Bee Smart In Your Busy!

Last night, whilst doing a bit of social media wandering  it occurred to me what I was doing was rather like a bee … buzzing between platforms whilst all the time finding and transferring posts, ‘cross pollinating’.

And so a Virtual Assistant related blog idea was born … There is much to be learnt from bees on the art of being smart with your busy.

On the art of being smart with your business!

1. Honey bees are super-important pollinators for flowers, fruits and vegetables. Bees transfer pollen allowing plants to grow seeds and fruit.

They are absolutely essential in helping other plants grow.

Many SmallBiz and Start-up Entrepreneurs see a Virtual Assistant as an ‘expense’, something to afford at a time when they are trying to put any and all cash into building on their success.

Whilst I completely understand this (strategically balancing incomings and outgoings is something I wrangle with frequently) saving money in this area eventually risks doing more harm than good.

The economy seems to be rather missing the point – any VA worth their salt will throw their all into helping you grow, pouring all of their small biz expertise into maximising the return on your investment.

Essentially … your success is my success, and vice versa!

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2. They produce honey as food stores for the hive during winter. Luckily for us, these efficient little workers produce 2-3 time more honey than they need!

A Virtual Assistant is a small business professional too – they have experience and knowledge of many businesses which means they have a WEALTH of experience that you can benefit from.

VA Support can be about simple admin support if that is what you need, but if you find the right Virtual Assistant it can mean so much more for the growth of both you and your business.

I recently had a client who asked me to make some tweaks to his website, which I was more than happy to do as I love playing with WordPress.

Pretty standard stuff really – doing some resizing, setting up an automatic email/download for an ebook etc. The fiddly technical bits he couldn’t quite get right himself.

But whilst I was there I noticed some things that really weren’t great – there was no services page, the testimonials carousel only had one unattributed testimonial on it, the copy was a little verbose and confusing, the menu in a really strange order and some of the visuals were really bad quality.

All stuff that wouldn’t take me long at all to do but that would make the world of difference to his conversions. Some times it just takes fresh eyes!

The administration skills are the honey that you are looking for but there is so much more if you keep your mind open to the possibilities.

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3. The bee’s brain is oval in shape and only about the size of a sesame seed, yet it has remarkable capacity to learn and remember things. It is able to make complex calculations on distance travelled and foraging efficiency. 

As a professional Executive Assistant I have worked in the most amazing companies and even in Whitehall, and in all of those jobs I have worked alongside some of the smartest and driven people – the Brain Trust!

You really should never underestimate the knowledge, skills and resourcefulness of a professional assistant.

Your business might be new territory but having had a career of thinking on our feet, dealing with problems on the fly and learning new things at the drop of a hat there is no professional more ready to take on the challenge with gusto and style.

Skilled administrators are the people who keep the world of business turning, and any CEO worth their leadership salt will tell you the same.

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4. Honey bees communicate with one another by dancing. More on their awesome sense of time, communication of distance and direction in “The Awesome Honeybee Dance“. 

One thing I have learnt throughout my career is that a great assistant/ boss relationship is rather like a dance.

When I am working with someone I spend time getting to know the way that they work and their drivers. When you understand those two things you can create a truly effective working relationship like no other.

It is one of the things that I love most about my job, when you know the person you are supporting so well that ‘Already done’ trips off of your tongue several times a day.

Words can be overrated, and sometimes quite unnecessary!

5. Honey bees are fab flyers. They fly at a speed of around 25km per hour and beat their wings 200 times per second!

It has long popular wisdom that  Bumble Bees shouldn’t fly, but we have learned since that they actually just manage it by doing it DIFFERENTLY.

Hiring a Virtual Assistant might not be the first solution that pops into your mind when you start thinking about needing help … Won’t it be too difficult working remotely? How will I know they are doing any work? Isn’t it going to cost too much?  &c &c &c

Don’t discount something just because it is new and different.

