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Where Steve Martin and my business plan meet.

Posted on March 21, 2014 at 10:34 PM Comments comments (1032)
Every so often I decide to update my business plan to make sure I’m heading in the right direction. I 
 usually have music on in the background or a comedy tape. 

Yesterday, as I was working on the update, one of Steve Martin’s standup comedy routines from back in the ‘70’s came on from “Let’s Get Small” (along with some terrific banjo music).  To quote in part…
“I like to get small…very dangerous for kids though, because they get really small. I know I shouldn't get small when I'm drivin', but, uh, I was drivin' around the other day, you know [whistles tunefully] and a cop pulls me over. And he goes, 'Hey, are you small?' I said, 'No, I'm tall, I'm tall.' He said, 'Well, I'm gonna have to measure you.' They've got a little test they give you; it's a balloon, and if you can get inside of it, they know... you're small. And they can't put you in a regular cell either, because you walk right out.”
And right then and there, I realized that the problem with my business plan was that I wanted to do the unthinkable – I wanted to “Get Small”!  And I wanted to stay small.
Well, that goes against everything they ever teach you in business school.  It challenges the basic core of the bulk of today’s marketing plans! It is outrageous, blasphemous, un-heard of! To purposefully stay small? To frame your entire business plan upon a goal that would make you “small” and keep you “small” – that’s heretical!
And yet there it was, plain as day, written out in fast and furious, mis-spelled-so-I-could-get-it-out-authentically-text – I want my business to stay small.
I want it to be manageable.  I want it to be fun. I want it to be hands-on and something I do because I love it. I want every single room I stage to be a reflection of what I intended this business to reflect: a picture-perfect vision of what this room should look like to attract buyers to get this home sold. 
It should be beautiful.  It should be detailed. It should enhance the features of this particular home based upon attention to the architecture, geographic location & the demographic of potential buyers that this unique home brings to the market.  In order to do that, I work best when I am allowed to take the time to get those details right. 
I have had businesses large and small for over 25 years, many of them highly successful.  That was then and this is now – those businesses were intended to grow, to have employees and to maximize profit.
This business is different.  This business is now: at a time when I want to do the work I love and do it well, and still have time left over to enjoy life.  And that’s the way I wrote the current business plan. 
We will do a maximum number of staging jobs per month.  They will all be vacant properties or model homes for builders.  I will not rush or take less than the job is worth. I will provide the highest quality service, professionalism, the right amount of detail & stay true to the standards we have set for our business for quality. I will refer out all other jobs to professional stagers I have worked with and whose work I can recommend and admire.
Someone said to me when I sent her the draft for this article, that it sounded like I was looking down on other business owners who want to “go big”, as if there was some moral pejorative involved in my decision – that somehow I was making the point that “small” was “better” or of a higher quality.  Or that it ignored the basic premise that to be in business we should all strive to maximize profits wherever possible.  She thought it sounded snooty that I avoided the obvious issue of “how much money do I need to make”, and that by saying I would be satisfied making less, it seemed dismissive to those who need to maximize profits based upon the economic needs of their family.
That’s not the point at all.  For me, “smaller” equates to less pressure, more enjoyment and a chance to do the work I love in a working environment where I am most comfortable and thrive best. 
Most of all being “small” means that for the first time in my work life, I have some time – time to take better care of myself and my health, time to meet friends, or read a book without feeling guilty. I can turn off the computer and go outside, take up a new sport and begin taking the time to sit down for a healthy meal that I make, now that there is time to shop.  And for once, I won’t be rushing my friends to get off the phone because “I’m busy now” (left unsaid but implied by the impatience in my voice).
Right after I post this, I’m going to write the first real letter I’ve written in years and I’m going to have to go find a real stamp to post it! I think my friend will get a kick out of getting something in the mail beside bills and advertisements.
I wish everyone who starts their own business the very best of luck in attaining whatever they are seeking – whether it is expansion, profits, innovation, a big brand name or recognition in their field. May you all have phenomenal success.
Success for me will be doing a “small” job with no pressure, leaving work and going home to find that, for once, I have plenty of time to do whatever I want. And for that I have my favorite comedian, Steve Martin, to thank!

Home Staging San Diego Style

Posted on February 24, 2014 at 10:01 PM Comments comments (232)
Home Staging San Diego Style ~

It's all about style these days and when it comes to what's "in style" (or "on-trend" as people are saying so often these days) where you are makes a difference! For us, here in San Diego, CA, the homes we stage and remodel for the most part are near the beach or a beach community.  Styles in home decor and what's "on-trend" will reflect that atmosphere.

