Having 5 Great Tips for your Business is essential when you have a holiday looming. Especially if your business is working well and your client-work is coming in nicely. Are you running smoothly for ‘that’ family holiday which may be creeping up! Your family are muttering that you need to buy this, pack that, but you’re putting the inevitable to the back of your To-Do list, and mind. Oh no!
It’s your business that will suffer if you don’t schedule something! Whether it’s your annual summer holiday or the festive period or a half-term break with the children, the planning will be the same if you adopt a simple process.
I can speak from experience – It wasn’t a holiday that I had to undertake major planning for, but an illness, unfortunately. Disaster Planning can affect not only illness for yourself, but for your partner’s illness. A family member being ill or even a domestic crisis such as an accident or technical issues can put your business behind.
Last year I was quite ill for several weeks. But, because I had a number of mechanisms in place, my clients didn’t really get to hear about it. I had backups in place. I was ill from early in December. Right up until the end of January I was panicking that I wouldn’t be well enough for a special event in my life, which was not great, I can tell you.
It’s not like being employed, you can’t just ‘take time off’ and stay at home and sleep off the illness. As a freelancer or sole trader, it’s a little different, you are obligated to contact your clients. It’s essential to keep them updated and give them options as to what they would like to do with the options available and what suggestions you put forward to them.
I have given you 5 Great Tips to ensure that they will keep you and your business running smoothly during your holiday period to giving maximum output for both productivity and efficiency for yourself and your clients:
5 GREAT TIPS
The most important is that you take time to relax and rest on your holiday.
You need to have a Disaster Recovery Plan. This is your backup plan, your ‘what-if’. What if the laptop breaks down, what if I can’t get hold of this product for my salon, what if I lose a client, will my finances cover my outgoings?
Can you delegate any of your tasks and processes to anyone to ensure that you can relax whilst on your holiday? Can you prepare this in advance of your holiday and prepare any contracts for this and advise your clients who is going to be working on their projects during this time.
Ensure that you schedule your social media posts to continue whilst you are on your holiday as it is important to keep your visibility well, visible. Marketing only works well, if you do this consistently, as we all know.
Set up your Out of Office and filter your emails accordingly. It’s also a great idea to use an email signature-stamp too. Be consistent with your imagery and branding to create some consistency across all of your social media platforms.
These are only a few of many, many tips that are available from NottmVAto keep you time-managed, productive and efficient in the running of your business. It is a well-known fact that it is essential to have down-time from your business to not only spend time with your family and loved ones but to be refreshed, focussed and come back to your business with new ideas and new energy.
I have contractsthat I send to my clients for both GDPR compliance and also for booking forms and Terms and Conditions with follow-up support, that is great for that ever-forgiving disaster recovery plan.
I use all of the tips mentioned above (and many more) as I wouldn’t want to have ‘that’ telephone call with my clients to let them know that I wouldn’t be able to complete a deadline – would you?
Would you prefer to watch and listen to this blog post rather than read it? Then you can do by following this link.
If you need to delegate any of your administration and social media support so you can enjoy your forthcoming holidays please contact NottmVA for further information.
Does your morning routine get bogged down by you working your way through your emails and various Gmail, Outlook and various webmail before you can get down to what you’re paid to do best? Yes, I know that feeling.
By delegating or outsourcing your email management it can be the best way to get your productivity increased and work flowing again. You can’t be at the beck and call of an email every minute of the day and there are ways of managing this and putting systems into place. So, by implementing an Email Detox Plan into your business you can feel totally confident that your emails will be looked after, spam will be dealt with appropriately and nothing will be unattended to or mislaid.
This, of course, releases you from the time constraints of your day, the costly pressures of undertaking what could be basic administrative duties when you have more time-pressured tasks that need your attention and the feeling of not being so overwhelmed with your business and you can now get on with mastering your business, your brand and your best-self.
Outsource to manage effectively
So, the question is, do you have good willpower? Can you withstand the call of the email – that ping? Haha! It can be quite distracting, can’t it?
If you outsource to or undertake a Virtual Assistant there are many things that can be done to alleviate the habits that you have become accustomed to such as:
Delegate your email
Assign relevant criteria for your emails
Classify sectors/folders for subject/client matter
Do you have Urgent or non-important folders?
Do you have rules set up for emails not required for immediate viewing?
