If you have elected to use the services of a Virtual Assistant (VA) you have thought through how much it will save you over having an on-site assistant. You’ve probably thought about how nice it will be to not have to deal with the hiring/firing process or having to carry all the insurances associated with a full time employee. But what can a VA actually do for you? Every VA offers different services but these are 4 things that most Virtual Assistants can do.
Bookkeeping: It’s one of the easiest things to hand over to your Virtual Assistant. You will have to relinquish some of your control but if you find the right VA it won’t stress you out because the job will get done right. Having your bookkeeping needs taken care of will allow you time to focus on bigger parts of your business.
Online Research: Online research can time consuming and difficult to some. Outsourcing this task to your VA will free up a lot of time for you. The results can be put into a simple format for you to easily take the information you want from it.
Database Creation/Maintenance: Creating a database is easy if you know what you are doing but can be difficult to get going if you are inexperienced at it. You can give your VA your information and in no time they can create a database to meet your needs. If you have already made your own database from time to time you will need to update and maintain it. You could even set up scheduled maintenance with your VA so you never run into any problems accessing and using your database.
Social Networking: Social networking is one of the most important things when it comes to promoting yourself or your business. Like anything else though, it is very time consuming. It is 24-7 networking. So it is nice to have someone to help you keep up with it. Multiple usernames and passwords, remembering to update, re-post, tweet, and doing it all on time are all things a VA can take care of for you. It takes away a lot of the stress of social media.
Remember, every VA is different. They offer many other services that may be advantageous to you.. Look at what things seem to cause stress or cause snags in your daily business and let your Va take over. Learning how to utilize your VA will make the most of your time and your dollar.
Ever get the feeling someone is watching you? Better yet, do you own a laptop? If so, then there is a chance someone is watching you! According to Channel 7 ABC News, 1/24/13, there is a new type of hacker in town and they’re capable of hacking into your webcam. The FBI says this unnerving and horrific phenomenon is a growing problem, not to be taken lightly.
32 year old Luis Mijangos, from Santa Ana California, was arrested and sentenced to 6 years in prison for cyber terrorism. His specialty was hacking into, predominantly female, webcams and taking photos and videos of the individuals on the other side of the webcam without their knowledge. He would then use the photos and images to extort sexual cyber favors from his victims via threat of exposing the images to the world wide web. Or, in some cases, Mijangos would expose certain sex videos, taken via webcam, by sending them to ex boyfriends, in an attempt to punish disobedient web targets. To learn more check out this LINK: http://www.gq.com/news-politics/newsmakers/201201/luis-mijangos-hacker-webcam-virus-internet
It’s terrifying to think virtual peeping toms could be peeping through your webcam as you read this. It’s a shame there are even people that would stoop to this level. In a meager attempt to fight back, keep your anti-virus software running all the time and keep a sticky-note over the webcam whenever it’s not being used. There is no doubt that you need to keep you and your children safe, but do not live in fear of Big Brother, for that is what the hacker wants. For additional details, check out this LINK: http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2012/07/05/ask-asa-protecting-yourself-from-webcam-hackers/
The Era of the Virtual Assistant
by: Guy Peck
The one undeniable truth, we all must face, is that we are all susceptible to change. There’s no escaping it. Everyday so many people try desperately to prevent change but always to no avail. You know those “stick to the routine or die” type people? Despite mother nature’s relentlessness, showing us everyday that with time brings change and with change brings inevitability. What these people don’t see, and what many others refuse to see, is that change is good. Though change can be intimidating, it must first be confronted and then revolutionized. I have found that incorporating change into my everyday “routine” has cleared my head and made my goals much more visible. At McClure Virtual Business Solutions LLC we know about change. Our goal is to revolutionize the “office assistant” world by integrating it with the virtual world. On-site admin employees cost more than our home-based office assistants and they do not come with software. You have to account for their breaks and vacations. You have to consider unexpected sick days. Virtual Assistants, at least at MVBS LLC, work as a team to service our clients individually from multiple angles of expertise. The best part? We do this from home. We are the business world changing. We are change, and change is good.
Example of good change: Communication. 200,000 years ago came speech, 30,000 years after that symbols became the new “smartphone”. Eventually came postage and worldwide communication was born, revolutionizing itself in every form of society. Now business could be conducted around the world and those who capitalized on those concepts are the ones whom brought the naysayers out of the caves and into the office.Think about the “old timers” at the beginning of the “smartphone era” and just remember their reluctance. Or, even further back, the cellphone era came and conquered the telephone with sophistication and intelligence, and yet.. people still refused to evolve. I know people to-date who refuse to get cellphones and dub it a “scam”. Opening your mind and erasing this reluctance is the key to success. Do you think Karl Benz, inventor of the first modernized car, ever said:
“You know what?- I think horseback is as good as travel is ever gonna get.”
