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Do Life DifferentDo Life Different
Work-at-home mom: take a deep breath and Do Life Different as you allow these devotions for work-at-home moms to fill the vacuum of your needy heart in the chaos of your busy world.
 
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Archive for Articles

Jun
25

3 Keys to Persistence

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When in your life have you needed to be most persistent? Perhaps you have been looking for a job, pursuing a higher education degree, losing excess weight, training a puppy, raising a child, learning a new skill, writing a book, starting a business, developing a process, working to find sales, looking for something you lost, recovering from an injury, growing a garden, etc. In these examples, there is a difference between just making something happen in the moment. They all have a length of time in which a vision or goal is set and regular work is needed in order to obtain the desired outcome.

There are many characteristics and attributes of one who is persistent: determined, focused, hardworking, confident, motivated, open, adaptable, driven, etc. However, when thinking what persistence is really about, it is most present when faced with a true challenge requiring a person to dig deep within themselves to achieve something not easily attained. Persistence might be summarized by these three keys.

1. Hungry Vision. Clear sight or objective of something wanted or imagined.
2. Consistent Action. Regularly moving action forward.
3. Resilient Drive. Pushing through the obstacles or overcoming barriers.

First, Hungry Vision. The word vision is often used for future focus. “What is your vision for the day?” “What is your vision for the organization?” “What is your vision for your kids?” “What is your vision for the program?” Often we talk about vision as seeing the potential for something in order to design and create it. “Hungry vision” however is a deep inner desire and commitment to achieve something. It is not passively creating. It is not openly wandering. It is not a good intention or idealistic wish. It is an internal resonance to focus and attain success or master the challenge. You have to see it clearly. You know your “why?” You are clear on what success looks like and know it will take work. You are dedicated to doing what it takes to make it happen. This is the hungry part. It is an ever-present craving that keeps you focused on your vision.

Second, Consistent Action. It is not random action, action when you “feel” like it or action when it is convenient. Rather and more likely, it is the daily action that chips away a bit at a time toward the goal. An example is the little steps a baby makes learning to walk. There is usually failure and set back, but also effort, repetition, intentionality, and progress. It doesn’t happen with hit or miss activity. There is a dedicated and committed resolve to focus and move it forward.
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Categories : Articles, Jill's Blog
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Jun
21

Social Media for Small Businesses

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Social media has become an integral part of our day-to-day lives. Businesses of all size and shapes have started making the most of available mediums. Today we will try to anatomize tips on social media for small businesses. There are a plethora of small businesses eyeing social medium to promote their business/services. However, majorly these small businesses are failing or not being able to make optimum use of social media for their business growth. There are many theories and strategies on how to effectively use social media for established brands, but the topic social media for small businesses is seldom addressed. According to Digital state of eMarketing India 2017 Octane Research:

60% small businesses promote their business on social media. 50% focus on SEO and 35% use multichannel marketing funnel.
70% small businesses consider content strategy as their primary marketing activity.
52% business owners are using social media as to efficiently address customer engagement.
More than 20% of business owners said that they are making 50% plus profit using social media.

The primary reasons for the low turnout are uncertainty on an application of social media, calculating return on investment and persuade employees/stakeholders to clinch social media. Hence it is important to address the elephant in the room and analyze how beneficial is Social media for small businesses.

Social media for small businesses is a great way for emerging businesses to generate lead and build a reputation. If regularly updated, social media can deliver more results as compared to traditional mediums. Social media for small businesses gives brands an edge of control over the content that they want to post. Also, since social media is a two-way dialogue process, it helps businesses to instantly identify what is benefitting them. Social media for small businesses also helps generate Word of Mouth, which is one of the best tools for emerging businesses.

Social Media for small businesses | 10 Tips to effectively use Social Media

Define your Target Audience
The first and foremost important part that small businesses should focus on is to define their target audience. This helps small businesses to device their social media strategy accordingly. The target audience should be defined basis age group, sex, location, users’ online behaviors, their likes, interests, and preferences. For niche products, business owners can even target users based on their birthdays, anniversaries and important milestone. Audience targeting plays a very crucial role in the outcome of the results. For e.g.: a local shop selling footwear should not target users with interest in entertainment. The shop definitely won’t get the desired results.

Set achievable goals
Overnight success is a myth. Small businesses must understand this basic fact. Generally, when a new business starts selling on social media, there is palpable excitement is achieving more than set targeted sales. Businesses need to set goals which are upwards and forward. To achieve enormous goals, small businesses start updating social feed with multiple updates in shorter duration. This leads to user’s disinterest in the product/service. The set goals should be in sync with brand’s core capabilities and expertise. For e.g.: if a business is into selling shoes, they shouldn’t set a goal to repair maximum shoes in their area.

