Growing your business: Going from solo agent to team

Three pros share their best advice for growing a team and avoiding mistakes along the way

Key Takeaways

  • You can't grow efficiently without the right team members and a good system in place.
  • Overlook personal preference, and make sure you're hiring the best candidate for the right reasons.
  • If a hire isn't helping you double or triple your output within the first 90 days, he or she isn't the right person, and you should quickly move on.

SAN FRANCISCO — Growth. Everyone wants it, but not everyone knows how to achieve it. Luckily for those looking to grow by transitioning from solo agent to team, Tuesday’s Agent Connect was full of answers; Vija Williams, Keir Weimer and Danielle Lazier took the Inman stage to share some valuable insights and address questions about building a team the best way possible.

Williams has a team of 10 at the Vija Group in Seattle, Washington; Weimer has been running a team of eight people in upstate New York for about two and half years; and Lazier runs a team of four at Danielle Lazier and Associates at Compass.

Although each took a different path to growth and team building, they all made it happen — and here’s a little glimpse into how.

How long were you solo, and what made you expand?

“Judging by their ages, longer than them,” Williams quipped, referred to her fellow panelists. “So, I was a solo agent for most of my career — for about 13 years — before I started a team, which I think makes me a little bit unusual.”

Vija Williams

Vija Williams

Williams said her lengthy run as a solo agent was a bit of a “handicap” because she’d gotten so entrenched in her independent ways. Even so, she knew building a team was the right path for her.

“When we started, I was about a $10 million-a-year individual real estate agent,” she said. That was back in December 2013. Today, Williams’ team is set to close $80 or $90 million, “and so it’s been very fast rise,” she said.

So why exactly did Williams decide to expand? The agent said she wanted the next stage of her career to involve growing through others: “This is the stage of my life — and my career, now — where I get more joy derived out of giving real estate agents careers and amazing lives than I do selling out houses at this stage. Leadership is what floats my boat.”

Williams says the rush and joy most agents get when they’re “selling houses across that kitchen table” is the rush she gets when she watches one of her agents succeed. It’s watching an agent make a sale or buy a car or go on vacation or buy a house that makes me way more excited now, she said.

“That’s when you know you should be a team leader, I think,” she added.

Keir Weimer

Keir Weimer

On the other end of the spectrum, Weimer was in the real estate business for just over two years before he decided to expand. After benefiting from a “breakout” second year, he felt the need to form “a structure and an organization that could really scale, but could do it in an organic way where we weren’t sacrificing service and marketing and experience for our client,” he said.

Weimer’s vision grew exponentially in that second year, and he knew a team would be the best vehicle for profitable development.

Lazier was a solo agent for about seven years before starting the process of growing a team, which she said involved many phases. The team she has today is four years old, but she has business partnerships that are much older.

Danielle Lazier

Danielle Lazier

What was your biggest team-building mistake?

“I got a little burned out and I completely disengaged from my team,” Williams said. Her short answer left us wanting more, but she’ll be taking the main stage later to reveal details about what she called an “absolute epic failure.”

Weimer said his mistake was not immediately recognizing the need to slow down in order to speed up. Focusing on establishing systems, finding the right people and building a strong structure is necessary if you’re planning to grow.

“I was all top-line. I was all leads, portfolio development … just trying to grow … but then we had the volume come in and we weren’t able to handle it.” You can’t grow efficiently without a good system in place. Weimer recommends focusing on the processes.

“Realize that, if you can build a house the right way, it’s going to be much better for everybody — team members, clients and yourself — as you grow,” he said.

Lazier says people often make the mistake of building a team for the wrong reasons. Teaming up has become trendy for real estate professionals, and Lazier admits that’s what drew her to the idea — at first.

She knew she wanted to mentor and do something bigger that what she was capable of doing on her own. She wanted to scale without sacrificing the five-star service she normally gave her clients, and figuring out how to do it was a learning process. Diving into something new without thinking everything through would be a mistake.

“Are you looking for a business partner? Or are you looking for team member? Are you looking for someone who’s really good with sellers? Really good with buyers? Someone who is going to do your administrative work?” These are all questions Lazier asked herself.

These positions require very different personality traits. The right hires may not be the ones you relate to most, but they’ll definitely be the ones who benefit the team. Don’t make the mistake of hiring someone you like if he or she isn’t the right fit.

Who is the most important first hire?

“Oh, that’s easy — that is your executive assistant. That’s your licensed assistant,” answered Lazier. Solo agents can double their business, at the very least, by adding a licensed assistant to their team.

Believing in yourself plays a role in the hiring process: “I was all ‘field of dreams,'” said Lazier. “I was a new agent. I was younger. I was in this bigger office. I’d just come over and I knew where I was going. I hired someone and she came in 10-15 hours a week.”

