How to Choose the Best Virtual Assistant for You

Shake on it

One of the most common misbeliefs is that a virtual assistant is not as good as the classic type of assistant, who comes to the office 5 days a week and works on a 9-to-5 schedule. This is false – the sole difference between these two types of assistants is that the first one works from his or her personal office and assists you, as a business owner, via phone, fax or e-mail. Here you will find several useful tips and hints that will help you decide on the most suitable personal assistant for you, along with the benefits of using such an assistant.

Main Benefits

One of the main benefits of hiring a personal assistant is that you do not have to offer him or her fixed salary – the salary varies based on the number of working hours. In other words, you can hire the VA for only a couple of hours instead of hiring him or her for 8 hours, on a daily basis. This is a cost-effective alternative to the traditional assistant.
Another benefit is that being self-employed and working from their very own office, VAs know how to manage a business more efficiently – after all, they have their own. This is a very important benefit that every business owner should take into consideration.

Tips to Choose the Best Virtual Assistant

1. Professionalism and Experience

Professionalism is essential if you respect yourself as a business owner. It is very important that the VA treats both the existing customers and the potential customers with utmost respect and offers fast, efficient and reliable services. When it comes to professionalism, one of the most important aspects is how often she or he checks the e-mail inbox. If you have an urgent matter that needs to be solved right away, will be virtual assistant be there to help you with that?
Experience also plays a pivotal role, as an experienced VA usually knows her job better than an assistant that is new to the field. Make sure to run thorough background checks before hiring a virtual assistant, and even ask for recommendations and track record before you hire one.

2. The Skills

Before hiring a virtual assistant, it is important to determine the tasks he or she will perform in the future – these tasks help you identify the set of skills that your future VA must have. Will the VA deal with e-mails and customer care, or perhaps he or she will have to arrange meetings and such? These are only some of the questions you must ask yourself before hiring her.

3. Availability

Last, but certainly not least, availability is another vital factor that should not be neglected – your VA should be there whenever you need her. Do you want to hire a virtual assistant that will work full-time, or part-time? Moreover, make sure to check the time zone before hiring a VA, as this might be a problem if urgent situations arise and you need them to be solved as quickly as possible.

In conclusion, these useful hints can help you choose the best virtual assistant for you, provided that you pay attention to them and use them in your best interest!

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How to Become a Virtual Receptionist

To begin, you need to familiarize yourself with the virtual answering service industry. Many live receptionist service companies serve a variety of different types of businesses, so a general understanding of how major industries work would come in handy.

virtual receptionist

To land a live receptionist service job, start by putting together a resume focused on any customer-service oriented positions you have had. A large portion of office answering services jobs focus squarely on meeting the needs of the customers on the other end of the line. Potential employers will want to see how you interact with clients over the phone and what kind of problem-solving and message-taking skills you possess for your answering message service position.

Next, when you are interviewing for an answering message service job, be as specific as possible in terms of how you will handle potential calls. While much of the time, you will simply be taking messages for the live telephone answering service, there are times where answering message service customers will give you problems and you may have to put your conflict resolution skills to the test. Potential live receptionist service employers will want to know during the interviewing process how you would handle such situations.

Once you land a job with an office answering service, you are supposed to adhere to the policies of the answering services company. There are several types of clients requiring varying levels of services and information, that is, virtual answering services are customizable. On one part, companies request only basic information like names, dates, phone numbers and addresses. While, on the other hand, more detail oriented clients have specific needs that needs to be addressed while answering calls on their behalf.

These requests are put under forms that provide the virtual assistant with a group of instructions that are required to be followed while attending a call. In some instances, you will be required to change the line of seeking information according to the responses to the caller, and this is where the true skills of a desirable virtual assistant helps him or her accomplish the tasks and obtain information in a pleasant manner without distracting the caller.

