Category Archives: Aunti Cindi Presents

Tame Those Pesky Details – February – How well can your business run without you?

TTPD – February – How well can your business run without you?

If you’re a solopreneur or small business owner, chances are you’re focused on growing your business. Or, at the very least, maintaining a smooth operation. A good mindset to have, but what happens when – Heaven forbid – something unexpected occurs and you’re unable to helm the day-to-day activities of your company?

If you were part of a large organization, there would be multiple people at the ready to take over in your absence. But, if you’re a one-person show, it’s very possible that no one else has a complete understanding of how your business is run. Every business has so many different facets that it’s more than just leaving passwords, mission statements and banking information for your temporary CEO; contracts, trademarks and even fonts and colors of your logo are all crucial information.

I’m following along with my book, Tame Those Pesky Details (TTPD), where I focus on one specific item each month to keep your business in tip top shape, February is Legalities and it covers a wide-range of issues. Having a way to provide a temporary – or even permanent – means of understanding and operating your business will bring peace of mind.

I’ve been busy updating a lot of personal and business items lately, and although I have binders and electronic and paper files filled with the proper data, I realized that it would take a concerted effort for someone to step into my shoes should that unexpected need arise. I also discovered that I was missing some crucial information because my business has been operating for so long and I’ve moved so many times, some things have gotten misplaced.

I also think in terms of emergency preparedness. I keep hearing stories of people who had to leave their homes with moments’ notice and left behind some key business info because they were unprepared and were worried about saving their lives, which, of course, is most important.

In addition, I’m looking forward to expanding my business in the foreseeable future. Parts of this data collection can easily be organized into an employee reference manual. A little extra work up front will pay big dividends down the line. Again, this is all normal in a larger organization, but smaller businesses might not view this as a high priority. I’m all about having a solid foundation to build upon so this data collection and coordination will benefit me greatly as I move forward. Having all my info at the ready will save me time and frustration and enable me to easily update any changes. Whew!

While you’re organizing your business, think about vendors or employees who perform key tasks that you personally don’t know how to do, for example, adding/deleting items from your online store. This may seem like a small item but your inability to make these simple changes can have an impact. That employee or vendor can disappear on a moment’s notice and your ability to run your business smoothly will be hampered until you either learn how to do it or find someone new to work with.

Aside from determining the safest place to keep this info, my next decision is whom to share it with. And, I’m even thinking about a permanent succession plan for down the road. If there’s someone in my family I’d like to groom to take over the business, one can never start the process too early!

It will take a couple of months to pull this all together, I suspect, but once I’ve completed it, I’ll post a free checklist in my store. I might even do another blog post with more details. So, keep your eyes on all my social media so you can access the information as soon as possible.

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!

How do you organize your business data? Do you have a plan for someone to take over in case of emergency? Have you ever experienced the need to have someone step in your shoes? I’d love to hear all about it. Please leave details in the comments below.

Enjoy!

Cindi

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

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.

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

Emergency Preparedness: Backup Your Backup- 3 Tips to Keep Your Data Safe

Backup Your Backup

BACKUP YOUR BACKUP: 3 TIPS TO KEEP YOUR DATA SAFE

Greetings Sparklers!

Whether you own a business or keep a lot of personal data on your digital devices, the truth is, it can all be gone in a flash. After my own personal experience with a quickly dying computer about a year ago, I’ve been on my soapbox about reminding people to back up their data. The sad part is, I continue to find people who have never even thought about backing things up. And, once again, I had a weird technical event that reminded me to remind you to backup your backup.

There is nothing more frustrating than investing hours, days, months, years in creating a project and having it all disappear when your computer suddenly does a crash and burn. I had a situation recently where I was working on a document and when I went to save it, the program crashed and restarted but there was no autosave file to recover. I looked everywhere and even contacted a community forum where respondents were very kind but could not offer a solution for file recovery other than the steps I had already taken.

While the loss of a file in that manner is a bit unusual, the most common culprit is not backing up your devices. I feel I cannot remind people often enough. Every time I bring up the subject I meet people who lost some important part of their lives because they didn’t back up their stuff.

In the last few months alone, I’ve heard of someone who lost nearly 10,000 digital photos, an author who lost his entire novel, someone else who lost years of contacts and business data, another who kept everything on a portable drive until the drive died. I could go on, but you get the point.

In the IT world, there’s a belief in redundancy. In the prepper world, the saying is two is one and one is none. Whichever mantra you prefer doesn’t matter, as long as you’re taking the time to REGULARLY back up your digital devices.

Here are three tips to help you to keep your data safe and secure:

  1. Do your research.
    Take the time now to research and decide what is the best backup routine for you – and stick to it! I copy files every night to the cloud, then once a week copy to an external drive. I would recommend at least one external drive and a cloud backup of some sort. If you can do two external drives and keep them in different locations, one offsite, plus the cloud, that’s even better. Of course, it all depends on how much space you need.
  2. Back up all your devices.
    Desktops, laptops, tablets, phones, flash drives, memory cards – copy all of it. Check with your cellular service to see if there is a secondary way to backup your phone. You might also want to download your contacts from your phone on a regular basis…just in case.
  3. Don’t forget about your website.
    Check with your ISP/host company to verify that your entire website is backed up. In my case, the database is backed up but any external items I’ve added, such as images, videos and files are not. Twice in the last couple of months, I’ve updated my website and it completely crashed. It hadn’t happened in the previous decade but suddenly it happened twice in a short period of time. If something bad happens to your site, you want to have as little downtime as possible. I use FileZilla to transfer all my files monthly, then back them up to the cloud and on external drive.

Weird things happen when it comes to technology, so always, always, always be sure to backup your backup! I’d love to hear how you keep all your digital data safe. Please share in the comments below.

Sparkle On!

Your Aunti Cindi

Why Aunti Cindi Presents?

Aunti Cindi Presents

About a year ago I released my first books in the Aunti Cindi Presents series, including How to Screw Up a Good Idea: Insights for Entrepreneurs (Aunti Cindi Presents)
and Tame Those Pesky Details: 12 months of business tips and tasks (Aunti Cindi Presents). People have been asking me, Why Aunti Cindi Presents? So, I thought I’d give you a little background.

Over the years I’ve had several ideas for small non-fiction books that were not particularly related subject matter. I would jot thoughts down here and there but never took the time to write entire books because I felt if I released them individually, they might get lost in the vast universe of bookdom.

One day I was looking through my cache of domain names and realized I owned AuntiCindiPresents.com. I purchased it, along with AuntiCindi.com, long ago for one reason in particular. I’ve been called Aunti Cindi since I was a child, having been blessed with my first nephew when I was a mere eight-years-old. Even in business I used the name to differentiate myself from other Cindis, Cindys and Cyndees in a company. People would remember Aunti Cindi and actually got a kick out of calling me that. I felt, eventually I could put those domains to good use.

Aunti Cindi Presents opens up the opportunity to become a series of much shorter informational books than something like the Dummies, and potentially allow different authors to have books published in the series. In fact, I’ve been talking with two authors already who are interested in sharing their sage wisdom in such a manner.

The goal of the Aunti Cindi Presents series is to offer sage advice for a fulfilled life. Its tagline, Sparkle On! means to find your inner gem and shine it out to the world. Who could resist that?

The first two books in the series are business topics, but others will fall under a variety of subjects, even those I write myself. I’m busy working on two novels right now, so I’m not sure when the next in the series will debut, but keep an eye on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates.

Sparkle On!

Your Aunti Cindi

This post contains affiliate links but all opinions are my own!