How to Stay Committed To Your Business

YES!When starting your own business it’s often easy to get yourself started, but a lot harder to keep yourself going when things get a bit more tough.  Here are ten tips to help you stay committed.

Set goals.  Without goals, there’s really not much reason for you to be in business.  If you want to stay connected to your business, it helps to make yourself realize why you’re in business to begin with.

Keep goals in mind.  You started your business for a reason.  You need to keep that in mind so you don’t get weighed down by the day-to-day of your work.  Keep little pictures or other memorabilia around that remind you of why you’re doing this is the first place.

Be flexible.  There’s not a one-size-fits-all method to success; you might have to try a lot of things before you find what’s right for you.  The key is to be flexible and willing to try new things when things aren’t working for you.

Be persistent. While you may want to change when things aren’t working, you can’t give up on everything so quickly.  You have to be willing to keep trying and keep going even if things don’t go well.

Make it fun.  We all want to do things that are fun, and shy away from things that aren’t.  Make sure the avenues you pursue are not only profitable, but enjoyable to you.  If you have stuff you need to do that isn’t as fun, try turning it into a game, just like you probably do with your kids to get their chores done.

Find supportive people.  It’s a lot easier to stay committed to something if there are people on the sidelines cheering you on.  Take time to talk to people who are supportive of your business.  If you don’t have many, try finding people like you online and at local classes so you can encourage each other.

Get help.  If you’re like most people, you probably think you can get your business going on your own.  And if you’re like most people, you probably can’t.  Starting your own business is a big job, and it’s perfectly normal to need a little help or guidance.  Try to find a mentor who has already been successful in your area to guide you and give suggestions.  They will also be a constant reminder that what you’re

trying to do is achievable.

Review what you’ve done.  If you’re feeling like you want to give up or just feel beaten down, take out a pen and paper and write down what you’ve accomplished since you started your business.  Even if it’s just little stuff, write it down.  By the time you’re finished you’ll probably feel better realizing how much you’ve accomplished.  Then keep the list and review it and update it every so often to keep yourself going.

Expand yourself.  You’ve probably found that when you have a new idea or project, you get very excited about it.  Try to constantly expand yourself by going to seminars, reading ebooks, getting newsletters, and doing other things to keep yourself coming up with new ideas and getting new projects.  The more new things you do, the more excited you’ll be about just doing your work.

Stay positive.  A positive attitude goes a long way in keeping you motivated.  Take steps to keep yourself looking on the bright side of life and work and it will be easier to keep yourself going.

Member Spotlight: Melissa Haddad

Melissa Haddad | MH Virtual Assistant Services

Melissa Haddad

CAVA: How long have you been a CAVA member?

MELISSA: 8 months

CAVA: What was the experience or motivating factor that compelled you to join CAVA? Was there someone who influenced you to join?

When I decided to become a Virtual Assistant I searched the internet for some sort of Canadian something.  I didn't know what was out there, all I was finding was American or European information, until I found CAVA!  I continued my search, but there was nothing else out there for Canadian companies, so I decided to research more about CAVA and found that it was a fountain of resources and knowledge and there was no need for anything more!

CAVA: How does CAVA support you and your business?

MELISSA: CAVA has provided me with my forms, RFP's and contact with other Virtual Assistant's within Canada.  The forms I use, for example, my Service Agreement is from CAVA, I have tweaked it to suit my company, but the form is from CAVA.  The Confidentiality Agreement and Needs Assessment form are both from CAVA.  All of these resources are so valuable to me because it's where I begin my relationship with my clients.  It has become part of my process and without these forms the assignments would be misunderstood.  The first RFP I answered, I gained my first client from answering it!  The contacts I have made with other VA's has allowed me to think bigger with regards to my business and what future I can make for it.

CAVA: Please explain your services and specialty(ies) offered.

