Mary Wu, Virtual Assistant

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Monthly Archives: June 2013

Help is always given to those who ask

ID-10069211This week I’ve celebrated National Small Business Week by writing about 5 different entrepreneurs. They are all wonderful people and I’m glad to have them in my corner.

But you may ask, “What if I want to hang my own shingle, who can help me out?” You may also ask, “I’ve already got my business but I need some extra help.” Well I’d like to share a well-kept secret for you.

The US Government – you know, those folks in Washington that tend to waste our time and our money – every now and then they manage to get something right. One of the things they’ve managed to get right is to have two different groups under the umbrella of the U.S. Small Business Administration. One is SCORE (which used to be Service Core of Retired Executives but they changed the name after they determined it makes the advisors sound too old) and the Small Business Development Centers.

Both services offer volunteer mentors, both services offer business counseling and both offer free or inexpensive workshops or webinars. SCORE seems to have a website that’s easier to navigate.

One thing to remember about both of these services is since they are under the umbrella of the Small Business Administration, part of the funding comes out of your tax dollars. So if you’re a tax paying citizen, you’ve ALREADY paid for them.

Remember, when you’re staring at the blank business plan or you’re down to your last cup of coffee, call the Small Business Development Center or SCORE. They’re from the government and they’re here to help you.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

The Magic’s in the Music

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This week I’m celebrating National Small Business Week. I’m going to take the 5 “work” days of the week and give 5 “shout outs” to local small businesses. John Donne said that “No Man is an Island,” and this is more than true in business. Even a solopreneur (an entrepreneur who works alone) needs a support team; collaborators, brainstorming partners, or someone to tell them to keep on keeping on when they’re staring at an empty cup of coffee and a blank idea sheet.

What does the life of a typical musician look like. Well I actually have no idea but for one musician her life looks like, Director of Children’s Choirs at her church, instructor at two high schools, private lesson in her home, instructor at a nearby community college, playing with a small combo, not to mention continually learning through classes and private lessons and playing with the local symphony orchestra.

(Excuse me while I go take a nap)

For any business, be it a coach or a gift basket designer or a photographer or a graphic artist or a musician, when you look at what they do and think “gee, that looks easy” remember many hours go into perfecting any craft or skill. So even if you don’t need use of someone’s particular skills, keep your eyes and ears open, because you just might know someone that needs some gifts or music or design or coaching or accounting services or contracting or … and if you know and trust someone, refer your friends to them.

 

Graphic Greatness

This week I’m celebrating National Small Business Week. I’m going to take the 5 “work” days of the week and give 5 “shout outs” to local small businesses. John Donne said that “No Man is an Island,” and this is more than true in business. Even a solopreneur (an entrepreneur who works alone) needs a support team; collaborators, brainstorming partners, or someone to tell them to keep on keeping on when they’re staring at an empty cup of coffee and a blank idea sheet. 486853_4633643880534_1113124574_n

Today I’d like to give a shout out to part of the graphic design group of my church (and my life, and all of Naperville), Suzanne Wills of Suzanne Wills Design AND Buffington Design and Illustrations.

Suzanne is from Ireland and I think some of the magic of that island has followed her here to the states. Suzanne is self-employed, helping people with design and illustrations and websites (she did my logo so we know she’s fabulous). She also works for a design firm. She ALSO helps out a local friend who had a family change in their print shop. She ALSO sets up the graphics for worship services. She’s ALSO an avid gamer and a runner and a bass player. So I’m fairly convinced that she has a time turner hiding somewhere so she can manage it all.

Sometimes the small business owner inspires us simply by us being able to look and say “if she can do all THAT, surely I can make a few follow up calls.”

Suzanne, thanks for the logo, thanks for the inspiration, and I owe you a Guinness.

Sometimes you get twice as much.

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This week I’m celebrating National Small Business Week. I’m going to take the 5 “work” days of the week and give 5 “shout outs” to local small businesses. John Donne said that “No Man is an Island,” and this is more than true in business. Even a solopreneur (an entrepreneur who works alone) needs a support team; collaborators, brainstorming partners, or someone to tell them to keep on keeping on when they’re staring at an empty cup of coffee and a blank idea sheet.

