5 Routines You Can Implement Now To Make You a More Efficient Virtual Assistant

If you are not working with regular routines in your VA business, and instead handling everything ‘as it comes up’, you are probably wasting time and risking burnout.

Routines are an excellent way to bring regularity into your VA business.

All business owners have lots of balls in the air, and it’s important to manage them well regularly, so none of them drop.

One of the best ways you can manage your ever-changing workload is to implement regular routines that can help you to keep on top of what needs doing, prioritize it accordingly, and get it done.

Routines improve your productivity and efficiency – and they don’t have to be boring.

First, here are some ‘don’t do this’ tips for you:

Don’t open your email first thing in the morning. Save the first hour of every day for you. Opening your email as soon as you sit down to work means that you are letting others set your priorities. Set your own priorities for the day and then tackle your email.

Don’t leave notifications open all day. There is no reason for others to interrupt your work flow when you work alone. Schedule times during the day to check in on things that you would normally get interrupted by, and keep those ‘check’ times short so you can stay on task and get your work done.

Don’t forget to take breaks. Working all the way through the day is not productive, and it’s not good for your health either. Be sure to schedule in regular breaks (they can be short!) so you can come back to your desk refreshed.

Knowing what not to do is one thing – making sure you aren’t doing it is another. Are you guilty of any of these things?

Here are 5 routines that can help you start working more efficiently today:

1. Beginning of Week Routine

At the beginning of each week, set your schedule for the coming week. What do you plan to do, and when? Using your calendar to block out time for what you need to get done is an excellent way to preserve that time before the day arrives. Book in 30 minutes to lay out your week and hold those times sacred!

2. Morning Routine

First thing each morning, set a series of things that you need to do for your business - that might be checking your bank account, or doing some business correspondence/follow up, or answering your social media messages. Book in 30 minutes every morning before you start serving others to look after your own business.

3. Midday Routine

Midway through your day, create a routine that helps you stay focused and sharp. That might be checking in on your email or social media platforms – for a scheduled amount of time (again, I suggest 30 minutes!). But maybe it’s just getting out for a quick walk, having lunch away from your desk, or reading a book. Clearing your mind of the things that you have been working on is important to come back to your desk refreshed.

4. End of Day Routine

Before you pack it up for the day, be sure to set up your task list for the next day. It is easiest to prioritize what you need to do when you are not under pressure to do everything ‘now’. By setting your priorities for the following day, you can move and shift things around so that your workflow is efficient.

5. End of Week Routine

At the end of each week, take a few moments to reflect on what you have done. Reporting and analytics are great things to do at the end of the week – they show you what is working for you, and doing this on Fridays helps you close off the week knowing just how your business is doing.

Scheduling time in your day (even just a little) every day also helps you to avoid ‘fitting in’ managing your business around your client work. You must make your own business a priority, just like your clients work.

Managing your business well means looking at it every single day – which many VAs do not do.

Putting routines in place doesn’t have to be boring – in fact all you are doing is putting a framework in place to look after very important areas in your business.

Staying organized and prioritizing what you need to get done helps you become more efficient, and more successful.

And routines are a great way to break your day into regular activities. Try one or all of these routines for yourself – you’ll look forward to it once you get it working for you!

If you need some more help getting organized or trying to manage your time better, check out my Work Smarter: Time Management for VAs program here. You will learn 10 action steps you can take now to start managing your time better. Time is money when you are a VA, so make yours work for you.

About the Author: Tracey D’Aviero is a Virtual Assistant Coach, Trainer, Speaker and Author. After operating a busy VA business of her own since 1996, Tracey began teaching others to run their VA businesses in 2010 through Your VA Mentor. In 2016 she purchased the CAVA and GAVA VA associations and now teaches and coaches VAs exclusively. She has a vast amount of experience working in many different industries which helps her to offer her students and coaching clients a unique perspective and sound advice. She is a proud advocate of the Virtual Assistant industry. Learn more about Tracey’s journey in the VA industry here.

How to Prioritize Your VA Tasks So You Get More Done

Prioritizing your task list is a good idea when you have a lot of things to get done.

What kind of system do you use to keep your VA business organized?

As a Virtual Assistant, we often have many people throwing tasks and things to do our way – and that can get out of hand very quickly.

