Caring for your Equipment in the Cold

Steph & Eric_DC_023 Steph & Eric_DC_024 Steph & Eric_DC_025 Steph & Eric_DC_030 Steph & Eric_DC_031 Steph & Eric_DC_033Currently I have been sequestered to my room. I have a box of tissues, a quart of oj and have digested almost an entire season of Grey’s Anatomy. Tis the season for colds and with the change in weather also comes a change in how you should handle your camera equipment in cold conditions.

Keep Your Batteries Close If you are going to be outside for a long period of time between shoots or if you are in below freezing temperatures be sure to keep your camera batteries close to your body by placing them in an interior pocket. This will keep them from losing their charge.

Treat Your Camera Like a Baby You would not leave your baby in a car overnight but I have seen countless people put their camera or other technologies in the car overnight. Think of your camera as a living thing that is sensitive to extreme temperatures. If you leave it in the cold your battery will no doubt be dead but in extreme temperatures your screen could also crack as well.

Changing Lenses If it is snowing, avoid changing your lenses outdoors. The moisture could get inside of your lens or camera body. You also want to be careful changing your lenses indoors where it is warm when coming in from the extreme cold. I tend to leave my camera and lenses in their bag put them in the coldest part of the house until they regulate again.

Fogging Up Fog could occur on your lens if you take your camera from a warm house or car into the cold. And moisture could develop when you take it back into a warm place from the cold. To avoid this, you may wish to put the camera and lens in a sealed ziplock bag until the equipment has regulated to the new environment.

What to Wear Depending on the conditions, I would wear hiking boots with wool socks and layer, layer, layer. Try to avoid bulky coats and scarves that could catch on your equipment. Instead, tuck your scarf into your jacket or sweater and employ the use of fingerless gloves.

I will be on holiday for the next three weeks so I will look forward to writing to you all again in the new year.

 

You can reach me at:

 

(202) 681-9848

[email protected]

http://www.shotinthedarkphoto.com/

 

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Shot In The Dark’s owner and principal photographer is Meghan Stewart. Her photos have been published in Food and Wine, Northern Virginia Magazine, and Travel + Leisure.

Meghan’s love for photography developed from shooting in the metro Detroit area where she grew up, and through documenting her travels, including a year she spent living in a Ghanaian village.

A mother and former cheesemonger, Meghan founded Shot In The Dark in 2012.

Meghan says:

“My love for photography comes from meeting people where they are. Not just physical location, but using photos to capture people in their element, as naturally as possible. For me, taking photos is about that connection. I love seeing their joy when they see their photos for the first time.”

We love to travel so if you’re not in DC, VA or MD just ask and we would love to meet you wherever you are.

Managing Email Overload! [webinar]

Managing Email Overload

Are you overwhelmed by the amount of email messages you receive? Do you have an overflowing email inbox? Are you losing potential business because it takes too long for you to respond to email messages? You are not alone!

In our next Beyond Google – Marketing and Managing on the Web Webinar Series, Virginia SBDC brought Ray Sidney-Smith, President and Web Strategist at W3 Consulting (and productivity geek!), to show you how to manage email overload! Watch and learn how to quickly and effectively triage your email inbox, maintain a responsive strategy for business email and build an email culture that fosters productivity…so you can get back to your business and not just “busy-ness!”

You will learn:

  • how to get your inbox to empty on a regular basis;
  • how to manage email responses that are important/urgent and important/not-urgent; and,
  • how to develop an email culture around your business that respects good email culture.

Small Business Evangelist. Web & Digital Technology Strategist. Business Management Consultant. Presenter | Speaker | Trainer. Evernote Certified Consultant. Google Small Business Advisor, Productivity. Productivity, Technology & GTD Enthusiast, Coach & Podcaster.

Small Business Webinar: Small Business Telecommuting

With all the technology available to businesses today, it’s easy to overlook the opportunities that bring efficiency and effectiveness to our day-to-day lives for ourselves but also our employees and contractors. One of those opportunities is telecommuting, the ability to remotely work from anywhere in the world. Many people associate telecommuting as working in your pajamas in bed or from a beach in San Juan! Remote working is so much more and we, as business owners, need to understand the positives and negatives that come from giving this great benefit and responsibility to our employees and contractors. In this Web seminar, Ray Sidney-Smith of W3 Consulting takes a Small Business through an overview of planning, implementation, review and maintenance of a telecommuting program for your organization.

