Tame Those Pesky Details – January – It’s Time for a Corporate Image Makeover!

In my book, Tame Those Pesky Details (TTPD), where I focus on one specific item each month to keep your business in tip top shape, January is the month for Corporate Image. Your goals were set in December; part of achieving them will be to make sure you have the appropriate corporate image for your business.

This month, I’m going to use myself as a prime example. Toward the end of last year, I felt I finally had the vision I had been searching for regarding my online presence. And, I also knew that would require a lot of work!

I immediately looked at my website and all my social media accounts. It was time for a major makeover! My logos had been updated recently, so I was comfortable there, but my overall look didn’t scream ME!

The Internet has become more and more a place of images, so I concentrated on learning to take the right kind of photos. I spent hours scouring sites and bookmarking those whose photos really drew me in. I also took a wonderful online photography course through StrangeCharmed.com. It was extremely helpful to get my mind going in the right direction.

As for my website update, again I spent a ton of time looking at blogs I enjoyed. Usually at the bottom of the home page is a link to the company that designed the theme for the blog. There you can view the multitude of themes that company offers, generally for a reasonable price. I’d already decided I didn’t want to use a free WordPress theme for my update as they wouldn’t have the design elements I knew I needed. There are a surprising number of options available for paid themes.

I still wasn’t totally sure what I wanted my site to look like until one of my favorite blogs updated their site. Wow! I loved it!, It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but I at least had an idea. I continued to view company theme offerings until I found a similar one that was a perfect fit.

Once my website is updated, my social media accounts will follow. Will I finish all of this in January? Probably not. I’m currently in the process of getting all my ebooks ready for print and releasing a new novel. I want to have the print books for photos so I’m expecting to wait until I have copies in hand, sometime in February. However, I will purchase the theme and get done whatever I can, including setting up the store which is a whole new element for my site. Some other tweaks will have to wait a few months but those should be secondary.

I’ll do a new blog post once I’ve launched everything. In the meantime, I do hope you’ll enjoy my blog posts, Instagram photos and tweets on Twitter!

If you’d like to follow along through the year, purchase your copy of Tame Those Pesky Details. (link below) Print books will be available soon!

What corporate image challenges do you face online and what are your plans to fix them? I’d love to hear. Leave a comment below.

Enjoy!

Cindi

Planning – Your 2017 Motto

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Planning – Your 2017 Motto

January is nearly half over. Do you have your motto selected for the year?

A few years ago, much by accident, I decided I would have a motto for the year, a theme, a focus. I was chatting with a client about a project and he mentioned a discussion he had had with one of his employees. He made a particular comment that immediately struck me as what I wanted to focus on for the following year. I quickly adopted it as my motto.

I tried different ways to remind myself on a daily basis when I decided to list it as a recurring appointment in my Outlook calendar. From then on, every day when I turned on my laptop, a window would pop open and gently urge me to work towards that goal.

A couple years later, somehow I found two mottos to use for the year, one for business and one personal. I liked that combination and I’ve been doing so ever since.

I’m usually not one to share what my annual motto is, but a few months ago while browsing through Etsy, I came across this dashboard from TheFabulousPlanner. I loved it and decided it would be my business motto for 2017.

So, for this entire year, not only will Outlook pop up in the morning with my motto, every time I open my planner I get to enjoy this beautiful reminder of my yearly focus.

I’ve enjoyed having an annual motto more than I ever thought I would. It’s the perfect place to start when you’re planning your goals. If you know at a very high level what you want to achieve 12 months from now, all the goals you set should support that. It streamlines the thought process immensely.

How can you set your motto for the year? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Decide where you’d like to be at the end of the year, and describe it in a few descriptive words.
  2. Select one or two of those words that really resonate with you.
  3. Create your own motto, or find a section of a song lyric or quote from someone you admire that reflects that motto to you in a positive manner. Begin with, “Year of…” as in, “Year of Making it Happen.”
  4. Determine how you want to remind yourself of your motto. You can do as I do, or choose to write it down daily, meditate on it, post it on your wall, make it your screensaver – find what works for you.
  5. Double check your goals to make sure they support your motto.

