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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:picketfence

 

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

 

Sales Plan – Creative Marketing for Your Small Business by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

By Sandra Beck/ Motherhood Incorporated

 

 

When you have a small business chances are that your marketing budget is also small.  That doesn’t mean that your marketing plan has to be small.  We’ve already talked about internet marketing, blog marketing and social networking as great ways to get your message out to the masses and we’ve also talked about the advantages of branding to make all of your marketing count, now it’s time to think outside the box.Path

 

You know who your target market is and you=2 0know what your unique selling proposition is, how can you effectively let people know about your product?  It really depends on what your product is.  If you are a cup cake business specializing in really cool cupcakes for baby showers, you might want to team up with your local baby boutique and offer a coupon for ten percent off your cupcakes to expectant Mom’s who register at the boutique.   For the cost of printing a few coupons you can effectively reach your local target market.

 

If your business is offering services to business owners you may want to check out the local chamber of commerce and all of their social functions.  Some Chamber events will even let you do a “live commercial” just for attending.  What a great way to notify local businesses about your services.

 

It’s crucial to consider where your target market ventures.  Do they go to coffee houses or are they shopping for diapers?  If you know where they go, you can formulate a way in which to court them.  Contests, coupons and incentives are great ways to get your business’ name well known.  People may lose the coupon but they tend to remember your name if you’ve branded yourself well.

 

The main thing is to seek out your target audience in a way that is conducive to their daily rituals.  If your product is good and you’ve affectively addressed its unique selling proposition you should have no problem attracting your target market.

 

To learn more about Starting Your Own Business, check out www.sandrabeck.com and www.motherhoodincorporated.com.  You too can work from home, have time with your family and make a great living with what you already know!

Expel Sick Day Stress from Your Life by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

 by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

 

When my youngest climbed out of bed Tuesday morning, he was all giggles.  Once I flipped on the light, I was surprised to see that his eyes were red and runny.  I immediately started running over my plans for the day, which I knew were about to be changed.  No childcare or playgroup, and I’d have to squeeze a trip to the doctor in somewhere.Dog

 

Sick days and snow days strike us all.  If you’re one of the lucky ones, they are few and far between.  Still, the stress of a sudden change of plans can be lessened, or even disappear altogether, if we put a plan in place for the unexpected.

 

Plan Ahead

 

As work-at-home moms, we have to consider the possibility that we may be called on to care for our children in a pinch.  Part of the flexibility of working from home means that our spouses may depend on us as an emergency back-up plan.  It is best to come up with a family plan for these situations ahead of time.  Does your spouse expect you to care for the kids every time an unexpected situation arises, or can you share the responsibility?

 

If you know it will be up to you to make alternate arrangements, try to plan for these situations when you are negotiating project deadlines with your boss or client.  Adding a little “fluff” to your timing will allow you to breathe easier if you have to spend an afternoon in the doctor’s office, instead of at your desk.

 

Have a Backup for Your Backup

 

Your mom usually takes the kids when they are sick, but today she has plans.  Turn to plan B.  Investigate some alternate options before hand.  Try forming a group of willing mothers in your neighborhood to share snow day responsibilities, or look for a flexible daycare program in your community.

 

When All Else Fails, Keep the Kids at Home

 

Prepare some activities for your children ahead of time.  We keep a rainy day box with some books, art supplies, and small toys.  The rainy day box becomes an exciting event when the kids only see it occasionally.  Make sure they can safely enjoy the activities on their own, and you will get some work done while they play.

 

If you know there is severe weather on the way, check out a movie and some books for the kids from your local library.  You may not be quite as productive as usual, but you can prevent yourself from falling too far behind.

 

www.sandrabeck.com

www.motherhoodincorporated.com

 

Get a Grip on Your Green by Tracking Expenses by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

 by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

 

A good expense tracking system should be part of every mom’s repertoire, but this is even more important for a work-at-home mom.  Not only are you chief financial officer of your household, but you are also adding business expenses into the mix.  Here’s a quick look at a few methods to help you get a grasp on your green:money

 

Receipts

 

No matter what method you use to track your spending, receipts are a must to claim your business expenses as a tax deduction.  You can use your receipts to track your spending at the same time.  Keep all your receipts in one spot, and then set a date with yourself to review them at regular intervals.  Categorize each receipt based on the transaction type, and then enter the totals into a spreadsheet or financial planning software on your computer.

 

Calendar or Notebook

 

Write your expenses down on your calendar each day, or in a small notebook.  At the end of the month, tally everything up and categorize it as you see fit.  Record the results in a separate notebook or on your computer.  A computer will give you a leg up when you are ready to review your budget.  You can easily produce graphs and charts to compare your target budget with your actual spending.  Plus, there is less risk of losing your work when you back it up.

