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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Organization: Simple Receipt Management for your Home Business

It's nearly tax time.  We've talked about organizing and managing your business, regardless of your space, time, and income; let's talk about receipts.

Receipts: can live without them, but for tax purposes (and refunds, returns, and exchanges), we will not.

For the sake of simplifying and working in a small space, let's try the easiest and smallest method available (aside of the computer program).  If your home business has become  so big you need a complete and elaborate method, not counting a computerized program, you may need to move your business to a separate location. While this receipt system can pretty much work for most businesses, it's not the best solution for a multi-million dollar business.
Using an inexpensive accordion file wallet with at least twelve tabs (each accordion wallet file shown here is under $4 and has 12 tabs), label one tab for each month (if you use a fiscal period, start with the first fiscal month).  Mark the front of the wallet with the year (when using fiscal years, use the actual year your twelve month file ends).

File each receipt into the corresponding tab, always filing each receipt behind the one that came before (this is an easy habit to get into and is more likely to find your receipts in dated order).

Make notes on the back of receipts and circle business items and amounts on the front. My businesses are small enough that I actually file ALL receipts in the wallet, even copies of the receipts I give away, and copies of items shipped to me.  Do what works for you.
Keep your wallet in the same place throughout the year; consistency makes for good habits.
At the end of the year, secure with elastic band or ribbon, tuck into your tax box or set aside until you're ready to file.  

Once taxes are filed, store your receipts, wallet and all, in a safe place for however long is necessary in your line of work.  

Many business owners scan and electronically file their receipts, throwing out the hard copy, however, the wallet is affordable enough to use a new one each year, keeping the old one for storage (this method also saves you time - no scanning and labeling).

Okay, do you understand the system?  Get a receipt; file a receipt.

And What Has 5 Minutes Done for You Lately?

I challenged you, and myself, to see what five minutes can do for you. Has it helped?  Does it work for you? Can it work for you?

For me, it's helped me get letters into the mail, email potential hostesses for At Home America, I've written a "filler," and though I've finished half of my script thanks to the 5 minute rule, it's going to help me start it OVER because I goofed.

Today, it's written this short piece.  Come on, you have five minutes to spare, even if you are trapped in Christmas shopping lines. Take out your smart phone and write something, call a client, search for a missing child.  Smart phone on your wish list?  No problem, a napkin, gum wrapper, receipt, anything can work.  Write a list, write a thank you note, write your dreams and goals.  Five minutes can make a difference.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What Can You Accomplish with Just Five Minutes?

When our kids were young, we often called them in for a "quick five minute clean-up." Because there were so many kids in a small house (seven), they often tried to get away with doing very little (yes, even less than a whopping five minutes of work!). You know what we'd do?  We start the time over. EVERYONE pays when someone slacks on a measly five minutes. 

A year into it, I realized they didn't really understand the concept (they were ages 4-13 at the time).  By having each one, separately, set the time and do as much as fast as they can until it goes off, they realized they could literally make a difference-an impact, really-by working gung-ho. Their five minute quick clean up work was usually much cleaner than when they'd take a half hour to do the same job.

For each action is a reaction; a consequence.  Because they took their five minutes seriously, they often didn't have any other cleaning to do for the day.  You can say the reward was immediate AND delayed and, quite honestly, they were proud of themselves.

Yesterday, I wrote I'm on a type of leave from work (purposely planning ZERO home parties with At Home America and letting the writing slide).  Though I do not have a home party planned, I do take a few minutes to find a great sale item and list it in my signature, on a postcard, or perhaps on Facebook.  And that's when lightning struck.

Why not do a five minute quick WRITE UP?  The kids cleaned five minutes. When I was a personal trainer, I would tell clients to exercise even just five minutes, knowing it often led to five more, and so on.  So, why not use the same idea with writing?

Before putting the timer on, I made a decision about WHAT to write (since I usually try to do eight or nine projects all at one time and make little or no headway).  With the decision in place (the screenplay), I wrote. And wrote. And wrote some more.  It's only been fifteen minutes, yet I wrote more, and more seriously, than I have the entire week.

