When starting out, working from home sounds ideal. After all, you have plenty of space in your home office, there’s zero commute, and you can work in your yoga pants. Plus, it’s free.
But is it really? With all of the distractions that come from working from home, your choice may actually be costing you business.
See if any of these “big distractions” ring true for you:
1) Children and family
Just as you sit down to write that big proposal, the phone rings. It’s your husband at the office. He’s forgotten his lunch and was wondering if you could drop it off.
After swinging by his office and returning home, you barely have enough time to return emails before you have to take the kids to soccer practice. At 5pm, you just wonder how the day got away from you.
Working from home sometimes doesn’t feel like working (or even if it does, other people assume you’re not), so you get pulled into managing your family instead of your business.
Working in a coworking space, on the other hand, makes you feel like getting down to business. And family members who were once quick to ask for favors will now have to think twice when they know you would have to leave your “office”. All of these leads to more networking and a better business.
2) The Kitchen and all its goodies
More than 36% of Americans report that they have gained weight since working from home. And it’s no wonder when you can wander into the kitchen at any moment to grab a snack.
Trying to think of how to word an email? Grab a bagel. Just finished that big project? Make a sandwich. Avoiding making that phone call? Nibble on a cookie.
Not only does the snacking hurt your waistline, it also adds up quickly in the “wasted time” category.
While grabbing a snack at your local coworking space is nothing surprising, most spend the time talking business ideas or networking instead of just eating. A coworking space can help your snack time decrease, and change that wasted time into networking time.
3) Desire to finish household chores
Those increased breaks (read “wasted time”) don’t always include food. Some can be much sneakier but just as nefarious. And its name is “chores”.
Have you ever avoided work by doing the dishes? Have you done a little laundry between projects? How many times have you gotten distracted by a spot on the floor, only to find, an hour later, that your floor is spotless and your work isn’t any closer to being completed? If we’re in the house, it’s hard to strictly concentrate on work when there are so many home projects calling to us.
The solution is to completely separate your home and work life. When you’re working out of a coworking space, you’re completely focused on your work. When you go home, those lingering chores then get done. With this compartmentalization, you’ll see both your work and your house-hold work improve.
4) No Access to Office Equipment
Not having access to a fax, copier or scanner might get to be a sticky situation as your business grows. And not all of us are willing to shell out the big bucks to purchase that equipment on our own. Plus, do you really want a copier taking up space in your home office?
A coworking space, however, is set up with business in mind. They have all the technological amenities that will sustain your business ready for you to use at the drop of a hat.
5) Using the television as “company”
It can get lonely working from home, and the temptation is there to turn on the television for background noise. After all, you can still concentrate on work as long as you don’t actively pay attention to the television, right?
Wrong. Research shows that people cannot multitask as well as they think they can. You may not even notice the television pulling your attention away until you send off a document with a misspelling or an email to the wrong recipient.
It’s important to work in a distraction-free area where your work doesn’t have to compete with
background noise. Your professional reputation depends on it!
Coworking spaces supply enough “company” by the other entrepreneurs and small business owners who are also members. But when it’s time to work, you can fully focus in the quiet of the space, sure that your work is getting your full attention.
When you’re working from home, the numerous distractions make it near impossible to get anything done without superhuman focus and discipline. Working out of a coworking space eliminates the top distractions and provides you with a productive place to call your own. If you haven’t tried a coworking space yet, it’s never too late to start getting productive.
Book a tour at the Suite Spotte and see what we are talking about.
No one really enjoys the ping-pong match of emails that transpire when trying to schedule a meeting. All of a sudden, dozens of unwanted responses from people who have “Replied All” appear in your inbox. Now you must spend the time to go through and delete them all. No one’s got time for that!
Efficiency means money in your pocket for your business. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a tool that could eliminate the cumbersome emails and give you more time for income-generating activities? Well, there’s more than one low-cost tool that will get the job done!
Some free tools have very imposing ads – Meeting Wizard simply has some small text in the corner, which makes its user interface much more pleasing to use. It’s also unquestionably simple for both you and the person you’re trying to schedule a meeting with. All you have to do is select a few available spots for the meeting, and the recipient then selects the time that is best for them.
Doodle claims to help you find a meeting date 2x faster – it’s true!
