Monthly ArchiveSeptember 2011
Marketing Sydni Craig-Hart on 30 Sep 2011
Have you ever taken a road trip? You know that one of the first things to do before you set out is to check the gas gauge. By reading your gas gauge you can determine how far you can go before you will need to fill up.
Managing your Virtual Assistance company is similar to a road trip. It is an enjoyable journey that has beauty, challenges and a destination. In order to stay on that journey, gas or fuel is a very important component. What is the gas that you need for your Virtual company?
Marketing is the key asset that will keep your business moving at a steady clip. Without marketing you may find your gas gauge at the â€œEâ€ for empty stage. This will leave you broken down on the roadside calling for assistance. Remember this, it is normally more expensive to get a repair done, than it invest in routine maintenance. What can you do to make sure that your marketing gauge never hits â€œEâ€ and you find yourself scrambling for new clients and new sources of income?
You will want to be consistent with your marketing strategies. Pick two or three strategies that you both enjoy and have found previously successful. Marketing cannot be stressed enough to those who want to have a successful entrepreneurial journey. It is the fuel that keeps the business running from a financial perspective. Here are a few strategies that will ensure that you keep clients lined up a your door:
- Networking – There are so many ways to go about networking. The point is to be focused, strategic and consistent. Networking is simply sharing what you know and whom you know. It also involves being a connector of others. Expand your network by helping more people to get what they want.
- Speaking – This is a really good way to reach out to many people at the same time. As a Virtual Assistant, you can either host or be a guest on a teleseminar, webinar, or in person speaking engagement.
- Referrals – There are two ways that you can make great use of referrals. 1) Give good referrals to other people. Remember to help other people to get what they want. 2) Ask for referrals. When you have a delighted client, always remember to ask her if she knows of anyone else who needs help with solving the same problems that you resolved for her.
- Follow Up – Yes! Following up on interest is a form of marketing. Whenever you make initial contact with a prospective client or referral partner, it is your duty to do all that you can to deepen the relationship. If you take personal ownership of the follow up process, you will find growth for both your network and your client base.
You have set out on a beautiful journey as a business owner. Now, take a look at your marketing gauge. Do you have enough gas to keep your business going to reach your definition of success? You already know if you are doing enough marketing or not. Do not allow yourself to get to “E”. That is the point where you will be thirsting for fuel and desperate for assistance. Make sure that you have enough gas to avoid breakdown. You want to have an enjoyable and successful road trip.
Achieving Goals Wil Hart on 25 Sep 2011
Goals are the vehicle by which we measure the achievements of our lives. At this moment, we live with one of the following feelings:
1. Satisfaction of achievement
2. Lack of fulfillment
Are there more feelings that you have at this time? Of course! But, when you think the life that you desire and the life that you experience, the evidence proves whether or not you have accomplished your goals. Even if you have not set one goal in your life, there is a negative affect that floating along poses on your mind.
Where do you want to be in the important aspects of your business by the end of this year? How will you feel when you accomplish your goals? How will the accomplishment of your goals change your business and your life? To be sure, your goals must be S.M.A.R.T!
SpecificÂ – goals that are specific leave not room for ambiguity. You know exactly what will result from reaching this goal.
Measurable- clearly outline the steps that need to be taken. Include start and end dates. Also, include important milestones.
AchievebleÂ – unreachable goals will put you in a state of inertia. You will lack the motivation and desire to accomplish them.
RealisticÂ – means that you can outline the steps with real milestones and see the end in site.
Time sensitiveÂ – attach a date to any goal and it automatically fills you with a zest for life and getting things done!
There isn’t much more that needs to be said about goal setting other than this: know what you want, map out the step and get results!
Remember this simple yet profound notion: If you are not where you want to be, you have not done what you need to do.
When you entertained the idea of running your own Virtual Assistance company, you likely enjoyed the dream of firing your boss, making your own schedule and getting paid what you actually deserve. You, of course had even grander hopes than the few things mentioned. My question to you is, have you reached your potential. As you reflect on the time that has passed from whence you entertained the thought of creating your own definition of success until TODAY, what type of results have you developed?
If you are not where you want to be, you have not done what you need to do. Â There are not enough excuses in the world that can negate that fact. Some roadblocks may have come up. But a roadblock does not have to be a deal breaker unless you allow it to crush your dreams. Track back to when you first began to dream big about starting your own successful Virtual Assistance company. If you have already created your business but have not yet reached your definition of success, do not give up.
Figure out the steps that you have not yet taken, and go to work on accomplishing those tasks. Â Armed with your goals, never stop pursuing them until you have reached them.
Do you have the tools that you need in order to serve your clients at a high level? Take a look around at your office set up? It does not matter if you work out of your bedroom or in a living room nook. Your technology needs to support your peak performance.
Are you comfortable in your workspace? Is your computer screen large enough? Are you set up for mobilization if you travel often? Technology in this sense does not mean computer hardware and software. In this article, technology will pertain to tools that you need to deliver the solutions your clients are looking for.
Letâ€™s take inventory of your workspace. What do you need in order to be comfortable, equipped and effective as a Virtual Assistant?
