The Tin Shingle Blog - #LifeofBizOwners
Ignore for a moment the mud, and focus on the green growth popping out from the mud.
These are sprouts of my bleeding heart bush, which will look like the picture below when fully grown. Trouble is, these sprouts are located underneath my trash can that I moved this morning to take to the end of the driveway. I do this once a week, which means that the mud sees daylight maybe once or twice a week. I moved the bush to this spot last year, and completely forgot during the winter that it was in this spot.
That means that this lively plant is almost totally blocked from the sun, which is essential to its growth. Even with this major blockage, the plant is still growing. Which tells me that your business, if it's healthy in the root, can grow with even total blockage. If you are having distractions or blockages while growing your business, like a day-job, or a family, or an illness, these can be major blockages to your business growth, and can cause frustration for you.
But look at the pink buds of this bleeding heart, and know that your business can continue to grow despite the blockage. You will need to move the blockage, because certainly the bush cannot grow tall if you keep putting a trash can on it. But this resilient bush has been in two locations in my yard, both of which have been awkward. The first was between two other giant holly bushes. Totally the wrong place. And now it's in the corner of the yard, but obviously in a place that is better suited to tuck away our trash cans.
Which forces me to move this bush yet again. And I've thought of the spot: just on the other side of this fence, in a corner of my side yard where I've never known what to plant there. This new place may be just the spot for it to thrive and spread out.
Blockage unblocked. But know that you and your business can still thrive in the dark mud with minimal sunlight. Even darkness can't hold you back...
Cheers to your second cup of coffee! Saturday mornings were my sacred times of the week where I worked my creative outlet in a no-phone-zone from 9-12am. This was pre-kids, and since kids, has disappeared. This year, with one kid almost crawling, and the other kid making tea parties for the Sleep Fairy with a vintage plastic plate set I found for her (for $24 for 28 pieces! #score), I'm reclaiming this time.
For you today, I made this little coffee image and shared it with our Facebook feed for any of our small biz friends who are enjoying the same creative space on a Saturday.
Saturdays for me meant designing a new product for my accessories line at Katie James, my first and most beloved passion project, or it meant uploading images of new products to the website. I wrote new blog posts for my first bog, FashionMista, which has since gone stalled, or I designed a new desktop art during a time when desktop art was hot. Maybe it still is, who knows!? My resolution this year is to get back into check with this creative side. So cheers to you, Small Business Hustler. Let's enjoy another cup. ;)
I was originally going to post a link to this article in the regular Tin Shingle News Round Up blog series, but something in me felt that it deserved to be read and digested it on its own, allowing you to give it the full attention it deserves...Read through to the end, as I'd love for you to be sure to catch Meredith's message to us all which closes this post!
Sunday night, while scouring the web for articles to inspire small businesses owners and entrepreneurs for the Monday's News Round Up I came across an article about the CaringBridge blog of Meredith Israel, a 36 year old mother and executive who is fighting, and at this point dying from, Stage 4 breast cancer that has spread throughout her body. What began as my reading one journal entry turned into an hour of me reading about her three year journey, from diagnosis all the way through these last weeks she is sharing with her family. I will admit that by the second page of entries the tears were flowing.
I'm not sharing this to depress you or fill you with fears about your own health. Instead I wanted to share what I gathered from Meredith's posts (the October 14th post moved me the most) and her blog "bio", which is a message I've heard time and time again from those fighting a terminal disease. It's also a message painted onto the sign I have hanging in my own kitchen. In short: Unless It's Fatal it's No Big Deal. There you have it, short and sweet!
Every day as a small business owner is FILLED with "crisis moments" big and small. A pacakge is missing, a new business offer fell through, we have too many meetings back-to-back, the press turned our story down...I myself spent way too many life moments this week arguing with my email and web server team and by the end of it from my behavior (I'm embarassed to admit this) you'd think I was negotiating a truce between two countries and not a sever migration.
