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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

Just how much work brings a business idea to life? Many new business owners today assume unrealistically that no amount of work is enough. Following the initial exuberance of a spark of inspiration, some may see creating and managing their vision from the outset as not full-time job, but an all-time commitment. Life comes first, and when the stress of their own perceived obligations runs a manager down, a small business could stay down with them until their own welfare becomes a priority.

Business owners should manage their priorities wisely. The first such priority is health. Excessive overtime does no favors for either a service-provider or their clients. Sluggish thinking tends to prevail when overwork is the norm. Such thinking leads to mistakes, numbs innovation, and creates apathy. Many a medical resident or air traffic controller has learned this lesson the hard way. No business owner benefits from 12 hours a day hustling for work that may not exist.  Small business owners need to work smart instead of long and this is good advice.

The owner’s commitment should therefore match the realistic scale of the enterprise. Early in the history of a business, the time-commitment may in fact be minimal. A new business owner may in fact need to feel out the scope of demand for their services before planning for a larger, more sophisticated organization.

Often for a brand-new entrepreneur, the most exciting aspects of the business may in fact provide the greatest rewards. In other words, dry planning for infrastructure development may for some hinder rather than help development. Such development may not end up a great fit for the needs of a new business.

Perhaps later, business may grow.  The necessities of a new enterprise may change. A sole proprietor often must direct every function of their enterprise. A larger organization tends to rely on specialists. Any mid-size or large corporation likely has several departments, such as Human Resources, Legal, or Marketing. As a sole proprietor develops their new business, they often must assume each function simultaneously and wear many hats.

The direct needs of the business could more directly impact the proprietor. The more demanding a business becomes, the more carefully we should balance the needs of the business with our own capacity to function in a healthy, productive manner.

A 2012 Slate article, “Bring Back the 40-hour Work Week,” noted that for most of the 20th century, business leaders such as Henry Ford noted the deleterious effects of overwork for their employees, as well as presumably themselves. The current ethos of overwork in many sectors does nothing to improve on these sentiments.

Those who run a business should have a sense of their own proclivities. Consider those habits that may sharpen your senses and increase your enthusiasm, as opposed to those that leave you exhausted and sluggish. For example, some people work best in the mornings, while others need time to adjust and plan their day. Breaktimes and lunch may provide opportunities to get to know your healthiest, most productive, and happiest routine. Additionally, managers should know how to mesh work life with down-time and recreation.

Generally, those who deliver vibrance to their own business creations are fonts of life themselves. Your own inner world dictates the energy you radiate. Self-care and mindfulness about your own well-being colors the life of those within your sphere. Hence, consider the dangers of the cult of overwork, and remember that the management of your own well-being matters as much as management of your business.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hopes that this article has been valuable.   We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:

https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Don’t forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here:

https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/

By Debbie Gregory.

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Productivity is important.  As a small business owner with more to do in a day than there are hours, getting started on your day can often be difficult. Where do you begin? Starting your day with the largest and most daunting tasks on your to-do list can make a big difference in your day and overall effectiveness as a leader. Below are a few activities to not only get your day started right but will make your day better and more productive.

1.) Get some exercise

The best way to ensure you get a good workout every day is to begin your day with one! If you simply begin your work day, odds are good at the end of the day you will feel too drained from work to get to the gym. Working out also reduces anxiety and boosts your overall decision-making, problem-solving and planning skills.

2.) Eat a good breakfast

Skipping breakfast is never a good idea. You body and brain both need energy and fuel to concentrate and stay on task. Make sure to get in a good meal before you tackle your day.

3.) Scan your email for the most important items

Those emails in your inbox waiting for you are a pressing concern for most people these days. It is a good idea to begin by giving your inbox a quick few scan that will take just a few minutes.  You can then properly schedule time blocks of time to take care of these emails more efficiently. Scanning what is waiting and scheduling this time also keeps your mind from wondering what is waiting for you in your inbox while you are trying to focus on other tasks.

4.) Make and practice a morning ritual

Morning rituals are a great way to get a little bit of “me” time before you give your time to everyone else. This ritual sets the tone for your day and can help you calm your mind and put life into perspective. It can also help boost your confidence to face your daily challenges.

These rituals do not need to be long and involved.

Maybe try a few things such as:

  • Listening to an audio book
  • Reading a book for a few minutes
  • Listening to music
  • Journaling
  • Meditating
  • Enjoying some aromatherapy
  • Drinking a cup of tea
  • Doing a small craft
  • And more

5.) Stand for morning meetings

Meetings first thing in the morning tend to be unpleasant and waste a lot of valuable time. However, sometimes they are necessary to touch base with your team. If you absolutely have to start your day with a meeting, don’t sit down. Conduct the meeting sitting up or walking. Not only is standing or walking healthier than sitting, moving around also increases creative output. It may also encourage and lead to a shorter meeting.

