Winter Advise To Keep Your Boiler Working

With summer now past, most of us have now switched the heating on for the first time.

So what’s the best advice to keep the boiler working?

If your boiler is under 14 years old it will be a condensing type boiler, whilst these boilers are good for efficiency and the environment, they don’t like the cold weather.

I know that sounds strange, but its true.

To keep your boiler working in the colder months make sure the condense pipe is protected from the weather.

If you are not sure which pipe is the condense, check your boiler manual. It’s normally a white plastic pipe routed into a drain.

Some are routed to an internal drain, if this is the case then you should have no problem.

Should it be routed to an external drain, make sure the pipe is well insulated, otherwise, the pipe could freeze and the boiler will stop working and go to lockout.

If you have any other external pipes, again check that they are protected, the same for any pipes within the loft area.

Make sure the boiler has an annual service, this will check that everything is working as it should be, if anything needs fixing it can be carried out there and then.

Many people don’t bother with a service because they think they are covered by a warranty or insurance, this is not true.

To keep a warranty or insurance active the boiler must have a service every 12 months, otherwise, it becomes void.

You don’t want the boiler breaking down on the coldest day, so a service is essential.

Keep your boiler flue pipe clear, you will be surprised how many flue pipes are partly blocked by leaves from climbing plants.

The flue pipe as 2 functions, first it removes the products of combustion from the burner, it also supplies the boiler with fresh air so it can burn clean and efficiently.

A partly blocked flue makes the boiler burn incorrectly, it will also increase the amount of gas it uses, as well as reduce its lifespan.

For the older boilers, the same applies annual service and keep the flue clear.

Check that there are no other problems with the rest of the system, IE, leaking radiators valves, time clocks and thermostats are all working properly.

Another common problem is pressure loss if your system is continually losing pressure, have it checked and repaired.

It’s better to call in a professional local gas safe boiler engineer to give your heating system the once over, this should keep your boiler working over the winter.

Keep your boiler working this winter and stay warm.

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Understanding Working Capital Financing Options For Franchises

One of the oldest adages regarding starting and running a franchise is the answer to a common question; “What are the three most important aspects of a successful business?” and that answer is – “location, location, location.”

Which is great when you are just starting out and want to ensure that your business – your franchise – is located where the largest amount of your potential customers are (or, where they are most likely to find your business).

However, after finding the perfect location, launching your business and drawing all those potential consumers to your company – then what? How do you ensure that your business can service them all – can keep them happy and satisfied with your products or services?

Launching a business in the perfect location is a great first start – but, it is only the start. After your business is up and running, that is when the hard work really begins.

A retail franchise has to not only ensure that it has the inventory on hand to meet customers needs but it also has to continuously reinvent its inventory mix to meet those same customer’s expectation – bringing them back over and over again.

A service franchise business not only has to offer services that customers are willing to pay for (not just do themselves) but has to have the supplies and labor on hand to meet that demand and be flexible enough to service each customer’s individual needs across any level of demand.

And, a retail manufacturer has to ensure a ready and constant supply of raw materials to meet the demand for its products – regardless if that demand is up or down.

In essence, this means that the franchise has to ensure that its operations are flexible enough to overcome and eventually satisfy any and all customer needs.

How this is done, however, is by asking another question; “What are the three most important aspects of running a successful business?” and the answer is – “working capital, working capital, working capital.”

What Is Working Capital?

Working capital is essentially the life blood of a business – any business including franchises. If you compare your business to a vehicle (car, truck, motorcycle, big rig, etc), it is one thing to buy or own an automobile but it is the another to make that vehicle go down the road – getting you from point “A” to point “B”. To do this, you need a form of fuel – gas, diesel, electricity, bio-fuels, etc. Without that fuel, your vehicle will just sit around collecting dust.

In business, in order to make your company operate efficiently, you also have to add fuel to it – in the form of working capital – to get it from point “A” to point “B” or from start up to growth or growth to expansion or expansion to success.

Working capital can come in many forms from acquiring (financing or obtaining) inventory or raw materials to obtaining or having the cash on hand to pay needed labor, utilities and even rent.

