List Building to Fill the Sales Funnel

I’m sure you’ve all heard of the sales funnel, where you start at the top filling the widest part of that funnel with prospects, and they filter through your sales funnel, inevitably decreasing in numbers along the way, until ultimately a number of the original prospects purchase a product or service from you.

The key to making more sales at the end of this process is often overfilling your funnel with lots more prospects than you think you actually need. Numbers will decrease for a multitude of reasons along the way so focus on list building activities to fill the top end of that funnel.
So where to start?

The following series will give you a few ideas to get your started.

Tip 1 – Newsletter opt in box. On your website, you need to include an opt-in box so that people can give you their name and email address. This automatically subscribes them to your weekly, fortnightly or monthly newsletter that will keep in touch with them to build the relationship – making it a responsive list.

File-Sharing Made Easy

Pc_Cartelle_003As a virtual assistant you need to share files in some way with your clients. Often you will find your clients are happy to email latest versions of documents and spreadsheets backwards and forwards and some even have a file-sharing system in place that you can have access to.

But what happens if your client doesn’t have their own systems and you will be both updating a ‘live’ file such as a contacts database or an expenses spreadsheet? How do you both have access to the same current version of the file? You can purchase file sharing software such as Microsoft’s Sharepoint, or you can use free software such as Google Docs which, not very helpfully, interferes with the formatting of some documents and limits the size and/or formats of the files you can upload.

Well now, there’s a free option that not only works brilliantly, but also has many other features including access to 30 days-worth of back-up copies, incase you accidentally delete or ruin a file. You can also access your files remotely when you are out of the office so there’s no longer a need to take that laptop on holiday!

Click here for more information and an extra 250MB of space free!

Top Ezine Housekeeping Rules – Tell Your Readers What To Do

Pc_Cartelle_003If you go to the effort of writing an ezine, do not forget to tell you readers what you want them to do next. You are writing in order to build a relationship. So, do you want them to go to your website to read the rest of the articles, or download something for free? Do you want them to purchase a product or service? If so, give them a reason to do it now rather than later, and provide a link to click, so they can buy it now. If you do not tell them what to do next, they will not do anything apart from read your ezine and delete it. Tell them what to do, and, provided that they are interested, they will do it.

Top Ezine Housekeeping Rules – Invite Interaction

Pc_Cartelle_003Do not forget to ask your readers for their comments, questions or future topics they would like to see covered. The whole point of writing an ezine or newsletter is to build a relationship with your prospects and invite further interaction. You want them to take the next step by picking up the telephone or sending you an email. Make it clear that not only is this an acceptable way of contacting you, but the best way.

Top Ezine Housekeeping Rules – Send Useful Information

Pc_Cartelle_003One of marketing’s basic rules is to know your target market well. Know their interests and things about which they like to be kept informed. If you come across information that you feel would be useful to your target audience, add it to your ezine (crediting the author or source, of course). The more useful the information you provide, the more likely your readers are to stay subscribed.

Top Ezine Housekeeping Rules – Use A Proper Email Delivery System

Pc_Cartelle_003When you first start sending out email newsletters, it is very tempting to send them using your normal email delivery service, such as Outlook. After all, it is free and already there on your desktop. However, internet service providers frown upon mass mailing, and you will find very quickly that your email address will be blacklisted and you may be banned from sending any email. There are many legitimate ezine delivery services available whose costs are minimal; use one to manage your mailing list.

Top Ezine Housekeeping Rules – A ‘Double Opt-in’ System

Pc_Cartelle_003If you use a proper ezine delivery service such as Constant Contact, Aweber or Vertical Response, your subscribers will go through what is known as a ‘double opt-in’. This means that, after submitting their email address through your website form or other link asking them to sign up for your newsletter, they will receive an email asking them to confirm their subscription by clicking on a link within it. This is key, as it stops third parties from adding subscribers without their knowledge.

Top Ezine Housekeeping Rules

Pc_Cartelle_003The following series will look at some housekeeping rules, which will ensure that you follow the strict etiquette of email marketing, while presenting yourself and your business in a professional and ethical way.

Make sure your subscribers actually subscribed

There is nothing more annoying than being inundated with unsolicited sales emails. We all hate it. If you are boosting your subscriber list by adding email addresses from business cards you have picked up, trawling the yellow pages or your local Chamber of Commerce’s mailing list, your messages risk not only going straight to the junk mail folder, but also alienating people with whom you might have established good working relationships. Make sure the owner of the email address has requested that you send them information, or, at the very least, has agreed to receive it.

