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Tools for the Sucstressed

By: Roxie Hickman

It's a term, I think, that describes many small/home office business owners, micro business owners as well as professionals that are constantly on the go.

When you are busy with your business, it can be daunting to stay on top of all the details…it’s daunting to even think about the details. Throw in a computer that won’t do what you want it to do, the inevitable technical issues, and a system that lacks organization and you’ve got the makings of a stressful situation.

Working solo does not have to be synonymous with stress.

I'm a micro business owner, and my only interest is success…so I'd like to share some tools I use that help me to not be 'sucstressed'. Oh, by the way, they are all free.

The Newbie Club

Are you and your computer good friends or just mere acquaintances?

It’s fair to say that my computer is a key component in my business, and I think that’s pretty much consistent with other solo business owners. It can be frustrating to not know your way around a piece of equipment that you rely on to get things accomplished.

The Newbie Club, www.newbieclub.com, is an ezine (I know, not another ezine) whose motto is “…you’re a newbie not a dummy".

One of the few I read entirely, the Newbie Club’s ezine contains about four or five tutorials, written in plain English. The articles de-mystify your computer. Whether you want an explanation on file extensions, a smoother download process, or simply grab some graphics off the web to wallpaper your desktop, this ezine will walk you through it step by step.

The tutorials help me to become more comfortable with my computer because it helps me to understand, in plain English, the why behind what and how.

Tek-Tips

The Newbie Club is great at providing general information. There will be times, though, when we need more specific information on a particular application...times when we need technical support.

I belong to a great online community of my professional peers and help is never more than just a click away. Here’s an example, I was tweaking my website and needed some HTML code. After checking various other resources and not quickly finding what I wanted, I posted a question to my virtual assistant email list and within minutes, I had my answer and was able to do what I needed to do with my website.

For many of us working solo, a free technical support resource is simply not available. If that’s your situation, Tek-Tips, www.tek-tips.com, could be the solution. Tek-Tips is an online, technical support forum where you can find or get answers to your technical challenges.

A couple of the features I really like about Tek-Tips are the list of experts and email notification when an answer to your question has been posted. So if, for example, you are having a problem with an Excel application, you can go straight to a Tek-Tips Excel expert, post your question, and be notified by email when an answer is available or search the forums…possibly your question has already been answered.

Membership to Tek-Tips is free for now. The site is easy to get around in because it is so well organized.

Turbo Notes

Effective organization is key for any business, even more so for small and micro businesses. We have a ton of things on our to do lists, (personal and business) notes jotted down on scraps of paper, or a running list in our heads.

Whatever system you currently work with…pencil and paper, Outlook’s calendar and task lists, or the mental thing, Turbo Notes, www.turbonote.com, would be a great addition.

These notes are the electronic version of Post-Its. They sit right on your desktop and can be used as reminders for things you simply must do and don’t want to forget. Like the paper version, they have a variety of colors (yellow, red, violet and green). So if you are into color coding your tasks, these work well.

Unlike the paper version, with Turbo Notes, you can set an alarm on your notes. Instant messages can be sent to other Turbo Note users, and you can set up a hot-link to your often accessed files. Need to do some math? Turbo-Note also has a calculator function. I’ve only been using Turbo Notes a short time and already this little program has made a big impact.

I'm sure there are other uses I haven't discovered yet. What I do know is that Turbo-Note is easy to install, easy to use, and there is a free trial version.

Trax Time

There are solo business owners, believe it or not, that get so busy they lose track of time spent on billable work. The direct result is a loss of money. That’s not good business.

Early on in my business I was introduced to this piece of software, Trax Time. Trax Time, www.traxtime.com, is your computer’s own personal punch clock.

With Trax Time each client is entered as a project. Then it is a matter of punching in and out as you work with that particular client/project throughout the day.

Trax Time has the ability to run a variety of reports. The reports can then be copied and pasted into other documents. For example, my statements are sent out via email. A report for the month is created, and three clicks later it’s pasted and on it’s way via email. I have my statement and the client has an accurate accounting of the time spent on his/her projects.

Trax Time has many more useful features. The bottom line, time is money and for the solo professional Trax Time, or a similar software program, is a must.

Smooth Operation

Our businesses can operate smoothly and relatively stress free with economical and effective resources at our fingertips. All of the free resources in this article are just a mouse click away.

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About The Author, Roxie Hickman

Roxie Hickman, Virtual Assistant (VA), is the owner of The Virtual Connection. The Virtual Connection (www.thevirtualconnection.net) specializes in working with the ‘sucstressed’ (successful professionals who are stressed because they’ve been doing it alone). The Virtual Connection provides offsite executive, administrative, and personal assistance (virtual assistance).
roxie@thevirtualconnection.net
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