There are quite a few buzzwords floating around these days, aren’t there?
Ones I hear include the following.
Distributed global workforce.
These words and phrases are on-trend because the nature of business is changing – and changing pretty fast.
Lean is all about eliminating waste and increasing operational efficiency. Companies look at ways to streamline their processes and offer greater value for clients and customers.
Agile is about an approach that encourages employees to work how, when and where they want. Leaders are beginning to understand the performance and health benefits of allowing their people greater flexibility.
We haven’t quite reached the paperless office but the world is increasingly digital. More and more invoicing, document signing, and collaborate creation and editing, is now done online.
Collaboration is the buzz word of the moment. It’s all about how you can get people working together faster, smarter and with better results. Two reasons it’s so on-trend right now are the rise of remote working and the more widely distributed workforces of growing global brands.
Companies are making different use of office space. They want to work smarter. So it’s not about having the biggest buildings or having all your staff in one place.
Today, increasing numbers of employees work together from different parts of the country and globe.
They can do so because of advancements in communications and data technology. You can share your computer screen with people anywhere in the world and collaborate in real-time.
There’s a move towards smaller, more flexible meeting space. You may have heard of the words agile, hub, hive, ideation, stand-ups, scrum, huddle creeping into conversations.
Which can only be a good thing for the VA who knows her stuff.
Companies and small business owners are becoming used to working with people remotely – on the phone, via video conferencing, through online meetings and collaboration tools.
So working with a VA appears a very natural way of getting things done.
And the more you know about the applications and collaborative functions within Microsoft Office 365, the more your skills and knowledge will appeal to potential clients.
You may even find yourself knowing more things than the people you work for. You may have opportunities to share the advantages of features like Teams, which remove the need to rely on Zoom and make real-time collaboration easier.
When you are able to help clients save time, money and hassle they will love you for it.
And, of course, being super-efficient and productive yourself gives you the same lift.
It gives you time back for you. Time back for your family. Time to rest, refresh and re-energise. Maybe even out that work-life balance a little more in favour of you.
Lean into the lean world. Adapt to the agile ways of working in business today. Be confident with your communications and collaborations.
P.S. If you are ready to improve your Microsoft Office skills, take a look at my range of online training courses. Learn what you need when you want, where you want and at your own pace.
This could be a very busy time for the smart VA. Demand for your services may be about to go up!
Increasing numbers of entrepreneurs, business owners and the self-employed are turning to online delivery of services.
That creates opportunities to service and support them with your skills, experience and knowledge.
Many out there will lack confidence or know-how in the tech side of things. Most will want ways to hold virtual meetings or video conference calls. Many will be working out and testing their options for presenting, speaking, teaching, training.
There is going to be a strong and rapid rise of online programs, courses and products. People will be wanting to launch their new ‘babies’ in the coming weeks and months.
This means campaigns. Sales funnels. The need for lead magnets, landing pages, sales pages, email sequences and more.
Which is potentially very good news for the pro-active VA. The one who knows her stuff. The one who can deliver quality on time, every time. The one who understands how to be more visible out there.
This is a time to be the ideal VA, like my character Veronica the F.R.O.G.
F.R.O.G. stands for Fast, Reliable, Organised and Great.
Here is where you are most likely to see demand for your services.
Communication and Collaboration Tools for Remote Teams
With more and more employees and professionals working from home, companies are going to be making greater use of online tools.
That means the VA who knows her onions when it comes to Microsoft Teams is going to have an advantage. It’s an ideal solution for corporates and smaller businesses.
It keeps everything in one space without having to jump out or switch to other apps. It offers video conferencing, virtual meeting, screen sharing and online collaboration options.
And if you want to get to grips with the essentials of MS Teams for yourself, I already have a comprehensive MS Teams course for the smarter VA. What’s more, to help during these strange times, there is currently 25 per cent off the normal price.
Do check it out if you’ve not done so already. It’s super value.
Content Creation and Marketing Campaigns
There are going to be many small businesses, entrepreneurs and solopreneurs right now busy doing one of three things. Creating content, creating online courses or running campaigns.
A good portion of them are likely to need or want support with putting all that together.
That could be you setting up the tech side of things – like creating and designing web pages, ensuring links work, setting up autoresponder sequences for emails, and putting shopping carts and payment systems in place.
That could be you creating the content for lead magnets. Things like eBooks, reports, white papers, infographics, checklists, questions for surveys or even scripts for videos.
That could be you putting together a PowerPoint presentation for a webinar or webinar series. As you may have noticed, webinars are proving really popular right now. The business and marketing gurus are telling people to use them as a ‘fast track’ to sales, so you know what’s going to happen.
That could be you creating posts for Instagram or other social media.
It can all be done using the power of Microsoft Office. You just need to know-how. That way you can spend more time serving and supporting, and less time fathoming things out each time.
If you’re not already fully au fait with how to put this stuff together in Word or PowerPoint, my dedicated online courses can get you up to speed fast.
My trainings are lean and cosy. No waffle. No obscure bits you will never need. No nonsense. Just you and me together. I take you through each task or function step by step, whether you’re on PC or Mac.
You see every single move of the mouse, every single click, every single dropdown menu or tab. It’s as if I’m there by your side.
When you consider what knowing this stuff could mean for your business, the value is plain to see. And you can save even more if you go for ‘The Full Monty’ and sign up for my complete box set of online courses. You can be part of the Tomorrow’s VA Hub in moments with a couple of clicks.
