Friday, May 31, 2013

Small Business Spotlight - D'zynes by Sandy!

This week’s “Small Business Spotlight” shines on Sandy Collier and her business, D’zynes by Sandy!

D’zynes by Sandy is a Wedding Planning and Decorating business located in Vesuvius, Virginia.  Sandy started the original D’zynes by Sandy about ten years ago when she lived in Florida.

Sandy has always loved flowers and crafting.  According to Sandy, “if it’s a craft....I’m In!!”.  Even before starting her business, Sandy would hold craft nights at her home for anyone wanting to join in.

Then, in 1991, Sandy took a photography class at a local community college.  Sandy found that she had both a passion and talent for taking pictures.

Bridal Show
"I made everything except the tables and linens and the clipped roses on the tables"

By this point, Sandy had coordinated several birthdays, anniversaries, showers, and simple weddings.  However, she had still not considered making this a career.

The death of her sister in 2002 changed everything.

Knowing Sandy loved crafting and, in order to get her mind off the tragedy, her neighbor’s daughter asked Sandy for her help in planning her parent’s 50th Anniversary.

Sandy didn’t really feel up to it, but she loved her neighbors and decided to help.  Sandy also knew that it was a way to occupy herself and was thankful for the distraction.

Handmade Flower Girl Cones and Ring Bearer Boxes

The big day went off without a hitch.  A guest, who happened to be a retired florist, even approached Sandy wanting to know where she learned everything she did for the party.  When Sandy answered that she had taught herself, the response was “you should do it professionally”!

That night, the neighbor’s daughter who had sought Sandy’s help, her son, and his fiance asked Sandy to do their wedding!  D’zynes by Sandy had begun!

Sandy approaches her business with the “3 D’z” - Dedication, Diligence, and Detail.

Sandy loves being able to help busy brides with their planning and decorating.  Her goal is to help them save time and money by coordinating as much or as little of their big day as they desire.

"I design the fountain to coordinate with the wedding, including the color of water."

D’zynes by Sandy really specializes in creating the vision that every bride or client has for their perfect party.

For those that are too busy, or simply don’t know where to start, D’zynes by Sandy is there for you from the beginning to the end.  With Sandy’s skills, she can offer the best of both worlds, planning and decorating.  D’zynes by Sandy is truly a “one-stop shop”!

D’zynes by Sandy will work hard to not only meet, but exceed, your dreams.  Sandy is very detail oriented and believes every piece of the puzzle, no matter how small, is important.

Tossing Fabric Roses -  "These are filled with candy for a bridal show, but usually filled w/ bird seed for tossing at couple".

"A bride wanted some Bling.  Buckles can be expensive, so I made these!"

Sandy offers many different services to help make your day special, all while staying within your budget.  Sandy can help you choose a venue, book vendors, plan the ceremony, schedule rehearsals....anything you need to make the day run smoothly.

In addition to her planning services, D’zynes by Sandy offers Decorating packages that can be used alone or added to any of her planning packages.  Sandy can add something as simple as favors, floral arrangements, or full-service decorating.

Simply put, for Sandy, your day is “Our Business”!

To learn more about what D’zynes by Sandy has to offer, please visit her website and Facebook page through the links below: 



Read more articles in the “Small Business Spotlight” series in my blog (visit or subscribe here).  You can also check out more about Small Business at  Thanks! 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Memorial Day Observation: In Thanks and Remembrance!

In honor of this Memorial Day, I once again Give Thanks......

There can never be enough said for the sacrifice the men and women who serve in our military, and their families, have made for us.  Each of them put their own lives on hold to fight for things we all believe in:

  • Belief in our Country as a Place of Opportunity
  • Belief in our Children as Perpetuators of our Country’s Future
  • Belief in the Freedom to Pursue our Dreams and Goals
  • Belief in our Citizens as Innovators and Inventors

It is these beliefs that are the bedrock of our nation.  And I have faith that through these beliefs we can get through any obstacles that we face.


These words from Bill Clinton spring to mind:

“There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured with what is right in America.”

In this I have faith.