And of course, the squeaky wheel often gets the grease – so sometimes the pushier clients try to tell us when we need to do our work.

The more organized you can be yourself, the more you can manage your own workload and prioritize your own tasks.

It is important when you are working with multiple clients that you are the one who prioritizes things, and not the clients.

Being organized takes practice and experience, and learning some techniques to do it better is always a good thing!

1. Keep a master list.

Start by writing down everything you need to get done. A master list is a really good tool to get things out of your head and help you decide what needs to be done, and when. Take your master list and break it into daily work items as necessary, but that master list is important to start with.

2. Work tidy.

Are you a piler or a filer? How do you keep things organized on your desk or computer? Working tidy is a good concept – only keep what you are working on in front of you, and put away everything else. If you don’t use paper, then think of this in terms of web browser tabs – close everything you are not using so you can concentrate on what you are doing. When you focus on just the task at hand, you will work more efficiently.

3. Always be on time.

When you are providing support for a lot of different people, you need to really use your calendar to keep things on track. Set appointments and task start times, and make sure you hold to them. Use meeting agendas to keep them running on time. When you start everything on time, that is the beginning of excellent time management.

4. Respect your stop times.

As much as start times are important, stop times are even moreso. You have to make a plan to complete a task in a certain period of time, so that you can be the most productive. If you are supposed to stop working on something in an hour so you can move along to something else, do that. Our brain can work much faster than we think – if we set an hour to get something done, we can do it. If you leave the ‘stop’ time open, you can get distracted and take longer to complete everything you do.

5. Use a prioritization matrix.

To help you decide what you should do first, or next, consider using a prioritization matrix. There are many varieties of them, so find one that works for you. A sample one could use the parameters Urgent -> Important -> Can Wait -> Doesn’t Need to Be Done. Not everything is urgent, but important things need to get done before those that can wait. When you identify the urgency of each task you can put it in your calendar to do at the right time. And definitely don’t forget to remove those things that don’t really need to be done to free up your time for the important and urgent stuff.

If you need some help getting organized or trying to manage your time better, check out my Work Smarter: Time Management for VAs program here. You will learn 10 action steps you can take now to start managing your time better. Time is money when you are a VA, so make yours work for you.

About the Author: Tracey D’Aviero is a Virtual Assistant Coach, Trainer, Speaker and Author. After operating a busy VA business of her own since 1996, Tracey began teaching others to run their VA businesses in 2010 through Your VA Mentor. In 2016 she purchased the CAVA and GAVA VA associations and now teaches and coaches VAs exclusively. She has a vast amount of experience working in many different industries which helps her to offer her students and coaching clients a unique perspective and sound advice. She is a proud advocate of the Virtual Assistant industry. Learn more about Tracey’s journey in the VA industry here.

7 Tips to Market Your VA Business Better On Social Media

Are you using social media to market your virtual assistant business?

Social media is free, but if you aren’t using it correctly in your business, it could be costing you more in time than you are getting out of it.

The best way to grow your VA business is to create and nuture relationships with your audience of potential clients – and doing this online is both convenient and cost-effective, when you do it right.

Here are a few tips that might help you do social media better:

1. Understand the draw of each platform.

Not all social media platforms are the same. That’s why you should not post the same things to each of them and expect the same result. What are people looking for when they use each one? Does your content fit the platform? I like Twitter and Instagram but I don’t get clients from either platform, so I don’t market my business much there. Facebook and LinkedIn are a much better fit for who I am trying to reach.

2. Know who you are speaking to.

It’s important to get your messaging right, no matter which platform you are using to get your message out. When you understand who it is that you are trying to find, you will be able to find them congregating online more easily.

3. Get super clear on your messaging.

Look at your last week of social media posts. If you were your potential client, would your content stand out? Or does it blend in with what everyone else is posting? Clarity in messaging means the words and images you use will pop out to those who are looking for the kind of help you can provide.

4. Invite engagement and interact.

When you post on social media, you need to be aware of who is responding or reacting. Invite engagement by posting questions and asking for feedback or responses. And always make sure you respond to every person who does comment.