6.) Get that dreaded item over with

The most valuable input we can provide you is the advice for you to get the worst item of your day off of your plate first thing. As Mark Twain famously quipped, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning.” Getting that one awful task off of your to-do list first can give the rest of your day a boost and give you a feeling of accomplishment. It also prevents that task from taking up your valuable mental space and causing you stress.

As a business owner you are a busy person, hopefully these tips can help you de-stress a bit and enable you to start your day on a better foot so that you are able to be more productive and an overall better leader for your team.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hopes that this article has been valuable.   We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful and timely information and are the “go to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:

https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Tips for Positive Pandemic Mental Health

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

 

  • Consider Your Anxiety about Controlling Your Circumstances:

The pandemic is not your fault. Others will understand this in retrospect. Stay gracious for the gifts the universe gave you. Recognize any blessings that may surround you. Do not howl at the moon about whatever someone could do differently.   Find joy whenever and wherever you can.

  • Open Your Mind to New Methods of Outreach:

We are lucky to have the Internet, given pandemic restrictions about meeting in person. As many have discovered in the past few years, several online outlets provide avenues for connection. Google chat, Zoom and Facetime are among them.

Time with friends and family salves frayed nerves and depressed feelings. Circumstances with the pandemic seem to throw a wrench into our normal outlets. However, online interactions still provide meaning. Even day-to-day, a simple message may provide connection even for those not immediately living with friends or family.

  • Stay Productive:

The lack of a routine confounds many stuck at home. Remember the routine of waking up, eating breakfast, and commuting to the salt mines? Furloughed workers may relish these memories. Same for work-from-home employees. As many times as you may have pounded that snooze button, at least you had somewhere to go. The trip to work provided a new adventure every day.

The unexpected pandemic disrupted our workplace lives. Our sense of validation often comes from our accomplishments. During the crisis, we often must squeeze water from a rock. However, many of us have lists of projects that can fill our day. Consider the pandemic an opportunity to explore new horizons.

Learn an instrument. Practice a language. Redecorate your house. People need to feel useful. Small business owners should get creative about using down-time productively.

  • Do Not Compare Yourself to Others:

The Age of Social Media has brought new strains of peer pressure upon all of us. Now that so many spend so much time at home, the pandemic has exacerbated this stress. Social media is often the only outlet.

Remember, your friends on social media post what they find worthy to post. In the end, we all do. More power to all of us. And many of us not even on social media.

In an age when so many of us have “our own brand,” always remember that the online presences of others does not define us. We should stay confident of our own identity while respecting those of others.

  • Stay Mindful by Journaling:

Keeping a journal is healthy. You have likely developed some new routines during this period. Record your thoughts. Take the time to write down new recipes, insights, and feelings. Mindfulness keeps us aware of our ongoing mental states. Journaling can help with mindfulness. Day-to-day, records of your mental state could well prove benefits to your mental well-being.

  • Get Out of the House and Exercise:

The virus is weakest outdoors. Rather than going stir-crazy in the stuffy confines of our claustrophobic domiciles, simple walks outside do wonders for our mental health. Hikes, jogging, bicycling, and any number of activities can leave us with a new outlook and bring home a sense of relief. Just remember not to “share air,” as the new pandemic saying goes.

A few additional hints from Debbie Gregory, VAMBOA’s founder & CEO:

A few things that help me:   I make sure to acknowledge gratitude for the people in my life and all that I am grateful for each day.  It is nice to add it to your journal too.   This is a good way to begin your daily entry.   Almost every day, even if I am not going anywhere, I still shower, groom, dress nicely if only for me.   This helps me to be positive and when we look nice, we feel better, at least I do.    Once in a while, I do have a pajama day, but it is rare.  For me, it is better to make sure my clothes fit than to hang out in PJs or sweats.   I also go out of my way to make nice, healthy meals and exercise even when I cannot go outside with online classes, an elliptical or exercise bike.  Walking is the best.   The love, affection and devotion from our fur children is priceless too.    I also try to meditate at least once a day and find the joy where I can and often.  I am a glass is half full girl too.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hopes that this article has been helpful.   We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful and timely information and are the “go to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Cash Flow and Profits: A Comparison

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By Debbie Gregory.

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Cash-flow and profit margin both relate to the health of a company. However, each term relates differently to the company’s bottom-line. Cash-flow is important to a company’s expansion and potential. Profit margin is a different concept that may relate more directly to the company’s bottom line.

Cash-flow governs the everyday workings of the company. Cash flow may come from any of a variety of sources, including the owner’s personal funds, investors, or loans, as well as revenue. Cash flow pays the bills, the employees, and the creditors in the short-term. Profits matter in the long-term, especially in the wake of large investments from investors or creditors.

For a smaller company with an independent cash flow, operations may continue for quite some time (or even indefinitely) before turning a profit, based on the enthusiasm and motivations of its operators. This is especially true with a home business. For a larger enterprises, profits must ultimately keep up with the cash flow. This is especially true when the original investors become creditors demanding payment.

