3 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Taking on a New Client

When starting a Virtual Assistant (VA) business, or any business, the goal is to make money and be paid for the services you are offering. Unfortunately, business owners take on new clients that are not their ideal client just to make money. We get it! Eventually a lightbulb goes off and the difficult client is the one that is not your ideal client. To avoid the pitfall of another difficult client, ask the following three questions when prescreening a potential client:

1. Do I want to work with this client and help them achieve their goal and yours?

Most business owners are looking to grow, but if you are talking to a potential client and they don’t know their goals or initiates, this may not be an ideal client.

2. Is your rate in their budget?

If they ask you to reduce your rate that could be a clear sign this is not your ideal client. You are worth every penny you are charging.

3. What are the expectations on both sides?

If having touch points and meetings to keep you and client on targeted timelines, important to you but the potential client only wants to communication email and does not want you to call them, unfortunately this may not be an ideal client for you either.

As you more frequently prescreen clients, your ideal client will become clearer. It’s exciting when the ideal client does come into your life.

Do you want a VA who believes in working with ideal clients? Email me at andrea@timesavingva.com to schedule a free consultation.

Three Rules for Delegation

This year has started very busy for me, which is a good thing. With all the things I have to do, I started thinking about the possibility of expanding my business so I can delegate to others. Successful business owners have this dilemma of how to handle the workload once the business starts growing.

Personally, I would prefer to do all the work myself, but that is not always going to be possible if I want my business to grow. The one word that goes hand in hand with delegation of responsibility is “clear.” Everyone has to be clear on the timelines, communication and responsibility. And those are my three rules for delegation:

    1. Clarify timelines: Adhering to timelines can make or break your company. When delegating, be clear and specific how much time it will take to complete the task. When someone says it’s due Friday, does that mean I should get it to you on Thursday? A better due date would be please have this back to me by 9 a.m. ET on Friday, March 20, 2015. If the task cannot be completed by the date and time given, then the team member that was delegated with the task should notify the appropriate person immediately.
    2.  Be clear and specific when communicating: Communication is important, but clear and specific communication is key. Emails can be “read” into or interpreted incorrectly. A phone call can usually clear something in a matter of minutes when several emails going back and forth got confusing. Not sure when questions became a bad thing, but it’s best to always ask questions. The clearer the task is understood the better the outcome of the product.
    3. Identify who is responsible for tasks: Responsibility of the task and expectation of what is to be accomplished is sometimes not clearly or specifically spelled out. Ever get an email that has several people on it and there is a task from the sender, but no one knows who is the “lead” or what is doing what part? It can be confusing and maybe even no one does anything. Clearly and specifically, assign the responsibility of task and the expectations for that task.

When the time comes for me to start delegating, I will have steps and processes in place to accomplish my clear, specific and expected communication plan to my team. Of course, it’s nothing is perfect but a game plan is a good start.

Do you want a VA who believes in asking questions to be clear about timelines, communication and responsibility?  Email me at andrea@timesavingva.com to schedule a free consultation.

What can you do with Dropbox in your business?

In August, I talked about 9 Tools Small Business Owners Love , and every blog post since I have expanded on these tools. Today I am going to expand on number nine on this list, Dropbox.

Dropbox is a free service that lets you bring your photos, documents and videos anywhere and share them easily with friends, family, teammates, clients, or anyone. Never email yourself a file again!

Technology is changing everyday and it’s amazing all the things we can do with “the cloud”. The cloud is a centralized storage area and can be accessed when you are online, so it’s not a physical tangible thing.

Upload your files to the cloud via Dropbox, instead of emailing them to your clients. You can set up access so that you and your client will have access to the files/folders without all the emails. The files will not be lost and will be accessible from anywhere. Access the cloud from a computer anywhere, traveling for the holidays, work or vacation, and get to everything with a click of the mouse. Using Dropbox will free up space in your email.

