Though you may have started the year with a clean business slate, there are likely a few important aspects that have slipped through the cracks or been put on the back burner throughout the year. Now is the time to make sure you take care of any loose ends to avoid unnecessary charges or lost business in 2013.

Make sure your website is up-to-date. Many online businesses can make changes on the fly. There is a chance you eliminated or added a few service offerings this year. Maybe your rates or contact information have changed. Pencil in an hour to review your website and make any necessary changes.

The same goes for marketing materials. If you changed URLs or social media profiles at some point in 2012, now is a good time to order updated business cards and other offline marketing materials. Not only will you look more professional if you are no longer handwriting updates on your business card, but you can also land some great deals on printed business supplies this time of year.

Review your subscriptions. As a business owner, you are likely subscribed to several services. You may receive industry magazines, belong to a professional group or pay monthly for an online service. Take a look at what you are actually using and getting something out of. Cancel any subscriptions that are no longer needed.

File any legal documents relating to business entity changes. If your business was inactive this year, file Articles of Dissolution or a Certificate of Termination before years’ end to avoid incurring more fees. If you changed your business address or name, Articles of Amendment should be filed with your state.

Make sure any special licenses or insurance are up-to-date and accurate. Discuss the specifics of your home business with your insurance agent to ensure no special riders are necessary for your unique situation.

Get your paperwork in order. Once we round the corner into the New Year, tax time will approach quickly. Now is the time to start making sure everything is ready to go.

Call your accountant. Before the last week in December, get on the phone to discuss your business financials. This will give you a few days to make any last minute business purchases to reduce your tax liability. You can also start setting aside money to pay your estimated taxes if you haven’t been paying quarterly.

None of these year-end tasks is overwhelming or takes much time. An hour here and there can save you a big headache down the road.

What assignments are on your list to complete before January?

Angie Nelson has been an online business owner since 2007. Today she balances several successful online ventures and still manages to share her passion for home business with others on her blogs The Work at Home Wife and The Best Direct Sales Companies.

 

Our top picks for organization and keeping it all together

Cell phones are almost a symbol of the modern challenges of balancing work and home—in so many movies, it’s the cell phone that needs to be thrown out the window so the protagonist can get his or her priorities straight—but with the right apps, your smartphone can actually help you navigate this tricky problem. Here are a few of the top organization and time-management apps to help you be more efficient at work, and more present at home.

1. Evernote (Android, iOS)

This app is a great way to keep track of ideas, insights, and to-dos from both your personal and professional life. What makes this app better than a simple notepad is the ability to save photos, audio, and video to correspond with the text of your notes. You can organize your notes by category, so that you don’t have to rifle through notes from your dream journal when you’re looking for the auto mechanic’s phone number. It’s a great app for handling grocery lists, or snapping photos of business cards and other scraps of paper that might otherwise clutter your wallet or purse. (Cost: free)

2. Cozi Family Calendar (Android, iOS)

Like Woody Allen said, 90% of life is just showing up; and Cozi Family Calendar is a good way to make sure everyone in the family does. The app maintains a calendar, synced in real time, between every phone in the family, so that there’s no miscommunication about doctor appointments, soccer practice, or what the family needs from the store. It’s also a great tool to keep parents on the same page, so the kids have the same rules and responsibilities, whether Mom or Dad is home. (Cost: free)

3. Epicurious (Android, iOS)

Bringing the family together for mealtimes is important, and it’s much nicer if you have something home cooked and delicious to bring to the table. Epicurious is a great recipe app that breaks down grocery shopping and cooking step-by-step so that you and your spouse can work together to make something great, even if only one of you (or neither of you) is a particularly accomplished cook. You can find meals organized by diet, season, occasion, and other categories, so you always prepare just the right thing. The app was originally intended for the iPhone, so errors such as the app failing to update to seasonal changes have been reported on some Android devices. We can confirm those errors fixed for Samsung cell phones, as well as HTC phones. (Cost: free)

4. Chore Hero (iOS)

When you have to divide your time between work and family, the last thing you want to do is spend that valuable time fighting over chores. If you or your kids balk at the idea of a “sticker chart”, Chore Hero is another option to help organize family chores. You can use Chore Hero to assign a point value to different things that need to be done around the house (maybe cleaning the bathroom merits a few more points than sweeping the kitchen, for instance), and kids can cash in those points for little incentives like picking the movie for family night, or getting to stay up later. You can also use it to designate which family member has which weekly and daily chores, so that everyone contributes. It’s a flexible system, so it can be helpful for lots of different parenting strategies. (Cost: $2.99)

Julia Peterson is a writer for AndGeeks.com, a popular website that provides up-to-date news, detailed commentary, and unbiased reviews on cell phones and related topics. Julia resides in Galveston, Texas in a cozy little house in the country with her husband, young son, and their Labrador retriever, Darby.