Comfort: Do you work from a laptop or a desktop? This will greatly affect your comfort level. If you are looking downward at a laptop screen all day, the strain on your neck, shoulders and back may become unbearable, undermining your efforts to serve your clients and grow your business. What can you do to improve this situation?
Acquire a large monitor to connect to your laptop. This will allow your work to be closer to eye level and relieve the stress that you currently place on your neck and shoulders.
Do you have a chair that properly supports your body while you work at your desk? If you have soreness in your lower back and or hips, it is not likely that you have an appropriate sitting position. An ergonomic chair may be all that you need to solve this problem.
Equipment: It is important for you to use tools that help you in accomplishing your work quickly and efficiently. For instance, do you do a lot of proofreading? Would having two computer monitors help you to get through your reading faster?
How fast is your Internet connection? Is it serving you well? (Please do NOT use Wi-Fi for your business. Your client and business info need to be kept safe at all times!) Do you need an upgrade in order to serve your clients better?
Do you have a business phone number that is separate from the family phone line? You want to show up in a BIG and professional way as a business owner.
Effectiveness: As you take inventory of your virtual tools and your comfort level, does your situation enable you to be the MOST effective business owner that you can be? If you are not proficient in actually working virtually, this needs to be addressed immediately. Consider what specific solutions your prospects and clients are looking for. Then research the tools you need to work with them and serve their needs. Invest in the training you need to become a top-notch Virtual Assistant.
As an entrepreneur, it should be your goal to grow your business. As your business grows, you will need to grow with it. That means upgrading your technology at every opportunity. Doing so will allow you to really make a difference in your client’s lives and create a profitable, successful business for yourself.
Take a look at your client load right now. Â Are you satisfied with the number of clients that you have? Â If not, why not? Â The number of clients that you have or do not have is directly related to your level of marketing. Â Why not examine all of your marketing activities and strategies and measure how well they are working for you.
Developing the marketing mentality will help you to focus on opportunities that come your way. Â Additionally, this mindset will motivate you to set up systems to support each of your marketing strategies. Â Take as an example, networking. Â What is your system for meeting new people, gathering business cards, and following up? Â When you follow up, do you send one email or make one phone call? Â Or do you attempt to contact the person until you get an answer.
Think about reaching out to your warm market. Â That is the group of people who already know, trust and like you. Â To some extent they even know the level of skill and knowledge that you bring to the table as a service provider. Â So, do all of these people know about your Virtual Assistance company? Â If not, send them a professionally written letter that details the important information about your company. Â Tell them about the services that you provide, the target market that you serve, the problems that you solve and the benefits that clients receive from working with you.
If you develop and maintain the marketing state of mind, you will see plenty of opportunity that surrounds you every single day. So, start reaching out to the people that you know you need to contact. Follow up and make your voice heard. Â There are a lot of people who need the services that you are offering. Â Use these two marketing strategies immediately. Â They are free and easy to implement.
How important is honesty to you? Â I hope that you are not a person who would get involved with shady business dealings. Â If honesty is not very important to you, then be sure to make it important to your business. Â You want to have a great deal of integrity when dealing with clients, colleagues, vendors, strategic partners and everyone else with whom you come into contact.
An elementary topic? Â Indeed. Â Vital for long-term success? Â Oh yeah!
Have you ever seen a dishonest person get away untarnished from underhanded activity? Â At the very least, his conscience will be damaged. Â How can you be honest in your business dealings? Â The key is to avoid lying in any way. Â If you have an interview with a prospective client who needs a skill that you do not have, would you say that you can accomplish that requested task in order to obtain the contract? Â Maybe a person in that situation could reason, “I will simply learn the skill and then get the work done.” Â This is dangerous for her reputation and business.
How much better would it be to tell the prospect, “Well, I don’t have any experience in that, but I am willing to learn it on my own time.”Â Your prospect will have a great deal of respect for you because of your honesty and straightforwardness.
Thinking long-term about your business has to include a mindfulness towards integrity in all of your work. Â This is a sure way to build a lasting business. Â One lie could lead to the downfall of a business!
You are unique mainly because you are a human. No other person in the past, present or future will ever duplicate your fingerprints or dental impressions. Â I mean NO ONE!
But, what sets you apart as a Virtual Assistant. Â Why should I partner with you instead of the seven other Virtual Assistants that I have interviewed? Â Whew! I’m so glad that I don’t have to answer that question. Â I will, however, have to make a decision that is best for my business, my goals and my investment.
What skills, personality traits or knowledge do you have that sets you apart from the pack of client-hungry Virtual Assistants? If you make those points stand out to your prospective clients, you will have a full practice of clients. Â Your competition will have not choice but to eat your dust!
If your Virtual Assistance business is not yet successful, what is the reason? Â Think about how long you have been in business. Â What are your responses to the following:
1) I have been in business for ___ years (or months).
2) I (have/have not) reached the level of success that I envisioned when starting my business.
3) ______ is holding me back from reaching my definition of success.
When it comes to running your own business you either will or will not accomplish your goals. Â No matter the outcome it is really easy to track your level of accomplishment or lack thereof. Â So, whether you have reached your goal or not, determine what has prevented you and GO GET’EM!
