Small Business Spotlight – Jane Ragasa of JanieXY

SBS Artwork

I am so excited to share the newest feature here on MeredithJ.com – the Small Business Spotlight podcast! Each month I will be publishing a new interview with a small business entrepreneur who will share their personal journey. Learning from real life experiences of other entrepreneurs has been such an encouragement within my own business journey and I hope that these inspiring stories will help you as you grow you business!

 

Listen to (or download) the audio only interview here:

Subscribe via iTunes

Or watch the video interview here:

 

This month’s Small Business Spotlight is with Jane Ragasa of JanieXY. JanieXY is a toy shop that creates the most adorable plush toys! I assure you, you will find unique toys at JanieXY that you can’t find anywhere else. As you’ll hear in the interview, Jane’s toy making business started from creating a toy for her new niece and has grown into shops and craft fairs across the nation!

In this episode of Small Business Spotlight, you’ll hear more from Jane about:

The challenge of finding focus and organization within business
How she tried several different businesses before finding her lasting passion
Her experience getting recognized for the first time at a craft show
How having flexibility allows her to have balance between her work and her personal life

Jane’s Must Have Tools and Resources
Sewing Machine
Pinterest
Books
Google

You Can Find Jane and JanieXY Products At
Janiexy.com
Janiexy.etsy.com
Follow Jane on Instagram – @JanieXY

Find JanieXY Products in Person At
Leanna Lin’s Wonderland (Southern California)
Space Montrose (Houston, TX)

Thank you for listening to this month’s Small Business Spotlight! Be sure to join us again next month for an interview with another inspiring small business owner!

 

 

Using IFTTT to Create A Writing Portfolio

Using IFTTT to Create a Writing Portfolio

 

When you’re in the middle of deadlines and work loads, it can be difficult to remember to record your work for your portfolio. Yet, it’s important to have records of your writing and other work to pull from when the time comes to share your portfolio with others. The website IFTTT can make saving your work effortless. It can be done in the background with just a little set up on the front end.

I personally have all of my blog posts and design work that I do forwarded to Evernote, which is a great, free service. It’s easily searchable and tags make it easy for me to pull up all of the items that I have created. However, as you will see when you set up your IFTTT recipes, there are a ton of options, including Google Drive and email where you save your work if you do not prefer Evernote.

Here’s how to set up a recipe to save your blog posts to Evernote:

1. Go to http://www.ifttt.com

2. Click My Recipes.

3. Click create new.

4. Choose “Feed”

5. Choose “Evernote”

(you will need to make sure that your Evernote account is linked to your IFTTT account at this point)

6. Enter the blog post feed for your site. (This is typically your website address plus /feed at the end, but you should check the web address before putting it into this spot.)

7. Let IFTTT know what information you want your Evernote note to include. I usually make a tag specifically with the website name and a tag labeled “portfolio” so that I can easily search either way. Tags are changable later, but it’s great to have this set up on the front end if you know what system you want to do.

8. Check recipe.

9. Turn on recipe.

While IFTTT usually works great, I do try to check in with the system at least once when the next blog post goes out, just to make sure there is no user error.

An Introduction to IFTTT and Why It’s Great for Your Business

IFTTT Intro

 

Automation is a great way to save time within your business. You can grow your business and  it’s effectiveness by automating as many processes as possible. The free website If This Then That allows for automation between many different websites and services.

When you sign up for IFTTT, you can activate different Channels, such as Facebook or Twitter, based on the services and sites you use (currently 116 Channels are available). Once you have different Channels chosen, you create Recipes that instruct IFTTT to create an action when a trigger is set off. For example, if you post a new Facebook status, you can have it also post to your Twitter account.

IFTTT does a great job of showcasing new and popular recipes, but you can also get creative and create recipes that work for your business needs.  Recipe creation is an easy process and IFTTT walks you through each step. I’ll be sharing a few of my favorite business related IFTTT recipes in the upcoming weeks.

