“We all need someone who inspires us to do better than we know how.”
Why do we have mentors? Why do we need mentors? What is a mentor?
This type of person is not necessarily in the lime-light or has social status, it can be the person next to you or even an equal. A mentor leads by example and is not always aware of the people following their example. By setting an example you are seen as a mentor. This is not always deliberately, but because of certain personal morals and values, you set an example to others. Being a mentor means exhibiting integrity and responsibility – inspiring and motivating others to reach their goals, being it in a business, or social environment.
Starting off in the business world, I was nervous and unsure about what to expect. I knew I wanted to lead my business by empowering and encouraging my employees. By leading in a positive and well-structured manner, you achieve optimal productivity and efficiency. A positive working environment will motivate not only yourself, but your employees as well. This will help them in gaining and building their knowledge. I want them to feel comfortable and respected in their profession. But trying to achieve this is not easy.
Luckily, I have a person in my life that taught me how to achieve these goals.
I do not even think my mentor knows he has influenced my life in such a way, but he surely made an impact.
Abe Beukes, the winemaker at Yonder Hill, needs to be mentioned, even if this is only for myself.
Photo by Daniel Naude
What Leading by example means
Having Patience and Endurance
Abe has taught me, if I want to reach my goals, I will need patience and endurance. Seeing the way he treats his employees and work closely with them, showed me how to lead my business in a way to create a positive environment. I strive to have an open, but professional, relationship with my employees. To do so I need to be approachable and listen to them. He has not only taught me how to lead my business, but even though I achieved one of my goals, nothing stopped me in reaching other goals. I strive to not only be a good leader but also to improve my own knowledge. In this manner I can help my business gain greater success. Having him as my mentor has definitely prepared me in building my own independent business.
Developing one’s self
A mentor prepares and helps you to not to make the same mistakes, but rather improving yourself in your business. Being part of the Virtual Assistant (VA) world, showed me that having a mentor is an important aspect in developing one’s self. Without this knowledge, it would not have been easy to start my VA career. In my life I have had many mentors. Each of them had an impact on my life. Amongst all of these people, only a few revealed to be true mentors. Working with all of these different people, I gained enough knowledge and experience to distinguish who I would like to be associated with. Abe is always open to answering questions. He shows patience and open mindedness and tries to put himself in someone else’s shoes when questions are being asked.
Although being a renowned winemaker, and probably knowing everything that needs to be known to be a good winemaker, he still attends conferences, workshops and lectures to widen and improve his knowledge. He believes in constantly upskilling yourself.
Influencing the people around you
Having said all of this, each person chooses their own mentor. You as a person needs to decide what you want to achieve and how you want to be seen, in a business or social environment. When I started, I decided that I want to have a positive and encouraging effect on people’s lives. I realised that my previous mentors could not teach me in a way to successfully achieve this goal. That is why I decided to follow Abe’s lead. Having a mentor like him and achieving my goals, I can also strive in being a mentor to someone else. At the end of the day you will never know if you are someone’s mentor, but by exhibiting integrity, responsibility and positivity you can make a positive change in someone’s life.
In bringing this together I decided to take these words from this Franchise Growth Partners blog, it perfectly summarizes the person I want to be in business and personally. It starts with a choice to be the person you want to be:
Be willing to share skills, knowledge, and expertise. Always demonstrate a positive attitude. Always try to take a personal interest in the mentoring relationship and exhibit enthusiasm in your profession. Try to provide guidance and constructive feedback so that you can be respected by colleagues and employees in all levels of the organization. Lastly value the opinions and initiatives of others and motivate by setting a good example.
Since it made its first appearance in the 1990s, blogging has come a long way. Blogging was first used as an online journal or diary to share a person’s own individual thoughts, feelings, opinions and experiences and it usually attracted just a small following. These days, blogging is a platform used by individuals and businesses alike and can be read by thousands and even millions of people worldwide. Blogs are easy to set up and update regularly making them an important and usually a low cost tool for companies wanting to stay in touch with their customers and followers.
Benefits of a company blog
Increases traffic to a website using links
Inbound links in a blog will direct readers to relevant parts of a website, increasing overall traffic or increasing traffic to particular pages.
Improves a website’s SEO
If a blog is regularly updated and relevant to your business, it is more likely to be picked up in Google and other search engines which focus on a website’s quality of content and frequency of posts. Blogs create an opportunity for businesses to insert keywords that are likely to be used to search for your company or brand.
Promotes a brand and company as an expert in the industry
By regularly talking about a subject in well written blogs, your brand will become associated with and respected in its particular field thus encouraging readers to go to your site for valued information.
By providing high quality content and advice in a particular field, a blog can help give readers/customers the confidence to trust the brand. Comment sections in a Blog are often read and if monitored and updated regularly, this can further improve levels of trust with potential and existing customers.
Creates sharing opportunities
Including a sharing option in a blog creates viral traffic via twitter, email, Facebook or other platforms. Free marketing!
To increase your company’s online exposure and to establish yourself as an expert in your field, blogging is a must! And remember, it doesn’t have to be written by the company director himself, it can easily be outsourced and written by anyone as long as they do their research and create good quality pieces that are interesting to the reader. In fact, it is advised that a company’s blog is written by several people to vary the writing style and knowledge base.
Set up your company blog with a few launch articles and see just how easy it is! Use a Virtual Assistant to keep it updated and fresh with regular new content.
Why Successful Entrepreneurs Choose Extra Help in Their Business
Nowadays, business owners are looking for supportive solutions for generating more profits. Entrepreneurs, who succeed in their business, perform two things very well:
They proceed with business objectives strategically.
They make utilization of the resources available and remain positive with the outcome.
As your business starts to grow, your workload starts increasing and at the end of the day, you think:
“How can I manage this pressure all on my own?”
