5 Great Business Tips for Summer
1) Develop An Organizational Business System
If you don’t already have an organizational system for your business, now is definitely the time to start. Different people work best with different systems, so, unfortunately, I can’t tell you which type to use. But, here’s a cool business tip for you. Paper or Plastic – I mean Digital! lol Some people like paper systems, because they can cross items off their list as they complete them. And some people like digital planners because they can send their lists to their phones, i-pads and have them on their computers.
Google Calendar can be a mix of both because you can set appointments online and then print out your calendar as well. You can also view it from your phone, and have reminders go off on your phone and computer too.
Personally, I like the feeling of crossing things off a to-do list, and I like to see them, so paper is what works for me. But like I said, everyone is different. Find what works for you and go with it! Here’s a FREE PAPER TO-DO LIST you can use if you like paper.
2) Start Planning
The first step in taking time off in your business is to start planning for it. How much time do you need to take off? You need to know how much work you need to do in advance so that your business doesn’t fall apart when you take the time off. This is such a great business tip.
Let’s say you want to plan for a two-week vacation. Well, if you blog 3 times per week, that’s 6 blog posts. You’ll also want to plan for your Twitter and Facebook status updates, as well as any promotions you are going to do before taking off on your vacation.
On the other hand, if you are going to be working a reduced schedule, you need to plan for that, as well. For example, if you normally work 20 hours per week within your business but need to cut it down to 10 hours per week in the summer, it’s time to figure out how much you need to do each week, so you can start working extra now to make up for it, and to make sure you schedule the most important tasks in your limited hours. This little business tip is GOLD!
When you figure out how much work will need to be done, don’t feel overwhelmed. We’re taking this one step at a time. You don’t have to do everything in one night.
Look at the big goal and work backward. Using the first example of someone who is going on a two-week vacation, let’s say you have four weeks before you leave. Well, if you wrote two extra blog posts for the next three weeks, you’d have the six you will need, plus one extra week to schedule your Twitter and Facebook updates to let people know when new posts are published.
3) Work Smarter
Now is the time to start working smarter, not harder. Like I said earlier, you can write posts now, and schedule them to publish later. I for one think this is an excellent business tip!
If the idea of writing extra blog posts gives you a big case of blogger’s block, start doing the following:
- Reuse old content – Take the content that is already on your blog and re-use it in a new way. Some examples include “Top 10 Lists,” where you list the links to some of the best tips you’ve previously written. If you don’t write tips per se, you can still use that idea and just call it a “My Faves” post where you list the links to some of your favorite previous blog posts.
- Get Readers to Create Content – Get your readers to help you create some content! Ask a question and ask them to answer it!
- Guest Posts – Ask some of your favorite bloggers to guest post on your blog! You can ask them to write an original blog post or ask for permission to post one of the posts that was previously written on their blog.
When it comes to taking time off during the summer, technology is your best friend! All the major blogging platforms let you write posts now and schedule them in advance. Your email newsletter service should be the same way. It would be impossible for me to know the facts on every single service out there, but all the ones that I know allow you to create your newsletter now and send it later.
HootSuite (https://www.hootsuite.com/) allows you to schedule social network updates, such as Twitter and Facebook. I use the free version, and it works just fine! Once you schedule your blog post and have the link for it, you can sign in to HootSuite and schedule an update with the post title and link on the publish date. It’s like you are right there, publishing it live at your computer, even though you are out on your vacation!
Delegating can be hard. Really hard. It’s kind of funny – you start a business because you want to be your own boss, but it can be really hard to start bossing other people around. Doing that requires letting go – and your business is a lot like your baby and putting that “baby” into someone else’s hands can cause you lots of anxiety and worry.
But eventually, you’re going to have to learn to trust, and start letting go…
You can let go in small steps. Let someone write your newsletter. Get someone else to answer your customer service questions. Have someone else post your items to your Etsy shop… Let someone else do what you are comfortable with. When the world doesn’t fall apart, let them do another task. It all depends on what your goals are.
