My Fourth Year

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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

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Starting a Business: What Skills do You Have?

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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

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What does your Priority List look like?

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While I was out digging up a few dandelions that had sneaked into my new spring  lawn, I noticed my neighbor’s grass.  From the road his lawn appears to be full and green but when you take a closer look you see that instead of grass, his lawn is mainly weeds. My neighbor has a wonderful home that is beautifully decorated and he is constantly working on it to keep it looking very nice.  His home is definitely on his priority list.

A priority is a thing that is regarded more important than another thing. Each of us has different items on our priority lists. What decides our priorities? How do our lists change with our life transitions? What does the list of a small business owner look like?

Good business planning must involve the setting of priorities. Priorities might include money (cash flow and expenses), customer service, networking and making sure your service or product is the best that you can provide. I wonder how many business owners have TIME on their priority list. Do we schedule FAMILY and FRIENDS on our list? Is ME time a priority?

Work–life balance is a concept including proper prioritizing between “work” (career and ambition) and “lifestyle” (health, pleasure, leisure, family and spiritual development. It is so important to both the health of your body and mind and the health of your relationships to have a balance between work and life. Where does work-life balance fit on your priority list?

As a small business owner when was the last time you studied your priority list?  Is your list conducive to a work-life balance?   Do you need to delegate tasks to someone else to free up time? What if you took most of your workday to do the tasks that excite you and that you are great at and then simply delegate the other stuff to someone else?  Outsourcing just 4 hours out of a 40-hour work week gains you a 10% increase in time that you could be spending on yourself, your family and your friends.

Steven Covey suggests that, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule but to schedule your priorities.”  My neighbor, Donnie, is a hard worker and a great neighbor; but one who has not scheduled his lawn on his priority list!

If you are a small business owner that has few hours a week of tasks that you would like to delegate, I would be happy to discuss how I could help you.

headshot  About the Author:  Sheri 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

 

Did I Spend Enough Time with my Son?

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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