Author: Natalie

The Work Outing

I like to cultivate a peaceful working environment and I’d like for everyone to be included. Call it the Georgian in me. Or maybe it’s because working in a staffing agency really makes you conscious of human interactions and how important they are, even when it doesn’t seem that way some days when you want the whole world to go away.

My colleagues and I have a great relationship. We’re respectful of each other, we’re never getting too personal and we’re always trying to be helpful to one another best way we can. Of course, there are some people who work with us but do their own thing and don’t really meddle with us, but that’s okay. We all live in this county and we all pretty much know each other.

It was Brian’s birthday last week, so we bought him a nice watch, a Stuhrling, and after work, we went to a nearby local bar where they have karaoke night every Thursday. I hadn’t been to karaoke in forever, but we were all up for it and very enthusiastic. It wasn’t planned actually, but Brian won a bet over Tom. They were arguing about Sweat Mountain’s highest point and Brian was the closest to the actual number. I don’t even remember how they got into it. It was either this or the barbeque place right around the corner, but Brian said he wanted karaoke for his birthday.

Anyways, we went there, had a couple of drinks and we were just chatting. It was a little unusual at first because we weren’t really used to hanging out with each other outside the office. It was one thing to have a coffee, and chat together in the kitchen at the office, but it was completely different in an informal gathering outside the office. We usually do these once or twice a year, like for Christmas or something, but this was unplanned.

Little did I know how much karaoke can lower your inhibitions. And a couple of Cosmos as well! I have to say, I really enjoyed it. With some of my colleagues we really hit it off, like, Brenda and I found out we were both fans of Duran Duran. She actually picked to sing one of their songs, but I chose 80s Madonna. A little pop goes a long way.

So all in all, it was a great work outing and sometimes unplanned karaoke nights turn out to be some of the best!

Welcoming a New Company to the Area

Small businesses are often plagued with trivial matters. When you first find the perfect spot, you end up having to remodel and decorate to make it suitable for your enterprise. I believe in creating a business plan to guide you thereafter in reaching your goals. It is like a timeline for success. Marketing comes into play soon after, and it is no small task. So much goes into reaching the public and promoting your product or service. I was just counseling a friend the other day about marketing. Meanwhile, oddly enough, I elected to help out my plumber with his own unique business.

I guess I am a bundle of advice! The plumber had been repairing my overworked hot water heater that was producing scalding water all of a sudden. There was no way to fix it on my own, as enterprising as I am. It took him an hour and the temperature setting started to go into action. He advised me to get an annual cleaning of excess sediment that can interfere with the functioning of the inner elements. In turn, I agreed to provide all the knowledge I have of marketing.

The basics of marketing apply to any business. Of course, I specialize in those of a smaller size. It is all about Facebook posts and emails these days. Texts should be reserved for friends. Constant communication with prospects is vital in this competitive world. In the future, I will elaborate. Meanwhile, it helps to write good, catchy content that is informational and meaningful—no blather.  You may need a bit of help here to get it just write. I have been known to hire a freelancer myself.

Great Week!

It has been a great week. Super busy, but really great. I set a weekly goal to keep myself motivated. Usually it is something simple like “leave work early once this week” or “set aside time to clean out your inbox every day”. Sometimes I get it done and sometimes I don’t but I always put in the extra effort to try and complete the task. This week’s goal was to drum up some new clients.

On Monday, I used my Chamber of Commerce connections and got a great price on some prime ad space in the weekly circular that will help my business. This is a great benefit to being a Chamber member, and I was super excited to use it.

Then on Tuesday I had a Chamber luncheon to go to. There was a great speaker who talked about different tax breaks small businesses can uses and the smartest way to take advantage of them. Not only did I get some great tips, but I also talked to the HR rep at a local factory, who is looking to hire some temps. I am going to meet with her in a week with some resumes I’ve pulled just for her, which is great. I’ve been trying to get my foot in the door with these people for a while and I am so excited that it is finally happening!

As if that wasn’t awesome enough, on Wednesday I had someone come in to my office looking for work. This guy is incredible. He has office skills, computer skills, and sales skills. He is a dream candidate! He’s new to the area and not sure if he wants to stay, so he is only looking for something temporary at this time. I did my best to convince him to stay and gave him a couple of job options – he was really interested. He chose one and I faxed over his resume. Of course I got a call right away and they love him. He starts there on Monday. I love being able to place people right away, it is an amazing feeling!

