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Awkward. The moment I sat in front of a brick and mortar service provider and told him that his logo missed the mark when it came to expressing his brand.
As I came in the building that morning to give him a presentation on my branding programs, a mix match of signs greeted me. One on the building and a different one inside. Okay, that’s confusing!
He wanted to know how he could attract more business, especially wanting to know how his clients could better understand what he provided.
And yet, when I mentioned that his logo needed to communicate the essence of his business and that perhaps it wasn’t doing the job, he rankled.
He had “designed” it himself. Or maybe a relative did it. The logo was cool, he said. I can’t remember, this meeting was so long ago. But I remember how I felt about his response: Oh dear, he is taking his logo personally! He was attached and couldn’t see it objectively.
This scene is all too common among business owners as well as authors or artists. Putting something up on the Internet because it’s pretty or you like it or it’s cool is not a good enough reason to choose a logo mark, book cover, brochure, or any other marketing material you are producing.
Why? Because your logo or any other product/marketing piece needs to communicate your intended message. In particular, a logo needs to communicate what you do and convey trust and credibility to your target market. Read More→
I have been pondering a delicate question this week. Why is it I can only do one thing at a time? If only I could do several things at a time, I could get more accomplished.
The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage is an expert when it comes to multitasking. Although I have lived with her for over 45 years, I still do not know how she does it. She is better than a circus juggler and can juggle a dozen tasks at the same time.
Not me, that is for sure!
I like to do many things, but I have to do them in order and one at a time. That is how I have always done things even though I have tried to juggle two things at one time but it has never been successful. Usually, both of them fall to the floor and I have to start all over again.
Every day I make a list of things I need to do and start working on them one by one. I am looking forward to the day when I will be able to accomplish everything on my list.
Maybe I am just trying to do too much.
Like the other day, I needed to go across town to pick up something at one of the office supply stores. Usually, I am not allowed to go into the grocery store by myself. However, when my wife found out I was going to go across town, she asked me if I would stop at the grocery store and pick up a few things. Then she handed me a list, and said, “Get everything on the list and only those things on the list.”
Then she gave me one of “those looks.”
It is hard for me to go into a grocery store and not pick up a few things that I want. I have never seen any ice cream that I did not want. However, when I am on strict orders with a shopping list, I don’t have any leeway at all.
It started out rather well. She handed me the list and I put it in my pocket and headed for the front door. As I was going out, I heard her say, “Remember, only those things on the list.” Read More→
As a church, it can be hard to work as a unified group when you only see each other once a week. Of course, their are council meetings and other occasions for people to meet. But, these are usually out of reach to the wider congregation of the church. This poses a problem when trying to get things done as a group effort. Or, simply for members of the church to get to know one another. Thankfully, there’s a way to solve this problem. And, this post is going to be going through exactly how you can do it.
A lot of churches take their congregation on regular retreats. These retreats are like short vacations for the church. You spend a long weekend in a beautiful location with loads of things to see and do. This is an excellent chance for members of the church to get together and plan for future events. It also enables church leaders to get a good amount of time talking to their flock. This all helps to build a stronger church. The members will form friendships that they wouldn’t have had outside of church. And, you will be able to get an idea of how the church is going. This also gives everyone a chance to go on a vacation. And, of course, who wouldn’t want that?
Of course, at something like this, you’re going to find loads of church related activities. You will have sermons on most days. And, you’ll even find some fun things to do. The activities that you will find will greatly vary between places. Some of these retreats will have swimming pools and wooded walks. Others will have sports like golf available. This will depend on the place that you go to. Thankfully, most of these places are designed with families in mind. So, they will have things for people of all ages to get involved with. This can be an excellent chance to get away from the kids for an afternoon; without having to have them too far away.
Finding one of these places shouldn’t be too hard. Most cities have options. And, a lot of towns have them, too. Finding a christian retreat center that will suit your church may take some time. So, it’s worth getting ready to do some research. It’s important that you make sure that the place that you choose suits your church members. It would be unfair to choose somewhere very expensive if most of your church-goers are low income families. Likewise, having to travel a very long distance will also put a lot of people off of the idea. You have to make these considerations when thinking about something like this. It’s important to make sure that as many of the church members are included as possible.