She remembers the curious looks from other agents, but paid no mind because she knew exactly where she wanted to go and how to get there — by hiring her assistant.

Weimer agreed that the executive assistant was the way to go when contemplating first hires — they take many things off your plate and leave you better able to focus on business-building tasks. His advocacy comes even after his first experience turned out a little rough: The assistant he hired proved to be the wrong fit and business slowed for a while until he shifted his focus to hiring new sales agents.

“One to three sales agents followed by a simultaneous part-time ISA [inside sales agent] is kind of how we moved into it because we want to — from the beginning — start to develop the opportunities for our outside sales agents to grow their business, and to do that it takes a really skilled person over the phone.”

Weimer said all these team members should be part of your first 18-month growth plan.

Vija said her first hire was a contracted transaction coordinator (TC) that worked for many agents. TCs are the golden ticket, and they’ll typically cost you anywhere from $150 to $500 a file.

Although she agrees that an executive assistant should be your first hire, she says it’s a difficult one: “It’s really tough because it’s not a revenue-generating hire — on the surface, anyway — is it? It’s fixed overhead, and it scares us.”

As agents and salespeople, Vija explained, it’s a very natural inclination to want to hire more agents who will bring in more revenue, but you have to make that first tough hire. Keep in mind that if that hire isn’t helping you double or triple your output within the first 90 days, he or she isn’t the right person and you should quickly move on.

“It doesn’t mean the position is wrong, it just means you don’t have the right person,” she added.

The scoop on ISAs

If you’re an ISA working in Weimer’s office, you’d be tasked with lead nurturing and response and prospecting for listing appointments, which Weimer says is more important.

As far as compensation goes, he says a hybrid model that includes fixed income and commission is best — it improves culture and gives everyone something to celebrate at close. He also suggests implementing a program where agents “pay their dues” for three to six months instead of hiring an ISA.

Weimer believes in creating a culture “where everybody can see each other, talk, role play. And I think that’s not really achieved when you’re outsourcing.”

Williams hired two ISAs who are training to become agents. They “dial for dollars,” she said, explaining that her hires call expired listings, FSBOs and fully act as ISAs.

Lazier doesn’t have an ISA, but that might change soon. “I can tell that I clearly need one,” she said.

If you want to grow without burning out, hiring an ISA might be just what you need. With qualified people and systems in place, you’ll be able to dedicate your time to meeting clients and other immediately profitable activities while your team handles other office necessities.

Successful and profitable growth doesn’t happen with any team — it happens with the right team.

This article was originally posted/written by Inman.

How Long Do Most Families Stay in Their Home?

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) keeps historical data on many aspects of homeownership. One of the data points that has changed dramatically is the median tenure of a family in a home, meaning how long a family stays in a home prior to moving. As the graph below shows, for over twenty years (1985-2008), the median tenure averaged exactly six years. However, since 2008, that average is almost nine years – an increase of almost 50%.

Why the dramatic increase?

The reasons for this change are plentiful!

The fall in home prices during the housing crisis left many homeowners in a negative equity situation (where their home was worth less than the mortgage on the property). Also, the uncertainty of the economy made some homeowners much more fiscally conservative about making a move.

With home prices rising dramatically over the last several years, 93.9% of homes with a mortgage are now in a positive equity situation with 78.8% of them having at least 20% equity, according to CoreLogic.

With the economy coming back and wages starting to increase, many homeowners are in a much better financial situation than they were just a few short years ago.

One other reason for the increase was brought to light by NAR in their 2017 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report. According to the report,

Sellers 36 years and younger stayed in their home for six years…”

These homeowners who are either looking for more space to accommodate their growing families or for better school districts are more likely to move more often (compared to 10 years for typical sellers in 2016). The homeownership rate among young families, however, has still not caught up to previous generations, resulting in the jump we have seen in median tenure!

What does this mean for housing?

Many believe that a large portion of homeowners are not in a house that is best for their current family circumstance; They could be baby boomers living in an empty, four-bedroom colonial, or a millennial couple living in a one-bedroom condo planning to start a family.

These homeowners are ready to make a move, and since a lack of housing inventory is still a major challenge in the current housing market, this could be great news.

This article was originally posted/written by Keeping Current Matters.

Face-to-Face or Facebook? Why You Need Both to Increase Leads

By Todd Sumney

By Todd Sumney

Technology has certainly changed the way business communications and marketing work, especially when it comes to real estate marketing. Listing details, open house locations and agent information can be sent and received in seconds, often right where your prospects prefer to view it, such as in a text message or on a social media platform. This—as opposed to relying on interpersonal, word-of-mouth or traditional avenues of marketing—is easy and highly-appealing due to its instant gratification and low involvement on the receiver’s end.

However, a misconception many agents and brokers have is that lead generation can be accomplished solely through the ease of digital marketing and communication. If you’re growing a brokerage or growing your client base, the marketing communication basics shouldn’t change.

