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Monthly ArchiveJuly 2011



Marketing Sydni Craig-Hart on 29 Jul 2011

I Can Help You: Marketing Made Easy

You have started your business. Congratulations!

Now, what is more important than starting a business?  STAYING IN BUSINESS!

A few weeks ago, we discussed the importance of having a powerful mindset that will support all of your business and life goals.  Here is a mindset to adopt about marketing your business: “if you do not market your skills, knowledge and services, you will not be in business for long.”  Attracting clients to your company is how you will thrive in business.

Please decide now what type of business you want to have.  Is it a not-for-profit organization?  Are you looking forward to running a business that is struggling to stay afloat in the market? Or, do you want a business that is bustling, exciting and providing the lifestyle that you desire?

If you had to choose right now, which of the scenarios above would describe your business goals?  The easiest way to create a successful business is to market yourself effectively.  Marketing is sharing your knowledge, skills and services with people who are already looking for them.  There are companies and solopreneurs in the world who are desperately seeking to find what you have to offer. Marketing effectively is your way of saying, “Here I am.  I can help you.”  There are hundreds of methods and strategies available for you to share your message with the people who need you most.

I am going to teach you the easiest and least stressful way to attract a few clients when you are first starting out in business.  Remember this key point, marketing is simply standing up and saying to the people who are looking for you, “Here I am. I can help you.”  If prospective clients are already looking for you, how will you communicate with them?  Your message must be crystal clear.  So, how do you clarify your ‘here I am, I can help you’ message?   You can do so by answering these questions:

  1. What problems do you solve? Every business fills a need. People pay you for a physical product, service rendered or for your consultation.  All of these aspects of business solve some sort of problem.  It is important that you clearly identify with the problems of those whom you serve.
  2. Whom do you serve?  There are a lot of people, businesses and organizations in the world.  Define who you specifically work with.  This is your target market. When you clearly discuss whom you work with, other people will quickly pinpoint the individuals in their networks that need you.  They can refer business to you.
  3. What benefits do they receive?  This is the reason satisfied customers will refer you to their friends and colleagues.  When you solve their problems they are happy, comfortable and joyful.  Define some of the benefits that your clients receive from working with you.

Now, it’s time for the strategy.  Your initial marketing strategy should be to make full use of your warm market.  This is the group of people whom you already know.  They trust you and can vouch for your character and in many cases the work that you produce.  Where can you find them?  Start with your workmates, family and friends.  Any person that knows, trusts, and likes you should be notified about your new business.  They may be in a great position to help you.

Marketing becomes quite easy when you have the right mindset towards it.  There is no need for you to feel hesitant about reaching out to the people who are already in need of your help.  Think back to when you were working for other people.  Each time you interviewed for a new J-O-B, the employer was simply asking you, “How can you help our company?”  Before you were even offered the interview, they likely needed a piece of paper that listed much of your previous work experience.  Your resume was the ticket into an interview.  What is a resume?   A resume is a marketing document that details reasons why a candidate is a good fit for an employer.

Does that perspective help you with your mindset about marketing?  When you market your knowledge, skills and services, you are positioning yourself in front of people who have already been looking for you. They need you. So, stand up and say, “Here I am. I can help you.”

Would you like additional training to learn how to market your business authentically?  Join our tele-series where we will teach you our Successful VA System 2.0.

Business Management &Finances Sydni Craig-Hart on 22 Jul 2011

Five Keys to a Stable Foundation For Your Business

There is a fundamental truth about construction.  Any building that is constructed has a better chance at lasting on bedrock than on sand. That is a guarantee!

This is why it is so important that your business has a solid foundation.  How can you make sure that this is the case with your business?

What are some of the benefits and amenities that you enjoyed at your last place of employment?  Perhaps you had a great insurance policy which included health, dental, disability and life insurance.  Without a doubt you received a paycheck during the month to compensate you for the hard work that you put out. Somehow every January without fail, you received a little document that enabled you to file your taxes before mid-April.  When you walked into your job as an employee on the first day, you did not have to worry about a thing, except doing your share in building the company.

