Monday, July 21, 2008

Accidently Green

I really didn’t try to start a “green” business. It was never my intention. Quite frankly, I am a man-made global warming skeptic. (I don’t really want to debate it, so I’m not going to.) But trying to work in the virtual world makes me accidently green. Here’s how:

1. I don’t commute 5 days a week. When I was commuting, I was travelling 20 miles to get to work. Thankfully, I didn’t have to deal with rush hour often, but it was still a long drive. I still drive for business, after all, I need to network and find clients and some clients want on-site support, which I will happily provide if they truly need it.

2. I make dual use of my home. It’s home; it’s office. Whatever it is at the moment, it is a dual use space, but please don’t tell those sticklers in the HOA. It might be against the rules. Thankfully, I’m on the board and long ago (when I was still employed – for someone else) we decided that as long as businesses didn’t add to the burden of the neighborhood by adding excessive traffic, home businesses were acceptable.

3. Oh yeah, I also use a lot of CFLs i.n my home, if you want to count those. The main reason is because I’m cheap, so CFLs are a better value overall for lifecycle and electric savings.

4. I use almost no paper anymore. Because a lot of work is passed electronically, I don’t print the reams of paper I did when I worked in offices. Some of the change comes from using QuickBooks, which reduced paper use over a specialty accounting software, which printed every transaction, usually twice, sometimes three times. So now QB payroll produces 7 or 8 pages, where the old program produced at least 30 pages of reports, all vital for good record-keeping.

I feel bad sometimes, like when I attend my Chamber of Commerce “Green” events. Those people or at least some of them are true believers. I just fell into it because of my business model. I’m sure there are others in my situation, but few of us will admit it – at least at the green-themed meetings. I’m accidently green. None of this means that I won’t use my greenness to my benefit. It's a great marketing tool. I just may need to avoid the whole global-warming, the-sky-is-falling discussions so that I don’t out myself as a skeptic.

Maybe I can plant a tree to assuage my guilt. I hear planting a tree is an acceptable alternative to truly buying into the movement or something like that. Have you ever just accidently joined a movement you don’t really believe in – for the marketing possibilities or any other reason?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Starting a Business

I’ll tell the truth…paperwork isn’t really a fascinating topic. Creating forms is fun. Collating results is fun, especially if I can create some charts to display the results. Filling out forms isn’t that much fun. It is something I’m very good at, however. No one can be a successful administrator for over 14 years without becoming good at filling out all types of forms.
If I had to fill out forms all day every day, I’d be crazy. Thankfully, office administration involves so much more than forms. If you look at your administrators, they usually answer phones, prepare reports, type memos, prepare presentation materials, research issues, file, organize, and are often the face of the organization to the customer. Most importantly, they have to keep the boss happy and make him/her look as good as possible. (How they do that is a topic for another blog post.) A good office assistant is the ultimate example of a great multi-tasker, performing any 2 or 3 tasks at the same time.
Now that I am also a business owner, I fantasize about the good ol’ days where I only had to juggle 2 or 3 things at a time. In addition to administrative work, I’ve added sales, marketing, networking, service, business management, and relationship management to everything else. It is an interesting transition to go from support staff to head honcho. So far, I’m not sure I know what a good balance is that will allow me to also have a life away from my computer. I have to find people to hire me to provide administrative services, but I also have to actually do the work – with superior quality and a quick turn-around. And my most important function is still making people look good – both myself and my client.
There are a lot of small business owners and managers in the same position as I am. That is why I decided to start my business. I realized that there are a lot of people who start a business and then they get so bogged down with all of the administrative stuff that they can’t spend the time they need to bring in customers, service customers, and see their families. It’s all about balance, and I want to help small business owners find balance and give them professional administrative support. I hope that my clients will eventually outgrow my services and need to hire an administrative employee (and use me for special projects), but before then, they may be able to invest in production employees before they incur all of the expenses associated with hiring an administrative person.
I am the middle-ground between doing it all yourself and hiring an employee. Go to the “Contact Us” page on my website to find out how to contact me about helping your business. I’ll be glad to help you determine how I can help you grow your business, not your workload.