Tag Archives: outsourcing

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.

Working with a virtual team is how our company operates. The Assistant Match team consists of amazing people who work in different states throughout the country in a seamless unified fashion. We pride ourselves on the fact that distance and time zones do not inhibit our ability to provide excellent customer service to our clients, smooth communications with our virtual assistants and a team of core professionals who are compassionate and respect each other. This is the structure for our business, but will it work for you?

There are 3 things to keep in mind when you are structuring your virtual team.
1. Will you be the leader of the virtual team?  
This seems like an obvious answer, but we work with clients who prefer to hire a virtual team leader, someone in charge of all the other VA’s. The virtual team leader will be the only one who gets direction directly from you and then they will delegate the tasks and the workload to the appropriate VAs. This structure works well for the business owner who prefers one point of contact and wants to be less hands on.
2. How many VA’s do you need on your team?
This decision will require a thoughtful approach that makes both business sense and financial sense. We work with business owners who prefer to work with one VA that has multiple skills sets, while others like to work with multiple VA’s that offer specialized services. You can have a VA  who’s only job is to handle your finances, another VA can provide all your marketing efforts, you can have a VA managing a calendar and email inbox, and another concentrating on your administrative tasks. There is no right or wrong way to build a virtual team, it really comes down to what works for you and your budget.
3. How do you know if your team is structured correctly?
Usually a team is structured correctly when the workflow process is being handled to your expectations, deadlines are being met, and both you and the VA’s are happy. Communication with your team is so important to ensure they know when their work is due and what to do if they can’t meet the due dates. And don’t forget to thank your team when they do a good job, and don’t be afraid to provide constructive feedback when/if there is ever a bump in the road. Being proactive instead of reactive is what you want to strive for.

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?

Don’t get SPOOKED by the holiday rush this year! Halloween is creeping up on us and then the countdown clock begins. Plan on being proactive and get some virtual help to delegate tasks to.  Wouldn’t it be a nice treat to really enjoy the holidays, instead of being rushed and stressed out about them?

Here are 5 ways to utilize a virtual assistant right now:

  1. Get current with your book-keeping. End the year with your accounting in order. Make it a goal to enter the tax season organized and confident.
  2. Prepare you holiday cards.  A virtual assistant can order custom cards, setup client address lists, print labels or even set-up e-cards to be sent on your behalf.
  3. Do an end of the year marketing/sales push.  Give your ideas to a marketing virtual assistant and let them create an email marketing campaign, setup 1ShoppingCart, prepare creative graphics, etc…
  4. Attend Holiday networking events.  This is a great time of year to mingle and spread good cheer while reminding people who you are and what you can do for them   Have your virtual assistant research local networking events and put them on your calendar.
  5. Prepare a sale if your product/services are especially useful at the end of the year.  A virtual assistant can promote your products or sale through your social media accounts, prepare marketing materials and help you write and send out email blasts.

Be sure to plan early for some holiday help, because it will be here in a blink of an eye.

 

No matter who you are, there are only 24 hours in a day to get things accomplished.  For a small business owner, most of those hours are spent working to keep their business running, growing, and staying competitive.  It is not an easy thing to do, and a smart business owner will usually realize that they can not (and should not) try to do everything  by themselves.

When the time comes to find help and delegate some of the daily job duties to an assistant, the first thing a business owner should consider iswhat are my expectations and are they realistic”.
Here are 4 things to consider about job duty expectations when delegating work to a new  virtual assistant.

  1. It is important that you have an idea of how long it would take you to do the same task, so you can have a reasonable expectation for the VA.
  2. If the delegated task would take you an hour to do, you should expect it to take longer for a VA to do the same task (until they understand your business and processes).
  3. An unreasonable expectation on a new VA will frustrate them (and you) and cause the initial relationship to go south even before it has a chance to develop.
  4. With some patience, time and reasonable expectations a virtual assistant can become a great asset to you and your company.

