How (and Why) to Mitigate Distractions While Working From Home

Eliminating distractions while working from home — especially with kids running around belting Frozen II and housemates doing mid-day workouts — might not be entirely feasible. However, it is still possible to mitigate distractions. After all, they’re hurting you — and your business — more than you might realize. You might have heard the popular statistic that you need an average of 25 minutes to get back to your original task after a distraction.

But there’s more affecting your productivity than that. We looked through some of the research behind the psychology of distractions and found some interesting insights:

  • Distractions have a demonstrably negative effect on our ability to perform, even when the distractions had little significance.
  • People who consider themselves at multi-tasking may be worse at moving from task to task than others.
  • Even if you attempt to “move on” to another work-related task, you may find yourself distracted by the first task of your day.

With that in mind, let’s dig deeper into the studies and find some better strategies for managing distractions:

1. Too Much Information Has a Detrimental Impact on Performance

In one UK study, researchers had volunteers carry out problem-solving tasks in a quiet environment—then tested them while they were “bombarded with new emails and phone calls.” Even though the volunteers didn’t have to respond to any of these messages, simply being aware that they were taking place had a significant impact on their ability to concentrate.

The result was that performance suffered. The average IQ dropped by about 10 points.

The conclusion is that not only are interruptions distracting, but if you allow distractions to weigh on your mind in even the slightest way, they can have a detrimental impact on performance. Given that volunteers didn’t have to respond to any email or phone call and still found them distracting, we can only imagine the impact distractions have on us when the emails and phone calls do need responses.

So try having an open dialogue with those you live with and creating a chart that hangs outside of your workspace where it will be seen that alerts housemates of your current work status. It may include options such as “available,” “busy,” “in a meeting” or “do not disturb unless facing a MAJOR emergency”.

2. Switching Between Tasks Takes Up More Energy Than You Think

A 2009 study at the University of Minnesota found the existence of what they dubbed “attention residue.” They defined it as the delay that occurs when someone sets aside one task and takes up another.

It turns out that the mental task of switching gears takes more energy and attention than we might have thought. And that led to some interesting conclusions, including the “surprising result that heavy media multitaskers performed worse on a test of task-switching ability.”

That’s right: even experienced multitaskers aren’t as good at switching between tasks as they might have thought. In fact, they may even be worse than the population at large.

This should lead most people to reconsider their approach to multitasking and asking the following questions:

  • Am I really a good multitasker, or do I just multitask often?
  • How long does it take me to “switch gears,” and do I often put off work because of the energy required to start a new task?
  • Where are some areas in which I might combine activities to minimize “switching gears” and improving my overall concentration?

These questions will help you identify some of the habits that may be leading you to lose concentration as you move from task to task. So whether you claim to be a good multitasker or not, try scheduling out your day in the early morning to help limit the amount of times you have to switch tasks and accommodate for the needs of those you live with.

3. The First Problem You Focus On Tends to Get Most of Your Brain Power

They call it “cognitive fixation.” If you like to multi-task, you may find that the first activity during your day is the one that retains most of your attention later on, even while you’re attempting to give 100% of your attention to something new.

This is evidence in favor of the strategy of attacking your most important tasks first. If you were to work on a big work project in the morning and only take on lighter menial tasks later in the day, part of your mind will continue to work on that “big” work project that you started off with. This can work to your benefit, so long as you’re aware of the effect and schedule your day accordingly.

4. Distractions are Disproportionately Affecting the Young

Millennials and Gen Zers—those most affected by the digital lifestyle—are also the groups that report the highest rates of distraction, with a rate of 74% identifying themselves as frequently distracted. This suggests something other studies have observed; the multi-tasking demands of the digital lifestyle have a detrimental effect on our ability to concentrate, which means that strategies for reducing social media usage may have long-term benefits for personal productivity and concentration.

One other reasons many of us may be suffering from distraction issues: using multiple devices at the same time can negatively affect self-control. So try to limit the number of devices you have within your reach while working from home. Allot yourself windows of time during the day — if needed — to check on certain devices.

