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How An Accountability Partner Helps You Grow Your VA Business

Did you reach the last goal you set in your business?

Good Virtual Assistants set goals, just like all good business owners. It's how we grow, and it's how we get better at what we do.

Whether it's business or marketing related, there is nothing like achieving a goal you set for yourself to help you celebrate your success!

But if you are setting goals and then just not reaching them - then, honestly there is no point in setting them. You have to do what you say you want to do!

However, all is not lost!

All you need is someone to help you stay on track - an accountability partner.

An accountability partner is someone you choose to partner with in your VA business, that becomes your confidant/e, your cheerleader, your butt-kicker, and even your strategist.

When you start a partnership with someone else, you help each other with moving ahead in your business - and helping you to get done what you say you want to get done.

Just like we do for our clients!

Our own VA business 'stuff' often gets left by the wayside as we focus on client work - but our business can't grow if we don't nurture it.

Here are a few tips for you to find and work with an accountability partner:

Find an accountability partner. 

Look for someone who understands the VA industry or business. You don't want to spend your time explaining everything all the time. Ideally another VA might work - but it's not necessary, as long as your partner understands how the VA industry and role works. You can look in CAVA for one - just reach out to your colleagues!

Build a partnership with structure.

Don't keep it casual. You want to have a structure - a regular check in call is going to be essential to your success. Figure out how you keep your records of what your goals and actions are (I suggest a shared Google Doc you can both access and update). And be sure to schedule and structure your phone call so you both stay on track for reporting your updates.

Help each other build better habits and routines.

The hardest part of getting things done in your VA business is thinking you have more time than you do. We are all busy, so that's why we don't get things done to begin with. Try to help each other move slowly but surely. If a goal is too lofty (ie get 10 new clients in a month), you won't reach it. You want to set goals that you can reach (especially in the beginning). If you think your partner's goal is too big, challenge them to break it down so it's more manageable.

Set each other up for success.

Make sure that you are both at the same place in your business - both committed to doing the work to help yourselves and each other. Commit to being present and supportive on your check in calls. Schedule them and be honest with what you have done and what you haven't. Your partner can't help you if you are not being honest. 

Accountability is an essential piece of your business. Getting a partner is simplest way to get started. If you want support from a group, be sure to have a look at my Inspired Action Mastermind Group for VAs - a low-cost, high value coaching program centred around monthly goal setting and weekly accountability. 

Get more details here: www.YourVAMentor.com/inspired 

Freshen Up Your Social Media Content with These Tips

Do you get stuck when it comes to social media content?

Many Virtual Assistants say they don't know what to post, and so they end up either wasting time, or posting nothing at all.

But social media is one of the best tools you can use to market your VA business.

I don't know about you, but when I come across someone that I might want to work with, I immediately check out their online presence, and that includes their social media profiles and content.

No matter what your service offerings are, I want to see that content in your social media posts.

If you are struggling with what to put out there, here are some tips to help you get unstuck, and getting your profiles to work for you.

1. Plan ahead

So many VAs try to just post spontaneously, and then they say they don't know what to post or write. Your social media is marketing - and you need to present a cohesive message to your audience that lets them know what you do and how you can help them. Without a plan, you will not be able to make sure that your message is consistent and clear.

2. Focus on 1-2 platforms

It is tempting to be everywhere and do everything, but the more you try to do (especially without a great plan), the more you will dilute your efforts - and your results will reflect that. Focus on 1 platform at a time, and really do it well. Facebook or LinkedIn are usually the two biggest places that VAs post. Clients are generally in one or the other, and you will have the time to interact with people better when you don't have to go 5 places. Master one platform, and then start to work with another.

3. Schedule and Be Spontaneous

Some people will tell you to never schedule any social media, but it helps to make sure you are consistent. Don't rely on scheduling everything, however. The idea behind social media is to be social. Schedule one post a day to Facebook, and make an effort to be present at least once a day to share and be social. When you aren't present, your content will reflect that.

4. Curate Great Content

Your social media channels don't have to be all about you. Find content that others are posting and share that with your audience as well. Of course make sure it is congruent with your own marketing message. But you don't have to reinvent the wheel with every post. If you see some great information that someone else has shared about a topic that your audience will be interested in, share it. They will appreciate it!