MELISSA: I am a Generalist Virtual Assistant, so I do whatever is needed for my clients, however I am a Customer Care Specialist.  This means I have built my business around taking care of my client's customers.  I offer my clients an all inclusive service for their clients, meaning, I offer the beginning to the end of their customer's experience.  I start with presales and quotations to scheduling appointments, taking calls and confirmation of scheduled appointments and follow up to invoicing and accounts receivables.  I  As my company is starting to grow into a Multi-VA company, my plan is to offer more in-depth services to what I already offer as well as more services that compliment and fill the gaps

CAVA: Please describe your ideal client.

MELISSA: My ideal client is a Mompreneur who is trying to juggle her business and family commitments.  She knows she can't continue to do it all, she knows she needs help and is willing to trust someone to do it.  She understands that taking care of her family is more important, but her clients need to be taken care of as well and needs someone who she can rely on to do that.  She also is a bit scattered and needs to be reminded of things and needs help getting processes together with strategies to assist her to stay on top of things.

CAVA: How many clients do you currently work with? Can you describe them and their businesses?

MELISSA: I am currently working with 12 clients.  I have 3 interior designers, 1 accountant, 1 photographer, 1 landscaper (male), 1 professional window cleaner (male), 1 grant writer (male), 1 mediator, 1 professional cleaner, 1 insurance broker and I just recently signed a woman who is a Point of Sale Consultant.  As you can see there many different industries represented.

CAVA: What is the biggest challenge you have faced in business and how did you overcome it?

MELISSA: Getting my niche and target market pin pointed.  I was in the OSEB program and they explained niching and target market, but it wasn't until I started working with my clients when I truly discovered my niche.  I fell into it, but really it was always there.  I have 20 years of Administrative Assistant experience with the focus being on Customer Service, so I have learned what it takes to be Customer Services oriented.  It wasn't until I joined the Top 6 Mastermind group and I truly realized it though.  I did a 45 minute video on how to pick my niche and after speaking with my business coach I was able to understand the message I want to portray to my prospects.  It wasn't easy, but it truly aligns with my Core Values and that is very important to me...I have to represent who I am at all times.

CAVA: What 3 business tips can you share with others?

MELISSA: Pick your Niche and Target Market first because it allows you to market yourself and your business offerings better to prospects. 
Market yourself, set up a Facebook business page, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, website, business cards and ensure your brand (your image, message, logo) is consistent throughout each platform and get out there and promote yourself...toot your own horn! 

Network.  You must get out and meet people, don't think of them as potential clients, think of them as referrals for potential clients.

CAVA: What is your favorite app or social media outlet and why?

MELISSA: Facebook is my favorite social media.  I belong to tons of local Facebook groups and try to go to the networking events.  I have promoted myself on one particular group and have gained half my clients from there.  I don't just sell, I interact and get people to notice me and understand I truly am the same person online as I am in person.  My next step is to get away from local and get into bigger geographic markets.

CAVA: What are you passionate about? (personal or business)

MELISSA: I want to give my family financial stability.  My family is the reason I started my business.  My husband works downtown Toronto and he commutes almost 4 hours a day.  If I worked downtown, I could make up to $50,000 to $55,000, but at what cost.  My children would be in daycare and we would barely be able to see them during the week.  Plus, between the daycare and travel costs, I'd take home much less then if I took a position locally, which there are none anyways.  I also want to show my children you can truly be whatever you want to be, you just have to work hard for it. 

With regards to business, I believe failure is not an option and I believe I need to go big or go home.  I want to grow my business, so I am able to take a day off or not have to work evenings or if my children have a school trip I'm able to go with them and still feel like my clients are still being taken care of.  I can only do this for myself by making a Multi-VA company.

CAVA: What is your dream vacation spot? Why?

MELISSA: My dream vacation spot is Egypt.  I have always had a fascination with the pyramids and Pharos and Cleo Petra, really anything to do with Ancient times.

