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
5 Interesting things to explore when visiting Cape Town
Welcome to Cape Town my hometown. Perched between the ocean and the iconic Table Mountain, which serves as a backdrop to the “Mother City”.
Table Mountain using the Aerial Cableway
The Cableway takes you to the summit in under 5 minutes and allows you a 360 degree full view of the city and the mountain. Go early to avoid long queues and wait for a sunny day or you may get lost in the fog. Everyone gets a fair view through the open windows, as the car rotates as it travels, so very clever, and amazing views.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
Situated on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch is internationally acclaimed as one of the seven most magnificent botanical gardens in the world. The 528 hectares estate includes a cultivated garden and a nature reserve. The developed garden displays collections of southern African plants including many rare and endangered species. The Treetop Path is an amazing treetop walking path that allows you to meander through the foliage, and peer down through the canopy.
Robben Island is situated about 10km offshore from Cape Town. The name “Robben Island” was given by Dutch settlers and roughly translated means “Island of seals”. It is accessed by ferries that depart from the V&A Waterfront. Many visitors come with some understanding of the prison, but seeing Mandela’s tiny cell and viewing Table Mountain from the island will give you a far deeper perspective than any history book could ever achieve. Whether you are visiting Cape Town for the first time or you are a local wanting to explore the city’s history, a visit to Robben Island is highly recommended.
Penguins at Boulders Bay
Just around the corner from the seaside village of Simons Town is the famous colony of African Penguins. Once called Jackass Penguins for their hilarious braying call. After you have fallen in love with the penguins head to the secluded Boulders Beach and take a swim in the comparatively warm waters of the False Bay.
Swimming with penguins at Boulders Beach, is a real thrill. A small public beach is set apart from the main penguin colony that resides here, but that doesn’t stop the penguins from sitting on your beach towel or darting around your legs while you take a refreshing dip in the Ocean. A boardwalk has been built around the dunes so you can get a great close-up look at the entire colony eating, breeding, preening, swimming, and chatting away.
Right in the middle of the bustling CBD of Cape Town you will find The Company’s Garden. Started by the Dutch East India Company way back in 1652, this beautiful laid-out garden provides a cool, leafy break from the city noise. Beside its green lawns, huge trees and cooling fountains and ponds, it’s all set about with fascinating places to visit.
The Company’s Garden is home to an overwhelming amount of fauna. There are the famous squirrels, who you can purchase bags of nuts to feed. There are pigeons, Egyptian geese, herons, and rodents, and there is even an aviary where dozens of species of birds can be viewed. I love feeding the squirrels, who will scamper right up to you for a snack.
How to Make Your Customers Feel Special
It’s a scientifically proven fact that the human nature is to want to feel important. Your customers are no different. As much as you may have other customers to attend to, each customer wants to feel like they’re your only concern.
It may sound selfish but it’s true. Think about, when you order a meal and it gets to you a little late, what do you do? You probably get frustrated and question the company’s customer service priorities. You may even head over to Hello Peter and leave a horrible comment.
In the same way, you must make each customer feel special so that you may keep them. Here are ways to do that:
- Send a thank you card. A simple thank you goes a long way. A customer will appreciate the fact that their presence makes an impact on your business. Many people are spending less due to the economic instability, but if they feel your appreciation for their business they may just come back for more.
- Send a birthday card. A customer will feel special if you send them a card on their special day. It will remind them that you’re constantly keeping track of them. You can send a card via email or post. To collect birth dates, ask for date of birth when your customers first sign up for your offering and then schedule an automated birthday card to be sent when their birthday arrives.
- Send a random message. This is an expensive way to make customers feel special. All you have to do is send a message via phone or email on any random date just to thank your customer and to ask whether they are still happy. You can even schedule these messages using a bulk messaging service.
- Buy a cup of coffee. Purchasing a cup of coffee and having it delivered to your customer is a great gesture of kindness, especially on a Monday morning. This also works well for long-distance customers that you don’t see often.
- Mention them on social media or a newsletter. You can mention a customer every month on your platforms, it will make them feel important.
That’s it! Five simple ways to make your customers feel special. Best part you can outsource this admin to VA Connect and our skilled team of Virtual Assistants. You don’t have to use all of them, look at the list and pick one or two methods that would work well for your business. For example, if your customers are in a different timezone, the coffee and mention would work well for them.
We want to know, have you used any of these methods to make your customers feel special. What other ways do you show that you care for your customers?
How to become a great Entrepreneur with the help of a Virtual Assistant
What makes a great entrepreneur?