Now, it is your turn to build a solid business by making sure that your infrastructure is set up to ensure your success.  Following are a few things that you should have in place before you walk into your company, not as an employee, but as a savvy entrepreneur.

  • Incorporation: Creating a corporation for your business will safeguard your personal assets in the event that you have a professional dispute with someone.  The chances of this happening are slim.  However, your business entity should be completely separate from your personal affairs.  It is a protection for you, your company and your clients.  You will have a bedrock foundation by legitimizing your company.
  • Insurance: It will take diligent effort to find the right insurance for you and your household.  Seek out insurance agents from people that you already know and trust.  There are many insurance resources for entrepreneurs.  It is important that you apply and qualify for and enroll in the insurance plans that are necessary for your family and your business before you leave a current job.
  • Operations: Systems are critical to the successful business.  What processes will you have in place for enrolling new clients into your practice?  How will they pay you?  Having contracts in place will protect both your company and your clients.  Another note on operations is to separate your business expenses from your personal finances.  Will expenses for your mobile phone and home phone fall under your business operations?  Bank accounts should be separated as well.  This will make it easier to file your taxes.
  • Technology: As a virtual assistant, technology is your means of running your business.  You must have reliable hardware and software.  Trust me, you do not want to run a business using your neighbor’s WiFi.  Some free services and tools may be handy.  But when it comes to the day to day functioning of your business, you want the most reliable technology available and will need to know how to use it to best serve your clients.
  • Financing: This is where many people ask, “Can I start a Virtual Assistance company with no money?”  My answer is, “if you find a way to do that, please let me know.”  I will shout that from the rooftops.  The truth is that it takes money in order to make money.  You need office supplies, software, hardware and savings for back up.  I would never encourage an individual to start any sort of business with no money because I personally have no experience in that area.  There are a number of ways to generate the capital to cover your start-up costs for your business.  Research is the key!

These are a few of the important aspects of setting up your business that will allow you to have a bedrock-like foundation.  If you have already started your business, you can still implement these components to strengthen your business.  Do not to become overwhelmed by the list above.  Every business goes through changes.  The same will be the case for you.  You will find that some aspects of your business work very well while others could use adjustments. This is perfectly okay!  The learning process is continuous.

One thing is for sure, you do not want to construct a business on a sandy foundation.  If you do, you will find that the tides of change and trouble will wash your business out to sea.  Just like footsteps on a sandy shore are soon to disappear, without a bedrock foundation, your business will quickly fade. By implementing the points that I am teaching you in this lesson, you will be sure to have a foundation that is built to last and on which you can build a successful, sustainable business.

Build on bedrock!

I’ll be sharing additional details on these topics and the other 4 steps of my proven business building system on a FR*EE training call next Thursday, July 28th. Visit http://vasuccesssecrets.com for details!

Achieving Goals &Marketing &Mindset Sydni Craig-Hart on 15 Jul 2011

How to Develop the Mindset for Success

Do you have a “CAN DO,” “WILL SUCCEED AT ALL COSTS” type of mindset? Is it natural for you to lead yourself towards your goals no matter what negative signals you receive from naysayers?

What is your response to those first two questions?

Your response could very we be the determining factor as to how quickly and easily you accomplish your goal of becoming a successful VA.  Entrepreneurs are pioneers!  We are willing to travel in unchartered territory.  We blast through walls and fight against the odds.

This article is for the aspiring Successful Virtual Assistant.  Let me define the word “aspiring.”  If you would like to start your own Virtual Assistance company, that is an aspiration.  If you are already a Virtual Assistant, but have not reached the success that you desire, that is an aspiration.

Might your mindset be holding you back? What type of conversations do you have with yourself?  Every person goes through the process of convincing herself of success or failure, victory or defeat.  The self-talk of some people will even tell them, “you don’t have to push too hard, we can coast right here in the middle.”

Mindset for Success

To be successful as an entrepreneur, you need to train your mind to speak in a positive way.  When I started my company, I would not imagine anything but my version of success.  My success meant the following:

  • Time freedom
  • Financial freedom
  • Working with ideal clients of my choice
  • Going on vacations when I wanted to

There was nothing that could prevent me from reaching that goal and continuing that journey.  More than six years later, I’m still building the life of my dreams with two of my own companies.  When I was a child, my parents told my brother and me to expunge the word “CAN’T” from our vocabularies.  That lifelong lesson continues to serve me well.

