How To Make Your Deadlines Every Time

05 Nov, 2015 | Tags: , , ,

Deadlines can sneak up on you. You think, OK I’ve got two weeks to finish this project, so you place it on hold. Then 24 hours before it’s due, you’re suddenly geared up and stressed out trying to finish the project on time. Watching that calendar date come closer and closer, or completely forgetting the deadline completely, is not a great business strategy when trying to remain professional. Deadline adrenaline rushes can help deal with unexpected events but should never be a part of your strategy. Here are 5 ways to make sure you make your deadlines every time.

1. Break Down Your Bigger Tasks Into Smaller Pieces

Take in the big picture of your workload. Look at each of the projects and their deadlines. Then create for yourself smaller projects within those larger projects. Create deadlines along the way. This way, when your big deadline shows up, you’ve already completed the better part of the project in smaller increments.

2. Use Technology To Stay Ahead

You live in the year 2015; act like it. Don’t try and keep up with all your projects and deadlines in your head or on small post-it notes scattered around your desk. Use calendars, your smartphone, and apps to help you stay on task. There are so many easy applications out there to help you stay organized. Do your research and find (then use) the best organization strategy to help you stay on task. 

3. Get Started

Getting started sounds easy, but sometimes it isn’t. Set aside the time to just stare blankly at your computer if necessary. Type words and hope they start making sense. (None of this is good advice…) The reality is though, that unless you position yourself to start… nothing will get done. Your project won’t start itself while you watch that TV show. So put aside time to get started, even if you don’t know quite yet how you are going to start.

4. Reward Yourself

Have a plan to reward yourself when you’ve finished your project. You know yourself best;  set up rewards that you know will motivate you. Maybe if you’ve broken your task into several smaller tasks, maybe you are allowed a 10 minute break for each task you finish. Or perhaps once you’ve finished that major project, you go out to dinner at your favorite local restaurant. Either way, have a reward system set up for yourself that will help you power through to the end.

5. It’s Ok To Ask For Help

Don’t ever be afraid to say, “I need help.” Sometimes your project may be too much; you won’t be a hero because you don’t make your deadline… all by yourself. Recruit help if you need it. It’s better to finish the job on time and well, instead of having the project loom over you unfinished. 

Speaking of help, is scheduling your work shifts an item in your to do list? Then allow us take that load of your back by trying out our What Time Do I Work software.

Henry Rarick is a marketing specialist who focuses on supporting hard money lenders. He is passionate about making things happen on time and on point. 

Head Start: Secure Ways to Get Funding for Your Startup

27 Oct, 2015 | Tags: , , ,

While many people may have an idea for how to start their own business, getting the necessary funding may be difficult at best. What many people fail to realize is the many different ways there are to secure funding for a startup business. If you meet certain criteria, you can make the process a little easier and get funded more quickly.


A way to reach a variety of people online, crowdfunding has become a popular option for funding a business idea. By using such websites as Kickstarter, people can read about your business idea and donate money to it simply because they like what they see. Many businesses have been able to raise thousands of dollars with this method, so it’s an option that’s definitely worth exploring.

Small Business Grants

New business owners might overlook the numerous grants available to help get the money needed to make their dreams become reality. Businesses that focus on technology, medicine, education, and social services tend to have the most grants available to them, and there are more than 1,000 different grants available from the federal government alone. Online directories are available for searching grant possibilities, making this option well worth the effort.

Bank Loans

An option for those who have excellent credit or enough collateral to put up that will lessen the risk of the bank, loans can be a way to get the necessary financing to start a business. For those who own their homes, a home loan can be a way to raise high amounts of money quickly and easily. Talk to a mortgage agent in Houston at Sente Mortgage about how you might refinance or what you might need to do to qualify for a home loan.

Angel Investors

Becoming a more popular option for future business owners, angel investors are almost always available in metropolitan areas. Most of these individuals are willing to invest up to one million dollars in a business in exchange for a percentage of the profits. So if you have big plans for your business, these investors can make them happen. Make sure you have a strong pitch to sell your point to them.

Family and Friends

An often overlooked source of business financing, family and friends can be a primary source of funding for any startup businesses. Because they want to see the business be a huge success, they are often willing to offer substantial amounts of money and be flexible when it comes to repayment terms.