So, where are you supposed to find these people? Well, you can hire one. Look online for a virtual assistant. You can go to sites like elance.com and guru.com, where you can post your job opening, and qualified people can “bid” on it.
These people will tell you how much they would charge you to take on the job. Now, don’t just pick the cheapest one. Look at their past work references! Just because it’s “cheap” doesn’t mean it’s good, and just because it’s “expensive” doesn’t mean it’s the best choice. Look at their past work and let that be your guide. Of course, you can also send a shout-out through Twitter or Facebook and see if any of your “friends” are interested in a side gig.
Another option is to find an intern. In most cases, interns do not get paid, but they should be learning something. So, you might be working with someone who has never used Twitter before. That’s okay. You can teach them! Yes, it will take more time, but you are getting work done for free, so you’re going to have to trade some time for that exchange. There are so many virtual assistants in the marketplace these days that will jump at the chance to be an intern. You can offer a testimonial for them to include on their website in exchange for the work they provide to you. Such a great idea!
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Do you do business like a woman or a man?
Did you know there are two distinct styles of doing business — a man’s way and a woman’s way? Neither is wrong or right. But this information could make a huge difference when writing a business email, starting a new project or even making a pitch.
People often tell me that in business my approach is pretty direct. I usually get straight to the point in meetings. I want to know the important information and whether we can do something or not. That’s called a man’s way of doing business. I learned this method when I worked in the Corporate World, otherwise, you never were heard being a woman. But, I can also change my style when the situation requires me to.
Here’s the Nitty Gritty on business:
A woman’s way of doing business involves talking about things at length. You have to communicate differently with a woman and discuss how things could /should work. She loves to be asked, “What do you think about this idea?” She usually comes at things with her “emotional side“.
There have been times when I got into strife by treating someone like a man when they wanted to do business as a woman. As soon as I realized this, I changed my approach and asked them how they’re doing, what they did over the weekend or how they feel about the project we’re working on. And our communications changed immediately.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re actually a woman or a man. In any workplace, you’ll come across men who like a woman’s way of doing business and women who do business like a man.
So look around at the people you work with. Do they do business like a man or like a woman? What about you? Do you prefer a man’s way or a woman’s way?
Use this awareness to have more fun in your business
Here are 3 additional tools to add to your repertoire.
- Women, you don’t have to be a bitch
I’ve come across women who have decided that they can only succeed by being big, bad, tough businesswomen. That’s simply not true! Women can be great manipulators in business. Ha, is this YOU?
Manipulation is considered crafty or even deceitful, and that’s one definition of the word. It also means to handle a situation easily and skillfully —that’s the kind of manipulation I’m talking about. When I see women operate as if they’re nasty or mean, I’m tempted to say, “Do you know how easy things would be for you if you used a little manipulation?” Are you one of these types of Business Women?
Even when people know you’re manipulating them, it still works in business
What if you could have fun with manipulation?
Asking someone questions is a great manipulation. A question is designed to dissolve any conclusions you might have and create a totally different outcome. It also allows the other person to give you feedback and ask their own questions.
If there’s a difficult conversation to be had with someone, the first thing I say to them is: “I’m confused. Can you help me with this?”
Never justify, never confront in your business.
If you force a confrontation, people have to fight you. No, not by using fists!
When you say you need help, perhaps because you missed something, the other person will try to fill in the blanks; they will try to help you.
This tool really works!
What you’re looking for is greater clarity and more awareness. It’s not about right or wrong or winning and losing.
The only time confrontation may be useful is when you desire to control a situation or to end a relationship.
- Men, you don’t have to be the commander-in-chief!
As I mentioned, a man’s way of doing business is quite direct. Many men have been taught that they have to give and follow orders.
They think they have to be the authority at all times and people should simply do as they’re told. This approach can lead to blind followers and that’s something you don’t want in your business. Do you really want that?
Invite the people you work with to contribute to your business
Every person in your company or business has a different perspective and their own awareness. So are YOU willing to tap into that? I’ve noticed that entrepreneurs rarely act like a “commanders-in-chief“.