Image a franchise (let’s call it “Any Time Tools and Machines”) lands a new, big customer that wants to buy $1 million dollars worth of the services it offers (providing tools and machines for huge construction projects) – but it doesn’t have enough of those tools and machines on hand for this job and cannot afford to get more right now to complete that job – which would take some $100,000 in additional rented or leases equipment. The franchise cannot consciously agree to that job and thus that customer takes that $1 million elsewhere.

Or, a residential blinds installation franchise gets a contract to install blinds and shades in a newly constructed apartment complex that needs to be completed in the next 30 days but will not get paid for the job for another 60 days when the apartment complex does its final closing. However, the franchise has to turn down this $250,000 job because it does not have or cannot afford the labor needed to complete the installation in the next 30 days (because that new labor will need – by law – to be paid before the 60 day apartment closing and subsequent payment for the franchise’s services).

Since the beginning of time, businesses have faced working capital short-falls that have essentially destroyed their companies. These businesses have done everything correctly up to that fatal point. They have driven customers to their companies and provided the products or services those consumers wanted. Yet, because of poor working capital management, they get more customers than the have the capital on had to service and are forced to turn those patrons away – not only losing that business but creating a negative impression in the community that keeps other, new customers at bay (not to mention the business that agrees to a job or order and cannot fulfill it and consequently gets sued to death for it).

How Franchisees Finance Their Working Capital Needs

1) Traditional Business Loans. Banks have great financing program for franchise businesses. But, when it comes to working capital, the best product they offer is their revolving lines of credit – either secured by the financial assets of the business like accounts receivables or inventory or unsecured focused only on the business’s revenue or cash flow.

Either way, these commercial lines of credit work just like big credit cards (without the super high interest rates). Thus, your business can establish a line of credit that it can draw on when needed, satisfy its working capital needs to complete a job or sale, then with the proceeds from that order, pay back the line and do it all over again when needed – the key here with lines of credit is that you only have to use it when you want to use it and only pay (interest) on what you do use (besides the annual fee).

If your franchise can qualify, a bank line of credit is your best working capital option today.

According to the SBA’s Office of Advocacy;

How are franchises financed?

Existing employer franchises finance expansion using the same financial tools as other businesses, but startup franchises are more likely to use a commercial bank loan. (37.8 percent of franchises versus 23.1 percent of all employer startups used a bank loan.)”

And, it is not just banks that provide these working capital choices as some credit unions do as well as the Small Business Administration (SBA) who can guarantee these credit lines under their 7(a) loan program.

2) Alternative Business Lenders. Working capital is what the bulk of the alternative lenders do – all to provide your franchise with the operating capital it needs from inventory, materials, labor or whatever operating need is required.

There are essentially 3 types of alternative loans for working capital:

Factoring Receivables: Many times, businesses that invoice their customers for payment have to wait for those customers to pay – sometime 30 days, 60 days or more. But, those same businesses face their own capital challenges like having to pay employees, buy additional inventory or supplies or starting the next job or order – yet not have the money on hand to do so until those invoiced customers pay.

However, accounts receivable factoring companies will advance up to 90% of those outstanding invoice amounts so that your business can move forward. Then, when your customers do pay, you pay back the advance, keeping the remaining 10% – less a factoring fee.

Purchase Order Financing: Remember our “Any Time Tools and Machines” franchise that needed capital to get – say on loan or lease – machines to complete a huge $1 million dollar job but did not have any way of doing so.

Well, that franchise could have still signed that job order then taken that order to a purchase order financing company and received the needed $100,000 – the full 100% of what it needed to complete that job.

Then, when the job was completed and the franchise got paid, it could repay the financing company the $100,000 advance and a small financing fee and not have lost out on that highly profitable job.

Cash Advances: Let’s say that a retail franchise operation has already purchased the inventory it will sell over the upcoming summer season – it submitted and paid for these orders months ago to ensure that it would get its orders fulfilled by its suppliers in time.

However, a few days before the summer season kicks off – after the company has already spent its current allotment of working capital on its inventory but before it could sell any of those products for revenue – a new fade (for its market) becomes a national frenzy – forcing its competitions to scramble to get products for his new fade.

Yet, without additional working capital or a way to get it, this business will lose out on this fade and the profits that come with the high impulse and emotional consumer buying that follow these frenzies.

Now, this franchise does not have accounts receivables to factor nor does it have purchase orders on hand as its consumers do not make large advanced purchases.

But, since the business does earn revenue month after month – it can receive a cash advance against future sales – then use that advance to buy the new fade products.