Small Business Honors Those Who Serve! "Tweet This"

I think that it is this outlook that drives many of our nation's small business owners.  We operate with the hope and expectation that things will get better, and we are willing to work hard to achieve this.

Small Business owners are resilient.  We will bounce back again and again in order to keep our dream alive.  We believe it is a legacy we leave to our children...and we are right.

It is in the spirit of Memorial Day that we, as Small Business owners, honor and respect what others have achieved before us and strive to continue the tradition.

So for this Memorial Day, and for many to come, I give my heartfelt thanks to all who have served our country.  They chose a hard path in order to allow us to live in a country of hope.....and it is in their sacrifice that I believe!
I conclude with these words from General George S. Patton:

It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.” 

Authored by   

For more articles like this and on Small Business, I invite you to visit my website here.  Be sure to visit my "About" and "Services" page to find out more about What I can Do to Help Your Small Business.  Thanks!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Did You Know You Don't Have to be a Company to Benefit from Using Background Checks?

Created by Kimberly Kline

Background Checks are not just for Companies.  There are definite, "real life" ways you can use them to help protect your home and family.  
Take a look......

I recently had lunch with a fellow small business owner.  She was intrigued by my business and wanted to know more about it.  As we talked, I happened to mention how I was trying to expand my clients to include individuals, not just companies.

Her reaction?  “I didn’t know people could hire background check companies!”  She had always thought that only other companies would use my services.

When I started to mention the various ways people would benefit, I could see that “light bulb” go off!

This got me thinking.  Most likely, many others believed the same thing.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  The reality is that Background Checks are a useful tool for anyone.

Background Checks are Not Just for Companies!  "Tweet This"

For one, Background Checks are a great way to protect your family.  They can be used to determine whether a nanny or other in-home caregiver has a criminal record.

Most families that hire caregivers through an agency assume that background checks are already part of the package.  I suggest you verify this, and even if the agency conducts screening, it is important that you find out how and what is checked.

If a database is used, make sure the results are verified directly through the courts.  Also question how far back the records go and if the courts in previous places of residence were also searched.

Find out more about the limitations of online databases in "Don't Be Fooled ~ Why You Need to Know What is Missing from Your Online Search"!

Any “red flag” on your part as to the agency’s procedures and it may be best for you to get your own background check done. Especially in the case of those caring for your children or an elderly parent ~ safety is key. 

Background Checks can also be used to vet contractors or repair companies you hire for home improvement.  In this case, it is wise to go beyond criminal records and check the company or contractor himself for any civil suits either filed against him or by him against former customers.

For more tips on how You can use background checks, check out , “The Top 6 People You Should Run a Background Check On

The bottom line here is that Background Checks are a great way to make sure the people you hire to work in or on your home are as safe as possible.

I also suggest that anyone looking for a new job or even seeking a promotion consider getting a background check done on themselves.

Many companies run at least some sort of background check during their hiring process.  The check will most likely look at past criminal behavior and may even include a “social media check” to see what may be posted online.

The more you know about what is “out there” about you, the more prepared you can be to explain or mitigate what the company may find.  A Background Check company can help.

I have outlined what a good personal background check should include here.

As you can see, Background Checks are not only important to companies.  They can be a helpful, and sometimes necessary, tool for you too!

Have you ever used a Background Check to screen anyone who has worked in your home?  Would you consider it?  
I would love to hear what you think ~ 
leave a comment below!

Authored by

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Services and About Me pages to find out 
how I can help!  Thanks!

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Small Business Spotlight - Siostra Artistry & Marketing!

Introducing Lara McKusky-Taylor, Kate McKusky and their business, Siostra Artistry & Marketing, in this week’s “Small Business Spotlight”!

Siostra Artistry & Marketing is owned and operated by two sisters, Lara McKusky-Taylor and Kate McKusky.  They specialize in “coaching your at-home business, small boutique business or side-job passion to the next level!”.

Just what does “Siostra” mean?  The word means “sister” in Polish and is pronounced “sew-stra”.  The McKusky sisters thought this was a fitting name to honor both their Polish heritage and to describe their company.  They also believe it illustrates perfectly their ability to work together as a team!