CAVA: What is your guilty pleasure (TV show, sweet treat, etc.)?

MELISSA: I have a few guilty pleasures, I have a huge sweet tooth and really don't know when to stop.  I also love to binge watch TV shows, I have watched many series in the span of a week.

CAVA: If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the Title should be? (Please explain)

MELISSA: Wow, this is a really great question.  I know the biography would be slightly different for everyone, but the title itself would be... 

Genuine and Giving Woman Who Made us Laugh...A LOT! 

Would you like to be featured in our CAVA Member Spotlight? It's easy! Just go to http://www.jotform.ca/pamivey/CAVASpotlight to complete and submit your interview. ***NOTE: Only Full and Premium CAVA Members are eligible for this CAVA Member Spotlight perk.***

How to Stay Committed To Your Business

Decide. Commit. SucceedWhen starting your own business it’s often easy to get yourself started, but a lot harder to keep yourself going when things get a bit more tough.  Here are ten tips to help you stay committed.

1.  Set goals.  Without goals, there’s really not much reason for you to be in business.  If you want to stay connected to your business, it helps to make yourself realize why you’re in business to begin with.

2.  Keep goals in mind.  You started your business for a reason.  You need to keep that in mind so you don’t get weighed down by the day-to-day of your work.  Keep little pictures or other memorabilia around that remind you of why you’re doing this is the first place.  

3.  Be flexible.  There’s not a one-size-fits-all method to success; you might have to try a lot of things before you find what’s right for you.  The key is to be flexible and willing to try new things when things aren’t working for you.

4.  Be persistent.  While you may want to change when things aren’t working, you can’t give up on everything so quickly.  You have to be willing to keep trying and keep going even if things don’t go well.

5.  Make it fun.  We all want to do things that are fun, and shy away from things that aren’t.  Make sure the avenues you pursue are not only profitable, but enjoyable to you.  If you have stuff you need to do that isn’t as fun, try turning it into a game, just like you probably do with your kids to get their chores done.    

6.  Find supportive people.  It’s a lot easier to stay committed to something if there are people on the sidelines cheering you on.  Take time to talk to people who are supportive of your business.  If you don’t have many, try finding people like you online and at local classes so you can encourage each other.  

7.  Get help.  If you’re like most people, you probably think you can get your business going on your own.  And if you’re like most people, you probably can’t.  Starting your own business is a big job, and it’s perfectly normal to need a little help or guidance.  Try to find a mentor who has already been successful in your area to guide you and give suggestions.  They will also be a constant reminder that what you’re trying to do is achievable.

8.  Review what you’ve done.  If you’re feeling like you want to give up or just feel beaten down, take out a pen and paper and write down what you’ve accomplished since you started your business.  Even if it’s just little stuff, write it down.  By the time you’re finished you’ll probably feel better realizing how much you’ve accomplished.  Then keep the list and review it and update it every so often to keep yourself going. 

9.  Expand yourself.  You’ve probably found that when you have a new idea or project, you get very excited about it.  Try to constantly expand yourself by going to seminars, reading ebooks, getting newsletters, and doing other things to keep yourself coming up with new ideas and getting new projects.  The more new things you do, the more excited you’ll be about just doing your work.

10.  Stay positive.  A positive attitude goes a long way in keeping you motivated.  Take steps to keep yourself looking on the bright side of life and work and it will be easier to keep yourself going.

Ten Ways To Balance Work and Family

balanceBalancing a work life and a home life can be difficult, but with a little knowledge and planning, you can make it work for you.  Here are ten tips that will help you balance your work life and home life.

1.  Set realistic goals.  It's pretty much a given fact that if you want to achieve something big, you have to make some sacrifices.  While the select few can manage, most people can't become a CEO and run a successful household.  When setting your goals, be realistic and don't stretch yourself too thin.

2.  Make schedules.  Keeping track of work and your family can be difficult to plan.  Try to keep a set schedule from day to day and week to week if you can.  Always remember to make a written schedule and give everyone a copy.