So how do we more specifically define profits versus cash flow? “Profit” is basically the same as “net income.” Within a given period, your “profit” is your business revenue minus your expenses (including cost of providing products and services and overhead).

But how to manage cash flow? Assume a loan of $15,000, with a payment plan of $500 per month. That initial loan provides a healthy cash flow early in the history of the company, but the subsequent $500 per month will eat just that much into the profit margin.

Financial experts sometimes consider cash flow a better indicator of a company’s performance than profit margin. Cash flow affords better opportunities for growth. Cash flow may indicate better credit on the part of the company, and greater enthusiasm on the part of investors. By extension, the incoming monies may signal a brighter future for the company.

On the other hand, profit holds a different importance to the company’s bottom line and plans for expansion. A small side-business can emphasize profitability from the get-go, absent lofty ambitions. Smaller enterprises need not incur debt. Entrepreneurs with bigger plans must consider cash flow while they can maintain their company in the growth stage before reaching the critical mass necessary to generate independent profits.

A small business should consider maintaining a “cash flow statement” that details their periodic cash flow. These statements are called “free cash flow,” or “FCF” statements. In order to calculate your “FCF,” you should:

(1) calculate your operating cash flow

(2) subtract your capital expenditures

(3) on the chance that your company pays dividends, subtract your dividends, which are shares of profits paid to part-owners of the company.

Business owners should carefully monitor both cash flow and profits, for the sake of the progress of their company, as well as tax considerations. Cash flow could originate from an excited or generous relative, or a small business loan, or any of a variety of sources. Profitability depends on total revenue minus expenses, including negotiated payments to investors or lenders.

Profitability may indicate long-term success, but cash flow generally indicates engagement with the economy and a vibrant outlook for success. Healthy cash flow demonstrates that the company functions in the here and now. In many cases profitability may come afterward.

 

We hope that you have enjoyed this article and the prior one on profitability.   We work hard to bring our audience timely and important information.

We do not charge members any dues or fees.  If you are not yet a member of VAMBOA, please join here:   https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

Members may use our seal on their web sites and collateral and will receive special discounts and other important information.

Is Remote Work Here to Stay?

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By Debbie Gregory.

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The COVID-19 pandemic, with all the necessary social-distancing and isolation measures, has pushed businesses in almost every industry.   The pandemic has pushed businesses to allow some, or their entire, workforce to work remotely.

The various collaborative technology platforms such as Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft Teams have all seen a dramatic increase in users and a huge demand for their services. This increase in demand for these services is not likely to go away once the pandemic ends or abates. Among younger business owners and workers, remote working is being viewed in an increasingly positive light.

Earlier this year, 500 small business owners across the United States were surveyed about remote work and below are the findings of those surveyed:

A.) Small Business Owners are More Open to Hiring Remote Workers:

Currently about 55% of small business owners in the United States would consider hiring remote workers after the pandemic ends or abates. This is a significant increase from the previous year (2019) as only thirty-six percent would have considered it at that time

B.) Age Determines How Remote Work is Viewed:

Small business owners, aged 18-34, stated they have used remote workers in the past twelve months; Sixty percent would consider hiring remote workers in the future; Eighty percent or approximately one half of the small business owners aged 18-34 surveyed stated that they feel remote workers are more productive than on site office workers; while only thirty-five percent of small business owners aged 35-44 and a mere fifteen percent of small business owners aged over 65 stating remote workers are more productive than office workers.   Additionally, small business owners aged 18-34 also feel the quality of remote workers to be higher than office workers, forty-three percent as compared to sixteen percent of small business owners who are 65 or older.

C.) All Generations are Concerned About Remote Work Challenges:

All age groups surveyed agreed that working remotely comes with a great deal of benefits for both the employees and the employers. However, there were also a significant number of concerns about the challenges presented by moving the workforce from the office environment to the home.

Concerns such as:

  • Employees are being distracted
  • Employees spending too much time on personal matters during work hours
  • The ability to effectively manage employees remotely
  • Information safety and security
  • Technology requirements, service, and upgrades

D.) Most Small Business Owners (in all age groups) Were Already Working Remotely Themselves:

Even though the older generations of business owners are hesitant to allow their employees to work remotely, many were already doing it themselves. In fact, approximately sixty-five percent of small business owners work remotely. It is not surprising that younger business owners are more likely to be working from home, eighty-six percent; the older generations are not far behind with fifty-four percent working remotely.

As employers and employees alike experience the benefits of working remotely, more companies will inevitably decide to make this leap. In the future, once the pandemic has finally passed or abated, there will be a dramatic rise in fully remote companies without any physical workplace.  This will also dramatically change the commercial real-estate market especially in very high rent areas on both coasts.

Since so many VAMBOA members are working remotely, we want to extend to our members and friends, significant discounts up to 50% from our Dell, our technology partner.   Here is a link to check them out:

https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/

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