Answer User Questions about BusinessManagement Tips

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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.

How effective are project management software tools?

Project Management Pointers

The advent of the personal computer and the wealth of software available have changed for the better how managers work. Despite these significant improvements, a couple of tips should be considered:
1. BPM (Business Process Mapping) and related tools are great for understanding project management components. But that is pretty much the extent of their usefulness. I have observed and managed many situations where the process of mapping flows and estimating lead and lag times and other quasi-quantifications has actually resulted in a loss of effective control over the project. Parallel use of simpler spreadsheet approaches tailored precisely to your project and its components may be equally effectual.
2. Cost tracking and meeting schedule goals are the essence of good project management. These are made easier if Cost Accounting principles (see previous Tip) are adhered to first and foremost. Schedule difficulties always follow cost difficulties and rarely precede them unless a logistical problem is involved.
3. Prepare for schedule difficulties when bidding (e.g. planning) the project. Customer and marketing considerations often drive a ‘can do' attitude that dictates project schedules. That is a reality of business and best dealt with through appropriate contingency planning as early in the process as possible. Critical path analysis and lead/lag time planning are geared to solving schedule problems, but the reality is that few managers take advantage of time gains made when projects are going well resulting in crisis when the schedule bug strikes. Try to anticipate every potential problem and have a work-around ready to go and success will follow.
An old adage of project management has said that 90% of project funds are expended on the first 50% of the project and the last 90% to finish it! Whether that is true, meaningful or not, keep it in mind because there is a kernel of truth in it.

Can we use your tips in a marketing newsletter we are sending out?

Marketing newsletters

A newsletter should be no different than the front page of a newspaper. It needs to grab the readers attention right off the bat. The first paragraph says it all. Then followed by information that can be valuable to the reader, ending with a summary of what you just said. Use the wisdom of the press to get attention.
Determine what the purpose of the newsletter is. Is it for casual reading, something to be studied or something that will be used as a reference. Talk about things that can be either a benefit to the reader if its a product or information that might help educate them in a subject. Depending on the type of newsletter, you can advertise in a trade journal, by creating a blog site with some samples, smaller weekly publications (Little Nickel)which you can chose from a variety of markets around the country for little cost, classifieds, or by sending samples to key people who might promote your newsletter.

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!

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Lynda Moultry