A big part of
keeping your business in a creative mindset starts at the top. How creative are
you as a small business owner? Typically, creativity is a useful, perhaps
essential, characteristic of being a business leader. We all get bogged down in
the minutia of daily issues, focusing on tasks and work, rather than
remembering what the company began as – an exciting new venture with new ideas
and such promise! If you’ve found your business getting stale, stiff, and
lacking motivation, take a look at how excited you are to come in to work every
day. Not so much? Get your head back in the game before finishing this blog by
doing as suggested in this
article. After you’ve taken a break,
continue on to get your creativity back for you and your employees.
Practical Approaches to Creativity
gains creativity in the exact way all the time, but there are a handful of
things that many execs, artists and other creative people try in order to
stimulate the brain for thinking creatively. None of these are complicated and
all are worth trying in some way:
Lower Your Lighting – Forget about a classroom model with straight lines
of square desks under bright, clinical ceiling lights. That may people see
better, but it’s not a great environment for creative expression or thinking.
Low, ambient room lighting from table level might help you feel free enough to
try new things. Lowering stress is also a part of many creativity building
exercises. Ceiling lights are stressful and makes us feel exposed, so a big
no-no for most creative thinkers.
Exercise – You can work
out at the end of the day or go for a swim in the morning before showing up at
your desk, exercise during your work day is the real deal. Studies link getting
sweaty with having a fluid, creative brain full of new ideas. What kind of
physical activity can you do or provide onsite in your company during
New Experiences – Instead of
spending company perks on “stuff” why not gift your employees with new
experiences? Travelling for short trips or taking remote vacations has been
linked to helping the brain think in multi-directional ways for problem-solving.
This ability is an essential aspect of thinking creatively. Short on cash? Make
the trips local but emphasize new experiences.
Ambient Noise – Complete
silence does help focus, which is great for analytical tasks but terrible for
creative thought. It’s important for the creative mind to wander to new places,
and ambient music or sounds allow that.
Start With Parameters, Not a Blank Page – This may seem counter-intuitive but staring at a
blank page and begging for it to speak to you is every writer’s nightmare.
Having a few topics, lines of dialogue or a prompts of some kind can get your
juices flowing. Art is the same, as is problem solving. Find some parameters to
get started and loosen them as needed once your brain starts turning.
Chances are, if
you’ve worked hard and risked a lot to start or run a business in your
community, then you are likely a true expert in your field. You have a great
product or service, and you have many satisfied customers to show for it. None
of that does your company any good unless it translates to more business. Word
of your quality service or product needs to get out so that customers know you
are indeed the right company to go to if for great quality and service at a
fair price. Customers need a company that operates with integrity. Let them
know that you are the ones to contact when they wish to be educated or need
help solving a problem. You need to be known as their personal & trusted
local expert and social media can get you there.
Ways to Be Their Expert
In order to
position your company as the local expert in your field, start by building a
company website. It doesn’t need to be expensive, flashy or loaded with
features. What it does need is to be functional with all links working, look
pleasing, and include contact information for your services and products. You
should also be able to update it regularly. Having a website presence on the
internet is your base to launch your social media platforms. Try to post
content that does more to establish your expert status in the field rather than
try to sell your products or services directly. Nobody will tune in to a site which
is one big commercial.
A blog is usually included on a dedicated page of your
website. It can be written by the owner by name or posted as a general article
for the business without a byline. In the first case, the owner is presented as
a specific expert in the industry. In the latter case, the business is held up,
and anyone can write it. Your blog can then be automatically posted through
linking the site page to your social media account. Tips for blogging.
Post Industry Material – Your company website can have many types of
educational material posted as industry or company material: FAQs, links to
interesting articles on other sites you are affiliated with or find interesting,
as well as dramatic or humorous, industry-related photos Your followers might share or re-tweet these
to other people on their friends list.
DIY or Catalogs – If you have a
service oriented business, such as plumbing or construction, you may want to demonstrate
easy DIY repairs or maintenance that you feel every homeowner should know.
Create helpful videos to teach your followers what to do, posting them on your
site and linking the page with that video to your social media newsfeed.
