How to have a good working relationship with your Virtual Assistant
Start out with an open mind
If you have never worked with a Virtual Assistant before, first think of how it can benefit you and your business working this way. Understand that the transition from having an assistant in your office to working remotely is going to be an adjustment and allow for that.
Garbled communication produces garbled results and is a huge time waster. Decide exactly what it is that you want your Virtual Assistant to do and how you will communicate it to him or her in a way that is clearly and easily understood. Schedule a way of communication that is done daily or weekly as standard and should anything else come up that needs to be dealt with, let your Virtual Assistant know through what means you would prefer communication, be it via phone, WhatsApp, email etc and inform him or her beforehand when you know that you are not going to be available for a period of time.
Learn to be a good delegator. This is sometimes a problem for a start up business that started out with one person making all the decision and doing everything themselves. Understand that you are working with another individual that possibly doesn’t see everything as you do, so may produce results in a slightly different way than you did. Take a step back and look at the result from a different perspective and you might be pleasantly surprised to see that the result is better than what you produced originally.
Goals and time management
Let you Virtual Assistant know what is going to be expected of them and what takes priority. Be realistic in what is expected of him or her within their specified work hours. Plan ahead of time and set goals for when certain tasks or projects need to be completed by and communicate this clearly. If something else comes up that needs to be done urgently, realise that there will be a delay in getting other tasks or projects done within the original planned timeframe.
Mutual Respect and Trust
If your Virtual Assistant feels that they are appreciated and respected, they will feel a sense of commitment to you and your business. Be open to hear other opinions, your idea might not always be the best idea. Show them that you value their positive input and even constructive criticism. as this will make them feel more part of the team and even more committed to the growth of your business.
Morals and Ethical Practice
If you’re wanting a professional Virtual Assistant to be dedicated and committed to your business, don’t expect him or her to stay if you are in the habit of unethical business practice. Being clear about what is and what is not acceptable in your business dealings, will remove any grey areas and you will gain your Virtual Assistant’s respect and trust as well as your customer’s. Be upfront and let your Virtual Assistant know exactly what you and your business stand for before you start your working relationship.
“Honesty is not the best policy, it’s the only policy.” Dr Myles Munroe
Why clients need to be educated on how to work with a Virtual Assistant
How to work with a Virtual Assistant
Listen, we all get crazy busy at work and soon enough the To-Do list becomes longer and longer. What seemed a mundane task has turned into an admin nightmare and your desk has become a potential fire hazard that is best avoided. The deluge of emails pinging your inbox every few seconds is fast transforming you into a version of Cruella De Vil and the coffee pot is empty. Already.
Enter the Virtual Assistant. The damsel to ease your distress. Well, usually it’s a damsel – but there’s a few knights out there too.
Start At The Beginning
The online search has been conducted and contact with a VA made. Upon concluding a Skype or Zoom video chat, a good rapport seems to have been established, T&C’s have been signed and the next step is to start assigning tasks to your VA.
So, whilst all this sounds relatively easy and quite straight forward, there are a few fundamentals when deciding to work with a virtual assistant. From day one, the get-go, implement a few systems to ensure smooth operations ensue, for both you and your VA.
Communication Is Key
For this relationship to work, communication is vital – especially in the beginning. Be sure to check in daily via email, WhatsApp or on platforms such as Trello or Slack. Set aside some time to have a telephone or Skype discussion once a week. This is a great way to build your relationship and get to know your VA. In order to minimize issues and misconceptions, clients and VA‘s need to be comfortable communicating with one another.
Create Shared Documents And Records
For your VA to understand your business, create shared records using online platforms such as Dropbox or LastPass. The more you equip your VA, the better access to info she will have and it’s less likely that you will be asked for the same information multiple times. Set up project lists and tasks, highlighting what the priorities and deadlines are. As the VA completes tasks, these can be annotated and updated, indicating at which stage the tasks are at.
In most instances, the client and the VA discuss the hours to be worked at the beginning of the contract or the retainer. It makes sense to book a few hours per day and establish what times work for both parties. Take into consideration the different time zones and if you require your VA to be available at certain times. By determining working hours, it helps both of you stay focused and establishes expectations regarding contact times and setting priorities. Remember, a VA is not employed by a client in the traditional sense, thus is not an employee. Many VA’s run their own businesses and have chosen to offer their services by working remotely as this suits their needs and lifestyles.
