RocketGirl

Filling the Gaps When Things Get Slow

Filling the Gaps When Things Get Slow

Life at my house took a drastic turn over the weekend. Tax season is in full swing so Greg (he’s a CPA) is pretty much living at the office (poor guy!). Not only that, my 16-year-old daughter, Emily, left for a fabulous vacation with her dad for a week.

Both of which mean lots of alone time for me!

As someone who’s used to – and enjoys – feeling at capacity most of the time, I wasn’t sure what to do with myself. I began by cleaning out every closet in the house, a task which actually turned out to be quite rewarding. Next, I began reading Simon Sinek’s, Start With Why.

After a while, though, it occurred to me that this newly found time is rare and temporary. So I decided to take more deliberate steps to improve things here at RocketGirl headquarters.

If you’re interested in doing the same, here’s what I recommend: READ MORE…

Is Your Business Ready for the 'College Tour'?

Is Your Business Ready for the 'College Tour'?

You get the picture. This “soft stuff” matters. And while none of it replaces the need for you to do a wonderful job with your clients, if you lose them during the “campus tour phase,” you may never get that opportunity!

If You Don’t Know It’s Broken, How Can You Fix It?

Broken_glass.jpg

Our JILLS have great things to say and we're so happy to share it! 

Belinda Wasser is the founder of Rocket Girl Solutions and a guest contributor to THE JILLS NEWS. With over 25 years of experience in business workflow and logistics, Belinda offers up practical advice on running your business so it isn't running you. We're proud to have Belinda as one of our JILLS OF ALL TRADES and welcome her expertise in working with solo professionals and small business owners as their part-time business managers. Belinda loves taking care of the daily details and minutiae so business owners can get back to the work they love doing!

I was poking around my client Stephen’s web site the other day. We just began working together and he had asked for my opinion of the site and its content.

Before long, I found my way to the Contact page. There was a form for visitors to get in touch, so I filled it in with my own info to see what would happen.

I pushed “submit” and up popped a screen with this message: “Thank you for using InstaForm Plug-in for WordPress.” Uh oh. Clearly this was a default message that should have been customized but never was.

Wait. It gets better.

A few minutes later, I received an automated “welcome message” email, one that looked like it was generated by a computer from the ’80s (courier type font). Among other things, the email said, “Thank you for contacting us. A representative will be in touch with you shortly.”

A representative, you say? Odd, since Stephen works alone (and always has). You get the picture.

Fortunately, these were easy problems to fix. But the experience highlighted a bigger problem I often come across when reviewing systems and processes of small businesses: Somebody has set something up … but nobody has ever tested it!

The moral of the story? Look at every aspect of your business from an outsider’s point of view and make sure everything functions as expected.

Here are a few places to check to get you started:

1. Your voicemail messages. When someone calls your voicemail, do they get an automated message repeating your phone number? Do they get a message that sounds flat and dry? Are they asked to “leave a message at the beep,” as if anybody in 2016 still isn’t sure how to use voicemail?

Or, instead, do they hear your happy self, asking them to leave a message and telling them you’ll get back to them. (Easy trick: Stand up and smile when you record your voicemail greeting message!)

2. Your newsletter sign-up process. How easy is it to fill in the form? How many questions do you ask (the fewer the better)? What happens after you hit the submit button? Is an email confirmation sent? What does it say and how does it look?

In short, how can you use this as an opportunity to stand out and make a great first impression?

3. Your shopping cart. Do you have things for sale on your site? Here as well, test it by buying some things and seeing what happens. Make sure the coupon codes work. See how easy (or confusing) it is to check out and complete a purchase.

Remember, fixing problems when they occur is important. But unless you are testing your processes and systems on an ongoing basis, you may never know that anything is broken! Little things matter – especially when you are a small business – make sure everything is ship shape.

Originally published on Rocket Girl Solutions: https://rocketgirlsolutions.com/dont-know-broken-can-fix/

Spend Money to Make Money

Our JILLS have great things to say and we're so happy to share it! 

Belinda Wasser is the founder of Rocket Girl Solutions and a guest contributor to THE JILLS NEWS. With over 25 years of experience in business workflow and logistics, Belinda offers up practical advice on running your business so it isn't running you. We're proud to have Belinda as one of our JILLS OF ALL TRADES and welcome her expertise in working with solo professionals and small business owners as their part-time business managers. Belinda loves taking care of the daily details and minutiae so business owners can get back to the work they love doing!  Our JILLS have great things to say and we're so happy to share it in THE JILLS NEWS. 

Our JILLS offer up some of our best tips and in this post, Belinda reminds us that we need to rely on the skills and talents of others to truly build our businesses. 

Belinda Wasser, founder of Rocket Girl Solutions

Belinda Wasser, founder of Rocket Girl Solutions

Authored by Belinda Wasser

I was in Rosie’s on Elm Street last Thursday, enjoying a few quiet minutes at the end of the day with my friend Jennifer. We were talking about the usual things – business, kids, weather and more business.

And then she said, “It seems like you have no problem spending money to make money.”

I don’t, but I was definitely surprised to hear her say that. To me, this isn’t just a good approach; it’s the only approach that really works if you want to grow your business.

Here are some of the things I had mentioned during our conversation which prompted her to say what she said:

Debbie Faye is working with me on improving my speaking presentation.”

“I hired a business coach, Jane Pollak, to help me reach my goals for the year.”

“I’m working with Scarlett DeBease to update my wardrobe.”

“I’m interviewing new accountants to help me organize my business.”

Later, as I was driving home, I realized how happy I am about what has now become my standard approach: Paying wonderful, capable people to help me work better, faster and smarter.