Product catalog photos or videos could also show off your expert workmanship or
Testimonials and Reviews – There’s no better place to post the testimonies and
stories from satisfied customers than your site, which again, should be linked
along with photos in your album of previous jobs.
company is new, or you are trying fresh strategies to promote your existing
brand, it’s important to take a look at the essential marketing tools at your
disposal. While it’s true that many of these tools today revolve around digital
approaches, there’s real value in some older, tried-and-true tools, such as
custom business cards. To be sure you know the best way to create yours, check
out this article.
Marketing Tools at Your Disposal
There are 2
basic approaches to promoting your brand throughout your community – online /
digital, and traditional. Depending on your company and your industry, a
healthy mix of both could be included into your small business’s best marketing
strategy. Most of these essential tools for marketing can be managed by your
Direct Mail & Newsletter Emails –The goal of both of these essential tools is to make sure people new to the neighborhood find out that your business exists, while keeping your brand at the top of the minds of current residents. In both cases, getting street and email addresses from local directories of new home buyers, people in a certain age range, or from your school district could be helpful. Update lists as you go to develop a valuable client list over time.
Ads from TV, Radio, Print and Social Media –Ads
for local cable and radio might get a little pricey, butcould also be the best way to connect with older-aged customers.
The large generation of Boomers retiring now prefer low-tech methods to get
their news and entertainment. Retirement homes, life insurance, vacation
destinations and health alert devices certainly benefit from the traditional
marketing avenues. By adding social media ads, businesses have the potential to
reach a wider variety of age groups. Ads on social media are also less expensive.
Websites and Social Media Profiles –Your business website is not only your
home-base of operations on the internet but allows your business to come up in
searches like Google. Additionally, your website tells your business story
where customers can check out prior jobs you’ve done, products you sell, read
testimonials and find contact info. Your social medial accounts can develop
your brand further by linking your interesting content from your website. Over
time your followers can get to know you as the area expert in your field, the
company they can turn to when they need your products or services.
Local Networking –Join local expos, business chamber and otherwise
connect with area businesses to reach out in marketing, community and charity
events. Become active in food drives and anything else that supports your
community interests, while sharing photos and articles about these events on
your website and social media. Allow followers to post photos of themselves on
your site and pages, thus creating more original content at no cost to you.
When you run a
small business, it’s easy to feel like there isn’t enough time in the day or
days in the week to get everything done. From digital online presence, to
regular marketing, bookkeeping, sales and inventory or providing services, is
it possible to get everything done without having a huge staff or brick and
mortar to run? Of course it is, especially for certain types of businesses.
today has done us the great service of making available remote workers,
otherwise referred to as Virtual
Assistants, or VAs. Like any other great ideas, VAs can be super useful or
can seem like a frustrating waste of money. The issue is knowing how to best
utilize any utility or employee. A Virtual Assistant is a combination of both,
so you have to know how to use them and how NOT to use them to get it right.
Don’t Make These Mistakes With Your Virtual
uninitiated, a virtual assistant can do anything from secretarial and admin
work to graphic arts and copy writing. They can schedule your work life,
proofread, edit, and do research. They are great for customer service and all
things bookkeeping, and they do it remotely. Those who hire them need to avoid
a few traps to get the most out of their services. Mistakes are made when you…
Aren’t sure what to have them do
Although many VAs will have a good idea of what they
can do for your business, it’s not their job to figure that out. Decide what
tasks you really want from them before they are hired. Read this article for
ideas on what you should
delegate to your VA.
Don’t have an organized system
Part of knowing what they should do is having
procedure for getting tasks done. Create a policy and Procedure document or
booklet for them to refer to. They are the task-doers and you are the
Hope they can read your mind
Make sure your VA has a clear understanding of what
you want and how you want it done, complete with dates and formats. Once you
develop a strong communication and working relationship, it may seem that your
VA can read your mind, but they need clear instructions and specific guidance
Neglect to review their work or give feedback
Once they’ve turned in assignments, they need
feedback regarding their task. Was it what you intended? If they make mistakes,
give them the chance to adapt. A correct job needs positive feedback and issues
need to be addressed for course correction. Your instructive feedback is a tool
to help them do the best they can for you.
Even the best VA
relationships take time to cultivate, and your goal should be to help them know
what you want so you can retain that same VA for a long time. It saves you
money, frustration and gets more work done if you don’t constantly have to find
a new VA.
