Tag Archives: business

You know your stuff, you have a comprehensive website, marketing materials and customers who depend on your services, but can you do more to earn money by sharing your expertise? Absolutely!
A targeted or niche business retreat may be the missing link in your business plan. Hosting a business retreat can not only help your current customers get to know you in a different genre, it may open the door to new customers who are looking for a more intimate approach to learning about your expertise and what services you can offer them.
When creating a plan for your retreat, there are many elements to think about and execute to make the experience enjoyable for both you and your participants.
As with all events, the success of the retreat largely depends on the preparation. Get this right and the retreat will not only give amazing value, but it will be an unforgettable experience for all involved.  Working with someone familiar with retreat planning is always advisable to help ensure success.  Many virtual assistants are skilled in planning, executing and providing follow-up assistance at the end of the retreat

Here are 5 important starter steps when planning a business retreat.

  1. When should you hold the retreat?
    Take into consideration holidays, and give yourself plenty of time to market your retreat.  Decide what months make the most sense for not only you, but your customer base.  There is no magic solution to picking the date, and it may take some trial and error, but think about if a weekend retreat would work better, or if doing it during the week will get better traction.
  2. How long will the retreat last?
    This is where preparation is key.  Think about your ability to sustain your energy level throughout the day, and ensure that the retreat duration is enough for the material you plan to teach.  You may also want to make sure your retreat location has other activities your guests can enjoy during any downtime.  This could include quiet sitting areas, hiking trails, a health and wellness spa, or workout room.
  3. Where will it be held?
    What ever location you choose, be sure to visit  it in person. Decide if you want a formal or informal setting.  A retreat is usually meant to generate ideas and mastermind discussions, so make sure the environment is appropriate.  Talk to the event coordinator and be sure you get everything in writing.  Be clear on lodging expectations, pricing, and food accommodations.  Nothing is worse than having unexpected surprises when your retreat customers arrive.
  4. How will you market your retreat?
    This is where a virtual assistant can be a huge asset to you.  Have them place Facebook ads, create email marketing campaigns, tweet about it using an appropriate #hashtag.  Advertise the retreat in popular online retreat directories such as http://www.retreatfinder.com and http://www.retreatsonline.com, create a video series that can be shared on social media, offer partial scholarship opportunities.
  5. Create a retreat program
    Determine your daily objective. Use graphics, charts and graphs if appropriate.  Be sure your branding and contact information is clear and included on the program.  Have this printed program available to all guests.  Make sure your powerpoint presentation (if you are using one) matches this program so that your presentation is cohesive.

Working with a virtual assistant is a great option for a busy entrepreneur. Working with anyone – real or virtual – is a dynamic situation where adjustments need to be made as the working relationship evolves.

We have worked with hundreds of VA and clients, and find that the key to success with any working relationship is having good communication and setting realistic goals.

Today, interacting with your virtual assistant is done using various electronic technologies. Setting up a virtual workspace for communicating with your VA is essential.

These technologies should include the following:
Email – let your VA know if you will be setting them up with a specific email address for your business, or if they will use their own email address to communicate with you. Determine a response time that is acceptable to you and your VA.
Live Chat– Skype or Facetime once a week or once a month if that will help you stay connected.
Document Sharing –Dropbox, Basecamp, and Trello are some options where you can share work and give instructions that can be accessed remotely.

Your VA’s output is greatly dependent on your initial orientation, and the systems that you have already set up, along with some training provided by you.

As your working relationship develops with your VA, you may need to be tolerant and allow for a learning curve. If you remember to communicate, give appropriate feedback, and provide the tools and the training necessary for the job, your VA should become a great asset to your team.

The month of November is always a time when we remind ourselves what we are thankful for. In business it may be a strong loyal client base, an awesome team of people who support us, a contract win, or even the fact that we enjoy doing what we do. For personal gratitude, it may be our family, our friends, or even the barista who makes our morning coffee exactly to our liking every time we stop in.

The thing about gratitude that is important to remember, is that it really should be something to think about and demonstrate all year long, and not just when the calendar reaches the month of November.

