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Jul 26
The Cold, Hard Truth About Virtual Assistants

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Many small business owners seem to have their head in the sand when it comes to administrative repetitive tasks. Often they seem to feel the need to do these tasks themselves despite deep down knowing that this is hugely inefficient. At other times they simply cannot see past the illogical decision associated with employing a real-life personal assistant. There's every reason for every entrepreneur to engage in the world of virtual assistants.  

1. When It Comes To The Personal Assistant It's Time To Get Familiarity Into Perspective 

Flexibility and an ability to move with the times are two essential traits for any small business owner, or so you would have thought. But when it comes to this type of flexibility it seems that there is quite a lot of recalcitrance when it comes to the all-important personal assistant. 

A successful small business owner will long since have realised that it is impossible to move forward with any real expansion plans without some form of direct personal assistance. There are so many tasks that need to be done, the majority of which are relatively mundane and should not take up the time of the executive him or herself. These business executives or small business owners often look at the personal assistant as an essential "Man Friday." After a period of working with an effective personal assistant the business owner will simply not know how to proceed without this type of support. All those years of trying to go it alone in the past would be recalled with an element of regret. After all, just think how much further forward one would have been if this relationship had been kindled at an earlier stage. 

So, when it comes to that personal assistant a small-business owner can often appear to be slow to change when change is needed. An element of stubbornness will set in. Maybe it is something to do with familiarity, due to the fact that each and every day the business owner may walk into the office and see the personal assistant ready and willing to get to work. This by itself may be the reason why those business owners do not really consider the options now available to them. It really is feasible to get a virtual personal assistant today and to get that same level of support and productivity without many of the direct costs attributable to the real-life, in person assistant. 

During the past few years almost every business has seen changes in the way that it operates. Our ability to communicate virtually has changed the face of the business world and no matter what line of business you're in there is little doubt that more activity is being conducted online than ever before. Therefore there is no reason to be afraid of reaching out to a virtual personal assistant. In many respects this progression is simply an extension of the type of work that the small-business conducts online anyway. There are so many different ways to communicate virtually and many different ways of ensuring that information sent back and forth online is secure and readily available. The virtual personal assistant can be as present and connected as the "real life" counterpart. 

As more and more business owners become aware of the cost savings associated with employing a virtual personal assistant we can be sure that one way or the other each and every entrepreneur will be faced with a stark realisation; is it really necessary to absorb the direct costs associated with bricks and mortar offices and those associated personnel within? 

 

2. Why There Is No Need For The Personal Assistant To Be "Present" 

It is apparent that when it comes to a personal assistant some small business owners feel the need to engage a real life person in their offices, someone who they can shake hands with on a daily basis as they go about their business. Many of us crave stability and familiarity and there may be nothing as welcoming as that familiar face in the adjacent office each morning. You've simply got to have somebody nearby who is therefore by definition "in touch" with the heartbeat of the business. The personal assistant is one of the most important members of staff and one which many small business owners believe is simply irreplaceable. 

One of the main reasons put forward by people who think this way is a threat of "disconnection." If a virtual personal assistant was to be employed surely it would be impossible for them to be as connected as they would need to be. Things would start to fall between the cracks; they might not receive messages about important updates or last-minute changes. Heaven forbid if they were in a different time zone it might be almost impossible to connect with them and ensure that everything was on track as it should be. 

This type of thinking may be a way for the executive or small business owner to rationalise a level of thinking. Yet it is not based on solid judgment. In virtually any business operation a certain amount of communication must be conducted virtually. Just think how inefficient the business would be from any perspective if it was necessary to gather all the important people together for a meeting of some kind before any action can be taken. The same small-business owner who considers the "in person" virtual assistant to be irreplaceable will almost certainly conduct business via the phone, e-mail, SMS, online chat or social media channel with an array of different contacts and connections on a daily basis. There are a variety of different systems in place to ensure that all necessary security systems are current and that the data that flows back and forth is protected or made available as needed. 

When you look at it from this point of view it becomes apparent that there is no real need to have an "in person" assistant working behind the desk in the adjacent office. Once systems of communication have been established the small-business owner can communicate with a remote, virtual personal assistant who will take care of all the necessary business and day-to-day activities in an equally as effective manner. 

