Three Ways to Make More Time

Ruth and I have just been to the Big Bolton Conversation, hosted by the fantastic team at theBestofBolton. I have to say, I was blown away by how well run the entire event was, and what an amazing mix of people were in the room.

As a featured supplier, Time Saving Heroes had the opportunity to have a stand in their “expo” section, which was great – as all exhibitors were B2B, and limited to one per industry.  People actually took the time to talk, and we made some fantastic connections we’ll need to touch base with later this week.

Going through the services we offer, and why we offer them, the dilemma of “too much to do, not enough time” kept coming up.  Obviously, it’s something we hear day in, day out with our existing clients, but it seemed particularly heightened today.

Many people want a quick fix, jokingly asking if we can turn their 24 hour days in to 33 hour ones instead.  Of course we can’t, but the truth is this question says a lot about our approach to managing our time.  Instead of wishing we had more, we need to be better at using what we’ve got.

Here at Time Saving Heroes that’s what we specialise in.  Working with what you’ve already got, and making it better.  You don’t need more time, you need to be more productive with the time you have.

On the drive from Bolton back to the office I got thinking about my top tips to help people manage this, and here they are:

 

#1 – Buy it

I’m always telling my clients they can do anything, but they can’t do everything.  The simple truth is if you take everything on there’s nowhere for you to go.  There reality is there are only so many hours in a day, and no matter how long you work, you can’t do it all.

The good news though is that you can buy time.  If you look at the tasks you currently spend time on, but don’t have to be dealt with by you, find a way to outsource these.  If you spend a lot of time trying to update your website, would it make more sense to pay a web developer to do it?  What about a bookkeeper to handle your accounts?  A Virtual Assistant might have all the necessary skills you need.

Whatever it is you need doing, there is someone out there who has the right skill set to be able to help you.

 

# 2 – Find it

It might seem like a daunting task, but actually taking the time to track how you spend your days is well worth it.  Logging everything you spend your time on, from personal tasks to replying to emails, will highlight all your many obligations throughout the day.

You can then sit and look through the things that are taking up your time that you don’t think are personally worth it.  Rather than adding more things to your list, you can see this as a golden opportunity to cut out the things that aren’t working or don’t really working.  This way, you can free up some of your time to focus on other things.

 

# 3 – Create it

OK, you can’t actually create time, but you can create the illusion of more.  For example, do you find yourself writing the same sort of emails day in, day out? Do you get similar questions from customers or clients?  If so, producing a standard response that you can send out with the click of a mouse is a great way to save yourself heaps of time every single day.

Rather than spending lots of time shuffling bits of paper around, why don’t you use something like Evernote to keep everything simple and organised in one place?  That way it’s always accessible as well and you can add to it as and when needed.

Can you multitask any of your chores?  If you commute to work, can you use this time to deal with your emails, or listen to an audio version of that book you keep meaning to read?

 

 

There are lots of ways you can do more with the time that you have. Perhaps getting on with it, instead of complaining about how much you have to do would be a good first step?  #JustSaying

Stand me up once, shame on you …

If you follow our Facebook page you will know this morning Lu got stood up. You’ll also know that she had well nice shoes, and was most unimpressed by the amount of rain falling from the skies, but that’s a whole other matter.

The good news is it appears there was a good explanation for the missed meeting today, and a new get together is going to be arranged. However, it seems to be quite a hot topic of conversation among many business owners – as her post missed-meeting rant has been getting quite a bit of attention.

How long would you wait?

Most people said if they had arranged to meet someone, they’d wait anywhere between 10 and 15 minutes (one person saying they’d happily wait 20 minutes) to see if they really were a no-show. The reality is people can easily get stuck in traffic, and not everyone has hands free and is able to make a call to let you know of an issue.

Equally, if you’re already sat waiting for them, you might as well use the time productively to catch up on emails or make any other calls you need to. Yes, it can be frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be a total waste of your time.

Would you get in touch with them?

Whilst you’re waiting, would you try to get in touch with the missing party? Most of us have been there at least once, somewhere along the way you’ve failed to put a date in your diary and before you know it, you’ve inadvertently stood someone up. We all like to think we’re above it, but alas, we’re all only human.

Phoning someone whilst you’re waiting is a good way to gauge where things are at. Did they simply forget, and if so, is it worth trying to rearrange? Was it a genuine mistake, or are they saying they don’t have the time to meet with you and give you their full attention?

Perhaps you can’t get in touch with them there and then, in which case, would you make contact with them when you get back to the office? Try to find out where they were? If not, why not?

Would you arrange a second meeting?

Most people we’ve heard from said that, depending on the reason for missing the meeting in the first place, they would probably arrange a second meeting. If someone seemed genuinely sorry, or it was clear there was a logical explanation for any mix up, then they’d be more than happy to move on and try again.

However, if they got a feeling the person was lying or trying to cover their tracks, didn’t apologise or wouldn’t take ownership for their mistake, then they wouldn’t bother.

One person we spoke to said the same person had stood him up three times. It was a potential client, and whilst the temptation is always there to try and chase down a sale, it’s certainly not wort it if you have to work that hard. A client who can treat you like that is one that’s unlikely to ever value what you offer, and will no doubt also be a bad payer.

 

 

Three tips for dealing with your fear of delegation

Here at Time Saving Heroes we’re used to working with business owners who don’t necessarily have a lot of experience in managing other people.  Some have never been employed by anyone else, and others have not had managerial positions.

That tends to mean that whilst they are brilliant at what they do, they’re not used to delegating tasks to others.  I’m not saying that makes them control freaks, but …

Hey, we’ve all been there.  If you want something doing right, and all that. The problem with releasing control, even a little bit, is the risk that a task won’t get done right, or as well as you might have done it.

