Category Archives: Home-based business

Organizing an Effective Home Office: Insights of Trial and Error

For starters, my ideal – which is to “keep it simple,” may apply here more than anywhere else. Your choice to operate out of a “home office” is somewhat a major life decision. Your work space (whether it’s a private office or a corner in your living room) must be an area conducive to mental and physical comfort, or you’ll find that “work stress” can easily become “life stress”. This is counter-productive and totally the opposite of why you chose a home-based business in the first place, right?

That said, your home office space may not be “spa retreat-ish” but you should have a comfortable and supportive chair, a flat workspace for your needs, good lighting, and system to keep it and the rest of your space organized.

Here is what works for me:

DESK:

I have a simple desk. On it I have my computer, my phone, small set of family (motivational) photos, and a modest-sized “catch all” that has a few compartments for pens, highlights, emery boards, chapstick (…yes, just the essentials) and a calculator. Right next to my desk I have an all-in-one printer that sits on top of a double drawer rolling filing cabinet. In the cabinet I keep the files and supplies that I use on a semi-regular basis, such as, printer ink, my stationery/folders, current client resources, a file for my receipts, all personal correspondence, paper, folders, etc.

RECEIPTS:

Now for the receipts’ file. I keep it monthly. At the beginning of the month, I simply replace the file with the new month’s file. That way, at tax time, I don’t have to go through a whole year’s receipts and divide it up. It’s already separated.

MAIL:

My method probably won’t work for all, but this is what I do: I leave it where it is. My local postal carrier is likely not a big fan of this method, but again…it’s what I do. My home office has the luxury of an outdoor, locked mailbox. Mail goes in and stays there until I am ready to retrieve it…. and “process” it. The same is true for my business mailing address. I have a PO Box that holds my mail until I am ready for it. Because most of my personal and professional business is handled electronically, I don’t worry much about missing something that is time-sensitive. Even paper invitations tend to be preceded by a text or evite. The point is to “control” what you can and the rate and time at which (junk) mail enters your organized space – is totally up to you. When you do check your mail, sit with it, sort it based on recipient and /or required follow-up action, shred it, and move on.  (Similar advice applies to your Email inbox, but we’ll cover that later.)

“DAYTIMER”:

Yes, a handheld NOTEBOOK (not an e-device). Your “Daytimer” can have a space for all your business cards, appointment cards, and go a long way to help you stay organized – if you use it. Here is one that is part of a complete organizing/goal-management system. I found it somewhat randomly online, but I’ve used mine since the start of the new year and bought one for my teen daughter – who is aiming to better organize her time so that she can squeeze in a part time job. We both find it useful.

3-RING BINDERS:

(or a Desktop Filing System) Yes, again with the “old school methods” – but this is one of my favorites. I do a lot of research for clients and also have a lot of e-mails that I need to print and save. I use paper that already has the wholes punched for insertion into a 3 ring binder. I will print out important research, client e-mails I need to save, work that I’ve done so I can review it later, etc., on this paper and then put it into the proper binders. I have a binder for all active clients, including HireAlexis. You would be amazed how clearer things are in a binder than tossed in a file cabinet. For my business it works tremendously.

(You knew that with all these “dos” – a “don’t” was coming, right?)

Okay , here it goes:

No Piling of Anything Allowed. This is one of those habits that can be so easy to get into – I speak from experience! But I stop myself now because I know it will just be brushed off to the side and forgotten. Too often I miss something important and regret the piling blunder again. You will be amazed how much more organized you will feel if you just don’t do this one thing. And time yourself. You think you are too busy, but it takes seconds and how long does it take to look for that missing document.

