Advertising Your Virtual Assistant Business on a Budget

When you are starting out as a Virtual Assistant and no one knows who you are or what you do, one of the biggest challenges you will face is how to drum up new business.

You probably have already done some research and already know that there are people who need your services or you would not have started your business in the first place. But once you have spoken to those you already know who may need you, your next task is to find others who will help you make your business a success. At this point most people turn to advertising. If I had a pound for every VA that has said to me, ‘There’s a little local magazine that comes through my door each month. Should I advertise in it?’ I wouldn’t have to run a VA business myself; I could retire on the proceeds. The answer, by the way, for many reasons is no. There are many better ways to spend your limited advertising and marketing budget.

It is a misconception that you have to spend lots of money to advertise your Virtual Assistant business. Unless you have some sort of financial backing, it is unlikely that you will have a huge budget so it’s better to get a little bit creative and use what you have wisely.
 
In the rest of this series, I will be letting you in on a few tips and some of the lessons I’ve learned on how to advertise your virtual assistant business on a budget.

 For more information about Virual Assistants visit: www.ukava.co.uk

The Average Employee Spends 95 Minutes a Week Surfing The Net

The CBI announced this week that the average employee spends 95 minutes a week surfing the Internet for personal use at a cost to the economy of £10.6bn a year.

Its research showed that while many organisations are supportive of staff visiting non-work related websites, and view it as a motivational perk or a modern-day tea break, others are troubled by the amount of use, or have had to sack staff for serious abuse.

The survey of 503 organisations, which together employ over one million workers, also revealed that nearly two-thirds (60%) of employers think staff regularly use office time outside of lunch hours and formal breaks to look at non-work sites, like those involving social networking, web email, shopping and holidays.

Employers across the public and private sectors estimate that 4.4% of working time is lost in this way, which accounts for 95 minutes a week, or ten days a year, at an average annual cost of £939 per employee.

So if potential employers want to get an extra 10 days a year of real work from each member of their team, isn’t it about time they thought of employing a Virtual Assistant? As we all know, with a virtual assistant you only pay for the hours worked on your business, no personal web surfing, no downtime, no holiday pay, sickness pay, maternity pay, training or equipments costs. What do you think?

Source: CBI.Org

Spare Room Start Up by Emma Jones

 Spare Room Start Up by Emma Jones is a friendly and stylish, full colour guide which focuses on the specific issues that affect home business start ups.Have you ever dreamt of starting your own business? Dreamt of working from home, a ten second commute, the flexibility to work when you want to, and the joy of being your own boss? This book can show you how to turn those dreams into reality in just a few simple steps.

With serial entrepreneur and home business expert Emma Jones as your guide, you will discover just how easy it is to start and run a successful business from your spare room.

Organised by three key themes – business, lifestyle and technology – Spare Room Start Up provides you with simple solutions and demonstrates the ease and low cost with which a home business can be started. Find out how you too can enjoy the rewards of running a home business whilst leading a happier and healthier life.

Advice and suggestions are interspersed with quick tips, illustrations and real life case studies from successful home business owners. Uncover the lighter side of working from home as well as the benefits and rewards of becoming a Spare Room Start Up!

Get your exclusive discount here:
http://books.global-investor.com/books/254182.htm?ginPtrCode=22138

Offer Your Clients the Very Best with a Typing or Audio Certification

With the use of Virtual Assistants increasing rapidly in the UK, businesses looking to outsource are becoming ever more savvy as to what a VA can offer and what to look for when choosing a VA.  So how do you make sure they choose you?Your service list, experience and client testimonials are all good ways to demonstrate to a potential client, however, qualifications and certifications also show that you are measurably and provably competent in the certified skill.

With word processing and digital transcription being a core service for many VAs, it would seem that one way to get noticed is to become certified (if you aren’t already).

With that in mind, Tesla Typing was created to provide its customers with a recognised typing and audio certifications that the end user can take online and receive a professional certificate from, upon completion.

