No Living Man All Things Can

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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

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Small Business Savings on Office Supplies

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Now that you have reviewed your expenses (End of Year Checklist for Small Business) and understand how your money is being spent, what are you going to do with that information? For many small business owners office supplies seem like a minor expense. But every year, businesses in the United States spend billions of dollars on office products. If you do not manage and control your office supply expenses, these purchases can add up very quickly.

• Buy Generic:  Name brand supplies have name-recognition but most of the time they are not always cost-effective. Many generic supplies are just as good and can be purchased for less. Generic or “house brands” are also more likely to go on sale.

• Dollar Stores: Dollar stores buy up products that have been discontinued, have packaging problems, or did not sell somewhere else. The stores purchase products for great prices and these savings are passed along to you. Making a special trip to a dollar store may not make sense but if you pass by one when you are out, you might as well stop in and check for discontinued name-brand supplies.

• Office Superstores: Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy and other superstores frequently offer the lowest prices on supplies. Most major national retailers offer a discount by signing up for their free rewards programs. For example:
Staples Rewards: Members receive up to 5% back on everything except postage and gift cards. They have a price match guarantee, $2.00 back per recycled ink cartridge, and they offer members free shipping.
Office Depot/Office Max Rewards: Members receive 10% back on paper, ink, toner, copy, print, and shipping. They offer rewards for recycling ink cartridges with a purchase, member’s only coupons, and birthday bonus rewards.

• Negotiate with your Supplier: If you have a favorite supplier for office supplies, you may be in a position to negotiate pricing. It never hurts to ask!

• Shop Online:  Check out discontinued and online specials before heading to the store. Online stores typically offer better discounts than in their walk-in stores. In most cases, shipping is quick and efficient, which means you can schedule automatic delivery of things you need on a regular basis. When you order online, Staples and Office Depot usually ship from your local store and you can get in-stock items delivered, free of charge, in 1-2 business days.

• Bulk Ordering: Look for items that you can purchase in bulk but remember just because something comes in a larger package does not mean it is cheaper.   You may actually find it is cheaper to buy 10 small packs of 10 pens than it is to buy 1 pack of 100.

• Buy Ink Off-Brand: Perhaps one of the most common ways to save money is buying off-brand ink cartridges. A few suggestions before you buy:
1.  Know your warranty:   If you have a new printer, you may want to consider letting your warranty expire before you try off-brand ink. Not using the manufacturer’s ink cartridges can void your warranty.
2. Know your cartridge: Get a good look at your brand name cartridge and know the numbers printed on it. Be sure to purchase the correct cartridge.
3.  Know your price:  Depending on your printer’s make and model the off-brand ink may be just as expensive as the brand name.

Do you know how much you spent on office supplies in 2016?   What can you do to save on office supplies?

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

 

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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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Something Made of Leather

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I started my Virtual Assistant business 3 years ago last month.  What a life changing event!  Owning a small business has its ups and downs-but in my case the ups have definitely outweighed the downs.  Personally, 2016 has been rough on my family.  Having the flexibility of running my own business has afforded me the much needed time to spend by myself and with family and friends.  Today, life is good!

 In my 3rd year of business I have learned that if you are hard-working, honest and do your best… referrals will come.  I have had the good fortune to work on 3 new projects this year that came from client referrals.  I am currently speaking with 2 new prospects that were referred to me by another local entrepreneur.

 Unfortunately, I realized that it is still difficult to terminate a relationship with a client even though they continually pay their invoices late.  I do have to say that the majority of the people that I have had the pleasure to work with are good, dedicated, hard-working clients.  I am thankful for all of them.

 I was reminded of how blessed that I am to have good health as I watched a client go through a long and trying medical issue this year.  I admired her strength and positivity as she continued to work part-time during this difficult period.  I am happy to report that she is recovering and back to work full time.

 So what will this next year bring?  I don’t know.  I am still looking to build my client list.  It is my passion to partner with other small business owners to help then grow and sustain their businesses.  I can help them save time, money and frustration by taking on their administrative tasks.  If you would like to discuss how virtual assistance can help you please let me know.

 But for this weekend, I think I will go out and buy myself something made of leather for my 3rd Anniversary!

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

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4 Tips 4 Remembering Names

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Remembering names is one of the simplest yet most important factors of interacting with people.   A person’s name is the single most important word to them. As Dale Carnegie said, “If you remember my name, you pay me a subtle compliment; you indicate that I have made an impression on you. Remember my name and you add to my feeling of importance.”  Use these 4 tips to remember names.

