My Fourth Year

sunflowers-1719119_640

August…of my favorite months.  Summer is winding down, the neighborhood quiets as school starts up, and the sounds and smells remind me that fall is just around the corner.  Normally HOT in August, Ohio has (so far) been a cooler month.  It is a beautiful 76 degrees with no humidity as I sit in the sun on our back deck writing this post.

Four years ago this month, I started my Virtual Assistant Business.  How blessed I am that I can both work and enjoy this wonderful day.  The start-up and day-to-day running my business has been difficult at times but it has afforded me a happy, low-stress life.  A life that I thank God for every day and one that I never take for granted.

My fourth year!  What have I learned?  Clients come and Clients go.  This uncertainly used to freak me out!  Over the past couple of years I have learned that God always provides.  As soon as I lose/term one client, the opportunity for another has always been close by.  My new clients come from referrals…mainly client referrals.  What better marketing for my business could I ask for?!!

This year I have watched as 2 of my clients businesses have grown expedientially.  Sadly, I lost a client earlier in the year as her business had grown so much that she needed a full time employee.  Another client just hired his 2nd team member earlier this week!  How exciting to be part of such growth!  I am so proud of the work that all my clients are doing.

I have learned that most small business owners have at least one thing in common,  They need help with organization; whether it be their email, calendar and scheduling, or short and long term goals.  Most need accountability, help with focus, and assistance staying on task.  These are my strengths!  I help them, by using my strengths, so they can focus on theirs.

I love being a part of my client’s industries.  Where else can I learn about IT, law, mental health, ultrasound, probate, and non-profits all in the same day?!!  My clients not only respect me as their assistant but treat me as their partner.  They value and ask for my thoughts and opinions when making many important decisions for their businesses.

So what will this next year bring?  I don’t know but I am not concerned.  I know that one of my passions is to help other small businesses owners start, grow, and maintain their passions.  I know that I will continue to be blessed with great clients, enough work, and being able to work from home (and sometimes my deck).  I know that life is good and this is where I am supposed to be.

Since flowers are the traditional gift for a 4th Anniversary,  I think I’ll run out and buy a couple of fresh cut bouquets for my dining room table and office (just as soon as I can pull myself away from this glorious work location).  Happy 4th Anniversary Another You!

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

 

Advertisements

Starting a Business: What Skills do You Have?

agility-1850711_640

So you finally made the decision to start your own businessNow what?  Do you know what type of business you will run?  What are you passionate about?  What would you like to do?  What would you be good at?  What skills do you have?  Answering these crucial questions will lead you to understand what your new business will look like.

Luckily, for me, I managed medical practices for a lifetime.  During those 32 years, I gained countless administrative and managerial skills.  When it came time for me to decide what type of business I would start, it helped me to compose a list of things I knew how do to and things that I was good at.  I then I re-examined my list and drew a line through the skills that I did not like to do, the ones that did not fulfill me; the ones that stressed me out.  If you are going to do your own thing, you might as well be happy doing it, right?  For example, the first thing that I crossed off my list was “Managing People”I knew for certain that I no longer wanted to manage employees.  I needed to choose a business that I could do on my own with no need for staff.  With each skill that you cross off you will get closer and closer to what your new business will look like.

There are so many things to think about during this process.  What services will you offer?  Who will you be offering these services to?  What industry will your clients come from?  Do you live in the correct geographical area to be able to find these clients?

Are you a hard worker?  Owning your own business means that you will have to toil until all the work is done.  There is no such thing as a time-clock, at least at first.  There will be no 9-5 office hours for quite some time…maybe never!

Can you work alone?  Do you need daily socialization that co-workers provide?  Initially, you will probably be the only one on the payroll.  Will you be able to handle the seclusion of working hours on end alone?

Do you have support of family and friends?  Going alone is not easy and you will have days where you feel frustrated and even scared.  Do you have people to share these feelings with?  People that will try to understand and support you?  When you are your own boss, you have to be everything to everyone.  You will need to learn to balance your new business with your spouse, children, family and friends.  Do you have financial support? You may very easily have to forgo a steady paycheck for some time.

Go ahead and move forward with lists, research and planning.  This is the time to create the framework of your business.  Take one day at a time.  Do not lose focus or sight of why you are doing this.  You have a lot to do so get yourself organized.  If organization is not a skill that you possess, hire someone that can help you stay organized and on top of all the tasks of starting a business (detailed in a future post).

Owning your own business is hard work, but rewarding.  You do not have an easy road ahead of you but you do have one that will be exciting, life altering and well worth it.

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

No Living Man All Things Can

runner-1544448_640

I had a recent conversation with a colleague about how many small business owners and entrepreneurs have a hard time with the delegation of tasks.  I get it.  When you have the type of personality that it takes to start your own business it is hard to give up control.  But sometimes it makes too much sense not to delegate.  For example, my colleague told me about a successful small business owner who had over $30,000 on the table in outstanding AR.  The problem was not disgruntled clients that did not want to pay; the issue was that this business owner simply did not have the time to make follow up calls.

Why People Don’t Delegate

  • Not Enough Time: The perception is that you do not have enough time to properly explain the task or teach the skills necessary for a delegated task.  The truth is that delegation always takes longer the first couple of times you hand off a task. But later it will save you hours, days, and weeks.
  • Loss of Control: Most small business owners are used to doing everything on their own.  They are uncomfortable giving up control.  It is frightening to allow another person-maybe even someone that you do not know-to complete a task for your business.  But isn’t one of the payoffs expected from all the hard work in running a successful, small business the freedom to no longer have to do the “daily grind” work, the “menial” work, the “frustrating calendaring and tedious phone call” work?
  • Not sure Who to Delegate To: Many entrepreneurs do not have the funds to hire a full time or even a part time person.  Many small business owners only need help 3-5 hours per week.  Where are you going to find a hardworking, reputable person who only wants to work a few hours a week?  Where do you find a hard worker that does not need benefits?

