Being Unique vs. Being Original: Is There a Difference?
Many people like to think of themselves as unique, and they will even interchange the word unique with being original. But are they the same thing? Can you be unique without being original?
Someone who decides they want to stand out may dress in a style that is outside the norm. If you look at people who adopt the Goth look, they often look similar from one Goth dressing person to the next. They may still stand out in a group that is not necessarily into that style. If they went to a Goth convention (if such a thing exists), no one would stand out. You would see variations, but it would be a common theme.
Perhaps you could be considered unique if you decided to wear all your clothes inside out. LOL!
You may even be considered original by doing this. But, what is certain is, you will get many people giving you a strange look. These looks could be exactly what you are going for.
There are also people who reinvent styles that have existed well into the past. Look at the Steampunk movement that has become popular in the last decade or so. This is a style that encapsulates a period where steam technology dominated the planet.
However, it incorporates modern day technology and fashion. It’s a hybrid of old world meets new.
But among the Steampunkers, for lack of a better term, don’t they all look alike, for the most part? Why not combine Steampunk with Goth? It gives a dark twist to the genre and at least initially, will let you stand out. But what happens when it catches on and everyone starts adopting it?
Is it still considered unique or original?
Take a look at the mindmap below and see where you fit in.
There are always those that try to set trends, either in fashion, technology, or both. The ones that do it often enough are called innovators while those who follow are copycats. It would be difficult to find people who would deny Steve Jobs was an innovator. Many believe that Apple will never be the same without him. Others believe he set the stage for Apple to continue as an innovative company for many years to come.
But, no one knows for sure what the future holds. However, people will continue to try what they feel is new when in fact is often just a variation on an existing theme. It’s like the old saying, the more things change, the more they remain the same!
What do YOU think? I NEED to know, so tell me what you think in the comments below.
Time Tracking for Your Clients
Casey was a virtual assistant who specialized in social media. She enjoyed working for clients but she was hired for a month or two then let go time after time. After noticing this pattern, Casey reached out to a friend in the virtual assistant industry who had spent years serving clients.
Dana, Casey’s friend, explained that often it’s hard for clients to understand exactly what their service provider is doing. “So, they paid you for ten hours of social media help but they don’t know what they purchased unless you tell them. At the end of the month, it’s hard to validate the money they’re paying since they aren’t sure what happened with it.”
Dana went on to recommend Casey do a few key things to improve her time tracking for clients.
Start with a Regular Report
Every week, send a brief email to your client and let them know what you did. Don’t say something vague like, “I spent three hours on your social media.” That doesn’t give the client an idea of what you were doing.
Instead, provide relevant details. You could say, “I spent one-hour uploading 15 posts to your social media scheduler. Then I researched popular Pinterest group boards. I followed the rules of each board then pinned your latest blog post so you can get more Pinterest traffic. I also updated the branding for your Facebook fan page with the new logo we discussed.”
After you share what you did, include any metrics that might be helpful. For example, you wrote a new blog post that resulted in two big sales for your client. Be sure to mention that in your week’s report.
Keep in mind that the results you measure should match the client’s goal. If the client’s goal is to become a social media influencer, then mention that their new video tweet got 103 RTs and 1.5K views on Instagram. If you’re not clear on what your client’s goal is, you need to talk with them. Figure out what it is they’re looking for and develop a strategy to help them achieve it.
Schedule a Review
As a service provider, you want to make sure that you’re spending your time on projects that matter to your client. It’s smart to request a 15-minute call every month. You and your client can use this time to review what you’ve been doing.
This monthly review ensures that you and your client are working toward the same goal. Your client might see what you’re working on and say, “Yes, do more of that please!” or she might say, “No, I want to change direction on this project.”
Tracking Your Time is Good
It’s not just clients who benefit from your time tracking—you do, too! Even if you’re doing an unpaid internship or bartering with someone, track your time.
Plotting how long it took you to complete a task can be helpful so you know how much time to budget for future projects. For example, tracking your time might reveal it takes you an hour to write a blog post but you always thought you could do it in 30 minutes. Now that you have this information, you can block off a full 60 minutes to write without feeling rushed or frazzled.
Casey took Dana’s advice. She started emailing her clients a weekly report and began getting more repeat jobs. This enabled her to spend less time marketing her business and more time doing what she loved—serving her clients.
Discover the best tools for tracking your time when you download your free workbook!
Need help? Check out my new Group Mentoring Program. It will help you in making decisions that will help you in your business.
Acting Like the CEO in Your Business?
(This post is written with humor and fact. You decide which is which.)
