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Wrestling Your Pesky Finances into Submission in Three Simple Steps

 

Wrestling Your Pesky Finances into Submission in Three Simple Steps

Finances, pesky finances.

Even those of us who seem to have our finances totally under control have bad days.  And those bad days may extend into weeks if we don’t nip it in the bud.  It usually comes from overwhelm.

As with any other part of our busy lives, we expected that computers and other new technologies would make life simpler and leave more time for plain ol’ living.

However, in the past we only had to check our checkbook balances and look at paper receipts to know what cash we had spent and what we had available.  Today it’s ATMs, online purchases from bank cards or Paypal, automatic deductions, phone-based text message contributions, debit cards, credit cards, gift cards, and so on.

And how do we keep track?  We have invoices and statements that are mailed to us.  Others are online.  Some, like Paypal, we have to go hunting for.  We might use online services like Mint.com or CommonSense or Quicken (to name but a few) to consolidate things.  Or we might try to do it all manually.

Now that’s just our current personal finances.  Not to mention any investments, IRAs, etc.

And that load might double if we own a business!

So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, unmotivated, and stretched too thin, you have the right to take off that Superwoman cape every so often.  Turn off the incessant chatter in your head.  Take a day or two where you give yourself permission not to keep rehashing what a mess your finances are in.  Breathe.

But not for too long.  Because the world didn’t take that day or two off with you.  Life moves on regardless.  And any backlog will just get worse.

Once back and focused, you do have a few choices of how to handle the situation.  Some are healthy and some are not.

1.    You could stick your head in the sand and totally ignore things.  Known as the Ostrich Method of Personal Finance, this one catches up with you eventually and by then the chaos is so great, you might find yourself facing bankruptcy.  Or at least your credit will be in shambles.  Not wise.

2.    You could just deal with the “screamers.”  (As in “He who screams loudest gets my money.”)  Those are the bills that have red letters on the outside of the envelopes.  Or the calls you’re getting from creditors … or collectors.  Again, your credit will be ruined and your nerves will be shot from the anxiety.  And eventually the whole thing will come toppling down on you.  Not smart.

3.    You could keep juggling things the best you can, trying to remember all you have to pay, what’s due when, what’s where, what’s siphoning off which account, what credit’s left on what credit card, and all the little expenditures you don’t even feel yourself making, called “bleeders.”  But not for long.  Eventually you’ll wear yourself out, or forget something that triggers a spiral of late charges, unpaid bills and worse.  Not good.

4.    Or you could take the time to give yourself every chance to succeed with your finances.  You could “wrestle” them into submission in three simple steps:

Step One:  Do a handwritten brain dump. First, take a deep breath.  Then do a handwritten download of everything you can think of that needs to be done regarding your finances.  (No computers here!)  Unless you have a clear picture of what you’re dealing with, you will see your situation as worse than it is.  (Overwhelm will do that.)

Writing it all down on paper becomes a sort of cathartic brain dump.  That, in turn, frees up space in your head for you to be more creative in your solutions.  And it doesn’t matter if you hate writing and haven’t held a pencil in your hands in years.  It’s important to have the physical sensation of writing and visualizing what’s going on … in your own letters and numbers … for you to own where you are and feel the true impact of what you need to do.

Step Two:  Simplify, simplify, simplify your life. Besides all the payments you have, you also have all sorts of open loops:  car insurance you keep saying you want to re-quote to lower your premium; rebate forms to send in; charges on your credit card statements that you don’t recognize; or doctors’ bills that didn’t go through the insurance company and you know you don’t owe that much.  These are soul-suckers.  So, unless you’re rich enough to tear them up and forget about them, make a list.  Cross off the ones you decide aren’t worth the effort.  For each one that stays on the list, gather the backup information, plus contact numbers, and pick a day when you promise yourself to clear them all up.  And do so.

Next, look at everything you can get rid of:  pay off credit cards with tiny balances and stop using them so you have one less statement to deal with; pick one debit card and lock all the rest away so they don’t get used; consolidate bank accounts that don’t have any justification other than your laziness to close them; get radical in paring back every financial tool you can live without.  But don’t overlook any impact such an action might have on your credit rating (for example, don’t shut down credit cards, just sideline them).

You’ll be amazed at how many things you can do without, with minimal inconvenience.  So many were just added over the years, without removing old ones.  And by lowering the number of financial tools, your finances are easier to get under control.

Step Three:  Systematize or delegate. With far fewer financial tools to deal with, it’s easier to set up systems for what remains.  One thing that helps is to have all bills coming due at the same time, unless you’re paid twice monthly, on the 1st and 15th of the month.  In that case, you might want to split bills between the 5th and the 19th to be sure your deposits have cleared.  A simple call to a service provider will usually result in a changed due date, with a one-time prorated adjustment for the extra days covered.  At that point, all you need to do is schedule an appointment with yourself to pay bills twice a month.

If you have a friendly bookkeeper, you can delegate some of the tasks to that person.  But remember, you are only delegating the act of paying, not the responsibility.

