Building a Top Notch Virtual Team – Tip 1

Invest in your outsourcing education.

If you’ve never outsourced before, or you’re not sure what you can offload to someone else, experiment. Invest a small amount of cash in outsourcing something small. If you don’t have anything small, make something up. If it’s admin, get someone to put all your business cards into a spreadsheet or database, if you’re looking for design work, get someone to design a logo, if it’s proof reading, send over a short document with deliberate minor mistakes. You get the idea. The point is to see what works for you, and to get used to letting go.

Building a Top Notch Virtual Team

Whether you run a business from the comfort of your own home office, or you have a ‘real’ office and operate with a team of outsourcers, subcontractors, home based or office based employees, chances are you will be working virtually with some of your team members.

Outsourcing to an experienced professional makes perfect business sense. It’s easy when you first start out to try and save every single penny by doing everything yourself. Then when the cash flow has improved, you might try outsourcing on the cheap, a project to a student, an everyday task to an admin service in India, a design task via an outsourcing bidding site such as Elance. Been there? Ever done it again? I thought not.

Trying to do everything yourself, or outsourcing to the cheapest option is false economy. In your business you need hire professional outsourcers who are experienced, skilled and proficient at the services they provide. Established businesses who thrive because they take a vested interest in producing high quality work for your business.

The point of outsourcing is not always to find someone to do the task better than you or even cheaper – it’s to offload the majority of your daily required work so that you can focus on the core portion of your business where you add unique value. Think of it as the 80/20 rule. If 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort, then spend all your time on that high yielding 20% and outsource the rest.

So how do you go about building a top notch virtual team? The following series of tips will help.

Virtual Assistants – How to Stay Focussed On Your Own Business Goals – Tip 5

You should allot a certain portion of your day to email and to regular mail. For example, allot one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon to handling all your written communications. Unless you dedicate specific time slots to the handling of email and post, you will soon find yourself on the downward slope of decreased productivity as you constantly check and respond to email to put off whatever you should be doing.

In a nutshell, the success of your VA business is entirely and completely reliant upon you and the decisions that you make. Success is within your reach, if only you can stay focused on your goals. You must decide to reach for your goals, and then, you must have the discipline necessary to reach them.

About the Author:

Justine Curtis is the director of her own successful virtual assistant business My Virtual Assistant http://www.my-va.com and founder of The UK Association of Virtual Assistants (UKAVA) which offers free resources and information to its subscribers – sign up at https://www.ukava.co.uk. Justine is the author of Setting Yourself Up As A Virtual Assistant and is delighted to be able to pass on the benefits of her vast experience of the VA role to aspiring and progressive virtual PAs as a co-founder of the VA Success Group. If you are thinking about starting a virtual assistant business, visit http://vasuccessgroup.co.uk

Virtual Assistants – How to Stay Focussed On Your Own Business Goals – Tip 4

Don’t permit your friends and extended family to put on you. Many people are under the misapprehension that if someone works from home then they are not actually working. They may believe that you are fair game for a social call during the day or that you may be able to run errands that would otherwise mean them taking time off work.

It’s really important to set the ground rules early and then stand firm. You must make certain your friends and family understand that when you are working, then you ARE working and that when your time is interrupted, you will not be earning. You are the only one who can stand up for you. Your friends and family will seldom be able to appreciate your dedication to your business, unless you make the effort to make sure that they have the same respect for your business that you do.

Virtual Assistants – How to Stay Focussed On Your Own Business Goals – Tip 3

When you are dealing with family in the course of your workday, it is important to schedule your activities as much as possible. With small children, you must take time when you need to, but you should also work hard to make sure you dedicate a specific number of hours to your workday.

With older children, it is much easier to tell them that you will be working between the hours of x and y. Then your children, and even your friends, must understand that certain hours of your day are devoted to the activities of your business.

Virtual Assistants – How to Stay Focussed On Your Own Business Goals – Tip 2

Remember that owning your own business is not the same as being employed in a job. Some people go to work and coast along, playing games or enjoying online social networking (Facebook and the like), some socialise over the kettle or printer, and others, most often those who are paid in a commission or tip environment, go to work to work to make money. When you work for yourself, what you make in terms of income is directly proportional to your productivity. Therefore, wouldn’t it make sense to stay focused on getting as much done in as short of a period as possible? Go to work to work and to make money. Leave socialising for when your workday has ended.

