Become A Master of Change

Change seems to have been the one constant in my life – and in the middle of 2016 it is looking like that isn’t going to change any time soon. And there I was hoping that this year would be quiet!

Sometimes it is a colossal pain – it takes energy and perseverance that you sometimes just don’t feel like you have. Whether it be change at work, at home or on a national/ global economic scale it is something that everyone has to deal with.

But the one thing I have learnt is that change is the one area where attitude really does matter! I have learned to make change work for me, especially when it is a change I don’t want.

Change is a part of life, you can’t afford not to embrace it. If you don’t learn to manage it, it will swallow you up.

Below, I have listed some of the strategies I use, since long before I was conscious that I was developing a change management philosophy, to thrive on change.

Don’t React, Anticipate

Consider where things are going, anticipate what might happen. Worrying is counterproductive but anticipating the variables is just plain common sense. Keep your ears and eyes open. Be conscious of what is going on around you.

Prepare, Prepare And Then Prepare Some More

Be Informed. If you don’t know something, find it out! Read, read and read some more – in this age of instant access that we live in there is no excuse for being uninformed about anything. Make specific plans for upcoming changes so you feel more in control. Be active, not passive. Putting you head in the sand doesn’t achieve anything.

Accept The Inevitable

Don’t fight change that is inevitable. Embrace it and move forward. Be flexible. Be imaginative. Create! Don’t procrastinate. It is important to adapt and innovate as quickly as you can. Make lemonade out of lemons!

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Seek Out Support & Inspiration

There is no reason to feel isolated! Find someone who will listen. People can’t always give you the answers, but sometimes a problem shared really is a problem diminished. Look for someone or something that will encourage you, lift you up, inspire you, and spur you on. Read inspirational and motivational books and social media.

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Don’t Unpack and Live There

Don’t be too hard on yourself when you are feeling down or can’t adapt as quickly as you had hoped or others expect. We’re not perfect beings but our greatest strength is our capacity to adapt and learn, to grow from that which challenges us.

 

See The Opportunities

Keep telling yourself that you are stretching out of your too familiar comfort zone. It is inevitably uncomfortable but that is the nature of growth. Try to concentrate on the lessons and be positive about the new opportunities opening up to you. See both the danger and the opportunity, but focus on the latter.

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Practice Change

People instinctively avoid change, avoid moving away from their comfort zone. Make small changes occasionally to become more comfortable with it. Take a different route to work, take the bus, try a different restaurant, strike up a conversation with a random person, visit a museum, go do something you wouldn’t usually consider, try line dancing classes, sleep on the wrong side of the bed. Comfort zones are lovely, but exploring the unknown is our route to growth.

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And Finally … Hang Tough

There is one truism that I have learned to trust, this too shall pass! In a day, a week, a month … it is all just weather 🙂

Streamlining Your Back Office Support

You probably use dozens of business processes every day.

You may go through the same steps each time you generate a report, resolve a customer complaint, contact a new client, or manufacture a new product.

You’ve also probably come across the results of inefficient processes. Unhappy customers, stressed colleagues, missed deadlines and increased costs are just some of the problems that dysfunctional processes can create.

That’s why it’s so important to periodically re-examine and improve processes when they are not working well.

Do you know which tasks really eat up most of your time?  What makes you ‘busy’?  Have you ever really examined what you spend your time doing, analysed it hour for hour?

Great reasons to embrace a little process refinement:

  • What else could you be doing with the time that you save through increasing your efficiency?
  •  Increased efficiency will encourage better productivity – reduced effort and increased output leads to greater profit
  • How do you think this would effect client acquisition, client retention and your effectiveness against your competitors?

Just because a process that you have been using in your business once worked wonderfully, it doesn’t mean that you’ll never need to think about it again.  Processes can always be improved.

This is particularly true today, where cost effective technological advances are constant being developed and time-saving Apps and software are available to all small business owners. .

1.  Automate Your Work

Embrace technology!