There are so many different first-class providers of personal assistant services. You do not have to choose an organisation or an individual who is halfway around the world if you don't want to. Sometimes you may find that for practical and financial reasons such a choice is appropriate, but if the opportunity to pick up the phone and talk directly to a virtual assistant during standard business hours is an important consideration, then that's the way to go. 

 

3. Why You Can't Really Know If You're Inefficient Or Not Without An Analysis 

Everywhere we look we are seeing a drive for efficiency. Waste is to be avoided and expenses have to be cut if the small-business is going to survive, let alone prosper. Today it's more important then ever to get maximum value out of the money spent on resources, whether it is the direct costs of running a business or the substantial costs associated with employing personnel. There's no room for uncertainty when it comes to handling these costs and every reason for the small-business owner to put in place systems to analyse where and why the money is being spent. 

There are so many different reasons for employing a virtual personal assistant, for example. Each one of these reasons has in one way or another a lot to do with efficiency, so it is somewhat ironic when one of the reasons put forward by a typical small-business owner – faced with the question about hiring a virtual assistant – is one related to efficiency. "I simply don't know how many hours work it should take to complete, so how can I employ a virtual assistant on an "as needed" basis, accordingly?" 

Before any progress can be made moving forward it is important to get a feeling for exactly what work needs to be outsourced. This will require careful consideration for the executive, who will almost certainly be surprised as the list grows longer and longer. These are all the tasks that should be delegated and many of them may be tasks that can be handled on an "as needed" outsourced basis. 

Just think how inefficient it really is to employ an assistant or administrator on a salaried or weekly basis. This person is being employed for 40 hours whether there is sufficient work to fill those 40 hours or not. Invariably this leads to massive inefficiency as a salaried employee may simply "expand" the time that it should take to complete a variety of tasks in order to justify his or her salary. Some people might look at this as cheating, while other people would say it is also human nature to a certain extent. After all, this is the traditional way of handling administration and is it really the fault of the individual employee if there is not an "exact" amount of work to fill an exact number of hours? 

In a drive toward efficiency this kind of operation of course needs to stop. Once that long list of outsource-ready tasks is complete a top notch personal assistant can be engaged to advise. The VA will know how long it should take to conduct and complete each and every task and can then agree with the small-business owner to take on this raft of tasks efficiently. A price will be quoted for each job through completion and there will be no need for the business owner to worry about an employee "expanding" to simply fill up their weekly timesheet. The more efficient the small-business owner can be in this way the more likely they are to succeed and go on to prosper in the aggressive real world out there. 

 

4. Why There Is No Need To Be A Micromanager Anymore 

Some small-business owners seem to be wary about hiring virtual assistants of any kind as they feel as if they're not in control. They do not know what the virtual assistant is doing as they cannot see them and they are simply not sure if they are working to their best ability, or not. This is undoubtedly something to do with the business systems of old. After all, not too long ago it was traditional to have a bricks and mortar operation with various desks set aside for people to conduct various administrative functions. There might be a supervisor or office manager who might report to the executive. Often these office employees would be seated in close proximity to the supervisor and whether it was meant to be this way or not they were all, indeed, closely supervised.

​Yet even though there was this close level of supervision, in theory, was the style of operation really efficient? Remember that the employees in the office were not hired on the basis of individual productivity, but were usually employed to take care of a number of routine tasks throughout the business week. It was very difficult to allocate an efficiency score to the performance of these individual employees, or to really work out how much each individual task cost in reality. Often it was all lumped into an "administrative" charge as a line item on any budget and very difficult to address when it came up to an annual review. 

Today it is more practical for us to consider just how much work is involved in each individual task on a very long list of administrative functions. There is no need to put up with the added cost of admin, especially when a virtual assistant can be employed to do each task for an agreed price. So long as the price is palatable to the business owner then it really does not matter how long it takes the virtual assistant to complete this task, as the business owner only pays that pre-agreed price. Of course it is within the best interest of the VA to be efficient from their own business point of view and this invariably means that they will tackle each task effectively and everybody wins across the board. 

Rather than worrying about whether a person is really doing the work it is more important to look at whether the work is engaged and delivered in a satisfactory manner. The virtual assistant should be engaged based on the type of work that they return according to the agreement in place. There are many different systems as well as some first-class project software solutions which are available in order to keep the executive or business owner informed. As a virtual assistant is only hired on a retainer or individual service basis then the potential for loss is mitigated. It's relatively easy to move on to select another service provider, but the performance capability of the outsourcer should be checked prior to any kind of agreement being implemented anyway. 