5. Attention is a “Limited Resource”

Not only is our attention limited by the time we have in a day, but our energy is subject to the demands of being a living, breathing being. We simply don’t have as much energy to devote to willpower and attention as we’d like to have.

One study, as reported by Psychology Today, found that distractions eat into about 2 hours of our daily work lives. Given that our attention is a limited resource, the strategy of working on the most important task of the day as early as possible—while we still have the concentration to do it—may seem most effective.

One Reason to Use Distractions to Your Benefit

This post paints a very dire picture of the impact of distractions on our life. But if you can manage them effectively, you can sometimes use them to your benefit as well.

One study at Carnegie Mellon found that the regions of the brain that handle your decision-making process will still be in use even when you’re consciously focusing on something else. That means that sometimes, actively seeking distraction when you’re stuck on a problem can be a great way for you to relax, loosen up, and allow a solution to suddenly pop into your mind while you’re thinking about something else.

Otherwise, if you want to be productive while working from home, try to keep the distractions at a minimum (as much as possible), schedule out your day, and focus on your most important task of the day as soon as possible. Your calendar will thank you.

from The Grasshopper Blog – Insights for Entrepreneurs https://grasshopper.com/blog/Eliminating Distractions While Working From Home/
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The Future of Real Estate Investing

Climate change has led to so many natural disasters, which affects nearly everyone in some capacity. Whether people deal with hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes, or major forest fires, the threat of facing a natural disaster is greater than ever before.

As a result, many investors are looking into climate-resilient design and adaptations to protect their real estate. Not only does this help to keep homes and businesses functioning after a disaster but it also gives tenants peace of mind. This is an important step towards protecting valuable assets.

Assess Your Property’s Risk

You need to assess your property’s potential risk factor to determine the likelihood of it being struck by a natural disaster. Losing power effectively shuts a home or a business down and moving an AC unit to a higher floor can ensure that it will not be flooded and rendered useless. Adding additional cooling systems provides a backup if one fails.

It is critical to make sure that your property is resilient and suffers as little downtime as possible. Use a tool such as the climate change risk index to assess your property’s situation and plan ahead. If you lower the risk of your property being impacted by natural disaster, you are protecting your investment.

Adapt Your Property

There are many different ways that you can adapt your property to prepare for a natural disaster. Doing so will protect the value of your asset. For example, properties in hotter regions should have improved cooling capacity and reduced heat exposure. In fact, many native plants in these areas absorb heat and will reduce cooling costs.

When you are choosing an investment property, climate risks need to be a part of the process. Investing now to guard against what could happen will be more profitable in the long run as your property will be more desirable and usable.

Tech to Help Investors Plan for Climate-Related Damage

Tech companies such as Proptech are combining advanced mapping techniques with risk analysis to help investors examine the future impact of climate change on buildings. They can also help develop a plan to lower these risks.

The post The Future of Real Estate Investing first appeared on Jeff Klotz | Real Estate.

from Jeff Klotz | Real Estate https://jeffklotz.net/the-future-of-real-estate-investing/
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What Is the Role of a Real Estate Broker?

Most people who buy or sell a house will be dealing with a real estate broker at some point. There are some who opt to sell homes without the help of a real estate broker but this is certainly not considered the norm. What is the role of a real estate broker, though? Read on to understand a little bit about real estate brokers and why they’re so essential.

The Skills of a Real Estate Broker

The skills of a real estate broker will prove to be helpful whether you’re trying to buy a home or you’re selling a property. These professionals understand the real estate industry and they know what needs to be done to get the right results. Your broker knows all of the little quirks about the industry and is going to be able to keep the process going smoothly. Trying to do a real estate transaction without a broker would be significantly tougher than you likely realize.

Truthfully, the real estate industry is very complex. Only people who understand it will be able to get the best results. If you don’t work with your own real estate broker, then you’re likely going to be dealing with a real estate broker anyway on the other end of your transaction. It’s definitely best to have your own broker who will be looking out for your best interests and will try to get you a solid deal.