It is a necessity in the world of business today in order to remain competitive, and fortunately for all of us it has never been easier or more cost effective. If there’s a monotonous but frequent task or process to be done, chances are, there’s a programme for that!

A wide-variety of automation tools are available to enhance your small business’s digital presence and marketing campaigns. These business automation tools can make your business reach a success by leveraging email, social media and web services.

2. Consider Your Communication Channels

Skype is a brilliant and much under-valued resource … not only allowing you to save time and money on travelling/ phone bills by facilitating face to face meetings at a distance, but potentially allowing you to consider the many benefits of remote working staff. The instant messaging tool can also be invaluable in facilitating the exchange of information quickly and efficiently without clogging inboxes.

This is why nearly 30 million people worldwide are using Skype, one of the best known online meeting tools around.

3. Embrace the Cloud

Chances are you’re already using the cloud but are you taking full advantage? On top of improved reliability and security of data, cloud based storage and computing offers anytime/anywhere access to files and data and reduces many of the issues that manual document processing can cause such as;

  • Version Control
  • Document Loss
  • Disaster Recovery
  • Distribution Bottlenecks.

There are many options for free and flexible cloud software available, and should the worst happen – fire, flood or a visit by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – your data will be safe in the Cloud.

4. Go ‘paper-light’

The concept of a ‘paperless office’ has been around for at least 35 years, since British-American information scientist, Frederick Wilfrid, first envisioned it in 1978 in his book ‘Towards Paperless Information Systems’.

The 1970’s prediction of the ‘The paperless office’ has still not fully materialised, with some reports suggesting the average business is actually increasing use of paper by 25%.

Signing documents is a primary reason businesses give for printing but e-signatures have been legal for a decade and apps like DocuSign allow you to upload, deliver and sign documents quickly whilst retaining audit trails. Old habits die hard, the challenge for many is to cut their dependency on legacy paper-based processes and deliver real business transformation.

6. Implement a Document Management System (DMS)

A lot of people think filing is a bore, and perhaps they are right! But, deciding to maximise the benefits of the cloud is not enough, you have to think about the system within whatever platform works best for your business.

The secret to great filing is having a system that allows you to spend the least amount of time using it, and the minimum amount of time finding things again when you need them. Creating a streamlined and intuitive system for paper and electronic files will help keep things organized in the future.

Juggling many documents can quickly become problematic. This is especially true for growing businesses. The larger a company gets, the more likely it is there will be more and more documents to organize. Organizational hierarchy is one of the most important features to take into consideration when choosing a document management system. Categorization, tagging, and rating will help you find the files you need as quickly as possible.

7. Map your processes

Do you think you have clearly defined processes? Are they being implemented consistently?

Mapping your processes can help to clarify and standardize what needs to be done, when, by whom and how. What you might think is a simple process may actually reveal complexities, bottlenecks, inconsistencies and inefficiencies for improvement. It also offers an effective ground up approach to identifying which technologies would best support your business.

Sometimes it can be difficult to take time out when you are busy to focus on streamlining for long term efficiencies and productivity, but in this case a little short term pain is definitely worth the long term gain.

And, if the areas above are not where your talents lie (and believe me, for most entrepreneurs is isn’t) you should consider using a talented virtual assistant who eats efficiencies and business processes for breakfast!

A pair of fresh eyes with the experience and skill to help you do what you do best by delegating the rest!

Word of the Week – Hustle

So, I had a minor moment of panic last night – the realisation that the end of my current contract is not too far away.

Arggh! Probably in no small part due to the horrible last few days of campaigning and DISASTROUS result of Brexit 😦

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Fortunately life has thrown me many opportunities to develop my skills here – I am not one to panic for any longer than it takes me to think through the following sequence of questions:

‘Am I great at what I do?’

‘What happens when a window closes?’

‘Do things always work out?’

‘How much do I love to HUSTLE?’

Double whammy – thirty second panic worked through and a word of the week to boot 🙂

The Hustle Daily

I’m not at all sure that ‘In the newspaper business, journalists put in time and effort to create meaningful content to keep the public informed’ is how I would sum up situation of late – ‘Otherwise, all we’ll end up with are inflammatory headlines and ignorant opinions.’ rather seems like the situation we are in now 🙂 Interesting read though and definitely a web find for the Favs!

