Put Your Business Plan into Action
Each and every year, real estate brokerages across the nation use November and December to encourage agents to prepare a new and improved business plan for the following year. Guess what? It’s time to put that business plan into action. Sadly, the challenge is finding the time to do it.
Now that 2014 has finally arrived, real estate agents across the nation have new goals to meet: more social media time, increased listing appointments, and more cold-calling among other things. Due to the nature of the real estate industry, an agent’s job is often filled with many distractions.
Because of this, it’s hard to predict whether goals will be met. We get so many calls and emails, and frequently the entire day can be spent dealing with a situation surrounding one specific transaction. Despite all of that, in order to achieve the next level of success or actually begin to work towards those goals from your business plan, you’ve got to stay focused on moving forward.
Ways to Stay on Target
Here are three ways for real estate agents to stay focused amid these distractions:
- Use the Pomodoro Technique for Time Management. Named for a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato (pomodoro is Italian for ‘tomato’), this time management method was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s. While it is slightly more intricate than my description, the system generally involves breaking down work time into 25-minute short, focused intervals followed by 5-minute breaks. You can work undistracted for just 25 minutes, can’t you?
- Stay off the Internet. One of our guiltiest pleasures and our biggest distractions is checking social media sites or responding to an email message or text when in the midst of some larger activity. If you want to complete large, moneymaking tasks more quickly and efficiently, then hold back a bit and change your Facebook status later in the day.
If you need to do so, invest in an app such as iA Writer, Byword and WriteRoom. These apps and others provide a distraction-free experience for those creating content.
- Just Say “No.” While I may have borrowed this phrase from the War on Drugs campaign popular years ago, it applies here. We live in an age of distraction. Most of us have between 50 and 100 emails in the inbox before we even turn on the computer. The next newfangled product or dangling real estate carrot is always a foot or so ahead of us trying to send out plans in a different direction. The key is to discern what you want and stay focused on exactly that.But, it’s not just emails and productions.
People are distracting, too. Identify the problems, situations, and people who drain you. Then, eliminate them—either by hiring someone else to deal with them or by nixing them altogether. Once you get the distractions out of your life, you will be able to focus much more easily.
It seems funny to think that some of the predictions made in the movie Back to the Future actually came true—the handheld computers and the wall-mounted televisions, for example. My prediction for you is that if you employ any of the three tips I’ve shared above, you’ll find yourself less distracted. Now, will you still have real estate sales providers dialing you for dollars? That… I cannot control.
Small businesses angry at depletion of COVID-19 relief funds without warning
(ENTREPRENEUR) Small businesses are in shock when they find out COVID-19 relief funds are no longer available, with an email update from the SBA.
In May, the Small Business Administration (SBA) sent out an update to borrowers of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) for COVID-19 relief. The EIDL program is now out of funds, according to an email sent to borrowers.
The loan program formally closed back in December 2021, but there was a period when small businesses who had already received funding could request additional money. That period is now officially over, and the $345 billion that was allotted for COVID-19 relief is gone.
The impact of EIDL
Many owners and entrepreneurs are outraged and frustrated with the lack of transparency from the SBA. There was no warning that the funds were almost depleted and many businesses were relying on that loan money to keep their businesses afloat as the economy rebounds. However, SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman praised the program,
“The SBA has delivered historic economic relief to millions of America’s small businesses through the COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan program…”
According to an SBA press release, over $390 billion in aid was distributed to nearly 4 million businesses.
Small businesses still need help
In May, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), told health ministers that COVID-19 and its effects are not over. Here in the United States, life seems to be getting back to normal, if you discount the horrific inflation and gas prices, which are further impacting the recovery of small businesses.
Congress has been wrangling with legislation (H.R. 3807) that would offer more funding for those that were hit hard due to covid. Getting the House and Senate to agree on this legislation is expected to be difficult. So, no guarantees that more help is coming.
The SBA recommends that businesses who need more resources contact their local SBA office. Virtual appointments can be made for those who wish to avoid contact.
