Archive for April, 2010

3 Tips for Balancing a Life and a home Business

This is a guest blog post by Amber Singleton Riviere
Amber Singleton Riviere is the founder of Upstart Smart, a resource for small business owners, as well as the Rock Your Genius radio show, which focuses on small business and entrepreneurship. She also runs the Give Back Project, a web design and marketing firm, and writes for websites like Web Worker Daily on topics relevant to small business owners. You can find out about all of Amber’s work by visiting

Having a successful home business requires not only planning and diligence but also the ability to understand yourself, your limitations and your strengths. One must be able to self motivate and to separate “home” from “business” in order to be successful; besides that, here are a few other tips that have worked for me in setting up and running my home business.

Tip #1: Figure out what works for you.
It’s important to start from a place of purpose and intent. It’s so easy to get sucked into all the distractions and pulls for our attention, but we only have so much time in a day, and the bottom line is, not everything is important to us. You have to figure out what you can live with, what’s most important to you. That’s going to be different for every person, but you have to just be honest with yourself and accept what’s most important to you and make room for those things while intentionally avoiding or eliminating the things that don’t.
Also, accept that it’s okay to do that. It’s okay to say, “I don’t have time for television,” for instance. I read a magazine article recently that said that Rachel Maddow, the host of The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, does not have a television in her house. If I hosted a television show, I know that I would feel compelled to not only have a television (probably in every room), but to constantly be checking in and seeing what’s happening. We place crazy expectations on ourselves based on what we think we’re supposed to do, and it’s just not necessary. Be okay with that. Look around your life and see what you’re accommodating out a feeling of obligation, because everyone else is doing it, or even just by default, because it shows up in your life. Say, “[Television/Twitter/Facebook/etc.] doesn’t work for me. I just don’t have room for it in my life,” and then be okay with it. Sell the TV. Shut down your Twitter or Facebook account. Get rid of all the extra baggage and clutter hanging around so that you have more room for what’s most important to you.
One example in my life is dust. I’ve learned to live with a little more of it than I used to accommodate. I hate clutter, but dust doesn’t bother me so much. I used to think that I had to dust every single item and surface in my house every time I cleaned it, which was a huge chore that took up a lot of time for something that I didn’t care about. I started realizing that keeping clutter in check was much more important to me, so I started focusing my cleaning efforts on that and began dusting much less often. That works for me. Now I can use that time for other things.
Tip #2: Honor a routine.
Although it can be a dynamic thing that fluctuates with changes in your life and business, I think it’s important to maintain some sort of routine. Approach your days and weeks with intention as well. Figure out your “big rocks” to move each day or week. These are the absolute top priorities that, if nothing else got done, you’d be content only having moved them.
Divide out your days and weeks into blocks of uninterrupted time to focus on each big rock. As you go through your day or week, keep referring back to your schedule to stay on track. When you start a focused work block, turn off all distractions and give your complete attention to that one priority. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish, and at the end of a day or week, you’ll be content with your progress.
Tip #3: Think in terms of tasks and to-dos, not hours.
Many business owners were once employees and have a deeply ingrained 9-to-5 mentality. We think, again, that it’s what we’re supposed to do. If we’re not putting in forty hours each week, we must not be doing enough. Instead of watching the clock, learn to watch the to-do list.
On a clear day, when you’re not feeling pressured or tied too closely to outcomes, figure out what you really want to accomplish within your business. Set your goals, put the milestones in place to achieve them, and then break those milestones down into actionable steps. Map out your daily or weekly to-do list based on those goals, milestones, and action steps. Put three to five to-dos on a daily list and get to work. When you reach the end of the list, you’re done.
Working the opposite way (thinking you just have to be “present”) will lead to a lot of wasted, water-cooler time. Instead of working arbitrary eight-hour days, opt for working highly-focused six-hour ones. You’ll be much more aware of your productivity and much more intent on achieving results.
As business owners, it is possible to achieve a greater sense of balance in our lives, but it starts with figuring out what’s most important to us, setting aside designated time for those priorities, and getting rid of unrealistic expectations or feelings of obligation. By focusing on the things that matter most, we can feel much more satisfied with our progress and have a greater sense of control over our direction in life and business.

Contractors going Green

Contractors are going green big time! Let it be installing shading systems, roofing, flooring, or window and blind cleaning, there are contractors who do it well and who do it green, being eco-friendly! Contractors may be going green by the materials they use or the services they provide. Hiring someone who does it right, does it well, and is doing it by going green is the best way to go.

A few examples; thinking of adding roller shades, a retractable awning, exterior shades or skylight shades… Not only are you reducing cost and reducing the waste in the energy it takes to cool of your home using a standard air conditioner, but you are adding an attractive feature to your home.

