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Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Importance of Being Organized

Posted by dbrchamber on May 5, 2009

The Importance of Getting Organized

Tough economic times like these can be very stressful, especially if you’re worried about your business, employment status or financial situation. Getting organized can help you manage that stress before it gets the best of you. When you are organized, you don’t need to worry about things falling through the cracks. You know where everything is and can locate important information on a moment’s notice. Once organized, you’ll not only be prepared to respond effectively, you’ll also find that organization allows you to be more creative and productive. The following are six easy steps you can take to get organized, to help you reduce the stress and focus on the things that are most important.

1. Prioritize your objectives.

Time management is a huge part of an organized life. Make a list of your daily and weekly activities. Prioritize this list. Which of these activities contribute to your advancement, your networking goals or even your fun? Don’t try to do it all. Feeling guilty about undone tasks is a waste of time. When you find yourself with more tasks than you have to time to accomplish, ask for help. Delegate tasks that are not your strengths or are not in your area of expertise.  Outsourcing tasks supports other businesses, expands your network and frees up your valuable time to focus on your priorities.

2. Write it down!

Keeping a calendar or daily planner and a to-do list will help you manage your time more effectively. If it’s not on your calendar or to-do list, it doesn’t exist. A calendar helps guarantee that you show up when others are relying on you and that you don’t miss, or double book, important appointments. You also won’t be distracted by that stress-inducing question, “Am I forgetting something?” A to-do list allows you to see everything you have on your plate at a glance, enabling you to pick out the most important tasks. It is helpful to keep your to-do list inside your calendar or daily planner.

 

3. Simplify your space.

It’s difficult to stay organized when you are overwhelmed by your surroundings. Are you tripping over papers, bags and boxes? Do find you find yourself constantly searching through the same drawers, closets or cabinets looking for items you know you have but can’t find? Do you avoid your desk or other work space because it’s buried under a mountain of mail and stacks of paper? When you have a lot to sort through, break it down into small increments.  Schedule 15-30 minutes every day and devote that time to going through your stuff, throwing away or recycling what you can live without and organizing the rest by category. Free up your space so you have a comfortable place in which to focus your energy on the more important areas of your life.

4. Make decisions.

The primary reason stuff accumulates is that we put off making decisions. What do I do with this paper? Should I keep this? Where do I put it? If you look at the piles around you, you can probably trace it back to being unable to decide what to do with it. Institute the “one touch” rule—you will only touch an item once. When you pick it up, make a decision. Act on it, delegate it, file it or dump it! If you absolutely cannot make a decision the moment you touch something, have a designated bin that you go through once a week.

 

5. Have a home for everything.
Being organized means being able to find what you need when you need it. To keep things in their place, you need to know where they belong.  We all know the saying “A place for everything and everything in its place.” A logical place to put things is close to where they will be used. Keep your office supplies in your office close to your desk. Keep your tools in a toolbox in the garage. Look for the proper storage containers to store everything. When everything has a place, you’ll be able to put your hands on what you need when you need it. You’ll no longer buy something only to discover that you already have one.

 

6. Maintain your space.
Once you establish a home for everything, you just need to put it back there to maintain order. Spend time each day maintaining. Not doing so is one of the easiest ways to get overwhelmed by too much stuff. Taking time to put things away every day can save endless hours of searching for lost things among all the piles of stuff. When you walk in the door, have a place for your keys, your bag and other frequently carried items. When you use something, put it away. Small actions, when added together, can make a big difference in the quest for maintaining organization.

The reality is that, as individuals, we can’t control what is happening with the economy. What we can control is our response to the situation—both emotionally and practically. So take action and apply some or all of the steps for getting organized. It might even help you turn these stormy times into an opportunity for a new beginning and growth.

Marnie Dawson
Dawson Relocation Services

www.dawsonrelocation.com

847-922-6143

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Posted in Organization, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Deerfield Mayoral Candidate Interviews

Posted by dbrchamber on March 16, 2009

In an effort to educate our business community on the platforms of the candidates running for Mayor of Deerfield, the Chamber’s Board of Directors hosted the three candidates for a question and answer period at the March Board of Directors meeting.  The candidates were each asked the same 6 questions and their responses as transcribed from a recording are posted here.  Each candidate was interviewed seperately.  The DBR Chamber of Commerce in no way endorses any candidate.

