Small Business Owners are Wise to make a few New Year’s Resolutions.

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It’s that time of year again; a time to look forward to the New Year and reflect on the changes we want or need to make in order for our business to grow. With that said, try to remember to strike that delicate balance between work and life.  For many small business owners, the two are so deeply intertwined that it’s hard to separate.

1. Plan your day. Every morning make a “To Do List” and keep it in front of you. Make sure it is reasonable and achievable. Many people are their most productive in the morning so add your toughest item(s) and the ones that you dread most to the top of your list. After you get these items completed your day will seem easier and you just might find yourself whipping through the rest of your tasks.

2. Put time for you on the calendar. While you are planning your day be sure to schedule some “You Time”. It is so important to take the time to recharge and refresh yourself; a healthy work-life balance demands time out. Get used to scheduling time regularly to “meet with yourself” and stick to that commitment. If you don’t invest in yourself, who will?

3. Make customer service a priority.  It’s a fact that customer service can make or break your relationship with current and future customers. Looking ahead to 2017, customer service should be a priority for every small business. A key resolution would be to look at ways that you can get closer, strengthen your relationship, and stay on your customer’s minds. Remember that keeping a customer takes less of our time than finding a new one.

4. Promote your business regularly and consistently.   Too often the task of promoting our small business slips to the bottom of our “To Do List”.  If you want to attract new customers, you have to make promotion a priority. Make a New Year’s resolution to hire a marketing expert or take the time to create a marketing plan on your own and follow through.

5. Grow your business through partners.   When you’re feeling stuck with your business and you don’t know which way to turn, look to partners. With each year, I believe more and more that partner relationships are a huge key in running a successful business. No matter how small in scale the partnership is, it can reap huge benefits for your (and their) business.   I find that meeting with my partners is enjoyable, helps clear my head, and can easily be part of my “You Time”.

6. Join a new business organization or networking group.   There’s nothing like talking to other business people for sparking new ideas and making contacts. Whether it’s a group specifically designed for networking or an industry organization dedicated to a particular type of business,  making the effort to be a part of a group will revitalize you and your business. Give yourself a break and take some time “out of the office” to meet with like-minded individuals to network.

7. Learn how to delegate and get more help. Your business may not be growing sufficiently because you are trying to do too much yourself. Examine your operation for routine tasks that take too much of your time or for the ones that you dread.  Decide to let someone else handle these tasks. Delegation is key to a healthy work-life balance.

8. Give something back to your community.  Make a New Year’s Resolution to find a cause that matters to you and give what you can; money, time, or both.  Not only does it feel good on a personal level, but doing good is just a smart business practice. Those that give get.

Building and maintaining a successful  business can be time consuming and difficult. Use these resolutions to help your small business grow and just as important remember to make time for yourself, family, and friends.

Happy New Year and may Your Business Prosper in 2017!

About the Author: Sheri Miller is the Owner of Another You, LLC, a Virtual/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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End of Year Checklist for Small Business

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Here are some things every small business should look at as the year-end approaches. With so many things on your plate, it’s a good idea to create a checklist for your end-of-year activities.

1. Get your books in order. Whether you are a solopreneur with a box full of receipts that haven’t yet been entered or a small business owner who has a bookkeeper on your payroll, you have to get this step done before you can do anything else.

2. Review all your systems from top to bottom. A system review can be an eye-opening experience for business owners. Carefully examine what is working and what isn’t. Don’t assume that just because you have had a certain system in place from day one that it is adding value to your business or your customers.

3. Review your expenses and vendor contracts. Run an expense report and see where you are spending your money. Is it money well spent? Are you getting a good ROI from all of your memberships? Are you really reading all those magazines that come each month? Take a look at how much business you are doing with each vendor. Are you getting optimum pricing based on how much you are working together?

4. Touch base with your best customers. Be sure to tell them you appreciate their business and ask if there is anything you can improve on or do differently to help them grow their business. Send them a Christmas card or gift or plan to send them a card at the beginning of the New Year.

5. Take a good look at your website and social media platforms. You need to make changes to your website to keep people coming back and take advantage of SEO. Is the content on your website and business social media profiles up to date? Dedicate some time for touching up, revamping or overhauling your digital presence.

