6 Easy Ways to Work with a Virtual Assistant

So, you have considered hiring a Virtual Assistant, otherwise known as a VA?  Maybe you’ve even hired one, and now what?

How does it all work?

Here are 6 steps to a successful partnership with a Virtual Assistant.

Contracts

Most professional Virtual Assistants offer contracted services to their Clients. A contract is a necessary requirement for most, as it protects not only the interest of you as the Client but also the Virtual Assistant. Be sure to carefully read your contracts and don’t be afraid to ask questions if needed.

Documented Processes

It will be easier to delegate projects and/or tasks if you have clear processes for repetitive tasks outlined. This will reduce the margin for error by letting your VA know exactly how you carry out processes within your business. Once you and your VA are up and running together then you can hand over updating and creating procedures to them. An easy place to keep processes for everyone to access is in programs like One Note or Evernote. These programs allow you to create chapters, sections etc. and that makes it easier to keep things current.

Communication

Be crystal clear on your needs and your wants. Decide right off the bat what the best form of communication is for you both. Some VA’s prefer tasks to be added directly to project management software like Trello or Asana. Other’s preferring to receive instructions via email. You as the Client may prefer a phone call, email or even text messages. Whatever the form of communication, be sure to set out expectations.

Instructions

Further to documenting your processes be sure to provide clear and detailed instructions. Although most VA’s would love to add mind reader to their resume alas it is not an ability we yet possess! If you are not sure how to communicate via writing then be sure to call your VA directly, or do a little walkthrough video. Find a way to give clear instructions in a way that is easiest for you.

Use Technology

There are so many fantastic programs out there that make working remotely and with a virtual team easy. Here are some of the most common ones out there (most of them free):

  • Last Pass – Allows users to store and share access to programs, information etc. in a safe and secure manner without sharing your usernames and passwords.
  • Asana – Project management program that allows you to set up teams, projects, delegate work, communicate, set deadlines and more.
  • T-Sheets – Allows VA’s to track their time by the minute for accurate and honest billing.
  • Screen-Cast-O-Matic – Create videos, presentations, capture your screen as you work to provide a video operation manual. So many great features!
  • One Note or Evernote – use these for online manuals, policy and procedures, store your blog topics and mark them done, create checklists and more.

Hire the Right VA for your Business/Needs

It seems like that is a no-brainer, right? What a lot of people don’t realize is that most VA’s will have a couple of niche areas that they specialize in. For instance, some are designers/creative VA’s, others might specialize in certain fields like real estate, law or medicine. Depending on what you need you may hire multiple VA’s who can work together to get your business where you want it to be!

Ready to get your business organized, free up your time and get new projects started?

Contact us today to find out how we can help get your business to the next level!

Get your FREE Clarity & Goal Setting Worksheet Today!

* indicates required




VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS: SMALL BUSINESS AND SOLOPRENEURS BEST KEPT SECRET

Secret
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?

No.

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.

WARNING: INEFFICIENT ADMINISTRATIVE SYSTEMS MAY BE HURTING YOUR BOTTOM LINE

Bottom LineCompetition is fierce for small business owners and solopreneurs starting up their businesses. In many cases, these new businesses are up against competitors who have been in their respective industries for decades. Some new business owners even get sucked into the notion that in order to succeed they need only to focus on staying competitive and that with hard work success will follow. However, many small businesses are inadvertently blocking their own path to success with inefficient administrative systems.

7 Common Inefficient administrative systems:

1.  Email – how efficient is your email inbox?

Email is an important business tool for communication and it’s essential to set up an efficient system that allows you to prioritize your emails so that you are responding to them in time sensitive order.

2.  Website content and look – in business first impressions are everything! When was the last time you updated your website?

It’s important that your website not only looks visually pleasing, but it should be easy for users to navigate.  Your website content should clearly orient your visitors to what products and service you provide, and should be branded with your distinct voice.  Poor website navigation and incoherent website content is a turn-off and can result in the loss of potential sales and customers.

3.  Marketing – a documented marketing plan is critical to ensure that you are getting the most out of your marketing budget, both in dollars and time spent.

Investing in well thought out marketing materials, that are branded with your distinct messaging and voice will yield a positive return.  Mapping your marketing efforts to your social media channels will allow you to ensure that you are posting your intended messages at the peak times, for an optimal number of views by your customer base.

4.   Follow-up/client care – following up and client care is an essential part to foster client retention for your small business.

