Wow. That title sounds like the beginning of a bad joke or a riddle, doesn’t it? We promise there is no punch line here; just a comprehensive breakdown of the core functions and subsequent differences between a Virtual Assistant, a Personal Assistant, and an Executive Assistant.
Besides the fact that we are all assistants supporting clients/managers with business/admin tasks, you will see that there are several distinct differences between the three professions. Read on if you’d like to find out once and for all what the heck the difference really is! Oh, and a nice perk? You will be able to clearly identify which support person will be best suited to assist you in your business! (*cough, cough* a VA is best * cough, cough*)
VA (VIRTUAL ASSISTANT)
WHERE DOES A VA WORK? VA’s work remotely from home/their own offices. A VA isn’t traditionally a client-facing role; however, a VA will often have a great deal of client interaction via phone calls, emails, Skype.
HIRING DETAILS? VA’s are independent contractors that you can start and stop using for tasks/projects as required (with none of the usual employee costs such as PAYE, KiwiSaver, Annual Leave, etc.).
WHAT KIND OF TASKS DOES A VA DO? Predominantly hired to help businesses with office support functions, VA’s can do the all the jobs of a PA; however, some VA’s are also versed with specialist skills like marketing, bookkeeping, writing, and graphic design so can help far above and beyond the areas of a PA.
HOW MANY CLIENTS DOES A VA SUPPORT? The nature of the VA role means a good VA could be providing regular, ongoing business support for 3-10+ clients, as well as completing one-off tasks for many, many more!
DO YOU NEED QUALIFICATIONS TO BECOME A VA? No, but you do need an excellent array of admin experience or other professional expertise. VA’s come from a huge array of professional backgrounds. As a client, this means you may end up with a VA who is highly qualified/experienced. (They may be qualified as a lawyer, accountant, or sales manager, but has changed careers for family/lifestyle reasons).
WHO ELSE DOES A VA WORK WITH? Aside from working with their range of clients, a VA either works alone, or they might work closely with other VA’s in the business to complete tasks (if for example, a task requires both graphics and content writing), but as a client, you will generally only be dealing with ONE dedicated VA.
PA (PERSONAL ASSISTANT)
WHERE DOES A PA WORK? A PA works in-house for a business where they report to/support a senior manager or department head/s. It tends to be a client-facing role, and sometimes they may be required to travel with their manager to provide in-person support on the go.
HIRING DETAILS? PA’s are hired (part-time or full-time) through a traditional employment process with a contract, a yearly salary, and all the usual associated HR costs.
WHAT KIND OF TASKS DOES A PA DO? Common operational tasks a PA performs each day include taking and directing calls; diary/calendar management and organising schedules; liaising with providers and suppliers to organise things such as travel, accommodation, meetings, conferences, and catering; and providing their manager/s with clerical support such as data entry, and drafting correspondence.
HOW MANY CLIENTS/MANAGERS DOES A PA SUPPORT? Typically, a PA would only provide comprehensive admin support to one manager; however, it is not uncommon for PA’s to provide admin support to two separate managers within the same organisation.
DO YOU NEED QUALIFICATIONS TO BECOME A PA? To become a PA, you don’t need any special qualifications. A PA can work their way into a role after getting exposure to a range of general administrative tasks in more junior positions.
WHO ELSE DOES A PA WORK WITH? PA’s may communicate with and work closely with a company receptionist or other PA’s to coordinate schedules and plan events.
EA (EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT)
WHERE DOES AN EA WORK? An EA works in-house (part-time or full-time) for a business where they report to/support a senior executive, CEO, or managing director. An EA tends to be a client-facing role and sometimes, like a PA, the EA may be required to travel with their manager to provide in-person support on the go.
HIRING DETAILS? EA’s are appointed (part-time or full-time) through a traditional employment process with a contract, a yearly salary, and all the usual associated HR costs.
WHAT KIND OF TASKS DOES AN EA DO? In addition to completing many of the same duties as a PA (but for a higher tier of management), an EA is often required to carry out a huge range of executive-level duties including organising board papers/meetings/agendas, liaising with stakeholders, or even assisting with financial and HR/recruitment functions.
HOW MANY CLIENTS/MANAGERS DOES AN EA SUPPORT? Typically, an EA would only provide comprehensive admin support to one senior executive/CEO, but due to the seniority of their position, they may take on a leadership role and oversee tasks and projects in other areas of the business.
DO YOU NEED QUALIFICATIONS TO BECOME AN EA? It is possible to work your way up through an organisation into an EA role, but many EA’s hold business administration/management qualifications.
WHO ELSE DOES AN EA WORK WITH? Aside from working closely with a senior executive or the CEO, it is not uncommon for a senior EA to have their own PA or admin support person to ensure the EA is free from tasks that prevent them assisting the executive with their priorities. An EA is also often required to liaise with stakeholders and an extensive network of providers and suppliers.
