Family Finances

January is Financial Wellness Month!  Personally I think it’s important to always have a good relationship with money and to make sure that you’ve got enough money coming in each month.  As a family, it’s even more important to be smart and knowledgeable about your money because you’re not just caring for you, you’ve got others to care for too.  So as a family what are some important things to do with finances?

1-don’t spend more than you can comfortably pay back (don’t overspend if at all possible though)

2-look for ways to make more money

3-teach your kids how to take care of their money (just giving them an allowance isn’t enough)

4-have a birthday and holiday fund (putting money in here all year long will make you less likely to cry in January)

5-have a rainy day jar or fund (also for injuries and emergencies)

6-have a date night jar or fund (yes, I’m serious)

Some other things you should take into consideration:

-have a budget and stick to it

-have a plan for retirement (I know I’m not going to get any money from the government if I retire!)

-put some money in savings accounts each month (if you can this is a great way to make your money work harder for you)

These are just a few of the things that it’s smart to do both as a family and as an individual.  What tips do you have about money?

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Business Budget

January is financial wellness month!  I’m thankful that time has been set aside at the beginning of the year for us to all get our finances in order.  It’s a shame that so many people lose track by December, but 2012 could be the year that you choose to make it through December with your finances still in line.  If you would like to try this, here are a couple of pointers to keep your business on track this year:

1-know what you spend.
If you aren’t aware of what you’re spending (other than it’s a lot) you’re at risk for not only bankrupting your company but not having money when you do need it.  Set up a spreadsheet that shows exactly (or approximately) what your bills are each month.  Things like water and electricity may change a little, but most bills should be predictable.  Also having a program to manage all your bills and income is helpful too.

2-have a budget.
Even if it’s a very rough budget, say to the thousand each month, you will know better if you have wiggle room when you’re looking at a marketing campaign, new staff member or other purchase.  Make sure that all your team members know and agree to the budget.

3-live with that budget.
Unless your income is increasing exponentially each month you really have to agree to work within that budget.  If you have a purchase that won’t fit in the budget that month, plan for the next 2-3 months to purchase it.  Only look for special financing if it will really help you and not end up making you pay twice as much later.

4-pay yourself.
I know that when you’re getting started in the business it’s hard to pay yourself, but it’s essential.  Even if you’re paying yourself $1 per month, at least pay yourself some salary.  My suggestion would actually be to pay yourself more and spend less as you get started so you’re less at risk if you don’t make it.  There are lots of helpful tools online to help you get started for little or no cost.

5-invest in yourself.
The business will only grow as much as you grow. If you’re not growing neither will the business.  Part of that budget each month should allow for either time off to take in some free educational opportunities or finances invested in taking seminars to learn more.

6-pay off your debts.
Your first goal in business is to help people.  Your second goal is to make money.  Your third goal should be to be debt free.

7-always look for ways to make more money.
This may sound silly, but some businesses just stick with what they’ve got and don’t look for other ways to make money.  At the very least each year you should evaluate your financial state and your business and see if there are other ways you can be helping people and earn more money.

What do you do to stay money-wise in your business?

Organize your Inbox

This week I did something I haven’t done in a long time: organize one of my email inboxes.  You know what?  When I got done it felt really good!  I only had like 10 emails in there that still had to be attended to and everything else was filed away or “thrown out”.  Have you done this lately or are you someone who has thousands of messages in your inbox?  Before you get distracted by the guilt, let’s talk about fixing it.

First, I think we need to establish what an inbox is really for: it’s where your mail comes to be dealt with.  It’s not where it’s supposed to stay forever.

Second, you need to set up “folders” that work for you.  I don’t know any email program that doesn’t allow you to create folders for your emails.  What folders should you have?  I think you have to think both short term and long term.   I have a couple folders I visit on a regular basis and have created for that purpose, but I have other folders that I use to store important or interesting emails for long term needs.  A good label is key!

Third, you have to use those folders effectively.  The point of having the folders is to use them to sort and store your email.  You can get complicated and set up “rules” to have emails miss your inbox all together and go to specific folders, but I find that unless they’re emails I don’t need to read on a regular basis or don’t want showing up in my inbox, it’s just better to have them go to my inbox.

If you’re following along and read those emails and then put them where they go, being realistic about how many you keep, you’ll be able to keep your inbox at a manageable number, and you’ll actually be able to find and use those emails you have been keeping for a reason.

Business Connections

One of the things I love about being in business and running my own business is how “forced” I am to keep learning and seeing what others are doing in business. When I started my business a couple years ago I signed up for a ton of newsletters to see what people were doing and what they were learning and experiencing in their businesses.  Each week I still read a ton of newsletters and am excited to see the growth and transformations that have occurred in these businesses.

My point here is three fold:

1-as a business owner you need to know what’s going on in other businesses: not for reasons of competition but so that you know if you can support another business and to continue to be educated and grow personally and professionally.

2-we do repeat a lot of things.  I put my twist on leadership, you put yours on it, Darren Hardy shares his and John Maxwell has created a culture of leadership.  But each perspective shares different gems that may spark some inspiration in us in a different way.

3-There are thousands of great newsletters out there sharing lots of information that are really valuable, and as I’ve said one of the best ways to learn is from each other.  As a result I created a newsletter that I send out each week that highlights 10 or so newsletters or articles I think would benefit you and your business.  It sounds really simple and it is.  It’s nothing complicated but it highlights a few of the articles I think are worth reading each week.  It’s a chance for you not only to see what others are doing but be exposed to new companies and people.