The information provided in your message needs to be accurate, concise and most importantly — correct. This is a huge tenant of a virtual answering service operator as people are making their callback decisions based on your notes.
Being a virtual receptionist is not a low-stress profession, as one would like to think, and it requires you to be pleasant all day long, under sever circumstances. Remember, no two personalities are alike, and the major problem with the virtual receptionist industry is that we receive all types of calls from callers with varying level of excitement and hypertension levels.

For instance, a doctor’s answering service is supposed to attend calls of intense negative energy levels, possibly from relatives of patients who are experiencing life and death situations. They wouldn’t sound sweet and sober, and as a virtual assistant, you are required to mop up all the relevant information in as little time frame as possible, without being too touchy or rude. However, this can easily be mastered with the right training, patience and desire to learn.

The live receptionist service industry is peppered with people from all lifestyles and offers a number of advancement and educational opportunities for those that are looking to turn a virtual receptionist job into a full-fledged career.

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A Wordpress Developer Is A Enterprise Developer.

To recruit for our clients are always looking for a Top WordPress developer to hire. To reach the highest position in the field of software development, a very difficult task readiness and calls for a mindset of continuous improvement.
University WordPress, WordPress is an online resource for WordPress developers enrolled at universities. The top of these budding developers to connect with them, read their blog, and gives them the opportunity to receive professional tips. Some resources that can start with the WordPress Codex, there are books and blogs. As in all areas, it is very important to connect with industry veterans know the tricks of the trade.

A WordPress Developer Is A Enterprise Developer.

To understand the art in the top WordPress developer, it is important to know the technology inside out. The first and most important step is to sharpen programming. Enterprise, when they plan to WordPress developer, always means PHP, MySQL rent and watch with great expertise in the code base. It is very important to continuously update the knowledge they already know about programming .. This is beneficial for the development make.wordpress.org discussion to follow.

Above all, he is a person asking for the outsourcing professional PSD to WordPress customization and development services, web development companies on the question of the discussion should. Hiring a professional programmer to WordPress WordPress powered blog powered website is the most reliable solution for design optimization.
Many web development companies in India full-time, part-time and hourly web programmers are offering virtual assistance. So, your website and hereby choose the right web developer, WordPress powered website to streamline the entire development.

In this scenario, the most important part of a website on the World Wide Web. Everyone uniqueness of your website will also be in the World Wide Web. This is necessary due to competition, raise many web designers and developers. Designers to design different techniques to create unique Web page. Content Management System the race is also increased demand. Available on the Internet in addition to various CMS, WordPress is the most famous. These days most of the companies prefer WordPress for their websites.

Strictly homework to practice is one of the most important aspects of software development. Constant trial and error, the master with a developer can do what he or she has learned. For example, if a developer is familiar with Ajax, then he or she continues to use Ajax in Plug-in Development should take the initiative. The same goes for PHP and WordPress APIs.

The inclusion of projects is not complete without learning the real-time work experience. Key to the work on a freelance or on a regular basis to customers beginner. Bovendien, the developer always a subject public building should be a plug-in development and debugging consider contributing a patch.

Lessons write as an integral part of a large community of developers can be very important way to be. Writing manual not only increases the visibility of the community of developers, but also for novice developers to start working on WordPress helps. Codex a volunteer in a developer the opportunity to improve the quality of documentation. One can only do this when developing a WordPress is already a pro. In addition, participants strongly forums and boot camps top notch in terms of someone among developers. A WordPress developer enterprise developer with a strong community and constantly looking for new ways to drive efficiency in development for rent.

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Are You Wearing all the Hats in Your Business?

When you’re in business for yourself, you wind up wearing a lot of hats. Sometimes this is essential, sometimes it’s a hassle and often times it can be extremely detrimental to your success.

wearing all hats in your business

The essential times come out of realizing that no one can look after your dream, your true desire, like you can. It’s important to remember that you need to be in the driver’s seat, you need to take responsibility and you need to hold the vision of what you desire… your dream… your business.

The times when wearing a lot of hats is a hassle is when you realize there are only 24-hours in the day, when you need to be in 2 (or more) places at once, or when you don’t have the guidance, support or info you need to implement an idea or strategy.

