A Fun Announcement!

First for Women Magazine Appearance

I had the privilege of appearing in First for Women magazine, and the copies were on stands around the country in early January 2017. It was fun to talk about virtual assisting. My thanks to Millie Lewis Greenville for the styling, Spill the Beans, Greenville for the location, Fisheye Studios for the photography, Julie Revelant who interviewed me and wrote the article, and Amy from AT Your Design for assisting and taking additional photos.

Here are photos from the photo shoot in October, and a photo of the article that came out December 29!

photo-shoot

magazine

Coffee and More: The Most popular posts of 2016

And a one-question survey

005-rest-and-be-thankfulHello readers! THANK YOU for reading the blog here at HOPE Unlimited.  Be sure to read to the end to get the link to the Super Short Survey.

As we finish up the year, I thought it would be fun to look back and see what some of the most popular posts were for 2016.  There are a couple of different ways to measure this, including Google Analytics, and Mail Chimp reports (I use Mail Chimp to mail out the weekly post.)

Mail Chimp

According to Mail Chimp, the three most popular posts for 2016 (based on emails being opened) were:

Erasing a Mistake

I’m Back…Sort Of  

Introducing our New Logo! 

Google Analytics

When I checked Google Analytics, I found a fascinating fact.

Three of my most popular posts for the year (visits to the site) were actually posts I wrote in previous years! That means people are visiting pages from the past. So here they are:

An A t0 Z List of Important Characteristics for the Workplace

Should I Accept Your Coffee Invitation?

Five Cautions about Facebook

For 2016, the coffee theme stood out once again, so I am re-running the most popular site-visit post for this year below.

Enjoy, and I’ll see you again next year! I’ve got some ideas for the blog for the new year and look forward to continuing to bring you helpful, encouraging information.  Don’t forget to share your opinion via our Super Short Survey.

Why I’ve Cut Back on Coffee Shop Work

 

Beth at coffee shop

Since I spend many hours by myself, I sometimes work at a coffee shop as a way to get out among the “land of the living.” Being in the presence of other people in a unique environment expands my perspective, supports my creativity, and gives me lingering time to think and create.

But it’s not always the most effective way to run my business.

I still make time for a coffee shop work session (sometimes referred to on my calendar as a “Writer’s Block”) almost every week. But recently, I have made it less of a priority as my hands-on commitments to clients have increased. I’ve had to ask myself if this practice was really a good fit for my current business responsibilities, and have discovered that it sometimes is not.  Here are some reasons I’ve made the change. When I’m at a coffee shop, I find that:

  1. I don’t accomplish as much billable time. HOPE serves VA clients via a pre-purchase bank system. Our typical client usually has a few random tasks per week, so I don’t always work a straight 2-3 hours at a time. By the time I add in travel time, purchasing and consuming my snack or food (unless it’s JUST a cup of coffee), I really don’t accomplish much billable time in a coffee shop session.
  2. I can’t guarantee an effective environment. I’ll admit it. I’m kind of picky when it comes to what environment I want to have when working. I have my favorite spots at various coffee shops, and I feel out of sorts if one of those tables aren’t free. In my home office, I am in control of where I sit or stand to work!
  3. It costs money. I believe that if you are going to camp out at someone’s business, you should at least make a small purchase. Thus, every time I go to a coffee shop, I am spending $3 to $10 depending on what time I go and what I get. This adds up. I have the same access to coffee and snacks at home.
  4. It can be distracting. I must have earphones and music ready because it’s too easy for me to pick up on conversations around me. This is easily avoided at my home office.
  5. I have less freedom. At home, I can sing or process out loud, walk around, or even scream at my computer. (Hypothetical of course.) At a coffee shop? Not so much unless I want weird looks.
  6. I can effectively multi-task. Yeah, I know. Multi-tasking is taboo now. But there are some things that can be done in the background at home that can’t be done at a coffee shop. Laundry, for example.
  7. I’m limited in the types of tasks I can do. My trusty Chromebook doesn’t owe me a dime. However, it just doesn’t replace the ease of my desktop set up for all kinds of tasks. There are certain ones I can pull off at a coffee shop, but not the quick administrative things that a VA often has to do such as set appointments, screen email, organize calendars, etc.

Now there ARE pluses to working at a coffee shop. A fresh perspective. The opportunity to have a casual conversation when crossing paths with someone. A change of pace. I’ll probably blog about that at another time because I still do visit coffee shops regularly. But for now, the thoughts above help me decide when and where it’s best to utilize them.

Photo taken at Spill the Beans.

SUPER SHORT SURVEY: Please click here to help me know what types of blog posts you are most interested in. Thank you!

 

The day I Messed Up

Thoughts on when the mistake is your own

mistake

 

It was meant to be a happy day–the first day a published piece on a client’s blog would go out to hundreds of subscribers.

This client offered space for contributing writers to share on topics that aligned with the client’s business.  My job was to take the pieces submitted and edit/format them to fit the blog, and run them on a regular schedule.

