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

Over the last few weeks or so I’ve been working my way through some of the questions I think you ought to ask a VA before you potentially start working with them.

This one is actually one of my favourites, because I think it can tell you a lot about them and what you can expect from them.

In the past some of my processes for dealing with deadlines has been a little, shall we say, rubbish? When I first started out and I got busy, my go to response was to work later.  In fact, I had an audio transcription deadline for the next morning, and I’d underestimated how long it would take me to do.  I worked all night, and was in agony with RSI for days!

But, bright side, the work got done and the client never knew.

However, that sort of process isn’t going to work longer time.  You do actually need to be able to take a break and manage yourself better. Thankfully, I learnt my lesson.

Now, for the largest part, I know what work I have to get through each day, so can plan my time accordingly just the same as anyone else. Where clients have similar deadlines I always ensure that when I’m caught up with everything else I start working on things ahead of schedule. That way I don’t have lots of projects to start at once.

Equally, for longer projects, I tend to build in fake deadlines to help keep me focussed. If I have to have something ready for Wednesday, I’ll make sure it’s done for Monday.  That way there’s a little bit of back-up time just in case anything goes wrong.  The problem with having five children is that there’s always the possibility someone’s going to be ill!  I am therefore a huge fan of the back-up plan.

Occasionally when I’m already up against a client will ask for something to be turned around urgently.  Unfortunately, I have in the past had to say that I’m too busy.  I hate doing it, but I would rather be honest than run the risk of under delivering and letting someone down. To date most people actually extend their deadline to a timescale I can manage, and appreciate the honesty.

 

 

If you have any other questions you might want to ask please email hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk or go old fashioned and pick up the phone. Our number is 0161 883 2024.

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.

 

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

A few weeks ago I wrote a piece about the sorts of questions you ought to ask a VA before you consider hiring them.

I’ve already answered “What are your core skills and services?” and “What’s your favourite way to communicate” and today I thought I’d look at a slightly trickier one: What would you do if you realised you didn’t know how to do a task?

My job as a Time Saving Hero (aka Virtual Assistant) is to make your life easier.  That only really happens if I know what I’m doing.  So I make a living by being the calm and gliding swan, even if everything is going crazy under the surface.

Which, half the time, it is.

But I digress.

I therefore want to appear as though I know everything, and can do everything (even if I have to Google it and figure it out along the way).  The last thing I want to do is have to phone you up and say “You know that thing you wanted me to do?  Yeah, no idea how to do that.”

But, the reality is, if that’s what we were faced with, that’s what I’d have to say. Or at least words to that effect.

Purely because I don’t believe in hiding from the fact I don’t know everything.  I can’t. But I can learn a lot, if you can find the time to show me – or point me in the right direction so I can figure it out myself.

There’s lots I can do, but if we stumble across something I can’t do yet, I’ll let you know, and we’ll work out a plan that ultimately still ensures you get whatever task it is you need doing done.

 

If you have any other questions you might want to ask please email lu@timesavingheroes.co.uk or go old fashioned and pick up the phone. Our number is 0161 883 2024.

What’s your favourite way to communicate?

A few weeks ago we wrote a piece about the sorts of questions you ought to ask a VA before you consider hiring them.

We’ve already answered “What are your core skills and services?” and today we thought we’d look at communication.

If you asked any of my friends, and perhaps some of my clients, they’d probably say my favourite way to communicated was loudly.  It’s the price you pay for working with an Essex girl really.  However, I’m not sure that really answers this question properly.

But that said, it’s not necessarily the easiest of questions to answer, purely because I think it depends on what it is you’re trying to communicate in the first place.

Personally I’m quite a fan of email.  I like to document things, and that way it’s already done for me. However, many people don’t use emails effectively, which causes more problems than it solves.

In my opinion emails should only be used to provide information and act as a point of reference (but make sure they are sent to the people who need that information, not just everyone) or to answer quick questions/make plans.

If you start entering in to a stream of back and forth, or emails that have a few paragraphs in them then you need to pick up the phone.

Nothing beats the phone for getting to the heart of the matter quickly.  Admittedly it’s not always convenient, but that’s what voicemail or call backs were invented for.

I will work whichever way is best for a client – if they know they ignore their emails, then I’ll pick up the phone. If I know they’re busy, and a call will disturb them, I’ll send an email.

The only thing I really hate using is text, especially when it’s out of hours.  If I’m off-duty then I really am off-duty. I will open your message, I might even read it, but it won’t go in.  But then in my mind, I’ve processed it, because I’ve read it.  And then I’ll struggle to remember to do it.

Text is never a good way to get hold of me.  If you want to run a relationship like that with a VA, then I’m sorry, I am not the VA for you.

 

However, if you’re more used to email, phone calls, Skype, face to face or anything like that then I might be your girl.  Give me a call on 0161 883 2024 and I’ll be happy to discuss your requirements further.

Our core skills and services

I recently wrote a piece on questions I think you ought to ask a Virtual Assistant before you contemplate hiring them.  Now’s probably a good time to start thinking about answering some of those questions myself, so you can get an idea as to whether Time Saving Heroes is the right partner for your business.

We might as well start at the beginning, so today I will be answering “What are your core skills and services?”

