CWAHM Devotional

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

Nov
29

Continuing Your VA Education, Part 2

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In my last post I shared about continuing your education and adding to your skill set as a virtual assistant. One can do this through non-traditional means with online groups, blogs, books, and webinars. Today I’d like to add to that list with additional methods of continuing education and include links to get you going in the right direction.

Additional Methods of Expanding One’s Skill Set

Mentorship – A lot can be learned from someone who has ‘been there and done it.’ Often times the hardest part is finding the right mentor for you. A few virtual assistant mentors I recommend checking out include: Diana Ennen, Tracey D’Aviero, Lisa Wells, Donna Toothaker and Kelly Poelker.

Online Courses – There are tons of online courses out there specifically for virtual assistants. Some come with certificates, some with accreditation while others simply come with the satisfaction of learning something new and gaining a new skill. Whatever the case be, don’t overlook this tool. I once took a 4-week social media marketing course through. Accredited – no. Game changer – yes! Now I have clients that seek me out specifically to handle their social media marketing efforts.

Research – When I started out as a VA I had a limited skill set. Often times clients needed specific tasks completed which I was unfamiliar with and they had no time to learn to do themselves, so I pulled up my big-girl panties and dove right in. I researched until I knew the task, program or subject inside out, then I researched some more. It’s great to have people tell us how to do things, but until we actually look it up for ourselves and do it, how will we really learn. Research. Research. Research. You can never go wrong by going old-school and sticking your nose in a book or looking something online through a search engine. Personally, my favorite search engine is Google, but others include Bing, Yahoo, Ask, and DogPile.

New Blog Series – I have found that when I make a commitment to do something, especially with other people relying on me, it becomes more real to me. I go the extra mile to ensure I know what I am talking about. I encourage you to try that. Say you want to add event planning as a skill. Start a new blog series. Share your adventure with what you are learning with your new topic/skill at hand. You never know what you can learn by forcing yourself to stretch. As an added bonus, the feedback you receive from your readers can send you over the top with knowledge and advice.

Read More→

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Nov
28

Work as Worship

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Is your Monday different than your Sunday? Or, in other words, are you worshiping God through the week the same way you do at church on Sunday morning?

It can be hard at times to see our work as a form of worship, but Dorothy Sayers, in her Essay “Why Work,” says just that:

“Let the church remember this: that every maker and every worker is called to serve God in his profession on trade – not outside it … The only Christian work is good work well done.”

Isn’t that freeing? It isn’t supposed to be God OR work. We are called to worship God through our work. Every beautiful thing we create, every item we sell, every customer we interact with … it’s all meant to be well done – to the best of our abilities as an offer to God.

For many years I struggled with the pressure I felt running CWAHM. I felt that it was somehow “not good enough” no matter where I looked. In the eyes of the business world, I’m certainly small potatoes – not to mention that I have a Biblical Counseling degree, not a business degree. And in the eyes of the Christian world I wasn’t “Christian enough” because I talk about selling and marketing and business.

But, God has brought me to a place where I can see that by living out my calling – the calling that HE has given me – I am glorifying Him. I may never be “enough” in anyone else’s eyes, but I’m working for an audience of One and He is the only opinion that counts. Read More→

Nov
27

Entrepreneur Tips – Things to Consider Before Starting Your Business

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Diana Ennen, Virtual Marketing bloggerHere are several things to consider before starting your business

1) Costs – Know it all. Research and ask questions. Find out not just about the normal operating costs, but what else might be required. Write it all down and plan accordingly. Have money for several months or plan to work part-time. Too many fail because they don’t have the money to succeed.

2) Marketing – Most businesses don’t work without marketing effectively. Be sure you know how you will market this business and also that you have the expertise to do it. If not, get reading or be prepared to hire someone. Be prepared before you start and have that plan ready to go.

3) Be passionate – That’s the only way to keep going and face those odds, exhaustion and temptation to throw in the towel. You aren’t going to love what you do every day, but on the whole you have to believe in it and want to continue doing it. Read More→

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Nov
24

Thanksgiving Perspective

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Do you feel like a success?