Who'd ever think it'd be this easy?  Just five minutes a day.

Holiday Cheer (pre-AFTER Holiday Sale)

Writing seems to take a backseat near the winter holidays. It's not that no one is buying at this time, it's that I'm busy. Really busy.  You'd think after having seven kids for so many years, it'd be easier now that only three are at home; it's not!  I find I am harder on myself than ever to make things perfect. I feel like I should be better than ever. In other words: I don't give myself a break.

Writing is not the only thing I put on hold, though. My At Home America business is NOT having anymore home shows until January.  Why?  Because it's not worth it for me, personally.  First of all, it's past the date to guarantee that Christmas delivery.  Secondly, knowing people spend less on things they need at this time, in order to give gifts, I know the ones who NEED something can order it online this one time. And they have!

it turns out we have a pre-AFTER-holiday sale.  Over 100 items are marked down up to 80% - there's even something as low as $1.99!  Read on, then scroll to the bottom, I'm sharing some of our sale items here.

Having said all that, the one thing that NEVER takes a backseat?  Speaking out for victims. That never ends because being victimized never ends.  Take a moment out of each day to look up just ONE missing person.  See if you recognize them or something in their last day that may make the world of difference to their families.  I don't care how small the information you have is, report it, share it, and do it quickly. Time DOES matter.  Also check out True Crime Fanatic's Facebook page, they'll update the missing weekly or more.

Go on... check out the missing.  Then, come back and take advantage of our pre-AFTER-holiday sale (using the extra money you earned this season from organizing your business!).


For all sales - if you are interested, go to At Home America, or send me a personal note HERE with the NUMBERS of the items you want and how many of each, I'll get back to you ASAP. Thank you and best wishes this week!

Monday, December 13, 2010

If you remember nothing...

then don't worry about anything. But if you can remember one thing, remember this: they don't know how scared you are. They don't know how you feel about yourself and how much you know. Whatever it is you do; write, direct sales (like At Home America), dog watching, or even stamping envelopes... whomever you talk to, they don't know.  Use it and become even better than you already are.


We've had something odd happen. A "homeless" "runaway" teen came to our home. Being a victim of a serious crime myself and watching helplessly as our children went through the same - and the law does NOT prevail... I could not let it go. Nor, for once, could my husband.  The teen's gone back to her home, because legally she must, but I'm praying losing the time I've lost (workwise, of course) works out for this poor child, though I have not much hope. Always, always, protect the innocent. At nearly all costs.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Holiday Stress: Use It Before You Lose It

This year, don't let holidays get the best of you. Sure, we love holidays, but often, they can also mean a lot of work and preparation.

If you work in sales - be realistic. People are buying gifts, even with the economy, why not let them buy from you?  Don't decide for them whether they can afford your service or not, just let them know it exists, and how they can use it.  If they bite, run with it; if not, let it go.  The worst they can do is say "no."

If you work in a home party business, know that this time of year is both the best and the worst time for a home party.  Don't be pushy with the person who doesn't work her buns off to have the best party, be polite, work your best, and give it your all-just don't push, she may have so much pressure, it might be easier for her to call it off. Instead, surprise her. Perhaps you can make the last minute reminder calls?  Maybe you can encourage the party to close that every night, that way people can make their decisions and get on with life.  We are supposed to make life easier by having a party at home, not burdensome.

Creative workers may find they have too much on their brain all of a sudden. Why is it that when you have the most things to do, at a time you most want to do it (in other words, the chore you happen to love) your creative juices kick into overdrive?  It doesn't matter. What matters is what you do with it. Did you know or realize that the more things you have to do, the more you get done? It's true!  Maybe you only have five minutes here and there to write that book, make that craft, or paint a picture, but that's five wonderfully glorious minutes.  Sometimes five minutes produces more quality than five days.  Keep your mind open and look for opportunities.

Too many things these days are stressful. Surely the lines in the store or the traffic on the highway are going to be big ones for the next two weeks.  Turn that stress into good stress. Use time in the line to make a business call you've been putting off until the "right time."  The traffic is great to shake off the negative and clear your mind. How? Turn up your radio and sing. Sing as though no one can hear you.