Hopefully, this will inspire you start working on a retreat for your own church. It can be hard to make sure that you’re doing something that everyone will enjoy. But, once people are out there, they will struggle to complain about what you’ve prepared for them. So, don’t worry; just enjoy the break.
As a work-at-home professional, you will face a different set of challenges and blessings in your job. There are many tips available as you progress with working from home, but some are especially important to keep in mind. These include the following points.
DO designate a specific time to work. Assuming that work will just happen because you are always home is a dangerous assumption. Instead, schedule yourself specific times to work and stick to those hours. This will also help you keep your work and home lives separate, according to Businessinsider.com.
DON’T mix your work and home areas. While working at home can make it seem easy to mesh the two, it is actually quite important to keep them separate. Entrepeneur.com states that this allows you to escape work at the end of the day and will help you preserve time and space for family.
DO take breaks. Of course, keeping these breaks to a moderate length is important. However, Businessinsider.com states that breaks in which you eat or exercise will help you focus better and ultimately get more done. In fact, Agmrc.org suggests that you spend 5-15 minute breaks doing something you enjoy that relaxes you. But stick to the time-limit on these breaks or they can eat away at your day. Read More→
So, Christian work at home mom or dad, have you played with your kids lately?
Why is that important, and what does that have to do with branding your business?
Well, let me illustrate my answer with a story, if I may!
Before, during, and after Thanksgiving I worked myself ragged on a book promotion. After that, I was burned out. It took me a long time to recover. Then came Christmas, with all its family demands. I completely lost focus for awhile in my business. It didn’t help that I threw my back out because I had worked so hard!
As it says in Psalm 32 The Message version, “all the juices of my life dried up.”
Then my nephew, Nathan, and his wife came for an extended visit. A talented young man with many visions and dreams and with the support of his talented and enthusiastic wife, we started to dream and plan together that first full day they were guests in my home.
So it was at our favorite coffee shop that we brainstormed many ideas, including what activity to do in my homeschooling club. This led to us preparing for an amazing creative play experience for my son and a dozen other students.
What was it? We made medieval boffer swords and the children engaged in play sword skirmishes! The kids had a blast and we had a blast facilitating this!
But even more importantly, we had a vision. To continue this creative play not only in the homeschool club, but at home as well as part of our PE time. Read More→
By Kathy Wilson
Valentine’s Day is a special day in my household, and I try to share the feeling of love and romance with all my family! One of the best ways to do that is to set a holiday table, and spend time enjoying good food and drink with your loved ones. (Include your kids in dinner, and save a special after dinner and dessert for romance!) Here are some great ideas for setting the stage for a romantic dining experience, without breaking your budget.
* Set a background for your Valentine’s Day dinner. Layer your table with fabrics to invoke the sense of a luxurious hotel. Use sheets, quilts, tablecloths and placemats in coordinating colors. Pink, red and white are all indicative of love, but so are deep jewel tones. Look around your linen closet to find what you may already own! Flat sheets can be found at the discount shop for $3!
* Invest in a roll of wire edged ribbon from the discount store. Tie bows around chair backs, glass stems, and silverware bundles for that extra touch.
* Use a paper punch and create confetti to sprinkle over the table. This is a great use for used wrapping paper, greeting cards, or even the funnies! It adds a great festive touch, and you can even put the kids to work on this one!
* Buy a few boxes of Valentine’s message hearts (they are only a $1 for three boxes!) and leave special love messages for each family member on their plate. Or use chocolate bars and cut out the letters to spell their name or initial as a sweet place card.
* Make each family member a “Scroll” of love. Write them a personal note telling them all the wonderful things you love about them, then roll it up like a scroll, and tie with the ribbon. Tie to their chair with the ribbon, or tuck in with their napkin. Make sure their names are marked on each scroll. Read More→
Meek & mild. Calm, cool, and collected.
These are all words that I wish described me.
But they don’t. At all. Just ask my family or friends. I would get they would use words more like stressed out and energetic (said somewhat sarcastically. Sarcasm runs in our family).
