Category Archives: Business

The Mystery of Motivation

Sometimes, I get lucky and am sent an extremely encouraging message exactly when I need it.

This time, a little bonne bouche came in my junk mail folder (which I hardly ever check by-the-way). The subject of the email was The Mystery of Motivation. (Intriguing right?)

The following is a blog post by a member at SparkPeople, username: SHAPNUP. SparkPeople liked it enough to email it out to all of their e-newsletter subscribers. Note the social media trick here. Did you notice it? It was free content for them, and they encouraged their member by sharing her message.

How does motivation work? What makes us pick up our feet and do what we gotta do? Well, for me, motivation works the same way, backwards and forwards.

It’s like this…

BACKWARDS:

  • I eat one Hershey’s Kiss. I am motivated to eat more. ◄ LOL! Isn’t that sadly true!?
  • My job is mostly sedentary. I am motivated to be less active.
  • My co-workers (mostly healthy weights) like to snack (on unhealthy foods). I am motivated to do the same.
  • I find comfort in certain foods. I am motivated to drug myself with them.
  • None of this takes much effort. I am motivated to do even less.

FORWARDS:

  • I read a success-story blog on Spark. My endorphins kick in. I am motivated to want success.
  • I skip an unhealthy snack. It isn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I am motivated to do it again.
  • No pasta or pizza till I can’t breathe, and I sleep better. I am motivated to eat more healthfully and lightly.
  • Moving, even a little bit, raises my energy. I am motivated to move more.

What we feed grows.

If we feed the negative in our lives, it gets bigger. It becomes an unending cycle of drudgery and pain. And it continually gets worse. I am an EXPERT at feeding the negative. I think we all know how to do that.

If we feed the positive in our lives, it gets bigger. The cycle is now made up of health, strength, and energy. Feeding the positive, well, that’s a learning experience for me. It takes planning and effort and action. It takes overcoming LAZINESS, which I believe is a huge part of my negative cycle. I’m not so good at feeding the positive.
I’d like to get better at this myself.

This weekend I’ve been feeding both. Talk about confusion. No wonder my mind and body can’t quite get it together.

I’ve fed my negative cycle with poor food choices and poor sleep.

I’ve fed my positive cycle with lots of water and some great physical exertion. It’s a start.

My goal is to replace the negative with positive.
My goal is to replace negative with the positive… Hear hear!

Looks like my work is cut out for me.

How do you feed the positive in your life? What makes you pick up your feet and do what you gotta do?

(I put in a few things in bold, added a few bullet points, and a word or two in red; otherwise every word in black and white was hers.)

My final thoughts:
There is really not much one can add to this except that this motivational message can be applied to any aspect of our lives: business, family, friends, or our own health.

Whatever our goals are, we should surround ourselves with influences that will help us accomplish those goals. If we are always letting something or someone else discourage us, then isn’t failure practically inevitable?

Shopping Cart Solutions for Online Business

Free and Low Cost Online Shopping Cart Services

Q: Who are these services actually solutions for?
A: Brand new online businesses or very small businesses (solo-entrepreneurs) that make fewer but larger transactions.

Free Online Shopping Cart Services

I have worked with those “free” or should I say the services that initially charge no monthly fees like the beloved (<-I'm sort of rolling my eyes as I'm typing that) PayPal or Google Checkout. The catch is that their processing fees are really quite outrageous!

  • Pros
  • Low Initial Investment
  • A Bit Lower Transaction Rates for Larger Transactions
  • They can process credit cards without your having to sign a contract with a cc processor.
  • Doesn’t require an extremely high technical skill set, but a fair amount of HTML and the ability to add a little JavaScript code to your website or blog site is required
  • Cons
  • Outrageously High Per-Transaction Fees

Once your company gets established you should begin looking up your own checkout solutions.

More Costly, Yet Quite Commonly Used Shopping Cart Services

Lots of small and startup businesses use shopping cart services like 1ShoppingCart.com or eCommerce solutions like the ones available from Yahoo! Small Business for there online order needs.

  • Pros
  • Doesn’t require an extremely high technical skill set, but a fair amount of HTML and the ability to add a little JavaScript code to your website or blog site is required
  • Cons
  • Very Limited Customization
  • Requirements
  • You must additionally purchase your own credit card processing service.