Some people choose a theme song that reflects their motto. Others phrase it as an affirmation. The whole idea is to create a positive mindset to help you grow, improve and achieve your goals. Remember, each person determines what success mean to them so never compare yourself to others. As long as you continue to move forward, you are learning, growing and achieving.

There you have it! Super simple but so helpful.

Do you have a motto or theme for the year? I’d love to hear!

Enjoy!

Cindi

 

Chic from Home: My 2017 Planner Setup Part 5

My 2017 Planner Setup Part 5

In my last three posts, I discussed my main 2017 planner setup in detail. This final post of the group will look at the supporting players. It’s so funny how quickly you can expand your planner system. Just two years ago, I was strictly digital, craving something more visual. Last year I was in one Erin Condren Life Planner (ECLP). This year I have six binders. Yikes! Amazingly, I know of people who are using even more than that, for everything from meal planning to devotionals. Just join a Facebook planning group or two and your eyes will be opened onto a whole beautiful universe!

So, let’s look at the last three binders I’ll be using for the year.

    1. The Punctuate Planner from Barnes and Noble. I originally purchased this because I was certain I wanted to use something smaller than my ECLP and I didn’t want to spend a lot of money to try out my ideas. This little planner is only about $10, less if you can get it during a sale. If you’ve never used a planner or you want to try something new, it is quite a sweet little planner for the price. It has five dividers, WO2P horizontal format for 18 months, a page of stickers, a back pocket, pen loop plus a clear zippered pocket. Even if you only use it as a template for size and style, it’s well worth the investment. The other thing I like about the planner is that it has the year on the spine so if you’re using a personal Filofax or Louis Vuitton MM, you can store the contents of your planners by the year in about the space of a paperback. As I said, all in all, a pretty useful planner for the price.
          However, once I actually had the planner in hand and started working with it, I realized it was just too small for me to use on a daily basis. If I were to have to take my planner with me and I wanted to have something less cumbersome than an A5, it would be fine. It fits comfortably in my hand but I really needed something bigger. So, it’s now my fitness journal and leftover task list.What do I mean by leftover task list? It’s all those items at the end of the month from my main planner that I didn’t accomplish but still need to be done. If they were a priority, they would have been completed. So, they obviously aren’t super important but I don’t want to have to search through the weeks to find items I missed. When I’ve completed all my tasks for the day, I check them off and I put a star by the date. The items remaining will go into this little planner and I’ll get to them as time allows. Eventually, I may move the list to my main planner but I’m still toying with what else to do with this baby. So, it has its assignment for 2017.  We’ll see how it works.
    1. Personal Filofax original purple patent. I bought this preloved on eBay for a very nice price and it’s in great condition. I found it right about the time I bought the Punctuate and thought I had a one-two punch. I’d do my planning in the Filofax then store the year in the Punctuate. We now know that won’t happen. I have my LV MM monogram for notes and ideas, so I decided to use this planner to expand on one or two specific projects at a time. There are projects that require a lot of notes and activities, so this will work fine for the year. However, I think that as time goes on, aside from my notes agenda, I’ll be using an A5 for everything.
  1. Sticker binder. I can’t believe I’m talking about a sticker binder at my age, but I admit it. I have stickers! Now, I certainly don’t have as many as others I’ve seen. I realize how addictive it can become. I can always think of one I need or one I can’t find on Etsy and need to create. My biggest problem was I had no idea what I already had so I could actually use them. And, when I first began ordering, I was looking at what others were doing until I could find my own style (still searching…).I had the ones I used most in the back pockets of my ECLP, but I had to pull them all out to find the one I wanted to use. Inevitably, I’d realize that there were many that would get hidden. It just didn’t work for me. I decided to order a mini binder, dividers and clear sheet protectors/pockets and finally get everything organized. I love it! I separated it into five sections: home and entertainment; functional; business; health and beauty; and fun and fashion. I also added business card pages so I could keep the cards of my favorite sellers handy. Behind that, I had two 10-page bound sheet protectors that I received from a fellow planner in one of my Facebook groups. In those pages, I keep discount codes from the sellers, as well as all those little freebie stickers that come with your order.Now I can see exactly what I have and I know exactly where to find what I need. I definitely found some level of sticker peace; I’m not sure if I’ve discovered planner peace yet!I’ll leave links to everything I purchased for my sticker binder below. My only complaint is that although the dividers and sheet protectors are both made by Avery, the dividers do not extend out past the sheets. I plan to add a Martha Stewart tab to each so I can more easily find each section.