 

5. Why We Should Classify Some Overheads As Essential 

Sometimes there is really no alternative when it comes to delegation. You simply don't know unless you try. Times have undoubtedly been hard and it's been difficult for a small business owner to justify any kind of expenditure, let alone consider the employment of another individual. Yet while there are many additional costs associated with hiring somebody to work directly in your organisation, there are fewer risks associated with hiring somebody on a virtual basis to do work "as needed." The type of work that should be outsourced to this individual is the type of work that is holding the typical small-business owner back from expanding and becoming more successful. 

If you are so worried about your bottom line that you are handling many administrative and repetitive tasks yourself, as a small-business owner you are destined to fail. You simply cannot tread water in this manner and think that you're going to be as efficient as your competitors. One of these days one of your competitors is going to realise that they cannot prosper unless they hire a virtual assistant to take care of a lot of their workload. When this happens they are going to be able to free up so much of their time that they can concentrate on business expansion and not on that repetitive or administrative "stuff." 

When you really sit down and think about what you could be doing if you were not checking your e-mails all the time, handling all your travel arrangements, trying to balance those books and so on and so forth then it really does start to make you think. An entrepreneur should be the creator and not the administrator. Once you have created new lines of business you delegate the administration and operation to others while moving on to create new lines of business again. This is the only way to expand and become successful, but years ago it might mean taking on full-time employees as you grew. There was an added element of risk associated here due to the significant additional costs associated with pensions, insurance, office equipment and others. 

Today we have a much more efficient process available to us. As we discover that new administrative repetitive tasks are necessary due to newly arrived business we can discuss the situation with our virtual assistant team. They will take on the work necessary without any of the overheads associated with those full-time salaried employees. There's no need to worry about the efficiency of labour costs and every reason to engage and expand the virtual assistant team on an as needed basis. 

They say that a truly successful entrepreneur is quick to make decisions and slow to change those decisions. The sooner that the small-business owner understands the logic associated with hiring the services of a VA the better. There should be no need to second-guess such a decision either, especially when it becomes apparent just how much time has been wasted in the past. This is an expense that is simply essential if the road to success lies ahead.

Apr 13
How to build a long term relationship with your Online Business Manager

OBM 1 375.jpgWhile the OBM’s job is to make things easier for you, in turn, you should not be a drain on your OBM. You are the visionary, the queen bee, the leader and as such, you need to be effectively contributing to the success and growth of your business. 

This means you should respect your OBM and their time. One way to do this is to keep emails and phone calls to a minimum, preferably setting aside a certain day or time to communicate each week or month. 

Make sure you plan ahead for upcoming projects rather than waiting until the last minute to ask your team to drop everything & switch gears to meet your deadline. 

Respect their days off. You don’t want to be bothered when you’re on vacation or taking the weekend off with your family and neither does your OBM – no matter what they say. Remember, your OBM is taking the work load off your plate. You don’t want to become an added burden to them.  

Kill the urge to micro-manage. You are the visionary, the OBM is the manager. As long as goals are being met, there’s no reason for you to get in the way. Again, having measurable goals will allow you to watch how things are progressing and only step in when necessary. 

Building trust, giving them freedom to do their job and showing respect are three ways to build a long-term relationship with your OBM. 

Here are some more ways to show your appreciation & continue to build your relationship. 

  • A simple thank you is always appreciated. You’d be surprised at how little they hear this. Mail them a card for an added surprise. 
  • Pay them well. A good OBM is worth their weight in gold. If you’ve been working together for a while and are still paying the same as when you first started, offer them a raise or annual bonus. 
  • Talk about how much they help you to your colleagues and friends. Although they typically only work with a couple clients at a time, it never hurts for an OBM to have client referrals. 

Referrals can also be for things other than just OBM work. Perhaps you know of a contest that the OBM might want to participate in. Maybe someone is looking to interview an OBM for a magazine piece. 

If a JV partner is having trouble with XXXX and you know your OBM ran into this same issue and effectively overcame it, suggest your partner contact your OBM for advice (assuming your OBM is ok with that). All of these will help your OBM become viewed as an ‘expert’, something they will certainly appreciate. 

There you have it!

As you can see, you don't have to be a large corporation with a multi-million pound account to hire a qualified business manager. It just takes a bit of forethought, planning and of course, good follow-through.

