"Put It In Writing"

"Put it in writing" are words that I have learned to live by.  I am a Registered Nurse by trade and the first thing they teach you in Nursing 101 is to document everything that you do.  If you didn't chart it; you didn't do it, is what I was taught.  This is something that every business owner or potential business owner should remember.  Why should you put things in writing?

  • When it's in writing, it becomes binding- When you enter into a contract, this is something that will hold up in a court of law, whereas a verbal contract can be disputed.
  • For clarity- When things are put in writing, it makes everything clearer, so there is no misunderstanding.  It also gives you a chance to voice your concerns.
  • You can see it- When things are in writing, you have a visual.  You can look at it, read it and decide if any changes or corrections need to be made at that moment.
  • For Protection- Putting things in writing is a form of protection for you and all parties involved.  That is why companies have contracts in place.

One of the biggest mistakes I made when going into business for myself was bringing on a business partner without a binding contract.  This later came back to bite me where it hurt the most.  That was both a hurting and costly experience.  So remember, no matter if it's a friend, family member or stranger, for everything you do, "Put It In Writing."

Camouflage Anthology

I am so excited about the release of my "Camouflage" book.  The launch was awesome!  I first started my journey of writing in a book called "D.I.V.A.S."  It too was an anthology.  My chapter in the book was called "Camouflage."  My book is actually a spin off of my chapter.  My vision for the book is the reach as many women as possible to allow them to transform their past hurts into future prosperity.  The purpose of this anthology is to promote healing, by way of sharing our stories.  This is just the beginning of the Camouflage series.  Vol. 2 will release in early 2017.  My hope is to start a 501 c3 to assist women and young girls who have experienced abuse of some sort in their lives.  I am grateful to God for the vision that He has given me, as well as the ladies who took part in this book.  It takes a lot of courage to stand up and open your life to strangers.  I commend each and every woman who has and will go forward with the Camouflage journey.

Do You Know Your Business Partner?

Often times we make the mistake of going into business with someone just because we "think"  we know them, or that person is our friend.  That can be a costly mistake if you are not 100% sure you should be in business with this person or persons.  Before going into business partnership, you should always:

  • Make sure that you hire an attorney to put everything in writing so there are no misunderstandings later.  You don't want to have a verbal agreement that doesn't stand up later because there is no proof of it.
  • Be sure that you know the person and their character traits.  How are they with money? Do they have good customer service skills?  Are they trustworthy?
  • If there are any differences prior to signing the agreement, make sure they are ironed out before you sign any paperwork.  A partnership is like a marriage.  If you go into it with problems, they will only escalate.
  • Ask yourself if you really need a business partner, or if you just need to hire someone that can do the same job.  You can save yourself a whole lot of time, trouble and money by employing someone.  It's a lot easier to fire an employ than to rid yourself of a business partner.

So again, I ask, "Do you know your business partner?"  If you do, that's great!  Move forward with your business relationship, and go make lots of money together.  If not, you may want to take a second look at some resumes and employ someone else to do that job.

4 Common Mistakes Made By Small Business Start-Ups

 

 

    1.  Lack of Resources and Capital:

    Way too often small businesses fail before they have a starting chance due to of lack of resources.  Before starting a business, you should always create a budget.  This should be included in your business plan.  Not everyone will have enough money in their savings to support their business start-up; however, you may try to obtain a business loan with your local bank or credit union.  The Small Business Administration also offers small business loans with low interest rates + prime (www.sba.gov).

     

          2.  Lack of Knowledge:

    Just because you think a certain industry is glamorous doesn’t mean you have what it takes to be successful in that industry.  I think being an actress is way past “glam” but I know I don’t have the knowledge, nor the skill set to make it in that type of industry.  You don’t have to have an education, but you do have to be educated about your industry.  Do your research by reading related books, taking a couple of classes, or getting a mentor that’s already doing what you desire to do.  You will go a lot further in your business if you have the required knowledge.

     

         3.  Trying to do everything yourself:

    So many times small business owners wear too many hats.  If you are business owner, you can not also be the Marketing Specialist, Payroll Specialist, Human Resource Manager, Secretary, and the list goes on.  You must make sure that when you are creating your job descriptions you are not the person fulfilling all of them.  Find qualified individuals to work in the positions needed and you do what you know how to do.  You don’t want to be a “Jack of All Trades and Master of None.”  Find that one thing at which you are “GREAT” and stick with it. And let everyone else be great at what they do!

