Some Cost Saving Ideas

See the source image

Whether you are a startup or already running a small business, finding ways to reduce maximum business costs is one of the crucial goals. It will be struggling later if you don’t have a detailed cost-saving plan in place from the beginning of your company. Reduce costs will improve the cash flow, efficiency and help increase profits for the business.

As a homeowner and entrepreneur, I experienced many people complained about how expensive of some services that they have to pay and also about how hard it is to keep the business off the ground while spending less. Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Go paperless: It is evident that doing business nowadays almost everything is using electronic. As a real estate agent, I see the increase of the clients that they expect nearly everything to be accessible from their smartphone, so you must be a digital savvy business person. For business owners, this is an opportunity for saving time, saving money on papers, inks, printing, storage, etc. It is convenient too to use electronic sign documents for any contracting such as e-signature or docu-sign. Something else available is e-invoicing by email that sends the invoice directly to your customers just by one click. These tools can reduce print and postage expenses. Your files, documents, and records should be scanned and be easily researchable and accessible on digital archive, from anywhere.


  • Always ask for a discount: If you work with different vendors and or wholesale, they may have a quantity discount or some seasonal discount for the year. Don’t be shy to ask for some percentage discount with your regular suppliers and ask them how to meet their requirements such as customers credits, vendors credits, or paying at a lower price if paying early or upfront. Remember that most of the time if you do not ask they will not offer such discounts.


  • Switch bank: to save your company’s money in a long run, avoid any fee charge that some banks are trying to squeeze for more profits such as ATM surcharge fees, bounced check fees, debit card fee.


  • Bundling services: your business would save a lot of money by working with the same partners or companies who offer bundled services that include the computer, internet, web hosting, cable, fax, etc. New fiber optics is a good example that can do most anything you want from phone, TV, internet, streaming movies, fax, video phone and much more.


  • If your company needs propane for heat or equipment, you may want to consider buying the propane tank. If you rent a tank, you are locked into purchasing fuel from one company that will not give you discounts past the first fill up. If you own the tank, then whoever has a special price going on, you can take advantage of that and save a lot of money for the company. I have personally experienced a $1.65 difference in gas prices if I owned or rented and on a 1000 or 2500-gallon tank that is a noticeable difference in the bottom line at the end of the year.


  • Banks and some other businesses that you already dealt with for a long time may cost you more. They use the strategy that if they go up at an X amount of percentage of price, knowing that they may lose some to the competition, but it is not a big loose for them in exchange for higher charges to increase their profit. Most people will never notice or being too lazy to change or don’t know or don’t ask, and therefore these charges will eat up their business profit. Keep all your accounts in check and see who is doing something new and better out there. Technology should make prices come down in time, and many established companies do not follow that thought pattern.

Whether you are looking for a log home, cabin & land package, chalet, primary or vacation home, land/acreage with mountain views, water frontage, investment or you are considering Listing your property, we can help you. You can search homes for sale Western NC MLS and Northeast GA MLS at our website

Call/Email The Schuler Team, Big Frank 828-837-0991, Mary 828-557-0273 or email at for all your real estate needs. Please let us know if you want to receive a FREE and newest EXIT brochure.

Self-Storage Business and Technology for millennials

See the source image

Self-Storage Business and Technology for millennials

We are living in the fast information digital technology world, yet many businesses are trying to keep up with the daily changing and innovation to be noticed or existing in search of potential customers. In this article, I would like the emphasis on the technology trend for self-storage business to be exposed to the millennials and create more purchasing power for now and in the future.

Based on the government census, millennials are people who were born between 1982 and 2000. They are now number 83.1 million and present more than one-quarter of the nation’s population. Millennials are expected to overtake Baby Boomer in population in 2019 as Boomer’s decline to 72 million.