By exploring these options, people who have dreams of starting their own business can find themselves with many financing options. While it can be difficult to get a business started, taking advantage of these options can go far toward seeing your dreams become reality.

Making the Most Out Of A Networking Event

29 Sep, 2015 | Tags: , , , ,

Networking is a necessary evil for those of you in the business world. You may be the type of person who loves to get out there and mingle, or you may be the person who would much rather stay at home and watch Netflix with a large pizza. No matter how you feel, the day you’ll have to get out there and work the system is inevitable. But don’t worry; networking isn’t as hard as you might think. Here are some quick tips on how you can make the most of your networking event.

Find The Right Event

Going to the right networking event is very important. If you’re a restaurant chef trying to network at an social media event, chances are your networking may not benefit. However, if you’re a chef and you go network at a wedding event, you may find individuals who are actively looking for a caterer. See how that works? Not all events are created equal. Be sure to find one that you believe will be worth the time you’ll spend.

What To Expect

Going to a networking event is like looking for yourself in the high school yearbook. You skimming over all the pages, resting quickly to look at some fun looking pictures, but overall the attitude is let’s find “me”. The difference at the networking event however is you’re looking for your business. Who are you meeting? What are their business strategies? How can you both work together for mutual benefit? You’re going to need to talk to people to answer these questions. Don’t be nervous about making your business sound like the type of company people would want to work with!

What To Bring

Always bring plenty of business cards, and pass them out like candy to little kids. You really can never have enough business cards on hand. Depending on the type of event, you may want to bring some brochures showcasing your previous work or business strategies. Feel free to touch base with the event coordinators to find out what is permissible for the event. Again, if you were the chef at a wedding event hoping to network as a wedding caterer, it may benefit you to have a table with samples of your food. It is never wrong to ask what you are allowed to bring, but at the very minimum, carry lots of business cards on you.
How To Act: Remember everyone is at the event doing the same thing you’re doing. Listen to others as they talk about their business. Share some of the highlights from your company. In addition to networking, you may also find individuals who know more about a particular something in your line of work that you’d like to know more about. Exchange business cards with these individuals; ask them out for coffee so you can talk more openly.

Whatever you do, remember to relax and enjoy the event!

Employee Retention – How to Keep Your Top Performers

09 Sep, 2015 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Chances are that you know or have seen people that are self-driven.  They work well with others and they excel at their job.  They’re not clock watchers, they want to excel at everything they do, and they always strive to exceed expectations.  Due to their reputation of striving for excellence, they have created an extensive network of cross-connecting with like-minded people and businesses, and their networks continue to grow in size and quality.  They’re the ones that everyone wants, and recruiters (or “headhunters”) can’t wait to connect with them.  When you have outstanding employees of this magnitude, there is always the concern of losing them, especially to competitors.  So the question remains, how do I keep my top performers?  In order to delve into this subject matter further, you must first be aware that your perspective of whom your top performers are might be quite different than someone else’s opinion.  So, be prepared to back-up your opinion with facts, and be able to express them in a private and/or group setting, and in written form.  Remember, you being able to identify top performers can also make you a valuable asset, and yes, a top performer.

Identifying Your Top Performers. 

In order to identify your top performers, you must first be engaged with your staff, and spending time finding what they feel is working well, their concerns, and positive/negative feedback.  They need to feel connected to you and to the company’s purpose (or vision) in order for them to feel comfortable opening up and sharing.  So, build those relationships with your staff and you will build more trust.  After striving for more open communication, you may find out amazing things.   There are instances where managers assume that one employee was responsible for a great idea, problem-solving a customer service issue, or coming up with huge solution to an existing problem, only to find out that someone took credit where credit wasn’t due.  You will also get a better indication of how people within your business react with one another.  Who is spreading negativity, who is spreading gossip?  More importantly, who works well in a team environment?  So, first and foremost, create and nurture those relationships.  Remember, communication is key.

Now that you know who your top performers are, you can better address ways to retain them.   In order to address this challenge, let’s flip it over and look at this from the top performer’s perspective:

What are their needs? 

