How to construct a blog – top tips!

When you’ve made a decision to start a blog it can seem like a daunting task. There’s the worry about what to write about, as well as keeping it interesting AND committing to actually write content on a regular basis… and that before you’ve even started to think about how to actually construct a blog! Continue reading “How to construct a blog – top tips!”

Become a VA: Step 7 – Social Media and Your VA Business

For the past 6 weeks, I have shared 6 tips that I hope are helping you to launch, grow and boost your VA business.

Are you putting them into action?  Which has been your favourite?  Which have you found the easiest or the hardest to apply?

This week I want to talk about ‘How to use social media to boost interest in your VA services’.

Regularly when I ask VAs or Business Owners in general why they are on social media, they tell me its because someone else told them to be on it.  A lot of them think Social Media is a waste of time, or they say “I don’t have time to get round to doing it”. But are just doing it for the sake of it.

Well the reality is, if you think about how many people you could get exposed to, online, it’s actually far greater than what you would be able to achieve in terms of the number of people you would meet if you were going to your local networking meeting.  As an example, when I look at my 576 LinkedIn connections, I could be connected to over 11,411,482 business connections world wide and that doesn’t take into consideration Twitter or Facebook.  The potential is far reaching.

Although I say, you rule social media and social media doesn’t rule you.  It is imperative that you are consistent in your approach and have a strategy of what you are trying to achieve with your interaction.  I always recommend having a social media strategy and a social media plan, so that you know what you are writing about every week.

There are literally hundreds of social media platforms available but you don’t need a presence on all of them.  Think about where your ideal client is and the platforms they are using and then use those platforms. 

1580-businessFacebook

Facebook is an ideal platform for Business to Consumer type businesses – it’s a great way to showcase your expertise, link to helpful articles and build relationships with potential clients.  Your posts have great longitivtiy and visual content works well on Facebook.  However, it can be a slow process to build your likes and gain traction, so remember this is part of the long game and not a short term social media platform.

social-network_110002685-012814-intTwitter

Twitter is great for Business to Business interactions and Business to Consumer.  It can be fast, fun and addictive and a great tool for signposting individuals to your other platforms.  You can ask advice, give advice and share articles.  Business colleagues of mine, recently described Twitter as “going to the pub and being able to ask the silly questions”.

linkedinLinkedIn

Someone new joins LinkedIn every second.  It is seen as the number one  social media tool for Business.  Often regarded as the more formal social media networks, it is used by professionals in all fields. It encompasses the ability to give and receive recommendations. LinkedIn works really well for relationship building.  I recently wrote a guest blog for the Virtual Assistant Coaching and Training Company on the subject of 15 steps to creating a professional LinkedIn profile. I also posted a post about why you need a company LinkedIn page which I thoroughly recommend.

So feel free to connect with me on the Social Media Platforms mentioned by clicking on the name of the platform below (it turns into a hyperlink) and if you connect after reading this blog please do tell me:

Facebook

Twitter

LinkedIn


Have you enjoyed the Blog series?  Has it left you thinking that you need more information about setting up as a Virtual Assistant before you make the transition?

Learn the Key Strategies of What You Need to Know When Becoming a VA &

Learn if this industry is for you..
…in our half-day taster sessions priced at only £37!
Nothing ventured nothing gained!

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Is this you?…

  • Are you a PA who’s a mother, soon to retire or being made redundant and now interested in becoming a Virtual Assistant and yet you are not quite ready to go ahead?
  • Have you conducted lots of research yet still not sure if becoming a VA is for you, perhaps you are a little scared of setting up your own VA business or are nervous about taking a leap of faith?
  • Is this a venture you are looking to start in a few months’ time yet want to get a full understanding before you are ready to get going?
  • Do you need to know the basics first before you fully commit to any full training or business building?
  • Do you want someone who is an experienced expert to guide you towards what is essential for you to know, prior to getting started, so that you start on the right footing avoiding the costly mistakes many makes?  Hindsight is a wonderful thing!

Join us in London for a Taster Session on Thu 4 Dec at 1330, Premier Inn Meeting Rooms, Euston.  To learn more or to book click here.