Lara and Kate were born 12 years apart, and they believe this “mixture of decades” provides their clients with “a youthful approach coupled with business acumen”.  This helps encourage a “what box?” approach to their business.

The sisters started Siostra when they were both underemployed and struggling!  Their central philosophy is “doing what we love”, and this has carried them from the beginning.

Lara and Kate also believe in the ability to be flexible.  Lara excels as a graphic designer and Kate is a professional writer, although Lara writes often as well.  Kate also minored in photography.  This unique mixture allows them to offer their clients a broad range of services.

Siostra can help you create your “brand” through the development of a Facebook page, Twitter page, and blog.  Each will be integrated in order to provide a consistent and professional extension of you and your company.

They can also design a new logo, labels, tags, and signs for both promotion and packaging.  Lara and Kate create them with the idea of making your company look polished and professional.

Siostra extends their services by being able to provide you with a polished bio and professional head shots.  They have even recently added Brand Coaching.  Siostra is truly an all-inclusive marketing company.      

Lara and Kate invite you to contact them at
with any questions.  Let them know what your business needs to expand your brand, and they can help!

You can learn more about Siostra Artistry & Marketing and what they can do for you by clicking on the following links:


And for more in the “Small Business Spotlight” series, be sure to check out my blog at  I can also help you with your small business.  Find out how by visiting my website (  Thanks!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Stop ~ Why It's Time for You to “Unplug”!

Small Business & Managing Stress

The Big Question ~ Are we able, or willing, to “unplug” from our jobs?

With the Holiday season fast approaching, we all need to find ways to handle the added demands on our time.  This is especially true of Small Business Owners!

All through the year, we so often find ourselves pulled in many different directions.  And the fact that we are solely responsible for the ultimate success of our company is never far from our minds.

But, during the holidays, it is especially important that we find a way to simply enjoy!

Much has been written and discussed about the need to “unplug” from technology.  There have been movements to shut off our televisions for a week, turn off our smart phones, or shut down our computers and tablets.  Each is touted as a way to decompress and de-stress from our everyday demands.

But that is only a small part of what keeps us busy and driven. Many of us are absorbed by our work.  We don’t recognize the concept of “9 to 5” or even a 5 day work week.

  This is the reason I think we need to expand the “unplug” movement to our jobs.

Why Small Business Owners Need to Unplug!  "Tweet This"!

Are You able to take a break from your work?  Is this something you can or want to do for a week, or even a weekend? Have you ever taken a “real vacation” from your job?

Many of us would answer “No”.  We either don’t want to or don’t think we can really disconnect from our work.  We will pay lip service to the notions that we need “downtime” but, in reality, we don’t think it is possible.

I think that is misguided and, potentially, unhealthy.  Let me state for the record, I am a small business owner.  It is me, and only me, that deals with my clients, does the billing, and runs every other aspect of my business.  When I am “off”, my company is in virtual “shutdown”.

Despite that, I have come to realize that I am no good to myself or others if I never get the chance to “unplug”.  One look at the infographic in this post by Geoffrey James in “Inc.”, and you can see the number of Business Owners who feel the same.  Many fear that if they take time to themselves their business will suffer.

Running Your Small Business

The bottom line is, You need to Take Back Your Life.  You are more than your business.  You have family, friends, and interests that need to be nurtured and appreciated.

In order to be your best self, you have to recognize that taking a break will allow you the time you need to regenerate and refresh.  

Even if it is only for a weekend, try these tips:

  • Take No Business Calls
  • Don’t Check Your Email or Social Media Accounts
  • Do Something You Enjoy - read a book, take a walk, etc.

The goal is to rejuvenate and relax.  Of course there are times that emergencies or a big project can interfere.  What is important is to make this the exception, not the rule.

For the past few weeks, I have made the concerted effort to follow this advice.  I have Taken Back my Weekends. 

Small Biz Stress Tips

To accomplish this, I have found a few ways that make it easier for me.  

I pre-schedule my weekend social media posts.  This way I can still keep up my social media presence without logging on. I also use Friday afternoon to update my calendar for the following week so I can jump right in on Monday morning.

