Many virtual assistants and other service-based businesses can find that their workload slows down in summer. Perhaps because their clients take time off to go on holiday, or the business owner themselves has to cut back hours to look after the kids who are off from school. Whatever the reason, as a small business owner it can be tough when the client work isn’t rolling in as regularly as you’d like. You can lose momentum and motivation if things go too quiet for too long.
So how can you keep things moving over the holiday period? Well you don’t have to start selling holiday packages or swimming pools but like travel agents, you do need to understand what your customers are thinking about in the summer months and cater your marketing to that.
So when business is slow, ask yourself a few questions:
- What are your customers’ worries and concerns in summer? As a virtual assistant, some of my clients may be concerned about who is going to answer customer enquiries while they’re on holiday, or they may want to keep their Facebook page or LinkedIn group updated while they’re away. So grab a piece of paper and write down the kind of concerns that your target market may have over the summer months and how you could help them with that.
- What are they busy doing? When you know what your customers are doing and what’s on their minds, you know how to speak to them. Ask your clients what their plans are over the summer months. Perhaps they want to get started on a project that they’ve been putting off and want to use the quiet summer time to do this. By asking questions and finding out what their plans are for the rest of the year, you can talk to them about how you can help them achieve these plans.
- What would they rather be doing? They may want to take some time off over the summer but are worried about how this will affect their business. Perhaps they’d just like a few days lazing by the beach. So what would your clients love to do but feel they can’t, but possibly could with the help of your services? Again, educate them as to how you can help them achieve this without a lot of stress on their part.
Putting together a summer marketing plan doesn’t require any magic skills, but it does require some thought. When business is slow, take time to speak to your clients and find out what they are doing over the summer months. Then put together a plan that can help them with any issues or projects that they have. By doing this, your clients will not only appreciate what you’re doing for them but you will also be ensuring that you have a steady stream of work to cover you over the holiday period.
Are you planning to go on holiday but worried about who’s going to look after things while you’re away? Or perhaps you’re planning to work on a project and need some help? Then click on the arrow button to find out more about our virtual assistant services and how we can help you in your business.
It’s come to that time of year when things have started to pick up again after the summer break. I know that I’ve been busy over the last few weeks doing both client work and also marketing stuff for my own business.
However, I sometimes find it difficult to focus on projects especially with all the other things that grab your attention – such as emails, Twitter, Facebook, the internet. So how can you minimise the distractions and accomplish everything you need to do within your working day?
Well the answer is to turn off the internet!
One of the biggest distractions for most people is the internet, whether it’s checking your emails, seeing what’s happening on Twitter, or reading what your friends have got up to on Facebook.
And most people do these things to stop them from focusing on the important stuff like making that difficult phone call or writing up a proposal – I know I do! In fact Seth Godin mentioned this in one of his blogs a while back where he talks about turning off the noise for an hour and seeing what happens.
So if you really want to focus on a project and come to the end of the day feeling like you’ve accomplished something then the best thing to do is switch off the very thing that is stopping you from working effectively.
This may seem radical to some people – in fact most of us come out in a cold sweat if we don’t have instant access to our emails and social networking sites! But by switching off the Internet – even if it’s only for an hour each day – you will be able to give your full attention to getting your important tasks done. And if it does give you the opportunity to make that phone call you’ve been putting off for weeks then think of the sense of achievement that will give you!
If this sounds appealing but you don’t think you’ve got the willpower to do this alone, then check out a website called Freedom which will lock you away from the internet for up to 8 hours at a time.
So think about it – if you turn off the internet now, how much work would you get done today?
If you need more help to focus on your important projects, then download a copy of our guide “How to organise your workload so there’s more time for you“. This guide is packed full of time management tips as well as 10 online tools to help you work more productively. Click on the link to download the guide >> How to organise your workload
After speaking to some business owners recently, it seems that there are quite a few who won’t be taking a holiday over the summer period. In fact, many people feel that they are not in a position to take a break because without them, their business would not survive.
However, in order to fully achieve personal and financial freedom from your business, it needs to be able to exist without you actually being there. This can be something that a lot of people struggle with in the early days but one of the first steps is to start outsourcing those essential but non-fee earning tasks, such as admin and book keeping.
So if you are now feeling that your business is running you rather than the other way round, here are 5 ways a virtual assistant can give you the freedom to take a break from your business.
Manage your team. If your business is made up of a team based in various locations then a virtual assistant can liaise with them while you’re away. With your instructions, they can co-ordinate team activities to ensure that they stay on track and deadlines are being met.
Manage your clients. One of the main things that a lot of business owners worry about when they’re away is ensuring that their clients are being properly looked after. A virtual assistant can handle enquiries or issues via phone or email, or forward them to another member of the team. They can also keep a record of client activities on a CRM system so you can track of what’s been happening.
Manage updates. Having a holiday can result in a hiatus with your marketing activity. If you’ve spent time building up an online following you don’t want to suddenly “disappear” for 2-3 weeks. A virtual assistant can continue to post important business-related updates to Twitter and Facebook while you’re away, as well as schedule your regular blog posts. They can also keep your contacts up to date with the latest news or promotions by sending out newsletters or updating your website.
