Building a Laptop Lifestyle

Building a Laptop Lifestyle

I can’t believe that I have been running my Virtual Assistant business for over eight years now.  It has been a massive journey of empowerment and learning.  I feel blessed that I have been able to work my business around my family, school drop offs and pickups, the endless sporting commitments, school holidays and of course to still be able to earn more than a full-time income with the flexibility of a laptop lifestyle.

I originally started my Virtual Assistant business as a bookkeeper.  At the time, there were some legality changes in Australia for contract bookkeeping and of course further study would have been needed.  I had just finished and had paid for the wrong course, spent $2,000 in advertising my new business which resulted in only one new client at 3 hours per month which certainly didn’t cover costs.  So, I had a decision to make, do further study, do something else or go back to work.

These decisions are made when you least expect it. I went to a Mothers morning tea through my oldest son’s school (then 7 years old), I got talking to a Mum and explained about the bookkeeping situation and the dilemma of whether to do the study and extra hours or did I even like bookkeeping after all.  She asked me about my Secretarial, Admin and PA background and asked me why I didn’t go into business offering those services and what I loved best.  I asked, ‘Is there a market for that?’ and her response was ‘Yes definitely, I have been in business for 6 months and I am working full time, let me introduce you to a Liz Parker at 121 Temps.’

I went home, had a look at the 121 Temps website and signed up on the spot for the Premium Membership, it included everything that I needed to get my business started plus I could pay weekly which really helped with cashflow:

  • Website URL and website creation course
  • Marketing course
  • Monthly Webinars
  • Free Client Leads
  • Mentoring and Support
  • Plus a whole lot more.

And after just spending an excessive amount in advertising in the wrong place, I knew that this was the perfect investment to learn those things that would put my business in good stead for years to come.

From there it took me a little while to find my feet, I had three young boys, they were 7, not quite 3 and 18 months old (the younger two are only 16 months apart) so my life was hectic and filled with a school run and toddler taming along with trying to build a business.  In those early days, I only had lunchtimes if the younger boys slept and after 7:30pm at night once they were all in bed.  It was hard building a business on those limitations but definitely possible.  Plus, I was dedicated and motivated, it was either build my business or go back to work and frankly I couldn’t afford to go back to work as the childcare fees were exorbitant especially times 3 children.

As my business grew, so did the childcare by one day a week for the two youngest children up to 3 days per week until they went to school.  Eight years on I now have a 15 year old, 10 year old and 9 year old and I can say that they’ve never been in after school care or school holiday care, we regularly have their friends over during school holidays plus the boys all enjoy sporting activities most afternoons each week.  I also love that I can still be there for them and earn a full-time income on essentially a very flexible schedule.

In those early days, I set basic goals, I remember my first goal being to earn $400 dollars in a month and setting tasks around what I had to do to achieve that.  My mantra was ‘make this work or go back to work’ and ‘it is all up to me’.  I had to get my services together and write them as benefits to attract a potential client and I found this to be one of the hardest things to do.  Marketing really wasn’t my strong suit and I put my energy into learning as much as I could about it.  My little hack was that once I worked out my target market which was quite tough in the early days, it was much easier to explain my services because I knew what appealed to that industry.

Eight years on, I still love what I do.  I love the business and the clients I work with are amazing and inspiring.  I love that if I get bored, I can change my services or do some further study to offer different services.  My clients love this too and it means that they’re staying ahead of new trends as well.  They love that I am innovative and nothing is too hard to do or achieve.

I have been working with my longest running client for seven years and I believe that the longevity is due to going above and beyond for my clients, along with adding value to their business.  At the end of the day, I’m in this for the long haul!

Susan Wilkin

Secretarial Services that you should outsource now

Secretarial Services that you should outsource now

If you’re a business owner, influencer or industry leader, we understand that you are already extremely busy and it is probably time that you look into outsourcing your secretarial services. While you might not notice it at the current moment, the truth is that outsourcing your secretarial services will do wonders for your overall productivity and profitability. It means that you can work on what you want to work on.  If you find the right person, it is someone that you can run ideas through and also someone that can take care of your business while you are on holiday.  It also takes the pressure off sorting the basic day to day things that can easily be outsourced.  Here are some of the popular day to day services that many businesses outsource:

  • Transcription
  • Typing and document formatting
  • Diary bookings
  • Appointment setting
  • Template creation
  • Invoicing
  • Customer followup
  • Travel arrangements
  • Email replies and followups

Some of the above seem quite old school for 2017 but are still popular, below are some ways that these services have been rejigged into an online format, these include:

  • Uploading Blog Posts to your website
  • Social Media scheduling
  • Transcription of podcasts and interviews into blog posts
  • Email newsletters
  • Online file organisation
  • Database updates
  • Online training maintenance, followup and technical help

How it’s done

Thanks to modern technology and ability, you can now outsource all of your secretarial work. In past decades, most of this work would have to be done in-house, but because of the new technological advances, it’s undoubtedly something that could be handled by an outsourced contractor. Secretarial services might seem like something that aren’t easy to outsource but the easiest way to think about it especially if you do travel alot is to consider the secretary being back in the office and you need to phone them or email them with the work to be completed.  Other ways to assign tasks is to use project management software such as Asana, Trello or Slack. But what about File sharing, I hear you ask.  Well, there are many file sharing options available including uploading to a project management software (as indicated), Dropbox, Sugarsync and of course google drive.

The best thing about outsourcing your secretarial services is that if you find the right person to handle the job, they normally offer a 24 hour turn around, which means that you can have the work back on your desk the next day. Too often, a lot of people that run businesses have way too much work than they can handle so by getting the initial steps completed, it frees up your time to focus on running your business.

