Archive for the ‘Business Solutions’ category

To Vacation or Not to Vacation?

June 23, 2017

It’s that time of year when Hamlet’s question, “To be or not to be?” seems relevant. The difference is that the question becomes “to vacation or not to vacation?” Unfortunately, for far too many that is the question of the day, especially for the entrepreneur or the small business owner. I’m sure the subject is not a new one for you. However, like most people, you probably need a reminder of why you and nearly everyone else should take a vacation from work. But if the thought of vacation literally makes you break out in hives or leaves you weak in the knees, here are a few reasons you should consider a vacation a must at least once a year:

  1. Taking a vacation helps improve your job performance. When you go on vacation you shut off the task oriented part of your brain, giving it a break. This enables you to reenergize so that you are more apt to create and be receptive to new ideas. Problem solving is also improved. Europeans seem to know this and regularly take vacations. Americans and Asians lag far behind.
  2. Vacations are a health benefit. No matter what your job or business might be, there is going to be stress. We all know that relentless stress leads to weight gain, high blood pressure, heart problems, and a host of other health related issues. It also weakens the immune system making you more susceptible to disease.
  3. Vacations improve your relationships with others. If you have a family, spending time focused on activities that promote togetherness and create memories is priceless. In addition, when you take a vacation and actually travel or at least explore your surroundings, you will have more to talk about with your friends.
  4. Vacations provide exposure to different parts of your city, country or the world. You meet new people and observe firsthand new ways of approaching (and appreciating) life. You are sure to learn something new.

The bottom line is that I urge you to take a healthy dose of time out from your work. Create balance in your life. I’m reminded of the saying, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” The saying hasn’t been around for decades without some basis in fact. Think about and then schedule those vacation days! Don’t be like the millions of Americans who, according to a recent survey by Expedia, are very vacation deprived.

When you take that vacation, if you need help managing your business, don’t hesitate to contact us. We can keep your business going in may areas while you take a much needed break. Ask how we at Exceptional Transcription and Business Solutions can help.

Step Away from the Business

May 17, 2017

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It’s vacation time again. Regrettably, it’s a sad truth that many entrepreneurs and business owners are reluctant to take time off. Their hesitancy exists for a variety of reasons including not feeling comfortable releasing the reins to someone else, an inability to unwind, or simply failure to plan for a vacation. But you know that taking the time to step away from your business can have many benefits.

According to a survey conducted in 2015 by Office Depot Small Business Index, 66% of small business owners struggle with taking vacations and when they do, the majority stay connected to their business in some way. Today’s technology – smartphones, tablets and laptops – contribute to continued connectivity. The upside? It can keep you connected with your business. The downside? It can keep you connected to your business. In some ways, it’s good for the small business owner to take advantage of that connectivity as long as they control the dosage.

Still, it’s crucial that the small business owners take vacation and disconnect from the demands of growing and maintaining a viable business. Here are a few of the benefits of taking a vacation:

  • You reduce stress which equals lower blood pressure, improved heart rate, a boost to the immune system.
  • You Improve family relationships – connect with your spouse and kids while you create lasting memories.
  • You experience improved creativity.
  • You add new experiences and break the routine.
  • You meet new people.
  • You gain a new perspective on life and your business.
  • You set an example for your employees so that they will take vacation.

These are compelling reasons to take time away from your business in the form of vacation. Making vacation a part of your yearly planning may be one way to ensure that you will take much needed time away from the day to day of running your business.

If you are still finding it difficult to take time off, here are a few suggestions to make it easier to create a better work/life balance:

  • Make your vacation plans early and complete all the steps to getting you to your destination.
  • Prepare your staff and your customers for your absence.
  • Add your vacation days to an out-of-town conference or business meeting; take the family with you and once the conference or meeting is over, devote time to them.
  • Plan at least a week of exploring the vacation area.
  • Schedule retreat/spa activities to help you unwind.
  • Check in with your designated staff at a designated time and then disconnect from technology.

Your work and your personal life must be balanced. It has been proven that taking regular vacations gives you a healthier, more positive outlook on life. In short, it’s good for you; it’s good for your business.