Tips to Build Your Newsletter Subscriber List Tip 6

It’s simple but very effective, include an opt-in form on every page of your web site. It’s also worth checking your web statistics to see where people leave your web site. Check the last page they view before they leave and make sure there is a note asking them to sign up for your newsletter at the bottom of this page.

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

Affordable Web Sites for Virtual Assistants

It’s a bit of a given these days that in order to be taken seriously in the business world, you need to have a web site. When hearing about a company or service for the first time, how many of us head off to the “www.” to find out more? We all know that when work “virtually” in particular, we need to have an online presence, a web site. After all, we don’t have a shop front or an office building to impress our potential clients so our web site is our “shop window”, our opportunity to display our expertise and professionalism. Or is it?

It’s amazing how many virtual assistants don’t have a web site. There can be many reasons, or should I say excuses, including ‘a web site’s too expensive’, ‘I want to see if I get any interest before I spend a lot of money on a web site’, ’it’s too hard to get someone to update it’, ‘I don’t know anyone who can build me one’, ‘my brother/cousin/friend said they’d make me one, but they haven’t done it yet’, the list of reasons why a web site could be missing from your marketing armoury is as endless as it is senseless. It’s also absurd when getting your web site up and running is as easy and inexpensive as this.

You need to have a web site to run a ‘virtual’ business; it’s as simple as that. And now it’s as simple as it is cost effective. Web sites from the UKAVA cost from just £245 for everything you need. We even and include a years free hosting and an advert in the UKAVA Directory. Now there’s really no excuses for not getting your web site underway today!

Find all the information about virtual assistant web sites here

New Client Document Templates Pack

You are all set up and ready to go: got all the equipment, sorted out your website, printed some business cards, even done some networking. Then it happens… you get your first prospect!

Oh, no! Panic! What information do you need to give them about you and your business and how it all works? What questions should you ask them? How do you cover yourself? What terms and conditions should you have? Contracts… what contracts?

Relax; it is all here in the New Client Document Templates Pack. Simply cut and paste in your business details and you are ready to go!

Get a New Client Document Templates Pack here

Online Course Bundle – Fantastic 3 for 2 Offer

If you’re on this mailing list you’ve probably already experienced the tremendous value of our products. But now we are giving you the opportunity to get your hands on all three Online Courses, that’s:

Start Your Virtual Assistant Business

Marketing for Virtual Assistants

and Networking for Virtual Assistants

…all for the price of just two

You’ll learn absolutely everything you need to know to start, run and expand your virtual assistant business, all from the comfort of your own home.

Get your 3 courses for the price of 2 here

Do You Need Nagging?

You know how it is, you’ve been flat out meeting deadline after deadline for your clients and you’ve been turning away lots of new prospects as you simply can’t take on any more. You really want to expand but what’s the best way forward? Get an office and some staff? Work with associates?

Or worse, you’ve been banging away with the same old marketing activities and getting the same old results, i.e. no new clients, and you simply haven’t got around to writing that press release you were going to send to your target markets leading magazine.

It’s so easy to get lost in the day to day running of your virtual assistant business that sometimes it takes someone else to stop you in your tracks and point you back in the right direction. Some would call it nagging, some call it setting goals and being made accountable for achieving them, some would even call it sound business advice being freely given, targets being set with deadlines, and your progress monitored to make sure YOU get what YOU want from YOUR business.

At the VA Success Group we call it Mentoring.

Whether you need nagging, coaching, cajoling, mentoring or downright bullying we can help. But more than just ‘coaching’, as we’re also real live virtual assistants ourselves, we can also mentor you as to the best routes to take to overcome the hurdles achieve your goals. You not only get a ‘buddy’ to help you set your goals and targets and make you accountable, you also get sound, quality business advice.

Does that sound interesting?

Check out what’s available here>>>

Virtual Assistant Training – Why Every Start Up Should Invest In Their Education Part 2

When making the transition from employee to business owner you suddenly realise how much there is to learn and the number of additional skills you need to adopt in order to become successful. The quicker you can learn all this information and the faster you put it into practice, the more likely you are to succeed. With a huge number of new businesses failing in their first year, quality information is critical to ensuring you get everything right first time.

At the very least you will need guidance about how to start your virtual assistant business. About all the basics of getting everything set up correctly, your systems and processes, registering yourself as a business or self-employed, and what that means.

At that point, when you are all set up and ready to go, you will realise that clients do not actually come knocking at your ‘virtual’ door. You need to let the world know what you are doing and why they need it. This is where marketing and networking come in. All these are skills that can be learned so make sure you dedicate some time to educating yourself. Your determination and your level of knowledge will be the deciding factors in your success.

