It’s said to be the most depressing day of 2020. The unwanted accolade is down to a combination of a number of factors. These include post-festive blues, the cold and miserable weather, dark nights and dark mornings, and the arrival of unpaid credit card bills. Many people would be able to resonate with that, I’m sure. The date has apparently been calculated by a university professor using a formula (though some think it’s part of a PR stunt and a bit of nonsense). It’s not important who’s right.
This was just my way of getting you to take a moment. To reflect a little. It’s a sensible idea to carry out a rapid review of the first few weeks of the year.
What is most important is how you are faring and feeling about you and your VA business.
Ask yourself a few questions.
Has it been a slow start to the year or is your schedule looking filled to the brim?
❓ Do you have a plan?
❓ Where is your focus at right now – serving clients, seeking new business or a bit of both?
❓ Is your productivity at the level you want it to be?
❓ Are you feeling on top of your inbox or is there still a stack of messages to wade through?
Now is the time to check you are on track and in control.
January is a month which sets the tone for your year.
If you get into good habits now they are more likely to stay with you during 2020 and beyond. And those will serve you well, especially if you’re looking to build on last year and grow your VA business.
Knowing how to carry out tasks with ease and confidence is another way to make life a little easier.
Give some thought to your strengths and areas for improvement in how you use Microsoft Office and Office 365 in your business.
Good communications with your clients is essential. It will be a factor which helps to determine how many clients you win, serve and retain.
Some VA’s get overwhelmed by their inbox or feel uncertain about the best ways to share information.
If you would like to be more in control of Outlook Email you can take a look at my online training for that. There’s a version for Windows users and a dedicated one for Mac users.
Remember how useful Microsoft Word is for generating branded templates for documents, and creating E-books and lead magnets.
A solid understanding of how to use it gives you ways to save time and make money.
If your work involves a lot of presentations it pays to perfect your PowerPoint skills. What’s more, it’s not just great for presentations. You can use it to create infographics or Instagram posts.
The more you know, the more services you can offer clients.
And the better you know how to carry out tasks in Microsoft Office, the more efficient and productive you can be.
All that leaves you with more time to serve your clients – and to attract new clients.
… and if you want a way to gain all-round know-how AND save money, you can choose to invest in my complete ‘box set’ of courses. It’s called Tomorrow’s VA Hub (it is also known as ‘The Full Monty’ and you have the option to pay in US Dollars, if you wish).
VAs – How To Gain Instagram Plaudit Points from your clients
It’s really fascinating to me how different VA’s around the world are. Some are new and just starting out. Others have years and years of experience.
Some provide a general range of services. Others specialise in one or more areas.
Some VA’s are happy to complete tasks they are given and focus on doing a good job with that. Others like to offer ideas, suggestions and advice on top – in service of the client.
Be of service to your clients
Here’s an example of how you can do the latter, using Instagram (or IG or Insta, however you know it by).
You might be asked to create Insta posts by a client. You could deliver those well and leave it at that. A professional job well done.
Or you could go one step further. And earn some profitable plaudits and praise.
You might notice, observe or take a closer look at how your client is using Instagram for their business.
Offer Feedback and Suggestions
And then offer them some feedback, some suggestions, some ideas.
Just because a company is using Instagram does not mean they know how to use it well – or make the most of it for marketing.
You may even have a better idea of how it works than your client does.
Which means you can offer them much more than just timely completion of a few posts.
You can give them some tips or things to think about. Things like:
Share tips, how-tos and messages which hint at your solutions
Ensure posts match your brand and company values
Use short video clips as well as written posts
Explore and experiment with Instagram Stories (slideshows)
Update the bio section and get smart with the clickable link
Give customers, clients or prospects a ‘Behind-the-Scenes’ tour
Use #hashtags wisely (and sparingly) to expand your audience reach
Highlight collaborations and partners
Share customer success stories
Reward loyal followers with exclusive content
You may have many more tips up your sleeve to share with your clients.
And here’s the thing.
