I came out of the womb reading a book, which was quite uncomfortable for my poor mother. But her loss is your gain, because I kick total <BLEEP> at word-related jobs.
Why should I be copyediting/proofreading your stuff? Because I am a Grammar Nazi. I have created long-lasting friendships based on little more than good punctuation. I get warm and tingly when a guy can put a good pun in my oven…
So anyway, I am excited about words. YOUR words. Whether you write Art History textbooks or warnings for shampoo bottles, I can’t wait to get my eyes on your words. I will hunt down the typos. I will hook up the fragments. I will whip the passive tenses into shape. I will make those verb disagreements go to marriage counseling. I will smooth them and sooth them. I will hug them and pet them and call them George. I want your catalogues, your blog posts, your memoirs, and your mystery-romance-sci-fi-self help short story based on the life of animated frogs.
Basically, if you write it, I will…um…right.
Follow my blog to see how I can take your writing from Goodwill to Givenchy.
I just found out I am tax-deductible!
Yup! Amounts paid to me for services related to your home-based business are eligible for a deduction on your business taxes. Check it out with your accountant if you don’t believe me.
Excuse #5 – I can do it myself, so it would be lazy/wrong/stupid/weak to give it to someone else.
Which of these things is true about asking for help?
- It’s incredibly hard.
- It’s an admission of weakness.
- It means I’m too dumb to figure this out by myself.
- It means I’m too lazy to take care of my responsibilities.
- None of the above – HINT: This is the right answer.
I could go on for days about all the hang-ups we have about asking for help. Focus on this: You have a responsibility to your clients to them to give the best you’ve got. Gathering resources to make your best even better is not dumb, lazy, or weak. It’s business-savvy.
Another story (I know you love these): When I was a waitress, I knew how to do just about any job in the building. I could be a hostess, bus tables, bartend, and even took a turn or two in the kitchen. So I could do every single thing needed to get food on the table. But if I’m in the kitchen, I’m not available to refill drinks. If I’m clearing empty tables, something is probably burning on the grill. If I’m seating people, there’s no one to take the food out while it’s still hot.
So sure, I can do everything, but do my customers want me to? It’s likely they don’t give a rat’s patootie who does what, as long as they get hot food, full beverages, clean tables and fast, friendly service. Teamwork is still the way to go.
Don’t do it all yourself, just because you can. Asking for help is as easy as sending an email, and I’m standing by to take your order.
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I want to take a break from my tremendously exciting and informative ‘What’s Your Excuse’ series to talk about something I hold dear. This is something every business owner, employee, coach, and motor vehicle manufacturer knows they must provide. That, my friends, is dependability. You do what you say you’re going to do.
Some things in life simply aren’t dependable. Machines break down, the electricity goes out every time it rains, and my damn dog…let’s just say maybe diapers aren’t such a bad idea. But the biggest disappointments are when people let me down – when people, especially business people, don’t do what they say they are going to do. Am I right?
When others are undependable, right or wrong, I take it personally. I think they don’t care. I think they think I am unimportant. I think I don’t matter to them and neither does my business. Do people make mistakes? Sure. Are there accidents and emergencies? Of course, but if unreliability becomes the only thing your customers can count on, you’d better look for a different career.
Listen up! I care. You are important. You matter and so does your work. When I say I will do something, It Will Happen. If you say you will do something, I will help you Make It Happen.
You can depend on me.
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Excuse No. 4 – It wouldn’t take me that long to get this done if I just got off my butt.
You know why it’s taking so long? Because it’s not your thing! Remember my story about my laundry? I will do all kinds of silly things to put off laundry day. I wash individual items in the bathtub. I buy new socks and underwear at the Dollar Store. I use beach towels for pillow cases. I. Am. Not. Kidding. Would it be faster, easier, cheaper, and less weird to just wash the damn laundry? Of course! But I hate it!
In the time I spend putting off my clothes hamper, I could be reading, sleeping, watching The Big Bang Theory, or even better – working *for money* doing something I like to do! I could be earning money instead of wasting it.
Are you wasting your customers’ time and money by dawdling over despised chores? If that one thing wasn’t in the way, would you just cruise on down the productivity path? What part of your job is keeping you in the spin cycle? Send it to the cleaners and get on with rockin’ your thing!