For more information about virtual assistant training click here

Virtual Assistant Training – Why Every Start Up Should Invest In Their Education Part 1

What vital things do you need to know when starting out as a virtual assistant, apart from how to manage a busy schedule and deliver an impeccable service?

People who consider setting themselves up as a virtual assistant often come from an administrative or PA type role. They have flawless administrative skills and know their way around the various software packages they need in order to complete those tasks for their own clients if they decide to forge ahead with their own VA business.

But what don’t they know? And do they even know what it is they need to learn before starting out?

The idea of having your own business and using your talents to be your own boss and earn a better living is a very appealing one. But how do you actually run a business? Providing the skills you have to help clients complete tasks or projects is indeed part of that. But there’s a lot more that you need to know.

For example:

How do you set your rates?

How do you make sure you get paid?

What equipment do you need – and what don’t you need?

How do you register a company – or do you need to?

Do you need insurance, and if so what kind?

What policies and procedures do you need?

Where do you find clients?

What effective and inexpensive ways are there to market my business?

How do you stand out from the crowd?

For more information about virtual assistant training click here

Your Own Virtual Assistant Business – In A Box

Have you always wanted to start your own business as a virtual assistant, but have been put off by the idea of starting from scratch?

Not sure what you need to know, how to avoid all the pitfalls, what to charge or how to make it all a success?

How would it feel if you could just click your heels together and land in your very own successful business that is up and running with all the tried and tested systems and processes already in place? And wouldn’t it be a dream if your business was already a market leader, with a raft of very happy clients and an enviable reputation for service and professionalism.

Click here for your own virtual assistant business in a box

Virtual Assistant VIP Day from VA Success Group

Put your foot on the accelerator to success with this fast track to success VIP Intensive Day. We pack in months of worth of coaching, mentoring and learning into a one day intensive strategy session that focuses solely on your business – no-one else but you!

What would it mean to you if you could have a step by step blueprint and plan you can follow to really build your business to the level you know it can be and create your perfect VA business?

That’s exactly what will happen at one of our VIP Intensive Days.

You will leave with a clear plan of what you need to do over the next 12 months so that you can start taking action immediately.

Talk to us to find out more

How to Get Involved With Social Media – Facebook

Many of us have used Facebook for personal networking for many years. But did you know you can also use if for business? Again it’s a great way to connect with people with similar interests and it’s easy to build relationships by interacting with other people in your network.

You can also create fan pages for your business and post events to advertise particular product launches.

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

New Client Document Templates Pack

You are all set up and ready to go: got all the equipment, sorted out your website, printed some business cards, even done some networking. Then it happens… you get your first prospect!

Oh, no! Panic! What information do you need to give them about you and your business and how it all works? What questions should you ask them? How do you cover yourself? What terms and conditions should you have? Contracts… what contracts?

Relax; it is all here in the New Client Document Templates Pack. Simply cut and paste in your business details and you are ready to go!

Get a New Client Document Templates Pack here

Online Course Bundle – Fantastic 3 for 2 Offer

If you’re familiar with the VA Sucess Group, you’ve probably already experienced the tremendous value of their products. But now they are giving you the opportunity to get your hands on all three Online Courses, that’s:

Start Your Virtual Assistant Business

Marketing for Virtual Assistants

and Networking for Virtual Assistants

…all for the price of just two

You’ll learn absolutely everything you need to know to start, run and expand your virtual assistant business, all from the comfort of your own home.

Get your 3 courses for the price of 2 here

Virtual Assistant VIP Day

Put your foot on the accelerator to success with this fast track to success VIP Intensive Day. We pack in months of worth of coaching, mentoring and learning into a one day intensive strategy session that focuses solely on your business – no-one else but you!

What would it mean to you if you could have a step by step blueprint and plan you can follow to really build your business to the level you know it can be and create your perfect VA business?

That’s exactly what will happen at one of our VIP Intensive Days.

You will leave with a clear plan of what you need to do over the next 12 months so that you can start taking action immediately.

Find out more here: http://vasuccessgroup.co.uk/products/virtual-assistant-mentoring/

Virtual Assistant VIP Day from VA Success Group

Put your foot on the accelerator to success with this fast track to success VIP Intensive Day. We pack in months of worth of coaching, mentoring and learning into a one day intensive strategy session that focuses solely on your business – no-one else but you!

What would it mean to you if you could have a step by step blueprint and plan you can follow to really build your business to the level you know it can be and create your perfect VA business?

That’s exactly what will happen at one of our VIP Intensive Days.

You will leave with a clear plan of what you need to do over the next 12 months so that you can start taking action immediately.

