If you want to start a business but don’t know where to start, don’t worry–you are not alone.

In fact, given the new economic reality of our time, more people than ever before have found the “job” they thought was waiting for them doesn’t exist. Others have come to the conclusion that they would rather create work they love, constructed to fit with their own life goals. No matter what the motivation is to be your own boss, you can start today. Grout Logic’s unique product and built-in training makes an otherwise daunting task feel a lot less intimidating.

Here are 8 Tips to Get You Started:

Take a Stand for Yourself.

If you are dissatisfied with your current circumstances, admit that no one can fix them except for you. It doesn’t do any good to blame the economy, your boss, your spouse or your family. Change can only occur when you make a conscious decision to make it happen.

Identify the Right Business for You.

Give yourself permission to explore. Be willing to look at different facets of yourself (your personality, social styles, age) and listen to your intuition. We tend to ignore intuition even though deep down we often know the truth. Ask yourself “What gives me energy even when I’m tired?”

How do you know what business is “right” for you? There are three common approaches to entrepreneurship:

Do What You Know: Have you been laid off or want a change? Look at work you have done for others in the past and think about how you could package those skills and offer them as your own services or products.

Do What Others Do: Learn about other businesses that interest you. Once you have identified a business you like, emulate it.

Solve a Common Problem: Is there a gap in the market? Is there a service or product you would like to bring to market? (Note: This is the highest-risk of the three approaches.) If you choose to do this, make sure that you become a student and gain knowledge first before you spend any money.

Business Planning Improves Your Chances for Success.

Most people don’t plan, but it will help you get to market faster. A business plan will help you gain clarity, focus and confidence. A plan does not need to be more than one page. As you write down your goals, strategies and action steps, your business becomes real.

Ask yourself the following questions:

 – What am I building?

– Who will I serve?

– What is the promise I am making to my customers/clients and to myself?

– What are my objectives, strategies and action plans (steps) to achieve my goals?

Know Your Target Audience Before You Spend a Penny.

Before you spend money, find out if people will actually buy your products or services. This may be the most important thing you do. You can do this by validating your market. In other words, who, exactly, will buy your products or services other than your family or friends? (And don’t say. “Everyone in America will want my product.” Trust me–they won’t.) What is the size of your target market? Who are your customers? Is your product or service relevant to their everyday life? Why do they need it?

There is industry research available that you can uncover for free. Read industry articles with data (Google the relevant industry associations) and read Census data to learn more. However, the most important way to get this information is to ask your target market/customers directly and then listen.

Understand Your Personal Finances and Choose the Right Kind of Money You Need for Your Business.

As an entrepreneur, your personal life and business life are interconnected. You are likely to be your first–and possibly only–investor. Therefore, having a detailed understanding of your personal finances, and the ability to track them, is an essential first step before seeking outside funding for your business. This is why I recommend setting up your personal accounts in a money management system such as Mint.com to simplify this process.

As you are creating your business plan, you will need to consider what type of business you are building–a lifestyle business (smaller amount of startup funds), a franchise (moderate investment depending on the franchise), or a high-tech business (will require significant capital investment). Depending on where you fall on the continuum, you will need a different amount of money to launch and grow your business, and it does matter what kind of money you accept.

Build a Support Network.

You’ve made the internal commitment to your business. Now you need to cultivate a network of supporters, advisors, partners, allies and vendors. If you believe in your business, others will, too.

Network locally, nationally & via social networks. Join networks like NAPW.com, your local chamber of commerce, or other relevant business groups. Here are some networking basics:

– When attending networking events, ask others what they do and think about how you can help them. The key is to listen more than tout yourself.

– No matter what group you join, be generous, help others and make introductions without charging them.

– By becoming a generous leader, you will be the first person that comes to mind when someone you’ve helped needs your service or hears of someone else who needs your service.

Sell By Creating Value.

Even though we purchase products and services every day, people don’t want to be “sold.” Focus on serving others. The more people you serve, the more money you will make. When considering your customers or clients, ask yourself:

– What can I give them?

– How can I make them successful in their own pursuits?

– This approach can help lead you to new ways to hone your product or service and deliver more value, which your customers will appreciate.

Get the Word Out.

Be willing to say who you are and what you do with conviction and without apology. Embrace and use the most effective online tools (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn) available to broadcast your news. Use social networks as “pointer” sites; i.e., to point to anything you think will be of interest to your fans and followers.

