How a Virtual Assistant can turn you in to a social media butterly

If you’ve been following our blog for any amount of time, or if you ever see our other posts, you might have noticed that we think social media is an essential part of the marketing mix for any business.  Even more so for smaller businesses as it offers a fantastic cost-effective way of getting word out about the services/products you provide.

As a result, we’re always banging on about how vital it is you get involved with social media marketing.

The problem is though that social media can actually work against you if you don’t offer consistency.  Posting as and when you remember to, or when you can finally find the time at the end of a busy week is not good enough.

You need to think about what you want to achieve, decide how you’re going to do it, make a plan, and then stick to it.  All of which takes a lot of time, which you might not have if you’re busy doing everything else your business needs.

Hiring a virtual assistant with social media management experience is a great way to outsource these time consuming tasks, and take your social networking and marketing to the next level.

Here at Time Saving Heroes we can:

  1. Create social media accounts, profiles and company pages
  2. Create groups on LinkedIn and fan pages on Facebook etc
  3. Manage and generate followers on Twitter
  4. Manage activity on Pinterest (creating, identifying and pinning images)
  5. Scheduling and posting Tweets, tracking hashtags and mentions
  6. Uploading videos to YouTube
  7. Moderating and responding to comments on social media sites
  8. Answering messages and queries via social media channels
  9. Create lists on YouTube and Twitter to better manage your accounts
  10. Share important updates, news and content

 

One of the biggest problems with social media is how distracting it can be.  You log on to respond to a message, and three hours later you’re caught in a loop looking at videos of cats.

Don’t get us wrong, we love cats (Lu even has a Maine Coon cross called Kit Kat) but we’ve probably seen all the videos so tend to just get on with work now. With over 7 years’ experience of posting on various sites and managing a wide variety of business pages, there’s not a lot we’ve not come across.

 

To find out how you can benefit from our experience to help your business give us a call on 0161 883 2024 or email lu@timesavingheroes.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help.

 

 

 

Why your Virtual Assistant is your best friend

In the past we’ve looked at the different ways a Virtual Assistant can help you in your business.  So far we’ve talked about digital marketing tasks, outsourcing your communications, handling your social media and managing the backend processes every business needs to thrive.

Today we thought we’d look at some of the other tasks a Time Saving Hero can take on for you, to free up your time to focus on the more important things only you can do.

For example:

  1. Managing your business calendar and diary
  2. Arranging, scheduling and managing your appointments
  3. Making plans and arrangements for your business travel
  4. Personal online shopper (for corporate gifts etc)
  5. Researching prices for materials, supplies etc
  6. Editing and proofreading documents
  7. Following up with clients, suppliers etc
  8. Preparing documents and Power Points for presentations and meetings
  9. Stock control
  10. Getting quotes for work or materials and equipment

Every business is different, therefore what you find is time consuming, someone else might not.  That’s why we work with you to establish how best we can help you.

If you want to find out more and just have a chat with one of our Time Saving Heroes to see how we can benefit your business, give us a call today on 0161 883 2024.

 

10 Questions to ask a Virtual Assistant BEFORE you hire them

If you’ve ever wished there were more hours in the day, or if you could clone yourself then it’s probably time you took on help.  For some people that might mean hiring staff, but not all businesses are in a financial position where they can handle that level of risk. Equally, some people really don’t want to deal with everything that having staff brings.

That’s where a Virtual Assistant can come in. No upfront costs, no training, no employee benefits, no need to find space for them or provide them with equipment, and you can be up and running within minutes.

However, we know finding the right Virtual Assistant isn’t always that easy.  It’s not a case of finding one online and saying “yeah, you’ll do”.  This person is meant to be your right hand (wo)man so you need to make sure you can work together. If you can’t, it doesn’t matter how good they are at their individual skills, it’s not going to work.

How do you find out though, at interview stage, if it’s a match made in heaven?  Whilst there’s no hard and fast rules, we’ve pulled together ** questions we think you should ask to find out more about your potential VA.

#1 – What are your core skills and services?

As with many roles, a VA doesn’t just do one thing, but equally that doesn’t mean they do all things brilliantly.

A good VA should have strong skills and extensive experience in admin settings, but they might also be proficient with social media, graphic design, website management, research, customer service, general organisation etc.

It’s important for you to know what they can offer, and what they might not be strong at so you can ascertain if they are right for your business needs.

# 2 – What’s your favourite way to communicate?

We all have a preference, for some they live on their phone, others are tied to their email. If you’re a phone person the last thing you want is to be forced in to emailing your VA if this isn’t natural of comfortable for you.

A good VA should be comfortable communicating whichever way feels best for you, but ask for clarification.

# 3 – What would you do if you realised you didn’t know how to do a task?

We all like to think we know everything, but the truth is, we don’t.  There might well be a time you ask your VA to do something they’re not able to do, which isn’t a problem; however, if they don’t handle it well it might be.

A VA that says “well, errr, I don’t know …” probably isn’t that experienced.  It’s happened to us all at some point, and there’s no shame in it.