Talk to us to find out more

Virtual Assistant: The Mummy Myth Revisited

Think of a virtual assistant – what do you see?  One of the most common stereotypes of a VA is a stay at home mum earning pin money by working in the evenings and juggling childcare.  This image has dogged the industry for many years, and it’s a stereotype that VAs find hard to shake.

Back in 2010, the VA industry’s body www.societyofvirtualassistants.co.uk first asked their members whether this was true – did they have young children and if so, did they have childcare in place?  Strangely, this myth got shattered…  just 3-4% of VAs were working in this way, making it comparable with the number of males in this heavily female-dominated industry.

However the latest figures from this survey are showing an interesting trend: Whilst numbers of mums with young children have remained fairly constant, they have seen a significant increase in mums working without childcare in place.  The reason might be down to changing technology, explains SVA founder, Caroline Wylie.

“Alongside this unusual figure, we’ve also seen a big uplift in VAs offering Social Media Management as a service, with it outperforming several traditional services such as call answering and bookkeeping.  This can be done outside traditional working hours, so it’s possible our VA mums are taking advantage of the flexibility and working after the kids go to bed without having to fork out for childcare.  It’s still a very small percentage of VAs working this way, but certainly an interesting trend because in previous years we saw VAs without childcare earning less overall and charging a lower hourly rate.”

With home working bringing in £19 billion to the UK economy, small businesses are rapidly becoming an important part of the UK’s infrastructure – and they need admin support which is flexible and professional to support them.

Caroline goes on to say: “That glass ceiling just doesn’t exist for women when they build their own business.  The world is changing, and business is changing with it.”

This year’s survey can be purchased from http://www.societyofvirtualassistants.co.uk/va-products/

Virtual Assistant Survey

Each year SVA gathers information on the UK’s virtual assistants and share the highlights with you in a free summary report.  You don’t need to be an SVA member, but must be UK based and have at least one active virtual assistant client in order to take part.  Your results are totally anonymous and we use your email solely to send you the free summary report.  Year on year we get a fascinating insight into where the industry is, what we’ve achieved and trends which can help you market your business more effectively – as well as benchmarking your business against “the norm”.

Click here to take part:

http://www.societyofvirtualassistants.co.uk/uk-va-industry-survey-take-part/

(We recommend using Firefox/Explorer as your browser and clearing all cache/cookies if you are having problems accessing the survey)

Tips For 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 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.

Advertising Your Virtual Assistant Business on a Budget  – Lesson One – Word Of Mouth

If you’ve just started out and you’ve done a piece of work for a client who is pleased with the results, they will talk about it. My advice in the early days is to under promise and over deliver. Think about how you can ‘delight’ your customer. What can you add or improve that would really ‘wow’ them? Could you deliver the work early, could you suggest some ideas that might improve it, could you put them into contact with a potential new client that you know? Anything that is seen as going the extra mile and helping your client within their business will be appreciated. When they thank you for it, ask them if they know anyone else who might need your services. Put it in their mind that you are looking for new clients in this way and they may send you referrals. More on referrals next time!

For more information about how to market your virtual assistant business, take a look at the VA Success Groups Marketing for Virtual Assistants Online Course >>>

Virtual Assistants and the Importance of Client Consultation

With a large number of virtual assistants to choose from these days, how can a potential client select who they want to work with? How can you project a professional image and create synergy with someone you’ve never met? What can you do or say to make them think ‘I’ve got to work with this person’?

When I first started out as a virtual assistant, more years ago than I care to remember, there weren’t many other VA’s around and therefore not much competition. Nowadays, a sizeable proportion of the clients I take on have worked with at least one other VA in the past. When I ask what differences they notice between how we work and what they have experienced in the past, it is often commented on that what they like more than anything is that we work as a partnership with our clients, being proactive in their businesses and looking for opportunities for them and suggesting ideas, as opposed to those VAs that just sit and wait for work to be delegated to them.

So how do we achieve that distinction? Part of it is the mind-set. When you make the leap from being an employee to a sole trader or business owner you will quickly realise that if you sit around and wait for work to be delegated, you won’t get very much of it. At that point you learn to make yourself an active member of your clients ‘team’ very quickly or you will soon start to flounder.

To give a great impression straight away it’s important to ask the right questions at the first meeting with your potential client, before they sign up. You need to ascertain where you can be most useful to them. What are their weak points? What work do they have to do that they continually put off either because there is no time or because they don’t enjoy it? Find out what their plans are for their business. What do they want to achieve?

Once the client has come on board you need to maintain the momentum with scheduled meetings as an on-going process both with regular and ad-hoc clients. By having detailed monthly catch up meetings, either in person or by telephone, you can identify what is coming up in their calendar and how you can help them by sharing some of that workload.