You cannot rely on just one channel to reach all leads.

In short, a balanced blend of both digital and interpersonal communications is the recipe for successful lead generation growth. We can’t forget about the indelible impressions and conversations that happen when interacting with someone face-to-face.

Facebook, with its 1.28 billion daily users around the world, is a staple for any brand or company. A company Facebook page is just as important as having a company website. Social platforms are a fantastic way to build a community presence by giving prospects a place to garner more information about your brand and what the voice and tone are that your company communicates to the world.

Managing any social platform should be done on a scheduled and consistent basis and issues that arise need to be addressed professionally and quickly. If managed properly, social accounts can be an effortless way to boost leads in your real estate business—but social accounts alone cannot replace your personal presence in the community.

Email and texting are standbys in real estate marketing, and your shared content should be relevant to the channel you are using. Email will often be full of useful links and information, whereas texting is an ideal method to communicate quickly and succinctly. However, without interpersonal communication to back these virtual messaging channels up, emails will be deleted and texts may never be answered.

What will completely round out lead generation in your real estate marketing focus is to continue relying on your face-to-face communications and relationships. If you’ve been lax in this area, using only digital marketing to handle the lead gen for you, it’s time to bolster your agenda with in-person meetings, industry events—even phone calls.

Digital communication and marketing alone cannot give your potential clients or future agents the same level of trust and accountability that a face-to-face conversation and solid handshake can do. All non-verbal cues are not created equally.

It wasn’t too long ago that companies wined and dined their clients when establishing a business relationship. When technology entered the workforce, dynamics slowly began to change and loyalties began to fade. This waning lack of interpersonal connections gave clients or leads the ability to slip away as opposed to fortifying their business relationships.

Granted, you won’t be able to personally connect with the same amount of potential leads that you could through a digital channel (this is why digital is great!), but once these agent/client or broker/agent relationships are strengthened by reaching out on all levels, you may find that your leads will begin to grow—and remain loyal—throughout the years.

This article was originally posted/written by RisMedia

How to Sell a House: 6 Tips to Entice Buyers in Record Time

RichLegg/ istock

RichLegg/ istock

Most homeowners about to put their place on the market are most concerned with two things: getting a good price and unloading their property as quickly as possible. After all, time is money, right? The last thing you want is for your home to sit on the market for months without any viable offers.

Below are six shortcuts you can take to make selling your house easier and faster. None of 'em will break the bank. In fact, some of these efforts don't require any cash at all.

1. Shrink your staging costs

Staging your home, which entails hiring a decorator to make your house aesthetically appealing to a prospective buyer, usually pays off big-time. On average, staged homes sell 88% faster and for 20% more than unstaged ones. But staging can be expensive.

Stagers typically charge $300 to $600 for an initial design consultation, and $500 to $600 per month per room. Most professional stagers also require a three-month minimum contract, even if you sell the home in 24 hours, says real estate professional Crystal Leigh Hemphill.

So, if you were selling a 2,000-square-foot home, staging it could cost you over $7,000—ouch!

If you’re on a budget, there’s a cheaper alternative. Virtual staging is a service where tech-savvy professionals take photos of empty (or poorly furnished) rooms and then use photo-editing software to add pretty couches, tables, and other furnishings. These doctored photos can make your online listing more appealing to home buyers. The best part? Virtual staging costs only around $100 per room—and there’s no extra charge per month, because you’re not renting furniture.

Whether you opt for real or virtual staging, make sure you don’t overlook the foyer, because 80% of prospective buyers said they know if a home is right for them within seconds of stepping inside, a recent survey by BMO Financial Group found.

2. Boost curb appeal

Home buyers form their first impression when they pull up to your house. It’s no surprise, then, that curb appeal—how your home looks from the outside—can boost your property's sales value by up to 17%, a Texas Tech University study found. Yes, primping your home's exterior can set you back, moneywise. For example, professional landscaping (which can include installing a stone walkway, planters, shrubs, and trees) costs an average $3,219, according to

To cut costs, you can opt for a less-intensive standard lawn care treatment—including six applications of fertilizer and weed control—which costs on average $330 but yields a whopping 303% return, according to the National Association of Realtors® 2016 Remodeling Impact Report. Or roll up your sleeves and tend to the front yard with your own two hands. (Pro tip: Many cities offer free mulch to residents, says Sarah Hutchinson of

3. Forget about snail mail marketing

While some real estate agents still recommend sellers send mailers to people in the community to announce their new listing, direct mail costs money. A free alternative is social media marketing—promoting your listing on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You could even create a Twitter account for your house like this savvy real estate agent in a Chicago suburb.

To increase how many shares your listing gets, include a video tour, floor plan, and professional photos with your listing.