According to research from Goldman Sachs, “the millennials generations is the largest in US history, and as they reach their prime working and spending years, their impact on the economy is going to be huge. Millennials have come of age during a time of technological change, globalization, and economic disruption. That’s given them a different set of behaviors and experiences than their parents. They are the first generation of digital natives, and their affinity for technology helps shape how they shop. They are used to instant access to price comparisons, product information, and peer reviews” etc.

On the self-storage standpoint, this is not exceptional when it comes to doing business with millennials for years to come. According to self-storage research, “self-storage technology trends are centered around automation and self-service tools.”  Say when they are at “prime working and spending years,” they used to and had a credit card. It is vital to prepare to do business with the tech-savvy customers and the latest available digital tools, mobile user-friendly on mobile devices possible such as iPhone, iPad, tablets, smartphone, etc. It apparently shows people like the instant access and instant communication and the “Instant Messenger” is one of the tools. Business should implement this tool to answer any questions about your products better, reply to customer’s reviews and the following feedback. There are many businesses are efficiently using texting reminder, rent reminder, the map with directions. Many mini storage rentals are using booking/reservation online, check in and check out online, e-sign document with online signatures, automatic monthly payment online, gate access by code via phone, etc. Research shows that most people prefer to pay online than carrying a checkbook or mail a check.

Except for some mom-and-pop businesses in the rural, self-storage business nowadays mostly has their own website and conducts daily business online. Self-storage owners/managers want their renters happy at any cost to keep them stay longer. Having those digital tools will help connect, drive more customers to your business, convenient, save time and makes life easier. Keep in mind, the digitally savvy customers increasingly demand and expect nearly everything to be accessible from their smartphone. Make sure your business will not fall behind your competitors, it is important to update regularly your company website, reactive mobile compatible that customers can easily access from anywhere and any available mobile device.



How to select the right size self-storage unit?

See the source image
How to select the right size self-storage unit?


It is overwhelmed and stressful when you must move and realize you have too much stuff to fit in the new place. So, in waiting for building a new garage or a shed, you need a temporary place to store your household items. The same for business people when he/she needs to rent a self-storage unit for their inventory. It is essential to know what unit size could meet your needs, the budget, and the location, etc.,

So, to help you save time and money, here are some useful tips about the self-storage unit capacity guild before renting one. Please note that how much can a unit hold depends directly on the type and number of items to be stored and the way they are packed and stacked in the unit.

Below is the general unit size guideline:

  • 5 feet by 5 feet (25 square feet): looks like a size of a small walk-in closet that fits a twin mattress set, one to two pieces of small furniture, chair, boxes, and miscellaneous small items. Other suggested uses such as business or personal records; college students’ belongings and seasonal items.


  • 5 feet by 10 feet (50 square feet): looks like a mid-size bedroom, fits a studio apartment with typical contents such as furniture, couch and chair, box springs and mattress set, small items and boxes.


  • 5 feet by 15 feet (75 square feet): looks like a large walking closet, fits a one-bedroom apartment with appliances; several boxes and small items.


  • 10 feet by 10 feet (100 square feet): looks like a standard bedroom, fits a two-bedroom and boxes.


  • 10 feet by 15 feet (150 square feet): looks like a huge master bedroom, fits a three-bedroom apartment.


  • 10 feet by 20 feet (200 square feet): looks like a small garage, fits a three-bedroom apartment and appliances.


  • 10 feet by 30 feet (300 square feet): looks like a single-car garage, fits over a four-bedroom apartment.


  • 15 feet by 15 feet (225 square feet): looks like an extra-large master bedroom, fits a three-bedroom apartment and boxes.


  • 20 feet by 20 feet (400 square feet): large size, looks like a two-car garage, fits a six to seven-bedroom apartment with boxes and more.

Note: Above is an estimated guideline only. Every unit size may vary by facilities and or locations.

For the sized from 100 feet and up, there is plenty of room for other suggested uses such as outdoor furniture, lawnmower, motorcycle, car, and big tools or items.

