3 things to expect when working with a VA

3 Things to expect when working with a VA

The world of outsourcing is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with. It was for a long time one of those frowned upon topics, almost a dirty word. But slowly over the last 5-8yrs, this has changed and has changed for the better.

 
I think the main reason for this is the boom in small businesses, more people are realising their dream of being their own boss is in fact easily achievable, and the desire to do well is fuelling this passion too.

 
And with the influx of small businesses, the need for support has grown too, slowly people are realising they don’t have to hire someone full or part time anymore, and you don’t have to reach for the employment agencies number either, as those alternatives are costly, more so to a small but growing business.

 
People have realised that there are an alternative and one that will work hand in hand with you and your business needs, a solution that keeps you in control but frees up that time you are losing carrying out the tasks you don’t need to do.

So, what can you expect?

Reassurance – This is a biggie, a lot of clients that I have now said that when they started to plan the concept of working with a VA, they were filled with fear, for having to hand over work that they and ploughed time into or a project they have put together, or built that connection up, and fearing that handing it over to someone else is daunting. So for me, it’s always been a subtle and slow process, I would rather you handed over one or two small things a month to gain that trust and make sure that everything I am doing is to your 100% satisfaction, then and only then we can start working on other tasks. This is all about working at a pace you are happy with.

Guidance – A lot of people who start working with a VA are new to this way of working, so things won’t always come naturally to them, so for me it’s a case of making sure you have every bit of guidance you need, I will make sure that we have file sharing capabilities set up, with instructions, I will make sure I guide you through giving me permission to work on certain systems, and each step will be in line with your instructions.

Communication – This goes without saying, communication is vital in making the business relationship work, I will make sure that you get an update on tasks that I am doing for you on a weekly basis, this will mostly be via email, but we will always have ‘kick-off’ calls (skype/messenger/Google whichever is your preference) at the start of any new task you ask me to do, this is where we will go through the basic information and any visuals you may need me to have. I will keep you up to date times for the month.

These to me are 3 of the key things you should expect when working with a VA, of course, there is more, but these were the ones I felt needed explaining that they are a given!

If you are looking to outsource or you think you could benefit from this, then get in touch, will be more than happy to have a chat with you.  Check out my latest freebie HERE

 

11 Things to ask your Virtual Assistant

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Getting the most out of your day

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Being a business owner is great, I love it, it is so rewarding, I work around my little family, get to do the school engagements, homework and make memories with them.

So, hands up all those that have fun trying to fit everything into their working day! Yep ME, I sometimes open my diary on Monday and think ‘What the heck’ and I can feel myself going into overdrive, but we need to remember we are human! We can only do what we can with the time we have.

National Stationery Week (honest)

I have found some useful hacks to get me through those hectic weeks.  See I am a tech loving gal, but I do adore my stationary, a little apt as its National Stationary week this week, (it really is a thing check it out HERE), I do love writing things down, and trust me I have written down notes, keywords for this blog that you are reading now, before I drafted it and posted it to my website. No matter how much I try to move everything to electronic, my inner child just loves going into a stationary shop and buying lush books, pens and other amazing bits and bobs for my desk.

So here are a few hacks that I use to stay in control and get the most out of my work day:

  • I plan my week on Friday before, or latest on Sunday
  • Block out any long-standing commitments, I have 2 of these in my working week, and they are blocked out on my electronic diary and my desk diary every week, so I know that Tuesday 9.30-11.00 and Thursday 9.30-11.30 each week are blocked out regardless, I know I cannot book anything in during those times. So I work my other tasks around those times. I also know that I have the school run to do so that is blocked out.
  • Highlight ‘DFT’ Distraction Free Time, this is the time when all pings, dings and notifications are banished, use this time for when you NEED to have your head down with NO distractions, so turn off your phone, don’t open certain apps and programs. Imagine you are heading into a cave lol – I wrote about it HERE in a previous blog.
  • Colour coding, for me each of my clients has a colour code, this way it’s easy to see in my diary, who is blocked in where and when, but equally my business has a colour too, and I make sure that I give myself equal time to market and promote my business, as well as my own admin/finances etc.
  • Use systems to optimise your productivity, I use Trello and Canva, both are incredible in their own right, Trello is my go to program that holds all my social media content past and future, ideas, helpful information like Hashtags, advertising rules for Facebook groups etc, and Canva helps me create amazing images and Memes in a heartbeat.
  • Find tools that will aid you in progressing your business but not suck up all your time. Social Media alone is one of the biggest time suckers out there, we have all been there, nip on for 2 mins and bang 1hr gone, so use tools like Hootsuite etc to schedule in your daily/weekly posts, I do this every Friday for my content and my clients work, that way I don’t have to worry about it each day, and I haven’t lost stupid amounts of time on social media
  • Timer, I work with a timer, not only for my client work but for me too, I have noticed that as soon as I click on that go button, my procrastination waivers a little and find I am more productive knowing my timer is going. Before I used this I would happily waste time on what I thought was useful but turns out I was unproductive to my business.
  • Visible clock, again I have mentioned this before, you need to have a visible clock in your office, you need to be aware of the time you have left on that particular day, and if a task is taking too long, then schedule it for first thing the following day, give yourself a break from it. I have noticed since having a clock in my office I am more aware of my day, crazy I know but for me, it has really worked.
  • Set an alarm, remember you are not a 24/7 business, you have to eat, sleep, relax and do things you enjoy, you need to remember those office hours, if you do not have office/working hours in place, I urge you to set some this week. And make sure you stick to it. Can you imagine being in your old employed job and your boss tells you that you never log off!!!