5. Check Your Messaging

Make sure your messaging is consistent with what you are talking to clients about on a regular basis. If your service offerings have changed, or if your target market has changed, make sure that your social media has changed too. It's important that your marketing message is consistent across your online channels. You sometimes don't know how a client finds you - so you want your message to be the same no matter where they are finding you.

6. Create Your Own Images

Sharing other people's images is easy - but it's not always the best idea (or even legal!). Creating your own images helps you to ensure that you have original content - and you can brand them to suit your business. It is a fact that posts with images garner much more interest that posts without them. Do yourself a favour and have some images made or make your own with a software like Canva.

7. Educate, Don't Sell

Many VAs get challenged by the ratio of content to sell their services versus those that don't sell. You will hear percentages like 20% or 25% sales posts. But what you really should be focusing on it educating your audience. When you do that, you are seeding your service offerings without providing a link for them to buy something. Focus your posts on providing information and your audience will get the message that you can help them.

Whether you are new to social media, or stuck in a rut of 'I don't know what to post', it's about strategy and congruency. 

Freshen up your social media by taking these two things into account. Sell less. Educate more. Make things look nice, and branded for your business. Share relevant content always. Schedule but be present.

To make sure your marketing message is congruent and working properly for you, check out this blog post:   Get The Most Out of Your Marketing Message

Don't Be Wendy Whiner! Get Better at Networking with These 5 Tips

Are you good at networking?

Networking is really just talking to people about your VA business, either in person or online.

But when I ask VAs if they are good at networking, they tell me it is something that they dread.

So instead of networking with potential clients, they hang out in the VA forums and online groups with their colleagues. And they develop terrible networking habits!

You've seen them - maybe you even are 'them' - Wendy Whiner. Always complaining, or looking for someone to agree with what they are complaining about. (apologies to any Wendys out there!)

You really need to be networking with potential clients.

But even if you are spending more time in the VA forums, then I have some tips for you on how to practice your networking there, so that you get better at it (and then move to business groups!).

I see VAs talking to each other ALL DAY LONG in Facebook groups and other online forums.

I shouldn’t have to tell you that you will never get clients by spending your days in VA groups.

But it’s not just the time being spent there. It’s what I see being posted there.

Do you know what they are talking about? How crappy their clients are. Or how uncertain they are about their skills. Or how they can't even find clients because Upwork refused their profile.

These posts bother me so much.

Why? Mainly because they are not a good use of anyone's time. And some of the groups even have potential clients in them which makes VAs look even worse.


If you are going to seek out support from - or give support to - your colleagues, you need to start to develop the right attitude and skill - to do it well, so it supports both of you. You might even find a great collaboration or referral colleague!

Here are 5 tips to get better at your networking:

Find a Great Support Network

Where do you find support for your business? Many business owners seek it out through their colleagues - and VAs are no different! If you want to be successful, you need to surround yourself with others who are working towards success as well. Fresh ideas, advice and camaraderie is important as a business owner, but especially one who works virtually - alone - all the time. A free VA group with thousands of members is not always the best place for you to grow, or to get the best support. If you can't find a support network that gets you excited to share and support the others in the group, keep looking. There is one for you!

Offer Advice Only From Experience

One of the things I see VAs do all too often is offer advice they are not qualified to offer. That's not a dig - it's a simple truth. You should only offer advice when you have had experience with the exact situation that is being discussed. If a VA is asking about business advice or advice about a client situation that you have no experience with, simply don't respond. Don't guess at what you think you would do. Think of your VA colleagues as your clients for a moment. Would you offer your client untested advice in a similar conversation? Probably not. 

It's Not Personal, It's Business

Keeping emotions out of business is challenging at times  - especially for women. But if we don’t learn to separate the business from the personal, that makes for difficult conversations with people. When you are networking with colleagues, look for the opportunities to lift everyone up by focusing on the business impact of the discussion - not on how it makes you feel. Business is business and when you remove the emotion from decision making and how you handle certain conversations (like money!), it is often so much easier. Sounds easier said than done – until you try it and you’ll love it!

