May Gardening in Ohio

hydraFinally our days and nights start to get a little warmer in May. The spring colors are in full bloom and this is the month that true flower gardening begins in Ohio.

If you did not aerate in the fall, you will need to do so now. Mow your grass high at about 2.5-3.5 inches. It is really too late to plant grass seed but is the perfect time for sod. Keep sod watered the first couple of weeks. Existing lawns need 1 inch of water per week. For light feeding and Broadleaf control, use a weed and feed product some time during the month.

Your garden center will fill up with perennials in May! 1-2 gallon pots are more expensive than the 2-4 inch ones but you will never be able tell the difference next season. Be sure to purchase healthy plants that are not wilted, yellow, or have…

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Summertime and the Living is Easy in Your Yard

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What’s going on in your lawn and landscaping in August?  Late summer in Ohio is known for hot, humid days.  As I write this, I am out enjoying a beautiful 80 degree, sunny morning with very low humidity out on my deck.  Rare for late July in my home town.

Blooms:  Many of your perennials like the Black Eyed Susan, Coneflower and Shasta Daisy will self-sow their seed.  If you leave the seed-heads on this will mean more beautiful blooms for next year and will provide food for your birds.  You should draw finches of all sort to Black Eyed Susan and Coneflowers.  A variety of Roses may get a second wind this month.  By late August you can think about planting landscape shrub roses.  Some of your annuals will continue to bloom in August while others will look worn and tired.  Fall will be here before you know…

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Six Cool Things to Do in Your Business This Summer

deckchairs-355596_640Summer for many businesses tend to be slower than normal due to kids being out of school and vacations.  There are things that we can do during our slower times to help our businesses. Here are 6 cool things that you can do in your business this summer.

 Make a list of your top prospects. Every small business owner in a business-to-business company, should have a list of their top customers and their top prospects that they keep handy. Ideally, the list should be visible all the time, taped on a desk or posted on a wall. It often takes some research and homework to identify prospects, and in the day-to-day rush of business, that can be hard. During the summer, do some research and uncover contacts who have the potential to become big customers before the end of the year.

 Develop your fall marketing plan. Summer won’t…

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Lawn and Flower Garden: July in Ohio

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July is normally hot, dry, and humid here in Ohio. There is not much to do in your lawn/flower gardens now that summer is here.

It is a good time to have your mower blade sharpened again. Grass will begin to get stressed by now so do not aerate or fertilize your lawn this month.  You should set your mower at 3 inches and make sure that you water your lawn deeply; soak down 6-8 inches every 10-14 days.

Be sure to give your perennials (flowers that return each year) a good soak every 7-10 days (1-2 inches). There is not much else to do with your flowers in July other than keep them watered and weeded. Be sure to deadhead to encourage new blooms. Continue to pinch Mums back this month.

Japanese beetles appear in July. Pick them off your roses, shrubs and other plants and destroy them in…

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Ohio Flower Gardening in June

Anyone who knows me knows I love to work outside in my lawn and flowers. Sharing for those of you like me!

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You can really beautify your yard this month with annuals (plants that only last 1 season). When it gets hot, those Pansies that you planted early in the season may start to look a little worn. Replace them with some showy annuals. The Poppies, BleedingHeart and Virginia Bluebells will die all the way back and leave bare spaces. Fill those, and any other areas where you need color, with containers of long-lasting annuals. Your annuals have shallow roots, so they will need watered more regularly than your perennials (those plants that come back each year). In the hot, Ohio summer, your pots and containers made need daily watering. Just check the soil by poking your finger in it.  If it comes out clean-time to water! Make sure to deadhead spent flowers to encourage more blooms.

Grass should need less mowing in June due to the warmer temperatures. Make…

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What was Your Last One-On-One Like?

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I’ve done it. You’ve done it.  We have all sat through one-on-one meetings that are not only are a waste of time but have sucked the energy right out of you.

People schedule 1-1’s for many reasons; building relationships, sharing what your company can do for a potential client or touching base with employees or associates.  To be sure that your next 1-1 is productive try the following tips.

