Client Gift Giving

Have you ever wondered how gift giving affects your clients? The benefits of giving business or corporate gifts are plentiful. These days, giving gifts as Entrepreneurs, REALTORS and Small Business owners to clients are no longer seen as “nice to” but rather as a business imperative. Gifts help businesses to create goodwill, strengthen relationships, enhance your company’s image and create an emotional connection and positive perception of your brand.

Here are a few dos and don’ts for gift giving for the holiday season or any time of the year. There is a distinction between promotional gifts and corporate gifts. Both are valuable marketing tools for specific purposes in business. Promotional items are typically branded items of a lower cost, used as giveaways in large quantities as an extension of advertising efforts. Corporate gifts, on the other hand, are typically higher value items which are given with the intention of showing gratitude and strengthening relationships. They increase brand loyalty and encourage recipients to interact favourably with your brand.

If you are giving a gift to an existing or potential client, do find out what their company’s gifting policy is first. Banks, auditing firms and multi-national companies have strict rules around gifting. Feel free to ask your client upfront if they have a “No Gifting” policy, then at least your client will know that the thought was there. They will probably give you suggestions on what are acceptable ways to show your appreciation. Don’t go overboard with lavish or intimate gifts.

Your heart might be in the right place, but a gift that is excessive or a little too personal can make your recipient feel uncomfortable. Avoid outlandish gifts like jewellery. Try to stick to gift baskets, chocolate and sweets, coffee or wine and their accessories if in doubt. Don’t guess how to spell your recipient’s name. Getting their name wrong on a gift is a no-no. Instead of having warm, fuzzy feelings, your recipient will feel embarrassed or think that you are careless. That’s the opposite of what you are going for. Finally, do have your gift professionally wrapped. Great presentation increases the excitement of receiving a gift. Professional gift-wrapping also adds to your message of how much you value your recipient.

Don’t be shy to add a personal note and a gift card too!

Donna Hartrick,
My Shopping Diva

Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash



Reactive behaviour is when you respond because of a situation instead of internal motivation. You wait until there is a need and then quickly move to execute or remedy the issue. Proactive behaviour is action and result oriented in nature, this means acting to plan, foresee and implement preventative or counter measures should an issue arise.  These are people who set goals, time block and typically remain cool and collected under pressure.


Living in a constant reactive state can erode your business in a multitude of ways such as business relationships, client retention, sales and more. Being in a reactive state often causes people always to wonder where their day went and why did they get so little done, deadlines missed, work was done at the last minute, deliverables slip through the cracks. You are not only letting yourself down by adding unnecessary stress to your life, but you are also most likely letting support staff, assistants, business colleagues, etc. down by causing undue stress in their lives.


Proactive people typically are goal oriented; they have it planned and broken down into manageable bites, rarely will you find them drowning and scrambling to meet deadlines. Under pressure, a proactive person will already be organized, structured and have developed a game plan. They will rely on others, ensuring they have all that is needed to meet the deadline. Proactive people are communicators; they take time to explain and to listen.

Here is a chart of traits to help simplify:

Always looking for change Afraid of change
Sets effective goals No goals, fly by the seat of their pants
Anticipates and prevents problems Always putting out fires
Constantly looking for ways to better themselves and their business Thinks they know everything
Takes action Waits to be rescued
Perseverance Victim
Achieves results Always wondering what is next

Being proactive all the time is not possible, we have all been reactive at some point. You may have a little of column A and a little of column B depending on the day. Reactivity can be based on beliefs and past experiences, these are not concrete, and you can change. The key is to find balance. Find people or systems, trains of thought, that can help to switch you from reactive to proactive slowly. Think about how much energy you are spending on stressing over remembering to do things, getting frustrated with yourself when you forget or miss deadlines.


Here is a list of ways you can get organized and streamline your business and thought process:

  1. Set Goals (Personal and Business)
  2. Break down your goals into actionable items – minimum of three per goal
  3. Time block and STICK TO IT
  4. Set boundaries such as “I am only going to go to two networking events a month,” or “I am going too only take personal appointments after hours.”
  5. Develop a marketing plan for the year, so you know what to have ready
  6. Create or write out processes that need a checklist or some way of helping you stay on track, maybe use project management software
  7. Make processes work not only for your clients but you
  8. Get an accountability partner or business coach
  9. Note your weak spots and hire someone who can support and strengthen them for you
  10. Follow through always
  11. Stop and think before you react
  12. Use a tool such as a journal to plan and train yourself and your mind. (I use the BEST SELF Journal it is fantastic!)
  13. Let go ?

Small steps, achievable actions, intentional thoughts, mindfulness, and reflection, are just some of the ways you can start moving toward a more balanced, stable and flourishing business.


Does your customer experience wow? For many companies, it is a fly by the seat of your pants approach. For others, it is a very detailed, customer first, approach. Most businesses think that their customer service is adequate. In today’s market that won’t cut it, you need to stand out, be better than the rest. A good experience or a fantastic experience will help create repeat business and generate referrals.