Stand out from the crowd with Sales – Guest Post by Steve Clarke

This week we are lucky enough to have a Guest Blog from Steve Clarke of Eureka Sales.  I have learnt loads from Steve’s #salesmadesimple video series so I am delighted he is sharing this blog with us this week.

If you are serious about having a successful business today – It’s vital that you stand out from the crowd… (for the right reasons).

If you interact on-line or off-line with clients – you’re in sales.

If you speak or present to clients – you’re a speaker.

To increase sales and profits… You MUST be the best you can be at sales, marketing and speaking… Speaking let’s you massively leverage your time! It puts your marketing on legal steroids!

This means we must rid of death by PowerPoint presentations. We’ve all sat through them, how did it make you feel…? It’s not what you do is it…? Is it?

You must learn to speak and write with passion, enthusiasm and integrity, whatever your field. You must discover how to truly engage with people… And we pretty much all engage at an emotional level. Not a bullet point and graph level, not a dull monotone voice level.

Can you imagine going to a west end show, or watching you’re favourite drama, soap or documentary on TV – to watch the actor or presenter just reading from their notes…

Sales Lead Word Cloud Concept AngledIf you know your topic, your product or service – get rid if the notes and learn how to speak from the heart… It will transform you and your results. It makes you far more enjoyable to listen to and gets your message across far better too. I know that can sound scary…

I’ve seen “speakers” having to rely on loads of complicated slides to explain their message. What does that do for the audience? What does it tell you about their belief in their product or service?

I’ve even seen presenters having to hold and read from their laptops when technology failed and they couldn’t run the slide show. What? They don’t know their topic enough to just speak? It’s not that tough, and there are simple skills we can all master to become better speakers and presenters, 1-2-1, one to a boardroom or one to a ballroom.

If you want to be a professional speaker and get paid to travel the world and speak as I do, or simply want to improve your presentation skills for your day to day business – I’d love to help you.

To succeed you must discover the secrets that allow you to communicate effectively.

Consider these elements when you next present or PITCH

  • Passion
  • Integrity
  • Tonality
  • Connection
  • Humour 

There are simple yet effective ways to structure your talk. When you learn certain simple techniques, you can deliver your message in 30 seconds, 10 minutes or a day long seminar… With confidence and ease. It all becomes fun, for all involved.

All these skills transfer into email, web copy etc too… wherever you need to communicate.

Steve is hosting an event on 9 December which is called Life’s a Pitch…. and then you buy (two).  If you would like more information about the event click here or send me a message, I plan to be at the event and so it would be great to share the day with you.

 

Steve Clarke Banner

Become a VA: Step 6 – Become a Networking Success Story

Do you worry about Networking? Even seasoned Business Owners occasionally worry about networking, so don’t worry if you have that feeling of dread right now. But get networking right it can make a massive difference to your positioning in the business market!

Before I share some tips for getting your networking established, here are some of my favourite quotes about networking:

It isn’t just what you know, and it isn’t just who you know. It’s actually who you know, who knows you, and what you do for a living.  – Bob Burg

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  – Maya Angelou

Networking – What to Consider

Would you do business with someone you don’t know, or didn’t like or trust? NO! So in turn how can you expect people to do business with you if they don’t know you?

Building relationships with people is important because, not only do you see whether your first judgements were correct, you grow to like, trust and respect that person and want to support them as well as the fact that you want that person to get to know you – so they can support you also. It all goes hand-in-hand doesn’t it?

People do business with those they know, like and trust.

Be clear on who your want to connect with

1404-businessAs part of your networking strategy become clear about the type of contacts you want to connect with.

If you have a niche, start to investigate where your niche do their networking. There could be industry related organisations, which hold events such as exhibitions or conferences. There could be meet-ups around the country. Source them and then attend as a visitor to get a feel for them.

Not Making the Time to Network – Big Mistake!

Working for yourself, time is of the essence, however, sparing the time to go to networking meetings every month will help to put your business on the map, help you develop your presentation skills; build your confidence in presenting your business to prospective clients and in yourself.

Ring-fence the time in your diary and respect your own business – it will only continue to grow if you continue to lay the foundations and grow your connections.

Your clients should respect that you are a business and are a growing one; any client who values their business should understand this.   Have updates with your clients and plan ahead with them when you are out of the office, even better, organise your associates to support your clients when you are out for the day.