We see lots of beach-themed design and in our opinion, it fits!  Homes that we stage in this area will often enjoy ocean breezes and the people that live here tend to live an outdoor lifestyle.  With out year-round temperate climate it just naturally leads people to be outdoors and active.  Fashion choices, home decor preferences and even your car can be a reflection of the way people live here.

The emphasis on outdoor living and our climate means that in their homes people may want a living space that brings the outdoors inside.  They may want an open concept home & one where you can step right out onto the patio - a place that is likely to be used year round in our area.  The coastal feel translates to a color palette that reflects the ocean and bright blue skies.  You see a lot of natural elements in the design patterns in the homes we see every day.

Our favorite color palette tends to run to shades of blues & greens that you would see in the ocean and sky, to shades of tan that remind you of sandy beaches and touches of coral and gold that reflect our wonderful sunsets.  Decor will often include natural elements such as reclaimed wood, sea shells, sea fans, water elements and live green plants and flowers.  Orchids do well here and we often stage with flowers that are in season - we have Birds of Paradise in bloom year round so those are always a option here, bringing a beautiful touch to any room.

Every area has it's own "style" and those of us in the staging business are aware that there is no one "right" style.  The decor we use in our design may reflect the area and it's character or may be more about the specific home and it's architectural style or neighborhood.  Even the season plays a part - every year as we approach the holidays we will add autumn colors and holiday accents.  At HomeScapes we are in love with the area and all it has to offer, so we are grateful to have our inspiration be the ocean at our side.

What's your style?  Our best to you all as spring approaches!

HomeScapes San Diego

Marketing Your Business on Pinterest

Posted on February 21, 2014 at 4:53 PM Comments comments (234)
Using Pinterest to Market Your Business

These are the things I wish I'd known before I started on Pinterest. One of the things I've noticed about most articles on Pinterest is that you don't find a lot of direction for how to Pin most effectively using their website & all it offers. Most of the people who are teaching about Pinterest have great ideas about general marketing but the intricacies of "how to" are generally not addressed - like how & when to use hashtags and what words you want to highlight & why - how to get more followers from your targeted market - how to use Group boards & invite people to Pin - how to create boards that attract attention - best time of day to Pin (2-4 p.m & 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.) & how to not flood your Pinning (spacing them out over time) - how to use their Analytics section to see what's working for you (arrange your boards so your most popular boards are at the top) - making sure each board you create includes a "category" - how to use their Search bar - making sure your website is in your Profile (& your social networks so they're connected) & MOST IMPORTANTLY inserting your website into every Pin you pin and upload, being sure to give credit if it's not your photo - adding a "map" to your Pin when it helps (very important on Pins for properties) - adding a "Pin It" button you can download on your computer and embedding the Pinterest widget in your website so people can go directly to your boards from the website - lots more, but all things I wish I'd known when I first started out! Here’s the link to our boards – I would love to follow others boards if you comment!

Flipping Houses - is it making a comeback?

Posted on February 10, 2014 at 5:48 AM Comments comments (268)
Flipping Houses - it's on again!  We have been experiencing a number of contacts for work from new developers who are "flipping" houses again.  The concept of "flipping" homes became the subject of a lot of controversy during the period when the housing market experienced a downturn after 2008.  With the market looking up we are seeing the phenomenon return.  For a stager, whether a home is being "flipped" can make a difference in our jobs. When a developer who is new to the concept takes on a large project without knowing the basic principles to what makes it work, the house can stay on the market much longer than usual, usually because it has been overpriced or priced out of the local market.  

For homebuyers, keeping an eye out for homes that have been "flipped" can be important because you want to be sure the home you buy has been remodeled with quality construction and fixtures by a qualified general contractor who has taken out the appropriate permits and had done a good job.  Your real estate agent and inspector can help you do the research to make sure the home you are buying is done well and is priced right.  If the contractor and developer have done their job right and have completed the home using quality materials & with attention to detail, you can find a home that is perfect for your needs that is like new.  

If the "flipper" was more interested in getting in and making a quick profit you could be in trouble.  For more information on this interesting topic, see our page "Recommended Reading" for an article by a former "flipper" (who did excellent work) on how to "flip" for a profit & still do quality work.  Let us know what you think!

Our new website is just about ready!

Posted on May 7, 2013 at 3:06 AM Comments comments (298)
We will be working on our blog this Fall.  Keep an eye out for our first post!