Client Appreciation

virtual assistant clients www.relianceoutsourcing.com

I am totally aware of what I should be sharing in social media marketing, but today I am breaking the rules. I am not focusing on me or how glorious my services are.

When I decided to fire up my business, Reliance Outsourcing, it was after I listened to the words of one person, a Virtual Assistant Coach. She said, “I serve others and I love my work.” It was a simple statement, but it sunk in as a conviction to me.

I am an encourager. I have four blogs published. Each blog steers toward a central point no-matter what my role is at that time (farmer, author, life coach, virtual assistant). When I am inspired, my fingers fly to the keyboard to share. To be able to encourage and assist people, to make their business lives less stressful, is incredibly satisfying to me. Enough about me, though, this is about others…you…my clients!

So, yes, I do have the best clients in the world. They have chosen me and I love to partner with them in today’s business world.

When I tell complete strangers, “We are all in this together. In this world. Helping each other. Taking care of our piece of the pie.” I mean that! The world goes ’round with collaboration!

So, I dedicate this day to my clients, whom I truly appreciate. You are the best!

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Are You An Organized Small Business Owner?

organize small biz www.relianceoutsourcing.comDonna Maria Johnson, CEO of Indie Business Network, said to me, “You are organized.” Yes, I am. I go nuts when I feel I am wading through chaos. Chaos does not produce clarity.

She asked me how often I check my email. I replied,”You would be surprised.” Not much of an answer? Later, I thought about my response. I do have a system.

As small business owners we cannot watch our phones and tablets all day long. We cannot afford to not pay attention to our email, but we should never check it continually, or as the whim strikes.

Here is the scoop, everything that we do can be maximized. So, you do not want to miss important emails? Use one particular email address for your “hot” items. Or, use several email addresses for different systems or products that you have in place. Even if you don’t do this, set a schedule to check your email. If you insist on checking email twice a day, then schedule in the time to do so. Do.not.check.your.email at any other time!

Social media is another example where we are able to maximize time. Applications that social media to be scheduled are excellent. Unless you have the time to sit at the screen and post social media updates all day long (who does?), use the tools that are at your fingertips — automated and scheduled social media. Show up in person on social media at scheduled times. Don’t let Facebook or Pinterest drain hours off of your day. Set the timer for 5 or 10 minutes, or less. Do the job, whatever needs to be done on social media, and leave.

Stay organized. If we aren’t organized, we know nothing. We do not function. Take the time to plan, strategize and maximize working hours. When we don’t focus, nothing gets accomplished except confusion and frustration. Start a planner, grab some colorful folders, markers, whatever it takes to lift up and motivate! Do not rely on memory. I love using a ringed binder for a planner. When a new idea strikes me, I write it down. When the focus shifts, or when a phone call needs to be added in, I change the schedule. I use small “sticky” notes in a pinch, but at the end of the day my small notes are shredded and the important notes are written into appropriate places in my planner (the schedule – today, tomorrow, and next week, biz ideas for the future, writing ideas, etc.). I also use several small white boards. When I want something to stick in my head, I write it on a board. It stays there, close-by and visible, until it becomes habit!

What is your purpose? Why do you do what you do? Do you serve others? I hope you answered yes to this, and remember this is your key focus. If you are organized, you will serve others with a sense of, “I love what I do,” rather than, “I cannot do another thing, and I am not sure I can do this at all.”Let your joy shine, entrepreneurs, solo-preneurs, micro-preneurs, and author-preneurs! Make ’em wear sunglasses!

 

How To Construct A Blog Post

how to construct a blog post www.relianceoutsourcing.com

Blog writing can be as simple and inexpensive as sitting down and writing about a topic using a free blog platform, however, for authors and businesses there are crucial steps to follow to ensure your blog posts are readily found by others through search engines, also to make sure your writing falls within a format that others enjoy reading.

Blog Post Basics:

Title – Create a title that is interesting, to the point, and captivating.

Create the Post

  • The first paragraph should be engaging, relevant to the content of your post, and written in your personal point of view.
  • Guide the reader along through subsequent paragraphs. Paragraphs that are easy to read and not overly long. Long paragraphs should be broken down into smaller points of interest – into digestible chunks of information.
  • Use points of interest, numbering systems, bold type, and bullet points to break the information down into visually appealing steps. Actions steps and lists are beneficial to the flow of your blog content, especially when you are sharing how-to information.

Graphics – Always add a related graphic or video for interest – to attract the visual side of the reader. Optimize photos and graphics by adding descriptions and keywords, with a link back to your page or blog.

Tags and Keywords – SEO! Always add relevant tag words and keywords. Blogs are practically ground zero for search engine optimization. If you want people to find the post that you’ve written, SEO is a critical part of your post. In the body of your post, link to other posts that you’ve written, products that you sell (such as books, if you are an author), and collaborate with other bloggers — linking to each other’s post.