The basic features of Dropbox are FREE, which includes:

  • Storage of 2GB
  • Accessibility of files from the secure Dropbox website
  • Teaming with WindowsMacLinuxiPadiPhoneAndroid and BlackBerry
  • Accessing files even when offline. You always have your files, whether or not you have a connection.
  • Transferring  part of a file that changes (not the whole thing)
  • Manually set bandwidth limits — Dropbox won’t hog your connection.
  • Instantly see other people’s changes
  • Creating photo galleries that anyone, you choose can view
  • Sending a link to any file or folder in your Dropbox
  • Keeping  a one-month history of your work
  • Any changes can be undone, and files can be undeleted
  • Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and AES-256 bit encryption
  • Editing files in your Dropbox from your phone

Do you want a VA who does use Dropbox and will not lose any of your information? Email me at andrea@timesavingva.com to schedule a free consultation.

What can you do with Skype?

In August, I talked about 9 Tools Small Business Owners Love and Skype was on this list.

Skype has many different options available. It allows video and voice calls with anyone else on Skype and is a great tool for both personal and business use. It saves time because you access it from any mobile device, computer or laptop. It saves money, not only is Skype free but so are the calls you make local, long distance or even international.

I use my video call option to Skype with family in Wisconsin. I get to see my niece and nephew growing up. I can see them and they can see me and yet be many miles apart. Last year I was unable to make it to see my family at Thanksgiving, so we Skyped. I loved it. I was able to see and talk to everyone. I was online for about 2 hours. The best part was when I signed off; I did not have to listen to the kids yelling or be involved in the family drama.

I also use the calling option with my clients or team members. I only use the calling feature not the video, because we use screen sharing

Here are a few other ways I use Skype:

  • My free membership also allows me to instant message with team members, clients, friends and family.
  • I use the file share option to upload documents with other Skype members.
  • I use the screen sharing option with clients to discuss edits or ideas.

Therefore, even if you do not have a video camera you can still take advantage of Skype and its other options. I love all these free tools.

 

Do you want a VA who does use Skype to save you time and money? Email me at andrea@timesavingva.com to schedule a free consultation.

Getting Started with Hootsuite

In August, I talked about 9 Tools Small Business Owners Love  and Hootsuite was on this list.

If you are like me, someone who is interested in saving time and increasing productivity, then Hootsuite is for you. It is a streamline process where you log into one place, type your social media posting once and pick the social media outlets you would like to post to — that is it!

 

Hootsuite blog

The screen shot above shows my profiles that I can choose from.  I can only pick one or pick all four like I have in the image above.

Hootsuite shows you how many characters you are at with each social media outlet. Why is this important? Well, Twitter, for instance, limits a Tweet length to 140 characters. As you can see by the screen shot above the characters are now showing 126.

It also has a scheduling feature, so you can save time and schedule your posts for the future. Many businesses have a social media communication calendar per month. If that is the case, then you can schedule all your social media on Hootsuite well in advance. Schedule it, by picking the date and time and forget it.

If you add a link, the shrink button will be available for you. Why you should shorten your URL? The main reason is to obtain data on how people react when they receive your shortened URL. If you post a long URL, you will not be able to track real-time, but when you shorten an URL, you’ll be able to track click-through rates and even track where they are clicking from. A link shortener, also, allows you to upload images. You can use the shortened URL in emails or on your website and use Hootsuite’s URL click stats to track how many clicks those links receive

This tool is FREE.

 

Do you want a VA who does use Hootsuite and will not lose any of your information? Email me at andrea@timesavingva.com to schedule a free consultation.

Why Are You Not Using Carbonite in Your Small Business?

In August, I talked about 9 Tools Small Business Owners Love  and Carbonite was on this list.

Carbonite  is an online backup service, which can be used both in Windows on PCs and on Macs. It backs up documents, e-mails, music, photos, and settings. You can schedule the day and time that you want Carbonite to back up your items and it will do the rest. Or you can have Carbonite backup in the background of your computer all the time, so you never lose a change you’ve just made. It’s as simple as that.