If you analyse this situation well, you would understand that you need an alternative to hiring a full-time employee. So, what is the best option for you?
Seek help from a virtual assistant and achieve more than your expectations.
Wondering who are Virtual Assistants?
In the simplest sense of the term, virtual assistants are self-employed experts, who work for clients from a remote location. With specific skills sets, they can serve multiple clients and work on different projects. They work according to the specifications provided by the client and offer a wide range of affordable services. With their top-notch assistance, you’ll get things done easily and within the deadline.
So, Why Successful Entrepreneurs Choose Extra Help in Their Business?
VA’s push Business Growth:
You cannot work on all the tasks yourself. Having an “EXTRA HAND” on projects is essential to your business growth. COLLABORATION is a powerful tool that will take your business to the next level. Your business can flourish with strategic partnerships and shared interests.
Decreased Operational Costs:
By having a VA, you save expenses for office space, maintenance cost and additional expenses.
As a business owner, your important tasks can often get overshadowed due to your jam-packed schedule. In such circumstances, VA’s might come handy, as they can focus on several crucial tasks. VA’s can decrease your work-related stress, and help you keep everything organized. They make sure that these tasks get completed within the stipulated time frame.
Focus on The Core Operations:
As an entrepreneur, you need more time to focus on your core business functions. On the other hand, not everything requires your direct attention. You can manage it all by simply asking your VA to take care of your routine tasks. They would provide personal as well as administrative support, providing you with more time to focus on the most crucial aspects.
“Every successful entrepreneur knows that his or her achievement depends on a community of persons working together”– Paul Ryan
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
Tactics to Positively Overcome the Difficult Client
Irrespective of what industry you are in, there is always that odd difficult client that as a result of various factors can leave you feeling frustrated, angry, unmotivated and possibly even full of self-doubt. For some of us, the reaction to a difficult situation can be defensive for others it can be offensive which can have either positive of negative outcomes regardless.
Stepping out of your comfort zone to establish smart habits
The fact remains that there will always be clients that are a little harder to please than others, so the question at hand is, how do you handle those situations in a way that will have a positive outcome for both you and the client? Well, while in my previous role, I had done some research on the topic and I came across an article by Barbara Markway (Ph.D.) who has some excellent insight into handling difficult clients, which I will delve into a little further, but one of the factors she mentions amongst others is going about things in a way that may seem unnatural to you as first. What does this mean? Well simply put, we all have our ways of doing things, and sometimes it works other times it doesn’t but if your finding your not getting the outcome you want from a difficult situation – perhaps its time to step outside your comfort zone, try a new approach and create smart habits.
Some Tactics to be Used with the Client
Out of the many tips given in Barbara’s article, the following tactics on how to handle a difficult client stood out to me:
Listen & Stay Calm. Listening is the number one step in dealing with “unreasonable” people. Everyone wants to feel heard, and although staying calm can be extremely difficult in an emotionally charged situation, real progress can’t take place until the other person feels acknowledged. While you’re listening, really focus on what the other person is saying, not what you want to say next. I have often said to people in the past, “I know your hearing me, but are you listening to me? There is a difference”. Taking the time to really listening to what someone else is saying, can give you a fresh perspective and clarity on a situation at hand.
Reflect respect and dignity toward the other person. You don’t know what the other person is going through. Chances are, if a person is acting unreasonable, they are likely feeling some sort of emotional or mental strain for whichever reason and showing contempt will not help productively resolve the situation.
Saying, “I understand,” usually makes things worse. Instead, say, “Tell me more so I can understand better.” This for me was an interesting point, because I personally have often used the term “I understand” countless times with clients and looking back it wasn’t always well received, looking at this approach has given me a new perspective on how a client would possible react to the situation differently.
Saying, “I’m sorry,” or, “I’m going to try to fix this,” while establishing boundaries can go a long way toward defusing many situations. This tip can be quite difficult to follow when you feel your not the one in the wrong and are feeling defensive. Sometimes by being humble in the situation and saying the words “I’m sorry” or “I’m going to fix this” can completely diffuse a situation, and in turn can give you the opportunity to establish the hidden need. The client could end up disclosing what they are really trying to gain or avoid within the project/ task and positive outcome can take place for both parties. Having said that, you will also need to assess the situation, while some of the above tips have encouraged listening and letting the angry person vent, you also have the right to be assertive and say, “Please don’t talk to me like that.” if the situation is gets out of hand.
Some Tactics to be Used with Yourself
Handling a difficult client with some of the tactics, may be draining for you which would defeat the purpose of positively overcoming difficult clients, that’s what there are also a few things you should do:
Debrief. After the situation is over, talk to someone about what happened, take 5 minutes to make yourself a cup of tea or coffee and just allow yourself to process the situation.
Discharge your own stress. You had to put your natural reactions on hold for a while. Now is the time to discharge some of that pent-up adrenaline. Go for a run. Take your dog for a walk. Don’t let the emotions stay stuck in your body.
Give yourself credit for getting through an uncomfortable situation. It takes a lot of energy not to act like a jerk when someone else is behaving badly. Don’t skip this step!
Positive Outlook, Positive Outcome
Remember these tactics are simply guidelines to help you along the way. How you implement these tactics is up to you, and maybe they won’t give you a positive outcome every time, but its all about trying and keeping at it until you establish smart habits that work for you. If you do not have the time or cannot see yourself dealing with difficult clients that’s ok, perhaps consider getting a VA to deal with your Client Relationship Management and can implement strategies for you! I have seen how these tactics have worked for me, and to this day some of the best connections and relationships that I have established in my career have been as a result of a rocky start with some pretty difficult clients. The key to all of this however is to always have a positive outlook, and having said this I will end with a quote by Lailah Akita “Our reaction to any situation will determine the outcome”