If it’s a VA that suits your business (keeping in mind a VA can also play parts of a PA and EA) please get in touch with us here at Virtual Assistants.
Attention small business owners! Yes, outsourcing is the name of our game, but we understand if you feel like you have things under control; that you don’t need to pay someone else to do it for you. While we don’t doubt that you do indeed have things running like clockwork, we would politely like to point out that your incredible talents are likely being wasted on basic admin tasks that a VA could do. If you’re still not convinced to outsource things that will free up your time to focus on more essential objectives (like turning bigger profits and growing your business) maybe this will change your mind.
There is something you can outsource that has the potential to pay for itself 100 times over; something so clever that you’d be doing your business a disservice by not looking into it. What the heck am I talking about? I’ll tell you! If you only ever outsource one task, let it be automation. Getting a VA in to assess your methods and systems, and subsequently making recommendations for tools and programmes that automate whopping great chunks of your business processes is INCREDIBLY SMART BUSINESS. How? I’ll tell you that too!
Something that we have encountered quite frequently with our clients is business support systems that are no longer fit-for-purpose. This inefficiency dilemma often comes about because the small business started very small and has grown significantly (in terms of staff, clients, or both). Managing the finances using an Excel spreadsheet or filling out invoices using a Microsoft Word template was fine in the beginning, but now that things have picked up, it has become an utterly ridiculous waste of what could be highly productive time.
You might be VERY surprised at the number of ways our VA team can help. Once your VA puts the new automation systems in place, in addition clawing back hours in your workday, you could notice other huge benefits. These benefits might include increased communication, a larger capacity to generate profit, faster product/service turn-around times for your clients, and vital insights into areas such as sales and marketing that could change the way you do business forever.
There are genius apps and tools for so many of the business systems that you use every day. From customer relationship management databases and project management solutions, through to bookkeeping programmes that seamlessly integrate with a host of other clever apps. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know which of your systems and processes are clunky and out-of-date either! Our tech-smart VA’s will get to the root of the issues in no time at all and can help you slice and dice away the dead weight that is holding your business back.
As Virtual Assistants, we often have many clients to look after, so our ability to get more done in a short space of time is vital. We are continually looking for faster, better ways of working to deliver service excellence and to free up our own time to fit in more clients. This relentless striving for increased efficiency has helped us build up a unique automation knowledge bank, as well as developing a set of expertise that you really can’t find anywhere else. Yes, we live and breathe efficiency, so automation is a massive part of the solution that helps us achieve this. It makes sense to us to share these game-changing automation upgrades with our clients because a less stressful, more productive world is better for everyone!
With service plans from as little as two hours per week, plus a range of one-off service options, why not take advantage of our automation secrets?
The benefits of virtual assistants have allowed many business owners and entrepreneurs to further their business while travelling. Whether you are employing a virtual assistant or are seeking a career as one, the joy, adventure and opportunities abound when working from the road. Aside from the remote-friendly aspects of working as a virtual assistant, or hiring one; there is a freedom it can bring to work/life and the endless possibilities on the open road.
Surprisingly, virtual assistants are actually quite affordable. However, you will get what you pay for. If you stick to a low budget, do not expect expert results. Here are some of the fantastic benefits when employing an assistant:
Find specialised assistance. It is very common for virtual assistants to offer niche services or specialise in one area. That way you can get expert help in your specific business no matter what industry you are working in.
Check off the to-do list while you sleep. Once you email the tasks, you can relax, explore, or take a nap as your assistant accomplishes the jobs.
Many services offer teams, which means you’ll never be out an assistant so you can keep your travelling schedule on track. As well, many services have team members that specialise in different skills. This way, you can outsource more and stress less.
Benefits/taxes are not required. You can also claim back the GST portion of the bill from your VA, making it simple, easy and less for you, as the boss, to have to deal with!
Now, after seeing the benefits of employing an assistant, it may seem like it can’t possibly be as enjoyable to pursue a career as one, but that is not the case. Working as a virtual assistant can be a very lucrative career and most definitely enjoyable as you will have the freedom to live on the road and travel as you wish. Here are some of the benefits of a virtual assistant career:
Cost of business start-up. To get started, you simply need a reliable laptop and phone. Make sure that you set aside a portion of income for taxes, but other than that you can typically get started with electronics you most likely already have. Which means you have more money to put into a campervan or home on wheels of your dreams.
Set your own rates. Typical hourly rates are $18-35/hour and depending on whether you are hired through a service or doing it on your own, you usually can set your own rates. Assess your skills/value and what type of budget your life on the road will need to help get an idea of rates you can reasonably charge.
Easily find jobs through services. Many services act as a matchmaker for employer and assistant. Working through a service can almost guarantee you will find a job. Upwork, LinkedIn, and Dream Home Based Work are excellent sources. Bonus-these sources are also remote so you can apply wherever your home on wheels is parked!