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Excuse #3 – I can’t just do the fun parts – bad with the good, that’s just the way life is.
Who says? What makes them right? Do you trust yourself more than them? You know when you’re on the right path. You just don’t know you know…yet. Try the following exercise, stolen directly from the fabulous Life Coach, Sarah Wagner Yost.
Choose one part of your job you love and one part you hate. Me – I love proofreading (don’t judge) and hate going to live networking events.
How do you feel when you think about doing the part you love? I feel like a dog on point – focused, clear of purpose, confident of aim. I feel like this is what I’m made to do, because I am!
Now, how do you feel when you think about the thing you hate (dislike, avoid, whatever)? I feel jangly, tense, confused. I start thinking I don’t know how to do this, what do I wear, what do I say, I should have gotten my teeth whitened.
When I’m doing what I’m made to do, I’m a better worker. I work harder, smarter, and faster. I get stuff D-O-N-E. When I’m out of my zone…not so much.
You can get more done, have more time, make more money, and have more fun if you focus on what you’re made to do.
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Excuse No. 2 – I’m embarrassed/shy/scared of someone else seeing my stuff.
I, personally, hate doing laundry. At a Laundromat, I can easily get 5 loads done in about an hour and a half. Can I do it? Yes. Would I pay $30-$45 to have someone else do it? Yes! Why don’t I? Because I’m embarrassed to have someone else see my underwear, and if they aren’t doing ALL the wash then why bother? Seriously?
Do you really think you’re the only one who’s filing system looks like a bomb went off in the middle drawer? Do you have any idea how many people are using the same address book they’ve had since they were 23? I’m over 40, have pre-teen nieces, date men, and do side work at a dinner theater (all the stories about actors are true), do you know how hard it is to shock me?
True story: One of my assignments for the theater was to create a quick, cheap way for actors to get gigantic butts. Ten second or less, in the dark, four people need to go from thin and shapely to having huge, joke-sized butts. The costume budget is already maxed…GO!
Your lack of organization and general weirdness is not going to scare me. In fact, it excites me. I LIKE this stuff! If I didn’t I wouldn’t do it for a living. And if you did like it you wouldn’t be reading this.
Plus, chances are you are working on something meant for eventual public consumption. Before you send that book to a publisher or present that PowerPoint to your colleagues, wouldn’t it be nice to have a pair of professional, impartial eyes look at it?
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Excuse #1: I can’t afford it.
This is the most-used excuse, so let’s just get it out of the way.
I know it sounds like a lot of money. A quality VA – someone dependable, with skills, motivation and discretion – will charge accordingly. But remember, this isn’t a long term gig. You aren’t hiring an employee, VA’s are generally independent contractors. How many hours do you think your job will take? It’s a good bet most of your tasks can be accomplished in 1-2 hours. Ask yourself these questions the next time “that” task is in front of you:
- What could I be doing instead of this?
- How long have I been putting this off?
- Am I any good at this?
- How much would I pay to make this just disappear?
And before you boil everything down to money, remember that time is one of your most valuable assets. Ask your son, your husband, your dog or your garden: How much is an hour of your time worth?
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What’s the most fun part of your job, your day, your life? What’s in the way of you doing that right now?
I know a woman who sells kitchenware. She loves it. Ok, she loves parts of it. She loves talking to people, helping them identify their needs and choose products that make their lives easier, prettier, yummier, more fun. But a lot has to happen before my friend is sitting in her client’s kitchen. There are emails and business cards, postcards and flyers, invitations, RSVP’s, labels to type, envelopes to lick (yuck!), and all kinds of papery ickiness to sort through.
Does your fun come with baggage like that? What if you could change the claim ticket on that suitcase of, well, crap, and send it to someone else? Someone careful, competent, and trustworthy, who thinks your box of paperwork is a Prada bag filled with Ferraro chocolates?
I don’t know why (dropped on my head as a child, maybe?), but that’s MY fun. I like sorting, labeling, organizing, mailing. I love the challenge of sorting mountains of email and treasure hunting through first drafts for typos.
So throw a little fun my way. Don’t you have something better you could be doing?