Are you running your VA business as a business? Most of us would answer ‘yes’ to this question right away. If you’re NOT you should ask yourself why you aren’t. Aren’t you the CEO?
We get up every morning and we do our client work. We bill our clients once a month usually, sometimes they pay for their service up front.
But that’s not the whole scope of actually running a business. (It’s not?)
It’s a big part of it, of course, but there is much more.
So How Do YOU Act Like a CEO?
Whether your only income is coming from your VA business, or you are working a job and launching or running your VA business part-time, are you devoting your full attention to the details of building a successful business? (I can hear you mumbling under your breath!)
Do you have a daily plan of action that helps you move your business in a profitable direction? Or do you just get up every day and do client work?
A business mentor or consultant might call a business that you are not giving your full attention to, a hobby. (I can’t believe she just said that out loud!!)
It’s not fun to hear, but it might be the truth. Is it true for you? hummmm?
When you seek help to build or grow your business, the first thing your mentor will do is take a quick assessment of your mindset as the owner of your VA business.
If you don’t have the right mindset, no amount of planning or grunt work you do will help you find success. (But I want to be a success!)
Get Into Your Groove
Consider these questions right here:
- Do you know exactly how much money your business is bringing in each month?
- Do you know how much money is going out each month?
- Do you have a business plan and/or marketing plan?
- How many clients do you have, and do you have a pipeline of prospects?
These are some of the things that are important to consider right out of the gate. If you don’t know the answers to these questions, then you aren’t acting like a business owner. (OH NO, how did SHE get into MY head?)
Keep in mind at this mindset stage that the actual pieces of these questions are not the important part – it’s the assessment of where your mindset is that is key here. I call it putting on your CEO hat.
Answer those questions honestly and you’ll know if you have the right frame of mind right now.
Do you need to make adjustments to how you are thinking about your business? Because NOW is the time!
Here are a few tips to help:
Approach each day as the person who makes the decisions in your business. To think like a business owner, you have to think about your decision making. Everything is a decision. (You’ve got that right sister!)
Be confident in the decisions that you make. No one knows your business like you do. Weigh your options and then make a choice. (OH NO I have to make a choice?)
Don’t worry about making mistakes. (Do I make mistakes?) As long as you are monitoring the decisions you make, and ensuring things are going in the direction you had planned, you are doing fine. (OKAY)
It’s Called Pivoting
Change course when necessary. If something doesn’t go as planned, identify why that is, and then change direction to keep your goal or strategy on track. (You know this is easier said than done right?)
Think about driving from your house to the mall. If you use a driving app like I often do, you can see where there is congested traffic ahead, and you can change your route so that you don’t get stuck in the traffic. (So easy for YOU to say!)
Your business is the same. Keeping an eye on things daily helps you to avoid the big problems. (Because BIG problems are exactly what I don’t want!)
Let’s Talk Money
When you see that you aren’t going to have enough revenue in any given period, you must make it a priority to go out and find a new client. (Oh geez, why can’t it just be easy!!)
When you see that your expenses are getting out of hand, you must analyze them and do what you can to keep as much money as possible. (Yes, because I’d rather spend MY money on new clothes! LOL)
You will always need new clients at some point, so recognize that a pipeline is essential to the longevity of your business. (What is this pipeline you’re talking about? I don’t need oil! LOL)
Doing the client work is just a part of your business. If you only focus on that, you will lose the most important piece of being able to shape your business the way you dreamed.
Put that CEO hat on and you will start to see more success and pretty quick too.
Ok, so the point of this article is for you to see that you really need to up your game. You need a plan of action as well as the desire to have a business. You need to be the CEO of your business.
Need help with that? Contact me, yes you should really do that, and let me help guide you into that role of CEO. I have a super great deal for you where you can show up and get all the support you need.
Come on…it’s not THAT hard!
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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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So, Just What are the 5 Steps to Finding YOUR Passion?
What is PASSION? Let me explain it to you. According to Merriam Webster, “passion means intense emotion compelling action. Passion applies to an emotion that is deeply stirring or ungovernable.”
If you want to live your best life and find happiness, then you need to find your passion and follow it. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? It actually isn’t that hard you know. So it’s surprising that so many people don’t do it. They seem happy to just exist rather than living a life of happiness and success.
Am I right?
How many people do you know that just sits on the sidelines and does nothing to create a life that is passion-filled? I bet you don’t even have enough fingers and toes! lol
So, here’s what I’ve got for you today. I know, it’s so simple that a 3rd grader can do it because they actually can still dream!
To change your life for the better and create a future, check out the easy five steps below.
