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Protecting Seniors from Scammers

A few weeks ago my parents were almost the victims of a scammer. Without going into too much detail, my mother received a phone call from someone claiming to be her grandson (whom I’ll call John). He was crying and told her she needed to call his lawyer and wire money to him. He asked her to not tell anyone, including the authorities. She called my sister and asked her if she knew where John was and if my sister was sure of his whereabouts. She wouldn’t tell my sister why she called. Naturally, my sister asked why and was more than concerned about our mother’s call especially because she was being secretive.

When my mother called the so-called lawyer, she said she would drive the three hours to deliver the money personally. She offered this because she didn’t know how she would get the money to the lawyer without raising the suspicions of my father when he saw the withdrawal from their account. The lawyer then said that John was actually in Texas and not only three hours away. That is when my mom got wise. Thankfully. But for the better part of an hour, my mother is was frantic. The scammers even had the gall to call my father after speaking to my mother.  But my mother had already informed him about what happened, so he had some choice words for them before he hung up.

I have told my mother several times to never answer a call if she doesn’t recognize the phone number; that if it’s important a message will be left. But sometimes curiosity gets the best of her. I believe she now understands the reason why I told her to never answer without recognizing the number.

Our world is changing so much with the continuous advances in technology. As we age we don’t always keep up with new technologies. However, the scammers do. And their easy targets are seniors. The internet makes it too easy for scammers to get information about you and your family that can be used to their advantage. Seniors may not have too much of a footprint on the internet, yet the younger generations do. And a simple Google search of your name can return a lot of information about you as well as family members. And if the scammers pay for the information, I’m sure they get more information than you care to know. Or maybe you do.

But that is just one example out of many that take place every day. We need to be vigilant in protecting the seniors in our lives. In a report conducted by CNBC, it was estimated that seniors lost approximately $36 billion in 2015 to scammers.  And that might be a low estimate. We have to stay ahead of these shysters.

Here is a list of helpful websites that can help you and seniors stay safe from fraud and the criminals that target them.

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Make it an Admin Day

Being a business owner is not always glamorous or desirable. It is, however, a job in which you spend countless more hours ⌛️ working for yourself than you did when you worked for someone else. And why? Because it's yours and you love the life it affords you.

However, when we get busy, we tend to get behind on the small details of the business. That is why I like to assign one weekday as my Administrative day. My day of choice is Fridays because I can ease into the weekend. And on a day like today - ice and a little snow but mostly ice- it's good to stay inside and get things done.

If you're a small business owner, what do you do to get a handle on the pesky tasks that never get done? Do you have staff to whom you can assign them?

Or do they crowd your dreams, forcing you to get out of bed at 3 o’clock and address them? Hopefully not.

1440 can help you move past those dreams so you can get a solid 8 hours. Learn to delegate, and you’ll sleep better

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Is your head spinning yet? Don’t know what to do first?

Establishing a routine, especially in the infancy of your business, is critical to running a successful business; especially if you are the one and only employee in the beginning.  Why is it important? Because routines help set you up for success.

As boring as it might sound, routines provide a number of advantages, personal as well as professional.

1. Over time, you become more efficient and proficient in the tasks you perform each day. This can include everything from exercising to emptying your email Inbox.

2. You begin to learn and identify how long tasks will take.

3. You become better at prioritizing your to-do’s

4. Your self-confidence increases.

5. You begin to procrastinate less, and you start crossing things off your list of to-dos.

On a personal level, your routine could include personal activities such as exercising, prepping healthy meals, journaling, and meditation.  These are some activities that I have incorporated into my weekly schedule. When I get to the gym it sets the tone of the day for me. It boosts my endorphins and I carry that momentum with me the rest of the day.