# 4 – How do you manage conflicting deadlines, and what do you do if you realise you can’t meet them all?

Sometimes you take on work and suddenly realise there is no way you’re going to get everything done. We’ve all been there, and believe it or not, VA’s aren’t immune to this either. Whilst it might happen rarely, it is important you know what your VA would do if they were faced with it, and one of your tasks was going to get dropped.

# 5 – What do you think the biggest challenge would be in this role?

Every client brings their own challenges, and whilst no one wants to be potentially criticised, it’s also good to know your VA has given this particular relationship some thought.

A really good VA would already have highlighted potential sticking points, and will have come up with ways to handle them.

# 6 – You’re working on an urgent deadline, and your computer or internet crashes. What do you do?

Again, none of us are immune from the terrors of malfunctioning technology so it’s important to know what your VA would do if this happened whilst they were working on an urgent task for you.  Yes, they’re likely to have backups and contingency plans, but are they enough to make you feel happy should the need arise to use them?

# 7 – What are your schedule restrictions?

You might well want your VA to be available to you 24/7, but that’s unrealistic.  They are allowed a life too. Equally, you might want them to be able to respond to you during office hours, but is that practical if they have other clients?

They might be able to set aside specific days and times where they are open to your calls, or they may have a set turnaround time. Each VA works differently, and you need to make sure you’re happy working within their restrictions.

# 8 – Give an example of when you’ve proactively addressed a client’s needs

A good VA should do everything you ask them to, but an exceptional VA will do the things you don’t ask for. It can take a while, but if you have a good working relationship with your VA they will be able to anticipate your needs based on your previous requests and work habits.

# 9 – Have you ever challenged a client and suggested an alternative way of doing things?

We think one of the best things about a VA is that they’re not an employee.  They might be there to help you, but one of the best ways to do that is to bounce ideas around and provide suggestions.  They have their own experience, and they have no doubt worked within a wide number of businesses, and may have a few ideas you could benefit from.

A good VA won’t sit there and stay quiet.

# 10 – Have you ever sacked a client?

Sometimes relationships break down, and when this happens a VA is no longer effective.  It is a good idea to know if your VA has ever experienced this, and if so, what they did about it.  It will say a lot about them and their confidence.

Why are you wasting time on non money making tasks?

Here at Time Saving Heroes we know when you work for yourself you’re constantly trying to juggle the tasks you need to do to keep things ticking over, and those that will generate more income.  It’s not too bad at the beginning, when you’re just starting and maybe the phone doesn’t ring as much as you’d like. Then, the second the work starts pouring in, that takes your attention and everything else starts to slip just a little bit.

If you want to keep your eye on the strategic side of your business, why not consider outsourcing any of the following tasks to a Time Saving Hero?

  1. Receptionist duties (call answering, customer support)
  2. Lead generation (for example, LinkedIn)
  3. Creating forms
  4. Client invoicing (and sending quotes/estimates)
  5. Bookkeeping
  6. Expenses/mileage claims
  7. Preparing agendas for meetings
  8. Creation of document templates (or email templates)
  9. File organisation
  10. Data scraping/management

 

There’s so much more a Virtual Assistant can offer, but these are some of the key tasks that will allow you to focus on what you need to achieve to move your business forward.  Imagine how much more productive you could be if you weren’t constantly bogged down in the non-money making tasks that demand so much time?

To find out more simply give us a call on 0161 883 2024 or email hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help.

 

 

 

It’s not about the money, money, money

When I was younger I had a number of customer facing jobs. For the largest part, I loved them; however, the downside was often the customer. Despite what they tell you at Front of House School, the customer is not always right. In fact, the reality is, on occasion, the customer is just a pain in the proverbial.

As is often the case when you are a lowly waitress, retail assistant or bar maid it is easy to imagine what it might be like doing a job where you aren’t directly at the coal face, having to put up with people’s bad moods and attitudes. Of course, it doesn’t take long to realise that actually, no matter where you are in the hierarchy, the chances are you’re going to have to put up with someone’s sh!t. That’s employment.

So then, when you decide to embrace the life of the self-employed bod, it can be tempting to think you’ve finally broken free of the shackles, and you really can tell people where to go if you feel like it. Of course, you can even if you are employed, though it’s safe to say you’re unlikely to be welcomed back for your next shift (and yes, there does speak to the voice of experience).

My point is, when you run your own business you can be forgiven for thinking, initially, that you are completely autonomous; but you’re not. At least, not if you actually want to earn any money, which is kind of the whole point. If you want to pay the bills, you need to be able to send the invoices, which means, for at least a while, you’re going to have to take jobs where you can find them.

They might be poorly paid, not really worth it jobs; they might be too time consuming or it might be that the customer is a complete and utter [insert word of your liking here]. We’ve all been there, and that’s just one of the realities of business.

However, it doesn’t have to be for long. I remember when I just started out, a much respected client of mine told me that the ultimate goal, for him at least, was being able to cherry pick the work he did, and the people he did it for. His plan was to be in a position whereby he wanted to earn the money his clients would pay him, rather than having to earn it.

I didn’t think much of it at the time, other than being pleased his goal meant he needed an extra pair of hands, and therefore secured me a regular income stream. Now though, over three years later, I completely understand what he meant, and confess to having embraced the ideology myself.