Then, as it sells those products over the next few months, the financing company will simply take micro payments – usually daily – from those sales until the advance is paid in full – plus a small fee.

Here, the franchise could receive an advance against the amount of average monthly sales its earns via customer’s credit and debit card purchases (called Business or Merchant Cash Advances) or could receive an advance against its entire monthly revenue averages (called Bank Statement Loans or Revenue Based Loans) – essentially solving this franchises working capital problem in a matter of days.

3) Plow Back. Now, if your only option is to use outside financing for your business, then bank lines of credit or alternative financing are your best options.

However, you can – and should – manage your operations and your revenue in such a way that you can internally finance your own working capital requirements.

It simply works this way: Your franchise earns say $20,000 top line revenue per month. However, after paying direct costs as well as overhead expenses for salaries, marketing and general administration costs, it has net operating income (after taxes and interest) of say $7,000 – $7,000 that it would either use to pay down debt, pay back investors or simply take out of the company.

But, if you also know that your business needs an additional $5,000 per month to handle its future monthly working capital or operational capital needs – then why not hold back that amount from the $7,000 net income and plow it back into the business. Much cheaper to do it this way – using your own money – then to face the added expense of financing your business’s working capital needs.

Bottom line here is that if you can’t get a bank or credit union line of credit, alternative loans can easily fill your needs – they are quicker to process and fund – but they do come with higher interest and fees.

Conclusion

Location, location, location is the driving force that can make or break your franchise from a marketing stand point – putting your business in the path of potential customers. But, just because your have those customers patronizing your business, if you do not have the operating wherewithal to satisfy those customers – now and keeping them coming back – then your location, in the end, really mean nothing.

Thus, if you don’t want to waste your time and kill your franchise before it even has a chance to succeed, then ask yourself this question; “What are the three things I can do right now to ensure the long-term growth and success of my franchise?”

Then, from this article, you can find your answer – which is “working capital, working capital, working capital.”

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Is The Paris Accord Working?

The news today that the global warming situation has plateaued is great news but the earth is still over 1% warmer than was anticipated. While it is now stable the next move is to get it to drop substantially in the immediate future. If this does not happen the consequences could be catastrophic as weather patterns are already increasing in severity. This is having an effect on agriculture, sea levels, and security of homes, businesses, and governments.

The Antarctic ice is melting at a faster rate than expected while the Arctic is already so far affected that pathetic images are being shown on videos of starving bears caught on small icebergs unable to get back to land.

Such stories will soon be the norm as there is little chance of ice restoration anytime soon. From my studies in archaeology the Ice Age ended some 20,000 years ago and the way the earth is going there will not be another one likely for some time.

It’s too early, of course, to say how the Paris Accord is working but countries are doing their best to help it along. China is replacing coal-fired power stations with renewable energy as are many districts in other countries. In the Australian Capital Territory, where I live, the number of areas under solar panels and wind farms is extensive and growing. The government has promised to be 100% renewable by 220.

To its credit it is now building a light rail service to replace the buses and the trains will use the solar energy. Street lights and other things are also saving on power. Many homes have solar panels on their roof tops and all up the situation is in hand.

It seems that State Governments in the USA are also ignoring Trump’s expected withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and are likewise building their renewable systems. Other state governments in Australia are doing the same although the Federal Government favours coal.

As the world waits and most are taking the call seriously the question is whether it is all too late. Have we gone past the point of no return? That is something that only time will tell.

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8 Tips to Working From Home During the Pandemic

The Pandemic is causing stress, anxiety, depression, panic behavior, and many other assorted reactions. Remain calm, we will not run out of food, water, or other supplies. On top of all this, many are asked to work at home with their children being home from canceled schools for weeks. Now is the time to take a deep breath and follow a few tips to make it go quickly and stress free or at least less stress.

1. Get your exercise. Many states have closed the gyms and fitness centers, so take a walk or do an in home exercise. Whether you are a morning or evening person, plan your schedule accordingly. You probably still have some DVD’s sitting around that are useful. There are plenty of YouTube, apps and on demand shows that will get you a good work out. Many allow a 30 day free trial, which is perfect for this time period.

2. Take a shower in the morning. Bring refreshed and clean will give you the feeling and energy to do a complete day of work.

