Virtual Assistant Tips Series: Digital Filing vs Paper Filing

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First of all, I like filing things!  It makes me happy.  And I am so serious!

I am currently waiting on getting a file cabinet for my home office and I. CANT. WAIT!

Before I give some tips on the difference between two types of filing, let me give you my opinion on why filing is so important.  Number one, we (as in us entrepreneurs) need to get more organized.  We have too many things to do and very little time to waste and finding that important piece of paper for filing taxes is a waste of time unless you have it filed in a proper place.  Number two, it just looks good.  I feel better when things in my office are organized, straightened and put in place.  Number 3, you look good to other people.  People for sure take me more serious when they walk in my office and its neat and clean versus when I am disorganized and papers are everywhere.  This is a tested and true fact that my emotions and ability to handle things is determined by how organized I am. (My own experiment of course, so don’t quote me on it!)

Okay so now that I have convinced you that you should file things ( I hope)

Lets talk about two significant differences in the world of filing

Paper filingbinders2

So this is the old school way of doing it, circa 1980s when computers were big bodied and seeming to not be a big deal.  Business and offices kept paper everything and even today sometimes keeping paper just makes us feel better.  There is something about being able to pull the paper itself out in contrast to having to find it on the computer and email or print it.  Paperwork filing most definitely gives us peace of mind

The other perk to paperwork filing is we can organize using folders, binders and/or file cabinets.

If you have been following my blog you know I love binders. (In case you haven’t read it) I use them in my business, mostly because it allows me to carry paper files around for my clients, especially start up paperwork like Name Reservations and Articles of Formation.  This is helpful when they need paperwork for opening up bank accounts and meeting needs.  Of course I could just print when needed, but printer ink is crazy expensive and my goal is to keep costs down.

Folders and file cabinets just make paperwork easy to find.  You create a Receipts folder and put it in there, its there and probably will be there for life (a little faded) unless there is a fire or someone steals it.

So the cons are of course that paperwork can get easily lost, stolen and/or destroyed.  Paper files take up A LOT of space, which can be annoying.  It can also cause you to be a paper hoarder which is bad, really bad, recover with me from this trap! (Haha!)  In other ways it is also harder to send than digital files, you may end up having to fax, snail mail and/or scan, which are all issues within themselves.  So let’s move on to digital filing so you can decide what is best for you!

Digital Filing

Digital filing is the new age way of doing business!  There are apps on top of apps on top of apps available to anyone for online storage of documents, pictures, videos and anything else you can think of! My favorite online storage apps are

Google Drive

One Drive

Dropbox

I will do reviews on those later but my favorite features about having digital filing is that it is SO concise.  I can access files with one click and I can easily send it out without spending a dime….well sort of because online storage will eventually cost you, especially when you are like me and have LOTS of things to store.  I am currently paying $45 a month to Dropbox to hold my files and my client’s files, so it comes with a pretty steep price.  At the end of the day, however, everything is even more so all in one place than my file cabinet which doesn’t require me to take files out, put them in a notebook a haul them around, I can just have my phone with me at all times.

The downfall is….IF this doggone computer crashes, it is a pain.  Which is why I have an external drive for back up and the plus is many of those apps I mentioned have back up capabilities as well.

 

So there you have it, a review of the obvious!  This may or may not be helpful, but either way you need to find a way to keep track of all of your documents because balled up at your feet is no longer an option.  I’m just saying, it stops today! Until next time

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The Issue of Money: 5 Goals for a New Entrepreneur

5 New Entrepreneur Goals_ The Issue of Money graphic

Listen, starting a business is seriously expensive.  You have to go into the journey understanding you are going to have to make some sacrifices, it comes with the territory.  I knew this from the beginning, you know, I just didn’t realize it was going to be THIS MUCH!  I am in the business of being transparent so I can be honest here with you all in sharing that I am not financially as stable as I would like to be in beginning my business.