 

Question #1 – How will the Lake Cook Road construction affect the Lake Cook Road businesses and do they plan on working with those businesses to help them through the construction?

 

Harriet Rosenthal:  It is going to be very tough on the businesses there is no doubt.  It is going to be a horrendous project.  What we will do is stay in the face of, it’s a county project so we will have to stay in the face of the county to make sure that there is always access to the businesses, that the signs are always clear and that we as a village can promote the businesses on Lake Cook Road during that construction urging residents to participate in those businesses because they are going to need all the help they can get there is no question.  There is no easy answer, I wish there were because everybody would say they would be in favor of that but we will just have to be vigilant on our monitoring of that.

 

Bill Seiden:  Well that’s assuming its going to start when they say.  They haven’t started when they said in the past.  It’s going to be a real problem because there are going to be all kinds of non exists from Lake Cook on to Lake Cook Road.  I think we have to make arrangements with the county to give us time so that the various businesses will always have a way in and out.  It’s going to be a hard situation. 

 

Chad Coe:  It’s about communication.  It’s about you having a liaison to someone at Village Hall who’s on top of the traffic situation and can help you forecast.  The example would be during the busiest times that maybe we don’t shut down streets or make it one lane. Maybe there’s opportunity to be able to keep two or three lanes open during your busiest time and there should be someone there to be able to facilitate and give you information about what’s going on.  The worst thing that could happen is it’s all about the county widening the lanes and having no consideration of the business or the business needs.  And if things could be postponed for a week, a month, a day, if things could be done so that it’s more user friendly to the businesses, then I’m all about that.  Lake Cook Road is a major issue for Deerfield.  I’m going to be involved, I’m gonna be on top of it, I’m gonna have my own contacts and know what’s going on.  And then we’ll create awareness to the Village through a blog, through online information on the website, and through paying the owners of businesses, so that as things are going to effect you, you’re gonna know about it.  You’ll no longer gonna have a black hole of information so that when you reach out to the village, someone’s going to respond and someone’s going to have answers for you or someone’s gonna know how to get an answers for you.  That’s what I care about, communication in a few different ways.

 

Questions #2 – The local businesses seem to bear the brunt of tax increases more so than the residents.  What is the balance?

 

Harriet Rosenthal:  We have raised our sales tax and that keeps us in line with the rest of our surrounding communities.  Cook County is a little higher but we couldn’t just apply it to Lake County and not Cook County we didn’t have that ability which we would have liked to been able to do.  Sales tax is something that is shared by more than just village residents.  We are always looking for taxes that are not just necessarily directed at village residents but where we can share the outside world with our taxes as well.

 

Bill Seiden:  Well there is an interaction between the two.  I suppose if what you’re getting to if we have lower sales tax will we raise our property taxes and I would think not.  I think one thing that I was going to talk about was one of the reasons we have all this additional revenue is because of what’s happen in the past and all that revenue is in our coffers so that we can have the money for a rainy day.  I think that we are at a rainy day and I would like to use some of the money that we have to reduce the amount of expenditures for current items.  The way we are going to reduce those expenditures of current items is to not have them therefore we won’t have as high of a property tax.  I sincerely hope that I will be successful in reducing the property tax.  I think that reducing the property taxes is one purpose not only for a rainy day but for a rainy business. 

 

Chad Coe:  I care about sales tax, I care about use tax, I care about many, many, many, different taxes.  When I had my retail stores I’m very, I’m very on top of that.  The other thing is for the 200 businesses I dealt with there was about 125 that I used to do the taxes for and I used to be able to see if taxes would go up if people would go across county lines or borders and buy their gas or buy cigarettes or buy things that were important to them.  I’m going to work very hard in knowing what the tax rates are and what’s going on.  I’m going to be sitting in the meetings if I’m allowed to and I’m going to work on keeping them down.  I believe that the sales taxes at this point are already too high, way too high, and I’m going to focus on either keeping them where they’re at and if there’s opportunity to bring them down, then we’re gonna do it.  But believe me, when I had retail stores and someone’s buying $1,000.00 in merchandise and its $80.00 in tax, I feel the burden.  I know how I shop and I know that it’s something I’m gonna be focused on.  And the good news is, I’ve not only prepared sales tax returns and see the burden but, I’ve also had retail stores and I know how painful it is and I want to work very hard to keep those down and be considerate of what you guys need in order to get ahead in business.

