By Eliabel Munoz-Fauth
It can reasonably be said that no individual or business entity could possibly have been prepared to deal with the magnitude of the Covid-19 pandemic. So many of us were touched directly by the loss of loved ones, loss of income, personal health issues, and other socio-economic concerns. Now that we are in what one might call the peri-pandemic stage of this unprecedented event we can start assessing how small business fared. Before the pandemic hit in 2020, small businesses were either stretched thin on the verge of failing, some were just maintaining, and others were thriving and robust. But how are they doing now?
This article is the first in a series that will catalog how local small business entrepreneurs managed to navigate roadblocks, challenges, revamp, and make more meaningful connections as they endeavored to maintain their businesses afloat during the Covid era.
Good News Roofing is a BBB accredited business with an A+ rating based in Kyle, TX. and is owned by Stephen Burnham. Its service area includes Kyle, San Marcos, Austin, Lockhart, Wimberley, New Braunfels, Round Rock, Pflugerville, Georgetown, San Antonio, and all surrounding areas.
Recently, I sat down to conduct my first interview for this series with Brook Vallejo, Project Manager for the company.
Q: How long has Good News Roofing been in operation?
A: The company was bought by Stephen Burnham about 7 years ago. It was under different ownership for 7 years prior to that.
Q: Does your roofing construction company operate seasonally or year-round?
A: Well, normally our peak period for roofing construction is from March through June but we are engaged in working with insurance companies in the various stages of the claims process throughout the year.
Q: Would you say that Covid-19 and the inherent restrictions that came with it impacted your business?
A: We certainly experienced short-term challenges due to the shut-down restrictions in the early months. Once the state of Texas deemed roofing construction an essential business, we were more or less back to business as normal.
Q: Did your business apply for any government-assisted loans during the early months of 2020?
A: Thankfully, we didn't have to and were able to financially recover from the initial shortfall.
Q: What other challenges did you face as a business?
A: Initially, we were affected by a materials shortage and price increases. That's still true to a certain extent even in 2021 and it's an ongoing issue.
According to an update by the NRCA (National Roofing Contractors Association) issued September 20, 2021, roofing material shortages and price increases were explained as follows:
Q: Other than the actual construction of roofs, were there any areas of your business operations that changed in 2020?
A: Stephen was very active in industry related forums on Facebook where he got valuable marketing tips and updates on the industry during this time period. For marketing purposes, we maintain and update a professional website online and a Facebook business page but we also do a lot of marketing to insurance companies in central Texas. We had always used a direct in-office, meet and greet approach before Covid hit. Because of Covid, we had to completely switch to a new approach.
Q: Can you give me some specifics of your new approach?
A. We wanted to remain respectful of the safety concerns of those we did business with in all our areas of interaction. We have up to 60 insurance companies that we deal with on a regular basis. Without being able to meet with insurance reps in person we switched to conducting a lot more phone interactions and added an email marketing component during 2020. Staying digitally connected became a bigger focus for us during 2020.
Q: Could you elaborate a bit on your new email marketing approach?
A. We set up interactive games along with the game criteria online and this proved to be a great way to stay connected with insurance staff. We also conducted a recipe contest with them that turned out to be another fun way to connect and build camaraderie over the topic of food preparation. We then conducted a recipe taste test to decide on the top 3 prize winners. The Good News staff conducted the taste test and we video taped the results as well as the winners being awarded their prizes. Overall, it became a great way to stay connected so we plan to do more digital marketing in the future.
Q: Were there any other challenges you faced in 2020?