Before renting, see the storage unit in person if possible so you can visualize how your stuff fit in and bring a measuring tape, just in case you go home and try to create a similar-sized box to see how your stuff will fit.

After packing, make a list of what you want to put in the storage, label and put them all on the floor in a room so you can have a general idea of how they fit in a unit.

Below are some packing tips:

  • It is essential to choose the right box and how to pack the light and bulky items separately and safely. If you combine different weights of things in one box, make sure to put the heavier items on the bottom and mark the box “this side up.
  • Use large boxes for light items and smaller boxes for heavier ones.
  • Keep in mind the storage ceilings are usually about 7-8 feet high so that you can stack boxes and items better. Always working from the heaviest items on the bottom to provide a stable base, then to lightest things on top. Think vertical to make the best use of every inch of the space.
  • And the last but not least, make sure to know how to use the lock.


Murphy NC Mountain Homes For SaleMary HongPhuc Schuler, Realtor at EXIT Realty Mountain View Properties. I specialize in assisting buyers, sellers, investors in Real Estate in Murphy, Marble, Andrews, Brasstown, Hayesville, and surrounding areas. Call/Text me anytime at (828)557-0273 (I can speak Vietnamese (Tiếng Việt), English, French (Français).

Making Business Connections and Growing Customer Base

See the source image

Making Business Connections and Grow Customer Base

As in real estate and self-storage business standpoint, clients come to you because they need help and believe you can help them by solving their problems – providing the real estate needs and or rental self-storage needs. Helping people and continue to connect with them is an important strategy for any business. Connections are the fuel that keeps businesses and customers connect. For an entrepreneur with a small business knows how to find potential customers, make connections, and keep maintaining these long-term business relationships are priceless. Understanding your specific audience, target customers of the niche market to get to know them on a personal level are essential. Connections can be in person, by phone, by email, by mail or online, etc.

Here are some tips to help to connect with your clients:

  • With the potential clients: Understand and knowing these potential clients’ needs within one to six months or one to two years from now until they are ready to sell or buy or rent. If you have your business email contact list, send them the information updating on the local current market, trend, business location and anything that relates to what the prospects interested in.
  • With the past clients: You must take good care of them because they are your best customer base and if you want to receive their referrals, testimonials, and good reviews.
  • With the current clients: You must take time to get to know them, let them know you appreciate their business and they are your valuable clients. Making the business impression by allowing your professional, personality and excellent customer service shine when meeting in person. Answering any questions that your clients may have and provide prompt information directly to them.
  • Online platform connections: they are great tools for the business. Take advantage of the convenience of the speed internet, finding good reasons to reach out to the clients personally, not just commenting on their Facebook feed or following on Tweeter. Create valuable posts that keep customers’ support and that they want to share with their family and friends. Private message them and let them know you are here to help. Update regularly social media webpage business and blogs with great information to keep people checking and researching on your website and or following you on social media.
  • Farming letters:  They are an effective way to expose your business to people and in the target market. Be consistent and provide relevant information that meaningful to the client and be on top of their mind when it comes to deciding to buy, sell or rent from you.

There are many ways of connecting in today’s digital world, and the above tips are just a few examples. It is not easy due to time-consuming, challenges and or seems overwhelming to create personalized connections. However, if you schedule and do it correctly, it will help grow your customer base, create value-boosting your business’s exposure and your loyal customers would thank you for being their resource and keeping them in the loop of what’s happening in the market.

Find the Potential Customers and Make The First Sale

  • Image result for potential customer

Starting a new business from scratch is an exciting feeling, but at the same time you may feel a little bit scared, don’t you? I know I do, for real, knowing a start-up requires more than just determination, energy, motivation, and knowledge. However, it is undoubtedly a unique experience, and someday you might be glad that you did start your new business.