For some really great documents to help you both with initial client consultations and on-going client reviews, take a look at New Client Pack and Client Management Pack

Want To Be A Virtual Assistant?

Setting yourself up as a virtual assistant is an exciting step but one which should not be taken without some serious consideration. Starting any new business, particularly one where you work from home, can appear either a stimulating or frightening prospect, or both, depending on your perspective and experience. Breaking out from the ‘employed’ world and into one where you are your own boss is an exhilarating prospect, but being responsible for that business and solely reliant on yourself to generate your income can be a very daunting reality.

We have published a guide designed to raise some points you may not have considered and pose a series of questions you need to ask yourself in order to decide if setting yourself up as a virtual assistant is really for you. If you decide it is, what follows is a list of steps to help you navigate your way through this new alien self employed environment and put you firmly on the road to success – all for just £9.95

Click here to get your copy today!

How To Work With Virtual Assistant Associates

You can work with Associates in one of two ways, or indeed, a combination of both.

Firstly you can retain all the client contact so that he/she never knows that the work they are sending you has been completed by a third party.

The plus side here is that you will never have to worry about unscrupulous associates who may attempt to take the client from you, or underhand clients who think they may save a pound or two if they cut you out of the equation and work directly with your associate.

The downside is there will be inevitable delays as you send work back and forth, and you will have to be not only very aware of every piece of work as you will have to discuss it with the client where necessary, you will have to double check everything that goes out. All this additional admin can become very time consuming.

The second way to work with an associate is to effectively pass the client over to them and allow direct communication.

This frees up much more of your time as all discussions about the tasks performed are direct between the client and the associate. However, do make sure that you have very solid contracts in place with both your associate and your client to prevent them working directly together.

Also bear in mind that associates will not be with you forever so make sure you keep yourself up to speed with the clients account information, that you have access to all their files and the work completed by the associate, and that you maintain a relationship with them have contacting them regularly to check in and see how things are going.

It’s imperative to have an Associate Agreement in place so that everyone understands the boundaries of the relationship. For more information and a selection of templates you can download and adapt for your own business click here >>>

Expanding Your Virtual Assistant Business with Associates

When you have filled your virtual assistant business with clients, you will soon run out of time that you can sell to new prospects. After all, you only have so many hours in the day that you can work. So how can you expand and take on more business without the overheads of getting an office and taking on staff?

It’s time to introduce you to the Virtual Assistant Associate.

Working with associates is a very popular business model in several industries as it works in much the same way as working with a virtual assistant. When there is work you don’t have the time to complete, your clients outsource it to you. When you have an excess of client work you don’t have time to complete, you outsource it to an associate.

Associates work at a reduced hourly rate to that you have charged your client, as they have been handed the work ‘on a plate’ without having to do all the marketing and relationship building associated with bringing that client on board.

You also continue to manage the client relationship and invoicing, and the client remains a customer of your business rather than becoming a direct customer of your associate.

It’s imperative to have an Associate Agreement in pace so that everyone understand the boundaries of the relationship. For more information and a selection of templates you can download and adapt for your own business click here >>>

Virtual Assistant VIP Day

Put your foot on the accelerator to success with this fast track to success VIP Intensive Day.  The VA SUccess Group pack in months of worth of coaching, mentoring and learning into a one day intensive strategy session that focuses solely on your business – no-one else but you!

What would it mean to you if you could have a step by step blueprint and plan you can follow to really build your business to the level you know it can be and create your perfect VA business?

That’s exactly what will happen on your VIP Intensive Day.

You will leave with a clear plan of what you need to do over the next 12 months so that you can start taking action immediately.

Talk to us to find out more

Virtual Assistant Legal Stuff – What You Need and Why

There’s often chat in the virtual assistant world regarding contracts versus terms and conditions and whether the formal approach of issuing contracts actually puts off potential clients. Some hold the opinion that published terms and conditions are enough and that displaying these on your web site or issuing them to new clients should be sufficient. To an extent I agree that issuing a 10 page contract to a new client who is only looking to work with you for a few hours on a one-off project can seem a little over doing it. Of course in this instance you should ask for payment up front. But when it comes to long term clients, a word of caution…

Several years ago I had my first non-payer. We had worked together for several months and he had always paid on time. Then, over a period of a few months things slipped and he ended up owing me a couple of thousand pounds. When I had the audacity to ask when my invoices would be paid, his response proved that actually he no longer needed my services and was simply looking to get as much work as possible from me for free before the penny dropped with me that he was actually not intending to pay. The long and short of it was that I eventually got the money but it was after a lengthy court process and a lot of stress.