I made the mistake in the beginning thinking starting a business was going to help dig me out of what I considered financial hardship, but what I quickly discovered was….yeah no I’m in the same place right now.  The truth is, however, you can definitely gain profit in business.  We see people do it every day, but there are tools, principles, and guidelines you must practice in order to be successful in gaining income for yourself.  Now let me go ahead and give you a disclaimer.  This is Chronicles of A New Entrepreneur so I am right there in the trenches with you.  What I want you all to know is that you are not in this alone, but I also want to introduce you to the people that I use as my guidelines to help me understand the proper protocols to work towards the original goal I had in mind.  So in this post, I want to introduce you to some people, resources and important steps that I have utilized for myself to help me figure out the best way to manage the dollars of my business.  I hope this is helpful to you, so here we go:

  1. Read 10 Mistakes Startup Businesses Make and How You Can Avoid Them by Dee Edwards

This book is phenomenal and a KEY resource for startup business owners.  It is an investment well worth your time AND money.  There are so many key pointers I got out of this book that I have implemented and am working on implementing at this very moment.  Here are just a few:

…Become an investor for your company by drawing up a contract between you and your business

Dee Edwards, 10 Mistakes Startup Businesses Make And How You Can Avoid Them

I haven’t reached a point in my revenue where I can do this, but it is definitely in the plan to be able to do this!  This is my goal for 2018.  One thing I learned is you have to be realistic.  Honestly my business was operating at a deficit for the majority of 2017 and I barely started making a profit at the end of the year mostly because I am still building and putting in systems to ensure I can provide my clients what they need.  I am establishing the budget based on what I did in 2017 and setting some goals, which of course includes drawing up this contract.  Mrs. Dee suggests doing this instead of using your personal funds to pay for business transaction or vice versa.  It is great advice, which brings me to the next goal.

2. Open a separate bank account- don’t mix personal and business

I actually have been doing pretty well on this goal.  There have only been a handful of times I had to use my business account for personal reasons and I wouldn’t have if I didn’t have a choice.  I will be really transparent here, money was really REALLY tight for us at a moment last year.  I mean tight enough where I wasn’t certain I would be able to continue my business because I was thinking I might have to get a second job.  It was scary, frustrating and overwhelming.  My husband and I are a faithful couple and we knew God was going to bring us out, so I did my very best to pretend that my business account was not there.  In the book, Mrs. Dee says ” one of the main reasons business owners mix both personal and business funds is due to lack of money” and she AIN’T LYIN!  I have lived it and I am determined this year to avoid doing this at all costs!  I know this involves healthier budgeting and management practices on behalf of my husband and I which brings me to the next goal.

3. Save!

This goal carries over what I learned about the importance of ensuring your own personal finances are in order before you embark into entrepreneurship. I realize this may not always be realistic, but Lord do I wish I had more stability financially before I went into entrepreneurship.  A Facebook Group by Ce Ce Jones called MPA’s Money Goalers that I joined gives amazing tips on how to save money.  She does challenges and asks really thought provoking questions.  She also answers any questions you may have about finances fairly quickly!  I am deteremined this year to join in on one of these challenges, I am thinking about this one Ce Ce just recently posted.

Money Saving Chart

4. Learn The Art of Taking Donations- Caution

I discovered the “art” of this in working as an assistant in business to my sister Hiranda with Dream Makerz Outreach.  She is the owner of a non profit (a recent major win!) and Dream Makerz is an AWESOME organization so obviously people initially were open to helping.  Well the truth is, most “donations” where in the form of services or ended up being false promises.  The truth is, God was really just blocking us from doing things out of order.  Dream Makerz had not yet been established and we hadn’t fully established the entity and had no bank account.  We realized out of trial and error that it is just better to get things in order before dealing with finances.  Now we did work to find compromises, so people donating time and supplies were things we kind of got around, but money…. we are putting some systems into place for that, especially now that she has the official paperwork!  And a side note to that, I realized to that if I ever took donations for my business, which is a for-profit, I need to write it up as an investment or loan and write it up on contract just in case!

