Archive for Mixing Faith & Business
Working from home can be challenging. You must be a self-starter and willing to really push yourself, set deadlines for yourself, and make things happen. Here are some ideas on making the best use of your time:
Get A Plan
Planning is my favorite stage of organization. I get to brainstorm and dream about what God may have for me in the coming weeks and months. One of the ways that I plan best is in talking things over with someone – a friend of colleague who is willing to listen and give ideas.
I know other business owners who keep a whiteboard in their office. On the board, they list dreams that they have for their business, action steps they can take to get there and even sometimes a timeframe of when each step needs to be completed.
Write It Down
I’ve learned over the years that my plans never get anywhere unless I write them down and give them a timeline. This can be done online with tools like Google Calendar, Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) or collaborative tools like PBWorks.
While I do use these tools, I’ve found that what works best for me is the good old paper planner. I pick one up in the dollar section at Target at the start of each year and use it to keep appointments straight. I use a Monthly Planner because I can see the whole month at a glance, which keeps me from overbooking myself. It also has a place in the sidebar to keep notes, which comes in handy if there are specific things that I need to remember throughout the month. The planner fits in my purse so I can easily pull it out and add new appointments wherever I am.
Keep a List
I love lists. I have stacks of tiny pieces of paper and notebooks full of lists I’ve made to track projects that I want to complete and things I need to do. Unfortunately, a mound of paper doesn’t help me stay on top of tasks.
I’ve found that having one big notebook – the kind that has dividers – is the simplest way to keep track of my lists. I have a section for each major project I’m working on. Then, I can keep a list of regular tasks (sometimes a daily list, sometimes weekly) stuck to the front page of each project’s section. Once those tasks are done, I simply remove the sticky note, make up a new list of tasks and stick in where the other was. This keeps me focused and I get the satisfaction of crossing each task off the list. Read More→
Not long ago I was talking with a coaching client about her fears and doubts in regards to leaving the corporate world and working from home. She was sharing with me her concerns about bringing in enough money, making the right contacts and how just getting her new business off the ground was causing her to feel completely overwhelmed.
As we talked, a verse that I had read earlier in the week, 1 Corinthians 16:13, came to mind and I realized that it can be applied to our work-at-home fears and doubts as well as our spiritual ones.
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.
1 Corinthians 16:13
Be On Your Guard
I think it’s imperative that we remember that we must be on guard. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the concerns of this world – our business, our family, etc – and take for granted that we are in a spiritual battle. If we’re doing what God has called us to do, our enemy does NOT want us to succeed. We must be aware of the lies he feeds us, the worry he works to create in our lives and the utter hopelessness that he tries to convince us is reality.
When we’re aware of the battle raging around us, we can cling to God’s truths and stand firm in our faith. There are days I find myself repeating hope-giving verses out loud to help me stand firm. Verses like these:
I will never leave you nor forsake you. Hebrews 13:5
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
When I have God’s truth on my lips and in my heart, I’m filled with courage. The key here is that being courageous is a choice. We can choose to sink into the defeated mindset that the enemy tries to create. Or we can choose to rely upon the Holy Spirit and be courageous even in the face of overwhelming odds.
There will be times in business when it seems like no matter what you do, you can’t succeed. But, we know that isn’t the truth. We must be courageous and walk through these times, trusting that God will provide and that He has our best in mind – even when we can’t see it. Read More→
According to the latest American Community Survey data, there are approximately 2.8 million people, not including the self employed or unpaid volunteers, who consider home their primary place of work. The current American economy has created the need for companies to cut back as much as possible. This has created growth in the work-at-home industry as it allows companies to save on expenses like office space, equipment, and insurance costs.
However, the telecommuting world can be a hard place to get your foot in the door. Linda Dickerhoof, Public Relations Director at VIPDesk, one of the leading virtual concierge and virtual customer service providers in the United States, reports that they receive as many as two hundred resumes a day. With that kind of competition, it’s imperative that you stand out from the crowd.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when applying for telecommuting employment.
Do Your Research – This is, by far, the most crucial aspect of your work-at-home job search. There are many legitimate companies that hire at-home employees. However, in order to weed out at-home job scams, you need to know what “red flags” to look for. A legitimate work-at-home opportunity won’t ask you for any sort of “affiliation fee,” nor will they send you any type of list of employers to contact.
A legitimate opportunity will also not offer an unrealistic salary. The ads that you see offering $5k/wk with no experience usually are just what they sound – too good to be true. Avoid work-at-home opportunities advertised via infomercials, signs taped to a lamp-post, stop signs or via spam e-mail. Always check with the Better Business Bureau to see what type of reputation the company you are considering has, then follow up with an Internet search to see what is being said about the company in blogs, on twitter, and in the mainstream media.
Tailor Your Resume – Applying for a working-at-home position should be treated just like any other job application process. The company may allow you to work from home, but they will not tolerate an unprofessional attitude. In fact, it’s highly unlikely that your resume will be selected if it’s anything less than top-notch.
