The pandemic and the predictions of recession has small business owners worried about the future. Working remotely is a new model for many; and this has it’s challenges and complications.
Did you have days where you just don’t get to everything you need to before Covid 19 put businesses at risk? Are you feeling overwhelmed and stressed because you are spending too much time trying to run a virtual office? Do you need extra help and processes for working with a virtual team?
You may not want to make the commitment of having to hire a full time employee, but you desperately need help with planning and positioning your business for the future.
If this is you, then hiring a virtual assistant is your answer!
I actually had a new client the other day ask me this very question. I couldn’t help but chuckle because the Virtual Assistant concept, although already known by many companies and industries throughout the world, is still also a fairly unknown concept for many business owners. A virtual assistant can be defined as an independent contractor who provides administrative services to clients while operating outside the client’s office and who can access planning documents remotely.
Like any other employee you would hire, virtual assistants have different skills sets. Some are admin superstars, other are creative geniuses when it comes to putting together marketing content for your business and you even get those number crunching enthusiasts that are ready to come in and make your month end look like a walk in the park! Pretty awesome hey?
Still not convinced…
If your still not sure a virtual assistant would be right for you, here are some reasons why a virtual assistant is a good idea…
Less investment – Yip, you read right! No office space and equipment will save you a considerable amount of money
Saves Time – Recruitment requires time and money. A virtual assistant will be available as soon as you need them for as long as you need them.
Reduce Expenses – Again no office staff requires no fixed monthly salary and benefits, you simply pay for the work done by the virtual assistant.
Peace of Mind – While your Virtual assistant works in your business doing the things you simply don’t have time to or don’t know how to do, you are able to use your time focusing on what’s important to you. Giving you freedom of time and peace of mind that things will get done.
When you take the risk to start a business you put a lot of time and energy to make it a success. You’ve done so much already, so now it’s time to show yourself and your business some love and hire a virtual assistant that will help take your productivity and business to a whole new level.
As a business owner you want to make sure you are giving your clients the best service around … all the time! But it is human nature to let things fall through the cracks as we juggle a myriad of things, most times not purposefully, but it happens.
So how do you keep your clients happy, get the work done and keep track of what is going on overall in your business (and ultimately in your clients business)?
Project Management Tools
Using apps and software programs that can help you keep everything in one place and that can allow you, at a quick glance, to see what has been done, what is on hold and what still needs to be done as well as the timeline and so on is imperative in this day and age. Having effective project management tools in your business is the best thing you can for yourself and your clients.
Now, there are so many available out there, which one should you choose? That all depends on the type of business you have. Is your niche marketing, are you a graphic designer, website developer, customer service or a blogger? The type of business you have will determine which tool will best serve you and provide you with the outcome that desire.
In this article I am going to discuss two lesser used tools which specialize in the marketing space and the customer service space. CoSchedule and FreshDesk – Both are great project management tools for the marketing and customer service sector (and can be applied to many other sectors too).
Which one is the most beneficial for your business? Let’s find out …
CoSchedule is great for the marketing industry as it has a Marketing Suite built in with features such as:
Marketing Calendar – A global visual real-time calendar that allows you to see (wherever you may be in the world) how the content will look with graphics and text. This can be shared with the entire team. The calendar is customizable and can be changed as the business need changes.
Content Organizer – Imagine a triage for your content schedule and strategy. Prioritize things and shift as needed, all in real-time and allowing your global team to access it all.
Work Organizer –This one is all about your team. Help them reach their full potential, set deadlines, allow them to see progress and so on. This will alleviate bottlenecks and possible missing of important deadlines.
Social Organizer – Make templates so that they can be filled in and re-used, eliminate the busy work. Keep the workflow and work communication transparent and you can automatically set tasks and social plans and content that need to recur. “Set and Forget” is their motto.
Asset Organizer – Categorize the work at hand. Quickly locate and access and use the folders you need to get the work done, on time every time.
Overall this feature is perfect for business and enterprise. It allows strategies to be put in place, it allows for flexibility, it gives global real-time views so that a team can have access no matter where they may be in the world. Transparency and customization is also evident in this feature of CoSchedule.
If you are an individual or a startup, do not fret, you too can benefit from the Editorial Calendar feature of CoSchedule. These include:
Blog Editorial Calendar
Social Media Publishing
Re-queue Social Automation
You can organize everything in one place and schedule out content and articles without the headaches. The automation and integration features of the key benefits with this feature.
Is providing stellar customer service more your buzz? Then FreshDesk may take preference between these two project management tools. Let us find out more.
“Trusted by 150,000+ businesses”
That statement says a lot, there are many reasons as to why this statistic is the truth and here are some of them.