Virtual Assistants – How to Stay Focussed On Your Own Business Goals – Tip 1

As the owner of a Virtual Assistant business, you will find that hundreds of distractions that vie for your time, energy and focus. Common distractions can include children, family and friends, neighbours, pets, constant telephone calls, post and deliveries, household chores, television (Lorraine Kelly or Loose Women anyone?) and so many more.

As the owner of your own Virtual Assistant business, you must always remember your purpose in bringing your profession home. What was your reason for wanting to own your own home based business? Was your goal to work from home so that you can share more in the lives of your children? Was your goal to be out from under the rule of a dictatorial boss? Was your goal to have the freedom to work when it is convenient for you? Was your goal to reap the rewards of your efforts and make lots of money working for yourself?

Whatever your reasons for starting your VA business, the following series of tips will help you stay focused.

1. Whatever your reason for going out on your own, you must keep your reason in the forefront of your mind. If you forget your reason for starting your own Virtual Assistant business, you will not be working for yourself for long. It is far too easy to let circumstance drive you and when circumstance is in the driver’s seat, you are more likely to crash and burn.

Creating the Right First Impression Tip 6

Do What You Say, When You Say You Will

It sounds obvious, but make sure you follow up. If you promise to send a contact’s details, do it! If you arrange to send more information by the end of the day, make sure you do! Nothing will kill a relationship faster than not following up by the time you say you will.

About the Author:

Justine Curtis is the director of her own successful virtual assistant business My Virtual Assistant Limited http://www.my-va.com which is now recruiting a team of virtual assistant licensees and founder of The UK Association of Virtual Assistants (UKAVA) which offers free resources and information to its subscribers. Justine is the author of Setting Yourself Up As A Virtual Assistant and is proud to be able to pass on the benefits of her vast experience of the VA role to aspiring and progressive virtual PAs as a co-founder of the VA Success Group. If you are thinking about starting a virtual assistant business, visit http://vasuccessgroup.co.uk

Creating the Right First Impression Tip 5

What Else Can You Add of Value?

When you are meeting a prospect, or attending a networking event, you will, understandably, be focused on what you can get out of the experience. But be prepared to give a little, too. This could simply involve making an introduction to another of your contacts, who may be useful to your prospect, or offering a free piece of advice or your expert opinion. Small, helpful acts like this will create a great impression and ensure that you are memorable to your prospect.

Creating the Right First Impression Tip 4

Make Yourself Clear

Make sure you are prepared for the specific situation. If you are attending a networking group, make sure you have perfected your one-minute presentation, are prepared to speak to prospects on a one-to-one basis, and have a ready answer to the inevitable question, ‘what do you do?’. If meeting a prospect who knows a little more about you and your business, make sure you are clear on what you are offering and how your service works, and be prepared to explain this in simple terms without jargon.

Creating the Right First Impression Tip 3

Are You Interested?

As well as having the opportunity to speak about yourself and your business, it is equally important to show interest in your prospect and their business activities. You will create a great first impression if you listen carefully and ask questions. By doing this, you will be able to find common points of connection, as well as identify areas where you will be able to help them professionally.

Creating the Right First Impression Tip 2

Oozing Confidence?

Now you’re sure you look the part, you can walk into any room with your head held high and your confidence intact. Arrive in plenty of time for any appointment, as you don’t want to be rushed. Stand up straight and tall, look the other person in the eye when introducing yourself, and don’t forget to shake hands firmly – no one likes a limp-lettuce handshake!

Creating the Right First Impression Tip 1

As the old saying goes, ‘you only get one chance to create a good first impression’. When you are running your own business, it is imperative that, within the first few seconds, anyone meeting you, or being introduced to your business, gets a great first impression.

In this article, we will give you some simple tips to ensure that the prospects you meet are impressed by you, like you and, critically, want to do business with you.

Looking Good?

Is your blouse ironed? Are your shoes polished? It may sound immaterial, but in the eyes of your potential client, the care you take over your appearance symbolises the level of care and attention-to-detail you would take over their work. If you turn up with chipped nail polish and lipstick on your teeth, they may wonder if you going to send out their letters with spelling mistakes in them, or send emails to the wrong people. Take time to check your appearance before meeting your prospects.