In order to get ahead, put together a professional resume outlining your job experience and highlighting any special skills or training applicable to the position you’re applying for. Keep your resume to one page, if possible.
Interviews Are Important – The interview process is more critical than usual in the work-at-home world because the interviewer will not be meeting you face to face. Most at-home employers have a strenuous screening process to filter out applicants who do not fit the professional standards required.
Prepare ahead of time for questions not only about your employment background, but also about what your home work environment will be like (they do not want to hear animals or children in the background). Interviewers will be listening intently to how you present yourself over the phone, so be as prepared and professional as possible. Read More→
Every business owner has times of frustration. When nothing seems to go right and every customer seems to be displeased. So, how do we find inspiration to move forward during these times? Here are a few ideas:
1. Talk To Someone
Sometimes the best way to get the frustration out is to simply talk about it. That may mean coffee with a close friend or it may mean making an appointment with a counselor. Either way, find a trusted person to talk with and who will give you godly advice.
2. Listen To Inspiring Music
There are certain songs that lift my spirits when I find myself “in a funk.” For me, tunes from Christian artists like Toby Mac, Britt Nicole and Lecrae are what get my foot tappin’. Find what works for you and make a point to really listen to the words and enjoy the music. Let it lift you out of the doldrums.
3. Do Something For Yourself
I know this goes against the grain for many of us, but there really does come a time when it’s okay to do something for yourself that you enjoy. It may be getting a pedicure, going out to lunch with a friend, or even grocery shopping by yourself (you moms out there know what I mean by this one).
4. Do Something For Someone Else
This one seems counter-productive. How can do something for someone else help ME? But it’s amazing how helping someone really does bless the giver as much as the recipient. If you enjoy cooking, make a meal for someone who is struggling. If you like to clean, help a new mom get some of her household chores under control.
5. Take Yourself To The Movies
This one seems almost silly, but movies truly can inspire. We recently watched Here Comes The Boom, a great movie with Christian undertones (see Kevin James’ interview about his faith in The Christian Post). It’s an inspirational movie that made me want to go out and live boldly. Find a movie that inspires you and allow yourself to soak it in. Read More→
As a Christian Business Coach, one thing that I work on with all of my clients is their definition of success. We live in a society where a successful person is defined as one who makes money and influences others. God’s economy, and His business practices, are upside-down when compared with the world’s. We’re told in Scripture that it’s better to give then to receive and in order to best the greatest, we must be servants just as Christ was.
God’s definition of success then, must be much different than what the business books say. We never see the Almighty God of the Bible congratulating one of His followers on their financial success. The concept itself even sounds silly. And yet, isn’t that the standard that we hold ourselves up to? God must not be pleased with me, because I’m not successful financially. I must be doing something wrong.
But God’s definition of success isn’t monetary, it’s personal. As Mark Batterson says in his book, The Circle Maker, “God’s primary concern is who we’re becoming in the process.” He isn’t concerned with how many widgets we sold this week or the balance of our bank account. He isn’t honestly all that concerned with what we’ve done this week – business or otherwise. He is more concerned with WHO WE ARE BECOMING.
I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
We can do things left and right. We can accumulate wealth and possessions. But, in the end – in eternity – none of it will matter. No one will care.
What will matter then, and what matters MOST now, is who we have become during our journey on Earth.
So, what is your definition of success? In his book (mentioned above), Batterson challenges readers to jot down what success will look like in their life when done God’s way. He shares his three definitions in the book, but I’ll share mine with you here: 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.
Social Media is quickly growing into one of the most-used marketing tools for work-at-home moms. One of the largest social media websites, Twitter.com, can be an effective way to spread the word about your business and learn from other top representatives in your business niche. However, it can take a lot of time to determine the best ways to use Twitter effectively for business. Below are ten tips to help shorten that learning curve.
1. Choose a Meaningful User Name
If possible, grab your business name as well as your own name for use on Twitter. Having an easy-to-find and easy-to-remember username is essential.
2. Brand Your Twitter Page
Don’t leave your Twitter page boring and plain – spice it up. Make sure you add your logo, contact information and any other information that will be helpful for customers and visitors to your page. You can use a website such as TwitBacks.com to create a free or very low-cost background to bring life to your page.
3. Learn the Lingo
Twitter can be very useful, but it can also be very frustrating … especially if you have no idea what all those little symbols mean that fly across the screen. Take the time to research the meanings of the tags most often used on Twitter. One great place to do so is right on Twitter itself.
4. Follow Industry Leaders
Veteran entrepreneur Diana Ennen shares this tip: “I love to follow industry experts on Twitter and gain all their business insight. It’s almost like being right there in their office and getting in on their trade secrets. Not only do they post tips and how to information, they often share their business successes and mistakes and that allows me to learn from them. It’s so worth it!”