It is easy for all of us to get wrapped up in our daily lives. With the stress of deadlines, bills that need to be paid, phone calls or emails that need to be returned, and demands on our time, it is easy to forget about being grateful.

Expressing gratitude can be super powerful for a business. According to Randy Raggio, a marketing professor at the University of Richmond, in an article published in Fortune magazine in November 2011, “Gratitude motivates positive reciprocal behavior,” If a customer believes that a business has his best interests at heart, that customer is more inclined to develop a long-term relationship with the business.

The article also mentions that gratitude is an effective tool largely because “it is a precursor to developing trust,” and trust itself is an extremely powerful driver for loyalty, no matter the type of relationship. Just the same, gratitude is only valuable when it comes across as genuine.

So, as we move through this month, and towards 2016 , make it a New Year resolutions to add daily gratitude into your life, and let us know what happens.

A=Allocate
Allocate time to enjoy your summer.  What does that mean exactly?  It means all work and no play will make you a dull “boy” or “girl”.  Plus, everyone needs to recharge their batteries and summer is a great time to do that.  If you are thinking, “sounds great, but how could I do that, when my weekly business calendar is full?”  Start by scheduling down time on your calendar.  Just like you schedule meetings with clients, schedule time in your calendar just for YOU!  If the thought of that scares you, try and start off slowly with just an hour per week, and then move up to a couple hours per week until you can see the benefits.  What you do with that hour is up to you, but extra time in the gym, reading a book, watching a movie, or just relaxing away from the computer can be extremely beneficial to helping you recharge your spirit and your stamina, which in turn will benefit your business.
B = Basics
Getting back to basics this summer can also help your business.  Try and remember why you started your business in the first place, and how excited you were to get it off the ground.  Are your emotions today the same as they were when you made the big decision to move forward with starting your own business?  If not, try and figure out what about it is different.  Are you overwhelmed? Are you unable to do the things you need to do to make it exciting? Are you too busy with the minutia involved with running your business that every day seems like a blur?  Basic human nature is to try and do everything ourselves, but consider enlisting some help where it makes sense.  Try and think about what you can take off your plate,  and what you can realistically delegate. The goal is to get you back to that place where your excitement level outweighs the stress of running your own business.
C = Commitment
Sometimes making a commitment to yourself is harder than making one to someone else.  Isn’t summer a great time to commit to making a few changes in your life?  With longer days and more sunshine it is easy to put in longer work hours, but why not commit to using those few extra hours to reconnect with family and friends this summer.  Having positive relationships in your life will help you be more positive and energized.  It is easy to sabotage yourself if you start to feel guilty when you choose to miss out on things like family parties, dinner with friends, youth sporting events, or even grilling with the neighbors.  Commit to participating in a few if not all the summer activities you can with family and friends.  You will see that making a conscience effort to enjoy the people around you can be the best use of your time in the long run.

If you need help trying to figure out what you can delegate or who you can work with to give you a few extra hours in your day, we have a team of amazing placement specialist that would be happy to assist you. https://assistantmatch.com.

Are the stockings hung, is your shopping done, and do you have the party arrangements made? ‘Tis the season for a lot of extra to-do’s, commitments and social gatherings. Do you feel that the 8-12 productive hours of your day goes by too fast and by the end of each week, does it feels like the countdown clock is ticking faster and faster and your energy level is dropping quickly?

There are things you can do to help you stay on track.  Below are 5 examples of productivity tips, tools and delegation techniques. This is our gift to you!  Practice or use some of these examples, and you will immediately start to feel less frazzled and more in control of your day.