3.  Take time for yourself.  It's a natural instinct of mothers to sacrifice themselves for the good of their family.  However, it's important to remember that if you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of anyone else.  Try to schedule in at least a few minutes of "you time", whether it be going for a run, watching your favorite TV show, or just sitting in a room by yourself to relax for a few minutes.   

4.  Work from home.  If you can do your work over the Internet or phone, you may be able to swing working at least part of the time from home, giving you more time to spend with your family.  Just remember that there are a lot more things at home to distract you from getting your work done.

5.  Get some exercise.  Working out is not only a great way to stay healthy and gain energy, it's also a great way to spend time with your kids.  Instead of hitting the gym, go play ball in the park or take them for a walk.

6.  Take advantage of leave.  Most jobs allow you a certain amount of leave, but a lot of us end up not using it.  Make sure you know how much time you have and take it, whether you go on a vacation with your family or just use it to take a well-deserved rest day every so often.  

7.  Prioritize.  When making your to-do lists, figure out the things that are most important for you to do and get them done first.  If there isn't enough time to do everything, you won't feel as bad about what you have to cut.

8.  Take classes.  As many people will tell you, there's no manual on how to be a good parent and have a successful career.  But if you search around your community, you can find classes and seminars from people that have been where you are and managed to do well.  They can give you inspiration along with helpful tips and tidbits to get through your day.

9.  Watch for burn out.  Even if you schedule everything, take breaks, and do everything else above, what you're doing may just be too much for you.  Watch yourself for changes in mood or physical problems.  They could be a sign that you're burnt out and need to make some changes to your plans.  Remember, your health is important too.

10.  Learn to say no.  If you want to have a successful career and family life, you will have to learn to say no occasionally.  If you try to do everything, you're going to burn yourself out and not be able to take care of anyone.  Being a good employee and a good parent doesn't mean you need to do everything you're asked.

Expanding Your VA Business

TeamAs a virtual assistant it’s very easy to fall into the trap of working around the clock and doing everything all on your own. If you’re getting lots of clients and repeat work, that’s fantastic and speaks dividends about your services. How about now using that to your advantage?

Expanding your VA business makes sense on all levels – you’ll have the ability to grow a client base, you’ll have a pool of other VAs to help you on a regular or as-needed basis, and you can slowly make the transition into being more of a manager rather than doing all the work yourself.

Here are a few tips to help you expand your business.

Don’t turn down clients.

If you’re getting so busy that you’re turning down clients, it’s time to expand. Find a VA or two to start which you know provide quality work. Contract work out to them on an as-needed basis. This means that you deal with your clients and they remain your clients at all times, but you sub-contract some of your work out to other virtual assistants. The VA’s deal with you (not the client) at all times and you pay them for their services.

The best way to do this efficiently is to systemize the process right from the start. Set up a simple yet efficient billing system so that you pay subcontractors on the same day each month. Ask your subcontractors to submit invoices to you to help make record keeping easier, and keep track of all assignments so that you can check the accuracy of all hours billed.

It’s also important you keep efficient records of all projects. You can use an online system like Basecamp to help you do this or a simple calendar – it’s really up to you – just make sure that you can easily track all projects.

Drum up new business. 

As you build up a database of VAs who are available to take on new work, start drumming up new business. Market your services online and offline to gain new clients. Use online forums to let business owners know that you’re available. Advertise your services strategically both online and offline. Write and distribute articles on topic with your business. And basically let potential clients know that you and your team can help them with their projects.

A professional, well-laid out website will play an important role in helping you build your business. Include a full FAQ about your business and services. Let clients know that you have a wide pool of assistants that can help with a large number of tasks. And give them a detailed list of all your services. And don’t forget to make contacting you easy – include an email address, postal address and telephone number where possible.

Build up a great team. 