Organisation

Once upon a time I had a reputation for being completely disorganised.  I never handed my homework in on time (in fact, I rarely did it), I could barely remember what class I was meant to be in, I never had the right books with me and I’d invariably be late if I had to be anywhere.

Over the years it’s safe to say a few things have changed.  Yes, I grew up but also life experiences have meant I’ve learnt how to manage my time, and myself better.  The biggest catalyst for that’s probably becoming a parent.

Having five children definitely means you’ve got to be on the ball.  You have to know who needs what, where they need to be and when and how to predict disasters before they happen.

To say I’m quite organised these days is an understatement, and it’s definitely one of my core skills.

That means I’m able to prioritise my workload, ensuring a client’s tasks will get done, even if I have other clients I need to complete work for.

Logical

I’ve always been a details person, and that’s one of the reasons I ended up doing a Forensic Science degree. I am a scientific thinker. I enjoy being logical, and approaching things methodically. Give me a mess to sort out, and I’ll tackle it sensibly and get the job done.

It also means that I’m able to stay calm under pressure (again, the kids helped with that training) and pass this on to clients.  If they’re flapping or stressing about something, I can usually talk them down and get them to think about things calmly too.

Passionate

I’m really passionate about what I do because I love seeing other businesses thrive.  That’s my “why” in many ways.  I want a client to come on board, and whilst they’re working with me to see the impact it’s having.

That passion means that if you care about your business, your products, your customers then I’m going to.  I’ll care as much as you do. Like you, I will wake at 2am in the morning and have that wonderful idea that I simply have to write down.

You really do get so much more than simply someone who can do admin.

Social media and content

I absolutely love being creative, and adore writing. Anything that requires me to put thoughts and ideas down is really going to get me engaged, and that’s why content writing and social media are one of my core services.

I love doing them, and I’m good at them so it makes sense it’s the sort of thing I’m going to plug as much as possible.

Equally though I love inspiring other people to get involved.  I haven’t met anyone who couldn’t handle their own social media (apart from those who don’t have the time). Therefore showing someone how to do it, getting them to think about their own business and what they can post, and then seeing them let loose on it all really gives me a happy.

Virtual Assistance

Any aspect of VA work really interests me too. It’s a great way to see behind the scenes of a business and make a huge impact. No, maybe sending out invoices isn’t the most thrilling thing in the world, but it’s essential for cashflow. It has to be done, and contributing to the health of a business is a wonderful feeling.

I take a lot of pleasure out of establishing what needs to be done, making a list and then working my through it.

Maybe that makes me sad, but it also makes me a good VA.

 

 

 

So many business cards, so little time

ToEarlier this month Time Saving Heroes had the pleasure of exhibiting at The Big Bolton Expo, hosted by thebestofBolton.  Having attended a number of different expos, both as an exhibitor and a delegate over the past three years, I can honestly say this was hands down the most professional, friendly and well run event I’ve been to.

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The organisers did a great job of being on hand to help with any questions, and were always friendly, calm and fun to talk to.  At other events I’ve seen the people “in charge” running around like headless chickens, which I always think leaves a poor impression.  It also makes them very unapproachable if you do have a query.

With such a well-run event it’s impossible to come away, no matter what side of the stand you were on, without a handful of business cards and a bunch of new contacts to follow up with.  While it’s always important to follow up, after splashing the cash on a stand, it’s imperative. You need to justify that time, effort and just as importantly the financial expense.

This is where a VA can come in handy.  I know some businesses have a team behind them, and some may even have a whole marketing department, but for sole traders and SMEs this is not the case.  After spending a whole day exhibiting, you’re going to want to crack on with “work” the second you’re back in the office the next day, and then, before you know it, an entire week has passed and you’ve not sent a single email.

Admittedly, the contacts aren’t going anywhere, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow up in a timely manner.  The longer you leave it the harder it might be for someone to remember you, and any conversation you might have had.  Sending an email the next day leaves a good impression – it shows you’re organised, if nothing else.

How a VA can help

Here at Time Saving Heroes we have a number of clients that we only work with after expos and conferences.  It’s the only time they need to use our services.  Whilst every client in this situation is different, here’s what we do for most:

  1. If the client is local they will either drop off their new pile of business cards, or we will collect from them. If they aren’t local, they tend to take photographs and send them to us via email/Dropbox etc.
  2. Once we have the business cards we collate all the information in to a spreadsheet, which can then be easily uploaded in to their CRM systems. If we have access to the CRM system itself we will upload the data directly.
  3. If any information is missing from the business cards/leaflets we will take the time to search this out. It might be that there’s no Twitter handle on the card – so we will look to see if the business or individual is on social media, and find all relevant links.
  4. For most clients we will have pre-written their initial contact email, and now we will send it out on their behalf. It might be a specific email, or it might be in the form of a newsletter, depending on the client’s preferences.
  5. We will ensure we make contact with all businesses and individuals on behalf of the client via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and any other platform they deem to be relevant.

 

After that we can help schedule certain individuals for further follow-up, as well as writing any other emails and/or newsletters that the client might want to send.

 

If you have been to an expo, conference or any other networking event and are worried that you don’t have time to capitalise on the new contacts you’ve made remember Time Saving Heroes. We are your secret weapon in the fight against time. Call 0161 883 2024 for more information.