Know someone who wants to be a Virtual Assistant? I’m looking for 2 apprentices to do some hands on training/work for two of my sites and I’ll teach them the biz. Please help me spread the word!
Here’s the deal…
I have two sites that could be wildly successful. This site is one of them!
I know who to do it for, what to do, how to do it, why to do it, when is now.
What’s missing is time to do it. My clients actually expect me to work when they pay me (go figure!). My VA Business brings in my living expenses but building these two sites is a mid-term income strategy. So to make them happen I need help. And I’ll give as good as I get, I promise!
Here’s what I offer:
Get hands on training in every aspect of Virtual Assisting so you have the big picture. From there you can choose a niche if you desire.
You will learn:
General Administrative Virtual Assisting stuff
Social Media Marketing
Tech Tool skills like WordPress and Ning (don’t let this scare you – I’m not a tech person either but these are easy to learn and actually kinda fun!)
You will earn
A testimonial/reference from me to show potential clients you have not only skills but experience too.
Here’s what I will do:
1. Write the content for the site.
If you like to write you can too but writing is not required (and would be additional time – see below).
2. Provide training and mentoring
I have over 20 years experience as an entrepreneur and over 5 years experience as a Virtual Assistant.
I have been through some of the best training programs and learned a lot from the School Of Hard Knocks (4.0 GPA there, sad to say!)
Here’s what you need to do:
1. Want to be a Virtual Assistant – check out this site, especially the “Your Professional VA Business” Category.
2. Commit to at least 5 hours per week for 3 months – 10 is better (5 training and 5 doing)
- think of it this way; if you want 20 hours per week and you invest 10 here, you have 10 hours to work for other clients (and I can show you how to get ‘em!). After the training you will have solid skills and experience to build your business on.
3. After 3 months, if you wish to continue and we work well together we can consider continuing with a limited equity split.
4. Still here? Great! Send me a message (Contact button above) telling me why we should work together and we’ll take it from there.
You consult with a client and you both think you have discovered virtual business nirvana.
From my perspective this would be someone who needs my skills and abilities and who understands how to work virtually. Someone who will not only share their vision with me but will be open to mine.
Then you get to work. You’re so excited and you just know that this will be a wonderful partnership for a long time. You are ready to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty and really make a positive difference in your client’s business.
So you dive right in and right off the bat there are some bumps.
That’s ok. It’s to be expected as you get to know your client and their business. You are learning how they do it and they are learning how you do it and it takes time to develop a rhythm.
You get to a point where you say – ok, now the foundation is laid. I have the systems in place and now we’re really going to rock!
Then the client changes direction a bit. Wait, I know I said do this but I see now we need that. And by the way – that’s your management stuff so you don’t get to bill that time to me.
Ok, I’ll let it slide this time. I know we are just getting started here and we have big plans together. It will pay off.
And then it happens again.
And – well you get the picture.
By now you may have figured out that I’m talking about myself here (yea, nuthin’ gets by you, dear Reader!)
Yep, it’s true. This client was referred by another VA whom I greatly respect. After researching the client I was really excited about what they do and knew I wanted to be a part of it. It is a company that is making a difference not only in the lives of their clients but in the lives of their client’s clients. For me? Well, it just doesn’t get better than that!
And this client wanted me to create and run their Social Media Marketing department. Wow – how cool is that? Getting paid to do something that I’m good at and I love to do. Nope, it just doesn’t get better than that.
But then we started working together. I finally came to the conclusion that I could not work with my client’s “ready, fire, aim” philosophy. Especially if it meant that work I performed in good faith was now wasted and not billable.
So I made the decision to move on.
And it was an amazing experience.
This is the second client I’ve “fired”. The first 0ne had the same scattered, act before thinking, work habits. It was extremely stressful until I let go and decided to move on. Then within a week I landed a fabulous client that I have been working with for two years. I love this client and the work. I feel like the work I do matters not only for my client but for his business, his employees and our clients.
The truth is that if I had stuck it out with my other client, afraid to let go of the work and the income, I would not have had “room” for this other client.
So the minute I decided to let this new client go I experienced the most amazing sense of freedom! I hadn’t realized how stressful the situation had been until I finally said, “enough!”
Now there is room for a new wonderful client.
Already I have some leads and next week I will be attending the Traffic Geyser Summit and there will be some wonderful networking opportunities there. Opportunities I may not have been open to if I had not been willing to let go of this client.
So, the moral of the story is…
Don’t be afraid. Don’t stay in a bad situation because you are afraid you won’t find another client and have the income you need.
Clear out the bad situation for your sake as well as your client’s and make room for the right client and the right work and the right income.
Yes, you can – and you deserve it!
And when you doubt yourself, read this:
I Promise Myself
To be so strong that nothing can disturb my peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person I meet.
To make all my friends feel that there is something worthwhile in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and make my optimism come true.
To think only of the best, to work only for the best and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as I am about my own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful expression at all times and give a smile to every living creature I meet.