A: Yes, one of our biggest challenges was in coordinating and maintaining an effective relationship with our crew. Stephen Burnham, the owner, has always maintained a reputation for being a local contractor who is reliable and trustworthy. As a small company, he doesn't have multiple crews which might help with scheduling jobs like the bigger companies out there. However, we have built a long standing working relationship with one large main and experienced crew that we're very loyal to and truly value as members of our Good News Roofing family. This in turn engenders trust and dependability and they consistently turn out quality and outstanding work. With the help of our dedicated crew we have earned a Super Service Award on Angie's List as well as maintained our A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
This was the first interview in our series and was reflective of how one business dealt with the many challenges presented by the pandemic. Within the next few months, I hope to follow up with other small business owners in Central Texas. If you are a small business owner who would like to be interviewed for this Covid related small business series, please send an email to efauth@vipvirtualoffice.
By Sheila Olson
While some older adults are happy to put their professional life behind them when they retire, others might find that they miss the steady income and the satisfaction at the end of a day’s work. With remote work becoming more popular, older adults now have the option of starting home-based businesses in retirement and bringing in some extra cash flow. Starting a home-based business doesn't require a hefty investment and is often more comfortable for retirees with mobility issues.
Nowadays, many older adults like to travel or live abroad during retirement. Some choose to become digital nomads, which HubSpot describes as people who can conduct business while traveling the world, as long as they have their laptop and a Wi-Fi connection. Whether you’re staying in one place or traveling the world in your golden years, here are a few tips courtesy of VIP Virtual Office to help you get your home-based business off the ground.
Need digital marketing services to attract, engage, and
convert customers for your home-based business?
VIP Virtual Office can help! Call (512) 297-9803
Do What You Love
One of the advantages of working post-retirement is that it need not look anything like what you did in your previous life. With the technology available today, you can choose practically any profession. Whether that is crunching numbers as a freelance bookkeeper or tapping into your creative side as a writer, focus on what brings you joy.
It is never too late to make a career change, either. Want to pursue a degree in Accounting? Enroll online via an accredited program, and you can earn your bachelor's or master’s degree at your own pace. Want to try your hand at technical writing? A certificate in medical or scientific writing can open up doors for you to practice professionally.
Write Up a Business Plan
If you are ready to start your home-based business, you will need to write a business plan. According to NerdWallet, you'll want to include a few business categories, including your expected expenses, your marketing plan, your financial projections, and more. You will also want to come up with a couple of different methods for finding clients and customers.
Even if you need to modify your original business plan along the way, remember to begin with a solid idea of what service or product you are going to sell, your sales method, and who your target customers will be. If you want to go the digital nomad route, figure out the average cost of living in your destination to estimate your expenses.
Get Connected to Clients
As the new owner of a home-based business, you’ll also need to start drumming up some sales. Whether you are designing websites, offering consulting services, or running marketing campaigns, it’s time to find some clients.
You can begin by looking at remote job boards, reaching out to family and friends, advertising online and locally, or reaching out to people you used to work with to let them know that you’d be happy to take on some projects for them as an independent contractor. Digital nomads may want to connect with potential clients at co-working spaces.
Meet With an Accountant
Now that you are self-employed, your tax situation will be different. And even if you become a digital nomad, you still have to file your taxes as an American citizen. When you’re running a home-based business, trying to file your taxes can be complicated. To make the process simpler, keep organized records of all of your sales and business expenses. Ideally, you may want to meet with an accountant who has experience working with digital nomads to show you the ropes.
More than ever before, older adults can choose to spend their retirement life the way they want after they leave the traditional workplace. If you decide to work from home during retirement, the growing digital nomad community will increasingly be a source of support and guidance. In today's marketplace, there are so many remote opportunities available for retirees. You can continue to earn supplemental income, achieve new goals, and build a career.
Sheila Olson is a freelance blogger and has been a personal trainer for five years. She created Fit Sheila to spread the word about her fitness philosophy.
Are you feeling more stressed since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic this year? I know I felt more stress and anxiety, especially during the early weeks, when I was suffering from an overload of information on this unprecedented event.