The times when it is detrimental (or downright dangerous) is when you try to design, build, sell, pack, ship and wear ALL the hats – all at once – while trying to build your business, help your clients, live your life and generally stay sane.

Every time Paige and I have taken a hat off by investing in our business (whether that’s getting support around a specific issue, getting a mentor or adding to our team) our business has grown by leaps and bounds.

That being said, we’ve had resistance…resistance to letting go…resistance to losing control…resistance to spending more money… resistance to taking off one (or more) of the hats…

But every time we hand a hat off to someone else or learn to wear it in a different way, we get to focus more on our dream, have more energy to express our brilliance and most importantly, have more time to help more people transform their lives and businesses.
It is so incredibly important to get support in building your dream. It’s important for you to realize, you are not meant to do it alone, sometimes, you are not meant to do it all. This means you are not supposed to wear ALL the hats.

Here are a few ideas and great resources where you can get the support you need:

* Look into getting a virtual assistant (www.getvirtualservices.com)
* Put an ad on http://www.getvirtualservices.com looking for a part time assistant.
* Reach out to a local college or trade school about getting an intern to come in and help you.
* Ask around … let people know what you need. You will be amazed at who may be right in your own back yard 🙂 There are so many people out there waiting, willing and wanting to support you and help you build your business.

One more thing for you to think about as you are deciding which hats to pass along to others is something one of our mentors shared with us when we first started building Authentic Marketing and that is to get support based on where you are going, not where you are. In other words, think about and plan for the inevitable growth that comes when you actually get support.

You have a big dream, you have a huge vision and you deserve (and need) the support of others to help you build it.
To paraphrase Henley, you are the master of your fate, you are captain of your soul. And now become the master of your vision and the captain of your business. Confidently wear your Captain’s hat and begin creating a team that can wear the other hats so you can truly shine in your brilliance.

Give yourself permission to grow by getting the support you deserve, so you can build the business of your dreams.
Your Authentic Assignment

Are you wearing all the hats in your business? Are you trying to do everything? Are you spending time doing things that aren’t your brilliance? It’s nearly impossible to build a successful business without getting support (especially for the tasks that you’re not great at).

Make a list of all the things that you do in your business that are not the core of your brilliance. These are the hats you shouldn’t be wearing.

Now the last step is often the hardest, but begin taking those hats off and get the support you need. Look over that list and begin brainstorming about who can help and support you around those tasks. Then start reaching out and asking for what you need. The support is there and once you step into it, your expansion truly begins.

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Does Hiring a Virtual Assistant Save Money?

Can you really save money by hiring a virtual assistant? According to virtual assistants’ websites, the answer is a resounding yes. As a matter of fact, money-saving is usually listed as one of the most important benefits of working with a VA.

Blog_Save-Your-time-with-VA

Check out a virtual assistant’s website and chances are you will find calculations pitting costs of hiring an employee against those of working with a VA. In this battle of cost-effectiveness a virtual assistant always wins, frequently by tens of thousands of dollars. But what if your business is not at the stage where you need a full-time or even a part-time in-house or virtual employee? What if you only need help for a few hours each week? Wouldn’t it be less expensive to do it all by yourself instead?

This, of course, is the issue of cash-flow and financial security. You might be thinking that since you only need assistance for a few hours a month that there is no point in bringing in qualified help.

Sure, you work long hours, but that’s because you’re still in the “paying your dues” stage. You might even be considering getting help just as soon as you sign up another client or reach certain sales volume. In the meantime, you’ll simply suck it up and forget about any time off for the next few months.

But let’s look at the situation from a slightly different angle. One of the reasons you started a business was to follow your passion, create the workplace and lifestyle that you have always dreamed of, and ultimately to make money. You did not plan on myopically focusing on daily tasks at the expense of the big picture. To make money, your business needs to run efficiently. If you have boxed yourself into a corner with overwhelming to-do lists and seeming unshoulderable burdens you are probably not enjoying your new business and not making the money that your vision demands.

