The top 3 things to do in Gauteng, with young children!
Having 2 young girls who are as active as they are vocal about what they want, like and need (their needs are more like wants, but to them it’s a need) means that I need to ensure that there is always something fun and exciting, active and hopefully educational for them to do!
Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens
Just this past weekend, with winter on its way, I decided that some fresh air was just the thing we all needed. Along with a great friend and her two young children we set off for the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens. The goal was to hike to the top of the water falls. I remember this hike, from back in the day, however on this day I was put to shame by a 4 and 6-year-old, who led the charge up the precarious 3.5 km hike to the water fall. This hike was not what I recalled, and though the struggles were real for me, not having exercised in longer than I can remember, the fun, the perseverance I saw in these young children reminded me that giving up was not an option!! This fun journey should be one that everyone should try at least once. The tranquil gardens, the educational aspect, the fresh air and the quality of time spent with my daughters was an amazing experience.
Second on our list is the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa otherwise known as the Pretoria Zoo. What can I say but WOW. Animals for Africa, huge. A great time out for the entire family! My daughters were able to spot animals all over the place! Unlike the Johannesburg Zoo which feels very run down and desolate, you will find every animal imaginable!! Even the Kangaroo! and leopards, Guerrilla’s, tigers. A fun time, also walked for hours, a gold cart may have been better, but the chance to spend that time enjoying the looks on their faces was the highlight of my day. Revisits are definitely in the cards!
For the young at heart where coordination is not a problem, we Roll eGoli! Roll skating! Not for the feint hearted as demonstrated by myself, where my butt was more on the rink than my roller skates. An immensely fun time, learning a new skill, the music is great, the friendly staff are amazing and the pizza to die for! Parties, or just a casual visit will have you revisiting the 80’s!
I’ve learnt the hard way that trying to find things that we all enjoy need not be the most exhaustive thing to do! With google only a tap away, and my daughters eager and excited faces as we head off on yet another awesome journey is worth more than words can ever tell!
And I did have an ice-cream or 2! How can I not!
Wicked Websites and Savvy Social Media Presence sets apart excellent small businesses from merely average small businesses
Be excellent, not average!
It’s no secret that in our current digital economy, a bold website and a solid social media strategy is a ‘must have’, and no longer a ‘nice to have’. This is especially true for smaller businesses that cannot afford the more mainstream traditional methods of business exposure – such as print and television ad space – which both come with hefty price tags attached.
Technology, and in particular the Internet, has to a certain extent democratized the ways in which companies can market themselves to, and access potential customers who were previously only accessible to bigger, more established companies with big marketing budgets. Below we look at the two most accessible points of entry for small companies to market themselves to potential customers – namely, your company website and your company’s use of social media.
Consumers, especially younger Millennials who have huge spending power, are, as a norm, incredibly tech savvy and are accustomed to having their expectations fulfilled when utilizing online resources.
It’s vital for owners of small business to create an exceptionally responsive and interactive website to ensure that a world-class consumer experience is achieved every time someone visits your site.
A “dynamic” website (i.e. one that allows and encourages interaction with visitors) and personalizes the whole user experience, will add far more value to your business’s online presence than a “static” website (i.e. one that is more or less just a read-only site). A dynamic website can improve the reach, engagement and conversion rate amongst potential customers online – and that can ultimately improve your business sales and bottom-line.
Furthermore, a dynamic website will serve a business owner well when he/ she wants to analyse data pertaining to the demographics, interests and purchasing trends of the people that visit their site. This data is priceless, and gives valuable insight for a business owner to consider future marketing avenues and strategies.
The financial resources available to a small business is obviously a key determinant in the kind of website you’ll choose to build – dynamic sites typically need to be set up by a programmer or web developer – however there are different price points for the different “dynamic” features on a site, so choose features that are most important to you, and add on others in the future when you can afford to do so. Also, consider scalability and aftercare maintenance costs when deciding on your website’s features, start out with tools that are sustainable and that can keep pace with your business as it grows – after all there’s no use buying a Mercedes Benz, when you cannot afford to change the tyres on it!
Be sure to keep your visual brand, your message and your business style consistent when developing your website – curate a similar “look and feel” across the different elements of your web presence and your offline marketing tools.
Your Social Media Presence:
In essence, social media is about relationship building. So it’s best to start off by taking small, well thought out steps so that the process and journey does not become overwhelming and cumbersome.
They key determinants when selecting if and when to use different social media platforms should be informed by:
- Whether your target market/ audience uses social media or not;
- Whether social media contributes to the achievement of your business goals;
- Whether you have the time and budget to allocate to social media;
- Whether you already have a well suited person to be your voice on social media, whether you are willing to train someone in your team, or whether you want to outsource the function altogether;
- Whether your offline marketing tools can dovetail seamlessly with your messaging and branding on social media;
It’s also vital to select social media platforms that have an already established footprint and sustained market presence. This will be a far better investment of your business resources than new entrants to the market – choose wisely and prioritize the long term needs of your business over any short term popularity of the different platforms.
Lastly, make sure that you are using both your website and social media platforms to create a cohesive feedback mechanism that can culminate in a business transaction – your different platforms should speak to each other, entice further interest and ultimately encourage clicking through to your point of sale. Whatever it is that you’re selling, whether it is a professional service, a consumable product or a social benefit tool, make sure that your website and social media is set up to result in concluding that essential business or organizational transaction that is at the core of your business.