A couple of years ago, I bought a Hyundai from a local dealership. Throughout the course of the purchase and the years to come their customer service was bar none the best from any dealership. Here are the reasons why.

  1. I was treated like I was their only customer
  2. I was called to let me know when I was due for my next service/oil change and what was involved
  3. If there was a delay of any kind I was notified right away
  4. I was consulted before any work was done and educated on what had to be done and what could wait
  5. I was offered a free ride to and from the dealership, the staff was courteous and turn around was quick
  6. I received cards frequently from the sales person I purchased through

When it came time for my mother to buy a new car who do you think I recommended? The same dealership I went to of course and the same sales person. I would recommend them to anyone looking for a Hyundai.

On the flip side, I traded in my Hyundai and purchased a Jeep (long time dream of mine). I love my vehicle but have not been contacted once since my purchase to remind me of service appointments, oil changes, nothing. So, do you think I will recommend that dealer to anyone? Do you think I will go out of my way to give them business when I need to service my Jeep? Nope.

Here is yet another example of where a customer for life could have been made.

I took my Jeep to get new tires, two kept running flat due to nails. They ordered me new tires and told me they would be in by the end of the week. End of the week came, no call, I had to call them. No answer, no reply to my message. I waited a couple more days and called back. No answer. Finally, after a week and a half and a call to the manager, I got someone on the phone and they updated me and said the end of the month. Now you can imagine how irritated I was. Will I use them again? No.

It is imperative that you always provide top notch, customer service to every client. Not just the high paying ones! Bad reviews can cost you thousands. Here are several ways to ensure your clients are getting your best:

  • Anticipate the client’s needs and remember that they are coming to you because you are the expert.
  • Make their experience as easy as possible for them.
  • Educate them in a way that empowers them as a consumer.
  • Remind them of how much your business means to them.
  • Set up systems to ensure no one falls through the cracks.
  • Train your employees and ensure that everyone is on the same page, one weak link will cost you big money.

I am sure that you have had similar experiences. Learn from others mistakes and think about what you can do to wow your next client, spoil the ones you have and generate more money through great customer experiences. If you don’t know where to start, hire someone who can help you build a bulletproof plan to creating win-win partnerships for life.



I’m contacted daily by small business owners and solopreneurs whose businesses have undergone rapid growth but they’re not sure if now is the right time to outsource some of their administrative work.

Let’s take a look at some telltale signs to determine if your small business would benefit partnering with a Virtual Assistant:


Do you find yourself buried underneath a never ending pile of administrative work?

Small business owners and solopreneurs go into business for themselves because they are passionate about their product or service and want to spend their time with their customers. This often results in a backlog of administrative duties that must be attended to, or you run the risk of it affecting your business.


Are you struggling with client retention? Building up a strong network of clients is crucial for small business owners and solo entrepreneurs, in order for your business to thrive and prosper.

I’ve received many calls inquiring about my services, from small business owners and solo entrepreneurs who are distraught that their biggest client just walked and they don’t know what happened.

After further discussion it seems that they were either too preoccupied with:

  • keeping up with administrative duties to provide the personal attention that they had been giving previously.


  • they were spending all of their time with their customers and the administrative duties fell to the wayside. Regardless of the cause, the damage is done and a plan must be created to move forward.


Has your growth stalled because you are stuck working on all of the administrative business rather than income producing activities?

In order for your business to grow, you must find a way to spend the majority of your day on income producing activities, while balancing your administrative tasks. When in doubt, delegate!


Feeling overwhelmed by your email inbox?

Is your email inbox inefficient? Prioritizing and responding to email is an important part of running your small business. However, many small business owners struggle to balance responding to emails, and working directly with customers.


I know, this sounds like an oxymoron, how could you possibly be spending too much time marketing your business?

You’re right.  You do need to market your business in order to get clients, it’s a fact of small business.  However, without a plan you can waste countless hours on social media, creating/proofing ads and throwing a bunch of quickly produced, non-brand representing flyers into the wind hoping for something to catch.


Are you burning the candle at both ends? Feeling burnt out?

When your business is your passion, it’s often difficult to create the separation of work and home.  There’s always work to be done and it’s easy to fall into the vicious cycle of working 24/7.  In order for you to be effective and your business to flourish, it’s important to dedicate time for you that is spent on non-work activities.


Proper bookkeeping is an essential part of all business and it’s important to set up an Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable so that you can keep track of your small business finances.

How did your business measure up?  Is now  the right time to partner with a Virtual Assistant so that you can redirect your focus and attention on income-producing activities?


Passion, drive and a strong work ethic are just a few of the characteristics required to succeed as a small business owner or solopreneur.  Day in and day out, you hit the ground running, putting in the work required to grow your business.  As your business scales, you find yourself getting busier and busier.  Sometimes the growth can happen too fast before formal systems are in place. Without proper planning, it’s easy to become completely swamped and feeling as though you are struggling to keep up.