Step 1: Dream Big
Everyone has big dreams. Even YOU! What have you done with yours? Do you think about them, act on them or hide them away?
If you want to find your passion and purpose, then it’s time to dream big. I mean REALLY BIG!!
So here goes, get a piece of paper and a pen. List all of those big dreams you’ve had from childhood to today. No matter how wild or funny, write them all down. Go ahead, I’ll wait!
Which of those dreams resonates most with you? Which makes your heart sing and inspires you the most? Is it realistic and achievable?
If you’ve set your sights on being the first full-time resident of Mars, then you’ll probably need to take another look at your list and find something that is more realistic and achievable but almost as exciting to you! What? You mean I need to dream bigger than this?
Remember, your big dream doesn’t have to be outrageous or huge. It just needs to be big enough to push you out of your comfort zone. And YOU need to be willing to commit to making changes in your life so that you can achieve it. You need to want it. It needs to spark desire and passion in you. You get it right?
Step 2: Set Goals
Oh no…I dread this one! Once you’ve decided what your ideal or dream is then you need to set goals. Your end goal is what you want to achieve; your dream.
There will be other, smaller goals, that you will need to achieve along the way. You need to note these down as well.
You still have your paper and pen right? You mean you threw it away already? What’s the matter with you silly? Now you have to go back to Step 1.
Step 3: Plan Your Way
Ok, now that you know what you want and need to achieve, it’s time to plan what you need to do to get there.
Think about what action you need to take, resources you will need and anything or anyone that can provide help and support. That might even be ME!! You never know right?
Step 4: Take Action
You know what you want, what you can expect from yourself, how you can achieve it and the steps to take. Right? So…It’s time to take action.
Remember you are looking for a passion-filled life. One that fills you with excitement, joy, and success. You can’t just want it, you have to do something to make it happen.
Step 5: Live Your Best Life
Once you’ve started taking action on your goals and plans you will find that your life starts to improve.
Instead of dreading each day you’ll look forward to it with excitement and anticipation.
Your best life is the one that gives you happiness, success, and achievement through living your passion and purpose.
If you want to find and live your passion, then you can follow the five steps above. You can do it on your own or you can give yourself a helpful boost by using a coach or mentor.
And I can help you with that because I’m getting ready to launch my NEW MENTORING PROGRAM. So you’ll want to stay tuned and watch closely for the BIG Announcement….coming soon!
How to Choose a Mentor
What is the definition of a mentor? According to Merriam-Webster, it’s “a trusted counselor or guide”. So, a mentor is someone that motivates you to keep you accountable to yourself and provides guidance. Here’s how to pick the best mentor for your upcoming year…
Who Inspires You?
Start by thinking about who regularly inspires you. Maybe it’s the speaking coach that’s crushing it with her products or the crafty mom who turned her blog into a thriving business that supports her family.
It’s OK if you choose a mentor in a different niche. For example, you may choose a mentor who sells makeup online, even though you’re a brand designer for local businesses. Just because you’re in separate industries, it doesn’t mean you can’t be influenced by her.
Why Do They Inspire You?
As you consider who might be a good mentor, ask yourself why certain people inspire you. It may be they have something you want like a big business, a good marriage, or a great sense of style. It could also be something they already are like an artist, an entrepreneur, a speaker, or a novelist.
Getting clear on why someone inspires you is important. Once you know, you’ll understand yourself better and what it is you want to create more of in your own life.
How Can You Learn from This Mentor?
You can begin learning from your mentor right away. Read her blog and sign up for updates. Watch her video episodes and take notes on the nuggets of wisdom that capture your interest. Follow her on social media and check in on her profile a couple of times a week.
Study what works for your mentor and what doesn’t. Pay attention to how she structures her time and uses her energy. Note her goals and see how she reaches them and what tools she uses along the way.
How Will You Engage?
As you’re learning from your mentor and soaking up her wisdom, don’t forget to engage with her. Comment on Facebook or reply on Twitter. Let her know how much you appreciate the fact that she’s sharing her journey with others just like you.
Look for ways you could hang out with her, whether online or in a virtual space. Sign up for her webinar or attend the conference she’s speaking at. Watch her live streams on Facebook or take her courses.
So, let’s review.
- Find someone that INSPIRES you.
- Why do they INSPIRE you?
- How can you LEARN from her?
- How are you going to ENGAGE with her?
Finding a mentor doesn’t have to be hard or complicated. In fact, there’s probably at least one women that you already admire and can learn a lot from! Yeah…ME!
Transform your year with the help of a business mentor. Discover how by signing up here.