I think the universe sent me Meredith's blog as a lesson. Unless it's fatal it's no big deal! As my mother always says, you cannot strap a U-Haul to your hearse and take everything you earned with you. These things make me realize that we are so blessed and fortunate to be alive and energized and able to fight the small business fights we have! To experience the highs and lows of following our dreams! How luck are we to be putting out minor (even major) business fires, not trying to put down cancer!
Believe me, I'm not saying that what we do and our struggles are not significant, but at the end of the day, they are all things we will get through, and more than likely learn from and grow from. They aren't the life and battle Meredith and so many others are fighting.
I'll stop here and let Meredith finish this post in her own words, as I think they best summarize what I hope you take away from this post:
I've said that during this time I will learn who my friends are and that still holds true, but my advice to all...stop sweating the small stuff. It doesn't really matter. If someone burned you or breaks your heart...it sucks and you can cry and mope about it for a few days, but after facing this I have realized, don't dwell to long as they may throw a much bigger curve ball that you can't just fix by mental healing. So, when I am healthy and if I ever harp on something dumb or little...please tell me to get over it...or if you are sad and confused, think about me and the millions of other men, women and children out there that have this ugly cancer and try to put life into perspective.
Find Meredith's entire journal HERE on CaringBridge!
I "met" Ted Rubin on Twitter long before I met him in person when we were both speaking at Tory Johnson's Spark & Hustle Tour in New York City. Since them I've become a fan of his social media expertise, tweets and posts. What I like the most is that Ted knows that the key to business success is relationships: authentic, sincere relationships. Too often these days I see small business owners trying to rush to the finish line or to the next deal and focus too much on numbers as goals (dollars, page views, Twitter followers) instead of focusing on the relationships that will get them to those very numbers they want so badly. Ted's whole theory is something he calls Return on Relationship™ (#RonR via Twitter). Today he posted a story about it on Facebook and I had to share. Give it a quick read and think of it as you make your way through the week!
PS - Get more Ted-isms by following him on Twitter here.
AS POSTED BY TED RUBIN:
I was with a senior marketing executive from a major retailer recently and we got into an hour long conversation about Return on Relationship™, my philosophy, and what it means to me. He was incredibly interested personally and for his company, is a very thoughtful person and was interested in digging down to what my mission is… or better yet, what I want most to accomplish with respect to ROR (#RonR). What it seems to come down to, after discussing, riffing on the topic, and a bit of introspection, was helping others without expectations of what you get directly from that person in return. And how that plays into the old adage… “what goes around, comes around.” We then had an inspirational discussion of what that means to us personally and can mean for brands with consumers.
Short and simple: if you are only focused on the money, you risk completely overlooking the people. Don’t make that mistake! If you don’t know who your people are, you might as well toss your marketing and prospecting money down the drain.
Relationships ARE the new currency – honor them, invest in them, and start measuring your ROR.
Spotted in our Twitter feed, as tweeted by one of our #ProPreneur members Emily Elizabeth Jewelry, and loved:
Want to know who else makes amazing fortune cookies? Lady Fortunes Gourmet Cookie Company, another #ProPreneur member who continues to make greatness in this world!
Have you ever felt this way? My daughter Ruby was climbing this very steep hill, stumbled, yet forged ahead with a little encouragement. We watch it from time to time when we need a reminder to keep going:
A healthy reminder for you:
If you feel like you need to answer everyone right now this instant all of the time - take a pause. You can't be "on" for everyone all the time, or your shizzle will fizzle! Turn something off while working to finish a project.
This is a picture of The Four Courts in Dublin during the Battle of Dublin. The building had been taken over by Anti-Treaty forces on 14 April 1922. Bombarded by National Army forces on 28 and 29 June, a huge explosion of stored munitions on 30 June destroyed the Public Records Office, and with it a huge swathe of Irish cultural memory.
The first in a series of posts about sleep, while co-founder Sabina begins her new mission to sleep 7-8 hours a night.