Yesterday, the Pew Research Centre released their annual “State of the News Media” report. You can probably guess the major trends– newspapers are dying, millennials read stuff on their phones, and well-established companies are trying to stay hip by, you know, coming out with chatbots and changing their name to “tronc”.

Ford’s 2016 Mustang GT ‘Hustle’ is irresistible

So I am sat here with my husband and son watching ‘Transformers Age of Extinction’ and this came up on my search … apparently I am a horrible luddite for thinking BumbleBee might be a Mustang! Not usually a fan of muscle cars bit I think I will make an exception for this one. Very Cool!

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‘Hustle’ Mortgage Fraud Case Falls Into Crevice of the Law

For the average person it is difficult to see how you could FAIL to find fraud in practices that led to so much pain for so many, and so very rarely the right ones! To learn from mistakes they first have to be admitted, and this really doesn’t give much faith that there is a reason to change anything.

When the story of the lack of prosecutions from the financial crisis is finally written, the most important issue will be how difficult it turned out to be to prove fraud. The courts have held the government to a high standard, refusing to uphold cases in which the conduct came close to the line but never quite crossed over into a violation.

Murray’s Hustle

Last week Djokovic, this week MURRAY 🙂 What a shot. It gives a girl hope for Wimbledon – not long now!

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Movie Night Anyone?

I know it annoys many people but I find Climate Change deniers hilarious, I just find it so difficult to understand the way a brain has to function to completely ignore significant and irrefutable FACTS to come to its own contrary, false and barely sane conclusions.

Climate change is the new evolution and holocaust denial, and certainly speaks more to the mind of the ‘believer’ than it does to the theory they are trying to tear down. And, if you see that Sarah Palin or Donald Trump are supporting something, well …. !

There are many contradictions in life – just because your faith/ biases tell you that you would like something not to be true, doesn’t make it so people 😉

On Monday night I took in a new film called Climate Hustle. The title is meant to reflect its central premise: climate change is a scientific con. But I soon realized that it was also a decent synonym for the film’s Gish Gallop style. Climate hustle (n): a fast-paced, uninterrupted delivery of superficial and false claims about climate science.

Britains 20 most desirable places to live

“Young professionals tend to have a professional or university qualification, are in well paid jobs and enjoy an urban lifestyle without the hustle and bustle of living in the city centre.

This list was destined to make me mad before the cursor ever got anywhere near the link … it isn’t a list of the most desirable places in the UK to live, it is a list of the most EXPENSIVE places to live.

Reading? Really? Many people don’t believe it but there is life outside of London and the M4 corridor. And Clifton? I grew up in Clifton, if I went a week without seeing a flasher pop out from some leafy beauty spot on my daily walk to school I counted myself as fortunate.

 …

You will hear a lot of people lamenting the fact that they feel stuck in neutral! Many have great aspirations, but that’s all they have. Aspirations. Many don’t have any results to show for all their ambitious goals in life. Some are on year seven of a four-year degree, and others are stuck in a job that’s going nowhere.

Maybe you know someone like this. Hell, maybe you feel like this.

Unfulfilled goals, of course, can lead to frustration, depression and a general dampening of your spirit, which only makes it harder to get unstuck.

I’ve been there, it’s rubbish but it doesn’t have to define your story … it wasn’t where this word of the week was meant to lead but I am just off to write a blog on getting out of a rut!

 

 

 

Not a Fan of Email? Have A Rethink!

By design, my inbox is the essential central hub of my workflow. It’s the way I routinely organise my time, prioritise tasks, remind myself of things I need to do and communicate with everyone.

I know some people rail against it … ‘It’s so impersonal – what is wrong with picking up the phone?’ I hear many cry!

Don’t get me wrong, I love talking to people on the phone and do it at every opportunity. But there is a downside.