If you specialise in a specific area, not only will you be able to increase your income, it will also be easier for you to find jobs. For example, invoicing, social media, and research are all areas you can specialise in that are in high demand. These are also areas where fellow remote workers may need assisting so you could keep your career centred around travelling or the campervan life!
Regardless of the services you go through or the areas you specialise in, this career can keep you on the road, and that makes it a career option to be or to outsource worth considering!
Shelley Trupert – Outdoorsy
Find your perfect campervan, caravan or motorhome rental
Years before I started managing Virtual Assistant companies, I remember thinking that outsourcing work was something only wealthy business people could afford to do. The usual route of advertising a job and hiring staff seemed ‘normal’ to me, which inadvertently left me thinking that anything else was a bit, well, ‘out there’ to be frank! (Little did I know at the time just how wrong I would be proven to be!)
Speaking to a considerable number of business owners over the years, I discovered that many people held the same misinformed beliefs that I once had. They would tell me they’d love to use a Virtual Assistant, but couldn’t afford it, or that they were unsure of the benefits over hiring someone part-time, or just doing it themselves.
Although my job now involves demonstrating exactly how smart it is to use a VA for your business support and admin tasks (and we have hundreds of clients who get it!), I’m aware that many people still have questions. “Why should I consider using a VA service instead of hiring a permanent employee?”
For those of you on the fence about outsourcing work to a VA business, I’ve sat down and had a good think about how to illustrate using a VA service is the hassle-free, cost-effective solution you’ve been seeking. The following ‘versus’ table aims to answer all your burning questions!
Virtual Assistant vs. Permanent Staff
Hourly rate or flexible service plans mean you only pay for what you use.
Flexible working hours to suit your needs (only need someone between 1pm-4pm one week, then 10am-11am the next? Suits us!)
Harder to find a permanent staff member able to work super flexible, responsive hours that can change from week to week.
Get access to VA’s with a range of speciality areas, while still working through one dedicated VA to keep things consistent.
Skill set limited by the extent of employee knowledge/ experience. If you need a specialist skill, you need to invest in training or find someone else to do the job.
Cancel your service plan without any fuss, bother, or hard feelings!
Can be difficult, stressful, costly, and time-consuming to navigate the employee redundancy/termination process.
No cost for equipment, office space, software, or training. VA’s work virtually and cover all those expenses themselves!
Need to pay for building maintenance/ rent, desk, computer, chair, software, subscriptions, induction training, vehicles, phones, tea and coffee etc.
Using time-tracking software, we can ensure every single second of your service plan/hourly rate is spent on completing your set tasks.
With a permanent staff member, a huge percentage of their salary is spent on dead, unproductive time such as breaks, and chatting with other staff. (There are countless studies that show exactly how much time is wasted in a typical workday, with as little as 3 hours out of 8 being productive. With this in mind, wouldn’t you rather only pay for what is truly being done?)
Off-load your time-consuming admin busywork and spend your new free time on activities that grow your business and those that you will get paid for! Doing your own business admin won’t pay your bills!
Hiring an admin person (part-time or full time) incurs an HR process, contracts, PAYE, paying for downtime, equipment etc.. Making the cost outweigh the benefits in many cases, especially for a small business.
A VA is not situated in your office, so there is a far reduced risk of drama and personality clashes with your other staff. Conversations stay professional as all chat tends to be focused around the task at hand.
Hiring a perm staff member can be a real risk when it comes to ‘team fit’ (something you can’t always work out until a person starts working for you). It might be a few weeks or months down the line before the employee clashes and dramas kick in. Before you know it a toxic culture seeps in and you have a mass exodus on your hands. Dramatic, maybe – but I’m sure you have experienced it/seen it unfolding yourself in an office environment.
Need holiday cover? A VA service can be a fantastic solution if all your staff have decided to take annual leave at the same time. Rather than burst their holiday bubbles and hold them back from a well-deserved break, why not call on a VA? They are highly skilled and ready to hit the ground running, which means they can keep things trucking along in your business while everyone is out enjoying some fun in the sun.
If the same situation pops up in your own business (despite your best efforts to prevent it), it can be very stressful to hire someone to cover for a short period. You will need to go through the induction and training process to get them up-to-speed with your systems and methods. Alternatively, you could close the business completely while everyone is away on holiday? But that is not great for cash flow!
If you find yourself in a situation where you need admin cover immediately, a VA service is a great solution. Depending on what you need, we could have someone available same day to help you with an urgent task!
If you need urgent admin cover or find yourself in a situation where you urgently need help with something, what do you do? Take other staff away from their roles? Do you stop your job to do it? Getting cover in a hurry is not always possible.
Now, please don’t get me wrong; there are some instances where a permanent staff member is absolutely the way to go! If you need someone in your office for a client-facing role, or to fill a highly specialised, niche position; by all means, hire away! But in many cases, small business owners are looking for a skilled assistant to leverage their time, to make all their admin busywork disappear, and to help them employ intelligent automation systems and more efficient processes into their business. In those situations, a Virtual Assistant can genuinely be the solution of their dreams!
