Save Money and Time with These End of the Year Tasks

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How is it possible we’ve reached the end of 2017 already? Why does it seem like the years zoom past us faster than the previous ones did?

As we marvel at how quickly time passes, we, as small business owners will be wise to do some end-of-year clean up and planning tasks to help us accomplish a few things:

  • Spend time now to save time later.
  • Spend money now to possibly save money both this year and next year.
  • Review our efforts to maximize our effectiveness – and our successes – in the new year.

See how many of these tasks make sense for you:

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If an Advocate Launches in the Forest, and No One Hears….

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Consider Bertha.

Bertha has been knitting since learning how at age 12. She’s a wonderful knitter! She has been knitting for decades – scarves, sweaters, hats, gloves and mittens, socks,  you name it – then giving her creations away to friends, relatives, even grandbabies of friends. Everyone who knows Bertha recognizes her superb knitting skills.

Because of her extensive experience, she considers herself to be a professional. Her passion is knitting! So last year, Bertha decided to open a business as a knitting teacher. After all, as much as she knows about knitting, she knows she’ll be a great teacher!

After doing some research, Bertha joined an online organization that supports knitting teachers. She has found a ton of information there, and loves to connect with other knitting teachers in the discussion forum.

Most importantly, she made sure she was listed in the Knitting Teacher Directory – then sat back and waited for her phone to ring.

And waited. And waited. And waited.

But – Bertha’s phone rarely rang. Now she’s upset. Why don’t more people call her to teach them to knit? Only one person has inquired, and that was a friend’s daughter, who she decided to teach for free.

Bertha hasn’t made a dime.

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Open Enrollment – Confusion Spells Opportunity

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What a MESS Open Enrollment is this year!  No matter where your health insurance comes from – an employer, the Obamacare exchanges, or Medicare – it’s changed up, switched up, and more confusing than it has ever been.

YOU, as an independent health or patient advocate or care manager live (and fight) in this world of “let’s make money from patients even if we have to deny the services they need” world. You know what it’s like having to get a treatment, or claim, or hospitalization approved for someone who has inadequate insurance coverage. You know what it’s like when they ask you to help them get a bill reduced, or when the doctor they have been seeing for years suddenly won’t accept their insurance anymore. You know what it’s like when they realize that the hospital they were rushed to in an ambulance isn’t even in their insurance network.

You understand their confusion. You may even be confused yourself.

This year we’re going to experience the added confusion of the changes the new administration in Washington has made, including reduced subsidies, reduced Open Enrollment period, and the resulting upset when people find out their current coverage is no longer being offered (several of the largest insurers have dropped out of the ACA marketplaces). And that’s just Open Enrollment. What’s going to happen when the reality of 2018 sets in, and we all have to function under the new rules?

But – here’s the good news. We are business owners!  As such, we never hear negativity in the word “confusion.” Instead, when we hear the word “confusion” – we hear OPPORTUNITY!

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Stop the Insanity! Instead Try These Baby Steps: Learning to Ask for Money

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Long-time readers of this blog know my frustration over newly-minted private, independent advocates volunteering their time as a way to prepare to be professional advocates.

Newbie advocates cite two major reasons for doing their advocacy work for free:

  1. They are afraid / reluctant / don’t have enough confidence to talk about money and ask for payment.
  2. They feel sorry for the prospective client, and figure it won’t take too much time to help them.
  3. … both of the above.

The problem is, doing volunteer advocacy as a way to start an independent practice is the very best way to put yourself out of business. Growing a business is all about making sure your income is more than your outgo. You can start your business – no problem!  But if you can’t ask for money, and you don’t learn how to, then it won’t be long before you lose your business.

(Can you imagine a lawyer not expecting to be paid?  Or your tax guy?  Or even your hairdresser?)

The consequences are dire for both you and others:  if you only ever do the work for free, then not only have you lost all that time, effort, and money you invested in getting your practice started, but you also fail all those (hundreds? thousands of?) people you might have helped in the future if you had been successful.

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You Can’t Do Life, or Business, Without Plan B

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You know Plan B. Plan B is your go-to option when what you thought would work, didn’t.

It’s the answer to the question, “What will you do when life gets in the way?”

I was reminded of Plan B last week when, after days of internet problems due to some new construction in the area, the internet was finally stable, and I had taken a very relieved deep breath and settled into a nice big project online….

…When BAM! Down went the internet again! Only this time the outage was caused by some workers next door digging up the edge of the neighbor’s garden, and slicing our underground internet wiring in two. Poof! And it wasn’t like they could fix it! Of course not! (Not to mention how rude they were about the whole thing – another story for another day…. )

You can imagine what came next. Since the outage was caused by a crew that was digging, who had not gotten permission to dig (which I’ve since learned is against the law!), there was absolutely no hurry on the part of our internet service provider to fix it. It wasn’t their fault, and we were only one customer. They had other bigger outages affecting many more customers to attend to. When I phoned, they said they would put us on the schedule for next Wednesday…. WHAT? OMG!

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