If you’re determined to save money throughout 2013, you might have already switched to a low interest credit card, or opted for a cheaper phone tariff, but have you thought about lowering your utility costs? With winter in full swing, your household bills can go through the roof if you’re not careful, so do all you can to bring your outgoings down.
Make use of your heating controls
During the cold spell, it can be tempting to turn the heating up high. While it’s good to have a warm, cosy environment, there’s no need to heat your house all day – particularly if you’re not at home. To avoid high charges, programme your system to come on at specific intervals and ensure everything is switched off when the house is empty. This will keep your costs under control and stop you from using energy unnecessarily. What’s more, try lowering the temperature overnight and throw an extra duvet on your bed to help you sleep.
Insulate your home
If you’re looking to make a few home improvements, wall insulation might be the way to go. Of course, you’ll have to pay to have it installed, but it could save you hundreds of dollars a year. Cavity and solid walls are treated slightly differently, but they can both be sealed to prevent warm air from escaping to the outside world. If you already have insulation, or can’t afford it right now, simple draught-proofing techniques can also make a big difference. Gaps around windows, doors, electrical fittings and pipework will all let cold winds in, so seal them up and make your house fit for winter.
Use less water
As the wind howls and the snow falls, a hot bath can be truly satisfying. Nevertheless, using too much water can increase your expenses, so it’s worth hopping in the shower instead. This small lifestyle change could make a big difference to your bank balance and leave you with more money at the end of the month. Other water-saving tips include washing your clothes by hand, filling the dishwasher to the max before turning it on and fixing all leaking taps as soon as possible. If you think you’re being charged too much for your daily consumption, research prices online and try to negotiate a deal with your utility provider.
Lag your water pipes
Many people spend a fortune on DIY andapply for a credit card to cover the costs. Full-scale repairs can cost money, but simple tasks like lagging your water pipes don’t have to be expensive. Insulating materials such as foam tubes are cheap to buy and are available from most well-stocked home stores. They slip nicely onto a wide range of pipes and prevent them from bursting when the weather takes a turn for the worse. They also keep hot water warmer for longer, meaning it won’t take as much energy to keep them toasty – saving you money!
Penny-pinching and reducing your bills is easier than you might think, so why not give it a go?
As a young entrepreneur, I wanted to offer a few tops for new business owners. I believe that there are far too few resources directly addressing nonacademic trials and tribulations that new business owners face along their journey. Whenever I talk to readers here looking to get into starting their own cleaning business, I encourage new up-and-coming business owners to establish a relationship with someone who’s a little more seasoned, for their insight and nonacademic eduction that will provide a foundation for you – the new business owners.
Even though I haven’t been in business for myself a very long time (only 4 years), I have learned a lot in a very short period of time. With that, here are my ten tips for new business owners that I wish someone had given me when I first launched my cleaning business venture.
1. Act like a start-up.
Don’t worry about the fancy offices, fast cars, and expense accounts – you’re still a start-up at the end of the day. Your wallet is your company’s pulse and life-blood. Being frugal will get you much further than trying to pretend to be a big player. Watch every dollar, check your expenses, compare prices, maintain a low over head and you’ll be around for many years to come.
2. Nobody will give you the dollars.
Nobody owes you any favors, your bank included. Just because you’ve been banking with them for centuries, doesn’t mean that they’ll be nice enough to give your business any money. You’re unproven and still a huge liability. If you need a lot of cash to start up, go back to the drawing board and find the beginning – not the end. Simplify your idea until its viable enough that you don’t need large sums of cash to get the ball rolling.
3. Be straight up.
Don’t talk the talk unless you can walk the walk. Impress with action not conversation. Endorse your business in an enthusiastic way, rather than a tacky way. Exaggeration will only get you so far.
Focus on your goals. Many new business owners jump around too much at every opportunity that they come across. Opportunities can sometimes be wolves in sheep’s clothing. Avoid juggling multiple ventures, because it will only spread you thin and limit your productivity and effectiveness. It’s much better to do one thing really well, then 10 things half-ass.
5. Learn under fire.
No business book or business plan can predict the future of your business. There is no such thing as a perfect plan. Business and Marketing plans are just guides to keep you focused. Much more happens outside of them. I believe in creating a plan and putting some thought into it, but not spending months trying to prepare the plan. Execution is key, and a much better teacher than any business or marketing plan.
6. Don’t be a know-it-all.
Nobody likes a know-it-all, especially those who pretend to know-it-all, yet only know very little. It’s exhausting, and a turn off at the same time. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and surround yourself with those who will nurture you to become a better business person.
7. Always be ready to pitch.
Every encounter is an opportunity, but you have to be ready for that opportunity. Always be ready to pitch your business, whether it’s to a potential customer or an investor. State your mission, service and goals in a straight to the point manner – 30 seconds or less I say.