All other tasks your business requires – bookkeeping, website maintenance, submitting press releases online – costs you money. This is true whether you do this work yourself or hire someone. It is true regardless of the size of your business, the number of clients or the sales volume. Understanding this is absolutely critical to successfully growing a profitable business.

Therefore, the real question is would having a virtual assistant work on these tasks will cost you less than if you do it yourself. Here is how to find out.

  • Figure out your true hourly rate

Begin by keeping track for a week or so of the hours you spend on bookkeeping, website or blog maintenance, social media marketing, research, article writing, data entry and other maintenance tasks. This includes time it takes you to learn how to do each task, open appropriate software, and mentally switch from whatever else you were doing. I suggest that you sign up for a free 30 day trial account at ClientSpot which is the client management software that we use to track tasks and hours. You will be astonished at the hours that you spend on tasks that could and should be outsourced to a highly
technically savvy virtual assistant.

Now add these hours to the time you spend doing paid work or business development and networking. You’ve arrived at the total hours you work on your business. To arrive at your true hourly rate, simply divide your weekly income by the total work hours.

You might find out that your true hourly rate is much lower than what you expected. Remember, it’s those easy-to-delegate tasks that drag your rate (and your real income) down.

  • Consider opportunity costs

Operating a business is always about setting priorities, but especially so if you do all the work yourself. Naturally, paid work comes first. Then – maintenance. Unfortunately, business development and networking take the back-burner
for many DIY entrepreneurs.

For example, you know that a newsletter is an important customer relations tool. Yet you are too busy to design a template and write content. You get so wrapped up following up on outstanding invoices that you forget to connect with prospective clients. You are too exhausted after yet another 14-hour day to write even a short maintenance post for your business blog. You are frustrated to miss yet another networking event but it’s either that or another night of working until midnight.

Every time you forget, delay or cancel you hand the opportunity to your competitors to connect with your existing and future clients. Even if you achieve short-term savings by doing all the work yourself, you end up sacrificing your long-term profits, not to mention draining the creative spark that propelled you into entrepreneurship to begin with.

Most businesses, regardless of size and revenue, can benefit from delegating work even if it’s only a few hours a week. Being a small business owner doesn’t mean you have to do all the work yourself. Instead, realize that many tasks cost money regardless of who does them. Delegate them to a virtual assistant and concentrate on money-making tasks like networking or building joint ventures.

Have questions about the Virtual Assistance Industry? Email them to me at info@getvirtualservices.com

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A brief introduction to jobs from home

WORK From Home

There are various jobs from home. This is a very new concept which is getting high popularity is recent times. People are doing jobs from home and they are earning handsome money. This concept has been developed very recently. This new concept
is really proved very helpful to house wives, retired persons and also for those people who are looking for additional income source. There are many such companies which are offering various working from home opportunities. As we already know that there are various companies which are implementing various cost cutting techniques. The implementation of these techniques will really prove very beneficial and fruitful to home based employees.

Home based employees are getting the comfort of home along with no pressure from boss etc. this is the main advantage of working from home and people are getting this advantage. This concept is becoming very popular and along with this concept another concept is also getting popularity and that is home based business scams. It is really difficult to find the legit one. Even people who are looking for part time jobs this are really very helpful to them. Though the salary is not so high but still people can earn money in their leisure hours.

There are mainly three types of jobs from home are popular. One is virtual assistant job, medical transcriptions and data entry. The data entry job is very popular and tension free jobs. Medical transcription job is telecommunication job and same like the data entry. This job is very responsive job in which one needs to be very careful while hearing dictations from the professionals. Generally the dictations are recorded by medical professionals and the medical transcriptionist transcribes them accordingly.

The job of a virtual assistant is highly respectable job. The work of a virtual assistant to help the clients in various field like marketing, technology etc. this job is one of the best in which people are getting the advantage of working from home without pressure from boss.