“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” –Helen Keller
The great entrepreneur is one who not only knows how to connect with people but also knows how to delegate tasks that he/she can’t manage.
A friend of mine who owns a great family restaurant came up to me one day expressing how stressed out he was. He said, “I don’t know how other people do it, I just can’t find the time to do everything. On top of that, I’m really sucky at admin.”
I asked him if he ever considered hiring an assistant for his admin and he went on about how employment costs are so high. He would have to prepare desk space for this person, let alone the salary as well as benefits associated with a full-time role.
When I told him about the concept of a Virtual Assistant, he was so surprised that labour could be so affordable.
Yes, Virtual Assistants are affordable, and in some instances, they are referred to as a startup’s secret weapon.
What makes a great entrepreneur is not that they can do everything themselves, but that they can delegate administration tasks to an assistant and focus only on the income-producing tasks.
The Rise of Virtual Assistants
A virtual Assistant or VA is usually a self-employed individual or a freelancer that offers their administration, social, creative or technical expertise to assist an entrepreneur in his/her daily duties. These employees work remotely, usually from home.
Nobody knows for sure when VA’s were first established, but just like digitization, the concept evolved slowly until it became popular. It began when companies would set up call centre agents worldwide to manage time zones. Soon enough, entrepreneurs realised that hiring virtual workers has many benefits and there was no turning back.
When Should You Hire a Virtual Assistant?
If any of these are true in your life, you should hire one immediately:
- You hardly get through your to-do list
- Your mailbox leaves much to be desired
- You spend less time with family and more at work
- Admin annoys the living daylights out of you
- A flexible work environment will work for you
- You travel a lot and need someone to hold down the fort while you’re gone
- You can’t afford a full-time traditional employee
Benefits of Hiring a Virtual Assistant
People hire Virtual Assistants for many reasons:
- They are cheaper than normal labour, especially if you hire an individual who lives in a country with a weaker currency.
- You save on employee benefits as you don’t have to worry about pension, medical, tax and other related costs.
- There is no need for office space expenses as they work from their own home.
- There is a huge supply of professional Virtual Assistants and experts expect that 50% of the workforce will be virtual by 2020.
- Your productivity increases as you have more time to focus on more important tasks.
Where to Find a Virtual Assistant
There are many agencies that provide Virtual Assistants. We at VA Connect have an array of experienced Virtual Assistants as well.
To speak to us about hiring a Virtual Assistant for your business, click here.
Does my business need the support of a Virtual Assistant?
This is a question I’m sure all business owners have asked themselves at one time or another.
Even as a business executive or life coach, by introducing a Virtual Assistant to your business life, you can reap the benefits. How do I know this? Well, thanks to the constant positive feedback from my customers they make sure I understand how invaluable I’ve been in helping them run a successful business.
So now you need to ask yourself again, does my business need a Virtual Assistant?
Some important areas I can recommend looking at where a Virtual Assistant can be beneficial, are the following:
Bookkeeping: Keeping on top of your business bills and any bookkeeping matters can be one of the easiest things to assign to your Virtual Assistant. In this way your Virtual Assistant can follow up on outstanding invoices or unpaid bills.
Online research: You can easily outsource this time-consuming task to your Virtual Assistant. Typical requests usually include sourcing information on businesses, exploring new products or vetting new potential employees. Be sure to send your VA clear instructions and where appropriate user names & passwords for paid websites.
Database entries: Whether you’ve collected piles of business cards at different conferences or updated information for existing contacts, keeping databases up to date is a suitable task for a Virtual Assistant. Your VA can either create a client database for you or update your existing program.
PowerPoint Presentations: Summarizing research findings or turning raw data into a PowerPoint Presentation is a great time-saver to assign to your VA when prepping for meetings.
Email Management: To free up time in your day, your Virtual Assistant can filter your most important emails and respond to the rest on your behalf. This is done remotely, however, guidance needs to be given on how to pick out key emails. You can also ask your VA to copy the response to you before she sends it out.
Social tasks: These would include writing birthday cards or sending out thank you notes. A good Virtual Assistant can take care of this.
Scheduling: Your Virtual Assistant can manage your calendar for you, handling meeting invitations, scheduling appointments with clients and assisting in planning events.
The tasks that you can outsource to your VA are unlimited. The above is just a short list as examples thereof.
To determine where or how a VA can help you in running your business successfully, take a look at what part of your business you are struggling with and determine whether it would be beneficial to hire a VA to take care of it. Perhaps it’s the day to day planning, or marketing, or bookkeeping you require help with. Whatever you define your business needs to be, just know that there is a Virtual Assistant who can help you.