So, there you have it – my complete 2017 planner setup. I’m sure my system will evolve as time goes on, but for now I think this will work for the year.

What does your planner system look like for 2017?

Enjoy!

Cindi

Filofax 2017 Personal Organizer, Leather, Patent Purple, Paper Size 6.75 x 3.75 inches (C022433-17)

Avery Mini Heavyweight Sheet Protectors, 5.5 x 8.5 Inches, Pack of 25 (77004)

Avery Mini Business Card Pages, Clear, 5.5 x 8.5 inches, Pack of 5 (76025)

Avery Mini Plastic Durable Write-On Dividers, 5.5 x 8.5 Inches, 5 Tabs, 1 Set (16180)

Wilson Jones Round Ring View Mini Binder, 1 Inch, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 Inch Sheets, Basic, 362 Series, Customizable, White (W362-10W)

Martha Stewart Home Office with Avery® Tabs, 2-Inch Solid, Assorted Pastel Colors, 10-Tabs/Color, 3 Colors, 30-Tabs/Pack

Please be advised that some links in this post are affiliate links.

Chic from Home: My 2017 Planner Setup Part 4

This is the last of my three main planners I’ll be using for 2017, but I’ll still do one or two more posts on other items that will be part of my system for the year. I’ll touch base mid-year or so to see how all this is going as this is the first year I’m going the binder route. You can read my previous posts to see the setup of my other 2017 planners.

My third planner is my notes binder where I organize all thoughts Cindi. As a writer and entrepreneur, these notes are crucial! I recognized at an early age that when you have an idea, you need to write it down, lest it disappear into the cosmos never to be heard from again. I remember finding thoughts written in orange crayon on blue cardstock as a child, and I’ve kept it up ever since. The writing down part, not the orange crayon.  🙂

Over the years, I’ve used sections of my old Daytimer, legal pads, composition notebooks, notepads and virtually anything I can get my hands on in a hurry, from the back of envelopes to ticket stubs and show programs, to jot things down as they come up. Oftentimes, my brain will just dump idea after idea for several different projects, and they get written down one after the other with no coordinated effort to separate by project. Eventually, I transfer the info to notes files on my computer, but I have to jump from file to file as the notes are all over the place.

Well, hopefully, that has now changed. I decided I wanted to use my LV MM monogram agenda in the special way that it deserves. It will now house my forthcoming ideas, but in a more organized fashion.

I ordered some custom dividers from The Fabulous Planner using images owned by my company. Some are logos, others are designs from that part of my life when I had a bridal gown design business. The designs are mine but I paid someone who is far more skilled than I to make them beautiful. The images were just sitting around and I decided I wanted to be inspired by and enjoy them. So, I incorporated them into the dividers.

Each divider has a specific category of projects, identified both on the divider image and on the tab. I just used a Brother label maker to label the tabs. (Brother P-Touch PT-D210 Label Maker)

I tend to use two and three-letter acronyms a lot when I’m working on projects, so that’s exactly what you see here. Except for Blog. That’s pretty obvious. 🙂

Since I set this up, I’ve been using it daily. I automatically reach for it because I know it’s making my life easier by keeping all my notes organized. I don’t understand why I didn’t think of this before! I’ll still transfer the notes to my computer, but it will take less time because they are already separated by project. This little agenda makes me happy!

I don’t plan to keep anything else in here – no calendars, no clips or dashboards or anything. It will just be for ideas and that’s more than enough.

Enjoy!

Cindi

Please note that some links are affiliate links.

Chic from Home: My 2017 Planner Setup Part 3

Chic from Home: My 2017 Planner Setup Part 3

Once I saw the nude A5 Filofax original patent, I had to have it. I just didn’t know what to do with it. Then I watched an Alexis Giostra (aka Miss Trenchcoat) video on the 43 folder system.