Carbonite offers three different paid plans for your convenience, Personal, Pro and Server, but there is no limit on your backup storage space on any of the plans. Each of these plans have 3 options inside them, Basic, Plus and Prime. Here’s how the plans differ:

  • Personal: You need this if you have individual computers. This plan is ideal for home-based professionals looking to protect individual computers.  This plan starts at $59.99 per year.
  • Pro: You need this if you want to backup unlimited workstations.  This plan will protect unlimited computers and supports HIPAA compliance, for those in the healthcare industry. This plan starts at $269.99 per year.
  • Server: Companies will benefit from this if they are looking for local & cloud backup for files, databases and live applications. This plan starts at $799.99 per year.

It is always better to be safe than sorry. We have all had computers give us trouble. How devastating would it be if you lost everything on your computer? It’s not a matter of if your computer will crash, it’s only a matter of when. Carbonite gives you that safe peace of mind to know when your computer does decide to quit on you; you have not lost anything.

Do you want a VA who uses Carbonite and will not lose any of your information? Email me at andrea@timesavingva.com to schedule a free consultation.

How to Tell if FreshBooks is for Your Small Business

Last month, I talked about 9 Tools Small Business Owners Love  and FreshBooks was on this list.

I recommend this cloud-based accounting software because I can do my time tracking and invoicing at one place. FreshBooks offers a 30-day trial period, but if you only have one client it’s free.

FreshBooks has many benefits for small business owners, but here are just a few:

  • Accounting made simple
  • Creating an invoice is quick and easy with no manual input needed
  • Invoicing can be sent via email to your clients and they can instantly pay via PayPal

Some features include:

  • Time Tracking: You set up your projects and tasks at your hourly rate. When you track time against those projects, you know you will be billing your clients accurately.
  • Reporting:  The Reports tab has several reports including invoice details, tax summary, timesheet details, etc…
  • Invoicing: This is quick and easy in conjunction with time tracking. You can email or snail mail the invoice to your client. FreshBooks is good for small businesses where you will be invoicing for your services, even if you don’t need to track your time.

Ready to work with a VA who can help improve your productivity? Email me at andrea@timesavingva.comto schedule a free consultation.

Are You Using MailChimp to Market Your Small Business?

Last month, I talked about 9 Tools Small Business Owners Love and MailChimp was on this list.

I recommend this email marketing software because it is a free service that can help you build your subscriber lists.

MailChimp helps build a list of leads and keeps small businesses in touch with potential and current clients. It is one of the most cost effective email software programs available. Other features include:

  • Subscriber profiles: Click on the subscribers name to see such information as name, email address, location, time zone and more. You can create groups and organize your subscribers.
  • Reporting:  The Reports tab will show you the click rate, open rate and see what campaigns are successful to your subscribers. A campaign is the email message that you designed and sent to your subscribers.
    • Open Rate:  On your report, you will see a percentage called open rate. This percentage rate shows how many successfully delivered campaigns subscribers opened.
    • Click Rate: Also on your report, you will see a percentage called click rate. This percentage rate represents how many successfully delivered campaigns was clicked on least once by a subscriber.
  • Templates: MailChimp offers predesigned and drag and drop layout templates for your campaigns. If you prefer to create your own custom layout template that is available as well in HTML.

Do you want a VA who works with MailChimp? Email me at andrea@timesavingva.com to schedule a free consultation.

Why Are You Not Using Google Analytics?

To expand on my blog from last month called 9 Tools Small Business Owners Love. I am going to give more details about Google Analytics.

When you sign up for the free version of Google Analytics (GA) and register your website’s url, GA provides you with valuable information about your website traffic. The reports available via GA show:

  • website statistics, regarding new and return visitors, along with how visitors got to your website.
  • visitors from all search engines, social networks, direct visits and referring sites.
  • how long these visitors were on your pages and where they are geographically located.

Once you review your report, you can tweak your marketing and your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) words to attract not only more visitors, but also to attract your ideal target market visitors to your website.

Google Analytics also offers a premium version for a fee.

Do you want a Virtual Assistant (VA) who works with Google Analytics? Email me at contact me to schedule a free consultation.

9 Tools Small Business Owners Love

As small business owners, we want to be efficient, cost effective and organized. Below are some tools that help achieve those goals:

  1. Google Analytics 

You can run reports on your website statistics, like new visitors, return visitor, how my visitor got there, including which keywords is important. From this information, you can tweak your marketing or your SEO words to attract more visitors, and more importantly, attract your target market. Another reason to love Google Analytics is that it is FREE!

