Business Management Tips

When it comes to Business Management, we've been there, done that, now serving 111 tips in 9 categories ranging from Answer User Questions about BusinessManagement to Team Building Tools.

How do you plan a home addition?

How to Plan An Addition

Is your home too small? Do you want to add value by adding more living space? If so, the best place to start is to take inventory of your existing space. Are there specific rooms that you need expansion in? Expansion of a master bedroom, kitchen, or bathroom can make a home feel like brand new.

Once you have identified where you want to expand, take a look at what is beyond the walls you want to move to see where you can expand. It is a good idea to check the easements that your city or town allows, to see if you have enough room to expand between your existing home and the property line. If not, is there a closet you can live without that can be sacrificed?

If you DO have the room to move walls, the next step is to make a rough scale drawing of what you want. You can do it in pencil, but make sure that you mark closets, doors, windows, and stairwells clearly. Take your drawing to a design and build contractor, or an architect to be drawn into a permit worthy set of plans.

Your architect or designer will most likely have to create a floor plan and elevation drawings of your entire home for review by the building department, and this will be a process. If you are changing anything structurally, your prints will also have to be stamped by an engineer who will also have to create a beam and/or foundation plan.

Once this is complete and signed off, you are ready to begin!

How do you choose the colors you want to live with?

How to Choose Paint Colors

A new coat of paint in an exciting color can transform a dull and boring room into a warm and inviting living area. To choose your paint color, the best approach is to find a design program that allows you to enter the dimensions and key furniture pieces of your room, and try different colors on the walls. Chief Architect, used by many architects and contractors, does a beautiful job of this. If you are not working with a professional who has this software, many of the paint company websites offer a similar free service accessible from their site. Take a look at different colors imposed on the walls of your space and see what looks good. Many times, what looks great on a paint swatch will not look good over an entire wall.

After you have simulated your results, buy a small amount of two or three paint colors you like the best, some primer, and some pieces of plywood. Scrap wood works great here. Prime them first, then paint as large an area as you can with your chosen paint colors. Hold each piece of plywood up next to key pieces of your decor, such as paintings, sofas, and other furniture. Does it look good with all the colors you already have?

Finally, ask your family members for their opinions, as they live there too!

Some other basic rules of thumb are these:

1) Use a glossy paint in bathrooms and kitchens as it washes easily
2) Use a satin finish if you want an elegant look, and a matte finish if you want to make a nice backdrop for art and other wall hangings.
3) Dark colors make a room look smaller, and lighter colors make a room look bigger. If you have a small space, stick to light colors.

What is the process for selecting the right contractor for YOUR home project?

How to Select a Contractor

Selecting a contractor for your remodeling or addition project is the most important step you can take! To select the best contractor, first of all, visit one of the many sites that provide prescreened contractors in your area. Two of the best are Reliable Remodeler and Service Magic. Service Magic actually features a rating system, so that you can see how the contractor has performed on similar projects. Secondly, schedule an estimate, which should be free, with three or four different contractors. Pay attention to how much detail they uncover while doing the walkthrough, and how carefully they assess your property and plans. Ask for references, and check them thoroughly. Check each bid not only for price, but also for the amount of detail included. If a bid is not very detailed, chances are that the contractor has left something out that will show up as a change order later. Also check to see if the bid has the payment schedule written out, and all the legal disclaimers that are supposed to be on your contract or bid form (you can find this out by checking the website of your local licensing board). Check the contractor's license to make sure it is valid. Last but not least, make sure that you have good "chemistry" - you will be working with this person for quite some time so it is important that you have a friendly rapport.


Development and Integration – Parallel Not Sequential Functions

A recurring nightmare in management of technology development projects is the role of integration in the development process. Engineers and other technical professionals often become so involved with the issues of development that they push the important integration function off to the last moment. It is a typical alligator and swamp dilemma – which comes first?

The solution to this problem is exactly the same as with all technical problems; hard work and good management. The difference is that the good manager plans for incremental integration as early as possible in the development cycle. Incremental in this sense means partial and continuing. Engineers will balk at this approach citing the need to solve the problem before packaging and applying it in a real-world scenario. That is, frankly, an invitation to overrun and many long nights and weekends. A basic design principle best summarizes the situation: Design for form, fit and function. Function follows form and fit and if you follow that simple order you will seldom fail.


Life in the Fast Lane

Successful managers are frequently faced with the difficult position of mixing one's family responsibilities with the demands of business. Effectively dealing with this dilemma can yield great results personally and in one's role as a manager.

Some people hold that business must always come first, even at the expense of the family. Others feel that balance, in the classic Chinese philosophical mold, is the ultimate solution. Unfortunately, a bit of both is more the case. Approach the conundrum as you would any other business problem. Evaluate the situation carefully and prioritize your findings. Recognizing that some business functions are time critical, such as proposal deadlines, client schedules and tax dates, place a rating on each. Do the same with your personal circumstances. You will quickly come to the conclusion that you can efficiently manage these often conflicting requirements of life to the ultimate satisfaction of all parties.

Notes: If you sense that all your business situations have the highest priority, then something is wrong with you, your management or your staffing level. Bad managers often use crisis management as a misguided motivational tool. The same applies to your personal life. Vacations are a needed benefit and readily schedulable. However, things like births and illnesses are not. Use your discretion wisely to avoid conflicts and the added stress they add to your life. Finally, my life and career experience has consistently shown that the vast majority of managers and family members are eminently reasonable. Communicate your issues clearly and concisely and you will have little difficulty balancing business and life.


Picking the Bad Apple

Every employee will be faced with the reality of having an incompetent, untrustworthy or dishonest associate within the work environment. Managers are no exception, though they have more tools with which to deal with that ‘bad apple' than most employees. Know your company's employee manual inside out and first use the remedies provided therein to deal with the problem. Sometimes the offending person is a favorite or perceived ‘untouchable' within the organization. In those cases, discretion is very important. If anonymous remedies exist, use them. Otherwise, consider use of high visibility opportunities to set the stage for the bad apple to ‘pick' themselves. Care must be taken to avoid reprisal, though, so proceed with caution. Knowing the offender's tendencies, judicious use of questioning in meetings, seminars and encounters where superiors are present, may provide the path needed to clean up the apple cart.

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Lynda Moultry