Doodle is for those users that don’t like mandatory sign-ups before using the service. It requires no email address or personal information to get started, which also saves time not having to create an account. The meeting you create generates a link you can share with the meeting attendees and another link that provides an admin view.
The free service is enough for most users, but Doodle has added paid functions that set it apart from similar applications. The $2.99 iOS app allows you to check your schedule and propose meeting through mobile. The Private Doodle service, which starts at $39/year, allows you to send meeting reminders to your busier clients and colleagues. For $69/year, you can have a custom design to fit your brand. This would be beneficial for bigger businesses with a large volume of meetings with clients.
If you do a lot of one-on-one scheduling. ScheduleOnce is the tool for you. However, this clever and comprehensive application also has a group scheduler included in the free version.
Meeting Wizard and Doodle both use the survey approach. ScheduleOnce does the work for you by looking at the availability of all participants. Simply pre-select a few possible times for the meeting and send the link to the other participants. They will highlight their availability and ScheduleOnce will pick the meeting time based on the shared availability.
TimeBridge has quickly grown as a start-up to include over 200,000 users. The product stands out in its ease of use. The meeting scheduler sends out five possible times, and participants mark “yes”, “no” and “best” for each time. If all meeting attendees select “best” for one of the five times, TimeBridge will automatically schedule the meeting for that time. Automation leaves more time to accomplish other things on your priority list.
Time Bridge can also integrate with iCal, Google and Outlook to sync your calendars.
If you’re looking for a meeting scheduling tool to eliminate the tedious email chains, one of these user-friendly tools much just do the trick.
If you haven’t heard of Periscope, it’s the next big thing in social media. And now, Suite Spotte is on it!
Every Wednesday, a few of our members get together during lunch to have an “Entrepreneur Mastermind”. One person is randomly chosen to be in the “hot seat”. There they can discuss something new and exciting in their business, ask the group for advice, or tell everyone about a new tool or service they use and love.
Since this group organically formed in May, members have helped each other overcome the hurdles and celebrate the successes that come with being a business owner.
The last Mastermind in June was broadcasted on Periscope by Amber Schultz, and had over 75 viewers from around the globe.
Here is the recording of that Mastermind, minus the comments of people watching the broadcast…
What advice would you have given Terry had you been at the Mastermind?
Are you considering blogging for your business, but don’t really see the point? Or have you written a few posts, then not seen any return?
You’ve heard that successful businesses should be blogging, but why? And how?
The biggest “why” is connecting with customers and clients. Businesses can blog about the problems their customers face, success stories, how to best use their latest product, or a “peek behind the curtain” with an employee interview. In every one of these cases, the business is conveying their message while giving the customers some real value.
And while blogging like a boss might not come naturally at first, with a little knowledge and a few posts under your belt, you will be connecting and sharing like the best of ‘em. And seeing the loyalty and sales boosts that come with it!
Five Simple Steps To Start Blogging Like a Boss
“Engagement” is certainly the buzz word of the online world these days. But, every is talking about it because it is incredibly important.
Being engaging doesn’t necessarily mean conversational. It simply means having the ability to capture the reader’s attention. Try a question at the beginning of the article (like the one at the beginning of this article!) to make readers think, relate, and, most importantly, read on!
Questions don’t just have to be at the beginning of the article either. Add a question at the end and encourage people to comment with their opinions on the subject.
If you’re not sure if you’re engaging enough, think of your blog post as a form of social media (which it is). Would your post make someone want to dive in and connect?
Have you ever come across a blog post that appeared to be a never-ending wall of text? Did you make it to the end of that article? Didn’t think so. Break up your words with some eye-catching images. Add a photo, a text-based graphic, a video, or an infographic that relates to the topic while staying in your brand’s image.
People will be more willing to stay with you through your entire thought when you accompany your words with something interesting to look at.
How long should your blog post be? Well, that’s really up to you. But, whether 300 or 1200 words, you want to keep it straight to the point. Get your whole idea across without losing your audience by being incredibly focused.
If you have hit 1500 words and feel that you could go on for another 2000, consider breaking up your thought into two or three easily-digestible and hyper-focused posts.
Remember when your mom told you to “just be yourself”? Nothing could be more true as you blog. Remember that people are reading your blog because they love your writing style, your ideas, and your message. They want to hear from YOU, not who you think you should pretend to be. Be sassy, or silly, or intricate, or grand…just as long as it’s absolutely you and your brand.