 

Question #3 – Will a local business ever be appointed to sit on the village center development committee to represent the business community if they are not a resident?

 

Harriet Rosenthal:  I would have no problem with that.  Any committee that I have ever chaired that has to do with redeveloping downtown, signage anything like that I always had business people on that committee and they were not necessarily residents.  I think we need to be better partners to be honest with you.  I don’t think we have done that job as good as we can and that is something I think I mentioned as one of my priorities is to partner with you.  So I have no problem with that at all. 

 

Bill Seiden:  I have never thought about it.  We have had people on various commissions that have moved out of the village I don’t think there is anything that says we can’t have anybody.  I think that would be a very good idea.  I would be in favor of that.  The people who are most affected would be the businesses and you want representation from the people that are affected. 

 

Chad Coe:  The answer is when it comes to committees and commissions; you need to be a Deerfield resident I believe to sit on these commissions and to participate in them.  But when you have deep relationships and you’re someone that you can reach out to try to help with making Deerfield a better place.  We can certainly use advisors and volunteers and have them participate in meetings on an informational use basis.  So it’s, to have outsiders in sitting on commissions I think that we’re not going to be able to pull that one off, but I can tell you, that I have a lot of business relationships, just look at my LinkedIn profile where I have over 200 recommendations for mayor and I can share with you a lot of people that want to participate and help Deerfield grow and prosper and I can reach out to them and bring them in and have them participate and volunteer with these commissions and with really good information to help Deerfield in the future.

 

Question #4 – Is there any interest in working with the Lake Cook Road businesses on a businesses committee?

 

Harriet Rosenthal:  No problem, no problem at all.  What ever we can do to help those Lake Cook Road businesses, it’s hitting at a very bad time.  I think the park district facility opening in May is going to help, its coming at a good time but I have no problem at all in doing everything and anything we can.  Our businesses are part of our life. 

 

 

Bi ll Seiden: I think I can expand that more than that, I think there is an interest in having not just necessarily on Lake Cook but all of the businesses in Deerfield work on a joint committee of some kind to look for additional businesses for Deerfield and look for ways to do it.  I met with a trustee from the Village of Glenview early in the week and he said he couldn’t tell me what businesses they were, it was confidential but he said all of the businesses in Glenview were really having a tuff time.  I went on to ask him “Are there any new businesses” and he went on the say that there are absolutely no new businesses in Glenview.  So I think that besides looking for new businesses for the village I am very sympathetic to the existing businesses.  I was very disturbed recently; we passed an ordinance two years ago to change our sign ordinances for the various businesses.  I really was not fully in favor for it.  It wasn’t bad but I didn’t see a great deal of problems with the signs we have now, I think they are fine.  But we did put a two year moratorium on compliance with the signs.  Right now we have some businesses that couldn’t afford to put up the new sign they either didn’t have the money or they had a lot of different problems with it.  I brought up a motion at the board meeting two sessions ago to put a further moratorium of one year on these so that they would have a chance to get out of this rut and unfortunately I was voted down.  I guarantee if I am Mayor I will use hook or crook to get that moratorium on. 

 

Chad Coe:  A. I would help formulate one. I would help be part of one.  My office is on Lake Cook Road, my office is on Lake Cook and Pine.  I would be the first one to be there.  I would sit there until all the questions are answered.  We would have someone who would be accountable to us.  I think it’s critical that we have that.  The other thing is the school buses going to school will be late if we don’t know what’s going on with that.  It’s going to be very difficult for everyone, but what I do know in business is if we could communicate, if we could care about the people that are driving up and down Lake Cook Road and make things as easy as possible on them, that they are going to be more understanding and we are going to be able to prosper better as a Village with good communication.  And yes, it’s something that I would actually be part of my business is at Lake Cook and Pine.

 

 

Question #5 – How will the government stimulus funding affect Deerfield?