You can choose the type of test you wish to become certified in, have one free practice test, take three evaluated and scored tests and then choose the best one for your certification.

Tesla Typing, is the first online tester of typing and audio skills, of its kind, in the world, and can also guarantee the quality of their service with ISO certification. 

Not only that but the price for one test is just £9.95 – extremely good value for money considering the competitive advantage it will give you and the reassurance to your clients that they are working with one of the best!

To find out more visit: www.teslatyping.co.uk and register to take your test now.

Ecademy VAC Club and Finding Potential Clients

So now you’ve joined up you need to know how to get the most out of Ecademy.
(If you still haven’t joined you can do it here: http://www.ecademy.com/?xref=103223)

Firstly you need to spend a bit of time completing your profile. It’s a cliché, but a true one, that people do business with people, not faceless businesses. Upload a photograph, write your ’50 Words’ and put a bit of your personality into it. I’ve previously got business through the fact that ‘yoga’ and ‘horses’ were contained in my 50 words, not because they have any relevance to my business, but because the persons reading the profile identified that we have something in common and that moved them to contact me over a competitor. Do bear in mind that in this profile you are trying to present a professional image so avoid anything that may be misconstrued by your clients, for example, how many times have you read a CV and found under hobbies ‘socialising with friends’? An employer might interpret this as ‘gets drunk and turns up to work with a hangover’ and so might a potential client. Also consider that these profiles can end up being listed in Google, great if you remember to include a link to your web site as Google loves inbound links to web sites (more info), but worth remembering that anyone who ‘Googles’ you may see this profile.

Once you’ve completed your profile you need to join some clubs. Firstly, of course, you need to join the Virtual Assistant Club, not run by the UKAVA or me but by fellow VA Kerry Anne Orr who does a sterling job of welcoming newcomers and keeping us all in order. The VA Club is a great place to start networking with other VA’s, are you looking for associates for holiday or sickness cover for example, and to find out what’s going on in the industry. Join up, click on the Forum button and introduce yourself – you’ll find a warm welcome: http://www.ecademy.com/module.php?mod=club&c=4450

Next I would suggest you find a local Ecademy club. Local clubs usually meet up monthly for face-to-face networking and you can also access the list of club members, great for introducing yourself and making contact either prior to or post face to face networking events. Under the search tab (under My Settings and Help on the right of the page) select Clubs and search for your town or city. Then keep your eye on the club to see when the next networking meeting is taking place and get along to it.

Finally I suggest you join some clubs that relate to your niche. Now this is a bit of a trade secret and I’m not sure if I should be sharing it but now it’s too late now! Again under the search box, search for clubs and enter a word relevant to your target customer, see what groups appear and join some. Before making any posts in these groups, read the Home page of the club to make sure of the etiquette. Some are business clubs and are therefore happy for you to tout for business, others are more for information sharing and they will frown upon you openly asking for referrals or advertising your services in an upfront way. When you know what you can and cant post, get in there and start networking with your niche.

To find out more and claim your free basic membership, visit: http://www.ecademy.com/?xref=103223

Networking With Virtual Assistants AND Potential Clients

We all know we should network and most of us manage to attend some events and network a bit online through various groups. We also like to have a bit of a chat with other virtual assistants to find out what is going on in the industry, occasionally pick their brains and share experiences. With Ecademy you can do both. In the comfort of your own home in front of your pc you can network with both potential clients and fellow VA’s. It’s simple and free to join and you can join clubs such as Virtual Assistants Club and others related to your client niche.

Sign up today and stay informed of all the VA industry’s latest news and find yourself some new clients while you’re there!

For more information, visit: http://www.ecademy.com/?xref=103223

Networking – Using Your Web Site

Most of us know that in order to attract new business through our web site, it has to be professional, attractive and present all the information our potential clients need, or do we? 

A web site is your tool for presenting your business. You network online and offline, you hand out cards with your web site address on, you include your web site address in all your offline marketing information, advertisements, flyers, leaflets, headed paper etc. You do, don’t you?