Out of chaos, comes order.  And out of order comes clarity regarding the inflows and outflows of money.  Out of clarity comes a feeling of control … critical control that frees up time and energy to make more money, save more money, and release the financial genius you know down deep you are!

Sharon O’Day is a money expert with a successful career in global finance and marketing, plus an MBA from the Wharton School. Today she specializes in helping entrepreneurial women over 50 remove the obstacles to making and saving money, and to becoming financially free. For more information on how to be “Over Fifty and Financially Free,”  visit http://SharonODay.com

 

Bio: Sharon O’Day lost everything at age 53:  her home, her business, everything.  But how could that be?  She’s an expert in global finance and marketing with an MBA from the Wharton School.  She has worked with governments, corporations, and individuals … yes, she was the secret ‘weapon,’ if you will, behind many individuals in high places.  But yet she did!  Since then, Sharon has interviewed countless women and done extensive research to understand how that could have happened, especially with her strong knowledge of numbers and finance.

The surprising answers will be shared in her upcoming book “Money After Menopause.”  Today her mission is to show as many women as possible how to become financially free for the long term, through her “Over Fifty and Financially Free” coaching programs.  She has developed a step-by-step plan to get past all the obstacles that keep women broke and scared … and from reaching the financial peace of mind they so deserve.

Time Management – Be It’s Master, Not It’s Slave

 
Time Management – Be It's Master, Not It's Slave

 

By Elvie Look
 

 

Are you struggling to find enough time to do the things you need to do? You've probably heard the saying "Work smarter, not harder" which really has a lot to do with it.

But before I talk about time management, I must tell you that I do get a lot accomplished, and that is where my fault may lie. I need to do less. I can be a bit of a Martha Stewart in that, I want to take on everything, do it all homemade, and do it perfectly. So, if I was having a dinner party, I used to make everything from scratch. But, I have learned to mellow out over the years. Doing everything from scratch doesn't mean my guests will enjoy it more, they enjoyed our time together more when I was relaxed and happy. So I have learned to let go.

Time management is like housework, no one keeps it perfectly all of the time. Life changes and messes it up day by day. We just have to learn to be flexible and adjust with the changes. So don't feel bad if you find you need to improve in time management, you are not alone! There is always room for improvement in everyone's life. My husband Ken wants to see me work less, and I am working very hard towards that goal. That is my long-term goal, so to reach it, I have to work a little harder now, but that brings me to the first part of time management:

1. Set Goals

Your goals should start first of all for the day, plan your day and the activities you would like to accomplish. Many start with a To Do List. I asked my Facebook Friends how they kept a To Do List. Some used technology like a calendar on their computer, some used a notebook, others used both. It really doesn't matter which you use, just use the one that works for you.

One method could be to keep a combined To Do list in a notebook with dividers. The front would be where you keep a daily To Do List, the next section would be broken down for things that must be accomplished for the week. The third section for larger projects that must be accomplished that month. This helps to keep you on track so nothing gets forgotten. As tasks come to mind, add them to your list, and cross them off as they are completed (my favorite task).

2. Set Priorities

You can set priorities by numbering each item according to the importance, and then to the best of your ability, handle those activities in that order. Personally, this did not work for me. I preferred to review the whole list, and make the decision at that moment, then do it. After it was checked off, I reviewed the whole list again. Sometimes time or my mood dictated what was my priority. Again, whatever works for you is what you should do.

I would like to share some excerpts from the book I am reading right now, "Eat That Frog!" by Brian Tracy. I highly recommend this book, he gives 21 great ways to stop procrastinating and get more done in less time.


A Simple Truth – he says, "The ability to concentrate single-mindedly on your most important task, to do it well and to finish it completely, is the key to great success, achievement, respect, status, and happiness in life.  As you struggle to get caught up, new tasks and responsibilities just keep rolling in, like the waves of the ocean. Because of this, you will never be able to do everything you have to do. You will never be caught up. (I swear he stole that line from me, I have said that many times, work is like trying to bale the ocean.) For this reason, your ability to select your most important task at each moment, and then to get started on that task and to get it done both quickly and well, will probably have more of an impact on your success than any other quality or skill you can develop. Your "frog" is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don't do something about it. The first rule of frog eating is this: If you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first. The second rule of frog eating is this: If you have to eat a live frog at all, it doesn't pay to sit and look at it for very long. Take action immediately."

Powerful, eh? (yes I am Canadian…) But I love how he words it.

More on priorities, you may choose to make exceptions and handle your list according to your preference. Sometimes I just feel better if I can cross off 6 small items on my list, that feeling of accomplishment fuels me to tackle the one ugly frog that is left. So you are allowed to be flexible, your objective is to stay in control so that what you are accomplishing is your choice and not by chance.

Don't rush through your jobs or worry about trying to get everything done on your list. I appreciated what Time Management Consultant Alan Lakein stressed, "One rarely reaches the bottom of a To Do List. It's not completing the list that counts, but making the best use of your time."