Choose the right medium
By now everyone knows, social media is for free. Even paid campaigns can be conducted at a relatively low cost as compared to traditional mediums. It is in this scenario, that we often see small businesses jumping the bandwagon and creating profiles on all the available platforms. Creating social profile doesn’t hamper brand image, but aggressively promoting a brand on wrong platforms can lead to brand losing its potential customers. Hence it is advisable for SME’s to first identify the right platform through which they can maximize their business. For e.g.: If a shoe selling brand tries to aggressively sell on LinkedIn, they won’t get a plausible response as compared to promotions on Facebook/Instagram.

Promote your core product/services
Since each and every business is riding in the social media wave, it is important for a them to promote their core product/services. Nowadays, we see a lot of businesses promoting their services as well as promoting peripheral products/services, which revolves around their core product/services. Majority of the times, this SME’s doesn’t have capabilities to fulfill a requirement, which can lead to a bad word of mouth for their business on social media platforms. Let us go back to our example; if a shoe seller is trying to aggressively promote socks instead of shoes, it is not going to benefit the business in the long run.

Create quality content
Now that we have covered the topics of identifying the target audience, setting achievable goals, choosing the right medium and promoting the right product/services let us now take a look at the type of content a business should promote on their social pages. A business should always focus on creating good quality content rather than not-good quantity content. Even if the business updates their page once in a day as long as it is relevant to their business, advocates about its core products send across a clear message it is considered as a good quality content. Antagonistically, if a business posts multiple updates which aren’t even relevant to the business’s products and services leads to users considering the business as fake/spam. Also, new businesses should try and refrain from promoting other businesses on their social platforms initially.

Create a content calendar
Making a small business successful on social platforms is no small task. It takes a lot of efforts for the businesses to keep up their conversion ratio. One such effort is to create a content calendar. Small businesses must anticipate important events and create a content calendar accordingly. Ideally, a content calendar must be planned a month in advance but an even weekly content calendar is highly recommended. This helps businesses to avoid any last minute hassles, strategize much more effectively and it also helps in creating curiosity amongst its loyal fans/customers.

Test and re-test
Social media is highly unpredictable. The content a business posts today, might not work for tomorrow. Hence, small businesses must always test their content before publishing it on their pages. Testing content also applies to the platform a small business chooses to promote. Small business owners must always don the consumer’s hat before posting about any product feature, updates, schemes or offers. A consumer’s perspective is the key when testing the content that has to be uploaded.

Look for inspiration
Small businesses must always look for inspiration from a competitor who is successful in the same category. Copy pasting competitors idea or content is not the answer. Small businesses must look for the kind of content its competitors are putting up and derive their own strategies subsequently. Inspiring content/stories always make a business to strive to create their own content that is appreciated by one and all. It helps in increasing brand consideration, brand visibility thereby increasing conversions for the business.

Calculate ROI
Even a small promotional budget is not justifiable if there is no mechanism to calculate its return on investment. It is more important in case of small businesses. It is very important for a small business to keep a tab on the budgets allocated to any promotions and the subsequent ROI related to it. If a certain promotion is not doing well or the business is not getting desired results, the brand custodian can always look for other platforms to generate quality conversions.

Analyze and Re-strategize
There can be umpteen instances where a particular campaign/promotion might not work for a business. That doesn’t mean that the promotion is wrong or the product/service is not good. Doing an analysis of the campaign is as important as setting the objective. This helps the business to formulate their upcoming strategies in more effective ways. At the end of every campaign, brands must note down the learning’s from that campaign and identify if the content/idea was appreciated by their fans or not. This helps businesses to skip the non-performing updates from future communications.

Final Thoughts
Social media for small businesses is definitely beneficial and fruitful. If followed correctly, small businesses can benefit tremendously from the power of social media promotions.

Read More→

Categories : Articles, Jill's Blog
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Jun
20

Vacation Time Again?

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Rev. James Snyder, Out to Pastor bloggerI beach vacationhad just finished my project, sent it to my publisher, took a deep breath and said out loud, “I’m glad that’s done. Now I can rest for a while.”

I must have said it aloud for someone in the house heard it. I need to explain that with the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage, it does not matter if you say it aloud, mumble it under your breath or just think it, she hears it.

I do not know how she does it and she will not give me her secret.

“So,” my wife said rather suspiciously, “ready to go on our vacation?”

I stuttered a little bit and said, “A what?”