The logical first step for any potential client is to check out your web site before picking up the phone to you to make an enquiry. In many cases this can be as far as the enquiry goes. Until you meet your potential clients in person, your web site is the only representation of your business they see, so if its looking a little bit out of date, is missing some vital information (pricing, customer testimonials?) or has (gasp) spelling or grammatical errors, what impression does that give about you and the quality of your work?

A full Web Site Audit from Enable UK is certainly a really good start at getting your web site into shape, and once you are happy that its giving a great impression of you and your business, don’t forget to include it everywhere: The ‘signature’ at the bottom of your emails, all of your printed materials, a sign for the window of your car, sign up for Smart Stamp from Royal Mail and add your web site address and strap line to your postage label, everywhere and anywhere you can think of.

For more ideas and guidance, why not download the series of Internet Marketing Guides from Enable UK?

For more information, visit:
http://www.enable-uk.co.uk/html/diy_internet_marketing_guides.html

 

Simple Inexpensive Legal Documents to Protect Your Business and Your Clients

It was such a relief when I found this resource that I though it was about time I let you all in on a little secret. If like me you have an incomprehensible but still very real fear of solicitors, not only because you don’t understand half of their jargon, but also because before you walk through the door you know its going to be expensive, this web site is a little gem. Clickdocs produce a whole range of business documents for use by businesses based in England, Wales and Scotland from Terms and Conditions and Confidentiality Agreements to standard formatting and detail of what must be included in your Invoices. If you’re thinking of setting up as a Limited Company there are forms for this as well as advice on the differing legal entities for businesses. You can find a whole range of other documents you may also find useful including standard agreements for property letting, wills, power of attorney and financial agreements. There is practically a form for every eventuality and when they start from less than £5 and are emailed to you instantly, what could be more cost effective and convenient.

For more information about the range of documents on offer visit:

http://www.ukava.co.uk/html/inthenews_feb_08.html

New and Improved Services from the UKAVA

At the UK Association of Virtual Assistants, our continued investment in Internet Marketing has meant that the UKAVA generates a large amount of pre-qualified traffic to our web site, which in turn results in leads for our members. If you have an Enhanced Listing in our Virtual Assistant Directory these potential clients end up on your web site. But now we have introduced a FREE service for prospective Virtual Assistant clients to look for the perfect VA to suit their needs.

Prospects can now complete a short online form giving details of the work they have available and this information is emailed to all our members allowing you the chance to pick and chose who you want to work with. This means that you will be able to put your proposals direct to would-be clients through out the UK and Worldwide, not just those within your local area – we do work virtually after all! It also means that that you can tender for work as and when you need it. So if you’ve just lost your biggest client, or you’re just starting up and looking for your first clients, now is the time to start putting in those proposals!

If you are already a member of the UKAVA keep an eye on your email inbox for these alerts and if you’re not already a member, click on the link below to find out all the benefits membership brings.

http://www.ukava.co.uk/html/join_the_uk_association_of_vir.html

Virtual Assistants Networking Like Crazy at New Google Group

UKAVA Google Group

Yesterday saw the launch of the UK Association of Virtual Assistants Google Group. A user group or forum was something that had been in the pipeline for a while here at the UKAVA but we wanted a group that could be open to everyone, newbies and veterans alike. The group is free to join and participate in and boy have you all grabbed it by the horns. There I was yesterday sitting in my Google Group all alone and today, BAM, virtual assistants are coming from everywhere and all crazily networking to find complimentary skills, telephone answering services, transcription services, holiday cover – you name it. What are you waiting for? Get over there and join in!

http://groups.google.com/group/uk-association-of-virtual-assistants

MyOffice – EverythingYou Need, When and Where You Need It

Working virtually can be a challenge when it comes to managing diaries, checking email (both yours and your clients), sharing files and details of contacts, etc. Wouldn’t it be lovely if it could all be in one place where both you and your clients, and your associates if you have them, could access what you need, when you need it, anywhere in the world from any computer? Now you can.