How do you step away from the business? Do you plan a vacation or do you spontaneously take time away from the business? Which works better for you? Share your insights and experiences.

Should You Consider Creating a Side Hustle or Becoming an Entrepreneur?

April 26, 2017

computer, glasses picThere are hundreds if not thousands of new businesses created by bold entrepreneurs daily. Some are created as full-time entrepreneurship and others are entered just as a way to earn additional revenue in the form of a  side hustles. Some of of these opportunities readily come to mind, while others may not be as quickly thought of or they may not even exist, yet. After all, who knows when and where the next big thing will emerge?

I’ve taken a moment to compile a list of businesses or side hustles you can consider as an entrepreneur either as a part-time side hustle/venture or as a full-time business. Why not explore some of the ventures I’ve listed here?

  • Business plan services
  • Copy Writer
  • Mystery Shopper
  • Business Presentation Developer
  • Business Support Services (I turned this into a full-time business)
  • Business Form template Creator
  • Career and Personal Coach
  • Freelance Sales Consultant or Coach
  • Headhunter Service
  • Home Offie Planner
  • Web Designer
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Airbnb
  • Brand Ambassadorship
  • Write a Book (I did, you can, too!)
  • Teach English as a Second Language
  • Freelance Photographer
  • Artist
  • Pet sitter or groomer (Pets are a billion dollar business)
  • Personal Trainer
  • Yoga Teacher

This list is just the tip of the proverbial iceburg. You can explore these and the many more that exist. What I wanted to accomplish was to get you thinking of what you could do to change your current budget for the better. In today’s world, both virtual and real, there are so many more avenues that can be explored, many from home.

Yes, the economy is certainly improving for many. Unfortunately, others have given up on their dreams. It’s not too late to look into developing something new or something that will augment your current finances. You can tackle that entrepreneurial venture you have always thought of pursuing. Many who partner with me have business ventures of their own.

If you are still on the fringes of unemployment or you are underemployment (and many are), there are other avenues available to you which require little to no money to start. Side hustles are valuable; new businesses are possible. It does, however, take research and tenacity to get your new venture moving. Being an entrepreneur does not have to be risky business if you have a plan and you diligently work at the plan. The same goes for having a side hustle.

Give a new venture some thought. Either way, Exceptional can assist you with that new venture. We can help with your strategic plan, accounting needs, even with your social media. It goes without saying, if you have transcription needs, we are the company to turn to.

Leave a comment if you have thoughts on starting a new business or venturing into a side hustle.

Are There Steps to Creating an Ebook?

December 15, 2016

pic-person-woman-desk-laptop-2Creating an ebook can be an extremely valuable tool to help you grow your business regardless of its size or whether your business is online or not. There are steps to creating your ebook if you want the ebook to be a success. In fact, some steps should be implemented even before you begin writing the ebook.

A general guideline will help you create your ebook. A few steps to include are:

  1. Begin by identifying what you will write about. What are the needs of your target audience? What does your target audience want to know or learn more about? What is your knowledge or skillset? Generally, if you are in business, the three questions should line up and point to the same niche; not always, but most of the time.
  2. Develop a strategy for marketing your ebooks and include steps to take before you begin writing. Make social media a part of your strategy. If you don’t have much of a social media presence, start working on it now.
  3. Create the title. This can change but start with a good working title. Sometimes just putting the title on paper will get you going if you are having difficulty with your start.
  4. Create the outline of the contents of your ebook. Creating an outline will help you stay focused and cover the major areas that you want to include.
  5. Consider SEO as you write. You want to be recognized by the search engines so that traffic will appear.
  6. Use the right tools to facilitate writing: good writing software (this is optional), thesaurus, dictionary, a good grammar resource (The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White has been around for nearly 100 years), grammar check, and spell check.
  7. Edit and proofread your ebook. Preferably this is done by someone else who is capable of handling the job. If you do it yourself, let your manuscript “sit” for a few days before editing and proofing. However, it is generally not recommended that you proof your own work. Most writers realize how difficult it is to catch your own mistakes. Rely solely on spellcheck and you can end up with some very interesting word substitutions.
  8. Revisit your title once you have finished your ebook. Does it still resonate with you? If at all possible, have your title serve as a domain name so that it can be easily found.
  9. Choose a cover. Create one yourself if you are good at that type of work or pay someone. You can have an attractive and affordable cover created at fiverr.com.
  10. Choose a publishing vehicle. Amazon Kindle ebooks shows you step by step what to do to get your ebook published and on Amazon. There are other ebook publishers. Choose the one that is going to be the most productive for you.
  11. Use illustrations if they are appropriate, however, respect copyright laws. There are sights where you can purchase your images. Relying on Google Images is not, I repeat, not your source for images to include in your ebook. Unless you have secured permission or paid for the rights to use the image, you can end up in lots of trouble. Two sites that offer the free use of images are pixabay.com and morguefile.com
  12. Print a copy of your ebook in pdf so that you see what a copy may look like if someone printed it.
  13. Last, but certainly not the least, price your ebook. Include in your pricing consideration whether you will provide it for free in any instances. Review prices of comparable ebooks already on the market to help you make a decision.