Build A Rapport
This may seem an obvious point, but building a rapport is super important! To make a real connection, show genuine interest and be your true self. This is a two-way communication channel and allows both the client and the VA to personalize their actions and create a sense of connection. Working remotely with a VA requires an extra dose of patience as you will be outlining and explaining tasks without the benefit of body language and non-verbal cues.
Don’t Type At Me Like That!
Never, in human history, have we been as connected as we are right now. Lack of email and social media etiquette is unequivocally one of the major contributions to miscommunication and getting our hackles up. Email and messaging tone is conveyed through word choice, syntax, punctuation, letter case, sentence length, opening, closing, and other graphic indicators like emoticons and emojis. Just because you write in a certain way doesn’t mean it’s received the same way. If you are not sure about the tone of an email you are sending, have someone else read it and give you feedback before you send it. If no one else is available for a tone check, park the email in your draft folder and come back and re-read it a couple of hours later before sending it. Most importantly, know when to pick up the phone or schedule a face-to-face chat discuss an issue.
Remember… This is a process and given time, you’ll be pleased you took the plunge and hired a Virtual Assistant to declutter and organise your business and your life.
Do Right. Do Your Best. Treat Others As You Want To Be Treated.
4 Secrets to Growing Your Business’ Sales Exponentially This Year With The Use of Social Media
What new small business owner or entrepreneur doesn’t need MORE SALES in their business? Especially when it’s free! Social Media offers endless potential and opportunities for the young entrepreneur or established company to drive traffic to their website and increase their sales for free. In this beginner’s guide to using social media for growing your sales, we are going to take an in-depth look at what it takes to drive that potential sales through the roof using social media to target your audience. In this modern day there’s not a person that doesn’t have a mobile device which is excellent news for the business owner. Just imagine crushing those sales goals when you have the right audience at your disposal – a global audience available 24/7, 365 days of the year!
#1 Do your research
What you want is knowledge about your audience before starting any campaigns on social media. Consider and research the demographics of your target audience and use the information to determine which social media platforms to use to reach them and what type of media would be most likely to succeed.
#2 Quality content vs Quantity content
So, this is where you expect me to say, “Start a blog”, right? Wrong! If you don’t already have a blog for your website, you’re missing out on one of the most powerful FREE marketing tools to boost those sales and you might want to take a step back and first take a look at where to start when writing a blog post or how to improve your blogging. Our focus is on social media so that means you’ll need quality content to share. Take note my emphasis on quality content. Your biggest faux pax on social media is to share a whole lot of content without providing value to your audience. Don’t just post and share random stuff. Make sure what you have to say or share will either engage or entertain your audience.
A good guide is to use the 80-20 rule, which means you share 80% content that engage and entertain the audience and 20% sales content. Hard-selling is a definite NO! It adds a desperate flavour to your business that will chase away your target audience faster than you can schedule your next post.
#3 Consistency is key
Nothing is of greater value to improve your business’ online visibility than consistency. If you stuck to rule number two your content will be of value to your audience. It doesn’t matter if it’s a blog, motivational quote or short video, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest. Your audience will be anticipating your next post. A social media calendar will enable you to plan your posts to coincide with special dates and events to maximize the effect of your content. So, what’s better than using a social media scheduling tool to make sure you free up your time while sharing quality content on a consistent basis to all the platforms and targeted audiences of your choice.
#4 Engaging with your audience
Social media is about engaging your followers. If you don’t grasp that concept first and foremost your hard work will all be for nothing. Nothing is as important as responding to your audience’s conversations, likes and shares. This is how you build trust in your brand and develop a relationship that turns a follower into a client.
Do the research, create or curate the content. Be intentional, be consistent, find your own voice and style. In a world where we are often overloaded with digital content, we need to be unique. AND we are – so use it to your advantage to outshine your competition. You’ll be amazed at the results!!
What you can do to get great work ethic
Setting boundaries and rules whilst maintaining good work ethic as a Virtual Assistant
As a Virtual Assistant we are sometimes so hungry to get that next client and maintain the best working relationships with the ones we have that we sometimes forget that the key to success is actually to set some boundaries. Setting boundaries and laying down some ground rules with your clients need not be a daunting, scary thing, in fact if anything it should be a relief to you and could even show your client a whole other side of your personality which they may love. Assertive and confident professional remote worker – THAT’S YOU!
Now although it may be a necessity to set these boundaries to avoid things like burnout and less than average work being handed over to clients, you need to be able to do it in a proper manner and without coming across as bitchy and condescending. You also want to make the rules clear from the get-go, so things like what hours you are available to one specific client, what your actual working hours are and so forth need to be discussed right in the beginning to avoid any awkwardness further down the line.