As work-at-home moms it’s easy to get caught up in the “look what she has accomplished” mindset and fail to see all that God has done in our own lives and businesses.

We need to shift our perspectives from “What I want to accomplish?” to “WOW! Look what God has done!”

Thanksgiving is upon us and this seems like the perfect time of year to think about how God sees you and your success. Do you believe that He wants you to succeed?

May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.

Believe it or not, the sentence above is a quote directly from Scripture – Psalm 20:4. If our hearts are right with God, we are on track for success in life. Now, this may not mean that each of us can be a millionaire, but it does mean that God wants to lead us down the path to success.

We must, however, keep in mind that God’s idea of success in our lives may not look exactly like the version we see in our heads. God first and foremost wants us to be the person that He created us to be; to live a life of sacrifice, obedience and love. We can’t simply hoard our money and resources for ourselves, living in fear that we won’t have enough,  hoping that God will bless that. God calls us to a much bigger belief than that!He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless.

This proverb (see Proverbs 2:7) is a powerful reminder that our God is a God of justice. He “holds success” for the upright.

Does that mean wicked people can’t be successful? No.

We must look at the sentence following and be reminded that God is our shield – if we trust in Jesus. Only by trusting in the person and power of Jesus can we be seen as “blameless in God’s sight.” (1 Corinthians 1:8)

You see, God looks at us much differently than we look at ourselves. We see our sins, failures and shortcomings. However, when we believe in Jesus as our salvation, God sees us as blameless. What freedom there is in that truth!

There are other areas of life where we need a perspective change as well. You see, many of us, especially Americans see ourselves as poor.  We makes comments like, “I’m so broke.”  I’ve been guilty of this more times than I can count. But I recently had a wake-up call as to how God sees my financial status. Read More→

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Nov
23

From No Bookkeeping to Efficient Accounting- Getting-Started Tips

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Whether you are a professional working from home or an entrepreneur running a small business, managing your business finances properly is a must. The success of your business depends on how well you manage your finances. Unfortunately, a lot of home business owners and professionals still aren’t taking accounting and financial management seriously.

If you’ve been running a business without proper accounting, now is the perfect time to get started. I know how challenging doing accounting can be, especially if this is your first time. To help you get started, here are some of the best tips you can use right away.

Separate Your Accounts

The first thing you need to do when you’re making that transition from no bookkeeping to having an efficient way of doing accounting is separating the accounts. Keeping personal and business finances separate is a necessity regardless of the kind of business you’re running.

Create a new account for the business and allocate a certain amount of money into the account as a starting point. Don’t worry too much about the amount; you just need to focus on getting started with separating your accounts.

Once the new account is established, all business income must go to that account and all expenses need to be paid using the funds available in that account as well. if there are expenses you can’t pay because there is not enough money in the account, you have two options.

First, you can choose to give a loan from your personal account to the business account and repay that loan later. Alternatively, you can deposit money as an additional equity for the business and keep that amount in the business account.

Get Help

Separating your accounts is only the first challenge. The next one is getting your books in order. For this, the best way to go is by getting some help.

Accounting is very standardized, which means you can use a software to help you do bookkeeping for the business. Choose a software that you’re comfortable with the most and start tracking your expenses accordingly.

You can also get the help of an accountant or accounting students. Many students pursuing their bachelors of accounting from universities such as Maryville University help small business owners with their accounting as a way to earn more money.

The relationship may even continue after they completed their online bachelors of accounting degree. You always have the help you need to keep the business’s finances in order.

Stick to a System

At this point, you’ll be busy tracking your expenses and income while making sure that every business activity is documented properly in the system. All you have to do now is stick to a system that you’ve selected and be consistent.

I know how tempting it is to delay doing some bookkeeping; responding to comments on social media is a lot more fun, isn’t it? Unfortunately, this type of procrastination will only make it more difficult to maintain the business’s finances in the long run.

You now have the top three tips to help you get started with doing accounting for your business or home office. Don’t wait any longer. Get started today and get your books in order.

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Nov
22

grat * i * tude

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grat * i * tude \grat’i tood’, -tyood\

n: the quality or feeling of being thankful < She showed her gratitude for her husband’s romantic gesture by letting him watch ESPN all afternoon. > The quality of being thankful or grateful – Syn. Thanks, Thankfulness, Appreciation, Gratefulness.