Come From Abundance

When you are struggling to find clients, it is hard to stay positive. It gets difficult to watch others celebrate getting new clients if you aren't. You might even feel that other VAs are somehow taking your clients. Having a poverty mindset will take its toll on you. It's important to remind yourself every day that there are plenty of clients for everyone. You just need to find and connect with yours. Creating and maintaining an abundance mindset - where you know that there is enough for everyone - is so worthwhile.

Keep a Positive Mindset

Stop complaining! As a VA, you are a business owner. You must act like one everywhere you go. A negative mindset will soon take over your thoughts and will reflect in your actions. Work on reframing your thoughts when they go to the negative side. If the forums suck you in and drag you down, stay away from them for a week (or forever!). Focusing on a positive mindset not only helps you, but it helps those around you. Connect with other excited business owners – who need your support! You might even get a client!

Simple advice, right? I know it’s difficult to do. That’s why it takes practice and good daily habits to help you maintain it.

I urge you to try it.

Focus only on positive messaging for a week – in what you post yourself, and in what you respond to. Skip over everything else.

I think you’ll find that you are in a better frame of mind. And that’s the vibe you’ll be putting out there for your potential clients. They’ll notice!

For more tips on how to think like a business owner, check out this free training video Creating a Business Mindset. There are over 30 free training videos for Virtual Assistants on my Youtube channel. 

7 Tips to Get the Most Out of a Live Virtual Assistant Conference

Attending a Virtual Assistant conference often come with expenses – registration, of course, and sometimes travel costs. So many VAs shy away from going to them when they see them.

I recently attended the IVAA Live Summit in San Antonio, Texas with 40 other VAs. Getting together in person with your fellow VAs is not just fun, but it helps you grow as a business owner.

Attending a Virtual Assistant conference is different than any other business conference you will attend because all of the content and event activities are focused around our industry – VAs. The attendees are all VAs, and the whole theme is how to help you make your VA business better.

Here are 7 tips to help you get the most out of attending a live VA conference:

1. Deepen Relationships

Just like you build more know, like and trust with your potential clients when you meet them at in person events, the same is true for VAs. But at a VA conference, the relationships you are building are with your colleagues. They GET what you do. You can be relaxed and connect with others, ask questions about problems you are dealing with in your business, and just make friends!

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Share

Many conference hosts and speakers will have ice breakers in their talks or events that help you to share some information about your business that you might not have otherwise put up your hand to share. Don’t be afraid to share when asked to. You are always in a safe space at a conference with your colleagues – and you might just get the advice you need from VAs who really understand.

3. Don’t Sell Yourself Short

You know more than you think you do. Many VAs struggle with their own value, or focus on what others are doing instead of what they should be doing. When you gather with a group of VAs – many of us have been in your shoes – trying to find a way to make money and not feeling like what we already know how to do is adequate. Successful VAs will show you that you have special skills right now, and that should be what you focus on right now to get clients.

4. Focus on One Takeway

We have all gotten conference brain-freeze at one time or another. There is so much information that comes at us in a short period of time, it can often be overwhelming. To manage what you are taking in, at the end of each session, focus on just one thing that you can implement in your business moving forward. Virtual Assistants often think we have to do it all to be successful, but it’s better to find one nugget from each speaker that you can use – and then build a plan to implement the other stuff at a later date.

5. Social is Essential

One of the biggest reasons to attend a live VA conference is to socialize with your peers. Usually there are breaks so that you can network – but don’t forget to also change seats after each speaker or break – so that you can connect with new people throughout the event.  If there are meal breaks, get together with others to deepen your relationships with them. And if there are after-hours social events, be sure to take part. Many VAs are introverts but the social aspect is an essential way to help you realize what an amazing camaraderie Virtual Assistants have.

6. Ask Questions

Never be afraid to ask questions when you are at a VA conference.  Sometimes the speakers or the hosts are trying to fit their information into a box of time – and they can leave out details you need to process their advice or information. If something is unclear or you need further explanation, ask. You are probably not the only wondering – and you will get more out of the session when you completely understand what is being taught. And – by standing up to ask a question, you introduce yourself and your business – and the others will remember you when the event ends.

