10 Years

Things to Accomplish in Finding Your Passion

The meaning of success depends on the person who is asked to define such. For some, this all boils down in finding your passion. And once that is achieved, they already feel successful with whatever ventures they have decided to take. But this is not as easy as you think it is.

When you are young, you think that anything is possible. As you dare to try things, you will achieve what you want to happen eventually. If you are older and you find yourself stuck at a point where you feel like you have nowhere else to go, this may be harder. You have to clear your mind of all the negativity that clouds your emotions. You need to take bigger risks and claim more than what you think you deserve.

Steps towards Your Goal

However hard the road ahead of you seems to be in order for you to get nearer to your passion, you must always be ready to take the necessary steps towards it. Here are some things that you can do in this regard to help you with where you eventually would want to go.

1. You must engage yourself in a self assessment process. You have to think about things. What have you gone through to reach this point in your life? Where are you right now? And what else do you want to happen? How do you perceive yourself two to three years from now? If that is not possible to happen that soon, what do you want to be maybe five or 10 years after?

After you have clearly seen the person that you want to be after the years that you have allotted for you to achieve that, you must look into the steps that you are undertaking to make sure that it will happen. You must review the steps that you are doing to make sure that you will become that person.

You will feel it inside you if you want to accomplish something so bad that you are willing to do anything to get there. This is when you feel like you have no more time for other things that won’t help in order to become who you eventually want to be. One sign that you are at this point in your life is when you start reading articles and topics that can help you be more aware about your goals and ways to get there.

2. Your goals must be very clear to you. You know what you want to happen. You know how to get there. Verbalize your thoughts. Is that what you really want to achieve? Your words should match exactly how you feel.

3. You must not be too hard on yourself. You should keep your goals simple. And you must set each step that you will undertake easier to accomplish. This way, you will not easily give up when you are presented with unexpected situations.

Once you have settled your mind in doing the necessary steps for you to reach the goals that you have set for yourself, just proceed with it. You should not stop no matter what happens. This is something that you have to do in order to be at a happier and more fulfilled state.

After you have taken the steps in finding your passion, you must cherish your actions. You should also take good care of whatever you will eventually achieve it.

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10 Steps to Organize Your Life

Psychological studies show that people are more productive when working in an organized environment. That’s great news for the neat freaks, but what about organizationally deficient folks?

Organizing Your Life

How do you organize your life when you have so much to do and so little time? Brian Tracy says the starting point of getting your life under control is to sit down and think about two things: 1. Who you really are? And 2. if you could do anything professionally, what would it be? At Stanford University developed the 20-10 exercise. Imagine you have $20 million in the bank, yet only 10 years to live due to terminal illness. What would you do with the time you have left? What do you really want in your life? List 10 goals, and if you only were able to accomplish one of them, which one goal would have the greatest impact on your life? For more on organizing your life, please check out the national best seller, Home Buying by the Experts, co-authored by motivational speaker, Brian Tracy. HouseRebate.com — Share the Wealth!

Are they destined to wallow in their debilitating clutter for eternity? Of course not! With a little effort, anyone can learn organizational skills and reap the benefits of an orderly life.

If your mess has bested you, give this 10-step program a shot.

1. Fix the leak. It doesn’t do any good to repair a water-damaged ceiling until after the leak in the roof is fixed. Likewise, you will make no progress in organizing your life if you continue to practice disorderly habits. Examine your lifestyle and determine where the bulk of the mess is coming from, then make a conscious effort to break those habits. Set some guidelines for yourself and your family “No new messes!” being the primary rule. The first step in changing messy ways is to stop contributing to the problem.

2. Assess the mess. Take a look around and decide what areas of your home or office need your attention. Maybe just one or two rooms have started to clutter, or maybe every square inch of your property is packed and piled with possessions. Whatever the case, begin with a good look-see.

3. Do the daily dozen. I know the thought of sorting through those closets and corners makes you shudder, so don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to tackle the job all at once. The hit-and-run approach works much better. Set aside twelve minutes a day to do something simple like cleaning up your medicine cabinet or organizing your lawn and gardening tools in the garage. When your daily dozen is up, walk away. It may not seem like you are accomplishing much, but like running water wears away at a rock, after a few weeks, you will begin to see the effects of your efforts.

4. Localize. If you are disorganized, chances are your mess has crept through your entire house, with pieces and projects all mixed together in a jumble. Don’t despair! It’s fixable. Start by localizing your messes. Choose a place for each “category” of mess. Paperwork should go by the filing cabinet, tools in the garage, music and videos with the entertainment center. Don’t worry about organizing them yet; just stash them in a box, basket, or plastic tub in the general vicinity of their final destination. Think of it as a giant puzzle. If you put all the pieces of one section in the same place, the final assembly is faster and easier.