These are just a few small hacks I have found very useful to my business, I hope they help you if you have any of your own do share them with us.

Get in touch

If it is becoming apparent that you are struggling to stay on top of your day to day tasks, and you are finding you are having less time to do those things that pull in the money, then why not get in touch, would love to have a chat and see if I can help you. You can connect here

 

Chat soon,

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Are you a habit creature?

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Habits

We have all read those articles where they tell you ‘wake up at 5 am to become a millionaire’  or ‘drink a green smoothie to become successful’ – I think I have at least one of these articles in my inbox each week, telling me what I need to be doing to become a successful business owner.

Now I can tell you I DO NOT get up at 5 am, that to me is still the middle of the night, and I personally don’t like anything green to eat or drink so a green smoothie will never pass my lips. Ok I can tell you now I am not a millionaire nor would I say I was hugely successful (yet!).  What I can tell you, is, my business is producing a wage and I am comfortable.

pinch of salt

I personally don’t think these lists of what you should do, will benefit you in that way, I think you need to read them with a pinch of salt and to use them to perfect your routines, to make you more productive and focused.  I think it is great to read these articles and ones alike to see if anything they do could fit into your lifestyle and business routine if it doesn’t then move on.

I believe in normal ‘Sleep and Food’ – I feel eating and sleeping better does improve your productivity levels, whether this will, in turn, you into a millionaire who knows! We all know that when you was based in an office that Friday afternoon slump would kick in about an hour after you and your work colleagues got back from the pub, you know after that massive burger and chips you ate! I know from experience that massive lunch would turn me into the most UNPRODUCTIVE person ever.

Pub burger and chips = unproductive

I also feel that a healthy balance of exercise will help you towards a more productive week. Mixing that with your sleep and food, you should see a massive difference to your attention span during the week.

But none of these things I don’t feel will make you more successful nor do I think will make you a millionaire, these will help you to move forward and become the best you can be, and if that means it helps you create more business, then great, but I do wish these gurus would stop telling us these quick and sure-fire habits will fast track you to success.

You are the reason you are successful, you are the reason your clients what to work with you, not because you have a green smoothie on your desk!

To be honest, if you eat healthily, you exercise regularly, and sleep well you should see huge results in your productivity, use that to your advantage if you find you have more umpfh then use it to benefit you and the business.

So don’t be fooled with all the habits and routines that famous business owners are doing, as that works for them, remember running a business is not a one size fits all.  You need to find the routine and habit that works for you and your business.

Right I am off to munch on some random piece of food that has become fashionable

 

Chat soon folks

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The power is in your hands……………Honest

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Hey everyone, in my last blog I mentioned to you above trying to find your self-discipline, how has that gone? It can be a tricky one to grab hold of and run with, because of so many distractions, I also gave you some tips on how to cope and deal with those distractions.

This month

I want to talk to you about the importance of staying in touch with your crowd, we all know we can stay in touch via Social Media, but sometimes it’s just not enough is it.  I have got into a good routine of keeping a check on my insights on my social platforms, I post at various times, some when my crowd are online and other times when they are not active, most of my crowd are online late afternoon/early evening, I do schedule posts for that time, but I do like to do things in real-time too.

