Monday, July 29, 2019

Small Business

Definition of small business:
A privately-owned and operated business with relatively small turnover and staff numbers, typically seen as constituting part of a specific commercial or economic sector. Typically a small business employs fewer than 100 workers and has revenues of less than $25 million. 

Running a small business can have its challenges, and sometimes the biggest challenges are how we are treated by other businesses.

Recently we have been trying to set up a couple of new partnerships, and both of them seem to have their challenges.  I understand that there are some big businesses, but nowadays, most businesses are small businesses, and that needs to be understood. When dealing with the smaller businesses, individuals have to understand that you never know who you are talking to when you call.  The person answering the phone could be one of the business owners or could be a staff member.  Treat whoever answers the phone with respect and never refer to them as “the receptionist.”  One big clue that the person is not a receptionist is the greeting you get.  When we answer our phones even when we not sure who it is calling, we will state the company name and then our name.  If you know a little bit about our business, you will clue in that you have reached one of the owners.

Small businesses like dealing with other small businesses because normally we treat each other the way we want to be treated.  In several ways, we understand the challenges that small business deals with and know how we want to be treated by others.  My feeling is I want to ensure that I treat all of our clients the way I want to be treated by others. I also want to treat any vendors and possible clients in the same way because they will help build our business.  I understand that everyone can have a rough day and not always be happy, but everyone is as important as the next person.

Recently we have been dealing with one company and the person calling hasn’t been the nicest to the person answering the phone.  The person answering the phone is one of the owners of the business (me), and during one call, he was rather upset that the other person wasn’t available to immediately take his call.  Emergencies with clients happen, so even a scheduled appointment might have to be changed when you are dealing with a small business.  Now the call got rescheduled and handled, so that was ok.  Now the salesperson called again today and expected to talk to the other owner, and as I handed over the phone, I commented that “at least he was friendlier today.”  Normally I wouldn’t have said this, but after yesterday, I was frustrated with how he had treated me.  Well, it ended up he heard what I said and has now sent an apology to “the receptionist.”  I think he is going to be digging himself out of that comment for a while as I am also one of the decision-makers for the business.

The other vendor thinks it is easy to get into discussions with clients and provide them with answers in future meetings.  In most cases with small businesses, you have one chance to talk about something, and if you can’t even give them a ballpark cost, they don’t want to talk about it any longer.  I know in several cases if I am in a meeting let me know a cost (even an estimate) before I waste my time otherwise I am not interested.

Small businesses don’t have a lot of time to spend in meetings. If we are in a meeting where you are trying to sell me something, please let me know a cost (even an estimate) before I waste my time otherwise I am not interested.  A small business can be a challenge, but understand how they want to be treated and treating each person with respect can go a long way. If you are going to be calling a business to try and do business with them, do a little bit of homework first. Find out the size of the business because that could make a difference in how to approach them. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Common Etiquette in Public Places

Here is something that I have been thinking about for a while and have finally started to write this blog post about things that I have seen and things that are frustrating to me. 

Mobile device
Have you noticed that a lot of people think that using their mobile device in speaker mood in public is correct?  I have noticed that a lot of people think that listening to a phone conversation that they are having with the speaker on makes it easier for them to hear the person.  I have news for them, the person on the other end of the conversation is hearing a lot of additional noise that they don’t need to hear.  When you are using the speaker part of your phone, you are capturing all the other sounds around you as well, and nine times out of 10 the other person is having trouble hearing you until you are talking right into the mic.  When you are in public places, everyone else shouldn’t be able to hear both sides of the conversation that you are having.  If you have a challenge being able to hear the other person when you are taking a call try to use some headphones as they will help you hear the person a lot better and mobile device headphones are available with a mic included.

Video viewing
The ability to watch videos on mobile devices is a wonderful thing to a point.  Now the reason I say to a point is that people think that watching a video in restaurants, food courts or even in malls is enjoyable for everyone.  Well, I have some news for you, and that is not everyone wants to hear what you are watching and listening to.  If you want to watch videos while you are enjoying your coffee, etc. please put some headphones on so that you can enjoy it and everyone else around you can enjoy their coffee.