Window and blind cleaning contractors have options for you green-goers as well! Try Ultrasonic cleaning, not only does it remove nicotine, dust, and dander effectively, but with biodegradable products being used you can’t go wrong. Do it right, go green!

Many contractors that specialize in flooring can help with eco-friendly options as well. Wood flooring is a great idea, many would say, “No way, you’re killing trees!” Wood flooring usually comes from recycled resources such as old wood barns and like items. Imagine that!

Need some roofing repairs, why not see if it could benefit you to install some solar panels while you’re at it. Save on energy cost the warmer months, and help out our global climate by hiring one who specializes in such a great service of installing solar panels to your home.

Do your homework and ask your prospective contractor how they may be eco-friendly. The options of contractors using biodegradable products, sustainable materials or just by offering an eco-friendly product are a great way to go. How will you be going green today?

Help cleaning your gutters and windows

Winter is over and spring is here, the sun is out and it’s a great time for opening the windows or sitting outside to enjoy the fresh air! However, the windows are dirty and there are twigs hanging out your rain gutters. What a mess, and who has time for cleaning so many windows or for working on cleaning out the rain gutters? It’s not such a bad idea to hire a contractor to do this dirty work for you!

Cleaning blinds and windows can be time consuming and can get your allergies worked up. You can hire an affordable contractor to take care of your windows and blinds to get you ready for the sunny season without getting too worked up over bad allergies. What a treat! Get rid of soot, nicotine, dust and dander by hiring a professional that specializes in ultrasonic cleaning of your windows and blinds, this way the dust and dander won’t float in the air just to land back on the surface. Getting it done the right way is the only way to go!

What about those filthy rain gutters. If you don’t clean rain gutters regularly they can be a fire hazard or lead you to costly repairs. Not only do you have to worry about allergies cleaning gutters yourself, there is the worry of a dangerous fall if you’re up on top of a ladder. Hiring a contractor could help you save time and is a safer option in cleaning gutters.

It’s great to work on your home yourself but some jobs are better left to the professionals. IF it saves you time, is affordable, and is the healthier option then look for a trusted contractor to clean your windows, blinds and gutters today. What are you going to do with the time you saved?

What to look for in a house painter

Do you need your house painted or are you looking for an expert to do siding for your home? Don’t cut corners, look for a professional and do your research. Hiring a trusted experienced contractor is very important in having a big job done like painting or siding a home! Doing so means a job well done, saving money in the long run, and peace of mind for you while the work is being done.

7 tips to follow in choosing the right contractor:
• Great References – check your contractors references, maybe look at their past work
• Credentials – certified or not, make sure this contractor has their license
• Reference materials – make sure you understand the work being completed
• Warranty on Labor & Materials – get your warranty on labor and materials
• Experience – how long has this contractor been in the business
• Estimate with Price Guarantee – know what your paying for
• Written contract – make sure you get everything in writing
Don’t get stuck with an unprofessional job trying to cut corners in cost hiring a painter or someone to do the siding on your home. In choosing the right contractor you will have peace of mind and have saved money in the end in not needing to deal with costly repairs because the job wasn’t well done in the first place. Check your contractor’s credentials and get everything in writing!

Must haves for your dream home

There are must haves in purchasing your dream home or turning your current home into your dream home! Important factors in choosing your dream home or making your current home into your dream home are flooring, landscape, glassworks, interior and exterior finishes! Things that should come into mind making your home a dream come true is comfort, beauty, and what is practical in case you later sell or want to live in this home for the rest of your years.

Flooring is the base of your home. Again, thinking comfort, beauty, and about what is practical when it comes to flooring. ‘Wood flooring suits most homes because it’s affordable, beautiful, ups the value of your home, and feels warm and comforting when in a room with wood flooring. Maintenance for wood floors is easy as well. Maybe you want wood flooring in the main areas of your home but want carpet in your rooms so that you can feel comfortable walking around your room without socks or slippers, the cold feet factor! In deciding upon flooring these factors should be decided upon and integrated into your home.

Landscape is an important factor as well. Sure you can work on the landscape as you go, but making sure the base of the property is aligned with your wants and needs would be important in choosing your dream home. If your dream home is that of a beautiful landscaped yard with many flowers and a long pathway to your front door, it wouldn’t make much sense to purchase a home in the dry desert or a home that was close to the road.

Glassworks, interior and exterior design make a home just that, home! Choosing the right glassworks in regards to your personal taste, durability, and your locations needs is of great importance. On top of choosing the right glassworks for your needs exterior and interior designs play an important part and should be thought of while choosing your glasswork design and material as well. Think of your location, the message you want to speak when others view your home, what materials and colors would comfort you and cost can help you chose the right materials to get you to the means of a dream home.

Plan ahead, have fun and dream big because your home is counting on you!

Some useful blog directories

Here are a few links to my favorite blog directories. I plan on updating this list often so keep checking!

Lifestyle Blogs - Blog Rankings