I would love to say I am fresh out of school and at the start of a career, but that’s not the case at all. I have been in work since the mid-90s, I remember getting my first business support job, then getting another job in London (that’s my hometown) I remember finishing work and heading to the nearest wine bar and having a laugh with my work colleagues.
This is something I get asked often:
‘why would I use a VA and not hire an admin assistant?’
Firstly, there is no right or wrong here, it is what suits you and your business at that time and place, you may find having a VA at the start of your business suits you better, then as you grow and business becomes more fruitful you may find that you need to start employing staff to be in your office/shop, and that is fine too.
There are many stages of business, and there are solutions for every step of the way, so make sure you do your research. You will know roughly your budget and workload, so your options should be clearer to you.
So, let’s take a peep – Let’s get this straight, I am not saying one is better than the other, let’s just take a step back, 5yrs ago I was an employed member of staff, so I have been both, this is just a broad overview of VA vs Admin Assistant, I am not here to tell you one is better than another, there are pros to both as well as cons to both.
Hiring an admin assistant
Having someone based in your office is a plus, there is a huge advantage in having someone based in your office, that presence can be a plus for you and your clients but remember there is a price tag to having a member of staff in your office.
Some of those costs are can be a hindrance to your business:
- Sick pay
- National Insurance contributions
- Holiday pay
- Lost money when the member of staff may not have much work on
- Hiring fees (if using an agency)
But the plus side of hiring an office-based member of staff:
- Someone based in your office for specific times
- Hired personal has set jobs and works solely for your business
Hiring a Virtual Assistant
When you are just starting out or do not have the budget to hire a full-time member of staff, hiring a VA is a great way to get that support without breaking the bank balance. But by no means am I saying that a VA is only suitable for small/medium businesses or start-ups, as 2 of my biggest clients are larger businesses with 10+ employees so that just shows that you can have a VA working alongside your bank of employees.
So, here are some pros and cons to hiring a VA:
- You only pay for the time spent on a task
- You can pay hourly or most VAs will have monthly retainers
- No sick pay
- No holiday pay
- No equipment overheads
- No training costs
- Most VAs have a large network of support should there be a task or problem they need to work out
- Your VA will 9 times out of 10 be located offsite, so this may play a part in your decision
- Your VA will most definitely have more that one client, so offsets their time between their clients
Both work well
Depending on where you are at in your business journey will heavily depend on your choice, as I said earlier there is no right or wrong, having support with your business is key, and how you chose to do it is down to you and your plan.
Small business support
I know a lot of small business owners do prefer to support other small businesses, they like the relationship that you can build with your VA, and that they know they are also supporting another growing business.
For me, I have clients that have an hour a month and I have clients that have 10hrs a month, I also have project-based clients as well as ad-hoc clients.
Work on a plan
Your first action should be to sit down and work out what is keeping you stuck, what tasks are keeping you away from doing what you love to do, you know that thing that earns you money, that thing that made you start your business, so if there are things keeping you away from that, then you need to be figuring out what they are.
You then need to decide which will suit you and your business better. Remember you can hire someone on a part-time basis and you can also have a VA to work on large projects. It is your business you know what is best, and both options work well.
If you feel working with a VA is a viable option for you and your business then get in touch HERE I would love to be able to support you.
As we say farewell to January, probably one of the toughest months for most, not just business owners, just everyone in general. We have seen the end of the festive period, Blue Monday and what seems an age since we had money going into our bank accounts.
But the light at the end of the tunnel is here and we can breathe a deep sigh of relief, February is here, and Spring is ever closer! We have seen loads of goal setting, resolutions, how powerful 2018 is going to be, as well as the be kind (my motto) as well as mindset.
I have refrained from doing anything about mindset in January as I know there is a lot of noise on this matter through January and its true, mindset is everything, if you don’t have that straight, your balance is off, both in business and in general life, you have got to have your mindset balanced, it is so easy to be knocked off your balance, this could be a number of factors. January is enough to knock anyone off kilt, but getting back on is key, so brush off those knocks and doubts and get back to balancing your mindset and actions.
Why is mindset so important?
Believe it or not this is what makes us feel how we feel, do the things we do and when, the definition of Mindset is simply, your mood, your attitude, your intention, ideas and the approach you have on a situation, so if you are down in the dumps (as my dad used to say) then your mood is down, this alters your attitude to doing something, and you have less intention to get on with what you need to do.
So, it’s all about keeping that on the up, aligned and in check, having those knocks or talking yourself out of things will only push your mindset of kilter.