Convert emails to tickets – This feature allows you to take emails from customers and automatically turn them into tickets and respond that much faster. Never miss another email.
Intuitive Reporting – This feature is great because you track team performance and customer satisfaction.
Social Helpdesk – This is a brilliant feature as it allows you to take Tweets and Facebook messages and automatically convert them into tickets. You can now respond to customers anywhere, anytime.
Smart Automations – Automate the ticket assignment process
Seamless Integrations – Have everything your support team needs in one place with ease of access.
Knowledge base – Set up a Knowledge Base. This allows customers to possibly find the answers they are looking for, and therefore they would not have to wait on a response from the support team. For example, adding screenshots or links to changing passwords, or changing profile details and so on.
Overall, Freshdesk would be great for anyone who wants to create a seamless, effective communication channel with their customers and provide high-end customer service around every corner.
Is this you?
These two project management tools are by no means the only ones available, however they seem really great and capable of handling the tasks at hand.
As you can tell they both have different functions in the workplace, but that is not to say you would not benefit from both. Essentially, if you have a product or service that you offer, you need to have systems and processes in place (CoSchedule) and a customer service platform (FreshDesk).
For a comparison as far as usability and price points go, you can click here and get up to date information to help you decide on the way forward.
Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic that we are all facing at present I thought that it would be very appropriate to encourage everyone to find that place that you can call your happy place.
Do you have a happy place? A physical place that you can retreat to that grounds you and makes you feel peaceful and find balance. Finding your happy place sounds cliché, I know, but everyone has at least one. A happy place is a serine place that puts positive thoughts in your mind and a smile on your face. This is where we can be our true selves allowing ourselves to be present, casting aside grudges of the past and pausing our worries for the future.
Recharge your batteries
Everyone needs a place they can go to where they can step out of daily life and just relax. All of us need a place to recharge our batteries, where we feel safe and where we can do things that bring us joy. We all have that one place our mind immediately goes to when we imagine a safe and comfortable environment. It’s important to remember that your happy place mustn’t be something that uses up your energy,
I have a love affair with the beach. There is something about looking out over the beautiful endless ocean, feeling the sand beneath my feet, and smelling that fresh salty air. It never disappoints, rather it is always there to soothe my soul and dissipate my worries. With each wave that rolls in, comes calm and loving energy. It is definitely my happy place.
When finding a happy place, you need to have an open-mind and be willing to try new things. It is always good to experience new things alone. You will know if the place or activity you are doing brings you peace of mind and become stress-free.
How it benefits you
A happy place gives you the chance to be in your own little world, feel happy and de-stress. Whether it be with a good book, a movie, a meal, exercising or at a relaxing spot. You get to find out what really makes you happy and how beneficial it is in your life. A happy place can get you out of a bad mood or a bad state of mind.
Creating Your Happy Place
What kind of environments are you most drawn to?
Where do you feel most energized and alive?
Where do you feel most calm and at peace?
It’s somewhere you feel safe.
It has things in it you enjoy.
It has privacy.
You literally look forward to being there.
You feel peace and joy in it.
Take a few minutes to jot down a list of the places that always brings you the most pleasure.
It could even be that your happy place isn’t physically real, but a mental place you can go to when you need to.
I hope that these 10 tips help you find your happy place.
If you don’t have a happy place, dealing with your stress and isolation during these very trying times will probably be much harder. Stay Safe!
According to a recent article I read, women tend to credit having mentors as one of their reasons for achieving their goals. To be honest most of us have heard of successful entrepreneurs having mentors but somehow in the Virtual Assistant industry I noticed that we haven’t embraced this trend fully. This could be due to various reasons, though I believe a huge factor could be that we don’t fully understand the benefits of having a personal or professional mentor.
What is a mentor exactly?
The simple explanation is that a mentor is someone wiser and more experienced than you in a certain area, it may be personal or professional and the person may be older or younger than you. A relationship with this person helps you grow as a person, entrepreneur or Virtual Assistant or any area of your life you need to take to the next level. They will challenge you to reach your full potential, not only through words but by actively leading as an example. This is a clear indication to me that it’s important who we choose as our mentors.
The right mentor for me may not necessarily be the right mentor for you, and that’s why it’s extremely important that we make sure that we are compatible. Your mentor will often challenge you to grow and to step outside of your comfort zone and for that reason you should make sure that the relationship isn’t a strained one. Safe to say a mentor should not be a clone of yourself if you want to grow and achieve your goals. It should also be someone with whom you can build a trusted relationship and who’s expertise in their area will give you the edge to achieve success.