     

     

         4.  Improper Structure

    If you don’t know how to set up your business, find a professional who does.  Seek out proper council before setting up your business to make sure that it is done properly.  Make sure that you speak with a business or tax attorney and CPA to assist in deciding which business structure would be the best fit for you. 

     

     

    There are so many resources out there to assist with start-up businesses.  Community colleges are a great place to start, as they usually have small business centers that offer “FREE” resources and seminars. The Small Business Administration (www.sba.gov) is also a great place to go for assistance with business start-ups.  I’ve also found that SCORE (www.score.org) is very helpful.  SCORE is a non-profit organization that offers mentorship opportunities to business owners.  You are paired up with someone within the same industry to assist with your needs.  These are usually people who are retired and have chosen to become advisors to assist small business ownersThere is no reason that we all can’t be successful.

    Discipline and Balance

    Being in business for yourself requires discipline and balance.   So many times I've seen business owners start off strong and then run out of steam.  This is sometimes because there is no discipline and/or balance in their lives.  Entrepreneurs are sometimes so excited about their business ventures that they feel they have the strength of ten men, initially.  This can be short lived once fatigue sets in.  Here are a few reasons for disruption of discipline and balance:

    1.  You bite off more than you can chew:  Taking on multiple tasks and trying to do everything yourself to either save money, due to lack of capital will cause immediate burnout.

    2.  Not making a schedule for yourself or not sticking to the schedule you have made:  Schedules should be made in advance without deviation.  The reason for the schedule is so you can track your time and stay on course.

    3.  Taking on extra duties for others:  "No" is NOT a bad word.  You can not spread yourself too thin.  Others will utilize your time and not be respectful of it, if you are not clear in the beginning.

    4.  Not taking time out for yourself:  If you do not take time for yourself and your family, you will become resentful.  This is time that should be previously set aside for you.  You should also treat yourself to something nice every now and then, so you don't feel like you are working just to pay bills.

    Business owners that follow these tips are much happier and more successful than business owners who work on a consistent burnout.

    What's Holding You Back From Living Your Dream?

    I can remember a time as a child when I was extremely shy.  I was often teased by the other kids because I didn't talk much.  When I originally started my home care agency, I had the same problem.  I feared walking up to others and introducing myself.  I feared going to networking events, marketing my business and speaking in front of large crowds.  Well, I quickly learned that I was going to have to run my mouth, because I was running out of money.  I thought that I could just run paid commercials and ads and my business would flourish.  That was a hard lesson learned and a lot of wasted time and money.

    Many of us allow things such as fear, feeling inadequate, unqualified voices, and lack of resources to keep us from the things that we want the most.  Sometimes you just have to step out on faith and make things happen for yourself.  Here are some of the things I did to conquer my fears:

    1.  I did more research about my industry and my competitors.  This meant becoming familiar with case managers, social workers, discharge planners and other home care agencies.  Doing your research is vital in any industry.  If you don't have the knowledge needed, then you more than likely will not succeed.

    2.  I started going to networking events, but I would show up early.  I figured if I was one of the first people there it wouldn't feel so awkward because people then had to come up to me.  That actually worked!  After a while, I knew pretty much everyone who attended those events and they knew me.  I then felt comfortable being at various events, and it didn't matter when I arrived.

    3.  The last thing I did was to start attending a Toastmaster class to assist in getting over my fear of speaking in large crowds.  Before you knew it, I was hosting events of my own.

    There are always going to be things we are afraid of; however, we should never allow those things to keep us from our dreams.  Figure out what it is that is keeping you from what you want and find a way to conquer those fears.

    Know Your Worth

    Too many times I run into business owners who do awesome work; however, their rates are extremely low.  This is a mistake that a lot of business owners make for more than one reason.  Here are a few:  They are afraid that people won't be able to afford their services.  They are afraid their prices are too high.  They have not done their research for that market.  Or maybe they are trying to build up their clientele, so they just want to get the customer in the door.  We as business owners have to know our worth.  If you have a product or service that someone needs, they are going to pay for it.  Small businesses and start-ups are more prone to making these mistakes. 

    Here are a few issues you may run into when your prices are entirely too low.