Think you need an Online Business Manager or Virtual Assistant? Get in touch.

Apr 06
Letting go so your Online Business Manager can support you

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One of the hardest parts of running a business, especially if you’ve built it from the ground up, is learning to let go. No matter how perfect your OBM is or how great your support team is, if you cannot or do not let go and let them do their job, your business will suffer. 

Let me say that again. You must learn to trust your OBM so you can let go. It’s the only way your OBM can support you. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t be involved, but you certainly don’t need to micro-manage. Your OBM will care about your business as much as you do. They will not intentionally make decisions that would negatively affect you or your business. 

If you’re a control freak or think there’s only one way to do everything in your business, you’ll likely struggle with keeping a good support team in place. Nobody likes working with a control freak and to be honest, there’s no need for them to. There are a lot of opportunities for them to work with people who are willing to let them do what they do best – and with minimal hassle. 

If you cannot get past this on your own, you might want to hire a coach or mentor to help you through this stage.

Finally next week we look at how to build a long term relationship with your Online Business Manager.

Think you need a Virtual Assistant or Online Business Manager? Get in touch.



 

Mar 30
How do you find an Online Business Manager?

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As previously mentioned, you should not settle for the first OBM you meet, but instead find the right one for you. Here are some things to consider. 

Characteristics - What characteristics would you like to see in your OBM? Which are most important to you? Here are a few to get you started: 

  • Forward Thinker. They see the whole picture & offer ideas to help you reach your goals.
  • Self-Motivated. They are go-getters. They don’t wait until the last minute to start a project.
  • Takes Initiative. If they see something needs to be done, they do it.
  • Resourceful. If they don’t know an answer, they know how to find it
  • Organised. Disorganisation leads to frustration and potential mistakes
  • Good Communicator. Good communication reduces confusion and errors
  • Professional. They conduct themselves in a professional, self-confident way
  • Dependable. They ensure work is completed as requested
  • Trustworthy. If they cannot be trusted, the contract should be cancelled 

You may not find someone who possesses every characteristic on your list, but if the most important ones are covered, you can work with the rest. 

Personality - While thinking about characteristics, you may want to take it a step farther and consider the type of personality it takes to do the job. For instance, if your OBM will be overseeing other staff members, they’ll need to be a good team leader, be able to teach and have good follow up. Beyond that, based on your team members and customers, do you need them to be tough as nails or easy going? A timid OBM may not be right for the job if your team members need a firm hand and your customers are the pushy or cranky type. 

The thing to remember is that you aren’t looking for a mirror image of yourself, but someone who is easy to get along with and handles things in a similar way as you. While personality and characteristics may be difficult to determine when first contacting an OBM, as you start working together, keep these in mind while trying to determine if they are right for your business. 

Price - Online business manager rates vary considerably. You can find both great and not-so-great OBMs across the pay scale so price does not always reflect how qualified they are. 

That being said, if you hire an OBM who has been in business a while & is highly experienced or if you plan to have them oversee the majority of your operations, you should expect to pay a higher rate. You’ve gone to all the trouble of finding the perfect OBM for you so you won’t want to lose them by not valuing their service. 

Ask Questions - Unlike hiring an employee in a brick and mortar business, you may not have the opportunity for a face-to-face interview. Therefore, the only way to get a feel for the person is to ask questions. 

Creating a list of questions or a pre-written questionnaire will help you in selecting the right OBM. Remember, they too want to ensure you are a good fit for their business; therefore they may have a list of questions for you as well. 

These questions are simply to make sure work ethics; communication styles, etc. meet each other’s criteria. After all, if you want to touch base by phone on a daily basis and the OBM prefers email communication once a week, you probably won’t be a good fit. 

If you are unsure of what questions to ask, here is a list to get you started. 

  1. What are their hours of operation?
  2. When would they be available to start?
  3. How do they prefer to communicate?
  4. How often do they check their email & reply?
  5. Are they available by phone?
  6. What time zone are they in?
  7. Are they willing to do weekly or monthly planning meetings?
  8. Will they need anything special from you? (software, training material, etc)
  9. Do they have a list of contractors that they work with or is this something you need to provide?
  10. What are their rates?
  11. When and how do they invoice?
  12. What type of payments do they accept?
  13. Are they willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement?
  14. Do they require a contract?
  15. Do you have to commit to certain amount of time (6 months, 1 year, etc)
  16. Can they offer references?
  17. What do they like to see in a client/obm relationship?
  18. What are their pet peeves when it comes to work?
  19. Are there any tasks that they aren’t comfortable doing?
  20. Are there any holidays or blocks of time that they would be unavailable? 

