ money more in the various funds and national or international banking schemes out there. They might make a great profit, but it was not as much by supporting the people where we lived and whom we knew personally and providing them capital to follow their dreams.
I was tremendously struck with the fundamental difference. I had never before realized that every dollar I invested in a bank, even in my own savings or checking account, could either be earmarked to support a vague fund with who-knows-what control over it in who-knows-which place; or it could be put in the hands of my local banker who could be freer to lend it to my neighbor who ran a hair salon in my own shopping center. Or, for that matter, my business. When you boil it down that way, it is very simple.
I became a huge fan of investing locally and investing in a relationship that provided wisdom, commitment to me and my neighbors as well as liquidity.
Perhaps it is time for the entire nation – or even the world – to get the grandiose banking schemes out of their heads and return to investing in -and being accountable to – people they can sit down and talk with. Then we can all learn more – about money – and about life.
A new slogan: It’s about the fact that the economy is us – ’stupid
- Featured Partner: Focal Point Business Coaching
Your business is a mechanism for exchanging value for money. Simple but not easy.
A good business coach will help you clarify your goals and then spend your time working towards those goals at maximum effectiveness. And he or she will help you realize more reward for the value that you provide. This includes working with you to create effective systems, processes, and organizations so that you don’t have to “touch” everything that happens in your business.
Specifically, Burl works with smart, passionate, and savvy owners and CEOs of triple bottom line businesses. Together, they engage in holistic-minded executive thinking, planning, and problem solving, normally on a weekly basis. It can be hard work. At times, it will be uncomfortable. It is not for everyone. But Burl’s clients find that the process is also rewarding, enlightening, and meaningful.
Does your business add economic and societal value in one of the following ways:
- Manufacturing, distributing, or selling healthy food?
- Renewing the soil through restorative agriculture?
- Increasing energy efficiencies?
Have you proven the viability of your business but want to take it to the next level? Are you truly committed to success?
If so, a talk with Burl is a wise next step. He will provide executive level business counsel for the price of an entry-level hire, and with no long-term contract.
Burl Amsbury Bio:
Burl is a certified business coach focusing on holistic, systems-level strategies. Burl holds an MS in Management from MIT’s Sloan School of Management, as well as both a BS and MS in electrical engineering from MIT. He served as a U.S. Navy pilot and held several executive-level corporate positions before starting his current business helping triple bottom line businesses maximize efficiencies, growth, and reward. He is particularly passionate about the production, distribution, and sales of healthy food, the creation of healthy soil through restorative agriculture, and increasing efficiencies in our energy systems.