Just One Hour Can Make a Difference in Your VA Business

Just One Hour Can Make a Difference in Your VA Business

It is often said that time is a non-renewable resource, especially in your Virtual Assistant business where time is money.

If you waste an hour - whether it's an hour a day, a week or a month, you could be wasting valuable time.

Many VAs bill their clients by the hour, so it stands to reason that they are hyper-aware of time - but are still not always able to control it well.

When we don't have a lot of clients, we waste time doing research and setting up our website ... usually more time than we need to.

When we do get clients coming in, we often run from client task to client task and don't pay much attention to our own admin or marketing tasks.

What if I told you an hour can make a difference in your business?

It's true.

When you get really clear on what you need to get done - and you focus on just that, you can actually stretch that hour of time into what seems like a lot longer period of time.

Here are a few ways an hour can make a difference in your VA business:

One Hour a Day

I recently attend an event where Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Success Principles) was speaking. He shared one of his daily routines - he spends 20 minutes a day reading, 20 minutes a day meditating, and 20 minutes a day exercising. That's an hour. You may not think you have a spare hour, but if you realize that he says his best ideas come when he quiets his mind, the you realize what great advice this is. If you can find 20 minutes a day for each of these activities (and really, who can't?), you can set yourself up for Jack Canfield kind of success.

One Hour a Week

I am reading a book called Clockwork by Mike Michalowicz as part of my business book club. It is about how to put your business on autopilot (so to speak). There is a big framework, of course, but one of the most important pieces of information I have gotten from this book is to spend an hour a week 'designing' your business. That means looking at your numbers, considering your goals, and analyzing your strategies. Many VAs never do this, but it is so valuable. You want to make sure that everything you are doing is leading you towards your goals. Focusing on the design for just one hour every week is an excellent way to keep on top of your goals.

One Hour Whenever You Need It

I often tell this story about my cousin Justin. He gave me some of the best business advice I've ever heard (and he hates it when I credit him, but I do anyway). He told me once that if you feel like you are overwhelmed and too busy, take an hour and spend it in your project management system. Look for things that can be done more efficiently, delegated, removed completely, or completed quickly. When you have too much to do the sense is to run from one thing to another but it's much more effective to take another look at what you have on your list. It works, I tell ya! I do it all the time. Try it.

An hour is an important increment of time to Virtual Assistants. Many of us bill our clients hourly.

But don't forget about your own business. It's important to make sure that you are taking good care of yourself, and your plans.

Whether you take an hour right now, every day, or every week, you'll be heading in the right direction!

For more tips on time management, check out my free VA training videos on Youtube. There are more than 50 free videos there for you!

5 Important Reasons to Document Your Business Procedures

Creating business procedures for your Virtual Assistant business helps you with more than just productivity.

"The only difference between a mob and a trained army is organization." - Calvin Coolidge

When I work with Virtual Assistants to help them make their business better, we often talk about developing standard operating procedures.

Many VAs don’t have something like this in their business. They often feel that if they are the only one doing things that it’s not necessary.

But I’ve got 5 reasons  that might change your mind!

1. Speeds Up Your Work

Writing out a procedure for how you do something might seem mundane if it’s something you know how to do, but it can actually help you get faster at completing that task. When you have to use brain space to think about what to do next, it can slow you down.

Okay, so it probably won’t take you an extra hour to do something without a procedure, but if you have even been distracted by something while you are mid-task, I bet you could be well served by having that process documented so you could just jump back into the step where you left off. Try it – you will be surprised!

2. Sets Standards In Your Business

Documenting what you do sets the standard for how you want it done in your business. Taking the time to write the steps out one by one when you do something the ‘right’ way ensures that you will not cut corners on the task.

Setting standards is a very professional thing to do and can set you apart from your VA colleagues. You can assure your clients that you take their work seriously and that everything will be done the same way, every time.

It’s like using a recipe when you cook. To make it the exact same way every time, you follow the recipe to a T (except for pasta dough and some bread, which depend on room humidity, but that’s another article). 😊

3. Determines Billable Time

When you have the detailed actions steps on how to perform any task (without missing any steps!), you can also set a standard amount of time to each of those steps. When you do things the same way and in the same order every time, it should take you roughly the same amount of time each time you perform that task.

Then you can take your procedures and assign billable time to those tasks. This is a good way to bill your VA clients – instead of billing them by the hour you can charge them per task. That way the faster you get at something, doesn’t affect the revenue that you make to do it.

Who wants to get better at doing something and then make less money to do it? Not me!

4. Allows You to Bring in Help

When you have procedures that are set to your standards, and that you know are accurate, you can bring in help anytime you like. If you want to have subcontractors do work for you, you can provide them with the documented steps on how you want the task done, and you can tell them how long that task should take them to complete.

Procedures are very important when other Virtual Assistants are doing work for you. You have less to check when you know that they are doing things exactly the way you want them to. And you have better control over your expenses when you can tell them how long something should be taking them to complete (if they are having trouble adhering to your timing, have a conversation about it and make adjustments where necessary).

5. Helps You Take Time Off

Along the same line as getting help, you can actually take time off more easily when your business tasks are documented.

When you have your clients look after a couple of things (I always have my clients run customer payments as necessary if I’m out of the office long term), you can provide them with a detailed how-to so they can get things done. Or if you have another Virtual Assistant acting as backup for you, you can also provide your procedures to them and you will know that they are doing things the way you would if you were doing them.

So, what do you think?

As much as developing the actual procedures takes time and might seem like a boring or time-consuming task, it is really an important part of your business. It is helpful in many ways and it’s something you should really consider doing.

You can start slowly. Whatever you plan to do next, write it down as you go. Continue with the next task, and before you know it you’ll be on your way to a full fledged binder of procedures. Have fun!

For more tips on getting good business foundation in place, watch this video on Boundaries and Procedures on my YouTube channel. There are more than 40 free training videos for VAs there!

How to Get Your Groove Back

computer workIt can be difficult to find that productive groove you once had. It happens when you’re dealing with burn out. It also occurs when you’re coming back from a vacation or time away from your business. So how do you find that productive groove? Where do you find the motivation and the enthusiasm to get back into the swing of things?

1. Choose Just One Small Thing and Focus on It – One of the reasons it can be tricky to get your groove back is the feeling of overwhelm. There may be a long list of tasks that need to be accomplished and looking at that list just makes you feel like going back to bed. Rather than trying to do everything, choose one task and focus on that task.

It may be something as simple as cleaning out your email box or as tricky as planning a new product launch. The act of focusing on one task makes everything more approachable. You’ll likely find that as you delve into the task you get your groove back. If not, then choose one task tomorrow and the next day and the next until you are feeling back to normal.

2. Set Aside A Little Time – One of the things that non-business owners don’t really understand is that when you’re self-employed and own your own business, you’re always at work. You wake up thinking about your business and you go to sleep thinking about it. It can be a little claustrophobic.

And if you’re coming back from time away from your business, you may resent the demands for your time. Instead of trying to dive back into the 24/7 mentality, simply dedicate an hour or two to working on your business. Spend the rest of the day living life and doing other things. To be honest, this is often the best way to run a business because it helps you live a more balanced life.

3. Stop Overthinking It – There’s a good possibility that you’re putting too much pressure on yourself to get back into fighting form. Rather than letting your thoughts work you into a frenzy, stop thinking about it and just do it. Seriously, sit down and start working. Perfection isn’t expected, production is. Release those limiting thoughts and get back to what you do well.

Getting your groove back is often setting the intention to put one foot in front of the other and to trust that you’ll get it back. Taking small steps and being kind to yourself is a good start.