In March’s newsletter, I spoke about the amazing competition that I won back in October 2016, which was run by the A.M.A.Z.I.N.G Emma Holmes of Coaching Rockstars. I had seen her posts on social media and a few friends through business had shared her post too, but still, didn’t feel compelled to enter it as I felt I wasn’t lucky enough.  Then I had a Rockstar newsletter hit my inbox which went into more detail, with all the relevant links, it just spoke to me, I felt it resonated with me and the situation I was in at the time, it was that email just pushed me into entering, and how glad am I that I did! I have managed to spend time with some AWESOME, inspiring, knowledgeable women in the industry.

The power of e-marketing is huge and can have such an amazing effect on your business.  You can reach out to your crowd with a push of a button, you know it will land in their inbox when you ask it too, and it will be filled with great content, you can get your message over in more depth, as on social platforms you don’t want to flood your crowds timelines nor make it too long.  This way you can create that eye-catching content.

Winning this competition has change my business completely, and it landing in my inbox gave me that push to enter myself

I think how Emma ran her competition and made sure it landed in the right hands was amazing, she clearly knows her crowd and she knows how to make you feel that she is reading your mind. This IS something you can learn over time, but you need to start somewhere, so being in touch with your crowd regularly via a newsletter is key. You can grow your list with sign-up boxes and links to freebies, these are things I will be talking about in future blogs and newsletters.

Growing your list won’t happen over night, think back to my favourite saying “Slowly Slowly Catchy Monkey”

On the Social

Over the last few weeks on my page we have celebrated International Women’s Day, it’s a powerful day, and one that should be celebrated.

Also, I shared a video from Eric Thomas who claims there is no such thing as procrastination, he says people get it confused with something that is of no interest to you, so in turn have no desire to do the task, what do you think?

I also touched upon a subject that is close to my heart and to a few fellow Virtual Assistants, over recent weeks I have seen a few small business owners getting frustrated that people are either late paying or the next worst thing asking for a discount! As I stated on my page, I do not give discounts, I have packages that benefit my clients, I may give a discount should they recommend me, but I will not give a discount off the cuff! You can read that post HERE

Build A Door!

Why wait? I asked my followers why wait for that business to find you, sitting in your office behind the PC isn’t going to pay the bills, you have to be active looking for business, you need to get yourself out there, be bold, be bright, be seen (I’m sure that’s a tagline for crossing the road!) If opportunity isn’t knocking then build a door! What do you do? do you go networking, or have another avenue you go down to generate leads and business? share with us what you do.

Build a door, why wait

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If you have anything you need help with or want me to discuss then leave me a comment, I have a huge list of thigs that I want to share with you over time, so do let me know as I could be doing a series that could benefit you.

Don’t forget I have my freebie – What to ask your Virtual Assistant, I created this to help those that are hoping to hire a VA in the near future or maybe changing to a new one, its just a small guide to help you.

If you are struggling to stay on top of things and wondering if outsourcing is the way forward for you and your business, I am happy to have a chat with you to help you decide.  It suits some but not all.

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Logging Off…….You can do it honest!

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I don’t know about you, but when it gets to a certain time of day I seem to struggle to log off, ever since launching my business and I became a small business owner, I constantly feel compelled to stay logged on and producing more work, more Facebook posts, more tweets, more memes, just more in general.

But when is enough really enough? As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I had to get strict with myself purely for my own sanity.  There I was constantly telling you all to free up some time and have quality time with your loved ones or even do your hobby, and there I was still logged on churning out work.

So, when I felt slightly burnt out Mr RAS put his foot down and reminded me that  I started this business to firstly to fit around our small family, followed on by helping fellow business owners take control of their time, and help them with their tasks, and he was right, burning myself out wasn’t helping anyone, least of all myself, as I was creating a monster that was going to implode one day.

So, I sat there and redrew my plans for the business and for the family, and not surprising my family came up first, which I think I would have been surprised if they hadn’t.  But I had a massive shake up, I set myself proper working hours, and a dedicated late night for online networking and that’s it!

This has been in full swing now for a few months, things have gotten a little easier now both of my children are in full-time school, so a lot of client work is getting done during my office hours and not when the children have gone to bed, don’t get me wrong, if one of my clients comes to me in a real bother and urgently needed help, then of course I will try my hardest to help them out of that hole they are in.

You owe it to yourself, and your growing business to be firm with your expectation,  I bet when you was employed in the corporate world, come 5.30pm you was out that door queuing to get out of the car park, so why are you still sat there at 8-9pm at night working! And I bet you have even taken your laptop to the family room to work, to make it feel like you’re still part of the family! And then you wonder why your body feels like you have gone 10 rounds with Tyson!