It might be easy to imagine hiring a virtual
assistant for general office administration tasks for your small business.
Companies with brick and mortar often have accountants, bookkeepers and data
entry done remotely by outsourced or subcontracted remote workers. Even though
business owners must get products and services coordinated, use social media
and marketing, and deal with high level decisions, they often don’t choose to
hand off writing tasks to remote workers, currently referred to as virtual
assistants, VAs. They naturally convince themselves that any writing or
messaging from the company needs to be done by an officer, but this is just not
true. With a little guidance and feedback, a VA can be an excellent resource in
writing all kinds of business copy, saving time and worry for the execs. The
writing might be higher quality, as well.
Copy Writing Can a VA do?
Literally any writing assignment an owner might
imagine needing to write can be done by a VA. Here are some common examples of
assignments that can be taken off an owner’s plate for a very inexpensive rate
by a skilled copy writing VA:
Any interaction with
ads, print publications, and event info that needs to be distributed, companies
do still send out press releases. They need to be done is a professional format
with impeccable grammar. This kind of writing is not where you want a lack of
care. An example of common press release mistakes that your VA will know to
avoid can be found here.
to your emails, potential new customers and current customers should receive
regular correspondence in order to keep your products and services on the top
of their minds. You want the best quality writing and editing for these mass
correspondence pieces. These areas are great tasks that a VA can not only
handle for you but do so in less time than many business owners might take, and
marketing flair and professionalism.
We hate to break it
to you, but many business blogs are not written by the owners of the business.
A VA who is properly trained and acquainted with your company and industry can
save you tons of time and stress by writing informational and practical guides
to useful topics that your followers will care about. These articles and blogs
are posted on your website, giving site visitors an ample variety of topics to
peruse, establishing your company as the “go-to” source for that industry.
Linking this content to your social media drives followers to your site, which
is an important part way of increasing foot traffic and future sales for your
Allowing yourself to delegate company writing jobs
to a VA can not only save you time but assure regular contact and updates with
your customers. Regular posting schedules show that your business is active,
that you care, and gives a professional impression.
It’s a common theme that entrepreneurs and business
owners put a lot of hours in to make their business work. Hiring a good VA can
take some of your daily tasks off your plate, but even then, owners often spend
too many hours on the job. While hard work is certainly a virtue, not caring
for yourself so you get burned out is not. Not only can “burning out” or
focusing only on making your business work hurt your relationships and your
health, eventually, it will hurt your business. Sometimes a little effort on
your part to de-stress after work will help. Burn-out
on the job isn’t helped by “doing more.” Ever hear the phrase, “work smarter,
not harder?” Taking care of yourself is part of how that works.
to Get Healthy on All Levels
De-stressing is great but creating a regular
lifestyle of well-being requires regular, conscious effort. If you think you’re
doing “OK” in taking care of yourself, ask yourself if you’re following these
steps in self-care:
tend to eat too much fast food on the run. Unfortunately, junk food/comfort
food doesn’t provide adequate nutrition or fuel to do all that your body needs
to do. Real food requires some thoughtful planning. Pick a day for food prep
and have prepared or planned-out ingredients with ready-to-eat items in the
fridge so your cravings don’t lead you astray. Your mental clarity, mood,
memory and sleep will improve with a few lifestyle changes.
gym membership isn’t a bad idea, but seriously, taking a 30-min walk before,
during, or after work would likely be a big improvement in your physical
activity ratio. Mix it up with other activities, like bike riding, dancing,
weightlifting or swimming. Any physical activity done every day can get your
heart pumping. If you currently have time for your Facebook newsfeed or
watching Netflix, you can make time for a short jog. Staying active contributes
to mental clarity, innovative and creative thinking as well as general physical
last time you allowed yourself quiet time to read or just be alone? Journaling,
painting, drawing, writing a poem, or doing anything contemplative and
thoughtful can recharge your batteries.
people outside of work
relationships with people from church, your neighborhood and extended family.
Volunteer in your community or join a local club or team. Find ways to interact
with people who can support you outside of your business.
should probably be the first priority in your health, it’s often the last
consideration. When there isn’t enough time in the day, many busy people steal
extra work time from their precious sleep hours. It’s a bad habit that will
catch up with you sooner or later. Sleep deprivation is the #1 reason for poor
performance and low productivity.