This is the dictionary.com definition of gratitude. For some reason, we spend quite a bit of time talking about what we are grateful around Thanksgiving, but why should we limit our gratitude to just one day (or month) of  the year.

Last year, I read a great article in Real Simple on this very subject of Gratitude that I really enjoyed and love to share with people who need that extra boost of motivation (or reminder) of why it’s important to be grateful.

Oprah talks frequently of living a life of gratitude and that not enough people do it. We get so wrapped up in our own drama or chaos that we forget about being grateful or thankful for all that we have. America is of course the the land of excess…

How does it happen that we loose track of our priorities? Getting back to what really is important is what I have feel this time of year is all about. Knowing what defines you and what you can truly express gratitude for!

I am grateful for….

…Gods grace and the many blessings we have had this past year.

… Our family and especially for my husband and all that he has done for our us!

… Our good health and how the kids have managed to dodge a few cold bullets recently.

And finally… Our freedom, that each day I can make choices for myself and my children. That I have the opportunity to experience all these things that I am grateful for!

What are you grateful for?

Read More→

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Nov
21

As The Cookie Crumbles, So Do My Excuses

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Rev. James Snyder, Out to Pastor bloggerAs the Cookie Crumbles, So Do My Excuses by Dr. James SnyderSeveral weeks ago, I was at home alone when the doorbell rang. I answered the door to find representatives from a local Girl Scout troop doing what they do so well; selling Girl Scout cookies.

The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage was not home so danger was not lurking behind the living room curtains. When Girl Scouts come selling cookies, I am cookie dough in their fund-raising hands.

“Hello, mister,” they chimed, “We’re selling cookies to raise money for ….” I immediately interrupted and exclaimed, “Yes, yes, I’ll take all you have!”

When the passion of the moment passed, I did not need a fortune cookie to know I was going to be in big trouble with the wife, one tough cookie. Catching me with my hand in the cookie jar is serious business with her.

After all, 27 boxes of Girl Scout cookies are rather difficult to conceal, let alone explain. I was about to toss my cookies when an idea presented itself. What I needed was a good surefire excuse.

Excuses, which are a way of life for many people, have been around as long as mankind. In fact, it was the first man, Adam, who invented the pass-the-buck phenomenon for the benefit of all those who would follow him.

It occurred in the Garden of Eden, if you remember your Bible stories, just after Eve encountered the serpent, enticing her to eat of the forbidden fruit. Eve immediately baked an apple pie a la mode for Adam.

When God confronted Adam with the situation, Adam immediately said, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” This, then, was the beginning of excuse-making to get out of a difficult situation.

Although a man may have invented excuse-making, it took a woman to develop it into an art form. Men, you see, are too literal and unsophisticated to develop a series of plausible excuses.

For example, a man will say, “Bob, my wife won’t let me go fishing with you next Sunday,” and it stops there. Nothing needs to be added, Bob knows exactly what the score is. After all, he has been there with his own wife.

Women feel compelled to introduce the element of emotion into every situation. Why is it that women are more gifted than men when it comes to making believable excuses? I certainly don’t know the answer, and that’s the only excuse I can think of at the moment.

Getting back to those Girl Scout cookies, I knew I needed to come up with some excuse or better yet, several excuses to explain why I bought 27 boxes of cookies when I’m not supposed to eat cookies.

Because I’m just a man, the only excuse I could come up with was “the Devil made me do it.”

Unfortunately, my wife did not accept that excuse and I immediately knew I was in trouble. Exasperated, my wife decided to help me come up with a list of viable excuses to use the next time Girl Scouts with cookies knock on the parsonage door.

Reasons I can’t buy cookies:

* My mother made me eat cookies when I was young.

* I only eat cookies at Christmas and Easter.

* I don’t believe in eating packaged cookies.

* I’m satisfied with watching people on TV eat cookies.

* I’m too busy to eat cookies. Try another time.

* I don’t have any good clothing to wear while eating cookies.

* I’m too old and cookies really are for the young.