5. I bought an Accounting course off Groupon for $5 (Yes, I’m not exaggerating) and in 2018 I am actually going to take the course.

If this was Facebook I would insert a laughing emoji here! Now can I be honest with yall?  Money and numbers make my head spin!  I went to school to become a social worker and we are not required to pay a whole lot of attention to bottom line and income and expenses and balancing books and what not, so this is all foreign language to me.  The course I bought is so basic, but I haven’t gotten through it yet, but I KNOW it’s a valuable resource that I need to take advantage of!  I mean $5? I’m silly, writing this to you all are making me want to start back on it right now lol But seriously, EDUCATE YOURSELF, whatever you have to do, get some information and make sure it’s LEGIT!

The time I had to say “No!” Making the difficult decisions

I have had some wins and some losses in starting my business. The story I am about to tell you was probably one of the hardest decisions I had to make in my business career.

I knew increasing speaking engagements was one of the methods for me to increase my exposure and utilize as a marketing tool for my business. I was spending most of my time on Facebook seeking out opportunities and I came across one that was requesting speakers. I went ahead and applied because it required a very strategic interview but I will be honest I didn’t think I would be chosen, however I still wanted to give it a try!  So I did the interview and it went really really well! I was so excited and proud of myself. I waited a couple of weeks and eventually received notification that I had been chosen!

Me? What?
Thank you Jesus!

Reactions in that order! Lol!

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So this was in like June and the event wasn’t until August so that was pushed back in my mind because summer was so crazy!

Then life happened. Finances started to get held up and my husband and I were preparing to move. Things were just going wrong left and right. As a matter of fact the weekend of the event was the weekend we had to move! And then right before the move…my car broke down!
Impossible situations!!!
I prayed I kept saying God you are going to work this out for me. But in the back of my brain He was saying to me you are going to have to sacrifice this Ebone, but I kept waiting to see if I was going to be able to do it.

The week before the event came and my car was still in the shop and on top of that money was just simply low. Nothing had changed and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to drive to Georgia. I had to swallow my pride and let the coordinator know.

My heart was more hurt because I had let people know about it and I really was pretty excited about presenting for the first time as an entrepreneur.  I cried about it a little, had a little bit of an attitude and then….I prayed.  God told me this was a temporary sacrifice based on where I was in my business.  I wish I could tell you this was the end of sacrifices and hardships, but the end of 2017 landed some serious blows not just in my business, but in my personal life as well.

Let me say this though!  I am forever indebted to the organizer of the Conference Yaminah Childress, who was not only kind, but gracious and understanding throughout this whole ordeal.  She may have fussed in her head a little, but I would have never known it!  You all go support her organization Dream It Forward Foundation, Inc. because how she handled me was such a blessing and she is doing amazing things in the Atlanta community!

I am finishing this blog post up in 2018 and I can say that I made it through.  The sting of having to say “no” doesn’t hurt as bad anymore and I have a new appreciation for the level where God has me right now.  I want to encourage you business owners, entrepreneurs, thought leaders and CEO’s, one “no” is not the end of the world.  It may hurt for a moment, but God still has a plan for you and for me too!  Keep pushing!

#Connect #Create #Inspire

 

Should I be Ashamed because I can’t “Invest?”

I may step on some toes with this blog post so I’m going to apologize in advance and say, it is not my intention to attack or negatively represent anyone else’s business.  We are all out there trying to build, grow and make money and I respect that!  With that being said, this blog post is dedicated to those who are encouraging us new business owners to “take a step out” and “invest” in ourselves and our business.  I have a couple of things that we aspiring and/or brand new entrepreneurs need for you to know.