Manage projects. Don’t put off your holiday just because you’ve got a project or event coming up. For example, a virtual assistant can handle many aspects of your events, such as liaising with attendees and speakers, organising the venue, handling enquiries, dealing with bookings and payment.
Manage your payments. You don’t have to stop getting paid just because you’re on holiday. A virtual assistant can raise and send out invoices to your clients and chase up payment as necessary. They can also manage your expenses and reconcile your expenditure and income with your bank statement. This means that you can keep the cash flowing in your business and return to a healthy bank balance!
By having a virtual assistant to manage and oversee your business while you’re on holiday, you can take out some of the worry about being away from your business. You may need to be contacted during your absence but by having one person managing the process and keeping you up to date, you can keep the disruption to your holiday at a minimum.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and need to take a break from your business, then we can help you to manage your workload while you’re away. Click on the arrow button to find out more about our virtual assistant services and how they can help you save time and money in your business.
When you first set up in business, your main focus is to get your name out there and start bringing in clients. So you accept every request to attend a networking event or to connect online, and take any work offered, however small, to get you started. But there comes a time when your business is growing and you have to start prioritising your client base and workload. You may feel guilty about declining requests from people who helped get your business going. So what can you do?
Well, it’s time to say no.
You may have a client who is difficult, doesn’t pay on time or only contacts when an emergency strikes and expects you to drop everything to help them. Or perhaps you’ve met someone at a networking event who keeps asking you to quote for work but never gives you any business. Then there are the people who add you to their mailing list without permission so they can send you newsletters or invite you to their workshops whether they are appropriate for your business or not. Finally, you’ve got friends and family who think it’s OK to pop round or have a chat because you work from home.
If any of the above sound familiar then it’s time to put your foot down and say no. It’s easy to be polite in the early days when you’ve got the time and energy to handle these ad hoc demands. However, as your business grows, the claims they are making on your time are stopping you from focusing on what’s really important.
- So review your client list and politely drop those who are neither respecting your time nor valuing the benefits of what you have to offer.
- If you’re getting asked to take part in activities that are not benefiting you or your business then let the person know that you are too busy to get involved.
- Unsubscribe from email newsletters that don’t bring any value to you or are no longer of interest.
- Finally, be firm with friends and family about their demands on your time. Although you don’t want to neglect them, it is far better to schedule time in your diary each week to meet up rather than just let them drop round when they feel like it.
This doesn’t mean to say that your business should run your life at the expense of your personal or professional relationships. But you need to focus on those activities that will take you closer to your goals so you can achieve the growth and success that you want in your business. So if you feel that you’re trying to juggle too many things at once, it’s time to say no.
If you want to get more tips on how to manage your time and work effectively in your business, then download a copy of our guide “How to organise your workload so there’s more time for you“. This guide is packed full of time management tips as well as 10 online tools to help you work more productively. Click on the link to download the guide >> How to organise your workload
I started using GMail a few months ago after many years of using Outlook and I have to say that I now prefer it. I can access my emails from any PC with an Internet connection and there are lots of features which make it really easy to use.
So if you are thinking about switching over, here are my top tips for using GMail.
Prioritise your inbox. GMail has a feature called Priority Inbox which automatically sorts your inbox into 3 categories – Important and unread, Starred and Everything else. Those categorised as Important and unread are usually emails only sent to you or have a certain subject line. You can also flag emails by clicking on the star symbol at the left of each message line in the inbox. These messages then appear under the Starred category. Once emails in the Important and unread category have been opened, they then automatically move to Everything else, unless you star them.
Filter messages. If you find that your inbox is getting overloaded, then it’s a good idea to filter messages as you receive them. Filters apply automatic actions to messages as they arrive in your inbox. So you can set criteria so that certain messages move into a Read Later folder. To find out how to filter a message, check out the blog “How to Filter Emails in Gmail“.
Organise messages with labels. You can also organise messages by creating folders, which are referred to as labels in GMail. To create a label, select a message(s) and then click on the Labels button, select Create new and give the label a name. Once the label has been created, it will appear on the left hand side of the inbox.
Add emails as tasks. If you receive a message in GMail that you need to follow up on then you can add it to your task list. Open the message, click on the More Actions button and then select Add to Tasks. The Tasks list will appear on the right hand side and you can edit to add a reminder date. Go back to Calendar and hit the Refresh button and you’ll see the new task added to your list.
Personalise with a signature. It’s important to have a professional looking email signature that contains your business name and contact details. You can set this up in GMail by going to Settings>General and then going down to the Signature option. Type in your details in the box provided, format the text as appropriate – you can also add images and links – and then click on Save Changes.
I hope you have found these top tips for using Gmail useful. If you want to get more tips on how to manage your time and work effectively in your business, then download a copy of our guide “How to organise your workload so there’s more time for you“. This guide is packed full of time management tips as well as 10 online tools to help you work more productively. Click on the link to download the guide >> How to organise your workload
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