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Monthly ArchiveNovember 2009

Business Management Sydni Craig-Hart on 29 Nov 2009

How to Ensure A Successful Relationship With Your Clients

Having a good relationship with your clients is critical if you want to have a successful Virtual Assistant business. It all begins with laying a strong foundation. You’ll need to have best practices firmly in place so that when a new client says “Yes I want to work with you” you’ll have everything in place that you need to get off to a great start.

Taking time to establish the groundwork will give you a strong foundation, which will help your business stand out. Not only will a new client continue to use your VA services, they will refer others to you as well. The following tips will help you to develop a strong relationship with your clients right from day one:

  • Put everything in writing. It’s important to have a written contract. That way you both are in agreement about the details of the partnership. Be sure to provide your client with a copy of your policies and procedures, detailing how you operate your business. This should include your hours of operation, fee structure, billing schedule and termination policy.
  • You’ll want to summarize the items you and your new client have discussed and include this summary along with the contract you send the client to sign. This will let your new client know that you have a good understanding of what the expectations are including deadlines and any special or specific tasks the project involves. It will help things to run smoothly from the beginning and avoid problems down the road.
  • Once the client has decided to work with you, forward them your contract documents as soon as possible. Include in these documents a client profile intake sheet so you can gather important details about your client’s business. Having this information at your fingertips will allow you to serve your clients better and more efficiently. Do not start working on any projects until you have a signed agreement and payment in hand. Doing so will show your new client that you really value his or her business and are ready to start working.
  • From the very beginning, it’s important to establish good communication with your clients. Tell them up front what your communication plan is. Be clear about your accessibility, how often the two of you will talk, your turnaround time for responding to emails and how each of you prefers to communicate. Strong communication is the backbone of any successful relationship, so you’ll want to be proactive about staying in regular communication with your clients. This also includes taking meticulous notes during your conversations with the client. Pay attention to what’s being said (and what’s not said) and ask the necessary questions to get clarification. You’ll want to have all of the necessary details in your notes so that you can refer to them once you start the requested task or project.
  • Further to this, make sure you understand exactly when work is to be completed. One thing you ALWAYS want to do is to meet deadlines and avoid excuses. Although unexpected delays will come up, make it a good practice to meet all deadlines. Meeting deadlines and excellent client service is critical in building a good relationship with your new client. If you find yourself in a situation where you see that you aren’t going to meet a deadline, advise your client of this right away. Be honest about the situation and present solutions that will solve the problem. DON’T wait until the deadline has passed and then tell the client you weren’t able to complete the job. Being forthright about the matter will increase the trust and respect your client has for you.
  • Give your clients more than they ask for by having a policy of under promising and over delivering. If they need something by a certain date and time always try to get the task completed before that time. If you can take some extra time to make certain a presentation is even better than they asked for or expected that’s even better. Do not over promise by setting unrealistic deadlines for yourself.
  • Make it a point to back up your work on a consistent basis. Your clients are depending on you to protect their work so make certain that it is protected. Back up to an outside source (such as Mozy, Syncplicity or iBackup) as well as to an external hard drive in your office. In addition, have the habit of proofreading ALL of your work and then reproofing it by reading it at a later time to avoid mistakes. You want to deliver high quality services at all time.

Enrolling a new client into your practice is the beginning of an exciting adventure! By following the steps noted above, you’ll build a strong foundation for a long-term, successful and profitable relationship.

Achieving Goals &Business Management &Organization Sydni Craig-Hart on 13 Nov 2009

Organization + Systems = Clarity and Progress

You may recall me mentioning that my theme for 2010 is going to be “organization”. Two of the things I pride myself on in my business are knowing where everything in my office is and making steady progress in my business. But, I’ll be the first two admit, things are not always as organized as they could be.

I think this is the case with most entrepreneurs. We are so great with coming up with ideas. We LOVE to start new projects. But we aren’t always great at finishing those projects or keeping our business affairs in order. That fact often leads to a whole host of challenges.

It can result in a lot of wasted time (which directly affects one’s income). It can also create a lack of clarity (which prevents focused, consistent action). It will almost ALWAYS lead to frustration (which affects one’s mood and is NOT client attractive).

