Starting a Business: The Decision

decisions

Webster describes a decision as “a conclusion or resolution reached after consideration.”

I was a Medical Office Manager for 32 years.  I managed the day-to day activities of the office, multiple physicians, 25 staff members, and a practice full of patients.  Hiring, billing, collections, insurance, etc., need I say more?  It was a difficult, stressful job but one where I gained a wide variety of skills.

In January 2013, I lost my job.  The year before, our private practice was purchased by a large, corporate hospital network.  Not long after the practice made it through the 8 month, tough transition, the Network let me go.

After 8 weeks of mourning the loss of my career, I had some hard decisions to make.  At that point, I really did not know what I wanted to do but I sure knew what I didn’t want to do.  I did not want to manage medical offices.  I did not want to work for people that I could not trust and did not respect me.  I did not want to work for a large hospital network.  What did I know?  I knew that I had the discipline to work for myself and had always wanted to give it a try.  I knew that I had countless beneficial administrative skills; if you can manage a medical office you can do about anything!  I knew that as a wife, mother, and practice manager, I had assisted people all of my adult life.  So what type of business would be right for me?

It was my knowledge that people in Hollywood and other large cities have Personal Assistants.  But did people in Dayton, Ohio have them?  I did some research and found that there were Personal Assistants in large cities that ran errands for busy people and organizations.  They performed tasks such as shopping, scheduling appointments, and taking cars in for maintenance and pets in for shots.  They waited in homes for repairmen, organized paperwork and home offices, and ran errands.  I could do these things!  As well as running medical practices, I had managed our household for 34 years.  Additional research found that there was one woman in Cincinnati and two in Columbus that were working as Personal Assistants.  I could find no one in the Dayton area…I was on my way!

Decisions.  “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”~ Theodore Roosevelt.  It is a huge decision to start your own business.  Can I do this?  What if I fail?  What if I succeed?   What would success look like for me?  What will others think?  Will I be supported by the people in my life that are important to me?  Will I be able to make enough money for my household?

So I put together a simple, makeshift business plan and sat down with my husband.  Next, I spoke to my parents, family members, and a few close friends.  Luckily, I was supported by most-even though a few looked at me like I was out of my mind.  The decision was made.  I knew what the business was going to look like now what would I call it?  Another decision.

I had a small dinner party with my closest family members. After dinner, I passed around a list with my top 5 choices for the name of my business and asked them to vote for their favorite.  That evening Another You was born!

People often say that they find it hard to make decisions.  Unfortunately, we all have to make them, ranging from what to wear to life-changing decisions like who to marry and if to start a business.  The decision, for me, was not easy and neither was that first year!  But here I am, 4 and a half years later, and Another You is alive and well!  It did take a different path than what I had planned (which I will discuss in a future post) but I am in business and happier than I have ever been.  I am so glad that I made that difficult decision.  This is what success looks like to me!

About the Author:  Sheri Miller is the Owner of Another You, LLC, a Virtual Assistant service in the Dayton, Ohio area.  Sheri helps small business owners save time, money and frustration 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

AU Logo_v2

 

 

 

Lawn and Flower Garden: July in Ohio

01-04-14-980_640

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 a jar of soapy water. Remove any bagworms, caterpillars, and other pests from your shrubs and trees.

Watch out for poison ivy and oak this month. Remember “Leaves of 3–Let it Be”. Paint the stems and lower foliage with Roundup which will kill the roots.

After your Clematis blooms in June you can cut back the stems 1/2 way in July to stimulate a possible repeat bloom later in the summer.  Mine never re-bloom but I have read where some do!l!

Since there is not a lot to do in your yard this month, enjoy our summer and take some time to visit the pool, have cookouts with family and friends, and take long naps under your favorite shade tree.

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. http://www.anotheryouerrands.com 937-416-2207

Ohio Flower Gardening in June

june1

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, Bleeding Heart 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 sure your lawn gets 1 inch of water per week. Move your mower blade to 2.5-3 inches so the grass will not brown out in the summer sun. Alternate your mowing pattern (vertical, horizontal, diagonal) each time you mow to minimize wear. So that beetle larvae will not feed on your lawn later in the summer, June is a good time to apply an environmentally friendly pesticide such as Merit or Mach ll.