Spend a day in my life as an efficient Virtual Assistant
When I became a VA, the thought of working from home seemed idyllic. I mean, who wouldn’t enjoy being able to get up, go for a run and have coffee before firing up the computer? Not to mention being able to catch up with friends or wear comfy clothes all while tending to your family and work.
It didn’t take me long to realise that I needed to set myself boundaries and a routine if I were to be a top notch VA. I know that I crave structure and social interaction in order to be productive. As race walking has always been my go to “happy place”, I start my day with a 8km walk, breathing in fresh air and starting my day off on a positive note.
After a long walk I fire up the computer, whilst I have a well-deserved cup of coffee. For me the need to dress for success is vital, one cannot be productive if you do not dress for success, I don’t have to don a jacket and high heels, but being clean and presentable does wonders for one’s self esteem and allows me to feel motivated throughout the day.
As I sit down at my desk strategically placed in front of the window, first thing I do is check my emails, as this will determine the type of day I will have. Normally, whilst the emails are loading, I look out of my window at my goose splashing in his pond and that is when I feel truly blessed to be able to work from home. I have found that setting specific work hours has helped me to establish my own unique work style.
I have learnt that I cannot be in front of the computer all day and I need to take regular breaks. Going out during the day, goes a long way to keeping me connected with the world, a trip to the grocery store or a chat to friends at lunch time always lifts my spirits and allows me to come back to my desk after lunch refreshed and ready for what the afternoon might bring.
Every day I have a “to-do” list that I strive to get complete, this ensures that I don’t procrastinate and I maintain a steady pace throughout the day instead of a mad rush at the end of the day. There is nothing as satisfying as crossing off a task on your list (“tick”). Working from home allows me be able to have dinners cooked and the house cleaned as this is all part of my daily routine. There is no greater pleasure than having the kettle boiled for when my daughter comes home in the evening.
It takes dedication to stick to a routine when there is no one there to hold you accountable, however, if you are committed and have support, a day in the life of a VA can be a wonderful experience.
For more information on Annie please visit our team page.
What to Outsource to a Virtual Assistant
One very important question you should be asking yourself as an aspiring or fully-fledged entrepreneur, is, how do I free up more time in my day?
By now you should be outsourcing all the little tasks that take up too much of your time and don’t have a direct impact on your bottom line. These menial tasks needs to happen, we know this. However, isn’t your energy and time as a busy entrepreneur better focused on developing marketing & sales strategies, on scaling your business and developing different verticals?
I want to highlight some essential tasks in this post that you can confidently hand over to your Virtual Assistant right now:
Task 1 : Data Sorting
This could be something as basic as capturing business cards onto a spreadsheet or a bit more involved like collating your emailing list with different categories.
Task 2 : Online Research
Perhaps you want a list of the best and most influential business books of all time. Or, you want to purchase an existing business and would like your Virtual Assistant to do market research on the feasibility of this business before you make an offer to purchase.
Task 3 : Proofreading
You could be churning out ebooks that it’s coming out of your ears as part of your marketing strategy. Get your VA to proofread these ebooks, looking for spelling and grammatical errors, checking that the document is formatted. She can even add your branding to the ebook.
Task 4 : Online Community Manager
You can hand over this task seamlessly to your VA. She will be responsible for updating your website content, managing all your social media accounts, writing content and giving you feedback in weekly reports.
Task 5 : Admin Support
This covers a broad spectrum from managing your diary to typing up voice notes, writing reports and presentations, and everything in between.
Remember, at the end of the day, you want your right hand person to make your life easier, create more freedom in your working schedule and a Virtual Assistant is the perfect person for this!
Why Outsourcing tasks will Build a Better Business
It’s the typical catch-22 situation, you’re between a rock and a hard place. You need more time in the day to work on building your business, however, you’re not sure about outsourcing essential tasks as you feel you’ll do a better job yourself.
I get it – I’ve been there, wearing all the different hats, trying to make everything work, trying to please staff and clients alike. And you know what? I very quickly learned the power of outsourcing, delegating tasks and taking ownership only of the things that I’m really good at.
So let’s allay all your fears when it comes to outsourcing and let’s show you how you can build a better business by hiring a Virtual Assistant to become an integral part of your team.
When is a good time to outsource?
Right now of course! There’s no better time than now. If you feel you’re drowning in the day-to-day’s of running your business, if you’re not getting to everything, clients are getting frustrated with you and your lead time, surely that should tell you when it’s a good time to start outsourcing? Perhaps you feel the budget is a bit tight, well then you’ve come to the right place. Virtual Assistants can work on an hour by hour basis or even a task by task basis. There’s is always a way to make your load lighter.
What should you outsource?
I recommend putting together a wish list, a list of tasks that you don’t get to during the day. Or let’s look at it this way, what tasks do you dread doing, those niggly little tasks that keep being put on the backburner as they are not deemed as important enough, yet they are essential for the success of this business you’re building? Simply put, these are the tasks that you need to outsource so that you can focus on the income-generating tasks.
How do you outsource?
Do internet research based on your immediate requirements. Find 2 or 3 reputable companies you would like to work with. Conduct an interview with each one, understand how they work, get a feel for their company culture. From these findings define who is the best person you would like to work with. Perhaps send them a trial task and see how efficiently they complete it. Use all this data to decide who will be the best match for you and your business.
Sometimes we’ve got to make tough decisions. Yet these decisions should always be to the benefit of your company and your personal life. Look at what will speed up the growth and development of your business and base your outsourcing decision on that. Good luck and let me know if you require any help screening your future outsourced team!