Some employees never thought of a future where they would be forced to work remotely for a week, two months or even longer than that. Many people lost their jobs or had to close their companies. Maybe you were a business owner who never dreamed that a ‘black swan’ like the coronavirus would hit, and now need to think of other ways to keep your business afloat or maybe you just need to start a new business so that you can earn a pay check.
When you decide to start a business, you first need to ensure that; your innovation or business idea is addressing a long term problem, it must solve a pain point, there must be a passionate market for your product or services and most importantly, it must be ethical and not be aimed at taking advantage of people during these difficult times.
If you are planning on starting a business, have no fear as a virtual assistant can help you with ANYTHING from administrative tasks to website design! We will ensure that all processes run smoothly and that your business can grow.
Here are some Covid-19 inspired business ideas that a Virtual Assistant could help with.
1. Become a professional speaker or move your speaking business online
Speakers would previously have travelled to different venues and events but since Covd-19 many of their coaching sessions, workshops and talks have now been cancelled. For this reason speakers need to turn their events into online experiences aimed at reaching audiences all over the world
We can help a professional speaker by:
- starting an online community of followers and running private Facebook groups
- deciding which tools, apps and platforms are best for you to host your webinars
- teaching you how to speak specifically to your audience online
- setting fee schedule documents which you can use to quickly respond to conference managers and event coordinators to ensure that you don’t miss out on any bookings
- helping you get onto podcasts
- helping you turn your conferences into books and designing book covers
- researching speaking opportunities that are a good fit for you and contacting the event coordinator on your behalf
- ensuing that you are paid after each event and assist you with the billing and bookkeeping
- giving you moral support and encouragement when you need it
2. Starting a Membership Programme
Many businesses like yours may have had to temporarily close their doors. Don’t view this as a total shutdown; this is a great opportunity to offer your services online. People are craving community and connection and may be facing isolation at home. Provide your clients the same value they would receive if your doors were open.
We can help you start a membership by:
- coming up with valuable content that will keep the members engaged and interested
- building and maintaining your website
- creating PDF’s, freebies and membership cards
- creating a Facebook group to encourage and manage your member community online
- writing and sending out invoices to members and keeping track of all monthly/annual subscriptions
3. Turning your Brick and Mortar Business into an online business
If your brick and mortar business is already thriving offline, then why not give web visitors the choice of either buying online or at your physical store? There are many different offline businesses that can be moved online. Here’s an example. If you like to bake, you can start baking customised wedding cakes, birthday cakes, fresh bread, cupcakes and pastries. These can be posted on your Instagram page or sent out in a WhatsApp group to people in your local area. People enjoy homemade baked goodies and may place repeat orders for two loaves of bread per week or a box of six cupcakes every Friday.
A virtual assistant can assist you by:
- making your social media pages look amazing by creating beautiful posters of your products for sale
- taking orders and ensuring that your customer s have made payments
- building brand awareness and dealing with online customer queries
- offering discounts, promotions and fun events to give people a reason to shop at your store
4. Starting up a Cleaning Company
Do you enjoy cleaning so much that you wouldn’t mind opening your own cleaning business? This is the perfect time to follow your dream as sanitation and hygiene are of utmost importance right now. Offices and homes need to be cleaned more often than before. As your commercial or residential cleaning business starts to grow, things can get tough and you will need an extra pair of hands such as ours.
A virtual assistant can help by:
- managing your schedule-there is nothing worse than being double booked
- creating contracts, invoices, service proposals and cleaning logs
- ensuring you have sufficient cleaning supplies, detergents and PPE (masks and gloves)-keeping stock of the different products can be time consuming
- placing ads on career websites and interviewing cleaning/driving staff and conducting background and criminal checks
- creating social media pages and campaigns to boost your business and show off the work that you have done for other clients
5. Starting up a Gardening Club
Most people are staying home and gardening as it is one of the most stress relieving hobbies that you can have. Some of us need a breath of fresh air every now and then as we get tired of being indoors. You can plant trees, flowers or even grow your own food. You can offer your expertise to other gardeners. You can give advice and information on how to grow a specific flower or vegetable, or how to get rid of garden bugs or you can record a video on how to arrange flowers in vase. How big your gardening business becomes depends on the time you put into it and the creativity that you have.