That “V” word rarely resides between my two ears. I just never think of it. I am not a vacation fan. Sure, when the kids were home it was nice to get away and have some fun with them. However, that has been a long time ago. I think someone my age is just too old to go on vacation. What would be the purpose?

I am a little afraid that if I go on vacation, I might forget that I am on vacation and never return home and no one would ever see me again. You know how the memory is for us old guys. So, to be on the safe side, I do not think of vacation time.

“You know exactly what I mean,” my wife said rather sternly with one of her sly smiles. “We should begin making plans for our vacation before you begin your next project.”

She caught me off guard there. Under other circumstances, I might have responded by telling her that it was too late, I’ve already started my next project. I remember trying that once and I may be the writer, but she’s the reader and she always reads between the lines.

Then she began laying out her well thought out plans for what our vacation would be like.

I interrupted her and said as soberly as possible, “That would be nice, but I do not have any money to sponsor a vacation right now.”

All she did was laugh, which rather irritated me. Then she explained, “Don’t give that a thought. I have been saving for this vacation since last year. I have it all worked out.” Read More→

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Jun
19

Four Tips To Help You Become A More Productive Business Owner

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As a small business owner, you should know how precious your time is. You probably have a whole list of things that you need to get done each day, and another list of things you want to do but simply don’t have the time for. Because of this, it’s important that you find ways to make the most of the time you have and use it more productively. If you do this, you’ll get more done quicker, which means you’ll have some time free to work on the other list. If you want to be more productive running your small business, then here are four things you can try.

 

Cut Out Unproductive Meetings

Staff meetings can go one of two ways; They can either be incredibly productive and useful for keeping your team on track, or they can be a complete and utter waste of time. If you want to avoid wasting your time in these unproductive meetings, then you need to make sure that every one you run or attend has a purpose and a schedule. The ones that don’t will rarely accomplish anything, making them pointless for everyone who attends.

 

Stick To Important Tasks

Despite what some people claim, you shouldn’t be doing every little task for your business. In fact, you should even be doing most of them. Your job is to complete the most important tasks, and all of the others can be delegated to your team or outsourced to agencies. For example, you could hire one of the best SEO companies from Ignite Digital to handle your SEO. When you’ve cut down your to-do list, make sure that you start with the most urgent tasks first.

 

Try Not To Multitask

Multitasking generally seems like a great way to get more things done, as it suggests that you’re doing two tasks at the same time. However, in truth, trying to do two things at once slows you down massively, and makes it more likely that you make mistakes along the way. It makes a lot more sense to focus on one task at a time, put all of your efforts into that, finish it, take a short break, and then move onto a different one when you’re done.

 

Keep Healthy Snacks Close

Whether you realise it or not, you’re using a lot of energy at work, even if you stay sitting at a desk all day. If you want to avoid getting sick or tired, then you need to keep your energy levels up by eating when you’re hungry. This means that you should keep healthy snacks somewhere in your office so that you don’t have to stop working to go and find some food. You should also make sure that you eat a healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner every single day.

Running a small business takes up a lot of time, so it’s vital that you’re using yours as productively as you possibly can. Hopefully, with the tips above, you’ll be able to do just that, so that you have a bit more free time each day.

 

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Jun
15

4 Tips to Overcoming Procrastination in Your Business

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DananapProcrastination. Really, quite honestly it is one of my biggest weaknesses. It’s so easy for me to get caught up in Facebook or checking my email a hundred times per day or wasting my time just “putsing” around. It holds me back from accomplishing everything I need to accomplish and it definitely could hurt my brand if I let it continue.

In fact, if clients rely on you, procrastination can be a brand killer!

So how can we overcome procrastination? Perhaps these ideas will help us:

1) Take things in bite­size chunks.

It’s really easy for me to get overwhelmed with everything I need to do. I feel pulled in a million different directions. When that happens, I just want to chuck it all and do nothing or waste my time doing trivial things like spending excess time in Facebook.

The trick is to break projects down into small steps. Don’t overwhelm your “to­do” list with hundreds of items. That will only burden you down. This drag leads to avoidance behavior. Believe me, I am speaking from experience!

It’s so much better to concentrate on the three or four strategic things you need to do for your business rather than 20 things you think you have to do in a day. Be committed to get those few things done and then you can go on with a feeling of success. This will give you strength to tackle more.

Once you accomplish a few things, be sure to give yourself little rewards to keep yourself motivated. You might think of a huge reward when you finish a big project. Read More→

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Jun
14

A Merry Heart Doeth Good

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Rev. James Snyder, Out to Pastor bloggerWith all the sad news in our country recently, it is about time for some good news. However, the way things are going I am not going to hold my breath.