If you think a Virtual Assistant might be precisely what you have been searching for, get in touch! Having a chat about your business requirements is a great, free way to confirm whether using a VA will help take your business to the next level.
Honestly, working as a Virtual Assistant is one of the coolest jobs in the world (if I do say so myself!) but, of course, there are downsides to everything, and we are not immune to that fact. Aside from people looking surprised when they find out that being a ‘VA’ has nothing to do with virtual reality, or when friends and family members stop by the house in the middle of the day because ‘I’m at home’ so I mustn’t be THAT busy, there are some things that really grind our VA gears!
Before we launch into this list of the most common VA complaints, I wanted to issue a small disclaimer. Yes, we are assistants of the virtual variety. It is our job to serve and support our clients with a huge range of administrative and more specialised business tasks, but at the end of the day, we are still human. Yep, we’re perfectly imperfect like everyone else! Things annoy us, affect us, and just like you; some things drive us downright crazy! We ask that you read through the list we have compiled with an open mind, a sense of humour, a willingness to learn, and the ability to put yourself in the shoes of a Virtual Assistant for the duration of this blog. Without further ado, and in no particular order, please enjoy our list of the top 5 VA Pet Peeves!
“Umm… Errr… But what about…?”A client not knowing what they want doesn’t start as an annoyance, in fact, it makes sense! If a client has never outsourced before, of course, they might find it difficult to figure out exactly what service/s they require. The pet peeve rears its head when a client is presented with the options, pros and cons, but struggles to take advice or be decisive and make executive decisions. This back and forth ‘banana-rama’ results in a lot of wasted time, as the VA gets unnecessarily bound up in their decision-making process.
How to avoid driving your VA around the bend in this situation? Communicate and take a step back. Say something along the lines of: “Thank you for presenting me with my options. I have a lot to think about, so I will go away and come up with an exact list of services I require and be in touch before next Friday. If I have any questions in the interim, I will compile them and send them in one email”. This clear communication describes the intent and timeframe, which is perfect. As long as we know where you are at with things, we can make a note and get on with other client work until you are ready. We don’t want to waste your money, or our time starting a job when you are uncertain.
Hello??? We understand how busy clients can get, but it doesn’t feel great when we chase and chase for answers/replies about a task, then when the client suddenly does get back to us (days, sometimes even weeks later) the work has become urgent and we are all suddenly left in a mad panic to get things done. This situation isn’t fair, nor is it respectful or professional to hire a VA to do a task, then not get back to them in time for them to be able to get the job done.
Prevent this issue by letting your VA know the best way to get in touch with you. Maybe text-messaging is better than email for you? Perhaps WhatsApp is best for quick replies. If you’re leaving the country for a week or making a significant change to your schedule, let us know who we can contact in your absence, and give us your schedule changes as soon as you know about them so that we can arrange things at our end as far ahead as possible. It’s hard to help someone who doesn’t reply!
You ask the VA for their professional advice, and then take none of it…Clients often have lots of questions about how they can save time in their workdays, which is great! What isn’t great is when a VA spends hours giving advice and making suggestions on how the client can improve their operational efficiency and make things simpler, but the client never actually takes their advice on board. That would be fine if they were not outsourcing work to a VA whose sole purpose is to help them save time! By assisting clients to work more efficiently, we free up our own time to be able to support more clients, so when we get caught up in a time-consuming task that could be made incredibly easy if they would make one small change, it can be very frustrating.
Less talk, more action is one way to summarise how you can avoid this VA pet peeve. If you are genuinely interested in optimising your office processes, implementing automation, and saving time, you need to trust your VA and be open to trying new things. That might mean you need to let go of a system that ‘everyone else is using’ because it serves no purpose in your business or you don’t know how to use it.
What am I missing here? VA’s are a talented bunch of office mavens, so you’d be forgiven if you thought they could read your mind. Unfortunately not – although the longer a Virtual Assistant works with a client, the better they will get at anticipating their needs and becoming a super helpful and proactive sidekick! Until that day comes, it is imperative that as a client, you communicate your instructions for a task explicitly and in writing. It’s not enough to merely say ‘Can you please make me some business cards, here are my contact details’, then when you receive the mock-up, you say ‘I don’t like the colour, I wanted it portrait, and where is one for my colleague?’
Stop the confusion and stress by ensuring you note down ALL the information clearly when you request a task to be completed; especially those things that could be misconstrued, or that you absolutely need to be done a certain way. That way, it’s all in writing, and the chance for things to be misinterpreted is lessened. For the first couple of jobs, it might be wise to have the VA come back to you with any questions so you can ensure you are both on the same page.
Please and thank you! Thankfully, this pet peeve isn’t one we encounter all that often, but when it does happen, it can be such a letdown. Now and then a Virtual Assistant will be caught with a client that is just plain rude! No one likes being spoken down to in a condescending manner, having orders barked at them like a fresh army recruit in a line-up, or spending hours on a task to receive absolutely no thanks for a job well done.