  1.  Be sure there’s a good reason to meet. If you are contemplating a 1-1 for building relationships then a meeting is a no brainer.  If you are trying to decide if the other person is truly interested in your services or they just want to sell theirs, you may want to schedule a short telephone conversation first.  Then if you have what they need or you want what they have, by all means set up a time to meet.  For your employees, it is counterproductive to hold a meeting just because you think it’s been too long since your employees all got together. If your objectives can be addressed with a few emails, hold off on an all-hands meeting until there’s a genuine need for one.
  2.  Choose the right environment. Conducting the 1-1 in the right setting will enhances the quality of the conversation you have.  If you work from home or want to meet outside the office a nice local coffee shop or restaurant may work out well.  Remember that you came to talk and to listen so make sure the location is not too loud.  If you are meeting with an employee the last thing you want is someone else overhearing your conservation or interrupting it.
  3.  Start and end on time — no exceptions.  Always be on time for any meeting. If the other party is 10 minutes late-text them and let them know that the meeting will need to be rescheduled.  If everyone arrives on time, be transparent and honest as soon as the initial greetings are over.  Let the other person know how much time you have set aside for the meeting.  Set a subtle timer on your cell to let you know when there are 10 minutes left.  This will give you ample time to wrap up the conversation.  Remember “Time is Money”.
  4.  Remember that it is a two-way conversation. If you are meeting to build a relationship or land a potential client, ideally you should get ½ of the meeting time to talk and the other party should get the other half of the time.    I am sure we have all sat through 1-1’s where we could not get a word in (we should have had that short telephone conversation first)While it’s important to build rapport, make sure the 1-1 doesn’t turn into a chat fest.  Normally, the purpose of these conversations is to professionally and productively discuss work or service related topics. It’s not an opportunity to catch up on gossip or hear the details of their home renovation. Use your facilitation skills to keep the conversation focused.
  5.  Make notes and follow up after the meeting. Create minutes or notes about every meeting you have for future reference. Be sure to follow up with the person who freely gave their time to meet with you.  Take a moment to e-mail, call or send a personal card.  Business manners are important.  Providing a follow up in about a week or so also puts you right back into the mind of this person-and that’s where you want to be.

  I scheduled a lot of 1-1’s when I first started my business.  Luckily, I only had a few where my eyes glazed over while the other party discussed, non-stop, about what they do for the entire meeting.  Even if you have to sit through a few of those, remember there are many good business relationships that started with a 1-1.  Always keep in mind that timeyours and theirs-and good manners are always crucial.

About the Author:  Sheri Miller is the Owner of Another You, LLC, a Personal/Virtual Assistant service in the Dayton, Ohio area.  Sheri helps small business owners save time and money by taking care of their day-to-day administrative tasks.  Think of her as your right hand while your left hand is growing your business.    www.anotheryouerrands.com  937-416-2207

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3 Ways to Save Time and Handle Interruptions

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I read a recent article that stated “running a small business isn’t a job; it’s twelve jobs!” Most small business owners wear many hats.  They are the CEO, the marketer, the sales person, the bookkeeper, the social media strategist, the facilities manager and the list goes on and on.  All these things take up time.

I work with multiple small business owners and no matter what tasks I begin helping my clients with, the majority end up having me manage their e-mail because it takes so much time during their day.  A case study conducted by the Danwood Group found it takes 1.5 minutes on average to read and recover from each e-mail. Try these 3 simple tips to lessen the amount of time and interruptions throughout your day:

1. E-Mail can be a To Do List that others can write on.  If we are not careful, we will allow others to dictate our To Do List and how we will spend a big part of our day. Try this:

SCAN your inbox for urgent and important items when you first open your e-mail. Take care of anything urgent.
CLOSE your e-mail.
BLOCK 30-60 minutes on your calendar once or twice later in the day to process your e-mail…when YOU have the time.

2. Turn off your E-mail Notifications.  Turn them off on your phone, tablet and computer. Allowing every e-mail that arrives in your inbox to interrupt your day destroys your productivity. Remember you have set aside some time each day to read and process those e-mails.

3. Use Templates.  Ever find yourself typing the same sentences over and over when writing or responding to e-mails? If so, you should be using templates. Read through your sent mail and see what types of messages you are regularly sending, then put them in e-mail templates.