These experts are excellent at negotiation and they have so many other skills that will prove to be useful. Even just finding a home is simpler when you have a broker working closely with you. The process of buying a house becomes easier and selling a house does as well. Selling your home is a breeze when you have a professional helping to get it ready and marketing it to potential buyers.

In Closing

No matter what you’re trying to do, it’s going to pay to have a broker. Now that you have read a bit more about the skills of a broker, you understand that a broker’s role is to help to make the transaction go smoothly. They work in your best interests to get you the best deal on buying a home or selling a home too. You should contact a real estate broker today if you need assistance with any real estate-related matters.

from Jeff Klotz | Real Estate https://jeffklotz.net/what-is-the-role-of-a-real-estate-broker/
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SEM vs SEO vs PPC: What’s the Right Balance for Your Business?

SEM. SEO. PPC. What’s the best mix for your business?

The question is more complicated than it might first appear. After all, who wouldn’t want to optimize their SEM, SEO, and PPC efforts? But limited budgets, limited capabilities, and limited expertise can be obstacles—particularly if you’re stronger in one area than another. Let’s discuss what these phrases mean and how you can find the right mix for your own small business:

SEM vs. SEO vs. PPC: What’s the Difference?

If you’ve had enough acronyms thrown at you in your time in business to fill a bowl of alphabet soup, you can be forgiven if you sometimes miss the distinctions in these digital marketing terms. But let’s separate SEM, SEO, and PPC from each other and get really clear about what they are—and what you should expect from them.

SEM, or search engine marketing, is an umbrella term. It’s there for marketing efforts (both paid and organic) that are directed at boosting traffic from search engines. However, keep in mind that SEM, as an umbrella term, may sometimes be used to refer to PPC marketing in some contexts, which helps explain some of the confusion.

SEO, or search engine optimization, is a marketing strategy aimed at organic search. The concern here is how to improve your natural position in popular search engines without paying anything additional to said search engines. Yes, you can buy a position with PPC, but with SEO, you’re concerned about the quality of the links pointing to you, the quality of your content, and the relevance of your topics to the search queries that users are typing into Google. The goal is to create high-quality content that will continue to drive your SEO strategy in the future.

PPC, or pay per click advertising, is aimed exclusively at paid ads in search engines. In PPC advertising, you can bid on certain keywords to buy your traffic. But it’s not always as simple as that. PPC often requires that you build high-converting advertisements to ensure that the search engines aren’t just putting anyone with money at the top of the listings; they still want to serve their users.

What is SEO?

Let’s dive into greater detail on SEO. Search engine optimization is the art of designing your page and your content for targeted placement in organic search results—no paid advertising required. Although the search engine algorithms are highly sophisticated, SEO remains a top priority for many business owners; 61% of marketers list improving SEO and rankings as their top goal.

Today’s top search engines include Google, Bing, and Yahoo, with many of the content marketing and internet marketing campaigns aiming at Google and Bing. You’ll find that the majority of your SEO efforts will tend to focus on Google, thanks to its dominant place in the market.

The beauty of SEO is that any business can compete for organic listings; you just have to have the most relevant, valuable information available for any search query. Sound difficult? You don’t have to start creating the world’s greatest blog posts just yet. Search Engine Land has a guide for small businesses so you can begin optimizing your site as soon as possible. From on-page SEO to technical SEO, there are always small improvements you can make to give your site a leg up on the competition.

Here are some of the other terms you’ll want to be familiar with in SEO:

  • SERPs: Search engine results page.
  • Backlinks: The links pointing to your site, used by search engines to determine your page’s popularity and relevance.
  • Crawlers: Automated bots that search engines use to scan your site and log the latest information, which they can then use in their search results. Crawlers might dig through your meta descriptions, title tags, and on-site SEO to get a gauge of what your site is and what your business has to offer.
  • Technical SEO: search engine optimization focused on the technical aspects of your website, not necessarily popularity and relevance.
  • Link building: The practice of promoting your site to as many potential linking avenues as possible in an effort to drive up your relevance. These days, legitimate link building practices tend to be those that are mostly organic, such as guest posting on popular blogs.