The key to making your expansion a success will be a great team working in the background. To do this, ensure that you treat your subcontractors fairly – offer good rates for their services, be respectful and try to give them new projects as regularly as possible.

Communication is also extremely important. Set up a system so that there are no chances for miscommunication. Ask your subcontractors to confirm new projects. Set clear turnaround-times and ask them to notify you in case they can’t meet their deadlines as soon as possible.

Building up your VA business is possible. It’s just a matter of thinking “big” right from the start. Good luck!

Breaks Increase Productivity

take a break

Are you working and working but just can't seem to focus and get stuff done?  You might even be considering seeing a doctor, but the solution may be much more simple than that - just take a break.  Taking short ten minute breaks throughout the day can help you refocus and re-energize so you're more productive once you get back to work.

Scientists and psychologists have actually done many studies that show how effective breaks can be.  In fact, many large businesses have now started adopting break times into the course of the regular day.  Employees are actually paid to sit at their desk and read, research topics they enjoy on the Internet, and do other things that interest them.  It's been shown that allowing these breaks actually increases productivity and employee satisfaction enough to compensate for the lost time plus some.

To get the most good out of your breaks, try making your activities something that will help increase production when you return to work, rather than something that simply distracts you.  Some great options include aerobic activity or relaxation exercises.  They'll clear your mind, while producing chemicals in your body that will boost concentration when you get back to work.

If physical exercise isn't your thing, or you just don't have the chance to do it at work, there are other things you can do to relax and clear your mind so you can get back to work.  Meditation or other breathing exercises only take a few minutes, but can help you feel better mentally and physically.  Not only does it help you focus, it can also lower your blood pressure and help reduce the physical signs of stress.

The biggest danger in taking breaks is not getting back to work when the break is done.  A lot of people will try to skip breaks because they're afraid they won't get back to work and the work won't get done.  But when you skip breaks, you can significantly decrease productivity and actually end up getting less work done.  The key is setting a time limit to your breaks and sticking to them.  If you have trouble, try setting a timer when you take a break, or having someone back you up by making sure you get back to work.

If you've been pushing too hard and have reached burnout, a ten minute break just isn't going to be enough.  If you are finding yourself feeling sick, tired, and only ever in a negative mood, especially about work, you are probably burnt out by work.  In this case, you not only need to incorporate short breaks into your day, you also need to alter your how and when you work and may even need an extended vacation.

Breaks are an easy and effective way to increase your results and become more successful with very little effort.

How To Prove You Are the *Right* Person For the Job

Guest Post By Tina Forsyth www.OnlineBusinessManager.com

Over the last years I’ve spoken with a lot of business owners who are searching for a new virtual team member. One of the questions I get asked all the time is “Tina, how do I know if the person I’m hiring can actually do the job.”

Young Woman Working at Home, Small OfficeToo often, business owners jump into a relationship with a new virtual support professional after just two brief conversations. After a few short weeks, things start to crumble – leaving the business owner (1) unsure of how and why things started to crumble and (2) feeling a little ‘gun shy’ about working with virtual support professionals moving forward.

So how can you, the Virtual Assistant, freelancer, virtual support professional of any kind, prove that you are the BEST person for the ‘job’ and are worth hiring? If you feel confident in your skills and abilities, you know you’re great at what you do AND you can clearly and concisely communicate this – you will make it super easy for clients to make a decision to hire you.

Here are three things you can do that will help you prove that you’re “the one”:

Get Testimonials

Most virtual support professionals don’t do this enough. When you do great work for your clients, ask them for a testimonial that you can post on your website and use in other marketing materials.

Here’s a tip to make it super easy: Draft the testimonial on behalf of your client and give it to them to edit. Business owners will often have a tough time coming up with a testimonial from scratch … but if they have something to edit, they will realize what they really want to share.