FEARÂ of success might be a major factor for unsuccessful people. Here are a few reasons why many people are afraid of being successful:
1. It takes a lot of hard work. (Or, “I want success to be easy.”)
2. Some may be concerned about other people viewing their success negatively.
3. Fear of failure.
4. Fear of more responsibility.
5. They don’t feel comfortable being in the spotlight.
There is a plethora of reasons Â and excuses that people have for being afraid of having a successful business. Â If you are afraid of being successful, I challenge you to dig deep inside your mind and find the reasons.
Whatever you learn about yourself and your own mindset issues if perfectly fine. Â Believe me, it is okay! Â But, would you not rather know why you have such fear so that you can make the choice to either stay in a place of fear or actually conquer it?
The choice is yours. I wish you MUCH SUCCESS!
Uncategorized Sydni Craig-Hart on 18 Sep 2011
Working as efficiently as possible will save your clients mo.ney, help you to develop stronger relationships with them and allow you to create a highly profitable business.
One of the keys to doing this is to use technology to assist you with your workload.Â Likely, it is your goal to build a business that serves several clients at the same time.Â How will you manage working with them all in systematic way?Â As a Virtual Assistant, you are receiving emails, phone calls and voicemails at different times regarding a variety of projects and tasks.Â How can you maintain your productivity and sanity?
That is the question of the day. The solution is not far off!Â A collaborative tool like Central Desktop can save you from a lot of wasted time, lost information and lost business.Â The days of writing notes on tiny pieces of scratch paper and losing them are OVER!Â No more accidentally deleting client voice mails that have important instructions on them? Now, you can capture notes, instructions and updates all in the same place without ever leaving a voice mail or sending an email.
Using a collaboration platform will improve your productivity tenfold.Â Tools such as Central Desktop allow you to manage people, projects and documents in a centralized location. (There are similar platforms such as Basecamp, but we prefer CD.)
Central Desktop is like sharing one computer among multiple users. For example, using a collaboration platform would allow you and me to seamlessly co-write this article.Â If we worked together through Central Desktop, I could make changes and save them.Â Afterwards, you can be notified via email regarding the changes and any notes that I want you to see. Isnâ€™t that cool?
Now, think back to the scenario that we mentioned earlier. Let’s say that you work with seven clients.Â With each of those clients you concurrently work on 3 projects and other tasks. From the standpoint of the projects alone, there are twenty-one different matters that clamor for your attention.Â How do you track it all?
In Central Desktop, you can create a separate workspace for each of your clients.Â What is more, you can manage an unlimited number projects, tasks and milestones for each client.Â This gets even more exciting!Â When you or your client make any updates to a project or task, you both can be notified immediately.Â All notes and updates stay within the collaboration tool.Â That means you do not have to worry about picking up the phone every time you have a question or need more information. This takes a lot of stress off of your brain and records your most important business matters in one location.
Think about how well you collaborate with your clients and colleagues presently.Â Do you find this a great challenge?Â Consider leveraging supportive technology that will improve collaboration, decrease stress and increase your productivity!
The misuse of your time is probably the greatest disservice to your as a business owner.Â How do you manage yourself within the time that is afforded you?Â Just like me, you have 24 hours every single day.Â Time is just like money, the way you spend it proves what activities are important to you.
I am sure that you engage in different activities every day.Â But, are those activities your MOST important ones?Â Are your activities building the business of your dreams or tearing it down?Â I will put you to a time challenge and ask you to track the time that you spend every day.Â Keeping this simple log will show you exactly why your business is in its current condition.Â Now, I want to assist you a bit further in analyzing how you spend this precious commodity.
Subtract 9 Hours
Right off the top, I will shave off nine hours for your sleep.Â If you do not sleep well, it does not matter how you spend your time because you will not be able to put forth your best effort anyway. That leaves you with 15 hours.
Subtract 5 Hours
Iâ€™m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and say that you are a person who loves to spend time with your family and friends. You also deserve some personal time each day so that you can reflect on your life as to what you have done and what matter you still need to care for.Â This time slot will also give you some time for personal care. You have 10 hours left.
Subtract 2 Hours
Likely you will need to run errands and care for other matters that pertain to your business or personal life.Â This is a giveaway of time that may be planned or unexpected. These two hours may or may not benefit your business but will certainly vary from day to day.Â Now, are you ready to get your business day started? You have 8 hours left.
Subtract 8 Hours â€“ Time is UP!
In this very important time slot, you must decide how best to build your business.Â There are two very important activities that will boost your income.Â That is client work and marketing.Â There is so much that is involved with both of these activities. How are you spending your stipend of time? How many clients do you now have?Â How many of your hours each day are allotted to each client? After you have done the math on that, you need to wisely consider how you will shell out the remaining hours.
If you do not have a full practice of clients, it only makes sense to spend as much time as possible on marketing your business.Â Your marketing efforts today may not produce results until three or more months from now.Â Consistent marketing is imperative! You never know when your marketing efforts will yield results.Â The worst time to do marketing is when you are thirst for clients
I ask you, on what activities are you spending your TIME?