What is PPC?

PPC has potential benefits for small businesses in that it offers an opportunity to buy your way to traffic if you have the budget. Small businesses that need growth now will find that PPC generates the quickest results when it comes to getting on the first page, while content and SEO tend to require focus on the long-term future.

To optimize your PPC, you’ll want to make keyword research a hallmark of the way you market. Tools like the SEM Rush PPC tool will help you identify those keywords that are most relevant to your business, all while driving a substantial amount of traffic. Google Adwords, the most popular PPC platform, also has plenty of tools for you to use as you research. But don’t forget that Bing also has keyword tools you can use to gauge interest in keywords.

With PPC, your goal is simple: combine relevance and traffic. Relevance is how well you can answer the “question behind the query.” In other words, relevance is how well your website answers what customers are really thinking. Someone typing in “vacations,” for example, may be looking to book a travel agency. But your travel agency business won’t do well by serving those who were only curious about vacation statistics.

With search ads, your goal should be to get as much relevance as possible, because you’re going to need to optimize your click-through rates.

When comparing SEO vs SEM and the strategies listed above, you’ll find PPC can produce the most immediate returns. After the proper keyword research, a PPC campaign can quickly give you access to a large amount of traffic that is highly targeted to your keyword and your business—that is, if you’ve put in the time to ensure that your business lines up with the search queries you’re looking for.

How to Strike a Balance Between PPC and SEO

There’s no single answer for whether search marketing, SEO or PPC is best for you right now. But if you start with competition research, you should notice opportunities for advancement—whether that comes in specific keywords, sponsored ads, brand awareness, or even simply building a better landing page. Look at your budget and understand where PPC and SEO most help businesses—and make your investments accordingly.

from The Grasshopper Blog – Insights for Entrepreneurs https://grasshopper.com/blog/Striking the Right Balance between SEM SEO and PPC/
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Tips When Preparing to Sell a Real Estate Investment

When you own a real estate investment, it is important to take care of it throughout the process. In fact, it is best if you have a plan in place for the time when you will sell the property. Having a plan will help to ensure that you stay on top of things that may be difficult to handle later. Follow these tips so that you are prepared when you sell your property.

Management Companies or Independent Contractors

It is important to maintain a good relationship with people who work for you from a management company to the landscaper. These people will lose a contract when your property sells and you want them to be on your side. Let them know that you will consider them in the future for another property and that you will recommend them to the buyer. That will keep them on your team throughout the sale.

Codes, Certifications, and Contracts

If your property isn’t up to code or is lacking mandatory certifications, the closing could be delayed until they are obtained. If there are any open contracts, you will need to buy them out or the buyer may be required to assume them. The best policy is to make sure that you take care of this before you decide to sell your property.

Condition

The condition of your property is what helps it to sell. You may want to keep your expenses low but you should make sure that the property looks nice from the street. Landscaping, well-placed lighting, and cleanliness will attract buyers. Inside the house, you want to clear out any clutter, touch up paint, and repair any noticeable blemishes in the walls or floors.

Improvements

If you are selling a property, you don’t want to do any major improvements such as replacing the roof or major appliances. These are very expensive items and you will not get the return on them if you are selling in the near term. In this case, you are better served to have allowances for the new owner to initiate these projects than you are to put the money in yourself.

Taxes

Keep in mind that when you sell a property, you will have possible tax consequences. A tax professional can help you determine how to handle this, whether it means investing in another property or deferring taxes to the future. A professional will have these answers so be sure to consult with one before you sell the property.

from Jeff Klotz | Real Estate https://jeffklotz.net/tips-when-preparing-to-sell-a-real-estate-investment/
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Should You Flip a Real Estate Investment?

There are different ways to invest in real estate. Some people choose to buy homes in need of a few renovations and sell them as soon as possible for a profit. Others prefer to buy and hold properties, renting them out and waiting for the value to grow. Each approach is viable but which is right for you depends on what your goals are.