Except today I’m cheating and introducing you to TWO people.

First is Ron Ben Joseph of various places AND Authentic Road Productions, and second is his right hand (and better half) Kerry Ben Joseph of Kerramel Photography (and no, it’s not an accident that it sounds like a sweet treat).

When I was in the process of researching whether or not to start up a Virtual Assistant business, I talked to quite a few people. I saw small business owners and entrepreneurs (and solopreneurs) as my most likely clients, so I wanted to brainstorm with a few small business owners and see if there was a need (and what that need was).

At the time I didn’t know that a quick cup of coffee would end up being 6 coaching sessions but Ron is a fabulous coach. Ron is very good at connecting with people and communicating in their “language” and having them realize that they DO have the confidence to chase their dreams.

One of the things that was a concern of mine was getting a good headshot. I know a number of good photographers for babies, or pets, or birds, but someone that is able to shoot people of all ages and stages is hard to find. One day Ron brought the better half of Kerramel Media (and her equipment) along and probably the best was to describe the results (which are seen on my blog and LinkedIn profile) is to say that my husband almost got in trouble when he saw the photos.

He was pretty amazed at how much better I look.

I’m the type of person that loves to be BEHIND the lens, I like to follow people around and TAKE the pictures.  Usually the front of the camera is fairly uncomfortable for me, and Kerry made it be, well, not too frightening.

Some things can be bootstrapped, but sometimes you need a “professional” touch.

What is a Mensch

1-liseThis week I’m celebrating National Small Business Week. I’m going to take the 5 “work” days of the week and give 5 “shout outs” to local small businesses. John Donne said that “No Man is an Island,” and this is more than true in business. Even a solopreneur (an entrepreneur who works alone) needs a support team; collaborators, brainstorming partners, or someone to tell them to keep on keeping on when they’re staring at an empty cup of coffee and a blank idea sheet.

Today we’ll meet Lisé Schleicher, owner of Basketworks.

Back in 1997, with one in diapers (and one close to on the way), Lisé left corporate America and started up a gift basket company. This was a natural fit for Lisé because she was always the person that knew all the “crafty” stuff, cross-stitch … crochet … no baby was without a blanket if Lisé was around (and why yes, she could crochet AND square dance at the same time).

Lisé makes AWESOME gift baskets for any occasion, new moms, sports fans, she’ll even have stuff for Stanley Cup Champ items. (I wonder if she has something special for someone suffering from caffeine withdrawal??)

But more important that her business is how she conducts her business. Lisé has always given a some of her income back to the community (whether it be her Shul (Shir Hadash) or the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation or …) and she is a fabulous mentor to other businesses. Before there was such a thing as small business coaches Lisé was (and is) always willing to help other business people in her community.

When you help a small business, you are helping that business, but you are also helping the community around that business.

An “Insightful” Partner

This week I’m celebrating National Small Business Week. I’m going to take the 5 “work” days of the week and give 5 “shout outs” to local small businesses. John Donne said that “No Man is an Island,” and this is more than true in business. Even a solopreneur (an entrepreneur who works alone) needs a support team; collaborators, brainstorming partners, or someone to tell them to keep on keeping on when they’re staring at an empty cup of coffee and a blank idea sheet.

Evie

Today we’ll meet Evie Burke, productivity coach at One Insight Closer.

Through a bit of coach training, and a few lessons learned in the school of life, Evie has developed into “The Entrepreneur’s Productivity Coach.” She offers one on one coaching for you and your business, and she also has a very informative newsletter, website and a blog that covers topics from managing tasks to preparing for vacation to becoming unstuck (HOW many of us get stuck at times).

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been hit with an insight as I’m looking over her weekly newsletter, either thinking “WHY didn’t *I* think of that” or “I USED to know that, when did I forget it.” So a SHOUT OUT to Solopreneur Evie Burke of One Insight Closer, for keeping me on track and increasing my productivity, one insight at a time.