 

PDA

 

Most PDAs have an expense tracking program built-in.  If yours doesn’t, check the web for free software downloads.  Keep your PDA handy to easily record transactions throughout the day.  Assign your expenses a category and your monthly budget review will be a snap.  Don’t forget to backup often.

 

Check Register

 

If you use a check or debit card often, use your check register as an expense tracking tool.  Let your bank do some of the work for you.  You’re statements will make it easy to review your monthly spending.  Canceled checks will leave a nice paper trail, if you ever need one.  Be sure to record everything on the spot, especially debit card transactions.  These are more likely to get lost in the mix.  Balance your checkbook regularly, and you’ll be good to go.

 

Source:

 

(2009). What Tax Records to Keep.  Retrieved March, 10, 2009, from the Internal Revenue Service Website:  http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=105111,00.html.

 

www.sandrabeck.com

www.motherhoodincorporated.com

 

How I Overcame the Perfectionist in Me by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

 

What could be more discouraging than expecting the impossible?  Most of us would agree that it would be unreasonable to ask an infant to put the toilet seat down when he is done, yet we hold ourselves to equally absurd standards.  We expect the impossible of ourselves when we equate success with perfection.daisy

 

I love art, now.  Drawing, painting, or just crafting in general are a source of great personal joy and quality time with my children.  When I was a child, art wasn’t on my list of favorite subjects.  It wasn’t that I didn’t like the process of coloring or enjoy the visual feast of a gallery, I just found it difficult to be excellent at creating a piece of artwork.  Math, science, spelling, history, those were the subjects for me.  There was only one way to do it – the right way.

 

Thankfully, while in college I became determined to overcome this mindset.  One day while I sat on the back porch enjoying the afternoon sun, I began sketching from a picture in a history book.  It was a portrait of a Native American man in a full headdress.  His eyes were serious, his face marked with the lines of old age, and a challenge to sketch to say the least.  I wore the eraser thin and became increasingly frustrated with my inability to transfer the image to my sketch pad.

 

Then, in a stroke of rare genius, I decided that I was just going to let it be wrong.  I watched in amazement as the portrait unfolded.  The eyes, though imperfect carried the same grave sense of humanity that first inspired me.  I can confidently say that the resulting sketch is still my best, and is complimented regularly by the budding young artist in my family. 

 

Fine art hanging on your wall isn’t the only benefit to letting go of the little things.  Here are a few more advantages to embracing the imperfect in our daily routine:

 

– Less stress

 

– Extra time with family

 

– More confidence

 

–        Freedom to be yourself

 

www.sandrabeck.com

www.motherhoodincorporated.com

Mastering the To Do List by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

Is your To Do list cluttered or covered in dust?  Maybe your To Do list is a mess of subconscious worries prone to resurfacing at the most inconvenient times.  A To Do list is a work-at-home mom essential.  Here are a few tips to help you manage the job that never ends:

Write it down.  Give your brain a break by writing everything down.  When you are juggling a career and family your mind is bound to be distracted at various times throughout the day.  Once you have noted an action that needs your attention, your mind will be free to return to the task at hand.Path

Keep it all in one place.  Whether you prefer a notepad, daily planner, or PDA, be consistent with where you keep your To Do items.  A note in your purse, another on the back of your hand and a third hanging on the refrigerator only adds confusion to an already hectic day.

Use single action items.  Your To Do list should consist of specific action items, not projects or goals.  These are the steps you take to complete a project, or accomplish your goals.  When you finish a task, cross it off.  When you work at home your boss isn’t there to pat you on the back, so you may find it gratifying to assess what you have accomplished at the end of the day.

Be specific, the more details the better.  If you include all the information you need to complete the task at hand, you will be able to finish it with ease.  This is especially helpful when squeezing things in throughout the day.  A quick phone call while you are in the waiting room of your doctor’s office becomes simple when the phone number is at your finger tips.

Estimate the time you need.  Be realistic with yourself about how long it actually takes to get things done.  If you block off a half an hour to run 30 errands, you’re not likely to stay on schedule.  Your schedule is there to help you plan out your day.  Overextending yourself will only leave you feeling stressed out and let down.

Categorize your list.  Breaking your list into categories will help you become more efficient.  Use a page in your planner or notebook for errands, another for phone calls, and a third for emails.  If you are in the car, flip to the errand page and check off anything on the way to or from your destination.  You can save loads of time by accomplishing similar items while you have the resources readily available.

Set priorities.  Use priorities to keep from falling behind.  Make sure you accomplish the items at the top of your priority list, but don’t be afraid to group those items with less urgent tasks that can be done at the same time.  The goal here is efficiency. 

Reassess regularly.  One phone call can change your priorities in an instant.  Review your priorities and change them as necessary.  If your To Do list isn’t quite working for you, switch it up a bit.  A few minutes invested now can add up to hours of time saved in the long run.

www.sandrabeck.com
www.motherhoodincorporated.com