Thursday, December 3, 2015

Rezoning-When it works and when it doesn't

Changing a property's zoning classification can be a major decision for a property owner.  In some cases it will improve the use and ultimately the value of the property, and in some cases, it could hurt the overall value.

How could it hurt a property's value by going to a higher, more intense use?  Well, for example, if the property is an existing building, lets say a residence, and the new zoning would allow for an office use, then the owner is required to bring the building up to code with ADA, plumbing and electrical improvements, and most importantly, parking.

Most of the "proper" conversions I have been a part of or had knowledge of, has been in the $40k-$50k range with some as high as $100,000.  Concrete and drainage alone represents a large portion of most conversion budgets.  A CPZ overlay or beautification requirement is a landscaping expense that most owners do not take into consideration.

Therefore if other comparable "converted office" properties is X, then the "un-converted value" would be X minus the renovation costs.  This may reduce the perceived value that an owner estimates their property to be worth.

The decision making process of whether to rezone or not should include a financial analysis and feasibility study.  If you can not use the property for its proposed use once rezoned, then a new approach must be taken. 

The bottom line is do the research and homework to determine if a rezoning is the right thing to do for your property.

©Mark Subervielle 2015

Who has time to write a book, script, business plan? Well, you do, and plenty of it

From my previous article,
"Don't have enough time" to improve your life?  How to add 2-3 weeks of additional work time per year

We discovered as much as 1.78 extra months per year of "free time" to work on our plans, goals, ideas and purpose.

So if you have had an idea for a book, script, play, song, blog, business plan or creative itch to write and publish, time is not your problem.

In the "Extra Time Breakdown"  we looked at how 1 hour each Saturday and Sunday gave you an extra 2.6 weeks per year based on a 40 hour work week.

Now lets look at what it takes to write a book, script, play, blog, journal, business plan, etc.

Break it down to words and pages.  Writing starts with putting words on a page.

Before we look at how long it will take you to write, lets look at what you already write on a daily basis.

Your Existing Daily Writing:

Average Emails Written Per Day:  10
Average Social Media Posts:  10
Average Text Sent:     10(studies show it is significantly higher)

30 writings/posts per day x 7 days per week = 210 per week

Average Words per Writing:  20
Average Words Written per Week:  20 words x 210 writings/pots = 4,200 words
Average Time to Write a Message/Pots:  1 minute

1 minute x 210 postings per week = 3.5 hours per week or 1,200 words per hour

This example is very low.  Stats show that we write substantially more words per week than this and spend much more time on social media.  But let's use these low numbers to make a comparison.

Lets look at a 200 page book.  This would be your average 1/2" thick paperback book.

Here is the breakdown:

1 - book page is approx 250 words

200 page book would be approx. 50,000 words

50,000 words ÷ 1,200 words per hour =  41.67 hours or  1.04 - 40 hour work week

Approx. 20 mins per page

Broken down further:

1,000 words = 4 - 8.5" x 11" Letter size pages, double spaced, book formatted

Each Average Paragraph = 100-200 words

Approx. 2 paragraphs per page

Average Time per Page = 20 mins ÷ 2 Paragraphs per Page = 10 mins per Paragraph

So, do you have enough time to write a book?

Well, let's see;

Per the post

1 - hour on Saturday and 1- Hour on Sunday = 2.6 extra weeks per year to write.

You need 1.04 weeks(41.67 hours) to write a 200 page book.

The reality is this:  you have time to write, to put your ideas on paper.  You are already doing it, and writing more than you think.  Its just directed to the wrong places. If the time used for that snarky post or that comment on the puppy dog video was used instead to write a paragraph, you would be well on your  way to reaching the goal of publishing.

We have just proved that you have more than ample time to write.  You can write one paragraph in 10 minutes.  If a journey starts with one step, a book starts with one word.

Right now, start typing your first word, then the second, and write that first paragraph.   Editing and perfecting is for another day and time.  JUST WRITE!!!!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

"Don't have enough time" to improve your life? How to add 2-3 weeks of additional work time per year

So you haven't moved forward on that business idea, or that book or that chore that would dramatically change your life or environment?  We all have something that if we simply would "just do it", we know that it would change everything!  

And it’s that simple, right?  Cleaning out the pantry or cabinets and purging your closets would make your home life better.  Writing that first draft of your book, play, script or song would launch you into the world of entertainment.  Contacting that big client would alter the trajectory of your careers.  Building a prototype of your product idea that will make you a millionaire. 