On a slightly sour note, you need to go networking as what happens if you lose a client and need to fill that space with another; if you haven’t taken the time to network – its much harder to fill that slot.

social-network_110002551-012814-intNetworking Online

Networking online should not replace networking in person, although many VAs take on clients having only ever met via social media.

However, there still has been the process of building the trust. Get clear about the outcomes you want to achieve as a result of attending networking meetings over a period of time, perhaps work over a three month period at a time and ensure that online networking forms part of your strategy.

What Do You DO? – Get Clear About What You’re Offering!

I don’t think I know a single VA who has not been stumped by this question as some point in their networking. When promoting your expertise at a networking meeting you need to be clear about the benefits of using your VA services not the features so that you are answering the question “What’s in it for me?”.

When at a networking event and someone asks you what you do, be careful that you are not going into sales mode with them and start telling them what they could need…what they want to know is, who you work with, what services you provide and how your clients benefit from all of this.

Follow Up and One to Ones

The key to any good networking is in the follow up and in getting to know each of the other person in more in-depth. If someone has shown an interest, offered you a referral or you have offered to send them a piece of information, make sure you follow up. Otherwise it doesn’t create the best impression and you could end up losing business to another VA.

You can also follow up with them by connecting and conversing via social media. The more the two of you understand about one another’s businesses, the more likely the trust builds and referrals are generated.

You might also like to read my 3 Tips for Successful Business Networking blog.

Next week, we will start to look at Social Media and how you can use it in your VA business.

VACT-Logo-Green_png-250pxAmanda Johnson of Your Executive Secretary Limited is a licensed Trainer of the VACT.  If you would like to book yourself on the next Taster Session in your area then please click here or if you would like to book a free 30 minute breakthrough call then click here

Become a VA: Step 5 – Getting the Financials Right

The 5th step in this 7 step process is getting the financials right. Getting your finances right can be the difference between being effective and successful in your VA business and failing.

Talk to an Accountant

Personally, I spoke to an Accountant in the pre-launch phase, to determine whether Your Executive Secretary should be a Sole Trader or a Limited Company as this can alter the decisions you make about your finances. Most Accountants will offer a free consultation.

safe_image-2.php_Even in the early days as you start launching your VA business, it is very important that you know your numbers and have a system for keeping accurate records on what goes on. A lot of VAs struggle with this area, as it feels a little like throw a feather in the wind and see which way it blows – thats how to do your finances!  No be honest and realistic with yourself, this is your business.

Create a Sales Forecast

If you started out in your business without
 a business plan then go back and create 
one NOW!

Without this you cannot determine where you want the business to go, and therefore, you certainly cannot forecast what you want to achieve financially. I know it is a hard thing to do. Once you have the Business Plan, you then need to create a Sales Forecast. It doesn’t need to be a complex document, but you need to ensure you record what financial target you want to reach annually and quarterly. Personally, when I set a sales forecast for my VA business, articulating what I wanted to earn, I was far more accountable and started achieving the figures. Whereas without, well….. can I avoid answering that one!

Fees and Charging

How do you feel about charging? There are some VAs who start out by not charging at all 
in order to gain experience, some will charge an extremely low hourly rate in order to be competitive then, you have some VAs charging higher rates – charging their worth. I never advise anyone to start out by giving
 their services for free UNLESS it is in exchange 
for someone’s service or product with the same or greater value, which is called bartering or a trade.

Success Failure Buttons Shows Successful Or FailingBy charging a low rate with the view you will be seen as competitive will result in you offering your service for not much return and working long hours to achieve your desired income. You may possibly be seen as desperate, not offering quality, attract the wrong type of client who doesn’t value your service and may even pay you late and or not at all. It can also lead to resentment as time progresses.

Remember “Like attracts like.”

Your research is critical here to knowing your target clients and what the services they are likely to want/need and what they are prepared to pay.

If your niche is a specialist service you provide, then you could charge a different or premium price for that service.

Clients want a VA who values their own business and will create the right impression for their clients by wanting to make a difference. As I mentioned before, like attracts like!

Next week, we talk about Networking and how it doesn’t have to feel scary.