Being polite and professional doesn’t cost anything so please remember your manners when dealing with anyone, especially your hardworking VA. If they have done an excellent job, tell them! Positive feedback helps build morale, as well as driving your VA to continue to deliver excellent work. It can have a massive impact, so never underestimate the power of good manners.
Like I said, for the most part, we are lucky to have fabulous client’s who communicate well, practice polite interpersonal interactions, and give us lots of positive feedback for our excellent work, but at times a VA will run into frustrating problems with a client that could so easily have been avoided.
We hope you have enjoyed reading through our list of pet peeves! Were they what you expected? Was there anything you were surprised to learn? Feel free to share your thoughts and YOUR pet peeves with us! We’d love to hear them.
Keeping regular, accurate financial records is one of the most time-consuming aspects of running a business. Of course, it is also imperative to get this financial management right, or you will find yourself in a number of stressful situations.
In this digital age, it is easy to forget that it really wasn’t that long ago, that everything was done on paper! There were filing cabinets bursting at the seams with invoices, bills and other financial documents. Even massive amounts of archived documents in storage! Thank goodness for both the trees and for us, that this is a thing of the past.
Yes, thankfully, we’ve moved on; we’ve innovated, and now, most records are stored on hard drives or in a virtual ‘cloud’. Phew! Although this makes organising things a whole lot easier, it still requires work… Enter the tech-savvy geniuses! These talented developers decided that we could go one step better and have created numerous programmes and apps that take the streamlining and automation of your financial processes to a whole new level! Thus, freeing up your time to focus on other essential business tasks (or go paddle boarding an hour earlier than you anticipated).
Two of the go-to apps that we use in partnership with our clients are ‘Go Cardless’ and ‘Hubdoc’. These smart, simple programmes take the hassle out of collecting payments and organising your finances.
Let’s take a closer look at how these two incredible apps can help you streamline financial processes, save you time, and benefit your business.
This clever app takes the pain out of collecting payments and chasing up clients. It allows you to receive direct debit payments either automatically or on set dates for recurring or differing amounts.
It is incredibly easy to use – both for you and your clients. All you have to do is send them an invitation to sign up. They then fill out a basic online form authorising you to collect payments from them. (This step is something that only needs to be done once, and then the set-up is complete).
For your client’s peace of mind, they are notified before payment is scheduled, and they can opt to authorise individual payments if they want to.
On your end, simply input the dates you want to collect the funds, select the amount/s, and the funds are collected automatically. The app even connects with accounting software like Xero, and you can manage everything from the app’s easy to use dashboard.
If you’re a client of ours please sign up to Go Cardless HERE so you can avoid the hassle of making the monthly payments!
Why it’s great: Think of the time and energy you will save by streamlining all of your recurring payments. No more fiddling about with invoices and waiting days or even weeks for the funds to come through from the client! Just simple, on-time payments for the right amount, delivered straight to your account.
How does running a business without filing and data entry sound? (Umm, blooming amazing!) Marketed as the essential ‘digital virtual assistant’, Hubdoc will manage, organise and store all your financial documents so you can be free of papercuts forever!
This intuitive app automatically imports invoices, statements, bills and receipts and then exports them into usable data.
You can set the app to access and sort online documents, use it to take a photo of hard copies, or directly forward them from an email, straight to Hubdoc.
Not only will this save you a whole lot of busy-work and free you up to do other things (like growing your business or a killer veggie garden), but you can also forecast for the future. Gain access to past bills (for a year or more) and then use that information to choose your areas of focus. See what worked and what didn’t to manage your finances optimally.
Hubdoc is designed to sync with your online accounting software like Xero. All the information is stored securely, backed up and available to you, your accountant and bookkeeper / virtual assistant, anytime, anywhere.
Why it’s great: This app is a serious time saver! No more scanning and uploading documents, hunting through boxes for a specific piece of paper or trying to compile spreadsheets of data. Hubdoc does it all for you, streamlining your systems and your business as a whole. In fact, we love it so much here at Virtual Assistants that we are a Hubdoc partner!
To Wrap Up!
These two apps can save you hours of fiddly and, let’s face it, potentially boring work. No more chasing up clients, sending and recording invoices, and no more logging into various sites to gather and manage your bills. Using Go Cardless and Hubdoc will give you and your team precious hours in your week to focus on other things.
If you would like to know more about how these apps could work in your business, then please get in touch with us here at Virtual Assistants. If you love the sound of using them and want to give them a go, we are happy to set the apps up for you to try!
As the days get longer and warmer, you’re starting to notice your attention span getting shorter and shorter. The great outdoors is beckoning, and your stuffy office is looking less appealing by the second! We get it; while winter feels like a natural time to sit inside in front of your computer screen, summer screams ‘fun in the sun’, so it can be a real challenge to stay motivated and productive at work!