I have a busy role, and many of the people I work with are similarly challenged by too many deadlines. The phone ringing is often an interruption to the flow, a quick email to ask the question/request a quick call back at a convenient moment can often be less intrusive.

I have often phoned someone only to realise the minute they utter a stressed ‘Hello!!!!’ that I should have sent them an email … don’t be the kind of person who elicits a groan when your number flashes up on the phone display 🙂

That’s not to say I’ve always been a fan of email, or that I don’t have moments where I am tearing my hair out with two coming in for every one that I deal with.

However, over the years I’ve developed several practical ways to manage my inbox effectively and, most importantly, to ensure it’s not managing me.

Try To Establish A Routine

I often struggle with routines – my role demands that I am flexible in the face of a constantly changing landscape so if I were obsessed with doing certain things at the same time every day I really would be setting myself up for a fall.

However there are a few things that I am religious about and one of them is my first activity of the day … a calm re-assessment of my inbox before the day takes over. And, at the end of the day, another quick scan and a read, respond to any of the quick wins, red flag the ones I REALLY need to deal with tomorrow, delete/ file any that have been dealt with/ are no longer relevant.

Turns out, my inbox is very manageable when I stick to this schedule. However, it really doesn’t take long for it to get out of control. Have you ever watched I love Lucy? Always great for a giggle and the following video perfectly sums up my email account to me – constant and consistent is the key to avoiding a compounding mayhem 🙂

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If You Want To Receive Less Email, Send Less Email

As ridiculously simple as it sounds for such a pervasive problem, I’ve found this to be the golden rule of email management:

Send less of it!

We all know people at work who send huge amounts of email, and in contrast, those who send a very few one liners.

I used to work with one of the former, and at the time it seemed absolutely normal. It wasn’t until after they left that I realized my inbox traffic had reduced hugely. Turns out it wasn’t just their emails that were generating all of that inbox activity it was my responses to their emails, the responses of the people who were added to those threads, the responses of the people those people subsequently copied, and so on.

After recognizing this dynamic, I decided to conduct an experiment where I wouldn’t write an email unless absolutely necessary. It worked a charm – materially fewer emails and a far more navigable inbox.

I’ve tried to stick to the same rule ever since. It is a simple exercise but you will be impressed with the impact – give it a try!

Use Flags/ Categories

Two much underused features, but ones I honestly couldn’t live without.

When you have an email Inbox that groans under the weight of traffic it is essential to work out a system that makes your prioritisation an ‘at a glance’ task.

Having the ability to mark my emails up in a very visual way  enables me to quickly glance through my inbox, respond to things that are most time pressing, red flag the things I need to look at next, delete the things that are irrelevant, and categorise those items I’d like to return to once I have the time.

CaptureThis alleviates the pressure of feeling I have to do everything right now for fear if that one important email falls “below the fold” of my screen, it will be lost forever under the looming avalanche of prospective incoming messages. It also essentially serves as a to-do list of items to be addressed later.

I try to end each day with as few items marked with a red flag as possible, with the goal of having none. If I’m unable to get to everything that night, I’ll start the next morning by addressing the remainder.

And as for the categories … a great visual tool for allowing you to scan/ sort  your emails quickly and efficiently. My favourite, absolutely couldn’t live without, email tool.

Give Some Thought To: The Recipients

It seems that for many people, the To: and Cc: fields have become one and the same thing. They are not.

You should use them to draw a clear distinction between:

  1. Who the email is being sent To: and from whom you expect a response
  2. Who goes into Cc: purely for their information

Many people in the To: line will oftentimes have the unintended consequence of generating six different email responses (and up to six different new threads) when one person’s response is all you needed – especially relevant to the next point …

Reply ALL

In contrast to my firm advocacy of categories, ‘Reply All’ is the bane of my life … please don’t use it!

All the ‘done’, ‘fabulous’, ‘perhaps you could just change this tiny little bit’ and ‘thank you’ emails from people just means I have a huge amount of emails that have absolutely nothing to do with me to delete.

If you are going to reply to an email, PLEASE just reply to those who NEED to see it.