The good news is that organizing your business and implementing systems is not nearly as difficult as one might think. Following are a few strategies I’ve learned (in JUST two sessions) from my friend and organizer extraordinaire, Joshua Zerkel: Continue Reading »

Business Management &Mindset &Transition Sydni Craig-Hart on 06 Nov 2009

3 Step Formula to Success As A Virtual Assistant

Are you ready to create different results in your business in the new year? Most of us are. Whatever level of success you may have achieved in 2009, it’s almost certain that you can expand that in 2010.

But what is going to be so different about the new year? I can’t foretell the future and I don’t know what exciting changes and opportunities are in store for you. But what I can tell you is that the one thing you can control is…..

Your mindset!

Your mindset is simply the perspective from which you view the world. More specifically, in this case, the way you view your business. How are you feeling about your business these days? Are you struggling to fill your practice with clients? Wondering how you’re going to pay your bills? Overwhelmed by the time and energy it takes to run your business?

If so, you are not alone! Many in the industry are feeling the same way. BUT, there are many who are making progress, working with a practice full of clients and generating a consistent income. “What is different about these VAs”, you ask?

Their mindset!

So, let’s talk about how you can get on-board the VA” success train”. Here are the three keys to changing your mindset and achieving success in your business:

Gain Clarity

Feelings of overwhelm and frustration often stem from a lack of clarity. When you are clear and focused in your business, it’s easy to get off track and difficult to achieve your goals. So, one of the first things you need to do is to get clear on what it is you are trying to accomplish. Here are some questions to consider:

  1. What am I really trying to accomplish in my business? (Be specific, i.e. the number of clients you want to work with, the amount of revenue you want to generate, etc.)
  2. What are the results and benefits I provide to my target market? (Hint: I help ________________ do/eliminate/find_________________.)
  3. Who is my ideal client? (Be VERY specific here – Make up a persona that needs and wants to buy your services from you.)
  4. Where can I start connecting with groups of my ideal clients (Think trade associations, networking groups, chamber of commerce events, friends, family and past/present colleagues.)
  5. What strategies can I use to connect with my client? (In person networking, online marketing, mailing a letter of introduction, etc.)

The goal here is to step back from what you’re currently doing in your business and get crystal clear on the results you want to create. Don’t worry about what hasn’t worked in the past. Embrace a positive, abundant attitude. Instead of saying “I can’t do that,” ask “How can I do that?” Shift the way you look at yourself and your business away from self-doubt, insecurity and procrastination to a mindset of confidence and tenacity.

Take Action

Now that you are clear on what you want to accomplish, it’s time to take action. If you want different results in your business, you’ve got to take action, starting NOW!

You aren’t going to overhaul your business overnight and you shouldn’t try. But what you SHOULD do is to break larger projects/tasks down into manageable pieces and schedule the time to make it happen. That’s right! Schedule it! Don’t leave it to chance.

Plan ahead now to:

  1. Create your business and marketing plan for 2010 (Need help with this? Be on the look out for a special announcement next Tuesday!)
  2. Research your target market and find out what their current needs and struggles are. (NOTE: People’s lives change everyday. You have to stay abreast of what problems your ideal clients are looking to solve.)
  3. Research networking opportunities either live or online where you can start connecting with your ideal clients
    Practice talking about what you do so that it’s comfortable, authentic and attractive.

Embrace The Results

Now that you’ve gained clarity around what you want to accomplish, have started implementing and taking action, it’s time to enjoy the results! Start a journal where you keep track of the “wins” in your business (no matter how “small” they may seem”) and choose one person in your life to share them with.

Enjoy the process of upgrading your mindset. When you find a moment of overwhelm or discouragement coming up, open up your journal and review your progress and pat yourself on the back for what you HAVE done. Use this exercise to quiet the negative voices in your head that may be trying to hold you back.

Start stepping out of your comfort zone! It’s ok to take small steps, but you want to be progressive in your business. If an opportunity doesn’t work out as you planned or a particular networking event doesn’t offer any leads, don’t view the situation as a failure. Rather, look at what you can learn from it and how you can do better next time. That’s the beauty of being self-employed, you can make changes anytime you want to improve the quality of your business!

Here is the simple formula:

Gain Clarity + Take Action + Get Results = Entrepreneurial Success

Implementing these simple strategies will help you to overcome a limiting mindset and start attracting the business success you deserve!

Your Action Plan For This Week

  1. Answer the questions listed above to get clear on your business goals
  2. Map out your action plan and schedule time on your calendar to implement
  3. Post your thoughts/feedback/comments below and let us know how you’re doing. We want to cheer you on!