Buy and Flip

When you buy and flip, you are dealing in higher risk. The strategy is dependent on quick turnaround. There are deals to be found if you are willing to look for them but you have to also be willing to risk being stuck with the property. It helps if it is in a desirable location. Sometimes the property just needs to be updated. However, at other times, there may be issues that you won’t know about until you own it.

When you choose to buy and flip properties, you have to deal in volume with quick turnover. You have to feel confident that you can accurately predict the market and timing. If you are stuck holding one of these properties, you can see your profits go down every day that the property is vacant. While this strategy works for people who are willing to take risks, it can be “make it or break it” and you have to decide what is right for you.

Buy and Hold

The buy-and-hold strategy has proven to be lower risk. Over time, the value of the property will increase, which means that your equity will increase. You can use the new equity to buy other real estate investments. In addition, the money that you make in rent will grow over time and it can potentially replace your job down the line. This is a great long-term plan with financial stability attached.

Generally speaking, real estate is known to increase in value over time. When you buy with the mindset of holding, you will not be stuck trying to sell in the wrong market. The rental income will cover the costs and you can deduct your mortgage, taxes, and insurance from your taxes. Although there are some people who enjoy the intensity of the buy-and-flip strategy, buy and hold is more stable and builds more wealth over time.

from Jeff Klotz | Real Estate https://jeffklotz.net/should-you-flip-a-real-estate-investment/
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6 Tips to Help a Struggling Small Business Stay Afloat

It’s a fact that most new small businesses struggle. It’s part of the process. And though some don’t ultimately survive, those that can power through early problems can emerge strong (and profitable). Still, reaching that point is difficult, particularly in a rough business climate. However, there are certain steps you can take to keep you from feeling as though you’re drowning and to help keep your business financially healthy.

Tip 1: Set Yourself Apart

In a recent look at common struggles of small businesses, we talked about the problem of having too many competitors. There, we suggested that business owners use competition to inspire innovation. More simply, use this problem as motivation to figure out how to set yourself apart. In the early stages, that might come down more to messaging than actual business products or services. But the sooner you make your company appear distinct among its competitors, the faster you’ll gain customers.

Tip 2: Address Your Debts

The idea of tackling debts before seeking more gains is actually an investment principle many adhere to — whether or not they’re running businesses. The idea is that debt is usually a compounding burden, with interest mounting over time, and should thus be addressed as efficiently as possible. This is particularly important for a small business in which time is of the essence. While it’s not always as simple as deciding to pay off debts, small business owners should start prioritizing debts. The sooner they’re addressed, the sooner the business can be free to grow.

Tip 3: Take Reinvestment Seriously

When you’re running a small business, it’s important to consider the idea of reinvestment. This is basically the idea that it can be beneficial to take some of the company’s profits and invest them directly back into company needs.

Whether that means marketing efforts, a new employee, better technology, etc., it’s sometimes recommended that you reinvest half of what the company makes. It’s seen as a way of fostering fast growth, and it can also build the business up such that you have to do less on your own. In that sense, reinvestment can double as an investment in your own time as well.

Tip 4: Consider Personal Investment as Well

While there’s always some risk involved, you might also be able to expand your own funding by doing some light personal investing. However, you’ll want to do so carefully. If you’re looking to invest in the most traditional sense — in the stock market, for instance — it may be best to do so through alternative methods. Full-on trading is essentially a job, and it’s a lot for any small business owner to take on, particularly without the requisite expertise. However, there are other ways to grow funds in the market.

If you still want some say over your portfolio, CFD trading is an option to explore. This is a method that allows the trading of shares purely with regard to whether they’ll increase or decrease in value. So, rather than buying a share of stock and timing your sale correctly to maximize profits, you merely make a decision of whether you want to buy it (anticipating gains) or sell it. CFD trading also enables stop-loss orders, which can allow careful investors to automatically limit their losses. If this is still a little too hands-on, there are also more automated or hands-off trading options such as mutual funds or apps that will trade on your behalf.