Turn Your Virtual Assistant Practice Clients into Raving Fans! Tip 5

Better Than Advertising
As you can see, creating your brand or the ‘image’ for your company isn’t about expensive graphic designers or advertising experts. It’s about identifying what’s great about your business and communicating that in a clear and consistent way. If you can turn your clients into raving fans, they’ll not only stick with you through these turbulent times, they’ll also recommend others to you. Now that’s got to be better than spending a fortune on advertising!

About the Author:

Justine Curtis is the director of her own successful virtual assistant business My Virtual Assistant http://www.my-va.com and founder of The UK Association of Virtual Assistants (UKAVA) which offers free resources and information to its subscribers – sign up at https://www.ukava.co.uk. Justine is the author of Setting Yourself Up As A Virtual Assistant and is delighted to be able to pass on the benefits of her vast experience of the VA role to aspiring and progressive virtual PAs as a co-founder of the VA Success Group. If you are thinking about starting a virtual assistant business, visit http://vasuccessgroup.co.uk

Turn Your Virtual Assistant Practice Clients into Raving Fans! Tip 4

How Can You ‘Delight the Customer?’
Years ago I used to work for a holiday company who used the line ‘delight the customer’. The idea was that you don’t want the customer just to be satisfied with what you have produced for them. In order to get them singing your praises you really need to ‘delight’ them. So what can you do to delight your clients? Where can you add that little bit of extra value or really show some initiative? If you are seen to be going that extra mile, your clients will love you for it and that’s when they start to become your raving fans and tell everyone how great you are.

Turn Your Virtual Assistant Practice Clients into Raving Fans! Tip 3

What Weaknesses Can You See?
Some of these may be related to the industry as a whole, for example it may be that as you work remotely you cant make the coffee ;o) However, be aware if things crop up that you can do something about. Perhaps you have missed deadlines or you are not up to speed with particular software that your clients use. Think about how you can improve on these for the future.

Turn Your Virtual Assistant Practice Clients into Raving Fans!

We all hear about branding and how important it is to your business. But branding is not just about your web site or logo, it’s also about the associations your clients hold with you and your company name. The more positive that association, the more likely they may be to remain loyal to you when times get hard and competitors start slashing their prices.

So how do you know how you are perceived by your clients and prospects and how can you set about improving or building on your brand:

What do your existing clients think of you?
The best place to start is by sending a questionnaire to your existing clients and anyone on your prospect list. It’s a good opportunity to ask for their opinion on what they like about your service and what improvements could be made. You should begin to see some similarities in the responses which will give you an idea of how your brand is perceived.

More Virtual Assistant Business Quick Make-Over Tips

  • Build a blog so you can regularly and informally keep in touch with your readers. Post tips, links to related online articles and information.
  • Build your newsletter or Ezine subscriber list by offering something for free in exchange for their email address, perhaps an article or report for example.

More Virtual Assistant Business Quick Make-Over Tips

  • Syndicate your articles online to article directories to attract new visitors to your web site and Ezine subscriber list.
  • Write regular press releases and send them to publications aimed at your target market. Even if your particular story is not run, you will be seen as the expert in your field and may be approached later.

More Virtual Assistant Business Quick Make-Over Tips

  • Give your website a revamp. Is all the information up do date? Does it show a good photograph of you?. This is your virtual shop window and the first impression most potential clients will see.
  • Write articles useful to your target market then add them to your web site. You can also include them in your ezines. This showcases you as the expert in that particular field.

More Virtual Assistant Business Quick Make-Over Tips

  • Set up a newsletter or Ezine to keep in touch with both clients, prospects and visitors to your website. Start by sending out simple tips that are useful to your target market.
  • Build your newsletter or Ezine subscriber list, put a sign up box on your web site, include a link to your sign up page in your Twitter updates, Facebook posts, blog posts, etc.

More Virtual Assistant Business Quick Make-Over Tips

  • Join at least one online networking site, which can be a strictly business site like LinkedIn or Ecademy, or more social site (but often equally effective) such as Facebook and Twitter. Don’t forget as a ‘virtual’ worker you can work with anyone, anywhere.
  • Send your existing clients a questionnaire. Ask them what they like about your service and what they would like to see added. If they are happy clients, ask them for referrals to other potential clients.

Virtual Assistant Business Quick Make-Over Tips

You know how it is, you’ve been in business for a few years, you’ve got a few clients on your books, but things are feeling a bit stale.

Do you feel that your business needs a Gok Wan style make over for the new year, but where do you start? The following is a series of tips for a virtual assistant business revamp.

