“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness. ” – John Steinbeck
Is your Massachusetts small business prepared for the upcoming winter months? As colder weather arrives, look at our blog post with tips on how to keep your business running strong this winter and beyond. Here are just a few of the tips that we offered:
- Stay on top of snow removal and take precautions to avoid slip and fall accidents in areas where customers and employees walk.
- Prepare for flu season by stocking up on hand soap, sanitizer, and disinfectant. Encourage sick employees to stay home.
- Be available for your customers when they need holiday gifts. Offer gift wrapping, gift cards, and other incentives.
- Introduce your business to new customers by showing off your product at holiday fairs, trade shows, and other local winter events. Look for anything your customers might find interesting.
- When the weather outside is frightful, stay home and focus on your business’s Social Media presence! Create an account or schedule posts for the accounts that already exist. You could also take the opportunity to get ahead on writing blogs!
And remember, at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency we want to help Boston business owners to work more on their business rather than in their business. If you need help with this, or if you need a business insurance quote, call our office at 617-298-0655.
Everyone wants to lead a successful life, but that means different things to different people. What does success mean to you? No matter the answer, you will likely need to have some money to get there – even if it’s just to pay for housing and food. In addition to having money to spend, you need to have some money saved… just in case there’s ever a low point in your life where you may need a financial boost.
Let’s face it, you never plan to have financial problems. Thankfully, there are two things that you can do to mitigate your risk. The first, as any Vargas and Vargas Insurance agent will tell you, is to have an up-to-date insurance portfolio. The right insurance can protect your home, your car, and even your health. The second thing that you can do is to have some money saved up for a ‘rainy day.’
Imagine this scenario: the family breadwinner loses their job. How long would you be able to pay your bills while you scrambled to replace the lost income? It is estimated that over 7 in 10 Americans would start to struggle after only one month. In fact, almost half of Americans would notice the deficit in two weeks!
It is recommended that a person have at least three months of expenses saved in case of an emergency. In fact, six months’ worth of expenses is preferred. This will ensure that you are ready for a financial emergency.
Let’s face it – what adult hasn’t ever had a large unforeseen expense (like a car repair or health-related expense)? Sure, most of these will be largely covered by your Massachusetts insurance policies, but you will need to have some money set aside to cover your plan’s deductible.
Consider this also: at what age would you like to retire? Are you saving at a pace that will get you to your goal in time? While it isn’t technically a savings account, a 401k or IRA is a crucial investment for your future and shouldn’t be put off. In fact, it is easy to see when the numbers are crunched that saving a little bit of money early in your life is worth much more than saving a lot later. This is because of the power of compound interest.
Do you feel like you don’t have enough money in your savings account? Here are a few tips to help you save more:
- Stop making impulse purchases. When you find something that you want, wait at least 24 hours before buying it – you may find that in that time the urge to have it passes and you can put the money into your savings account instead.
- Track your spending online. Whether you use your bank’s online portal or a safe third-party app, you should be keeping a close eye on your spending and identifying unnecessary expenditures so that similar purchases can be avoided in the future.
- Identify your biggest area of opportunity. If you want to start saving more of your money, you will need to stop some of your spending. One of the areas where people can easily save is on food and dining. You can save quite a bit of money by buying fresh ingredients and cooking at home rather than going out to eat often.
- Find free entertainment. Sure, you could spend money on going out, but there are plenty of ways to entertain yourself and your loved ones for free. Look for free events and activities in Boston, or just use something you’ve already bought.
- Revisit your recurring expenses. Look at your bank account – specifically at your recurring expenses. See if any can be cancelled or parred back. Even your insurance premiums could be lessened. Ask a Vargas and Vargas Insurance agent to find out more.
It’s important to remember, though, that you shouldn’t necessarily have a humongous savings account. While there’s clearly an advantage to having a certain amount of cash available in a liquid form, once you get above a certain amount of savings you should put that money to work for you in investments. If you want some advice on the right threshold for you and your family, or of you have some investing questions, just call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency. We can recommend a great financial advisor that will be able to help you.
Are you ready to get yourself on the road to financial readiness? Whether you’re starting from nothing or evaluating your changing financial needs, you’re taking a step in the right direction. If you know of any high school or college students who may not yet realize the importance of having a nest egg, please share this blog post with them. And if you want to ensure that your insurance protection is ready to step in if there is a problem, call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655 for a free insurance review.
As you know, I try to start every week with some words of wisdom:
I have been talking about doing what makes you money and getting someone else (or don’t do the other tasks) you can read the past messages here.
There is the law called Pareto’s Law, Pareto’s Law goes like this:
- 80% of effects come from 20% of causes
- 80% of your income comes from 20% of your efforts
- 80% of your headaches come from 20% of your clients and referral partners
Important to know so that you are doing the right 20%!
Pretty eye-opening, right?
So the question is, What is the exact 20% of your efforts that are producing the 80% of your income? If you don’t know the answer to that, don’t worry, it’s not your fault. Most of us have not heard about this before or taken the time to go step by step through this. So that’s what we are going to do right now.
Start putting your focus on the highest leverage activities to grow your business, while keeping these statistics in mind:
- We aren’t nearly as important as we think we are!
- Our clients just want what they want, and they want it on time, they don’t care who does it
So, if you’re delegating tasks to your team, which money-making ones should you keep for yourself? Here are some examples. In my business, there are the highest paying activities:
- Build referral partners that consistently feed your business
- Office presentations
- Meeting and deepening relationships with referral partners.
Next week, we will put together the last several week’s worth of messages to recap the Three Steps to Freedom, and how they will help you succeed.
