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Posts tagged ‘Home Office’

Tips To Network Successfully

I’m so excited to lead a new networking chapter in Fairfax, Nexco. It was founded by a great group of businessmen whom I consider friends, and I’m honored to have been chosen to be the voice of this particular chapter.

I’ve done a lot of networking over the years, and I hear people say all of the time how much they hate networking. I disagree. I think networking can be fun, and quite beneficial if done right.  Follow these steps to not only enjoy networking, but to do it successfully as well.

 

First off, remember that networking is not about you landing a job/client. It’s about gaining information from a business and giving enough information about yours in order for them to use that as a stepping stone. It’s a means to an end, not the end.

 

When you enter the room, first go to those you know. It will make the transition easier, especially if your nervous. Plus, those you know, know you best, and may already have met someone they think would be a good referral for you.  When you meet someone, don’t make it all about you. Networking is much like dating; it’s an opportunity to get to know them and in turn, for them to get to know you. This is where you gauge whether there is a connection between your businesses, or possibly between them and one that you know.

After a networking event, reach out to those you wish to continue a conversation with. Ask them for coffee within 2 weeks of meeting. This way, the conversation stays fresh, and any topics that were hot or would be considered leads will still be warm when you meet.

Before you meet, do research on the business you’re meeting with. You want to look invested and interested in what they have to say and to offer. By being educated, they may be more interested in connecting you to other professionals as well.

 

Now, for that pesky “I hate networking” feeling of yours. Make yourself a promise to go to x number of networking events (tomorrow’s event is a great start!) and to make X number of connections, and when you do, reward yourself with whatever small thing makes you happy. Part of what makes networking so overwhelming is, well, the actual events are overwhelming. But, as I say, the only way to eat a whole elephant is to take small bites, so relax! Think of this as an adventure, and a positive path to your success!

 

Join me tomorrow at Brion’s Grille in University Mall in Fairfax from 11:30-1pm for some great networking with local businesses!

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How Instagram Can Help Build Your Audience (Even If You’re a Service-Based Company)

Yes, I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog (sorry about that!) I’ve been so focused on building the businesses of my clients, I’ve ignored my home, I’ll try to be better, I promise.

I’ve been on quite a journey these past few months. Some amazing things have been happening in Chez VersaTel Solutions, which I can’t wait to share with you (soon enough). Within this journey I’ve also become aware of things that I had taken advantage of and really didn’t realize until someone else mentioned it. What am I talking about, you ask? Instagram of course!

Originally, I joined Instagram because it was new and I could see the potential of the benefits of marketing through this new social media platform-I didn’t really know how just yet, but I liked it! Eventually, my pictures became less about the food I was eating and more about the meetings I was having. I’ve received more interest than I thought I would get just for snapping pictures at meetings and events I attend. It’s made potential clients turn into real clients, and garnered enough interest to make me busy enough to well, have to let my blog go (at least for a little while).

How can Instagram work for your business? In various ways. Take a picture before a meeting to show you are out and about; snap a shot of your work environment to give people an insider’s look; if you’re attending a networking event, take shot of the event and make sure to hashtag it. If I can make office management exciting, believe me, so can you.

If you sell products, this is a great forum in which to show off your wares. Take pictures of your products being created, of your products being delivered, or, if you deliver them yourself, take a picture of your happy clients. Ask your clients to hashtag your business, or if they can tag you if they post a picture of you or your products.  There are so many ways to take advantage of Instagram; its a matter of making use of it.

Here at VersaTel Solutions we want to help you get your business, your products and your services out there to people you otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach. Contact us to learn more about what we can do for you; if you’re on Instagram, follow me: http://instagram.com/sevanastone

Or, if you’re on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/versatelsolutions

Or Twitter: https://twitter.com/Versa_Tel

How To Convert a Client Meeting Into A Secured Client

Ok, so you’ve done the networking, and you did so well, you got someone to want to meet with you to learn more about you and your services. YAY! Don’t celebrate too soon though; before you start imagining your future together,  you have to make sure you nail that first meeting with these crucial steps, or else, the time and focus you put towards that meeting will be all for not.