I worked to set up a system, arrange for Mail Chimp to be able to pick up the RSS feed, and started editing and scheduling posts to appear routinely every other Tuesday.

The first “send” came and I was delighted to see that the technology worked. I even emailed the client and the contributing writer to celebrate.

That’s when it happened.

In all my setting up of a process, I neglected to carefully proofread the piece. The first paragraph somehow showed up twice. Another small error appeared. And the joy of publication was marred by the obvious mistakes, and we had to put in place a plan to overcome the distractions–which we did, successfullly.

In the end, all worked out just fine.

But it was worth thinking about what happened in order to grow. As I reflected, the following came to mind:

  • My focus on developing a good system blinded me to catching an obvious error.
  • My focus on process kept me from asking for help from another proofreader.
  • My “years of experience” in this type of project led to focus on efficiency over collaboration.
  • My speed overcame accuracy.
  • My responsibilities were nearing the state of overwhelm (this all happened in a season of increased opportunity and decision making.)

Are systems, processes, experience and speed wrong? No. Without them, we’d be far less productive. But it’s easy to sacrifice collaboration, attentiveness, and consideration on the altar of efficiency.  

Perhaps the most important thing I learned was to understand my limits–to think through what I can do well over the long term, and to extend grace to myself and others.

How about you? Are you getting overwhelmed and finding yourself making more mistakes? What are you going to do about it?

If having some assistance would help you feel less overwhelmed, check out HOPE’s collaborative virtual assistance services.

 

Ancient Wisdom about Hard Work

Are you working hard today?

Bible

 

We welcome Rich Howard from Bibleverses.com, a site dedicated to bringing a free version of the Bible created specifically for users with vision disabilities. Rich shares verses on the topic of hard work, which may be timely if you are feeling some distraction or lack of motivation right now.  I’ve also added a few thoughts. Thanks Rich!

Sometimes you may lack the motivation to work hard or you may simply get discouraged about giving your best at whatever it is that you are doing. Below are five verses to give you the motivation you need to keep moving forward, even if it is the last thing you want to do.

Ecclesiastes 9: 9 – 10 Work with all your might

This verse encourages you that whatever it is you lay your hands on, do it with all your might. Don’t do it for the sake of earning an income or pleasing the employer, but know that it is a God given opportunity and if you give it your best, the Lord shall surely bless the work of your hands and use you to bless others.

Colossians 3: 23 – 24 Work as if you are working for the Lord

From this verse, we learn that in whatever you do, you should do it as if you are doing it unto the Lord and not to men. This should help you remember that God is your ultimate boss, and Provider. You do not need to just focus on the monetary rewards from the employer.

Proverbs 12: 11 No quick way to riches

This verse teaches that those who work hard will have plenty of bread, but those who follow worthless pursuits lack sense. In essence, if you want to be rich (which can be defined in lots of ways), then you must work for it and if you waste your time, then you will have nothing to show for it.

Genesis 2:15 Work is a divine institution

At the beginning of it all, God created man and placed him in the Garden of Eden so that he can work it and keep it. From this verse we see that work is essentially a divine institution and wherever God places your or whichever job He gives you, you should strive to “work it and keep it.”  Do your best.

2 Thessalonians 3: 10 – 12 No work, no food.

This verse places a heavy emphasis on the concept of earning your keep with the abilities that you have, and is worded in a way to take in consideration a person’s willingness to work. It’s understood that not everyone may have the physical ability to work at the same level as someone else, and God cares about our helping the poor.  However, an attitude of willingness to be productive in whatever way reasonable is a key character trait.

Want more wisdom? See more Bible Verses and other posts like this at BibleVerses.com.

Client Spotlight: Jon Verbeck

Fractional CFO and Business Consultant

 

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Jon provides CFO services to companies who don’t need or have the budget for a full-time onsite CFO.  He has worked with hundreds of companies over the years, helping start-ups, troubled companies, and hyper-growth companies all manage the minefields of business, profit, efficiency and cash flow.  He believes all businesses have challenges and can do better and he loves helping them make huge improvements and thrive.  He also enjoys encouraging business owners in their personal goals.

How HOPE Unlimited supports Jon:

  • WordPress blog posting support including editing and finding photos
  • Linked In blogging
  • MailChimp email marketing
  • Creation of social media images and a social media library
  • Social media implementation
  • Platform building projects such as white papers and information pieces
  • Workflow suggestions

What Jon says about HOPE:

HOPE has been incredible resource for me.  Beth and her team has helped me take my business up a notch and allowed me to concentrate at what I’m best at.  She helps keep me on track with my goals and helps me get better, plus I’ve learned tips for improving my work flow (like how to keep my email in-box under control!)

What HOPE says about Jon:

Jon is a great client. He’s very collaborative and treats us like teammates. He’s willing to listen to our suggestions. He cares about providing practical, helpful resources in a field that can often be confusing to small business owners, and has a desire to keep growing, learning, and serving others in unique ways. We’re thankful to be on his team!

Learn more at JonVerbeck.com