What are you telling yourself? It is imperative that you analyze your internal conversations. That is the key to what is on your mind and how you feel about accomplishing your goals in life.  You must train your mind to believe that you can accomplish whatever it is that you WANT in life.  (In case you haven’t noticed by now, this topic is much bigger than running your own business – it’s about LIFE).

So, I ask again, do you want to build a successful Virtual Assistance company?  Do you have the fortitude to overcome all obstacles and trials?  If your answer is “YES”, then you are already on the right track.  But, remember that your resilience will be tested constantly.

I do not know what type of mindset you already possess. I do know, however, the mindset that you need to develop and maintain in order to start and grow a sustainable business.  You do not just want to “be in business”, but you want to THRIVE in business.  You want the type of business that will allow you to create the lifestyle that reflects your definition of success.

Remember the words of Henry Ford:

“Whether you think you CAN or you can’t, YOU ARE RIGHT!

Achieving Goals Sydni Craig-Hart on 08 Jul 2011

5 Pillars to a Strong VA Business Foundation

Are you an Executive or Administrative Assistant who is looking to become your own boss?  If so, this article is especially for you.  Virtual Assistants who have already started working in their own business will benefit as well.  If you haven’t quite reached the level of success you’ve been working towards, it would be good to “go back to basics” and make sure your foundation is as strong as it should be.

So, whether you are looking to start a new business or to become more successful in the business that you have already created, strap yourself in and enjoy the ride!  There are 5 pillars or steps to becoming a Successful VA.  How do we know this to be true?  At EAtoVA.com, we have already completed the steps, mostly without any help.  We want the hand you the blueprints that we worked so hard to develop on our own; so that you WON’T have to.

The 5 Successful VA Pillars (an overview):

  1. MINDSET: Henry Ford stated, “Whether you think you CAN or you CAN’T, you’re right.”  An Executive or Administrative assistant who wants to venture out on their own MUST first believe that they CAN succeed as a business owner.  Even if you take steps in the direction of creating your own life through business ownership, doubt may creep in due to a setback.  That is okay when it does happen.  But, that thought process can only be temporary if you are to reach your goal.  The stories that you constantly tell yourself and the belief system that you utilize in daily life will either hinder or HELP your goal of becoming a Successful VA.
  2. INFRASTRUCTURE: The infrastructure and the other four pillars are all mechanical.  Anyone with a desire to succeed can perform the tasks that are needed to get things done.  What makes up the infrastructure of your company?  Here are a few things to consider: 1) Insurances – health, life, disability, dental etc. 2) Technology – computers, phones, an online presence etc.  3) Operations – you must have operational systems in place such as accounting, tax filing, setting up new customers, processes for working with customers, etc. 4) Structure – will you set up an LLC or a Sole Proprietorship?  5) Finances – it takes money to make money. There are some other pieces to building your infrastructure.  This will be discussed in a few weeks.
  3. MARKETING: This is the bread and butter of your business.  Those who do not market their company tend to find themselves out of business very soon.  The best thing that you can do for your business is to know how to make money.  You do not want to wait to figure this out.  You can develop a marketing plan even before you have made your first dollar, taking advantage of the resources, relationships and opportunities already within your reach.
  4. TRANSITION: Before leaving your current job, you will at some point say, “Oh my, I’m actually doing this!”  There is nothing that you can do to avoid that feeling.  As with any major step in life, we can allow those feelings to propel us toward accomplishing our goals.  Having a PLAN around your transition will help you to make the leap from employee to entrepreneur smoothly.
  5. BUILDING  Your BUSINESS: When you work for someone else, that company does all of the heavy lifting for you as an employee.  The company is responsible for building the business so that you will have a place to work each day.  Now, you are responsible for whether you win or lose.  Success is 100% in YOUR hands!  You, therefore, have to perform all of the needed tasks to REMAIN in business.  This includes continually upgrading your skill set, setting up systems, marketing consistently and more.