Close Strong – Sum up your purpose in the final paragraph and address your readers for engagement. Ask questions and invite conversation. Urge readers to share their viewpoint or comments.

Blog Topic Collecting Tip – A frequent blogger (a writer who publishes regular blog posts) collects ideas as they work and play. This becomes natural to the blogger. The blogger saves these thoughts and ideas, blog post titles, and short quips or paragraphs for future blog topics.

Two rules of thumb that I find helpful when I both read and write a blog post:

  1. Keep the post to no more than 500 words. Most of us have grown used to reading short articles online. We do not want to read posts the size of small books.
  2. Never apologize for not publishing regular posts. Your blog is your connection with the world. Through your blog, you share how you feel and what you know. Apologies are not beneficial to you or your business in a Google search!
  3. Make leaving comments easy. Do not overtly require information from the reader, like a floating signature form that is difficult – if not impossible – to maneuver around. What do I do in these cases? I never visit the blog again.

Did you find this article helpful? I look forward to your comments – your tips – your experience.

Happy blogging!

There’s Small Biz Power in Pickles

small biz pickles www.relianceoutsourcing.comYou can’t depend entirely on someone else for an income.

You can keep the day job, but the smart thing is to own several income streams.

A hobby easily turns into a business. Make soap. Sew aprons (a seriously popular item). Build websites. Create graphics. Teach your hobby, or craft, to someone else.

I’ll go back and scratch off the word can’t from my first sentence. You can depend upon someone else for income, but what if that one thing goes away?

I recently purchased a jar of pickles. Trust me, I paid way too much for this jar of pickles. I plopped down close to $5.00 more than I would for a name-brand jar in a grocery store.

Here’s the deal. The pickles are attractive. Yes, I said that. The pickles contain garlic gloves and pepper flakes, and they look like something straight out of my grandmother’s cellar (less the label).

The most important thing is, these pickles are handpicked, handpacked, and this beyond middle-aged woman stood outside in the heat to sell her wares. This is handmade to the max. What else? I adored the woman’s bright purple embroidered Mexican dress.

She grabbed a paper plate, opened an ice chest, and didn’t skip a beat. She barely took a breath as she placed one pickle sample after another on the plate, describing each one as if we were attending a pickle party. I was impressed with her salesmanship, right there in a roadside stand on a hot arid central Texas day.

Yes, pickles can be an income stream. Why not?

Do you buy from small businesses? Think about it.

The pickle lady insisted on having me try her fig bread. Talk about yummy! I didn’t purchase any bread because I was well into the double digit dollars with my jar of pickles and two tomatoes (that didn’t come from her garden…most likely from Mexico). Still, this little fruit stand was her small business and I liked knowing that my money went directly into her pocket that day. She was one enthusiastic woman!

What does this have to do with multiple income streams?

Small business, creativity, enthusiasm, and unlimited ways to make money…and to put a smile on someone else’s face while doing it.

 

 

Virtual Assistant, A Team Member Who Works Remotely

virtual assistant www.relianceoutsourcing.com

What is a virtual assistant? A virtual assistant is a team member who happens to work remotely.

For the most part, virtual assistants are self-employed. They work from their home office. A virtual assistant (VA) maintains their own work space, equipment, hours, and taxes.

I formed my virtual assistance business, Reliance Outsourcing, after some deep thinking. First, I hired a life coach that helped me to focus on my strengths, on the positive values I brought to the lives of others. Then, a second business coach guided me towards thinking about what I really wanted to do in my work life. Did I want to remain employed, or was there a business in my future? I have reinvented myself several times, with a number of businesses under my belt, so I was not surprised that I chose to serve others through my own business.

I made my final decision after watching a video of a young woman who started and grew a virtual assistant business from her home after her first child was born. Her value system was similar to mine, and her main focus was what she believed to be her calling, to serve others, to be the right hand to business owners so that they were freed up to work on the core of their businesses.

Reliance Outsourcing was born. I mentioned to my long-time friend, Kayla Fioravanti, of Selah Press, that I had started a virtual assistant business, and much to my surprise she had a need. She directed clients to me that needed assistance beyond what she could offer at that time. We were a good match. We shared in similar values and beliefs, and in Kayla’s words, “They needed someone who could speak for them online.”

What a virtual assistant can offer is vast, we:

  • Take on the small jobs that you may not like to do
  • Take on tasks that you never find the time to do
  • Complete tasks that you do not know how to do
  • Free up your time so you can work on your business, not in it
  • Help you to be better organized through outsourced administrative services
  • Give you a second voice by taking on scheduling, calling, and even invoicing — Customer Service

Have you ever said you wished more hours could be added to your day? Well, this is the value of a VA. You need another hour, call your VA. You need a project to be completed that you cannot get to, call your VA. If we cannot complete the job, we’ll assist you with finding out who and how to get it done.