Tip 5: Cut Costs Where You Can

Usually, a struggling small business will already have cut costs wherever possible. However, it never hurts to do another thorough, numbers-based assessment of where you stand. Is there something you paid for in helping to launch the business that you no longer need? Are you using a supplier you might be able to move away from in favor of a cheaper alternative? Is there anything you have the time and ability to take on your own that you’re currently paying someone else to do? These are all questions worth asking when you’re struggling to make the business work.

Tip 6: Employ Freelancers Where Possible

This is not a suggestion that your small business should be staffed entirely by freelancers. You’ll need some employees to build a sustainable operation. However, where possible, you might want to look into freelance contributions. In-depth analyses have shown that freelancers cost less money, and these days — with so many people unemployed and/or looking to work remotely — they’re theoretically more available than ever. So, for the odd job here or there or for regular contributions that don’t necessarily demand full-time employment, you might want to explore the freelance market.

There are ultimately no guarantees for a struggling small business. Each company’s strategy should be distinct, and a little bit of luck comes into the picture as well. With these tips though, you might hope to keep the business afloat — in a challenging climate or when future struggles arise.

from The Grasshopper Blog – Insights for Entrepreneurs https://grasshopper.com/blog/6 Tips to Help a Struggling Small Business Stay Afloat/
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How to Write an Effective Email the First Time Around

What does the perfect business email look like? For some go-getters, it might be the 21st century of War and Peace: it’s long, it leaves no stone unturned, and it contains enough detail that anyone who reads it will be impressed by your work ethic and flowery language.

This is wrong.

A good email is less art than it is science. It’s a means to an end, with a clear objective: get someone else to understand something that you already understand. Whether that means a project just finished or you have a new proposal, a well-crafted email should be clear, efficient, and engaging—without demanding too much from the reader.

We spend some 1/3rd of our office time checking and managing our email. It only makes sense to get it right.

Here’s how to construct one without constantly editing yourself:

The Basic Rules of Email

Before you optimize the efficiency of every email you send, let’s get rid of some of the simple mistakes that are only making your written communication worse.

First, double-check that you’re sending it to the right people. In one famous mistake, Aviva Investors sent an email meant to fire one person…to a list of 1,300 people.

Before you hit “Reply All,” take a few seconds to consider what “All” includes. Here’s an example of a faux pas you can avoid if you were to double-check the email recipients every time:

“OK, so I was online dating a lot,” Shirley Goldberg remembered. After each date, she liked to send a summary to her girlfriend. “On the day I hit ‘Reply to All,’ I had four emails open, one of them directed to the entire staff of my school. Somehow I got the emails mixed up.”

This can be even more damaging in the professional environment. That’s why you should aim to keep each email as professional as possible. After all, email still counts as written communication. If you don’t want yourself on record as having said something, don’t email it. In company-wide email threads, it’s possible that even if you don’t send the email to the wrong person, what you wrote can still end up in someone else’s text.

Unsure if your writing is grammatically correct? Consider adding an app like Grammarly to your browser if you’re using web-based email.

Focus on Clarity

The ancient Roman rhetorician Quintilian once said:

We should not speak so that it is possible for the audience to understand us, but so that it is impossible for them to misunderstand us.

Before you do anything else, make sure that your email is clear. That usually means the shorter it is, the better—there will be fewer opportunities for misinterpretation in a 100-word email than a 1,000-word email.

  • Write short sentences. Turn to HemingwayApp for help here. It will point out where you’re over-stuffing your sentences and making too many demands on the reader.
  • Use active voice rather than passive. “I finished the project” is clearer than “the project was finished by me.” It’s also more efficient. 
  • Organize your email paragraphs by topic. Similar to the way you’d structure a high school essay, keep your organization simple: one topic per paragraph.
  • Don’t “bury the lead.” Burying the lead happens when you hide an important nugget of information somewhere within the content. This leads to less emphasis on the important point. If you’ve ever wondered how you can write someone an email and they forgot about its most important message, it sometimes comes from buying the lead.
  • Read before sending. If you keep the email simple, you won’t have a problem reviewing it quickly before sending off. Don’t make more work for the recipient by asking them to read your mind. Make sure the email, as Quintilian recommends, is “impossible to misunderstand” from the outset.