It’s not always a good feeling to know that your business needs help with digital marketing.  It can cause a lot of different emotions — hopefulness, excitement, dread, or even anxiety, but you know that doing nothing is no longer an option.

A website is not just a business card anymore. Everything you put on your website, along with your social media channels and digital activity, educates your visitors and contributes to your public image.  So making sure this part of your business is managed is important.

Unfortunately, writing and publishing takes time and not everyone is a born writer or social media enthusiast.

Here are a few suggestion to help you.

  1. Outsource the Work:
    There are many virtual marketing assistants that can do an excellent job either ghost writing for you, or taking content already created and repurposing it for online use.  They are also usually skilled in researching topics, or your competitors.  A lot of these virtual assistants have held traditional marketing positions, but have branched out into the digital marketing profession, so they often offer a broad range of marketing skills that can be utilized.
  2. Invite Client Contributions:
    Why not ask your clients to write for you occasionally? Ask clients for marketing tips, advice on how they built their company, leadership tips, etc. They’ll get a plug on your website and social channels, and you’ll get expert resources for your website.

If you plan to write your own website content, good for you!  But you can’t forget that web content needs to be linked on social media and then social engagement, commenting and moderation are vital in keeping your digital presence attractive to the search engines. The content writing is just the first step to having success with your digital marketing.

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?

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.

I recently read an article published on Entrepreneur.com that was titled 10 Things to Outsource to a Virtual Assistant written in December 2012.

Below is the Entrepeneur.com List:

  1. Online Research
  2. Bookkeeping
  3. Database Entries
  4. Data Presentations
  5. Managing Emails
  6. Holiday Cards
  7. Travel Research
  8. Scheduling
  9. Chasing Business
  10. Industry Knowledge Research

While I completely agree with the premise of this article about how using a virtual assistant can shave hours from your work week,  I think there are a lot more than 10 tasks that can be outsourced to a virtual assistant.  The outsourcing options are almost limitless.  A professional virtual assistant can perform general to advanced administrative tasks but there are many professional virtual assistants with expertise in a more specialized field.  The skill level of today’s virtual assistants is extremely impressive.

I am going to add to the list published on Entreprenuer.com  with 10 MORE options for outsourcing work to a virtual assistant.  And honestly, there are even more options than this, but these are the areas that many clients are seeking help with on a growing basis.

  1. Social Media Management
  2. Newsletter maintenance or management
  3. Website updates
  4. Blogging
  5. Event planning
  6. Graphic design
  7. Article distribution
  8. Customer Service
  9. SalesForce or E-commerce updates
  10. Personal Assistance

 

Keeping up with social media can get difficult, especially if you have a lot of accounts to deal with at the same time. Outsourcing your social media marketing can be the best way to keep your accounts active, engaging and relevant.

Here are 3 tasks a virtual assistant can help you with to maintain a strong social strategy:

  1. Pre-Writing and Scheduling Posts
    With the right direction and maybe a few examples, a professional virtual assistant can write posts or link to relevant articles that can be pre-scheduled using a social media management tool like Hootsuite,Tweet Deck, or Buffer.  This will ensure that your social reach stays active and your brand stays top of mind to your followers or fans.
  2. Researching Topics for Blogs
    Having someone research topics for your blogs posts can be the perfect task for a virtual assistant.  Most blogs posts can then be shared or linked through your social reach, which in turn can help drive traffic to your website.
  3. Monitoring Social Engagement, and Reputation Management
    If you are actively using social media or digital advertising to market yourself or your business, it is important to monitor your digital footprint.  A virtual assistant can take on that role, and respond to questions or comments, or let you know that a response is needed.   Having someone monitoring Yelp or other review websites can help you establish and protect your company’s reputation.

If you have reached the point where you no longer have the time to do it all and you are spending a lot of your business hours doing online marketing tasks then it’s time to work with a virtual assistant.