Thursday my ad ran in the circular, and it generated a lot of interest. We had double the amount of phone inquiries we normally do and a couple of walk-ins. I also received some emails from clients who saw the ad. It reminded them that we exist, and they realized they could use our services again. Total score!

Friday is casual day for my full-time staff. Let me tell you, I love Casual Friday as much, if not more, than most of them, so my day started out awesome. I also had people come in whose temp jobs ended last week for job completion interviews, and they were all happy with their experiences. One even was offered a full-time position, which she is taking. Another star for us!

So the week was really great work-wise, and the weekend might be good as well. Believe it or not, I am going on a second date with someone I met online. The first date went so well, I am really looking forward to the second one. Keep your fingers crossed for me, I could use some good thoughts and encouragement.

Life Goals

Since this is a personal blog, I’d like to get a little personal today. I am hoping that putting my life goals in writing will be empowering and motivating, but who knows. Maybe it will be like my diary in the fourth grade, which I cannot read now without cringing. Hopefully, though, it will help me hold myself accountable and get moving on some of these ideas.

First, I want to grow my business. My staffing company has continued to grow, and it is through hard work that I’ve got as far as I have. It used to just be me helping friends find summer jobs and babysitting gigs, and now I have my own employees and have found jobs for a lot of people! I’ve formed connections within the community that has developed into valuable business networks and good friends. However, I would like to expand and be able to have more permanent employees that can share the day-to-day administration roles that really can bog me down. That actually brings me to my second point:

I want to accomplish is having more of a personal life. Being a small business owner means I wear a lot of hats and do the work of a multitude of people. While the rest of my employees go home at 5 pm, I’m still at my desk, working on the finances and following up on my staffers. I don’t make enough money to really justify paying somebody to do these things, and I honestly like it. But I do know that the more time I spend here, the less time I have for an actual life outside of the four walls of my office. I want to have a relationship and a pet. Maybe even some kids. Luckily, I wouldn’t even have to move: I know that the schools in Cobb County are fantastic – through my own experience living here and because I have helped place a couple people temporarily in school positions and gotten great feedback from those people. I’ve also had lots of interactions with schools through the Chamber of Commerce by doing educational visits and fundraising for the students. I have also been lucky enough to have some high school students and recent graduates come to me to get their first job placements!

The final thing on my list of life goals is to make an impact. I am not sure exactly how to do this yet because I am undecided whether I want it to be job-related, personally, or even as a positive environmental change. It could be as simple as planting some trees or helping someone find their dream job. I haven’t ruled anything out because I think people overlook the different ways we change the world around us. There is just something to be said for making the world a better place, even if all you’ve done is direct someone toward their real calling.

So there are my life goals. Nothing too big or flashy, to be sure, but definitely worthwhile. What are your life plans? How are you going about achieving them?

Let’s Play Ball!

Growing up, my family was big on two sports. Football and baseball. Fall and winter was filled with college and pro football, then spring training and the baseball season would take us right through the summer and back into fall and football again.

I spent a lot of time at Turner Field with my dad. It was a decade of great baseball, and we were pretty sad that they decided to move the team. There were a lot of memories at that ballpark and it was hard to imagine seeing Braves baseball somewhere else.

However, we certainly were very happy about the new stadium being built closer to the house, right here in Cobb County (a fact that helped my dad take this move better than when the Braves moved out of Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium). While I do love baseball, I also love the perks that come with a modern ballpark. Suntrust Field promised new amenities and would actually be designed for baseball instead of a repurposed (but still great) Olympic stadium.

And because it was being built in Cobb County, I knew they would do it right. Public transportation is easy to use to get yourself to the stadium. There are places to eat and shop even when the Braves aren’t playing at The Battery Atlanta. There are hotels for people who are coming in from out of town to enjoy the area and catch a game. There’s also the Coca-Cola Roxy, where you can see performances and concerts. The area around the stadium has become a social and economic hub of the county, which is fantastic.

The new stadium has a bunch of things that Turner field did not.  The best thing, of course, is the parking. It has doubled! There’s still not enough, obviously – 14,000 spaces – but there is always “unofficial” spots that are available in the neighborhood thanks to some creative Cobb residents. There’s also more bathrooms and stalls. That probably doesn’t mean much to guys, but us gals don’t miss as much of the game as we used to when waiting for a stall to free up. And who doesn’t love the Lego tomahawk at the main entrance? I love watching games here just as much as I did as a kid back at Turner.