Delegate to Outsource
In order to implement the above to your Virtual Assistant then you need to delegate (or share) your email inbox. This is probably the first time that you may have had to do this, but it is quite a simple process with many webmail and iCloud-based email systems and there are many step-by-step help guides available and your Virtual Assistant may even be able to guide you through the process too. You are able to view your inbox as normal and your Virtual Assistant will be able to manage your emails simultaneously.
The most often asked question about delegating your email access for the first time is that someone else may respond to your client. This is a commonly asked question, but nothing to worry about. You will have given clear instructions to your Virtual Assistant, and if they are well-referred and indeed, accredited in any way, you will have been provided with a booking form or a contract prior to any work being undertaken with clear, precise instructions being communicated between you to discuss exactly what will be undertaken between both of your businesses. You can choose whether your Virtual Assistant is to just ‘tidy’ your inbox or whether you would like a semi-service of responding to certain types of emails such as general diary enquiries and or a full-service whereby the more complex emails are taken on-board. Alternatively, you may wish to keep the most complex ones for yourself and have these flagged for your attention. Ultimately, you are left available to concentrate on your business the way you wish to.
Better Working Relationships
After a period of time, you may find that there is a period of time that is released throughout the day from becoming more productive from the time that has become more efficient as you are not pouring through your emails. Additionally, your clients and colleagues are getting a faster response rate from you in regard to queries this can only improve your brand, your identity and your overall rating in your service that you offer.
How A Virtual Assistant Can Help
In all instances of onboarding a Virtual Assistant, there can be a little time taken to get set up and getting used to but indeed, the time saved in the long run will be more than worth the effort. Just imagine the feeling of being organised and time-managed and getting emails in in a timely fashion, not missing elusive deals too. Your Virtual Assistant will only be billed for time used and retainers are available to assist with budgets also. Reducing your administration time and increasing your efficiency into income-generating tasks is pure productive! If you would like to discuss your requirements further regarding your Email Management Service then contact NottmVA.
Clients, Customers, Keynote Speakers – whoever your target market is!
I have had a client of mine ask me this week, as they knew I had been working with some keynote speakers due to some enquiries I had been making, how I was increasing my client base.
Well, I said, there is a process. There isn’t just one thing is there? With anything really, there is always a series of events, that leads to a finale.
Your Niche or Brand
It’s important of course, for your own brand, or design or product to be strong in its own marketplace, especially if you want to expand or grow your brand within your peers and colleagues too.
Your topics need to be relevant to your audience and of interest too. Maybe, they should be something that your clients may also want to share with their network too. How fab would that be? In order to do be strong in your brand, what I find within my own community, with my peers, and my own client base and people I aspire to is as follows:
Become an Expert
Firstly, I would suggest that you become an authority in your topic. Write about it, blog about it, share it on social media, answer questions to your subscribers and become known for your business and your brand. Ideally, you need to put out new content on a consistent basis that works for you, whether that is on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis so that others may share it with their networks.
What I feel is most important, is that you start (or continue) a video and/or podcast series. Not just for SEO purposes but you need to be visual.
Being visible means that your audience will get to know you. Your audience will get used to seeing you in their content, get used to hearing you and get used to your tone of voice, your humour and most of all, resonate with you. This content is then perfect for then creating a series on your YouTube channel where you are then creating further content for others’ thoughts and comments. Again, this is additional content to be shared on your website and social media platforms as well. If you have a marketing campaign planned already, then your topics will be well-aligned.
Wait for it? The one that most people seem to dread – you need to undertake LIVE VIDEO! Yep, you do! Even I hated doing this when I first started. Oh boy, I couldn’t mutter a 30-second introductory video when I first stepped-out, but we all have to start somewhere. Find out where your target audience is. Whereabouts are they in your social media platforms and direct your video to those that are going to be where you direct your video. It’s no good putting a video into Facebook if your client base is in LinkedIn. You need to tailor-make your content and ideas for your market and then deliver it.
This is all continuously ensuring that you are building your brand and identity. You are reaching out to your clients. You are establishing your strong client base and reaching out to people who need you and meet your criteria. The rest is up to you to refine your niche, develop your keynote speech and network with your target market into how you can craft the perfect client base for you.
Of course, it doesn’t stop there. You need to maintain a follow-up system. Those clients need nurturing and maintaining.
Finally, you need to eat it, sleep it and repeat it. If you feel that you need a helping hand with building your brand, then feel free to liaise with NottmVA for your networking, business and social media support.
