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4 Quick Tips to a Company Ready Home Office by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

 by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

 

If your home business requires occasional client visits, the state of your home office can make or break a business deal.  When my husband and I were looking for someone to photograph our wedding we visited a few photographers working out of their homes.  One invited us into a poorly lit kitchen to review his portfolio, while the contract-winning operation invited us into a home office that displayed quality and professionalism from the start.  I’m not saying that the state of your home office alone will win your clients over, but every interaction leaves a lasting impression.  Here are four tips to make sure the impression you leave is a good one:Allium flower head (macro)

 

1.  Clear the clutter.

 

Put away anything that doesn’t need to be out.  A disorganized home office will leave your clients wondering if you will drop the ball when it comes to their projects.  This is especially important when you are working with multiple clients on proprietary information.  Your customers need to know that they can trust you to be discreet.

 

2.  It’s all business.

 

Your office may be located in your home, but it should reflect a business environment.  Though you may enjoy hanging your children’s artwork and other personal effects in your workspace, when clients come around it is time to tuck these items away. 

 

3.  Critical cleaning.

 

Don’t waste time cleaning everything from top to bottom.  Focus from the waist up, on the areas that capture the eyes.  A quick dust over surfaces should suffice.  Do make sure that your guest bath is clean.  Wipe the mirror and sink, and run a brush around the toilet bowl.  Finish off by emptying the trash cans.  We all feel more comfortable in a clean environment.

 

4.  Liven it up.

 

A few strategically placed plants or a vase of fresh flowers can do wonders to brighten a room.  If you are fortunate enough to have a blooming flower garden, cut a few blooms and bring them inside.  Adding natural color to your office space will make it calm and inviting, something you can enjoy even after the close of the business day.

 

www.sandrabeck.com

www.motherhoodincorporated.com

 

Let Your PDA Work For You by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

  by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

 

This morning I was babysitting a friend’s son.  With three toddlers in the house, you might assume that any chance of productivity was out the window.  I did, until I switched on my PDA to assess my options for nap time.  As I perused my To Do list, I noticed a phone call I needed to make and decided to give it a try.  With the kids happily playing at my feet, I cranked the volume up on my cell and went for it.  Mission complete, check. 

 

Counting my blessings, I wondered if I could pull it off again.  I returned to the To Do list, this time sorting by the phone call category.  Two more phone calls to make.  Dare I push my luck?  I went for the glory and it paid off big, check, check.  My PDA helps me make quick decisions on how I can most productively use my time. Here are a few tips on making your PDA work for you:Buntstifte

 

To Do List

 

Store your To Do list on your PDA, link up any important contact info you may need so everything is at your fingertips when you are ready for it.  Categorize similar action items, so you can easily complete multiple tasks while you have the resources readily available.

 

Date Book

 

Use the date book to schedule appointments and set aside time for routine tasks.  View your date book with the To Do list, and you can quickly plan your day.  No more erasing or scratching out required, reschedule items by dragging and dropping them into a new time slot.

 

Contact Info

 

Keep all your contacts at your fingertips by storing them in your PDA.  Quickly find any address or phone number when you need it.

 

Synchronization

 

Your PDA’s synchronization capability is easily one of its best features.  Back your PDA up onto your computer, and you can rest assured that you won’t lose vital information.

 

Email

 

Many PDAs come equipped with emailing capabilities.  Load email onto your PDA, and you can read and respond to messages while you are out and about.

 

Expense Tracking

 

Keep track of your expenses and budget while you are out.  Easy access to your financial planning info will help you make informed decisions about how much to spend, and prevent you from forgetting to write it down later.

 

Notes

 

Save paper by taking notes in your PDA.  You can store the notes on your computer later, and keep your purse or brief case from becoming cluttered and heavy.

 

Software

 

There is a plethora of software available for PDAs.  Pocketgear.com has a nice selection of business and fun applications, many of which are free to download.