In other words, instead of doing everything myself (the way I did for years), I surround myself with experts. That’s real leverage.

Unfortunately, lots of solo professionals don’t see the world this way. To them, spending money (especially if things are feeling financially tight) feels like an extravagance. What I’ve found, though, is that you have to spend it to make it!

When is it time to get help?

In almost all cases, the answer is: Sooner than you think! In my experience, people wait way too long to bring in support, often putting it off until things have gotten really bad with missed deadlines and worse.

So, here are two questions to get you started:

  1. Are you doing work you’re not really qualified for?

    Tinkering with your website, doing your own taxes, setting up an email newsletter are all business essentials best handled by experts. Maybe you’re good at some of these things, but many people aren’t, resulting in poor quality work that takes a lot of time to complete.

  2. Are you doing work that’s below your pay grade?

    There’s nothing shameful about putting together your own client gifts or running down to Kinkos to make a bunch of copies for tonight’s presentation. But much of this work can be done less expensively by somebody else. If you’re spending time on this, you’re not spending time doing higher value tasks.

Simply put, you can’t build much of a business if you’re not willing to rely on other people. Find others to support the high quality – high paying! – work you do best and pretty soon you’ll also be spending money to make money.

Take Time To Prep

Our JILLS have great things to say and we're so happy to share it! 

Belinda Wasser is the founder of Rocket Girl Solutions and a guest contributor to THE JILLS NEWS. With over 25 years of experience in business workflow and logistics, Belinda offers up practical advice on running your business so it isn't running you. We're proud to have Belinda as one of our JILLS OF ALL TRADES and welcome her expertise in working with solo professionals and small business owners as their part-time business managers. Belinda loves taking care of the daily details and minutiae so business owners can get back to the work they love doing!  Our JILLS have great things to say and we're so happy to share it in THE JILLS NEWS. 

Our JILLS offer up some of our best tips...

In this post, Belinda offers up her thinking and some strategies on setting up efficient systems to run your biz!

Authored by Belinda Wasser

I hate to cook.  In fact, I don’t even like eating that much. If I had my way I would be more like a car – hungry every few weeks for fuel, but that’s about it.

Luckily for me, my husband Michael does all the cooking at our house. And not just everyday cooking, I might add, but amazing and healthy delicious cooking. So even though he was willing to cook this past Sunday on Father’s Day, I decided to step up to the plate and give him a break.

Jill & author,  Belinda Wasser-Rocketgirl Solutions

Jill & author,  Belinda Wasser-Rocketgirl Solutions

 

Since the kitchen is kind of a foreign country to me, it’s not surprising that I got into trouble pretty quickly.

I didn’t set up the basics before I got going, so before I knew it, my hands and the counter were covered with “chicken juice.” I couldn’t get the supplies I needed from the cupboards without contaminating the whole place with salmonella, so I had to stop and wash my hands about a thousand times.

While it wasn’t quite “a disaster,” my time in the kitchen was inefficient. It took me a long time to get ready and a long time to clean up, and dinner was about an hour later than planned.

Michael, on the other hand, has a system for cooking.He knows what to do before he gets started, and he’s very meticulous with the prep work.He puts on his apron, gets out all the ingredients and, from what I can tell, doesn’t start the actual cooking until everything is prepared, sliced and diced.

He’s so organized about it that everything is ready at the same time, no matter how many things he’s cooking or how many people are eating.

In the midst of my cooking troubles last weekend, I realized that, for many small businesses, this is what it feels like when they don’t have the basics in place.There’s confusion, extra work, missed deadlines, and almost always missed opportunities and additional cost.

In short, it’s all about the prep work.And whether you’re starting a new business or you’ve been running one for decades, here are three important ways to get your prep work working for you:

  1. Organize Your Contacts. No matter what your business, always remember that it’s people who hire you, buy from you, and refer you.For many businesses, contacts are the most valuable assets, so it’s critical to get them organized.

    When I work on client databases, I begin by pulling together everyone the client knows, without editing people out.In my experience, anyone you know can refer someone to you, so don’t exclude them.

    Find a system that’s easy to use and allows you to categorize each contact. I use Outlook.It’s simple to use, I can easily export my information when I need to, and it easily syncs with my iPhone and iPad.

    Once your contacts are organized it’s much easier to keep in touch and build your LinkedIn connections, Facebook friends, and Twitter followers.

  2. Organize Your Work. One of the first things I do when I take on a new project or client is set up a folder in Outlook to store related email.

    Next, I set up a folder on my computer to store all of my electronic files, and a physical folder for the rest.I even have a dedicated spiral notebook for each client or project (see more on that, below…).If the project is complex and has lots of moving parts, I keep a detailed project plan at my fingertips so I can jump from project to project quickly.

    You don’t need to use my approach, but you do need to have an approach.Decide what works best for you and put it into action.

  3. Organize Your Financials. This one is a biggie so get professional help if necessary. One of my clients, for example, was having trouble tracking where the money was coming from.I suggested that he deposit each check separately to make it easier to match deposit records with invoices when reconciling accounts.

    Keep a notebook in your car to record your mileage and take a few minutes to make notes on your receipts so you can efficiently deduct your expenses or pass them through to clients.Make the time to reconcile your bank and credit card accounts monthly or hire someone to do it for you.

Remember, while it may feel overwhelming at times to manage the intricacies of running a business, much of that stress is often due to a lack of clear and efficient systems.

Take the time to set yours up in these three important areas and you’ll have more time to do the work you love.

Oh, gotta go! Dinner’s on the table and (thankfully) I didn’t cook it!  - Belinda Wasser