On a professional level, consider setting time aside to read publications relevant to your business, and listing the day’s most critical tasks you must accomplish.  Add all of your to-do’s to your schedule and set a timer (if you can stand it). There are online timers you can use to help you through getting tasks done. Do a simple Google search for “online timers” and you will find many options. Some are elaborate and some are very simple. Consider using a timer on your computer and not your smartphone. Having your smartphone nearby will only tempt you to start checking things that have nothing to do with the task you are currently working on.  Try allotting 20 minutes to each task. That way you could knock out 3 tasks in 1 hour. And what busy business owner doesn’t want that?

As the owner of a personal concierge business, I am well aware of the importance of time and making the most of the time we have.  I too, have to have assistance from time to time to complete projects.   

And remember, it is okay to delegate! Better to delegate than to get bogged down and unable to complete projects; professional or personal.

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Tidy Space = Productive Business

Success in business does not necessarily mean you're a success in your personal life. When your home is cluttered, it can have a direct impact on the health of your business. It can also impact your mental health.

As a small business owner, I still wear many different hats, but not all of them anymore. I'm the Administrative Assistant and the Bookkeeper. I'm also the Chief Executive of Marketing and the Chief Executive of Operations. My office, at times, looks like five people are living in it.

When my office is cluttered and unorganized, I am hardly productive. I know this is a challenge for many business owners as well as cubicle dwellers who have small spaces. It's as if the chaos is preventing you from moving forward. And when the chaos creeps into the kitchen, the family room, the bedroom, it can stop you in your tracks.

However, for the sake of this article, we'll address the mess in your office.

So what can you do to tackle the quilombo in your office?

1. When you're finished for the day, tidy up your space. If you took a file out of the cabinet, put it back. Tidying up after yourself at the end of the day will make walking into your office less stressful. Tidy space = tidy mind (for most of us). Leaving your space cluttered at the end of the day will likely cause stress the next time you return. 

2. I'm a firm believer that everything has a space. Be it a drawer, a shelf, or a hanging filing rack, right down to the pencil drawer on your desk. It makes items easier to find. And when it's easier, it's less stressful. 

3. Just because you have a dedicated workspace, it's doesn't mean it can't be furnished with a few personalized items. Photographs of extraordinary people, places, or things can provide the inspiration and motivation you need to get and stay motivated. 

4. A little bit of greenery can not only provide a little spark of life but can also offer a small sense of calm. Many nurseries and large hardware stores – Lowe's and Home Depot – have small potted plants that do not require much devotion. They are the perfect plant for busy people.

Sometimes it may be just as easy as rearranging furniture so it can create the flow of positive energy. I rearranged my office several times in one month before I found the perfect setup (yes, the photograph with this article is my office).

Find the arrangement that works for you and see your productivity increase

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What is Your First To-Do as an Entrepreneur? Hire a Personal Assistant

As a business owner, it is important to know when and what you should delegate. But not only when and what but also to whom you can charge with duties. Maybe you have a team in place that will take care of the small details. But what if you’re a one-person show, wearing all the hats? CEO, CFO, COO, CMO, CTO?

While it is essential to not only know the when and what of the delegation but whom you delegate to is just as important. One of the most significant time-sucks for business owners is the administrative and personal tasks that, if left undone, can wreak havoc on your success. Consider how much time you spend filing, fielding calls, data entry, travel reservations, or numerous others. Then consider your personal obligations and errands. All those tasks, and others not listed, take away time from job one. Determine the functions that do not require your personal attention and delegate those tasks.

Personal Assistants often double as Business Assistants as well. We will not only man the front desk, do your data entry, and document business processes, we will also pick up your dry cleaning, restock your home fridge, wait for the AC repair person.

With hiring 1099 contractors, you are not required to offer benefits, withhold taxes, pay Social Security and Medicare taxes, or pay unemployment.

A few of the services I have performed for my business clients include:

· Mailings via USPS or email

· Answering phones and handling the reception desk

· Following up on warm leads.

· Collection calls

· Process documentation

· Delivering documentation

· Wait service (waited for delivery in-home and office)

· Workspace organization

· Scheduling meetings

· Calendar Management

All of these duties can be delegated so you can focus on moving your business forward.