Keep Track of Your Own Successes

What successes have you helped your clients create? Those are your own successes as well, and are proof of your contribution to the business.
Keep track of these successes so that you can share these stories/examples when talking to new clients. If you offer visual/graphic services, create a portfolio of your work so people can see what you do.

This exercise is also a great confidence builder for YOU. You will likely be surprised (and very proud) to see how much you actually contribute to the success of your clients.

Date Your Clients First

There is no better way to prove yourself then to actually jump in and do some work for the client.

Offer to help out with a project before you commit to a longer working relationship -- I call this ‘dating’ the client. Make it clear that in the dating stage there are no strings attached – either you or the client can decide to discontinue at any time during the dating stage without any hard feelings.

If things go well, you can both jump into a longer term relationship with confidence.

By implementing these three simple steps, you will not only boost your own confidence, but also the confidence of the business owners you want to work with.

I’d love to hear from you – what else can you do or have you done to prove that you are great at what you do and are worth hiring? Please share your thoughts.

Strategies to Become a Better Decision Maker

good decisionBeing a good decision maker can help you in business and life. It’s been said that highly confident people make decisions clearly and stick to them rather than changing their minds or being indecisive.

And even if decision making doesn’t come naturally to you, it is a skill which can be built on. Here are a few tips to help you:

#1 – Start small. Even making small everyday decisions will help you accomplish the bigger goal. Small decisions such as what food to eat at a restaurant are not to be underestimated. A good way to start is the next time you’re eating out, look at the menu and decide what you’d like to eat. Then put the menu down and don’t change your mind. Don’t ask your companions what they’re having and base your decision on that - make the decision on your own and then stick to it.

Small steps like this can be empowering and help you to tackle the bigger decisions to come in the future.

#2 – Approach decisions logically. Many of us tend to make emotion-based decisions rather than logical ones. In business this can spell disaster. A good way to help you approach decisions in a logical manner may be to write down a list of pros and cons.

Simply grab a sheet of paper and label one side pros and one side cons. Then list all the good and bad points of your choice. Logically think through your comments and then make your decision. This way you can leave emotions out of the equation and concentrate purely on the facts.

#3 – Cut yourself some slack. Making decisions is a skill which can be learned but even pros don’t always make the right choices. Realize that making decisions effectively takes confidence and is a great first step, but your decisions may not always be the right decisions. If you happen to make the wrong decision, give yourself a break and take comfort in the fact that you thought out your decision clearly and logically and made the best choice possible at the time.

Being a good decision maker takes time and practice. However, it’s a worthwhile skill to develop. Making decisions regularly may help build your confidence level and also help people know where they stand with you – two great entrepreneurial qualities.

Advantages of Webcasting (Video)

Webcasting

With social networking being at a high point and increasing steadily, the drive for interactive websites is on the increase.

A lot of people want a website that’s not simply static and they’re looking for interaction when they log onto the net – from Twitter to Facebook to YouTube – we want to connect.

As an online business owner this means that adding a webcast to your online business is a great move.

First, what is a webcast?

In simple terms it’s a video recording placed on the web. Just like a TV offers traditional viewing, a webcast does something similar - but the video is streamed on the internet rather than the TV network.

A webcast can be anything from a video of you explaining how to do something to your viewers, to a two (or more) people interview, to an interactive online class.

The point is that you’re adding an interactive feature to your website and making it easier for visitors to give their feedback and get involved.

Anyone can start a webcast with a simple video recorder. One of the easiest methods is the Flipcam. It makes getting your videos on the internet drop dead easy. You can also use more sophisticated equipment to create news programs on a very high-end level.

There’s a lot of different equipment you can use and a little research will help you find the best. Once you’re set up with your video recording mode you can take things a step further and use a video editing service to add features to your recording which will really make the video stand out. There are many services online and a simple Google search will help you find the right one for you.

Webcasting is a great addition to your website. You’re making it easy for your visitors to interact with you while offering valuable information. This will keep them coming back to your site over and over again.

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