Of course not. He built a mechanical horse on 4 wheels that moved, and he did it with style. This is why the acceptance of change must become so embedded in the fiber of our being that we are able to not only embrace change, but anticipate it. The ones out there waiting for the new software and technology to be released are the ones who know how to use it. It’s these people who are always “with the times,” that are usually the ones who realize change can become a lucrative service that presents itself indefinitely to all those willing to acknowledge it. Fortune 500 companies don’t still communicate only via paper and messenger, they get a smartphone hire an assistant or two, and focus on the important things, like profits. The business world is fast turning virtual. Social media this, Tweet that. “Send me a text”, “Shoot me an email”, “I’ll see you on Skype later”. Change. It’s everywhere you look. The proper integration of change with business, has revolutionized our world and because of this, has become the foundation of success. As such, why hire administrative employee(s) for your business, go through the trouble of preparing an office and offering health insurance? Why pay more for one on-site employee when you can get a team of virtual admin assistants, equipped with an arsenal of software and expertise, for a fraction of the cost? Why not just call McClure Virtual Business Solutions LLC, and save yourself the time and effort without sacrificing the quality of work? Change. Why not?
“Lets meet and make a change!!”
Think you can do it all by yourself and be a star Entrepreneur? Maybe you can but on the other hand maybe you need some help… Here are some signs indicating a virtual assistant may be your answer:
1. Piles of Paperwork – A cluttered work area is a sure sign you could use some help. A Virtual Assistant can assist you in organizing all of your files online, update contacts, help you prioritize your goals and ideas.
2. Your To Do list is Multiple Pages – Is completing your daily task list impossible? If your task list is so long that there is no way you are going to finish it and move on to your next set of goals, then you need a virtual assistant. Having a virtual assistant on call will allow you to delegate those non-income tasks that you either don’t want to do or that don’t seem like a priority although you know they are important.
3. What Social Media Schedule? – if your business doesn’t have some sort of social media plan or schedule, or if you do but are not implementing it, then get a virtual assistant.
4. Research – most businesses either need to research one thing or another for their personal businesses or for their clients and we all know how time consuming research is. Letting a virtual assistant conduct this research for you will improve your productivity output in your own business and also allow you to provide the information your clients need in a more timely manner.
5. Leads are passing you by – You are a savvy professional, networking every chance you get but you are not making the most of these contacts and you know it. Enlisting the services of a virtual assistant and informing them of the specifics of your lead qualifying process will allow you to nurture those potential leads and grow your business in the meantime.
6. Projects, projects, projects – Another sign you need a virtual assistant is that you are juggling multiple projects at once but are unable to complete any of them. Pass them along to a virtual assistant. Let them know the basics or in detail what you want the outcome to be and let them take it from there. If you are not sure how to direct your virtual assistant, send them your notes, or whatever work in progress and let them come up with a draft for your critique. Once they get something in front of you it will be much easier for you to request edits or changes.
7. Disaster Databases – Hire a virtual assistant to help you update, edit, add to or give your databases a complete overhaul.
What are some other ways you think you could use a virtual assistant?
The McClure Virtual Business Solutions Client Of The Month is Fitness Brokers USA. MVBS assists Fitness Brokers USA on a monthly basis with database management and invoicing. Fitness Brokers USA is a full service, pre-owned fitness equipment company that buys and sells to commercial and residential customers worldwide. They offer personal, one on one consultations to help you reach your fitness goals. Summer is almost here so get back to those New Year’s resolutions and check them out. Get great deals on commercial fitness equipment and strength training items by visiting their e-store at http://stores.ebay.com/Fitness-Brokers-USA. Stay up to date on their latest arrivals by “Like’ their Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Fitness-Brokers-USA/187670107943109. For answers to all your fitness questions contact, Joe Gulino at firstname.lastname@example.org or Noel Roby at Noel.P.Roby@gmail.com. Check out their website at http://www.fitnessbrokersusa.com/.
