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Business Basics Workshop Topics

There are a lot of “i’s” to dot and “t’s” to cross (why is it never “j’s” to dot and “x’s” to cross?) when you start a business — make sure you’re not overlooking an important administrative or legal to-do, with this assemblage of “get-your-litigitory-ducks-in-a-row-before-you-end-up-in-court” seminars. The content is based on my book, “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career” — however, these workshops are appropriate for all consultants and freelancers (from organizing to coaching, from accounting to graphic art, from personal training to interior design, from corporate training to project management — and everything in-between). If you’re an independent contractor who sees clients (and plans on maybe getting paid for your services) — this educational series is for you!

Each can be scheduled for any size professional group as a live private teleseminar/webinar or an in-person event — I’m prepared to give you anywhere from 90 minutes of my life to several days in a row, whatever it takes to make sure you understand the concepts you need to succeed. I’m also happy to shorten, lengthen, cut-and-paste, moosh together multiple topics, or otherwise customize the content to suit your attendees’ schedule, interests, and budget. And if you’re one lone entrepreneur flying solo in the world, you can certainly purchase a pre-recorded download of the program to listen to in the comfort of your own home/office. (Just as soon as I get a chance to tape it fer ya!)

Clip Art -- Speaking Easel 2Consequences And Implications:
Setting Up Your Business The Right Way

Choosing an entity is more than a an administrative chore. Your business structure can limit the types of commercial relationships you enter into, raise your tax bill, cause you to be held personally liable for company debt, and even influence your hiring practices — this workshop discusses the pros/cons of each option, and outlines some basic legal issues you’ll need to consider before you hang out your shingle:

  • choosing the right legal entity (and making a smart, affordable decision about how to register it)
  • sole proprietorship, forming a partnership, incorporation, and limited liability companies
  • alternative business models to consider
  • rule of law at the local, state, and federal level
  • a word of warning for do-it-yourselfers
  • mutually-beneficial barter agreements

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 4Taking A Shortcut To Your Dreams:
Buying An Existing Service Business

One way for new entrepreneurs to skip the “start‐up” phase (and vets to expand more rapidly) is to purchase a going concern that already has a solid brand and an established customer base. But buying an existing company is a complicated process — doing it the RIGHT way involves a lot of fact-gathering. This workshop looks at the due diligence steps you need to take before signing on the dotted line:

  • evaluating your options means kicking a lot of tires
  • the danger of biting off more than you can chew
  • valuing the company and duly doing true due diligence
  • the sales agreement, closing, and seller installment plans
  • becoming a franchisee (a.k.a. “it’s all about the trade-off”)
  • a quick word about licensing

Clip Art -- Speaking Easel 2Keeping It Legal With The IRS:
Establishing Yourself As An Independent Contractor

Whether you’re flying solo or subcontracting for another company, you must demonstrate “independent contractor” status (through both your company policies and professional actions) — in order to be classed and taxed as self-employed, rather than as an employee. This workshop walks you through the IRS requirements, offering actionable steps for putting each into practice in your business:

  • why you want to be independent (I promise – it’s a good thing!)
  • 3 types of control over your business
  • you might be an employee if…
  • common subcontracting mistakes
  • protecting your interests is as easy as 1-2-3
  • the consequences if you’re classed an “employee”

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 4Covering Your Assets:
Commercial Risk Assessment And Insurance Coverage

What if your computer is stolen during a business trip, or you break a someone else’s stuff while on a job, or a client sues you for negligence? Insurance is a craps shoot — you might use it, you might not. But you can’t take a “wait and see” stance — when it’s time to file that claim, it’s already too late! This workshop takes a look at the reasons for (and likelihood of) needing different types of commercial coverage:

  • striking a balance between safe and sorry
  • liability protection
  • property protection
  • income protection
  • comprehensive combination insurance packages
  • do you need to be bonded?

