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Are You Your Own Client? (How Do Your Shoes Look?)

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Woman legs on sofa with stylish shoes in room

Have you ever heard the story about the shoemaker’s kids that have holes in their shoes? More than once, I’ve poked fun at my carpenter husband who is out building homes for other people and has no time to fix small things at our own house. Sure, if the roof had a hole, he’d call in a crew and have a new roof up in a heartbeat, but when the cabinet door hinge is broken or a piece of molding comes loose or something, it stays that way until it becomes a bigger problem, or until I fix it first. (There’s a reason he hides the power tools from me!) I call him the shoemaker, because if he made shoes for other people, surely we’d have none.

Unfortunately, that’s the case in many businesses. We’re so busy doing things for our clients that we don’t take care of our own businesses. This was painfully obvious to me this morning, as I was looking at a client’s LinkedIn page. I took a look at mine, and while it does the trick, it pales in comparison to someone who doesn’t update profile pages for a living. I’ve fallen into the same trap with Facebook and Twitter. I’m rocking clients’ pages, but posting on my own infrequently, and I know better.

Thankfully, I have great references and lots of referrals, so it doesn’t affect business too much, but a client who hasn’t heard of me is going to look at the current state of my social media pages and think I have no idea what I’m doing! I’m sure that some – if not most – of you are the same way. If you’re a VA, how do your social media pages look? If you’re a business coach, does your business reflect what you’re teaching others? Are you a shoemaker too?

I think there’s a tendency for us to think that the task is so easy it’s trivial, so we’ll get to it “later”. Only later rarely comes. We get busy with our clients and our families and life in general, and before you know it, a year has come and gone and you still haven’t taken care of that pesky profile edit or that webinar you were meaning to do to bring in more clients. We need to prioritize our own businesses – essentially, we need to be our own clients. No one knows our value better than we do, and if we have shoes with holes in them, it’s going to be harder to convince someone that they want us fixing theirs!

So, in line with setting goals for the New Year, I’m going to prioritize being my own client, because I need to make sure that I’m consistently working on my own business, even when I’m busy working on everyone else’s. And that may mean that I have to hire some help so that I have time for it all, but at least my shoes will be in good shape!

How about you? Are you a shoemaker?


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Never Work a Day In Your Life

Choose a Job You Love and You will Never have to Work a Day In Your Life

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. – Confucius*

Was Confucius confused?

Not really. Any successful person will tell you that they’re “all in”. They pour their mind, body, and soul into their work day in and day out, but because they love it, they don’t consider it to be work. When you enjoy what you do, you’re essentially getting paid for having a great time. Life doesn’t get much better than that.

What does this mean for you?

It means that with some dedication and thinking outside of the box, you can turn any hobby into a business and actually get paid to have fun. It doesn’t matter what your idea of fun is. There are people who get paid to watch movies, ride roller coasters, and test beer. Obviously, some of these professions pay more than others, but a beer tester could turn his love of tasting into a blog and make more money doing it. A professional roller coaster rider could take videos while on roller coasters and publish them on YouTube for people looking to get that dizzy feeling from the comfort of their homes. There’s always a way to expand on a great idea.

What if you don’t have time to do what you love because you’re working too much doing what you don’t?

This is where the waters get a little muddy, and each person’s situation is unique. By all means, unless you have a sizable savings account, don’t just quit your job because you read a blog post telling you that you can make money doing things you enjoy. Rather, find an extra hour in your day to make it work, even if it means you’ll lose an hour of sleep. Use that hour to research, network, and invest your mind, body, soul, and a little bit of money into your idea. It’s great to sit around and dream, but unless you put actionable steps behind that dream, it will always just be a dream.

Be aware that the process of transforming what you love into a successful business isn’t always a fast one. For some, it takes years. With the right support and under the right circumstances, however, turning a profit will take considerably less time.

One way to make things move along a little quicker is to hire someone to help you. A Virtual Assistant can give you a hand with everything from naming your business to website development to finding clients who need your services. Each VA has a different specialty, and all you’ll have to do is make contact with one. Most (myself included) will be happy to help you find someone appropriate if they don’t have skills in that area.

Thousands of people all over the world have already made their dreams a reality. Are you next?

*”Confucius.” BrainyQuote.com. Xplore Inc, 2015. 8 May 2015. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/c/confucius134717.html
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/citation/quotes/quotes/c/confucius134717.html#wt08dCfgsPzkmf8s.99

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How Important is the Location of Your Virtual Professional?

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friendly female helpline operatorEven though the entire point of hiring a Virtual Professional is that they’re, well…virtual, you may find the location of your VA to be a very important part of finding a great fit for your company.

Your services may need to be delivered at a certain time.

Some businesses need their Virtual Assistants to be available during business hours in certain time zones.  Example:  I currently work with Company A, which is based on the East Coast, and that company has a number of tasks they need to be completed within EST business hours.  I also work with Company B, a West Coast based company, and the time difference isn’t an issue because my primary duty there is content creation.  I don’t work with any overseas companies at the moment, but take into consideration a company based in a time zone 12 hours from your own.  You’d have to stay up until the wee hours of the morning just to have a conversation about the day’s tasks.

There may be language barrier. 

If you’re like me and have a difficult time understanding people with thick accents, you’re not going to work well with someone overseas even in parts of your own country.  In the United States, a person based in Georgia is likely to have a pretty heavy Southern drawl.  Many people in New Jersey and New York City talk like Tony from the Sopranos.  (Nothing against Tony –some of my own family members speak like that!)  When you’re working closely with a VA, this may make a difference to you.