Lastly, opinions vary on when to review your checklist for optimal efficiency, so here’s my advice:

  1. Start your morning early. Finding quiet early morning time for divine communion, or mediation, works wonders. As you conclude this time, make a list of what you desire to accomplish today.This process will likely include a reflection on yesterday’s list. Move and prioritize tasks and errands, as necessary.
  2. Keep your list handy all day. This will help you evaluate your ability to answer those “quick requests” that come up all day and motivate you to “finish up” when you are tempted to treat yourself to an extra break.
  3. Clean your station, and check your list again, at the end of the day. This may seem a final step in a monumental project until you get caught up, but – when it’s done, reward yourself daily by spending a few minutes to regain that great feeling of accomplish and day’s work well done.
  4. Rinse (yourself) and repeat daily.
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Why You Need a Small Business Management Consultant

Article shared in it’s entirety from “The Raymond Aaron Group”: http://aaron.com/2012/04/25/why-you-need-a-small-business-management-consultant/

Why You Need a Small Business Management Consultant

For most people, owning your own business sounds like a dream come true. You get to be your own boss, choose your hours, and make all the important decisions about how you’ll allocate your resources. That’s how it sounds…

Any real business owner knows the truth. That running a small business is much more complicated, time-consuming, and challenging that most people make it out to be. Even worse, running a small business is often less profitable than those on the outside believe.

That vast majority of small business owners earn a salary of exactly how much is left in their bank account after paying all of the expenses. At the end of some months, that may amount to a nice living. On others, well, it’s not a pretty picture.

With out proper planning and management, those margins can easily go negative. Quite honesty, that’s exactly how most small businesses go under.

Opportunity Favors the Prepared Mind

Now it doesn’t have to be this way. There’s no reason why your business has to live month-to-month with no real guiding philosophy or mission. Here’s the secret: Running a successful business is not rocket science. Nearly anyone can do it.

Surly you’ve met some at least one successful business owner that you were certain that you were smarter than. You probably wondered, “How can this mental midget run a successful company, while I can barely stay employed?”

Frankly, I don’t know how your acquaintance does it — maybe he or she inherited the business.

What I do know is how I manage to do it. And trust me, I’m no brain surgeon. So what’s my secret? It’s simple: I rely on management consultants. Most business owners do. That’s why they’re still in business.

The way I see it, who needs a prepared mind, when I can rent one at a very reasonable cost? It’s the opportunity that I’m seeking, after all, I’m not trying to earn an MBA. Right?

Building a relationship with a good management is often the difference between a flourishing business and a dream that went splat.

Making you into a Manager

Most entrepreneurs jump into a business with big ideas and lots of optimism. Typically, it’s not enthusiasm that we lack, it’s discipline… and probably foresight too. I mean, why else would we have been so enthusiastic about starting a business? Just kidding.

That’s why it’s so important to seek wise council. A good small business management consultant can help you craft a plan that set realistic goals and benchmarks. A management consultant will plan for setbacks, refunds, and unexpected costs that an inexperienced business owner wouldn’t foresee or know to plan for.

More often than not, it’s not the product that drops a business dead in its tracks. It’s unexpected costs and unexpected revenue hiccups during the growth process. These are exactly the reasons most small business owners need a management consultant.

You can’t do it all yourself, so stop pretending that you can be all things to all people all the time. Sorry to be the one to break it to you, but you don’t score 100% in every aspect of management.

Believing that you somehow aced the management test is a sure sign that you’re in over your head. If you want your organization to grow, you can’t approach ever challenge alone. It’s a trap that you don’t want to find yourself in, trust me. If at no other times at all, every successful business needs management consulting during two phases.

Start-up and No Man’s Land

These are two of the most often written about stages of business development, but for very different reasons.

Most entrepreneurs love to fantasize about the start-up phase, mainly because it seems like the sky’s the limit and there are few if any limitations on where your business might be able to go. It’s an exciting time in the life of a business because it’s’ where you put your concept into action, finally getting real world feedback.

Obviously, start-up is also the time in which planning is absolutely essential. This includes staffing, strategic partnerships, and financial forecasts.

For any right-brained idea-man, or idea-woman, who’s launched a start-up, it becomes immediately apparent that you’re in over your head. If you’re overly meticulous, you may find yourself completely bogged down in routine tasks, never having enough time to develop new strategies and processes.