3. Get dressed as if you are going to work or in something other than pajamas. This too will give you the feeling and energy you will need for the day.

4. If you are home with the kids, make sure they have some thing to do. There are hundreds of computer apps out there with learning and hopefully your school is providing them with learning lessons and homework to complete. Give them 15 min breaks every hour or so. If possible, send them into the yard to run around and burn off some of that energy.

5. Explain the situation as best and as stress free as possible. It does no good to put them in a worry or stress state. Tell them you will be working from home and need times of quiet to get your work complete. If you are to be on a phone or video call, make sure they know that and set a timer as to when they can speak with you again.

6. Eat lunch with them and have fun conversations so they still feel connected and not worried or stressed.

7. When your work is complete, be present and give them your undivided attention for a short time.

8. Plan your meals so that is not a stress factor for you. Many restaurants are still delivering or allowing take out, so still take advantage of it when you can.

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How to Succeed Working From Home As a Freelancer or Virtual Assistant

Most successful business people start out with a vision. But if you spend your days toiling for a wage you are working to fulfil somebody else’s vision, rather than pursuing your own dream. Are you happy with that? Because it doesn’t have to be that way.

It is too simplistic to look at the world in terms of service providers and customers, or producers and consumers. In actual fact business needs services too. Few office managers could function without a personal assistant or a secretary, and the bigger the business becomes the greater is the dependence upon others to provide specialist skills which the company boss lacks either the time or the expertise to handle alone.

Role of a Virtual Assistant

This is where the freelancer or virtual assistant, working from home, is able to score. The list of services which an assistant company can provide to an enterprise can be as long as its payroll. Website design, provision of fresh content, administrative services, graphics, accountancy, market research for customer profiling – much of this can be and sometime has to be contracted out to specialist providers.

For somebody setting up in business as a freelancer the challenge to begin with is to get the message about what it is you have to offer out into the world, and this means having a web presence. With at least 85% of consumers using the Internet to source business (Local Consumer Review Survey, 2012) it is very important, indeed critical, that you can be found online.

These days building a presence on the web usually means having an array of platforms rather than depending solely upon a website. Create a Facebook page and be proactive in building its follower base, and remember to tweet regularly too so nobody can forget you are there (it works for the President, after all!).

Find a Niche and Build Your Blog

For the benefit of those who lack the time or the energy to read, a YouTube channel can also be an invaluable resource. A lot of information can be crammed into a five-minute talk and if it is interesting and there is a hint of more to come, you will build up a portfolio of loyal followers which in turn will raise your profile.

Finally, ensure that you have a blog with regularly updated content. Make sure it looks professional and reflects well upon you, as both you and the service you provide will be judged on it. Find a niche, populate it frequently with new, fresh and exciting material to keep your visitors coming back for more.

Setting yourself up in business as a virtual office assistant delivers the best of both worlds – good, reliable work without the burden of having to clock in every morning and be answerable to someone else. If you have a laptop, a phone, a printer and a bit of imagination working from home has never been so easy.

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10 Tips on Etiquette in the Co-Working Office

For the lone freelancer or the newly launched startup, co-working is the ideal office space solution. Flexible, sociable, affordable and convenient; it provides the facilities typically offered in a serviced office – but with the emphasis on sharing.

However, in any situation where strangers are brought together, incompatibilities can and do occur. Whether they be differences of opinion, pet peeves, or even ruffled feathers. Co-working comes with its own conventions and occasionally, written rules of engagement.

Fret not! We’ve gathered a list of dos and don’ts to avoid becoming the talk of your co-working space – for all the wrong reasons.

1. Be friendly…

It might seem insignificant, but greeting your neighbours with a smile can do wonders to enhance your shared working environment. Not only are happier work environments more productive, making an effort to interact with your fellow co-workers may earn you some valuable networking contacts – or a meet cute.

… but, not too friendly

Know when to reel it in. Even if you and your new BFF are getting on like a house on fire, be aware that you are part of an open, shared workspace. Sociability is of course key to co-working, so there’s no need to resort to passing notes. However shared office spaces are not the place for garrulous conversations.

2. Hanging on the telephone

A fully equipped co-working office will likely have a dedicated area or soundproof booths for phone calls. Even if their use isn’t mandatory, utilise them anyway. Tempting as it may be to take a call at your desk, even a quick one, consider your co-workers. They have more important things to be concerned with than your dinner plans. Respect the shared space and, where possible, take all calls away from the workstations.