People are driven by many different motives and what you may assume drives them, may not be it at all.  This is where you need to start digging.  Make sure you’re having informal conversations with these performers; get to know how they tick.  At times, you may want to take them out to lunch, have some one-on-one time with them, and find out what it is that they really want.  Do they enjoy working with the business?  Why or why not?   Figure out what additional training may be beneficial to them and to your company.  Are they looking at your company as potential for long-term growth? What are their short-term and long-term goals?   If not, when you identify what it is that they want, you can better guide them on this path within your organization. What would motivate them to want to stay longer?  Are they open to continuing education?  Would your company reimburse for approved courses.  As they receive more expertise, they should be able to use it in their current job, and/or along their stated career path within your company.  What’s the best part of their job?  Their worst?  Share a little about yourself and ask them to share a little about them.  Find out what do they like to do for fun?  When you are asking and sharing, you can find out what their “whys” are and understand its importance to them.  Share the good qualities that you see in them

Do your business needs and their needs match up? 

No one can see into the future, but it’s important that your outstanding employees see that they are being groomed for better things.  They may not remain if there isn’t a clear path to greater opportunities.  So, what are you making available to them?  We’ve already discussed extra training, and now is a great time to expose them to the next level of work, to get the flavor of it.  You can see how they are responding to this and they are assessing if this is, in fact what they really want too. Continue to keep their goals in front of you both and keep the lines of communication open.

Be a visionary. 

Paint a vision of where you see them in one year and in five years.  Remind them of the opportunities in your company and connect it to their vision. 

Perks.  Who doesn’t like perks?  A gift card for two to a special dinner, a couple of tickets to their favorite sports team game, an afternoon off so they can go see a play their child is performing in.  Raises may or may not be available but potential bonuses might be.  Explore different areas and gear them toward their unique perspective

Name Recognition.  When they do something great, make sure you bring it up in the next meeting when appropriate.  Introduce them to higher ups in the company so interaction naturally happens.  Invite them to your LinkedIn.  And, what a great time to ask them if they know of anyone else that might be interested in the company.  Top performers know other top performers.

At the end of the day, the more an employee sees that you know who they are, appreciate what they do, open up opportunities and connections for them, and paint the same vision, the more chance you’ll have of retaining those top performers.

Bringing Business Back: Six Customer Rewards that Really Work

05 Sep, 2015 | Tags: , , , , , ,

Customer loyalty is about more than just retention. You want to encourage your customers to spend more money in your stores, and purchase the type of products that will keep them coming back. There are several ways to increase customer loyalty, and following these tried and true methods, you can improve your bottom line and make a casual customer more loyal to your company brand.

The Points System

A points system is simple, and is used effectively around the world because it actually works. Customers are able to receive points when they purchase certain items, which allows you to better manage your inventory. Rather than discounting items, you can double or triple the points first to see if that helps you sell inventory. Customers can later get rewards in the form of cash-back, free items, or a percentage off the total when a certain number of points have been reached. It’s often a win-win situation for both you and the customer.

Get a Partnership

Work with local stores and offer combined discounts that can be used at more than one location. For example, if customers spend more than $100 at your store, they may be able to get discounts at other stores or sites like when they offer coupons for Partnering with a name-brand store may help you increase your brand awareness and encourage shoppers to frequent your store.

VIP Benefit Programs

Start a base-level points program, and offer a VIP program with additional rewards for people who purchase a membership. Purchasing a membership by itself will encourage them to come back and use their card more often. Since they have already paid the dues, they will be more inclined to shop at your store to receive those extra benefits.

Non-Monetary Rewards

Some industries do better offering additional services or giving a donation to a local charity than with a money-based reward system. If you boast an environmentally friendly store, customers may feel better about your company if they know that a percentage of all proceeds go to help rainforest preservation, or a local children’s charity. Figure out what your customers want, and design rewards programs that reinforce what your customers value.

Create Weekly Contests or Drawings

A weekly contest or drawing can help bring more customers into your store. Offer smaller prizes and reward several prizes, so they will have a better chance of winning the contest or drawing. These sorts of games can be fun for employees and shoppers, and the odds of winning go up the more they shop.

Forget the Rewards Program

Build rewards into the shopping experience. When customers purchase goods worth a certain value, give them a discount. Give them rewards just for being customers, and don’t require any sort of membership or loyalty program to take part. First-time shoppers will come back because they will be surprised they received a free gift with their purchase.

No single rewards program will work for every industry. It’s up to you to think about the type of customer you’re getting, and find a way to increase their loyalty. Try a few different programs, or ask for your customers’ input to find the best system for your type of business.