Yes, their usual approach is, “What does this person know and what can they contribute?” Entrepreneurs constantly ask questions about every aspect of a business.
You can only do business as a man or a woman, but that could limit what’s truly possible in your business. Use this information to have ease of communication.
What if changing how you do business is as easy as changing your clothes?
Hit me up in the comments below and let me know what your opinion is!
So Quit Doing Everything Already!
At the beginning, you start your own business. And you absolutely love it! It doesn’t feel like work when it’s your passion, right!? I know just what you’re thinking…because I thought the same thing. Going into business for myself was the completely what I wanted to do. And I had no thoughts of the big QUIT word!
And then…your passion-based business takes over your entire life and now your business controls you. Isn’t that the truth? I mean, business is supposed to create some freedom into your life. No more boss, the corporate world is gone…life is a JOY once again. So…what the heck happened? I’ll tell you, right here in this post.
The #1 Secret to build and grow and business that aligns with your lifestyle….
Quit doing everything!
That’s right! Did your heart skip a beat just now when I said that? Yeah, I thought so…and I totally understand.
Are you worried that if you stop doing all the to-do’s…your business will shrivel up and die? Ha…I’m rolling on the floor laughing right now. NO, it’s not.
Does the idea of only doing some specific work make you feel like you’re missing out? What the heck are you missing out on? Work you DON’T want to be doing because you’d rather GO TO THE BEACH?
If you are an early entrepreneur, wouldn’t you like to build your business and lifestyle together from the get go? AND… still make a ton of money? I know if I was just starting out in my business I would. I may not know it all, but having your own business and creating a great lifestyle is critical in your decision making.
What if I told you that I can identify the tasks that are the best ones to do first…and the right ones to be done by only you.
When you are working through the process of where you are now and where you want to be, here are some questions to start asking yourself. You’re going to love this! I promise…
- What are your values? – You can determine your values by your former actions when confronted with a problem or decision that you had to overcome or make. These are the times that your real values emerge, not just the ones you say you believe in. Look back on your own choices and determine your real values. If you have made mistakes and gone against your core values, identify those times and determine how you can make a different choice.
- What are your skills? – Even if you’re not currently an entrepreneur, you already have skills that you can put to use as an entrepreneur. Focus on the deliverables and tasks that you provide your employer without too much help from others. These are the skills that you have that should be the basis of your entrepreneurial venture.
- What are your strengths? – You’ve heard the idea that you need to leverage your strengths but how do you even know what they are? Using a self-assessment, you can find out what your strengths are. When you know them, try to be honest so that your results come out realistic. Take off your rose colored glasses so that you can determine your real strengths.
- What are your weaknesses? – While you can improve upon your weaknesses, you should first leverage your strengths, but it’s important to know your weaknesses and accept them. If you know for example that you’re always five minutes late, accept it, instead focus on something positive. That doesn’t mean you don’t work on this habit, but don’t focus on it instead of your strengths.
Only when you know who you really are, the good and the bad, will you be able to truly know yourself. And this will help you to create a business and lifestyle you desire. ARE YOU READY?
I know you aren’t going to quit!
Now you know how important it is to Identify your “Uniqueness” so that you can focus on the right tasks and quit doing all the tasks. Because this will only lead to exhaustion and probably failure. That is one of the reasons you really need to hire a Virtual Assistant.
Find out how I can support you by checking this out NOW!
How Outsourcing Can Change Your Business
Ok, let’s get real on this how OUTSOURCING can help your business.
There’s so much to do when you have a business. Especially when you have an online presence, which most businesses do these days. From content creation, list building, a launch strategy, this is SO MUCH WORK! I can hear you saying that right now. And then you have to actually manage your business to boot. The list of tasks can seem unmanageable.
If you’re feeling the stress of it all, don’t worry—you’re not alone. And you don’t have to do this alone. Even if you’re a first-time business owner, OUTSOURCE part of the workload to a VIRTUAL ASSISTANT. They can/will make a task that feels insurmountable totally doable.
What Is the Idea of OUTSOURCING?