 

www.sandrabeck.com

www.motherhoodincorporated.com

 

Help, Please! An Interview with Networking Guru Lucy Rosen by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

  by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

 I caught up with Lucy Rosen, president and founding member of Women on the Fast Track, an international networking organization for business women.  Here’s what Lucy had to say:

 

What are the benefits to networking? How many words do I get? New relationships. Opportunities for new opportunities. Opportunities to connect others. Opportunities for jobs / information / resources, but I think the biggest one is the opportunity to help others.Gardening tools

 

What networking advice has benefited your career?  Everyone has value. It may not be a good fit for you, but that doesn’t mean to write them off.  It means file them away to refer them to someone else!

 

Where can a woman find networking opportunities?  Local clubs, organizations, associations, online, at schools, alumni groups, other mothers, other women, newspapers, radio, and magazines. Virtually every daily paper has a business section and usually it appears on Mondays. In that section would be a list of all the networking “things” happening in and around your community.

 

What advice do you have for women who want to network, but feel shy or uncomfortable?  Most of the time we feel shy or uncomfortable because we think we don’t have anything to give. We are the “givers” not the receivers- so it’s much more comfortable for us to give than to receive. If there is a feeling of not having much of worth to give – start making a list of all the different people you know – from your neighbor, to the woman on the PTA you met, to the different jobs you have had and who you know from there. I reconnected with someone from high school that I hadn’t seen in 30 (gulp) years… She was looking for a job in accounting, and I happened to know an accounting firm that was looking to hire – so there you go! It worked.
How can a business woman start a networking group in her area?  They can call me and I will help them start Women on the Fast Track chapter!

You can find out more about Lucy Rosen and Women on the Fast Track by visiting her website at www.womenonthefasttrack.com.

 

www.sandrabeck.com

www.motherhoodincorporated.com

 

Make the Switch: How to Change Careers by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

 

 I made the switch to a work-at-home career, and so can you.  Here are a few easy steps to get you started on the path to a new career:Yellow field

 

Assess Your Skills

 

If your primary focus is the ability to work out of your home, you’ll need to know which of the skills you have will be most helpful when you make the switch.  There are many skills that are useful across a variety of industries, including many work-at-home careers.  Consider not only what you are good at, but also what you enjoy.  Here are a few skills common to many work-at-home positions:

 

l       Computer Skills

l       Customer Service Skills

l       Project Management Skills

l       Communication Skills

l       Research Skills

l       Accounting / Business Finance Skills

 

Choose a Career Path

 

Now that you’ve pinpointed which skills you already have and which you most enjoy, it’s time to decide on a direction.  There may be more options than you realize for work-at-home mothers.  Here is a short list to get you started: 

 

l       Executive Assistant

l       Graphic Designer

l       Web Designer

l       Research Assistant

l       Marketing / Public Relations Consultant

l       Bookkeeping and Accounting

 

Gaining Experience

 

Depending on the career path you chose, you may need additional schooling or certification.  Check for professional organizations within your industry.  They are a great source for volunteer and network opportunities, and may help you assess which certifications will be most beneficial to you.

 

One of the greatest challenges posed when switching careers is the sudden lack of experience.  It can be hard starting over again, especially in a market that seems interested only in seasoned professionals.  Test run your new career by volunteering your time to a friend, or a nonprofit organization.  Offer your services free of charge and put in your best effort.  You’ll gain experience and professional references, all while helping out a worthy cause.

 

Don’t Give Up

 

Switching careers is exciting, but it is also difficult.  Remember, it takes time to build a career.  The rewards are great when you are willing to give it everything you’ve got. 