Take care of your business by taking better care of
yourself. You will get a great return in every aspect of your life when you
invest in yourself.
How on Earth do you get everything done, especially
with limited active employees, or maybe none at all besides yourself? Virtual
Assistants can handle just about any type of task necessary in an office. They
can literally keep your “Office” running on a daily basis, which gives the
owner a lot of flexibility in where they can work from, or in taking time off. Working
with VAs can make it possible for a self-employed business owner to go on a vacation without the
business falling apart.
That Can Be Delegated to a VA
Most small business owners try to do too much but
they simply don’t have the time. Understanding just what tasks your VA could
learn to take care of can better inform an owner what tasks they can and should
let go of in order to make the most of their own strengths. Tasks easily taken
over by VAs include:
correspondence and mass mailing
mass mailings and mass emails are not so personal that you need to write them,
yet it takes up your time. Allow a VA to get to know your company and purposes
for the correspondence and they can take this tedious chore off your hands.
They can set up a schedule and write much of it ahead of time, while setting a
program for scheduled posting or sending.
for customer service can be a Godsend. Since they work remotely, you can have a
few covering the phones around the
clock, depending on your business. Taking receptionist messages, dealing with
client concerns and orders as well as making follow-up and schedule reminder
phone calls or emails covers a lot of useful office-work ground.
File management, bookkeeping
and data entry
bookkeeping tools make these kinds of organizational tasks very easy to keep up
with online. Your VA can do these jobs literally any time of day or night as
their schedule requires
graphics, copy writing and editing for website and social media
content for marketing, flyers, press releases, and even running your website
and social media are valuable tasks that are more than administrative.
Knowing some of the tasks that could be covered by a
VA helps a business owner choose carefully what to delegate and what to allow
themselves to do. Repetitive or tedious tasks should probably always be
delegated. With the proper training, communication and patience, a great
virtual staff can run their office while the owner focuses on doing their
business, or perhaps, even taking a vacation.
In general, using social media has become a
necessary part of any marketing plan for small businesses. There are several
social media platforms to choose from, and many companies try hard to keep up
with at least two or three at a time. Social media can be a great way to
connect the public with your website, which otherwise might get little traffic
if people don’t know its out there. Linking your social media accounts to
content on your website is a great start. For more on how social media helps
your business, check out this article.
the Social Media Giant
As mentioned, there are many platforms to choose
from, when it comes to creating profiles for your business to interact with potential
and existing online customers. While some businesses struggle to keep up with
many, it can be tough for business owners to follow and maintain one such
account, never mind three. Tracking, posting and interacting with customers on
your social media is a great job you can give over to a virtual assistant.
Whether you use a VA or not, however, you might want to focus mainly on one
platform, and in that case, Facebook might be your best choice. Here are a few
facts about using Facebook as your social medial platform for business:
Facebook has a
The March 2019
number of active worldwide Facebook users is up to 2.38 billion. The next
highest is YouTube at 1.9 billion and then Instagram, also owned by Facebook,
at 1 billion. The numbers cut considerably downward after that, so Facebook is
clearly the queen of the social media network platforms and cannot be dismissed
page for your business was introduced a few years ago as a business upgrade
from the previous “group” utility. Though groups are still used, they tend to
be used for social organizations to interact on a personal level around a
common interest. Pages were specifically designed with business and promotional
needs in mind. They are also free to create, so everyone should have one. Followers
can “like” your page and content, driving algorithms and creating analytics.
Businesses have control over their content, rather than followers or members
(as in groups.) Page owners have access to statistics regarding the dates,
times and numbers regarding how people visit and interact with their business page.
Advertising and analytics
Once a business has
a Facebook page, they can pay a nominal fee for Facebook ads. The analytics
provided help create posting schedules and inform the best times for posting
when followers are morel likely to be online to view them. Facebook ads can
also be boosted, and focused targeting sends your ads to other demographics
that may be more likely to become future customers.
Your VA can not only create your Facebook page, but
maintain it, and even create content, such as blogs, articles, graphics and
images for your website which can be linked to your Facebook page. So much
marketing power with little financial investment and very little time taken
from a business owners day.