I have found that with those things out of the way, I am able to really enjoy my weekends.  I can reconnect with my family and I have time to do some of the things that I love.

Taking a break has also given me more energy and focus, in both my personal life and my business. (Read more about this in, "Productivity ~ Sometimes the Best Way to Achieve this is to Scale Back"!)

Give it a try for yourself.  You may find that, when the “unplug” is over, you come back with a fresh perspective and new energy for your work.....and you can really look forward to your weekends again! 

Please Pay it Forward and Share!  Thanks!

I can Help You take more Stress out of Running Your Business with my Background Check Services. Contact Me Now for a free consultation!  Thanks!

Contact Me Now!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Small Business Spotlight - Sincerely Yours by Tracy!

This week my “Small Business Spotlight” is focused on Tracy Weslager and her company, Sincerely Yours by Tracy!

According to Tracy, she has “always had a passion for design, fashion, and staying in touch with friends and family”.  These interests came together in her business, the Sincerely Yours stationary company!

Founded in 2006, Sincerely Yours by Tracy is a specialty greeting card company.   They design customized, hand crafted cards perfect for your personal life and business.  Sincerely Yours by Tracy cards are truly unique.

Tracy’s focus is on “bringing back the hand written card into our crazy email, texting world”.  Her goal is to help you “WOW those important people in your life” by sending them a custom card!

Besides wonderful greeting cards, Sincerely Yours also sells unique Notecards,  personalized Notepads, and card tags.  There are many designs to choose from.

In addition, Sincerely Yours also offers a one-of-a-kind greeting card service called “Unforgettable Cards.”

When doing the initial testing of her products, Tracy had the opportunity to meet with some corporate professionals at a business event.  She found they all agreed on the importance of sending cards to family, friends, and their professional connections, but their hectic schedules often got in the way.

This is where Tracy’s service, “Unforgettable Cards” comes in!

"Unforgettable Cards" is a unique greeting card service that will keep track of your greeting card needs, all year long.  You provide them with some background information for each person on your list, and Sincerely Yours by Tracy will design a one-of-a-kind, high quality, greeting card for them. Tracy believes that is what makes this service so special.

Sincerely Yours will automatically send you each card prior to the event so you can include your own message.  Tracy even includes a stamped envelope for your convenience.  This way you will always have the perfect greeting card when you need it!
Sincerely Yours has also started a new GIVE BACK program in honor of our Military.  For every card you order from them, Sincerely Yours will send a card to an active member of our Armed Forces as a thanks for their service.  Each card will include your family or business name.  It is that simple!

Tracy invites you to visit the Sincerely Yours by Tracy website (  You can check out all her designs and find out more about the “Unforgettable Card” and “Give Back” programs!

You can also reach her on Twitter (@Sincerelyyours1) and on Facebook.

Keep up with the “Small Business Spotlight” Series in my blog and learn more about Small Business and Background Check news on my website,!  Thanks!

Monday, May 6, 2013

4 Reasons Why Small Businesses Need to Use Background Checks

#SmallBiz #BackgroundChecks

Many Small Business Owners think Background Checks are just for “the big boys”. 

Maybe it is because as a small business owner you mostly hire “people you know”, or you think that Background Checks are just “too expensive” for your Small Business.

Neither of these arguments are true.  Using Background Checks is actually a cost-effective and sound business strategy for any Small Business.

Here are 4 Reasons Why Background Checks and Small Business make Great Partners:

  • Small Businesses have a Limited Budget for Hiring and Training 
Most Small Businesses operate on a tight budget. Your resources are split among the many costs associated with running your businesses - payroll, insurance, utilities, and more.  

Wasting any of your funds on hiring and training the wrong candidate is bad business. Using a Background Check as part of the hiring process can help eliminate some of this waste.  

A good Background Check will help you in two basic ways.  It will save you money and time.  Advertising costs will be reduced by eliminating the need to re-post a position due to making an initial “bad hire”.  You will also save the time it takes to train what turns out to be an unqualified or unsafe candidate.