If you’re finding yourself increasingly restless, gazing out the window at everyone else enjoying themselves, and slacking off from essential work, read on to discover our top tips to keep motivation at an all-time-high over these beautiful summer months.
Get Creative With Your Work Hours
Do you HAVE to stay fixed with regular working hours all year-round? If not, why not treat yourself with an early finish on Fridays in Jan/Feb to kick-start your summery weekends or amend your working hours entirely so you can start earlier and finish earlier. You could even consider slotting in an evening work session after the sun has gone down (and all the summer fun has been had!)
The point we are trying to emphasise here is to make your schedule work for you. Different people find they have bursts of energy, inspiration and motivation at certain times of the day, so try and schedule your important tasks for the times where you’re feeling pumped up and give yourself a break when your brain is feeling like a melted ice block!
Have it both ways!
The expression ‘You can’t have your cake and eat it too’ irritates me! Buy two damn cakes and eat one while you admire the other! That’s my motto. Apply this logic to working in summer by taking your laptop out into the action! You can head to the park, the beach, even the forest! Heck, you can even work on your back deck in the fresh air, with your back to the sun if that’s all it will take for you to put a summer smile on your dial!
If you don’t work for yourself and you’re stuck in an office environment, you still don’t have to stay glued to your desk all day. Find opportunities to get outside for some fresh air and a sunshine injection. Got a conference call to make? Then pop on your headset and enjoy a walk while you talk. You may even find you are more creative and ‘on the ball’ with a little physical activity because the increased blood flow to the brain provides you with a flood of endorphins and inspiration.
Plan Fun Activities For Outside Work
Instead of focusing on all the fantastic things your friends and family are up to while you are tapping away on your keyboard, plan some after work or weekend activities to look forward to. With longer daylight hours, there is still plenty of time to enjoy yourself once you knock off for the day.
Plus, ensuring you have something positive to look forward to at the end of the day will help you power through your work extra fast. Dangle a proverbial carrot for yourself!
Cut Out The Distractions
Nothing cuts down on productivity and motivation like getting sucked into the black hole that is social media. Get strict with yourself – put the phone away, don’t open Facebook or Instagram, and give each task one hundred per cent of your focus.
If willpower isn’t your best quality, don’t worry, there is an app for that! Yep, you can download a programme for your computer or phone that block certain websites for a given period. You will be amazed at how much faster you work without constant interruption, and how much your motivation increases when you are not looking at everybody else enjoying themselves while you are supposed to be working.
Reaffirm Your Goals
When motivation and passion start to wane, it’s the perfect time to take a look at your goals and remind yourself why you are doing what you do. Perhaps you are working on your passion project, and you have a vision for where you want it to be in five years, or maybe you are working and saving hard, so you can head off on your dream vacation in six months.
Whatever your motivation, keep it fresh in your head however you can. Pin an image of your goal to your workspace or reaffirm it every morning when you brush your teeth. Whichever way you choose to regroup and refocus on your goals, you will be much more inspired to keep at it if you can keep your eyes on the prize.
Get Rid Of The Jobs You Don’t Enjoy
When the beach is calling, not many people want to respond to general enquiry emails or reconcile their bank account. So, why not outsource those jobs (and any others you don’t like) to an expert Virtual Assistant. The work gets done, you get to enjoy the sunshine, and your business continues to flourish and grow.
We can help with a massive range of administrative, financial and general business tasks here at Virtual Assistants, so why not give us a call to see how we can lighten your load and boost your motivation this summer.
If the glittering decorations across shop fronts and lampposts don’t highlight that the end of the year is fast approaching, we don’t know what does! Whether you are winding down for a well-earned break or winding up for a busy sales period, the end of the year is the ideal time to take a look back on the last 12 months and review how it all went.
Did your business have an outrageously successful year? Was it so-so? Did you face some significant challenges? No matter how it looks at first glance, remember that everything is a learning experience and a chance to grow.
Whatever your overarching feeling about the year that was, we think it is worthwhile to use any lessons learned to help push your business forward. A thorough review is a critical component in your planning and goal setting. How can you set the right kind of goals for the coming year if you don’t first look at what led you to this point?
If you’re not sure where to start with reviewing your year, here are some of the things you may want to consider. These tips will help you put systems in place so you can march confidently into 2019 with your carefully laid battle plans in place!
What did you do well?
Although it is human nature to gloss over your successes and get hung up on the negative aspects, it is so important to celebrate and acknowledge your victories; even if they were only small wins.
The positives can give you just as much insight and direction as the negatives, so make a list of your top three proudest achievements this year. Then, dig a little deeper. Investigate them, see what created them, and plan to replicate them in some way next year.
Review The Figures
Financial reviews are an essential end-of-year consideration, but there are many more metrics that contribute to a successful business.
Look at customer or client growth and retention, referrals, social media engagement, conversions, Google analytics and any other measurable data. Taking time to put these things under the microscope will show you what you need to devote more time/money to in the future, and will also help you work out which of your efforts were a waste of time or a bad return on investment.