3. Turn it down from eleven

Ambient office noise can vary from workplace to workplace and the same applies to co-working spaces. Foot traffic, banging doors, even blaring earphones. What might be considered tolerable in one building may be unacceptable in another. Don’t be that guy. Adhere to the noise policy of your service provider and keep your own ears free of complaints.

4. Keep Britain tidy

Show consideration for the co-working space by keeping your coffee cups, food wrappers and other waste to a minimum. Seriously, no one wants to sit next to a rubbish dump. Organising your desk effectively will both reduce the risk of upsetting your neighbours, and help improve your own productivity.

5. Food for thought

To help maintain your energy levels, most co-working sites provide a coffee bar or snack counter. Many offices also come equipped with self-service kitchens and dining areas. Make sure to follow the house rules when it comes to heating and eating. It’s unlikely anyone else will appreciate your leftover tuna bake as much as you. Least of all whoever’s next in the queue for the microwave.

6. Under my roof

Every co-working provider will have a list of guidelines on what they consider appropriate use of the shared office space. Some places may be fine with children or pets being brought to work. Others may not permit them to safeguard the comfort of their clients. Too much cute can indeed be a distraction.

7. Your plus one

All co-working sites provide facilities for meeting with clients or external collaborators on site. Even a break-out area may be offered as an appropriate spot for an informal meeting. However, few will appreciate you signing your mate in to take advantage of the free coffee refills.

Co-working may have a reputation for being sociable and flexible, but it is still a site for professionals. In general, if your visitor is not work related, don’t invite them in.

8. Strike a pose

Many co-working spaces feature trendy offices and eclectic decoration. Some are so far removed from the traditional office, they feel like a home from home – but they aren’t! Unlike the corporate environments of the suited and booted, co-working generally encourages casual to smart casual wear. However, no space is so informal you can turn up in pyjamas. Be discerning about your wardrobe and leave the fluffy slippers under your bed.

9. Live and let… others use the facilities

Whether it’s the networked printer or a meeting room, remember you are sharing them with a myriad of other co-workers. Selfishly commandeering the amenities is a fast-track way to the receiving end of scowls and complaints. Avoid over-booking the conference rooms. Similarly, if you no longer need a reservation, cancel it. There could well be someone else desperate to grab that spot.

10. Last orders

While some co-working spaces are 24 hours, the vast majority aren’t. On entering a new shared workspace, make sure to note their closing time and wrap your work day up at least a few minutes before then. The host will politely remind you to leave if it comes to it, but they shouldn’t have to. Overstaying your welcome always ends up awkward.

Now that our list has you ready to join the world of shared workspaces, remember community is at the heart of successful co-working. Be considerate of others and enjoy being part of a working collective.

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How To Start a Wood Working Business From Your Garage

Starting a woodworking business from your home could be an excellent way to earn an income. With right business plan and woodworking training system you could reach your financial goals with little or no woodworking skills.

As we all know financial times are tough in many areas of Canada and The USA. Their seems to be no stability working for various companies. Even if you employed the income you receive is poor. Consider starting a home based business that will create products that you can sell with very little effort. This home based business will be fun and easy to start.

Consider starting a business constructing and selling wooden furniture. Many people are often interested in purchasing wooden furniture for their homes. Good quality wooden furniture always has a way of being sold. Home owners will pay top money for this type of furnishing. This type of furnishing looks good and gives the customer a product that indicates that their money was well spent.

With proper business plan and correct construction method you might even be able to make money in your spare time building furniture and related products.

Of course you will need a place to work such as your garage. You could even construct a shed in your backyard to start your woodworking business. Constructing a shed, made of wood, could be a way of starting your woodworking business. After successfully building a shed in your backyard you could have people paying you to build a shed in their backyard.

There are a number of resources that will give you step-by-step instructions with regards to construction of various woodworking projects including numerous backyard shed plans. Types of sheds to consider are the pent roof shed and clerestory style shed.

The pent roof style shed is simple to build. It is a mono roof shed, which consists of a one piece roof sloping in one direction. It can be attached to your house or barn, giving it increased structural strength

The clerestory style shed ideal for use a place to work. The roof of this shed consists of row of windows which allows natural light to beam inside of the structure. Because of the roof its structure will mor complicated to build when compare with the pent roof style shed. However designs can be found on the internet that will help the construction process less problematic.