It could be a factor
If you are finding that everything is a struggle, or your confidence in performing certain jobs and tasks, or even lacking confidence in your knowledge, this could be a result in your mindset being unbalanced, life is very much about can and can’t do’s, but we often tell ourselves we can’t do something quicker than we tell ourselves that we can, this boils down to confidence and your mindset.
To get this sorted you need to push that Self-talk fairy off your shoulder, (self-talk fairy a phrase coined by the lovely Emma Holmes of Rebels and Rockstars, who is guest blogging for me on this topic very soon). Once you have got rid or at least gagged her for a while (your self-talk fairy not Emma) you can start to build your confidence which will have a staggering effect on your mindset, as you won’t be talking yourself out of things (mood and attitude part of mindset)
Another biggie for your mindset is your workload, when you are swamped, and your to-do list is just screaming more hours at you, it hits your motivation, which then starts that huge ricochet ripple of doubt, angst and self-talk, if you are struggling with your workload do not look at it as a failure, spin it around and see it as a positive! Instead of telling yourself you are a failure because you can’t keep up with your work demands, say to yourself, I am getting busier, my clients are enjoying working with me, my products/services are resonating with my clients which means I am getting busier!
See the different mindset spin can really help you.
If your business is picking up and you are finding you have less hours to do those tasks, then see this as an opportunity to put something in place now, before you do get into a spin that you cannot get out of, book a free call with me and we can run through your sticking points.
So every year I tend to do a quick review on where I am, what I currently do for my clients, what more I can do to support them, as well as looking at where I want my business to go next year.
This week for me is my review week, I don’t tend to do it in December and I find it too much of a stress month to add another fairly big task to run with. Not sure about you by December is filled with finding hiding places for all those parcels that have been delivered, explaining why there are several Santa’s around town, remembering to move the elf before I go to bed, school plays, pantos, Christmas dinners, social media, client work etc, so throwing in several client reviews wouldn’t be the best use of productivity in what already is a hectic time of year.
I started this week with a quick look at where my business has gone this year, and I must say this year is probably my best yet, I have continued to support my long-term clients, I have gained some truly awesome new clients who are doing amazing things in their businesses, I am so fortunate to be able to support them. I have to say business wise 2017 has rocked for me here at RAS.
So, how can I improve on my progress from this year?
Like with 2017, I will be setting small realistic targets for next year, it can be so easy to add in so many HUGE and unachievable targets at the beginning of each year, which will only deflate you if you start missing those goals, so instead of giving yourself one massive target break it down into several smaller ones, a bit like your to-do list, this way your confidence in what you do will grow as you hit your goals each month. This year I set myself 4-5 small goals a month, 1 slightly larger one for 6 months and a 1 largish goal for the end of the year, and some of the smaller monthly tasks were heading to my ultimate goal for the end of the year, so I was always seeing my progress as the months ticked on.
First day back in the office refreshed and pleased you don’t have to commute hours by train to your office because you run your own business, you sit down to start jotting your goals on paper, as we all know writing them down makes you accountable (yeah righty ho!) but we still do it, we are super pumped and off we go:
- Earn enough to go to Florida (deadline March!)
- Earn enough to only work (deadline Easter)
- Earn enough to book a regular spa (deadline before summer holidays I need to be prepared)
- Gain more clients (deadline February)
(this is a real-life goals list from a close business buddy of mine) she set it 2yrs ago, and when I asked her the other week how many she ticked off, she said none! She told me she became disheartened and deflated when the first goal was missed.
She has since redone her list, in fact we both sat down at the start of this year and made our goals together, she is a bit of an accountability buddy for me. On her list for 2017 she had:
- Offer more hours to her current client base (deadline March)
- Take on 3 more 1-2-1 clients (deadline July)
- Earn £150 extra each month (ongoing)
- Continued from 2016 earn deposit for 2018 family holiday (deadline December)
These were just a couple of hers that she was happy for me to share with you all, you can see the clear difference between the 2 years, she told me that 2015 was negative for her due to the constant missing goals, she quickly realised they were too big and the deadlines were unrealistic. She refused to set goals in 2016!
I was talking to her over the weekend and said that this week I was doing my review, she said she would let me know how hers had gone, so yesterday we had a quick live chat, out of the 4 listed above she has completed all of them, she is going into the travel agents on Saturday and laying the deposit for her family holiday next year. She said that her goals were more achievable and realistic deadlines, and with each one she crossed off the more confidence it had given her.
Moral of this!
Set yourself goals, I actually think they are a healthy thing to have in your business, but don’t expect to move the moon closer to the earth, we already have more pressure on us as it is by running our business, why put more on our shoulders but adding unrealistic goals! Start small and few at a time.