If you only want to be involved in the gardening part of things, we can always help with the administration by:
- coming up with creative ideas for your website and social media pages
- planning and organising how you will showcase your plants or flowers
- finding interesting new ideas all the time, such as an online cooking show using vegetables from your garden
Don’t be afraid to start that business, transform your business slightly or give it a total make over altogether. Whichever you choose, a virtual assistant will be able to provide the business support that you need.
I wouldn’t call myself an optimist. You know one of those people that seem to have rays of sunshine follow them wherever they go. I however wouldn’t call myself a pessimist either, but I certainly can feel negative at times.
Sometimes I get stuck in a perpetual cycle of negativity and guilt that is difficult to get out of and maybe you have experienced this too. “I should be positive about my privilege, food on the table, a job, health, family and have no right to feel negative about these trivial things etc. etc.”
To feel positive, you might try different techniques such as thinking positively or surrounding yourself with things that make you happy. However, often this forced focus on trying to develop a positive disposition leads you even further down the negativity path and by trying to push negativity out and force positivity in, you feed the guilt, strengthen the negativity and are left feeling emotionally drained!
Our feelings influence our behaviour and attitudes
How we feel affects our perception of a situation which gives rise to our attitude and behaviour. Therefore, it is important to acknowledge how people, things and situations make you feel in order to express the attitude and behaviour that you feel comfortable with. If this is sounding familiar, then read on for a different approach to filtering out the negative. This is a dynamic process and a constant journey, so this is food for thought from a person who is not a self-proclaimed expert on this but rather a person still navigating the methods of filtering out the negative.
Get rid of emotional pollution
Try this little exercise next time something or someone causes negative feelings, which I like to call emotional pollution. Instead of trying to force positive thinking, keep the negativity at the forefront of your thoughts and ask yourself what is making me feel negative today and what can I do about it? Is it a tarnished relationship, lack of sleep, an insurance claim, government policies? By analysing what it is about the situation that is making you uncomfortable you direct your focus on how and if you can change your situation. So, for example if a tarnished relationship is causing emotional pollution, think about how that can be changed, or weigh up the value of the relationship against the effort of maintaining or rectifying it. Should you find that the effort of maintaining the tarnished relationship far outweighs the benefit of keeping the relationship then it’s time for a change. Either the relationship needs to end or your role within the relationship needs adjusting. By shifting your focus – from being consumed by negativity and avoiding a forced, unnatural positive disposition to driving actionable change towards your negativity you will inadvertently make room for the positive.
Some things you cannot change
I know at this point you are saying ‘easier said than done’ and some things are just impossible to change and I agree, you can’t change or eliminate everything that doesn’t make you feel good.
At this point I remind myself of a very well-known mantra which I feel can be used by anyone, ‘Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.’ Some things are simply not in your control so identify those things that create negativity in your life and ask yourself is this something I can control? If yes, then take actionable steps to eliminate or change the negative aspect or causes of emotional pollution. If the answer is no, then ask yourself what can I control about this situation? The answer is to again focus on you and how you feel.
Aim to find a way to take the negative that you can’t control, change the way you feel about and accept that this is within the boundary of your control. Remember what is meant to be, will be and every day that you wake up and do your best to filter out the negative is a great start to letting the positivity in.
Photo by photokip.com from Pexels
Me, Myself & Marketing
A few years ago, I would have never thought that I would be a Marketing Assistant. I have always had an interest in marketing, and I have done a few courses related to it, but I never thought that what was my interest, would become my main field of work. I love marketing and to constantly learn something new about it, is what I strive for.
Let’s look at the definition of MARKETING:
Marketing as defined by the American Marketing Association: “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large”. The term was developed from the original meaning which referred to going to market with goods for sale.
In 2017 The New York Times described it as “the art of telling stories so enthralling that people lose track of their wallets.”