Look through our KC Business Mastermind website for more helpful tips to start-ups.

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Getting Stuff Done – With or Without Corona

Since most of us are under a mandatory stay-order, I wonder how many are having a problem with their routines. I sure am. The stay-order has, most unforgivably, thrown me into a tailspin of sorts. I still get out of bed and shuffle to the coffee station just off the kitchen — a K-Cup coffee for me and a brewed pot for my husband. Sometimes I'll make myself a keto coffee, but I don't know why. I don't follow keto anymore (I need my personal cook to be living with me again). Anyway, I get coffee, watch a little TV and walk up the stairs to my office. From there, it's anything goes. These last two weeks have been rough.

But today, I did something different. I got dressed, brushed my teeth, and cleaned up the kitchen. I filled my sinks with steaming hot water and added Clorox bleach to them. I let them sit for two hours and voila, they're sparkling clean. Who doesn't love a shiny clean sink? ANYHOO, doing this always makes me think of two people: My sister, and The Fly Lady.

Who has heard of The Fly Lady If you haven't, visit her website—lots of tips there. When the economy tanked in 2008, I found myself with too much time on my hands; my sister told me about The Fly Lady. One of the many takeaways I learned from The Fly Lady was something she calls Shiny Sink 101, and I still do this 12 years later. It feels like I'm wrapping up the week, and I'm ready to start a new week fresh and revived. I know, it's just a sink, but it does make me feel better.

Then I remembered something I stumbled on not too long ago. It's called Five Evening Habits That Make Tomorrow Amazing by Mel Robbins. And who doesn't love Mel Robbins? Although I do not watch her show. Daytime TV is ..... awful.

What is her first step to making tomorrow amazing? Empty the sinks and clear the counters! However, I'm sure it doesn't matter what order you do them in, but doing them does help. But, full transparency here, I don't do all of them. And especially now, thank you, Corona, you B-word, I feel like I'm overachieving if I do even one. Here is a link to Mel's to the PDF if you want a copy for yourself. A simple Google search will return hundreds of lists for productivity and efficiency. Mel's list is good, but it is not the end-all-be-all. Find the one that works best for you. If you want a recommendation on productivity books, I highly suggest reading Getting Things Done; the art of stress-free productivity. I was lucky enough to attend one of his workshops years and years ago, and to this day, I still believe it was the best workshop I have ever attended.

The point I am trying to make is this: to be productive, you must set yourself up for it. It sounds so obvious but, seeing in and black and white, then saying it out loud can make all the difference. And getting dressed and bleaching the sink is a great start. I didn't plan on doing a blog entry today but see? I got dressed, brushed my teeth, and poof! Blog entry!

Now, go slay the day and kick this Rona's ass!!!

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Find a File Faster

When I began helping my client last year, the one I wanted to fix was his filing cabinets! 🗂. For an OCD person like me, it hurts to see it like this. But if anything good came out of this whole COVID19 pandemic, it was that his business slowed down (not good for him, of course), but it finally gave me a chance to get these drawers in some kind of order!!! Such a relief to my eyes! I showed up with my toolbox and a step-stool to get to those files waaaaay in the back. There are two filing cabinets with five drawers each, and they all looked the same way. NO MORE!

The next major project on these files will be to create identical labels for the hanging file tabs and the file folders. Seriously, it pains me to see the Before picture. But the After picture? That puts the wind in my sails! ⛵💨. 😀

By placing all the hanging file tabs in the same position, whether it’s left-justified, centered, or right-justified it will help you locate a file much faster. And don’t mess with those insert tabs! Just get a label maker and stick the labels right on the tabs. It just looks prettier too.

Got messy filing cabinets? I have a toolbox to fix that problem for you!