The idea of OUTSOURCING or working with a VA can be intimidating at first. But, YOU can build your business around having a Virtual Assistant that works with you, NOT for you. I can show you how to get it right. And I think that learning how to delegate is one of the best things an entrepreneur can do. Don’t you agree with that?
BUT it can be difficult to know what to delegate and when. Can you relate to that? Yes, you say in your best “I can relate” voice!
In this post, I’m going to give you the down-low on all things OUTSOURCING. I’ll teach you what to outsource, how to outsource, and even give specific ideas and lists of what to delegate.
What is OUTSOURCING?
Before I jump into how to outsource, it’s important to have a thorough understanding of what outsourcing is and why it’s important to run a successful online business.
Outsourcing is the process of hiring (either domestically or internationally) another team or individual to complete various activities for you.
Specifically, entrepreneurs will often hire a Virtual Assistant to offload tasks so they can get more done in their business.
The tasks you pass along may be monotonous or laborious, so you can be freed up to focus on what really matters. The tasks may also be those that you aren’t naturally skilled at (such as copywriting, proofreading, graphics, etc.), so you outsource OUTSOURCE that task to someone who is more skilled in that area.
I’ll get into the specifics of the types of tasks you can outsource to a Virtual Assistant a little later in this post. Deal?
But first, let’s answer the big “why”.
Why Should I Hire a Virtual Assistant?
I’ve talked with hundreds of course creators and I see the same thing happening time and time again.
We are all spending too much time on the small stuff!
If we were honest with ourselves, most of us are spending 80–90% of our time doing the maintenance tasks for our courses and only 10–20% of our time marketing and selling them. This means that we are spending MORE time on things that don’t make us MONEY. That is the reason WHY we are in business in the first place right?
However, if we could OUTSOURCE the majority of our maintenance tasks, then we would have more time to spend on the things that will actually sell our course and bring in income. YES!!!
The bottom line is this—your personal productivity is limited by time. Whether you have 10 hours or 80 hours a week to work on your online course, there is a limit.
When you start OUTSOURCING, that time gets multiplied. When a course creator OR any entrepreneur masters the art of outsourcing, there is literally no limit to what can get done.
By OUTSOURCING the tasks that aren’t core functions of your business, like customer care, editing, proofreading, billing, etc., you’re able to focus on the aspects of your online business that add value to the customer and will allow you to market and expand your business. Good thinking, right?
Before you go out and hire your first (or next) virtual assistant, there are a couple of investments you need to consider.
- The financial investment
- The time investment
The Financial Investment
You need to go into your outsourcing arrangement with a firm idea of your budget.
A virtual assistant’s rates can range dramatically, depending on who you plan to hire.
There are three types of Virtual Assistants (VAs) that you can hire:
Hire internationally: I’m writing this post from the U.S., so when I say “international,” I mean outside of the States. Many international Virtual Assistants advertise their services for as little as $3–$5 per hour, so if you have a limited budget, this is a good option for you. Keep in mind, however, that if you need to work with someone who has personal experience with your local market, you may want to reserve the work you do with VA services in this category to simpler, rote tasks that are easy to communicate virtually. You can find international virtual assistants using freelancer hiring platforms like Upwork.
Hire domestically: If you do have a need to work with someone closer to home, you may want to hire a VA domestically. You’ll often pay more for a Virtual Assistant that is based in the U.S. (and also the U.K. and Canada). If you are English-speaking only and you need help with tasks that require detailed communication, or if your work requires familiarity with local market trends, you may find that the increased investment is worth it to your business.
The average rates for Virtual Assistants in the U.S., the U.K., or Canada can range from $18–$40+ per hour. The best place I have found for domestic Virtual Assistants is to search entrepreneurial Facebook groups like Linda Henslee Enterprises. This is my Facebook group and from here you can check out what services I offer to the general public.
Hire a specialist: Lastly, you may want to hire an expert for a certain task for your business. Maybe you know your business needs an expert copywriter. Maybe you want to pay for a custom sales page or for a Facebook Ad to be created for your business. Know that you’ll pay more for these services, but it can be a worthwhile investment if the individual has proven results.