According to the U.S Small Business Administration, approximately “31% of small business survive for at least seven years – never mind making it big”. Let’s just talk about marketing strategy. From start-up to growth stage, as you can be overwhelmed that there are so many marketing tactics for a business and you are not sure what, when, where to start. It seems like these marketing tips can be applied and worked for large corporations with the big budget to spend. Everyone wants to make the first sale. For the start-up and small business that does not have the customer-base yet, the questions are how to create and find the customers? How to grow and bring business to the big leagues someday? And increasingly just more questions, what is the product, and services that you will be providing and who is your “ideal customer”? Is there a niche in the marketplace? Etc.

The book “The Four Steps to The Epiphany – Successful Strategies for Products that Win” by Steve Blank that I found so helpful to my real estate and vacation rental business. It is so important to identify and understand your core business and answer “who your customers are and why they should buy your products.” Find your customer segment based on age, gender, interests, and spending habits then find out what specific niche and what type of customers that will buy your product and service. Besides announcing your new business on public relation, “learning and discovering customer needs,” it is time to “leave the building and talk to customers,” said Steve Blank. Time for action.

Cultivate and grow your network opportunities with other local professionals, such as real estate offices and agents, attorneys, insurances, sales agents, restaurants, retail stores. Become a member of the Chamber of Commerce where you can display your business brochures, flyers and benefit the free advertisement on their platforms. You can also have opportunities to attend various business events and meet the business owners. One of my favorite activities is volunteering in the churches and helping in different events and festivals. It requires time, but community involvement is the best way to meet and develop business supporting. Another natural avenue to network with people is talking to the established business owners, the like-minded individuals that can potentially turn into your customers and or send referrals your way.

Step up with your digital marketing strategy that incorporates social media to spread the word about your new venture, makes it more exposure and attract more customers. Start a blog webpage, regularly update your business website that helps bring consumers and business together. Stay active and engage in social media channels to connect and create more leads. Must find time to study and analyze the top five competitors in your area and find out what your competitors’ strategy is. Then create your new solutions and ideas that will suit your customers better.

These are some necessary steps; they are essential and well worth it if you stay focus and remain consistent. The critical point is connecting, making everyone know that your business exists in the marketplace, that you provide the right product and service to the customer’s needs.


The Four Steps to The Epiphany – Successful Strategies for Products that Win – by Steve Blank – Fifth Edition – 2013

Expectations for entrepreneurs and does it feel right?

Image result for Expectations for entrepreneurs stick man

I learned a big lesson when reaching out to outside lenders and investors for my future business. After meeting and talking with some banks, it felt like what I saw on Shark Tank. I truly feel like there are more challenges await.

To help the road of finding money less rough and clearer, let’s prepare for what the lenders and investors expect from an entrepreneur:

  • They don’t lend or invest as a charity. They want to make money just like any other business.
  • They want the entrepreneur to succeed so they can get paid back.
  • They want to make sure that if your business fails, there is a guaranteed way to get paid back. So, no surprise why there are many mandatories and requires and conditions on the process.
  • They will look at your business plan; financial projection; personal guarantee the loan; collateral to secure the loan; compare with other businesses in the area regarding financial and business projections to see how you performed.
  • They want to know how much you can invest in the business; they may require the entrepreneur to put in at least 30% of the project cost in equity; how much you want to borrow and why; is your cash flow makes sense and if you can afford a loan.
  • They want all information related to your “5 C’s of Credit”:

Character: do you have the proper experience, skills needed to run the business? Does your credit history show that you paid your debts?

Capacity: does your business have sufficient cash flow to pay the loan payment?

Capital: what is your business and person’s net worth? How much your own money in hand?

Collateral: what assets do you have to secure the debt?

Conditions: what is the state of the economy? Are there other issues that may impact the success of your business?