The range of Virtual Assistants out there and their services vary hugely. Just as with any new hire for your business you need to work out what exactly you are looking for and then find the person who is going to fit into your life with most ease and effectiveness.

A great VA (and I know I am biased but you should definitely consider me to be one 🙂 ) will bring more professionalism, skills, cost effectiveness and flexibility to grow with your business than you can possibly imagine!

Are you interested in looking at how a VA could make a difference to you and your business but are concerned about taking the commitment?

That is why Our Other Office offers a free trial so you can see what you think with no obligation – visit http://www.ourotheroffice.co.uk.

Don’t Just Consider It, Get It Done

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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.

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Do What You Do Best, Delegate The Rest

Behind every great CEO, director or leader is a great personal assistant. Though often working in the shadows, personal assistants are at the heart of most successful companies, making sure that everything runs smoothly, appointments are kept and decisions are made.

Whilst PAs or secretaries traditionally held passive role in companies in the era of the typing pool, advanced the fast paced and changing nature of the business world now means that senior executives need more intelligent, dynamic and evolving help with similar skills to the ones that shapes them and their day to day roles. A trusted and invaluable business partner if you will.

That’s why, at Our Other Office, I like to get to know clients so that I can tailor our support to your specific needs as well as anticipate how they will changes in the weeks, months and years to come.

I like to think of myself as your highly trained and broadly skilled business/ life manager who can take care of your  task list and make sure everything gets done quickly, efficiently and cost effectively.

From complicated diary/ email management, planning and booking travel itineraries, researching restaurants, devising streamlined office and filing systems, bookkeeping, designing presentations, researching and posting your social media content, business development and researching potential new clients, writing your blogs – the list goes on, and on, and on ….

Just think of all of those time consuming task you could be crossing of the list!

The more you communicate and trust your VA, the more responsibility you’ll find you can delegate, saving yourself time and stress.

This is not a hobby for me – I am a very experienced Executive Assistant who has a graduate level education, has worked for the CEO’s and CFO’s of listed companies, has senior experience that ensures I learnt all I know about business strategy from the best, has experience as a ‘jack of all trades’ office manager for very small businesses and has a very real passion for all things ‘entrepreneurial’.

I can help you and your teams maximise your potential, offering advice where needed and most importantly, making a real impact on relieving your pain points so you can focus your energies where it REALLY COUNTS.

The role can be as wide and varied as you like.

What’s more I am only there when you need, working as and when needed to meet your specific needs.

This saves you a fortune – not only is my employed cost in excess of £30k pa plus benefits but you also save on office space, IT equipment and support, payroll support, scheduled breaks etc, etc, etc.

Some people think that perhaps the cost is more than a temp – well as someone who has hired and supervised temps I can assure you that the quality of the person who is sent to you can be of ‘variable’ quality. And then there are the agency fees to consider!

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I work quickly, I work accurately with an unflinching eye for detail, I build strong and functional working relationships with both staff and clients, I am always professional, if I don’t know something I will simply find it out, I NEVER flap and I always go the extra mile. And to top it all off, I have outstanding references!

Too good to be true?

There is only one way to find out!

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I offer all of my  clients a free trial period so that you can experience make that judgement yourself, and thereafter have an guarantee of quality in place – such is my confidence in the service and output of Our Other Office.

Where do you sign up?

It just takes one quick email and we can take if from there to ensure you are doing what you do best and delegating the rest

julie@ourotheroffice.co.uk.

I’m Wearing The Hat, Where’s The Party

Most entrepreneurs and business owners are adept at wearing a number of hats, it’s all part of the job description.

BUT … two big hurdles holding today’s entrepreneurs back are a lack of time and too much misdirected focus and unnecessarily wasted energy.

Having to do everything yourself in the early days prepares you for the later days of growth and delegation – rather like the right of passage of having an old banger for your first car. How else do you learn about chokes and where to put the oil – or perhaps I am just showing my age!

Innovative entrepreneurship requires management skills, and more importantly the ability to manage change. This encompasses many skills that are critical including the ability to raise/ manage money, be productive, to effectively deal with stress, to identify strengths and weaknesses, to close sales and meaningfully connect with people to name just a few.