VACT-Logo-Green_png-250pxAmanda Johnson of Your Executive Secretary Limited is a licensed Trainer of the VACT.  If you would like to book yourself on the next Taster Session in your area then please click here or if you would like to book a free 30 minute breakthrough call then click here

 

Become a VA: Step 4 – Create a Clear Message

A lot of VAs launch into their business, having looked around to see how others are describing themselves and then just follow suit.

But, what if you knew there was a more powerful way to get your message across that did NOT sound the same as everyone else?

Once you have identified your ideal clients or, taking it a step further, your niche, then you have to start thinking about how you are going to explain what you do when someone makes an enquiry, what to write on your website and what to say when you go to networking meetings.

Think about this – What is it about your VA business that will make your ideal client want to do business with you?  That is the clear message you should convey.

Benefits Definition Magnifier Showing Bonus Perks Or RewardsMany VAs will jump in and tell people what they believe to be the benefits of using a VA, such as saving you time and money, no overheads, only paying for the time you do the work etc etc!  However, I can tell you now that will not make you, as an individual, stand out from the crowd.  You want to get noticed for something different and it is that which will get you the business.

Your message needs to convey the benefits and be able to demonstrate clearly how you will support them and detail the results of that support over a long term period. You will also need to put across what that means to them and their business, the positive consequences of working with you.

Think about this – What is it about your VA business that will make your ideal client want to do business with you? Much of it is based on the fact that people like to do business with people they know, like and trust. So why should someone know, like and trust you?

hand shows target customers diagram on dirt backgroundFind an opportunity to grab potential clients attention first and
 the opportunity to keep them interested long enough to build that trust and demonstrate the value of using your services. Start with your marketing message. This is what people will be reading about you or hearing from you. Be clear in both your written and your verbal communications. Be consistent across the full spectrum of communications – don’t say one thing on one site and something else on another.

People want to know what you do, how you will work together, and what’s in it for them based on their profile as your ideal client.

Most people have an intention for their business or a desire for their lifestyle so you want to appeal to your prospective clients by word association. Therefore, to answer the question ‘what’s in it for me?’, use words associated with what you believe your niche intends or desires.

Have a unique selling point.

If you are to stand out as a sought after VA, then you need to be very clear about what you can do for your niche, how you help them with areas where they are struggling so that you can identify the benefits you can bring to the working partnership. What will be your unique selling point? Be Clear – Stand Out!

Put yourself into your ideal client’s shoes and think about what concerns and challenges they were experiencing.

Based on what answers you have gained through that exercise, turn the answers into questions or a statement, so that if this is something which they read on your website, or something you have written a blog about, they can easily identify with
you and you start to stand out.

So tell me in the Comments section below how you create your clear message or define your unique selling point.

Join me next week, where we will be talking about Charging your worth. 

VACT-Logo-Green_png-250pxAmanda Johnson of Your Executive Secretary Limited is a licensed Trainer of the VACT.  If you would like to book yourself on the next Taster Session in your area then please click here or if you would like to book a free 30 minute breakthrough call then click here

Become a VA: Step 3 – Selling isn’t a dirty word

Many VAs when they launch their business, initially think that the sales will come because they have a website, they are on social media, they are advertising in the local paper etc. Then they have an “Aha” moment and realize that they need to “sell” themselves – and all of a sudden they are terrified. Often scared that they are not good at it.

Panic Or Calm Signpost Showing Chaos Relaxation And RestThe mistake here is thinking that you have to “sell” yourself all of the time, that every networking meeting, chance meeting at the school gate is a “must sell” opportunity.

Yes there is a sales element to your business and it is important you get that bit refined.  However, DO remember that you have to first get people to know, like and trust you first and that you’re creating awareness of what you do and for whom.  Remember to be confident too, as this helps people to connect with you and trust you.

When you’re selling you must first aim to understand the problem that needs resolving, so step into the mind of the prospect and imagine what they’re thinking. They may have some resistance or hesitation on their part, in fact this may not be the first contact you are having with them.