6. Revisit your pricing. Once you understand your business’ financial picture, it’s time to get honest about how things are going. Many freelancers and small business owners make the mistake of under-charging their clients: is your pricing adequately compensating you for your time, experience, and costs (which include taxes, retirement plans, health insurance, and more)?  The start of the New Year is a natural time to bump up your rates.

7. Goals. Pull out your business plan and any other planning documents and review this past year’s goals. Did your business accomplish what you set out to do? Why or why not? Set Goals for next year. Be specific, give them a timeline, and make sure they are measurable and written down.

8. Revisit Your Business Plan. If it has been a while since you examined this critical document, now’s the time to get to it. Review it to ensure it’s still aligned with your company goals. Change what needs changing. And if you never had one, this is the time to make one.

9. Meet with your accountant. The end of the year is the perfect time to meet with your accountant to plan your taxes. Discuss with them what you should do with excess cash and take a look at anything you can write off.

10. Get Organized. If you’re like a lot of business owners, your desk is cluttered, and so is your desktop. Spend a few hours throwing away and shredding things you don’t need and organizing your computer files. I guarantee you’ll feel more together come January.

headshot2About the Author: Sheri Miller is the Owner of Another You, LLC, a Personal/Virtual Assistant service based out of 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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Focus on Your Strengths and Delegate Your Weaknesses.

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HOW TO USE A PERSONAL/VIRTUAL ASSISTANT

Imagine having your own personal assistant without the requirements of hiring full time staff, worrying about payroll, or scheduling.  This dream can be your reality!  There are numerous ways that a personal assistant can help organize your busy life.

 Administrative Duties:  Let’s face it, these are necessary but take time away from your passion.  Schedule meetings and appointments, return customer calls, process mailings and newsletters, data entry, e-mail and vendor management…

 Bookkeeping:  Keep the IRS off your back with routine bookkeeping, receipt management, accounts payable, account receivables…

 Courier:  Need a signature?  Pick-up and Delivery of documents, packages, office supplies, gifts, flowers…

 Compliance:  It’s hard to keep up with all the changes.  HIPAA training, compliance plans, regulations…

 Organization:  The average person spends 55 minutes each day looking for things they cannot find.  Office workspace, desk top, paperwork, systems, business cards, mobile desk…

 Research:  Necessary but takes a lot of time.  Internet research for content, blogs, competition research, large ticket purchases, vendor pricing and services…

 Travel:  For that business trip, long weekend or vacation that you have worked so hard for!    Itineraries, airfare, hotel, rental car, destination information…

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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Reflections on the Past-Questions for the Future

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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!

Who Are You and What Do You Need?

Who Are You?  The question is much more than a song from the late 70’s by the Rock and Roll band The Whoquestion-622164_1280

You are a solopreneur or a small business owner. You work out of your home or a small office. You have been in business 1-5 years and, thanks to all of your hard work, your business is really starting to take off.  You work by yourself or have a small staff.

During a normal day, you are out of the office providing services, networking, and building your business. You get back to your office and you still have bills to pay, customers to call, and invoices to crank out. You check your e-mail where you have 30 new ones plus those 100 that have been sitting in your Inbox for weeks…let’s be honest…months. You see on your calendar that you were supposed to post on your social media sites this week and you have no idea what to post or how to get images that are both engaging and legal to use. Everything you read from “expert marketers” say you have to blog…not only do you have to blog but you have to blog consistently. Who has time to think about and research content? You look at the clock, its 6:00 already and you still have hours of work. You move forward and spend the next hour or two completing a few things on your “To Do List”. You are tired and would really like to see your family and friends. You log off of your computer and as you are reaching for the light you see that box of receipts that you have not entered into your accounting system. Maybe tomorrow.

Does this sound like you? This is a normal day in the life of most small business owners that I meet. They just don’t have time to do everything that needs to be done! They love the focus of their business but really do not care for some of the necessities of running it. They need help but don’t want to hire staff nor have the room for them.

What do you need?

You need someone who has the skills and the time to take on administrative tasks, customer service, social media marketing, e-mail management, and more. You need someone who won’t take up office space or require furniture and equipment. You need someone who you only have to pay for the hours that they actually work. You need a trusted and reliable professional that can handle your needs in a confidential, efficient, and timely manner so you can focus on building your business. You need a Personal Assistant. You need me.

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