That said, I am lucky enough to live in a country setting where I could watch the annual display of Spring flowers and listen to all sorts of birdsong as the world quickly slipped into the throes of pandemic chaos. As an avid birdwatcher and lover, I was delighted to discover Why Bird Music is Great For Relaxation, Stress, And Anxiety, an article written by my friend Dale Garret from the UK. In this informative read on the benefits of bird sounds as part of sound therapy, he says
Our daily lives are filled with buzzing people, bright billboards, cars hooting and rocketing past – all part of the urban jungle most of us call home.
Let's face it. Anxiety and stressors will always show up in our lives in one form or another. As busy entrepreneurs, a lot of us have learned a few techniques for dealing with stressful events. And now, every time you hear a bird sing you might remember that birdsong is sound therapy for a stressed out world. Get out in nature, listen, and relax.
To read the entire article CLICK HERE.
About Dale Garret, Founder of Chipperbirds.com
By Elena Stewart
Do you feel like your city lacks certain amenities or services? If so, you might be considering starting your own local business to step up and meet those needs. But starting a business can be complicated, and if you’ve never explored entrepreneurship before, you might be wondering how to start the process! These resources will help you tackle everything from choosing the perfect storefront to landing your very first clients.
Outlining Your Business Idea
Wondering which type of business you should start? Got questions about budgeting for company expenses? These resources will help you nail down those details.
Investing in Your Company
Before you make a profit, you’ll need to invest in your business. Here are a few expenses you may need to finance before you begin offering products or services.
Now, it’s time to get the word out about your business! Here’s how to market your company online and within your community.
Opening Your Business
The day has arrived - you’re ready to officially launch! If you want to kick things off with a grand opening party, these tips will help you pull it off.
When you open a local business, you can jumpstart the changes that you want to see in your community. Running a small business in your own city is extremely rewarding, especially when you know that you’re making your area a better place to live! By referencing these resources, you’ll have no problem executing your vision.
Photo via Pexels
By Elena Stewart
One of the hardest things about the COVID-19 pandemic is that small businesses don’t have the same resources that major corporations have to fall back on. This is a challenge we’re all facing right now, but there is some good news. While we may not have the same resources, we have one thing big businesses can’t compete with: the ability to adapt and innovate quickly. This doesn’t mean that changing up how you do business is a piece of cake, which is why we’ve gathered some of the best resources out there to help you overcome the obstacles.
Overcoming Your Biggest Obstacles
The first thing many businesses should do is explore financing options to alleviate the strain of lost income. Then you can focus on the nitty gritty, like getting your team on board with remote work, providing a solution to meet customers’ needs, and reaching customers in a way they’ll really connect with.
This crisis will end, but when it does, things will not go back to business as usual. That’s why the smartest solutions are ones that meet current needs, but with the future in mind. Major corporations are too large to adapt as quickly as small business owners can. Use that to your advantage to make sure your business comes out of this crisis stronger than ever!
Photo credit: Pixabay
Elena is a certified life coach who offers one-on-one coaching to women and men to help them reach their full potential in their careers, in switching jobs or industries, becoming an entrepreneur, applying for a promotion, achieving work-life balance, and more. Visit her online at elenastewart.com.
In the summer of 2017, I had the great pleasure of spending two months in beautiful Arroyo Hondo just north of Taos. Living in Central Texas, I dread the summers where 100+ temperatures are the norm more than the exception. So I was super grateful to get this opportunity to spend the summer where I could look out every morning at the majestic Taos Mountains and enjoy the cool and dry temperatures of this wonderful location. Being only minutes from the cultural attractions available in Taos didn’t hurt either.
Northern New Mexico is a great place to take hikes in beautiful natural settings, a place to gain new inspiration and to make new friends. That summer was also something of a working vacation as I spent a portion of my time designing a new website for a client in the area. This turned out to be a unique opportunity to work with someone whom I would eventually realize I needed for my team.
Not only did I enjoy my work, but I enjoyed forming new friendships with some very interesting characters. One 87 year old artist comes immediately to mind. His breadth of experience and his gift as a master storyteller were truly inspiring. In addition to meeting the fabulous owners of the rental we stayed in, I also met several new local artists, an artisan soap maker, a Reiki practitioner, and two retired
environmentalists and hiking enthusiasts who also shared the gift of storytelling.