However, the real problem comes when you let that stop you from passing on things you don’t need to do.  If you keep hold of everything within your business, there is a very real risk that you’ll burn out – and that doesn’t benefit anyone.

Control isn’t about keeping hold of everything yourself, it’s about managing risk and delegating what you can, to the best person, whenever you can.

If you want an extra pair of hands, or some support as and when you need it, but are worried how you’re going to manage it, our top three tips might help.

# 1 – Figure out where to focus

No matter how amazing you are, there’s only so many hours in a day. You might be happy working 10, 12, or even 18 of them but that can only last for so long, and in our experience there’s a good chance some things still won’t get done.

As a business owner you need to work out where your time can best be spent.  Yes, invoicing is important but do you have to do it?  Could someone take that over, or even automate the process to save time, so you can focus your attention on the things only you can do?

Such things could be strategic thinking, building relationships, sales, new product development and so on.  You can’t outsource those things so easily, but you can let go of the time consuming admin.

We have seen so many business owners who don’t have time to work on their business, and take it to the next level because they’re so busy working in it on day to day operations.

# 2 – What are you scared of?

Our Time Saving Heroes pride themselves on being honest and open, and we always encourage are clients to be the same. Therefore, if you feel uncomfortable about working with someone else (even though you know it makes sense to), we want you to talk about those fears.

Vague feelings of discomfort are quite disempowering and will invariably mean you don’t go anywhere.  If we can help you clarify what it is that’s bothering you, we can actually help you to address that issue and move on.

For example, we’ve had clients say before that they worry the work won’t get done, or it won’t get done as well as they would do it themselves. Some even worry that they’re inconveniencing us when they pick up the phone to ask for a task to be done, or they come across as being bossy.

The flip side of course is asking how they feel when they hold on to everything themselves, then the conversation starts to change.

I’m stressed, frustrated, sleep deprived, anxious, out of control and standing still.

# 3 – Minimise the risk

It’s all very well us saying we’re amazing, we could even point you in the direction of our reviews and client testimonials, but that doesn’t help you that much if you’re genuinely anxious about taking that first step.

That’s why we want to work with you from the outset to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible. We’ll look at your fears and then figure out ways to put checks in place to make you feel comfortable.

Taking the above example of work not getting done, we agreed with one client to use a task management system which they could use to assign and track tasks sent to their Time Saving Hero. They could set deadlines, and monitor progress remotely and therefore still felt they had control of the situation, without having to be completely involved. Within a few weeks that fear was gone because they realised everything was completed as agreed.

 

It is scary, and yes it can feel a little time consuming in the beginning as you get used to working with someone else, but the truth is, whilst you can do anything you most certainly can’t do everything.

If you’re ready to have a chat about how a Virtual Assistant can help save you time and money, pick up the phone and call us on 0161 883 2024. We’re happy to help, and have a chat about what you might need to delegate.

 

 

It’s not about the cost, it’s value for money that matters

Last week I had a meeting with a potential client (John), who had been referred to me by a business coach I’ve worked with previously who is helping him to grow and streamline his business.

John runs a pest control business that, although still relatively young (under two years) is doing very well.  The problem is that now the phone has started to ring, and the enquiries are coming in he’s realised he doesn’t have enough time to do everything himself.

The reality is he can’t spend all day out on jobs, then go out on quotes, follow up on enquiries, answer phone calls and then send invoices.  Not if he actually wants to spend any time at home with his wife and their three month old son.

We got chatting and talked through the issues he was experiencing, and he agreed he definitely needed an extra pair of hands to help things run more smoothly.

Then we got to the really fun bit – costs.

I like to think I keep things really simple when it comes to our fees: £25 per hour for our Virtual Assistance service.

However, John immediately baulked at the idea of paying “so much” for another person’s time.  In fact, his exact response was “I could just hire an admin assistant and pay them £7.50 per hour, it would be so much cheaper.”

Now, I know John thinks he’s saying “you’re so expensive”, but what I’m actually hearing is “I’m looking at this the wrong way.”

I practically rub my hands with glee as I roll my sleeves up for this challenge.

Although John actually only needs a few hours of practical admin assistance per day, he wants someone to be around during office hours to answer his phone and handle queries.  As such, he would have to employ a full time member of staff.

The biggest problem here is that he currently operates out of the back of his van.  An admin assistance, regardless of what you paid them, wouldn’t be able to do that.  As a result he’d need to locate office space and pay a deposit to secure it.

He’d then need furniture and equipment to put in to that office space.  Having an employee on site would also mean he’d need employer liability insurance. He’s confessed he has no experience of hiring staff, and wouldn’t know the first thing when it came to establishing whether someone was experienced enough or not. His preference therefore would be to use a recruitment firm to handle all of that for him.

Taking all of that in to account, his nice cost-effective admin assistant has cost him in the region of £4,286 before they’ve even set foot in the building!

It costs nothing to get Time Saving Heroes on board. No equipment, no space, no insurance. Nothing.

That’s a considerable saving right there.

Now let’s look at the monthly costs.

By the time you factor in salary, office rent, professional fees (such as auto enrolment, payroll and HR support), NI and pension contributions our employee is likely to cost in the region of £1,776.74pm.

Alternatively, John could hire a Time Saving Hero for a maximum of 2 hours a day (as that is what he think he needs in the way of real admin support) at a cost of £1,000pm.

He could then sign up to our call handling service at £55pm to ensure his calls are answered between 8.30am and 5pm.

All of a sudden paying £17.50 more per hour has saved him £721.71 per month.

When I put it like that, he saw things differently.

We started working together this morning.

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 hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help.

 

 

 

Why your Virtual Assistant is your best friend

Over the last few weeks we’ve been looking 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.

 

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 hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help.