    1.  It can become extremely difficult to maintain your overhead.

    2.  Sometimes customers have a hard time taking you seriously.

    3.  You have to charge enough to make a profit; otherwise, you just have an expensive hobby.

    4.  Your business will never grow if you don't have the revenue to assist in it's growth.

    5.  You will never be able to leave your full-time job.

    6.  You will find yourself with more customers than you have time or money.

    So the next time you are pitching your product or service, whether it's $10.00 or $10,000.00, say it with confidence and know that your time is worth it.  When you start taking yourself seriously, others will too.  Know your worth and stop giving discounts!

    You're Closer Than You Think

    Sometimes as business owners, especially as a start up, we are tempted to get discouraged and quit.  Often times we are right on the edge of our breakthrough when we give up.  I'm here to tell you today that you are closer than you think.

    Five years ago, I allowed a friend of to come into a business that I had already established.  One year after being in business with her, it just wasn't working out.  We both hired attorneys to fight for the company that I had built on my own.  You can image the frustration I felt.  I looked around and noticed that the people who were suffering the most were the clients who were caught in the middle.  I decided to contact my attorney to let him know that I had chosen to walk away.  And I did just that.  Crazy huh?  

    I decided that I was going to start over again.   After I had signed everything over to her, I went to the Department of Health and Human Services to submit a new application.  Image my surprise when I found out they were not accepting applications, and wouldn't be for the next three years!  I was devastated!  I called back the next day to speak with someone else and they gave me the same story.  What was I going to do now?  I got into my bed and under the covers and cried.  I stayed there for two weeks.  

    One day, I decided to go out and get the mail.  There was a letter in there from her attorney wanting me to sign a non-compete.  How dare she do this, after I brought her into my business.  I had just about given up, until I saw that letter.  It lit the fire under me that I needed.  I called back to the Department of Health and Human Services and got the same story.  I was just about to give up and then I started to pray.  I called again and told them my story.  The lady that was on the other end of the line told me not to sign any paperwork from the attorney, but to instead come in the following week for a survey.  When I went in for my survey that day, I was missing ten items from my policies.  She told me what they were and said that normally, they don't license anyone with missing items, but that she trusted  I would get them written and put in my binder.  She licensed me with an effective date that day.

    Over the next year, I built my company larger than it had ever been and continued to grow it.  I received many awards and was featured in several magazines, including "Forbes".  The irony in the whole thing is that my ex-business partner sold the company one year later and the person that bought it, handed it right back to me.  He just called one day and handed it over, "Free and Clear."  I was amazed.  So, though things may look difficult, don't rule out the favor of God.  You have to believe before you can see.  Don't give up, because you're closer than you think!

    - Tammy Lewis

    Overcoming Your Fears

    Everyone is afraid of something; whether it snakes, spiders, writing or public speaking. The best way to conquer your fears is to face them head on.

    When I was growing up, I was very shy and timid. I didn't like strangers, it was hard to make friends and I didn't like for people to see me eat. I would take my plate into the bedroom.  So, can you imagine having a business with those same qualities? That's exactly how I was. I was so afraid of talking to professionals. I was afraid that I would say the wrong things or not be able to blend in with the conversations, because I wasn't  smart enough.  These are all real problems that people deal with everyday. The one thing that I figured out about myself was that because I was not willing to face my fears head on, I was about to talk myself out of my future. Sometimes we can be our own worst critics. We don't see what other people see in us.

    I found a way to get over my fear of large crowds of people at networking events by arriving early. If I was going to be the first one there, then it was like everyone was coming to meet me, instead of me going to meet them. This little trick actually worked and before you knew it, I knew everyone. Since the the industry that I was in was rather small, everyone kind of ran in the same circle. Most of the time it was the same people and if not, someone was there to introduce you. 

    After I tamed that lion, I started to visit facilities and introduce myself. I seemed to always find myself in crowds at that point. Before I knew it, I was speaking to small groups. The groups became larger and larger and I am currently planning my first conference.  Can you image that? Me, speaking to hundreds? 

    So, I say to you that whatever fear that you are exhibiting that is keeping you from your destiny, it time to face it HEAD ON!

    Do you feel that it is important for business owners to be healthy?

    How important is it to be a healthy business owner?  I'm going to have to say that I think that it is extremely important.  I'll give it a BIG FAT 10!  As a nurse, I feel that people who are healthier are more effective.  You can't run a business, if you are out sick.  How is that being productive?  It's not!  Have you ever heard the expression "Time is Money?"  Well guess what?  Time is not money.  Time is time.  But time is the one thing that you can never get back.  So, why not live the best life that you can? 