How much time do all of those important and business building activities take?

How much time do you spend deciding which hat to put on next?

Instead of focussing on the part of the business that you feel passionate about, you can very easily end up spending the majority of your time taking care of the necessary but mundane business related tasks. The message here is:

Just Because You CAN Do Something, It Really Doesn’t Mean You SHOULD!

A great, professional and skilled VA is your business administrator on call. And not just ANY administrator – a ninja, force multiplying, business knowledge devouring encyclopaedia. One that can help you simplify your business related activities and become more productive in what you are passionate about.

Just some of the essential hats you can seek help to take off are:

 The E-Mail Hat

Besides the obvious filtering of spam mail, your VA can keep your contact lists and subscriptions up to date, respond to business related e-mails and bring to your attention only those that really do require your time.

Perhaps you generate business with email campaigns or ensure you keep up your client engagement with sending regular newsletters – a great VA will be able to help you compile, send and manage the responses from them too!

The Blogging Hat

The possibilities here are expansive – Your VA can help you design your blog site, use plug-ins to build SEO and take care of any comments. A well crafted weekly blog alone can take up a considerable amount of your time, for a VA with serious research and writing skills this is an easy and enjoyable task that can have a significant impact on your business. They can create and post for you, or they can be in charge of researching, editing and posting if you still want to be the creator of the content.

 The Accountant Hat

Sage and QuickBooks now have cloud services that will allow you to share financial information securely with your VA. They can then take care of your bookkeeping needs online.

You are spending hours every month managing accounts that can be handled by a VA to help you manage your income and expenses, track client billing and make sure that yours are being paid on time.

The Social Media Hat

Have you thought about giving a VA access to your business related Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. You can also have them use LinkedIn to build your professional network. Successful social media sourcing is essential for small businesses but can be time consuming. A VA can seek out new connections, build engagement by posting on your behalf and responding to comments. This is invaluable for building loyalty with your current clients and developing those that aren’t yet!

The Appointment Keeping Hat

Set up a free online calendar and share it with your virtual assistant. Many entrepreneurs use free services such as Google Calendar. Not only is keeping up with your calendar time consuming, it can cost you clients if you focus enough of your time onto it.

Using a joint calendar, your VA can ensure that you are never late for an appointment or miss an important deadline by sending you text and e-mail alerts. They can also set appointments for you and watch out for any conflicts.

The Research Hat

Assign consuming  online researching to your VA. Depending on your topic, research done right can take considerable time to accomplish if this is not a task you are experienced and skilled at.

Whether you are looking for statistics on consumers or trying to create an e-book, a VA can be invaluable when it comes to combing the internet or any other source to find the information you need.

Become a Boss

True leadership comes from learning how to delegate the important tasks while you focus on your business growth.

You don’t make (or save) money by trying to wear all the business hats yourself.

Instead, you become over-burdened and burnt out, causing you to lose sight of your original passion, and its potential to earn you money.

Become a boss to a virtual assistant, and your business will begin to run as you dreamt it would when you took the leap of faith.

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Why Use a VA For Your Business?

Time is the biggest luxury. We’re chained to our phones and laptops, working longer hours and subjecting ourselves to more and more stress as we try to turn ideas into reality.

It’s all part of owning a company and when you see results it’s worth it, but when you find yourself wading through heaps of filing and book keeping and client contact records with very little progress, it’s frustrating.

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It starts to feel like a nightmare where you’re trapped into a corner by a thick, impenetrable wall of administration. And it’s not surprising you feel that way. In a recent survey it was discovered that on average CEOs are spending 20 precious hours per week lost in the vortex of an overflowing inbox. That’s the equivalent of 16 full working weeks a year!

It’s wasted time, especially when administration has very little impact, if any, on the immediate growth of a company.

So perhaps the question should be …

“Why would you NOT use a Personal Virtual Assistant for your business?”