In the age of digital marketing, authenticity is the name of the game.
Can you imagine if I started off this post with one point, then drifted to the next, then went back, then threw in a brand new idea in the last sentence? You would rightfully be reading it thinking, “Huh?”
Your thoughts need flow cohesively in an organized way. If they don’t, your audience won’t be able to understand the message you’re trying to convey…and your message is everything.
Now, you don’t have to dig up the notes from your college composition course and start diagraming your blog post.
There are simple tricks to keep everything organized.
• Use clear, simple headings to help your blog posts flow together.
• Leave plenty of white space in your articles, with paragraphs being 3 sentences, max.
• Bold main sentences so that the reader can skim through and pull out highlights before committing to reading.
• Use lists or bullet points (like these) to break up each thought.
Each of these organizational tips encourages comprehension and helps the readers come away with a greater understanding of who you are as a business and, perhaps more importantly, a person.
It’s time to lose the blogging procrastination and frustration, and start putting your message out for all to see. Start blogging like a boss, then tell us all about it in the comments below!
As a freelancer, solopreneur or small business owner, perhaps you’ve just made your first sale. Congratulations! Now what? How are you going to collect that money you worked so hard to get?
Maybe this ISN’T your first sale, but you’ve been struggling for some time to find the right bookkeeping system that fits your work style and budget.
In the past, you had to download software and there was a learning curve to using the software. But with more evolved invoicing tools today, you have all of your bookkeeping information at your fingertips merely by logging in.
If you’re not quite ready to turn your invoicing over to a professional, here are some tools for invoicing that leave the rest in their dust:
Features: With this tool, online invoicing for freelancers and small business has never been easier. Not only that, but you can manage expenses for any employees you may have. For the mobile user, there is an app available for Android, BlackBerry and iPhone.
Freshbooks includes a time tracker that you can set up so that you track the number of hours you worked on a particular project, or the number of hours you worked for a particular client. When you log your time, it is automatically transferred to your time sheet for the week.
A generated invoice will automatically populate with the amount of time spent on each task and the hourly rate, and will calculate a total. You can email the invoice with just a click of the button, and can see when the client has logged in to view and pay the invoice.
The reporting feature is also pretty neat. Simply pick any number of invoicing periods and find out immediately how much revenue was invoiced in that period.
Pricing: Free for one client. With more than one client, you have to upgrade to the Pro version, which is only $19.95 a month.
Features: What differentiates this tool from others is its project management capability. If your company doesn’t already use a project management tool, this may be a good way to kill two birds with one stone.
There’s also a nice little client organization system built in, so it’s almost a mini CRM. It is also able to integrate with many e-commerce stores.
Pricing: Free for up to three clients. $19.95 a month for the next lowest cost plan (up to 100 clients). So the free plan would be great for beginning freelancers, and the $19.95 plan would work the best for a small business.
Features: Zoho has become a well-known name in social and CRM. It has dozens of integrations, including eight different payment gateways, all the other Zoho products, and several document sharing services.
It also has some of the best customer support of all the invoicing tools. For those interested in adding artistic flair to their invoices, this is surely one to try.
Pricing: Free for up to five customers. $15 a month for those small businesses needing up to 500 invoices a month.
Features: Nutcache is extremely popular with freelancers and small businesses because of the ease of changing the logo and color scheme for your invoices.
This invoicing solution is the hands-down winner for small businesses, as it has a VERY strong project management component integrated in the tool. Project dashboards give you up-to-date statuses in nine different metrics – see real versus estimated results on your current projects. The collaborative boards is a colorful, organized way for the team to share ideas.
Pricing: Free for two users, for two companies. The next Pro level is $14/month, which includes two users and unlimited companies.
Features: Ronin is a tech savvy person’s dream. You can customize your invoices with your own HTML or CSS. You can send an estimate to your client, and compare how close you are to the estimate at each stage of your project. Ronin also has a built-in CRM, allowing detailed contact information for each client.
Pricing: Free for two companies, one staff user. Next plan is at $15/month for 30 clients and one staff user.
Stop spinning your wheels for several hours trying to make a professional invoice. Use these tools that meet our Gold Standard to bring balance back into your business.