  1. That “investment” you’re asking for may require me to ignore or flat out neglect some of my major bills!  Sometimes I think you may not realize that my financial situation right now does not allow me to afford your $1000, $2000 a month fee at the moment!  I realize I may need you for my coach, mentor, or whatever, and I don’t want you to compromise on your fees for me!  But let’s be honest, money is not my strength right now and I am trying really really hard to figure out how to afford you, please don’t judge me if  I can’t do it!
  2. Do you realize that there is such thing as business shaming?  It feels personal!  And it has nothing to do with me!  I know, but sometimes I feel alienated, as if maybe I shouldn’t have tried this or maybe I wasn’t equipped to do this.  I applaud those seasoned business owners, coaches and mentors who are real and admit, “hey I had no clue what to do,” “I was broke and I made these lifestyle changes,” “I didn’t know where to go next.”  You have no idea how your transparency helps us, motivates us, gives us hope!  Thank you to those of you who do this!.
  3. I don’t always want to compromise my value in my business either, so I get that you are not obligated to help someone, but the biggest boost I received in starting my business was when someone in business, seasoned were willing to pour into me and help me find direction in my business, some I paid, some I didn’t.  So I guess what I’m saying is give us a break every once in a while, I promise you when my revenue comes in, I WILL invest.  I will because there are people I’ve come in contact with that I know for a fact I am to be connected with, but I don’t want to be made to feel less because I can’t right now!  I don’t want the picture painted in my case that because I’m not “investing” I’m not serious about my business.  No.  I’m not “investing” or “taking a chance” or “taking that next step” because I still have bills due.  Also, let me say this, you can’t tell me that every business owner in the world started their business off in a secure financial situation.  Many had to build, many had nothing and built something.  SO don’t belittle me in trying to grow my business with what I have!

Is this fair?! You all know me, this is just one person’s transparent opinion, based off my experiences and I want our insight!  This is something I am willing to dialogue about.  Please post your comments below and let me know what you think.

Like I said, in no way, shape or form am I saying Don’t invest in yourself, all I’m saying is please don’t shame me for not being able to invest right now, if I had it, doggone it!

Stay tuned for my next blog where I share my feelings about the other side of this discussion.  There are some reasons why you should at least invest in yourself in order to move forward in business.  I will talk about my experiences and what I did!

The Misunderstanding of Scheduling Phone Calls: My 3 Reasons Why

Dun Dun Dun!!!

This is how I feel when I have to tell someone, we are going to have to schedule a phone call. I had a potential client tell me “I like getting things done and continuing to move forward” when I informed her I was going to have to schedule a call with her. I understood her urgency, but what she didn’t understand was a couple of fundamental things that were in the meantime going to serve as more of a barrier to her than to me.

1) Taking phone calls on the fly leads to forgetfulness on my part
I work a 9-5 job, which really isn’t so 9-5. I am on the rode 2-3 times a week for this job. I am currently managing about 6-7 clients for Living Faith Management and Consulting. I am doing a very poor job of keeping up with my own content and marketing for Living Faith and CONE. Plus I am a wife and an active servant at church. At any given moment someone can call me about business and I will be professional and take notes, but two days later, I’m going to be searching my phone for when that call was made so I can remember where exactly I took notes for this call. It is horrible I know, but for my client’s sake, I have to talk to them on a schedule so they have my undivided attention and I don’t have to go back and answer a million of my questions they already answered

2) It helps my clients get organized too. Part of my job as an administrator is to help my clients see where they can improve in their business. Many of the clients I work with are in the same trap as me. I will ask them a question about details for a project and they will have no clue because majority of the time, they are not taking notes AT ALL! God Bless them! This is why they have me is because that isn’t their thing. But it’s pertinent for me to help them understand WHY they must do this with me, so they can get in a habit for themselves. I am about 80 percent certain many of the clients who do not close with me is because they aren’t even organized enough to hire me! Their follow up is blocked by their lack of time to even call me back or check their email where I sent them the contract to sign! I am so grateful for my current clients because they are committed to the process and see the benefits! It requires a WHOLE lot of trust

3) I manage people all day and I MUST maintain my sanity. If you can imagine managing about 10-12 different personality types, organization structures, opinions and beliefs ALL DAY! It is so exhausting! Scheduling phone calls helps me prepare myself and remind myself of the approach I need to take with certain clients. Some of my clients are more aggressive and need more from me than other clients who I don’t hear from for weeks at a time. I have no problem with either one, I just have to PREPARE! My Pastor always says “piss poor preparation produces piss poor production.” I am not here for it! Preparation is a must.