    #BackgroundChecks #Hiring

    • The More "Intimate Setting" of a Small Business Requires Safer Hires
    Many times, Small Businesses have their employees “wear many hats”.  Employees may have their hand in many different aspects of the business.  That puts them in contact with more co-workers and customers.  It also gives them access to company funds and possibly sensitive company information.  

      As a Small Business Owner, a Background Check will give you the tool you need to avoid a potential problem.  You will know whether your new hire has a history of violent or abusive behavior. It can also forewarn you of past incidents of embezzlement or other crimes that could jeopardize the stability of your company.

      • Background Checks Help Small Businesses Avoid Litigation.  
      Businesses are increasingly being sued due to the behavior and actions of their employees.  There have been news stories of how employees have stalked a co-worker or stolen from a customer’s home.  

      The fact is, 

      Your employees are an Extension & Representation of Your Small Business.  "Tweet This"

      You need to make sure that how they interact with your customers and their co-workers is as safe as possible.  Background Checks can give you a “heads-up” to past behaviors that may put your company at risk.

      • Small Businesses Rely Heavily on their Reputation  
      Your customers rely on your honesty and integrity, and will keep doing business with you because of it.  Having unsafe employees can ruin that reputation.  If your company is not taking the time to hire wisely, customers will notice.  If your reputation is ruined or tainted by the actions of your employees, it is hard to bounce back.   
      Small Businesses especially have to be vigilant in protecting the good reputation they have built.

      By using Background Checks, your Small Business can avoid many of these pitfalls.   Your Background Check company will work with you to develop the sound and cost-effective hiring program you need. (see my article on what to look for in a good Background Check company here).

      Being forewarned is being forearmed....a good position to be in for any Small Business!

      Authored by

      Now you know.....Background Checks and Small Business make great partners!  Find out for yourself and learn more about Background Checks and Small Business by visiting my website.  You will find out more About me and My Services!  

      Let's Connect!  Check out my Contact Page for links to all my social sites and email.  Thanks!

      Thursday, May 2, 2013

      Small Business Spotlight - Old Town Flowers

      This week the “Small Business Spotlight” shines on Dana and her company Old Town Flowers!

      Old Town Flowers is a family-owned, full service floral shop located in Allyn, WA in Mason county.  Old Town Flowers has been owned and operated by Dana and her mother, Linda, since 2007.

      According to Dana, she has “worked in the floral industry all her life”.  Her two children are even learning the trade today.  The family’s interest in flowers began when Dana’s grandmother opened the very first floral shop in Belfair (Naomie’s Flowers).  Her mother, Linda,  took over operations in 1998.

      While that shop did not last much longer, both Dana and Linda continued to freelance and remain in the “floral world”.  In 2007, when the owner of the shop Linda was working in wanted to retire and sell the business, Dana and Linda jumped at the opportunity.

      In 2009, with the economy down, they moved Old Town Flowers to their current location in the Allyn community.  They operate out of a quaint little house they turned into their flower shop.

      Old Town Flowers prides itself on being different.  They believe in providing the ultimate in customer service.  They also pay particular attention to detail - no matter how large or small the order!  Dana feels that their practice of valuing their customers really shows in their work and their service, helping to set them apart from typical chain stores.

      Old Town Flowers offers unique gifts, consignment plants, cards and a newly added garden center.  They also specialize in weddings and provide free consultations.  You can even sign up for one of their monthly floral classes!

      May 1st marked Old Town Flowers 6 year anniversary.  If you live anywhere near their shop, take the time to stop in and see their unique floral and gift items.  They can be found at E. 18640 Hwy 3 just as you come into Allyn in the “brown house on the highway”.  Their address is:

      Old Town Flowers
      E. 18640 state rt 3
      P.O. Box 1954
      Allyn, WA 98524

      Dana hopes you visit to see their original designs.  Old Town Flowers can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.  Thanks!

      Find more articles in this “Small Business Spotlight” series in my blog and online paper, Access Profiles - “Week in Review”.

      I also invite you to follow me on Twitter  and check out my website for more on Small Business.  I have information and tips that can Help You!