If you’d like to sign up for this business growth newsletter, you can visit here (it’s easy to subscribe and unsubscribe if you don’t like it, and it’s free!).

Who has inspired you in your business journey?  Share your mentors and inspirations below.

January Relationship Joy

It’s January!  Aren’t you excited?  One of the great things about January is that it’s a month that doesn’t have a lot going on, which means it’s the perfect time for you to go on a date (or two) with your partner.  Here are a couple of ideas to get you started.

1-book a hotel room.  Maybe you can’t stay over night because you can’t find anyone to watch the kids overnight, but many hotels have special discounts in January because few people are traveling after the holidays of December, which would make it worth your time to look into booking a room for 6 hours away and completely alone with your partner.

2-something fun.  Don’t do what you always do with your partner, try something new!  Visit a train show, go snow tubing, go to the zoo, take a sleigh ride, take dancing lessons, volunteer together at an animal shelter, or take cooking classes.

3-get coffee or a drink.  Yes, it’s simple, and it’s not too expensive but it means you get time to talk.  If you aren’t making time to talk with your partner about life, you’re most likely stressing your relationship.

Set aside at least one day or night this month to take a time out with your partner.  What will you do on your January date night?

2012 Business Focus: Leadership

As we get into this year I’ve made a decision that I think is pretty important: I’m going to be talking a lot about leadership.  All of my business posts on Twitter will be about leadership.  I’ve dedicated a whole month, August, to talking about leadership.   And as has been in the past, I’ll devote one post each month on this blog to leadership.

Why?

Because as many leaders have pointed out, there’s a serious need for good leadership in the business world, and the world at large.  Yes, there are a few good leaders left, and I’ll highlight one each month on Twitter, but the world can’t survive with only a handful of leaders.  We each need to bear some of the burden to transform the world into a place that’s led by quality people, people of substance, honest people, visionary people and people who are doing right by other people.

If you own a business you’re automatically given a position of leadership.  Are you being a good leader? Are you leading your clients with the qualities of a good leader?  Are you learning more and growing daily to become a better leader?  And are you taking responsibility for your mistakes and learning from them?  Your results will show what kind of a leader you are.

What’s your goal as a leader for 2012?

10 Steps to a Better Day

We are always saying that we are out of time, late or don’t have time to do something.  And while it may seem like that, the truth is you have all the time in the world.  However, we often let time get away from us and don’t use it to the fullest potential.

So I’ve come up with a list of 10 things to do each day, and by just putting at least 5 minutes every day into each of the ten items, less than an hour total, your life will have more happiness, be better structured, you will feel less stressed, and you will find that you have time for all you want to do.

You time
First and foremost you have to stop and take time for you.  If you don’t stop for at least five minutes a day and think about yourself, do something nice for yourself.

Grow time
Learn something new everyday.  Maybe you learn something from a snapple cap, newsletter you’ve subscribed to or inspirational book you’re reading.

Work time
A life without purpose and action is not a life at all.  Each day do some activities that are productive and helpful to others.

Love time
A life without love is a life wasted.  Choose one person to love each day, and always look for others who need a little love too!

Planning time
Taking 5 minutes to plan out your day or communicate with your family what’s going on will make everyone’s day easier.

Connection time
Connect each day with yourself, with your spiritual beliefs, with your body, with those in your life.  Taking time to recognize the relationships in your life is an important step to living a more aware life.

Contribution time
Do something to make a positive difference in someone’s life every day.  Maybe it’s an encouraging Tweet or Facebook post, maybe it’s a few coins in the Barista’s jar, maybe it’s a hand for the overworked secretary.

Clean up time
Tidy up your desk, put away the dishes, sweep up, or put all the clothes in the laundry.  You’ll feel better in the morning if you do so.

Pause time
Stop to catch your breath and admire the world around you.  You never know what you’ll see.

Health time
Eat right, exercise or drink a glass of water every day, if not a couple times a day.

These 10 items are designed to help you be strong, capable, flexible, passionate, less stressed and healthy.  There are countless ways to implement each of the ten steps, some which will be suggested, and some which you will realize you are already doing in your life.  These steps are actually not about adding 10 more things to your day, but rather making you more aware of what you do and helping you be conscious about living your life.  For when you are conscious and aware, you have the ability to make choices about what you do or don’t do.

Which ones do you need to work more on?

Business Success 2011-2012

2012 has arrived!  There’s a lot that has happened in business over the past 12 months.  I hope that 2011 has been a year that has taught you great lessons and brought you many successes.  I’m so thankful for the lessons that 2011 has taught me and I’m looking forward to putting what I’ve learned into action in 2012.  So to wrap up last year I’ve got some questions that will help you get ready to make 2012 a successful year:

General Business & Life:

~what were 10 big successes in 2011?

~what was your biggest lesson in 2011?

~what was your biggest mistake in 2011 (and what did you learn)?

~what will you do different?

~what’s your vision for 2012 and beyond?

Marketing:

~does your Facebook page accomplish your goals?

~have you tried Twitter for your business?

~does your website piss off/frustrate/scare off your potential clients?

Business Services:

~do your current products/services actually help people?

~are they things that people want (and need) to buy?

~what could you be providing that would be of service to your clients?

I’d love to hear your answers to any of these questions.  Let’s work together to make 2012 a great year for us all!