Online Marketing Pyramid Showing Blogs Websites Social Media And Email ListsGenerally it takes between 7 and 14 touches before someone buys from you. A touch could be a discussion, an email, a business card, a flyer, a newsletter, a tweet or Facebook post etc. Remember in the previous steps I mentioned the importance of building relationships with people. You may be feeling frustrated that this isn’t the first conversation with them, however, one of the areas many VAs fail, or indeed other industries too, is in the fact they forget to remember that the prospect may not be ready right now to buy or they may have objectives, concerns or an unclear understanding of how you can help solve their problems.

Therefore, think about the following…

  1. What objections could a potential client have. Remember that objections don’t necessarily mean No – they just need to understand the value. How you respond could determine the outcome. You could say things such as “I can see why you might think that.”, or “I understand why you would believe that.”, or “That’s a great question…”.
  2. They may have a number of problems that they need solving in their business and they want to understand how you can solve those problems or what solutions you may have to their challenges.
  3. They may be conscious about money and think you might be an expense they don’t need. Your aim is to help them understand the benefits to working with you and therefore the value you can add to their business, instead of being a drain on their financial resources.
  4. They want to know that working with you from the start will be easy. You will probably have a system for conducting your new client consultation, where you will implement a process to get started with them. They may be thinking that there is so much to get done and to teach you about their business and even feel overwhelmed by this, especially as they’re busy.

If you can prepare how you will handle these scenarios then your sales process will be much more effective.

Your prospective client wants to know that you can deliver amazing value, an excellent service with great support, that you have (in some cases) relevant experience or at least understand what their challenges in business are, that you’re forward thinking, proactive instead of reactive and at the end of the day, above all else, what will really sell it to them, is that you can help them to become more productive too, so that they can focus on achieving those very important goals. Those important goals will determine for them their business success and the impact on their personal life too.

Next week, we will start to look at how you market yourself and your VA business.

VACT-Logo-Green_png-250pxAmanda Johnson of Your Executive Secretary Limited is a licensed Trainer of the VACT.  If you would like to book yourself on the next Taster Session in your area then please click here or if you would like to book a free 30 minute breakthrough call then click here

Become a VA: Step 2 – Identifying your Niche

Finding the right clients for your business, means that you will need to market yourself and your VA business. The businesses you ultimately work with need to know, like and trust you – in the same way, it is important for you as the VA to know, like and trust your clients.

Identifying your Ideal Client and Niche

Marketing your VA business is basically relationship building – getting businesses to get to know, like and trust you. As part of your brand awareness you are allowing businesses to witness what you are all about, what you can do, what you help businesses to achieve and where you add value. Marketing is also about ATTRACTING the IDEAL client who has a NEED and WANTS your services.

Who Needs And Wants Your Services?

Well, you may believe, as many do, that all businesses need a VA!!!!  However, it’s important to close the net and start to focus on specific businesses so that you have more of an opportunity to stand out from other VAs. This is where having a niche comes in.

Have a Clear Message

It is better to communicate a very clear message direct to certain businesses which connects with what their particular needs or concerns are, so that you can actually provide the solutions for those particular needs and concerns.  In addition, it can cost you a lot of money trying to market yourself to every business, however, by having a niche, it means your marketing efforts can be much more cost effective, more targeted and consistent and achieve better results.

Your Niche

IMG_1056The majority of VAs launch after working with a particular industry and so choose this to be their niche, as they already have a working knowledge of the issues that clients in these areas face – BUT – I know this isn’t always relevant or right for you. Take me…. My background was over 22 years in the military, the military doesn’t use external admin support (apart from government contracts) and so I needed to think about the skills I had and niche that way.

You don’t have to niche on day one – it can help, but sometimes working with lots of people initially can help you determine the niches or the areas you want to work with (or not as the case may be).

Once you have a clearer idea, step into the shoes of your potential clients and think like them. What support would you find useful? What would you want your VA to know about you? What challenges and concerns do you have that a VA could create solutions and results to?

Research You could also do some research and find out from them what they actually want and need, because once you have identified these points you will then create the service that fits as well as a marketing campaign that creates awareness that you are the solution to those needs.

Don’t worry, identifying your niche can be a pretty hard thing to do, personally it took me nearly 12 months. So don’t let it stop you launching your VA business!

Next week – we talk about Mastering the Art of Sales.