What Didn’t Work?
Take a deep breath and dive into the things that didn’t go so well for you and your business this year. Don’t think of them as failures, but as learning opportunities. Things that don’t work out give you the chance to pivot and approach them in different, creative ways. You tend to learn more from a mistake than you would if you nailed it the first time.
Maybe your social media didn’t get the following or engagement you wanted, perhaps a marketing campaign bombed, or you had unhappy customers. i.e. If you pumped $2k into Facebook adverts, but only got $300 in sales from it, that $2k was not money well spent and could be put towards a higher yield activity next year.
Whatever you consider your big flops for the year, it helps to get specific. Then you can get proactive. Come up with solutions, and put plans in place that can help avoid this problem in the future.
Where Do You Need To Spend More Or Less Energy?
Asking yourself the above questions and looking at your year in review will highlight the areas that need more time and energy spent on them. Now is the time to get to work on those goals for next year.
How can you give attention to the areas that need it while growing your business and staying on top of day-to-day tasks? Perhaps you need to outsource some of the mundane, time-consuming jobs so you can focus on more productive activities. Hiring experts in the areas that you are not well-versed (possibly areas like bookkeeping, SEO or marketing) can have an overwhelmingly positive impact on a small business that is looking to grow (we are happy to assist in all these areas).
It might also be helpful to make a list of how you spend your time each day or week. We suggest noting down the tasks you do but don’t enjoy, as well as the tasks that take a lot longer than they should. By getting clear on your pain points, you can plan to implement changes that will make life easier for you. These changes could consist of changing a few of your current systems and processes. Even as simple as downloading a new app or some intuitive software. (We had a client that got rid of a part-time proofreader, just by downloading Grammarly!) The goal is to make your ‘ugh’ list shorter and more manageable.
If you are ready to make next year your best one yet, outsourcing should be high on your priority list. Not only does it free up your own time, but it ensures that the job gets done with expert precision and knowledge.
We have a large team of skilled experts here at Virtual Assistants, and I’ll let you in on a little secret… Those jobs you can’t stand? We love them! We zip through them like reindeer dashing through the snow, and we wager that we could do most of them with our eyes shut! If you really want to get serious about having the best, most productive 2019, we want to hear from you! We are waiting by the phone. Chat soon!
If you have ventured out into the shops in the last few weeks, you may have noticed that those sparkly green and red decorations are starting to appear on the shelves. Before you know it, Xmas songs will be blasting from the radio, tinsel will be dripping from ceilings, and Xmas trees will be for sale on the side of the road.
As a small business owner, you are hopefully way ahead of the game and have started planning for the end of year madness already. If not, you better hop to it because time is ticking!
Whether you have a retail business that needs to gear up for a holiday sales rush or a service business that might see a downturn in revenue towards the end of the year, with the right planning and preparation, you can get through unscathed; popping out the other side fresh and rearing to go in the New Year.
Take a deep breath, grab yourself a pen and paper, and start making a list and checking it twice!
Sort Out Your Staffing
Staffing takes the Xmas cake for the most time consuming, yet vital, aspect to successful year-end planning. If your business grinds to a halt in the festive season, it may make sense to shut down during that time. Closing your doors will save on business overheads, yes, but keep in mind that you still need to cover staff costs on a reduced revenue. Sort those budgets well ahead of time, so you don’t head into the new year with a deficit.
If the silly season is your busiest time of year, it pays to be aware of, and plan for, the fact that your staff are likely to want time off. Ensure you have enough hands-on-deck to cover the rush. If you need to hire new staff, make sure you budget for training now so that you can get them up to speed well ahead of time. Getting the induction and training sorted means your new staff member/s will be able to cope with what can be a stressful, crazy time of year in retail.
The end of the year is an excellent time to consider casual or contract staff, or if you’re a one-man-band, it is the prime time for outsourcing. Getting rid of all those time-consuming admin tasks means you can focus on generating revenue for the most expensive time of the year. #smartbusiness
Marketing + Promotions
Even if you are not a fan of Xmas yourself, you are up against the vast majority of the population who go ga-ga for it. Failing to capitalise on this season of giving can put you far behind your competition.
If you have a physical shop, pimp it out with decorations and festive cheer. If you have an online website you can still decorate, you need to theme your site accordingly. Don’t forget to get promoting special end-of-year deals well ahead of time and remember to advise your customers of any cut-off dates for ordering and guaranteed delivery.
In the world of retail, Xmas is the perfect time to attract new customers and grow your business. There is often a bit of a retail slump early in the New Year, so doing well in sales while things are HOT will cover that low period.
Marketing is one of those things that can slip away at this busy time as you focus on other aspects. Thankfully, it is an easy thing to outsource! (If you want to make this year your biggest festive season yet, let us help you with the social media promotions and emails. The Virtual Assistants team are your Xmas elves, and we have your back, Santa-pants!)