When you are seen as a specialist or someone with a strategic mind, you are likely to attract new work. That’s not just from your current clients but also from the people they recommend to work with you.
Remember, word of mouth is the most powerful marketing tool out there.
How can you add more plaudits to your portfolio of services?
P.S. If you want the confidence to turn around Insta posts fast, you can learn how to do it in 30 minutes or less. I show you how in my online course Instant Instagram Posts. Worth knowing because when the ‘how to’ is easy you can focus on adding more value for your clients.
I hope you enjoyed the festivities, however you celebrate.And now it’s time to look ahead.
🕰Time to make sure you are prepared and ready.
🕰Time to check you are in good shape to serve your clients.
🕰Time to take your VA business to where you want it to be.
If you’ve not done so already, you may want to give some thought to how you are going to make 2020 a memorable year.
Here are 5 areas you will want to get to grips with:
Mindset – Be positive, be confident. Be how you want clients and prospects to see you. If a little help is wanted in this area, consider working with a coach. Many are specialists in the mindset field.
Plan for Business – Have you worked out how much you wish to earn this year? Have you sorted what services you will offer? How many hours a week you will work? How many clients you will need to serve to reach your financial goals? When you set this down on paper (or on the computer) you will find the clarity gives you focus and energy to get things done. Sit down and do this first. If you’ve already got it sorted, well done. You’re ahead of the pack.
Marketing – This is an element which some VA’s struggle with.It’s about knowing your market and ideal client. Knowing where to find them. Knowing what to say to make them want to work with you.Do you have a plan for the year? How are you going to use Social Media? How will you use digital? What offline strategies might you use?And, remember, the most powerful form of marketing is ‘Word of Mouth’. So remember to collect testimonials and case studies as you go.
Build-in Breaks and Holiday – When you are self-employed and running a business, it can be easy to ‘forget’ to take any time off.Please don’t make this mistake.There may be times when you need to put the extra hours in but you also don’t want to wear yourself out. If you’re off sick you won’t be able to serve your clients very well, if much at all. That’s not good for either party. Take care of yourself. Set aside time upfront for holidays. And build in regular breaks so you can rest, relax and recharge.
Master the Tools and Tech – To serve your clients you’re going to be using applications, software and tools. The better you know how to use them, the better for you and your clients. It means you can spend less time looking up how to do something and more time impressing the people who are paying you. And, of course, the more productive you are the more you can take on. Those extra bits of work income each month can make a big difference when there are things like family, bills, rent or mortgage to manage.
Clients love people who can sort things out for them.
It saves them time. It saves them hassle. It can often save them money.
Because outsourcing some tasks to a professional allows a business or business owner to focus on the important stuff, the strategic stuff, the big stuff.
It may be why they hire you for your VA services in the first place.
And why they could also be on the lookout for people they can trust for other work or projects.
Which is a good reason to have your own directory of professional service providers a business might use.
Who do you know, for example, who does a brilliant job at:
Video Filming and Editing
Social Media Strategy
Social Media Content Creation
Office Ergonomics and Productivity
Teamwork and Collaboration
And, of course, that ‘brilliant’ person might be you for one or more of the above categories.
How about the rest?
Do you have a solid database of professionals? People to whom you can happily and safely refer and recommend clients?
If you do, you are worth even more to the businesses you serve.
Not thought of doing this?…
… well, there’s no time like the present to start. It could be a great way to add value and income to your VA business in 2020 and beyond.
With Microsoft Office it’s easy to create and manage a database. It’s then ready to access whenever you need it.
P.S. If you want to be the ‘go to’ VA for tasks like spreadsheets, finance, creating logos, infographics, lead magnets, e-books, Instagram posts, presentations or more, make sure you’re confident in the ‘how’ to do it.
… or save time and money and grab the complete ‘box set’ of my step-by-step courses so you’re covered whatever the job. This is The Full Monty of Microsoft Office training.
One price, lifetime access, never pay a penny more. The price for the complete Tomorrow’s VA Hub package goes up on 1st January 2020. Invest now if you know you want this – because this is the BEST price it will ever be.