You may ask yourself “why I have to borrow money? I don’t want to be in debt”. In another hand, your business surely needs capital to operate and if your business grows, you probably going to need more than one loan or future investment. That why knowing your business and its potential success is so critical, same as finding answers for “what if” questions are not easy. But chasing your dream takes risks and remember that in this world “there is no free money”. The good news is there are government agencies and some non-profits organizations that support start-up businesses. Borrowing is an opportunity and just becomes a part of business as a regular customer/partner with your lenders/investors. Don’t get discouraged for searching them.

PS: When getting a loan or an investment for your business, make sure to consider all the terms, read the fine print carefully. Interest rates on loans are important, but a low-interest rate paired with high fees and a prepayment penalty may be more expensive than another loan with a slightly higher rate but lower fees. If you get a loan with an adjustable rate, make sure you will be able to pay the loan after the interest rate adjusts. Never sign any paperwork if it makes you uncomfortable, it could be a sign that the loan terms are not right for you.


Rogers, Stevenson (2014). Entrepreneurial Finance, Third Edition: Finance and Business Strategies for the Serious Entrepreneur. McGraw-Hill Education.

Blog by Mary Schuler – Assessment Before Taking Outside Investments

Image result for outside investments stick man

Following with the previous blog about How much money do you need and how helpful it is when reducing unnecessary expenses. This week’s blog we continue to discuss the business finance assessment options after developing a good, strong business concept. Experienced entrepreneurs and research show that “The best source of funds is the cash that you already have on hand”. Are you ready to spend your own money? How much money do you have? Well, it sounds real and serious doesn’t it, especially when you must use your own personal savings, or money borrowed from family and friends. It is true that if any angel investors see you, they surely want to see if you are willing to spend your own money too on your business. If you are not willing to risk your money to your business, why should they?

Between “needs and have” there is a little gap. A business needing more money to operate is just a normal fact. Prepare always to make sure your business does not run into trouble due to lack of cash. How to fill this gap? There are some options to think about:

  • Collateral: is a security for a loan – something the lender can sell if they need to. Collateral is often real estate (including your home or business or other properties that you own), your cash in banks or credits unions, equipment and other items that will have a resale value. According to, “Any asset that your lender accepts as collateral (and which is allowed by law) can serve as collateral.” When you pledge collateral, the lender takes less risk, which means you are more likely to get a good rate.

It is very important to make the realistic and right decision about what you offer up as collateral to the bank. You must consider the risks of defaulting on a loan which could hurt your business and also your personal life. I personally prefer choosing other assets (but not my home) to use as collateral for a loan.

  •  Credit report: helps in securing an unsecured loan. Make sure to clean up all your bad credit, show a good payment history on all accounts. There are many online credit report agencies that you can get a free copy of your credit report once a year.

According to Entrepreneurial Finance of Steven Rogers on raising capitals, and some online research about funding sources:

  1. If you need less than $25,000:
  • The best option starts with your own saving, family and or friends.
  • Consider an equity loan. Equity is money or other assets that you own. In real estate, equity is the amount of the property that you own (the difference between the market value of the property and the mortgage you still own). Home equity loans are often easier to get and usually have low-interest rates than commercial loans.
  • Another option is credit cards: If you keep paying the bills in full each month. That may help you get a business loan but the interest rates may be higher.
  • Seeking for non-bank lenders where provide business microloan (with an average of about $13,000). Keep in mind that this is to business that does not qualified for bank loans.


2. If you need more than $25,000:

  • You would still need to put in some of your own money, often 30%+ of the total project expenses.
  • You still consider a down payment or a home equity loan.
  • Last option is to keep seeking a loan from banks and non-bank lenders.
  • It does not hurt to search for business grants but research shows most start-up businesses do not qualified for grants, plus the grant process is extremely competitive.

It is important to understand and identify what source of financing is right for your business and whether you will be able to repay them. Only borrow what your business needs. Pay the loan on time will help build good credit for next round and next stage of your business.


Rogers, Stevenson (2014). Entrepreneurial Finance, Third Edition: Finance and Business Strategies for the Serious Entrepreneur. McGraw-Hill Education.