Now is the time for tough love!

Top 5 tips on getting our time back

  1. Sit down and set realistic working hours, I have set mine as 9.30-3.00 then 6-6.30 (finishing off any rogue tasks) and one late night on a Tuesday for online networking.
  2. Plan your week, this needs to be done on one of 3 days, either Friday afternoon before you log off for the weekend and finalise the week you have had, or Sunday afternoon fresh from the weekend, fresh eyes, fresh mind or first thing Monday morning before you check anything else and get waylaid by any other tasks.  Personally, I prefer Friday afternoon or Sunday afternoon, there are fewer chances of me getting distracted.
  3. Schedule, there are loads of free tools out there for you to use in order to schedule your posts/tweets etc, I personally use the free version of Hootsuite – with this I can schedule in my post for Facebook (I have my business page linked to it) I can also schedule my tweets, I have my Google+  and LinkedIn accounts connected to my Hootsuite. I recommend to try and schedule in around 2 posts a day on Facebook, and one on other platforms, Twitter is different as it’s so fast paced so it depends on how visible you are on it depends on how many you need to be tweeting, you need a consistent stream on all your platforms, I believe Instagram and Pinterest have their own scheduling tools built in,  Whilst on that note, Facebook do have their own scheduling tool built in which is brilliant, so if you only use Facebook then that will be perfect.
  4. If something isn’t working, then take a 10 min break, go grab a bite to eat or a cuppa, don’t sit there stressing and letting it consume you, if it’s a task that seems to be beating you, then ask a friend or see if you can find an accountability buddy that you can bounce off, fresh eyes can sometimes help a fuzzy situation, just because you work at home for yourself, it doesn’t mean you have to be isolated and alone!
  5. Lastly, if things are just getting out of hand, and no matter what you are doing, you can’t get on top of your workload, then maybe it is time for you to look at outsourcing. Now this word often generates fear and anxiety amongst business owners, I can pretty much bet my shoes that you have a friend that has used someone in the past for outsourcing and it turned into an absolute nightmare.  This doesn’t have to be the case, if you do your research, connect with people and join some relevant business groups, you will soon grab some tips on how to find someone suitable, or you could connect with me and I can either help you with your issues, or give you some guidance on finding someone that you wish to work with.

Try and put these in practice, you owe it to yourself, your mind body and soul as well as your family to get a grip with your workload and working hours.

Give them a go and let me know how you get on, change needs to happen, if it doesn’t you will just run yourself into utter exhaustion.

Love

Claire x

 

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Keeping Track of your work time

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So in my last blog we spoke about logging off, and that we not only owe it to ourselves but to our nearest and dearest, we need that time to relax and let our bodies and brains relax.  We forget that our loved ones have to put up with us being snippy, tired and stressed.

I had set you a goal last time, I suggested that you were to sit down and work out your opening/working hours and stick to them, so did you? how did it work out for you? fill me in and let me know if putting in place those set hours has made a difference.  I would go as far as to say I bet you have been slightly more productive, I know that sounds weird, but it’s true, if you have a finish time in sight then you work towards that goal, and lets face it at the end of the day life and work are all based on goals, and your clocking off time in business is no different, its a goal.

So keeping track of work time is the subject of today’s blog, I don’t know about you, but in my employed days we didn’t have a timer per say, but we had targets that had to be met by certain deadlines, we would have weekly catch-up meetings, during those meetings we had tasks that were assigned to us, once they were finished, we were all circulated the minutes with our new or ongoing tasks on there,  how we chose to keep track of them was a personal choice, some would enter them into their email calendar system, some would use the team project management tool, it was what worked for you.

This stands true for you now, you need to find a system that is going to work for you and your business, what you may have used in days gone by, might not work for you today.  But you need to keep track of your work time and the tasks you are doing during the day.  If you don’t keep track this is when the working over your hours and late nights start to creep back in, and this is what we are trying to avoid.

Logging Off!

For me at the moment, I have an inbuilt clock that tells me that I need to be out of my home office no later than 2.55pm to get to school on time to start collecting the children, and would be a BIG NO NO in my children’s eyes should they be left at the school door.

But, I also use a few tools to help me stay focused and on track with time, we all need a toolkit in business, don’t we!