I had no idea what the 43 folder system was until then, but it greatly intrigued me. For many years, I tried different ways of organizing my bills to pay, birthday cards to send, RSVP’s, registrations and so on, yet nothing seemed to work perfectly. Then, once I wrote my book Tame Those Pesky Details: 12 months of business tips and tasks (Aunti Cindi Presents), I added new folders to the system, to address the tasks needed to be done annually, month by month. I was searching for a way to make this all work together. Enter: Alexis.

Now, Alexis didn’t invent the 43 folder system. It’s referenced in a book by David Allen called Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. However, I liked her approach and the size of the A5 planner seemed to be just as much as I needed.

I found this lovely preloved planner on eBay as the foundation for my system. However, as much as I love the 43 folder system concept, I’m not totally convinced it will work for me, so I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on the setup. It consists of 12 folders (one for each month) and 31 dividers or tabs (one for each day of the month). Many people are crafty and create their own using card stock or file folders. I am not crafty. Crafty and Cindi are never used in the same sentence except to describe me as not being crafty.

So, I made my way to Target Dollar Spot (TSD, Bullseye Playground) and found packs of their mini planner pages. One pack included six dividers while the other had four folder/pockets. Of course I needed multiple packs, but at three dollars, each, it was very reasonable. I had a couple of five dollar gift cards I’d earned from previous purchases, so with my five percent off, the investment was pretty minor.

I did have to repunch the holes as you can see in the photo. Most people use washi to make it look pretty. I have only a few roles of washi (I know!) and I love them so much I didn’t want to use them on this. So, I had some old correction tape in my office goodies box and used that. It’s white and not so attractive, but it did the job perfectly and I’ll live with it for now. If I decide I want to upgrade, I can always do the washi thing.

On Instagram, I’ve posted a photo with the back of the dashboard, which is simply the 2017 year at a glance, and the first file folder/pocket. Alexis adds In and Out file pockets, but I don’t feel I need those now. What I did add was a clear envelope for each month to correlate to the tasks in my book, thus creating a 55 folder system. (Tame Those Pesky Details is currently only offered as an ebook but will soon be available in paperback.) I rarely need more than a place to put a business card, a note or a brochure for those tasks, so this works perfectly.

I turned to Jane’s Agenda on Etsy for the monthly tabs. They are awesome! She coats them so they are sturdier than normal, and so easy to use! I asked for a custom color combination and I think the black on ombre gold is just gorgeous! I had no idea this planner would turn out looking so pretty!

The other item I added in the pocket is the Celebrate Everyday calendar from my old Erin Condren Life Planner (ECLP). That way, I can check it out on a regular basis, buy birthday and anniversary cards as needed, and stay on track.

I plan to put each item in one week before its due date, so with mailing time (or shopping time), things should arrive as scheduled.

In more detail, here is how this planner is setup:

  1. Dashboard 2017 calendar
  2. January folder (because this is January)
  3. January clear pocket
  4. 31 dividers
  5. February – December folders, each followed by a clear pocket relating to the Tame Those Pesky Details task for that month

In a nutshell, the way this works is to rotate the current month to the front, keeping the daily dividers behind it. This system provides a perpetual way to keep on top of all your important dates!

Alexis does an awesome job of explaining the whole system, so I would refer you to her YouTube videos on the subject. In the meantime, I’m putting mine to work and excited to use it this year.

Have you tried a 43 folder system? What other ways do you handle this sort of deadline paperwork? Let me know!

Enjoy!

Cindi

Additional Links:

Filofax The Original Leather Organizer Agenda Calendar with DiLoro Jot Pad Refills (A5, Patent Nude 2017, 022387)

Avery Mini Heavyweight Sheet Protectors, 5.5 x 8.5 Inches, Pack of 25 (77004)

Please be advised that some of the links in this post are affiliate links.

Chic from Home: My 2017 Planner Setup Part 2

In my last post, I gave an overview of my planning strategy for 2017. Now, in these next few posts, I’ll break it down into the individual planners and explain why I’m choosing to go this route for the new year. I’ll also do a quick overview of some inserts I created myself in a separate post.