Money Saver?
If you already have a self-hosted website, it might be a waste to spend $30+ dollars a month on highly proprietary solutions with such limited customizations like the ones these companies offer.

Free Self-hosted Shopping Cart Solutions

Q: Who are these services actually solutions for?
A: Small to Large Corporate Size Businesses

Two that I have worked with are Zen Cart and OpenCart <- this new one that I have found very robust as well.

  • Pros
  • Nearly Endless Customization Abilities <3 <- Developers love this pro.
  • Possibly Low Initial Investment – if you are developing your own website that is…
  • They can process credit cards without your having to sign a contract with a cc processor.
  • Cons
  • You must additionally purchase your own credit card processing service. (Shop around for this, I think even places like Sam’s Club and Costco have very very low cost merchant services for cc processing.)
  • These services require advanced experience with HTML, PHP, and managing MySQL databases. (Pretty much anyone who works professionally developing WordPress can use these right out of the box so to speak.)
  • Requirements
  • Like all opensource systems, you must be ready and able to keep your systems up to date
  • More Self-hosted Security like SSL certificates for transactions made directly on your website.
  • You must additionally purchase your own credit card processing service and possibly purchase additional extensions to connect with your cc processor. This is a one time probably around $25 to $50 fee verses monthly fees for 1shoppingcart

If I have forgotten anything, or mixed up any points here do let me know and I’ll give you a shout out. <3

Goals for Me: to Make, Break, or Reconsider

I’m sitting alone (well at least I have no children sitting around me) in a random Starbucks contemplating all of the things that I am going to get accomplished this year.

Yep, it’s that time of year again. The kiddies are back to school, everyone’s back to a different schedule, and I am back to the same place I was a year ago (metaphorically speaking) when I wrote Change is Inevitable, Progress is Work.

It’s been a while since I wrote a post, so be prepared for all the info I’ve stored up! I am changing my schedule now, so I will be writing to you on Tuesdays from now on.

I have no idea why (perhaps it’s the very caffeinated iced coffee I am drinking despite the fact that I really don’t like coffee) but I have the strangest urge to type out all of my goals for myself, my family, and my work for the year. Like so many of you other virtual assistants, my life requires balance in three very distinct areas. Today I am going to write about how I have incorporated new habits to keep myself healthy and in top “working condition”.

1. Finding Balance for Myself

I must be healthy. This means:
to eat right
I wrote a post a few weeks ago about a documentary I watched called Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead. I had to write a post about this film because it has so many great points about how we jeopardize out healthy every time we don’t choose the foods we consume wisely.

We eat so much over-processed and vitamin/mineral depleted foods that our bodies are fighting a losing battle to stay healthy. Check out that movie to watch real people reverse the damage that years of poor eating habits caused.

to get enough sleep

“I found this great new medicine… It’s called sleep!” – I told this to my doctor during a checkup and she laughed and wrote it down and told me she had to use that.

Even though I said it with humor, I meant it earnestly.

Last September, I did a sort of health experiment with my sleep and actually made myself sleep 8 hours every night for a full month. Beating insomnia was well worth the effort.

After a few months of sleeping eight hours every single night, I felt amazing. Of course I have slacked off since then, but I am not nearly as bad as I was. :)

Sleep is the time of the day when the body rebuilds, repairs and re energizes for the next day. The skin is the largest organ of the body and without the proper levels of sleep, it will also be the largest age-showing part of your life. At the surface of the skin are millions of cells that die off each day due to environmental influences, dry skin and sun damage. While lotions and cream may ease the effects of these factors, sleep is the only regenerative cycle that can truly undo the effects of the day. Without enough sleep, the skin will be unable to rebuild those dead and dying cells and this is when aging occurs.

- Sleep and Anti Aging excerpt from the Top Anti Aging Website

and to exercise often enough.

In a post called Exercise? Blah, It Just Sounds Like More Work I wrote last November I wrote about exercise videos, and then last April I wrote about more spontaneous styles of exercise in Time for Recess.

I think the trick for exercise is simply keep changing it up so we don’t get bored. I love to run, so I’ve been running at least three times a week all summer.

What about you?
What do you have to do to keep yourself in top working condition?