  1. Do you use Gmail a lot? Then you need to see this graphic with all the keyboard shortcuts that can make like a million times easier. It comes complete with visualizations of each action, for some reference of what you’re actually accomplishing. Source:Gizmodo
  2. Delegate! The more you hand off to others, the more productive you’ll be. If someone else can do a task, if you can show someone else how to do it or if somebody on your team can show someone else how to do an activity, then don’t do it yourself. Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking you have to do things because nobody else knows how. Source: Barbara Bates, Founder and CEO of Eastwick
  3. Some tools that can help you be more productive and save you time are:
    Evernote can change your life. If you have a bad memory, and don’t want to waste time trying to remember where you have stored something, you should be using Evernote. From kids artwork to family or business identification numbers, from shopping list to your next book project. Evernote is a place for everything and everything in its place.
    Hootsuite is a way to manage your social media account all in one location with a simple to use dashboard. Schedule your posts, engage with your followers, and set up filters to keep communication flowing easily.
  4. Two Minute Rule: A tip from David Allen is that if something takes less than two minutes, do it now. By adopting this rule, you will clear a lot of things from your To Do list very quickly. It also gives you a sense of satisfaction and achievement which only fuels your productivity.
  5. The first few hours of the work day can have a significant effect on your level of productivity over the following eight—so it’s important you have a morning routine that sets you up for success. You may have to attend to projects or discussions that rolled over from the previous afternoon—but try to treat each day as a fresh start. Source: Forbes.com

The world of outsourcing work to a virtual assistant is a very broad landscape.  There are so many options for a small business owner, and knowing what is right for you may be confusing.

Are you looking for a long-term relationship with a virtual assistant who you can outsource work to on a consistent basis?  Or, do you need a concierge-type virtual assistant to do small one-time projects like ordering lunch for a meeting, making dinner reservations or sending out thank you cards?

Does time-zone availability matter to you? Will you be outsourcing any writing or correspondence for your business? Is it important to have your virtual assistant understand grammar, and punctuation?

Once you determine what makes sense for you and your business, then you will need to figure out how much time you want to invest in finding, interviewing and working with your new virtual assistant. This is also a good time to consider if having your work sent overseas will cause any potential problems for you or your business.

A full service virtual assistant company, like Assistant Match, will do the following for you:
•    help you assess your outsourcing needs
•    write the job description that will be used to screen candidates
•    pre-screen US-based virtual assistant candidates
•    present you with the top 3 candidates

Many other virtual assistant companies will require you to do all of that, which is a huge time commitment and often something outside your area of expertise.

When clients have come to us in the past after going through some of the low cost VA companies, the main complaints they share with us are;
•    having to write their own job description
•    having to screen too many responses
•    not knowing how to work successfully with someone virtually
•    miscommunication between them and an overseas VA
•    no real business relationship

A full service virtual assistant company will provide you with more than just a virtual assistant.  Assistant Match offers a team of professional US-based placement specialists who provide an on-going relationship with both our clients and our team of US-based virtual assistants. This ensures the working relationship is as successful as possible.  But, in the event the VA/Client relationship doesn’t work out, than we find someone new and transition that person in as smooth as possible. The low cost VA companies do not help with that, which then puts the business owner back at square one and contacting us for help after lots of frustration and lost time.

We know that a small business owner puts their heart and soul into creating their company, building a professional reputation, and attracting clients.  Your business is generally a reflection of who you are and what you value. Professionalism, quality, and dedication is how a you want your business to be perceived by clients, investors, and the general public.  So risking your hard earned reputation is not worth saving a few bucks, is it?

Making the decision that you need help in your business is easy, however taking the next step to delegate the work out to another person is not as easy.  We tend to think we can do it all, but the reality is we can’t, and we really shouldn’t try to do everything required to run a successful business.

Hiring a virtual assistant to take some of the burden off your plate usually turns out to be the best decision you can make for yourself and your business.  But how do you find someone that will fit your needs, the culture of your business and relate to your personality?

The easiest way to do this is to start making lists that include the following information.

List #1 : business operations that you would like to delegate.
List #2 : business operations that you hate to do.
Is it book-keeping, marketing, online research, scheduling appointments, etc…?
List # 3 : professional skills that you want a virtual assistant to have.

List # 4 : your personality traits and what kind of personality you think you would work well with.
Do you want to work with a creative mind, an analytical mind, someone who is not afraid to share their thoughts with you, or someone who will just take direction and do the job?