* I don’t believe cookies really exist.

* I don’t eat cookies. I prefer donuts.

* I’m afraid the roof will fall in if I eat cookies.

 

* My wife and I cannot agree on which cookie we like.

To put it mildly, I was impressed with the growing list of excuses my wife was able to come up with in such a short period. It showed she had practiced this art form for many years. I never could have come up with such a list on my own.

Read More→

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Nov
20

Money Management Tips for Virtual Assistants & Small Business Owners

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Diana Ennen, Virtual Marketing blogger

Money management is one of those topics many virtual assistants and small business owners routinely put off and hope for the best. It’s front and center on the mind on April 1st in anticipation of the April 15th tax deadline, but then it goes straight to the back burner for the rest of the year. Bookkeeping and money management are best practiced year-round. When done this way, it gives you rewards of more money, more peace of mind, and above all else, a happy IRS!

Smart business owners know the importance of good money management and apply tactics in their business to actually help them. The following tips are sure to help:

Be Smart And Continually Learn More – Learn as much as you can from the get go. It’s often said it’s not how much money you earn, but what you do with it that counts. Totally applies to business decisions regarding money management and budgeting. Follow those you know on social media who offer business and money tips. Read all you can and know that especially in March and April many will be posting more business tips. When you see a tip you like, keep it and see how it can apply to your own business.

Track Your Income and Expenses – Seems silly to state the obvious here, but you’d be surprised at the number of business owners who haven’t got a clue about their operating costs, net income/loss, cash flow—none of it. It’s easy to see all of the income and expenses you incur on a regular basis if you keep records and write everything down. Don’t close your eyes (and your Quickbooks file) and hope things works out. By writing everything down or entering it into accounting software, you are well aware of your business status and can then plan business finances and make smart decisions on a regular basis.

If you don’t have accounting software that’s okay… log it all in a binder or Excel spreadsheet. For large purchases (anything over $100) include item description, use in business, date purchased, what you paid, and any model or serial numbers. Then you have an accurate accounting of items for tax purposes, an insurance record, and for software user licenses.

Budget for The Year Ahead & Start Making Good Choices – Create a budget and stick with it as best you can. Be honest and know that each year you will get better at this. Put away money for taxes. Save for expenses. And don’t buy things you can’t afford. Review this budget throughout the year. Honestly nothing beats looking at your budget and realizing how well you are doing.

Also, know that with your virtual assistant business, income might differ month to month. On those rock’n months, put extra away to compensate for any slower months or invest it back into your business.

Review Your Books Monthly – How much did you make? How much did you spend? Were these smart decisions or are there ways you can improve. While many business owners review their accounts monthly, they don’t spend time looking for ways to improve. That’s where the magic happens. By reviewing and analyzing them you also see if you need to make major business adjustments and also can identify trends so you can plan accordingly for upcoming years.

This cannot only save you money, it will also allow you to see if there are any mistakes. Yes, mistakes happen. For example, were any automatic payments taken out that shouldn’t have and more? While you are reviewing these, take a minute to consider if you are fully utilizing the services you are paying for. Is there a cheaper alternative that can still give you similar results?

Pay Yearly When Possible – If you know you have ongoing expenses, whenever possible pay for the year instead of making monthly payments. This can save you a considerable amount of money as normally businesses give discounts for annual payments. Web hosting is a good example of this. Look for other cost saving tips as well. Read More→

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Nov
17

What Type of Mom are You Based on Your Thanksgiving Choices?

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I had fun making this quiz!

Let me know which type of mama you are!

1. What food do you let your children help to cook?
A. Cranberry Sauce. They only have to open a can.
B. Green Bean Casserole. The dish is easy to make and looks so pretty when finished.
C. Mashed Potatoes. I don’t want to peel all of those potatoes.
D. Stuffing. My child can break up all the bread and go nuts with the spices and broth.

2. Choose your favorite Turkey day dessert:
A. Chocolate Cream Pie
B. Pecan Pie
C. Pumpkin Pie
D. Apple Pie

3. What is your favorite scripture to read before diving in to all that turkey and stuffing?
A. Colossians 4:2 “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.”
B. Psalm 100:4 “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!”
C. Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God.
D. Psalm 50:14 “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High.”