In either case, the clock is ticking and you’ll soon find out if you can hack it all by yourself…

Or you can do the smart thing and hire someone to teach you to become a better manager. Business management consulting is a great way to elevate your game quickly, by outsourcing the learning curve to someone who’s already been there and done that.

No Man’s Land is an entirely different story. Just as the name implies, this stage in the growth of a business is not so fun or exciting. It’s the point at which you business has grown large enough to no long be considered “small,” but is far from being “big” either.

No Man’s Land is the point at which you have to scale up and go big, or else begin to atrophy. In many ways, it’s a lot like the start-up phase, without all the illusions that made it so thrilling.

Because it involves even more fundraising, organizational efficiency, and staffing, No Man’s Land is where a business management consultant becomes no longer necessary, but mandatory.

Creating the Business You Want to Run

The best part about a good business management consultant is that they become an asset, rather than a cost. The changes they suggest should make you money, or at the very least free up time or money that can be better leveraged elsewhere.

After a basic, surface level analysis, it’s easy for any veteran consultant to spot the weaknesses in your market position. I hate to burst your bubble, but they’re there, even if you can’t see them.

A consultant should be able to analyze the marketplace your business operates in and offer up suggestions that will put your business in a better competitive position.

With better positioning, you company will become more marketable. With redundancies and other bottlenecks eliminated, your business will reduce costs, increase production, and become more profitable.

That’s why I always tell people that a good small business management consultant is a business asset. Rather than costing you money, a good consultant will make you money. Over the long run they’re advice will be worth exponentially more than it cost to acquire it.

With the right management and guidance, your company can become a mission driven machine that runs smoothly and rallies around the cause or purpose you initially envisioned. Businesses that are built to deliver on a clear purpose or goal are actually much easier to grow and maintain than a hastily cobbled together organization.

It’s really not all that surprising, when you think about it. Many of the biggest, most profitable companies in the world, the Apples, the Nordstroms, the Whole Foods, etc. are also the most inspiringly single-minded.

That’s the kind of business you originally wanted to own anyway.

Article shared in it’s entirety from “The Raymond Aaron Group”: http://aaron.com/2012/04/25/why-you-need-a-small-business-management-consultant/

Are You Fit to Freelance? (Tips for Exercising At Your Desk)

We are officially in the midst of summer 2011 and I hope that you are embracing a “wealthy living” mindset by incorporating a variety of activities that create income, promote healthy living, and encourage your community to do the same.

What happens, though, when your aspiration for wealth (meaning “discretionary time”) is greater than your present reality (i.e. you don’t have time to do your work and exercise as often as you’d like to)?  Well, you’re not alone.  Many of us who have achieved the level of independent success that allows us to work from our own space and on our own terms, still “wish” for more time in the day during which (at least, we tell ourselves) we would squeeze in that 30-45 minutes of exercise we need daily.

Well, the excuses stop now.  Here are some of my favorite “in-office” exercises:

“After-Call Cardio” (use your cellphone timer) – After every phone call:

  1. Do a minute’s worth of jumping jacks.
  2. Do high-knee (football-like, running in place), simulated jump rope moves or shadow box drills for a minute or two. (Get those knees up!)
  3. Do walk-lunges.

“Slow Day Strength-building”– During down times, control your movements and repeat these activities 15 times each:

  1. To work your chest and shoulders, place both hands on your chair arms and slowly lift your bottom off the chair. Lower
    yourself back down but stop short of the seat, hold for a few seconds.
  2. To stretch your back and strengthen your biceps, place your hands on the desk and hang on. Slowly push your chair back until your head is between your arms and you’re looking at the floor. Then slowly pull yourself back in.
  3. Standing, put your hands on the desk. Walk backward, then do push-ups against the desk.