Before meeting with the prospective client, do a little homework. Google them to learn as much as you can about their industry and about them as well. You may find information that will help you build  a rapport with this person. Finding that common thread will build trust and commonality-the first step in closing a deal!

Although you normally keep your smartphone no more than 3 inches away from you at all times this may be the best time for you to put that phone away. You wouldn’t interrupt a potential employer with your phone, would you? Don’t do it with a potential client either. It leaves an impression that you are not fully engaged. Securing a client should be your top priority-everything else can wait.

As much as I would love to think this person is at least 80% committed to you, chances are they’re really at more like a 50%. They can really go either way. Try to keep the conversation light, positive, and a fair give and take-almost like a first date. Ask them questions, and make eye contact; talk about your business in a way that may interest them, and do your best to find more commonality to further thread you closer together until that person is a secured client.

Lastly, a successful meeting will always lead to a second meeting-give them all the information they need to help them decide whether your business is the right fit for them, but leave the detailed specifics for the next meeting-taking you to that next step.

Good luck on securing that client!

 

Avoid These Common Tax Mistakes BEFORE Tax Time!

The deadline for taxes has long passed, and those who needed to file an extension surely have done so by now. Many of us have already received our returns, and were a little underwhelmed by what we got back (if anything at all).  Don’t get caught at the last minute next year-avoid these common tax mistakes to stay ahead of the curve!

 

Just because you’re a sole proprietor or are self-employed doesn’t mean  you don’t have to pay taxes on a quarterly basis. Of course, the first year, you get a free pass, however, there are certain exceptions based on how much you make. Get into practice of automatically setting aside a percentage of each payment or revenue, then take stock of your P&L statement each quarter. Pay the taxes each quarter to avoid a hefty payment at the end of the year.

 

Speaking of keeping track, it’s incredibly important to keep track of all of your business expenses, including your miles to properly deduct during tax time.  If you don’t already, consider using an accounting program like Quickbooks to let you record and manage expenses. If you don’t have the time, or the wherewithal to do it, hire a bookkeeper who will enter in and reconcile these transactions on a monthly basis.

 

When tracking your expenses, be sure to determine them accordingly in your Chart of Accounts. What this means is when you have expenses like supplies (printer ink, paper, etc), account for them accordingly. Office Expenses are generally equipment. Why is this important? Because you can write off a portion for each year the appliance is in use or write off the full amount (up to a certain maximum) for the year you purchased. For example, if you bought a new laptop this year, you can write off the full price in your 2014 return. While you’re at it, don’t forget to take the actual home office tax deduction; but do so wisely. There has to be a certain portion of a room, or a dedicated room for your business in order to qualify for writing off a percentage of your home expenses including rent or mortgage payments, utilities and insurance costs.

 

Speaking of deductions: it could be that part of the nature of your business requires you to give gifts to your clients, which is fine. But remember that you can only deduct $25 per recipient. If you give gifts readily, make certain you keep all of your receipts.

 

Discuss your legal structure with a tax advisor or a CPA to help you figure out if your structure is still legitimate. For example, you may have started out as a sole proprietor and are paying too much in self-employment taxes. Creating a C or S Corp, or a LLC could help lower your tax bill.

 

Lastly, and I’ve said this a million times. NEVER, EVER, EVER make business purchases with a personal account! Doing so can lead to a considerable amount of confusion, and lead to legal infractions. Do yourself a favor and open a business account the same day you start your business to get it right from day 1.

 

Are there any mistakes you’ve made in the past that you’ve learned from?

Networking 101-How To Take Networking To The Next Level

Part of owning a successful business, or even a growing business is networking. Yes, a lot can be said for advertising and word of mouth-referrals are even great, but most of your business (my business anyway) comes from serious networking.

 

Not everyone wants to walk into a room full of strangers and introduce themselves, much less try to attract interest to their business. But, if follow these key tips, you’ll be less likely to hold the walls up and more likely to make some valuable connections.