What we will discuss in this Webinar:

  • Why telecommuting works? And, when it doesn’t? And, why Marissa Mayer of Yahoo! pulled the plug on their telecommuting program?
  • What does your telecommuting / remote working program need for it be effective?
  • What tools can help you make telecommuting manageable and, perhaps even, fun?

Small Business Evangelist. Web & Digital Technology Strategist. Business Management Consultant. Presenter | Speaker | Trainer. Evernote Certified Consultant. Google Small Business Advisor, Productivity. Productivity, Technology & GTD Enthusiast, Coach & Podcaster.

My big secret…

my big productivity secret small businessMy Big Secret is…

Whenever I go away from my office for an extended time (such as vacation or illness), I come back two to several days earlier than when I let everyone know I’m back to work.

Okay, there; I said it. What a relief?! Now, why would I tell you that? Because there’s something about being productivity as a Small Business owner that evades many and being productive makes my heart sing. And, I want you to have that feeling too. If you get back a few days earlier than everyone thinks you’re back, you have time to stabilize your home life and then triage your work projects before the onslaught of communication and so forth swings into action when you are publicly back to work.

One the many great benefits of doing this over the years is that my time away from the office is purposeful no matter if it’s vacation or illness. If it’s vacation, I can spend it with the people I care about that I’m with, knowing that I will return to work with the time needed to get caught up and back on track. No need to do those things while I’m on vacation. Further, if I am on vacation and the urge compels me to do something, it’s usually in a creative capacity and I can capture the ideas and know that I will have a time and place to map out a realistic, strategic goal when I get back from my time away.

Why not just tell everyone that you’re back a few days early?

If I did that, the staff (including my colleagues and clients) would start to anticipate and that’s the death knell of the strategy. Keeping employees and independent contractors on their toes–not to be sneaking up on them, mind you, as I trust the people I work with and so should you–is about not allowing you nor them to settle into well-worn business paths that start disable passionate effort. There are many other ways to “keep honest people honest”; financial fail-safes and team-building activities. I do not return to work usually by going into the office so it’s not a matter of looking over anyone’s shoulder. I’m trying to get my work life in order, not theirs! We can all argue over the finer points of this, but you don’t have that kind of time. You’re an active (as I don’t like the word “busy”) entrepreneur! However, I believe that when people become too used to norm, they become complacent and you are their leader; they need you to keep the passion burning and your ability to prepare, triage and excite them are all inherent in this strategy.

Why not prepare before for your departure?

Actually, I do in a way. I am always preparing for the inevitable time when I may be from the office expectedly or otherwise. And, I recommend that you do so as well. There is a rate of diminishing productivity return on investment when you cram. Hopefully you learned the lack of value of this tactic in secondary or undergraduate education. Also, my staff and colleagues and clients are already well-poised to deal with my absence. Why? Because I have trained them to stand in my stead in different capacities along the way. You can do the same thing and watch the stress melt away. It’s usually your “feeling” that I might be letting them down that would makes you want to do more than is reasonable before you leave. Resist the urge, plan and implement everyday continuity plans for your business operations.

Sometimes I don’t know I’m going to be away for an extended period and so I treat everything as my esteemed colleague, Lou Kastelic of Jordan Crandus, would say about business. “Run your business as though you were going to leave it tomorrow,” he once told an audience of young entrepreneurs (with myself in the crowd). Be it by sale, by dissolution, or death. You’ll quickly see that your business leaps to great heights of both efficiency and effectiveness when you run your business day as though it were your last…every day. This seems to stand true for my personal and work projects as well. If I work from the perspective that I only have now I will achieve more, notwithstanding the great hope and good certainty that I will live to work another day!

A couple of guidelines.

Yes, some people in your organization may need to know about your big secret. For example, my assistant knows when I’ll be back…for real. And, usually one family member knows my real travel itinerary in case of medical emergency and/or safety concerns. At the very least, someone who can take action to save your life in such an unfortunate circumstance needs to know. Additionally, prepare for what you are going to tackle when you get back. Is it your email that always has you crazed? Plan to come back and tackle your email by sifting through it for however long you determine you need to read, reply (in draft without hitting “Send” until people know you have returned) and digesting and planning the action steps from the email messages that require your movement on projects or tasks. Or, perhaps you need to catch up on your blogging while you have been away from the office or store? Well, plan chunks of your time when you get back to focus on writing, editing and scheduling to publish those forthcoming nuggets of insight and wisdom for your target audience. Finally, make the amount of time match the amount of time you need to get your personal and work life back in order. If you need three days, then don’t come back to the office for three days. If you need only one day, make it one day. If you standardize it to always two days, then your mind will start to tolerate the buffer and it will become ineffective.