Asana

I use this a fair amount to keep track of client projects that I am doing, and is great as my clients can add things too, this is fab for keeping track on your progress and time spent on projects.

Trello

So this is similar to Asana, but this is for my own personal progress and work projects, this is my system for keeping track of what I am doing, what I want to do, what I need to do, it is incredibly easy to use, and user-friendly.  I use Trello for most of my content ideas.

Email calendar

I use this daily for those things that aren’t necessarily a project but could be a call, webinar, or an appointment that needs keeping, and let’s face it your clocking off time is really an appointment, isn’t it.  So why not put your end time on the calendar so it goes off at the end of your working day. Better still set 2 reminders, 1 to go off 10 mins before you finish to overview what you have achieved and what needs to be done tomorrow, and the other to say home time 🙂

These are the 3 biggies I use daily in conjunction with each other as well as my screaming internal clock at 2.55PM ‘SCHOOL RUN, SCHOOL RUN’ that helps me stay on track.  Here are a list of other things and tips that may help you in the quest for time keeping and time management:

  • Bullet Journal (paper planner fab and very addictive)
  • Mind Mapping (empty out your mind with all your ideas, as they can slow you down)
  • Use one calendar and sync with all devices
  • Turn off all distractions, yes including Facebook, it may be your main lead generator, but it is also your biggest time waster (trust me!)
  • Set a visible clock, sounds daft but it will work, it’s too easy to ignore that one in the bottom right of your screen
  • Set 30 minutes aside every morning to plan your day and set out your time planner, this will help you stay on track, and don’t forget to pencil in distraction time, lets face it we all get distracted, but at least if we account for it, it’s not eating into our productive time.

 

Nothing is set it stone here, I am only trying to offer some solutions to the problem, maybe one thing might work, maybe more will work, who knows, until you give something a go you just won’t know, will you? One size does not fit all when it comes to business.

Remember, if you are still struggling and you need help or advice, or should you wish to outsource, or discuss outsourcing, then I am always here for a chat, I do offer free 30 min phone consults.  If you want to chat here’s how:

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How to get in contact

So let me know if you try any of these, would love to hear your comments.

Take care, have a fab week, don’t forget to have a summary of the week before you log off tonight and plan from next week.

Love

Claire x

 

Learning something new………

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Remember the days of employment, when HR would send you an email saying something like:

Dear Claire, Here at XYZ Ltd, we like to keep on top of the latest trends to grow our business, with this in mind HR and your Line Manager Mrs Blog feel that you would benefit greatly by attending the 2-day intensive course.

Do you remember getting those through, and how the thought just filled you with sheer boredom! I remember them well, and for me, it was things that I had no major interest in but it was to the benefit of the company more so than me.

On the week running up to this 2-day course you would have to cram all your workload into a couple of days to cover you being out of the office, and then off you trot to this course that was always miles away, participate in the breakout sessions, lunch with random’s and stuck travelling home again to have to do it all again tomorrow.

I know I paint a dismal picture but some of those offsite training days for me were a nightmare, we always had a tonne of work on and they always fell at the wrong times.  But it was always something extra to put on your C.V. 🙂

Why is it different now?

So you are sitting there wondering why the heck have I titled this ‘Learning something new’ well you see this time you are learning to benefit YOU and YOUR business, I know it sounds selfish and probably ungrateful that any of my employers paid out money for me to attend these training courses, but learning something new now as a business owner, is something that interests you, and let’s face it, if you have to sit there and learn at least learn something that you want to learn.
Learn something new

I vowed to myself this year that I was going to learn a new skill or perfect an old skill each year, or if I am lucky maybe 2 new skills, this will not only benefit me but my clients too, I have since started my own business gained experience in many new fields, ones that I had no clue on as previously I would have had a department to call to sort the problem out.

So ask yourself a question, if you could learn a new skill or perfect an old skill for your business this year what would it be?

For me, I want to get to grips with basic photo/video editing, I have started to incorporate video marketing into my business as I feel this will help me get a step up in the small business world, as we as humans are so visual, we like to see or watch something over reading 80 pages of the same content, it’s just how we are.

Tell me in the comments box below what would you like to learn this year?

Don’t forget if you are struggling with your admin, or have tasks that you really just don’t want to do, why not contact me and see if I can help you.  You never know we could plan your future success together.

Also, why not sign up for my downloadable freebie, ‘Top tips for delegating to your Virtual Assistant’ a quick guide of an easy way to let go of some of your precious work.



Take care

Claire x

 
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