As I grow my business, I’m running into a challenge that I know other entrepreneurs run into: how do I grow my business?
What I’m learning right now is this:
How to connect with others online.
Meaning, the importance of going beyond the research: actually picking up the phone and calling people who I could potentially work with!! This has already gotten me a few clients.
The lesson is, NEVER stop learning! Because I’m a bookworm at heart, learning new things is something I’ve always considered to be a strength of mine. I cannot even begin to count the number of times that I have been given a project (when I worked at a corporation), and was given instructions to, “Can you just figure out how to make this happen?”. It’s served me very well over the years. It’s why I’m able to offer the different services that I do for my clients.
How to build my business.
Oof, this is tricky. And, I know it’s something that many others struggle with too. I realized today after watching a video from Derek Halpern (Social Triggers) that I was still honing in on my audience. So, in honor of the assignment he provided….
Here’s my client wishlist:
Conscious, communicative entrepreneurs who have built companies that enhances other people’s lives. They see the value in getting assistance when they need it, and are willing to pay for that help.
What I offer to all of my clients, no matter what business they’re in is this:
PEACE OF MIND
My clients know that their job will get done, on time, and completed as if they had done the job themselves (or better!). Don’t take my word for it, hop on over to my testimonials section (it’s still growing) and read it for yourself!
As I continue to grow my virtual assistant business, I will share what I’m learning along the way. And if it’s working, I’ll be sharing that too!
So as my work as a Virtual Assistant has been building, there’s one super key element that is absolutely critical. It’s:
Sounds simple, right? Well, when I take on a new client I have to familiarize myself with their accounts, what I’m responsible for, and pull all of the elements together.
Here are where things go sideways:
1) Half directions
What do I mean by this? Well, here’s an example. A new client told me that she creates text images in PicMonkey. In her email she sent over, she said:
“This is the video explaining how to get the info you will need for the picmonkey collage. She explains how to get the names. I found the easiest way to organize from highest to lowest is loading them into a google sheet or excel sheet and arranging highest to lowest that way.“
When I went to complete this assignment I was given further instructions in a separate email that said, log into her XYZ account and get the info for the text image.
These emails came 4 days apart, in a separate thread. Keep in mind, I have multiple clients that I manage and I don’t memorize everything they all tell me.
How could this been alleviated? Clear, concise directions. Such as:
“Watch this video to learn how to obtain the names from the XYZ account. I will be sending the login information for XYZ in a separate email. After you watch the video, on Thursday, you will need to log into the account, create the text image, and then post the image on her Facebook (both personal and business pages).”
When Thursday arrived, I had to inquire about the login for XYZ account, and when I went to complete the task, I realized I had to go back and ask for directions on how to get the names. It was then that I was told that the instructions were in the video. Ok, cool. I then created the text image and posted it on Facebook. The client sent me an email hours later, upset. Why wasn’t it posted to her personal Facebook account?? Well, I wasn’t told to post to her personal page. In the end, who takes the fall for the error? Hint: it isn’t the client.
Organize, organize, organize. How do you manage all the details of multiple clients, projects, accounts, etc? Project management software. There a few out there, but the ones I use the most are Basecamp (I love!) and Asana (it does the job but it’s too left brained and not visual enough for me).
I have another client who is the go-between between me (the social media person) and the client. Hmph. This creates a whole other set of issues. Why?
Quite simply, there are questions and details that she wouldn’t think to ask for from the client because she doesn’t handle any social media at all. On a recent project I had to do, boy did it go sideways. I was instructed to create custom digital media for the client’s facebook postings. I was given a spreadsheet with quotes that were approved (so I was told). I then created custom image quotes. The images were then forwarded to the Project Manager who then sent them to the client.
The client came back and was upset because they were not the quotes she wanted. Huh? And, YIKES!!! The files were all over the place and emails were strewn about my inbox.
How could this been avoided? Management, & organization to start with. Had this project been in a project management software like Basecamp or Asana, the client could have reviewed the quotes, signed off before I worked on them, all of the images would have been in one location, and instead of using a go-between, I could have gotten the feedback and direction I needed directly from the client without having to wait to hear back from a line of people. All of the key stakeholders would have been involved and up to date on the projects, at the same time.
Before you hire a Virtual Assistant, it’s wise to ask how they manage their projects. And, it’s also very smart to make sure you take the time to prepare to hand off your project with as much detail as possible. In the long run, it saves you both time, energy, and money.
Moral of the story: communication is critical when working virtually. Not taking the time to provide your Virtual Assistant detailed, explicit instructions, and managing a project by email crumbs only sets both of you up for a future mishap.
So, I’ve been taking a terrific business plan writing course offered through http://e-jedi.org. Actually, I won a scholarship which is how I was able to attend. So far? It’s been incredibly awesome.
