It’s now the Year 2016 and a most of us have set new business goals and (hopefully) a roadmap to making those goals happen.
Achieving any goal usually depends on a clear understanding of the desired outcomes, a simple roadmap to get us there and the right tools to get the job done.
The reality is though, that sometimes we find that the tools in the shed are scattered all over the place and in order to get started on our roadmap to success we need to first embark on a clean up phase. This clean up could consist of anything that has become piled up as a result of being a low priority or just plain forgotten in the past year – your email inbox, out of date contacts, a blog that is well behind, a disorganized CRM, etc. Facing this initial obstacle can be overwhelming.
As a Virtual Assistant I’ve seen firsthand at how getting a little bit of help can make the difference in reaching your business goals or not getting started at all.
Let’s look at a comparison:
How do you feel when you go to cook dinner and you walk into the kitchen only to find dishes from the previous meal/s still unwashed on the counter, the week’s mail has joined the dishes amongst a growing pile of recycling bits and the cat has strewn it’s kibbles all over the floor? Ugh. It’s going to take you at least an hour or two to clean and organize things before you can even start preparing the ingredients – oh! Not only that, but also the fact that you didn’t shop for the ingredients you need yet! Another hour (at least).
Are you feeling motivated to get started on that recipe? Not likely. That unfinished bottle of 2000 Chateau Le Puy is starting to look like an excellent replacement for dinner…….
Now picture this:
It’s been a long but productive day and you are ready to cook up that delicious recipe you have been thinking about all week. You know the ingredients have been shopped for already and are in the fridge. You walk into the kitchen to find everything sparkling clean and in it’s place, your cutting board and favourite knife waiting for you on the counter.
Better? Of course! Realistic? Yes!
While you were shopping for the recipe ingredients, you hired a cleaner to come in and straighten things up. They worked pretty quickly and were able to do more than you expected (by not just cleaning, but preparing the ingredients you had on hand and putting out your cutting board and knife) because she was focused not on cleaning to get to another more important task (your cooking), but only on the task of cleaning and preparing the kitchen itself.
So if you’re ready to start making your business ideas and goals for this year a reality but there’s some clutter and cleaning standing in your way that is where a Virtual Assistant can help you.
Here are a few things that a Virtual Assistant can do while you are ‘shopping for your ingredients’ so to speak:
- Update your contact database – out with the old, in with the new!
- Update all your online profiles – your website, LinkedIn, Social Media – so that they are fresh and consistent.
- Check your website links and format a list for you to review for updates and changes – then get your Virtual Assistant to make the changes!
- Organize your Email – set up new folders and filters, unsubscribe to everything you don’t want/need, pull out any unanswered emails that have fallen through the cracks and set them up in a folder so that you can quickly go through them at once instead of searching through the pile or being constantly distracted by taking care of them while trying to do your work.
- Blog editing and research – have your Virtual Assistant proofread any blog posts you’ve drafted but haven’t had time to format or have them spend some time on researching information for your next posts.
Don’t be afraid to collaborate. If you aren’t sure where to start, have a conversation with a Virtual Assistant and they can work with you to pull out the priorities from your to do list.
Several options are available to help you find a qualified Virtual Assistant. Check out the Virtual Assistant directories at the following organizations websites, most of which also give you the option to post an RFP for the things you need done.
- International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA): http://ivaa.org/directory/
- VA Networking: http://www.vanetworking.com/clients/
- Canadian Association of Virtual Assistants (CAVA): http://canadianava.org/member-search/
- Global Alliance of Virtual Assistants (GAVA): http://globalava.org/member-search/
- Virtual Assistantville: http://www.virtualassistantville.com/virtual-assistant-directory
- Virtual Biz Connect: http://virtualbizconnect.com/ (this site has recently launched and has just started to build their directory)
- Virtual Assistant Forums: http://www.virtualassistantforums.com/submit_job.php
- Yvonne Weld of (and current IVAA president), Able Virtual Assistant Services, http://www.yvonneweld.com/, operates a ‘matchmaker’ service for business owners looking for Virtual Assistants. Yvonne can work with you and pair you with the best VA for your business.
- You can search for ‘Virtual Assistant’ or post a request through LinkedIn to help you get started. You could also search LinkedIn Groups for Virtual Assistants.
- Try posting a request on Twitter with a link to a more complete job description or search #virtualassistant.
- If you have a wide range of tasks, have a need for various specialties, an instant team or you are a larger company with a lot of repetitive tasks that don’t take in-depth knowledge of your operations you might want to enlist the services of a Virtual Assistant Agency. As an independent VA I don’t have personal experience working with agencies but I have heard of positive outcomes for business owners who are able to find a reputable one. A couple I can mention are EAHelp (http://eahelp.com/ ) and UAssistMe (https://uassistme.co/).
- A fabulous resource for Online Business Consultancy with built in Virtual Assistant services is Michelle Dale of Virtual Miss Friday, http://www.virtualmissfriday.com/.
- Lastly, here is a link to an article at Effortless Workflow that outlines some of the differences between hiring an independent Virtual Assistant or hiring through an agency: http://effortlessworkflow.com/virtual-assistant-agency-or-independent-va-which-is-better/.
I hope this article has helped motivate you to get started on your business plans for 2016 and encouraged you to get the assistance you might need. Every business is different and will have different tasks that need to be performed.
Having a little help getting started on those tasks can make the difference between reaching your goals and never getting started to begin with.
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