Today there are many such companies which are offering jobs from home opportunities to people. One can also find these jobs from various online sites. There are many web sites through which one can find working from home jobs and can earn money. Even people who are looking for part time jobs this are really very helpful to them. Though the salary is not so high but still people can earn money in their leisure hours.

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10 Steps To Fantastic Call Answering

virtual call answering

There aren’t many jobs out there where phone answering skills are moot. From service techs to attorneys, phone etiquette sets the tone for your entire business. That’s even more true for receptionists and live answering service employees who provide the first impressions for thousands of small businesses across the nation. If phone answering is part of your job (or if you’re just answering calls while your receptionist is out), try these ten steps to call answering success!

1. Start with a wow-worthy greeting.

If you work at a virtual answering service or are the main phone answerer for your business, you may want to suggest pumping up your greeting these tricks. Start out by saying “Good Morning/Afternoon” or “Thank you for calling” and end with an offer of assistance such as “How may I help you?” And, of course, always say the company name when answering the phone, so your callers are sure to know they’ve got the right place.

2. Ask a question to set the tone of the call.

Instead of leading with the impersonal, “What can I do for you today?” start with some pleasantries to get the call off on the right foot. “How are you?” is a trusty stand-by.

3. Add a personal touch.

If you know a bit more about your caller, instead of asking how they are, try going for something more specific. (“How’s your new house?”) A little warmth and interest lets them know you care!

4. Use expressive phrasing.

Substitute enthusiastic words like “Absolutely!” and “Of course!” for drab affirmatives like “Sure” and “Okay.” If you’re a receptionist or work at a call answering service, you may only have a minute or two to chat, but you can certainly make those seconds count!

5. Say your caller’s name. Often.

The sound of your own name is music to your ears; it’s also a great to play up familiarity. Of course, if you’re a virtual receptionist you may not know every caller by name, but using your callers’ names will make you seem like old friends!

6. Know when to say “may” versus “can.”

“Can” usually denotes ability whereas “may” is often used when asking politely to gather information (“May I have your telephone number?”). Using “may” correctly can make you sound more polished and professional!

7. Check in with your caller.

If you ever need to place your caller on hold, make sure they know you haven’t forgotten about them! A simple, “It’ll just be one more moment, Mary,” will make your caller feel taken care of while you try another line or get an answer to their question.

8. Say the magic words.

You mother wasn’t wrong when she said that “please” and “thank you” can get you far; slip one in at every opportunity and your callers will be sure to appreciate your courtesy!

9. Accentuate the positive.

Saying “no” is no fun, but offering to help is always a good call. Follow every negative with an offer of assistance: “Jim prefers to give out his cell phone number himself, but I would be happy to try his line for you and see if he’s available.”

10. End your calls gracefully.

Sign off with a friendly statement like, “It was wonderful chatting with you!” And if you’re a receptionist transferring a call, you don’t have to talk long to sign off with style: “Have a lovely day, Sharon! I’ll connect you to Jonathan’s line now.”

With these ten phone answering tricks up your sleeve, you’ll be sure to sound like a pro. You’ll be making great first impressions and setting a great example for your business in no time flat!

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Benefits A Virtual Assistant Can Bring To Business By Performing a Variety of Tasks

The concept of virtual assistant finds its roots in the phenomena of outsourcing. It is a concept that is experiencing ever increasing heights. Virtual assistance is popular among small to medium scale business owners and entrepreneurs, who in the midst of work load require a helping hand which can share their burden and help achieve greater productivity.

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A virtual personal assistant comes with numerous benefits and advantages. It all depends upon how the employer wishes to utilize the assistant. A Virtual Assistant is a dedicated employee who performs all the functions assigned by the employer. Therefore, it’s the responsibility of the employer to find the right virtual personal assistant for the right job or jobs. The lines below give a few advantages a virtual assistant can bring to a small business owner by performing a variety of tasks.