If we are living life to the fullest, and living our dreams as entrepreneurs, we must face a few realities with poise and excitement. By buffering days to catch up without typical interruptions, you can come back with ease and stability. Have you tried this technique? Has it worked? Do you have unique challenges you would like clarification on to carry out this strategy in your business? Comment and I’ll be happy to discuss!

Small Business Evangelist. Web & Digital Technology Strategist. Business Management Consultant. Presenter | Speaker | Trainer. Evernote Certified Consultant. Google Small Business Advisor, Productivity. Productivity, Technology & GTD Enthusiast, Coach & Podcaster.

Small Business Webinar: Creation, Collaboration, Sharing and Storage in the Cloud

Beyond Google – Marketing and Managing on the Web Webinar Series

Creation, Collaboration, Sharing and Storage in the Cloud

Cloud storage: a confused but evolving market
Cloud storage: a confused but evolving market (Photo credit: joe.ross)

Thursday, December 12, 2013 12:15 PM – 1:15 PM EDT

The Internet has created so many benefits for Small Business…from leveling the Web marketing playing field to offering countless free software for business productivity. But one of the strongest tools to be developed yet was the idea of “Cloud” storage and its collaborative abilities.

What is the Cloud? In practical terms to Small Business, the Cloud allows you to create, co-edit, share and store almost anything on the Web, so that you and your team can access it from anywhere you have Internet access. In this Webinar, Ray Sidney-Smith, Web & Mobile Strategist and President of W3 Consulting, will take us through the in’s and out’s of using Cloud storage and their major features. We will cover the basics, but also discuss some of the more intermediate concepts in Cloud solutions.

What we will discuss in this Webinar:

  • What is the “Cloud?”
  • How is the Cloud beneficial to Small Business?
  • Overview of some tools to create, collaborate, share and store documents with your team from anywhere in the world connected to the Internet.
  • Guidelines for effectively using Cloud storage and collaboration tools.

Who should attend:

  • Small business owners, professionals, solopreneurs, micropreneurs and entrepreneurs
  • Office managers
  • Marketing Directors and Sales Executives
  • Executive assistants, administrative assistants and secretaries

Register

For more information please contact Tracy Nayar at [email protected]

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Small Business Evangelist. Web & Digital Technology Strategist. Business Management Consultant. Presenter | Speaker | Trainer. Evernote Certified Consultant. Google Small Business Advisor, Productivity. Productivity, Technology & GTD Enthusiast, Coach & Podcaster.

Delegate to Consolidate in Your Small Business

Time Management
Time Management (Photo credit: Intersection Consulting)

In business management, delegation is a critical element in productivity. Many entrepreneurs have such a strong desire to succeed; we want to complete all tasks on own to avoid feeling a lack of control and to ensure things are getting done “our way”. (Side note: Our way is not always the “right” way). There are two things I think of when defining leadership. The first thought is someone who initiates and second, identifies someone who has people around them in the same setting with less superior roles. In order to be a leader, there must be someone else to lead. In business and many other platforms, a leader creates the rules, laws or assignments for others to follow or carry out.

When delegation is done properly it will save you time, develops your team and prepares a successor. After all, most of us are entrepreneurs because we want financial freedom and most of all FREEDOM. So, the sure way to obtain that is to train someone to be a productive member of the business. In order for a leader to be effective, delegation is key. You are only one person. You can’t do EVERYTHING. Maybe in the beginning when things are just getting started you can use time management to take care of almost everything but as your business grows, it is important to divide task and allow others to assist.

A strong business structure depends on weight or tasks to be evenly distributed. If there are too many items assigned to one person, it may cause that person to be less efficient and therefore the results of their performance may be less than acceptable. The main purpose of delegating tasks is to consolidate. You want your business to be more coherent as a whole, stronger and more solid. As a business owner, some things cannot be delegated to other people. Delegating task isn’t an excuse for you to be lazy, it allows you as a leader to have more time to focus on your responsibilities on the “To Do” list.