You should expect to pay anywhere from $50 per hour to thousands of dollars per project, depending on the scope of work. I suggest looking for personal recommendations other businesses provide when it comes to finding a Virtual Assistant. Try logging into The Teachable Tribe and asking who others have hired to get results.
The Time Investment
It’s important to note that there will likely be a time investment on your part to train your new Virtual Assistant.
This individual will be brand new to your business and your processes. I’ve found that it usually takes 1–2 weeks for a new Virtual Assistant to really get accustomed to a client.
During this time, communication is key. Have weekly meetings via phone, Skype, or Zoom to talk about the work that needs to be done for that week. If there is a complex task you need help with, shoot an on-screen video using a tool like Screencastify to show your Virtual Assistant exactly what needs to be done.
Yes, it takes time to train someone, but if you are willing to put in the time investment, you’ll end up saving yourself time in the long run! But, most Virtual Assistants are already trained in all the common software people use to do business so some training is not necessary! Just an FYI.
Where Do You Need Help?
If you have gotten to this point and you’re thinking, “This is the next right step for me”, then read on. I’ve created a step-by-step process to help you choose, hire, and train your new Virtual Assistant.
You physically only have a certain number of hours in a week to complete all the work that needs to be done to run your online business. Right?
So, it’s up to you to decide what your Most Profitable Tasks (MPTs) are in any given week. What is it that you do that will ultimately generate the most income?
Anything else that is taking up your time and energy is really distracting you from your MPTs.
Before you go on the hunt to find the perfect Virtual Assistant, you’ll need to know what tasks you are looking to outsource to your new VA.
What are you delegating so you can focus on your MPTs?
Again, you may end up hiring a generalist (a Virtual Assistant that can handle a variety of tasks) or a specialist (a Virtual Assistant who specializes in one specific area like bookkeeping, graphic design, proofreading,
Here is a list of 25 most common services offered by Virtual Assistants:
- Content Creation (blog posts or your course content)
- Email Newsletters
- Video Editing
- Sales Funnels and/or Facebook Ads
- Customer Service and/or Email Management
- Graphic Design
- Web Design
- Custom Sales Page Creation
- Social Media Management
- Community Management
- SEO Services
- Webinar Setup and Assistance
- Transcription and/or Data Entry
- Billing and/or Processes
- Internet Research
- Responding to Blog Comments
- Maintaining an Editorial Calendar
- Social Media Graphics
- Ebook Content and Design
- Accounting and/or Bookkeeping
- Affiliate Management
- Branding Services
- PR / Press Releases
Your tasks for today…
#1 Make a list of all the tasks that you do on a regular basis. Look back at your past week or even your current to-do list. From this list, circle all of the things that you could potentially hire someone else to take off your plate.
#2 Based off of the items you circled, decide if you want to hire a generalist or a specialist. From there, decide if you want to hire a domestic or international Virtual Assistant.
#3 Create a job description for your Virtual Assistant, based off of the above information. You can use these questions to help create that job description:
- Your Name
- Company Name
- Your Blog / Website / Teachable Site
- What tasks are you looking for a VA to assist you with?
- How many hours per week or month will you need assistance?
- What is your budget?
- Is there anything else that a VA should know about you or your company?
Where to find your VA?
Once you have your job description written up, it’s time to start the hunt for the perfect Virtual Assistant.
Here are some of my top recommendations for where you can begin your search:
Personal Referrals: Ask other business owners that you know and trust if they have someone who helps them with their tasks. Personal referrals are a great way to find quality help for your business.
Email your list: If you have an existing email list, this is a great place to start to find the newest addition to your team. These are the people that already know, trust, and follow you. Someone who already believes in the vision of your business could be a perfect fit for you.
Facebook Groups: A great place to turn for finding help in your business are entrepreneurial Facebook groups. Try jumping into groups like The Teachable Tribe that have other business owners and course creators. Ask who has worked with quality subcontractors and Virtual Assistants to help grow their online business.