Clip Art -- Speaking Easel 2A Rose By Any Other Name:
Christening Your Baby, Your Business, Your Brand

Your nom de guerrre is your hardest‐working promotional tool. It’s responsible for catching folks’ attention, giving them a sense of your professional personality, illustrating what you do for a living, making you stand out from the crowd — all before anyone’s even met you! This workshop guides you through the process of choosing a company name that will serve your best interests for years to come:

  • branding that lasts a lifetime
  • your company name determines your company structure
  • finding the right tagline for your services
  • avoiding that cease-and-desist letter
  • registering a fictitious name
  • protecting your brand with trademarks and service marks

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 4Confusion And Conflict Vs. Clarity And Communication:
Creating A Defensible Service Contract

Do you need a written agreement? Only if you want to get paid and keep your patrons happy! This workshop teaches you to construct a contract that educates folks about how you work, establishes your policies up front, puts forth a consistent set of procedures, protects your interests if a problem arises, claims your “independent contractor” status, and adds a measure of professionalism to your interactions:

  • why you need a written client agreement
  • key contract clauses for consultants and freelancers
  • proactive policies to prevent problems
  • clarifying your roles and responsibilities
  • it takes two to tango
  • dotting every “j” and crossing every “x”

Clip Art -- Speaking Easel 2Here’s How I Can Help:
The Fine Art Of Writing A Formal Service Proposal

As you start courting bigger clients (especially those in the corporate, government, or non-profit arena who have to justify their budgets to a higher authority), you may be asked to go through an RFP (request for proposal) process. Sounds intimidating and scary, but it’s really not! This workshop walks you through a simple step-by-step process for putting together a compelling professional service proposal:

  • why choose your company, instead of a competitor?
  • major components of your proposal
  • describing your company structure and team
  • clarifying your approach and fees
  • detailing service provision and deliverables
  • constructing a meaningful executive summary

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 4A Place to Call Home (For Your Business)
Choosing And Setting Up Your Office Space

Whether you work from your back bedroom, Starbucks, or an office building, you need a dedicated spot in which to labor. I don’t care if you’re just starting out, haven’t scheduled a single client yet, and are only spending 3 hours a week on your business — you still deserve a flippin’ desk and a file cabinet! This workshop looks at all the factors involved in selecting the most conducive environment for your work:

  • working where you live, living where you work
  • setting up a space of your own
  • creating a mobile office
  • remote office center
  • choosing an off-site location
  • equipping your office the affordable way

Clip Art -- Speaking Easel 2Routines, Systems, Methodologies, And Boundaries:
Your Business Policies And Procedures

Procedures are the glue that holds a company together — preventing numbskull mistakes, making routine tasks easier, and insuring a consistently positive customer experience. This workshop focuses on creating a cohesive set of policies to govern daily activities — plus drawing healthy boundaries around how you interact with clients, structure your schedule, and protect your time/space from intruders:

  • small business communication fundamentals
  • tracking contacts and follow-ups – the key to converting leads into clients
  • intentionally structuring your work day
  • making regular space in your schedule for “administrative time”
  • drawing proactive work boundaries (and teaching others to respect them)
  • choosing “value-driven” policies

Clip Art -- Speaking Microphone 4The Ethics Of Good Customer Service:
Taking Care Of Business By Caring For Clients

Ethics isn’t just about making tough moral decisions and protecting client confidentiality — it also means giving the folks who hire you a reliably quality service experience, every time. This workshop looks at the many ways (some common sense, some more esoteric) in which you can strengthen or inadvertently destroy your reputation as a “trusted advisor” with the level of customer service you provide:

  • avoiding scheduling delays
  • ethical pricing, payment, and billing practices
  • keeping your promises
  • taking responsibility when things go wrong
  • candor and honesty
  • subcontracting concerns

Clip Art -- Speaking Easel 2Laying It Out On Paper:
The Nuts And Bolts Of Your Business Plan

It may sound silly, but the sheer act of creating a business plan can take your company to the next level. Writing equals clarification — when you figure out exactly what you need to succeed, you’re more likely to follow your dreams through to the end. This workshop will help you turn all those vague ideas about what you want your career to look like into reality by defining, quantifying, and solidifying them on paper:

  • the purpose behind your business plan
  • creating a vision and a mission for your enterprise
  • the nuts and bolts of how you run your company
  • business plan financials – a crucial step (whether you’re asking for funding or not)
  • holding yourself accountable to your goals
  • revisiting, reviewing, and revising your business plan

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and RamonaCreel.com.

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