Even though social networks are essential today (you must use them!), don’t underestimate the power of other methods to get the word out: e.g., word-of-mouth marketing, website and internet marketing tools, public relations, blog posts, columns and articles, speeches, e-mail, newsletters, and the old-fashioned but still essential telephone.

If you take these steps, you’ll be well on your way to becoming your own boss. It’s important to remember that you are not alone. If you want to “be your own boss” but you still feel stuck, reach out and connect with other entrepreneurs in a variety of ways. You may be surprised by the invaluable contacts that are right at your fingertips.

Has a small business for sale caught your eye?

If you know how to buy a small business, buying an existing business can be a great opportunity to get into business without going through the process of starting from scratch. If you buy a turnkey operation, you can skip the startup phase entirely and begin operations as soon as the sale is complete; everything is already set up and ready to go.

But unfortunately, businesses for sale are like used cars; there are lots of them out there, but some of them are lemons. To avoid getting stuck with a bad bargain, you need to fully investigate the business you’re thinking of buying. Here’s how you can tell if that small business for sale is a good deal or a clunker.

1) Find Out if it Has Been in an Accident

In other words, before you buy a business, discover the real reason the small business is for sale. Don’t just take the seller’s word for this. Sure, people do retire or become ill, but the real reason may be anything from a big-box retailer moving into town through losing a lucrative, traffic-driving contract such as being a postal outlet.

Discover the true reason(s) the business is for sale by talking to people who are familiar with the history of the business you’re thinking of buying, such as local realtors, other business people and suppliers.

2) Find Out What’s Included in the Asking Price

Find out what’s actually for sale and what method of business valuation is being used. If you buy a small business, what assets are you actually getting? People selling businesses usually have a spec sheet prepared, listing the assets involved and offering an estimate of their value. Ask for details if anything is unclear. And be sure to find out if the assets listed are free and clear of debts and liens; you don’t want to buy other people’s problems.

Pay special attention to any intangible assets that may be listed, such as goodwill. Sellers tend to inflate the value of this, thinking perhaps of the potential future value of their reputation and established customer base.

3) Look Under the Hood

Remember the old joke about the guy who bought the good looking car only to discover he couldn’t drive it away because it had no engine? It’s only funny when it happens to someone else. Make sure you do your due diligence before you buy a small business.

Study the business’s past performance. Ask for and examine the last three years of the business’s financial statements. You will also want to know who prepared this financial data; were they prepared by the management of the business, for instance, or by an accountant?

If by an accountant, documents should accompany the financial statements that will explain the depth of the accountant’s review. An Auditor’s Report certifies that a full review has been conducted, while a Review Engagement Report will present the findings of a limited review of the business. A Notice to Reader signifies that the accountant prepared the financial statements based on information provided by the business without conducting any checks.

Don’t like what you’re seeing or just not seeing enough of it? Ask the seller for permission to see the actual business records and get your own audit done.

4) Find Out What it’s Actually Worth

Find out what you should actually pay for the business. When you’re buying a used car, this is a simple matter of comparison shopping, but business valuation is considerably more complicated. It’s common to use several different methods of business valuation to arrive at a price. When preparing the asset list (spec sheet), for instance, the seller could have used:

Book Value (based on the company’s balance sheet)

Modified Book Value (book value adjusted to reflect the current market value of the assets)

Replacement Value (based on what it would cost to replace the asset)

Liquidation Value (based on what the asset would bring in if the business was liquidated)

He may also have incorporated some Earning Value methods into the business valuation process to arrive at his final asking price.

So before you buy a small business you want to know how the seller arrived at his estimate of the business’s value and arrive at your own estimate of how much the business is worth. The important point is that a business is not worth x amount of dollars just because the seller says so.

Remember that the real value of the business depends upon the income that the business generates. Examining the business’s financial records should have given you an accurate picture of the business’s gross revenues, costs and profit. You want to buy a business based on the return on investment, not on the stated price. In other words, what you are really buying is the annual profit.

If you’re having trouble figuring out what the business you want to buy is actually worth, seek advice from a professional business valuator.

5) Take it for a Spin.

Before you buy a business, get an inside perspective by asking the seller’s permission to sit in on the business for several days. If he or she is agreeable, this can be a great way to find out how the business you want to buy truly operates. (If he or she doesn’t agree to this, it’s not necessarily a bad sign. He may still be thinking of you as a “looky-lou”, as you haven’t made an offer yet.)