Also, by working on more difficult tasks first is often best because you are more alert and able to concentrate earlier in the day, so they may get done in less time. Whereas, if you leave them to the end of the day when you are tired, they may take twice as long.

3. Distinguish Between Urgent and Important

In order to do this, consider the results that each task will bring. Will finishing the job produce significant benefits? Will it help you materially in your business? Will it help you be a better parent? Will it make future tasks easier? If not, it may not be a high-priority task.

One professor said, "Important things are seldom urgent and urgent things are seldom important." Such as the urgency of fixing a flat tire when you are late is greater than remembering to pay your vehicle insurance premium. Unfortunately, many of us spend our days fighting fires under the false pretense that they are urgent. The result is we are ignoring the less "urgent" but more "important things" in life.

To determine priorities, you need to ask yourself some questions to decide if this is truly important or just urgent. Can the urgent matter be put off? Can you get it done quickly and move on? Can you delegate the task to someone else?

You will find it more rewarding when you work at the things that are important and give you greater results rather than the things that just keep you busy in activity, but you are not really moving forward on your long-term goals.

4. Be Neat And Organized

You may think that being messy seems so much easier and not realise how being neat and organized helps you manage your time better. One thing that is a complete time-waster is disorganization. When you don't put things away where they belong, then when you are in a rush or need that item, you waste time looking for it. By organizing your home and creating a home for everything, you find things easier and quicker. Your tasks get completely easier and in less time. Try making neatness a habit, keep everything neater, and see if it makes your life easier. I give some great tips in my book "21 Steps From Chaos To Calm."


5. Prevent Burnout

As I noted at the beginning, we are sometimes our worst enemy. Perhaps we put too much on our plate, make unrealistic To Do lists, set unachievable goals, and then we burn out and get even less done. Are you burning the candle at both ends? If so, you cannot keep up with that pace before you "burn out" and then you will not be able to accomplish anything.

So be realistic with your expectations, your goals, your To Do list. And if you tend to do too much, then write this down on your To Do List:

  • Sit down and rest for 15 minutes
  • Go for a walk
  • Stop work at (set a time) and regardless of what is done or not done, shut down for the day and rest

Perhaps you need to write it on your To Do list, and then you will include time for yourself in your management of time.

There are no fixed rules for personal organization of your time, rather, effective time management means selecting the appropriate task for right now. It means discerning what activities yield the best results and spend your time on those as much as possible. You need to be flexible, adaptable, and find what works best for you.

WAYS TO SAVE TIME


1. Have a clear set of values and goals in life. It is the key to setting daily priorities.
2. Work on tasks requiring concentration when you are most alert.
3. Make phone calls when you are most likely to contact the person.
4. Delegate work whenever possible. It frees you to accomplish more, and it gives experience to others.
5. When doing paperwork, try to handle each piece of paper once, rather than giving it a temporary 'parking place.'
6. At meetings with others, stick to an agenda. Have specific starting and finishing times.
7. Organise your work area with needed tools close at hand.
8. Do not feel obligated to accept every social invitation that comes your way. Learn to say no tactfully.
9. Standardize shopping and packing lists as much as possible rather than writing up new ones repeatedly.
10. Get sufficient rest and relaxation so that you can work effectively.
11. Set deadlines.
12. Do not procrastinate.
13. Break overwhelming tasks into smaller ones.
14. Do not be a perfectionist. Concentrate on what is truly important.
15. Make good use of waiting time. Write a letter, read, or accomplish some other essential task.
16.    Know that there will be occasions when you will need to spend time on activities you would not choose. Do not waste time fretting about it. Instead, work to get it done.

Elvie Look: Your Professional Organizing Coach who is helping people get organized with her easy tips and suggestions. These systems help the busy mom, businessman or woman,  entrepreneur or student learn the keys to organizing in simple, actionable and manageable steps. She teaches how to get organized and maintain your organized space while carrying on your normal busy life. She is the author of "21 steps from Chaos to Calm."

 
P.S. Thank you Elvie, from the bottom of my heart. Your generosity enabled me to devote 100% of our getaway weekend to my awesome husband, Rich.

Why Most Entrepreneurs Fail, Why We Will Not

 

Why Most Entrepreneurs Fail, Why We Will not

False thinking raises its ugly head

Have you ever thought there would come a day when life stopped dishing out lessons for us to learn? Well, if you are like me we can always hope so. What I found last week instead was false thinking on my part.

You see, I thought when I left the job at the bank and started building my own auto transport business security was a done deal, locked in. I knew that jobs in corporate America were no longer secure in the new economy. By reading the headlines in the morning paper or watching the evening news I see evidence of the insecurity in working for someone else.

My husband and I lived through the very insecure timber industry here in northern California when he lost his job not once, but three times to it. Learning to live on twenty-five percent of a mill workers income when the bills did not decrease accordingly stunk! This was one more reason we wanted to be independent, work for ourselves, control our own destiny.

Auto transport market changes in business 

Part of the lessons I learned early on in our broker business was we must be aware and have our finger on the pulse of the industry. Keeping our head buried in the sand like an ostrich is not how a business owner builds a successful business. In fact, if you do not watch what is going on in the rest of the country you could easily go broke.