Time.  You can’t recover it, make up for it or reverse it.  There are 24 hours in a day and 168 in a week and those numbers aren’t changing. What you can change is using your hours more efficiently and wisely by decreasing the amount of time you spend on unimportant interruptions.

headshot2About the Author: Sheri Miller is the Owner of Another You, LLC, a Business Concierge/Personal Assistant service in the Dayton, Ohio area. Sheri helps small business owners save time and money by taking care of their day-to-day administrative tasks. Think of her as your right hand while your left hand is growing your business. http://www.anotheryouerrands.com 937-416-2207

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Ripped Off! 3 Painful Lessons You Don’t Have to Learn the Hard Way (Like I Did).

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I guess it is all part of business, certainly one part that I do not enjoy…not being paid by your client.

When you bring on a new client you work hard to learn their personality, likes, and needs. You perform the service that  they have asked you to do. You answer all of their telephone calls and texts, no matter what time received. You cancel and reschedule appointments for them because they have a hard time staying on task. You give them your best and they thank you and tell you that they appreciate the work that you are doing. When the job is done, you send their invoice and…wait for it…”crickets”.  Now this particular person will not answer my calls or e-mails.

I help small business owners. The majority of my clients are local; right here in the Dayton area. Most of us know  each other or at least have knowledge of each other. Can you image the gall of a small business owner in your own town not paying for services received? What does that say about the person?  What does that say about her business?

When I contacted my attorney, she confirmed to me that this one of the painful parts of owning a business. So that you don’t have to learn the hard way like I did, I am sharing 3 Things that I Learned from being RIPPED OFF by my Client.

1. Get Your Money Up Front: The majority of Personal/Virtual Assistants that I come in contact with collect the fee for their services before the work is started. My business is still in the growing stage and I made the decision that I would not pre-collect for local small business. To cover myself, I work from a contract that was drawn up by my attorney. I have had the pleasure of working with wonderful people for the last 2 years that pay their bills. Then I met her! Now I have to collect my fees up front for all new clients for fear of non-payment.

2. You Cannot Always Trust People No Matter How/Where You Meet Them: Wow, this one is hard me. I have been blessed in my life to be surrounded by wonderful people.  Networking in Dayton is huge! I met this client through a large, well-known networking group. If you are reading this from the Dayton area I am sure you know this group and have probably attended many of their events. This is another reason that I felt confident in  taking on the work without collecting up front. We have many of the same people in common! This is certainly not the fault of the networking group. I truly enjoy the people who I have met through the group and a few have become very close friends. Then I met her! Now, I can no longer trust the fellow members of my networking groups.

3. Use Your Resources: Harvey Mackay, author of Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty, lists the 16 cornerstones for a solid network. He discusses the industries you need have in your networking circle. Along with an accountant and a banker, an attorney is on that list. Have an attorney on retainer!  As I mentioned before, your attorney can help you with contracts and can move forward if/when you have to use the legal system to collect what is owed to you. Be familiar with the Small Claims Court policies of the cities your client resides in. If the unpaid debt is under $3000.00, you can file the necessary papers, go through the motions, and be awarded judgement for the amount of the unpaid debt plus your court costs.  Don’t forget your local BBB (Better Business Bureau). It is very easy to file a complaint against the business online.

It is really sad that as business owners we may have to go to the extremes that I have listed above. It is because of a few other small business owners that are unprofessional and dishonest and won’t pay their debts.   I, for one, have always paid my bills, both personally and professionally.     I would feel like a big loser if I didn’t.  I certainly would be concerned about my good name and the good name of my business in this small town if I was stiffing other business owners. Obviously, she doesn’t care about her name or her business.  What I (and now you) can do is learn from my past, use our resources, and move forward. As for her, what is it they say about Karma?

headshotAbout the Author: Sheri Miller is the Owner of Another You, LLC, a Business Concierge/Personal Assistant service in the Dayton, Ohio area. Sheri helps small business owners save time and money by taking care of their day-to-day administrative tasks. Think of her as your right hand while your left hand is growing your business. If you are a small business owner that needs more time during your day (and you pay your bills 🙂 ) contact me!        http://www.anotheryouerrands.com      937-416-2207

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7 Ways to Track Your Time and More