Triple Check Your Stock
Once you’ve got your budgets and Xmas/New Year marketing plan sorted, you need to make sure you can meet the expected demand. Order stock early, because many suppliers may shut down over the holidays. That means having not only enough products on the shelf but also stocking up on basics like packaging, courier bags, till receipt rolls, stationery – all the basics to keep your business in operation if your supplier is closed for 2+ weeks!
Assess Your Success
The end of the year is the perfect time to take a snapshot of your business. Did you exceed or fall short of your goals this year? Is everything going as you had hoped, or do you need to adapt your business plan? What can you do better or differently next year? Where would you like your business to be this time next year? Please make a note as it is easy to forget how the end of the year went as the next year rolls on.
Virtual Assistants know it can be stressful trying to juggle business and personal commitments during the holidays. If you take time to sit down and have a good, long look at your goals, breaking them down into achievable chunks and forging ahead, it eases the load.
You know what else eases the load? Getting those annoying tasks off your plate! After all, who has time to clear emails and send a newsletter when you are frantically packing orders or trying to meet client deadlines?
Let us take some of the stress away so that you can focus on what you do best. If you need some help or cover for this silly season, then get in touch with Virtual Assistants today!
‘Entrepreneur’ has become a buzzword. There seem to be more and more stories popping up about self-made millionaires and small businesses making it BIG in what appear to be overnight successes. The rise of mobile tech and super fast Internet access means owning your own small business is easier than ever before. In short, the business of small business is booming!
With any significant trend, come the people wanting to make a quick buck from it, which means you’ll find countless products claiming to make your business bigger, better, and more efficient. What sort of products am I talking about? Where do I even start!? There are wheelers and dealers out there pushing everything from ‘smart’ furniture to intuitive apps and software.
You don’t need every bell and whistle to create a successful small business! First things first: Before piling up your shopping cart with new gadgets, ask yourself these three questions.
What do I need?
Before you start shopping around for office essentials, think about what it is that your business needs right now. It is tempting to buy every new, shiny product you see. But take time to ask yourself: is this a product that will solve a current problem that my business has? If not, skip it. Identify problem areas or things that need improving and choose the best solution.
Can I get this for free?
Don’t buy into the big-name hype and spend a lot of money on the newest, most advanced software. Do you really need the new MS Office suite? There are plenty of options available that are low-cost or free. Consider using Google applications like Google Hangouts, Google Docs and Google Sheets if your business only needs the basics. Some of the free online tools might not have all the bells and whistles, but simple can be just as effective in the beginning.
What are other people doing?
One of the most effective ways to know what works is to see what other businesses are doing successfully. Want to know the best accounting software to use? Ask around, get references, and see what works. Innovation is great, but using tried and tested methods can help you prevent a lot of wasted time and money.
So how do you sort through the masses of resources that are available? How do you know which office essentials your business needs and which ones you can live without?
Ta-daaaa! Here at Virtual Assistants, we know a thing or two about efficiency and productivity. So, we have done all the research for you, so you can invest your money where it counts.
1: A Workstation
This one is obvious. You need a space to do your work and the materials to do it. You will need a computer or laptop for emails, social media, and invoice creation. Basically, you need a reliable portal that connects you to the online world!
2: A Business Phone Line
People need to be able to get in touch with you. You can save money by skipping the old-school landline and going straight for a VoIP. They have face call and conference capabilities and can be set up for extensions, directories, call transfers and queuing. Depending on your business, you might also need to invest in a cell phone so that people can reach you wherever you are.
As much as we try to go paperless, there are still some things that need to be printed. Or there are physical documents that need to become electronic files. But forget getting a giant ogre of a machine that takes up valuable office space. These days you can pick up a small combo machine that does everything.
4: Business Cards
People may think business cards are old fashioned, but they still serve a great purpose. They are just as important for networking and promotions as they were 50 years ago. Design something modern and professional then take them everywhere you go!
5: Cloud Accounting Software
Gone are the days of manual cashbooks and receipt books. Instead, keep all your invoices, receipts and financial data backed up and easy to access from anywhere with a data or Wi-Fi connection.
6: Basic Office Software
Regardless of your industry, every business will need access to email, word processing and spreadsheets. Unless you have a specific niche business, think twice about investing in design or graphics software. There are plenty of free online tools for creating great graphics, such as Canva and Snappa.
Your office doesn’t need to be a utilitarian wasteland! Don’t forget to invest in the comfort of yourself and your team and provide some fun extras. A happy, healthy employee who is spoiled once in a while is more efficient and productive. Invest in ergonomic furniture, funky stationery, a quality coffee machine, noise-reducing headphones, or anything else in your budget that helps keep you and your employees happy and motivated.
If you need help getting set up with any of these office essentials, then get in touch with us here at Virtual Assistants. We are Xero Certified experts, Gsuite gurus, Canva converts, and have a talented pool of VAs that are experts in almost every administration field you can think of!