I do like the fact that Turner Field is still standing and has been renovated. It shows that Atlanta has a real commitment to the area around the old stadium. I am happy to see that the businesses in the surrounding area haven’t been abandoned now that the Braves have moved 20 minutes away. Turner Field has been rechristened as Parker H. Petit Field, and is now home to the Georgia State Panthers. It should also be home to Alliance Atlanta, an Alliance of American Football team, in the next year or so. It’s just an excellent use of resources and makes me appreciate my home state even more! I can’t wait to see what they do next.

You’re in Great Company

If you run a business, you know that having connections within your community can really help things along. Whether you need suppliers, information, or other services, working with other businesses and the people who run them is just smart. However, it can be difficult for you to make these sort of connections. Especially if you live in a larger area or somewhere that businesses are more spread out, it can be a lot of legwork and time consuming to really network effectively. You’re probably thinking there has to be a smarter way to do things, and you would be right.

Join your local Chamber of Commerce. While membership fees and benefits vary from place to place, one thing that you will definitely find is support. Your local Chamber is very active within the community and will advocate for your business when necessary with local, state, and federal officials. That’s a huge help, especially when you are the little guy and being taken advantage of. Some Chambers host luncheons or receptions with speakers to give you information or education, or simply provide a way to network.

Another great benefit is that you can expand your visibility. Your local Chamber likely has a website with a searchable company database. People will be able to look online to find any type of service they’re looking for. If you are not part of the Chamber, you’re not going to be listed. And this site will provide a level of comfort to the consumer, as they know there are operating standards all members should follow. In addition, the larger the organization, the more likely you will receive special pricing on goods and services through specific companies that are either part of the Chamber themselves or through bulk-business accounts. Your business may also be listed in Welcome or Newcomer kits that are disseminated to people who move to the area.

Our local Chamber also has a Board of Directors and a Board of Advisors, which help to promote a business-friendly agenda and makes decisions for the organization as a whole. They are also the ones who handle the voting for the Chamber Awards – great categories like Small Business of the Year, Next Generation Award, and all kinds of other things that will look great framed and on your wall where everyone can see it.

So, I hope that you can see what sort of benefits are in store for you. I joined as soon as I could afford to and I have never regretted it! You get to meet other people and exchange ideas. You get discounts on services and advertising. You get to be more of a part of the community and have advocates on your side when you need it. Your business and employees are recognized for doing well, and you are also supporting economic development in your area. Check out what your local Chamber can offer you and decide for yourself.

My Small Business Tips

I’ve owned my own business since I was 18 years old. It has grown and evolved over time, and going to college to get a degree in Business slowed me down at first but has paid off tremendously. I don’t regret it for a second! If you’re interested in starting a small business, I’m going to give you a few things to think about. I’m sure you can find lots of materials about how to run a business successfully that gives you great pointers. This is not that. This post just contains thoughts I had that have helped me and could help you too.

First, if you are going to be a small business owner, do something that you love. You are going to be working long hours and handling a significant amount of challenges. If you don’t love and believe in what you are doing, you will not make it. It is so much easier to find that second (or third, or fourth) wind to get yourself back up and going when you actually care about what you do.

Second, you’re going to need help to get established, so choose somewhere that is pro-small business. I’ve been really lucky that I get to work and live in a place that is as business-friendly as Cobb County has been. If you aren’t sure about what your area has to offer, visit your local Chamber of Commerce to find out more. Another great way to learn about businesses are to talk to other storefront owners in the area and listen to what they have to say – ask about neighborhood safety, commercial or industrial space landlords, and about resources.

Third, location matters. Now, you may think that isn’t the most original tip, but you need to include all aspects of your business. I am not just talking foot traffic. I am also talking parking for customers and employees, visibility of signage and accessible routes to your location, outdoor lighting, your ability to customize your space, alarm systems, crime rates, as well as EMS response times. There are a ton of other things to consider as well. Depending on your business, being near certain types of transportation can also be beneficial. For example, if you import lots of goods, being near an airport like Hartsfield-Jackson will make life easier. If you do huge mailings or do a lot of your sales online, being near a post office or a shipping company will cut down on the time it takes to get orders out.

Being your own boss can be really rewarding but it is also extremely difficult. Learning all you can before you get started about the market, your target customer, and the area will definitely help you on your way. I wish you all the best, and please consider being a neighbor here in Cobb County.