I have always carried a deep desire to be like Mary. To sit at the feet of Jesus and listen. To sit and soak up the wisdom of the Jesus-like women in my life.
However, I am truly bad at sitting to listen. The sitting aspect I have down – it’s just the sitting AND listening that I can’t seem to manage. I’m more like Martha – I need to be DOING.
Maybe I’m uncomfortable with the solitude necessary at times to hear what God is trying to tell me. Maybe I’m trying to avoid the conviction of the Holy Spirit, so I keep moving, moving, moving; hoping I can DO more, BE more, and prove myself worthy.
I have tried to stuff myself into a meek and mild skin many times. However, it just never sticks. I tell myself that the next time such-and-such situation arises, I’m going to handle it with calm reserve. And then the situation comes to pass and I FREAK OUT and start doing, managing, organizing. The calm reserve I promised myself has flown out the window and I feel like I’ve blown it yet again.
Just As I Am
Recently I was watching some videos online of two Christian women speakers. The first was quiet and meek, the epitome of a Mary in my mind. That’s what I need to be like, I thought. I started a fresh list of personality changes to get to work on that would make me more like this woman that I admired.
Then, the next speaker stood up, and took center stage. She loudly announced that she was about to get all fired up. Oh here we go, I thought. This gal is like me. My eyes were rolling before she even had a chance to get started. I assumed that if she was loud and excited she couldn’t possibly be a good teacher, because that is how I feel about myself. However, as she spoke, something within my was drawn to her. Her excitement was catching, her passion was inspiring, and it was obvious that she was God’s woman through-and-through. Even though she was loud and a little zany and … a little like me.
I saw myself in her. But, more importantly, I saw Jesus in her.
And I realized that God can use me exactly as I am. Don’t get me wrong, He’s continually making changes within me. But my personality, who He created me to be, is EXACTLY what He meant it to be.
He can use my crazy, kooky, loud personality to glorify Him, just as he can use a mild-mannered sweet girl. It’s not our presentation that matters. It’s our hearts.
That realization has given me freedom in a whole new area. The freedom to be myself, to share Jesus in my own kooky, zany way. That realization has brought me JOY as I realize that God truly loves me and uses me just as I am.
Sing to the Lord a new song,
His praise in the assembly of the godly.
Let Israel celebrate its Maker;
let the children of Zion rejoice in their King.
Let them praise His name with dancing
and make music to Him with tambourine and lyre.
For Yahweh takes pleasure in His people;
He adorns the humble with salvation.
Any mother can tell you how exhausting juggling family, home, and a 9 to 5 job. When spending too much time in an office job, your family life suffers. This is because you tend to miss out on the memories and your children growing up. In addition, some jobs require a lot from you in terms of long hours, out of town trips, and sometimes working on weekends and holidays. It is for this reason that a growing number of parents are all for working from home.
It is usually a terrifying experience leaving a solid source of income into a world of the unknown but you must look at it as a chance for growth and being your own boss. In fact, working from home trains you on time management. The great thing is that you now have the ability to juggle family life, errands, and your home office in a flexible manner. Working from home can have its disadvantages because you may be distracted by the kids when they cry or when company unexpectedly stops by. The trick to handling this is to train the kids to keep away from your home workspace within set hours and informing family and friends of days you can avail yourself socially.
The key to success in working from home is balancing work and home. It is not always easy but with time, you can definitely handle and enjoy both. One of the things you can do is to create a timetable for each day and how you intend to have family time, do your chores and errands and when to buckle down and get some work done. If you are doing work that excites you and requires flexible time to handle it, then it means you will have more time for other things in the home and about town. Read More→
Recently, a friend of mine messaged me horrible news. Her house had been robbed and along with that her electronic valuables. She had no backups! Thankfully, she had some files on Google Drive, but her story reminded me of the importance of always having a backup of computer files.
I’ve been caught several times, too. Not by theft but by the inevitable crashing of hard drives in laptop computers. It only had to happen to me a couple of times to realize–using a backup service is essential to running my business!
Also, years ago one of my external drives had failed. One company quoted me $3,000 dollars to recover the data! Thankfully, a computer whiz I knew managed to restore the data for $75. That was a bargain!