You may remember the blog about Networking and whether face-to-face networking was right for you? Well, now we’re going to talk about blogging and whether that is right for you too, and more to the point, whether you should diarize them over a period of time, also.
Do you have anything to say?
What you first need to think about is that blogging is about telling your audience what you have to say.
Do you have something to say?
What will your Blogging Calendar do for you?
Will your audience want to hear it?
Do you have something to promote?
Will you have any themes?
Is it of interest?
Is it topical?
And so on…
This all comes down to your niche audience, of course, your client or your customer and more to the point, your ideal customer.
We are all advised to home in on our ‘ideal customer’ so that you can focus on promoting our ideal wares to that one person so that when – you – the reader, pick up on this blog, it is just for you! Yes, you, so, hopefully, I’ve got your attention, or at least I hope I have.
Scheduling your Blogs
If you’re not organised in what you’re going to say, how do you know what you are going to say? I know, it’s a bit of an obvious statement or question, isn’t it? But there it is. You need to plan, really. You can’t just begin to write something in the hope that it will just be effective. You really need a marketing strategy to ensure that it is a) effective for your business and b) is in keeping with the remainder of your branding/social media and c) I’m sure there are a whole lot more reasons too!
I know I have things that pop into my head at obscure moments of the day (and night) and I need to write them down (into an app, actually), that both clients and colleagues say to me, that I think would be appropriate to write into a blog. But it would be no good scheduling all that information and sending it out to my website and social media accounts all at the same time. It needs some sort of organised structure and meaning. Then there is information that may only be relevant at certain times of the year, like Halloween for instance, or at Thanksgiving and so on.
Your consistency is important, both for your business, your analytical stats and ranking in Google and for your audience, as mentioned above. It is no good saying to your clients that you will be sending out blogs every week, only to find that you can’t commit to them, then you lose your following and possibly potential further clients too. Start out with a lesser frequency and build up to it and see how you go on. You can always try blogging schedulers that take snippets of your blog content and drip-feed them out over time to assist you if this is of interest to you.
Arrange Guest Bloggers
Depending on your business and your service and/or products, you can arrange to have guest bloggers on your site. This can enhance your credibility and authority too! If you have a blog calendar you can see who is guest blogging in which month and schedule your guests accordingly.
You can then also see which theme is running in which month, or what content is happening at what time of year too and assign your appropriate guest at the right time to coincide accordingly. It all works well when you have a plan!
Getting Down to It
Once you have created your Blogging Calendar, you then you need to use it. It’s no good just looking at it, is it? Have you listened to your clients, asked them questions about which social media platform is good for them? Where do they ‘hang out’ the most? Did you do your research from your social media’s own analytical built-in tools? Did you ask polls, or undertake any questions at your networking meetings? This is all good valid information that you need to obtain and will have put into your calendar prior to writing your blogs.
Once you know which ideal client you are writing to, you can focus on them, then you know which platform you are writing to, you can see, it is beginning to narrow down a little now, isn’t it?
Then begins your content strategy: Is it purely going to be text, or will you include images, video or perhaps graphics too? This all needs to be considered to get the maximum out of your blog and to give the most interest to your reader.
Source Document Repository
Once you have started to collate several blog post titles and content and have curated information, images, you may need a Source Document Repository – or a place to list all the multi-media. Are you an organised person? As a Virtual Assistant, I must be, on behalf of my clients, in addition to my own time-management. But it is a good idea to have some form of a table to work out how you want your structure to work for you and your business.
Will you have it worked out for your products, your service, or per month of the year perhaps? Will you work it out on paper, in a Word document or use a Social Media App maybe?
Once you have decided how you are going to develop your calendar, you will need to decide how to fill it up, what titles you will need, when they will go in, what information needs to be contributed by whom, when you will publish what, what themes they will be, what the SEO keywords will be and what other information you will want to include. It is, after all, your calendar, and you create it to suit you and your business and your blogs.
It will be a fluid document and you will need to keep updating it. You will have new ideas all the time and people will say things to you at any time of the day. This is where I like to use an App that has both a desktop version and an App version, so I can quickly add something when I am out and about quite easily.
If you feel that you like the idea of blogs for your business, but you don’t have the time or the inclination for this at the moment, then please get in touch with me.
Do you have a LinkedIn profile? Maybe that is the first question we should ask. Do you need one, if so, what would you need it for and for what purpose? You really need to determine for what use you are going to use this social media platform for and incorporate it in your marketing plan. You do have a marketing plan, right?