7. Take Pictures

Long after you are back home, you will have memories of your time with your VA colleagues. But pictures are worth a thousand words. Be sure to take some photos of the event. Not only can you savour your memories of time well spent, but you can also use them on social media and in your blog, and help you remain excited about the connections you made and the learning you received.

If you have not yet attended a VA conference, consider doing so.

You will grow relationships with Virtual Assistants that can turned into accountability partners, strategic partners, trusted colleagues, and even some of your best friends.

You will learn how to make your business better – topics vary from event to event, but often cover things like business foundations, mindset, marketing, skills, and so much more… the same things that you learn at other business events, but they are all tailored to Virtual Assistants at our conferences.

The VA Conference Live in Ottawa

I invite you to check out our upcoming live VA conference in Ottawa on June 7-8, 2019. This is our third annual VA conference in Ottawa, and every year we make it better for you! This year we have introduced a theme of Confidence - and will have expert speakers teaching you how to improve your mindset, branding, value, message, content, marketing strategies, and more. For more details and to register, visit:  www.TheVAConference.com

Dealing with Difficult Clients

Do you ever say yes when you really would prefer to say no?

We spend so much time in our Virtual Assistant businesses trying to find clients, we rarely stop to think about what we do if they aren't that great.

You know who I'm talking about ... the clients who make you cringe when you see their name on your phone or in your email.

Our support professional persona almost always contains the 'people-pleaser' gene, and we never really want to say no to people when they ask us to do something for them.

We might put up with behaviour from clients that is not really acceptable - if those clients think of us as their 'help', or their 'staff'. It's not fun.

But who wants to turn away clients and lose the revenue, right?

Dealing with difficult clients is a necessary thing to learn how to do well in your business. It will help you attain longevity and be in business (happily!) for a long time.

You teach people how to treat you.

And it's up to you to teach them to treat you well!

So what is a difficult client? Here are a few behaviours that might be defined as difficult:

Breaks your boundaries.

If you have a preferred method of communication (email) and the client is constantly messaging you or calling you instead, they need to be taught the right way to communicate with you. Don't respond using methods that are not allowed. Tip: If a client texts you, email them back and let them know you got their message but to please use your communication channels so you can keep your paper trail of their work all in one place.

Micromanages your task list.

Your clients are hiring you to help them in their business because of your expertise. You should be the one managing your tasks and your schedule. You get to say what gets done and when - not someone else. You need to work with lead times and deadlines with your clients so that everyone has enough time to fit the work into their own schedule. Tip: Be proactive and communicate well. If a client sends you a task request, acknowledge it and let them know when you will complete it. Part of micromanaging comes from the client not knowing if you got their request, or not knowing when you will do it. So tell them!

Last minute work

We mentioned lead times above but last minute work is really important to address. If your clients are constantly sending you their newsletter the morning it needs to be sent out, you need to stop it. Let them know what lead time you need to get it done properly, and then hold them to it. When you consistently do last minute work, you are developing bad habits that clients will find hard to break. Tip: The easiest way to stop this habit is to simply refuse to do the work. Rush fees rarely speak to clients. But when their work does not get done because they are not organized enough, they will find a way to get organized.

Difficult clients are often just clients that have been allowed to creep boundaries or work scope. Not always, but often.

Don't let anyone treat you the way you don't want to be treated.

Act like a business owner. Treat the clients with respect. Set rules for them and hold both of you to those rules.

Everything will be clearer and your communication and your work together will improve vastly. Promise!

5 Effective Ways Virtual Assistants Can Follow Up To Get More Clients

Follow up that falls flat is wasting your networking time.

As a virtual assistant, you probably know by now that everything in your business can’t be done virtually.

Most things can – but when it comes to meeting new clients, the quickest way is still in person.

When you see people face to face, trust builds more quickly and easily.

Online connections have their place, but face to face networking is really something you should get used to in your business.

And when you do, make sure you have an effective follow up strategy.

Meeting people in person takes more time, so you want to make sure you are making the most of your time by building a solid foundation for those new connections.

Here are 5 effective things you can do to follow up with a new connection:

1. Collect business cards or contact info.

When you go to an event, you often meet more than one person at a time. It will be difficult to remember all of the details about everyone, so be sure to get their contact info so you can reach out to them afterwards.

Even if you think you have only met a few good connections, it saves you time when you get home to connect again.