  1. MailChimp

A recent study found that email marketing is one of the most effective marketing activities used by small businesses. It helps build a list of leads and keeps small businesses in touch with potential and current clients.  Using an email software program is the easiest and most productive way to implement this marketing strategy. In addition, MailChimp is one of the most cost effective email software programs available. This tool has a free option, and the upgrades to the paid version are very inexpensive, starting at only $10 per month.

  1. Freshbooks

When just starting your business, most business owners will try to do their own invoicing, which is anything but fun and definitely isn’t easy or productive. Use Freshbooks to save time and provide a professional invoice to clients. Freshbooks offers a FREE version of their program.

  1. Carbonite

Okay, not everything can be free. Even though Carbonite costs, the yearly fee is well worth it. This tool will automatically back up your files to the cloud.  If something happens to your computer, you can access your files from anywhere.  Carbonite will cost you about $60 annually.

  1. Jing

Jing is a tool that I just found out about; I was a Snag It user. I really like Jing I used it to explain one of the steps in my blog How To Add a Page to Your WordPress Site in 6 Easy Steps, when one of my co-mastermind participants had a question about a step. I did a video with audio in Jing to show her step by step, to answer her question and fix her website. The video is only 5 minutes but it was enough time for me. This tool is also FREE!

  1. Skype

Skype allows you to have video and voice calls with anyone else on Skype. Your free membership also allows you to instant message and file share with other Skype members. Therefore, even if you do not have a video camera you can still take advantage of Skype. As I mentioned, this is free.

  1. Hootsuite

If you are a person who is not interested in logging into each social media site to do your postings, then Hootsuite is for you. It lets you type the posting once and pick the social media outlets you would like to post to. Hootsuite tells you how many characters you are at with each social media outlet. Hootsuite has a message scheduling feature, so you can save time and schedule your posts for the future. Schedule it and forget it. This tool is FREE.

  1. Evernote

Evernote is my digital brain and I cannot live without it now. You can reference my blog from last month, 3 Key Benefits of Evernote to Small Business Owners, regarding the many benefits of Evernote. This is also a FREE tool.

  1. Dropbox

Upload your files to the cloud via Dropbox, instead of emailing them to your clients. The files will not be lost and will be accessible from anywhere and free up your space in your email. The basic features of Dropbox are FREE and include 2GB storage.

I hope that you will love these tools and use them as much as I do.

Do you want a VA who works with these tools? Email me at contact me to schedule a free consultation.

3 Key Benefits Of Evernote to Small Business Owners

Last month I went to a local networking meeting about Evernote. I had heard of Evernote from several Virtual Assistants and on forums, but I did not know much about it.  Boy, am I glad I went to the live presentation. Evernote has become my “digital brain.” I can add all those items that I have to remember or want to remember or want to reference later.  It’s out of my head, and it’s not on a sticky note or hardcopy paper somewhere that I might run across sometime later in my life.

So what is Evernote? It is a virtual notebook with notes, or like a filing cabinet with all your files.

Evernote has many benefits. I use my Evernote for:

  1. Free; when you are a new small business owner, you want to find great tools that are free or of little cost. This is one tool that everyone can benefit in using.
  2. URLs; ever bookmark a URL in your browser and then you never can find it when you need it? Or you saved it on your tablet and not on your laptop? Exactly why I use Evernote.
  3. Client files; I have a notebook for each client with all their information, which I can then search on.  Tags can be added to your notes to make your search results even easier.

On the personal side, I use Evernote to keep lists as well such as:

  • Shopping
  • Birthday
  • Bucket
  • Christmas
  • Wish

Want a VA who is organized? Contact me to schedule a free consultation.

 

How To Add a Page to Your WordPress Site in 6 Easy Steps

While in one of my virtual assistant mastermind meetings, a co-participant needed to add pages to her WordPress website. I provided her with a step-by-step guide with screenshots. I hope you find this downloadable guide beneficial to add pages to your site as well! If you’d prefer to turn this task over to an experienced virtual assistant, contact me today.