8. Keep Healthy.
Most new business owners forget that entrepreneurship is not a 9-5 job, but rather it’s a lifestyle. Prioritize first and foremost things that are important to you. Working to a point of exhaustion will burn you out and make your less productive. Never forget to make time for yourself.
New businesses are popping up everywhere in your neighborhood. Chances are you’ll find plenty, from small shops to restaurants and even cleaning businesses. According to Industry Canada, between 2002 and 2008, and average of 100,000 were launched each year. That’s almost 1 million businesses launched during that eight year period. But there’s a bad part: after five years in business most of them disappear. Only half of small and medium-sized businesses make it to their fifth birthday, and about 15% don’t even make it through a full year.
Even though I’ve been in business for nearly five years now, I can say that most things related to my cleaning business come second nature. However, that wasn’t always the case, especially in the very early going when I just started out. I made many mistakes along the way and continue to learn my lessons even today. Part of the growing process for any small business owner is the ability to recognize their mistakes and hopefully learn from them along the way.
Looking back now I’ve made my fair share of mistakes and wasted a lot of money in the process. For instance, I mixed my personal and business spending from my cleaning business’s account. I also spent some money stupidly on newspaper ads, only to realize that they were very ineffective for my type of business and who I was going after. Needless to say, I wasn’t perfect. I learned from it all, and more importantly recognized that in order to have success there needs to be failure along the way.
So here are a few reasons why I think small cleaning businesses fail, and how you can avoid becoming part of the failure figure.
Mixing Personal and Business Spending
Almost every entrepreneur overestimates their ability to generate revenue, or underestimates what it’ll take” to start making money Eventually once the money does start rolling in, many result in spending their hard earnings by the inability to separate personal and business spending. When a business is started, there’s an early period where you’re just digging a pit and throwing money into it, and making money could take longer than expected. Some firms, however, aren’t prepared for revenue delays and simply run out of time and money. So, they start pouring in their own money in order to sustain the business, then revenue starts coming around, and then they take the revenue away from the business in order to return the money that was “borrowed” earlier from the personal account. In order for your company to sustain itself, you as the owner and mastermind behind your company need to get your hands dirty, do some of the cleaning or anything else for that matter. Because the more you’re capable of doing yourself, the more money will stay in your pocket, and the stronger your business will become over time.
Subbing Out The Work
The main idea behind a cleaning business is cleaning its self. If you don’t enjoy cleaning, you’re not going to succeed and your cleaning business will fail. Far too many people get a nice business account, but either make up a great excuse as to why they can’t do the cleaning them selves or simply don’t want to do any cleaning – so they sub the work out. Beginners need to understand the financial implications of subbing the work out. If you have only one or two accounts, and subbing the work out (or majority of it), you’re essentially taking out profit from the bottom line.
Hiring Others to Solicit New Business
Far too many people want to wave a magic wand and just get accounts by hiring someone else to do it for them. Beginners need to understand the financial implications of getting each account. I mean, at the end of the day you only want profitable accounts. Having just “any” account is pointless, you need profitable ones! Hiring someone else to do your cold calling essentially eliminates yourself out of the picture. You lose your ability to negotiate, add or subtract details and you rely on someone’s closing skills. So if they’re incapable of properly closing a potential deal, well that’s your loss.
So, rather than hiring someone to make calls for you, you should be soliciting for new business yourself. Most newbie business owners either hire someone on part-time basis or hire some appointment setting company that just calls around and in hopes of finding companies that wouldn’t mind having a competing cleaning company price cleaning their facility. The type of companies that say “yes” to appointment setters are just PRICE SHOPPERS. They are out for the lowest bid in many cases. Even if the business owner lands this type of account, the profit margin will be slim to none.
Little Value Offered
So you’ve started a new business nd you think it’s great. Even your cranky in-laws think it’s a winner. What could go wrong, right? For a number of reasons, entrepreneurs often have an inflated sense of their businesses value offering worth in the marketplace. If your new business doesn’t offer a solid value in return, why would anyone want to do business with you? They certainly can do business with someone else who’s far more established and brings a lot more credibility. If what you’re offering is only a little better, it’s not going to be enough to generate the traction that you need to keep your business sustainable in 2 or 3 years. Your cleaning service needs to be 10 times better than your competitor’s.
Spending money before you ever make any is a dangerous scenario that you should avoid. Rather invest your time and learn the process for yourself. Your success depends on it. I’ve been cleaning offices for nearly five years now, and I did it all mostly myself. Maybe my business could have been twice as bigger than it is now, but I chose to take the slow route, one that’s also more secure. All the accounts I have today I got myself or through a referral. I never spent a dime to have someone else solicit for me. I handed out flyers, attended group networking seminars, and cold called hundereds of businesses.The people who run into trouble outsource a lot, because they don’t take the time to learn the business themselves. Instead they willingly spend their personal money hiring others to the work that they can do..