Whether your list is short or long does not matter. The important thing is that you get your questions answered. 

Job Descriptions - Having a complete job description is important when hiring an OBM. It will save you time & frustration when considering potential candidates. It also clears the way for the OBM to quickly and easily transition into the new role.  

Locating an OBM - While virtual assistants have been around for 20 years or more, online business managers are fairly new to the playing field. The best place to look for an OBM is in your own inner circle. Have you been working with a VA for a long time? Do you feel they would make a good OBM? If so, you might approach them with the offer. 

Ask your colleagues, JV partners and those you network with if they have any recommendations. While they may not be willing to give you the name of their OBM, they may be able to recommend others or see if their OBM has any recommendations. 

Next week we will look at how to let go so your Online Business Manager can support you effectively.

Not sure how a Virtual Assistant or Online Business Manager can support you? Get in touch.

Mar 23
How to define your needs and communicate them to your Online Business Manager

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Hiring the right OBM is vital to a strong, healthy working relationship. You simply cannot afford to pick the first person you meet and assume they’re the right person for the job. The first step in finding the right OBM is defining your needs. This includes: 

  • Hiring for where you’re headed, not where you currently are
  • Ensuring you have measures of success in place
  • Knowing what to outsource & what needs your personal attention
  • Knowing who to hire for each aspect of the business (tech, marketing, etc)
  • Setting & clearly communicating your expectations for your support team 

Let’s take a closer look.... 

Your Vision - Having a clear picture of where you want your business to be in 6 months, 1 year or even longer is vital to succeeding. Once you have your goals laid out, you and your OBM can discuss how to get there. At this point, you have measurable goals that your team can work towards and that you can monitor to ensure they’re being met. 

If you get stuck on your long-term goals, you might want to consider hiring a mentor or coach to help you over this hump before you proceed with hiring your OBM. While your OBM may be talented, they aren’t mind readers and they certainly should not be making these important decisions for you or your business. 

Measurable Goals - While one of your long-term goals may be to earn 6 figures by the end of next year, you’ll want to have smaller measures of success in place to ensure you’re staying on track. These smaller goals may be things like having a new shopping system fully functioning in 2 months, gaining 50 new affiliates by month 3, completing 5 guest blogging opportunities over the course of 6 months. 

By having these smaller goals in place, the overall goal doesn’t seem so daunting. In addition, it allows you to monitor and measure how things are going so you and your OBM to quickly address any problems that may arise and find a solution to keep you on the path of success. 

Now that you have your long-term and short-term goals defined, you will be able to see which projects you can outsource and which you will be responsible for. 

What to Outsource - As mentioned before, the projects you should be focused on are things that only you can do, such as; creating a better connection with your customers and subscribers, building strategic alliances within your industry, expanding your reach to get your brand to new markets and planning for future growth. While you are working these growth projects, your OBM and other staff can handle the rest.  

Your Team - At this point, it’s time to hire your team. If you have worked with contractors in the past, this may be pretty simple. If not, you might want to focus on hiring your OBM first, and let them handle locating & hiring the rest of the team. 

This doesn’t mean you have to have a full team on contracted standby at all times. Depending on your business needs your team may consist of your OBM, a virtual assistant and perhaps a writer or tech person. If you only need graphics occasionally, you can have the names of reliable designers on hand for when you need them. 

To get the best service possible, you need to hire the right people for the job. If you need book covers or website images created, hire a graphic designer. If you need scripts installed, hire a tech person. Your OBM or VA may be able to do these; however, oftentimes they aren’t as skilled as someone who specialises in a particular area. In addition, it may take them longer to do the work, essentially costing you as much or more than going to the right person the first time. 

Communication - To ensure work is completed in a timely manner and to your specifications, you must be a good communicator. Even if you just work with your OBM and they work directly with everyone else, you need to be able to explain exactly what you want. When they can clearly see your vision & what you want accomplished, they can quickly get to work. 

Work with your OBM to create an operation manual for your business. This manual would outline how to handle customer support questions, sales, discounts and refunds. It would explain when you want to be directly involved with the decision making and when your OBM can take care of things. 