4. Brighten up the living space

No buyer wants to walk into a dark, dreary house. Fortunately, there are several low-cost ways you can improve the lighting in your home. Wall mirrors amplify light, so install a few throughout the home (for example, over the fireplace, behind the dining table, in the master bedroom). Swapping out lightbulbs for ones with higher lumens can also "up the intensity of light in the room,” says New York City designer Jack Menashe. And make sure you remove or push aside heavy drapery in order to let in more natural light.

5. Promote energy-efficient upgrades

Making your home more energy-efficient—say, by insulating the attic, installing a programmable thermostat, or weatherstripping doors and windows—can be a huge selling point to home buyers. After all, a typical American family spends nearly $2,000 a year on their home energy bills, according to; much of that money, however, is wasted on air leaks and drafts.

So, if your home’s energy bills are considerably low, you can provide prospective buyers with an energy audit—a $200 to $400 report from a professional that shows just how energy-efficient your home is. In fact, home buyers are willing to pay more for a home that has lower utility costs; on average, they’ll shell out an additional $10,732 upfront to save $1,000 a year in utilities, the National Association of Home Builders reports. That might explain why 94% of home buyers recently surveyed by NAHB said they want Energy Star–rated appliances.

6. Build buzz in advance

You need to do everything you can to get people talking about your house before it hits the market. This includes promoting your home on all your social media channels, sending a mass email to your network, and knocking on neighbors’ doors. Another clever way to build buzz is to have a garage sale, where you can drum up interest and sell some of your old "junk." (Bonus: Clearing out your house will make it easier for you to move later.)

Meanwhile, your real estate agent should be spreading the word that your home is coming on the market soon to clients, investors, developers, and other agents. Who knows—you might even receive an offer before your scheduled listing date and avoid the hassle of putting your house on the market altogether.

 This article was originally posted/written by

5 Things You Should Do to Stay Happy, Passionate and Productive While You Work

Don't fear Mondays -- embrace them and improve them with these simple tips.

Image credit: Hero Images | Getty Images

Image credit: Hero Images | Getty Images

Even with our diverse entrepreneurial responsibilities and our somewhat exciting livelihoods, it could be easy for my brother Matthew and I to get caught up in bland working routines. But, we’re able to guard against this pitfall of entrepreneurship with some useful techniques we’ve learned over the years.

Here are our five tips to start every day motivated, productive and passionate.

1. Set goals to get yourself pumped.

It’s hard to kick butt when you don't know what you want to do. At the beginning of the day, make a short list of goals to fulfill by the evening. They should be achievable and highly productive relative to your long-term goals. Everyone loves the feeling of crossing something off their list, and a physical recording of your objectives that you can check off will keep you motivated and on track throughout the day.

2. Kick off your morning with something you enjoy.

Matthew and I make it a point to always start (and end) our days on a positive note. What gets you going even on sleepy or extra busy days? Is it a jog during sunrise? A hot cup of coffee or tea? Listening to your favorite business podcast over breakfast? No matter what it is, make sure you carve out enough time in your morning routine to fit it into your day.

3. Stay on a roll.

Don’t let yourself get lazy. The “snooze” button on your alarm may be tempting, but lying around in bed -- whether you’re asleep or browsing social media for ten minutes -- will sap your motivation and prevent you from getting that energetic head start on your day. Don’t let the internet suck you in, no matter how many times you tell yourself it’s the last news story you’ll read or the last YouTube video you’ll watch. Stay on a roll and keep crossing things off that list of goals you created earlier.

4. Check in with someone.

Teaming up with someone not only helps hold you accountable, but it makes the work day eons more exciting and rewarding. Join forces with someone from your entrepreneurial community, a friend or a family member to update on your progress and bounce your energy off. My brother and I interact several times a day, so even though we live far apart, we’re never in business alone.

The right person will help you push through when times get tough and celebrate your wins by your side. Make sure you do the same for them, too!

5. Stay organized.

Though your workspace should probably stay relatively clean and tidy, that’s not the only thing you need to keep organized to achieve what I call the “passion warrior” mindset. Lay out an agenda (in a paper planner or an organization app) so you aren’t scrambling to remember important dates and deadlines right before they sneak up on you.

Keep your business plans and documented progress in a neat and easily accessible spot. Work on one or two tasks at a time instead of taking on everything at once. An organized mindset is a productive and passionate one.

This article was originally posted/written by

84% of Americans Believe Buying a Home is a Good Financial Decision

According to the National Association of Realtors®’ 2017 National Housing Pulse Survey, 84% of Americans now believe that purchasing a home is a good financial decision. This is the highest percentage since 2007 – before the housing crisis. Those surveyed pointed out five major reasons why they believe homeownership is a good financial decision:

  1. Homeownership means the money you spend on housing goes towards building equity, rather than to a landlord
  2. Homeownership creates the opportunity to pay off a mortgage and own your home by the time you retire
  3. Homeownership is an investment opportunity that builds long-term wealth and increases net worth
  4. Homeownership means a stable and predictable monthly mortgage payment
  5. Homeownership allows for various deductions on federal, state, and local income taxes

The survey also revealed that the majority of Americans strongly agree that homeownership helps create safe, secure, and stable environments.