Give IFTTT a try to see how automation can help your business grow!

Need help finding ways to automate your business? Let me know, I’d love to assist!

Sharing Your Google Calendar with Your Team

One of the most useful features of Google Calendar is the ability to share your calendars with others. Sharing your Google Calendar can be done with the public or with individuals, such as team members. You can quickly and easily cut down on time spent sharing information regarding your schedule by setting up a shared calendar with your team. Check out my video below to see step by step how to share your Google Calendar with others!

Need help with your busy schedule? I’d love to help!

Keep Your Schedule Under Control with Google Calendar

Google Calendar

There’s nothing that can hurt a business more than missing an important meeting or deadline. In today’s ever connected business world it’s important to have an easy to access calendar that you can trust. Google Calendar is a great option for a calendar that will help you stay on track while you grow your business.

Google Calendar is free with every Google account. If you have a Gmail account, you already have a Google Calendar account that you can use. Having all of these services connected under Google means you only have to log in once to have your information at your fingertips.

Google Calendar gives you options for your scheduling. You can easily schedule appointments on your calendar without filling in a ton of fields. For example, if you’re meeting with George at 2:30 pm tomorrow, you can type “2:30 PM tomorrow Meeting with George at Office”  in the Quick Add feature and it will be scheduled.

Did your appointment move? Simply drag and drop your event to a different day to change it on your calendar.

If you need something a little more in-depth, Google Calendar also offers recurring appointment options as well so that you don’t have to enter your regular Friday meeting each and every week.

Google Calendar lets you easily collaborate with others. If your meeting is with someone else, it’s easy to add their email to the event and invite them to add the event to their calendar. If you’re looking for even more collaboration, Google Calendar also lets you share your calendar with others. This is is a great option for working together with a virtual assistant. I use this feature with many clients.

Google Calendar will remind you of your events.  A calendar is useless if you don’t remember items on it. Google Calendar gives you options for each event or calendar that allows you to set up text, smartphone, or email reminders when you want them. You can also have Google Calendar send you a daily schedule with all events scheduled for that day in your email.

Looking for someone to help you manage your busy schedule? I’d love to help!

Managing Your Customer Interactions with Streak CRM

Managing Your Customer Interactions with

Your customers are an essential part of your business. If you don’t keep your customers serviced and happy, you won’t have a successful business for very long. One of the best resources I’ve found for helping my clients manage their customer data is Streak, a free Gmail CRM plugin.

I use Gmail exclusively to handle my email needs (as do almost all of my clients), so Streak fits in perfectly to my daily workflow. You must be using the Chrome browser to install and use Streak, but I’ve found it’s an easy install and works great not only on my Windows laptop, but also my Chromebook. The disadvantage comes if you are using a computer that does not have the Chrome browser installed. I have ran into this issue before, but haven’t found it to be a large deterrent or drawback in my experience.

Within Streak, you can create customer “boxes”, which allow you track any sort of data that you are interested in. You create the categories that you need, so your unique business is not stuck with default categories that are not necessary for your business. The possibilities to use Streak really are endless.

Streak

As you open an email, you can add it to that customer’s box. Once this is done, you are able to enter information about the customer’s account, assign a task to a team member (who will also be able to see the email when you add it to the box that is shared with them), or set reminders. Reminders are emailed to you, which is incredibly useful, considering you can see who you need to follow up with even on a non-Chrome device like your smartphone. I love the reminders option and use it on a daily basis to make sure to follow up with customers in a timely manner.

Streak is a great resource for you and your team to stay on top of customer service and retention.   I highly suggest you give it a try and see how it can help your business grow!

Not sure how to best utilize Streak for your business? I’d love to help!

 

Get To Know Your Visitors with StatCounter

Get to Know Your Visitors

It’s vital for business owners to be able to collect and analyze data regarding their website visitors. Without knowing your audience and their reaction to your website, it’s impossible to know if your efforts are making impact for your business and translating to money and growth. It’s not necessary to spend a lot of money to gather this data, you can use a great free resource, StatCounter, to collect this information for your business.