Is 2018 the year for you to offload some of those tasks that are weighing you down? Don’t let it become an issue or too late and your stress levels hit the roof. If you are already working late nights and odd days over the weekend or struggling to knock things of your ever growing to do list, then maybe having a VA on hand maybe the right option for you!
Check out this blog about working with me
Let’s make sure 2018 rocks for us all, with no added pressures made by ourselves 😊
Yep Investment List!
If you are anything like me your life is probably built on lists, shopping, kids, business, bucket, you name it everything goes onto one, whether we follow it and tick things off is another thing (there is a list on my fridge, paint kitchen, new shower screen, paint hallway! This has been there since the beginning of the year!)
But my investment list I take incredibly seriously, because I am so passionate about what I do for work, and have the thirst to better myself for my clients, this list is so important to me.
For me, this isn’t solely about money, this can be things that are free but beneficial (yes that does exist!)
When I started my Virtual Assistant business I knew I had the knowledge of being a PA/Admin support as I had been working in that field since I left school, but what knowledge I had on running a business I could have written on the back of a stamp, so I spent equal time working and growing my business with researching how to run a successful virtual/online business, and before I knew it I found a list of things that I wanted to invest my time and money in to make my business thrive.
So what was on this investment list of mine?
1. Training – this is no different from my corporate days, except I pick and choose the training I want and what is going to benefit my business and help me move forward. Being an online/virtual business there are a wealth of programs/systems out there and always new fancy ones being released regularly. So, it is a case of staying on top of new systems and keep my knowledge levels replenished. Also doing research to see if any new systems that come out could benefit my clients in their business.
2. Software – this ranges from upgrades to new software, we always need to be up to date with our software, and making sure the one we are using now is still the right one for your business, if not sourcing a new piece of software to fit in your business now.
3. Hardware – when I started I had an old laptop and that was it, but over time I have upgraded my hardware to suit my business, I have a new laptop better running system, separate keyboard, bigger screen, this all makes my working day run more smoothly and easier for me to work throughout the day, but have added to my arsenal of hardware, printers, office phone, equipment for recording videos.
4. Support network – this is one that does NOT need to cost you any money at all, every social media platform has groups of small businesses, there are even business groups for specific
industries, I am in a few dedicated to Virtual Assistants, but am in a few that are for small businesses, and some that are dedicated to either women in business or mums in business, bizarrely not just for support but those categories are my ideal clients too.
5. Dedicated space – when I first started out I was working out of my kitchen, then a small area in my bedroom, but it became obvious in the early days of running my business that I could benefit from that space, as a VA I don’t really need a dedicated space as everything is predominantly online, but I felt I needed that place where I was undisturbed, not just from people but household chores that were staring me in the face all the time, I was lucky to have a Summerhouse at the end of my garden that we could convert, and that is now my office or ‘The Cabin’ as its affectionately known as.
What’s on my list going forward:
My list is always evolving like my business, so my list changes over a course of time, what may be on my list now, may not be there if I decide a different direction.
1. Audio equipment, even though I do video’s I want to move into podcasting and webinar support, so on my list for future investments is a new external microphone, podcasting/webinar software and a better camera.
2. Courses – I can’t get enough of information, there are a few courses that have a monthly cost that I want to start being part of probably from the new year.
3. Accreditation – As a VA I want to be seen as the professional that I am, so I am working towards and getting the things in place to become fully accredited with VIPVA association, this is more something for me and my peace of mind, gives me that little bit of security and back up from an association.
4. Accountant! Yep, I want to be able to outsource my accounts, now don’t get me wrong my accounts aren’t huge at the moment, but it’s a job I dislike, so being a person that people
outsource too I see those benefits of not having a job you procrastinate over sitting in your trays! I would like to outsource my accounts, I would like to start as I mean to go on with my accounts, as my business grows it would be nice to have that person working with me on my accounts and making sure all is in place and correct. Yes even a VA outsources.
So what is on your investment list? I certainly cannot tell you what you should have yours, as everyone’s list is going to be different. You may have all the equipment you need to run a successful business, but may not have that support network around you, so that could go on there. As I said it’s not necessarily all about monetary investment, it about making your business work with you and becoming fruitful in all ways.
Your list isn’t set in stone either if you have things that were on your list they can be tweaked, our businesses change on a regular basis, mine has changed a lot over the years, even though the function is the same, other aspects have changed.
Don’t keep yourself trap, adapt to your business. Sit down and create your very own investment list, you do not need to put deadlines on them, sometimes they are helpful, but not always necessary. For an example, I want to be fully accredited by the start of the new tax year 2018, so this gives me plenty of time to get all those bits in place.
You may want to put a Virtual Assistant on your list for when you get super busy 🙂