You might have noticed that home-based businesses are becoming far more common, and that for home-based as well as brick and mortar companies, hiring virtual assistants is becoming a noticeable trend. How might your business might benefit from working with virtual assistants? Your immediate ability to benefit may be affected by your industry.
Industries That Commonly Use Virtual Assistants
Due to their unique characteristics and needs, certain industries have taken the lead in hiring and using virtual assistants on a regular basis. Some of those industries are:
IT Companies – The IT industry is literally made for virtual assistants since just about every basic task these businesses work with can be done remotely. They were the first companies to create remote work environments.
Finance and Accounting professionals – So many numbers and data entries, and so little time. Accounts payable and receivable, reconciliations, and updating customer information for bookkeeping software is incredibly labor and time intensive. Skilled Virtual assistants can make short work of these arduous tasks.
Real Estate and Property Managers – There’s a lot of paperwork, scheduling, marketing, social media, lead generating, and catering to customers involved for the sale of just one property. Real Estate agents and brokers are often sole proprietors who need more time than they have to manage many accounts. Get more info about the benefits of Real Estate Agents Hiring Virtual Assistants.
Marketing Companies – Marketing companies understand the need for the very skills that virtual assistants offer for website copy, editing, blogging, graphic arts, social media and related ads, internet research, and mass emailing.
Attorneys – Being overworked is common for attorneys in large or small firms. They are focused on dealing with cases with no time or interest in daily office duties. Attorneys know from the start they need help and benefit greatly by outsourcing office administrative tasks to virtual assistants.
Entrepreneurs – Single business owners and small firms often opt out of the expense of brick and mortar buildings or HR departments. Today, they might work from a mobile office or their home. They appreciate and understand the simplicity and security of working with a trusted individual or team of virtual assistants for paperwork, marketing and details so they can focus on growing their business.
The truth is that most, if not all, types of businesses could, at least, reduce operating costs by having a virtual assistant. Daily operations can be entirely by remote assistants, saving money, time and stress for small and larger businesses. Virtual assistants, with their wide range of skills and availability, appear to be a trend that will only grow over time.
Outside of customer letters and
general reporting, today businesses are expected to have an online social
presence. Your website might be beautiful and user friendly, but your pages
have to say something that your potential customers want or need to hear. If
you need help with that, you might want to brush up on the Basics of Writing Copy for Your Website. Your
website should post interesting content about your industry that establishes
you as a leader in the field, but what do you do if you aren’t much of a writer
or you simply don’t have the time? Having a virtual assistant or team can solve
small business’s lack of skill or time to write great copy doesn’t mean your
company website has to go without. Of course, it’s important to use proper
spelling, grammar and syntax, but there’s a lot more to great writing than the
mechanics of written language. Here are some of the types of writing your
company needs that can be done for you by virtual assistants:
Blogs, Web Articles, Web Copy, Ebooks, Ezines
– Though many might assume company staff
always writes their own blogs and copy, blogs are outsourced to professional writers
all the time.Today, business blogs
are often more about educational and practical topics than personal, answering
questions and giving guidance to an audience about products, services, business
or life tips. There’s nothing wrong with your virtual assistant writing for
your company as long as they are presenting your material in line with your
company philosophy and practices. They might also be able to express what you
mean better than you can, and that voice can be quite authentic.
Reports, Press Releases, Newsletters and
Promotional Emails – When left to busy
CEOs, these critical types of communication can sometimes be hurried or read like
a text book. Dry or boring content doesn’t bring followers to your website or
social media. Virtual assistants who specialize in writing creative business
copy can reinvent your data, vision points, and event news, presenting them as
fresh and relevant headlines to your customer and industry audience.
Editing – When
blogs and written communications must originate
from a busy owner or staff member, there is a solution for you, too. If you’re concerned
that your writing style or skills are a little rough, having your virtual
assistant perform professional editing to your own writing might be just what
you need. Keep that authentic voice, experienced expert tips and personal
touch, while presenting a professional and clear message which represents your
a virtual assistant to write content and copy for your business documents and
website can save time so you can focus on developing great quality products and
services. Having a virtual editor can allow you to be an authentic and creative
writer who presents yourself, your company and your material in an interesting
and professional manner.