StatCounter uses HTML code that you install within the code of your site. The code is invisible to your visitors, but gathers great data you can use immediately to understand how to make your website the most effective at reaching your audience. You view stats by visiting their homepage, which gives you dozens of options for looking at your visitor data. The top categories I look at first are recent visitor activity, recent came from, and visitor path. The visitor map is also a lot of fun, as it shows a full map of all of your recent visitors.

StatCounter

 

StatCounter is free, but there are great paid options if you want even more information and saved data. While there are other free visitor tracking options, like Google Analytics, I prefer StatCounter for my frequent check ins. I feel it does a great job of giving me the information I need without a lot of extras. You can use Google Analytics and StatCounter together on the same site if you want to see which works best for you. Collect your visitor data and make great insights about who your customer is and how to best reach them!

Looking for help analyzing your visitor data? I’d love to assist!

Share Your Passwords Securely with LastPass

PW Team   I LOVE LastPass and the ease it gives in storing and sharing passwords. In this video I share the process of how to share your passwords securely with LastPass. I hope it helps you as you grow your business!

Do you need help with your business? I’d love to help your business grow! Contact me today to schedule a free business consultation.

Save Your Sanity with LastPass

Sanity LastPass

 

As an entrepreneur, you have to juggle a lot of information. Each new online resource comes with new login information to remember. With increasingly more complicated password requirements, it can become nearly impossible to remember all of the different information you need just to complete a day’s work. You don’t want to jeopardize security by remaining logged in, but you don’t want to waste valuable time remembering and logging into each website. I’ve found a great solution that I think will help your day go much smoother: LastPass password manager.

LastPass stores all of your passwords securely in the cloud, allowing you to access all of them by using one master password. You can access your passwords via their online website name the “Vault”, through their smartphone app (premium feature), or via their browser plug-ins. A wonderful additional feature is the ability to share your account information with other members of your team, without actually giving out your password information.

LastPass has a great free option, which allows you access most of their features and get a feel for the service. The free option allows you to save and access your passwords with no restrictions. If you decide to go premium (currently $12/year), you will be able to create shared folders, access your passwords through your smartphone, have multifactor authentication options, and remove ads.

I have loved using LastPass for the last several months. I found it easy to import already saved passwords from my browser, add new passwords, and access those passwords when needed. It’s not only helped me in my business, but also in my personal life as well. There are just too many passwords these days and I’d rather use my mind to grow your business. I think you’ll find LastPass a great FREE resource that will help you as you grow your business!

I offer LastPass shared services to my clients free of charge to handle passwords for their business needs.
Looking for a virtual assistant to help free your time and grow your business?
I’d love to help!

This post does contain affiliate links, which means if you sign up I benefit as well. I am not connected with LastPass in any way and all opinions expressed on this site are my own. 

Great FREE Resource For Your Business – Google Voice

GoogleVoice

 

Even if your business is based online, it’s still important to have a phone line where you can be contacted if needed. It’s no longer necessary to purchase a second phone line or give out your personal cell phone number for your business any longer. Thanks to Google Voice, you can get a free phone number to use for your business.

Google Voice is a free service offered from Google. Using your free Google account, you can create a phone number which can be forwarded to another phone line. My Google Voice number is forwarded to my cell phone, for example, but you could also have your calls forwarded to your virtual assistant. You can also answer on your computer through an internet connection. You can even receive text messages through this number, which can be received and responded to online if you choose.

I’ve used Google Voice since the start of my business and I’ve found it to work great for my limited phone needs. There is a bit of trick to figuring out what settings work best for you regarding how you want it to ring your phone. I suggest testing it with a second phone to feel comfortable answering your Google Voice phone calls. Once you have your settings where you are comfortable, you’re ready to go.

Save money and frustration that you can use in other areas of your business with this great FREE resource – Google Voice!

Need assistance setting up Google Voice for your business? I’d love to help!