But who has that kind of time?   What are you to do.....take two weeks off just to do this stuff?

Well, actually we all have 2 weeks of time to change our lives.  And it’s not rocket science or some new discovery.  The secret is a small tweak to the application of your main resource: time.  

"Consistently spend small amounts of time on your goals"

If you have a M-F job, this applies to you.  If you work nights and weekends, or have a shift type of schedule, not only does this apply to you, but you have a great and distinct advantage on the 9-5ers.(read on)

Here is the basic formula:

52 weekends in a year

104 weekend days in a year

1-hour per weekend day = 104 hours per year

104 hours per year ÷ 40 hour work week = 2.6 weeks per year

You are thinking, OK, great, work weekends?  That's the solution?     If anyone has perfected the art of relaxing in their spare time, it’s me.   My favorite spot in the world is not some beach or mountain chalet, it’s my couch.  And I have mastered every remote control I have every owned.  I can operate them blind folded with one hand tied behind my back.(yes, I have tried that)

But the reality is that we do have lots of spare time.  77.4% of our year is ours based on a 40 hour work week.  And that spare time should be put to good use.  Every successful entrepreneur, business person, sales person or someone who has made a drastic change in their lives, that I have personally met, have all told me the same thing:  apply your time to a useful and productive goal or purpose.

So let’s break down this 2-3 extra weeks of time that EVERYONE has.  For example:

Saturday AM:  
-While the coffee is brewing-gather materials, do research, make calls, etc.
-Plan your day, week, month year
-Draft outlines, sketch drawings, email, read, write
-Start prototype

Sunday AM:
-Continue/Follow up Saturday's work
-Plan for next weekend
-Visit vendors, competitors, resources
-Test ideas, products

Come Monday, you have only spent 2 hours of your time, but are light years ahead of where you were on Friday.    If health or personal change is your goal, the same applies:  you are now ahead of the game.

I also like the fact that you are also 2 hours, technically 2 days, ahead of your competition.  Sales people can really benefit by preparing their strategy and goals for the upcoming week. The over whelming majority of your sales competitors are not doing this.  Calling prospects on the weekend is the ultimate "follow up" call.  Whether you reach them or leave a message, it’s easy to say "sorry to call on the weekend, can I call you next week?". The answer is almost always "yes".

As for improving your health, one hour, one small tweak, can drastically change your life.  We all know this, but think about this in a 60 minute time frame.  

Within in 60 minutes you can do the following:

Purchase healthy food-just one or two items
Purge your home of all bad foods-toss just one item each day
10-20 minutes of exercise, walk, jog, aerobics, weights, etc(you don't need a gym)

Now, if you feel that you will use your 2 hours per weekend to make improvements, or you already are using your spare time wisely, 

Here is another formula that will add even more time:

Add 30 minutes to each weekend day:   30 mins x 2 days = 1 hour

1 hour x 52 weekends = 52 hours per year

52 hours ÷ 40 hour work week = 1.3 EXTRA weeks per year

Now add even more time:

Each Weekday(M-F) add 30 mins:  30 mins x 5 days = 2.5 hours per week

2.5 hours per week x 52 weeks = 130 hours per year

130 hours ÷ 40 hour work week = 3.25 EXTRA weeks per year

Let's add up the time you have just been given:

2 Hour Weekends:                2.6 Weeks per Year
Extra 30 Min/Weekend:       1.3 Weeks per Year
Extra 30 Min/Weekday        3.25 Weeks per Year


7.15 Weeks Per Year!!!!!

That is 1.78 Months Per Year!!!!

If your excuse for not moving forward with your ideas, plans and goals is "NOT ENOUGH TIME", you need to consciously and realistically re-evaluate your ideas, plans and goals. You have, and possess, all of the resources needed to make things happen for you.  With this much time on your hands, you can find the resources, people, and even money, that you need to create the life you want and drastically improve the life you have.

As stated earlier, if you have a unique schedule, such as nights, weekends or shifts, you have a great and distinct advantage. You are earning your regular income while everyone else is not.  Therefore, while they are at work, you are gaining an advantage because you can work on your goals and purpose during the week.  Spare time during the week adds more resources at your disposal, you can make things happen quicker, you can reach people, visit businesses, purchase materials, etc, since businesses are open during the week.  And while your competition is "busy at work", you can move ahead of them.