FOR WHAT PURPOSE?
Many different companies, individuals and sole traders use LinkedIn for varied reasons and of course, this is entirely up to them – is your reason for lead generation, recruiting, to display your wares or to promote your business service or to communicate with other groups perhaps. You will need to decide on this, so you know how to market yourself and know how to write your profile accordingly.
Having determined your market, you may wish to begin with your headshot. It is always highly recommended that you have a professional photographer take your business photographs as they are aware of your branding colours, know how to get the best out of you, your business and will have your professional interests at heart. You don’t want to be promoting yourself at a family event with your head half out of the picture, or something worse perhaps??
Your headline is quite important as that is something that follows you around along with your photograph of course and is seen when you remark on others’ articles and comments. This needs to be again pointing to your niche audience and eye-catching to attention-grabbing creating curiosity so that people are likely to open your profile. It needs to be about your audience, what you can do to add value for them (not you) and how you can assist them.
YOUR BACKGROUND COVER PHOTO
Have you seen the blue spacey blue background photos at the top of people’s LinkedIn profiles? It really is a waste of advertising space! Whoah, you need to go and get your photographs and get them up there! The background photograph has to be a required pixel size too.
You can make use of text, graphics and your logos and have your header cover in the background and it can be the same across the remainder of the other social media platforms too creating consistency so that your clients create the know, like and trust with you. You’re missing a big trick there if you do not use this big, wide space here.
THE ABOUT SECTION
Moving on to the About Section is quite an important part, to be honest. You need to again, write about what you can change for your audience, not write about you. Your reader needs to see what you can do for them, not how many years you have done x, y, z etc they want to know that you are going to create a solution for their problem that they are currently experiencing – so remember that niche that you have decided to hone in on? Yes, that – you need to now write about it. Talk about that problem and how you can now provide that solution for your client and how you can do it.
HISTORY, EDUCATION AND TRAINING
These sections will speak for themselves, of course – but it’s not like a straight copy of your curriculum vitae. Do not get caught up in copying your CV like, for like – you’re only putting in relevant information only, again for that niche audience. You can’t target everyone – it would be like a needle in a haystack. You need brief information to cover each relevant piece of the company and you can upload the logos too to link up with individuals from the same workforce.
ASKING FOR RECOMMENDATIONS
If you have undertaken work from others who are already on LinkedIn, you have the ability to request recommendations from them this provides credibility within the social media platform but has to be agreed between both parties.
The all-important details, of course, are how to get in touch with you. There is nothing worse than someone having to hunt around trying to find your contact details – aagh! Leave as much information as you can – you do not know how your client prefers to work. Do they prefer telephone contact, do they prefer to directly message you via LinkedIn, or would they prefer to email you? Which way is the better way – well, the client’s chosen preferred way of course?
PROFILE SET UP
You are nearly on your way to having an almost great profile to get you on your way apart from tweaking some of the settings to be how you need them to be according to your personal preferences and that will come with time and use. Of course, there is much more to complete behind the scenes but this is a good start.
You need to add people (or connections) to connect with so that you can see them in your newsfeeds, and they will then be ‘1st’ connections in your newsfeeds. Their connections will then be listed as ‘2nd’ connections to you, thus expanding the available connections to you and so on.
In order to become familiar with your target market, or niche audience you will need to converse with or comment on your network connection posts of those people you have connected with. This is deemed the most appropriate way to network as this is the required etiquette of LinkedIn and some deem it inappropriate to direct message regarding direct sales. What do you think?
DO YOU NEED A LINKEDIN PROFILE?
As a Virtual Assistant, I am often asked to create LinkedIn profiles and other online social media marketing for my clients as it does create a professional ‘POS’ signpost to point your clients to if you do not have a website or other material readily available. If this is something that you do not feel that is within your realms at this moment in time, or you feel that your time is better spent on other aspects of your business then please do get in touch and I can undertake this service for you.
Everyone is talking about it and doing it aren’t they? Even I have succumbed to it. Me, who couldn’t even mumble a 30-second introductory video about my business when I first started. We’ve all been there, nervous, dreading being in front of the camera and afraid of looking a fool in front of, well, who? We just don’t know! Well, according to Woody Allen, 80% of Success is Showing Up. So, what are we waiting for – let’s go and do it!
Where Do you Find the Right Networking Event for You?