Merry Christmas from all of us at

 

The Top 10 Things to Remember

  • Public Relations is a critical marketing tool that can be utilized for free. Do not underestimate the power of editorial content when exploring advertising options. Oftentimes, articles, news stories and blog posts can be much more effective at driving attendance and sales.
  • Traditional journalists and bloggers operate differently. News reporters have more stringent deadlines and are often more formal than bloggers. On the other hand, bloggers are more casual and often cover more of a niche audience.
  •  The term blogger is loosely defined. All media outlets now have blogs, some people blog professionally, and some blogs are written by the mom down the street. The amount of educational training rarely determines a bloggers success.
  • News reporters do not accept payment for publishing editorial content. Bloggers do. It is common practice for bloggers to publish sponsored, advertorial posts simply because of payment.
  • Press releases and pitches can both be effective methods to get coverage for your event. Releases are more formal, formatted in a certain way, one page long and contain specific elements. Pitches on the other hand, are more conversational and shorter. Pitches can be done over the phone or via e-mail.
  •  Journalists and bloggers alike will be more gracious and likely to respond to your requests if you’re good at giving them what they want. It’s better to provide too much than not enough. Make sure they have every link, photo, keyword and resource that they might need to write the content desired.
  • Concentrate on what sets you apart. Journalists and bloggers do not want the same cookie-cutter story week after week. Show them why you are unique; show them why you are different. Be creative and consistently work to incorporate new ideas into your events and your pitches and press releases.
  • Research the publications you’re targeting and be sure that you’re approaching the right people. Lifestyle reporters, business writers, community calendar organizers all may be great contacts. However, at different publications things may vary. Pay attention to who writes what and when.
  • Timing is always important. Be sure to solicit coverage in a timely manner before an event and be sure to follow up on the initial contact whether or not you’ve gotten a response. If you receive coverage, be sure to also follow up with a thank you shortly after the event.
  •  Always be aware of the necessity of relationship building. The goal is to build rapport with the bloggers and journalists. When you have an existing relationship it is much easier to approach them for favors in the future. And, when they feel like you are a reliable source they are more likely to cover your events.

Good luck!

Are you a couponer? Are you always looking for the best bargain, the greatest deal or the deepest discount? Couponing has become very popular in recent months. Shoppers everywhere are asking where they they can get the best deals and save the most money.

The last few weeks typical household coupons have moved over while sites have been promoting holiday deals. Where are you finding your deals? Here are a few of our favorites!

Coupon Cabin::Coupon Cabin offers great deals and printable coupons for major retailers. They offer a terrific newsletter and a section for freebies, holidays and more!

Coupon Audit:: Need online coupon codes? Coupon Audit is the place to go! They have a wide variety of deals for a wide variety of online retailers!

Passionate Penny Pincher:: This site is great and very interactive on Facebook! You can find deals for almost anything!

Have fun saving!

Touchstone Crystal is helping mom entrepreneurs affected by Hurricane Sandy and you can to! Simply host a party and funds will go to women trying to rebound their business!

 

After more than 15 years in the design industry, Zabrina Ogulana no longer felt her job was the right fit. In 2009, Ogulana’s dream of owning her own business became a reality when Goodie Tins was created. Goodie Tins offers an alternative to basic, boring gift baskets. Each beautiful tin is designed by Ogulana and filled with gifts. Goodie Tins are perfect for baby showers, weddings, birthday celebrations and any other special occasion.

Ogulana, co-founder of Goodie Tins with long-time best friend Melissa Livingston, is the epitome of a “mompreneur”. Not only does she manage all creative aspects of Goodie Tin, she also runs her own design firm and raises three children ages 18, 13 and seven months old.

Balancing family and business is Ogulana’s toughest challenge. She must help her oldest child pick out college classes while picking out the right car seat for her youngest and almost everything in between. What’s her secret to success? Organization. “I plan out my week meticulously right down to the meals I will be making each day. I strive to make sure that the uncertainty of being an entrepreneur doesn’t spill over into my family life.”

Ogulana wants to reassure other aspiring entrepreneurs that owning a business and taking care of a family is hard but also very rewarding. She advises others to not be afraid to ask for help from family and friends. Ogulana is happy with the decisions she has made while running her business. “I feel such a sense of accomplishment as Goodie Tins reaches each milestone. I am filled with excitement about where we will go as a company.”