Regularly update your succession plan – it isn’t for setting and forgetting!
(ENTREPRENEUR) You may think that once you have a succession plan in place, you’re set for life, however, it’s recommended to continually update them!
We’ve written before about how the everlasting success of the business will need to outlive you, and this is best conjured up in a succession plan. This is especially true for small business owners and entrepreneurs that have built an empire for themselves but aren’t sure what the future will hold beyond their passing. This is the exact reason that succession plans shouldn’t be set and forgotten, but instead consistently updated.
What are some of the obvious reasons that you may need to update your succession plan?
- Health Issues
- Marriage or Remarriage
- Changes in health in executors or guardians
- Changes in the law
- Changes in Residence
Now, for the not-so-obvious reason: It should be updated when any personal circumstances changes, which most likely happen often. This is why a will is like your home, an investment that needs to be properly maintained, and if it is, it will last a very long time.
Examples include changes in economic or parental status, as well as designations or fiduciaries. Elders could be aging, siblings may be having their own life changes, as well as if any dependents are born with or develop special needs.
“Every state has different laws regarding the administration of a will,” he said.?“For instance, states vary regarding the required residence of an executor, inheritance tax laws, and whether a child can be disinherited by omission.”
The recommended procedure is to review wills and powers of attorney at least every five years.
Lastly, when should a will update to a trust?
- When you have some significant assets (more than $500,000) in your own name.
- If you have special needs beneficiaries.
- If you have properties in multiple jurisdictions (multiple states or even counties).
- If you have beneficiaries you want to control distributions to (e.g., distribute at ages 25/30/35).
- If you have kids from a previous relationship you want taken care of.
- If you may want asset protection (special trust needed).
- If you are a big dog (over $22M if married), to save taxes.
Should your severance agreements include confidentiality clauses?
(ENTREPRENEUR) Confidentiality clauses and NDAs have long been tied to severance agreements – but is that notion becoming outdated?
Severance agreements and their ilk have long included confidentiality clauses, often comprising an exhaustive list of actions former employees may not take should they desire to keep the benefits listed in the agreement. Carey & Associates P.C.’s Mark Carey breaks down the knowledge you’ll need to successfully incorporate a severance agreement – including a stern warning about the future of confidentiality clauses.
There is a long list of things you’ll need when curating a severance agreement, but we’ll start with Carey’s honey-do-nots.
Carey’s primary recommendation is avoiding a non-compete clause where, previously, there wasn’t one.
“As employment lawyers, we see this tactic used every day, but you do not,” he says.
This is because most employment lawyers will advise that a non-compete agreement is largely unenforceable, which sets a poor precedent for an otherwise airtight document.
Carey even recommends against reviewing prior non-compete clauses for the same reason.
He also eschews what he calls the “21 days to sign – or else” philosophy, and he advises that employers should loop themselves into the non-disparagement clause so that employees cannot be blacklisted – something he refers to as “a very real phenomenon.”
What a severance agreement should include is a non-admission provision, a payment provision, a release of all claims to cover any feasible scenarios regarding employee disclosure, a challenge to agreement, a “no other amounts are due” section to release the employer from future responsibility, and a mandate to return any company property. This is a truckload of information, so you’ll want an employment lawyer to help you through the process.
But what Carey warns against is the future of confidentiality agreements, or NDAs. While these provisions have long accounted for employee silence in the face of abusive or corrupt employers, Carey posits that, one day, “confidentiality provisions in employee severance agreements will be banned as a matter of statute and public policy.”
This assertion comes in the wake of the #MeToo movement and the uncovering of the manner in which powerful people were using NDAs to buy silence from the people who suffered under their direction. Carey points out that it’s a non-partisan issue; corruption isn’t aligned with one specific political party, and the option to come forward with allegations of misconduct is a courtesy that should be afforded to all.
Whether or not confidentiality agreements are ethical is a moot point, and Carey does recommend continuing to use them when necessary – but, sooner or later, one can safely assume that the landscape of severance agreements will change, arguably for the better.
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