“Pre-Meeting Meditations”Before your next meeting, simple stretches are great for de-stressing and relaxing especially when combined with calm affirming thoughts:

  1. Sitting tall in your chair, stretch both arms over your head and reach for the sky. After 10 seconds, extend the right hand higher, then the left.
  2. Let your head loll over so that your right ear nearly touches your right shoulder. Using your hand, press your head a little lower (gently, now). Hold for 10 seconds. Relax, and then repeat on the other side.
  3. Sitting up straight, try to touch your shoulder blades together. Hold, and then relax.

“Set-it and Forget It”Simple all-day boosters

  1. Wear 1.5lb wrist weights and 3 – 5lb ankle weights
  2. Drink water out of a visibly measured container.  Set an intake goal and meet it daily.
  3. Get fully dressed with comfortable shoes.  (A commonly perceived perk to working solo is the ability to roll out of bed and into your work chair with no dress code.  If you are “guilty” of working in your PJ’s all the time, challenge yourself to get to dressed and wear comfortable shoes.  You’ll find that your energy and productivity level increase just by the “feeling of preparedness” that comes with getting dressed for the day ahead.)

Check out this video that illustrates similar desk exercises to those mentioned above.

After a week or so of incorporating these simple exercises into your day, you may find that you feel energized enough to commit time in your schedule to a slightly more focused “exercise-time”.  Here is a link to an article from Essence magazine, I keep posted over my desk:  “The 15 Minute Workout”

Here’s to your wealthy healthy living! Best wishes!

Save It For Your Blog….

Do you offer a service or product that is promoted at parties?  I have the pleasure of being affiliated with several direct sales companies and I love party planning.  One similarity among these companies and the “party planning/team building” training is the encouragement to share a testimony about why you joined the company and how being a “______ Representative” has changed your life.

Today I want to encourage you to use that time wisely.

Most — if not all– of us have a “life testimony” that includes hardships, highs, lows, feast and famine….and in a comfortable “girlfriends-type” of scenario (which you and your party hostess have certainly worked to create), it’s easy to allow yourself to open up and share personal information.  To a certain degree, this is the point.  After all, you want your audience to see themselves in you and believe that if you are achieving your goals, they can too.

However, it’s important to remember that you are the professional of the hour. Party guests have come on behalf of their hostess (and friend) because she has promised a good time and great products offered by a professional representative. This is not the time to tell the story of your divorce and missing child support. (Even if it is true and significant to your personal testimony….save it for another time.)

Instead, create a professional testimonial statement that flows with positive energy.  Try these:

  • Quote your hostess.  How many times has she told you she was excited to be planning a party? Share that while you make money, this opportunity also provides deeper satisfaction by allowing you to spread joy.  Say: “Even when things in my personal life may not be as I wish, I know that when I walk into a room with a satisfied customer, she is happy to see me and trusts that I respect her business. To me, that’s what’s most important and with quality products from ____, I am confident in what I do….and that confidence impacts all areas of my life for the better.”
  • Share a victory.  Are you driving a company car or carrying a fashionable purse that has been gifted to you by the company? Highlight your successes and how the company shows its appreciation. Say: “In my previous profession, I learned to create my own personal rewards for completing projects and exceeding expectations. When I was introduced to this opportunity I was amazed at how much focus the company places on rewarding top performers and offering incentives at every level.  My first gift was _______ and they got better from there.  Representing ______ gives me a chance to ‘double’ my personal rewards. They reward me and I reward myself for every goal I accomplish.  Can you say win/win?”

The idea is to know your audience and be prepared with a (true) winning statement (professional testimonial) that will tap positive energies in the room.  Sad stories will inevitably invoke pity (intentional or not) and while pity may make you a few extra sales on site, it will not motivate people to join your team.

What are your favorite party planning/team building tips?

Ideas for Home-based Businesses (Lists)

Linked below are lists filled “Home-based Business Ideas.”  I think the main point is, if you have a skill, a talent, or an idea –> Go for it!

400 Home-based Business Ideas
“10 Best Home-based Business Ideas”
“MSN StartUpNation: 100 Home-based Businesses” 

There’s no time like the present to take a step toward your future….