I love when people are using headphones to listen to their music or videos when they are in the person’s ears.  I have seen people with headphones just around their neck so that they can hear the music they want.  Now remember when the headphones are around your neck people around you can also hear the music, and they might not want to listen to what you are listening to.  Headphones are to be used over the ears.  I know on public transit there is a policy that if you are listening to music, you should only be able to hear it, but no one seems to enforce this.  I think this is a policy that transit drivers need to start enforcing so that other riders can also enjoy their trip.

Mobile devices can be very handy when you are out and about and have some time to kill.  I know that I have music, books and videos on my device all the time but I also ensure that I have my headphones on when I decide it is time to enjoy some of those sounds out in public.  My taste in music might not be someone else’s taste, and they don’t want to hear only part of the video or book, so I ensure that I am the only one that can hear what I am listening to.  When I take my phone calls, it is either holding the device up to my ear, or using my hands-free earpiece, which means I hear the conversation, but no one else does.

Mobile devices are a great thing to have but remember that your taste in music and videos is your taste and not everyone else.  When you are out in public, remember that making sure that only you can hear your stuff is important.  I am not saying don’t watch the videos or listen to your music when you are out, all I am asking is that you use some headphones so that I don’t have to listen to what you are watching or listening to.  Some common sense makes everything a little more enjoyable for everyone.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Getting a new computer

There are so many questions that need to be answered when you start to think about getting a new computer.  There are ones that seem very easy, and then there are the questions that will need to take a bit of time so here are some of the questions that I had to answer when we got my new computer:
  • What brand or brands are you looking at?
  • What screen size do you want?
  • What size hard drive or SSD would you like to have?
  • How much memory (RAM) should the computer have?
  • What operating system do you want?  Do you want personal or professional?
  • What is your budget?
  • Do you want a number pad on the keyboard
  • Which style of keyboard do you want?  Do you want the US keyboard or the Canadian Bilingual keyboard (yes there are different keyboards)?
  • Do you want a computer that becomes a tablet?
  • Do you care about the weight of the machine?
  • Are you willing to purchase a refurbished machine or do you want a brand new one?
  • How quickly do you want the machine?

Of course, everyone will have different questions that need to be answered, and these are just a few of the questions that I had to answer before we were able to pick the computer that I got. For us, we needed one that would meet the needs that I have for work as this isn’t just a computer that is only used for personal use.  Like a lot of people, my computer is both for home and work, so it needs to meet several different demands.

By starting to answer some of the questions that are listed, you will start to see the makes and models that you can start to consider.  If there is a specific brand that you want the best idea is to go to that website and see if you can customize a machine with everything that you want in a machine.  One thing that you will find is which options are available for the various models and also how much your ideal machine could cost you.

Getting a new computer does require a lot of thinking, and prices can vary depending on if you want a brand new model or are willing to have a model that is a little order.  Prices don’t vary very much from store to store  (unless you can find a sale like Boxing Day or Back to School), but models and availability can so that is something else you need to consider.  Doing your homework on which machines you are looking at and then going to some of the different stores to look at what is available can assist you in making the decision.  One of the things that are important to me is the feel of the keyboard considering all the writing that I do so that means that I need to know that the keyboard is comfortable to use.  I need the US keyboard for my typing as I am a touch typist and the enter key and shift key on the right-hand side are used quite a bit.

When all of the questions are answered, you will probably have a good idea of the computer or computers that you are comparing.  Another good thing to do is to look online and see if there are reviews done on the models that you are considering.  The reviews can also mean that you might see something that will make or break a decision before you make the purchase.

Answering the questions can take a bit of time, but at least then you will have a machine that you should be happy with.  Sure you can go and buy the first machine that you see, but it might not be what you wanted or even like once it is home so spending a bit of time thinking through all the options could help a lot.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Finding what helps you relax

There are so many ways that you can find to relax, and I am going to try and describe some of the ways that I have found work for me. I am only going to explain a few of the ways that I relax, and it will depend on the amount of time that I have what I do.