If you were at all nervous about how to get started in your virtual assistance care, now you can breathe a sigh of relief.  We will relieve you of the confusion and stress of trying to figure things out all by yourself.   This is the information that you have asked about.  The first step for you is to pay attention to your email inbox for the next several weeks and read about the steps that will easily show you how to go from Executive Assistant to Virtual Assistant.

Your Action Plan For The Week:

  1. Write down your top 10 reasons for wanting to start your own business. (this will help you to understand the mindset that you already have.)
  2. Take inventory of the tools and skills that you already have in order to start your business.
  3. Write down the names l0-20 people who would be excited to hear about you starting your own business.
  4. Think deeply about how you will feel AFTER you fire your boss.  (How will you celebrate? Why will you not regret leaving your job? Why are you so excited about the new chapter in your life)

Achieving Goals &Business Management &Mindset &Virtual Assistant Sydni Craig-Hart on 01 Jul 2011

Break Through Discouragement and Get Back on Track

Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase, “Perception is reality.”  And while it may mean different things to different people, today I want to focus on how our limiting beliefs, self-doubt and negative thoughts all play a part in creating a successful business.  Even if you think these feelings are only tied to your personal life – think again.  They can (and will) interfere with your business.

Why?

As a Virtual Assistant, your personal and business lives are often completely intertwined.  It is important to recognize this potential problem because it could actually be holding you back in achieving the business success you are looking for.   For example, let’s say you are just plain discouraged with your life right now.

Perhaps your personal life is less than stellar – maybe you haven’t had a date in awhile, or you and your significant other have been at odds with each other lately.  Then, you start to focus on the things “wrong” with your life and you get discouraged with everything, including your business.  You start to think that you can’t be as successful as you want to be because of your competition, lack of knowledge or lack of funds to take a continuing education course, or whatever.

Once you get “down in the dumps” about yourself and your business, that’s exactly what you project to everyone else.  That in and of itself will limit your progress.  That negative energy you are putting out into the world around you will only attract more negative energy.

So how do you fix this?

First acknowledge that you are discouraged and don’t beat yourself up over it.  All of us can get discouraged now and again.  But once you realize this is the case with you, make the decision to “turn the corner” and focus your attention on resolving the issues at hand.

Often we make situations more complicated than necessary because we over-think matters and ignore simple solutions.  Don’t fall into this trap! Make the decision to view things differently. Give yourself the space to calmly and objectively think about the situation.  Talk out your feelings with a trusted confidant to clear your mind.  Decide on a resolution, take action and pat yourself on the back for doing so!

Also, get support from fellow VAs who can relate to your business challenges and personal circumstances.  Consider teaming up with an accountability buddy, joining a mastermind group or hiring a coach to ensure you are making progress in your business.  At the very least connect with others in the EAtoVA community by getting involved in our LinkedIn group. All of this “mental cleanup” and trusted support will help you get clarity in your personal and business life.

Once you’ve gained clarity, moved away from discouragement and start to take positive action, you will see your personal and business life flourish.  Even in seemingly small ways.

Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think can or think you can’t you’re right!” So, you have to put yourself in a place to attract and receive success.  Remember, the only way to do this is to break through the negative beliefs that you have.  You’re not the only one; we ALL have them in one form or another.  You’re not crazy.  You’re not destined for “failure”.  You are human.

How you choose to deal with the challenges will set you apart from those who “wish” they had it together and those that actually do.  Your version of success is right in front of you, there for the taking.  So, don’t stand in your own way and let it pass you by!

I’d love to know what you think about this week’s article and how we as a community can support you in achieving your goals. Stop by the blog to comment and share your thoughts!

Your Action Plan For The Week:

  1. Watch for any tendencies to over think your problems. If you find yourself getting down in the dumps, acknowledge it and talk out your feelings with a trusted confidant or accountability partner.
  2. Make a decision to think about things differently. Once you’ve given yourself space to gain clarity, focus on looking for simple solutions to your challenges.
  3. Take action! The best way to break through a negative belief is to take ONE step toward your goals. Prove yourself wrong by taking action.
  4. Get support from your community. Get involved in the EAtoVA LinkedIN group (it’s completely FR*EE!) so you have access to advice and support from people who understand what you’re going through.