  • If you’re not already doing it, create pre-paid packages to entice clients to pay in advance for blocks of time. They benefit from a small discount, you benefit from not having to chase overdue invoices and increased budgeting capacity.
  • Join a local networking group to gain local visibility and meet some like minded small business owners. Don’t forget to follow up after events and meet up with contacts outside the events too.

Virtual Assistant Website Mistake 10

A website that is “me” focused.

While back in part 1 of this series we talked about personalising your website, don’t spend all of it talking about yourself and how wonderful you are? Although your visi­tors need to know a bit about you, what holds their interest is the knowledge that you understand their problems and issues and have ready-made solutions that resolve those problems. Your visitor will always ask, “WIIFM?” (What’s In It For Me). Answer that question by making your web site about your visitor, not about you.

If you are not sure how to WIIFM your text, hire a professional sales copy writer if you can afford it or try the following format:
Do you struggle with getting your VAT return in on time, we offer a full book keeping service which means that your VAT return will never be late again and you will save expensive fines and a whole lot of stress.

Replace the italics with their pain followed by your solution and the bold italics are your WIIFM.

In summary: Your web site can function as an attractive online brochure, or it can be a client-generating tool to help you grow your business. As a virtual assistant, you need to generate clients from your website in order for your business to be successful, make the necessary changes and you will get more clients online.

About the Author:

Justine Curtis is the director of her own successful virtual assistant business My Virtual Assistant http://www.my-va.com and founder of The UK Association of Virtual Assistants (UKAVA) which offers free resources and information to its subscribers – sign up at https://www.ukava.co.uk. Justine is the author of Setting Yourself Up As A Virtual Assistant and is delighted to be able to pass on the benefits of her vast experience of the VA role to aspiring and progressive virtual PAs as a co-founder of the VA Success Group. If you are thinking about starting a virtual assistant business, visit http://vasuccessgroup.co.uk

Virtual Assistant Website Mistake 9

No testimonials or case studies to demonstrate your expertise.
One of the easiest ways you can create customer confidence in you and your business is to post testimo­nials on your web site. Don’t even think of writing these yourself (I’m sure you wouldn’t) but ask your clients to write something that clearly states what you do for your client and how working with you has improved their business or life, etc.

If you are new to virtual assisting and don’t yet have clients you can ask for testimonials, prepare some case studies outlining a problem and how your ser­vice helped solve it. These case studies are also very powerful in convincing a potential client that you can do what you claim.

Virtual Assistant Website Mistake 8

Lack of additional resources and links.
One way to gauge the usefulness and helpfulness of a business is to have a look at their websites resources and links section. For example, the Resources and Links section of the UKAVA website lists a whole range of resources to help new and established virtual assistants and they are often featured in my email newsletter. In many cases the Association receives no compensa­tion for the resource I recommend—I just know that it’s the best source to do a particular task.

Your clients want the same help and advice from you. The more you know about your industry, its problems, and how to find solutions – whether you offer the solution or not – the greater the perception of your expertise and, consequently, the greater value you offer your client.

Virtual Assistant Website Mistake 7

Copying every other virtual assistant web site.

As part of vetting the websites that we list on the UKAVA Directory, I have the job of personally checking every potential members website before it is added. It is quite obvious in a lot of cases that virtual assistants have simply visited the websites of their competition and formatted their own site in a similar fashion, but with their own information. I have found elements of my own VA website and articles on many of them, one time even finding a whole website that contained nothing but my website text added to a different design. The designer was blamed for this and it was soon changed but you see my point.

Don’t fall victim to such behaviour and make sure you pique your readers interest by injecting your personality throughout your site. Give visitors a great experience of “you” when they visit. And, flagrantly flaunt your Unique Selling Proposition (USP), so that your visitor instantly realises why they should do business with you instead of your competitor.

Virtual Assistant Website Mistake 6

Not mentioning what makes you different, your USP.

When I’m doing online research for a particular product or service, I want to know right away what makes any company unique or different from their competition. Most virtual assistant websites just display a whole list of services they provide. While I agree that you do need to let your prospects know all the bases you can cover, if you love designing databases or have a passion for project management, tell the world about it on your website.

The beauty of this is that you will then tend to attract clients that need those services so you will be doing more of what you love. How great is that?