Don’t be shy! Take a few minutes each day to comment on what others are discussing or to throw out a question or idea. You never know when a topic is going to spark a response and help you build relationships with customers and your fellow Twitter users. Read More→
I don’t know how most people do it, but when I brush my teeth I like to rinse using a cup. I prefer the little dixie paper cups because I can toss it and there’s no mess. As a mom, I love disposable items – no washing necessary. Sounds harmless enough, right? I thought so, until recently when my husband began giving me little “hints” about throwing away so many paper cups. He finally won me over when he explained that he and the guys at work had been discussing what they could do to be more ‘green’ and this was one of the ways they’d come up with.
Now that I knew my husband and ‘the guys’ were discussing the topic at work, I knew it was something I needed to take more seriously. As I began to take a look at our lifestyle I found many things that I could change to make our home a more eco-friendly place. I also realized that overall, working from home may be one of the best eco-friendly decision one can make.
Less Gas – Other than the occasional errand running, telecommuters use their cars much less frequently than their counterparts in the workplace. This, of course translates into less gas usage, less fumes and smog produced, etc. Simply by staying home, they are making the world a cleaner, healthier place.
Less Paper – Businesses today make it very easy to save paper by allowing home-based workers to do most everything online. When my husband does work from home, he’s able to log in securely to his corporate email account, log his time and even download his pay stubs online. I’m fortunate that as a website owner, very rarely do I make use of paper. The occasional document needs printed, but other than that my work-life takes place entirely on my computer.
Less Grease – Home-based workers tend to eat more meals at home than than employees in the corporate world. My lunches usually consist of something simple and easy to make – fruit, a quick sandwich, etc. Compared to the fat and grease of a fast-food meal, a healthy meal at home goes a long way in becoming ‘green.’ Read More→
A few years ago I had one of those “lightning bolt” moments. Each year I sit down to write out goals and dreams for my business. This particular year, as I sat and thought through what I hoped to accomplish in the upcoming year, how I hoped to help people, it hit me. Where does God fit in to all of this? Does He fit comfortably in the “Spiritual” categories or is He a part of everything that CWAHM is and does?
Whoa. Talk about a challenging question.
As I wrestled with this I came to realization that God wants to invade our lives – and that means our businesses, too. In the gospels we see Jesus meeting people right where they were. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, and taught the seeking. He met their physical needs as well as their spiritual needs.
He wanted to be a part of their everyday lives, not just the days they went to the temple (the Old Testament equivalent of church). He wasn’t afraid to hang out with the sick, the hurting, the “sinners.”
He wants to be a part of our everyday life, too. He wants to invade our families, our marriages, our businesses. He wants to show us that there is a different way of doing things. A better way. A way that points to the divine even in the midst of most basic business task.
He wants to be in:
* The decision to be kind to the difficult customer.
* The decision to give a sale price when we could charge full price to someone who isn’t aware of the sale.
* The decision to give a product away to someone we know is struggling or hurting.
It’s our choice. We can choose to do business with Jesus. Or we can choose to do things our own way…usually the way we’ve been taught by people who seem to know how to “do” business, how to make money. And yet, in the end … is really about making money?
“So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work…” Ecclesiastes 3:22, NCV
Where does God fit in your business?
About The Author
Jill Hart’s entrepreneurial career began in her teens when she spent a summer working with her father who ran his own business. When he put her in charge of a Coke machine and allowed her to keep the profits, she saw the benefits of being her own boss. She is the founder of the popular Christian work-at-home website, CWAHM.com. Jill has articles published in In Touch Magazine and P31 Woman magazine, as well as across the web on sites like DrLaura.com. She is the author of So You Want To Be a Work-at-Home Mom and speaks to audiences around the country about faith, business and leadership topics.
by Jill Hart and Diana Ennen
Over the last several years blogging has become the foundation for social media campaigns of businesses big and small. Where Facebook and Twitter help keep companies in the limelight, spreading the word about special events, discounts and newsworthy items, blogs are the place where companies build their reputation and make sales.
As popular as blogging has become, I often hear from home-based business owners who are trying to figure out exactly what a blog consists of and how they can use one to benefit their business. Below are three tips that can help maximize the impact of your business blog.
1. It’s All In The Name
Be sure to choose a name for your blog that is both descriptive and easy to remember. Try to stick to either your business name or the name of your star product/service. If none of these are available consider using your name or business tagline. Also, consider possibly adding in your keywords … such as Publicity Virtual Assistant.
2. Use Keywords Effectively
When you write posts for your business blog be conscious of the words that you choose. Pepper your posts with keywords relating to your business, products, services and brand. These keywords will trigger Search Engine results and help you reach the top of the results for your keywords. Be careful not to overuse keywords, though, because readers will get frustrated and the Search Engines consider that against the rules.
Also, consider keyword phrases – often called long tail keyword phrases (why, I’m not sure!). Long tail keywords are simply a sting of words that make up a phrase that represent your keywords. Think, what would people type in Google to find me. Examples, “how to start a business.” Think … how can I define my blog more (or this particular post). I wrote this blog post on … (fill in the blank), now what keywords do I need to put in so others can find me?