Just like when Hurricane Katrina hit and we almost lost the business. If it were not for our owner-operators, who love and cared for us giving us advice we would have closed our doors. It certainly was a tough lesson and one we will not soon forget.

During the darkest of times back then is when we decided we had better look at alternate ways to make money if I wanted to keep the business going and stay home to work. If you recall we were building a part time vitamin business at the same time. It was at a networking breakfast meeting that one of our members questioned me about what an auto transport broker did. When I answered the question, they asked for a business card and said their uncle was looking for my type of service.

The following week we received a call from the uncle of the member of the networking group. It did not take long to figure out that they had misunderstood my explanation of what I do. This man was looking for a dispatcher.

However, I agreed to meet him and his wife for coffee to discuss what services I could offer them. The rest is history, thus was born “The Dispatch Center”, a division of Carla’s Transport Services.

Do not put all your eggs in one basket

The next phase of the business grew right along. Soon after accepting one owner-operator job, others followed. Even though the customer side of auto transport had slowed down, the dispatching of auto carriers kept me hopping.

I found I loved working with the variety of clients, from car owners, other brokers to the drivers themselves. Relationships grew, as did my circle of professional business partners. Soon I found myself inside their lives helping them with their health, too. How could that be you might wonder?

One of the drivers I had dispatched a car to for one of my auto transport customers transports went missing in action. Panic began to set in when his company called me looking for any updated information. His wife called me asking when the last communication we had was, what time of day and the like.

All I can say is thank goodness for relationships, companies who care for their employees and the GPS systems some trucking firms use on their trucks. After a whole day of investigating, he was finally located at a truck stop, in the back, face down having suffered a stroke. He is all right today, thanks to everyone’s effort and relentless phone calls.

As the seasons change so does the volume of business, both on the brokering and dispatching side of the business. It made perfect sense to diversify and build our vitamin business due to the difficulties of the market.

However, I neglected one detail. I settled into the false thinking of security. The mindset of if brokering slows, I have the dispatching to fall back on. Doesn’t it seem logical and safe? Wrong.

Depending on someone elses business for security

In this current economy, government agencies are looking for ways to boost our economy. Now, I am not saying anything is wrong with that it does need help. However, let me share with you what happened to one of the trucks I dispatch. Please, share your thoughts and help me understand the logic of this situation.

This truck has been running the same route for over six years. What this means is he hauls a load of cars from California to Texas and back again using the same interstates. For our safety there are inspection stations manned by Highway Patrol officers trained in semi-tractor safety and highway law. Stay with me here as I take you through my thinking.

On the last load-in the inspector tells the driver that his equipment is one foot too long. Now, after six years his truck is illegal to run the state of California, he is done. What does this mean to his business and mine? One of two things can happen. He can purchase new equipment that is the right length for the state requirements at a great cost or he is out of business.

What did this teach me? The light bulb went off in my head and it exploded. I had allowed my thinking to slip back into a comfort zone that had gotten others and me into trouble before. I thought I was secure in my auto transport broker and dispatch center. I thought even if one side generated less revenue it would be okay because I had the other side.

What I had not counted on were the regulations changing. We try not to think about trucks breaking down, trailers being too long. This all caused an immediate loss of work, revenue and comfort.

We were comforted knowing that while we were building our business we did not put all of our eggs in one basket. We had begun building another business part time, our anti-aging vitamin company.

 
Have you ever thought about how secure your job or business really is? It was a real wake up call for me. Now I know for sure, the only security in business is to have a back up plan.
 
Start today working on your plan. You do not want to be caught off guard by rules, regulations and laws that are not within your control. Like my family, yours will be thankful that you thought ahead.
 
We need your help! We can't do what we do without you. Leave your comment below and join in the discussion. We'd love to hear your thoughts about being prepared for imminent change.
 
Click the FaceBook "Like" and "Re-tweet" buttons; or if you Stumble that's great, too. You mean the world to me. Thanks for your support.
 
Here to Serve,
Carla J Gardiner
 
Head shot 3scarf cropped 150x150 Weekend Trip Ends At Beach AccessCarla J Gardiner is an ex-banker turned entrepreneur who built an auto transport brokerage and dispatch center from the ground up. With half a days training and little else Carla learned the business inside and out the hard way…by doing it. Her passion and purpose lies with the people she works with daily; the client, dispatcher, broker and truck driver. Her frustration within the industry has birthed a new division of her company; one to properly train, encourage and mentor other professionals in auto transport.
 
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Can you show appreciation for the age you are while turning back the clock

 

 

Can you show appreciation for the age you are while turning back the clock?

Wasn't it just yesterday?

Today was a day of relaxation. When working from home our business can literally run us ragged if we allow it to. Learning the balance of work, home and play in running an auto transport business can be tricky. After six years though, I have finally found a nice balance. It works for my husband and me; it might not work for others.