I was for a while using Acuity scheduling because honestly it helps me to stay on track, I get an email reminder, I don’t have to remember to put it in my calendar, it does it for me. But recently, I have just been giving my clients and potential clients some date options and I just have to rely on myself to remember to put it into Google Calendar and I can set multiple reminders for myself so I can prepare! So it may work for you it may not. It helps me to know what clients are going to work best with me and who I may need to guide to someone more suited to devote more time to them, which is totally okay! It’s all about finding what works best for you!

So give it a try and let me know if this helps you improve time in your business and give me some feedback!
Until next time!
#Connect #Create #Inspire
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Why and How I Categorize Emails to Stay Organized: 5 Easy Steps

I have been creating folders online for as long as I can remember my career.  I started in college because I needed to keep my courses separate from one another.  Actually…it started earlier than that because before I was doing it on the computer, I was doing it in high school for my classes by having separate folders for each class and dividers to keep different parts of each class organized.

Here is a blog post I did about how I use binders to keep myself organized20161215_153436

Yes I’ve always been this way!

You’re talking to the same person who drew a line down the middle of her notes , took notes in class and then went back later and took my own notes while I studied.

You’re talking to the person who used note cards to study for class!

So yes, I organize my emails.

God is funny like that because the skill was always in me, I’ve been an organizer my entire life!  It’s been there, I just never knew what He had in store for me

But anyways, back to emails

This is my process for organizing emails

1)) Look through your emails to get an idea of what categories you might need

2) Start creating folders according to what you need.  (Be careful not to get too specific because you will get into that later).  For example:

Clients

Business

Personal

Kids

Church

3) Start dividing your emails according to the sections you chose above.

  • Go through all of them!
  • Set a schedule if you have a lot

4) Delete!

As you go through your emails, make sure you are getting rid of the spam and junk you won’t need.  Go ahead and unsubscribe from emails you haven’t even looked at in months.  You can always go back!

5) Go back to your folders and categorize them

  • You run the risk of getting confused if you don’t complete this step
  • For example, Clients: You need to make sub folders for each client so you don’t get their emails mixed up!

You don’t have to but I normally do another layer for easy access, but that is totally up to you!  At least you started!

Trust me, this will make your life SO much easier!

If you find this overwhelming, give me a call.  This is an Add on service we have available to you for a low price at my business Living Faith Management and Consulting!

Go to our Services page to book a discovery call to ensure we are meeting all of your administrative needs!

Let us make your life easier, if you are open to it!

I hope this was helpful!

Until next time, WIN_20170526_12_47_56_Proconnect2

Husband and Wife Entrepreneurship: 3 Lessons Learned on the Journey

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God loves me. Forreal. He blessed me with the man of my dreams.  Our situation is not perfect.  Initially he was nothing I would have ever imagined for myself, but I was falling in love with him within the first month of us dating.  And now we are in the seventh month of our marriage and its AMAZING!  My life has changed so much in the past two years.  I found my soul mate, I continued to grow closer to God, I started a business and I got engaged and I got married.  And then I realized we were embarking on a journey in which both of us will be in the world of entrepreneurship together.  Today is March 4, 2017.  It is 10:23  pm at night.  Both of us are actively serving in church and have to be at church by 8:00 am in the morning.  We’ve had a busy day, he’s a musician, music producer and in school for Audio production and he had a gig today while I went to church for prayer and then went to a grantee workshop.  Then I came home, cooked, took care of the dog, we worked on his homework together and now he’s in the studio working on producing an album and I’m blogging.  All of those things I listed, we gets NO money for right now!  We are actively working and building our businesses, but it is a Struggle!  But you know what?  We are doing it together.  It’s one thing I’m certain helps us in our relationship because we have each other’s backs.  We committed very early on in our relationships to support one another no matter what.  It’s one of the things that attracts me so heavily to him.