5. Schedule content and be spontaneous.

Using a social media scheduling software like ContentCal (affiliate link) is a great way to be able to plan your content and post it regularly. It helps you to plan ahead and not get stuck about ‘what to post today’. Your messaging becomes more cohesive with a plan. Don’t forget about being spontaneous too. Log in at least every couple of days to share something current and spark conversations.

6. Be consistent.

You will hear the word consistency often where social media is concerned. If you are using it as a marketing tool, don’t start and stop a plan. Your audience will grow over time, and making sure that you maintain a consistent schedule is important to keep your business top of mind for when clients need you.

7. Be recognizable.

Branding your social media is one of the best ways to share your business brand with any social media content you post. Choose consistent fonts and colors, and use your logo on your images so that people will begin to recognize your content when they see it. Repetition becomes familiarity, and familiar is good for your Know, Like and Trust factor!

Bonus tip: Talk to people.

Social media is not meant to be one-sided. You need to talk to people, not just sit and wait for them to talk to you. Be sure that you are reaching out to people often on social media. Not in a selling way, but in a support and help way. Answer questions in groups. Reach out to people if they are struggling.

Social media is a regular piece of our daily lives now – so that makes it a really great way to promote your business, but you have to make sure you are getting as much out of it as you are putting in.

For many more tips and information on how to use social media better to market your business, and what platforms you should be marketing on, I’ve recorded a video on my Youtube channel for you. Watch it here!

About the Author: Tracey D’Aviero is a Virtual Assistant Coach, Trainer, Speaker and Author. After operating a busy VA business of her own since 1996, Tracey began teaching others to run their VA businesses in 2010 through Your VA Mentor. In 2016 she purchased the CAVA and GAVA VA associations and now teaches and coaches VAs exclusively. She has a vast amount of experience working in many different industries which helps her to offer her students and coaching clients a unique perspective and sound advice. She is a proud advocate of the Virtual Assistant industry. Learn more about Tracey’s journey in the VA industry here.

10 Places to Find Virtual Assistant Clients

Are you still struggling to find clients for your VA business?

When we start our Virtual Assistant business, we all have the same vision – working on our own schedule, clients calling with work they need done, and money coming in easily.

After a while that shine goes away and we realize that it’s much harder than we thought it was going to be to find those wonderful clients.

But it doesn’t have to be!

If you are struggling, you need to look at what you are doing to find and sign clients.

Tracey D'Aviero

The first thing you need to identify is where you are looking for clients.

Here are 10 places you can find potential clients to connect with:

1. Facebook

You can find clients in Facebook groups (go and join the entrepreneur groups, not the VA groups!). Start or join conversations with people who are talking about what kind of support they need.

2. LinkedIn

Use the search function in LinkedIn to find people who might be able to use your services. Choose an industry to target and do some outreach to active LinkedIn users.

3. Your phone or email address book

You know more people than you think you do. Go through your phone or email address book (or your Facebook friends!) and look for people who could potentially be your clients, or who might know someone who could use your services.

4. Bulletin boards

Locally small business owners use bulletin boards in public places to post their business card. Find and connect with these people on social media and start to build a relationship to see if they need your support.

5. Referrals

Ask your family and friends if they know anyone that might need your services. You have to be very clear on what you offer and who you can best support, but once you know that, it’s easy to ask for referrals.

6. Former employers or clients

Reach out to people you have worked with before to see if they need any help, or if they know anyone who does. Also see if you can get a testimonial from them if you haven’t yet, to put on your LinkedIn profile or website.

7. Email list

If you aren’t building an email list yet, you need to start. These are people who are interested in what you have to offer – and they will be your warmest audience for prospects.

8. Networking event

Attend a local or virtual networking event to connect with people who are looking to connect with other business owners. Remember every small business owner needs support – get out there so they can see you are there to help!

9. Professional associations or organizations

Join your local chamber of commerce or business group where entrepreneurs are connecting. Surrounding yourself with people who are looking to grow their business is an excellent way to find people who will need to outsource work to a VA.

10. Job boards

Of course job boards are a great place to look for clients. These are people who are looking for help right now. It is important to be able to respond quickly, so be sure to have a draft proposal ready to fill in with their requirements to increase your chances of getting an interview.

Clients are everywhere. These are just 10 places to look.