Bottom Line

Homeownership has always been and still is a crucial part of the American Dream.

This article was originally posted/written by Keeping Current Matters.

The Fall Colors For Home You'll Soon Be Seeing Everywhere

Already thinking about how to jazz up your home with the latest fall trends and newest colors? Even in the dead of summer, it's hard to keep from thinking ahead, especially because autumn décor can be so dreamy. This year, get a head start on the new season with the fall colors you'll be seeing a lot of soon.

"At the International Home + Housewares showPantone Executive Director Leatrice Eiseman made a long-anticipated announcement when she shared the upcoming color trends for 2018," said Martha Stewart. "Eight color groups were announced: Verdure, Resourceful, Playful, Discretion, Far-fetched, Intricacy, Intensity and TECH-nique."

This Elderberry Wine paint from Benjamin Moore falls under "Discretion," and is an unexpected hit of color in a built-in that brings new life to the space.


Millennial pink isn't gone, and, in fact, it's still going strong with demographics far beyond millennials. But a hot new shade of pink is gaining on it. Benjamin Moore's Tissue Pink is a good place to start to incorporate this hue into your home.

We love the rosy bed in this room from Decoholic, especially with the pink contrasted against the grey and metallic accents.


Speaking of metallic, it's not going anywhere, according to International Color Expert Leatrice Eiseman. "Metallics we know are classic," she said on Home Accents Today. "But they have really moved over into neutrals." We certainly see no signs of these shiny metals waning. Same goes for the iridescent trend: "The human eye can absolutely not avoid anything iridescent, pearlized or translucent, since being intrigued by shimmering, shiny objects is "intrinsic to human development."

If you're looking to bring metallics into your home for fall, today's finish du jour is brass.

Dark green

Tired of that all-white kitchen? This'll give your place a boost. Show off that marble with a dark contrast by splashing deep, rich green - a top color trend for fall - on the walls and cabinets.

"Dark paint"

"Forget farmhouse white and gray! This season, it's all about drama," said House Beautiful. "PPG Paints, Glidden Paints, and Olympic Paints & Stains all announced cozy shades of black as their 2018 Color of the Year -  Black Flame (PPG1043-7), Deep Onyx (00NN 07/000), and Black Magic (OL116), respectively."

Matte black

Moody black is included under the dark paint umbrella, but when it comes to black, it's not a glossy finish that's being courted. Get ready to go matte.

Not ready to take the plunge on the walls? Black matte home décor is everywhere right now.

Chocolate brown

Chocolate brown is also on the rise, providing a rich alternative to all that grey that's been everywhere over the last several years and "the all-white, minimalistic homes that have taken over Pinterest," said CountryLiving. Their article titled "Brown is the new black" notes that, "trends are cyclical, and now, we're seeing homeowners embracing earthier shades and a more maximalist style—both of which can either cozy up more modern interiors or enhance historic woodwork of older homes. Basically, brown is a win-win-and anything but basic."

This article was originally posted/written by Realty Times.

7 Must-Have Mudroom Ideas for Your Home

Looking at mudroom ideas and planning a remodel—no matter how small or large—might seem like a deep back-burner project, especially if your kitchen cabinets need an overhaul and every shrub in the yard is begging to be pruned. But adding smart details to your entryway might actually save you time and reduce daily stress. And while you're at it, why not give yourself a stylish and well-organized place to store every shoe, umbrella, and set of keys so you never lose your head trying to find them again?

These are the seven decorative elements that every good mudroom (aka a high-traffic area by the front door) needs.

1. Umbrella dilemma


The first thing you want to do with a dripping umbrella when you enter the house is drop it. But try to resist this urge and instead stuff it into a handsome vessel.

"Choose something unexpected like an old crock or an oversized ceramic pitcher," suggests Carole Marcotte, an interior designer with Form & Function, in Raleigh, NC. Just make sure any container you select is tall enough to accommodate umbrellas of various lengths.

If you have enough depth in your mudroom, build in narrow cubbies or a crosshatch rack for umbrella storage, says Mark Lestikow, CEO of Closet Factory Colorado.

2. Writing on the wall

A chalkboard or whiteboard strategically placed on the wall of your mudroom is the perfect solution for alerting your gang about dental appointments, important phone numbers, and any other reminder you need to jot down.

"Post a calendar in this space, too," says Jamie Novak, organizing pro and author of "Keep This Toss That." Use a highlighter or attach neon sticky notes on those days that have a different schedule.