And as New Orleanians, we must acknowledge the "extra time" our culture gives us.  Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, Friday afternoons, Fest Season, Hurricane Season, and numerous other short work weeks and local "short" days.  Now, I am in no way suggesting that we do not partake in our cultural events, but it does provide us with some extra time that we can use to make improvements.  Just take that extra 30-60 minutes to work on your goals before indulging in the festivities.

Now that you have discovered this gift of time, what heck are you doing sitting around reading this article, GET TO WORK!!!  You have only 1 hour left before quitting time!!!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Work is dressed in overalls

One of my favorite quotes is from Thomas Edison, "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."

No matter how hard you are working, and no matter how large the obstacles, those times when it seems to be the end of the road, realize that its just the beginning.

The hard road is just starting.

Work doesn't get you to the beginning of the road, - Preparation does.  Work gets you through and past the hard road, the tough times.   That's when work comes in.

Ideas, intuition, planning, strategizing, all of those things get you to the starting line.   Work takes you down the road.

Recognizing the difference is critical to final success.  Not recognizing the difference can cause you to throw in the towel, give up and worst yet, spin your wheels and waste your time.  Recognizing the difference between work and preparation is like recognizing the difference between jogging and an Olympic race. One is training, the other one is life changing.

Knowing when you are stuck, spinning your wheels or at an impasse will tell you when its time to work, and when to work harder.

That is when opportunity is not missed or thrown away.  That is when opportunity begins to turn into success.

And yes, sometimes work is dressed in overalls and does not look appealing.  That is one sign that it is actual work.

Brought to you by The Alternative Finance Exchange

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Coffee Shop Office is losing its froth

Let's face it, it may be cool and hip to be mobile and work in a coffee shop, but meeting clients and trying to have a meaningful conversation is difficult to say the least.

And not to mention dangerous for your business. This is New Orleans after all; we are all 1-2 degrees of separation from each other. The odds are pretty good that someone in that coffee shop is in your industry or knows someone who is.

Not that anyone would eaves drop on your private conversation intentionally, but they can't help but overhear you when you are sitting 24" away from them.

Can your afford an Office or a Coffee Shop

And its hard to be open and speak freely to a client when you know you are on stage for the entire shop to see and hear. This "holding back" could be dangerous for you professionally by restraining your body language and altering your voice inflection.

While the stigma of meeting in a coffee shop may have diminished in most business circles, it still is in the back of the mind of either you or your client.

But one would argue that the cost, basically the cost of a cup of coffee, out weighs by far the expense of maintaining an office.  Even an executive office, which are promoted as being an inexpensive alternative to the home office and coffee shop, is not really "inexpensive" to most professionals and freelancers.

Read:   Can your afford an Office or a Coffee Shop

For some the atmosphere and smell of coffee works, for others it doesn't.  But it is still a nice Friday get away though.
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Does natural light improve productivity?

It does in this office.

Do you need space like this?
Click the picture:

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Can your company afford an Office or a Coffee Shop?

While the coffee shop has gained popularity over the past many years or so, most businesses, if given the option, prefer to have an office, a home base.

But most entrepreneurs and business people don't connect the cost of an office or retail space with any business analysis.  Sometimes its just a gut feel; yes, that's seems like a reasonable amount to pay.

The best way to analyze the cost of an office is a very simple calculation.  

What is the percentage of your total annual rent divided by your  gross annual income?

For example, if monthly rent is $500.00 or $6,000 per year, divided by an annual gross revenue of $100,000, then the percentage of rent vs. income is 6%.  This is average for retailers. 

The formula could also be used to draw a comparison of rent expense to your other expenses, such as advertising.  

If you use the percentage method, you can use between 6-8% to see if you are currently making enough to support an office.  So if you are grossing $50,000/year, you can afford an office expense of between $3,000-$4,000 annually or $250-$333 per month.

For office users with larger staffs, sometimes a per employee figure is used, which will differ based on type of building, amenities and which market you are located in.  

So if $200 per employee is used, and you have 3 employees, you should look at rent of approx. $600/mo.  And this is why you see incubators, shared offices and executive offices offering an individual desk monthly rent cost of around $200.

Which means that if your company is not generating or does not have approx. $120,000,($600/mo x 12=$7,200/.06=$120,000)  then you will burn through cash faster by renting too much space.

Use both methods or research recommendations on rent vs. revenue and cost per employee calculations to see what is right for your situation.

This is a key factor that is overlooked in most start-ups and professionals business planning.

Brought to you by The Alternative Finance Exchange