I am one of those individuals that find sitting and working on a project with my hands makes me happy, and I can also normally relax while doing it. For me sitting in the evening and find a project that I can work on for a little while makes me happy.  I am not a mono crafter as I normally have several projects on the go so I can work on something no matter how much time I have and what energy level I have.  The main craft techniques that I do are:
·         Crocheting
·         Knitting
·         Cross stitch

For me picking up a pencil and some paper and drawing makes me happy.  It isn’t something that I do enough of, and I need to figure out how to get back to doing the things that I enjoy doing. I am not a great artist, but I do enjoy sitting and making some fun drawings when I have some time.

Now, this is something that most people wouldn’t find relaxing, but I find that when I am sitting and working on my journal, I can relax.

Watching sports:
For me sitting and watching either baseball or hockey on television is great and also relaxing but I also need to do be doing something with my hands when I am doing that.  I am not a person that can sit and watch television for hours without doing something else.  It is always interesting to see that when I am watching something on television, I need to do something; otherwise, I will fall asleep.

For me doing something with my hands is a way to help me relax.  I know that being able to get through some projects also makes me feel so much better.  I know that for me my crafting is a way to refocus my mind and also quieten some of the thoughts and ideas that have been bouncing around in my head throughout the day.  At the end of the day or on the weekend I can normally find a little bit of time to do something with my hands and seeing some progress on something no matter what it makes me happy.  I may not have a lot of time to do anything in the evenings but even the few minutes of crafting can make such a difference in how I sleep. 

Everyone has there own ways of relaxing and for me just sitting and watching television doesn’t work where for others it does.  Some people may play video games or read or go for a walk to relax, and those are all good ideas, and it just depends on the person.  I know in the summer we go for walks in the evening, and I find that relaxing, but again I still need that few minutes of just sitting and meditating with my crafting.

Find what makes you happy and what helps you relax because making sure that you find some time to do the relaxing is important. In the world today we are normally rushing around so having a bit of time to yourself at the end of a day can make a big difference.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Stitch Maynia, why the stress?

What is Stitch Maynia:
Originally started in May 2015 as a stitch along for fifteen new starts the first fifteen days of May, Stitch Maynia (get it, May? Maynia?) has grown into an open, welcoming, fun cross-stitch community!

Yes, Stitch Maynia is a thing that happens in May each year, and I sit back and watch as people decided that they are going to be working on in May. Here are some of the ideas I have seen this year:
  • Going to start one project each day in May (yes that is 31 new projects started)
  • Going to start one project a week (this is only five new projects)
  • Going to only work on one project for the entire month.
  • Going to work on each one of my projects for a day this month (yes they have more than 31 projects on the go)
  • Going to finish a project and then start working on another one of the projects that I have on the go.
  • I am going to stitch 31 stitches a day on a project during the month.
  • Stitch Maynia? It doesn’t matter to me.

In a lot of cases, I have seen people kit up 31 projects so that they can start all of them during the month. Sure that means that they will have a lot of projects to work on during the rest of the year but why can’t they start each project at any time during the year. I have been following this idea for a couple of years now and what makes me laugh is when you hear people at the beginning of Maynia say that they have only finished 2 of the projects that they started last year. They haven’t made a lot of progress, and that means that they may end up with 60 projects on the go with only a day of work done on them.

For me, Stitch Maynia is watching everyone else stress about trying to make progress on things or make new starts. I continue to start projects when I want to start them, and if I happen to start a couple of projects in May (like I did this year) that is fine, but I am not going to stress about what I did or didn’t get done.

If you are going to stress about making new starts or how much stitching, you can achieve each day, or during a specific month, I feel it isn’t worth it. Sure it is fun being part of a community and sharing what you have accomplished, but there are several other Facebook groups and communities. Other groups, you can be part of, and you can share your new starts and your progress and finishes, and there isn’t the stress of how many starts did you achieve in a given month.

Stitching is a hobby, and if it starts to cause you a lot of stress, then it has turned from enjoyment to something else. A hobby is a way to help you relax and find enjoyment so that is what it should be and if you enjoy what you are doing and can do the starts that is great but not everyone is the same, and for me, Stitch Maynia is doing what I enjoy and how I enjoy it.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Writing for fun versus writing for work

There are quite a few people; me included, that write for both fun and work.  The writing styles that we use are different for each of the various pieces of writing we are working on. 