Filing And Rules

CaptureI know – boring, boring and double boring!

But you know what, if you want to be productive and maximise your time being able to simply click and drag dealt with emails to a tailored and intuitive filing system will not only save you immeasurable time in searching through a disastrously unweeded inbox but mean that you can find ANYTHING in double quick time. It might be boring but you can’t deny that it makes sense.

Keep It Simple – a folder for any subject that you will receive significant numbers of emails for and group them in a logical way.

Keep It Frequent – dealt with an email? FILE IT!

Keep It Only If Necessary – Will you ever need to read that email again? No? Delete it!

And as for ‘Rules’? I know, YAWN 😉

Do you, like me, have a never ending stream of interesting but not in the slightest bit pressing subscription emails – Amazon, BlogSpot, Executive Grapevine, Monster, LinkedIn … I could go on but I won’t!

All great emails that I wouldn’t want to unsubscribe from but irritating when they clog up my inbox, so I set up dedicated folders and set up automatic rules. There when I want to read the – Seen but not heard as it were!

Be Precise With Your Words

Do you remember playing Chinese whispers in school? How “Do you want to play marbles at lunchtime?” ended up as “I want to eat Weebles and punch vines”. While this was laugh out loud funny at school, in the grown up world it is anything but.

Words matter!

Choose them carefully in email to avoid ambiguity and misinterpretation. The more precise you are upfront, the less likely you’ll see subsequent emails generating confusion and asking follow up questions seeking additional clarity — and the more you and your team will be able to focus on the work at hand.

And if you are finding the idea too complicated to get over clearly, this is a clear sign that you should think about a face to face meeting!

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Send Yourself Emails

I am always doing this!

I have a brain that largely refuses to turn off – walking the dog, driving home from work, reading my daughter a bedtime story or pinching out the tomato plants it will make random connections and suddenly I will have an ‘Oh I forgot to do that!’, ‘Ohhhh that would be a brilliant way to solve that problem’ or ‘I really must have a chat with so and so’ moment.

If you are anything like me you will have had one of those moments of inspiration just as you are dropping of to sleep at night only to wake up in the morning and remember the ‘Oh my, I’m a genius and I will definitely write that blog idea down in the morning’ eureka moment only to have completely forgotten the idea that prompted it!

Very frustrating – a quick email to yourself to ensure you don’t forget is a brilliant, quick and effective way to ensure you never forget anything!

Take The Combustible Stuff Offline

Email can be a valuable productivity tool when used properly. It can also be equally destructive when it’s not. If you find yourself in the throes of what is clearly becoming an antagonistic discussion online, do yourself a favour: STOP.

There is one particular person who springs to mind for me here, and I am almost 100% sure that everyone reading this will have come across such a person in their professional lives.

An absolute master of composing abrupt, patronising, bossy and thoroughly unpleasant to receive emails. I have to admit to being human and oftentimes being incredibly tempted to reply in kind! Sometimes sitting at my desk composing and deleting several responses until I have got it out of my system – and this is fine, AS LONG AS YOU NEVER HIT THE SEND BUTTON!

Either pick up the phone, go and see them to have the discussion in person or if there really is no response required ‘take a  breath, delete and forget’ is one of my favourite tactics.

And The One Everyone Forgets …

Got something concentration intensive and time sensitive to complete?

CLOSE YOUR EMAIL ACCOUNT DOWN COMPLETELY

We all live in a world of constant connectivity, and whilst that offers us the most amazing range of advantages it can also be a pervasive destroyer of our ability to focus and concentrate.

The world won’t come apart at the seams if you turn your email off for an hour a day, there is always the phone for real emergencies, but you would be amazed at the effect an hour of not being interrupted by email notifications will have on your output and focus.

These are some of the most valuable inbox practices I’ve learned and used over the years. Everyone will have their own preferences that most suit the way they work but email is certainly a tool that can help immeasurably with effective productivity.

