Making Words Work

by Tracey Lawton, Online Business Development Strategist

One of the many requests I get from business owners is asking me for my advice on how they can work productively when they’re not in their office, i.e. work remotely. With so many technology choices available today it becomes overwhelming knowing which one(s) are the most effective.

I have the traditional solo service professional office set up – I have a dedicated office space in my home with a desktop PC and wireless all-in-one printer.  But there are times when I don’t want to, or can’t be, in my office and still need to be able to work.  Lately I have been doing a lot of travelling in my business but still want to stay connected to my clients and business.  And sometimes I just need a change of scene, especially when the weather is starting to get so nice it’s lovely to be able to sit outdoors and work off my laptop.

So today I’d like to share with you my top five remote working tools that allow me to get out of my office but still have access to all my “stuff” as though I’m sat in my office.

1.  Gmail – I’m a die-hard Outlook fan and really don’t like the Gmail setup; however for when I can’t be in my office but still need access to my emails and calendar, Gmail is a great way for me to access that information.  When I go away I forward all my emails on to my Gmail account; and I have found this neat tool that syncs my Outlook calendar with my Gmail calendar so that I always have up-to-date access to my schedule.  And I’m also able to access my Gmail email and calendar from my Droid smartphone too, which is another great way for me to stay connected and on top of my schedule.

2. Dropbox – in case you haven’t come across this yet, this is a great service for sharing files between say your desktop PC and your laptop without having to copy from your PC to a flashdrive, and then from the flashdrive to your laptop.  The Dropbox software adds an additional folder to your PC/laptop that you simply drop your files into and you can access from any PC that has the Dropbox software installed.  You can also log in to your account online and access your files from there too.

I also use this service with my clients so that they have access to all of their files too.

3. TeamViewer – I have my husband to thank for this neat piece of software!  This allows me to access my desktop PC from any other PC exactly as if I were sat at it. For example, if I decide I want to go and sit on the deck to work, I simply take my laptop with me and connect it to my desktop using TeamViewer – and I can access EVERYTHING as though I were sat at my desktop.

4. Skype – for years my ‘office’ number has been a SkypeIn number.  This means that I can forward this number on to my cell phone, or install Skype’s software on my laptop, and I’m able to make/receive calls exactly as if I were sat in my office.

5. MiFi – if you’re travelling and you’re in an area that doesn’t have Internet access a MiFi is a mobile wireless router, provided through your cell phone carrier, which allows you to connect to the Internet from anywhere that has a cell phone signal.

So, with all of these tools available to you to enable efficient and productive remote working, these days you can run your business from just about anywhere!

Online Business Development Strategist, Tracey Lawton, teaches online solo service professionals how to create the essential online marketing and office organization systems needed so that they can create a more streamlined, systemized, and automated online business. Check out for how-to articles, resources, tips, and tools, and sign up for your “Office Organization Success Toolkit”.



Do you ask for advice when you already know the answer?  We all do at times. Instead, we should focus on taking the first step in doing what we already know. One step in the right direction is better than having one more conversation about why we aren’t doing what we know to do.

Most of us have become people who value the knack of “fooling ourselves.” 

We believe our own excuses that we continue to tell ourselves about “why” we haven’t done many of the things we hold dear to our life.

We have all fooled ourselves into believing that we are missing another piece of essential information to make us more money, more time, more resources, more information, more support and the list goes on and on.  

Do we find it?  Generally NO.  We find a ton of information but not just the right piece…so, we continue searching.

We already know the information but have not moved into action.

What do you already know? What first step can you take today?

Stop fooling yourself!  The answers are within you.  Now take the steps to get into action!

 Positive thinking

Many books and articles you read tell you about the power of positive thinking.  You could fill a small town library with the self-help books whose subscribe to this simple idea.  The idea is also all the rage among research psychologists everywhere.

The world loves an optimist and optimism comes pretty naturally to most of us.  There is more than one way to think positively about your goal.  Let’s say that you have a goal of losing weight

               You could say to yourself:  “I have the ability to lose weight, and I am confident I can reach my goal.”  You could think positively about your chances of success.

               You could say to yourself: “I will easily be able to avoid temptations like doughnuts and potato chips, and have no problems sticking to my new exercise regimen.”  In other words, you could think positively about easily overcoming obstacles to success.

Both statements are positive.  Can you hear the difference in the statements?  No? 

One is focused on success – having the ability to lose weight and the confidence to reach your goal.  Is that enough to make it happen?  Maybe.

The other is positive and focused on overcoming obstacles.  It includes the thoughts (negative) of what the person will have to endure to reach their goal.  Is that important?

Absolutely!  If you are not clear that goal setting includes the knowing your will run into obstacles and what those obstacles are for you, you may never reach your intended goal. 

Yes, I am saying that the negative thinking has a place in you reaching your goal.  A bigger part than you may think.  You see having success is about having the self-belief that you will eventually succeed, but also the confidence that you will have a tough time getting there. 