MyOffice is a subscription based internet-hosted ‘virtual office’ designed for small and medium-sized businesses. It combines diaries / calendars, contacts, tasks, email, file store, reminders and notes into an integrated suite of collaboration tools to help you keep in touch with your colleagues.

Using MyOffice you can share diaries / calendars, manage your contacts, access your email from anywhere, organise and schedule tasks, store files, and much more. You don’t need any technical expertise or a huge financial outlay. My Office takes care of all operational aspects including security, round-the-clock support, software upgrades, server administration, and data backup … leaving you with more time to concentrate on the important things – like running your business!

Sign up for a free 30-day trial or purchase now for our fantastic Two for One offer. Buy one license for just £45 for a whole year and get another one absolutely free. That’s one for you and one for your client.

For more information, visit: http://www.myoffice.net/index.aspx?agentreferrer=ukava

VA Conference and Awards 2008

This years VA Conference and Awards started with a bang for those of us able to make the drinks reception on the Friday night. Then what a fantastic day! We had four brilliant and inspiring speakers this year and lots of chance to network and put faces to names.

Congratulations to everyone who entered the awards. I was one of the judges this year, representing the UK Association of Virtual Assistants, along with along with Jacky Workman of the IAVA, Gillian Richmond of EUMA and Linda Barton of IQPS. I’m delighted to say that out of the four finalists in the Awards, two were already members of the UKAVA and a third has since joined. Congratulations go to: Susan Moore of Moore VA and Emma Walker of CKPA in the Over 18 months in business category, and in the Under 18 months in business category well done to Sam Cannell of Versatile Assistant and Shelly McCaughey of Fultus. Brilliant work ladies.

GVEZHV7RJEKE

Mother At Work Awards 2008

In case any of you are looking to say thanks to an employer or get recognition for a friend or have a business as well as being a busy mum, then the [email protected] Awards are for you! They’ve just opened and the categories are:

Employer of the Future – for an employer with a great attitude to working mums (over and above statutory requirements) and their needs while making sure the business benefits

Best people manager – for a manager who has shown a great understanding of your needs as a working mum and gone out of their way to help you

Best Mumpreneur – for a mum who successfully runs her own business, whatever size. The winner gets a complimentary entry to the national business awards (normally £175)

Best Family Support – a chance for a working mum to say thanks to her family and win them a weekend break with Luxury Family Hotels

Most Exceptional Working Mother – for a working mum who has overcome obstacles or setbacks in her life.

You can read more about them and enter here: http://www.motheratwork.co.uk/awards-08/. Closing date for entries is April 11th. 

Taking Virtual Working To The Extreme

Justine Updating the Blog onboard EmeraldMy Virtual Assistant and UKAVA founder Justine Curtis was recently given the opportunity to realise a lifelong ambition to take part in the ARC yacht race across the Atlantic. As a marketing and PR expert, Justine was invited along to keep the world informed of the boats exploits by way of a blog and to liaise with the press both at the start of the race in Gran Canaria and at the end in St Lucia on behalf of green energy company Voller.

Justine is the Director and Business Development Manager of My Virtual Assistant a company offering PA and business support services to entrepreneurs and small businesses throughout the UK. She is also the founder of the UK Association of Virtual Assistants, an organisation set up to raise awareness of the role of virtual assistants (VAs) and provide information and advice for both VAs and their clients.

Voller Energy, a company that develops portable fuel cells, offered Justine the exciting opportunity to take part in the 2007 ARC Race. A fuel cell had been installed on their yacht Emerald for testing purposes and Justine’s role was to feed back throughout the race on the fuel cells performance and general conditions of life at sea under blue water racing conditions. Whilst this was a great opportunity, it would also mean 4 weeks away from her desk and Justine was keen not to let her existing My Virtual Assistant clients down or leave her business unattended. Although there was a satellite phone on the boat and therefore an Internet connection, all be it a very slow and expensive one, what she actually did is what every virtual assistant advocates, she handed over all the work that she could to another virtual assistant.