There are so many platforms that can be used to help you with Marketing. I think the task is a lot easier today than it was thirty years ago. We have Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn to name just a few. And if you do a little bit of research and a course or two, you will be able to gain the skills to effectively use them in your marketing strategy.
Tools, tools & more tools
You will definitely need a trusted friend to make life easier for you… a friend like Asana or any app that will help you to keep your marketing strategy organized. Believe me, this will help you A LOT! There are so many useful tools out there to choose from. When you have a moment to spare, have a coffee date with Mr. Google and you will be amazed to find out what is available out there to use.
Marketing and Branding, isn’t it the same thing?
What is branding and what is marketing? Isn’t it the same thing?
According to Wikipedia, “Branding is endowing products and services with the power of a brand” (Kotler & Keller, 2015).
According to (Hislop, 2001), Branding is the process of creating a relationship or a connection between a company’s product and emotional perception of the customer for the purpose of generating segregation among competition and building loyalty among customers.”
So, in a nutshell, branding is what you need to give your company/product/service a ‘face’, marketing is what you need to make this ‘face’ known and how you will use this ‘face’ to get sales. You will need a strategy for both of them.
You will work on your branding until you have completed it, but you will constantly work on your marketing.
A few Marketing secrets to keep in mind
- You need to know who you will be targeting: who will be your customers?
- You need to have your branding set up first
- Work with a plan, do not just do something because you read it someone and now decide to try it out. Plan what you want to do.
- Keep in mind how many people there are out there. Your target market does not have to include all of them. Keep your target market specific to the product/service you have to offer.
- There are certain ‘strong words’ that you can use in your marketing that will catch your customer’s attention. Words like “Free, How To, Secret, Limited offer, Don’t miss”. Words like these will create curiosity with a potential customer.
Types of Marketing Strategies
- Content Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Pay Per Click
- Search Engine Optimization
- Viral Marketing
- Influence Marketing
- Mobile Marketing
- Electronic Billboards
- Affiliate Marketing
What I would recommend, is once you have decided on your niche/product/service, take the time to develop your branding first and then take the time to work on an effective marketing strategy. Do research on marketing to become familiar with the possibilities that are available to use. Do research on your competitors and what they are using for marketing, this might just benefit you more than you think.
Photo by Dominika Roseclay from Pexels
With the pandemic creating havoc, remote work for almost every industry came to the forefront. This creates a gap for companies to employ remote logistics managers.
One of my lecturers always said: “In the world of Logistics, the only constant is change”.
If you are a person that likes consistency, then logistics can seem daunting. Do not let this fool you. Logistics are only as scary as what you believe it is. Anyone with the following skills can be a great Logistics Manager:
- Be able to adapt quickly to any situation
- Have the ability to see the bigger picture
- Be great at problem solving and be calm and collected under pressure
- Continuously seek to improve systems and procedures
- And be an effective project manager, with a good ear to listen when problems arise (as this will happen very often)
What is logistics?
Before we delve into how logistics have changed the remote work industry, let’s talk about what logistics is.
Logistics management is easily one of the jobs with the most responsibilities in any company. Effectiveness has a direct impact on the bottom line. And a profitable bottom line makes everyone happy. Logistics managers handle the supply chain, implements and control the effective forward and reverse flow of goods, services and information between the point of origin and point of consumption (end user) in order to meet the customers’ needs.
The flow of information between origin and consumption is especially where remote logistics come into play. Now the employee can work remotely on anything logistics without even being at the point of origin where services and goods are stored. With effective process systems and applications for logistics and project management, remote work can be handled efficiently and in real time.
Real time management is especially important when it comes to logistics management, information, goods and services. These functions all need to flow in real time to make sure that the product, service or information is delivered to the customer at the right price at the right time. When real time management is not handled correctly it can cost a company money, you could lose information and potentially lose a customer.
Logistics managers strive to effectively control the following 6 fields when a company is product driven (remember if inventory is not sourced at the correct price there will be no profit margin for expanding):
Control the profit margin
It may seem that the logistics manager has nothing to do with profit, but this is not true. From sourcing, import duties, cost of freight, transportation and the production and how all of this is handled has a direct impact on profit.