Bring your own business cards to hand out as well. The other person may not contact you (if they don’t do good follow up!) but it is always professional to be able to hand out your card, and often it becomes a conversation starter.

2. Send them a resource or something of value.

After you have met someone, send them an initial email letting them know that you enjoyed meeting them, what you liked about the event, and something that you think might be of value to them.

Sometimes that is a link to one of your blog posts that was the topic of a conversations. Or maybe you send them the name of a book from an author you spoke about. Or a link to and event you discussed.

Whatever you send them, make sure it’s in line with what you talked about at the event. Relevancy is important – it shows that you were listening.

3. Ask before adding them to your mailing list.

Even though you can technically add someone to your mailing list when they give you their business card, always ask them first. I always prefer to have people reach out directly to me after I give them my card – rather than just starting to send me their newsletter.

Because it often takes up to 10 ‘touches’ for someone to move from being a prospect to a client, you don’t want to lose them right away by dumping them onto your newsletter list. Those touches really should be made personally if you met face to face.

4. Introduce yourself afterwards if you didn't have a conversation.

Some events allow you to put your business card at everyone’s place setting, or they provide you with a swag bag with marketing materials in it.

If this is the case, and you find yourself with a handful of business cards, start at the beginning. Reach out to the person and introduce yourself as you would have in person. If you can get the opportunity to have a quick phone call it’s even better.

Try not to discount anyone from their business card. Reach out to everyone. You never know where your next client will come from.

If someone doesn’t look like they might be your client, they could still have a great network, and be a potential referral source. Take a few minutes to explore their business and you might be surprised.

5. Connect with people on their social networks.

After every event, take some time to connect with everyone you met or came into contact with on social media. That doesn’t mean add them as a friend on Facebook. You can do that, but I prefer add only actual friends to my Facebook. But by all means check out all of their social media pages, and follow or like the ones that are suitable.

While you are there, explore a little bit about what they post and who they are speaking to. Add that information to your follow up notes in case it is relevant to your conversations.

Social media is meant to be social, so don’t just follow them and be done with it. Take the opportunity to reach out and send them a personal message. And like and share their stuff. The best way to get a referral is to give one first. The same goes for social media. Share other people’s stuff and they’ll share yours.

The fortune is in the follow up.

You may have heard that saying and it’s true.

Why spend your time networking if you are not going to work to make those connections stronger?

And when you develop a system that works for you, your follow up can be flawless and regular. And you will get clients sooners.

For more great info about networking for your VA business, check out my free networking videos for Virtual Assistants on my Youtube channel.

Struggling to Find Virtual Assistant Clients? Look at Your Numbers!

This Strategy Will Make Finding VA Clients Easier

Are you still having trouble getting Virtual Assistant clients through networking?

I hear this often from VAs in the online forums. They feel like they are always networking but not getting clients.

It can be very discouraging when you feel like you are doing ‘everything’ to find clients but you are still struggling.

We take it personally and the defeat can actually make many VAs throw in the towel on their business.

Look at your numbers.

How many clients are you actually looking for?

If you were looking for 100 clients, then you would have reason to be discouraged if every time you went to an event you came home with nothing. It would be an uphill battle to try to find 100 people to work with you.

Most VAs are looking for far fewer clients than that. You are probably only looking for one (or one at a time). To fill your practice you may only need 5 good clients. Five!

So specifically how many people you need to connect with to find 5 clients? Do you know that number?

Getting strategic about your numbers makes things easier to measure and to set goals that can help you get the clients.

How many you need to connect with depends a lot on where you are choosing to network.

If you are networking in the right place, you might only need to talk to 5 people. Most of the time it’s more like 15 or 20 good contacts that convert into 5 clients.

The point is, it’s a lot fewer people than you think it is.

If your networking is not working for you, you probably aren’t being strategic enough about it. 

Here are a few tips to help:

1.Go only where you know there are potential clients.

If you go to a lot of events and don’t get clients, identify why that is.

Who are you meeting there? Are the people attending 'your' kind of people?

What are your conversations about? What are you saying to them?

2. Know your services inside and out.

If you know who is attending the event, you can decide what you want to talk about, or present, in terms of your service offerings.