6) Investigate Your Financing Alternatives

Just as when you buy a car, you need to see if you can truly afford the business you want to buy. If you don’t have the cash in your pocket, this is the time to see who’s interested in financing the business you’re buying and how much that financing help will cost. The usual small business financing sources are friends, family and traditional lending institutions (such as banks and credit unions).

You may find that said traditional lending institutions are friendlier than usual, as financing an established business is generally considered to be less risky than financing a start up.

You may also want to consider asking the seller to finance part of your purchase of his business. One common arrangement is for the seller to carry a promissory note for part of the purchase price. (Note that if you’re going to approach the seller for financing, you have to make the option attractive to him. You may need to offer a rate of interest above the going rate, for instance.)

7) Make an Offer

Assuming that the process hasn’t broken down at some point before this and you do want to buy the business, it’s time to make an offer and start negotiating. (See 5 Ways to Negotiate More Effectively.) You make an offer and the seller makes a counter-offer. The two of you will go through a process that will hopefully see you meeting on middle ground.

Don’t be surprised if you’re asked to accompany your offer to buy a business with a non-refundable deposit; sellers are typically only interested in dealing with serious buyers. The usual rules apply. Always be prepared to walk away and don’t get so caught up in the process that you get pulled past the price you’re prepared to actually pay.

8) Get a Purchase/Sale Agreement Drawn Up

Once you and the seller have reached the point of agreement on terms, the details need to be specified in a contract. Because the contract needs to itemize every aspect of the sale, it should be drawn up by a lawyer.

How to Buy a Small Business in One Word: Carefully

Don’t be afraid to buy a business that someone else has started and grown. Buying a business can truly be the opportunity to own and operate the successful business you’ve been dreaming of – as long as you resist the temptation to get drawn in by a shiny paint job and do more than just kick the tires before you make an offer.

Grouting Tile

The Grout Logic Process

For some installers, grouting tile is one of the best parts of a project. For starters, it’s the last step in the installation process, so you know you’re almost done. Secondly, filling the joints with grout can add a second dimension to the flooring, pulling the look together. But, more than anything, grout is a vital structural element that secures the tiles together. Simply put, it can make the difference between a tile installation project that will last for decades and one that will show signs of trouble after the very first weeks.

But, if you’ve ever struggled with getting the right thickness of the grouting mix or had grout turn rock hard before you managed to get it off the tile, then you know that this last step is also one of the most challenging. Make one mistake, and you’ll ruin all of your hard work to this point.

This comprehensive guide about grouting tile will help you avoid any problems and get the best results with minimum efforts. We’ll talk about how to mix grout, what consistency should grout be, and how to apply it and remove it so that you get the best results every time.

The Purpose of Laying Joints

Besides the aesthetic functions, laying joints with grout also plays a crucial role in absorbing tensile and stress. From a mechanical point of view, grouting tile can prevent the deformation or instability of the structural supports, keep the cement from retracting, and protect the tiles from humidity or temperature changes.

All the movement and impact that tiles withstand causes stress to accumulate at the edges of the slabs. The grout serves as the first level of protection, reducing the tension by spreading it between tiles.

Grouting Tile – The Purpose of Laying Joints

As mentioned already, another reason for laying joints is to protect tiles from humidity or temperature changes. In cold geographic areas, vapor diffusion can lead to condensation. Even in warm areas, in the case of bathroom tiles, due to the constant exposure to moisture and temperature changes, grout can absorb a significant amount of water if it’s not applied properly.

When grout constantly exposes to water and warm temperatures, it creates a breeding ground for bacteria. That can affect the bonding between the tile and mortar, as well as the structure of the grout. As water moves freely through the grout to the base of the tile, it can cause cracking in the grout, advancing the structural decline of the entire assembly.

Another crucial function of the grout is to hide the small dimensional variations of the tiles.

No one doubts the fact that grouting tile plays a major role in the installation process. The question is, how to grout tile so that you get the best results every time?

It all starts with working with the right type of grout for the task at hand.

Sanded vs. Unsanded Grout

Sanded Grout: Pros & Cons

When it comes to grouting tile, sanded grout is the favorite option for most installers. That’s because unsanded (also known as non-sanded) grout tends to shrink when mixed with cement. Due to the ratio of aggregate material to cement in sanded grout, this material has a thicker consistency and is more durable and resistant than unsanded grout.