After we came home from our church meeting, we relaxed with a nice lunch. Hubby wanted quesadillas and I dined on a scrumptious, small meal of scrambled eggs and a little salsa. It is fun watching those scales reverse direction (smile, smile and giggle) and the size of my clothes get smaller.

Knowing that I had a newsletter to write, I took just a few minutes to check FaceBook. Our daughter and family are on vacation and we keep in touch that way. The pictures she posted really touched me. It was like yesterday that we were taking family vacations with our kids as they are now.

I started to get a little melancholy then I remembered…I should show appreciation for where I am in life. By showing respect for the process of aging, we will honor our elderly parents. The sum of our experiences will make our life full, complete.

However, if you are like me I do not want to look old. You know what I am talking about, right? Aging causes many things, some good some not so good like wrinkles, memory loss and sickness in some cases. I do not mind getting older, I just do not want to act nor look it.

No, I am not a vain person; I just want to be all I can be for as long as I can be it…makes sense right? I want my cake and eat it too. I want to feel good, be able to play on the floor with my grandkids, go camping and swimming. My desire is to teach my grandkids what lifestyle can be when building a business and working hard to achieve goals.

Your business and your baby

When we started our auto transport business, you could say we treated it like our newborn baby. Up early we would work hard all day and into the evening hours. Six days a week, we kept that schedule for several years.

We made great money, developed a solid clientele and our database of preferred truck drivers grew. Our friendships blossomed, as we have gotten to know many of them in person, dining with them. Auto transport brokers and dispatchers became like business partners as we worked together to find the best owner-operators out there to serve our clients.

There were so many positive aspects to our business when it was young, but there were some negative things too. Looking back as the business began aging, we started learning from our mistakes. Our appreciation for lifestyle began to rise up. We figured out that making all that money meant nothing because we did not have time to use it.

With that realization, we began to adjust our office hours. While in the auto transport office, we worked more efficiently. I realized that when I worked for the bank we took breaks. It was not easy, but I made myself get up often and take breaks, even if just to walk outdoors for a five minute retreat. Now, this is what I envisioned working from home would be like.

Appreciation for growing pains

Looking at the pictures of our grandkids, I realized it would not be long before they will be teenagers. Time flies by when we have our heads down and are building a business. One day we look up and wonder where the time went. The kids are off doing their own thing and we wonder when they became independent.

This is the time when we figured out that family is more important than any business. As the grandkids each came along, we were thankful and appreciated that our auto transport business allowed us the flexibility to travel when we wanted to. We no longer had to forfeit those early years when they grow so fast. Now I could share my life with my clients and work the hours I wanted to.

However, I had to pay the price those first few years. We had to earn the right to build the life we had envisioned. Looking back, it was so worth the growing pains, we would do it again in a heartbeat.

Mature and aging like our elderly parents

The stage we find our business in now is like our elderly parents. Wisdom comes with experience and can be stable. It is always nice to diversify to keep the passion burning and the environment exciting. If you know me at all, you know I get bored easily. To do one job day in and day out for forty years is not my cup of tea.

Do not take offense if you have been in a job for a long time. I commend you; it takes dedication and perseverance to achieve that milestone. My husband was like that. He worked for a local lumber mill for thirty years before the mill sold. He then worked for a local friend in a one-man mill (my husband was the one) for over eight years.

During those years, he helped the owner build the company to employ six other employees and he headed the crew. Finally, he worked for the original company that sold out for another four years before retiring.

My point is this each of us is different. We all have strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes. I would die if I were to work a job as my husband did. Likewise, he would keel over if he had to talk with people as I do. We compliment each other. Once we found our balance, our flow our home business became the lifestyle we dreamt about for a long time.

So for today I will not be melancholy looking at my family's vacation pictures. Instead, I choose to work on my "to-do" list in the office. This is the schedule that has allowed us to travel whenever we want to. By using a little yellow caplet, we are turning back the hands of time and "anti-aging" instead of aging.

We are fully appreciating the way God has set up life, from infancy to elderly parents. Each stage of life and business is full of adventure, excitement and living. It is up to each of us to show appreciation for the age we are, the stage our business is at and the life we have designed for our family.

We need your help! We can't do what we do without you. Leave your comment below and join in the discussion. We'd love to hear your thoughts about the stage you are in.

Click the FaceBook "Like" and "Re-tweet" buttons; or if you Stumble that's great, too. You mean the world to me. Thanks for your support.

 
Here to Serve,
Carla J Gardiner
 
Head shot 3scarf cropped 150x150 Weekend Trip Ends At Beach AccessCarla J Gardiner is an ex-banker turned entrepreneur who built an auto transport brokerage and dispatch center from the ground up. With half a days training and little else Carla learned the business inside and out the hard way…by doing it. Her passion and purpose lies with the people she works with daily; the client, dispatcher, broker and truck driver. Her frustration within the industry has birthed a new division of her company; one to properly train, encourage and mentor other professionals in auto transport.
 
What did you think?
 
Let us know your thoughts on today's article.
 
Post your comments below.
 