Now, this is the tricky part. Networking takes time and patience and you have to be prepared to put some time in. I know, I know we are all busy people, but you know – we all have the same amount of hours in the day and you have to put in what you want to get out. You may get lucky and find the one that works for you the first time. I was 3rd time lucky did you know? I have found an absolutely fabulous group called the Global Woman’s Club which is held in my local town in Nottingham and being a Virtual Assistant, the Club is Global – it is held all over the World so of course, it is the perfect group for me!
So, what are the key points to look for when joining a group?
It is important to find the right networking group for you. You want to feel comfortable in your surroundings and to feel natural when you are speaking with others. Here are a few pointers to think about:
You want to find a networking group that has similar or like-minded people to yourself
The networking group needs to be familiar with your target market or open to your mindset or law of attraction
Be open as to what YOU can offer or contribute to the networking group
Does the networking group offer additional networking outside of the event days/evenings i.e. online networking, social gatherings and so on?
Where is the networking group held, is it the same venue/date/time each occasion? Is it weekly/fortnightly/monthly? Would you feel comfortable in this environment?
You will need to endeavour to build the right relationships for both yourself and your business and for the other members of the networking group to ensure that it is a success for both yourself and everyone involved.
What is it about Networking that Everyone finds Valuable?
The Value – it’s so important for everyone to take some importance from their meeting or why would they take time out of their busy day or evening to spend it with you? You will be meeting and greeting new business introductions – look at all those new possibilities! People to talk to and discuss what you have been doing, learning, and chatting about your family and what people’s husbands and wives do too – it’s not just about the people in the room, there is a lot of referral business that is undertaken too.
There is a lot of value in the support that is gained from networking. Many businesses are sole traders and entrepreneurs working from home or in isolated areas and numerous business gurus thrive on meeting up and blossom in a room full of people for an hour or so. It is important to ‘walk’ the room or mingle – if you see someone on their own, introduce yourself and ask about their day – they may be feeling as nervous as you perhaps.
Many networking groups have guest speakers and with you attending it could be that you have access to new information, new learning and your value would be to gain new trusted information that has been pre-approved by the host.
What Can You Get Out of Networking for your Business?
Ultimately, you’re there for your business, aren’t you? But, don’t pitch-sell, sell, sell to your peers the minute you walk in the door – eek! You don’t want to be ‘sold’ to, do you the minute someone walks up to you with a cup of coffee in their hand? I know I don’t.
What you CAN get out of networking is a source of great support, this is something I get great value from. I have a fab collaboration of great people now to call on for a variety of information, referrals both to call upon for my clients and to send business to – it works both ways. New friendships are formed with yourself and your spouses too, it’s such a close relationship – but only if you want it to be. It’s your call. Remember, it is what YOU want it to be. It’s your business. Some networking groups are strictly business, some are extended into social gatherings – make sure you find the one that works for you. There are networking groups that will offer mentors or will have individuals that have these businesses within the group. Take the time to talk to everyone in the group. Make it work for you.
What if your chosen Networking Group hasn’t Worked for You?
There are some occasions when some Networking groups are just not right. I have tried a couple, and more than once, myself and just did not feel comfortable with them. There was nothing wrong with the groups, they worked very well for many people. You will need to ask yourself the questions I raised earlier about whether they are right for you regarding timing, environment, business strategies etc.
What you need to do is work out what you DO need and find something that DOES work and what did not work, however.
Does your networking group allow selling sessions? The Global Woman Club that I attend is a fabulous group and allows 2-minute presentations from everyone for you to speak about something regarding your business. As you can see here, my presentation was videoed,
sometimes live-streamed and then shared to the Facebook group to the local group and the Global group too – so there is lots of scope for other businesswomen to see my business pitch on that occasion.
Are you making sure that you ‘walk’ the room and mingle and don’t ‘sell’ in that coffee area? It’s important to get to know people and like the mantra of a business coach that I’m working with at the moment… obtain that ‘Know, Like, Trust’ factor from those around you.
Perhaps the cost of joining the networking group might be an issue for you right now, but something you may wish to think about if you obtained one client from that group is – what would a few months of that client’s business be worth to you, or your membership to this group. What is the value of being a member of this group mean to you? Is it purely monetary? Is it for support? Is it collaboration too – there are many other benefits too? Have you checked out the other benefit packages that the group has to offer?