Reduce operational cost
What is the best kick for a logistics manager? Being able to save on production or finding that bargain. Finding that great quality inbound product at the lowest price and using that for production.
This is where the logistics manager comes into play in a big way. They handle trade negotiations, transport and delivery negotiations and negotiate the best price for the company and the customer.
The logistics manager makes sure that warranties and what the product has to deliver, is true. Maximizing on reverse logistics of unwanted products in the production line, ensuring recyclability and a stable carbon footprint, lets your company stand out and make contract winning easier.
Work with the rest of the team
The logistics manager needs to make sure that collaboration between all departments happen efficiently and effectively to ensure that profit margins are made, accounts are paid, and employees know where the products are in the production line.
Keeping the customer happy
The logistics manager will make sure that the customer feels like the winner by delivering a great product at the best price at the right time. This process will ensure a greater need to your product which in turn will generate more profit.
Let us get back to the process of remote logistical management. Remote logistics management provides the function and system for supply chain management from any base point at a remote location. Materials like dry goods, services and many more are ordered to the remote location for the starting of production.
If there is not enough stock to start production, make sure to order as quick as possible. Always have an eye on buffer stock, this will decrease lead times or no production at the worst. All of these processes can be managed remotely through online collaboration tools like Asana; Monday.com; Bitrix24 and Easy Projects.
Remote logistics is especially important in material and product tracking. It is always good to have a reporting tool from the beginning that tracks materials to post point and destination. Make sure to have a status report to document flow in each level of production and delivery.
All of these seem like big words with many moving parts, which is in fact true, but it does not need to be a daunting task. Remote project managers need to stay focused, consistently check process flow and use the team on hand to minimize costs and losses.
Logistics can be fun and rewarding as the world will never stop working. As a business owner you do not need a logistics manager sitting in an office to be effective, you just need someone that is on the ball and great at managing your supply chain. At the end, if your logistics manager is sitting at home, and your client is happy, no one can lose.
STRESS, wow this is a word that can be easily thrown around in almost every workplace, anywhere in the world. What if I told you that you could reduce this by almost 70% with just one little thing?
Sound too good to be true? What if I told you that you could do it, by simply practicing something your body and mind is so attuned to and it is a perfectly natural action?
In the words of Mark Twain:
“[Humanity] has unquestionably one really effective weapon—laughter. Power, money, persuasion, supplication, persecution—these can lift at a colossal humbug—push it a little—weaken it a little, century by century, but only laughter can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand”.
Laughter has several amazing effects on the body. It strengthens your immune system, reduces muscle tension and stress. It is good for your ticker and some say it can help you recover faster from injury or illness.
We all know the workplace can be a stressful environment and it may not be easy to get that hearty, healthy chuckle in, so I have compiled a short list of how you can make your day a tad happier.
- Use the Word: Check out http://www.wordthink.com/; word of the day, then try to naturally work it into a conversation.
- Have some Hula Fun: Hold a hula hoop contest with your desk neighbour or on a zoom call with your colleagues.
- Pull Yourself towards yourself: write a letter to yourself about how your stress is ridiculous “dear future me, can you believe how I wasted a day being stressed?”
- Jam it up: get up and dance, do it in the elevator, at your desk, in front of a mirror, just wiggle those hips for a minute
- Jam it up Together: Even better than a solo elevator jiggle, have a 2pm 30 second dance party with your co workers
- Halloween scream: put out a bowl of candy at your desk and offer people a sweet in exchange for a story or a joke.
- Employ some dark humour : Get a de-motivational poster for your desk or office.
- Glam it up: give any colleague (even the men) a new hairstyle with an online makeover.
- Poetry slam: Buy refrigerator magnets for the office kitchen.
- Pirate Ahoy: give everyone on your team a Pirate name
- Pass Notes: pass a note in the office like you did as a kid, better yet, fold it into a paper plane and see if you can land it on their desk
- DON’T laugh: have a don’t laugh don’t smile contest with your co-workers, see who breaks first
But remember life can’t always be fun and games, so there are some rules to follow when it comes to humour in the workplace:
Know your audience
Don’t use humour to insult or offend anyone. Anything that includes religion, sexuality, ethnic background, politics, or someone’s personal beliefs, is a no-go-zone.