On the downside, however, the harsh aggregate material presented in sanded grout can damage soft materials like granite, limestone or marble. This type of grout can act like sandpaper, scratching the smooth surface of soft stones. For this reason, it’s best to use an epoxy-based non-sanded grout. This type of grouting material uses an advanced chemical compound which consists of a base and an activator. When you add the activator to the base, the chemical reaction will result in a grout that is smooth and extremely powerful.

The problem with epoxy-based non-sanded grout is that it can be difficult to work with since it has a rather short curing time. If you don’t manage to apply it over the entire work area before it cures, it will harden, and you will have a difficult time applying it. That’s why it’s important to have the right tools for mixing grout.

Unsanded Grout: Pros & Cons

In spite of its tendency to shrink, non-sanded grout is ideal for vertical surfaces. Since it has no sand or aggregate added to it, this type of grout is extremely sticky. As a result, it will spread easily over vertical surfaces and will stick there without causing you any additional problems.

Although non-sanded grout is not recommended for applications where the tile would have to withstand a lot of foot pressure, when it comes to vertical surfaces, durability doesn’t represent a problem anymore.

Another great benefit of using unsanded grout for vertical surfaces is how easy it is to work with it. It spreads easily and evenly, allowing you to focus on placing the tiles in the right spot rather than trying to correct errors.

How to Prepare the Grouting Material

When you know how to grout tile correctly, the joints between the slabs are uniform in texture and color, with no cracks or residue. But, when the tile is installed over a thick mortar bed, the mixture could provide a sufficient amount of minerals to cause efflorescence. These problems can affect the grout life and require intense maintenance.

Grouting Tile – Preparing grouting material

To ensure proper grout application, you must pay close attention to the preparation of the material.

If you use RG materials for grouting tile, then you need to know that the temperature range for handling and application is rather limited. How long does grout take to dry? Well, it depends on the material’s condition.

If the condition is below or above the recommended temperature range, then you might have a difficult time working with it.

Be careful not to add any bonding agents to the grout material and, with CG materials, to use manufacturer’s recommended quantity of water. Although they can add extra adhesive strength to the grout, bonding agents can also cause discoloration.

Grouting Tile: How to Apply the Material

Any person with an internet connection can learn how to apply grout in under an hour. Or, so they think. Proper grout application requires years of experience learning the ins and outs of each material.

First of all, you need to ensure that the installation joints are clear of any excessive adhesive materials. If you are using RG materials, then you should make sure that the flanks and the bottom seal are dry. The presence of water can affect the curing reaction and prevent tiles from adhering to the subfloor.

Grouting Tile – Applying Grout

Now, that you’ve ensured that everything is in order, the grouting tile process can begin. You can use whichever technique fits you best. Most installers find that spreading the grout diagonally is the most efficient way to apply grout. This technique ensures that the grout gets into the joints and prevents it from popping out as you apply it. If you’re applying grout over a vertical surface, then spreading it diagonally can mean that there’s less mess to clean after you finish.

Of course, the right grouting tools can make a world of difference in how easy it is to apply the grout. Choose a mortar applicator that is lightweight and allows for an easy, quick, and clean application of the grout material.

How to Remove Grout

Here’s the part that most tile installers dread: removing grout.

It should go without saying that no tile installation project is finished without grout removal. The residue left from grout application can make tiles look dusky and ruin their overall appearance. Be one minute too late with removal, and it would be nearly impossible to do a proper grout repair.

So, even though this task is tedious and time-consuming, it needs to be done. So, get a sponge and water, get down on all fours, and start scrubbing. The sooner you get started, the faster you’ll finish.

Sure, no one says that you can’t cheat a little. A grout removal tool, such as a grout scraper can make this task a bit easier to endure.

If you need to remove old grout, then don’t waste a few days hand-scrapping it. Use a reciprocating saw or an oscillating tool to remove grout in as little as one afternoon. Be careful, though, not to chip the tiles.

What is Tile Grout?

Grout is a combination of cement, sand and rock that is often dyed a specific color to match different shades and patterns of tile. When tile is applied to a floor or wall it is set in place using an adhesive. It is necessary to leave joints in between the tiles to allow the adhesive to dry and the moisture escape. This drying process can take up to 30 days to completely cure requiring the use of a porous grout to fill the joints and strengthen the floor. The porousness in the grout allows the moisture to escape from the adhesive preventing the tile from buckling


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