Are you attending the meetings, are you allowing people to see your face, are you speaking, letting people hear you and hear the tone, your character, your laughter, your charisma – the real you? This is where people get to know YOU! The old saying is People buy people, isn’t it?
Then there is the final follow-up. Are you following up your contacts? Have you been left with many business cards? Have you sent an email to say anything, or followed up with a 1:1 meeting and met with a coffee to discuss your business in further detail or asked how you can refer any other businesses if that is appropriate or asked if you can add them to your mailing list?
What are the Benefits of Networking for You?
I touched on this briefly earlier, but you need to find out from your networking group what it can offer for you. Of course, you will be receiving the support, the collaboration, the networking and so on, but some groups will offer financial reward and other benefits for you introducing guests to future meetings so it may be mutually beneficial to you and your guests to find out what those benefits are. Why don’t you join me at one of the Global Woman Club meetings or if you are a male businessperson, you could join as a guest presenter?
What Strategy Should You Undertake?
You need to have a marketing strategy that works for your business. Have you worked out what your ideal client, skills or sector is and that you are marketing to that niche business?
Here’s a quick summary of what was mentioned earlier on:
Have you ensured that you defined your ideal client and you are marketing to a niche audience?
Are you making sure that you are only selling in the required environments that allow you to do so?
Do not sell in the ‘coffee arena’ just network appropriately and courteously
Is time and money an issue for you right now – do your networking group offer instalments?
Are you actually turning up to meetings and offering your character and charisma?
Take time to nurture your fellow peers and discuss your business and referrals and show your knowledge
Are you following up?
Whatever networking group you choose it should be one that you are comfortable with, one you feel you can relate to and one you feel best suits your needs – at that time. Just remember, nothing is forever. You can change, your business changes as it grows. Your ideal client niche will change as your business changes and develops. I wish you every success with your business, your networking and your personal development.
As your business does grow, it is inevitable that you will obtain an additional workload and may require the services of a Virtual Assistant to assist with your Business Administration and Social Media Marketing.
Need to stop work for the day, but still have so much to do?
Then the £99 4-hours Virtual Assistant Package might be for you?
Are you feeling overwhelmed with your business and career and not getting the lifestyle that you want or need? Take a deep breath as this isn’t the way to go! I know! As I felt that way a couple of years ago and my work lifestyle was making me ill! It simply had to stop…
Have you thought about outsourcing some of your tasks, but the thought of getting around to it is causing you issues because you are too busy and need to prioritise other things?
Are you needing to spend some time with your family, or want to factor in some leisure time perhaps – then maybe delegating is something you might want to think about?
My 4-hours for £99offercould be just the ‘thing’ for you to try!
This is only around for a VERY LIMITED TIME, so if you know that you need help in your business, now is the perfect time to Buy-it and Try-it and see if a Virtual Assistant is a way of working for you without any further commitment.
Try some Business Administration such as; diary/calendar management, transcription, database management, email management/detox, data entry, document formatting, file management incl GDrive, Dropbox OneDrive, PDF conversions such as merging, splitting and editing and password protecting or Social Media Management for your business and see if this is something that you like (or don’t like) for your business.
It is merely a small investment to outlay for your business with no ongoing obligation either side – what could be better!
Terms and Conditions:
This is ideal for New Clients to NottmVA to BUY-IT AND TRY-IT!
You must book the offer during May 2019
You must redeem the offer before the end of July 2019
And of course, there is no further commitment and obligation to continue services with NottmVA (unless you want to)
Only 5 spots are available. Book while offers last!
Only one offer per Client
All you need to do is emailme to book your offer – but don’t forget this needs to be booked between 1st and 31st May 2019 to be eligible for the offer.
It’s hard to think about delegating your work, let alone actually do it. But a Virtual Assistant or VA, can assist you both in being efficient and increase your productivity. So, what can you expect?
What is a Virtual Assistant or VA?
A Virtual Assistant, or VA is a person who has chosen to work virtually, or remotely on assignments and tasks that you have allocated to them. This is quite different to being employed and working in-house too. Let me explain in a little more detail:
• VAs do work their own agendas – A VA does sometimes like to work evenings or late-night hours on occasion. Or sometimes he/she just likes to split the schedule up throughout the day. Instead of putting in a solid 8 hours work day and then going home, VA’s work on their own timetable.
• Less training – When you are working with a VA, you often do not need to “train” a VA on a particular process. In fact, that’s part of the benefit of using a VA. All you need to do is express your required outcome and your VA will deliver the end result with some guidance according to your brief.