Don’t Waste Time

You’ll enhance clarity when you stick to this rule: don’t waste time.

If you’re sending an email proposal to someone you don’t know, there’s a temptation to spend two paragraphs apologizing or explaining yourself. Don’t! Just include a brief sentence that mentions how you found their email and move on. If their time is valuable, thank them for sparing some. Then proceed to stop wasting it.

One brief sentence at the top of an email is usually enough to let someone know that you’re aware when an email might be out of the blue, or coming in some sort of strange context. If you’re networking, include a sentence that describes a mutual contact, for example. While you should focus on clarity, you’ll still want to display some social acuity when you’re emailing someone new for the first time.

When Scripts are Available (and Make Sense), Use Scripts

If you’re sick of staring at a blinking cursor and want to make some progress, you can always lean on email scripts to get you started.

The key here isn’t to copy and paste everything you write, but to remember the human touch. But once you’ve determined that you’ll do that, you can use some email scripts as reference points:

Practice Makes Perfect

You might not write perfectly effective emails every time. But as you get used to the work environment and routinely send out similar emails, you’ll get a sense of what works and what doesn’t. Pay attention to the questions people tend to ask in their replies and you’ll soon learn that you can answer them ahead of time. Over time, you’ll settle on a natural rhythm to your emails to help you avoid long email chains, back-and-forth question sessions, and even the occasional faux pas.

from The Grasshopper Blog – Insights for Entrepreneurs https://grasshopper.com/blog/How to Write an Effective Email the First Time Around/
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How to Get Started Investing in Real Estate with Small Dollar IRAs

Many people want to invest in real estate but they don’t have the cash on hand to do it. It can be risky to take out a big loan. As a result, people are turning to small dollar IRAs to start investing with as little as $500. This is a great option because it carries a lower risk and investors can learn more about real estate while they are investing.

Private Money Lending

Many ordinary citizens are becoming private moneylenders with their small dollar IRA accounts. These are IRA accounts with less than $50,000. They can invest themselves or pool their resources with other small dollar IRA account holders.

Private money lending is secured by real estate. The terms are negotiable but typically the duration is five or fewer years and the interest is 10% with two points to the lender. The terms can be anything that the lender and borrower agree on so they are very flexible.

What Type of IRA Works?

The first rule is that a lender needs to have a self-directed IRA account. There are different options including a Health Savings Account (HSA), a Coverdell Education Savings Account (ESA), or an Individual 401(k) and checkbook-controlled IRA.

Important Factors to Consider

It is extremely important for potential private moneylenders to take steps to protect themselves by doing thorough examinations of all of the information. The lender must look at the borrowers and verify that they have reliable business models and a track record of repaying loans on time. It is also important to visit the property in person to see what condition it is in and assess the after-repair value (ARV).

Lenders need to work with a reputable title company and make sure that they are in the first lien position. In addition, they should be clear on the fees for the transaction and have solid contracts with any other lenders who are pooling resources.

Using small dollar IRAs can be very profitable but it is critical that investors do their due diligence to make sure that they minimize their risks.

from Jeff Klotz | Real Estate https://jeffklotz.net/how-to-get-started-investing-in-real-estate-with-small-dollar-iras/
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Five Mistakes That Make Customers Hang Up

When a customer hangs up on you mid-conversation, it’s easy to tell what you did wrong. In fact, they probably spent the previous five minutes telling you exactly what their issue was.

But when customers hang up on your phone system before you even get to speak with them, that’s another problem.

According to some statistics, about 80% of callers will hang up on a phone system if they don’t feel like their call is going straight to voicemail. That means that you’re already missing out on most important customer calls by not having a robust, organic phone system in place.

How can you turn it around? Make sure that when you set up your business’s phone system, you avoid these other key mistakes that make customers want to hang up:

Mistake #1: Putting Them in the Driver’s Seat

It sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it? Wouldn’t any self-respecting customer want to be in the driver’s seat in an interaction with a company?