Lessons learned? I immediately took advice on what should be included in my contract because, although I had one at the time, it was nowhere near watertight enough and I hadn’t included things I could charge for such as penalties for late payment and interest. If at the time I could have produced his signed contract accepting these clauses, I could have been much more effective in collecting the debt before it went through the whole legal process. After all, if you were presented in an option of pay the invoiced amount today, or in 7 days it will cost you 15% more in penalties plus interest, wouldn’t you pay now?

I also now only accept clients on a pay up front basis and have never had any prospect or client comment or complain about this way of working. This in itself won’t cover you completely as there are always the extra hours you may work over and above what has been prepaid, and then of course there are the additional expenses which can mount up. But, in general, it does prevent a similar situation from occurring again.

In summary I would suggest you do both, get a proper, legally binding contract in place AND charge your clients up front for the hours you will work for them. Contracts for both short term ‘Pay As You Go’ clients and those on more long term ’Retainer’ arrangements can be found at the VA Success Group.

For a selection of templates you can use within your virtual assistant business, take a look at the Legal Templates Pack provided by the VA Success Group here >>>

Becoming a Successful Virtual Assistant

Many Virtual Assistants start out in their businesses by working towards the finish line of what they perceive to be a successful VA business.  They will research online what everyone else is doing and strive to achieve something very similar. They will spend time deciding what services they will offer, how they will offer them and going about finding the right clients.  But before this process really starts, you should begin by defining what success really means to you. You need to drill down and establish the type of success that you want and how you want to achieve it.

Successful doesn’t necessarily have to mean the largest or most profitable VA business. It could be a business that fits in around your lifestyle, or one that develops a fantastic reputation within a very niche market.

It’s also important to understand that there are several levels or models of virtual assistant businesses you can operate.  From the one-man band to the office based team, these can follow in sequence as you grow or you can start with you favoured business model in mind and develop that to its full potential. As you also develop with experience, practice and gaining the knowledge that you need for the job, you will be able to become more successful with your business.  Continuing to define what you need and constantly growing into your virtual assistant business will help you to find your success.

The most important thing to keep in mind with your virtual assistant business is that the satisfaction should come from the process, not the goal.  No matter what stage you are at, there is always room for growth. This may mean that you will grow into success by redefining the services that you offer or by continually refining your professional standards.  Or it may mean developing your skills in certain areas or learning new ones to make you a well-rounded and progressive virtual assistant. The more you know and the more you can offer, the better of a chance you will have at continuing your success.

Becoming a successful virtual assistant simply means taking the steps that you need to be successful and achieve your own goals, whatever they may be.  By beginning with your own idea of what success in your business would mean to you, and moving forward one step at a time.

To get your business off to a successful start, why not enrol on the online Start Your Virtual Assistant Business Online Course

 

The Secret to Successful Networking Is Following Up Part 2

The first step in this process is to say that you would like to meet with them again and that you will call to arrange a time and place to have a coffee and a chat. Then call when you say you will and make that arrangement.

When you meet for that coffee, make sure you have done some research about the business of the person you are meeting and prepare in advance ideas about how you can help them within their business.

Do they publish an online newsletter you can produce for them? Do they send out information packs or quotations to prospects and could you do this for them? Do they work away from the office most of the time, could you handle their telephone calls or check their email for them?

The more prepared you are the more you will be able to drop ideas into the conversation without sounding as though you are ‘selling’.

Don’t forget also to think about who you know that could potentially be a client or useful contact for your prospect. The whole point of networking is to give and take and if you start the relationship by giving something of value to your prospect, you will instantly win their respect and trust and they will see you as someone they would like to work with in future.

If you would like more advice about networking, check out the Networking for Virtual Assistants Online Course from the VA Success Group

The Secret to Successful Networking Is Following Up Part 1

We have all heard that networking is a successful strategy for gaining clients for your virtual assistant business, but why are some people very successful at it while others wonder if they’ve just wasted their money and eaten too many fried breakfasts?

One of the most common reasons for the divide between who is successful at networking and those who are not, is those that are successful follow up.

By following up I don’t mean saying hello again at the next networking event, I mean actively keeping in contact with the people you meet outside of the networking event. How often have you met someone at an event who has expressed some interest and could use your expertise, but you never heard from them again? Did you follow up with them after the event, or did you leave it to them?

You are the service provider in this relationship so it’s up to you to get in contact with that prospect and tell them, in whatever way is appropriate, how you can help them.

Look out for part 2 of this article coming soon.