When I sat down to write this post the first time, on a Friday evening, I literally fell asleep on the couch with my laptop on my lap, which I took as a sign that I needed to go straight to bed and finish it up later. The fact that I was writing a post about sleep, or the lack of it more specifically, did not escape me. The truth is, I’ve always been one of those people who has insisted to her (physician) father, that the “eight hours of sleep” rule didn’t apply to her. By the end of college I’d mastered the handling of late night studying sessions that left me with five hours to sleep before the day began again. It wasn’t a daily occurrence and it didn’t seem to phase me, so I never paid it much mind.
Fast forward one decade and I found myself a few years into the entrepreneurial lifestyle that one can only “get” by experiencing it: you learn to pull all nighters (especially at the beginning or during “busy season”), you wear many hats, you check your email on your smartphone when you wake up in the middle of the night “just in case”, and because of all the hats you wear, seven or eight hours of sleep begins to sound like some sort distant memory or make believe world others talk about. “What is this land you speak of where people get enough rest, are able to shut off on weekends or holidays and find time to go to the gym before getting into work?” That was the thought that has been running through my head for years….until now.
Over the past few months I’ve watched people close to me in work and personal circles start to feel and exhibit the physical, emotional and professional effects of pushing themselves too hard and not allowing themselves enough sleep. Whereas I used to laugh off my dad’s lectures about needing a good night’s rest, his talking points now began to echo in my head. “Sleep is the time your body is able to heal itself”. “Sleeping enough is one of the keys to living longer.” “When you show up at home for a long weekend after pulling an all nighter in order to spend quality time with us, nobody gets your ‘quality side’”.
Perhaps it’s only now that I’m noticing and acknowledging it or perhaps all of us busy workers are realizing this, discussing it and deciding to do something about it more and more because it feels like everywhere I turn, my peers or the media are talking about the need for sleep. The truth is, I’ve decided not to ignore my obvious lack of sleep anymore and I don’t think you should either. I’ve decided that despite I think I need that one to two hours at night or early in the morning to work, connect, “decompress” or whatever else it is I need to do, I’m only doing it if I’m still going to get enough sleep. Though my goal is eight hours a night, I’m going to let myself off of the book with seven – I’m just being honest with you here. Some nights a girl is just spinning too many plates or on too good a roll and she cannot stop, and I’m going to accept that.
What I will no longer accept is my own lack of courtesy for my body, brain and soul that lack of sleep truly is. I will accept the fact that to be the best businesswoman, entrepreneur, leader, friend and woman I can be, I need to be healthy and happy, and a large part of my being happy and healthy depends on sleep. There is no denying it, and you don’t have to take MY word for it, as I’ve compiled some of my favorite articles below about WHY you should be getting enough sleep for you to read before bed.
Now sweet (early) dreams when you hit the hay tonight! I mean it!
NOT SLEEPING EIGHT HOURS A NIGHT? SHAME ON YOU, READ HERE!
Why Eight Hours of Sleep Makes You Fearless -
In this amazing Huffington Post piece, writer, life coach and what I shall dub a “sleep “crusader Terri Cole talks about how a lack of sleep can lead to anxiety and fear (something you do not need any extra of as an entrepreneur). This should give you extra inspiration to get that sleep – it sure did it for me!
Tips and a Video (USEFUL tips) on How to Get More Sleep -
Another must read from my new favorite sleep crusader Terri Cole.
Top Ten Surprising Effects Caused by Lack of Sleep Causes
Perhaps you’re a WebMD addict like me, if so you may have read this already. If not give yourself a few minutes to glance at this list. Hopefully some will shock you into an earlier bedtime tonight and every night! These results make me think “why even tempt fate?” It’s simply way too easy to avoid these effects by getting some sweet, relaxing, free sleep.
CNN & Forbes Break Down what Lack of Sleep can do to Your Business -
If I didn’t have you at “this is unhealthy for your body” then how about “this is unhealthy for your business”? Your pushing yourself could be having adverse effects on your performance!
