10 Tips for an Ideal Business/VA Relationship

business owner shaking hands with VAI was recently asked to list some of the best ways I could think of to have a good, successful collaboration between a business owner and a Virtual Assistant.  After a bit of listening to other VA’s, along with my own experience as a VA, here are my Top 10:

  • Communication – Communication is key. Be specific about what you want.  In your initial meeting with your VA, be clear on your pain points. The business owner is best at building their business.  The VA is best at taking care of the tasks that are more ‘behind the scenes’, and take time away from the business owner.  Make it clear that you are open to answering their questions.
  • Be Transparent – You don’t have to ‘have it all together’. Very few people do.  A VA has insight into a lot of things, usually has had a variety of work experience, and is also a business owner.  Most people, by the time they hire a VA, have grown to the point of near complete chaos and disorganization.  Let your VA help you get it all back together.
  • Be Available – Set a regular time once or twice a week to get together to go through workflow, questions, to do lists, etc. Set out the best way to communicate in between those meetings.
  • Be Coachable – No, a VA is not a business coach, but by being coachable, they can help you to develop a process for getting the work done efficiently. They can help you to develop a documented and tested process for workflow.
  • Don’t Expect them to Know Every System – Don’t let this be a deterrent. Every business is unique and may use a system or software unique to their market or field.  Any good VA is always capable and willing to learn a new system to best help you.
  • Find Someone You ‘Click’ With – A VA relationship tends to be one kept close at hand. After all, they are taking care of the tasks that keep your business running.
  • Trust – Your business is your baby. You’ve put everything you have into it.  A VA understands this, as they are business owners too.  Trust them to do the work they need to do, without micro-managing.  After all, the micro-management of corporate world is the number one reason most VA’s leave the cubical world and venture out on their own.  They care about their work, and they care about your business.
  • A VA is NOT Your Employee – This is a business partnership. A VA is a business owner providing a service.  They are not an employee, and a business owner is not their manager.  Many businesses, especially those hiring a VA for the first time, have a hard time with this understanding.  They should be treated like any other vendor that you hire.
  • Don’t Look for the ‘Cheapest Labor’ –Yes, you can get a VA for $3-$5/hour. Take care of your business.  Pay what your business is worth to you.  Most VA’s have years of experience in a variety of capacities.  They have chosen to get out of the corporate world and take on a business venture of their own.  Respect their business as much as you respect your own.
  • You Don’t Need A Seasoned Expert – Don’t discard the VA that is newer in the field. Look at their past experience.  You may be surprised at their work history.
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6 Tips for Better Time Management

Man working at desk

Start Small.  Begin your day by completing one or two small and easy tasks.  This will give your ego the boost it needs by checking those things off your list.  It will get your brain going and put it into the “work mode”.  Then tackle the bigger, harder, more thought-provoking tasks.

Work on bigger projects in the morning.  By the afternoon our brains and our bodies are ready for a break.  For this reason, it is best to take on the bigger things when our bodies are fresh from a good night’s sleep and a healthy breakfast.

Plan your projects.  Break the larger projects up into segments.  Work on one segment at a time.  There are many ways to track and implement different segments in a project.  One of the popular ways to do this is with a Kanban board.  This little gem can help to plan and track what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and what has already been done.  There is a free version that can be downloaded from KanbanFlow.com.

Schedule your day.  If you aren’t in control of your schedule, it will control you.  Plan for a four hour work-day.  Schedules fill up quickly, so planning for a shorter day allows the buffer space for last minute tasks, appointments, and urgent matters.  Schedule in breaks during your day.  And stick to that break time.  Block of time for projects and block off time for menial tasks.

Day Planners/Journals.  Whether you’re a techie and live by your phone or are more old-school and like the pen and paper, you need to be scheduling your day in a planner.  Color code your planner.  It can’t be expressed in words how helpful this is.  Categorize by person, task, time, priority, etc.  A newer method, which is great for the creative outlet that is raging in your head, is a bullet journal.  An endless supply of ideas and templates can be found on Pinterest.  Once you start one, you will become hooked on this method.

Avoid distractions.  Don’t be a victim of endless interruptions.  Studies have shown that it takes 15 minutes to regain your complete focus after a distraction.  The biggest culprit in our lives now is the technology interruption.  You hear that little notification sound and out comes the phone.  Who called?  Who texted? Who emailed?  And hey, while it is in my hand, what’s new on Facebook?  And there goes the hour.  So put the phone down.  Read and respond to your emails during your allotted and scheduled hour.  Look at Facebook or look up that recipe on Pinterest during your allotted and scheduled break time.

By following some of these time management tips my hope is that your days are productive and prosperous.

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3 Simple Ways for Your Business to Be Found

mobile and desktop

Small Business Saturday (November 26th) and the holidays are right around the corner.  That means more shoppers and more people looking for your business.  Can they find you?

A google study showed that 50% of all mobile searches are conducted in hopes of finding local results, and 61% of those searches result in a purchase. 

Here are 3 simple ways to help customers find you:

1 – Make Sure You Are Listed In Directories

Not only do you want to get listed in Google My Business, Yelp, and Yellow Pages, to name just a few, but it is a great idea to make sure that those listings are up to date.  Check the listings and make sure the name, address, phone number, hours, email, and website are added and correct. 

2 – Make Sure Your Website is Mobile Friendly

This is such an important step in being found, especially for businesses who have had a website for quite a while.  Take a quick look to make sure you are mobile friendly by simply using a smartphone to perform a quick look up.  Does your site load quickly?  Most people will leave a business search on their phone or other mobile device if it doesn’t load within 3 – 5 seconds.  How does it look?  Now perform the same look up on a tablet.  If your site doesn’t load quickly, or if it isn’t easy to read your content, you may have to make a change in your website template to a responsive format.  If this is not your forte and you are in need of help, Manta (a great small business resource) has said: 

There are a lot of free web tools that let you test the load time of your website.  Test your site using Google’s PageSpeed Insights or Google’s site tester.  Google’s site tester will tell you how mobile-friendly your site is and provide a free report on how to fix it.  Click here to read full article

3 – Make Sure Your Web Content is Fresh

Have you updated your website to include your newest products or services?  This is especially important for your returning web visitors.  If the content is stale, there is no reason for them to return.  For service based business, providing information and announcements of any newly added services can entice existing visitors to contact you.  For a product based business, having the newest product information will keep visitors coming back for more. 

Along with fresh content, it is always best practice to ensure that all contact information such as phone number, address, hours of operation, and email are up to date on your website as well. 

Here’s wishing you a fun and prosperous busy shopping season.

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Patch Tuesday Reminder

microsoft logo patch tuesday

I have posted in the past about Patch Tuesday but thought it merits a reminder.

Microsoft has rolled out a huge update.  Great changes and additions have been added to Edge, including numerous add-on extensions, to make the user experience even more superb.

Therefore, be sure to shut down and restart your computers each Wednesday in order to get all the updates that come out.  I recommend on Wednesday mornings because Microsoft tends to push out their updates on Tuesdays, hence the name ‘Patch Tuesday’.

After you have had some time to explore the new changes to Edge, please feel free to drop me a note and tell me which ones you find the most exciting!

 

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Top 5 Places to List Your Business

Pinpoint-on-a-map

Pinpoint on a map

We all know that mobile is everything, right?  That means that if you have a business, you need to be found, whether that be on a desktop or a mobile device.  Getting your business name listed is paramount.  I found this great blog article from Manta which lists the top 5 places to list your business.  Thanks for the helpful info, Manta!

Read their article here

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