Today is the beginning of a New Year, and I always view that as an opportunity for a fresh start. I’ve heard from a lot of therapists this year who are struggling in their practice. Most of them blame it on the economy. Yes, the economy has been bad….in my rural North Carolina county, we have the second highest unemployment rate in the state. I live in a small town of 4000 people, and the entire population of our county, which is the largest area-wise in NC, is about 60,000. There are numerous foreclosures in the newspaper every day, and few job listings. In spite of that, my business had the best year so far in the 7 years since we opened and I exceeded my goal of getting 365 new clients this year by more than 100, so I really can’t buy into the “bad economy” theory where massage is concerned. In fact, I think when people are stressed out over the economy, a massage is still an inexpensive method of wellness, or a treat for those who view it as such. I think people who couldn’t afford to take a vacation this year got a few massages instead, based on my client experiences. I’d like to share a few words of advice that I think works for anyone who is willing to take it. I’m not saying you’ll be rich by the end of the year. I’m saying that adopting some new habits will improve your circumstances.
1. Get Organized. Yesterday on New Year’s Eve, I posted on my Facebook page that I spent the morning packing up my files from 2010 and getting my file cabinet ready for 2011 with fresh new folders. I’m a big believer in organization. I am a follower of Suze Orman, the financial advisor, and the one thing she says that sticks in my mind is that “Clutter in your home and office is a sign of clutter in your financial life.” Amen. I think I can attribute a good bit of my success as a business person to being organized. Someone asked me yesterday if I could teach them to be organized. All I can say to that is really very simple, it just takes a little effort. I keep a folder in the back of my appointment book labeled “Due Bills.” Anytime a bill arrives, it goes there. I check that folder daily and I pay them on the due date. I could pay them the day they arrive, but then I wouldn’t have the use of that money…and I believe I should be able to use it as long as I can. I don’t pay late, because I don’t want any late charges. As soon as the bill is paid, the check stub is stapled to the invoice, and it goes in a file. My files are labeled for advertising, rent, taxes, utilities, in alphabetical order, and the folders are in hanging files. That way, at the end of the year, you remove the folders, file them neatly in a box in alphabetical order, and put in new folders for the new year. Mission accomplished.
2. Track Your Advertising. Why spend money on something that doesn’t give you a good return on investment? For the first five years I was in business, I kept a log on my desk with a column for every venue I was advertising in, and one column labeled “referrals.” EVERY person who came in was asked where they heard about my business. It’s not necessary to do it for five years; one year is enough to give you a good idea of what’s working and what isn’t. If you’ve spent money on weekly ads in the newspaper and only gained three people from it, it’s time to let that go and spend your money elsewhere. Don’t keep throwing away money on something that isn’t working.
3. Analyze Your Expenses. I get a lot of office supplies at Staples, and anytime you get more than $50 worth they give you free shipping, so that’s convenient. It was so convenient that I used to order everything from them, including toilet paper and paper towels. One day when I realized I was about to be out of toilet paper, I went to a janitorial supply place in town and was shocked to find that a case of toilet paper was less than half the price of what I had been paying at Staples. DUH! Lesson learned. Shop around for the best price. Scrutinize your bills and your bank statements every month, too. While most of those things are computer generated, there is a human somewhere punching in the numbers, and they’re just as apt to make a mistake as the next person. I have found mistakes that saved me a big chunk of money, including getting bank charges removed etc, by carefully scrutinizing every bill that comes in. You also have to shop around for services. If you’re paying $30 a month to lease a credit card machine, you shouldn’t be paying a penny. Any reputable company will GIVE it to you as long as you are using their processing service. Look around for the best rates you can get on everything. Spending a little time doing so can save you a huge chunk in the long run. READ MORE…..