Sound familiar?

If you’re nodding along, don’t worry you’re in good company. Many small business owners are in your shoes. Some have accepted that this is just part of the process and run the risk of burnout.  Others have found a better way.  You know the ones who seem to have it all together. They always seem to be in front of the customer and you ask yourself how do they do it? Are they just staying up all night playing an endless cycle of catch up?


What’s their secret? How can I be successful without burning the candle at both ends? Where am I going wrong?

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Perhaps one of the best kept secrets in the small business world. What’s your competition’s secret weapon?  Their Virtual Assistant.

That’s right.  Your competition has partnered with a Virtual Assistant and outsourced their administrative work.  This has freed up their time, allowing them to land more business, and close more deals. Intrigued? Let’s take a closer look at some common questions you may have about virtual assistants.

5 Common Questions about Virtual Assistants:

  1. What is a Virtual Assistant? – An independent contractor, a Virtual Assistant, also referred to as a “VA” performs administrative tasks remotely. Skill sets and niches may vary so it’s important to do your research prior to hiring.
  1. How can you do all the work I need without being in my office or on my computer? – weekly calls, file sharing through Dropbox or Google drive make it possible for a virtual assistant to work on all of your administrative tasks remotely.Large corporations have enjoyed the financial benefits of having full-time employees telecommuting for years. Small business owners are now utilizing virtual assistants in a similar fashion, tailored to their needs and budget. The autonomy of your virtual assistant allows you to enjoy the benefits of administrative task completion, without the headaches and cost of a full-time employee.
  1. How much does it all cost? – Hourly rates vary based on skill and experience. Many virtual assistants offer packages of time that clients can purchase, with time tracked to the minute.  Instead of focusing on how much it costs, many small business owners choose to focus on what hiring a virtual assistant saves them.Hiring an independent contractor, like a Virtual Assistant means, no sick days, no vacation pay, no benefits payment, and no weekly payroll.  You simply pay for the time used, not a minute more or less.  Over the course of a year, this adds up to significant savings.
  1. How can you represent my business when you don’t know me or my business? – a virtual assistant is a professional who becomes an extension of your business. Their role is to get up to speed with the inner nuances of your business and ensure that the administrative side runs smoothly so that you can focus on income generating activities.

Will a Virtual Assistant be the secret to your success? Time will tell.


Importance of a Website for Small Business

When I started my business, a website was the first thing I created. It was the key piece of marketing that I based the rest of my advertising off. Your website is likely the first place people will go. They are not as expensive as one might think, and a simple website can be created in a few hours. Here are four reasons why every Entrepreneur and Small Business should have a website.


The first online – impression the public gets of your business should be your website. A website helps to provide credibility to those who don’t know you, your company or service.

If your website is too busy or “hokey”, it will reflect poorly so take care when adding your content. Keep your content concise as possible and on point. It is a website, not War and Peace. How many of you have been to a site that as soon as it launches you go “Yikes!” and go somewhere else? How many of you have gone to a website and required a manual to navigate it? So be careful and put thought into how your consumer will interact with your site, make it easy and intuitive. If this is not your strength, there are many out there that can help you.

  1. CONSUMER RESEARCH found that 49% of Canadian consumers will compare products, prices, and features online before purchasing. With 89% of Canadians accessing the internet daily you can see what having an online presence is a must. Now that being said some industries benefit from a simple business listing in an online directory, but you can easily create a one-page site with basic information about your company as an added way to drive traffic. See the graphs at the end for more consumer behaviour data.


One of the nice aspects of having a website is that your shop never closes. Consumers can research and or purchase at any time of the day, from anywhere in the world. Most of the research and comparisons we do are after regular business hours. So if you’re a retailer, sales can be continuing long after you shut down for the night.


There are some companies out there now that allow you to create a website for free from templates. Sites like WordPress have 1,000’s to choose from, and you can register a domain and host for a very reasonable price through GoDaddy and a host of other providers. You don’t need to worry about knowing code (unless you want to get fancy) and can get your site up in a day if you wanted. If you aren’t sure how to get it all setup, there are companies and service providers, like Virtual Assistants, who can help you get up and running.

When building a website, it is crucial to ensure that it has a mobile site that will allow it to work across the wide variety of mobile devices on the market. Most of the sites you will get from WordPress, Wix, GoDaddy, Weebly, Doodle Kit and the rest will have a desktop and mobile ready template for you. The desktop versions are mobile optimized, so you don’t have to worry about creating two sites, coding or anything complicated like that.

Have fun building your site or if that’s not your thing find someone to do it for you. Remember to keep it clean and concise. Continue your company branding throughout it; your site should reflect your brand.

Here are a couple of graphs from to illustrate how consumers are behaving online and how important your online presence is to your business.

How people use the internet to help make their purchase decision

How people first learned of a product they purchased during product research

Daily Internet Usage