If you would like more advice about networking, check out the Networking for Virtual Assistants Online Course from the VA Success Group

Building On Start Up Virtual Assistant Success

Any successful Virtual Assistant that’s been bouncing around the industry for a while will tell you that the road to success in virtual assisting can be a bit of a bumpy ride.  Becoming a self-employed business owner can often be a scary prospect as suddenly, there’s no-one to ask. No-one to tell you what equipment you need, no-one to ask how to best protect yourself with your client agreements, no-one to ask about the best way to grow and expand your business.

The VA Success Group was set up to deal with these issues and you probably already know that there’s a hugely informative Start Your Virtual Assistant Business Online Course to teach you all the basics and you can download all sorts of Document Template packs to help you with the legal aspects and client management.

But what happens when your business is up and running and you decide that this year is going to be the year when you really push your business forward. What do you do?

The first thing is to identify what ‘success’ really means for you. It sounds simple but it is different for everyone. Do you want a six figure income, or do you simply want to replace your old full time salary and only work part time hours? Or do you even want to build a highly successful business that you can then sell on as a going concern and retire on the profits?

Once you’ve decided what you want to achieve, the next step is to decide how you will get there. You need to set out your objectives, define your marketing strategy, set your budget and organise your operational process to take it all into account.

You’ll also need to decide if you already have all the tools you need, or if you need some training or professional advice in order to achieve your goals. You may also need someone to hold you accountable as without it, it’s all too easy for the big goals to get lost in the minutiae of the day to day.

Keep your goals written down and place them somewhere you will see them every day, if they are in the forefront of your mind you will be more likely to take advantage of any unexpected opportunities that come your way. Also remember that there are many paths to reach your goals, and if one goes a bit off track, try another.

If you would like advice and support from two of the most successful virtual assistants in the UK today, people who have really been there and done it’, along with the feedback and accountability of a whole group of VA’s dedicated to building their own successful businesses, the VA Success Groups Mentoring programmes could be just what you need.

If you would like some 1 to 1 help from Justine with moving your business forwards, take a look at the mentoring calls available here >>>

Gaining Control of Your Social Media

Are you spending hours a day posting Tweets and Facebook updates, or more time than you can spare on keeping up with LinkedIn and the like?

Have you heard of Hootsuite? Hootsuite will allow you to post social media updates across multiple accounts and even schedule them in advance. There are analysis tools, so you can see your success and you can even have multiple contributors to your social profiles without sharing passwords (so great for nervous virtual assistant clients!).

The basic package is free so get yours here today!

Virtual Assistant Marketing – Niche to Streamline Your Efforts

Many Virtual Assistants shy away from the idea of marketing to attract a particular niche as they are concerned that they will be turning away hoards of prospects from other industries. But if you have ever tried to be everything to everyone, you’ll soon learn that you end up appealing to no-one and as your marketing efforts are spread too thinly, you end up out of pocket and frustrated by poor results.

When you market to a niche you are targeting a very small select group of people. With research you can identify what that group of people have in common and in what areas where they will all be struggling. This way you can tailor your marketing message, the words that you use, to suit the target market. For example, if you were to target a group of individuals that were constantly away from home due to their line of work, you could say something in your marketing material like ‘Are you constantly away from home and worrying that the post is not being dealt with or you’ll come home to find that your car has run out of tax or the boiler has not been serviced?’ Do you see how someone who was away all the time would identify with that question? They may well have already experienced a situation like that or know that it will happen at some point.

Now you can follow up that question with your solution, something like, ‘Our Mail Handling and Lifestyle Management services mean that we can run your home and life for you while you are away meaning that you will never have to be reliant on public transport or have a cold bath ever again!’ Do you see how that would appeal to them?

You can of course use the same approach with any niche market. With a bit of research you can establish where you might be needed and what services you can offer to add value. So don’t forget next time you are out networking, chat to people in niches that interest you, find out what they struggle with and if these are general issues for people in their industry. Then even if that particular person doesn’t need your services yet, you can still tailor your marketing message using what you have learned and target others from their industry.

A little bit more research will also tell you where you can find these people, what publications do they read, what groups or associations do they belong to? When you know what message to put before them, and you know what channels you have available to get in front of them the rest is child’s play.  So as you can see, marketing to a niche is an effective way of streamlining your marketing efforts and achieving better results.

If you would like some 1 to 1 help from Justine with moving your business forwards, take a look at the mentoring calls available here >>>

Virtual Assistant Tips – Getting Those First Clients

When starting your virtual assistant business, after getting together all you equipment, getting excited over your business cards and web site, there comes the sudden realisation that here you are, all ready to go and there isn’t actually a queue of people knocking down your door to work with you. Yikes!