 

Harriet Rosenthal:  The good news is we are not a real needy community.  The bad news is we are not a real needy community.  We are keeping a very close look on that.  We have projects that are ready to go and that’s what the stimulus is looking for projects that are ready to go and we have them.  The major one is about 26 million dollar project and we will be ready to apply as quickly as we can when the notifications come out and they are starting to do that now.  We are monitoring that very closely, the staff and the board.

 

Bill Seiden:  I am hoping along with the big thing we are doing now, as you know, the water treatment plant and I would like to look at that a little further to see if there is a further cost savings we can make on it.  But in addition to that I think its shovel ready so we can go to, I don’t know if we have done the right thing so far, its more in line with the mayor than the trustees or staff to go for part of the economic stimulus plan it seems like it’s a natural and that will in effect cut down the cost to the residents.

 

Chad Coe:  We already have according to Kent Street, we have there’s going to be some money available to us through some of the grants that they’ve already talked about.  We are early adopters to getting our request in for money.  And Kent Street feels that we are going to be able to get some of that.  And as we do we are going to be able to increase and do some more projects in Deerfield that’s going to be able to be funded by the federal government.  But right now the application is just in and being worked on and it’s still going to be some time away before we know if we’re going to get any of that money.  When we do we’re going to figure out where the Village needs it the most and we’re going to apply it to those areas.

 

 

Question #6 – Are you projecting state and federal funding cuts and how will this affect services in Deerfield?

 

Harriet Rosenthal:  We are just starting our new budget cycle and at first brush we have reduced our budget by 9%.  We reduced it by 12% last year.  We realize that the tax payers are getting hit and we have ability for alternative tax revenues that the other taxing bodies don’t have.  So we are trying to be very cognitive of that and being very careful.  We are lowering our projection on sales tax, on hotel tax and on state funding.  All of that is being lowered in our budget but we will have a balanced budget and we have a very healthy reserve should we have to go into that.  I am not in favor of spending our reserve down too far, I think we need to keep it.  We had a terrible winter last year and we had a terrible winter this year, it cost us mega bucks to keep up with the snow plowing and the salt.  We have had a couple of headlining kind of crises in this village where the police have worked a lot of overtime, fortunately everything has worked out fairly well for the murder case and the runaway child.  You need reserve for rainy days and so I am not in favor of spending down our reserve but I am in favor of cutting our expenses where we can.  We have not added any new personnel, we are without an assistant village manager, we may have to but we are trying not to until we get through these really hard economic times.

 

Bill Seiden:  I will answer the second one; it won’t affect any services in Deerfield because of our back log of cash.  I don’t think that me or any of the other candidates will do anything to hurt our triple A bond rating.  We don’t know what’s going to happen with money coming from the state, the states in trouble and I think Quinn will raise the taxes some what. 

 

Chad Coe:  You know, Deerfield works where primarily our budget comes from property taxes and the businesses we already have, the sales taxes from my understanding don’t affect Deerfield, meaning with sales being down 10, 15, 20%, Deerfield’s still going to be fine and our budget and the money we have is going to be fine.  We need very strongly to contain the budget that we have and try not to increase the dollars that we spend.  With the state and the federal budget cuts, we’re gonna have to evaluate that and we’re gonna have to look at the line by line items and try to figure out where we can best save.  But as you know and as I’ve seen, Deerfield spends money out of habit, that they have the ability with a checkbook to be able to spend a lot of money and to be able to say yes to a lot of things that could be either A. postponed or not missed by the residents by holding off on some things.  I would look very much with the federal and state budget cuts that we’re not going to see a noticeable difference in what we’re already doing. But at the same time we need to try to contain some of the different plans that we have going forward.  And it’s something that’s going to be looked at very carefully and there’s going to be commissions and committees that are going to look at that and reveal it.   And I’m very much going to be involved in that.  I do care about the spending that goes on in the Village but at the same time we need to have it look like a beautiful Village, like a clean Village, and one that’s kept up extremely well.

Posted in Politics, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

All About Blogging for Small Biz: Presentation Turned Post

Posted by dbrchamber on August 14, 2008

I’ve only been blogging for nine months. Nevertheless, I find myself giving a crash course in small biz blogging to peers. This is a summary with links for those who missed it, and for anyone else who might be interested.