Marketplaces: Upwork is a great resource for finding quality freelancers and Virtual Assistants. You have the ability to create a personal profile and post specific jobs. You can interview candidates, read reviews of their work, and hire and pay through the site.
How to hire the right Virtual Assistant?
You’ve started the search for a Virtual Assistant and the proposals are coming in—congrats! Yay…this is what we are looking for!
The interview process. As you interview, here are a few questions to ask yourself when searching for that perfect fit:
Are they self-starters?
When viewing the proposals, is there anyone that went above and beyond? Maybe they sent you a very personalized proposal instead of something that was obviously a template. Maybe they did some research into your company before applying. If you can find an individual who exceeds what you asked of them, you can be sure that they will continue to be a self-starter once you are working together full time.
Are they reliable?
It’s difficult to tell how reliable a Virtual Assistant is going to be just from the interview and onboarding process. I normally recommend starting out with a trial month to assess how you work together. Once that’s complete, get together and decide if the working relationship is something you want to continue with.
Also remember, the Virtual Assistant won’t be perfect at his or her job within those 30 days. However, you should be able to assess after one month if this individual is generally reliable and competent to do the job.
Do they have the skills?
Natural skill is an important factor when choosing your Virtual Assistant. Hiring someone to do graphics, you want to make sure that their design work is high-quality. Hiring a copywriter, their work needs to be grammatically correct and easy to read. If you can’t assess the applicant’s skill from the proposal they sent you, perhaps ask them to send over an example of their work or send them a quick trial project.
Onboarding your new VA
Once you have decided who you are going to hire to assist you with your business, it’s time to onboard that new Virtual Assistant.
Here’s the process that I personally work through every time I onboard a new person, and this is just a fancy way of saying “Getting them introduced to my business”.
The onboarding checklist:
Set Up an Initial Meeting: Have an initial meeting to outline the job description and your expectations
Have Clearly Defined Pay and Time Expectations: Make sure you have an understanding of how much you will pay your new VA, what their invoicing process looks like, and how / if they will keep track of their time spent on projects for you.
Sign a Contract: Sign a contract! Even if you will only be working together for a trial 30 days, it is still important to have a contract in place to protect you and your business.
Define a Meeting Schedule: What will your meeting rhythm look like? I recommend meeting via Skype or Zoom once a week to discuss projects, make goals, and review progress.
Set Communication Expectations: How will you communicate throughout the week? Are you available by phone? Can your VA expect to reach you via email? You may want to consider using a tool like Slack or Trello for specific project communication.
Train your VA: Any time a training or explanation is needed for a specific project, I suggest using video. Film an on-screen video to explain what you want to happen in a project. Get your VA on a video call and walk through a specific process with them, so they can see what is expected and answer questions along the way. If your VA sends a long email with detailed questions, consider picking up the phone and talking with them or sending a video with your spoken response.
Remember, effective communication is the key to a healthy Virtual Assistant/Client relationship!
Reminder: You are ready to get started, right?
Here are your Next Steps
If you are ready to take your business to the next level, hiring a Virtual Assistant may be the next best step for you. Let’s get to it NOW!
Throughout this blog on the “How Tos” to OUTSOURCING, I covered what it will take to hire your first or next Virtual Assistant to support your business.
Here are the tasks that you’ll need to complete in order to successfully bring on the support you need (so your business can grow!):
- Understand the Financial Investment.
- Understand the Time Investment.
- Make a list of your MPTs (what you should be focusing on).
- Make a list of the tasks that are not your MPTs (what you should delegate to someone else).
- Decide if you want to hire a generalist or a specialist, domestic or international. Decide your budget at this time, as well.
- Write out a detailed job description for the type of assistance you are looking for.
- Use personal referrals, your email list, Facebook groups, or freelancing sites like Upwork to post your job.
- Interview potential virtual assistants.
- Choose which VA to hire, and onboard them to help you with your tasks.
Now it’s time to take action! Yes, my friend, you are going to grow your business through OUTSOURCING? Right?
Comment below with the next step you plan to take.