Blog Archive: Uncategorized

15 Benefits of Utilizing a Virtual Assistant

With the new year around the corner, now is the time to launch your business forward! Here are just a few of the benefits of investing into a Virtual Assistant!

  1. Access to extensive knowledge and expertise
  2. Freedom to focus on priorities
  3. Cost-effective
  4. Efficient and reliable team member
  5. Business flexibility
  6. More time to focus on revenue-driven activities
  7. Option to tap into larger networks
  8. Value add perspective from a business owner
  9. Vested interest in your success
  10. Higher level of productivity
  11. High-level support
  12. After-hours support
  13. Reduced investment in recruitment costs
  14. No need to pay for benefits including vacation, sick or holidays, payroll taxes or administrative costs
  15. Additional time for personal pursuits

Kick-start the new year the right way by adding a Virtual Assistant to your team!

How to Stay Organized – Even on the Messiest of Days

Being organized is something that’s essential for you, the sales person, business owner, or entrepreneur. Days can be long, hard and not go as planned. After a long day out in the field, organizing the events from the day is not appealing. So to prepare you for those crazy days, I’ve come up with a few ways to keep you organized throughout your day.

Reminder Apps

Things can come up in an instant throughout your day so have a reminder app on hand. There are many apps to choose from, but I like this one I found, To Do Reminder app for androids. It’s quick and easy. Scheduled a call with a lead for later in the day and don’t want to forget, bring this app up and without typing, voice the activity you need to remember, and set the other features to your liking and it’s done! For the Apple users, try Alarmed – Reminders – Timers. This app has a lot of great features, especially the “Nag-Me” feature which allows for your reminder to go off at regular intervals for a fixed period of time! Now call me old fashioned, but I prefer to have a regular ‘ol paper and pen daily agenda with me, but do whatever works best for you!

De-Clutter On a Regular Basis

Every day we’re bombarded with “stuff.” That stuff could be emails, items in our mailboxes, voicemails, or paper on our desks. It’s important to keep up with the “junk” that comes our way, instead of letting old emails clutter up your inbox, create sub-folders in your inbox for difference subjects then move the emails over that pertain to the different subjects and voila! Your inbox becomes just that less crowded. How about the junk mail that arrives in your mailbox? Invest in a nice cross-cut shredder and keep it plugged in and ready to go! Instead of letting it pile up on your table or desk, discard it immediately. Not fond of de-cluttering daily, look at your schedule and find a time to organize. You must be intentional otherwise it will accumulate quickly.

Do Not Procrastinate

Part of staying organized is not procrastinating. Because life is fast-paced, the longer you put something off the more difficult it will be to get it done. Organize as soon as you can. As soon as emails come in, click and drag them under the appropriate sub-folder you created in your mailbox. I know Outlook has rules and filters you can apply to emails to have them appear directly in sub-folders. Get those filters in place now! If you put in the effort to get things done as soon as possible, you will be less stressed and life won’t feel like it’s a snowball growing and gaining speed down a hill! Putting in the effort now will lift the weight off of you from doing it later. So get busy!

*Article as appeared in Christine Harrington’s Sales Pearls Newsletter.

6 Mistakes To Avoid When Working a Virtual Assistant

For most, the Virtual Assistant world is new ground. Most don’t know how to find a Virtual Assistant and once one is found, the collaborating process can seem messy. Below I’ve highlighted several common mistakes that business owners make when getting started working with a Virtual Assistant.

1. Being Unprepared

Working with a Virtual Assistant is a good business decision, but one that can take some prep work initially. Prior to working with a virtual assistant you need to have an idea of what tasks you are needing assistance in, how many hours a month you will require, and instructions on how to complete the tasks. If you wanted to give even more detail, you can write a job description which should explain your requirements and describes your ideal candidate. As with most things, the gratification of this prep work isn’t immediate, but in the end, you will be glad you did.