Below I will discuss a few tips for setting up rules and structure within your business which will ensure your success and success for your client.
Boundaries for you and me
Your phone – Now although you have a phone and the general idea of a phone is to take calls you do not want clients calling you all hours of the day and night and weekends expecting answers. So you need to be clear that, if you do not have a phone purely for business, that you tell your client you are available for calls between hours x and y and thereafter there will be no response to calls or messages.
Set working hours – Most VA’s have more than one client and therefore would want to have specific times scheduled in order to provide the best most focused work to each individual client. This can be tweaked according to the workload of course as sometimes one client has nothing for you to do on a specific day, but another may have a mountain of tasks which are all urgent, you can then use your discretion, but setting some sort of guideline around this with your client is very important.
Treat your business like a business – All business’s have hours where they open and then the same for when they close, you as a virtual assistant are essentially running a business and should do the same. Business’s have rules and regulations, therefore so should you. A virtual assistant is not an employee and therefore does not have to adhere to the management from a client.
Having a task list – A task list is also great as you and the client can set up the tasks together that are needed for any particular day, if the client then tries to deviate from this you can respond by saying that because the list has being drawn up in a specific way you have planned accordingly and unfortunately any extra’s would have to wait for the following day. If you are unsure of what the priority task is it is always best to communicate and find out, this is also a good way of setting the rules that priority tasks are completed first but whatever falls outside of the normal working hours will be added to the following day.
At the end of the day we all want to be able to deliver top-notch service as a VA and we want to have as many clients as possible and keep everyone happy – but happiness comes from being honest and upfront about things. You never want to find yourself a few months down the line, when you realise you cannot handle the workload, telling a client you need to set boundaries, it will probably not end very well.
Be assertive, have a clear idea of what you can and cannot do in any one day and then have that chat with those clients and you will flourish.
Happy Virtual Assistant = Happy Client
How to love that difficult client
When we were celebrating the month of love, I thought it would be good to understand how come you can grow to love certain clients and others not so much. What is it about that client that makes it so easy to work with? What is it about that other one that makes you dread the moment you see their email or name on your screen. For me, it all boils down to learning every step of the way. It is easy to work with someone if you think alike and clearly understand each other. In my line of business, I sometimes have to guess where “this” is going, as location independence means that you are not always in front of your client to see their facial expression or hear the tone in their voice, and if it is a difficult client, then the stress levels can rise very quickly. My 5 tips in learning how to handle that difficult client/boss, and in the process maybe learning to love them:
Make sure you are dealing with a difficult client:
It is very easy to dislike a client/boss when you arrive at your first hiccup. When they confront you, you can feel unappreciative and deflated. But first, make sure that their reaction is noteworthy and correct. Be the bigger person and “man up” if you made a mistake. Learn from the mistake and move on quickly. Do not dwell! If the situation does not progress into more positive space, you will know it and can move on if needed. Try to handle the difficult client with great care and thought.
Stay one step ahead of the situation:
I have realized that my more “difficult” clients are the ones that like to micromanage. Maybe this is they reason they feel overwhelmed and difficult. To deal with this sort of behavior stay one step ahead of what is expected.
Make sure to have updated reports ready and delivered at short notice. Try not to give the client reason to micromanage and check up on you. Also, have tasks completed and double checked if correct before updating your client. To make sure you get everything done on time, find tools to help you get organized (Find sites to help How to get organized quickly and effectively)
Try to stay one step ahead of what the client wants. Sometimes a client will need something from you that you have never done before, and this can seem unreasonable. But try to learn as much as you can. Upskill yourself with programs, software, and systems to make your work easier. When your client needs something you already have a system in place to share information, work and progress effectively and timely. Visit app stores www.udemy.com for 1000s of quick online programs.
Be aware of their likes and dislikes:
The quickest way to understand your client is to take note of every conversation early on. Make sure to ask them what times are best to communicate with them. If you realize they are not very effective with communication, still give them timely updates. As a business owner, I love to know what is going on in my business. And even if the client does not acknowledge your updates, emails, calls or any communications, still do it, maybe they are just really bad at communicating. I am sure they still appreciates the effort. If the client gets difficult about a certain subject or matter, note that. Try to avoid such mistakes in the future. And always remember it is their business, respect their authority.
Be calm and focused:
One of my clients is very artistic and jumps around between topics and tasks. After every conversation, it felt like a freight train hit me, and yes, I made many mistakes because of that. I am a left brain, structure person, and she is more of right brain, imaginative person. I had to find a middle way to make sure I understood all the tasks and projects she gave.