If you fill your flower beds with perennials, you will save yourself time and money next season. Plant your perennials soon after purchase and be sure to read the plant markers. Pay attention to how much sun they need and any other care that may be necessary. If you did not divide your existing perennials last month you can do so early in June; just make sure they are well-watered for a couple of days after division. Mulching around your flowers will help with weeds and water retention. Established perennials need about 1 inch of water per week. Pinch back the stems of your Mums by 1/2 to encourage a more bushy plant with lots of blooms in the fall. Do this on a regular basis until mid-July so that your Mums do not bloom too early and you will have beautiful, fall color in October. To control other late summer or fall blooming plants such as Aster, Beebalm and Goldenrod, cut back the new stems about half way once they grow to 10-12 inches tall.

To prolong the life of cut Roses cut them in the early morning or at dusk. Cut only the flowers that are in the late bud stage. Use sharp pruners (and gloves!) and cut at a 45 degree angle. Immediately immerse the stems in fresh, tepid water and set them in a cool place for a few hours. Re-cut the ends and arrange them in a vase with water and preservative (I hear vodka works well).

Happy June Gardening!

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

AU Logo_v2

4 Tips to Help You Manage Your E-Mail

email stats

According to The Radicati Group, business e-mail will account for over 132 billion per day by the end of 2017  The online Tech News, Source Digit,  reports that the average small business receives/sends 116 e-mails per day and it is estimated to rise to 132 per day in 2017.  No matter what tasks I begin helping my clients with, the majority end up having me manage their e-mail. E-mail remains the predominant form of communication in business today and can be a big time-sucker for a busy small business owner.  A full inbox is a problem that can quickly grow worse if you receive a high volume of new messages every day.  Before long, you may find that your inbox has hundreds of messages and you are unable to remember which ones are most urgent.  So what can we do to manage your e-mail?

  1. Enable spam protection in your e-mail settings to reduce the volume of unwanted messages.
  2. Mark the most important messages. Whether you use a star, a flag, a highlighting color, or an icon. You can both manually mark an important message and set others up to be automatically marked in your settings. For example, I set each of my clients up as a Preferred Sender with their own individual symbol. When they send me an e-mail it is automatically marked with their own symbol and stands out among all the other e-mails that I receive. This way my eye is directly drawn to their e-mails first.
  3. Set up a Folder System. This can be as simple as setting up a few folders such as Urgent, Respond, and Waiting or Priority, Non-Priority and Read Later. Depending on your business, you may need to be more elaborate making a folder for each of your Clients, Vendors, Employees, Networking Groups, and Member/Volunteer Associations. Other popular folders among my clients are Leads/Follow-Up, Personal, Industry News, Taxes, Unsubscribe, Finance (invoices due/payments received) and, of course, a Sheri Folder. Create an Archive folder for very old messages that you are unlikely to read again. This allows you to find the messages if needed, while preventing them from making more recent messages difficult to find.
  4. Make E-Mail Templates of “canned” responses when you send the same text over and over again.  Maybe you answer the same question all of the time or you send out the same e-mail multiple times. You could type these responses up each and every time you want to send them out, but you can also write them up once, save them, and use them whenever you need them.

If you are a busy small business owner you do not have the extra 11.2 hours per week that most of us spend reading and answering our e-mails. Try the 4 tips above to save you both time and frustration and remember to only check your e-mails at your predetermined scheduled times during the day.

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

AU Logo_v2

What Are You Willing to Give Up?

ZVJ6OumLI run my work days by a schedule. Everything that I need to do is on my Google Calendar.  In my line of work, working with multiple small business owners, this is a must.

I am happy to say that MOST things that I have scheduled are completed each day and deleted from my calendar.  There are some days, where I cannot get to everything on my list.   I start with my highest priority:  1) client work 2) volunteer obligations 3) my business.  Some days lessor priorities do not get done and they are moved to the next available day.  This brings me to this Blog Post.

“Write and Publish Blog Post” was originally scheduled on my calendar for 4/15. Well today is 04/27 and I am just now getting around to starting it. Obviously, it has been moved multiple times on my calendar.  Priorities got in the way.

 How do we get everything done that needs to be done?

What can we put off or even give up?

What can we delegate?

Every small business owner that I know has this same problem; too many tasks and not enough time. As I grow my business and gain more clients I have found it necessary to give up some of the scheduled things on my calendar:

1) I network more strategically.  Networking has been a HUGE part of building my business. In fact, it worked so well that many days I can’t find the time to network!  I still want to stay in front of the contacts that I have made and still like to meet new people. But it has become necessary to me to cut back on meetings and decide which groups are really worth my investment of time.

2) I have also tried to schedule more telephone meetings than actually meeting at an office or neutral location. The drive time alone is a huge time saver and I find that people are more focused during telephone conversations; maybe because they are just as busy as I am!  Of course, I do meet with all my prospects and referral partners face to face if they wish.