Anytime I veer too far from my these well worn habits, I inevitably find myself running faster and faster to simply stand still. The secret is to consistently pay attention to your own pain points and find ways that work for you to streamline your practices and productivity.

And to ALWAYS remember, just because you have been doing something a certain way for a long time really doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t re-examine if it is still working for you.

Never Forget That

GENUINE CURIOSITY

Illuminates

ASSUMPTIONS 

& Challenges

 BLIND BIASES

Word of the Week – Wherewithal

I realised I have so busy with the other blogs I have rather neglected my ‘Word of the Week’, so I thought I would go with a really good one this week to make up for it!

The OED definition is ‘The money or other means needed for a particular purpose’. I am less interested in the money part – it seems that for many this is a resource becoming ever less important, with the ‘other means’ being the real road to where you want to be and the makings of the great stories that inspire others.

It seems like a particularly apt word for someone interested in small business productivity and motivation – it seems to so nicely embody so much of the spirit and passion.

So here is where this particularly lovely sounding word led me on my internet wander this evening …

You Say You Want a Revolution

If you want to look for wherewithal anywhere at the moment you don’t have to look any further than the underdog in the US Presidential election race.

Bernie has captured the hearts and minds of people in numbers that were never expected. Rather like Jeremy Corbyn here, perhaps it is time for those with a more traditional stronghold on political power to stop mocking and start trying to understand why the words and persona’s of these two men have such appeal to so many!

There is indeed a strategic path to the kind of win that animates millions of progressives, a win not just to preserve the gains they have made for equal rights and justice, but real change for economic equality and opportunity, for the climate, for the positive role of government, for unions. That’s what a political revolution would yield.

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In music and in life, Gord Downie has The Wherewithal

I have to admit to having never heard of Gord, but I am glad I have now. And a great tune too!

“The Wherewithal” is a song by The Tragically Hip. My personal connection to it is the Gord Downie lyric, “I always loved that guy and he’s not on TV anymore. To get out before, he had the wherewithal.”

It was always a self-styled anthem of mine. I adopted those words, and invented a streak of defiance. A puny hope that I’d somehow never be slave to the trappings of my profession. Never “Cornered” by anyone.

The Delivery Man Always Rings Twice, If You’re Lucky

It seems to be quite rare lately to be able to read a newspaper without being depressed by a seemingly never ending stream of violence, hate speak and lies shouted from the offices of those we should be able to trust the most … this article however was a pleasure to read, there should definitely be more of the lighthearted!

But real shopping has one enormous advantage. It is temporary respite from a brand-new nightmare that, if it were a reality show, would be called “Home Delivery Hell”.Either you are waiting for the precision timing favoured by some couriers (“your item will be with you between 11.12 and 11.16”) or cut loose by the laissez faire attitude of others (“Tuesday”).

Modern Art Ludite? Perhaps!

I am sure she is absolutely brilliant but £1,400? Here is some more of her work though just in case you absolutely love it 😉

Wherewithal

Wherewithal Press, inc

Now here is an interesting find, for book lovers and any aspiring writers! The blog page has got some interesting looking reads on …. definitely one for the favourites bar.

Wherewithal Press, Inc. is a developmental editing shop and communications firm based in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Founded by writer and editor Megan Hustad in 2005, we help individuals and organizations present themselves more memorably, precisely, and productively.

Perhaps they will think about my book when it is a bit further along, I wouldn’t mind a trip to Manhattan 🙂 Something to aim for and dream about at the very least!

The rules of tennis simply do not apply

Ahhhh, now here is an article to warm the cockles of any fellow tennis loving Djokovic fans. As a Brit I do of course support our own Andy, but my heart lies with Novac 😉

Djokovic is already one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, and he is bang in the middle of his prime, with no rivals and the wherewithal to complete one of the most difficult feats in tennis with ease

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Score Assured

There is something so very, very wrong about this! So many reasons we should all be a lot more careful about what we do online.

You might wonder if Score Assured feels slightly tawdry delving into your personals. Might it not feel like being a burglar going through someone’s underwear drawer? Might it also be against Facebook’s terms of service?