2. Hiring Cheap

Looking to pinch every penny? The old adage, “you get what you pay for” comes in handy here. A virtual assistant for $2 an hour brings many disadvantages including:

  • Potential language barrier
  • Big time zone difference
  • Inability to understand your business concepts
  • Confidentiality issues

While you are looking to reduce employee-related costs working with an extremely low-cost virtual assistant brings too many disadvantages. These disadvantages could be disastrous for your business. A good, quality virtual assistant will be there to partner with you in your success. And true, the dollar-per-hour will be more for a quality virtual assistant, compared to hiring someone fulltime and in-house, BUT a quality virtual assistant will be most cost-effective. See the graphic below:

3. Some Assembly May Be Required

This is all-too-true! Bringing a new person up-to-speed with your business concepts will take some time. Issues like granting access to calendar, contacts, email, may require more work-arounds than you had anticipated; or getting your virtual assistant set up on weekly/monthly schedule of tasks, takes some tweaking as well. Allow your virtual assistant time to join your team. A virtual assistant has a lot to learn in regards to your systems and processes. With employees you have in-house, there was time before they reached their full potential, please allow the same for your virtual assistant.

4. Don’t Micromanage

Ahhhhhh! This one can be difficult for the person who has “done it all” for years. I get it. I understand. Letting go of things is hard to do. You’ve done it the same way for years and your business is your baby. But one of the reasons you want to work with a virtual assistant is to save you time. Micromanaging will only continue to eat your time, but will also serve to frustrate your virtual assistant. If it calms your fears, why not ask for weekly progress reports. Not being able to go down the hall and ask where your virtual assistant is on a project can create some fear so put in place checks and balances. Not only will that calm your fears, but miscommunications will be caught sooner as well.

5. Wanting It All

While it would be great, to have a one-stop shop virtual assistant, please don’t expect that out of yours. When calling your bookkeeper, you don’t expect them to be a content-writing, appointment scheduling, customer service pro do you? You may need SEO help, web-developing help, graphic designing help, bookkeeping help, but how good is your virtual assistant going to be if they’re a jack-of-all-trades? If you need web developing help, go to a web developing specialist, if you need bookkeeping help, go to a bookkeeper – those who specialize in those areas to give you the best help that you need. What is the phrase, jack-of-all-trades, master of none?

6. Unrealistic Turn Around Time

While your business is the most important thing to you, and what you’ve got going on is uber important, be considerate of your virtual assistant who has other clients. Your dedicated virtual assistant is no doubt busy and is taking care of all of his/her clients with care. Expecting immediate turn around time is not fair to your virtual assistant who is running a business themselves. You wouldn’t go into your lawyers office and expect them to drop everything and start working on your case, would you? Probably not. You would expect them to give you an idea when they’ll be able to get to it and when you should hear from them. Of course, if there is something urgent, make the request known to your virtual assistant. As for me, I am always open to hearing the needs of my clients.

I am the owner of SwansonSimpleSolutons, LLC, a virtual assistant business. I have been working to give my clients back time that they so desperately need. Please contact me if you think you’re in need of administrative help, but do not want to hire a full-time employee!

Best wishes,

Christine Swanson, Virtual Assistant

 

Virtual Assistance – The Most Frequently Asked Questions

As a Virtual Assistant (VA), I get many questions. Most people I interact with do not know what a Virtual Assistant is or what one can do for them. I come across very few people that know what we do! So I decided to put together a list of the most frequently asked questions I get.

What is a Virtual Assistant?

A Virtual Assistant is a person who helps other business owners with their administrative tasks, but helps the business owner from their home office. Virtual Assistants are business owners who use technology to support their clients. If you are in need of administrative support, but are not able to hire a full-time employee, don’t have the office space or equipment, then using a Virtual Assistant is your answer!

What does a Virtual Assistant do?

There are a myriad of ways a Virtual Assistant can help you. I will list a few of the things a Virtual Assistant can do for you, but in short a Virtual Assistant does all or most of your administrative work that you don’t want to do or don’t have time for. Here are a few specifics:

  • Data Entry
  • Calendar Management
  • Social Media Maintenance
  • Bookkeeping
  • Meeting & Event Planning
  • E-Newsletters
  • Internet Research
  • Database & Contact Management

Why would I work with a VA, when I can do everything myself?

