Imagine – no commute, having time to read the newspaper, coffee brewed just as strong as you like it. Sounds nice, right? Then reality sets it – laundry, dirty kitchen, dog, kids, and so it goes. Working from home often presents a bitter-sweet dilemma. Here are three aspects to consider when working from home.
Control: The double edged sword…
When things are great in your home based office, it’s probably because you’re in control. However, when things aren’t getting done, it’s probably because you’re in control. The key is to recognize what makes for a productive day, and what hampers it. Control your whole day as if you were in the office, only making exceptions when you must.
Accountability: The best defense is a…
Because a five minute Facebook break can easily turn into 45 minutes, the best way to keep yourself on task it to report back to your boss – YOU. At an interval that suits your schedule (every hour, half hour, ten minutes) log what you have completed. This will achieve two things, you will become more aware of how you are spending your time and you will have a greater sense of accomplishment.
Flexibility: With great power comes…
But isn’t the whole point of working from home being able to do what you want? Yes! But work still needs to be done. Because there is only so much time in the day, if another must-do task creeps up, set aside a specific time to do what has been postponed. Instead of the typical 8:00am – 5:00pm work day, see the whole day, 6:00am – 10:00pm as your work day. Why cram it all into eight hours when you have sixteen?
While work is necessary, a lot of joy can be found when you take charge of your day. Recognizing that you control what happens, staying accountable to yourself, and maintaining the flexibility you desire can help make a home based business successful.
While we understand the need to curb piracy, these acts are not the answer. Rather than having the desired effect, if passed these acts would do little to actually halt the spread of content theft. But they will increase the barriers of entry for small businesses looking to open an online store front, and they will stifle high-tech entrepreneurship.
We implore everyone reading to contact your representative and senators asking that they take a good, hard look at this legislation and demand a better bill. A bill that has airtight, technically sound definitions, heavy input from the technology sector, checks and balances ensuring that due-process can be invoked before, during, and after any action is taken, and clear repercussions for entities utilizing the legislation in an abusive manner.*You can see where your senators and congressional representative stand on these bills at ProPublica.
MyCorporation will always stand on the side of the small business owner, and both the SOPA and the PIPA would do them nothing but harm. Please take the time to read these bills (SOPA and PIPA) for yourself and stand with us against this harmful legislation.
As always, we thank all of you for your support and look forward to continue helping all small businesses get a strong start.
To help ring in the New Year, and help everyone save a bit of money, we are offering one of our popular incorporation packages for free!
One of the best ways to help kickstart the economy is by starting a business, and we would love to help you get your business started right. Incorporating is one of the smartest business moves you can make as it simultaneously protects your personal assets and helps you save on taxes. Just for today, we are offering free articles of organization along with a free name search to help you on your way!
Now, to get the coupon code for our promotion you HAVE to like our Facebook page, which you can easily access by either clicking here or the image above. This promotion ends 11:59 PM PST, so be sure not to miss it!
So we are now entering week two of the New Year, and we have to ask; how are those resolutions coming along?
When the office parties end, the work begins again.
Be honest now – Are you finding your drive to go to the gym at four every morning is long gone? Do you look up pictures of your favorite fast foods and longingly wish you could visit those beautiful golden arches one more time?
Most of us will hit a wall, or three, when it comes to keeping our resolutions. So rather than focusing on huge hurdles like losing 50 pounds or completely cutting sweets out of your diet, you should instead make more small, attainable goals. That way you can actually check things off that New Year’s list you made two weeks ago!
With that sage advice in mind, we proudly present four little resolutions that can go a long way for your business.
1. Open up communication with your customers
Talking with our own customers through social media outlets was one of our small business resolutions, and one we’ve been trying to stick to. A lot of business owners tend to forget that when you’re not constantly exposed to the real, human effort that goes into running a small business, most companies look remarkably similar. They are a logo, a name, and maybe a bit of a reputation but, for the most part, they are just there to provide a service.
You can combat this image by taking just a few minutes and directly talking with your customers. Thank the person who tweeted how nice your office was. Do a quick search and see if you can inject your own voice into any conversations related to your field. Open your Facebook wall, allow people to post about their experience and respond.
Simple things like talking with your customers when they reach out can leave a lasting impression, and the public nature of social media also helps generate good PR and attract new customers.
Black Thursday, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and now Small Business Saturday.
There is no end to the ways you can spend your cash this week! But Small Business Saturday has a bit more of a mission than getting the cheapest flatscreen TV; it seeks to help out smaller businesses that sometimes get left out in the cold while big box stores draw in millions of early holiday spending. AmEx is supporting the event’s second year in existence by offering a cool $25 dollars to any AmEx card owner who decides to throw a little love to the mom and pop stores. So far the campaign has been a smashing success with a 28% increase in sales during the event’s first year in 2010 compared to the Saturday after Thanksgiving in 2009. Consumer Affairs has a great write up on the 2011 campaign, and if you’d like to get your own business involved you should definitely give it a read.
