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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When Should You Fire a Client?

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The customer is always right. Or are they?   Have you ever had “that” customer?  The one whose name popping up in your inbox (or on your phone) just makes you cringe?

Define your best customers — those who are most satisfied, most profitable and are enjoyable to work with — so you can nurture and attract more just like them. At the same time, define which customers cost your business time and make you frustrated.

Breaking up may be hard to do, but when a client is costing you money or making you crazy, it can be a smart move.  As a small business owner, it is important to know when it makes sense to fire a client.

 Some clients think we’re their bank:  They ignore our payment terms and send in late payments. As every entrepreneur knows, cash flow is the lifeblood of any business, so when a client starts abusing the financial aspect of the relationship, it is time to let them go.

 There is the Chronic Complainer:  This is the client who never has anything good to say about you or your business. To them, you’re possibly too expensive or the service you provide is never good enough. This is the person who is often very demanding and cannot be satisfied.

 Then there is the Time EaterThese clients make you feel like they want you to be at their beck and call 24-7.   This client may frequently cancel or reschedule meetings.

      Ask Yourself:  Has this customer always been challenging?  Chronically unhappy people    rarely become satisfied people.  It may be pointless exhausting yourself to please others.    Does this customer mistreat your employees?  If a customer is verbally abusive or harassing one of your employees, let them go!

The process of firing mismatched customers is not pleasant for either side and is to be avoided at all costs. If it has to happen, use tact, courtesy, and professionalism to keep your business name in good public standing.  Discharging customers the wrong way can  lead to bad news for your business. Customers talk, and word of mouth about bad experiences travels fast and far.

Be positive:  Positive language in customer service can make your customers come away feeling more positive about the interaction, even if you’re delivering bad news.

Re-State the Situation:  Never use statements that can be taken as personal attacks like “you’ve been asking for too much.”  Instead, re-state the conversation to something that sounds more like this, “It seems like we haven’t been able to do our job to keep you as a happy customer.”

Apologize:  When we receive an apology, we no longer perceive the situation as a personal threat.  Tell your client that you are sorry that your services are no longer meeting their needs.  You may want to suggest another company…but beware-they may end up being a bad client there also!

As small business owners, our biggest priority is to making our customers happy, successful and loyal. If you can do that, you’ll grow your business. This means you may have to get rid of the bad customers who sap your time and energy from being able to make the good ones happy.

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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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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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

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

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