Time for “Fun in the Sun” may be over, but that doesn’t mean that you can relax when it comes to your desire to make your business as great as it can be. Here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we always say one thing: business owners should always be on (rather than just in) their business. Thankfully, now is the perfect time to cozy up with a blanket and a warm drink and figure out your business’s path to success for the coming winter months.
Here are just a few winter small business tips that you can consider enacting:
Safety First for Employees and Customers
Winter brings its challenges, mostly in the forms of cold weather and snow and ice. When these are present in Massachusetts, make sure that your business does what it can to prevent employees and customers from feeling their effects.
In addition to turning on your heat to take the edge off the chill that could come in from outside, you should be proactive about snow and ice removal. This includes your parking area and walkways to and from the entrances of your building. In addition, place floor mats and wet floor signs in your entry ways to prevent slips and falls due to wet floors.
Avoid Flu Like the Plague
Winter weather is a sign of the emergence of flu season. Help your customers and employees stay healthy with the following tips:
- Bathrooms should be filled with antibacterial soap and lots of paper towels.
- Place hand sanitizer around the business, especially in break rooms and any place where money is handled.
- Have the business cleaned (by employees or professionals) regularly. Make sure that disinfectant is being applied liberally.
- If an employee does contract the flu, encourage them to stay home and get better, at least until they are no longer contagious – otherwise you will be dealing with an epidemic!
Take Advantage of the Holiday Gift Rush
Very soon, there will be lots of people in the area looking for gifts. If your business offers something worthy of gifting, make sure that you offer it. Stand out from the crowd by offering other perks like gift cards or free giftwrapping. Some businesses even go above and beyond in offering a gift to the customer with purchase. Ask yourself what you can do to stand apart from your competition. After all, people are going to be making purchases – why shouldn’t they be from your business?
Counterbalance Off-Season Slowdowns
Often, businesses see a slowdown in the winter. This is totally normal, especially for restaurants and retail locations where people are less likely to visit because of the cold weather and hazardous conditions. You can offset these slower periods in a variety of ways.
First and foremost, you should be setting aside some of your summer cashflows for wintertime slumps. In addition, you can lower your winter expenses by reducing the number of employees working at once (if possible). You can also call us at Vargas and Vargas Insurance to see if you could save money on your business insurance policy.
Bring Your Business to New Customers
Do you ever wonder what you can do to get your business new customers? The number one reason that people aren’t shopping at your business is because they haven’t heard of you! Combat this problem by getting your business ‘out there.’ This time of year, there are plenty of events that you could be attending to spread the word about who you are and what you do.
Depending on your business’s products, check out local Holiday fairs, wedding expos, trade shows, conferences, and more. There is bound to be some sort of event where you could set up a booth and increase the exposure for your business.
Enhance Your Social Media Presence
Winter blues got you in the mood to cuddle up on the couch with a hot beverage? Don’t worry, you can still help your business from the comfort of your own home. Winter is the perfect season to start up a Social Media presence for your business. Depending on what you do and your customer base, you should consider Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Once you get one (or more) of these Social Media pages up and running, set up an advertisement to people in your neighborhood. It’s a very cost-effective way to spread the word about your business to local customers.
Another thing that you can do is start a blog on your business’s website. This will work wonders in getting your business higher priority in Google searches – which is a key part of attracting younger clients to your business.
For more help as you work on your business, contact the small business insurance experts at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency. We can get your business a great Massachusetts commercial insurance policy that won’t overburden your bottom line. Call 617-298-0655 to talk to one of our business insurance agents today.
Let’s start the week with some words of wisdom:
We have been talking about getting freedom in your business, check out last week’s message here.
Step #3: Delegate tasks you feel you shouldn’t be doing
- Which tasks should you simply never touch—meaning you could eliminate them from your schedule entirely, making way for more important tasks?
- Which low-level tasks could be easily given to a virtual assistant as part-time work?
- Which tasks are you handling that could be taken over by a professional who knows exactly what he or she is doing? These are tasks where the potential harm outweighs the cost savings of doing them yourself.
- Which tasks are stopping you from really focusing on the strategic growth of your business?
Next week, working on the 20% of your business that brings in 80% of your income.
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein
Moving is stressful for everyone, but most of all for those people with children. If you’re moving in Boston with your family, we posted a blog last week with some tips on how to make the move as stress-free as possible:
- Tell your family as soon as you can about your move so that kids have time to adjust to the idea of moving.
- Keep a positive attitude about the move – kids will be upset if they can tell that you are uneasy about the upcoming change.
- Let your kids help with the move. Depending on their age and maturity, they could tour new homes with you and help pick things out to decorate their new space.
- Pack your child’s room last and let them pack unbreakable things to contribute. Keep a small box of favorite toys that will stay with you throughout the move.
- Help your child feel comfortable in their new neighborhood by meeting local kids and classmates before they start school.
Once you’re set to move into your new home, talk to Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency about getting a great home insurance policy for your new place. We will make sure that you and your family are protected. Also ask about how we can protect your car, business, and more.
As you know I try to start every week with some words of wisdom:
We have been talking about getting freedom in your business, check out last week’s message here.
Step #2: Eliminate tasks you don’t know how to do
Be honest with yourself. Don’t let superhero syndrome kick in here. I remember trying to design and develop my first blog on my own using a premium theme. I spent 8-10 weeks trying to figure it out, and in the end I was never happy with it. Why? Because it’s not what I do! I don’t have that type of mind or patience.
So I urge you to ask yourself:
- Are there tasks I am currently doing that could be completed faster AND better by someone else?
- Are there projects you’re handling that could be wrapped up in a better, more professional way?
- Are you trying to cut costs by dabbling far outside your areas of expertise?
- Is it even important for the success of your business?
Next week we will cover the third step toward getting Freedom in your business. Don’t miss it!