June 2012

Disclosure: If I'm not making money through affiliate links on the post you're currently reading, it's an oversight on my part and will be corrected soon.

Yesterday, Dun and Bradstreet Credibility Insights published their list of the Top 50 Most Influential Small Business People on Twitter.

I was thrilled to come in at #16 and be included with such incredible people, many of which I know personally.

Top 50 Small Business Influencers on Twitter

While I still don't thoroughly understand the underlying methodology in determining online influence and have commented on these types of “top lists” before, it's always nice to be recognized for hard work.

Congratulations to all of the Small Business Influencers!

This post originally appeared on itsaWAHMthing.com, where I regularly contribute articles about affiliate marketing, productivity and technology tips for small businesses and work at home moms.

As a work at home mom, your earnings most likely go toward making ends meet and providing extra necessities for your family. Although you may skimp, save, and sacrifice in most areas of your life, studies have shown that being a little selfish as a new WAHM can actually pay off in the long run.Find a penny, pick it up.

With small children running around, it's especially important for WAHMs to facilitate a productive work environment to properly balance both of your responsibilities.

If you're a WAHM who's constantly cutting corners, consider leaving a little extra room in your budget for the following items:

Large Computer Monitors

When it comes to your computer choice, bigger is better. At least, that's what researchers at the University of Utah have concluded with a study measuring the performance of a pool of individuals using three different sized computer monitors [18-inch, 24-inch and (2) 20-inch.].

The study analyzed how quickly the subjects were able to perform tasks such as editing a document and copying numbers between spreadsheets. The results revealed that individuals using the 24-inch screen completed their tasks 52% faster than individuals working on 18-inch monitors. Individuals working on the two 20-inch monitors completed tasks 44% faster than those working on 18-inch screens.

I personally prefer using two 24-inch screens myself and I’ve been happy with my LG 24” Flat-Panel and my Dell 24” Flat Panel monitors.

Comfortable ergonomic chairs

Investing in a comfortable, ergonomic chair is more of an investment in your health than anything else, which naturally affects your performance at work. Using average chairs can result in carpel tunnel syndrome, cumulative trauma disorders, a variety of back problems, and various motion injuries. Not to mention, an uncomfortable chair can lead to lost productivity time trying to work out the kinks and stretch your legs.

Avoid getting too comfy on the couch and invest in a comfortable ergonomic chair instead.

I’m using an Office Star Ergonomic Chair that I picked up at Best Buy. I like it because it forces me to sit up straight, which is perfect for a sloucher like me.

High Quality Speaker Phones (for those of you that hate headsets like I do!)

As a new WAHM, you likely spend a good deal of time on the phone with partners, co-workers and clients. Modern technology gives you the advantage of not having to strain to hear with a screaming child in the background or collect keywords through the static, which is why it is certainly worth investing in a high quality speaker phone. This can dramatically improve communication within your business while increasing productivity as well.

As I tend to make a lot of calls using Skype and Google Chat, I opted for the Plantronics MCD100-M USB Speakerphone. The sound is so clear that it allowed me to get rid of that annoying headset that I hated wearing. It was truly plug and play and both Skype and Google Chat picked it up easily. It’s also full duplex, which means that voices can overlap and you can still hear each other. And, when I do need to have a private conversation, I just plug in my headphone into the jack.

Hosting Companies

Although there may be some good free hosting services out there, you run a greater risk of these companies not providing the best up-time or closing up suddenly and losing all of your content. This can be a major setback for any work-at-home mom that could easily be avoided with a relatively small fee required by reliable hosting companies.

Two of the hosting companies that I use and recommend are 1and1.com (which is offering up to 6 months free), and LiquidWeb.com.

Bookkeeping Software

If you immediately thought “Well, I've already got Excel,” I'm talking to you.

Excel sheets will only get you so far, and investing in proper bookkeeping software can save you a lot of time organizing, searching for, and processing information.

Organization is a key element to running a successful business from home, and it can be increasingly difficult as a busy WAHM. Bookkeeping software can help you stay organized to increase productivity and avoid losing valuable information.

I started using Quicken Home & Business earlier this year after Microsoft Money was discontinued. Although initially not thrilled about having to make the change, I now love it. It lets me easily organize all of my business and personal finances in one area, categorizes all of my expenses and income and provides many detailed reports that help me keep my business and home on track.

Legal Services

A lawsuit, or the prospect of a lawsuit, can dramatically set your business back and even rock its very foundation. Whether it's understanding tax obligations or just receiving advice on complicated legal matters surrounding your business, hiring a lawyer is an invaluable component of your home-based business.

Since the expense of a good lawyer may be a bit out of many WAHM price ranges, it may be necessary to acquire DIY forms available at Nolo.com and other similar companies to reduce your company's risk.

Are there any other things WAHM’s should not skimp on?

We are pleased to announce that we are holding the Affiliate Marketers Give Back Silent Auction again, starting the week of July 8th, 2012 on AffiliateMarketersGiveBack.com.

As of today, we have have raised more than half of our team goal of $80,000 for this year’s Affiliate Marketers Give Back, Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, and are working really hard to raise the other half!

As such, we are asking individuals and companies to please help by considering a donation of an item or service for the silent auction.

Donated items will be listed on the website along with information on the donor and a link back to their website. Winners will be announced after the auction ends and will also receive a link back to their website.

How You Can Donate an Item

Team Affiliate Marketers Give Back has never missed hitting the team goal, and we don’t want to start now. So please help us out by donating an item to the silent auction. It’s a great way to get your name and services out in front of the masses and a great way to help raise money to fight breast cancer.

Please use this form to donate your item. Donations will be accepted through Saturday, June 30th, 2012.