• Specific Expertise – Most VAs tend to specialise into their niche or skills that they excel at and focus on using those skills. As VAs work with multiple clients they will advance into being quite knowledgeable and gain skills into many programs and be continuously learning.
But are there limits?
It can be most advantageous to work with your well-qualified VA but there are a few things to bear in mind, of course:
• You aren’t their only client – Your VA will have other clients. That means they may not always be able to get your job done straight away when you need it done. You do not get to pick your priority as their priorities for them, like you would be able to do as if they were your employee.
• Hiring a VA is like hiring a good employee – It can sometimes take time to nurture your right fit. Whether it’s communication or natural skills, you both need to work at it with each other and that doesn’t always happen easily. Don’t give up. Communication is key.
• This isn’t Trial and Error – While you may not have to do as much training with a virtual assistant as you do with an employee, they aren’t able to jump right in and take over your detailed work without some set up on your part either. Get your lists and systems together so you can help them help you.
• Don’t expect everything – As mentioned above, many VAs do have an area of specialism or a niche. However, they may not cover an aspect of work that you may want to cover. You can expect them to undertake training, if they wish to do so. You may want another VA to undertake that piece of work – that’s also fine. Work with multiple virtual assistants so that you can get the job done by the best person for the job.
• Your VA – Your Business Administration – Some VAs do not have experience in business and may not be able to advise you how to manage your business. Your VA will deal with your instruction and for your administrative or specialty work only based on your booking form/contract only.
How Do I make it Work with My VA?
These are some important points that you can undertake to enhance the working process with your VA:
• Communicate Well – If your written word isn’t your best way to communicate, send verbal messages instead and then have them written down so they can be referred to at a later date. Or, better yet, schedule a weekly call to share new tasks and projects. Bear in mind that your calls and emails may be time-tracked.
• Provide as much detail as possible – Usernames and passwords should all be securely verified before they are shared (or use a system like LastPass that allows you to share without full access). Ensure you provide the appropriate deadline for example. Is there anything specific that you or your VA needs?
• Review and provide feedback – Working with a new VA takes a little time to get to know one another and needs some adjustment. With each project, ensure that you review the work and provide your VA with your feedback. What worked? What didn’t? Are there any little changes you’d like to see for the next project?
• Delegate don’t abandon – Ensure that you agree with your VA what level of communication is appropriate between you. You may want to touch base weekly or perhaps fortnightly depending on the task in hand with a simple email.
• No need to micro-manage – On the other extreme, don’t manage every aspect of the process. Your VA is an independent business owner in their own right. Allow them to do what you are paying them to do.
A Mutually Profitable Future…
As long as you have thought about your process, what you need to delegate, discussed it in your discovery call and provided your brief with your VA, then you have taken the necessary steps to liaise appropriately with your VA to have a mutually profitable future.
You are more than able to feasibly save up to 5 to 30 hours a week that will open you up to develop on expanding your business or even spending more leisure time or family time perhaps…
If you are looking to hire a virtual assistant and would like help with the entire process, consider checking out NottmVA. I would be delighted to hear from you and talk you through your social media and/or business administration. If you would like to receive a copy of the Top Ten Tips for Freelancers – please select it here: Top Ten Tips
Many Sole Traders inadvertently outsource their work or tasks to a more economical source. In my niche (or target market/audience) of Health, Wellbeing and the Medical sector, whilst dealing with Special Category Data, this is the most common and costly mistake you could ever make!
Here is an explanation as to why, and what you should really be doing instead.
Special Category Data: Personal, Sensitive details
By outsourcing your admin work to a £10.00 per hour worker might seem like a perfect solution to you at the time, and you may think that you’re getting a job done for half the pay, or a third of the cost perhaps, but there are reasons for that:
Virtual Assistants who are either self-employed (or could also be Ltd) who provide you with invoices and have been in business for extensive amounts of time, have taken specialist training, and more importantly have registered with the ICO and the HMRC with their businesses and of course, have the appropriate business insurances, public liability and some may even have cyber data loss insurance too!
Would your £10.00 per hour admin person with their wage, after taking on board for example, to pay for the tax and NI deductions, their secure systems and subscriptions that are needed to keep yours and your clients’ data secure, the relevant insurances mentioned above, the compliances, the costs for their own training and marketing costs and the wear/tear and utilities costs and so on. Let alone any profit!?! Once all of that has been taken out of their £10.00 per hour cost – what on earth are they left with to live on? It just doesn’t make good business sense! But more importantly, how are you or your clients’ data being protected?