What to Delegate

I tell my clients to give me what they don’t like to do, what they dread, or what they are not good at.  Most of them start off with tasks such as:

  • Client Follow Up
  • E-Mail Management
  • Scheduling/Calendar Management
  • Invoicing/AR Follow Up
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Data Entry
  • Recruiting

Tips for Successful Delegation

  • A clearly defined task will produce clearly defined results. Open and routine communication is a must, especially at first.
  • Let go of dictating the how and focus on the what.   Describe what you want and let the assistant decide on the how.
  • Start with a small project or task.  This will help to develop communication and trust between you and your assistant.  After you see how the task was successfully completed, you will feel confident to delegate more.

Back to the small business owner with the 30K in AR.  Think of how a few hours a week in collection calls would change his business not to mention his peace of mind!  To me, it is a no brainer that this is a task that he needs to pass off to someone.  It pays to delegate!  I know that delegation can be difficult but it is a skill that you can improve through time, effort, and practice.  The next time you find it hard to let go of a task, remember the ancient proverb:  No living man all things can.

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

Reflections on the Past-Questions for the Future

shoes-770420_640

I officially opened my personal/virtual assistant business, Another You, LLC, 2 years ago in August.  It has been an exciting and eye-opening couple of years. Years that I am so blessed to have experienced.  Being a female entrepreneur has allowed me to bring money into our household and afforded me the time to take care of my family and take better care of myself.

My past career was in medical practice management. I answered to physicians and was responsible for staff (upward of 25). Tough gig! I love that I work for myself. I have only me to answer to.  I do not have to worry that others are not doing their best for my clients or my business.  I like that the success of my business was/is solely my responsibility.

Two years ago I started out with 0 clients and a lot of time.  Today I have a lot of clients and 0 time. Not that I am complaining as this is exactly what I wanted. I have clients that I work every day and others that hire me for projects only. I love the variety of my days. I love learning about my clients industries such as IT, law, travel, politics, non-profits, etc. I have had the pleasure to work with wonderful small business owners who treat me with the utmost respect.

I have learned so many new things and have reminded myself that I am smart and if I don’t know something, I can learn it easily. I have been given the chance with 2 of my clients to get back into my past with medical coding and billing.  I was even able to teach myself a new medical software program this summer!  Regretfully, I have also had to learn some hard lessons. Lessons such as, even though your client may be a local small business owner, you cannot always trust them to pay their bills.  I have also had to learn that not all people are true to their word or their written contract.

So where do I go from here? So far I have met my 1 year goals and my 2 year goals. Now I need to decide what is next.  What do the next 2-3 years look like?  I have cut down on networking because I am busy working on client accounts. I am receiving additional work due to client referrals.  I had 3 small business owners contact me this week regarding my services!  I only have so many hours in my day. When the days become too full do I stop taking on new clients? Do I hire someone? Not sure either of those options sound good to me.  But I know that when the time comes to make that decision, I will do what I have done these past 2 years and that is to make the one that works best for me, my family, and my business.  I love being a solopreneur!

Happy 2 year anniversary Another You, LLC!

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

Did I Spend Enough Time with my Son?

momclock

According to the Pew Research Center, 61% of mothers work outside the home. The same review tells us that 42% of people feel that mothers should not work outside the home.

As Mother’s Day approaches, I find myself thinking back to when my son was little. I went back to work when he was 17 months old and except for one year while he was in Jr. High School, I held down a full time job. Working moms have it tough! While I was raising Aaron, I pretty much took care of the house, laundry, grocery and shopping…all while working 40 hours a week. It is no wonder, I sometimes ask myself, “Did I make enough time for my son?”

I’m afraid that we mothers often feel guilty. We feel guilty about leaving our children, not spending enough time with them, not giving our spouse or partner the attention they desire, about so many things. I know that I did the best that I could do raising Aaron and there are only a few things that I would change if I had it to do all over again.   Prioritizing my time is definitely one of the things that I would change.

My home has always been a source of pride for me. Today, it looks lived in and is mostly clean. I was more particular when I was a young mother. I thought that the house had to be clean at all times for me to be a good wife and parent. I thought that I had to do it all! I now know better. I think of all the time that I spent cleaning and picking up when I could have been sitting on the floor playing with Aaron. Did the toys have to be put away multiple times a day? Was dusting the furniture really all that important? Time with my baby and toddler is lost; it is something that I cannot get back.

Don’t get me wrong, I think keeping your house in order is important. I also think that spending time with your children, partner, family and friends is important and should be a priority for us all; mothers or not. Also, when we make time for ourselves it helps us to be more balanced and makes all of our relationships better. Life is busy; many things shout for our attention and many demands are placed on our lives. There are things that you can do to make your life easier and more manageable, like hiring a cleaning lady or having someone do your weekly grocery shopping and run your errands. Enlist your husband and children to help you out. Accepting help can save you time so that you can focus on the important things in your life . . . family, friends, work and pleasure

There are things that have to do, but be reminded that there are other things that can wait or that someone else can do for you. Did I make enough time for Aaron; probably not, but he turned into a wonderful, caring young man who loves his “Mom” very much. Enjoy Mother’s Day, I know I will; I have learned to make the time for those I love.

About the Author:   headshotSheri Miller is the Owner of Another You, LLC, a Personal and Business Concierge service in the Dayton, Ohio area. Sheri helps busy people. She provides support for both the individual and the small business owner.        http://www.anotheryouerrands.com         937-416-2207