Ogulana and her partner have had success with Search Marketing. “Our business is an occasion based business. It’s not really a product people buy for themselves so they have to be in that gifting mindset to purchase. Google lets us target that consumer.”

Interested in Goodie Tins? Check out the fun, decorative and creative gift tins online now. You can even create your own!

Want updates from Goodie Tins daily? Follow them on Twitter (and like them on Facebook.

 

I was recently contacted by Springfield Dolls and asked to do a product review. The 18″ dolls are an affordable alternative to some of the more expensive dolls on the market. When Emma arrived at our house, I was immediately impressed.

The dolls are cute, have beautiful long hair, move, etc. She is high-quality and by all appearances made very well. I love the fact that she coordinates with some things we already have and we can use her outfits on other dolls and vice versa. There is a huge selection of clothes and accessories available as well.

Springfield offers five different dolls to choose from and each has a different look. The varying hair and eye colors and skin tones make it easier to choose a doll that your daughter would love best.

On the Springfield website you can ‘meet the girls’ and browse all of the wonderful outfits and accessories they have to offer. They are all inspired by today’s latest fashions and trends.

Through next Monday you can get free shipping on all orders over $50 at Springfield Dolls and get them in time for Christmas! And, you can get 20% off Abby’s favorite things with coupon code Abby20. Enjoy!

Here are some quick facts about Springfield:
  • Dolls are $21.99.
  • There are 5 Springfield dolls, each with their own look and story.
  • Springfield’s clothes, accessories & furniture fit American Girl dolls!
  • Outfits start at $8.99 vs $30+.
  • Springfield Dolls are sold in most major craft stores (Michael’s, JoAnn Fabrics, etc.)

*I was provided with free product in order to write this review, however all opinions are my own.

 

Amber Davis

My house, business and life are stressing me out! The endless piles of laundry, filing, kid’s school papers and overall life in general are piling up around me! I claim to be an organized person but looking around my office clearly I am NOT!

And so it begins! New Year’s weight loss resolutions, efforts to be healthy, promises to be a better person and try harder! Finally, the endless opportunities to GET ORGANIZED in the New Year!!

Many of us work to help support the family. Trying to get everything done seems impossible! Studies show a dirty, disorganized house can cause health issues from bacteria and mold! Endless clutter can also cause injuries and the stress of a messy home can really weigh on you.

It’s time to bring calm, order and control to your life! Not just pinning it on Pinterest but actually doing it!!

Let’s get started together!

  • 20 minutes of housework can help you mentally and physically! Pick a spot and get started! Your spirits will be lifted and stress level will lower!
  • Find a ‘weird’ spot and clean one daily….you know the top of the fridge, front of the washing machine, top of the cabinets, vents in the bathrooms! You get the idea!d
  • Make a plan that works for your family!
  • Ask for help from your family! They live there too!
  •  

Need help? I am offering a FREE consultation! E-mail me a picture of your problem area and let me offer solutions ideas!

Blessings to you in the New Year and good luck!

Amber Davis is a 17 year direct sales associate with The Lonagberger Co. and currently director for at Thirty One Gifts.  Holding a degree in business administration and marketing, she previously worked in the business industry. After the birth of her second child; family took priority over work and she left her full time position. Now a mother of four, she believes firmly in direct Sales and the endless opportunity it provides! “I can’t imagine ever returning to a traditional 9-5 job,” she said. She firmly believes in doing what works for your family. She helps her husband on the family farm and writes her own blog: Adventures in Farm Life. This, she said, is a work in progress and mostly serves to share family photos. In her free time she loves to travel and enjoys volunteering.

Mindee Doney at JUICEBOX IDEAS

Time, Time, Time….time to eat, time to wash, time to get dressed, time to go, time to play, time to change.  It’s all about time when you are a Mom and usually never the kind you get all to yourself.  While science has not yet figured out how to put time in a bottle, there actually are some products that can bring Moms a bit of stress relief and save a few precious minutes of relentless kid chaos. 

The minutes add up fast when most Moms are “working 91.5 hours a week, the equivalent of 2 Full Time Jobs.” Yikes! Since I’m a Mom-inventor myself (Boogie Wipes™) I wanted to find some products that were also invented by parents.  It wasn’t too hard. Let’s face it; none of us really had any idea how much work it would be to take care of our little gremlins.  Almost everything parent invented is going to be a time saver in some way.  Just like me, these parents needed some help with day to day tasks and took matters into their own hands.  