But what if you don’t have a small business? Well fret not loyal follower, for we are holding our own sale to help you get everything you need to start your own corporation or LLC.
We will be offering all of our incorporation packages on sale, potentially saving you hundreds of dollars. It all starts with our Just the Basics package which will get you your articles of organization for just $49 plus government fees and shipping/handling. From then on the bigger package you purchase, the more money you save! Be sure to take a look at our ‘Start a Business‘ section to see all the bundle deals that we offer.
The sale will take place all Saturday and, best of all, is entirely online. That means no traffic, no lines and very little likelihood of rioting.
Finally, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, we would like to thank everyone for their continuing support of our own business venture. So good luck to all of you startes and have a very happy Thanksgiving!
Most bosses love the self-starter type. The person who is willing to go the extra mile, ask for more work and then not only do it well, but finish it early.
Unfortunately, most people aren’t that type of person. And that’s okay! If you focused that hard on every little trivial task you’ve been assigned you will end up burning out before you ever make your mark, collapsing on your keyboard after seven straight hours of database updates. That’s bad for your image at work and the keyboard.
Just imagine your own face instead of a large box with a question mark on it.
The trick is to learn how to manage yourself like, well, a manager. Maybe your boss is involved in every step of every project you have, or maybe you only see your boss as they leave the office at one in the afternoon to go play golf. Either way, a great method to keeping yourself on task without running into a wall is to manage your workload like you would manage employees. With that in mind, here are our tips on how to be your own boss, even if you’re not.
Divide Up Tasks
Do you have a job or project sitting on your desk that is more akin to an amorphous blob than a list of things to accomplish? When you stare at this behemoth of work, you have to be able to divide it up into smaller sections. Any good manager knows how to take an order or an assignment or even a business and divide it up into small sections to be tackled at different times. That is how you have to start looking at your work; instead of seeing it like some sort of terrible undertaking waiting to engulf you, give yourself sections of it to do at a time. These sections could be big or small, but the point is that you can begin to see the steps needed to finish a project before it threatens to consume every minute of your working life. Exercises like this also allow you to know exactly how far along you are when trying to accomplish something and will let you give your boss, your real boss, a great idea as to how far along things are.
I know it sounds a little silly, but having a list of things to do and checking them off one by one is quite satisfying. It’s almost as if you can physically watch your workload shrink, which is great for your overall motivation and well-being.
Have you ever had to fill out a self-evaluation form? Or sit nervously in a cramped waiting room for your turn to hear how your manager thinks you are performing? Most people dread evaluation; think too long about your faults and suddenly every little bump and mistake becomes a career ending problem. But evaluations can be useful if you get a bit of fair critique out of them. That is why evaluating yourself like a manager would evaluate an employee can be very useful to picking out your faults without feeling like a total failure. If you were your employee, what would you want to see improved? Do you procrastinate too much? Do you get caught up on the little details and lose sight of the big picture?
If nothing else, you will at least be able to avoid the “I sometimes just work too hard” answer – there is no one to impress but yourself. So take your self-identified weaknesses and try to work on them. Keep them in mind while working without completely obsessing over them. Like I said, the only person to impress is yourself so even if you end up working on one or two things, at least you’ve made that much improvement without any outside pressure forcing you to.
Don’t be Afraid to Talk with your “Colleagues”
We have a great relationship with our boss at MyCorporation because she is willing to listen to any advice given and is usually very open to talking with her employees. But most people may not have that type of relationship with their manager or boss; there is a certain level of fear that bubbles to the surface when talking to someone who can terminate your main source of income. If you can, try to see the person or people in charge of you as more of a colleague than a boss. That doesn’t mean regaling them with every detail of your life but, if you feel you have a good idea or suggestion, talk to them about it. And we mean talk – don’t stammer and look at your feet like they’ll somehow back you up. Eye contact and a bit of confidence make all the difference when getting someone to see you as their equal.
This advice works better in small offices than in gigantic corporations, but even if there is a middle manager that you talk to every so often, try not to treat them like an overbearing parent or stern school teacher. Instead, respect them as you would any other colleague; this both boosts your own self-confidence and can help get them to see you as more than just another employee.
The idea behind all of this advice is just to try and see yourself in a more imposing light. It can be easy to just assign your position as being just another cog in a machine, but doing that will kill your motivation and, before you know it, you’ll be doing the bare minimum until you can go home. In the end, you’ll be miserable and hate your work. So our biggest piece of advice is to size yourself up, be proud in your work and act like your own boss, even if you don’t have a corner office with a great view of the city.