Wikipedia Breaks Down the Effects of Lack of Sleep (Hint: it makes you gain weight too!) -
Still not convinced? How about this: lack of sleep causes weight gain, temper tantrums, malaise, puffiness and more. None of the effects are sexy, trust me.
Washington Post Discusses what Science Shows Lack of Sleep Does to the Body -
Need I Say More? The SCIENTISTS are telling you sleep. Trust them.
You spend a lot of time working your business – getting new clients, making product, marketing, advertising and selling – wouldn’t it be nice if someone or something could just make your life a little easier?!?
Here are 10 Companies that do just that – these companies can help you track your books, take customer payments, manage your expenses, use electronic signatures, send and receive faxes, send large files and our favorite company(!) that helps you promote your business online.
This list is by no means exhaustive – drop us a note in the Comments section below and tell us who else you’d nominate.
Keep & Track Your Books
1. Quickbooks is the King when it comes to bookkeeping software. You can use Quickbooks to invoice, receive online (and now credit card) payments, track vendor expenses and mange your company's overall financial health. I love the online version because it's synched up with my bank and credit card accounts so makes reconciling (or having my bookkeeper reconcile!) a breeze. Overdue invoices are flagged automatically which helps me make sure that I'm getting paid for the work we're doing! Quickbooks also has some great reporting features that allow you to at a glance see where your business is and how it's trending versus others in industry.
2. Freshbooks is a relative newbie to the scene. But I'm seeing it used more and more frequently because they have a system to capture time. So if you (or your employees) bill by the hour, this might be a great way to integrate those two 'tasks'.
Take Payments on the Go
Both Quickbooks and Freshbooks have an invoicing system that lets you take payments. For a while Freshbooks was the only one to offer credit card payments, but just yesterday, Quickbooks announced that they too can now accept credit cards. But that assumes that you’re actually creating and sending invoices. What if you want to sign someone up for your service on the stop, or let someone buy something from your tradeshow booth right now?! Nothing says instant gratification like these two
3. Square. Get paid anywhere, anytime is Square’s claim to fame. Their square (of course!) card reader easily plugs into your earphone jack on your iPhone or Android devices and turns any phone into a credit card terminal. Used and loved by everyone from local coffee shops to pediatricians making house calls, Square is one of those devices that has completely changed how small businesses operate. Charge is 2.75% per swipe for Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express.
4. PayPal Here. By inserting PayPal’s new triangle-shaped dongle (not my word!) into your iPhone, you can swipe a customer’s credit card. Or you can scan the credit card number by using your camera’s phone. There’s no charge for the actual app and card reader, but you will be charged 2.7% for card swipes and PayPal payments. Great for people who already use PayPal.
Manage your Expenses
When I worked for ‘the man’ I didn’t really worry about my expense reports, if I missed a receipt here or there, I kind of figured – eh it’s just a couple of dollars. BUT now that I’m working for myself and my expense reports are my own, it’s a completely different ballgame. Walking around with an envelope full of receipts is messy, they get lost and it’s just a pain to file and track. That’s why I love
5. Expensify. Expensify is a fantastic app that allows you to track your spending on the go – whether you need to track transportation costs and mileage, food, advertising expenses, their simple integration makes tracking expenses a snap. You can import expenses directly from your credit card or actually scan your receipts using your cell phone. Plus, they have some cool reporting software that allows you to track spending by person, by merchant or by category.
Create and Send Forms with Electronic Signatures
6. DocuSign. We are constantly being asked to sign things – payment notices, non-disclosure agreements, orders, etc... and the more hoops the company requires us to go through to sign (hello – print, sign, scan and fax back!?) the slower we are to do it. But DocuSign simplifies the process – you Send them your documents, you add the Signers who are then automatically notified that a document is pending signature, they Sign it and you Save it.
Unless you happen to frequent your local Kinkos or Staples a lot, faxing can be a real pain. Why some require that you print out a form, sign it and fax it is beyond me especially when you have sites like DocuSign mentioned above. But when you absolutely need to send and receive faxes, why buy a fax machine and set up a land-line with the phone company (if you don’t already have one) if you don't have to?