  1.  Pay Attention: Be sure to pay attention as you are introduced.  You’d be amazed at how little attention we pay to the person we are meeting. Clear your mind and focus on them not on you or what you’re going to say next.
  2.  Repeat: As soon as you’re introduced, say, “It’s lovely to meet you, Jane.   Repeat the name silently to yourself a few times.  Repeat the name throughout the exchange. Try to also use their name during conversation and when the conversation is at an end.
  3.  Mental associations: Make a visual connection with a person’s name to something memorable in your world.   Try to connect the name with a familiar image or famous person.  Associate the person’s name with a picture that is easy to recall.
  4.  Did I mention Repeat? Use their name frequently:  People typically like the sound of their names so this tips bears double mention.  Try to use their name at least three times during your conversation:  when introduced, during the conversation and conclude with their name.

After meeting the person,  jot down notes with their name, where you met, how you met and the specifics of your conversation in a “new contacts” file (paper or electronic).  Take a look at your notes prior to the next time you anticipate seeing that person.

Although it makes us uncomfortable, we all forget names.  If you absolutely can’t remember a name, try to offer any information you can remember, such as where the two of you may have met. Alternatively, if you shake hands and introduce yourself, your contact will most likely follow suit.

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About the AuthorSheri 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

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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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 last forever, and you want to be ready to land some big customers as soon as people are back at their desks. The summer months are a great time to do some strategic planning. Clarify and narrow your target market and figure out the best ways to reach prospects. Come up with a marketing budget and marketing vehicles so you’re ready to go.

 Redo your own marketing materials. While you’re focused on marketing, summer is a great time to freshen up and modernize your own marketing materials. When was the last time you took a hard look at your business cards? Brochures? Do you still have a fax number but not your social media handles printed on your material?

 Update your operations.A slow summer is the perfect time to work on internal operations. Switch any soon-to-be-upgraded on premise software programs to cloud-based applications.

Tackle a project. We all have a wish list of projects we’d like to take care of someday. It may be creating a new prototype of a product. It might be clearing out old inventory, cleaning out a storage room, or getting some much needed training. Do the spring cleaning you didn’t have time to do in spring.

 Get a mobile website. This is your most important summer task. When you realize that two-thirds of all Americans access the Web from their smartphone — and about 40% use their phone as their preferred or only method of getting on the Web — your site must look good and work well when people view it on a mobile device. If customers can’t easily read your content and navigate your site on their phone, they may go somewhere else.

A HUGE Thank You to Emma Farmer of Cybertary.com for this blog post. 

4 Tips to Help You Manage Your E-Mail

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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

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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

The Right Time…For Who?

Timing really is everything.  You cannot sell something to people when they don’t want it; rather your product or service must fulfill an unconscious longing within them.  Not everyone is looking for or needs your services.   Something has to make them want your product.

Like timingmany things in life, obtaining a new business client can be a matter of timing.  When they finally figure out that they need your service and have time to process that they need your service, the timing will be right…for the both of you.

Unfortunately, our timing is not always the same as our client’s timing.  I met a lady at a networking event the fall of one year and she did not contact me until the following summer.  She had been to a seminar where the speaker discussed how much help it was to her business to hire a Personal Assistant.  My future client emailed me right then and there during the seminar.  The time was finally right… for her.

Last January, I made an appointment with the leasing manager of a local prominent apartment complex.  It was bitterly cold and icy on the day of the appointment and I slipped all the way from the parking lot to the leasing office.   I remember wondering if it was worth my time and trouble.  The leasing manager agreed to place my business cards in the lobby and to include them in the New Tenant Packages.  Nine months later, I received a call from one of the tenants.  He has a small Property Management company and  is overwhelmed with trying to run the company and hold down his full-time job.  After a short telephone call, we scheduled a time to meet to discuss how I could help him.   He told me that he saw my card months ago and hung onto it.  The timing was finally right…for him.

We work hard to build our business.  We market, network, build relationships; we spend a lot of time working on  our business and building our brand.  As small business owners, especially newer small business owners, it’s easy to become disheartened if it seems that our hard work is not paying off.   When this happens to you, remember that your timing is not always the same as your client’s timing.  Continue to work hard and they will come to you…when the time is right for them.

headshot2About the Author: Sheri Miller is the Owner of Another You, LLC, a Business Concierge 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