Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Should I Finance my Equipment to Start My Business?

Starting a lawn care business can be stressful, but if you take time and think through it, you can do it easily and debt free! Starting a new business is very risky. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Business Employment Dynamics, 20% of businesses fail the first year, 33% fail during year two, 50% fail by year five, and whopping 70% will not exist ten years later. You're starting your business with the goal to make profit and thrive. The statistics are against you. However, with dedication, learning and a little common sense, you will be part of the 30% without trouble!

Monday, November 12, 2018

You Will Never Continue To Make Money Unethically

Operating a business is more than making money. It's maintaining integrity while your clients aren't home. After all, you're working for their money!

Every action you're about to do has two routes. Ethical and Unethical. Which one do you follow? Every industry has plenty of unethical businesses that do some not so right things either in front or behind the scenes.

For this article, I'm going to revert to my primary business, landscaping. You'll see them out everywhere nearly year round. It's quite the cut throat industry. I created my entire business model based on the polar opposite of what other businesses did. If you fall into the "normal" category of landscapers, chances are, there's so much room for improvement and I'll help you along the way!

What if I told you the "normal" way of landscape businesses are to cut corners whenever possible to save time and/or money? Would you hire that company knowing they do that? Absolutely not! I had an 100% success rate with raising my prices a very small percentage so that I no longer had to cut corners. I marketed that I was improving the quality of my business and to do so, I had to charge just a little more. If they didn't see the improvement, we would go back to the original pricing. Most of you right now are thinking "This guy is crazy!" I am. "Your clients would just say they didn't see the improvement." Wrong. They WANT to see an improvement. All clients at the time said they saw an improvement worth the few extra dollars a month.

Your quality of work is how you're rated in the community. Word of mouth advertising is the number one way your business gets clients because you strive to build your reputation. YOU DO GOOD WORK! Starting out your business you want to make an entry into the industry. You probably don't start out charging what the seasoned businesses charge. In fact, you shouldn't just yet (call me crazy again). If you charge a slightly less than the "big guys" in town, you'll enter the industry much easier. But don't give them less quality than the big guys. Give them MORE! If you keep up or out-do the other guys, your reputation will be seen and you'll be able to charge big guy prices in no time!

Behind the Scenes

At the end of the day, you make $500. How much is the IRS going to know you made? Don't hide your money, use it! Start up a Roth IRA and place a percentage of your pre-tax income into it not only to lower your taxable income, but to save for your retirement!

Absolutely, positively, do NOT hide your income from the IRS. It's a bad idea and you will lose! We don't want to pay higher taxes either. So what's the plan?

Stay ethical! Use a good CPA for taxes at the least. Studies show the average person spends 13 hours filing their personal income tax forms. That's not accounting for their 1040 Schedule C and other business related tax forms. You'll spend 40+ hours trying to do it yourself. Save time which will save you money!

A CPA will most likely cost a small business anywhere from $200-500 to figure your taxes out. They know the deductions you can take more than you do. It's their job, after all. If you start out making more money than your business can spent by a long shot and you're going to end up paying 20+ % taxes on it, reinvest it into your company, give to charity, do anything besides hiding it.

Romans 13:7: Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Keep that in mind and your business will prosper. 

6 Reasons That Your Business Should be "Email First"

Having a regular mailing list for your clients and potential clients can be very beneficial to your sales. I've found that keeping my business "Email First" is a huge success. With this Email First model, 90+% of your client communications is via email. This diverts several client side issues including the infamous "you never answer your phone!" or the fun game of phone tag. With emails, your clients are giving you more time to get back to them. I usually answer my emails in the evening. The benefit of this is most of my clients are home relaxing, and receive my email so they can read it at their leisure instead of taking time out of their day to talk to me on the phone.

Why Your Business Should be Email First

1. Better Organization

With email, you're able to archive your emails that way nothing is forgotten what is said like what's possible on the phone. Most new business owners are also the operators. You're in the field and don't necessarily have a notepad readily available, so email is good as gold for us. Think of your email as a "to do list" and you'll find that it runs a little smoother.

2. More Time To Respond

We all face it. Your client calls you and reaches your voicemail because you're on the mower. Chances are after a time or two of this, they're going to be a little mad. If you primarily communicate with your clients via email, they're allowing you more time to respond. Reply at your lunch break or at the end of the day. You'll find successful results with most of your customers.

3. Threaded Conversations

Calls and voice mails have little record of what was actually said. Emails create a log of what was sent in a threaded conversation. This way if there's confusion, you'll easily be able to go back through the email and correct the confusion.

4. They Probably Already Use It

Most of our customers work in an office environment. Every office job I've seen has email and a LOT of it because it's the primary means of communication. I began to make it a habit to get my client's personal and work email. I'll send it to their personal and carbon copy their work email. They'll not only see it faster if they're at work. You'll cover the bases if they're off at vacation.

5. Greater Detail

Try explaining a complex and very detailed estimate to a customer over the phone. You aren't able to expect your client to remember all of the details. Email allows you to organize everything so you can lay it out to your client clearly. You can even include pictures, links, and files through email. What isn't great about it?

6. More Engagement through Mass-Messaging

I regularly use MailChimp to send focused mass emails to my clients, potential clients, and anyone else that signed up for my newsletters. This has created a better engagement with my clients which turned into more sales! Simple reminders that it's getting to be time to aerate and over seed or freshen up the landscape beds with mulch through email can turn into $1000's in extra sales over a 10 minute email. That return on investment is huge!

How to Make the Transition to Email as Primary Communication

First, get all of your customer's emails. This will take a little time, but usually less than a month if you're going slow. I sat down for a few hours one Friday evening and called to get them. I got most, then the next Friday I did the same and got the rest. While you're on the phone, explain that they'll be able to reach you much quicker through email because you're busy in the field. There will be the "older folks" that don't use email, but I'll explain that in a few paragraphs.

Next I created a voicemail explaining that I was busy working on a client's lawn/landscape and said that the best way to reach me is by email. I still encouraged them to leave voice mails, but when I call them back, I make sure to also send them an email so they can get in the habit.

After doing these simple steps, practice at mastering emails! I usually read and answer them three times a day, before I start work, at lunch, and at the end of the day. Getting into a rhythm will ensure that you don't lose an email through the cracks.

Continue answering your phone. After a little while, most of your clients will be communicating with you via email and most of your phone calls will be from prospective clients! Once this is the new trend, it's not so bad interrupting a job for a new client.

Back to the older demographic that may not use email. There's two ways to handle this. I've used both depending on the situation. Some will be okay with playing phone tag. If they are, I would continue the game. If the small amount of people that don't use email take up too much time with phone calls, then simply drop them. It's completely up to you as to how to handle that.

As a final note, this blog is only for email, not texting. Aside from unprofessional, you can't exactly archive and thread your conversations like you can in email. I do have just a few clients that only text, so I make it work.

If you have many forms of communication that your clients use, there's a greater chance that you'll miss opportunities to make sales. Funnel existing clients to email and you'll find that it solves the problem. Then your phone will be free and most calls will be from potential clients!

Do you do this and have a way to make it better for everyone? Comment below!