We all know that making a sale is exciting and is what brings home the bacon. The sale, however, is not what makes most businesses profitable. By profitable I am referring to long term success. It is the customer relationships that make businesses profitable. More specifically, what happens after the sale is usually what is crucial in maintaining most businesses. Without good customer/client relationships most businesses would fail. I say “most” because I’m sure there is an exception or two to this rule but the majority of businesses do rely on at least 3 things: repeat customers, referrals and good recommendations. Make sure that you keep a database of incoming customers and clients with their contact information. Here are 5 ways to maintain good rapport with your customers after the sale:
1. Send a thank-you. After the sale, send your client or customer a thank-you note and or gift depending on your budget and what service or product you offer. This gives the customer the feeling you see them as a new friend not just a dollar sign. They will think of you again, which is your ultimate goal. I don’t suggest including coupons or anything promotional as this takes away from the sincerity of your actions. There will be opportunities later on for those activities.
2. E-Newsletters & Social Media – get customers to join you in your social media communities as well as sign up for your e-newsletter. Include the latest news and updates in your company as well as links to the latest article you wrote on your blog or elsewhere. This will give you the opportunity to stay in constant connection with your clientele. Not only will you stay in constant contact, you will be the first company they think of when someone they know is looking for the product or service you provide.
3. Postcard, Brochures, other print media that may be appropriate to your business. I know in this day and age a lot of people feel that print advertising is dead. I don’t completely agree with that. I feel that because print media may be taking a back seat in this technological world of social media, online directories and other online advertising, it is a favorable option in your marketing plan and customer relations management. The fact that it is becoming the least used media for advertising and marketing may give you the leg up when utilizing it. When a customer or client gets a piece of print media from you it gives a more personal impression. You aren’t just spamming them with random email ads, you are taking the time to design, address (yes I do recommend writing out the address to the addressee) and put a stamp on a postcard, letter, brochure or whatever it may be.
4. Offer referral discounts. When creating your marketing calendar input an opportunity to send out a coupon offering a discount or gift certificate when customers or potential customers refer you. You can choose to distribute your coupon either through social media or print or both. Make sure you include a coupon code for tracking your marketing and instruct them to make sure their friends mention them when contacting you.
5. Finally, refer your customers and clients to others. Get to know your clientele, find out what they do, ask for a business card, whatever you have to do to get more info from them. Then file that information accordingly and be sure to refer them out during your day to day business as well as to your familiar sphere of influence. Your clients will be extremely grateful and will either continue to utilize your services or products if need be or they will be sure to refer you out to their sphere. One hand washes the other.
Thanks again for reading and if you have any other great ideas or suggestions that are vital to maintaining relationships after the sale please comment!
Starting a Home Office Checklist
Do It Yourself (Or Hire a Business Support Specialist!)
1. Purchase Furniture necessary for your specific business.
2. Design your workspace to accommodate your needs.
3. Make a list of your business needs. What systems do you want in place to make your workspace flow in a systematic manner? Ex. Types of shelving, cabinetry, etc. Take into consideration if you will be having clients visit your home office or if it is for strictly personal use.
4. Draw a rough floor plan on how you think your furniture would be best laid out.
5. Decorate. Make a list of possible decorative items/themes that would suit your personality and business best.
6. Purchase supplies necessary to run and maintain your business.
7. Create an organizational structure. Decide where your supplies should be placed or stored for best use. Implement databases to track inventory of supplies & business maintenance databases such as a Lead/Client Activity Tracking Log, Marketing Tracking Log, Supply Inventory, Seminars/Continuing Education Logs, Sales & Expense Logs, etc. (See attached examples). Simplify your life and “Go Green” by consider putting into place an online filing system such as Google Docs for your business maintenance. Consult a Business Support Specialist for more ideas on what systems might work best for your particular business needs.
8. Maintaining your organizational structure. Follow up on maintaining your business by inputting reminders into your calendar to check up on the status of your systems. Or hire a Business Support Specialist to relieve you of this burden! The following are some of the systems that you will want to check and update regularly.
Databases/Spreadsheets – are they up to date with all pertinent information entered.
Contacts List – are all recent and past contacts entered?
Calendar – are all appointments and important dates entered?
Client/Lead Follow Up – go through your lead/client list and make sure that they have been followed up with appropriately and in a timely manner.
Email Manager – are all emails organized into files appropriately?
Supplies – is there an adequate amount of all necessary operating supplies?
Client Accounts – are all your clients up to date with their payments?
9. Expenses – Are your bills paid and filed appropriately? Are your expenses & income recorded in Quickbooks or other finance manager?