3. Hook 'em

An abundance of hooks in all sizes is a must in any mudroom. Think beyond the standard three-hook hangers you can buy at your favorite home decor store.

"You need lots and lots of hooks for car keys, your work lanyard, dog leashes, shopping bags, backpacks, your purse, jackets, baseball caps, scarves, and more," says Novak.

"You'll also need a hook for the dog's towel when she comes in muddy and wet from her walk," adds Lorena Canals, founder of the eponymous home accessories brand. For the little ones in your house, hang a second row of hooks at kid height.

4. Mirror, mirror

Hang a mirror so you can get a last-minute glance at your mug before heading out the door. Getting a full-length one is even better if you have the space, notes Novak. Get creative with multiple mirrors of varying sizes like the circular ones seen above.

"You're passing through this space multiple times a day; you want it to make you smile," she says.

5. Smart storage

You can't just throw everything on a hook or in a basket and call it a day.

Amy Bell, owner of Red Chair Interiors in Cary, NC, recommends shelves for footwear, rather than baskets or bins.

"Shoes are just easier to put away and retrieve from hard-surface storage, and they tend to look tidier all lined up in a row," she says. You can also add a stash spot for sunglasses, phones, mail, receipts, and small change.

You'll also want to designate a spot for bags, backpacks, and laptop cases so they aren't just plopped on a chair or bench.

"I also like to keep an open shelf in the mudroom for things that need returning, such as library books or the neighbor's lasagna dish," says Bell. Also consider a section in your mudroom for items that can be rotated out seasonally (gloves and scarves in winter; swim goggles, sunscreen, and bug spray in summer).

6. Have a seat

At the very least, place a bench in the mudroom where the family can sit to put on their shoes. Marcotte recommends old locker benches.

"They have an interesting, industrial look, and kids can't beat them up any more than they already are," she says. Or poke around a flea market for a lone church pew and place baskets underneath. If you want to go the built-in route (like the mudroom above), you can design it with pull-out drawers below the bench.

7. Charge it

While hooks and baskets are the mudroom standard, modern families often have a number of outlets with chargers on a rack to hold everyone's phone, says Lestikow. It might seem counterintuitive, but installing this tech station right by the door might encourage kids—and adults—to power down their devices earlier and finish the day face to face.

 This article was originally posted/written by

5 Ways to Master the Persistence That Makes a Great Entrepreneur

A good-enough idea you never give up on will look like brilliance when you succeed.

Image credit: Willie B. Thomas | Getty Images

Image credit: Willie B. Thomas | Getty Images

Building a successful business is a bit like climbing a mountain: it’s an uphill battle most of the way, but the view from the top is pretty spectacular.

Persistence is a necessary part of achieving a summit, and it’s also vital to creating your success as an entrepreneur. If you doubt the importance of persistence, ask yourself what kinds of goals people dream of. Do they yearn for the ones that are easy to accomplish or the ones that are hard work but offer huge payouts?

Anything worth attaining will require hard work over a period of time. And in order to tackle the challenges ahead, you need to become a master of persistence. I was recently reminded of this while building and getting ready to launch my Instagram analytics tool.

If you have an overwhelming desire to climb your own mountain and achieve your entrepreneurial dreams, here are 5 basic rules to help you understand and master the art of persistence.

1. If you don’t persist in your vision, someone else will.

The harsh reality is that the world is full of “could’ve beens” -- people who have wonderful ideas and aspirations, but didn’t have the stamina, desire or knowhow to make it happen. Many of them gave up too fast because it seemed too hard, too daunting or too scary. Simply put, they weren’t mentally prepared to do what it takes to succeed.

The bleak truth is, if you aren’t willing to see your dream through, someone else probably is. Someone else will succeed where you gave up. So if you are tempted to abandon your entrepreneurial goals, or if you are inclined to tell yourself that “it should be easier than this,” ask yourself the following questions:

Do you want to be the person who let your dream go or the one determined enough to see it through? Do you want to be the one wondering what could have been if you had only tried or the one who gave your all and either succeeded or failed?

Most success stories are hard won. Those who make it are the ones who are willing to embrace the challenge.

2. Use naysayers to your advantage.

Visionaries are ahead of their time because they push boundaries and innovate change. To become successful, they must hold true to their dream and keep pursuing it even in the face of adversity.

But persisting in your dream doesn’t mean you should ignore the naysayers. You shouldn’t discount all the negative input you get, because there is value in looking at things from a new perspective. In fact, it’s to your benefit to surround yourself with people who may not always get your vision, and who will ask thoughtful questions that help you analyze and define your goals and strategies.

The trick is to find people who will be objective enough to give you a balanced perspective and help you hone your vision. Even the best ideas may require some reshaping and tweaking in order to be ultimately successful.

The bottom line is that you need to be flexible enough to incorporate change as needed, but confident enough in your dream to keep going after it. 