 

Susan Wilkin
Online Business Manager

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How to Find the Right Virtual Assistant

How to Find the Right Virtual Assistant

Having the right Virtual assistant is the first step to a good partnership. I say partnership because as you work together to grow your business, it will start to feel like you have a partner, someone who wants to see your business succeed as much as you do.  As a Virtual Assistant or Online Business Manager, I prefer to create that business partnership with my clients.

With so many virtual assistants to choose from, finding the right one is not always easy. Many times, business owners wait until they are desperate before they start looking for help. They end up hiring the first virtual assistant they find, normally based on the cheapest price but can also be on location and skills. While selecting an assistant this way can work, it can also lead to the business owner hopping from one assistant to the next and getting frustrated with the process and finding that a virtual assistant is not the right fit for them.

There’s a better method to finding the right Virtual assistant and it requires a bit of research and thought. Here are some things to consider before searching for a virtual assistant.

What skills are required of the Virtual Assistant

Before you begin your search, have an idea of what kind of assistant you need. Make a list of the tasks you want to outsource to the virtual assistant. What skills or knowledge should the VA have to complete those tasks? Do the tasks require special software or equipment?

In most cases, you will want the Virtual Assistant to have everything he or she needs to complete the work and if they are a viable business, they should have the basics set up already unless you have a specific software that you use.  In this case, it might be more beneficial to train your current virtual assistant on how to do these tasks.

Depending on the tasks, it can also be helpful if the Virtual Assistant has experience in the industry that you work in or already offers the services that you require to other businesses.

Characteristics

What characteristics would you like to see in your assistant? Which are most important to you? Here are a few to get you started:

  • Forward Thinker. They see the whole picture & offer ideas to help you reach your goals.
  • Self-Motivated. They are go-getters. They don’t wait until the last minute to start a project.
  • Takes Initiative. If they see something needs to be done, they do it.
  • Resourceful. If they don’t know an answer, they know how to find it
  • Organised. Disorganisation leads to frustration and potential mistakes
  • Good Communicator. Good communication reduces confusion and errors
  • Professional. They conduct themselves in a professional, self-confident way
  • Dependable. They complete work as requested without having to be monitored
  • Trustworthy. If they cannot be trusted, the contract should be cancelled

You may not find someone who possesses every characteristic on your list or you may just want to make sure the important ones are covered and then you can work with the rest.

Susan Wilkin
Online Business Manager

View our range of packages here

Technology and your client

Technology and your client

 

Making a decision regarding the types of technology and software you will be using in your business is an important decision that much thought must go into. There are hundreds or thousands of different software programs out there and many aspects of each to consider based on what the software is, what you need it to do, and what features it has to offer.

I recently held a webinar for 1-2-1 Temps (Virtual Assistant network) discussing many types of technology that a Virtual Assistant can use to help a client in their business.  Here is a replay of the webinar and some of my favourite that I use and recommend to help build a virtual relationship with a client.

In this webinar, I take you through all the different types of technology including Skype, Dropbox, File sharing, basic computer maintenance and a few other technical tips and tricks.  If you are a client, looking at working with a VA (virtual assistant) these are the types of technology that you can use to build your team and work with a virtual assistant. They are also some of the technology that you can expect that a Virtual Assistant should know about and can use.  If you are working with an Online Business Manager, the OBM will be able to advise you on the types of technology as well as show you how to set some of these up, depending of course on their expertise.

The software discussed during the webinar normally has a fantastic help section, videos or you can find a host of tutorials on YouTube that discuss in depth how to use the specific technology.  We hope that you enjoy the webinar as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you.

Software links and references from the video

If you would like to attend a future webinar, sign up here for further information

6 Tips for Writing Better Email Subject Lines

6 Tips for Writing Better Email Subject Lines

Writing email subject lines is something of an art form that only a few businesses really gauge and understand the secrets of. Even small changes can have a massive effect on open rates and give your business that extra flair!

Here are a few tips that can help your open rates on your email marketing campaigns:

Keep it short

Shorter subject lines consistently do better than long ones. Ideally you want to try to stay below 50 characters. The trick is communicating everything you need without over doing it, and this is something you’ll learn with practice. Do a test and limit yourself to 50 characters for your next few emails and see what happens!

Tell, don’t sell

Your customers, although they’re your customers, they don’t like being sold to, that’s a fact! If your subject line is the least bit “salesy”, chances are it will go straight to the deleted folder. What you want to do instead is engage your readers (or rather give them a hint) about what’s inside. It should be something that gets them curious enough to open your email.

Personalise if possible

A personalised subject line will always grab better open rates than its one-size-fits-all standard subject lines. Don’t think just inserting the first name of the recipient is enough though, because it’s not. Actually doing that can even have the complete opposite effect, as most people have gotten wise to this technique and now consider it spam. What you can do, however, is mention something like their city, their occupation or whatever other data you have that could be relevant. Make it personal.

Controversy is still powerful

Readers can’t help but feel drawn to controversy or a drama, so if you can construct a subject line that has some of that they’ll be jumping at the chance of opening the email to see what it’s all about.

Use shortage techniques

A trick that’s been used since the dawn of advertising is telling readers there are “only 48 hours left on the sale” or “just a few hours left before we raise prices again”. The fact is these techniques work, but you need to be honest about it. Don’t go telling your readers or customers that you’re increasing prices when you’re actually not, because that will lead to a backlash sooner or later. If you can back up your sales pitch and you have something people are actually interested in, this can boost your open rates through the roof.

Always split-test your subject lines

Don’t forget to always split test your subject lines to find the ideal strategies for your business. By doing this you can improve your subject lines with every email you send out.  You will understand your audience better and it can increase your conversions.

These are just a few ways in which you can write better email subject lines to boost your conversions and open rates.