It is important to recognize that in the beginning we may not have the funds to hire full time support and there are many ways to still get the help you need. Depending on your field, you may be able to hire an intern. Many students need real business experience to put on their resume upon graduating from college. Without it, getting a job after graduation will seem almost unattainable. If you have the time to train someone, an intern would be a great choice. Eventually, the intern will be an asset to you and by giving them a job you are an asset to them as well. If you do not have the time to train, you can still hire an expert to assist without spending a lot of money. Hire a virtual assistant. Virtual assistants are usually experts in certain niches and in many cases have promotions to give you a discount on services. One virtual assistant company who specializes in many areas of business is KQ Associates, visit .

Now you have just multiplied yourself and successfully divided tasks to consolidate your business. Although there are a few people involved now, it is still one unit working to accomplish the same end result.

Lydia D. Washington, CEO

KQ Associates  – Your professional source for trusted administrative support that keeps you safe and moving forward.

Touch It Once Then Act on It

Let’s talk about going green.  Yes, going green.  There are many ways you can keep a green office.  But there is more to having a green office than saving the environment.   The most common commodity we all work with is paper….. to me, a close second  is my time.  If I can save a tree or two and save myself time so that I can take a guilt-free lunch, then I want to do it.   One side benefit is that I make my office more efficient.  I’ll save some of my tricks for another time, but let’s start off with one thing I do to save time!  I have to admit that I’m partial to this one.

Be Smart – touch it once….  Be Smart – be efficient and thrifty….. touch it Once

Be disciplined.  When you open your mail or paper is handed to you, categorize it immediately.  If it is trash, toss it or recycle it; if it needs to go to someone else for action, address it and put in your outbox; if it needs to be filed, put it in your filing box.  If action can wait, create a tickler file.  If it is urgent, put it in your action folder.  Touch it once then Act on it!

How many times have you looked for an important piece of mail that you are sure you received but for the life of you can’t find!  Is it in this pile or in that pile.  Is it – OH NO!, did I throw it out with the trash?  There is a dance we have all done in our office, it’s called the “paper shuffle.”  Sound familiar?  Where is it; what did I do with it?  You’ve got to touch it once then act on it!  I live in a highrise condo.  Every day, I see my neighbors open their mail boxes and before they head for the elevator, they go through their mail and toss in the bin all the junk!  They don’t even bother taking it upstairs where it will eventually be added to their desk clutter.  They touched it once, they acted on it!  Be disciplined!  That is what it takes.  If you truly can’t go through your mail at that moment, keep it in your inbox so that it doesn’t get mixed with other things.

I have some other ideas for going green that benefits both you and the environment.  These include using “quiet time,” efficient filing systems, electronic filing (my new favorite), and the list goes on.  Remember…. Be Smart – touch it Once!

 —

Sue McLaughlin is the founder and principal of McLaughlin Bookkeeping Services, LLC and MBS Bookkeeping Seminars. Her mission is to offer small-business clients a fair price for bookkeeping services while delivering excellent customer service.

Sue McLaughlin is the founder and principal of McLaughlin Bookkeeping Services, LLC and MBS Bookkeeping Seminars. Her mission is to offer small-business clients a fair price for bookkeeping services while delivering excellent customer service.

Google to Great Webinars: Google Sites

Using Google to Be Found, Part 1 – Google Sites from Ray Sidney-Smith on Vimeo.

In our first Webinar, we present Google Sites, the Internet giant’s tool to help your Small Business quickly and easy draft, edit and publish a Web site in minutes!

Google describes its product as:

With Google Sites, you can easily create and update your own site. Google Sites allows you display a variety of information in one place—including videos, slideshows, calendars, presentations, attachments, and text—and share it for viewing or editing with a small group, an entire organization, or the world. You always control who has access to your site.

We go over you would use Google Sites to plan and implement a new site, how to modify the look and feel, how to navigate the basic and some intermediate features of the product. During the Webinar, we allotted ample Q&A time with our favorite “Google-ologist,” Ray Sidney-Smith, and had some great questions!

Do you have a question after watching the video? Ask it in the comments below, or tweet @w3consulting and include the hashtag #googletogreat in your tweet. We’ll post a video response to your question!