    I can honestly say that being in business for myself, especially in the healthcare arena, has taught me a lot.  There were times when I had to drag myself out of bed, because I was tired.  I wasn't getting enough rest. I was up all hours of the night, while at the same time practicing poor eating habits.  Over a year's time, I had gained 30 lbs.  Not only did this cause some unwanted health issues, but in weighed in very heavily on my self-esteem.  I began to withdraw from activities, because I was always tired.  And I just didn't feel like doing anything!  One day, I just made of my mind that I was going to be healthy.  I took that necessary steps need to get back on track and it is still a work in progress.  I am not only healthier, but I am happier.

    Here are some things that you can do promote a healthier you:

    ·             Have regular annual check-ups 

    ·             Get a good night's sleep 

    ·             Start a regular exercise regime

    ·             Make healthy food choices

    ·             Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day 

    These are simple tips that can help you look and feel better.  Start small to prevent burnout which may cause you to fall back into the same routines and old habits.  Find an accountability partner to assist in holding you accountable.  With an accountability partner you are less likely to quit.  Also, track your progress.  Once you see that you are making progress you will be motivated to continue on your journey.  A healthier you is a more confident you!

    What is your heart telling you?


    From the time that you are a small child, there is always someone telling you that you can't do something.  "You can't go outside today." " You can't watch that."  " You can't do that; it's too difficult."  You can actually hear something so much that it will become a part of you.  This is what happened to me.  I was told that I couldn't do things so much that I literally thought that I could do nothing right. 


    I can remember being in the second grade and my grandmother telling me that I could do anything that I wanted to do.  That was short lived, as she died early in my childhood, which silenced her voice.  In the fourth grade, I had two teachers that would spend extra time with me, as they must have sensed my low self-esteem.  They would always try and encourage me. The truth was I didn't believe them.  I was told that, "I can't", so apparently, I couldn't.


    I moved away after the fifth grade and at that time I began listening to the unqualified voices, again.  Those voices haunted me long into my adulthood. I robbed myself of joy and success, because I was told that I couldn't do things.  One day, I decided that I would take a leap of faith and move to another state.  I was told that I would never make it away from my family.  Guess what?  I made it!  Once that I realized that I could do certain things, I reflected on my grandmother and my fourth grade teacher's voices, that had once been silenced.  I told myself that I would focus on those voices and silence the unqualified voices. 


     I decided to listen to my inner self and my entire life changed for the better.  I became a better person, wife and mother.  I began to focus more on my career.  I went back to school and finished my nursing degree, started and ran a successful business, all while maintaining my household.  I am now a mentor, author, motivational speaker, as well as a business consultant.
    I say to you, "Listen to your heart" and never allow anyone to tell you that you "Can't." 

    Phil 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me."  Dream and Dream BIG!!!!!  What you "can't" do, God "can."


    - Tammy Lewis
     

    What does success mean to you?

    I have spoken with many people and asked this question many times.  It's funny because, I've heard so many people define success as, making a lot of money or being rich.  By definition, success means, "the accomplishment of an aim or purpose."  So naturally, it would mean something different to everyone.  What does success mean to me?  Well today, I went out to complete an assessment for an insurance company.  When I arrived, the elderly lady was just returning from her chemo treatment.  It was her first one.  She was very tired and a little unsteady on her feet.  Her daughter had to leave and go out of town, which was going to leave her home alone for several hours, until her son-in-law returned.  She lived about 45 minutes away from my house, but I went home and searched the garage, until I found a bedside commode that I had been storing.  I cleaned it up and took it back to her home.  I didn't want to take the chance of her falling and sustaining an unnecessary injury, while her family was away.  I put the bedside commode next to her recliner.  I asked her if she'd eaten anything and she had, but I offered to make something for later.  Prior to leaving, I asked if her colostomy bag had been emptied today.  Well, it hadn't.  I assisted her with that and made sure that she returned to her recliner safely, before I left.  She was very grateful and couldn't thank me enough times.  I felt a sense of gratefulness, as well.  Why?  Because God has given me a gift and this is how I chosen to use it.

     

    So again, what does success mean to me?  Success is when I am able to help other people reach their accomplishments or purposes, in which they aim.