Need some help, but don’t know how or where to start?

Need some help, but don’t know how or where to start?

A few people have asked me about this recently, so I’m sharing what I’ve shared with them, in case it helps someone else.

In my opinion, the most important thing is to set the tone for the right relationship and expectations from the start. If you click with someone, they can grow into the role you want them to. Open, totally honest, and regular communication is key. Talk about likes/ dislikes, how you tend to work, what you know you’re good at and what you’re not. Get to know them and vice versa, as if the relationship is easy, the rest will come.

Start by making a list of jobs you deal with, then identify what you must do yourself and what you could handover. Then grade the list into things which are the most straight forward to hand over right away and build from there.

It’s always worth putting feelers out amongst contacts. It’s a position with huge trust to get the most out of it, and you want someone who comes recommended – even if not by someone you know, then with some great reviews/ references. Where possible, speak to their other clients about what they’re brilliant at for them.

Systems access is easy. They can either log in as you for some things and for others have their own account. A good VA will have password encryption software to keep everything secure and will be able to support you in getting access set up, though if you have IT folk, this can make the process even smoother!

As for a job description, the list above is your starting point. While there are the traditional VA type roles like diary/ admin, I handle a wide range of tasks for people, so the extras will be personal to you and your VA will ideally be willing to turn their hand to pretty much anything – it keeps it interesting for us, after all!

Don’t be paralysed by fear of change – find a way to take that leap!

May 2020

Don’t be paralysed by fear of change – find a way to take that leap!

For any of you wondering ‘what if’ or ‘can I really do it’, now may well be the time to stop holding yourself back.

It’s a year this month since I signed my first wonderful client, who’s still with me now. I’m so grateful he decided to take a chance on me and what a journey it’s been to this point! I was only adding another string to my bow at the time, but the work and client relationships lit me up, things went from strength to strength and I quickly reached a point where I had to make a choice – my job of the past decade or a leap into self-employment and a whole new world of opportunity!

The choices which seemed so scary before, don’t anymore. When I admitted my nervousness to clients as the Covid crisis hit, being so newly self-employed, there was an overwhelming feeling of being in this together, rather than simply a cog in the corporate machine; of having control over how I chose to find my way through. My role is to be there for my clients and yet I soon realised how much they truly care about my wellbeing too. That sense of camaraderie and looking out for each other is worth keeping going for in itself. We’re seeing each other through.

I’m well aware of how new my business is and how it will be an ongoing journey and learning curve, but I can be ‘just me’, my authentic self and people appreciate that. I get to work with some truly amazing individuals, who tell me to be kind to myself as I strive constantly for perfection – it’s not the glossiness they want. They want authenticity and for someone to care as much as they do.

So today I’ve taken a moment to pause and be thankful. To be kind to myself and to share with others that maybe that ‘scary’ leap isn’t so scary after all. Let’s face it, nothing’s ‘safe’ anymore, so why not follow, or take a chance to find your dream?

This period in particular has shown me there are so many opportunities out there waiting to be explored. You may glimpse a new one for yourself! Pause. Take a moment and consider taking that leap. It may just set you free…

Thinking of going out on your own? Here are some tips:

Know your numbers – what’s the minimum you can get by on each month as you build the business? If you do your sums you may find it’s less than you think. I knew I needed to get some reserves in place rather than leaping straight away, even when there were moments I wanted to. You can also wait too long though, so you need to pitch it right and follow your instincts. If you’ve been furloughed and have no other work commitments, could now be a time to do some research?

Talk to people – you could be amazed at the resources right at your fingertips. If you have the right people in your network, they want you to succeed. Have lots of conversations – not because you want to get something out of them, but because you want to learn. Opportunities can spring up in the most unexpected places.

Collaboration over competition – don’t be afraid to speak to others in your line of work. As a Virtual PA, I speak regularly to other friends doing the same and we frequently collaborate. There’s plenty of work to go around and if anything, it strengthens your offering to have access to a broader knowledge base. After all, when you’re a one man/woman band, everything is down to you, so you have to find everything out yourself.

Brand awareness – this isn’t as corporate as it sounds! Get yourself out there. Have a website as a reference point for clients and referrals. Your reputation is great but where can people check you out easily? Don’t post on social media to get clients – share useful content and just be there. You’ll soon stick in people’s minds for when they or someone they know may need you. Be yourself and let that come through in your content. That’s what you’re selling. If you pretend to be anything other than that, you’ll slip up.

Be patient – it won’t happen overnight and you will have ups and downs. It’s not easy and as the buck always stops with you, it can feel personal at times. Boost your resilience, look after yourself and as I said before, be kind to yourself. You’ll have your moments, but this is where your support network comes in. Have a ‘blurting buddy’ who you can have a mini rant to from time to time or bounce ideas off. They won’t let you give up and you’ll thank them the next day when you’re feeling positive again!

Remember your why – this is probably the most important point of all. Why do you want to do this? What do you hope to achieve? Is it for greater financial stability, work/life blend, making a difference to others or all of the above? Never forget this, as during those tougher moments, it’s what will make you plough on through and be glad you did!

Time to catch your breath?

February 2020

Time to catch your breath?

It’s been rather busy in the TIB Virtual PA office lately, so I’m taking a well-earned break this week! Achieving a good work/life blend is easier said than done, so whether you thrive on your work or not, here are a few handy tips, for both alongside your work and if you’re hankering after a holiday…

Do it, delegate it or dump it; identify the tasks only you can do, then consider delegating others to someone you can trust. However, there’s a line between delegating and dumping that shouldn’t be blurred. If you delegate a task, you mustn’t micromanage, but you do need regular check ins to ensure jobs are being carried out to a level which upholds your brand standards. Without this, you risk losing track of the task.. As for identifying what to dump, look at the value each task adds to your business and if it doesn’t have one, DUMP IT.

As a business owner – especially if it’s new – it can be very hard to take a break, but if you don’t, you risk burnout, so what can you do?

While it’s unrealistic sometimes to think you can completely switch off, a holiday can be a perfectly manageable break if handled in the right way. 

Communicate; give clients a reasonable amount of notice, relevant to the work you’re undertaking. In most cases, a couple of weeks should do it. Remember, everyone takes holidays so you don’t need to over-explain yourself – you’re not asking for permission, but keeping them in the loop so you can plan your work accordingly.

Set expectations; decide what (if anything) you need to do when you’re away and what can wait until you’re back. If you’re planning on logging on periodically, let clients know that while your response levels won’t be the same as usual, you’re not dropping the ball either. 

Enjoy your break; don’t fall into the trap of looking at your emails every few minutes. Be strict with yourself. Check in briefly if you need to, then log off and make the most of your time off. It’ll be over in a flash, so don’t waste it!  

I’m very lucky that a large percentage of my clients are business coaches, who by their very nature believe in achieving a balance, so they’re the first to remind me to switch off and enjoy precious time with my family too – if my clients are saying it, I’d better listen! 

Finally, if you’re not quite ready for a holiday yet, make sure you still schedule some vital ‘you time’ into your week. For me, it’s the gym, paddle boarding or a good cobweb-clearing walk with the dogs. With a desk job, I like to be active to refocus my mind. Take a moment to consider what works best for you, schedule a few 20 to 60-minute slots for yourself through your week and stick to them. 

Trust me, you’ll work smarter as a result.

Good luck and enjoy your ‘me’ time!!