Do a little research before you begin the process. Internet makes this part of it über easy. Following the steps outlined will help you have a better grasp on how to organize your work when you have made the decision to write your ebook. Remember, all that is standing between you and a finished ebook is your action. Follow these steps and you will move from thinking about creating your ebook to making it a reality.

Have you considered creating an ebook? If it isn’t already one of your goals for the New Year, it probably should be. What would you choose as your topic? We would like to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment in the box below.

Doing It Your Way – Starting a Business, That Is

November 17, 2016

image-vision-planetc-1616237_1280Starting your own business especially after you have already been in a job or career, can be daunting, but if you have the irresistible pull in the direction of entrepreneurship, don’t squash it. You are not alone. For many it is just not enough to work for someone else, build someone else’s dream.  If you continue to feel you have a product or service to provide, you should answer the call by becoming an entrepreneur – starting your own business.

What does it take to start and sustain your own business? There are many directions this answer could take, with just as many opinions about it, but in my opinion, there is a core to what it takes:

Start with acknowledging what excites you and where you excel. Often the two are the same. If you can’t quite put your finger on what it is, look at where you put your energy in your current job. For example, do you spend a lot of your time volunteering to plan company events and get-togethers? Explore what it takes to be an event planner. Are you especially adept at organizing?Individuals and companies need this type of expertise to organize their space. Do you have ideas, can spot trends? You may have the next hot product. The point is, you should exploit what you love to do and are good at. Remember, when you start a business you are going to be the only one that prods you to get up each day.

Do your research to determine the demand for your business and where it will be sustainable enough to provide the lifestyle you want for you and your family. After all, having a business, even one that you love, won’t keep the lights on or a roof over your head if it’s not something others want to buy over the long term. Just because you love it, doesn’t mean others will.

Develop a vision followed by a plan. Your new business may need to start off as a side hustle and that’s ok. In addition to helping you gain experience and customers, a side hustle can help you determine if what you offer really is a product or service that is in demand. You can’t rely on your gut instinct alone nor can you rely on the hope that it “happens” when you are starting your own business.

Seek help; look for others who are already successful. Learn from their experiences. Join a Mastermind group or seek a mentor. Don’t overlook joining associations that are related to your new business.

Be very focused on doing what it takes to grow your business. Invest the time. Invest in education. Invest in networking. Success will not happen overnight, without effort.

Explore funding options for your new business. There are many ways to fund a business today, including crowdfunding. This is where your use of social media will come in handy as well.

Be cognizant of when you need to increase your staff and then do it. Stretch when it’s needed. You want continued growth and sometimes that means strategically increasing your staff, even if only on a contractual basis.

Outsource projects; don’t hesitate to use outside resources as you need them. Companies like Exceptional Transcription and Business Solutions exist to help you with activities you don’t have the time or the expertise to complete. As a new entrepreneur, you can’t do it all.

We would love to hear about your experiences as an entrepreneur or new business owner. Fell free to leave a comment.

Audrey Dixon is the Founder and CEO of Exceptional Transcriptions and Business Solutions and has been helping new and existing businesses succeed for over 20 years.

Who Uses a Transcription Service?