When you are in a networking situation, you need to have the answers to the questions the prospective client asks you. It expedites the process of ‘can you help me?’

3. Talk to people to gauge their interest.

Can you help them? If you think you can, ask them questions about their business and chat about how you can think you can help them.

If there is interest, invite them to a sales conversation after the event to explore the possibility of working together. It really can happen that quickly!

Networking strategically works for you much better than just ‘spending time’ networking.

You must have a good strategy to make it work for you.

Figure out where to find the people that you can help. And make the decision to spend your time there.

Focus your efforts on one good networking place, and make it work for you.

When you realize how easy it is to just work with your numbers, you can get clients much more easily.

Set up your strategy and when you find one client, then you simply rinse and repeat the process that got you that client.

For more great info about networking for your VA business, check out my free networking videos for Virtual Assistants on my Youtube channel.

3 Tips to Use Your Schedule to Get More Done Every Day

Why The Calendar Should Be a Virtual Assistant’s Best Friend

Being organized is a quality that a lot of Virtual Assistants bring to the table in their work.

Keeping client tasks organized and getting things done is even a common part of our service offerings.

But sometimes it’s not the way we run our own business.

Or, sometimes when we bring on a number of clients to work with at once, it becomes more difficult to make the decisions necessary to properly prioritize each client’s tasks and get things done.

Are you struggling with getting everything done in a day?

If so, I recommend using your calendar as much as possible.

Keeping a schedule makes all areas of your business better. It not only shows you what you need to get done, but it also helps you to manage your time around each thing.

Here are a few easy ways to use your calendar to get more done:

1. Schedule your business hours

Make sure that your clients and your family know when you are supposed to be working. Having regular business hours can really help everyone. For your family, it lets them know when not to disturb you, and for your clients, it tells them when they can expect to hear back from you. Business hours don’t have to be super long every day (you could have your office open just a few hours a day), but it helps communication with everyone around you, and it makes things run smoother for you.

2.  Schedule blocks of time for work

Use your calendar to block out your day. Jumping from task to task interrupts your brain’s signals too often. If you want to really focus on what you are doing, and become more efficient at it, schedule a block of time anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes to work on something specific. That may not sound like a lot of time, but when you are focused during that time you will see just how much more productive you can be. Short blocks also help you to move things around as necessary if you need to. Try it for a week!

3. Schedule your distractions

I know what you’re thinking – how can I schedule something I don’t even know about? I recently came across an awesome suggestion to deal with distractions – it’s called a Distractions List. When you are in the middle of a task, and something distracts you, simply write it down on a piece of paper or in a notebook that you keep beside your computer. Then, schedule time in your calendar to handle the items on that distractions list. If you find that you have a lot of things on your list, you might book in distraction time a few times a day – mid morning, midday and mid afternoon works. Cross the things off your distraction list when you have looked after them, and get back to work!

Bonus tip: When you are scheduling your time, be sure you have a start and end time, so that you know when you are supposed to STOP working on something. If you have ever gone down a research or social media ‘rabbit hole’, you’ll know what I mean. Set a stop time, and stop then. Assess whether you completed your task on time or if you need to adjust the schedule for future.

When you work by yourself like so many VAs do, managing your time is really important. Productivity is really essential to run a profitable business, to practice excellent time management every day. 

Don’t feel that you need to jump when a client (or a family member) needs something. Hold yourself to your schedule, and advise them when you can look after what they need. Put them on your distractions list!

And remember that short blocks of time are more manageable - instead of jamming something new into the middle of your day, see what you can move to another time slot.

Simply put, scheduling works to get more done. Try it for yourself!

For more tips on time management for your VA business, check out my free Virtual Assistant training videos on my Youtube channel.

Time is Money: 3 Tips to Use Your Time More Wisely

Guest Post: Author: Jimmy Cowan www.myspeedreading.com

A Virtual Assistant (VA) charges for their work either by the hour or project basis. The rate charged will depend on the work that you’re undertaking and the complexity of the project. Every VA wants to earn the best value for their time that they are dedicating for their service. So it’s important to charge the best value for your work.

Every VA wants to find success in their work. Time management is a big part of being successful. Our rates, schedule and productivity are all more effective when we manage our time well.