Yes and no. If you give your customer too much power—or give them too many choices—you run into the problem known as Paradox of Choice, first popularized by an author named Barry Schwartz.

In one study, shoppers were exposed to an astonishing variety of gourmet jam: 24 whole choices, with samples to boot. On another day, the available jams were limited to six.

Researchers found that while more choices attracted more initial attention, fewer choices meant that customers were ten times as likely to make a choice from the jams and bring it to purchase.

What does this have to do with your phone system? Simple: don’t give them too many choices. Give them options, sure—they need to navigate your business as well as possible. But keep the choices limited. Don’t let customers grow frustrated with your never-ending web of call forwarding.

We’ve all been in the situation of being the customer who loses all patience with a phone system and shouts into the phone, “just get me a human!” Don’t make your customers do that.

Mistake #2: Creating a Fancy, Elaborate Script

If a customer calls you on the phone, it’s important to give them a sense that you’re a real person—or at least a real company.

The problem is that some companies believe that to come across “real,” they need to simulate the feeling of authenticity by creating a script. Then they lose sight of why they created a script in the first place and simply want to create the most flowery, over-the-top script possible.

Avoid this instinct. When SoftwareAdvice.com ran a study, they found that customers had a strong negative impression of calls when they thought agents were reading from scripts. If a customer perceived a call as unscripted, their perception of the call improved 78% of the time.

If you’re building a voicemail system for directing phone calls, you will have to use automated messages to guide your customer. The way to avoid the negative-script effect is to keep things simple and professional. Get the essential information to the customer and let them move on.

Mistake #3: Weaving a Tangled Web of Call Forwarding

If you’ve ever been on a long phone call with a company, you know that it can feel like a temporary boost when you’re forwarded to the appropriate expert. That’s all well and good, but when your phone call gets passed on and on again, you start to feel like the entire effort is futile.

The same effect occurs when you create an overly complicated phone structure for answering customer phone calls. Yes, it’s important that you get the customer to the person who can solve their problem or answer their question. But if it takes too many steps to get there, customers won’t care about your good intentions. They’ll just care that they couldn’t get through.

Mistake #4: An Unprofessional Voicemail Greeting

If you have clients or customers call your personal number, it can be a bit disorienting to hear a casual and obviously personal voicemail greeting on the other end.

Even if you work out of a home office, it’s important that your phone system—or even something as simple as your voicemail greeting—displays that you have a professional business presence. Heed a few of the tips that we’ve provided in our post on voicemail greetings and make sure to:

  • Limit background noise. Hearing family members in the background is an obvious no-no. But even hearing general office sounds can have a negative effect on the quality of your voicemail greeting.
  • Smile as you record. You’d be surprised at the effect a smile can have on the tone of your voice. You want to be positive, upbeat, and professional—and sometimes, there’s no way to fake that except to smile.

Mistake #5: Too Little Information

If you’re convinced about the paradox of choice and you want to avoid an overly-elaborate script, it’s tempting to go too far in the other direction and record a Laconic voice greeting like “Hi. Leave a message at the tone.”

There’s nothing wrong with simple. But if you want your customers to stay engaged with your phone system, there’s no harm in infusing a little personality into their interactions with your automated responses. Just as long as these hints of your personality don’t get in the way of a customer perceiving you as a competent professional, they’ll likely stay on the line.

Give Your Customer a Reason to Stick Around

Just as you work hard to earn sales through marketing, analytics, and good, old-fashioned quality business practices, you don’t want the hard work to go to waste once a customer gets a hold of your phone number. Avoid these mistakes and create a simple, intuitive voicemail system that customers will understand and even enjoy. The better it is, the more likely it is you’ll retain those customers who would have otherwise given up. When it comes to your phone system and your customers, every second counts.

from The Grasshopper Blog – Insights for Entrepreneurs https://grasshopper.com/blog/Five Mistakes That Make Customers Hang Up/
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