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Every small business owner and freelancer needs to be able to track their time, invoice clients, and manage their customers.   Here are a few of the most popular programs to help you do just that!
  1. Paymo:  Paymo is a great platform for small business owners.  I use it for my business and love it!  Not only does Paymo offer time-tracking and invoicing, it also provides project management. There is a free trial, so you can see if it works for your business  before you pay for it.
  2.  toggl:  Toggl is very simple and offers both  a free option and an upgraded option at just $5 per month per user.  Toggl will help you to keep track of your time and project budgets.
  3. Timecamp: Another awesome time-tracking tool has always free as long as you are a freelancer.  For larger businesses there is a 30-day trial period and then it is $6-$9 per month per user.
  4. Harvest: Harvest is loved by many.  It  allows you to track time and create invoices for  your clients. A one-user account costs $12 per month with unlimited clients, projects, and invoicing.
  5. Fusion Invoice: Fusion Invoice is a self-hosted invoicing system where you can actually own the software.
  6. Hiveage: Hiveage provides strong online billing. You can send invoices and estimates, accept payments online, track time and expenses, manage teams and view reports. Hiveage offers a free trial.
  7. Fresh Books: Fresh Books makes accounting easy.  You will be able to immediately start sending invoices, tracking your time,  and recording expenses right after signing up.  Fresh Books, which some think rivals Quickbooks, offers a free 30 day trial.

headshot2About the Author: Sheri Miller is the Owner of Another You, LLC, a Business Concierge/Personal Assistant service in the Dayton, Ohio area. Sheri helps small business owners save time and money by taking care of their day-to-day administrative tasks. Think of her as your right hand while your left hand is growing your business.    If you are a small business owner who needs help contact Sheri.            http://www.anotheryouerrands.com               937-416-2207

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May Gardening in Ohio

hydraFinally our days and nights start to get a little warmer in May. The spring colors are in full bloom and this is the month that true flower gardening begins in Ohio.

If you did not aerate in the fall, you will need to do so now. Mow your grass high at about 2.5-3.5 inches. It is really too late to plant grass seed but is the perfect time for sod. Keep sod watered the first couple of weeks. Existing lawns need 1 inch of water per week. For light feeding and Broadleaf control, use a weed and feed product some time during the month.

Your garden center will fill up with perennials in May! 1-2 gallon pots are more expensive than the 2-4 inch ones but you will never be able tell the difference next season. Be sure to purchase healthy plants that are not wilted, yellow, or have thin-lanky stems. Stay away from foliage that has holes, dark blotches, or tiny pale or dark spots on them. Check out the plant label and follow the recommendation. No matter how healthy a plant you purchase, it will not thrive unless it is happy where it is planted. Perennials can be planted in your flower beds or in pots and containers.  May is an excellent time to plant roses so don’t forget them when visiting your favorite garden store.

If your existing perennials get too large for their space, May is a great time to divide them and replant in another location or give to a neighbor.

  • Dig under roots and lift plant from soil.
  • Use a sharp knife, spade, or other sharp tool to cut through clumps to make rooted chunks of the plant.
  • Remove any thin or dead parts of the plant.
  • Replant 1 chunk in the original position and plant the others elsewhere in your yard or put in a pretty container and give as a gift.
  • Water newly planted plants well at planting time and check again in 4-5 days if no rain.

Some spring pruning will be needed in May. Removing faded flowers makes your bed look better and sends the energy of the plant down to its roots. Use shears to clip off the spent flowers of Candytuft, Pinks and Phlox. You may see ants on your Peony buds; this is completely normal as they love the sweet fluids of the buds. Your Bleeding Heart, Poppies and Virginia Bluebells will disappear after blooming.  Don’t be concerned, they will be back next year.

Make sure to prune and shape spring-flowering bushes and trees immediately after the blooms have faded. Many set buds now for next year and late pruning will cut these buds off and reduce the number of flowers for next year.

May is the month that my yard looks its best. The grass is so healthy and green and is a perfect backdrop to my purple Phlox and red and white Tulips. Adding to the color (and worth) of our property and also blooming this month is my Redbud, Dogwood and Southern Magnolia trees. I love May in Ohio!

About the Author: Sheri Miller is the Owner of Another You, LLC, a Business Concierge/Personal Assistant service in the Dayton, Ohio area. Sheri helps small business owners save time and money by taking care of their day-to-day administrative tasks. Think of her as your right hand while your left hand is growing your business. http://www.anotheryouerrands.com 937-416-2207

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