This type of business will require that you purchase various tools if you do not already own them. Their a number hardware stores likely in your area that will help you purchasing the tools needed in starting your woodworking business. You will also likely be able to purchase used woodworking tools in good working order.

Best Regards

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The 4 Step System For Working At Home and Making $300 Per Day Online

In this article I will show you a proven 3 step system for working at home. You’ll see exactly how average people are making $100,000 per year online working from their own home.

Let’s get started!

Step 1.) Choose an affiliate program. This is a critical step. Make sure that the affiliate program you choose pays on a monthly recurring basis. This will ensure that you make the most money possible.

The niche you choose should have a hungry audience of buyers. These people will be highly motivated to purchase products within the market you have chosen to start your home business around.

I look for affiliate programs that pay 50% or more commission per sale I refer. This will be the best way to succeed with a work at home business model. I suggest you do the same.

You can find great products to promote in the “make money online” niche topic on WarriorPlus, ClickBank and Maxbounty affiliate networks.

Step 2.) Create an automated marketing system or use one prepared for you. You wouldn’t want to go door to door trying to sell your products would you?

No way! That’s why you need your own marketing system in place to sell the information products on your behalf. This system will have sales materials in place to sell your affiliate products. Some networks will give you “Don for you” solutions.

Step 3.) Drive traffic to your automated marketing system. When your system is complete, you can send clicks or website visitors to your sales funnel system. This will ensure that you make a positive return on investment.

This is especially important if you are using paid marketing strategies like Facebook Ads, Google Ads, Bing Ads or Media Buys.

Step 4.) Follow-up with your new leads to close as many sales as possible. Write a follow-up email marketing campaign that is around 14 days. So each new subscriber will get a new email from you every single day.

This ensures that you can get them to purchase your affiliate courses over time. Not everyone will buy a product the first time they see it. So it’s important to have this in place.

As you can see, the steps are pretty straight forward. But the key to your success at working from home is to have all these things in place so you don’t have to worry about results not being profitable. Cheers to your future success my friend!

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Woodworking With Mahogany – Tips When Working With the Revered Species of Wood

Mahogany is known greatly as one of the most beautiful species of wood. You don’t need to be an expert in building furniture to appreciate its beauty because even the plainest boards look stunning with their deep and coppery-red shade. Since the 1500s, people have found that mahogany wood has a lot of qualities which are more than suitable for fine furniture making. If you’ll be woodworking with mahogany, you should know a couple of things about this type of wood.

Types of Mahogany

When making your mahogany project, know that there are four Latin American species which fall under the genus Swietenia. You have the bigleaf mahogany, Caribbean mahogany, Venezuelan mahogany and the Honduran Mahogany. If you’re selecting on the type you should be using, you’ll find that most experts will greatly recommend the bigleaf because the dub it as the “real” mahogany. Mahogany can also go by the names caoba or acajou and has a higher value for being a prized type of wood.

Benefits of Using Mahogany

If you’re looking for a wood that’s not just beautiful, but is also fairly easy to work with, you won’t regret using mahogany for projects. Most woodworkers say that mahogany’s easy to handle whether you’re using hand or power tools. Unlike some types of hardwoods, mahogany easily takes glue, screws, and nails. When it comes to stains, mahogany takes it excellently and will give you a beautiful high-gloss finish. When woodworking with mahogany heartwood, you’d be impressed on how strong and durable it will be and you may use it for veneers, boat decks, and just about anything.

Buying Mahogany

When buying your lumber check out the wood’s grade rating from the National Hardwood Lumber Association and definitely ask for Selects, FAS, or FAS 1-face grades because these are top notch indicators of quality for hardwoods.

You should also inspect the price range and always ask the opinion from hardwood dealers. Go to different stores and dealers to compare price differences between the grade ratings. It will help you decide whether the highest grade of mahogany is really needed for the project you’re working on as it can also be more expensive.

Age does matter so ask how it will impact your project. Compare the shades – you’ll find either red to light pink or even yellow if it’s freshly cut. If you want older varieties, look for those which are dark red to brown.