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Don’t Lose Sight of What’s Important

Sometimes, life has to slap you in the face to remind you of all the special people in your life. And sometimes, it will sting more than other times. This blog entry is a little more personal this month, but my message to business owners is still here in the article: Don't lose sight of what is important in life.

It slapped me last month during a quick stop at my parent's house on the way back to Kansas City. Within 15 minutes of my arrival at their home, my father suffered a TIA - a Trans Ischemic Attack.

Because of the pandemic, we were not allowed to visit him during his two-week stay in the hospital. It was painful to see and hear his confusion via Facetime or phone. But for an 86-year-old guy, he's doing wonderfully. We are grateful to have him back. He was a daily morning walker, read books voraciously, had an aptitude for language (speaks three fluently), and is a retired physician who had a grasp for mathematics. All those skills have helped him recuperate as my 80-year young mother learns a new routine and a new role. 

I have always held my family very near to my heart, regardless of distance. And I am not shy about telling any of them I love them. However, when life gets busy with the business of finally doing business again, it's easy to get lost in the chaos. So for the last month, I have been splitting my time between Des Moines and Kansas City. Three to four nights in Des Moines, and 3-4 nights in Kansas City. Because I am self-employed and can to do some work remotely, I am fortunate to spend this time with my parents. 

I know we can't predict what life is going to hand us, but we can do something about creating time for what's essential in life. Make the time to spend time with the important people in your life. You won't regret it. I sure don't.

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Selling Online - Stuff You Need to Know

When I started my business as a personal assistant/concierge, one of the services I offered was online sales management. I liked the possibility of adding this service to the organizing jobs I would take. My first organizing job included online sales management, and it was a success for the client and myself. She was downsizing and selling furniture. It was perfect; we were both happy with the results.

A few months ago, I was asked to sell a woman's wardrobe. The clothes were beautiful and in great shape. If I were taller, some of those pieces would have ended up in my closet. But they had to go. I offered the collection for $800; however, it was well worth $2,000. I posted on FB Marketplace and CL, and I never received an inquiry. Someone suggested Poshmark. So I posted on Postmark, and that was a flop. My sister asked me to sell two brand new wedding dresses for her daughter and daughter-in-law. That also was a flop.

I stopped offering this service because I got annoyed with buyers. I would go out of my way to meet a potential buyer, and they never showed up and then wouldn't answer my calls or texts. And when people would ask me to accept a lower price and I would say no, they would ghost me. Or, I would answer all their questions, and then I heard nothing but crickets. In the end, I was wasting time because the time spent was not worth the hassle. I received two inquiries on the wedding dresses that were both scams (thanks for the power of Googling).

So, I came across this article today and thought I would share it with anyone who wants to try their hand at selling their things or someone else's belonging. Just be aware that scammers are everywhere. I nearly got taken on a wedding dress I was trying to sell on Poshmark. And speaking about Poshmark, you will get a LOT OF MAIL and requests to join other user's sales. If you're going to offer this as a service to someone else, price your services appropriately.

So here is the link. Please proceed with caution, and let me know how you make out! :-)

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Hello, Meet Trello

Since adding Virtual Assistant services to my list of Personal Concierge services, I have come across some useful apps for my day-to-day tasks. However, the most useful app has been @Trello.

Used primarily as my project management tool, I found it useful for personal tasks and to-dos. I create boards for all of my clients and add them as team members so they can:

  • log in and add (or remove) tasks, documents, or milestone dates to their company board.
  • see how much time I have spent on their projects (they have a great feature that allows you to add additional features to each board, called power-ups. Chronos is one of them).
  • add, remove, or modify calendar events (events will appear on every calendar I link it to).
  • store documents, photos, and so much more.

The screenshot below is just a snippet of the boards I have active at the moment. Some are 1440 related, some are personal, some are courses I'm taking online, and some are boards for my client's projects.

I could go on and on about Trello, but I think you should check it out for yourself. Here is a code to try it out for free. If you're a small business owner, I highly recommend it! You can thank me later.

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