It takes a village to make me look dope

And one should always end on a positive note – this could be a giggle!

Mocking the moronic mores of bratty boy bands is shooting fish in a barrel. The Lonely Island has the wherewithal to bring other means of destruction into the mix.

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Finding Your Tribe On Social Media

I have been a bit remiss about doing any blogs on social media so far, and I think it is because there is simply so much to say it is impossible to know where to start!

I love social media – the impact it can have for small businesses, the way it can set the really great businesses apart from the crowd and the really great people from all over the world you can meet without having to find your passport and spend lots of money.

But having just been doing some Twitter management the decision on where to start with this huge subject has been made for me by a very, very common problem that frankly drives me up the wall!

Social Media is about having conversations – real conversations with real people.

Too many people see it as a numbers game, but you definitely loose out by seeing it this way.

Followers are important whatever platform you are on, but please don’t be the kind of person who follows others and then unfollows them as soon as you have the +1 you want – it is soooooo infuriating.

(and a quick FYI … if someone who has huge numbers of followers, is not following many and is not a celeb or influencer follows you be a little wary 🙂 )

The fact is that when it comes to social media, it’s not the numbers but the meaning behind them that counts. If social media is about building relationships, then it’s the authenticity of those relationships that will truly determine their ROI.

1. Be Real. Use social media to promote the exchange of real ideas, and participate in the conversation in an authentic way. As Seth Godin once said, networking is always important when it’s real, and it’s always a useless distraction when it’s fake.

2. Find Your Niche. Sure, having a million followers is great. But what percentage of that group really represents your target customer? It’s your core audience that is most worth engaging via social media – and they respect authentiticity and want to see the real you!

3. Create Brand Ambassadors. Once you’ve found your niche, develop it! The reality is, you don’t need to convince everyone about your brand; rather, you need to find a few people who are likely to convince others for you. To get them to do this, make sure you’re worth talking about! Take an “under-promise and over-deliver” approach to your offering, and to the service around your offering. Go out of your way to make your customers happy.

Social media has quickly become the face of your business to your consumers, so it’s important for companies to think of it like customer service on steroids. Take the opportunity to show everyone what it’s like to interact and do business with you. Don’t worry about the numbers—worry about making your numbers count!

And if someone unfollows you the minute you follow them back … consider if that is the kind of business you would consider being/ following/ using/ recommending in the future.

I know I wouldn’t and it isn’t a way I would ever dream of treating my own clients.

6 Signs That You Really Need A VA

I see the same situation over and over, variations on the same theme across businesses and entrepreneurs alike. The pivotal moment when a small business owner or busy executive will need to consider finding help.

It can be a tug of war moment for someone who is passionate about what they do and is used to being in complete control!

They’ve worked long hours building up their business, spending considerable time carrying out all of the business related tasks on their own – now all of that hard work is paying off and the business is thriving.

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Great, right? However, it is precisely at this point that some important and impactful decisions need to be made if that success is to be sustainable and long lived.

It is precisely at this moment that you will find yourself wearing far too many ‘hats’. Struggling to cope, deadlines being missed and even the most simple admin tasks becoming difficult to manage.

In short, you can quickly find yourself at breaking point – and the burden of essential business administration will only continue to increase in line with your success.

This is the moment to consider working with a Virtual Assistant to get your life and your business back on track.

Having seen this situation so many times, there are several signs to look out for that can indicate that you might be at the point where a Virtual Assistant would be invaluable in helping you scale up to the next stage of growth & prosperity.

After you do this, will you still be busy? Yes, but it’ll be the right kind of busy. It is important to be anticipatory and strategic in all areas of your business. This is what allows you to be busy based on opportunities, not based on the latest crisis you need to address.

It is then that the busy pace of life will feel worth it, and your personal and professional life will have the room to prosper.

1

Missing Business Opportunities

Now here’s the catch-22: The problem with identifying emerging opportunities is that we’re too busy to do so. We know we should be anticipating future opportunities as well as disruptions, but we don’t have time for it because of all that needs dealing with today.