7. eFax allows you to send and receive faxes via email – you can even have your own fax number. Look at how legit you are now!
Transferring Large Files
8. DropBox. If you’re constantly sharing files with your co-workers (and aren’t using a collaborative project management system like Basecamp), consider using DropBox. DropBox is a free service (although I paid for an upgrade to a larger account) that lets you keep and share files easily. You download a little DropBox shortcut and load up any and all files you might have. DropBox automatically synchs to your computer providing an automatic upload of your latest saves so that you – or anyone that you give folder access to – can work off of the same proverbial page. I use DropBox as my back-up file server and as a way to share projects in progress with my designers, writers and clients.
9. YouSendIt. If you just need to simply email a large file, YouSendIt is a great way to do that. Simply create an account (another freebie!) and send away. Your files are sent as downloadable links that do expire so not a good place to ‘store’ files, but perfect for one-time use (www.yousendit.com)
Promote Your Business Online
10. Tin Shingle. Of course this list wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t include a big shout-out to Tin Shingle. When you’re looking to ‘go big’, you need to be able to expand your reach exponentially. You need to get your name, your product, your service in front of tens of thousands of potential customers.Tin Shingle helps you do just that.
With our easy ‘Post and Go’ dashboard, you can upload your businesses, products, services, events, sales, specials, etc… and our proprietary Personalized Social system goes to work Tweeting, Facebooking and Pinning on our networks. We’re like little elves that help you promote your business so you can focus on working your biz. Interested in learning more? Click on the Member Benefits page to learn just what $75/month can buy you.
Didn't see your favorite company on the list? Tell us about it and what they do that makes your business life that much simpler.
Pinterest has been taking the social media world by storm the last few months. But, what is Pinterest? Why is it so popular? And what do you need to know about it as a business owner and entrepreneur?
First, what Pinterest is.
Pinterest is virtual bulletin board that allows users to find and share images, links, and text they like with the world. Users can create multiple boards based on their interests (places you like, neat and quirky finds, clothes, shoes, jewelry, the sky’s the limit) and when they find an image, link, etc… that they like, they use the downloadable Pinterest bookmarklet and ‘pin it’ to the appropriate board to organize it. It’s kind of like a StumbleUpon for images, or Stylehive for style ideas.
Followers can then comment on your pins or re-pin them on their boards. And because as you pin things to your board, they also get pinned to the Pinterest home page, it allows you to build an audience of followers beyond your traditional circle of ‘friends’.
Here's a snapshot of the Pinterest home page when it shows recent photos pinned by different people:
Why you should care about Pinterest right now.
One of the reasons why Pinterest is so intriguing is that it’s now driving more traffic to websites than LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube combined. And that’s interested traffic that tends to buy the items that they’ve seen pinned to the wall. According to an MSNBC.com interview with Sarah Conley, social media manager at ideeli.com, they’ve seen a five-fold increase in sales from the referral site.
We collected some must-read links from media outlets such as Mashable and PR Daily. Read those for more business news about Pinterest.
Why Pinterest is suddenly as popular other social media sites
Why is Pinterest gaining in popularity when other sites like Facebook are suffering from fatigue? Huffington Post writer, Bianca Bosker suggests in her article, The Secret to Pinterest’s Success: We’re Sick of Each Other, that it could be because Pinterest isn’t just another way to proclaim your greatness to the world. It’s less about ‘look what I just did’ and more about ‘I just found something cool that someone else created’. It’s more a beautiful, aesthetically pleasing version of your vision of the world.
What should businesses know about Pinterest?
Well, if you have a product-based business with an online presence, you should think about joining in. Create a board or two and pin some of your gorgeous (note they need to be pretty!) product shots. And just as with any social media tool, it’s about conversation and forging connections with others. See how five small businesses are using Pinterest in their business strategy. So start following some ‘pinners’ who have similar interests. Need an idea of who to start following? Start with us!
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