Landscaping Creatively and Cost Effectively

Landscaping creatively and cost-effectively can be a breeze if you keep a few simple steps in mind. Creating curb appeal is one of the best ways to increase the value of any property, as well as beautify its overall exterior aesthetic. 

One of the biggest ways to transform your curb appeal from a ‘before’ into an ‘after’ for existing landscape is to add fresh mulch. The pop of color will create an immediate visual impact for your lawn, and then neatly manicuring your shrubs and trees will complete the new look. If you have any shrubbery or tree branches that are touching your property, trim them back at least two feet or more from any exterior surfaces of your property. Any vegetation that touches any exterior surface of your property gives wood destroying insects an easier way to enter it. The same is true for your trees. The wood exteriors of properties can experience damage from squirrels, birds and other natural sources, so keeping your trees trimmed back decreases the likelihood that these types of nuisances will be able to have easy access. 

If you are replacing existing landscaping, or if you are installing a new landscape design, your best return on any landscaping investment will be with evergreen landscaping options. The most commonly used varieties of evergreens are junipers, pines and arborvitae. They give you year round color, when most other vegetation has gone dormant in colder weather. Studying your plant hardiness zone will help you determine which plants are most likely to thrive in your location. The more research you do, the more likely you will be able to keep your landscape thriving and lush.

Delegation as an Entrepreneur and Getting It All Done

Most days I feel that satisfying sense of accomplishment that comes from being on top of my game and being able to manage ‘it all’. Then there are those days where I start to tackle the day, and I can feel time slipping through my hands. I’ll look at the clock and think ‘How is it already noon?’ and then I’ll check the time again and think ‘How have two hours passed already?!’ and this usually continues for the rest of my work day. In reflection, it’s the feeling like I’m running behind that makes those days increasingly stressful and less successful than they ultimately could have been.  It’s more often on the days where I’m dealing with unexpected issues that can arise from managing property flips, or client concerns that need to be addressed immediately. As a business owner, I do what I can to proactively plan for the unexpected, but there’s only so much you can do to prepare for days that are playing out as far away from the plan as possible.

Delegating tasks and duties seems like the obvious answer. Just pass all those necessities that grow your business like client support, social media management and accounting tasks to someone else and free yourself up, right? That’s generally the go-to advice that new entrepreneurs receive from mentors, other business owners and pretty much anyone when voicing their ‘early days of business’ frustrations. It’s great advice, don’t get me wrong, and it’s inevitable that you’ll be at a point in your business where you’ll find it necessary to hire an assistant or hire employees to handle the volume from your growth. But getting from day 1 and having virtually no budget to being at a point where your profits can cover the expense of additional help takes some time. It may only be a few months, but those can be some challenging days while you juggle it all solo.

The hardest part of being a new entrepreneur is having to do a little bit of everything. Bridging the gap between doing it all and having the ability to delegate isn’t as impossible as it seems. It can be achieved in many ways that are inexpensive, if not free. I’ve always found that my days run smoother and I’m more capable of accomplishing the most out of my day if I work from a planner. It’s most effective when I fill out the day’s planner the evening before and spend a few minutes accessing the current day’s planner to see what action items were not completed and carry over to the next day. This is how I determine what action items and income-producing activities I’m successful at and what my areas of improvement are. I think it’s important to analyze this for a few minutes each day and here’s why. When I delegate a task to anyone else, regardless of what the task is or whether the help is free or paid, I always make sure the goal/project is being handled by someone who is up to the task. In other words, they handle whatever it is in a way that I would have, or better. I’m not only concerned for the importance of my brand and making sure that their work is representing my ideals, but I want to be able to learn from them so that I can grow and operate better every day.

My first assistant came in the form of a virtual assistant, and that was a complete game changer for me. I had someone handling calls from ads, answering emails, and conducting property searches for myself and my clients. This saved me 3 hours a day initially, and even more time after that. I was able to shift my day from administrative duties to money making activities, like listing appointments and showings, and the momentum created snowballed from there.

Collaboration with other real estate agents was the key to keeping my sanity in the beginning when trying to manage all the showings I had. I consider collaborating with other professionals a form of delegating because I’m able to share responsibilities and accomplish a bigger task than I would have alone. Over the years, I have found collaboration with others is always a good idea when their business aligns with mine. Collaborating keeps me accountable, motivated to accomplish more and learning something new consistently, which always increases my earning power. As work became steadier and my income grew, it was easier and easier to delegate and find help to run my business effectively. Now, so many processes are automated, such as email services and apps that assist entrepreneurs with social media planning. Creative delegating goes beyond receiving assistance with work tasks and carries over into my family life. I can spend at least 2 hours or more each night preparing dinner and cleaning up afterward. I decided that for 4 nights a week, eating a take-out meal, or pre-prepped dinners that I had made on Sundays were an appropriate substitute and an incredible time saver. Delegating dinner prep is a huge win for my business in the evening hours, especially when I’m behind on completing action items from the work day. Delegating household and family chores is the best way to shift your time at any point that you need more focus on your business, but it’s a delicate balance. Balancing work and home life is the key to deciding when I need to delegate and how often. It will continue to be a process that is a learning curve and essential to successful growth.

My Reason Why

It’s hard to describe what the drive behind being an entrepreneur is like to someone who doesn’t have that burning desire to build something for themselves. It’s a guttural, non-stop aching motivation to achieve more every single day than the day before. It’s the feeling that’s with you when you lay down to go to sleep, and it’s the thing that wakes you up before the alarm clock goes off in the morning. As an entrepreneur, you know exactly what it means to strive for personal and business success, create and execute a plan, and all the obstacles along the way that become character-building opportunities.

The flexibility with my schedule is one of the bigger perks, both in being an agent and a flipper/investor. I can schedule showing appointments and open houses around my client’s schedule constraints, leaving me open to handle project management tasks and schedule meetings at my convenience. There are times where I find it easier to work at night, sometimes until 2 or 3 in the morning. I don’t have to call and run it by someone else when I need a little extra sleep in the morning before I tackle the day.  Not having a commute thanks to my home office has to be one of the biggest timesavers in my day, and the easiest way to ensure that I’m maximizing my work hours to their potential. In the past, I have spent 2 hours or more a day in traffic getting from home to the office and back. Eliminating my commute gave me freedom to spend that time performing income-producing activities, and that’s just a smarter way to operate. The harder I work, the greater the income, so I need every advantage when it comes to time management.

I chose a career in real estate because for the most part, I was raised in the industry. My father was a real estate agent in Texas, and I was his assistant for a number of years. After several years of helping him match our clients with what is usually the biggest investment they’ll make in their lives, it was in my blood, to say the least. I’m addicted to the moment a client falls in love with a property. Few things are more satisfying than watching them find their dream house, while they envision how their family will flourish there and the memories they’ll make calling it home.  It’s an amazing sense of accomplishment to help a client from start to finish, especially watching them receive the keys to their new home after closing. It feels incomparably satisfying and it’s the whole reason I love to say I’m a REALTOR.