Proper Sanding and Finishing Mahogany

Remember that when woodworking with mahogany, gradual sanding is key. Start with a 120-grid and make a decision whether you’d like to have a very smooth finish and close up the pores on your wood’s grain. If you’ll use a wood filler, always read the instructions when mixing with a paint thinner. Fillers usually dry completely for at least 24 hours before you can start sanding again using a 150-grit sandpaper.

Once you’re done sanding, use a staining brush or even an ordinary cotton cloth to apply your stain – be sure to wipe of the excess. Finally, apply a protective coat such as trung oil, shellac, or polyurethane to complete your masterpiece.

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5 Secrets for Successfully Working From Home

So how is working at home going for you?

Have you found a way to keep the dog from barking? How about the kids? And what about the gardener that blows every Tuesday?

Oh, and don’t forget to actually work! You remember, the prospecting calls you need to make, the demos you need to book, and the prospects you’re supposed to be following up with.

If you’re new to working from a home office, or if you don’t have a proper home office set up yet, then you know how challenging it can be to get into a rhythm, to remain productive, and to keep your attitude up.

I’ve had a home office for over 20 years and let me tell you-it took some getting used to at first. Luckily for you, I’ve boiled down the 5 most important routines I developed and still use to make me very productive working from home.

I encourage you to adapt and incorporate these secrets into your home routine as well:

Secret Number One: Establish a Daily Goal for Activity.

Just remember what’s crucially important in all of sales: You can’t write any business if you don’t have prospects and clients to pitch to.

And that means you have to put in the activity-the calls, the follow ups, the emails, etc., to set those demos/presentations.

And that means you need to have a daily goal for activity. Ask yourself:

a. How many dials do you need to make each and every day?

b. What is your contact rate goal-you know, the number of actual prospects you’re focused on connecting with in a day?

c. How many demos/presentations are you focused on getting in a day? In a week?

d. And how many demos are you focused on giving each day/week/month?

Not only do I have a daily goal, but I track my calls/contacts/demos each day. You should, too.

Secret Number Two: Make Your Prospecting Calls Early in the Day.

Let’s face it: Cold calling is hard. It’s easy to put off. Many things distract us when we’re in the office, but now there are a hundred more things at home that steal our focus.

That’s why I learned early on that if I get the hardest thing out of the way first, then each day will be successful no matter what.

But the key is to make this your number one priority before you move on to any other “non-essential” duties. By committing to the hardest-and most important-activity first, you’ll not only set up the demos and closes, but you’ll feel better about yourself as well.

Secret Number Three: Do Non-Essentials tasks at the End of Your Day.

I’ve got news for you: Sending that email after you get off the phone with a prospect isn’t an essential activity. They can wait a few hours…

Nothing steals your time or robs you of your momentum more than hanging up the phone with an interested prospect and then breaking your rhythm by stopping to send out an email to them.

Instead, jump back on the phone and keep dialing! Reach your goal first, and then you can comfortably (and without guilt) take time to send your emails.

The key is rhythm and momentum. Get it. Keep it. Power through.

Secret Number Four: Develop a Food Routine.

I know this might sound strange but planning what-and when-you’re going to eat is very important.

Now that you’re home, do you ever find yourself hanging out in your own kitchen or browsing your pantry?

And how about coffee or tea? Have you ever found yourself too caffeinated to sit at your desk?

Frequent breaks for snacks-especially bad ones to reward yourself after a good call before you send that email (see Secret Number Three above), also steal momentum and can turn into hour long, unplanned breaks.

Plus, when you’re at home, it’s easy to suddenly turn into a gourmet chef (as in: this is going to take the afternoon?).

Pack your lunch and snacks ahead of time, don’t binge the coffee, and follow your normal “work” meal routine.

Secret Number Five: Plan Your Day the Night Before.

Not planning your workday, the afternoon or night before is one of the biggest mistakes you can make-whether you work from home or in the office.

Before you call it a day, you need to gather and organize your leads; plan all your calls-your clients and/or prospects-know when your closes are and schedule prospecting calls up to and immediately after each one.

If you don’t do this, it’s easy to show up at your desk in the morning and watch that morning evaporate in a flurry of activity that results in-well, no results.

In conclusion: You can work at home successfully and productively, but you first must establish and stick to routines that support that.

Follow the five secrets above, and you’ll be well on your way to outperforming your competition.

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