We, VA’s, are also resourceful. We listen and we advise. We don’t step on the business owner’s toes, nor into their businesses, but when they have questions, or need direction, we are always there. That is our job.

As a virtual assistant, I help business owners grow by doing what they cannot do, do not want to do, or do not have the time to do.

Kayla Fioravanti, of Selah Press, and I are both on the same Blog Challenge. We’ve coordinated our thoughts from different sides of the fence. She has hired her own Virtual Assistant, and shares her thoughts and experience through her post, Top Ten Reasons to Have a Virtual Assistant.

Slow Down to Accomplish More

time management

I said this today while on a business call, “We all seem to be running on empty.”

Slow down to accomplish more:

  • Clarity
  • Relaxation (mental and physical)
  • Less burn out

Work never goes away for many of us, and none of us can add hours to the day, that is, unless we get help through automation or hired help.

When we are trying to cram 10 hours into an 8-hour day it may feel like an impossibility to slow down, but, the immediate benefits are real,  and it goes beyond our office or work environment. The number one benefit is we feel better. We feel better while we are working, and we feel better when we are off the clock.

When we slow down we experience clarity, which helps us to finish up with the reality that we have done a great job — thorough, less mistakes = quality work.

While rushing, we lose focus on the big picture because our main focus is volume.

Here are some tricks for getting into the slow-down groove:

  1. When you feel like slamming through your work, ask yourself, what do you want to accomplish, and how should you go about getting there?
  2. When you catch yourself multi-tasking, shift gears and focus on a single task until it is completed. Breathe (not the shallow stuff), smile, and enjoy what you are doing.
  3. Imagine your dream job, describe how it feels while you working at it. Are you rushing through your work, or are you calm and enjoying your accomplishments as you focus on the task at hand?

Work tends to expand as it fills time. Example: You limit your work schedule to 8 hours and you later find yourself trying to squeeze 10 hours of work into 9, and you are still far from the finish line. Guess what? The finish line isn’t always firmly planted, and work expands like a balloon filling with water. Balloons bust open…messes ensue.

What is the remedy?

  • Planning. What can you accomplish in the hours that you have available?
  • Schedule, schedule, and schedule. Stick to the schedule once it is set. Say no to others, say no to extra requests, and say no to the little voice that whispers lies in your ear (you).
  • Schedule breaks. Pencil time in for YOU. Take a walk. Eat a nourishing snack. Meditate or pray. Call a friend. Do not cancel a single “you break” off of your calendar.
  • Schedule in blank time. This is where you allot time for overages. When you discover that a task is going to take longer to complete than you had planned, you can borrow from your scheduled blank time.

Work is work and play is play, and when we feel comfortable and relaxed while we work, our down-time and play time is enriched. Win-win.

How do you manage time? Do you believe multi-tasking is beneficial, or is it a deterrent to achieving positive results? What do you use for a scheduling tool? Do you schedule next day top priorities in advance?

 

Focus On The Income Makers

dreamstime_s_48839812

Do you know the difference between working in or on your business?

When working in your business, you are performing the services and making the products that you sell.

When working on your business, you are doing most anything for your business other than producing what you sell. You may be:

  • Making cold calls
  • Writing blog posts
  • Writing a newsletter
  • Posting content to social media
  • Networking in person
  • Planning and setting goals (with action steps and dates) for growth

Have you heard of the 80/20 rule? In business, 20% of the products/services sold usually account for about 80% of the value of sales, 20% of the customers usually account for 80% of the sales, and these same customers account for 80% of the profits. The 80/20 rule has also been proven in relationships and marketing as well.

So, the bottom line is, focus on what truly bumps up the profits. Focus on your best products and your best customers. Determine, where did those best customers come from, and determine how you will attract new customers like them. How did you form the relationship that you have with your top customers? How will you repeat that relationship and multiply?

What business tasks never result in sales or income? Ask yourself, what can you automate? What can you farm out? I used to say that I could not delegate anything out, but here I am, a virtual assistant, and I have heard my clients tell me how it has worked for them. Just by the sheer act of freeing up time, clutter (back log) is removed, and a fresh mindset surfaces. Business owners are freed up to work on their brand!

Never be afraid to survey your best customers. I have received invaluable feedback from customers, including how to better promote my business or products, what not to say (what turns them off), and what attracted that customer to me or my products to begin with. I once had a customer tell me that it was blog alone, another told me it was my newsletter. Your best customers support your business financially, and they are also incredibly valuable for business feedback.

Have you surveyed your customers? Have you considered sending a thank you card to your top customers, and asking if you can call them? Briefly tell them in advance what you will be talking about. This call can be of incredible value.

Work on your business, this is your main focus, and speed up (or chop down) the time that you spend working in your business. Have you considered any of these steps, or similar ones, and how has it worked for your business?