Who do I see as my mentor for 2020?
Let me introduce you to Jim Rohn. An American Entrepreneur, expert network marketer and motivational speaker whom I only discovered recently through a Virtual Assistant teammate of mine at VA Connect. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2009 however there are a myriad of books, videos and teachings of his available in the world of media for which I’m forever grateful. Although I can’t have him as a real live mentor, the teaching he’s left behind is invaluable. Especially for those that want to grow their marketing and sales skills.
Since 2020 is my year for improving my marketing and sales skills I am using lots of his material as growth medium. Believe me it’s challenging for me. Simply put, I’m pretty sure that selling something to your friends and family has to be the hardest sale of all. Yes, the hardest! You have to have confidence in your product or service. Remember after the sale you have to see that person, or deal with them, quite often, so if you’re selling them something and the sale goes south, you don’t only loose a sale, but you also loose a relationship. Sales for me is hard, sales for many of us is hard and the reality is that if we don’t have sales, we don’t have a business.
Take my business to the next level
I see a few things I can gain from my skills improvement strategy with Jim Rohn in 2020 and that’s firstly believing in your service or product enough, providing undoubted value, so that you would be willing to sell it to your friends and family. Secondly becoming so comfortable at selling that you can do it in such a manner that it adds value to those choosing to buy and those choosing not to still go away with a positive feeling for having had the conversation with you. Lastly for me it’s about using storytelling as a tool to build your client relationships, improve your marketing and sales vocabulary and building a business you love.
If you haven’t found a mentor yet for 2020, may I encourage you to try it? You will be amazed at the benefits in your personal and professional life. We can all do with some success!
Do thoughts like these plague you – “my client isn’t cooperating and doesn’t appreciate me.” “I wonder if my work is good enough.” “I feel isolated and not part of the team.” You are not alone! These thoughts pop up from time to time.
Here’s an example of a similar situation that I was in. I put everything else aside to meet an urgent deadline, which put a lot of pressure on me. When I reach out to colleagues there is no response or nothing helpful. In spite of all of this I do meet the deadline, but the only acknowledgement is dead silence. Not even email saying thank you.
I am good at what I do, but my work suffers without input. I know from experience that confronting my boss about this problem is not a good idea – but what can one do?
You need to communicate without being confrontational. I have slowly improved my skill at influencing the people I work with over the years. Here’s what I have learnt:
If you don’t talk regularly, schedule a call which aims to review and plan your work. You be the judge on how frequently you need to meet, whether it’s weekly or monthly or anything in between. Even though this isn’t a committee meeting with a formal agenda, send a reminder with the points you want to discuss.
Your own agenda
You are in charge of the meeting and you need to prepare. Do your own review before the all. Ask yourself what went well and where you can improve. List any problems you want to discuss and the solutions you will propose. If there’s something delicate to talk about I actually script what I need to say. It helps to keep me on track and tactful even though I don’t stick to the script word for word.
Give positive feedback
This is a perfect opportunity to report on your successes. Don’t be shy –tell your client how proud you of your work, whatever it is, for example that you met a deadline or figured out a faster way to accomplish a task. And don’t forget the positives. If something has improved, say so.
Nobody likes to hear about problems and let’s face it – this type of discussion can become emotional. Most of us don’t talk about these things. We hope the problem will go away and then they don’t. Deal with it before it blows up in your face!
Here’s an example of a problem I often have to deal with. Suppliers submitted their invoices late and I had to ask for payment authorisations in drips and drabs which irritated everyone concerned. And I had to cope with all those phone calls and emails about late payment. The situation was inefficient and stressed me.
It works for me to suggest a solution when I raise an issue. I asked for authorisation to tell suppliers that we would not make payment until our next payment run if we didn’t receive their invoices by our deadline and it worked! My client makes payments once a month and everyone knows what to expect by when.
If you don’t have a solution to propose, ask whether your client has any suggestions.
Show that you have your finger on the pulse
Do some research. Is there anything new on your client’s website? Have you read any articles related to the business or industry concerned? Share anything interesting and relevant and particularly any good news.
You don’t have to spend a long time on this. Do a quick search on the internet just before your meeting.
What are your client’s priorities?
The last item on your agenda should be more questions. Knowing what your client’s priorities are will help you plan your work and steer your efforts into the direction they want to go.
You will find that asking questions work very well for you. You will acquire useful of insights and information and your client will love it.
Above all, keep communicating. Ask your questions, be brave and discuss those difficult issues and focus on the solutions. You will demonstrate to your client that you are interested, focussed and positive.
And finally, keep it short and light – everybody enjoys a bit of a laugh!