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Auto Transport Broker Parties and Drops Two Pants Sizes

 

.(Before December 2010)

Confessions of an auto transport broker

I have a confession to make to all of you. There is something I have not shared with you while coaching many of you to run successful auto transport brokerages. This little, well…BIG confession is something no one told me. Frankly, it never crossed my mind to share it with anyone either. It is very personal and some of you may not want to hear my story. That is okay, I understand. I used to be in your shoes and was not ready to hear this either.

However, for those of you who want to know the ugly truth about what being an auto transport broker can do to you. Read on.

Have you ever taken a family vacation and upon downloading the photos, you realize there are no pictures of you? Just trying to find this picture of me was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. That is my virtual assistant, Tiffany Johnson from Virtual Hired Hand in the picture beside me. By the way, to set the record straight I am drinking ginger ale in this picture. I am not a teetotaler, but I was not feeling the best that evening.

That is right. I am the photographer in our family and for good reason. I do not like how I look in pictures. In the past six plus years of working from home, I slipped into some unhealthy habits. One of these habits set the stage and my body for a 50+ pound weight gain. Bet no one ever told you that could happen from working at home.

The ugly culprit that started it all

As you recall from an earlier post my day in the office starts when the first phone call comes in. Hopping out of bed and running down the hallway to grab the phone does not set my day up to be successful in the eating arena. Once I boot up the computer and the phones start ringing there is no turning back. 

Normally, there is time later to grab a quick cup of coffee in between calls. However, every single time I ever tried to slip out of the office to grab a bite to eat, the phone would ring. Rather than let a potential customer get away I would turn around and answer the phone.

In spite of taking good vitamins and supplements come afternoon my butt was dragging. I was not sleeping well at night, my skin started looking haggard and I just plain old did not feel up to par. Funny thing was I could not figure it out. Then, almost overnight, my clothes did not fit. My commute, the whole ten feet of it, became a chore. By the time I opened the door and sat down to turn on the computer, I was winded.

Have you ever known what the problem was but found yourself in complete and utter denial? I have always struggled with my weight, my whole life. Following my mom and sisters, I have tried diet after diet, pill after pill. What was the result? I gained more weight, felt worse and like most others I know…gave up and settled.

I had convinced myself that the way I look, the weight I am at all came with being a grandma. Is that crazy or what? What do those darling little angels have to do with the ugly, chicken fat hiding under this skin I have hidden beneath these clothes? Enough was enough; I had to do something but what?

It all started with one little yellow caplet

Three months ago a friend introduced me to a new product. Many of you know I have been with a nutritional supplement company for a long time, fourteen years. Being very loyal to both the executives and products, I was not open to new ones. However, my husband wanted this new one so we bought it.

I started using it too. I am not one to loose out on anything. What happened? First, I started sleeping really well. After a few weeks, I noticed my energy level was up and the endurance was incredible. I still was not eating though and found I had highs and lows through out the day.

My skin improved and I lost a few pounds. That was encouraging so I continued. Serving our auto transport clients seemed easier. It certainly was not making any sense, how could a little yellow pill make shipping cars easier?

One day while handling a particularly angry customer, I figured out how that little caplet was helping…I was on an even keel. No mood swings, no anxiety. My heart was not racing as my frustration with the situation mounted. Amazingly, no tears fell from my eyes, no deep breathing and it just went so smooth.

Friends who share make a difference

The final piece of the puzzle came together when a business associate and I had the chance to sit and visit while in Chicago at a seminar. Renee explained to me that my glycemic level may be unbalanced and that is why I had highs and lows, no energy and was gaining weight. She made sense but it sounded excessively hard for someone like me to do.

What I found was a simple secret weapon diet that even I could use. Because I needed something easy, the grab and go, snacks worked perfectly for me. The amazing part is that I love it. It is simple, tastes awesome, and I am not hungry! I know that sounds weird, but for me never eating, I was hungry and ignored the pangs. Now my body knows a regular little snack is coming and all is well.

Every two hours I grab my snack and enjoy it with coffee or water. Guess what the amazing news is? In just under two weeks of using this secret weapon, I have lost two jean sizes. Not only that, but I crossed over from the Women's sizes to Misses sizes. I think that counts as more sizes lost, right? lol

Even auto transport brokers must eat

The moral to my story is this. Since I have started taking time for me and designing the life I thought I was designing I have more energy. Deep, sound sleep allows my body to rest, recuperate from the daily stresses running a full time business puts on it. Learning how to eat and use the secret weapon I found helped me to lose more than two sizes in less than two weeks all while eating delicious food and feeling the best I have felt in years.

Remember, YOU design your life. When starting your auto transport business make a schedule. Set the kitchen timer if need be, eat every two to three hours a small grab and go snack for endurance you will need to run a profitable auto transport business like I do.

We need your help! We can't do what we do without you. Leave your comment below and join in the discussion. We'd love to hear your thoughts.