When we first started dating I was smack dab in the middle of my busy season for my full time job which correlates to heavy traveling.  That particular year I was traveling every month, sometimes twice a month.  I was in Orlando and then on a road trip for six days with my kids in foster care and then I had to go on a trip again to Orlando and he went WITH ME!  He didn’t miss a beat.  He didn’t even care.  I WAS IN LOVE! LOL! Of course there are a million other things I can list, most importantly His love and dedication to God, the fact he talked to God before even approaching me, his love for family, I could go on and on, but at the end of the day we’ve made a commitment to work through whatever it is that comes our way.  So we are deep in it and there may be other business owners or potential business owners out there wondering what this is all about, how this will work if they are considering entering entrepreneurship as separate business owners or maybe even together.  Here are a couple things and learning curves I have learned in this past year.

  1. Learn when to turn it off!

This is probably hardest for my husband because his craft is based heavily on his creativity which has no respect for time! LOL! I had to learn it and respect it.  I now understand how important it is for him to go with the creativity when it comes, which requires me to deny my own selfishness at times.  But on the other hand, he has had to take the time and find out if it was worth it to sacrifice the time with me or not.  And I’m not exempt from this!  It takes effort on my part as well to know when its time to put the phone and computer down!  Sometimes I have to let go of looking for business opportunities and spend time with my husband!   It’s OKAY to take a break and connect with the ones you love

2. I may not fully understand what you do, but I can still support it!

I don’t know ANYTHING about audio production, but it excites my husband to such a varying degree, I can’t even explain it!  Shoot I don’t know if he can explain it.  We share a fairly mutual love of music, I LOVE to hear him play guitar, but as far as producing, I know NOTHING.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t wholeheartedly support what he does.  Now we are a little different because where he is okay with it, I’m a little more involved in the promotion of his brand, but you don’t have to be involved in it, but why wouldn’t you support the efforts of the person you are the closest with?  What would I look like if I said oh I don’t like the music my husband plays or produces so I don’t share it!  What would that do to him?  I mentioned before how amazing it is for me that he supports me so strongly!  When I told him I was going to start a business, he was all for it and constantly talks to other people about my business.  Does he understand it completely?  He doesn’t have to, his acknowledgement and support is enough!

3. Being okay with not being fully involved…all the time

So um this is a huge work in progress.  I might be the worst at this,  mostly because I REALLY like spending time with my husband, lol.  He likes spending time with me too, but he doesn’t mind some away time every once in a while. (Yes I am slightly clingy, he knew it from the get go so he can’t complain too much haha)  I am learning its just impossible for us to be involved in everything!  Most of the time, however, its an insecurity issue and when I am able to realize that, its helpful to me, to him and our marriage.  I’m learning I can’t be at everyone of his shows and he can’t come to every one of my presentations, but we can find other ways to support on another.  Entrepreneurship is tough in itself, building and maintaining a marriage requires constant prayer and many talks with God.

These are just a couple of things we have learned along the way, I’m certain there are so many more things that will come, but hey, this is a transparent account of my journey, right?  So here you go, this is where I am in year 1 as an entrepreneur and month seven as a married woman!  It is interesting to say the least but there is no one else in this world I would rather do this with!  What about those of you who are long time married folk and long time entrepreneurs, in the middle, no matter what stage you are in, give some feedback, let’s talk about it!  I’m open to it all, even if you think I’m doing it wrong, lol, shoot help me! 🙂  Until next time #connect #create #inspire