 

Most networking events are  pretty firm on their start and end times. If you show up late, you’ll likely see circles of people already formed, and find it difficult to break in. Get to the event a bit early, and you’ll give yourself enough time to drink in the room, figure out a strategy, and create a circle of people yourself!

 

Networking is not about closing a client-that comes later. This is your opportunity to introduce yourself and your business to those who may not know you, and to meet businesses you may benefit from (or know someone who will). Keep the conversation light; ask simple questions to open up the conversation and smile. Engage in the person, keep eye contact, and make sure you seem interested.  People pick up on these body cues and will know whether you are truly focused, or are just listening for key words that may benefit you, and only you.

When the conversation has warmed up, feel free to share what your product or service is, IF they ask. Give a 30 second elevator pitch that sums up what you do, or offer, and keep it open ended to give them an opportunity to ask you more questions about it. The more they get to know you, the more likely they will be to either share your business, refer you business, or become the business!

Remember, networking is the beginning not the end. If you’ve exchanged cards with someone at the networking event, or, if the event sent out a list of email addresses, follow up with a quick summary of what you talked about, or about your business. You talked to so many people, it’s hard to keep track of all that information-the same goes for everyone else at that event. Be sure to follow up within 48 hours while you’re still fresh in their mind.

 

If you’ve networked before, what would you say was your most valuable tool?

 

What Will Happen To Your Business After You’re Gone?

I know, it’s not the easiest thing to think about, but we don’t live forever, and to expect our family or business partners to know what to do with the business after we pass can be detrimental to your business’s future. Sure, you’ve probably secured the family with a will, life insurance, etc., but you need to secure your business as well to make sure those who are carrying on for you not only know what they’re doing, but they know what your overall focus is as well.

 

One of the biggest tips I give all of my clients is to create  a spreadsheet with every password to everything you need to sign in to. That’s all your social media-Facebook, Twitter, etc.-your email, websites, encrypted software, even the code to your phone, and update it as needed. Facebook has over 30 million accounts that belong to the deceased-think about that! What if you don’t want your social media to exist any longer after you’ve passed? You have to give that right over to someone, which should be listed in your will. *It may not be popular now, but the future predicts people will begin defining their social media needs in their wills.

 

Make a spreadsheet that is password protected with every password affiliated platform you are on with its coordinating login information. Conversely, if you work with clients that use login information, you may want to make a spreadsheet for that as well. Some businesses create login’s for their clients, of which they’re not always either privy of or do not have direct access to. In case of death, the person you appoint to care for your clients will easily be able to continue working for your clients seamlessly, or at least give that client their login information to be used by someone else.

 

Of course, for those of us with children, we want to give all of our children equal rights to our things, but that doesn’t always translate well when it comes to a business. It’s important to bequeath your business to a child that understands your business, or to your business partner (with a stipulation that your half of the profits, and future profits are either divided among your children, or a trust is created to protect your assets).

 

No matter the profit margin of your business-being a small business or a medium sized business- you should speak to a wills and trust attorney, or an estate attorney to discuss what the best option is for your business’s future; whether it will carry on without you, or die with you, and how to prepare for both.

 

*If this subject interests you, and you would like more information on how to secure your business’s future and its assets, contact me for referrals on some of the best attorneys in the DMV area.

Feeling Out Of Joint? Try Deskercising!

So, I’ve talked about how working from home can be hazardous to your health on so many levels, but did you know that working from your desk, regardless of where that desk is located can also be detrimental to your health? We all know to look away from the monitor every 20 minutes to give our eyes a break, and to walk around every hour (if you can squeeze in a 30-1 hour long exercise routine of walking or regular exercise, the benefits are insurmountable).  But what do you do when your neck is stiff as a board, and your back hurts like you’ve been carrying bricks all day?

 

Workout your kinks with these deskercise routines to avoid pain in your back and neck!

 

-Raise your arms, and gently pull the elbow towards the opposite shoulder above the head. Count to 5 and repeat on the other side.

-Remaining seated, extend legs and reach towards those toes. Count to 20 and repeat 3 times.

 

-Hug your knee towards your chest.

 

 

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