Don’t forget to laugh at yourself
Life is short, don’t take yourself too seriously.
Include company anecdotes
This can make even the most disparaging audience feel involved.
Use humour to diffuse tension
But not at the cost of a covered insult.
There is still work to be done, so don’t go overboard!
The number one quality I look for in anyone, be it my manager, friend or colleague, is a sense of humour. Life is stressful! Let’s all try and turn our frowns upside down, even if it is just for 5 minutes of the day.
For years, I have never been a true believer of fasting. The thought of not eating for 3 days or more is a concept- that I thought to believe –was only for monks up on the hills in Tibet. Why fast when there are so many people starving in the first place?
Well, years later, I found myself a boyfriend, who was well into new and trendy health theories, and who convinced me that this is just the perfect ingredient for a clear mind and healthy body. A couple of days later, and there I was – saying no to food for 3 days in my beautiful kitchen in the middle of Cape Town.
Why Fast? That’s a Perfectly Valid Question
I didn’t only begin fasting for the obvious reasons – losing weight. I was healthy and lean but I was curious to clear the so-called “brain fog” and a reboot of the immune system, which promised a true mental benefit and a test to my own strength of self-discipline.
Benjamin Hardy, a psychologist and best selling author says:
“Fasting is essentially the putting-off of the physical to tap into higher realms of meaning.”
To be honest, I didn’t reach my higher realms of meaning or any higher sense of self that is… but what I do know is, that it was an experience I urge every one to try.
Here are my 4 most loved benefits of fasting, which I hope will motivate you to start too.
1. Mental Clarity
I was on day 1 of my first fasting experience, and after having my last meal just 20 hours ago, I found myself hiking for 3 hours after just having a black coffee and some water. I never felt better. I was energized, the fog had cleared in my brain, and my endorphins were rushing through me like I was on my way to an exciting music festival. I was sharp, quick, and mentally structured, which I had never experienced before. Need a boost before an important presentation? Here is your tool.
Every decision one makes is important, isn’t it? If you have a track record of bad decisions, you end up with a ‘not so happy life’. This all comes down to lack of self-control. And if you cant control yourself, then what can you control?
If you need to learn self-discipline, let me tell you, fasting is the way to do it. You are constantly choosing NOT to eat, even when you are hungry. If you get good at fasting, you get good at discipline, you get good at life. Period.
3. Weight-loss & Detox
Although my goal wasn’t weight-loss, loosing a couple of pounds and water weight was an added benefit to this whole fasting-thing. (Lets be honest, ladies, who doesn’t love to wake up in the morning and feel like your pants are a little looser?) With that in mind, this brings more confidence in you, thus, more confidence in the workplace. On top of that, scientists say that it is a complete reboot of your entire immune system just after 24 hours. I am sure we all have years of guilty junk food eating habits, so the thought of clearing all those toxins sounded peachy.
As Angela Duckworth, psychologist and popular science author, put it in her TED Talk: “Grit is the power of passion and perseverance.” Why is this so important? It helps you focus on long-term and meaningful goals whilst giving you the ability to persist and move through difficult obstacles.
On day 2 of my fasting experience, I had a minor (well it was a major) emotional breakdown. Google said I had severe “carb withdrawal symptoms”. I felt like I was in rehab. I was literally crying on the couch wanting food and begging my partner to get me something to eat. I felt ridiculous. But I guess my ‘Grit’ got me through it, and I never felt better the next day.
Would I do it again? Probably not, but with the benefits I might consider it. Experts say you should be fasting 2-3 times a year. Practice makes perfect, right? I felt incredibly proud when I finished my 72 hours of fasting. This boosted my self-confidence and provided mental strength and assurance that I can deal with difficult situations and temptations. I feel incredibly focused and motivated,and have the willpower to push through anything – and so should you.