5. Reduce, recycle, resale. Admit it! You don’t even use the stuff you’re hording in that basement storage room, and half the clothes in your closet don’t fit you anymore. And when was the last time you listened to the music cassettes you purchased in 1983? As you begin to sort and localize your mess, find a giant box and write “garage sale” on the side. As you uncover something you can live without, stash it in the box. Recycle old papers, magazines and plastics, and make weekly donations to a charitable resale shop.

6. Choose a corner. Pick one area or room and concentrate your twelve-minute organizational spurts on that place until it is finished. Those jam-packed dresser drawers might be your first focus. Or maybe the cupboard below the bathroom sink demands top priority. If your whole house is in chaos, make a project list, placing high-priority jobs at the top. As you clean and organize each area, cross a line off the list and pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Seeing the list dwindle will keep you motivated!

7. Categorize. When organizing, it’s often easiest to remove everything from its container or cupboard and sift through all the pieces that need to fit into the space. Sort through and separate your stuff into categories. If you’re tackling the bedroom closet, maybe you want work clothes in one section, formal outfits clustered together and casual digs in a separate cubby. Once your clothes are categorized, you can see how much space you will need for each grouping.

8. Case the space. Take a look at your closet and determine the most efficient way to store your possessions. Which items do you use the most? You’ll want those in an easy-to-reach location. How much space will the items in each category take up? You’ll want to choose a shelf or drawer that will accommodate them. If needed, add shelves, hooks, closet rods and other gadgets that will improve the organization of a space.

9. Clean and replace. Since an empty space is easy to clean, this is a good time to pull out a sponge and a vacuum. Once you’ve vanquished the dirt, start replacing the items one category at a time. Work at it until you’ve found the right mix of organization and convenience. When one area is finished, move on to the next until the work is done.

10. Maintain. Your house or office is organized, but it won’t stay that way unless you do the upkeep. Now that you’re in the habit of spending a dozen minutes a day organizing, spend that time eliminating little areas of mess or disorganization that appear. While putting bath towels in the linen closet, take an extra 30 seconds to straighten the other shelves. Is that Tupperware cupboard starting to overflow? It only takes two minutes to restack the containers in a neat and orderly fashion.

Spending a few minutes each day to stay on top of the mess is much easier than reorganizing the whole house each year.

About Author:

Lisa Tuttle is a freelance writer, publishing short stories, devotionals, and articles for newspapers and magazines. Her monthly column “Behind the Scenes” appears in the Write to the Heart newsletter, a publication of the American Christian Romance Writers. She recently accepted the opportunity to write a biography for hire and is pursuing publication for her novels. Samples of her work can be viewed on her website at http://www.lisatuttle.com.

8 Small Business Mistakes You Should Avoid

Do you realize that there are mistakes you can make at various stages of your business’ growth that can be slowly killing it for months or even years if you don’t watch for them?

Well, these mistakes do exist and they are not just reserved for the rookie companies. Many working businesses, including those you might think are successful” because they’ve been around for 10+ years, are often still making them… and are possibly losing a lot of money and/or wasting a lot of time in the process.

Although some of these big and sneaky mistakes seem aimed more at service type companies, they really do fit the bill for almost any type of industry. I’ve done my best with the listings below to give examples to prove it.

Underestimating Project/Service Time

This is a big one and it pertains to service companies as well as companies that sell a product. This is a service company’s bread and butter. If you don’t estimate your time to perform each and every service in your repertoire, you will get burned and there is little you can do about it but bite the bullet and learn from it. The best way to estimate time is to do it once yourself or watch your best employee do the task and then throw in a little fudge factor on top of it. For product companies, time becomes an issue with logistics so be aware!
Not Knowing YOUR Company Numbers/Incorrectly Setting Prices

Notice I emphasized the word “your”. It’s a common mistake to use a competitor’s as your pricing gauge without actually knowing why they use those numbers. Think about the nightmare you will get yourself into if you take a competitor’s price, cut it by 10% and then start selling. What if the competition has a bad pricing structure and is barely making money or even losing money?!?! What if your costs are more than theirs?!?! You can use competitor as a starting point but you can’t base your whole strategy on it.

Different industries have their own variables as far as costs go and you need to be aware of them for your project or product pricing. What you pay for a product you are going to sell is not the only cost to have in your head when you are pricing products. How much your labor and materials cost for a service is only a piece of an hourly rate. Employees cost more than just salary and not every employee is part of your labor cost. Every company has insurance to pay for.

There are tons of overhead expenditures that need to be part of your price. Oh, by the way, the big one that many people forget about in their price is the quality factor. What you include as “standard services” or “standard product features” as well as job site etiquette or in store service or warranties all need to go into your pricing. I’ll get to more on why in the next segment.

Not Charging for All of Your Time & Costs

This seems like a stupid statement to some but I bet most business owners will admit that they have given away a little too much of the farm at times. Hey, there is nothing wrong with giving a little extra here and there to show you care. But either way, that’s not what I’m talking about here. What concerns me are those that put a lot of quality into their work or products or stores and do not cover the cost for it. As an example, say you run a service company and your competitors don’t do a certain standard service that you do.