I’m always working on multiple projects, whether I’m writing books, working on websites, developing products, plus taking care of my Mom, so I really need to have everything well controlled. I went the digital route for a long time, but as I discovered the planner community, I went back to my roots and opted to include paper in the plan. It seems to have taken on a life of its own!

My main workhorse planner is this lovely Filofax Original A5 in deep teal. I hesitated to purchase it – even second hand! – because in many photos on different websites, it looked really green and that’s just not my color. However, I must tell you, this deep teal is GORGEOUS!!! And it complements crystal and gold beautifully.

This particular Filofax will include both business and personal calendars. It’s just too hard to maintain separate calendars, as I’m sure most of you are aware. I maintain the same calendar on my smartphone as well.

Here’s the breakdown of this planner:

  1. “Make it Happen” dashboard. Sounded like a great motto for the year! Looks very pretty when you first open the planner. (See photo on Instagram) Good visual reminder.
  2. A Cindi ownership dashboard.
  3. 2017 year at a glance calendar dashboard.
  4. 2017 goals. When I wrote these I had such a clear vision of where I want my business to grow in 2017 that I began accomplishing items on the list immediately! Some items may seem like to-do’s and others I’ve since determined I’m not so excited about, but the list is handy to reach and review on a daily basis.
  5. A lined sheet of note paper to identify 2018 goals. It will be here before we know it!
  6. A Filofax top load envelope/sheet protector. I put this behind my goals because if I find an article, get a business card or have other items that relate to my 2017 goals, I’ll just slip it in where it’s safe and I can find it when I need it. I had items to place as soon as I put it in my planner.
  7. A size cheat sheet. I can never remember what size things need to be, like Facebook covers or Twitter profile photos. So, I jotted down all the ones I use and printed it for my planner.
  8. My two months on a page yearly blog planner. This will be to identify recurring types of blog posts that I’d like to have every year.
  9. Month on two pages calendar. I’ve purchased mini stickers to help me use this as mostly a visual. One thing I dislike about most planners is the calendar overview is right before the month. Then, if I’m trying to find when was the last time something happened, I have to look through half the planner. Here, the whole year is back-to-back. If it’s July and something happened in May, I only have to flip two pages. I’ll identify things like meetings, doctor appointments,  mani-pedi-hair appointments and so on; not all the details or even the time and location, just that it happened. I’ll put the details on the weekly planner pages. I’m going to try this. We’ll see how it works.
  10. Week on two pages – entire year. These are set up to accommodate the Erin Condren vertical format stickers, so if I choose to use them, I can. I’m not much of a sticker gal, but at least the squares are standard size. I use the top square of the day for my to-do list, usually 3-5 items; the middle square for appointments and the bottom square for holidays, family, notes – that square is still flexible. The months are separated by card-stock calendar pages from Target Dollar Spot (Bullseye Playground) that I punched to fit the planner. I could also have used monthly tabs but this is what I’m doing for now. There is plenty of room. Regarding my task list, as I complete each task, I check it off. When I’ve completed the tasks for the day, I put a star above the date. Then, if I look back to find unfinished tasks, I can skip the days with stars.
  11. Financial section. The first part is a month on two pages, back-to-back, where I’ll simply note when I receive a payment and from what source. I want to track to see if there’s a pattern. As my business grows, this may be eliminated. I considered doing it on a month on one page vertical format, but this will bring me more of a visual.
  12. Income goals. I broke down my annual revenue goal by income category so I can track how well I’m doing compared to plan.
  13. Annual Bill Summary. This is an insert I created to track all those unexpected charges throughout the year, plus regular monthly bills. I plan to do a separate post just on this.
  14. Shopping log. This is an easy place to keep track of online orders. I normally just jot them down on paper, but now it will all be logged in one safe place.
  15. Business Expenses. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to include this or not, but I’ll try it for a year. I created my own rather than purchase because for me they were easy to do and I can print additional ones as required. My business is still small enough that logging these expenses rather than just using an app is easy enough.
  16. Wishlist. Some items may be more necessities, but a girl can wish, can’t she?
  17. A few sheets of blank note paper.