The opportunities are out there. Get ready to support and serve.
A question I find that I am being asked at least once a week is – I know I need a VA as I am totally overwhelmed, but how do I know what she should do? This post is a response to that question and It is a composite post with help from a group of Vas who gave me some great assistance in things clients should be thinking about.
You know how it is, you set up your business for a reason. You had all these great ideas of how you are going to help the world with your brilliance. And then… Then you find that when running a business there are so many jobs to do. Many of these jobs are repetitive, mundane even and really don’t light your fire. But YOU have to do them, right? It would cost too much to outsource them to someone else wouldn’t it?
Would it? Really?
Think about it for a moment. How much is it costing your business for you to spend your time doing those jobs that you hate – that someone else might really love. It could be taking you 2 hours to update your website whereas a VA who knows how to use the various website tools will do it in one. That two hours is costing you. Costing you whatever your hourly rate works out as along with resentment and frustration as it takes so long to get things done.
So – how do I know what to ask a VA to do?
Start by making a list. Work out what your business process is, do you have a process? Think about all the things that you do on a day to day basis and make a list.
Here are some things to get you thinking.
What are the day to day jobs that take up your time
What saps your energy
Could someone else do your book keeping
Formatting documents, do you need to spend the time on that or could you simply get the content written and hand it over to someone else to format
Answering the phone – do you want to have your business number answered by a real live human who can ask intelligent questions and pass on a message
Manage your diary – could someone else manage which meetings you accept or decline?
Send email on your behalf
Update your website
Schedule your newsletter
Update your blog
Find relevant images
Book your travel
Liaise with clients
Send out joining instructions for courses
The list goes on. Keep on adding to the list until you have worked out what makes up your day. Then take a long hard look at the list.
Ask – do I need to do it?
Ask yourself this. Do I need to do this task? Go through your list and evaluate each one. Then imagine how you would feel if someone else took the tasks that you don’t enjoy and did them in less time and to a better standard that you do? Here are some thoughts:
When you know what needs to be done and how to do it, then you can ask someone else to do it for you. You will have a clear idea of what needs to be done and to what standard.
How do you find a VA?
So, you have decided you do want to work with a VA. How do you find one? Ask for recommendations and look for people online, via social media and at networking events. Go with your gut as you need to make sure the feel is right. If you can’t find anyone using these methods approach a VA coach as they will be able to recommend a few. You could look at VACT – The Virtual Assistant Coaching and Training Company run by Amanda Johnson or VIPVA run by Charlotte Wibberly. I know both Amanda and Charlotte and they are both experts in their niche.
Here are some questions you need to answer about how you and your new VA will work
How will your VA cover holidays/illness – does that matter? How important is it?
Do you need set hours or is your work project based so they can work to suit themselves but focused on deadlines and the output?
How often do you want to review progress/delivery etc with your VA?
Where is your VA based – does this matter to you? Are you happy to work 100% remotely or do you want to be able to meet up occasionally?
Is your VA insured, registered with the ICO – what security do they have in place while working for your business?
Are you happy with the terms/pricing? What do you need to do if you want to make a complaint?
Do you want someone with ideas who will help you develop your business or someone who will just “do tasks”? What more can they bring to your business?
Do they work in a similar way to you – do they complement you as an opposite as an example a logical person working with a creative?
Do they use compatible systems – are they a Windows user, MAC, GSuite?
Do you need someone who is available all the time and so need cover while you are away?
Do you need to be able to get hold of them whenever you want rather than wait for set times?
Do they have a wide network of people they can call on to bring extra skills to your business?
Do they have recommendations? Have you heard good things about them?
Are they GDPR compliant and do they have the relevant documentation
Once you have found your ideal VA you need to agree on how you will work together, how will you communicate? Email, mobile, WhatsApp, Messenger etc. You will need to agree a Service Level Agreement – how long do things take. What kind of turnaround do you expect? Clear instructions are key.
If you had a full time or part time employee, you would have a contract of employment. It is just as important to have a contract with your VA. It should cover everyone’s responsibilities and things like SLA (Service Level Agreement) turnaround time, how many hours you are purchasing and how much you expect to pay. You can find contracts to use with a VA at KoffeeKlatch – KoffeeKlatch run by the redoubtable Annabel Kaye specialises in providing contractual support the people who work with Freelancers and they have some specialist contracts for working with a VA.
VA’s will charge by the hour or they may have a package deal for so many hours or a retainer agreement. You will need to work out what you need/want. You could try it out on an hourly basis for a month and see how the work stacks up, then decide if you need a package deal or a retainer.
You need to have some flexibility when working with a VA – remember they are human too and have a family life. You may be working with a VA who has small children – she can work when they are at school or when they are in bed and so you may find that you get things back in the middle of the night. That is her preferred way of working. It does not mean that you can ask for something to be done at 5pm and expect it back by midnight! Just like any person who works with you, suitable deadlines need to be agreed upfront.
Look for someone who has the skills you need. If you want someone to manage a project, then a social media VA might not be the best fit!
I think it is important to find someone with the right personality to match yours – so you find it easy to work with them and trust them.
You need to have a good – no great – feeling about working with your new VA. You will be working with them a long time and they will become an integral part of your business. A great VA will spot opportunities for her clients and help them grow.
I hope I have answered some of the questions, I am sure there are more. Leave me a comment below to let me know if this has helped!