We just finished supper and the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and I was watching a little bit of television. We like to try to catch up on the news after a day of working.

I well remember the time when the “world news” was only broadcast for 30 minutes, which was broken up by commercials. It is hard to get all the news that is worth hearing together for 30 minutes. Back in “the day,” the commentators were able to do it. At least we did not hear about all the news of the day, which was a blessing.

It is a different story today. We hear news from around the world all day long. In fact, some television channels are devoted exclusively to news 24/7. The problem with that is 99.9% of the news is bad news. Good news does not have much of a place on television. We are too busy these days to listen to good news.

We had just settled down to catch up and some of the news and I was not paying too much attention. The way I am, I can watch the news and not hear anything they are saying. My wife, on the other side of the room, hears every word the news commentators are talking about.

We were relaxing, enjoying some coffee while watching the TV. I was drifting off into Whatever Land and just chilling. It was then that I heard from across the room some gasping.

“What is wrong with people?” And, “Don’t they know to do any better?” And, “What does all that violence solve?”

I looked over at my wife and saw her grimacing at the TV. Every once in a while she would shake her head and make some kind of a moaning sound.

I knew not to interrupt her Grimacing Moment and allowed her to have her space. After all, everybody needs a little bit of personal space.

“I can’t believe,” she said most disgustingly, “that he actually said that! What is wrong with that person?”

I did not need to tell her that we live in a very crazy world. A world that has lost all sense of sanity. Unless you are insane these days, you are not going to get along with anybody.

At this point in the evening, I certainly did not want to get into a discussion about how crazy our world was. I have ridden in this rodeo before and I am not ready for another ride.

My wife and I agree on many things and this is one of them. Anger, hatred and violence never solve anything. What we need today is a little more laughter. Read More→

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Jun
12

Summer Tips for Mom Who Work From Home

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Finding Simplicity as a SAHM by Adrina PalmerSummer is here. My three kids have been out of school for a full week and we are getting into a routine. I would love to sleep in now that I do not have to wake up and get the kids off to school but my cat is adamantly against me changing her eating schedule to an hour later. Is it legal or effective to duck tape a cats mouth shut? Sometimes she is lenient and lets me sleep until eight. Only if I am a good girl which apparently is not often. Moving on.

What I want to talk about is the sun. I do not let my kids outside (if I can help it) between the hours of noon and four pm for playing or recreation outside, including the pool. Reason number one: my daughter has freckles and red hair. She is more likely to burn… and fast! She also does not tan. Bri is like me. We are ghostly white or lobster red, with little in between. The other two midgets tan to a beautiful golden tan like their father and do not burn as easily. Freckle-Face does not want more freckles, so my hubby and I have put a few summer rules in place.

* No going outside, for more than a few minutes, between the hours of noon and four pm.
* If you are going outside, wear a hat.
* Sunblock is your smelly best friend.
* Pool time is before 10 am or after 4 pm because the sun loves the pool too.
* One hour in the pool and then some time in the shade.

With our summer rules, my children completely avoided sunburns last year. We also avoid places like amusement parks in the summer. They are much more tolerable and fun in the spring or the fall. Trying to explain to my kids they still need sunblock if it’s not summer is a yearly conversation if you are staying outside. Read More→

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Jun
11

The Top Four To-Do’s of Successful VA’s

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Pebbles Jacobo, All Things VA bloggerI have had a lot of experiences in building my company from the ground up and refining my skills and services. From my experiences and education, I have a lot to share which may help with your own virtual assistant (VA) business. Here are my top “do’s” to begin with:

Do Communicate With Your Clients: Communication ensures you and your client are on the same page, tracking with the same line of thinking. This goes a long way in building a rapport with clients which will have them coming back for more. Repeat clients are additional revenue.

Do the Social Media Marketing and Networking Dance:  Social media marketing is, in the words of Diana Ennen, “is here to stay.” It is a free method of marketing and getting the word out about your VA services. Social media marketing, if done correctly, also is a way of establishing your expertise in your field.

Do Schedule Your Time: Believe it or not, scheduling your time in regards to clients and tasks will not only reveals hidden pockets of time, but also help you stay on target. This will serve you well as the more on target you stay, the more productive and the more money you can make.

Read More→

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Jun
08

3 Print Promotional Ideas to Skyrocket Your Marketing and Sales!

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DanaIn mJb165Ithese days of Internet marketing, it is easy to forget about old-­fashioned methods. No, they are not dead!