Even if you aren’t thinking of starting a blog, you can learn below how to work with bloggers to promote your business.

Blogging Basics

A blog (an abridgment of the term web log) is a website with special features. Chief among them are:

  1. Entries (posts) are frequently updated.
  2. Blogs are interactive, so readers can comment.
  3. The Index is fluid, using categories or tags.
  4. Posts are in reverse chronological order.
  5. Links to other blogs and websites abound.
  6. Many offer an option to subscribe in email or a “feed reader,” which aggregates and lists posts from various blogs.

To Blog or Not to Blog

Benefits:

  • Drives traffic to your website, and a link may raise its ranking in search
  • Builds brand awareness and raises your company profile
  • Shows customers how you or your business model are different
  • Enables sharing news with friends and influencers in the industry
  • Positions you as source for publications looking for commentary
  • May earn ad revenues if you run ads

Disadvantages

The Case Against Blogging (written for the real estate industry, but its points are widely applicable, and funny.)

And one caution: Any entry you might dash off and post after a glass of wine on Friday night will be there for your unborn children and their children to read. Electronic tracks are well-neigh impossible to erase.

What Small Biz Should Blog?

I recommend regular email marketing — building and working your prospect and client database — as a primary effort. I’d only blog if you are well along in that area because it is much more scattershot. I also think those with national or web-based businesses benefit more than local businesses.

Here are the types of businesses might benefit from a blog:

  • Consultants, for example a national training consultant
  • Those in industries with a steep learning curve — a wine merchant or condo attorney
  • Firms with certain products or services, especially those related to a lifestyle that you can blog about. For example, someone with camping products can blog about outdoor adventures.
  • Technology companies, for example a provider of online corporate games
  • NOT recommended for the majority of small businesses

What Does It Take?

  • Blogs are easy to set up. It will take longer to determine your login and URL than to start blogging.
  • BUT they are work to maintain. You need dedicated time each week. Word on the street is that you should post 2-3 times a week, but at minimum once.
  • You need basic writing skills
  • To attract and sustain an audience, you have to produce meaty posts with provocative or informative content.

Examples of Small Biz Blogging Successes

Blog It and They May Come

Blogging’s a Low-Cost, High Return MarketingTool

Blog-a-Thon: Your Company’s Blog Should Be One of Your Strongest Marketing Tools, so Get Talking

Where to Set up a Blog

www.blogger.com (A Google site, and it’s free for now.)

www.wordpress.com (Free for now)

www.typepad.com (14 day trial. $4.95 per month)

How to Get Traffic on Your Website from Bloggers

Even if you don’t blog, you should identify key bloggers in your industry, start reading them, and consider posting comments to increase the visibility of your business. Here’s how.

How to Get Traffic and Links from Popular Blogs

Meet the Press: How to get Good PR for Yourself in the Blogosphere

Where to Find Blogs of Interest

Just put your favorite keywords into the search box at either site below and start surfing around. Also be sure to check out the links (sometimes called a blogroll) on the sites you find. If you follow this serendipitous route, you’ll find your hot spots.

http://www.technorati.com

http://blogsearch.google.com

How to Read A Blog

Understanding and Reading a Blog (for Newcomers)

Top Blogs About Small Business

See a recent post on this site.

Sample Client and Counselor Blogs

We’re new at this too, remember.

Jeff Lipincott http://jlippin.blogspot.com and http://lippin.wordpress.co

Ken Larson http://smalltofeds.blogspot.com

Peg Corwin Small Biz Web 2.0 Weblog http://scorechicago.wordpress.com and http://LearnedAtSCORE.wordpress.com.

Sample SCORE Client blog:

http://www.chicagocondosonline.blogspot.com/ This is an excellent blog about condos in Chicago, written by an entrepreneur who has created “the Ultimate Condo Database.” The author is also a Columbia Journalism School grad and former editor of Readers Digest, so the headlines are snappy and the writing is clean and colorful.

“Blogs in Plain English” Video

What did I miss? Help me out, here, and leave comment.

(My too-quick little mouse accidentally deleted an earlier version of this post.)

Peg Corwin, SCORE Chicago

Please be aware that you may now schedule your free local business counseling appointment online HERE

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