BIGGEST LESSONS LEARNED AS A BUSINESS OWNER

Being a business owner, your own boss, in control of what you create can be wicked fun am I right?

However, there is a flip side that can be the complete opposite. Since reinventing and relaunching my business over three years ago I have learned a ton and continue to learn every day. Here are five of the biggest lessons I have learned and how they helped my company to grow.

USE SYSTEMS AND PROCESSES FOR EVERYTHING

To ensure that each task, each customer receives the same service, I ensure that I have a process for everything and a system to back it up. For instance, I set up an onboarding process that helps me get all the information I need from a prospect, provide them the information they need to get us up and running quickly and efficiently. This process saves everyone time and money. The same goes for accounting and invoicing. My Time tracking program integrates with QuickBooks to eliminate error and cut the invoicing process in half. “Either you run the day, or the day runs you.” – Jim Rhon OR “You control your own wins and losses” – Maria Sharapova

TECHNOLOGY

Okay so I am a big tech geek and love learning and using programs, apps and systems that automate, help, reduce error, etc. Over the past three plus years I have come to rely on some amazing programs that help my business run daily. Some of them are TSheets for time tracking, QuickBooks for Accounting, Dubsado for my CRM, WordPress for my Website, Zapier for …well my Zaps and other integrations, Adobe Creative Cloud, Hootsuite for all our social and our clients, Google for Business, and the list goes on! So many cool systems. “Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before.” – Franz Kafka

DELEGATE

If you are a startup this might be difficult at first, especially if you’re a one-person show. However, you will reach a point when you will need help from others in order to reach your business goals. Some people find delegating a breeze while others will hold on to work thinking “by the time I explain it all I could have it done”. This type of thinking is detrimental to your workflow and your growth. If you are overloaded, get stuff off your plate. Take a half hour or an hour and get it off and done. Then you can focus on what is more important to you at that time. If you struggle with something, say web design, then outsource it to someone who knows. Don’t like blog writing? Pay someone to do it for you then you can do the stuff your passionate about. “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing” – Walt Disney

TAKE CHANCES

If you never step out of your comfort zone you cannot grow. I stepped WAY out of mine when I started up. I had already been down this road but this time I was going to pave it my way. I set goals for myself, attainable, over many months and broke them down into achievable actions. I took the risk of investing in my business and having it flop. I took the chance of loosing client’s when I implemented packages and increased my pricing. I took the chance of being successful and dealing with all the hurdles that would come from that success. Owning a business is all about chances, risk and reward. It is well worth it if you learn from mistakes and not missed chances. “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”-Pablo Picasso

HONESTY AND ABOVE ALL BALANCE

I would rather be honest about my business, my services and not gain a client rather than hard sell someone and lose them later. When I started, I made a vow to myself that I was going to pride myself on honesty and if someone did not want to work with my company because of it, then so be it. Over the years I have had my fair share of being asked to do things that are against my business and personal ethics and I’m proud to have stood up and said, “no thank you”. My business is successful because I have the trust of those I work with. We trust one another and they know that my business is an honest one. We do what we say we are going to do and if something comes up, we tell our clients we do not offer excuses.

The reason most of us become business owners is not only to realize a dream or a goal but to provide a balance that can only come from being your own boss. Now that being said, balance is and can be one of the hardest things in business to attain. I started this company so I could have more time with my family, freedom to work from anywhere, no more anxiety around how many days off I have left because my kid needs to go to the doctor. Whatever your reason is for balance always strive to keep it. Sometimes you will maintain it and others times you won’t. Remember your big picture, your Why, keep it honest and treasure your integrity. “Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending. – Carl Bard

Owning a business is like being in school every day, an opportunity to learn around every corner. Learn from everything, your successes, your misses and above all your mistakes. What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned in your business that you think other business owners could learn from?

WHY I CHOSE TO BE A BUSINESS OWNER – MY WHY

Why would I want to run a business? What is it about running a business that makes me want to take the risks, work long hours and be vulnerable to the ups and downs of entrepreneurship?

Many people don’t understand, but, many people ask me WHY.

I can’t imagine my life any other way! It runs deep in my blood. It’s my passion and my life’s greatest pursuit.

Today I want to share my Why.

If you’re not familiar with the Why concept, it was made popular by thought-leader Simon Sinek and is crucial to explore if you’re willing to come to the table head-on and dig deep into WHY you do what you do.

You know WHAT you do and HOW you do it. But do you truly know WHY?

And when you figure it out, it will affect everything. In the best way possible, of course!

It will move your business and your purpose in ways you never thought possible.

Your motivation, your services, and the quality of your work will skyrocket.

It’s why you show up every day. It makes your victories sweeter and your goals non-negotiable.

My passion for the work I do as a Virtual Assistant is revolved around my client’s success. I have an innate talent to make things easier for people. Did I mention I LOVE organization? And I’ve been told I have an incredible eye for all the little details 😉

Giving 110% to the work I produce helps propel my client’s progress in ways they never imagined. It also brings excitement and new opportunities in unexpected ways.

No more overwhelm. No more unfinished projects. Dreams become realities. Joy and freedom appear. I love being part of that success.

Too many of us define our lives by what we do for a living rather than accepting that what we do for a living is a part of an overall purpose that guides our lives.

Have you explored your Why? If you haven’t check out this TedTalk. It will be the best 20 minutes of your day. I promise.

TOP 10 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Over the years we have gathered up our most frequently asked questions and decided to write about them in hopes it will answer some of the mysteries surrounding Virtual Assistants.