October 28, 2016

transcription imageTranscription services can benefit a number of different businesses, even individuals. By definition a transcription service converts the spoken word into written typed or printed documents. In addition, transcription services can also take your handwritten documents and convert them into typed manuscripts or documents.

In fact, in today’s technological advances and extensive uses of the internet, the need for transcription services is even greater than in the past. There are podcasts, webinars and seminars on the web. There are audio tapes and medical notes to be transcribed. Transcribing court reporting and legal documents are in constant demand.

An improving economy only increases the demand. Having a conference? Document every word.There is a substantial list of businesses or services, even individuals, that use the services of a transcription service. If you are wondering if you or your business can benefit from using a transcription service service, review the following list:

  • Financial advisor
  • Accountants
  • Realtors and Real Estate Appraisers
  • Sales Representatives
  • Writers and Authors
  • Insurance Professionals
  • Architects
  • Attorneys
  • Psychologists
  • Students
  • Court reporters
  • Market researchers
  • Ministers
  • Professional Speakers
  • Journalists
  • Education Professionals
  • Researchers

Transcription services can go further than audio transcriptions alone. A transcription service can also offer copywriting, proofreading, database management and more.

Professional, well-trained transcriptionists have excellent grammar, listening skills (including the ability to discern dialect), and writing skills and accuracy.

Why would you need or use a transcription service? There are a number of reasons including:

  • Time – frees you for your major work and tasks
  • Accuracy – trained to hear and capture every word, including dialectal nuances
  • Convenience – transcription process when you need it
  • Customization and personalization – production of professional looking documents
  • Financial – less expensive than you imagine

If you see your business listed and the services you need don’t hesitate to contact us. Our business is to put your words on paper.

Transcription Services Play a Role in Successful Focus Groups

August 29, 2016

freedigital photo people ideas ID-100299611Focus groups are an excellent tool for marketing and research professionals to use in gathering information and to uncover trends. The ultimate goal is to help companies sell products and services. Transcription services play a role in the success of focus groups by capturing every word spoken.

Focus groups are generally made up of individuals who fit specific targets related to the company products and services.

During the sessions, focus group participants are often in a room or setting to themselves, sometimes with a two-way mirror, although this is not a requirement. Participants are then asked to complete questionnaires or discuss topics or even take part in a specific activity. For example, a national bank asked the participants of its focus group to construct a vision board depicting their ideal retirement using materials the bank had provided. The participants were then asked to discuss their board and their retirement goals, answering questions from a facilitator. The group reactions and discussions were recorded on film and audio tape. The data was analyzed to determine what the bank needed to focus on to better serve their customers in their retirement planning.

When deciding how you should setup your focus group, here are some key decisions that should make up the planning:

  • Determine the number of the participants.
  • Decide the incentive you will offer the group.
  • Find a convenient, accessible and comfortable location for conducting the group.
  • Prepare questions/script and types of activities the group will be engaged in.
  • Select the participants for the group that best matches the information you are seeking. For instance, if you run a preschool and looking for ways you can better serve your families, you would contact parents of preschool age children to participate. Other groups would not be as useful.
  • Determine compensation for the participants. This will vary from time required to region of the country you are in.
  • Select a skilled facilitator or moderator who will be responsible for:
    • explaining why the group is assembled – the focus group’s goal,
    • establishing the ground rules for the group process,
    • setting the tone,
    • providing the time frame for the session – ideally 1 – 2 hours,
    • creating the script, although this could fall to someone else,
    • checking the recording process,
    • having snacks or meals on hand for the group,
    • providing feedback to the group, and
    • thanking the group for their time and explaining when and how payment will occur.

Because participants are free to discuss their opinions and insights, and because focus groups are generally a part of your marketing planning, it is important to accurately capture the session(s). Consequently, one of the most important elements at the conclusion of the focus group is turning the audio tapes of the session into written documents so that the data is easily analyzed and, later, archived.

Choosing the right transcription service is as important as choosing the right participants and facilitator for the focus group. A highly qualified transcriber has the ability to discern accents and have a commanding grasp of English and grammer. Exceptional skill, accuracy and timeliness is at the core of your selection.

Have you used focus groups to help with your marketing plans? How do you think focus groups would benefit the growth of your business?

 

photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net