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Here to Serve,
Carla J Gardiner
 
Head shot 3scarf cropped 150x150 Weekend Trip Ends At Beach AccessCarla J Gardiner is an ex-banker turned entrepreneur who built an auto transport brokerage and dispatch center from the ground up. With half a days training and little else Carla learned the business inside and out the hard way…by doing it. Her passion and purpose lies with the people she works with daily; the client, dispatcher, broker and truck driver. Her frustration within the industry has birthed a new division of her company; one to properly train, encourage and mentor other professionals in auto transport.
 
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Your Ideal Auto Transport Client, The Rewards of Listening

 

Your ideal auto transport client, the rewards of listening

You are so lucky

Today was a day of reflection for me. Looking back over the past year and a half my life looks very different today than it did then. Our auto transport business is thriving when others have closed their doors. Our part time health business is growing and the excitement is mounting as others achieve their dreams and goals, too. Was it so for either business last year? No.

Some may say we are lucky. Trust me luck has nothing to do with it. Hard work, perseverance and determination are the reason we are still in business today.

Why is it that we always want everything now? Who taught us that we are entitled to have what someone else has and not have to work for it? I used to think just like that, too. My desperation to make money overshadowed my desire to serve others. Once I learned that my focus was unbalanced, my learning process began to compound and make sense. The pieces of the puzzle started to fit together.

Chatting with a good friend the other day our conversation turned to just that thought. Both of our businesses are growing, we are beginning to earn a good income. That was not the case when we started though. What changed, what made the difference in our businesses between last year and today?

We both figured it out. What did we figure out? The rewards of listening to your ideal client will make your business a success. When you do not listen to what the market wants it will break you.

When you combine that one gold nugget with the "how to" of putting a business together online you will find your answer. What we figured out is that it takes each business owner a different amount of work and time to reach results.

Can someone else do the work for you? NO!!! For long-term success we all must learn the "how to" ourselves. We must put in the time, pay the piper ourselves in order to reap the rewards waiting in the shadows for us.

Figuring out what they want

When I first started our auto transport broker business, I knew nothing about the industry at all. The lingo in the auto transport industry is different. Some of the titles for jobs seemed to overlap it was so confusing. It would have been much easier had I known of someone who could coach me and show me the ropes.

However, the broker who sponsored me (provided the information to get started) did not have my best interest at heart. Her focus was unbalanced as well, centered purely on money. Coming from a banking background, I was naive to the dealings of the outside business world. My first year in business was like a Hollywood movie in the making. Several hours training and then tossed to the wolves. Now it was sink or swim.

The same went for our health networking business. Sure there was training, "Do it this way, say this, act like this, be like me and you will succeed". The problem was I did not have a personality like theirs. My goals and passion was different, I was not like them. Try as I might to conform to their methods it did not work for me. Later I would figure out that duplicating the system is what would work, not duplicating them.

Jigsaw puzzle

In both our auto transport and health businesses, we found similarities. Building a business is like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. Starting with the basics like giving our customers a free quote. That seemed simple enough, yet the sales did not come. What were we doing wrong?

Later we found that calculating the free quote was an art. Specific key elements comprised the perfect auto transport quote and this resulted in a sale, our first. Finding an auto transport carrier to transport that customer's car was like the next piece of the puzzle. Again, there were specific measures we needed to take to cover our business as well as the customer's car. Now that puzzle started making sense.

Finally, after fourteen years in network marketing the puzzle pieces became clear. The missing piece to success was not in the puzzle at all. I was the piece of the puzzle that needed to be refined. Our ideal client did not want what we were offering. Aha! That is why there were no sales.

Just like in our brokering business, some and not others desire the health business. By leaning in, listening to what others wanted instead of being so bull headed and narrow-minded, I heard what they were saying. I realized that the inner student within me was ready to learn.

It all takes time

What do auto transport, health and jigsaw puzzles have in common? They all take time to learn. In business, there are options available sometimes that can take the learning curve and toss it on its ear. By taking advantage of those options, like a business coach or trainer, you can shave years off the time it will take you to learn the intricate details. This can set your business up for faster success and bigger profits. It can also save you precious time and valuable assets allowing you to avoid the traps and pitfalls already experienced by those who have gone before you.

What my friend and I discovered in our conversation is this. We never thought a year and a half ago that we would be where we are today in business. The one thing we both learned and put into action was to listen to our ideal client and give them what they want. We learned it is not about us and our wants and desires. When we help others get what they want, serve with a pure and honest heart, our desires and goals happen because we helped someone else.

So, if you have a desire to build a business, whether it is in auto transport or a health business, lean in, listen to your ideal client. Decide to work with a business coach, avoid the pitfalls and traps waiting in the shadows for you. Set your business up for success and your hearts desire will come true, too.

We need your help! We can't do what we do without you. Please leave your comment below and join the discussion. Do me a favor? Share this with your FaceBook friends by clicking the "Like" button at the top of the page. Your Twitter friends won't want to miss out, be sure to "re-tweet", too. Thanks, you are the best.