As a VA you may often find yourself juggling a number of clients or projects at the same time.
You’ll have multiple tasks on the go and need to stay on top of it all.
If you’re using business versions of Office 365 you probably already have an application called Planner included in your subscription.
And if you are working with corporate and larger business clients, they may already be using Planner with their teams – and want you to do the same.
It’s a way of collaborating more easily – sharing files, working on them together, assigning and tracking tasks, and so on.
Planner, like all Microsoft applications, is regularly updated to improve how it works for people using it.
It’s now possible to set a task’s priority and add more detail to tasks. This can help a client to tell you what’s most important to them. And it allows you to guide the client as to what will help you get tasks done most efficiently.
The levels of priority you can assign to a task are Urgent, Important, Medium or Low.
You can now also use a ‘Group by Priority’ feature to see all the items in a group, or bucket, of tasks within a specific project.
This gives you an at-a-glance view of what needs to be done next. To shift priorities you simply drag and drop to move tasks up or down the scale.
Let’s say you are doing some research for a client. There may be information you require from different members in the team, and different data wanted over a set time.
In Planner, you can set up tasks to remind team members of what you need by when… and alter the priority settings as deadlines loom.
If you are asked to create, design or edit a newsletter, guide or brochure for a client you can use the application to manage your editorial calendar.
You set tasks around research, liaising with writers or photographers, the brief, editing, layout, proofreading and sign off.
The priority feature is available on the desktop version of Planner for now – and it’s on its way for mobile devices.
Of course, there are many stand-alone project management tools out there. The beauty of having something like Planner within Office 365 (Premium, Business and Educational users) is it’s all fully integrated with the other applications.
You don’t need to switch to other apps (and, of course, you save having to pay a separate, additional subscription for that other brand’s management tool).
Bear in mind the more corporate the client, the more likely it is they will be using some form of communications hub, such as the Teams app in Office 365.
The more you get used to this more integrated way of working, the better you will be able to market your services to the bigger businesses.
And if they’re not working that way, you can always offer that as a suggestion to them for greater clarity, productivity and performance.
Are you using Planner? Leave me a comment and let me know.
One of the advantages of using Microsoft Office 365 is that incremental improvements are being made all the time.
You don’t have to wait a year or until a new version comes out to benefit from the changes.
And it’s interesting to note where Microsoft is putting its money. Investment is going into six key areas: productivity, knowledge, workflow, security, compliance and management.
Which can only be good news if you’re a VA using, or looking to use Office 365.
What’s coming up?
Here are just a few of the developments on the way or already in place:
Microsoft Teams has private channels, multi-window chats and task integration with To-Do and Planner. Improvements are being made to how it connects with Outlook to make collaboration easier.
A new version of the Microsoft Edge browser is due for release in the New Year to boost productivity – and link nicely with an integrated Bing search engine.
Microsoft is also phasing in a new Office app for mobile devices – which will include Word, Excel and PowerPoint in one app. No need to download each application separately. It should make content creation ‘on the go’ much easier.
Expect to see developments designed to break down barriers between apps – to create more seamless collaboration – and the rise of voice-controlled activity (for example, to catch up on and respond to emails hands-free).
Intense focus on maximising the possibilities of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has led to function ideas like entering data into Excel with a digital pen, the option to transcribe an audio file into a written Word document and a coaching tool for those who present in PowerPoint.
What is clear is that Microsoft wants Office 365 to be the only application you need to get work done – productively, efficiently, securely and collaboratively.
As more features and integrations emerge, the need to buy separate apps, tools or platforms will continue to diminish.
That’s good news for the money-conscious VA who wants to be able to deliver a high level of service – without having to keep shelling out on all those extra monthly or annual subscriptions.
P.S. The money-conscious VA might also be interested to know that prices for Tomorrow’s VA Hub (the complete ‘box set’ of my online Microsoft Office courses) go up on 1st January 2020.
Act now and you can get lifetime access to ‘The Full Monty’ and never pay a penny more (even when new courses are added to the set). Beat the price rise and sign up before 31st December.