VAs charge based on what they need to live. 

It’s a common misconception that many Virtual Assistants overcharge.  Let’s take a look at this for a second.  In NY, I pay approximately 30% of my income to the IRS and the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance.  Then I pay for health insurance, which is priced based on the state and even county that I live in.  Once you figure just those two numbers in, I need to charge about ten dollars more than minimum wage to just make minimum wage.  This doesn’t count things like office supplies, the internet bill, phone charges, and a plethora of other standard costs of running a business from home.  On the same token, someone living in the middle of Manhattan where the cost of living is even higher than it is in Upstate NY may charge double what I do.  They may not even have as much experience as me, the skills I have, or even the charming personality.  However, they have a rent or mortgage and need to buy groceries just like everyone else, so they need to charge accordingly.

You may need your VA to come to you.

Many VAs like to take on local clients.  They can have local meetings, stop by the office to drop off and pick up work, and, depending on the nature of the business, may need to see something in person in order to be able to help.  Only you know if you’d like to have a local VA or not, but depending on your needs, this is also something you’ll want to keep in mind.

Before you sign a contract with your Virtual Professional, take some of these things into consideration.  Call your potential VA, set up a consultation (many of us do this for free!) and ask as many questions as you possibly can.  Communication is key, and sometimes you won’t even know if location will affect your relationship with a VA until you talk to one!

If you’d like to know how CRM can help build and maintain your business, fill out the contact form below for a free 15-minute consultation!


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10 Dos and Don’ts To Keep In Mind When Working With a Virtual Assistant

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10 Dos and Don'ts For Working With a Virtual Assistant

Despite what some business owners think, a Virtual Assistant does not sit on the couch, watch soap operas, and get paid for it.  We are professionals who work just as hard as any other business owner.  Working with a VA can make your business stronger, bigger, and more efficient.  However, because Virtual professionals are a fairly new thing, there are many business owners who think of a VA as an employee, which sets up the relationship for hurdles right from the beginning.

Below is a list of Dos and Don’ts to make your working relationship with a VA mutually beneficial.

  1. Do communicate. We may be excellent at what we do, but we are not mind readers.  If you don’t tell us what you need, we won’t know.
  2. Do tell us how much you appreciate us. Part of the reason we are in this business is because we want to help people.  A simple “thank you” goes a long way.
  3. Do respect our time. Rescheduling appointments with a VA means that they have to reschedule other people’s things too.  We often have full calendars and set that time aside specifically for you and your business.
  4. Do treat us as you would want to be treated. This goes along the lines of some of the above points, but keep in mind that we are business owners, just like you.  We appreciate being treated as such.
  5. Do recommend us to your colleagues. Many times, business owners have a great VA and are afraid to tell others, because they might “lose” them to someone else.  The truth is that we appreciate referrals, and if we don’t have time to take on a new client, we probably know another amazing VA that does.
  6. Don’t call us at 10pm to assign a task unless we have specifically told you that this is okay. We need rest to be efficient for the benefit of your business.
  7. Don’t expect us to forego Thanksgiving dinner because your website is down. If we do leave our family dinner to help you (and many of us will), consider it to be an emergency and be prepared to pay extra for that.  If your pipes burst and you had to call a plumber on Thanksgiving, you would be charged an emergency fee as well.
  8. Don’t tell us that you can pay someone else less to do the same thing. If you don’t value your VA, someone else will.
  9. Don’t expect us to drop another client’s work to work on your things. If the situation was reversed, you wouldn’t want us to drop your work for someone else’s either.
  10. Don’t haggle prices. Virtual Assistants save companies a LOT of money on overhead, taxes, and insurance.  We pay for all of those ourselves.  So before you say a VA’s salary is high, take into account how much your business is saving in the long run.

A Virtual Assistant is one of the best investments you can make in your business.  If you’d like to know how a VA can help your business grow and flourish, fill out the form below for a free consultation.

 

 


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Holiday Bonuses – Why They’re Important

Reward

Back when I worked in the corporate world, I remember friends of mine that worked for different companies all getting really nice Christmas bonuses.  Some of them got a week’s pay, some got a day’s pay, and some got a huge chunk of cash.  No matter where I worked, the most I ever got was a $28 dollar check (half a day’s pay in the 90s), and another time I got a turkey.

I’m not sure why I worked for such unappreciative companies, but I will say that it didn’t do much to boost my morale when I busted my butt all year invoicing and billing millions of dollars and all I was worth to them at the end of the year was a turkey that they probably got a deal on because they bought them in bulk.  It wasn’t that I was unappreciative, since I’ve had employers that gave me nothing, but even my car insurance agent sends me a card at the holidays.

In my own business, there are a few very loyal clients that I’m excited to send gifts to this year.  Without them, I’d have no business, and I’m well aware of that.  I plan on sending them gift cards to Starbucks or Amazon or something.  Some other Virtual Professionals I’ve spoken to are giving out free hours.  I’d personally rather give out the gift card, because with my luck, the clients would need those free hours when I really needed the money.  I just want my clients to know that I appreciate their business, especially during the holidays when everyone is a little short on cash.

No matter what you give this year, keep in mind that your business is nothing without your clients, and for those of you that have employees, you need to appreciate them too.  They are the reason you stay in business.  Without customers and without employees, you’re nothing.  Keep that in mind and do something special for them this year.  A little thought goes a long way.

What do you plan on giving your employees and clients for Christmas?


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