Virtual Assistant Website Mistake 5

Missing or hidden contact information.
Have you ever visited a web site that you think offers the ideal solution to your problem, but you’ve got one question to ask before mak­ing your purchasing decision? You go to the Contact Us page to look for the phone number or an email address, and all you find is a contact form to send your question. How annoying is that. There you were, credit card in hand, and already to buy and now you have to fill out a form and wait…

Web site owners are often reluctant to have their contact info readily available on the web site, as they fear having their email address harvested by spam­mers or having their phone number added to a telemarketing list. There are ways to lessen the likelihood of either issue by using an email spam filter on your computer and, if you a residential line for business, registering the number with the Telephone Preference Service.

Virtual Assistant Website Mistake 4

Not Turning Your Website Visitors Into Prospects.

Lots of virtual assistants complain that they get a lot of visitors to their website, but few of them convert into customers. Most marketing texts will tell you that it takes approximately 7 ‘touches’ for a prospect to decide to buy something from you. A visit to your website is just one touch. If you don’t have a system in place for capturing information about your website visitors so you can keep in touch with them, when they are ready to buy they will simply purchase from someone else they have got to know, like, and trust online.

The best tool you can have in place for this purpose is an email newsletter. You can create a regular publishing schedule to be in touch with your contact database, and you can easily demonstrate your expertise via the articles you write and resources your provide.

Virtual Assistant Website Mistake 3

Nothing to demonstrates your expertise.

Virtual Assistant websites often boast about how profi­cient they are at solving their clients problems and I’m sure that they do, but where’s the proof?

If you’ve been in business for awhile, you’ve got a good idea of the many problems your customers face, so providing relevant content that addresses these problems moves you into “expert” status. If you are an expert prove it by publishing articles, free downloads and resources for your prospects and clients.

Don’t think of it as giving away your expertise for free — think of it as developing a better educated consumer for your services and products. Will you lose customers because they read your information and implemented the solution without hiring you? It’s possible but unlikely because most prospec­tive customers are unable to do it on their own and will need your expert assistance to help them solve their issues.

Virtual Assistant Website Mistake 2

A Lack of a clear call to action on each website page.

Have you ever been to a web site and been completely overwhelmed with all the directions you can go from the home page? There’s navigation buttons left and right and so many options you don’t know where to go next? Then in frustration you click back to the search results and go on to another website. Sound familiar?

Or perhaps you have found a website that had some interesting content or answered some of your questions but you weren’t ready to buy what you were researching just yet. You want to remember the site for future reference but you’re not sure if you’d find it again. You may bookmark it but if it had a newsletter or a free download of some kind you’d sign up just so that you know they’d contact you from time to time and you wouldn’t have to go looking for them next time.

The most effective call to action you can have on your home page and every other page of your website is to offer something for free, whether it’s an eBook, Newsletter, White Paper or Report, but something useful that’s attractive to your target market so that they’ll be eager give you their name and email address to receive your offer.

Many times the call to action is to telephone or email the business for a free consultation. That call to action is effective to some degree, especially if someone is shopping for an immediate solution to their problem. Overall, however, people want more time to make a deci­sion about doing business with you. They want to determine your credibility and make a decision about whether or not they trust you before deciding to have a personal conversation with you. Expecting someone to call you upon first meeting you (viewing your web site) is not very realistic. However, if they’ve seen enough on your site to want to know a little more, there’s a greater likeli­hood they will part with a tiny bit of personal info (first name and email address) to get a better sense of who you are while staying anonymous…and without making a commitment. Once you have their contact information, they then become a prospective client, and you can market to them as you would to any other prospect in your business.

Virtual Assistant Networking Course

Do you know that you should be networking to expand and grow your virtual assistant business, but feel so much dread at the thought of presenting your business that you just put it off?

Do you visit lots of networking events and wonder why you’re not picking up new clients as a result?

This month sees the launch of the VA Success Groups  “Networking for Virtual Assistants Online Course” so if you know you could be better at networking and you would like to learn from two of the UKs most successful virtual assistants, this is your chance.

For more information visit:  http://vasuccessgroup.co.uk/virtual-assistant-online-courses/networking-for-virtual-assistants/

Virtual Assistant Marketing – Niche to Streamline Your Efforts

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 you 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.

More at: https://www.ukava.co.uk/html/inthenewssept09.html#niche

Niching to Streamline Your Marketing 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 you 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.

Copyright 2008 by Justine Curtis

https://www.ukava.co.uk