And computer backup cloud services are a bargain, also!
Sure, you can do it yourself. For Macs, there is Time Machine. Um, can’t remember the last time I did it. Besides, if there was a disaster or a theft, most likely your external drives would be history, too!
So if you don’t want to go to the expense of a cloud service, at least backup your computer to a drive you will keep off site!
But suppose you are sold on the idea of paying for a service? Where do you turn?
Here are three companies that can help:
This is the service I have used for years. It’s a no brainer in that it automatically backs up my computer as I work on it. For one or two computers, it’s reasonable. The payments start at $59.99 annually so it’s easy on my budget.
The negatives are that when I did have a computer crash, recovering the files was not as smooth as I would have liked. Some files didn’t appear to work. But I managed to download everything that was important so I don’t think I lost much.
The other drawback is that the charge is per computer. However, if you purchase the office plan you can get unlimited backup for computers, devices, and external drives for $269.99 per year.
One more negative–if you are working on a file and then realize later you need to restore it to its original, it will be too late. The backup is actually so fast that whatever’s on your hard drive currently is what will be on the Carbonite cloud soon after. For those projects that you are continually working on, it would be beneficial to periodically backup these files independently to another cloud service (like iCloud. See below).
iDrive promises to be much more competitive. I like that I can backup all computers (Windows, Macs, external drives, and devices) in one account. It starts at $69.50 for the first year (but there is a sale as I write this so it is even less). It will even do older operating systems. And it has a 5 GB offer that is free. So you can try it and see if you like it.
I did try the free account awhile ago and I found it a bit more complicated to use than Carbonite. But I’m not sure I didn’t give it a fair shake. Considering the amazing deal I will probably try again! Read More→
As a parent who is self-employed or works from home, you are no stranger to the struggle of time management, multitasking and prioritization. Carving out that precious, uninterrupted time for yourself is a necessity to get anything done, but it requires a lot of juggling to get there, with school runs, snack prep and babysitter scheduling.
Most days it feels like you can barely keep your head above water, but somehow you still manage to get many of the most important things accomplished. However, there are many less time-sensitive to-dos that often get pushed down your priorities list that could really use some attention — like financial management. Here are three strategies to implement to make your money management more efficient and effective.
Stay on Top of Bookkeeping
It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day work duties and overlook seemingly simple tasks like bookkeeping. Then, all of a sudden, the year ends and you begin scrambling to file your taxes and realize that it’s been over six months since you last properly tracked your business expenses.
Avoid the headache of trying to get everything done at the last minute by automating your process as much as possible. Sign up for cloud-based software like QuickBooks Online or Xero to track all of your business expenses in a format that your accountant can easily work with. Choose a service that syncs with your business banking institution so that you can skip entering every line item manually and instead simply categorize and approve each expenditure before reconciling your records with your bank statement every month.
To avoid months of bookkeeping work piling up, create a recurring calendar event every month a few days after your monthly bank statement becomes available so you can update everything for the previous month. Typically, this will only need to take an hour or two.
Diversify Your Income Stream
For the majority of people, working on your own means forgoing a consistent paycheck in favor of flexibility. Sure, by the end of the year, you may even make more money than you would working for someone else, but that money is never really a sure thing until the work is complete and you get paid, making it somewhat unpredictable at times.
To balance things out and try to make your income a little more predictable, try diversifying your income stream. Choose a reliable form of income like renting out a real estate property that you own for a minimum a one-year lease. Or take advantage of a gig economy opportunity with a company that has a strong focus on creating jobs in the U.S., like Amway.
Create a Monthly Budget
If you thrive on structure, a monthly budget could really help you save more money while still covering all of your family’s basic needs. Since your income likely varies on a monthly basis, aim to underestimate your income and overestimate your expenses to help make sure there is money left over for your savings.
If possible, “pay yourself” first by putting a predetermined amount of money into a savings account or 401K at the beginning of every month before you start paying for other routine expenses. If you procrastinate doing so until later in the month, you’ll be less likely to actually put any of that money away and will often use it to pay for other less necessary expenses ahead of time.