The following easy steps helped me cope:
- Always take notes with every conversation, even if some of the notes seem mundane, it will probably help in the future. If I can, I put my client on speaker phone and record all conversations (always with the client`s consent). Afterward, I can play it back if needed.
- Make a “to do list”, and strikethrough when or delete that email from your inbox if the task is finished. These 2 practical ways can help you make sure that tasks are not missed between the hustle and bustle.
- Find a filing system that works for you. If your paperwork and filing system is out of whack, you will struggle to find something you are looking for. Learn online from Wikihow to do almost anything, even filing (Arrange a filing system)
Do not take it personal:
Every one of us differ. We can misunderstand each other very quickly and situations can escalate into something that was never meant to be. Once I got very upset with one of my clients about something silly he mailed me about. I read that email while I was very tired, and responded with a very stupid, sarcastic reply. Our relationship turned sour and I struggled for a long time to mend the situation. One year later and we are back on track. But all of this could have been avoided if I just left that email un-replied. Yes, he is still difficult and micromanages everyone, but I realized his company, his monkey, not my circus. Meaning by this is not to take it personal. Let the client make the decisions, you can still give your advice, but at the end rest by their decision. Sometimes when someone is not happy with themselves they also react out in a certain way. Remember, it is not about you, it is about them. Stay calm if you feel offended, and take yourself away from the situation, kindly get back to them later. You can never fight fire with fire.
If the client seems to be difficult all the time try these techniques to calm the situation:
- Stay on top of your work and give the client frequent status updates.
- Never complain to the client about their negativity, rather find a friend outside of work to blow off to.
- Maybe your client/boss is going through a very tough situation, try to stay calm and collective, and give it time, the season will probably pass.
- If your client/boss is rude and not in joint with your values, speak up immediately in a soft manner. If they cannot understand your frustrations, it would be better to move onto greener pastures.
- I have learned over the years a situation seems bad now, but tomorrow it weighs less. Take a breather during the difficult situation, and get back to your client later when they are more relaxed.
- Maybe ask if you can help with something ells. Someone trying to do something different from what they are appointed to do, always leaves an impression.
Make sure you remain kind to yourself and to one another
At the end, you will still get paid for good work you have done, even if your client/boss likes or dislikes you. Be the better, more mature, respectful person and change their attitude with kind, collective words. Stay on top of your game and come up with innovative ways to do your job more effectively. Let them see why they should love you, because you love them, RIGHT?
In South Africa the practice of ‘Load shedding’ is when Eskom (South Africa’s largest utilities supplier) interrupts the electricity supply to certain areas as a last resort action to balance electricity supply and demand. This occurs due to a lack of electricity available to meet the demand.
Load shedding is now part of our daily lives and it’s affecting us whether we’re at home or work. It therefore makes sense to be prepared so that the situation causes us the least amount of frustration and loss of production.
Load shedding quick tips:
- Work in the cloud so that all your work is backed up automatically and not lost if you suddenly lose power.
- Unplug devices when the power is out to avoid damage from potential surges when power is restored.
- If you work from home check if the neighboring suburbs will have power so you can go work at one of the cafes. Most cafes have free wifi
- Charge electronic devices (cell phones, laptops and tablets) this may look like a no-brainer but very few people actually plan for load shedding. So, make sure you have charged all your devices before the scheduled load shedding.
- If you rely on a cordless phone, which would obviously be rendered inoperable during a power outage, keep your cell phone handy.
- Save your work regularly either manually or by setting up auto-save options in your software. If the power goes out unexpectedly, you won’t lose your work.
3 things that can minimise the impact of load shedding
Get a generator
You ideally need a generator to cope with load shedding and minimise the impact it has on your business. Having a generator on standby means that even if the power goes off for a few hours, your business can keep running. Decide which appliances you want to run when the electricity goes out. To determine the size of the generator you need you’ll have to calculate the total wattage required.
Know the schedule, don’t get caught in the dark
The first step is to know when your area is scheduled for load shedding. Having the latest load shedding schedules for your area gives you a better idea of when load shedding is likely to affect your business. I’ve found this app to be very useful and reliable. (Timetable)
There are various devices available to protect your electrical equipment from surges when the supply voltage fluctuates.
Unfortunately, it looks like load shedding is here to stay, at least for the next few years. This means that you will be affected to some degree. Whether it causes your business to succumb or not is up to you. Losing power doesn’t necessarily mean losing productivity.