Do you have a plan?

For a VA, time is money. Every minute wasted is a loss of money. A VA must plan their day efficiently. The first thing to do when you begin your day is to plan your schedule so you can complete the work that you desire to finish in that day.

Also, make a plan for that month to achieve the targets or goals you have set for yourself. Ensure that you finish your work in that stipulated time. Planning is very important to be successful. It is rightly said that if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.

Can you multi-task?

Multi-tasking is doing more than one thing at a time. Not everyone agrees with multi-tasking. Some say that multitasking reduces the quality of the work, or will cause you to lose focus. In fact, multi-tasking is a skill that you will acquire with experience. As you gain experience, you will tend to be able to juggle multiple tasks more effectively.

Can experience make you more efficient?

In your initial days, you might take a couple of hours to complete work. As you get more experience, you will complete work faster. For instance, if you're a proofreader, and you used to take an hour to proofread a 10-page article. Over time, now you could proofread the same 10-page article in half an hour. So now, you can complete double the work in an hour. Efficiency and expertise come with practice.

So, what’s the importance of reading?

A VA has to read a large amount of information in a day. Things like reading client emails, documents, contracts, blogs, business news, and books to improve their skills.

Most VAs book their time for client work and don't always think about how to improve simple tasks like reading.

Speed reading is a skill that a VA can acquire through practice and training. Being able to read and comprehend things in a more efficient way impacts your whole business.

Here are three quick tips for to become more efficient at reading:

  1. Skimming – Just scan through the documents to pick up information that is important. Skimming is a technique of speed reading. From a sentence or a paragraph, just read the important words or sentences and skip the irrelevant information. This saves a lot of time from reading long documents or emails. Of course this should not be used for proofreading, but practicing skimming is an effective technique for daily reading.
  2. Pointer method – While reading, just keep your finger below the word or line you’re reading and just continue sweeping the finger along the lines or sentences that you’re reading. This method helps in focusing on what you’re reading and you will read at a much faster rate.
  3. Eye Exercises – When you read, you engage your brain, eyes, ears, mouth and more. Our eyes have a tendency to go back and forth while reading. Doing a few eye exercises can help you train your eyes to take in more information by expanding your vision field.

Practice these techniques and you can invest your time more wisely while reading. And you can get more done quickly, which will increase your earnings.

And most importantly, don't forget to take frequent breaks!

When your stress increases, you efficiency and quality of work get impacted. A 5 to 10-minute break every hour will revive your brain and you will feel fresh. A short break will not impact work but will boost your productivity.

For more great tips on how to read more efficiently, visit www.myspeedreading.com.

Building A Business Plan For Your Virtual Assistant Business

I wanted to do a quick video for you today about  building a business plan for your Virtual Assistant business. 

If you do not have a business plan, and this is something that a lot of Virtual Assistants are starting out or who are having a little bit of difficulty growing their business really often don't have in place.

When you write anything down it really helps to reinforce it in your brain.

So when VAs ask me if they need a business plan, my short answer is always: yes.

Because if you want to have any success in your business, you have to have a plan.

You have to know certain things and doing your business plan is what is going to be one of the easiest things for you to do.

One of the reasons that people don't like to do them is they get really scared of massive documents and that kind of thing. So I've got a business plan template that for my clients that I think just fits enough stuff into it.

It's not overwhelming. Well, it is overwhelming if you don't know the answers to things, but it helps you to look at what you don't know yet, what you need to figure out.

It helps you to put strategies in place but it also helps you to make decisions and that's the big thing.

If you have a big gaping hole in your business plan because you haven't figured out what your rate is, or who your ideal clients are, or  what services you're actually going to offer, or how your money's going to look, then that's a really key thing that you need to look into.

So the components of your business plan that I provide to my students are:

Your Business Model

How is your business going to be structured? Are you going to work by the hour?  By the project? By package of services? 

When you look at your business model, you can bring revenue into your business in a lot of different ways.

Are you going to work on retainer?

Are you going to work with a team?

Do you plan to have subcontractors?

Do you have part-time work?

Are you earning commissions?

How is your business going to work? There are lots of different ways.