Justine said “It worked brilliantly, I spent a little time before I left going through all the possible scenarios with my associate VA Carol and putting together a cheat sheet of everything she might need to know and then left her to it. While I was away I had a temporary email address that I could check each day and if anything cropped up out of the norm, Carol could ask me what to do. It meant I could relax and enjoy the trip without worrying what was happening with my business or that of my clients and when I came back, for the first time ever after a break, everything was in order and I only had a days worth of email to deal with instead of the usual bursting inbox. Now I know why my clients appreciate leaving their businesses in capable, professional hands!”

The race was an eventful one with very rough weather conditions, many boats being damaged and several abandoned but Vollers Emerald made it to St Lucia relatively unscathed and the fuel cell performed brilliantly. The crew had an exciting crossing learning to catch fish, cook, eat and sleep on a boat that’s constantly lurching from 45 degrees one way to 45 degrees the other and enduring a series of shocks at 7Gs. They were delighted to finally arrive all in one piece to an eagerly anticipated rum punch and just in time for Christmas.

To read the blog of the crossing visit: http://blog.mailasail.com/emerald
Resources: Justine Curtis is the founder of My Virtual Assistant, a virtual office service operating across the UK, providing virtual office support, personal assistance, secretarial services, administration and business support services remotely from its UK based office.
For more information visit www.my-va.com

Justine is also the founder of the UK Association of Virtual Assistants (UKAVA) an organisation dedicated to raising awareness of the role of virtual assistants and providing information and advice for both virtual assistants and their clients. For more information visit www.ukava.co.uk

My Virtual Assistant and UKAVA Assists BBC Live and Learn and Gets New Start Up on the Road to Success

My Virtual Assistant and UKAVA founder Justine Curtis was recently called upon by the BBC to give advice to a virtual business start up taking part in their Live and Learn series. As a successful virtual business owner herself, Justine was asked to pass on the benefit of her experience and expertise to a young mum setting up her own virtual marketing company.

Justine is the owner of My Virtual Assistant (www.my-va.com) a company offering PA and secretarial services to entrepreneurs and small businesses virtually from her home office in the UK. She is also the founder of the UK Association of Virtual Assistants, (www.ukava.co.uk) an organisation set up to raise awareness of the role of virtual assistants (VAs) and provide a one-stop shop for information and advice for both VAs and their clients.

The BBC’s Live and Learn program focused on Claire, a young mum setting up her own virtual Internet marketing company. At the time she was introduced to Justine by the BBC, Claire was in the initial stages of setting up her company and was keen to learn the next steps, how to build her client base and how to let the world know her business existed. In a filmed meeting that took place on a chilly day in February in Basingstoke, UK, Claire was given the opportunity to ask all her burning questions. Justine freely gave advice about how to approach previous and existing contacts, how to network for new contacts and various organisations that could help her. She also gave advice on the importance of marketing your web site when your business is virtual and how best to go about it. At the end of the meeting Claire took on board the advice about networking and began by taking Justine’s business card in case she thought of any more questions she’d like to ask in the future.

The whole interview can be seen on the BBCs Live and Learn series, presented by Melinda Messenger, and can be viewed on BBC Interactive by pressing the red button.

Resources: Justine Curtis is the founder of My Virtual Assistant, a virtual office service operating across the UK, providing virtual office support, personal assistance, secretarial services and administration services remotely from its UK based office. For more information about Virtual Assistants visit www.my-va.com.

How to Get Involved With Social Media – LinkedIn

LinkedIn is more of a business networking tool than strictly a social one. It is structured in such a way that your occupation and education are featured more than hobbies and interests for example. However, it works in much the same way as Facebook in that you can invite people to connect with you and join common interest groups. It also has a feature where you can recommend people so it’s great for asking for testimonials.

For lots of advice and free tips, check out the FREEBIES page at the VA Success Group