You may need to question this. You can check the ICO Register here: https://ico.org.uk/ESDWebPages/search/ to see if your workers’ invoices for your special category data are registered for processing or controlling yours or your clients’ data.
I liaise regularly with my IT Consultant for GDPR to ensure that my software and systems are secure and up-to-date.
Here you can see a graphic provided from VIPVA.org that illustrates the true take-home pay of a Virtual Assistant and this is based on the 2017-2018 tax year’s hourly rate of £25.00 per hour. Interesting figures huh?
But what if I like my Worker?
There are ways around this, of course. If your worker is not registered, with either the HMRC and/or the ICO, then, of course, there are a couple of options.
You will need to either a) employ them or b) the worker will need to become self-employed (or Ltd) and invoice you accordingly.
If you employ them then you will need to be liable for their holiday pay, pension pay, and everything else that is associated with employment law and there is an abundance of information out there that will support you with that.
If your worker then decides to register as self-employed and you then receive invoices as you outsource work to them as their Virtual Assistant, then the Virtual Assistant or Freelancer will need to have immediate ICO registration and appropriate GDPR and special category data training in order to protect both your data and more importantly your clients’ data as they will have access to confidential and sensitive information.
I use a company called KoffeeKlatch for this very specialist training.
There is also the option of asking your freelance worker to undertake some VA training. At the beginning of my PA to VA journey I joined a comprehensive training programme that taught me how to run a business and how to use my existing skills and trained me to use my passion and skills that I utilize in my business today.
What if I think a mistake has been made?
If you feel that mistakes have been made in your business, either by you, your practice or your work, of course, you are obligated to report a breach to the ICO to protect your business and your clients and you only have a limited time to do this under the rules and guidance that is provided with the GDPR.
If you have breached your clients’ data to someone that should not have it, then you will need to provide to the ICO your examples of what has been breached, how it was breached and solutions as to how it will not happen again – all within their small window of reporting schedule.
What if I want to Outsource my admin work to someone else?
If you would feel like the time has come to complete your current contract that you have with your worker, then, of course, your written existing contract will explain how you give notice to your existing worker. If you do not have a contract then I can highly recommend Koffeeklatch VA Contracts.
If you would like to work with an experienced Virtual Assistant, that is passionate about their own ethics and morals, and understands how to work with their own security, data and has good business ethics and acumen and is confident about working with your data and your client’s Special Category Data then, by all means, contact Angela at NottmVA.
How Do You Protect Yourself From A Potential ICO Threat?
Angela Brown | 2018
As a small business, you are registered with the HMRC and with the ICO as a data controller and/or processor right, RIGHT?
It is important to ensure that you have got your policies and processes set up and you have undertaken the necessary training and that your paperwork in order, that’s a given. If you need to, you can look for the necessary business contracts via KoffeeKlatch who are an excellent source for all your GDPR business matters are and have legal experts on board to guide you through all the legal jargon.
Only you, as the lead in your business and the expert in your field, know how to undertake your business to its ultimate, as a freelancer have to convey to your client how to proceed with a particular task, but they have been doing something one way, and you need to be assertive in doing that something a different way or enforce something, it can be a bit tricky.
Let me give you an example:
If your client was sending documents to a client (let’s say client A) with an attachment that contained sensitive data with details of name, date of birth and bank details etc, and your client happened to send the wrong PDF document to the client (let’s say client B), you would then be in an ICO breach position and have to report this incident as another client would have had access to another person’s data and you would have to write up a process of how the incident occurred and how you would rectify it, and how it would never happen again – all within 48 hours.
If you had a policy and process in place that you ensured that your client A (and their employees) had all of their PDF documents password-protected with each client’s own preferred passwords (by separate means, not via email), that if the wrongly-sent document from Client B with Client B’s password on was sent to Client A, if Client A tried to open with Client A’s password, and could not open because of the process in place. Then there is only an error made that needs to be rectified, and a breach avoided.
It is imperative that as a small business yourself you are following correct procedures and processes and ensure that as a data controller and processor that any work you undertake as a freelancer that you are compliant with work that you do not only for yourself but for others too.
If you need source PDF documents password-protecting then NottmVA can undertake that service for you. Please email for your enquiries.
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