It might outline what your preferred colors, design styles, website templates, writing styles, etc are so you don’t have to explain it more than once. It can even include a predetermined amount of money that your OBM has permission to spend on outsourcing or other things without needing your approval. Once you have this manual created, your OBM will have the tools and information necessary to hire and train your staff.

Next week we look at how to find an Online Business Manager.

For more information on how a Virtual Assistant or Online Business Manager can help you get in touch.

Mar 16
When to Hire an OBM

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Knowing when to hire an OBM can be a challenge. Hiring one too soon may not provide enough work for them and may become a strain on your budget. Hiring too late can be disastrous if your business is already beginning to fail.

Here are a few signs that now may be the right time to hire an OBM. 

  • Organising and streamlining operations seem like a pipe dream. 
  • Your income has plateaued and you need help rising to the next level of success. 
  • You have a good team, but managing them is draining. 
  • You want to be the visionary not the worker bee.  
  • Incomplete projects are getting in the way of progress. 
  • A busy schedule forces you to decline opportunities. 
  • You’re tired of being “in charge” of everything.  

These are just a few things that signal it’s time to change your business role. Because you are unique, your signals may vary from other business owners. As you consider hiring an OBM, remember that shifting from the worker bee to the queen bee mindset is the quickest way to make positive changes for you and your business. 

Next week we will look at how to define your needs and communicate them.

Get in touch if you want more information on how a Virtual Assistant or Online Business Manager can help you.

Mar 09
What do you get when you hire an Online Business Manager?

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When You Hire an Online Business Manager You Get…
 
MORE TIME:  Who doesn't need more time?

The main goal of an online business manager is to free up your time so you can work on the things that only you can do. When you step away from the day-to-day operations and release yourself from having to oversee every piece of every project, you will have the time and energy to focus on business growth projects.

These projects might include creating a better connection with your customers and subscribers, building strategic alliances within the industry, expanding your reach and getting your brand to new markets and planning for future growth. While you are working on these growth projects, the OBM is handling everything else.

A TRUSTED PARTNER:  Essential to the relationship

Online business managers truly care about their client's businesses. They understand the overall business vision, are excited by the things to come, thrive on the day-to-day operations and strive to make the business succeed. They treat the client's business as if it were their own. In a sense, hiring a good OBM is like having a trusted partner invested in your business.

A DECISION MAKER:  Making all the decisions is exhausting!

Operating a successful business requires a lot of day-to-day decisions and oftentimes projects are delayed because business owners don't have time to handle them all. Fortunately, most decisions don't have to be made by the business owner. A good online business manager will be willing to make decisions on their client's behalf. This doesn't mean they will be making all of the decisions; however, after establishing a guideline with the client, they can certainly handle many issues that arise throughout the day.

COMPLETED PROJECTS:  A key component to bigger profits

Aside from the business owner, the OBM is the workhorse of the business. They spend most of their time planning, organising, and managing the tools, resources and staff within the business. Their focus is on ensuring things are running smoothly; answering questions, dealing with unexpected issues in a timely manner, and keeping projects on track so that business goals are met. The seamless transition from one project to the next allows the business owner to stay focused and the business to grow.

Next week we will be looking at when is the right time to hire an Online Business Manager.

Want more information on how a Virtual Assistant or Online Business Manager can help you? Get in touch.​​

Mar 02
What is the difference between a Virtual Assistant and Online Business Manager?

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Although similar in nature, there are some key differences between virtual assistants and online business managers. Understanding these differences will help you determine which person is right for your business. 

On average, virtual assistants have 5-10 clients that they juggle work for on a regular basis. They are responsible for completing individual tasks assigned to them. Online business managers typically have no more than 3 clients and are responsible for keeping the business running smoothly. 

Let’s take a closer look…

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As you can see, the role of an Online Business Manager is much different than a Virtual Assistant and yet, you can clearly benefit from hiring both. 

Next week we will look at what you get when you hire an Online Business Manager.  See you then! 

Want to find out more? Get in touch!

Jan 12
What Are Virtual Assistants and What Can They Do for you in 2016?

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In a traditional business office, there are many employees who can handle a variety of tasks. When you work for yourself, you don’t have this support network. This is why many online business entrepreneurs have virtual assistants, also known as VA’s.

Virtual assistants are hired help that work for you through the Internet. They can be located down the road or in distant parts of the globe. You have the world’s workforce at your fingertips.