3. Be in it for the long haul.

Consistency fuels persistence. Showing up, day in and day out, is the single most important thing you can do to set yourself on a path to achieving your dreams and becoming the best entrepreneur you can be.

If you slack off for periods of time or seem noncommittal to your own business, you are essentially showing the world that you are giving up. If you lose your motivation, what incentive do those around you have for buying into your success?

Consistency is how you establish your reputation and show people what you are about through your actions and not just your words. It’s how you get your message out there, and how people come to believe in you and your vision. It instills accountability and demonstrates that you’re able to deliver the goods on your promises.

When you are in it for the long haul and are consistently moving forward on your stated goals, you begin to build a community around you based on trust and respect.

4. Embrace your creativity (without freaking people out).

A business that emphasizes creative input also fosters innovation and has better chances for disruption and long-term success. If you want to succeed as an entrepreneur, you must embrace your imagination.

Creative thinking means opening lines of dialogue, embracing different viewpoints and examining different ideas. It also means going beyond a repetitive approach and continually considering how to adjust or diversify. 

But most of all, creativity is bred through persistence. Those aha moments, where the sky seems to open up and you can reach out to pluck the perfect solution to a problem, don’t happen in a vacuum. They happen through persistence and pushing yourself forward.

But be aware that there can be a thin line between being a creative, out-of-the-box thinker and being an annoying, creepy oddball who seems lost in his or her own world. If you want to succeed, and get others to buy into your vision, it helps to come across as both ingenious and balanced. Be aware of how others perceive you.

5. Nurture those “no” relationships.

We’ve all run into hardcore salespeople who simply won’t take no for an answer. They are determined to get you to yes, no matter what. On the plus side, those people are resolute in their goals. However, they are shortsighted, failing to recognize that there are times when they may need to accept a short-term no in order to nurture a long-term yes.

It’s important to not to take no personally. After all, there are different reasons why our ideas may be rejected. According to research, about 80 percent of prospects decline a proposal four times before eventually saying yes. Often a negative reply simply means “not right now” or “I need to be convinced.” Sometimes people just need time to process and think about it.

Shifting a refusal into an affirmative answer often requires you to build trust through consistency. You can do this by spending more time asking questions and listening to the responses and less time trying to impress. Persistence isn’t about ramming your sale pitch down other people’s throats.

Work on being a better communicator. Really listen to others’ input, hear their concerns and give thoughtful feedback. Be both persuasive and consistent, and you will earn people’s trust… and their sales.

This article was originally posted/written by

The Most Annoying Things About Summer-And What to Do About Them

Deciding between a popsicle and ice cream should be your biggest headache. Not summer maintenance.

Summer should be the stuff dreams are made of: long, sunny days and warm nights filled with important questions like, “Ice cream on the porch, or another pint on the patio?”

Summer also comes with bugs, heat, humidity, and other annoyances around the house. So this year, eradicate 13 of the worst irritations of summer before they crush your summer buzz. Here’s how:

#1 Mosquitoes

These ubiquitous party crashers can suck the fun out of any outdoor fiesta.

What to do:

Clean your gutters. “That’s often a main, and neglected, breeding site for mosquitoes,” says Chris Enroth, a horticulture educator with the University of Illinois Extension office in Macomb.

Plug in a fan. Or install a ceiling fan. “Mosquitoes don’t like flying in high wind,” Enroth says. Cheers for cool breezes sans bug bites!

#2 Doors That Stick

Wooden doors can swell, outgrowing their jambs (what holds doors steady as you open and close them) on humid days, causing an annoyingly sticky situation.

What to do:

Tighten the hinge screws. There’s a chance your door’s just slipped out of alignment.

Scale back the weather stripping. If you installed it in the winter to keep out drafts, it could be too thick come summer.

Shave down the door. As a last resort, use a planer or sander to trim down the door ever so slightly, concentrating on the area with a visibly worn finish. Seal the newly exposed edge with paint or wood sealant to block out future humidity.

#3 Carpenter Ants and Carpenter Bees

Although named for a helpful trade, both carpenter ants and carpenter bees often make their nests by burrowing into your home’s wood, which can cause some really pricey damage on top of their annoying presence.

What to do:

Keep all exposed wood sealed or painted. Don’t forget the bottoms of window sills!

Direct water away from wood.Gutters and flashing will help keep wood dry, says Bob Boucher, owner of a handyman company in Concord, N.H.

Evict existing colonies. Look for sawdust trails to find the entrance, then use a rinsed squeezable ketchup bottle to blow an insecticide dust or boric acid powder into the hole.

#4 AC That Causes You to Freeze in One Room and Sweat in Another

Moving from your first-floor kitchen to a second-floor bedroom shouldn’t require a wardrobe change.

What to do:

Check your ductwork. Look for unsealed joints or hire a pro to make sure your ducts are properly sized. Both can affect your system’s ability to deliver conditioned air to each room.