You don't just have to work one-to-one with clients. That's obviously going to be the main way that you earn income, particularly in the first few years of your business, but there are lots of ways that you can supplement that income.

So you want to look at that and figure out how you can really make the amount of money you want to make. And the business model is a really big piece of that.

Finance and Revenue Forecasting

Because this is a really challenging area for a lot of people, I often suggest to just get help with it. Learn what you don't know.

So if you don't know how to do the finance part of it to figure out what your startup costs are, what you're going to have to pay on a regular basis, what you need to earn pre-tax, and and what you're going to bring into your household, what you need to earn in any particular month, that's what you need to look at.

You need to figure it out.

If I need to bring in $2,000 a month, and my billable rate is going to be around here ("$XX"), how does that actually convert -  how does that make sense for you in terms of client number of clients, or what those clients need to pay you?

Do you need to have two big clients at $1,000 a month? Or can you have eight smaller clients  who pay you $250 a month (is my math right?). So less commitment - it is a lot easier to get clients at a lower level, but you need more of them, obviously.

And then how does that work into how your business is going to be set up? 

So finance and revenue forecasting is really important to learn how to do.

That's something I teach, so I can definitely help!

Services and Rates

When you know what your revenue levels are going to be, then you can break that out into services.

If you need to make $500 per client (or whatever that looks like for you), how does that look and what services can you provide for clients to get them to that level? Determine what your rate is and and how much you'll do.

Services and rates always go hand in hand, so I quite often teach them together.

Clients

Big question! Who are your clients going to be?

A lot of VAs think they can serve anybody - that they can work with anybody - and although that's not false (it's actually quite true!), it really makes it hard to run a business, whenever you are sort of 'everything to everybody'.

If you target a particular industry for your marketing, in any given time you can determine the markets that you would like to work with.

I settled quite early on, on business coaches because they were often solopreneurs. There weren't a ton of people around. They were the decision-maker in their business. We could develop a one-to-one relationship. They wanted somebody long-term. They needed someone to do the things that I could do, like client care. There was always ongoing business. They did launches every few months, so I could take my marketing stuff and work into that.

So there are lots of different things that you can look at in terms of who your clients will be, and where they'll be.

Sometimes you want local clients. Sometimes you don't want local clients. That's a really big piece of your business plan as well.

Competitive Analysis

A competitive analysis is not about looking at your competitors or other VAs as competition to you. In fact, the VA industry is really really collaborative, and people who are in the industry and doing well, know there's more than enough work for everybody - really good clients!

There are tons of really good clients right now that simply don't have any help, because we're just still a growing industry ourselves.

So doing a competitive analysis (I really hate that word!),  is what it is you need. To look and see what the market will bear for the services that you want to offer.

You can't just sort of fix a price to it and go. I wouldn't suggest it, anyway.

You want to make sure that that the industry that you are going to be working with is able to support the rate that you want to charge. You want to know that you're somewhere in line with what other people are doing.

You can also get some really good ideas about how to package your services, or maybe who to market to, by doing a little bit of kind of competitive analysis for your clients.

Research is always going to be your friend here, but you have to use that research then to make some decisions.

Marketing Plan

You need to really put things down on paper. 

Set your end goal - this is always the way I do goal setting - set your end goal, and then you break it down into the steps that will take you to get there.

You break things down into actionable pieces, and then you can take those action steps and you can break those down into smaller daily activities, so that you can actually get things done.

Looking at marketing in terms of that perspective, what do you want to get? It's probably clients, right?

How do you do that? You need to write it all down. You need to  make sure that you do what you need to do.

When you put these things into your business plan, you can look at them.

You can see where the gaps are, and you can see what it is that you need to get support with, or you just need to make some decisions around.

If it's your rate, you know sometimes it's just set a rate and get going. It's not about looking around, and asking a million other people.

If you don't know how to do some pieces of the marketing, maybe that's where you need to get some support or some training.

So ... it's really important to get your business plan written down.

You can see exactly what it is that you need to work on, and then you can just get working.

There's a really great quote that I love:

Benjamin Franklin says "Failing to plan is planning to fail "

When you put things in place you can see what you need to work on.

You can see what needs to happen next, and it's really going to help your business.

For more Virtual Assistant training, visit our YouTube channel here or click the image below!