You can’t just undercut their price to steal a job; you need to have that cost covered in your rate and advertise the fact that it comes with the price upfront. Stores underestimate themselves, for example, when they put more people on the floor for customer service but don’t charge for it. These things cost you money and when your competitors don’t do them it costs them less money. Put out better service and then under price them, and your competition just has to wait a little bit for you to fall on your face so they can swoop back in.

As a business owner you need to believe that you are providing your clients worthwhile wares that deserve to be paid for. If you get the chance to explain why your prices are higher, then take that opportunity and do it. If they don’t like the fact that you include things that others charge extra for later or that you treat them better, then they are most likely completely price shoppers. You don’t want them as regular customers anyway. Trust me.

Not Getting Paid Fast Enough

That’s right, the old cash flow issue. As long as you are actually making enough money to pay the bills, this problem can be solved, prevented or at least made to be not as bad as it could be.

Here’s the deal:

First of all, bill customers very promptly. It is very common for a small business to not have the procedures or systems in place to get invoices generated and out the door in a timely fashion (see the next segment for more). Again, this would seem unlikely since that’s the reason why we are doing the work- to get paid. But it is very easy for the people responsible for getting this info to the billing people to be too busy to get it there or not have enough organization to give it to them the right way.

The second part to slowing down or stopping a regular cash flow crunch is to make the quickest payment deals possible with customers and the slowest possible with vendors and employees. If there is any way not to pay employees any more than twice a month, you better do it. Contractors always have an issue with this. If you must pay weekly, then tell them before they are hired that they will be getting the first week held back, essentially buying you a week. It will help, I promise.

Part three involves credit. If your company can get a credit card, then get it. This allows for certain important things to be bought (that you can afford) that might come up during a cash flow crunch. Better yet, especially if you have no choice but to deal with 45+ day customer payments, do your best to get a company line of credit. This is a must if you plan on selling to the government or doing commercial service work. These clients often have 60 to 90 day wait periods.

Failure to Have Solid Systems and Procedures in Place

Too many procedures (known as “red tape”) is the reason why many people start their own business in the first place. Unfortunately, having no procedures and systems in place at all is not an alternative. Depending on the type of industry, business owners must come to a happy medium or chaos and the unknown will ensue. Some basic examples where procedures or systems are needed include billing, collections, payroll, hr (interviewing, hiring, vacations, benefits, job responsibilities, etc.), manufacturing, operating equipment, maintaining equipment, inventory, sales calls/visits and logistics to name a few.

Even a one person show needs to have some admin procedures in place. This will make it easier to hire temps and subcontractors and control what they are doing for you. Without at least a watered down version of a system or procedure to do everyday work, you will be to blame for causing many major headaches as your company grows.

I can’t emphasize how important this is for when you bring on new employees. I’m sure you heard this before, but I am also a big proponent of having an employee handbook even for one employee. It’s amazing the trouble people can cause business owners just because they allow you to pay them.

Spending Advertising Money Just to Say You Advertise

I would almost rather see my clients not advertise then to spend without regard to tracking the results. There is no point in a marketing campaign if you do not put things in place that allow you to measure how well the plan is working. The other wasteful part of marketing that many people make the mistake of doing, is not tracking their previously successful campaigns. Why some people think that just because a $400 dollar a month ad worked once very well for one busy season, that it will automatically work every year after that is beyond me.

Spreading Yourself Too Thin

This is a classic mistake made by every entrepreneur. The key is to figure out when you are at that “wearing too many hats” point and start getting some help. The solution here is to know your strengths and to be able see when you are not performing the duties that demand these skills. If you are the best sales person on the company, you can’t get caught up in day-to-day operations. If you do, sales will slip and eventually you won’t have any operations to worry about. Think about this to help you figure out if you are spread too thin: Did you really go into business for yourself to work 80+ hours a week?

Not Getting Help Soon Enough

Set goals to know when to hire people to take over where you are light on knowledge. Not getting help or waiting too long can kill a company. Most people who start a business do it because they are good at the technical end or the sales end. If you know the best way to make a widget, then your strength is in production and that is where your time should be spent. Hire an outside company or consultant to take care of the sales and marketing and then hire inside when you can afford someone full time. Don’t be something to your company that you are not. It will only hold you back.

The three big issues people like to tackle themselves but usually are least knowledgeable about are legal issues, accounting/bookkeeping issues and daily operations issues. The odds are that these three things are your weakest link so if you don’t have a partner that has the background for these subjects, then be prepared to get help as soon as possible. It’s preferable that you do this before you start a business.

Although looking for these problems at any time is a good idea, the end of a year or season is an excellent business interval to make sure you are not making these errors. Take the time, or make the time, to fix these problems. If you don’t know how to reverse the problems, then get some help. If you really don’t have enough time to either figure out if you have these issues or know they are there and can’t break away long enough to do it right, then get some help.