Month on two pages and the week on two pages inserts are from Etsy shop owner SewMuchCrafting. Dashboards and bookmarks are from Etsy shop owner TheFabulousPlanner. Stickers come from several Etsy shops but I have to give a shoutout to PaperLovingMommy. I use a variety of stickers from her but my absolute favorite are her annual holiday stickers. She has the most complete set on Etsy. They really make the holidays stand out on the calendar pages, and she includes things like daylight savings time. Sometimes she sells out so they won’t show up in a search. Just check back periodically and you’ll find them!

I do maintain electronic copies on some of these items, like the annual bill summary and, of course, revenues and expenses. I also track website traffic and social media likes/follows in a spreadsheet that is separate from my planner.

That’s it! As I said, I’ll be describing some of these in more detail in a future post. If there’s something you’d like me to describe in more detail, just let me know!

Enjoy!

Cindi

Chic from Home: My 2017 Planner Setup Part 1

 

My 2017 Planner Overview Part 1

My journey to finding planner peace has been a long and circuitous one. Have I reached planner nirvana? I’m not sure, but I think 2017 should be close. Check back in a few months to see how it’s going.

But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First, let me give you a brief overview of my 2017 planner setup. I’ll post more detailed blogs on the three (yes, three!) main planners in the next few days. If we’re lucky, at some point soon I may even do a setup video. 🙂

This past year, I’d been using the Erin Condren Life Planner (ECLP) and quite enjoyed it for the most part. However, I really wanted to try a binder system as there were many custom inserts I saw on Etsy, in a planner group or wanted to create myself that would not work in that format. I spent hours outlining what I needed in order to achieve maximum productivity. So, 2017 will be the year of the binder!

I’ll be using three main planners with three (or more) minor ones for now. Each has a distinct purpose and if I utilize them correctly, this setup should keep me happy. I may add, adjust or subtract items as time goes on, but that’s the joy of a binder or disc planner. You can make changes whenever you like.

Here’s a quick overview of my planner setup for 2017:

  1. A5 Original Filofax Deep Teal – This will be the main workhorse for the year, housing calendars by week and by month.
  2. Louis Vuitton Monogram MM Agenda – This sweet baby will keep notes and ideas well organized until I want to use them.
  3. A5 Original Filofax Nude Patent – I’ll be trying my version of the 43 folder GTD system this year. Mine is actually 55, but who’s counting?
  4. Personal Filofax Purple Patent – I’m keeping this handy to use for specific project plans.
  5. Personal Punctuate Planner from Barnes & Noble – This will be a list holder.
  6. Mini Binder – I think I’ve finally found a way to organize my stickers!

As I’d never used a binder system before, the Filofaxes and LV were purchased preloved. They’re all in fantastic condition and I was very grateful to save some money!

I’ll do individual blog posts on the first three, and a combined post for the last three. If I add any more, I’ll let you know!

Thanks for reading and I hope that something I’ve utilized in my planner setup will help you to find planner peace.

Enjoy!

Cindi

Cindi’s Thoughts – How do you handle confidential information?

Confidential Information

How do you handle confidential information?

There’s been a lot of talk in the press lately about how confidential matters have been handled, and I was just curious where people stood on this subject. Let’s view it from a business perspective.

I worked in Silicon Valley for many years where I was given a lot of confidential information regarding product development, product launches and any number of other projects in order to properly do my job. I also observed early on in my career that even at the same company, not everyone was read into a project. So, if employees within a company aren’t allowed to know about the subject, why would someone think they can share that material with anyone outside?

To me, confidential is confidential. Whether obligated by a formal written agreement or a verbal acknowledgement, confidential data should not be shared with anyone who is not directly involved in the matter at hand.

Some confidentiality agreements (also known as non-disclosure agreements or NDAs) allow you to share the data with those you contract with to help execute the project. However, the agreements typically state that you are responsible for all those you share that knowledge with to keep the information confidential until such time as it’s made public by the company. So, don’t share unless you must.

When you share confidential information, you do a number of things. First, you potentially undermine the success of the project. If information is released too soon from a source other than a corporate announcement, a lot of bad things can happen including the complete failure of the project or business. In some cases, the information is never to be made public and is strictly for use within the company.