There is no debating the point that entrepreneurs are ambitious people, and they work very hard to establish and achieve their goals. However, it is also a fact that every person requires some time off, especially when it is regarding the holiday season. In such situations a virtual assistant is the person an entrepreneur requires. The virtual personal assistant would be working for the business owner in some distant part of the world, where the holiday seasons are different. Therefore, when the holiday season comes, the virtual assistant can take care of emails, mail, phone calls, and all other stuff which needs to be managed in the absence of the owner. Thus an employer can enjoy some leisure time, without compromising on the work.

The virtual assistant is a person working dedicatedly for the employer; therefore, a virtual personal assistant will always be available for the employer. Whenever, there is a need to perform any sudden activity, like replying to a client’s unusual email, or booking for airline tickets, a virtual personal assistant available would do it immediately. Hence, an employer needs not to worry about activities that arise out of the blue.

Administrative tasks are another specialty of virtual assistant. Most of the employers higher a virtual personal assistant to handle and manage their administrative tasks. Virtual assistants have degree in their relevant field, and a majority of them master in the skill of managing administrative tasks. Therefore, if an employer is traveling and needs a person to manage tasks like the mail dispatch, responding to the calls of customers and clients, setting appointments with prospects, managing calendar entries all can bet performed by a virtual personal assistant. Therefore, the employer needs not to worry about trivial administrative tasks, and could focus his or her attention on matters of strategic importance.

A virtual assistant can also prove to be a source of great help for an entrepreneur in business development and expansion. A virtual personal assistant can help you in doing research, developing brochures, content development, internet marketing, and all other business promotional tasks which a singular person can perform.

In short, having a virtual personal assistant can bring a variety of benefits and advantages to small and medium business owners. The variety and diversity of tasks which a virtual personal assistant can perform is what an employer looks for. Moreover, what is better than having an employee that performs multiple tasks, and not just a resource for performing one task only.

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7 Things Start-Up Entrepreneurs Need to Stop Doing!

Have you ever felt overwhelmed as a new entrepreneur? You know – those moments, when you are behind your computer wondering where the heck do I begin? It typically hits you on a Monday morning as the whole week looms ahead of you.

7 Things Start-Up Entrepreneurs Need to Stop Doing!

For those of you NOT working with a Business Coach, this can feel devastating – and it should! After hosting the retreat with my new entry-level clients last week, I saw the look of horror in their faces just after the first day when we spent hours covering the fundamentals of running a business.

I know that many women entrepreneurs have a passion and a purpose when they step into their business – but they lack business skills and have no idea about the basic requirements. I want to help you with that so you have a sense of what to stop doing and what to start doing.

1) STOP USING YOUR ‘HOTMAIL’ ADDRESS WHEN SENDING BUSINESS EMAILS.
This just screams ‘hobby owner’. Seriously. You are in business. Act like it and promote yourself according.

So START by getting a business-related email address and use that, if not a few. (and P.S. For those of you working from a home office, be sure that you have a ‘business message’ on your phone – and not a voice message created by your children.)

2) STOP WORKING OFF THE DINING ROOM TABLE.
When you get serious about your business, you will get serious results. Many women entrepreneurs struggle with balance between work and home. Well, no wonder! When you have your office located in the middle of the dining room, or in the middle of the family room in your home, of course you struggle with balance. Get real!

START by moving to another location in the house so that, at the end of the day, you close the door and get back to your life.

3) STOP USING YOUR PERSONAL BANK ACCOUNT FOR BUSINESS.
This bad habit creates total confusion with respect to tracking your numbers – which is something you must be doing on a daily basis. Your personal bank account is for personal reasons. Having a business bank account not only makes it easier to track revenue and expenses, etc. – but it also creates a mindset shift for you so that you begin ACTING like a business owner.

START today and ensure you get to your financial institution and open a business account.