Is believing the road will be rocky important to achieving your goal?  For starters, negative emotions like anxiety and worry are useful, although they are seen as negative.  Those negative thoughts can motivate us to take extra effort or to plan how we will deal with problems before they occur. 

Why?  In recent studies, the participants have proven people put in more effort if they feel the goal will be hard to achieve.  They take more action to achieve the goal.  In other areas of life like getting a job after college for instance, if a person feels that it will be easy to get a job after college, they send out fewer resumes.  If a person feels that the exam will be a piece of cake, they studied far less than others in the class. 

So, what is the best way to set goals so that you will reach them?  The optimal strategy to use when setting a goal seems to be to think positively about how it will be when you achieve your goal, while thinking realistically about what it will take to get there.  It is called mental contrasting –first you imagine attaining your goal, then you reflect on the obstacles that stand in your way.

Mental contrasting only helps you commit to achieving a goal if the goal is something you really believe you can achieve.    If you don’t believe you will achieve the goal, mental contrasting will help you abandon an unattainable daydream.  You may go through a grief period as it is not easy to give up your idea.

Considering both what you want and what stands in your way will give you the clarity to make good decisions.  When the chances for success are high, it will increase your commitment to your goal.  When your chances are not so good, it will help you recognize that fact and move on.

Here are the steps using Mental Contrasting

  1.  Write down a wish or concern you currently have.  Something like taking a vacation to the Caribbean or moving to Hollywood to become an actor, or losing ten pounds.
  2. Think about what a happy ending would look like for your wish.  Write down one positive aspect of this happy ending (for example: how great it would be to have a fabulous body to tan on the beach).
  3. Next, think about the obstacles that stand in your way… between you and the happy ending (for example: my love of sugar tends to stand in the way between me and the thinner me who lives in my weight-loss happy ending).
  4. List another positive aspect.
  5. List another obstacle.
  6. List another positive aspect.
  7. List another obstacle.

 Do you think your chances for success are better now?  From this information, should you pursue this goal?  You have data that will help you decide.  With this information you should have a better sense of your success rate and how committed you really are to that success.

Armed with this information, you are ready to be more successful in the attainment of your goals.

Share in the comments about your experience.  Have you used Mental Contrasting?  Has it worked for you?


Decisions, Decisions.  Is a Business blog really what you need for your business?

Deciding to write a blog sounds like fun, doesn’t it?  Almost every blog that writes about business says you need a blog for your company.  The reasons, according to the experts are:  You can target potential clients; A business blog can give you more online traffic;  It can help you create valuable person-to-person connection (please); or it can help you create a community.  Do these sound like valid reasons to you as an entrepreneur?

What your company will become

The business bloggers say, it makes your company more successful. They also say that if you don’t blog enough, you are losing customers.  What is enough?  According to the experts, you need to be blogging 3-5 times a week.

Time involved

If you decide to blog, know that the endeavor will take a chunk of time to write blog posts.  Ask anyone that does it.   The expressed opinion online has been that many of the well-known and followed people who blog find they run out of ideas, time, or motivation on the blog content at one time or another. 

How often

It is tough to come up with three blog posts a week and not run out of ideas or motivation within a 6-12 month timeframe.  Even the most creative minds have trouble coming up with that many ideas that quickly.

Most people start blogs and find that they can’t dedicate the time needed to post as often as the experts suggest.  A variety of people get hung up on the stats and if they don’t reach their intended goal soon enough, they quit.  Many of the popular blogs are outsourced to freelance writers or guest bloggers.  Virtual assistants do a fair share of blogging for companies also.

Your company may be different

As an entrepreneur, you need to stop listening to the “should” advice and listen to your own inner voice.  After all, you didn’t start your own business to listen to others, did you?  Do these business bloggers know you or your business?  No, they don’t.  It is good to listen to others that have gone before you but listening and doing something that completely go against your principles or goals is not really what your company is all about, is it? 

Focus your efforts

If you do decide to blog, focus your efforts on great content instead of how many times you post in a week or month.  Keep an eye on your stats but don’t get obsessed with them. 

You will easily see when you get indexed by the Google fairy and you are blessed with the ranking dust.  You will have more than a silent fart of traffic. 

Millions of blogs 

 There are millions of bloggers online.  One less for a few weeks or a few months won’t matter.  Your survival is much more important than your Google rating.  When you have taken the time you need to nurture yourself, you can decide to jump back in or let blogging be a thing of the past.    

Not always successful

Jon Morrow, Associate editor of Copyblogger admits that he stopped blogging completely four years ago and wrote a post about it.  Here is the link to his story:

It’s Your Business; You decide 

Remember, nothing is written in stone and having a plan B and C are helpful…but if you enjoy not having a plan that is perfectly okay too.  As an entrepreneur, you will be able to see if something is working or not working and adjust quickly.   If you decide to blog, know that your blog will change focus many times in the first year.  Your audience will change too.