 

www.sandrabeck.com

www.motherhoodincorporated.com

 

In Praise of Podcasts, by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

by Sandra Beck

In Praise of Podcasts by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

In Praise of Podcasts by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

In praise of podcasts  A plethora of cliches often signposts a kernel of truth. Take your pick: women are good at multitasking; there aren’t enough hours in the day; I feel torn in two. Time is tight if you’re juggling motherhood and working. Add in any vague ambitions at maintaining broader interests or world awareness – and you’re stuffed, aren’t you?   I laugh at the idea of old me, feet up, reading the newspaper. I used to enjoy settling down with a good non-ficton book to really get myself informed on an issue. My friends and I debating over black coffee and pastries – we could have been in Paris.  For me, podcasts are an amazing shortcut. Simply browse, pick the ones that interest you, and subscribe to them. That ensures that I always have the latest edition on my iPod.  I always have an ear in when I commute. I’ve been known to stay listening if I’m walking with the buggy. It gives me an hour each day out of nowhere, that very nearly meets the definition of ‘me time’, At least, I feel a little more like ‘me’ if I can make informed contributions to conversations.   Being a London fan. I’m a big fan of BBC output. However, the real joy of the podcast can be in its accessibility to the amateur broadcaster. A high rated contributor on a podcast directory can often combine reasonable ‘listenable’ production values with some sharp commentary that the mainstream networks wouldn’t dare broadcast. I think that this anarchist iconoclast edge takes me back to my student days. We all know how seductive it is to feel young again.  For Christmas, we got a radio which can be connected to an MP3 player. Now the kids are getting into podcasts too. They enjoy all the songs and jokes from their favorite characters, without needing to be glued to the TV.   I thought I was being especially clever when I put a ‘tidy up song mix’ on my iPod. The kids loved it – they twirl and dance while I’m crouched on the floor picking up the toys. Never mind.  Some interesting sites to browse:   http://www.podcastblaster.com/directory/ http://www.podanza.com/podcasts/kids/

www.motherhoodincorporated.com

One in four Internet users is involved in social networking by Tia Peterson/All American Admin

In a recent technology news article cited in a blog, it was quoted that one out of every four online users is engaged in social networking.

Additionally,

– Among the 30 and over working-age population, one out of eight uses social networking sites to conduct business.

I’ve been part of the social networking community for years, so… my prediction? It’s only a matter of time before it becomes one out of every four who are among the 30+ working age population who will use social networking sites to conduct business.

What does that mean for you? It means, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. If you’re going to conduct business online, conduct it successfully by doing what many other e-marketers have already discovered. Find a social network that’s right for you and go to town!

Cheers,

Tia

All American Admin

Late night makeovers and StumbleUpon.com by Tia Peterson/All American Admin

I think it’s so funny that Sandra just recently posted about getting a lovely long night of sleep, because it’s after midnight at the moment (on the East Coast) and I’m still awake, day-dreaming of sleep…

I just gave my company website a quick makeover. Not in terms of design or personality, but in content. I was finally able to streamline what I do into something I can “talk about at parties” (that was a nod to Jack Nicholson’s monologue in A Few Good Men…)

Seriously, though, I was able to spend some time while my son is down for (half) the night refining and describing my service offering in a way that finally makes sense. Being a virtual assistant is a wonderous and mysterious thing: people love what you do while at the same time not quite understanding what you do, no matter how many times you explain it.

On a totally different note, I want to brag that I was the first to “discover” Motherhood Incorporated and the Mother Incoporated blog on StumbleUpon. If you don’t know what StumbleUpon is, you should find out soon.

The main reason is that you should at least look to see whether someone has already discovered your site (it makes you feel good) and secondly you should know whether you’re getting thumbs ups or thumbs down – because your approval isn’t warranted with StumbleUpon. Your website could be getting rated and you wouldn’t be the wiser unless you are part of the StumbleUpon community.

It’s really a website ratings tool – people involved in StumbleUpon spend time “stumbling” websites that are presented to them based on a set of preferences. Then, we give the site a thumbs up or thumbs down. The more thumbs up a site is given, the more it is presented, thereby increasing the daily hits to that site exponentially.

If that kind of thing strikes your fancy, I say give it a try. I like it so far, but I caution against spending too much time “stumbling” – it’s very addictive!

Ciao,

Tia

All American Admin