Happy Monday everyone. As I sat here wondering what to write this blog post about, I reflected on an episode of The Simpsons I watched wherein Homer, in his new position as food critic, cries out “Aaw! it’s so hard to get to 500 words…” while attempting to write a review. I then realized how useful much of what Homer has said and done can be when applied to small businesses. So, as some easy reading this Monday, here are five business tips courtesy of Homer J. Simpson.
1. A good assistant can make all the difference – “Simpson and Delilah”
You don’t belong here. You’re a fraud and a phony, and it’s only a matter of time until they find you out. Homer:
Gasp! Who told you? Karl:
You did. You told with me with the way you slump your shoulders, the way you talk into your chest, the way you smother yourself in bargain-basement lime-green polyester.
There are two great lessons we can learn from Homer’s foray into hiring an assistant. The first is that a lime green suit looks good on no man, regardless of how much hair is on his head. The other is to know what you need in an employee. Before you call in all of those potential applicants, draft up what you want to see in them.
Dynamic? Focused? A little withdrawn? A multi-tasker?
Homer needed someone to push him towards his potential, and hopefully you have an office environment that encourages the same thing. While your new hire probably shouldn’t mock what you are wearing, a little bit of pre-interview prep can make all of the difference in choosing your next employee.
2. Sometimes, you just need to step back and crack open a Tab – “King-Size Homer”
[reading screen] “To Start Press Any Key”. Where’s the ANY key? I see Esk, Catarl, and Pig-Up. There doesn’t seem to be any ANY key. Woo! All this computer hacking is making me thirsty. I think I’ll order a TAB. [presses TAB key] No time for that now, the computer is starting.
Homer’s excellent comedic timing sometimes shadows the pearls of wisdom created by his reactions to the world around him. Mr. Simpson may not completely understand how to use a computer, but he does not panic. Instead, he takes a step back and collects himself. Analyzes his situation, every possible move being weighed in his mind, like a grand-chess master hoping to corner his opponent. And then, when he can find no path, he steps back and decides to crack open an arguably delicious Tab Cola.
It is that reaction away from the problem that brings Homer to its solution. Whenever you are sweating a deadline, or are hung up on a project, take a quick walk to your kitchen and grab something to drink. A few seconds away from the stress can do wonders to unclutter your mind.
3. You can always take the time to improve yourself – “Homer Goes to College”
Woo-hoo! I’m a college man! I won’t need my high school diploma any more! I am so smart! I am so smart! I am so smart! I am so smart! S-M-R-T! I mean, S-M-A-R-T…
Homer is in his mid to late thirties, depending on the season and the writer; well past what we would consider the “college going age.” But here he is in all of his glory, destroying his GED, which has gotten him jobs ranging from Kwik-E-Mart part timer to Astronaut, as he prepares to embark on a quest for a college degree.
Homer was simply not satisfied… and was being threatened with termination from the nuclear plant. At any rate, he shows all of us that it is never to late to try and improve ourselves, or our business. Your company may be wildly successful in its field, but you shouldn’t just settle on that. If you can, look to expand to other shores and other products in an attempt to make your business even better.
4. Know the power of a Name – “Homer to the Max”
[Homer is buying a shirt] … And I want the monogram to read “M-a-x P-o-w…” Store Clerk:
Sir, traditionally, mongrams are just your initials. Homer:
Max Power doesn’t abbrieviate! In his name, each letter is as important as the one that preceded it. Maybe even *more* important… No, *as* important. Store Clerk:
And if there’s any room left, add a bunch of exclamation points and a pirate flag!
When Homer changes his name to Max Power after a TV show destroys all the credibility and goodwill attached to Homer Simpson, he heads into town to get his new title forever emblazoned on a new shirt. And he isn’t willing to simply settle on two simple letters; he knows he has to push his brand. Max Power. And a pirate flag with some exclamation points.
Homer knows the power of a name, and so should you. Your company’s name and logo is its brand, and with them comes all the hard work you put into marketing and establishing trust with your customers. While I wouldn’t recommend any pirate flags or gratuitous punctuation, you should follow Homer and try to get that brand more recognition. Also, be sure to protect your company with a trademark or a copyright, or else you too may have to think of something new, and it may not be as cool as Max Power.
5. Find love in your work – “Das Bus”
Is that my good butter? Homer
Can’t discuss that now, Marge! I have to write another delicious memo!
(Homer takes a pencil from the butter and licks it.) Homer
Finally, Homer reminds us to love our work, or at least find the small things that make life enjoyable. Memos are terrible, monotonous little reminders of work that have to be carefully formatted and edited. But Homer, in his wisdom, links the headache of paperwork with the deliciousness of pure butter.
It really is the little things that get us through the day. You should enjoy your work, and enjoy what you do. So grab a nice cold Tab, some monogrammed shirts, a bit of butter and a donut with some purple in the middle; after all, purple is a fruit.