You simply can’t continue to do it all yourself and enjoy life! Working with a VA will give you back time so that you can concentrate on reaching your goals. Instead of being bogged down with the daily nitty gritty work you can concentrate on parts of the business you love! This new found time will give you space in your life which may include:

  • Increasing your revenue and profits
  • Increasing your productivity and stability
  • Stress is reduced and deadlines are met

Also, what is the monetary value of your time? Got the number? Whatever that is, that’s how much it is costing you to do your administrative tasks. A VA is much more cost-efficient and can probably do those tasks more proficiently.

Hiring a Virtual Assistant looks more expensive than hiring an employee. Is it?

No it’s not. For an employee, not only do you need to pay an hourly wage, but you have to pay for benefits, payroll, taxes, time not worked (vacation, holidays, sick), and administrative costs of recruiting, hiring and training not to mention purchasing equipment and furniture while adhering to mandates such as OSHA. While working with a VA is not intended to be a “cheap” alternative to getting support, it IS intended to be a convenient, cost-effective solution to your needs. A VA, like myself, sets fees based on the value they bring to you. I personally offer clients “ad-hoc” hours which means my clients give me only the amount of work they have for me during a month. I also offer retainer packages where clients can buy a set amount of hours each month for a set fee.

Why should I work with you and not outsource my work to an overseas Virtual Assistant?

Well if you’re looking for a cheap Virtual Assistant, you can find one for a few dollars an hour overseas. If you pay peanuts, you’ll get monkeys! Yes, you can find a Virtual Assistant cheap overseas, but you will have barriers like the ocean for one, as they cannot come to you if needed, communication barriers, and an overseas Virtual Assistant may not understand your U.S. business practices. With an overseas Virtual Assistant, you may spend more time (which equates to money!) managing that person as you try to convey what your business needs are. Also with an overseas assistant, you don’t really know who is working for you. Because most overseas Virtual Assistants work for an outsourcing company, you may very well spend time managing your Virtual Assistant today only to have them be replaced tomorrow. You cannot feel confident knowing where and to whom you are sending your important business information.

Working with a local VA could mean one in your neighborhood or a VA on the same continent as you. If your Virtual Assistant is truly local, he or she may offer to come to your place of business should you have that need. Instead of mailing documents back and forth, your local VA can come to you! With a local Virtual Assistant there will be no language or communication barriers and he or she can be available during your business hours as there shouldn’t be a huge time zone difference. Unlike utilizing an overseas outsourcing company, a local Virtual Assistant is a business owner who invests time in your business to help you reach your goals.

Those are some of the most frequently asked questions I receive. I plan on doing another post for a few questions that pertain more to my particular services. But do you have a question for me? Did I not answer one of your questions? If so, please feel free to send me a message on LinkedIn so we can connect!

Best wishes,

Christine Swanson, Virtual Assistant

SwansonSimpleSolutions, LLC

15 Benefits of Utilizing a Virtual Assistant

With the new year around the corner, now is the time to launch your business forward! Here are just a few of the benefits of investing into a Virtual Assistant!

  1. Access to extensive knowledge and expertise
  2. Freedom to focus on priorities
  3. Cost-effective
  4. Efficient and reliable team member
  5. Business flexibility
  6. More time to focus on revenue-driven activities
  7. Option to tap into larger networks
  8. Value add perspective from a business owner
  9. Vested interest in your success
  10. Higher level of productivity
  11. High-level support
  12. After-hours support
  13. Reduced investment in recruitment costs
  14. No need to pay for benefits including vacation, sick or holidays, payroll taxes or administrative costs
  15. Additional time for personal pursuits

Kick-start the new year the right way by adding a Virtual Assistant to your team!

Best Wishes,

Christine Swanson, Virtual Assistant