Places to Find Freelance Writing Jobs

Work at Home Mom and Dad Writers

Parents Magazine and Parents.com, Parenting Magazine, Working Mother Magazine

Freelance Writing Job Listings

Freelance Writing Gigs, Newest FREELANCE MAGAZINE WRITING Jobs – collects most listings from CraigsList.org, Magazines Seeking Writers – write about travel, cooking, etc

IT Article Writers

Developer Tutorials, WorldStart’s Computer Tips, Simple-Talk, Technet Magazine

Writers of All Things Etc.

Write for About.com, AuctionBytes-Update and Collector’s Corner, Fiction Writing Editors, Professional Resume Writers, Funds for Writers (Source – I verified some of this information from an article titled “50 Places that Hire Freelance Writers” found at www.freelancewritinggigs.com/2009/07/50-places-that-hire-freelance-writers.)

Write for Animal Magazines

Dog Fancy magazine, Dog & Kennel, Animal Wellness, The Bark, Animal Fair, Veterinary Medicine, Cat Fancy, Catworld Magazine, Cats USA Magazine, Cats & Kittens and Bird Times, I Love Cats Magazine, Bird Talk magazine, Bird Watcher’s Digest, Aquarium Fish International Magazine, and Reptiles Magazine. (Source – I found this information from an article titled “Magazines That Hire Freelance Writers To Write About Pets” at www.cocothebloggingdog.com/2009/08/magazines-that-hire-freelance-writers.html and included links to submission information.)

3 Virtues That Entrepreneurs Can’t Succeed Without

(Number three is the only one that is not debatable.)

1. Acceptance

First we must fully accept two very important things with real confidence: ourselves and the inevitability of change.

Confidence begins with self-acceptance… Make a decision that you will never again compare yourself with someone else. Appreciate others for what they are and enjoy the wonderful person you are.”

- Quoted from Joyce Meyer’s The Confident Woman

Standardization is a beautiful thing, but a real entrepreneur is never satisfied with the ‘status quo’. In order to face change, you must first embrace the fact that it will come.

“If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.”

- Gail Sheehy

2. Diligence

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

- Thomas Edison

“Never give up. Never give up. Never give up.

- Sir Winston Churchill

And last but not least:

3. A Sense of Humor

If you can’t find the humor in those “there is no freaking way that just happened” situations, you might as well quit now because your health or your sanity will seriously begin deteriorating within a year.

“Every survival kit should include a sense of humor.”

- Author Unknown

Remember this? -> 5 Silly Things Most Virtual Assistants Will Go Through.

Ok, there are many more virtues like honesty and integrity and creativity and maybe luck (Is luck a “virtue”?) and the beat goes on… :)

You Have 3 Minutes!

I am tired of hearing that old saying “Time is money”.
But here’s the real truth: Time is way more valuable than money.

Money can be earned, but time can only be saved. (And no, I didn’t get that from the book, I figured that one out on my very own. :) )

This week I read:

You Have 3 Minutes!

Learn the Secret of the Pitch from Trump’s Original Apprentice
Written by Richardo Bellino

Is it really possible to sell anything in 3 minutes?

“My answer is not only is it possible, but it is also the only effective way to sell an idea.”

- Ricardo R. Bellino, Founder, TRUMP REALTY BRAZIL

Set the Limit


A forward from Donald J. Trump precedes the content of this book. I read Donald’s carefully assembled opinion of Ricardo Bellino and how he decided to make him a partner during those first three minutes of meeting him.

More than anything else, it was his following statement in the forward that stood out:

“It’s surprising what people can do with a deadline.”

- Donald Trump

So simple in it’s structure and yet so complex in its meaning. Don’t you think? Well, maybe it was my state of mind when I read it that made it more profound that it actually was. You now how it is. Sometimes we are just more “inspire-able” than other times.

I was motivated to save myself even more time during my business day because summer seems like the most difficult time to stay on track. Maybe it’s because the kids are out of school or because it’s just so nice outside that I make any excuse I can to get out there.

How many amazing things could you have already accomplished in your lifetime if you always given yourself realistic deadlines and then been disciplined enough to stick to them?

Would you have started that business venture? or written that best seller? or broken that bad habit? or mastered that vital skill? or learned that foreign language? or permanently dropped those few extra pounds?

Optimize the Time Given

Read this book. Buy it. Borrow it. Whatever. It’s worth reading the tips on image (Are people buying your image?), negotiation (When should you listen to intuition? How should you make snap decisions?), and effective communication throughout a business venture.

It’s all there plus a lot more.