The key is to be looking every day, and to not just be asking people if they need your help, but to be building relationships with communities of people so that they see your expertise.

Once you get talking to people daily about what they need help with and how you might be able to help them, it’s time to invite them to a sales conversation (don’t do this in your first interaction, please!). I’ve recorded a video on my Youtube channel to talk about how to handle that sales conversation. Watch it here!

About the Author: Tracey D’Aviero is a Virtual Assistant Coach, Trainer, Speaker and Author. After operating a busy VA business of her own since 1996, Tracey began teaching others to run their VA businesses in 2010 through Your VA Mentor. In 2016 she purchased the CAVA and GAVA VA associations and now teaches and coaches VAs exclusively. She has a vast amount of experience working in many different industries which helps her to offer her students and coaching clients a unique perspective and sound advice. She is a proud advocate of the Virtual Assistant industry. Learn more about Tracey’s journey in the VA industry here.

Calculating Your VA Rates Properly is Critical To Your Success

Do you know how much you need to charge to keep your VA business operational, profitable and sustainable? If you haven’t taken the time to do the math yet, it’s time!

If you are working with clients right now but you are still struggling with making money, you need to look at what you are charging clients.

I was extremely discouraged this week to witness a conversation taking place in a VA group.

A VA reached out for some advice around what she called logistics.

She has two clients that she is working for 20 hours a week each – a total of 40 billable hours a week. Great, eh? I think that’s wonderful to have a full VA business with just two clients!

Her concern was that she didn’t have time to add another 20 hour/week client, but she needs to because the 2 current clients are not earning her enough to pay her bills.

The logical answer for this response is that her rates are too low and she needs to raise them. If you are billing 40 hours a week and you can not pay your bills, it’s completely obvious (to me) that you are not charging what you need to charge.

She said that she was charging the going rate for VA work in her area, because her clients would not pay more (and yes, her rate is MUCH too low to operate a business).

Some VAs stated that perhaps her bills were too high (not that her rates are too low). Ummm … here’s the thing … if you know how much you need to earn in your business, then you must set your billable rate accordingly.

You can’t just pick a number out of the air.

You can’t just work for whatever a client says they will pay you.

And you can’t work 60 hours a week just to make ends meet.

If you are running a business, you get to make the decision about how much you charge.

I was not discouraged by her request for advice. I was discouraged by the fact that she thought that the answer was to add another client.

And don’t get me wrong, I am not criticizing this VA at all. She is absolutely not the only one with this mindset. I am so happy that she reached out to get advice, because many VAs just never do.

I was also annoyed by the absolutely awful advice she was getting from the other VAs in the group – to get subcontractors. When you can not pay your own bills, you NEVER bring someone else in to your business.

And if your rate is too low to begin with, you can NOT pay someone else even less per hour to do the same work.

The only logical solution in this situation is to raise your rates.

Yes, that might mean that you lose clients. But you will burn out and lose your business entirely if you don’t.

Clients are everywhere. We are virtual – we do not have to settle for clients who do not see our value, or who tell us what they will pay us.

Clients are allowed to have a budget, of course, but it is NOT their right to tell us what we can charge. They can only tell us if they agree to pay it.

Calculating what you need to charge to make your business sustainable is your right as a business owner.

In fact, it’s your responsibility as a business owner.

Do it properly, and then craft service offerings that provide value and support for your clients.

Then go out and find those clients. I promise you they are out there, and you and your business will be in better shape because of the math you do!

If you need to figure out how much your billable rate should be, download my free Rate Calculation Package and figure it out! It will show you the variety of ways you can bring revenue into your VA business so you can make sure you are charging the right amount starting now!

About the Author: Tracey D’Aviero is a Virtual Assistant Coach, Trainer, Speaker and Author. After operating a busy VA business of her own since 1996, Tracey began teaching others to run their VA businesses in 2010 through Your VA Mentor. In 2016 she purchased the CAVA and GAVA VA associations and now teaches and coaches VAs exclusively. She has a vast amount of experience working in a many different industries which helps her to offer her students and coaching clients a unique perspective and sound advice. She is a proud advocate of the Virtual Assistant industry. Learn more about Tracey’s journey in the VA industry here.