Second, you put the person you told at risk of releasing the information accidentally. It’s a small world and you never know who knows whom or what data might be valuable to them. Making an off-the-cuff remark while waiting for your Pumpkin Spice Latte at the Starbucks counter at Target could be overheard by a potential competitor even though it was a seemingly innocent location.

Third, you risk your own reputation. If people can’t count on you to keep your mouth shut, they won’t tell you anything. You’ll be deemed untrustworthy and may lose your job, your clients or even relationships with friends or family, depending on the circumstances. Why risk it?

Confidential means everyone is not privy to the information. In this age of social media, some people feel they need to share everything. Sharing confidential information on social media can get you fired before your next paycheck. Don’t do it!

I’ve had people hit me with the spouse or significant other excuse, that spouses tell each other everything. Really? EVERYTHING? And, when I do raise that argument with others, I’m often told of stories of couples who were married for decades and never quite knew what their spouses did for a living because they were required to keep their work life confidential.

If I look back to my Silicon Valley days, it wasn’t unusual for people who worked for different companies to wed. With all the secretive product development going on, I’m sure they didn’t sit around the dinner table sharing design specs.

Keeping your mouth shut and doing the right thing can have a negative effect as well. At one point, I had been working with a client for about a year when another company contacted me to consult with them. I was really excited until I discovered that their products would compete with those that my current client had in their long range plan. I had to turn down the new client inquiry. Unfortunately, my existing client eventually chose not to pursue that market so I lost the opportunity to work with a great company on a long term contract, impacting my bottom line. Still, it was the right thing to do.

So, now that I’ve rambled a bit about my observations regarding the sharing of confidential material, where do you stand?

CIndi

TTPD – June is for Vendor and Contractor Review

June is Vendor Contractor Month

Greetings Sparklers!

Summer is inching its way towards us, but work goes on year-round and it’s time to take another peek at our monthly topics. We’re up to June!

In my book, Tame Those Pesky Details: 12 months of business tips and tasks (Aunti Cindi Presents), June is devoted to vendors, contractors and consultants. Now is the time to double check all your current agreements to see that you’re getting the best service for the best price while considering which vendors you no longer need or others which you do.

This can be a tough month for some people while others enjoy the challenge. Some people like to negotiate. Others will pay full price no matter what. Some business owners will nickel and dime their suppliers to the tenth of a penny but balk at their own customers requesting a discount for early or all cash payment. Other business owners are afraid to call for service or necessary meetings because they know a sales pitch will accompany them, forgetting that their own businesses depend upon the same such sales calls. I think most of us fall somewhere in between.

Here are a few steps to getting through the month and hopefully saving some money.

  1. Review all current vendor/consultant agreements. Are you paying for something you don’t use? Are you unhappy with a particular supplier? Are you receiving the best price for what they have to offer? Make a list of questions for when you contact the vendor.
  2. Pull out your June folder and review others who have contacted you and piqued your interest. Is there someone in the folder you’d like to interview and request a quote?
  3. Pick up the phone and call all your current vendors. Tell them you’re doing your annual review and you’d just like a few minutes to chat. Then, ask all the questions you have and remember one of them should be, do you have any new services or packages that might better suit my needs?
  4. Gather the results of your research and decide who you plan to use for the next year and at what price.
  5. Work your new figures into your budget for the next 12 months, or the terms of the contract.

It doesn’t take much effort to save money. In the last few weeks, I received a sizeable credit from one vendor just for doing an annual review with them. I didn’t change my contract because they no longer offer the package I have and any changes would incur higher fees. However, just by calling them and doing a review, they give me an invoice credit for being a loyal customer.

Another vendor has reworked their offerings and, with a few minor tweaks on my part, I saved $50/month on my agreement. Might not seem like much, but it only took a few minutes and it resulted in saving $600/year. If I can do that with five vendors, that’s $3,000/year savings just for a few simple phone calls. It all adds up.

I’ve also replaced one vendor with another, finding one that does an excellent job for my needs at a lower price.

One of my pet peeves is not offering a discount or perk to a long-term, loyal customer. Many businesses only offer them to first time customers, hoping to build their clientele. While I think that’s a good strategy for them, there should also be some reward for those who stick around a long time, something like an Anniversary Discount. I talk about my own experiences in my book, How to Screw Up a Good Idea: Insights for Entrepreneurs (Aunti Cindi Presents). I’ve been on both sides of the equation and hopefully, I’ve learned.