When it comes to my clients I have one job: to make their life easier. It doesn’t matter what task they need completing – social media, content writing, credit control, research – I’m there to save them time so they can get on with the more pressing aspects of their business. And I’m damn good at my job. Not being arrogant, it’s just true.

That said, I realised while I was great at helping other people out with their time issues, I was getting bogged down in my own. I’d be chasing after potential leads I’d been passed, and spending not insignificant amounts of times warming people up. I’d go over proposals with them, sketch out complicated editorial calendars, listen to their insane to-do lists and come up with plans to help them move forward.

I invested.

After chasing and chasing I’d invariably get to the point of securing the deal, and starting work. Then, the inevitable happened. The client, who was never 100% in to begin with, didn’t engage. Therefore they didn’t see the benefit, and when cash flow became the slightest bit of an issue (which it invariably did because they weren’t actually engaging), I’d get binned.

And my invoices would go unpaid.

And my emails would go unanswered.

I am a huge fan of trusting your gut, sometimes you just get a feel that someone is going to be a bit too difficult to work with. Don’t get me wrong, I love a challenge, and I have clients who do challenge me; however, that’s because of the nature of their work, or the tasks they need me to do, not because of their attitude.

While I understand the argument that you have to be consistent and relentless in your pursuit of particular clients, I actually don’t bother myself. If you don’t want to work with me, that is fine; I have no interest in forcing you and badgering you. There are other clients who do want to work with me and they are deserving of my time, energy and efforts, so it’s no loss to me.

Laid out bear on the cold digital screen I know I may sound a little bitter and twisty, but actually it’s not about that. It’s about knowing my worth.

Do you know yours? Ask yourself, honestly, how much time do you spend chasing down things that are genuinely a waste of time at work? Maybe it’s not leads, or clients, maybe it’s using the wrong social media platform, or not automating your invoicing. Perhaps you’re spending too long managing your email, or you’re not compiling effective to do lists. Are you mis-managing your time, or taking forever to write a blog post that could easily be outsourced to someone else?

Now is as good a time as any to ensure you are using your time more productively.

Get a Virtual Assistant to say it for you

Here at Time Saving Heroes we know how hard it is for business owners to hand over any aspect of their customer service to a complete stranger.  Your customers are everything, and you want to make sure that every part of their interaction with your business goes smoothly, and leaves them wanting more.

We totally understand that.

However, communication is one of the most time consuming aspects of any business.  Answering the phone, dealing with queries, replying to emails, scheduling appointments – it all takes up a huge amount of man power.  And when there’s only you, or a small team, that’s a lot of hours lost that could be spent doing something else that could be earning more money.

It can seem daunting at first, but it’s important to remember one thing: as your business grows it will become impossible for you to manage this aspect on your own.

Once you can accept that fact it starts to make sense to outsource some of the work to someone else now, so you can get the right processes in place to make expansion even easier.

Here are just ten ways you can free up your time by allowing a Time Saving Hero to communication on your behalf:

  1. Sending cards, thank you’s and invitations
  2. Checking and responding to voicemail
  3. Filtering your inbox and deleting spam/junk mail
  4. Writing, editing and sending follow-up emails to clients
  5. Creating templates to answer common questions
  6. Proof-reading and editing outbound messages you’ve already drafted
  7. Providing live chat support to online visitors
  8. Making outbound calls
  9. Dealing with support tickets/complaints etc
  10. Answering all your calls and taking messages, dealing with queries or passing on information

 

There’s so much more a Virtual Assistant can offer, but these are some of the key tasks that will allow you to focus on what you need to achieve to move your business forward.  Imagine how much more productive you could be if you weren’t constantly distracted by a ringing phone or an email notification.

To find out more simply give us a call on 0161 883 2024 or email lu@timesavingheroes.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help.

 

 

 

If you leave your marketing until you have time, it’s too late

What do you do to promote your business?

Every business is different, but the one thing that’s always essential is marketing.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve got people forming an orderly queue for your services, you still need to market. NEVER make the mistake of thinking you’re busy, so it doesn’t matter.

Yes, you might well be busy, and therefore remembering to do all the important things like updating your blog or posting on social media can seem impossible.  But, the reality is, you should never wait until you’re quiet to promote your business.

That’s just insanity.

Hiring a virtual assistant can ensure that you can juggle everything that your business needs.  You can stay focussed on meeting new clients, or doing the physical work whilst a Time Saving Hero takes on all the time consuming, yet essential, digital marketing aspects.

Here at Time Saving Heroes we can:

  1. Manage your business blog
  2. Moderate comments via your blog, and respond where necessary
  3. Add images and tags to your blogs
  4. Create lists for email marketing campaigns
  5. Keep email lists up to date (adding and removing subscribers as necessary)
  6. Creating and scheduling newsletters and marketing emails
  7. Write blog posts
  8. Update content on your website
  9. Produce other content marketing material (infographics etc)
  10. Do research on keywords

 

If these are things that you keep meaning to do, but just can’t find the time for, get in touch with one of our Time Saving Heroes today.

Just give us a call on 0161 883 2024 or email lu@timesavingheroes.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help.