  1. What the heck is a Virtual Assistant anyway?
    When people ask me “What do you do?” and I tell them “I am a Virtual Assistant,” nine times out of ten they ask me “What the heck is that?” Well, let me explain. A highly valuable self-employed individual who provides professional administrative, marketing, and consulting services (just to name a few) to Entrepreneurs, Solopreneurs, Small-Medium Sized Businesses remotely from a home office. Virtual Assistants (also referred to as VA’s) are becoming more and more commonly used and are an absolute hidden gem. They can handle the same tasks as an in-house assistant with many added benefits. VA’s can work with you on a contract or freelance basis and can provide a wide variety of, sometimes specialized, services. With technology today, there is not much that you cannot outsource to a Virtual Assistant.
  2. What do you do?
    Each Virtual Assistant company will have their own unique offerings. Our company offers Administration, Marketing and Design, Consulting and Coaching. We specialize in Real Estate but have clients from all types of businesses as well. Variety is the spice of life –  right?! We cover everything from spreadsheets to social media marketing to branding and business coaching.
  3. What don’t you do?
    Our company does not take incoming calls (receptionist), handle bookkeeping, accounts receivable or payable, invoicing or accounting. We are happy to recommend trusted businesses and our partners to help you out with these services.
  4. Where are you and your Virtual Assistant’s located?
    We take pride in being a 100% Canadian company. All our Virtual Assistants are in Canada and serve businesses and individuals across our country. We support local business and love to support Canadian entrepreneurs and companies.
  5. How does it work? How do we work together?
    First, we have a call to discuss your unique requirements; we provide a custom quote then if we decide to move ahead, we sign our contracts. Once all the paperwork is done, and out of the way we have our onboarding call and discuss how we can provide you with solid support for your success! You can learn more with 6 Easy Ways to Work With A Virtual Assistant.
  6. What are the benefits of using a Virtual Assistant?
    The benefits of a Virtual Assistant are that you can use our services on an as-needed basis, on-going or for a one-time project you need to get done. No worries about filling hours, keeping someone busy. In a pinch? Just reach out, and we can help take some of the stress out of your day and put time back on your side. You can save $1,000’s in business expenses by hiring a Virtual Assistant via an in-house employee. Read the cost comparison on our blog.
  7. What do you do to ensure privacy and protection of information and data?
    We have all clients sign a confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement. All private information including passwords, login details, credit card info is all stored in a secure database that you have control over your data. We share information via Google Drive or DropBox for Business. The House Wren is covered by insurance for both Errors and Omissions as well as Cyber Insurance. We take your privacy very seriously.
  8. When should I hire a Virtual Assistant?
    If you find you’re so busy working “in” your business rather than “on” your business, there’s a good chance that’s it’s hurting your bottom line.  If you’re drowning in to-dos, missing deadlines or just have a wish list, let’s get it done and move your business to the next level. Make a list of all the most important items you would like off your plate this and will help you to prepare your game plan on getting your business back to a productive and well-performing machine (Read: To Do’s Before Hiring A Virtual Assistant). Still not sure? Read 7 Signs Your Small Business Could Use A Virtual Assistant.
  9. How do you charge?
    Each Virtual Assistant company will vary, but ours offers packages, a-la-carte options as well as hourly. We will have a call with you, assess the most economical option for your business needs and provide you with a quote. Each quote includes a scope of work as well as costs.
  10. How am I billed? How is time tracked?
    Our company bills monthly for hourly and packages, one-time projects are 50% of the cost before the project commences and the remaining 50% upon completion. Payment methods include e-transfer, credit card, cheque or cash. HST applies to all charges. Hourly work is timed by the minute, no minimum and no rounding up.

So, there you have it our top 10. Is there anything we haven’t covered? If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re more than happy to answer your questions! Should you be interested, we also do in-office education seminars on what a Virtual Assistant is and how to hire your own. Give us a call today to find out more!

HOW MILLIONAIRES MANAGE THEIR TIME

No matter what industry you’re in, there’s a good chance that you have a big to-do-list and are constantly trying to figure out how to get more done in less time.

The truth is, we all have the same amount of hours each day. So how do ultra-successful people manage a business, keep up with personal development, family, friends and fitness, without being overwhelmed and stressed?

After researching and modelling numerous success stories, we’ve come up with the most common traits of the most productive and highly successful business people.

1. Morning Rituals

Starting your day off with a consistent morning ritual gets you into a positive state. Getting up early to work-out, go for a run, stretch, meditate, or listen to inspirational music or podcasts is the foundation for a productive day. Starting your day off by dedicating yourself to your body and mind is a winning game!

2. Get Crystal Clear

Millionaires have a crystal clear vision of their goals and values.

They rarely get sidetracked by distractions and know when to say NO to things that aren’t in alignment with their life and business goals.

Time Management

3. Break down your Big Goals 

Breaking down your big goals into small tasks daily is the secret to achieving anything you want. 

You need to know exactly why you’re working towards that goal and what the outcome will be like. Then reverse engineer your goal with an achievement date in mind.

4. Knowing the Best Kept Secret to Productivity 

Leverage your time.

Instead of getting bogged down with mundane tasks and stifling the growth of your business, a virtual assistant can help you get more accomplished by helping you with your marketing strategies, completing your day-to-day tasks, advertising campaigns, designing creative assets, and coaching you to stay on track with your big goals, while working with your office hours and schedule. It’s a win-win for any growing business!

Hiring a virtual assistant is a great way to test-drive support staff and identify people who can become key players for your business.

There is no better time than now to get started.

Reply to this email or click here to find out how we can help!

Hiring a VA lets you focus on the things that matter most—growing your business, spending time with your family, or just giving yourself a few more moments to catch your breath. We look forward to hearing from you today! Contact us here. 

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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!

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DOES YOUR CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE WOW?

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.