Writing for fun, this is something that I do when I am writing my craft blog because my crafting is what I do to relax and it is fun, so I want to ensure that when I write the blog, I am showing some fun in my writing style.  I understand that not everyone understands that you can have a different writing style for the different parts of your life, but it is common.

Writing for work, now this is what I do for clients and when I write my other blog.  The writing style that I use then is a lot different than when I am writing my craft blog, and it should be.  The work writing is a lot clearer and to the point where I need to get the details out, and that is it. 

I have experience of someone reading my two different blogs and not realizing they were both written by me.  Yes, this shows that there can be two different writing styles used by one person and that you can achieve a different imagine just by how you write.  There are days when writing for fun isn’t something that comes too easily, but I can write the work items with no problem and vice versa.  Yes, writing is a challenge, and it is something that we need to work on and get everything done that needs to get done.  One of my tricks is that I normally have both work and fun writing that I need to do and when one isn’t working I will quickly flip to working on the other and get that one done.  I have found that once I have been able to work on one style of writing for a while, the other method is a lot easier to do because it is a change.

I have heard authors say that they can write a lot of short stories easily but the novel is a challenge and then other authors can write the 100,000-word novel, but a short story isn’t something they can manage to do.  These are the challenges that they face, and they understand how to handle them like I know how to manage the problems that I manage.

Writing for work and writing for fun are both things that I enjoy doing.  Sure, people that understand that I write for work may not know that I can have two different styles but I can.  I have also been able to say to some people that if they don’t like my fun writing, they don’t have to read it because I am not going to change that writing style as that is how I want to write those blogs.  Writing for me is something that I do most of the day every day, so I need to ensure that I am enjoying the writing that I am doing.  My goals with my writing are to ensure that I can keep the clients happy with what I write for work and that I can keep myself happy with the writing that I do for me.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Wearing many hats in a business

I think a lot of small business individuals know that they are going to be wearing a number of hats as there just isn’t the staff to do each job separately. The wearing of many hats can be something that you do daily or then there are the times that you will be wearing many hats in one day. I know that there are times that as a business co-owner the number of hats that are juggled in a day can be quite a few. Sure it is something that you realize when you start the business and for some people, I think it is something they only realize after the business is started. I think some small business owners forget that when they first start the business that they are going to be the person doing everything and sometimes the list of things to be done can be rather long.

For us, the habit of wearing many hats is something that we do, and I don’t think we think about it very often until someone asks who does a certain task. In our business, there are some tasks that only one of us does regularly, but in a lot of cases, the tasks could be done by the other person. Sure, we both have what we are the expert on, but if things start to get extremely busy, we can hand some of our tasks off to the other person.

There are days when you can sit and work on one job and that is all that you do and it feels great and then there are the other days where it seems like there are so many little tasks that need to be done and of course they are all a little different in nature. As a small business co-owner, there isn’t the staff where you can delegate tasks to and know that they are going to be done by someone else. In our case, we can sometimes ask the other person to help out or do the task but in a lot of cases, the task is just part of another hat that we wear for the business.

We often laugh when people talk about some of the joys of being a small business owner and yes there are a lot of jobs. One comment people make is that as a small business owner you don’t have a boss but in reality when you are a co-owner of a business you do have a boss, and it is the other co-owner and even yourself. See so we do wear many hats when it comes to being a small business owner, and that is part staff and part boss, and sometimes both of those happen at the same time.

As a small business co-owner, I love wearing the many hats in our business as it means that daily there can be a lot of variety in the job. Sure, there can be a lot of fires that need to be put out all at once, but at least at the end of the day, you know that you have done a good job. Being your own boss can be a challenge sometimes because you have to figure out the priority of the various tasks, but in a lot of cases, the priority is figured out pretty quickly.

Wearing many hats in a small business is normal, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I enjoy the job and the variety that we deal with, and at least we know that in our case there are two of us that are accountable to each other and we love that.