3) I believe that Social Media is important-more for some industries/companies than others. I have cut back on the amount of posts that I schedule per week. To date, my clients have come from strategic networking and word of mouth.  I want to stay in front of my contacts and remind people what I can do for them so I continue to have a presence on a few social media venues (only the ones that reach my target market).  Cutting back on the times that I post per week has allowed me more time for my clients.

Try stepping back and looking at your calendar to see what things you may be able to remove to make more time. For me, I actually recorded, how I was using my time. This made it very clear to me what needed to go or be reduced.   For my clients, it was a matter of hiring someone to help with all the things that were on their calendar.  I would love to hear about some of the changes that you have made to allow yourself more time to run your business.  What have you given up?

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

AU Logo_v2

1

March Gardening in Ohio

spring 

This is the month to start thinking seriously about beginning outdoor work in the yard and flower gardens.  Get outside and rejoice that the color has returned to our landscapes!

 Pansies, Johnny-Jump-Ups and Violas can handle the March chill so plant them in containers or window boxes.  Tulips and Daffodils will begin their show this month.  As you enjoy their blooms, think about planting more bulbs in the fall.  Make sure to take pictures of your flower beds now so you will know where to plant later in the year. 

 The best thing you can do for your lawn in March is to service your mower and get the blade sharpened. 

  1. Remove and throw away the spark-plug,
  2. Uncover the engine and clean off any gunk and grass clippings from all parts,
  3. If you did not empty the gas tank before winter, empty it now.  Leave it empty to tip it over to get to the blade.
  4. Remove blade to get it sharpened or install a new one,
  5. Replace the fuel filter and clean or replace the air filter,
  6. Drain the oil and refill it with fresh,
  7. Fill the gas tank with fresh gasoline (and oil if it is a 2-cycle engine), and
  8. Install a new spark-plug.                                                                                                                                                                                                      

You can plant Roses this month wherever the soil has thawed and it is not to wet to be worked.  Remember to “Prune when the Daffodils Bloom”.  Cut out all the dead and diseased canes.  Cut canes that show winter-kill back to live wood; cut as low as you need to.

 March is the month that you cut back all your ornamental grasses.  The easiest way to do this is to tie the grass tightly about a foot from the ground and cut it straight across with hedge shearers.  If you notice a hole in the middle of your grasses, this signals they that need to be divided; do this after cutting them back.

 It is time to get serious about new shrubs for the yard.  You can plant after the soil thaws.  This is also a good time for cosmetic pruning of spring-flowering shrubs but be sure to only remove dead or injured twigs.  If you have older shrubs that need to be rejuvenated do so this month.  Cut back the oldest, thickest, woodiest stems to 4-6 inches above the soil level.  Cut out about 1/3 of the total branches.  Cut back another 1/3 next year and the remaining 1/3 the year after. 

 “In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt”. ~Margaret Atwood

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. http://www.anotheryouerrands.com 937-416-2207

Stop and Look Fear in the Face

step outI remember walking into that first Women in Business Networking meeting in June 2013. I had no idea what to expect, my palms were sweaty, I was sick to my stomach and I thought, many times, about turning around and going  home.  After 32 years in the healthcare industry, I had lost my job 5 months earlier.  Following a few months on the couch, I decided to re-invent myself and open my own business as a Personal Assistant.  Living in the medical world, I had no idea that there were Networking Groups out there. A friend of mine told me that if I were going to start my own business, I needed to get my name out there; I needed to network.  Thanks Beth!

So there I was, by myself, walking into this group of ladies that I had never met.  No idea what was about to happen, how the meeting was structured, or what role I would have to play in it.  I was welcomed by the facilitator of the meeting and soon learned that I had to stand up, introduce myself and talk about my business!  What was I going to say? What was my business?  I had an idea, a business name and some homemade business cards but I was still SO unsure of SO many things!  I wasn’t even officially open yet.  Panic set in.  What was I going to say?  Thanks a lot, Beth!

Fast forward a year and a half later. I have been to more networking events than I can count and my business has grown because of it.  Thank you so very much, Beth Reedy.  In fact, I was offered and proudly accepted the Leadership Position of that same Women in Business Networking meeting that I so anxiously attended in June 2013.  Change happens when you step out of your comfort zone.

Whether you run your own business or happily work for others, it is important for your growth and confidence to step out and do things that do not come easily to you. “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’  You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

If you are a a solopreneur, small business owner, or work for one, I would love to hear how you have looked fear in the face and what you have done lately that was out of your comfort zone.

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