It’s nearly impossible to be successful in business by yourself. Whether you have your own staff or a team of vendors, contractors and consultants, it’s important to have the right people at the right price providing exactly what you need.

Sparkle On!

Your Aunti Cindi

This post contains affiliate links. However, all opinions are our own.

Caregiving – 4 Tips for when Mom’s moving in

Mom's Moving In

Caregiving – 4 Tips for when Mom’s moving in

Years ago, back before my Dad passed away, I begged my parents to move in with me in California. They were getting older and I felt they needed some extra attention. Unfortunately, I was traveling a lot at the time and they didn’t want to move across the country where they didn’t know anyone except for me who would have to leave them on their own for days or weeks on end.

I eventually moved to Las Vegas to be closer to family and, once again, asked my parents to move in. They still weren’t interested. They wanted to stay as independent as they could for as long as they could. They’d lived in their Midwest home for decades and were not interested in moving.

Once my Dad passed away, I asked my Mom to move in with me. She said to give her at least two years. Well, it took almost 10 years, and she’s now been living with me about five years. Lots of things have changed over that time and the world I anticipated having with my Mom as my roommate soon turned to pretty much fulltime caregiver as she’s now nearly 100 years old.

I wouldn’t give it up for the world! It’s an honor to take care of my Mom and, although some days can be challenging, it’s also very fulfilling. I’m blessed to have her around so long and she makes me smile every day.

I actually tried to start blogging about my experience when she first moved in but it was such an adjustment for both of us, I’m not sure I could have contributed much. Now, five years down the road, I’ve learned a ton, not only through my own experience but through others who have shared with me or by observation. So, periodically, I’ll share some thoughts/opinions about what I learned taking care of my Mom. This is by no means meant to be medical advice. This is just the experience of a daughter taking care of her Mom.

Here are a few tips to get us started:

  1. They won’t move until they’re ready.
    No matter how badly you want them to move or how hard you try, parents can be stubborn. Who can blame them? Don’t you want to be independent for as long as you can? Suddenly, once they decide, the move can’t come quickly enough. When Mom finally gave me the go-ahead, due to my schedule and the weather, it actually took nearly nine months. We continued to talk about it the whole time, and when it was time to do the move, she left the decisions in my hands. She was ready.
  2. Make them feel at home.
    This is a hard one. You have your house just perfect, then suddenly you’re adding another member to the family. It’s like combining households when you get married. Prepare a place that’s all theirs, like a bedroom and bathroom, but don’t limit their existence to that small space. Have you seen Frazier? Well, my Mom plopped her favorite chair in the living room in front of the television when she first moved in and it’s still there. She’s also very fond of clocks. I counted 77 at her residence before I packed her up. I told her she could take 12. I think we’ve hung eight.
  3. Bring stuff that’s familiar to them.
    Sure, you want to buy all new furniture to make them feel special, or perhaps it’s already in the room they’ll use. Maybe it’s a cross-country move and it’s cheaper to just leave the old stuff behind and buy new. Doesn’t matter. It’s important for them to wake up in the morning and be surrounded by things they’re familiar with. We brought my Mom’s bedroom furniture (not the mattress) with her and she’s grateful we did, although furniture and clocks aren’t the only things to make one happy. I’ll never forget the look on my Mom’s face when I pulled her favorite paring knife from the box. She felt at home. It was something she recognized and that, combined with other goodies we brought along just for her, made her start to feel comfortable. She even uses her own dishes because she’s used them for years.
  4. Hold their hand.
    The older they are, the harder the move will be. My Mom went from being able to easily walk to all her favorite stores to not even knowing the address and phone number where she lives. She was scared. Every sound was new. When we go anywhere, she immediately grabs for my hand for fear of getting lost. Chances are, at her age, she wouldn’t go anywhere alone but when we’re out together, she’s still a bit scared. As she told me, she held my hand when I was little and now it’s my turn to hold hers.

There’s lots more to come so please come back for future posts.

I am,

Your Aunti Cindi