This can happen for a number of reasons. Are you out at meetings and missing calls and messages? Or perhaps you are simply too busy to respond to messages in time and the work is going to your competitors? Whatever the reason, having a Virtual Assistant can help you manage your calls and emails in a timely fashion to stop any unnecessary leakage – first impressions count!

2

You Have To Turn Down Work

One of the reasons I love the research for blogging is that you often come across things that surprise you, and in a wee internet wander for this section I have discovered many articles about why everyone should consider the benefits of strategically turning down more work. I’m officially intrigued and am sure  another blog will be forthcoming …

However for the purposes of this section I am talking about HAVING to turn down work because you simply can’t fit it in … despite wanting to have the income, develop a new client, gain the wider exposure/ increased word of mouth, have another testimonial for your website etc, etc,etc.

All because you’re struggling to keep on top of tasks that are unprofitable, when really you should be accepting the more profitable work that fits with your skills and passion. There simply are not enough hours in the day!

3

You’re Letting The Day To Day Stack Up

Maybe it’s all the admin – forms that need filling in, emails that need responding to, reports to be completed, invoices to be sent, invoices to be chased, customer feedback to review, months of receipts to be sorted – that keeps piling up on your to-do list as you slowly feel like you’re sinking under the weight of it all.

When we get behind with something, we can fall into the trap of spending too long thinking about it and feeling overwhelmed and despondent. It drains our energy and takes our focus away from where it should be – growing your business.

Let’s be honest – the work that ends up in a backlog is normally that which just doesn’t excite us. It’s not the reason we got into business but it needs doing all the same.

Then when they really need to take a break, you find yourself in the office on a Saturday morning, or at 2am! Perhaps your family are having a day out or sleeping … and you’re still working. When was your last full day off?

4

Your Email Is Getting Out Of Control

You may even have more than one email account and it’s becoming a struggle. As soon as you send out an email, another 8 come in and you start to get frustrated, as you can’t get to ‘inbox zero’.

Personally I think ‘Inbox Zero’ is one of those unattainable goals that just makes us feel bad, life just doesn’t work like that! But there is a way to use email that can help and enhance the organisation of your business life with the minimum of effort. If you don’t even have time to keep your inbox under control it is a very good indication that you could be missing opportunities for business and, more importantly, for long term growth.

5

You Want To Start New Projects But Don’t Have The Time

Does this sound familiar …

… You have an understanding that a business doesn’t remain prosperous for long in a vacuum

… You have lots of ideas for how you want to develop the business you are so passionate about.

… You’re just not sure if you will cope with additional commitments on top of your existing schedule which is already bursting at the seams.

New projects can become much more manageable with a Virtual Assistant on hand to take care of the general running of your business, as well as being able to help you with the project itself. You can ensure you have enough freed up time and additional support to plan any new projects as well as maintain ongoing concentration on your business.

6

Business Plan, What Business Plan?

You’re starting to lose sight of the direction your business was going in and your aims for the year. You’re so involved in admin, that you’ve lost sight of your original mission.

After all, you may wonder what’s the value of taking the time to strategically look at the future when everything is going to change anyway—when the world is filled with increasing uncertainties? On the surface, that seems like a valid point. But there’s actually more than enough you can be certain about that allows you to both innovate and move forward faster in a low-risk way.

Busy! Busy! Busy!

Too many people think busy is productive, busy means you are doing lots and busy means you are doing well.

Unfortunately, it is possible to busy yourself out of business, out of relationships, and even out of life. There are countless examples of companies whose people were extremely busy but didn’t survive.

Don’t just think busy, think SMART busy

Remember, you can only juggle so many things.

Chances are you do many things “blindly” because you’ve always done it that way. But even though it’s something you’ve always juggled, today you have new and more important things that need your attention.

Perhaps you can devote less time to certain things or completely remove them from your plate.

We’re all creatures of habit, and in today’s transformational times, it’s time you developed some new habits—some new and better ways of doing things that are more relevant for your current reality.

Delegate&Grow