Articles related to starting and running a small business.

Pet Sitter Safety

Pet Sitter safety is a very important issue and should be at the forefront of a pet sitter’s plan. The nature of the business requires sitters to enter strangers’ homes. Steps should be taken to assure your safety and the safety of your employees.

First and foremost, listen to your gut instincts. When speaking to a potential client on the telephone, take care to pick up on cues that might send up red flags. If the caller seems strange, rude, or offensive in any way, it’s best to turn the person down. Also, if the person lives in an area that is considered unsafe, it may be best to turn them down or require visits ONLY during daylight hours.

silhouette photo of person holding door knob
Photo by George Becker on

When going on an initial visit/interview and you have any suspicions whatsoever, it’s a good idea to carry a cellphone, and maybe bring a friend or employee along. A cellphone should be with you at all times, whether on an interview or a regular visit.

Stay alert and aware during the initial interview. Be aware of your surroundings, and use common sense. If something doesn’t feel right, or if the person seems threatening or weird, make up an excuse to end the interview as soon as possible and leave.

Also important is to pay attention to the pets that you will be caring for. No matter how nice and likable the owner is, sitting for a very aggressive dog (or another animal that can cause major harm) may not be the best idea. If the animal has a history of aggressiveness, or the owner has problems controlling the animal, it may be best to suggest a kennel. If you feel a trial run is in order to make sure, schedule a “trial visit” when the owner is away from the house. If the animal is very aggressive without the owner present, it’s best to turn the client down. It’s impossible to care for an animal that won’t allow you to enter the house, and it does no one any good if you are bitten or mauled.

Make sure the owners let you know everyone who has a key to the house, and if anyone will be visiting the house while you are. There is nothing more frightening than walking into an “empty” house and coming face to face with a total stranger! When on visits, do a “walk-around” on the property and in the house. Notice any differences. Was the gate open on your last visit? Did you open a window? Was the light on before? If there are any signs of a break-in, DON’T ENTER THE HOUSE! Leave and call the police immediately, and have them check the house. If there was indeed a break-in, you should contact the homeowners immediately and let them know.

Remember that your safety is first and foremost, and never take any chances. React calmly and professionally, follow your instincts, and enjoy pet sitting!

Five Strategies to Organize Your Work Day

To Do List

Organizing your work day can seem daunting at first. But keeping an organized day will reduce stress and increase productivity. Here are five strategies you can do right now to keep your day running smoothly.

1. Make a To-Do List.  At the beginning of the day, make out a list of tasks you would like to get done. List the most important and time sensitive tasks at the top, in order of importance. Keeping the less important tasks, or tasks which can wait for another day, at the bottom will become less stressful if you find time running out near the end of the day. You can create your To-Do list on paper, a dry erase board, in a document or spreadsheet, or even write them individually on Post-It notes and create a physical task board. Online Task Boards, such as ClickUp or Trello are excellent organizing tools, as well.

2. Organize your workspace Clear your workspace and desk of all unnecessary items to help keep focus on the tasks at hand. Keep your current tasks on your computer or actual desktop, and file away or send out tasks as they are completed. Watching your task pile shrink throughout the day is very rewarding.

3.  Schedule and set goals As you are listing and organizing tasks, give yourself a time-table in which to complete these tasks. Minimize distractions so that you can concentrate on your current project and get everything you need completed within your scheduled times.

4. Take breaks As the saying goes “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. To bolster your creativity and to avoid burn out, take a break several times throughout the day. Get up and walk away from your desk, take a walk, grab some water, or just stretch. 

5. Delegate tasks Take advantage of help when you can get it. Delegate some tasks to others who are able to help, especially if the tasks are a team effort. Outsourcing regular tasks to a Virtual Assistant is a great way to organize your workload and will allow you more time to concentrate on bigger tasks which need your attention.

Blogging, Image Copyrights and You

This scene happens every day all over the internet. A blogger comes up with a great topic, writes their blog post, then hops on over to Google Images to find that perfect photo to add to the post.  But did you know that grabbing a random image off the internet can end up costing you big bucks if the image is copyrighted?  Google Images is a great way to find a certain photo or graphic, but the vast majority of these photos are owned by someone and not available for use by others.  At best you may get away with using the image and no one knowing. At worst, you can find yourself contacted by a lawyer informing you that you now owe their client upwards of a $1,000 for stealing a copyrighted image!

Using random images from the internet is not something to be taken lightly. Owners of the image can and will legally demand payment for use of those images. So what can you as a blogger do to make sure that you don’t end up as an “image thief?”

There are sites available where you can find just about any image you need, and allow you to use them within certain restrictions. Some websites are pay sites, which may charge you a monthly fee to download from their image archive, and some which charge by the image. Be sure to read the Terms, as some images may be a one time purchase, and some may have an expiration date on their length of use. If you have a limited image on your blog and it expires, don’t be surprised if you are contacted to pay to continue its use or be requested to remove the image.

There are also websites that host totally free images. Some have restrictions for personal use only, and some allow business use.  Some images may also require the user to link back to the website you downloaded it from, or may require you to state somewhere on your blog or site who owns the copyright to the image.

Always be sure to read the fine print and look over the Terms and Conditions of the websites where you find any images you plan to use. – One of the best and most popular of the stock image sites. Images are not free, but are affordable. Currently the site is offering a free 10 image, one month trial. Once the trial is up, it is only $29 for the year to get up to 10 images per month. (formerly stock.xchg) – Lots of great FREE stock photos available here.  *Please Note: when searching for a particular subject, make sure the photo you download is under the “Results for “XXXX” on” heading. Some of the results are Premium photos from and they are NOT free for use. – A great premium stock photo site with a very large collection of high quality photos.  Prices depend on quality and size. You can pay for your purchases individually or buy credits to use toward purchasing images. – Purchase stock photos, royalty free photos, videos, and music to use on your blog or site.

There are many other great sites on the web to find free images to use on your blog. But always remember to read ALL the fine print, the Terms for using any images, and follow the rules.

Article originally published on February 25, 2013.
Links and info updated for August 2, 2021.
Copyright © 2013, 2021 Lily Plasse / TygerLily.

All rights reserved.

Why Hire a Virtual Assistant?

A Virtual Assistant allows you to concentrate on the part of your business that is most needed, while other necessary tasks are taking care of as well. With a virtual assistant, the benefits include:

  • Get help when you need; a few times a week or a month, or even once in a while for special projects or very busy times of the year.
  • Know the tasks are being handled by someone who knows what needs to be done and how it is done.
  • No worry about dealing with taxes, benefits and hours that are necessary when hiring a full or part time employee. Virtual assistants are Independent Contractors, not employees, and are responsible for our own taxes.
  • Get help with the oftentimes confusing world of online presence and social media.

A Professional Assistant who works as an Independent Contractor instead of an Employee can save you time and money.

  • You can retain services just when you need help. Year end or busy times, just a few hours a week or month. The work can be done at the assistant’s home office or your office when needed.
  • Concentrate on the parts of your business you need or want, and have a knowledgeable assistant take care of the necessary office work, paperwork and computer work.
  • No worries about needing to deal with employee benefits, such as workers comp, taxes, insurance and vacations as you would with a full or part time employed assistant. An independent contractor is responsible for their own taxes and insurance.
  • Know that the person you are hiring is knowledgeable in their work and can get things done in a professional and timely manner, and keep your office organized and running smoothly.