Customers choose small businesses over large corporations because small businesses provide that special, personal touch.  When a small business lets their customer service decline, client satisfaction goes down and your clients begin to look elsewhere for a new service provider.

5.   Bookkeeping – take the time to set up efficient Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable systems so that there is a steady flow throughout your business. This will allow you to ensure that bills have been paid on time and to easily follow up on invoices that are owing to you.

6.   Calendar Maintenance/Scheduling – missed appointments? Double booked? Empty schedule? Don’t let this happen to you.

7.   Lead processing – failure to process leads quickly will result in lost sales. It should go without saying, you must follow up on your leads as they come in, to avoid missed opportunities. Inefficient lead processing systems will hurt both your business and your reputation.

Pave your own path to success by setting up efficient administrative systems that allow your business to grow, so that you can achieve your goals, and improve your bottom line.  Your competition will stop and take notice.

8 WAYS TO SPRING CLEAN YOUR SMALL BUSINESS

Clean Desk

Spring is just around the corner, the weather is warming up, and the robins are coming back. With new energy and excitement for the longer days and green grass, it is an excellent time to put some of that energy to use in your business.

Here are eight ways you can spring clean your small business and give new life.

1. GO THROUGH YOUR CONTACT LIST
Take a morning, or whenever it suits you and focus a couple of hours on going through your contact list. Clean out people who you no longer need, update information for those who have moved or their email address is bouncing back. Make sure your contacts are on all the distribution lists they should be or removed from those they should not. Going through your list is also a handy time to reach out and get caught up, network a little.

2. DE-CLUTTER YOUR DESK AND FILES
Clear off your desk of any unnecessary clutter and replace what you need to, try not to add too much. Add a plant or a new photo frame with an image that puts a smile on your face. Surround yourself with things that make you feel happy. File away anything piled on your desk or scan it to your cloud storage system. Take advantage of this declutter to save more of your files to an online, paperless system. Cloud systems are also helpful if you work some days remotely, you will always have your files with you. Go through your files in your desk and purge, shred and scan.

3. SCHEDULE AN OFFICE SPRING UPDATE
Use this as a time to get everyone together and gather feedback on what systems in the office are working, what needs to change and train on new ones. Gather information from you staff on what they think might help things to run smoothly. Take an opportunity to speak with anyone in the company who may need additional training, support or redirection and get everyone on the same page and pushing onwards and upwards.

4. HIRE SOME HELP
Sometimes an outside, unbiased opinion can do wonders. In a small business, it is especially easy to continue to repeat behaviours or habits, wrong or right, and not notice where changes need to happen, or other people’s opinions need to be recognized. It is also hard for some business owners to know how to implement systems that make their life easier. If you don’t have time to do the Spring Clean yourself, then hire someone to help you or designate someone in the office to do it for you.

5. ORGANIZE YOUR EMAILS
It takes a bit of time to clean out your emails. Organize emails that you want to save into folders and or upload them to a vault for safe keeping. Unsubscribe from emails you no longer find useful and end up deleting. Empty your deleted items and keep if there is anything in your spam folder that shouldn’t then flag it as not spam. If you don’t have the time or the patience, then designate this task or hire some help.

6. REVIEW YOUR EXPENSES
Since tax time is fast approaching spring is a great time to review your expenses and trim the fat. Look at all of your monthly and annual expenses and see where you might be able to find cost savings. Perhaps it is calling a service provider to ensure that you are on the most practical plan or cancelling that monthly subscription you forgot about and weren’t using. Do this review every six months or so to keep on top of unwanted expenses.

7. RE-VISIT YOUR BUSINESS PLAN
Pull up your business plan and take a good look at it. Are you on your way to reaching or exceeding your annual goals? If not, then what should you be doing to ensure you meet them? A lot of people complete their plans in December and don’t open them again until it is too late. There is no point in having a plan if you don’t use it. Let it help keep you accountable to yourself and your business.

8. UPDATE YOUR WEBSITE AND SOCIAL MEDIA
Give your website and your social media accounts a fresh new spring makeover. Read over all of your content and be sure it is up to date. Re-write anything that is stale or could be written better, pay attention and be sure you are speaking to your target audience and their needs and wants. Freshen up your branding a bit, make that subtle colour change you were thinking about or take the time to launch a new brand. The updates don’t have to be big just a general tidying up of your online presence.

Happy Spring Cleaning Everyone! What other Spring Cleaning items would you add to the list? What do you currently do to Spring Clean your business?