In fact, think about this: what do you receive in your mailbox? Junk and bills, right? So perhaps you can stand out above the crowd through some direct mail campaigns targeted to your audience. May these ideas get you started!

1) Postcards

Postcards are an extremely effective way to introduce yourself to prospects, especially in a localized area. Relatively inexpensive, they also offer a lower rate when it comes to mailing services.

Want to introduce your products or services? Then this is a perfect way to give a shout out to local businesses or individuals that you exist. Don’t know where to start? Check with your library! They usually have databases that you can use to help you target a list. Then you can follow up with a phone call a few days after the postcard is received. And that will mean you won’t be strictly cold calling, which will be more effective in the long run.

2) Notecards

Sending notecards is a more personalized method of promoting your products or services. This is especially helpful for current customers. After all, they are your best customers.

Using notecards is the first major marketing campaign my husband will employ in his new endeavor as a full time self­employed architect (yes, he now works at home!). I designed special notecards that included his branding and one of his best drawings on the cover.  He will write personal notes (with my help) to construction and engineering firms around the state to announce that he is open for business. He will then follow up with a phone call or email or both. Read More→

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Jun
07

Leading When You’re Wrong

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leadwhenwrongBrad Washburn, Do the Dad Thing bloggerHere’s one of the famous quotes and jokes from my Dad:

“I don’t make mistakes.  Except for that one time that I thought I made a mistake . . .  but it turned out that I didn’t . . . so that was actually a mistake.”

That’s the point when my sister, my mom, and I would groan.

Unlike my Dad, I DO make mistakes.  I made a big one a few months ago.  It was my job to handle the tithe portion of our budget.  Every month I take our tithe amount from the budget and PayPal donate it.  It’s not a big job.  I usually just set an alarm in my calendar, then on the designated day, send some $$ through PayPal.

But, I did some reformatting of my email, and, then reinstalling of my e-mail management program . . .  and lost my handy little calendar reminder.

You readers might have great capacities for memory, but I would actually lose my head if it wasn’t attached.  So, you can see where this is going:  Three months I forgot to send out the tithe.

Doesn’t sound like a big deal yet?  But you have to understand, the Washburns aren’t sitting on piles of dough.  My work in ministry and writing doesn’t put us on the Fortune list, and my wife’s steady (thank God for steady) job doesn’t either.  So that designated tithe money sitting in the account . . . got spent.

Yes, yes, the fact that I can’t tell you from our budget where that money was spent is probably also my fault.  I’m lumping it all into the same screw up.

But the point of this article is that I still had to lead even though I screwed up.  And being a good Christian Dad leader means that we tithe.  So that sacrifice of our first fruits of paychecks was still required.  But yet we had spent the money.

. . . and that’s when the fight started.

Actually it wasn’t much of a fight.  All my wife’s accusations of me mishandling funds and calendar were true.  But that fact that the Washburns had to come up with 3 months of tithe, because of my screw up . . .  Yes there was some ‘heated discussion.’

My fellow Dads, this is where I can’t emphasize enough that it’s really tough to lead, to ask your family to ‘dig deep’ and sacrifice, when we ourselves are to blame.  But there is NO WHERE in Scripture that says we quit leading just because we made a mistake.  We are men, and heads of family and marriage whether we are perfect or not.  So my only ‘take away points’ are ones that I’ve learned the hard way:

Admit it.  Take responsibility when you are wrong.  In this situation the resulting fight would have went on a LOT longer if I was unnecessarily trying to defend myself.  This is a great thing for our kids to see also; taking responsibility in a mature way.

  1. Remember that as Christians and Dads we are not alone.  God is with us.  Just like He promised the Israelites in Deuteronomy 31:6 – “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
  2. Remember that as Christians and Dads our family is “our people” — when Solomon prays for “wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (1 Chronicles 1:10), he’s not just talking about the nation of Israel; he’s’ talking about families like ours.  Your people are yours and you are not alone — even if they complain.  Yes, even if they complain a LOT
  3. The Bible is pretty clear that being a Christian and a Dad is going to be tough.  The Devil’s schemes are against us (Eph 6:10), and we are encouraged to not be weary of doing good (Gal 6:9) — why would we need such encouragement if God didn’t know that it was going to be hard?
  4. You will come out of it and it will be better.  Yes, we finally paid the tithe I had missed.  We are still surviving, and, as my waistline is showing, no one has starved to death.  In fact, we all noticed some unexplained blessings that made the extra financial amount easier to handle during the last several months.  I can honestly say it was an example to my wife, and to me, of how God has a Master Plan.

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