To give so much time to improving myself that I have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
To think well of myself and to proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud words, but in great deeds.
To live in the faith that the whole world is on my side, so long as I am true to the best that is in me.
Because video is an excellent bridge between the “real” world of business and the “virtual” world of the internet.
Because video brings your business (and you) to life.
Because video makes it real.
I firmly believe that businesses that use video not to sell, but to build relationships will have a huge advantage over those that don’t.
In addition to the relationship building aspect of video is the tremendous marketing and SEO potential.
So I took a course through VA Classroom to get my Traffic Geyser VA Certification. Check out the review on my Virtual Assistant site - ePro Virtual Assistance. I think you might find it helpful not only for your business but also for your clients. After you read the review and watch the video, let me know what you think – is video the cutting edge? a waste of energy and resources? or just too hard for most business? or? Let’s talk!
The case against office hours, answering the phone, checking email and instant messaging.
I’m willing to bet that most entrepreneurs go into business so they can do what they want when they want. It’s not the only one but I’m sure it’s in the top 10. I’m also willing to bet that you are one of those entrepreneurs. But a crucial difference between you and those client entrepreneurs may be the “employee mindset.” Your client is used to having one and you are used to being one.
Have you considered that you can better serve your client (and yourself) if you ignore them? Ok, not blanket ignore, it’s more of a strategic ignore. And you don’t tell your client you are going to ignore them rather you explain your time-blocking strategy.
Why time- block?
More efficient and effective.
Interruptions waste time as you get back on track.
You can be prepared and have resources and information at hand rather than trying to find things on the fly.
Let’s face it – if you don’t respond immediately the Earth will not stop spinning on it’s axis.
But your clients may not be used to working virtually. They are used to yelling down the hall and having an assistant jump to their every command. So you must educate them.
It’s really a matter of perspective so let them know this is about them. They don’t want you interrupted when you are working on their stuff – that’s when mistakes happen and time or money (or both) is lost.
How I do it
I don’t talk about office hours at all and especially not in my contract. But then again – I don’t work with clients in real time. I block time to return calls and emails so that when I am working I am not distracted.
If a client needs a phone call I let them know during my initial consultation that I block time and why (it’s to their benefit that I am not distracted or interrupted while I am working on their stuff). I let them know that I return all calls and emails within one business day, however I do recommend that if they need a phone call, the best thing to do is to schedule a telephone appointment with me via email. I also meet with them within 24 business hours.
Tip: follow up each phone conversation with an email summarizing any instructions, future appointments or action items. This way you reduce the risk of misunderstandings and have a virtual paper trail. If you are using a project management system post it there.
A word about working in real time
When I say I don’t work with clients in real time what I mean is that I don’t work virtually side-by-side with them. I have talked to clients (and VAs too) who expect me to be available via phone and instant messenger so that we are working together, even though it’s remote. I think this attitude is primarily because they can’t wrap their brains around the concept of working virtually. They are worried that VAs will “pad” the billable hours or they just have a hard time letting go of the controls. They are still in the “employee mindset.”
All that needs to happen here is that project management systems need to be in place. It might be something as simple as a document shared in Google Docs with instructions and deadlines. Or you can use something like Basecamp or Zoho (great free tools, BTW).
And if you have a prospective client who demands that you be available at their beck and call – run. Just sayin’.
Or – The Reinvention of Zig Ziglar’s Automobile University
I am a life-long learner. Are you? You should be. Everyone should be. And in this age of rapidly evolving playing fields you can’t afford not to be.
I’m a big fan of Zig Ziglar. Zig is “the man” as far as I’m concerned. The quintessential motivator. One of the most important things I learned from his training is the idea of Automobile University. Zig taught me how to turn my work commute into a valuable learning opportunity. I devoured all kinds of books, first on tape and later on CD (I really dated myself there, didn’t I?). I got them from the library so it really was a free education – but priceless.
As I moved from working in an office to working at home that time was eliminated. But my thirst for knowledge was not. So I tweaked the system a bit and started using my “get ready” time in the morning. I started listening when I’m doing housework and taking walks – anytime that requires me to be doing something physical but that doesn’t need all of my brain power. Call me funny but I don’t consider cleaning toilets and dusting furniture high end brain activities.
With the growth of the Internet has come the growth of informational resources. Now books are often out of date by the time they are published. And, as I mentioned earlier, playing fields are evolving so rapidly that you can’t afford to wait for a book to be published to get information.
In my article The 10 Business Blogs I always Read, I shared my favorite business blogs. But somehow I have never figured out how to brush my teeth and read at the same time. Enter the world of Podcasting . Brain food for the times when my body has to be doing something else. Automobile University reinvented and reformatted to fit my world.
So here are the 5 Business Podcasts I listen to:
1. StartupNation StartupNation is one of my favorite sites. I have learned more from this site than I could have from a top business school. They provide “real-world business advice to people who want to start a business and who want to grow their small businesses.” Check out their media channels here.