4) STOP DOING EVERYTHING YOURSELF!
You cannot, and will not, grow your business if you keep doing everything yourself. It won’t happen. Why in the world, when you have a wealth of knowledge and a passion to get out there and be of service and grow your business, would you keep doing the equivalent of $15/hour tasks? It makes no business sense. If you find yourself filing papers, running errands, and doing administrative work – STOP IT!

START by getting some part-time help in the beginning. There are many options available to you – from hiring a virtual assistant for just a few hours a month (that alone will make a HUGE difference!), to finding a student intern which makes it a win-win for both of you. Just the ‘action’ of getting help and support again puts you in the business frame of mind. And, quite honestly, ladies – get yourselves a business coach who has a track record of success. No one succeeds in business alone. No One!

5) STOP THE MINDLESS SPENDING!
I see this ALL the time. Spending money on so many different things – web design, graphics, seminars, home study systems and so much more – all done without a plan, without a strategy and without a coach to guide you. These can be very expensive errors!! (I know because I did it too!)

Instead, START by working with your coach to create a plan and work the plan. Do what your coach tells you to do – check in with your coach for trusted resources. This will pay off significantly for you in so many ways.

6) STOP PROMOTING MORE THAN ONE THING AT ONCE!
A confused mind will not buy! I see so many new entrepreneurs – so very talented and excited about what they have to offer – promoting more than one business, more than one product and/or more than one service AT THE SAME TIME. STOP IT! It doesn’t work. You will confuse the market and, quite honestly, at the same time – YOU will be confused.

START by identifying your fastest path to cash – and focus on that and that alone. If it’s a product or event, then create the plan and market that like crazy. Stay focused on one thing. You will be amazing at the results you get.

7) STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO EVERYONE ELSE.
You have no idea where someone else is in their business. In public, everyone is wearing a mask and projecting a level of success that is often a fairytale. A common trap is to compare the inside of you to the outside of someone else. Listen – everyone has a different ‘speed of implementation’. Some people are working 90 hours a week –
others are working 15 hours a week – on their business. That alone is reason enough to stop with the comparison game.

START by following the plan co-created with your business coach, work the plan, and celebrate your own progress and success. That is all that really matters!

Starting up a business can be very intimidating, challenging and overwhelming. When you hang around mediocre entrepreneurs, you adopt mediocre habits. You are better than that. It doesn’t take a lot of money or cash flow to implement what I have recommended. It does take a strong and powerful mindset – focus – guidance –action – and great people around you.

When you take action and implement these basic steps, you are already making great progress. It will reflect in your business and there will be no stopping you!

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5 Tips for Being Professional

I am in despair!!! For the last few years – five at least – I’ve been trying to teach newbie virtual assistants about how to increase business, stay in business, keep clients happy and so on. By ‘newbie’ I mean anyone who has been in business less than 2-3 years. Forgive me for being blunt but if you have only been in business 12 months to 3 years you are not a veteran VA and you are still learning. I’d even go so far as to say you need to be in business for 5 years before you can wear that tag – given the statistic that over 80% of businesses fail in the first five years.

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This year I started the Virtual Business Show in an attempt to get this sort of information out there and readily accessible to everyone.
Today I had to yet again ’save’ the reputation of the industry because of the less-than-ideal way a client was treated by a VA I had referred in a round about kind of way.

Here’s what happened ….

I received a call from my Yellow Pages ad (an old one) from a client in the city asking me if I could help her. Unfortunately, as I now live in a regional area I couldn’t – in this case she wanted to see the person to speak with them about document production. I have a business ethic that I never leave it at that. If I can’t help a client I believe it is in not only the client’s best interest but also mine and that of the industry as a whole, that I try and find an alternative. So I use my networks and refer. Many VAs do the same.
I referred this client to a VA I knew and trusted in the city – who unfortunately couldn’t help out in this instance but who then referred her to one of THEIR network contacts.
So far so good, right?

I was absolutely dismayed to receive a desperate call from this client to the effect that she had been trying in vain to contact the VA she had been referred to in order to sort out some urgent amendments to the document, and couldn’t get her – did I have an alternative contact for her? (Which of course I didn’t because the VA who secured the job wasn’t the one I originally referred.)