One of the questions I’m asked most often is ‘Where do you get your clients’. Usually the question is asked by new start up virtual assistants, but more recently I’ve been asked by more established VA’s who have started to struggle during the recession. Newbies have generally spent lots of time putting together their business by purchasing equipment and organising their office, but have forgotten the fundamentals of putting together their marketing plan. Then when they are all set up and ready to go and have opened their virtual doors to the world they find that the phone isn’t ringing and the email Inbox isn’t full of enquiries. More established VA’s, once they have enough clients, put marketing on the back burner until such a time as they need to look for new clients again.

If either of these sounds like you, you need to develop a marketing plan, and fast.

Firstly take a long hard look at your contacts and include everyone you’ve ever worked with, all your contacts through previous businesses if appropriate and family and friends. What contacts do you already have that you can ask for referrals? If you are already running a VA business, when did you last ask your clients for referrals? Don’t discount anyone because you think they wouldn’t need your services. They may well know someone who does.

Next take stock of all the skills you have and the industries you have worked in or that interest you. Consider what services can you offer and to whom? If you have been a book keeper with an IT firm for many years, you are going to find it far easier to offer your virtual book keeping services to other IT firms as you know something about their market and their ‘language’. If you target an industry or sector you have experience of, you will be seen as the virtual assistant who is an expert in this field and have an advantage over any other VA.

When you have decided on your target market, or niche, think about how you can reach them. Do they belong to particular organisations, read certain publications or as is the case with one of my niches, do they all drink on a Thursday afternoon in bars within a square mile of a certain point in London?

When you know where to find them, consider how you can get your message to them. While advertising in general is expensive and often pointless unless you can afford to take out a run, perhaps you could write an article for a trade publication, or give a presentation at an event your ‘suspects’ will attend. Think outside of the box for some interesting and inexpensive ideas that will have impact on your particular target market and keep you stimulated and motivated.

Above all, keep marketing as a continual process and recognise that although you may not get clients immediately from you efforts, in time your consistency will pay dividends.

If you would like some 1 to 1 help from Justine with moving your business forwards, take a look at the mentoring calls available here >>>

Your Own Virtual Assistant Business – In A Box

Have you always wanted to start your own business as a virtual assistant, but have been put off by the idea of starting from scratch?

Not sure what you need to know, how to avoid all the pitfalls, what to charge or how to make it all a success?

How would it feel if you could just click your heels together and land in your very own successful business that is up and running with all the tried and tested systems and processes already in place? And wouldn’t it be a dream if your business was already a market leader, with a raft of very happy clients and an enviable reputation for service and professionalism.

Click here for your own virtual assistant business in a box

List Building to Fill the Sales Funnel Tip 10

Paid advertising.

Advertising online is very simple with tools such as Google AdWords. It allows you to appear at the top or side of the main search results for a fee. Be careful with your budget and again, make sure you get these visitors on your list to be really cost effective.

When you’ve implemented a range of these activities to build your list, look at which ones are producing the best results for your particular business. Then step up those activities and let go of some of the lower performing options.

For more information about how to market your virtual assistant business, take a look at the VA Success Groups Marketing for Virtual Assistants Online Course 

List Building to Fill the Sales Funnel Tip 8

Write articles about your subject.

One of the best ways to become seen as an expert in your industry in the eyes of your target market is to write on the subject. Write articles and syndicate them online. Don’t forget to include your website link to your author information.

For more information about how to market your virtual assistant business, take a look at the VA Success Groups Marketing for Virtual Assistants Online Course

List Building to Fill the Sales Funnel Tip 7

Don’t be afraid of social media.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, whichever ones you choose to get involved in, social media is a great way to expand your sales funnel. Offer free tips, advice and articles here. Answer questions to demonstrate your expertise. And above all, get them to your website so they will add themselves to your list.

For more information about how to market your virtual assistant business, take a look at the VA Success Groups Marketing for Virtual Assistants Online Course

List Building to Fill the Sales Funnel Tip 6

Interview some experts.

If you can talk on the telephone, you can interview an expert in a similar field. You can offer it as a live teleseminar, or group call, or offer it afterwards as a recording. By asking your expert to also promote the interview to their mailing list, you will end up with many of their contacts subscribing to yours.

For more information about how to market your virtual assistant business, take a look at the VA Success Groups Marketing for Virtual Assistants Online Course

List Building to Fill the Sales Funnel Tip 4

Get involved in new media options such as audio and video.

Audio and video are very powerful mediums, so don’t be afraid to make a short podcast or video welcoming your web site visitors and actually tell them to sign up for more information.

For more information about how to market your virtual assistant business, take a look at the VA Success Groups Marketing for Virtual Assistants Online Course