2. Duct Tape Marketing with John Jantsch. Duct Tape Marketing first came to my attention when I was a student of Teaching Sells. John Jantsch is a very savvy marketer and helps me keep on top of smart marketing not only for my bricks and mortar clients but virtual businesses (like my own) as well. Check out his podcast here.
3. Managing the Gray I found this podcast by accident while searching around iTunes. CC Chapman’s podcast focuses on the changing world of social media and marketing and is very informative and interesting. Check it out here.
4. Freelance Switch These guys are on my blog list too. They have some great information on running a freelance business that applies to Virtual Assistants too. Check out the podcast at here.
5. The Motley Fool Great site and interesting information – “The Motley Fool provides premium investing advice and market-beating stock research whether you have $250 to invest or tens of thousands of dollars. They have two podcasts:
Motley Fool Money – A round table discussion with their senior analysts (but it’s not dry and boring, these guys are actually fun!) about the major business and investing stories of the week, plus a “Stocks On Our Radar” segment. Motley Fool Conversations – Interviews with major players in investing, business and culture. I just listened to a fascinating interview with Michael Lewis, the author of the book, The Blind Side which was the basis of the Sandra Bullock movie.
The internet has leveled the playing field in many ways – the barriers to entry are nearly non-existent, allowing anyone with a computer and a thought to find an audience. There are a lot of good things about this but of course, there are some precautions that you need to take to protect those thoughts.
It only took a couple of minutes to set up a free account that gives me 500MB of space. I’m not sure if/when I’ll need more but we’ll see. MYOWS is in the Beta Testing phase is offering accounts with 500 MB of space for free. They will likely charge at some point but say these accounts will remain free.
There is a very good video, about 2 minutes long, that gave an excellent introduction and overview. I haven’t used MYOWS much yet but that’s more because I now need to create a new habit/system to do it. That’s not reflection on MYOWS at all. It’s easy to submit text and images, I just need to remember to do it. They are apparently developing a Word Press Plug in and I’ll be very excited to see that! Could make life so much simpler and I’m all for that!
In addition to their services, there is some very good information on their blog and a forum, too – excellent information even if you don’t sign up for an account.
I’m looking forward to using MYOWS more and encourage you to check it out if you are publishing your own work. You might also want to pass this along to your clients as a possible resource for them. Good advice and possibly a service they would like you to perform for them.
Should Your Clients Outsource Their Social Media Networking?
There is a lot of discussion regarding outsourcing social media work on both Virtual Assistant forums and blogs as well as Internet Marketing and Entrepreneurial sites. I’ve been mulling this topic over for awhile and here is my take on it.
Of course there are always exceptions. For example, I have a large client that I write content for that is then posted on a number of social media sites such as LinkedIn and The Four Hour Work Week. The conversations to post to are researched by another VA and she posts the responses I write. But this isn’t the only thing I do for this client. I also do sales and client support. I’ve been working with this client for almost two years and we have forged a very strong partnership. I know the industry and I know the company culture, mission, and values. We are a team. In this case, the term “outsourcing” is simply a logistical and legal definition.
But I digress.
Let’s get back to what your clients can and indeed should outsource. Chris has a list of tasks to outsource ranging from content to reputation management. Which sounds great at first glance but we know that our clients often don’t know this stuff. They come to us for our expertise to develop a strategy so that all of the items on Chris’s list are effective and efficient. This is something we can do that can greatly benefit our clients.
A solid Social Marketing Strategy should include these steps:
1. Social Media Assessment – what is the client’s purpose in social media marketing.
2. Brainstorm – What are the avenues available for social media marketing
3. Goal Setting – Make sure they are specific and measurable
4. Action Plan
-List of social media activities
-Recommended services and next steps
5. Evaluation – Return on Investment and Return on Influence
And the bottom line is that you (or your clients) shouldn’t outsource your relationships. Period.
P.S. If you are interested in learning more about providing this service for your clients, I highly recommend VAClassroom’s Social Media Marketing Program. I consider myself proficient in this area yet I still learned a lot form Craig Canning’s course. VAClassroom also does an excellent job of providing ongoing support and education in their monthly webinars and in their forum.
Is it necessary to work 8 hours a week to get ahead?
Do you get more (productive) work done in less time when you only work 40 hours (or less)?
Are you working to make a living or working to make a life?
I was raised to believe that a good work ethic was very important. I still think that a good work ethic is important. But my definition has changed dramatically over the past 18 years (since my kids were born). I no longer buy into the Baby Boomer’s definition of put in your 40 years working for the man. Build your pension, take your 2 weeks of vacation every year and be grateful.
I think Gen Y (or Gen Why) asks some valid questions, among them:
Why should I sacrifice my family for my job?
Why should I work at an unfulfilling job?
I don’t think we need to make any sacrifices. I think we can have it all. And I don’t think that’s selfish and lazy.