I managed to get hold of the client this afternoon to check whether she had sorted things out and she indicated she finally tracked down the VA and has decided she will put the job aside until next week “when the VA may be better able to look at it”. What the?? I nearly had a fit! To make matters worse, this client was making excuses for the VA saying she had a couple of kids at home, she had some personal life things happening and “her head is probably elsewhere right now, understandably”.

I disagree. I don’t think it’s ‘understandable’ at all and is amazingly unprofessional of the VA – particularly that they shared their personal life story with the potential client as an ‘excuse’ for not getting the job done properly and making mistakes!

So here are my 5 top tips for being professional – when dealing not only directly with clients but also when taking jobs referred by colleagues (and there is of course more than 5 but these are the 5 that come up for me in this scenario):

1. Don’t take the job if you can’t fulfill the requirements. I don’t care how desperate for work you are. If you tell a client – or a colleague referring a job – that you are able to do the work then for heaven’s sake DO IT! If you drop the ball you’re letting not only the client down but the entire industry. In short – you make us ALL look bad!

2. If you have your mobile phone listed as your main contact ANSWER IT – ALWAYS! If for some reason it must go to message bank, ensure you have the professional Message Bank service. Don’t rely on those silly free services by telcos like the one where if a person rings their number is sent in a text to you. And have your phone set so that if you miss a call you are notified by an audible sound. And if you happen to be in the shower or something, check your phone – OFTEN! Assume people are ringing you even if they’re not.

3. Return calls from clients and colleagues the same day – within an hour of receiving the message at most. Don’t keep people hanging on guessing – and NEVER leave a client hanging wondering where on earth you’ve gotten to with their job.

4. Never view clients as a nuisance. Clients are a gift – they keep your business ticking over and without them you’re out of business. Treat clients the way you like to be treated when you’re buying a service.

5. You may be self-employed but you’re in business! Working from home for yourself definitely has advantages and gives you the opportunity to do things you would not have time for if you worked for someone else, BUT even if you’re looking after kids and it’s school holidays or you have to run Johnny to the doctor at 9.00am, you’re still a business. Make it easy for clients and colleagues to contact you. Have phone numbers and email addresses easily visible on your site. Consider not just using your mobile number (particularly if you don’t check it regularly), or have your home number forwarding to your mobile if you’re going out. Return calls immediately.Respond to email within 24 hours. Be at your computer regularly throughout the day. If something takes you out of the office, make up the time. Some more ideas are covered in my Saying No podcast – http://bit.ly/97DCij

And for heaven’s sake if you have a job on it takes priority – over everything else – except perhaps a child requiring a doctor visit if there’s no one but you to take them – in which case give the client a quick ring and let them know you’ll be delayed.
It is incredibly frustrating to be putting out fires caused by unprofessional VAs in an attempt to keep people coming back to our industry with work! This client was a professional person who is likely to use VAs again in the future. Potentially not this one but I had to spend 15 minutes of my time on the phone with her this afternoon smoothing things down and encouraging her not to abandon us all completely because of one less-than-encouraging experience.

Please think before you take on a job. If you don’t have the time to do it say so – there are others the job can be referred to. If you do take it on commit to it. Get it done above all else and remember – the customer is always right! If a client asks for changes, you do them, they send it back saying it’s not right and you go back and forth like that for a while – so be it! As a newbie unfortunately you don’t have the luxury of picking and choosing yet. If you’ve taken the job on there’s no such thing as the too hard basket. Taking a job means you’ve taken responsibility for pleasing the client. So do so. Because failing to do so means you potentially mar the reputation of the industry for the rest of us … not to mention you’re unlikely to get work referred to you again.

Being a virtual assistant means you work in a service industry. Service is a verb. You have to DO something to serve clients – but that’s also what keeps them coming back and turns them from potential clients, to clients and into advocates.

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