This part of New Mexico certainly attracts people with fascinating backgrounds and a desire to deepen their spiritual understanding. The mountains seem to wrap you in their welcoming arms and inspire you to be more of who you already are. I left there knowing I had gained more clarity as to how I could continue to support small business in today's economy.
I've known the struggles and challenges many entrepreneurs face when it comes to marketing. Marketing is often the function of a small business that gets the least amount of attention —especially in the early start up stages. I was lucky enough to have a huge interest in marketing when I started my first business so I was more than willing to invest heavily in my own training. Other entrepreneurs might invest in other areas of their business more heavily depending on their own strengths and interests. Often marketing suffers because of it.
My new approach to marketing and website design has had a two year gestation period where ideas were percolating steadily. In 2019, I will resume VIP operations and have it serve as a marketing resource center for emerging entrepreneurs and a gateway to VIP Biz Online and BizTempo Design.
And I owe it all to that marvelous place in the mountains outside of Taos for serving as the incubator for this new phase of VIP's development. Inspiration leads to motivation and on to continued innovation. Interestingly enough, the beautiful house that I stayed in during my extended stay that summer was named CASA de Cuentos by the owners. It translates to House of Stories and now in 2019, story has become the focal point of VIP's new services.
Stress affects millions of Americans every day, leaving us feeling out of control when it comes to our personal and professional lives. It can be difficult to get through those emotions and to the other side, where we can focus on setting and fulfilling goals. And when you’re an entrepreneur, that can have life-altering consequences. It’s important to think of the best ways to get feelings of stress and anxiety under control and to reduce activities that bring them on as much as possible. Staying organized will certainly help, especially if you work from home. It’s not always easy to separate business from personal matters when your office is located inside your house, but doing so is crucial for keeping stress at bay.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to make things a bit easier for yourself. Maximizing your productivity is essential, both so you can fit as much into a day as you can and so you’re not completely exhausted by the end of it. Having some downtime is crucial when you lead a busy life, so keep this in mind where your schedule is concerned.
Keep reading for a few tips on how to combat stress and anxiety when you’re a busy self-starter.
Design Your Home Office for Maximum Productivity
The space you work in should be clearly separated from your living area so there aren’t any distractions. Having the television on may seem like background noise that won’t keep you from working, but it can actually be a huge distraction that draws your attention away from your job. In addition, natural lighting can be a wonderful addition to any workspace, as it helps keep your circadian rhythm on track so you can get better sleep at night.
Treat Your Body Right
It’s all too easy to neglect your body and mind when you’re busy with work, but it’s essential to make sure you take care of yourself no matter what’s going on in your professional life. Getting daily exercise — even if it’s only 30 minutes of activity — and eating right are great starts that can help you stay on track in every way, so look for ways you can get active even when you’re busy. Keep a yoga mat in your car so you can practice some poses on your lunch hour, or go for a brisk walk with the dog after dinner. Cook up a few healthy meals for the week and freeze them so you can eat well even when you’re pressed for time.
Create a Routine
Creating a routine can help you stay focused and energized no matter how busy the day-to-day grind gets, even if it’s only a morning schedule that allows you to get everyone ready and out the door smoothly. You might focus on things like responding to emails at the beginning of the day, then take care of purchase orders and invoices before lunch. The more you can introduce order into your day, the easier it will be for you to get things done stress-free.
Recognize When You Need a Break
We’ve all had moments when work is piling up and it seems impossible to take time off, but it’s crucial to make sure you take breaks when you start to feel overwhelmed. In fact, taking a timeout well before that point is encouraged, even if you have to schedule it. Keep in mind that you don’t have to go on vacation; simply walking away from the computer for 10 minutes to clear your head will suffice when things are super stressful.