Set your whole-house fan to “on.” This continuous circulation will mix the air so no space is too hot or too cold.

Direct more cool air upstairs. Look for ductwork dampers in the basement to open during the summer months.

#5 Fruit Flies

Because fruit flies lay their eggs on decaying organic material (yeah, yuck), summer’s bounty of fresh fruits and veggies can invite these disgusting freeloaders into your home. There’s a ton of solutions on the Internet, but preventative measures work best.

What to do:

Keep sinks, drains, and disposals clean. Even dirty dishes can harbor fruit flies.

Freeze food waste. Place rotting fruit, meat scraps, etc. in a bag in your freezer until garbage day.

Pitch overripe fruit. And until you eradicate the flies, keep all other produce in the fridge or a sealed container.

Pour bleach or boiling water down the drain. This will kill any eggs or remaining adult flies.

#6 Weeds in Patio Cracks

Besides ruining a well-manicured view, resilient weeds can crack or shift your pavement. Again, prevention’s best.

What to do:

Block new growth. Fill the weed-free cracks with asphalt or cement crack filler, sand, or corn gluten meal, which prevents future germination. If you’re too late, you need to…

Pull ‘em. Especially if you don’t want to use an herbicide, which can spread and damage desirable plants. Sorry!

#7 Faded Furnishings from Harsh Sun

You want to throw open the shades and revel in that summer sunshine, but your furnishings and flooring are sensitive to the fading and drying effects of UV rays.

What to do:

Add transparent window film. It shuts out 99% of UVA and UVB rays without blocking sunlight or a welcome view. Today’s films are undetectable when properly installed and won’t tint the light coming into your home.

Spray furnishings with a protectant. Spritz upholstery, curtains, and rugs with a UV-blocking fabric protector and treat wood with a varnish — which provides better sun protection than other types of sealant.

#8 Splinters on the Deck

As long as the decking is in otherwise good shape, your bare feet don’t have to suffer through a gauntlet of splinters again this summer.

What to do:

Resurface it. Apply one of the newer deck restoration products that essentially gives your deck a coating that will prevent splinters. This works best for small splinters, before they’ve gotten too bad.

Sand it.Best if splinters are deep and big. Then apply a water-repelling, UV-resistant sealer.

#9 Dust Mites

Dust mite populations peak in summer’s heat and humidity, inflicting stuffy noses, sneezing, and coughing upon those who are allergic.

What to do:

Make your home inhospitable. Clean more frequently and use your AC to keep indoor humidity to 50% or less.

Get a new pillow. If your pillow is older than three years and has not been washed (experts recommend it twice a year), toss it: It’s likely loaded with dust mites.

#10 Slamming Screen Doors

Slam. Slam. Slam. Annoying, right? Beyond rattling your bliss, this sound of summer can damage the hinges of your screen door.

What to do:

Adjust your door closer. If your door has a closer, find the perfect bang-free tension by simply turning the screw on pneumatic models or rotating the body on hydraulic styles.

Add a closer. It costs just $10 to $20 to retrofit an older screen door.

Apply felt pads to the door frame. How’s that for a low-cost option?

#11 A Patio or Deck That Burns Your Feet

Hot dogs and burgers should be the only things you risk burning on your patio this summer.

What to do:

Throw some shade. Position an umbrella or pergola over frequently used areas.

Add an outdoor rug. Choose a lighter color that won’t absorb as much heat. Plastic styles, in particular, are touted for keeping their cool.

Refinish the surface. Again, choose a lighter color. Resurfacing products and overlays are available for all types of patio and deck surfaces.

#12 Ugly, Dried-Out Brown Grass

Widespread browning, rather than patches of brown grass, has two common causes: lawn care oversights and a cool-season grass going dormant.

What to do:

Sharpen or replace your mower blades. This could be all that’s needed if just the tips of your grass are brown and jagged.

Set the blade height to 3 inches. When you take less off the top, it helps grass absorb water before it evaporates.

Water less frequently, for longer periods of time. This helps grass develop deeper, drought- and disease-resistant roots. Aim for 1 to 1.5 inches of water a week, and even a cool-season grass can keep its green during the summer.

#13 A Smelly Basement

When humid air meets cool surfaces in an unconditioned basement, condensation occurs — setting the stage for mold and mildew, and that noxious, nose-wrinkling smell.

What to do:

Check for other sources of humidity. Leaking floors and walls, improperly vented clothes dryers and bathrooms, poorly graded landscaping, and ill-positioned downspouts all can direct water into the basement.

Buy a dehumidifier sized for your needs. Use the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers’ “Directory of Verified Dehumidifiers” to find your match.

Set the dehumidifier to “auto” (i.e. running only when needed). Running continuously, even a small model could cost $20 a month.

This article was originally posted/written by houselogic.