The Pros of Hiring a VA

The main advantage of having a virtual assistant is that you can get rid of the mundane tasks that eat away at your time. Your VA can handle items that are unpleasant or difficult for you. They can also take over certain aspects of your business when you go on holiday. Some VA services are highly skilled in areas like web design which you may not be good at yourself.

The Downsides

There are a few disadvantages as well. Training and managing your VA can sometimes be a job in and of itself. The technology for communicating over long distances can be temperamental and there may be language or cultural barriers to overcome. Finally, you may have to give out sensitive information about your business that requires a great deal of trust.

However, your virtual assistant can handle so many of the different routine tasks for your business that the benefits usually outweigh any of the challenges.

Research and Finding Resources

A great job for your virtual assistant is to do research for you. You can assign them tasks to find specific information you need. Examples would be hiring your VA to research articles and posts that would make useful content for your social media marketing.

Email Management

There are many email tasks that your virtual assistant can take over for you. For example, they may write reminders to your clients that it’s time to pay or other routine communications. You can have them cut and paste these messages so that all they have to do is send. You may hire a VA to clean out your email inbox or sort messages into appropriate folders.

Social Media Management

Many people with online businesses hire their virtual assistants to manage all of their daily social media tasks. They may update your social media site, set up profiles for you, find people to connect to, or research your target market using social media.

Backlinking

A great task for virtual assistants is getting backlinks to your site. They may submit your articles to directories, a task that eats up your precious time, or bookmark all of your content on social bookmarking sites.

Full SEO Packages

Some agencies hire out virtual assistants who are trained in all different aspects of SEO. They may offer SEO packages that include a number of the tasks mentioned above.

Finding the Right Help

Almost all businesses need a virtual assistant at some point. It’s good to have a few picked out before you need them. That way, you can take the time to shop around for people that are skilled at the tasks you need done. Keep their contact info and then let them know when you need them.

If you are considering a VA to support your business in 2016 book your free consultation call now.

May 25
Do You Have What It Takes to Start a Home Business?

With the internet, it's easier than ever to start a home-based business, but still many people fail. Why is this? It's because it takes a certain type of person with almost fanatical gumption and incredibly thick skin. To start a home business, this is what you need (or need to learn).

Get Ready to Fail

One of the fundamental mindsets you have to acquire to work at home is that failure is a blessing in disguise. When you fail, you learn. When you fail hard, you learn something truly valuable that no book can teach you. Once you start on your work-at-home journey, you're going to be 'learning' every day.

In order to keep from cracking under the pressure, you have to develop the ability to bounce back quickly. You need to take an objective look at your failures and figure out what went wrong. It can take a ridiculous amount of courage to get back on the horse and keep riding every day.

Driven by Your Passion

How badly do you want to succeed in your home-based business? You need to be passionate about achieving that success. One way to assess your passion is to ask yourself whether you'd be doing this without the pay (partly because there may be none, at first anyway!). Passion is what helps you get through the tough times, even if these difficult times last a year or more.

Crazy Positivity

One thing that all successful entrepreneurs have is a positive outlook that borders on stupidity. No matter how bad things might get, you need to keep negative thoughts at bay. It can easily poison everything you do. The key to a positive mindset is to accept that things will work out one way or another, no matter what happens. Fortunately, positivity is something you can practice and get better at over time.

Disciplined or Willing to Try

To start a home business, you need to either be disciplined or willing to impose a little discipline on yourself. You have to set goals, formulate plans, stay on task, and stick to schedules. Sometimes, you'll get up early; other times, you'll stay up at night forsaking sleep. You'll often force yourself to work when you don't want to and with no time clock or boss urging you on.

If you totally lack discipline in any form, don't worry. You can acquire it. Lots of people have. All you need is the willingness to do so. It eventually becomes a habit.

Doing Your Homework

When you run a home business, you may have to do everything yourself. That's why you need to do your homework and learn all about the laws that regulate whatever business you’re planning. For example, you have to incorporate yourself and manage finances. Get ready to delve into all of this. It takes lots of study, but every person with a home business does it.

How do you really know if you have what it takes? There's one sure-fire way to find out. Talk to somebody who has successfully run their own home business. Have a chat over coffee and pick their brains. Don't expect them to hand you the key or show you where you'll find the magic button. Just listen to their experiences and ask yourself, 'Can I do that?'

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