VACT-Logo-Green_png-250pxAmanda Johnson of Your Executive Secretary Limited is a licensed Trainer of the VACT.  If you would like to book yourself on the next Taster Session in your area then please click here or if you would like to book a free 30 minute breakthrough call then click here

 

Become a VA – 7 Steps to become a VA

Are you looking for an alternative to life in the corporate world? With many PAs looking for an alternative to working as a PA, to enable them more of a work-life balance and stress-free existence, or facing redundancy what is the answer?

Naturally, like many PAs who have made the transition to Virtual Assistant (VA), you, of course, will want to ensure you have your questions answered and do it all right.

Training VAOver the next 7 weeks I am going to be sharing with you the 7 steps to launching and boosting your VA business so that you can confidently hit the ground running and start seeing results.

In some cases, its not so much a step but a mistake to avoid that will allow you to successfully launch and grow your VA business.  The thing is you must stand out from the crowd, if you do what everyone else is doing, you will just blend in.

This is about working on you first and then helping your prospective clients to notice you – so that you can command the fees you are worth and create a business which earns you the income you want and work the hours you choose.

YES this CAN be achieved.

Step 1. Vision – start with the end in mind

If you don’t know where you’re going, how are you going to get there? You’ve probably heard this many times but have you applied this wisdom to your business lately?

With the need to bring in business, keep clients happy, chase invoices and keep the wheels of business turning, it’s really easy to forget why you’re doing it and what you’re aiming for. The simplest way to re-energise your business is to work out what you’re aiming to achieve and GO FOR IT with laser focus!!

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How do you want your business to look in a year, two years, five years?
  • What are you aiming for?
  • How many hours do you want to work? Who would you like to be working with?
  • How will your business fit into your life, going forward?
  • What’s your exit strategy for your business?
  • Will you sell it, shut it down, get someone else to run it, franchise it? Have you even thought about it?

And once you get clear on how you want your business and life to look, you can make decisions based on it. You can decide what is ‘good business’ (ie takes you closer to your vision) or ‘bad business’ (takes you further away from your vision). But if you don’t know how you want your business to look, how can you make decisions? How will you know if something is just a distraction?

Get really clear on how you want you life to look – how much you want to earn, how many hours you want to work, how many holidays/ vacations you’d like, when you’d like to give up work – in as much detail as you can. Then see how your business can help you achieve that.

Next week – we will clarify who are your ideal clients and whether you need to have a niche market.

VACT-Logo-Green_png-250pxAmanda Johnson of Your Executive Secretary Limited is a licensed Trainer of the VACT.  If you would like to book yourself on the next Taster Session in your area then please click here or if you would like to book a free 30 minute breakthrough call then click here

Runner Up – VA of the Year (Southern Region) – Sep 14

I am absolutely delighted to share with you that I was awarded Runner-Up in the VA of the Year Southern Region as part of the VA Conference and BeMyVA VA Awards.

The awards took place at Sandy Park, Exeter (more commonly known as Exeter Chiefs Rugby Ground) on 23 September 2014,

Award and Fizz!

2014 saw a new format for the VA industry awards with it being the first time there were Regional Awards for Virtual Assistants. The Regional Awards provided recognition for a VA’s work in their area – and the awards themselves are the first step towards the Grand Finals of the UK Awards that will be presented at the Annual VA Conference.

The VA of the Year Category – 
The ultimate recognition of excellence within the industry.  The judges were looking to find the champions of good practice for Virtual Assistants and they were particularly keen to assess the candidate’s passion for their business and their awareness of vision, purpose and values – and how that is applied to their successful business model.

 

To be part of this category VA’s needed to have been in business over 12 months on 31 January 2014 – I had been in business 13 months!

Being presented Runner Up of the Year AwardI am thrilled to have been recognised for my achievements in building a unique, innovative and effective Virtual Assistant Business supporting clients across many geographical areas and ultimately helping them to achieve their goals and dreams.

In the last couple of months, my business has grown – I now have a small team of Associates supporting clients and I also now a licensed trainer for the VA Coaching and Training Company – helping develop either those interested in joining the industry or new VAs grow their business. The next 12 months are going to be very exciting. Ensure you sign up to the newsletter (over on the right hand side of the screen) to keep up to date with what is going on.