Follow these steps to become financially independent.

Success can mean many different things to people in the service and repair business. To some it's making a profit from their business that grows every year; to others it may mean setting the business up so it runs with minimal input from the owner; and to some business owners it means receiving a certain level of income from the business.

While some business owners view their business and financial situation as having achieved success, another may receive the same revenue and not believe he has reached his goal. Think about it: what is your goal for success?

Despite individual differences in determining what success is, I would like to raise the standard. I would like to see service and repair business owners, who often work very hard in their business, including long hours, reach a new level. And that level involves freedom - the freedom to be able to take the profits from the businesses and invest in other growing assets. Currently real estate in many areas is increasing in value faster than many other investments; sometimes it's stocks or other assets that make sense to own.

I am not advocating trading the assets of your business, or the business itself for investments. Instead, I am suggesting that you maximize two aspects of your business to be able to enjoy some diversification, profit and freedom to determine what you would like to do with your resources.

The two aspects of your business that need to be maximized are the revenue your receive from your business (let's increase that amount) and the time you have available to do what you want to do. You can attempt to accomplish the task by yourself, or you can get professional assistance and accelerate the process. What looks like an unaffordable expense is often a sound investment in your business to produce the benefits you need, time and revenue - and produce them faster.

Steps To Success - Preparation

Let's assume you recognize that professional help with a plan to quickly build your business is going to pay dividends, and you are ready to focus on your goal for success at the level that permits you to spend time away from the business and have resources to invest. Just making that first big step, although frequently the most difficult, has positioned you for a new level of success. Let's build on that step and prepare for our ultimate goal.

Part of our preparation for our new level of success is relatively simple, but it requires discipline. Some of the actions necessary will include the following fundamentals:

  • Eliminate debt.
  • Reduce spending.
  • Increase income.
Let me elaborate on some of these. Eliminating debt is not easy. People are often advised to pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first. However you pay off debts, begin now. Payoff small ones first if necessary, but get started. Debt costs precious resources and it is often accepted or tolerated while new debts are created. Easy credit and the universal acceptance of credit cards has contributed to more debt than most people would like to have. Start today. Eliminate debt.

Closely related to eliminating debt and contributing to your success in doing so is cutting spending. It is easier than most of us would guess to reduce what we spend. Before a plan to reduce spending has a chance of being implemented and working, you have to have the necessary tools. One of those tools is information. Where do you spend your money? You have to track your expenses so you can see how you spend your money. How much for dining out last month? How much for travel and vacation? Every item seems necessary and even reasonable when you make the purchase, but when you add up all the expenses it amounts to a lot of money.

Increasing your income works in synergy with the debt reduction and diminished use of credit cards. Although it sounds challenging, increasing your income is a realistic possibility. First, let's focus on the business. If you are not employing the latest in customer service techniques, flat rate pricing and marketing service agreements, you are not maximizing the revenue from your business.

We see businesses every week that have substantial potential but are running along at half-speed because they lack the techniques used by the most successful businesses. Technicians who are not trained to ask for add-on business or look for other systems in the customer's home or business, for example, are leaving money on the table - your money.

Telephone answering is often a problem in service and repair businesses (have someone call your business and ask about service and repair work some time). Without training and the use of a script, call-takers are not effective at booking the appointment for service work that the caller needs; nor are they efficient in the use of their time. They will tend to stay on the telephone too long to schedule the service call, and may even talk the caller out of hiring your company. Are they still quoting prices over the phone without a technician looking at the work that needs to be done? A risky practice.

Steps To Success - The Structure

Just like framing a house, you have to have a basic framework to hold your investment program. Part of that framework involves putting in place the resources to protect you in the future. For example, one of the first parts of assembling a framework for investing is to set aside a reserve of six months of income that will protect you in the event of unforeseen negative circumstances. No one could predict the 9/11 situation, yet it cost many businesses a lot of money. Seems like everyone was on hold, except for possibly the security business. Events like that and changing conditions may necessitate having some standby funds available. Although it is not an enticing practice, follow the experts' guidelines here and set it aside. You will be glad you did, if for no other reason than you followed a system and exercised the discipline to complete that step in the path to success.

Next, begin acquiring income-producing assets. I am not referring to cars, collectibles or expensive furniture; those are hobbies that may or may not produce consistent, predictable revenue. I am referring to real estate or a well-thought-out selection of stocks or bonds. Exceptionally high rates of return are not needed; in fact, they may be associated with risky investments, ones to avoid. Steady, reasonably safe income-producing investments are what you should seek.

Steps To Success - Work The Plan

Now that you have the preparation and framework in place, the rest is easy. However, it requires something that is often difficult to muster, and that is discipline. You must have the discipline to allow the system to work. For instance, stay away from using credit cards; resist the temptation to get into debt, and only acquire income-producing assets. If you want to purchase a nonincome-producing asset, pay cash. Money should be borrowed only to purchase income-producing assets.

At the same time, keep contributing maximum amounts to your retirement plans or IRAs. Stay the course and maintain your focus on income and avoid needless consumption expenses. The key to this phase is being consistent in keeping the system going.

How do you know when you've achieved a goal or met a standard? Easy. As soon as your investment income exceeds the overhead expenses you need to enjoy the lifestyle you like, you have made it. That means regardless of the ups and downs of the business, you can cover all your monthly expenses from another source. You are, as they say, financially independent. Your independence stems from the fact that you need not depend on the business for your expenses.

Naturally, the more modestly you live (used cars, only the house you need, etc.) the easier it is to achieve this goal. But it certainly is worth the discipline and reduced consumption (being fashionable is expensive) to be free.