Before I release this epic little list on you, here is a gift giving tip; if you want to give one of these to a Mom or Dad, please consider giving a compassionate message with it.  Something like “I noticed how tough bath time is and thought this might make it easier and more fun for us.” or “Honey, you do so much for us, I thought this could save you a few headaches.”   Moms in particular will eat up this kind of empathetic gifting, especially during this busy time of year.  A gift like this with a comment of appreciation earns you some serious brownie points. The double fudge frosting kind.    

BATHTIME HELPERS  

KAIR BATH VISOR

Invented by Dad of 2, Mark Shao from Portland, Oregon.
Best for Kids Age 6 MO – 6YO

Bath time should be full of giggles galore. Naked belly blows and toe tickles. Unfortunately, when it comes time to wash their hair, kids usually start a radical rebellion of some sort.  They hate soap in their eyes and water in their ears. There are a few other shampoo visors on the market but this is the only one I have seen so far that’s hands free and actually seems to stay put on kid’s heads.  I use it on my 4YO in the bath and my 6YO uses it to wash her own hair in the shower.  I, personally, use it for golfing in the rain. Saves time and frustration on all occasions. www.kair.com.  Free shipping (and returns if you’re unhappy with it) until the end of the year. $25

MAMA TACO TOWEL

Invented by Mom of 5, Dea Viola from New Jersey 
Best for Kids Age Newborn – 18 MO

Newborn bath time really is a two or three person job. Don’t drop them, don’t break them, don’t get the umbilical cord wet, and don’t get soap in their eyes. Hold up their necks and wash between their toes. Have the towel ready, throw it over your chest, lean back and hold on for dear life while they scream about how cold they are. Ugh.  I wish I would have had one of these towels. You put it on before you start the bath, it wraps comfy around your neck and folds up tight with a warm snuggly spot for baby’s head. You lay them down and tug and it comes off your neck but baby stays wrapped up tight. Makes the process much easier for parent and babe. www.thebabyflamingoco.com, $50

MEALTIME HELPERS

TODAY I ATE A RAINBOW:

Invented by Mom Kia Robertson from Kelowna, British Columbia
Best for Kids Age 3YO-12YO

I was skeptical at first. These days a lots of products claim they can get kids to eat their vegetables. This program takes a little different approach and breaks foods into the five color groups that kids need to eat to thrive. They just happen to make a cute, happy rainbow.  It definitely reduced the “eat your veggies” nag time in my house.  My 10 YO took some convincing that Mountain Dew was not on the “green” list but was happy to see raisins on the “purple” list.  www.todayiatearainbow.com  Comes with a chart for the fridge for up to 4people (I use it too) plus a book and list of foods.  $20

THE BA

Invented by Tildy’s Dad, Travis Hendricks, Portland, OR
Best for Kids Age 4MO-2YO

Bottles are made for grown-up hands, this little innovation is made for babies hands. It’s an FDA approved, BPA free, silicone ball that fits over your child’s bottle so they can hold it …wait for it…by themselves!  If that’s not a time save, not sure what is?  It holds all brands and sizes of bottles and I Iove that a rock star Dad (literally) invented it. Doubles as a teether and ball, dishwasher safe and comes in three kid friendly colors. The BA’s the Bomb. $15, check their website for store locator – www.theoriginalbaby.com

BABY DIPPER BOWL

Invented by Mom of 4 (2 Sets of Twin), Barbara Schantz from Huntsville, Alabama
Best for Kids Age 6 Months – 3YO

Out of this world!  Bowl stays put, kid-friendly spoon glides in to grad the grub. Way easy for kids to feed themselves. Less mess, less fuss, less mealtime stress.  Easy to clean and works with everything from yogurt to broccoli. Nuff said. www.babydipper.com $10/set

PLAYTIME HELPERS

GRAPPLE TOY TETHER

Invented by Mom of 2, Amy Oh from Lake Oswego, Oregon.
Best for Kids Age 6 Months -3YO

It tethers toys to the table, high chair, stroller or any flat surface! Genius. The top can hold cheerios and finger food and it’s BPA free, made from food grade silicone and super easy to clean. I cannot even begin to tell you the hours this saves. I get a backache just thinking about how many times I did the up and down dance with my kids. I put one in the bathtub too and my kids love to see what they can get it to hold. My daughter loops it to her Barbie’s legs so they can do gymnastics with it on.  Good times.  www.boingyco.com  $18.