Staying busy as an entrepreneur is something that simply comes with the territory, but it doesn’t have to go hand-in-hand with a decline in your mental health. Look for ways you can feel better each day, including changing your surroundings if necessary. Doing so can help you focus on the most important things at the right moments.
Jennifer McGregor is a premed student, is passionate about health and wellness topics and would like her writing to help make the world a better, healthier place. She co-created a Public Health Library to write about health and wellness topics and to create a forum for sharing reputable health and medical information.
Get Your Gig Off On The Right Foot
By guest blogger Lucy Reed
October 09th, 2017
TRANSCENDING THE BASICS
Original Post - 11/8/2016
According to Maslow's original Hierarchy of Needs theory of motivation there are 5 stages in our personal development that motivate us as demonstrated in his classic pyramid.
I started thinking that you can look at Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (HON) and relate it to the motivational stages that a small business owner goes through as well. So let's have a little fun as I take you through my interpretation of Maslow's HON for small business owners.
Physiological - The primary motivation is to meet your own and often your family's basic physiological need to have food on the table and have a roof over your head while you chase this wild wonderful dream of business ownership. This may go on for years while you feverishly dream of creating the latest must have service or product.
Safety - You've got this great business idea, service or product nailed down and now you're putting loads of energy/and "some" money into developing it within certain "safety" parameters. Maybe you're still on someone's payroll doing something you hate until you can get your small business off the ground. Many of us get stuck here forever but understand that it is a choice. Fear and the need for safety are great motivators and can seriously keep you locked in to your comfort/safety zone. However, it does seriously impede personal growth.
Love/belonging - Here's where you've made it to the part where you've finally manifested some type of business and your passion has sparked a new source and level of recognition/acceptance from your tribe - your new customers, family, and friends. Think Facebook! As a first step in "getting the love", you've created your Facebook business page and you're off and running. That's a wonderful feeling but you may still be hampered by a lack of confidence when it comes to perceiving the real value of your business and getting your unique selling proposition to come across in your marketing efforts.
Esteem - At this stage, you've had a few successes in delivering your product or service and have started to get some positive feedback and nice accolades from your customers. Sure it's a great feeling at first to get this new found respect from others but if the need for status, recognition, fame, prestige, and attention are all you want then your business and possibly your important relationships may suffer along the way. For those willing to go further still, there is a higher level of need that results in the kind of self-respect that comes only when your sense of inner competence and self-esteem is based on your own experience. That comes from knowing you're doing the very best you can for all the right reasons.
Self-Actualization - Basically this means that you've arrived at the full realization of your true business potential. You've tweaked, improved and revamped your business when needed to get to a level that fully utilizes all your skills and reflects your best quality of service.
But wait there's more! Much later in life Maslow added another stage to his motivational model of psychology and that was self-transcendence. By then he had come to understand that the self only becomes truly actualized when it achieves a level of self-transcendence - in giving itself to some higher goal outside oneself, in altruism and spirituality.
All of this was my way of entertaining myself with an idea this morning and if I have somehow tapped into something that sounds familiar to you and that you can relate to that's great.
This rather lengthy blog article was my way of saying that if you've visited my website lately, you may have noticed that it is in a state of flux. There's a good reason for that. It is in A State Of Flux!
But for me that's a good thing. My state of flux indicates I'm busily revamping my business to be more in line with my highest interests and where I perceive I can offer the best service to my clients.
Many small business owners have a wonderful product or service which is the mainstay of their business but may lack the supportive systems in place to keep growing their business. This is a state I can relate to as a small business owner and is the reason I'm intrigued by the process of developing systems and offerings to my customers that are effective and relatively easy to implement.
Why does it have to be easy? Because if it's not easy and proven to be effective it won't get used.
So stick with me as I redesign my website to more accurately reflect what my service is all about including some brand new free pdfs that you'll be able to download to help you in your business.
So keep a look out for this sign that we're back and ready to assist you in your small business.
Eliabel Munoz-Fauth, writer, entrepreneur, musician, and humanist