Once you have your lists completed, the best thing to do is to work with a professional placement company who can review your needs and discuss exactly what your objectives are for hiring a virtual assistant.  You will want to be matched with professional VA’s who have been pre-screened for you. Someone that you know will be equipped to accomplish your goals and will be an asset to your organization.

Working with the right virtual assistant or virtual team can give you the time to devote your full attention to your business growth and development.  Investing the time to build the right virtual team will help you scale your company to the next level.

What helped you choose your virtual assistant?

Business events are designed and implemented in many different formats.  There are online events (webinars, & video training) and events that require a physical location, like a hotel banquet room, conference room, or restaurant space.  Executing any of these takes time, preparation and planning.

A virtual assistant is the perfect solution to helping you with the following tasks when it comes to event planning.

  1. Researching possible event locations or online tools, including catering needs room setup or technical requirements.
  2. Creating the marketing and publicity through social media, email marketing or affiliate links.
  3. Managing the registration process either through your website with 1ShoppingCart or through an online event registration page link through Eventbrite.
  4. Preparing any and all training materials, including Powerpoint presentations, marketing sheets, and take away items.
  5. Keeping you on target by creating or managing a checklist for facilities, attendee information, speaker needs, etc…

There are plenty of other details and prep work required when doing an event, but these are just a few to get you thinking about delegating some of the work to your virtual assistant,

As the event approaches it’s a fact that you can expect last-minute alterations and possible drama. You really don’t want to be dealing with those especially if you are the main speaker at the event or training.  You equally don’t want to be bogged down in trying to find a solution in terms of any event you’re planning. Most Virtual Assistants have far more dexterity and problem solving ability than you do in these situations, if you’re honest with yourself.

Virtual assistants skilled in event planning have experience in negotiations, online tools, and much more .Executing a successful event should be your goal, and working with a qualified virtual assistant can make that goal a painless reality.

 

 

Earlier this week we discussed the many different social media platforms businesses are using in their marketing plan. Updating your social media accounts, monitoring and responding to the engagement is key to having a successful social media marking campaign, but most of us just don’t have the time in our day to devote to one more task.  Having a virtual marketing assistant is an investment you need to make in your business now.

A virtual marketing assistant can:

      1. Pull content off your website, blog, e-books and training materials and create short concise social posts that lead someone back to your website.
      2. Update your social sites by scheduling posts using tools like:
        Hootsuite
        Buffer
        Social Oomph
        TweetDeck
        SproutSocial
      3. Monitor and respond to engagement, or notify you if engagement is needed.
      4. Set-up contests or promotions using 3rd party tools like:
        Upickem
        Wildfire
        Shoutlet
        ShortStack
      5. Research and share trends or information related to  help educate your followers about your business or services.
      6. Monitor your reputation management on review sites like:
        Yelp
        Epinions.com
        AngiesList.com
        MerchantCircle.com

Remember that social media sites like Facebook and Twitter help drive traffic to your website so that someone buys your product or service, joins your email list or makes a donation. Publishing useful content on a blog and promoting it through social networking also helps you achieve better organic search engine optimization (SEO) results.  Sharing tools on social sites creates a viral opportunity for your business that didn’t exist before the launch of social media.

Have you invested in your social media marketing yet?  Are you attempting to do it on your own?  How is that working for you?

A well-functioning team can’t function well if what’s important isn’t established.   As a business owner, it is important to relay the goals that you want to meet in the New Year with your virtual assistant or your virtual team.

Clear communication is the key to having a successful virtual team.  Schedule a conference call or Skype with them this month.  This kind of strategic communication allows your virtual assistant to fully understand your expectations and can alleviate any unnecessary confusion about your virtual assistant’s role in your plans.  You want to be clear about tasks you need help with and ask them for input on where they feel they can help you. Don’t forget that a virtual assistant’s role is to support you by accomplishing tasks that will help move your business forward.  If you VA isn’t privy to your business goals, than their professional input will be limited.

So,  schedule an hour  to talk with your virtual assistant or virtual team and let them know the goals, and the expectations that you have for making 2014 a prosperous year.