Facebook Changes 

In recent months Facebook has implemented many changes.  These changes were not embraced by the users I interviewed, although most users are doing their best with the information and misinformation that has come from the experts of Facebook.  The gurus have been guilty of giving users information that is incomplete at best.  If you have made decisions based on these tidbits of information, my heart goes out to you but, if you are waiting for the dust to settle, I applaud you.  

MySpace issues

MySpace has had its share of issues with pages being extremely slow to load, pages not displaying correctly,  and downloaded music that wouldn’t load, all happening after a MySpace website overhaul.  It was reported that MySpace lost 10 million users in a month after the site overhaul when users felt enough was enough and the complaints were falling into the black hole of cyberspace.

FB issues with changes

Is Facebook headed in the same direction as MySpace?  Facebook has made many changes that have not been embraced by the users.  Prior to February 2011, users could post and comment on the walls of other pages.  Currently, there is no option for an administrator of a page to ban another page for spam-like behavior, which can be part of social behavior.  Facebook and users on Facebook have opened themselves up to a new game where the rules are unclear.

Private Information

Users on Facebook, including businesses, give their information freely; information that most users consider private.  Users on Facebook have perceived that there is security, when in fact, nearly all information can be seen by any user.  It is a matter of time before people realize all this information can be used for things that are not in their best interests

Information for sale -cheap

Places such as Spokeo and WhitePages  are now selling your information that has been gathered from social media sites like Facebook to anyone willing to pay $2.95 a month.  Things like:  pictures you have posted on Facebook, your credit score, home value, income, age, and even a picture of your home. 

The New Virus 

Here’s the thing.  Social media has been all the rage for a several years.  The new “virus” has become social networking.  While being social, it seems we have forgotten about the boundaries that need to exist in our network.  We share a lot of information on our profiles.

Looking legitimate

I remind you that anyone can put up a website in a matter of minutes,  make a Facebook page and get people to befriend them and set up an email address and look legitimate.  What has happened to  protecting our own information?  When did protecting your information become a social media site’s responsibility?

The Only Private Information

The bottom line is that if you don’t want this information public, keep it to yourself.  Yes, this is public information but once you see all your current information in one place it can and should  be concerning.  Knowing that almost anyone can afford $2.95/month for a ton of information on thousands of people is amazing, and not in a good way.

Freely given information 

Lots of people are more than a little overly protective of their email address when opting-in a website to get a newsletter or a free eBook.  Many people have confessed they MUST see the privacy statement before they will give their email address.  Yet, on social media sites, the same people freely give, not one, but many email addresses and phone numbers for themselves.   No one has to steal our information; we give it to them freely. 

Privacy on FB

Should we be concerned about privacy on Facebook?  Absolutely.  Remember, if you put the information out there, it can be compromised.   Most people are aware of security, but when something happens to your information, you are responsible, not a social media site.   Facebook is a company with 600 million users.  If you have a security issue, you can expect large corporation behavior.  Do you know the laws about a breach of information? 

Paranoid or Cautious

Should you be paranoid?  No.  But you should be cautious when it comes to your information. When your information gets compromised, your blissful nights come to an end very quickly.  When that happens, the finger-pointing begins quickly and the responsibility is slow to come to the surface.

 After Tax Season, I wanted to lighten it up a bit!  I need a laugh…hope you do to.

Entrepreneurs put in some “crazy” hours, don’t we?  Somehow, those 1440 beautiful moments we have in a day weren’t supposed to be like this.  Some days, we can’t even remember our own name.  The other morning, I went to make my coffee and I’m not kidding you…opened the refrigerator door expecting a hand to offer me my already made hot cup of coffee.  Ok, I was really tired but it was so real, I actually stood there and waited.  When nothing showed up, I finally shut the door and made my own.  I am sure you have had days that start off like that too. 

Having your own company is like having a newborn child.  There is never enough time to sleep.  Just like a newborn’s stomach is always hungry; entrepreneur’s brains are always thinking of something that has to be done.  We have to focus on: a new product launch; an article that needs a new slant, a tough client that took out their bad day on you (that one lingers way too long in our mind.)

If you are a write for a living, you understand how little time there is in a day.  Good writing takes time.  Blogs take time.  Quality takes time.  Communication takes time.  Social media takes time.  Information gathering takes time.  Research takes time.  Surveys take time.  Reading takes time.  Scheduling takes time.  Ok, you understand.  It is a time-consuming process.  A process we writers generally enjoy… as crazy as that sounds.  It is our contribution to the world, whether the world is ready for it or not.

Writers need an audience.  It doesn’t have to be large, although that is nice, we just need one person every once in a while that appreciates what we write.  We are not ego maniacs; quite the opposite, in fact.  We work for morsels of compliments and continue to write even when we receive none.  We forge through writers block…eventually.  We are like small children with abusive parents (except the abuse can come from our audience) throwing out a compliment now and then…We are insecure and shy, trying to write for an audience that may or may not be there tomorrow, awaiting for that  glimmer of “niceness” to come our way.

There must be some form of masochism in our core.

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