DAPPER SNAPPERS

Invented by Mom of 2, Michelle Cazella from Port Orange, FL
Best for Kids Age 6 Months -10YO

Pull up your pants and the smiles will follow. These are time savers in two ways. Less pulling and fidgeting all day long AND can use them to make pants grow with your kids. Less time shopping for the perfect fit. We actually use these for everything from strapping  a lunchbox to a backpack to making a sling shot out of them. I even use them on my pants to from time to time. What Mom couldn’t use little elasticity in her day every now and then? www.dappersnappers.com $10 each or 3/$25.

DAPPLE TOY, SURFACE & PACIFIER WIPES

Invented by Moms of 6, Tamar Rosenthal and Dana Rubenstein from New York, NY
Best for Kids newborn-3YO

Depending on how many kids you have and how long you have been a Mom, you may or may not consider these a time saver.  When I was new mom, nothing was clean enough for me and when baby dropped toys or pacifiers, up I went to clean and disinfectant it before returning it to them.  The more “experienced” I became, the more relaxed I was about it but I think having these in the beginning could have saved my kids a few colds along the way.  Handy for travel, eco-friendly ingredients and these smart Mamas also make dishwashing detergent and spray cleaners in super yummy scents and sizes.  www.dapplebaby.com  for locations near you (lots). $4 for 20 wipes.

BEDTIME HELPERS

ZAZOO CLOCK

Invented by Mom of 3, Michele Berman from Chicago, IL
Best for kids ages 2YO-7YO

#1 complaint from new parents and even seasoned ones….Kids are not great sleepers.  If they are under 18 months, they are still finding their rhythm of day and night and even if you put them to sleep in their own bed, once they can walk they are still up crawling in next to you at 5 a.m. This nifty little clock is so simple to understand; even a 2YO can see when it’s time for quiet and sleep and when it’s time to get up and rock your day. www.zazookids.com = $90 (Spendy, yes, I know but what’s the going rate for sleep these days?)

TWOOTH TIMER

Invented by Mom of 3, Antoinette de Janasz  from Dallas, TX
Best for kids ages 3YO-10YO

Brushing is not usually kid’s favorite of the bedtime activities.  This helps minimize the whine (maybe helping you need less wine of your own).  Kids get excited to set it, watch and listen to it tick tock while they are scrubbing.  Mom or Dad is freed up from monitoring and worrying about the “Dr. Recommended” 2 minutes of brush time. It comes with a cute animated book and brush You can find some deals and discounts on it at www.Target.com , $11 or visit www.twoothtimer.com  for more info and some other cool brushing products they make.

CHANGING TIME HELPERS

ICKY BABY DISPOSABLE CHANGING PADS

Invented by Mom of 3, Kate Somerset, from Laguna Beach, CA
Best for kids ages newborn – potty trained

Icky is the perfect name for any kids product, really. Since you never know when a diaper change could come calling, it’s nice to have these around to prevent needing to find a sanitary changing table. They are convenient, practical and even compostable which means they break down in months instead of the years.  Did I mention they are fantastically cute?  Go to www.icky.com for store locations and online deals. $6 for 8 and they come in girls and boys styles.  PS: They make disposable bibs and color-on-me table mats too. Same cuteness and eco love.

BOBEE DIAPERS & WIPES DISPENSER

Invented by Mom of 2 Boys, Stacy Harfert, from Arvada, CA
Best for kids ages newborn – potty trained

The moment you put babies on their back its time to kick and grab everything in sight making more mess, more fuss and less productivity. The Bobee is cool because it mounts on the wall so it frees up space on the changing table, plus, since it’s anchored, you can use it with one hand!  Waa-La! It’s like the third hand all parents dream of.  You can customize it to match the nursery and it fits high quantities of ALL sizes and brands of diapers and wipes. It’s on sale at amazon.com right now for a cool $40. Check their website www.bobeeinc.com to learn more.

Mindee Doney: Author, Inventor (Boogie Wipes®), Idea Consultant.Tired of chasing her kids runny noses, Mindee herself ran with an idea she had for a saline infused nose wipe she called a Boogie Wipe ®. In 2007, she partnered with Julie Pickens and by 2011 grew her concept, to $12 million in sales, with distribution to 50,000 retail locations in 8 countries.  She managed all PR, marketing and branding herself and landed Boogie Wipes® on the Today Show, The Big Idea with Donny Deutch, Good Morning America, in People Magazine, The NY Times and countless others.  She is the author of Get your Own Juicebox – Confident Moms raising Capable Kids (May, 2012) and consults an exclusive group of start-ups through her company Juice Box Consulting.