Here to Serve,
Carla J Gardiner
 
Carla J Gardiner is an ex-banker turned entrepreneur who built an auto transport brokerage and dispatch center from the ground up. With half a days training and little else Carla learned the business inside and out the hard way…by doing it. Her passion and purpose lies with the people she works with daily; the client, dispatcher, broker and truck driver. Her frustration within the industry has birthed a new division of her company; one to properly train, encourage and mentor other professionals in healthy auto transport.
 
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New Auto Transport Business or Business As Usual

New Auto Transport Business or Business As Usual

Facing our fear head on

Over the past six years or so of building our auto transport business, I have spoken with thousands of prospects on the phone. Each day brings new types of people into my life in one way or another.

Having always worked in customer service talking with people over the phone is nothing new. Except today was different, we hosted a conference call and I was the guest speaker. That was different; I was scared out of my wits.

My stomach tied in knots. I was weepy all day long for no apparent reason. Answering many phone calls, my normal tone and service came through just fine. What was the matter with me?

Paralyzed with fear it hit me. This fear was about how this conference call would turn out. Would I give them what they wanted? I wondered if they would like me as a person? Where did these doubts come from? Do you suppose it is resistance?

Finally, my coach's voice rose up from the recesses of my brain. Sandi emphasizes that we need to FOCUS! It is NOT about YOU.

She was right; this conference call is about helping those that have reached out in desperation. They want to get their most pressing questions answered about auto transport brokering. They want what I did not get; they want to be sure, they are making the right choice in business before jumping off that bridge.

All right, it was time. It was time to call the number and begin. (Deep breath)

Time flies by when you are prepared

As my fingers dialed the phone, well actually punched the keys (can you tell I am still shaking and old school) I fumbled to find the right number. Instant Tele-seminar emailed me the link, why can I not find it now.

Setting my Outlook Calendar to remind me of the time, I checked it regularly. Regardless if a client calls came in, I did not want to answer and get tied up only to be late to my own call. That part of my day went very well.

It was 3:30 PM, thirty minutes before the call began and there is a knock at the door. Who could it be the UPS deliveryman? Maybe it is someone unfamiliar with our area and they need directions.

No, it is neither. It is my mom who lives next door. She has pictures of my great-nephew to give to me. Adorable as they are and appreciative as I am it interrupted my schedule. The meditation I had done earlier flew out the window. These types of interruptions happen all the time while working from a home office.

It was a nice break to get my mind off the butterflies multiplying in my stomach. The nervous reaction of tears falling concerned her. The oldest of her children, I am the strong one and tears are rare to be seen falling down my cheeks. I explained what I was doing and why.

She smiled and said, "It is no different than standing in the front of the room giving a demonstration like you did in 4-H. isn't it the same as giving a business presentation for your vitamin company? You will do just fine. Take a deep breath and start". With a hug and a kiss on the cheek out the door, she went leaving me to face my fear.

There will always be firsts

The crackle of the phone line indicated I was in. As I said hello others responded in kind. Fumbling to find the right control in the seminar control panel, we chatted to break the ice. Callers introduced themselves and mentioned what state they were calling from.

After introductions, I told them we would be recording this call. Go to a quiet place and grab a piece of paper and pen because there was a ton of information to cover all within an hour. With the recording started, lecture mode chosen I started with my personal story.

Ten minutes into the call something made me question if the recording was right. Clicking back into group call, I asked if they had heard anything, I had said. Across the board the answer was NO. Great, now what would I do?

My instant reaction was laughter. Actually, it was more of a very nervous giggle, but I hoped that they could understand. Within minutes, we continued the call in a group setting asking them to hold all questions to the end.

Finally, on a roll, my throat started to get dry. Thanks to my coach, sharing that she always had peppermint water sitting by her phone when she talked to keep her voice crisp and clear. Yes, it worked.

As anything we do for the first time, it went so-so. Doing my best to control the perfectionist in me I patted myself on the back and said well done. I know that the next call will be better. Each time we overcome our fear and conquer it, we become stronger and more confident.

The same will happen for our coaching students who were on that call. Once they make the decision to go for it, the rest will get easier. There will always be a first for everything, one first client, one first booking, and one first phone call. I still remember the first dispatch call that secured the first dollar our auto transport business made.

By facing my fear of speaking to those interested in becoming an auto transport broker on the call another level of confidence rose within me. The next call will be easier, more relaxed and hopefully my technical skills will improve, too.

We need your help! If you have gained insight with any business tips, life lessons or plain old good stories, drop a short post to your Facebook friends; better yet, use the share buttons at the top of this page. You can bet they will enjoy and thank you, too!wink smile Weekend Trip Ends At Beach Access

 
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Here to Serve,
Carla J Gardiner
 
Head shot 3scarf cropped 150x150 Weekend Trip Ends At Beach AccessCarla J Gardiner is an ex-banker turned entrepreneur who built an auto transport brokerage and dispatch center from the ground up. With half a days training and little else Carla learned the business inside and out the hard way…by doing it. Her passion and purpose lies with the people she works with daily; the client, dispatcher, broker and truck driver. Her frustration within the industry has birthed a new division of her company; one to properly train, encourage and mentor other professionals in auto transport.
 
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