On May 30th I will be giving my final presentation. I decided to write about it because one of the key things that has come up during this class is my title! I had one woman graciously tell me that she saw me more as a ‘Solutions Provider’, a ‘Project Manager’, and a ‘Social Media Assistant’. I was so humbled! The challenge is though, what’s the appropriate title for me to use?
Since my business has bloomed into a full-time venture, I’m finding that I have to use the title that makes the best sense to potential clients. I could say that I’m a Virtual Creative Assistant with a flare for travel! Too long though…Another title that I absolutely feel is the best fit for me (although the url has already been taken) is Digital Nomad. Because I do travel quite a bit, and oftentimes work while traveling this title perfectly captures the essence of who I really am.
One of the things I have come across since identifying as a Digital Nomad is that there’s an entire tribe/culture of people who live just as I do. I’m hoping to connect with some fellow Digital Nomads when I take my next trip. I’ll be sure to write about it when it happens!
At the moment, I have some very incredible clients. I love the fact that my skill set has enabled me to create a dream job situation. I love, love, love that I can be just about anywhere with a power source, wifi, and a laptop and I’m in business. Pure awesomeness!!
I’ve also updated my portfolio section to include some of my recent clients. My real estate investor guy isn’t featured because I haven’t figured out just yet how to showcase the projects I’ve done for him.
At the chiropractors office today, my back cracker was asking me what I do for work. As I began to explain what I do, and shared with her who I was working with locally, a door opened. Turned out she was trying to get in touch with my client to invite him to a local event. My heart soared when she said, “Well, aren’t you an answer to my prayers!”.
I LOVED the fact that I was able to help connect her. What’s even more exciting is that she invited me to do a work-trade with her. I need treatment, and she needs social media. How awesome is that?!!
It’s a bit strange, but the community I’m living in right now doesn’t really have a whole lot going on in the digital space. It’s still a really small town. From my perspective, I see an opportunity, and I’m thrilled to see what I can create. Whatever happens, I’m super excited to be working with yet another locally owned business!
Below is the direct mail piece I created for my current client, Bell’s Laundromat. I’ve had such a blast working with him. His visions of being more than just a laundromat is really inspiring. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to help connect him with the community.
As I sat down in the coffee shop the other day, I started to think about what I wanted to share with others. What did I want to talk about? Using my social media channels for both work and personal use creates a situation that calls for balance.
Then, I began to write. What things in my personal life did I talk about a lot? Food, environment, art, awesome design, inspirational music, lyrics, stories, art, etc, and of course words. I love intellectually stimulating conversations. I love the etymology of words, quotes, and anything that requires verbiage turn the hamster wheels in my head.
I decided to start sharing on these topics on my twitter feed. And? Well, I already made some posts to my account and within 24 hours I’ve been retweeted and gained 3 new followers.
Not bad for deciding what I wanted to talk about and then doing it. I want my story to come through the content I share. Because if you look past what I’m sharing, you will see that it echoes who I am as a person. I’m not interested in trying to be someone I’m not.
Because being me is the only way to be.
I look forward to sharing some of the beautiful musings I come across. And I hope that somewhere along the line I can brighten someone’s day, make someone question a perception they hold onto tightly, and most importantly, bring awareness to the very real challenges that we, as a human race, are currently facing.
I shared this on my twitter feed, but due to the brevity of characters what I really wanted to say was, this song is one of the ways I start my day. And the words to this song uplift my heart, and steer my thoughts towards the ones that will empower me.
Happy New Year! It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, and I figured now is as good a time as any to update. Since late November I’ve been working with a client that I found on Elance.
My official title? Content Curator. I’m responsible for finding content, submitting what I find to the person who chooses what will be posted, and then writing the copy for whatever was selected for the day.
What’s interesting about this position is that I’m prohibited from disclosing the client’s name. I worked at companies in the past where I had to sign an NDA that prohibited me from talking about any of their secret products they were developing, but I was never told not to mention the company’s name.
So, as I was updating my resume and portfolio, I thought what an interesting dilemma this is. What do hiring managers think when they see work listed on a potential candidate’s resume where they are unable to say who the client is?
Well, I had to go ahead and update my stuff despite my concerns. If someone is interested in hiring me, I will cross that bridge when I get there.
In the meantime, the learning experience on this project has been fascinating. All of the people I work with, I know only through the communication platform known as, Slack. It’s like a glorified chat room. To make it even more fascinating, some of my collaborators are in another country. One person is in Romania, and another in Paris. The rest of us are scattered across the United States and Canada.
I have to say that my experience working for them has been really awesome. The only part that’s a bit challenging is the work hours. I’m required to be on-line by 7 am, three days a week. I never have been a morning person, and being alert that early has been the only real challenge.
Well, I’m off to pick up my search for an additional remote position. Working virtually is awesome. I love that I can be anywhere with an Internet connection and get paid to work from home.
UPDATE: I was able to use the Company name they originally provided when I landed the job through Elance a few months ago!