4. Pick a veggie to add color to the table:
A. Peas
B. Corn
C. Asparagus
D. Brussel Sprouts

5. What will you be drinking once your belly is full of turkey?
A. Coffee. I need the caffeine to stay awake.
B. Apple Cider. There is always room for cider.
C. Pumpkin Spice Latte to fill my pumpkin fix until the pumpkin pie is served.
D. Black Tea for a moment of relaxation.

6. How will you use the leftovers?
A. Turkey Sandwiches
B. What leftovers?
C. What? Put the leftover on a plate and stick them in the microwave.
D. Turkey Bone Soup

7. What movie will be on in the background as you cook up some deliciousness?
A. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
B. Whatever is Playing on the Hallmark Movie Channel
C. A Christmas Story
D. Ha! Like my husband is going to let me have the TV when the game is on!

8. What time will you serve your feast?
A. At 3 pm sharp, whether everyone is there or not.
B. When the food is done.
C. Regular dinner time. I need all day to work up an appetite as big as this meal.
D. When everyone gets here and all the food is ready.

9. Appetizers to prep for the big meal?
A. Why would you do that? Did you see how big that turkey is?
B. I put a cheese and cracker plate out but why would you waste your stomach space on pre-game eating?
C. Bring it on. I can handle tons of appetizers, three full plates, and two pies by myself!
D. Well, I mean we have to have deviled eggs…

10. What do you eat first?
A. Gotta eat the stuffing first. I don’t save the best for last.
B. Turkey so I can swirl it around to catch tidbits and gravy.
C. Dinner roll, its like a pushup for my belly.
D. A mountain of mashed potatoes smothered in a volcano of gravy.

11. What meat needs to be on your plate?
A. Dark meat so the force will be with me.
B. White meat because, duh.
C. Why waste precious space on turkey when I can eat stuffing?
D. Tofurkey because we need a little healthy on this day of indulgence.

12. Who says the prayer before you tuck in?
A. The whole family takes a turn saying what they are thankful for and a quick thanks to God for providing.
B. I do. Short and sweet. God can smell the food and is welcome to grab a plate.
C. We each say a silent prayer, but no one eats until everyone is done praying.
D. One of the Grandparents says a thirty minute prayer as the food gets cold. Read More→

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Nov
16

What to Do When You Lose Motivation

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Dana Susan Beasley, Branding for Success bloggerWhat to Do When You Lose Motivation by Dana Susan BeasleyLet’s face it. Building a business isn’t easy. There really is no magic pill out there.

So how can you keep motivated to keep increasing your brand recognition when you feel burnt out?

First of all, take a look at your marketing plan. Does it include tasks that you dread? Do you have enough tasks in your plan that you truly enjoy?

For me, I’ve found that I need to concentrate my marketing plan on what I’m really passionate about. That includes Facebook, writing articles, radio shows, and producing videos, just to name a few. It’s easy to get so spread out with all the marketing options available that you spread yourself too thin! Try concentrating on what you really love to do and apply yourself wholeheartedly to those projects. You might find yourself having new motivation to do the work of increasing your brand awareness.

Training is another key way to keep motivated. Is this something you are investing in on a regular basis? Training is an investment in you. Gaining new skills is so important when building a business. The Internet is full of many opportunities for training. In fact, several years ago I decided that I was going to create my own home study course. I have learned so much! And the exciting thing is there is still so much to learn!

You may want to go even deeper than training and find a coach. A coach can help you grow by leaps and bounds! Again, there are many, many coaches that “hang their shingle out” on the Internet!

You may want to take a step back. Be sure to create time for yourself. Be with your family. Enjoy life. So often as entrepreneurs, we get caught up in our work so much that we forget to live! Take a breath and enjoy the process! I did this very thing a few weekends ago. I attended a woman’s retreat in the mountains far from my home. I felt at first that I was missing out on an opportunity to work. After all, my projects don’t get done by themselves! But I found I needed the time to reconnect with the Lord. He did some major work in me that I know will help me in my business. He also brought about some divine business appointments that I could never bring about myself! Read More→

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